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


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September + October 2029

Some good news to start the month, improvements to the youth facilities have been completed.

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Some bad news for the rest of these two months, we've been utterly appalling. Just 6 goals scored in 9 matches, and a whopping 20 conceded, earning just 5 points from a possible 27. It would have been even worse had Palermo had not missed a penalty.

It's impossible to state just how woeful we've been. After the Cremonese, SPAL, and Foggia losses I handed out a total of 12 fines. Morale is rock bottom, we're bouncing between different formations trying to find anything that will work, but nothing's happening.

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For the first time in my career we're bottom of the table, and I can't see this changing any time soon. We look incapable of providing any sort of quality.

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On 04/02/2021 at 09:12, Toin said:

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?

Thanks. Getting out of Serie C was a pain but in a way it was a nice target to have, after the first two or three failures it spurred me on to keep going until I managed it.

Serie B is more frustrating, we're just not strong enough to compete near the top, so even in the spells where we've looked good a collapse has always been just around the corner. This season we're apparently avoiding that by just being terrible from the start. Can't plummet down the table if you're already last. :seagull:

I have a few top flight European leagues loaded, as well as Brazil, USA, China, Australia, and South Africa. It's going pretty fast as I'm using instant result. 

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November + December 2029

Another golden generation apparently. A lot of green here which hopefully is a good sign. Although on recent form I might not even see them come through...

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We missed out on any sell-on clauses for a couple of previously poached and sold players.

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I settled on a 4-5-1 formation, and in one of the tactics reports that pop up advice was given to lower the line of engagement. I don't really know what that means, but I did it anyway and it seems to have had some effect. 

Through November and the start of December we managed to reduce the number of defeats we were racking up. We still weren't winning games, but we were at least picking up a few draws and getting some points on the board. Then we got hammered by Livorno and my job status dropped to insecure, and the board's happiness dropped to a D. At this point we were on a run of 13 games without a win, had been bottom of the table for over a month, and I was really starting to think my time at the club might be coming to an end sometime soon.

Luckily our next game was against the side just above us in the table, Alessandria. Despite a first-half sending off a quickfire pair of goals gave us our first win in ages to move off the bottom. Against Brescia our old keeper Aleandro Accardo (22b) stopped us scoring but considering how things had been going a draw wasn't the worst result in the world. 

To end 2029 we had a six-pointer against Pisa, 17th versus 18th. If we'd lost there would have been a bit of a schism opening up between us and survival, but to my great relief we scored the only goal of the game, and jumped above Pisa in the process.

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It's still not pretty viewing, we're a long way off of our performances in the last three years and nowhere near the top half position I wanted, but at least we've pulled ourselves out of the relegation area and have given ourselves a fighting chance.

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Edited by DaneBramage
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January + February + March 2030

A really strong looking intake, probably the best so far. Three players with 5.0 star PA, another three with 4.5, and then another three with 4.0. Not to count my chickens before they hatch, I'm under no illusions that all nine will make it through to the first team, but this batch should offer at least a few who could make it into the senior squad.

As normal the whole group is made up nearly entirely of Italians, but there is also one Albanian in the mix. That's the third academy graduate we've had with Albania as either their first or second nationality. No idea why that's so, we don't have any Albanian staff or feeder clubs.

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Five poached players came through in other club's intakes, including three at Lecce.

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Two steps forward, one step back.

We came out of the winter break with an okay draw against a top half team, before going on an impressive run of three straight wins (our first consecutive wins in five months). The 5-0 win over Ternana obviously looks the most spectacular, and could indeed turn out to be the most important with them also struggling near the bottom, but the best performance was a battling display to earn full points against third placed Chievo.

Then we just went rubbish again. We've had a few injuries and suspensions over the last few weeks, but there's no excuse for falling apart to such an extent. Alto Adige and Sampdoria both completed the double over us, before Palermo, a side we've regularly beaten in the past swept us aside easily. I thought we'd get back on track hosting Cremonese, 19th at the time, but we were just impotent in front of goal. The run without a win stretched to six games, and we were lucky not to lose against Foggia as they missed a late penalty.

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I'm really disappointed with this. After the win over Chievo we had jumped up to 12th in the league and were 8 points clear of the bottom three. But instead of taking advantage and pushing on we've instead slumped right back into the relegation mix.

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Edited by DaneBramage
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April + May 2030

Bit of an exodus from our youth academy, as four players were poached away this month.

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April was really bad. It seemed like I was the only person who wanted to avoid relegation, and that the players didn't care either way. We were leading 2-0 after just ten minutes against Monza, but still lost. We were holding Verona to a draw, until we had a late sending off then conceded twice during stoppage time. For the second time this season we were on a run of more than ten games without a win.

I changed tactics again, to a different 4-5-1 variant and it had an immediate effect as we unexpectedly smashed play-off contenders Livorno. We should have followed that up with another win against already relegated Alessandria, but despite 64% possession we had a bad day in front of goal and could only score once.

A draw against Brescia was a decent result in isolation, but it sent us into the final day of the season with relegation still a massive possibility. We were up against Pisa, us in 16th and them in 17th. And it was easy. 1-0 was a flattering scoreline for them, we should have blown them away. But 1-0 was good enough, we condemned them to the drop and avoided relegation ourselves. 

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Or have we?

Turns out that there's a two-legged relegation play-out. Balls.

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May 2030

So our Serie BKT survival comes down to these two games, and the stats are fairly ominous. We've been involved in eight play-offs so far in this career, and lost out in all of them. They were all for different stakes, promotion rather than survival, but it still doesn't bode well for how we handle pressure in the big games.

We're up against Cremonese, who we finished above by one point. During the regular season we drew 1-1 at home, but got destroyed 5-0 at their place.

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The first leg was a bit of a muted affair. Both teams held back a bit, and quality was pretty sparse. Cremonese probably had the better chances of the game, but Benedetto Piacenza (20l) was in inspired form, making 8 saves en route to keeping a clean sheet and leaving things equal going into the return tie.

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GET IN!!! Antonello Di Corcia (20h) has been crap all season and largely banished to the bench in recent months due to his lack of goals, but after coming on at half-time he made the all important difference here, pouncing on a loose ball in midfield then racing down the pitch and blasting the ball past the keeper.

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We survive! It was a lot closer than I'd have liked and I'm massively disappointed that it even came to this in the first place, but at least we've avoided the drop back down to Lega Pro.

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2029/30 Round-up

The worst season of my career so far. Which I also said in last year's round-up, so I hope this isn't turning into a worrying trend.

For the first time we were involved in a relegation battle, one that we only pulled out of with an upswing in form in the final month, which then gave us the momentum to survive the play-out. 

