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  1. Update 4: End of Season Review 2018 Club: FK Smiltene Division: Komanda.lv Pirma Liga I began my first managerial career at a small, semi-professional team in Latvia. Despite no previous experience or coaching badges I was hired to try and help my new club avoid relegation, an aim which I surpassed superbly. We ended the season with a highest ever league finish and far exceeded the expectations that were laid out when I joined. My first season in Latvia is now complete and I am going to use this update to review everything that happened so far, concluding with this years club awards. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- COMPETITIONS: Komanda.lv Pirma Liga. Final League Position: 6th Played: 22 (W = 8, D = 2, L = 12)Goals Scored: 37, Goals Conceded: 45, Goal Difference: -8Points Total: 26 I joined the club after six league games and managed to steadily climb the table, finishing in a very respectable 6th position. Despite being tipped for relegation by the media and by the board we were able to battle way above those expectations and this resulted in a very successful first year in charge. The reason for our success was our potency in front of goal. Our 37 goals scored (almost two per game) was a figure good for the fourth best scoring record in the division. The difficulties came on the defensive end where we conceded a whopping 45 times, giving us the fourth worst defensive record in the league. In our 22 league games we were held to just two draws and our eight games won the sixth best win percentage in the league. In the end though our final standing might be a bit misleading as we finished just four points above 10th placed Preilu. Auda had an excellent year and they finished atop the division, gaining promotion to the top division of Latvia. RTU FC ended the year in second and just missed out on promotion having recently lost their playoff game. Rezeknes FA and Tukums were the two other sides who reached the playoff stage but they ended the year in 3rd and 4th. The point differential between ourselves in 6th position and 5th placed Grobinas was a staggering 17 points; which is a tad worrying when we consider the aim for next year would be to improve my league position. Latvijas kauss. Final League Position: First Round Played: 1 (W = 0, D = 0, L = 1)Goals Scored: 1, Goals Conceded: 3, Goal Difference: -2 This was the first time that I had entered into this competition and it could not have gone any worse. This tournament is essentially the only domestic cup competition in Latvia and follows a very straightforward format, with games being played over a single leg. The first round saw us drawn against fellow league side Alberts Riga but we unfortunately were unable to take advantage of a home tie and fell to a 3-1 defeat. The board had hoped that we reached the eighth final stage (essentially the last 16) but we got nowhere near this and I will definitely be looking to improve on this performance next season. PLAYER STATISTICS: We finished the season with a lowly two players holding an average rating of at least 7.0 or higher. A further three players managed a rating of 6.80 but the individual statistics definitely reflect the inconsistent team form that we endured throughout the season. Below are some key stats from my first Latvian campaign: Matiss Miezis finished as the clubs top scorer, netting 11 times throughout the course of the season. The only other two players who managed to record more than one club goal were Daniel Kursietis, nine goals in 15 appearances, and Aivars Emsis, four goals in 15 appearances. Two players tied for the leader in assists, both recording four, and they were right fullback Sergejs Vasiljevs and forward Daniel Kursietis. Young midfielder Davis Ikaunieks and left fullback Vjaceslavs Deruzinskis both recorded three assists each. Forward duo Matiss Miezis and Daniel Kursietis tied for the lead with two Player of the Match Awards alongside midfielder Davis Ikaunieks. Defensive midfielder Kaspars Sinelnikovs led the team with an impressive average of 4.04 tackles/game in his 15 appearances. Central defender Viktors Jurkovs led the way with 44 defensive interceptions. All-time Best XI: Given that Smiltene had no-one listed in their best XI prior to this season, it was unsurprising to see my most used side being named in the all-time side. Most of these players average ratings are not all that spectacular but the dynamic forward duo of Matiss Miezis and Daniel Kursietis have the potential to became historical great if they decide to stick around for long enough! PLAYER AWARDS: 1) Player of the Year: Matiss Miezis (ST) - 15 matches, 11 goals scored, 2 assists, 21 shots on target, 2 PoM Awards, Ave Rating: 7.20 Signed on a free transfer at the beginning of the year, Matiss Miezis was easily the clubs best player throughout the course of my first season. The 23 year old had a superb first season with Smiltene and netted 11 goals in just 15 club appearances. He converted over 50% of his shots on target, demonstrating a high level of finishing for this division. The youngster has very good ratings of pace and acceleration for this level of football. His technical attributes are nothing to get excited about but he has solid levels of dribbling, finishing and heading. He is pretty good off the ball and this leads to him causing headaches for defenders in the Komanda.lv Pirma Liga. 2) Defensive Player of the Year: Deniss Visockis (GK) - 12 matches, 24 goals conceded, 3 clean sheets, Ave Rating: 6.86 Given how embarrassing our defensive performances were it was very difficult to nominate anyone for this award but the most effective performer in the unit was young shot stopper Deniss Visockis. The 17 year old managed three clean sheets in his 12 appearances and, despite playing in front of a horrendous backline, he put in some solid performances between the sticks. As far as his attributes go, he is nothing special. He has poor agility and his goalkeeping stats are less than ideal. His handling is pretty good which helped to limit the amount of goalkeeping errors in that department but other than that, this is probably a position I should be looking to upgrade. 3) Midfield Player of the Year: Davis Ikaunieks (CM) - 15 matches, 1 goal scored, 3 assists, 15 key passes, 9 crosses connected, 2.25 tackles/game, Ave Rating: 6.77 Another teenager who stepped up and had a pretty good season was central midfielder Davis Ikaunieks. The 17 year old was given a starting role in the middle of the park and he grew into a very competent performer throughout the course of the year. He finished with a trio of assists and played 15 key passes in his 15 appearances, leading to him being the best playmaker in midfield at the club. He has pretty solid stamina which allows him to play at a high level throughout the course of every game. He is a very decent at free kicks, converting one this season, but he also has decent levels for passing, technique and vision, making him a pretty good playmaker at this level. 4) Attacking Player of the Year: Daniel Kursietis (ST) - 15 matches, 9 goals scored, 4 assists, 16 key passes, 16 shots on target, Ave Rating: 7.01 Playing alongside Matiss Miezis upfront, 19 year old Daniel Kursietis had an excellent first season at the club. The teenager scored nine goals in his 15 appearances but also played an effective role as a playmaker, contributing a team high four assists and playing an impressive 16 key passes. Only seven of his shots on target over the course of the season failed to find the back of the net, demonstrating a high level of forward play. Kursietis has an exceptional level of finishing for a team in this league. This coupled with his impressive dribbling and heading levels have made him a superb forward for our club and he helped to form one of the most devastating strike duos in the division this season. 5) Under-21 Player of the Year: Aivars Emsis (CAM) - 15 matches, 4 goals scored, 2 assists, 15 key passes, 78% pass completion, Ave Rating: 6.87 Given that most of the squad I used last season were probably aged under 21 this award could have gone to a number of players. The best remaining player who qualified for this honour though was definitely Aivars Emsis. The young shadow striker played a important role behind our formidable front two this season and collected four goals of his own whilst also completing 78% of his passes, demonstrating a superb ability to get the ball forward to our strikers. The 20 year old does not have much in the way of positive attributes, with just five categories being rated in at least double figures. He does have good natural fitness and a reasonable level of pace. His finishing is pretty decent but there are plenty of things that the youngster could improve on. FINAL THOUGHTS: This was a historical successful first season for FK Smiltene and we achieved a highest ever league finish in the Komanda.lv Pirma Liga. We looked very good going forward and finished with a very positive attacking record. The biggest struggle this year was keeping the ball out of our net, a weak defensive line was consistently exposed and our goalkeeper is not really up to the standard of playing football as a career. Some of our key players, including our dynamic front pairing, have received a great deal of interest over the past few weeks from other clubs. Given their amateur contract status, my ability to keep my star players at the club for next season is looking more and more unlikely. If we were to lose some of our main squad players we could be looking at a very tough season next year. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- For now though I will stick around at FK Smiltene, for next season at least, and see what we can do if I can keep my star player around. If we are to lose some of our key men then I think we could be in for a long, hard year in Latvia unfortunately. This first season has to be marked as a success though! We managed to exceed expectations and ended the year with a solid mid table finish whereby we easily avoided relegation. I hope you are all enjoying this series thus far and it is great to see so many superb stories on this forum this year!
