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Many playerš, much šquad depth


turnip
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Massive database and a bunch of leagues (read: all of them) on View-Only to start with except Portugal, where I decided to start.
I'd love to say I looked around and found a cool team to take over and then and then and then... but I didn't. I'd heard Lusitãnia Lourosa have a Sugar Daddy and the fact they have decent facilities made my mind up for me.

Season 1: Lusitãnia Lourosa, Portugal, Campionata Nacional Prio
A few loanees came in as important signings and once the owner chipped in with a few (million) quid, I splashed out. £25k in transfer outlay by Christmas turned into £360k in total by the end of February. Money well spent?
League:
P:26  W:22  D:3  L:1  GD:+35  Pos:1st   We also won the championship tie.  So yeah, money well spent.
We did nothing in the cups, which I was fine with.

Having spent the first half of the season bringing in foreign players to improve the team, I spent the second half of the season bringing in Portuguese-trained players to meet the league requirements and still be good. 
Our best player was Tassiano, a Brazilian man mountain of a Target Forward who got 23 league goals. We also picked up a cheap Malian DC who looks good and a solid Senegalese MC. I managed to persuade the owner to upgrade Youth Facilities and Junior Coaching at the end of the season. 

Players signed: 25

 


Season 2: Lusitãnia Lourosa, Portugal, Liga 3
Going through contracts at the end of the year, I was astonished to find this kid , who'd been playing for our U-19-B team for the season and gone from a "yeah, he could be good in the future" to "yeah, he's pretty good now". 
I did my usual rummage through the bins and found a Spanish U18 outcast DC from Barcelona and a German U18 ST  from Unterhaching. We also picked up a bunch of other homegrown players. I supplemented these with a few other signings as the season progressed - the best probably being a Montenegrin playmaker who'd been without a club since the summer. 
League:
P:18  W:14  D:1  L:3  GD:+18  Pos:1st
 As with last season, we won the Promotion mini-league (despite some quite tricky games) and then Sporting's B team had two players sent off and we walked the championship tie.

Cups were forgettable.

Around Christmas, we 180'd on tactics, pivoting away from hoofball towards something more possession-oriented. But with Tassiano still up front; so not completely away from hoofball. Speaking of the telegraph pole, after scoring 27 goals in 26 appearances this season, he left at the end of his contract. He'd originally done the "I'm going to be exploring my options" fandango, only to transition into the "I really want to stay at the club" twerk once we secured promotion; but while there may be a pair of delightfully-proportioned buttocks in the world worth spending £8.5k p/w on, Tassiano isn't in possession of them. Our Malian DC wanted a new contract, in contrast, but also was happy with £750 p/w and resigned with no fuss. There's a lesson there. (He also got his first senior cap in the summer). He had a really good season.

So did quite a few of our players, to be fair, but we'll have a bit of a cull in the summer and try to get some of our players out on loan for development.

Youth Intake initially looked like trash; a second glance was a bit better, but still a wet fart after the improvements we've spent a lot of money on. 

Players signed: 25

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  • turnip changed the title to [FM23] Many players much squad depth
  • 1 month later...

Season 3: Lusitãnia Lourosa, Portugal, Liga Portugal 2 SABSEG
Ah, the second tier. Where I don't need to spend 5 minutes finding enough Home-Grown players for the match squad every time we play.
I immediately took advantage, signing some young Senegalese players - a DL on a free and an MC for £60k up-front, along with a striker to fill the man-mountain-sized hole in our lives vacated by Tassiano. With the transfer window closing, we also signed a really good MC from Sporting for £325k.

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We did sell a couple of players: our German ST for £250k to Bayern and our promising home-grown ST to Udinese for £250k+, but both deals also involved them spending the season on loan with us. 

League:
P:34  W:25  D:8  L:1  GD:+39  Pos:1st   
A tougher season in all, although the numbers don't really bear that out. The Goal Difference looks like a bunch of blow-outs, but we tended to get the first goal and then rack 'em up once the opposition started pushing forward.
Cups sucked ass.  

The German was top scorer with 19 goals (not bad for free) while Traore got 14. Our Montenegrin playmaker crafted 15 Assists (he's got a £300k MRFC for clubs in higher divisions, so I spent most of the season worried he'd get poached). The Goals and Assists were generally spread around otherwise. We've started signing cheap young players to fill out our U-19s team; the plan is that some of these will just be to develop and sell on, but who knows - if some of them come good it's a bonus to the team. 
Youth Intake was a bit meh, with just a forward (with crap Determination) and a two-footed DM actually looking decent. 

Players signed: 23

 

 

Season 4: Lusitãnia Lourosa, Portugal, Liga Portugal Bwin
We had a mini-clearout of chaff. Last year's GK , one of our rotational STs and a backup DC were moved on for modest 6-figure sums. The Montenegrin playmaker went to Milan (lol) and our Saffer attacking midfielder kicked up a massive fuss over us rejecting a ****-poor bid from Bologna and I ended up shovelling him out the door, probably for a lot less than we could have got. In January, we sold our previously-first choice DR, Southampton signed a Danish youngster for [a fee] plus 50% of next sale. We also sent a bunch of kids out on loan.

Our first signing of the summer was probably our best - an Australian international DC for £1.2m who was labelled a Wonderkid shortly after the season started. Bayern decided to let us take the German ST back on loan again, although we had to pay some of his wages this season (boo). Other important signings were a DR from Alverca and a GK from Bayern. On deadline day, one of the agent offers we received was for an 18-year old Cameroonian MC who was both free and very good. 
We had an excellent January transfer window, bringing in some great signings alongside winning all of our games in the month. Aaaaand then I accidentally saved over the file, and the second time around things were a bit more Lidl than Waitrose. We did sign a free Argentinian striker who some big English teams were after, that one Thai striker who's good at the start of the save and - to keep him company - a Thai defender (on loan, to sign permanently in the summer). Add in my usual few dozen youngsters and that was that.

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League:
P:34  W:19  D:7  L:8  GD:+25  Pos:4th
A very good season, albeit one where we were excellent at Home and pretty ordinary Away. We ran up some big wins, but as with last season, this was typically getting the first goal and then bagging a few more on the counter. We also got outplayed in a lot of games. We grabbed some good wins, though, including a 3-2(H) against Porto and a 4-2(H) against Benfica with the end of the season nigh.
On the last day of the season, we were in 3rd, knowing that a better result than Braga would see us keep that spot. We didn't. We lost to 17th-placed (and relegated at the end of the game) Gil Vicente, while Braga drew with Estoril Praia and finished above us on Goal Difference; they get Champions League and we get Europa League. 
We lost in the first round of the Allianz Cup. In the Taca de Portugal, we actually beat Porto on our way to a 6th Round defeat to Sporting. 

The Aussie DC came in with a MFRC of £2.5m so he got a new contract halfway through the season, raising his MFRC to £37m. The German ST was top-scorer again - I'm not sure he'll ever be good enough for Bayern, but we definitely can't afford him right now. Traore had another good season, but when he does nothing, he does nothing. Assists were spread around. Amusingly the highest average rating was for a GK I brought in as Emergency Backup when we had injuries to our best 2; he got 7.68 in his 5 matches. 
We need to strengthen in defence - I suspect Knight will be off and our Malian stalwart's time is up. I also need a new tactic.

Youth Intake:
For the first time this save, something worth its own paragraph. The preview was promising; the reality... held up pretty well.

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Spoiler

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I'm going to try training Suarez as a Libero - if he's got the potential I'm hoping he has, he could be great. Rebelo is learning all about the Segundo Volante - same deal with his potential. 
Players signed: 39

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Season 5: Lusitãnia Lourosa, Portugal, Liga Portugal Bwin

July-August 2026

Transfers

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We spent the entire transfer window waiting for the penny to drop with Jordan Knight, only for his MFRC to be activated with a few days of the window left. Fair enough, though; £37m is a pretty hefty chunk of change, especially for a middling team like The Tottenham Hotspurs. 

The loss of Xavier was worse. Mostly because it was my own fault. I'd forgotten his £3.9m MRFC until I saw teams were sniffing around on deadline day. I hurried to offer him a new contract and was glad to see the date tick over, only to find out that - for some ****ing reason - every major league's transfer window shuts a day after the one in Portugal. I guess the spice must flow. Faced with losing him for a pittance, I accepted a £2.9m + 50% ONS + a year on loan for free. 

That's a lot of players out on loan, by the way. I think it's 55 in total. 

While we waited to see if we'd need a new DC, I scouted a little bit. Henry Vargas was my eventual choice - although he's not quite ready to replace him. Ahmad Mozafari is actually his replacement (there's another Iranian on the list (Ali Izadi) - I agreed to sign Mozafari in January and only after he joined did I remember I'd promised to sign someone to 'help him settle'. Oops). I quite enjoy the Agent Offers section of Deadline Day - it's basically like browsing the world's best thrift shop; I found Godfrey Mfaume and Mohamed Dahab Yahia Mamoud Ishaq that way. I can't claim that either were scouted quite as thoroughly as I told the press, but I'm sure you can keep a secret. By the way, the £10k fees you see next to some players occur when I could get a player for Free, but I feel bad for just outright stealing them. A token gesture. A nominal fee. A sorry-not-sorry in cash monies form. 

On the other end of the price scale, Francisco Marques was brought in to help us in midfield and looks grand, Javier Pereira provides reinforcement a little further up the pitch and Pogiso Mari is an odds-and-sods forward who should develop quite a bit (according to my scouts and coaches). 

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Fixtures

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I'd like to claim 'job done' in regards to Europe, but the board want knockouts. And since we seem to have been shafted out of our Europa League spot (not sure why), I guess I have little choice but to take it seriously. More seriously than either Fenerbahçe or Servette took it, anyway. 

In the league, we've had to suffer through. We don't have a competitive Second XI yet, and some of our players - particularly Diouck - cannot handle two games in a week. Honestly, I'm hoping we get some easy ties so I can send the kids and have a weekend of focussing on the league.  Never mind, I just saw the matches - Young Boys, Zalgiris Vilnius, Shkendiya, Maccabi Haifa, Derry City, Apollon Limassol. Without wanting to jinx the team, I think that's 4 matches we can send the kids to. 

Edited by turnip
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Season 5: Lusitãnia Lourosa, Portugal, Liga Portugal Bwin

September - October

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We've had to get good at scoring late goals in the last couple of months. We've scored winners at 83 (Braga), 90+1 (Benfica), 90+2 (Young Boys) and 90+3 (Žalgiris). I usually play with Instant Result, but having sent the kids to play Žalgiris, I thought I should manage it myself. I nearly had an aneurysm before our eventual 2-2-2-2-2 formation saw the Thai striker get through on goal to slot past the keeper with 5 seconds of time remaining. I'm still playing the kids against Shkëndija, though. :kriss: 

We actually outplayed Benfica and deserved the win, although not as much as they outplayed us and deserved the win in the Allianz Cup. 

 

Random Player showcase:

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We picked Rios up on a free from a club in the Spanish U19 league in January. Half a season using our (by now) good facilities and he was good enough for Eibar to take on loan as an Important Player. Good performances, too, with Eibar 2nd in LaLiga SmartBank after 11 matches. We've got quite a few options for DR (just as well with Xavier leaving at the end of the season), and if he keeps developing he might get the spot. 

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I have just started in the Portuguese Championship (Group A) with Merelinense. 
 

I have inherited a pretty good squad who already have some players on loan who are quality for the level. Along with some free transfers I have managed to put together a squad which should be challenging. 
 

Am just waiting for some scout information to get some extra bodies in on loan, hopefully without paying wages. I’m planning to increase my scouts and focus in on end of contracts/loans for the future. 

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Good luck with your save, @collisonmullan

 

Season 5: Lusitãnia Lourosa, Portugal, Liga Portugal Bwin

November - December

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A fairly straightforward - if busy - couple of months. We've struggled to really put teams away, but a combination of decent defending and our Thai striker being on good form has meant it hasn't really mattered. The rest of the team has chipped in with goals, with Traore getting a hattrick against Shkëndija. I ended up sending a blended squad to Israel with the game against a pretty good Portimonense side imminent and it paid off. 

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We finished top of the League Phase in Europe by one goal. Kinda meaningless, but a bit of extra cash is nice. Less nice was the board and players acting like complete morons when we dared lose in the Taça de Portugal Placard. The board had a bit of a tantrum, and feeling emboldened by this, so did the players:

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What's the Portuguese for "go stick your testicles in a blender you ****ing lobotomites"?

Youth Intake preview

Spoiler

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Random Player Showcase

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Another player who, like Rios before him, we snapped up from the Spanish U19 leagues on a free. My scouts really didn't like him at first, but he's developed well and even if I'm not convinced the 4+1* potential is accurate, I think there's a very good playmaker in the making.

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Season 5: Lusitãnia Lourosa, Portugal, Liga Portugal Bwin

January

First up, the transfer window.

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The ever-beloved Promise module within FM had a 50% success rate this month. Wichai Wongsrikaew had a tantrum because I wasn't playing him as a Central Defender, and I wasn't, because the dude has 8 Jumping Reach. He requested a transfer, so I've sent him to Hoffenheim for a few months. Hopefully he'll have chilled out by the time he comes back.

Ahmad Mozafari also had a tantrum because I wasn't playing him as a Ball-Playing Defender, except I was. Unlike Wongsrikaew, though, Ahmad is actually a very important player for our team - much more so, since my scouts were unable to find anyone I could replace him with if I needed to. He's spent the month off doing Asian Cup things, but hasn't really calmed down. He's not going anywhere, regardless. 

Ronaldo was my 2nd-choice ST last season, but the only competitive goals he scored this season were both in our 4-0 win over Nacional. A couple of teams came in for him and off he went. 

