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About Jellico73

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    Gaming, reading, watching sports and Monday Morning QB'ing

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    Crystal Palace, Nuneaton

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  1. Oi! Quit throwin' stones at me Glass House!

    Yes. But as I am fond of saying "Custer had a plan too..." Thanks for reading and following! Jellico73
  2. Oi! Quit throwin' stones at me Glass House!

    "You know what else had a successful start? The Titanic..." Personal expectations are high. Champions League qualifications, and contesting the Premier League. The pundits picked us to finish 8th. 8th. After our last two years performance. Sigh. August/September: We did a tour of southern Europe to start things off. The Friendlies went very well, I've two formations I am using, well I use my 4-2-3-1 Asymmetric about 90% of the time, the players all know it, and it suits them quite well. I thought that maybe by scheduling the late teams as I did I was setting the team up for failure, as most of the scores against us were when the "B" team was on the field, and I was a bit worried when the Community Shield against Chelsea came up. We started off quickly, two goals in less than 10 minutes, and were 3-0 up at the half. Belotti's 52ns minute goal brought them close, but then Sules first and Isak's second of the game put it out of reach, even with Ozil's 91st minute shot. The good news is we are still a socring team, which is nice because our defense, for whatever reason, still has long stretches where it forgets what it's doing on the field. I am OK winning 5-4, as long as were winning. In August and September we were in fine form. The surprise of the season thus fasr has been Borja Mayoral. In the first six Premiership games we played he had 7 goals. The team was really clicking, as evidenced by the back to back 5-0 wins at Southampton and Napoli. We stumbled a bit at Fulham, but that was four days after the Napoli game, and I started a lot of backup players. Fulham is also a pretty good team this year, fighting for a spot in the top 6. We also had a sweetheart of a Champions League Group: Napoli, FC Kobenhaven, and KRC Genk. No Group of Death for us this year. At the end of September, we were fighting for top spot with Manchester United and Arsenal, and looking very good. October/November: It's not a typo. Or a photoshop job. Arsenal beat us like we were a bunch of part time Sunday Footballers with one to many drinks in our bellies. It was 5-1 at the half. Course it was 1-1 at the 28th minute, then Arsenal scored goals in the 35th, 36th, 42nd and 45th minute. By this point I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. I settled for neither, just made my subs and waited for the game to end. We had six players with a sub 6.0 rating... I was really hoping the team would come out fired up after such a loss. Instead they came out with a sense of purpose that could charitably described as "Fitful". 2-1 against Birmingham was nice, as was beating Genk. Our first game against Man City our defense let us down, as Fornals 89th minute goal looked to be enough for the win, but then Mayoral hit a shot in the 91st minute to tie the game up and preserve the draw. He has been the absolute best signing of the save so far. I had intended to rotate him throughout the attacking positions, but Zaha and Sane are both playing very well. Lars Stindl on the other hand, has lost a step, so I've taken Isak out of the forward role, and am retraining him to be an En Ganche, and moving Mayoral to striker. The move has paid of in spades as "Alcalde de Selhurst" has taken the team, and League, by storm. A Nice win at Newcastle, a tidy win at Genk, culminating in a 3-3 draw at West Ham. We had this game won, until Varniers 2nd Yellow Card left our tired defense a man down, and Steve Cook fired a shot past Hennessey (who wanted more first team playing time) in the 85th minute. West Brom was a solid team effort win, And then we clinched our group with a 3-2 come from behind win against Napoli. About that game: Conti was sent off in the 55th minute on a straight red. I have a policy when it comes to penalties. You get a couple of yellow cards over a couple of games, you get a talking to. You get sent off for a double yellow, it's a weeks fine. Straight Red, I review the play, and if I hate it, you get two weeks fine. Conti's slide started somewhere in Yorkshire, I think the ref had his red card out even before he made contact. And I fined him, and he got mad. I mean players on his side mad. How could I fine him, don't I know each situation is different? Dude, screw that. He nearly broike the guys ankle, your missing three games, it's a damned two week fine. And I'm consistent about it. Varniers second yellow cost him a game and a week, and he accepted it. But, back to the game. A man down, Zaha scored in the 81st minute, and Mayoral scored in the 85th minute to give us the win. November ended with a draw at Swansea, another defensive lapse allowed a Poulsen goal in the 90th minute. December: The good news is we haven't been losing many games, but we've been in more than a few draws. The bad new is Arsenal and Man United aren't losing either. A very nice 4-1 at Bournemouth got the month off to a good start, then came a very fun game at Kobenhavn. This was an all out run and gun "Defense is just a Theory Really" game. 40 total shots, 25 on target. Goals in the 1st, 24th, 28th, 37th, 50th, 65th, 69th, 79th, 82nd and 86th minute. Our goals are in BOLD. Yes, we had to come from behind to win. It was exhilarating and frustrating. Liverpool was a frustrating 5-0 win, because Niklas Sule, our best defender, broke his ankle and would be out for 8 weeks, minimum. Next was a tense match against Spurs. Stindl put us up early, and then Harry Kane missed a 75th minute PK to tie it. Our defense was solid, but Spurs were also coming off a lot of games in a few days, they had 2 shots on goal the entire match. Ben Woodburn was a bit mad his team were shut out two weeks prior, and after we went up 2-0 in our Carabao Cup game, he tried winning by himslef in the second half, with a Hat Tricks worth of goals. Luckily for us, Isak found the goal in the 85th minute, and we sent the reds home. Woodburn was pretty fabulous though. Last game of the year, against top of the table Man United. We didn;t flop exactly, stats wise the game was pretty even. De Gea was on his 'A' game and saved more shots than Scuffet did. So, at the end of the year, season half hour, January Transfer window approaching, this is how the Premier League stands: Man United is on a roll, and Arsenal is only 2 points behind with a game to play. Last season was a fight until the finish, but it looks as if its Man United's to lose at the half way mark. Thanks for reading and following! Jellico73
  3. Oi! Quit throwin' stones at me Glass House!

