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[FM11] Forever Blue: The Final Journey

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Hello Fabinho! Pagligagliangu looks decent as well - good signings! How are you feeling about Odesa at the moment?

It was Yakovenko who I was really excited about, and he's been fantastic, giving us the spark that we lacked last year. Fabinho already has a few goals in Europe but oddly none in the league, and Paglialunga has been reasonably good as well. As for how I feel, it's much improved. Last season was just painfully dire, and I wasn't in the best of spirits this morning, but being in Europe was a bit of a surprise and that's gone very well. The league didn't go so well early on but even then we did seem to be a bit brighter performance-wise so my enthusiasm for the club has definitely been restored. I wasn't going to seriously leave unless I'd really had enough so it's good to be able to look forward to being around a while longer.

Jul 2014

Fola Esch 0-7 Chornomorets (EL)

The season started early, at Luxembourg side Fola Esch, which unsurprisingly was very easy. Pleshakov gave us the lead after 10 minutes, and by the half-hour mark it was 5-0 with two more from Pleshakov, the last one a penalty, a Melnyk penalty and Koz’ban, with Rebenok having had a goal disallowed. A couple more Melnyk goals, including another penalty, sealed a 7-0 win.

Choromorets 4-0 (11-0) Fola Esch (EL)

They didn’t have a single shot in the home leg, as Melnyk gave us a 5th minute lead. We weren’t very efficient up front but it hardly mattered. Koz’ban made it 2-0 by the break, with Melnyk getting his 5th goal of the tie from his 3rd penalty, and Gladstone finishing a 4-0 win on the night, a fantastic 11-0 on aggregate.

Chornomorets 0-2 Vorskla (UPL)

Vorskla were our first league test, and unfortunately we didn’t look much better than last year. They took the lead in the 12th minute, and got another as we had a rather limp performance.

Chornomorets 2-1 Celje (EL)

The Slovenians of Celje were our next European opponents and were better than I thought they’d be, taking the lead after 20 minutes. Koz’ban equalized on the break in the 35th minute, and new signing Yakovenko scored on his debut early in the second-half. We were a little lucky they were so wasteful otherwise they would have equalized but it gave us a lead to take to Slovenia.

Zorya 0-2 Chornomorets (UPL)

We went to Zorya between the legs, and were second-best for most of the first-half but snatched the lead on the break from Melynk. We were better afterwards with Vasin giving us a 2-0 win.

Celje 0-0 (1-2) Chornomorets (UPL)

We’d face an easy tie if we survived the away leg against Celje. For most of the game we were comfortably on top, but couldn’t get a shot on target, let alone a goal. Just one goal would be enough for them to knock us out on away goals, so I was worried when they took the game to us late on, even having a goal disallowed with a few minutes left as we squeaked through to face Inter Baku.

Chornomorets 1-1 Karpaty (UPL)

We faced Karpaty, already tiring a little, and contributed our part to an even but wasteful game. Paparatto gave us the lead with a 69th minute header, but it barely lasted and we had to settle for a 1-1 draw.

Chornomorets 1-1 Inter Baku (EL)

Inter Baku had a bunch of decent Ukrainians, so weren’t as easy as they seemed but Vasin gave us a 4th minute goal. We were easily worth another but just couldn’t get it and were punished with a late equalizer.

Aug 2014

Arsenal Kiev 1-1 Chornomorets (UPL)

We went to Arsenal Kiev and had a disallowed goal from Koz’ban at the end of the first-half. Melnyk’s penalty gave us the lead after an hour but we couldn’t hold on as they got a deserved equalizer.

Inter Baku 2-4 (3-5) Chornomorets (UPL)

I was worried about whether we could turn things around at Baku, but it was a lot easier than I expected. Koz’ban gave us the lead in the 3rd minute, followed by Melnyk a few minutes later. It was the defender’s 6th goal in as many European games, and what price on him being our top scorer this season! Rolle made it 3-0 in the 11th minute and we seemed to be sailing through. They needed 4 goals, and to their credit, they did get a couple but Galvao completed a 5-3 aggregate win.

Chornomorets 1-2 Metalurg Donetsk (UPL)

We went behind against Metalurg Donetsk in the 3rd minute. Vasin equalized in the 45th but there was still time for them to retake the lead before the half-time whistle. We were only slightly second-best in an even game but also had a straight red for Roncaglia at the end.

Dynamo Kiev 2-0 Chornomorets (UPL)

I wasn’t looking forward to Dynamo Kiev, who took the lead after 15 minutes. It wasn’t as bad as I feared it would be but they still got a deserved second late-on.

Chornomorets 5-0 Hapoel Tel-Aviv (EL)

Hapoel Tel-Aviv was a decent draw in Europe, and it proved to be very easy in the first-leg. Yakovenko had been a star so far and gave us a 5th minute lead. Paparatto and Fabinho (getting his first goal for the club) helped us surge to a 3-0 lead at the break, with Melnyk and Koz’ban sealing a 5-0 win.

Chornomorets 0-1 Metalurg Zapor-whatever (UPL)

We appeared to have a bit of right-back trouble, and Fedoriv joined Roncaglia on the ‘suspended’ list after a straight red against Zapor-whatever, and they quickly took advantage to take the lead. We had a decent to at coming back but just couldn’t get anything.

Hapoel Tel-Aviv 1-3 (1-8) Chornomorets (EL)

We had an easy time of it in Israel. Koz’ban scored a very quick brace after 5 minutes to give us a 2-0 lead, Fabinho making it 3-0 before the half-hour mark. They scored on the stroke of half-time, followed by our 3rd red card of the season (ironic given how we qualified for fair-play reasons) already, Paparatto as the culprit this time. I knew we weren’t going to get much out of the group whoever we got, but it would be interesting if we could have a few decent games against Napoli, Wolfsburg and Bursaspor.

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Dnipro 1-0 Chornomorets (UPL)

We were still in the doldrums in the league, facing a very tough game at Dnipro. Neuwirth had a very bad day, his own-goal being the only one of the game in the 27th minute, then he collected our 4th red card (all straight I think) in 5 games.

Sept 2014

Naftovyk-Ukrnafta 0-5 Chornomorets (UC)

We went to Naftovyk-Ukrnafta in the cup, and took the lead from Paparatto in the 19th minute. Yakovenko, Melnyk (his 10th goal of the season, giving him a 3 goal lead as our top scorer) and Fabinho followed before half-time to make it 4-0. An own-goal in the second-half sealed a 5-0 win.

Chornomorets 3-0 Sevastopol (UPL)

Sevastopol has just 2 points and were a great opportunity to get some steam up in the league, one we very much took. Melnyk gave us a 1st minute lead, followed by Koz’ban, the only player anywhere near him in the club scoring charts this year. Paglialunga’s 54th minute goal sealed a 3-0 win, though we still had less than a point a game.

Napoli 2-2 Chornomorets (EL)

We faced the worst Europa League group game first, at Napoli. Even giving them a game would be considered a positive. They took the lead in the 18th minute, but Rolle equalized 15 minutes later, and within just a few minutes, Fabinho gave us the lead, and they made it 2-2. There were some close calls at both ends but we were definitely the happier with the point.

Metalist 1-2 Chornomorets (UPL)

We went to Metalist and had a bunch of good chances but unluckily went behind at the end of the half. Rolle equalized in the 52nd minute, and a disallowed Metalist goal allowed justice to be done as we got a 73rd minute winner from the unstoppable Melnyk.

Chornomorets 1-0 Nyva Vinnytsya (UC)

We met Nyva Vinnytsya in the cup, and attacked strongly for long spells but only won from a 48th minute Koz’ban goal.

Olympic Donetsk 1-2 Chornomorets (UPL)

We took a while to get going at Olympic Donetsk, and deservedly went behind just before the break. Koz’ban equalized in the 48th minute, and Ordos came off the bench to give us an 82nd minute winner, giving us 3 league wins out of 3 for the month.

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Now that's more like it! When I saw about our European qualification I was pleased because I was looking forward to hopefully getting past a couple of rounds at least against comfortable opposition, and giving us the chance to get firing, which we certainly have. Delighted to go all the way to the group stage and having not expected much, I was also very happy with the Napoli draw, as you can imagine.

The league hadn't been quite so good, but even when we were disappointing, we were often only just not doing enough, in contrast to being genuinely terrible last year, and thankfully there have only been a small number of poor performances from anyone so far (whereas last year they were practically the norm for a while!), so we at least remained solid if not that great. September has definitely seen an upsurge in fortunes, helped by Europe keeping morale high, and out of 6 games in the past month, the Napoli draw was the only one that we didn't win, even if admittedly Metalist were the only other decent opposition. Even during the worst of it in August I was still optimistic (admittedly with Europe helping skew my perception of the season so far) that we were going to do better than that before too long. In the cup we have a very favourable quarter-final draw (Krymteplytsya at home) so have a good chance of being in the semis again, something to look forward to.

The main credit has to go to Yakovenko. We always remained a potentially good side on paper, but only Balashov seemed to shine and the effect of his loss was evident as we had very little life in us for most of last year. I consider Yakovenko to be the player who has given us that drive back, in fact after the Metalist game he broke the club record for most assists in a season already! Melnyk has also been a star. Admittedly about half his goals have been penalties but seeing a defender clearly top scorer for the entire season so far is amusing. Koz'ban has also turned into a reasonably good goal-scorer, and there's plenty of promise in his new partnership with Fabinho, at least if the Brazilian, who has a few European goals already, could actually start scoring in the league as well!

I've enjoyed Chornomorets immensely, aside from last season, and it would have been a pity to give up on it, so it's great to see the team being re-vitalized, and it's fair to say that I have as well. Whatever else happens (as long as it's not a disaster anyway) this season, it's looking like a very enjoyable one.

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Well done scraping into Europe, although it appears your chairman has done you no favours by selling your best player - I think it's apparent that this has had some effect on your team.

Managers have walked for a lot less.

Sorry, somehow I missed this. Anyway I know that a few people on here have resigned after something similar, or a failure to invest or other sign of lack of ambition from the chairman. With a few bids for players coming in this summer I was thinking 'Right Mr. Chairman, do that to me one more time and I'm off'. I certainly wouldn't leave a club for that reason alone, especially one where things had otherwise been going well. I probably wouldn't now but if there are a couple of players I would at least consider walking for if they were sold above my head. It's fair to say that the Balashov sale caused all sorts of problems last year, though we seem to me bouncing back this time, which makes me glad I stayed.

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Well done chap. Looking good and the best part is you've not made it to Ipswich yet ;) long may that continue for my enjoyment of the thread.

On serious note I dont blame you going back a few FM's. FM14 is the first FM ive not purchased for as long as I can remember and at 28 years old its been alooooooong time. FM13 really killed alot of my enjoyment and while im still playing my long term save on fm13 I do miss fm11-fm12 etc. All went down hill from there imo. keep up the good work chap.

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After an average start in the league things really picked up for you in September, hopefully getting that bit of a run together bodes well for the rest of the season. You have done well in Europe so far too, thinking about it I seem to get off to bad starts to the domestic season when there is a lot of qualifying rounds Europe (at least for a few seasons), I put that down to trying and make the group stage a priority and rotating a lot knowing there is time to sort the league form out once September comes, do you think that was the case with you or just simple lack of form carrying on from last year to begin with?

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Good start to the season - Yakovenko must have had some effect! How is his season going statistically?

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Well done chap. Looking good and the best part is you've not made it to Ipswich yet ;) long may that continue for my enjoyment of the thread.

