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Rikulec

FM16: The Frozen Throne

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The real Pablo Sandoval is a fat Venezuelan baseball player:

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Not that guy, who's worth 34.5 million and crazy attributes. How is he still at QPR :lol:? And how does he only have one cap at 28?

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Oh, might we have a case of fake name syndrome here?

Or maybe SI just has incredible scouts and they identified this man's talent for football!

Edited by Adonalsium
asda

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59 minutes ago, oriole01 said:

The real Pablo Sandoval is a fat Venezuelan baseball player:

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Not that guy, who's worth 34.5 million and crazy attributes. How is he still at QPR :lol:? And how does he only have one cap at 28?

Nice find. :lol: To be fair, QPR are so good now that I'm not surprised they managed to attract and keep him. The international caps, though, I have no idea.

26 minutes ago, Adonalsium said:

Oh, might we have a case of fake name syndrome here?

Or maybe SI just has incredible scouts and they identified this man's talent for football!

Remember, he has until 2053 to get in shape. :D

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Good job on properly following Icelandic naming conventions. ;)

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22 minutes ago, Lenzar said:

Good job on properly following Icelandic naming conventions. ;)

I'm glad someone noticed. Cheers mate. :thup:

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Bottom of the Danish Superliga, they don't appeal to me at all. Interview declined.

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This, on the other hand... a much, much bigger club in the same league would certainly be a step up. Let's see what comes out of this.

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3 hours ago, Rikulec said:

Nice find. :lol: To be fair, QPR are so good now that I'm not surprised they managed to attract and keep him. The international caps, though, I have no idea.

Remember, he has until 2053 to get in shape. :D

Well I'm American so I actually know who he is. His nickname over here is "Panda" and he plays 3rd base, which you actually have to be pretty agile to play so I think he defies his weight a bit. Mostly just a funny coincidence.

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19 minutes ago, oriole01 said:

Well I'm American so I actually know who he is. His nickname over here is "Panda" and he plays 3rd base, which you actually have to be pretty agile to play so I think he defies his weight a bit. Mostly just a funny coincidence.

I'm Polish so I have no idea about baseball at all, so I'll just trust you on that.

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There's absolutely no reason for me to go a league down.

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Gylfi Elvarsson's Management Career - October 2053 - Rochdale

Championship

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We're going to struggle now, watch it.

It was a real pain to watch us against Colchester. It was a really boring game of football, one that we completely didn't turn up to, and the hosts weren't much better either. In the 33rd minute they managed to get in front though, Stuart Dingwall banging the ball in from point blank range. I'd like to be able to tell you we pushed hard for the equaliser, but we didn't. I guess we couldn't. In the 91st minute Mick Wilson doubled their lead, and that was it. A really forgettable performance.

I wasn't very optimistic about the Luton clash after eight minutes, when Jiri Koutnik put them in front with a wonderful finish to a great passing move. But this time we really turned the heat up. In the 16th minute Marcus Brook kicked off the show, rebounding Karl Burke's shot with his usual fury. Four minutes later we grabbed the lead, Neil Cromie unleashing a wonderful free kick from over 20 yards out, an unstoppable rocket into the top corner. Then in the 29th minute a cross from Bojan Spasojevic was smashed into the net by Brook, and in the 37th minute our striker completed his hat-trick, converting a penalty given for a foul on Matthew Belford. We could have scored more after the break, but we didn't. We didn't need to.

We couldn't have started the Portsmouth game better - in the 2nd minute Brook got his shot saves, but Aytaç Tunar's rebound found its way into the back of the net. The hosts replied to that quickly though, Quincy Escalona equalising six minutes later. In the 28th minute the disaster happened - Brook got stretchered off the pitch with what turned out to be a broken ankle. That didn't stop us at that moment - after eleven minutes Aytaç Tunar put a drilled cross into the area and Patrick Abadaki finally ended his goal drought to make it 2:1. Then we wasted a few opportunities to extend that lead, and that backfired in the most painful way possible - in the 91st minute the ball was headed down to Modibo Yattara standing outside the box, and he let off a sensational volley that went in off the near post. Sometimes taking these hopeful shots simply pays.

Good start, awful finish - that was the case once again when we met Southend four days later. We got in front in the 5th minute - Aytaç Tunar put a deep cross into the box from a free kick, and Jordon Mercer unleashed an incredible lobbing header that went over the goalkeeper and into the top far corner. Generally we ended the game with nine shots on target, but after we couldn't seem to get anything past their goalkeeper Stefan Moreno, and that's despite some really good and promising attempts. The guy was simply having his day. And our defenders clearly weren't - in the 47th minute Jordan Davis smashed home an equaliser after poor marking to a low cross, and in the 90th minute a corner landed on the head of Jack Okoh and then in the back of our net. We really shouldn't be dropping points like that, we're still a long way from safety.

Edited by Rikulec

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Out of the blue, I was offered an interview with a struggling French Ligue 2 side. No thanks.

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This one's a whole different story. Gylfi's going to his first Premier League interview! I don't rate my chances too high, but it's always worth throwing your name in the hat, or something.

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A move to Sunderland at this point would be a gift from the heavens.

Funny how only the key players seem to ever get injured during practice. It's never that unwanted fourth-choice 39-year-old midfielder, nope it's always got to be a first team regular!

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5 minutes ago, Adonalsium said:

A move to Sunderland at this point would be a gift from the heavens.

Funny how only the key players seem to ever get injured during practice. It's never that unwanted fourth-choice 39-year-old midfielder, nope it's always got to be a first team regular!

If you're talking about Brook, he was injured during the match. In fact, I don't remember any of my important players getting a serious injury during practice since Gylfi took over. *knocks on wood*

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Bottom of the Polish top division? I don't think that would be a step up.

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Gylfi Elvarsson's Management Career - November 2053 - Rochdale

Championship

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A good month.

It didn't start too well for us. Leicester were simply so much better that we couldn't put together anything to threaten them, they did very well to keep us at bay and get their goals when they could. The scoreline was opened in the 12th minute - John Jones commited a foul in the box, and Frederic Lefrancois gave the hosts the lead from the spot. From then on they went into cruise control mode, finally rounded off in the 91st minute when a defensive mistake on our part allowed Daniele Russo to make it 2:0, Josh Dixon also at fault for failing to keep a rather stoppable shot out. I guess we're not going to put out spectacular shows every week. I can live with that.

Luckily we didn't wait too long to make up for it. Millwall were a strong opponent on paper and - as it showed - on the pitch as well, but we fought bravely and grabbed three points in an all but thrilling encounter. We managed to grab the lead as soon as three minutes in, Karl Burke rebounding a shot from Bojan Spasojevic. In the 19th minute the visitors equalised - Alberto Araújo tapped the ball into an empty net after a precise cross from the left wing - but fifteen minutes later Burke doubled his goal tally, Spasojevic with his second assist of the evening. There could have easily been more goals as both teams had their chances - the majority of which falling to the feet of Millwall - but we held onto a very valuable victory.

