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[FM21] An Englishman's adventure abroad - If we reach the Caspian Sea, are we even in Europe anymore?


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After mainly managing in England and youth only, it's time to branch out a little more and head to a part of Europe that I have not seen many adventures from so seems perfect for this. A literally unknown for me, I have never once looked this far East before. I am to try and write it in a diary style from the manager and see how that goes and if it works or not moving forward. 


Alex Laradze - I've never quite fitted in growing up. I never felt "English" despite been born here. My family was not from there but that is where they ended but they told me very little of my past, my heritage. I've always wanted to travel, to get away from England and see what else there was in Europe. I've got no language skills but football is a universal language right? I packed the car up, a few suitcase's of clothes and football equipment and set off for the Ferry at Dover. I had gained my National C Licence months before, waiting for this day to come. I did not want to be stuck in no-where England, managing a team on the 10th rung of the ladder. My dreams are bigger than that. I want to find a new home, learn new languages and maybe find where I came from.

I circled three potential areas on the map on the ferry, the Baltics, the Balkans and the Caucasus/Eastern tip of Europe. Why did these 3 places come to mind, well the lack of European Football success came to mind with these been the three area's where Nations have struggled to have teams reach the group stages of the Champions League. The Baltics and the Balkans were soon ruled out, the sway of the real unknown on the edges of Europe and Asia was a pull just too great. I must be crazy, this journey will take days. Google maps said 4,140km or 2,500 miles to Tbilisi, which seemed a good place to start.


For the game we have loaded Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Kazakhstan as the most easterly European Nations. Turkey, Russia and Ukraine are view only along with the big 5 Euro Nations. Current World Rankings are amongst the lowest in Europe - Georgia 91st, Armenia 99th, Azerbaijan 111th, Kazakhstan 117th.

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Alex Laradze - Monday 6th July 2020

Ok, it took 6 days to get here, I stopped to take in the views and "enjoy" the drive. I book myself into what happened to be the first hotel that popped up on the search, the Hotel Dcorner. I mean, I could find cheaper or take a hostel but I need to be fresh and ready to travel to interviews. I'm booking by the night for now, who knows where I'll end up and when.


Alex Laradze - Tuesday 7th July 2020

I decide to take out Kazakhstan for now as It is another mammoth drive away and I feel there will be plenty of jobs in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. I get on the phone to all the local agents, followed up with any leads from "locals in the knowledge" and found 11 jobs going before the start of the 2020/21 season. I doubt I can walk into the Baragujn Chumb Division (Armenian Top Division) clubs, so that leaves 9 and 6 of them are in Armenia. I have no knowledge of any of these clubs so applying for all seems the only logical choice. 


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Alex Laradze - 11th July 2020

I thought we would have heard something by now, maybe I need to look at booking the hotel by the week and downgrade a little. Two more jobs come up which I apply for, both in Armenia. I have a feeling this might be my first port of call just on the number of jobs about.


Alex Laradze - 12h July 2020

Well we finally have our first interviews, we are off to Azerbaijan followed by a trip to Armenia.

Job Interview 1 - Turan Tovuz Idman Klubu - Birinci Divizionu (2nd Division) - Azerbaijan 


Job Interview 2 - FC Mika - Aradżin Chumb (2nd Division) - Armenia


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Alex Laradze - 14th July 2020

I felt the first interviews went well, I didn't make any outlandish promises to get the job but I hope I did enough to land one. Staying in Yerevan was a great idea as I managed to go to the West Armenia job before heading back to Azerbaijan and the City of Ganja. Back to Georgia was next to the only job available there.

Job Interview 3  - Kapaz Peşakar Futbol Klubu- Birinci Divizionu (2nd Division) - Azerbaijan 


Job Interview 4  - West Armenia Yerevan - Aradżin Chumb (2nd Division) - Armenia


Job Interview 5 - SK Rustavi - Erovnuli Liga 2(2nd Division) - Georgia


The interviews kept piling up after this, driving all over the 3 countries waiting for the first offers to come in.

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Alex Laradze - 19th July 2020

Urartu Yerevan offer Laradze his first shot - In the Barcragujn Chumb (Armenian Premier League) 

I'll be totally honest, I didn't even post up about this interview as well, I didn't expect to ever hear anything again from them. A team in the top flight interested in me? Never, or so I thought. Looking over the offer to start my Managerial Career in Armenia looks a great one on paper. The salary will pay for my hotel bills for years to come, maybe I can even find a small place. I was surprised they are spending that much on wages and want a mid-table finish. The "4 year aim" is to become the best of the rest and start to challenge for titles, that sounds reasonable. They finished 7th last year and have not been relegated in the previous years, has won the Title in 2013-14 and played in Europe. This sounds like the Perfect job!


With no other jobs that seemed to match this on the cards, I did not want to make them wait, I started negotiations immediately. Urartu Yerevan here I come!