We signed 13 players. A DR came in to provide competition for whoever wants to take Xavier's spot next season. A couple of DCs came in for small sums - one from Nigeria, one from Bolivia - to provide some depth for our U23s. We raided the Spanish U19 leagues again and this time also picked up a youngster from a French National-3 team. Then there was the bigger stuff. Billy Stenberg was someone my scouts had been raving about for a couple of seasons. I've played FM long enough to know to pay attention when a player from [cracks knuckles] Brommapojkarna is recommended, so after 4 reports in total I decided they weren't yanking my chain and I pulled the trigger: Breakthrough Prospect, I just need to find game time for him. 

I'd scouted quite heavily (for me) specifically for a striker and Nahuel Ghisleni was the best candidate I found. He's listed as a Winger, but with teams sniffing around Traore, our Thai striker and Ronaldo, I wanted another option up front. 

And then there's Shady Masoud... Another player I'd been aware of for a while but had been put off by the high price and even higher wages. BUT, I'd identified that 'lack of goals' was the biggest concern (for me, at least) and Masoud was the option available who looked like he could contribute the most to that area of our game. The £10.75m fee was his MFRC and they weren't budging on that, and we had to haggle pretty hard on the wages because I almost threw up when I saw his demands. And then, after we'd actually agreed on the deal, I spent about an hour of real-life time mulling over whether to accept or cancel. I still feel a bit sick just thinking about it.

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Fixtures

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Shady Masoud had a debut to remember, with a goal and assist against Porto, and then did sweet FA for the rest of the month. We then re-engaged 'desperate final minute goals' mode to squeak through against Académico de Viseu. 

The game against Nacional (rock-bottom of the league) looks comprehensive, but all the goals came in the last 22 minutes. Seems redundant to say it was a good month in the league, but it was. We're top of the league with a game in hand over Benfica. 

 

Random Player Showcase:

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Guillermo was someone my scouts recommended a couple of times, but he'd moved from a 4th tier team to a 2nd tier team and then spent a year doing nothing with them before I decided my scouts might be on to something and we spent £200k to get him. He was on loan back in the 4th tier last season, and this season he's in the 2nd tier. His perceived PA has steadily moved up over time and now he looks like he could be really good. 

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Season 5: Lusitãnia Lourosa, Portugal, Liga Portugal Bwin

February - March

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A couple of months that felt pretty hectic. We've alternated between being excellent and incredibly mediocre. We thoroughly deserved the wins against Benfica, Rio Ave, Moreirense and Vålerenga, but were lucky to get anything from the games against Portimonense, Estoril Praia, Maritimo and Boavista (this one had me shrieking the most at my monitor). We should have lost to Braga by a lot more. 

In fairness, we struggled with players being unavailable through Asian Cup or injuries (if we can call a cold or the flu as an injury). We very much had to put out weaker teams against Vålerenga to accommodate the big games against Benfica and Braga, but it didn't cost us in Europe. 

A large part of the success we had in the period is due to our talismanic skyscraper forward Mor Talla Traore, who stepped up to the plate with some terrific form at a time when our Thai striker wasn't available. 

Squeaky bum time awaits

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Spoiler

Esteban Arias is a Costa Rican triallist we've got at the squad. I wonder if him being with us is why he made the NXGN list - I've never seen an Unattached player on the list before. We're trying to sign him, too. 

Youth Intake

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A Preview that promised much and an Intake that delivered. 

The CA stars don't look quite as impressive as they might, but - genuinely - Shady Masoud is distorting that for everyone. We ended up signing all but I think 4 players. Shout out to Umaro Mané, who has quite possibly the worst set of physical attributes I've ever seen on a newgen at a professional club; I signed him, because he'll make games of piggy-in-the-middle easier for everyone, and you just can't buy that sort of utility these days.

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Random Player Showcase

Albert Bucur - 2nd on the NXGN list - has been with us for a while now. We signed him when he was 16 from a team in the Romania Youth League on the back of him appearing in the Romanian U-18/9 side, and he's now 19. As you can tell, we've put a lot of work into his physicals over the last 3 years and he's now probably our 3rd choice DC. Ideally, I'd like him to have his physicals improve a bit more but I can live with them as they are; my coaches all think he's still got significant room to improve and I'd like to see that improvement coming through in his technical attributes. If he can develop those a bit more I think he could be a really good player. 

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Season 5: Lusitãnia Lourosa, Portugal, Liga Portugal Bwin

April - May

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Rangers were too good for us in Europe. They're too good in FM generally, but eh. Both results against them were fair. 

Big wins against Chaves, Nacional and Vitória de Guimarães and some scrappy performances against Farense, Penafiel and Sporting (Traoré with the sneaky 90+4th minute winner, there).

And then, of course, the elephant in the room. The elephant-sized 5-5 bonanza against Sporting in Lisbon. A great match, but we absolutely threw the game away from being 2-5 up with 30 minutes to play.

So was this enough to win the league? Erm, no. Because Benfica had one of the most ridiculous runs of form in the league that I think I've ever seen from an AI team in FM. Between the start of January and the end of the season, they only failed to win 1 game - against us. As disappointing as it is to fail to win the league with a points total that's usually enough, I can't argue with a 50-ton steamroller like that. We also had a tricky run-in; Sporting and Porto have both been fairly bad this season, but they're still tough teams to beat. 

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Benfica lost in the Allianz Cup final, were knocked out of Europe in the Quarter-Finals and then somehow lost to Penafiel in the Taça de Portugal Placard final. Does that make me feel better for them pipping us to the league? No, but i did laugh when I saw the final score in the Cup final. 

 

Token Silverware

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No idea what this competition is, but whichever member of staff was responsible for it picked a side with a few players from our U23s, U19s and U19-Bs and we beat Porto. Hurrah!

The U19-Bs also won the Portuguese U19 Aveiro Division comfortably, and I think that means they get promoted? The U19s finished third in their Championship Group, while the U23s scraped into their Championship Group and then finished last (although I think half the players I'd put in there were out on loan after January, so there's no big surprise there). 

 

Random Player Showcase

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I thought we'd stolen this kid from the Spanish U19 leagues, but actually, we stole him from a 4th-tier team in Spain for the usual £10k sorry-not-sorry fee. 

He looked good when my scouts gave their "yeah, I suppose" report and lit the U19-Bs on fire when he joined in January. He got called up for the provisional Spanish U20 squad for the Youth Invitational, but picked up an minor injury and was replaced. I gave him his debut from the bench on the final day of the season (he'd played the day before) and he scored and got a pseudoassist (his shot got parried and then tapped in by someone else). 

One for the "if his potential holds, then holy balls" list, I guess. I'm very excited about this one. 

 

Summary

Obviously, another good season. The signing of Masoud seemed to reignite our attacking options and the form of Traoré in the back-half of the season was incredible; he scored 25 goals for the season, and 19 came after Christmas. Defensively, too, we improved. I think Driss Pépé's time with us is up - after 3.5 good seasons, he seems to have reached his limit and we need another excellent DC to partner Mozafari. I'm looking for a new DL, but we've got plenty of options at DR. Midfield is already sorted - Dongmo just signed a new contract and we've got about 30 viable options to play whatever roles we need filling. Up front, I'm less sure about right now. I gave Traoré a new deal at the start of the season with a £7.5m MFRC in the hope that someone would come in for him (and I was really hoping someone would by Christmas), but with his recent form, I'm not really sure what to do. He scored lots of headers, but also is pretty good with the ball at his feet and the list of strikers who can do the same that I've found is vanishingly small. We also really need a new GK - Manfred Weis is Mr Inconsistency and it pains me to have to pick him week on week. Plus, the coaching team think he's hit his Potential and that's no good. 

We're steadily building up depth in the youth teams. We'll have another cull over the summer, get rid of some of the deadwood (hopefully for some cash) and bring in some higher-potential players. Our Technical Director has gone ham on signing youth team coaches, so we've got scope to keep on expanding.

 

Number of players signed this season: 48.

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Season 6: Lusitãnia Lourosa, Portugal, Liga Portugal Bwin

July-August

Transfers

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It feels weird, having all my incoming transfers fitting on one screen, without me having to scroll. Anyway.

No big losses going out. Our captain Esteves' time with us had run its course - he had a year left on his deal and already said he wanted to leave. I was impressed someone paid £4.5m for him, to be honest. Weis was an easy sale - the board wanted more, but the board are idiots; similar deal with Diouck, where there wasn't much of a market for him so we took what we could get. Diouck was good, but we need to move to the next level. Roger Lopez was another steal from the Spanish kiddy leagues, who a few teams came in for; rated very highly, but I think it's an illusion. We'll get 50% ONS, and I might try to cash that next summer. Lots of players out on loan - 67 at the moment (2nd September).

The biggest signing for us in terms of cash and importance was Amado Meireles de Azevedo. We needed a new GK, and with VdG getting relegated (not sure how; they had some excellent players) his asking price dropped from £40m (lol) to a more reasonable £8m. Gobble gobble, as they say. Alba was the best centre-back we could find who looked like a long-term option and Padilla is similar, but a bit further away from the first team (he's staying in Honduras for another season). Having said we had a bunch of options in midfield, after players went out on loan, I realised we needed another capable playmaker, and Bruno Campusano was the one we went for. With European matches, I should be able to give him enough game time to keep developing. 

The other big deals were tying down D'Alessandro and Traoré to new deals. Both are fairly chunky in terms of wages (£35k and £20k p/w respectively), but probably worth it in the long-run. D'Alessandro is our new Captain, too, so it was good to keep him happy. 

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Most of the other players we signed are to fill out the youth teams, although Chambers, Salaun and Yahaya will make a few appearances. Bonus points for the ASPIRE academy in Qatar, for developing Suraj Singh to the point where he was worth taking a punt on. I doubt he'll ever be good enough for us, but a talented Indian centre-back is nothing to sneeze at. 

 

Fixtures

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Poor Porto, having to demean themselves by going through qualification for Europe, and then getting spanked by us on the first day of the league season (sandwiched by European matches). We played really well and deserved to win. Our final goal was :chef's kiss:  and so nice I actually clapped while watching the highlights. Not much to clap about in the game against Sporting, though. 

We've got a bit of a task on our hands to progress in the Champions League, too. Not an easy set of matches. Just as well the board only wanted us to reach the Group Stages (and then were thrilled when we did, because they're idiots). 

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Season 6: Lusitãnia Lourosa, Portugal, Liga Portugal Bwin

September - October

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Lots of yellow on display. I'm not that fussed about the Champions League, but managing to get draws at least keeps the bank balance happy. Assume that we were lucky against Man Utd and you'll be correct. Assume also, that we deserved to lose against Portimonense and you'll be correct there, too.

Our backups aren't as good as our first-choice players, so whenever we need to rotate, things get a bit anxiety-inducing.

Masoud has been in good form, but since he gets run into the ground by Egypt during international breaks (as happens to Mozafari with Iran) he's constantly on the verge of being exhausted. Nothing too worrisome right now, but I'm not thrilled with how our defense is playing at the moment. 

 

Random Player Showcase

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We picked up Carsten Wrobel from Dynamo Dresden over the summer for ~£3.5m. We don't need him at the moment, so he's staying with them for the season. He's far too good for the 3rd-tier, but he's playing really well and developing. Having an excellent Winger is very nice when you've got an ambulatory lamppost up top like we do. 

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Season 6: Lusitãnia Lourosa, Portugal, Liga Portugal Bwin

November - December

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A good, if not particularly tricky, couple of months in the league and a good couple of months in Europe. We were predicted to beat Basel (optimistic) and to lose against Milan (fair) but the performance against the Serie A leaders was probably the better of the two. 

The win against Chaves was probably the most dominant performance in the season-and-a-half we've had in the top tier, while the 5-0 against Académica Coimbra (and the 6 first team players they have on loan from us, :D ) was enough to ensure we won the group in a competition I couldn't give less of a **** about.

 

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We've actually played the first match in January, because I lost track of time during a DM session. Onwards!

 

Random Player Showcase

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Stolen from a Spanish club for a small fee and has been committing atrocities against defenses in the Portuguese Aveiro U19 Division so far this season. As he should, to be fair - my coaches tell me he's already at Liga Portugal Bwin standard. (I'm trying to keep younger players in the U19/U19-B teams if they're not going to get first team football, and it sucks for everyone else that I've also got good options in the U19 squad.)

Anyway, this kid is stupid good. I'm imagining a situation where we have him and Ribera (who's been shredding defenses for Spain's U19 team) up front at the same time. 

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Season 6: Lusitãnia Lourosa, Portugal, Liga Portugal Bwin

January

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A nice set of results to start with, including some nice blowouts, before a streaky point against Chelsea (91st minute equaliser, I see you) and a bit of a pummeling against Braga. We did then rack up 3.6xG against Monaco, so it's hard to argue we didn't deserve that win. We have slipped behind Sporting, though.

 

Transfers

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Aeimsang was our Thai striker. When FC Köln came in for him, he wasn't interested, so I'm sure the fact he's now on a £46k p/w salary is due to how much the club sold him on the city and local culture. (There are addons). We received pretty chunky bids for D'Alessandro and Rios but they were unfazed by me turning them down. 

Jovičić is a very promising centre-back who I just had to have once I saw him. Meanwhile, Stanić is a very promising striker who I just had to have once I saw him. Max Bexell is the second player this save we've prised away from Barnet's clammy grasp; he's a backup MR/AMR. 

Pablo Moreno and Mariano Cortés are - following the theme of the last couple of seasons - youngsters from Spain. Cortés cost a bit more than usual, at £1.8m, but I'm hoping we can develop him into someone like Traoré, given that we can't find anyone like him. My scouts and coaches aren't wild about Moreno, but I think he could be great.

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We signed a few more youngsters, too; again to fill out the youth squads. We have 80 players out on loan. 

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Season 6: Lusitãnia Lourosa, Portugal, Liga Portugal Bwin

February - March

Fixtures

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An excellent set of results in the league, plus a fortuitous win in the Cup.

The trouncing of Benfica was sweet, and with 3.27xG it wasn't even that overdone. The 5-2 over Arouca saw us hit 4.26xG. The board want 'entertaining football' and we have endeavoured to provide just that. 

