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[FM22] The Ballad of Benjani - Phase 4 - The emotional high point has been reached - How far long will he keep this up?

13th Man

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13 hours ago, karanhsingh said:

What a win! I think that'll be another defining moment for your season.  

It really could be...time will tell.  I was not expecting it though!

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11 hours ago, Netm said:

Great win, nothing better than getting one over Guardiola!

To get two in one season as well!  I actually have done oddly well against his sides in my time playing FM.  He's not the most flexible and everything has to work right, so even though he always has fantastic players, if you can figure out how to disrupt his sides, you can beat him...if you have the right players of course!

[I obviously know that real life Guardiola would find my flaws and tendencies in a minute and a half and wipe the floor with me, in case that needs saying!]

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A new streak starts now


After the high of beating Liverpool at Anfield, Portsmouth’s second trip to the city of Liverpool in as many weeks ends in frustration. This Everton side is starting to look like their new boogie team - replacing Stoke. 


It was simply a terrible performance, and this time there weren’t two late goals to save them. Portsmouth were in the game until a stoppage time goal sealed the three points for Everton, but even with the tweaks, Everton played keep away all game and frustrated Portsmouth.  So ended a 14 game streak in the league without defeat for Portsmouth, and they hadn’t lost in any competition since their defeat to Norwich in mid-November.


Benjani promised a new streak would begin the next weekend…and so it did.




To put our focus domestically for a moment, Portsmouth managed four wins and a draw after the loss to Everton.  They also progressed to the Semi-Finals of the FA Cup and kept pace with a rampant

Manchester City at the top of the Premier League table.

Keeping the Pace in the League




In the league Portsmouth made things tough for themselves but won against Burnley and Aston Villa.  In both matches, the scorelines flattered their opponents, but the three points were all that mattered.  Newcastle again frustrated Portsmouth - another team Benjani tended to struggle against - but Price rescued a point in stoppage time with a stunning run from inside his own half, beating three defenders on the dribble before tucking the ball into the net.




Rivals Southampton potentially did Portsmouth a huge favor as they defeated Manchester City.




Entering the final stretch of the season, Portsmouth sit four points back from title rivals Manchester City, but with a game in hand.  Arsenal too, lay in wait, hoping both their rivals will slip up.

FA Cup - 3-0 is a very nice scoreline



Portsmouth ended March with two FA Cup matches in one week - the Norwich match had been originally scheduled for a few weeks prior, but Portsmouth’s European adventures forced a postponement.  However, a heavily rotated squad took care of Norwich, despite Norwich dominating the ball.  The scoreline flattered Portsmouth however, with two of the three goals coming after the 89th minute, and a first half goal coming from the spot.


At the weekend, the first team dominated Leicester, with Price scoring a brace with CB Faes adding a third from a corner.

He cannot be stopped!



This is basically the James Price Show at this point.  He was rested for the Norwich FA Cup tie, meaning the only game he failed to score in was the all-around sorry performance at Everton.  Seven matches, seven goals.  A lot of the goals were set up by excellent moves, but often he would create something out of nothing.


Incredibly, Price sits only joint 3rd in the scoring table with 24 goals.  Haaland has an incredible 39 goals in 30 appearances, and Immobile (at Arsenal) has 32 froom 28 appearances.

EURO Cup II - A tale of own goals


With Portsmouth fighting for a title, Benjani had decided to rotate heavily in the Conference league.  Against Besiktas he left a few starts in key positions for the trip to Turkey, which turned out well when Enrique scored to help bring a 2-0 scoreline back to England and allow him full rotation for the return fixture that ended 4-2. 


It had been an own goal from a corner, however, which got them on their way in Turkey, and history repeated itself when Ukrainian side Zorya came to Fratton Park.  That own goal would prove to be their only “shot”, as the visitors didn’t manage a single shot as they lost 4-0. Benjani was again able to rest all his starters for the return leg in Ukraine - including giving an 18 year old his debut as a right wingback with RWB Neco Williams filling in at WCB.  The poor kid looked out of his depth, and likely wouldn't make another first team appearance - both of Zorya’s goals came from the right - but it allowed him to rest his entire first choice backline, so it was worth it.


[Have to say here that it was bittersweet to crush this team knowing how much the people of Luhansk and across Ukraine have suffered since February. Of course, this is all pretend bit still.]


A moment of appreciation for EURO II stars Andres Garcia and Marco Da Graca is in order at this point.  Garcia was now on 10 goals and Da Graca had 7 in Europe’s third competition - very much helping Benjani to comfortably rest starters midweek.  Da Graca was the one who was most impressing Benjani. Though reduced from a starter to rotation player with the arrival of Price,  he hadn’t complained at all about his reduced status. He continued to give his all whenever he came on, whether it be in Europe or as a sub domestically.


In the end, Portsmouth comfortably progressed to the Quarters as they won by an aggregate score of 6-2 both times.


The draw for the quarters saw them matched up against their group rivals Athletic Bilbao. It was a chance for revenge when it counted most…or a change to be beaten by them yet again.

What next?

April would be a brutal month. With Portsmouth competing on three fronts, there would be no rest. A trip to Wembley to face Chelsea, a European tie against quality opposition in Bilbao, and a league race that was going down to the wire.  There were big games in the league too - a visit from Chelsea, a trip to Old Trafford, and the South Coast Derby.


UP NEXT - April Showers (of fixtures)

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Great stuff! Looks like you're still very much in it, thanks to the saints. 

Also quite impressed that Zorya made it this far, but of course you put an end to their adventure. 

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Excellent narrative of the cinematic showpiece, it was as if I was there.

As long as you're within 1 point, it's always on.  Great of Southampton to do you a favour, just need to keep your amazing win run going and hope City fluff one more...!

I'm keeping the faith - all the pieces are falling into place at the right time.

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12 hours ago, karanhsingh said:

Great stuff! Looks like you're still very much in it, thanks to the saints. 

Also quite impressed that Zorya made it this far, but of course you put an end to their adventure. 

Thanks!  Zorya's road to the second knockout round was kind, but Portsmouth not so kind.  Still, if I were on the other side, I'd be writing something like "It was the end of the European adventure, but who would have thought a smaller club from Eastern Ukraine could make it all the way to the second knockout round in a European competition!  Losing to a club 2nd in the Premier League is nothing to be ashamed of either!"

11 hours ago, SixPointer said:

Wow Total football in full flow! With a shot at the title kutgw

Loved your piece on the CWB as well great depth! 

It's finally looking a lot like total football now.  It's not all the way, but it's quite close.  And yes, I obviously loved writing that CWB piece...

33 minutes ago, Brooklyn Jensen said:

Good luck for the busy end of the season run mate! Rotation and playing combinations of players who can still win will be crucial!

At this point, it's as much about finding ways of resting enough players each game while still remaining competitive enough depending on the match.  Brutal but an interesting puzzle in its own way.  I've never found an interesting way of writing it up, but it's crucial to being successful.


6 minutes ago, SinlessCity said:

Excellent narrative of the cinematic showpiece, it was as if I was there.

As long as you're within 1 point, it's always on.  Great of Southampton to do you a favour, just need to keep your amazing win run going and hope City fluff one more...!

I'm keeping the faith - all the pieces are falling into place at the right time.

I'm enjoying it immensely.  Even if the season ends without a trophy, it's still been a ride.  I don't know about City fluffing anymore though.  They're out of Europe and the FA Cup, so it's all the League for them.  Portsmouth are still fighting on three fronts!

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Just to give an idea of what April looks like for Portsmouth, and that’s assuming they don’t get past Athletic Bilbao and get a bonus match on the final Thursday of the month…

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3 hours ago, 13th Man said:


Just to give an idea of what April looks like for Portsmouth, and that’s assuming they don’t get past Athletic Bilbao and get a bonus match on the final Thursday of the month…

Some huge games in there!

