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About XuluBak

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    Celta Vigo (UFM Challenge)

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  1. Random housekeeping: Added Brazil's top flight to my save. Will continue gradually adding South American leagues. I'm torn on removing 'completed' leagues, because I like checking in on my old clubs. Speaking of which... Tuks FC struggled a little after my departure. The switched to a 442 (rendering Julies largely worthless) and Lepasa (my golden boot winner) was hurt much of the season. For much of that first season it looked like they might be headed for relegation, but they finally got going near the end and ended up midtable. Seems like they've solidified themselves there, although, not really progressed. They did, however, just win the FA cup, beating Mamelodi in the final. Dalian FC won the league easily the year after I left, and could have repeated the treble, but fell in both cup finals. Off to another great start. Not surprising, considering all the Chinese talent I acquired. Might have been overkill, but also meant the competition didn't have it
  2. Ouch. That's brutal. The league has been won by a team in the 50s, more than a team in the 60s has come up short. Think it's only happened twice, with Chiefs being the most recent previously as well.
  3. RC Celta de Vigo 2023-24 End-of-Season Review My only real aim in my first season in charge of Celta were to keep my job and identify players that I wanted to build around. I liked my depth and quality at centerback, but otherwise, there was work to be done. I had decent quality in my front three, with Sisto, Mina, and Raphinha, but didn't like how they fit together, and virtually no depth behind them ready to play in the senior squad. There was decent depth in the midfield, but they were all virtually the same player, without anyone that would qualify as a true holder or ball-winning enforcer. Okay starting FBs, but almost no depth. My CBs served as my defensive midfielder and/or backup fullbacks when needed. My formation, lineup, and tactics were...fluid, especially until after the winter window. There was talent, this was a side that drew against each of the big three (two of those being on the road) before I took over, it just wasn't put together right. Results were predictable. Good defense, erratic offense. We either scored in bunches or not at all. That was good enough to finish 2023 in the top ten and within reasonable striking distance of qualifying for the Europa League. The only question of the top three is what order they'd finish. Valencia looked good for the fourth and final CL spot. We were up against Sevilla, Granada, Real Betis, and Real Sociedad for Europe. My winter window couldn't have gone much better. A Chinese giant triggered Raphinha's release clause early in the winter window, which was huge because I wanted to unload him and desperately needed money. Made an offer to sign Reiss Nelson on a free, then waited for Raphinha's deal to go through. Tried finding suitable FBs, RW and DM via loan, without much luck. Ended up paying Arsenal 3.9M € to bring Nelson in early. Best 3.9M I ever spent. Also added a DM (Belmonte) from Boca Juniors and a young striker/winger (mostly to appease the board). Copa del We were expected to get to the fifth round. Despite lucky draws, I'm not sure we deserved to get passed the 2nd (unconvincing 1-0 vs a third tier side), or 3rd round, let alone get anywhere near a trophy, except, Reiss Nelson. He could never touch a football in Spain again and be a Celta legend. La Liga Absolutely dominant in February, going 4-0-0 in league, with a combined 14-3 scoreline, and Mina collecting PotM. Of course, we followed that up by scoring three goals, and winning one of four matches in March, against Sevilla (0-0 at home) and three relegation contenders. Bounced back in April, only allowing two league goals, across five matches, to go 4-0-1, and 'satisfied' the board's ambitions with key wins against Sociodad, Granada, and Betis. Nothing sums up our season better than the last week (8 days) though... Against the odds, we found ourselves with a chance to sneak into the fourth CL spot. We were tied with Valencia on points, but they won both head-to-head matches. Our schedule closed out with: Real Madrid (A), Villarreal(A), Barca (H). Theirs closed out: Malaga (H), Granada (H), Atleti (A). Not likely, but with a