On serious note I dont blame you going back a few FM's. FM14 is the first FM ive not purchased for as long as I can remember and at 28 years old its been alooooooong time. FM13 really killed alot of my enjoyment and while im still playing my long term save on fm13 I do miss fm11-fm12 etc. All went down hill from there imo. keep up the good work chap.

Oh I don't think you have to worry about that for a while ;) It was interesting seeing a thread on GD about people's favourite version, since the OP wanted to go back to a previous one and seeing people talking about the merits of a lot of the recent ones, spread pretty evenly across the past few years, including a lot more love for FM11 as well. For me 09-11 was the peak (FM10 being the 'good even-numbered version'. I've always felt there was a bit of a reverse star trek movie curse going on, not that I didn't like the others, just that there was a pattern of preferring the odd-numbers).

I've been playing since Christmas 2004, getting my first laptop and having the chance to choose a game as well, I went for FM05 (the only version I haven't got on release day), and it's fair to say that proved to be a very good decision. It feels strange having decided not to get any new ones from now on but I still had a great run myself. Interesting that you're almost the same age, as I turn 28 at the end of next month

After an average start in the league things really picked up for you in September, hopefully getting that bit of a run together bodes well for the rest of the season. You have done well in Europe so far too, thinking about it I seem to get off to bad starts to the domestic season when there is a lot of qualifying rounds Europe (at least for a few seasons), I put that down to trying and make the group stage a priority and rotating a lot knowing there is time to sort the league form out once September comes, do you think that was the case with you or just simple lack of form carrying on from last year to begin with?

I'd say a mixture. Given how bad last season was, the bar was set pretty low to begin with so it wasn't that disappointing looking that way. I'd describe the way things went in the earlier league matches as being regularly 'reasonable but not quite good enough' so the slightest negative effect from tiredness would be costing us a few points. I generally don't change things around through tiredness alone (and unless it's condition is really low, like after a knock, I've not used subs for that reason for years), and while I will do it occasionally, including once this season so far, for me 'sticking with what works' team-selection-wise has always been a more successful policy than changing things around to rest players, field weakened teams to prioritize matches/competitions or anything like that.

I remember a couple of years back my Milan team (who hadn't won anything or challenged for the title for literally decades in-game) were competing on all three fronts, people were suggesting I rotate players or choose my priorities and rest accordingly (a policy I dislike as I don't believe in putting your eggs in one basket like that, it's too big a gamble and the benefits are very uncertain. It's not like you're definitely statistically increasing your chances by a certain amount). I stuck to my 'don't change a winning team' approach and we got both the cup and CL, breaking a very long trophy drought, and came very close to the league as well which was still considered doing very well.

Players will often be replaced for a while for performance-related reasons (though I don't enforce that as strictly as I used to, especially after collectively poor games where there's no point deciding that specific players need to go, or when it means replacing someone important, especially if the alternative isn't that good) to give them a rest at some point, so it's not like my first-teamers are subjected to a relentless marathon. Having just a 30-game league season and just a few cup games (even the finalists will only play 5, which isn't much) helps with long-term fatigue not being much of a problem here.

Good start to the season - Yakovenko must have had some effect! How is his season going statistically?

Well, he's already broken the assists record for a season, and has 15 of those in 18 games, with 3 goals (though none in the league), and an average rating of 7.65. Like everyone else, those stats have been boosted considerably by the European games, but even in the league 6 assists in 9 games and a rating of something like 7.18 is still pretty good going. I generally like to have a lot of scout reports in before getting to work on buying players each year (not a luxury I have in the Ukraine, with the season often starting just a few weeks after the reset date, and it was just 1 week this time because of the Europa League!) but if a very highly rated player comes up, I like the look of him myself and I see he's potentially available at a very good price than I do occasionally make an immediate move. Yakovenko was one of those players and it's certainly paying off.

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Oct 2014

Chornomorets 2-1 Bursaspor (EL)

I felt we had a decent chance of getting something against Bursaspor. Yakovenko deservedly gave us the lead after 16 minutes, and though they started pushing hard, Koz’ban gave us another before the break. After a mediocre first season at the club it was great to see the young Ukrainian Denchuk coming into his own in goal, and though they scored with 15 minutes left, which was the least they deserved, we held on for a good win.

Chornomorets 1-0 Nyva Vinnytsya (UPL)

We dominated the game against Nyva Vinnytsya but wasted an embarrassing number of chances (even Yakovenko was having a poor game), while they had the occasional chance that might have punished us. Neuwirth finally gave us our 4th league win in a row after an hour to take us from 10th to 6th.

Shakhtar 2-1 Chornomorets (UPL)

We had to go to Shakhtar, but they were surprisingly quiet until Neuwirth gave us the lead in the 22nd minute. They quickly equalized and got the expected win from a penalty before the break.

Chornomorets 0-1 Wolfsburg (EL)

Wolfsburg were tough and took the lead in the 22nd minute. We lost our fight when Yakovenko got sent off after 50 minutes but at least proved resilient enough to avoid conceding another.

Chornomorets 2-0 Tavria (UPL)

We were rather subdued against Tavria, but Yakovenko finally broke his league duck in the 77th minute, followed by Koz’ban a few minutes later as we got the sort of result we expected in the end.

Krymteplytsya 1-2 (aet) Chornomorets (UC QF)

We went to Krymteplytsya in the cup, and failed to cover ourselves in glory. The lower-league side even took the lead in the 57th minute, and we were only saved with 5 minutes left when Yakovenko set up Koz’ban to give us extra-time, then sent us through in the 101st minute.

Nov/Dec 2014

Illichivets 2-2 Chornomorets (UPL)

A busy October seemed to be taking its toll when we went behind at Illichivets after 20 minutes. Ordos equalized a few minutes later but they took the lead back on the stroke of half-time. We didn’t look like getting anything but Melnyk rescued a late point.

Wolfsburg 2-1 Chornomorets (EL)

We went to Wolfsburg and started off much better than we were in the home game, but missed the suspended Yakovenko and couldn’t keep it up. They comfortably took the lead late in the first-half, getting another in the second, while Pleshakov gave us a 78th minute consolation.

Vorskla 2-0 Chornomorets (UPL)

We went to Vorskla, who we’d play later on in the cup semis, and did the square root of sod all as they took a 7th minute lead. We were so poor that it was amazing that it took a Paglialunga red card to help them get another, in the 70th minute.

Chornomorets 5-1 Zorya (UPL)

We made easy work of Zorya, taking the lead from Paparatto in the 7th minute, than Gladstone. Roberto was making the most of being restored to the team and he got a brace, one in each half. They got a goal back in the 59th minute, which didn’t trouble me too much, and Ordos finished a 5-1 win with a few minutes left.

Karpaty 0-1 Chornomorets (UPL)

A trip to 2nd placed Karpaty was going to be tough, but Arzhanov gave us the lead just before the break. It was an all-round decent performance rather than a particularly good one but we survived a typical FM late scare.

Chornomorets 1-1 Arsenal Kiev (UPL)

Arsenal Kiev was the last league game before the long break, and we ended up going behind in the 28th minute. An own-goal gave us an immediate equalizer but we didn’t do much to try and get a winner until it was too late.

Chornomorets 1-2 Napoli (EL)

A win against Napoli would keep our Europa league qualification hopes alive but that was unlikely to say the least, just mentioning the mathematics of the situation. Arzhanov actually gave us the lead after 5 minutes, but they had the likes of Hamsik and Cavani who I don’t remember featuring in the first game, the latter equalizing after 35 minutes, and the former heading them into the lead after an hour. We actually looked like we might snatch an equalizer but it was a decent effort against such overwhelmingly superior opponents. We also set a new attendance record and more than doubled the gate receipts record.

Bursaspor 3-0 Chornomorets (EL)

The final European game was at Bursaspor, and it was clear that we just weren’t motivated. They easily took a 2-0 lead and finished us off with a late penalty.

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Our much-improves season continues as we've moved well up the table and into an admittedly very competitive hunt for European places. Vorskla won't be easy opponents in the cup semi-final but they're more manageable than Dnipro were the last time we were at this stage, so we have a decent chance of making the final, even if we'd have to face Shakhtar (who face a lower league team in their semi) if we make it. It's a shame the European adventure is over, but we were never likely to challenge for qualification. After the Naples draw and Bursapor win I wonder if we might but the Wolfsburg defeats and the sending off of Yakovenko in the first of those (ruling him out of the rest of the group stage) put paid to that. It was still a long and very enjoyable run stretching back to the start of July and taking in 14 matches.

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Mar 2015

Metalurg Donetsk 2-3 Chornomorets (UPL)

We emerged from the break with a trip to Metalurg Donetsk. We were clearly second-best from the start, somehow taking the lead after half an hour from Gladstone but they quickly equalized and deservedly took the lead. The second-half was another matter entirely as Fabinho came on at the break, ending a long run out of the team after having been dropped in October, and took just 15 seconds to finally get his first league goal for the club, and soon followed it up with another. An injury to Rolle left us with 10 men but we still managed to hold on to a potentially important win.

Chornomorets 3-0 Dynamo Kiev (UPL)

Koz’ban gave us the lead in the 37th minute against Dynamo Kiev, adding another just before he went off injured in the 53rd minute. We seemed to cope fine anyway with Yakovenko (who had been pushed up front) getting a stoppage time 3rd.

Metalurg Zapor-whatever (UPL)

Neuwirth headed in a free-kick in the 2nd minute at Zapor-whatever. We pushed for another and got it from Arzhanov just before half-time. Fabinho was finally hitting good league form and got us a 3rd, with another Neuwirth header in the last minute as we won 4-0.

Apr 2015

Chornomorets 2-1 Vorskla (UC SF)

As expected, Vorskla weren’t easy opponents in the cup semi-final. They put up a lot of resistance before Gladstone gave us the lead late in the first-half. Rebenok made it 2-0 in the 54th minute but they pulled a goal back 10 minutes later and pushed us hard for the rest of the match.

Chornomorets 2-0 Dnipro (UPL)

Our good form continued against Dnipro, though like in the cup it was a case of getting the job done rather than being that impressive. An own-goal gave us a very early lead with Fabinho making it more comfortable after an hour.

Sevastopol 1-2 Chornomorets (UPL)

Koz’ban gave us the lead in the 38th minute at Sevastopol. They equalized in the 51st minute but we were spared embarrassment by a Fabinho winner with 5 minutes left.

Chornomorets 2-0 Metalist (UPL)

We lost Yakovenko for a couple of weeks but managed fine without him against Metalist. Arzhanov gave us the lead in the 5th minute, with Fabinho pretty much wrapping it up by half-time, though they might have got a goal at least in the second-half.

Chornomorets 1-0 Olympic Donetsk (UPL)

We were hoping for a big win against Olympic Donetsk, and though we didn’t get it, a 16th minute Neuwirth header ensured we got the job done. It took us to the verge of securing European qualification, and we closed to 2 points of Dynamo Kiev in 3rd with 4 games to go.

May 2015

Nyva Vinnystya 0-3 Chornomorets (UPL)

Yakovenko was back for the trip to Nyva Vinnytsya, and though he was fairly low-key, the others shone in his presence. Koz’ban gave us the lead in the 20th minute, followed by Fabinho after an hour and Arzhanov finishing a 3-0 win.

