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  1. Chapter V - "Do what you do" The truth is, I have been in the spotlight before. I’ve given presentations about sports marketing, advertising and leadership, as well as motivation on the pitch, visualization and using your mind to win. I have been the guy in the room everyone is looking at. I’m not okay with it—like Mark Twain said, you’re either the type of person who gets nervous when they speak publicly, or you’re a liar. I am comfortable in my own skin, though. This was a whole different ballpark, though. The kinds of questions I have been getting this preseason have been…well, mostly soccer related, and the bottom line is, I don’t know much about soccer. However, it really is amazing how much you can get through with cliché responses. My favorite one so far has been “We will see at the end of the preseason.” I’ve been asked about tactics, specific players, transfers, etc. No matter what the question was, when I found myself particularly in trouble (i.e. really, really had no idea what the hell I was talking about), I’ve gone with something that seems to work just fine: “At the end of the day, we will just have to wait until the end of the preseason and see where the players are. We will make decisions at the end of the preseason. This is just a warmup—we will sit down and see what we have to play with in the end of the season.” Bam. There is nothing this kind of answer won’t take care of. When it comes to the management of the players though, it's hard to get by with cliches. Partly because I don’t have much say-so for obvious reasons. This is particularly complicated with the heavy-weights in the team. Some like Emile Heskey or Chris Kirkland have approached me to try to get a sense of what I’m doing here, and I have counteracted this with a personal and laissez-faire approach. ############## “Can I have a word, boss? “Of course Emile, what’s on your mind?” “Well, some of the lads are wondering when we are going to start talking about what kind of football you want to play. Actually, I’m one of them.” “Can I be honest with you, Emile?” “Please.” “I see an amazing squad full of capable players. I also, in all honesty, think you are much better players than I am manager. I think you can teach me a thing or two. I am also very aware that this is my first job as a manager, and I don’t have as much experience as I would like, or even should, for this position.” Emile seemed intrigued at this point. “So, with all that being said, here is what I—actually, let’s get everyone here real quick. Could you do that for me, Emile?” “Sure, boss.” The six-foot-two striker yelled out a couple of times, and two minutes later, staff and players were around me. Some were panting, some were drinking water, but all of them were looking at me intensely—even the staff looked curious. I faked a pensive demeanor, and started talking. “Several of you are probably wondering what kind of football we are going to play, or even if some of you will be here in a week or two. Some of you are even wondering what the hell I am doing here.” Some chuckles followed that statement. That was the nicest way to put what I’m sure most of the group thought of me. “Let me tell you what we are going to do. We are going to let you play however you’d like.” Ignoring their confused faces, I kept going. “There is no telling about what works and doesn’t work in football. If someone comes into this club and takes an all-defense approach, there is no telling how many points he would get out of this team. If we get Guardiola over here playing all out mastermind football, there is no telling how many points he would get out of this team.” “My strategy is to let you all play as a team—to hold you all accountable for one another, to be sturdy on defense, and only when it is a good option, to push forward.” “I will let my staff make tweaks as the match goes on. I will obviously comment on things you should be doing better—but do not expect me to be on top of you through the entire match. You are out there—I am not. You can call each other out and keep each other accountable.” I’m not going to say that the speech worked or didn’t, but one thing looked good—I sounded like I was convinced with my method. As long as I sounded convinced, the players would give me a chance. The best part was that I didn’t even needed a chance—I just needed them to get out there with two legs and kick the ball around. Win, lose or tie—all that didn’t matter. To me, anyway. “Your captains will be in charge of the team when they are out there. Listen to them. Beyond that, the only thing I want is for everyone—everyone to defend. If we can defend well, we will avoid relegation. Beyond that, I will let you do what I know you can do.” The reasoning behing defending first was simple--it is much easier to come up with a defending strategy, than it is to come up with way to attack. That is somewhat true in most sports. Also, not scoring enough goals can be blamed to a defending strategy, and getting a lot of goals scored can be blamed to a defending strategy that hasn't stuck yet. Win-win. And just like that, I set things up for the preseason. If this Mourinho guy can do whatever the hell he wants, why not me?