chance I didn't expect in January, let alone when I took over. Not sure which was more improbable, us taking a point at the Bernabéu, likely costing Real Madrid a shot at the title, or Valencia dropping points at home to the worst side in the division (already relegated), but both managed to happen. So all we needed to do was beat Villarreal then get a better result at home against Barca (with nothing to play for) than Valencia at Atleti (with everything to play for). So, of course, we were terrible against Villarreal. We took the lead on slop following a corner midway through the first, but never looked threatening, and it only looked a matter of time before they put one in the back of the net. They would on '62, then again on '73. In hindsight, maybe I should have tried sitting on the 1-0, once it became clear we weren't on our game, but thought we needed to win. Of course, we'd go on to beat Barca 2-1 and Alteti would destroy Valencia 4-0. Tied on 68 points. 5th place. 2024-25 and beyond Great first season, on and off the pitch. We're obviously not far off the top 4, which has to be our next target, but almost certainly going to lose our top CB (release clause), and given the age and interest in some of our other top players, might have to take a step back before we can move forward. Unless I get a huge, unexpected, cash infusion over the summer, we simply don't have the resources to replace those pieces, make necessary upgrades, and build depth, with developed talent. Unless something too good pass up on comes my way, I plan to see it through with Celta though. Club Career Season Nation Team League Cup(1) Cup(2) Cont. Notes 2019-20 RSA(2) Tuks FC 2nd N/A N/A N/A Promotion via playoff 2020-21 RSA(1) Tuks FC 1st Final Champs N/A Won league and league cup 2021 China(1) Dalian Yifang 3rd Final N/A N/A Qualified AFC CL 2022 China(1) Dalian Yifang 1st Champ N/A Champ League, cup, continental treble 2023-24 Spain(1) Celta Vigo 5th Champ N/A N/A Won cup, Qualified EL International Career Season Nation Continental World Notes 2023 USA Champs N/A Beat Jamaica 3-0 to win Gold Cup Challenge Club 2/10 Top Domestic Leagues ('20-21 ABSA Premiership - Tuks FC; '22 CSL - Dalian Yifang) 3/10 Top Domestic Cups ('20 Telkom Knockout - Tuks FC; '22 China FA Cup - Dalian Yifang; '24 Spanish Copa Del Rey - Celta Vigo) 1/5 Continental Championshsips ('22 AFC Champions League - Dalian Yifang) 0/1 Club World Cups International 1/5 Continental Championships (2023 Gold Cup - USA) 0/1 World Tournaments
  4. I remembered #7. I'm aiming to use different formation/tactics everywhere I go. Obviously, that's limited by the squads in place when I take over at new clubs, and some formations and tactics will overlap, but not wanting to just find a tactic that 'works' and recreate it over and over.
  5. RC Celta De Vigo It took a lot longer than I expected, nearly a year, but I'm finally back into club management. There were a few tempting offers along the way. I almost returned to South Africa, with Kaizer Chiefs having a legit shot the CAF Champions League in their sights, but the board had near mathematically impossible league expectations, and I was concerned about long-term ramifications of failing and getting canned even if I won the CL. I received a couple very tempting offers in Holland, but in each instance, I was waiting on a more appealing option elsewhere, so passed them up. I almost took FC Kaiserslautern, only to realize, they're "The Red Devils." Not happening. The hardest offer to pass up was with Racing Club. The iconic kit; great resources for rebuilding and developing any squad I wanted; and despite tremendous domestic success, they've only taken Copa Liberatadores once. No good reason to turn it down, other than I wanted a project in Europe. After repeatedly being passed up for such opportunities, often for nonsensical reasons, I finally got an offer from Celta, on the second time asking. Not exactly a club on my shortlist coming into this, nor one that met the profile I was expecting, but an interesting challenge all the same. The board have Europa League aspirations, despite barely being above the relegation zone, and while the squad has some pieces to get there, I have no war chest at my disposal. With some 'big clubs' circling, I think I'd be better off 'cashing in' and giving some youngsters a go, but doubt I'd keep my job with that approach. Then, of course, there's the continued dominance of Barca, Real, and Atleti.
