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ollie laaaaaaaad

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  1. “Poor But Proud”: Project Rayo Vallecano Rayo Vallecano is a community; they represent the district in Madrid that is Vallecas — the Independent Republic of Vallecas. Vallecano is the third team in Madrid, behind Real Madrid — perhaps the largest, most successful club on earth — and Atletico, a historically significant team with recent jaunts to European Cup finals and La Liga title bids. But Vallecano is different. In Vallecas, Rayo just means more. It is not a sporting institution, it is a way of life, a true social club, that happens to play some football here and there. Fans — and the club itself — are infamous for their left-leaning, loud views. They’ve taken to games to protest homophobia and abortion. Wins and losses are secondary to the feeling of community. This isn’t mere service; it’s no motto. Players are known to take public transport to games, work in local charity stores, and once helped pay the rent of a citizen who was due to be evicted from her flat, personally barricading the doors and explaining the young mother's situation to the police. Rayo fans infamously protested the loan signing of Roman Zozulya who was purported to have ties to far-right, neo-nazi groups. The club canceled the loan due to fans pressure. When Zozulya joined Albacete in 2017, the club decided to leave him at home when the team had to travel to Vallecano. “They pride themselves on operating within a working-class neighborhood, taking umbrage with the status quo, and making a massive effort to effect change at grassroots levels.” — Working Class Heroes, Robbie Dunne Oh, and for all that, like any great continental club: they are downright balmy from the boardroom on down. The politics, inevitably, interferes. Fans mean what they say. They take umbrage with the status quo; disavowing much of modern football. They would rather support a prideful club that represents them the “right way” and play in the second division than sell its soul and fight for European places. And it is into that cauldron that I shall walk. The goal: give Vallecano a team that is uniquely Valleca, one that its supporters can be proud of… and win. The Goals: Build around young, Spanish players, ideally cherry picking the castoffs of Spain’s Big Three Have one of the most prosperous academies in Europe Play with a fun, engaging style Win La Liga Win the European Cup Win a European Cup fielding at least five academy stars The Rules: No Loans *** The State of Play The Club: I’m playing with a June summer transfer window update, so Rayo is in the Spanish second division after finishing last year 20th in La Liga. Last year’s squad was loaded with loanees, was bloated, and lacked any direction. This year has a hint of quality, some fat contracts, and just enough pieces to be excited about long term. The Squad: The Stadium: Right up against a block of flats. Isn’t it beautiful?
  2. October 2019 Update — Real Madrid A perfect month, barring injury concerns. Another month in which we conceded only one goal, and this time it was in a blowout win against United at home. We’re in cruise mode already. The big match-ups, of course, will be the Classico’s against Barca, the derbies vs. Atletico, and the Champions League knockout rounds. For now, things are going swimmingly. One thing that’s evident from our transition from Sao Paulo to Madrid: Speed. Speed of the players; speed of movement; speed of thought; and speed or ball circulation. Everything is just that beat to two-beats quicker, and it shows. We’ve been poleaxing inferior teams early in games, racking up leads in the first half, and then hitting teams on the counter attack once they commit men forward. The Bale injury is a bad one. We’re looking at getting him back for the final, final stretch of the season — perhaps the Champions League semi-finals if we’re lucky. But the league will likely have been decided by then. And it’s not just Bale. Modric went down. A nasty hip injury that will rule him out of the winter period. We’re fortunate to have a decent rotation in the middle of the park, but it’s a nice reminder that, at 34-years-old, it’s time to start looking a replacement to the Croatian maestro. League Table Little separating Barca and ourselves at the top. Atletico have had a shocking start to the season, ruling themselves out of the title race already. They will turn it around. It may come under a new manager. Squad List With Modric and Bale out, we now have a settled squad, with some injections of magic and legs ready and waiting on the bench. Dybala has been outrageously good.
