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[FM22] A career in northern Greece


GreenTriangle
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When I intended to start a new career in FM22, I didn't have a clear idea about the country and the club where I was going to play. But it happened to see a documentary about the great king (and conqueror) Alexander III of Macedonia, also called "the Great". I decided immediately : my next career will take place in Macedonia. More precisely, in the area where Alexander's kingdom was located, that is, in Greece.
Alexander was born in a fortress called Pella, the capital of the Macedonian kingdom. The city exists even now, even if not exactly in the same location. The modern city is located in a region of Greece called Central Macedonia, northwest of Thessaloniki (Salonika). There are also two other regions in Greece that are also called Macedonia : the "Western" one and the "Eastern" one. All together form a region that can be called generically "Macedonia" :

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And now, back to football, that is, back to FM. I downloaded a database that included the Greek 3rd league. I don't know how well it works, although after 5 seasons of testing it seems to be fine. I don't know if it faithfully respects the real competition system, nor if the rules regarding promotion - relegation or the number of foreign players are correct. Anyway, it's worth a try.
So I created a manager. Sunday league player, no license. Zero experience, which means I had to start with a small team. In the 3rd league, 17 manager positions were available, but only two of them were of interest, that is, they were located in the region where Alexander was born. One of the two clubs even had an interesting name : AO Megas Alexandros Trikala, which means "Alexander the Great Athletic Club". Unfortunately, although I applied, they did not reply. The second club, APO Annagenisi Plagias, not only answered me, but also hired me :

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Anagennisi Plagias is a small club. In fact, very small. The facilities are minimal: basic, basic, basic, limited :

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The stadium is reasonably large (6000 seats), but unfortunately it is only used temporarily. In fact, I admit, I thought the club was based in a fairly large city (Kilkis, approximately 25,000 inhabitants). Big mistake. The club is based in a small village, Plagia, where only about 400 people live. The team plays in Kilkis only because the stadium in Plagia is not ready yet.

Some other details :

Finances. Really limited. Which is normal, considering that Anagennisi is a semi-professional club.

Competitions
Media prediction. We are the number one candidate for relegation. It's still good, at least we're number one in something.
Rules. The group consists of 12 teams, but 5 of them will be relegated. As for promotion... the team ranked first will qualify for a playoff together with the winners of the other 6 groups. 4 of the 7 qualified will advance to the 2nd league. This is a strictly theoretical discussion because I don't think we have any chance of promotion in the first season. Our realistic objective is just to avoid relegation.
Club vision

Now, about my career rules: I talked about Alexander and Macedonia for a reason. Namely, I'll only be allowed to use players who are born in Macedonia. If a player is Greek but was not born in Macedonia, I cannot use him, so there is no point in transferring him. If he is a foreigner, even more so. However, there is an exception: players who were born in Macedonia but have two (or more) nationalities. I will be able to use, for example, an Albanian or Bulgarian player who was born in Thessaloniki.

Another detail : at the beginning of the save, I activated the "add players to playable teams" option, and that's because this career is not a challenge and, on the other hand, because I don't like playing with "grey" players.

Squad
U19 squad

We have 3 very good defensive players (including a goalkeeper). We also have 3 very good midfielders/forwards. Of course, they are "very good" for a 3rd league level mediocre team. But our best player is a "young man" who is only 43 years old. I hope he doesn't intend to get injured very often, because one of the other 6 important players I just talked about .... got seriously injured on the very first day of training (good job, man !). As for our 43-year-old young man, he is also our HOYD, i.e. one of only two people who there are for now in the club's staff.

Back to the big rule of my career. I already had a problem. Almost all  players in the first squad and the U19 squad are "born in Macedonia". Places like Plagia, Kilkis, Thessaloniki (= Salonika) are, of course, in Macedonia. As well as villages such as Vaptistis or Stavrochori. But there were two very important players (Zakos and Parpoutsis) for whom the place of birth was not specified. I was tempted to throw them out ... but I realized that a lot of players will immediately become extremely unhappy. So, I decided : these will be the only two players who will not have a "Macedonian birth certificate". And the exception will be valid for only one season.

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August and September 2021 : countless friendly matches (and some boredom)

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October 2021

Over the course of 10 weeks, we played 12 friendly matches (the results didn't really interest me) and one official match (a clear defeat in the Greek Cup). Honestly, the cup match scared me because our opponents (Veroia, a second league team) shot 27 times (!!!) on target. This while we had only one shot ...

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Oh, one more thing : the number of fans who wanted to see us live was really impressive. We played 6 games on "our" stadium. The total number of spectators in ALL the 6 matches : 124. So, we have a "huge" fanbase,... which is so huge that the club's finances are seriously affected after only a few weeks of this season.

Transfers. I brought 6 new players ... which are actually 4, because two of these new players arrived at the club before I took over the position of manager. I followed the rule, so all newcomers are born in Macedonia. By the way, following this rule is more difficult than I thought. Not because there aren't a lot of good players born in Macedonia, but because most of them don't want to come to our club. For every good player who agrees to play for us, there are 3-4 others who prefer to sign with another club... and another at least 10 who were not born in Macedonia. Three of the four newcomers are really good players. The 4th is an example of bad management. I mean, I brought in a seriously injured player (at least one year !) because instead of reading "12-13 months" I read "2-3 months". I'm a true FM expert ... :lol:

Squad

U19 squad

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The first two matches in the championship. We won (undeservedly) the first game, but we lost the second. Considering that we are still "number one" in the top of the weakest teams in the group (media prediction : 12th place of 12) , it could be said that everything is fine ... until now.

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Edited by GreenTriangle
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November 2021

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We played 4 other matches. Two wins, two defeats. Conclusions : the team has a pretty good offensive potential, but the defense (and especially the full-backs) is easy to overcome. Another problem is that we only have about 7-8 good players. The others are either too young or too weak for what we need. When we meet mediocre opponents, we can defeat them. But when the opponent is strong, we are practically surclassed. Obviously, we urgently need some new (and good !) players. Also, we need to improve our cohesion, because a rather weak quality defense (like ours) can be seriously affected when this cohesion is low.

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Did something similar with Doxa Dramas some years back, but pretty sure I had a larger pool of players, just because I went with the limits of historical Macedonia which included parts of current Bulgary and North Macedony. Good luck anyways, will be following!

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44 minutes ago, Muttley84 said:

 

Yes, I remember your career. I also know that you have had several other really interesting "regional" careers over time. Thanks !

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December 2021

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Well, the December results look really good. However, I'm not very excited because the two wins were achieved against mediocre opponents and, in addition, we were lucky: in both games we scored the first goal after only a few minutes of play. It's much easier to win when the opponent is forced to score.

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Youth intake preview. For a few seconds I was happy, seeing that we're going to have an "excellent intake". Then I remembered that an intake preview is not necessarily accurate in evaluating players. In addition, the young players belonging to this intake are compared to players from our current squads, which means that, probably, we currently have really few good players at the club.

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January 2022

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Wow ! The first game was painful because Doxa was not a very difficult opponent. Unfortunately, they scored 3 goals during the first 20 minutes ... In the second game, we were going to play against the best team in the group. I had no illusions, so I was not surprised that we lost the game. From that moment, however, the team started to play better and better and, although it met two other strong teams (Pandramaikos and Nestos), we managed to win 7 points out of 9. One of the reasons is probably the fact that, during January, we managed to significantly improve the team by transferring four more good players.

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Transfers. Four new players, two full-backs and two central midfielders.

Squad at the end of the transfer window (January 31)

U19's squad. Unfortunately, at this moment this squad is full of useless young (and less young) players.

Dynamics. Cohesion has improved, club atmosphere has improved. At this moment, we therefore have a 99.9% chance of achieving our goal, that is, of avoiding relegation. As for promotion ... no chance. Maybe next year.

Club facilities. No improvements. I tried, but the board refused any kind of investments. At least for now. Anyway, at the beginning of July we'll move back to the stadium in our "home village" (Plagia). I'll see after that if we have enough money to improve something.

Team stats. From an offensive point of view, we are a pretty good team (top 4-5). From a defensive point of view, however, we still are a rather weak team. I hope that those 4 new players transferred in January will be able to improve some of our defensive weaknesses.

Speaking of transfers... Anagennisi (name meaning "Rebirth") is a small club that doesn't really sound attractive to some players. Of the 71 "Macedonian" players evaluated between October and January, about a third would have been starters in our team... but we only managed to convince 4 to transfer to us. Some players with whom we negotiated preferred to play in the 4th league than to come to us (example). And the 4th league is inactive :lol:. In fact, probably the reputation of some clubs in the 4th league is significantly higher than ours).

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February 2022

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The team had a rather strange evolution. We played pretty well in the first and third game ... but, I don't know why, we made a lot of mistakes in the second and last. Fortunately for us, the game (FM) gave us a gift, that is, it helped us win (somewhat undeservedly) in the last game due to a goal scored in the 92th minute.

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March 2022

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It's clear. The current team is good enough to avoid relegation, but it is far from having any chance to be involved in the fight for first place. We ended the season in 6th place and, if we had been a bit more luck, we could have climbed up to 5th place. For better performances ... we need other players. It remains to be seen if I'll be able to find those players we need.

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Current squad and player stats. At the end of this season we'll have to give up one of the team's best scorers, Christos Parpoutsis, because this player was not born in Macedonia. Unfortunately, I did not find a replacement for him. We have at least 4 really good players on the list... but not a single one wants to transfer to our club. I'll probably have to bring in two or three weaker players and hope that at least one of them will be able to play well enough.

Team stats. As I hoped, as a result of bringing in some new players in the winter, our defense became safer. Unfortunately, the attack was no longer as effective as in the first half of the season.

Club vision. The board is satisfied. However, they're not so satisfied as to have any idea to offer me a new contract. I probably won't have problems with renewing the contract, but I certainly have serious problems when it comes to various investments. All requests to improve any of our facilities were rejected. Moreover, even the request to improve my coaching qualification was rejected, for financial reasons. It's not necessarily a problem, but it would have been more interesting if my CV had contained at least something like "National C License" instead of "-" (that is, "no qualifications"). On the other hand, the board is also right. For now, the club's income is microscopic. I would have needed 2-3 additional coaches (possibly some better than the current ones), but we don't have money for such a thing. Next season ... maybe.

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Winners of the 7 groups of the 3rd league will play 6 additional games in the playoff stage. For Anagennisi Plagias, however, this season ended at the beginning of April. And the new season will only start in the last week of October. This means that in the next 6 and a half months a manager has nothing else to do but to transfer the best players he can find (and who want to come to his club), and then to prepare the team (training, friendlies) for the 5 and a half months in which the next season will take place.

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First of all, some details about the most important competitions that took place in the 2021-2022 season :

European cups

The most important domestic leagues (England, Spain, Italy, Germany, France) and several other more important domestic leagues (Belgium, Netherlands, Portugal, Turkey).

The most important domestic cups (England, Spain, Italy, Germany, France, Greece).

Greece, 1st and 2nd leagues. Greece, 3rd league (playoff included, but only 3 of the 7 groups because only these 3 groups contain teams from Macedonia).

By the way, I don't know if it's something really interesting, but these (the ones marked in red) are the 30 clubs / teams from Macedonia that played in the 2021-22 season in the first / second and third leagues.

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And now, back to "my" club. Some aspects some of them being (maybe) interesting.

1. Youth intake 2022.

In the December preview it was said that this intake will be "excellent". By comparison with the huge number of useless youngsters that we had until now in the U19 team, it can be said that this intake is quite good. We received a very good player and, in addition, a few other players who, who knows, could one day end up playing in the first eleven.
However, there is no chance that in the coming years we will be able to build a team based on these intakes. Club's facilities are minimal and our board rejects any kind of improvement.

2. The takeover

At the end of June a takeover took place, but this takeover did not bring an important improvement in the club's financial situation. It's true, this year club's budget is a bit bigger (it increased from 19,500 per month to 22,500 per month) and some additional money (7,000) was allocated for scouting. As I said, however, our facilities can not be improved and, moreover, my request to attend a coaching course was also rejected.

3. The stadium

It's not an important aspect, but I'll mention it because I thought it was hilarious. Until now it was said that we'll "move back to the new stadium" in our village (Plagia) on June 30. It is true that we'll move, but not to the "new stadium" but to another stadium that is no longer in a city (Kilkis) but in a village (Cherso), neighboring Plagia. The reason ? The stadium in Kilkis does not follow the rules, that is, it does not have 500 seats. However this stadium from Kilkis was in an "average" condition and the pitch was good. Our "new" stadium is, however, in a poor state, as is its pitch. I don't really see where the advantage for us is ... but that's it.

4. Panteliadis

This guy was until now the captain of the team, one of the best players we had in the previous season and and almost the only player in the squad who had technical and mental abilities similar with a 2-nd league average player. In addition, he was (and still is) our HOYD. Unfortunately, he was 44 years old, so I was not surprised by his intention to give up his playing career.

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As I said earlier, I had on my disposal more than 6 months to look for players. After my scouts managed to evaluate over 200 players, I managed to transfer no less than 11 new players, to which is added the transfer of both players who played for us in the previous season in the form of loan. We significantly strengthened all the compartments (4 stricly defensive players, 3 defensive midfielders and 4 offensive midfielders or forwards). By the way, one of the defensive midfielders (the 16-year-old Andi Shala) is not Greek but Albanian, but he was born in Macedonia, more precisely in Veroia.

Of course, there are also some players that we lost, although I would have preferred to keep them. Andreakos and Konstantinidis left for other clubs, Panteliadis retired ... and I had to release Parpoutsis because he was not born in Macedonia and and, according to the rules of this career, he could not play for us in the current season.

Squad. From my point of view, this squad is - qualitatively speaking - clearly better than the one we had in the previous season.

Staff. I tried to hire only staff members born in Macedonia, but I made an exception (by mistake) in the case of the U19 coach, who was not even born in Greece. I will correct it in the future. In any case, the staff is better than the one from the previous season, but it is still not as good as I would like.

Media prediction. We still are in the relegation zone, but now our odds (50/1) are much higher than the ones we benefited from at the beginning of last season (900/1)

Club vision. Nothing special : avoiding relegation and avoiding excessive expenses.

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Friendlies ... and Cup matches.

We did quite well in friendlies, but we didn't meet very strong opponents. Instead, we had a remarkable evolution in the Greek Cup, where we reached - surprisingly - the 4th round. Considering the fact that we beat a team from the 2nd league (Kalamata) and we were defeated - just at the end of the match - by another team from the 2nd league (Levadeiakos) it can be said that we have had a very good start of the season.

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There is, however, a small problem. Several important players left and no less than 11 new players came and, as a result, the team cohesion is - still - too low. It improved a lot as a result of the friendly matches and those in the cup, but we still have a to improve it.

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October 2022

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6 points out of 6 possible! A very good start of the season. The victory in the first game is not a surprise, the opponent being, however, just a newly promoted team. But the opponent in the second game was powerful and the fact that we won quite easily is really encouraging.

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Well, I think we're in trouble. The team is playing weaker and weaker and, in addition, it happened what I had to imagine would happen : some players started to be unhappy with the fact that they are not used from the first minute of the game.

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December 2022

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It seems pretty clear. But, still, some explanations are needed :

In November we played four matches. In the first and fourth match it can be said that results reflected the evolution of the two teams. When we played better, we won. When the opponent played better, we lost. In the other two games, however, something happened that didn't really suit me. In the game played against Elpis Sapon (a newly promoted team, ranked on the 12th place at that time) we only got a 3-3 even though we should have won. Then, in the third game, the one played against Doxa Dramas, we deserved a draw, but we lost. Let's say that such situations also happen in real life.

Then we played another three games in December. In the first match we met the leader, Alexandroupoli. We had a penalty ... and we missed it, then the referee denied us another goal in the 87th minute. Another equal that we deserved and didn't get. The second match of the month followed. We clearly played better than the opponent (Apollon) and, obviously, we lost again. Finally, in the last game we were defeated by the last ranked at that time, Doxa Sidirochoriou (another newly promoted team). After the first 45 minutes we were leading 2-0 and it seemed that we would get an easy victory. Then, in the second half, my team played catastrophically. We conceded 3 goals and humiliatingly lost a game we should have won.

I have to admit, after the last game I got very angry. It was too frustrating. In any case, at that moment it seemed to me that the best solution was my resignation. Our players morale became extremely low and, anyway, if we lost a few more games it was very possible that I would be fired.

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Maybe I shouldn't have been in a hurry, but such situations happen even in real life. In any case, I have no intention of giving up on my career. I'll try to find another club from the 3rd Greek league, preferably also a club from Macedonia. I hope that the next attempt will be more fortunate.