  6. USMNT - 2023 Gold Cup As expected, a few international positions opened up after the World Cup (Spain > Germany). Applied for US, Mexico (scandalous!), and Nigeria. Was offered US and Nigeria. Took the former, figuring it's a pretty minimal and straight forward commitment. Don't choke, beat Mexico. Got drawn in a group with Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Jamaica. Rolled the first two 4-0. Having already sealed advancement, and just assuming I'd have to play Mexico at some point, we used a near fully rotated and short-benched squad against Jamaica. Lost 1-2. That, unexpectedly, was more brilliant than I could have imagined. We faced Guadeloupe and Haiti, beating both 3-0 en route to the final. Jamaica was so kind as to knock off Canada (defending Champ) and Mexico (obvious favorite), wearing out Leon Bailey and Demarai Grey in the process. The final was not particularly competitive, although, they kept us out until '40 when Pulisic broke the deadlock. Shortly thereafter, Ravel Morrison got sent off. With them down a man, we just dominated the ball until Olosunde ('61) and Adams ('64) put it away. Easiest trophy I've ever won. Resigned the next day. Will keep an eye out for intriguing international opportunities, but back to focusing on the club side of things.
  7. Dalian Yifang FC 2022 End-of-Season Review Money may not buy happiness, but it can definitely buy you trophies in China. The board afforded me a very, very generous war chest, and I wasn't about to not use it. One way or another, my stay in Dalian was likely to be a short one. In the winter window, I brought in Rebic, Volland, and Kang-In from Europe (~135M €), and a plethora of Chinese talent (~65M €) to significantly upgrade our XI and depth. My plan was to operate primarily "control" matches from a 4312, then pull Volland/Rebic wide and shift to a 4231 when we needed to create more chances. I committed to having "extra" foreign players, realizing I was risking angering some players, but hoped that if I could avoid mutiny early, then I'd win everyone over with success. Chinese Super League: For whatever reason, the board "didn't care" about the league this year. I set my priorities accordingly, and tried getting my tactics right. Suffice to say, it didn't work. We dropped points in four of our first six matches. I couldn't seem to find a good balance between going forward and defending. Fortunately, success in other competitions seemed to keep moral up and the board on my side. However, it was quite clear changes were necessary. Not only tactically, but one of Volland/Rebic had to be moved out in the summer. I switched to playing 433 (4141DM Wide) and 4231, depending on competition and matchup. It worked. We didn't drop points again before the break, including a crucial home win against Guangzhou that kept them from pulling away. We lent Volland back the Bundesliga, and replaced Coates with a younger, left-footed Brazilian CB during the break. If it wasn't already, it didn't take after the race it became a two-horse race. Guangzhou won, we won. We won, Guangzhou won. Neither side looked like faltering, until Beijing stole a point from them in late August. We now had a slight edge, but they still got a shot at us on their ground in a few weeks time. Surprisingly we were slight favorites when we met on matchday 26. We didn't have to win, but we couldn't afford to lose. We got off to a great start, and scored early, but couldn't put them away, and it nearly cost us the points, and likely the title race. We did just enough. Four league matchdays to go and we controlled our destiny, but the pressure would be on...or not. They managed to throw away a 2-1 lead, losing their next match, before ours even began. We might have lost once, we weren't likely to lose twice. We clinched with a game to spare, which we used to rest everyone. AFC Champions League: We won our group easily, We left it until the second leg, but got by Ulsan (Korea) pretty comfortably to kick off the knockout rounds. Only to draw Guangzhou in the quarterfinals. Tried to minimize damage and hopefully catch them on the counter in the first. Achieved the former, not the latter: 0-0. The second leg couldn't have been better timed: we'd just demolished a mid-table CSL side 7-0 a few days before. Despite them taking an early lead, and us not matching until mid 2nd half, we were so dominant, it never felt like we weren't going to win. Their early goal would prove to be their only shot on target: 2-1. I'd expected them to be our biggest hurdle, but not to meet them quite so early. The rest of the tourney proved somewhat anticlimactic and followed the same result pattern: road draw, comfortable home win. Chinese FA Cup: Through luck of the draw this was almost too easy. Beijing did our dirty work, knocking out Guangzhou a week after we dispatched them from the Champions League. Then we knocked Beijing out in the semis (once again: road draw, comfortable home victory). Our final hurdle of the season: SH Shenhua. Last place in CSL, relegated (so all their players were horribly demoralized), ended up winning more cup matches than league matches. This should be easy. Home leg was, again, comfortable: 3-0. Second leg, they score an early corner header. No biggie. We got this. Fairly dominant. Controlling possession, creating chances, but unfortunately, not goals. No biggie. We got this. They're not really threatening. 