Chornomorets 0-2 Shakhtar (UPL)

Shakhtar was a warm-up for the cup final. Unfortunately it wasn’t a good performance. They took the lead in the 8th minute, though we had an equalizer disallowed soon after. They wrapped it up in the 79th minute as they were still far superior to us.

Tavria 0-2 Chornomorets (UPL)

Neuwirth headed in a Yakovenko cross to give us the lead at Tavria on the stroke of half-time. It was one of those ‘should be easier’ games but the Czech defender got another in the 72nd minute.

Chornomorets 1-1 Illichivets (UPL)

We hoped to seal 3rd against Illichivets on the last day. Unfortunately we never looked convincing enough to get the win we needed, though we were denied a penalty at the start of the second-half. Galvao was even sent off after 70 minutes, but we still took the lead from Gladstone. It looked like we’d got 3rd after all but Denchuk of all people put the ball in his own net to give Illichivets a last minute equalizer and hand 3rd place to Dynamo Kiev. It was still the club's second-highest finish (after a 3rd in 2006) since their relative heyday in the mid-90s.

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Shakhtar 1-0 Chornomorets (UC Final)

We were heavy underdogs against Shakhtar in the cup final, but that just meant there was no pressure to win, and I’ve pulled off a bunch of shock cup final wins before. We managed to keep them out in the first-half but sadly posed little threat ourselves. The second-half wasn’t much better and I couldn’t complain when they got a winner in the 82nd minute, deservedly winning a rather unmemorable final.

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What a difference a year makes! Last season was crushingly bad, and while I was never that likely to leave, I was at least thinking of it. The additions last summer (especially Yakovenko) have revitalized us and given us a very strong season on all three fronts. The league started rather slowly as we were engaged in a pretty fruitful European campaign. However we got back up to speed in the autumn, climbing up the league into the European hunt, and then having a fantastic spring (winning 9 out of 10 games, Shakhtar being the obvious exception, before the very late final day draw against Illichivets, the only non-Shakhtar game we didn’t win after the winter break), easily making 4th place our own and only being a last-minute own-goal away from 3rd! While we should have done better in the cup final, a narrow defeat to Shakhtar isn’t too depressing and I’m delighted to have made the final in the first place.

That fantastic spring run was by far the best we’ve looked so far. The defence was far from perfect but was pretty solid, Koz’ban and Fabinho (now he’s hit league form) looks like a strong partnership (even if it could still be better) with the attacking talents of Yakovenko in support and loading the bullets. Rather than just relying on the latter’s excellent form like we did with Balashov the whole team is now performing to their potential at last. A title-challenge seems rather far-fetched, especially with Shakhtar streets ahead of us, and everyone else, but on the evidence of this spring we’re potentially at least the equal of everyone else so we can at least get reasonably close before long. Another top 3 challenge perhaps? I’d probably settle for another European qualification but we’ll see if we at least look like doing better.

Star player: Yakovenko obviously, an admittedly early contender for one of the best signings of the career. Not only did he shine in his own right, he also gave everyone else new life as well.

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Nice to see you enjoying it again, although it looks like the Europa was more of a hindrance than anything else...

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Nice to see you enjoying it again, although it looks like the Europa was more of a hindrance than anything else...

I don't entirely agree. It helped keep morale up during a slow start to the season (even if having a lot of matches may have slightly hindered us I guess), we managed to kick into form in the autumn even after all those qualifiers and with tough group games to deal with and I think the long break helped us have that excellent spring (just as it helped not be quite so rubbish last year) rather than 'no more European games to worry about'. We're only 250-300k in the black and would be quite a bit in the red without the money we got as well. Oh and we'd have got a good coefficient boost, so I feel any negative effects are far outweighed by the positives.

it's a pity to lose the final but still fantastic season overall :applause:

Thanks, hopefully one day we can beat them, though that's going to be a very tough ask.

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much better season there mate, shame about the cup final but it looks like you are back on track :)

Definitely. It's generally gone very well from the start, last year obviously excepted. I knew we were capable of ending up as a very strong side and on recent evidence, a cup win/title challenge (though not necessarily 'win') seems a realistic prospect.

Summer 2015

The budgets were limited, with just 250k for transfers and only a small excess in the wage budget, even boosting expectations to ‘European qualification’, though a few players being released would hopefully give me enough spare for a budget adjustment. As it was, I didn’t want to mess around with a team that was clearly working very well. Having already got young forward (like Fabinho, but from a nation completely at the opposite end of the footballing spectrum), I found a great young midfielder from the start and decided it was worth using most of the budget up on him, though there’s still a little left for any free agent or really cheap deals that come my way. The minimum board expectation was top-half but as mentioned before, I bumped it up to European qualification for some budget. That was my expectation though I was dreaming of a top-3 hunt or something.

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Oh I don't think you have to worry about that for a while ;) It was interesting seeing a thread on GD about people's favourite version, since the OP wanted to go back to a previous one and seeing people talking about the merits of a lot of the recent ones, spread pretty evenly across the past few years, including a lot more love for FM11 as well. For me 09-11 was the peak (FM10 being the 'good even-numbered version'. I've always felt there was a bit of a reverse star trek movie curse going on, not that I didn't like the others, just that there was a pattern of preferring the odd-numbers).

I've been playing since Christmas 2004, getting my first laptop and having the chance to choose a game as well, I went for FM05 (the only version I haven't got on release day), and it's fair to say that proved to be a very good decision. It feels strange having decided not to get any new ones from now on but I still had a great run myself. Interesting that you're almost the same age, as I turn 28 at the end of next month.

My theory had always been my age. At 28 ive got a missus, a child, a house, a mortgage, I manage a real life football club, etc....and therefore of course have less time to play FM. So maybe im partially jealous of those younger than me (like my brother) who live at home and can play FM for hour after hour and thats soured my view point on the latest FM's. At the same time though as someone who has far less time than I use to for FM I find every new release much less 'pick up and play' if you get me. I understand FMC is there but I simply prefer the full fat game....just maybe not the changes or new features that continue to appear with each release. I feel bad as FM14 is the first FM/CM ive never purchased but while I have been exceptionally busy in my personal life its not like im as upset as I thought id be about not purchasing it yet. Likely wait for FM15 now but dont think I can face seeing NCFC in the championship again for another 15 editions of FM :'(

Ive not spoiled the story for myself so im not going to read on from my last comment and see what progress you've made. Half wondering whether a change of country will have occured as well! Keep up good work chap!

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Only three points off CL qualification! Think you can do it this time?

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My theory had always been my age. At 28 ive got a missus, a child, a house, a mortgage, I manage a real life football club, etc....and therefore of course have less time to play FM. So maybe im partially jealous of those younger than me (like my brother) who live at home and can play FM for hour after hour and thats soured my view point on the latest FM's. At the same time though as someone who has far less time than I use to for FM I find every new release much less 'pick up and play' if you get me. I understand FMC is there but I simply prefer the full fat game....just maybe not the changes or new features that continue to appear with each release. I feel bad as FM14 is the first FM/CM ive never purchased but while I have been exceptionally busy in my personal life its not like im as upset as I thought id be about not purchasing it yet. Likely wait for FM15 now but dont think I can face seeing NCFC in the championship again for another 15 editions of FM :'(

Ive not spoiled the story for myself so im not going to read on from my last comment and see what progress you've made. Half wondering whether a change of country will have occured as well! Keep up good work chap!

Well, no change of club, I can tell you that. Last week was unfortunately another occasion when I had a few things to do and found it hard to get back into the FM swing even when I was free again. I feel the same about the features, and about FMC just wouldn't be the same, going too far in the other direction. A slightly older 'full game' like this seems to be by far the best balance.

Only three points off CL qualification! Think you can do it this time?

I think that's a bit of a step too far for now. A top 3 finish might be possible but that's probably the best it's likely to get. At the moment I'm thinking more about trying to get a cup under my belt than a title challenge. It's not impossible but there are a few other sides with a similarly good chance of snatching 2nd (which would be the club's highest ever finish) in what is a highly competitive part of the table so I really doubt we can get that high for now.

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Got a new chairman in the spring, but still the same old nonsense...

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Can't say I'm surprised, but it does seem rather soon as he spent more time waiting to turn 18 and join than he did at the club, plus he's only been good in the spring after a mediocre start and I expected him to get a lot better before clubs came after him. Wouldn't mind as much if we had more than 1 fit forward left, though I was still scouting players so I have the money to strengthen further. Not going to leave so early in the season (we're 2 league games in), and though I'm taking a 'see how it goes' approach I'll probably have calmed down by the time I'd probably make a decision but my patience has pretty much run out now.

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Jul 2015

Illichivets 0-1 Choromorets (UPL)

The season began at Illichivets and saw us take a deserved 12 minute lead from Neuwirth. We weren’t so convincing afterwards but still did enough to claim the win.

Chornomorets 0-2 Karpaty (UPL)

Karpaty were too strong for us, not helped by a genuinely poor performance. They took the lead in the 35th minute and I couldn’t complain when they got another after 70.

Tavria 0-2 Chornomorets (UPL)

We lost Fabinho to Napoli before going to Tavria, but we thankfully easily dominated one of the league’s weaker teams, and took the lead after 35 minutes from Zingaro ‘the San Marino Fabinho’. Koz’ban started the season injured but was just about fit enough to play and gave us a deserved 2nd in the 67th minute, Paglialunga assisting both.

Chornomorets 1-0 Inter Baku (EL)

The Europa League saw us face Inter Baku, a rematch of the same round last season. Melnyk gave us the home leg win from a 20th minute penalty but we really should have got at least one more from our dominance.

Aug 2015

Chornomorets 2-1 Arsenal Kiev (UPL)

The first half against Arsenal Kiev was very dull, but Koz’ban gave us the lead in the 49th minute. They equalized a few minutes later but the rest of the game was mostly ours so it was a relief to get a deserved stoppage time winner from Rolle.

Inter Baku 1-1 (1-2) Chornomorets (EL)

Melnyk’s 5th minute penalty gave us the lead in Baku, pretty much wrapping up the tie. They equalized and might even have got a winner but a 2-1 defeat would have still seen us through on away goals so I was never worried.

Shakhtar 1-2 Chornomorets (UPL)

Going to Shakhtar was always fun (sarcasm mode there), and we went behind in the 8th minute. Zingaro got an equalizer out of nowhere before the break but otherwise they had all the pressure and a winner seemed like a matter of ‘when’ not ‘if’. However Koz’ban somehow struck in the 89th minute to give us a very lucky win!

Chornomorets 3-0 Vorskla (UPL)

An own-goal gave us the lead at the end of an even first-half against Vorskla, but we pushed on in the second-half and late Koz’ban and Gladstone goals gave us a 3-0 win.

Chornomorets 0-0 Sparta Prague (EL)

Sparta Prague would be a tough European test, and they easily dominated our home leg but poor finishing helped us stay in the tie.

Dynamo Kiev 2-2 Chornomorets (UPL)

A trip to Dynamo was a tough one to have between the legs. Antwi had an early red card and unsurprisingly they took the lead in the 19th minute, looking set for an easy win. We had other ideas as Zingaro and Kravchenko struck in the second-half to give us a surprising 2-1 lead! It would have been too much to ask to keep it and they equalized with 5 minutes left but it was still a point I wasn’t expecting.

Sparta Prague 2-0 (2-0) Chornomorets (EL)

We looked better in Prague than we did at home, and even though we went behind in the 28th minute, we looked decent value to snatch a crucial away goal equalizer. Sadly they hit us again in the 77th minute but it had been a good effort.

