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Just read this and signed up to comment - I vastly prefer international football to club so this is fascinating to see an entire ten years of simulated tournaments. Do you mind posting the World Rankings (idk if you can take screenshots - if not just post the top 30 or so). 

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Uruguay 2018 World Cup Qualifying Recap

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There were agonising finales and last-second comebacks, in what turned out to be the most brutal and shocking qualifying period ever.

UEFA

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Top team and best runner-up qualifies, the other runner-ups go into playoffs.

Group 1

Netherlands - 24
Serbia - 20
Ukraine - 17
Cyprus - 10*
Latvia - 10*
Armenia - 4
*Head-to-head: Cyprus 2 - 1 Latvia

The Euro 2016 winners qualify easily.

Group 2

Belgium - 22
Republic of Ireland - 18
France - 17
Belarus - 14
Albania - 6
Luxembourg - 5

Belgium reached their first tournament in 8 years, while 2014 runner-up Republic of Ireland have to go through the playoffs. France fail completely.

Group 3

Norway - 23*
England - 23*
Romania - 20
Georgia - 11
Kazakhstan - 9
Andorra - 0
*H2H: Norway 3 - 1 England

England qualified as the best runner-up.

Group 4

Israel - 21
Spain - 18
Turkey - 17
Northern Ireland - 16
Iceland - 9
Liechtenstein - 0

Israel remarkably qualified for their second World Cup in a row on the final day, avoiding defeat in Spain with a 0-0 draw against a toothless side. Turkey failed to capitalise, losing 2-0 in Northern Ireland.

Group 5

Poland - 22
Denmark - 19
Bosnia & Herzegovina - 14
Portugal - 13
Faroe Islands - 11
Moldova - 2

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Poland reach their first World Cup in 12 years.

The days when Portugal were a force in football are long, long gone.

Faroe Islands vastly improved with 11 points, including two wins over Portugal.

Group 6

Czech Republic - 21
Croatia - 14*
Wales - 14*
Slovenia - 14*
Macedonia - 12
San Marino - 3
*H2H: Croatia - 6 points, Wales - 4 pts, Slovenia - 3 pts

The Czechs qualify easily for their first tournament in 12 years.

Croatia almost threw it away with a 0-0 draw in San Marino in the penultimate game, but Slovenia were in the driving seat after a 2-2 draw at home to Wales. Slovenia just needed a point at home to Czech Republic in the final game but, in the very last second, the Czechs made it 1-0, and Croatia squeaked into the playoffs.

Group 7

Austria - 18
Finland - 17
Sweden - 14
Lithuania - 10
Malta - 8*
Switzerland - 8*
*H2H: Malta 4 - 3 Switzerland

Yes, Switzerland finished bottom, while Malta caused havoc in the group. Finland needed just a win in Malta to qualify, but a Maltese equaliser in the last few minutes denied them. Malta's only win was at home to Switzerland, though they had an incredible 3-3 draw in the away fixture, scoring a last-minute equaliser.

Austria qualified for their first World Cup in 20 years.

Group 8

Italy - 25
Russia - 18
Montenegro - 13
Slovakia - 12
Hungary - 7
Azerbaijan - 6

Group 9

Bulgaria - 16
Germany - 14*
Scotland - 14*
Greece - 8
Estonia - 4
*H2H: Germany 1 - 1 Scotland, H2H away goals: Germany 0 - 0 Scotland, GD: Germany +6, Scotland +3

Bulgaria topped the group with a win over Germany in Sofia. But Scotland's 0-0 draw at home to Estonia on the same day meant Germany could reach the playoffs... if they beat the Scots 1-0 or by 2 goals. Thomas Schweinsteiger struck yet again to make it 1-0 and take the spot.

Playoffs (aggregate)

Croatia 1 - 3 Serbia
Denmark 3 - 0 Germany
Finland 1 - 1 Russia (Finland win on away goals)
Republic of Ireland 3 - 2 Spain

Germany-506770.jpg

The Euro 2016 runner-ups fail to qualify in their first campaign without Klopp with a disastrous loss to Denmark.

Spain were 2-1 up with away goal advantage against the World Cup runner-ups, but 2 goals in the last 4 minutes shattered their dreams. Brutal...


CONMEBOL

Conmebol-logo.gif

The top 3 automatically qualify, 4th place must playoff against a CONCACAF team.

Argentina - 36
Colombia - 28
Bolivia - 27

Brazil - 26
Chile - 22
Ecuador - 19
Peru - 18
Paraguay - 14
Venezuela - 8

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Bolivians invaded the pitch with floods of tears after shock qualification to their first World Cup, finishing above Brazil.

On the final day, Bolivia went to Colombia needing to match Brazil's result in Paraguay. At half time, Bolivia were behind to Falcao's brilliance, while Brazil were a goal ahead. But 2 Bolivian goals in 9 minutes changed everything, and they held on to the lead to make history. Monumental...

Joining them are world champions Argentina, who easily qualified unbeaten, and Colombia.

Brazil must go through the CONCACAF - CONMEBOL playoff.


CONCACAF

CONCACAF-LOGO.png

Mexico qualified far ahead of everyone else.

U.S.A. (who made the Hexagonal this time), Canada and Costa Rica battled it out for the two automatic spots and one playoff place.

On the final day, Canada needed to win and hope the other two drop points, and that's exactly what happened as they qualified again.

Costa Rica got a good 1-1 draw at home to Mexico, but U.S.A. lost at home to Honduras, who also missed a penalty. So Costa Rica qualify, but U.S.A. must now go through a South American team.

Also, Nicaragua, who reached the Hexagonal last time, were knocked out by Anguilla, who took their place in the 2nd Phase group stage, but got no further. They did beat Canada though.

COMNEBOL - CONCACAF Playoff (aggregate)

Brazil 3 - 2 USA

The first leg in Brazil ended 1-1. USA were 2-1 ahead in the second leg, with away goal advantage thanks to an 82nd minute goal, but Brazil hit back with an equaliser a few minutes later.

With Brazil needing a goal but down to 10 men thanks to injury, with seconds to go, and an unprecedented failure to qualify for Brazil about to be confirmed, the American centre-back passed to his Mexican-American keeper only for it to go in...

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Shock for both countries...


CAF

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A winner in the 84th minute sent Comoros, who have never even qualified for an African Cup of Nations before, to the World Cup, thanks to being handed a weak group.

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Mali also reached their first World Cup, beating out a monstrous group of death consisting of Egypt, Ghana, Morocco, Senegal and Tunisia.

