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Mountain Passes Through the Alps


keeper#1
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After getting Middlesbrough back to the Champions League, I was looking for a new save.  I'm a builder.  I like to push a club as far as they can go and then go look for another project.  I wanted to some place where I was familiar with some of the teams but not familiar with others.  So, I'm heading into the Alps as I look to have a journey through the Alps starting at the smallest clubs and finding my way to the top.

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The save will take me through the center of Europe.  It will stretch from France in west to Slovenia and Croatia in the east.  It includes some of the clubs in northern Italy as well as southern Germany.  The heart of the clubs run through Switzerland and Austria.  The clubs in the spine of Italy are not included because those mountains are the Apennines which are not part of the Alps.

Interactive map

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All of the Alpine countries are included in the save as well as England and Spain - the only two Big Five nations not in the Alps.  These countries are added to keep some competitive European balance.

A true journeyman would have me starting unemployed but there were only two open jobs at the beginning of the save and they were way above where I wanted to start my save.  So, I started at the lowest reputation club in the save....NK Fuzinar in Slovenia.

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The club has expectations....not be relegated and then continue to be a top-half 2nd division club but not really push for promotion.  I aim to change that even though they play at what appears to be a stadium on par with most US high school stadiums.

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The first step, as always, is to make sure that the finances stay stable.  That's the key with these smaller clubs especially in Eastern Europe.

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Funizar Club Vision.png

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2 hours ago, Muttley84 said:

Any reason to why Juve and Torino are moved to South America on your interactive map? ;)

Interesting idea, would be following...

Good question and thank you for pointing that out.  I missed it when I was putting the map together late last night.  I've updated their locations.

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August 2021

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The season has gotten off to a great start for the semi-pro Fuzinar.  We are already on nine points after five matches and well clear of the relegation zone which is just two teams.  We had a tough start against Gorica.  We got out to a 1-0 and had a chance to make it 2-0 with a penalty kick.  That kick was missed.  Gorica tied the game and then took a late lead on a penalty kick of their own.  The Dob game was a mess.  We were down 2-1 and pushing for the tied when our left back Dejan Nesovic was sent off.  Dob earned a penalty shortly there after to make it 3-1 and then kicked us in the teeth with another late goal to win 4-1.  The four games, in between the losses, were solid games with the opposition never getting a whiff of the goal.

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The player of the month was midfielder Kan Kovac who scored three goals and added in two assists.  Jan Novak, who plays as a hybrid right winger/forward, leads the team with four assists.  The back line is in a bit of flux due to a pair of injuries and the Nesovic suspension.  Hopefully, we have enough depth to get through this crisis and maintain our promotion contender standing.

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After spending nine hours on hold for my job, over the last two days, I've had plenty of time to play some FM.  We have powered through September and October and our now halfway through the season.

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We had a nice little cup run into the First Round which means won in the Qualifying Round.....board expectation #1 met!

League play has been going very well.  Our defense first approach has us in every match.  Over the two months, we lost just one league match back in early September when we were going through injuries along the backline.  Those injuries persisted all through September as we went the entire month without a clean sheet.  We came into October strong with back-to-back 1-0 victories before reverting to our September trend of allowing a goal per game and hoping that the offense can produce goals in order to win the match.  The reason: injuries and suspensions along the back four.  

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We lost to Gorica, at the beginning of the season, which is why we are sitting behind them in the race for promotion.  I really don't think relegation is going to be an issue for us.  We could make a strong push for promotion if we can keep the backline healthy.  Suspensions will happen and I'm willing to live with those but injuries just inject an element of randomness that is tough to account for.

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We have two bangers in the attacking three.  Center forward Mateo Verunica and left wing/forward Ziga Pesjak lead the team with seven goals.  Verunica can score in the air and with the ball at his feet.  Pesjak routinely beats the wing-back with his pace and gets behind the back line leading to either a goal or creating a chance for one of his teammates.  Midfielders Jan Novak and Kan Kovac are the creative sparks and do an excellent job of keeping the defense on their toes.  Both of them can either cut the backline open with a pass to one of the forwards or bomb a shot from deep that beats the goalkeeper.  Novak has three goals (T3rd on the team) and four assists (team leader) while Kovac is tied with Novak with three goals and has three assists as well.

