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EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP 2016 - FRANCE

Quarter-Finals

Bosnia vs. Belgium

Paris Community Arena, Paris: Bosnia had been an offensive force going into this match, led by Edin Dzeko’s 6 goals, but they were stopped short by an impressive Belgian side that had conceded only three goals. They controlled the match, and kept Bosnia’s strikers under control, winning the game 1-0 and advancing to the Semi-Finals. Bosnia’s head coach, the 61 year Safet Susic, was hailed for the progress his small nation had made, and for the style of football they displayed in the tournament.

Belgium: 1 (Lukaku) – Yoni Buyens, Standard Leige (1 Assist, 8.4)

Bosnia: 0

Spain vs. France

Stade de Lumieres, Lyon: This was the match of the Quarter-Finals, as two of Europe’s heavyweights went toe to toe. The two time defending champions were able to come out on top against the hosts, beating them 3-1, with Fernando Llorente scoring a brace that took his tally to 7 goals in the competition, just one goal off of France’s Michele Platini’s 8 goals. In truth, it was a very even match, but Spain took their chances while France had to wait until the 84th minute to finally score a consolation goal. Spain advanced to the Semi-Finals for the third straight time.

Spain: 3 (Llorente (2), Mata) – Santi Cazorla, Arsenal (2 Assists, 8.8)

France: 1 (Bocaly)

Russia vs. Portugal

Stade de France, Paris: A match that could possibly be the contender for most boring game of the tournament, there was very little happening from beginning to end. The Portuguese again looked uninspired and unimpressive, but this time, they were not gifted anything – the Russians scored in the 74th minute and never looked back, beating their opponents 1-0. Although the match itself was dire, nothing could be taken away from the Russians’ achievement, who made the Semi-Finals for the first time as the country of Russia (and not the Soviet Union.)

Russia: 1 (Berezutskiy) – Vasily Berezutskiy, CSKA Moscow (1 Goal, 8.4)

Portugal: 0

Wales vs. Italy

Stade de le Borne de l’Espoir, Villeneuve-d’Ascq: One of the biggest upsets in the history of the competition, Wales were able to hold the Italians to a goalless draw and finally won the game on penalties, advancing to the Semi-Finals in glorious fashion. The Italians dominated the match, and Wales did not have single shot on goal to threaten Italian GK Salvatore Sirigu, but at the other end, their defense held strong and kept the Italian offense at bay. Wales, who are coached by former Chelsea manager Tony Pulis, are ranked 40th in the world, but that meant nothing as they advanced to the next stage for the first time in their history.

Wales: 0 – Won on Penalties 6-5 – Adam Matthews, Villareal (7.8)

Italy: 0

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EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP 2016 - FRANCE

Semi-Finals

Wales vs. Belgium

Stade de Lumieres, Lyon: Since losing their first match of the tournament against England, Wales had recorded upset after upset. Manager Tony Pulis had done a sensational job of leading the small nation to their first ever Semi-Finals appearance, and Inter Milan midfielder Jack Collison (6 Aps, 1 Goal, 3 Assists, 3 MotM, 7.90) was having a brilliant tournament. Belgium, managed by Jose Riga, had won all their matches save for a tie against the Czech Republic, and although they had no stand out performers, they were led by the likes of Marouane Fellaini, Eden Hazard, and Rumelo Lukaku, their leading goalscorer. In typical Wales fashion, this match had more drama and excitement than can be recorded, with plenty of chances on goal and a late game equalizer by the Welsh that sent the game into extra-time. Alas, Belgium were simply the stronger team, and Lukaku scored his 3rd goal of the tournament in the first extra-time, giving Belgium the victory and sending the team to their second ever European Championship Finals in their history – their first was in 1980, where they lost to the West Germans in Italy.

Belgium: 3 (Nyatanga O.G., Mirallas, Lukaku) – Rumelo Lukaku, Chelsea (1 Goal, 1 Assist, 8.3)

Wales: 2 (Church, Evans)

Spain vs. Russia

Paris Community Arena, Paris: The Spanish team had lost or drawn a single game since the tournament began, and despite conceding an astounding 9 goals, they had scored 16 goals in their 5 games. Their defense was disappointing, but Fernando Llorente was simply a beast upfront for them, scoring 7 goals. Russia, who many expected to do well during the tournament, rose beyond everyone’s expectation and, conceding in only one game against Switzerland. The match was a very tight affair, but Spain was clearly the better team, and for the first time in the competition, the defending champions did not concede a goal. They only scored one goal, but it was enough to get them through to a record third straight Finals against Belgium. No other team in the history of the competition had ever three straight Finals, and Spain was looking to become the first nation to not only win the competition three times in a row, but also the first nation to win it four times total.

Spain: 1 (Jose Angel) – Jose Angel, Sevilla (1 Goal, 8.2)

Russia: 0

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Fairly surprising semi lineup.

Looking at the young talent at Belgium and Russia's disposal, I figured they had a good chance to advance to the latter stages. Wales, however, was the shocker! They truly deserved it, though, and Jack Collison just became one of the most sought after players in the world I would presume.

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EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP 2016 - FRANCE

Finals

Spain vs. Belgium

Stade de France, Paris: Spain had won all six of their matches going into the match, while Belgium were almost just as impressive, winning five of their six matches. Fernando Llorente was one goal from equaling Michele Platini’s record of 8 goals scored at the Euro 1984, and Cesc Fabregas (6 Aps, 2 Asts, 7.72), Juan Mata (6 Aps, 2 Gls, 4 Asts), and Santi Cazorla (6 Aps, 1 Goal, 3 Asts) were dominating every midfied they stepped on. For Belgium, their best performers coming into the match was Marouane Fellaini, Eden Hazard, their defensive lineup for Vincent Kompany and Dedryck Boyata, and their leading goalscorer Rumelo Lukaku. Spain were looking to win a record fourth title, as well as a third straight title, while Belgium had only been in the Finals once before, in 1980, where they lost to West Germany in Italy.

After heavy pressure in the initial stages of the match, Spanish captain Gerard Pique scored in the 19th minute, deflecting a header from a corner kick and putting the defending champions ahead. The scoreline would stay the same throughout the half, as both teams took turns taking chances at one another’s goal. It was not an especially fun half to watch, nor was there any especially good football being played.

A mediocre first half turned into an even worse second half, with both teams playing more nervy than anything. Attractive football was not to be seen in the Finals today, and it looked like Spain were going to take it – until the 94th minute and very final attack of the match. Belgium had one more chance and the referee was already preparing to blow his whistle when Rumelo Lukaku poached an incredible equalizer. The referee blew his whistle, but it was not to end the match, but instead to announce the goal – after 90 minutes of painfully slow and unimpressive football, the match as headed to extra-time in dramatic circumstances.

The two extra-times provided more entertainment in their thirty minutes than the entirety of the regulation time’s ninety minutes did. In the 108th minute, Spanish right back Sergio Ramos, once considered the finest in the world, lined up a free-kick and converted it into a goal with a phenomenally take shot, giving Spain the 2-1 lead, and inevitably, the victory. Although Belgium tried to return the favor, they could not break through the Spanish defense, and it ended with Spain lifting its record third straight, and fourth overall, European Championship title. For the second Finals in a row, captain Gerard Pique won the MotM, leading his nation to victory.

Spain: 2 (Pique, Ramos) – Gerard Pique, Barcelona (1 Goal, 7.8)

Belgium: 1 (Lukaku)

Awards

Best Player

Juan Mata7 Aps, 2 Goals, 5 Assists, 7.66: The 28 year old Juventus midfielder just beat out Jack Collison, who many thought deserved the award, but nothing can be taken away from Spain’s main man in the middle of the park. He played consistent all tournament long, and really shone in the knockout stages, leading his team and the tournament as a whole in assists. Career Stats.

Jack Collison6 Aps, 1 Goal, 3 Assists, 7.90: The leader of one the most surprising teams in the history of the competition, the 27 year old Inter Milan midfielder was undoubtedly one of the finest players at the tournament. The Welshman was the main reason his nation got as far as it did, and he won 3 MotM in six of the matches he played. Career Stats.

Golden Boot (Top Goalscorer)

Fernando Llorente7 Aps, 7 Goals, 7.67: He was only one goal off of equalizing Michele Platini’s eight goals scored in the 1984 tournament, but it was still a fantastic effort by the Spanish striker. His goals were vital in his team’s progress, and although he could not find the net in the final two games. Career Stats.

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Top Managers Quit After Euro 2016

July 10th, 2016: A day after Spain lifted the European Championship trophy for a record fourth time, their manager, Josep Guardiola, led an exodus of managers leaving their high profile posts as national team head coaches. Guardiola had previously led Spain the Finals of the World Cup 2014 before losing to Brazil, and with Barcelona prior to that, he had won numerous titles and cups. Viewed as one of the best managers of all-time, the Spaniard is the most successful manager of the century. His next destination is as of yet unknown.

Joining him were England’s Stuart Pearce, who took over in 2013 after the nation failed to qualify for the World Cup 2014 and sacked manager Carlo Ancelotti, failed to live up to the expectations set to him, getting knocked out in the Second Round of the Euro 2016 by Portugal. German head coach Matthias Sammer, who took over from Jurgen Klopp after they were knocked out of the World Cup 2014 by Chile, failed to lead his country past the Second Round of the Euro 2016, getting knocked out by Italy. Prior to his stint as German head coach, Sammer had led Dortmund to two Bundesliga titles (2002, 2014). Massimiliano Allegri quit his post as head coach of Italy after leading them to the Quarter-Finals of the Euro 2016 despite some very unimpressive performances. The former AC Milan manager, who won the Serie A title in 2011, his first year with the club, and the Europa League in 2012, took over the Italian job from the retired Marcelo Lippi in 2013, leading Italy to the Semi-Finals of the World Cup 2014. The last high profile name to quit his post was French head coach Remi Garde, who led the host nation to the Quarter-Finals of the Euro 2016 before getting knocked out by eventual champions Spain. He took over from Arsene Wenger, who retired after the World Cup 2014, having led them to the Quarter-Finals of that tournament. Prior to that, Garde served as Lyonnais head coach from 2011 till 2014, winning three consecutive French Ligue 1 titles (2012, 2013, 2014) with the team.

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2015/2016 Season Review

npower Championship: 12th Place

FA Cup: Third Round, lost to Norwich 3-0

League Cup: Second Round, lost to Reading 3-1

Season Review

After strolling through the lower leagues in my first four seasons in charge of the club, we ran into a brick wall in 2015/16, truly meeting our match. The good news is we survived without ever having really gotten into a relegation battle. We were placed in the mid-table throughout the year, never falling to the lower positions but never threatening for a play-off spot, either. Our defense was tied for best in the league, conceding only 43 goals, but we had serious issues offensively.