    "It's not like the job wasn't hard enough already..." Meet Sinisa Faber: 18 years old. 3 star current ability, 5 star potential ability who can play Carrilero, Mezzala or BTBM at the M(C) position, and is also a pretty decent Segundo Volante at the DM position. One of my scouts found him in Europe, playing for Partizan. He has 19 U21 appearences and 3 U21 goals for Serbia, and a Cap for the Senior Squad. And I got him for the grand total of €850K. And because Serbia is currently ranked 61st in the world, he doesn't get a work permit. Welcome to my offseason... Last year we won the Premier League, and had a good showing in the Champions League. So of course, all of my better players want to go to other, bigger teams and leagues for more money. For the most part, I am OK with this. I am comfortable enough in my scouting that I can find capable replacements, be they transfer or loan players. But it's getting annoying to say the least. As a squad what I consider a typical position: We have a few young starts who can be long terms stars. Aleksander Isak, Sane, Thierry Correia, Sule We have a solid core of players in their prime years: Duncan, Zaha, Conti We have several older players who are still capable, but are also a season or two away from falling out of their starting roles. Townsend, Stindl, Milivojevic We have Older and younger players who are role players. Soro, Schlupp, Bielik We have benchwarmers. See my U19 team. With that in mind, I felt I had to look for players who not only fit the club philosophies, but who could also fill groups 1 and 2. Were we successful in that approach this season? Eh...maybe? Fall Transfers In: For some reason the board keeps fiddling with my transfer budget. One day its 50% available, the next day 35%, the next day 100%. It's mildly frustrating, but we'll deal with it. Johnathon Panzo is the first In of this season. 20 years old, the former Chelsea D(C) is 1 1/2 current, 4 star potential player who I would like to try and get some first team time. He's also an adequate D(L). If he does develop like I want him to, I will easily recoup more then the €1.5M I spent for him. Roman Postulka is another young DM/DC player. 2 1.2 star current ability, 4 1/2 star potential ability, the 19 year old Czech player turned up in a U21 tournament. He already has 23 U21 caps for the Czech's, and will probably get his first senior cap this year. A very good DM DLP, and capable CM, he is well worth the €12M I paid for him. Especially once he gets a work permit.... I like Wayne Hennessey. We would not have had the success we had without him between the sticks, but in six weeks he lost a full star of ability. This has be worried because my long term replacements, either Connor Clapham or Xabier Bilbao, are both to young and despite their first team playing time while on loan, have not developed the way I want them too. I had high hopes for David Raya, but if his topping out a 2 stars wasn't enough of deterrent to use him, the fact that he allowed 70 goals in 42 games while on loan at Bristol City last season is. Simone Scuffet was Udineses's 2nd Keeper. They have Orestis Karnezis in goal, and after being loaned out to SPAL and then AC Milan, he was transfer listed by request. Yes, he's 3 star current, 3 1/2 star potential, but he's also 24 years old, and for €7.5M I think I got a real bargain. When you get to a big club, with a good scouting budget and several good scouts, take three of them, and create enough short term scouting assignments lasting a month long and have them scout Africa. Rotate them: Central Africa, South Africa, and so on. It will be time and money well spent, because that continent is not only home to several quality players, it's home to teams that well said players for a song. Like Tshawrelo Magobolo. 18 years old, 2 1/12 star current, 5 star potential MC who can also play DM. already had 6 U20 caps, and 12 International Caps and 2 goals for the South African team. And I got him from Sundowns for €525K. Roland Sallai is a 25 y/o French player, who is a very good AM(C), but can also play either wing and a pretty good False Nine. I signed him to provide some depth, but literally a week after I signed him, Rennes came in offering a loan deal that paid us 120K p/m and 100% of his salary. And he only makes 25K a week for us. I may regret this, but I did loan him out. Sane is a fixture at AM(L). Stindl I'd like to rotate at AM(C). Zaha started last season at 4 stars, ended at 3 1/2, and six week later is at 3 stars. I wanted a good player who could play all three of those positions if necessary, and Borja Mayoral popped up on the transfer list. 4 star current, 41/2 star potential, the 23 year old Spaniard was on the Real Madrid B Team. He's primarily an Advanced Forward, but he's more than capable on the AM line. €11.75M is a steal IMO. Ilias Ypsilos is a D(C) who comes in on a free. He'll never see first team time, but with 3 star potential, I am sure I can sell him at a later date. He's for the U23 and under teams. Sinisa Faber. See above. Demeaco Duhaney comes on loan to us from Man City. I needed a capable backup at D(R) and D(L), and he was the best option available at the time. 2 star current, 3 star potential, He should see some playing time on a Rotation. Ramy Bensebaini is a 25 year old Algerian International who can play D (LCR) very well. 2 Star Current, 2 Star potential, he's a solid backup player. Jason Lowe and Kalvin Phllips are both older M(C)/DM players I brought in because injuries took a toll on my midfield, I had not a lot left in the transfer budget, and they were the best options available at the time. Lowe can also play D(R), I've included my first January Transfers because the deals for the took place in the Fall. First in is Sergiy Gusev, a 2 star Current, 3 star potential DM who came in on a free. At 18 years old I think I can get three decent years out of him before he moves on. My biggest acquisition is Luke Shaw, from Man United. They transfer listed him, and I am not sure why. But with Jairo Reidewald making noised about wanting to move on, and Salvador Valenzuella unable to secure a work permit yet, I needed a quality D(L). For 25.5M I get one of the best young D(L)'s in the League. That is until he hurt his hip in training on 11/30/2020 and is out for eight weeks. If some of these younger players develop, this will have been a good year. Fall Transfers Out: I don't think there's any real surprises here. I think I am doing OK with some of my younger player picks because when I loan them out after they don't get a Work Permit, they all have like 15 offers. Almost all of the players out on loan are getting First Team playing time, and have some portion of their salary covered. Chelseas made their offer for Jefferson Lerma the first day of the transfer window. I wanted to keep him, but after negotiating them up to 53M, it was easier to let him go. Pedro Ferreria wasn't developing, and I have younger, better players waiting to play, so he went to Milwall. I may have gotten more for him, but I'll take a good offer over the possibility of a better offer for someone like Pedro. Sully Kaikai was a borderline backup player. I put him out for loan, but Rotherham offered 750K for him, where he'll be a full time starter. Tom Price is an 18 year old player who might be 2 1/12 stars if he fully develops. I don't know why Montreal wanted him, or why they paid for him, but any amount of money for him is fine by me. A couple of years ago I brought Mazuch in to help Karavaev acclimate to England. A Slew of penalties and a bad attitude later, Karavaev left before Mazuch even got to the club. I kept him because he was an OK back up, but near the end of last season his attitude over lack of playing time tanked. I lost money on him, but hopefully he will be happier in Empoli. Other moves worth a note are Kleinheisler's move to Espanyol. 180K a month and they are paying his salary. Same with Ramy. Tomorrow, the season starts. Thanks for reading and following! Jellico73
  4. Oi! Quit throwin' stones at me Glass House!

    7th, 11th, and 6th in the 2nd Division.
  5. Oi! Quit throwin' stones at me Glass House!

    If you're asking about Waalwijk, I can look it up when I get home tonight after work?
  6. Oi! Quit throwin' stones at me Glass House!

    Near the end of that save, Dunkerque was 1st in the Euro Club Rankings. 1st in Club Coefficient, 15th richest team in the world (thanks to our new owner), Ligue 1 was 3rd in the world, and France was 2nd in Nation Coefficient. We had won Ligue 1 five out of the last six years, had won three of the last five Champions Leagues Cups. And then Real Madrid, which was still a good team, but not dominant in La Liga, came after one of my players, and he wanted to leave because of Madrids stature. Eventually I would just click no and ignore the locker room, but I am not sure you could to that in FM with the new Dynamics. Jellico73
  7. FM Careers Forum Discussion

    Ah, I see. Maybe one of these days in my free time I can put together a n00b's guide to scouting and show how I've been using it. It does have a few UI and UeX bugs that can be worked out, but its early days still. Jellico73
  8. Oi! Quit throwin' stones at me Glass House!

