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deltablue last won the day on February 17

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976 "To infinity and beyond!"


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  1. Euro 2080 - Belgium International football is often a harsh and unpredictable thing. If you're one of the big nations the pressure is on knowing you can easily stumble at any time, if you're a smaller nation you seem mainly stuck in a mediocre rut. If you're one of the 'second tier' nations (like maybe Croatia or Belgium when they have a good team) it might be a little different as you have a better balance of quality and lower expectations to regularly get to play in major tournaments and maybe enjoy the occasional good run without having to worry too much about meeting high expectations. I really don't think that expectations work anywhere near as well as they do for clubs. If you're one of the top 2-3 teams in a country it makes sense to be expected to at least challenge for the title (or make the Champions League/European places) on a consistent basis. Always being expected to make the World Cup semis and the Euro final? Not so much. It's like being judged on the domestic cup or European competitions instead of the league. Seeing how regularly the big teams fall to an early exit is proof of that by itself. This was a pretty good tournament for us for the most part, especially as the fact that we were one of 6 joint favourites seemed to confirm what I had already found out about the fact that there is no standout national team right now and however good we are (and the FA thinks we should be), we're not going to have an easy time challenging for things. It helped that we avoided the tougher teams but they were still far from easy opponents. The group stage seemed comfortable enough. After the draw I thought it might be an interesting an unpredictable group but the Czechs and ourselves easily beat Slovakia and Ukraine before we secured top spot with an easier with over the Czechs than I thought we'd manage. Meanwhile the Dutch and Spanish (World Cup finalists and the team that knocked us out 2 years ago) went out early to highlight the perils of tournament football, even for the big nations. We fell a bit flat against Poland, which should have been another comfortable win. We weren't terrible but it was telling that our only goal came from a penalty as we didn't seem quite threatening enough at the top to score from open play. We were a bit better against Wales in the quarter-final but we needed Zitouni to come on to first set up his former Schalke teammate Merlet (who is about to join Barcelona on a bosman just as he's heading the other way to Arsenal, in fact as it was July 1st technically they were moving that very day) then add another to make it comfortable. Merlet's goal was a case of going from zero to hero after previously losing the ball in a stupid way to let Wales break when it was 0-0. He then picked up an injury to complete an eventful day for him. We faced Portugal in the semi-finals. We had beaten them in the second round at the World Cup 2 years before but they seemed like a much tougher prospect this time. It was actually a much better game than the score suggested as it was a very open match with both teams managing to get very close on a handful of occasions. They even had a goal disallowed which gave me less of a reason to complain. We were slightly hindered not just by Merlet's injury (though we had the depth in midfield to easily cover that) but with Huza having to go off injured as well. He had struggled to be the consistent attacking threat I had hoped for (like his predecessors) but his replacement Broutet (narrowly beating Sargent on club form) failed to do anything in the tournament whenever he was brought on, and this was no exception. Our star player Eputa took an early knock which came without an injury but the blow to his condition meant that I felt like I needed to eventually take him off near the end of normal time, when fresher legs may help anyway (and this wasn't one of his usual standout perfmances). We ended up losing in the shortest shootout possible as they just needed to score three while we had our first 2 saved and outright missed the 3rd. The above message and others like it seemed like a massive over-reaction, highlighting my point about harsh expectations. It was a bit of a blow but that was more because I felt confident we'd make the final (and maybe even go on to win after that, even if it would be tricky) as our potential run of opponents developed, and the manner in which we lost. We had actually gotten knocked out without conceding a single goal, in fact we've only conceded in one match out of 11 in major tournaments (though that was the 2-1 defeat to Spain in the World Cup quarter-final, very much the 'wrong' match to get sloppy) under my management. We were also the most consistent European team over those two tournaments with Spain getting knocked out of the group stage this time, Portugal had been knocked out by us in the last 16 2 years ago with Germany and England (the other semi-finalists) having both made group stage exits at the World Cup. Once again, consistently high expectations are stupid because international tournaments do not work that way. At least the qualifying tournaments seem to provide the opportunity to 'reset' the confidence from 45% to 50% if you only fall one round short of expectations each time like I have been, in contrast with usually having just the single 'fall slightly short' lifeline at a club. It seemed like a positive step forward and should have been seen as such, especially as if you count the 2nd round exit at the last Euros (which made the job available), we've gone one round better at each of my tournaments. The defence was fine, we were clearly doing a lot bette ron the pitch and while the attack still failed us when we needed it, we've still managed more impressive performances than early on in my reign. It might not take that much more to be potential contenders at the next World Cup. That might also be my last tournament with France. It was just what I needed after all that time with Schalke, a big change of pace and location with a gentler schedule, but the qualifying groups have started become routine (especially the one coming up) and the tournaments frustrating with the expectations, even if they're otherwise still what can make international management fun. I wasn't sure whether to continue for another tournament given all my frustrations but I've now decided it's worth it and at least I've been getting a decent run out of it when it could all have ended early and badly.
