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13th Man

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Biography

  • Biography
    Sort of long time player (FM 2008), recent regular lurker (lockdown funtime), and currently a recovering savescummer (savescum free since February 2021).

About Me

  • About Me
    Recovering Savescummer

Favourite Team

  • Favourite Team
    Wolverhampton

Currently Managing

  • Currently Managing
    A.S. Livorno Calcio

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  1. Heartbreak in Basque Country for Livorno 13/3/2025 Giuseppe, just how disappointed are you after falling in only the second round despite hoping to go deep into the competition? I’m a bit heartbroken to be honest. We were very close to going through, only for us to switch off for a moment and let Bilbao score. It was just a throw in and a simple lofted ball. Some players ball watching, leaving Ibanez too open. But look, I have to take the blame for our exit. I didn’t set up the players in a way that put them in places to succeed. I didn’t learn from our mistakes in the first leg. Not enough. We didn’t give up two goals from four corners today, true, but we didn’t do much going forwards either. Thing is, if Unai Lopez had converted his penalty in Livorno we would have been in deep trouble. When Giacomo [Raspadori] earned the penalty and Sebastiano [Esposito] converted it, it seemed like it might be a tale of two penalties - one missed and one made. But then came their equalizer. And look, was it a soft goal to give up? Absolutely, but we didn’t deserve to go through, not on the basis of these two performances. They had the better of us. They dominated the flanks and kept the ball really well. Their 4-3-3 just seemed to always find the holes in our shape. They honestly kept us pinned back for most of both legs of the tie. When we pressed they passed around us, when we sat back they came at us with pace and on the dribble. We simply didn't match up well and I couldn't find the way to break through. When Sebastiano scored that penalty, I thought that maybe we'd just get lucky, but instead Bilbao managed to get the goal that took them through. So am I disappointed? Yes, very. We had it in our hands and we let it slip through our fingers. But we didn’t deserve to go through and so we didn’t. Now it’s time to focus on the league, and we also have the Cuppa Italia final to look forward to.
  2. I don't love him, but he generally has been solid to excellent. Seems like one of those CBs that's just prone to switching off from time to time, but he's a physical beast (at least in my save) and has been consistently good.
  3. Inter Fall to Livorno Again 9/3/2025 Inter supporters filed out of the Giuseppe Mezzala in shell shocked silence, wondering how their team had lost - how this Livorno team had so completely dominated them this year, defeating them 7-2 over four games. This time it was goals from Palumbo and Raspadori that sunk the hosts, and an absolutely smothering game plan from Verdi which hardly allowed Inter to create decent chances. Inter would have been smelling blood in the water when Livorno arrived in Milan. Lazio had broken their twelve game winning streak the previous weekend with a bore 0-0 draw, and Livorno had expended a lot of effort in a tough 3-3 draw in the EURO Cup in midweek that left their qualification for the next round in doubt. Livorno still had not lost since December, but cracks were appearing in their armor, and they were running on empty after playing two games a week since January. Livorno, however, had no plans to lose in Milan, and were ahead within four minutes. Tsmikas, who has all but secured his first choice status since Tripadelli went down with broken ribs, charged down the left and played in Raspadori. The striker has been on a great run off assists of late and added another with a great diagonal ball to put Palumbo through on goal. The attacking midfielder still had plenty to do, and his finish across the face of goal was superb. Inter nearly equalizer three minutes later when Lukaku went on one of his rampaging runs. After a knockdown to Barella who put the ball into the space behind Livorno’s backline. Lukaku beat out Bani and surged past a covering Gozzi. One on one with Mazzini, Lukaku looked certain to score, but Livorno’s keeper made a stunning one handed save to deny the Belgian. On the ensuing corner, the ball was cleared back out to the taker, Dani Olmo, who drove into the box. His shot stung the hands of Mazzini but was again diverted away from goal. Those two chances would be the last good chances Inter would produce all game, however. Livorno’s 3-4-1-2 once again neutralized Inter’s attack, and with the lead, they doubled down on their possession game, playing keep away in Inter’s half. Inter made regular inroads down Livorno’s flanks, but each attack was, at best, put out for a corner and Livorno were able to handle everything Inter threw at them. In fact, Inter did not get another shot in the box from open play and were limited to hopeful shots