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Everything posted by Blanco

  1. <3 Ivan Perisic... That goal makes my random 2nd round game in Paris - Italy vs. Spain
  2. I've got the winners of group E vs runners up of D - so Croatia vs Belgium/Italy?
  3. Evening all, sorry if this sounds like a plug but thought you might be interested in this... Basically, one of my mates has got himself incredibly fit, and in a couple of weeks time he is doing the Arch to Arc challenge (a ridiculous triathlon where he will be running from Marble Arch to Dover, swimming the Channel and then cycling to the Arc de Triomphe). In training for this, in February he ran between all the London football league teams, starting out in Wimbledon and finishing at Stamford Bridge. Fred is a big Chelsea fan, and the club gave him a ball signed by every member of the first team squad last season. He's auctioning this for Macmillan Cancer at the moment on eBay - if any of you would be interested in bidding on it, or want to share it with other Chelsea fans, then he and they would really appreciate it. Link below (for this and for his fundraising page in general): http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/321821419308?ssPageName=STRK%3AMESELX%3AIT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649 http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/FIronA2A Thanks!
  4. October 2018 Champions League Group C: SC Bastia 1 - 1 Tottenham Hotspur (Castaignos 34) A nervy performance from us, and in truth we were very lucky to get a point; just 36% of possession at home is not exactly ideal. We did go into the break ahead - Mauro Mallorca played a sublime through ball for Castaignos to slide past Lloris into the far corner - but had clearly been second best. Spurs finally equalised through Danny Welbeck on the hour mark, and we were holding on until the final whistle. A great point though, and the other result meant that we were top of the group after 2 games. Tours FC 0 - 1 SC Bastia (Huntelaar pen 14) We're getting quite good at these tedious games... We took the lead through a pretty clear cut penalty, and from then on it was plain sailing. Tours didn't muster a single decent shot on goal, and our task was made easier when Herelle was booked twice in 5 minutes to give us the last 15 minutes against ten men. SC Bastia 1 - 0 En Avant de Guingamp (Huntelaar 86) We banged on the door all evening, and came very close to dropping points here. Guingamp defended resolutely, and were only broken with five minutes to go by Huntelaar, who kept his cool to slot into the bottom right corner when one on one with the keeper. Despite it taking so much longer to score, I was much happier with this performance. Champions League Group C: SC Bastia 2 - 1 Viktoria Plzen (Huntelaar 10, Ruiz 38) Huntelaar kept up his good run by putting us into an early lead. And it was a carbon copy of that goal against Guingamp - Ruiz putting him through on goal for what is a bread and butter opportunity for a finisher of his calibre. And he made the goal for Ruiz as well, winning the ball back inside the opponent's half before sliding it in for Ruiz to finish from the angle. They got a consolation in stoppage time, but it was too little too late and we are favourites to qualify now. FC Lorient 1 - 1 SC Bastia (Simao 26) We fell behind early on to a goal from ex-Arsenal man Gilles Sunu, but Simao's pinpoint free kick got us back level pretty quickly. And that was how it stayed - the game was pretty even, and there were no more big chances for either side. Another solid month, and we retain top spot in the league. I've only just noticed by looking at the stats, but we have a 100% record at home in the league which has been crucial. We are five points clear of Montpellier in 2nd at the moment (although they do have a game in hand) and six ahead of PSG. The only big blow is the loss of Cesc Fabregas, who won't play again until February after suffering from knee tendonitis. And the Champions League is looking pretty healthy too... A win in Plzen will guarantee that we're playing in Europe post January, and if Spurs can beat CSKA then that will secure CL football for us too!
  5. September 2018 SC Bastia 1 - 0 OGC Nice (Annan 70) We've now got to the stage where teams are very scared of coming to the Furiani, and really sitting back and keeping things tight. This makes it kinda difficulty, as we have much less space to work in. Nice frustrated us for most of the game, but we snatched the breakthrough late on, a perfectly weighted free kick emphatically headed home by Anthony Annan for his first goal for Bastia. Olympique Lyonnais 2 - 1 SC Bastia (Castaignos pen 43) The end of the perfect start to the league, and well deserved it was too - despite us taking the lead just before half time and holding it for a good half an hour, Lyon were still the better side. Fabregas made his full debut, winning the penalty before giving away one, and the sucker punch came in the 86th minute when Johansen headed home from a corner. Dijon FCO 1 - 1 SC Bastia (Ilori 25) Another disappointing performance, and a really dull game. Ilori gave us the lead from another corner (yet the board are still angry with me for not scoring enough from set pieces), but we couldn't keep up our concentration and conceded in first half stoppage time. The second half was, quite simply, turgid. Champions League Group C: CSKA Moscow 0 - 1 SC Bastia (Smolcic 55) Our first ever game in the Champions League, and we were tasked with going away to the reigning champions having not won either of our two games. I was not hugely confident, but we were fantastic; soaking up the CSKA pressure with very little difficulty and creating a fair few chances of our own. Smolcic scored his first for the