  2. Since we're already in late September and the FM21 release date has been announced, maybe it'll be soon time for the awards.
  3. Oh I almost always get sacked at least a couple times. It's usually early on but I have a wobble or two later on as well
  4. Dec 2079 France Update What a difference a couple of years make, even in international football, as we head into next year's Euros in Belgium feeling a lot more confident than the previous World Cup. It's not really easy to measure improvement in this situation but there are a few ways. The first is that Scotland seemed to be on a similar enough level to the Croatia team who were our main rivals in World Cup qualifying and while we struggled to draw 0-0 at home and lost 2-0 away (and that with our goalkeeper easily being our standout player) we comfortably won both times. There's also the results in friendlies, even if they otherwise don't mean much and the Ass Man takes those. In the early months of my reign we kept being held to draws by inferior teams but we seem to be on a roll in those as well. Finally we dropped from 4th to 15th in the rankings during the World Cup qualifying cycle while we bumped back up to 5th after the World Cup and not just stayed there but even popped up to 3rd at one point. A bonus point was having seen some of the other teams, they didn't really seem much better than us, however relatively mediocre we seemed early on. The team is mostly unchanged, but not quite, since with attributes right in front of me, form and regular first team football aren't the factors they would be in real life and I like to keep a mostly consistent squad after inevitably making a handful of changes at the start. The teenage Lille defender Pichon was one of a couple of players I spotted during an in-depth scouting of the national pool just before the World Cup (in case there were any potential up and coming stars I had missed before) and he made it into the squad for the tournament itself. He got his chance not long afterwards and has impressed ever since, even getting a handful of goals. The left-winger Boide was the other player I spotted, and though he missed out on the World Cup squad by a whisker a big move to Barcelona helped grab my attention and Corbel's form dropped in time to give him a run for the autumn qualifiers. The main change (and the thing that would potentially make the difference) was always going to be up front as I was always going to discard my initial first choice Mallet after the World Cup. He got a decent amount of goals (including 3 in 5 matches at the tournament itself, which is hardly bad) but I kept seeing frustratingly inconsistent performances and too many incredibly wild shots. It wasn't easy to decide who to replace him as he was (marginally) the best of a handful of good but unexceptional forwards. I decided to try a poacher again which combined with an injury to the previous second choice opened the door for the Marseille forward Sargent. He got off to a great start and though he was far from perfect, he seemed alot more clinical and linked up to the other players well. Then he got injured before the run-in opening the door for Huza (who was usually present as a back-up but didn't play much). The naturalised Romanian went on to get 8 goals in 3 matches to establish himself as the potential starter instead. It helps that he's banging in the goals for a strong Newcastle side as a way of proving himself. There's definitely a difference not just in the results but in what I'm watching during the matches. I already mentioned Mallet and the threat he posed to low-flying aircraft and satelites but not only has that pretty much gone (our misses at least tend to be more reasonable) but we're not losing possession in silly ways anymore, practially bumping into each other and many other things that often happened before things finally started to settle down. Of course the results helped as well as despite making much heavy weather in the final match with Northern Ireland (being 1-0 down for quite a while) we ended up as the only team in qualifying with a 100% records. A friendly draw with Israel in out first friendly after the World Cup was disappointing but a more understandable draw with Brazil a year later remains the only match we haven't won since the last tournament. Maybe this team could amount to something after all. Euro 2080 Draw Our draw for the finals was considered relatively simple, but neither is it a walkover. I was going to cover the Czechs anyway for the next World Cup qualifying draw (as that took place in the summer) but I might as well do so here. They have a few quality players but otherwise they were set to easily be our weakest qualifying group rivals yet. Ukraine are by no means bad (though hardly the strongest team around) and Slovakia can be described as 'decent for the most part' so while I still expect us to win (and therefore face a 3rd placed team being in Groups A-D if I remember correctly), maybe narrowly get beaten into 2nd at worst, I otherwise expect this to be a potentially close and competitive group. World Cup Qualifying Draw This is vastly easier than the group we had last time. I've already mentioned the Czechs as probably not being too strong a rival as the next best team in the group, and the other teams pretty much speak for themselves (especially having just dealt with North Macedonia already in the Euro Qualifiers). That being said, Liechtenstein have a defender who plays for Man Utd (as in properly plays most games), North Macedonia have a few Serie A players (though not good ones) and I think it's Lithuania (who actually made the Euro qualifying play-offs) who have a Barcelona left-back. That doesn't make the rest of those teams particularly good (the Czechs should still be 2nd without too much difficulty) but it's still interesting to note what little quality they do have.