Just four days later we faced another difficult opponent in the form of Birmingham. And, once again, we delivered a very respectable performance, only this time we fell on the wrong end of a two-way battle. João Monteiro opened the scoreline for the hosts in the 13rd minute of the game, applying the finish to a nice attacking move. We fought back, looking really dangerous on the break, and finally in the 43rd minute Patrick Abadaki made it 1:1 with a nice soft effort into the top corner from the edge of the box, Burke with the assist. Our celebrations were cut short though, as Monteiro scored again seconds before the half time whistle. Despite our attempts, we couldn't turn things around after the break.

The Sheffield Wednesday game was probably our best defensive display since getting into the Championship. Only three shots, one on target from the visitors really show just how tight we were at the back. With such foundation, we were simply bound to do something up front. The deadlock was broken in the 31st minute - Bojan Spasojevic delivered a wonderful, perfectly timed cross to Aytaç Tunar attacking the far post, and the German was put in a very easy situation. Seven minutes later Abadaki doubled our lead, applying the finish to a wonderful one-two with Burke. Finally the last goal of the game was scored in the 84th minute - another beautiful cross from the left, this time by Matthew Belford, was headed in by Jordon Mercer. That was a really good performance from the lads.

One we could possibly build on, as the Fulham game showed. This time round, we were even better. Total undisputed domination from start to finish, 64% possession and all. Oh, I almost forgot a 58-second goal that kicked things off - Belford put a cheeky cross in and Burke found himself on the end of it. Ten minutes later our support striker doubled his goal tally, converting a penalty given for a foul on Aytaç Tunar. The German winger also managed to get a proper assist for himself, delivering a wonderful cross to the head of Abadaki in the 33rd minute. In all honesty, with better finishing we could have given the hosts a proper chasing. Instead, we allowed them to get one back through Louis Wright in the 69th minute. Only one, thankfully.

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The offer first came before the Fulham game. I had to ensure I'd leave Rochdale in a good position, and once that was done...

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Gylfi Elvarsson's Management Career - New Club - Aston Villa

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This is a massive step up. A bigger club in a big city, and a huge chance to reach the promised land at the first time of asking.

Club Name: Aston Villa
Nickname: The Villans
Year Founded: 1874
Status: Professional
Stadium: Villa Park (42,785 all-seater)

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The history speaks for itself. I have some pretty big shoes to fill.

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The board expect me to reach the play-offs. I think I should be capable of delivering that.

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Gylfi Elvarsson's Management Career - December 2053 - Aston Villa

Championship

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Moving in the right direction.

First up, Plymouth. I decided to pick up where the previous manager left off and line up with a 4-3-3 (4-1-2-2-1) formation. And it worked really well in the mission of dispatching the visitors after a good performance. We opened the scoreline in the 26th minute - a cross from our right back Eric Auger was tapped into the net from a tight angle by a Romanian midfielder Emil Petcu. The second goal was produced by a duo of players who are sadly going to leave the club in January. In the 42nd minute a good through ball from our right winger Romain Jacquemin was finished off by striker Johan Jäderström, the guy who put two past my Rochdale side earlier this season. This time he doubled his goal tally as well, applying a nice header to Auger's cross in the 85th minute. So far, so good.

Our wide players hosted the party against Leyton Orient, a game we won much more confidently that the scoreline would suggest. The first goal was scored in the 11th minute. Jacquemin supplied the cross from the right wing and the Croatian left winger Mihael Krznar applied the finish. The same player doubled our lead shortly after the break, taking advantage of a goalkeeper's mistake - the ball slipped out of his hands after Auger's cross, straight to the feet of our player. We could have extended the lead further, but instead a slip of concentration cost us a goal from Stephen Booth in the 86th minute. Apart from a very hopeful long range attempt, they didn't threaten us at all in the dying minutes though. A win is a win.

Maybe that slogan fits the Peterborough game better. If the opening minutes were anything to judge by, we should have put five past them. But they survived the storm and tightened up, something we struggled immensely to cope with. I made changes, I tried switching to a more attacking tactic, but nothing seemed to work. And just as I was losing hope, in the 90th minute a striker making his debut for the club off the bench, Kieran Hampson, intercepted an underhit backpass and found the net with a powerful strike. That was a huge relief.

We started the Leeds game in a similar fashion, only this time we made it count. Hampson continued his good run, opening the scoreline in the 6th minute after a poor clearance attempt fell to his feet just a couple of yards away from goal. The kid seems to have a gift of causing defenders to make silly mistakes. He could be useful. Eleven minutes later we doubled our lead. Petcu sent a perfectly timed through ball into the area, and Krznar found the net despite allowing the defenders chasing him to all but catch up. Our domination continued, but we couldn't convert it into more goals. We didn't have to, thankfully.

Unfortunately, we couldn't carry on with the winning run until the end of the month. The Peterborough defeat was a really stupid one, to be honest. The first half was extremely dull with barely any chances created, but there was one moment that eventually decided the match. In the 30th minute a seemingly easy cross was put into our box, but Jason Donnelly allowed the ball to bounce off him and that turned into an own goal. There was no pressure at all. We had a couple of chances after the break, but it was nothing spectacular. A draw would have probably done us more justice though.

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Gylfi Elvarsson's Management Career - January 2054 - Aston Villa

Championship

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Keeping the status quo.

Obviously I'm disappointed that we started the month with a defeat in a very important game against Derby. Even worse off, it was just all too similar to what happened when I was at Rochdale and faced them - once again they got an early goal, this time through Clifton Webers' nice header following a free kick from the right wing in the 8th minute, and then they simply held onto it. We had our chances - our new striker Raúl Santamaría in particular being disappointingly wasteful - but couldn't take them, and eventually we went on a sad trip home with no points in the bag.

The next two games were two absolute must-wins. First up, Coventry. They are weak, and they proved to be weak at our place thankfully. We landed the first punch in the 11th minute, Emil Petcu with the goal as Jason Donnelly headed the ball down to him following a corner. Seven minutes later we were already two in front. Mihael Krznar put in a cross from the left wing, aiming for the far post, and our new winger Gastón Biggeri tapped it into an empty net to score on his debut. We carried on playing well, and in the 53rd minute Santamaría finally scored for us for the first time, rebounding his own shot after Biggeri's cross. Of course, not everything went our way, as a horrendous backpass from Jamie Gibson was intercepted and hammered into the net by Alex Nart in the 72nd minute. We won though, and that's all that matters.

