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King Costly

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  1. AS PAOK Salonika December/January 2022/23 Update Greek Super League The winter World Cup in Qatar meant we had a ridiculously busy January and if you had offered me eight wins from nine, I would have definitely taken it. We signed off 2022 with a comfortable win at Xanthi before a couple of average performances against Iraklis and Levadeiakos thankfully led to another six points. Our second defeat of the season followed against Olympiacos - we were poor and a couple of defensive mistakes handed them the game. After the victories against Iraklis and Panathinaikos, I decided to tweak the system to give the wide men more freedom as we just weren't scoring enough goals. It looks to have made an instant impact! Local rivals Aris were the first victims. We then picked up a brilliant win at lacklustre AEK before Panaitolikos were given an almighty tonking! Greek Cup A pretty straightforward victory against Panionios in the 5th round and we'll now take on Apollon in the quarters. Another semi-final appearance looks on the cards. Europa League No games played in the Europa League since the last update but we've found out our opponent for the first knockout round - Dutch side Heerenveen. Transfers I wasn't planning to do much in January. The finances have started to crash a little bit unfortunately due to the increase in our wage budget. The domestic prize money is pretty poor in Greece so we'll be reliant on European competitions to push us forward. We did let Chuba Akpom go to West Brom for £4m - his contract was running out and he was struggling to even get on the bench. Interest then mounted in our left-back Guillermo Vidal. We rejected an offer from PSG and triggered his contract extension so he had three years left with us. On the last day of the transfer window, Dortmund made our mind up for us. An initial fee of £30m was enough for the board to step in. I understand - that's a phenomenal fee for the club and not bad for a guy we plucked from Uruguay on a free two years ago! That final day move did leave us in a bit of a predicament - we had no first-team left-back to take his place. I had scouted a few already as I wanted to sign a young back-up in the summer so we bit the bullet and got one in... There's no way we could replace Vidal like-for-like but I'm hopeful Martinovic will develop into a solid left-back. He joins from Red Star Belgrade for £1.1m Bona gives us another left-footed option out wide, arriving from Dinamo Bucharest for £1.5m Blahic looks like he could develop into a very decent player. He cost us just £425k from Ajaccio #OwnTheTop
  2. AS PAOK Salonika First Half of 2022/23 Season Update Greek Super League With the Qatar World Cup throwing the scheduling into chaos, I have gone with a longer update for the first half of this season. The results on paper look decent but we just haven't played well at all in the League. Despite our signings, goals have been a real issue. Aparicio has had some niggling injury issues and the rest of the team has looked disjointed and bereft of confidence in most games - very frustrating! Despite our struggles, we still sit third in the table with games in hand and it could be much worse - just look at AEK below! After a slow start, but three victories, we put in a lifeless display against Panionios at home, playing against ten men for an hour. Still, we needed a last minute strike to save our blushes. We took advantage of AEK's sloppy start to pick up a big win against them but again needed a late goal to win at our local rivals Aris. Our first defeat of the season came at home against Olympiacos - a very boring game in which neither team deserved to win. Unfortunately for us, a goal from a set piece means Olympiacos have drawn first blood this season. We recovered with back-to-back wins against Apollon and Levadiakos but my word did we leave it late! We could so easily have been sat here with six fewer points. Hopefully the last game of a busy October - a 6-1 thrashing of Apollon - is a sign of things to come... Greek Cup We've looked far more comfortable in the Cup and are through to the knock-out stages after topping our group. Xanthi were the only team that could have caused us issues and we saw them off first at home before beating lower league clubs Veria (just!) and Ionikos. We'll take on our League rivals Panionios in the next round. Champions League / Europa League Oh so close to making it into the Champions League group stages for the first time! We were very comfortable against Hungarian side Ferencvaros but then got extremely unlucky and pulled Shakhtar out of the draw for the final play-off stage. They were the toughest team by far and probably the only one in the draw I would have considered us as big underdogs against. We were poor in the away leg, conceding two set piece goals before winning at home. The one goal margin just wasn't enough and to be fair, the scoreline doesn't really show the gulf in quality between the two teams. The defeat in the final play-off round meant we headed for the Europa League group stages instead. I thought we were quite unlucky again with the draw - Lokomotiv Moscow and Borussia Monchengladbach especially are no mugs. Due to the winter World Cup scheduling, we played a lot of our group stage games early and by taking maximum points from Maccabi Tel-Aviv and Lokomotiv, secured our place in the knock-out stages. We finished off the group with four points from Monchengladbach. If only we could take our European performances into the League! #OwnTheTop
  3. He hasn't quite had such a big impact just yet
  4. Not sure why Barca were happy to let him go for peanuts! I can see what you mean regarding Nkunku. He will be mainly a backup and should be more than good enough for the Greek Super League. I don't think he's a long term option in all honesty. Early signs with Valverde are very promising! I would like more Greek players but the best are either on ridiculous wages in better European leagues or going for big transfer fees that I can't afford. I'm enjoying the League at the moment but it could become tedious if Olympiacos and AEK don't keep up. I'd like to see Panathinaikos compete too.
