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Season 22: Lech Poznan

PKO Bank Polski Ekstraklasa

November - December

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Bayern drew their final group game against Ajax, which was a relief since they had the head-to-head advantage and meant we finished ahead of them. Elsewhere, we're just ploughing on. Our backups are quite a lot better - overall, at least - than really anything our opponents can put on the pitch, and it shows.

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Inter are one of the trickier teams we could have got in the Knockouts, but we were comfortably better than them last season, so I'm hoping a repeat win is on the cards. We have a fat cushion to Wisla in the league and that looks all over already. We've also got yet another second-tier team in the Cup, which is nice and makes me think we'll set a new goalscoring record for the competition by the end of the season. 

Player of the Update

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Wozniak is one of our youth products who came through with a 4.5* PA rating. He's now sitting at 4* (and I suspect that's a little high), but he's good enough for us to have started giving him some game time. So far, it's just a couple of league starts, but he's played 90 minutes in both games and got 7.1 and 7.6 ratings, so that's nice! We're having to play him at DL because of his Jumping, which has only improved by 1 in 18 months, but if that can creep up to 11, we can maybe shift him to DC.

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Season 22: Lech Poznan

PKO Bank Polski Ekstraklasa

Winter transfer window

Players sold

Two major sales in January. Firstly, Gianfranco Del Favero left for Dortmund for £24m. I wanted more for him, but they weren't going to stretch to much more and with 18 months left on his contract, it seemed an appropriate time to bank £18m of profit. An excellent player for us, but not exactly impossible to replace, as you'll see.

Secondly, and 'finally' in more than one way, Bartlomiej Frydrych agitated his way to a move to the Petrol-Sniffing Goombas. Like Dortmund, they didn't seem to want to pay a lot, but we negotiamagated our way to £30m + 50% ONS. His performances had been pretty bad for us this season (relatively, anyway; getting an Average Rating below 7 in our team is simply appalling), so even though he's very hard to replace, it wasn't a bad deal.

Players signed

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Roger is why I was content to let Del Favero leave. He's basically the same player, but with slightly worse mentals and much better physicals. We paid his MFRC of £17.25m, and happily so.

Bosko was signed on the back of a glowing scouting report and although he'll probably cost the club £5m (how TSC are in a position to bargain that heavily, I have no idea), he should be worth it if he improves from what's a solid base.

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Marvin Benard's Determination and Personality are absolute garbage-tier, but everything else - including the £500k we paid OC Charleroi to sign him - are great for his age. Mentoring and game time will hopefully do the trick.

Vitor Martins was signed for £13.25m on deadline day as - again - we scrabbled around to plug a gap at full-back. Neither my scouts or coaches think he's great, but whatever; he's freaking Roadrunner. Meep meep.

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Season 22: Lech Poznan

PKO Bank Polski Ekstraklasa

Youth Intake

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Poopy. Maia isn't awful, but also isn't good. [shrug]

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We did get some luck on our way to the Champions League final. Daza was outstanding in the Semi-Final first leg, getting a round 10.0 between the sticks, and Rymaniak twice popped up late on with a brace - in that game, and also in the second leg against Barcelona. I thought we had a decent chance against Real Madrid, but Victor Martins got called up to the U20 World Cup (because '**** you', I guess) and Canobbio got injured shortly after our last league game. With a makeshift backline, Real did what Real will do. 

 

Anyway, my interest levels in Poland have been on the wane. I went into the season thinking it would be my last at the club, and nothing changed my mind. I've arranged a bunch of future transfers for some talented youngsters, and renewed a bunch of contracts, so that whatever dickwit takes over and inevitably sells half the squad will at least raise a lot of money in the process. 

Time to move on.

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Season 23: KMSK Deinze

Belgian First Amateur Division

I took over with Deinze languishing near the relegation playoff zone. They'd won their first 3 league matches, then failed to win in their next 10, although they did get 3 points from the match immediately before I took charge. 

