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Koetzer last won the day on October 4 2018

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156 "Just keep swimming"


About Koetzer

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    Russia Assistant Researcher

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  1. Season 2025/26 – part 1 Conceding on the last minute against Airbus UK was actually a lot more disappointing than another loss to TNS. On the deadline day I loaned two English players – right-back Brandon Kemp and central midfielder Rod Maguire, hopefully they will help us to do better against these local giants. Kevin Deakin had an incredible month, scoring ten times in six games! A backup striker Hillman’s achievement is also notable – scoring five even against a lower league team isn’t something you see every day. However the team performance wasn't flawless, we dropped points at home against Barry and Connah’s Quay, and that left us only on 3rd place so far. Another unexpected loss. It seems like despite improving the squad we are not anywhere closer to TNS, and even reaching 2nd place won’t be easy. Finally we climbed to second place after getting revenge over Barry, but TNS are already 14 points ahead. And our best left-back Russell-Edwards broke his leg and is out for the rest of season I clearly overestimated the ability of our backup squad, and we almost were knocked out from the cup by a lower league side. Also, as we can sign free agents outside transfer window, I found a new left back – Ben Williams who was released by TNS in summer and still didn’t find a new club. One draw in twenty games, I have no idea what can stop them. We can only hope for some sort of miracle in the cup (of course if we don't lose before meeting them )
  2. Yes, it was in our first game against them. At least I can hope that their manager will be offered a job somewhere else Pre-season 2025/26 Predicted to repeat our last season result, so far we can only dream of the title. Youth intake Pritchard is really promising, but these physical attributes… Transfers Burton joins us on a permanent basis after half a season on loan, and also I extended Gavin Jones’ deal for one more year. Joe Lewis – former Swansea player with 10 games in Championship. Can’t say that we needed another center-back, but he’s really good for our level. Diarmuid Lavery – good old friend from Knockbreda. I hope he will help us here, especially as I’m playing with the same formation. John McEvoy – we needed a better defensive midfielder, and this former West Ham player was the best option. Goalkeeper Hartland, midfielder Morris and striker Hillman were all signed as future prospects, and what’s amazing – despite being raised in English clubs they all were ready to play here for free! And European football ended very quickly Had some chances to score, but Hungarians were too strong for us.
  3. Season 2024/25 – part 2 Like in Northern Ireland, the league here splits into two groups of six teams. With ten games to go we’ll try to keep our six points advantage over 3rd place. And we managed to reach the League Cup final, but once again had no chances against TNS. TNS also poached our best player Johnson… well, that should have happened at some point and at least we got a compensation. I signed two players to the midfield – Dean Hewitt on free transfer and Gavin Jones on loan, and also made an improvement in goal loaning Anthony Burton. The game against Llanelli (3rd in the table) was probably the most important at this stage of season. They scored first but soon had a player sent off, and we could use this advantage after the half time. I also changed the team formation to narrow 4-1-3-2 (actually the same I played in Knockbreda) and most likely will keep it in future games. With three games to go we secured second place which means a Conference League spot. Also I arranged a friendly with a random lower reputation club not understanding that it was the mighty It could be a draw-only month, but we conceded from TNS in stoppage time. A good debut year in Bala, we will get European football next season though overtaking TNS can take a lot of time (especially considering their professional status). Squad stats That interesting, only two our starting strikers and their backup Esney reached the average rating of 7.
  4. Season 2024/25 – part 1 We are good in creating chances but sometimes much worse in using them. Had 12 (!) clear cut chances against Haverfordwest but only managed to get a narrow win, and in the next game Barry scored with the only shot on target. I never played with three center-backs in FM20 but this squad leaves no other choices, so I’m trying to make this formation more balanced and effective, with mixed outcome so far. At least our pair of strikers have a good understanding between each other and already scored 15 goals together. It seems like I found a good counter-attacking option. We didn’t have many chances against Bangor City and TNS, but used them perfectly. And of course, that win over the “Welsh PSG” in my first game against them, and especially scoring three (a penalty and two free kicks from Johnson) wasn’t expected at all! After these results we finished the month as joint leaders (though TNS have two games in hand and most likely will win both). Our second game against TNS was not so successful However, we won all other matches and retained second place. So far it’s the best position we can hope for. Seriously, the first cup round for us with a lot of lower league teams still in play, and we got TNS So, keeping the second place should be our main goal for the rest of the season. And it seems quite realistic. In other news, Crusaders sold Gareth Lecky to Milan (for 27k euros, what a shame) and he already played 15 games for their first team!