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At the time I resigned, there were already two other clubs in Macedonia that did not have a manager. I applied to both clubs. After a few days, one of these clubs invited me for interview, but the interview was not very convincing for them. Then, after another two days, I was called for interview at the second club. Somehow, I managed to convince them and I was hired :

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Ethnikos Neou Keramidiou is very similar to my former club, Anagennisi Plagias. That is, it's a semi-professional club having quite limited facilities.
However, Ethnikos (a name which, by the way, means "National") has slightly better facilities and the stadium they play in is right in their home village, Neo Keramidi. Like Plagia, Neo Keramidi is a small village, with only 450 inhabitants, but while Plagia is in the north of Macedonia, Neo Keramidi is in the south, close to the border between Macedonia and Thessaly (and only 25 kilometers away of a mythological mountain, Olympus).
Regarding the financial aspect, Ethnikos is richer than Anagennisi, because their board invested much more (over 400,000) this season.

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Why did Ethnikos need a new manager ? Because, according to media prediction, Ethnikos is "a mid-table team", but, after a series of very poor results, the team had reached one of the places that "guaranteed" relegation to the 4th league :

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Spoiler

A short mention : the big number of teams playing in this group is very strange. Normally, the 3rd league in Greece consists of 7 groups of 11 to 13 teams each. How did it get to this huge group consisting of 18 teams ? It seems that whoever created the database did not specify any rule regarding the promotion from the 4th league. This league (4th) consists of 54 regional groups, but only 33 teams are promoted every year. Since no rule is specified, the game practically "promotes" the teams that have the highest reputation, regardless of the 4th league group they belong to. These teams, however, have specified in the game editor certain groups in which they can play, depending on the league. So, if a large number of teams having specified "will play in group 3 of the 3rd league" will be automatically promoted, these teams will form a group having an unusual number of teams.

The board seems to have taken into account this 15th place, since their most important request when they hired me was strictly related to avoiding relegation.

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When I saw the lists (seniors and U19) with all players I have at my disposal, I was, frankly speaking, a bit disappointed. If in terms of potential ability Ethnikos has better players, when it comes to current ability Anagennisi had better players. And since what matters in every match is the current ability, it seems that, however, the next half of the season will not be a walk in the park.
Moreover, both the players' stats (seniors and U19) and the teams' stats seem to suggest that Ethnikos has serious issues regarding its offensive play. It seems that the problem derives from the transfer policy promoted by the previous manager (AI). In the summer, several very good players left, and they were replaced with younger players (some being even 16-17 years old) who have a very good potential but do not yet have the necessary experience and skills.

As for the team's morale, it is quite good, even suprisingly good considering the recent series of poor results.

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January 2023

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7 points out of 15. Not bad at all. We were lucky in the first game, but, in compensation, we lost 2 points in the last one even though we played much better than our opponents (Lamia).

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February 2023

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7 more points. Unfortunately, we lost a game that, if we had won, would have offered us a much better position at the end of the season. I really don't like matches where the opponent scores two goals from its only two shots on target ...

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March 2023 - the first two matches

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Just one point. We're in trouble, but we're still breathing. I hope we'll survive.

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March 2023 - the last two matches

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Well, the last game will be decisive. Of course, I would have preferred to get (at least) a draw in this game. But it is known that FM is quite perverse form time to time.

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April 2023 - the last match of this season

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:mad::seagull::( 

Good bye, guys ! It was nice to meet all of you ...

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To add to my excitement, the game had just decided to gift Ethnikos a really good youth intake. In addition, the AI just achieved a remarkable performance with my former club (Anagennisi Plagias), 4th place.

 

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I'm an optimistic person, and, consequently, I really imagine that any failure is a step forward. I even believe that in the next 100 seasons I could achieve an important performance, such as, for example, promotion to the 2nd league. As a result, I decided to continue my managerial career.

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Unfortunately, from April to the end of June only one Macedonian club fired its manager. Of course, I immediately applied for the job, I was also invited to the interview ... but I was not hired. Which is explainable, because the board of that club probably knew that I'm really good at everything, except football. In addition, the fact that after two years of my career I didn't even manage to get a minimum qualification (that is, I still don't have a license, not even a "National C") is probably quite discouraging for any club that risks to invite me for interview.

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So, for 3 months I did nothing but be bored, the only fun being watching the main national and continental competitions. Competitions that ended as follows :

European Cups (and, in addition, the 2022 World Cup)

The most important domestic leagues / The most important domestic cups

Important competitions in Greece (League 1, Greek Cup, League 2) / Less important competitions in Greece (3rd League, only the playoff and 3 of the 7 groups)

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July 1, the day of miracles : no less than 6 clubs from Macedonia announced that they are looking for a manager. The miracle is, however, explainable : all these 6 clubs are newly promoted from the 4th league. I hastened to apply for all 6 jobs, being determined to accept any kind of employment offer. I didn't have to wait too long, after a few days I even found a club willing to hire me :

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So, Iraklis Abelokipon Salonika. A few words about the name of this club. First of all, the name seems to suggest that this club is located in the largest city in Macedonia, in other words, in Thessaloniki (= Salonika). Wrong. The club's headquarters and its stadium are located in a town neighboring Thessaloniki, a town called Abelokipoi.
Secondly, Abelokipoi (or Ampelokipoi) is an interesting name, because it literally means "vineyards". This does not mean that the region is rural. That was a long time ago. Now Abelokipoi is one of the important towns around Thessaloniki.
Thirdly, Iraklis is the Greek form of the name of the well-known mythological hero Hercules. Which means that the club whose manager I am is basically called "Hercules from the vineyards near Thessaloniki".

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And now, back to FM. What can be said about the club ? Of course, it's a small, semi-professional club. It has not achieved notable performances, at least during last years, and its facilities are almost minimal (Training : poor - level 1 out of 10 / Youth : poor - level 1 out of 10 / Junior coaching : fairly basic - level 2 out of 7 / Youth recruitment : limited - level 1 of 8). However, the stadium used by the club is big enough (for the 3rd league, of course) and it could generate much higher revenues than what my former clubs were collecting.

Speaking of the budget : for a 3rd league club, it's a really big budget. However, for unclear reasons, I cannot distribute to salaries all the money available for transfers, but only half. In addition, the club has almost one million in the bank. It is probably about amounts invested two years ago, when Iraklis was still playing in the 3rd league (it was relegated at the end of the 2021-22 season). It is to be seen if that million (all, or only a part of it) can be used to improve our facilities.

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Board's requests are ... as expected. Avoiding relegation and, as usual, avoiding big expenses. It seems a balanced vision, considering the fact that, for now, the media prediction odds suggest that we are one of the 5 teams that will be relegated.

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As I said, Iraklis was relegated from the 3rd league a year ago. Positive aspects : there was a youth intake in 2022 and the former manager (AI) transferred a certain number of useful players. Negative aspects : some of these good players left us as a result of the relegation, no new players came in their place, and in the last spring (2023) there was no youth intake. The current squad still includes some good or very good players, but it is obvious that 5-6 additional good players are needed. There are also some promising players in the U19 team, but probably these youngsters can only used as reserves, at least for now. As for the staff, it needs significant improvements. For now we don't have a HOYD and we would need more coaches, U19 coaches and scouts.

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July - October 2023

For 4 months I had nothing else to do but try to improve the team's cohesion and morale. We played no less than 17 friendly games (but in 14 of these games we met mediocre teams from the lower leagues).
Of course, during all this time our scouts also worked hard, and at one point I had at my disposal a mega-list with several dozen interesting players, all of them willing to negotiate a possible contract with us... and all of them being born in Macedonia. However, I had a problem: the board categorically refuses not only to increase the wage budget, but even to admit that part of the 155,000 allocated for transfers be redirected to salaries. This means that I can transfer only one player, the rest of the additions coming to be made through loans (and without paying loaned player's wages). It was a bit frustrating, especially since I had found some good players but it was impossible to convince them that instead of 1200 (as they asked) I can offer them a maximum of 29 dollars. By the way, the board also rejected any improvement of our facilities. So, for now we have almost a million in the bank ... but we can't use it.

However, I found I couldn't complain. We have found a core of good players at the club (6 of these players are really good), and if I add to them the few players that I managed to bring to us then ... it can be said that we have a pretty good team. According to the media prediction, we are still one of the teams that are presumed to be relegated, but our odds (150/1) have not changed in the last 4 months.

Ah, I was forgetting. The game (FM) applied one of its usual tactical-strategic moves to me : one of our best players was injured before the start of the season and it is assumed that he will not be able return to the pitch for the next 6 months.

This is the squad with which we'll start the season :

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We have some pretty good youngsters also in the U19 squad, but, of course, they are not ready to play for the first team yet.

Team cohesion and atmosphere are very good ... for now. The managerial support is not as good, but this can be improved in the future.

*****

Friendlies

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We also played 3 games in the Greek cup. We lost in the 3rd round, but it was to be expected, the opponent being one much above our current level (Iraklis Salonika, which is a strong 2nd league team)

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November 2023

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A very good start to the season, especially for a newly promoted team. Generally speaking, these results are quite close to the way the matches took place, although it can be said that we had a bit of luck. We were defeated by Kavala in a game that we dominated but we got 4 points against Poseidon and Alexandroupoli even though we played weaker than the opponents.

First four games. Last four games.

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December 2023

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That was painful. After a series of good results in November, 3 games followed in which we won only one point. Considering the way we played, we didn't even deserve more.

Matches played in December

The players' stats confirm the fact that we have problems in the offensive department. Few goals scored, and fewer assists. Fortunately, the defense played very well so far.

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Youth intake preview.  The U19 team's manager says that the future intake will be "excellent". We'll see. In any case, it is interesting that no less than 9 of the 16 players we will receive at the intake are central defenders, left defenders or goalkeepers.

*****

January 2024

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Well, we really have a problem. A big one. After a streak of 6 games without defeat (November) followed a streak of 6 games without any win (December, January). It's not quite good, especially since, surprisingly, the team's morale is still quite good. Moreover, even our board views the problem surprisingly positively. It's the first time I see a board that, after 6 poor results, is "delighted with the leadership qualities you demonstrated". :lol:

Matches played in January

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The transfer window closed on January 31. We lost 5 players (but only one of them - the central defender Petridis - represents an important loss for us). We brought (on loan) only one player, another defender, precisely to compensate for the loss of Petridis.

By the way, we need a team meeting...

*****

February 2024

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It's much better now, 7 points out of 12. The team meeting had an effect, although it's hard for me to understand how a meeting can lead to an increase in the accuracy of the attackers' shots ...

Matches played in February

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I can say that I learned quite a lot from FM, even about things that have nothing to do with the football. For example, until now I had no idea that there is a monsoon in Greece, like in tropical countries. Well, it really is, because if it didn't exist any monsoon then it's impossible to explain how in the course of just two months we were forced to postpone 3 games (all on our own ground) "due to a waterlogged pitch".

Oh, and some good news. The board finally accepted the idea that our facilities really need some improvements. For now, it is only about "junior coaching", but I hope that in the future I will have more surprises like these.

*****

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March 2024

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9 points out of 18. If we had been a bit more lucky, we could have won 2 or 3 additional points. But even with those points we would not have been able to rank higher than 5th place.

First three games. Last three games.

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All in all, a pretty good season. From a defensive point of view, the team really achieved a very good performance, but the lack of valuable attackers seriously limited our offensive strength. In fact, we have such a striker (Gjeci), but he was injured for almost half of the season, which is why our attack depended on a young man (Goupos, 18 years old) who, in fact, is better rated as defender central than as a striker.

Teams' stats. Players' stats.

*****

Of course, some players want to leave us. Three of them have already signed contracts with other clubs (and, unfortunately, Natsiopoulos and Goupos were star players for us). In addition, we have four other players (three of them being very good) who are not born in Macedonia, but I'll probably give up the "born only in Macedonia" rule in their case. I's way too difficult for me to give up three good players just because this rule. I'll not transfer players who were not born in Macedonia, but I'll keep the ones I found at the club.

*****

From a financial point of view, the situation is ... complicated. Our board decided to increase the wage budget for the next season from 12,500 p/m to 22,500 p/m. So far everything is fine. Unfortunately, the club loses a lot of money. In this season only the expenditures were 220,000 higher than the income, to which is added another 250,000 spent on improving the facilities. Total: 470000. Is it important? Yes, because we'll have money in the bank only for the next two seasons. If we don't get promoted to the 2nd league in the next two years... I have no other choice but to resign. We have no other source of income. The Greek Cup offers prizes only starting with the quarter-finals (an impossible performance for us for now) and friendlies can supplement our budget by only 10% ... at most.

*****

As I said, the board agreed that we can improve our training facilities and youth facilities. It won't be a big improvement, since until now these facilities were minimal (poor / poor). Now they will become basic / basic, i.e. level 2. Since we have junior coaching of level 3 (average) and a minimal youth recruitment (limited, level 1), it would seem that we'll be able to get a promotion to the 2nd league only if we'll transfer better players. The chances of receiving exceptional youngsters at youth intake are extremely low.

Speaking of youth intake. It was a quite good intake. The problem is that all the young people received have various problems, even the best ones. One of the problems is that all of them are developed almost randomly and many of their essential skills (especially the mental ones) are quite low (such as this player, the best of the 16 players we received)

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*****

Oh, one more thing. Finally, after three (virtual) years of career, I managed to get permission to go to a coaching course. I'll finally get a coaching licence. :lol:

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April - June 2024

End of season in Europe (and, of course, in Greece) :

European Cups (and, in addition, the 2024 European Championship)

The most important domestic leagues / The most important domestic cups

Important competitions in Greece (League 1, League 2, Greek Cup)

*****

July - October 2024

A new season. The most important change : the number of teams in "our" group (Group 1) has increased from 13 (last season) to no less than 18. This means that instead of 24 games we'll play 34. Everything is very nice, except that we'll have to play these 34 matches during only 5 and a half months (ie 23 weeks).

After I found out the new schedule, I realized that I need a large squad because the most important players will be extremely tired after a few weeks of playing in the rhythm of Wednesday - Saturday - Wednesday - Saturday. In addition, the injury risk it's getting bigger if the players don't get enough rest between two games. As a result, we transferred no less than 11 new players, plus two more who had played for us (on loan) in the previous season as well.

Regarding the compartments, we brought five strictly defensive players (including goalkeepers), of which two are the two players used in the previous season. We also brought four midfielders with a defensive profile (who, if needed, can also play as defenders) and another four players with a more offensive profile (two of them being strikers).

Players registered for the upcoming season :

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We still have a few players (three, to be exact) who were not born in Macedonia (those underlined in red). I'll not give up on these players, at least for now. Generally speaking, the team looks really well, much better than in the previous season. At least that's what the assistant claims in his report. It seems that he's right because even the media prediction evaluates us somewhat better than did it last year. Therefore, also our board has higher demands : this year the team must rank somewhere "in a mid-table position".

*****

We have some very promising young players in the u19 team, but I'll not bet on them. I need (more) experienced players. I have to hurry, because our finances are deteriorating more and more and I am not sure that we'll have money in the bank for more than a year and a half. I intend to achieve the best possible performances this season so that, if we run out of money, I can go to another, better team. However, I also need a higher qualification because my licence (National C) doesn't really impress any "richer" team.

I have improved the facilities a little, but starting from this moment I'll not spend a single penny for another improvement. I prefer to use that money to try to build a better staff. It's a cheaper option, at least for the moment.

*****

Friendlies

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We played a lot of friendlies (no less than 17), but it was mandatory, because I had to improve the team cohesion. It seems I succeeded. We also played two games in the Greek Cup. The competition did not interest me very much because we still have a lot of other (and more important) games to play in the league. The only good thing is that the board was satisfied, even if we were knocked-out after only two rounds.

*****

Edited by GreenTriangle
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November 2024

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19 points won in the 9 games we played. It's not bad at all. So far, the team has played well, but 8 of the 9 opponents we met were teams of our level or weaker. In the only very difficult game we played (the one against Panserraikos) we lost quite clearly.

In December we'll play two other very difficult games, the ones against Apollon and Doxa. Depending on the results we get, I'll see if we have any real chance to fight for the first place or if I have to limit my goals to a ranking in the top 5 teams.

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The first three games / The next three games / The last three games

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December 2024

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4 wins from 5 matches played. The good news : we beat the leader, Doxa, right in their stadium, and after playing for 48 minutes in just 10 players. The less good news : Apollon beat us, but after a game in which we deserved - maybe - a draw.

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Matches played in December

According to the teams' stats and the the players' stats, our team seems better than in the previous season, which is normal, considering the large number of players we brought during the summer.  Unfortunately, we have already started to lose players. In January, both the two goalkeepers we have will leave, as well as two of the most talented young players that we barely managed to bring to us. For now, the team's morale is very good, but the assistant warned me that we might have some problems in the future.