The club is in financial trouble - over the wage budget and hit -£1m before the end of the season. Some talent in the team, though, and the facilities aren't awful (yet).

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My staff recommended going 4-2-4 given the players at the club, so I did. You don't get many 0-0s playing 4-2-4. We had a much better second half of the season than the first half had been, 

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 But it wasn't enough to get us into the Promotion Playoff. Losing out on goal difference would have hurt, if I'd been in charge the whole season. As it was, it was a shrug and an "Eh, whatever". We achieved the board goal of finishing mid-table. And we even got a board takeover as the season ground to a close - they took out a £1.3m loan for the debt and gave me a transfer budget going into the summer (which I immediately transferred into my wage budget). 

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Not horrific, but hardly a golden generation, Rafik Marty, you scamp. I'm signing as far down as Kenny De Coninck. 

 

The plan for the summer is to try to cull the players on high wages. There are 5 players earning more than £1k p/w and that isn't sustainable. They're our best players, for sure, but there are 230,000 players in the save at the moment and that means there's a very good chance we can replace them with as-good or better players, for much less money. And if we can make some money through sales, even better.

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Season 24: KMSK Deinze

Belgian First Amateur Division

The immediate plan for the summer was, as mentioned above, to trim the wages and bring in reinforcements.

I may have gone overboard.

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Patrick was a one-man-club before signing for us, racking up 161 league appearances as Kaiser Chiefs' mostly-backup GK. We needed an upgrade in goal, and he should be that. For one season, anyway. 

Joao Mendes is far too good for the team, and I have no idea how we signed him. I mean, I do - he was on an Amateur contract in Portugal, and we offered him £500 p/w - but still. Don't be surprised if he leaves in January. 

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Georgian castoffs were a source of some of our recruitment. How good they were going to be was something of a mystery when I offered the contracts, so I was very pleased with Endeladze and happy enough with Kirtadze.

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Kusnandar looks like a good player for our level. He had a busy summer, too, playing - well, mostly running around the pitch fruitlessly - in the World Cup as Indonesia were disassembled by Italy and Croatia.

Giovannini has made a bunch of sub appearances in the top tier for Oostende and was brought in to be a bit more of an aerial threat than Kusnandar. Scored gobs of goals in pre-season, too.

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Antonio doesn't look like anything special at the moment, but does look like he's got potential to improve a fair bit. He actually started a game in the Spanish Second Division last season, which... yeah, I guess Extremadura had a small squad.

Cedric Gnouma was signed after our first-choice AML was sold to Vitesse. He can play up top or at AM/RLC. 

 

Honestly, there are others, but this is stupid enough for now. I've still got some capacity in the wage budget, but I'd rather save that for now.

 

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No league games in August, but we had 3 runarounds in the Cup. FC Juve Maasmechelen are not a good team. 

 

Overall, I think we're strong enough to have a decent go at the league. I don't know if we're good enough to win it or get promoted though, and with £3.5m of debt still hanging over the club, we're still in a position of needing to accept decent offers for players, so we could be scrabbling around in January again. 

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Season 24: KMSK Deinze

Belgian First Amateur Division

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We've had an excellent first half of the season, and find ourselves top going into the Winter Break, 9 points clear of Lokeren-Temse and with a game in hand. The two games against Club Brugge's youngsters stand out as highlights not just because they've got some very good players (for this level) in the squad but also because the two games were almost exact opposites - we bossed the Home game and won comfortably; we really struggled in the Away game and should have lost comfortably.

Performances-wise, Giovannini and Kusnandar are leading the line in terms of goals. Assists are being spread around a bit more, but our Dutch AML hurt his baby cow against Heist and will be out for a while, which is a bit of a nuisance. I've also brought in a couple more kids on non-contracts, and a little more cover at DC - for the game against Hoogstraten neither of our first-choice players were available due to international duty and we were pretty ropy at the back. So I signed this guy:

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Nothing spectacular, but looks like a very solid option to have at this level.