We went through the usual batches of good and bad form, and by January, I had realized that the squad just was not good enough upfront in terms of talent in comparison to the rest of the league. Our captain, and Bromley’s finest player ever, Elliot Law did not have a pleasant season, scoring only 5 league goals, bringing me to the painful conclusion that he simply was not good enough anymore. I tried to make a few signings, bringing in a couple of strikers on Free Transfer, and save for some late season braces, neither Emanuel Gigliotti or Nadir Bendahmane produced much in terms of goals.

As the season drew to close, I was relieved we had survived our first year in the Championship intact. I had spent our entire transfer budget, which left us in the red, but I had bought quality, especially in 17 year old defender Jesper Alberts. Our cup runs both ended prematurely to clubs that were in the Championship, but I was not too worried about that. Overall, the media had us finishing dead last, but we ended up in 12th place, and by all accounts, that should be viewed as a success.

Key Players:

Porvaldur Magnusson41 Aps, 2 Goals, 9 Assists, 4 MotM, 7.04: The 20 year midfielder was our Player of the Year for 2015/2016 and the Championship Young Player of the Year, as well. He was undeniably our most consistent performer, and even featured regularly for the English youth sides, committing his international future to his adopted home instead of Iceland. He was not the goalscoring threat that he was last season, but he was still the foundation of our team. Our most talented player, bar none.

Nikolay Nakov33 Aps, 0 Goals, 1 Assists, 1 MotM, 6.93: The 20 year old Bulgarian was arguably our best defender this campaign, although he was hampered by injuries for a good amount of the season. He was named the Championship Young Player of the Month twice early in the season, and provided stability in the back.

Ben Amos44 Aps, 40 Conceded, 19 Clean Sheets, 4 MotM, 7.06: Not only was he one of the best players on our team, but he was also ranked as one of the top GKs in the Championship. The 26 year old, despite his apparent unhappiness and desire to move to a bigger club, was a model professional, giving in one fantastic performance after the other.

Kevin Long41 Aps, 1 Goals, 0 Assists, 2 MotM, 6.96: The 25 year old Irish defender was bought for £55k in 2015, and almost immediately became our vice-captain due to his professionalism and sporting behavior. He was part the most important part of the back four that conceded a league low 43 goals, and showed remarkable improvement in his ability throughout the season.

Jesper Alberts20 Aps, 2 Goals, 0 Assists, 0 MotM, 7.11: Brought in for a Bromley record of £1 million in the January transfer window, there was little doubt about his ability – he was the team’s best player in terms of average rating in the second part of the season. He is the future of our defensive line, and will be heavily relied on next season.

Elliot Law29 Aps, 5 Goals, 4 Assists, 0 MotM, 6.81: This was our 22 year old captain’s most frustrating season of his career, scoring only 5 league goals in a year he was hampered by injuries throughout. That being said, none of the offensive unit did much, so Law has a lot of company. He did have flashes here and there, but he needs to prove he can play at this level.

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Notable Youths:

Jesper Alberts20 Aps, 2 Goals, 0 Assists, 0 MotM, 7.11: Brought in for a Bromley record of £1 million in the January transfer window, there was little doubt about his ability – he was the team’s best player in terms of average rating in the second part of the season. He is the future of our defensive line, and will be heavily relied on next season.

Matthew Morgan38 Aps, 0 Goals, 2 Assists, 0 MotM, 6.97: The 19 year old left back was a Free Transfer pickup, and became our starter by default. He performed admirably, however – so well that I decided I did not need to look for a left back in the January window. His development has been noticeable, as well, and continues to improve rapidly.

Transfers

We spent a record £1.7 million on transfers this season, with £1 million being spent on Jesper Alberts alone. Previously, I had spent £625k on Nikolay Nakov, so I broke the Bromley transfer record twice in one season! Other than that, there was a lot of free transfer pickups, and another £55k to bring in Kevin Long. Free transfer signing Lewis Jones lasted six months at the club before I sold him for £300k, turning a tidy profit on him. Lucas Correa also left for £40k, and the rest were all free transfer let gos that I had no use for.

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Team Acquisitions

April 2nd, 2016: The Aston Villa takeover was finally completed today, as London-based businessman Brendan Flood bought the club from former owner Randy Lerner. In his first press conference, Flood announced his first priority was to get the club back into sound financial footing, a tough task considering the current debt of £44.5 million still owed by the club.

April 16th, 2016: Hannover 96 were acquired by Carsten Bertram in an internal takeover today, as chairman Stefan Mertesacker announced the deal had been finalized followed by his resignation. Bertram released a statement stating that he was relishing the opportunity to develop the club and take it further. The club is currently worth £25 million, and had a loan debt yet to be repaid of £29 million. It is currently in 9th place in the German Bundesliga.

April 30th, 2016: In the third club acquisition this month, Alberto Vallefuoco bought the club of Napoli from Aurelio De Laurentiis in what was described as a takeover from within the team. The club is worth £33.5 million, but has a massive loan debt of £117 million which will surely be the first obstacle Vallefuoco will have to take care of. The new chairman said he can’t wait to begin overseeing the club, whom is currently in 10th place in the Serie A as the season draws closer to its end.

May 2nd 2016: Olga Matalobus Diaz, a wealthy businessman from eastern Spain, completed his acquisition of Valencia today, bringing to an end a prolonged period of failed sales and taking over from outgoing owner Manuel Llorente. The club, which has been struggling the past few years, saw two previous bids fall apart before Diaz successfully bought it and its massive £167 million debt. Valencia, which is currently in 9th place with two more games to go in the season, is worth almost £100 million.

May 11th, 2016: Just a few days before participating in its first ever Champions League Finals, Tottenham were acquired by London-based tycoon Thomas Jones, successfully buying the club from Daniel Levy. The club is currently in great shape, having just finished runners-up in the Premier League in addition to being the world’s most prestigious club competition’s Finals against Barcelona. The club is worth £217 million, with outstanding debt standing at £74 million.

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Could Nakov not agree terms with Celtic? You must be happy with that one.

He already did, jumping on the opportunity very quickly. There has been some major reshuffling - its been quite the preseason (report should be up soon).

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He already did, jumping on the opportunity very quickly. There has been some major reshuffling - its been quite the preseason (report should be up soon).

Was thinking you might get off on that one because Celtics/SPLs finances aren't so great in this FM, hope his replacement didn't hurt the finances too much.

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I spent my transfer budget (£700k) on Emanuel Musah - his replacement will either be someone already at the club or one of my free transfer youth signings!

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Ashley Cole – Player Profile

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Born in London on December 20th, 1980, Ashley Cole can be described as the best English left back of his generation, and possibly of all-time. He played his first competitive game for the club that brought him into football, Arsenal, during the 1998/99 season, and was awarded his first English cap in March of 2001. He went on to represent his country 121 times, scoring one goal for England in the process. He retired in June of 2016 after eighteen years as a player, with no plans to continue on in the game.

The 2000/01 season was the first that Cole really cemented himself as Arsenal’s starting left back, showing attacking prowess as well as great defensive ability. With Arsenal, he went on to win the Premier League twice (2002, 2004), and the FA Cup also three times (2002, 2003, 2005). He was also one of the club’s primary players when they advanced to their only Champions League Finals, losing out to Barcelona in 2006.

The summer of 2006 was one marked in controversy for Cole, as left his boyhood club to London rivals Chelsea in an exchange that involved William Gallas. It was at Chelsea that the left back really made himself known as one of the finest left backs on the planet, and without question the best England had. He played with Chelsea from 2006 until his retirement in 2016, winning the FA Cup a further three times (2007, 2009, 2010) and the Premier League twice (2010, 2014). Unfortunately, his second trip to the Champions League Finals ended in heartbreak as Chelsea lost to Manchester United on penalties in 2008. He was in his prime when England reached the Finals of the Euro 2012, losing to defending champions Spain, and he participated in the 2002, 2006, and 2010 World Cups with his nation as their starting left back.

Exceptionally quick with equally devastating attacking and defending skills, Ashley Cole will be remembered as perhaps the finest English left back of all time, and one of the finest in the world during his generation.

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David Villa – Player Profile

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Born in Tuilla, Spain on December 1st, 1981, David Villa began his career with local club U.P. Langreo, but was quickly sold to Sporting for an undisclosed fee. It was with Sporting, in the Liga Adelante where he displayed his goalscoring ability, and in 2003, Real Zaragoza bought him for £950,000, his first venture into the Spanish La Liga, at the age of 22.

He wasted no time getting used to one of the top leagues of the world, scoring 17 goals in 2003/04 and 15 goals in 2004/2005. He was touted as Spain’s most promising young striker, and in the summer of 2005, Valencia acquired him for £8,250,000, becoming the starting striker at one of Spain and Europe’s top clubs.

His reputation took off at Valencia, scoring a fantastic 25 goals in 2005/06 and capturing the first of his three Spanish Player of Year he managed to win during his career (2006, 2008, 2013). He spent five seasons at Valencia, highlighted by his 2008/09 and 2009/10 seasons, where he scored 28 and 21 goals, respectively. In the summer of 2010, after a fantastic performance in the 2010 World Cup, he was bought by Barcelona for £35,500,000, and he would have the opportunity to be the main striker in what has been called the greatest club side ever assembled.

At Barcelona, we would lead the club’s frontline as they capture the Spanish La Liga title five times (2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016) and the Champions League an incredible four times (2011, 2012, 2013, 2016), which included a historic run in the competition where they won it three times in a row. He captured the last of his three Spanish Player of the Year in 2013 with the club, and was also the Spanish La Liga Top Goalscorer in 2013 with 24 goals. He was voted to the La Liga Team of the Year in 2013, and was also named as a substitute in 2012. He was named in the World Team of the Year as a substitute on three occasions (2011, 2012, 2013). Although his role for the club dwindled in his final two seasons, he was still involved and managed to find himself some goals. He retired as a footballer in June 2016 at the age of 34 years old, getting his coaching badge shortly thereafter.

His performances for Spain rank him as one of the nation’s all-time top strikers, if not the best in their history. He earned 109 caps for his nation, and is Spain’s all-time goalscorer with 56 goals. He was their main striker when they won the Euro 2008 and Euro 2012, winning the Top Goalscorer award in the former. He was also their leading goalscorer in their World Cup 2010 winning squad, where he was joint Top Goalscorer with 5 goals, coming in third in the Best Player award during the tournament. He also was part of the World Cup 2014 team that reached the Finals of the tournament, losing out to Brazil.

The striker was never the biggest, fastest, or strongest player on the pitch, but he had freakish technical ability and great finishing skills. A legend for his nation, he retired an Icon for both Valencia and Barcelona. The finest Spanish striker of his generation, and possibly of all-time, he was also one of the most successful and talented strikers in the world during his generation.

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Maicon – Player Profile

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Born in Novo Hamburgo, Brazil on July 26th, 1981, Maicon began his career with Brazilian club Cruzeiro in 2001, at the age of 20. He spent three years with the four years with the club, winning the Brazilian First Division title in 2003. After developing as a defender, French club AS Monaco acquired him for £2,000,000 in 2004.