I think I can put this down to two main factors. The first is being left with so few senior players from the original squad. The last two standing were Francesco Giorno and Mario Mercadante, who were also captain and vice-captain. Giorno left last summer and while Mercadante was still around this season, his legs were gone and he saw a lot less action. So there was a lot less leadership in the team, and also a fair amount of inexperience in central defence, which never helps. Secondly was the choice of selling goalkeeper Aleandro Accardo (22b) on the August deadline day. He wanted to leave and we got a lot of money for him (£2.7 million), but perhaps we would have been better served keeping him for the year, even if it meant he was unhappy and we lost him for free at the end of his contract instead. 

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The board are still bizarrely pleased. I know expectations were only to battle against relegation, but we were literally one game away from going down. Getting a passing grade for this, especially compared with previous years, doesn't seem deserved.

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We managed to upgrade our youth training with some of the transfer money we received, but as normal cash just drains out of the club and we're back into a negative balance. 

The value of the club has doubled, no idea why.

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2029/30 Player performance

Bernardo La Torre (26h) started the season in goal, but despite scoring in the cup, he wasn't ready for first team football and was just leaking goals (average 2.0 goals per game in the league). After just 8 games he was replaced by the more steady Benedetto Piacenza (20i), who conceded just 1.19 goals per game and kept 11 clean sheets.

Antonio Falcone (25i) had the highest average rating at 7.01, but wasn't a regular starter. Thus Manuel Molteni (20b), the only other player to reach of average of 7.00, won the fan's player of the year vote for a third time. 

I'd count 16 goals as a decent, if unspectacular, return for a top goalscorer. So for our three strikers to reach just 16 goals between them is appalling. Antonio Vannini (20a) came out on top with 7 goals, but he is getting absolutely no credit for doing so. Assists were only slightly better, at least Martino Perrone (22a) reached double figures as he set up 10 goals.

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Mario Mercadante became our all-time top scorer this year, just narrowly going ahead of Francesco Giorno, and regaining the record he had previously held back in 2024. He won't be adding to this tally though, as he's joining his ex-teammate in retirement this summer. In terms of players still at the club Manuel Molteni (20b) and Antonio Vannini (20a) are a long way behind on 344 games apiece. So this record will stand for at least one season, maybe even two.

Francesco Giorno does remain our leading all-time assister though, and it will be a long time before anyone challenges him for this. From our current squad Manuel Molteni (20b) and Martino Perrone (22a) have the most assists with 37 each.

2029/30 was a disappointing year in front of goal, but Antonio Vannini (20a) managed to pull further ahead in the top scorers list. His nearest rival Giacomo D'Addabbo is massively out of favour and didn't play once this season (and is set for release in the summer), so the next still active challenger is Antonello Di Corcia (20h) on 64 goals.

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A bit more international recognition. Szymon Zuraw (27a) is now in our first team squad, though he only played once this season, and he's jumped up into the next age group for Poland.

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On 05/02/2021 at 22:14, DaneBramage said:

Thanks. Getting out of Serie C was a pain but in a way it was a nice target to have, after the first two or three failures it spurred me on to keep going until I managed it.

Serie B is more frustrating, we're just not strong enough to compete near the top, so even in the spells where we've looked good a collapse has always been just around the corner. This season we're apparently avoiding that by just being terrible from the start. Can't plummet down the table if you're already last. :seagull:

I have a few top flight European leagues loaded, as well as Brazil, USA, China, Australia, and South Africa. It's going pretty fast as I'm using instant result. 

Do you think playing the match and using instant result ... could yield result in two complete different results ? 

Edited by Polski97
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2 hours ago, Polski97 said:

Do you think playing the match and using instant result ... could yield result in two complete different results ? 

Oh yeah, definitely. Playing the match you can make whatever changes you want, using IR it's at the mercy of your AssMan. The key difference there being that they never tend to bring on young players, so to give them gametime you have to start them in more matches than you may normally want to. 

The question is whether it produces different results for the better, or for the worse. Off the top of my head I'd say I've played less than a dozen games in this career, and I don't remember winning any of them. So IR seems to work better for me in that regard. Couple that with hating the 3D match engine and the 2D match engine being one heckuva lot worse than the FM07 version, and I'm more than comfortable with binning off actually playing games for a more fun (and quicker) experience. 

Edited by DaneBramage
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2030/31 Pre-season

Rock bottom expectations this year, probably deserved after last season's shambles. The board think we'll be fighting against relegation, the bookies make us 18th favourites to go up, and the media think we'll finish 19th. I'll be very annoyed if we're in a relegation battle again.

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I didn't expect to have any more improvements agreed while we had a negative bank balance, but youth recruitment got an upgrade so that's a bonus. 

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We missed out on a sell-on clause for a player we'd previously sold three years ago. He made just one appearance for Ascoli.

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I sold one outstanding clause we had available. Jakov Gudelj (25a) moved to Sampdoria over three years ago, but has never played for them. At 22 and on his third loan away from the club it looks unlikely that he'll make it or earn a big transfer elsewhere either. So I accepted £459k for the 50% on next sale clause, which nearly doubles the total we've received for him.

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With the final two players leaving this summer we now have none of the original squad left, we're now an entirely newgen side. Mario Mercadante is a club legend, our leading all-time appearance maker and long-term vice-captain. But his legs had gone, he was too slow and it was kinder to take him out of the team last year rather than leave him in as a bit of a liability. He had made enough appearances to trigger a one year extension, but opted to retire instead. 

Giacomo D'Addabbo is 8th on our all-time appearance list and 3rd all-time top scorer. He had a decent record when we were in the Lega Pro (twice being our top scorer), but couldn't cut it in Serie BKT, and saw himself exiled from the senior squad last year. I'd have sold him earlier if anyone had wanted him.

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I don't tend to talk about tactics much, but I thought I better provide some sort of update as I don't think I've mentioned them since my opening posts. This is what I'm currently using after introducing it for the final six matches of last year. It gave me 3 wins and 3 draws, so hopefully it will continue to work for a while. In spoiler tags just because it's a large picture.

Spoiler

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August + September 2030

We had another upgrade approved at the start of September. We now have exceptional junior coaching and youth recruitment, I assume that's the top tier possible for each. We've had a bunch of talent come through that's been Serie B standard, but we're yet to have that special standout who could go all the way to the top. 

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Cups suck ass.

We smashed a Lega Pro side, before being drawn away at Serie A Atalanta, where we didn't manage to cause an unexpected cupset in my 500th game of management (251 wins, 121 draws, 128 losses).

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We've made a solid start to the league, though it's started to tail off a bit now. Three straight 1-0 wins was a good, if unexciting run, but we are struggling for goals a little, not scoring more than one in a single game. 

We've won more than we've lost, so can't be too annoyed with the recent run of three games without a victory, but we do need to get another win again quickly before this turns into a slump. We should be doing slightly better but we've been victims of our own mistakes, missing a penalty against Foggia and playing nearly an hour against Verona with only 10 men, that's three easy points we've missed out on.

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In the top half for now so I'm happy with that.

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Edited by DaneBramage
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October + November + December 2020

Another golden generation apparently. 

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We missed out on a clause, another poached youngster that didn't make it. 