  2. Update 3: September & October 2018 Club: FK Smiltene Division: Komanda.lv Pirma Liga My first two months in football management resulted in some very mixed results as we struggled to discover any sort of defensive consistency. I had so far managed to keep all my non-contracted players at the club but with growing interest in some of our better players the obvious worry is that not many of these names would be around come next year. That being said we still had eight league games to play in this league campaign and, having now likely avoided relegation, the aim was to finish as high up the table as possible to secure some decent prize money. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Komanda.lv Pirma Liga RESULTS: W = 3, D = 1, L = 4 Having lost four of my first eight games at Smiltene, my second two months of management resulted in a very similar looking record. We opened September with a fine away victory against the lowly Staicele before we played out the first scoreless match of my career, as we managed to hold on for a point against a decent Grobinas side. We then embarked on a run of four straight defeats which started with a very poor display against fellow strugglers Preilu. We were then thumped by high flying Auda in a 5-3 thriller before another high scoring game saw us come up just short against Alberts, the side who knocked us out of the cup earlier in the year. A 2-1 home defeat against RTU FC meant our poor run continued into October but we ended our winless streak with a 3-1 victory against bottom side Balvu. We completed the league season with a fine 1-0 victory over playoff contenders Tukums. Similarly to last month, we had no problem in finding the back of the net through these two months as we recorded 16 goals scored in just eight games. Unfortunately, our defensive frailties were just as obvious. We did somehow manage to keep a pair of clean sheets but the other six games saw us concede an embarrassing 16 goals. PLAYER STATISTICS: Our continued mixed form unsurprisingly meant that many of our players struggled on a individual basis. We did however manage to have two players who held an average rating of 7.0 come the seasons end, with a further three having a rating over 6.80. Our star man throughout the short season was undoubtedly Matiss Miezis (7.20). The young forward had an excellent first season with us and netted an impressive 11 goals in just 15 team appearances. His two Player of the Match Awards tied for the most in the squad and it was clear that he was playing at a much higher level then everyone else in this team. Defensively our struggles were highlighted throughout the season and no-one had that good a particularly good year. Young goalkeeper Deniss Visockis (6.86) actually played pretty well despite conceding a whole host of goals. Left fullback Vjaceslavs Deruzinskis (6.76) emerged as a pretty handy player through the final two months of the year, contributing three assists and playing 17 key passes. Teenage central defender Deniss Krizanovskis (6.75) also had a decent last eight games and led the team with 43 defensive interceptions in his 14 appearances. Right fullback Sergejs Vasiljevs (6.65) tied for the team lead with four assists. Our midfielders were less than impressive throughout the season but teenager Davis Ikaunieks (6.77) had a decent first year. The youngster had a solid all-round campaign, collecting three assists and averaging 2.25 tackles/game. Arturs Biders (6.72) also had a good season having joined at the beginning of the year and led the squad with 26 key passes played. Our attackers were easily the best unit in our squad this season. Daniel Kursietis (7.01) played excellently and formed a potent attacking pairing with star man Matiss Miezis. The 19 year old contributed nine goals of his own and added a team high four assists. Playing just behind our strike duo was Aivars Emsis (6.87) and the young shadow striker had a good season, netting four goals and leading the team with a 78% pass completion rate. STANDINGS: Despite our mixed form we managed to maintain our league position and hold onto a 6th placed finish. Things got pretty close at the end and defeat in our final game would have seen us finish in 8th. We were never in danger of getting relegated but that was mainly due to the fact that Balvu endured an absolutely terrible season themselves. The gap between ourselves in 6th and 5th placed Grobinas was a whopping 17 points, highlighting the difference between hose sides able to sign players on part-time contracts and those who, like us, can only get players on amateur deals. I was happy to finish above Alberts, who have quickly developed into a personal rival of mine - after beating them for my first ever managerial victory back in June they then knocked us out of the cup and then beat us 4-3 in the return league game. Audi finished atop the division and are definitely promoted to the top tier. RTU FC look favourites to join them but they will need to overcome Rezeknes FA and Tukums in the promotion playoffs to have the shot at gaining promotion. Our goal difference of -8 sat roughly in the middle with regards to the league average but the aim for next year will be to shore up our defensive unit. OTHER NEWS: I have a few bits of other news from the final two months of the season that I wished to share with you before wrapping up my first season in Latvia. Youth Intake September saw us receive my very first youth intake in Latvia and overall I was pretty happy with how this went. Given our facilities I was not expecting much but we received a few players who should be able to contribute straight away next season. There a lot of players here who have almost no current ability but we did receive three who should be able to contribute to the first team squad next season. Sergejs Korsakovs is a defensive midfielder who could easily compete for a spot in our starting eleven given the lack of depth there. Andrejs Zizilevs is a decent looking goalkeeper who is probably more talented than our number one from this season. The final player who I like the look of is central defender Jurgis Snarskis who my assistant believes could be one of the best players in the squad already. He has some pretty poor attributes but defensively he is pretty sound, with solid ratings for heading, marking and tackling. His physicals are also not too appalling for a player in this division and I think he could be a key man for us next season. I signed all three of the aforementioned youngsters as well as central midfielder Aleksandrs Nazarovs, who looks like a decent rotation man, and a couple of the players with five star potential ability - not that I expect them to ever reach that level... Club Records Our 5-3 defeat against Auda became the record highest scoring game in the Komanda.lv Pirma liga. It would have been nice to have been on the winning end of such a record but at least it highlights our ability to be exciting for all the neutrals watching. Finances When I joined the club our overall balance was just over £10,000 but our decent performance in the league the season saw us improve that somewhat. Our 6th placed league finish saw us receive a hefty prize fund of just over £12k. This has improved the overall club balance to £33k and should put us in a positive financial position going forward. I am not sure how to change the fact that I can only offer non-contract agreements but surely building up my bank balance is not going to hurt! ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- So that concludes my first season in Latvia with Smiltene. I will be back soon with a proper season review, including player awards, but for now I will leave saying that this first year has been somewhat successful. We easily avoided relegation and played some very nice attacking football. Defensively we were incredibly inconsistent and, if I am able to hold onto our better players, I will definitely need to address this in the offseason. Again, I hope you guys are enjoying this story thus far and looking forward to seeing what I can achieve here in Latvia.
  3. Update 1: June 2018 (Midseason Break) Club: FK Smiltene Division: Komanda.lv Pirma Liga So, by coincidence, I happened to join FK Smiltene right as the midseason break occurred. This was only a three week hiatus but it did see the transfer window open which meant I could have a look around for some squad additions and sort out a tactical system that suited the misfit bunch of players that I had inherited. As you may recall, we are a semi-professional team but it seems that most players are only willing to sign non-contract agreements, which is not very helpful with regards to player retention. I will use this update though to highlight the squad in an overview and have a look at some of the key players going into the second half of the league season. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- BOARD ROOM: First off, lets take a look at the financial aspects of the club. The overall club balance is just over £8,000, which is not very impressive, but at least we are not in debt. Unsurprisingly, our poor financial situation means I have almost nothing in terms of a budget to work with. I have no idea how I am spending £429 pw on wages when all my players are on youth contracts or non-contract agreements. I am assuming that figure must include staff wages? Anyway, zero pounds in the transfer budget and a lowly wage budget of just £639 p/w, which is due to be reduced to just £475 p/w upon the start of next season. Board Objectives (2018) Komanda.lv Pirma Liga - Avoid Relegation Latvijas kauss - Reach the Eighth Final Fortunately the board seem understanding of our financial limitations and have therefore set some fairly realistic goals for this coming season. In the league the aim is to avoid relegation which, given that only one team goes down, is definitely something that I think I can achieve. In the cup competition the board wish for me to reach the Eighth Final (which is essentially the last 16). This is definitely going to be more of a challenge, especially as we avoided non-league opponents and were drawn against a fellow Komanda.lv Pirma Liga side in the opening round. CLUB STAFF: Here is where my wage bill seems to be being spent... When I joined the club I had an assistant manager, a physio and a single scout. I did some research and was able to formulate a reasonable backroom, adding a Head of Youth Development and coaches for both goalkeeping and fitness. Everyone, apart from myself, is a Latvian national and I am the only one who does not speak Latvian or Russian... THE SQUAD: The squad when I arrived was appalling. It was full of very average newgens and a whole host of terrible youth players. I managed to do a bit of scouting around in Latvia and found a number of out of contract players that I was able to sign (I actually added 10 new faces). I will not list all the transfers separately here but I think it will be quite obvious who is new when you see the squad overview below. So this is the squad that I will be using to oversee our final 16 league games for this season (providing none of our non-contract players are lured away). As you can probably see, it is a proper mixed bag of talent with some decent looking players and some horrific individuals. Almost all of the good players were signed by me over the past few weeks but we still have no depth and a 5 star talent does not mean too much in comparison to the rest of the league. Goalkeepers: There are just two goalkeepers in the main squad and neither is that exciting. 25 year old Andrejs Skrebels is looking like my first choice but he is really poor; he has a rating of 5 for handling. The only other shot stopper I have is 17 year old youth academy player Deniss Visockis, who has plenty of potential but is definitely not ready for first team football right now. Andrejs Skrebels profile. Central Defenders: Alongside our goalkeepers, this is one of the weaker areas of the squad. I will be starting a pair of 16 year olds in the heart of our defence in the form of Deniss Krizanovskis and Dmitrijs Varpins, two of the more talented youngsters in the squad at the moment. The youth pairing will likely appear alongside the newly acquired Viktors Jurkovs in the first eleven. Jurkovs was a free agent having recently left RFS, from the top tier of Latvia, but the 20 year old is yet to make a professional appearance. It is likely that he will quickly become an important player for us. The only depth we currently have is Aleksandrs Soloha, and the less he plays the better I think. Viktors Jurkovs profile Fullbacks: This is another position where we have very little depth behind the two starting players. On the right side we will be starting the newly signed Sergejs Vasiljevs, who is another former top tier youth academy product who did not make it in the big leagues. He previously played for FS Metta, making 9 top tier appearances over the course of three seasons. He is one of the more talented players in our squad right now and starting opposite him will be another new signing, the excellently named Vjaceslavs Deruzinskis. Our two back-ups fullbacks, 20 year old Vladimirs Sorokins and 25 year old Vitalijs Lusins are nothing special. Sergejs Vasiljevs profile Central Midfielder: In the centre of midfield we have one standout player supported by a number of very average looking players. The key man here is definitely 20 year old Arturs Biders. The youngster joined on a free transfer recently and previously was on the books of FS Metta in the Latvian top league. He failed to make an appearance for his previous club but should become an integral part of our side. Behind him we have defensive midfielder Kaspars Sinelnikovs, who we recently signed from fellow league side Balvu. We again do not have much depth here, with teenagers Davis Ikaunieks and Aleksandrs Prohorenkovs providing some support. Arturs Biders profile Attackers: The area of our squad which is probably the strongest is the front line. I was able to sign a very talented attacking midfielder in the form of Aivars Emsis, a 20 year old who we signed from fellow league side JDFS Alberts. The youngster has 12 previous professional appearances and scored his first career goal earlier in the year for his former club. Alongside him I managed to sign a decent pair of forwards. Firstly I picked up 19 year old Daniel Kursietis who we signed on a free transfer from the Latvian lower leagues. We also were able to add Matiss Miezis, another former FS Metta player who will lead the line for us this year. The 22 year old is yet to score his first professional goal but I am hoping that changes soon. Matiss Miezis profile TACTICS: With no available wide players whatsoever, I had to develop a tactic that utilised a centralised nature. I am going to be using a fairly basic looking 4-4-2 Narrow Diamond, not something that I have utilised before but it is something born out of necessity given our squad makeup. I have previously used wingbacks to great effect on FM, overlapping and firing in crosses at will so this sort of narrow-minded approach is defeineitly a step into the unknown for me. I am going to play primarily on a cautious mentality, given the lack of skill in comparison to the rest of our division, but I do want to try and utilise a different nature because I am going to need some movement in the middle of the park in order to create any sort of attacking threat. I have also added a number of different team instructions, which you can see above, but the main aim is to soak up some pressure and catch opponents on a quick, central breakaway with lots of players breaking forward. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- So that concludes my introduction to life in Latvia. I am not overly looking forward to utilising a squad that relies entirely on non-contracted players because they are so easily poached by other clubs. I have a feeling that this venture into Latvian football could be a disaster! On paper, our squad is massively less talented than some of the bigger sides in the division and, without the ability to securely hold on to our better players, could prove tragic! I will be back very soon however with an update for the first few months of my time in charge! Hopefully you guys are looking forward to something a little different.