Nigeria topped their group of death, stopping Algeria, Cameroon, Guinea and Ivory Coast from reaching the World Cup.

World Cup and African Cup of Nations qualifiers: Comoros, DR Congo, Mali, Nigeria and South Africa.

African Cup of Nations Qualifiers: Algeria, Angola, Benin, Cameroon (as hosts), Comoros, Congo, DR Congo, Gabon, Ivory Coast (as defending champions), Libya, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, South Africa.

Togo failed to even get past Seychelles to make the group stage, conceding a last-minute equaliser and then losing on penalties. Savage...


AFC

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Second Round

Several big guns again failed to get through the normally routine second round group stage this year.

In Group 1, Australia failed with a game to spare, Jordan taking their place in the final round instead.

In Group 2, 2014 World Cup quarter-finalists and 2011 Asian Cup champions China failed to make it, being beaten out by Macau with a game to spare (who have skyrocketed in competitiveness since hosting the 2015 Asian Cup, keeping a clean sheet in every game until they qualified for the final group stage).

Iin Group 3, as I predicted, Iran had a frustrating time trying to score, thanks to only 7 goals in 6 games. A loss away to Qatar was a bad start, but conceding a last minute penalty equaliser away to Pakistan meant they needed to better Qatar's result on the final day. But after 20 minutes, Qatar were 1-0 ahead and Iran were 2-0 behind in Vietnam. It all worked out in the end, and Iran scraped through. Englandy...

In Group 4, Lebanon took top spot over Japan, as well as Iraq who incredibly lost both games to Chinese Taipei.

In Group 8, it was Hong Kong that took the final group stage spot over the more fancied teams.

Third Round

In Group A, Saudi Arabia easily qualified, with Iran joining them on the last day. Malaysia took the playoff place, while Hong Kong at least exited with a point gained away to Malaysia.

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Group B was so tight that it all went to the final day. In the end, Macau topped the group to amazingly qualify in what's been an incredible 2 years for them after their Asian Cup performance as hosts. South Korea failed to beat 10-man Jordan, so it's Jordan that also qualify, and South Korea have to go through playoffs.

Playoff (aggregate)

Malaysia 2 - 3 South Korea

South Korea edged an exciting tie with a 1-0 win at home in the second leg to move onto the AFC-OFC playoff. Malaysia fail at the same stage again.
 


OFC

ofc_logo.jpg

Playoff (aggregate)

New Zealand 7 - 1 Tahiti

AFC - OFC Playoff (aggregate)

New Zealand 1 - 3 South Korea

South Korea overturned a 1-0 away loss in a match that wasn't boring. 2 home goals and a missed Korean penalty preceded the third goal inbetween two Kiwi sendings off.


Uruguay 2018 Group Stage Draw

Group A
Argentina - 2014 World Cup winners
Mexico - Perennial World Cup quarter-finalists
Austria
Comoros - Shock qualifiers

Group B
Republic of Ireland - 2014 World Cup runner-up
Norway - 2010 World Cup runner-up
Nigeria - Perennial World Cup second rounders
Canada - The new USA?

Group C
Uruguay - Hosts
Bulgaria
Saudi Arabia
Costa Rica

Group D
Italy
Poland
Iran
Bolivia - Usually one of the 2 or 3 worst teams in South America

Group E
Serbia - Euro 2016 semi-finalists
South Africa
Finland
Macau - A rising force since hosting 2015 Asian Cup

Group F - Group of Dearth
Belgium
Czech Republic
Mali
Jordan - Shock qualifiers

Group G
Colombia
Israel
Denmark
Democratic Republic of Congo

Group H - Group of Death
Netherlands - 2014 semi-finalists, Euro 2016 and 2008 winners, favourites
Brazil - Fallen giants
England - Knocked out at 2014 group stage after the drawing of lots
South Korea - Stuttering 2015 Asian Cup winners

On 16/09/2017 at 19:47, sivso said:

Just read this and signed up to comment - I vastly prefer international football to club so this is fascinating to see an entire ten years of simulated tournaments. Do you mind posting the World Rankings (idk if you can take screenshots - if not just post the top 30 or so). 

Thank you. As you may have figured, the World Cup will be the next post, so I'll post the updated rankings after that megapost. Enjoy this megapost for now. :lol:

Edited by git2thachoppa

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Can you imagine the investigation that would go into that USA-Brazil match? The keeper would be getting FBI audits for the rest of his life!

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How on earth have Ireland become world beaters? I mean I'm part-Irish and all, but even in my FM saves, Ireland have never done anything, even when I'm managing them!!

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Uruguay 2018 World Cup

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Preview

Defending champions Argentina are hot favourites. They've lost only 2 games in the last 5 years, both in one Confederations Cup each.

European champions Netherlands will be second-favourites. They lost to Argentina in the Confederations Cup final. But first they must overcome an exciting group of death also involving Brazil (who only qualified thanks to a last-second own goal in a playoff), England (who were knocked out by drawing of lots last time) and Asian champions South Korea.

All eyes will be on Comoros, Bolivia, Macau and Jordan. A shock result is possible, even likely given previous World Cups, but surely none of them can get out the group stage...


Match Days 1 & 2

Group A

Comoros 0 - 2 Argentina
No opening shock, as the debutants lose (but don't crumble) against the world champions.

Austria 2 - 1 Mexico
Austria come back with a bang after two decades away from the World Cup. They take the lead, get a man sent off, double their lead, then concede in the last minute after Mexico have a man sent off. A big win over the regular quarter-finalists.

Argentina 0 - 0 Austria
Argentina completely dominated, but it wasn't enough.

Mexico 4 - 0 Comoros
The world class strike force of Gamboa and Vela, with two goals each, is too much for the underdogs who are now eliminated.


Group B

Norway 0 - 2 Republic of Ireland
The battle of the two shock World Cup finalists sees the 2014 runner-up beating 2010's.

Nigeria 1 - 1 Canada
A last-minute winner gets a good point for the rising North Americans.

Canada 0 - 0 Norway
An injury and then a sending off in the first 11 minutes means a draw is all Canada could have hoped for.

Republic of Ireland 2 - 0 Nigeria
Nigeria weren't in the game as R.o.Ireland ease to the next round.


Group C

Uruguay 0 - 0 Bulgaria
The hosts' first match is a turgid affair, despite Bulgaria having a man sent off halfway through.

