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[FM23] Golden generations are passé - we only deal in diamonds. Club & country (eventually) in Antwerp.


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After the longest break I have had away from FM in as long as I can remember, I am finally back with my first save of FM23, a full 3 months after release! So Belgium has been on my list for the past few editions but did not manage to make it there - I thought I will begin my '23 adventure there.

I fired up the save and holidayed until the current IRL date i.e. 30th Jan - and saw one rather "large-ish" Belgian club struggling in the bottom half of the league - Royal Antwerp. Started reading a little bit about the club and the city, and the more I read, the more hooked I got. Having been to Antwerp a few years ago on a short visit further vetted my appetite. 

A very interesting city - Antwerp is in fact the 2nd largest in Belgium after Brussels. It's probably most famous for being the epicenter of the global diamond trade (hence the topic name). In fact the diamond trade in Antwerp is run primarily by Indian families and I myself know a few people from thereabouts. Beyond that, Antwerp is a truly diverse city and a melting pot of cultures - hopefully the football team will also follow suit.

Now coming to the club, Royal Antwerp really should have done a lot better than they have IRL. Despite being one of the larger and best supported clubs in the country, they have actually not won the league title since 1957. This is all the more surprising given that Belgium is a fairly competitive league that has seen multiple winners in the last couple of decades - Club Brugge, Anderlecht, Genk, Gent, Standard Liege. In fact the only side really missing from the list is Antwerp. 

In terms of fan base, the club is indeed well supported being the largest from the city and sells out the 16k cap Bosuilstadion on a fairly regular basis. Antwerp has a local rivalry with Beerschot but more exciting are the competitive rivalries with Club Brugge & Anderlecht. Also fun fact - Antwerp is called the "Great Old" by virtue of being the oldest club in Belgium - props for the creative nick-name!

And so, in the words of Fabrizio Romano, here we go!



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So for this save I will be donning the hat of ex Spurs player and Belgian international Mousa Dembele, who was actually born in Antwerp but never played for them.


Media prediction was 3rd but the club finds themselves in 13th place (in an 18 team league) at the time of the change. Also what will be an interesting dynamic is the financial side of the save - like Anderlecht who's financial struggles have been well-documented, Antwerp is also caught in a bad debt spiral with no end in sight. 


Managing, and getting out of this somehow, will be key. I think we will have to rely on two things to achieve this - qualifying for Europe regularly, and player sales. My aim is to make Antwerp sort of a conveyor belt of young talent which we scout globally and then sell for large sums to other European clubs. We already have a few good young players on the books so it's a promising start in that regard.

Also we are still in the Belgian Cup and indeed in the semi finals where we face Anderlecht - so this gives us something exciting nice and early to focus on.

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First order of business was actually to worsen the bank balance of the club by sacking Marc Overmars who was on a hefty contract.


Can't understand what they were thinking when they signed him. In fact, IRL some of the club's sponsors walked due to this controversial appointment.

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Before starting this thread I had already finished the first season so updates will be relatively quick.. first a focus on the Belgian Cup.

We managed a hard fought 0-0 draw away at Anderlecht in Mousa's first game officially in charge of the club. It was all to play for in the 2nd leg and this is how it turned out.


I feared the worst when we had missed a string of chances and ended up going behind to a set piece goal. However, we fought back to grab a deserved win, with substitute striker Michael Frey grabbing a late winner. And so this set up a final against the league leaders AA Gent.

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And now for the Cup Final


The official team sheets - we have pretty much our best XI out.


A dream start as our assist machine Calvin Stengs sets up Gerkens for the opener!


And that man Stengs wasn't done yet, this time he created a goal for Balikwisha to finish off and put us 2-0 ahead!


I was pinching myself by this stage! Yusuf with the long range stunner to give us a strong 3-0 lead going into HT.


Gent came out much stronger in the 2nd period and pulled one back in the 70th minute.


A second goal conceded in the 82nd from a corner left me wondering if we had made a mistake in going defensive... however, we just about managed to hold on



A much deserved win in the end. And so the first piece of silverware is already in the bag! 

Even better result of this win is qualifying for the Europa league, which was always going to be tough from our league finish. 

Turns out you can take Spurs out of the man - just gotta wait for him to retire :lol: and not just Dembele, it's also Toby Alderweireld's first piece of silverware since joining Spurs back in 2014

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