He spent two years in France with Monaco as their starting right back, before moving to Inter Milan for £4,800,000 in 2006. In the nine years he spent with the Italian club, Maicon went from promising defender to the finest right back in the world during the early 2010s – simply put, there was no one better at his position. He won the Serie A title five times (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013), and was a huge part of the squad that won the Champions League title in 2010 under then manager Jose Mourinho. In a stretch from 2010 till 2013, he was arguably the finest defender on the planet, let alone right back. He won the Serie A Defender of the Year twice (2012, 2013), the Serie A Fans Player of the Year in 2013, and was named to the Serie A Team of the Year in 2013. He was named to the World Team of the Year twice (2012, 2013). After an epic stretch of form, his star started to fade in the 2013/14, and in 2014/15, he only appeared once for Inter Milan. He ended his career with Barcelona after joining them on free transfer, winning the Spanish La Liga in 2016, ending his career on a high, and was pronounced as an Icon for Inter Milan for the nine years he served with the club.

His career with Brazil was equally as impressive as his club career – he won the World Cup 2014 with them, the Copa America twice (2004, 2007), and the Confederations Cup (2005, 2009, 2013), getting named Brazil’s Best Europe-Based Player three times (2010, 2012, 2013), and Brazil’s Olympic Committee Player of the Year twice (2012, 2013). He ended with 89 caps for his country and 6 goals.

While Cafu is widely considered the best right back in the history of Brazilian football, from 2011 till 2013, Maicon was not only the best right back in the world, but was arguably playing the best football any right back in history had ever played. In fact, there are those who suggest that his stretch in those three years were that that compared to almost any footballer on the planet. His records in the Serie A for Highest Average Rating (8.10 in 2012/13) and Most Man of the Matches (15 MotM in 2012/13) still stand, and are unlikely to be broken any time soon. There was no aspect of his game that was lacking – he was equally as comfortable going forward as he was defending, and was great at both. He retired in June 2016, and currently is accepting offers as a scout with hopes of getting into management later in his career.

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Are these retirements or new signings? Either way you forgot to mention that Cole will also go down as one of the most arrogant twats of his generation too.

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Are these retirements or new signings? Either way you forgot to mention that Cole will also go down as one of the most arrogant twats of his generation too.

LOL! These are retirements - at the end of every season, I will write up profiles on retiring superstars who have made an impact on the game. It will get interesting once newgens start retiring :)

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A few seasons of building towards the Premier League will be good for you.

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Yeah I just realised the biographies mentioned retirement!

:) Hope it helps you and other reads really immerse themselves in the world of my save.

A few seasons of building towards the Premier League will be good for you.

The Championship was a tough challenge, and after the preseason I had, the Premier League might be some ways off still.

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12th is a good start. You can certainly build from

there to make an assault on the PL

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12th is a good start. You can certainly build from

there to make an assault on the PL

Absolutely - but given the fact the board have been very stingy with transfer and wage budgets, and Ive had two of my top player sold while releasing several others to meet a DECREASED wage budget, leaving some glaring holes in my team, it definitely does not look like it will be this season.

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Absolutely - but given the fact the board have been very stingy with transfer and wage budgets, and Ive had two of my top player sold while releasing several others to meet a DECREASED wage budget, leaving some glaring holes in my team, it definitely does not look like it will be this season.

I know that feeling well!

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ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE REVIEW 2015/2016

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Overview

Footballer of the Year: Sergio Aguero, Chelsea (27 Aps, 10 Goals, 9 Assists, 7.76)

Player’s Player of the Year: Aaron Ramsey, Arsenal (36 Aps, 9 Goals, 12 Assists, 7.74)

Young Player of the Year: Vegar Eggen Hedenstad (35 Aps, 1 Goal, 13 Assists, 7.58)

Best Goalkeeper of the Year: David De Gea, Manchester United (37 Aps, 28 Conceded, 14 Clean Sheets, 7.12)

Manager of the Year: Alan Shearer (Champions)

Manchester City: Ever since Manchester City was bought by its oil rich owner from Abu Dhabi and Tottenham managed to win the 2011 Premier League, the formerly Big Four of Premier League club has become a Top Six, and in 2015/2016, the two newcomers to the upper echelon of English football where the ones that performed the best.

Alan Shearer had his first managerial role with Newcastle in 2009, where he failed to save the club from relegation after taking over in the middle of the season. In 2012, he was rehired by the club, and again he saw them relegated, but this time, he stuck around and saw them back into the Premier League, before heading off to Manchester City in 2013 to replace the Roberto Mancini. Since then, he led Man City to two consecutive 3rd Place finishes, which finally culminated in an impressive Premier League title in 2016, Man City’s first in forty-eight years.

The reason Alan Shearer is being given full credit for the title run is because he managed to find a way to motivate underachieving players and an underachieving team, turning them into one of the best clubs in the world within a short three year span. Before Shearer arrived, the club had finished 4th Place in 2012/13 and 6th Place in 2011/2012, and did not look like a team capable of challenging for the Premier League title. One of Man City’s most important players the past three years has been Carlos Tevez, and although his contribution during the 2015/2016 was substantially less than the previous two seasons, he stands as a testament to Shearer’s success. Having been frozen out by former manager Mancini for two years, he turned into one of the most impressive players, again, in the Premier League once Shearer took over.

Of course, critics will point to Shearer spending £90,000,000 in 2015/2016 on new signings as the reason he was able to lead the club to the title, as opposed to his tactical know-how, but let us put things into perspective. Hulk, who came for £31,500,000 from Chelsea, was the World Cup 2014 Best Player award winner, and is a unique talent that was seemingly being misused at his old club. While his stats do not suggest much difference in his first year with Man City, there was little doubt that his contributions to his new club were far more substantial than with Chelsea. His two other big signings, Mauricio Isla (£21,500,000) and Arturo Vidal (£14,250,000), both Chilean, played major roles in their title win and lived up to their sizable transfer fees, with the former having his best season as a professional by a large margin. Yes, there was a lot of money being spent, but it was put to good use – in other words, Shearer’s buys were all hits, and none misses, which also says much about his ability to identify players that worked as opposed to just buying the biggest name out there. In fact, so impressive was Isla’s first season with Manchester City that he was voted the clubs Player of the Year for 2015/2016.

Shearer had a foundation already laid out, one that had come close to capturing the Premier League title the previous two seasons – a centerpiece of that foundation was Edin Dzeko. The Bosnian striker was not a Shearer acquisition, but his stats before 2013 speak for themselves. He scored 21 goals in 2014/2015 and in 2015/2016, leading the club in the category during the latter. Joe Hart, England’s first choice GK, had his finest season to date in his career, conceding only 34 goals in his 36 appearances – his form between the posts provided the team with confidence knowing that their goal was safe. Vincent Kompany and Gael Clichy joined Isla in maintaining a rock solid defense, and in the midfield, Samir Nasri returned to form after injuries ravaged his 2014/2015 season. Dzeko’s frontline partner, Ezequiel Lavezzi, who was a £14,000,000 signing in 2014, contributed 14 goals of his own. Alan Shearer, predictably, won the Premier League Manager of the Year, and the three defenders mentioned above were chosen to be in the 2016 Premier League Select – Hart, Hulk, and Dzeko were chosen as substitutes. With seemingly infinite amount of money at their disposal, and a team with all of its main players still in their prime, it is tough to see how anyone can challenge them now that they’ve become the top team in the country. In addition, they have one of the brightest and most talented managers in the game today in Alan Shearer, who proved his merit by leading his team to the Premier League title and the Champions League Semi-Finals in 2016.

Arsenal: Under manager Andre Villas-Boas, Arsenal won their first Premier League title in eleven years when they captured it from Chelsea in 2015. Although they only recorded one point less in 2015/2016 than their title winning season, they just could not keep Man City beneath them, and ended up finishing Runners-Up, giving up their title to their northern rivals. Still, it was not a season that was considered a disappointment, despite having spent £68,000,000 on new players during the campaign, the most expensive of which was Uruguayan striker Abel Hernandez, who came for £21,500,000 from Serie A outfit Palermo. Although he scored 12 goals, Hernandez did not exactly light the Premier League on fire, and here laid the difference between Arsenal and Manchester City – while the latter spent more on less players, they bought players that contributed immensely to their cause. Arsenal, however, could not claim the same – in fact, they inexplicably spent £16,250,000 on Fernando, a 29 year old Brazilian midfielder who had rarely played for Marseille since they bought him three years ago from Real Sociedad. He made 10 appearances for Arsenal, and was underwhelming in nearly every one of them. The most baffling acquisition, however, was Matias Fernandez – the Chilean international was bought for £10,500,000 in 2015 after a sensational season with Sporting Lisbon, but failed to appear once for Arsenal, instead being subjected to reserve matches three cup ties. The one signing that did work out for them, however, was Craig Dawson(Stats) – the 26 year old central defender came for £8,250,000 from Sunderland (who had bought him from West Brom a year earlier), and became an immediate starter for the club. The 2015/2016 season was not Villas-Boas’ finest in the transfer market, and that was perhaps the reason they lost their title – Man City got better while Arsenal made little improvement to its squad.

Still, this was a team good enough to finish second in the toughest league in the world, and that was mainly due to the performances of young players who had made the step up and had become some of the world’s finest footballers – namely, Aaron Ramsey. Not only was the 25 year old Welsh midfielder Arsenal’s 2015/2016 Player of the Year, but he was also the 2016 English Players’ Player of the Year, as well as being selected to the 2016 Premier League Select. His season culminated with a fantastic showing by his home nation at the Euro 2016, where they advanced to the Semi-Finals, just losing out to Belgium. His performances during Arsenal’s Premier League title winning squad in 2014/2015 earned him a spot on the 2016 World Team of the Year. It is safe to say that without him, Arsenal would not be the position they were this season, nor would they have been able to capture the Premier League title in 2015. He is Arsenal’s most important player, the heart of the team. His partner in the midfield, Belgian Marouane Fellaini, compliments his teammate perfectly – while Ramsey oozes attacking talent and creativity, Fellaini is a defensive minded beast of a midfielder who averaged 3.96 Tackles per Game during the 2015/2016 season. Indeed, Arsenal’s strength lays in its midfield, as they also feature world class talents such as Marek Hamsik and Antoine Greizmann, both of whom contributed immensely to their club’s campaign. The former has been sort of an unsung hero for Arsenal the last few years, as he has delivered one fantastic season after the next. The 29 year old Czech had possibly his finest individual season in 2015/2016, scoring 7 goals and delivering a team high 15 assists. Leighton Baines remains the cornerstone of Arsenal’s back four at left back, continuing to deliver quality campaigns despite his increasing age, but it was Laurent Koscielny who was the team’s most impressive defender this season, partnering up with new signing Dawson in the center of the defense. Up front, Arsenal once again lacked a real goalscorer, as Hernandez was not so impressive in his debut season with the club. To be able to compete with Man City, they will need to get better contribution up front, and while their midfield is the best in England, and possibly the world, they will tweak and increase the talent level they have across the pitch.