Costa Rica 1 - 0 Saudi Arabia

Uruguay 0 - 0 Saudi Arabia
Another dire display by the hosts.

Bulgaria 0 - 1 Costa Rica
Costa Rica unexpectedly become the second team to reach the next round.


Group D

Bolivia 1 - 0 Italy
Despite having less of the match, the final scoreline is what counts. Huge upset.

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Poland 4 - 1 Iran
A hat-trick from Pawel Zuk and a poor goalkeeping and defensive performance meant it was 3-1 by half-time.

Iran 0 - 2 Italy

Poland 1 - 1 Bolivia
Bolivia took the lead, but went down to 9 men after 2 red cards, and a late equaliser was scored. This means Iran are out.


Group E

Macau 2 - 3 Serbia
Macau had an eventful match: a player sent off, two own goals and a last-minute consolation goal.

South Africa 1 - 0 Finland
South Africa scored after Finland went down to 10 men. The 5th red card in 10 matches so far in this World Cup.

Macau 0 - 0 South Africa

Serbia 0 - 1 Finland
A sending off in 22 minutes saw Serbia eventually go behind, Finland could afford to miss a penalty.


Group F

Mali 1 - 2 Jordan
Two late goals, including a last-minute penalty, give Jordan a dramatic debut win.

Belgium 0 - 0 Czech Republic
Another sending off, for the Czechs, late on.

Jordan 0 - 0 Belgium

Czech Republic 0 - 0 Mali


Group G

Denmark 3 - 1 DR Congo

Colombia 1 - 1 Israel

DR Congo 0 - 0 Colombia
The third match in a day that saw three 0-0 draws and only 6 shots on target between all of them.

Israel 2 - 1 Denmark


Group H

South Korea 1 - 1 England
With tougher opposition to come, both teams will be worried with just a point, England moreso.

Brazil 0 - 0 Netherlands
A Brazilian was sent off before half time.

England 1 - 0 Netherlands
Theo Walcott scores the winner against the European champions.

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Brazil 2 - 0 South Korea


Match Day 3

Key: Team - GF - GD - Pts

Results in spoilers.

Group A
Argentina - 2 - +2 - 4
Austria - 2 - +1 - 4
Mexico - 5 - +3 - 3
Comoros - 0 - -6 - 0

Mexico v Argentina
Austria v Comoros

Mexico went down to an early Bini goal and never threatened.
Austria were wasteful, with only two shots on target in the 50th and 54th minute, but they both produced a goal. That second goal means Austria, of all teams, top the group on goals scored above the defending world champions.

Spoiler

Mexico 0 - 1 Argentina
Austria 2 - 0 Comoros


Group B
Republic of Ireland - 4 - +4 - 6
Canada - 1 - 0 - 2
Nigeria - 1 - -2 - 1
Norway - 0 - -2 - 1

Norway v Nigeria
Republic of Ireland v Canada

More sending offs as R.o.Ireland scored 3 unanswered goals, with the third inbetween two Canadian red cards.
Nigeria had no shots on target, but still got a score draw with Norway thanks to a deflection, a goal that squeezes them through on goals scored after finishing on the same points as Norway and Canada.

Spoiler

Norway 1 - 1 Nigeria
Republic of Ireland 3 - 0 Canada


Group C
Costa Rica - 2 - +2 - 6
Uruguay - 0 - 0 - 2
Bulgaria - 0 - -1 - 1
Saudi Arabia - 0 - -1 - 1

Uruguay v Costa Rica
Saudi Arabia v Bulgaria

Saudi Arabia beat Bulgaria in an otherwise even game.
Costa Rica dominated the hosts and won easily. An awful campaign for Uruguay.

Spoiler

Uruguay 0 - 2 Costa Rica
Saudi Arabia 1 - 0 Bulgaria


Group D
Poland - 5 - +3 - 4
Bolivia - 2 - +1 - 4
Italy - 2 - +1 - 3
Iran - 1 - -5 - 0

Bolivia v Iran
Italy v Poland

Italy turned it round and dominated Poland with a 1-0 win.
Iran's awful World Cup ended with another drubbing as they lost by three unanswered goals to Bolivia. Bolivia fans rejoiced once more, reaching the knockout stages now, while Iranian fans could be heard calling for the return of a certain former manager...

Spoiler

Bolivia 3 - 0 Iran
Italy 1 - 0 Poland


Group E
South Africa - 1 - +1 - 4
Serbia - 3 - 0 - 3
Finland - 1 - 0 - 3
Macau - 2 - -1 - 1

Finland v Macau
South Africa v Serbia

Macau could do nothing to stop Finland beating them three goals to nil.
After coming from behind, a late winner saw South Africa through.

Spoiler

Finland 3 - 0 Macau
South Africa 2 - 1 Serbia


Group F
Jordan - 2 - +1 - 4
Belgium - 0 - 0 - 2
Czech Republic - 0 - 0 - 2
Mali - 1 - -1 - 1

Belgium v Mali
Czech Republic v Jordan

A game that saw only two shots on target ended goalless between Belgium and Mali.
A goal in the 95th minute gave Czech Republic the win they needed to avoid elimination.

Spoiler

Belgium 0 - 0 Mali
Czech Republic 1 - 0 Jordan


Group G
Israel - 3 - +1 - 4
Denmark - 4 - +1 - 3
Colombia - 0 - +1 - 2
Democratic Republic of Congo - 1 - -2 - 1

Denmark v Colombia
DR Congo v Israel

Bendtner has scored in every World Cup game so far after giving Denmark the win over Falcao and co.
Israel overcame DR Congo.

Spoiler

Denmark 1 - 0 Colombia
DR Congo 0 - 1 Israel


Group H
Brazil - 2 - +2 - 4
England - 2 - +1 - 4
Netherlands - 0 - -1 - 1
South Korea - 1 - -2 - 1

Brazil v England
Netherlands v South Korea

A goal in the 1st minute was the only one scored as England failed to get it in the net despite a late Brazilian sending off.
But Netherlands failed to get any of their 8 shots on target past the Korean keeper, and their match ended a goalless draw, meaning England go through to the knockout stages of a World Cup for the first time since 2006, and the first time in a tournament since Euro 2012.