We actually tried to tank the Champions League tie against Milan and played a mostly backup XI, so we could focus on the league. But Pogiso Mari scored after 25 seconds at the San Siro and then Traoré scored in the 93rd minute at home. No such accidents against Man City, who were way better than the 2-6 aggregate suggests. 

With 7 games to play, we're 5 points clear of Benfica (in 2nd) with a game in hand over them. 

 

Youth Intake

We were due a dud and a dud was duly delivered

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Varela looks like he could be good, though. 

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Miscellany

I was a little worried when I saw that David Rios wanted a new contract - labelled a Wonderkid and rated as a 'Leading Liga Bwin player' you can imagine my surprise when he agreed the deal below.

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Speaking of new contracts, the board gave me a new contract, which I accepted even though I'm not sure I'll see it out. 

 

Random Player Showcase

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Amado has had a lot of game time for us this season and has made some nice progress in that time. I did train him to do the old Schmeichel Snr 'fling it a mile' trick, which I'm hoping will be useful. I haven't seen it in any highlights yet but I'm sure it'll look amazing the one time it creates a chance. 

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Season 6: Lusitãnia Lourosa, Portugal, Liga Portugal Bwin

April - May

Fixtures & League Table

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A patchy end to the season. Traoré got injured in the match against Famalicão and missed the last 6 matches. We missed having a focal point for our attack against Benfica and Porto, although we've got enough quality in the squad that it didn't harm us in the easier fixtures. Tempting though it is to try to create some drama from the dropped points and ooh, I wonder if we won the league, there wasn't any real risk of that. We clinched the title with the win over Farense and I was able to send a quite inexperienced team out to play against Braga to give them some game time; of course, it was Masoud who scored the two goals - we needed some talent out there, after all. 

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Farense did something remarkable in the run-in. Having been terrible all season, they somehow pulled out a run of 5 wins in the last 7 matches to leapfrog Penafiel on 'results between teams'. (Farense beat them 1-0 on the opening day with a 94th-minute winner (yikes)). Penafiel then lost the Playout on penalties (double yikes). 

We probably deserved to finish top, given how long we spent top of the league. The XG table shows things a bit differently, but part of this is because Traoré scored a lot of headers and headers have crap XG. Defensively, I think it shows the benefit of having a much better goalkeeper this season. 

A bit more spread to the goals, too, this season. Pogiso Mari doesn't feature on this list, but he scored 15 in all competitions and actually looked like a professional footballer more often than not. 

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As the season wound down, I also did a bit of pre-emptive housekeeping, signing Mozafari, Bucur, Meireles de Azevedo and Marques to new contracts. Some of this was just to ward off any interest over the summer, but they were on rather stupidly low wages for how good they are. 

 

Miscellany

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Amusingly, some of the rejected players from the Youth Intake played (and played well) in the Quarter-Final and Semi-Final as their trials hadn't yet finished. They'd all been sent to the scrap heap by the time of the final, though, so the A-Team stepped up. 

Linked to this, we had the following announcement a few days after the season ended. 

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I can only assume Porto, Benfica and Sporting have been neglecting their facilities. We haven't, though, and the next phase kicked in around the same time when the board announced that we'll be getting an, um, inventively named new stadium:

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I'm just gonna assume they'll keep the same signs. 

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Season 7: Lusitãnia Lourosa, Portugal, Liga Portugal Bwin

July-August

Transfers

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A mixed transfer window.

I didn't want to sell Dongmo, but he came to me at the beginning of June wanting to leave, so I pointed to the MRFC in his contract... and then It's A Product of Bull Testicles of Leipzig came to me and pointed to Dongmo's MFRC and that was that. Carlos Paz played well last season but didn't have much room to grow, so I was happy to get that much for him. Wongsrikeaw came back from loan, said he wanted to be removed from the transfer list, and then a few days later said he wanted to join a bigger club: well, Mainz are rubbish, so have fun, you annoying piece of ****. Last season I thought Claudia Alba could be a long-term option; in a season where we won the league, reached the League Cup final and the knockouts of the Champions League, he dropped a 6.55 average rating, which probably tells you how good he actually is. 

And then Godfrey Mfaume and Javier Diaz were sold the day after our transfer window closed. Both were surprising sales, but neither was unwelcome. I doubt either player actually has a glittering career ahead of him, but at least Godfrey will get some game time over the course of his contract; Diaz will barely get a game, fail to develop and then get released at the end of his contract and and probably move to the MLS to finish out his career as a washed-up could-have-been.

Mozafari was the subject of a bid by Arsenal the day before Deadline Day. He wanted to leave, but the bid was 'meh' and we didn't need the money, so we rejected and he got upset. Boohoo. Shady Masoud took the opportunity, on the same day, to tell me that he wanted to leave to join a better club; except no-one seemed interested in him, and the MFRC in his contract is for clubs in the Champions League but is only active if we aren't also in the Champions League. Which we are. So now I have two of my best players upset with me because their agents want to buy new homes/cars. Sure, I could sell them, but I roleplay as a heartless vindictive bastard in FM so they're going nowhere any time soon.

 

As much money as we made in sales, we didn't really have anyone we wanted to sign for significant money. Fran is hopefully a long-term replacement for Paz and backup for whoever our DL currently is. Sofokleous is a DC prospect, Pantic an AMC we'll probably end up flipping for prospect because his Determination is awful (so I don't want that influencing the rest of the squad) and Asensi is yet another talented Spanish youngster. I did try signing a Portuguese DC from ManUre, but his agent was a dickhead when it came to 'Promises' and he ended up moving to Bayern (because players are really stupid, sometimes). 

Most of the players we signed were youngsters to fill out our various squads. Honestly, the point isn't even really to sign very talented youngsters; it's just to sign players who will be good enough to flip for enough profit that I'm not obliged to sell my best players to get by financially. 

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Among the trash we picked up, we did find a Northern Irish DC playing for Stratford Town, who would probably have been hoovered up a League 1/2 team if I had those playable. He's not great, but he's an order of magnitude too good to have been slumming it in the lower reaches of English football. 

Honestly, this was a boring transfer window. When you can replace someone like Christian Dongmo with a home-grown player and feel happy with the decision, that's some real positive reinforcement that you're doing a reasonable job. 

 

Fixtures

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We had a match postponed because of a waterlogged pitch. And we've put our Goalkeepers on Penalty-taking duties. Possibly Direct Free Kicks as well, I can't remember. 

Our first team is pretty familiar from last season, so there's not been much bedding-in to do. 

The Cup win against Benfica did throw up an amusing record:

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As a squad, I don't know that we're immediately as strong as we were last season, but we've got strength in depth and the sheer size of the pile of money we're sitting on means that even if the new stadium takes longer and is more expensive than planned, we can deal with it.

My only concern at the moment is that, apparently, the club is going through a takeover. The kind of takeover that doesn't generate any news messages, which seems like a bug as much as anything, but there you go. Since I feel like I'm in the final stretch of my time at the club, I may be willing to go nuclear to ensure that it's either my way or the dry-way (as in: no competition success), but we'll see what the silent takeover brings. 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Season 7: Lusitãnia Lourosa, Portugal, Liga Portugal Bwin

Fixtures

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An excellent few months, not-surprisingly ruined by Benfica. Traoré was injured for most of October, which showed us a vision of how we could play without a big lump up front. An - admittedly cursory - investigation of the data suggests we wouldn't score as many goals. [sigh] The search for a mobile colossus with some actual Pace continues.

We've had a tougher run in the Champions League, too. Having slagged of Mainz, their team of hapless wannabes ran us harder than the 5-2 scoreline suggests. Meanwhile, drawing Leverkusen, PSG, Ajax, Juventus, Napoli and Real Madrid (the last two matches to come) in the Champions League feels like UEFA trying to put us in our place, considering some of the shitehawks operating elsewhere in the competition. We're still in with a chance of getting to the Playoffs, at least. 

Things are going okay in the cups. We deserved to beat Arouca and Belenenses :( but made hard work of both games, with some very poor goalkeeping performances and some remarkably inept shooting. 

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Miscellany

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Under other circumstances, this might feel like the clichéd slap in the face. But we've always been about selling for profit, so this is just reinforcement that our strategy is working. 

Random Player Showcase

I keep trying to keep player's contracts up to date. Mozafari calmed down at some point in October and he was happy to accept a new contract. Albert Bucur's head was turned by Liverpool's scout, but they've since wandered off (as far as Mozafari) so a new contract is in the oven for him. 

Meanwhile, Francisco Marques has made his usual astonishing progress in training and a new contract was thoroughly deserved. 

In fact, I've tried to be really proactive with contracts; much more so than I usually am. This means that the only Minimum Fee Release Clauses for players in our squad are for teams in the Champions League. And that clause is only active when we get eliminated. Which isn't yet. We are paying several players a lot of money, mind you, but we've got loads in the bank and - honestly - plenty of players we can sell for £20m+ if the need arises. 

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Okay, firstly this is funny. Padilla's had a decent amount of football so far this season, is next in line for a First XI spot if Bucur or Mozafari leave and is generally very happy at the club. So for him to say "Hey, how about I don't stay?" was clearly his agent pushing for a transfer. Getting dumped for being an arsehole is the kind of schadenfreude I can get behind. 

But but but...

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"Prefer[s] his clients to remain at their current club" and "Is rather awestruck by you"??

Clearly the combination that would make an agent try to go scorched earth on a club with 4 of his clients on the books. :seagull:

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son 7: Lusitãnia Lourosa, Portugal, Liga Portugal Bwin

January

Transfers

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The sale of David Rios wasn't entirely a surprise. Dortmund had come in a couple of times for him, but the price wasn't that interesting and he didn't want to leave. ManUre dropping £70m, though, is a different story, particularly when he hadn't been playing very well. Remember that we signed Rios for free. But before you feel too bad for the team we stole him from, the solidarity payment associated with the deal meant that A.D. Huracan, an amateur team from the Canary Islands, received just under £1.3m. Glorious. 

Sunday Offor was sold for a loss - his contract was expiring and he hadn't kicked on as much as I'd wanted. Leinonen was a funny sale; one of those players my scouts always liked despite him having no discernible talent and being pretty rubbish every time he took the field for our U23s. We also sent another couple of teams' worth of players out on loan.

The big signing for the window was Barroso, a player I wasn't really aware of. His agent flagged him up on Deadline Day, while Wolfsburg had a bid in progress, but that fell through because Maritimo couldn't find a replacement and we swooped for his MFRC. Ribeiro had been on my shortlist for a while; shortly after arriving, he headed off on loan to Hoffenheim for the rest of the season. Skoglund came from Champions League strugglers Odds - the deal was agreed in the summer and he joined at the end of the Norwegian season. Barlocco is a good young player we've signed for the future and Onov someone I wanted to provide a bit of backup with some of my Spanish youngsters heading off on loan. Traslaviña, meanwhile, is someone I'd had a close eye on since his days in Colombia but Juventus had pipped us to before dumping in their second team like all big teams do with talented youngsters. We've got him on loan with a mandatory fee of £6.5m plus a bit extra. 

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Fixtures

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Backup teams lost against Porto and Real Madrid, and very fortuitously won against Benfica. The rest of the time we've been okay, I guess

We've got Everton in the next round of the Champions League and we face Braga in the cup final. 

Random Player Showcase

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Umaro Mané is someone I mocked in an update when he came through in the Youth Intake because of his woeful Physical attributes, but after a couple of years of being locked in the gym for several hours every day, he's no longer quite such a liability and has even toughened up mentally from the experience.

On a less flippant note, he's a good example of how a player can be viewed by coaching staff as a complete dud because of his CA, but that it can be quite deceptive. Now, I don't know what his PA is - the editor isn't enabled for this save - but Physical attributes are the easiest to improve, so with a decent base in his Technical attributes, he looks like someone who could have a decent professional career. 

Now, if his Technical/Physical attributes had been reversed, I would have released him and not spared him a second thought. 

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Ribera gets a new contract with a little over a year left on his current deal. A bit of a no-brainer for a player I'll admit I've been waiting for the other shoe to drop on. Fruitlessly, to date. 

He's been on loan in La Liga this season with Mallorca, a move I curated a lot more carefully than I usually do. 

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He's joint-second top scorer in the league, behind - amusingly - the two strikers keeping our own Mor Talla Traoré out of the Senegal national team. I assume his oddly-low Average Rating is because he does nothing unless he scores, but I suspect Mallorca are as happy with his overall contributions as I am. 

 

[edit]

He also just got his Spain debut, playing a 7.3 in a routine 3-0 friendly win over Cyprus.

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Season 7: Lusitãnia Lourosa, Portugal, Liga Portugal Bwin

February - May

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A couple of losses in the back-half of the league campaign. Losing Away at Sporting isn't much of a surprise, but getting beaten by a bad Santa Clara was, even if I had sent out the second-string team. We did have to send the backups out a few times as the games piled up, so the fact it bit us where the hair is short and curly as infrequently as it did is a credit to how strong our squad is getting. The draw against Marítimo on the final day was a dead rubber and I tried to send out as Portuguese a team as I could manage, but annoyingly, the U19-Bs, U19s and U23s had all played the day before so we had to pick a couple of foreign-born players. (The AssMan obviously brought on our first team players towards the end). 

We scraped past Everton in the Champions League, with the penalty shootout getting close to being hilarious. ManUre were always going to be too good for us. 

So yeah, we won the league again. More comfortably than last season, too. Mind you, I just checked Benfica's schedule and in March they had league games against Porto, Sporting and VdG (which finished 5-5, lol) as well as Champions League games against Athletic Bilbao. So they did well to finish as close as they did. Never mind, they just got dumpstered in the Cup Final. Again. This time to Estrela da Amadora, who you won't see in the league table below. Lol. (One of our players scored the second goal. Well done, Ocampo.)

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Not a great season for Casa Pia. They only won two matches all season, both in the cups, both on penalties, and one of those was against a 4th-tier side. Yikes. 

