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About scott92507

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    An American in Southern California learning to appreciate the other kind of football.

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    Ross County, Barnet

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  1. How do you blow a 12-point lead with 15 games left in the season? By losing nearly £240 million worth of players to injuries: Strikers #1 and #2, left winger #1, and right winger #1. They go out about a month and suddenly winning games is very difficult. Barnet’s record was 9-2-4 in the final stretch. On the last day of the season they were 3 points ahead of Manchester City. If the Bees lost and Man City won, they would be tied, and Barnet had just a one-goal lead in goal difference. Manchester City won 3-0 that day, but Barnet managed to beat Chelsea 2-1. That means three league titles in the past four seasons — by 1 point, by 2 points, and then by 3 points. It is a slow path toward toward league domination! jk Monty was selected Coach of the Year. Diego Simeone at Manchester United was apparently so disheartened by not winning the league title two years in a row that he resigned. He had been at ManU just about as long as Monty has been at Barnet. Monty entered the Hall of Fame for coaches (whatever that is). Andres Bohorquez won his second scoring title in the Premier League. Simon Jensen got the last laugh, though, as he was named the best player in the world. Football a Manager needs to get a new pattern. Last year, Barnet competed with Manchester United for the league title and was knocked out by them in the Carabao Cup, the FA Cup, and the European Champions Cup. This season Barnet competed with Manchester City for the league title and was knocked out of the Carabao Cup and the FA Cup by them. They faced them in the quarter final of the European Champions Cup and barely won, 2-1 on aggregate thanks to an own-goal in the second leg. The years were similar also in that they involved Barnet playing ManU/ManCity three times in two weeks, as league matches immediately followed the Cup matches. The Bees made it to the semi-finals of the European Champions Cup for the first time, losing to Bayern Munich. Atletico Madrid beat Manchester United to compete in the final, and Madrid beat Bayern for the title. Manchester City beat Manchester United for the FA Cup.
  2. Transfers. Jose will join Barnet in a year. He has 4-5 star potential. Perhaps he will replace Bruno Castro, if Monty cashes in on Castro. He cost £6 million but could fetch £100 million. Jose cost £10 million. Wesley Goncalvez cost £14.5 million and has 3-4 star potential. He is taking the place of Damir Advucik, who Monty has sold to Juventus for £40 million (he was valued at £35 million before the sale and has suddenly jumped in value with the move to Italy). Advucik has been with the club for several years. He was the third-choice center back, but he has been supplanted by Pedro Costa and would drop to the fourth-choice center back soon as Samuel Timmermans keeps improving. He has a resolute personality, so he is useful in mentoring. But his sale will finance all of the purchases in this transfer window. He was always intended as a backup, and he served that purpose. Goncalvez is just about as good as he is now, but has more room for improvement, The youth development coach put in a bid on a midfielder who has 4-star potential, so Monty let the transfer go through: £12.75 million.
  3. Monty knows many games remain to be played, but he is very happy that arch-enemy Manchester United seems to be dropping out of contention for the league title by mid-January. A lot can happen in the remaining 15 games. Monty knows that. But the Bees have never had a lead this large, regardless of the time of year. Barnet avenged its 3-1 loss to Arsenal by beating them at Canons Park 4-0. Beating ManU 3-1 at home was especially sweet. Bohorquez still suffers from red arrow syndrome, but he has kept up the scoring pace with penalty shots. Real Madrid has come knocking for Bruno Castro, offering £98 million and then £108 million. Monty isn't answering the door yet.