Spoiler

Brazil 1 - 0 England
Netherlands 0 - 0 South Korea


Final Group Standings

Group A
Austria - 7 (+3 GD, 4 GF)
Argentina - 7 (+3 GD, 3 GF)

Mexico - 3
Comoros - 0

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Group B
Republic of Ireland - 9
Nigeria - 2 (-2 GD, 2 GF)

Norway - 2 (-2 GD, 1 GF)
Canada - 2 (-3 GD)

Group C
Costa Rica - 9
Saudi Arabia - 4

Uruguay - 2
Bulgaria - 1

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Group D
Bolivia - 7
Italy - 6

Poland - 4
Iran - 0

int_170905_INET_FC_Boliva_v_Chile_HL.jpg

Group E
South Africa - 7
Finland - 6

Serbia - 3
Macau - 1

Group F
Czech Republic - 5
Jordan - 4

Belgium - 3
Mali - 2

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Group G
Israel - 7
Denmark - 6

Colombia - 2
Democratic Republic of Congo - 1

Group H
Brazil - 7
England - 4

Netherlands - 2 (-1 GD)
South Korea - 2 (-2 GD)


Second Round

Austria 2 - 2 Nigeria (AET, 2-2 FT) (2-1 pens)
Austria took the lead in 16 seconds with a curler, then doubled it in the 9th minute, however Nigeria fought back. 7 of the 10 penalties taken were missed.

Bolivia 0 - 2 Saudi Arabia

Finland 1 - 0 Czech Republic
The Czechs had a man sent off early and never got in the game.

Israel 1 - 5 England

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Argentina 3 - 0 Republic of Ireland (AET)
A repeat of the 2014 World Cup final saw Ireland keep it 0-0 despite over half an hour with only 10 men. But another red card when extra time started was too much to ask for the Irish.

Italy 2 - 0 Costa Rica
It was 0-0 until Costa Rica got a man sent off. Italy scored the resulting penalty and added a second minutes later.

Jordan 1 - 0 South Africa
An own goal continues Jordan's journey.

Denmark 0 - 2 Brazil


Quarter-Finals

Austria 0 - 0 Saudi Arabia AET (4-3 Pens)
Austria dominated, but needed penalties to win.

Finland 0 - 0 England AET (3-5 Pens)
You read that right, England won their second penalty shootout in a row (though their last one was Euro 2008), scoring all 5 penalties.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Jordan 0 - 1 Brazil (AET)
Brazil needed a set-piece in extra time to get past the heroic Jordanians.

Argentina 2 - 1 Italy
A stoppage time winner keeps the champions going into a heated semi-final against their nemesis.


Semi-Finals

Austria 0 - 0 England AET) (4-3 Pens)
An awful match that saw 1 shot on target, with both sides nervous and concentrating on not losing rather than getting a win. They both decided from the first whistle to take it to penalties, and England let slip away a World Cup final. Despite their otherwise incredibly overachieving run, the fans are at their moaning best once again.

article-2164145-13C61947000005DC-787_634

Argentina 0 - 0 Brazil (AET) (5-3 Pens)
Brazil attempted an unBrazilian smash-and-grab, by defending in their own half, and had two close chances. Argentina understandably dominated, but couldn't break through. One missed penalty decided it.

B97341918Z.120140709210703000GGG61O8J.11


Third Place Playoff

England 0 - 1 Brazil
Brazil go through the whole tournament, 7 GAMES, without conceding a goal.


Uruguay 2018 World Cup Final

Austria.jpg    Argentina.jpg

Austria v Argentina

History

The World Cup trend of 2010 and 2014 continues in 2018: once again a big South American side takes on a shock European underdog. The European underdog has yet to win.

Needless to say, this is unprecedented for Austria. They reach 4th in 1934 and 3rd in 1954, but this is their first World Cup appearance in 20 years since France '98. Other than when they hosted in 2008, they've only ever qualified for one European Championships, in 2012. Until this year, they hadn't won any tournament match since Italia '90.

Argentina, meanwhile, are the reigning and defending champions. Their golden generation is aiming to win Argentina's 4th World Cup, becoming the first team since Brazil in '58 and '62 to retain a World Cup.

Form

Argentina and Austria met at the group stage. Argentina dominated, but a man of the match performance from the Austrian keeper Langer kept it at 0-0.

Austria have only won two games in 90 minutes, their group games against Mexico and Comoros. They won all their knockout games on penalties, 2-2 against Nigeria and then keeping Saudi Arabia and England to 0-0. This will surely be their gameplan today.

Argentina have only conceded 1 goal so far, and the only matches they didn't win were 0-0 draws against Austria and Brazil.

Managers

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Austria's now deified manager is Andreas Heraf. He earned 11 caps for his country before becoming a manager and eventually taking charge of Austria in 2013. He made the team difficult to beat - they qualified unbeaten, with 6 of the 10 matches being draws.

gerardo-martino-argentina_3470618.jpg?20

Argentina's manager is Gerardo Martino. He managed the country in their 2010 World Cup campaign, where they were knocked out by runner-up Norway on penalties in the quarter-finals. In his second spell in charge, he's qualified unbeaten and only conceding 7 goals in 16 matches, and won last year's Confederations Cup.

Team News

Austria are without Junuzovic, who has 2 goals and 1 assist, through injury. They also have 1 suspension.

The only injury concern for Argentina is one of their centre-backs, who has a cold, but he still starts.

Austria play 4-4-2: Langer (Leicester City); Steiner (Albacete), Jovanovic (Pasching), Oral (Fenerbahce), Hamann (c) (Feyenoord); Harnik (Atalanta), Mitrovic (Gratkorn), Cuneyt (Besiktas), Angerschmid (Inter Milan); Ozcan (Stuttgart), Sikorski (Messina) - 3 Serie A, 2 Austrian Bundesliga, 2 Turkish Super Lig, 1 Premier League, 1 La Liga, 1 Eredivisie, 1 2.Bundesliga

Argentina play a 4-3-1-2 with wide strikers: Ustari (Inter Milan); San Román (Newcastle United), Juliá (Werder Bremen), César Sánchez (River Plate), Insúa (c) (Juventus); Gago (Newcastle United), Trecarichi (Sevilla), Del Gizzi (Lazio); Aguero (Atlético Madrid); Higuaín (Real Madrid), Bini (Chelsea) - 3 Serie A, 3 Premier League, 3 La Liga, 1 Argentine Primera División, 1 Bundesliga

6 of the team that won the 2014 World Cup start today, 2 more are on the bench.


First Half

Unexpectedly, Austria go for it. They have a couple of good chances, but Argentina take the lead in half an hour when the Austrian keeper gives the ball to one of the best strikers in the world, Bini, who scores. The lead is doubled by a world class curler from another world class player in Higuaín, who becomes only the second ever player to score in two consecutive World Cup finals (Brazil's Vavá became the first in 1962).

