snootyjim

Getting Müllered Around the World

98 posts in this topic

That would be a great move.

I've been linked with it about 4 or 5 times now, but in the end they went for Mark Robins of all people. Bizarre move.

Looks like they had a takeover 3 years ago and are in a lot of debt, so maybe their reputation has really dropped. I'd probably still have taken the job though.

In other news I just received this message:

fabianmllernewsinbox10.png

Not sure if I should be pleased or offended :)

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Struggling to believe this, really can't work out what's up with the team.

swedishfirstdivisionnor.png

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The Complication:

fabianmllernewsinbox17.png

Question is, what do I do? I suppose I should just accept the offer from Ingolstadt, given that they are making such a colossal offer... and they have secure finances. The job in Ireland seems a great challenge though, I feel as though I could achieve something impressive there. Mind you, my career so far has been mixed at best. Some suggestions would be appreciated, I'm not making a decision yet!

Oh, and don't even get me started on Grant Holt. Grant "Sacked by Braintree" Holt.

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Go to Inglostadt for stability.

Unless you want to stick with the 'one club a year' rule. :D

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Go to Inglostadt for stability.

Unless you want to stick with the 'one club a year' rule. :D

I was at Persijap for 663 days I'll have you know!

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Definitely Inglostadt if you want to become more successful quicker and also the money available means you will be able to make a good team much easier than with the other teams.

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Yep, I'd choose Germany too. Very decent budgets there.

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I thought you'd say that :)

Thanks all for your advice, I am now manager of Ingolstadt. I also realised that this is technically Müller's homeland so he'd be pleased. Fingers crossed I don't fluff up another opportunity...

Here's my new squad overview

Given the lack of quality on the wings, Skerjanc excluded, I've decided to play a 4-1-2-1-2 yet again. I prefer playing a flat 4-4-2 but if the players aren't there... plus I have an excellent AMC in Leitner, although his performances over the last couple of seasons have been miserable. I'm half wondering whether the AI played him at CM.

I'm hoping to make a few signings but the season starts in 17 days so it could be tricky, don't even have a full complement of scouts yet. Long term it won't be a problem, as the transfer window doesn't close for almost 2 months, but the beginning may be interesting.

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Transfer Update

So, I've set about remodelling the squad.

Transfers

Squad Overview

Quite a few players have left, nearly all of whom I wanted to leave. Ronnie Minkwitz was the exception, my second best AM. He kicked up a fuss about wanting to leave, and had a huge argument with me about it, so I accepted his transfer request. Kaiserslautern met the asking price of £2.5m, and that was the end of it.

I brought in a few talented youngsters on free transfers, plus a few big signings. I was really struggling for talent up front, so that's where I spent most of the money. Goran Blazevic, my new keeper, was probably the bargain of the window. He signed on a free from Sibenik in Croatia, and he's already one of my best players.

As for the big transfers:

Ilir Hasi - The young Albanian is an ideal DM, and with such versatility he should get more than a few games this season. £1.5m is a fair bit, but for someone so young I don't think it's a bad deal.

Umit Akyil - Don't know how this guy has escaped being noticed for so long. His form hasn't been great in Turkey, so maybe that's the reason, but he's very talented and with 17 pace I think he'll grab more than a few goals up top.

Hiroshi Ibusuki - He hasn't really settled anywhere thus far in his career, but he looks to be an excellent target man. Hopefully he'll prove to be the perfect foil for Akyil. £2.1m was a heck of a lot for a 26 year old, but I really needed a good striker so I don't mind forking out a bit extra.

Overall outlay for the transfer window is £500k, out of a £5m budget, which I don't think is too bad. Sadly, because of the return ratio, I only have £2m remaining, but I'm more worried about our overall finances than budgets. I'm only using £250k out of £375k permitted wage budget so that should be fine. In fact the present salary total is the lowest it has been since 2015, which bodes well.

Also, the board agreed to improve the training ground for £1.8m, which seems fair enough. I'm not going to bother with youth for the moment, since it'll take so long to see the benefits.

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Galatasaray expressed an interest in my fifth-choice striker, so I decided to make a move. They agreed to pay a massive £3.8m, and they're right to be cautious, looking at his goal record. And just for good measure, he's had a go at the Galatasaray fans. I'm so sad he's left.

Okazaki cost me £3m, which was more than I wanted to pay, but he's already by best player and has 5* potential. Not to mention that he brought a bit of cash along with him.

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Season 7 Review - 2017/2018

If you've been following this thread, you'll be familiar with my achievements with the last few clubs. And you'll also be pleased to know that things began in much the same manner as all of the other seasons. I spent some big money bringing players in, although I did sell roughly the same amount, and aimed to rebuild the squad. Typically, two of the big names I picked up, Umit Akyil who I thought would be the perfect goal poacher, and Ilir Hasi, a very solid DM, both had serious homesickness and missed virtually the entire season with trips back to their Turkey and Albania respectively. Okazaki, my £3m gamble, also suffered with jadedness, meaning he could only play one in two until the winter break. The board expected promotion, and in my first 8 league games, I delivered one win, four draws, and three losses, leaving us just outside the relegation spots. My position was very insecure, and I asked the board for more time in the vague hope they wouldn't sack me.

As for what happened after that, I think a picture can sometimes speak a thousand words.

No, really. That really did happen. 26 league games unbeaten :). You'll also notice 5-game and 8-game stretches without conceding a single goal.

So, what happened? Well, first of all I realised that although Ibusuki is phenomenal in the air, I had one of the best squads in the league. Lumping it up to a big man up top just doesn't work when you're trying to play an intricate passing game. So I cancelled all of the target man instructions, and just used him as a deep lying striker. Also, I realised that Leitner was absolutely hopeless. He was meant to be one of my best players, and was the only quality AM in the team. Having got averages below 6.8 in both previous seasons, and being even worse this time round I decided something needed to change. My trusty 4-1-2-1-2 was switched to a 4-1-3-2, switching the AM to a third CM - where Leitner was just as capable. He didn't play any better really, but at least I could drop him when I wanted to. Clearly, that all worked a treat. Finally, we signed the amazing Pedro Paulo from Cruzeiro for a measly £70k - with Akyil missing most of the season owing to homesickness, his firepower up front was vital, grabbing 18 league goals in total.

We didn't win the league - Gladbach were ridiculously good, and at one point I thought they were going to go the whole season unbeaten. We were 10 points behind for virtually the entire season. But we did what we needed to do, winning automatic promotion with 4 games of the season remaining.

League Table - Results

German Cup - A short but adequate run that got us to the second round, as the board requested. We were incredibly unlucky to lose to Bundesliga outfit Kaiserslautern in added time, and the team performed admirably.

Squad Overview - I'm very pleased with the team at the moment. I would like a little bit more quality at LB and DM (certainly if Hasi leaves), but overall I'm happy.

Finances - We lost a fair bit of money over the course of the season, even though I raked in £3m via transfers and slashed the wage budget. Makes you wonder how they survived in previous years. Hopefully being in the Bundesliga will sort things out, but our 15,000 capacity stadium is very restrictive and we're not exactly awash with cash to expand it. I may have to fund our success through some transfer market shrewdness.