club on debut, hammering home after CSKA failed to clear a corner and it put us in a very strong position to progress. SC Bastia 1 - 0 Havre Athletic Club (Huntelaar 67) Much more comfortable than the scoreline suggests; Havre didn't manage a shot on target and we peppered their goal. It was somewhat disappointing that we only scored from a misplaced backpass, but Huntelaar belied his age by sprinting through and effortlessly rounding the keeper before slotting home. AS Nancy Lorraine 1 - 2 SC Bastia (Ruiz 9, Castaignos 46) Another comfortable win - Nancy's goal came in stoppage time - and after Ruiz's low drive inside the first 10 we were firmly in control. Castaignos wrapped things up just after some half time, taking advantage of some shoddy defending, and we lapsed again at the end of the game. SC Bastia 4 - 1 AJ Auxerre (Simao 19, Castaignos 46, Julio 54, Ilori 79) Finally a game where we turn our dominance into goals! Simao, on his return from injury, scored a stunning free kick, and Castaignos doubled our lead before Auxerre had had a touch of the ball following half time. Julio and Ilori took full advantage of a lack of height in the Auxerre ranks, and we frustratingly conceded late again. Well, a busy month, and a very successful one! We take advantage of some lacklustre displays from PSG to top the league, with a surprise challenge from Montpellier. Also, an excellent introduction to European football with a splendid win in Moscow
  6. August 2018 Champions Trophy: Paris Saint-Germain 1 - 0 SC Bastia Disappointing start to the new season - PSG still seem comfortably better than us, and we didn't even manage a shot on target the entire game. That being said, it took them until the 86th minute to get the breakthrough, with substitute Saul firing in at the back post - when you can bring on a substitute who was signed for more than my entire team, you should be able to beat me! SC Bastia 2 - 0 Olympique de Marseille (Castaignos 9, Ilori 35) Tough first fixture to kick off the season proper - Marseille had looked like they'd challenge me for the CL spot for most of last season, before dramatically falling away over the last couple of months. We played really well though, Castaignos gave us an early lead after some superb build up play from Ruiz and Mallorca, and Ilori made it comfortable with a header from a corner. We eased off after that, and despite OM dominating possession they could only manage a few desultory long range efforts. SC Bastia 3 - 2 AS Monaco (Mallorca 12, OG 33, 67) Much more comfortable than the scoreline suggests - their second was with the last kick of the game and we never looked in danger of losing after Falcao's own goal made it 2-0. Mallorca's opener, a low drive from 25 yards, would go on to win the goal of the month award. Racing Club de Lens 0 - 3 SC Bastia (Mallorca 7, Castaignos 16, Miki 51) Easy-peasy - the game was wrapped up as soon as Castaignos fired in at the near post. The keeper should've saved that one, as well as Miki's effort, and really cost his team any chance of getting anything at all. So the perfect month in the league - I wasn't top (as other clubs have played a couple of games more than us for some reason), but after PSG had a shock defeat at Havre we were the only side with a 100% record! Oh, and the small matter of the Champions League draw - we did rather well, given we were in the 4th pot of seeds. Victoria Plzen had disposed of Lyon in the qualifiers, so we need to be a bit careful of them, but they've never got out of the group stages before. Last year's champions CSKA Moscow will be a trickier test, and Tottenham will be tough too, but not insurmountable. And despite saying I'd finished my transfer business before the season started, when an agent popped up with this offer, I just couldn't resist!
  7. Apologies for the delay, people - I've been travelling for work and have had sod all time to play or write... Back in business now though! Pre-season Update - SC Bastia 2018/19​: As you can see, I've managed to get all of my business wrapped up pretty quickly. The first aim was to ship out as much of the dross as I could to free up some cash in the wage budget. The board had pushed it up slightly, as well as giving me about £7.5m for transfers, but it was good to lose the deadwood. With regards to players coming in, I started with wing backs - we were short there last season, and particularly given the departure of Palmieri we needed backup. Gaetan Bong and Rafa arrived on free transfers and should provide decent competition for Oueslati and Roussilon. Another area of focus was up top - Koita and Ba had left, so Castaignos was our only remaining striker. Moussa Sanoh was one for the future, and would hopefully go out on loan, and Stipe Perica would be third choice. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar provided some much needed experience at the top level, and I hoped he could still deliver at the ripe old age of 34. Continuing the theme of top level experience, Gokhan Inler came in cheaply from Napoli to bolster the centre of midfield. He would rotate with Takaki Miki, whose loan I had managed to renew for another season. Young Portuguese Belinha also came in as backup - he can play CM or AM. And last of all, we had a couple of centre backs. Both young players, Ivo Smolcic and Saverio Madrigali will be backup to the incumbent triumverate that we have, but should be able to fill in more than adequately if necessary. I'm fairly happy with the squad that we've got now - it's bulked out enough so that we shouldn't have too much of a problem coping with the demands of the Champions League as well as Ligue 1. First of all, however, we face PSG in the Champions Trophy, what with being runners up to them in both the league and cup...