And finally, Crystal Palace. We took a while to get going, but once we did, we were a joy to watch. Everything started in the 40th minute. A nice passing move ended with Petcu giving the ball to Santamaría, who took on three defenders in the middle of the box, went around them, and slotted the ball home with a precise strike. Petcu then grabbed a goal for himself in the 61st minute, finding himself on the end of a wonderfully aimed cross from Gibson that was also the result of a nice teamwork move. The final goal was scored in the 79th minute. A corner was nodded on by Sasa Curcic and headed home by Jason Donnelly. Nice to see he can find the net at the right end of the pitch as well.

FA Cup

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The thought of a replay isn't a very pleasant one.

The Colchester game wasn't very pleasant for the fans either. The deadlock was unbearable at times, both teams seemed so toothless in their poor attempts to create any danger in front of each other's goals. We kept the fans waiting really long for the breakthrough, but it finally came in the 71st minute. Mihael Krznar put the ball in from the left wing, and Johan Jäderström attacked the near post furiously to smash home what turned out to be his last goal for Aston Villa. Our second goal was a product of chaos, where our young midfielder Dan Pollard kept the coolest head to hammer the ball into the back of the net.

Everything was okay against Barnsley. Everything, excluding that one situation in the 12th minute, when our defenders were probably busy catching some Pokemon, because they completely forgot to mark Thomas Sahlin, gifting him an open net after a cross from the left wing. We replied in the 31st minute - a cross from Biggeri was sent into the net by Krznar. But then, nothing. We played well, we created chances, but we couldn't finish, no matter what. Which adds another game to our already busy February schedule. Not good.

Transfers

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The reshaping begins humbly.

Raúl Santamaría - a direct replacement for Jäderström, one that I'm really happy with.

Gastón Biggeri - another replacement, this one will cover Jacquemin's position.

Gilberto Cuenca - a new option in midfield, a very good one to have.

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These guys look, again, really good. I don't know how you keep finding these guys, because my scouts always just come back with above average shmucks. Aston Villa's going back to the Premier League!

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19 minutes ago, Adonalsium said:

These guys look, again, really good. I don't know how you keep finding these guys, because my scouts always just come back with above average shmucks. Aston Villa's going back to the Premier League!

I guess I have a gift for the transfer market. :D Cheers mate.

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Gylfi Elvarsson's Management Career - February 2054 - Aston Villa

Championship

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We just have to keep it up and hope someone above us slips up. Big time.

We really gave it our best trying to stupidly give away points against bottom of the table Swindon. The 8th minute of the match was a very eventful one, with not one, but two goals scored inside it. First Calum Burrows put the hosts in front after a deep cross from the left, and straight from the kick-off Gastón Biggeri replied by converting a through ball from Raúl Santamaría. I thought that was our recovery and we would give them a proper beating, but instead we conceded from an indirect free kick fifteen minutes later, Riadh Laabidi with the header. Then the game turned into a proper fight where neither team really cared about defending. Luckily it went our way - in the 68th minute Biggeri doubled his goal tally after a lucky hoofball assist from Eric Auger, and finally in the 84th minute Richard Westwood headed the ball down to Gilberto Cuenca for a volley that gave us three points. Valuable and hard-fought three points, I might add.

Come on, guys. I simply couldn't harm Rochdale. Dominate them and not allow a shot on target, sure. But score? No way. In all seriousness though, the quality of our finishing was atrocious, and that's the sole reason why we didn't put a couple of goals past my former empolyer. The gap in quality between the two teams only reassured me that I made the right decision.

For the Barnsley game we employed a blitzkrieg tactic. We hit them right in the face with everything we got, and after ten minutes we found ourselves 2:0 up. First Mihael Krznar converted a penalty given for a foul on Auger, and then Cuenca applied the finishing touch to a sensational, exceptionally quick and precise passing move through the middle, Emil Petcu with the assist. In the 28th minute we scored once again - a shot from our Romanian midfielder was denied by the goalkeeper, but Eric Mohammed pounced on the rebound to score his first ever goal for the club. Of course, keeping a clean sheet would be too much. In the 74th minute poor marking on our part allowed Thomas Sahlin to get one back for Barnsley. That was it though, three more points went to our account.

I thought Nottingham Forest would prove as our toughest opposition. Well, it didn't quite go that way, as you can see. 67% possession says it all - we were ruthless. The party started in the 7th minute. Raúl Santamaría received a wonderful through ball from Biggeri, and knew exactly what to do with it. Then Krznar took over. In the 21st minute he successfully rebounded a shot from Cuenca saved by the goalkeeper, and twelve minutes later he intercepted a poor backpass to make it 3:0. Forest got one back in the 70th minute - a deflection off Svend Kjeldgaard completely fooled our goalkeeper Fresnel Diba - but eight minutes later we took full revenge, with Krznar assisting their goalkeeper Jonathan Carver's own goal by heading the ball into the bar, causing it to bounce off his back in the process. The final goal was a powerful 20-yarder from Kévin Guerin in the 81st minute, Biggeri with the assist. In other news, Bournemouth were beaten by Fulham in a simultaneously played game. 5:0.

There's not much detail to go into about the Colchester game. Just read the Rochdale description again and you'll have a perfect idea what happened. Even the bloody shot statistics were almost identical. We can't drop points like that. That's simply unacceptable.

FA Cup

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Another replay, wonderful.

At least this time round we managed not to make a mess out of the Barnsley game. We kept the fans waiting until the 39th minute for the opener. A deep cross from Eric Auger was met with a soft header by Callum Forsdick. The ball went over the goalkeeper's head and inches under the crossbar. We doubled our lead shortly after the break, Jamie Gibson scoring his first ever goal for the club after a wonderful pass from Kévin Guerin. The visitors replied straight away with a Daniel Barton goal, but in the 62nd minute we silenced their hopes, Gastón Biggeri applying a beautiful finish to Luke Judge's pass. Victory, at last.

I couldn't have thought of a better start for the Portsmouth game. Forty seconds in we found ourselves in front already, with Biggeri delivering a rather luckily deflected finish to a good through ball from Cuenca. But then we went into self-destruct mode, with some help of the assistant referee, who seemingly turned a blind eye on an obvious offside in a move that led to Quincy Escalona's equaliser in the 20th minute. Even worse off, in the 69th minute Fresnel Diba did a great job stopping their striker in a one-on-one, but the ball hit Auger and rolled into the net. Luckily, we had Biggeri to save our sorry asses. In the 76th minute he unleashed a perfect, powerful, simply unstoppable free kick from 25 yards out. The ball rattled the crossbar and then hit the ground just behind the goal line. What a ****ing hit it was. What a ****ing fixture congestion we're going to face next month.

Transfers

Eric Mohammed - Jason Donnelly joins QPR for £7,5M, this guy joins us for £5,25M. Fair enough.