*****

From a personal (ie managerial) point of view, it would be said that I am progressing. No less than 4 clubs invited me for an interview. Since none of these clubs seemed to be superior to my current club, I declined all interviews. I am willing to leave Iraklis, but only if I'll receive an offer from a club, if not a richer one, then at least one with a higher reputation (for now, Iraklis has a regional reputation and a rating of one and a half stars. The important clubs from the 3rd league have a national reputation, a two-star rating and budgets 2-3 times higher)

*****

Youth intake preview. An "excellent intake" will follow. But it wouldn't be the first time when a staff member overrates a future intake ...

*****

January 2025

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Yeah, when we play against teams of our level or weaker, we do quite well. Unfortunately, these two games against Nestos and Panserraikos edified me. We can get the 5th place and, if we are lucky, even the 4th place. But no more.

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First three games played in January. Last three games played in January.

*****

The transfer window has closed. We lost, in total, 6 players. We managed to bring only one player (a goalkeeper, which we really needed). Honestly, I didn't bother too much with the transfers. For a 5th place ranking we should be able to manage with these players we still have.

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Cohesion and atmosphere are still at high levels, which is normal, since the current 5th place represents something more than the initial objective (mid-table). There are some players who are unhappy with the way I manage the club, but I can't help them. They are free to ask  for Guardiola if they don't like my style. In any case, I requested the board to allow me to follow a new coaching course. I have a feeling that a National B license could be useful to me.

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February 2025

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16 points out of 21 ! It was a very good month, but it seems that we do well only when we play against teams of our level or weaker. When we meet the "bad guys", well ... we are really shy.

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The first three games of February. The last four games of February

As can be seen, the first two games were ... very specific for FM. In the first game, we could have won, perhaps, with a difference of 2 or 3 goals, but we lost 0-1. The second game was very balanced, we could win, lose or it could end in a draw. But we won 4-0. Speaking very seriously, this is the part of FM that annoys me. Such situations should be extremely rare. And in no case should it happen in two consecutive games.

*****

In the previous season, no less than 3 games that were to be played on our stadium were postponed "due to a waterlogged pitch". It surprised me, because I didn't think something like this could happen in just 3 weeks. Well, I had no idea what I was talking about. Because this season it was necessary to postpone 3 other games (on our stadium, of course), but now everything happened during just two weeks. In addition, there was some variation. Now, only two games have been postponed "due to a waterlogged pitch", the third being postponed "due to heavy snow". I assume that in the next season will happen hurricanes, typhoons, volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. I should probably ask the board for an special insurance included in my contract.

*****

March 2025

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Something new ? No way. We were lions with the little ones. And the "bad guys" beat us. As usual.

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Games played in March

But... there is a problem. I did everything possible to get the best results in those games against the "bad guys". And I even managed to improve something. But I can't compete with FM. Summary : in these two games against Doxa and Nestos we shot 32 times (16 times on target), we had 2.43 xG ... and we scored only one goal. The opponents, however, shot only 23 times (10 times on target), had only 1.65 xG ... but they scored 5 times. :eek::seagull:

*****

April 2025

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Nothing very interesting. We ranked 4th, which is ... erm ... a pretty good performance.

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Games played in April

Speaking by comparison (teams' stats), we were in the top 4 from an offensive point of view and in the top 3 from a defensive point of view. We also have a fairly solid core of the team (players' stats : Vosniadis, Tsanoulinos, Toursidis - Gjeci, Ptinopoulos, Naskiakopoulos, Ioannou - Tsakiridis) ... but we still don't have enough reserves able to compete with these players which are part of this core. It's true, in the past winter I had the opportunity to try to bring some good players, but I didn't. So, it's my fault.

*****

The board is enthusiastic. But they not quite so enthusiastic as to supplement the club funding. Consequently, it's very possible that, at the end of the next season, we'll not have the money we needed to build a competitive team able to fight for a possible promotion to the 2nd league. In other words, if we don't receive additional funding, this is the last season in which I can try to get a 1st place ranking and, implicitly, a participation in the promotion playoff.

*****

The club's facilities are still really underdeveloped. Although junior coaching is quite good (average), the fact that youth facilities is of a "basic" level and youth recruitment is "limited" does not allow us to rely on our own academy. However, both in the previous season and in the current one, we received quite good young players, but this is only in comparison with the other players we have. We have no chance to for promotion with these players we received at the youth intakes.

Youth intake 2025. The U19 team's manager believes that we received no less than 8 "elite talents". It's his opinion, but I personally think that from that group at most 3 players are really promising. I hope I'm wrong.

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*****

What do I think about the next season? Let's take them one at a time :
1. We have enough money ... for now. We can spend up to 360,000 per year for salaries. A positive thing.
2. We don't have a high reputation. Which means that we cannot transfer many very good players (for the 3rd league). They would not want to sign contracts with us.

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3. There are quite a few clubs in our group that have both a better reputation and more money. Even for AI this could be an advantage.
4. I hope that FM will be nice and cooperative. I mean, I hope that Doxa (the winner of our group) will play well in the playoffs and will be promoted to the 2nd league. Why ? Because Kavala will surely be relegated from the 2nd league, and - guess what - they will be assigned to the same group as us. And I don't really think we can win a group in which Doxa, Kavala, Panserraikos, Apollon and Nestos will play (all of them being teams that played in the 2nd league). Well, even if Doxa promotes, it doesn't mean that our chances will increase very much. But at least it would be a small advantage for us.

*****

Of course, another possibility to improve our team would be, for me, to ask the board to find a senior affiliate club. Of course, we won't get super players, but it is possible that at least one or two of these players we could loan will be useful to us. The board's response was very encouraging, in the sense that all 3 great clubs in Thessaloniki are willing to accept our affiliation :

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It's impressive, isn't it? PAOK and Aris are very strong clubs in the 1st league. Iraklis is now in the 2nd league, but played dozens of seasons in the first league. Of course, the board is only asking for my opinion, and my option may be different from their decision. However, a brief analysis of the problem cannot be completely useless.

- Club reputation : PAOK is number one (3 and a half stars). Aris has 3 stars. Iraklis ... 2 and a half stars. I have to remind : we are an "one and a half stars" club. Aris seems to have more young players available to be loaned to other clubs.

- Club facilities : As in the case of reputation, PAOK is number one (great / good / exceptional). Aris has obviously less performing facilities (adequate / average / fairly basic) and Iraklis' facilities are similar to those of Aris, only slightly less performing (below average, average, fairly basic).

- Are there other affiliations ? PAOK and Iraklis have no affiliated clubs. Aris has a "junior" affiliate club, Agia Napa from Cyprus (a club with a 2-star reputation). It's important to know, because, if they have a choice, the young players could prefer the club with the better reputation.

- How many players do these clubs have, and in which squads : PAOK 72 (27 in the first team, 24 in the B team, 21 in the U19 team). Aris 61 (28 in the first team, 33 in the U19 team, there is no a B team). Iraklis 57 (36 in the first team, 21 in the U19 team, does not have a B team)

- What habits do these clubs have regarding loaning players to other clubs ? I took into account the last two years. PAOK : altogether, 6 players on loan, only 2 being loaned to clubs from the 3rd league. Aris : 14 players on loan, 10 of them being loaned to clubs form the 3rd league (4 to Agia Napa). Iraklis : 5 players on loan, 4 of them being loaned to clubs form the 3rd league.

The conclusion, taking into account these 5 characteristics : there is no question of an affiliation with PAOK. They are too big, too strong, their players obviously wouldn't come to us. There is still a choice between Aris (also being a big club, but much more willing to loan players to other clubs) and Iraklis.

- Condition number 6. How many players born in Macedonia do these clubs have in their squads ? According to this career rule, we can not transfer or loan any player born outside of Macedonia. Aris has 31 (7 in the first team, 24 in the U19 team). Iraklis has 34 (20 in the first team, 14 in the U19 team). My choice: Iraklis. If there is the slightest chance that a player from the first team will (or a good player from the U19 team) accept to be loaned out, then that player will be from Iraklis. From Aris we would probably only receive 16 years old youngsters.

*****

Spoiler

And, finally, a short opinion about the database I use. Each season I had to deal with 3rd league groups made up of a different number of teams: 12 in 2021-22, 12/18 in 2022-23, 13 in 2023-24 and 18 in 2024-25. This aspect confused me a bit. But I had the curiosity to read about the evolution of the 3rd league in Greece in real life. The following number of teams have participated in this league in the last 12 years : 33, 23, 25, 93, 61, 64, 61, 97, 107, 14, 20, 81. In other words, if in England to change (only once !) the number of teams from 22 to 20 is something out of the ordinary, in the Greek 3rd league not changing anything from year to year is already an exceptional event. So, this database is very realistic.

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April - June 2025

Since the 3rd league will only start in October, I have more than 5 months to improve the team. My problem is that I have a limited scouting budget. Besides, even though we have 3 scouts, I can't let them just look for "the best players available". Because those "best players" don't want to sign contracts with us, even if we pay them high salaries. From their point of view, our reputation is much too low. In addition, those players must be born in Macedonia. As a result, I gave my scouts two lists. First, I asked them to check if the teams of the 37 Macedonian clubs that play (or have played) in leagues 1-3 have some players willing to transfer to us or come to us on loan. Then, I asked them to check all the players they find (including free players), provided that these players were born in one of the main 45 cities / towns of Macedonia.

*****

As I said in the previous post, we now have a senior affiliate club, Iraklis Salonika. Unfortunately, we have the same problem as in the case of transfers : none of their slightly better players want to be loaned to us. I mean the "slightly better players" in their U19 team, of course. However, we surprisingly managed to convince a player from the senior team. I suppose he is the most masochistic player in their squads. I really appreciate his heroic sacrifice.

*****

From a personal point of view, everything is going perfectly. Now I have the National B license, plus, of course, an increase in skills. It's not very impressive, but it's a step forward. After only a few weeks, I had the idea to ask the board if they would have anything against a possible new coaching course (National A license). They didn't have.

Oh, one more thing. For 4 seasons, the only invitations for an interview that I received came from a few clubs that were fighting hard to avoid relegation from the 3rd league. Now, in just two days, I received two extremely tempting interview invitations. The first, from the winner of the 7th group in the 3rd league. The second, even more tempting, came from the winner of the 2nd league. I declined both invitations because neither of the two clubs is in the northern Greece (Episkopi is in Crete and Ionikos is in Athens). But I cannot guarantee that I will be able to resist if I receive an invitation from an important Macedonian club.

*****

Quote

4. I hope that FM will be nice and cooperative. I mean, I hope that Doxa (the winner of our group) will play well in the playoffs and will be promoted to the 2nd league. Why ? Because Kavala will surely be relegated from the 2nd league, and - guess what - they will be assigned to the same group as us

FM was neither nice nor cooperative. Doxa failed to promote and, consequently, we'll have to play in a rather difficult group.

*****

July 1, 2025

End of season in Europe (and, of course, in Greece) :

European Cups / The most important domestic leagues / The most important domestic cups

Important competitions in Greece (League 1, League 2, League 3 play-off, Greek Cup)

*****

July - August 2025

Friendlies

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Cohesion was seriously affected after the arrival of 8 new players, but it will definitely be restored by October, when the league starts. The newcomers seem to integrate quite well into the team. In the last game we beat Iraklis, but I'm not too enthusiastic because our "affiliates" used a lot of very young players.

A clarification : in the transfers list there are 7 Greek players and ... Viktor Rumyantsev. This guy is, of course, Russian. Normally I wouldn't have been able to transfer him, but he was born in Greece, specifically in Salonika, which makes him eligible for transfer.

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September - October 2025

Today the championship will start, or, in other words, today (October 26, 2025) the first games of the 3rd league will be played.
In the last 2 months we played 10 friendly games. The results are not too important, especially since 8 of the 10 teams we met are playing in the the 4th and 5th leagues. Positive aspects : we have no seriously injured players and the team cohesion has improved in the last two months.

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At the end of August, we had already transferred eight players and I was hoping to complete the team with at least four more newcomers. Unfortunately, I only managed to bring two more players. We significantly strengthened our defensive compartment (eight of them are goalkeepers, defenders or defensive midfielders) but, regarding the attack, we'll have to use mostly those guys we had last year, plus two newcomers. As these two are very good players, I hope we don't need more.

Transfers. Newcomer players' profiles.

*****

Salary expenses have increased a lot this season. If last year we spent 13600 per month (about 160,000 per year), this season we'll spend around 23,500 per month (280,000 per year). These are mandatory expenses, because we have to attract the best players that are available to play for us. The club's financial situation is bad (i.e "insecure"), but I'm not really interested in this problem ... for now. Of course, there was no question of improving our facilities, which are mediocre.

*****

Our board has interesting ideas. I'm not referring to the fact that it wants "mid-table" (which seems normal to me), but to the several tens of thousands of requirements regarding the style of play. I assume that someone from our board drew up this list one morning, after that night he had dreamed of being the president of Real Madrid.

As for the media prediction ... we are the sixth favorite. The media prediction depends both on the reputation of the club and on the quality of the players available to the respective club. Since we cannot boast of a high reputation, it is obvious that the players we brought in during the summer are quite good, and this ensure us odds almost as high as Doxa has (Doxa being a team that just relegated from the 2nd league).

*****

Squads :

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We also have a pretty good U19 team, with about 5 or 6 players who could one day end up playing in the first team, if not as star players at least as reserves.

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November 2025

Wow !

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An impressive series of very good results. Although it should be noted that our win in Kavala was extremely lucky, because in the second half the host team could easily have scored at least 2-3 more goals.

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The first three games played in November. The next three games. Last three games.

*****

The other events that took place in November were, also, positive. First of all, I got the National A license, something that increased a little my reputation and skills. Secondly, I received an invitation to an interview which, frankly, I did not expect. Of course, an interview does not mean a job by any means and, in addition, one of the strongest clubs in the 1st league currently represents a much too high level for a manager who has not achieved any exceptional performance even in the 3rd league.

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December 2025

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Yes, we had started surprisingly well, which was completely abnormal. Now we are back to normal : only 7 points out of 15 possible, 7 goals scored, 7 goals conceded. The second game, against Kabaniakos, was extremely annoying. My attackers missed from all possible positions and, to make everything even more frustrating, we also conceded the defeating goal in the 90th + 2nd minute. But I have to be honest: we clearly lost the most important game of the month, the one at Chrysoupoli (Nestos). Unfortunately, tt was obvious that Nestos have a better team.

Games played in December

The difference between us and the team ranked first reached 8 points. A little too much. The games that will be played next month (January) will be decisive, because we have to win everything, and first of all the two most important games, those with Panserraikos and Doxa.

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*****

Something very strange happened. At the moment, the best player in our team is Gjeci. This guy played 12 games, has an average rating of 7.77, scored 11 times and provided 6 assists. However, both the assistant manager and one of the coaches (the one who has the best JCA and JPA, 11 and 10) consider Gjeci to be a player we can give up. From their point of view, Gjeci is a two-stars player (the assistant), respectively two and a half stars (the coach), which means that he is ... almost the weakest player we have in our team. I don't understand how that is possible.

*****

Youth intake preview. An "excellent intake" is foreseen. But considering the level of facilities that we have, this "excellent intake" will in reality be at most a "mediocre intake". Or, if we're lucky, a "reasonable intake".

*****

January 2026

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S**t !

We can say a warm "goodbye" to the participation in the fight for the first place. We're way too small for this kind of serious objectives.
Oh, of course i could complain. We should have won the game against Doxa, because we played much better than them. But does it still matter ? We lost the most important game, the one against Panserraikos. From now on, we only play for fun. Or, in order not to get bored in the next 2 months, I can set a more realistic objective : 3rd place.

The first three games played in January. The last three games played in January.

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The transfer window was opened from January 1 to 31. But, honestly, I was not in the mood for such a thing. After the match with Panserraikos, I knew that the games that will follow until the end of the competition will not be very important, so I decided to give up on bringing in new players. I just tried to limit the number of players who were going to leave us. We lost three players, but none of them were really indispensable for us. As a result, the squad now looks like this :

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Very funny this evaluation for Gjeci. The guy continues to be our best player ... but also the weakest player in our first eleven (in the assistant's view) :lol:

*****

And, finally, a confirmation of the fact that the position is always very important. An inappropriate position may have the effect, for example,  impossibility of improving some personal abilities.

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February 2026

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17 points out of 21. Not bad at all. It looks like we have a real chance to finish in 2nd place. A 1st place would have been much more satisfying, but after all, 2nd place is good enough.

As usual, we won an undeserved point (in the game against Kavala), but, in compensation, we only got a draw at Alexadroupoli, although we deserved to win. Such an alternation of luck/unluck also exists IRL, but in FM this tendency seems to be a bit exaggerated. So far we have got undeserved points in two games (both against Kavala, 2-1 and 0-0) and we also have lost points in 4 games in which we had much more scoring opportunities than our opponents.