  5. AS PAOK Salonika Greek Super League - 2022/23 Season Preview Only a few outs worth mentioning this summer. Paschalkis was our fourth choice keeper who was never going to see any game time so it was only fair to let him go. Lemos was signed by the previous manager and never really featured for us so I was happy to get over £1m for him. The only notable sale was that of Diego. A fan favourite but a player that didn't really fit into our system. He came off the bench a lot last season and was in the last year of his contract. I'm sure he'll do well at Sampdoria and £6m is a fair fee. Goalkeeper Signings Our reserve keepers were let go in the summer so I needed at least one to act as backup to Sengezer. Rodrigues was signed in January on a pre-contract agreement and joins on a free from Feirense. Jindracek was somebody we had scouted for a long time. Slovan Liberec played hard ball but we finally gave in and parted with £5m for his services - he does look very good at just 18 years old. Defender Signings With Manea struggling at times last season, I knew we needed another strong right-back to challenge for the starting spot. Where else would I look for a cheap youngster with bags of potential? Partizan of course! Vucinic has plenty of growing to do but at £800k was a no brainer for me. Fortunately, Retsos was allowed to re-join us from Man City - he was huge for us last season. That meant that Garcia, who joins us on a free from Man City, was allowed to go out on loan immediately to Chievo in Serie A to aid his development. Heintz was an interesting find from my Director of Football. I like his mentals and at 17, he has plenty of time to grow - at just £450k from Ajaccio, it was worth a punt. Midfielder Signings Nkunku was another signing from back in January as we noticed his contract was running out at PSG. He was unlikely to ever get a game there but he looks like a very decent player. He can play in a variety of different roles too so I'm hoping he can flourish with us. We needed another strong wide midfielder and Micic fits the bill. Yet another Serbian signing and he has some really good mentals and physicals. He's 19 so will improve too. He joins for £1m from Vojvodina - the same club we bought Aleksejevic from. Valverde wasn't a planned signing but was made available late into the transfer window. A slightly more experienced player, I'm hoping he can shore things up in midfield. He cost us £3.5m from Real Madrid. Striker Signings With Zirkzee returning on loan from Bayern and a few good options up top already, I wasn't planning on signing any forwards. However, when I got a notification saying Barcelona had accepted bids of £190k for Aparicio, I couldn't ignore it. A big, physical striker who would fit into our system perfectly, I wasn't expecting him to pick PAOK over a number of other 'bigger' clubs bidding for him. A very pleasant surprise and a player I'm looking forward to watching in a PAOK shirt! Expectations I took a screenshot of the expectations but it's vanished! The board want us to win the Greek Super League and make it into the play-offs of the Greek Cup - both achievable targets and ones we should be making. They also want us to reach the group stage of the Champions League. We have two qualifying rounds to navigate and it will depend on who we draw but here's hoping! #OwnTheTop
  6. I wish I could poach my rivals' wonderkids! Olympiacos, AEK and Xanthi have all had youngsters go to France (PSG & Monaco) for £10m plus over the past six months or so - out of our price range! We do seem to be creating a very good core of young Eastern Europeans though! Thanks @Carambau! I hope you're right!
