EvilDave

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  1. Qatar is a long way from Australia, and our Qantas flight seemed to take forever to make it to the Middle East, My wife and kids stayed very much at home as I pursued Champions League glory, and so I spent most of my waking hours on the flight going over tactical details with Jade North. He didn’t seem all that enthused - we very rarely changed the way we play significantly - but it passed the time before touchdown rather nicely. Two days later, we lined up at the stadium in Doha with everyone but ourselves expecting the home team to take us to town. The Qatari side were defending champions but had only scraped through their first knockout round on penalties, and we had already proven against the likes of Seoul and Guangzhou that we had the ability to take on the bigger teams and win. With a full-strength team on the field, we fancied our chances. In the first half, the nerves of both teams began to show. Chances were snatched at and shots drifted wide, while passes in the midfield were rushed and found touch far too often. The 23,000 spectators in the stand must have wondered what they had let themselves in for, how Adelaide had ever made it this far and how Al-Gharrafa had ever won the competition less than a year ago. Unsurprisingly, it was goalless at the break, and that suited me just fine. The same eleven trotted out for the second half, and this time things were a little more controlled. The Qataris, led by former Spurs forward Nacer Chadli, tried to speed things up and cause our defence problems, but we stood firm and strong against their attacks. We too looked dangerous, and the end of one swift counter saw Uribe’s shot blocked and roll into the path of Seamus Brown, who made no mistake from 11 yards out. The away goal gave us a lift, and if the home team had been finding things difficult before, they looked even less likely to score now. Chadli cut an increasingly frustrated figure on the Doha turf - so much so that his manager took it upon himself to substitute his star player - and with just two minutes to go, we struck again. Uribe was again involved by holding up the ball, and his reverse pass found Adams at full speed to drive home a rising shot. Two away goals, 2-0 to Adelaide, and surely a place in the semi-finals? Well, yes. In the return leg a fortnight later, Al-Gharrafa looked leggy and tired after their long flight from Qatar. Just 20 minutes in, debutant Lucas Docherty stepped up and hit a skidding free-kick under the dive of their unsighted goalkeeper, and on the stroke of half-time Jamal Hill turned in a corner to give us an unassailable lead. The visitors finally pulled one back through the boot of Yannick N’Djeng midway through the second period, but they had left themselves far too much to do. We would face Saudi Arabia’s Al-Ittihad in the final four and, on the basis of recent years - and despite back-to-back Asian titles in 2004 and 2005 - they actually had the weakest pedigree of our three knockout opponents. Those ties would not be played under after the start of the A-League season, so we would have fixture congestion to deal with, but even so the thought very much remained - we could actually win this.
  2. Good job bouncing back in the CL, and maintaining domestic dominance even after selling so many of your stars. Is the threat of FFP gone for good now do you think?
  3. So the takeover finally happens, and it's thoroughly uneventful. The loan puts us just over 100k in the black, which will hopefully be helped by CL prize money. If it isn't, we're stuffed financially.
  4. Call Me Stan Part 6 - Kazakhstan Shakhter Karagandy - Midseason 2026 What's new? Not a huge amount, to be honest. We made a few changes over the summer - mainly stealing Kazakh under-21s from Kayrat to bolster our quota - and then set about trying to defend our title. We've lost just the once - away to Kayrat, and we haven't played our first home game yet - which is the same number of times as our Almaty rivals, but a few sloppy draws (0-0 vs Astana and two 2-2 ties with Akjayyk) mean we're sat in their slipstream. To be honest, I think we might have angered the beast by winning the title last season. Kayrat won the first game of the season 9-1 against Spartak, and in game four beat Tobyl 9-2. We've got a job on our hands to retain the title. Obviously we have to host our rivals before the split, which will be absolutely key. If we can beat them we'll draw to within a point, and as soon as the European campaigns begin there is ample potential for dropped points, as we saw last year. I'm quite looking forward to the Champions League at this point, although I suspect a poor seeding will mean a relatively short campaign. Nevertheless, the rep boost won't go amiss. In Uzbek watch, not a single managerial position in the Oliy Liga has become available in the first half of the season. That means I'm now far more likely to keep half an eye on Russia - if a Tatar, Dagestani or Bashkir club comes up, Stan may just have to go for it.
