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[FM20] No houses, hotels, or jails. Just a football club. Youth only with Monopoli


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August + September 2025

Cups suck ass.

We're already out of the TIM Cup, though it was nice to see Gianluigi Vannucci (25f) score on his debut.

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We made a pretty special start to the season with six consecutive wins, with at least two goals scored in each game. Particularly pleasing were the wins over Latina, where Francesco Giorno got a hat-trick of assists, and the big win over Avellino 1912, where Giacomo D'Addabbo got a hat-trick of goals. A mention also to Aris Rota, who scored the late winning goals in the two opening matches.

The perfect run came to end with defeat against Vibonese, let's hope that's just a one-off and not the beginning of a slump.

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Not that it means too much at such an early stage, but top of the table is always a good place to be.

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October + November 2025

Cups still suck ass.

The match where we got knocked out was ridiculous. 26 shots (8 on target) compared to their 8 (3) but nothing would go in.

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October's form was a bit indifferent, we were dominating games and making a lot of chances, but not taking advantage of this and not taking full points. Three 1-1 draws shows consistency, but not the kind of consistency you want. We managed to gain three points with injury-time goals though, so we were fighting to the end and not giving up. I've been experimenting with match plans, adding different scenarios to go more attacking in the final five minutes when we're losing or drawing. Whether that's made any difference or not and helped with this I don't know, but I'd like to believe it has.

In November we lost to the league leaders at the time, Cavese, but the rest of the month was filled with wins as we managed to re-find our shooting boots. The star man so far has undoubtedly been Francesco Giorno, already in double figures for assists.

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We've slipped off of top spot but we're still riding high, just one point off top-placed Cavese. We've also scored more than anyone else in the division, averaging over two goals per game. The dropped points against Campobasso were disappointing, they're in the relegation area and we should be beating them handily.

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December 2025

Another member of our first team left this month, as an offer came in for Aris Rota from Qatari side Al-Khor. We initially rejected it and this upset him, and he was already being difficult about a new contract so it was easier to let him leave. We negotiated over double their initial offer, eventually settling for £110,000 plus 50% of the next sale. At 30 he's probably not going to get another big move, but every little helps.

He had been our starting left-back but was often missing due to international call-ups (33 caps for Albania), so this opens up a spot for his deputy Gianluca Avella to claim.

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He had made the sixth most appearances during my time at the club.

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Promising signs here that the improvements are taking effect. Golden generation, players being touted as prospects in multiple positions. As always, fingers crossed for the striker we need.

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An unbeaten month, but one which promised a lot more. We led against both Catania and Palermo, but couldn't keep a hold of the lead. Particularly disappointing to do so in front of the home crowd each time. The one mitigating factor is that they're a couple of strong teams, both up in the top echelons of the table.

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We went top after the win against Vastese, stayed there after the draw with Catania, but then dropped down after the second draw. As the winter break begins we're one point off the leaders.

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January + February 2026

Imolese signed a couple of players whose contracts were due to expire in the summer, saving us the cost of their wages for a few months and even paying us a tiny amount for them. Enrico Zampa had been an important first team player for a while, but a combination of age catching up with him and players with longer-term potential coming through put him out of the reckoning in more recent years. At the time of leaving he had made the seventh most appearances during my time in charge.

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We returned after the winter break with some pretty good form, racking up four wins in five games. During this spell Francesco Giorno, Giacomo D'Addabbo, and Antonio Vannini (20a) all reached double figures for goals.

Then came the Vibonese game which was an absolute disaster. There were a couple of players missing with injury, but the side was still strong enough to get something out of the game. Two players received warnings and two others were fined half a week's wages after this. The Catanzaro match was an improvement but was still immensely frustrating, 28 shots without scoring. But at least we got back to winning ways at the end of the month.

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We've managed to jump back to the top of the table, but it's all very close. Catania have stumbled upon a bad run of form and dropped away. but Cavese are poised ominously just one point below us.

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March 2026

We've had the youth intake through and much to my delight we have a 5.0 star PA striker. We also have another 4.0 star PA striker too, so hopefully they can make an impact. There's also two other 4.0 star PA players, a left-back and a left-winger, both positions I was hoping for so I'm pretty happy with this.

Nationality wise this was a boring year, an entirely Italian group of players, not even any second nationalities.

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Four players who had previously been poached away came through elsewhere, so I'll be keeping an eye on them to see if they amount to anything.

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An inconsistent run of form here, not really what we need when we're trying to remain top of the table. But mixed in amongst this were three wins, all by at least a two goal margin, and just the one loss. Most importantly though, one of those wins was against fellow contenders Cavese, to keep them behind us. So while 11 points out of a possible 18 isn't a great tally, it certainly could be a lot worse.

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Somehow, we still remain top. Our inconsistent form has been matched by our rivals as we pulled further away from Cavese and Catania. Palermo have emerged as our main challengers, but luckily when we've slipped up, so have they. Going into the final four games we have a four point lead, the title is ours to lose.

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The run-ins for most of the top few look fairly equal. Ourselves and Palermo both have three teams in the bottom half, while Catania also face two weaker teams. We host Catania on the final day, and I'm really hoping it doesn't come down to that.

Cavese have the toughest route with four top-half teams, while it would take several epic meltdowns for Reggina to sneak their way to the top.

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48 minutes ago, DaneBramage said:

March 2026

We've had the youth intake through and much to my delight we have a 5.0 star PA striker. We also have another 4.0 star PA striker too, so hopefully they can make an impact. There's also two other 4.0 star PA players, a left-back and a left-winger, both positions I was hoping for so I'm pretty happy with this.

Nationality wise this was a boring year, an entirely Italian group of players, not even any second nationalities.

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An inconsistent run of form here, not really what we need when we're trying to remain top of the table. But mixed in amongst this were three wins, all by at least a two goal margin, and just the one loss. Most importantly though, one of those wins was against fellow contenders Cavese, to keep them behind us. So while 11 points out of a possible 18 isn't a great tally, it certainly could be a lot worse.