  7. AS PAOK Salonika Greek Super League - 2021/22 End of Season Review We exceeded expectations with a domestic double. We didn't really have a tough spell in the League apart from the two defeats to AEK fairly close together in the Championship Stage. We looked comfortable against Olympiacos and every other team is quite far back after that. We managed to avoid AEK in the Cup and it was a pretty easy journey to the final. Even the final itself was reasonably straightforward, Olympiacos failing to put up much of a fight. Andre Pereira was fantastic all season and was the most consistent striker on our books. He is a manager's dream really as he can play pretty much any role up front effectively. Ingason is our captain and has signed on for another season but will mostly be a rotation option at centre-half. Zirkzee gave us another physical option up front and I'm hopeful of getting him on loan again from Bayern. Vidal has progressed a lot at left-back and PSG have started sniffing around - not good! Retsos was fantastic at the back but I don't think we'll be able to get him on loan again. Parks, another loanee, has already signed on loan for next season and he was a steady presence in the middle of the park. I'm surprised Busquets got signing of the season - he's probably been the weakest of the January signings in all honesty. Markovic has been a revelation and will hopefully soften the blow of losing Retsos. With AEK finishing third and Olympiacos changing manager half way through the season, I didn't have too much competition for Manager of the Year! Other news... We're going to reinvest some of the Europa League cash by improving both the Training Facilities and Youth Facilities. I've also been rewarded with an improved two-year contract so here's to another year or two of progress! Oh and back in Wales? Dean Saunders 1 - 0 King Costly The story so far... The trophy cabinet... #OwnTheTop
  8. AS PAOK Salonika April/May 2022 Update Greek Super League Atromitos held us to a goalless draw to kick off April but we thrashed Panathinaikos to put us on the verge of clinching the title. Xanthi are always a tough nut to crack but we managed to secure a 2-1 win and with it, the Greek Super League title! We ended the season with a late victory at Panathinaikos before a goalless draw at runners-up Olympiacos. I really didn't expect us to win the title by such a margin! Greek Cup We won 1-0 against Panathinaikos in the second leg of the semi-final to make it to our second final in a row. Olympiacos were awaiting us in the final - probably a better opponent for us than AEK if our meetings in the League are anything to go by! I gave a couple of youngsters the chance to impress with Mladen Aleksijevic continuing to prove his quality since joining in January and striker Petr Frydrych performing well up front. My decisions were vindicated with a top class performance in a game we controlled for pretty much the entire 90 minutes. Aleksejevic curled in a lovely 25-yard free-kick very early on and Andre Pereira made sure of the result in the second-half. Our second Greek Cup victory! Europa League A pretty disappointing way to go out. To make it to the quarter-finals of the Europa League is a great effort from us, especially when you consider who we had to beat to get there. I just felt we could have beaten Sporting had we defended like I know we can. We conceded in the last minute (from another bloody throw-in) in Portugal and actually took the lead at home to put us 2-1 ahead in the tie with an away goal too. Us taking the lead seemed to kick Sporting into gear and they tore us apart with three unanswered goals. Even more frustratingly, Sporting got Celtic in the semis! They did, however, lose in the final to Arsenal. #OwnTheTop
  9. No, I think you're spot on! Developing youth has always been a bit of a weak point for me in FM. I have signed around half of the squad above after looking at them and I will give them individual training to get them used to a first team spot I think suits them (even if they never end up getting near the first team). I do try and loan out as many youngsters as I can as well. We do have a couple of interesting youngsters at the club that came through the ranks before I joined. In terms of nationality, it doesn't look like there's much variety. In my U19s, there are only three players that aren't completely Greek and they are players I've signed myself. Olympiacos have a couple of Italians in their U19s and Panathinaikos have one Brazillian/Greek guy but it's pretty much just Greek across the board.
  10. AS PAOK Salonika February/March 2022 Update Greek Super League We've had better runs of form but the odd defeat was bound to happen in the Championship Group. We were too strong for Panaitolikos which was our final game before the split. We thrashed Atromitos but then suffered our second League defeat of the season at the hands of AEK. We bounced back with vital wins against Xanthi and Olympiacos - the latter was a really strong performance and put us firmly in the driving seat for the title. AEK obviously want to make things a bit more difficult and beat us 1-0 again. We have been the better team in both games but fair play to them, they've managed to get a lead and then completely shut up shop. We haven't been able to break them down in 180 minutes of football which is definitely cause for concern going forward. Fortunately AEK and Olympiacos have taken points off each other to leave us eight points clear with five games left. Greek Cup If you only looked at our Cup games this season, you'd think Chuba Akpom was fantastic. He does seem to struggle in the League but he has taken his chances in the Cups and he grabbed five in the two legs against Iraklis. The second leg was a shambles of a performance to be fair - we were 3-1 down at half time and somehow looking like we could crash out in embarrassing fashion. The lads responded well to the hairdryer treatment at half time and secured our spot in the semi-finals against Panathinaikos. They must be sick of playing us this season (I know the feeling is mutual!) as we thrashed them in the first leg to give us one foot in the final. Europa League Well this wasn't expected! Charleroi gave us more of a fright than I anticipated which was mostly down to our poor defending in the first leg. We managed to make it through to the next round where we were rewarded with a tough draw against Italian giants AC Milan. We fought back in the first leg at the Toumba to take a lead into the second leg but those two away goals were always going to be an issue. We were fantastic going forward at the San Siro and two first-half goals really put us in the driving seat. Some shoddy defending in the second half allowed Milan back into the tie (we seem to be conceding quite a few goals from throw-ins but only in Europe?!) but we held on to record a famous victory over the two legs! A tough team was always going to be waiting for us in the quarter-finals - step forward Sporting CP. Youth Intake The less said about it, the better. Papourtzis is the only one worth mentioning and even he doesn't look like he will amount to much. I will be looking at the youth facilities and Head of Youth in the summer to see if we can improve that side of the club as other Greek teams seem to be producing some very strong players. #OwnTheTop
  11. I would prefer it to be just a 'normal' season but I suppose it makes you earn the title a bit more as you end up playing more games against your rivals at the top. In my old journeyman save I documented on here, it stopped me from winning the Belgian League with KV Kortrijk. I was fine against 90% of the division but just could never beat Club Brugge, Standard or Anderlecht and that killed me for a few seasons!