Sept 2015

Energatyk Burshtyn 2-3 Chornomorets (UC)

We went to Energetyk Burshtyn in the cup, going behind in the 13th minute but Neuwirth quickly equalized and Zingaro gave us the lead before the break. They equalized at the start of the second-half but a 76th minute Yakovenko goal saw us through.

Chornomorets 1-0 Metalist (UPL)

International week denied us Zingaro and Yakovenko among a few others who were missing against Metalist. We still took a deserved win from a Kravchenko header in the 75th minute though we also relied on a disallowed last minute equalizer.

Chornomorets 3-2 (aet) Dynamo Kiev (UC) 200th career match!

We faced Dynamo Kiev in the cup, my 200th career match. They went ahead after 15 minutes, then again after Kravchenko’s 22nd minute equalizer. Koz’ban equalized in the 77th minute to give us extra-time, where momentum was very much on our side and he scored again in the 100th minute to send us through.

Chornomorets 2-1 Metalurg Zapor-whatever (UPL)

Pleshakov got a rare goal in the 13th minute against Zapor-whatever. They equalized in the 54th minute but in a positive example of sensing a goal coming, Paglialunga gave us a 74th minute winner.

Zorya 1-4 Chornomorets (UPL)

Yakovenko gave us the lead after 25 minutes at Zorya. We shipped a disappointing equalizer before the break but Pleshakov restored the lead in the 59th minute. A Melnyk penalty and Koz’ban gave us a 4-1 win that briefly took us top, though with 2 games played more than Karpaty.

Chornomorets 3-0 Zakarpattya (UPL)

We had an easy time against Zakarpattya, taking the lead from Rolle, and getting another from Koz’ban, with a second-half own goal sealing a 3-0 win.

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I was very close to just saying 'sod it' after the Fabinho sale, but staying definitely proved to be a good decision. I had been thinking of leaving at the end of the season, for that and other reasons, but things are definitely going well enough so far to convince me to stay! I must admit I very nearly 'cheated' and posted a screenshot before Karpaty played so I could post a league table with us joint top but they ended up losing allowing me to use a 'proper' one after the round of matches was complete. It's still far too early and the top of the table is far too close to think about targeting 3rd, 2nd or whatever so I'm just enjoying it while it lasts. There have also been some encouraging results like the Shakhtar win and the 10-man Dynamo draw (both in the away games), even if we lucked out a lot on both of them, and some other games besides.

The cup also provides cheer with Shakhtar and Karpaty already out, along with our elimination of Dynamo, and while we can't get too carried away about facing the only all-Premier League tie at Arsenal Kiev, and with Dnipro as another strong side still in, it's a promising opportunity to go for it. We're also the only top-5 side that didn't make the European group stages which might be worth a handful of dropped points across our rivals. This could well end up being a season to remember.

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Oct/Nov 2015

Metalurg Donetsk 2-3 Chornomorets (UPL)

For some reason (probably because it’s the start of a new update, even though it’s part of the same FM session) I had a bad feeling about going to Metalurg Donetsk. They seemed to be unfounded when Zingaro became the first Sammarinese player to get a hat-trick in the Premier League (well, how likely is there to be another?), all by the 22nd minute. However the defence earned themselves a massive ‘F’ when letting them back I for 3-2 by the half-hour mark. I was worried we’d let the win slip away but we thankfully held on.

Nyva Vinnytsya 1-3 Chornomorets (UPL)

I didn’t expect too much trouble at Nyva Vinnytsya, and Kravchenko gave us an 8th minute lead, but they managed to equalize and though Koz’ban restored the lead on the half-hour mark, I didn’t rest easy until Kravchenko sealed a 3-1 win in the 59th minute.

Chornomorets 1-0 Volyn (UPL)

Volyn was one to file under ‘comfortable but nowhere near as much as it should have been’, as we were easily on top but only won from a 23rd minute Melnyk penalty.

Chornomorets 0-0 Dnipro (UPL)

Dnipro were a potentially tough test, and indeed we were fortunate not to be behind at the break. We failed to really rouse ourselves, dropping points for only the 3rd time this season. Thankfully Dynamo and Karpaty drew with each other though Shakhtar were still within striking range.

Arsenal Kiev 0-4 Chornomorets (UC QF)

A busy run of games included the cup trip to Arsenal Kiev, but that ended up being easy. Neuwirth gave us a 4th minute lead, with Zingaro and Kravchenko making it 3-0 by half-time, the former scoring a 4th and missing a stoppage time penalty.

Chornomorets 0-0 Illichivets (UPL)

Illichivets were bottom of the league but with Koz’ban suspended and Pleshakov and Paglialunga going off injured we were short on attacking imagination. We only livened up late on, too late to prevent two disappointing points dropped.

Karpaty 0-0 Chornomorets (UPL)

Karpaty away was probably the toughest game we had left, but we held on for a 3rd 0-0 in a row, which was ok in game like this but not so useful overall. It looked like we’d have to settle fo a 4th 0-0 against Tavria, but Zingaro snatched the win in the last minute.

Arsenal Kiev 1-1 Chornomorets (UPL)

A trip to Arsenal Kiev was the last game before the winter break. We had 2 goals disallowed before finally taking the lead from Koz’ban in the 27th minute. It wasn’t enough as they equalized in 50th minute, leading to a 4th draw in 5 games.

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An update of 2 halves I think. We started off getting a bit of a lead off the back of some comfortable games, but after a hectic end to October and a couple of tricky games we dropped off a bit, with 4 draws in 5 games, including 3 0-0's in a row. Two of those were 'survival' points in tough games but the other two were disappointing, especially Arsenal Kiev with the multiple disallowed goals. Without that I might have believed we were in with a decent title shout, but I think it's a bit of a long shot. The first game after the winter break is actually Shakhtar at home, which is obviously going to be massive and would put us back in it if we won. We also have our home game with Dynamo to come and have already had both games against Karpaty which would help in the hunt for 2nd or at least 3rd. Hopefully the winter break rest will help us return to form like it's done in previous years.

In the cup, we inevitably drew Dnipro (clearly the strongest of the remaining sides) in the semi-finals, something I sort of predicted even before the quarters were played. Having been slightly lucky to draw at home in the league it's not going to be easy but should we manage to get past them, Nyva Vinnytsya or Illichivets would be potentially more manageable final opponents. There's definitely a sense of optimism around and it would be a shame if we remained empty handed for long.

In other news, I've been linked to a club for the first time in the career (at least that I've noticed), Aris Salonika specifically, which is a bit random (an English or Ukrainian club would have made more sense) but it shows that I can get a club in a decent league when I leave, even if it's no longer going to be at the end of this season like I was intending for a while.

Edit: Always nice to see, a first major player award for the career I think...

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Only three points off CL qualification! Think you can do it this time?

You're like the anti-jinx :D While there's still over a 3rd of the season to go we're looking far more likely to get it than I thought we would. You also predicted my Europa League win with Ipswich in my last career as well (I knew there had been at least one previous occasion when you made an optimistic prediction that came true, I've only just remembered it was specifically that and checked the thread to confirm it (I have my 3 successful FMCU careers saved to my favourites list)).

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No No No!!!!!

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That does it, I've had enough of this nonsense. I was delighted when we got a consortium takeover in the spring, simply because it meant a different chairman, but this guys's even worse than the last. I was angry enough at the 'double value' threshold for chairman interference (though it only seems to apply to the young players as I've managed to reject much higher relative bids for others) but Zingaro barely touches one and half, even if there were higher bids from other clubs. We were only just breaking even in the summer, and in the red at the time the bids came through but only by a few hundred quid so that in itself doesn't excuse it. Antwi wasn't that important but Zingaro definitely was and that was insultingly low for a player like him. I had a feeling he'd be sold over my head before long, and I had already decided that I might walk if he did, but for both my main summer signings to be sold over my head after only half a season...

I will stay until the end of the season, but as I initially intended, I'll leave at the end. I've been pretty patient as you'll all agree but two players in one go (and 3 this season) is just more than I can handle, irrespective of the players and fees involved. So much for my optimism about 2nd/the cup. It also leaves us a bit short numerically and I'll need to find a forward asap. If it wasn't for how well things are going I'd be out the door right now but I might as well see what still looks like a good season through to the end. That said, Koz'ban has been the target of a couple of big bids from Metalist (I never thought I'd be so relieved to see a player get injured, especially as he'll easily be fine when the season resumes and it means no more bids), and while he's 'too old' for the interference to kick in, and his value is pretty high, just in case it happens I would indeed feel like walking immediately. Thankfully that's very unlikely.

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Just turn a few of those draws in to wins and you'll be flying mate, really good start to the season on the whole :thup:

The draws only crept in late on, otherwise we had only dropped 5 points in almost half a season. Definitely far better than I expected even with that and hopefully we can mostly keep it up.

Just as I was being positive that happened :(

I don't blame you for wanting to leave, there has to be a time when enough is enough

Definitely, after the Fabinho sale I was pretty close to leaving (in fact I might have if it happened a little earlier in the summer) and knew that it wouldn't take much after that, not necessarily a player sale, possibly a disappointing season as well, though it's been anything but as it turns out. Both bids came at the same time (though Zingaro had follow up bids so he moved a little later, one as relatively high as 1.7M which shows how stupid the chairman was accepting the first one just like that, even if it wasn't his fault that Zingaro chose the offer with pretty much the lowest fee) and you can imagine the disbelieving cursing that went though my mind when I saw that!

In a way I should thank the chairman for making it such an easy choice to make. When things have got to this stage, with two players being sold at once (and after only half a season no less) you know it's gotten way out of hand and there's little point trying to continue with such counter-productive forces acting against you so much. There's only 12 games left (13 if we make the cup final) and we're still in a very strong position which is why I feel I might as well finish the season (I don't really like changing clubs mid-season anyway, especially leaving) and see how we go. That'll make it 6 years at Chornomorets, all but one going really well so I have plenty of good things to remember them by and it's a pity having to leave for other reasons.

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Solid start and only four points off the top! KUTGW mate :thup:

Thanks, probably a bit much to catch up to such a dominant side like Shakhtar though, especially now.

As if there weren't enough layers of stupidity to the Zingaro transfer especially, the lack of the word 'initial' in the message suggests that's all we got, without any future clauses, which for such a talented young player is unthinkable. Maybe it just meant a lack of future installments. In fact after starting to write this, I loaded up the game with one of the autosave files so I could check (the transfer centre thankfully lists the details) and there was a 25% future transfer profit clause attached (which for such a young talented player like that signed for so little could mean a lot of money now I think about it, maybe 5M or more) and one for a friendly, and it's good to see that the chairman isn't quite that idiotic but it really doesn't help us at all right now so I don't feel any better in the slightest.

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Feb/Mar 2016

Chornomorets 0-1 Shakhtar (UPL)

The league resumed with a critical game against Shakhtar, but we were unfortunately on the back foot, with a few chances to snatch something on the break. We very nearly got away with it but they struck a winner in added time, which was disappointing, but a fair result in the end. That put them 7 points ahead of us with 10 games left and I felt they were going to comfortably win the league now.

Vorskla 3-3 Chornomorets (UPL)

I had signed 2 forwards in February, the Romanian Tucudean from Rapid Bucharest, and the Uruguayan Britos from Zrinjski (they’re Bosnian), and an injury to Koz’ban sustained against Shakhtar meant they were up front together at Vorskla, and they both took their chance. Unfortunately we went behind in the 7th minute but Arzhanov equalized in the 33rd minute and Britos gave us the lead a few minutes later. They made it 2-2 in the 52nd minute but it took just 5 for Tucudean to make it 3-2 to us. Unfortunately the defence had a very bad day and conceded a late equalizer to cost us 2 points but it was otherwise a very promising showing.