  2. Chapter IV – Don't f**k this up for us. Jeff Fairchild is your stereotypical Texan folk. Very amiable, really good at making friends from the first time you meet him, and he always remembers your name and something about your life. He could be a lobbyist. He could have been a politician, really. But he ended up being in the sports industry. It was his benevolent appearance and demeanor that drew me in when I first met him. He knew my uncle from some oil business, and he knew I could be trusted. He pracitcally watched me grow up. That is how this whole thing started. The chit-chat turned into more specific conversations, and before we knew it, we had a plan. He never disguised it as anything more or less than what it was. “It's easy, when you think about it. We get in, we get out. I make a few million dollars in 6-10 months, and you make a killing, too.” “He really must be desperate if he wants to do this.” “Look—he needs a service and I can provide that kind of service. His fanbase is against him, they want him out. There are a lot of rumors of foreigners buying soccer clubs in England and taking them over—we're just helping make these people realize that they really don't want to wish for that.” “So, how exactly does it work out once we're in?” “It really is easier than it looks. I buy the club from Dave Whelan. I already have a price tag—80 million dollars. Once I take ownership, I hire a manager who has experience in sports, but not necessarily in soccer. This is where you come in. We buy a couple of players—Americans if possible. And we start the season.” “And then, what?” “Easy—you try your best, but we don't do that well. That will indubitably result in the fan base turning on us. They'll want us to leave. But we won't.” At this point, I was listening like I was watching a movie. “We will wait for the right time, and the right person to buy the club back . The right person will be Dave Whelan, the old chairman—but we will not want to sell. This is when he will come in with a $90 million offer, and we will accept it. I make roughly $10 million in a matter of months, you get paid your full annual salary of $375,000 and obviously be terminated, and David will own the club again.” “Does he get out of this something worth $10 million dollars?” “Of course he does. Dave loves this club. He loves this country. He wants to keep all these tycoons out of it. I understand it—I deal with this s**t at home all the time. Foreign companies coming in and taking my market share. By doing this, David gets rid of the pressure he's been in to leave, and the fans, and a lot of other soccer clubs, will think twice, three, four times before they let another foreigner buy their club—especially after the mess we are going to make with it. David is more than willing to pay $10 million dollars to own the club for another 40 years and to keep English clubs to English owners.” “He's a patriot, really. I can respect that.” That last sentence was a to put it mildly not the ful story, and I can imagine that English authorities would not think the same way if they were to find out about this whole thing. Which is why everything had to be done accurately and exactly as planned. On my side of things, I really and honesty just want the money. So in that way I am no better than Jeff. My wife and I could use the $300,000 I calculate we will get out of this after our expenses for the year. You may not feel a lot of respect for me. I don't really care. I just want the money.