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Somehow, we still remain top. Our inconsistent form has been matched by our rivals as we pulled further away from Cavese and Catania. Palermo have emerged as our main challengers, but luckily when we've slipped up, so have they. Going into the final four games we have a four point lead, the title is ours to lose.

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The run-ins for most of the top few look fairly equal. Ourselves and Palermo both have three teams in the bottom half, while Catania also face two weaker teams. We host Catania on the final day, and I'm really hoping it doesn't come down to that.

Cavese have the toughest route with four top-half teams, while it would take several epic meltdowns for Reggina to sneak their way to the top.

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Hope you can finally get promoted, its been a long slog for you. You've inspired me to start a youth academy challenge with deportivo la coruna, really enjoying it so far

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April 2026

We're here. The final month, four more games to decide our fate. Please don't screw it up, please don't throw it away. I can't handle play-offs again.

Game 35

17 shots (5 on target) compared to 3 (0). Yet no goals again. I can't believe how constantly bad we are when it comes to putting the ball in the net. Palermo and Catania both won, the lead is now down to just two points.

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Game 36

We left it late, but we just about picked up the win over Virtus Francaville. I would have been really annoyed if we hadn't won, in 20 previous meetings we'd beaten them 17 times and only lost once.

Unfortunately, Palermo and Catania both won their games too. 

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Game 37 

Antonio Vannini (20a)!!!!! He's just cemented his reputation as a legend to the Monopoli faithful. A cracking performance, two headers and a rocket from outside the area to grab a massive hat-trick. Palermo could only draw, Catania could only draw, we're the champions!

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Game 38

Got thrashed, don't care. Played a load of kids to give them some gametime. 

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CHAMPIONS!

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May 2026

After the main season had ended we then went into the C Super Cup, a three team round robin tournament with the winners of Girones A and B.

We didn't give a very good account of ourselves. We lost to Como despite having three times as many shots as them, then struggled to claim a draw against Spezia. 

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Would have been nice to show at least some degree of competency instead of finishing last with so little fight.

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56 minutes ago, Ronnieekelund said:

Hope you can finally get promoted, its been a long slog for you. You've inspired me to start a youth academy challenge with deportivo la coruna, really enjoying it so far

Thanks, finally got there! Wasn't expecting it from this season, so was a nice surprise. Good luck with Deportivo.

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2025/26 Round-up

Yes, this is what we've been working for. After making the play-offs six years in a row, and failing in the play-offs six years in a row, we managed to avoid this disappointment by winning the league instead. It wasn't easy, we never pulled away at the top and it was only confirmed after the penultimate game, but we finally did it and secured promotion.

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Yeah, I should think so too. 

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We didn't have any facilities improved again this year, every request was knocked back due to a lack of funds. What I really want though, even more then improvements, is an affiliate club for us to send players out on loan. In seven seasons so far we've only had one loanee out, we're just not getting anyone coming in for the young players. I wish I'd loaded up a Serie D file at the beginning to increase the frequency of this.

Our estimated value has skyrocketed with the promotion, but our bank balance is still dreadful and getting worse. The prize money for winning the league made very little difference (£129k), so I hope it's easier to make money in Serie B.

With promotion our wage budget has increased, with good and bad consequences. At the previous amount I was having trouble renewing contracts, as the value I could offer was limited. With the increase I can offer more, but because it's now for a higher division, everyone is asking for more too too.

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2025/26 Player performance

We have to start by talking about Francesco Giorno. While some of the other players in their 30s had reduced roles and effectiveness this year, he instead had his best season yet. 13 goals and 16 assists was an incredible return, and he rightfully won the Lega Pro Girone C player of the year with a whopping 7.43 average rating. As well as being our top assister for a fourth time, he was the fan's player of the year for a seventh time in a row.

Antonio Vannini (20a) needs mentioning too. With 19 goals he had his most productive season so far, not just our top scorer (for a second time) but also the Lega Pro Girone C top scorer. And of course, his hat-trick against Vastese was the performance that clinched promotion.

Aleandro Accardo (22b) stepped up to claim the number one shirt and managed 13 clean sheets, while Onofrio Pili (22j) became our regular right-back. Arcangelo Sicuro (24a) and Simone Trimboli (24b) were given more gametime in the second half of the season, they haven't really impressed yet but hopefully the experience will help them kick-on.

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After his great season Francesco Giorno has extended his lead as our top appearance maker (now 9 games ahead of Mario Mercadante) and has also re-claimed his spot as top assister (6 assists ahead of Daniele Donnarumma). 

Giuseppe Fella has extended his lead as our top scorer, but with his reduced influence on the team I'd expect Antonio Vannini (20a) to overhaul him next season (currently 5 goals behind).

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A few more players started to make an impact for their countries at various youth levels. No Italians yet, when that happens that'll be the sign I have a potential star on my hands.

 

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On 17/01/2021 at 20:09, _Ben_ said:

Enjoying this! Congrats on (finally) winning promotion!

 

On 17/01/2021 at 21:13, Polski97 said:

Eyyy finally :brock:

Thanks both, certainly was a long time coming. I wasn't giving up though, would have gone 50 seasons if I had to.

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2026/27 Pre-season

We're predicted by the media to finish last, we're favourites with the bookies to go down, and when I had the pre-season team meeting with the players and suggested we were good enough to stay up, all of them (apart from three) disagreed. So it could be a long old season. Luckily the board have reasonable expectations and just want us to fight against relegation.

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We lost over 450 games of experience this summer as two of our senior players left. Simone Pecorini was my starting right-back for the first five years, but he'd been phased out of the team over the last two seasons and at 33 it wasn't worthwhile keeping him around any longer. Filippo Oliana was his understudy at right-back. He was always in the difficult position of being a young player at the club when I first joined, so not ready to be the first choice, and by the time he was ready, he'd been overtaken by players from my intakes.