Tottenham: After their surprisingly winning the Premier League in 2011 under Harry Redknapp, Tottenham shifted back to familiar territory, finishing 5th, 6th, and 4th in 2013, 2014, and 2015, respectively. During the summer of 2015, Martin Jol replaced Manuel Pellegrini, his second stint with the club, and led them to 3rd Place in the Premier League and all the way to the Champions League Finals. They had one big signing, Belgian defender Dedryk Boyata, who came for £17,500,000 from Palermo and slotted in nicely in a central defensive role. The strength of this time, however, lay in its attacking force and its support. Edison Cavani had another spectacular season, getting named Tottenham’s Player of the Year for 2015/2016 after scoring 19 goals. He was also named in the 2016 World Team of the Year, and was the second leading scorer in the Champions League, driving his team to the Finals against Barcelona. The Premier League Top Goalscorer, however, was his partner up front, Venezuelan Salomon Rondon. The 26 year old managed to score 25 goals in the Premier League for the club, shining alongside his Uruguayan teammate on his way to winning the 2015/2016 European Golden Boot for most goals scored. He also was named in the 2016 Premier League Select for his goalscoring exploits.

Of course, none of this would have been possible if Tottenham’s midfield did not provide the chances for its strikers, and the Tottenham midfield features one of the best left wingers in the world in Gareth Bale. After a historic 2011/2012 season, where he seemingly led Tottenham to the Premier League title single handedly, Bale experienced good but not great campaigns the following years. In 2015/2016, however, he achieved career highs in goals scored (14) and assists (14), as he captured that form that he him considered the best at his position during his best season. The 27 year old Welshman, who also advanced to the Semi-Finals of the Euro 2016 with his nation in the summer, was voted as Runners-Up to Sergio Aguero in the 2016 English Footballer of the Year award, and also made the 2016 Premier League Select. The club’s Player of the Year in 2013 and 2015, Luka Modric, again had the club’s highest Average Rating (7.81) – he has consistently been one of the finest midfielders in the world the past few years, and this season was no different. He was selected to the 2016 Premier League Select, his fourth selection in five years, and was also selected to the 2016 World Team of the Year, which was the second time he had been chosen for that. The 30 year old Croat has been the picture of health, rarely succumbing to injury, and he will need to stay that way if Tottenham is to compete on all fronts in the coming season. Bale and Modric found the perfect support in Sandro, who won the World Cup 2014 and the Olympics 2016 with his nation, Brazil. The 27 year old defensive midfielder allowed his more flamboyant midfield partners the space to be their creative best, anchoring the midfield and doing the dirty work. Tottenham certainly have the talent to compete for the Premier League talent, perhaps only finding a bit of a weakness in their back four, which conceded 42 goals – what they don’t lack is offensive firepower, scoring a league leading 80 goals in 2015/2016. With a bit more solidity in the back, Tottenham can and should give Manchester City a run for their title.

Manchester United: After finishing 5th Place in 2014/2015 in Martin Jol’s second year in charge, their worst finish since 1991, they sacked him and hired Manuel Pellegrini, who led them back into a Champions League spot, finishing in 4th Place. Their only big signing of the season, Lee Hodson, cost Pellegrini £17,250,000, appeared for the club 4 times, and was subsequently sold to Villareal for £9,250,000 after less than a season at the club – a horrible piece of business. What they do have, however, is Eden Hazard, who has been spectacular for his club since coming from Lille for £34,000,000 in 2013, and this season, his 7.84 AR was the highest in the Premier League. He was Manchester United’s Player of the Year for 2015/2016, and in the summer, featured in Belgium’s squad that advanced to the Finals of the Euro 2016 in France. He was selected for his second straight World Team of the Year in 2016. Playing in front of Hazard was club legend Wayne Rooney, who led the league in assists with 17. The 30 year old striker was and will never be a goalscorer in the pure sense of the word, but his contributions to his team this season and in past years cannot be underestimated or understated. Simply put, he remains the heart of the Man United’s team, and if the club has any hopes of competing for the title next year, he needs to put forth another great season. His partner, however, is a true goal poacher – Javier Hernandez won the 2015 European Golden Boot and was the 2015 Premier League Top Goalscorer. Although he scored a decent 16 goals in 2015/2016, it was some way off the 28 goals he scored the season before.

At the other of the pitch for Manchester United was the 2016 Premier League Select GK David De Gea. He was the main reason why the club conceded a league leading 28 goals in 2015/2016, and the 25 year old is now considered to be one of the top goalkeepers in the world. In front of him was Phil Jones and Chris Smallings, both of whom are England internationals, and both of whom were amongst the best defenders in the Premier League. Their form remains central to Man United’s hopes of recapturing the Premier League, and they will be hoping that the midfield, which has been wildly inconsistent the past few years, will start to put forth the type of performance that can bring back the title to Old Trafford.

Liverpool: The most disappointing team in the Premier League during 2015/2016 were Liverpool, who had finished as runners-up to Arsenal just one season before – this year, however, they fell back down to 5th place, leading to the sacking of Mauricio Pochettino at the end of the season and the hiring of Malky Mackay. Their 2016 Player of the Year was Jack Robinson (Stats) – the left back has become an England international, and was the club’s most consistent performer during the year. Their star striker, Luis Suarez, had a disappointing season by his standards, scoring only 9 goals, his lowest total since joining the club. Their £16,750,000 signing, English right back Kyle Walker, failed to leave up to his transfer fee, and will be looking to produce better performances in the upcoming season.

Chelsea: Perhaps just as disappointing as Liverpool were Chelsea, as the 2014 Premier League champions finished in 6th Place for the second season in a row, despite a new manager (Huub Stevens, who was sacked at the end of the season), and £79,000,000 being spent on new transfer signings. Their biggest signing, Youssef Mulumbo, who came for £18,500,000 from West Bromwich Albion, had a decent seasons, but more was expected after such a large transfer fee. What was worse was the £11,750,000 acquisition of Victor Moses, who failed to play a single match for Chelsea in the 2015/2016 season. The one signing that did work out was Etienne Capoue, who came from AC Milan for £12,000,000 and was one of the only midfield players that really contributed anything for the team. The club does have the 2014 and 2016 English Footballer of the Year, Sergio Aguero, who is amongst the best players on the planet. He was selected to his third Premier League Select (2013, 2014, 2016), and was also crowned the Best Player in Europe for 2015/2016. He was selected to the 2016 World Team of the Year, the second time he had been chosen, and of course was Chelsea’s Player of the Year for the third consecutive season. The two aging Chelsea legends, John Terry and Frank Lampard, who are 35 and 38 years old, respectively, continued to produce, but can no longer be relied on to submit world class performances game in and game out. Chelsea is in desperate need of upgrading its squad and replacing its aging squad – most importantly, it needs to surround Aguero with the type of quality that can bring them back into prominence.

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Overall Team of the Year

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SPANISH LA LIGA REVIEW 2015/2016

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Overview

Footballer of the Year: Alan Dzagoev, Barcelona (26 Aps, 9 Goals, 9 Assists, 7.78)

Goalkeeper of the Year: Victor Valdes, Barcelona (34 Aps, 26 Conceded, 17 Clean Sheets, 7.17)

Manager of the Year: Roberto Mancini, Barcelona (Champions)

Barcelona: The great club ever assembled continued their world dominance in 2015/2016, winning the Spanish La Liga for the 3rd time in a row (and the 7th time in eight years), as well as reclaiming the Champions League title, making it the 7th time they have won that competition (and the 6th time in 10 years). To put it in simpler terms, they were, once again, the best team in the world. The era of Barcelona started under Josep Guardiola, and has continued under Roberto Mancini, who took over in June 2013 after Guardiola left to manage the Spanish national team. Since then, Mancini has won the La Liga 3 times, and finally won the Champions League title this season.

They made one big signing this season, paying CSKA Moscow £22,000,000 for Russian midfielder Alan Dzagoev. The 26 year old was ever present for his new club all season long, and led Russia to the Semi-Finals of the Euro 2016 competition in the summer. He was so impressive during his first year in Spain he was crowned the 2016 Spanish League Player of the Year. The Barcelona Player of the Year went to the club’s big signing in 2014, however, the Iceland international Gylfi Sigurdsson. He cost them £18,250,000 from Russian side Anji in 2014, and delivered a fine season this year, getting named runner-up to his teammate in the Spanish Player of the Year and was named in the 2016 La Liga Team of the Year. With the retirement of club and football legend Xavi coming at the end the 2015/2016 season, the club know that they’re midfield is in safe hands.

The center of the Barcelona squad remains the best player in world, and potentially the greatest of all time, Lionel Messi. Injuries have hampered him in recent years, and in 2015/2016, he played his lowest number of games since becoming a starter for the club in 2006. When he did play, however, he was still at his sublime best, delivering some great performances in the league, and lifting the squad to the Champions League title with an absolutely storming performance in the Finals against Tottenham. Partnering him was Alexis Sanchez, who once again scored some of the most important goals for his side on their repeat quest of football domination. He was named to his second consecutive World Team of the Year in 2016, and was named to the 2016 La Liga Team of the Season for the third time (2012, 2013, 2016) – he made the team in 2014 and 2015 as a substitute.

The creative force behind the recent Barcelona teams has been its midfield, and this year was no difference, with Dzagoev, Sigurdsson, Cesc Fabregas, and club legend Andres Iniesta. Fabregas won the 2016 Spanish Player of the Year, and Iniesta came in as a runner-up behind him. Between them, they controlled the midfield for both their club side, and their Euro 2016 winning national side, with Spain becoming the first team to ever win three European Championships in a row, as well as the first nation to win the competition four times. Behind them was another club legend, the 29 year old club captain and the man widely considered the best defender in the world, Gerard Pique. He simply has no equal at his position, and he was named to his fourth La Liga Team of the Year (2012, 2013, 2015, 2016), as well as his fourth World Team of the Year (2012, 2013, 2015, 2016). At the very back, Spain’s finest goalkeeper Victor Valdes claimed his record ninth Spanish League Goalkeeper of the Year, which was his astounding eighth time he did so in a row.

This Barcelona team has continued to be the best team on the planet, and it does not look like anyone can stop them, not in their domestic league or on the continent. They continue to improve their team, signing one or two major players each season, and replacing aging or retiring superstars with fresh, younger versions. Roberto Mancini has continued to live up to Guardiola’s legacy, and the era of Barcelona has no end in sight.

Villareal: Never has a club in recent memory overachieved so much with so little, but Villareal again found themselves in a position they had no business being in, finishing in 2nd Place in the La Liga, ahead of number of more famous and more expensive teams. Full credit has to be given to their manager of six years, Juan Carlos Garrido – the man has continuously defied the odds and led his squad to top positions despite small stadium and a small wage budget. The fact that they almost finished top of the La Liga before a late season Barcelona surge adds more merit to the accomplishments of their manager, who is now considered one of the most talented managers in the world.