  8. Round I: Congo vs Bahrain / Germany vs Czech Republic So the other game was played before us, and we hoped that Germany would steamroller the Czechs. Unfortunately, it wasn't to be, and the 0-0 draw wasn't exactly ideal for us! Congo 2 - 0 Bahrain (Litsingi 52, Delarge 78) Now, my rapid counterattacking approach was unlikely to work against a team that were actually worse than we were! I tried it nevertheless, and when the game got to half time without a single chance for either side, I thought I better change something! Creating a new formation & tactic at the interval was a bit of a brave move, but the switch to a more patient, possession-based game paid dividends. N'Sakala's through ball found Litsingi not long after half time to give us the lead, and we caught them on the break to seal the win. Top of the group after round one, and the Congo fans were ecstatic! Round II: Congo vs Germany / Bahrain vs Czech Republic Again, we would play second, and the plucky Bahrainians upped their game and grabbed a 1-1 draw against the Czechs! This meant that a win would see us through as group winners with a game to spare. Just the small matter of the Germans to get past though! Congo 2 - 5 Germany (N'Sakala pen 10, Linganzi 71) And their class showed! As always against the bigger sides, the plan was to soak up pressure and break quickly, but that had to be put on ice after we conceded 3 minutes in. N'Sakala picked himself up to score from the spot to get us back level shortly afterwards, but three unanswered goals meant that we went into the break 4-1 down. We picked up, and probably shaded the second half, with a goal from Linganzi swiftly cancelled out by Beyer, but 5-2 meant that we weren't heading through just yet. Round III: Congo vs Czech Republic / Bahrain vs Germany Barring a narrow win for the Bahrainis over Germany, we knew that a draw against the Czechs would see us through, but it would be a tough game. Congo 0 - 2 Czech Republic And here ends our World Cup adventure, and my time with the Congo - we'd already been eliminated from ACON 2019 qualification before I arrived, and I don't fancy sticking around another three years! We were outclasssed, actually more so than against the Germans; we managed just one shot on Petr Cech's goal, and that was pretty tame. A goal either side of half time sealed our fate, and I tendered my resignation as the team got on the plane back home. Still, I'd taken Congo to the World Cup for the first time in their history, and won their first game there. We also ended up in 34th in the world rankings, an all time high. On to the hunt for the next international job, but first, the rest of the World Cup: WC2018: There were relatively few surprises in the group stages - Belgium finishing third behind Brazil, and more shockingly, Tunisia was a shock, but Spain missing out to Colombia and the USA was the real talking point. Tunisia continued their spectacular performance in Round 2, knocking out the Germans with a 1-0 win, and Italy saw off Argentina in the highest profile tie of the round. In the quarter finals, Croatia sent Brazil home on penalties, as did Colombia to Italy. England required extra time to get past plucky Tunisia, and Holland overcame Portugal. The semi finals saw Columbia and England edge out Croatia and Holland respectively, but the final was much more one sided - two goals from player of the tournament Leighton Baines and another before half time from Tom Ince saw England clinch their second World Cup in a row!
  9. Thanks - it's going far better than I expected! I haven't really tried to be honest, just doing the best to make the most of the little that I've got!
  10. This is a really interesting read - very different to pretty much every other thread out there, love the tactical focus. Not sure I could actually play the game this way (my attention span is way too limited), but really informative!
  11. World Cup 2018 Preview We go to the World Cup with very little hope of achieving anything notable - it is The Congo's first visit to the tournament, and the media reckon that, at 200-1, we'll do well to keep the results respectable. That being said, I can certainly see us beating Bahrain, and we may be able to give the Czechs a bit of a scare too... We face Bahrain first, then Germany, and then the Czech Republic in what I expect to be the face-off for second place. The Squad: Goalkeepers: Christoffer Mafoumbi will be first choice, with Destin Onka as backup, and no third keeper as apparently none exist Mafoumbi is the backup keeper for Lens in Ligue 1, and played just 8 games last season. Defenders: Christopher Samba is the clear standout player in the squad, and I would rate his central defensive partner, Prince Oniangue of Saudi Arabian club Al-Ahli as second best. Beyond that, Fabrice N'Sakala at PSV and Beranger Itoua of Sundowns are a good pair of full backs. Beyond that, there isn't much, besides 20 year old Morgan Poaty, who can also play on the left wing. Midfield: Delvin Ndinga will play the holding role, with Christopher Missilou and Amine Linganzi in front of him. Again, very little quality squad depth here, just padding to make up the numbers. Wingers: Dzon Delarge is first choice on the right, and Francis Litsingi on the left, although he can also play up front. There's a bit of a running theme here - beyond the first team there is very little. Strikers: Fode Dore (currently without a club) and Dolan Bahamboula are the options here. Neither is particularly exciting, so I'll probably use Litsingi here and Poaty on the left wing. The strategy is the same as always: defend well, and break very very quickly. On to the first game...