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But one clause did get paid out, as Aleandro Accardo (22b) made his 50th appearance for Brescia to activate a £300k payment. He's probably the only player that's left us who's gone on to have any real degree of success elsewhere.

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October was pretty bad, we started the month with two losses to stretch our run without a win to five games. We snapped the spell with a win over Benevento, Antonello Di Corcia (20h) and Gianluigi Vannucci (25f) coming off the bench and combining to grab the only goal of the game. But the next visitors were Juventus U23, and despite being bottom of the table, they managed to defeat us easily. They are definitely our bogey team, they rarely beat anyone else but they've turned us over three times in a row in Serie B matches. They had a £13m valued goalkeeper as well as three outfield players at £4m+, I don't think I need to explain that any of those players alone are worth more than my whole team combined.

We needed to kick back into gear in November, and we did so in style, or one man did anyway. Antonio Vannini (20a) netted a brace twice within a week, singlehandedly winning us two games. Might have been better if he'd spread the goals out though, or even if anyone else joined in the fun, as we then went three games without scoring. Luckily our defence did their job well in two of these games and kept clean sheets, so we still picked up a couple of points. 

There was a problem with not scoring goals, so I moved my attacking midfielder up into a deep lying forward role to try and give more support up top. And the goals started to rain. Against Ascoli and Lecce my wingers got on the scoresheet, before my strikers got in on the act against Cesena. Three consecutive wins to provide a satisfying finish to 2030.

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Much happier viewing than this time last year, when we were deep in a relegation battle. We're 13 points and 13 places better off. We're just about squeaking by with a positive goal difference, but we need to put in some work to become more incisive up front, we're currently averaging less than a goal a game.

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January + February + March 2031

One 5.0 star PA player in this intake, with another couple at 4.5 and three at 4.0. So a fairly strong top end, even if personalities aren't particularly good.

The top rated player has the bizarre position combination of right side of defence, but left side of midfield. Not sure what sense that makes.

We've had our first French player for ten years, while the Albanian connection continues with a fourth graduate.

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An annoying run of form here. Going seven games unbeaten makes it look better than it actually is. But when you consider that only three of these games were wins and four were draws, we weren't earning many points. Just 13 points from 10 games.

The big problem was no holding on to leads. Against Paganese we conceded the equaliser in the 93rd minute, against Livorno we gave away two goals in the final 10 minutes, and against Benevento we shipped three second half goals. 

It's a really poor effort, nowhere near good enough. I keep adding additional defensive sessions to the training schedule, but it just never seems to improve.

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We're following the same pattern as 2028 and 2029. Good first half of the season, crap second half where we plummet down the table.

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April + May 2031

The hat-trick from Antonello Di Corcia (20h) was the clear highlight of April, the kind of performance he doesn't put in anywhere near enough, but shows he can be excellent on his day. The first goal in particular was quality, stealing the ball in the centre circle, then storming down the pitch and rocketing one in from outside of the area.

But the other talking point from April is our terrible results against the bottom three. We played all of the sides this month that would go on to be automatically relegated, but only earned one point from these games. First we lost to Juventus U23, because of course we did, because we lose to them every time. They didn't even have any big signings in their team this time. They only won seven games all season, yet two of them were against us. Then we had a goalless draw with Cosenza despite having 20 shots. And we were leading against Alto Adige before giving away a late equaliser. Those are the games we need to be winning, we've got to be capable of just swatting aside the weaker teams if we want to achieve anything.

Our final game of the season saw nothing to play for, we couldn't reach the team above us and were four points clear of the team below, so I played a very young team. Four players made their debuts, including Juri Carrozza (30e) who got an assist, and Lucas Bianchi (29n) who scored a stoppage time equaliser.

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A lot better than last year. The relegation battle was forgotten, that never looked like a possibility here and we spent nearly all of the season in the top half.

But it's frustrating. In January we conceded late equalisers in two successive games, dropping four points. In April we couldn't beat any of the bottom three and dropped seven points. Just a bit more concentration and quality in just two or three of those games alone and we'd have crept into the play-offs.

To point out the obvious, we're not scoring enough goals. We barely averaged over 1.0 goal per game, and each of the teams in the play-offs scored at least 10 more than we did. There were 12 games during the season where we didn't score, that means that in nearly a third of our games we stand no chance of winning, regardless of what the opposition do. And I don't know what to do about that other than keep my fingers crossed and hope for a superstar striker to come through the academy.

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2030/31 Round-up

I'm happy to put last year's blip behind us, and also reverse the downward trend that we had seen over the last two years. Climbing back up into the top half is a definite move in the right direction, I don't know if we're ready yet for a promotion push but getting into the play-offs again will be the next target.

I've also noticed that we've never made it past the qualifying rounds of the TIM Cup, so getting to the first round proper would be nice. It would probably take a kind draw and avoiding a Serie A side to do so.

A thousand fairweather fans who stayed away while we struggled came back this year.

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The current board had seen 18 months of abject failure since taking charge, so they were happy with the turnaround in fortunes.

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As I say each year, the financial situation is a mess. We're having to fork out Serie B wages, but not making enough money to cover this. As always we'll be hoping for one or two big sales from the academy to give us some cash for improvements. I think junior coaching and youth recruitment are now as high as they can go, but our training facilities aren't good enough for either senior or youth players, so they could definitely do with being upgraded.

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2030/31 Player performance

With 13 clean sheets Benedetto Piacenza (20i) won the Serie B goalkeeper of the year award. Considering he was a long-term back up and only came into the team last year due to our star goalkeeper being sold and the expected replacement flopping, he's done very well for himself and is probably overperforming, but long may it last.

Antonio Falcone (25i) won the fan's player of the year vote after managing an average rating of 7.12 over 30 games, but I think he needs to produce more. That being said, between him, Manuel Molteni (20b), and Simone Trimboli (24b) there was a total of only 4 goals and 6 assists, so there's not much coming at all from any of our central midfielders.

The wingers were a bit more productive, Martino Perrone (22a) being our top creator for a third time with 8 assists, while Lorenzo Monaco (28a) went under the radar on the other side, but quietly racked up 8 goals in his first season with the senior squad. 

We weren't as prolific as I'd have liked, but at least one player reached double figures this year, something that had eluded us last season. Antonella Di Corcia (20h) was our top scorer for a fourth time with 10 goals, and seeing that this came from only 16 starts makes me think that I probably should have played him a bit more. Especially when he's by far our highest earner.

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Antonio Vannini (20a) hit a milestone this year, as he passed the century mark and now has 105 goals for the club. Antonella Di Corcia (20h) very slightly narrowed the gap but is still a fair distance behind him on 74 all-time goals.

The retired Mario Mercadante remains our all-time leading appearance maker, but this record is likely to fall next year. Antonio Vannini (20a) is now within striking distance on 381 games. 

Another retired player holds the record for most assists, and Francesco Giorno is likely to hold this for a long time. Martino Perrone (22a) is the closest still playing, but on 45 assists he's not even halfway there yet.

