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Walking in a Winterthur Wonderland


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Why Switzerland?

My last save was in the Austrian tenth tier, but it ended after a glitch meant I couldn't get promoted out of the ninth level. So I wanted to go back to just using out-of-the-box leagues, no additional databases. I then used Muttley's recent post in the general discussion thread to see which countries weren't being used at the moment, and loaded up a few of them. 

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Why Winterthur?

I wish I could say there was a smart reason for this, but it would be a lie. I just used the 'Pick a team for me' button a few times until it landed on a club that wasn't in the top tier.

Edited by DaneBramage
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Winterthur - 2019/20 Pre-Season

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There are ten teams in the Challenge League, which is the second tier of Swiss football. Each team plays the others four times, for a total of 36 games. 1st place is promoted automatically, 2nd place goes into a play-off against the side that finished 9th in the Super League, and 10th place is relegated.

Grasshopper Zurich strike me as the big-hitters here, and seeing them in the second tier seems like a fall from grace. Turns out they last won the Super League back in 2002/03 though, so I guess my memories of them as a big side are a bit dated.

That being said, their success is a lot more recent than ours. While Winterthur have won the Super League three times, this was more than a century ago. The last 20 years have been spent at this level.

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Winterthur - 2019/20 Pre-Season

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The board's expectations for the season match up with the media, who've predicted that we'll finish 4th. 

The bookies also concur with this, putting us fourth favourites behind Lausanne-Sport, Grasshopper Zurich, and Aarau.

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Winterthur - 2019/20 Pre-Season

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There are no names I recognise in this squad, but it does seem to be a pretty filled out with a couple of players for each position, plenty of younger players who should be approaching the peak of their career, and a good amount of ability (both current and potential).

In the club info screen Ousmane Doumbia is listed as the star player, an Ivorian midfielder who's spent most his career in Switzerland.

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We had two players listed as favourites to be top scorer this season, though I'm not massively convinced.

Anas Mahamid is an Israeli striker, new to the Swiss leagues. He's previously played only in his home country, and has just the seven goals to date.

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Luka Sliskovic has a few more goals to his name, coming off of a good 2018/19, but that's the only time in his senior career that he's hit double-figures.

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Winterthur - July + August 2019

My management career got off to a cracking start, with a 5-0 thrashing of Vaduz on the opening day. Anas Mahamid also made a great first impression with two goals and an assist on his debut. 

The second game against league favourites Lausanne-Sport was a tougher affair, but an early goal gave us the advantage and another in stoppage-time to make it 2-0 killed the game off.

With three games in a week we had to rotate some players out for the visit of Schaffhausen, but it made no difference with another big win. Luka Sliskovic excelled on the left-wing, scoring a hat-trick in a 4-0 win.

Two goals in the space of 60 seconds just before the half-hour mark set us on our way at Kriens, but we took our foot off the pedal in the second-half and let them back into the game. An 87th minute tap-in from Luca Radice put us back into a two-goal lead, but we conceded another in the final minute to set things up for a nervy end to the game, eventually holding on for a 3-2 victory.

Luka Sliskovic had four goals and a 7.98 average rating from the start to the season, but he was then ruled out for a couple of months with a torn abdominal muscle.

Remember the season preview where I doubted the goalscoring ability of Anas Mahamid? A 16 minute hat-trick against Chiasso made me look silly, but I'll happily accept the egg on my face for a 6-2 win.

In the first round of the Swiss Cup we were drawn away at fourth division Martigny-Sports. A bunch of players who hadn't seen much game-time were selected, but a really poor performance meant they'll be back to sitting out again afterwards. Mohammed Bdarney came off the bench to score a double to salvage a 2-0 win.

Back in the league Aarau would have drawn level on points if they'd defeated us, but that wasn't to be and a 2-0 win was secured when Luca Radice grabbed his fifth goal of the season.

The final game of August was against Grasshopper Zurich, and our good start came crashing down in flames. The game was effectively over within the first quarter-hour, and despite a late consolation we lost 3-1 to suffer our first defeat.

After seven games we sit top of the table, but Lausanne-Sport are equal on points with us. We do have a far superior goal difference though.

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Winterthur - September 2019

The first-half at Stade-Lausanne was abysmal, and we were deservedly one-down at the break. But a sending-off before the interval allowed us to impose ourselves in the second-half, and when they went down to nine men we took advantage to overwhelm them 5-1.

Next up was the second round of the Swiss Cup, hosting Super League side St.Gallen. They're struggling near the bottom of the table, so this was the kind of potential banana skin tie they weren't looking forward to. And we pulled off the not entirely unexpected cupset, winning 2-1.