The first four games played in February. The last three games played in February.

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The streak of 7 games without defeat also had an effect on the morale of the team. If at the end of January the atmosphere was, let's say, so and so, now it has significantly improved, which could help us in the next games. At least I hope so.

And one last detail : I thought we would get rid of postponed matches. No way. In the winter of 2024, 3 games were postponed. In the winter of 2025, 3 games were also postponed. This year, obviously, 3 games were postponed. I really wonder if this yearly postponement of 3 games in January and February is not some kind of hidden specific rule.

*****

March 2026

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I shouldn't be angry. Nestos deserved to win. I was not surprised, because in the first two games games we played really poor. Probably the high morale that the team had was ... too high. Or, who knows, the fact that the team was ranked on 2rd place increased the players' complacency. In any case, after that defeat with Nestos I criticized the whole team, without any discrimination. I would have said some harsher things to them, but I don't have this kind of options in FM. Anyway, they reacted quite well.

Games played in March

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*****

April 2026

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Two wins at the end of the season and a ranking on the 3rd place. A good performance, but that's all. To be honest, I expected more.

Games played in April

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Based on the teams' stats, I can say that this 3rd place is exactly what we deserved. Panserraikos were obviously the best team in the group, and Nestos had a much better defense than ours.

Regarding the individual players' performance, Gjeci was the best scorer and in the top 3 regarding the number of assists and the average rating. This does not prevent my assistant manager from insisting that Gjeci does not deserve to have his contract extended, as he is a player we can give up.

*****

Youth intake 2026. According to our U19's team manager, it was an "excellent" intake. We received no less than 7 "elite talents" !!! Amazing, isn't it ? But, wait, let's see what personalities the Magnificent Seven have : low determination, unambitious, balanced, low determination, unambitious, casual, unambitious. It doesn't sound very good. But that's all nothing. What is the level of their determination ? 2, 2, 3, 3, 4, 3, 2 !!! It is known that determination can only be improved through tutoring and a strategy based on encouragement and criticism. And the improvement is never spectacular. Conclusion : It was an excellent and downright mediocre intake.

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What should I do now ? Should I continue my career at Iraklis Abelokipon, or should I look for another club? The answer depends on several aspects :

- The club's reputation. At this moment Iraklis Abelokipon is on the 50th place out of the 97 teams/clubs that are part of the 3rd league. When I took over the club, its reputation was very low, being one of the lowest in the league. After 3 years we climbed into the top 50. After another 3 years it is possible to reach the top 20.
Is this reputation important ? Very important because not only the quality of players willing to transfer to us depends on it, but also the quality of those who accept to come on loan. Also, the quality of the staff and the quality of the players received at the youth intake depend on it. The reputation of the club does not significantly influence the PA, but it does influence the CA. The higher the reputation is, the higher the CA of the players we receive at the intake. This is the reason why  in the last 3 years we only received very few really good players.

3rd league clubs' reputations

- The money available to the club. In the first two seasons we spent 975,000 for current expenses, plus 250,000 invested for improving our facilities. Overall : 1225000. In the same period, the club had incomings of only 385000 (of which 135000 being fund raising). We lost almost a million, and if we didn't have any problems it was due to the fact that we had a million in the bank. Now we no longer have. In this season the situation has improved: We spent 575,000 (current expenses), and we had incomes of 555,000. However, since 255,000 of these money represented investments, it turns out that we have a rather small turnover, only 300,000. What I want to say ? That we can only support ourselves financially if only our board invests a lot of money. What will happen if the board decides to invest strictly to keep the balance ? Well, we'll cannot form a better team than the one we have now. Also, we cannot improve the our staff and in no case can we improve the facilities.

3rd league clubs' turnover

Why are our incomes so low? Because in the 3rd league there are no prizes, no participation bonuses and no TV money. The Greek Cup offers prizes, but only in the upper stages (quarter-finals and so on), plus TV money, but the small teams in the 3rd league don't end up getting anything like that because their games are not broadcasted on TV. Another source of income would be transfers, but in the 3rd league 99% of transfers are "for free". It is extremely rare for a 3rd league club to get anything (small amounts) as a result of selling a player.

*****

Conclusion: I could progress at the current club, but the progress would be really slow. I could rebuild the team every year, our reputation could grow every year and, after two or three years we could win our group. But does this mean that we would promote in the 2nd league ? No, because we would play in the playoffs, and there we would meet clubs that, having a greater reputation and a much larger budget, would have better teams and, implicitly, greater chances of promotion. If we are lucky, it can be said that in about 5 years we can reach the 2nd league. Of course, it would be much easier for me if I gave up the rule "I can transfer or loan players born in Macedonia only". But I will not give up this rule, which means that out of all the players that my scouts can "see", only one out of 20 is born in Macedonia and would be willing to negotiate a possible contract.

*****

The second option for me would be to look for another club. Of course, it has to be a Macedonian club. Also, it must be a club that has a better reputation and higher income than my current club. There are several such clubs in the 3rd league, but, in addition, there are also two clubs in the 2nd league (Iraklis Salonika and Anagennisi) which are from Macedonia and will play in the 3rd league next season because they just got relegated. I decided that, if any of these clubs will fire their manager (or he will leave), I will apply to that club.

*****

April - May 2026

Usual activities. Extending contracts (if necessary) and looking for new players willing to sign with us. In addition, I managed to convince the board to allow me to work on a new coaching course (Continental C licence)

*****

End of May 2026

The first vacancy that really interests me appeared on the list : the manager of Iraklis Salonika has been fired. Of course, I applied immediately. After a few days I was invited to the interview. I didn't really like some perverse questions, but it seems that, in the end, I was convincing, because they hired me :

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*****

Before talking about the "new" Iraklis (the one from Salonika) I should say something about the 3 years I spent at the "old" Iraklis (the one from Abelokipoi). I didn't get any exceptional performance, but I managed some pretty good seasons. I had to deal with some very good players (I mean players of the 3rd league level) and it's possible that in the future I'll try to bring 2 or 3 players from the "old" one to the "new" Iraklis.

From a more personal point of view, a summary of the 5 years of career (2021 - 2026) :

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*****

And now, some details about my new club, Iraklis Salonika / Thessaloniki.

In real life, Iraklis is a very old club (it's over 100 years old) and has played more than 50 seasons in the first league. In the all-time top of the 1st Greek league Iraklis it's the 7th club (which represents a lot, since football in Greece was dominated by the big clubs from the Athens - Piraeus area and the two big clubs from Salonika, PAOK and Aris ). Also, Iraklis participated in 9 editions of the European cups, but without getting any great performance. Unfortunately, in the last 15 years, Iraklis has declined, reaching, for financial reasons, to play in the lower leagues. The club was actually dissolved in 2017, and re-established in 2019. So the current club is not literally the "great Iraklis" but only its successor.

Iraklis keeps in FM about the same characteristics as the real Iraklis, that is, in the last 5 years it was strictly just a quite mediocre team in the 2nd league. At the moment Iraklis is a semi-professional club, but in the Greek leagues the status depends on the predefined settings of the game. All clubs in the first two leagues are professional, all clubs in the 3rd league are semi-professional. If a club relegates from the 2nd league, it automatically becomes semi-pro, and if a club promotes from the third league, it automatically becomes professional (example)

***

Regarding the club facilities, they are quite good ... but quite good only compared to the second and third league clubs. Training and youth facilities are "below average" (level 3 out of 10). Junior coaching is "average" (also level 3, but out of a maximum of 7) and youth recruitment is "fairly basic" (also level 3, but out of 8). The club's stadium is one of the largest in Greece, 27,700 seats, the 4th, after those used by AEK, Olympiacos and PAOK. The stadium does not belong to the Iraklis club, but it has been used IRL by it for over 60 years.

***

From a financial point of view, of course, I can't complain : the situation at my new club is much better than that at the old one. Iraklis Salonika have both an wage budget and income 4-5 times higher than Iraklis Abelokipoi. Some revenues will decrease next season because the prizes and TV money will disappear and the amounts offered by our sponsors will probably be lower in the 3rd league. It is also possible that also other income (season tickets, gate receipts and match day income) will be significantly lower. There is also a rather large debt, over 1 million. Even so, it can be said that the club has very good financial conditions.

***

Club vision and media prediction. I'll probably have to wait until after July 1st to have a somewhat clearer "vision". For now, the game (FM) is a bit confused and thinks that I have already solved the all financial problems :lol:. In any case, it is obvious that the main objective is winning our group from the 3rd league and participating in the playoffs. It is possible that another objective, promotion, will be added later. Considering the media prediction, which thinks we're the big favorite to win the group (our odds are huge, 4/9!) it would be said that the board's requests are very easy to fulfill. But this 4/9 was established based on the current squad, composed of a lot of 2nd league level players. But most of our stars (this meaning no less than 10 players) want to leave Iraklis. So it won't be that easy.

***

The staff. At a first glance, it seems like a high-performing staff. But after some recent experiences, I'm starting to have serious doubts. Let me take an example : my former assistant from Iraklis Abelokipon. He does not have very low skills, but he was recommending to me to give up the best scorer of the team, the second best scorer, both goalkeeper reserves, the only player we had who could play as well as ML as well as MR. ... and to the best youngster from U19. Let me take another example : the U19's manager from Iraklis Abelokipon, that is, the guy I asked to coordinate the last youth intake. He found seven "elite players", all having a determination of ... 4, or even less.

***

The players. Both the senior squad and the U19 squad seem to contain enough good players. But, as I said, almost all our star players want to leave us. In the case of others, who are still thinking whether to leave or not, I have another problem : for now the wage budget is "red" and I cannot renew their contracts. They wants much more money than I can offer them. Finally, there is the "born in Macedonia" problem. I have no less than 30 players who were born everywhere, but not in Macedonia. I have nothing else to do but wait for July 1 to see who leaves and who stays. In any case, it will be necessary to rebuild both squads because probably at least half of the players we have now will leave.

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July - October, 2026

*****

End of season in Europe (and, of course, in Greece) :

European Cups / The most important domestic leagues / The most important domestic cups

Important competitions in Greece (League 1, League 2, League 3 play-off)

*****

As usual when a new manager is hired (especially in the case of a team that has just been relegated from a higher league), there have been a lot of changes.

First of all, many players left us. On June 26, we have no less than 62 players in the two squads (of which 34 in the U19 squad). After a few days this number was reduced to 30 (of which 10 in the U19 squad). There were further changes after that, during the pre-season, i.e. we brought in 6 more players and one of those who still remained left us, which had the effect of increasing the number of available players to 35 (of which 11 in the U19 squad).

Some details about transfers. The manager I replaced had already transferred from April to June no less than 4 players. I honestly admit, his purchases were very good, but there is a problem : none of the 4 was born in Macedonia. I decided to keep all 4 newcomers because they were too good to give up them. Of course, the following transfers, the ones I will make, will respect the "born in Macedonia" rule. So, we brought 6 more players, of which only 2 (Smyrlis and the goalkeeper, Balomenos) rise to the level of the players brought by the previous manager.
As I said in the previous post, many players from the last season's "best eleven" decided to leave Iraklis because the level at which we'll play (3rd league) is too low for their demands. However, there were 6 very good players who could not leave as their contracts would only expire in 2027. Of course, all 6 immediately expressed their unhappiness at having to stay at Iraklis, which is why I was forced to declare them available for transfer . However, we set large transfer fees for them and I thought that, at least for the time being, no club would pay that much. We had a surprise: a club from the 20th league offered 61,000 for our goalkeeper (Siabanis), a huge amount for the 3rd league. So, we continue to have 5 unhappy players in the team and, in truth, all 5 are players who do not quite fit in the 3rd league because, from a qualitative point of view, they are players of the 2nd league level.

***

Media prediction lowered our odds in the last 3 months (from 1-10 to 4-11), but even at this level of odds we are far above the other teams in our group. In fact, from the point of view of these odds, in the top of the 7 groups of the 3rd league, we are in the 2nd place (after Panathinaikos B). How these odds can be explained ? Our reputation is good, but not huge. In fact, the difference is made by the players. We have about 10-12 "second league level players" (the 5 I talked about, plus 5 other players and 2 youngsters from the U19 team).

***

A few words about a database anomaly. From 2021 until 2023, 136 teams from the first 3 leagues participated in the Greek Cup. That meant all the teams from league 1, league 2 and league 3, plus another 7 teams from the lower leagues. From 2023, however, the number of participants was reduced to only 104. As the first 3 leagues are made up, in total, of 129 teams, it follows that 25 teams from the 3rd league will not participate. However, it's not clear on what basis the selection is made, because in the last 3 seasons the teams I managed could not participate in the Cup. And if in the case of Iraklis Abelokipoi everything could be explained by their low reputation, in the case of Iraklis Salonika there is no explanation. We are simply excluded from the Cup.

***

Finances. The wage budget at our disposal is very large, at least for the level of the 3rd league. However, the club is losing money. For the time being, I lost about 150,000, but if the losses continue at the same rate, it will probably reach half a million. So we'll not have money to improve our facilities in the near future.

***

Personal progress. I got the "Continental C" licence. That's enough for now. It is possible that next summer I'll try a new improvement, but everything will depend on the performance we'll achieve in the coming season.

***

Squads.

As I said, we have an exceptional squad, far superior in quality to the squads of many other clubs in the 3rd league. Even our U19 squad has a very high level, although it is made up of few players. By the way, unlike the Iraklis Abelokipon's U19 team, the one of Iraklis Salonika is registered and can play in an official competition, the 2nd League U19 (South Group)

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Is there still a problem ? Yes, we have too many players who were not born in Macedonia. 10 out of 24 in the senior squad and 4 out of 11 in the U19 squad. For now, I don't have much to do about this. The number will gradually decrease.

***

Friendlies

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As I have repeated until now, the results are irrelevant. We played many games strictly to improve team cohesion and morale. The number of unhappy players reduced from 5 to 4 because at the same time I tried to talk with these players. One of the 5 rioters, Akritidis, seems more willing to negotiate. It probably depends on his personality. This guy is "casual", which means that his determination and professionalism are low. So he is not really as bothered by the status of "player in the 3rd league" as the others are.

*****

November 2026

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Eh, I kind of expected that. Most games are very easy for us. Probably a bit more difficult will be the two games against Anagennisi Giannitson, which for now seems to be the only team capable of causing some troubles to us. It's normal, Anagennisi has just been relegated relegated from the 2nd league. But we have much better players than theirs.

Games played in November

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*****

December 2026

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I made countless managerial mistakes in the second half of the game at Giannitsa ... but we still won this game. In any case, it was a spectacular game (3 - 1 in the 87th minute, 3 - 3 in the 90th+ 2nd minute, 4 - 3 in the end).

Games played in December

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Boom ! Our club's board just hit me. And still very painful. They reduced the wage budget from 80,000 p/m to 43,000 p/m, while we spend almost 52,000 p/m on salaries. What are the effects ? Well... the contracts of 22 of the 24 players from the senior squad and 8 of the 11 players from the U19 squad will expire on June 30, 2027. What can I offer them ? Salaries of a maximum of 29 p/m and bonuses of a maximum of a few dollars per month. In other words: almost all our players can leave in the next summer, if they really want to. Superb! Yes, I admit, I made a huge mistake.
Do I have any solution for this ? Yes, I can sell sell some of those players who have big contracts. But that means destabilizing the team because the other players will be unhappy and will ask me to bring in another good players. That also means to seriously increase the dissatisfaction of the board and of our supporters. And to risk missing promotion in the 2nd league, because, if we can easily win the group even if the best 2-3 players leave ... it's not certain that we'll be able to get good results in the promotion play-off.

In any case, I can't complain about the club's board as I would like because after a few more days they also committed a good thing : they invested 725,000, which had the effect of reducing the club's debts from 1.4 million to only 700,000 .

***

Youth intake preview. Our DoF's opinion is hilarious, even epic. So: "hey, man, be careful and listen to me : we're not going to get quality goalkeepers. We're not going to get quality defenders. We're not going to get quality wide midfielders. We're not going to get quality strikers. We're not going to get quality central midfielders... I mean, wait, just one of them might be quite good. Bottom line : this will be an excellent intake. We'll get a terrific group of players!" If "terrific" somehow means something you'd never want to see, then yes, this is a truly terrific group of players.

***

Finally, an aspect that is not currently related to Iraklis's players (we have only one player called to play for a national team, more precisely, for the U18 team), but is related to the "transfer market" where we are looking for players. I was curious to find out what is the share of players "born in Macedonia" in the total number of Greek internationals. National team : 4 out of 23. U21 national team: 6 out of 23. U18 national team: 4 out of 23. Overall : 14 out of 69, i.e. 1 out of 5. A goal for the future would be to increase the proportion to 1 out of 3 or even more. But at the moment we do not have the necessary facilities for such a thing.

