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ollie laaaaaaaad

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About ollie laaaaaaaad

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  1. There have been a few bizarre managerial hires during my latest career. The oddest, Barbara Berlusconi, the daughter of former AC Milan owner and Italian Prime Minister Silvio, as West Ham’s boss. The former director hasn’t been terrible — finishing 14th in back-to-back. She was even linked with the recently vacant Real Madrid job, but they laughed off her interest. That one was odd, but I passed it off as a quirk; building a nice narrative in my head about the first female manager of a Premier League club etc. Then, during the latest managerial merry-go-round, I got this beauty: From St Johnston to a rejuvenated Milan! I mean, with a 48% win percentage, who else could the board turn to after Ancelotti skedaddled back to Madrid? So, what’s the oddest appointment you’ve seen in your career?
  2. September 2019 Update An excellent month that really got us into the season on all fronts. The highlight, surprisingly, was a three-nil win away at Man City in the league cup. We played a fully rotated squad, while City came in with their first XI. Our first voyage into the Champions League saw us come away with a convincing win. And in the league, we held our own against two of the top teams in the competition, while drubbing an inferior opponent at home. Ze Gomes’ start at the club has been exceptional. He’s scored in every game bar one that he’s appeared in. He’s been everything I wanted him to be and more: Explosive, powerful, an excellent finisher, and capable of carving open a side with his off-ball movement. I though he’d take longer to embed into the team, but he’s started on fire and shows no sign of letting up. United have jumped out to a good lead to start the season, but we’re hanging in and around the CL spots.
  3. August 2019 Update With all the transfer shenanigans surrounding the team, it would have been easy to forget we had a fresh season upon us. Before that, let’s wrap up the transfer stuff. There was, yet another, mess-up. To clear room to complete a move for Ze Gomes, I had to sell Morgan Schneiderlin to go along with Isak (there was a 40% sell on fee to Dortmund in the Isak deal). However, there was a snag. We had to continue to delay the Gomes deal until we sold Isak. By the time he was hoping on a plane to Munich, the Lisbon-based club were fed up with the Gomes delay and cancelled the permanent deal. I was, obviously, pissed (it’s something I think SI could figure out — “tell club X a deal will be completed once Y is sold”). After Isak was sold, I went back in on the Gomes deal. No good. They weren’t accepting any permanent offers. With deadline day closing in, I decided to bring in Gomes on loan — a deal they would accept. My hope is that he will so enjoy the year that he will fall in love with the club and refuse to go back, becoming disgruntled if Benfica opts not to sell. So we wound up with Gomes in the end. I now have a few months to plan out a more permanent option in January, rather than rush to get a deal done in the waning hours of the summer window. Fixtures: Grabbing Gomes paid off immediately. He scored on his debut, the very day he signed with the club — albeit in a disappointing loss away at West Ham. The rest of the month was a great success (!). There was no title hangover. Sure, we lost the Community Shield, but we came out on fire in the league. Two clean sheets in three wins is exciting. We already look improved defensively. And we had one of those bonkers games to open the season that we’ve just become accustom too. The Palace game was our best, though. It doesn’t get much more dominant than this: Goals are coming from everywhere, with Justin Kluivert slotting in superbly in Isak’s stead while we completed a deal for a replacement. League Table: Squad List: We also found out about our Champions League group: I like the draw. Going away to one of Europe’s big boys is what it’s all about. While the likes of Olympiakos and Kobenhaven are eminently beatable. Second place is certainly possible — though I won’t rule anything out with this team.
