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  1. Chapter 6: With it or on it - "As Gorgo handed her son his shield, she exhorted him, saying, "Either this or upon this." (Aristotle, referring to a Spartan queen) We came ready to suffer. We knew that our first year in Superleague would be tough. We ended up suffering, but not the way we thought. In Greek elite, the champion qualifies to the Champions League phase group, and the teams between second and fifth place play each other twice to sort it out one more Champions ticket, besides two Euro Cup spots. One final Euro Cup ticket is awarded to the Cup winner or the fourth placed in the playoff. Do or die We started in the same manner as Division B, with lots of pressing and trying to control the matches. Of course, it didn’t work. By October, with our defenders being more lobbed than hoplites attacked by Persian arrows, we changed to a more conservative and direct approach. As expected, a lot of your signings flopped. Specially in attack, where Kolouris scored only two goals. Our best striker was Maloukakis, who netted 10 times, but never was a consistent threat. Our best assistant was left-back Papachristos, with five. But we were hard to beat. We had great results against the giants, including triumphs over AEK Athens and Olympiakos at our often-packed stadium. True, we also suffered a 5-0 defeat to Olympiakos away, but nevermind. A new veteran Looking for more offensive options, we found an Serbian who used to play for Asteras Tripolis, but was released. Aleksandar Stanisavjlevic, a 30-years-old left-footed winger who like to cut inside, signed. He liked to shoot from distance and with power, to curl the ball. He fitted immediately in Sparti, like an old veteran back in the phalanx. In 15 matches, Stanisavjlevic scored seven goals and two assistis. Funny thing: with him, we, dreaming with an playoff place in December, crumbled: won only four times. We fell off spectacularly. With four matches to go, we were fifth, the limit to the playoff. We didn’t win one single time. A defeat to Asteras Tripoli in the last round left us with 7th place. Despite the disappointment, we can’t really complain, as we were looking to fight against relegation. More than that, our beloved Athenian owner show up: at a time when we almost 1 million at debt, he came with what he has the best: money. Much money: 4 million to clear the debts and secure some margin of investment next season. I will look to improve our youth development. Another year, our agoge didn’t have any real excting prospects. The crop of this year gave us goalkeeper Ilir Memaj, a decent player, and midfield Stiven Ferraj, a technical promising guy. But I doubt that they can cut to a Superleague man anytime soon.
  2. Chapter 5: Sparta's Walls - - These are Sparta’s walls. (King Agesilaus II, pointing to his soldiers, when asked why Sparta didn’t have any fortification around the city) Here we are: Superleague, the Pantheon of Greek football. Toe to toe with mighty giants Olympiakos, Panathinaikos and AEK Athens. For the first time, we will play in historical stadiums, face big crowds, feel the passion. We need to get stronger. We need to make of our squad the human wall that will keep Sparta among the best. But we don’t have money. Financially, the promotion didn’t too much. We are still trying to survive, nothing more. The money TV is okay, and our small stadium limits matchday revenues. Our facilities still pale in comparison with others. How to bring together a squad capable of keep Sparti in the elite? Brick by brick I oversigned again. Desperate to reinforce the squad, I dove in the market, taking advantage of being a Superleague club now. So, long live Bosman, I assembled a few stars from Division B, including our first investment ever: for 180k euros, I brought Alexis Kontos, an attacking midfielder that ran riot last season for Kerkyra. And I'm pleased to have Spyros Risvanis at the defence: he has lots of potential. My main concern was in attack. Stamatis did well, but I highly doubted that he could maintain his level in Superleague. In came three new strikers: quick Stamatis Sapalidis, all-round Efthymis Koulouris and target man Matthaios Maroukakis. Koulouris looks the most promising, with international experience for the u-21 national team. To make room for the new guys, I was able to offload a lot of deadwood. We amassed 73k in sales, letting go 15 players. Stamatis was loaned to Aiginiakos, and Siopis, our young right-back, said goodbye to ply his trade at Platanias for 26k, our highest amount received. From our youth ranks, a little hope. Fotzis Tzieris is the first player picked up that can actually be something. A defensive midfielder, he also plays as a centre-back, is athletic and a few interesting mental nuances. Now, it’s time to battle to see if, after he passes through our agoge, we will still be around the Greek elite.