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FC Urartu Yerevan - Club profile | Transfermarkt

Team Overview              Finances               First Team Squad               Reserves               Season Preview

Alex Laradze - 20th July 2020  

Football Club Urartu was founded as FC Banants in January 1992 in the village of Kotayk. The team was commonly referred to as Banants Kotayk and won the VBET Armenian Cup that season. Due to financial crisis in 1995, which seems to happen often in Armenia, they merged with FC Kotayk rather than disbanding it. In 2001, Banants demerged from FC Kotayk and moved the to the Capital city, Yerevan. Another merge happened at the beginning of 2003 with FC Spartak Yerevan but kept the FC Banants name with Spartak becoming the youth academy which later became Bababts-2. Since this merger, a more "serious approach" was taken by the club and they have stabilised in the League. The club lifted the VBET Armenian Cup in 2007 and 2016 and won the Armenian Preimer League Title in 2013/14. The club has played 28 matches in Europe with 4 wins and 3 draws to date.

All facilities are highly lacking at the club, falling well below the levels of other clubs at this level. We will not be able to develop youth or train players easily so will have to rely on bringing players into the club. The team is a huge mix of players from multiple countries and looks like this is how the teams are built in in this part of the world.

First Team Squad


A balanced squad with no real weaknesses although lacking some depth in defence and the middle of the park. We should have the quality to achieve the aims this season and every member of the team will be given an opportunity to impress before the season starts. Lets have a look over all the players in the next few weeks and see who will feature and who wont.

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If we are to win the League in a few years time, we need to know who and what we are up against. Let's be honest, I know nothing about any of these teams so I've had to put this together to get more of an idea about who we will face this season. 

Armenian Premier League

There are 10 team in competition for the title and amazingly, most of them are in the capital city, Yerevan. Talk about saving money on away day travel and the ease to build rivalries. We are currently seen as the 6th best team and are a huge 25-1 to win the title. What I take from this is that the top 4 teams are fairly close to each other with a big gap between them and 5th and then another gap 6th and 7th. Hopefully with the odds on the bottom 3, we have easier win games there. 


FC Alashkert - Won 3 of the last 5 titles after non before in their history. Playing in Europe this season.

FC Ararat Yerevan - One title won back in 1993. Much better facilities than we have currently. Founded in 1935, one of the oldest clubs.

Ararat-Armenia Yerevan - Some of the best facilities in the League and have won the last two League Titles. Defiantly the team to beat this year. Large 15,000 seater stadium.

Football Club Noah - Founded in 2017 the team finished 2nd last year and have their first season in Europe. Facilities are just better than ours.

FC Van - Another new team founded in 2019 with similar faculties to ours. Only spending half their wage budget so have room to add to the squad.

Gandzasar Kapan - Have never won the league but have a few top 3 finishes and season in Europe. Polar Bear on logo, small budget compared to rest but better facilities than us.

Lori Vanadzor - A staggering £20,000 wage budget but using less than half. Came back to the Premier League in 2017 and have finished top half since then.

FC Pyunik - These guys set the standard with facilities, wow! Excellent Youth facilities and coaching with exceptional youth recruitment. Huge 15,000 seater stadium and have the most League Titles with 14. Has been a few down years but will always be dangerous.

FC Shirak - Again, some great facilities but not quite the same as Pyunik. Second most Championships and a large wage budget. A team mostly full of Armenian players which is not the norm.

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Alex Laradze - 9th August 2020

Pre Season was not long enough and I can communicate with only a handful of the team, The Brazilians James and Vitinho, Nigerian's Isah Aliyu and Ugochukwu Iwu plus the Rwandan Salomon Nirisarike all speak English so at least it's not a total blank for me. The rest of the team communicates in Russian it seems, man that language looks strange. I'm starting to pick a few words up but thank god for translators. So far on the pitch at least, football is doing the talking! Opposition has not been up to much but we know where the goal is so that is helpful.


I may fail one of the clubs aims in my first compeitive game as we drew Ararat-Armenia in the first round of the cup, great, just great!! The best team in the country and we draw them, this really will be a test for the team and to see how we might do this season. I am not hopeful and let's hope the board take into account who we are playing or I could be fired before it begins.


It has been fairly quite with a few coming in and several players going out who would never have made a first team game taking up wage space. Need to drop the wage bill down by another £1,000 to £2,000 at least but so far not many players are wanted by other teams. The scouts are going through players now and do not expect to make any more signings unless we have to and players have been fully scouted. We did take a chance on some players who wanted minimal wages after coming in on trial.


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Alex Laradze - 12th August 2020

Got my first "Rules" surprise today when my team selection was laughed at by Assistant Manager Tigran Yesayan. The Former Armenian International has 22 caps and 4 goals for his country and I thought he was trying to tell me that's how many goals he scored when he waved 4 fingers at me. Nope, that is the amount of Foreign players can be in the whole match-day squad for the cup game. 


Thankfully, I looked over the Ararat-Armenia Yerevan squad and they have even less than we do so in the end I was less worried about losing 0-6 and getting marched out of the country!! It does put a worry on for me that our Youth Academy is not good enough to produce talented players so, this could be a future problem.