  4. Yay! Thanks for the comment Minuy. I am hoping that this adventure can be as exciting as that one had in Grenada!
  5. So I loaded up a number of different leagues, most of which were new ones made playable course of the excellent updates created by @claassen. I applied for number of jobs but my lack of previous experience (Sunday League Footballer) and no coaching badges meant that there were very few clubs interested in my services. I did receive a few job interviews in the likes of Estonia, Andorra and Moldova but I was unsuccessful in all of these! I eventually did find a suitor that felt like a suitable fit for James Yates. I would therefore like to introduce you to my very first managerial job as I embark on this European adventure. Welcome to FK Smiltene. Club Background: FK Smiltene are a semi-professional football club based in the Baltic nation of Latvia. They are situated in the northern city of Smiltene and were founded recently, in 2006, meaning they have a very limited footballing history. They are yet to win any significant piece of silverware and have never competed in the top division of Latvian football. Their league season had already begun when I joined, the club having already played six league games. They currently hold a 0.5 star, regional, reputation rating, making them one of the least known footballing teams in the whole of Europe. Facilities: My new club play their home games in the 1,875 capacity Tepera Stadium. Despite a fairly sizeable capacity and the fact that the club do actually own their own stadium, the ground itself is in a poor condition. The pitch is actually in a very good condition but it is of a synthetic nature as opposed to the more traditional grass fields. In terms of other facilities, there is not much to write home about. The senior and youth teams training facilities are both classed as poor, so I cannot imagine that we will be seeing too many improvements to players through training sessions. I also do not have too much hope for our youth intakes in the near future as our junior coaching (minimal) and youth recruitment (limited) are both way below where I would like them to be. Competitions: The main reason I prefer playing these types of saves, using previously unplayable nations, is because I get to experience competitions that I previously have never heard of. Arriving in Latvia, this season will see me get to manage in two, brand new, competitions. The first of these is the second domestic league of Latvia, the Komanda.lv Pirma Liga. The Latvian second tier is currently ranked as the 163rd best division in Europe, below the likes of Czech Republic 4th Division and the third tier of Belarus - the standard of football here is not very impressive. The league itself consists of 12 teams who all play each other twice across the course of the season, for a total of just 22 league games. The top four teams qualify for the promotion playoff, the winner of which gains promotion to the top division of Latvia. Only one side goes down, with just the side finishing bottom being relegated. The league campaign runs from April to October, with the offseason occurring over the winter months. In terms of league rules, there is only one that might limit selection. The first is that only five foreign players are allowed to be registered at any one time, not that I imagine I will be attracting too many of those to the second tier of Latvia. The past few seasons have seen a variety of clubs perform well in the Latvian second tier, although of few of these no longer exist (for a number of reasons). Of the recent winners, both Babite and Gulbene are now actually playing in the lower leagues whilst Valmiera are currently battling against relegation in their first ever season in the top division. The one success story has been that of 2015 champions Riga FC, who have not only kept themselves in the top division but they are currently pushing for a first ever title. The 2018 Komanda.lv Pirma Liga has already kicked off and things are not going too brilliantly for us. The media had predicted an 11th placed finish and we are, unfortunately, living up to expectations having one just once in our first six league games. The aim for me will be to avoid relegation and then rebuild over the course of the coming offseason. All the clubs in this division are semi-professional but most have mixture of players on full-time, part-time and amateur contracts. My first league game will see me take on 2nd placed Auda, in a game that has the potential to be very one sided... The other competition that we will be entering into is the Latvijas kauss, the main domestic cup competition in Latvia. This cup runs from June through till October and follows a very simple knockout format. 30 teams enter into the first round and, with no replays, a winner is decided by extra time and then a penalty shootout if scores are level after 90 minutes. We have received a tough first round game, as we missed out on a non-league opponent and instead were drawn against fellow league side Alberts. This cup competition has been won by top division sides over the past five years, with Ventspils holding the current record number of cup victories with 7. It is also worth noting that the winners of this cup competition get to qualify for the Europa League. Latvian Football: As previously mentioned the standard of domestic football in Latvia is pretty poor, with the top division of the nation being ranked the 98th best in Europe. The most reputable side is the aforementioned Ventspils but the next best teams are probably RFS and Spartaks Jurmala. International football in Latvia is also nothing noteworthy unfortunately. The senior national side are currently ranked 129th in the FIFA world rankings and are in Group D of the UEFA Nations League. They have never before qualified for a World Cup and have only reached the European Championships on one occasion, back in 2004. The senior squad is currently managed by Finnish national Mixu Paatelainen, formerly of Dundee United and Kilmarnock in Scotland. There are a couple of decent veteran players in the team, led by 38 year old goalkeeper Andris Vanins (FC Zurich, Switzerland). 24 year old forward Davis Ikaunieks (FK Jablonec, Czech Republic) and 20 year old striker Roberts Uldrikis (Sion, Switzerland) are two of the brightest youngsters in the side. 18 year old central defender Roberts Veips is probably the most exciting player to come through the national set-up in a while and he is currently contracted to Sampdoria in Italy. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- So that concludes my introduction to my brand new managerial position at FK Smiltene in Latvia. I am expecting this save to be a little bit different from the other things I have done before on FM so I am excited to get going. I am worried that I have selected a very tough place to begin my journey, given the clubs semi-professional status and seeming notion that I will only be able to hand out amateur contracts at this stage. I really hope you guys are looking forward to this save and, as was the case last year, I will be including a fair amount of detail in every update! I will be back soon with a club preview detailing players, tactics and everything else that you need to know going into my first season with FK Smiltene.
  6. Hello everyone! Some of you may know who I am (although I am sure most of you do not). I most recently wrote a story on this forum from last years version of the game where I managed Mount Rich in Grenada alongside the Kenyan national team. That save was possible thanks to the excellent work of @claassen and his brilliant updates which allowed previously unplayable nations to be playable in game. He has been back at work again this year and has recently completed a European Megapack for FM19. I have downloaded this and decided that the focus for this save will be a European journeyman, where I start unemployed and attempt to pass through as many of these new nations as I can. There is no real main aim for this story, although I will be keeping track of Hall of Fame points and of the number of trophies (if any) that I win along the way. The primary focus is going to be to experience a number of different leagues and set-ups that I previously never have on FM, whilst at some point looking to win the UEFA Champions League final. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 1. The Worldwide Managerial Hall of Fame: Current Leader: Sir Alex Ferguson (Score: 4890) Currently 20th: Udo Lattek (Score: 1868) Current Nation Leader: Roman Grygorchuk (Score: 80) Current James Yates Score: 0 2. Trophy Cabinet: ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- THE STORY SO FAR: 2018 - FK Smiltene Komanda.lv Pirma Liga Midseason 2018. July & August 2018. League Position: 6th September & October 2018. Final League Position: 6th End of Season Review.
  7. Thanks rodesire! I'm pleased you like the detail. It does mean it takes me a little longer to get through things in comparison to other saves on here but good to know you appreciate it!