  3. Nice touch on FM to put real life bussinessmen in the game! Didn't know that. Fourlanos really gave us a boost, has great technical and physical skills. Thank him personally, please!
  4. Thanks, man! Keep tuned. There are more quotes to come! Hahaha, I hope not! Spartans were very prolific, there's a lot to use yet!
  5. Chapter 4: As far as this spear can reach (Season 2017-2018) - As far as this can reach (King Agesilaus II, brandishing his spear, when asked how far Spart’s boundaries stretched) The gamble paid off, but not without risks. The squad assembled proved too much quality to the B Division. Therefore, we cruised through the season, leading the table for almost every week, and playing some nice football to achieve promotion. For this year, I went for a control-based game, with high-pressing. This yielded us lots of possession and some moments of fine passing, like this 90 minute-goal from right-back Dimitris Zoulioutis against Lamia (Thermopylae always had us inspired) in a 2-1 triumph. The signings did well. Corstjens provided pace at the back, Fourlanos finally supplied us with rhythm at midfield. Most surprising was striker Andreas Stamatis, who came as a backup, but grabbed the starter spot, left Ranos and Arsenijevic in the bench to be our goalscorer, netting 15 times in the season. Athenian money In the pitch things went well – apart from Cup, where we said goodbye at Group phase again -, but outside there was drama. My gamble of financing a bigger squad quickly deteriorated our budget. By the middle of the season, we were in huge debt, almost 1 million. Then, something happened. Forgive me for the Portuguese language. But yes: in March, an Athenian bussisnessman bought Spartis. And cleared our debts. And injected money on a regular basis until the end of season. Even agreed to update our training facility. We are still far from rich, but I love you, Mr. Christos Panopoulos. Of course, being owned by an Athenian isn’t the perfect idea for a club in old Sparta. But it shows the real life: now, Sparti is a little city. Athens will always be Athens. Specially financially, we can’t compete. So, let’s take this Athenian money to build a susteinable Spartan football club. Then, we won’t need to limit your aspirations: our boundaries will stretch as far as our spears can go. Stats: Goalscorer: Andreas Stamatis (ST) - 15 goals Assists: Spyros Fourlanos (MC) - 8 assists Best average rating: Tasos Papachristos (LB) - 7.39
  6. Chapter 3: A matter of money - - War is a matter not so much of arms as of money. (Thucydides) Finished the season, there was some work to do. My main worry lies in the finances. We are far from profitable. With a small stadium in a small city, little appeal outside the Peloponnese and players with low value, Sparti doesn’t have any major income source. Sponsors and prizes amounted to 600k euros, not much to keep the club stable. In debt, we couldn’t improve our facilities. The youth intake wasn’t good. Our scouts did a fine job to find some youngster in another clubs and we signed three promising ones for free: defensive midfielder Giannis Androutsopoulos, playmaker Vangelis Kolliakoudakis and striker Evgenios Firinidis, all newgens. The gamble Strangely, the board increased our budget for the new season. We relied in Bosman signings, managed to stick in the budget, but, in certain way, overstretched the limit. This is a gamble: for this club to achieve something, it’ll have to play in Superleague. Let’s try to win and fix our bleeding finances with a promotion. That said, I oversaw some changes in the squad. Nine players said goodbye, including Oikonomopoulos, who became a starter over our good form, but demanded a transfer and was sold to Aris for 10k. In came eleven players. Every department was strenghtened. My main hope is pinned on Spyros Fourlanos, a playmaker from Chania, with superior passing skills. Wouter Corstjens, a Belgian center-back who played the Superleague with Panaitolikos, should make our defence step up a bit. At the end of the day, with no money, I think I assembled a well-balanced squad. Just like the old Spartans, with their iron-only coins trying to put virtue before richness.