from distance. Instead, in the 84th minute, Livorno got an insurance goal to secure all three points. It was, in many ways, a quintessential Livorno goal. They had recycled possession along their backline and were keeping things simple, but they were only lulling Inter to sleep. Suddenly, in three passes up what Verdi calls the ladder, Raspadori was through on goal. Though Inter had a dominant seeming twenty shots with eight on target to Livorno’s four, and had twelve corners to Livorno’s two, Verdi’s successful gameplan is seen in the possession stats. They enjoyed 58% of the ball and dominated the midfield. Especially after going ahead early, Livorno continued to use their smothering tactics that had been so effective all season. They locked Inter in their own half and only allowed balls over the top and to the flanks, where Livorno could easily defend them. It was a strange game, a chess match between two styles, but once again Livorno came out on top. Another famous win for the Tuscans, and one which allows them to keep pace with AC Milan at the top of the table.
  4. I watched it after seeing your comment. I might even just get the thing becasue of those wide CBs. Brutal. I hadn't been sure if I was going to go 3atb with my first FM22 save, but I obviously have to now! Hopefully the stat hub will have some good stuff too. It's not always a big change each year, but when I think back a few years, I'm always surprised at how much ends up changing. True. But with success comes hunger for more success. And the board hasn't made any progress on the new stadium yet! Verdi needs to open up that new stadium. Also, not one academy graduate has made it into the first team. Have one good crop of kids that are probably a few years from being ready. Might not mature in time for this save though...
  5. [May have gone on a bit of an FM bender. Expect a bunch of little updates to come shortly. Been a crazy season.] Another Red Card and Another Hat Trick Help Put Livorno in a Good Position 20/2/2025 A red card to the opposition and a hat trick from Esposito were enough to help Livorno recover from a bad start to put them in control of the EURO Cup first round tie against Trabzonspor. The visitors got off to an excellent start when they caught Livorno napping in the aftermath of an early corner. Though Livorno cleared the initial corner, Galves was too slow to close down on the wing, and Gozzi was too lackadaisical in his marking, and suddenly the hosts were behind. The rest of the half belonged to Livorno, however, who created several good chances before eventually breaking through in the 23rd minute. Piccinocchi played a great pass into Raspadori, who beat his man to the ball and attracted the other center back to him. Raspadori unselfishly squared the ball to Esposito who was making a late run into the box and the big forward made no mistake as he passed the ball into the net. Livorno were disappointed to go into the half level after being completely dominant in the first half, but early in the second Livorno again found themselves aided by a red card in a crucial game. Thiago Mendes got himself yellow carded in the 50th minute, and instead of being careful, he went and got himself a second yellow with his next action by slicing down Livorno wingback Galves. Five minutes later and Livorno took the lead, again Piccinocchi found Raspadori, and again Raspadori set up Esposito, this time with a through ball. Less than two minutes later, Esposito put an exclamation point on the win. Tsmikas skinned his man just inside the Trabzonspor half before driving for the left byline and putting in a deliciously floated cross to the far post. Esposito, once again, proved himself a fantastic acquisition for Livorno, taking some of the goal scoring load off Raspadori’s shoulders and simply giving Livorno a new dimension. A Valiant Defensive Effort, and the Post, Not Quite Enough to Keep Raspadori Quiet [I decided to write up this one because it was just nuts. Haven't had a game quite like it in a while!] 23/2/2025 Verdi looked a resigned figure on the sideline as the game approached its end. His Livorno side had been completely dominant all game but had not been able to make many good chances, much less score. Earlier Verdi had looked like he wanted to sub himself in and create and get on the end of chances himself, but by the end he was just shaking his head every time Ternana managed to repel another Livorno attack. Ternana had made no attempt to attack the league leaders, hoping only to escape the game with a point. Livorno’s 3-4-1-2 had trapped Ternana in their own box, and Livorno were sending shots at Ternana’s goal in a steady stream, hitting the post an incredible three times. Considering Ternana’s complete lack of ambition, Verdi had switched his formation to a highly unusual 2-3-2-1-2 in the 70th minute to put more players in various levels across Ternana’s half considering how their center backs had been spectators for most of the game. But even as Livorno continued to pepper Ternana’s goal, they could not fashion a decent chance. In