Just five matches remain until the winter break.  After the winter break, it is a sprint to the finish with 10 matches but some long periods of rest between them.  Only one match per week and some weeks have zero matches.  Can the tiny semi-pro Fuzinar maintain their form through the break and the lack of matches to continue their promotion push or will they fade into the middle of the table?

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Plan is to have the youth intake post up tomorrow morning (US time) and end of season, hopefully, tomorrow afternoon or evening....depends on how much of work time I get to spend on hold tomorrow.

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2022 Youth Intake

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In terms of CA, this is a decent intake.  In terms of personality, this is an awful intake..  Four "low determination" players, one unambitious player, one unsporting player, and one fickle player.  No real good positive personalities.  Lots of "balanced" personalities and that's all to get excited about with the personalities in this intake.  The good news is the three top players, in terms of CA, play in different stratas of the formation.  I've got Matic Dukic at center forward.  Davor Radosavijevic on the right wing and Anze Koren at left back.  Good news for the team going forward.

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Dukic is a slow lumbering player.  But he is, at age 16, one of the smartest players on the team.  He moves without the ball, he's willing to put in the work to help the team and he is the best finisher on the team.  Probably best suited to a target forward or maybe a poacher role.  I like my poachers to be a bit quicker but if he can be in the right place at the right time, it could work.

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I want to focus on the 2nd highest PA player from the intake, Bostjan Kalsek.  Another slow player but, like Dukic, is very smart on the ball and willing to work for the team.  Needs to work on his passing but definitely has room to grow as an attacking/central midfielder.

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Anze Koren is a quality all-around left back.  Fast enough to track back on defense if he gets caught up in the attack.  Strong tackler.  Smart on the ball and brave with the ball.  Could push for a spot  on the first team  starting next season.  Definitely good enough to be a rotation option or super sub off the bench.

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35 minutes ago, keeper#1 said:

2022 Youth Intake

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In terms of CA, this is a decent intake.  In terms of personality, this is an awful intake..  Four "low determination" players, one unambitious player, one unsporting player, and one fickle player.  No real good positive personalities.  Lots of "balanced" personalities and that's all to get excited about with the personalities in this intake.  The good news is the three top players, in terms of CA, play in different stratas of the formation.  I've got Matic Dukic at center forward.  Davor Radosavijevic on the right wing and Anze Koren at left back.  Good news for the team going forward.

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Dukic is a slow lumbering player.  But he is, at age 16, one of the smartest players on the team.  He moves without the ball, he's willing to put in the work to help the team and he is the best finisher on the team.  Probably best suited to a target forward or maybe a poacher role.  I like my poachers to be a bit quicker but if he can be in the right place at the right time, it could work.

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I want to focus on the 2nd highest PA player from the intake, Bostjan Kalsek.  Another slow player but, like Dukic, is very smart on the ball and willing to work for the team.  Needs to work on his passing but definitely has room to grow as an attacking/central midfielder.

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Anze Koren is a quality all-around left back.  Fast enough to track back on defense if he gets caught up in the attack.  Strong tackler.  Smart on the ball and brave with the ball.  Could push for a spot  on the first team  starting next season.  Definitely good enough to be a rotation option or super sub off the bench.

Nice enough intake. Left back looks an asset and I agree the striker as poacher could be lethal if he can even get to double figures for speed.

Do you have a HOYD? As I’d like  to see his profile. Lots of players with good mental attributes 

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3 hours ago, SixPointer said:

Nice enough intake. Left back looks an asset and I agree the striker as poacher could be lethal if he can even get to double figures for speed.

Do you have a HOYD? As I’d like  to see his profile. Lots of players with good mental attributes 

This is my HoYD.  He was part of the backroom setup when I took the job.

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Decent enough for this level.  Could use some more Determination and better traits for media-handling.

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1 hour ago, keeper#1 said:

This is my HoYD.  He was part of the backroom setup when I took the job.

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Decent enough for this level.  Could use some more Determination and better traits for media-handling.

Surprised you don’t have more professional personalities with him potentially rubbing it on the players. 

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The season came to end with Fuzinar just four points off the promotion playoff.  We flirted with the top two clubs but they were just too strong for us each time we played them.  A tough February left us struggling to find form heading in the nitty gritty part of the season.  Just could string enough wins together to really push Gorica for that playoff spot.  If we got there, there was a good chance that we would not have won the playoff anyway.

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Only seven points from a possible 12 in February and just one point from a possible six in April.  That was difference between the promotion playoff and 3rd place.  Just not good enough in 2022 after a great start in the 2021 portion of the schedule.