The team did not feature any superstars in the true essence of the word, nor did they have any signings of note in the 2015/2016 – they did, however, have Andrea Poli, the 26 year old Italian international. Playing in the center of the midfield, Poli delivered the finest season of his career, setting personal highs in goals (8) and assists (9). He was crowned Villareal’s Player of the Year for 2015/2016, and deservedly so. The highest profile name on the team, Giuseppe Rossi, failed to score in double figures for the first time since joining the club in 2007, in what was his weakest season in ten years. Still, the 29 year old Italian international is in the prime of his career, and remains Villareal’s primary threat up front. Their leading goalscorer this year was Korean Son Heung-Min, who scored 12 goals for his club in the league.

The captain of the squad, Spanish midfielder Bruno, again led the squad in Average Rating (7.34). Despite turning 32 years old and losing most of his pace, he remains the heart of the team. The club’s starting left back, Natxo Monreal, who joined the club for £10,500,000 in 2012, delivered a typically stellar season, the type that has earned him 16 caps with Spain.

The club’s is not known for big signings, and yet they continue to achieve success, mostly down to their manager and the team spirit he imposes on the squad. Rossi has potential to deliver spectacular seasons, and if he can get scoring again, there is no reason to assume that the team cannot grab another Champions League spot.

Real Madrid: By all accounts, 2015/2016 was a disappointing season for Real Madrid and its legendary manager, Jose Mourinho. Not only were they unable to recapture the La Liga title from bitter rivals Barcelona (as they did in 2013), but they managed to fall out of their customary top two position, slipping to 3rd Place behind a team a fraction of its size, Villareal. What was even more disturbing for Real Madrid and its fans is that this season actually represented an improvement over their 2014/2015, where they finished in 4th Place behind Atletico Madrid and Sevilla. Mourinho, who’s tenure at Real Madrid has lasted six years and counting (the longest he has served at one club in his entire career), and the credentials of the man are undeniable, having won the Champions League with three teams (Porto in 2002, Inter Milan in 2010, and Real Madrid in 2014), and has won domestic titles with four teams (Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan, and Real Madrid). But he has had the misfortune of joining the self-proclaimed biggest club in the world during the ‘Barcelona Era’, which began in 2006 and has continued till this day. He has only managed one La Liga title in his six years in Spain – a failure in the eyes of a club and its fans that expect a title every year.

In an attempt to bolster up his defense (they ended up conceded a disappointing 41 goals), Mourinho spent £15,250,000 to bring 26 year old Brazilian central defender Manoel from Roma, his only major signing of the season. Unfortunately, he had some trouble adapting to life in Madrid, and did not put forward the greatest of seasons, averaging 6.82 AR and just generally delivering inconsistent performances.

Perhaps the biggest reason for their underachievement in 2015/2016 was the fact that their star, Cristiano Ronaldo, only played in 16 league games due to several injuries over the course of the season. The 31 year old Portuguese faced his first injury-plagued season in his career, and although he was his usual best when he played, the fact that he spent more than half the season looking from the sidelines was enough to sink Real Madrid. The world’s most expensive footballer of all-time has begun to ever so slightly lose a bit of his pace, but his technical ability is still second to none, and he will once again be the club’s most important player in the upcoming seasons. For the first team in five years, he failed to win the Real Madrid Player of the Year – that award went to his Portuguese teammate, Fabio Coentrao. When he was acquired from Benfica in 2011 for £25,500,000, a lot of eyebrows were raised, but each season he has delivered since then has been better than the last, culminating with a fantastic 2015/2016 season where he was named in the 2016 World Team of the Year. He has developed into possibly the finest left back in the world, but has become equally as dangerous playing on the left wing. His development has been remarkable, and at the age of 28, he has just entered the prime of his career.

Unfortunately, the only other consistent player in the back four for Real Madrid was Sergio Ramos. He delivered another typical season as a right back, and the Spanish international remains one of the most important players on the team. There was a point in his career, during the late 2000s and the early 2010s, where he was considered one of the top right backs on the planet. He still is, to this day, a fine player, and still has several years of football at the top level, having only turned 30 years old. Behind him, as always, was and is club legend Iker Casillas, the captain of the squad. He has lost out on nearly every personal award to his rival Victor Valdes, but maintains his position as Spain’s captain and first choice goalkeeper. He had another stellar season – nothing less than that is expected from the 35 year old, and he has continued to deliver the same great product for almost twenty years now.

In the midfield, Real Madrid were softer this year than usual, with only its four starters delivering any semblance of a good season. Their backups were non-existent, leaving no room for error and injury, which as the problem for this team. Marcelo, playing mostly on the left wing, led the team in assists with 13 in the league. In the middle, Kwadwo Asamoah turned out a quality season in his fourth year with the club since coming for £16,250,000 in 2013, while Mesut Ozil delivered another solid season. Both players are 27 years old, and both have turned into one of the best central midfielders in the world. On the right wing was the ever present Angel Di Maria, who continues to shine in that role despite his frail thin appearance. Once one of them fell to injury, however, there was gaping holes wherever they used to play, something Mourinho will have to address in the upcoming season.

With Ronaldo out, the team turned to the obvious choice for goals – its most dangerous threat the past few years, Argentine Gonzalo Higuan. However, he had injury problems of his own, which left him scoring only 14 league goals in 2015/2016, his lowest tally since 2011, which was simply not good enough. Still, he is only 28 years old, and is in the prime of his career – he has scored 20+ goals five times during his career, and three of the past five years, as well. He knows how to put the goal in the net, something which will be needed from Mourinho’s side if they are to compete with Barcelona in 2016/2017. Their lack of depth remains a worry, and it will have to be another focal point of Mourinho’s improvisation strategy.

Malaga: When Qatari royal Abdullah Al-Thani acquired Malaga in 2011, he stated that he wanted to develop the club in a proper, healthy way – six years later, he is on the verge of accomplishing that mission. It was not until manager Roberto Donadoni took over, however, that improvements really started showing – in his two years with the club since joining in 2014, they have finished 5th Place and a record high 4th Place in 2015 and 2016, respectively. For the first time in their history, Malaga will compete in Champions League football, and credit has to go to Donadoni for really maximizing the potential and talent available on his team.

Over the years, the club has not spent obscene amounts of money despite the infinite wealth of their owner, instead focusing on making the club’s finances healthy and profitable. In 2015/2016, their biggest signing was Facundo Ferreyra – the 25 year old Argentine came from Shalke for £7,750,000, and immediately started scoring goals, ended with 12 goals in half a season. Needless to say, big things will be expected from the striker after the stellar start he delivered in his debut season for Malaga.

It was their other striker, Park Chu-Young who won the club’s Player of the Year, leading them in scoring. In the three years he has been at the club (he spend the 2013/14 season with Malaga on loan, and then was bought at the beginning of the 2014/15 season from Valencia for £2,700,000), he has scored 45 league goals. Although he turned 31 years old, he still remains a central figure for the club. Behind him in the midfield is Zdravko Kuzmanovic, the heart of the Malaga squad since coming for £8,750,000 in 2011 from Stuttgart. This season was no different – the 28 year old Serbian delivered 4 goals and 6 assists in helping the club to their finest ever finish in the La Liga.

Roberto Donadoni has proven his class, taking Malaga to the Champions League, where they will be hoping to continue to upset the order of things and make some progress. It is tough to see them retain their position in the top four of the La Liga with further help, however. Donadoni will have to pull off a few more successful signings to ensure they can remain competitive on the domestic front.

Atletico Madrid: After finishing Runner-Up to Barcelona in 2015, Enrique Cerezo sold the club to Lazaro Albarracin in an internal takeover in late May, 2015, but much to the dismay of the new owner, the club fell to 5th Place in 2015/2016, losing their Champions League spot to surprising Malaga. Their Player of the Year was Mexican Carlos Vela, and his striking partner, Colombian Falcao, led the team in scoring. GK Sergio Asenjo had another solid season, but manager Hector Cuper, who was hired in 2013, will go into the next season with his job on the line.

Espanyol: After sinking to a lowly 17th Place in 2014, Mauricio Pochettino was fired and Vincenzo Montella was hired in his place. Since then, the Italian has led the club to 11th Place in 2015 and 6th Place in 2016, gaining a Europa League spot this season. Their 29 year old Spanish left winger Dani Benitez was crowned their Player of the Year for the second consecutive season.

Sevilla: After three straight 3rd Place finishes, Sevilla sunk to 7th Place in 2015/2016, leading to the sacking of Carlo Ancelotti in the middle of the season and the hiring of Quique Flores. Alvaro Negredo once again delivered a good season, scoring 19 league goals, but it was left back Jose Angel who was crowned Sevilla’s Player of the Year. No doubt this squad underachieved in a big way, and Flores will be looking to lead them back into Champions League football next season.

Other Notables: Valencia finished in 10th Place, up from 15th Place in 2014/2015, mainly thanks to the stellar play of Pablo Piatti…Atletic Bilbao continued to sink, finishing 16th Place. They have progressively gotten worse since finishing in 4th Place in 2013, despite the talents of Iker Muniain and Fernando Llorente.

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Overall Team of the Year

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SERIE A REVIEW 2015/2016

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Footballer of the Year: Mauro Formica, Inter Milan

Foreign Player of the Year: Mauro Formica, Inter Milan

Italian Player of the Year: Francesco Bolzoni, Catania

Fans’ Player of the Year: Stevan Jovetic, Fiorentina

Goalkeeper of the Year: Maarten Stekelenburg, Roma

Defender of the Year: Loic Nego, Roma

Young Player of the Year: Coutinho, Inter Milan

Manager of the Year: Vodolfo Vanoli, Lecce

Inter Milan: When Inter Milan won the title in 2014/15, one could argue that Roma and Fiorentina were the better teams, but in 2015/16, there was no doubt – they defended their title successfully and left no doubt who the best team in Italy was, beating their closest opponent (Fiorentina) by nine points. Manager Nicolo Frustalupi replaced Giuseppe Baresi in December 2013, after being his assistant manager for a year and a half. It is his first managerial job, and since then, he has won the Serie A twice. Only 40 years old, he has become one of the hottest properties in football – amazingly, he has not won the Serie A Manager of the Year award in either of his title winning seasons. Regardless, Frustalupi is widely considered the finest in the Serie A, and has had success large with the squad that was already at Milan when he took over. He added Jack Collison (34 Aps, 5 Gls, 5 Asts, 7.31) in 2014, and his only major signing in 2015 was Rafael Toloi (26 Aps, 1 Goal, 3 Asts, 7.10) for £8,750,000 from Porto.