As for us, the usual suspects got most of our goals and assists.That includes Shady Masoud, who spent the entire season unhappy and whose performances were a shade down on last season's, but still more than good enough to make me happy. Pogiso Mari had a brief stint of being unhappy when I rejected a bid but got over it quickly enough to have a very good season. Ivan D'Alessandro on the other wing had his best season for us, even if he does seem to be close to his PA. Ribera finished off his terrific season in Spain with a curiously-specific award but deserved it nonetheless. 

All of which pales, of course, next to the Lusitanian Lagginhorn who bagged another 29 goals in all competitions to make it 111 goals in 168 appearances since joining the club. The guy is supposed to dislike Big Matches, but has scored 22 goals in 28 continental matches. :confused:

Mozafari is another player who's spent most of the season unhappy about something or other. I tried to flog him in January, but no-one was willing to stump up the £50m I wanted. His time at the club is up, though, with Padilla and - particularly - Jovičić having good seasons. 

Speaking of Jovičić, he won the NXGN award, at the head of a Lusitania Lourosa trifecta. It is kinda weird having these guys compared to the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, considering I'm playing with Fake Players. I'll wait for SI's explanation of that...

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Youth Intake

Okay, I guess. Wagner was clearly the pick of the bunch (which is fair, he looks great) and I didn't immediately sign many of the rest, but one of them scored a hattrick in a youth game against Atleti while he was still on trial, and if you can't reward that kind of performance with a contract, then I'm not sure why you're even playing FM. 

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Random Player Showcase

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Another random Spanish youth player we picked up on a free who my scouts were iffy on. 6 months making use of our training facilities and coaches and he was the subject of several interesting loan bids. Bochum got him and he's continued to develop like a madman. He looks like he could be something a bit special. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Season 8: Lusitãnia Lourosa, Portugal, Liga Portugal Bwin

Transfers

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The sales first. Slim Shady will aggravate us no longer. As he left, he muttered something about the club being "so empty without me" but no-one was really listening at that point. I wanted more for him, but mostly I just wanted rid of him. Traoré - yeah, that one stung a bit. In a realism sense, it's hard to justify selling him, certainly for as little as we did, but the fact is that we were basically set up tactically to make the most of having a big lump up front - because he was so good at it - but it actually meant we struggled when he wasn't playing. Valentin Salaun was our DL, but he seemed to have reached his limit and that's when I reach for the guillotine. Malgas was our backup GK and Gabriel Guillard was a forward we'd signed on a free from non-league Istres, who had a mediocre season on loan with Angers last time round and now gets to earn over £50k p/w in the Premier League while not really being very good. Bizarre. The other sales were just the usual trash coming to the end of their contracts. (Enrick Coutty has 5 caps for Martinique, but switched to represent France after signing with us. I'm sorry, Martinique :( )

And the signings. José Roberto is our new DL/WBL, Aqueveque our new backup GK and Rainer Schröder is an MC/AMC/ST who can be a sub for our striker, or cover for Marques in midfield. They're the only new signings likely to get more than the odd token appearance. Madureira and Brlenic are staying with their old clubs for the season. Velasquez looked far too good not to steal from Porto, and Eric Silveira also looks like a really good prospect. Of the flotsam and jetsam (everyone from Tellechea down), the surprise package is Yaliké-Balie who only looked reasonable when we agreed to sign him over a year ago, but now looks like he should get 50+ caps for Ivory Coast. 

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We did also receive a few bids for Pogiso Mari and Roko Stanic. Stanic - actually acting like a Model Citizen - didn't bat an eyelid when I rejected the bids. Mari was a little upset, but that hasn't stopped him starting the season like he's prepared to set the whole league on fire. I wouldn't have blamed him for being more upset: £90m+ is a heck of a bid.

 

Fixtures

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The Super Cup was bonkers. They had 3 shots on target and they all went in - one of them a mis-hit cross from about 40 yards that our GK charged out at so wildly that I think he was outside the area when the ball went into the net. 

Our new formation is still a bit of a work-in-progress, but is basically a 5-2-2-1 with Wing-Backs and Inside Forwards. But it's flexible, and we've got the players to fill basically any role we need. I'm keen to use Ribera as the focal point of our attack, because after his excellent season in La Liga, it'd be pretty unrealistic not to either sell him for a bunch of money or give him a decent run in the team. So far it's working. 

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You can add Ahmad Mozafari to the list of players leaving, and 'just when the hell does the English transfer window close?' to the list of questions I have. 

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About freakin' time, to be honest. A more dedicated whiner I would challenge you to find. 

We don't need him, either, good though he is. Between Padilla, Jovičić, Bucur, Silva, Barroso and Traslaviña, we've got enough quality in the first team alone, plus arguably another 5 DCs between the U23s, U19s and U19-Bs I could call on in the worst kind of injury crisis. 

 

[edit]

Nahuel Ghisleni has gone, too. Apparently the German transfer window also knows no bounds, so It Came From Another Species' Testicles Leipzig have signed him for £11m or so. He got relegated to the bench last season when Mari took his spot, and Dylan Chambers hasn't gone on loan, so Nahuel's ability to promise more than he delivers won't be missed. 

 

@muncher_316 I spend a lot of time checking international squads and just scouting anyone who looks like they might have a smidge of talent. I'll often also go back to small/random clubs I've signed good prospects from and check their young players. It all takes time. I play very slowly these days. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

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He wants more playing time to get into the National Team.

He has two caps for Spain.

He just got injured while playing for Spain.

 

Eh, fine, whatever. I should probably offer him a new contract as well at some point. 

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Season 8: Lusitãnia Lourosa, Portugal, Liga Portugal Bwin

September - October

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A good, if not particularly difficult, set of fixtures. We were a little lucky in the Cup against Paços and the Antwerp keeper had an absolute mare against us, but otherwise it's all fine. We did edge the xG against Hertha, even if 90% of that is because we scored two tap-ins. 

We've got a couple of new formations that I'm switching between. I can't conclusively say that either one is better than the other, but the season is still young.

 

Random Player Showcase

I thought I'd shown Rui Silva in a previous update, but apparently not. He's a DC/DM/MC youth candidate from our Liga Portugal 2 SABSEG season who looked good at the time, made it straight onto my "look for a chance to give him game-time" list but I've really struggled to give first-team minutes to. 

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And I know why: we've prioritised having good Centre-Backs and, going purely by his attributes, he's not yet a good Centre-Back. But he is two-footed (which always confuses the attributes), he's the quickest of our DCs now that Mozafari has left, and his development has been stonking so when I decided we'd play with 3 DCs, it was way past time to give him a slot in the rotation. I'm yet to get a bead on how good he's going to be - he's flagged as 4+1* for PA and he is still only 19, so there's time for him to become an excellent player. The lack of any interest in him from a transfer perspective is also a bit confusing, I'll admit.

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  • 3 months later...

Season 8: Lusitãnia Lourosa, Portugal, Liga Portugal Bwin

The rest of the season

I ended up sort of shelving this save, but came back to it for [ahem] Advanced Access. With a little apprehension - tactics have been royally rogered by patches in the past, let alone a new iteration of the game. Still, that's one of the advantages of having a squad packed full of talented youngsters; just stick 'em in whatever tactic you want to try and see how things shake out.

Which, as it happens, is precisely what I did. Two new tactics: a 5-2-1-2 (with Libero (S)) and a 4-1-3-2 I designed to try to combat the 4-2-3-1 (DM) formation the AI so adores. 

Fixtures pt 1

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We got a bit of a pasting by Arsenal, which would end up being a running theme. Otherwise, this was a good start to the season as we dealt with the rigours of up to 6 matches per month. In case you're wondering, the save got shelved after the Arsenal match. Goals were spread around the team, albeit clustered up top until the FM24 engine took effect. 

January Transfers

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The big news was Pogiso Mari leaving. Not for as much as we'd been offered before, but we don't really need the money. I spent most of the month hunting for a viable replacement before kind of two-part-ing it, in the shape of Rodrigo Gauna and Jorge Oliveira. Oliveira is a rarity for me: someone I sign who I can actually identify as a real player (Bruno Fernandes in case you're wondering). Gauna had lukewarm scout reports and high wages, but I liked what I could see, while Oliveira (who announced his retirement while I was still debating signing him) was a bit of a free hit. Just in case they both sucked, though, I recalled Souleymane Mendy from an underwhelming loan in Spain. 

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Fixtures pt 2

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I still feel somewhat exhausted, even just looking at that list of matches. The fixture congestion is nicely illustrated by us playing Arouca in back-to-back league games thanks to multiple re-arrangements. Lots of goals, though! 

January felt a bit like having my face pushed against a belt sander, so the lack of any let-up in February - at a time when injuries were starting to set in - was less than ideal. It did set us up nicely for a fairly straight-forward end to the league season, though. In Europe we were lucky to beat Milan in the UCL Round of 16 and were thoroughly spanked yet again by Arsenal - twice - in the Quarter Final. The scoreline doesn't do justice to the scale of the beating. 

The Portuguese Cup Final was a bit of a damp squib.

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Porto ran us close for most of the season, but they also reached the QF of the UCL and I guess their squad wasn't as deep as ours. They lost league matches before and after we played them (along with getting annihilated 8-0 by ManUre on aggregate) and that was their league campaign done. 

Youth Intake

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My HOYD didn't think much of this, but I quite liked it. As always, the PA got re-evaluated a little once the contracts were signed, adding a little chunk to Craig Evans' PA (just as well, considering how much the greedy little **** wanted in wages!). 

Spoiler

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Evans actually got a debut as a half-time sub in our Home game against Arouca and slipped in Mendy for his hattrick goal. 

Summary

Another excellent season, albeit one split almost in half by FM24. Overall, I'm liking the way that FM24 brings a bit more fluidity to attacking play, and simultaneously finding some of the defensive play aggravating. (Set pieces also seem tuned way too tightly right now). 

In terms of squad development, some of our players are getting called up for - let's just say - lower-ranked FIFA nations. Which I love seeing. Also, having a three-figure number of players called up for international duty is hilarious. My squad is far too big!

Spoiler

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Our full-backs had a bit of a breakthrough year. Not José Roberto - the star new signing - who was entirely forgettable for most of the season, didn't develop and ground out a 6.8 in all comps. Our home-grown Tiago Rebelo was much better, as were Pablo Moreno, Fran and Agustìn Barlocco. 

Leandro Barroso turned out to be a gonzo Libero once FM24 rolled around and developed really nicely. Midfield is an odd area where we've only got a couple of players who are good going forward and staying back, but I think we have options out on loan right now. Up front, although Roko Stanic was a bag of turds in FM24, Marcel Ribera and Souleymane Mendy look like they could terrorise defenses next season. Jorge Oliveira had a terrific last hurrah before retirement, getting 11 goals and 5 assists in his 22 appearances with us after signing. He's off to the World Cup with Portugal, too. (I tried to get him to reconsider retirement, but he declined. Fair enough.)

Ribera scored his first goals for Spain; a hattrick in a Friendly win. He also won the NXGN, UCL Young Player of the Year and then didn't make the World Cup squad. (Good, imo, let the kid have a holiday). One of our loanees who came through the Academy scored on his first senior appearance for Germany, which surprised me - I might have to take a look at him over the summer. Javier Asensì is otherwise the next striker off the conveyor belt; he's had a really good loan season in France. 

I know who I want to keep and get rid of over the summer, and I'm interested in trying out some of the new options that FM24 has brought to the "throw 'em in the trash" party. Keeping players may be trickier, though, since we're still only on a reputation par with Benfica, Porto and Sporting. 

So now we're a successful team that still isn't big enough to fend off the big clubs when they come sniffing. Our wages are starting to reach Porto levels for the players I want to keep and playing in FM24 has made the wage demands of young (crap) players even higher than they were before. 

Still, our new stadium is due to open soon, which will more than double our capacity, to 26.5k. We've got strength and depth in most positions, if you include the (good grief) 80 players out on loan, 27 players rated with 5* PA and over £250m in the bank.

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Season 9: Lusitãnia Lourosa, Portugal, Liga Portugal Bwin

Transfers

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The outs first: Wolfsburg came in with a bid for D'Alessandro that was a few mil more than I would have accepted. He was good for us, but started to get rotated out last season and with our tactics having shifted, it was time to let him go. The two Brayans also moved on - I vacillated over Zelaya, as someone who had quite a lot of versatility in midfield for us, but I decided we had enough options. Elio Suarez came through in the same intake as Tiago Rebelo; sad though it is to let a talented youngster go, he barely developed at all. Asikhia, Wrobel and Nkoulou were cheap signings flipped for profit while Chambers, Blinco and Bexell were average players we could slap an English Tax on.

 

This was probably the first summer window where we didn't bring in a major first-team player. Morgado was actually signed in January, but allowed to finish the season with Estoril Praia, while Rodrigues was signed as midfield cover with a hefty Rival Team tax added on. (I mean, who cares about the money, the transfer budget is £345m.)  Masaaki Miura was a bit of a punt: the scouts liked, rather than loved him and we knew we had options, but for £2.1m it was worth taking a bit of a risk on someone who looked like he could be very useful. Meanwhile, Miguel Borges was out on loan last season and somehow made the German national team - I actually tried to send him out on loan again (since we don't need him) but I guess I need to find something for him to do now. 

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Fixtures

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A somewhat boring start to the season that perked up with the (almost fully rotated) team kinda spanking Boavista. We haven't actually played all that well yet, but we have had a few changes to the tactics/team and we still seem to be in the process of integrating all of that. I'm pretty happy with the overall strength of the team and squad - we've actually got too many first-team ready players, which is going to be a problem - but, as always, the quality of the other teams is also improving, so we'll see how we get on.

We've also been given probably the toughest set of Champions League fixtures I've ever seen, which could be another problem.

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I mean, just, yikes...

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Season 9: Lusitãnia Lourosa, Portugal, Liga Portugal Bwin

September - December

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It never ceases to amaze that you can reach the alleged half-way point of the season in Portugal having played 12 matches. The yawning void of the January-February fixture pile-up inches closer as December aquaplanes along. We have 14 matches currently scheduled in that pair of months, plus two more if we need to Playoff for Europe. 