*****

January 2027

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As before, we win easily. I started to use more players who have a lower status, but I have to be careful because some of our "stars" can become unhappy if they don't play as much as they would like.

Games played in January

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Even the teams' stats suggest that there is a big difference between us and the other teams in our group. We are "number one" from almost all points of view. Of course, as a consequence, a lot of our players have high or very high ratings.

*****

Finances. We keep losing a lot of money. We have already reached the half million that I predicted and probably that at the end of this season ww'll have losses of at least 800,000. Obviously, we must promote this season. If we can't, next season will be very difficult.

*****

Transfers. I didn't bring any players. I can't do it as long as I can't offer adequate salaries. Unfortunately, I didn't even manage to sell players. The clubs know that all my players will be "free" at the end of the season and they don't have to pay transfer fees. I could offer some good players simply for free, but for now I want to have enough good players available for the playoffs.

*****

Our U19 team. It seems that we (still) have a very strong team. At least this is understood from reading this table. Unfortunately, it is very likely that many of these players will no longer play for us next season. There is especially a certain player who would represent a very big loss : Nektarios Marinos. This guy is a real goal machine (26 goals scored in the 15 games played in the U19 league, plus 2 goals scored in the 2 games played for the U19 national team)

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February 2027

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We only won 8 points out of 12, but the biggest problem is that our offensive is increasingly ineffective. Since the players are not unhappy, I assume that the problem is caused by complacency. After all, we are in first place, we have 10 points ahead of the team in second place and there are only 3 rounds to play. It's true, Anagennisi has an extra game to play, but even a difference of 7 points is big enough .

Games played in February

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*****

March 2027

- March 7 : Kastoria - Iraklis 2 - 2. We had to win. We had a two-goal advantage, we had opportunities to score the 3rd goal ... but we only got a draw. Anagennisi, of course, won both the game in this round and that game that had been postponed. Consequently, the difference between us and them was reduced to 5 points.

- March 28 : Iraklis - Kozani 1 - 2 !!! The difference between us and Anagennisi is now only 2 points. However, we have an advantage : if the two teams have the same number of points, the matches between them are taken into account. We won (4-3) in the first game and got a draw (0-0) in the second. In other words, a simple draw in the last round would mean for us winning the group, regardless of the result that Anagennisi will get.

- April 4 : Almopos - Iraklis 1 - 4. A magnificent success, countless congratulations, enthusiastic board, ecstatic supporters ! Hooray ! Now, seriously speaking, to miss out on winning the group would have been the stupidest failure of my entire career as a FM player.

It's interesting that the name of the winner depended on a single goal, scored in the 90+3rd minute. What would have happened if Akritidis had not scored that goal at the end of this game, a game that took place at Anagennisi's stadium ? Anagennisi would have now had 50 points and we ... only 49.

Actually, it doesn't matter anymore. We ranked first and therefore qualified for the playoffs. Of course, all this trouble was caused by complacency and my inability to manage the situation. Normally, we should have won this group much more clearly. Fortunately (for me), we were saved by the fact that we have much better players than the other teams in "our" group.

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Games played in March

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According to the teams' stats, we were slightly better. Not by much. But it's normal, considering that, despite the budget restrictions, we had a wage budget significantly higher than our opponents.

***

Youth intake 2027. A few months ago, our DoF said that we were going to receive "a group of terrific players". The guy kept his opinion even now and, in a way, he is right. We received 5 good players, and two of them seem to be very good. The others ? Somewhat useless, although it is worth noting that the evaluation is made in relation to the best players we have now. Probably some of the "useless players" received today would be at least 4 stars PA players at Iraklis Abelokipon, my former club.

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*****

April - June 2027

For obscure reasons, no less than 6 weeks passed between the last round of the group stage and the first round of the playoffs. A rather boring period, especially because friendly games and training were "banned" after May 1, just like in the case of a winter break. However, there were also some advantages. The 6 weeks of break allowed me to rest my players and, above all, to recover 3 injured ones. We also played two friendlies, not very important but useful for the team's morale. Then, on May 17, the playoff schedule was announced. Surprise, that very day we're going to play the first match ! Starting from May 17, training was also allowed. Kinda weird.

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During the "holiday" (?) period I spied on our future opponents. Based on their results, it would be said that 5 of the 6 teams we'll meet are very good. But, when I asked my scouts to compare the squads, it turned out that we and Panathinaikos B have the best players. There is no any media prediction, but it seems that we are favorites for promotion.

***

We played the first half of the playoffs, that is, three games. The results ?

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Well, we're promoted. Even if we'll lose all three games that follow, it would take an extremely improbable combination of results to not place us in one of the 1-4 places. However, just in case, we should get (at least) a point in the next games.

The first three games played

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***

It's done ! We're already promoted to the 2nd league.

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***

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How can be explained this success, given that the last games in the group stage were a real ordeal for us ? Honestly, I knew we would play better in the playoffs. The game (FM) considers the two stages to be different and does not transfer the complacency from the first stage to the playoffs. It only transfers the individual player unhappiness, but we don't have a lot of unhappy players. So, the 7 teams started this stage in roughly the same conditions and the only really important factors was the quality of the players used and the team reputation.

Last three games played

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Edited by GreenTriangle
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June 2027

So, we promoted to the 2nd league. However, considering the quality of the players we had at my disposal, I cannot consider this promotion as representing a remarkable performance. In fact, missing the promotion would have been a big failure. Of course, many of my players got high and very high ratings, but it's easy to get such ratings when the quality of the opponents is low.
However, there is also an aspect that deserves to be mentioned : the results achieved by our U19 team seem to suggest that we have at least 5-6 very good young players in our own academy. The fact that we don't have the facilities needed to fully develop these young players is a disadvantage for us, but I hope that at least one or two of them will become important players for our senior squad.

(By the way, a few months ago I was talking about Nektarios Marinos, the best player in our U19 team. The guy continues to score a lot of goals but, unfortunately, his development appears to be slower and slower . In fact, it's even worse: it can be said that he has regressed during the last 5 months).

***

Immediately after the end of the playoffs, the Board informed me about our objective for the next season. More specifically, they ask for a mid-table position. To be honest, this request surprised me because I knew from the experience of previous years that teams managed by AI have great difficulties in the first year after the promotion from the 3rd league to the 2nd league. In fact, in the last 5 years, out of the 20 teams promoted during this period of time, no less than 18 were relegated back to the 3rd league the following season.
Of course, the AI has its limitations, so for a human FM player it would probably be much easier to avoid relegation. In addition, our Board is right in its own way, as it has provided me with a large budget, practically twice as large as the one I had in the previous season. 95,000 p/m means that I can spend up to 1.1 million per year on wages and transfers. And the teams that had budgets of 1.1 million were ranked in very good places in the previous season of the second league : 5, 10, 3 and 2 (!). However, there would be two problems for me :

- First, that the 4 teams I was talking about are experienced 2nd league teams that have a fairly high reputation and squads made up of really valuable players.

- The second problem is related to the fact that at the end of June we'll lose 4 of the best players we had. It's about the 4 "rebels" who wanted to leave us since last summer. For them, it doesn't matter that we promoted and we'll play again in the second league. They simply refuse to negotiate any extension for their contracts.

***

At the end of June, Iraklis became a professional club again. As I said before, this is not an option. All clubs in the 3rd league are semi-professional, all clubs in the 2nd league are professional. The change of status is automatic in the case of promotion / relegation and a manager has no possibility to request the change of this status.
Of course, the re-professionalization of the club is very advantageous. Daily training, full-time contracts and a much greater interest from good and very good players to negotiate a possible contract with us. Practically, from that moment my list of good players "born in Macedonia" became extremely useful because the number of players willing to transfer to us immediately increased from 10-15 to over 40.

Also, the number of staff that can be hired has increased, although there is still room for improvement here. In any case, it will be necessary to replace some of the old staff members because their quality is not high enough. Even my manager's contract had to be changed. Basically, I negotiated two contracts, one in April (part-time, with a duration of one year) and another in June (full-time, with a duration of two years).

*****

End of season in Europe (and, of course, in Greece) :

European Cups / The most important domestic leagues / The most important domestic cups

Important competitions in Greece (League 1, League 2, Greek Cup)

Nations League (last 3 editions) / U21 European Championship (last 3 editions) / U19 European Championship (last 4 editions)

And an interesting detail : a certain club won the Champions League 6 times in a row. But the same club won the domestic league only once. By the way, the league i'm referring to is active and playable.

*****

July - September 2027

The first game of the first round of the league will take place tomorrow. From April until now I had a lot of work to do, because I had to update the list of transferable players. In the end, the list got so big that it had to be divided into two, "over 21" and "under 21". Absolutely all players on these list respect the "born in Macedonia" rule. This summer we lost 10 players (the 4 important players and another 6 other players), but the loss is negligible because from January until June almost all of our players were in the last 6 months of their contracts and, of course, they were free to sign contracts with any other clubs. I'm really amazed by the fact that we only lost 10 players and that some very good players preferred to continue to play for us. Probably our reputation (which was high, compared to that of most of the 3rd league clubs) saved us. In any case, immediately after we had a "2nd league budget" at our disposal, we were able to offer higher wages to all players who were already playing for us. In addition, we were able to attract no less than 12 new players (plus Shala, who was loaned to us the previous season as well). Out of 12 newcomers, 8 are transferred and the other 4 (+ Shala) were loaned to us. Considering the quality of these players, I can say that our current team is much better than the one we had at the beginning of the previous season.

At the end of the transfer window we have on the lists a number of 53 other players who would have been interested in a (possible) transfer to us (35 over 21 and 18 under 21). Of course, many of these players aren't very good and would have been useful for us at most as a back-up. In any case, I should keep an eye on these lists because on them there are still several dozen very good players with whom it's still not possible to negotiate.

Squads.

The senior squad includes 28 players, the U19 squad only 16 (I kept only half of the players received at the youth intake, the ones who seemed to be really good). As for the players born in Macedonia... in June 2026 we have no less than 30 in the 2 squads. In October the number was reduced to 14, and now there are 9 left (7 in the senior squad, 2 in the U19 squad).

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Regarding the quality of the players in the senior squad, we are somewhere around average. There are some attributes (decisions, jumping reach, heading, natural fitness) that are not quite as I would like, but I hope that their lower level will not decisively affect the team's play.

***

By the way, I replaced our assistant manager. I didn't trust the previous one because his JCA and JPA were ... not very good. The new one have much better JCA/JPA and, in addition, he has a bit more "tactical knowledge". I hope this change will really be useful. In any case, some players who were considered useless by the old assistant seem to be much more appreciated by the new one.

***

For unknown reasons our Board suddenly became pessimistic. In July, it established that our objective is a "mid-table" position. In September, they decided that our objective is to "fight bravely against relegation". Why ? I have no idea. It's true, the media prediction also lowered our odds (from 14-1 to 25-1), but the decrease is not really huge. Our reputation has not changed : we have the 14th reputation (out of 18 teams), but it must be taken into account that the 3 second teams (Panathinaikos B, PAOK B and AEK B) have low reputations by default, without that meaning that they are necessarily weak teams.

***

Finances. The wage budget was reduced from 95,000 p/m to 92,500 p/m due to the transfer fees paid. It's not an important change. We still lose a lot of money, but I hope that from now on the financial situation will start to improve.

***

Friendlies. Everything is fine ... until now. We played a lot of friendlies (9) and this allowed us to improve our cohesion (which on July decreased significanly caused by the arrival of the 12 new players).

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September 2027

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A pretty good start of the season.

Matches played in September

*****

October 2027

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16 points out of 18. It could have been even 18 out of 18 if in the game against Larisa we hadn't had a disallowed goal and we hadn't missed that penalty. Unfortunately, we also missed qualifying for the next round of the Greek Cup, or, in other words, we missed the chance to earn some extra money. Anyway, I shouldn't complain : for now, our team is playing much better than I expected.

First three matches played in October / Last four matches played in October

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November 2027

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7 points out of 9. Although... I admit, we deserved to lose the game against Chania. They played a bit better than us.

Matches played in November

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I do not understand what is happening. We haven't been defeated even once since the beginning of the season, we only have one unhappy player... but the atmosphere has become worse and worse in the last two weeks. I have no idea why this happened.

*****

December 2027

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8 points out of 12, but ... our good run of form has kind of ended. We were unlucky in the first game, but in the game against Niki Volou and especially in the last game, the one played against Irodotou, we got good results only because of luck.

Matches played in December

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The atmosphere began to improve, although I did nothing to achieve this improvement. There are some paranormal influences, probably.

The first half of the season has ended, but the winter break will be short, only one week. For now, I can't complain. We are in first place, which is an exceptional performance for a newly promoted team. In fact, the teams' stats confirm this, as we are leaders both in terms of attack and from the point of view of defense. Some players have got high ratings, others ... are either in a poor run of form or do not have the necessary qualities to play at this level (second league).
Another positive aspect: our U19 team continues to dominate its group in the U19 youth league. It would probably be appropriate to start offering the chance to some young players to play a few games for the senior team as well. The trouble is that, unfortunately, the schedules of the two teams frequently overlap.
Do we have problems from any point of view? Of course. We keep losing money. For now we only have 200,000 losses, but we'll probably reach at least half a million until the end of this season.

***

Youth intake preview. As usual: an excellent intake, a terrific group of players, Harry Potter had a magic wand and Darth Vader was an expert in fighting with light sabers. A lot of stories. I want to see with my own eyes what's up about those players.

***

Update. In the last days of the month, I got seriously involved in the transfers of some new (and good) players. After all, we still had some money to spend. I had already prepared the lists of players whose contracts were to expire next summer (sorted by CA, sorted by PA). But the Board caught me in the act and decided that my ideas are clearly not appropriate. As a result, from January 1, the wage budget was lowered exactly to the level that would not allow me to transfer any player. In fact, I'm still free to transfer as many players as I want ... but only if before that I'll sell some good players from the current team. I say "good players" because no one wants the one who plays badly anyway (except "for free", of course).

*****

January 2028

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Only 5 points. But the games that took place this month had their own story :
- First, we met PAOK B. We only got a draw, 0-0, although we played a bit better than our opponent. OK, it happens sometimes.
- Second game : 2-4 against Anagennisi Karditsas, a game in which Anagennisi scored 4 times out of 4 shots on target (!). Stupid, but it still happens sometimes.
- Next game, against Kallithea (by the way, Kallithea is a district of Athens). In the first 45 minutes they shot twice. Both shots were on target, both were goals. So, in the last 135 minutes played, we conceded 6 goals from 6 shots on target (really ?!?). During the second half we attacked, but the opponent defended very well and the game ended with a defeat for us (0-2).
- The fourth game, in our stadium. Opponent : Trikala. The game (FM) probably realized that I was nervous, and, of course decided to annoy me even more. As a result, my boys played extremely poor ... but they won (4-2), scoring 4 goals from 4 shots on target (!).
- In the last game of this month, we met the Macedonian "brothers" from Kavala. We didn't play well at all, but in the end we scored a goal. Everything was perfect ... but the game (FM) had already decided to make me to break the keyboard. As a result, Kavala scored in the 90th+1st minute. It was their first (and only) shot on target they had ...

Matches played in January

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On January 31 the transfer window closed. Summary : we didn't sell any player, we only bought one player (and that one will come to us only in the next summer). Why ? Because something interesting happened : we did not receive a single transfer offer for our important players. For an entire month, not even one club thought to contact us and say "hey, we want to buy X, we offer you 5% of his market share". What did I have to do ? Of course, there was only one choice, to offer our players to other clubs, at random. But this would mean, on the one hand, to significantly affecting player's morale and, on the other hand, to not being able to negotiate as I want. As we need the best possible morale, I decided not to put the players up for sale. By the way, morale, surprisingly, remained still high, although the last results had not been good at all.
In conclusion : there were only two changes in our squad

- the loss of Melkas, a player that was loaned from Trikala, but whom I almost not used at all. A clarification is needed : this Melkas is the best player produced by the academy of my former club, Iraklis Abelokipoi, during the period when I was manager there. Unfortunately, it turned out that the best young player produced by my former club doesn't really have a place at my current club, at least for now.

- and bringing Marinos from the U19 team. Marinos is that young striker who scores 10-12 goals every 10 games played. Of course, he doesn't yet have the necessary physical skills to play match by match in the 2nd league, but I intend to give him the a chance to play 30-45 minutes from time to time. By the way, he already played one match (against Trikala) and scored twice.