  3. Ugh. He was dominating, too. Good job we can turn to the bench and bring Ronaldo on.
  4. September 2019 Update — Real Madrid An excellent first “proper” month, with one slip-up. Schedule We’ve gelled fast, and blitzed people. Only one goal conceded all month is pretty phenomenal. Unfortunately, that was really cost us — as we fell away to Gijon. The rest of the month, however, was as close to perfection as you could. As I thought: the quick transition tactic fits these guys perfectly. It’s typical Madrid stuff, to be honest: Pacy wide-men, fullbacks bombing forward, a middle man to link play, and a superiority of numbers in midfield with a single pivot system. Dybala has been extraordinary, bagging two separate hattricks and another brace. The fire-power is overwhelming. I’m constantly rotating the front-three, which keeps everyone engaged. The loss to Gijon hurt. But we deserved to lose: The outplayed and frustrated us; we lost our heads. Down to ten men, we were in trouble. I gambled an shifted to a back-three, keeping all the attacking options on the field. It failed —  hand up, my bad. League Table We’re tops, with an imperious goal difference. Squad List The back four is settled, and Toni Kroos is an ever present. I’ve vacillated between Asensio and Modric in the advanced playmaker role. They’ve both been great; they’ve also been great playing together. I’ll continue to keep each of the midfield three — Asensio, Modric, Zielinski — fresh by constantly rotating. I’m not a big believer in “knowing your best eleven”. To me, that’s silly. Every game, every opponent is different. And there’s injuries and suspensions. The key is finding the balance with rotation, keeping everyone involved and fresh while still having guys learn to play together and learn the system. I agreed a deal to sell Benzema to Chelsea rather than Napoli, allowing us to keep him as backup until January. That gives me time to re-allocate the funds and add one of my long-term targets in January, where they’re hopefully available for the stretch run (though unlikely the Champions League). Speaking of the European Cup. We’re favorites. No pressure then: Our dynamics are, umm, good? The players don’t trust or like me. I don’t blame them — I’m a no name most of them will never have heard of from the Brazilian top league. Thankfully, they love one another. I’m re-training Vinicius Junior. one of the top youth prospects in all of football, as a false 9. I know I have Dybala and Firmino, both of whom will still be in their primes before I leave. But I just like how his attributes fit, and want the youth development to be a real part of the “football language” goal of this save. Not just signing five-star potential guys, but leaving my imprint at clubs be re-training young players into Pep-like positions and giving them style-specific player traits.
  5. August 2019 Update — Real Madrid Well, our feet are well and truly under the desk now. We kicked-off our time in Madrid with your bog standard sixteen-nil win; a decent sign. Schedule The crucial games, of course, were the actual games. We kicked things off with a Supercopa win against our crosstown rivals. Atletico claimed the first leg. We were poor in possession and they punished us with a clinical finish. Despite Ronaldo and Benzema missing out through injury, we claimed the second leg comfortably. I say comfortably, but it wasn’t a sure thing. We dominated the ball and created the vast majority of the chances. We led early, but couldn’t get a second goal to edge the tie on aggregate. Gareth Bale changed everything. He had picked up a knock prior to my arrival (surprise) and we unleashed him with half an hour to go, though he was still struggling with fitness. Still: His blend of pace and power transformed the game. Atletico pushed forward. Bale galloped into the vacated spaces. He laid on both goals, clinching my first trophy with Los Blancos. Our first game of the league season was a cruise-control victory over Celta Vigo. Bale stared again — starting this time — with a pair of assists and a goal in the first half. But it was Asensio who really stood out. He’s competing with Luka Modric for one of the starting playmaker spots. His youth and legs are showing up strong in the first few games. League Table Start as we mean to go on. Squad List Notes: This is a small squad, which I usually like, but injuries have already kicked in. Bale, Benzema, Ronaldo, Dybala, Firmino and Carvajal have all picked up knocks. Ronaldo is out for a few weeks, the best were back — or are set to be back — after a single game. I don’t think this is great: Even if you stick the transfer budget into the wage budget, we’re a £100k down. I have a deal agreed to sell Benzema to Napoli. Given our fire-power, his age, the finances, and the direction I’m taking the club, he’s on the outs. The issue, however, is the squad size. I don’t have the money to bring in another player I would want, and we don’t have a ton of bodies. So I’m torn on whether to let him go or not. We could always kick transfers down the road until January, or really start the revolution heading into year-two, like at Sao Paulo I have overhauled the backroom staff. Here’s what it looked like on day one: Now the departments are full. Our coaches: Get used to our assistant manager, Juan Carlos Carcedo. I’ll be hoping to bring him around Europe with me when our adventure moves on (unless he goes running back to his friend Unai Emery). And our scouting staff (I’m also hoping to bring a ton of these guys with me in the future): We’ve been drawn into a fairly easy Champions League group. United obviously offer some resistance, but I wouldn’t want it any other way in my first venture into Europe’s elite. I’m re-training De Ligt as our halfback of the future. He will certainly be one of the world’s best ballplaying defenders, but his attributes are very, very tasty for that Busquets/Guardiola role. I guess it depends on which star name we can bring in at either position.
  6. That should be part of the beauty of it all! Certainly intensifies the stakes of the save. Wow indeed. Me either. And me too! Unfortunately not. I was loving my time in Brazil, too. But this ratchets things up.