  8. Update 59: July & August 2024 Club: O'Higgins Fútbol Club Division: Campeonato Loto The previous update, which was written quite a while ago, saw us enter the midseason break atop the league albeit courtesy of a better goal difference. We had been playing well but a few too many drawn games had seen a number of other sides drag themselves into contention for a league title and a possible promotion to the top division of Chile. This update will contain all the news from our midseason exploits as well as covering our return to league action and the start of the Chilean domestic cup competition. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- As previously mentioned, the Campeonato Loto has a one month midseason break and during that time teams are permitted to sell and buy players. There are a few limitations, with the main one being that teams are only permitted to sign three players maximum. TRANSFERS: A number of our top players had been attracting interest from teams in the Chilean top division and this had led to quite a bit of unrest amongst the squad. In the end I made the decision to jettison some of our key men, those who the majority of squad felt should be allowed to leave, and this meant three names were out of the club. (Out) All three of these guys should be recognisable. The first, Claudio Sepulveda, had been spending a lot of time training with the Under-19s after his desire to leave the club sparked some rathe large protests from his teammates. The midfielder come central defender had made just one league appearance for us this season and was allowed to leave, eventually joining Deportes Puerto Montt in the top division for a bargain fee. We then also allowed Argentinian defender Gaston Varela to depart. The 26 year old was a valuable player for us this year but he wanted to leave and, given the foreign player restrictions that we are under, I thought it best to sell him as well. He joins Mineros in the Mexican second tier for a fee of £85k. Finally, and perhaps most significantly, we allowed forward Carlos Villanueva to depart. The 25 year old scored 18 goals last season but had struggled to hit the same heights this time around, netting just twice in eight appearances as injuries had derailed the start of his year. The talented striker joined Union San Felipe in the Chilean top tier for a £200k feee, the highest that I have received for a single player on this save thus far! (In) In response to selling a trio of players we signed three new bodies as replacements. The first was Jorge Carrasco, a 19 year old Chilean fullback who is equally comfortable playing on the right and left flank. He is yet to make a professional appearance, having come through the youth system of Universidad Catolica in the top division. It is likely that he will spend the majority of this season in the Under 19s squad with he view to becoming a rotational option in the future. The other two signings were both pretty significant! The first man we picked up was Argentinian attacking midfielder Joaquin Pereyra. The 25 year old was available on a free transfer after his contract with Union Huaral, of the Peruvian top division, expired. He made 40 league appearances last year for his old club side and looks to be an excellent fit within our system, possessing the ability to play as a central midfielder, as an advanced playmaker or even as a forward. He is already valued at an impressive £525k and looks to be an absolute steal for a side such as ours. He will replace the recently departed Gaston Varela as our fourth registered foreign player. The final player we signed was done so for a fee of £175k, the most I have ever paid for a player on this save so far. Diego Rojas is a player very much in the same mould as Carlos Villanueva and I am expecting him to play a similar role within our tactic. The 29 year old signs from Universidad Catolica, where he scored four goals in 21 league appearances in the top division of Chile last year. I will look to play him just behind our two forwards and take advantage of his exceptionally well-rounded attribute set, which includes strong ratings for passing, dribbling, crossing and technique. Campeonato Loto RESULTS: W = 4, D = 1, L = 1 Just the six league games through the end of July and all of August. During this run we came very close to putting together a nice unbeaten run but a final defeat saw us undo some strong work straight after the midseason break. We kicked off July with an absolutely remarkable result, and one of the best of my managerial career this far, as we absolutely demolished Deportes La Serena in a game that saw the top two sides in the division clash. As you may recall, we were only ahead of our rivals on goal difference going into this one and so I was expecting a tougher contest. We won our next game, a home victory against a talented Union Espanola side, before dropping a couple of points in a 2-2 draw with Palestino. We were quickly back to winning ways with a pair of impressive victories over Universidad de Concepcion and San Marcos de Arica respectively before a disappointing defeat against lowly Deportes Santa Cruz ruined what was otherwise a very good run. Despite failing to score in our final fixture, our attacking ability was a joy to behold during this run as we managed to score an impressive 16 goals. We only managed a pair of clean sheets though, showing that our defensive play definitely needs some improvement if we want to prevent anymore costly drawn games as the final games of the season get started. Copa Chile RESULTS: Alongside league fixtures, August also saw the start of the only domestic cup competition of Chile. The Copa Chile is a very simple knockout tournament, with each round consisting of two legged fixtures and the aggregate winner progressing onto the next stage. In the opening round of the Copa Chile we were drawn against a side from the top division, Union La Calera. Although being in the league above us, this was not the worst draw ever as our opponents were struggling in their league campaign, currently sitting in 13th position. First Round: vs Union La Calera (Campeonato Nacional Scotiabank) A fine home performance set us up brilliantly and we easily progressed to the next round. The first game saw us take an early lead when new signing Diego Rojas netted his first goal for the club. Ivan Sandoval grabbed a second goal midway through the first period and rangy targetman Claudio Ibarra headed home in the second half to help secure an excellent 3-0 victory whereby we had 57% possession and had 23 total shots in comparison to our opponents 8. The second leg saw us once again produce a solid attacking display and record another deserved victory. We took the lead after 20 minutes when Felipe Hormazabal, a youngster from last seasons academy intake, rattled home an excellent 25 yard screamer which was also his first ever professional goal. Juan Magana slammed home a header from a corner shortly after to put the game beyond doubt and, despite a late consolation, we easily won the tie with a 5-1 aggregate scoreline. We actually reached the quarterfinals of this competition last season and we are now just one more aggregate victory away from repeating that feat this year. Check out who we were drawn against in the second round further down in this update. PLAYER STATISTICS: We are now over halfway through the league season and our excellent attacking performances have seen 14 of our players now hold an average match rating of at least 7.0. The key man is definitely young Brazilian forward Rhuan (7.55) who looks far too talented for this level of football. The striker has scored 23 goals in just 23 club appearances and has collected a very impressive seven Player of the Match Awards. In defence, our trio of talented fullbacks have been excellent. Dilan Zuniga (7.24), young Venezuelan Luis Schoonewolff (7.20) and Gaston Zuniga (7.17) have all had excellent seasons. Our tactical system relies on our fullbacks to contribute to the attacking phases of play and all three of the aforementioned players have done so, contributing 16 total assists between them this year. Juan Magana (7.06) leads all central defenders with 84 defensive interceptions whilst youngster Luis Soriano (7.09) has become a regular in the starting eleven despite only joining the club from the youth academy late last season. In addition, goalkeeper Bernardo Orrego (7.06) has cemented his place as the clubs number one shot stopper. Our midfielders have not been outstanding, although the emergence of youngster Felipe Hormazabal (7.55) has been a bright spot and the youth product has impressed in his eight first team appearances. Florindo (6.97) has had a fairy solid season without ever being overly spectacular whilst Ivan Sandoval (6.95) has scored four goals and collected 32 key passes, the most of any non-forward player. New signing Joaquin Pereyra (6.55) has been limited since joining the club and has not quite settled yet. In attack we have developed a formidable duo in the shape of Rhuan and targetman Claudio Ibarra (7.32). Ibarra, who does an excellent job of holding the ball up and bringing other players into play, has collected 8 goals of his own whilst also leading the squad with 37 key passes played. New signing Diego Rojas (7.49) has made an excellent start to his O'Higgins career, scoring three goals and collecting three assists in just eight appearances. STANDINGS: Our victory over Deportes La Serena at the start of this update means we have managed to open up a small advantage atop the division but it is only just two points. We have managed to open up a bit of a gap over 3rd placed Nublense, currently eight points, and the prospect of finishing in the top two is becoming more of a possibility. Union Española have shown remarkable improvements since the midseason break and they have flown up the table to a 6th placing thus far. San Antonio Unido, who gained promotion into this league last year, have had a decent year and currently find themselves in 7th despite losing 10 games. Things are not looking good for Rangers de Talca, who currently sit bottom, and for Independiente who are now five points adrift of 14th placed Deportes Santa Cruz. Our excellent attacking play is clearly highlighted by our dominant goal difference, a league leading +27, and our 47 goals scored. We are definitely in the hunt for a promotion chance and a possible league crown with just nine fixtures left to play. OTHER NEWS: After a fairly hectic midseason break and some excellent league performances I also have some extra news to fill everyone in on. Injuries We kick things off with some bad news, namely a few more injury worries. We lost a pair of midfielders midway through August with back-up man Bastian Araneda damaging his neck before new signing Joaquin Pereyra picked up a thigh strain which has limited his impact at the start of his O'Higgins career. Records You may remember that we opened this update with a rather impressive 6-1 demolition of title rivals Deportes La Serena and what I failed to mention was that that fixture contained an unbelievable individual performance. Rhuan, who has been a scoring machine for us this season, smashed the club and league records for number of goals in a game as he managed to find the back of the net an astonishing five times! He scored his first in stoppage time at the end of the opening half before netting four goals in just 23 second half minutes. Copa Chile Draw Having made it through the opening round of the Copa Chile we found ourselves in the hat for the second round and we received a fairly favourable tie as we were matched up with Deportes Santa Cruz. These are the guys who managed to beat us in the final league game of August but they are having a pretty poor league season on a whole, currently sitting in 14th position just above the drop zone. This fixture will not only give us a chance at redemption following our recent league defeat but it should give us a solid chance at reaching a second successive quarterfinals in this competition. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- So that concludes a fairly lengthy update and one that has seen a number of our top players depart whilst we have still managed to hold on to our top position in the league, albeit only just. With just nine league games left to play, the prospect of a first domestic trophy in Chile is becoming ever increasingly more realistic and James Yates is on the verge of winning promotion for the first time in his managerial career. I will be back soon with a final season update detailing our league progress and Copa Chile performances hopefully very soon!
  9. Thanks! It is a weird division, with loads of teams being of similar strengths. Even stranger is that the top tier has a number of sides who, on paper, look far weaker than some of the clubs in our league. The difficulty is getting promoted, with only one side being granted an automatic route into the first division. I think I will stick to club management only for now but I would love to return to the Caribbean for some international management one day. I have been keeping tabs on the Grenada position for ages but the manager has been in charge since the start of this save (and does not look like leaving any time soon).