the 86th minute, Walker-Peters was in space on the the left after collecting a Ternana clearance. He looked up in and spotted a brilliant run by Raspadori. The forward seemed well covered, but then darted in front of his mark and rose to nod a powerful header past Ternana’s keeper. The celebrations from the Livorno’s bench were wild, almost as if they had won a trophy. It might not have today, but these two points may just prove crucial come the end of the season. With Livorno and AC Milan deadlocked in first, and Lazio close on their heels, these are the games Livorno must win. Verdi, for his part, merely pumped his fist once, joined the other coaches in the celebration for a moment and returned to the bench in relief. The fireworks did not stop after the whistle, however. Ternana’s manager Caner Erkin claimed that Livorno were lucky to win, and Verdi laughed it off. Verdi’s response infuriated Caner, who shot back in fury, claiming Verdi is a “petty and bitter” manager that is “obsessed” with him. Verdi, though, will simply be happy with the win as Livorno head into an intensely difficult run of games. They look set to finish Trabzonspor in Turkey, but then will play Lazio, Inter and whichever team they are drawn against in the EURO Cup, all within the space of seven days. [CODA] [Rotated squad does the job] [Look at this! Monday, Thursday and Sunday! All against top quality teams. I've already played through it but I'll leave that for another post...]
  6. Those bastards! Here I was thinking I could take my time, finish out in Livorno at a leisurely pace…surely this pandemic edition wouldn’t have features that made me switch over until I was good and ready…
  7. The Next Big Test 14/2/2025 After finishing the job in Milan against Inter midweek, Livorno prepare to face the team they will face in the Cuppa Italia final, but on this occasion, there is no silverware at stake. But the stakes are still high. Livorno sit top of the table, tied with AC Milan on points but ahead after their win in Milan back in January. Juventus are teetering on the edge of Champions League qualification, and need to start winning more games if they are to salvage their season. This game will mark the seventh time these clubs have faced off in just three years, with all but two of those meetings ending poorly for the Tuscans. It should be said that two of those games were in the Cuppa Italia, were played in Turin, and in both games Livorno were able to force extra time. Despite their poor record, Livorno have actually tended to play well against the Italian giants, but have been undone by moments of brilliance from players like Christiano Ronaldo, who has scored four against Livorno, or individual mistakes. Ronaldo has finally retired but Mazzini will be looking to make up for the howler that cost Livorno a point in Turin earlier this year. Livorno will be without former Juventus academy graduate Paolo Gozzi, who’s move to the center of Livorno’s defense has coincided with a huge improvement in their defensive record. In the last nine games which Gozzi has played, Livorno have only conceded three goals. Club captain Carboni will likely take his place, but there are certainly fears that Livorno will miss Gozzi’s physical presence. Verdi’s other question mark will be who to pick in central minefield. Another Juventus academy graduate Ranocchia looks set to start in the holding role, but whether he will pair with the ever reliable Piccinocchi or the growing in stature but inconsistent Modric. The young Croatian has been featuring more in recent games following an excellent showing against Inter at Armando Picchi. He has primarily been starting in Cuppa Italia games but also started last weekend in Livorno’s 4-1 win over Sampdoria but was substituted early after a poor performance in the semi final return leg in Milan. There is no denying his quality, but the young man needs to work on his consistency as his performances have varied widely. It does seem that Verdi’s more cautious approach to integrating him into the team is beginning to pay dividends with his average performance getting better since the new year. While Livorno have ripped off eleven successive wins and sit top of Serie A, Juventus have won just two of their last five and are in danger of slipping out of the Champions League spots again. After defeating Juventus at Armando Picchi last year and being close to a draw in Turin earlier this year, Livorno are again expected to line up in their 5-2-2-1 formation tomorrow evening against Juventus’ 5-2-3. Ten Minute Hat Trick from Raspadori Sinks Juventus 15/2/2025 In a scoreline that no one saw coming, Livorno ran away 4-2 winners over Juventus on a mild February evening. The game was decided in a mad fifteen minutes that saw five goals scored with Juventus scoring first before Raspadri had one of his spells where he simply takes over a game. As expected, Livorno lined up in a 5-2-2-1 shape, looking to stabilize the flanks and break quickly through Raspadori and Palumbo sitting in the hole between Juventus’s midfield and