Chornomorets 0-2 Dynamo Kiev (UPL)

We still couldn’t catch a break against Dynamo Kiev, having plenty of chances for most of an open game but they were the ones who eventually found the target in the 75th minute, getting another 10 minutes later.

Metalurg Zapor-whatever 1-2 Chornomorets (UPL)

We now had just a single win in 8 league games and needed to change that at Zapor-whatever. Tucudean gave is a 9th minute lead, soon getting another. He had a goal disallowed, Britos having suffered the same fate, and having pulled a goal back from a penalty they looked perilously close to snatching a cruel equalizer.

Chornomorets 1-0 (aet) Dnipro (UC SF)

Dnipro would be a tough semi-final, but we looked bright even if we failed to find a way through. They gradually started pushing, especially when an Arzhanov injury reduced us to 10 men, but we only just snatched it at the end of extra-time from Koz’ban, giving us a winnable final against Nyva Vinnytsya.

Metalist 1-0 Chornomorets (UPL)

With the cup final secured I wasn’t so bothered with the league, which was just as well as we went to Metalist and put in a very poor performance, losing to a 19th minute goal as we dropped to 5th. Thankfully aside from a trip to Dnipro we were done with the tougher teams.

Apr/May 2016

Zorya 0-1 Chornomorets (UPL)

Zorya was supposed to be an easy win but while they didn’t give us any trouble, there was no sense of urgency. We finally turned up the pressure later on and got the win from Koz’ban in the 83rd minute.

Zakarpattya 0-0 Chornomorets (UPL)

The trip to Zakarpattya was another game where we should have won comfortably, but they gave us more trouble and we couldn’t find a way though this time. We were back to 4th after Zorya but top 3 hopes were fading fast.

Chornomorets 3-0 Metalurg Donetsk (UPL)

More chances came and went against Metalurg Donetsk, but Arzhanov came on at half-time and showed everyone else how it’s done. He set up Koz’ban less than 2 minutes into the second-half, then scored himself for 2-0 and set up Kravchenko late on for a 3-0 win that was our best performance in a long while.

Volyn 2-5 Chornomorets (UPL)

We seemed back on form at Volyn, with Koz’ban and Tucudean giving us a 2-0 lead after just 4 minutes. The Romanian scored again in the 18th minute, and after they had a goal disallowed, he completed his hat-trick before the break. They pulled a goal back, which was actually important as a 4-goal win would put us 3rd on goals scored with 2 games left, and though Koz’ban restored the margin a Kravchenko own-goal with 5 minutes left handed the advantage back to Karpaty.

Chornomorets 0-0 Nyva Vinnytsya (UPL)

Nyva Vinnytsya was a warm-up for the cup final, and unfortunately we failed miserably to really threaten, aside froma few missed chances. We needed to do much better in the final. We entered the last day of the season in 3rd, a point ahead of Karpaty with both of us facing tough games.

Dnipro 1-0 Chornomorets (UPL)

We went to Dnipro while they were at home to Dynamo. As expected, we were firmly on the back foot and went behind in the 24th minute, while Karpaty were already ahead. Karpaty went 2-0 ahead early in the second-half, but Dynamo fought back to 2-2 by the 73rd minute, which as things stood would give us 3rd with 1 point of goal difference, and just a single more goal scored, so we could also afford to concede another, but not a 3rd. Thankfully things stayed as they were, though not for want of trying on Dnipro’s part, and having lost 3rd last season due to a very late own-goal we claimed by just a single goal.

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Chornomorets 3-2 Nyva Vinnytsya (UC Final)

I hoped to crown my time at Chornomorets with the cup, which would give me my first major trophy. Nyva Vinnytsya were a far weaker side on paper but we had been impotent in our recent league game. Unlike against Shakhtar last year, losing would be a massive disappointment for both reasons. Thankfully we had no trouble this time. Tucudean headed in a free-kick in the 5th minute, followed by a long-range effort from Yakovenko (who has otherwise been very disappointing of late and might not be playing if Arzhanov was fit). Gladstone got another header after 50 minutes, though they immediately got a goal back, scoring again with 15 minutes left as they had far more fight in them than I expected, but the cup was still ours.

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It was a season of two halves. We were probably the best team of 2015 (or something meaningless like that) as we had a storming first-half, getting right into a title challenge and even leading the table for a bit, as well as inflicting Shakhtar’s only league defeat of the season. However even before the winter break, we started to wobble after the half-way mark and slipped badly from top to 5th in March. However we sort of gathered ourselves, and a poor end to the season from Karpaty put us back in the top 3 hunt, and we only just snatched it. Equalling the club’s highest ever league finish and getting their first cup for 22 years is hardly a bad way to bow out.

It was a pity that things had to end at Chornomorets, as it has been a great start to the career. It was certainly a good run, lasting over 200 matches in 6 seasons, taking in a promotion, a couple of cup finals, a couple of trophies, a few European runs, and a lot of positive memories. However the chairman interference was a bit of an issue and eventually reached a point I wasn’t going to put up with. Given how unlikely we were to challenge Shakhtar, it’s fair to say that it went just as well as I could have realistically imagined it. Definitely a job well done.

Star Player: Koz'ban was the only first-team forward who I had all year long, and while far from excellent he still gave us good service, that very 120th minute goal against Dnipro in the cup semi final being probably the most important of the career.

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There was a rumour throughout the second half of the season that I was ‘in the mix’ for the job at a fairly big name club, who were allegedly going to let their manager leave. The rep boost provided by the cup win should boost my chances of getting it should that prove to be true, though even then I might not necessarily take it, especially as a major international tournament summer (the Euros in this case) always leads to a bit of a managerial reshuffle, and I feel I can get a pretty good club even if I don’t get or decide to take the job with the mystery big name.

I was a manager in demand. Swedish club Orebro gave me an offer right off the bat, but I wasn't interested. Ferencvaros were a grand old name but aside from the Hungarian League cup being one of my least favourite competitions there was very little on offer budget wise so it didn't appeal. However this is an interesting offer...

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I'm generally a very decisive person when it comes to FM (though anything but in real life), and have only once ever felt like I've needed to ask the forum for an opinion (eventually going for the choice I was leaning towards anyway) but this is a rare exception. They've actually just been relegated, I can definitely do much better, and in the longer-term, competing with Sparta is likely to be similarly tough to Shakhtar in the Ukraine, and in my experience the league you've just left plays a major part in your employability even with high rep so I'll need to win something to avoid being worse off than I am now in that regard. But there's still something interesting about this. They're a decent name in a country I've hardly ever been in, I can do a similar thing to Chornomorets in terms of quickly taking a reasonably big club back to the top division and being reasonably competitive, and they clearly have a bit of money and budget space. Plus I have plenty of time to go for the bigger leagues later. There are definitely plenty of arguements for and against. As I said I can probably get far better sides (including the mystery big side I mentioned in the last paragraph) but there's something appealing about this. I've decided to leave it as it is (and probably can't play more than briefly tomorrow so I'll be taking a job and continuing to a reset date at best), partly to think about it, as there's a lot to consider, but to also to take the opportunity to see what people say.

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I'd go. you've done a fantastic job with Chornomorets but with the chairman letting you down so many times I would say stick to your guns and leave. I would take the job you've been offered too, it's a fantastic job with great facilities at a bigger club. I wouldn't be worried about dropping a division with Slavia, I did it at Red Star on FM13 if you remember? and I got promotion and Europe whilst in that division. Even if you only got promotion you'll still end up being one of the bigger sides when you return anyway, so my advice is go for it but it is your choice :)

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I'd go. you've done a fantastic job with Chornomorets but with the chairman letting you down so many times I would say stick to your guns and leave. I would take the job you've been offered too, it's a fantastic job with great facilities at a bigger club. I wouldn't be worried about dropping a division with Slavia, I did it at Red Star on FM13 if you remember? and I got promotion and Europe whilst in that division. Even if you only got promotion you'll still end up being one of the bigger sides when you return anyway, so my advice is go for it but it is your choice :)

I had already left Chornomorets, right after the cup final. After January it was inevitable as indeed I said it would be so that wasn't an issue.

Regards Slavia, the fact that I didn't quickly reject it shows how tempted I was. I've always loved taking over clubs with great potential (often severely underachieving) and trying to take them far back up (even the famous 'Magical Milan' were born from a team that had been in mid-table mediocrity for years), even if it means taking a bit of a step down, and this would be a prime opportunity to do that. However it's something that I'd prefer to do with a lot more success behind me. The 'mystery big club' I was strongly linked with was PSV (who finished 2nd, so hardly fallen on hard times), and even if I couldn't quite get that it's an indication of how much of a step up I could potentially take. The relegation isn't a one-off either, as they were only up for 2 years after their last 2-season spell in the Second Division, and are only 12th in real life (finishing 7th last year), even if their last (back to back) league titles came just 2 seasons before the start of this version. Their troubles are certainly a lot longer-term than a bad season or two.

But...

I fully agree about the size and potential of the club, and their facilities are definitely excellent. Plus it doesn't look like I have to worry about being stuck in smaller leagues for years on end this career, and there's plenty of time for the bigger clubs later, so I might as well take in the Czech leagues before I do hit the 'big time'. If things go well I could achieve a lot (a variety of trophies being one of my main career goals, not simply quality or quantity), especially as Sparta aren't as dominant I feared. They may have easily won the league this year but it's their first in 5 years, a Jablonec side managed by Diego Maradona (who was also briefly at Slavia) of all people having 3 titles in the 6 seasons so far in the save. Obviously a title challenge is rather a long way off at this point but it's a realistic goal eventually. Slavia are a club with great history and the prospect of making them successful again was in the end far too much for me to ignore. There may be far better jobs I could take out there, but few could be anywhere near as interesting and potentially rewarding, and in the end there were too many things luring me in for me to feel like I could reject. It's a bit of a gamble in the short-term but one that could easily work out very well.

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Chapter 2: Bohemian Rhapsody (Slavia Prague)

I have to hit the ground running here, with the board unsurprisingly expecting to be promoted as champions. However a transfer budget of over 2M and over 10kpw spare in a wage budget of almost 45kpw is plenty to work with so I should have no trouble getting in some extra quality if it's available. Slavia have a great history. Often second fiddle to Sparta (with rather a lot of 2nd place finishes to their name) but with a decent haul of leagues and cups in their own right, as well as a couple of wins in the Mitropa Cup, which was a sort of Central European Champions League in the inter-war years when it was probably one of the strongest regions in world football, hard as it may be to imagine now. Hopefully I can make them successful once again.

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Glad you made this choice, there was something about it in the way you talked in your last post that made it seem like a good choice for you. Good luck :thup:

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Glad you made this choice, there was something about it in the way you talked in your last post that made it seem like a good choice for you. Good luck :thup:

Well one of the reasons why last year's career was 'lower league clubs only' was because of how much I like taking over bigger clubs who are struggling, giving me plenty of opportunity to pick them back up. In the end it didn't quite work out that way, with Fiorentina (which ended up being a disaster) being the only move that really qualified, though I was excited about potentially taking over a Partizan Belgrade side who hadn't just been relegated, they were stuck in mid-table mediocrity in the lower division and would have been a dream come true had the vacancy opened up (they still had the manager who won their last league title it's beyond me how he was able to survive such a fall from grace).