Spoiler

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A little bit of international recognition this year, Szymon Zuraw (27a) is the only one who's played for our senior team, but his potential seems to have stalled.

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2031/32 Pre-season

Oh hello, this has changed. For the first time in Serie B we're not expected by everyone to be in a relegation battle. The bookies still don't fancy us, making us only 16th favourites to go up, but the media predict that we'll finish 13th, and the board have the highest expectations, wanting mid-table. After a couple of years of missing out I want to get back into the play-offs.

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We missed out on a potential sell-on clause for a poached player. He didn't play once for Foggia and has now ended up at a non-league side.

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But we have had another academy player poached away this summer, who no doubt will also fail to achieve anything.

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No one of any note left this summer. Francesco Arduini (25h) had been a regular benchwarmer, but rarely made it on to the pitch.

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August + September + October 2031

Cups suck ass.

Knocked out at the very first chance. We didn't even put up a fight. I put out a pretty strong side, but we somehow allowed them to take 26 shots, which led to a predictable outcome.

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The league season kicked off with a couple of high scoring draws, which were great for the neutral but not so much for me. The Cremonese game was in the bag, but we then gifted them the equaliser with a 94th minute penalty. My mood improved though when we won the next two games with a clean sheet in both games. 

We then had a couple more draws, but I was happier with these two. Sampdoria had beaten us in both previous encounters, and Verona also had a good record over us (five wins out of eight), so this was a good couple of hard fought points.

We had another tough tie next against Parma, another side with a good record against us (four wins from five). But we got the only goal of the game to kickstart a run of three straight wins. I was starting to get my hopes up, but it didn't last. Our good start to the season came to an end when we visited Ascoli, and a few days later salt was rubbed in the wound with another defeat. We managed to score in both games though, to keep up our run of scoring in every game so far.

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We've made a very good start to the season and actually topped the table for a couple of weeks. The consecutive losses have knocked us down, but we're still in the chasing pack and are only two points off the top two.

Our goals scored column makes for good reading, the goals conceded not so much. We're letting in goals in at a rate of more than one per game, this needs cutting considerably if we're to keep this up.

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November + December 2031

The preview suggests we'll be getting a golden generation, but the details don't seem to match up with that. Only one player has been mentioned as having potential, the centre-back from Monopoli. He's a local lad though, so that's nice.

Incidentally, that made me wonder how many of our current squad are from Monopoli. In fact it's a lot more than I expected, seven of my regular starters are hometown boys.

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There's a lot of green here, which makes for very nice viewing. I mentioned in my previous post we were conceding too many, and that's been improved here with five clean sheets, which have helped contribute towards six wins. It was a happy Christmas with victories either side of the holiday.

There are a couple of losses sprinkled in here, but both were tough away ties. Genoa were top of the league when we played them, and then it was the same when we played Monza. So losing those two games isn't disaster, especially when the wins over SPAL and Foggia were both victories over other sides in the chasing pack.

Our strikers haven't been on great form, Antonella Di Corcia (20h) in particular being on a quiet spell and not scoring once in this time. He has made three assists during this spell though, so has still been contributing. Our wingers have been our main goal threat, possibly helped by me experimenting with using wing-back roles instead of full-back roles in some home games to add a bit more attacking impetus on the flanks. Lorenzo Monaco (28a) has scored four times in these two months, Martino Perrone (22a) has scored five times, and as well as being my top scorer is also the league's leading scorer so far.

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Boom, we are right in the mix. We're second top scorers, and our goals conceded has dropped to less than 1.0 per game.

It's all very close at the top though, the top six split by just five points and all on good form, so it'll take really strong effort to keep this up.

Fingers crossed.

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January + February 2032

Really annoyed by this. Since starting 2032 we've been ridiculously inconsistent, dropping points left, right, and centre. The year started okay with a win, but then our defence fell apart and we conceded 10 goals in just four games. We only picked up four points from these four matches, and it's lucky we put away the penalties we were given otherwise it would have been just one point.

I replaced two of our starting defenders for the Parma and Reggiana games and thankfully we managed a couple of clean sheets. Unfortunately our attack has now forgotten how to score goals and we saw two goalless draws. We couldn't even put one past Reggiana, the team bottom of the sodding league. 

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Ugh. The inevitable slide down the table has begun. The gap to the top two has increased from one point to six, three teams have overtaken us, and we're now conceding more than a goal per game again.

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March 2032

We had our 13th youth intake come through this year, and perhaps it is an unlucky one as it looks a bit disappointing. There's nobody with huge potential, just four players with 3.5 star PA. Two of them are listed as professional though and both have good determination too, so hopefully they'll develop well. Also, that centre-back is huge. Tallest player at the club in any age group.

It's been our most diverse group so far. We've had our first Brazilian come through (possibly due to my Brazilian AssMan or Brazilian coach), a second Romanian, and the Albanian influx has continued with our fifth so far (including one in each of the last three years).

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One of the players poached by Foggia a couple of years ago has come through their ranks.

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Good month. I was worried by the January/February wobble, but this is much better. Our away form has been inconsistent at best this season, so getting two away wins was a big plus.  We always knocked Virtus Francaville around back in the Lega Pro days (19 wins, two draws, one loss), so that was always likely to be a game where we'd get back into the win column.

Six goals from six different scorers is a nice thing to see. I'd recently warned Antonello Di Corcia (20h) that if he didn't start playing better he may be transfer-listed, and this had the desired effect as he scored his first goal in ages to end a 26 game barren run. It was also good to see 18 year old Stefano Fina (30g) get his first goal for the club.

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The top two had the same March record as us so we don't make up any ground on them, but the rest of the chasing pack had an awful month, which opened the door for us to sneak up to 3rd.

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Good work with your youth only philosophy. 

Hopefully that Tall Centerback pans out for you as better than originally thought of. (it happens)

When is the team going to open the Monopli Hotel?

Edited by Hootieleece
edited to become gramatically correct
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April + May 2032

Crotone were dispatched of without much trouble, before we had a tough away game at SPAL. It was a pretty tight game but they had their shooting boots on and we didn't, allowing them to take the victory. League leaders Genoa weren't the ideal opposition to take on next, but we managed to claim a point after a late equaliser from Alberto Bruno (30d), his first goal for the club. 

Then we got FMed. We got FMed big. 71% possession and 23 shots (eight on target) against 16th placed Pisa, but we couldn't break through. Of course they managed to score three times from their seven shots, giving us a heavy defeat at home.

But we bounced back in the best possible way. Already relegated Carpi were the best possible opponents at this time and we smashed them easily. We then finished out the season with two more wins over top half sides. Martino Perrone (22a) had a really strong run-in, scoring five times in the last eight games, including each of the last three. His goal against Monza came after just 17 seconds, setting a record for the quickest ever Monopoli goal. But was this enough? What could we achieve?

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4th! Our best ever finish! Not just in my time at Monopoli, but in the club's history. Super chuffed with this, I hoped to get into the play-offs this year but doing so in such style, not scraping in but doing so comfortably surpassed my expectations. 