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Simone Pecorini  had made the fifth most appearances under me. Filippo Oliana had made the 13th most, I'm surprised actually by how many games he'd played (though I've just checked and more than half of them were as sub).

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At the end of last season I moaned about not having an affiliate club, so having trouble sending players out on loan. We still don't have an affiliate, but I guess our promotion and increased profile caught the attention, as we now have 10 players out on loan at Lega Pro clubs.

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August + September 2026

Before the league campaign started we had two cup games taking place. Both were against Serie B teams so it was an early test to see how we'd do against sides from the new level, and we passed with flying colours. Nice to see both my starting strikers off the mark early.

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We absolutely burst out of the blocks with three straight wins, smashing Benevento in the process. Our defence was a bit leaky, but while we were outscoring teams it didn't matter. 

Before we could start getting ahead of ourselves we were bought back down to earth with a loss against Crotone, and with three games in the space of nine days we played a rotated team against Hellas Verona. We put a good fight but went down to another loss.

This left us with fresh legs against Foggia though, which I saw as a more winnable game, and indeed it was. We then came up against Como, last season defeating us in the Serie C Super Cup which gave me real worries about how we'd step up to the next tier, but we got our revenge here, completely dominating them and we were unlucky not to win by a larger margin.

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After a great start to the season we sit in 3rd place. I'm not naive enough to think it'll last, we'll almost certainly drop down the table at some point, but I'll enjoy this for now. We're currently the top scorers, though we've also let in quite a few. 

All these early points will help take the pressure off later on in the year, they say that the magic 40 point mark is enough to stay up, and we're almost halfway there already.

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Edited by DaneBramage
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October + November 2026

I know I said in my last update that the good times wouldn't last and a drop in form would come, but jeez, I didn't expect it to be quite this bad.

We've been utterly awful over these two months, picking up just 4 points from a possible 24. The one bright spot was 17 year old Gianluigi Vannucci (25f) somehow bagging himself a hat-trick in a rare start against Triestina. But he then started the next three games and not just did he never look like scoring, the whole team also contrived to not hit the back of the net at all.

The real nadir of this period was a the 3-0 thrashing by Lucchese Libertas. I'd say our strikers had an off day (no goals from 20 shots, just 6 on target), but in reality it's been an off two months. This was especially disappointing as Lucchese were 18th in the league at the time, and the team I'd always slag off when the media questions came up about who I thought would be relegated.

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Like a stone. We've plummeted down the table, dropping nine place in eight games. The only teams in worse form than us are the bottom three. That being said, if you offered me 17th now I'd take it, all I need is three teams to be worse so I hope none of them can get their act together.

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When it rains, it pours. That's our top scorer (6 goals in 17 games) out for the season.

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December 2026

Another golden generation apparently, I'm hoping that the great wide midfielder prospect is different from the good right midfielder, as we could do with a left winger coming through.

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An away game at a midtable Serie A side. I treated this as the long shot it was and sent out the second string to predictably get hammered, and save the first team for the weekend's league game.

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After the terrible run of form through October and November I switched to a 4-5-1 formation to try and change things up, try and add some defensive stability to our performances. It did not go well. I gave it up after two outings.

I went back to 4-4-2 and out of nowhere we massively beat the odds to defeat 2nd placed Cittadella. In the kind of match which makes you complain that the game is cheating when it goes against you they were toothless, not scoring from 21 shots (3 on target) while we were deadly hitting the back of the net 3 times from 11 (7). The confidence rolled over and we comfortably beat Spezia next time out, before going into the winter break with a third successive clean sheet.

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A drastic improvement here as three good results in a row stopped our slump and pushed us back up a couple of places. It's probably still a case of looking down rather than up, but there's a decent gap between us and the relegation area at the moment.

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January 2027

We had three players leave this month, to varying degrees of happiness from me. First was Michele Ferrera. He had been my third choice centre-back for a few seasons and played a lot, whether as a starter or as a sub, but he was barely getting a look in this season. He came to me asking to leave so he could get more playing time elsewhere, and that wish was granted. I offered him out and received a small bit of cash in return for letting him drop down to the Lega Pro Girone B. During my time at the club he had made the 9th most appearances.

Second was Raffaele Morgillo (26b). I'll be honest, I don't really know who he was, he'd only joined in the last intake and had never played for me. But this was the one I most annoyed about, as it wasn't my decision to let him go. The offer of just £31.5k was accepted by the board and off he went, though at least there is the possibility of 40% profit on his next sale. I know we're over £3 million in the red, but income this small makes no dent at all in that.

Lastly was Jakov Gudelj (25a), who was my current third choice centre-back and a player with a ton of potential. But he was also a whiny little bitch, constantly moaning about various things. Whether it's wise to let a second centre-back leave in this window remains to be seen, but for the money offered I couldn't really say no. Sampdoria came in at £225k, I asked for £1 million, and we met at £500k plus 50% of his next sale. 

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The money received for selling Jakov Gudelj (25a) is more than everyone else we've sold so far combined. There are various clauses attached to lots of these players, but so far none have paid out, and none are available to cash in early.

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Boom, back in business. We started the new year in style with three straight wins, and gave our goal difference a nice boost in the process. Antonello Di Corcia (20h) particularly impressed in this spell, with 3 goals and an assist. He probably hadn't played enough in the first half of the season, but he's thriving now and making the most of his opportunities in attack.

Aleandro Accardo (22b) is also coming along nicely, after a little bit of a rocky spell he's managed 5 clean sheets in his last 6 games, and is now up to 9 for the season.

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We've moved up one spot and we're the in-form team in the league. With a 15 point gap separating us from the bottom three I'd like to think we can say we'll be competing in Serie B again next year.

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February + March 2027

Szymon Zuraw (27a) looks like could be a decent player, but with an unambitious personality and low determination I have my doubts that he'll develop well towards his 4.5 star PA. It's a similar story for the third and fourth best players from this intake, so it may be Gerardo De Carlo (27b) and Andrea Riccio (27e) who have the best chances of making it into the senior squad.