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Didn't play a lot of players during the season.  The spread out nature of the schedule allows us to play an unchanged XI pretty much week in and week out.  Kan Kovac was the star of the season.  Leading the team with seven assists as the play pretty much went through his feet.  Ziga Pesjak was the most frequent recipient of Kovac's passing and he turned those passes into a team-leading 13 goals while adding six assists of his own.  The most underrated player, for the season, was Matevz Turkus, who scored six goals from his right back position.  He was the standout defender for the season.

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Kovac is a great player for this level.  Top notch passing and can see most of the field to pick out a pass.  He, sometimes, struggles to pick up the correct pass but in those rare cases, he will play a shorter ball to maintain possession for the team.  Good on defense as well.  He can break up the play in the midfield if he needs to and start the transition to offense all by himself.

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Ziga plays a left wing/forward in my setup.  Great pace for this level and can run by most opposition fullbacks.  He gets behind the fullback and is either 1v1 with the goalkeeper on has a 2v1 with center forward Mateo Verunica bearing down on an isolated center back.

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Wage budget for next season is about $500/wk higher and the transfer budget is about the same.  Time to cull out some of the reserve players and bring in better options in their place.  Need to make a solid push for promotion this season.  On the coaching badge front, the board had no issue with me getting my National B, A and UEFA C badges but are worried that I could be poached by a bigger club if they allow me to get my UEFA B badge.  Needless to say, that decision has me looking for better jobs more often than I was before. 

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Fu%C5%BEinar.png

July-August 2022

Not really worried about the player dealings at this level.  It's all about winning and building my rep to get a better job.  So just a quick update on where the team stands as we move into the fall.

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The road has not been kind to us with a draw and loss.  The home has been a fortress.  Four wins, zero draws (though we needed extra time in the cup), and zero losses.

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Don't let our league standing fool you.  We have a game in hand on most of the league since Bravo needed to reschedule our match due to international callups.  We win that match and we jump to the top of the league.  We should be in the fight for the top two again this season.

 

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Board finally doing something to keep me interested in staying at Fuzinar.

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And they approved my request to obtain a UEFA B Coaching License.

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A tough run of form in late October/early November has brought us back to where we were last season...battling for a playoff spot.

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The win over Bravo in the last game of the fall season was huge.  It moved us into second place and we have a season sweep over them.  Head-to-head is the first tiebreaker for playoff/promotion spots. If can get away from drawing matches, we can push Primorje Ajdoviscina for the league title and claim the automatic promotion spot.

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Really like how balanced the offense is this season.  I've got four players with seven goals or more.  Kan Kovac has seen his goals and assist totals drop following his move to the base of our midfield triangle as DLP(d).  His key passes/90 is still the best on the team at three per game.  He's getting our offense started but it's just not reflected in the goals and assists because he is the start of the attack not the end.

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Hopefully, the actual intake reflects this awesome preview.  On to the spring half of the season and hopefully a promotion!

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First Job Interview:

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Lubiana are struggling this year down in 6th place.  The board want the club in contention for titles every season.

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Fu%C5%BEinar.png

2022-23 Season Review

 

Riding the momentum of reaching the playoffs on the final matchday of the season, we stayed home in the first leg of the two-legged tie against NK Radomije.

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We played well.  Dominated possession.  Outshot them even though they had more quality chances.  We traveled to Radomije knowing that we could hang with the top-flight's ninth place team.

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We outplayed them in the second leg too.  However, they played a great game of set-piece football.  Took a 2-0 lead on headed goals from indirect kicks.  We closed the gap to 2-1.  In the second half, we pushed hard for a tying goal but they got the goal we needed and then added a fourth goal which ensured Radomije's survival.

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Primorje Ajdovscina earned the automatic promotion slot.  We finished second and led the league in goal difference with +29.  It was a tight race at the top with the top five teams separated by only six points.  Very little margin for error.

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Three losses in the first four matches back from the winter break sealed our fate as a team battling for promotion instead of team pulling away with the championship.  The match of the season was the 7-2 victory over Rogaska.  We just scored goals for fun.  That momentum carried us the rest of the season and to the promotion playoff.