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Here comes the drama of the run in. As mentioned before, April will be quite a month. Big games at every turn, and really, every game is huge when the stakes are high and your side is challenging for the title. Rather than have one giant post, I’ll be splitting into smaller ones in case it’s a bit much to read in a sitting.


First…a speech!!!


Scene - April Showers (of Fixtures)


Fade in.




An aerial shot of Portsmouth harbor, Spinnaker Tower easily visible. The Benjani theme can be heard softly on an English Horn (a lower relative of the oboe - a soft, rich and expressive woodwind instrument), playing alone above a lightly undulating, warm synth pad that is only audible if you really listen.


Rising tremolo string chords alternate with muted brass chords as the shot flies across the city, until we see Fratton Park, its stands nearly full, stragglers gathered outside the ground trying to get in. The strings and chords rise in unison, and this time the Benjani Theme is played with a bit of grit on the trombones.




[Yes, by the way, that’s the imagined Fratton Park with increased capacity as we have in this save at this point.]




The music stops and we’re in the broadcast booth, the commentators facing the camera, Fratton Park behind them and the sound of the crowd in the background.


Commentator 1, “Welcome to Fratton Park on this beautiful spring afternoon here on the south coast, where Portsmouth host Chelsea.  Both sides come into this match with a lot to fight for.  Portsmouth, amazingly, are in with a shot at the title, while Chelsea are fighting to get into the Champions League spots, as they are currently sitting two behind Liverpool.”


Commentator 2, “That’s right.  Adding to the intrigue is the star of this Portsmouth’s side's unlikely title challenge is 20 year old James Price who arrived from Chelsea this summer for just over £30 million.  It seemed like a lot for an unproven youngster at the time, but Benjani has been proven right about the young man, and Chelsea must be kicking themselves for selling him.  Price is currently third in the scoring charts, with Chelsea’s Lukaku sixth. Chelsea will be fooling to forget about last year’s breakout star Enrique though, who has quietly gone about his work this year, still scoring at least every few games!”


Commentator 1, “These two sides met in a fairly uneventful draw back in December, but the stakes are different now.  Both sides need three points, and I can’t imagine either manager will be happy with a draw.”




We see the dressing room, the Portsmouth players chatting, getting their boots tied. There’s an obvious tension as they go about their routine. Benjani finishes talking with [assistant manager] Dunne before turning to the players, who quickly quiet down.


“You are all professionals,” Benjani begins, “this is your job. People on the outside? They think it’s all glamor and fun, but I know. I was in your place not that long ago.  You don’t make it to this stage without hard work, commitment, and, yes, talent. It’s a blessing to be paid well to play the game we all love, but it’s also a grind. It’s harder than most people realize to keep yourself physically and mentally ready to play at your best, to maintain peak performance…and that’s putting aside any family, love, or life issues that you might have."


"This next month, these next six weeks, will be a test unlike any you’ve ever faced. Make no mistake, the pressure is on. We’re fighting on three fronts, we have the chance to win the Premier League, the FA Cup, and even the Euro Conference League.  We’re going to need everyone in this squad to contribute, because we’re going to have tired legs and tired minds."


"But all of you know this. All of you know how much is riding on every match. You know that dropping points likely means the end of our title challenge. You all know that City are out of the cup, out of Europe, that they only have the league. You know that we have both Chelsea today, and Manchester United in the league in a few weeks. You know we have a European quarter final later this week, the South Coast Derby late in the month. You don’t need to be reminded of the pressure. You don’t need me doing exactly what I’m doing now do you?”


Benjani pauses a moment, a few chuckles come from the players.


“Instead, I want you to pause a moment. Pause and think about the historical context of this moment.  Some of you have been here since we were fighting it out in the Championship, since we barely survived relegation two years ago. I’ve been here almost seven years now, when this club was stuck in League One.”


Another short pause.


“But none of us have been here as long as the fans. Seven years ago I was appointed manager of a club stuck in the third division. Fifteen years ago the club's continued existence was in question.”


Benjani’s speech is intercut with pictures of headlines like ‘Portsmouth go into administration’ and ‘Portsmouth Relegated to Championship’ and then the word  ‘Championship’ changes to ‘League One’, then ‘League Two’. 


“When you take the pitch tonight, I want you to listen to the crowd. Listen to the thirty thousand supporters cheering for you. They remember when the club nearly ceased to exist. Many of them might have been part of the supporters association that bought the club and saved it. They will be pinching themselves tonight, and for this whole run in.”


Now the speech is intercut with pictures of Portsmouth fans.




“Fifteen years ago they weren’t sure that their club would survive, now they’re here cheering on their side as they compete for a title! They know that we’re playing sides that have four, five times our budget. They don’t expect us to win the league, the FA Cup. If we win three trophies or none, we’ve exceeded expectations.”


Cut back to Benjani, who takes a long pause before continuing.


“You are all professionals, I don’t bring up the supporters to try and manipulate you into some sense of loyalty to the club. Some of you have only been here a short time, some of you will leave this summer. It is the world we live in.”


The camera moves along the rows of players, panning around the room.


“So I’m not saying ‘do this for the fans’, I’m not telling you to do this for the club. Do it for yourself, for your teammates, for your family, for your next contract, do it to impress someone you fancy, do it for whatever reason keeps you going."


“What I am saying is that when that motivation stops working, or when your legs feel like lead, and your mind fills with fog - listen to the crowd. Listen for those tens of thousands of voices cheering your name, singing songs about you. Know that tens of thousands more are in the pubs and at home doing the same. Feel that energy and adulation wash over you…and then go out and earn it again. And again…and again and again and again, until the final whistle of the final game this season.”


There is a long pause, a heavy silence in the room. Then Nathan Collins stands up. All eyes turn to him.


“Lads,” he says with calm intensity, before taking a deep breath and yelling out, “LETS F@€£ING GO!!!!”


The dressing room erupts as all the players jump to their feet and yell unintelligibly before running out of the room.


The camera waits until the players have cleared, leaving Benjani and Dunne standing there together.


“Good speech boss,” Dunne nods, “did you practice that a lot?”


“Hours,” Benjani nods with a little smirk.  “Did it for my wife a few times too for feedback.”


“She give good advice?”


“Absolutely.  The bit about not doing it for the fans was her idea.”


“And doing it for the girlfriends or whatever?”


“Oh that was me,” Benjani chuckles.


“I have to admit, though,” Dunne muses, “I think I liked Nathan’s speech better…”


Benjani chuckles, “Now, let’s go see what happens, yeah?”



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Posted (edited)



Fratton Park

4 April 2027


Commentator, “...Chelsea deal with the Portsmouth corner, but [CMa] Bayliss collects it outside the box.  He takes a touch, and spreads it wide to the corner taker [CM] Levitt.  Chillwell is out to close him down but…oh Levitt stops on the ball and Chillwell overruns it. Levitt looks up…GOAL!!!  OFF THE POST!!! [link to gif] Enrique finds a yard in a crowded box and Levitt’s pause gives him the time to pick him out.  Enrique’s clever finish is off the post and in!!!  Portsmouth’s early dominance finally pays off!!!”


Portsmouth 1 - Chelsea 0




79th min


“The second half has been all Chelsea.  Benjani has been in the technical area constantly, trying to find some way of retaking control of this game, but nothing has worked so far. It’s another thrown in Portsmouth’s half, Yeremy throws it in for Chelsea, Samuel takes…OH MY IT’S a HORROR Challenge by Hannibal.  He hasn’t been on the pitch more than five minutes and he’s made Portsmouth’s task that much harder! Has the young midfielder just doomed Portsmouth’s title bid?!”