  4. Hello darkness my old friend
  5. Season Preview Update 2019-20 The new season has rolled around. Picking an offseason strategy was difficult. We either had to go boutique shopping: Adding top-class players who would help us compete in the Champions League. Or, we could go for depth: Allowing us to successfully fight on two fronts. Ideally, we’d have opted for both (duh), but the board afforded us just a £25 million transfer budget (so much for bringing that league title). I decided to go and land one big whale. Our title winning season was extraordinary, but our defence was often all over the place. Our tactic puts a particular strain on our centre backs to be able to play one-on-one. Against upper-tier teams, that’s tough. Adding de Light a year ago was a big help, but he needed a fellow star to partner with. Tah was the big fish. He’s a world class player with his prime still in front of him. His pace, positioning, and passing, are ideal for our system. He can bring the ball forward to initiate attacks, and gallop back to cover ground if we sloppily give the ball away. Our other signings were about adding depth. I spread the funds for Tah over three seasons, but it left us with less than a million with which to go get some warm bodies. We added two loanees — not ideal for long-term stability, but they fit our system, and they’re both talented. Axel Tuanzebe: Reiss Nelson: Our final signing (for now) was Mehdi Leris. Again, it was a case of the best player we could get for the money we had left. Our scouts love him. I’m not as convinced. His work ethic and flair reminds me of Adel Taarabt: Fools Gold. That’s not how we play, but he may provide a spark of the bench. Worst case scenario, he’s a fun player to roll out for cup games. Among our outgoings, we saw Leighton Baines retire. I quickly added him to the clubs backroom staff. He would be a cool candidate to take over when I leave some day. The Isak Problem: Elsewhere, we’re in the midst of a big conflict at the heart of the club. Isak wants our. Making things worse: He has just a year left on his contract. At first I was resistant, but with the season just around the corner, I’ve decided to cave in. I’ve figured out a deal to add super-talented forward Ze Gomes (I missed out on him last season), which we will complete if a team meets our valuation for Isak — $50 million. I’ve also resisted mega-money offers for Ross Barkley. Like Isak, he’s also pissed about it. I don’t think we could lose both in one offseason. And unlike Isak, there’s no one available of a similar calibre that we could attract at this point. League Preview: The media anticipate that we will finish and land in the Europa League. I think that’s a fair guess after last season. With that said, our lack of depth is a concern given the increase in games. With the League Title already wrapped up (that still feels crazy to write), and the expectations set at 7th, I’ll be focusing resources towards the Champions League ahead of the League whenever a clash presents itself.
  6. I need to decide whether to go boutique shopping or to add depth. We haven't been given much of a budget from the board to really compete for top level players. I'm hoping we can get our of the group stage, but it will depend on the draw. Thank you, man!
  7. I still can't believe it. The season just kind of rolled along and we didn't stop losing. I have no idea to be honest. I had planned on growing Everton into a club that crashed the top-six sides and eventually broke into the CL at some point. But I never anticipated this. I'm not sure how long I'll stay now. I still want to hop across Europe and corral as many titles as possible. I'll likely leave if another interesting job comes open. There's just no way I can replicate this past season.
  8. End of season roundup It was a magical season for us: The clubs first Premier League title, Champions League football, and Alexander Isak developing into the most prolific scorer in Europe. Top Five Players: It’s almost impossible to pick just five guys. Anyone from our regular 10–15 players could conceivably make the list. 5) Jesse Lingard — A tremendous season from the winger that saw him hit double-digit goals. His performances through April and May are what got us over the line. 4) Ben Chilwell — He scored some absolute screamers, including a 90th minute strike that will go down in Everton folklore. He’s everything I could ever hope for from an inverted fullback. 3) Ross Barkley — Barkley ran the show in the middle of the field. He worked in perfect concert with our two deeper midfielders, coming to pick up the ball, or sliding into cracks in the defence. His goals and assists were pivotal, but more than anything he helped Will Hughes, Morgan Schneiderlin, Tom Davis and company dictate the tempo of games. 2) Gerard Deulofeu — Our wingers reminded me of the early-era Fergie teams at United. They weren’t just penetrating runners, who also helped us recycle possession and keep the ball; they were goal scorers. 1) Alexander Isak — The league’s top goalscorer, scorer of the two goals that handed us the title, and our most consistent player. *Not putting de Light on this list was tough. He was magnificent. Around the World Serie A: Bundesliga: Ligue 1: Eredivisie: La Liga: Some interesting manager goings on have unfolded at the end of the year. Massimo Alegri’s time in Madrid is over after less than a year. He won the Spanish Cup, but his league finish and European performance doomed him. Hey, look who’s been linked with the job: Elsewhere, Pep has received a gigantic new contract from Manchester City. Look, I love Pep. But, man, he’s not exactly delivered success. In his three seasons with the club they’ve finished 5th, 4th, and 5th in the league, winning one poultry League Cup. I get he’s been their dream guy forever, but it’s tough to see how he’s still in that job.