  10. Update 58: April & May 2024 Club: O'Higgins Fútbol Club Division: Campeonato Loto A fine start to the league season in Chile saw us top the division following five victories in our first eight games. We managed to put together some very impressive attacking displays but a number of injuries had dented our form slightly and led to growing inconsistencies in terms of performances. With the midseason break fast approaching, we had two months until the halfway stage of this new league season, my first full year in charge of O'Higgins. This update will cover the league results from those two months and look at the player performances for this season as a whole. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Campeonato Loto RESULTS: W = 3, D = 4, L = 0 We were successful in maintaining our unbeaten run but the curse of the Chilean draw struck us hard as we tied four of our seven league games. I have mentioned previously that this league seems to produce a high proportion of drawn games in comparison to other leagues I have played in and in fact, drawing too many games was our downfall last year. Up until this point we had successfully avoided too many ties contests but at one point we drew four consecutive fixtures resulting in a lot of lost points. We kicked the month of April off with a superb 4-0 drubbing against a struggling Coquimbo Unido side before our run of drawn contests took over. Firstly we failed to score against mediocre Independiente team despite dominating the contest before we then drew 1-1 against a Santiago Morning team who were battling at the top of the division. Our next two fixtures saw us record another two score draws against a pair of top-half teams. We ended May back on track with a 4-1 home victory over CD Naval before only just managing to overcome a Rangers de Talca side who were right at the foot of the league table. Our attacking form from the previous months failed to continue and although we did score 13 goals, eight of them came over the course of just two matches. Defensively we were actually pretty good, conceding just five goals over this run of seven fixtures, but we were unable to keep clean sheets when it mattered the most! PLAYER STATISTICS: At the midway stage of the season we have an impressive nine players who hold an average rating of at least 7.0. The best performer again is newly signed forward Rhuan (7.47). The young Brazilian was unable to maintain the blistering scoring pace that he started out the league season with but he has still been superb and currently has 14 goals in just 15 appearances to go alongside a team-high four Player of the Match Awards. Defensively our fullbacks have been very impressive. Injuries have meant that both right fullbacks, Gaston Zuniga (7.13) and Dilan Zuniga (7.13) have got plenty of playing time opposite left-sided Venezuelan Luis Schoonewolff (7.12). The trio between them have contributed nine assists whilst Schoonewolff leads the team with 24 crosses connected. In the middle of the defence, last seasons youth academy product Luis Soriano (7.11) has been excellent in his debut season, collecting 40 defensive interceptions and scoring his first professional goal. Goalkeeper Bernardo Orrego (7.03) has had a solid season between the sticks whilst Gaston Varela (7.01) has proved he is very capable playing as a central defender. The standout in the centre of midfield has definitely been Sebastian Galani (7.14). The versatile player has scored two goals, played 16 key passes whilst also averaging 5.12 tackles/game. Brazilian Florindo (6.90) as had a solid, if not spectacular, season thus far but he has also proved a reliable ball-winner as he averages 4.17 tackles/game. In attack, Rhuan has been supported well my young targetman Claudio Ibarra (7.47). The 6'6" giant might not score many goals, four in 13 appearances, but he provides for his teammates and he currently leads the squad in assists and key passes played. Ivan Sandoval (6.97) finally seems to be settling into his role following some early season injuries and the attacking midfielder has notched three goals and played 25 key passes in his 14 appearances. STANDINGS: Despite drawing four games we still manage to retain top spot in the Campeonato Loto, albeit only via goal difference. Santiago Morning have slipped away and Deportes La Serena have emerged as our new title rivals having the same win, draw, loss record as us. Universidad de Concepcion are just two further points back with another three sides then all within five points of our top position, meaning this league really is anyones for the taking at this point. Rangers de Talca are already looking in a spot of trouble at the halfway stage, having collected just six points, and they will need a miracle second portion of the season to stave off relegation. Our six draws are crazily high but it still is not the most in the division as Union Espanola, who are down from the top division this year, have draw eight of their opening 15 games. Our +16 goal difference is the best in the league however and we just need to make sure that we can turn some of these potential draws into victories and we should once again be able to build a lead atop the division. OTHER NEWS: Not too much other news to report on. The midseason break does see the opening of the transfer window and a number of our players are tracking interest from teams in the top division of Chile, meaning it is looking like we may have to do some selling. Injuries The injury bug seems to not want to leave us as we firstly lost starting right fullback Dilan Zuniga to a broken lower arm. Luckily for us, Gaston Zuniga is a superbly capable backup at the right back spot and so this was not a huge loss but it was another injury to another fullback. We then lost another defender when Diego Oyarzun, one of our back-up central defenders, went down with a damaged foot. I thought I had done a good job during the offseason of building up depth but injuries seem to have hammered us hard this year and a couple of the youth players have had to step up and lay first team games unfortunately. International Selections My previous club job saw my players receive constant international news as almost everyone at Mount Rich became involved in the Grenada national side. At O'Higgins the opposite is true, mainly due to the strength of the Chilean national team but also because we are currently a second tier side. That being said we did receive some exciting news in that Luis Soriano, our youth product from last season, was called up to the Chile U20s team whilst newly signed Luis Schoonewolff was once again included in the Venezuelan U21 set-up. It is always fun to see my players competing on the international stage and the experience can only benefit the youngsters in the long-term. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- So that concludes the final two months of this league season prior to the midway break. I am permitted to make some new signings, maximum of three, and I may well have to do so if we lose some of our better players to more lucrative offers from teams in the top division. The league itself is going well but, despite only losing one game, we only top the table on goal difference whilst there are a whole host of teams poised and motivated to knock us off the top spot. We will have to make sure this habit of drawing games does not continue when we get back to league action in late July, otherwise we could quickly see ourselves slide down the table; something I do not plan on doing given that the aim for this year is a promotion push!
  11. Update 57: February & March 2024 Club: O'Higgins Fútbol Club Division: Campeonato Loto After a short, fairly productive offseason we get started with the new league campaign. The Chilean league season begins in February and runs all the way through to the start of November, so things are pretty busy here all the time. This update will cover how we get on in the early stages of the Campeonato Loto and, with the Copa Chile not starting till after the midseason break, this competition will be my sole focus for the time being. The media are predicting us to easily top the division and the board are expecting a playoff spot as a minimum, so the pressure is on to see if James Yates can manage a club outside of the Caribbean. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- TRANSFERS: Although the Chilean transfer window had closed we were still able to sell players to clubs from abroad. (Out) One name who I had been trying to ship since the start of this season was fullback Raphinha. The 30 year old Brazilian had joined the club in January but missed out on the final squad registration due to my foreign player limitations. Despite only being with us for three months, and never playing a competitive game, we were able to sell the veteran for a fee of £38k, potentially rising to £47k. Not a bad bit of business I think! Enough of other news, lets crack on with some league results! Campeonato Loto RESULTS: W = 5, D = 2, L = 1 Not a terrible start to the league season, as we ended March on a seven game unbeaten run. We had a shocking opening day as we fell to a crushing defeat at home to Deportes La Serena, a rather unremarkable side but one that made us look pretty average. We followed up this humiliating loss with a 2-2 away draw against a Union Espanola side who had come down from the top division, throwing away a two goal advantage and meaning we collecting just one point from our first two games. We responded very well though, going on a run of three straight victories, including a very impressive 3-0 away win against a talented Palestino side. We did record a poor 0-0 draw midway through March but then ended the run with a pair of victories, including a 3-2 away win against another relegated side in the form of Curico Unido. Our attacking tactic, the one I had used previously in Grenada and with the Kenyan national team, worked a treat in terms of going forward and we record an impressive tally of 18 goals scored. Defensively we were a bit of a mixed bag, recording three clean sheets but then conceding 10 goals in the other five contests. PLAYER STATISTICS: This is the first time that the O'Higgins statistics reflect solely my influence at the club, having joined midway through the league year last time out. Some good performances to start the year have seen eight of our players hold a rating of at least 7.0. One man has stood out amongst the rest so far this year. Newly signed Brazilian forward Rhuan (8.08) has been an absolute revelation up top and has scored 11 goals in just eight league appearances. His four Player of the Match Awards are easily the most in the squad and the youngster has quickly become one of the most efficient forwards in the division. Defensively, another new signing has been impressing. Right fullback Dilan Zuniga (7.26) has had a great start to his O'Higgins career, providing a pair of assists alongside 15 key passes played and 22 crosses connected. The other most impressive defensive player thus far has been Luis Soriano (7.23). The youth academy product from last season has been inserted into the starting line-up and has played brilliantly, leading the way with 24 defensive interceptions. Argentinian defender Gaston Varela (7.03), who played in midfield last year, has been solid in his new role whilst young Venezuelan fullback Luis Schoonewolff (6.95) has had a good start to his career. Goalkeeper Bernardo Orrego (7.00) has retaken the first eleven goalkeeper spot after some impressive performances to start the year. Our midfielders have not been overly impressive although Sebastian Galani (7.05) has been the top player, playing 15 key passes thus far. Brazilian ball-winner Florindo (6.95) has also been fairly solid and is averaging an impressive 4.39 tackles/game. Rhuan has obviously been the superstar in attack but he has been effectively supported by youngster Claudio Ibarra (7.57). The 6'6" targetman has proved to be a real handful for opposition defenders and leads the team in chances created, with 12. The 20 year old has scored two goals, and provided another two, whilst playing the supporting role alongside the Brazilian. Carlos Villanueva (7.18) has been a bit limited in terms of first team performances having recently returned from injury but he has already collected four assists from his four league appearances. STANDINGS: Our solid start to the new league season sees us end March atop the Campeonato Loto! We are one of five sides in the league who have lost just one game but, unlike last year, we have managed to avoid the huge number of drawn games that seem to plague the division. Our five victories are the most in the division and we currently hold a two point lead ahead of Santiago Morning, whilst we are then four points ahead of third placed Deportes La Serena. In the whole division there have already been 18 drawn fixtures, with newly relegated side Union Espanola proving the biggest affected having drawn six of their opening eight games. We also have the best goal difference, +8, at this early stage and if we can sort out our defensive inconsistencies then we could potentially remain atop the division for a while longer! OTHER NEWS: Not too much in terms of other news following the early transfer outgoings. Squad Dynamics We did have a bit of squad unrest early on in the league campaign as Claudio Sepulveda demanded a transfer. The midfielder turned central defender caused a lot of problems with regards to squad dynamics as he got a lot of the other players to support his campaign for a move away. At first I was reluctant but when other players started to get involved I decided to give him what he wanted. We finalised a deal with Nublense in our division but Sepulveda then rejected personal terms, meaning he is now still in our squad, constantly moaning about not being able to move away. I then decided to relegate him to training with the U19 squad and he has not made a first team appearance since opening day. Luckily, everyone else in the squad seems to have forgotten about him and our recent fine form has restored morale. Injuries Following a flurry of injuries during the preseason we were once again unable to stave off the injury bug. Firstly we lost two fullbacks, with back-up right back Gaston Zuniga suffering a severe twisted ankle and then Venezuelan Luis Schoonewolff dislocating his jaw during a league fixture. This massively dented our wide play and at one point we had just one fully fit fullback but luckily they are back to full fitness. We then suffered another huge blow late in March when Carlos Villanueva, who had just returned from a preseason knock he picked up, went own with a double hernia. Our key man from last year will again miss another run of league fixtures and, even this early on, it is looking like this might be a troublesome season for the attacking star. Mount Rich I have not reported much on Mount Rich since I moved to Chile but I noticed one very exciting piece of news from my former Grenadian club. As you might recall, I won the CFU Club Championship during my last action with Mount Rich and that title victory meant the club qualified for the next edition of the CONCACAF Champions League. That tournament has only just begun and, in the opening round, my former club recorded one of the best results in their history. In the first leg they managed a 1-1 draw against MLS side New York City thanks to a goal from Kyle Thomas. Granted they did lose the second leg 3-0 but this was an excellent performance and it is pleasing to see my old side still doing well. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- So that concludes my first two months of the new league season with O'Higgins. Our attacking play has been impressive and led to a league-high goal difference which has aided us in reaching the top of league at this early stage. There is still a very long way to go but things are looking positive early on as we push for a possible promotion chance. I could do with avoiding the injury curse as the season progresses. We do have some depth but if we keep suffering big injuries to major players then ur league form will unlikely be able to be maintained.