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Gylfi Elvarsson's Management Career - March 2054 - Aston Villa

Championship

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We're coming for you, Bournemouth!

Well, maybe not straight away. We don't lose games too often, but when we do, it's always 0:1 and always in a rather silly way. This time it was after a cross that didn't look dangerous at all. It was soft and poorly aimed, two defenders seemed to be in full control of the situation. They kept waiting for no one knows what instead of hoofing it away though, and Michal Sindelar took full advantage, giving Portsmouth the lead in the 9th minute of this prestigious game. From then on, it was a two-way battle, one that would have probably ended with a draw had we not been so sloppy at the back. Not a good start.

We were better against Brighton, but not as much as I would have liked. We seemed to have started well - in the 7th minute Emil Petcu went on an individual run, getting past a defender before letting off a shot that went in off the post. And that didn't stop us from attacking, but the woodwork worked in the visitors' favour a couple of times in their defensive zone... as well as in ours. In the 26th minute a soft lobbed header hit the crossbar, then Fresnel Diba's back, then rolled into the net. What a silly goal to concede that was. Luckily we made up for it nine minutes later, Raúl Santamaría laying the ball out to Mihael Krznar for a confident finish. This time we got away with a wobbly performance, and the points are all that matters in the end.

The first real sign of progress in the league was the Leicester game. We looked good and confident right from the start, and in the 39th minute we made it count. A cross from the right wing was stopped by a sliding challenge, but the ball rolled over to Miguel, who knew exactly where it should be going. We doubled our lead in the 48th minute, and once again it was a work of the Santamaría-Krznar duo, the former supplying the latter with a nice opening pass. It was a classic 2:0 game, with us easily controlling the events on the pitch and ending the match with 63% possession. Good.

The Millwall game saw us perform my favourite maneuver - score twice early on, roll towards the end. We opened the scoreline in the 6th minute. Massive chaos erupted in the hosts' penalty area following our corner, and finally Richard Westwood banged the ball in when I could barely see it. Seven minutes later Santamaría made it 2:0, delivering the final touch to a good drilled cross from Gastón Biggeri on the right wing. Despite me fielding a rather weakened squad that was still extremely fatigued (oops, I might have given you a hint here), we not only managed to hold onto that for almost the whole rest of the match, but we actually extended our lead in the 92nd minute - Anthony Lambert served Biggeri attacking the far post with a powerful cross from the left. Millwall wiped some of their tears off two minutes later with a Patrice Mbamba goal, but that didn't really bother me.

What better way is there to end a month than a derby victory? I can't really think of any. It wasn't an easy one though. We were the better team from start to finish, but we took really long to finally make our domination count. In the 55th minute Gilberto Cuenca launched a long ball upfield, and Santamaría got to it first before slotting it home just inside the near post with a strong left-footed effort. After he wasted quite a lot of chances for us, it was nice to see him apply such a clinical finish for a change. And he didn't stop at that - eighteen minutes later our striker doubled his goal tally, banging the ball in from close range after Robbie Kelly's cross. Roll on April, where we're going to play no fewer than seven league games. Make or break.

FA Cup

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Incredible stuff. We're off to Wembley!

The Portsmouth game was by no means a beautiful one. Maybe we didn't get through by the skin of our teeth - the statistics show our advantage in pretty much all aspects - but it was an ugly and difficult match. The only goal was scored in the 26th minute. Gilberto Cuenca did a great job, concentrating three defenders' attention on himself before giving the ball away to Miguel, who was one-on-one with the goalkeeper and took full advantage of that. From then on it was all about holding on, which we succeeded in. And of course, we already knew who we would be facing.

I'll be honest with you. I was expecting a hammering. There really was a reason for me parking the bus and praying. And boy, were my prayers heard. The start wasn't very promising - in the 12th minute the ball went all the way across our penalty area before being tapped in from close range by Val. Yes, the Brazilian wonderkid brought to Europe by Elvar Björgvinsson himself. Thanks, dad. The opening minutes of the second half weren't kind to us either, as the visitors caught us on the break and Stephan Boll doubled their lead in the 47th minute. But just three minutes we responded with a goal from Raúl Santamaría, and suddenly it was game on. It looked as if City weren't prepared for us putting up any kind of resistance. And finally in the 76th minute we made them cry - Gastón Biggeri played a short pass to Miguel in the box, whose finish just screamed sheer class. We came back despite one of the best teams in the world getting into a two-goal lead. Heroic? Well, not yet.

We got our chance. City had a few players away on international duty, while the only one we were missing Eric Mohammed. Still, they had a squad far superior to ours, and we parked the bus again. Oh yeah, and they got through again. And it was Val... again. Just a minute earlier than the previous time, once again finding himself on the end of a cross from the right wing. I guess some players simply can't be stopped. You know what? I can live with that. In the 56th minute we shocked the Mancini Stadium packed with 81,250 spectators - Santamaría squared the ball out to Biggeri, and the Argentinian was presented with an easy chance. Of course, the hosts had the upper hand most of the time, but we looked extremely dangerous on the break. Eventually we held onto the draw until the whistle, so extra time it was. The first half brought nothing, but the second started in a miraculous way - a lightning-quick passing move, a through ball to Santamaría, a powerful strike into the roof of the net. 2:1! And it wasn't even properly threatened. They just didn't know what to do. We're through to the FA Cup semi final!

We're facing Sunderland now, while Millwall take on Liverpool in the other game. An all-Championship final? Unlikely, but... football, bloody hell!

Youth Intake

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We actually got someone promising.

Thomas Hill

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Our first game of April, and the last game of the season for our main striker.

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Gylfi Elvarsson's Management Career - April 2054 - Aston Villa

Championship

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Play-offs, then.

We were worse than Sheffield Wednesday, and we deservedly lost to them. Simple as that, only at that time it looked like it would be a one-off incident. We got off to a horrific start, falling behind in the 5th minute - a drilled cross came in from the left, and Victor Gil found some space in the box to get it into the net. For some reason, we seemed incapable of mounting a steady wave of attacks. Finally in the 66th minute we got hit on the break, and Mamadou Mendy doubled the hosts' lead to make our task all but impossible. Then we lost Raúl Santamaría, and that was it.

Bouncing back against Southend was a necessity. The opening minutes were good. We established advantage right from the start, and in the 11th minute a corner taken by Emil Petcu was headed home by Richard Westwood. Then we eased off a little, but we didn't cease to be the better team. But then we got hit on the break - in the 63rd minute Grant Wheeler grabbed an unlikely equaliser with a successful tight angle rebound. We didn't wait too long to get back in front, Petcu with a precise effort from just inside the box just two minutes later. Finally with five minutes to go Mihael Krznar attempted a cross, and it went so wrong that the ball actually ended up in the back of the net. Fine.