  7. August 2019 Update — Sao Paulo/Real Madrid So, umm, this is interesting, hey? Who’d have thunk it? I turned down the Lyon job, I toyed with the idea of rebuilding a fallen Parma side — a team who had turned me down a year prior. Now, I’m rocking up at the Bernabeu, home of, arguably, the biggest club in world football. Umm, what? Yeah, I’m a little puzzled too. We over-performed with Barca “B”, we over-performed with Sao Paulo, ending their title drought and playing truly beautiful football. But that doesn’t scream of the kind of candidate Madrid would be interested in. Profile Madrid is a five-star job. Francisco is, almost, a three-star coach. In reality, this job opened up so late in the hire/fire period, I don’t think there was anyone available — a 63-yead-old Russian boss, currently managing Watford, was the favorite before I was offered the job. The yarn I spun above makes some sense, I guess. Florentino is bonkers. The Offer It’s three-years. Perfect -- if we’re not fired. I’ll be radically transforming the football identity of the squad; tackling Cruffyism in Barcelona with post-Cruffyfism in Madrid. It’s almost poetic. The expectations: Win everything. Always. Gulp. Leaving Sao Paulo Genuinely not an easy decision. I had planned to spend three-years at each club, transforming the playing/team philosophy along the way. that was happening with Sao Paulo. We had a real chance to win back-to-back titles and the football was truly superb. We left the side on with a run of three wins, two of which saw us score more than two goals. Stunner. And so it hurts to say goodbye to this brilliant squad: But this is Real. Like, Real. I’d be bonkers to turn it down. It’s a fun challenge given the context of this save — I’m not just plugging superstars into a tactic I know works. That kind of save bores me. I have to squeeze round pegs into a Guardiola shaped hole, until I use the considerable resources to build the squad necessary to play our style. And there’s the Barca angle. That’s just delicious. It’s Barcelona’s football being played against them. It’s Francisco Lapello, the former Barca “B” boss, a Catalonian, strolling into the Nou Camp as the head coach of Los Blancos. This is gonna be fun. I exit Brazil among Sao Paulo’s favoured personnel, with a title in the bag, and a new stadium on the way. Adeus e obrigado. Onto Madrid And so here we are. There are virtually no members of the senior staff left, which is great fun. I’m hoping to build out a top-tier staff that would be happy to bounce around Europe with us post-Madrid. Fair to say pretty good? Just the 12 European Cup titles. 34 League titles — the reigning holders. The Squad Simply ludicrous. The frontline alone is lough-out-loud funny in its stackedness: Ronaldo, Bale, Dybala, Firmino, Benzema, Assensio. Of course, the side is an ageing one. Modric, Ronaldo, Benzema and Ramos are all the wrong side of thirty. All have been lynchpins of Madrid’s dynastic European run. Fortunately, pieces are in place for our style. There are few players better suited to that pesky false 9 role than either Dybala or Firmino. And the likes of Matthijs De Ligt, Raphael Varane, Kingsley Coman, and Marco Asensio are the top young talents in the world. So the squad needs a few tweaks, but clearly nothing major Just look at that. We’ll run the Quick Transition system to start with. We need wins, and the first game — the two-legged Spanish Super Cup — is in six days. The style fits these players, while not departing from my overall style or philosophy much. Dybala A superstar of the highest order. Likely the best player at the club, given Ronaldo’s advanced age (I CANT BELIEVE I JUST TYPED THAT SENTENCE!) Ronaldo Still a beast. I don’t know if I’ve ever managed him in FM. Bobby Firmino Spoilt for choice in the false 9 role. De Ligt One of the top wonderkids around. He’ll be the star of our defence as we work Ramos out of the team and squad. Club Overview Legends on top of legends on top of icons on top of icons. As always, I’m hoping to bring some of those guys back as staff members, to get that club DNA rolling. A reminder of the objectives for those who don’t want to scroll back to the first post. The ideological: “Implant a defined playing model” — a pass and move system from the branches of Cruyffism/Guardiolaism “Develop a team spirit” — dynamics, baby! “Establish a clear identity” — play great football, rebuild the academy, play homegrown players “Establish a unique language in the academy” — load up the academy with future star prospects “Win trophies” — win the top league titles across Europe and win as money European cups as possible. And so in style. The game: Win each of Europe’s top five leagues — We’re here now, so we have a chance. Win back-to-back European Cups — Madrid offers us as good a chance as any. Manage Liverpool — Madrid opens the door to any and all top jobs. Manage Barcelona — Except this one. Probably time to say goodbye to that dream. Manage in South America — Tick this one off. And it was so much fun. The setup is a little barmy. But it’s unique, and that’s fun. I now love Sao Paulo; who knew. It’s one of those situations where the team doesn’t register on your radar and now you have a real-life affection for them. Win an international tournament —TBD. Achieve icon status at a club (it seems impossible to reach legend status, even if you win 7 leagues titles and three European cups in eight years — not that I’m bitter or anything) — Ooooo we had to be close with Sao Paulo. I think back-to-back titles would have secured it. Play beautiful football — Tick. Let’s get started. Halal!