The only problem is that slight, nagging, "what if?" feeling. We shouldn't have lost to Pisa. Win that, and we'd have been promoted automatically in 2nd place. Even a draw would have put us into 3rd, which earns a big chunk of prize money (over £2.5 million) compared to nothing for 4th. 

But nevermind, no use worrying about that now. On to the play-offs!

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May + June 2032

Our history in play-offs isn't good. We lost in the Lega Pro play-offs six times before we eventually got promoted automatically. And we've previously lost twice in the Serie B play-offs as well. So that's a record of eight attempts and zero successes, which doesn't bode well.

That being said, two years ago we were in the relegation play-out, a similar end of season high stakes encounter. We won on that occasion, so let's hope that breaks our bad run and we can do it again now.

We're up against SPAL in the semi-finals, after they beat Foggia 3-0 in the prelim round.

During the regular league season we won 2-0 at our place, but lost 2-0 away. They finished just one place and three points behind us in the league. This could go either way.

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We had the away leg first, and we didn't make a good start. SPAL got the opening goal, slotting the ball through a crowded penalty area after a free-kick wasn't cleared properly. We got back into the game though and became the dominant side, creating a lot of chances. Somehow we made it to the break still one down though, we'd had plenty of shots but were blazing them over or straight at the keeper, and hitting the woodwork twice.

Luckily a breakthrough came shortly into the second half. Stefano Scala (28g) found a bit of space in midfield, then set Michele Cezza (25d) away down the right. He made it to the byline before hitting a long cross, which Lorenzo Monaco (28a) timed his run perfectly to meet at the back post and head in. It looked like we weren't going to make the most of our superiority and would have to settle for a draw, but Lorenzo Monaco (28a) again made the difference. Deep in the SPAL half he nicked the ball off a defender then set off towards goal. As he burst into the box another defender went to intercept his run, but could only trip him to the ground. The ref had no option but to point to the spot, and Manuel Molteni (20b) made no mistake putting the ball to the keeper's right to seal an important first leg win.

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The second leg at home came just four days later and with a few tired players we had to make some changes to the starting line-up. We also had to play our sub keeper, as first choice Benedetto Piacenza (20i) injured his groin in training the day before the game. And perhaps too many changes were made, as we were nowhere near our best. We bossed possession again, but failed to do much with it and SPAL had a lot more efforts on goal.

Luca Franchi won the man of the match award and was excellent for SPAL on the right wing, claiming a goal and an assist, but he was helped by our replacement goalkeeper. There wasn't much that could have been done about the first goal, but Emiliano Re (27l) should have done much better with the second. He spilled a shot which was straight a him, gifting SPAL with an easy tap-in.

Luckily in between the SPAL goals we got one of our own. A long throw-in found Antonello Di Corcia (20h), his shot was charged down but it fell to Michele Cezza (25d). He sliced his shot, but it looped up perfectly for Simone Bettoni (25g) to meet it and flick a header into the far corner.

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3-3 on aggregate, and thanks to the Italian play-off rules which prioritise league position, we're through to the play-off final.

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June 2032

On to the play-off final. It's a two-legged affair again, and we're up against Sampdoria. They got this far by beating Benevento 4-0 on aggregate in the other semi-final.

In the league we finished one place and one point behind them, but had the better head-to-head record. We drew 2-2 at their gaff, then won 3-2 at home.

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The first leg came round just three days after the last match, so again a bit of rotation was needed to have some fresh legs on the pitch. Our first-choice goalkeeper was back between the sticks, but we did have an issue at right-back. Thanks to a hip injury suffered in training the day before the game (Onofrio Pili (22j)), and a ban for accumulated yellow cards (Michele Cezza (25d)), we had no senior players available in that position. Thus I made the shout to put in 18 year old Antonino Vitaloni (31a) for his debut.

Fast forward to the 88th minute. We're one down in a close game, Sampdoria having the only goal so far after beating the offside trap. Antonello Di Corcia (20h) has the ball out on the left, but nothing's on. He turns back and gives the ball to Manuel Molteni (20b) just outside the Sampdoria area. The midfielder controls the ball with one touch, then looks up and slides it to the right with his second. Antonino Vitaloni (31a) steams into the area and hits it first time, the ball arrowing into the far corner. A goal on his debut, and not only that, but with five tackles and six interceptions he was also man of the match. A cracking way to make a first impression. Everything's still to play for in the second leg.

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OH MY DAYS!!! WE'VE ONLY GONE AND BLOOMING WELL DONE IT!!!

Manuel Molteni (20b) and Stefano Scala (28g) made up our midfield pairing and were the best players on the pitch, constantly receiving the ball and recycling play to kickstart a new attack. Both goalkeepers had a good game though, Benedetto Piacenza (20i) giving a great account of himself with seven saves while the Sampdoria keeper made six of his own. Nothing was going to happen from open play, and we needed a setpiece to grab the only goal of the game. 

After Martino Perrone (22a) was clattered he stepped up to take the free-kick himself. His ball into the box somehow eluded everyone, apart from Antonio Vannini (20a) who was waiting at the far post to volley home the winner. Six years after scoring the goal that got us promoted from the Lega Pro he repeated the trick to get us promoted from Serie B. Legend.

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Heck yeah!

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4 hours ago, Hootieleece said:

Good work with your youth only philosophy. 

Hopefully that Tall Centerback pans out for you as better than originally thought of. (it happens)

When is the team going to open the Monopli Hotel?

Thanks!

I'm definitely enjoying it, even more so after this evening's session. It's the first time I've really tried youth only and there are obvious frustrations at times (when things are going badly and you just want to sell everyone), but it makes it all the more satisfying when you get a bit of success.

With a current capacity of 6,880 we'll need a new stadium at some point. If I can't have that named after me I'd accept a hotel instead.

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Huzzah! Serie A. Plan on many years of consolidation...unless things change there isn't much Prize or TV Money in Serie A. You won't be able to really expand your facilities until you get European places.

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2031/32 Round-up

An excellent season, far beyond what I could have hoped for. I wanted to get back into the play-offs and we did that, but I didn't go into the season thinking we could actually win them. I'm massively pleased with that, not just with the success but also with the fact that when we got there we saw the job through and didn't bottle it.

After taking seven years to get out of Lega Pro I'm a bit surprised we managed to get out of Serie B in just six years, but it's official: we're in Serie A next year.

The average attendance increased by over 500 people per game, it can't go up much further as we're almost at full capacity now (6,880).

Spoiler

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Only B+?! Come on lads! I'm giving myself an A+ anyway.

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We didn't get any more upgrades this year, and our reputation is still the same. I wonder if that will get a bump next year after a season of Serie A football.

The estimated value just seems to be nonsense. Up in the top tier for the first time, and the value of the club halves. That's clearly wrong.