  5. Thanks tyler, appreciate you reading along. With regard to moving clubs, it's not something I've done too much of before - normally I'm a one-club man or limit my moves to two or three. However, with this save I've found it relatively easy to jump around, I think mainly because the leagues are generally small and so fairly repetitive. I was really glad to get out of Turkmenistan in one year, for example, because a 4x9 league system would get really dull after a while! I'd have happily stayed at Pyunik if I wasn't doing this challenge, and I've no problems sticking around in Karaganda either for the time being - I feel like I might be able to leave them ahead of Kayrat, which I haven't really done as yet. Thanks for reading! International management is something I've never really taken to on FM before, but if the right job comes up - it'd probably have to be the Stan I was in at club level - then double duty might be a possibility. I feel like Uzbekistan should be capable of getting to a World Cup - they've made the play-off in the past - so that one certainly has some appeal to it...
  6. Sent and claimed, cheers guys!
  7. Call Me Stan Part 6 - Kazakhstan Shakhter Karagandy - End of season 2025 So, did you keep your form up? Let's start with Europe, if only because I actually have something to report this time. We started in the first round of Europa qualifying, and beat Maltese outfit Tarxien Rainbows comfortably to set up a tie with Neftchi Baku - who I beat as Pyunik boss in the CL. The result was the same this time, and we booked a third round clash with Slovenian side Koper, who had stunned Portuguese club Vitoria de Guimaraes in the previous round. We were underdogs but won through to the play-off, where our reward for unexpected progress was Real Sociedad. We never stood a chance. Back at home, the Europa games meant we were often playing three times in a week, and we struggled for consistency and fitness as the games piled up. We were still one of the two best teams in the country in terms of results, but ultimately wound up with a fairly similar result to last season - going from 28-3-5 to 28-4-4, conceding the same number of goals and scoring five more. But would it be enough? Yes! The fans were delighted, the board a bit reserved given it was the first title for a decade, and we qualified for the CL to boot. As I predicted at the half-way point, Jetysu fell away completely in the second half of the season - at one point they went six or seven games without a win - so the fight came down to Stan and Vlad, orange and yellow, Shakhter and Kayrat. We were helped by Europe in that as much as we struggled, so did the Almaty outfit - they dropped from the CL to the Europa and actually made the groups, giving them three more games before the end of the season. In the all-important first clash after the split we held them 1-1 at home to keep the gap at four points, and that gave us the safety net we needed to not have to worry about being thumped at their place - which we were. For some reason our title wasn't confirmed until after the final game despite us holding the tiebreaker, but Kayrat lost 4-0 at Jetsyu on the last day to make the table look that little bit nicer. Our 76 wouldn't have won any of the last four titles, but it would have won every won from 2013-2020 - perhaps a sign that things are finally balancing themselves out again. Who starred? The squad performed well, and we used a lot of players again. The star however was our skipper and trequartista extraordinaire, Vadim Afanasjev. He topped the league charts for ratings and assists, and popped up with key goals time after time. Speaking of goals, Andrey Kovalenko matched Khamzin's 20 in far fewer games to claim our scoring title, and gave us a valuable second option in attack. At the back, Bosman signing Valery Amankulov was an absolute rock in the heart of our defence, while goalkeeper Tariel Khandrava was a marked improvement on last season and a key part of our success, particularly in Europe. What sort of state are Shakhter in these days? Financially we dragged ourselves out of the mud with the Europa run, but it still isn't great. We had some good young talent come through the system, and with nothing really available on the Uzbek scene and a new spot in the Russian Hall of Fame, Stan decided to commit to Karaganda for the immediate future. One other thing to note is that we're likely to get a new chairman soon - we've already had one takeover bid fail, so Stan will probably have a new boos before long. So what next? As mentioned, there's nothing in Uzbekistan, and it doesn't look like there will be unless something drastic happens - the average tenure of a manager there is several years, and there have been no dramatic losses in form. I've no interest in the second tier there either - the season is 50+ games long, and it just doesn't appeal. I'd like to have a crack at the CL with Shakhter and try and regain the title, and then if nothing comes up across the border I'll have a decision to make - go for something lower down and bite the bullet, cross to Russia should one of the appropriate jobs come up, or stick it out in Karaganda. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it, but for now Stan will stay put. Stans conquered: 4/5 - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, UzbekistanBonus Stans: 1/3 - Hayastan (Armenia), Talyshistan (in Azerbaijan), Dagestan/Tatarstan/Bashkortostan (in Russia)