Portsmouth 1 (red card) - Chelsea 0




90 (+5)


“[CB] Collins with another towering header to avert the danger…he’s been magnificent today. The ref looks at his watch…and blows for full tine!!! Portsmouth manage to hang on and earn three points. It wasn’t they’re best performance, but the determination they showed to hold onto that lead was something to behold. A fantastic performance from Portsmouth’s defense…”





“Another cheer goes up in Fratton Park as news filters in that Manchester City have just conceded a stoppage time goal and drawn with Brighton!!! Suddenly, with their game in hand, Portsmouth are in control of their destiny!”






Edited by 13th Man
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Athletic Bilbao (both matches) and Brentford

Athletic Bilbao - Portsmouth

Conference League

San Mames

8 April, 2027


“Last time Portsmouth visited this ground they deserved to win, this time they were rightly bested by a superior Athletic Bilbao side.  Portsmouth looked lost, tired and overmatched. Bilbao didn’t dominate per say, and take a slim 1-0 advantage to England next week, but they seemed simply better than Portsmouth across the pitch. For their part, Portsmouth never looked like scoring…”



Brentford 1 - Portsmouth 2

Brentford Community Stadium 

11 April, 2027

“…and Portsmouth keep pace with Manchester City at the top of the table as they comfortably take care of Brentford away behind a brace by midfielder Bayliss. His second, a brilliant volley, proved the winner when Brentford got a goal back in stoppage time…”

Portsmouth - Athletic Bilbao

Fratton Park

15 April 2027

Commentator 1, “There will certainly be some eyebrows raised with Benjani’s team selection…”

Commentator 2, “Yeah, I think we can clearly see here that he’s prioritizing the FA Cup semi at the weekend over this match. He’s made nine changes from this weekend’s starting eleven…”



6th minute

“An early corner here for Portsmouth, Hannibal to take. The ball comes in…ITS AN OWN GOAL!!! ANOTHER OWN GOAL!!! Stunningly, this tie is level only six minutes into the return tie as Portsmouth are the beneficiaries of an own goal from a corner for the third time in this competition….”

Portsmouth 1 (1) - Bilbao 0 (1)




12th minute

“…Izquierdo over this free kick…he makes his run up…AND CURLS IT BEAUTIFUL INSIDE THE NEAR POST!!! What a beauty!!! It’s 2-0 here at Fratton Park!!! Portsmouth lead the tie on aggregate!!”

Portsmouth 2(2)- Bilbao 0 (1)




16th minute

“…but Portsmouth aren’t satisfied yet, setting up another promising move…Garcia is through…GOAL!!!  It’s a delightful chip by Garcia to put ”

Portsmouth 3(3)- Bilbao 0 (1)




64th minute

“...Mings sends a hopeful ball forward, Da Graca knocks it down into the path of Garcia…he rounds the keeper and SLIDES IT HOME FOR HIS SECOND OF THE GAME!!!”

Portsmouth 4(4)- Bilbao 0 (1)



90 (+3)

“An incredible performance from a heavily rotated side sees Portsmouth through to the semi finals of the Conference League…all while resting the starters for their trip to Wembly at the weekend.”

FINAL! Portsmouth 4(4)- Bilbao 0 (1)




Cut to an excited dressing room, and Mings makes his way over to Benjani.


“Boss,” Mings asks, “can I say a word?”


“Of course Tyrone,” Benjani nods, “you captained the side today after all.”


“Lads,” Mings starts, and the room quiets for him, “Let's take a moment to savor this. When we took to the pitch today, there was not a soul in this building or watching at home who believed we would win that match. Not you, not me, certainly not the boss…”


Benjani smiled with an incline of his head.


“…but not only did we win, we dominated. Bilbao did not know what happened, and by the time they did we were 3-0 to the good. Let’s have a round of applause for Andres [Garcia] with another two goals. Let’s savor Ivan’s [Izquierdo] stunning free kick. Let’s savor that we’ve just gone and given the gaffer some selection headaches!”


A huge cheer goes up amongst the players covered in mud, with wry smiles from the subs/regular starters.

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Someone give this man the thread of the year award.  This is hands down the best movie I've never watched.  It's everything that GOAL wanted to be.  Who would have known that Benjani was destined for such greatness?

I knew City would drop points somewhere... Big up the Brighton for making it happen.  Even FM wants you to win the title!

And then after you all but gave up on the Bilbao game - or so it looked - I didn't see a 4-0 turn-around coming.

Good luck with the FA Cup... I'm crossing everything for a treble!

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38 minutes ago, karanhsingh said:

Well done holding out for the win with 10 men! Dare I say it - hallmark of a champion side.

Time will tell…


38 minutes ago, SinlessCity said:

Someone give this man the thread of the year award.  This is hands down the best movie I've never watched.  It's everything that GOAL wanted to be.  Who would have known that Benjani was destined for such greatness?

I knew City would drop points somewhere... Big up the Brighton for making it happen.  Even FM wants you to win the title!

And then after you all but gave up on the Bilbao game - or so it looked - I didn't see a 4-0 turn-around coming.

Good luck with the FA Cup... I'm crossing everything for a treble!

GOAL’s got nothing on Benjani!

and yes, totally gave up on the Bilbao game to find the squad come through in a big way. The decision has been made to let the squad play in the EURO II….how far can they go?

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Chelsea (FA Cup semi final)


Wembley Stadium 

18 April, 2027

Commentator 1 - “Portsmouth continue their fairytale season with a visit to Wembley. This club has been here before, lifting the trophy in 2008 and losing in the 2010 final to who else but Chelsea. That second trip to the final was the end of an era for the club. After that, they fell into administration, and tumbled down the leagues…”


56th min

“…Chelsea making inroads down the right flank…a cross comes in…Collins…he’s missed the header…it falls for Mount…a tackle…LUKAKU SCORES!!!! [WCB] Moran nicked the ball off Mount only for it to fall right into Lukaku’s lap with the goal at his mercy. Chelsea are 1-0 up here at Wembley!

“It’s been an even game so far, and it took a mistake from the normally reliable Collins to open this game up.”

Chelsea 1 - Portsmouth 0




64th min

“Enrique is through…only his touch and the covering defender send him wide of the goal. He pauses at the byline, lays the ball back to Bayliss…out to Rosier…here’s the cross. Parried by [keeper] Strakosha, BUT IT'S FALLEN TO ENRIQUE WHO TURNS IT IN WITH THE HELP OF THE FAR POSTA! PORTSMOUTH ARE LEVEL!!!”

Chelsea 1 - Portsmouth 1




88th min

“Portsmouth have a throw-in in Chelsea territory…neither side seems to be able to break the deadlock…”

We see Benjani in the technical area, shaking his head.


“The last thing we need is extra time,” he seethes to his assistant manager before yelling out. “Push forward!!!”


We see WCB Moran look at him questioningly and point to himself. Benjani nods and waves him forward with a sweeping motion.


Commentator, “Rosier throws it in…Moran collects, passes back to Rosier. Milenese has made a run into the box, Rosier tries to find him…He’s been shoved to the ground by Kamara!!! That sure looked like a penalty from here but we’ll have to wait to see what FAR says…”





90th min

We see Enrique place the ball down, and the sound of the crowd fades away. We follow him as he takes steps back. He takes a breath, then he runs out of frame. We see the faces of the Chelsea and Portsmouth players watching…


The crowd erupts, the Portsmouth players run past the camera as the Chelsea players slump.