Before the Fulham game we lost our goalkeeper, and it was a massive confidence blow, it turned out. Because a goalkeeper injury always takes the strikers' ability away, obviously. I mean, isn't that logical? Yeah, sure. In a normal scenario, we would have put two or three past them - taking the chances we created - but it wasn't a normal scenario. And it wouldn't be for the following games, so I started to fear the worst.

And rightfully so. I don't think I have to explain why the Bournemouth game was an absolutely huge one. A draw was a minimum there, a win would have actually put us in a good position for a promotion challenge. And, trust me, we did play well. We were all but dominant, and we kept creating chances. But Miguel just couldn't cope - no matter how good the opportunity was, he would always find a way to fluff it. To make things worse, the hosts scored with their first shot of the game, Rob Morgan applying the finish to a nice passing move in the 55th minute. Yes, that's how long it took them to have their first shot. Do I have to say more?

Cardiff, more of the same. You can see their position in the table. We had thirteen shots, eight of them on target. Or, should I say, eight at the goalkeeper. When things go wrong, they just do. Do we really have to wait for Fresnel Diba to return to get our strikers firing again?

My word, how awful the Luton game was. There were barely any situations shown throughout the 90 minutes of football. I was so desperate that I brought on a second striker and switched to 4-4-2 for the last half hour, but it changed very little. The result was decided in the 80th minute. We got caught with a counter attack, and Kevin Mulhall got the better of our goalkeeper Richard Harding in a one-on-one situation to give his team a win. We're horrendous, and we don't have too much time to change it before the play-offs.

The Plymouth game had all the makings of a turning point for us. We started furiously, creating two fantastic goalscoring opportunities within the first minute and a half. Even wasting those didn't stop us from absolutely dominating, the ball hardly ever crossed the halfway line. Our domination was undisputed, and in the 37th minute we finally made it count when Gastón Biggeri's weak effort down the middle was somehow let in by the hosts' goalkeeper. Turns out he knew what he was doing though, because from then on they needed a goal, and when our opponents need a goal, they just go and get it. So, half a minute after we got in front Danilo gave Plymouth an equaliser. We kept pushing, eventually stopping at 20 shots (11 on target), but as you can see, it wasn't us who tipped the scales - in the 85th minute a corner allowed Ahmed Ben Khalfallah to head the ball home and hand the victory to the hosts. Appaling.

FA Cup

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Of course not.

On another day, we could have sneaked through. But while we were in crisis, Sunderland weren't, and it showed. Between our miserable attack attempts, they simply played their game and showed their superiority. In the 22nd minute a cross from a free kick was headed into the post, but Muris Vehabovic was there to pounce on the rebound and put our opponents in front. We looked hopeless most of the time, but suddenly light appeared at the end of the tunnel - in the 71st minute we mounted a quick counter attack after intercepting a corner, and Gilberto Cuenca found the net in a one-on-one situation. The light turned out to be an oncoming train though, and eight minutes earlier Alan Marangon sent Sunderland into the final with a close range strike. As I said - on another day, maybe. In our current situation, we had no chance.

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Gylfi Elvarsson's Management Career - May 2054 - Aston Villa

Championship

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180 minutes of ugly football to confirm what we already knew.

First up, Leyton Orient. I wasn't particularly bothered by that game, since we were almost guaranteed a third place finish, and obviously we couldn't go any higher than that. Still, I fielded the best squad I could, because why not. Pretty much the only notable moment of the match was the 16th minute. A through ball aimed at Gastón Biggeri was intercepted, but he didn't give up attacking it and eventually intercepted an underhit backpass to give us what turned out to be the winning goal. Our first victory since the Southend game, and our first victory with Richard Harding between the sticks. Yay.

And then Leeds, where we got back to what we kept doing in April. 60% possession, creating chance after chance of some time, and then we decided to call it a day and that since we're so impotent up front, then why not give the opponents a chance to do better than that and invite them to our own half. The hosts waited quite long to pounce on that, but of course they couldn't pass up on such an opportunity - in the 91st minute Phil Howell was left unmarked in our box, and, unlike our forwards, he knew how to take advantage of that. What a morale booster before the games that would decide our season, eh?

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Fade out.

Fresnel Diba finally made his return for the first leg. Did he help? Not at all. And probably Raúl Santamaría wouldn't, either. We were hopeless in all aspects. Millwall weren't much better, and that made up for yet another horror showing for the fans, but at least they knew how to take their chances. In the 38th minute yet another case of horrendous marking allowed Armin Hadzic to put the hosts in front. Six minutes later we shook the world by actually managing to equalise, Miguel taking advantage of a lucky deflection, but in the 69th minute we decided to gift another goal to Hadzic. This time it was a header that took ages to lob Diba and land in the back of the net. And in the 85th minute our keeper did even worse - he decided to dive at a shot that was going wide, and palmed it to the feet of Wouter de Wit, who couldn't waste such an opportunity. Appaling, once again.

The good, old Aston Villa decided to make a return in the final game of the season. In the return leg, especially in the opening minutes, we were a joy to watch, constantly storming the opposition's gates. In the 12th minute a cross from Jamie Gibson forced Scott Mair to put the ball in his own net, and it was game on. And then in the 73rd minute the crowd finally celebrated for the second time - a beautiful delivery from Callum Forsdick was headed home by Gastón Biggeri. For the first time in a while, I actually felt optimistic. The extra time wasn't as entertaining though. And yet, in the 121st minute a golden chance fell to the feet of Sasa Curcic - a powerful drilled corner aimed at the near post reached him, but his shot was denied by a goal line clearance. And so, our fate was to be decided by penalties. Diba saved the first one to give us an advantage right at the start, but then Kévin Guerin and Gastón Biggeri couldn't cope with the task, and that was it. Season over, and a massive clearout is inbound.

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10 hours ago, Jason the Yank said:

Unlucky at the end. I'd blame the cup run. ;)

 

That, plus key player injuries. Or maybe the other way around. I'd go as far as saying that we would have got automatic promotion and the FA Cup final had Diba not been injured.

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25 minutes ago, deltablue said:

Welcome to my world.

I had a feeling that this thread was missing a failed play-off campaign. :D

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Gylfi Elvarsson's Management Career - Season Review - 2053/54 - Aston Villa

Sky Bet Championship

Results (Aug-Dec) (red line marks my arrival) - Results (Jan-May)

Competition Performance: 3rd

You can all see exactly when it went wrong. All of a sudden we stopped scoring goals, and that denied our challenge for the automatic promotion spot. And the play-offs... well, the form came back just this tiny little bit too late. Hopefully it's not going anywhere anymore.

FA Cup

Competition Performance: Semi Final

It was a truly memorable campaign, including knocking out Manchester City, but our crisis really hit us in the semis. Shame really, I think we did have a shot at the final.