As per normal the majority of the intake is Italian, but we've had our first Polish player come through.

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Antonello Di Corcia (20h) continued his purple patch with two more goals, before a cold caused him to miss a game. Upon returning to the team he hasn't scored since. However, his absence and subsequent goal drought didn't cause any immediate problems. We went unbeaten through February picking up 10 points, before a late winner against Triestina extended our undefeated league run to 11 games.

But all good things must come to an end. We had three players missing through injury or suspension against Salernitana, and Edinson Cavani took advantage of that to make a winning start to his managerial career. The Genoa game was fairly even, but they showed their class and why they're top of the league, being clinical in front of goal to smash us 3-0.

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At one point in the month we were as high as 5th, but after the two losses we dropped back down to 7th. I couldn't be happier about how this year has gone, once we got through the autumn slump we've never looked like being drawn into a relegation battle, and now it's a case of just trying to finish as high as possible.

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April + May 2027

The two losses at the end of March quickly turned into four straight losses. I wanted revenge against Lucchese after they spanked us 3-0 earlier in the season, but instead they went one better and put four past us this time.

I let the team know exactly what I thought about that and replaced all rest periods in the training schedule with defence drills for the next week, and maybe that paid off as we kept a clean sheet next time out, even grabbing the full three points with an injury-time winner. 

But it was a false dawn, we didn't get back to winning ways and the season came to a drab conclusion. We played out four draws in the final five games, and the other game was our worst performance of the whole season, getting absolutely destroyed by Cittadella. 

During the final six matches we really were a one man team, as Francesco Giorno scored four times in this period, almost singlehandedly earning us six points.

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With this dismal run I really thought we were going to plummet down the table and fall out of the top half, but somehow we only dropped one spot. The teams around us were on a similarly bad run and failed to overtake us, and we just about stayed ahead of Lecce and Pisa based on our results against them.

I'd missed that there were promotion play-offs when I'd looked at the competition rules, so that's a pleasant surprise. Based on our current form and and our previous play-off experience (six failures), I won't get my hopes up.

Our attack was pretty good, third best in the division. But our defence needs some work, only the bottom three were worse.

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May 2027

Within the last few months we've had a couple of academy players stolen away by Lecce. What does a silver star as potential even mean compared to a gold star? I can only assume it's not as good, so hopefully we're not missing out on any potential superstars here. 

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In the regular season Cesena beat us both times, but a very even game here had its key moment on the stroke of half-time. A reckless challenge saw them reduced to ten men, and later on with the man advantage Giacomo D'Addabbo found space for a tap-in to end his 13 game run without a goal.

Frosinone beat us once and we drew once during the regular season, and in the play-off semi-final we did better than that with two draws. Unfortunately, that still counted as a loss. Ties at this stage are decided by who finished higher in the league, and that was them (4th). It was an embarrassing collapse, we had a three goal lead but our play-off hoodoo kicked in and we fell apart.

Play off-failures: Seven out of seven

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2026/27 Round-up

A much better season than I expected. In our first season in Serie B I thought we'd be fighting to avoid relegation, in the end we actually had a chance of promotion (albeit a very slim one). While a seventh play-off failure of the career sucks, it may be a blessing in disguise. I don't think our squad is particularly strong for the division we're in, let alone for the top flight. We'd have been smashed week-in, week-out in Serie A. Consolidating and getting stronger in Serie B is probably better in the long-term for us.

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I reckon if we had fluked our way to promotion I'd have deserved a statue. Without that though, I'll take the board being delighted.

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There were no improvements again this year due to the poor financial situation. I made regular requests just in case, but they were all rejected. The bank balance is better than last year, but that's mainly due to a few injections of cash from the board and the £500k sale of Jakov Gudelj (25a). Even in Serie B we're still losing money each month, but not as much as we were in the Lega Pro. 

The value of the club continues to fluctuate wildly, we're back down to the low valuation at the moment. That's despite the successful campaign increasing our stature up to national.

A couple of times throughout the season there were rumours of a takeover, but nothing came to fruition. 

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2026/27 Player performance

We had our worst year defensively, as would be expected with the new challenge after promotion. But Aleandro Accardo (22b) still played well, managing 13 clean sheets. and won the Serie B goalkeeper of the year award.

Antonello Di Corcia (20h) got an extended run up front due to injury and finished the season as top scorer for the first time, with 11 goals. 

Francesco Giorno was joint top assister for a third time, but his numbers were down a lot compared to previous years. Nicola Di Pinto and Martino Perrone (22a) matched him on 6 assists.

For the first time the fan's player of the year vote wasn't won by Giorno, after seven years on top he was dethroned and his midfield partner Manuel Molteni (20b) took the prize.

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Francesco Giorno extended his lead at the top of our all-time most appearances list. He's now 21 games ahead of Mario Mercadante, who had his season disrupted by a couple of small injuries. At 33 and 32 respectively they're both still important players and their contracts have been extended for another year, but we'll need to find their long-term replacements sooner rather than later.

Antonio Vannini (20a) would have been expected to become our all-time leading scorer this year, but injury curtailed his season early and prevented this. Nonetheless, the goals he did manage were enough for him to draw level with Giuseppe Fella. The veteran has had a massively reduced impact this season and will be leaving in the summer, so it will take a disaster for him not to be overtaken next year.

Francesco Giorno also extended his lead at the top of the assists chart, now sitting 10 ahead of Daniele Donnarumma. The left-winger is another player who will be leaving this summer, he originally had a one year extension after playing a certain amount of games this year, but he wasn't cutting it in Serie B and has agreed a transfer to play in Serie D next year.

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There wasn't too much international recognition for players that came through our ranks this year. Jakov Gudelj (25a) picked up a few more U21 caps before leaving, while Artion Krasniqi (25n) showed why Albania U19s were wrong to have left him out of the last few squads, banging in 3 goals in 2 games in June.