Chelsea 1 - Portsmouth 2




95th min

“It’s the final whistle! Portsmouth survive a late flurry of Chelsea corners to make it to the FA Cup final! 19 years after lifting the trophy, and 17 after losing in the final against Chelsea before the club’s tumble through the leagues, Portsmouth have announced their return to the top on English football with a hard fought win over Chelsea! Enrique again sinks Chelsea, this time with a brace…”





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Posted (edited)


Manchester United


20 April 2027

Portsmouth Training Grounds



Benjani is addressing his side on the training pitch, the driving guitar, bass, and drum track from Phase One Making A Tactic song makes a subtle reappearance [think Eye of the Tiger meets Highway to the Danger Zone]


“They are likely to be playing a 4-3-1-2, and really they’ll be a front three.  Normally against the big sides we’ve been playing narrow, but today we’ll play wide.  Let’s force them to defend the width of the pitch, pull them out of position.  But they’re dangerous, Greenwood has scored five against us over the past few seasons, and with their two up front I want you wide center backs to stay back a bit [WCB on defend].  BUT - [cover CB] Nathan [Collins], I don’t want you to just sit back and cover.  I want you in line with the other centerbacks [CB cover defend].  We’re going to keep the high line today, but we’re going to try and catch them offsides [use offside trap].  I know, it’s a risk, but we can’t let them beat us in behind…Maxence [Caqueret], I want you deeper, marking [AMC] Barnes, but I don’t want you sitting back [CM->DM, DLP->BWM(s)].  I want you winning the ball and tackling hard.”


“Lads, I’ve made some adjustments to counter their strengths, but I still want us playing our game.  I want you to take the game to them, Old Trafford or no.  Let’s play like this is our pitch.  We’ll dominate the wings and hope to nick a goal or two…”



[Forgot to switch the WCBs to defend before snapping this screenshot, also quickly changed the midfield pairing to BBM-CM(a) after the first ten minutes.]




Old Trafford

21 April 2027

Aerial shot of Old Trafford, we hear the commentators voices before we cut to them.


Commentator 1 - “Welcome to Old Trafford where a resurgent Manchester United are set to face Portsmouth. Both these sides were in action in the FA Cup this past weekend, but only one progressed to the final in May. That same side are also in the midst of a title challenge, but what’s truly stunning is that we’re talking about Portsmouth and not Manchester United!”


Commentator 2 - “Portsmouth’s away support must be pinching themselves right now.  Of course, there’s some tough football to be played.  Not only have United been brilliant lately, their FA Cup tie was on Saturday, giving them an extra day of rest.  Benjani will have his men running on adrenaline and not much more.”


Commentator 1 - “Manchester United have recovered from a poor first start to the season and are making a strong push for the Champions League spots.  They’ve won five straight, a draw against Newcastle the only thing spoiling a winning streak that otherwise would have stretched to fourteen matches. Portsmouth are, stunningly, in a race for the title and this game is one of their two in hand on Manchester City.  United could do their cross city rivals a huge favor here with a win, or Portsmouth could take a huge step towards securing an unlikely title…”


22 mins

“Enrique…spreads it wide to [LWB]Pellegrini…first time in behind…Price has left Maguire for dead, only the keeper to beat…GOAL!!! PRICE WITH A HUGE GOAL HERE AT OLD TRAFFORD!!!  Will you listen to that, the away stand is in full voice…”


[To the tune of the Price is Right Theme Song call and response]





Manchester United 0 - Portsmouth 1




37 mins

“Pellegrini wide left, he puts in a cross…Price gathers just outside the 6 yard box…he turns, trying to find a yard of space…and he lays it into the path of Bayliss…GOAL!!! The previous goalscorer turns provider with a brilliant piece of football!!! Price had a chance at a shot, but saw Bayliss peeling off his defender and selflessly assists his teammate to put his side 2-0 up!!!”

Manchester United 0 - Portsmouth 2




39 mins

“Bayliss peels out wide right, he’s got time and space…he floats a cross in…Maguire misjudges the header…ENRIQUE SCORES!!!  A powerful header from the Spaniard increases Portsmouth’s lead to 3!”

Manchester United 0 - Portsmouth 3




48 mins

“[WCB] Moran with another great tackle to take the ball of Greenwood as Manchester United again fail to get out of their own half.  The young spanish defender hasn’t let [FW] Greenwood get anything going today, and that’s after the striker has scored in five of their last six meetings.  [BBM] Milanese lays it back to [DM] Caquerat, gives it back to Milanese…one touch to Bayliss…now to Price with a left to right run…IT HITS THE POST AND…has it gone in? It spins along the goal line and YES! IT FINALLY CROSSES THE LINE! OOOOOH WHAT A GOAL BY PRICE!!!! Maguire is again found wanting as Price engineers a bit of space for himself but that takes nothing away from a stunning finish by this young striker.  What a goal!!! Portsmouth are flying here at Old Trafford!!!”

Manchester United 0 - Portsmouth 4



51 mins

“Moran again keeps the ball from Greenwood, this time with a header.  It falls to Bayliss, who sends it wide to [RWB] Rosier first time.  Rosier is in behind…and Price has left Maguire for dead again.  Rosier only needs to…GOAL!!! Rosier’s cross is perfectly weighted and James Price complete’s his hattrick tonight against none other than Manchester United at Old Trafford.  What a performance from the young man!!!”

Manchester United 0 - Portsmouth 5




90+2 mins

Commentator 1 - “The final whistle has gone, Portsmouth have come to Old Trafford and James Price has written headlines all by himself with a super hattrick.”


Commentator 2 - “To add to that.  The goals were great, but I was most impressed by his assist.  Having the presence of mind to pick out Bayliss when the goal was right there?  That showed maturity beyond his years.”


Commentator 1 - “Now will you listen to this!  This ground has largely emptied, but the Manchester United supporters who have remained are not only cheering young James Price as he takes a bow for the away support, but they’re singing too!”







As the rest of the Portsmouth side jog out to wave to the away support, another song rises up…


F#ck off City!

F#ck off City!


Commentator 1 - “We apologize to our viewers for that language…”


Commentator 2 with a cuckle - “The United support certainly won’t be happy at their sides performance, but if there’s one thing that might take the sting out, it’s that the result has put Portsmouth in with a good chance to grab the title out from under City…”


[Side note to any Man Utd fans who might be feeling triggered at seeing Maguire so completely laid to waste by Price. I considered adding a 'trigger warning' but it would have certainly spoiled everything]







The Run in!!!



Pundit - “A fascinating title race is nearing its conclusion as we head into the final five games of the Premier League season.  Portsmouth sit two points back from Manchester City having played one less.  Both will play derbies at the weekend with so much on the line.  Due to their exploits in the FA Cup, Portsmouth will then have to host Norwich only two days later on Monday.  Stunningly, they will then be forced to play a European semi final in Italy on Thursday as they travel to face Atalanta…”






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On 29/07/2022 at 00:58, karanhsingh said:

That is incredible :eek: what a result!! 

And now you need United to go and beat City...

Benjani thought the tweaks might do the trick, but didn’t expect 5-0!

8 hours ago, SixPointer said:

What a result!! Great execution of your game plan! A title at fratton park would be something else for those loyal Pompey fans!

still a lot of football to be played…


6 hours ago, Hootieleece said:

This is quite the compelling story.... will this end the trilogy of films?

Keeping fingers crossed for a title!

If Benjani can pull off a title and/or an FA Cup win, the films may have run their course. We’ll see if I keep up the save in that case, as I am invested and want to see how far Price, Enrique, and a few youngsters progress.

Fall short, though, and the journey will have to continue…

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Three Games, Six Days


Fade-in to a Portsmouth pub, scarves, pictures and shirts filling the walls. The place is filling quickly, a sea of blue shirts, many with the name Price, Enrique, and Bayliss, on the back, and several Benjani throwbacks.