    I ran into the same situation with my FM17 save. Near the end it was getting annoying, especially when we were one of the better teams in the world by then. Jellico73
  9. FM Careers Forum Discussion

    Is the assignment process, or the new layout thats bugging you? I am doing OK with it myself, but then I was never really wedded to earlier versions either. Jellico73
  10. FM Careers Forum Discussion

    It's funny as heck, but I am not sure the team finds it funny, you know? Jellico73
  11. How Hard Could it Be Managing England?

    "The nice thing about Rock Bottom is that it provides a Solid foundation to build on" This was Englands record when I took over the team: That's pretty bad, and I had a hard time trying to figure out why things could have fell so far, so fast. One minor complication: Southgate is no longer in my database. He retired, and then disappeared into the ether. So, I spent a little bit poking around, and then playing most of the next international season, found what I think to be a decent reason for their failure: Lack of staff. I took over the team as Head Coach. I had an assistant coach, a U21 HC, a U20 HC, a U19 HC, three coaches, a goalkeeping coach, and a head physio. And that was it. No Scouts, No other assistant coaches, no Physios. After the last game played in 2020. I literally spent the next three hours looking at what I needed and hiring people. But first, I had a national team to get in order. Now, I will be the first to admit, I know the names and reputations of some of these players, having watched them on TV or listened to them on the radio. But beyond that, its literally going to be crawling thru scout reports, attending games, and reading more scout reports. I don't know that I made any outrageous or surprise moves throughout the course of the 2020 International season, I leave that to you to judge. But not to harshly, please? This was my roster and primary formation for the season: I didn't realize it at the time, but I had a couple of issues with depth at a couple of positions. I am not sure how, especially after last years results, but we found ourselves facing Slovakia in the Qualifying Playoff Semi Final. First game as International Head Coach, at Wembley, against the 66th ranked team in the world? No problem. Danny Rose getting DOuble Yellowed in the space of two minutes and getting sent off with them up 2-1? Problem. I brought on Luke Shaw, and took off Harry Kane, then did a bit of other positional juggling that would have made chiropractors everywhere cackle with glee when they saw the contortions I was putting the team thru. Luckily for us, a Lingard goal in the 57th minute tied the game, and the Rashfords second goal of the night in the 64th minute put the game away, and we scraped out a win. Next up in the Playoff Final, the Czech Republic, ranked 47th in the world. And they gave us a game. Pretty even stats wise, a Danny Welbeck goal in the 82nd minute giving us some breathing room, and then an unfortunate Suchy OG three minutes later putting it out of reach, and we escaped with a 2-0 win. At this point I considered retiring. It was March, and Palace was fighting for first place, I could have wlaked away with my head held...who am I kidding here. Really. A Friendly against 39th ranked Switzerland was next, and we ran them into the ground. 22/7 shot advantage, 8 on target. Kane, Sterling and Alli scored, and it was a nice game to watch. Then Came the draw for the European Football Championships. We were in Group A, with: Italy, ranked 5th. Norway, ranked 17th, Ireland, ranked 31st. First up was Ireland, and a Kane Brace and some solid defense saw us come away with the 2-0 win. Ireland had all of three shots. Next up, Italy. Kane had another brace in the game, the first a 7th minute shot. Rugani equalized for the Azurri in the 56th minute, but Kanes second goal in the 65th minute saw us come out ahead. The Drillos from Norway were next. I think by this point we were assured of finishing no worse than 2nd in the group. Instead we finished first, as an Eric Dier brace and solid defense agains saw us with a clean sheet victory. In the Second Round, we faced Host Nation Russia. This was a nailbiter of a back and forth game. 36 total shots, 19 total on target, regulation time ended with the game tied at 2-2. Harry Kanes brace had looked to be enough, but Alan Dzagoev had his own brace, the second coming at the 82nd minute and delighting the home crowd. In extra time, Kanes third goal was equalized was equalized 5 minutes later when Poloz took a Golovin cross and volleyed it past Joe Hart. In Peanlties, we were luckier, as Kane, Rashford, and then Henderson made their penalty shots, while Dzagoev, Poloz and Kutepov missed. Next up, Croatia in the Quarter Finals. We had no business winning this game. Joe Hart had a 4.6 rating. I wasn't sure that was possible. We were damned lucky Rashford, Kane and Sterling all scored in the first half, because the second half we threw it away, or tried too. Kalinics brace brought the Vatreni close, but we held on for the win. Next up In the Semi-Finals: Portugal. 4th ranked in the world, and we were just coming off a horrible win. I was not filled with confidence, but the winner would get to face either Scotland or Denmark. It wasn;t the prettiest game in the world to watch, both teams were tired, but Ricardo Ferreira's 47th minute goal was all da Quinas needed to win. I think we exceeded expectations, the FA board was certainly happy. I found out the hard way I have too many midfielders and not enough flank side defenders on the team, but that's a solvable problem. In other National Team news, the U21 team had a very good run at the U21 International, beating Macedonia 4-0. Ukraine 3-1, Slovakia 6-1, and Austria 3-0 to make it to the Group stage Iain Wilson had 5 of those goals thruout the series, if Stoke can develop him, he'll be starting for England when Kane hangs them up. The U20 team was hit and miss. a 3-0 loss to Scotland, an 8-0 win against Honduras, a 0-0 draw against Uruguay, and a 6-0 win against Kyrgyzstan. Eddie Nketiah had 4 goals, Chelsea U23 player Spencer English is going to start Challenging for first team time as well: The U19 team was also pretty good, beating Sweden 3-2, Belgium 2-1, and drawing with Czech Republic 2-2. David Duffy-Scholes had four of those goals. He actually tackles, so I din;t think he's related to Paul Scholes directly, unless that skill skips a generation? Oh, and I finally found enough volunteers to help fill out the coaching, scouting and Medical ranks of the National Team: Next up, trolling through the youths of England to fill out the squads. Thats the next challenge, have replacements ready to go for those players who will be retiring from International duty. Well, that and the International League. Thanks for reading and following! Jellico73
  12. "Just 'cause we have three heads doesn't mean we're three times as smart..." This is a parallel story with what's occurring here: "Taking the reigns of Crystal Palace, young Callan Andrews took the Eagles, who by all opinions punditry were supposed to finish near the bottom of the table, to a surprising 6th place finish in his rookie campaign at Selhurst Park. A 2 goal differential between the Eagles and Man City was the difference between Champions League Qualifying, and while he was lauded for his efforts on the sideline, most people expected Palace to fall back to mid table. Instead the Eagles roared back up the top of the table, finishing 5th. It wasn't the finish that was surprising, but the Eagles high flying season finished with a win at Olympic Stadium over Man City in the EURO Cup finale that announced that not only were Crystal Paalace and Callan Andrews here, they were here to stay. "While some commentators fully expected Palace to fall back to the ground again, Andrews name was on the lips of every fan whose team was under performing. But Andrews, who as a well regarded player made waves when he refused a transfer from Brentwood to Torino, preferring instead to honor his contract and promise to get "Brentford to the Premiership" instead infused his team with the same character and drive he exhibited on the pitch. Yes, there were more technically proficient teams, and yes, there were better defenders, but no one gave more of themselves and left more of themselves on the pitch than Andrews did when he played, and he brought the same energy to the Eagles as well. Crystal Palace put it's last doubters to rest during the 2019-2020 season, when after a slow start they climbed up the Premiership. The doubters at first thought they would never get out of the Champions League Group of Real Madrid, Juventus, and Sparta Prague. When they beat Real Madrid 3-1, holding Ronaldo to a 6.3 and Benzema to a 5.7, the pool of doubters grew smaller. A week later Palace defeated Tottenham 5-2 in a Carabao Cup Match, and 8 days after that put 7 goals on the scoreboard against Sparta Prague. A draw at Allianz Stadium against Juventus followed, then a victory at Selhurst against Juventus, and a tie against Real Madrid saw Palace out of their Group in first place. And while this was going on, they had fought their way up third in the Premiership, 2 points off the top. The English National Team was also in the news, but for all the wrong reasons. The 2019 European Championship had gotten off to a nice start, beating Georgia 3-0. However, a 2-1 loss in a Friendly against Saudi Arabia did not bode well for the Lions, and an opening draw against a 63rd ranked Greece followed. Losing to Denmark 2-1 wasn't exactly