Our bank balance is the worst it's ever been, and in a way that's down to the promotion. £1.4 million was paid out in bonus money for the achievement, but hopefully we'll make that back with increased sponsorship, TV money, etc. If not then we might have to sell a player or two who are getting some attention. On the other hand, having a negative balance hasn't hurt us at any other time, the board keep chipping in cash and we've had a couple of takeovers which have wiped out the shortfall, so maybe I can just ignore it.

Spoiler

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Edited by DaneBramage
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2031/32 Player performance

For a second year in a row Benedetto Piacenza (20i) won the Serie B goalkeeper of the year award. He had his best season so far with 16 clean sheets. He came into first-team reckoning relatively late in his career, but he has well and truly made the number one shirt his own.

Manuel Molteni (20b) had a really good season in midfield and was voted our fan's player of the season for a fourth time. He also came third in several Serie B categories (player of the year, player's player of the year, and midfielder of the year).

But the player who made the biggest impression was Martino Perrone (22a) as he had an incredible season. He was our top scorer (and third in the division), was our top assister for a fourth time (and third in the division), and came second in the Serie B player's player of the season vote. From the right wing he far outshone his striker and creator counterparts - no one else reached double figures in either category, while he did so in both.

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After two years of holding our all-time appearances record Mario Mercadante was overhauled at the top, as Antonio Vannini (20a) reached 414 games to surpass him. At 28 he still has plenty of time to extend this even further, the question is whether he's good enough to do so. He's only hit double figures once during our time in Serie B, and Serie A will only be tougher. With 2.5 stars for both CA and PA he seems to have met his potential, and I'm hoping a youngster emerges to replace him sooner rather than later.

That being said, I don't want to write him off too early. Antonio Vannini (20a) also holds the title of top goalscorer, stretching his record out this year to 114 goals. There's only one lad still playing who's even remotely in the same ballpark as him, but while Antonella Di Corcia (20h) is the next contender on 82 goals, when he has seasons as bad as this I don't see him catching any time soon.

Francesco Giorno remains our top creator with 92 assists, still holding this record after seven years on top. Martino Perrone (22a) is making inroads on this target, but on 55 assists is still a long way off.

Spoiler

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Here's this year's international representation. The most exciting thing is that we've now had call-ups to the Italian U19 squad. We've had plenty of recognition for smaller nations, but this is the first for a top tier country. Both Pasquale Calvi (30b) and Alberto Bruno (30d) are still young, but after these call-ups they were also brought up into the Monopoli senior squad. Between them they made 35 appearances over the second half of the season, and there looks to be a huge amount of potential there.

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July 2032

During this save I've been attending all interviews I've been offered by clubs in a higher division, just to see which ones I'd be accepted for. This is what I've been offered in the last year.

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As you can see there's been a couple from clubs riding high in the league, but most have been sides in the bottom half of the table or fighting relegation. Seems reasonable enough. 

Anyway, I've received a job offer now that absolutely blows any of those earlier offers out the window. ITALY!

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I'm in two minds about accepting it or not. Given that none of our players are really anywhere near the national team I don't think it would affect how I manage them, and picking players from the likes of Juventus and Milan will have a minimal effect on results when we play them., so I don't feel like this would affect the integrity of the save. And it's obviously a huge opportunity, it seems silly to say no to it. Who knows when a job like this would come round again? Could be a bit of fun, a side-project while I try to establish Monopoli in Serie A. 

But on the other hand, it doesn't feel deserved. Is two promotions really enough to earn one of the biggest jobs in the world? Surely there are people more qualified than me for this?  Is it unrealistic to accept it?

Maybe they have already interviewed others, and they weren't available or rejected it. Maybe it's not that appealing to others who would normally be in line for the role, given how badly Daniele De Rossi did with them at Euro 2032.

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Think I'm gonna sleep on it before making a decision.

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Edited by DaneBramage
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July 2032

Rejected it. Which might be a decision I come to regret, but it didn't feel realistic to accept at the moment. If the offer was to come in again next year after (hopefully) a season of Serie A football then I'd likely say yes at that point, but with no top flight management yet under my belt it didn't seem right for now.

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This fella took the job instead, off the back of finishing 14th and 9th with Espanyol in La Liga. His only trophy is the 2028 Swiss Cup with Young Boys.

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2032/33 Pre-season

No surprises here. We're obviously predicted to finish last by the media, and we're 3-10 favourites to be relegated with the bookies.

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We're going to have a massive amount of money coming in over the next year. It seems like it trickles in over the months rather than all in one go, so at the moment I haven't yet been able to use any of it to request improvements to our training, but at least we have a positive bank balance again.

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No one of any note left, but we did have our third sale in the seven figure range. Juri Carrozza (30e) had made a few first-team appearances and was a prospect on the left-wing, but he had been unsettled since Lazio made an approach for him last season. They'd only offering a pittance so it was swiftly rejected at the time, but with only a year left on his contract he was showing no signs of renewing so we got rid now while we could still get some cash for him. 

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Despite our financial situation looking up, I did cash in a couple of potential 50% of next sale clauses. I'd been monitoring these and the current amounts were the highest they've ever been, so it seemed like the right time to claim them. Aleandro Accardo (22b) is Brescia's first choice keeper and has a year of Serie A experience, but there's no interest in him and at 26 he's probably reached his peak. Mauro Bianchi (28b) is now 20 but has only played once for Torino, and hasn't even been loaned out anywhere. There's no interest in him either. He's valued at £1.5 million and has some good attributes, but unless he starts playing he's not going to reach his potential any time soon.

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We've now made over £10 million from sales of our academy players.

Spoiler

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August 2032

Now we're up to Serie A I decided I'd stop using instant result for a while, and start watching the games with extended highlights on. I'm obviously expecting a season of struggle, and while I'm not much of a tactics expert, it's probably smart to try and see what we're good at and what we're not.

As normal the Italian season starts with the early rounds of the cup. To prepare for the league I went with a stronger team that I normally would for this round, only playing three younger players. For 85 minutes it was a pretty dominant performance over Monza, as would be expected against a Serie B side. The last five minutes were poor, that was my fault. I went greedy and went ultra-attacking to try and punish them further, big mistake as they carved right through us to pull back a couple of goals themselves. Luckily there wasn't enough time left for them to get a third, I would have been pretty embarrassed if they had.

I did notice in the highlights that my attacking corner set-up was terrible, only one player near the goal, so I've adjusted that going forward.

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The opening game of the league season was a home tie against Fiorentina. They've been in Serie A for almost the entirety of this save, other than a one year dip into Serie B in 2027/28 (they finished top and smashed us 4-0). They were the better side here, but by no means were we totally outclassed. The second half saw Fiorentina push on strong and they were perhaps unlucky not to get a late winner, but Benedetto Piacenza (20i) had a great game (8.5 rating, 11 saves, MOTM award) to keep them at bay.