 

We've also had our Youth Intake preview, courtesy of our AssMan (who has since been removed from doing that particular job):

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This doesn't suggest a lot of depth, or range, but that's not really the point at the moment. 

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Season 24: KMSK Deinze

Belgian First Amateur Division

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Our excellent form mostly continued through the second half of the season. The back-to-back defeats against Tienen and VW Hamme weren't a surprise - both teams are pretty good. As you can see from the tables below, we went into the Promotion Playoff in a very strong position and although our performances weren't as impressive as they had been earlier in the season (as expected; we were playing the other best teams in the league), there were no alarms and no surprises. 

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The Youth Intake came through and was pretty bad:

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The personalities overall were better, though, hopefully in part due to the influence of our new HOYD who was chosen because he's a Model Citizen and certainly not for his wretched visible attributes. I signed maybe 4 of the players, because a good personality means nothing when your playing skills can be compared to runny *******.

Overall, a very nice season and mission very much accomplished. The club has turned Pro, which in turn makes it much easier to bring in triallists so I can work out how big of a cull of the playing staff I'm going to have. Helpfully, a few of the players seem to think they're good enough to play for bigger clubs, which will make it easier to get rid of them. The better performers will hang around unless we get a good offer for them, because the club is still in a financial hole. 

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Generally, I was happy with the six guys with average ratings in the green (except backup GK Banjaqui) and would like to keep them around (although Kusnandar is probably the weakest of them). Adams had a good season between the sticks but is 36 now, so he'll be leaving. The loanee DL was also very solid, but is too slow to be an option for me going into next season. 

I've already started bringing triallists in - at the moment, it's the best of what's still unattached from the Scandis and Brazilians discarded in November/December. The plan is to keep doing that until the end of June and then see what's available once clubs have their end-of-contract clearouts. I'm aiming for mid-table next season, so we do need some reinforcements. 

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Season 25: KMSK Deinze

Belgian Pro League B

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Making over a million in sales was nice. Endeladze and Joao Mendes were the subject of bids early on in the window - the board accepted a £1m bid for Mendes, but he turned the offer down (thanks!) - but Kortrijk came back later on for Endeladze with the money I'd held out for. I could have got more, but the club is still in a poopy financial position and £1m is good money for us. Kirtadze wanted to leave due to me promising him a new contract and then balking at his demands - Loko Tblisi ponied up £375k but asked us to pay £120 p/w for the rest of his contract (1 year, which equals around £6k.) I'd have accepted a lot less. Elsewhere, a few clubs bulked out their youth teams with the dregs of ours - all of those freebies were on Amateur contracts; none apart from Banos looked to be much good.

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Sandile Ngcobo was a bit of a punt - he played 13 games in the Superleague last season and had U20 caps, so I figured he'd be good. He is.

Sukhurochenko wasn't the best DC we tried to get in after a trial, but the other 3 candidates ended up at bigger clubs. Annoying, but Yury isn't bad by any means - he'll mostly play at DR, where we're lacking quality. Steep wages, mind.

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Goncalves has experience at our level and I like an attacking midfielder (note: not necessarily an Attacking Midfielder) with bags of pace. Should be good, and we lacked depth at MC after selling our two Georgians. 

Borrelli got a sackful of goals for a non-league Argentinian team last season, and has already been signed for actual money, when that team paid £56k to Lanus three years ago. He runs around a lot, and does so rather quickly.

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Toloza's Current Ability star rating is, like, 90% derived from his Physical attributes, but whatever. Run around mate.

Yacob will probably play mostly from MC as long as there aren't too many stiff breezes to blow him over. I like how these two are completely different players, right down to their personalities. 

 

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Weird start to the season in terms of scheduling games - we didn't play in the Belgian Cup 4th Round, which is why we started with a league match. We got lucky against Oudenaarde, but we'll need a fair amount of luck as the season goes on.