***

From the manager John X's point of view, it seems that I have become quite famous, at least in Greece. I received another interesting interview invitation, from OFI Iraklion (Crete). Of course, I don't intend to give up my job at Iraklis.

*****

February 2028

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7 points out of 12. It could have been even better, because, for example, we could have gotten at least one point in that game against Larissa. We conceded an own goal, missed a penalty and had more chances to score. Or, if we had been a little more lucky, we would have scored a goal and could have won the game played against Volos. Anyway, I shouldn't complain. Only us and PAOK B got 7 points this month, and PAOK B cannot be promoted to the first league. The other teams that can fight with us for the first two places have got only 6 points (Niki Volou), or even less. It can be said that we were not very lucky on the pitch... but we were really lucky in the ranking.

Matches played in February

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March 2028

I can't believe this !!! :seagull::seagull::seagull::seagull::seagull::seagull::seagull:

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So, who did we play against ? Panathinaikos B (17th place), Chania (12th place), Panachaiki (16th place), AEK B (18th place)
Who did we play against? Panathinaikos B (2nd worst defense in the league), Chania (best defense in the league), Panachaiki (3rd worst defense in the league), AEK B (worst defense in the league)
Who did we play against? Panathinaikos B (4th worst attack in the league), Chania (3rd worst attack in the league), Panachaiki (2nd worst attack in the league), AEK B (3rd best attack in the league)
What did we get ? One point out of 12 possible. I still can't believe this ...

Matches played in March

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Actually, what's the problem ? We are in the 3rd place, only 4 points away from the 2nd place. But, if we were not able to beat the teams in the 17th, 12th, 16th and 18th places ... what chances do we have to beat the teams that are in the 3rd place (Levadeiakos), 1st place (Niki Volou), 2nd place (PAOK B) and 5th place (Anagennisi) ?
After the end of the game against AEK I called the team for a team meeting. The assistant's suggestion seemed reasonable. The result of this team meeting ? Really wonderful : before the team meeting, morale was quite good (???). After the team meeting, morale instantly became "very poor". And that's because I had the stupid inspiration to tell the players that they've played well so far, but that they could play even better in the next games.

*****

Youth intake 2028

As last year, our DoF considers this intake to be "excellent", some of the players being "terrific". That's what he says. In my opinion, this intake is reasonably good. Yes, we received about 4-5 good players, but all of them have various problems related to their personality. If we're lucky, one or (at most) two of these players have a chance to become a first team player in the future.

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April 2028

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6 points out of 18. But, realistically speaking, we didn't deserve to win either against Niki Volou or against PAOK B. It was a kind of reward received from the game (FM) after the previous few matches we lost in a stupid way. In fact, in the last three games my team played extremely poorly. Finally, it doesn't matter anymore. We ranked 7th, a really good position for a newly promoted team.

First three matches played in April / Last three matches played in April (and early May)

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According to the teams' stats, we're what would be called "a 5th / 6th place team", very close to the 7-th place we got in the final standings. The players' stats are less relevant, although it could be said that some of our players cannot really rise to the level required for the second Greek league.

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End of season in Europe :

European Cups / The most important domestic leagues / The most important domestic cups. (FC Liverpool won the Champions League for the 7th consecutive time !)

Important competitions in Greece (League 1, League 2, League 3 Playoff, Greek Cup)

And something interesting (at least for me) : at the end of this season, all 3 clubs where I was manager (before being hired by Iraklis Salonika) were relegated from the 3rd league.

*****

June - September 2028

Well, I think SI Games should improve the "club vision" section. Because what is written there is a bit exaggerated : the team was newly-promoted from the 3rd league, and in the 2nd league it ranked 7th out of 18 and only conceded 35 goals in 34 games played. The defense was therefore "solid" and our reputation improved a little, but it couldn't have grown very much after only one season. So, our Board's "complaints" are a bit ridiculous.

***

In terms of personal development, things are going well : I have a Continental C licence, I got permission to work on a coaching course for the Continental B licence, and in the course of my career, although I did not achieve exceptional performances, I still managed to get some reasonably good results.

***

Bad news, but this is something I expected : because in the last two years we did not invest at all in improving the facilities, they were downgraded. More precisely, now we have worse training facilities.

***

Good news : our U19 team not only ranked first in the North series of the second league, but also won the final of this league. Obviously, some of these young players will be immediately promoted to the senior squad.

***

Finances. I don't think I'm saying anything new when I say that we have financial troubles. The situation has improved a little compared to last season, and this is because we promoted to the second league. Our turnover increased (from 775,000 per year to 1,300,000 per year) and the yearly financial losses decreased (from 825,000 to 525,000). 

Unfortunately, our Board is right : the relatively low reputation we have affects our income. Sponsorship depends (among other things) on reputation, and we lose 200-250,000 annually because of this. Another source of income, attendance at matches, has increased significantly this season, but we cannot hope that it will continue to grow in the future as long as we play in the 2nd league. The Board helps us as much as it can (they injected 750,000), but for now this help is directed towards the payment of debts.

I know, these numbers are boring, but there is a reason why I expose them : I need some better players than the ones we already have. And good players are ... expensive (high salaries, generous bonuses). I cannot offer them such salaries because we, although we spend 700,000 per year, have one of the smallest budgets in the 2nd league. It would be normal to sell some of the current players, but I can't. There is no demand for them. I received a few offers, but only for very small amounts or even for free.

Fortunately, our Board decided to slightly increase the available wage budget (from 69,000 p/m to 73,000 p/m), which allowed me to bring some players. However, we couldn't afford to pay transfer fees, so I had to look for players whose contracts were about to expire. We had 157 players "born in Macedonia" on the lists. Of these, 66 could be willing to negotiate a contract, and of the 66, two-thirds (more precisely, 44) were in the situation of having their contracts expire this summer. We had many options to choose from, so we were able to bring 4 new players, plus Kaimakamoudis, a player who had been loaned to us last season and had scored 8 goals. However, none of the other 4 players is very good. In fact, they are all players having very good potential but who did not stand out in their former teams. Of course, this year's transfer campaign is much lower in quality than last year's.

In any case, next season I'll have to give up some of the current players. Contracts for most of these players will expire in June 2029 and I'll not be able to extend them... unless some players will leave us, especially some of those who have (too) high salaries.

***

It seems that, in the end, the Board understood that its claims were a bit too high, so it gave up on the initial objective ("top half") and set a more realistic one : "avoid relegation". Probably this decision was somehow influenced by the quality of our squad (which, according to media prediction, is not high at all).

***

Squads.

We have 30 players in the senior squad. Far too many ... but I intend to give up at least 4 or 5 of them in the winter. I was already lucky, that is, I received an unexpected loan offer for Tsaousis. A theoretically very good player, but who played quite poorly for us and, in addition, he has a really high wage. Surprisingly, I found a club (Chania) that agreed to pay his full salary.

I brought Karasalidis and Bakodimos from the U19 squad and I would have brought about 3 more players from there, but I'll do that only in the winter, after I find teams for the players we'll no longer need.

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***

Friendlies. Unlike other years, this time we didn't play many games. Honestly, I didn't have the necessary patience for this and, in addition, the team morale was anyway quite good since the summer.

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***

A brief mention about tactics. More precisely, about the positional configuration. So far I have strictly used the classic configurations (Classic MR/ML and Classic AMR/AML). From now on I intend to experiment with something different, that is 2DM MR/ML, 2DM AMR/AML and MR-MC-ML. The roles and duties will strictly depend on the players I have available. I played football IRL and I never liked these coaches who believed that the tactics did not depend on the player's skills. Also on the same idea, I use variants of Gegenpress that match the players I have. For example, I can only very rarely use a high tempo because many of my players do not have the necessary abilities for this (especially in the 2nd league). Also, I have to be careful when I use "pass into space". Sometimes this instruction is very useful for the AI team.

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September 2028

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We're having some trouble. We needed no less than 37 shots on target to score 5 goals. The opponents, on the other hand, also scored 5 times, but from only 14 shots on target. Our training sessions are not at all different from those of the time when we scored goals without needing a million shots on target to score. For now, the only solution I thought of for the next matches is to change the tactical positioning of the team.

Games played in September

*****

October 2028

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Well, yes, it's a little better now. No, we didn't play much better, but we had much more luck. We gained undeserved points in the games against Irodotos, Chania and Veroia. We were also lucky in the Greek Cup, where, although we met two teams from the 1st league (Ionikos and Panetolikos), we got two wins. Honestly, both opponents in the Cup played much worse than I would have expected. Probably because they didn't take us seriously. In the end, it doesn't matter. We qualified for the quarter-finals of the Cup, a pretty good performance. I have no illusions about the final because Olympiacos or Panathinaikos would destroy us if we'll play against them, but I still hope for a semi-final.

First four games played in October / Last three games played in October

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November 2028

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7 points out of 12. We probably deserved a draw at Volos, but it doesn't matter. For now, my main concern is related to the fact that we had two team leaders ... and now we only have one, and even that one is very unhappy. The first of them, Papatolios, was 34 years old, and insisted on leaving "because he doesn't play enough". It's true, he was an "important player", but it's nice that the guy refused to sign a new contract both last December and June. He played for us on a part-time contract, being paid "month-to-month". I presume he thinks that countless clubs need a 34 years old player. The second, Dimitriadis, is 31 years old and, suddenly, he remembered that he is paid only 1200 p/m and that he wants 3000 (!!!). Due to budget restrictions, I can only offer him a maximum of 1900. Of course, in real life, a team leader would understand that what he wants is unrealistic. But FM is not real life.

Games played in November

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The schedule for the quarter-finals of the Greek Cup was drawn. Our opponent: OFI Iraklion (Crete). It could have been better ... but also worse.

*****

December 2028

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4 points out of 12. But I feel very good, because my boys have shown a high humanitarian spirit. It is said that around the new year it's advisable to help those who are suffering. For example, Olympiakos B. They were suffering a lot because they had played 15 games and had not beaten anyone yet. No problem, we immediately turned into a humanitarian association and offered them a victory. Christmas gift.

(By the way, this is a weak point for FM. There are football games in real life where the weaker team fights with all its might to get a good result. FM cannot generate the ambition and desperation of such games. Instead, FM generates countless hilarious moments in which either the strikers miss the target from any position, or the goalkeeper saves absolutely any ball, no matter how difficult it is).

Games played in December

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***

Yay, we are number 1 ! No, not in the league table, but only in the teams' stats. Our offensive game is surprisingly good. Too bad it's only in statistics. From a defensive point of view, these statistics are a bit more realistic because we really have a reasonably good defense.

The players' stats are not very relevant because most of my players have oscillating evolutions. A good game, a bad game (same tactics). Some players got bored of the monotony of one good / one bad and started to improvise: one good game, two bad ones. Or, why not, even 3 bad games in a row.

***

At the beginning of the season, I forgot to post the profiles of the newly arrived players (Kaimakamoudis is not a newcomer, he was loaned to us in the previous season, now we only transferred him). These are the 4 players (of which only three are important, because the 4th, Tsilaslanidis, was injured for about 3 months and already wants to leave us). Also at the beginning of the season, it would (maybe) have been necessary to post the assistant's report. We're in trouble at physical attributes (plus decisions, positioning and marking) ... but we're pretty good from other points of view.

***

Finances. Since we spend more than our budget allows, it's almost impossible to extend the contracts of countless players whose contracts will expire in the next 6 months. In fact, a lot of these players are not even willing to negotiate. As a result, I got angry and decided : anyone who wants to leave ... is free to leave. I'll not extend any contract until the summer.

***

Our U19 team is no longer able to play at the level it played in the past years. It was enough to take 3-4 players from there and the team's potential has already dropped significantly. And because I talked about this team : we had a player there who doesn't score many goals, instead he was one of the best providers of assists for his teammates year after year. Which is normal, because the guy could have been an exceptional target man (and, by the way, he is 198 cm tall). Unfortunately, he lacks some essential skills, especially anticipation, concentration and passing which is why he's not a good option for the first team. In any case, it doesn't matter anymore, because he will leave us in a few months.

***

Youth intake preview. The future intake will be ... as usual : "excellent" and "terrific". That's what the DoF says. Of course, I don't trust him.

*****

January 2029

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3 points out of 12, plus a (clear and predictable) defeat in the Greek Cup. However, I also have two reasons for satisfaction. First of all, we set a new record, that is, we managed to shoot on target only 17 times in 6 games (on average, less than 3 shots per game). Secondly, we showed our humanitarian spirit again, as we also offered the team on the 17th place (Larisa) the chance to win a game. I have to remind, in December we were generous with the team from the 18th place. If we continue like this, we'll have to be generous through the 3rd league. I say this because the difference between us and the team on the 15th place decreased to only 3 points.

First three games played in January / Last three games played in January

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At the club, everything is fine. That's what the Board says. I think we could also organize a party in honor of achieving the goals .
From other points of view, however, the situation is ... complicated. Team morale is low. The support for the manager is ... excellent. I presume that our players play so catastrophically only because they appreciate me, that is, they imagine that a possible dismissal would be really useful for my career.
No less than 12 players have already signed contracts with other clubs, and 6 of these players are exactly the best youngsters produced by Iraklis in the last 3 years (Marinos, Bakodimos, Kikeridis, Rakavinas, Boulionis, Karasalidis). I am curious how many other players will leave in the coming months. In any case, I tried to send some of these players to other clubs. We'll have to play without them in the near future, why should we pay their salaries? It's better to let others pay them.

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February 2029

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3 points out of 12. We didn't even deserve more, because the game against PAOK B was the only one in which we played some football. Not very much, but it was enough to get a win.

Games played in February

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In mid-January and mid-February my assistant manager suggested me to organize team meetings. I'm not saying that he wasn't right, just that I suspected that the morale in those periods can be considered very good (although it was only average). I expected the situation to become particularly very bad. Of course, I hope it won't happen, but my predictive skills seem to be pretty good. At the end of February the players' morale became very poor indeed. Of course, I immediately organized that so-needed team meeting, and all my players reacted as positively as possible. Now it remains to be seen if they will react as positively on the pitch.

*****

March 2029

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Yes, I understand now : so, it's one thing to react positively in the locker room and another thing to do it on the pitch. Seems to be an important managerial detail and must be remembered (I wrote it down already). However, two weeks after the team meeting my boys managed to win two games (that is, 6 points out of 15). I think they probably have slower reactions. It's still good that they didn't react after the end of the championship.
Since at the beginning of the competition I had some unhealthy illusions about a place in the top 10 (or, even more, in the top 6), now I have to be really happy for avoiding relegation. Which is not certain, but it is very likely because the three teams that could send us to the 3rd league (Acheron, Larisa and Apollon) play at least as badly as us, or even worse.

Games played in March

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During March, two positive events happened. First of all, our Board decided to invest another 700,000. Second, the manager John X (or, in other words, myself) got the Continental B licence and, as a result, a small increase in some of his managerial skills.

***

Youth intake 2029. As usual, it was an "excellent" and "terrific" intake. I mean, we received about 5 quite good players (yay !), but 3 of them don't have really positive personalities. Since we don't have good enough facilities and the team doesn't even have the necessary characteristics to fight for a place in the first half of the table, it's hard to believe that these young players could develop sufficiently. As a result, I decided to keep only about 3-4 slightly better players (those who also have reasonably positive personalities).

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*****

April (and the first week of May)

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Yes ! We avoided relegation ! We are true heroes ! :lol:
Of course, we clearly lost the first two games. It was to be expected, since we played against some opponents from the top 6. These defeats did not represent a problem for us, since the other teams that were fighting to avoid relegation were also losing game after game anyway. The game against Acheron followed. Surprise, after half an hour of play we were leading 2-0 ! Wow ! I was hoping that, finally, we would beat someone. No chance. Acheron scored, then, at the end, the game (FM) proved to me that it can be extremely sadistic if it really wants, Acheron equalizing in the 90+1 minute (when they were playing with only 10 players). The game against Olympiacos B, the last ranked team, followed. Of course, we didn't win. Finally, in the last game we met Niki Volou, a team already qualified for the promotion playoff. Since Niki played badly, we allowed ourselves to play a bit better. But the game (FM) decided again: you are not allowed to get some good results. As a result, it invented a penalty for Niki in the 90th+2nd minute ... :seagull:

Games played in April

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According to the teams' stats, we're good. That means we have an attack capable of creating many xG (expected goals) and a good enough defensive compartment. Also according to the teams' stats, we have problems, because my attackers are not able to hit the target (we have one of the lowest rates, only 37%). In conclusion, everything is fine, but something is wrong.