Key Players

Pedro Paulo - Without a doubt, the player of the season. Compared to the big money I risked on Ibusuki, Pedro Paulo was a snip at £70k... without him, I doubt we would've been promoted. He doesn't stand out in any particular area, and likewise on the pitch I can't really say how I'd describe him. However, he's very strong across the board and I guess that shows in his consistency.

Keigo Okazaki - Sometimes big money transfers flop, but this guy was worth every penny. The RB position was very weak, and Okazaki single-handedly turned it into one of my strongest positions.

Ryusuke Kuwahara - The best player I inherited, Kuwahara didn't disappoint. A young CB with bags of potential, he achieved consistency that I really wouldn't expect from a 20 year old.

Umit Akyil - I was tempted not to list Akyil here, as he missed the vast majority of the season with homesickness, as mentioned previously. However, he seems to have kicked that finally, and put in 14 appearances at the end of the season, achieving an average rating of 7.71 and scoring 7 goals. Now that's why I signed him. Hopefully he can keep that up next season, because he has been in absolutely lethal form.

Japhet Munyao - Munyao is also a bit of a surprise inclusion, having only been at the club for a short while. Having said that, his attributes are just unbelievable for such a young keeper. I had a message from an agent telling me that his client, a Zambian international keeper was available for transfer. He'd achieved at least 7.0 ratings in each of his 4 seasons in Zambia, which I considered very impressive for a young goalkeeper, so I offered him a trial (unable to scout Africa at the time). And then I discovered that he was mind-bogglingly talented, and signed him up immediately for 5 years. Already my best player, he performed admirably and led a charmed life in the Ingolstadt goal.

Next Season

For the first time in a very long time I'm seriously excited about the next season. I have a brilliant squad of players, and all of them are happy at the club apart from Hasi who regrettably is still insisting on going back to Albania. I'm hoping to convince him to stay, but in all likelihood he's off. As for everyone else though... I've got a young squad, a supportive board, money to spend and a colossal challenge in the Bundesliga.

Hopefully I can strengthen a little bit in the summer, although I have no intention whatsoever of spending more than I can recoup in transfers. I don't think our finances can take it quite yet, despite what previous managers have believed. Once we're a bit more stable I might start investing in youth, but for now I'll be looking to my network of scouts and newly permitted world-wide scouting to turn up some more bargains. With a bit of luck I can get some more big sales.

And since I'm enjoying myself so much, I just asked for a new contract. The board quadrupled my salary to £18,500 p/w and I asked for 5 years which they gave me :D

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That was seriously good, shame Gladbach were just that far ahead.

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That was seriously good, shame Gladbach were just that far ahead.

Yeah, it would've been nice to win the title and I really think that given the turnaround we engineered, we deserved it. Ultimately that initial run of poor form was too much to overcome in the end. No shame in failing to overtake Gladbach though, they were unstoppable. Halfway through the season, with about 18 games played they'd only conceded 4 goals in the league.

--

For anybody reading, a question:

For the next 4 weeks if I can get some FM in, it will be on my laptop with its "just barely faster than Atom" processor, so I'm thinking about removing some of the leagues as I've heard you can do in FM12. Currently I'm running all of them + large DB which doesn't sound like a good combination with the word Celeron.

Is it actually worth doing? I was thinking that I could remove most of the non-European leagues since I'm not realistically going to move from the Bundesliga to Australia or China, or Romania for that matter. And even if it is worth doing, should I do it? I think it will make it more playable, but if you reckon I'm devaluing the career then I won't.

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It's hardly devaluing, especially if it will really help progress.

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Season 8 Review - 2018/2019

I hate it when this happens. It's our first season in the Bundesliga, we work hard for the entire season, and then the entire thing hinges on one single game. We went into the final game of the Bundesliga relying not just on results elsewhere, but also on goal difference. We needed to win our game away at Kaiserslautern, we needed Wolfsburg to lose against Schalke, and we needed to overhaul their 4 goal advantage. Brilliant. Well, we did our part, destroying Kaiserslautern 3-0, and the victory never looked in doubt. The team were elated with the victory, but crestfallen as they realised that Wolfsburg had won 1-0 against Schalke. Despite all of our hard work, an entire season of grafting, we were consigned to the Europa League.

I'll re-use some text from my last update. No, really. That really did happen.

So, what happened? Frankly, I have no idea. We made no great waves in the transfer window, losing my brilliant Japanese centre-half Kuwahara who demanded to quadruple his wages. Oh, and also to add a £5.75m minimum fee release clause. I cut out the middle man and sold him to Blackburn for £5.75m. I brought in a few budget midfielders, and eventually decided to sell the underperforming Leitner, selling him for £2.5m and replacing him with the £3.5m German Jens Bellanave. At which point Leitner broke his leg and had his transfer cancelled, which was pretty typical of the useless arse. Hardly an inspiring set of moves.

Nonetheless, everything came together and we were fantastic, having one of the meanest defences in the league. Only Bayern conceded more than us. If it hadn't have been for our attacking play, which returned just 42 goals (Furth in 11th were the highest placed team with fewer scored), we could have easily come second in the league. What more can I say though? We were exceptional from start to finish. Our 1-1 and 0-0 draws with Bayern typified our season - we might not score hatfuls of goals, but we were a match for anybody.

Even more impressively, from a total of 18 clubs, we were 14th in the net transfer spend league, and 17th 18 in the salary league. If we don't win the overachievers badge I'm sending a letter of complaint :)

League Table - Results - It was very tight at the top, and as you can see we were incredibly close to getting the Champions League place, but I'll make do with the Europa League. To be honest, I would have made do with avoiding relegation, but my expectations rose rapidly this season! Dortmund were shockingly bad, finishing 12th... they've never been outside the top 6 on this save. With massive salaries, and the fantastic Mario Gotze, this was a major embarrassment. They must be regretting sacking the manager at the beginning of the season, and I will be surprised if the current boss, Bard Wiggen, survives the summer. If so, I'll be chucking an application in.

German Cup - Another average run. We met the board's requirements, but no more. We were unlucky to lose in extra time to Stuttgart, but I wasn't too worried - the league was by far the priority.

Squad Overview - The team is still looking strong, with good players all over the pitch. We still need to improve at LB - Paul Russell has done a fantastic job this season but I have my doubts that he can continue it next time round. I've signed a young Irishman, the ideally-named Patrick Gorman, to hopefully plug that gap, but we'll see. Hasi thankfully agreed to stay, although he's still unhappy, and I have also managed to acquire Steven Defour (aged 31) on a free who will shore up the midfield even further. As for attackers, I think I'm happy with them. We didn't score many goals, but Akyil and Pedro Paulo were both brilliant so I'm reluctant to blame them.

Finances - That's more like it. Quadrupling our prize money from last season has made a huge difference, and I'll be keeping the wages low again next season until we've got a bit more money in the bank. We sold roughly 95% of our seats in the league, and I desperately wish we could expand but it's not going to happen, so we'll be reliant on prize money and transfers for income.

Key Players

Pedro Paulo - Brilliant, yet again. I can't get over how much of a bargain this guy was - £70k for one of the best strikers in the Bundesliga.