Ararat-Armenia 0 - 3 FC Urartu - We dominated the game, shots and possession and we played well the whole game. Most of our foreign players were at the back as that seemed the vital area Artur Miranyan did the rest as he scored two goals on the night. The fans are pleased, the board are pleased so a beer and an early night is in order for me! The second round draw looks kind to us, playing a Alashkert's Reserve team! Guess I had better get the scouts out searching for Armenian talent!


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1 hour ago, Hootieleece said:

Spend this year consolidating and figuring out your squad. 

Also start eating lamb and shwarma....


Hmmmm, yeh! The squad, the nation, why there are so many foreign players. But it's nice to be totally unaware of the League and teams for once!

I could go for that right now!!

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39 minutes ago, theBlackPrince said:

Hmmmm, yeh! The squad, the nation, why there are so many foreign players. But it's nice to be totally unaware of the League and teams for once!

I could go for that right now!!

The discovery process is indeed a lot of fun. 

Good luck in Armenia! 

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Alex Laradze - 1st September 2020

What a month despite most of my best players literally training and not able to play. I guess most teams have these players for Europe and almost have two teams to play. Well, we are not in Europe so the only aim is to get there so some of these guys can get a game rather than just taking up most of my wage budget!! I cannot fault our form at all, I think other teams may be struggling with the lack of home grown players. Better for us I say!



We managed to get two more Armenian signings done before the deadline. The scouts found a player in Mexico with an Armenian second Nationality. His club wanted no wages so we took the chance unseen to take him on, say hello to Bruce El-mesmari. We also offered up most of the future fee on Mher Avagyan to get the left back here for free, what a steal that was! Two more Armenian players to add to the League Squad and that gives us options to start getting a few of our Foreign players some game time.

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Alex Laradze - 1st November 2020

Well it looked like we was going to cruise to the title but we have been brought back down to earth with to poor performances where we did not score and dropped down to 3rd in the table. It is pretty tight from 1st to 8th so every point is going to matter I feel in this league so we need to get back on that winning trial. We need to know if we are going to be heading into Europe or not next season before we spend money on wages for players we may not be able to use, but we still have a couple of months to go. Currently making sure all out young Armenian talent is onto long term deals so no-one can steal them from under our noses. 8 more games, including a Cup Quarter final against Pyunik. The pace of the League is much slower to England that is for sure.



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Alex Laradze - 1st January 2021

It was just a blip as we continue to play well, score goals and look set for a title fight. One thing I cannot control is the money, and we are losing it every month. Bank balance is -£78,000 and that is expected to get worse each month. We are within the wage budget so I'm hitting my targets but the other costs are draining any chance of the club getting upgrades anytime soon. We are fighting Alashkert for the number 1 spot right now and seemed to have pulled a small gap on FC Shirak in 3rd. 

The board have turned me down for a 2nd time for my next coaching qualification, fearing I may leave. I may just leave if they do not grant it and the ideal job at Pyunik has come up. However, I made a promise not to apply for other jobs in the first season and well, I do not want to get dismissed before putting a season together. I'm sure the job will come up again at some point and that upgrade in facilities and tight foreign player rules are made for that club! 


11 games to go and Europe is looking a possibility at this point with a 9 point lead over FC Noah in 4th place. The biggest question is if we can continue at this pace for the season and take a title that probably was not on the cards at the start of the season?


As fully expected, I am not going to look at the intake notes too closely as I just cant see us producing anyone of merit in the next few season. If we get one player for the first team that would be seen as a huge win for the backroom team!


I have at least achieved more than one of the club visions I will be judged on by getting to the Semi-Final of the Armenia Cup. When the draw was done, there was a huge cheer from the players room as we got the best draw possible to play Gandzasar, 9th in the League. We missed the bigger teams of FC Van and Shirak and both of them would be a great final!


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Alex Laradze - 20th March 2021


You know what I said about English football at the start, Well in Armenia it seems January to May is 2 games a month and well, lets just say that just is not enough to keep everyone from going a little crazy. I even went flat hunting seems I'm sure I'll be staying in Yerevan for another season or two. Chances are high if I stay in Armenia it would be the case even if it is with another team. I have grown to like the city and the backdrop of the snow-capped Mount Ararat in the background. Would you know it, now that I speak a little Armenian, the city has opened up to me. Eating good food and wandering through Republic Square has become a daily routine without much football. Now it may be hard to find an FC Urartu fan in the city with so many teams here, but least they are talking about us now and the shock of us leading the table. Long may it continue.

Mount Ararat overlooking Yerevan (Shutterstock)

That reminds me, my contract is due to end soon. Now I can at least speak to the board in basic Armenian, I better brush up on my contract negotiation skills and try and get another year or two deal. I am not totally feeling FC Urartu but I do want to take them into Europe and winning the League this year would really help for other jobs that come up. I am happy to stay, but I would be very interested to join another club with facilities to match my own ambition for Armenian Football.