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We had one of the most diverse offenses in the league.  Mateo Verunica led the team with 12 goals but we had left winger/forward Ziga Pesijak was right on his heels with 11 goals and right winger/forward Marcos Tavares added in nine goals.  Simon Gregorin was a super sub as a loanee for the second half of the season with four goals in just 511 minutes of play.  Hugo Komano was another super sub with five goals in only 477 goals.  Lots of offensive options at my disposal.

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Verunica earned Player of the Season honors scoring 12 goals in 23 league appearance while adding five assists.

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The youth intake was very solid.  Lots of players who could get promoted to the big club once they turn 17 in a season on two.

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Board is willing to give a little more wage budget but the transfer budget continues to shrink.

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On the Move

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About a month of the playoffs ended, I received an unsolicited interview request from a top flight Slovenian club and it came from one of the top clubs in the country.  Completed unexpected.  I did not turn the interview down because offers like don't come every offseason.1361481623_MariborHireBrooks.png.2e2a896877a41bd17e25b2367c4d952e.png

They did not like the fact that I haven't any silverware but were impressed enough in my two seasons at Fuzinar to extend a job offer.  So, I packed up my mountain bike and my climbing gear and made the short 32 mile trip from Fuzinar to Maribor.

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The club doesn't want old players on the roster.  Want to entertain the fans with attacking football while contending for the league title.

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Finances are in good shape.  Haven't had a chance to dive into the roster and see what we have to work with. 

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1 hour ago, SixPointer said:

Two very solid first seasons :applause:

Big job to be taking on so early even though you done well it’s a surprise but a very pleasant one, now you can really start to grow!

Maribor missed out on Europe for the upcoming season and Fuzinar is an affiliate club of Maribor.  So, I'm taking the job offer and promotion as...."We loan players to this club and this manager as done a job of managing in the lower leagues with our affiliate club.  Let's see how he does in the big leagues with the top club."

225025937_AffiliateClubs.thumb.png.cdac6f032ad55d2ea53ed040523c0b91.png 

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5 hours ago, keeper#1 said:

Maribor missed out on Europe for the upcoming season and Fuzinar is an affiliate club of Maribor.  So, I'm taking the job offer and promotion as...."We loan players to this club and this manager as done a job of managing in the lower leagues with our affiliate club.  Let's see how he does in the big leagues with the top club."

225025937_AffiliateClubs.thumb.png.cdac6f032ad55d2ea53ed040523c0b91.png 

Great move and very realistic which I love 

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Maribor First Quarter Update

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Losses bookend the beginning and the end of the quarter.  In between those bookends, we have been the class of the field.  Only Gorica, who is the only club to have seen my tactics before, held us to a draw.  Everyone else has either not been able to stop or not been able to breakdown our defenses.  

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However, the bookend losses have us looking up at Koper in the table but only by one point.  Hopefully, in the second quarter of the season, the two clubs can put some distance between ourselves and the rest of the pack to make the title race a two-horse race.

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Center forward Nino Zugeli has led the strike force with seven goals.  We have been a little too dependent on his goalscoring this season with just three other players finding the net more than once.  Martin Milec has been dropping dimes from the right forward/wing position with five assists to be our primary playmaker thus far in the season.

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  • 2 weeks later...
12 hours ago, keeper#1 said:

This is NOT DEAD.  I've been on Easter Holiday since the 11th and took a break from FM.  Back and ready to go now!

Glad to hear it. Maribor is a huge club at this early stage so am keen to see how the journey continues

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Posted (edited)

Quick 2023-24 Maribor Recap

Due to a long Easter break, I'm just going to a quick 2023-24 recap and then move on to the next season.

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We pretty much walked to the league title dropping only four games on the season while drawing another nine.  Just blew everybody away with a +49 goal difference.  A thoroughly dominant season.

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No European competition, this season, meant I could pretty much roll out the same starting XI every week barring injuries.  This gave us four 10+ goal scorers and two players with 10 assists.  Lots of players 7+ average ratings.

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Why win one trophy when you can win two?

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A oood intake to help the senior team in a couple years.  Some may be able to sooner than that.

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When Velic turns 17, he will get called up to the senior side.  He's ready.

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Winning the Slovakian title put me on the radar of some bigger jobs.

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I could have had this job if I desired.  They asked for any staff changes but then I took a look at the roster and saw that they only had 10 players on the senior team, a bunch on the amateur/second team and only three players on the U18 team.  So, I withdrew my interest.

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This job, I wanted but did not get the job.  Another season and some more silverware will only enhance my reputation more.