Matthias Zimmerman - He was signed by the previous manager from Gladbach, and was decidedly average. This season he really came into his own, filling in at RB for the excellent Okazaki who spent 4 months on the sidelines, and playing DM or CM when Okazaki was fit. Pleasantly surprised.

Paul Russell - This was a bit of a shock. The New Zealander cost £300k from Partick Thistle, and was more of a backup and one for the future, but early on he threatened to leave if I didn't give him more games. Normally that grates on me, but I wasn't blown away with talent at LB and I decided to give him a chance. He completely blew me away, with a string of excellent performances that cemented his position in the team. He'll have to fight hard for his place next year with at least Patrick Gorman joining the list of LB options, but he is very versatile which always helps. I may nickname him Paul Russell O'Shea.

Umit Akyil - He proved why he'd cost all that money last season, kicking his homesickness and scoring several wonder goals. He now has the Preferred Moves "Runs with Ball through Centre" and "Runs with Ball Often", and despite his lack of dribbling prowess, his speed takes him flying past opposition defences. Numerous times, with our backs against the wall against superior teams, he would grab the ball on the half-way line and just apply the thrusters.

Japhet Munyao - I feel as though keepers in FM12 are a bit bugged. Not for the first time, the keeper has been the most talented player on the pitch according to the assistant, and this time he also kept the second tightest defence in the league playing for a mediocre side. And he walks out with one of the worst average ratings in the squad. I'm ignoring FM, I think he was brilliant.

Next Season

Well, I guess we have to aim for Champions League. That sounds ridiculous, even now, but maybe we can do it.

Even so, if a big job becomes available I will leap at it. I love working at Ingolstadt, it has been a thoroughly fulfilling experience, but with a 15k stadium and no hope of expansion for 11 years, it will be difficult to improve. I may have outgrown them already. Even so, it would have to be a cracking offer for me to move on.

My reputation is still only national, but perhaps a run in the Europa League will change that.

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Pleasingly, I have won both Manager of the Year awards.

Surprisingly, Munyao was named goalkeeper of the year, just proving the insanity of the average ratings.

And unbelievably, after the game telling me that it was impossible, this happened:

fabianmllernewsinbox.png

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Over a gap of 3 days, This + This = Irony.

Oh well. The board almost killed me, but I'm still going.

On another note, stadium expansion is finished now. Capacity hasn't increased - still 15,000 - but now 5400 of those are seats. Don't know whether that actually makes a difference but presumably higher ticket prices?

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You'd have thought that would have been a perfect job interview.

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Season 9 Review - 2019/2020

I think I can sum this up fairly briefly: second season syndrome.

We were totally useless, from start to finish. No consistent form until a five-game winning run in April, culminating in a breathtaking 6-0 win away to Wolfsburg. I thought that would spur us on, and we drew 3 games then lost the 4th. So yeah, very inconsistent. After that very poor run, my hopes of making it into the European places were dashed, and we ultimately finished 11th. Incredibly disappointing, and the board and players made that abundantly clear. Hopefully I've kept them on board, but it's hard to know at the moment.

Everything, therefore, rested on the cups.

In the EURO Cup, Braga were easily despatched in the 4th Qualifying Round. That set us up for Group F, comprising Legia, Partizan and Fenerbahce. Home and away wins against Legia, a home win against Partisan, and a home draw against Fenerbahce got us through the group, although Fenerbahce's win in Turkey ensured they were in the driving seat. The final game, at home to Partizan, was a must-win if we were to top the group. Typical of our season, they stuffed us 4-0 out of the blue, with a very strong Ingolstadt side giving up early on.

We had to hope for a generous draw, and we got Atletico Madrid. They're a huge team compared to us, and one I desperately wanted to avoid. I set the team up very defensively, with a targetman and some long ball philosophy, and it really paid off. Two goals on the break gave us a very unlikely lead, but they scored from a quickly taken freekick to take the game to 2-1. I was very pleased though, they were a great side and we'd done well to get two goals. We just had to pray that their consolation wouldn't affect the next tie.

We went in ultra-defensive in the away game, hoping to keep the game to 0-0 and take the tie. Despite a valiant effort, they grabbed a goal in the 49th minute, meaning that we needed to score to stay in. We threw absolutely everything at them, but by the end of the game had just 3 shots, with none on target. We were already out, without even really getting started in the knockout stages. It was a heavy blow, but perhaps a good lesson. Atletico were then knocked out by eventual finalists Chelsea, so we could still hold our heads high.

That, of course, left the German Cup. The poor runs of the previous seasons needed to end if we were to get European football in the 2020/21 season. We didn't really blow anybody away, but we put in consistent results (about the only time in the season), and got to the final against over-achieving Stuttgart. 8 wins in 9 had elevated them to 3rd in the table, finishing the season with a 6-0 win against Schalke. The final was very balanced, but Stuttgart took the lead in the 51st minute. We threw everything we had at them, and Roger Paz grabbed an equaliser in the 82nd minute. We reverted to our standard, cautious tactic, and as the crowd prepared for extra time Okazaki stabbed in a 91st minute winner from close range, sending the Ingolstadt fans crazy. The plaudits flooded in, and most importantly, the club gained UEFA Cup football for the next season.

League Table - Results - Bad seasons for established clubs like Leverkusen, Wolfsburg and Werder Bremen, but a big recovery for Dortmund.

EURO Cup - Disappointing to get such a good team in the 1st Knockout Round, but you've got to play them sooner or later. A valuable first experience I guess, but I'll be disappointed if we can't build on it.

German Cup - Brand new ground for us - a good cup run

Squad Overview - The team's overall quality has been vastly improved with the introductions of Tarek Mahmoud, Roger Paz, Patrick Gorman, and Salih Gunaydin. There's no obvious area to improve now, so I'll just be making general improvements wherever I can and selling the lower quality players to fund any spending.

Finances - Another good season financially. We brought in some more money through transfers, but primarily we've benefitted from increased Gate Receipts, Merchandising and Sponsorship - I'd wager that our reputation has increased dramatically in the last 12 months.

Key Players

Keigo Okazaki - Back to his usual form, despite not being a standout player in terms of ability, he's certainly a standout in terms of performance. Absolutely exceptional.

Roger Paz - The Bolivian striker was brought in for £2m after 34 goals in 35 games in Cyprus. I hoped that he would be able to improve our strike rate, but he hasn't exactly done that. Nonetheless, he's still young, and was sensational in the cups. Hopefully he'll gain consistency with experience.

Umit Akyil - Another fantastic season from Akyil. I pushed him hard, with 45 appearances, and he responded with 23 goals. He still has room to improve, and I hope he stays with us for many more years.

Tarek Mahmoud - With Kopric and N'Goma having little competition in the centre of defence, and some dodgy performances making me doubt them, finding a third centreback was vital. When Mahmoud became available, I swooped to bring him in from the Polish League for a club record £4.3m. He's got the potential to become one of the best players at the club, and his performances so far this season have been imperious. If N'Goma and Kopric want to keep their places, they need to fight each other from now on.

Patrick Gorman - The young Irish full back was brought in on a free, and kept Paul Russell well away from the first team. Still got a little bit more room to improve, and despite playing a full 50 games for the first team, he barely flinched.