backline. Instead, they allowed Juventus too much time and space on the ball, and twice they were able to play switches to Chiesa on the right, but he missed one and Mazzini was able to save the other. Verdi had his players drop deeper, but that meant that the next time Chiesa was played through - this time from the deep left channel by Robertson in the nineteenth minute - he was simply closer to goal and was able to slot home easily past Mazzini in Livorno’s goal. Journalists were already drafting their end of game reports and reactions about how Juventus would use this win to reignite their season, but the game went wildly off script after that. Right at the restart, Verdi changed his team shape back to their usual 5-2-1-2 and their response was instant. Esposito put the ball back in play by passing it to Palumbo. The attacking midfielder sent the ball wide to Tsmikas who was surging down the left. The left wingback drove to the byline and sent a lofted ball back towards the penalty spot where Radpadori had drifted back from the crowded goalmouth. His cushioned header was sublime, looping over a helpless Szczney in goal to equalize. Not even two minutes later, Esposito rose once again to score with an unsavable header from a corner. Suddenly, only four minutes after going behind, Livorno were ahead. There was a break of seven whole minutes before Esposito turned provider. Palumbo intercepted a pass from Robertson inside to McKinnie in central midfield and laid it back to Galves. The right wingback played it forward to Esposito, who was sitting in the pocket of space behind McKinnie. Esposito dwelled on the ball a moment before turning and launching a 60 yard ball that Raspadori greedily ran onto before charging into the penalty area. Szczeny rushed out well and made himself big, but Raspafori finished cooly and with power down low to Szczeny’s right. Not even a minute later, a Robertson cross from the left was cleared by Carboni in the center of Livorno’s defense. This time it was Palumbo sitting in the space behind McKinnie, and he wasted no time sending another ball deep past Juventus’ high line. Raspadori was again clean through on goal, facing an on rushing Szczeny. Raspadori cleverly waited for the frustrated keeper to commit before rounding him to finish into an empty net. Less than fifteen minutes after Juventus scored the goal that everyone expected to propel them to yet another win over Livorno, they were instead down 4-1. Though Raspadori’s barrage was a special player taking over a game, two tactical changes also contributed. First was the switch to a 5-2-1-2 which allowed Raspadori to be in a position to score his goals, but the second was a subtle switch which may have helped in the build up to the third and fourth goals. Modric dropped a bit deeper and on the other side Ranocchia appeared to be given more of a box-to-box role on the other side. This put pressure on holding midfielder Bencantur and helped draw mezzala McKinnie forward. Those two goals were both assisted from that huge pocket of space behind McKinnie where first Esposito and then Palumbo drifted before helping Raspadori to his hat trick. Just before halftime, Juventus pulled one back after a Robertson cross led to another Mazzini howler. Mazzini should have easily gathered it, but instead it somehow let it through his hands and Chiesa was on hand to tap it in for the easiest finish of his life. Mazzini had to have been relieved that this perticular howler against Juventus had come when they were comfortably ahead. It did give the visitors some way of getting back into the game. However, Bencantur dashed any hope for Juventus five minutes after the break when he went in with a violent challenge on Palumbo just outside the box. His straight red ended Juventus’ hopes of a comeback as Livorno smothered the game for the final forty minutes. Livorno’s incredible run of form just keeps on going, and while it will surely end before too long, this streak has given Livorno the platform they need to push for a return to the Champions League and possibly even another title challenge.
  8. Love it! The pitfall that I get into is wanting to play even though I'm dead tired and mentally exhausted. Turns out I just want to get the hit of happiness from the W's but forget that the W's take work so I lose/draw games I should win. That said I have a tongue-in-cheek save idea that I might start doing for those nights when I want to play but don't have it in me to really get deep into all the details.
  9. @Hootieleece, you’ve just sent me into a flashback to my early twenties when every bar was apparently required to play this song at some point around midnight or later. Everyone would stop what they were doing and start singing along poorly and at the top of their lungs. Then it would return to normal… Anyway, few more updates in the pipes. Livorno is cooking but Milan are dismantling all comers. Not even close to it in game yet, but the last game of the season is against Milan in Livorno. I’m hoping that game will still be critical once we get there.