acceptable, but a 3-0 win against Hungary seemed to be a turning point. It wasn't, as Georgia beat England 2-1, sending the team into a spiral that saw it lose 1-0 to Denmark and 2-1 to Hungary. With the National Press, the fans, and the country pretty much up in arms, and having lost the confidence of most of the players, Southgate resigned as head coach, which many people agree was the right thing to do, as he would have been relieved of his duties shortly thereafter anyways. * * * * * Don't get me wrong, I love my wife. She is the rock I lean on, the strongest person I know. After the accident, she was there everyday, without fail. She's been by me every step of the way, putting up with it all with a style and grace that leaves me speechless. There's an American Football phrase "Outkicking your coverage", and I definitely did that when I asked Siobhan to marry me. She knows my quirks and personalities, and she knows I am not the best person to deal with in the morning, which is why she put that godawful ringtone on my phone. It woke me out of a good nights sleep, we had just tied Arsenal at Emirates the night before, Andros's 89th minute shot shutting the Gunners crowd up. I swear Arsene about had a heart attack, but he was, as he always was with me anyways, gracious in a non win situation. Anyhow, the ringtone, I think it's a recording of the church bells in London ringing. Celebrating the end of World War Two, or Will and Kates wedding. They are loud, annoying, and wake me right up. "Hello?" It wasn't exactly a mumble, but then I wasn't exactly awake. "Mr. Andrews?" A voice that was way to perky for the morning asked. "Yeah?" "Please hold for Mr. McCormick." "Huh?" There was a click. "Callan, it's Peter McCormick, I hope it's not too early to call?" "Erm-" "Good, listen, if your available today we'd like to have you come over to St. Georges Park and have a chat with the Committee." "Committee? What Committee? " "We'd like to gauge your interest in becoming the next Head Coach of England." Honestly, I pulled the cellphone away from my ear and looked at it for a second, then put it back up as the voice was saying "You there Mr. Andrews?" "Look Davey, it's too damned early in the morning for one of your jokes. I already have Unai Emery in the morning already making noises about how we was lucky to beat them the first time around, and you'd think after tanking against Barca at PSG he'd be a bit less boastful, but I don't care about that. It's early, I was up late, I haven't had my morning tea, or my morning jog. Now I'm going to hang up, not only because I'm tired, but because I've met the right honourable McCormick, and your impersonation of him is worse than your impersonation of Klopp, and if you call me again in the next hour before I've had my tea or my job, you get to deal with her indoors-" The phone buzzed, another incoming call. I pulled it away from my ear while the voice at the other end was saying something. I recognized the number, it was my agent. "Hold on just a sec Davey, Gareth's on the other line." I hit hold without waiting for the reply. "Morning Gareth, what's-" "No time to talk Cal, shut up and listen. In a few minutes Peter McCormick is going to call you, take the phone call and listen. Cal, you there?" I think my mouth worked up and down, but no sound came out. "What's he want with us?" I asked. "Nothing to do with Palace, it's you. He's head of the FA Appointments Committee. They want you to interview for England Manager." I may have made a noise resembling a whimper. What in the bloody hell did I just do? It's a dream. I'm going to lay down, wake up, and realize it's all bee a dream... "You there mate? Had your morning tea yet?" "Yeah, no, no tea yet, hey, other line is ringing, might be him." I clicked back over to the other line, and took a deep breath. "Mr. McCormick, are you familiar with Seppuku?" There was silence. I wasn't sure if he had hung up or not. "The ritual suicide act of the Samurai? I can;t say that I am Mr. Andrews, why do you ask?" "Because I am reasonably sure it's something I am going to have to perform after our earlier conversation. I am just not sure if I'm supposed to start at the right and go left and up, or at the left and go right-" "I assure you Callan that I do not know. Tell you what though, come out for an interview, and depending on how it goes, we can look it up on Wikipedia afterwards. 4PM, OK?" "RIght, 4PM. Thanks, and I sincerely apologize-" "Think nothing of it. It's not the first insult I've heard today if were honest. See you at 4PM." * * * * * "Why did I marry you?" Siobhan sighed. We were at the breakfast table. She had just come from her run, informed me the crowd of Paparazzi at the corner was growing, and then listened to my tale. Whereupon she whacked me upside the head and then took the cup I gave here. "Lack of better options?" I ventured. "As if. Maybe I just got tired of your begging and said yes to shut you up." She sipped her tea. "You're a complete idiot sometimes, you know that?" "I've gotten better since we met, you have to admit that." A brief smile was her reply. "Whats got you worried?" she said. "Burning the candles at both ends. May be a bit much, what with everything that's going on. More time away from you, which I am not a fan of." "Oh, I don't know, you get the job, I could be persuaded to travel a bit more. Besides, they haven't even offered you the job yet. And you know you want it." "Well sure, which coach in their right mind wouldn't? Thirty Two is a bit young though, isn't it?" "It's not that and you know it. You know most of these guys, you played with them for the better part of the decade, and now three years removed from the game your supposed to be their coach. You don't know that you want to do that, because being their coach means not being their friend first." "And if I fail?" Siobhan sighed, then stood up and walked over to me. Leaning down she brushed my hair back. "I'm not sure you know how to fail. Seventimes times you asked me out before I said yes, fourteen times you asked me to marry you before I said yes. It's a good team. You're a great coach. Tell you what, win your first two matches, and if you don't like it, you can retire and replace Sam as the best Coach England ever had." "He only coached the one game." Siobhan sighed. She had been a school teacher for awhile, and I knew that sigh. It was one she made when she found a young student eating the paste, or smearing the paint over the walls. "And he won it dear. That's 100%. Look, take the interview, at the very least listen to what they have to say." * * * * * The boo's were loud as I walked over to shake Pep's hand. The Anfield crowd were more than a bit upset the Reds had lost another game. Rumor had it Pep was on a short leash, a few more bad results and he would be looking for a new job. Having just scored two goals against him in the last four minutes of the game was not going to help him. "Well done Callan, well done." His smile was genuine, if a bit sad. "Thanks Coach. You made us earn it, tell them that." I gestured towards the teams as they were coming off the pitch. "Listen, I need a favor." A set of raised eyebrows was my response. "I need five minutes with Jordan, somewhere quiet, can you help with that?" * * * * * "Callan." I'm not going to faff about and say Jordan Henderson and I were friends. Yes, we played together, yes, we won more than a few games together wearing the white, but for a variety of reasons, we never exactly clicked on a personal level. But I repsect the hell out of him. On the pitch he was a professional. Off the pitch, he tried to be just as professional, but hey, we're all human. He didn't look to happy, but that's because he hates losing. And listening to the fans and press afterwards. "Thanks for seeing me. I have a question for you." "Sure." "You think you could still be the captain if I was the coach?" "I wasn't aware Pardew was choosing a staff yet." "He's not." "Then why are you, oh...." The room was a seldom used office, with a desk that was too large for it and two chairs that barely fit. Neither of us had sat down. "If I say no?" he asked after a moment. "Then I go to Keane and ask him, and you still play for me. For England." "You willing to listen?" "In your capacity as Captain, you bring any team concerns to me, we hash them out. I decide what we do and you commit to that decision, even if you disagree. But you know me, I'm a pretty hands off coach in that regards. You don't believe me ask Luka or Lars." "And when I disagree?" "I am more than willing to disagree with you as long as your also willing to admit you are wrong when that occurs." I said with a smile. Jordan didn't move for a few seconds, but the the corner of his mouth twitched up. "You put as much into coaching as you did when you were on the pitch, don't you Cal?" "Only way I know how." "Well, you were a right prat on the field, but you got results. And we need results." "You get on board and watch the rest of the kids on the bus, I'll drive us as far as I can." "I can work with that." * * * * * FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - LONDON, England The Football Association is please to announce that it has offered the Head Coach position to CALLAN ANDREWS, and he has accepted. At 32 years old, Andrews is presently the Head Coach at Crystal Palace, where he has led the team to the top of the Premiership in just two plus years. A former International Player for England, Andrews will reportedly make €4.5M a year after signing a four year contract....
  13. Oi! Quit throwin' stones at me Glass House!