  8. Our friendlies were up and running - there were only seven this year thanks to our Champions League commitments, and we won all seven comfortably - when Rachel and I sat down to discuss what happened next. On the one hand, if I were to play ignorant, win the competition and wait for the fallout, there could be a chance of salvaging the situation. On the other, Iain Dougan, a supposed friend of my boss, had told me not just to leave the club but to leave Adelaide - something which would have implications for Rachel, Bethan and Rebecca as well as just me. The fact that Dougan had urged me away from the authorities suggested there was some serious foul play involved, and I had no desire to see my family caught up in the criminal underworld. My male bravado made me comfortable with the idea of protecting myself, but I couldn’t be in several places at once and if anything were to happen to my wife or children, it would break me. If Adelaide’s dark side came for my family, I wouldn’t know what to do. One option, Rachel suggested, would be to hire private security. This could take a number of forms, from visible men outside the family home and minders at school to cameras, panic buttons and passwords. There were certainly levels on which this appealed - the world of James Bond brought to little old Owain - but I couldn’t subject my children to that. They were the daughters of a football manager, not the president of a banana republic or international business empire. No, we had to count that out. After much deliberation, it seemed like the only choice I had was to leave. I already had it in mind to leave at the end of our Champions League campaign, citing a failure to take the team any further. Rachel agreed, and so the wheels were put in motion to try and find my next club on the proviso than any move could not be instant. This time the considerations were a lot more tricky than the move from Prestatyn, and the circumstances a lot more difficult. This time, I would hire an agent. I finally signed terms with someone three days before our trip to Al-Gharrafa, and it was a huge weight off my mind to do so. Dean Thomson was a shrewd, intelligent operator with his finger on the pulse of chairmen and board across the globe, and was only too happy to agree a deal with me. He understood my apprehension at signing with an agency and preferring to work one-on-one, and his selectivity when it came to his clients impressed me. When I explained my situation to him, he did not seem remotely phased. “Let’s get the Champions League over and done with, I’ll let you know what’s out there and you can tell me what you consider non-negotiable. I know you don’t like the sound of it Owain, but it may actually be in your best interests to ignore the A-League and go all out for the ACL. A continental title would make you a much more attractive proposition than leaving a team top of a table seven or eight games into a new season.” Say what you like about the man’s morality and choice of profession, but he certainly had his head screwed on.
  9. Sadly I don't have those leagues available to me, otherwise I'd be tempted - this way at least stick with the FSU vibe, however. Call Me Stan Part 6 - Kazakhstan How is the new season shaping up? So far it's been interesting and promising, which are two words I have no particular objection to. Things didn't get off to a great start when Kayrat, with more than a little help from the referee, beat us in the Super Cup. Vladimir Weiss ended up renewing his deal there, so we lock horns again. In the other domestic cup we also suffered an undeserved defeat to dump us out at an early stage. In the league however, we've been flying. We lost away to Kayrat but won at home, and have only dropped points in one other match - a shock defeat at lowly Irtysh Pavlodar. Other than that, the squad is settled, the tactic is working, and we're doing very well. You must be out in front? We are - but Stan has not had it all his own way. Firstly, at the end of last season we decided that there was no way Kayrat could be as good again, and we were right - but they've still got a very good team. Also, I mentioned that Jetsyu had lost their tycoon backing and could be in trouble. About that... I thought I'd post the full table for detail here. Kayrat are still the best team in the country on paper, we're currently performing brilliantly, and Jetsyu have made it a genuine three-way fight for the title. Just look at the gap from 3rd to 4th - the rest of the league are largely irrelevant. So far, we've lost twice - away to Kayrat and Irtysh. Jetsyu have lost away to Kayrat, ourselves, and then dropped points in their last two games with a 5-3 loss at Tobyl and a home draw with Aktobe. Kayrat lost at our place and Aktobe, but were also held at Vostok in the second game of the season, and since losing to us have drawn two games - against Spartak and away at Akjayyk. So, it's tight at the top. Kayrat at still the big danger in my eyes, but they've already dropped four more points than they did in the whole of last season. Jetsyu shouldn't be able to last the pace, but they've managed in so far and keep on winning. However, for the time being we top the table and have the advantage on games won, which could come into play at the end of the season. What I do know is the games between the three of us post-split are going to be crucial. That's the time of the season when Europe comes into play, and when the cup - which we're no longer in - reaches the latter stages as well. We could have a thrilling finale on our hands, and it might all come down to who can rotate their squad better. It's bound to be close.