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2027/28 pre-season

The bookies have us as 19th favourites to go up, the media predict us to finish 18th. I'm happy with the low expectations and lack of pressure, I don't see last year's top half finish being repeated and I'd be happy with avoiding a relegation scrap.

In the pre-season team meeting I clicked the wrong box and asked for a midtable finish, they moaned about that so I went to avoid relegation, they moaned about that so I went to fight bravely, then they were still upset with that. Cowards.

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I had another player poached away by Lecce, the third to them within the last six months.

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A previously poached player was released so I missed out on any bonus.

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Two legends of our time in the Lega Pro left this summer. They had great careers with the club, both amassing over 300 games and over 110 combined goals/assists each, but a combination of age, the step up in competition, and the next crop of players coming through meant their influence has massively waned over the last year.

After many years as our first choice on the right-wing Giuseppe Fella leaves as the player having made the third most appearances under me, our joint record goalscorer, the third most assists, and the second most MOTM awards. His counterpart on the left Daniele Donnarumma made a very similar contribution, with the fourth most appearances, fifth most goals, second most assists, and third most MOTM awards.

There were also a couple of young players with potential who were stolen away. I really need to get better at checking contracts before they get to within six months of their expiry dates.

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Great start. How are you finding the transitioning of some of the older players with the intake players? I sometimes make the mistake of moving them on to quickly whilst the youth team players aren't fully ready which can be a mistake! But sometimes giving them the football earlier really aids development! 

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21 hours ago, deez0r said:

Great start. How are you finding the transitioning of some of the older players with the intake players? I sometimes make the mistake of moving them on to quickly whilst the youth team players aren't fully ready which can be a mistake! But sometimes giving them the football earlier really aids development! 

Thanks.

I think I've done okay with the older players. I've been giving them a year or two longer than I normally would, some still playing regularly at 33, 34, and indeed often being among my best players. 

The issue is with the next generation down. There weren't too many younger players at the club with potential when I joined, or if there were I overlooked them with an eye on my first couple of intakes instead. So there's nobody at the peak age of 25-29 at the moment.

We have two older players in their 30s, then a big gap to players aged 24 (four real players and three newgens), then everyone else is 23 or younger. So I kind of need these last two older players (Francesco Giorno and Mario Mercadante) to keep going a year or two longer in order that there's still some experience around until the 24 year olds come into their prime. 

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Yeah it is a fine balance between getting rid of the old crew to bring in the new. I started in Vanarama National South in my youth only save and luckily enough there weren't many good players so it has made it easier as the facilities have got better to throw some of them in quite quickly. In 2028 now and just in the Championship and the oldest player in my first team is 22 and average age is only 18! But these players are much better than the older players I had when I started!

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August + September 2027

There was time for one more player to leave the club on deadline day, and bring in a big chunk of cash to the club. Andrea Beligni (26c) has a fair bit of potential and made his debut last year, but with our financial situation being so bad we have to accept this kind of money. He's our second largest sale so far. There's also a 50% of next sale clause included, so hopefully that'll come to something in future.

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Cups suck ass.

I weakened the team too much for this tie. The entire starting XI was made up of newgens, I believe for the first time, but even so, there should have been enough talent in the side to at least score one goal against a Lega Pro side. Concentrating on the league again this year then

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We had a great start to the season with wins over Livorno and newly promoted Alto Adige, before picking up a very creditable point against recently relegated SPAL. We then took on a another newly promoted team in Monza and beat them convincingly, but the highlight of this match was Antonio Vannini (20a)'s double, his first goals since returning from a long-term injury and making him our all-time top scorer.

We swatted Ascoli aside easily, but the next game came around too soon. There were a lot of tired legs on the field against Cesena and they ran rings around us, we were lucky to keep the score down to just the two goals, especially when we had a player sent off in each half. I made a few changes next time out, both enforced and due to that bad performance, and we bounced back to end September with a win.

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Still early days of course, but this is a very good start. At this time last year we were 3rd and then went into a slump throughout October and November, so let's hope I can keep the good form going this time.

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October + November + December 2027

Looks like we'll potentially have some talent coming through in the defensive positions, but not much to look forward to at the other end of the pitch.

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If I had to sum up this period in one word I'd go with inconsistent. If I was allowed two more words, I'd add crap defence.

There's no semblance of form at the moment, I'm finding it impossible to predict what the score will be when I press continue. It doesn't seem to matter whether we're home or away, which players I select, whether we're playing strong or weak opposition, it's just a roll of the dice. The result could be anything. The only guarantee is that we won't keep a clean sheet, we've conceded at least once but normally more, 13 games in a row.

At the other end of the pitch it's not much better, our strikers are stinking the place out at the moment. Just seven goals between them over these three months. We're lucky that our midfield, in particular the wingers, are picking up the slack otherwise we'd be in real trouble.

The most rocky part of this was when we conceded four goals in three successive games during November. Getting hammered by Fiorentina is one thing, they've only just come down from Serie A, but getting beat by the same margin by Benevento was shocking. Letting in the same amount to bottom placed Fermana showed new levels of incompetence, luckily the opposition had an even worse defence and we somehow managed to score six times, two goals from each winger, in what I believe is the biggest win so far in this save (or most scored in a single game anyway).

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We're just about holding on and remaining in the mix at the top. None of the teams at this end of the table are playing well at the moment, there's a lot of red and grey in the recent form column, so no one's pulling away. It's all very close, the top six are separated by just five points.

Our goal difference shows that we're definitely overperforming and this may not be sustainable. Our attack is fairly solid, second best in the division, but the defence is really struggling, third worst in the division.

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January + February 2028

Horrendous. We kicked off the new year with a lame draw against relegation threatened Alto Adige, and things just got worse from there. Five consecutive losses, without even getting on the scoresheet in four of them, and we were utterly dire. The Monza loss was my 400th game in charge, so that was pretty miserable. No party here.