Under Frustalupi’s tutelage, Jack Collison developed into a world class midfielder, playing a central figure in Inter Milan’s back to back titles. Up front, Inter’s three headed attack, led by Africans Yannick Ndjeng (22 Aps, 10 Gls) and Seydou Doumbia (33 Aps, 13 Gls) and supported by club icon Giampaolo Pazzini (25 Aps, 8 Gls), split the goals, with no outstanding performer but consistent play from all three strikers. The latter, who turned 31 years old at the beginning of the season, has seen his goal tally dwindle the past few seasons, but remained a key figure in the locker room.

The key figure in the team was Mauro Formica (35 Aps, 8 Gls, 12 Asts, 11 MotM, 7.73), Inter Milan’s Player of the Year in 2015 and 2016. The 28 year old Argentine right winger was also the Serie A Player of the Year in 2015 and 2016, the Serie A Foreign Player of the Year in 2015 and 2016, and the Serie A Fans’ Player of the Year in 2016. He was also named in the Serie A Team of the Year in 2015 and 2016 – in other words, he has been the best player in the league the past two years, leading Inter Milan to its back to back titles. His partner in the midfield, other than Collison, was Brazilian Coutinho (32 Aps, 6 Gls, 13 Asts, 4 MotM, 7.50) – the 24 year old Brazilian stepped up in a big way this season, captivating fans and was named in the 2016 Serie A Team of the Year.

In the back, in addition to Toloi, Inter Milan relied on the talents of Andrea Ranocchia (27 Aps, 2 Asts, 5.19 TpG, 7.15), who was named to the Serie A Team of the Year for the first time in his career, and South African Eric Mathoho (24 Aps, 2 Gls, 2 Asts, 4.20 TpG, 7.13) – those three allowed the squad to concede only 34 goals, the lowest in the Serie A. Behind them sat Italian international GK Emiliano Viviano, who was named the Serie A Goalkeeper of the Year for the second time (2012, 2016), as well as being named to the Serie A Team of the Year for the first time in his career.

The most well-rounded team in Italy, Inter Milan are also led by one of the world’s most talented managers, and that has brought two consecutive titles to the club. The foundation is strong, and every aspect of the squad shines with talent. Frustalupi kept all of his three main strikers happy, and relied on the strength of the midfield to provide goals and score them as well. In Formica, the squad have the best player in the league the past couple of years, and he is in the prime of his career. Coupled with the emergence of Coutinho and Collison, it is tough to see this team not making it three in a row.

Fiorentina: Fiorentina will forever be associated with its fantastic 2014 Champions League title winning squad, but their performance in the Serie A the past couple of years has proven that the club is no one hit wonder. Finishing 2nd Place to Inter Milan, Fiorentina finished a full eight points ahead of its closest competitors, Roma, leaving no doubt they were the second best team in Italy. It all starts with their manager, Marcelo Biesla – since taking over in November 2014, the club has made staggering improvements. This season, he invested a total of £33,500,000 in new players, the most expensive of which was Guido Marilungo (31 Aps, 11 Gls, 7.13), an Italian striker signed for £10,500,000 from Catania. For Emirati midfielder Amer Abdulrahman (17 Aps, 2 Gls, 8 Asts, 7.49), who came in the middle of the season from St. Pauli, he managed an absolute steal, playing only £2,200,000 to get him. His forays in the transfer market were not all successful, though - £8,500,000 was wasted on Luca Antonelli, bought from Roma, who only appeared 6 times.

For the third year in a row, Stevan Jovetic (31 Aps, 14 Gls, 5 Asts, 7 MotM, 7.57) won Fiorentina’s Player of the Year. The Montenegrin striker has become an absolute legend at the club, and was named in the Serie A Team of the Year for the third time (2014, 2015, 2016). Arguably no single player is more important to his team than Jovetic is to Fiorentina – he is the heart and soul of the squad. Their success has hinged on his form, which has rarely been anything over than phenomenal. He had some help upfront from Senegal-born Italian striker Khouma Babacar (27 Aps, 9 Gls), though perhaps not as much as Biesla would’ve liked from the strong striker. Another club legend, the 34 year old Alberto Gilardino (23 Aps, 9 Gls) also contributed when needed, although his time a full-time starter had come to an end. Fiorentina’s second leading scorer, however, was Manolo Gabbiandini (20 Aps, 10 Gls), who took a more prominent role this year after being signed on Free Transfer in 2014.

Fiorentina did not have any other stand-outs except for Andrea Masiello (32 Aps, 4.59 TpG, 7.08), the 31 year old Italian international defender. This just makes Biesla’s accomplishments even more surprising, considering he has only Jovetic and few other capable players to work with. Regardless, this summer should see the manager add more pieces to the squad in his attempt to bring the Serie A title to Florence.

Roma: Under Delio Rossi, who was hired in early 2013, Roma were able to capture the Serie A title in 2014, and since then, have finished 2nd Place in 2015, and 3rd Place in 2015/16. Rossi remains in charge, and despite falling a position lower in the league, he remains a fan favorite due to winning the Serie A title. Andrea Bertolacci (30 Aps, 2 Gls, 8 Asts, 5 MotM, 7.44) was named Roma’s Player of the Year for the second time (2014, 2016), and was also named in the Serie A Team of the Year for the second time (2014, 2016). Just as important as Bertolacci was Miralem Pjanic (31 Aps, 6 Gls, 5 Asts, 5 MotM, 7.28) – the Bosnian midfielder, who is just entering the prime of his career at 26 years old, has become one of the hottest midfield commodities on the planet.

Up front, Adrian Ramos (24 Aps, 14 Gls) led the team in scoring, with Daniel Osvaldo (16 Aps, 6 Gls) having a poor season in comparison to the past few years. Playing just in front of the defense was club legend Daniele De Rossi (26 Aps, 2 Asts, 4.59 TpG, 7.12), who despite his age, continued to be the team’s anchorman. Roma’s prospects are not as positive as the two teams that finished ahead of it, but it also has some solid players in Bertolacci and Pjanic to build a team around.

Sampdoria: Since getting promoted in 2012, the club has finished 14th Place in 2013, 3rd Place in 2014, and 4th Place in 2015 and 2015/16. All of this was done under manager Gianluca Atzori, who has been at the club since 2011. For each of the past five years, Angelo Palombo (32 Aps, 7 Asts, 7 MotM, 7.40) has been the club’s Player of the Year. Having spent almost his entire career with Sampdoria, many suggest that he is perhaps the best player in the club’s history. The 34 year old midfielder continued to prove his age wrong by once again delivering a fantastic season. Their wingers, Aexandru Chipciu (22 Aps, 3 Gls, 7 Asts, 7.18) and Giacomo Bonaventura (30 Aps, 1 Goal, 9 Asts, 7.07) were the other strong points of this Sampdoria team.

The Rest: Cagliari surprised everyone by finishing 5th Place, led by GK Alberto Pelagotti and defender Davide AstoriAC Milan disappointingly finished in 8th Place, and Juventus in 9th Place…Napoli finished in 7th Place, led by Serie A Top Goalscorer Billel Omrani.

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Overall Team of the Year

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French Ligue 1 2015/2016

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Player of the Year: Jordan Ayew, Marseille (33 Aps, 14 Goals, 7 Assists, 5 MotM, 7.29)

GK of the Year: Hugo Lloris, Lyonnais (34 Aps, 41 Conceded, 11 Clean Sheets, 6.99)

Foreign Player of the Year: Javier Pastore, Paris Saint-Germain (31 Aps, 7 Goals, 9 Assists, 4 MotM, 7.53)

Most Promising Player: Juan Hernandez, Bordeaux (30 Aps, 0 Goals, 1 Assists, 2 MotM, 6.83)

Manager of the Year: Didier Deschamps, Marseille (Champions)

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Ligue 1 Best Team of All-Time

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German Bundesliga 2015/2016

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Player of the Year: Kevin Strootman, Bayern Munich (26 Aps, 2 Goals, 7 Assists,5 MotM, 7.40)

GK of the Year: Manuel Neuer, Bayern Munich (32 Aps, 33 Conceded, 12 Clean Sheets, 7.06)

Defender of the Year: Alex Sandro, Wolfsburg (28 Aps, 0 Goals, 6 Assists, 3 MotM, 7.38)

Midfielder of the Year: Mario Gotze, Dortmund (28 Aps, 0 Goals, 16 Assists, 8 MotM, 7.68)

Striker of the Year: Mario Mandzukic, Wolfsburg (27 Aps, 10 Goals,7 Assists, 3 MotM, 6.98)

Manager of the Year: John van den Brom, Hoffenheim (3rd Place)

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Bundesliga Team of All-Time

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Nice season in the Championship, gives you something to build from.

And great job on the world updates, made for some great reading. Not sure i'm going to be a fan of the new European Championships structure in the future though, too many teams qualifying with just one win for me. Although interesting to see England, Wales and Scotland all getting out of the group with Wales producing a nice run to the semis.

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Nice season in the Championship, gives you something to build from.

And great job on the world updates, made for some great reading. Not sure i'm going to be a fan of the new European Championships structure in the future though, too many teams qualifying with just one win for me. Although interesting to see England, Wales and Scotland all getting out of the group with Wales producing a nice run to the semis.

It was quite an exciting group, with England Scotland and Wales - but what the Welsh accomplished was phenomenal.

I really hope you enjoyed the League reviews as well :)

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Amazing depth of updates here, so much time and effort goes towards producing them by the looks of it. :thup:

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Amazing depth of updates here, so much time and effort goes towards producing them by the looks of it. :thup:

Yes, lots of time, but its worth it if people are enjoying reading them :) I do enjoy writing them and immersing myself in my save's world :)

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Bromley 2016/2017 Preview

Overview

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Media Expectation: 22nd Place, Relegation

Board Expectation: Mid-Table Finish

Transfer Budget: £720,000 (Remaining: £0)

Wage Budget: £52,125 (Current: £45,195)

Last season was definitely a learning experience for us, and we did well avoiding a relegation fight and ending in 12th Place, a solid mid-table position. We had our ups and downs, but by the end of the season, our goal of survival was achieved. Our defense was tied for best in the npower Championship, but we had real problems offensively.

The offseason brought it with plenty of activity off the pitch – both good and bad. The season had barely drawn to a close when the board announced that they accepted a £775,000 bid from Celtic for our star 19 year old central defender Nikolay Nakov. Not only was he our best defender currently, his young meant his potential for improvement was vast – he had even earned himself a cap for Bulgaria. I was prepping him to head our defense for years to come, and even if at some point we were promoted to the Premier League, I believed he had enough talent to shine at the top level. Why the board decided a measly sum when we could have gotten at least three or four times that is beyond that. Unfortunately, I had no say, and Nakov was in Scotland just a few days after.