Next Season

Hard to say. My target is definitely a better result in the league, and as long as we do that I'm not too worried about the cups. I think we've definitely got Champions' League potential if we perform to the best of our abilities. I have a steady stream of players joining on free transfers, so hopefully I can expand the squad and continue to make some good money by selling off some of the older players from our days in the 2nd Division.

Long term, I was seriously considering leaving half-way through the season as our league form faltered, but none of the big German clubs were convinced I was of sufficient calibre to join. For now, I'll be focussing on Ingolstadt and unless I'm approached I'll be staying. Until I boost my reputation a bit I think I'll struggle to find anything else, but equally it's difficult to improve Ingolstadt when we have such a small fanbase and stadium. I need to move really, but only to the right club... until then, we're sticking together.

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And I've just been offered the Wolfsburg job. They're still the 4th biggest team in Germany, but with lots of debt, a transfer budget a quarter that of Ingolstadt and a chairman who wants to leave it looks like a poisoned chalice to me. And with the salary pretty much equal to what I'm on at Ingolstadt, I'm not seeing why I would realistically take up the opportunity.

Thanks, but no thanks.

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Disappointing start to the season: the chairman accepted a £10m bid for Gorman, and Okazaki refused to sign a new contract without a release clause, so I had to sell him for £11.25m.

Adequate replacements are virtually impossible to come by, it seems, so I've got a very healthy bank balance. £40m brought in, £7m spent, giving me over £60m in the club's account. Of course though, that doesn't help me win games. This could really hurt my hopes of making the Champions' League places.

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fabianmllernewsinbox3.png

Good move?

Not massively - finances are in much worse shape, around £10m in the bank and £6m of debt, and the stadium at 22,000 isn't much bigger than Ingolstadt's.

However, there's little doubt that Parma are a bigger club historically, with a couple of UEFA Cup wins to their name - 1995 and 1999 to be precise. However, they've won nothing apart from the Serie B since 2002.

Hopefully this Italian experience will be a little more successful than the last!

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Well, that didn't last long. Just over six weeks later, something far too good to turn down came along.

fabianmllernewsinbox4.png

This is my first genuinely big club. They've got a fair bit of debt, £70m in total, but they're a huge club with a huge stadium and loads of room to improve, currently sitting 13th in the table.

Very excited. But succeeding managers like Ancelotti, Rijkaard, Allegri, Flores and Benitez, there's a heck of a lot to live up to. Hopefully I won't let them down.

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Yeah, the club's in pretty bad shape. Not only are we spending £600k per month in loan repayments for the next 9 years, we have also made losses of £12.5m this season.

We also have some horrifically overpaid stars, like Bojan Krkic on £84k p/w, a 32 year old Neven Subotic on £74k, and Jordan Henderson on £68k. They're all good players, but there's no way we can afford to pay salaries like those.

The team, in terms of quality, is on a par with the one I had at Ingolstadt, except there most of my stars were on about £25k p/w. That demonstrates the scale of the problem really.

At the moment I'm just trying to clear out people like Bojan and Subotic - they're great players, for sure, but we really cannot affords wages like those.

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Season 10 Review - 2020/2021

Not a lot to say about this, was a very short season with Roma. I didn't write up a proper season review, so here's a quick run through.

I made a couple of signings - Gelson Fernandes and a Brazilian regen called Floriano to reinforce the midfield, and also grabbed a top class Nigerian goalkeeper on a free transfer from Zamalek, Abdullah Agboh. I then sold as many players on high salaries as possible, Bojan leaving for £2.5m, the excellently named regen Obinna Salami for £9.5m and Subotic for £5m, plus a few less notable others.

We performed pretty badly, but held it together and finished 15th. The question, really, was how we could rebuild for the following full season.

League Table - Results - Close run at the top between Inter and Milan. It was a close thing for us when I took over, but the run of wins near the end took us well clear of relegation. Ironically we came 6 places below Parma, my old club, but aside from the debt Roma are clearly the side with the bigger potential.

Italian Cup - Decent run, including an excellent win away at Inter. Napoli totally outplayed us though, and their 93rd minute goal was well deserved.

Finances - A total shambles. Despite making £13m through player sales, we lost £13m in cash... effectively a £26m loss. It was fairly obvious that the salaries needed to be slashed.

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Season 11 Review - 2021/2022

So, working our way up from 15th. We started with another flood of transfers, signing over 20 players and getting rid of around the same number. We strengthened almost every position except in goal, where Agboh was proving to be better than any keeper I could possibly buy.

Most of the players who left just weren't good enough, apart from two: firstly, Salah Abdo whose massive salary was a problem. He was one of the best players at the club, but when Milan became interested I quickly jettisoned him for a tidy £21.5m, enough to finance several new acquisitions in both salary and transfer fee. Then my best striker, the Ecuadorian regen Luis Pillajo demanded a massive £50k p/w salary to stay on. That didn't fit with my plans, so despite his clear ability, I sold him to Shakhtar for £6.75m.

We really didn't start the season off well, getting some mixed results for the first 5 games, before going on a run of 7 consecutive draws. We kept a very tight defence though (all of my teams seem to do this, maybe my tactic just isn't attacking enough?), and let in just 24 goals - comfortably fewer than any other team. Even though we didn't score many, we often didn't need to score more than one to secure the win. We hovered around 8th for most of the season, until the penultimate game when we stole into 6th position to sneak ahead of Parma. Very satisfying, and sufficient for Europe - provided the Italian Cup went to a team that placed higher than us in the league.

The cup started well, with relatively easy victories against Cittadella and L'Aquila from Serie C1/A and Serie B respectively. Then, we came up against Internazionale, away in Milan. They were the team to beat this season, storming the league. We took the lead in just the 3rd minute through the excellent Ruben Minetti, a 20-year old Argentinian with lightning speed signed from River Plate. Then, in the 13th minute we were pegged back by Inter's star striker Gian, who headed in from a corner. Another header in the 35th minute took Inter into the lead, and despite a balanced game we had failed to put away our chances. In the 43rd minute Minetti broke away again, and pulled the ball back for Dennis Praet to scramble home his first and thus far only goal for the club, bringing the game back to 2-2. Then, in the final minute of injury time in the first half, Minetti sneaked between two defenders, latched onto a through ball from his appreciative teammate Praet and hammered the ball home to take a 3-2 lead into half time. Just when I thought we had control of the tie, Obinna Salami, a player I sold to Inter in the previous season, took control of the ball 40 yards from goal, jinked past his marker and hit a 30-yard curler into the bottom right hand corner, levelling the tie at 3-3. Then, as we prepared for extra time, wincing every time Inter attacked, in the 72nd minute my Brazilian attacking midfielder Eder got on the end of a free kick and sent a looping header into the Inter goal, giving us a 4-3 lead and sending the crowd (and I suppose the manager) crazy. We battened down the hatches, and held out for the last 20 minutes to record a historic victory. It was probably the most breathtaking game I've ever played in FM, absolutely scintillating stuff. We then beat A.C. Milan away from home in the quarter final, sneaked past Parma on away goals in the semis, and despatched Palermo with ease in the final. We won the Italian Cup, and along with it European football for the next season.

League Table - Results - Another strong showing by Inter, although Sampdoria ran them very close. A.C. Milan are in decline and with £197m of debt, they could be continuing down that path unless they take care.