  5. Well his physical stats have declined quite a bit but they were really high to begin with at his peak (all between 16 and 20). His pace is certainly noticable as I wouldn't have been able to use him out wide if it had been anywhere near that low. Here is a screenshot of him at 25 (just before I finished my thread) to compare... It's hard to believe in hindsight that when he first arrived I wasn't sure what to do with him. Then again although he was 'already' 20 he still ended up being able to develop quite a lot (from comparing the above screenshot to his 'baby pic'), much more than I usually assume a player can when they hit that age. He still looked pretty good to be sure but seemed like he'd struggle to stand out with the heavy competition we'd have to be our long-term forward options (and the established players being too good to try and replace in the short-term). One of the star forwards of the same team actually left on a free transfer because his path had been blocked before then before I re-signed him the year afterwards (and he ended up being fantastic) once the door finally opened for him. It was really being used out wide (where we needed a quality player a lot more) that made his career I think. It helped that he was just an incredible all-round player, which may not have been so evident early on.
  6. A Legend Retires I knew this day would come, the retirement of one of the most legendary players I've ever had in FM. He had been on my radar before i got him but we had such a small budget that I couldn't afford him. It was brilliant to be able to get him on a free though at the time we already had a long queue of forwards behind an established front pair I didn't want to discard too soon. He was actually a relatively rare example of a player who I agreed to give more playing time to on request and I'm glad I did. It was actually on the wing (where there was more of a vacancy for a top quality player) where he shone, especially when I switched the position from the left (where the other wide players at the time played) where he was still 'competent' to the right, where he was 'accomplished'. Once he hit his stride he was one of our most invaluable and consistent players, helped by being our main set-piece taker as well. No one else stood a chance of competing with him for the position, especially once my current France international El Amrani only gradually grew into the role of a mostly reliable (though unspectacular) alternative. Despite his own grumblings about wanting more action. One of the reasons why I was pondering when I'd leave Schalke for a while was that once he declined and retired, we'd inevitably be weaker and I wanted to go out before it happened. As it turned out he had 3 more years after I left (switching position to go up front as the new manager discarded the wingers) and keeping the long run of titles going, including another Champions League win. Only a penalty shootout defeat to AC Milan prevented him from bowing out with a personal 3rd European title and the club's 5th (as the game is discounting a couple of finals he had to miss, while otherwise still having been an established player). He still ends his career with 13 Bundesliga titles, the Champions League wins I already mentioned, a Europa League win, plenty of German Cups (again even discounting finals he didn't play in) alongside 3 Gold Cups and a Confederations Cup with Mexico (with 137 goals in 162 appearances). It's a shame he never won WPOTY though he did come close on a handful of occasions. Overall he got 251 goals in 662 matches* for the club, and probably at least as many assists (300 wouldn't be too far off) judging by his league records (the game has moved on to after he retired so I can't add them up season by season at this point as I hoped, the overall goals and appearences coming from the Overall Best XI screen) with an average rating of 7.59. *For some reason the Bio credits him with 672, 10 more appearances than the Best XI.
  7. It was still interesting to see him do, especially at the start when he didn't have much clue about the sport in general, let alone the game. It helps that he has a connection with Ayr (his usual team) and get genuinely enthusiastic about it. i could barely believe it when he posted his first stream as it was one of the last things I expected to see from him.
  8. Topic pinned. I've never had any interest in seeing video careers on here myself, and there should be another place for them since they mainly seem to be channel/series promotion. When we had the previous poll a few years ago it also came up in the Mods room and Neil Brock pointed out that there wasn't really anywhere else suitable (with the fansite subforum being pretty much defunct at this point) and it's best to just allow them and see if they attract much interest and engagement (which they don't much). I do watch videos on youtube but not very much. There are only so many content creators of all kinds you can properly follow, probably no more than a few. For me it's Loki Doki for FM, Master Hellish for OpenTTD (and other stuff with trains in) and Linkara. Previously I watched a lot of a few Paradox/Strategy gamers (like Kailvin and Shen when they were active) but now I only watch the occasional Quill18 series. It's hard to fit in much more than that on a consistent basis. Oh and the votes are not private to me. We mods see all and know all!