It is at least partly pragmatic, as I want to have the best opportunity I can to take over a club and improve them on where I found them, a far tougher task at most other clubs, but I can be pretty romantic at times and there's still genuine appeal and pride in potentially helping restore a club like Slavia from such a low point. Whatever the reasons, it's the sort of thing I'd always find hard to pass up on, and in the end that gave me too many reasons to go for it for me to really be able to decline, even though it took a while to be absolutely sure.

Summer 2016

Like at Chornomorets, the first step would be a quick promotion, not least as we were 6-4 favourites with the next favourites being 10-1! The squad should easily be good enough, but I wanted to see if we could improve even further, though good enough players would be thin on the ground. There was certainly no shortage of depth, aside from up front, and while I’d be keeping everyone for now, deciding who to get rid of later might be tough. We were restricted by only having 3 non-eu players on the pitch at the same time (much like the 7-foreigner rule in Ukraine, which is in a way more annoying than a flat squad cap as the price for the extra flexibility is that squad management and substitutions can be a bit of a juggling act) which was a pity with a lot of Brazilians featuring as potential targets.

As luck would have it we just had one player in the squad who counted as non-EU (despite a few Brazilians, Montenegrins and a Moldavian) which gave me a lot more room that I thought I had. This enabled me to turn my focus to Africa, where in my experience if you’re in the middling European leagues you can get a few very good young players a year for very little (usually West Africa), and end up with them being sold for far larger sums which also makes for an excellent financial model as well as merely great footballing sense. This time a couple of the best players were suffering from long-term injuries and the only signing from that reason wasn’t that cheap but hopefully that can still work.

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Jul/Aug 2016

Jirny 0-6 Slavia Prague (CFC)

The season started just as early as in Ukraine, with an easy cup match at non-league Jirny. We didn’t do much early on but young forward Valasek gave us the lead in the 28th minute and added another 6 minutes later. Big-money signing Juninho made it 3-0 in the 40th minute, with midfielder Gerson putting us 4-0 ahead on the hour mark and Moldovan winger Patras getting a 5th just a couple of minutes later. Valasek had a 3rd goal disallowed but still deservedly clinched his hat-trick in the last-minute.

Viktoria Zizkov 0-7 Slavia Prague (CD2)

We started the league season at Viktoria Zizkov, the other relegated side, who seemed to think they were Serbian judging from the fact that a majority of their starting line-up were of that nationality. They had most of the play early on, but that didn’t stop playmaker Ildemar (probably the best player I inherited) from giving us a 17th minute lead, and promising young defender Srom extending the lead in the 33rd minute, even if it looked a little generous. That changed when Valasek scored at the start of the second-half, and even though we then had a defender sent off, an own-goal and one from Patras made it 5-0 by the 57th minute. Two more Valasek goals finished off a 7-0 win that was a triumph of efficiency as opposed to any sort of superiority.

Slavia Prague 2-1 Pribram (CD2)

We needed far more chances to take the lead against Pribram, eventually managing it from Valasek after half an hour. We seemed to drop off afterwards which was always bound to be costly and they equalized from an own-goal in the 82nd minute meaning our keeper’s currently been beaten more times by himself than the opposition, but veteran defender Prochazka gave us a stoppage time winner.

Opava 1-1 Slavia Prague (CD2)

We were pretty flat at Opava and were punished when they took the lead in first-half stoppage time. We rallied ourselves enough later to earn an equalizer from left-back Ogar, meaning all 4 signings have scored if you count the own-goal against Pribram. It also kept us top as I aimed to try and stay there all season long.

Slavia Prague 4-0 Slovacko (CD2)

We had a comfortable time against Slovacko. A Patras penalty gave us the lead after 10 minutes, and Valasek got another before the break. Ildemar and Juninho scored in the second-half as we won 4-0.

Vitkovice 2-1 Slavia Prague (CD2)

We went to Vitkovice who were just appoint behind us, and looked good for a while but couldn’t get a goal and went behind in the 27th minute. Ogar equalized at the start of the second half but sloppy defensive work let them in to get a winner and go top ahead of us.

Roudnice nad Labem 0-7 Slavia Prague (CFC)

We went to Roudnice nad Labem in the cup and picked up another big morale-boosting win. Valasek gave us the lead in the first minute, followed by Srom in the 10th. Valasek made it 3-0 in the 16th minute, and Juninho had a 4th disallowed but we eventually got it in the 32nd minute, Gerson heading in a free-kick. Valasek was earning himself the nickname of ‘the Czech Balashov’ (from me anyway) and completed a hat-trick in the 50th minute. Prochazka made it 6-0 on the hour mark and a late Gerson second finished off a 7-0 win. Like our first-round win, it was pretty meaningless given the no-hoper opposition but it was nice to see such a strong showing.

Sept 2016

Slavia Prague 0-0 Trinec (CD2)

Trinec at home should have been easy but while our dominance was total we couldn’t find a goal, slipping 4 points behind the top 2.

Sparta Prague B 0-2 Slavia Prague (CD2)

Our first reckoning with Sparta was at Sparta B, after after Trinec I was relieved to see Ildemar give us the lead in the 13th minute. A lot of chances came and went and I was worried when we were on the back foot in the second-half but Juninho finished the game off in the 76th minute.

Slavia Prague 4-0 Sezimovo Usti (CD2)

Patras was back against bottom club Sezimovo Usti, and showed why we’d missed him during a few weeks out through injury. He set up Prochazka in the first minute, scoring himself on the half-hour mark and again assisting Valasek in the 55th minute, the latter scoring again in a 4-0 win that left us just 1 point behind both of the top 2.

Slavia Prague 1-1p Viktoria Plzen (CFC)

After two cup rounds that were mere formalities, Viktoria Plzen, 2nd in the First Division, would be a very different challenge. They didn’t actually look any better than us on paper, and indeed we dominated early on, but sadly not for the first time faded away without a goal. We still had enough in the tank to take a 65th minute lead from Juninho, but they headed in a free-kick in the 72nd minute. The last minutes of the game were hectic but it went to penalties (without extra-time). Both teams scored in the first round, but Vyskocil saved their 2nd and allowed Ogar to give us the lead. Sub forward Hurka unfortunately missed our 3rd to level things up, the Juninho has his penalty saved but Vyskocil deliver another save in the last round and defender Krejci scored to take it to sudden death. The next two rounds saw a 100% success rate but right-back Zemlik missed to send us out.

Karvina 0-0 Slavia Prague (CD2)

We had a great chance to go top again when we went to Karvina. Prochazka had a 6th minute header disallowed, but the chances soon fizzled out and we were left fuming with a 0-0 draw.

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The Zizkov win made it appear that promotion would be just as easy as I expected, and while we've been clearly superior both on paper and for at least part of most games we've struggled to turn that into a few more wins, instead finding ourselves in a really tight battle at the top. It's a battle we should comfortably win in the end but it's still a little underwhelming given there's no excuse for not being clearly top. The cup game against Plzen was encouraging. 2nd in the First Division (and champions about 4 years ago) and we were very much their equals, as disappointing as it obviously was to go out on sudden death penalties. It's a promising sign of what we're capable of already, if only we could finish teams off when we have the chance.

Generally I don't update on Saturdays as I have a bit of a pub lunch tradition which obviously doesn't leave me feeling much like playing most of the time but as it's only just over a month until a winter break even longer than Ukraine, which is also conveniently the half-way point, it's probably worth doing that in the morning.

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Oct/Nov 2016

Usti nad Labem 2-3 Slavia Prague (CD2)

We went to Usti nad Labem and took the lead from Patras in the 6th minute. Ogar missed a penalty but as it was awarded for a professional foul and they went down to 10 men I wasn’t too worried, and sure enough Krejci extended in the lead in the 32nd minute. They pulled a goal back before the break, and actually looked like they’d come back in the second-half, to the point that I put my mug of tea down to avoid spilling it in frustration if they equalized, which they did in the 79th minute. It’s fair to say it was an embarrassing lead slip but Valasek immediately struck to give us a win (and broke a new goals for a season record, just as Patras has for assists in September), and take us to the top of the league, though there were 4 clubs who were just 2 points behind.

Slavia Prague 1-1 Znojmo (CD2)

Znojmo were one of those chasing clubs and unfortunately we had to face them without a few key players (international duty), including Patras, Valasek and keeper Vyskocil. We had a goal disallowed (which is always likely to be costly), but Juninho gave us the lead in the 28th minute. We almost held on but let slip an equalizer with a few minutes left, still staying top on goal difference (in a 3-way tie!).

Slavia Prague 1-1 Dukla Prague (CD2)

Dukla Prague were joint-top with us (and Sokolov). At first it looked like we’d see another 10 or so chances with no result but Valasek gave us the lead in the 20th minute. It didn’t seem like it would be enough and predictably they equalized after 70 minutes.

Hlucin 0-3 Slavia Prague (CD2)

We finally got a comfortable win again at Hlucin. Valasek gave us a 12th minute lead (his 10th league goal in 12 games), and Patras (normally the bullet-loader) extended it in the 57th, with Juninho wrapping up a 3-0 win.

Slavia Prague 2-0 Sokolov (CD2)

Srom gave us the lead in the 38th minute against Sokolov, though later went off injured. Valasek finished off a 2-0 win in the 64th minute as at least some flair has been sacrificed for efficiency.

Vlasim 0-1 Slavia Prague (CD2)

The last game before a 4 month (!) winter break was at Vlasim, and we were surprisingly on the back foot in the first half, slightly lucky not to be behind. Hurka came on for a disappointing Valasek and gave us the win in the 55th minute, but after so many games where we were unlucky not to win, for once we were relatively lucky to have done so.

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That's a bit better. The team had been set up to be very attacking and creative, not only because of the (theoretical) protection afforded by a flat back 5 but because we have a team that's easily the best in the league and we need to let that quality flourish. However maybe we'd been over-egging the pudding so I toned down creative freedom and went 'rigid', which seemed to have worked. We're still not quite taking teams down as well as we should but the only draws this time were against teams who were right with us in the league, and even though we lost leads both times, with goal-difference working in our favour (quite a few times this season we've been top on that alone) the important thing was to stop them jumping ahead and anything else would have been a bonus. As expected, a lot of the league are taking points off each other while we're remaining reasonably consistent (lots of draws that should have been wins aside) and that's helping us finally take control at the top, a position I don't really expect to see us throwing away now.

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Not perfect but you are doing what is needed, maybe the winter break will be a good thing as it gives the side time to gel in training without any pressure

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Here comes another anti-jinx...

You're going to stroll to promotion after the winter break :thup:

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Mar 2017

Viktoria Zizkov 0-5 Slavia Prague (CD2)

The league resumed against Zizkov, and we took the lead from Valasek in the 32nd minute. For most of the game that looked to be that but Valasek scored again in the 72nd minute and go 2 more in the next 10 minutes, Ogar completing a 5-0 win, which much like the opening day was more about efficiency than superiority. Either that or their defenders are useless.

Slavia Prague 3-1 Slovacko (CD2)

A 10th minute own-goal gave us the lead against Slovacko. It was a solid but uninspired performance, with Illdemar making it 2-0 from a 57th minute penalty. They scored in the 75th minute, and looked like they might equalize but Patras made it safe in the 89th minute.

Priban 1-1 Slavia Prague (CD2)

We struggled to convince at Pribram, even after Valasek gave us the lead in the 25th minute. Their equalier early in the second-half came as no surprise to anyone and they might even have gone on and won.