Still, we've done our job so far. Rotation has been the order of the day. The Second XI beat Benfica and Sporting so the big boys could play in Europe (bless those darlings at the league for scheduling tough fixtures adjacent to Champions League matches; not fixed at all, no sirree). We've generally deserved to win all of these games, although we took our foot so far off the gas once we went 3-0 up at Portimonense that they ended up racking up 1.7xG in the last 10 minutes. 

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The European Endurance Klassik (EEK) has been a bit of a rollercoaster. We probably edged the games against Atleti and Arsenal but were pummelled by Barca and Nice for 90 and 80 minutes respectively. The matches against Rennes and PSV were, erm, very much not like the others. The match against PSV in particular should come with a content warning. Eek, indeed. 

Spoiler

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In the domestic cups, as soon as we beat Lusitania Açores, I predicted we'd get Benfica and Lo and Behold! who was drawn out of the hat? (Not fixed at all, no sirree). We did concede against 3rd4th-tier Fafe, but it was one of my players on loan who scored, so that doesn't count. 

Accolades

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This links nicely to

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Which leads on with a chef's kiss to

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It's worth noting that I still can't finish upgrading our facilities because the club is only 4* reputation. Despite us having £300m+ in the bank. [sigh]

It is funny that stuff like this sometimes happens now:

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Summary

When we play well, we dominate possession, create a bunch of chances and offer very little up. And when we're not playing well, we have a bunch of difference-makers on the bench we can throw at the problem like paper planes at an England match. We've tended to go with our 5-3-2 with the Libero and AP(A), which is where Miura and Madureira have scored their goals from - the two strikers keep the opposition DCs busy and the AP(A) winds up as a free man in the box. We've also got 4-1-3-2 that we use as a hard-counter to that ****ing overpowered 4-2-3-1(DM) formation that a bunch of teams use, but doesn't give us quite as much going forward. Our currently least-useful formation is an asymmetric number I put together after seeing Zealand use it in a couple of videos - it looks kinda funny, but I get the feeling it's just holding us back. We're the most talented team in the league by a fair margin and I just need to let the players do their thing. 

 

We are set to have a fairly horrific transfer window. Other clubs are closing fast around most of our first team and I'm not sure we've yet got the reputation to hold them off. Circle the wagons, boys!

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Season 9: Lusitãnia Lourosa, Portugal, Liga Portugal Bwin

January Transfers and Fixtures

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Outs: Bruno Campusano had been on loan at River Plate, but they declined to sign him; I was thrilled when Lyon came in for him at a lot more than we'd negotiated with River. Miguel Borges was annoying - he was getting regular time for us, but a Bundesliga 2 team came in for him and he had a tantrum, so I flogged him to Lyon as well. Traslaviňa had been a really useful player for us for a while, but it was either suck it up or let him go and so it was time to negotiate. 

A couple of teams - Chelsea in particular - came in for Tiago Rebelo, but I'm not selling him until I'm absolutely forced to. Albert Bucur was also the subject of some bids, but he was fine with me turning them down.

Ins: The freebies who arrived between September and January were mostly for our B-Team, which I'm stocking up in the hope it'll get into a playable league. For the cash payment transfers, Mason Baldwin is a talented young English DC who was playing in Bosnia (he's gone on loan to the Spanish second tier). Javier Recero is another DC I've been following for a while, but won't be using any time soon. Doğukan Guçlu was, erm, yet another DC (can also play DR/DL) we managed to snag from ManUre. And then I finally did something with the £400m slush fund the club had been keeping for our transfer budget, by spooging £74m to sign Adrian Corbacho - who my scouts had been raving about for the last couple of years - from Valencia. He doesn't like big matches, but we've got plenty of players who do, and I think he's just a really good player. 

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Fixtures

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A scrappy kind of month, but a successful one. We didn't do quite enough to avoid the Champions League Playoffs, but we did have a bastard-hard draw, so we can't complain. 

 

Random Player Showcase

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Madureira is having a storming first season with us. We signed him a year ago from Paços de Ferreira (for £1.8m, sheesh) but he finished the season with them. The coaching staff think he's got a decent chunk more improvement left, and he'll almost certainly get a new contract before the end of the season. He's great. 

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Season 9: Lusitãnia Lourosa, Portugal, Liga Portugal Bwin

End of Season update

We played a lot of matches between the start of February and the end of the season. I mean... a lot. On 6 separate occasions, we had a single day of rest between matches. It's genuinely one of the few times playing FM I've actually felt justified in having the sort of insane squad size we have. We were able to rotate - and rest - enough that we never really got slammed by the kind of injury crisis that you might expect. Still, in the spirit of having a truly bonkers number of fixtures, I'm going to break with my usual update style and talk you through each. and. every. one. So you have to suffer as well. 

February

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2-1 vs Moreirense, League Cup Semi-Final

The Second XI were awful in the first half, but we made some tactical changes in the second half to turn it around and grab a late winner. The win was undeserved but not the criminal act it threatened to be. 

1-0 vs Moreirense, League

17-year old debutante Ivan De Rosa, playing in place of the injured Souleymane Mendy, scored after 27 seconds and then neither team did anything notable for the rest of the match. Zzzz.

0-1 vs Porto, League

The Second XI stank up their second match in succession, creating almost nothing. They did at least stink so bad that Porto couldn't create much either. 

4-1 vs Rio Ave, League

70% possession, 25 shots, 2.86xG (to Rio Ave's 0.48) and Marcel Ribera on a tear. What's not to like?

1-1 vs VTSC, League

An own-goal after 40 seconds gave us a lead but we were never any better than our opponents and a draw was a fair result

3-1 vs Monaco, Champions League

We absolutely robbed Monaco blind, scoring from our only 2 shots on target and getting a lucky own-goal to really squeeze some lemon into the wound. 

1-0 vs Porto, League

The Second XI conspired with Porto to produce the second fetid fart of a match in 2 weeks. Bucur came off the bench to score a bullet header from a corner in the only moment of value in the match.

4-1 vs Monaco, Champions League

61% possession, 21 shots, 3.03xG (to Monaco's 0.77) and Marcel Ribera on a tear. What's not to like? Augustin Barlocco - our WBL - utterly shredded Monaco's DR, his international teammate, throughout the match. 

March

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4-0 vs Boavista, League

We kicked March off by watching the Second XI breeze past a poor Boavista team. 

6-0 vs Benfica, League

Benfica's Head Coach clearly doesn't value squad depth. His team were knackered after a mid-week match against Newcastle and we were not.

2-1 vs Milan, Champions League

In an unusual development, we struggled for possession, but a change of formation gave us enough chances to grab a late winner on the night. 

3-0 vs Oriental, League

A dominating first-half performance saw me trot out the old "Don't let your performance drop" team talk and we created ****-all in the second half. :confused:

0-1 vs Milan, Champions League

I chose the wrong tactical setup and we created basically nothing for the entire match. We were lucky to hold on for penalties and our eventual win.

3-2 vs Leixoes, League

We were sublime in the first half, genuinely playing some of the best football of the season. We were then absolute ******* in the second half and I had to bring on Mendy and go old-fashioned Gung-Ho to grab the win. 

April (is the cruellest month)

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2-1 vs Santa Clara, League

Jovicic managed the impressive feat of scoring all 3 goals in a 2-1 win. Well done?

3-3 vs Barcelona, Champions League

Assuming we'd get pummeled if we went with the same tactical gameplan as in the league stage, I sent us out attacking and it worked pretty well! Goals for both Wing-Backs is a rarity I always enjoy seeing.

2-0 vs Braga, League

Two days later, we visited the 3-sided stadium and in a fairly boring game we took our two good chances to - if not steal - then at least pinch the win. 

5-1 vs Famalicao, League

Two days after that, we got 3 early goals against a usually pretty good team, their CM responded with a studs-up flying red card and we could ease up for once.

2-2 vs Barcelona, Champions League

A blessed two full days of rest sent us into this match with decent fitness and we responded with another good performance. The tie going to penalties was a fair result given the closeness of both games.

5-1 vs Portimonense, League

In which Bernardo Morgado had a bit of a moment. We will speak no more of this.

0-0 vs Porto, PT Cup

I set the team out to avoid losing and that's what happened. Yet another fairly even game between [spoiler] the best two teams in the league.

2-2 vs Porto, League Cup

FM's "back-to-back matches against the same team makes for better drama" generator needs a new trick. I suspect Porto are as tired of facing us as we are of them. We were the better team, but Roko Stanic missed his penalty and the dream was over :( Oh, sorry, this cup sucks balls. Who cares?

2-2 vs PSG, Champions League

Mildly astonished to find the crybabies of Paris proudly strutting a 7-3 formation (oh, the ambition), we rocked up with a 5-2-2-1, took an early 2-0 lead and then held on fairly comfortably for a draw. They edged the xG, but they did have two tap-ins.

May (and I don't know what's real any more)

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1-0 vs Rio Ave, League

Souleymane Mendy got his first MVP award of the week with a back post header right at the end. Did we deserve it? HAVE YOU SEEN HOW MANY MATCHES WE'VE PLAYED?!?!?!?!?! OF COURSE WE ****ING DESERVED IT.

2-1 vs PSG, Champions League

Having learned the usual amount from the first leg, PSG paraded their 7-3 formation like a young Kate Middleton definitely not trying to snag a prince at a certain fashion show. You can't be upwardly-mobile when you're PSG, though, and Mendy won it with a stonking free kick and another sweet finish. His celebration for the second goal - rowing backwards across the pitch - was a new one on me, I'll admit. Great animation, though.

2-1 vs Feirense, League

We completely outplayed Feirense in both halves, but struggled to put our chances away. Thankfully, we have talent all over the pitch, even in the Second XI. We clinched the title with this win. The cutscene involving the president and the open-top bus got a bit surreal towards the end, but how we laughed.

1-0 vs Braga, League

The bestest, most brilliantish gatch of ballfoot                                                    with the corner flag

oh god not these guys again

Marcel Ribera

1-1 vs Sporting, League

Hej, det er assistentræner, Morten Davidsen. Vi sendte et hold af hovedsageligt 17/18-årige spillere ud til denne kamp, og en uafgjort 1-1 var nok et retfærdigt resultat.

2-2 vs Estoril Praia

Spillerne afsluttede ligakampagnen med en dårlig 2-2 uafgjort på Estoril Praia. Manageren er blevet sendt på ferie for hans velbefindende, og da han spurgte resultatet, fandt vi på noget for at holde ham glad

PT Cup Final

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3-0 vs Estoril Praia, PT Cup Final

A couple of weeks after our plain-tuckered-out players struggled to beat the same team, our Second XI quite convincingly beat them 3-0.

Champions League Final

Spoiler

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In a match we probably didn't deserve to win, it was fitting that the guy who won it for us was the one who's been with us the longest. Albert Bucur's header from a Souleymane Mendy free-kick (thanks, Mr Set Piece Coach for choosing to work on those!) was our only shot on target. That said, literally none of Arsenal's chances were considered a Key Highlight. Ah, the beauty of choosing a tactic designed to shut down your opponents. 

 

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Rodriguez was a surprise to see here. He's a DL whose level is probably at a mid-table Portuguese Premier League team. We signed Pusnik last season, but loaned him back to Koper for the campaign. His PA has dropped from 5 to 4 stars in the last couple of months, but he still looks decent. The other 4 players are probably legit picks, although I was surprised to see Baldwin above Yalike-Balie, who's just a much better player.

 

Youth Intake

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Not much depth, to say the least, but Vando Fiteira is legitimately bonkers, and Barry McKeown looks pretty good as well.

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It's worth providing a little context to show just how good Fiteira could be if his PA is a fair representation.

Francisco Marques and Marcel Ribera are considered by my coaches to be our best players, each rated at 4.5 stars. So Fiteira could be better than them. 

 

Summary

Summarising the season is a bit tricky. We overachieved in Europe, that's for sure. We got a bastard hard league stage draw, battled through and then had to face the expected level of bastard-hard fixtures at the sharp end. Did we get lucky? Yes, and probably got more good luck than bad luck. 

That said, in a season with 63 matches, we played 39 of them between 5th January and the end of the season. In a quest to get the true essence of this hardship, I turned to the most objective thing possible: MATHS. And Excel.

Between the start of the season and the end of December, we played 24 games in 149 days: a match every 6.2 days.

Between the 5th January and the end of the season, we played 39 games in 150 days: a match every 3.85 days. So, to reiterate what I said all the way at the top of this update: that is a lot of games. 

I have no illusions about the strength of our first team. We have a very good first team. Is is among the best in Europe? Almost certainly not.

But, if you're playing a match every 3-4 days, many of them quite tough, it's not really about whether your best XI is great. It's about your squad. And, as the title of this thread asserts, we have many players and much squad depth. To make this visual.

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That's every player on the books at our club who is rated 4.5* or higher for PA, where 4.5 stars is allegedly "World-Class".

As it happens, I disagree on that label. I think Ribera and Marques are both excellent players who'd make the squad at most top clubs, but they seem a little way off World Class to me. 

Still, having 27 players be considered contenders to match or surpass that is pretty impressive. Plus, we have 6 transfers already agreed for players who'd add to that number. 

In terms of the actual season, we had 5 players hit double-figures for goals - Morgado, Madureira, Stanic, Mendy and Ribera - and 5 players hit double-figures for assists - Rebelo, Mendy, Rodrigues, Madureira and Barlocco.

Mendy got our highest average rating. It's funny that Ribera is considered our 'best' striker, since if we need a goal late on, it's Mendy I bring on as a sub if they're both on the bench. There's the fact he's strong in the air or with the ball on the floor, or that he can play AM R/L as well as up-top. He's also just a bit of an overall beast when he's playing well - I've seen him track back almost to the edge of our area to close a player down. Ribera has his moments, and on his day he's phenomenal, but he also seems quite easy to mark out of the game.