  12. Season Review 2017-18: Career to date: [/b]Overall Career: Games Played 177 Games Won 91 Goal Difference +69 Win Ratio 51% Total Earnings £900,000 Average Annual Salary £180,000 Honours Promoted from South African National Division 1 (2014), South African Cup Winners (2015) MLS Supporters' Shield (2016), MLS Cup (2016), Coach of the Year (2016) French Cup Runners Up (2018) Almere City (2013): Games Played 13 Games Won 0 Goal Difference -14 Win Ratio 0% Weekly Salary £1,000 Honours None League Position 5th when arrived, 17th when left, 13th at season end Chippa United (2013-2015): Games Played 57 Games Won 31 Goal Difference +39 Win Ratio 54% Weekly Salary £1,100 Honours Promoted (2014), SA Cup Winners (2015) League Position 2013-14: 13th when arrived, 3rd at season end (Promoted through playoffs) 2014-15: 10th FC Dallas (2016-2017): Games Played 51 Games Won 27 Goal Difference +23 Win Percentage 53% Weekly Salary Initially £2,500 then £5,000 on new contract Honours MLS Supporters' Shield (2016), MLS Cup (2016), Coach of the Year (2016) League Position 2016: 1st (and won playoffs) 2017: Left after 11 games with the team 6th SC Bastia (2017 -): Games Played 47 Games Won 27 Goal Difference +16 Win Percentage 57% Weekly Salary £9,000 Honours French Cup Runners Up League Position 2016-17: 12th when arrived, 12th at season end (2 games) 2017-18: 2nd (Champions League Qualification) The Congo (2017 -): Games Played 9 Games Won 6 Goal Difference 5 Win Percentage 66% Weekly Salary £300 Honours Qualification for 2018 World Cup World Ranking 41st (95th when arrived)[b] Ligue 1: A storming end to the season allowed us to comfortably take second from a faltering Olympique Lyonnais. I think this may be my best achievement to date, barring perhaps that insane run with Chippa in my first season there. PSG won the league very comfortably, but the big surprise was the complete failure of last year's champions to challenge. As expected, Monaco sacked Leonid ****skiy, and offered me an interview. I went along for the ride, but was rejected after asking for a transfer budge significantly larger than the £22,000 promised. Good luck to Dan Petrescu, I say! They just about sneaked into Europe, alongside Marseille and Montpellier. I can't pretend not enjoying seeing our rivals relegated, particularly after we dropped more points against them than against anyone else in the division bar PSG, so good riddance AC Ajaccio! Coupe de La Ligue: A very disappointing 1-0 defeat to non-league LEMANS FC saw us crash out at the first hurdle. And there were no real surprises, as PSG lifted the trophy, beating Toulouse in the final. French Cup: As disappointing as the Coupe de la Ligue, but for completely different reasons! A stunning run to the final saw us dispatch Valenciennes, Ajaccio, Stade Brestois, Havre Athletic and AS Monaco before that last minute heartbreak against ten man PSG. Fair play to Laurent Blanc though, you can't argue with a domestic treble! The Squad: Awards 2017-18: Highest ever Ligue 1 finish for SC Bastia (previous best was 3rd in 1977-78) Champions League Qualification French Cup Runners Up Top Goalscorer: Luc Castaignos (13) Most Assists: David Simao (15, also the most in Ligue 1) Player of the Year: Julio (Average Rating 7.28) Most Clean Sheets: Jasper Cillessen (13, one behind the top keeper despite only playing 24 league games!) Former Club Watch: FC Dallas are currently struggling somewhat in the MLS, languishing down in tenth. That being said, last season without me they did manage to return to the MLS Cup Final, losing to Toronto FC on penalties. Rene Adler, the veteran German keeper, has joined them, and they've managed to avoid losing too many key players, but need to pick up form soon! My replacement at Chippa United, Cavin Johnson, is doing a really solid job - they finished this season a very respectable 6th in the Premiership, and are really establishing themselves in the top flight. That being said, he's replaced almost my entire squad! Almere City are still where they belong, out in Dutch non-league football!!! That'll do for now, transfer window report & squad analysis to come, but not before we have a trip to Russia with the Congo!
  13. May 2018 - The Cup Final: Paris Saint-Germain vs. SC Bastia Uncomfortably sandwiched between the final few fixtures of the league programme, I was in two minds whether to play my strongest team here or save it to ensure second place and the place in the Champions League group stages... I went for the silverware, naming my best side (barring bringing in Daniel Pena, who isn't registered for the league due to him being both non-EU and injury prone!). '4 - Deulofeu's cross is mistakenly hooked towards his own goal by Briseno, but Vincensini manages to claw it away! '5 - Vincensisi beats away another Deulofeu cross, then deflects Saul's followup behind for a corner. Borini's header from the delivery clips the bar and goes over. '26 - After a period where SC Bastia seemed to have weathered the storm, they counter quickly. Oueslati slips it through for Khazri, but his shot flashes narrowly wide. '42 - Vincensini makes a superb double save from Borini and then Morata on the followup. HT: PSG 0 - 0 SC Bastia '47 - Borini fires high and wide from 25 yards. '52 - RED CARD! Saidi clips Koita on the heels when he's through on goal, albeit still 40 yards away! The referee pulls out his second yellow, and PSG are down to ten men! '57 - That hasn't stopped PSG - Peruzzi fires wide from 25 yards. '59 - GOAL!!! PSG 0-1 SC Bastia. Koita releases Oueslati down the right, and he hangs one up to the far past for Khazri to crash home with his head. '66 - GOAL!!! PSG 1-1 SC Bastia. Lukaku beats two men on the corner of the area, and hammers one into the top corner. Unstoppable. '74 - Saul stands one up, and Lukaku crashes a header against the crossbar! '78 - DISALLOWED