Capital One Cup

Competition Performance: Fourth Round

The previous boss did as well as he could.

Squad

The squad looks great on paper, but what we're lacking is some physicality in midfield and generally players who may not be too rounded, but are excellent at doing a specific job. Both issues I'm going to address in the transfer window.

Transfers (red lines mark my arrival) - Finances

I was rather quiet in terms of transfers. The loanees did well, the club made a profit, but the upcoming window is going to be much more interesting, I guarantee.

We're not in trouble yet, but failing to get promoted means we need to reduce that wage bill.

Player of the Season

1st - Gastón Biggeri - he had some quiet games, but when he was on form, there was no stopping him. We're probably not going to be able to keep him for another season, which is a real shame.

2nd - Fresnel Diba - a goalkeeper simply too good for the Championship. When he was out injured, everyone could see just how important this guy is for us. Not to mention he saved our sorry asses in a few games, that's quite obvious, isn't it?

3rd - Gilberto Cuenca - spraying key passes all over the place, our other loanee did exactly the job he was brought in to do. Similarly to Biggeri though, he's just too expensive for us to be able to afford him on a permanent deal without getting promoted.

Next Season

We need to go up. Simple as that.

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Gylfi Elvarsson's Management Career - Season Preview - 2054/55 - Aston Villa

Board Expectations:


Sky Bet Championship: Promotion
FA Cup: Fourth Round
Capital One Cup: Third Round

My Expectations:

Sky Bet Championship: Win it, or come second at the very least.
FA Cup: A run like the last year's one would be nice.
Capital One Cup: Not important.

Budgets:

Transfer: £16,752,615
Wage: £1,058,321 (currently spending £753,496)
Balance: £23,850,622

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Gylfi Elvarsson's Management Career - Pre-Season - 2054/55 - Aston Villa

Friendlies

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Okay.

Transfers

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Quality - check. Profit - check. Massively reduced wage bill - check.

Julien Robin - unwanted by Liverpool, the French centre back will certainly come in handy.

André Luciano - naturally a centre back as well, but the former Leicester man will be a started in midfield for us.

Yannick Minane - what would a transfer window be without bringing in a cracking player on a free? We have a great replacement for Cuenca here.

Manuel Amort - he's a starting left back in my book, but his versatility may also be used at some point if needed.

Philipp Gärtner - he may not look as good as Biggeri, but I think he should be capable of replacing him.

Ales Rada - the loanee will battle it out for the starting XI spot on the left wing.

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Gylfi Elvarsson's Management Career - August 2054 - Aston Villa

Championship

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Not quite what I was hoping for, but it's okay for now.

First up, Ipswich. Diplomatically speaking, it wasn't the most entertaining game we could produce against the newcomers. In fact, it was just about as boring as it gets. To make things even more difficult for us, in the 34th minute Ales Rada decided the best way to present himself on his debut would be scything someone down with a two-footer. Way to go, young lad. Luckily enough, there was just this one single moment of brilliance, and it happened right at the start of the second half. Raúl Santamaría received a long pass from Eric Mohammed, and went on a wonderful run through the middle, getting past two defenders before finishing with a strike that just screamed pure quality. That wasn't a beautiful victory, but I'll happily take it.

Coventry was an almost identical game to the previous one, with only one significant difference - this time it didn't go our way. We had more of the ball, but we couldn't actually do anything with it, and the visitors were more than content with sitting back and trying to hit us on the break. Which they did - in the 72nd minute a cross floated in from the right wing and Scott Jenkins headed it in from close range. And, yeah. That was pretty much it.

The scoreline would suggest otherwise, but we struggled really badly to break Barnsley down for the entirety of the first half. Luckily, once we got going, there was no stopping us, and we scored some really nice goals while cruising towards victory. The scoreline was opened in the 47th minute. Scott Maguire fought until the end and got to a slightly overhit through ball, slide-tackling it to Philipp Gärtner for a tap-in. Five minutes later our striker, who spent last season on loan at Hearts, grabbed one for himself, and he did so with a wonderful left-footer into the upper 90 after a short pass from Yannick Minane. And we wrapped everything up in the 69th minute - Shane Hawkins worked hard to win possession on the edge of the box, and unleashed an unstoppable hit into the top corner. Almost as powerful as the famous Marcus Brook shots, I'd say.

On paper, Hull were going to be our toughest opposition this month, and their poor start didn't really change too much for that matter. They still had a really good squad, and they were going to give us a proper challenge. Which they did, and probably the draw does both teams more justice - we had more chances, especially after the break, but it was them who got denied by woodwork twice. And it was also them who landed the first punch - in the 40th minute a drilled cross arrived from the right and Mohammed Serpaggi hamered it in from point blank range. Our response came in the 63rd minute, Hawkins delivering a nice finish to Gärtner's pass. As I said, we had the chance to tip the game our way, but we just couldn't take it. I'm all but fine with that.

We're just sooo much better away from home than at our own place for some reason. The Brighton game was exactly the chasing you probably have in mind when looking at the result. The start may not have exactly been too spectacular, but we got one in just before the break, Grant McAllister - another loanee who returned to us from Bournemouth - somehow squeezing a shot in from a ridiculously tight angle. And then we went about dismantling them. In the 59th minute Minane scored his first ever goal for Aston Villa, applying the finish to a fantastic cross by Ales Rada, brought on the pitch just a couple of minutes earlier. And then Rada scored as well - in the 81st minute he found himself on the end of another good cross, this time from Shane Hawkins. And we left the best for the dying minutes - Scott Maguire received a long pass from Hawkins, brought it down, got past a defender, and scored with the perfect inside-of-the-foot effort from the corner of the penalty area. You don't see such goals too often in the Championship, trust me.

Capital One Cup

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This is not ideal, but then again, I was never overly bothered by this cup.

The second string did just about well enough to beat a League Two Morecambe side, but it took us four woodwork shots before we finally got one in. The scoreline was opened in the 53rd minute - Shane Hawkins played a short square ball to Grant McAllister, and the right winger unleashed a very nicely aimed effort into the far top corner. Then we doubled our lead in the 77th minute, Hawkins grabbing a goal for himself after a luckily deflected shot following McAllister's cross. Mickey Mouse cup or not, it's always nice to see two players work together like that.

The duo started against Shrewsbury as well, but this time the opposition just weren't **** enough, to put it bluntly. We had the upper hand most of the time, but the hosts resorted to quick counter attacks and bombing down the flanks, which was just enough to beat our weakened squad on that day. The fate of the game was decided in the 32nd minute, obviously it was a cross from the left wing that allowed Ian Cadden to tap the ball into an empty net and send his side into the next round, probably causing some sort of a so-called upset. As I've already said multiple times, I don't care, as long as we're not within a shot of the final and European football.