  7. Chapter 2: If After invading southern Greece and receiving the submission of other key city-states, Philip II of Macedon sent a message to Sparta: "If I invade Laconia you will be destroyed, never to rise again." The Spartan ephors replied with a single word: "If". Oh, the disapointment. It can come in many ways. It can come when your biggest signing is a flop, when your best striker is plagued by injuries, when you overachieve, has everything to seal promotion, but, suddenly, forget how to play football. The Greek National B Division was a rollercoaster. We started in the botom, with only two victories in the first ten matches. We couldn’t count with Nemanja Arsenijevic, injured by three months since the Cup qualification, and really missed him. In the cup, nothing to write about it. We finished bottom of the group. Lagos, expected to master our midfield, also had injury issues. Besides, never fulfilled my projection. Slower than an Athenian phalanx, didn’t circulated the ball and was easily discharged with the it. At December, he was no longer a starter. And we started to recover. With new blood in midfield – Anastasopoulos and Oikonomopoulos -, we recorded 15 victories in 16 matches. Anastasopoulos was lovely, always steping in the box and often missing the goal. Bountopoulos, at right wing, posed a treat with his pace and provided most of the assists. We also had the help of Antonis Ranos, an striker dismissed by Xanthi who filled in the shoes of often-injured Arsenijevic to supply us with goals. The War Derby and a visit to a special place In this run, two matches were special. First, the what i called Derby War, against Aris, from Salonika. This is a historical team in Greece that folded and is slowly climbing up. They are named after the anciet Greek god of War, Ares. We, as Spartans, should give them something and managed to won 2-0 away in Februaru. Then, in April, we went to a very special place for Spartans: the Hot Gates, Thermopylae, where Leonidas and his 300 soldiers faced the Persians. Now, the faceoff was in a football pitch, against Lamia, the nearest city to the historical site, now not so narrow as before, covered by trees. Anastasopoulos scored the goal for a 1-0 win, and we managed to visit Leonidas’ statue at the site where the army was slain. How to kick a ball? So, there we were. Fighting for promotion, in excellent form, at second place. Then we crumbled. In the last seven matches, we lost five, draw one, won one. We still managed to arrive at the final day a victory away from glory. We only needed to beat Kallonis, already relegated, at the beautiful city of Mytilini, in the island of Lebos. We lost. Oh, what if we didn’t forget how to play football when it mattered the most. Still, there are positives. We overachieved and proved that, with a few signings, we can fight for promotion – and win this time. But we have a problem: there are not many coins floating around Sparti... Stats: Goalscorer: Nemanja Arsenijevic (ST) - 9 goals Assists: Giorgos Bontopoulos (AM / RL) - 10 Best rating: Dimitris Siopis (RB) - 7.22
  8. Thanks, man! I just figuring out for myself, and it seems a pretty interesting league. Loads of historical teams and places. Keep tuned!
  9. Promising striker to help you. Shame on the injuries - I have the same problem and it's devastating. Keep it up!
  10. Great work! Loved the detailed tactical plans. I hope that all this vision will be rewarded in playoffs. One question: with the club in good financial status, playing in Europe, would you consider bring back some of those players that left the club looking for greener pastures?