  12. Thanks again for your continued support rodesire! We are definitely set for a promotion push but this league looks very competitive and could cause us some issues!
  13. Update 56: Preseason 2024 Club: O'Higgins Fútbol Club Division: Campeonato Loto Having joined my new club side back in June 2023, I never really had time to organise things the way I wanted them. Granted I did get to play through a midseason break, which allowed me to install a new tactic and make a few additions to the squad but this full preseason would allow me to really start moulding things in my image. This update will take a look at the staff members, transfer activity, squad overview and friendly results as I take O'Higgins into the 2024 season. The aim for this year is to make a solid promotion push and we definitely have the tools to do so! ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- BOARD ROOM: Despite being stuck in the second division of Chile for quite a while now, the financial side of things at O'Higgins is all fairly positive. I was able to request facility upgrades (see previous update) and over overall club balance is still good, with £2.2 million in the bank. This healthy financial outlook means the board have, once again, handed me a very solid looking budget: Both of these figures are similar to what I inherited last year and both are far more than I am probably likely to need. I have not had such a large transfer budget at my disposal for a while but I am always reluctant to spend money without scouting a player properly. I view myself as more of a low-risk taker, signing free agents and negating the financial risk associated with signing players from other clubs. That being said, maybe I should look to use the financial backing I am being given to develop a squad that should totally blow away the competition in this league. Board Objectives (2024) Campeonato Loto - Reach the Playoff Copa Chile - Reach the Second Round Having spent just half a season in charge the board are already pilling on the pressure and expect us to finish in the top two for this upcoming season. Whilst that is also an aim that I would like to achieve, it is likely going to be easier said than done given the small gap in quality between many sides in the Campeonato Loto. In terms of the Copa Chile, the board would like us to at least win our first round matchup, a feat we did manage to achieve last year. CLUB STAFF: I spent a bit of time in the offseason attempting to upgrade the clubs backroom staff. Whilst most of the personnel here were of higher quality than those I had utilised in Grenada with Mount Rich, I felt like there were a number of positions that could be upgraded further and this led to a number of new hirings. Assistant manager Luis Flores Manzor kept his job, having been with the club since 2019 but I hired a new Head of Youth Development in the form of Chilean national Claudio Munoz. The new man has a determined personality which I hope will rub off on the new young players that he manages to bring through in September. I also hired a trio of new coaches, all Argentinians, in the form of Walter De Lemos (goalkeeping), Gaston Biain (fitness) and Norberto Batista (general). All three have exceptional attributes and should bolster the training effects of our squad with Batista, the former assistant manager at Boca Juniors, especially looking like an excellent addition. The physio and scouting departments remain the same from last season. TRANSFERS: Now we can get on tot he exciting stuff, the transfers. (Out) We will start my looking at the players who left the club and a quick glance over these lists reveals that some prominent first teasers from last year departed. In terms of those released on a free, the only two of note are Sebastian Silva and Tomas Alarcon, with the others all being failed youth players. Silva operated as our back-up anchorman last year but his advancing years, 33 years old, meant that he was allowed to leave. He has since retired and is currently looking for work as a Head of Youth Development. Alarcon was a back-up central defender who appeared in just five league games last season. He has, weirdly, since joined Deportes Vallenar in the top division but I cannot envision him getting much playing time. In addition to releasing players we also sold a few. First off was Argentinian fullback Gustavo Mbombaj, who was one of the better players from last year and one I signed during the midseason break. The 32 year old became a victim of my foreign player limit and unfortunately I had to let him go, which I am hoping is not a massive mistake. We also allowed back-up right fullback Oscar Tunessi to depart. The Argentine was never going to be registered as one of our four foreign players and was getting paid way too much so he was also allowed to leave on a free. The final two departures could turn out to be massive losses. Firstly we allowed Bryan Figueroa to leave for Everton de Vina in the countries top tier. I had signed the advanced midfielder midway through last season and he had an excellent few moths with the club but unfortunately his form attracted a lot of interest from higher ranked sides. As soon as offers started coming in he became very adamant that a move away was what he wanted and eventually I settled for selling him for double what we paid six months ago. The final player out was last years Player of the Season, Ruben Farfan. The ageing forward drew lots of interest and when Oriente Petrolero, from Bolivia, came in with a £140k bid I could not turn it down. Granted, this might have been a huge mistake but I decided to cash in on a player who's attributes were already starting to decline. The veteran ended the league campaign with an average rating of 7.30 last year and he will definitely prove difficult to replace. (In) It is not all doom and gloom though as I ended up signing nine new replacements who I am very excited about. Lets start with the bad first. I signed 30 year old Brazilian fullback Raphinha right at the start of the window and he looked to be a solid addition. Unfortunately, my temptation for foreign players took over and he became the odd man out in terms of squad registration meaning he currently cannot play in league fixtures and I am looking to source him loan move, otherwise he might be released straight away! I signed a pair of 18 year old Brazilians in the form of central midfielders Anderson and Albano Colachequi. Both have substantial potential and will play in the U19 squad this season where they can hopefully develop and then potentially contribute to the first team in the future. I also signed Gonzalo Candia, a 29 year old attacking midfielder who played in the league below ours last year. He should operate as a fairy reliable back-up option in the midfield. I also grabbed Gerson Godoy from Barnchea in the league below us. The 18 year old Chilean defensive midfielder looks like an excellent prospect for the future and he will likely be heavily involved in first team affairs this coming season. Then came the more exciting additions. Late in the window I picked up Ivan Sandoval on a free transfer. The 28 year old signed a cheap contract and, whilst not as talented, he should provide a solid replacement in the starting eleven for the departed Bryan Figueroa. Sandoval has played his entire career with Cobresal in the Campeonato Loto where he made 208 appearances and averaging a solid rating of 6.98 last year. We also brought in a new fullback in the form of 27 year old Dilan Zuniga. The versatile defender, who can operate on either the left or right flank joined from top division side Addax Italiano where he had made just two first team appearances the previous season. He will likely compete for the starting job on the right flank but has a set of attributes that look really adept to the tactical approach that we want to play. We then ended up spending some money, albeit not very much, as we signed Brazilian forward Rhuan. The young poacher had spent the past three seasons on loan in Armenia, of all places, where he managed to score 22 goals in the countries top division. He hopefully now has found a permanent home, leading the attacking line for us in Chile, and he looks set to operate as a prototypical poacher. He lacks height, and any ability in the air to be honest, but he has the pace, dribbling and finishing required to be a threat in this league. Finally, I spent my largest feee of this save yet to bring in 18 year old fullback Luis Schoonewolff. The Venezuelan has played a few times for his U21 national side and joins us from his native country. He played 32 times in the Venezuelan second division last year and looks set to take over from the departed Gaston Mbombaj on the left flank for us this year. He has some insane physical traits for a youngster and now just needs to up the technical aspects of his game and he could become a real threat on the wing. THE SQUAD: So those are the new faces but there are plenty of the old guard still around so it is time to take a look at the squad going forward into this new season. Seniors: So, after one full offseason in charge, this is the squad that I will be utilising this year. I am pretty happy with how things have turned out and we seem to have a capable starter at all positions, along with some solid depth options. The starting eleven is a lot younger than it was at the end of last year as we now have just one player over the age of 30. We also have a number of U20 players who will be in and around the first eleven which means I should have no probably hitting my league quota for minutes played regarding these individuals. Goalkeepers: Just two goalkeepers in the main squad and both are 22 year old regens. They are very similar in terms of ability and I think I will start with Bernardo Orrego as the clubs first choice. He was actually outplayed by the other shot stopper, Julio Sepulveda, at the end of last season but the later was injured for much of preseason and Orrego impressed in his place. I would not be surprised if these guys are swapped out for one another a lot as the season progresses though. Central Defenders: Having been unable to find many 'traditional' central defenders during this transfer window, I have gone with a slightly different approach this year and will be utilising some of my defensive-minded midfielders as defenders instead. The best out-and-out centreback is definitely 23 year old Juan Magana, a former youth academy product. I was able to retain him following some strong transfer interest and he will be a key cornerstone in defence this season. Alongside him I will be playing Claudio Sepulveda and Gaston Varela. Both these guys operated in midfield last year but they look equally capable of playing as central defenders. New youth product Luis Soriano already looks good enough for the first team and he will definitely get some gametime this season. We also retained veteran backup Diego Oyarzun and 19 year old Marco Medina, a decent future prospect who made his professional debut last season. Fullbacks: Our fullbacks are probably the most improved group from last season as we brought in two new starters in the form of Luis Schoonewolff and Dilan Zuniga. Our other right fullback is the talented Gaston Zuniga, the 24 year old who has been an O'Higgins player for his entire career. He was the starter last year and averaged a decent raring of 7.02 across 22 league games, which suggests he is more than good enough for this level. Former youth academy product, 19 year old Lucas Osorio, will be the primary back-up on the left flank. Midfielders: With some slight changes to the position that players will be operating in, we have a bit of a new look for the central midfield this season. Florindo, our young Brazilian ball-winner who joined midway through last year will likely be promoted to permanent starter alongside Chilean veteran Sebastian Galani, who had a very solid year last time out. New signing Ivan Sandoval will likely operate in the more advanced attacking role with his primary back-up being fellow signee Gonzalo Candia. We also have new signing Gerson Godoy who will play in the centre and looks to be a very decent youth prospect whilst Bastian Araneda returns from last year as the attacking-minded rotation man in midfield. Given that some of our defenders can also operate in midfield and we look set to have a number of different options for the centre of the park this time around. Forwards: I likely will be rolling with two forward players again this season and I am quite excited to see how the partnership between new signing Rhuan and last seasons top scorer Carlos Villanueva pans out. Both these guys are just 24 years of age and look set to become a devastating attacking pairing for years to come. Their primary backups will be a pair of youngsters in the form of poacher Manuel Cornejo and 6'6" targetman Claudio Ibarra. Ibarra in particular looks like an