81st minute, another corner, another goal. Oh boy. I fully expected the equalizer, and them to finish off the unthinkable comeback in ET, until they had someone sent off for a second yellow on '91. We held on. I didn't really care. Final thoughts We won the treble! And it was almost entirely unenjoyable. (Probably the least fun I've had in any season of FM to date). I knew pretty early on that I wanted to resign at the end of the season, and was just hoping, that if nothing else, I could collect the Champions League trophy. I'm relieved to have it out of the way, but would have gladly given up the other two trophies to be out of China and into a 2nd/3rd tier side in Europe quicker. I applied for a few international jobs in 2022, hoping to make things more interesting, but no luck. Should be some openings after the WC. Really hoping to land something, interesting, in Europe. Despite success, this challenge hasn't gone at all how I'd hoped or expected. Going from Tuks to Dalian, without even being able to land a single interview in Europe, Argentina, or Mexico is ridiculous. To the point I considered restarting, but ultimately, I'd still need to complete Asia, and that'd likely lead down a similar path regardless. Would rather just be done with it. Ugh. Club Career Season Nation Team League Cup(1) Cup(2) Cont. Notes 2019-20 RSA(2) Tuks FC 2nd N/A N/A N/A Promotion via playoff 2020-21 RSA(1) Tuks FC 1st Final Champs N/A Won league and league cup 2021 China(1) Dalian Yifang 3rd Final N/A N/A Qualified AFC CL 2022 China(1) Dalian Yifang 1st Champ N/A Champ League, cup, continental treble International Career N/A Challenge Club 2/10 Top Domestic Leagues ('20 Telkom Knockout - Tuks FC; '22 China FA Cup - Dalian Yifang) 2/10 Top Domestic Cups ('20-21 ABSA Premiership - Tuks FC; '22 CSL - Dalian Yifang) 1/5 Continental Championshsips ('22 AFC Champions League - Dalian Yifang) 0/1 Club World Cups International 0/5 Continental Championships 0/1 World Tournaments
  8. Yeah, that's a huge spike. I don't think I've seen anything that drastic in this save or throughout beta. So maybe it is a league/region specific thing.
  9. There are definitely times where I'm left wondering, "how in the world is that a foul/penalty/red/etc.?" I think some of that can be attributed to graphical limitations. I mean, a tackle might look perfect, but maybe it was studs up and he caught the guy, and that's just not apparent from the ME. The situational element is what I struggled with a lot in FM19 (e.g., penalties on throw-ins to the edge of the box). I think that has gotten a little better. Still not perfect, but better. Are there too many? I don't know. Sometimes it feels that way, but I'm sure there are fan bases that experience that IRL. Quantitatively, are there objectively too many? I suspect the answer is probably no, over a large enough sampling, but there are periods where it seems excessive.
  10. For offside? I've had games where I saw 2-3, but that's not a regular occurrence. I've seen some waived off that really shouldn't, which is frustrating, but happens, so consider it bad luck, and hope that if I'm creating the chances, the goals will come.
  11. Dalian Yifang FC 2021 End-of-Season Review First (partial) season with Dalian Yifang is in the books. Pretty drastic change coming from the South African Premiership. Since I joined in August, I couldn't reshape my squad with transfers or rectify some highly questionable registration decisions, so we played most of our league matches down the stretch without a legitimate striker. I took over with us in 10th place with 10 matchdays remaining. I'd penciled Tianjin Yili FC in for 3rd place, as they had a 10 point cushion, leaving 4th place as our only realistic shot at a Champions League spot. We were only four points out, and with nearly half the league competing for that final CL spot, there were pivotal matches between contenders every week. Fortunately, Carrasco returned from injury shortly after my arrival and Hamsik played like a younger version of himself, and Gueye could