Gonzalo-Higuain-689589.jpg

Second Half

Argentina have dominated possession, but then sit back and allow Austria possession, challenging them to score two goals without going down to a counter attack. Argentina should increase their lead twice, but don't. In the 88th minute, an Austrian free kick by a substitute lobs everyone in the area into the far side of the goal.

alessandro-schopf-marko-arnautovic-oster

Late drama? Argentina get so nervous that they give away an offside free kick from a goal kick. Austria bounce the ball forward with one-touch football and the final shot goes just over the bar. The full time whistle blows.

Final score: Austria 1 - 2 Argentina

===============================================================

2018 World Champions
ARGENTINA

===============================================================

c4s_argentina070614_13469092_8col.jpg

Awards

Golden Ball: Hamed Al-Bagawi (Saudi Arabia)
Golden Boot: Claudio Gamboa (Mexico) with 3 goals in 258 minutes (5 other players finished on 3 goals)
Golden Glove: Lopes (Brazil) didn't concede a single goal in 7 games, despite facing 30 shots from the likes of Argentina, Netherlands and England (twice)

Team of the Tournament:

------------------------------------------------------------------------ Lopes (Brazil) ---------------------------------------------------------------------
Imudia (Nigeria) -- Al-Bagawi (Saudi Arabia) -- Hone (R.o.Ireland) -- Juliá (Argentina) -- Harrison (R.o.Ireland)
---------------------------------------------------- Sánchez (Bolivia) --- Trecarichi (Argentina) ----------------------------------------------
--------------------------------------------------------------------- Aguero (Argentina) ----------------------------------------------------------------
---------------------------------------------- Bendtner (Denmark) --- Passiglia (Italy) --------------------------------------------------------

Fun Fact: There was an average of 1 sending off every 3 matches in what was a volatile World Cup.


Selected Managerial News

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John Sheridan stepped down as Republic of Ireland coach after their second round exit. The World Cup final being the highlight of his career.

Israel's manager, Eitam Shalom, stepped down after 8 years that saw Israel twice qualify for the World Cup and reach the second round, as well as mend relationships and help spark world peace through the power of football.

javier-aguirre-mexico-argentina-sudafric

The hosts, Uruguay, unsurprisingly sacked their manager after failing to even score against Bulgaria, Costa Rica and Saudi Arabia.

Former Arsenal flop, Javier Aguirre, was sacked as Mexico manager, perhaps harshly given they were in a group with the two finalists, but it was the first time since 1978 that Mexico failed to reach at least the second round of a World Cup that they qualified for (thus excluding 1982, as well as 1990 when they were banned).

Miodrag Jesic left Serbia, after a debut World Cup as an independent nation and a Euro 2016 semi-final.

Francois Monguéhi left Mali after a World Cup debut and two African Cup of Nations finals for the country.

Iran sacked Bijan Zolfagharnasab after a 4-1 loss to Poland, 2-0 loss to Italy and 3-0 loss to Bolivia, 4 years after their best ever World Cup performance under their old manager, who is now in charge of Young Boys in Switzerland and writing an incredible autobiography to critical acclaim, available online.


Updated FIFA World Rankings

As requested by @sivso

RG8MRTy.png
28 Costa Rica (up 38 places) - 1040
29 Algeria (up 2) - 996
30 Norway (up 12) - 989
39 Wales (down 10) - 837
41 Spain (down 6) - 813
48 Scotland (down 16) - 739
50 USA (down 7) - 732
55 Portugal (down 1) - 692
57 Northern Ireland (up 6) - 676
73 New Caledonia (up 4) - 493
84 Luxembourg (up 14) - 372
86 Australia (down 3) - 356

Edited by git2thachoppa

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On 05/10/2017 at 11:58, HawkAussie said:

Where is New Zealand in those rankings. Don't tell me that they are behind New Caledonia now.

New Zealand are 46th.

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2018/19 - Young Boys

June to July - Pre-season

Friendlies

Charleroi 2 - 0 Young Boys
C Goals: (45), (86)

Young Boys 2 - 2 Lyon
YB Goals: Stanojevic (40), Rezapour (53)
L Goals: (79, 86)
Disallowed YB Goal: Mijic (90+3)

Caen 1 - 1 Young Boys
C Goal: (24)
YB Goal: Stanojevic (26)

Young Boys Reserves 2 - 0 Young Boys (second-string)
YBR Goals: Fink (33, 79)

When they say you should do your transfer business early, they mean in June/July. I did mine in January/February! A bunch of pre-arranged free transfers come in at the start of the window. The most important two were one to stop the goals and one to score them, both valued at £1.2m:

Altin Haliti was a young Albanian striker. He was arranged before my arrival and didn't look much to me, having averaged a goal every 2 games in the Croatian second tier, but my assistant and the fans though he was the best striker by far. They wouldn't be too wrong.

Simone Guido was the goalkeeper I signed to take over the #1 spot. But he was only 20. His age made him unreliable and he was eventually dropped after awful form.

Even though I chose the biggest wage budget for the season, the 5 new signings bumped the wage bill to slightly over budget. I would be unable to sign any more players without selling first, and I could only sell one. The keeper Toselli (the Joe Hart of the club) was one I couldn't move, and I rejected a £550k bid for Angels (ST) thinking I could get more, and ended up not being able to sell him. However I was happy with my signings for now.

Some quality former players also came into the coaching setup for their first non-playing role, including Mikel Arteta (Barcelona, Real Madrid, Ajax) and Cyril Théréau (Southampton), as well as Eduardo (Croatia, Barcelona, Benfica, Fiorentina, Koln) in December.

The bookies believe we'll be 5th, way ahead of FC Zurich in 6th, but a good bit behind Basel, Luzern, Thun and Grasshopper in 4th. I believe we should be looking at top 3 or 4.