The Wil game was very frustrating, constantly attacking with no luck, and hitting the post three times. Eventually we grabbed a last-minute winner deep into injury-time, but it should have been many more.

Next time was even worse. A defensive mix-up in the first minute gave Lausanne-Sport a very early lead, but we still had plenty of chances to get back into the game. We couldn't take them though, even when they went down to ten men, and we suffered our second loss of the season.

The top of the table hasn't changed since last month, we remain top on goal difference.

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In the meantime our Director of Football has been busy, bringing in three additions for the under 21 team. 

All three have some potential, but none are ready for first-team football yet. The first two were free transfers, the third was £650 from Aarau.

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Winterthur - October 2019

We started the month with a disappointing draw at Schaffhausen. We bossed the game but again couldn't score, even missing a penalty.

Against Kriens we found our shooting boots, but made it harder than we needed to. We gave up a two goal lead before Ousmane Doumbia found an 88th minute winner, his first of the season.

We followed that up with a comfortable win over Vaduz, but the final league game of the month at Chiasso was poor. We had plenty of attempts on goal, but only one found the back of the net to rescue a draw.

The third round Swiss Cup tie against Schaffhausen was midweek between two league matches, so a weakened side was put out (including debuts for all three new signings). As winning this seemed highly unlikely I wasn't too bothered about progression, and when we were 2-0 down at half-time it looked like we were going out. But a much improved second-half saw us draw level (including a debut goal from Jeremy Mizrahi) to take the match to extra-time, where goals from Anas Mahamid (after a seven game drought) and the transfer-listed Mohammed Bdarney (not settled in a new country) were enough to take us through to the quarter-finals.

An unbeaten month in the league wasn't good enough to stay top of the table. While we dropped four points Lausanne-Sport dropped just the two, to knock us down into 2nd place.

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Good luck with this, Switzerland looks a fun country to manage in. Feel like you missed a trick not calling it Walking in a Winterthur Wonderland!

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Winterthur - November + December 2019

November started well with a pair of comfortable wins. Both Stade-Lausanne and Aarau were dispatched 2-0, with goals coming in the first-half of both games.

A trip to bottom club Wil should have been a banker, but they put up a resolute defence and even scored against the run of play. Eventually we found an equaliser, but I was furious at the dropped points.

At least we were a lot better next time out, gaining revenge against Grasshopper Zurich for our earlier loss to them. Ousmane Doumbia scored the only goal of the game, redeeming himself for missing an absolute sitter in the first-half.

Vaduz kept us on our toes, and I thought we'd have to settle for a point. Luckily a classic route-one hoof over the top found Anas Mahamid in space to grab a winner.

The final game of 2019 was the big top-of-the-table clash with Lausanne-Sport. There was only one goal in it, and unfortunately it went to them. We never looked like getting back into it after conceding from a seventh minute penalty.

With the loss to Lausanne-Sport they jumped ahead of us once again, to leave us 2nd in the table going into the winter break.

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The Director of Football added another player to our under 21 ranks, a Serbian striker.

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53 minutes ago, BoxToBoxFM said:

Good luck with this, Switzerland looks a fun country to manage in. Feel like you missed a trick not calling it Walking in a Winterthur Wonderland!

That's much better, I'm stealing it!

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  • DaneBramage changed the title to Walking in a Winterthur Wonderland

Winterthur - February 2020

We came out of the winter break in good form, Anas Mahamid nabbing his 10th and 11th goals of the season as we thrashed Schaffhausen.

Kriens and Chiasso were then defeated without too much trouble, and we were keeping on pace with the league leaders.

It didn't last though, as an utterly gutless performance against Stade-Lausanne saw us deservedly go down 1-0. The Swiss Cup quarter-final was next, against a Basel side 2nd in the Super League. A rotated eleven were soundly beaten.

Back in the league, we beat Aarau for the third time this season. After our opening goal in the 20th minute we led all game, but some shambolic defending made it closer than it should have been.

It's still a two-horse race at the top, but Lausanne-Sport remain ahead of us. We stay 2nd, but at least they could only draw their final game of the month so the gap grew to just three, rather than five points.

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Winterthur - 2020 Youth Intake

Not a huge amount going on in the potential column here, but hopefully there's at least a couple of players that can make an impression. 

There's a nice mix of nationalities, with a couple each from Portugal and Liechtenstein, and plenty of second nationalities.

20a Pedro Oliveira is best rated according to my Director of Football's initial assessment, but I quite like the look of 20e Ernst Suter. His determination could be better though.