  9. May 2019 Update Wow. I mean, wow. We actually did it. The final month of the season was a tense ride. We somehow one a tight one at Bournemouth, down to ten men, one-nil, even though they spent the game peppering our backup keeper. And the Newcastle game. I may never recover from that game. Down two-nil in the 60th minute I saw everything we had built up crumbling away. Even if we got it back to 2–2 (which felt unlikely) I had that sinking feeling that United would win by enough to pip us on goal difference. I made two subs, stuck the team on “overload”, and let them go for it. What a result: It was always going to be Isak, wasn’t it? Soak it in. The final standings: It may have just been by goal difference, but it was not fluke. We amassed an excellent amount of points and racked up a ton of goals — with a fun style — in the process. I’ve never before won the second division then first division back-to-back in any country. And we didn’t even make a great deal of changes. Most of our big summer signings acted as depth or were guys who came off the bench. Squad List: As I expected, league win or not, we grabbed a bunch of post season awards. Team of the Year: Footballer of the Year: Players’ Young Player of the Year: Manager of the Year: And hey, we won a Premier League title before Pep! Season evaluation post still to come. It’s time get the plans underway for building a squad that can compete in the Champions League.
  10. It was never going to be easy. Not for this club. Not for this group of players. And yet they did it: League Champions. Say it with, Everton are Premier League champions. Do it one more time, just to make sure you’re not in some kind of dream: Everton are champions of England’s top flight. Not since Newcastle’s “Entertainers” has a team so captured the hearts and minds of neutrals across the country by playing a balls-to-the-wall expansive and reckless style. And this team won. They actually did it. Just 18-months prior, the club was at a cross roads. They were out of the top flight, and out of the championship playoff places. Were they not to get back up at the first time of asking, the ghosts of Leeds, Portsmouth, and Nottingham Forest would have called calling. Having history guarantees you no future. Enter Francisco Lapello, the Armani wearing, gesticulating, young Spanish manager. The club, and league will never be the same again. Lapello took the Blues from outside the second-tier playoffs, to the top of the table in just four months. Twelve months later, and they’ve done the unimaginable: Champions of England. Not since the pre-Premier League era has a team won the second division followed by the first division. And never has a promoted side that’s played so open, achieved such success. They almost let it all slip, though; the history and the champagne and the toasts and the hugs and feeling of immortality. They headed into the final day of the season leading Manchester United by all of two points, with a slight goal difference advantage. Lose, and Jose Mourinho’s squad would be ready to pounce. Draw, and United would need only bang three past a Southampton side whose fate was confirmed three games ago. The game’s first half came and went with little to note. Everton’s team of youngsters looked tentative, it was clear the occasion had gotten to them. Them, disaster struck. Twice. Early in the second half, Newcastle’s Dwight Gayle rumbled and tumbled into the box, squeezing the ball past the sprawling Alphonse Areola to give the men from the North East a 1–0 lead, and the role of party poopers. They didn’t stop there, though. Three minutes later, Gayle doubled the lead. Everything Lapello and his team had built; the tough away wins at Bournemouth; a 9–2 defeat of Manchester City; a relentless sense of themselves, never caving to the demands of national media types to pull back the pressure and play more defensively; It all was about to crumble. Second place would have never felt so awful. This team of, mostly, young Englishman had bucked modern trends. They were doing it out of talent, yes, but also sheer will and togetherness. They were strained with a half hour remaining. New filtered through at Goodison Park that United were cruising with a one-nil lead. The ground was deadly silent. Enter Alexander Isak. The 19-year old Swede has been the star of the season. He fired Lapello’s team to promotion, and hasn’t stopped scoring since. A recent wane in form, brought on by a damaging ankle injury, had come at just the wrong time. But Lapello found his cape, his goal scoring boots, and put the team on his back, perhaps for the last