    "Look Ma! Top of the Worl--Oh Bloody Hell!" For some reason the Board has reduced my share of the transfer money, down to 75% from 100. I am not sure why. Yes, we have about €100M in outstanding debt, but it's not crushing the club by any means, in fact they last two seasons alone have brought in more than enough money. I haven't spent all of the transfer budget money, and am about 300K under the wage budget as well. And we're still a Rich club. January Transfers In: On the whole, we are a pretty solid team, but we do have some depth issues at Attacking Midfielders. Stindl, Zaha, and Maximin are my primary starters, with Kleinheisler capable of filling in for any of them. Behind them though, the pool is getting shallower. Puncheon has lost at least a star since the season began, and Townsend is erratic, and no longer a full time starter IMO. So I went shopping for a versatile Winger in the January transfer window, and found Leroy Sane. Transfer listed by Request while at Man City, he's 4 star current, 4 star potential who can play all four wing positions and is a capable AM(C) as well. He's only 24, costing me 125K a week in wages, and even more surprisingly, cost us €15M up front, going to 21.5M. He was my big spring signing. Bruce Neto is a 2 star Current, 4 1/2 star potential Portugeuse AM(R). My scouts found him on Academica's 'B' Team, and I like to the look of him. He's close to being a first teamer. Wayne Hennessey is a serviceable keeper. But if there is one thing I have learned while playing FM, a good keeper will take a good team far, a great keeper will take a good team even further. Connor Clapham looks like he can be a good Premier League keeper. Maybe. My scouts in Spain went and found Xabier Bilbao. Yes, he did cost me a nice chunk of change, but I think with some quality first team time at some loan squads, he can either step in and perform very well, or I can recoup my cost when I sell him. Cyprien Gaillard is an 18 y/o French Striker with 3 1/2 star potential. For a Free Transfer, I can risk that. Johnathon Bond was signed for depth purposes. I realized too late that I was dreadfully thin at keeper, and he was the best Englishman I could get on a free. Because the best European I could get on a free also couldn't get a work permit.... January Transfers Out: We weren't as active, but we did make a few moves: Everyone who went out on loan is getting first team playing time. I did turn down more than a few paying offers for players to be backups, but sitting on a bench isn't going to help them develop. Swansea made an unsolicited offer for Kabashi. I am not sure why, as I don't think he will ever realize his 3 star potential, but for a youngster I brought in on a free, ok. I wanted to like Sergei Palencia. On Paper he looks to be a capable D(R) or D(L). He spent last season on loan at Fulham and did a credible job. I wanted him to be part of the rotation, but he wanted first team, playing time, and when I said no, he quickly became a locker room cancer, so out he went. In on a Free, out for €7.5M. That's fine by me. Man City made an unsolicited offer for Sam Johnstone, and like an idiot I clicked yes before realizing that after Johnstone, my best keeper was out on loan, and Hennessey's new backup was still waiting for puberty to hit and his voice to crack. Hence the search for a new backup keeper with a work permit. January I wanted to get the new year off to a fast start. With so many games being played, and the relatively small size of the squad, player health was going to be important, and I am more comfortable subbing players in with a lead, and resting players against weaker opponent. Custer had a plan too... Millwall played us tough. Even after a 1st minute goal by Isak, and a 20th minute goal by Stindl, they fought back, tying the game in the 78th minute, Vassell's second after scoring in the 70th. I was looking for the tie, when Isak took a nifty cross from Isak and blew it by the keeper from 18 yards out. Man United was yet another game where last seasons defense showed up. Nursing a 1-0 lead courtesy of a Stindl goal, A poor pass was intercepted by Man U, eventually ending up in front of Mkhitaryans foot in the 92nd minute, and he scored, salvaging the tie. We got ourselves right against Wolves, a Stindl PK and a brace by Zaha with a stellar defesnive performance blanking the Wolves. Unfortunately for us, our defense left it all at Selhurst, as in the first leg of the Carabao semi final Watford ran us into the ground. The score could have been much worse than 2-1, and our six yellow cards were three more than we had chances on goal. A sorry game for us. Everton had the game won, until Sane took an errant pass, then in a nice series of one-twos, ended up with the tying goal in the 79th minute. He's been a very nice addition to the club. Lerma's goal was all we needed against Bournemouth, a very even game where we had just the little extra we needed to win. I thought the rain might call for a slow game against West Ham, instead there were 38 shots on goal total, and a lot of tired players at the end of the match. Kleinheisler and Stindls goals were good enough to see us past the Hammer, who ruined the clean sheet with a Arnautovic goal in the 87th minute. Second Round of the Carabao Semi Final, a Richarlison PK in the 15th minute let them park the bus, and although Sule put one in the back of the net of a nice corner, the aggregate score was 3-2 Watford. Although the Carabao Cup is a competition not many teams care for, I did win it back to back, missing out this year is a bit disappointing. February/March: The top of the table is, as it always seems to be this time of year, a dog fight. Currently we sit 3rd, with Arsenal 2nd and Man United 1st. Chelsea sits 4th, and the'es less than six points separating us all. FIrst up for us was Crewe, in the FA Cup. It was clear we outclassed them and their job got harder after one of their best players left in the 5th minute with an injury. A Varnier goal gave us the lead, and I sat back on counter the rest of the match, and when Kleinheisler scored in the 61st minute, the game was, for all intents and purposes, over. It's a good thing we scored all of our goals against West Brom in the first half, because we were pretty inept the second half. Two West Brom goals by Rodriguez and Gomez three minutes apart in the second made this a much closer match than it should have been. We were 3-2 up when Man City came to Selhurst, a Stindl brace and Townsend goal offsetting scores by Silva and Fornals, but yet again the defense cracked late, as in the 84th minute Silva scored on a lovely strike, salvaging the draw. At King Power, we ran the Foxes into the ground. 18 shots on goal, 10 on target, goals by Sane, Kleinheisler and Isak, and more importantly a stout defensive effort, secured us the 3-0 win. Nottingham Forrest were on a very nice FA Cup run, I believe they were the last League One team in the competition, and although the stats were lopsided in our favour (36 shots on goal vers 3, 14 on target versus 2, 61% possession advantage) they bent but didn't break. After Zaha scored out second goal in the 55th minute, I was a bit worried when Forest scored a couple of minutes later, visions of bottling the Cup to a League One team going thru my head. But we held on, and advanced. I am pretty sure a lot of the chances we could have used at Estadio de Luiz were left at Selhurst. Benfica was out for a measure of revenge, having been knocked out of the Euros last year courtesy of us, and the Liga NOS team dropped the hammer on us. Reidewald getting sent off in the 56th minute for a second yellow card certainly didn't help us. The score was 1-1 at the half, but then Benfica scored three more goals in the space of 11 minutes, and they missed a PK as well. We might not be able to pull back from this one, although the away goal helps, some. Losing as we did in Portugal lit a fire under the squad. 