 

Random Player Showcase(s)

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Gil Yaliké-Balie was signed from CFDFA in Ivory Coast for £10k (lol). We agreed the deal when he was 16 and by the time he signed, he'd played basically 2 seasons in their first team and had developed really well. He's been at Ac. Viseu this season and has continued that trajectory. He's still a little raw, but he looks amazing. 

Mariano Cortés was relatively expensive for a pick-up from lower-league Spain, at £1.8m. He's had a couple of good loan deals this season and last and now looks like the player I was hoping he could be. He'll still benefit from some top-flight experience, but if he's got enough potential to use up, he could be a real game-changer. 

 

Next steps

Right up to the point we beat Arsenal, I was thinking about having another season to see if we could build and improve. Now, I'm not sure. There is the World Club Cup, I suppose, but gods alive I hate that tournament. 

I've queued up a few extra leagues to become active in the next couple of months. I think what I'll do is move on, but create a backup save in case I want to come back at some point in the future. 

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Season 10: Reggiana, Italian Serie C/B

I resigned from Lusitania Lourosa the day after our Portuguese Cup win and then mostly just waited for the extra leagues to become active. When they did, one club emerged as the most interesting choice. Reggiana - a club I've always considered pretty decent - had just finished 18th in Serie C/A and only avoided relegation back to Serie D (which they'd escaped two seasons previously) via the Relegation Playout. I knew about a couple of their players already - a promising striker and a somewhat primitive full-back. The rest seemed... okay, I guess, but I always struggle to work out how good players should be when I've dropped back from an excellent team to one that's a bit more bargain basement. 

The board wanted us to make the Playoffs, which would seem ambitious in most circumstances, but since half the league can make the Playoffs in Serie C, notsomuch. It did look potentially troublesome, as we got moved from Serie C/A to C/B which was - of course; SI will be SI - the league that two Serie B teams had got relegated into: Pescara and Modena. 

Transfers

The first order of business was selling our promising striker. We got £65k + £50k in clauses, 50% of Next Sale and a season long loan back to us on 0% wages. We also let a bunch of utterly talentless young players leave for free. Paying someone £450 p/w to be worthless is silly.

We signed a few new players to bolster the ranks and give us a bit more actual 'talent'. Enrique Alvarez, Roberto and Alex Larranaga were already on my shortlist while Ignacio Ferrer was brought in because our DMs were all awful. We ended up replacing our other MC with another loanee (joining Roberto in cyan on our squad list) I'd been monitoring for a while.

Our front three, though, was made of three players at the club when I joined. Alessio Pellielo (the kid we sold, then loaned back) plus an AMR and AML. I turned down several bids for each of the wingers because the bids weren't very good and we'd have to pay a lot of money to replace them. 

We set up with a 4-3-3-DM to make the most of our 3 good players and give us some defensive solidity. 

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I did try to sign a couple of players from Lusitania, but they weren't interested. 

Fixtures

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Of all the ways I thought the season would start, spanking Ancona 7-0 wasn't anywhere near the list. Our performances in the first three games were actually really helpful in telling me what we might be able to achieve. The fact we blew out all three teams helped me decide that the Serie C Cup - which I've always contended sucks ass - could suck ass. I like having 1 match per week for most of the season, thank you very much (especially after last season, my heart rate is still recovering from that) so we rotated fully for the loss in that stupid stupid stupid stupid competition. 

By October, it was fairly clear that Pescara would be our main competitors for the league, so I was happy with the exciting 3-3 draw with them. It doesn't take a genius to identify where most of our goals came from: Pellielo is one of those strikers who - if the Defense is good - he barely gets a kick, but he tends to drag defenders after him, creating space for other players (sidenote: it'd be good if FM actually recognised that as a good thing, but that's "ah well, nonetheless" territory). At the end of December, Ancona almost redeemed themselves for their opening-day humiliation, but we grabbed a last-minute winner. 

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With 10 matches to go, it was still a two-horse race: us or Pescara. The single promotion slot is a killer because the Playoffs are so random. Also, it's always easier to get promoted the first season in an active league than 2-3-6-9 seasons down the line. 

We strengthened a little in January, with a bit of added depth on each wing and at DC/DM, and managed to offload a couple more hobos. Our highest-paid player - a Gambian ST of no discernible talent - was just too highly-paid to leave without causing a massive fuss, so we had to arrange for a transfer only after the window closed, and with the agreement to pay a hefty chunk of his wages. 

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The second half of the season wasn't quite as impressive as the first, but we were able to keep our noses ahead of Pescara long enough for their form to fall off. Ours did, too, but where they subsided to late defeats, we managed to cling on for draws. The 3-3 against Gubbio saw me spend most of the match screaming things at my computer that the mods say I'm not allowed to post on the forums: having pulled back from 0-2 just before half-time to take the lead, we conceded a late equaliser. The game against Viterbese a few days later wasn't any better. The Serie C Super Cup, when it rolled around, was just as pointless as everything else. Once you've already clinched promotion, who even cares about something like this?

Youth Intake

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Mostly pants, but with a couple of decent prospects and one very promising one. 

Stefano Russo is probably more of a ML at this time than a DL, but I'm going to see if we can train him to be a DL, given the generally desperate state of full-backs in FM24. His technical attributes aren't far off being good enough to do a job for us as is. 

Fabio Russo (no apparent relation) is just someone who looks like he could be a decent player when he's older and get the odd substitute appearance next season if all goes well.

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Summary
Job done as far as this season was concerned. Like I said, getting promoted the first season a league gets fully simulated is a real bonus since it saves a lot of hassle. We'll have a substantial rebuilding job in the summer, since there's a lot of dead weight in the squad and not much wage budget, even with the increased allowance that comes from promotion. Our scouting has also been limited this season because the financial situation is pretty bad, so we haven't really developed much of a shortlist. 

On the plus side, though, I did get my Continental Pro license, so now I'm as good as I'll ever get as a coach, combined with having a great reputation.

Spoiler

Lusitania won the Portuguese league by 28 points  but lost in the Champions League Quarter-Finals to Liverpool. The fire sale I was worried about never really materialised. Well done the new manager, I guess. 

 

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Season 11: Reggiana, Italian Serie B

The summer brought about a need for a re-build. We'd cobbled together a good team for Serie C, but another year on, the carefully-curated Shortlists from my days in Portugal were a lot smaller. Turns out, when you can't afford to scout anyone, there's limited value keeping a tab on a lot of them.

Serie B is also a bit of a weird league. The strength is usually pretty good, but there are usually a few teams who struggle for whatever reason and their morale goes in the toilet faster than you can say "man, that barium enema was horrendous" and they never escape. 

We didn't manage to renew any of our loans. I didn't try, either. The club apparently hadn't bothered negotiating a deal for Pellielo's clause, so that's still out there. (A shame; he's worth £13-20m, so we could easily get £5m+ to sell the clause). Meanwhile, the other two players got new contracts from their parent clubs. 

Transfers

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Veratti was the main sale. With a modest MFRC, I negotiated the initial transfer value down and - again - went for the 50% ONS clause, which both Empoli and some other club agreed on. He's with us for the season, on a 0% loan. 

Jallow was the Gambian we couldn't dump and wouldn't use, but we are at least rid of around half his wages, while Nocerina was another modestly-talented player on too much money. 

Spasovski is our new striker, and looks like a better-rounded player than Pellielo was (if early season form is anything to go by). With good, affordable, DCs in short supply, we got a couple in on loan who'll rotate with Alvarez. As soon as I saw Amir Gharbi, I smacked the "Offer Contract" button so hard, I think my mouse broke; he'll play DM mostly, but can do a good job at MC, possibly alongside Ticinovic who I was delighted to pick up for £50k. My coaches don't think he's great, but I think there's a lot to like. Mbarga, meanwhile, is cover for Spasovski up top, but will primarily be our livewire AMR - he's a bit one-dimensional, but sometimes you just need someone who runs around a lot. 

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Another young player who caught my eye was Khalid Hadji. It's fair to say he has a high opinion of himself, asking for Regular Starter status before I negotiated down to Squad Player. Sometimes, players like him get generated with CA that's actually quite close to their PA, but if he's just a bit of a freak, he could be a hell of a player in a few seasons. Manuel Puggelli, our most expensive transfer, was probably the one I was least interested in - he came with repeated excellent scout reports which I kinda "meh"'d my way through, but we needed another MC and if he's actually got the potential for growth my scouts insist, he should be good value. 

Otomo, at the bottom of the list, is a Cameroonian (with French 2nd nat) whose agent was shopping him around on deadline day. He looks promising, if raw, but we don't really need him right now. He's going to spend a few more months on loan in Cameroon and join us in January. Hopefully he'll develop a bit in the meantime. 

August Fixtures

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A good start to the season. The two cup matches - against teams a division below and above us, respectively - were both fairly even games and the win over Torino we just about edged. The games against Bari and Perugia were both very one-sided; one in our favour, one against. 

I considered throwing the cup matches, but the next match isn't until December, so fixture congestion isn't really a thing. Attendances being absolute ******* definitely is, though, and the £9.5k money you get for playing is so contemptuous it's actually funny. Not all cups are created equally, but the ones in Italy were all created out of sheer spite. 

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mistakes
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  • turnip changed the title to Tanti giocatori, molta profondità di squadra

Season 11: Reggiana, Italian Serie B

September - December

Fixtures

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Yeah, me neither. My genius tactical masterstroke has consisted of - and you have to promise not to share this with anyone - playing Positive at Home and Attacking when we're Away. Apparently, this is sufficient for success. :confused:

In fairness, we haven't only used our 4-3-3DM; we also broke out the 4-1-3-2 that I developed at Lusitania for shutting teams down, which, erm, kind of worked but not in the way it was supposed to against Salernitana and then did a bit better against Spezia. 

My view was that we are probably over-performing, and the xG table seems to confirm this. I expect our form to level off in the back-half of the season, if only because teams will start defending a bit more against us. 

We have had a fairly settled team, though. Like last season, I've mostly stuck with the same XI, the only regular change being at DC, since when I brought in our two loanees it had apparently escaped my attention that you can't have 3 DCs with "Important Player" status in a 2 DC-formation and keep them all happy unless you rotate them. Miele's manager has been on the phone a couple of times whining about me not playing him as a No-Nonsense Centre-Back; I've started ignoring his calls. 

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Performances have been good, as you'd expect with the team's results. Puggelli didn't start very well, but mid-September I started playing him as a Roaming Playmaker and that was the springboard for him. Some of the interplay between him, Mbarga coming in off the right, Spasovski dropping deep and Larranaga or Ticinovic is really good to watch, even if it's not exactly intentional on my part. 

We've re-upped a few contracts in the lead-up to the January transfer window. I was delighted to get Alvarez on a new deal for the same wages, but with his MFRC increased from £190k to £1.5m (he originally wanted a £1.9m MFRC, but I traded that for wages). 

I'm not anticipating much transfer business, but we'll see what happens. 

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Season 11: Reggiana, Italian Serie B

January Transfers

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Mats Brinkmann was a youngster we brought in last season from a random Austrian team for nothing; he wasn't integral to the team, or very highly-rated by our staff, so I was happy to collect. Salvatore Asara - after being a key player for us last season - had mostly featured from the bench; he agreed to join Benevento at the end of the season and we got £50k for letting him leave ASAP. Khaled Hadji was the subject of several bids during the window; I turned them all down but eventually Bordeaux made an offer the board couldn't turn down, so we negotiated an "I can live with this deal" arrangement with Lazio. 

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Guychel Saka was brought in as cover at Centre-Back. I doubt he'll ever be great, but he was cheap and a reasonable player for right now. 

Swinnen is the replacement for Swinnen. He's a slightly different kind of player - more of an Inside Forward than a Winger - but also looks like he could develop really well if the circumstances work out. 

Pommella was brought in mostly because I needed a replacement for Hadji, but also because Verratti is only with us until the end of the season, so getting someone in who can start blending with the team is helpful.

Meanwhile, Miladinovic came in from the Zeljeznicar you're not thinking of. Midfield reinforcements, with Pettena leaving on loan, but also adds a bit extra with set pieces. Again, probably won't ever be a great player, but could be someone quite interesting. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

Season 11: Reggiana, Italian Serie B

February - June

We won the league. I kinda mentally checked-out, but did arrange a few signings once promotion was confirmed. 

To my surprise, I received a offer of an interview from Athletic Bilbao. I went along with it, eventually getting the job offer, but my due diligence told me that a club wanting to qualify for the Champions League had about 5 players good enough to achieve that. Oh, and a transfer budget of £900k and an available wage budget of -£400k p/w. Fun. 

The Reggiana board did a spot of begging to see if I would stay and I managed to get an upgrade to Junior Coaching out of that, but I'd already applied for a more interesting job. Shortly after the new players arrived on St Bosman's Day, I got my new job. 

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  • turnip changed the title to Many playerš, much šquad depth

Šeašon 12: Dinamo, Croatian First League

Dinamo had finished last season in 3rd, 14 points behind Rijeka. I'm not sure how you achieve something like that, but I'm sure appointing some random goober to be your Head Coach probably helps. 

The squad wasn't bad, but overstuffed with a bunch of meh, and not nearly enough young players with good potential - only 10 or so, which is disgraceful for Dinamo. In fact, looking through the players we have clauses pending for, it seems like the club sold off good youngsters fairly cheaply because they had old farts playing in those positions.  :seagull:  Cool cool cool. 

Transfers

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Galarreta was a good DC who couldn't jump. Bye, loser! Severdija probably would have scored or assisted a bunch, but he wouldn't have improved, so he went. Schnellrieder played pretty well before we flogged him, but Old+High_Wages=SELL. Sanchez was the previous backup DR (after the AI sold Baltic), but was poop, so off he went; Merlin's magic trick was great Natural Fitness but his actual footballing skills suck, and Cirjak was an old GK who was just cluttering up the premises. There are also a couple of loans with potential future offers. The sale of Mustafaraj to Juventus was pretty weird; I'll just assume it's for accounting purposes... 