intriguing prospect and I am hoping I can mould him into a similar role to how I used Michael Olunga during my time with the Kenyan national side. Under 19s: This is what the U19 squad currently looks like and, it is safe to say, we do not have too many exciting prospects. One position that we do seem to have some talent in actually is in central midfield. The two newly signed Brazilian prospects, Anderson and Albano Colachequi, team up with some decent looking Chilean nationals to form a solid midfield unit. 16 year old Felipe Hormazabal and 18 year old Marcos Nunez look to be very decent prospects whilst 17 year old Gonzalo Fuentes seems to fit into a more attacking role. The two forward, Orlando Rodriguez and Francisco Morales both look fairly handy but the rest of the squad is lacing any real talent. I did try and sign some youth players from other teams but clubs were asking ridiculous prices for very average youngsters. Instead I am going to hold out for a strong youth intake this season, which I am hopeful of since we secured some facility improvements and added a new HoYD this offseason. Tactics: With the introduction of some extra players to play in central defence, I am going to be switching tactic slightly and utilising the one that I had so much success with during my time at both Mount Rich and Kenya. The my focus of this tactic is for the midfield three to work the ball into the box but when this fails, or the opposition sets up too narrow, we look for the overlapping fullbacks who are then instructed to hit early crosses into the area. This formation worked wonders during my previous job managerial roles and resulted in a lot of goals scored. We will again be playing with an attacking mentality and a fluid team shape whilst utilising similar team instructions to those I have used in the past. The majority of players are once again given individual instructions, mainly influencing their willingness to dribble, shoot and play risky passes. I am hoping that I can continue the success of this set-up here in Chile following some very successful results elsewhere on my managerial career. The main concern is in the centre of midfield, where we can sometimes get overrun, and it seems looks of club sides here like to play with three players in the middle (or at the minimum a midfield pairing and a defensive midfielder) which could cause us some problems. Friendly RESULTS: W = 6, D = 0, L = 0 That being said, the tactic seemed to work wonders in the preseason as we romped to six straight victories. We actually played some decent sides during this run including San Luis de Quillota from the division above us and San Antonio Unido from our current league. We also faced off against a solid Argentinian side in the form of Independiente Rivadavia but we proved too strong for all three of these and cruised to victories. As expected, the tactic was devastating in terms of attacking success and we scored a remarkable 20 goals in this short run. Also as probably expected, it led to some massive defensive frailties and we managed just one clean sheet, which might mean that I need to make some subtle changes prior to the league season starting. OTHER NEWS: Not too much to report on in terms of other news from this offseason but we did get hit by a bit of an injury bug! Injuries: We kicked things off by losing Rhuan, Julio Sepulveda and Gaston Zuniga to small knocks, meaning the trio failed to complete a full offseason programme and whilst they will be available come the start of the league fixtures, they may be lacking a bit of match sharpness. We then lost the above three players to slightly bigger injuries and all of these guys will definitely miss the first league games. Bastian Araneda suffered a concussion in a friendly fixture and the rotational man looks set to miss the first few games. He was quickly joined on the sidelines by Ivan Sandoval, as the newly signed attacker twisted his ankle in training. The biggest blow though was to top scorer Carlos Villanueva. The forward twisted an ankle in the penultimate friendly fixture and now looks set to miss the first month of league action, which is a huge blow to our title credentials. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- So that concludes a long offseason programme for me at O'Higgins and it is time to start playing through my first full season in Chile. The board expect a promotion challenging campaign and, whilst I would too love that, I have to be realistic and acknowledge that that is likely to be tough, especially if our new tactic fails and we continue to get hit by injuries. I will be back soon with a first league update of 2024 where I will be going to get off to a good start and continue our fine preseason form. Thanks again for all the support, hope you guys are still enjoying this read!
  14. So I am currently playing through my first full preseason with O'Higgins and I thought it would be a good time to remind everyone exactly who my new club side are as we prepare for the upcoming season. I took over this role midway through last year, following my resignation with the Kenya national team and then with Mount Rich in Grenada, where I had been for almost seven years. Last year saw me take charge for the final half of the domestic season and we played pretty well, a fact that has already started rumours suggesting we should be pushing for a promotion spot this time around. Before we get stuck into my preseason actions, I would like to re-introduce you all to O'Higgins Fútbol Club. Club Background: O'Higgins Fútbol Club are a profesional club based in the South American country of Chile. Situated in the central city of Rancagua, O'Higgins were founded back in 1955 and they have spent their time developing an extensive footballing history. They have won the Chilean second division on two previous occasions but, most impressively, they won the top league of Chile back in 2013 with a single Chilean Cup victory then following in 2014.  As you may recall, the club have endured some tough times since then. In 2017 the club were still playing in the top division of Chile and actually managed to secure a 3rd place finish. This was followed in 2018 with a 4th placing but then they experienced a disastrous year next and time around which ultimately ended in relegation to the countries second tier. Unfortunately, the club have found it very difficult to get themselves back into the top division, having now remained in the second tier for the past four seasons. Despite their recent struggles, O'Higgins are still one of the most recognisable clubs in the second division and hold a 2 star, national level rating in terms of reputation. Facilities: O'Higgins play their home matches in the 15,533 all-seater El Teniente stadium. The ground has a bit of footballing history behind it as it was actually used as a venue for World Cup fixtures back in 1962 and a recent rebuild saw it used once again as part of the 2015 Copa America. The council owned stadium remains in a very good condition but the pitch could probably do with re-laying, as it currently sits at OK. In terms of other facilities, I have been busy requesting improvements and fortunately the board were more than happy to accept! The youth training facilities will remain at adequate but I was able to secure funding to improve our senior training facilities, which means they will increase from their current good level. Most pleasing was the improvements to both the youth recruitment, which is now at an above average level, and to the junior coaching, which is now at good. Squad registration rules mean that we have to rely heavily on Chilean players and hopefully, with a few upgrades, our youth intakes will start to improve and provide us with an easy way to recruit talented domestic players. Competitions: Having moved from the Caribbean to South America last season, I now have a whole host of different domestic competitions to contend with. The first that we will be taking part in is the Campeonato Loto. Hopefully you will all remember this competition from earlier as it is our main league tournament. It is essentially the second tier of football in Chile and is currently ranked as the 21st best division in South America. It consists of 16 teams who all play each other twice across the course of the season, for a total of 30 league games. Only the side finishing 1st receives automatic promotion to the top division of Chile, with the side placing second entering into a one-off playoff game. The side finishing bottom are relegated with the 15th placed team entering into a relegation playoff. The league campaign runs from February to November but there is also a midseason break, between June and July. In terms of league rules there are a few that will limit my squad selection. Firstly only four foreign players are allowed to be registered in the squad at any one point and so it looks like I will be relying heavily on Chilean players once again. In addition, the match day squad must have at least two Under-20 players included who are then subsequently required to play 50% of the time played across the 30 league games, effectively forcing them to be used for 45 minutes each match. Our 5th place finish last season was actually a step backwards with regards to what we achieved in 2022, when we finished in second place. Both the sides who won the league the past two years managed to remain in the top division the year following, demonstrating that there is not a huge gap between the sides in the league above and ourselves. The hard part is gaining promotion given that only one team is granted an automatic spot. The other competition that we will be participating in is the Copa Chile. This is the main domestic cup competition of Chile and runs from July until December. The tournament follows a very simple knockout format, with 32 teams entering the first round, and all games being played over two legs (home and away). The foreign and Under-20 player restrictions that apply in the domestic division are also applied in this cup competition. We actually managed to reach the quarterfinals of this competition last year and, given that six different teams have won the Copa Chile in the past seven years, it looks as though these tournament is a bit of a free-for-all. Some of the top teams seem to play weaker sides and therefore this competition becomes far more open and I would love a repeat of our impressive cup run, from last year, this time around. Chilean Football: The standard of domestic football in Chile is actually fairly good. The top domestic division is ranked the third best in South America, only behind the top leagues of Brazil and Argentina. The best side in the country are Universidad de Chile, the team who knocked us out in the quarterfinals of the cup last year. They have won the top league an astonishing 16 times, including three title victories in a row over the past three seasons. Their closest rivals are probably Colo Colo but they finished 5th last year and have not won a full league crown since 1998. As you may recall, international football in Chile has endured some excellent results since I started this save as the nation won the 2018 World Cup before then reaching the semifinals of the 2022 competition. The 2023 Copa America saw the national side defeat Brazil in the Third Place Playoff to record another impressive tournament performance. At this point they had climbed back up to 7th in the world rankings but since then things have unravelled. They have recently begun the CONMEBOL qualification campaign for the 2026 World Cup and things have gone appallingly. Defeats against Brazil, Colombia and Argentina as well as a draw with Ecuador have seen the nation get off to a terrible start in attempting to qualify for the next World Cup. I am not really sure what is going wrong but hopefully it is just down to a tough opening schedule and they should be able to get back on track when they face some of the 'easier' teams. That being said the squad is now definitely on the elderly side, with nine members being at least 30 years old. Alexis Sanchez is still going but he is on the decline at the age of 35 and with no real superstars coming through, it looks like the golden age of Chilean football could well be done and dusted... ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- So that concludes my reintroduction to life in Chile with O'Higgins. It looks as though this year could be the one where we make a real push for a long awaited promotion but with just one automatic spot available we are going to have to be at our very best throughout! I will be back soon with a preseason update where I will cover any new additions to the squad and have a look at the slight change of tactic that I will be implementing this coming season. I hope you are all still enjoying this side of the story and hopefully I will get to experience a promotion for the first time in this save sometime soon!