 

 

Edited by keeper#1
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July-August 2024

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A couple of dropped games in August has seen us give up the top of the table where we have lived for most of the last 12 months.  However, we have a game in hand which if we win, we will move into, at least, second if not first should we win by enough goals.  

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We've played more games in Europe in the first two months of the season than we have domestically.  We got a tough Champions League draw when we drew RB Salzburg in the 2nd Qualifying Round.  They knocked us down into the Europa League where we capitalized on a pair of weaker draws and qualified for the Europa League Group Stage.

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No easy draw for a club of our stature.  Could have been worse.  We could have ended up in Group B with Liverpool, Standard, and Wolfsburg or Group A with Sevilla, Young Boys and Galatasaray.

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I will, however, accept this nice chunk of change into the club's bank account.

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19 hours ago, Michaelinho said:

Amazing results so far! Very nice idea for this save and realistic progression. 

Thanks.  My manager is fluent in French so I've gotten nibbles from French clubs but very few in Alps so I've declined the interviews.  Waiting for an Alpine French club to be interested or even a Swiss club to move up in league reputation before a move to one of the big three nations of the save: France, Germany and Italy.

September-October 2024

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League form has gotten a little bit better.  No losses to speak of but also no real ground gained on league leading Celje. The toughest pill to swallow was losing to 2nd division Tabor Sezana in the 2nd round of the league cup.  No domestic double this season.

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Meanwhile, our European form has been above expectations.  Sitting in 2nd place after beating Trabzonspor and getting draws with Athletic and Feyenoord.  Can we do the same in the reverse fixtures and make it to the knockout stage?

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Posted (edited)

November-December 2024

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We suffered a tough patch of form in the middle of November.  We just couldn't find a way to win a game.  Only four points from our last 12 in the league has seen fall further behind in the championship race with Celje.  Another Europa League win sees us on the verge of reaching the knockout stage.  However, all of that will be someone else's problem.

Grasshopper Zurich

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There's a lot of mountains to be climbed in the 342 miles between Maribor and Zurich but I am willing to climb them.  Zurich currently in 7th place in the Swiss Super League, a league vastly superior in reputation to the Slovenian Premier League.  I lose out on seeing if Maribor can qualify for the Europa League Knockout Rounds but that's a short-term loss for my long-term aspirations.  The main language, to my surprise, in Switzerland is German and not French.  So after a couple years, I'll be fluent in both French and German which will help me get jobs in both France and Germany expanding my potential "Big Three" league clubs.  France and Germany will soon become a 1 and 1a for me with Italy in 3rd.  

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Grasshopper are club with a great history in Switzerland.  Most Super League titles with 27.  Most Schweizer Cups with 19.  They are also giving me a larger wage and transfer budget than Maribor and the prize money is much better here in Switzerland.

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The board doesn't want a title this season but they aren't going to be patient.  They want a contending team next season and nothing less than the title in two seasons.  Even though, they don't want a league title this season, they do want to see us in the Schweizer Cup final.

Time to look over the roster and see what I'm dealing with here.

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Edited by keeper#1
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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Draakon said:

It's Slovenia, not Slovakia. You're sure you landed in the right country in the beginning of your save? :rolleyes:

Thank you for pointing out that out.

Edited by keeper#1
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No probleem, just thought that your press conferences would have been... embarrassing. Just picture a manager talking to Slovenian media how he enjoys life here in Slovakia :D

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2024-25 Grasshopper Review

Quick review before I head into my first full season with Grasshopper

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Once we figured out that the 4-3-3 that I used at Fuzinar and Maribor was the formation that suited us best, things really started to click in the league as we slowly grinded up the table and finished 3rd to secure a place in the Europa Conference Qualifying Rounds.  Unfortunately, it cost us a chance to make a run in the Schweizer Cup where Lugano, the eventual cup winners, knocked us out.

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After a tough run of form in February caused me to switch from the 4-3-3 to a 4-3-1-2 formation.  It did not help.  After a 4-1 loss to Lausanne, I switched back to the 4-3-3 and was rewarded.  In the final nine matches, we allowed just two goals on our way to 7-2-0 record with 13 goals for and only two against.

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It's hard to figure out where the problems on this team lie.  The center back pairing is soft.  The goalkeeper is not the strongest.  On the offensive side, there is not a lot of good goalscoring options.  A lot of players are having interest shown in them by bigger clubs even though they are not producing.  It's just really weird and hard for me to figure which direction to go in order to improve the squad.