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Winterthur - March + April 2020

Losing a six-pointer against your title rivals is never fun, but the trip to Lausanne-Sport was especially gutting. We conceded in the first minute and were always second-best, and even when we could have made things closer we missed a penalty. The follow-up was almost as bad, an infuriating goalless draw with Vaduz. Lausanne-Sport then had a six point lead and all hope appeared lost.

I held a stern team meeting which upset a few players, but it did the job and we were much better over the rest of the month, racking up four wins in a row. With a hat-trick at Schaffhausen Luka Sliskovic made it 10 goals for the season, and a couple of games later Nils von Niederhausern reached double-figures for assists.

I was resigned to the fact that we were going to finish in the play-off spot, but Lausanne-Sport losing their final game of April has opened the door again. 

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Winterthur - May 2020

We ended the regular season with two big wins, but it's hard to look to at this final month without asking the question "What if?".

The two games beforehand was where the damage was done. Against Aarau we were 2-0 up at half-time, then threw it away in the second-half. Then we had 15 shots against Stade-Lausanne without troubling their keeper. Win those two games, and we would have taken the title and automatic promotion.

But it wasn't to be. Instead, we're going into a play-off against the side that finished 9th in the Super League.

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Winterthur - May 2020

We're playing Servette in the play-off. Their first half of the season was pretty good, but the second half was a disaster. Just one win in 21 games, and only seven points from the final 10 games.

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First Leg

1st minute - "It's an early corner to Winterthur. The ball bounces free... oh WHAT A HIT! Top corner! 1-0! Take a bow Gezim Pepsi!"

32nd minute - "It's another corner, the ball's floated in..., and someone's on the ground! Was there a push? We wait for VAR... the penalty's given! Luka Sliskovic steps up... 2-0!"

79th minute - "It's a short throw-in, Luca Tranquilli finds Nuno da Silva on the edge of the area. Lays the ball off to Luka Sliskovic, oh it's 3-0! Winterthur are running away with it!"

80th minute - "Maybe I spoke too soon! The Winterthur manager won't be happy with that one. Straight from kick-off Servette surged towards goal, and that was a good finish. The lead has been reduced to 3-1."

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Second Leg

63rd minute - "Good catch by Raphael Spiegel, and he releases the ball quickly to Luca Tranquilli. He beats his man, gets the cross in... Nuno da Silva! 1-0 on the night and a three goal lead on aggregate, surely Winterthur can't be caught now?"

70th minute - "Or maybe they can? A quick break and Servette have levelled the score at 1-1."

Final whistle - "IT'S ALL OVER! WINTERTHUR ARE PROMOTED!"

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Winterthur - 2019/20 Season Review

I might have led Winterthur to promotion, but I clearly don't have a clue about judging individual players.

On 21/06/2022 at 12:57, DaneBramage said:

We had two players listed as favourites to be top scorer this season, though I'm not massively convinced.

Anas Mahamid is an Israeli striker, new to the Swiss leagues. He's previously played only in his home country, and has just the seven goals to date.

Luka Sliskovic has a few more goals to his name, coming off of a good 2018/19, but that's the only time in his senior career that he's hit double-figures.

Anas Mahamid scored 16 goals this season (15 in the league), and he did indeed win the Challenge League's top goalscorer award.

Nils von Niederhausern also won individual honours, being voted the Challenge League player of the season.

He only came third in the club voting though, as Luca Radice was selected as the Winterthur player of the season.

In addition to those three, Tobias Schattin, Gabriel Isik, and Nuno da Silva also made the Challenge League team of the season.

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We received over £550k for our league finish, but we bled money throughout the season. Could really use a new sponsorship deal to help us with reinforcements for the Super League.

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Winterthur - 2020/21 Pre-Season

No one is expecting much of us going into the Super League, so the pressure's off. The board, media, and bookies all expect us to finish bottom and get relegated.

Could be a long old season, I'll be happy if we get into 9th place and the relegation play-off.

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In good news though we did get some improvements approved over the summer, with junior coaching and youth improvement both upgraded to a good quality.

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The biggest departure over the summer was Roman Buess, for £250k to a Hungarian side. I was happy to get rid of him for a decent chunk of cash as he'd been transfer-listed for a while. At 35 years old Davide Calla wasn't given a new contract.

Also leaving but not listed here were Luca Tranquilli and Nuno da Silva at the end of their loan deals. Between the four of them they managed 27 goals and 23 assists last season, so replacements will definitely be needed up front.

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My Director of Football is in charge of signings, and he brought in five players. Two are on permanent deals, and three on loan from other Super League clubs.