3-1 at Chelsea, shutting out Watford 2-0 (a minor revenge for them kicking us out of the Carabao), and a hard fought 1-0 against Huddersfield, and then Benfica was at Selhurst. And after two Aquino goals in the first 20 minutes, they parked the bus. And we drove into it, repeatedly. A brace by Zaha, goals by Isak and Sane brought us close on aggregate, but then Schlupp was sent off after a second yellow card in the 79th minute. In the 87th minute, Lerma was fouled on a corner kick in the box. Hitting it would have tied the game, and given us some much needed last minute momentum. Instead he sailed it over the crossbar, and Benfica left with a 6-5 Aggregate victory. Three days later Bournemouth arrived at Selhurst for our FA Cup match, and the boys vented their frustration out after Kishna's 19th minute goal put the Cherries up 1-0. A Stindl brace, and goals by Zaha and Isak helped us get over the Benfica loss. April/May: The fire that was lit against Benfica did not go out. Beating Arsenal at home put us in 1st place, and from then on it was a fight to stay up. We helped our cause by beating Liberpool 4-2. It was Luka Milivojevics birthday, and he responded with a Hat Tricks wort of goals. A Sane goal was the icing on the cake in this one. The Last seven minutes of the game at Newcastle were a bit tense. Stindl had equalized the score with his 81st minute goal. then Townsend put us ahead in the 85th minute with a fine shot. Sane scored in the 90th minute, putting us ahead 3-1, but when Castillejo scored his second goal in the 92ns minute for Newcastle, I thought for sure I was going to bottle it. Luckily, we didn't. The Villa score wasn't as close as it looks, Besic's 83rd minute goal ruined our clean sheet, and Stindl missed a PK. Then it was at Wembley to face Newcastle again in the FA Cup semi finals. Castillejo got them off to a quick start, scoring in the 4th minute, but our defense found it's form and locked them down for most of the match. A Goal by Lerma and a brace by Isak was more than enough to see us through to the final. Tottenham absolutely bossed us. How the score wasn't higher I am not sure, but they absolutely owned us this game. Our only saving grace was that we had a game in hand, and everyoine around us had lost or tied as well, so we didn't lose a lot of ground. Beating Southampton put us back into 1st place contention, beating Man United put us in 1st place overall, and beating Stoke secured 1st place for us. The game against Fulham was more a formality, but the fact we went 16-3-1 in the first part of 2020 bodes well for the future. Traditional powers like Man United and Arsenal also stumbling don't hurt our side either. I think any of the top five teams could have won the League, but our sting of unbeaten games saw us thru to the end. The season did end on a down note though, as Chelsea beat us in the FA Cup final, 2-1 on an 84th minute Morata goal. End of Season Notes and News: The Good news: We scored 86 goals, top in the League. Great News: We allowed 45 goals, tied for 5th best in the League. And again, a lot of the games we lost were due to last minutes breakdown in the defense. Bad News: The celebrations hadn't stopped when both Lerma and Riedewald said they wanted to transfer out to bigger and better teams. We just won the Premiership boys, and did well in the Champions League. How much bigger and better does it get? Player wise, I had several solid contributions: Isak was injured for about six weeks, and as a result, his numbers were down from last year. In 38(4) appearances across all competitions, he had 24 goals, 11 assists, and 5 POM's. Stindl picked up much of his production, moving to play CF when Isak was injured. In 41(6) appearances across all competitions, he had 19 goals and 10 assists, and 4 POM's. Zaha, again, was the teams best all around player. 13 goals, 12 assists, and 3 POMs in 36(7) appearances. Only his physicals are starting to fall off, which is slightly troubling... Maximin had a solid season as well, with 8 goals and 13 assists in 28(5) appearances. Laszlo Kleinheisler was the super-sub I intended him to be. In 13(17) appearances, he had 6 goals, 5 assists, and a POM. Alfred Duncan was a great signing for me, playing the Segundo Volante exclusively all season. I didn't realize how good a season he had until I looked, and in 45(1) appearances, he had 6 goals, 11 assists, and 5 POM's. Lerma also had a quietly good season, 10 goals, 3 assists and 2 POM's in 45 appearances. His defense was very good for us. Sane had a solid half season for us, 5 goals, 5 assists and a POM in 15(1) appearances. Sule was a more than capable replacement player for Ginter, 2 goals and 6 assists, and 3 POM's in 41(2) appearances. As a team, we placed 5 into the Best XI of the Season: We did pretty well financially, the TV and Cup money helped us enough to get new training grounds, a new youth facility, and to increase our youth range as well. Which we need, as our last youth intake was pitiful. Next seasons payroll is €2.1M p/w, and the initial transfer budget is €41.43M, but now we only get to keep 35% of that? What Gives? Out as coaches this year in the Premier League: Mauricio Pochettino, fired from Tottenham due to poor results in Late November, replaced by Roberto Mancini. Didier Deschamps, fired from Leicester in early December after losing the locker room. Eventually replaced by Claude Makelele. Pep Guardiola, fired by Liverpool in mid December after losing the locker room. Eventually replaced by Patrick Viera. Giovanni Martusciello, fired by Watford for porr results, eventually replaced by Razvan Lucescu Southampton fired Mauricio Pellegrino, replacing him with Marco Silva Aston Villa replaced Makelele with Mark Hughes Stoke fired Alan Pardew for poor performance, and replaced him with Pellegrino. Man City fired Jardim for poor league position, and Pochettino replaced him, and last but not least Paul Clement was fired by Wolves because the team was relegated, and they hired Alan Pardew. Promotions: From the Sky Bet Championship: Middlesbrough, Birmingham, Swansea From League One: Nottingham Forest, Walsall, and Wigan League Two: Plymouth, Bristol Rovers, Portsmouth and Cambridge. Demotions: From the Premier League: Stoke, Wolves, Leicester. From the Sky Bet Championship: Barnsley, Sheffield United, Bolton From League One: Gillingham, Southend, AFC Wimbeldon, Doncaster League Two: Port Vale and Notts County Other Leagues: Bayern won the Bundesliga, Red Bull Leipzig in 2nd, Dortmund in 3rd. Atheltico Madrid wins La Liga, Barcelona in 2nd, Real Madrid in 3rd Inter wins Serie A, with Juventus and Napoli in 2nd and 3rd respectively PSG wins Ligue 1 with 102 points, 16 ahead of Monaco. OL 3rd with 70 points. They spent another €254M this transfer season, Dybala from Juve for 118M, Juan Mata for 54M, Dalot for 15M, Emil Forsberg for 15M...and a few others. Chelsea beats Real Madrid to win the Champions League. Inter beats Sevilla to win the Europa League. Job Interviews turned down: Man City, Sevilla Next Up: European results, AKA "What the heck did I get myself into?!?" Thanks for reading and following! Jellico73
  14. Oi! Quit throwin' stones at me Glass House!