***

According to the players' stats, it would be said that our problem is somewhere in our midfield line. They weren't able to generate enough scoring chances and it's clear that their support for the strikers was insufficient. Of course, someone might say "yes, your tactics are to blame". Well, let's recap : in January I changed the 4-2-3-1 configuration to 4-4-1-1. Results : W, L, L, L (I exclude the Cupa matches). In February I changed 4-4-1-1 to 4-4-2. Results : W, L, L, L. In March I returned to 4-4-1-1. Results : W, W, L, L, L. In April I changed 4-4-1-1 to 4-1-4-1. Results: D, D, L. So, the team always played better after changing the configuration ... but only for a game or two. Why ? I have no idea. If it was an "unknown" (or not enough known) configuration, we should have lost also the first games we played using a new tactical configuration

***

There is another problem. In the last 3 seasons, the team "fell" in the second half of the competition. I no longer have the screenshot of the season we spent in the 3rd league, but the last two seasons are edifying : last season we got 36 points in the first half of the season (1st place) and only 18 in the second half (12th place). This season we got 22 points in the first half of the season (11th place) and only 14 points in the second half (15th place).

Why is this happening ? Complacency and a very big (too big) influence of the team's morale on the players' attributes. The team's morale is low, and this is mainly due to the (not very good) results. How do I know this ? Well, because the players have no serious reasons to be unhappy. Moreover, if I take the 14 players who are team leaders / highly influential players / influential players and sum their opinions, the result is 67 positive opinions ... and only 3 negative ones. The evolution of the team does not depend very much on one player or another, but it depends a lot on the whole team's morale. This results in series of abnormally good results, followed by abnormally bad results.

***

Transfers. As I said, this season we brought only 5 players, all of them being brought during the last summer. Surprisingly, the number of players who signed contracts with other clubs remained the same (12) as three months ago. I have to remind : most of our players' contracts will expire in June, so they can be transferred for free by other clubs.

***

Finances. This year we didn't lose money, but that's only because of the very large amounts (more than 1,400,000) invested by our Board. It seems that the Board is quite satisfied with the club's situation (and my management), because not only has it been decided to balance our finances, but, moreover, it has decided that next year we'll have a huge wage budget : 175,000 p/m, which it means more than 2 million for the entire year. The budget from the previous season was much lower (73,000 p/m, so 875,000 per year), which had the effect that last season we had the lowest salary expenses in the 2nd league.

Well, everything seems to be perfect now. We have enough money to build a strong team. There would be only one problem: I don't think that this huge wage budget can remain as the same level in the next season. I assume not, because we don't have such large sources of income. So, I have two options :
- either to spend less money by transferring only a few players, in which case we could probably rank in the top 10 ... but we wouldn't risk running out of money at the end of next season.
- either to risk, spending a lot and offering high salaries, bonuses and other advantages to the best players I can find. I could also pay a large part of the wages of those players we'll loan, which would give me the opportunity to attract better players. This strategy can only work for one season, except for the case in which we'll get promoted to the first league.

To be honest, I haven't decided yet...

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May - September 2029

As I said in the previous post, I had to decide : either to choose a less risky approach (lower expenses, cheaper players), or choose a more ambitious but riskier approach (higher expenses). I chose the second option. I'll risk it.

At the end of the season we had 53 players in our squad (31 in the senior squad, 22 in the U19 squad). Some of these players were going to leave us at the end of June, and also then the contracts of many other players were going to expire (senior squad contracts / U19 squad contracts). Of course, this situation allowed me to choose which players were to stay (if they were interested in doing so) and which players were to leave the club. I needed a comparative analysis to evaluate the players we have and see if and where we need some improvements :

So 12 players were going to leave, of which
- six players had been transferred from other clubs in previous years (Monastirlis, Tsaousis, Natsiopoulos, Kamakamoudis, Akritidis, Tsinaslanidis). Five of the six (the exception being Monastrirlis) are high potential players ... but all of them played mediocre during the recenlty ended season.
- six other players were the best products of the Iraklis club academy in the last 3 years (Boulionis, Karasalidis, Kikeridis, Bakodimos, Marinos, Rakavinas). Unfortunately, our training facilities would not have allowed us to develop these players properly and, anyway, they had not yet reached the necessary level to play in the 2nd league.

20 players from the senior squad were to be available for a possible contract extension negotiation. Among them :

- six players were not "born in Macedonia" (Ribeiro, Apostolidis, Gaitanidis, Dingelidis, Xhafa and Voilis). Since I intend to progressively reduce the number of players born outside of Macedonia, I decided to offer contracts for at most three players out of these six.

- six other players were part of a group about which I had serious doubts whether to keep them or not (Moraitis, Taskiridis, Vellidis, Chavos, Tselepidis, Dimitriadis). In the end, I decided that Vellidis, Chavos and Dimitriadis deserve an extra chance.

- eight players represent what I would call the "core" of the team (Balomenos, Roussos, Makris, Lyberakis, Zarpas, Sapountzis, Smyrlis, Gakos). I would have preferred to be able to keep them all, but in the end Roussos decided that he want to leave. I need this core to keep cohesion at an acceptable level.

- and, finally, the youngsters. It was difficult for me to choose because, in short, after the departure of the six, we no longer have really good young players. I still chose some players, but only one of them (Taralidis) deserves some more special attention. The others are mediocre. In any case, none of them is good enough for our senior squad.

It's enough ? Not. I also need my assistant's opinion. I don't fully trust him, but he has pretty good skills and probably he can't go far wrong. I'll take into account his evaluations (senior squad / U19 squad), but I'll also take into account other aspects, such as for example the personality of the players (senior squad / U19 squad) and some of the less visible attributes (consistency, important matches). I can't post a screenshot because this info is not available in a single page, but I created a centralized file. By the way, are details such as consistency and important matches really important ? Maybe not, but Seb Wassell says they really are : "Consistency is a hidden attribute rated 1 to 20. It modifies how likely a player is to play "up to" his attributes (/CA) in any particular match. (...) Not exact figures: Consistency of 20 would mean that he is going to play to his best in perhaps 4/5 matches, Consistency of 1 might reduce this to 5% of matches, and so on." (source)

***

Transfers. We have over 140 players on scouting lists. Of these, almost 70 are willing to negotiate a possible transfer to Iraklis, and in the case of approximately half of them, their contracts will expire in June. It is therefore necessary to move quickly. I don't want to pay a lot of extra money.

*****

End of season in Europe :

European Cups / The most important domestic leagues / The most important domestic cups / European Championship 2028

Important competitions in Greece (League 1, League 2, League 3 Playoff, Greek Cup)

*****

A detail, perhaps not so interesting, but .... One of the players in our academy was poached by Aris. Surprisingly, however, this player does not seem to be a loss, one could even say that Aris did us a favor because this player seems to be really mediocre. I have to admit, at this moment my interest in our academy is low. We have no money to develop our facilities and, even if the academy can produc some good young players, they would not be able to develop as needed.

*****

September 26, 2029

Finances. As usual, our financial situation is bad. However, we can spend - for now - over 2,000,000 p/a on wages (and we actually spend about 1,200,000 p/a). But it's possible that, in the future, the Board will decide to reduce this budget, in which case I have to be very careful because all our players' contracts will expire in June 2030. It's necessary, therefore, that within two months I decide to which players I should offer a contract extension. Obviously, some of them will request significantly higher amounts than what they currently earn.

***

The staff. We have a good staff, among the best in the league. We also have a pretty good manager, who is nowhere near one of the best in the league (this is a confidential info, no one should know it)

***

Our Board is very cooperative. All they ask me is to "fight bravely against relegation", which should not be a very difficult task. According to the media prediction, we're somewhat better than in the previous season. In other words, last year our odds were 25/1, but now it's only 13/1. This, of course, does not mean that we have anything to do with the first places. The club's reputation remained about the same, that is, low, at least compared to that of other clubs in the league.

***

Transfers. We brought in 10 new players. The best ones we found (and who wanted to play for us). We lost 26 players (12 left for other clubs, the other 14 being either players who became free of contract, or young people from U19 that we gave up). What can I say about the 10 newcomers ? That they are very good, most of them being better than the best of those who left during the summer. Anyway, I think the comparison is edifying (the squad report, September vs May) :

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By the way, at this moment we have only 3 players (Ribeiro, Apostolidis and Gaitanidis) who were not born in Macedonia. The U19 squad is composed entirely of "Macedonians".

***

Everything looks great, but I have a problem. I mean, actually, two problems. First : this team will be difficult to manage because I was forced to promise them too much playing time. I have a lot of "regular starters" and, obviously, I don't have room for all of them in the first team. From this point of view, it will be more difficult than it was in the second part of last season, when we had very few players in the team who expected to play many games. The second problem : the team cohesion is low, and this will affect both the match performances and the some players' individual morale. However, I also have an advantage : the team now has fewer players likely to be affected by the lack of consistency or the fact that they are playing an important match.

***

Friendlies

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We met some difficult opponents, an idea which later turned out to be a rather risky. The positive aspect : we won some money (almost 20000) as a result of these friendlies. The negative aspect : I couldn't sufficiently check the roles and duties that suit the newcomers. I was forced to use them in a predefined scheme, which some of them did not really like. Also, because we used many newcomers, the team cohesion was mediocre. Generally speaking, the team played badly, sometimes very badly. Although we won against Panathinaikos, the result is a lie because PAO had enough chances to score at least 4-5 goals. As for the "glorious" victory at Trikala (a 2nd league team) ... the real situation on the pitch can be easily noted here. For now, we have a lot of troubles and I think that I should expect some "surprises" in the following matches. I hope I'm wrong...

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September - October 2029

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12 points out of 21. Not bad, but it could be better. We shouldn't have lost against Anagennisi, we deserved at least a draw. We shouldn't have missed the victory in those games played against Nestos and Kavala, in both games we had many chances to score. In compensation, those 6 points won in the last two games (against PAOK B and Veroia) are somewhat undeserved because both opponents played at least as well as us.

Our evolution in the Greek Cup is also worth noting, especially that game against Xanthi (a pretty good 1st league team)

First three matches played in September - October / Next three matches played in September - October / Last three matches played in September - October

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*****

November 2029

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Wow ! 12 points out of 12 ! It's starting to get interesting, especially because we humiliated the leader (Volos), right on their stadium. It's true, the score is much exaggerated because in the second half Volos crowded us in our box. But that allowed us to play (successfully) on the counterattack. Unfortunately, we were kicked out of the Greek Cup. PAS Giannina is much better than our previous opponent (Xanthi), or maybe PAS used more players from their best eleven than Xanthi.

Matches played in November

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*****

December 2029

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9 points out of 12, but in the first game we were very, very lucky. Trikala could easily score 4-5 goals.

Matches played in December

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We are in second place (that place that can qualify us for the promotion playoff), but the general situation is quite complicated. According to the teams' stats, regarding the attack, we are one of the best teams in the league. On the other hand, regarding the defense, we're only a "7th or 8th place" team. This means that if our attackers "forget" how to score, we'll not be able to keep this second place. For now, according to the players' stats, we have two very efficient strikers (Paliatsios and Gaitanidis). However, we don't have efficient enough attacking midfielders, and that is a problem.

***

As I expected, the fact that I promised too much playing time has negative effects. In October we have no unhappy players. In November we had 4, and in December we have 7. Too many, especially since two of them (Dimitriadis and Smyrlis) are "highly influential players" and the 3rd (Apostolidis) is "influential player". Of course, I'll have to get rid of some of these players.

***

Surprisingly, our U19 team continues to remain in the top of the best teams in the second youth league. Considering the fact that we have mediocre players, it turns out that, probably, there are very few very good players in this league. By the way, speaking of the U19 team : the youth intake preview is, as usual, optimistic. I have nothing to comment on, this preview offers too little useful information and, in addition, it's also extremely inaccurate.

***

I received an interesting job interview offer. It's the first time that a foreign team shows signs that it knows about the fact that manager John X really exists. It's true, the offer is not interesting at all (KV Kortrijk, 17th place in the Belgian first league), but, anyway, I think it's something worth mentioning.

*****

January 2030

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4 points out of 9. We didn't really deserve more because we're playing weaker and weaker. However, we're still in second place because the other top teams in the second league are not playing very well during this period either.

Matches played in January

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***

At the beginning of the year I decided to try to limit the effects of complacency, so I accepted the idea of changing the team's objective from "fight bravely against relegation" to "top-half finish". I was tempted to choose "in the top two league positions", but it seemed to me that it would have been very risky, because for such a thing we need high levels of the attributes "pressure" and "ambition", maybe also "professionalism". And we don't really have players having this kind of levels.

***

Finances. I'm not saying anything new : our financial situation is still bad. Low income, (very) high expenses. Fortunately, our Board continues to strongly support us (me). I hope that their support will last as long as possible.

***

Transfers. Seven of our players were loaned to other clubs (four of them being unhappy players from the senior squad and the other three being U19 players). I brought three players, one of them being an old acquaintance (Andi Shala) : he also played for Iraklis Abelokipon at the time when I managed that club.

Something about future transfers. Two more players will come to our club in the summer. No, they are not new players. Absolutely all the six U19 players who left us in the summer are willing to return to us. Something deeply unrealistic, but ... it's about FM. From these six I chose two, the ones who seem to me to have the best chances of becoming good players for the second league one day : Kikeridis and Rakavinas.

In fact, the two players who will come to us in the summer are not two, but three. The third is Stelios Mouroutis, a player who already plays for us, being on loan from Kallithea. Exactly after I accepted the Mouroutis's transfer I realized that I made a dumb mistake. I don't know why, it seemed to me that Kallithea is in Macedonia. It's not. It's a neighborhood of Athens, lol :idiot:. So, at the moment I have in my team three players born in Kallithea / Athens (Mouroutis, Xenopoulos and Konstantakopoulos). And I'll have to somehow get rid of all of these three players in the summer.

***

At this moment, the senior squad has become very spectacular from an aesthetic point of view, being full of players on loan from / other clubs. However, since I'm not a fan of abstract paintings, I'll use a version that doesn't look like a rainbow :

Sti0xOr.jpg

Although the assistant's report looks good, the team now being made up of many players who possess a sufficiently high level of speed, strength, ability to anticipate, determination, teamwork, work rate and countless other skills, the reality is a little different. The fact that we were able to bring these players (so they didn't reach teams from the 1st league) suggests that, nevertheless, they also have some problems somewhere. The trouble is that I have no idea where exactly.

In any case, I made sure that the team's morale is as positive as possible and also that the morale of the most important players is high. In order to avoid complaints regarding the contracts (and the possibility that the Board will reduce the funding) I hastened to offer new contracts to all players who seemed important to me. And exactly here I discovered something unpleasant : most of them did not ask for significant salary increases. Which means they don't really have ambition. And this doesn't sound good at all.

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February 2030

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8 points out of 15. It could have been even better, if we had managed to score at least one goal out of the three clear scoring chances we had in the game against Anagennisi. But it could have been worse because, after a very good first half with Panathinaikos B, we were one step away from being defeated in the last minutes of play. For now we're in second place and the team morale is good, but in the near future we'll have to play three very difficult games against Veroia (away), Volos (home) and Kallithea (away). If we'll be able to get at least 5 points in these three games then we really have a good chance to fight for promotion. If not ...

Matches played in February

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Edited by GreenTriangle
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March 2030

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Quote

(...) in the near future we'll have to play three very difficult games against Veroia (away), Volos (home) and Kallithea (away). If we'll be able to get at least 5 points in these three games then ...

Then ... we're only able to win one point. Game over. Goodbye, promotion, it was nice to to see you (somewhere far away from us).

Matches played in March

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***

Youth intake 2030. As usual, I would have been surprised if it were otherwise. So, at the declarative level, everything is wonderful : "a terrific group of players, it has potential to be a real golden generation for the club". In reality : one pretty good player (Touboulidis), about five mediocre and about ten useless ones.

How do I know they are useless ? Well, from the previous youth intakes. It doesn't necessarily mean that none of the mediocre ones (or even the useless ones) could have a good potential. But the chances that we can develop him to a level where he can play in the 2nd league are very low. Our training facilities are far too underdeveloped to do this. (By the way, do the reports on youth intake take into account the club's training facilities ?)

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*****

April - May 2030

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3 points out of 18... :(

First three matches played in April and May / Last three matches played in April and May

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So, we finished the competition in 9th place. A better ranking than some expectations (media prediction : 12th place) but much worse than it would have been normal after we were in the top 3 for about four months. Of course, everything it can be seen from another point of view : the competition was very balanced and, if we had got just a few more points, we could have even ranked 3rd. The teams' stats tell a similar story : in terms of attack we're a 3rd-5th place team, in terms of defense we're a 7th-9th place team. Pretty good, but I would have expected more.

***

Finances and miscellaneous. We didn't use up all the available wage budget, but even so, the club's financial situation is - as expected - bad. However, the Board is pleased ... for now.