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Alex Laradze - 1st April 2021

It did not take long for them to offer me a new deal, I did not even have to ask. With the season winding down it was the right move to sign another deal. I went for the two year deal as I feel I may get everything I can out of the club by then, hopefully setting them up to thrive at the top end of the League for years to come. Oh yes, and money for competing in Europe will really, really help.


There was no promises and maybe I should have put some bonus in there too but the cost of living here is not the same as England so I have more than I currently need at this stage of my career. Now, if they reject my coaching qualification again maybe things will not end so well as I need to start progressing on that ladder.

Side note - I forgot to say last time. It really is a free for all once a player has 6 months left on their deal. Get a player signed up well before hand!! Vultures are out there and one slip and the player has gone. I think in the end we got as many as we lost but for promising Armenian talent, need to lock them up on long term deals!

Youth Intake

As expected, not worth the time it took to train any of these guys. Our facilities are just not up to scratch and none of these will be sapping money out the club like last years intake who are stuck here until 2024 on £55 a week each and no-one wants them.


In the League, as I almost forgot we played some football with just 7 games in 3 months which gave me chance to play the team in the 2nd and 3rd team to keep them both save from the drop as FC Urartu 3 was down the bottom for a long time. The Cup game against Gandzasar was much tougher than expected as we only scored late on to secure our spot in the final where we will play FC Van. Now, we have not beat those guys since I have been here so this one may be a tough game.

The League form has been out of this world and we have not scored as much as I would like, we also have not let anyone score in the past 6 games. I have invested all my future foreign players in defence as that seems to be the key to this league and hope that we can find some young Armenian attackers to keep scoring the other end. 

If we lose this thing now, it will be the biggest choke job I have ever seen, period!



We at least know we are playing in Europe and the Champions League pathway will just destroy us, let's hope there is a big pot of money at the end of it to help get us out of debt and mean I can look at spending some to bring players in from other Armenian clubs. 

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Alex Laradze - 2nd April 2021

I was officially invited by the Football Federation of Armenian to the Vazgen Sargsyan Republican Stadium to watch Armenia take on Italy in the Group A World Cup Qualifier against Italy. After managing a draw on the road against Hungary many had hoped to cause an upset and I had VIP seats for the occasion. Most of the top Armenian players are playing abroad with only 8 of the squad still playing in the Armenian Premier League. At under 21 level the majority are still here, but some are already playing abroad, France seems popular at the minute.

Vazgen Sargsyan Republican Stadium - Wikipedia

I also had two of my team in the starting line up, one I signed and one already at the club. Italy would go ahead after 18 minutes but the game was hard fought and they really didn't seal the game until late on when they added the 3rd in the 90th minute. We had our chances and created 7 shots, but Italy were just too good on the day! Anatoliy Ayvazov is now the first choice keeper and has 9 caps. Mher Avagyan won his second cap, his first was against Hungary when he came on in the 84th minute.


I do not like the chances to progress from the Group as Czech will be too strong and gaining a win may be a struggle. It was however, lovely to be invited to the game by the FFA and I hope to get some away trips thrown in also, maybe I can tie it in with a scouting trip?


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13 hours ago, karanhsingh said:

The discovery process is indeed a lot of fun. 

Good luck in Armenia! 

It makes a large change from England and it is enjoyable so far after seeing so many others go a little off the beaten path in Europe I had to join in!

5 minutes ago, karanhsingh said:

Good progress so far, UEFA qualification is always good for the money you get even if you don't make it to the group stages :thup:

Will you look at international mgmt. as well, though I guess its too early for that

International Management is definitely on my mind but I can't even get my next coaching badge so I think it will be a few years away yet. The money I really need as I think this club can only grow so far but I'm going to make them tough to beat in the League. I think if we could play more than 4 foreign players I would be mid-table at best.

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Alex Laradze - 17th April 2021

Today is the day we win the title, I hope. After last weeks 1-3 loss to FC Noah, thankfully we still remain 8 points clear as other teams could not close the gap much. We face bottom of the League Lori Vanadzor and truthfully, we should be playing them off the park! The time is now to get this title in a season of overachieving! 

And we battered them in the first half with 12 shots but still needed Right Back Petr Ten to put us ahead from the spot to go in 1-0 at the half. Team talk was you're doing well but put this game to bed early on in the second half so we can enjoy winning the title. 


The team talk went down well and less than 10 minutes later striker Artur Miranyan scored his 11th of the season to put us 2-0 and the title was basically in my hands! I was showing little emotion on the sideline but inside I was like a small child in a sweet shop with a pocket full of cash!! Artur Miranyan would score a second to make it 3-0 before coming off to much applause. 


Samvel Hakobyan did not want to miss the party and made sure he had a seat at the table with 2 stunning goals late on to make it 5-0 and a performance worthy to lift the title.


And we lift the Armenian Premier League Title with games to spare. What a season, what a team and what a job I've done so far!! I have been told the Oghi will be flowing tonight, whatever that is?!