I fined a few players, but aside from temporarily upsetting them this didn't help matters. I had a team meeting where I said we need we to get better, and all of them apart from one argued, saying they didn't think we were doing badly. So at least I know now that they're idiots as well as useless.

I even experimented with a couple of different tactics, which I don't like doing as I'm just not very good at them, but that had no effect. I went back to the old faithful 4-4-2 against Palermo, and thankfully we finally won again, our first win in over two months. Antonello Di Corcia (20h) is probably the only player to emerge from this spell with any credit, by no means was he good but he was the only player troubling the scoresheets from open play.

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A big fall from grace, as we've dropped way down to midtable and sit a long way off the top now. On the plus side, with 40 points I'm fairly sure we won't get relegated.

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March + April + May 2028

No 5.0 star PA players this year, but three at 4.5 and another three at 4.0 is pretty decent. An overall better set of personalities too. 

As normal the majority of the intake is Italian, but we have one Moroccan in there, our first new African since 2020.

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One of the academy players that got away came through the ranks at Stade Rennais. Hopefully we'll get a bit of cash from the 5% clause somewhere down the line.

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March wasn't great as we failed to win any games, but at least we didn't fall back into a losing pattern. There were signs of improvement with a clean sheet, and a couple of points picked up.

April was a much busier month and perhaps this helped, as results were a lot better. We won half of our games (on each occasion keeping a clean sheet), and only lost the once. There was also an unexpected good result where we held league leaders Fiorentina to a draw.

We ended the season with a big win out of nowhere. Foggia are a team we normally do well against and they were struggling near the bottom, but to pull a result like this out was a pleasant surprise. Even more so considering we only had 38% of the possession, but it's what you do with it that counts.

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For a long time we were in 10th place in the table, and I thought we were more likely to drop into the bottom half than rise. But the improved results in the final few weeks stopped us falling, and on the final day we clinched 8th place and the last play-off spot for a second year in a row.

We ended the season with the joint second best attack, but the fourth worst defence. Plenty of value in our games if you want to see goals. The big win on the final day meant we just about finished with a positive goal difference.

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Impressive in its own way was our disciplinary record (or lack thereof). Most red cards in the division, most yellow cards for the team, and most yellow cards for an individual (plus joint 3rd and joint 6th). I'm not doing anything to try and make these numbers high, I think it's just a case of us not really being good enough, so having to get by via kicking chunks out of everyone we meet.

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Edited by DaneBramage
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May 2028

Furious. 3-1 up with five minutes to go, conceded in the 86th and 92nd minutes. Eliminated as Spezia finished higher (5th). Pathetic. 

Eight play-off attempts, eight failures.

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2027/28 Round up

Almost a carbon copy of last season. Flying high at one stage before an awful run of form saw us tumbling down the table. Ended in the final play-off position, but failed again. It was even the same result (3-3) that eliminated us again this year, just one round earlier.

Obviously I've have taken 8th at the beginning of the season, but finishing there after being 3rd at the turn of the year is a letdown.

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The board remain happy as we keep finishing way above their expectations.

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No improvements for a fourth year, we really need a big influx of cash from somewhere to get the ball rolling on that again. But it looks unlikely that will happen any time soon, our financial situation is as bad as ever. The only reason it's not worse is the sale of Andrea Beligni (26c) last summer, and the board injecting cash a couple of times.

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2027/28 Player performance

Aleandro Accardo (22b) conceded a lot of goals this season, but was still named in the Serie B team of the year.

There was a bit of a surprise with Nicola Di Pinto being voted the fan's player of the year. This was his first season as first choice on the left wing, with only 2.5 star PA he's not a long-term option, but he did well enough this season with one of just two average ratings over 7.0, and he had our joint best goal contributions with 7 goals and 7 assists. He was matched on 14 goal contributions by Francesco Giorno, still going strong at 34, and he was our top creator (for a fourth time) with 8 assists.

For a second season in a row our top scorer was Antonello Di Corcia (20h), this time with only 9 goals, although his season did end in April due to a thigh injury. Nobody reaching double figures is disappointing. 

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Francesco Giorno continues to lead our all-time appearances list, still 21 games ahead of Mario Mercadante. Both men remain first choice in their positions, which is slightly worrying considering their age.

With his goals this season Antonio Vannini (20a) went from being equal with Giuseppe Fella to being our outright all-time top scorer. In terms of players still at the club, Giacomo D'Addabbo is next with 66 goals, and unlikely to catch up any time soon.

Francesco Giorno also added to his all-time tally of most assists, and is now a long way off anyone still at the club. Next highest is Manuel Molteni (20b) on 27.

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A couple of players got international recognition in their age groups this year, still no Italian call-ups though. 

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Edited by DaneBramage
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2028/29 Pre-season

Our performances over the last two years have been noticed, expectations have ever so slightly gone up. Instead of now battling to avoid relegation, we're expected to avoid relegation. That's matched by the bookies who make us 16th favourites to go up, and the media who think we'll finish 17th.

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Two more young players were poached away, one to the division above us and one to the division below. 

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We missed out on a couple of clauses due to players being released at the end of their contracts. Neither of them had made a single appearance for their clubs. 

I haven't decided what my approach for players poached away is yet, whether they're fair game for me to sign or not, but Valeriano Vitale (25x) looks a bit rubbish anyway so not worth bringing back.

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There was one big sale over the summer. Mauro Bianchi (28b) only came through in the last intake, but there was a bit of a bidding war for him with half a dozen clubs coming up with offers ranging from £65k to £225k (plus bonuses). I offered him out for £2.5 million+ to see if anyone would bite, and Torino came back with £1 million up front plus 50% of next sale. This has doubled my record sale.

None of the players I've sold or had stolen away so far have gone on to have any kind of success anywhere else, so I hope this is one where he does play a lot and impress, as there is a substantial amount of cash still to come if various clauses are met.

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In a rare move we've made a couple of signings this summer, both players that came through in intakes under me returning to the club.