  4. Forgive Monty if he let the staff get carried away with the Christmas decorations at the Three Wishes. Barnet sits atop the table at mid-season, and since such things can change quickly in football, Monty wants to celebrate the good times when they are in hand. The Bees have lost just one game, and that was just recently against Arsenal. Their striker always gives Barnet trouble, even when Monty man-marks him the entire game. This time was no different, and Arsenal beat Barnet 3-1. Monty is aware that Manchester United has two games in hand, and they could quickly jump to second place. In the European Champions Cup group stage, Barnet was tied with Atletico Madrid going into the last game. The Bees had split with Atletico and they were both likely to win their final matches -- so the key was goal difference. Barnet needed to win by 5 to secure the top spot in the group. They did that, beating Zenit 6-1. Andres Bohorquez had a brace and Bruno Castro had a hat trick. Barnet has drawn Valencia for the first knockout round. Bohorquez leads the league in scoring, with 12 at the break. (He has 18 in all competitions.) But he seems to be in a bit of a funk. Lots of down arrows on his attributes at the moment. Monty has been resting him, but he cannot let up too much as Castro was injured recently and will be out a month. Welsh goalkeeper Lee Jones is 34 years old now and has started to show his age. He stumbles more often and his reactions are not as sharp. Monty recently re-signed him to a two-year contract, knowing that would end with his retirement. He felt Jones was owed the raise for his service. Since he joined Barnet, he won league and continental awards as best 'keeper. He was been the starter for two league titles, a EURO Cup trophy, an FA Cup, and four Carabao Cups. In a few days his replacement will join the club -- and start learning English. Monty purchased Croatian Dario Kozul from Dinamo for £30 million. Kozul will be the second-choice goalkeeper for the rest of the season and then probably the first-choice next season.
  5. A tight race for first place in the Premier League. Manchester United started as it did last season, with two early losses, but they have recovered quickly, Manchester City and Chelsea look to be in dangerous form. Andres Bohorquez, Barnet’s Colombian striker, was disrespected by the media in preseason predictions for top goal scorers — despite winning the Golden Boot last season: 23 league goals, 40 in all competitions. This disrespect did not set well with him, it seems. He has 10 league goals already, and 14 overall in 14 games. Monty missed out on the competition for world class left winger Matteo Chiavelli, so he moved Bruno Castro to the left and things have been going well. He told Castro that he needed 10 combined goals and assists before the mid-season break, or else Monty would need to transfer list him. I guess Castro wants to stay in North London, because he has 6 goals and 5 assists long before December.
  6. The media predicts Barnet to finish the season in 5th place, which I think is another improvement by one. The media predicted the Bees to finish in 7th a few seasons in a row, even after they won the league. Then last year, they predicted Barnet to finish in 6th. They won the league again, so now the media predicts 5th place. And they are trolling Barnet's strikers again. Among the players predicted to compete for the most goals scored, last year's champion, Andres Bohorquez, is not listed. Instead, a young player who has yet to play a regular season game for Barnet is predicted compete. He is a potential star, but he does not warrant any wagers. Monty may be looking to leave Barnet soon. He does not know if he will try to stay close to home and manage another team in a lower league, such as Boreham Wood, to see if he can raise another team up the English ladder, or if he will skip off to Spain and manage a team on Ibiza or Majorca. (That would require loading up to Spanish leagues into FM, though.)
  7. Never mind. I don’t think Chiavelli wanted to come to Barnet after all. Monty offered him the same money, £15 million, and he signed with Chelsea anyway.
  8. I think a version of “scum saving” is OK when it comes to negotiating with players. Chiavelli requested £11-12 million per year, and Barnet said “yes.” Then a few days later Chelsea announced they had signed him for £15 million. The game would be more realistic if Barnet had been made aware of that offer, and IRL the agent would have come back to Barnet with the opportunity to match Chelsea’s offer — and then gone to Chelsea for the opportunity to raise it higher. But would Barnet match that? Would a salary of £15 million blow up the team’s salary structure or sabotage the team’s chemistry? Do I want to revert to an earlier save and offer him the higher amount? Chelsea has 10 players who make more than £10 million per year. Barnet has none. Barnet has two players who earn more than £9 million.
  9. What do you do? In practical terms, the Barnet board of directors would be happy with the way things are. The Bees do not compete with the major clubs salarywise, but they manage to consistently qualify for ECC play, they win the Premier League on occasion, and they turn a profit. Why spend a lot of money to do more? They have a mid-size stadium — about 38,000 — so they cannot compete with Tottenham and the Manchester’s for ticket sales. Perhaps once they have a bigger stadium (if ever) they could try to become a true European power. But would it be worth the risk? Monty is asking these questions because one of the best left wingers in Europe (the world?) wants to play for Barnet: Matteo Chiavelli. Monty can afford to meet his £68 million release clause with Juventus. And with a budget adjustment, he could afford to the £10-11 million annual salary the player wants. But Chiavelli would be the Bees’ first £10 million salaryman, and that would possibly open the door for wage requests from other players. (Securing his services would keep him potentially from playing for Chelsea, who also bid on him.) Is Barnet prepared to pay players that much on a regular basis, which would be the sign they are trying to go toe-to-toe with the Manchesters and other top flight teams? Or should they be happy playing the role of overachiever? Barnet’s starting left winger, Martin Petersen, was just named to the Premier League’s best 11. Is his reward to be instantly replaced? You can see from the comparison that Chiavelli is better, although he plays a different role. Petersen is an attacking winger; he records more goals than assists. Chiavelli concentrates on support; perhaps he could help unlock Castro’s potential?