GOAL! Cavani is penalised for pushing in the almighty scramble following a PSG corner, and Peruzzi's goal will not count. '85 - Vincensini redeems himself with a fine save to deny Cavani, who almost profited from a hopeless goal kick. '90 - GOAL!!! PSG 2-1 SC Bastia. Heartbreak for SC Bastia - Mallorca sells Oueslati a fraction short, and Saul's slide tackle inadvertently sends Cavani through on goal. He doesn't miss those. FT: PSG 2 - 1 SC Bastia Gutting. Just gutting... The Run In: SC Bastia 5 - 3 FC Lorient (Oueslati 36, 62, Koita 64, 73, Palmieri 90+2) Ridiculous! It was 1-1 at half time, Oueslati responding with a rasping drive just a minute after we fell behind. He turned from hero to villain a minute after the break however, giving Lorient the lead with an own goal. I changed up the tactics slightly on the hour mark, and we went ballistic! Oueslati doubled his tally, and Koita scored 2 within ten minutes to put us firmly in control. Monnet-Paquet brought them back within one with five to go, but Palmieri sealed the win in stoppage time. Breathtaking game! And, best of all, Lyon lost again, continuing their hopeless run of form. SC Bastia 3 - 2 LOSC (Julio 42, Palmieri 81, Ruiz 90+1) And we managed it - as OL had dropped points in the last round, a win here would see us guarantee second place. Julio gave us the lead just before half time, and in truth we looked fairly comfortable until Aguer's equaliser with then to play. Palmieri hammered us back into the lead almost straight away, and Alan Ruiz sealed the win with a late third, before they scored an even later consolation. Champions League, here we come!!! Racing Club de Lens 3 - 1 SC Bastia (Oueslati 54) The classic case of a team needing to win to stay up playing a team with precisely naff all left to play for. Except Kader Oueslati, who needed one more goal for the season to trigger a tasty £200,000 bonus. Of course, he got it, and besides that we were rubbish. Who says that money is no incentive? OL lost again, ending the season with 6 in the league without a win, but somewhat sweetened by their Europa League win against Spurs. Season summary to come shortly...
  14. April 2018 SC Bastia 0 - 1 AS Nancy Lorraine And back down to earth with a bump... We battered Nancy for the first half an hour, but they caught us on the counter and after that they shut up shop. We do really seem to struggle when going behind, and couldn't break them down. OM closing back in... AS Saint-Etienne 3 - 3 SC Bastia (Castaignos 11, 73, Simao 88) The wobble continues - we'd comfortably beaten Saint-Etienne at home just a few weeks earlier, and should really have got another three points today. Castaignos gave us the lead early on, rounding the keeper after latching on to Khazri's through ball, but we were pegged back almost immediately, and fell behind just after half time. From then on we dominated, Castaignos grabbing his second, heading home from a Simao free kick, but a Julio own goal from a rare Saint-Etienne foray into our half left us one behind with five to play. Castaignos turned provider, however, threading a ball through for Simao to cooly sidefoot home. Olympique de Marseille 0 - 1 SC Bastia (Castaignos 45) The biggest game of our season, and boy did we produce! I knew that OM would come at us, so I just wanted to absorb their pressure for the first 20 and then maybe play a bit more expansively. And it worked a treat, as we managed to restrict them almost entirely to long shots. Castaignos delivered the goal we deserved on the stroke of half time, and despite my nerves we never really looked like conceding. Advantage Bastia! SC Bastia 2 - 0 Dijon FC (Briseno 4, Miki 81) A comfortable win against a Dijon side whose hopes of Europe were beginning to slip away. Briseno headed home from an early corner, and Miki did the same from a late one, and we were beginning to pull away from Marseille. The disappointment here was an injury to Castaignos that would rule him out for the season. Let's hope Koita can put in a few decent performances to push up his price for when he's sold in the summer.. French Cup Semi Final: AS Monaco 0 - 2 SC Bastia (Koita 72, Palmieri 85) A superb counterattacking performance, following the same mould as the win at Marseille. Monaco have recovered to 5th place, but last year's champions will not be happy with missing out on a Champions League spot in 2018/19. And Koita did score! Not exactly a masterpiece (he tapped into an empty net after Sankhare tackled Mallorca, sending the ball past the onrushing Ruddy into Koita's path), but we'll take it! Palmieri put the icing on the cake on the counter, and we were into the final! Disappointingly, there was no upset in the other semi, and we would face PSG. Havre Athletic Club 1 - 2 SC Bastia (Oueslati 5, Koita 47) And the boy scores again! Oueslati gave us the lead early on with a fantastic drilled finish, and Koita sealed the points just after half time, volleying home from Mallorca's ball in. A Briseno own goal in stoppage time gave Havre a consolation they barely deserved, but saved me paying out clean sheet bonuses! Another disappointing injury is the loss of keeper Cillessen, who is joint leader in the race for the most clean sheets, who will not play again this season. So, you'll notice a slight change in our league position... and we've gone upwards! Lyon have been on a pretty poor run (perhaps due to their Europa League run), and have dropped off with just one point in their last three. That being said, they have Havre, Lorient & Nice left to play, so I fear I may need 3 wins to secure 2nd place, and a guaranteed place in the CL group stages. My run in is a home game against Lorient (but that's just 3 days before the cup final against PSG), and the trips to Nice and Lens. One win will secure Champions League qualification ahead of OM, but getting second will be much trickier...