 

I'm not quite finished with transfers yet, and hope to bring a couple more midfielders and at least one DR in before the end of September. 

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Season 25: KMSK Deinze

Belgian Pro League B

Christ this league is boring. Play a game, then wait 2 weeks for the next one. I really want to get promoted this season, if only to wake me up.

As I said in the last update almost 3 weeks ago, I still wanted to improve the squad. So I did.

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Iriarte came in on a free from Osasuna's B-team. Solid as a midfielder and has a bit going forward as well, which is nice. 

Gunnilstam was released by Hammarby - we actually have decent options at AML, but none we'll be able to sell for £1m+, which is basically Richard's job. 

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Gunnilstam wanted a friend, so I signed Bengtsson. Again, no real weaknesses; it was a choice between him and another Swedish DC, but I liked Mattias' Tackling more than the other guy.

Kim Andersen actually came in on a trial in the summer, but at the time his wage demands were too high. A few months sat at home playing FM and fruitlessly checking his phone for messages, and he was happy with something more reasonable.

 

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September had me a little worried, but we've turned it around. We're not as talented as other teams, but alternating between the 4-2-4 (for Home games, mostly) and 4-2-3-1 seems to be working. There's definitely some good fortune going our way in terms of results, but the team are happy and with a young team, they're more or less getting better every match. 

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It's comforting, seeing OC Charleroi at the bottom, stinking things up. Pretty much however badly the rest of the season goes, we're not getting relegated at least.

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Season 25: KMSK Deinze

Belgian Pro League B

A few more signings to comment on:

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I still really wanted more depth in midfield, and although Böckler here isn't immediately impressive with his attributes (not his Technical ones, anyway), he's two-footed and should get a fair amount of improvement yet.

Ngcobo broke his jaw cage-fighting in a training accident, and with his backup not being very good, I brought in Expedito on loan until the end of the season. We'd had him on trial as his contract was due to run out, but I guess Fortaleza renewed it.

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Andrej was a free agent in the Slovakia U-18 squad, so we trialled him. My coaches all thought he was *******, but I disagreed. They now think he has 4+1* PA. Geniuses. :seagull::seagull::seagull:

Armand was someone we paid actual money for - £10k to rescue him from Union SG. We've got plenty of DCs, so I loaned him out to help rescue Grenoble from the relegation zone in Ligue 2.

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Imagine Usain Bolt (in his prime, ofc) sprinting at full pelt, and then - Oh No! Disaster!! - he trips over his shoelaces, falls flat on his face and slides with skin-disintegrating, stubble-obliterating certainty, towards the finish line, crossing it fractionally ahead of second place. That was us.

We will pick ourselves up, stick a plaster on the seeping wounds where the skin's been ripped away, and hope that there's some money to be earned from merely being in the top tier. 'cos we're broke again. Also, realistically, our players aren't good enough. They were barely good enough for this division. 

Youth Intake

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Yavuz Zeybek is good. Everyone else - and I mean everyone else - is bad. Tony De Keyser could maybe be a third-tier player in a few years, but what's the point?

That said, Yavuz Zeybek is actually pretty good. The only concern is whether he's high-CA, low-PA. But that's for the next couple of years to reveal.

 

Summary

Only  three players got higher than a 7.0 average rating for the season - Bengtsson, Mendes and Iriarte. Which is kind of impressive, when you win the league. Another sign that we weren't very good. Goals were spread around - Kusnandar, Iriarte and Machuca (a freebie summer signing) all got 6, but Borrelli led the way with 12 from AMR. Most of our players only made incremental improvements to their attributes across the season, but I'm putting that down to my near-pathological fixation on trialling every bugger who crossed paths with one of my scouting team, because that really diluted the effectiveness of our coaches. 

For next season, thankfully, I've been able to hire a new coach, which is nice. We've also got a couple more scouts, who will hopefully find us some players who are A) affordable; and B) good. Which is something they struggled with this season.

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