Slavia Prague 0-1 Opava (CD2)

We wasted a lot of first-half pressure against Opava before going behind to an own-goal after 40 minutes. We kept knocking on the door in the second half but couldn’t even equalize. It takes some special incompetence to lose to a team that only had a single shot that wasn’t even on target!

Apr 2017

Slavia Prague 3-0 Vitkovice (CD2)

Vitkovice had delivered our only other defeat of the season, and things weren’t looking so good this time either. They had an 8th minute penalty that they thankfully missed, then Ildemar got sent off, well done Ildemar (cue sarcastic clapping). Valasek squeezed us ahead in the 39th minute, but we faced an uphill battle to hold on to it. Most of the second-half was a rear-guard action but Juninho struck two goals in the last few minutes for a very misleading 3-0 win.

Trinec 0-0 Slavia Prague (CD2)

The trip to Trinec started off as one of those ‘lots of noise but no end result’ games, then Gerson and Juninho got sent off either side of half-time. If my Brazilians would stop getting sent off, that’d be great. We were able to hold on to 0-0 despite the 2-man disadvantage and might have snatched something at the end.

Slavia Prague 2-0 Sparta Prague B (CD2)

Sparta B looked like heading in the opposite direction but despite a lot of chances we only beat them with headers, Prochazka after 40 minutes and young defender Holub in the 80th, both delivered by Patras.

Sezimovo Usti 0-2 Slavia Prague (CD2)

Valasek gave us an early lead at Sezimovo Usti, but we had another disallowed after 15 minutes and were soon down to 10 men after a straight red for right-back Zemlik and they threatened to equalize for a while. Valasek got another a couple of minutes before the break and we were finally comfortable from that point on.

Slavia Prague 0-0 Usti nad Laben (CD2)

We were appallingly flat in the first half against Usti nad Labem, especially since they played most of the game a man down. We upped the tempo in the second-half but only 1 shot in 12 was on target and we had to settle for a disappointing 0-0.

May/June 2017

Znojmo 0-1 Slavia Prague (CD2)

The trip to Znojmo was an important top of the table clash, where they could go top if they won. Valasek went off injured early on, though would thankfully only be out for a week, but we still had some good spells for a lot of the match. In the middle of the second-half they took total control of the match and besieged us hard but Patras somehow snuck a winner in the 85th minute, giving us a 5 point lead with that many games left.

Slavia Prague 2-0 Karvina (CD2)

We could extend our lead further against 3rd place Karvina and took a 9th minute lead from Valasek, who had recovered from his injury just in time, and in any case he’d have had to be in far worse condition for me to leave him out. We could easily have had another before he went off injured in the second-half but Juninho delivered that second goal right at the end. We were now 8 points clear of 3rd with 4 games left and almost certain to go up, which was just as well as this time Valasek would be out for 3-4 months with a torn calf muscle and would probably miss the start of next season as well as the rest of this. Ouch. :(

Dukla Prague 0-2 Slavia Prague (CD2)

Juninho had a goal disallowed after half an hour at Dukla Prague but just 5 minutes later Ildemar gave us the lead instead as we got a decent win.

Slavia Prague 0-0 Hlucin (CD2)

We could secure top spot with a win against Hlucin, promotion having been sealed the previous day due to other team’s results. We failed to take advantage of a lot of chances, most off-target, though with our far superior goal difference we were now certain to be top.

Sokolov 0-3 Slavia Prague (CD2)

We were without either of our first choice front pairing at Sokolov (Juninho being suspended) as well as Patras being among a few players on international duty. It was still surprisingly easy. Hurka gave us a 1st minute lead, followed by an Ildemar penalty in the 18th minute. We pushed hard for a 3rd and finally got it from the Slovak winger Izvolt in added time.

Slavia Prague 2-0 Vlasim (CD2)

The final game was against Vlasim, and we looked unimpressive for most of the first-half but Juninho gave us the lead just before the break. Prochazka added another in the 50th minute as we ended the season with a comfortable win.

final17_zpsa8afcf25.jpg

It wasn’t too tricky in the end but for most of the season we made it harder than it should have been, dropping so many stupid points (mostly from draws admittedly), but the back-to-back wins in the crucial Znojmo and Karvina games finally saw us take a clear lead after months of barely hanging on and it was always going to be smooth from that point onward. Like with Chornomorets, there isn’t anything too excited about getting a promotion that everyone was expecting but having done so hopefully we can make even stronger progress than I did in Ukraine.

Star player: From the start, two players stood out. Valasek's goals made him an obvious candidate from the start, and we're going to need him to be fit again early next season, but Patras also proved to be a great provider for everyone else to chip in. At the start of the season it was a very close choice between the Moldovan and a right-winger for the sole wing spot in the side (which would also determine which side we'd have the winger) and it's fair to say I called it right.

Valasek17_zpsd85535c9.jpg

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Not perfect but you are doing what is needed, maybe the winter break will be a good thing as it gives the side time to gel in training without any pressure

In the end it didn't, but we were easily good enough anyway, delivering in the important games to make up for all those games we should have won but didn't. Gelling wasn't the issue as there were only a few signings, but I had wondered if tactical familiarity might be.

Here comes another anti-jinx...

You're going to stroll to promotion after the winter break :thup:

You got lucky :D Can't give you all the points for the last one as we didn't quite make it (though you only considered it a strong possibility technically which was correct for a lot of the season), and if you had just said 'promotion' it would hardly have been the bravest prediction in the world but I guess in the end a 9 point winning margin and having it mathematically sealed with 3 games left does qualify as 'strolling to promotion' so it came true late on.

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I was hoping that being in the Czech Republic, especially at a big club with great facilities like Slavia, would enable me to get a very good youth player every few years or so, and I've certainly got an excellent one this year...

Jurcik_zps1f6e6341.jpg

Definitely a lad with a very long and fruitful career ahead of him, hopefully here for as long as it's within my power, even if I might not be able to keep him forever.

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Not bad at all for a 14 year old

Definitely. I was pretty excited when I saw him, even more so when I realized that he was still that young so had even more development potential than if he looked like that at 16/17 or something.

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Great talent, keep him in the weights room to boost his strength and he will come good!

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Great talent, keep him in the weights room to boost his strength and he will come good!

Definitely, should be an aerial beast, but needs some strength for that. I had been about to get him working on jumping before I thought 'you know what, young as he is, a strength of '1' really needs to be worked on asap.'

Summer 2017

The board was one of those that’s very tight financially, especially when it comes to the wages I can offer to an individual player, even when there’s plenty of spare wage budget. That’s by no means a bad thing, but it can be very frustrating, and budgets were shrunk from last year. I was able to keep the search filters the same (500k value, 2kpw wages) but it wouldn’t go anywhere near as far this time. Despite the squad size, I generally stuck to particular group of players, and didn’t feel it worth holding on to the many others whose contracts were expiring, leading to a mass exodus of unwanted players. We still had plenty of numbers, at least in defence (to the point that I was easily able to release a couple extra, taking the total of released players to 47!) and the ‘defensive’ midfield slot but it left Ildemar, Patras, Juninho and Valasek (the latter two having injuries that would rule them out of the opening weeks) as our only attacking players. We also only had a Ukraine-length pre-season again, with 3 important non-eu players in the squad (the max we can have on the pitch) restricting our options still further. Thankfully as long as I got the extra attacking depth in we looked like we’d be fine to comfortably survive, with ‘mid-table’ being the board expectation, though top-half might be possible as well.

I still didn’t shy away from non-eu signings, but the two I did were meant as alternatives for Ildemar and Juninho, so wouldn’t cause too many issues with the non-eu player restrictions. I thought there would be a bit more trouble with the signing of my former Chornomorets midfielder/winger Arzhanov, pretty much the only good winger available, but thankfully it turned out he was an EU national. For some reason. (I later found out that all Europeans count as EU in the league) He wasn’t the only free agent as I also got a Brazilian forward who thankfully had EU citizenship as well, nothing special but he was decent enough and we needed the depth (especially since another forward signing wasn’t coming until the end of August as that way I’d also get him for nothing, and considering Valasek’s injury).

I actually ended up getting in the players I needed with a majority of the budget still intact, enabling me to do a little strengthening in lower-priority places. From Slovakia came a good alternative (a word I use a lot, as opposed to calling a player a ‘backup’ or ‘replacement’ because unless there’s a clear gulf in class between players I don’t often think of one being clear first choice and the other being a backup, at least in theory but the fates of form often play the main part of team selection over pre-planning) to the want-away Gerson, along with an experienced keeper to be first-choice. There would have been more but having made 6 signings I didn’t want to overdo it and sign a couple more who were decent but who otherwise we had little need for.

I was amazed with how much I’d managed to do transfer wise, especially with a lot of attacking holes to fill, 4 of the 6 signings coming for nothing. We looked like we’d have a very good season back in the First Division, even if I couldn’t really define what precisely that would mean.

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Jul/Aug 2017

Slavia Prague 3-0 Most (CD1)

A home game against Most was one of the easier games to start off with, and Patras gave us a 15th minute lead. A penalty from new midfielder Musa made it 2-0 just before the break, and another new signing, Oldoni, gave us a 3-0 win.

Jihlava 2-3 Slavia Prague (CD1)

A trip to Jihlava would be a tougher test, but it was a very open first-half with both sides deserving a goal. Srom gave us the lead in first-half stoppage time but there was still time before the whistle for them to equalize, ending a great run of 12 games without conceding. Juninho fired us back ahead just 15 seconds into the second-half, and though they equalized in the 65th minute, which would have admittedly made for a fair result, Srom’s second goal gave us a late winner.

Slavia Prague 2-2 Bohemians Prague (CD1)

Confusingly the league had both ‘Bohemians Prague’ and ‘Bohemians 1905’ who also played in Prague and who had the same colours. We played the former, who took the lead in the 24th minute, but an own-goal equalized in the 37th minute. They mostly had us on the back foot in the second-half but Arzhanov actually gave us a 72nd minute lead from a penalty, and I couldn’t complain when they equalized to share the points.

Banik Ostrava 1-3 Slavia Prague (CD1)

A trip to Banik Ostrava was the toughest game yet on paper, but Juninho gave us the lead in the 14th minute, and we looked like getting another, which we did from Oldoni in the 55th minute. They equalized 6 minutes later but Patras made it safe in the 87th minute.

Slavia Prague 4-0 Karvina (CD1)

I hoped to make light work of fellow promoted side Karvina, and Juninho gave us the lead in the 24th minute. It seemed to be a throwback to last season with a lot of chances coming before we got another, and I felt we’d be punished get again when we went down to 10 men but Patras delivered a cross that was headed in by Holub in the 66th minute, repeating the trick for Hubnik in the 87th, and there was still time for another from Juninho.

Bohemians 1905 3-6 Slavia Prague (CD1)

We went to the ‘other’ Bohemians and took the lead from Juninho (who was having a far better time in the First Division than he did in the Second) in the 15th minute. I had decided to leave the fit-again Valasek on the bench in favour of the in-form Oldoni and it seemed a good call when he extended the lead in in the 29th minute. They pulled a goal back but Arzhanov scored twice (the second from a penalty) just before the break and completed a hat-trick in the 56th minute, just after they had made it 4-2. Patras scored at the wrong end in the 70th minute, then in the right goal 8 minutes later as we won 6-3!