We hear the commentator vaguely through the speakers in the pub as the patrons mill about.


Commentator - “Here are the starting lineups, and let me tell you, there are some surprises in Benjani’s team selection…”


There’s a gasp, some groans, and little by little, the patrons in the pub look at the screens in shock.


We cut to three young men in full Portsmouth regalia.


“What the f@ck is Benjani thinking?” Says one in soft exasperation.


Another lets out a breath and shakes his head, “I know we’ve got a lot of fixtures at the moment…but no Price? No Collins? Both the **** wingbacks???”


“Lads,” says one in a throwback jersey, “let’s have a little faith, yeah? This is basically the same side that beat Bilbao 4-0 when we didn’t give them a chance. Bilbao were fourth in La Liga, Southampton…14th.I think Benjani knows what he’s doing.”


The other two blow him off.


“I never expected to win the title,” the first one groans, “but I’d much rather have lost to Norwich than throw this match!”


“This side can handle the Scummers,” says the third, “Benjani even pulled Enrique early against United to make sure he could start this one! You know how much he loves scoring against them!”

“Yeah well,” says the second, “I’m just praying Sarri doesn’t pick Maguire again today…maybe United will do us another favor…”




The three patrons are standing at the bar looking up, and as we watch their faces get more and more worried.


Commentator through the speakers - “Brooks is through the Portsmouth defense far too easily…”


The whole bar lets out a collective groan and many curses, and a few objects are thrown through the pub. The man in the 2008 Portsmouth kit slumps onto the bar, arms propping his head. 


“What was that???” Cries the first one.


“Absolute ****!” Cries the second as he jabs the third in the throwback, “Benjani knows what he’s doing, eh?”


“We still got seventy minutes to make it right,” the third one says weakly.


The other two begin to talk below what we can hear while the third young man watches the screen.


Commentator through the speakers - “Portsmouth kick off, with a joyful rendition of When the saints go marching in being sung in full voice from the away end.”


Cut to the screen, where we see a shot of Benjani clapping in the technical area, yelling out to his players and pacing a little.


Commentator - “Benjani continues to look composed out there, but he has to be second guessing his team selection…”


“As he f#cking should be!!!” yells someone in the pub.


Cut back to the third man, the one in the throwback, still slumped at the bar. Suddenly his eyes light up a bit, he lightly hits his friends to get their attention, and over the next few seconds the rest of the bar begins to look expectantly…


The bar explodes, beer flying and the Enrique song rings out.


“Enrique comes from Spain,

To score goals, goals, goals

And when he scores,

We cry more, more, more

With his head, feet and HAIR,

He scores goals, goals, goals

When he scores again

We cry more, more, more!





“Come on! Come on!!! See Da Graca…yes! Get in!!! GET IN!!!


The bar explodes, beer flying and now the Da Graca song rings out.


Da Graca, Da Graca,

He comes from Italy!

To score for you and me!”




Commentator over the speakers, “[BBM] Milanese receives the ball, he’s got space to turn, he drives at the box…it’s a speculative shot….ITS IN!!!”


The pub erupts.


“We need a f@cking song for Milanese! He’s been brilliant.”


“I know mate! Barely got a game before December, now he’s been fantastic whenever he’s in!”


The celebrations die down.


Commentator, “A speculative boot…Gaich wins the header…”


“Oh for f@ck’s sake Mings…”


Commentator, “Haller is in here…”


Groans ring out and curses and worse are thrown about.






The pub gets more and more excited, a moment of anticipation!


“DA GRACA!!!! Portsmouth lead 4-2!!!!”


Da Graca, Da Graca,

He comes from Italy!

To score for you and me!”




Commentator- “[RWB] Rosier now down the right, he floats a cross…DA GRACA WITH THE HEADER!!! It’s a perfect hat trick, one with each foot and now one with his head!!!”


Da Graca, Da Graca,

He comes from Italy!

To score for you and me!”


We see the third young man, the one with the throwback kit, turn to his friends. We see he’s got an 2008 Benjani shirt.


“I f@cking told ya, didn’t I?”


“I have never been so happy to be wrong!” Says the first.


“Beating the scummers with the squad players. Love it! Insult to injury and all that!!!”




Norwich - Portsmouth 

Fratton Park

26 April 2027


Commentator- “This is it - Portsmouth’s game in hand over Manchester City. Coming just two days after their 5-2 derby win, Portsmouth are looking to climb to the top of the table. Norwich have fallen off a bit from their early season form but remain in the European places. They’re very focused on keeping the ball, and their 4-2-3-1 shape will look to pull Portsmouth’s 3-5-2 out of position…”



29 min

“Norwich with a rare foray forward…Portsmouth have been in control since Price’s early goal…they work it into the box but [LWB] Pellegrini gets a toe in and wins back possession, dropping it to [CM] Levitt.


Levitt with the ball in his own box, Norwich applying pressure. He turns, looks up, turns again and tries to play it back to his keeper…only Firmino is there to intercept and lay it into the goal!!! What a horrible mistake by Levitt and it’s level here at Fratton Park. There was no need to pass that back under pressure. Portsmouth had been in control…”


Portsmouth 1 - Norwich 1




73rd min

“Norwich continue to make things hard on Portsmouth, keeping the ball well and disrupting anything the home side tries to put together…”

“[WCB] Bourgiorno surges into the box…he’s taken down? A fair challenge? It’s given as a PENALTY!! VAR is checking but Portsmouth have a lifeline here!”

Cut to Benjani in the technical area.


“Dylan! Dylan!” Benjani calls to Levitt, who jogs over.


“Dylan,” Benjani begins, “you’re going to take the spot kick.”


Levitt looks up at Benjani, who nods back.


Commentator as we see Levitt placing the ball on the spot. - “It’s Levitt to take! He has the chance here to make up for his mistake earlier…or to be doubly to blame for dropped points.”


Commentator 2 - “I believe he is the one on the list to take this anyway, with Enrique, Bayliss, and Hannibal not in the game, but Benjani is truly putting a huge amount of trust in Levitt right now.”


Commentator 1 - “He looks confident…he looks at the goal…begins his run up…AND SCORES WITH POWER AND PRECISION INTO THE RIGHT CORNER!!! Redemption for Levitt!! The relief is clear on his face and Portsmouth are now sitting top of the table with three matches to play..."








Pundit - “What a month for Portsmouth! It’s hard to even list the highlights with them rising to the top of the Premier League table, progressing to the FA Cup final, and they ended the month by putting one foot in the Conference League final with a 3-0 win over Atalanta in Italy!”






“They’ve been scoring for fun, and everything seems to be clicking at just the right time for this squad. With three games to play in the league, Portsmouth have every chance to pull off an unlikely Premier League title. With 20th placed Bournemouth and 14th placed Brighton closing out the season, a talented but underperforming Tottenham are their last major hurdle to clear…





[Benjani and his players sweep the monthly awards…]

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Kevin De Bruyne spoiled the awards party. I'm sure someone on your team deserved to invite instead of him.....lol!

Thomas Tuchel at Man City! Did they tire of Pep and Klopp? (Klopp usually takes over for Pep in my saves.)

At the rate your going Tuchel will be looking for a new job.

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7 hours ago, SixPointer said:

Benjani’s boys are onto something big this year!

40 minutes ago, karanhsingh said:

Nervy one against Norwich! But glad your boys come through. Can't wait to see how it all ends up. 

The penalty against Norwich, finished by Levitt after his mistake, was very very much a sports film moment.

5 hours ago, Hootieleece said:

Kevin De Bruyne spoiled the awards party. I'm sure someone on your team deserved to invite instead of him.....lol!