Jan Elvedi is the main signing, costing £70k from Kriens. He can play in centre defence or at right-back. He'll start the season as first back-up in each of those positions.

Nikola Gjorgjev can play on either wing, and was available on a free after being let go by Grasshopper Zurich.

Nicola Suter and Cedric Mariette are both on loan from Basel, and will be back-up for the attacking positions.

Zeki Amdouni is on loan from St. Gallen, and may well take one of the starting striker spots.

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Winterthur - July + August 2020

I think my Director of Football is on the take. Either that, or him and the scouts are just lazy.

He made three more loan signings this month, all from Basel, to made it a total of five players we now have from them. 

Luis Encarnacao will likely be competing for a starting role up front, while Luis Mestre and Mihailo Stevanovic will be rounding out the bench.

Also joining on a permanent basis was Rrezart Hoxha, for just over £90k from Kriens. He'd started the season with two goals in five games for them.

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Winterthur - July + August 2020

We nearly made the perfect start to life in the Super League as a brace from Luka Sliskovic gave us the lead over Luzern, but a second-half collapse including a howler from our goalie allowed them to level the game and restrict us to just the one point.

Against Lausanne-Sport it looked like the game was going the same way, leading and then being pulled back, until Cedric Mariette came off the bench to grab a winner just five minutes into his debut. Our third game of the season, away at FC Zurich, was the first one where we really looked out of our depth. We were handily beaten 3-1 and it could easily have been more.

Next time against Sion we were again second best by a long way, but luck was on our side. Two long-range efforts from midfield were enough to give us the win.

Then came the first round of the Swiss Cup. It was a disaster. A rotated side was selected, but it still should have been good enough to beat third division Echellens Region. Instead we let the lead slip three times, then got knocked out on penalties. My back-up goalie was the main scapegoat, conceding four times from just seven shots on target. Transfer-listed with immediate effect.

My first-choice eleven came back in for the league match with St. Gallen and showed why they're the main men. It was a hard-fought game but we didn't give up, and Nicola Suter snatched all three points late on with his first goal for the club. A draw with Lugano ended the month, where we came back to 2-0 down to rescue a point.

It's still early, and other teams have a game in hand, and I'm sure things will level out over the coming months, but I'm very happy with how we've started the season and sitting in 3rd place. Relegation looks like it shouldn't be a worry (touch wood), but I am still angry about the cup exit.

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Winterthur - September + October 2020

Had a bit of unexpected interested this month when offered an interview with Sion, but it was swiftly turned down. I'm not ruling out the possibility of this turning from a one club save to a journeyman save at some point, but it's definitely too early for that at the moment.

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The results over these two months tell an interesting story. We played all four sides above us in the table, and gained just one point from them. A sterling effort from Raphael Spiegel between the sticks restricted Young Boys to just the one goal, which allowed us to steal a fortunate point. But we weren't up to par in the other three games, in particular putting in a terrible performance against Lausanne-Sport.

We also played the two sides directly below us in the table, defeating both of them. Roberto Alves impressed against FC Zurich with two goals, one from the spot and the other a free-kick.

As expected we've slipped a couple of places, but there's still a comfortable buffer between us and the teams at the bottom.

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Winterthur - November + December 2020

We didn't have much consistency over these two months, but with more wins than losses it turned out well.

The points didn't necessarily come when I expected them to though. Earning only one point from the pair of games against the sides in the relegation area, Sion and St. Gallen, was infuriating. But immediately afterwards we bounced back to hammer top-of-the-table Basel.

We're just past the halfway point of the season, and about to go into the winter break. Barring a catastrophic second half of the season we're safe from relegation, so we'll be aiming for a mid-table finish, and possibly sneak the last Conference League qualifying spot.

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January + February 2021

Our youth recruitment and junior coaching were both improved up to an excellent standard.

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We got a big chunk of money for one of our young players, but I'd have preferred to keep Bernhard Alphand

The transfer offer came in right before the deadline, so there was no chance to protest it.

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We brought in one player ourselves, picking up Aljaz Ivacic on a free transfer. He's spent the last couple of years in America, and looks like he should be an upgrade in goal.

Spoiler - he concedes four on his debut.

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Ugh. Our return to action after the winter break has been utterly pathetic. Conceding at least twice in every game is terrible, in some of these it seemed like we were actively trying to lose.

In the last update I moaned about getting just one point from the teams in the relegation area, and we've gone and done the same thing again.

We're hanging on in mid-table, but my earlier optimism about avoiding a relegation battle appears misplaced. Our attempts at defending are just abysmal, and without a drastic improvement we could very easily get dragged into the mix.

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