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[FM22] The Fourth Glass, Vol. III: Straight Outta Sagarejo


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Posted (edited)

Since we're talking about him, I'll dive down a rabbit hole I usually don't explore in here because...it'd probably be more boring that my obsessively-detailed journey already is.  Fernandez signed a new contract in October, so wasn't interested when I offered him a new one in late December...and now is mad that he can't go to Germany.

Here's hoping he forgets all about this in a few weeks' time...but even if he doesn't, he's signed through December 2046 with a one-year extension clause.  So...his happiness is important to me, but only up to a point.

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1 hour ago, ManUtd1 said:

Yes!  Found him in the Honduran youth national team setup, unattached.  In the December 2038 squad review a few pages back, I noted that my scouts though he would be "bigger than Jeebus" and it turns out they may have been right. 

This is him at at 16:

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I had better start paying more attention to those international youth squads :eek:

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27 minutes ago, ManUtd1 said:

Since we're talking about him, I'll dive down a rabbit hole I usually don't explore in here because...it'd probably be more boring that my obsessively-detailed journey already is.  Fernandez signed a new contract in October, so wasn't interested when I offered him a new one in late December...and now is mad that he can't go to Germany.

Here's hoping he forgets all about this in a few weeks' time...but even if he doesn't, he's signed through December 2046 with a one-year extension clause.  So...his happiness is important to me, but only up to a point.

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Me, to his request

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Each year, I troll through and look for unattached players.  Sometimes there's a diamond in the rough -- if a big, foreign squad is interested, that's a clue.

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February 2042 - Champions League, First Knockout Round (1st Leg).

The weather in southern France is a welcome change of pace, even if our pre-season tour of China got us out of the Georgian hinterlands to build our "brand."  Whatever that means.  No matter how much money we've put into the bank, I can't help but be frustrated about the corners the owner cut along the way.  I still can't figure out why (or how), but all of our gear came off the plane home smelling like hot dogs.

And there's nothing we can do to wash it out.  

Even now, weeks later, I can smell it. 

We need a good showing.  Perhaps the smell will distract the French.

Mchedlishvili is feeling his nerves.  A big night as he takes over in the 1st XI for the departed Abega.  Yet, it is his dogged pressing that forces the turnover which leads to Bruno's goal in the 31st.  When Bruno is hacked down in the box on the stroke of halftime, Awoa doubles our lead from the spot.

Alioum Noah -- a winger we discarded in the summer transfer window -- earns his revenge, pulling one back for our hosts.  The ungrateful ****.  He'll never play for Cameroon again.  This, I vow.

Kameni is denied a goal in the 62nd by VAR, and in my head I can hear Mat shouting.  I look for him, but catch only fleeting glimpses of what might be him.  Hiding in the crowd.  Watching.  Always watching.

The French are pushing their way back into the match, when former Gareji player Umar Adowa deflects a Mchedlishvili shot into his own net.  There isn't enough tequila in the world to forget that one.  They're still reeling when, mere minutes later, Awoa curls home a free kick to make it 4-1.

Walking through the mixed zone after the final whistle, I see him again.  Mat.  He catches my eye and nods proudly before mixing back into the crowd, knife held casually at his side.  He knows that this is the start we needed to the new campaign.    

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6 hours ago, FiftyBeforeThirty said:

Great result there in the CL - certainly a foot and 3 toes in the Quarters, hopefully we'll see the progression to the next round accompanied by a decent draw! I feel it!

Thanks, man! Fingers and toes are crossed...

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March 2042 - Champions League, First Knockout Round (2nd Leg).

Following our big win in France, the question is simple -- can we finish them off back in Tbilisi?

Can we?  ****.

We blitz them for 4 goals in the first 45 on a cold, wet night -- the 5th coming shortly after the break, to emphasize our dominance.

We will face Didier Deschamps' Manchester United in the quarterfinals.

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March 2042 - Cup of Nations Qualifying.

A straightforward beginning to this journey, even if our eyes are fixed on the World Cup.