  11. Chapter 1: Fighting in the shade “Although extraordinary valor was displayed by the entire corps of Spartans and Thespians, yet bravest of all was declared the Spartan Dienekes. It is said that on the eve of battle, he was told by a native of Trachis that the Persian archers were so numerous that their arrows would block out the sun. Dienekes, however, undaunted by this prospect, remarked with a laugh, 'Good. Then we will fight in the shade.'" (Herodotus) Sparti has very little infrastructure. Our stadium packs 1.680 souls at maximum – but has a beautiful Leonidas statue in the entrance. Training and youth facilities are poor and basic, respectively. I’m allowed to spend roughly 90k euros monthly in salaries – and have zero to buy new players. This is not so much a problem, as I intend to focus on Greek players, only relying to strangers with any connection to Greece – Africans and Middle-Easterns are the exception, to keep it up with real world. We’re newly promoted, but the board doesn’t care. They expect us to achieve a place in the middle of the table. The squad is okay. We have a few gems, the main one being defensive midfielder Vangelis Chadiaris. Two Serbian brothers, Filip and Nemanja Arsenijevic, provide firepower upfront, and three similar centre-backs should provide us safety in the rearguard. The problem is in midfield. There’s our biggest signing: 32-years old Panagiotis Lagos signs for free, providing national team experience and technique for our squad. A former AEK Athens player, he’s expected to guide us through the battle in the Second Division. Besides him, I brought a few backup players. The first matches: Pre-season was promising. True, we faced weak teams, but we beat them easily. Nemanja Arsenijevic did nicely on the deep-lying striker role, linking play and scoring six goals in five matches. We’re ready to our first challenge: facing Apollon Smyrnis, from Athens, for a place in the main phase of Greek Cup. Nemanja Arsenijevic is our lord and savior. He scores twice in the first match to a 2-0 win that sets us nicely. But we want to suffer. In the second match, our first visit to Athens, Nemanja picks an injury, Apollon opens 3-0. At the end, youngster striker Vellinis saves the day and send us to the Group Phase.
  12. Spartans, let's brace together! Thanks, guys. This is my first time managing in Greece, and it's proving interesting.
  13. Football Manager 2017 has an advantage over all the other editions. For you guys that spent years playing Sparta Rotterdam, Sparta Praga, Spartak Moscow and the mighty Blyth Spartans, always with the reference for the ancient Greek city, now you can actually play with a football club from modern day Sparta – now Sparti. In the second tier of Greece football, there’s AE Spartis. I’m one of you, trust me. I even won the Champions League with Sparta Rotterdam in FM 14 , but never had the balls to try the English Conference. AE Spartis is different. They’re newly promoted to Greek Division B, after two consecutive promotions. Hell, they’re heirs of Leonidas. Modern day Sparta is a tiny city in the Peloponnese region of Greece. Its population doesn’t go over 20.000 souls. Though its potential tourism, it has very few ancient sites - actually, it was built over the ruins of ancient Sparta. It’s not in the plans of the many tourists that visit Greece. It's a rather simple city, keeping tabs with Spartan reputation. Those guys liked to fight, didn't even care for money. So, we will fight now. Can AE Spartis reach the helms of Greek football? Can this small city again defy Athens? Let’s see. Leonidas Dienekes is the guy chosen to take over Spartis. The first name is obvious; the surname references a famous soldier, one of the 300 deceased at Thermopylae, that famous battle against Persia. It’s attributed to him one of the greatest punchlines of military history. When an Trachis soldier told the Spartans that Xerxes‘ army was so big that their arrows would block the sun, Dienekes replied: - Then we will fight in the shade. So do we.