  8. In a stunning development, Real Madrid are set to name Sao Paulo manager, and former Barcelona “B” boss, Francisco Lapello as the replacement to Zinedine Zidane, sources with knowledge of the situation confirmed to AS. Lapello met with Florentino Perez and other members of the clubs hierarchy late on Tuesday evening, with two sides thrashing out the terms of the deal. The Spaniard’s name was on the club’s initial shortlist to replace the Juventus bound Zidane, with the likes of Chelsea’s Antonio Conte, Paris Saint-Germain’s Arsene Wenger, and Germany’s Joachim Low leading the way. Sources confirmed to AS that all of the above rebuffed Perez’s overtures. The top candidates are said to have been “uneasy” with the prospect of taking the job just a week before the Spanish season starts. Lapello’s quick rise, first with the Barcelona youth team, and now in Brazil, has seen him linked to a number of high-profile jobs this summer, including Bayern Munich, Juventus, Napoli, and Tottenham. The young manager blew away Perez and company with a detailed presentation outlining his playing philosophy, recruitment style, and the changes he would make to the clubs, per team sources. “Like with Zidane, Florentino wants to catch a young manager on the rise, rather than throw money at the biggest name,” a source with knowledge of the situation said. Other sources adamantly deny this. “All the previous lovers — Mourinho, Carlo, Benitez — turned him down. He had to go for an unknown.” Since Zidane’s departure, the club has undergone a tumultuous time, attempting to mask perceived weaknesses with the mega-money signing of Paulo Dybala. “Things have been a mess”, a source who requested anonymity said. “No one knew Zidane wanted to leave. There are, literally, hundreds of unfilled jobs at the club, from sporting director down to ticketing staff. And then there was the head coach! Big name signings and the holdover of winning the league title mask some of that, but much of the playing staff has been unhappy, and under-coached.” Lapello is set to arrive in Madrid today to pen to paper on his new deal. A press conference is arranged for Monday.
  9. July 2019 Update — Sao Paulo A terrible month, with just a pair of wins staving off an otherwise disaster. Schedule The month started perfectly. Our win over Corinthians was my best in my time with Sao Paulo. We dominated one of the best teams in the nation from start to finish. In the first half alone, we racked up 71% possession and created a couple of chances — Carneiro burying one. The second half was much of the same. There was a subtle dip in the possession numbers, but we remained in clear control. And we racked up even more chances, finishing with a comfortable two-nil win. It was downwards from there. A bunch of draws were compounded by the pair of defeats, away to a poor Ponte Preta side and home to Internacional. Most infuriating of all was the series of draws. Each was different. Either we owned the game, were not clinical enough and then were hit on the brake when the opposition created one or two chances. Or we created nothing. Or we routinely fluffed our lines — missing chance after chance. We failed to score in three games. We never scored more than twice. I just can’t get that false 9 position to play to the standard I need. League Table Still: We’re top of the league. Seven draws doesn’t look great. It’s clear to me that Palmeiras are currently the top side in the league, with little separating ourselves and Internacional. Squad List: Notes: Our dynamics have suffered. Every single player who isn’t playing every single game — in the first team or reserves — is moaning, constantly. They want loan moves; they want transfers; they want playing time; and they want no new signings. The foreign transfer came and went. We whiffed on some mega deals I had lined up. We just couldn’t get them over the line. One that I was particularly excited about was Carles Alena, former Barcelona “B” stud: We were, however, able to wrap-up a deal for Gabriel, another ball playing central defender. He gives us a different option, and someone who’s already a natural at the role. The Managerial Merry-Go-Round What an enthralling, interesting, bizarre, flashy managerial hiring season. The current comings and going: Jupp Heynckes — Bayern Munich— Retired Diego Simeone — Atletico Madrid to Bayern Munich Massimiliano Allegri — Juventus to Atletico Madrid Zinedine Zidane — Real Madrid to Juventus In that sequence alone, four of the biggest jobs in world football opened up. I applied for all of them, and got job interviews, which is an encouraging sign for a no-name plying his trade in Brazil. There was another fun sequence: Mauricio Pochettino — Tottenham — Sacked Carlo Ancelotti — Napoli to Spurs Jorge Jesus — Sporting Lisbon to Napoli Paulo Sousa — Unemployed to Sporting Lisbon I applied for each of those gigs, bar the Sporting one. I feel, given the other interviews, I’d have had a good shot at landing it (It’s not like Sousa is blowing anyone away). For whatever reason, the job just didn’t appeal to me. I didn’t get that exciting feeling in stomach; I’d have just been moving for movings sake.