A few days before the sale, the board announced they had acquired a permit that allowed them to begin construction on a new stadium, originally called the Bromley Stadium. This was certainly welcome news, as Hayes Lane (5,000 attendance) was much too small for us. The new stadium was expected to fit just under 17,000 people, and despite a heavy loan being taken out from the bank (£18,000,000 – with monthly payments of around £100,000), it was well worth it. The aftermath, however, was tough to deal with – I presume the Nakov sale was a quick way to bring some cash in, and it did not stop there. My transfer budget was less than last year, and most surprisingly, the board decided to decrease my wage budget. Exactly how I was expected to build a better squad on reduced wages, I do not know, but somehow, the board decided it was logical to do so. Around the same time as all this was happening, the Bromley brass announced the formation of a link with Turkish giants Galatasaray. It seemed they had lost their minds.

Anyway, so it was an offseason that resembled a circus. I sold our star GK Ben Amos to Blackburn for £2,000,000 – this was not a sale I was particularly looking forward to, but his discontent was getting noisier and was adamant he wanted to join a bigger club. The money we got for him was a record sale for the club, and put the club in the black. We also got rid of our highest wage earner, left winger Billy Knott – he was a good player, but simply not worth the £11,000 we were paying him each time he turned out for us, which was every game. I also got rid of a few other wage drainers, and brought down our spending to below the budget given. It was not without cost, however, because there was glaring holes left in our squad.

Perhaps the most pleasing news of the offseason, however, was crowning me the very first legend of the club, although I would have liked to see Elliot Law join me. Sure, he did not have his best season last year and the npower Championship was probably a step too high up for his talent, but there is no way we would have gotten to where we are without him.

As for the upcoming season, the media has us fighting relegation again – this, of course, will not do. But I cannot say I am confident in this team as there are some glaring holes that we could not address. If we can pull off another mid-table finish, I will be happy. I am under no impression that we will once again be the best defensive team in the league, not after the sale of Amos and Nakov, but hopefully, we’ll be able to score more goals with the addition of Emmanuel Musah.

Youth was the focus of our transfer policy this season, with seven of our nine signings under the age of nineteen. Our most important signing, Emmanuel Musah (scouted by a scout of mine while he was in Germany), did not come easy due to the board’s refusal to allow me to offer him his reasonable wage demands. In the end, though, we got our man for £700,000 – I consider that more than a bargain, and I expect big things for him. The only other player we paid a sum for this season was Scott Caldwell, who came for £9,000. Patrick Bantamoi, our replacement for Amos and Sierra Leonean international, was picked up on free transfer, and will be relied on heavily this year. The rest of the players coming in this season were: Ivica Soljic (19 year old midfielder), Aaron Horne (18 year old defender), Christian Lehmann (18 year old striker), Petar Skocibusic (16 year old midfielder), Moha (18 year old left back), Tim Foulkes (19 year old left midfielder).

Leaving the club was our star GK for the past couple of years, Ben Amos. Signed on as a free transfer, we turned a nice profit, selling him for £2,000,000. His incessant nagging and growing discontent gave me no choice but to cash in, and I was happy with the free which I got – a Bromley record. The board were responsible for our quite ludicrous £775,000 sale of Nikolay Nakov, a sum I believe was way below what we should have gotten for him if we were forced to sell. Leicester inexplicably offered us £375,000 for Ant Stevens, a youngster I had signed from our 2016 youth intake, and I jumped on the opportunity to make the club some more money. Finally, Billy Knott, our highest wage earner at £6,000 + £5,250 per appearance, was sold for £120,000 – I was more than glad to get rid of his inflated salary. Offering him that contract was not one of my smarter moves. The rest of the players were either sold for nothing or let go on Free Transfer for the sole purpose of reducing the clubs wage bill to meet the board’s new budget.

Players

GOALKEEPERS

Patrick BantamoiStats: Signed this season on Free Transfer to replace Ben Amos, much will be expected of him after the team conceded the least goals in the Championship during the prior season. The 30 year old Sierra Leonean was the starting GK for NEC in the Eredivisie before moving to Bromley, so he has the ability to play at the top level.

Andy Dixon: The 20 year old signed a new contract in the offseason that will see him at the club till 2020. He remains the No.2 GK for the squad after Amos left and Bantamoi joined. Development: 20152016.

DEFENDERS

DL : Matthew Morgan: The 19 year old performed well enough in his debut season for the club that I did not go looking for a left back this offseason. He appeared 39 times, and gave out 2 assists while averaging 6.93 AR. He has improved a lot since joining the club, and further improvement will be expected. Development: 20152016.

DC : Kevin Long: Almost immediately became the club’s vice-captain in his debut season last year, such was the 25 year old Irishman’s importance to the club. Appeared in 41 league games, and averaged 6.96 AR. He was one of our best defenders, and remains so this year.

DC : Jesper Alberts: The club’s record signing, he came in the January 2016 window for £1,000,000. His contributions were immediate, and ended the season as the club’s leader in Average Rating (7.11). Still only 18 years old, his is the heart of our defense and one of the most talented players on the team. Development: January 2016August 2016.

DR : Steven Saunders: He gets the starting position by default, although there is not much confidence in him. Still, the 25 year old Scotsman is serviceable on his day, although he is prone to days when he is just torrid.

S : Aaron Horne: The 18 year old will be the first name off the bench for the defense, and will likely get quite a few matches due to the lack of depth plaguing the squad. He came up through Liverpool’s youth system before being signed on Free Transfer this season.

MIDFIELDERS

ML : Ebby Harwood: The 17 year old left winger has begun to show signs of developing into a capable winger, and he will get the opportunity to prove himself this season. There was not enough in the wage budget to go after a left winger, so the youngster is the starter by default, moving past Glen Baker in the pecking order. Development: 20152016.

MC : Porvaldur Magnusson: Bromley’s Player of the Year for 2015/16, he is the club’s most talented player, winning the npower Championship Young Player of the Year last season. His ability is unquestioned, but he continues to develop them at a remarkable rate. Unfortunately, he continues to hild out on contract talks with the club, despite having less than twelve months left on his contract. Development: 20152016.

MC : Petar Skocibusic: The 16 year old Free Transfer signing will find himself as a start in his debut season with the club simply because there is the best of a mediocre bunch of central midfielders left in the club. He has decent ability, but the important thing will be his development throughout the year – if he can show some good improvement, then he might prove to be a capable midfielder at this level.

MR : Aaron Mooy: The 25 year old Australian put forward a decent campaign in his second year with the club, and continues to be the club’s starting right winger. He has the pace, and although his assists went down from 12 in 2014/15 to 4 last year, with better strikers, perhaps he will be able to show that he is capable of double figures in the category this year.

S : Wayne Routledge: The 31 year old was a Free Transfer signing last year, and served the club well, filling in either wing position. He still has the pace to cause some danger, and will be relied upon to spot on both the left and right wings.

S : Ivica Soljic: The 19 year old Croatian midfielder came this season on Free Transfer. He possesses great technical ability, and will be the first name off the bench in the center of the midfield.

FORWARDS

F : Elliot Law: The Bromley captain is also the club’s all-time leading goalscorer and holds the record for most league appearances. He did not have a good first season in the Championship, scoring only five goals, but confidence has been maintained in him, with hopes that he will be better adjusted this season. Development: 20152016.

F : Emmanuel Musa: It took a while this offseason to get the club’s main target, but the deal finally went through for £700,000. Potentially the most gifted player to ever play for the club if he lives up to his promised ability, the 19 year on Ghanaian will be given the task to bring the goals that the club so sorely lacked last season.

S : Nadir Bendahmane: The 24 year old Algerian will be the club’s third choice striker this year, after a less than impressive debut campaign for the club last season. He joined on Free Transfer, but only managed to score 8 goals in 33 appearances for Bromley. He will be hoping to do better than that goal ratio this year.

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Thats some offer from Leicester for Ant Stevens. Any add on clauses in the deal or just £375k? Not long till you get the new stadium. Should improve the finances with bigger gates and hopefully help you make the next step up.

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Although you have lost some key players and had a smaller budget I have to say I think it will be worth it in the long run as you desperately needed that new stadium if you were going to compete higher up.

Looking at your squad, you have some fantastic young players, great looking DMC to help defensively (although will you have to sell him now he wont sign a new deal?) and looks like plenty of goals in the forwards. I reckon you could find yoursleves competing for a playoff place this year.

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Thats some offer from Leicester for Ant Stevens. Any add on clauses in the deal or just £375k? Not long till you get the new stadium. Should improve the finances with bigger gates and hopefully help you make the next step up.

The deal was £150,000, with the rest paid over 12 months. Ther is also 20% sale clause where I get that amount from any future sale (it was originally from profit, but I negotiated to 20% from the sale). It was a great deal for us as I cant see him turning out to be a meaninful player. The new stadium is certainly great news - at the very least, we'll be able to offer what should be reasonable wages to players that deserve it!

Although you have lost some key players and had a smaller budget I have to say I think it will be worth it in the long run as you desperately needed that new stadium if you were going to compete higher up.

Looking at your squad, you have some fantastic young players, great looking DMC to help defensively (although will you have to sell him now he wont sign a new deal?) and looks like plenty of goals in the forwards. I reckon you could find yoursleves competing for a playoff place this year.

The new stadium is the bare minimum we are going to need if we are to be competitive in the Championship, nevermind the Premier League. I do agree that I have some fantastic talent - namely Emmanuel Musah and Magnusson, but the latter wont re-sign....I was actually thinking of keeping him and losing him on free as opposed to cashing in on £1-1.5m that we would get for him - he might be worth more than that for only the one season he plays for us. I would love to be competing for a playoff spot, but it might be too far off for us!

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Bromley September Update 2016/2017

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Overview

After picking up a draw in my season opener against Burnley and losing to Derby in my second game, I figured we were going to be in for a tough season. I certainly did not expect what happened after that – for some reason, the team just clicked and won seven games out of eight in the npower Championship, including the last six in a row. Emmanuel Musah won the Championship Player of the Month (he scored 6 goals in 4 appearances), Porvaldur Magnusson won the Championship Young Player of the Month, and I scooped up the Championship Manager of the Month.

Before the outstanding 4-0 victory over Blackpool, I signed Italian GK Rafaele Di Gennaro[/b]. I know we have a capable GK in Patrick Bantamoi, but Di Gennaro is slightly better across the board and is only 22 years old, leaving a lot of room for improvement. What was a huge question mark after the sale of Ben Amos has now turned into our deepest position, and potentially one of our strongest. I would even go far as to suggest that we have not lost anything after selling Amos and picking up those two in terms of ability between the posts.

So now we find ourselves 2nd in the Champions, three points back from Reading. In 10 games, we have scored 21 goals and conceded 10 goals – the first stat is especially noteworthy because 46 games last season, we only scored 49 goals. At this rate, we will need only 24 games to score the same amount this year. Amongst the worst teams offensively last year, we are now leading the Championship in goals scored. There have been two reasons for this, the most obvious of which is the addition of Musah to the team. The second, however, is not so obvious – in the offseason, at the age of 22, our captain Elliot Law, perhaps sensing that his ability no longer could hold its own against the level of competition in this league, improved drastically. He has started the season with a bang, scoring 4 leagues in 8 appearances – last season, he scored 5 league goals total.