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Gylfi Elvarsson's Management Career - September 2054 - Aston Villa

Championship

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We're not as boring as we look, believe me!

31 shots between two teams isn't too shabby, is it? How on earth not a single one found the back of either net, that's another story. We were the better team against Plymouth, creating numerous chances, but at the same time we had to be very cautious at the back because the looked dangerous on the break. The thing is... no one scored. Simple as that.

The Leeds game was a rather different story. We absolutely dominated them, especially in the first half, playing very well and getting into goalscoring positions multiple times, but, once again, our finishing was a major letdown. Only this time the opposition were really, really weak. This time round though we had that one glimpse of luck, and, to add to my satisfaction, it was produced by two players brought on from the bench. Jamie Gibson received the ball on the left flank and passed it back inside to Richard Westwood, who got past a defender before letting off a strike from just inside the box, a strike which found the net at the near post. The goalkeeper could have done better, but I don't care. He's not my goalkeeper.

We could have had the Leyton Orient game wrapped up after twenty minutes. We got off to a strong start, launching a wave of attacks right after the whistle, and in the 14th minute we got in front - a cross from Charalabos Kyriakou landed on the head of Ales Rada, and the loanee winger let off a truly wonderful effort into the top corner. Five minutes later he did another good thing, allowing an opponent to hack him from behind in the box. Kévin Guerin stepped up, but he aimed his strike straight at the keeper, and we couldn't allow ourselves to get comfortable until the game was officially finished. A win is a win though, I can't complain, we played well.

Next up, Derby. One thing's for sure - if it had been April, we would have surely ****ed it up. This time, we came uncomfortably close, but managed to pull everything off in our favour. The goalless first half was marked by our optical advantage, but we couldn't really make it count. And that finally got punished - Josh Dixon's run without conceding was ended by Stuart Wallace in the 53rd minute, the ball arriving from the left wing. That was exactly what we needed to get going though, it would seem. Just three minutes later a shot by Raúl Santamaría was saved by the hosts' goalkeeper, but only for Philipp Gärtner to pounce on the rebound and get things back level. And that wasn't everything the German had to offer - in the 65th minute Rada delivered a cross to the edge of the six yard box, and Gärtner attacked the ball aggressively to smash it into the net. We had some chances to extend the lead, but, once again, we chose not to. Fair enough.

And, finally, Nottingham Forest. It was a very similar story again - a good win in the end, but it took us a while to find our rhythm in front of goal. This time, the most difficult part of the job was done for us by someone else. In the 40th minute Kyriakou put a cross in, and Ayoub Yildirim tried so hard to get in front of Scott Maguire and clear it away that he ended up slide-tackling it into his own net. We kept on pushing, and, believe me or not, we actually managed to get into a two-goal lead. In the 70th minute a cross from Mihael Krznar was initially intercepted, but Grant McAllister worked hard to win the ball back, and he was rewarded with a perfect opportunity to smash the ball in from close range. Thirteen points from five games? Not bad.

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He got a chance thanks to Eric Auger's injury, and, as you can see, he really did make the most of it.

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Because who else? :cool:

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Gylfi Elvarsson's Management Career - October 2054 - Aston Villa

Championship

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I'm really impressed with the way we dominate games.

We started the month with a derby game and a convincing victory. Long story short, we improved our finishing by a large margin. We first broke through the opposing defence in the 16th minute - Charalabos Kyriakou played a powerful low cross to the far post, and Ales Rada got to the end of it and finished off the move with a simple tap-in. The 38th minute saw the breakthrough of Raúl Santamaría, and what a breakthrough it was - the Spanish striker ended his goal drought with a spectacular bicycle kick, Rada with the assist. The third goal was scored exactly at the hour mark by Philipp Gärtner, who received a wonderful long through ball down the middle from Shane Hawkins and used a lucky deflection to find the back of the net. Finally in the 72nd minute Santamaría doubled his goal tally, rebounding Eric Auger's strike. Nothing like a 4:0 win in a derby, eh?

After the international break we started a tougher run of games. First up, Norwich. The presence of a certain Mads Krogh did bring a smile to my face, but on the other hand it was an indicator of their strength. I certainly didn't expect we'd have the game wrapped up after half an hour. In the 12th minute Mihael Krznar opened the scoreline, finding the net after a square ball from Santamaría. Just five minutes later the Spaniard doubled our lead himself, timing his run perfectly to receive a good through ball from Yannick Minane. In the 29th minute everything was done and dusted - a cross from Krznar was headed in by Gärtner. Norwich did have their chances, but Josh Dixon was playing well between the sticks to deny them.

The proper test was scheduled for three days later. Both us and Leicester had broken away from the rest of the league, which set the stage nicely for a battle of our own. A battle that turned out exactly as tough as expected. We started the game motivated enough to build some initiative, and, as a result, it was us who landed the first punch - in the 18th minute André Luciano assisted Krznar for what ended up as a beautiful right-footed curled strike into the top far corner from just inside the area. And that wasn't even the best the Croation had in store. With the half time whistle approaching, he received another pass on the edge of the area, skinned past a defender beautifully and found the net with the most calm and precise placed finish one can imagine. With time passing, Leicester were trying to step their game up, and in the 70th minute they pulled one back through Stefan Want. The final minutes were quite nervy, but we held on and created a nice three point gap at the top.

A perfect month would have been just too perfect though. Looking at the statistics and the overall flow of the game, we fully deserved to beat Sheffield Wednesday. There were no early signs of trouble, either - in the 21st minute we got in front, Ales Rada all but replicating Krznar's first goal against Leicester. Once again it was André Luciano who supplied the pass. The first bad sign was the forced substitution of Kévin Guerin, who left the pitch with a twisted ankle. Without him, we weren't as solid at the back, and in the 50th minute we allowed our concentration to slip, which was exploited by Shane Cunningham aggressively attacking a cross from the right wing. As I said, we had the statistical advantage and we did create a couple of chances to get back in front, but it just wasn't the day. As long as it doesn't turn into some long term problem, I'm fine with the odd slip.

How often do you see a whole half of a match pass without a single highlight being shown? Well, the first half of the Fulham game was exactly that. There was the kick-off, and then 45 minutes of literally nothing. We picked up some pace after the break though, and after a few wasted chances it finally resulted in a goal in the 65th minute. It was Kyriakou with another good delivery from the right and Grant McAllister with a slide tackle to get it past the line. That didn't open the game up too much or make it more entertaining for the poor fans, but we remained in control and we finally had a result. In the 90th minute we put an end to any doubt - Gärtner lost possession, running into two defenders trying to storm into the penalty area, but Shane Hawkins found the net with a very clever first time effort against a goalkeeper who could probably hardly see anything in front of the bodies between him and the ball. 2:0, another win and another clean sheet in the bag. Nice.