Sept 2017

Slavia Prague 5-1 Brno (CD1)

Brno were 4th last season, making them our first opponents who had finished top half last time. For a while they put up a tough fight but we wore them down with goals. Juninho and Oldoni again shone together, each scoring to put us 2-0 up after 22 minutes. They still looked capable of coming back but Patras (easily the best Moldovan I’ve ever had on the game, not that I can remember anyone else though there might have been a few) made it 3-0 before the break. Oldoni scored again on the hour mark and though they got a late consolation, Juninho finished off a 5-1 win in the last minute.

Admira Prague 0-4 Slavia Prague (CFC)

We went to Admira Prague for the first cup tie. Srom gave us a 2nd minute lead, with Oldoni adding 2 more before the break, and Hubnik’s header at the end saw us through with a 4-0 win.

Jablonec 2-1 Slavia Prague (CD1)

Jablonec had 3 titles in the last 6 years, and I was expecting a rough ride when we went to theirs. They took the lead in the 5th minute and as we were pretty mediocre they looked like getting another, which they eventually did in the 62nd minute. Valasek was back on and gave us a very late goal but the game had long been lost.

Slavia Prague 3-0 Sigma Olomouc (CD1)

We looked second-best for most of the first-half against Sigma Olomouc, and were lucky their players wouldn’t know a shot on target if it walked up and shook their hands. However Hubnik headed in a Patras cross to give us the lead against the run of play after 40 minutes. Patras’ own goal (not own-goal) in the 73rd minute was more deserved, and he even delivered a stoppage time corner for Srom to make it 3-0. That took him to 14 assists in just 10 games, along with 5 goals!

Olomouc-Holice 0-2 Slavia Prague (CFC)

We went to Olomouc-Holice in the cup, which was closer than it had any right to be. We were still firmly on top for the most part, even if it took 35 minutes for Srom to give us the lead. That was followed by their best spell until Gerson got another in the 54th minute, and that was that, though Oldoni had another disallowed.

sept17_zps19c622d3.jpg

Well, I knew we could put in a strong showing already, but being top of the league after 30% of the season having been there pretty much consistently from the start was something I really wasn't expecting, even if it's only on goal difference and with Sparta having a game in hand. It's not just our position that's promising, but the fact we've been doing it in style. We haven't faced any of last season's top 3 yet, or the rest of the top 3 as it stands so far, so I think talk of a title challenge is a bit premature (probably ditto for Europe with only 4 European places, as opposed to 6 in Ukraine), and not even an AK22 prediction will change that, but it seems clear that the Slavia faithful are in for some good times ahead. It's fair to say this move is working out really well!

On a more personal note, whatever else happens I'm assured of something good as a next club. I was linked with Argentines San Lorenzo and Racing last season, which themselves are pretty good clubs, but with another promotion under my belt I got direct offers from Trabzonspor and Bordeaux in the summer, which would have been interesting at another time though obviously I didn't join Slavia just for a promotion from the Second Division and am very much committed to them for the foreseeable future, but if that's what I might get now, the world will be my oyster with a few trophies that I hope to get under my belt at Slavia. Oh and I was also linked with Dutch club Roda so far this season, which I only mention because the sacked manager was Ryan Giggs!

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That is a brilliant start to life in the top flight, good to see plenty of goals go in for you too :thup:

Definitely, I didn't imagine being able to make such an impact this soon. Last season we had a lot of trouble turning pressure into goals so it's great to see us generally be a lot more ruthless up front. This is epitomized by Juninho who got 10 goals in 31 games last season (not bad but nowhere near as good as I was expecting) to 13 in 19 so far this time (an even better 12 in 15 in the league). One of the reasons I mentioned the good times coming back for Slavia fans is because of all the goals and exciting matches they're getting to see, not just as a statement of intent to challenge for trophies.

Oct 2017

Slavia Prague 2-0 Ceske Budejovice (CD1)

We had a comfortable time of things against Ceske Budejovice, with Juninho giving us the lead in the 24th minute. He had another disallowed just before half-time but Oldoni gave us that deserved second goal in the 50th minute.

Hradec Kralove 0-2 Slavia Prague (CD1)

It took a lot of chances for Juninho to give us the lead in the 37th minute at Hradec Kralove, while they looked to punish us with dangerous chances of their own that keeper Kamenar did well to keep out. Patras gave us a last minute second to finally make it safe.

Teplice 1-2 Slavia Prague (CD1)

The games got tougher until the winter break, starting at Teplice. Gerson gave us the lead in the 39th minute, quickly followed by Oldoni. We were under a lot of pressure in the second half, especially after Zemlik was sent off, and while they scored in the 76th minute and had an equalizer disallowed, we just about held on.

Slovan Liberec 1-1 Slavia Prague (CD1)

Juninho gave us the lead after 5 minutes at Slovan Liberec, but they soon equalized and threatened to take the lead. Juninho scored again (taking him past last season’s total of 10 goals) after 65 minutes but they levelled it 10 minutes later to share the points.

Nov 2017

Viktoria Zizkov 1-1 Slavia Prague (CFC)

The cup turned 2-legged from this point and we went to Viktoria Zizkov in the first leg. It was just like being back in the second division as we struggled to put chances away (despite putting 12 past them in the league last year), and while Valasek came on and finally scored on the hour mark, they got a late equalizer.

Slavia Prague 0-1 Sparta Prague (CD1)

Sparta had been worryingly dominant this season, and it was finally time to face them in the first derby. They took the lead after 18 minutes, and while we managed to match them fairly evenly afterwards, it only stopped things getting worse, rather than give us an equalizer.

Viktoria Plzen 0-3 Slavia Prague (CD1)

A trip to Viktoria Plzen was the last league game before the winter break, and it was a lot easier than I thought it would be as we picked them off with a few goals. Ildemar got the first with a 35th minute header, Valasek made it 2-0 in the 48th minute and Juninho finished it off in the 65th minute.

Slavia Prague 4-1 (5-2) Viktoria Zizkov (CFC)

We still had the second-leg against Zizkov, and they had a player sent off after just a few minutes, helping ensure what was always meant to be a comfortable win. Ildemar and Valasek gave us a 2-0 lead in the first half-hour. They pulled a goal back but Valasek scored again before the break and Juninho finished off a 5-2 aggregate win and sent us through to the quarter-finals.

nov17_zps8e6e9e66.jpg

(I've switched to the 'retro' skin after hearing about it this week on GD, which is why screenshots will look different)

We had some tough tests just before the winter break, and while it was obviously a little disappointing to lose to Sparta and give them a clear lead over us in the league, it wasn't entirely unexpected either. It seems unlikely we'll be able to push them for the title so soon, especially with the away derby still to come, but I think they're the only one of the bigger teams (Jablonec, the underachieving Plzen and probably Slovan Liberec being the ones I consider to be the others) we do play away in the second half of the season, so we have a good chance of getting 3rd or maybe even 2nd, which would still make for a fantastic season, far better than I imagined it would go.

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A really impressive first season in the top flight, how many European places does the league get? Any chance of second place guaranteeing Champions League football?

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A really impressive first season in the top flight, how many European places does the league get? Any chance of second place guaranteeing Champions League football?

Just the basic '1 CL place, 3 EL'. Not going to be improving on that any time soon. We're 20th in the coefficient rankings with Croatia in 15th (which brings the extra spot) and holding on to it quite comfortably. The coefficients for next year have Greece slipping to 15th with a narrower lead but since they're not likely to slip much further and Croatia (who might) are getting further ahead for now so I don't think we can realistically expect it for a while.

Big gap from 4th for you so hopefully you can pick up where you left off after winter and keep a Europa spot at worst.

I know, that's why I am reasonably confident about staying in the top 3 unless we drop off badly.

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Good to see you up there, and rivaling Sparta again. No predictions today :D

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Good to see you up there, and rivaling Sparta again. No predictions today :D

Another time perhaps :D

Mar 2018

Most 1-1 Slavia Prague (CD1)

The second half of the season started at Most, where Valasek gave us a 5th minute lead. We should have had another but were hit with an equalizer instead and failed miserably to regain control after that, having to settle for a draw.

Slavia Prague 3-2 Banik Ostrava (CD1)

We went behind in the 5th minute against Banik Ostrava but Valasek was relishing being back in the team and equalized a few minutes later, followed but Hubnik heading us into the lead. They came back strongly and deservedly equalized before the break, looking like they’d take the lead but we retook control (at least to a point) early in the second-half and Patras’ goal in the 66th minute scraped us the win in a very exciting match.

Slavia Prague 1-1 Jihlava (CD1)

We had a few players suspended and seemed to hit a brick wall against Jihlava, finally breaking through with a Hubnik header in the 66th minute but it was typical that after all that they soon equalized and we ended up with another draw.

Bohemians Prague 2-1 Slavia Prague (CD1)

End product was something severely lacking against Bohemians, but Oldoni showed everyone how it was done, giving us the lead just after coming on as a half-time sub. There was still a depressing inevitability about their penalizing equalizer, but less so regarding their winner with a few minutes left!

Apr 2018

Karvina 0-2 Slavia Prague (CD1)

Patras gave us the lead in the 3rd minute at Karvina, and though we expected more against a side who were soon down to 10 men, it took until 5 minutes left for Oldoni to give it to us.

Slavia Prague 1-0 Bohemians 1905

Juninho gave us the lead after a couple of minutes against bottom club Bohemians 1905, but despite more chances, another seemed hard to come by. Often that would cost us points but thankfully it didn’t this time.

Brno 1-5 Slavia Prague (CD1)

Patras gave us a 15th minute lead at Brno. They equalized in the 36th minute but Oldoni restored the lead a few minute later. We finished them off ruthlessly in the last 15 minutes, with a Juninho brace sandwiching an own-goal.

Slavia Prague 4-1 Banik Ostrava (CFC QF)

Banik Ostrava were our cup quarter-final opponents, at home first, and took a deserved lead from Oldoni in the 27th minute. Srom extended it at the start of the second half, and it proved surprisingly easy as an Oldoni penalty and Juninho put us 4-0 up. An 82nd minute own-goal gave them a glimmer of hope in the tie but I felt confident that we could go through.

Slavia Prague 3-1 Jablonec (CD1)

Jablonec were now top and took the lead in the 4th minute, but Juninho got us back into it. He equalized in the 49th minute, having just had a goal disallowed, gave us the lead in the 72nd and Oldoni quickly finished off a great 3-1 win.

Banik Ostrava 0-2 (1-6) Slavia Prague (CFC QF)

We easily saw off Banik in the away leg. Juninho gave us the lead on the night after 40 minutes, and though Oldoni had a goal disallowed, Ildemar got the second goal to win the tie 6-1.

Ceske Budejovice 1-0 Slavia Prague (CD1)

We were surprisingly under-par at Ceske Budejovice, going behind in the 13th minute and relying on a Kamenar penalty save to stop it getting worse. We did have a few chances to equalize but failed to do anything with them.

We were a little slow out of the blocks after the long break, but soon hit form again. The Ceske defeat pretty much rules us out of a title challenge I wasn't expecting to be in anyway, and leaves a top 3 finish open but we still have a good advantage there. As is always the way, we got drawn against Sparta in the cup semi-finals If there's a standout team among the remaining teams in a cup competition, you'll get them before the final, guaranteed. Had it when I won the cup with Chornomorets, getting and squeaking past Dnipro when the other semi was between 2 much weaker sides. Mid-table Jihlava and Bohemians are the other semi-finalists. Making the final looks unlikely, though it's hardly mission impossible.

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