  10. I passed on the Lyon job. I agree with the points above: A good club, winnable league (perhaps not the title -- but second is in play), with stacks of young talent. However, it just didn't feel right. My return to Europe will likely come soonish, but that just wasn't the right job. I thought about that Anderlecht gig, too. It's another one with a bunch of good points. But I'm just not feeling moving to the Belgian league now when my side is settled and the Brazilian league is fun.
  11. June 2019 Update — Sao Paulo An enlightening, frustrating month. We didn’t lose a game. We also drew four. Schedule Creating chances hasn’t been a problem. And as you can see, we only conceded three goals in eight games. Our biggest issue has been fire-power from the wide spots. Rodyrgo has spent much of the month on international duty or injured. When he was back, Moses Simon swaggered off to represent his country. The false 9 spot remains an issue. Carneiro has no-doubt been an improvement, but he’s far from the finished product. League Table We’ve opened up a decent four-point leads, unbeaten heading into July. A lot of tough games litter next month, after a fairly straightforward June. Squad List Notes: When Sebastian Perez and Anderson Martins are healthy, our defence is close to impenetrable. Perez has been awesome. He carries the ball out of the back confidently, striding forward and breaking the first line of defence. Lincoln, Marcal and Copete have carried us in the final third this past month. I turned down the Lyon job. It was an interesting one and had some appeal, but I just didn’t get that feeling that made me want to jump at it. I’m enjoying the Brazilian adventure too much. If the right Euro chance comes up, I’ll move. But Lyon didn’t give me that tingly feeling. Lyon went with Phillip Cocu instead, who's been dominating Holland with PSV. That kind of shows where our reputation is at in Europe. I had one of those delightful moments where you forget you penned a player to a pre-contract agreement. Welcome, Allan: I love how diverse tactics in Brazil are. Just look at this beautiful monstrosity: Who starts out with that as their ideology?!?!?! It’s the best!
  12. Around the World — 2018/19 Season May is here, and while the Brazilian league is just kicking into top-gear, the European calendar has wrapped-up. Let’s take a look at how things have gone. Premier League Pep’s first Premier League title, clinching the thing via goals scored. That adds even more points to Guardiola’s HOF point total: There’s a long way to go! Also: Pochettino is out at Spurs. La Liga Another Title for Real Madrid; another disappointing year for Barca… in the league. Ligue 1 100 points for PSG. It’s not even competitive. That Lyon job is open, though. Bundesliga A hotly contested title race in Germany. Bayern still claimed the title, but it went down to the final day of the season. Serie A A fairly comfortable win for Juve, another second place finish for Napoli. That Lazio job looks a little tasty. Russian First Division Portuguese First Division UEFA Champions League Back-to-back Champions League championships for Barcelona: Unai Emery beating his former club in the final. Poor Arsenal, lost the final in extra time, lost the title to goals scored. UEFA Europa League It’s not the European cup win Juventus wants, but it’s a European cup win nonetheless. Job Openings
  13. May 2019 Update — Sao Paulo An excellent month. Schedule It kicked off with a comprehensive win on the road in the Copa Libertadores, advancing us to the knockout phase of the competition. Our league form has been superb. Three wins out of three, putting us top of the league: We haven’t faced a top-top side yet to see where we stack up, but I’m delighted with how the team is playing. Elsewhere, we crashed out of the Brazilian National (FA) Cup, falling to Internacional over two legs. Squad List We’ve got a settled side right now — Rdyrgo being away on international duty the only player missing. With Carneiro back, he’s become the starting false 9, performing at a higher level than Araujo. Shaylon, Everton, Souza, Cipriano, and Araujo gives us lots of fire-power off the bench. Notes: Let’s wrap-up the State Championship with all our delightful awards: Team of the Year (Only two players!) Best Player Copete has continued his extraordinary form from last season. Somehow, he was the best player, but didn’t make the Best Team. Highest Average Rating A stunning run of games from Lincoln. Young Player of the Year Militao has taken that right wingback role and made it his own.
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