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I'm so proud...Fernandez and Mchedlishvili getting some attention.  It may not do wonders for Fernandez's desire to leave for greener pastures, though...

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April 2042 - Champions League, Quarterfinals.

It goes without saying that the first leg in Manchester is the toughest part of the tie to navigate.  Tactically, we know we need to keep things tight.  But the temptation to steal a march is strong.  We will not change our overall approach to these matches.  I cannot help but wonder whether we will stand up and be counted, this time around.

The first real chance of the match falls to Brkic, found by Bruno making a run from deep, straight through the heart of the defense.  He curls it into the side netting, to make it 1-nil.  A massive moment.  Yet, while we are playing well, we are not immune to lapses in concentration -- one such lapse allowing United to equalize in the 35th...and then take the lead 5 minutes later, confirmed by VAR after shouts for offsides.  We respond almost immediately, Bruno smashing the post.  But the ball rebounds clear.  The halftime whistle blows, the tide having turned in favor of our hosts.  We need to adjust, and the marching orders are given.  All to play for.  

We cannot find our balance.  Every attack, faltering 20 yards from goal.  With a corner in the 85th minute, having just hit the post, United are the only side looking dangerous.  Yet we burst from deep, the ball cleared to Kameni, who feeds Anibal -- ever hungry for the back of the net.  He places it calmly past the onrushing keeper to make it 2-2.  A goal we did not necessarily deserve given the balance of play, which sends the traveling support into raptures.  When Awoa heads off the crossbar in the 93rd, you can hear the moans of agony -- from both the home and traveling support alike.  So close to a stolen win.

We will take the draw, however.  By any measure, this has to be seen as a result that is in our favor.  We are unbeaten in 60 games, in all competitions -- dating back to the loss to Atletico in February 2041.  In Tbilisi, anything can happen. 

We kick off the 2nd leg aggressively, motivated by the roar of the crowd.  Kameni strikes the post in the 2nd minute...again, so close to a lead on aggregate.  Shtaer denies Anibal in the 6th from close range...you can feel it in the air as Awoa heads just over the bar from the ensuing corner...a goal is coming.  But United manage to compose themselves and steady the ship.  A stalemate ensues...until the 28th, when Anibal breaks the deadlock with a brilliant first-time strike after our situational verticality left the United high press chasing ghosts.  A deserved lead, as we are in control by every measure that counts.

Bruno finds our 2nd in the 55th -- a trademark goal for this Gareji side, as we purposefully move forward, probing, changing the angle of attack, seizing on a weakness with Bruno left alone in the channel.  Surely, it is over now.

To their credit, the English do not give up.  But even they know it is over when Komina hits our 3rd in injury time.

3-nil on the night, 5-2 on aggregate.  It is nothing less than what we deserve.

We will face Mersad Selimbegovic's Monchengladbach in the semifinals -- the winners of the 2040 Europa Conference League and 2041 Europa League, looking to climb the last rung of the proverbial ladder.  While we have been a fairy tale in our own right, ze Germans have been in dreamland, and look to these final matches as the capstone to a pre-ordained triumph, one that will etch their names into football lore for all of eternity.

Perhaps it is the cruelty of fate that 180 minutes will decide which club sees its dreams crushed.

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Damn, that Monchengladbach potential European treble in 3 years is crazy - I assume they'd be the first in your save to manage that feat, and I don't foresee many similar cases in the future! Great result against United and hopefully a similarly strong performance against the Germans! The City - Leipzig tie seemed pretty good as well, and then there's still holders Liverpool.  No fat lady singing yet!

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4 hours ago, FiftyBeforeThirty said:

Damn, that Monchengladbach potential European treble in 3 years is crazy - I assume they'd be the first in your save to manage that feat, and I don't foresee many similar cases in the future! Great result against United and hopefully a similarly strong performance against the Germans! The City - Leipzig tie seemed pretty good as well, and then there's still holders Liverpool.  No fat lady singing yet!

It has been quite the run, although with the 1st leg in Tbilisi (thanks to our temporary relocation) I have high hopes that we can crush their dreams.