  5. Wales, though my reputation is already high enough to attract offers from teams like Lens and Lokomotiv Moscow. But I'm going to complete lowest rated leagues first Pre-season 2024/25 There were no available jobs in Wales immediately, so I had to wait until the end of June when the contracts expired. Meanwhile Crusaders hired Danny Lennon who spent his entire playing and coaching career in Scotland, and Betis won the Conference League so we only lost to the eventual winners. So, four jobs became available. They all are semi-pro (the only professional club there is TNS), and Bala had the best prediction (4th place) so that was my choice. The squad is quite young and promising. The best player is central midfielder Matt Johnson, but he’s out of contract and wants to play on a higher level. Defenders Rassel-Edwards, Thomas and striker Evans are other local stars. I signed three youngsters who were released from English clubs and can immediately play in the first team here – striker Deakin, center-back Rees and wing-back (potentially) Fischer, and also loaned central midfielder Newsome from Linfield. And so we are ready to start. Also I noticed one interesting appointment – the legend is back to Arsenal… oh wait
  6. Season 2023/24 – part 2 This late comeback against Larne marked the start of their decline, by the end of January they were twelve points behind us! And the Antrim Shield final was quite one-sided, bringing us the second trophy of the season. Three to go, let’s see if we could win them all. February featured three meetings with my former team in three different tournaments, and the last one brought us another trophy, thanks to Paul Smyth who already scored over 30 goals during this season! That number also included his goal against Betis that gave us the lead for half an hour before they equalized and later destroyed us in Spain. Still it was a remarkable campaign. A boring draw against Larne mathematically secured our league title, the fourth trophy of the season. Only two cup games stand between us and a perfect domestic year. An easy win in the cup semi-final, and we are going to face Glentoran in my last game as a Crusaders manager. Glentoran immediately injured our right winger Walker, but his substitute Ross Clarke eventually assisted Smyth for the only goal in this game. So, we made the quintuple winning all the domestic trophies, what a way to finish my Northern Irish adventures! Paul Smyth has won the best player and best goalscorer (with 21 goals) awards, and Keith Lavery became the best youngster (with Walker and Urban completed the top three). The manager award went to Colm Kearney, and that’s fair – despite losing to Linfield in European playoffs, Knockbreda’s 4th place is a great overachievement. Squad stats Fans selected Walker as the best player, though my choice is clear – Paul Smyth was really incredible with 34 goals, including some very important ones. On course to Wales now! Finland is also added as the next lowest rated playable league.
  7. Season 2023/24 – part 1 An earlier start with European football. We headed to Hungary first and confidently won an away game, but became too complacent at home allowing them to equalize on aggregate. However, we scored two more goals and advanced to face BATE. Started with an away game again and conceded on 1st minute, but managed to return home with a win. After defeating BATE and Maribor we faced Kobenhavn in the final qualifying stage. And actually I can’t say that they were unbeatable, we had enough chances to score (especially in Denmark, after their player was sent off with 20 minutes to go) but couldn’t take them. So, it’s only Europa League group for us with Tottenham, Real Sociedad and Dynamo Kyiv. I think, third place can be achieved there. That was a good start in the group despite the result. We managed to equalize from 0-2, but a defensive mistake allowed Bergwijn to score the winning goal. And the schedule is going to be tough, as after a European game on Thursday we played in the league on Saturday and that will repeat several times in future (don’t know if it’s FMT special issue or fixture moving simply doesn’t exist in Northern Ireland as no one here could expect a team advancing so far in Europe ) Despite losing our best center-back Lavery for 3 months we secured a very important away win over Dynamo! That gives us a good chance to finish third and continue the season in Conference League. Overtaking Real Sociedad was also possible as we were close even to win this game… but conceded twice in stoppage time Paul Smyth’s quick double against his former club finally made us top of the league. We are also still in contention for minor local cups (even though most of their fixtures overlap with international breaks and we had to play with very experimental lineups) and won the first trophy this season against Irish champions Dundalk (never heard about this cup before but nice to get it)! Speaking of Europa League, we now certainly won’t be in top two but will finish third if get at least a point against Dynamo at home. Actually even 0-1 loss would have left us third in the group but we managed to equalize after conceding from Aubameyang (he’s 34 and much slower now but still a star comparing to our level), so there was no need to count tiebreakers. We will continue the season in Conference League, playing against Betis in the first round. Not the best draw of course, but we played quite decently against another Spanish team so will try our best there. With all extra games in Europe we are not as dominant in the league as last season, but still at the top with only Larne keeping our pace. Knockbreda finished the year on 4th place, my former assistant Colm Kearney surely deserves the credit
  8. Pre-season 2023/24 No surprises in these odds, I even expected them to be shorter after previous season. Youth intake Not really a golden generation, I’d say. Goalkeeper Anderson looks the most promising player, and striker Keogh is the best right now. Transfers Urban doesn’t need extra introduction, and we also loaned Steele for one more season. Nicky Finch – Arsenal prospect will be our first choice in goal. Dominic Revan – I signed him during previous season and now think that I overpaid, because… Eoin Toal – an almost equal alternative with a lot lower wage. Well, anyway we will need more depth playing in Europe. Oli Walker – an improvement for our wings, loaned from Chelsea. Paul Smyth – a player with EPL experience (even if it’s only 15 games for QPR in 2020/21 with average rating 6.41) was a real star for Larne in last two seasons before leaving on free transfer.