  9. World Cup 2078 - Germany I didn't go into the World Cup with high hopes. The FA somehow still had the traditional (for one of the major nations) 'semi-final' expectations (I had hoped for 'quarter-final' at most) which seemed like a pipe dream, especially as I'd compare how things had gone so far with how England have been all these years, usually getting the job done but being unconvincing. In the end it wasn't quite as bad as that, even though it could have been better. We at least had a clean bill of health with only our starting DM Julien being injured (and no one being suspended), even then he only got the nod over Benoit due to be better in the air. The latter is otherwise potentially the better all-round player with very little between them. Our top full-back Remy also went off injured but only when we were already on the way out and it didn't turn into lasting injury anyway. We kicked off against Nigeria, the weakest team in the group and while 1-0 was an unimpressive scoreline we did probably deserve another. Iran seemed to be clearly stronger than the Nigerians but we managed to easily crush them anyway. All the years of Schalke had gotten me used to the idea of easing off when a game seemed safe to save energy as much as possible for the next game and that mentality kicked in while we were still behind Russia on goals scored. However that wasn't a problem in the end as a late El Amrani goal in that game meant we topped the group anyway with a 100% record and no goals conceded. That compares to England and Germany (not just the hosts but the reigning European and World Champions) going out early, with the latter being winless, while Brazil (who somehow went into the tournament as World no.1 though with no good reason as to why) lost all 3 games, mixing things up with who we were potentially going to play in the next round. The last-16 saw us face a decent-but-unimpressive Portugal side, where we were pretty comfortable. The scoreline should have been even bigger but Mallet's attempts at shooting were absolutely comical (maybe I need to reconifigure the forward role and duty to make them less 'ambitous') before he finally got his goal to make it 2-0 at the end. He was already set to be replaced after the tournament anyway. Spain seemed like much tougher quarter-final opponents, but much more beatable than expected when I looked through their team. I'm so used to various nations (not just the top ones either sometimes) being packed with top quality players but it seems like we're not alone in having to make do with a more 'above average at best for the most part' squad. In the end it was one of those games where we paid the price for a very poor start, giving them a 2-0 lead,. While we got our act together it only produced an admittedly excellent Benoit goal, too late to have much chance of snatching an equaliser. Remy had already gone off injured early on to add to the strong 'not our day' vibe. What was frustrating is that had we won, we'd have faced South Korea and had a good chance of even making the final. I knew that I'd be allowed to fall one round short (especially as losing to Spain was at least somewhat forgivable) so my time at France continues to the next Euros. One of the reasons why I'm not so fond of (or successful at) international management is that at the major nations, the high expectations can be brutal and a lot harder to achieve given that major tournaments carry a lot less room for error than a league season. That's why I was pondering a few others like Greece that were available but that would also lead to a feeling of being stuck in a rut. It's still fine for a while (especially if you do somehow get things going) well and a nice change of pace from from heavily packed domestic seasons at the top level but it's not something to do for long periods at a time. I look forward to getting back into searching for a club, which will probably be after the next major tournament (rounding out a 4-year cycle) unless things get a lot better. We'll still have pretty much all of our current squad (maybe one or two improvements as well), hopefully with clearly improved cohesion/tactical familarity to be able to perform more convincingly and consistently. Finding the right forward will help a lot. Our Euro qualification group should be easy enough. Scotland are actually tough enough that they should comfortably qualify as well (yes, I know that seems odd) and provide competition for winning the group (anything less seeming like a failure), while the Faroes are our minnows and Macedonia and Northern Ireland are much weaker than their Danish and Swedish counterparts from our World Cup qualifying group.
  10. This is more amusing than annoying but it does involve press conferences which I'm sure are a source of a lot of these. I only tend to do them when arriving at a new team, but having moved into international management I decided to do one after the World Cup draw. The very first question was about how well we'd be able to cope with the very different climate, bearing in mind I'm managing France and the tournament is in Germany . Yep, I'm not sure how we could possibly cope with temperatures and humidity levels that will pretty much be the same as back home, in a country that's right next door!