So there you have it, a phenomenal start to the season, one that I could not have expected – whether we maintain it or not, I have no way of knowing. But given how well the team is clicking right now, in the midst of a six game winning streak, I would not mind seeing us stay fighting for a promotion spot as the season drags on. I do not want to get my hopes up, but we have gotten some great results against some very good teams. We ended the month of September with our captain and vice-captain, Kevin Long, both signing new contracts that will see them at the club until 2020.

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Thats a great start. Good to see Musah is performing after a large outlay. Magnusson looks to be doing well to setting a few up, must say it's not a very English sounding name though :)

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Thats a great start. Good to see Musah is performing after a large outlay. Magnusson looks to be doing well to setting a few up, must say it's not a very English sounding name though :)

Yes, Musah has had a great start to his Bromley career, and Magnusson is having a typically great season! He's Icelandic, but holds an English second nationality, and I guess he decided he wanted to represent his adopted home :)

Wow! Great start!

Indeed! Although we just got hammered by Blackburn :(

On the bright side:

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Bromley October Update 2016/2017

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Overview

We started the month off against Norwich – a team we had played three times in the past (all in 2015/16), and had lost to three times. In fact, we had only managed to score one goal against them, while we had conceded seven, so I was a bit pessimistic going into the match. Elliot Law’s 5th league goal of the season gave us a 1-0 victory and three points that sent us top of the league, and I pulled off my first ever victory against the Canaries. Rafaele Di Gennaro recorded his second clean sheet in his fourth game since joining the club – I was especially happy with that.

A few days into October, Porvaldur Magnusson sprained his wrist in training, ruling him out for at least two weeks – very bad news in deed, but thankfully, it was not worse. He would miss, at most, two games, against Blackburn and away to Cardiff. The ongoing contract negotiations with him were very stagnant – I was offering the maximum I could in everything, but his agent would immediately walk away, claiming my best offer was so far off what he was looking for that it was not even worth talking about.

After the prolonged international break, we finally got back to club football on October 15th, against Blackburn. Our opponents, who are amongst the biggest clubs in the Championship both in terms of value and salary spending, were favorites to be promoted to the Premier League last year, but they fell short. This year, they are struggling in 13th Place, and while they no longer have the largest wage bill in the division (that honor goes to Sunderland with £33,510,000), they are still third with £22,550,000. Bromley, by contrast, are spending £2,510,000 – second lowest in the division, with only newly promoted Preston behind us. We had played them twice in my career (both in 2015/16), and had come away with a loss and a draw, so I was looking forward to getting a result against them, despite playing away from home. We were on a seven game winning streak, and I wanted to continue that momentum. Unfortunately for us, Elliot Law picked up a knock very early in the game – it was especially disappointing because he had been in such great form. Shortly afterwards, they scored, which put us behind 1-0. The second half was not much better, and following our captain’s injury, our vice-captain, Kevin Long, picked up a knock of his own. Blackburn scored two more goals, and we lost 3-0, abruptly ending our seven game winning streak. I let the team have it in the dressing room afterwards, aggressively telling them they were pure rubbish.

After the match, we got the news that Elliot Law was going to be out for six weeks with a pulled hamstring, and Long was to be out for two weeks with a bruised rib. A terrible match overall, and I wanted to quickly put it behind us and concentrate on the upcoming match against Cardiff. Before that, however, I decided to meet with the board and ask for further investment in our Junior Coaching, and to my surprise, they accepted, raising our level to Excellent! As for the Cardiff match, it was a disappointment as we could not muster up any goals, ending in 0-0 with a team that looked weaker than ours. Emmanuel Musah picked up a dead leg injury, but will only be ruled out for one week.

I noticed that there was interest in our young defender Scott Williams, so I offered him to clubs for his value (£350,000) with a 20% sale clause, and a couple of days later, Huddersfield responded by accepting our offer, albeit with £0 upfront and the sum spread over 48 months. Still, it was better than letting him go on free, which was inevitably going to happen had he stayed at the club, so I gladly accepted the sale. I don’t know what teams are seeing in my youth intake, but so far, I had sold two players (Ant Stevens was the other) for a combined £725,000 – good money for players I was never likely to use.

Our next match was away to the current leaders of the Championship, Peterborough. This was another team he had not beaten in the two games we had played them, coming away with a loss and a draw. We were without three of our most important players – Law, Musah, and Long, all out due to injuries. Although we played a good game, Peterborough found the net with thirteen minutes left in the match, defeating us 1-0 and pushing our winless streak to three games. Without our starting strike force, we could not finish some decent opportunities, reminding me of our struggles from last year.

A few days after the match, Lovro Scrbec’s agent sent a message to my desk saying that he was looking for a club, so after some back and forth, we agreed on a £2,700 wage for the striker and he became our latest signing. With Law out for another month, I planned on throwing him directly into the starting lineup. Our final game of the month was at home to Hull, and with all my best players back (save for Law) in the starting lineup, I was expecting to pick up three points against them. We managed to pull off a tough 1-0 victory, with Musah scoring the goal, and we ended the month in 3rd Place in the table.

We have a rough schedule coming up in November, with three straight away games. We didn’t have the best October – our winning streak came to a painful end, and we had quite a bit of injuries to contend with. Our offense brought back memories of last season, when we could not buy a goal to save our lives. Hopefully, with the return of Musah, and our new signing Scrbec, we can start finding the goals we need to score in order to keep competing for a playoff spot.

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Good to see a return to a promotion push.

Yes, its been a fantastic start to the season, we've been flying high! Here's hoping we dont fall!

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Bromley November Update 2016/2017

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Overview

The month started off at home against Crystal Palace, and our squad player Nadir Bendahmane, who had not been impressive so far this season, scored a brace in 4-0 win. Porvaldur Magnusson continued to tease with his performances, playing out of his mind and yet refusing to talk about a new contract. New signing Lovro Scrbec scored his first goal for the club – we were back in a big way. This was exactly the sort of performance I was looking for, and the boys duly delivered.

Next up, we had the most expensive side in the Championship, Sunderland. I was hoping for a draw, but I would not have been upset with my team had they lost – shame on me for underestimating my boys again. They won 2-1, and our new signing Scrbec winning the MotM. This was a fantastic win for us, even though our first goalscorer, and star defender, Jesper Alberts picked up concussion that will rule him out for two weeks. Our own Bromley product, left winger Ebby Harwood, scored his third goal of the season – honestly, he has been my most surprising player this season. The 18 year old has made the left wing position his own, and has shown drastic improvements in his ability. Seventeen games in the season, we were in 2nd Place, one point behind Peterborough and six points ahead of 6th Place Sheffield Wednesday, placing us very well in the promotion battle.

If I had any illusions about being one of the better teams in the Championship, those were quickly put to bed in our away match against Reading. They destroyed us 4-0, pushed past us into 2nd Place, dropping us to 3rd Place, and made me start doubting our new GK, Rafaele Di Gennaro. They say numbers don’t lie – if that is the case, Patrick Bantamoi, who was dropped in favor of the Italian when I signed him, was playing much better than Di Gennaro is now. I had some thinking to do before the next to match in terms of who to start between the sticks.

When the match against Leicester came around, I decided to keep faith in Di Gennaro, and the same starting lineup that was embarrassed at Reading lined up again. The first half ended in 0-0 draw, though we had a goal ruled offside. Obviously, this result made me happier than my counterpart, and I was desperate for the team to keep up the intensity in the second half, so I assertively told them that they were playing well and to keep it up. My speech must have worked, as Musah scored the only goal of the game, giving us a fantastic 1-0 away victory. The faith I kept in Di Gennaro paid off, as he played fantastic and kept a clean sheet for us. Once again, it was Magnusson who won the MotM, with another great performance in the midfield.

Our final match of in the month of November was against Nottingham Forest, a team that finished 14th Place in 2015/16, but was one spot behind us this season, in 4th Place. This was a promotion battle in the truest sense of the word, and I wanted Hayes Lane to be rocking game time. We had sold out all of our home games so far this season – not a hard feat considering Hayes Lane could only seat 5,000. We started out pressuring them, and we never let our foot of the gas. They were playing dirty – I had to remove Musah and Magnusson from the game around the 65th minute because they kept hacking away at them and I was afraid they might get injured. Musah had scored earlier in the second half, his 10th league goal of the season, and that’s how the game ended – another 1-0 victory, but another stellar performance. The clean sheets were back – it seemed Di Gennaro noticed my disappointment in him after the 4-0 loss against Reading and decided to buck up. With 20 games played, this win pushed us into 1st Place in the Championship, one point ahead of Reading!

As we head into December, we are deep enough into the season where we can longer discredit our position in the league as “good start” – we have to start believing we can push for a promotion spot. Before we started the season, I did not believe we had the talent across the board to compete – I felt we had too many weak spots. My boys, however, have proven my wrong, and there is no turning back now. Mid-table will not do anymore, not after these three months. In fact, I will go as far as to say that being in the position we are now, if we do not give ourselves at least a fighting chance for promotion, I will be disappointed come the end of the season. December will not be so hectic – we only have five games, albeit one of them being a tough home game against Bolton. We need to keep the results coming, and in order to do so, we need twelve points from our five matches.

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Football News

November 27th, 2016: Fiorentina manager Marcelo Biesla resigned from his post today and took up the vacant Sevilla manager job in a shock move that has made headlines in the football world. Considered one of the top managers in the world after leading Fiorentina to their historic first ever Champions League title in 2014, he also led the club to 3rd Place in 2014 and 2nd Place in 2015. The club is in 6th Place currently, nine points off the top and not playing so well. Sevilla had sacked Quique Flores, ironically the man Biesla replaced at Fiorentina, a week ago, despite the club currently being in 2nd Place. After three consecutive 3rd Place finishes, the team dropped to 7th Place in 2015/16 under Flores, and it seems the board were just waiting for the right man to come along before replacing him.

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Wow, looking good for promotion to the Premier League this season.

Oh, and well done to Wales in the Euros; best of the Home Nations :D

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Wow, looking good for promotion to the Premier League this season.

Oh, and well done to Wales in the Euros; best of the Home Nations :D

The way my season started very much surprised me - but now, I feel that if Im not competing atleast for a playoff spot, I will be disappointed. All credit goes to Alberts, Magnusson, and Musah, theyve done great!

As for Wales, that was an incredible run - Collison and Bale have really become top international talents.

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Fantastic. Did similar with Luton Town on the Unemployment challenge. Was quite easy, and having been an LLM veteran of sorts for a few years now, breezed through the leagues comfortable. Just a 2 year stint in the Championship being the only blip in my staggering ascent through the leagues. ( in hindsight, it was a blessing in disguise )

NB : although it may seem a bit redundant now, i set my best players at a million or two over what most teams would wanna bit and set to "reject lower offers" , seems to deter bids somehow.

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