July to August - A promising start

Swiss Super League

Basel 1 - 1 Young Boys
B Goal: (10)
YB Disallowed Goal: Stanojevic (20)
YB Goal: Haliti (25)

Luzern 2 - 2 Young Boys
L Goal: (22)
YB Goals: Haliti (23), Stanojevic (48)
L Goal: (50)

Young Boys 1 - 1 Neuchatel Xamax
NX Goal: (18)
YB Goal: Barbu (27)
YB Knock: Novak (53)
Disallowed NX Goal: (95)

Young Boys 3 - 2 Zurich
YB Goal: Gramatikov (13)
Z Goal: (30)
YB Goals: Stanojevic (33, 41)
Z Goal: (71)

Thun 0 - 0 Young Boys

Young Boys 0 - 1 St. Gallen
SG Goal: (43)

P6 W1 D4 L1 F7 A7 GD0 CS1

Our first 6 games sees us get 2 away points to the top 3 teams last season, and only lose to surprise leaders St. Gallen. The dominant Swiss club Basel were lucky to even get a point at their own ground. Haliti (ST) was scoring and providing from the start, while Lyubenov (DC) was consistent despite being played 'out of position' (by choice) as a wing-back.

The only problem was defence, with the supposedly decent centre-back pairing of Gramatikov and Mijic making 5 mistakes and conceding 3 goals in the first 2 matches. But a long-term injury to one meant that might be cut down.


September - No time to panic yet

Swiss Super League

Young Boys 1 - 2 Schaffhausen
YB Goal: Haliti (39)
S Goals: (44), (65)

Grasshopper 1 - 1 Young Boys
G Goal: (52)
YB Goal: (69)

Young Boys 0 - 0 Delémont
YB injury down to 10 men: Rezapour (90)

P3 W0 D2 L1 F2 A3 GD-1 CS1

Swiss Cup 1st Round

(7th, 1st tier) Young Boys 3 - 1 Etoile-Carouge (3rd tier)
YB Goals: Rezapour (50), Hammond (pen 80), Furtado (89)
EC Goal: (90)

The month started with a loss at home to a relegation-battling team suffering a defensive injury crisis and playing an 18-year-old reserve keeper.

With Europe the aim, the cup draw would be kind for us, starting with the first of many home games against lower-league opposition, allowing me to play a second-string for a laborious victory.

Despite a failure to win a league match this month, there was no need to panic. The league was ridiculously tight, where one win will shoot you up the table. Especially as everyone else was drawing too.

I readjust and change from a 4-1-3-2 (1 CM) to a 5-3-2 (2 CMs, 1 AM). Out go the underperforming wingers and in come more promising players at wing-back and central midfield.


October to December - Stopping the rot

Swiss Super League

(8th) Young Boys 2 - 0 Luzern (9th)
YB Goals: Trajkovic (7, 47)

(5th) Neuchatel Xamax 4 - 4 Young Boys (6th)
NX Goals: (4, 7)
YB Goals: Stanojevic (8), Haliti (11, 33)
NX Goal: (39)
YB Goal: Haliti (85)
NX Goal: (87)

(7th) Young Boys 1 - 1 Basel (3rd)
YB Goal: Hammond (pen 44)
B Goal: (54)

(10th) Zurich 1 - 0 Young Boys (7th)
Z Goal: (17)
Z Red Card: (49)

(8th) Young Boys 0 - 0 Thun (3rd)

(9th) Schaffhausen 3 - 2 Young Boys (7th)
S Goals: (18, 48), (26)
S Missed Penalty: (52)
YB Goals: Haliti (84), Szepessy (90+2)

(9th) Young Boys 0 - 1 Grasshopper (3rd)
G Goal: (14)

(3rd) St. Gallen 2 - 0 Young Boys (9th)
SG Goals: (48), (70)

(3rd) Delémont 3 - 1 Young Boys (9th)
YB Goal: Furtado (19)
D Goals: (28, 42), (67)

P9 W1 D3 L5 F10 A15 GD-5 CS2

Swiss Cup 2nd Round, 3rd Round, Quarter-Final

(7th, 1st tier) Young Boys 1 - 0 Sion (4th, 2nd tier)
YB Goal: Haliti (22)

(10th, 2nd tier) Wil 0 - 0 Young Boys AET (9th, 1st tier)
Pens: 4 - 5 (8 rounds)
YB Second Yellow: Nadirov (105)

(9th, 1st tier) Young Boys 3 - 0 Chiasso (12th, 2nd tier)
YB Goals: Haliti (40, 54, 81)

The defenders much prefer the back 3 but (despite scoring 4 in one match) we would go 5 games without scoring in a 6-game period.

I would also be forced to take off the young new goalkeeper Guido due to form getting worse, not better, and put Toselli back in, though he would not be a vast improvement.

The underperformance would come in the midst of many players wanting to leave to bigger clubs, or just not getting on with each other.

After the Grasshopper result, where they dominated easily, I would've resigned had it not been for the cup run potentially saving the season. Reaching the semis, we were now only two (maybe only one) round away from European football, needing only to overcome another second-tier side and then, if necessary, a bottom-half top-tier side in the final.

Impotence in attack meant I changed tactics again, from 5-3-2 to 4-1-3-2. Bodies in attack. Also I abandon keeping the ball on the ground and play long ball. Performance immediately improves although we lose the next two games before beating Chiasso in the last game of 2018. We will get more points next year.

One other positive was the youth. Injuries in defence led to 21-year-old Travers (DL) and 17-year-old Boll (DC) getting runs in the first team, and they stepped up to the challenge. Travers would even stay in the first-team. Perhaps when the season restarts, I should give more youth a chance.


Winter Break

League Table (after 18 games)

1 - Basel - 30 points
------------
4 - Grasshopper - 25 (Last European place)
------------
8 - Schaffhausen - 22 (Safety)
------------
9 - Young Boys - 15 (Relegation playoff place)
------------
10 - Zurich - 14 (Relegation place)

P18 W2 D9 L7 F19 A25 GD-6 CS4

Basel top the table as usual, but only by a point. The rest of the table is completely random. The only large gap is between 8th and 9th...

After reviewing the team, I know an overhaul is needed. I will trust more in the young reserves, who are performing well in the reserve league. This means I can get rid of a lot of chaff, and free up the budget for just one or two key signings. Despite the pre-season signings, I seem to still need another keeper and striker.

The board claimed to be satisfied for now, while the fans were not. But after Christmas and into the New Year, with an overhaul of the squad about to begin as I start to arrange the sales of players, I'm called by the chairman to come in first thing with some stunning news.

I am sacked.

Obviously disappointing, because we were in the semis of the cup and I could see results improving with the system change and certainly if I could sign a good keeper. But I guess time ran out. I was going to see out my contract till the end of the season, the feeling wasn't mutual. I leave the club after one year with them no better off than when I arrived, when they were fighting relegation and in the cup semis. Arguably worse, being in 9th.

I was replaced with Ivan Hasek, a journeyman with an unspectacular record who is now at his 7th club in under 6 years.