Regarding salaries, now, unlike last year, we are in a much better situation. In terms of salary expenses we're a "mid-table team" and, even in the case of a possible budget reduction, the team will be stable enough because the contracts of most of the important players have already been extended until 2031.

***

As for manager John X (that's me) ... the man is progressing. That's a good thing. The less good thing is that he progresses very slowly and, for now, after 9 (virtual) years of his career, he cannot boast of any impressive performance :

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*****

Of course, I should start preparing for the next season, but there are two small problems related to the recently finished season :

The first problem : WHY ?

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The second problem : WHY ?

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Additional source

By the way, both "problems" can be checked in my previous posts. It would have been interesting if I didn't have to create these tables myself, so these statistics data would have been available in the game (FM). Unfortunately, they are not available. But are they really important ? From my point of view, they are.

***

So, the first problem. If at my previous club the results were very "stable" (the difference between the first and second half of the competition was very small), at Iraklis Salonika this difference is extremely large. And always in a negative sense, that is, the second half of the season is much weaker than the first. Why ? At first glance, it seems to be simple : Iraklis Abelokipon was a semi-pro club, Iraklis Salonika is (for the last 3 years) a professional club. So it would be something related to training and the players fatigue. Is that so ?

- Are my players very tired ? According to this table ... no, they aren't. (The screenshot refers to the situation on May 13, i.e. the day after the last match played in the league, when it is assumed that fatigue should have been at its maximum).

- Did I use certain players excessively and didn't ensure a sufficient rotation? According to this table ... no. Only 4 players played 30 or more games this season. (And, anyway, the question arises how the excessive fatigue of my players can be explained given that the AI is much less flexible when it comes to rotating its players).

- But maybe I did something that seriously displeased my players ? This was the team's morale situation on April 20, i.e. after the defeat against Kifisia (and 3 games before the end of the season). As for individual happiness ... the club was full of happy players. I suppose they had just won the Champions League and forgot to tell me this.

- However, our performances were getting weaker and weaker, which was reflected in the players' ratings. (This is the reason why I haven't posted the players' stats until now : to be obvious the drop in ratings in the last games). Maybe the players' opinions can suggest some explanations for this performance drop ? What do think eight important players who have had strong drops in form (and rating) in recent weeks ? Positive opinions, 45. Negative opinions, 0. That is, zero, none, nothing. 45-0. Does it have any logic?
By the way, some players think that (quote) "the club's league position has a lot to do with John X's influence". Should I assume that this statement is a swear word ? Or is't something good ?

- Is there anything that suggests an explanation ? Yes. This table. Countless players are very satisfied with the team's performance. What does this table suggest to me?
1. Complacency is extremely strong in FM. Much stronger than IRL
2. The presentation of the players' personality in FM does not provide enough information to be able to accurately assess the risk of complacency.
3. I did not make serious mistakes regarding the use of players. Our problems come from a completely different source.

*****

The second problem.

So, we shot more than our opponents. I had more shots on target, more xG, more scoring chances. And yet, in the last 12 games we have conceded 20 goals and scored only 9. How is that possible?

- the question can be asked if I really used some goalkeepers. Because the huge number of goals conceded would suggest that I didn't do it. Well (and surprisingly), yes, I used goalkeepers ! They didnt play very good, but that does not explain the avalanche of goals we conceded. And it also doesn't explain my strikers ineffectiveness either.

- just like "problem one", problem two cannot be explained by fatigue, insufficient rotation of the players or low morale. The proof has already been done for problem one and it's also valid for problem two.

Moreover, in the case of problem two, not even complacency offers a convincing explanation. No matter how complacent the players are, they simply cannot forget how to play football. Of course, a series of weaker games is possible and explainable, but not a complete collapse. IRL, the only situation when such a thing can be reached is when the players are involved in a major conflict (disagreements with management, non-payment of salaries or serious personal conflicts). None of this happened.

So, in conclusion : I don't think I made such big mistakes as to be the cause of such a collapse. Honestly, I think there can be only one explanation : somewhere, in the game (FM), there is a trigger. It does not mean that this trigger decides to lose one match, two or twenty, but that this trigger somehow reduces the effectiveness of a tactical configuration. Since the beginning of this career I have used 7 different positional combinations, plus some intermediate ones (MR-AML or AL-AMR). But, at the same time, I used instructions based on a single template, gegenpress (yes, it's over-powered). Of course, over time I modified some instructions depending on players, opponent and match context, but the core of the configuration remained the same. No, I don't think that the game "knows what tactics I use", but it probably knows that I rely on a same template and, in addition, it can "read" the table and media prediction. So, I have nothing else to do but to create some tactical configurations that are not very similar to gegenpress but at the same time are sufficiently effective. I'm not convinced that I can do it, but at least I can try.

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End of season in Europe :

European Cups / The most important domestic leagues / The most important domestic cups / World Cup 2030 (and the most surprising results in the group stage)

Important competitions in Greece (League 1, League 2, League 3 Playoff, Greek Cup)

*****

As I said, this season I intend to check how the game (FM) reacts to significant changes in the tactical configuration. So I'll modify not only the positional configuration, roles and duties, as I have done so far, but also the templates used. So far (in the 9 seasons I've played) I've only used gegenpress, modifying when needed only one, two or (rarely) three instructions. Now I'll replace one entire template with another (and I'll use gegenpress from time to time only).
To begin with, I'll specify that I use two tables that include the main characteristics of the different roles and duties, respectively of the different templates. Also, I'll not use all the existing templates, but only 4 (according to this table), those that contain sets of instructions that I think are appropriate for the players I have. I'll therefore use the "control possession", "gegenpress", "direct counter-attack" and "fluid counter-attack" templates. Of course, during the season I'll modify certain instructions if I find that they are inadequate.

*****

June - September 2030

Our U19 team won (again) the "North" group of the 2nd league. Moreover, it also won the final of this league. Apparently, this team is full of talented and valuable youngsters. In reality, it's full of 3rd league players, i.e. players who will never be useful for us.

***

Since in the recently finished season we didn't get any significant performance, and since the Board decided to significantly reduce the wage budget (from 2,000,000 p/a to 110,000 p/m, i.e. 1,300,000 p/a) I decided to not spend the club's limited financial resources for players who either ask for very high salary increases, or do not have the minimum necessary abilities, or are of a certain age and it's improbable that they'll be able to keep their current abilities.

As a result of this approach, we lost no less than 20 players (6 transferred to other clubs and 14 free of contract). In the "new players" chapter, we brought four players, but only one of them (Barbas) is really "new", the others being either players who played in our U19 team until last year (Kikeridis, Rakavinas), or players who had already been loaned to us during the season previous (Mouroutis).

Also as a result of this approach, I found that on July 1 there were only 26 players at the club (20 in the senior squad and 6 in the U19 squad). 20 players seem to be enough, but, according to the assistant's report, their positional distribution was not appropriate at all. At that moment we had enough (even too many) central players, but we also definitely needed additional defenders and midfielders on the flanks. A positive aspect was related to the fact that, after the departure of so many players, salary expenses had decreased significantly (from 110,000 p/m to 67,000 p/m). We had almost 140 players on the scouting lists, of which approximately half were willing to discuss a possible transfer to us.

*****

September 24 (the day before our first official game this season)

We brought in five new players. Unfortunately, the left flank remained a bit exposed, but there's nothing I can do. It seems that all the good players who can play there have talked to each other to transfer anywhere, but not at Iraklis. In addition, one of our "famous" :seagull: youngsters, Kikeridis, played so badly during friendlies (and complained so much that he wants to leave on loan) that I decided he would be useless for us, which is why I agreed to be loaned to a 4th league club.

Newly arrived players' profiles : Barbas, Rakavinas, Kikeridis / Kostoglidis, Apostolopoulos (both being defenders) / Koutsias, Bozinis, Tsivginidis (midfielders).

The squad :

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We still have 4 players who were not born in Macedonia, i.e. Ribeiro and the three Athenians (those born in Kallithea), but I am not so suicidal as to give them up because, according to the assistant's report, the team is already weaker than it was in the previous season.

***

From other points of view, the situation is very similar to that of the previous season : the media prediction considers us the 12th favorite (almost the same as last season), although now our odds are worse (20-1 compared to 13-1). The Board only asks me to avoid relegation and the club's reputation has remained almost as low as it was (however, we have moved up one place, we are the club with the 11th reputation in the second league). As for our staff... they are good, maybe some of the best in the league.

***

Financed. As usual: negative balance, huge debts, high expenditure, low income. The Board helps us as it can, but its help is insufficient.

***

Friendlies. The team plays quite well (better than I expected) and its morale is quite good. I would have preferred it to be even better, but...

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*****

September - October 2030

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First three matches played in September - October / Last five matches played in September - October

At the end of September, the press officer drew my attention to two mentions in the mass-media, namely that Iraklis has not scored a single goal the last 6 games and has not won any of the last 9 games. Of course, I knew that. But I also knew that in the last 6 games Iraklis had 91 shots (23 on target) and that it had more than 7 xG. That we didn't score any goal ? It's about FM. In fact, this series was extended in October as well, the first game ending with 0 - 0 even though we had 16 shots (10 on target).

Then ... boom ! Instantly we became an efficient team : 9 points out of 15, no less than 9 goals scored, only 5 conceded. How, why? Mystery ! The forces of darkness and their evil influences were defeated by the forces of light. I didn't change anything, but it turns out that in FM you don't even have to change anything. It's enough to pray to the positive forces to protect you.

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***

And, as a variation: prayers to the positive forces seem to be effective not only in terms of results, but also in the managerial career. A French 1st league club offered me an interview, plus a long list of reasons why they like me. However, the positive forces decided not to be excessively positive, since it was about the last ranked team.

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November 2030

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7 points out of 15. We were lucky in the game against Xanthi, but we probably deserved more than zero points in the next two games.

Matches played in November

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*****

December 2030

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A point. Only one. I can't complain, the team plays poorly. In fact, in the 3 games, we played really well for only 45 minutes (the second half of the game against Kavala).
Unfortunately, I experienced one of the most humiliating defeats in my managerial career. We were clearly defeated by Ergotelis, a team that, before this game, had barely managed to win 2 points out of 42 and score only 5 goals. It's true, before this game, the Ergotelis' manager had been fired, the team being temporarily taken over by the former assistant manager. Probably the morale of their players was much better now than in the previous days, but that does not excuse our catastrophic "performance".

Matches played in December

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According to the player stats, most of the players in our defensive compartment performed well. The (only) 14 goals conceded seem to confirm this assessment. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about the offensive department. Unfortunately, the problem here comes from the difficulty of choosing the appropriate roles and duties for each player in relation to the team's tactical configuration. Even so, the attack somehow manages to work quite well, probably due to the fact that our many of our players have very good skills (compared to those of other players in the league)
Team stats - attack. Team stats - defense

***

My team's morale has been deteriorating for the last two months, and now it has reached directly into the "red zone". It's interesting that the main reason for this low morale is not "we were humiliated by a team ranked last in the table". No, this is not a serious reason. Instead, our problems are that "we have 3 unhappy players" and, above all, that "there are many contrasting personalities". I suppose that for about three months my players had no idea how contrasting their personalities are. Then, instantly, they realized that they don't fit at all. I, being naive, thought that such an explanation could only be valid for newly married couples ...

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January 2031

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Only 3 points out of 12. We played a bit better than we did it last month, but it seems that the "4-3-3 wide" configuration is not exactly what we need. I wasn't able to find the roles and duties appropriate to the instructions and the players we have. Since the team's reached a dangerously low level, a team meeting was necessary. I hope it will have a positive effect.

Matches played in January

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The transfer window closed on January 31. We didn't bring any new player and, fortunately for us, no one left. Our only activities on the transfer market were 4 future "transfer halves". That is, we signed contracts with 4 players who were already playing for us, being loaned from other clubs. There was no point in paying a transfer fee, no matter how small it was, so we didn't insist on an immediate transfer. All four will be 100% our players starting July 1. Our squad on February 1 :

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An interesting detail : in media prediction our odds are now somewhat better (from 20-1 to 16-1). Which means, probably, that some of the teams in the 2nd league lost important players during the last month. Probably this aspect will help us a little, although it is clear that, if we want better results, we must play better and not rely on the possibility that the opponents have weaker teams now.

***

Finances : as before, we spend a lot and our debts grow more and more. Fortunately, the Board is (still) patient and supports us as much as it can.

*****

February 2031

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Well, yes, it's much better now : 8 points out of 12. We were lucky in the last game, but even so, the team's play seems to have been much improved by the new configuration used (4-4-1-1). By the way, I chose this configuration not because of my great managerial skills, but because the most important players of the team had a high familiarity with this configuration.

Matches played in February

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Something very strange happened : at the beginning of the month the Board was being pleased with the way I lead the team. Then, on February 8, we achieved a very good result, 1-0 against Levadeiakos (leader of the 2nd league). I thought that this result would improve my image in relation to the Board. Wrong ! The next day I noticed that my rating dropped from C+ to C and that the Board is no longer pleased but only "satisfied". Should I assume that we made a mistake by defeating the leader of the 2nd league ?

*****

March 2031

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Yes, that 0 - 5 in the first two games was not very fun, but, overall, the 7 points we got this month are satisfactory enough, especially considering that we almost reached our objective, that is, we practically avoided to be relegated. Of course, there are still 6 rounds to play, but it is hard to believe that a difference of 11 points would not be big enough.

Matches played in March

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Great news ! For the first time after 9 months, our players' morale is no longer affected by the fact that "there are too many contrasting personalities throughout the club". So, there are no more unsuitable personalities, which means, probably, that there will be no divorces at our club in the near future. But wait, now we have another serious problem : "we have too many nationalities across the club". Honestly, I have no idea if the mismatch due to nationality is a reason for divorce. But I know for sure that there are just two foreigners at our club. Ribeiro, the right back ... and me, the manager. We also have two Albanians, but both were born in Greece and both have dual nationality, Albanian and Greek. Honestly, I don't really understand this problem.

***

Youth intake 2031. As usual : "excellent, terrific, golden generation". I sincerely appreciate my assistant. He tells interesting stories and, if he started writing, he would have a serious chance of winning the big prize in any fiction contest. As a personal opinion, we received some pretty good youngsters, it's even possible that three of four of them will end up in our senior squad one day. On the bench only, of course, because I don't think any of them have even the slightest chance of becoming a player in our first eleven.

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Thank you. Hatzipanagis was an exceptional player. Unfortunately, he was not lucky enough to be known in Europe as he would have deserved.

**********

April - May 2031

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11 points out of 18. Not bad. We managed to rank 8th, which is quite good after a rather bad first half of the season. Of course, an 8th place is a reasonable, but not a remarkable performance ...  especially since even the AI was capable to get a better performance (3rd place) than the current manager.

First three matches played / Last three matches played

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Player stats are quite useful, especially when it comes to deciding which players deserve to be offered a contract extension and which ones should be given "the chance to play for other clubs". Regarding the team statistics, 6 all over. That means we are in 6th place from all points of view, both in terms of defense and attack.

***

Good news : for the first time after countless (more precisely, four) seasons in which the team played well in the first half of the season and badly in the second half, now the ratio has reversed. We played better during the spring than during the fall. But any good news must necessarily be accompanied by bad news. This is the first season in which we've had serious difficulties in winning matches played on our stadium. Until now, we were winning quite easily at home and were struggling away.

What does this means ? It means something rather unpleasant. That I'll have to develop a tactical configuration (or more) for the matches played at home and one (or more), different from the first one, for the matches played away. In addition, we possibly need an adequate configuration for the games against any team that have not beaten anyone so far, but will certainly beat us. I'm already tired even before starting to develop these countless configurations ...

***

The club's reputation has increased a little during the last year. Now we're the 10th club in the second league and the 25th in Greece. At the European level, I have no idea and I'm not even interested. It would be far too depressing.

***

Finances. For unclear and unknown reasons, our Board decided to give me another chance. That is, he decided to increase the wage budget from 110,000 p/m (about 1,300,000 p/a) to no less than 180,000 p/m (2,150,000 p/a). This would allow us to increase the salaries we can offer to a level similar with that of the best teams in the league. Beautiful and interesting, only that, unfortunately, I saw this movie two years ago. The chances of being able to fight with the "bad boys" of the 2nd league are very small, no matter how much money we have on paper. However, there would be one more detail : the president (or chairman or whatever else he is) decided to sell the club in the future. This thing can happen at any time, and it's not known if the new president will be as willing to finance the huge deficits that the manager (myself) generates every year. As a result, I should try to achieve a remarkable performance this season. If not a promotion, then at least a 3rd place. But since I'm not a very good manager, I'll temporarily give up the rule regarding transfers. I'll be allowed to transfer any kind of players, including foreigners, with the only condition that they can be evaluated by our scouts. I'll not bring a player that the scouts cannot watch.

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