Thomas Tuchel at Man City! Did they tire of Pep and Klopp? (Klopp usually takes over for Pep in my saves.)

At the rate your going Tuchel will be looking for a new job.

De Bruyne must have felt very left out to be amongst all the Portsmouth players. Levitt, Collins, or even Da Graca (with the derby hat trick) could have gotten 3rd place I say!

And yes, the normal manager move is a swap between Klopp and Pep. Portsmouth were too far down the leagues, but I think Klopp may have taken over the German NT then moved to Real Madrid or something. Pep’s been at Liverpool for years. It’s Tuchel’s first year at City after Biesla underperformed in 25/26. Tuchel’s already out of the cups and Europe, so he needs the league (not sure if a League Cup will cut it…)

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13 minutes ago, DavidBeckham said:

What a smashing win against Man United :eek: Keep up the excellent work mate!

Definitely one of the matches of the season. It’s a toss up between that result and the 2-0 over Pep’s Liverpool to start the season. Both came down to solid game plans executed to perfection!

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That's an awesome result over United.

New thread highlight is the James Price song, I've now got Brucey in my head going "G'dgame, g'dgame" every time I see a win.

Keep it up... So close now!!

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10 hours ago, SinlessCity said:

That's an awesome result over United.

New thread highlight is the James Price song, I've now got Brucey in my head going "G'dgame, g'dgame" every time I see a win.

Keep it up... So close now!!

Love it, was pretty proud of the song and the win.

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[We approach the end of the season. Can Benjani and his men get over the line, or will they falter with the finish line in sight??? We have one last league post after this one then two cup finals to go over…]

Tottenham Hotspur Stadium


3 May 2027

“This has been an even match as we enter the final stages of the first half, with neither side able to find a way through. Portsmouth may be edging possession and have looked more dangerous, but Tottenham have kept Price and Enrique quiet. While a draw at Tottenham would normally be a fine result for a side like Portsmouth, you can see that they are looking for that win to keep them in the title race. Especially with City already up against Newcastle…”

“It’s a foray up the left flank for Tottenham, [LB] Vina is met by [RWB] Rosier, he stops on the ball…and lofts a pass towards the top of the box in the direction of McTominay. It’s a bit low…but it sets up…MCTOMINAY WITH A STUNNING VOLLEY!!! That was unstoppable from the Scottish international. Normally known for breaking up opposition moves, McTominay scores a contender for goal of the season from 25 yards, and he’s put Tottenham in front!!!”

Tottenham 1 - Portsmouth 0


45 min

“Tottenham have a corner late in the first half…Son to take. It comes into the near post…Fofana with the header!!! It’s 2-0 to Tottenham on the stroke of half time!!!”

Tottenham 2 - Portsmouth 0


55th min

“[LB] Vina, to [newgen CF] Confuorto, he holds the ball for a second then reverses it into the path of Son…he’s clean through on goal!  Onlly the keeper to beat…IT’S A POWERFUL SHOT AND IT BEATS STOLARCZYK!!! 3-0 to Tottenham!!”

Tottenham 3 - Portsmouth 0


72th min

“Confuorto again, another reverse pass to Son…only he’s forced wide this time.  But the cutback to Confuorto…A FOURTH FOR TOTTENHAM!  Portsmouth’s vaunted defense is again in shambles and beaten far too easily by some tidy but simple play from Tottenham’s front three!”

Tottenham 4 - Portsmouth 0


94th min

“A terrible day in London for Benjani’s Portsmouth, and quite possibly the day when their dreams of a title were dashed.  Their previously excellent defense let Tottenham through far too easily, while Price and Enrique were both anonymous up front.  Confuorto and Son were, on the other hand clinical, as Tottenham managed to score on four of their eight shots. [CMa] Hannibal took a bit of the sting out of the scoreline as he scored an excellent goal late on, but it was far to little and far too late.  This loss lets Manchester City retake the lead at the top of the table as they ease past Newcastle by 5 goals to 2.  With two matches left in the season, and City looking so dominant…”



UP NEXT - Simplicity

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10 hours ago, karanhsingh said:

Ouch... what are the last 2 fixtures for both?

City - Arsenal, Sheffield United

Portsmouth - Bournemouth, Brighton 

1 hour ago, SinlessCity said:

I never really cared for Spurs, but I now dislike them.

They didn't see the script 😔

That's a rough set back.

Love the emotional investment. Son and the really good regen CF made sense, but the McTominay volley from 25 yards was brutal. May have opened the game up more and caused the scoreline. Plus I also don’t like Spurs…

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Portsmouth Training Grounds

8 May 2027

Benjani is working with a handful of players, “Bournemouth are decent enough at keeping the ball, but they don’t have the quality to pass through us if we get tight. Make sure we…”

Slowly, we hear more and more yelling echoing around. First it is distant.

Assistant manager Dunne looks at Benjani.

“Dont!” Benjani warns.

Dunne’s face scrunches a bit, then he turns and jogs over to the sideline.

“We agreed no phones until the end of training!” Benjani calls after him.

Dunne looks back with a guilty shrug but keeps jogging. All eyes remain on him, the players shifting nervously. Joyous yelling continues to ring out from the neighborhood, and from inside the nearby building.

Dunne picks up his phone and let’s our a childish squeal of delight, “Arsenal just broke the deadlock…wait…update…ANOTHER GOAL FOR ARSENAL! They’re 3-1 up over City! It’s the 88th min!!!”

Benjani turns to his players who are celebrating as if they’d just scored.

“This only makes our training more important…”

Benjani tries to bring the squads focus back, but no one is listening, and when Dunne comes over he accepts his hug.



Vitality Stadium


10 April 2027

Fade into the dressing room.

“Lads,” Benjani says, “we had a tough loss last weekend, but now Arsenal have done us a favor. But I don’t want you to think about that. Tonight, it is simple. We play as well as we can, we will win….”

Cut to Price getting on the end of a cross and heading it past a diving keeper.

“…Bournemouth like a possession game, but we’re better at it. Know that. We are the better side...”

Cut to a beauty of a Levitt free kick into the top right corner. Cut to a towering header into the net from Collins.

“If you think about the title, you will not be putting your whole self to this match, and Bournemouth will frustrate us.”

[WCB] Boungoirno converts another corner into the goal.

“Think about the ball, your teammates, the opposition, and we’ll win.”

[WCB] Faes slams a ball into the net from outside the box.



American Express Community Stadium 


16 May 2027

Final day of the season


Commentator - “This is it. The final day of an incredible season. A year ago, Liverpool had long since run away with the title, but this year a fairytale ending could just be in sight for Portsmouth, a club that were in League One just six years ago. Their title challenge looked dead in the water two weeks ago after a tough loss in London, but Tottenham’s north London rivals gifted Portsmouth back their slim, one point lead at the top of the table. The last obstacle between Portsmouth and an historical title is a Brighton side that are fighting for Premier League survival…”



Cut to the dressing room, where we see a truck shot along each wall, the camera passing by the players who are all doing their own pregame rituals. There is less laughter and more nerves than usual, but there is a quiet intensity, not unlike the manager’s. A manager whose voice we hear though we don’t see him yet.

“We’ve had a whole five days since the last match, so I’m assuming everyone is fully rested.” Benjani says, as the camera rests on Enrique. He is sitting forward, his arms on his thighs, one leg wiggling restlessly. He looks up with a little smile, his tall, dark line of hair standing straight up.

“The Bournemouth match was perfect,” Benjani continues, and Enrique nods along, “An early goal, then just finishing our chances. Let's do that again, yeah? This is really simple. We win, the Premier League is ours. A draw probably won’t be enough. A win though, and Haaland could go score a hundred and it wouldn’t matter. No one expected us to be here, to be in this position. If we fall here, we still took City the final day. And we still got two Cup finals to look forward to. But let’s just get the win today, yeah?”