Italian Cup - Terrific stuff, couldn't ask for much more really, although I would've liked to stuff Parma.

Squad Overview - Good strength in depth already, hopefully I can expand the squad a little in the summer. It's great to have some Roma graduates in there as well - Andreulli, Mirabelli, Mazzei and Casadei all came from the youth team and have great potential.

Finances - Finally starting to repair the damage done to this club. Having said that, we needed to make £21.5m profit on the transfer market to make an £8m final profit. On the plus side, the debt is decreasing slowly. Whether I'll be able to make profit like that on the transfer market this season, I don't know... seems unlikely though.

Transfers - You can see the scale of the clearout here. All of my purchases were done on a very strict budget, but we s till netted some top players from around the world. Thankfully I'm still at the level where players that don't make the first team at other clubs can significantly improve my squad, and I'm benefitting from players kicking up a fuss and being offered out on the cheap.

Key Players

Maurizio Orlandini - A perfect example of budget purchasing. Unhappy at Fiorentina, I grabbed him for just under £4m, despite an average rating of 7.17 in the previous season and 7.65 in the current one. He grabbed 9 goals and 4 assists in 19 leage appearances, and 3 goals in 3 in the cup. For a talented Italian striker, I think he's a bargain.

Omar Perez - A graduate of Espanyol's youth team, he moved to Genoa a few years back on a free. He didn't play particularly well, but then Genoa aren't a great side. Since I bought him he's really kicked on and started delivering on his obvious talent.

Ruben Minetti - As free transfers go, Minetti has been pretty impressive. I'm hoping he can get a few more goals next season, but he's performed very well. Always playing off the shoulder of the last man, if he gets a clear run at goal very few players can catch him up.

Pedro Garcia Gonzalez - Omar Perez's compatriot and partner in the centre of defence, Gonzalez didn't quite reach the lofty heights of Perez but did remain injury free and held the defence together through the middle of the season. Another bargain who spent 8 years at Sevilla from their youth team and then joined for a paltry £1m.

Abudullah Agboh - What is it about goalkeepers in this game? 40 caps for Nigeria at the age of 22, one of the most talented keepers in the world, the lowest number of goals conceded in the league, and he's still given rubbish overall ratings. Take no notice, he's a cracking player.

Next Season

I don't think it could've gone much better really, so no complaints about the season. It will be difficult to step up next season with competition on the European front, but hopefully we're up for the challenge. The salaries will need to be kept under a very firm grip, so my transfer market activity will probably be a lot more cautious than it was last time around.

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I've just had three red cards in a few weeks for my centre backs, as they go in for a perfectly normal header and needlessly elbow the opponent in the face.

I've never seen it before in FM, now three in a row. Does anyone have any idea what causes it?

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Season 12 Review - 2022/2023

I felt a bit more confident about the finances this year, so I splashed out on two big signings - a 22 year-old Czech central midfielder, Miroslav Nemec, for £4.2m from the Premiership's Huddersfield, and a 21 year-old Welsh centre-back, Brian Wager, for £6m from Norwich, also in the Premiership. The transfer fees weren't obscene, but at £45k p/w and £35k p/w they broke my wage structure. However, they instantly became my best players in their respective positions, and played very well. I also had the opportunity to sign Gustavo Walter from Ingolstadt, a young Uruguayan striker whose potential had led me to bring him to Germany a few years earlier. He had a phenomenal year, making his first 5 appearances for Uruguay, scoring 8 goals, and he grabbed 14 in all competitions for Roma. For a 21 year old, he's very promising.

We started well with a Super Cup win, and flew through the UEFA Cup, suffering only at the hands of Porto in the group stage. The Seria A also went spectacularly well, as usual suspects A.C. Milan and Inter fell away. We grabbed first spot early on, but it seemed very unlikely that we'd be able to hold onto that position for the whole season - the squad is still a bit small. Furthermore, we kept up our challenge in the Italian Cup, meaning that we had to compete on three fronts. Juventus were unstoppable in the league, and I thought our Italian Cup campaign would end at the semi-final stage when we came up against them, but we destroyed them 5-1 away, leaving the formality of a home 2-2 draw. Meanwhile, in the UEFA Cup, we beat RC Lens fairly easily in the first round, and beat Celtic 1-0 on aggregate after two incredibly scrappy games, to set up a quarter final against tycoon-backed LEMANS FC. They were clearly on a huge budget compared to us, but in the home tie we blew them away with a 5-1 victory. As long as we could avoid a 5-0 defeat, we would be through to the semi-final. We actually beat them 4-1 away, so with a 9-2 aggregate we moved on to a semi final against... Juventus. This time they were really up for it, and despite playing well we lost 2-1 away from home in the first leg. I was pleased with the oft-vital away goal, but in the end it proved unnecessary - a thorough 3-0 victory in the second leg ensured we would reach the final. Two cup finals were assured, but the league wasn't. Juventus and Sampdoria were at least 6 points clear for most of the season, leaving us to fight it out with a very powerful Fiorentina side for 3rd place and the Champions League spot.

Thanks to our cup runs, we had 9 games in the final month of the season, including 5 games in 13 days. The team really struggled, and with Brian Wager suffering 10 days out with a damaged elbow, we were left wanting in defence. Nonetheless, we soldiered on, and the penultimate game of the Seria A season was effectively our final, a game against Fiorentina. We took the lead through centre-back Omar Perez in the 39th minute, and appeared to have control of the game until Babacar struck in the 57th minute through a well-executed finish. 6 minutes later though, Maurizio Orlandini grabbed the ball on the half-way line and flew beyond the Fiorentina defenders before rounding the keeper and slotting home, showing the club why they should've worked harder to keep him. We held firm until the end of the game, and guaranteed third place in the league and thus Champions League football for the next season. We had a game against Brescia next, and 2nd spot was a possibility, enabling us to avoid qualification. I wanted to go for it, but with the UEFA Cup final only 4 days later I had to play smart, and used a few youth player. Predictably, Brescia went 3-0 up inside 22 minutes, despite being a very average side. I threw everything I had at them, needing a point plus my superior goal difference to ensure 2nd place over a floundering Sampdoria. We grabbed two goals in the 56th and 59th minutes, and then Gustavo Walter scrambled home in the 87th minute to my delight. I pulled everyone back to sit out the draw, and then waited for Sampdoria's match to finish. Then it turned out that the Seria A is decided on Results between Teams rather than Goal Difference, so we came 3rd anyway. Maybe if we had kept attacking we could've got the 4th goal. That's what you get when you don't check, I guess.

With the league sewn up, we had two massive games. Manchester United under Jose Mourinho presented a colossal challenge, and we were still lacking Brian Wager who could only make the bench. I had to use the inexperienced Peter Djukic at centre-back who has had two very poor seasons, although at 19 I sympathise with him. When he gave away a 20th minute penalty though, I didn't sympathise with him. When he gave away a second penalty in the 56th minute and got sent off, I wanted to kill him. We could easily have matched United had he not been such a pillock, and indeed both teams scored from open play... I couldn't overhaul the penalties though, especially not with 10 men, and we lost 3-1. I was gutted, but I keep trying to remember that we did terrifically to reach the final. It's still hard though, when you get so close.