  14. 2020: Uma vez Flamengo... With a well assembled squad, I had little action in the market. In came a homemade DC who was in São Paulo and two midfielders to provide extra quality and depth - one of them raised in rival Vasco youth ranks and with Brazil national team caps . No one relevant was sold. Campeonato Carioca was the same history as before: we spanked the minnows and even the rivals. The unbeaten title came after beating Fluminense in the final. The funny thing was that, as we was playing Libertadores at the same time, my strikers duo was made of two homemade youngsters, who did realy well. In Libertadores, we had a difficult group, with Caracas, Vélez and Santos Laguna. But we did well and finished in 1st place, unbeatable. In the round of 16, we passed through Colón. In the quarters, the away-goal sent us forward against Estudiantes. We met Santos Laguna (with my ex-player El Chavo in brilliant form) again in semifinals and dismissed them. In the final, against São Paulo, the issue was over in the first leg: victoy by 4-0 in Maracanã put us in the way to claim the second Libertadores in Flamengo’s history. This campaign was really surprising. Even against Estudiantes, I didn’t felt insecure. The team was playing very well, controling every match. My only concern was the form of my strikers, as one of them, O Piloto (The Driver), got injured for four months, and the others had some struggling moments to score. In the other side, my homemade MAC was brilliant; an established starter ahead of an ex-Chelsea player, he was my main force in Libertadores, scoring and assisting nicely and earning the award of Best Player of the competition. I noticed that, while my strikers were good, we lacked a true aerial presence. I looked everywhere in South America and found El Gigante, a 1.98m striker in River that happened to be the third placed in the Best Player award of Libertadores. After a though negotiation, I signed him to boost my options, already looking forward to the Fifa World Cup in December. In Campeonato Brasileiro, things started slow as usual. Still dealing with Libertadores, we saw Corinthians take a seven-point lead in the first matches, including beating us in Maracanã. But they could maintain that level; as Libertadores was over and our first team went back to action, we recovered and cruised through the league. The title came with still three matches to go. To top it up, two more titles: in Copa do Brasil, we thrashed Corinthians in final, in Libertadores-fashion: victory by 4-0 at Maracanã in the first leg. But the true grand finale came in Mexico. We were back to the Fifa World Cup, which has a much bigger importance in Latin America. In the semifinals, easy victory against South Korean Suwon by 5-0. In the final, we expected the mighty Bayern Munchen, but local América surprised the Bavarians and won 1-0. In the final, in a Estádio Azteca with 105k spectators, we won 5-1 and was again at the top of the world, as in 1981, when Zico and co. beat Liverpool 3-0 in Japan. With four titles in a year and nothing left to win, I decided to resign. In two seasons in the club that I support, I manage to restore its greatness. I wish it was the same in real life... Now, samba-school Estácio de Sá can edit its lyrics for the Carnival in 1995, when they paid homage to Flamengo’s centenary - the song is still chanted in Maracanã at Flamengo's matches. Who don’t remember the Cup that Zico brought? Who won’t remember the Cup that Buendía brought? [video=youtube;A1c6ss3yy54]
  15. 2019: Samba rubro-negro The squad was well balanced, in quality and quantity. I made only two changes, bringin in new DR and DL to be starters. The right back, specially, would be key to our season, with his runs in attack. In the Campeonato Carioca, the state chamionship in Rio, things went well. We finished the initial phase in first place, punishing the minnows and beating rivals Fluminense and Botafogo. Vasco was the most distressing opponent: after a draw in the first phase, we faced them in the semifinals and lost the first match, but recovered with a 5-2 win in the second. In final, Fluminense surrendered, and we claimed the title. But moral is everything in FM. After the title, we started poorly the Brasileirão, earning one point in the first four matches. I was a bit harsh with the players, and the result was failure in the most important competition of the year. After qualifying easily in the group phase of Copa Libertadores and dismissing Venezuelan Deportivo Táchira in the round of 16, we faced Argentinian Independiente in the quarter-finals, amidst the turbulent start in the national league. With moral low, we lost 3-0 in Avellaneda and couldn’t recover at Maracanã. Bye, Libertadores. But the team made up for the failure and got better in the second semester. With fewer matches to play, we took Brasileirão by storm. I brought a new MAC, an ex-Chelsea player who was in Atlético-PR, but the funny thing is that he couldn’t better my homemade MAC. With three good STs rotating and great full backs, we scored easily through our way to claim the title with four matches to go. In Copa do Brasil, another dissapointment: we were eliminated in the round of 16 by Ponte Preta (Valledupar feelings). Still, with two titles, this was a good season. Flamengo has pretty stable finances and I’m translating this into better facilities, which was stagnated before my arrival. There are few bright youngsters, though, and I’m scouting extensively through South America to bring some more promising players. Another challenge is to maintain our players. My three strikers are constantly linked to European clubs. The full backs that I bought already consulted me about their chances to be sold. Besides eventual backups to the ones who can be sold, I’m planning to bring in a MC and a DC. No youngster is ready yet to make the main squad. As for now, time to enjoy some black- and-red (Flamengo’s colours) samba. [video=youtube;CpPnHXEYlwM]
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