  15. March 2014 SC Bastia 2 - 2 AC Ajaccio (Ilori 54, Miki 90+4) It may look like we stole a point, but we thoroughly deserved all three. After starting the better side, we were shocked by two goals from our relegation-threatened island rivals in ten minutes. I laid into the lads during the second half, and we came out fighting. Ilori powered a header in off the bar following a corner to get us back in it, and we laid siege to the Ajaccio goal. Over the next 40 minutes, we hit the woodwork FOUR times, but at least we managed a point after Miki drilled one into the bottom corner after a goalmouth scramble. Toulouse FC 0 - 1 SC Bastia (Castaignos 63) Another game against a relegation threatened side, but this one decided to shut up shop almost from kick-off. A tedious game resulted, particularly the first half, but it opened up once Simao's stunning through ball was converted by Castaignos. They started to come forward, and we were able to hit them on the break, but no more goals were scored and we took three points. SC Bastia 2 - 0 AS Saint Etienne (Khazri 5, Roussillon 68) We're suffering a mini-injury crisis at the moment, and it's particularly afflicting the attacking midfielders - both Ruiz and Mallorca are already out, and David Simao picked up a knock in this game too. On top of that, on loan wing back Mouhamadou Dabo suffered a serious injury that will rule him out for the season, so back he goes to Lyon. On the bright side, however, Wahbi Khazri came in and scored with 5 minutes, and Roussillon rounded off a comfortable win midway through the second half. Pepe, just returning from injury, had a 12 minute cameo that ended in a straight red. Muppet! FC Nantes 0 - 1 SC Bastia (Miki 71) We're starting to win games even when really not playing well - apparently the sign of champions (or, at least, 3rd place hopefuls!). Nantes were the better side, but pretty toothless going forward, and Miki delivered the sucker punch with a volley after Castiagnos fed him with a lovely cushioned header. French Cup Quarter Final: Havre Athletic Club 0 - 1 SC Bastia (Koita 23) A momentous occasion... Fode Koita, apparently our second best striker, finally scores his first goal under my management! He steamrollered the keeper inside his six yard box whilst getting the ball first and nodding home. I completely rotated the team, as we're playing a number of games in quick succession, but that was still enough to see off an average Harvre side. Another superb month, the highlight of which is our super mean defence. For those of you who are counting, that's 8 clean sheets in the last nine! And the table looks extremely healthy too - the teams just below us have played each other a lot during this period, and that's knocked OM and Lorient back a bit. 4 points ahead with a game in hand, the CL is really mine to lose now! And we're into the cup semi, where we will play away at Monaco. Incredibly, PSG's win in their quarter final means that they haven't lost in the competition since January 2015 (over 3 years!)
  16. Thanks guys! Thanks - took a little while for the team to really get 3-5-2, but it seems to be working. Not at all how I originally planned it - I wanted it to be quick, intricate passing football rather than boring people to death with a strong defence and keeping possession, but can't complain! I'm really looking forward to it too! To be honest, if we hadn't been fighting for Europe then I would've definitely holidayed through to the end of the season!
  17. February 2018 This month started with some bad news - the finances have been noticeably deteriorating throughout my time at the club (despite me sticking within my budget), and I started getting described in news items as 'debt-stricken SC Bastia', which was mildly worrying. There will certainly be budget slashing in the summer, methinks, as the board are 'keen to see extra income being brought in through player sales'! Anyway, back to matters on the pitch... SC Bastia 3 - 2 LOSC (Julio 42, Palmieri 81, Ruiz 90+1) What a game! By which I mean, what a second half! Julio had given us the lead just before half time with a bullet header from a corner, and I was very frustrated when some poor defending let Aguer equalise with ten minutes to go. Palmieri leathered one into the top corner just two minutes later to give us the lead back, and Ilori headed Roussillon's long throw down to Ruiz to rifle home to seal the win in stoppage time, but there was still time for them to pull another goal back. Evian FC 0 - 1 SC Bastia (Ruiz 35) Evian, in the relegation zone, clearly just aimed to stifle us, as other average teams have managed this season, but Ruiz scored for the second game running after a cheeky backheeled through ball from Mallorca to give us the win in what was frankly a pretty tedious game. French Cup (11th Round): SC Bastia 1 - 0 Stade Brestois 29 (Renault 90+1) Given the game was sandwiched within 2 days of the Evian match, and 3 of the next league match, I opted to play an entirely changed team. And it just about paid off - a thoroughly entertaining 0-0 was 'spoilt' by young centre back Renault firing home in the melee following a stoppage time corner. SC Bastia 2 - 0 Montpellier HSC (Miki 45, Roussillon 84) A crucial win against one of the teams who will be around us come May. They dominated the first half, with Miki's header the sucker punch after a superb assist from Castaignos. Roussillon sealed the points on the break with 5 to play. Girondins Bordeaux 0 -2 SC Bastia (Dabo 9, Castaignos 48) It started so well... the Bordeaux centre back sliced his clearance straight to Dabo, he rounded the right back and kept his cool to finish into the far corner. And it only got better, what with Ayasse seeing red for the home side shortly afterwards. Castaignos extinguished what faint hopes they had with a neat finish just after half time, and I hit cruise control. A perfect finish to a perfect month, and the league table is starting to look very nice: 3rd place with 12 left to play! If we can hang on to that third spot, then that would solve our financial worries - that guarantees us a group stage place in the Champions League for next season. OM are the obvious threats, and we still have to visit them later on in the season, but they have a brutal 4 games in a row that are us, Lyon, Monaco and PSG! And I wouldn't discount Monaco just yet, either - they are last year's champions and are picking up after a horrendous start.