That left the Italian Cup final, against my old club Parma. Thankfully, we absolutely decimated them. We took the lead just before half time, through defender Omar Perez, and then my attacking midfielder Djerovic decided to scythe someone down on the halfway line and saw red. We pulled back, and held on until the 86th minute when Parma scored a lucky goal from a set-piece. We bunkered down again, and put some quick strikers on to stretch the game through counter attacks. Naturally, we screwed up 3 brilliant breakaway opportunities in extra time, and then in the 119th minute Parma scored another lucky goal. Two finals, and two defeats. For all the effort that went into those cup runs, we wound up with nothing. Mind you, we still had the league, and Champions League football will be a very big boost to the club.

League Table - Results - A strange year, with clubs flying all over the place. Both of the Milan clubs will miss out on Europe, whilst Sampdoria have 5 players on over £100k p/w without any clear way of funding them.

Italian Cup - Knocking out the two best teams in Italy, it was inspiring stuff to be defeated by the 9th best.

EURO Cup - We did well to avoid the big clubs - I'm sure Porto would've given us a drubbing in the knockout stages - but nonetheless reaching the final was a huge achievement. I'm disappointed by the result in the final, on another day we could easily have matched them and at least tried to sneak a result.

Squad Overview - It's a good squad, with strength in most positions and generally young talent, but we need much more depth, which has this season tended to come from reserves and U20 squads.

Finances - A great season financially which has seen monthly profits more often than not. Attendances have risen dramatically, with the highest average on record, although sponsorship deals have dropped 2 years in a row.

Transfers - Another season that saw a huge profit, although far fewer players were brought in this year. It's becoming much more difficult to sniff out adequate talent.

Key Players

Maurizio Orlandini - Another great season for him. He's got great pace, acceleration, balance and dribbling, so I've been working on his PPMs this year. He now runs often and likes to round keeper, and routinely terrorises opposition defences. He hasn't been prolific, but then none of my strikers have. 17 goals and 16 assists in 43 games is more than adequate.

Mariano Quintana - Don't know what happened to this guy this season, but I think someone shoved a rocket somewhere. He was very average last season, but this time round was just explosive. 37 appearances brough a massive 26 assists, plus 15 goals. From the AM position, he's been more productive than my strikers. With an average rating of 7.49, he was a massive driving force and was phenomenally consistent across not only the league, but also in Europe.

Gustavo Walter - He was always very talented, but he was nowhere near the quality of my other strikers. He began complaining about me not playing him, so I gave him a chance and his attributes just shot up, and he quickly became my best striker after Orlandini. I've never seen anything like it before, but I'm not complaining. He didn't score many in the league, but 11 goals in 10 starts in Europe is terrific, and his international career is off to a flier as well with 8 goals from 4 starts.

Brian Wager - Only 22, the Welsh centre-back isn't your obvious defender with low heading and jumping abilities, but everything else makes up for it. Without him, the defence always looked incredibly shakey.

Chafik Haddou - This guy really came into his own this season. Last time round I was wondering whether at £8.75m he'd been overpriced, but with 56 appearances and consistent performances throughout the season he was a vital part of my team. Without him I would really struggle I suspect.

Next Season

I had a job offer from Leverkusen in November, but with Roma flying and around £90m of debt, there wasn't much to attract me. Plus they'd turned me down when I was at Ingolstadt. If the money had been huge, I might've gone simply for the sake of realism, as per my plan at the beginning of this career, but it was a no brainer to turn it down. I've been linked with many jobs in England and Italy, but nothing big, and my only application was one to Dortmund which was declined. I would really like to go back to Germany, but given how things are going at Roma it would have to be a huge job for me to move now. Anything outside of the top two or three in any nation, and I might as well stay.

As for Roma, the finances are going well, the stadium is huge and the Champions League should boost both cash and supporter numbers. I have to say that I'm itching to leave just a little bit, as I'm not convinced that I'm going to be satisfied until I've taken over at a big club in England, Germany or Spain, but if we can keep rising up the reputation league there's no ceiling here whatsoever.

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I'm going to take a few weeks off from this whilst I do some university exams, but I should be back in action again by the end of the month. This degree really has a habit of getting in the way of FM ;)

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Just sat through and read this from beginning to end. Wow. What a career!!

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Just sat through and read this from beginning to end. Wow. What a career!!

Thanks!

I'm going to come clean now... I came back to FM, and completed another season. Shouldn't have done, but I did. Anyway, it's a bit of a long read, with a rough guide to our Champions League exploits, but hopefully it's worth it.

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Season 13 Review - 2023/2024

So, my first season in the Champions League. I wanted to make some major improvements to the squad, particularly in the full back positions, but the opportunity never really arose. Hicham Yilmaz, a 24 year old Moroccan, was signed for £7m to provide cover at CB, DM and CM, but was too inexperienced to really make an impact on the first team. Chanchai Wirun, a 28 year old Thai LB and RB was signed on loan from Spurs to provide some cover, but he wasn't really of the calibre I hoped to attract. With 115 caps to his name though, he had a lot more experience than anyone else. I also found Jorgen Lindahl, a 22 year old Swedish striker playing at Standard. My scouts reckoned he could become the best striker at the club, so I grabbed him for £7.5m and sent the disappointing Matthieu Raynaud to Nancy for £5m. A few other players left, but nobody of any particular note.

My main concern was to make a real stab at winning the title, and we set about things in terrific fashion, going unbeaten until February. 11 games in we reached 1st spot, and never relinquished it for more than 1 game between then and the end of the season. A poor spell of form at the end of the season, including a 4-0 loss to Inter and 3 draws in the last 4 games threatened our position, but luckily for us our closest challengers, AC Milan, had an even worse run. In the last 7 games, they drew 5 and lost 2. We won the league with a game to spare, delighting the board and the supporters. Roma had the title back again for the first time since 2001. We sadly didn't do too well in the Italian Cup, losing to Napoli in the Quarter Final (due in no small part to Lindahl's decision to scythe down an opponent in his own half after just 2 minutes). To add insult to injury, former Roma midfielder El Idrissi scored the only goal just before half time to give Napoli the win. It wasn't too bad though - last season's loss in the EURO Cup and Italian Cup finals proved what damage fatigue could do, and the loss enabled us to focus on the league and the Champions League.

We had a tricky tie against Shakhtar in the qualifiers, with former Roma star Luis Pillajo leading the line for them. His 58th minute goal was completely outshadowed however by the magnificent Orlandini, who scored 4 goals to all but seal the tie before our trip to the Ukraine. A second leg 2-0 win, with much laughter at a missed penalty by Pillajo, ensured progress to the group stage. Hoping for a good group, I crossed every finger I could and watched the draw. APOEL Nicosia was perfect, but the positions of group favourites were taken by Lyon and Arsenal. They weren't in the group as league winners, but both had top quality teams.

The group started in fine fashion, with a 5-0 win away from home at APOEL, but bigger tests were to come. Despite media predictions, we destroyed Lyon at the Stadio Olimpico, 7 shots on target to their 0, and won 2-0 courtesy of Haddou and Orlandini. The next game though was a tough away trip to the Emirates, where Arsenal sported the likes of Khaled Abdel Hamid, one of my best players at Ingolstadt. They totally outplayed us, with 55% of the possession and double the number of shots, but they could only equal our total of 2 shots on target. The difference was, Gustavo Walter put both of ours away, whilst Abdel Hamid could only manage one - against all the odds, we'd secured a 2-1 win away from home and half-way through the group held an unlikely first spot with 9 points.