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The need for new centre-backs was obvious soon when I started the job. Stanciu was on my shortlist from Reggiana and my new scouting team thought he'd be a good pick up. We actually signed another young DC (Novota) before my scouts found Melgarejo, who brings a very different, arguably... Libero-ish energy to the squad. 

Pisciotti's contract was due to expire at the end of December when my scouts pointed him out to me. I'm not sure he's got the full 2* of improvement my scouts and coaches think he does, but he's a very good striker for us in any event. At the other end of the pitch, Ashraf was a fairly expensive signing to fill a hole at DL that I would otherwise have been filling with trash. I even signed a 33-year old DL on a one-year deal just so we'd have a bit of cover I didn't outright hate in case of injuries. 

The other signings are mostly for depth, but Martykan and Busta (at GK and MC respectively) can expect to start our most important games. We also have a couple of Central American youngsters joining in January I'm quite excited about. 

Fixtures

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There's an argument for saying I'm a bit of a glutton for punishment. Having complained about the number of matches in that last season at Lusitania Lourosa and then choosing a club where we'd played 13 matches before the transfer window had even closed. Still, the European games were pretty easy, so squad rotation wasn't a huge issue, even if we did try to absolutely balls-up the tie against Sandnes Ulf despite dominating both legs. Still, our reward for qualifying for the participation trophy of Europe is another set of fairly easy matches:

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I expect Aris and Vojvodina to give us a good game, but our coefficient is 56, so we should get a top-8 spot. I'm not sure anyone's ever described Prishtina, Norrkoping or Vikingur as "challenging" before, but okay. Also, Capitoline are still considered the favourites, despite getting knocked out 2 rounds ago by Stabæk. That news item is all kinds of borked.

 

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Šeašon 12: Dinamo, Croatian First League

September - December

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A good start first half of the season. We're 2nd in the league, behind Istra 1961 on results between teams. We were completely outplayed in our match against them, so it's not surprising to see them top of the pile. 

In Europe, I was surprised at quite how bad Aris were - I certainly wasn't expecting them to finish bottom of the whole league stage. The biggest surprise, though, is how that Tobyl knocked out FC Kobenhavn in the qualifiers - they were very bad indeed. 

We've had a few injuries that have required rotating around, but there was already a decent amount of depth at the club and the signings to date have only strengthened that. I am glad the transfer window is imminent, mind you we've identified a bunch of players who can improve the squad and we still have a healthy transfer budget. 

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I had nothing to do with this, and the only upgrade I asked for (Junior Coaching) got rejected. Hmph.

 

This, however, is just hysterical:

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Šeašon 12: Dinamo, Croatian First League

January/February transfer window

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The loss of Smoljo was annoying. I hadn't noticed he had a MFRC, which would normally be fine, except that he'd asked for more playing time and the Promise hadn't completed, so I couldn't discuss a new contract with him. Which was more than a little :seagull:

Dordic had been our rotation DR and really wanted to leave when Genk repeatedly came in with crap offers. I finally relented, if only because I don't think he'll ever be great. 

Iacomoni had been our rotation DL, but with our new signings, he was no longer needed. Stensland and Molnar, meanwhile, had never been needed.

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I agreed the deals for these two back in the summer, and I think they're both great! Vega's role will probably vary depending on what we need him for - he's more than useful in central midfield as well as out left. Melendez is a more straightforward DL but could play at DM, too, if needed. If they have much potential to grow into, they could both be fantastic players. 

Vanja Munic is an AML who'll join us at the end of the season, and Odair Jose is our new rotational DR: he's had two full seasons in the Brazilian First Division (albeit without playing really well) but he only wanted Breakthrough Prospect, which suits me just fine. 

Fixtures

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Three easy matches and a game against bottom-of-the-league Slaven Belupo. 

I jest.

Kind of.

The game against Sibenik wasn't all that easy.

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Šeašon 12: Dinamo, Croatian First League

February - May

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There was a definite drop-off in performances in the second half of the season. I try to be quite proactive when dealing with formations that cause us problems, but we don't yet have the personnel to be able to do that. So we had to use the "press all the buttons" strategy a few times to get results. It didn't work against Lokomotiva in Feb or Istra 1961 in April, though - we were pretty awful in both matches. The latter match was excused by us having sealed the title with the (also not very impressive) win over Slaven Belupo on 23rd April and the "why am I bothering again?" attitude less professional players learn at that point. 

In the Cup, we beat a not-good Jarun team to face second-tier Kustosija in the Final. The first leg was a procession, the second a snorefest. 

Our European dream (sniff) was ended by BMG, who deserved to beat us over two legs and equally deserved to go on and beat Porto (hah) in the Final. Hajduk helped the Croatian coefficient by also reaching the QFs. 

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I was pleased to see Istra finishing 2nd. They were genuinely the only team who caused us significant trouble in the league and played consistently well the whole season. Sadly, I think a European campaign will doom them next season, but hopefully they can use the money well. 

Youth Intake

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A pretty good intake. Kind of de rigeur with Dinamo, mind you. 2-3 very promising players, a few others who could be good and a bit of ***** to round it out. 

Spoiler

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I agree with my coaching staff on these two being the best prospects. If I had to pick one, I'd say that Mitrecic will be the better player for us, if only because with a bit more Pace, he could start for us sooner than Pekic could with a similar amount of improvement. 

Squad & Performances

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Some really strong performances from the squad, as you'd probably expect. No surprise to me that Piscotti got as many goal contributions as he did while not playing as well as Silvestre or Arsene - he's quite inconsistent, and particularly towards the end of the season, he just disappeared in games. 

Silvestre is a funny player. I had him early on at Lusitania, but sold him for being a diva when we were in the second division. Even then, he was a good player, but never really made use of his great Long Shots. This season, though, the combination of his attributes and his Gets Forward Whenever Possible trait made him an absolute powerhouse. 

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Casian Arsene was signed for £2.5m at the start of the season to provide cover for Piscotti, but played too well to be dropped. He's mostly played as an Inside Forward, where he can crush defenders on the back post for headers. We're training him as a Target Forward, though. I will have my new Mor Talla Traore

 

 

Sorry, I got distracted when I found out that Mor Talla Traore - coming to the end of his £135k p/w contract at Everton - would be willing to move to us for £44.5k p/w (plus about a billion extras). He still loves me. :)  We'll see if he loves me more than money, mind.

I still want Casian Arsene as well.

Casian and Mor, sitting in a tree, p-u-l-v-e-r-i-s-i-n-g defenders. 

 

With our other players, I'm probably going to sell Stanciu - he played well, but his CA and PA have apparently now met, thus spelling his doom. I suspect I'll get bids for William (DR), Ashraf (DL), Busta (MC) and Koscak (MC), and I'm only convinced I could hang on to Koscak of that group (although the club's financial position is decent). I wouldn't be surprised if someone came in for a few of the others, but there's been limited interest so far. 

Ah well, the shortlist is well-stocked again. And signing new players is half the fun for me, anyway. 

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Šeašon 13: Dinamo, Croatian First League

July - August (and a bit of September)

Transfers

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The outs first. Samir Ashraf was never going to stay as soon as 6 Premier League teams got wind of him; Palace were the first to make a move - in addition to the fee, we've got 40% of next sale. Pisciotti was going to play a less important role this season, so a healthy profit sale to Southampton was useful - again, 40% of next sale is ours. Jaime Silvestre was going into the last season of his contract and I didn't really want to renew, so it made sense to cash in. Husic - annoyingly - had a £3m release clause to foreign clubs, which I only became aware of when Stoke activated it; he's always been antsy about playing time, so I couldn't get him to renew. Everyone else who left was basically shoved out the door by me. We had a Dutch forward on high wages, who missed a lot of last season with a serious injury, saw his attributes take a nosedive and still felt the need to whine about not playing; after an entire window of trying to get rid of him, he agreed to mutually terminate his contract. Good riddance. 

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Our most expensive signings of the window were made to bring back to players sold by one of my predecessors. Regetas and Karacic are both Home Grown, and both more than capable of doing a job in Europe. We had to pay a lot to get Karacic, but my scouts and coaches think he's got room to grow, and frankly I'm going to need all the good Home Grown players I can get for the next couple of seasons. 

Doumbia was one of two young attackers we picked up from ASEC (they joined before St Bosman's Day). Annoyingly, we had to promise to play him as an Advanced Forward, when his flexibility is one of his strengths. Ah well. Meanwhile, Vujosevic is our backup DR who can slot in at DM. The other chunky signing was Grigoryan, from Zenit - a useful left-sided winger who's yet to have a good game, but I'm sure his parents are very proud anyway. 

Meanwhile, having decided to go kind of all-in on Set Pieces this season, it made sense to revisit a player I'd identified but been unable to sign while at Reggiana - Akaki Nozadze - who an uncharitable person might describe as 'limited', but I like to describe as having a unique skillset

Fixtures

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We've gone a bit ham with our new formation for this season - a good old-fashioned 4-2-4 - and although we don't play it in every match, you can probably work out the ones where we have. The ongoing love affair the AI has with the 4-2-3-1 (DM) formation I despise so much means that our 4-1-3-2 still gets used plenty, mind you. The CL qualifiers could have been worse, although the first leg against Odd had me a little worried - their DR scything down our AML from behind 12 minutes into the second leg made it a lot more comfortable than it could have been. We've avoided any banana peels so far this season in the league, and a point in Split (against a Hajduk team who lost in the Conference League against a Dinamo freaking Brest (thanks for the coefficient help, assholes)) was fine by me. We've got a reasonable draw in the Champions League, too. I reckon there are 4 winnable games there for us. 

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That said, I can see our backups getting a proper hammering in matchdays 2-5. The bookies have us at 10,000-1. 

Miscellany

Last season, I made 3 separate requests to improve Junior Coaching, only to be met with a "nah, bro, it's fine" on each occasion from the morons on the board. So you can probably imagine my surprise when the end-of-season suggestion these dimwits came up with (you know, the one that's usually all "Hey, how about we increase the possible wages for Loan Managers, bro?") was to... improve Junior Coaching. 

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Personally, I'd argue that my performance is better than a B, but when dealing with idiots... 

'What a great idea, guys, you clever you all are.' :rolleyes:

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Šeašon 13: Dinamo, Croatian First League

September - December

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Good in the league, as planned in Europe, unfortunate in the Cup. 

Okay, I say "as planned" in Europe, but I wasn't expecting 5 against Shakhtar or 8 against an actually pretty good Olympiacos team. With our last two league stage games against Vojvodina and RB Salzburg, we should get enough points to make the playoffs at least. I think our GK is the only first-team player who started the other Champions League matches. 

I probably should have predicted we'd draw Hajduk given the date of the tie was 3 days before we played them in the league. I guess it was too much to hope we could have got Hrvastki Dragovoljac instead?

We've tweaked our 4-2-4 formation, as it wasn't dealing very well with the 4-2-3-1(DM)s we always seem to find ourselves up against. The new variation can be found here, along with the match stats from as parsimonious a performance as your peepers may peruse. 

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We've brought in a few players on free transfers. Most of them will never take the field for us, but Garitano is another huge dude (17s for Jumping Reach, Heading and Strength) so we have options if Traore is injured, while Al-Otaibi is a Saudi who could be good and Pereira already looks like he could be a useful player to have on the bench.

Otherwise, I've re-upped contracts for Vega, Melendez and Melgarejo. Importantly, none of them have MFRCs now. Also, we're not paying them much more than we were before, and they all wanted 5-year deals. I think that's great news and good business, but some people disagreed. So now at least we have confirmation that both our fans and the board are complete morons. Good to know. 

We weren't able to renew all the contracts I wanted, though. Arsene doesn't think we're good enough, while Busta didn't like my squad rotation and is waiting on a Promise to be fulfilled. I don't need to sell either of them imminently, but they are Influential in the hierarchy, so it could be annoying to deal with squad unhappiness if I do **** them off. Meanwhile, Martykan's potential ceiling is drawing near - I'm hoping if Dortmund come in for him, I can at least keep him until the end of the season (I've really struggled to find good goalkeepers who want to join). Willian will also probably leave, which is also fine. 

I just want £10m+ for all of them (except Martykan - there's no way I'm getting that much for him). 

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Šeašon 13: Dinamo, Croatian First League

Winter transfer window

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The board came close to encouraging my resignation during this window. The sale of Busta was inevitable, but despite us having £40m+ in the bank, the goobers on the board still took negotiations out of my hands. We'll get 20% of profit of next sale, but we could have easily got 30%+ of next sale total. :seagull:

I was at least expecting Busta to leave, though. When the Chairman decided that a bid for Melgarejo (for much the same kind of value) was too good to refuse, though, I actually went to look at what jobs were available. Fortunately, our Peruvian Wonderkid had only just signed a new contract, so wasn't interested in joining Werder Bremen, but still... :seagull:

I've activated another couple of leagues. Lukas Novota had reached his potential according to my staff, so I was happy to sell him, even if - yet again - the board decided they should be the ones to decide what a good offer looked like. :seagull: 

Marco Leopold was the only other sale, a kid we picked up on a free last season who we fleeced RB Salzburg on. 

We did receive a handful of offers for Arsene and Willian, eventually accepting a bid for Willian, but it fell through at the last minute. Arsene - despite being wanted by over a dozen clubs - never attracted a bid of more than £9m or so, which didn't attract the board's interest. He wasn't happy, but calmed down after Liverpool's interest cooled and is considering a new contract offer from us. 

Joining the club were another group of possibly talented youngsters, plus a couple of first team reinforcements. 

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Jammeh was brought in to provide some backup at DC, after yet another of our home-grown DCs had a hissy fit when I rejected a bid for him. We got him for his MFRC - thanks Racing Santander! Borrelli was already on my radar and I made the bid when I thought Willian would leave; even though that fell through, I still reckon Borrelli is a handy player to keep around with no real weaknesses. Ariza is very much a sub-replacement for Busta, but was cheap and doesn't expect to play too much. Pereira is one of the youngsters we picked up just before the window opened. The coaches see 5* potential; I don't, but I do see a lot of talent and a lot of value in the future. 