  3. Understood Mark, thanks for the heads up and thanks for swinging by!
  4. The squad is decent, don't get me wrong. We have some quality players. We are a Premier League club, so that is to be expected, but with most predictions for the season counting us as dead last, 20 out of 20, it isn't really guaranteed. It's been two weeks of training sessions, and I am slowly getting to know who is going to start for me. We have several internationals, albeit some of them are not current internationals. Emile Heskey is the main one that comes to mind. I had seen him before playing with England, and he is just as strong and good in the air as on TV. Chris Kirkland also played for his country, although that was a year ago, and in a friendly against Greece. We have some other talented players—young Antonio Valencia on loan from Villarreal, a right mid who can play as an attacking midfielder is needed. I've seen this guy train and he is fast. There is a striker called Julius Aghahowa, who I only recognize from an old management game I used to play. But he does seem rather quick with the ball and decent at shooting, though. We have a pretty young team—we don't have any non-goalkeeper players over 32 years of age. A quick style of football may fit us well. That is really all I know about this team so far. It's more than I knew two weeks ago when I got to Wigan, and hey, at least now the press sort of lets me do my job. That has not been the case pretty much since my first press conference. ######################## “There is one thing I want to say before I formally introduce our new manager. The purchase of Wigan Athletic has been finalized—I am the new chairman. I don't care I you like it or not—those are the facts. Dave Whelan has left, and I am now in charge. Dave got a lot of heat for not developing the club like the fans wanted him to, so he sold it to me.” The silence in he room was a mixture of incredulity and what seemed to be anger. “Now, on to the good news. I did not come here to get relegated. I came here to make money. I am an American, and I know this may turn off many of you, but us Americans have a pretty distinct trait—we like to win, and we like to make money. Starting today, we are going to do both here at Wigan City.” I realized I had been listening to my new boss way more intensely than I should, almost as if I were part of the audience, watching a film about your stereotypical American who takes over something, and makes it better. I snapped out of it and acted as it I already knew his speech. He continued. “I want to make money, and that will not happen if we get relegated. I want to win, and that will not happened if we are just winning in the Championship. Therefore, the only way to go is up. We will avoid relegation this season, and we will make Wigan great again.” Nice punchline, I thought. Almost politician-like. “Now that this is out of the way, I would like to introduce our next manager here at Wigan—Nick West. Nick has vast experience in sports and I feel like he is going to do a bang up job here.” I thought it was my turn—I figured I would talk a bit about myself and that everyone would listen, but over 20 hands were already in the air the moment I was given the turn to speak. I decided to take questions. “Sure, let's get started. You.” “Nick, what is your background?” “Well, I have worked in several sports agencies, both at the office and on the field, with the actual team. I have experience with marketing and sales, and at a more sports-related level, I have coached sports professionals about teamwork and learning to work with and motivate one another. I have been involved with transition teams when it came to changes of ownership . I also--” “I'm sorry,” the reporter interrupted. “What is your football management experience?” A pause followed his question. I had lost my train of thought, and I also felt like the information I was giving no longer applied. The question I had expected was the first one to come up. Why embellish it, I thought. “I don't have any experience in management. Football or any other sport.” Gasps followed—the rumors were true. An unknown American with no experience in football management whatsoever would be in charge of a team in the top flight in England. I counterattacked. “Look—I have no experience managing, but neither do unproven ex-players who get put in charge of a team. Just like that, they go into management, and they do well or not so well. This is going to be one of those times, and we will just have to see where I end up.” “Nick, the difference is that those ex-players have decades of experience in football.” “I do too. I have years of experience working with sports professionals, getting the most out of them, and getting results. This is no different.” The same reporter kept talking. At this point it was a conversation—he was asking the questions everybody had in mind, and nobody seemed to mind that he was the only one doing so. It was as if they all had chosen this reporter as their spokesperson. “But—what about the tactics? Do you know about football tactics? Will you be able to--” “Tactics are overrated. If you put a team together that knows how to work together, you can go out there and tell them to stay together when they defend, to push up as a unit when they attack, and they do it just fine. Just like American football. This is going to work out just fine, believe me.” ################## “I mean, they took the quote out of context. You knew they would.” The thing was, they didn't. I said exactly that, and the newspaper printed it. First page of The Sun, and on my second day there. "Nick West, new Wigan manager: “Tactics are overrated.”" The lower part of the first page, right under my picture, wasn't better. “Nick promises to play “Just like American Football.”” My wife had no clue about football, and that helped keep things just fine through this whole thing. If she knew anything about the sport, she may have thought I was an idiot, and would have asked me why in the world we moved to Wigan. And I may have been forced to tell her the truth. ################## We play our fist friendly of the preseason tomorrow, against Sparta Prague. I think they are from Prague, but we play them home, so I don't really care where they are from. Our main goal is to hopefully have a wonderful preseason. To get everyone's hopes up for a great year, and maybe to bring a couple of very exciting players for the American Wigan. Get everyone really excited for the year—so that we can fail spectacularly. That is my job.