  10. Congratulations on promotion!!! Ok, you’re still four behind the leaders, and pretty tight there at the top, but when you ride through a run of bad form like that, come out the other side and still sit 2nd…
  11. What? You mean I shouldn’t blame the ME for every loss? Next you’re going to be saying I need to take responsibility for my own actions!!! Like you said, there are flaws [why, why, why won’t my holding CM stay back on throw ins as directed??? He stays home all game then we get a throw in and suddenly he’s in the box! Throw in goes straight to the other team (why???), quick counter into the CM’s space…goal! I’m not mad, you’re mad…] but in open play the game mostly does what you tell it (tactic/players picked+opposition tactic/players=logical result).
  12. Of course! It’s one of those seasons that are fun because there’s no pressure, but sometimes things just click. A lot has to go right to get that one promotion spot, and you can mostly just enjoy not getting relegated. Just saying you never know! Really though I should say congratulations on promotion and make it it happen magically the way I did in your last season…
  13. Lukaku being sent off was a brilliant tactical move! But yes, I still think Livorno wins the game. Would have made the return leg a bit nervier though. Verdi will need it! Livorno has a yearly tradition of losing to Juventus in the cup. Unless…
  14. Lukaku Sees Red and Gives Livorno a Foot in the Cuppa Italia Final 4/2/2025 On the second time of asking Esposito scored twice against his former club, but the focus of the game centered around a rash and unnecessary two footed challenge by Lukaku on Amione resulting in a straight red for the Inter forward. Livorno then took full advantage of their man advantage to score two more. As they had in their league meeting at Armando Picchi, Livorno looked to pin Inter back from the start, even coming out in the 3-4-1-2 to meet Inter’s wingbacks high up the pitch and disrupt their build up. Unable to get up in support of their two forwards, Inter’s 5-1-2-2(dm) was rendered impotent. [Look how much higher Livorno's wingbacks averaged than Inter's! Yes the red card helped but it was looking like this before, just less exaggerated.] The strategy stifled Inter and allowed Livorno to play the game largely in Inter’s half. In the 20th minute Esposito started and finished an excellent move. After laying the ball back for deep playmaker Modric, he turned and surged into the space behind his marker. Modric sent a one touch pass out to Galves on the right, who quickly put the ball back into the path of Esposito. The forward’s finish across the face of goal was a perfect mix of accuracy and power, nestling neatly into the far corner. While Esposito had not celebrated the three goals he scored against Parma, a club where he spent two years on loan, he certainly celebrated this goal against the club that sold him, doing a cartwheel and pumping his fists as the curva began to sing his praises. Inter, who had not been able to get into the game at all, managed to at least register a few shots before the break, but never really threatened, and Livorno went into the locker room with a 1-0 lead. Shortly after the break, Lukaku had an inexcusable lapse of judgement. Livorno were harmlessly working the ball around their backline near the halfway line, and Lukaku must have thought he had a chance to nick the ball and start a counter. Instead, he caught Livorno center back Amione with a two rooted challenge that earned him a straight red. Livorno, already enjoying more and better possession, began to trap Inter in their own half. New signing Walker-Peters, on for Tripadelli with Tsmikas injured, scored his first goal for Livorno in the tradition set in the last round where youngster Menini scored to give Livorno their win over Benevento. Only minutes after coming on, Walker-Peters took a throw-in and received a pass back from Raspadori before surging into the box. Space opened up for the stand-in left winger, who did his best impression of an inside forward as he curled a shot into the far side of the net for a spectacular goal. 2-0 down and already without Lukaku for the second leg, Inter were in dire straits, needing to at least keep the scoreline from getting any worse. Instead, Esposito rubbed salt in their wounds in the 88th minute when he rose up to power in his second goal from a corner and, baring a total collapse from Livorno in the game in Milan, earned Livorno a place in their first ever Italian Cup final. Livorno’s run of consecutive wins goes on, now reaching back eleven games since they lost in Dortmund. [CODA] [Managed to keep things in control with a rotated squad] [Fantastic! I get to lose to Juventus in another Cuppa Italia game! This time the final!]
  15. Nice update. Feels like with a gelled team you might be able to make a push for promotion next season. Or this, because win your games in hand and your in the mix. There’s also 10m games in the season so it seems like anything could happen!
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