Arsenal came to the Stadio Olimpico, and played another great game of football, taking 57% of possession... this time though, we were even more ruthless, and Walter grabbed a hat-trick in a 5-1 demolition. Guttingly though, a couple of days later, Orlandini tore his calf muscle and would miss 4 months. Nonetheless, we marched on, and only APOEL stood between us and qualification in 1st place. Unsurprisingly, we obliterated them, giving them no shots at all and scoring 6 - Minetti scoring a memorable 7 minute hat-trick before a quarter of an hour. That, unbelievably, made him the fourth player to score a hat-trick in the Champions League this season for Roma. So much for my concerns about the attacking potency of my team a little while back! We put out a reserve team in the final game, and lost 3-0 in Lyon, but Group F was won. We were then drawn against Porto - one of the clubs who had given us real problems in the EURO Cup in the previous season.

They utterly dominated us in Portugal - we were barely able to get the ball, but we held it together and stopped them from scoring, which was the main thing. A tight game in Rome was to be expected, and Brian Wager's 31st minute own goal put us on the back foot. We knew we needed two goals, and with nothing after 60 minutes we threw everything we could at them. Nemec then leaped onto the ball 20 yards out and hammered it past Ron-Robert Zieler. The team was inspired and continued to push forward, and in the 81st minute Lindahl hit an unlikely looping header over the keeper to steal at 2-1 victory. The draw put us up against FC Bayern, who with 6 consecutive Bundesliga wins represented a colossal challenge. We couldn't help but look at the semi-final draw, which pitted the winner against the victor in yet another Classico. Nonetheless, we had to concentrate on Bayern. We were also suffering horrific injury problems, with Orlandini out again with a hernia and then a broken arm, and our only top-quality DM Haddou suffering strained ligaments. Then our backup DMs, Lorant and Yilmaz both suffered injuries in the league, leaving us with just one recognised DM in the shape of academy product Casadei. Hardly the best preparation.

Playing at the Allianz-Arena first, we held everyone back and looked to grab anything we could on the counter attack, and in typical fashion Minetti managed to break away from the Bayern defence in stoppage time at the end of the first half, slotting the ball past Neuer to grab a vital away goal. The Roma fans were stunned when in the 60th minute Wager managed to add a second with a firm header from a corner, and I could scarcely believe it either. Bayern scored a well deserved goal in the 87th minute, but it didn't detract from the result - a 2-1 win away at Bayern was excellent for any team. It was easy to think that the tie was done and dusted, but we had to try to concentrate. Djerovic got us off to a fantastic start, with a great finish in the 22nd minute. A goal in the 29th minute should have woken us up to the fact that the tie was far from won, but instead it was followed by two more goals in rapid succession. Bayern led 3-1 at the end of the first half, and even if we levelled the tie with another goal they would take it on away goals. In the 60th minute we were still no better, so I gave up on the defensive tactic and not for the first threw everything we had at them. Minetti came up with the goods again in the 64th minute, making a scrappy tackle on the edge of the 6-yard box and poking the ball past Neuer. We back in the game, but needed to score again whilst we had the initiative. Up stepped Lindahl, and with an incisive snap shot from 18 yards, we drew level and took the lead on aggregate. We pulled everyone back and tried to play the rest of the game out, and a very nervy 20 minutes played out without further incident.

That gave us a terrifying trip to the Nou Camp, and in front of just over 100,000 supporters we were yet again totally taken to pieces by a great passing team, with 65% of possession going Barca's way. That wasn't the whole story though, as Quintana dumbfounded the Catalan faithful when he prodded home inside the first minute, and yet again, we held firm, conceding just one goal in the 78th minute. I expected a tough return tie in Rome, but it just never came. We absolutely slaughtered Barca, limiting them to one shot on target with 11 for Roma. Orlandini was back, briefly, with a bang, scoring two goals to give us a 3-1 win on aggregate.

Against all the odds, we were through to the final. Bizarrely, after such a tough run, we faced a Liverpool side that hadn't won the league since 2013 and hadn't even made second place since then. Sporting players like Yann M'Vila, Sigurdsson, Stevan Jovetic, John Flanagan, Dedryck Boyata and Connor Wickham, they were certainly going with experience compared to my youngsters, and perhaps I didn't give them enough respect. After beating Bayern and Barca, Liverpool didn't seem much of a challenge by comparison. We were absolutely, totally, and completely abysmal. Striker Gordon Lamptey scored their opener with a 37th minute header and we seemed utterly spineless. Lindahl and Minetti up front did nothing, and I don't blame them giving them lack of service from the midfield. I blasted the team at half time, and they came out in the second half allegedly up for the battle. We quickly showed that we meant business, creating chance after chance, but as the minutes ticked by the situation became ever more dire, with nothing clearcut emerging for us. In the 79th minute, Quintana hit a corner, and Liverpool's Granit Xhaka inexplicably tripped Perez in the penalty area. The referee gave the penalty. Liverpool's players went ballistic, but it didn't matter. Haddou stepped forward and slotted the ball into the left corner, taking us level. I prepared for extra time, and indeed the lottery of penalties, when in the 88th minute John Flanagan needlessly shoved Minetti in the back inside the penalty area. The referee made no hesitation again, and gave us our second penalty of the night. Haddou was again given the responsibility, and stepped forward. Liverpool's keeper, Derek Smith, flew off to the left, but Haddou won the mind-game and went the other way, slotting this one into the right corner. Liverpool were distraught, and we held out for the final few minutes to secure the Champions League trophy.

How we did it, I have absolutely no idea. We nearly lost against Porto until Lindahl's late goal, Bayern after the first half were easily odds-on favourites in the quarter final, Barca destroyed us at the Nou Camp but just couldn't score, and then Liverpool gave away two ridiculous penalties in the final. I'm not complaining though. We'd just won the double.

League Table - Results - Another crazy year, as Inter and Milan returned to their usual spots and Juventus, Fiorentina and Sampdoria took a bit of a fall. The goal difference shows how lucky we were not to be overtaken by Inter and Milan, but we won and that's all I care about.

Italian Cup - Knocked out before we even started, but no hard feelings... it's a very distant third to Europe and the League.

Champions League - Lucky as hell.

Squad Overview - I'm very happy with the squad this season, just enough depth to cope. We could improve in a couple of key areas, particularly backup keepers, fullbacks and centre backs. As far as the first team line-up goes, however, I can't imagine much will be changing.

Finances - Profits all year round really, combined with profit on the transfer market and another massive increase in attendance figures we're really starting to look like a major force in Europe.

Transfers - Another decent profit, although a relatively uninteresting set of moves. We got rid of some deadwood, and I was particularly proud of Ciric, who joined for nothing, and left 4 months later without playing a game for a tidy £2.5m profit. Cheers Filip, much obliged.

Key Players

Maurizio Orlandini - This was so nearly a season of "what-ifs". Average of 7.63, and 19 goals in 21 starts, but he missed 5 months with 3 separate injuries. The fact that he did so well despite them is testament to his talent... I just hope it hasn't harmed him long-term.