  5. Chapter II - I'm not an idiot I won’t lie—I am not a good guy. I’m also not a monster—I’ve never done something horrible and gotten away with it. I’m just saying that things happen, I do things I don’t feel proud of, but I still manage to sleep at night. I sleep rather well, actually. This is one of those things. The plan was a simple one, and I had been in on it since day one—these kinds of things often don’t work out unless you had all pieces together before it even starts. But we can talk about this some other time. My flight was rather quick—about eight hours total from Chicago to Manchester. To leave Chicago in July is nothing short of a blasphemy—that is the time of the year where one actually enjoys the city without the snow and the constant black sludge on the streets; it’s when the patios open for business and everybody—everybody---is out celebrating the return to warmth, to food and friends; to happiness. And here I was, heading to Manchester. 45 degrees Fahrenheit. What an idiot. I truly have no idea where I am going. I read a bit about Wigan online before I left, and that was about it. I read that Wigan was about 16 miles west from Manchester, and that the population of the city itself was roughly 90,000 people. I read about how something called The Grand Arcade just opened this year, and how the city has one of the largest food manufacturers in Europe, H.J. Heinz. Cool. I also read a bit on Wigan Athletic. Apparently the club avoided relegation by the skin of its teeth last season—saved on goal differential. That’s tight, alright. I do know a bit about soccer. Here in Chicago it is called soccer, so I may call it that from time to time. I know about goal differentials. I also know about the offside rule, about how amazing of a partnership Rooney and Ronaldo are for United, and how Inzaghi just won Milan another Champions League. I’m not an idiot at soccer—I just don’t know a f***ng thing about Wigan. In a way, that is pretty much the sole reason why I am here anyway, so that kind of makes sense. It’s July, and with a temperature of around 60 degrees, memories of Chicago in May clog my mind. I really wish I weren’t doing what I will be doing in the next few days. But at the same time, $375,000 argue otherwise. $375,000 means freedom. $375,000 is not f**k you money, but it is a lot of money. Let’s do this.
  6. Chapter I - Bittersweet “Now, listen—are you saying you can't do--” “I can do it, I'm just saying I have never done it.” “Have you ever made love to a woman six times in one night?” “No.” “Could you do it?” “Absolutely.” “That's a good lad. Tell the wife--more instructions will come.” ----------------------- And just like that, it all started. I really had no idea what in the world I was getting into, and I really, really don't think I still do. It's been a while since then, but I still remember my wife's stare as I told her the news. “Hold on—what do you mean?” “I mean we have to move. I know we just moved, but we have to move again.” “But honey, we just moved.” “I know, that's what I just said.” “Where are we moving again?” “...it says here we are moving to Wigan.” “Wigan.” “Yes, Wigan.” “In 2007?” “Why does it matter what year it is?” “I'm just saying, you just came home and told me that you got offered a job in some town called Wigan, coaching a soccer club--” “Football.” “Fine—a football club in England, and in a town called Wigan, in 2007.” “Why does it matter that it is 2007?” “I don't know, I feel it may be important for what we are talking about here. If someone were to hear us, it would be important for them to know that the year is 2007. That is all.” ----------------------- The point was, she was not happy with the news. The bottom line however, was that I got offered a position with a top club in England to be their manager—Wigan Athletic. I had never managed a football team in England—hell, I had never managed anywhere, ever. But at 31 years of age, I was given an amazing opportunity to manage in a top country in Europe, with a team in the top flight—and I was going to watch my team play against Rooney, Ronaldo, Torres—amazing world-class players. You may be asking yourself, at this point, “how in the hell was he given that kind of power?” That's a fair question. And the answer is pretty simple—I was given very specific instructions. My job was to relegate Wigan. ----------------------- RELEGATE WIGAN.
  7. Right, so here we go again. After reloading a few times, I just went with Cacereño. It's the only one just promoted who had a decent amount of players in their squad. Of course, half of them are 18 and under, so they're not that good, but we do have the numbers and that apparently had to be enough. The catch for having a full squad? They ask me to finish 12th. The other catch? Four out of the 11 over 18 years old want to go to a bigger club. The third catch? The entire squad has a contract til next summer. Which means the best player will want to go to a bigger club and not renew their contracts. Anyway, here we go. Info Info 2 Manager Squad
  8. I got sacked from Castellon, we were one point below avoiding relegation with four matches to go but the board wasn't happy. I'll holiday two months and grab another recently promoted team. Oh well.