control the midfield against most teams, so we finished strong, putting us where I figured we'd need to be for fourth. An epic collapse from Tianjin Yili FC, gifted us third. No trophies, and considering the gap between Guangzhou and everyone else, I'm not sure how much hope there is to dethrone them, without some help, but at least we know what we're up against, and we secured our spot in the Champions League, without the burden of playoff rounds. A strong first leg against Beijing Guoan was enough to see us through to the FA cup final, where we inevitably met our fate against Guangzhou. We never looked like scoring against them. Talisca gave us problems, but the real difference was a gulf in class between our domestic talent. We have one Chinese national that might make their XI and another that might make the end of their bench. We have some quality youngsters, but they're not ready to be playing at that level yet. With 2021 in the books, we're looking forward. We've agreed to send Rondon to Brazil, Carrasco wants out, and may have to limit Hamsik to cup/CL competitions given his age. I've secured deals for Kevin Volland and Ante Rebic to fill the void going forward, and love their flexibility. I'm still looking to bring in a central playmaker. I've also made a concerted effort to significantly bolster our domestic talent, throughout the squad, and will continue to do so through the end of the window. Club Career Season Nation(tier) Team League Cup(1) Cup(2) Cont. Notes 2019-20 RSA(2) Tuks FC 2nd N/A N/A N/A Promotion via playoff 2020-21 RSA(1) Tuks FC 1st Final Champs N/A Won league and league cup 2021 China(1) Dalian Yifang 3rd Final N/A N/A Qualified AFC CL International Career Challenge Club 1/10 Top Domestic Leagues ('20 Telkom Knockout - Tuks FC) 1/10 Top Domestic Cups ('20-21 ABSA Premiership - Tuks FC) 0/5 Continental Championshsips 0/1 Club World Cups International 0/5 Continental Championships 0/1 World Tournaments
  12. @vikeologist My current balance is 108M €. My income is almost entirely "sponsorship" and "other." This all seems ludicrous to me. I went from ~33k to 1.2M wage budget. In two weeks, I've "earned" almost as much as I did in 1.5 years at Tuks FC. I genuinely didn't want to make that jump, but I couldn't get an interview in Europe, Argentina, Mexico, or South Africa, even at clubs that were a clear step down, but I could get them in China. I looked at jumping to International for a brief stint, but the only openings were clubs already eliminated from WC qualifying and Mexico, which of course I'm not getting an interview for at this point. To @CaesarXI point, I think there's a bit of a manager supply-demand issue, that makes it disproportionately easy/difficult to get jobs in certain countries. However, I think there's something going on with the 'logic' determining when you're brought in for an interview. I saw this when I was running my tests in beta and saw it again this time around. I keep seeing 'the board is concerned with your track record for winning promotion' or 'surviving relegation' when they shouldn't apply to the club and/or my manager. Also the lack of unsolicited offers seems weird, but maybe that's just a product of low adaptability. Never played with it this low before.
  13. Dalian Yifang FC 2021 Unfortunately, my concerns regarding Tuks FC's board proved correct. I brought trophies and prize money, hoping that would translate to an infusion of transfer funds and/or a wage budget increase. Neither came. I asked to keep more of the incoming transfer funds (15% since I'd arrived). They refused. I asked them to reinvest in the club. They refused. I asked to boost staff salaries. They refused. We overachieved in 2020-21, so without a talent infusion, especially in the midfield, a regression was to be expected. The final straw was being unable to sign two surefire, first-choice midfielders, both available on free transfers, with reasonable wages. I selectively applied for positions all over the world. Orlando Pirates certainly would have been interesting, especially if I brought a couple key players with me, but alas, that was not in the cards. Instead, I'll have to figure out how to spend 100M+ after finishing out the 2021 season with Dalian Yifang FC. Already eliminated from the AFC CL. Won the first leg of the FA Cup Semi, but baring the unexpected, we'd be up against Guangzhou in the final if we hold on. Not liking our chances there. Top two is a virtual lock, and third isn't far from being one either, meaning we're liking competing with 6-7 clubs for the final AFC CL spot with 8 league matches to go. A couple key players were just coming off injury as I took over, and we've started 2-1-0 (including the cup semi), so looking good so far.