Ruben Minetti - He's been patchy at times, I have to say. Only 12 league goals in his first two seasons combined. In Orlandini's absence though, he grew into the role and grabbed 24 goals from 39 starts, plus 5 vital goals in the Champions League. He's yet to break into the Argentina side, but he has been called up this summer so perhaps this form will bode well for his international career.

Jorgen Lindahl - This season's triumvirate of strikers was completed by the new signing, who has excellent skills across the board. He didn't get many goals, just 9 in 38 appearances, but his 14 assists were vital in helping Minetti reach his goals tally. He's only 22, and given that this was his first season I think he was terrific.

Tor-Mattis Nystrom - Nystrom started the season as the obvious first choice at RB, and was a bit average in all honesty. In January though I managed to pick up 22 year-old Roger Williams from Man Utd as his understudy, and Nystrom really pushed on and Williams' time in the side was shortlived. He's a talented lad, Nystrom, but he clearly needs a good boot up the backside every so often to actually achieve it!

Miroslav Nemec - I was a little disappointed with Nemec last season - having broken my self-imposed wage structure to sign him, he was very good rather than excellent. This season however, he really pushed on. He's an understated player, preferring to sit back and spread the ball around rather than sit behind the front men and grab the headlines, but you he really seemed to set the tempo for the squad. Having him in the side made such a difference to our midfield, both anchoring us against opposition attacks but also spraying the ball forward when needed to start our own counter attacks. I'm really pleased he's come good, I reckon he's a top talent.

Next Season

Where do I go from here? Before this season I'd considered ending this challenge if I won the Champions League, but I honestly think this was a bit of a freak result - I'm not convinced we can win the Seria A next season without some new signings, let alone the Champions League. Having said that, finances are going well and we could easily afford it, so perhaps I should just dip in and start spending some of the massive transfer fund - there's not a lot else for me to spend on as things stand. We're not the poor club we used to be, although I still don't think we can match the financial muscle of Europe's true elite.

So in a way, I'm still tempted by one final career move, perhaps to Spain or Germany to one of the top clubs. If Madrid, Barca, Bayern, Dortmund, or Man Utd come along with a proposition, I would be genuinely interested, but if it's anybody below that level I think I'll be staying at Roma for the time being.

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Wow. Some transfer budget.

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Wow. Some transfer budget.

Yeah, just a bit. And for once, we've got the financial muscle to back it up - £530m in cash sitting in the bank. We made £15m last season in interest alone. The squad's a bit of a mess, and as usual we've got poor quality players on massive salaries. For instance, my fifth-choice striker is being paid £200k p/w, and he's not a youth with potential - 4 years ago he was a £45m signing from Liverpool.

I'm going to have a look now at raiding Roma, since all of my salaries there were pretty low and the players were top quality... might be a few bargains to be had, depending on how ambitious the new manager is.

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Well, I've taken the opportunity and blown more money than I've probably ever spent in Football Manager in one window.

£180m to be precise.

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The way I see it, the board are demanding that I win La Liga and reach the Champions League final, so we need a top quality squad. That's not what they had when I joined, and we needed major investment. I'd rather blow £30m on players now than get sacked half-way through the season, having failed to find any cheap gems. Also, with some of the current stars on over £200k p/w, buying in players for £30m on lower salaries and selling the ones they replace isn't actually too bad in the long-term.

The squad is mainly powerful through the centre, so selling wingers Fumo and Reshetov recouped a bit of cash. I raided both of my old clubs, bringing in Munyao in from Ingolstadt to provide some cover for my first-choice keeper, along with Nemec (CM), Haddou (DM) and Wager (CB) from Roma - effectively the entire spine of my Roma side. Jose Victor (RB) was a player I'd tracked for ages but couldn't afford, a 21 year old who has already starred in the top-flight for Celta and will become one of the best in the world. Rubio (CB) comes direct from the Chivas academy as one of the best centre-backs in the world, whilst Albarran (ST), Collao (AMC) and Guzman (DM) should provide some cover over the rest of the pitch. That just leaves Hovorka (CB) and Bonnet (DM), who have the potential to become top-class players and will be playing for Castilla this year.

I made a bit of a mess of things, since Albarran and Rubio are both Mexicans and thus non-EU - added to the two non-EU players already in my squad that's four, which is too many. Really don't know how I managed that, since I had it in mind the whole way through, but there you go. Albarran's a bit upset about playing for Castilla, but hopefully he won't mind too much! He should blitz the Second Division really, he's easily good enough for the Madrid first team. At the end of the year the two players already in the 1st XI will have gained a Spanish passport through the South American fast-track system, and then so will Rubio and Albarran in two years' time, so it's not too big an issue. Bit daft to say the least though.

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Whilst I'm posting all of this, I just thought I'd ask if people reckon I should keep on posting updates - this was very much a rags to riches thread, and the rags are definitely long-gone now.

I don't think I'm going to carry on indefinitely (unless something crazy like a son appears), just going to play a few more years until I feel like I've reached the absolute peak of Müller's career. I'm not sure how interesting that will be though, since with this kind of budget the "challenge" aspect is a little dodgy!

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Definitely, no point trying to get riches if you can't enjoy it. Might help keep others interested if you introduce a little challenge aspect of your choice (Spanish only, U21s, that sort of thing) and/or leave if things get too dominant for too long.

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Season 14 Review - 2024/2025

We won La Liga at a canter, conceding just 10 goals across the whole season. We needed reinforcements up front to grab a few more goals, but nobody of top quality was available for under £40m, which seemed too much to me.

The Spanish Cup was pretty easy as well - the reserves took us through to the final, where the normal team (who had been rested from La Liga duties) secured a tight win on penalties against Barcelona. In other news, Castilla walked the B division.

The Champions League was much tougher. I thought it was all over in the 1st Knockout Round, when Arsenal beat us 3-0 at the Emirates - our 4-0 victory at the Bernabeu was incredible, although if I'm being honest probably undeserved. We outplayed Bayern at home, but again fell to pieces away. We conceded two early goals, and this time my tactic of throwing everybody forward backfired and we conceded another two on the break. I'm tempted to put it down to complacency, given how easy the rest of the season was, but I don't know whether FM models it. It was very disappointing, I have to say. We easily had a good enough squad to win it, far better than my Roma team, but we just fell to pieces when it really mattered.

In all honesty though, this season wasn't really a lot of fun. I'm glad I went for the Madrid job - I finally felt like I had reached the pinnacle of this career, and having the opportunity to buy whoever I wanted for the first time was a very welcome change. Problem was, the challenge was lost. We only lost 5 games all season - 3 in the league, and 2 in the Champions League, and with over £300m still available for transfer funds and a long list of candidates to improve the quality of the squad further, it seemed very unlikely that we'd have much trouble improving on the record next season.

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So, I did the only thing that felt right.

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Thanks very much to everyone who read the career, and special thanks to everyone who added their comments as well - they were all hugely appreciated.

I'm definitely planning to come back again and get something new going, but I haven't made any firm decisions about what I want to do yet. Thanks again :)

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Well, it's definitely been a good one, good luck thinking of something good.

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