Enrique jumps up, the camera pulling back to capture all of him. He takes a deep breath and follows his teammates out the door.

A tracking shot follows him, walking through the hallways towards the pitch. The sound of the crowd gets louder.  He gets in line in the tunnel just, the crowd sounds are only just muffled now. The camera turns, pivoting around Enrique until his face is in the frame. He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath.

Everything around him goes dark, and when he breathes out and opens his eyes, suddenly he’s on the pitch. The camera pulls back again and see the penalty box behind him, the keeper in the goal. He runs towards the camera even as it pulls back, and a Brighton defender comes into view. The defender has the ball, looking up pitch. We hear “man on!” but it is too late. Enrique muscles the much bigger defender off the ball, sending him stumbling away.

Enrique turns, pushes the ball in front of him, and hits it hard from just outside the box. Though Enrique’s back remains in focus, we can see the ball curving towards the goal, the keeper struggling to get back into place. The keeper makes a forlorn leap but his fingertips can’t reach. Enrique peels away as the ball floats under the crossbar, and the camera follows. 

A distant cheer goes up as red shirts [Portsmouth third kits] swarm towards Enrique. The camera orbits Enrique, arms raised, as his teammates surround him. There’s a gleam in his eye and the camera zooms in on his face for a moment before he is dragged out of frame by more and more Portsmouth players.

When his face re-appears he has that same calm intensity and the camera zooms out until we see him stepping back after placing the ball on the spot. Another deep breath, then the run up. The ball leaves the frame but we see Enrique again peel off with his arms spread out and a trail of Portsmouth players in his wake.


We’re back in the dressing room.

“Brilliant,” comes Benjani’s voice, “we’re looking good, but don’t let your concentration drop. You all know what to do, go do it! Most of you probably know that City are level with Sheffield United, but Haaland already has one, and that means he’ll probably have a hat trick by the end….”

Enrique leans over, and we see Price next to him.

“James,” Enrique says, “you need to get a hat trick today, try and catch up with Haaland for the golden boot.”

Price chuckles a bit, “He’s already on 48 for the season, no chance of catching him.”

“Then 45 mins to get, what, 17 goals?”

“15,” Price corrects, “unless he scores more.”

Enrique pats his shoulder, “45 minutes James.”

“45 minute lads!!!” Yells [CB] Collins running by.

That quiet intensity returns to Enrique’s eyes.




Enrique has his foot on the ball again, with [CF] Da Graca with him. The crowd is loud all around them.

“Marco!” Enrique yells over the crowd. “Your turn. James is out, you’re in. They just got one back.”


“Eh?” Da Graca shrugs, “you’re the scoring forward now…”

“Hope they agree,” Enrique leans in, “Hope they forget you’ve been scoring this year…”

He gives Da Graca a little shove.


Enrique looks up, we see him send the ball wide right from the top of the box. A figure passes behind him, we hear the commentator’s voice as Enrique watches.

“…out to [RWB] Rosier…he puts the cross in…Da Graca with a late run…A POWERFUL HEADER FROM THE SUBSTITUTE DOUBLES PORTSMOUTH’s LEAD!!!”

Enrique leaves the frame his mouth in a joyous yell, but we hear only the sound of the cheering crowd behind the commentator.

“The celebrations are surely starting in Portsmouth as we speak. 3-1 up with only five minutes plus stoppage time to go….”




We see the squad on an open topped bus, Premier League trophy held aloft, as we hear Benjani speaking.

“At the beginning of this year, I don’t think anybody anywhere gave us a chance at winning the title. Not anyone out there, not anyone in this room. Even two weeks ago, everyone, including me, had us written off. City were too good! But every one of you earned this. Earned this season. You are all legends. I don’t care if you started almost every game, or came in as w sub a few times…every one of you was crucial to this win. To this season. And we got more…two cup finals in which all of you will get the chance to shine again…”




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Great job with the title! Congrats! The Spurs game (don't like them either) was perfectly scripted to add the right amount of drama in just the right place. :D

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We never stopped believing!  Who would've imagined that Arsenal would be the ones to give a helping hand...

What a fitting end to a rollercoaster of a season.  I hope they've got a Benjani statue on order, just not from the guy that made this one:

Cristiano Ronaldo Has A New Statue, And We're Very, Very Disappointed

Well done mate, richly deserved.  A brilliant re-telling of the season, thanks for sharing!

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Congratulations on winning the Premier League. I really like the fact that you are also looking for specific qualities while recruiting players and don't go in for every half decent wonderkid hoping that he will come good. This story has had a lot of good progression. Strangely enough, I loved the first season in the Premier League where you just survived, because it added to the realism.

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Congratulations on winning the EPL! Benjani is a god on the south coast!!! Breathtaking season and fully deserved, a great commitment to your style of play has blossomed and delivered the big domestic title!

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Benjani the Great! Benjani the Conqueror! Epitaphs don't really describe the man who led Portsmouth to the Title....this group will be as famous as Leicester City of 2015 Fame. (Even if the Preseason Odds were better)

I guess the films are over.....but the "Fan Fiction" will continue.

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22 hours ago, Netm said:

Great job with the title! Congrats! The Spurs game (don't like them either) was perfectly scripted to add the right amount of drama in just the right place. :D

Right??? I was heartbroken. Was thinking that I did all this creative writing only to have to go back and do it again another season…But then City fell to Arsenal and the rest was history!


21 hours ago, Sahajpal Oberoi said:

Congratulations on winning the Premier League. I really like the fact that you are also looking for specific qualities while recruiting players and don't go in for every half decent wonderkid hoping that he will come good. This story has had a lot of good progression. Strangely enough, I loved the first season in the Premier League where you just survived, because it added to the realism.

That was the idea - make it not all about wheeling and dealing and force myself to go after an ideal. Made the success that much sweeter. To be fair, the drama in that first Premier League equaled or maybe even surpassed the title year. A narrow escape!


19 hours ago, SixPointer said:

Congratulations on winning the EPL! Benjani is a god on the south coast!!! Breathtaking season and fully deserved, a great commitment to your style of play has blossomed and delivered the big domestic title!

The style of play definitely blossomed with the combination of the right players and the right tweaks. The CWBs really sealed the deal. Total Football!


15 hours ago, Hootieleece said:

Benjani the Great! Benjani the Conqueror! Epitaphs don't really describe the man who led Portsmouth to the Title....this group will be as famous as Leicester City of 2015 Fame. (Even if the Preseason Odds were better)

I guess the films are over.....but the "Fan Fiction" will continue.

As you say, the films have run their course - with a little postscript of the FA and Conference League finals. Have mixed feelings about continuing the save. On the one hand, the story seems to have reached its conclusion, on the other, there’s a lot of players I’d like to see reach their potential and it’s hard to leave a well oiled machine and start over when the side is playing just how I wanted them to…

Think I might put in another season, maybe two, but without nearly the level of write up. Then do the 5 year sim to see if what Benjani created can last…

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End of Season Awards

I want to give a shout out to a strong candidate for Player of the Save in Dylan Levitt.  Signed on a free after being released by Manchester United, Levitt has consistently made Portsmouth a better side when he’s been in the team, despite being a seemingly limited player.  He joined while Portsmouth were in the Championship, and has kept his spot over the following years as Portsmouth climbed the table.  After helping his side to win the league, he made it into the Premier League Team of the Year.  He’s joined with possible Player of the Save runner up Jacob Stolarczyk who joined Portsmouth in their first season in the Championship and has progressed very well with the club as it has risen through the tables.