  9. C.D. Castellon SAD Background Information Facilities Manager Profile Squad 1 Squad 2 Best player So, I have tried this challenge before, with FM11 and 12, in both occasions with Zamora, as well as another stint with FM12 later on with Castellon. In all three instances I got to the first division, Zamora even getting me to the Europa League but litle else. I plan on making it to the Champions League this time around, at least. We'll see. Anyway, I really struggled to find a recently promoted Spanish club with enough players for a full squad, so I had to go with Castellon again. As you can see we have plenty of players, and that'll ensure we have a big enough squad to at least not have to worry about injuries and such. Our best player Ruben Suarez, even though he is 37, has great skill and we hope he'll stay fit for year or two more. PS--I am from Vila-real and a huge Villarreal fan since I was 5, so that will make this challenge more, erm, interesting. My uncle did play for Castellon (and Villareal too) in the 70s so it's not like I hate Castellon anyway (our rivalry is more local than a hateful one). On we go! T24
  10. Villarreal just went from Division 2 to finishing 6th in two years, yet the Bruno, Asenjo, Mario (just played for Spain), Trigueros, Denis Suarez...we have an amazing team yet I'm sure Villarreal in FM16 will look just like Villarreal did in FM15. Oh well.
  11. As a take on FM15 and its subtleties and frustrating changes of pace through the season, I'm trying things with my hometown team--Villarreal FC. We have never won a title. We have never even gotten to a final. But we do play with a very attractive style of football, signing talented, young players to develop and sell for more money, or just to keep at the club and watch turn into superstars (like Bruno). My idea is to follow that trend and try to get some silverware to Vila-real! The squad is very decent, but we do need to address the fact that we have too many players who are not in my school of thoughts. Dos Santos (lack of teamwork completely disengaged at times), Uche (on its way down) and others need to leave space for younger, more talented and team-driven players. Players Out: - G. Dos Santos - to Liverpool for 11m - Uche - To Benfica for 1m Players In Due to not being able to find the right players, the Europa League rounds starting very soon and not wanting to wait until the last day to sign them, we went ahead with three loans: - Rafinha from Barcelona - Munir also from Barcelona - Kike Sola from Athletic Squad Season goals - Get past the group stages in the Europa League - Push for Top 6 in La Liga - Semifinals of the Copa del Rey - Score as many goals as possible
  12. Castellon SAD - 17/18 Season - Year 3 Our third year in Castellon was a breakthrough one. Even though we did not achieve promotion, we were one of the top teams in the league and made it to the playoffs with four YPs in the starting eleven, which is cool. We are notorious for finishing the season poorly, and even though we spent several weeks 3rd and 4th, we came to the last match in 5th, hoping we could win and Hercules lose at home to get that last spot. Incredibly enough Hercules lost at home 0-1, so we got it. In the playoffs, we beat Jaen by an overall score of 2-1, but Orihuela, 1st in their group, beat us at home 0-2 and it all ended. We bat them 1-2 in the second leg but it wasn't enough. The good news? The youth products are making a name for themselves. Xavi Vergell is now the starting GK so much so that Salva was sold to Deportivo, Miranda finished the season starting on midfield next to Lois, and Castillo as right back and Neminho in the left mid are pretty much crucial for us these days. The bad news? Our finances are now in the red, as we're around 1m in debt. Oh well. Table - Stats 1 - Stats 2 - Transfers - Finances Youth - Class of YP03 Costa - DR DL -Decent and, most importantly, defender who can play in both sides of the defense. Juan Carlos- ST - Doesn't have much going on but he's young, fast, and we need strikers. Mateo - MC- Midfielder with really good passing to be 15. Nesto - CB - Another not great player, but he's almost 190cm and he's 16. Could be good. Carlos Sendra - GK - Our promising goalkeeper tradition continues. ___________ Year 3 Summary - Great year, close to promotion but we weren't ready. Goals Year 4 - Repeat playoffs, and maybe play against a La Liga team in the Spanish Cup? T24
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