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I've only just realised we had a wonderkid on loan!

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Feels as good as the last time.

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Gylfi Elvarsson's Management Career - November 2054 - Aston Villa

Championship

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Hardly an award-winning month.

The curse of former employers strikes again. We didn't really play worse than on any other day against Rochdale, but it was one of these days when our finishing wasn't of the highest standard, and the opposing team managed to create that one chance that ended up as a goal. It happened in the 21st minute - a cross from the right wing was converted by Bojan Spasojevic, who had been denied a sensational solo goal just a few seconds earlier. After scoring they tightened up at the back, to a point where our shots were either blocked or forced wide by uncomfortable positions. Well played, Rochdale.

Dropping points at Peterborough was quite a different story to that. Once again, it was pretty much our usual performance - 61% possession and calmly controlling the game, but the line of restraint was clearly drawn by the hosts, and we had extreme difficulty getting past it. Once we did it, we did it in a rather unconventional fashion - an overhit cross from Manuel Amort in the 24th minute ended up lobbing the goalkeeper and landing in the back of the net. Later a few good opportunities fell to the feet of Raúl Santamaría, but our striker clearly wasn't having a good day. We couldn't hold onto the lead - Amort gave away a stupid penalty in the 80th minute, and Colin Briggs equalised from the spot. Not good.

Northampton gave us a chance to prevent this from turning into a bad run of form, and we manifested our intentions early on. In the 4th minute Scott Maguire put us in front with a beautiful finish to Philipp Gärtner's through ball, and five minutes later Yannick Minane doubled the lead, hammering the ball into the net after Amort's cross. That was exactly the shot of confidence we needed. The next goal was scored in the 69th minute - Ales Rada played a nice square pass just a few minutes after coming onto the pitch, and Gärtner's powerful strike gave the goalkeeper no chance to react. Reece Hammond pulled one back for the visitors after a free kick cross in the 85th minute, but three minutes later we rebuild our three-goal lead thanks to Rada converting a one-on-one situation, Maguire with the assist. I'm not happy that we conceded, but all in all it's a good result.

The month ended with a trip to bottom of the league Millwall, something you know I'm always wary of. The hosts did very well to hold firm and deny us a goal in the first half, but they lost Jamie Whelan to a straight red in the 33rd minute, which made things easier for us in the long run. After the break we didn't keep the fans waiting long - in the 48th minute Gärtner broke the deadlock with a close range tap-in to Rada's drilled cross from the left wing. We scored again with fifteen minutes to go, André Luciano with his first ever goal for the club after Grant McAllister's delivery. Four minutes later Kévin Guerin's powerful driven effort from just outside the box made it 3:0, and that's where it stood. It's good to be back to the winning ways.

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Gylfi Elvarsson's Management Career - December 2054 - Aston Villa

Championship

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Still going strong.

I was thinking Oxford would be a relatively easy opponent, but it turned out I was wrong and they ended up as the first team to put two goals past us this season. They opened the scoreline in the 21st minute - a lucky rebound from Aaron Zeverona left our defenders standing and staring at each other. Then we replied straight away with a Yannick Minane goal, Charalabos Kyriakou with a nice through ball to assist him. After that goal we seemed to regain control of things and I thought another goal for us was a matter of time. It didn't come though, and instead, Oxford hit us again - a horrendously defended free kick was headed home by Ian McConnell in the 78th minute. Luckily we managed to keep our unbeaten run going - five minutes later a corner delivered to the head of Justin Morris by Mihael Krznar allowed us to equalise. The result is still a major disappointment though.

The Stoke scoreline really flatters our opponents - we were much better than them, only we couldn't prove it by clinical finishing. The only goal of the game was scored in the 21st minute, and it was just about as big a classic as it gets. Grant McAllister played a drilled cross, aiming for the far post, and Ales Rada was there to apply an easy finish. As I said, we could have easily put two or three more goals past them, but we pretty much chose not to. I'm happy with the clean sheet.

Next up, a double-header against Colchester. The away game was exactly the confident performance I was expecting. We were all over them right from the start, but waited until the 38th minute to break the deadlock. Minane squared the ball out to Rada, who was presented with a simple task of tapping the ball into an empty net. After the break we turned up the efficiency in front of goal. Philipp Gärtner doubled our lead in the 59th minute, applying the finish to a fantastic cross from Rada. Our next player to score was Raúl Santamaría in the 70th minute - the Spaniard calmly converted a one-on-one situation created by Krznar. Four minutes later he also assisted Gärtner when the German found the net for the second time from a tight angle. This time we did concede though - an outrageous 25-yarder from Dominic Opoku ended up as a Goal of the Month candidate. Well, these things happen.

The return leg was quite a surprise, and not a pleasant one. At first, it seemed like everything would go to plan. Santamaría scored in the 9th minute to give us the lead, getting to the ball in a goalmouth scramble and calmly slotting it home. Andy Morgan equalised for Colchester in the very next minute though, and ten minutes after that all of a sudden he doubled his goal tally and the tables turned in the visitors' favour. Even worse off, that seemed to have given them a confidence boost, and the match turned out to be a tight affair instead of us dominating. In the 69th minute we luckily got what we wanted though - Gärtner laid the ball out to Scott Maguire, who applied a powerful and precise finish to bring things back level. That was all we were allowed though - fair play to Colchester, they really did well that evening.

In the penultimate game of the year, we faced Southend at home, hoping to give them a good beating and get back on track. And we did... partially. Not without some help from the referee - we were awarded a penalty for a foul on Krznar as early as three minutes in, and Kévin Guerin hammered the ball into the net despite the goalkeeper getting his hand to the shot. That set the scene nicely for us, and in the 36th minute Santamaría made our position even better by applying a good finish to a great through ball from Shane Hawkins. The second half didn't start well for us though - shortly after the break a beautiful passing move from the visitors was finished off by Randy St Clair's wonderful strike. Hats off, what a goal. Eight minutes later we got back in control - another penalty was given to us, this time it was Grant McAllister who was brought down in the box, and Guerin made no mistake. That's three more points in the bag then.

And finally, Ipswich. A game perfectly described by the scoreline. Once again, an early goal got us going - in the 5th minute André Luciano had his shot saved by the goalkeeper, but Philipp Gärtner was waiting right behind him to pounce on the rebound and score his 10th goal of the season. That put us in control, and we didn't let go. The second goal was scored in the 62nd minute. A nicely constructed passing move ended with Rada playing a short pass to Santamaría, who knew exactly where that ball was meant to go. And that's about it. We were hardly ever threatened.

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That's a whole different story to the Scottish offers. Swansea sit in 12th in the Premier League at the moment, but they are really a big club in 2055, and getting that job would definitely be a massive step up. I decided to send a cheeky application, let's see what happens next.

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