  10. Back from injury and on the scoresheet, I like it. Not quite sure what a centre-back is doing running onto through ball though - I'm basically Beckenbauer!
  11. As Jade and I prepared to put our teams through their pre-season paces, and with the usual stretch of friendlies about to get underway, Rachel had a brainwave in her bid to figure out what was behind Brett McGregor’s insistence on Champions League glory. As soon as she uttered the words, I failed to understand how I hadn’t thought of it. “Why don’t you just call the guy in Scotland?” “Dougan? You know what darling, I have no idea. You may just have cracked it.” After a few moments trying to remember whether or not I had a phone number saved for the Stranraer chairman, the digits were located and the call made. Iain Dougan was the man who had put me forward for the Adelaide job in the first place, and it was his link with McGregor that had pushed me towards Australia. I hadn’t asked him too much about my potential new employer at the time, such was my eagerness to get back on the sidelines, and now I realised I had passed up a chance to put the brakes on before driving over the precipice. Thankfully, Dougan was all too happy to talk. He wouldn’t hear a bad word against his friend, but he did shed more than a little light on his background, and indeed how the two came to meet. Before McGregor had moved to Adelaide and bought out the old owner, he had been at the helm of Forfar Athletic in the lower reaches of the Scottish game. So far, so normal. What the Stranraer boss then told me was particularly interesting. McGregor’s departure from Forfar had not been particularly amiable, but there was a gagging order in place which had prevented the press running the story. Years down the line, with the order expired, nobody cared enough about little Forfar to revisit the case, and so McGregor had managed to make tracks to Adelaide without anything being pinned to him. While remaining at great pains to tell me what a kind-hearted man McGregor was, and how he would never lift a finger against his friends, Iain also told me that the reason for his abandonment of the Scottish game was linked to gambling. Specifically, he had been caught using club funds to bet on the outcomes of matches, which had landed him in hot water with the SFA. He had managed to buy their silence while he made his exit and that, as far as Dougan was concerned was that. It was my turn to explain. When my one-time interviewer heard of my boss’ insistence of continental progress, suggestions that I weaken the Grand Final team, and interference with the squad, he fell silent for quite some time. When I voiced Rachel’s suspicions that he was gambling with other people’s money for the sake of the club funds, I had to check he was still on the line. When he finally spoke, the words were simple. “Owain, don’t go to the authorities, but get out. If it’s anything like what happened in Forfar, it’ll be too much trouble than it’s worth. Does he know you know?” “I don’t think so - at least not the extent of what I know.” “Good - keep it that way. Arrange your departure so it all looks natural, and get out of Adelaide. If he’s got other people involved this time, it might not be safe. I’m only speculating, but it might be your best option.”
  12. Thanks Tyler - Kayrat were just unstoppable this year, and hopefully they don't make a habit of it. I honestly believe we can win the title in the next three years, maybe even in the coming season, but it really does depend what they do as much as our own changes. I actually worry a little for Jetysu - the tycoon only took over in 2021 and has led them to 7th, 4th, 4th, and now 3rd, but he's just pulled out his funding in the off-season. That worries be because a) they're now unlikely to be able to take points off Kayrat and b) they're spending £4.7m per year on wages, which is almost double Kayrat's expenditure and six times what we're spending. There's no way they can sustain it, so I fear they may end up plummeting at some point. As for the screenshots, that seems a perfectly reasonable request. In fact, I'm not entirely sure why I haven't already been doing it!