time. The first strike felt like an earthquake. Not since Liverpool’s triumph in Istanbul has Merseyside felt an eruption like this. The second felt inevitable. The crowd willed, no, demanded the ball go in the net. Isak obliged. With sixty-four minutes on the clock he picked the ball up in Newcastle’s half, on the turn, skipped past a lunging defender and accelerated in to space. He laid the ball outside to Jesse Lingard, who wasted no time in whipping the ball to the near post, reconnecting with Isak as he slid the ball into the net. The last twenty minutes lasted for ever. Everton pounded the goal in the hopes of a score that would render the goings on at Old Trafford irrelevant. The crowd sunk back into a whimper. They were score watching. And so were the players. Then, as if out of nowhere, the final whistle. It was over. They had done it. History, achieved. Greatness, assured. Lapello could barely muster words to describe the feeling. It was up to Liverpool native Ross Barkley to articulate everyone’s thought, “I just — I can’t ****ing believe it.” A sentiment shared by everyone in the ground, as well as those around footballing world.
  11. This thing is going down to the final day.
  12. April 2019 Update A perfect month for us. We won all three of our games, while United dropped points in their final game of the month with a draw to Spurs. We avenged the earlier Merseyside derby, eked one out at Wolves, and ran over Crystal Palace at home. Jesse Lingard has been the linchpin. He’s popped up with important goals, created a ton of chances, and has been the driving force for the team’s recent success whenever we’ve bogged down and gone through stale patches. Even the likes of Isak have dropped off. The Swedish forward has not returned from his injury with the same kind of scintillating form he’s shown all season. We will need him to rediscover that form during the final few weeks if we’re going to pull off this upset. How things stand with four games to go: Two points separate us and United. The comparable goal difference makes things that much tighter. Arsenal are three points adrift, but the goal difference makes it akin to four. I like our run-in compared to the other sides. Everton: Manchester United: Arsenal: At the very least we’ve already secured a place in next year’s Champions League. I never dreamed we could do that at the start of the season. But now that we’re here, anything other than a miraculous title would feel like a letdown. Squad List: Four games from history!
  13. March 2019 Update This is turning into an all-time great Premier League season: An upstart Everton team head-to-head with the most dominant club of the Premier League era. United have just been walloping folks, biting into our giant goal difference lead. Either way, I’m just happy to still be in among this thing heading into April. We had three big time triumphs at Stoke and West Brom and at home to Swansea (though they really made us work for it). Heading into the United game, we were level on points, with them closing in on our goal difference. We had the home field advantage. I really felt like we could knock them off and open up a three point lead — with a superior goal difference — with seven to go. It wasn’t to be. Even when they went down to ten men with half an hour left, we couldn’t find a way past De Gea. Still, we didn’t lose. Arsenal have closed in on the top, as they look for their third straight title. I like our run in a lot — we don’t play any of the top teams away from Goodison — but the pressure is ramping up on a team that was still lingering in the Championship twelve months ago.
  14. February 2019 Update Just three games in February. Three, long, dispiriting, games. We were bounced from the cup by Middlesborough. I wanted to reach the final of one of the cup competitions, but there’s a decent silver lining: We can now focus solely on chasing a CL spot while the other top clubs fight on multiple fronts. Arsenal completely outclassed us at the Emirates. Our attempts to remain fluid and try to ourselves cost us. They calved us apart and were delighted to find so much space. Thankfully, we salvaged something from the month with a comprehensive win over Watford. Just six points separate City at sixth and us at the top. It’s going to be a tough run in. We’ve lost both Isak and Lingard for up to four weeks. It’s a devastating blow at the most significant time of the season. Hopefully we can maintain our attacking potency and cling on to a CL spot until they both return.
  15. Thank you, man. I was fortunate enough to inherit Isak. He's an absolute stud.