    I've been finding some very good youth foreign players, who I loan out to my overseason affiliates, then they also get called up for their countries youth (and in some cases Senior) teams. If they don't get work permits I am OK loaning them out, eventually they'll either qualify for one or I can sell them on for more than I bought them for. Lerma and Duncan have been absolutely fabulous for me in the midfield. Thanks for reading and following! Jellico73
  15. Oi! Quit throwin' stones at me Glass House!

    "It's like we're Sissy, Er...Susoo...that bloody Greek bloke with the big rock..." The offseason was quiet for the most part. The only troubling thing to work thru is the one I've mentioned before: The "Hard Brexit" option and the club's philosophy of sign and develop younger players are very incompatible. I have the majority of my scouts on short terms (1 month) jobs, looking for youngsters in all of the countries I can. As a result I get a look at some very good 16-21 year olds with potential. I find a player in Poland now, 20 years old, 2 star Current, 4 star potential, and I pay say €5M for him, because he doesn't have enough international experience, he doesn't qualify for a work permit. So I have to loan him out, hope he develops wherever I send him, and when he gets back, I can slot him in. Or I have to chase younger players with international experience who command a higher transfer fee and interest from other teams. As a result Selhurst Park have turned into the English version of Juventus, at least the early years of Juve sending out forty players a year on loan... Transfers Out: Transfer window wise I was not as active as I could have been. With the new restrictions, I'm trying to temper my spending, plus for some reason I am only getting 75% of the revenue at the moment. Another problem is that I have a good team, not a great team in my opinion in my opinion, but the players I think I need to replace to make the Eagles great are all at the top of the Dynamics pyramid. So, not only do I need to sign players that can make the team better, I need to sign players who are going to move up the pyramid as well. So, easy job... Ginter leaving was bothersome on many levels. He wanted to play Champions Cup football, we got into the Champions Cup by winning the EURO, and he was still mad, and he was upsetting the locker room. Usually I try not to send a player to a team competing in the same league, but Tottenham were enamored with him, to the point they offered €10M for than the other suitors. In for 17.5, out for 32M. Scott Dann also started complaining, mostly about lack of playing time. With Ginter and the youth movement, he was more of a rotation player, with 25(6) appearances last season, and his Physicals were falling. He casme in demanding more time, I said no, he pitched a fit, and now he's playing for Ufa in the Russian Premier League. Let him serve as a warning to others.... The only other out was Cole DaSilva, a D(RL) I brought in and just never developed, even after a year as a starter on one of my better affiliate teams. Chesterfield made an unsolicited offer for him, and out he went. Everyone else is either a young player who needs first team playing time, or an older player who's not going to see first team playing time here. Some of the players who went out are new to the club. Transfers In: Jetmir Mehmeti is am 18 year old prospect from Switzerland, 1 1/2 star current, 4 1/2 star potential AM(CR). And no work permit, but he's on a free. Philip Udo is a 20 year old Nigerian D(C) with very good physicals, and surprisingly, he's been capped at the U23 level. And surprisingly, he was denied a work permit. He's at Trabzonspor, and he's having a very nice season. Marco Varnier is a 21 D(C) with international experience, and he got a work permit, even though his international experience is the same as Udo's. 2 1/2 star current, 4 1/2 star potential, he will be part of the first team rotation. David Phillip and Laszlo Kleinheisler come from Bremen, a team that has been tumbling down the Bundelsiga. Phillip is a 19 year old AM(C)/M(C)/DM prospect, 1 1/2 star current, 3 1/2 star potential, on loan to a team in Romania. Kleinheisler is a 2 1/12 star current, 2 1/2 star potential 26 year old Hungarian with a work permit. But more importantly, he plays every position in the midfield and advanced midfield very well, and is a very good AM(C). which means when he's not starting, he's on the bench, and he'll see game time every game. And he's a pretty good tutor as well. Phil McCartney I signed to for U23 and U19 depth purposes. A 20 year old North Irishman, he has an International Cap and several U23 Caps as well. 2 star Current, 4 1/2 star potential, well worth the money spent IMO. Niklas Sule is Ginters replacement. And he's better than Ginter in many areas. A 4 star current and potential player, He's going to be the rock in the center of our D-Line. I wasn't looking for Alfred Duncan. My scouts found him in Italy, where he had a solid career at Sassuolo. He is a natural Segundo Volante at the DM, and a natural Carrilero and BTM at the M(C), and I think he's a bargain at €18.5M. So, with all the new players on the squad, I wanted to have a pretty aggressive training schedule, but I didn't want to overdo it. But that's walking a fine edge, you want to keep your players challenged, but you also don't want to do the wrong thing by scheduling opponents who are that much better than you. You also don;t want to schedule a bunch of patsies as well. I thought I did OK in scheduling my riendlies. For the most part, I was wrong. JULY/AUGUST: Cardiff is in the Championship, but I thought they would be a good challenge. Likewise, Sparta Prague has been at the top of the Czech top division for years, and beating them was a bit surprising. Bury is a League One team that most of my U23's played against, and they were OK. Barnet and Zaglebie are two of my bigger affiliates, and the wins there were nice. Macclesfield and Eastleigh are both Vanarama teams, and the plan was to start my first teamers for a half hour, then sub them all out. We were up 5-0 up at Macclesfield when I subbed out, and 6-0 at Eastleigh. That may have been a mistake. Arsenal bossed us in the Champions cup. Then Bournemouth beat us, at home, to open the season. Ben Woodburn's brace was all they needed, and even though we outshot them and had 55/45 possession advantage, we still lost. Then, against newly promoted Wolves, we tied, but only because Puncheons 92nd minute goal salvaged it for us. We got ourselves right against Everton, Kleiheisler and Schlupp with solid strikes. September/October: I wasn't sure how this part of the season was going to break down. After our champions Cup Draw, I was less sure: Yes. Real