RCD Espanyol (2021/2022)
After playing some very decent friendlies, I was quite confident I could make this team work for an entire season. Oh how wrong was I. I don’t know how, I don’t know why, but nothing went according to plan from the very first game. We started against some of the tougher opponents, which didn’t work well for my squad’s motivation, and never quite picked up the pace after that in the league. After 11 games, I found myself just two places above the relegation zone, so I knew that there were no prizes to be gained there.
The Europa League did work out well, topping my group after 4 of 6 games. I decided to focus on the EL and the Spanish Cup, hoping to get at least one prize. After losing my first Spanish Cup match again Gimnastic, however, I started looking around at job openings a bit. My intention was to wait until after the World Cup (as suggested by some, since jobs always open up after that), but 3 weeks before the start of the winter transfer period came an opening I couldn’t refuse…
Somehow, the manager of Hoffenheim managed to get the squad just above the relegation zone almost midway season. After looking at the squad (Milik, Rolan, Arias, to name a few) and looking at the finances (Rich!), it was a no-brainer for me. I accepted and got thrown straight into battle: only 3 days after my appointment we played Stuttgart in the Quarter Finals of the German Cup. I decided to take a risk and immediately implement my own strategy which I thought suited the team best (a 5-3-2, with 2 real wing backs and 1 attacking midfielder). My luck was the team was already used to playing with wing backs, so they were at least a little familiar, which showed on the pitch as well. We beat Stuttgart 3-2 after a real thriller.
The winter period gave me a little time to improve the squad. My focus would be on getting 2 good central defender for my back 3 (only Schär was near the quality I demanded) and a good midfielder (either all-round or very attacking). I managed to buy Jóse Giménez for only a fraction of his value and snapped up a young Brazilian regen. For my midfield position, I ended up splashing some cash on Youri Tielemans. Still playing at Anderlecht at that point, I was quite surprised honestly, because I know the lad has great quality. After these 3, I decided on something I rarely do: I bought a young goalkeeper, with almost the same quality as my oldie Baumann already, and rotated them throughout the remainder of the season, thus giving the young goalie time go get used to my playing style.
Well, we started with only 16 points from the first 17 matches and ended the season with 50 points in 7th position. Bayern won the title with 72 points, which would have placed me only 4 points behind them if the 1st half would have been as good as the second. I’m very curious to see where the first full season will bring me…
Oh yeah, did I mention we won the German Cup? (PARTY!) When I saw who the semi-finalists were, I noticed we were favorites by far to win this thing, with only Köln representing the Bundesliga. I ended up facing them in the final, which we won quite easily (3-0), thus adding another prize to my cabinet!
Portugal (2022 World Cup)
Somehow, even after winning the EC, CC and being 1st in the FIFA Rankings, the media predicted ‘a very difficult tournament’ for us, which we should really not expect anything from. Well, time to prove them wrong J. The group was pretty straightforward (Mexico, Japan and Morocco), which only saw me lose against Japan, sending out a B-team which still should have thrashed them, but which did see us finishing 2nd in the group (behind Japan). No hard feelings there though, since they faced England, whilst I got Sweden, who incredibly topped that group. We beat them 2-0 in a decent match, which saw me facing my old team Nigeria in the quarter finals. They had to cope without the suspended key player Musa, which made my job a lot easier. I took a little risk by sending out half of the B-team, but we scraped it 1-0 into the semifinals.
There my home country Holland awaited. My heart was torn, but they hád to fall. They proved quite the test, with a score of 1-1 after ninety minutes bringing on the extra time. There, Ivan Cavailero turned himself into my savior, netting two goals on 5 minutes, creating a lead which we managed to hold on to the end. In the final, the amazing Germany awaited. Their squad was massive, with players like Muller, Goretzka and Ter Stegen, so it was a fitting opponent for the final. We started strong, with Zé Gomes netting the 1-0 in the 15th minute, only to be followed by an equalizer in the 22nd minute by Muller. The remainder of the 90 minutes both sides created chances, but neither managed to score. Extra time gave no winner either, so it was on to the dreaded penalties.
Well, we all know that Germans always win anyway, so I was not to optimistic. My mood changed after Rui Patricio managed to stop Goretzka’s penalty, giving us the 2-1 lead. Both sides scored twice, bringing the score up to 4-3 and putting the pressure on my 5th penalty taker. Lucky for me, Cavailero was my 5th, and he had been on fire the entire tournament. He scored, I went mad, my wife looked at me in disbelief… We had won the World Cup!!!
Season Team Competition Position Cup Notes and Achievements
2015/2016 - - - - -
2016/2017 Bury F.C. League One (ENG) 16th - Took over when 24th in Dec. 2016
2017/2018 West Brom Championship (ENG) 1st 2nd round League Champions, promotion to Premier League!
2018/2019 West Brom Premier League (ENG) - 3rd round Quit after 13 games with only 7 points - disappointing!
2019/2020 - - - - Job search - more difficult than I thought!
2020/2021 RCD Espanyol Liga BBVA (ESP) 5th 2nd round Qualified for Europa League, great season, money's tight though!
2021/2022 RCD Espanyol Liga BBVA (ESP) - 1st round Quit for Hoffenheim early december after a really bad first half...
2021/2022 Hoffenheim Bundesliga (GER) 7th 1st (!) Finsihed 7th after an amazing second half, German Cup Winners!!
Season Team Competition Position Notes and Achievements
2015/2016 Argentina U23 Olympics 2016 1st Quit after winning Olympics
2017/2018 Nigeria World Cup 2018 1st round Failed miserably in the 1st round, quit to join Portugal
2018/2019 Portugal European League 2019 1st Won this one, started qualifying for the EC 2020
2019/2020 Portugal Europ. Champ. 2020 1st Won it! My first prize after beating England in the final!
2020/2021 Portugal Confed. Cup 1st Won it! Incredible performance against Italy in the final (3-0)!
2021/2022 Porugal World Cup 1st Won it! No-one stops Portugal, not even Germany (1-1 ; 5-3 after penalties)!
0/10 top domestic leagues
1/10 domestic cups (GER – Hoffenheim)
0/5 club continental championships
0/1 club world championship
1/5 continental tournaments (EC 2020-Portugal)
2/2 world tournaments (Confed. Cup 2021-Portugal / World Cup 2022-Portugal)