  18. January 2018 Well, after a dismal failure to do anything in the transfer market other than offload one useless player (Christophe Vincent has joined a Stade Rennais team that were relegated last year and struggling in 16th in Ligue 2 this year), it was back to business. French Cup (9th Round): Valenciennes FC 1 - 2 SC Bastia (Castaignos 41, Simao 49) A comfortable win against a mid-table Ligue 2 team. The defence went walkabout just before half time, allowing Ruiz acres of space to feed Castaignos, who finished tidily. And the game was up 4 minutes after the break, Simao scoring a superb free kick. We took our foot off the pedal a little after that, but in truth the 78th minute consolation was one more goal than they deserved. SC Bastia 1 - 0 Olympique Lyonnais (Roussillon 88) Daylight robbery. Or rather, as the game kicked off at 7 pm, late evening robbery! We were battered, with Lyon having 16 shots to our 3, but we won the stat that mattered. And maybe it wasn't that unfair on Lyon - of their 16 shots, just 4 were on target, and only one was described as a clear cut chance. We had one of those two - substitute Adama Ba played a superb through ball to leave Roussillon one on one, and he made no mistake to nab the three points. French Cup (10th Round): AC Ajaccio 0 - 2 SC Bastia (Castaignos 30, Palmieri 81) Another easy win in the cup, but this was extra sweet against our island rivals. Simao fed Castaignos for the opener on the half an hour, and we counterattacked our hosts to death. It was a miracle that we were restricted to just one, to be honest, until Palmieri popped up on the counter to seal our third win in a row. AS Monaco 1 - 1 SC Bastia (Castaignos 65) Castaignos continues a superb run of form, and we collect another point from moneybags Monaco! Again, we were pounded, but nicked the lead on the counter as per usual against Monaco. This time, unfortunately, we couldn't hold on - Nastasic scoring from a corner. SC Bastia 2 - 2 Paris Saint-Germain (Mallorca 19, Ilori 80) Another top performance against the runaway league leaders - Mallorca got us off to a great start after tapping in after Simao put an undefendable ball in. We led at the break, but Saul equalised before Ilori's own goal gave them the lead in a disastrous ten minute period. However, all was not lost, and Ilori popped up at the near post after a late corner to give us a point. En Avant de Guingamp 1 - 0 SC Bastia The only bad result we've had this month, and the only bad performance. We were toothless, and defended pretty badly. Admittedly, the strong wind and hail probably didn't help our neat short passing game, but we shouldn't be being this bossed by a very average Guingamp team. And we conceded from a corner. So, an irritating defeat at the end of a pretty solid month. Let's hope it's not a sign of things to come!
  19. Looking good - building on that last solid season. The interview screenshots are so tiny!
  20. Mad Mike's Mid-Season Review: 2017-18 We lie 7th in the table at what is pretty much halfway through the season. As you can see, PSG are miles out in front, and the title is already theirs to lose. The other moneybags side, Monaco, are slowly pulling up the table after an atrocious start under new manager Leonid ****skiy. It's all pretty close between 2nd and 7th (and expect Monaco to join this group sooner rather than later!), and I'm confident that we can beat the media prediction of 11th. We've been pretty solid at the back, but just not scoring enough goals, and I'll hope to use the January window to help pick things up. Leading Lights: 1. Luc Castaignos - the striker has proved the most clinical of the three options up front, but even he hasn't scored that many with just 5 in nine. 2. Anthony Annan - he has played far more games than I expected him to, and done really well in defensive midfield. 3. Julio - the Spaniard has been the strongest part of our triumverate at the back which has been key in keeping our defence so solid. Mad Mike's Muppets: 1. Daniel Pena - clearly one of the most talented players at the club, Pena has been almost constantly injured. As he's Bolivian, and I have a new signing coming in from Argentina to take his non-EU spot, he won't be registered for the squad until he can prove his fitness on a long term basis. 2. Fode Koita - picked by my assistant as our best striker barring Castaignos, he hasn't scored once yet and will be leaving the club if I get a decent offer for him. 3. Thomas Vincensini - the keeper has had to play far more than I would have liked him to, with first choice Cillessen not arriving until deadline day and subsequently suffering an injury. He has been pretty hopeless - Cillessen is no world beater, but Vincensini makes him look like one in comparison! Transfer Dealings: Jasper Cillessen has been solid, if unspectacular, in goal since joining. However, his time here has been marred by a couple of injuries. Tiago Ilori and Antonio Briseno have been excellent at centre back alongside Julio, and on free transfers have certainly been good value! Mahamadou Dabo, on loan from Lyon, has done very well at wing back and been very consistent. Alan Ruiz has done reasonably well at attacking midfield; he started excellently, but has been a little anonymous and picked up a couple of injuries since. Takaki Miki has been solid in the middle, keeping the more experienced Luca Castiglia out of the team, and we've discussed Daniel Pena and Anthony Annan already. Luc Castaignos has been the pick of my forwards, and is our top scorer thus far. Plans for the window: Well, I'd already agreed for Pepe and Mauro Mallorca to join on frees. Pepe will be an experienced backup to our centre backs, but Mallorca looks fantastic and should slot straight into the first team. Beyond this, I want to bring in another striker if possible. Castaignos has impressed, and Adama Ba has been OK, but Koita has been hopeless and I want to upgrade my alternatives if possible. I'll be looking to offload Koita, as well as a few players in the reserves if at all possible.