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Posted (edited)

April 2042 - Champions League, Semifinals (1st Leg).

We have 90 minutes -- 90 minutes in Tbilisi to set the tone.  We need to be ruthless.  Relentless.  We need to take our chances.  And to undermine the confidence that ze Germans are walking in with.  

Though we have never faced each other on the pitch, we've watched their fairytale rise to prominence just as they've watched us rise, charting our own path.

2 chances fall our way in the first 15 minutes.  And twice we fire wide.  A nervy start.

Until fate intervenes in the 19th minute -- a 2nd yellow for Duarte thanks to a high elbow.  Reckless.  Ze Germans are reduced to 10 men with more than an hour to play.  Ze Germans are filled with a sense of unity and purpose, however, and stand tall...for all of 10 minutes, as we patiently look for the opener.  Anibal's heels are clipped in the box.  VAR confirms.  A soft penalty, but a penalty nevertheless.  Awoa fires into the bottom corner, but Kus has guessed correctly, denying our talismanic libero.  Nervous laughter on the bench.  This is the exact opposite of what we need. 

We create several solid chances in the opening stages of the second half, but to no avail.  We cannot hit the target.  A wild clearance of the line when we finally do.  The longer ze Germans hold out, the more the nerves begin to take over.

A fairytale ending may still be in the cards...but for who?

Anibal finds the back of the net in the 75th, only to be ruled out by VAR.  Caution has been thrown to the wind, now.

In the 80th minute, ze Germans do what they do best.  They strike.  Fast.  Without remorse. 

The dam finally breaks a few minutes later, after VAR confirms a Kameni strike, following a 45-yard Hollywood ball from Komina.

We push and probe but cannot find another.  And in the 94th minute, ze German fairytale -- aka, "der fairynugenfloof" -- continuesGierke pouncing with the agility of a feline abusing methamphetamines.  Moments later we force a corner, Awoa rising to head home a 95th minute equalizer...only for ze Germans to once again clear off the line in desperation.

A disaster.  A nightmare. 

I have no words in the post-match press conference.  Like a drunken Jurgen Klopp, I cannot speak.  I can only bark.   

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Posted (edited)

I don't know what I expected.  It all makes sense now.  **** my life.

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Live shot of Mersad in the Gladbach locker room.  Der Fairynugenfloof, indeed.

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May 2042 - Champions League, Semifinals (2nd Leg).

It is times like these when I am reminded of the cruelty of the Footballing Gods.  To have come so far, and failed so spectacularly...  Words cannot convey my shame.

Yet, the corollary to the cruelty of the Gods is the opportunities they provide for redemption.  After all, the tie is only at the halfway point.  There are 90 minutes left to play.  We will create enough chances to turn the tie around...if we can take them this time.

Ze Germans strike first in the 29th minute -- nothing less than they deserve after controlling the early stages.  Bruno hits the crossbar from 35 yards just after the restart, the keeper well beaten.  Our best look thus far.

The match opens up in the 70th minute, when Bruno pulls one back...and then we concede immediately...before drawing level on the night mere minutes later, once again, through Kola.  With 15 minutes to play, anything can happen.

And in the 92nd minute, it does -- our bat**** crazy high press forces a turnover through Nolla, who finishes after some nice combination play from the front 3.  3-2 on the night, 4-4 on aggregate.

Extra time will be needed.  We adjust our tactics, to tone down the manic, "get forward at any cost" approach of the last 30 minutes...and are instantly rewarded as Kameni is played in behind the line, striking the post before ze Germans can clear.  In the 100th minute, Serdar Kus tips an Awoa free kick over -- a world class save.  Continued frustration...until the 106th minute, when Nolla manages to slip the ball beneath Kus.  Ze Germans surround the referee, screaming for offsides, but VAR confirms. 

4-2 on the night, 5-4 on the aggregate. 

15 minutes to play.

It's simple math, isn't it?