  12. Thank you for reading @hm86 - glad you've enjoyed the journey Hi @Jimbokav1971 - that's a very good point! I shall put the story/trophies behind spoiler tags in the opening post. Thanks for reading
  13. AS PAOK Salonika January 2022 Update Greek Super League Goals have been at a premium again for us which is why I was annoyed we had a perfectly good winner chalked off against Panathinaikos. I criticised the officials in the press and the Greek FA rewarded me with a one match touchline ban. Frustratingly it meant I had to watch the AEK game from the stands. Despite missing a first-minute penalty, we played brilliantly and picked up a vital victory. Aris gave us problems again before we secured three wins in a row against Atromitos, Panaitolikos and Xanthi. We have just one League game left before it splits into two ahead of the final ten matches of the season - exactly the same as Wales. Olympiacos have struggled of late, losing three out of five matches to give us the upper hand. With the way the Championship Group works, an eight point lead is anything but safe! Greek Cup We made light work of First Division side PAS Giannina. We've been drawn against our Thessaloniki rivals Iraklis in the next round. Transfer Window I wasn't expecting a busy January but how wrong I was! Above is the list of outs - we've been able to bring in around £15m in a month which is great for us. It's allowed me to strengthen the squad and also help the club's financial position which is slowly getting worse. Munoz and Noyok were back-ups getting barely any minutes so it made sense for them to go. Azeez is a good player but he was mainly warming the bench so at £4m, I couldn't say no. I was comfortable with Rey in goal but he did start to make the odd error and when Wolves came in with £4.5m for a 31-year-old, I quickly searched for his replacement. Warda had done well for me and scored the winner in last season's Cup final but he was a bit too lightweight for my liking and kicked up a fuss after Rey left. A move to PSV is good for him and another £4.5m is good for us! We brought in a number of players to improve the side and make it more 'my' squad. A creative midfielder, Maric joins us from Partizan for £1.5m. Another midfielder, Busquets is more defensive minded and arrives for £1.5m from Barcelona B. Both of our starting centre-backs are on loan so I wanted a good option of our own. Markovic, also from Partizan, fits the bill. Our most expensive buy with a fee that could rise to £4m. With Rey off, Sengezer joins to be our new number one. Bayer Leverkusen spent £12m on him two seasons ago but let him join us for just £3.3m. One for the future, Frydrych arrives from Slavia Praha for £1m. With Warda leaving, I wanted a more natural player to fill in on the left-hand side of midfield. Vigario fits the bill. He will most likely be a back up so it's nice he can play in multiple positions. He joined for £750k from Deportivo. Our final signing of the window and our third Serbian addition. Aleksijevic arrives from Vojvodina for £750k - a bargain price. #OwnTheTop
  14. I don't want to call myself a genius but I've just loaned out our young striker Katsoulis to Xanthi to get more game time and aid his development. He goes and does this on debut
  15. There is quite the gap between the top three and the rest of the League so I expect Olympiacos and AEK to push us all the way. With the Champions League teams dropping into the Europa League at this stage, to draw Charleroi is about as good as we could have hoped. Watch us go out to them now Zirkzee has done well - better than I expected to be honest. Akpom has been hit and miss (quite literally!) so it's nice to have another dependable option alongside Pereira.
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