Next up was a trip to Lecce, who have spent most of the last few years alongside us in Serie B. We had a decent record over them, so this had to be seen as a winnable game. And we couldn't have got off to a better start, a perfect through ball from Antonella Di Corcia (20h) meeting the run of Lorenzo Monaco (28a) cutting in from the left to open the scoring. Shortly after the break Antonella Di Corcia (20h) got one of his own after some cracking interplay with Martino Perrone (22a). This was a deserved win, we played really well. It could have been ever better when we converted a header at a late corner, but it was ruled out by VAR for a push.

There's no point taking a screenshot of the table at this stage, but after the second round of fixtures we sit in sixth place.

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Edited by DaneBramage
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September + October 2032

We started September with a win over Cittadella, who I've never heard of before, but they're a fairly well established Serie A side now so that was a good result. At that point we'd began our Serie A campaign with seven points from a possible nine, and three clean sheets. Was starting to think it was easy.

Then we lost six games in a row.

Atalanta was close and we nearly got back into it late on, but the performance against Bologna was utterly turgid. We conceded from the first two shots on target against Lazio and just fell apart from there. I even subbed off my goalie for the last half hour, and his replacement managed to keep a clean sheet for his 30 minutes on the pitch.

So I started the sub keeper against Torino, and he massively let me down. Torino went down to ten men, then scored almost straight away. The ball ended up at the feet of our keeper, he just stopped and looked at it for two seconds, allowing their striker to nip in and slot past him. Infuriating. 

I went back to instant result for the next two games. I couldn't see us getting anything for Inter and just wanted to avoid watching another thrashing, but the stats made it look like a close tie where they required a late winner to break through. Against Napoli I rotated all ten outfield players so we'd be fresh for Brescia, a more winnable game (they were bottom of the table at this time).

And this worked out very nicely. I'd gone back to watching comprehensive highlights, and early in the game both Brescia's right-sided full-back and centre-back had been booked, so I instructed us to attack more down the left to try and put the pressure on. Soon after we opened the scoring via a cross from the left, and in the second-half we won a penalty after cutting inside from the same flank. Not to toot my own horn, but toot toot toot. I nailed that call.

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All we're aiming for this year is to avoid relegation, and at the moment we're outside of the dropzone. Things were looking worrying with the six losses, but the win over Brescia has kept us afloat for now.

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November 2032

In November we had four games with teams around us in the table so it was a good chance to earn some important points. 

We were pathetic against Perugia (16th). In the 80th minute we grasped an undeserved equaliser, but then conceded twice in the final five minutes due to some really stupid decisions from our midfielders, ignoring simple passes and instead going for moves that were never on. We scored very early against Empoli (18th), then just stopped playing. They evened things up with a free-kick and we offered no fight to try and get back ahead.

Next up was Cagliari (19th), and we were cheated out of a win by the stupid broken match engine. We scored early, were holding on to the 1-0 lead, then in the 92nd minute they had a shot which my keeper saved. Two of my defenders both started running towards the loose ball, then turned and ran away instead, letting the opposition player in. Absolute nonsense.

Finally we had Genoa (19th). We conceded early and then took control of the game, peppering their area with shots without ever looking like scoring. But eventually they made a mistake, we collected a bad clearance and punished them for it.

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I am not happy one bit with this month. I know it's our first season in Serie A, I'm not expecting miracles, but all four of these games were against teams in the bottom five at the time. If we want to stand any chance of survival these are the sides we have to get points from. Three from a possible 12 is nowhere near good enough.

We're outside of the relegation area by the tiniest of margins, but if we continue like this then that won't be the case for long.

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Edited by DaneBramage
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December 2032

Another golden generation. We don't tend to use attacking midfielders so I'm not excited for them, but two forwards is definitely good news. I see careers on here all the time with strikers getting 40+ goals a season, I don't think any of my newgens have ever reached 20, so I could really use someone special coming through up front.

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I fully rotated the team for the cup tie against Serie B Foggia. We were really bad, this version of FM doesn't show xG but I'm sure if it did their figure would have been much higher than ours. We only managed eight shots all game (compared to their 22), but luckily a long-range screamer from Antonino Vitaloni (31a) was enough to avoid a cupset.

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A much tougher month of league fixtures as we face three of the top teams, and two midtable sides.

We stuck with the same side as we used in the cup for the Roma tie, and predictably got hammered. But this left the first choice XI fresh for the Sassuolo game. It didn't help. We scored against the run of play early on, then fell apart again. Why bother defending? Why pass the ball to to each other? Much easier to constantly give it to the opposition and let them do what they want with it.

Then we went to Juventus and got smashed, wait, what? We managed a goalless draw? No idea how this happened, I just instant resulted it fearing the worst. A very unexpected point, but I'll take them from wherever I can. 

Then we hosted Milan and got smashed, WAIT, WHAT? We battered them 3-1! Again I used IR expecting the worst, I think I should go back to always using it. Two of our goals were from outside the area, one of which took a deflection on the way through. So perhaps there was an element of luck to this, but I think we made our own luck. The stats even back up that we deserved the win, we had 14 shots to their four, and our average rating was much higher than theirs (7.4 compared to 6.8).

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We've dropped into the relegation area, but given the calibre of teams we played this month the situation could have been much worse. Picking up five points from these games has at least given us a fighting chance, we're still battling away at the halfway stage.

The bottom two both have a game in hand on us, but all the teams up to 12th are less than three points ahead, so there's a lot of sides still in the relegation dogfight.

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15 hours ago, Hootieleece said:

Stick to the plan....endeavor to have more points than games played....win against those closest to you in the table. (especially those below you)

You have this!

 

2 hours ago, Deisler26 said:

Just read through this, mate. A great career so far. Look forward to you escaping the drop

Thanks both. Surprisingly it's not the teams around me or below that I'm getting most of my points from. We seem to be getting better results against the bigger clubs, and struggling with those around us. It's definitely going to be close whether we stay up or not, but betting on survival might be worth a cheeky tenner.

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January 2033

We made a big sale on the final day of the transfer window as Pasquale Calvi (30b) was sold to Tottenham for just over £12 million, plus 50% of his next transfer. He'd only been in our first team squad for about a year and he has a ton of potential so I'd have liked to keep him, but he wanted to leave and realistically we can't say no to this kind of money. Their initial offer was only £1.1 million and they came in a few more times with smaller amounts, so it was only fair to let him go when this asking price was met. 

Also, we don't yet know what next year holds. We may still go back down to Serie B, but with a much higher wage bill due to all the new contracts given out this year. But with this coming in, if the worst does happen at least we shouldn't be destroyed financially.

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Following this transfer and the TV money that's been coming in throughout the year we have a very healthy bank balance, so part of this is going towards making a couple of upgrades to our training facilities. They're a long way off completion though.

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Cups suck ass.

This is the furthest we've ever got into the competition though, so that's a minor positive.

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IR against Fiorentina saw us get whooped, so I went back to watching the game for Lecce. I can't believe we didn't win this match. We took the lead halfway through the first half, before failing to add to this and somehow going 2-1 down. I went ultra-attacking for the last 15 minutes and we won two penalties. The first was converted by Manuel Molteni (20b), but then his second in the 95th minute was saved and we only got a draw from this.