  14. University of Pretoria FC (AKA Tuks FC) 2020-2021 End-of-Season Review It's June 1st and everyone is still flying high after what could only be described as a "dream season." Our FA Cup semifinal, and first two league matches in May went largely as expected, although, AmaZulu FC once again made things interesting. Despite being a relegation contender they played us more competitively than most. They stole two points from us with a stoppage time equalizer in December, we took them back with one of our own in May. One thing I hadn't accounted for heading into the final month of the season, was our perceived toughest test for the league, SuperSport United, would play a fully rotated squad with 4th place secured in the second to last match of the season. After an early goal, we squandered a penalty, and let them back in the game right before the break. A beautiful headed flick on from Nilor (our French TM) set a recently injured Julies in for the match winner halfway through the second half. Setting us up to play two matches for two trophies. Mamelodi Sundowns were, in some ways, victims of their own success. Ultimately, they won the CAF Confederations cup, but like their FA Cup semifinal three days earlier, it took extra time. That extra workload almost certainly played a factor in their 1-0 defeat to Orlando Pirates that followed. The only time they'd dropped points on the road previously was to us, in December, amidst similar match congestion. Perhaps demoralized, perhaps looking ahead to the FA Cup final, they lost again two weeks later. Eliminating them from contention. They were almost certainly the best team, but sometimes, that isn't enough. The Pirates, on the other hand, took care of business, setting things up for the title to be decided on matchday 30. But first... FA Cup Final: Unfortunately, because of knocks and loan-in rules we were without our first-choice GK/LWB/RWB and Julies. We tried sitting back and catching them on the counter, without much success in the 1st half, but we kept them in striking distance, 1-0. Whatever chance we had didn't last long, as one of our CMs lost it, and picked up two quick yellows right after the break (second probably should have been straight red). They toyed with us a bit before making us pay with a second, at which point, we went into full 'roster management' mode. Ended 3-0. Easily could have been twice that. Matchday 30: We were at #6 Highlands Park, Orlando Pirates were at #5 Ajax CT (the other newly promoted side). We started incredibly flat, and only managed to escape the half 0-0 thanks to the crossbar (think we only had one shot, not on target). The other match was still 0-0. Fortunately, some halftime adjustments paid near immediate dividends as we countered a sloppy counter attempt of theirs, and Julies set Nilor through to calm our nerves. Nilor would tally another on a set piece, they'd pull one back, but when Ajax went up 1-0 at '72, it was all but over. In a match Orlando absolutely had to get something from to have a chance, they'd been completely stifled by Ajax CT's defense, only managing one shot on target. We were Champions! But it felt cheapened, with how SuperSport didn't really "go for it" in such a crucial match in the title race because they had nothing to gain, especially considering they beat us in our house earlier in the season. In the final table, it didn't matter, but them taking something from that match drastically changes the dynamics of matchday 30. It's fair to say luck was on our side, but at the end of the day, we managed the pressure and match congestion at key moments better than our opponents. That's the what, now the how... Defense: Soumahoro (from Mamelodi), Fielies, and Mlilo (our 3CBs from NFD) were joined by Bull (young CB picked up on a free from Ajax CT) and Kubheka (SK loaned in from Mamelodi). Best overall defensive record in the division, T-2 most clean sheets. Kept us in the league and Knockout Cup, without much goal scoring help early on. Soumahoro was once again a big threat on corners (4). Midfield: Largely interchangeable parts, without a clear cut hierarchy. Vital, but little room for glory. Almost certainly where we struggled against Mamelodi. Priority #1 for the offseason. Wingbacks: Williams (LWB) and Majadibodu (RWB, defacto captain) emerged as our first choice largely by being healthy. The former was acquired as an afterthought on deadline day largely because he could play on the left or right. The latter was a Mamelodi castaway, acquired on the cheap to fill a massive void. They run, a lot. Majadibodu provided the most goals/assists outside the front three with 4/5. Attack: A three-man striketeam, without much backup. Julies (originally a Mamelodi product), our #10 and MVP; Nilor, our fan-favorite TM, acquired on a free from Bordeaux; and Lepasa, our (insanely efficient) golden-boot winning poacher, acquired from Pirates. Those three combined for 40 goals, 21 assists. Their backups collectively accounted for...5 goals. Thankfully, they didn't miss much time and developed a strong chemistry incredibly quick. Club career Season Team League Cup(1) Cup(2) Notes 2019-20 RSA(2) Tuks FC 2nd N/A N/A Promotion via playoff 2020-21 RSA(1) Tuks FC 1st Final Champs Won league and league cup
  15. I haven't used a HB very much in FM20 yet, but that pretty much sums up how I used it and what I saw last year. I can't imagine wanting to use it with a back three, given the alternatives. Use a central stopper and more assertive midfielders.
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