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The youth intake is not one that will help us in a couple of years either.

 

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July-August 2025

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The league has been an absolute chore.  We just get string anything togeter.  We can't hold a lead and watch the opposition score late as we draw or we get behind early and have to claw our way back to draw.  Only one win in our first five games have us in seventh place.  We could be losing the title before we even get into the heart of the season.

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Europe has been a different story.  We had some tough draws with Red Star and Rosenborg in the later stages of qualifying.  We found a way to win in the second leg of each tie to advance.  We made it to the group stage and got a decent draw with Linfield from Northern Ireland, Dynamo Kyiv from Ukraine and Djurgardens of Sweden.

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Two signings to boost the midfield.

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September-October 2025

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September and October have been great months for Grasshopper.  We've turned around our league form and have zoomed up the table to 4th place.  Back into the European places.  We've won both matches in the Europa Conference and sit atop the group stage table.  We are well on our way to qualifying for the group stage.

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Saint Etienne, France (AP) -- AS Saint-Etienne, winner of ten Ligue 1 titles, have offered American manager Tim Brooks an interview to become their new manager.  Last place Saint Etienne are looking to go into a new direction as they try to reverse their poor early season form and climb out of the relegation places.  Is Tim Brooks the right manager for that job?

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Saint Etienne have decided that Tim Brooks is the right person for the job.  This is a completely different project for Manager Brooks.  This will be his first job where he takes over a club that is not one of the top clubs in the division.  He will have to learn to scrap for every point available as he hopes to move Saint Etienne out of the relegation zone and hopefully secure a mid-table place by the end of the 2025-26 season.

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Not a lot of climbing involved to go from Zurich to Saint Etienne.  Just a quick jaunt along the foothills to arrive in Saint Etienne.

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Very nice progression in the save! And already racking up your steps through the mountains, and bagging a few trophies and some vital European football success. Intrigued to see if you can restore the greens to there former glory. 

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12 hours ago, SixPointer said:

Very nice progression in the save! And already racking up your steps through the mountains, and bagging a few trophies and some vital European football success. Intrigued to see if you can restore the greens to there former glory. 

I hope I can.  They are a good candidate to get relegated this season.  They are a bad team.  Primarily due to the former staff over-evaluating talent.  I've got a team of Ligue 2 and National level players trying to play in Ligue 1.

October-December 2025

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Here's the table from when I took over the club in mid-October.  This is a bad bad team.  Only one win in ten matches.  A league-low six goals scored and the second worst defense in the league allowing 18 goals.  Just awful.  A far cry from a club that once won ten Ligue 1 titles.

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I haven't fared much better in the seven matches that I've been in charge.  The positive note is we have scored in all seven matches.  The bad news is the defense continues to be dreadful.  Only one clean sheet against minnow AS Saint-Priest in the Coupe de France.  We started strong against Rennes but the defense continues to let us down.  It's hard to win when you are consistently giving up multiple goals per game.

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We still sit at the bottom of the league table.  The good news is we have scored 10 goals in the six matches where I've been in charge.  The bad news is we've allowed 11 goals in those six matches.  Allowing close to two goals per game is a recipe for finishing at the bottom of the table and getting relegated.  Need to shore of the defense in order to survive.

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The kids might be of some help in a couple of years but I'm not holding my breath waiting for them to develop.  We are in a win-now scenario.

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January 2026

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A busy January transfer window saw us ship nine players out the door.  Most of these players fell into one of two categories: 1) old and not worth having on the roster any more or 2) previous management team over-estimated their actual ability.  We brought in five players.  All younger with some room to grow but also good enough to help us right now.

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Edouard Michut is an attack-minded midfielder brought in from the PSG-2 squad.  He has no hope making the first team at PSH so he was scooped and willing to join our senior team.  Michut will mainly play a CM(a) role for us.  Good enough to help us score some goals and stave off relegation.

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Stoisavljevic comes from Serbia and will be an instant boost to our offense especially on the left wing.  A great passer as well as a goalscorer.  I've got high hopes for Stoisavljevic in the coming seasons.  Could be a Serbian Steal.

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Laborda is a big and tough Uruguayan center back.  We are in need of center back help and Laborda will definitely help us along the back line.  Not a great player with the ball at his feet and moving the ball from defense to offense.  But we need a big bruiser who is strong in the air.  Laborda helps us in that regard.