That put me in a stinking mood, so I went back to IR for Cittadella. And this time when we got a 95th minute chance we took it to complete an incredible turnaround after being 2-0 down at half-time. Even better was to come; a week later we hosted Atalanta and came out on top in a seven goal thriller. 

Our defence is leaky as heck, letting in 11 goals in four games is never a good look. But we've been increasingly better upfront each game, continue at this rate and we should win a match 9-8 soon. Leandro Sansonna (26d) has been a big part of this, he's never been a regular starter before but he's currently on a great run and is having the best goalscoring season of his career so far.

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We're the only team in the division other than Inter and Juventus that have won both of our last two matches, and this has seen us jump several sides and move out of the relegation area. 

Our six wins so far have come against the teams in 5th, 6th, 8th (x2), 17th, and 18th. I'm happy to take points wherever we can of course, but I hope we can beat a few more of the teams from the bottom half so we can prevent them building any momentum themselves. 

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February + March 2033

Now this is what I like to see. Three 5.0 star PA players, plus another at 4.5 and three more at 4.0. The top two players are both strikers which is a position I need strengthening, so hopefully at least one of them will make it. 

All three of the other nationalities coming through this year are African, with two Senegalese and one Nigerian. 

Ifeanyi Duru (33a)  --  Atillio Castellani (33b)  --  Leonardo Miccoli (33c)

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Four previously poached players came through elsewhere. I assume they'll all be rubbish and the 5% we're entitled to will never amount to anything.

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Antonio Vannini (20a) finally scored his first goal of the season to secure our third win in a row, but our fortunes quickly reversed and we then lost four in a row.

Our discipline is really bad and I don't know why. Against Torino we were hanging on for a point, but two red cards in the second half gave us too much to do and we lost the game in the 89th minute. We then got a message after the game saying we'd set a Serie A record for worst discipline, and that was with 12 games still to go! Just to emphasise that, we then had six yellows and another red against Inter, then eight yellows against Napoli. You know when managers defend their lads and say "He's not that kind of player"?. Yeah, I'm not sure I can do that. I think they just like kicking people.

We ended March with a couple of potential six-pointers, against the teams in 15th and 18th place. Pleasingly, we took full points from both ties, although both followed a slightly worrying pattern. We scored two goals early in the game, before conceding one and then having to hold on until the final whistle. Major props to Leandro Sansonna (26d) for his three goals over these two games, and Simone Bettoni (25g) for both assists in the Brescia match.

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There's a definite split in our results over this period. Against the teams now 1st, 3rd, 7th, and 8th, we lost all four times. I can't really be too upset about this, anything from those ties would have been a bonus rather than an expectation. But against the teams now 15th, 17th, and 18th, we grabbed the full nine points available. This is exactly what we needed to, get some points on the board with the added effect of also damaging their chances.

We have the worst defence in the division, conceding 1.8 goals per games, but with eight games left we're eight points clear of the bottom three.

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April 2033

The Empoli game was annoying. We had twice as many efforts on goal as them and were leading both 1-0 and 3-1, but we couldn't hold on. Pretty much every shot on target was conceded and we left with only one point instead of the full three we deserved. But we then grabbed a win we shouldn't have. It's great fun when an FMing goes your way, and we survived an onslaught from Cagliari. Only two of our shots were on target compared to their nine, but we got the all-important winner.

Genoa was gearing up to be a tough encounter, but shortly after we opened the scoring they went down to ten men, and that was essentially game over. The only question was how many we'd win by, and it's pretty disappointing that it was just the one. We had so many corners and attacking free-kicks, but failed to do anything with them.

Against Sassuolo we just didn't turn up. One of those games where you make three half-time substitutions (and would have done more if you could), use the aggressive team-talk against the whole team, then use it again against each individual player.

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This was an important month. We came into it with a solid lead over the bottom three, but our final four games of the season were against Roma, Milan, Juventus, and Udinese (three of the top four), a run where we could very feasibly not score a single point. So it was essential that we added to our tally while we could, and not go into the final month in a dangerous position. 

And we did, and we did it very well. The eight point gap is now a 12 point gap, and none of the bottom three can catch us. We've survived!

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May 2033

With survival already assured I played a bit of a rotated side over the last four games, to give some more minutes to the players who were a bit unhappy about their playing time this season. 

We almost got something from the Roma game, before our debutant left-winger got sent-off in the 89th minute, and we then conceded twice in stoppage time. But that was the high point of the month, we were already on the beach really and failed to spring any surprises.

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We dropped one spot in the table but still finished quite a way above the bottom three. I wouldn't quite go as far as saying it was comfortable, over the winter period I wasn't sure we'd make it, but from January to April we won seven out of 15 matches which gave us a good push up the table, eventually finishing eight points clear.

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2032/33 Round-up

An excellent season, far beyond what I could have hoped for. I just had my fingers crossed for survival and would have been happy with 17th place, so getting 14th and having our place secured in Serie A for a second season with four games to go was quite the achievement.

We also got further in the cup than we've ever managed before, and our average attendance continues to inch upwards. Less than 100 off full capacity now.

Spoiler

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Bit harsh.

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Our reputation has been bumped up another half star, and we're now on 3.0 stars. We've obviously got the lowest reputation of all Serie A clubs and there are also seven Serie B sides with a higher reputation than us, so getting established above them is the next target.

We haven't had any upgrades this year, but improvements to both our senior and youth training facilities are underway.

With the £12.2 million transfer fee we received in January and the £36 million TV money throughout the year our finances have exploded upwards.

Spoiler

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2032/33 Player performance

We ended the year with the leakiest defence in the league, conceding 68 goals in total. But it could have been much worse if it wasn't for Benedetto Piacenza (20i) in goal. With eight clean sheets he won the Serie A goalkeeper of the year award, so he's now won individual honours three years in a row.

Leandro Sansonna (26d) won the fan's player of the year vote, and that was well deserved. He was our only player to end up with an average rating over 7.00, and his 14 goals were double what anyone else could manage.

Martino Perrone (22a) was our top creator for a fifth time (and fourth in a row), and he and Lorenzo Monaco (28a) and Antonello Di Corcia (20h) were the only other players to reach double figures for combined goal contributions.

Benedetto Piacenza (20i)  --  Leandro Sansonna (26d)  --  Martino Perrone (22a)

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Antonio Vannini (20a) remains our all-time top goalscorer and leading appearance maker, but after a pretty poor year he is being chased down on both fronts. Manuel Molteni (20b) is now only 10 appearances behind and may well overtake him next year, while Antonello Di Corcia (20h) has narrowed the gap to 29 goals.

Martino Perrone (22a) continues to chip away at his target of becoming our top creator, but he remains 29 assists behind Francesco Giorno.  On his current rate he may catch him in the next three to four years.

Spoiler

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Eight players received international recognition in the younger age groups this year, but we still haven't had any newgens receive a senior cap while at the club. We have a few players in the Albanian system, so perhaps one of them will be first to break through.

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