  11. Dec 2077 France Update The first World Cup qualifying campaign (and associated friendlies. though the Ass Man organised and took charge of those) is complete and it's not been impressive. It didn't help that we didn't have the easiest group even if we were expected to comfortably qualify. Thankfully we were able to kick things off with the double minnows of Andorra and San Marino as Croatia were pretty strong rivals while Sweden and Denmark had enough good players to be potential banana skins. We've only gained a limited amount of tactical familiarity as well even with the friendlies which doesn't help. The squad isn't that great either, relatively speaking. Even the squad players are decent enough but we have too many of those (even as starters in a few positions) and too few top quality players. There are no young stars on the horizon either (otherwise I'd have more of them in the squad and even playing already), even if they'll at least provide plenty of long-term depth to keep the team at least at the current level of quality. There are a couple fo keep an eye on but they're still 16 or so and won't be viable options for 2-3 years yet. Trust me if I really like the look of a young prospect I don't hesitate to throw them in early so it says a lot that I haven't felt able to do that yet. I ended up having to change the formation because my usual one didn't fit the players as well. We had plenty of good midfielders and wingers (and it was a shame to leave a few of them out of the squad entirely), not quite enough depth in defence for three centeal defenders (especially with only one who was any good at being a ball-playing defender) and no forwards who were better than reasonable so I switched to a standard back 4, a DM, 2 CM's a pair of wingers (instead of just 1) and just a single forward (which is otherwise heresy for me). Squad It's still a bit of a family affair with 10 of my former Schalke players (including all the wingers), and it would be 11 but another is injured. However the fact that most of them were 'rejects' (even if a few were still genuinely very good but with a very high bar to jump) says quite a bit about how this feels like a bit of a step down from the top quality squad I enjoyed there. Key Players I was glad to have a strong goalkeeper in his prime like Simon, the same with Diawara in defence. The depth in both those areas isn't too bad either but both of those players help add some genuine quality. Merlet and Eputa (who I considered to be the 'wonderkid's wonderkid' when I first saw him and signed him at the age of 15) shared the same position at Schalke (and they're the only two members of the squad who are still there now) but I decided to make them into a central midfield partnership for France. Eputa very nearly became a German international as I already had one French midfielder at Schalke switch countries and Eputa did the same at youth level but he returned to the French set-up in time to seal his international future and he provides a certain quality we'd be lacking otherwise. Remy provides a quality full-back, even if competition at club level meant I felt able to let him go for his own sake before my final season at Schalke. Top-level full backs seem insanely hard to find in this game (and it's not just this version as I had it in previous ones as well at times) as it's taken me years to finally get them at all my top teams so I'm just glad we've got one good one (with years ahead of him) for France. The rest are pretty average but they're ok enough. El Amrani was one of the stars when they won the 2072 Euros but he's otherwise flattered to deceive both for club and country, not helped by being behind the legendary Francisco Martinez at Schalke for so many years (though he did end up being a reasonably reliable alternative). Both he and his backup Zitouni were sold by Schalke just after I left to the big 2 in Spain as I think the new manager did away with wingers altogether. Corbel was unlucky to share a position with Eputa and Merlet and while I knew he was still a very good player he was always going to struggle to be more than 3rd choice so I let him go for his own sake. He only became a winger after that so when I switched to having a pair of those he was the player who benefited the most. Collet looked like a prospect at first but he was at Schalke when there was a long queue of young forwards behind the then-established front pair and ended up leaving out of impatience, despite showing promise in a handful of appearences he did get. In the long-run I don't think I missed out on much (see what I said earlier about the contrast with Schalke) and he pipped a few other forwards of a similar standard to be my first choice forward, for now. He's done the business for the most part but with a few other similarly ok forwards (like with the right-backs they're all pretty much of a muchness) available he'll probably lose that spot after the World Cup as I look ahead to the next 2-year cycle. Again he's hardly bad but having him as our best forward for what's meant to be a top international team seems disappointing somehow. World Cup Draw Our unimpressive form was us drop a bit from 4th in the rankings to 14th (having been a few places lower before that) but I didn't mind too much since it would hopefully mean lower expectations without much confidence risk as long as we met competitive expectations. That meant we were just in the 2nd pot for the draw but we managed to get a relatively generous group with Nigeria, Iran, and a reasonably strong Russia side. We should make it through. Topping the group might be trickier but it's achievable and we could get a relatively simple second round draw if we manage that. In fact given Brazil have underperformed pretty much all save long I'm not sure if even they would be that scary either.
  12. I know it used to be as I remember reading something years ago about a potential issue with two ENIC-owned clubs (I remember one was AEK Athens, maybe Slavia Prague was the other) both being in what was then the UEFA Cup and I think they ended up having to give up their majority stake in one of them. Both Red Bull Salzburg and RL Leipzig were in the CL this year, and had been in the Europa League before that. It seemed like UEFA decided the clubs were independent enough from Red Bull itself that they were able to allow it as not being a potential conflict of interest, though that suggests an exception granted to the rule rather than it no longer existing.
  13. Oh definitely. I was hoping it wouldn't just be me
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