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Alex Laradze - 19th or 20th April 2021

My head! I think I missed a day or two, Oghi is strong!! I think it was some home brew type, my head still hurts! My phone died, I've got lots of calls to return and messages to reply to but maybe that can wait another few days. Oh wait, Cup Final game next, better drag myself down to the training ground, I really hope I gave the team a few days off....


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Alex Laradze - 27th April 2021

Can you smell that?? Can you smell that Cup Final feeling in the air? No, well I can!

We have a fair number of suspensions and injuries, in hindsight I should have rested those players one booking away from a suspension with this final coming up. Chalk that one down to a rookie mistake and that it should not happen again! It makes us much weaker than we should be but lets try and get a goal early on and see where the game takes us! Both teams line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation so it really is who performs the best on the day!


FC Van vs FC Urartu

2 minutes, only needed 2 minutes!! Russian wing back Petr Ten bombed down the right flank in acres of space, played the ball to the middle which it finally came out to winger Bruce El-mesmari who slotted home nicely to go 1-0 up right at the start. A dream start indeed!!


15 minutes and it is back to 1-1 after some sloppy play in the box allows Russian midfielder Vladislav Vasiljev chance to get a second shot off with the keeper already down after the first was blocked and it back to game on.


65th minute and we are back in front. Some great work down the left flank allows Edgar Grigoryan time to get the cross in. They leave Gevorg Tarakhchyan all alone at the back post and he nods the simple header in from short range to go back ahead 2-1. 30 minutes to go, we are all over them but need to put the game away.


And we did it, we held on!!! What a day, what a team with the historic double!!! I cannot believe the season we have just had. I am in dream land, thank you Aremenia!!


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Season 1 Review - FC Urartu Does the Double in Armenia


Final Table         League Positions         Transfers         Finances         VBET CUP

What a season! The unknown manager with no Armenian language skills guides a team who started the year without a manager to the League and Cup double. Many teams seemed set up for Europe with too many foreign players with a 4 match day squad limit which hampered their ability in the League. To be fair, the team itself was more than capable of winning with anyone who took over (But I wont be telling them that) and we have some promising young players out on loan who will return to help the team next season. We head into the Champions League Pathway for the new season which hopefully will bring more reputation, maybe a few upsets and some much needed spending money!

Season One is in the books and Alex Laradze's name is moving up the ranks.

Your 2020/21 FC Urartu First Team Squad

Player Awards                   Shirt Sales - 86                    Best 11 Season                     Best Overall 11

We played a mixture of 4-4-2, 4-2-4, 4-2-3-1 and 4-1-2-2W-1 just trying to get what worked best. Overall I think the 4-2-31 fits the team we have here and will be the base formation next year as much as I would like to use something esle.


We struggled to get all the players game time with so many foreign players and not enough chances to play them. We focused on the defensive players to solidify the back 4 and that seemed to pay off. It has to be seen how many we can keep on the books to make us stronger for Europe but we have a good core group of Armenian players here to build from.

We actually have 2 goalkeepers who are in the Armenia National Team and they are fairly similar but the younger Anatoliy Ayvazov got the not on the season with 31 games and a 7.18 rating, amongst the highest in the squad. That honour went to Rwandan DC Salomon Nirisarike who was a rock in defence with a 7.43 rating and popped up with 4 goals, mainly from corners. Top scorer was Artur Miranyan who had 18 goals and looks set to be that top goal scorer, but Samvel Hakobyan impressed in limited playing time with 5 goals and much more potential.

Two players lead the way with 9 assists and that is Brazilian Vitinho and new signing, Armenian Mher Avagyan. The was assists from all over the park which is a good sign that we are not limiting ourselves just from one flank. The biggest issue comes when 3 of the back 4 are all foreign and now starting to push toward 30. They will be great options for the next few seasons but we need to look at brining on replacements next season to not leave ourselves vulnerable at the back. We are also desperate for a top quality Armenian central midfielder. 


A new home for FC Urartu - 

Wait, I'm confused. Mayne my Armenian is not quite up to scratch yet... We move to our new stadium but we are still building another stadium? Or we move in but it is not finished? Either way it is great news we finally get a new stadium, but I'm worried about the long term finances and the lack of opportunities now to improve other areas. We will be paying off the loan for 10 years at £14,500 per month, which is about another weeks wages per month. I hope we can get more than 443 fans to attend for more income.



Club Reputation 

One of the big things is to raise the game in this part of the world. To gain better players, to push further into Europe and to gain attention to the game here. Although that says we are still National Reputation and no change, the jump from 1.5 to 2 stars is a big gain. Let's see how a few season (hopefully) in Europe can change that!


We now sit at the top of all team from Armenia wih the same 2 stars rating as Ararat-Armenia and Alashkert.


We still do not have an Armenian Team in the top 15 or even 30 teams in the area we are looking at which shows there is much more we need to do in this League. But at this point, if any of those jobs came up I would have to look at them. Dinamo Tbilisi is the only one that is insecure after a second place finish in Georgia. The Biggest club is Astana in Kazakhstan.