So this is the end of the questionable topic titles.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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January 2018 - Rebuilding Both Our Reputations

I worried I'd be back where I started, having left Young Boys in a league and cup position no better than when I joined in little Switzerland, but I needn't have worried.

Having kept the club away from the relegation zone and finishing one place from the European spots in half a season, my next club gave me the same task just a week after my sacking, in a far bigger league.

Valenciennes FC

Valenciennes_FC.svg

SEftIqX.png

With a contract until the end of the season (and a small pay rise after being sacked!), I'm tasked with avoiding relegation.

They haven't got a lot of money or a top training facility, and aren't even in the relegation zone, so I could ruin my reputation here by failing spectacularly. But I wasn't expecting to get an offer from as high up as a midtable French Ligue 1 club, so it might be a one-off chance I should take now. Especially with half the transfer window still to go.

And I only have to travel over the border. I don't speak French (German was the language in Bern, Switzerland) but it's basically English isn't it?
 

Budgets

Transfer: £1.75m

Wage: £200k, with 30k available. (The median average wage is about £7.5k.)
 

League and Cups

With many other countries being dominated by just one or two teams, Ligue 1 has become the neutral's favourite league. It may only be the 6th best league in Europe (incidentally behind Ukraine in 4th), but it has seen 4 different winners in the past 4 seasons, with Lyon's grip loosening.

With just over half the season gone, 2012 and 2013's back-to-back champions Saint-Etienne top the table. It's very tight in the bottom half; 7 points separate 20th and 11th.

There is one unfamiliar name: SO Romorantin. They've gone from the 4th tier to Ligue 1 in 10 years, and are currently 12th in their debut season.

Table

1st - Saint-Etienne - 45 points
5th - Amiens - 34 (Intertoto Cup place)
10th - Bordeaux - 30
11th - Brest - 24
15th - Valenciennes - 20
18th - Sedan - 18 (Relegation zone)
20th - Sochaux - 17

Valenciennes were knocked out by Lyon in the first match of their League Cup campaign, but are still in the French Cup after squeaking past Sedan on penalties. The cup game next weekend, away to an amateur side, will be my debut as manager. Easy start?
 

Club History - Rebuilding A Destroyed Reputation

Derby_Valenciennes_VS_Lille_(Stade_Nunge

The club were founded in 1913 and were one of the founding members of Ligue 2 in 1933. They yo-yoed between the top two leagues, and made their only French Cup final appearance (losing 3-0 to Strasbourg in 1951), until they were the participant in the 1993 Marseille match-fixing scandal.

OM_C1_1993.jpg

Marseille paid them to "go easy" before their European Cup final and with the title in reach, a result that relegated Valenciennes. Their reputation destroyed, they were relegated twice in a row before relegation to the 4th-tier 2 seasons later due to financial problems, leading them to become amateur and file for bankruptcy.

Within a decade, they made they way back to Ligue 1 thanks to two promotions in a row. After one more relegation and promotion, they quickly established themselves as a trouble-free midtable side, with their best finish in half a century last season when they finished 9th.

They've failed to get past the 2nd round of the League Cup for 5 years, but make a quarter-final appearance in the French Cup every few years.

I'm their first English manager since 1947. I take over from Laurent Banide, who had done nothing wrong in his 5 years at the club.

Valenciennes itself is a small town a few miles from the border of Belgium, in the north-east of France. It's only a couple of miles across and has a population of just over 40,000, although the metropolitan area is closer to 400,000. The town was nearly completely destroyed by the end of WWII. It's one of the less exciting places I've stayed at.

The club chairman, who is a local councillor and politician, is willing to listen to offers.

Fierce rivals are Marseille, no surprise given the 1993 match-fixing scandal. Lens and Lille are also rivals, due to geography.
 

Stadium

1200px-Stade_Nungesser.jpg

Stade Nungesser

Named after a local WWI ace pilot and adventurer, it's an unspectacular little stadium that seats 23,000.
 

Squad

There are over 30 senior players at the club, so depth is an understatement. No need to sell any yet, I might not stay past the summer anyway, so if form is good I can try them all out and see who we should cash in on in the summer (if I choose to stay). But a third of them will be out of contract with most not interested in renewing,

The strikers and defenders look particularly good.

A few strikers are scoring regularly enough, which suggests relegation will never be a real threat.

The defence have only kept 3 clean sheets in 23 games this season, but individually there is a quality defence. I'm shocked to see the 4k-rated Algerian left-back Boudib is actually a good-looking young player, so he may start my first game.

Despite performing well for 15 games last season (7.13 average rating), goalkeeper Béranger has played second-fiddle to Charrier despite his awful form the past 2 seasons (6.57, 6.58). Béranger is my #1 and Charrier is transfer-listed as his contract is running out and he, like many players, has no interest in renewing anyway.

The midfield seems a weak area. There are no stand-out players, despite having 5+ sodding men available for each position. But if you have to have a lack in quality somewhere, I'd rather it be midfield. I will look to buy/loan an attacking central midfielder.

A 20-year-old Portuguese defender, Dias, is on the transfer list and rightly so, but he says he thinks his career is over. I hope I can find him a club...

With safety likely, I'm allowed to bring my own staff if I wish. I will only keep a few people.

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January 2019 to May 2019 - Valenciennes

Escaping relegation was the aim with my new club, with 7 points separating the entire bottom half of the league and Valenciennes bang in the middle.

I was so confident of safety that I rotated quite a bit, majorly as time and points went on. I was looking to try everyone so in the summer, if I stayed, I could cut down the squad...