After Daniele Donnarumma left a year ago there was a gap on the left wing. Nicola Di Pinto was okay there and won the fan's player of the year award last season, but I'm happier with him as the main back-up rather than first choice. Raffaele Morgillo (26b) had never played in his two years at Fiorentina, but with the much better facilities there he had improved more than he probably would have here, so when his contract was expiring it was a no-brainer to bring him back. He's still only 19 so one for the future, but should also make an impact on the senior squad this year.

During pre-season Mario Mercandante suffered a hip injury putting him out of action for a few months, which left us weak at centre-back. Jakov Gudelj (25a) was available on loan from Sampdoria, so again it was a no brainer to bring him back in. He'll likely be a regular starter, we don't really have anyone else ready to step up into this role at the moment.

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August + September + October + November + December 2028

Another golden generation apparently, but this seems to be telling us there are more players that won't be good enough than those with potential.

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Another bonus missed out on with a poached player being released.

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Cups suck ass. An experimental eleven scraped past some nobodies, before we were knocked out by a Serie A side.

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We made an excellent start to the season with an opening day victory over recently relegated Parma, Raffaele Morgillo (26b) pleasing me with a goal on his return to the club. We kept the good times going with some cracking results through August and September, managing six wins from our opening seven matches. Antonello Di Corcia (20h) was on fire in mid-September, netting five times in eight days.

Our form stuttered during October and I thought we were about to collapse, with three successive draws being followed by a loss. 

But we kicked it up a gear in November and got back to winning ways, with five victories in the next seven matches. Antonello Di Corcia (20h) hit another purple patch, scoring four games in a row, and reached double figures for the season already.

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When last year's winter break began we were third with 36 points from 20 games, so we're slightly better off this year. Not just one position higher, but we reached that tally from two games fewer. Of course our second half was a lot weaker last time and we fell dramatically down the table, so that's what we have to avoid now.

The most significant improvement though is in our goals conceded, averaging 1.0 goals per game compared to 1.65 goals per game last year. Hopefully that's a good sign and we can keep it up.

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January + February 2029

Absolutely infuriating. For a second year in a row we return from the winter break and just don't get going. Any good work from the first half of the season, just completely pissed away. 

20 shots and 63% possession against Parma, 23 shots and 58% possession against Juventus U23. Unacceptable. Absolutely no excuse for losing to a junior team in the relegation area.

Our strikers can not hit a barndoor. I'll give Gianluigi Vannucci (25f) some credit for his hat-trick against Paganese, but then I have to question why he and the others are so rubbish the rest of the time.

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From one point off the top to six, and we've been leapfrogged by half a dozen teams. We can not do consistency, every year there comes a stage where we just go to pieces and freefall down the table.

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2 hours ago, DaneBramage said:

January + February 2029

Absolutely infuriating. For a second year in a row we return from the winter break and just don't get going. Any good work from the first half of the season, just completely pissed away. 

20 shots and 63% possession against Parma, 23 shots and 58% possession against Juventus U23. Unacceptable. Absolutely no excuse for losing to a junior team in the relegation area.

Our strikers can not hit a barndoor. I'll give Gianluigi Vannucci (25f) some credit for his hat-trick against Paganese, but then I have to question why he and the others are so rubbish the rest of the time.

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From one point off the top to six, and we've been leapfrogged by half a dozen teams. We can not do consistency, every year there comes a stage where we just go to pieces and freefall down the table.

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Can't wait to see the end of the season:eek:

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March 2029

I forgot to take a screenshot of the youth intake, but here they are a couple of months later.

I think when they first came through the top three were all listed as 4.5 PA, they've now split out slightly into 5.0, 4.5, and 4.0. Disappointingly two of these chaps have terrible determination. Behind them there's another chap on 3.5 PA, though judging by the (29i) marker at the end of his name must have been rated lower when he first emerged. The rest don't look like they'll ever amount to much.

As normal we have a lot of Italians, the exception being one Argentine for my first south American.

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After ten intakes here's a breakdown of all the nationalities we're seen so far. Albania is the only other nation we've had more than one player come from so far.

Of the players from other nations only Jakov Gudelj (25a) (Bosnia & Herzegovina/Croatia) has made any kind of impact on the first team, and that was after being sold and then loaned back to us.

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For the second time in this career there's been a board takeover. Various rumours had been flying around for 18 months of so, and I was glad when it finally happened. Our negative balance was wiped out with an investment of £2.5 million and a loan of £1.1 million, giving us a positive balance for the first time in nearly nine years.

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Of course, I then set about trying to get as many improvements as I could while. Youth recruitment was improved and work on our youth facilities has begun.

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We also finally got ourselves an affiliate club in Fasano. They're rubbish (Serie D, basic training, poor youth), but it's a start. At least it's somewhere we can loan younger players out to for first team experience. 

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March + April + May 2029

If this was a normal save and not youth only I'd have transfer listed everyone by now. 

Just so bad. 11 points from a possible 36. So bad. There were a few bright spots, mostly from Antonello Di Corcia (20h), but this was mostly just varying displays of incompetency.

In each of the last two games we were missing three players due to accumulated yellow cards, and we got hammered both times. On the final day we were smashed 6-2 by Juventus U23, which I think is the biggest loss of this entire career so far. They were relegated in 19th place, only managed four wins all season, yet half of them were against us. I fined three players a week's wages after this. Two of the players took it without complaint, but the goalkeeper tried claiming he'd had a good game. Moron. Even more annoying was this fella scoring a hat-trick against us. Which just seems massively unfair.

Spoiler

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Just embarrassing. From 2nd at the winter break to finishing in 11th, not even making the top half, and for the first time in this career not being involved in the play-offs (other than they year I won the league outright). 

From our first 18 games we averaged 2.0 points per game. Keep that up and we would have been promoted in 2nd place. Instead our points per game over the final 20 matches was a pathetic 0.95, which over a whole season would have seen us involved in the relegation play-out. A really dismal collapse.