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Alex Laradze - 16th June 2021

We are off to Wales, almost a trip back home to England (well technically it is England they play in) for my first venture into European Football. The New Saints will be the opposition with the first Leg on the road. Overall extremely happy with this as we miss some of the bigger teams until the 2nd Qualifying Round where we could face Knattspyrnufélagið Valur Reykjavík from Iceland or Qarabağ Futbol Klubu from Azerbaijan. Both of those look a much more formidable task to beat. 


We currently have more than enough players trained at club and trained in nation but this will be a key thing to make sure we do not release these players moving forward.


We currently come in at 552nd place in the European Club Rankings.


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Alex Laradze - 6th July 2021

It has been a busy pre-season as we start earlier this year with the European fixtures. We have brought in 7 player with the aim of bolstering our Armenian player count for the League, the best prospect looks like Tigran Petrosyan from Mika. It would be his agent that alerted us to the Gabriel Groznica, saying he was available on a free. We offered him a trial, he impressed and signed a deal on the first day of the trial! He is Croatian so does add to our foreign player limit but looks a great signing for the future.


You might not be able to tell from here but all our best players are foreign players. The Armenian players are starting to catch up which we need, but the balance is still we need a group of 6-8 foreign players to help in Europe. I'm just not sure we can pay for more just for potentially 2 games if we qualify each season.


Overall I think the squad is capable of going on to challenge for the League Title again. We have cut the number of foreign players down to 6 without Armenian second nationality so they all should get good game time. This also does leave us space if one or two must have players come up from the scouts.


Thankfully the Commerical Director seems to know some people and £300,000 for the season was added, great!! Add that to prize money for the League and Cup and we are now in the positive. Let's hope we can make some money in Europe to keep this the top side of the line!

Oh, and as you can see below, they think we can repeat! What is more damaging that 0 of the team highlighted are Armenian....


Onwards to Wales (England) to face The New Saints!

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Alex Laradza- 7th July 2021

Despite dominating the game and 18 shots we only managed to get one in the back of the net which really gives them confidence of taking a goal in the return leg. Salomon Nirisarike would score the only goal, a header from a dangerous free kick at the back post and he would claim player of the game. A great debut for Tigran Petrosyan with a 8.2 rating and he looked every bit the part of a starter for the season. It's tough to be disappointed at winning, especially in Europe but I hope we don't let them get that away goal next week!



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Alex Laradza- 14th July 2021

The start of a new era in a new stadium as 2,758 (18 away fans) saw FC Urartu come away with a huge 4-0 win over the New Saints to book themselves into the Champions Path 2nd Qualifying Round behind a two goal showing from exciting Nigerian attacking midfielder Isah Aliyu. The game was never in danger as TNS hardly had a shot all night and with the comforts at home we got our shooting boots on. Job done in the first round but it will not be so easy to get a result against whoever we face in the next round.






So we are off to Azerbaijan next to face current Champions Qarabag. Infact, they have won the last 8 Azerbaijan Titles in a row and have a large amount of foreign talent on their roster, including Swede John Guidetti who spent time in La Liga with Celta Vigo and Alves (He earns £3,500 a week, which is basically our starting line up weekly wage). This is going to be a huge ask to get a result, but all we can do is play our game, stay tight at the back and try and steal an away goal in the first leg.



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Alex Laradza- 21st July 2021

Moving away from a more attacking formation, replacing the AMC to a DM, FC Urartu frustrated Qarabag and shocked the home team with an individual effort from Brazilian Vitinho to win the game. In the 7th minute, Vitinho took the ball on the wing, turned his man inside out before letting rip with a fire-cracker of a left footer which buried itself into the back of the net past the helpless keeper. Both teams struggled to get much going and we concentrated on defending for the rest of the game, going on the counter when the chances arose. We held on for 83 minutes to come away with a famous victory and now need to try and repeat on home soil. 90 minutes away from a huge tie against Dinamo Zagreb.



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Alex Laradza- 28th July 2021


90 minutes away from a huge shock or disappointment from the larger team coming back and snatching victory away from us. The team are ready, the fans are ready.

Nooooooo, disaster, I put my head in my hands as they score the vital away goal in the 13th minute. This changes the game plan and put them in control!


We actually started to play better after the goal and they didn't really get another chance in the first half. We would get the goal we needed to go back ahead when  Hamza Gasal scored from an almost impossible angle, no-one is sure how he beat the keeper but we didn't care. 33 minutes gone, 1-1 on the day and that made the half time team talk much easier.


The second half started and they battered us from the 50th to the 70th minute and any minute I was expecting them to score and take control away again. They had the chances but thankfully they did not put any away. It would prove to be on the counter attack that striker Artur Miranyan would take the pass just inside their half and have the pace to beat his man and with a beautiful chipped shot, put it over the keeper. 79 minutes gone, 2-1 up meaning they had to score 2 goals to win on away goal! 



YYYYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!! We had done it as I celebrated with the players as the final whistle went. We had beaten the odds and the bigger team and our European adventure lasts another round. Although, no-one will expect us to go much further now, it would be too much to ask? For now, I will take this feeling and enjoy it!