  9. Season 2022/23 – part 2 Really disappointed to lose the Antrim Shield final, especially because we dominated the game as much as the previous one that we won 5-0! But this time we couldn’t take our chances and they got two lucky shots. Speaking of the league, our win streak reached fourteen games! Now I’ll pay more attention to the main cup, obviously want to win the double this year. Two goalless draws didn’t influence our position much, the title should be a matter of a few next games. Also we reached the cup quarter-final and will play Larne here. The youth intake preview promised us a golden generation, will be quite interesting if I decide to stay here for one more season. Rene Urban’s free kick sent us to the cup semi-final against Linfield, a good chance to get revenge for the Antrim Shield game. And a few days later we were officially crowned as champions after defeating Ballinamallard with six games to go. So, the double is my goal now, and maybe also reaching 100 points and 100 goals in the league (we have 88 and 92 currently). Despite losing second game in the league we reached both 100 points and 100 goals marks. And what’s more important, Urban scored another winning goal and brought us to the cup final! With 10th placed Newry City as our opposition, that’s a great chance for the double. Glad to see Knockbreda finishing clear from relegation. Ballinamallard finish run is also worth noticing, they were about 10 points behind Portadown once but overtook them and eventually avoided relegation in playoffs! We actually secured the result with first two shots on goal. Another trophy is ours! Squad stats Five players managed to score 10 or more goals, that’s really a good teamwork. And it’s interesting that Jamie McGonigle, who wasn’t in my provisional starting 11 before the season, became our best goalscorer playing mostly on the left wing (he was our first choice on penalties though). Rene Urban was truly the best player both in our squad and whole league, collected a bunch of individual prizes, and I’m very happy that I could sign him on a full contract from next season! Now I can leave Northern Ireland for the next country (Wales is currently lowest rated from available leagues), but I want to stay for one more season and see how this Crusaders squad will do in Europe.
  10. These are my current staff. Scouts are quite good, especially when finding local talents (like Adair in Knockbreda or Lecky here). Can't say much about foreign findings as we are restricted to only UK so far.
  11. Good luck with Knockbreda. Try to give Wardlow more attacking freedom, he has a hidden goalscorer talent (at least had it in my career )
  12. Season 2022/23 – part 1 A perfect start! We travelled to Linfield on the opening matchday, and that obviously was a special game for the club (as they left Crusaders without European football this season). The only goal came from a corner, and actually set pieces played a big role in our success this month (it’s not a very usual thing when a center-back is your best goalscorer so far ) Dropped first points against defending champions, but avoided a loss after a great long shot from Rene Urban. Jack Quinn finally scored his first goal for us in the next game, and this goal brought us three points and a clear first place in the table! September also featured that incredible game (who could expect Linfield giving away a five-goal advantage against the last placed team?) I could expect this after such a strong start, Ballymena simply scored with every chance they had. However, it was just a single failure and not a sign of incoming crisis, after two games against Glentoran in secondary cups (played mostly with a backup squad) we got two confident wins in the league, including my first visit to Breda Park since leaving them in summer. 37 (17) – 4 (2) on shots, and we only managed to save a draw against the 12th placed team. Later we reached the Antrim Shield final, scoring two goals in extra time while being reduced to ten players! Also Kyle Steele got his first senior cap for Northern Ireland 8 games in 21 days after almost a month of rest, this scheduling is insane. However, due to AI teams being extremely poor in squad management it became our big advantage, and we recorded a perfect month which included destroying Linfield 6-1 and a comeback from 0-2 in a derby against Cliftonville. And that winning streak let us finish the year with 13 points advantage! Hope we’ll keep this form till the end. Knockbreda faced relegation battle after my departure, but so far keeps going above the dangerous places.
  13. Pre-season 2022/23 Predicted third and expected to be title challengers. Our squad lacked quality in defense, so improving it was the main goal of transfer window (and of course, I tried to sign Dale Adair first but he chose Glentoran). And after all signings we had a completely new starting back four: Steele – Wayborn – Lavery – Lecky (he didn’t have a right-back position, but these attributes are really good so I’m retraining him now). Other signings included Croatian defensive midfielder Plum, who spent three previous seasons in Glentoran and Linfield, loaned attacking midfielder Urban (looking really great at this level!) and striker Quinn from Arsenal academy (unfortunately he suffered an injury in training and won’t be available in first league games).
  14. A new job! I kept track of Crusaders whose manager Paul Millar had an expiring contract and left in the end of May, and a few days later they approached me. Quite ironically, I played my last game as Knockbreda manager on their stadium The club is professional (one of three in Northern Ireland, together with Linfield and Larne) and has 3.5 million euros in the bank (thanks to the last European campaign when they reached Conference League group stage)! The squad quality is also a huge step forward comparing to Knockbreda. Even though the highest rated player, striker Neil Blake, already agreed to join Norwich, there are still a lot of quality footballers (like winger Ross Clarke and central midfielder Rory Hale) and promising youngsters (Barry McMullan is the best so far). And before leaving Knockbreda I made a farewell gift, signing a center-back from... Manchester United! Joe Graham looks great and obviously would have become a starter in Crusaders, but I decided to help my former team to keep going strong
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