  15. Update 55: End of Season Review 2023 Club: O'Higgins Fútbol Club Division: Campeonato Loto As you would have hopefully known from my last update I have successfully finished my first season in Chile. It was in fact just half a season, as I joined during the midyear break, but I am going to write a review anyway because it will hopefully give some insight into things moving forward. I am going to cover our performances within the domestic league and cup competitions whilst also taking a deeper, more detailed, look at some of the players who starred this year. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- COMPETITIONS: Campeonato Loto. Final League Position: 5th Played: 30 (W = 13, D = 11, L = 6) Goals Scored: 43, Goals Conceded: 29, Goal Difference: +14 Points Total: 50 When I joined the club back in June they were languishing in 9th position in the league and were in need of a serious revival. The midseason transfer window meant I was able to bring in some of my own players and also allowed me to install a tactical system of my choosing. All this led to some fine league performances and, after just 15 games in charge, I was able to lift the club to a respectable 5th placed finish. Over the course of the year we actually only lost six games, one fewer than the league champions, but the main story throughout was too many drawn fixtures. Our 11 draws were the second most in the division and, considering we only finished nine points adrift of first place, if we had turned a few of these into victories this season might have been even better still. Huachipato will be joined in the top division by Deportes Vallenar as they won their playoff fixture whilst at the other end Coquimbo Unido also won their playoff game meaning they remain in our league, with Deportes Valdivia are the only side relegated this year. Copa Chile. Final Position: Quarterfinals The final domestic competition that we partook in was the Copa Chile. This fairly straightforward knockout tournament sees each round played over two legs, a home game and an away game, with the aggregate winners advancing onto the next stage. Amazingly, despite this cup containing some of the top teams in Chile, we were able to reach the quarterfinals after some very impressive performances. The first round saw us drawn against an impressive Colo Colo outfit from the countries top division and we somehow battled to a 1-0 aggregate victory. The second round saw us face off against Campeonato Nacional opposition again but we played some excellent attacking football and cruised through to the quarters. Here we were drawn against Universidad de Chile, the most reputable side in the entire nation, and unfortunately our journey was ended as we failed to score a goal in either of the two legs. This was a very magical cup run though and proved to be a great start to life in Chile. I am not expecting to compete for the title in this competition any time soon but a run such as the one we had this year would be very much appreciated next season. PLAYER STATISTICS: We ended the year with a lowly seven players holding an average rating of 7.0 or higher, although some of these stats were acquired during the first half of the season when I was not present. Below are some key stats from my first year in Chile: Carlos Villanueva emerged as a dangerous threat in the domestic competitions and finished as the clubs top scorer, with 21 goals throughout the course of the season. The next highest total was the 9 scored by Ruben Farfan but after that we struggled for goals from other sources. The leading assist provider this season was also Carlos Villanueva, as the deep-lying forward tallied 7 assists in total. Fullbacks Gustavo Mbombaj and Gaston Zuniga were tied for second with 5 assists apiece. Veteran forward Ruben Farfan ended the season with the most Player of the Match Awards, picking up a very impressive 9, whilst Carlos Villanueva ended the year with 4 of his own.  Back-up fullback Oscar Tunessi led the team with an impressive average of 4.63 tackles/game in his 16 appearances whilst central defender Diego Oyarzun collected a team-high 95 defensive interceptions.  All-time Best XI: I obviously was not around prior to this season but this year saw central defender Juan Magana inducted into the O'Higgins all-time best XI. The central defender, who is a former youth product, has now made 72 appearances for the club and looks set to become one of the best players current at the club. He joins a number of veterans who are still playing here including anchor man Sebastian Silva, attacker Ruben Farfan and midfielder Sebastian Galani. Club captain Claudio Sepulveda is named amongst the substitutes. It is also interesting to see some of the other players utilised by the club during the earlier parts of this save. Gustavo Gotti is an Argentinian who played for six years with the club and one who netted 50 career goals whilst holding midfielder Alejandro Marquez, who totalled over 100 appearances, is now playing in the top division with Colo Colo. PLAYER AWARDS: 1) Player of the Year: Ruben Farfan (ST) - 29 matches, 9 goals, 4 assists, 46 chances created, 2.62 dribbles/game, 9 PoM Awards, Ave Rating: 7.26 This veteran forward was identified a one of the clubs best players when I arrived and he had a stellar season. He made the move from winger to forward upon my arrival, which explains why his goal tally is not quite as high as one might expect. That being said he contributed enormously and ended up receiving a total of 9 Player of the Match Awards. As you can see his attributes are a bit on the declining side but that was always going to happen given his advancing years. You might also notice that there is a fair amount of interest in him so it will be interesting to see if I choose to keep him around for next year, or cash in now before he regresses too much. 2) Defensive Player of the Year: Gustavo Mbombaj (LB) - 17 matches, 5 assists, 22 key passes, 4.41 tackles/game, 26 defensive interceptions, Ave Rating: 7.16 A free transfer during the midseason break, Gustavo Mbombaj proved to be a superb acquisition at the left fullback spot. He had five assists and 22 key passes whilst also being very solid on the defensive front, averaging the most tackles per game of all defenders in the starting eleven. He is even older than Farfan but, as of yet, has not experienced any rapid decline in attributes. He fits the mould of fullbacks that I like to use; primarily attacking with good levels of crossing and dribbling. His physical stats are still up to the standard of this division and it is likely that we will see him return next year manning the left flank of our formation. 3) Midfield Player of the Year: Bryan Figueroa (CM) - 15 matches, 3 goals, 2 assists, 21 key passes, 72% pass completion, Ave Rating: 7.20 Another player who I managed to sign during the midseason break was Bryan Figueroa. The £35k fee paid was actually the highest of my managerial career thus far but it proved worth it as the young Chilean was excellent in his attacking playmaker role. He demonstrated an all-round solid gameplay and became integral to our attacking movements, playing 21 key passes and chipping in with a trio of goals. He has some outstanding traits for this level, with solid physicals and some of the best technicals in the squad. His his ratings for dribbling, finishing, passing and technique make him an attacking threat that is probably a bit too strong for the standard of football that we currently play. He is under contract for next year and, withstanding any changes, he will definitely be returning next season. 4) Attacking Player of the Year: Carlos Villanueva (ST) - 36 matches, 21 goals, 7 assists, 42 key passes, 29 chances created, 4 PoM Awards, Ave Rating: 7.19 The attacking player of year is easily Carlos Villanueva. I pushed him further up the field from his attacking midfielder position and utilised him as a deep-lying forward in our tactic and it worked excellently. The 24 year old Chilean netted an impressive 21 goals throughout the course of the year but also provided seven assists to go alongside a team-high 42 key passes, highlighting his dual asking and scoring threat. He is another who has a very well-rounded set of attributes. His physicals are very solid with his pace, acceleration and agility making him a handful for opposition defences. I love that he has the 'attempts overhead kicks' trait - not that I have seen him score one just yet, but it makes him even cooler still. Although he is not an out and out striker, I will definitely be giving him second season leading the line following his breakout year with me this time around. 5) U21 Player of the Year: Julio Sepulveda (GK) - 12 matches, 11 goals conceded, 4 clean sheets, 42 saves, Ave Rating: 7.02 It was not easy to pick a winner for this award as not many of my youngsters played well. Then again, we do not seem to have many younger guys in the first team squad at all so just finding someone who would qualify for this award was a bit of a stretch. In the end I decided to give the prize to young goalkeeper Julio Sepulveda. He was not actually my first choice when I joined but some excellent performances in the domestic cup saw him inherit the first team gloves and he ended the season excellently, conceding less than one goal per game. My assistant manager reckons he has some room to grow in terms of development but he also needs more game-time to get those mental up, which at this point are not amazing. Everything else is pretty solid and he has impressive ratings for agility and handling which are important. At this point in time, Sepulveda is probably the main candidate to be the clubs number one next year but I will definitely be having a shop around for a shot stopper so he may well end up getting replaced. FINAL THOUGHTS: Nothing much else to report on from this season I'm afraid. We adapted to my playing style much quicker than I had anticipated and we actually put together a decent run of results during the second half of the league season. The cup run was a very unexpected surprise but one that meant we eventually reached the quarterfinals and brought in some extra monetary funds thanks to tv rights. I am looking forward to having a full offseason to work with but the squad registration limit of four foreign players might prove a bit tricky with regards to bringing in new signings. The aim for next year has got to be one of the top two promotion places and I think that is achievable, especially given that we were not too far off this year! ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Thanks again for all your support. I will be back again soon with an update covering all my preseason transactions and dealings, of which there will hopefully be many! In the meantime I was looking at international vacancies but there were none that interested me to be honest, save maybe Kazakhstan?
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