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Alex Laradza- 7th August 2021

This could not have come at a worse time, sandwiched between the two games against Dinamo Zagreb! However, winning a trophy at the start of the season sets the tone for everyone else so we had to put a full strength team out. Alashkert have win this 3 times in the last 6 years but we just had too much for them on the day. With just 3 days rest until our away day trip to Croatia, I hope the team can be fully rested by then! 3rd Trophy in the cabinet already, they will soon need to buy a larger one!


I did not expect to be in the Hall of Fame so soon... But that is motivation to stay a few more years to lead the pack!



Edited by theBlackPrince
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Alex Laradza- 11th August 2021

The greatest match in our history and I did not put a Diary post together.... I just assumed heading to Dinamo Zagreb we would be well and truly beaten. But after an epic first leg where we took a 2-0 lead in the first 10 minutes only to lose 3-4, there was all to play for. And the lads did us all proud and somehow got the win on the road, but we would lose by the away goal rule. I tell you what, that plane journey home was a sombre one despite the win. To lose on away goals to such an historic team, I mean we are so proud but what almost was lingers in the mind, especially with them down to 10 men. On another night we pull off that heroic victory but for now, we look back on a huge European run for us and to the League which we want to win again.


Here are all the results along the way, which are hugely encouraging for the future if we can keep improving the squad.


And now the most important bit, securing the future of the club with this money..... Let's hope to improve something at least and get me my next coaching qualification.


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Alex Laradza - 12th August 2021

Thank you Kameliya!!! Boy was I shocked when this email popped in, we are not out of Europe, why did no-one tell me sooner?! Chalk another one up being a new Manager?!? We get another chance with a trio to Ireland in a game I think we can win. Let's put it this way, there was much worse teams to draw.



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Alex Laradza - 19th August 2021

The rollercoaster of emotions continue as we jet off to Ireland to face Shamrock Rovers for what I think is a place in the Europa League Group Stages? Maybe? Answers on a postcard. Full of confidence we will be going out to score early and then see if we can get the win to bring back for the home leg. 7,562 fans at the Tallaght Stadium including 24 away fans!



(Another) historic night as FC Urartu went to Ireland and came away with the victory and most importantly 2 away goals. It was a huge shame to let them score an easy goal to get back into it but we will take winning 2-1 away from home every time. We opening the scoring with a wonderful finish, across the goal from new Armenian signing Tigran Petrosyan in the 22nd minute and hold on to the half and go in 1-0 up.


Nigerian midfielder Isah Aliyu loves a goal in Europe and a highly skilled goal, knocking it between two defender before slotting home past the keeper to go 2-0 on 59th minutes gone.


They would get a simple tap in goal in the 77th minute, literally stood 3 yards out to tap it home to slightly spoilt the party.


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Alex Laradza - 25th August 2021

We have 1 point from 2 games in the League as games have fallen between European games and I want a fully rested team. I think, looking at this having a foreign based squad for just European games could be a big help as we have to keep performing in the league also. Sending the scouts out as we speak to see what they can find in out budget. But anyways, onto the game. 2-1 up, away goals so we just have to avoid defeat. We have played well at home so far so let's hope this continues! Shamrock Rovers, you are going to leave with nothing and we are taking that Europa League Group Spot. What a road just to get here it is, what a struggle and to think we will have to do this every year.....


Wait.... hold up, that isn't our stadium! Change everything people, least it is in the same City still... Lets hope the 58 fans from Dublin got the memo!



Yawwwwwwwn. It looked like a boring 0-0 draw which was wonderful!! They had only 3 shots on goal the whole game and 0 on target, wonderful. We set up fairly defensive with a DM rather than AMC and this proved to work well. We finally broke them down when Artur Miranyan stabbed home the ball from literally a foot out after the keeper saved a shot from Tigran Petrosyan. A well deserved win, another clean sheet and now we have a full Europa Campaign to cope with. This will really test the squad's ability now to perform in the League and Europe, one we are probably not quite ready for or have enough good players to do both.


Added some more money to the bank, can we finally get some upgrades??


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Alex Laradza - 27th August 2021

Wow, there is lots of money involved for getting this far!! I really, really hope the board will let me loose now and start to upgrade some facilities! We have gone from minus money to millions in the bank! Maybe the future here is bright? I guess we shall see.




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Alex Laradza - 29th August 2021

I am getting sick to the back teeth with this board and their "No" to everything. I literally had to fight tooth and nail, saying I'm not sure I could carry on my job if they did not agree to send me on the next coaching course. This was the same for the Youth Facilities upgrade. This board flat out are terrible, or want all this money as a bonus!



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4 hours ago, karanhsingh said:

Europa group stages is pretty amazing so early on!! This is going very well (and very quick)

I was pretty shocked to be honest but the teams faced outside of Dynamo Zagreb were pretty average from my knowledge of teams. We literally avoided all of the teams that would beat us so I'm enjoying this Europa League as I think we may struggle to repeat without a good draw of games! I do not expect anything from the Europa Group games, they are all vastly superior.