They are joined by 2/3rds of Portsmouth’s backline in Nathan Collins, and one of the signings of the year in Alessadro Boungiorno.  Speaking of signings of the season, you’ll never guess who the absolute signing of the season was…




With 29 goals in 37 appearances, the 20 year old James Price arrived from Portsmouth an unknown, and went on to lead Portsmouth’s heroic charge to the title.  That young man was only kept out of the team of the year due to two prolific strikers in Haaland and a timeless Immobile.  Haaland, lives up to his human cheat code billing by scoring 50 goals in 36 appearances. 



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End Credits

[To be clear, I still may give this save another season or two, though I do have another save idea in mind. I certainly won’t be having all the film business. If I do continue, it’ll likely be much less frequent updates, big matches, or tactics posts.]


Bulawayo, Zimbabwe

Fade in, we see Benjani on the touch line, he yells something short and claps as young players sprint by.


Narrator - “We find Benjani back in Zimbabwe, where the youth league he founded in 2021, and largely funded through the Benjani Mwaruwari Foundation, has turned into a national phenomenon. We are just beginning to see the fruits of this investment entering the Zimbabwe national youth sides, which have made significant progress in international tournaments.”


Cut to an interview with Benjani.


“Yes it is good to see the young people succeeding on the pitch, but just as much I have loved doing my part to help thousands of players participate.”


Narrator - “Benjani returns to Zimbabwe every summer to check in on the progress of the league, as well as visit trainings and matches…”


Cut to shots of Benjani surrounded by young players - often in Portsmouth kits - or coaching training, and also dressed as a ref.


Narrator - “We catch up with Benjani after one of those matches…”


Interviewer, “Benjani, how much do you enjoy returning to your home country every summer?”


“I love it, of course I love it. I have found a footballing home in Portsmouth, but it is important to my soul to stay connected to where I came from, and to my family that still lives here. It’s also important to give back, and to give young people the opportunity to play this game, as well as to have better pitches, better equipment, better training than they’d otherwise get access to.”


Interviewer, “Is it a bit nice to get away from all the pressures of being a Premier League manager?”


“Get away?” Benjani laughs. “I can’t get away from all that! Not ever. I’ve been on video calls with the scouts and staff daily. I was looking over stats for right wingbacks before the match. No, I might be far away from Portsmouth, but I cannot leave behind the pressure.”


Interviewer, “Do you look at stats often? You have a reputation for being a man manager and motivator.”


“Yes, I’d say I came more naturally to that side of management, but I’ve learned the power of stats in recent seasons. For example, when I’m looking at wingbacks I’m looking not just at assists and tackles, but at key passes, at clear cut chances created and distance covered per match.  Those kinds of stats give you more info  than a few matches scouted, can help you find players you might otherwise miss. I look for players that will fit into the team we’ve built, not just good players.”


Interviewer, “You’ve now not only won the Premier League, but also added an FA Cup win to the trophy cabinet, meeting and exceeding that side you were a part of in 2008…”





[The disallowed goal was such a terrible call - Bayliss was not offsides, Enrique was, and not part of the play - that Bayliss went and made it right nine minutes later. Hannibal and Price (playing through the pain with injections) rounded out an easy win]


“No, no,” Benjani laughs again, “I was already at Manchester City then. That was Kanu who scored the winner in 2008.  I actually told the dressing room in my speech that I needed an FA Cup because I didn’t get to be part of that match!”


“Right…right, of course…What I was saying was that you’ve got your side playing above their abilities, playing beautiful football, and you’ve done the double. You’ve won manager of the year. How does that affect your motivation to keep going?”



“Well, a great footballer and manager once said ‘After you’ve won something, you’re no longer 100 percent, but 90 percent. It’s like a bottle of carbonated water where the cap is removed for a short while. Afterwards there’s a little less gas inside.’ I’d like to think that I’m immune to that, but my players and I will certainly have to contend with that. Look at Leicester after their title win! The side got picked over, but they also weren’t the underdogs any more were they?”


Interviewer - “I’m sorry, was that a Cruyff quote? I didn’t realize you were a student of his!”


“I’m a bit more than a student,” Benjani’s eyes shine and he puts on a knowing smile.


He pauses for a moment, as if waiting for something…something that never comes.


Interviewer, “Do you care to elaborate?”


“I think the football my side plays speaks for itself, don’t you?”


“That it does, Benjani,” the interviewer chuckles, “though that's quite a statement for you to liken yourself to one of the all time greats in Cruyff.”


“You are right,” Benjani nods, “I haven’t had half of his success, at least not yet, but I believe my side plays as close as anyone to his ideals, at least in the modern game.”


“So, you’ve navigated Portsmouth out of the doldrums of League One, up through the Championship, and now you’ve won the Premier League and an FA Cup. What’s next for Benjani?”


“Well,” Benjani leans forward, “I haven’t won a European cup yet…”




[Tough result in the Conference League final. Benjani kept the faith with the heavily rotated side that had beaten A. Bilbao and Atalanta (not to mention Besiktas and Zorya). An easier decision considering the FA Cup final that happened a few days prior.


BBM Milanese got a goal in the 3rd minute, but then Frankfurt started dominating shortly after, and were ahead before the 20th min.


 2 yellows in a single minute Frankfurt’s Amurbat changed the complexion of the match, but Portsmouth could only get one back in regular time. Bayliss scored shortly into extra time, and that should have been that. Then, however, the Frankfurt’s fresh forward scored ten minutes later from a counter. I have to admit being distracted by my wife during the goal, having been overconfident that the side had things under control. Worse, Portsmouth gave up a free kick just outside the area, and Waldschmidt got himself a brace in extra time to sink Portsmouth’s hopes of a treble.


Still, Frankfurt had looked set to run away with the match prior to the red card, so it was, in the end, a fair, if frustrating result.]


Benjani will return in - PHASE 4 - The Emotional High Point Has Already Been Reached (but we’re gonna keep milking this until we can’t anymore)


Unfortunate postscript - this story has proven especially fictional by the fact that real life Benjani was just sacked as manager of Zimbabwe side Ngezi Platinum after winning just 3 of the 12 matches he managed. Turns out he might not be cut out for management in real life...

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Again, great job with the thread. Not just the FM game, but the whole presentation, lovely. I'm biased due to what I enjoy in career update threads, but this does indeed seem like the perfect ending for a narrative driven thread. Already, I'm looking forward to your next one.

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On 06/08/2022 at 01:08, Netm said:

Again, great job with the thread. Not just the FM game, but the whole presentation, lovely. I'm biased due to what I enjoy in career update threads, but this does indeed seem like the perfect ending for a narrative driven thread. Already, I'm looking forward to your next one.

The next one is currently being researched/considered, but probably won't drop for a bit.  I got into the summer transfer window and what to see what Benjani can do for another year or two...


On 06/08/2022 at 02:47, Hootieleece said:

Disney HAS to Milk it!


Great Job! It is threads like these that show how bad mine are....

Now the Goal for Chapter IV is the Champion's League Title!

Oh, I will milk it.  We'll see how long the save interests me, but I'm about to start the next season and still feel invested.

Side note - I always enjoyed your threads.  Totally different from mine, but that's the spice of life!

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This is it.  PHASE 4.  Like Marvel, this Phase will be far less emotionally satisfying, the overall quality will be down but I'm going to milk it for a little longer.  Hopefully, also like MCU Phase 4, it'll be enjoyable enough...So here we go with some looking back (squad anaylsis) and some looking ahead (transfer time) to come soon...

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  • 13th Man changed the title to [FM22] The Ballad of Benjani - Phase 4 - The emotional high point has been reached - How far long will he keep this up?

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