  10. It is summertime in Canons Park, which is adjacent to the Bees' stadium in Edgeware. Folks are enjoying the sunshine, but Monty is in his office at the stadium, working the phones and watching scouting video of players. As they say, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." You could argue a club that can win the Premier League and make it to the semi-finals of the European Champions Cup is not broken. Monty would agree. Barnet is not broken, but it seems to be missing something. Some final piece to the puzzle -- especially when it comes to Manchester United. They knocked Barnet out of the FA Cup and the European Champions Cup, and they lost the league title by a single point. It seems that if Barnet is to achieve more, they will need to figure out how to beat ManU. However, Monty is not sure Barnet has the bankroll for that. Of course, the Bees have more than £200 million in the bank, but ManU has more. ManU always has more. In one match last season, Monty noticed how small his starting midfielders were. The opposing team was so much taller and stronger; they were pushing his players off the ball. So he decided to do something about that. Monty spent big money on Jonas Dreher before last season and was paying him a big salary (relative to Barnet's overall budget). He picked up Tim Albrecht a couple of seasons ago to take the place of Vitor, and he was making a good wage too. But the Germans were 5-7 and 5-8 and each weighed less than 160 pounds. The young players are big enough: Kevin Ampuero and Gregor Cairns both have 4-star potential. But they are not ready to be regular starters. Dreher was a big disappointment all season. Monty paid £56 million for him and paid him £7.5 million to play, but he averaged less than 7.0 player rating, and by the end of the season Monty was reluctant to have him in the starting lineup. So Monty bid on some bigger midfielders in the transfer market and put a for-sale sign on Dreher. He accepted £45 million for him from Atletico Madrid (the same buyers of Vitor a few seasons back); that meant about a £10 million loss on him, but it also got £7.5 million off the salary budget. He bid on a world class midfielder but lost him to PSG -- he is French, and he turned down a bigger contract to return to his homeland. However, he did sign Freddy Salinas, a Chilean midfielder, who is tall and strong; he cost £43 million for the transfer fee and will play for £5.1 million. Monty missed out on one midfielder that he wanted, so he will make do with Albrecht and increase the playing time for Ampuero and Cairns. Perhaps they will develop faster than expected and he can see off tiny Albrecht, too. Monty was sorely disappointed to miss out on the other midfielder; he was a bargain for less than £40 million. In the meantime, Monty has not solved the puzzle of Bruno Castro. He cannot understand why Bohorquez gets the goals that Castro does not. Castro is popular with the fans, but even they have started to express their frustration with his lack of production. And Monty cannot justify paying him £8 million per year for such lackluster scoring. Monty told Castro that he will be transfer listed if he does not have 10 combined goals and assists by December.
  11. Poor Stoke. They have bounced in and out of the Premier League for several seasons now. They came in with Barnet, but they have not managed to climb.