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Alex Laradze - October 30th 2021

Lets just get this out there, I'm officially good at speaking Armenian now! Doesn't matter about the football, that's the real winner here!


Ok back to football, it has been a crazy 3 months, absolutely flipping mental. Since August we have had

7 Games in Europe - Sowpergavat Cup Final, 2 Armenian Cup Games and knocked out the cup and 11 games in the Premier League. We will need a bigger squad if this is what is likely to come at the start of every season. All those 2 leg play-off games for Europe are great, but not when you are playing every midweek also!


So we were knocked out of the Armenian Cup by Ararat Armenia in a flat 0-1 game which followed a loss to Marseille (Yes, that Marseille, I am still pinching myself that the French Giants were here in Yerevan) and a deflating League loss to leaders Pyunik. They really look the team to beat this season and now we are playing catch up as we have lost to them twice. With no other distractions, apart from 3 more Europa Games, the League has to be our focus now to get that top spot into Europe. 


18 Games left in the Season and I think there is 3 teams that can win. Pyunik, Alashkert and us. 4 points can easily be overturn but Pyunik have not have Europe this season so played half the games and only dropped 4 points so far. We might need a little help along the way. Talking about Europe, here is how the others did and I think that is a not bad showing as no-one lost in the first rounds, thankfully. We need 3 or 4 strong teams to improve the League and the standings here in Armenia.





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Alex Laradze - December 9th 2021

What a night in Yerevan, I cannot believe what i have just seen. Real Betis, yes them from the Spanish La Liga came to our little stadium and were played off the park. How we have done this, I don't know but we did it. I ditched the ultra defensive formation we had played in the group stages and stuck to the 4-2-3-1, playing positively and look what happened, the best result in our history! Lets paint the town purple tonight, it is well deserved. But my heart was in my mouth when they put the ball in the back of the net in the 91st minute but it was miles offside, thankfully!


Hazma Gasal opening the scoring with a header from short range, much to the shock of Real Betis. They would equalise be the half (below) with a short range finish.



It would be Artur Miranyan's strike that would cannon off the sliding Spanish defender Jorge Pulido who would put it past his own keeper. These two below were miles offside.


The board will be happy, maybe it is time to ask for some upgrades now?


This one is worth remembering in full, the team, the stats and the win. I don't know how, maybe they had nothing left to play with as they were knocked out already? Doesn't really matter as we won and the result will always be there for someone to research many years from now once more.



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Amazing adventure... what skin do you use?? ... I think FM still doesnt know that Armenian and Azerbaijan teams cant play each other hahaha, same as russian and ukranian

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Alex Laradze - December 30th 2021

Look at that shiny update in the "Coaching Qualification" - National B Licence for me. Thank You, Thank You!! Finally on the next step, and guess what, The board agreed to the next one with no questions asked. Maybe they just like money and when they have money, they say yes to thing. Let me ask for a few more things....


Oh look at that, same meeting, Youth and Training facilties upgraded! It is about time, the facilities here are pretty useless! Cost less than £150,000 so that is cheap, long way to go to get the facilties that we need her to produce and train the players.



So we end the year still behind Pyunik but only 3 not 4 points. They have been playing well and we need that little bit of help from someone. We did drop 2 points in the draw to Alashkert and a poor loss to Shirak after the drubbing from Marseille. Hey, we scored 2 goals on them which many teams will not do! As mentioned that win against Real Betis is on that will be remembered forever as far as I can see and the home attendance is creeping up. Can we soon get to 1,000?


The games really slow down now we are out of Europe but what a run it was. 11 games left and the big one in January see's us on the road to Pyunik, lose that and it may be hard to catch them. Win it and we really are in it and will be a battle to the finish line. All to play for, just need to avoid losing more than a couple to stand a chance.


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5 hours ago, ucdark said:

Amazing adventure... what skin do you use?? ... I think FM still doesnt know that Armenian and Azerbaijan teams cant play each other hahaha, same as russian and ukranian

It was one I found someone else on here using so downloaded it called Tato. It isn't quite 100% to my liking but like to try and use a different skin for each story.

I guess for un-playable leagues that most people will not see the match-ups they probably don't go to that detail. The database I'm using needs some work also but again, guess not many people have ever managed in Armenia which is why it appealed! 

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Alex Laradze - January 23rd 2022

Reading and early morning email about 68 year old Vadim Abramov who guided Uzbekistan to an Asian World Cup Play-Off Qualifying win over China then retired from management?! They would finish behind Iran and Australia but beat China 3-1 over two legs.






Well, it is "slightly" further away then I expected seems it is "only" a few countries away! Currently ranked 60th in the World, up from 78th at the start of my career. The "White Wolves" have not secured their spot at the 2022 World Cup and are looking for a new manager to lead them. Their top clubs do lack in top class youth facilities but the current crop of players have several season's left in them it seems.


Well, whatever happens, I've applied for the job? What do you all think I should do if they actually give me a call as I am going to sleep on this one....... 

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