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More midfield creativity comes to St. Etienne in the form of Ouattara who joins us from Italy.  He is a goal first midfielder who can play in the middle of an attacking midfield three where he may play in the future.  Right now, I need him as a MEZ(s).  He can still help us offensively there with his player traits and linking up the play along the left flank.  Definitely good enough to help us now and in the coming seasons.

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The last transfer is the transfer with the biggest impact.  A new goalie arrives from Germany and is an instant upgrade at the goalkeeper position.  The past staff greatly overestimated the talent here and left us with a starter who the coaches rated as "Good National" and a backup rated as "Good CFA."  Hmmm....maybe this is why the club is struggling in last place.  In comes Wahlstedt from Werden Bremen.  Rated as "Decent Ligue1" that makes a marked improvement over our current goalkeepers and will help keep us in games.  I'm looking to turn losses into draws and draws into wins at this point.  Every little margin counts.

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A tough draw in the Coupe de France sees us go out to Monaco.  Lille absolutely hammered us but we bounced back with a win over L'Orient and a draw against Nantes.  Four points from nine.  Not great but better than the 0-2 points out of nine that we had been getting.

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Still at the bottom of the league table.  It's looking like five teams battling for the two automatic relegation slots and one playoff slot.  Just need to slide up to 15th which is only two points away now! 

 

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February 2026

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A tough month matchup wise in February with Marseille and PSG coming to town.  Good news: the defense is becoming rock solid with just one goal allowed in the two matches.  The bad news: the offense couldn't generate anything.  We closed with month with a positive road draw against Strasbourg.

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We've dragged ourselves off the bottom of the table but only by goal difference.

March 2026

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A good month, I think.  Back to back wins for the first time this season but we close with a pair of losses.  The one to fellow relegation candidate, Paris FC, could hurt at the end of the season.

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We are continuing to climb the table and out of the relegation zone but, again, only on goal difference.

 

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April-May 2026

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We closed the season strong with five wins in our last eight matches.  We had a slight defensive blip in April as our starting goalkeeper got injured and had to play the backup.  Once the starter came back, we were strong in May with just one goal allowed all month.  A great way to close the season and hopefully ride this momentum into next season.

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Our late season push moved us up the table to a safe 14th place finish.  Paris FC and Metz will go down to Ligue 2 while Nantes faces Le Havre in the relegation-promotion playoff.

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The five winter signings pushed us out of the relegation zone.  They were our best players for the season.  Edouard Michut led the charge with three goals and four assists.  Brahima Ouattara chipped in another two goals and two assists from the midfield.  Leopold Wahlstedt had a goals against average of 1.00 with four saves per games compared to Sebastian Lentinelly who finished the season a 1.82 goals against average and 3.64 saves per game.  Mathias Laborda was a beast at center back: 80% of headers won and 86% of tackles won.  Dragan Stolsavljevic was "the slacker" of the group with just two goals and one assist.

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Our poor finances are directly reflected in our budgets for next season.

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It was definitely the goalkeeper, in my opinion (plus as a former keeper, I'm biased toward them).  He was definitely missed during those two matches when he was injured.  

I thought, for sure, after the loss to Paris FC that we were doomed to relegation but they found a way to shake off the loss and finish strong.

Now to reshape the squad while trying not to blow the finances completely up.  Right now, the club just bleeds money.

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July and August 2026

Summer Transfers

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A lot of players on high salaries shown the door.  Doing my best to both cut salary and generate revenue to boost the transfer kitty.  A few younger players brought in to provide depth on a lower salary to help with the club's financial crisis.

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Raskin is a depth midfielder who can play a variety of positions.  Not the greatest at defense but can provide offense for us both as a starter and as a spark plug off the bench.

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A young Bosnian defender who will bounce between the starting lineup and off the bench.

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Another young defender to help provide depth and a potential long-term solution at the position.

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A South American right winger to help fill a hole on the roster.  Has some room to grow and potentially become the starter.

Fixtures

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A solid friendly season allows us to carry some momentum in the month of August.  We were not at our best defensively with no clean sheets but the offense was able to step us and carry us to a pair of wins and huge draw against Marseille.  Youngster Andres Gomes showed his worth in that Marseille match with a hat trick.  The lone loss came to PSG which is still to be expected at this point.

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