Madrid, Juventus, Sparta Prague. And after my Premier League start, I wasn't sure how well we'd do. I would be happy with a 3rd place and Back to the Euro finish, I really would. But we started of ok, and then got better. Like, really better: The West Ham game really should have gone to them, as they outshot us 28/7, and had 8 shots on goal to our 4. Our defense though, which gave me such fits last season, was solid, and despite only having 37% possession, Isak and Stindl goals were enough to see them thru. Then came Real Madris. I was expecting a fight, I wasn't expecting a 3-1 home victory. Maximin, Lerma and Kleinheisler more than enough to offset Bales 30th minute shot. I think beating Real Madrid handily made something in the team click, because they went on a tear. 4-1 win at West Brom, who were as man down after the 35th minute. Goals by Lerma, Stindl, Varnier and Isak. 5-2 against Tottenham in the Carabao, although it required extra time after Stindls 26th minute penalty was blocked. Maximin with a brace, Duncam Palencia and Townsend with the extra time scores. 4-2 at Man City, Isak's Hat Trick one better than Sanchez's brace. There were actually 4 goals in 4 minutes this match, Lerma in the 25th, Isak in the 26th and 27th, and then Sanchez in the 28th. Thats got to be some sort of record. We owned Sparta Prague. To the point they got so frustrated taht hey had two men sent of, one oin the 81st and one in the 85th minute, but by then it was 6-1. Stindl had a brace, Isak had a brace, Zaha, Maximin and Kleinheisler all scoring. Isak's 80th minute score saved the Leicester game for us. The Foxes played us hard, but fell short. Watford sort of gave up after Reidwalds 25th minute goal, preferring to sit back and let us attack. So we did. Then came Juventus away, and I was happy to come away with the draw. Zaha and Sule scored in this one, and fairly even match. We reverted to our last season performance in the match against Chlsea, beating them handily until forgetting the game can last longer than 90 minutes, as Belotti salvaged a draw with a 91st minute shot. We roared back against Newcastle in the Carabao though, as Isak and Zaha braces were more than enough to shut the Magpies down. November/December: I got an early Christmas gift. At least I think it was a gift: The National team, not to put it so nicely, blew chunks in the 2019 season. In a group with Denmark, Greece, Georgia, Kazakhstan and Hungary, they finished FOURTH. 3 wins, a draw (greece), and 4 losses. I am reasonably sure Southgate quit before he was fired. In fact, he was so humiliated by his teams performance, he retired, and it no longer in the database. I wish I was kidding. The team came to me a week later and said "You want to try and recover this mess?" ANd like an idiot, I said "For 87K a week, why not? Her Indoors wants a new Aston Martin anyways..." I have next to no idea what I am doing on the national squad. I brought on a few scouts, scheduled a couple of friendlies, and somehow play Slovakia in a playoff Semi Final? Anyhow, the season continues: The Huddersfield game wasn't that close, as yet another late goal was given top the opponent. Juventus came to Selhurst Park and were flat. At least if you don;t look at the stats they appeared that way. Stats wise the game was pretty even, but a Lerma brace, and another late goal surrendered by the defense, this time in the 86th minute, saw us beat Juve and go to the top of the Group. Tottenham outshot us, but none were near the goal, while a 3rd minute Sule goal and a 14th minute Isak goal were more than enough to secure the win. Were fighting with Arsenal for top of the League, and the Gunners came at us. A back and forth game, they went ahead 3-2 on an de Ligt 70th minute strike, but Twonsends second shot of the game, in the 89th minute, blew by Cech, and we salvaged the draw. As tired as we were, with all the games being played, Real Madrid tried running us into the pitch. 27 shots, 12 on target, 56% possession. Bale and Kovacic goals were equalized by Isak and Stindl, with tindls coming in the 89th minute. We had a chance to win it, but Stindls 97th(!) minute penalty was blocked by a diving Donnarumma right in front of Isak, but the whistle blew before he could get it off. A bittersweet tie, to be sure. Liverpool fell apart the last five minutes of the game, multiple fouls, penalties, and errors allowed Kleinheisler and Zaha to score back to back goals in the 87th and 89th minute. So Newcastle came to our house. I wasn't paying attention to the press conference, and may have probably OK I did insult the Magpies and their coach. They responded by scoring 4 goals in 30 minutes, and that was all she wrote. Sparta Prague brought their "A" game to Selhurst, and if not for a missed 86th minute PK, would have gotten a deserved win. As it stood, they missed, and in the 91st minute Zaha scored on a nifty Isak cross to secure the win, and the top of the Group. We were a tired team by this point, and before the match Phil McCartney, a player on my U23 squad, asked for more playing time. I said sure, and started him in place of Isak, who desperately needed a rest. The Irish lad resoponded by scoring a Hat Trick against Villa. Granted they are fighting relegation, but a Hat Trick in your Premier League debut? Very Nice. We laid an absolute egg against Fulham. They were a man down after 10 minutes, as David Davis was sent off for having such a stupid name....actually it was a horrible two footed lunge that started about fifteen yards away from the play, but still. We were attacking, but their defense held, then in the 77th minute they hit us on the counter, and Fonte scored a nice goal, which was all they needed for the win. We got ourselves right against Stoke, hammering them into the pitch, outclassing them in almost every category and phase of the game. Duncan and Isak goals were more than we needed to secure the victory. Two, yes TWO, days later, we eked out a draw at Southampton. I think everyone on the squad started at around 90% health, because we also had U23 and U19 games the day before. There was some good news, as Isak won European Golden boy. There are some uncomfortable rumblings though, as both Lerma and Zaha are making noises about wanting to move to a better team. Were 2nd in the Premier League, behind Man United, with Arsenal and Chelsea nipping at our heels, and they want to leave for greener pastures (IE Chelsea and PSG apparently.) I may be more active in the transfer window than I want to be. 2020 looks promising, and with a little bit of luck, we may just find ourselves at the top of the heap come Summer. As long as we can keep pushing this rock in front of us, and avoid the injury bug, I think we can. Thanks for reading and following! Jellico73