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2028/29 Round-up

The worst season of my career so far.

On the plus side, at least I didn't add to my long list of play-off failures.

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Considering the expectations at the start of the season were to avoid relegation, this seems a little harsh. Then I remember it's a new board and all they've seen is the terrible March-May spell and none of the good stuff from before. This was actually showing an E for a little while, which had me worried for a bit.

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After three years in Serie B our reputation has taken the bump up to 2.5 stars. We've also had our first facilities improvements in five years, with our youth recruitment now up to excellent.

Because of the recent takeover our financial situation is the best it's been in a long time, but our bank balance is already going back the wrong way.

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Edited by DaneBramage
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2028/29 Player performance

For a second year in a row Aleandro Accardo (22b) conceded more than a goal a game, but was still voted the Serie B goalkeeper of the year.

Antonello Di Corcia (20h) matched him by being voted the Serie B forward of the year, and was also our top scorer for a third time with 14 goals. Antonio Vannini (20a) was the only other player to reach double figures, grabbing his 10th goal of the campaign on the final day.

It was a good year for the class of 2020, as Manuel Molteni (20b) won our fan's player of the year award, and was top creator with 8 assists. The wingers were all very disappointing in this regard.

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Francesco Giorno has now reached 399 games for club, but with his impending retirement in the summer he won't be reaching 400. Assuming he can hold on one more season and doesn't suffer another big injury, Mario Mercadante will overtake him next year if he makes at least 13 appearances.

Our all-time top scorer Antonio Vannini (20a) added 10 more goals this year to reach a total of 89, which will hopefully see him bring up the century next year. Giacomo D'Addabbo is his nearest rival still at the club on 67 goals, but after just the single goal in 20 appearances this year he is in my bad books and I'll be trying to get rid of him this summer.

Francesco Giorno didn't add any more assists to his all-time total this year, but still remains our record assister by a long way. Of players still at the club, Manuel Molteni (20b) is a considerable distance behind on 35 assists.

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Three players with international recognition at U21 and U20 level this year.

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I know lots of people around here love a goalscoring keeper, but this was a bit of a surprise. I assumed I'd cocked up my team selection at first.

Had started my second choice goalie between the sticks for the first cup game of the season. A midfielder got injured in the 21st minute, so my new AssMan had the brainwave of bringing on the first choice goalie and moving Bernardo La Torre (26h) into midfield. Lo and behold, just before half-time he pops up at the back post to power in a header. Even sweeter is that it was part of a big victory over Juventus U23, a team that humbled us twice last year.

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2029/30 Pre-season

Same expectation as last year, just don't get relegated. Bookies make us 19th favourite to go up, media prediction is that we'll come 19th, I want to get back into the top half.

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We missed out on a sell-on clause when a player we'd previously sold was released after one season.

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But we did claim some cash as we sold a couple of clauses I didn't think were going to come in. We were due 15% of the profit on the next transfer for Alessandra Simeoni (23a), but there's been no interest in him so I took £65.7k for this. We'd also be due £60k after 40 games, but after just one appearance in six years this was never happening so I also sold that clause for another £42.58k. This has tripled the total money we received for him, and pushed him up to fifth on the all-time biggest sales list.

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Four players from the senior squad left this summer, three released and one retirement.

Alessandro Zaza was never a regular starter, or even came off the bench to play in midfield that often either. I probably kept him around a season or two longer than really needed in order to not overhaul the squad too much as the academy players started coming through.

Gianluca Avella was our second choice left-back at first, and then moved up to being the regular starter in our promotion season and first year in Serie BKT. I just never really liked him, his attacking output isn't very good and last year he barely played. An easy decision to let him go, I'm just surprised he had made so many appearances. Nicola Di Pinto was in a similar situation, second choice throughout the duration of our Lega Pro spell, then first choice for one year in Serie BKT. Surprisingly he won our player of the year award that season, but it was a one-off and last year he was back on the bench. Again, I'm surprised he played quite so much (though over 40% were as sub), and his goalscoring rate was quite decent.

But the headline news was the retirement of Francesco Giorno. In 2028/29 his influence was much reduced, but he'd made himself a legend for the club over the previous nine years. He's made the most appearances for Monopoli, was the fan's player of the year seven times, top of the all-time assists list, more MOTM awards than anyone else, and had scored more than half a century of goals. He was also the Lega Pro player of the division in our promotion campaign. A huge part of the upward momentum of the club, he'll be missed and it's a shame he's retired from football entirely and not sticking around as a coach.

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Edited by DaneBramage
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August 2029

There was one more player that left us on deadline day, after a bit of a transfer saga that had gone on a few weeks. 

Lecce started the bidding war with an offer of £250k, but I pointed towards Aleandro Accardo (22b)'s release clause of £2.9 million. They came back in with a higher amount, as did Brescia and Leeds, but none of the offers went over £1 million. The player was unsettled and put in a transfer request, at which point Brescia blew the other offers out of the water with £2.7 million plus 50% of next sale. I had to accept it at that point, massive money for us and more than all of our other sales so far combined.

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Spoiler

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Cups suck ass.

We got a small measure of revenge on Juventus U23 with a big win (complete with goalscoring goalkeeper Bernardo La Torre (26h) as seen two posts above), but then got knocked out on penalties in the next round. 

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We opened the league season with a pretty embarrassing loss, being defeated at home by Paganese. We'd won all seven of our previous encounters against them so it should have been a banker.

Luckily we followed this up with a win, and we handed out a classic FMing. Gianluigi Vannucci (25f) scored the early winner with our only shot on target, before Bernardo La Torre (26h) was the hero of the day with 11 saves to secure a clean sheet and victory.

Not worth taking a screenshot of the league table at this stage, but we're 9th after two games.

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I'm loving this save and always admire the dedication and patience people have with saves like this, especially when it takes so many heartbreaking play-off losses in Serie C. 

Do you have just the Italian leagues loaded in order to be able to go through seasons quicker?

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