Gladbach have no choice but to chase the match...which opens up substantially.  Nolla finds another in the 111th -- a lightning-fast counterattack, his 22nd goal of the campaign.  Ze Germans are spent.  They have nothing left.  The home support can only watch in silent horror when the final whistle blows, and our traveling support begin to celebrate.

We're through to the final -- to face Roberto Martinez's Liverpool, who eliminated Arne Slot's Manchester City on penalties and have won 5 of the last 7 Champions League titles.

It is a big ask.  But that is a problem for another day.  Tonight, I've promised the lads a late dinner at Wienerwald.

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2 hours ago, FiftyBeforeThirty said:

Damn, heart ache. So close and getting even closer each time. Can't quite believe 4.15 xG only produced a single goal - so unlucky! Next year...

It was -- in all honestly -- the first time in a long while where I had to put my laptop down and walk away.  I was frustrated beyond measure.

Thankfully, I had to be in the office today for a few hours.  So, it was a natural get-away moment even though I'd planned to play both legs before leaving.  Now, ~10 hours later...I barely recognize what happened.  The first 30 minutes of this match were awful, and we conceded first...it just had every hallmark of "we've blown it."

Until things got wild in the last 20 minutes.  All gas, no brakes.

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It feels like Kameni has been on the verge of this milestone for ages -- perhaps inevitable given our reliance on him.  A proud moment.

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23 minutes ago, ManUtd1 said:

It feels like Kameni has been on the verge of this milestone for ages -- perhaps inevitable given our reliance on him.  A proud moment.

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Damn, and arguably only just reaching his prime, could be a further 7+ years of being a top talent too, so plenty of time to expand that record! Here's hoping!

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Posted (edited)

May 2042 - Champions League, Final.

90 minutes against the bin dipping ****s in search of their 14th Champions League title.

They are, naturally, favored, with many assuming that we are just happy to be here.

After the Gladbach match, there is literally nothing more to be said.  We all know what needs to be done.  Whether it is nerves or simply crap football, we concede in the 3rd minute.  Unforgiveable.  

10 minutes later, Bruno draws us level -- only for VAR to strike it.  Offsides.  By the thinnest of margins.  Liverpool find a 2nd before the half, a free header from a corner, and it all feels like too much.  We aren't that far off the pace, but we're floundering...until Anibal, through sheer force of will, drags us back into the match on the stroke of halftime.

At the break, Nolla replaces Kameni, who has a potential groin injury.  We increase the aggression of our press, intent upon leaving it all on the pitch.  Sekou replaces Mchedlishvili shortly after the restart.

Yet we cannot find another.  With 20 minutes to play, it is time to throw caution to the wind.  We throw bodies forward.  Reckless.  We are rewarded with Bruno striking the post in the 73rd...again, so close.  Yet we leave ourselves open at the back -- Ngongang denies Cummings moments later to keep us in the match...and tipping over a shot destined for the top corner moments after that.

We continue to tweak and adjust, trying to find the cracks in the massed defense.  But the side looking more likely to score are the ****s from England...until Nolla strikes in the 93rd.  On the counter, drawing us level in the final possible moments.  Again.  He is our most reliable impact player from the bench -- no question.  A player who needs more minutes, but has been unable to displace the likes of Kameni and Bruno.  Having spent 20 minutes throwing all and sundry at the English, it is time to reset.  To regain our composure for the tests that lie ahead.

Ngongang continues to stand on his head to keep us in the match, but Liverpool claim a 3rd -- again, from a corner -- in the 101st minute.  Once again, we have to chase the game.  Only this time, our adjustments don't matter.  When Cosic pulls up injured in the 119th minute, we are reduced to 10 men.  Desperate. 

In search of a goal that will never come.

The dream is over.

Liverpool are inevitable.

UEFA -- even bigger ****s than Liverpool -- deny us any recognition in the post-tournament awards.  Ngongang and Awoa named as runners-up in their respective positions, but that is all.  It's more of a "**** you" than award, really.

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Posted (edited)

2042 - European Review.

The Champions League?

I don't want to talk about it.

And you can't make me.