  12. Two seasons ago, Barnet beat Manchester United by two points to win the league trophy. This season, the Bees won by a single point. ManU had been trailing Barnet by a point for the last six games of the season. On the last day, Barnet needed a victory, or a ManU loss, or mutual draws to secure the title. Against Arsenal, they were down 3-2, and then tied 3-3 — but they needed to win since ManU had won its game earlier in the day. The game ended 6-3, with 4 goals by Andres Bohorquez, and the Bees were champions again. Bohorquez’s goals gave him 23 in league play and the scoring title. It was a wild end to a wild month, as he scored 12 goals in league and European Champions Cup games in that time. Lee Kelly started the day in the lead, with 20 goals, but he was scoreless. Simon Jensen, the expected Golden Boot winner, started with 19 and scored one. Bohorquez leapfrogged them. He scored the same number Bruno Castro scored in his debut season to also win the scoring title. However, Bohorquez scored 40 in all competitions to set a new Barnet record. Lee Jones was selected as the best goalkeeper in the league again. He has become an overachiever, but age is starting to show. He may be the starting keeper next year, but Monty will need to rotate him more often and develop some new talent. The season ended with Monty bidding on a Chelsea goalkeeper. They want £112 million, but Monty so far has gone only as high as £62 million. I bet they do not meet in the middle. Despite wining the goalkeeper award, Jones was not selected for the League’s Best 11. The roster for that reflected the fact that Barnet and Manchester United dominated the table. No other teams are represented. And Monty was selected as the Head Coach of the Year over Diego Simone of ManU. However, it is clear that ManU is the better team. Teams that Barnet beat 1-0, ManU beat 3-0. In direct competition, Barnet won just once. In league play, Barnet lost and drew. In FA Cup play, they lost in penalty kicks. In the semifinals of the European Champions Cup they won and lost, and lost on aggregate goals, 2-1. Despite Monty’s dislike of Park the Bus tactics, he deployed them against ManU. It was a doubledecker, turned on its side, and set ablaze. Two tight rows of defenders with a lone striker waiting at the far end of the pitch for any stray pass. (The loan goal for Barnet was a penalty shot by Bohorquez.) Manchester United beat Juventus for the European Champions title. They apparently did not care to win the FA Cup but wanted only to troll Barnet. After knocking out the Bees they played their scrubs against Brighton and lost. Liverpool then beat Brighton for that trophy.
  13. I played the Barnet-ManU match multiple times, looking for a game plan that would give the Bees a chance to win. The best result I could muster was a 0-0 draw with Park the Bus, but I hate Park the Bus. That tactic is excusable only when you are protecting a lead, otherwise it is a tacit admission of inferiority. And it is horrible to endure; you let the other team bang away for 90 minutes and hope they never score. So when I played the game "for real," I had our standard defensive game plan, which is 4-2-1-3, with the 2 being defensive midfielders (a half back and an anchor). Barnet lost away, 3-0. It is frustrating, but Monty must admit that Manchester United is just better, bigger, and faster than Barnet. After the defeat, the Bees have a 1-point lead on ManU. The only way they can win the league title is by winning every game the rest of the way -- because I really doubt ManU is going to lose another game. Fortunately, Barnet rebounded from the loss to beat 4th place Manchester City, 2-0. Then they handled Milan at home to advance to the second knockout round in the European Champions Cup -- they will play Atletico Madrid. And then they traveled one more time to Old Trafford, to play Manchester United in the sixth round of the FA Cup. Perhaps because of their own fixture congestion, ManU played a rotated team against Barnet. The match was closer, 2-2, but the Bees lost in the penalty shootout after extra time. Barring a late-season meltdown, Barnet has a 1st or 2nd place finish secure. That should feel good, but the inability to beat ManU makes everything feel bad. Monty is bummed.
  14. So far, so good. The game with Milan ended 0-0 at San Siro. Better than a loss, but no away goal means Barnet needs to beat Milan outright at home. Any goals in a draw means Milan advances. Monty sent his best 11 against Arsenal for the Carabao Cup final and won. The trophy monkey is off his back. Then everyone was sent home to rest for 2 days. The players were instructed to take it easy, and they were given DVDs of Tottenham games to review. Monty started his best 11 again against The Spurs, and they won to maintain their 4-point lead over Manchester United. Then came the game Monty was willing to sacrifice. He sent out the second- and third-choice players at each position, and used his tiki taka formation. He instructed the players to slow the game down, to keep Chelsea from taking shots because they have one of the best strikers in the league. This formation has lots of potential triangles, so tiki taka works well in it. The young players were not interested in sacrificing anything. They kept the ball in Chelsea’s end of the field for most of the game. As extra time was winding down, a Chelsea player received his second yellow card — they played extra time with 10 men. The deciding goal was scored by a Danish forward making his debut for the Bees. Barnet won the privilege to face Manchester United in the sixth round, just a few days after playing them in the league match. But at least Monty’s best 11 will be rested for their biggest game of the season. Barnet’s unbeaten streak has reached 38 games.
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