  21. Back to Bastia again, and we'll look at November and December results before doing a mid-season review: November / December 2017 Coupe de la Ligue (3rd Round): Le Mans FC 1 - 0 SC Bastia Pathetic - we lost to a team from the league below despite having 59% of possession, twice as many shots and an extra man for 35 minutes. They scored after Mendes fired straight through Vincensini midway through the first half, and we just couldn't score. Worryingly, this is developing into quite the regular theme in my career - I really struggle to beat teams that are comfortably worse than me. AS Nancy Lorraine 2 - 3 SC Bastia (Castaignos 15, 70, Khazri 27) A much improved performance from us here - Castaignos gave us the lead early on with a neat finish after a great chip through from Miki, and Khazri doubled our advantage with a close range header after a perfect cross from wing back Oueslati. We let them back into it, however, giving Rachid far too much time to drill home from the edge of the area, but there was nothing we could've done about Ngando's wondergoal. Castiagnos scored the winner from close range after another superb Oueslati cross. SC Bastia 0 - 0 FC Nantes Another game where we failed to break down distinctly average opposition who set their stall out to defend. Any tips on how to change this would be very helpful! SC Bastia 1 - 2 Olympique de Marseille (Oueslati 7) Oueslati is looking very very good in that right wing back role, and he got us off to a flyer, keeping his composure to slot past Mandanda on a lethal counter attack. Unfortunately, that was as good as it got for us - OM dominated the match, and it was a surprise that it took them till Tiago Ilori's 44th minute OG to level, and till the 77th minute to score the winner. Dijon FCO 1 - 1 SC Bastia (Miki 26) Miki headed us into the lead from a corner, which pleased the chairman, who is getting mildly peeved by our lack of prowess from set pieces (I thought we were doing OK in that regard?). Dijon are doing very well this year, and it was really disappointing to concede yet another own goal - is anyone else finding a lot of own goals, and mostly nonsensical ones? This one was Mary with a free header from their corner, opting to nod it into our own goal rather than away. SC Bastia 1 - 0 Havre Athletic Club (Castaignos 66) We absolutely battered Havre, and I cannot believe how we didn't score more! Castaignos scored the only goal of the game, a cool finish after a great ball from Ruiz, but missed a penalty in the 88th minute to leave me expecting an equaliser at the death! We held out though, and only conceded one shot on target all game. FC Lorient 2 - 0 SC Bastia We were demolished! Lorient had 31 shots (albeit only 9 on target), and 61% of the possession. They were just far, far better than we were and two goals in six first half minutes killed the game. SC Bastia 2 - 1 OGC Nice (Dingome 26, Julio 66) Another good day for the chairman, as both our goals came through set pieces. Dingome's was a lovely volley from the edge of the area after a corner wasn't properly cleared, and Julio made it 2-0 with a thumping header from a corner. They pulled one back almost immediately, but we always looked relatively comfortable, and it was a nice way to leave the first half of the season.
  22. After negotiating a rather tedious friendly win over Libya (I won't bore you with all the details, but Delarge gave us a 1-0 win in the 86th minute), the Congo FA whisked me off to snowy Moscow for the draw for the 2018 World Cup - Congo's first! Playing with the balls today: World Cup-winning captain from 2014, Steven Gerrard, now of course assistant manager of Birmingham City (Michael Owen is also a coach there!), and his predecessor Iker Casillas, still going strong as Real Madrid and Spain's No. 1. Pot #1: Argentina Brazil Mexico Germany England Spain Italy Russia Pot #2: Bahrain Costa Rica Iran Serbia Honduras Oman Japan USA Pot #3: Cameroon Colombia Ghana Tunisia Chile Congo Ivory Coast Uruguay Pot #4: Belgium Georgia Czech Republic Portugal France Croatia Holland Switzerland You know, there are some possibilities that I might quite fancy there - Mexico, Oman, Congo and Georgia could be quite doable! Having said that, I could get landed with Brazil, the USA and Holland. It ended up somewhere in the middle - Germany wasn't ideal, but anyone from Pot 1 was bound to thump us! Pot 2 kindly gave us Bahrain, who are actually ranked worse than we are! And Pot 3 didn't give us Georgia, but I was happy to get Czech Republic rather than Holland or France. Group C: Bahrain Congo Czech Republic Germany I still don't expect us to progress, but there's a chance - beating Bahrain, and sneaking a point against the Czechs might just be possible! The Group of Death (there's always one!): England France Ivory Coast Japan
  23. A 17 player squad is very brave, particularly with 46 game seasons plus cups. I'd hate to be your assistant!
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