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Barring a miracle, we're basically out of Europe. Which is fine. We've made a fair amount from the CL already this season, and being able to focus on the league will be handy. 

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Šeašon 13: Dinamo, Croatian First League

Youth Intake

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Pretty good. Not much depth on a first viewing, but that makes sense. We've got a pretty good standard of player in the squad, so youngsters have to seem good to stand out.

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Grdenić is obviously the standout here. He's close to being good enough to get the odd bit of game time on his own merits; but I'll have to wait until the start of next season to play him in the league (I think he can play in Europe before then?). 

Alvir looks okay, but goalkeeper is probably our weakest area, so I'm not too optimistic about him. Ćurić, on the other hand, I rate higher than our coaching staff do; he'll be sick of Defensive Positioning training before he hits the first team, though. 

Vidović is a bit of an annoyance - terrific technical attributes (which makes sense, given he's a year older than the other newbies) but awful mentals. I've promoted him to the First Team squad just so he can access mentoring. I find it hard to predict how this kind of player will turn out, but I'm hopeful he'll be at least useful. 

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Šeašon 13: Dinamo, Croatian First League

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A miracle did not materialise in Europe, although the backups played well to get a 2-2 in Berlin. Going out of Europe did make giving our backups adequate game time in the last couple of months of the season, which was annoying. But it did mean that the First XI could mostly stomp their way to a very comfortable league title. 

Our asymmetrical 4-2-4 generally worked very well and let us use Melgarejo as a Libero. Which was nice. I will say that our performances weren't quite as dominant as the scorelines suggest. We confirmed the league title quite early (I forget when) but although the performances eased off a little, we've got a significant quality improvement over every other team, so we often took our chances and denied our opponents much of a sniff. Credit to Traore, who was able to pop up with a couple of important late goals - the one against Sibenik was even more impressive since he got a minor injury after we made our 5th sub. 

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Traore got 30 goals for the season. As per the terms of his contract, I think he now owns half the stadium. A fair few players aren't happy with their playing time. Most of them have a point, although I'd point out that Matt Watson looked a lot better before we signed him. We also signed both Regetas and Karacic after him, and they're both better and both Home-Grown, so that's also on me. Valkovic at the bottom of that screenshot also probably has a point, but he's also too slow to catch up with me to make it, and since basically every team in the league plays on the Counter against us, he's just a bit of a liability. 

As I said at the start of the season, I decided to make the most of Set Pieces this season. Well, we scored 21 league goals from corners and 6 from indirect free kicks - both the highest in the league. We also conceded the joint fewest goals from corners and IFKs. We overperformed our xG by 19, had the highest cross completion at 26% (the next highest was 19%), the most high intensity sprints, passes in the final third and shots on target ratio. 

As discussed previously, I renewed Arsene's contract. I then also took the the time re-up Willian's and Alghoul's as well. This won't stop other clubs bidding, but it gives me more scope to negotiate.

In the summer, I expect to lose Vega, Melendez and Melgarejo. I'm fairly confident we'll get some reasonable bids for Willian, too. Martykan is a maybe - he looks good to other teams until they've fully scouted him, which is when they back off, so we might get lucky if a team finds themselves desperate. I've got one replacement in mind if he leaves. Slim pickings otherwise. 

Vega, Melendez and Melgarejo each have quite a lot of interest, so I should be able to get £15m+ for each of them. They're good, but we don't need nearly their level of quality to win the league, so improving the club's financial situation so the board doesn't sell players I need to keep is more of a priority. 

 

I eventually picked up one more player from the Youth Intake - a Nigerian DC my coaches told me had trained well during his trial. I also replaced our HOYD with someone who's also pretty good at the job, but has the advantage of being a Model Citizen. It's arguably a minor change, but if I'm going to have good players coming through, I'm going to try to weight the scales towards good personalities if I can. 

Speaking of youth prospects, I was amused to see the news item below. My 15-year old, 1 Strength, AMC putting his 16 Aggression to dubious use. I'd have been furious if he'd maimed one of the players I like, but - sorry Watson - he didn't. 

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Šeašon 14: Dinamo, Croatian First League

I expected a bit of a fire sale, but although it looks like carnage, I'm not sure I'd describe it as a "fire sale" as such. A 'toast sale'?

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Doumbia, Vega, Melendez, Willian, Pereira, Valkovic, Martykan, Lecocq, Munic, Onur Demir, Karanka, Jose Ricardo and Chitiyo... they all have 50% of Next Sale clauses attached to their sales. I reckon there's an easy £150m in that. The fans were predictably horrified by the sales of Melendez and Vega in particular, because of course they were - they're morons. Doumbia was actually a bit of a surprise - we'd rejected a couple of low-ball bids during the window, but Bayern obviously had a gap in their squad as the window closed and we massaged a good deal from their bank balance. 

It's worth noting that Garcia, Pereira, Lecocq, Onur Demir and Karanka were all U-19 players signed purely so we could flip them once they'd developed a bit. The highest fee we paid for any of them was £50k for Karanka. The club now has £148m in the bank. Thanks, guys!

Most of the players we brought in (there are a couple who joined before July) were youngsters. Y'know... develop and flip. You could argue it's borderline-game-breakingly easy money, but eh, it's kind of funny at least.

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Stefano Russo had barely played for Reggiana in the last couple of seasons. My scouts still rated him very highly, and with Melendez going, it left space for an ahem 'attacking full back' in the squad. £5m is genuinely cheap, as long as he plays well and/or develops.

Mauricio was out of contract in January, so after we agreed terms with him, we paid the £1.2m to bring him in early. Far from the best midfielder on our shortlist, but with the scouts still struggling to find players who'll improve the team, he did at least have the benefit of a Portuguese second nationality. 

Doumbia's late exit from the squad left a hole in the squad for someone who can play AMR/ST and Vega was that player. Honestly, £5m is an absolute steal even if he doesn't improve a jot (my scouts/coaches agree that he should improve a lot).

Garat was brought in largely to be a Half-Back. We're working on his Strength/Jumping Reach, and if we can get those up 3-4 points, I'll be delighted. If not, he's a freaking Model Citizen who's a very reasonable Half-Back and can fill in at DL if we need someone who's a competent defender. 

Elsewhere, Craig Evans was signed from Lusitania to be a versatile player further up the field, and Philani Mokoena should be a consistent AMC. Giandomenico Tocci is our new GK, with Martykan leaving. My scouting team reckons he's got 4+1* potential and although I've always struggled to judge GKs, that seems possible. Nerman Hendija - from Season 12's youth intake - has played a couple of matches and seems like a pretty handy backup

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An imperious start to the season, in terms of results, at least. We have got a bit lucky with xG - we've been quite clinical and our opponents quite profligate. We've still at least had the best of every match, but the scorelines are somewhat flattering. The goals have been spread around, which I always enjoy seeing. We've got a tough draw in the Champions League, so it's likely we'll be making full use of the squad as the season progresses. 

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Getting Genk and not-Sociedad as Pot 4 teams is harsh, as is getting Nice and Neverkusen as Pot 3 teams. I guess Rennes and Ajax as Pot 2 could be worse, but still. Sheesh. 

Huge praise to Glenavon for making the league phase, though. They're going to get annihilated, but £12.5m is massive for a club like them. They beat TNS, Sarajevo, Elfsborg and Sheriff Tiraspol to qualify (I leave the commentary to you readers, there). 

With the new season, we have a new tactic. Fun though it was going full Hoofball last season, it didn't really play to our strengths as a team and there just aren't enough players available who we can sign, who can play well when the opposition is set up to counter our general approach.

Therefore, we actually have a couple of new tactics. 

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This is our new default. With Melgarejo staying at the club, we've got a very capable Libero, which means we need to use a Half-Back to stay secure defensively. Additionally, we have the personnel to have an excellent Inside Forward on the right (Arsene, or new Vega) as well as an excellent Striker (Arsene, Alghoul, Traore, new Vega). We've already had one goal from Melgarejo getting into the box during open play - hot damn, I love Liberos these days - and although it gets congested in the middle, we have enough players to cause a bunch of problems.

Our secondary tactic is a 4-2-2-2(DM), for when we want to build a bit more. Ironically, this one is a bit more vulnerable to being countered, so the personnel to make this work needs more effort. 

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Šeašon 14: Dinamo, Croatian First League

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The league progresses well. The biggest challenge at the moment is making sure the players in the squad with the highest playing time expectations actually get enough game time to stay happy. A bit of a problem given that they usually have 3 training sessions per day, minimising the time they have to recover from matches. Sometimes I remember to give them a few days off training. Sometimes.

Josip Alghoul is having a good season so far. He's getting a decent amount of time from the subs bench to supplement the weekend matches he starts. He's still behind Arsene and Traore in the pecking order, but he's developing really nicely. Koscak and Valkovic are the other academy graduates playing well - I don't really consider Regetas and Karacic in the same way, since they've both left and come back.

We're in with a chance of making the Champions League Playoffs and a result against Genk should be enough. Knowing our luck, we'll probably get a really hard team, though. 

Random Player Showcase

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I spotted Gbane after he left Ivoire Academie and was unattached. My scouts didn't think much of him; neither did my coaches when I trialled him. I saw enough to pique my interest, however, and although we had to wait a year for him to turn 18 and be able to sign a contract, he stayed with us on trial and his development has gone really well. He's not really a classical DC, so I've started training him as a Libero. He scored a hattrick as our U19s beat Genk 7-0 in the UEFA Youth League - two back-post headers and a neat finish from the edge of the box. 

Speaking of centre-backs, another player I picked up in the summer is 16-year old Victor Cidoncha. Again, my scouts weren't impressed when they looked at him, but he only cost £10k (my usual sorry-not-sorry fee for signing players I could get for free) and his defensive attributes were - if not in full bloom - at least slightly germinating. Six months with our squad and facilities and his improvement has been remarkable.

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He's still not much of a defender, but that's the kind of development I expect to see over a couple of years for players his age. Amusingly, he demanded Emergency Backup playing time, so he's been in the first-team squad (but has played most U19 games), so maybe he's benefited from the punishing training regime I inflict on first team players. My coaches have changed their rating of his PA from 1+1 to 3.5+1, which I find funny.

 

Around the world

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I'm mostly including this just to point out that not only is Lusitania the 10th biggest club in the world, but that 4 of the top players in the world were at the club with me when I left. Madureira, in particular, is now pretty disgusting. 

Belgium - Oudenaarde have risen like a phoenix from non-league to the Jupiler Pro League this season, but are playing like ******* and doomed to relegation. Capellen also made it all the way up before coming down the Pro League last season, where they're in a relegation fight. 

England - no real surprises in the Premier League. Woking are in their 3rd season in the Championship, but look like they'll go down this year. Eastleigh are in League One and having a good season. 

France - Dunkerque have made it to Ligue 2, but look like they're going down this season. Quevilly-Rouen are in the National-2, as are AC Ajaccio, Niort. Ligue 1 has been the usual PSG procession. 

Germany - Heidenheim have gone from the Bundesliga down to the 3rd tier and then back up to the Bundesliga. Everything else here is boring. 

Italy - other than my former club Reggiana (still in Serie A), no club from Serie C has gotten further than Serie B, and vice versa. Yawn. 

Norway - Rosenborg haven't won the league title since 2023. Vard have gone down to the fourth tier but rebounded to now be in the First Division. Tromsdalen made it up to the Premier Division and after back-to-back relegations are going down to the Second Division. 

Portugal  - my replacement at Lusitania has won every league title since I left. Oriental have made it up to the top tier twice, but are currently in the second division. Vit. Setubal have also made it all the way up, but only once. 

Spain - literally nothing of interest. I guess Sevilla might go down this season?

World Cup. Switzerland won in 2030, beating Senegal, Kuwait, Costa Rica, Uruguay, Mexico, Ecuador en route to a 2-0 win in the final over Germany. Otherwise, it's been England and Spain. 

The Euros, African Cup of Nations and Asian Cup have been boring. Shout out to New Caledonia for lifting the 2033 Oceania Nations Cup. 

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Šeašon 14: Dinamo, Croatian First League

Transfer Window

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Luis Andres Ariza was a young MC we picked up from Envigado who was happy for about 5 minutes after we signed him and then revealed himself as a loathsome diva without the talent to be bearable. Lazio can deal with that ***** now. 

Leonardo Melgarejo's value actually went up to £33m-£37m at one point, but dropped back down as the window started. Still, we're very likely to get the £27m and there's always the 50% of Next Sale as well. We've got a couple of other centre backs who can play as a Libero these days. 

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With our departure from Europe looking likely, I didn't feel the need to strengthen the squad much. That said, we were in desperate need of a new goalkeeper, with Tocci having been mediocre. Jaja was the best goalkeeper we could find who was interested in joining us and still has the option of making us a profit down the line. He's good, though.

The only other notable signing was Diaz, on deadline day. He's someone we'd been tracking for a while, and with less than a year left on his deal and a firm (A) rating from the scouts, that seemed a no-brainer. 

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A slight miscalculation on my part meant that Tocci left on loan before Jaja joined, and before we'd played Genk and Neverkusen. So 19-year old Moussa Soyinkou played the last two league phase matches for us (and did pretty well, to be fair). Maybe it was for the best, considering how bad Jaja was against Osijek, although it was a pretty bad performance all-round. Much swearing from me, and some emphatic double-fist-pumps when micro-Mauricio with the 3 Jumping Reach and 7 Heading looped a back-post header over the keeper and into the far corner with almost the last kick of the game. Back-post headers are stupid overpowered in this game, so it's nice to get the benefit for once. 

We just about crept through to the Play Off Round, which was good. Losing 1-2 to that bunch of bums is annoying, and I don't know if it's made better or worse by the scorer of their 2 goals being Phil Behnke, who played for me in the 3rd, 2nd and then top tier of Portugal. He's had a decent career. It's still not as funny as a couple of the teams that didn't make the Play Off Round. 

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Let's all just point and laugh at Barcelona, shall we?

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