  13. Call Me Stan Part 6 - Kazakhstan Shakhter Karagandy - End of season 2024 Did you do it? Sadly, no. Let's get that out of the way. Immediately after the previous screenshot, we had a little wobble and drew a couple of games, which allowed Kayrat to get ahead going into the split. But they suffered another surprise loss, and we managed to pull it back in time for the first of our two clashes in the title section, which we proceeded to lose 1-0 at home. A couple of games later we finally lost to someone other than Kayrat - 2-1 away at tycoon-backed Jetysu - then battered Vostok 5-1. There was a cost though - first-choice goalkeeper Khachaturyan got injured, and his back-up is awful. Cue the return trip to Almaty, a 5-0 pasting and the title gone. With no hope we lost our last game in the league, and most frustratingly blew a 1-0 lead from the away leg in the cup semi to get dumped out of that one too. Kayrat won it, unsurprisingly, with a 6-1 win in the final. Oh, and the less said about Europe the better. How did the players perform? Pretty well for a squad that finished a distant 5th last year. Our average rating was topped by one of two foreigners in the squad (the other being our keeper), Georgian playmaker Rati Rekhviashvili, half of his goals coming from free-kicks. Breaking Shakhter's league socring record was the season was Vladislav Khamzin, while at the other end full-back Stanislav Fomin was my personal player of the season with his tireless running and accurate crosses. And the other bits? The finances are ropey but not too much of a concern, there was a lot of potential in the youth intake, and Stan still has another year on his contract, so no news there. The club only attracts around 850 fans per game so there's a lot of room to grow, and with another go at Europa League football next season, the hope is that we'll be able to do just that. Tactically, the 4-2-2-2 served us well, so there'll be minimal tweaking over the winter. So, next season? Indeed. For whatever reason, Kayrat have yet to renew Vladimir Weiss' contract, despite the fact he's been in charge since the start of the game. Usually I'd jump at the chance to step into those shoes, but I've decided that, unless Stan gets the boot, Shakhter will be the team to do it in Kazakhstan. Why? Partly because, other than in Turkmenistan, I haven't really overhauled a long-term power in a league yet. Secondly, Kayrat can't possibly be this good again - they only dropped nine points all season (three to us in the second game), and scored 108 goals, with their top scorer (who had never hit 20 in a year before) almost reaching 50 in the league. With a new man in charge, things might change, and on paper three quarters of their team is no better than ours. Finally, we only lost two games outside of our encounters with Kayrat, and one of those was on the final day with nothing to play for. Two of our three draws were matches we dominated, and 75 points would have won the league in roughly half the seasons so far. We're contenders, we can get better, and I don't think Kayrat can. We're coming for them. Stans conquered: 3/5 - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, UzbekistanBonus Stans: 1/3 - Hayastan (Armenia), Talyshistan (in Azerbaijan), Dagestan/Tatarstan/Bashkortostan (in Russia)
  14. Thank you all for the comments - I'm enjoying life with Shakhter a lot more than my 16 days in Turkistan, so far so good! As for lifting the CL with Anzhi inside 15 years, we'll have to see! Call Me Stan Part 6 - Kazakhstan Shakhter Karagandy - Midseason 2024 How has it started? Very well. We're 16 games into the league season - a season we began by lifting the Super Cup - and it's been ridiculous. The Shakhter squad had an abundance of DMs and AMCs, allowing Stan to implement his beloved 4-2-2-2 formation, and with a few signings - real money! - and a backroom overhaul including an old friend, the team have been incredible. I mean, just look at the results so far: So, you'll be out of Kazakhstan in a year then? Well, not necessarily. Yes, our record in the league is W14 D1 L1, but we're actually embroiled in a pretty bitter title fight. Kayrat have foreign stars, they have money after making the Europa League group stages a couple of times, and they have the ability to just steamroller teams. They lost to us and they surprisingly lost to Tobyl (4-1 at home), but they've won every other game. Just look at their goal difference: Wow. What happens now? There are six more games, then the split, and we're certainly be in the top six. Tobyl and tycoon-backed Jetsyu in 3rd and 4th are far closer to relegation than to us and Kayrat, so it really is a two-horse race. Assuming Kayrat aren't going to stop winning, we can't really afford to either. This is going down to the wire. We also have Europa League qualifying to deal with. We enter in the second round and I think will be unseeded, so I'm not expecting to do anything special. If anything, it'll be a distraction from the title fight. This is serious.
  15. Eek, not such a good performance this time round - is your job under threat?