The only thing that makes me happy right now?  Watching English teams lose European finals.

Like the Europa League, in which Tomas Soucek's Juventus beat Ian Cawley's Leicester City, 3-1.

And the Europa Conference League, which saw Nicolo Rovella's Sassuolo beat Omar Daf's Ipswich Town, 1-nil (aet).

Saucy stuff, that.

In the active leagues, Didier Deschamps' Manchester United claimed the Voldemort title.  Julien Stephan's Real Madrid reclaimed the La Liga title.  Oscar Mingueza's Stuttgart pipped Nagelsmann's Bayern to the Bundesliga title, when the stylish, lederhosen-clad Bavarians drew away to Leipzig on the final day of the campaign.  Thomas Tuchel's Inter Milan continued their dominance of Serie A.  And, Jeremy Menez's PS-****ing-G can **** off.

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12 hours ago, karanhsingh said:

Ouch. That's a rough one to take. As if it was even possible to hate Liverpool more. 

One would think there is a limit to how much you can hate a club.

That's logical.

Hatred must be a finite resource.

I am here to tell you, however, that there is no limit.

My hatred is infinite.  And knows no bounds.

Scientists will be studying the depth and breadth of my hatred for decades to come.

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June 2042 - Coefficient Update.

While the Erovnuli Liga continues its slow rise towards the general vicinity of the peak of European football, Gareji are mounting UEFA like Khal Drogo on his wedding night.

One of these days, our fellow Georgian clubs will need to step up, though.  They are bringing shame to us all.

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Posted (edited)

June 2042.

While the world's attention is focused on the World Cup, life rumbles on in rural Georgia.  There is some suggestion that Fabrika is turning a corner after several years of mediocrity...but Lasha is a liar.  And not to be trusted.  

I've been led down this primrose path before.

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Posted (edited)

Russia 2042 - World Cup Review.

Years of building towards this moment.  A favorable draw.  A squad primed and ready.  Unbeaten in years.

We learn very little in the pre-tournament friendlies against Scotland and Australia, beyond confirming that Duval Nolla is in rare form -- the first player on the substitutes' bench for both Gareji and the Indomitable Lions, his presence is invaluable.  With 25 goals in 23 appearances (1.86 goals per 90 minutes) it is clear that he will play a vital role in whatever success we can find over the course of the tournament, even if his performances are somewhat overshadowed by Awoa claiming his 100th cap against the kangaroo-****ers.

We open the group campaign with a 3-nil win over UAE, somewhat disappointing but enough to all-but guarantee passage through to the knockout rounds.  Following that up?  A draw against the Czechs.  Certainly cause for concern.  We are through...but when the Czechs perform against UAE, we fall to 2nd in the Group. Meaning we draw Bo Henriksen's Belgium in the Second Round. 

****.

Doubleplus****.

Undaunted, we step onto the pitch in the city of St. Vladdinghamville (formerly St. Petersburg) and play the match of our lives.  A comprehensive 3-nil win.  Triumphant.

Our reward is a tie against Leonardo Jardim's Portugal -- another big ask.  

Another opportunity.

With Kameni's tired legs slowing him down, there is an obvious choice as we prepare -- Nolla will replace him.  He's earned this moment.  A chance in the spotlight.  To claim immortality.

And claim it he does.  In the 19th minute.  A straight red card.  Which utterly and completely ****s us.  We crash out, 1-nil.

It's the only goal we've conceded in 4 matches in Russia.  

In the end, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's Italy claims the title.  

You read that correctly.

**** my life.

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Edited by ManUtd1
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July/August 2042.

The post-World Cup hangover is real.  Only, I haven't touched a drop of alcohol.

I can't sleep.  Which both scares and excites me.  Mat is lurking, always lurking.

At times I think I can hear his voice, or catch a glimpse of him in a crowd. 

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September 2042 - Cup of Nations Qualifying.

It's a triumphant return for the Indomitable Lions.  And Nolla, who hits Liberia for 5 upon his return from suspension.

But I would give it all back for another crack at Portugal.

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