======================================================================


January to April - A Great First Impression

Results

French Cup
 

Spoiler

 

10th Round

(Amateur) Montagnarde 1 - 7 Valencienes (15th, Ligue 1)
V Goals: Antonio (5), Scotto (14), Ros (17, 19)
M Goal: Alcoba own goal (34)
V Goals: Ros (41), Yana (52, 78)

11th Round

(9th, Ligue 2) Bastia 1 - 0 Valenciennes (AET) (13th, Ligue 1)
V Disallowed Goal: Ros (93)
B Goal: (119)

 

Ligue 1

Spoiler

 

(14th) Laval 1 - 2 Valenciennes (15th)
L Goal: (63 pen)
V Goals: Ros (70), Antonio (90+3)

(13th) Valenciennes 1 - 0 Sedan (18th)
V Goal: Noto (36)
S Red Card: (59)

(10th) Bordeaux 0 - 0 Valenciennes (11th)

(12th) Valenciennes 2 - 1 Toulouse (14th)
V Goal: Ros (20)
T Red Card: (27)
V Goal: Locó (49)
T Goal: (pen 51)

(7th) Paris Saint-Germain 2 - 0 Valenciennes (11th)
PSG Goals: (51, 56)

(11th) Valenciennes 2 - 1 Saint-Etienne (2nd)
S-E Goal: (pen 54)
V Goals: Benchergui (76, 90+1)

(9th) Nantes 0 - 1 Valenciennes (11th)
V Goal: Sobiech (20)

(10th) Valenciennes 2 - 2 Brest (14th)
V Goals: Bergougnoux (15), Benchergui (28)
B Goals: (45), (70)

(2nd) Lille 2 - 0 Valenciennes (10th)
L Goals: (31), (38)

(10th) Valenciennes 0 - 0 Dijon (19th)

(4th) Marseille 1 - 0 Valenciennes (11th)
M Goal: (90+2)

 

 

 

League Record: P11 W5 D3 L3 F10 A10 GD0 CS4 PTS18

valenciennes_celebrate0511.jpg

For my first game I could pick my first-choice team, using my favoured 4-4-2 diamond formation. And in my first game I matched the club's biggest ever victory in history: a 6-goal margin from 1936.

The first league game saw our captain injured after 3 minutes, a defender have to be subbed off after 30 minutes due to risk or a second yellow, and a questionable penalty conceded. It looked like it was going to be a heartbreaking defeat. Yet we won 2-1, a sign of the determined and positive attitude of the squad.

A run of 5 wins and 1 loss in my first 8 games included wins over Sedan and Toulouse for the first time in 4 seasons, and over Toulouse for the first time in 11 years / 18 matches.

The defence was discipined and the attack could carve open the opposition, something I wasn't used to at Young Boys.

But there was no cup run, as a mistake in the final minutes of extra time knocked us out to a second-tier side. But it again showed the squad's good attitude, as they nearly all backed the player who made the error rather than got angry.

stefan-babovic.png

With midfield the weak area, I quickly signed Stefan Babovic, a 32-year-old AMC, from Benfica for £300k. He played all but 1 game, despite heavy rotation.

I also loaned Adel Travers, the young left-back who impressed when pushed into the team when I was at Young Boys, but found himself back in the reserves since my sacking. The scouts don't rate him at all, but as a loan at 0% wages I thought he's worth a try. He's better off here as well, rather than rotting in the reserves of his club. He wasn't overawed and made the step up again, with a 7.11 average rating in 8(1) games, and would soon be bought permanently for just £20k.

7e4c8.jpg

On the staff, I bring in a scout who I last saw 10 years ago at Varese, a couple more staff from Young Boys, and one of the coaches to come in is recently retired French international Benoit Pedretti.

loco-hair.png

34-year-old defender Locó, who hadn't played a league game this season and made 1 start + 11 sub appearances in the previous 2 seasons, won Player of the Month in his first month of games, despite his stupid hair. In fact, Player of the Month was won 3 months in a row by Valenciennes players - defender Locó in February, central midfielder Pedro María Riera in March, and Mangani in April who plays in both areas.

Several players' contracts were expiring, and centre-back Liassine Cadamuro became the first (but ultimately only) player to sign for another club rather than renew. He chose to join Sedan, who were bottom of the league and eventually relegated, which suggests he's a bit thick. His average rating for me in 6 games is 7.67, so it's a huge shame.

The chairman also started to actively look to step aside, with one failed takeover before the season ended.

======================================================================


April to May - Giving Everyone A Chance With Safety Confirmed

Results

Ligue 1

Spoiler

 

(12th) Valenciennes 3 - 0 Sochaux (15th)
V Goals: Jensen (11), Hellqvist (25), own goal (63)
V Injury Down To 10 Men: Morin (79)

(15th) Romorantin 1 - 1 Valenciennes (10th)
V Goal: Yana (14)
R Goal: (65)

(18th) Créteil 0 - 0 Valenciennes (11th)

(11th) Valenciennes 1 - 1 Lyon (6th)
V Goal: Babovic (64)
L Goal: (86)

(9th) Rennes 2 - 1 Valenciennes (11th)
R Goal: (9)
V Goal: Scotto (76)
R Goal: (87)

(13th) Valenciennes 0 - 0 Amiens (6th)

 

 

 

League Record: P6 W1 D4 L1 F6 A4 GD+2 CS2 PTS7

With safety confirmed, I rotated even heavier and played players whose future I hadn't decided, leading to a drop in form after a blistering 3-0 start.

The spectacular goals at both ends continued. After Sobiech's goal against Nantes (a freekick that went in off the far post) was runner-up for Goal of the Month and a Brest diving header we conceded was 3rd, the Rennes match alone had a goal-of-the-season long range curler of an equaliser nullified by a goal-of-the-season long ranger off-the-post winner. Lille's long range curler off the crossbar against us was runner-up for Goal of the Month. The Lyon match even saw our goalkeeper providing an assist from a goal kick.

I tweaked my 4-4-2 diamond formation due to all but 2 of the wingers not being good enough or only playing well in central midfield. So I moved the winger positions into central midfield for a 4-3-1-2.

======================================================================


Final League Table - Ligue 1 (France)

1 - Lens - 74 (Champions)
--------------------------------------------------------
7 - PSG - 58 (Intertoto place)
--------------------------------------------------------
13 - Valenciennes - 45
--------------------------------------------------------
18 - Romorantin - 34 (Relegation zone)

League Record Before My Arrival: P21 W4 D8 L9 F24 A31 GD-7 CS3 PTS20
League Record Since My Arrival: P17 W6 D7 L4 F16 A14 GD+2 CS7 PTS25

Even with the main focus on experimenting over results, Valenciennes would've possibly qualified for Europe for the first time ever in that form, if I was there from the start of the season.

So Lens won back-to-back titles on the final day. Amiens won their first French Cup, and Lens won their third League Cup in 6 years after a 1-0 last-minute extra time victory over Rennes.

I was offered a longer and improved contract, with more than double my wage. But I had to think about it. After my time at Varese and Young Boys, I'd been looking for a job where this time I wasn't forced to only sign free transfers. Valenciennes is not that job; with the finances always dipping into the red by April (before bumping up back to health in the summer with prize and TV money), there will be no transfer or wage budget available until I sell.

However the squad has won me around. It's a talented team that doesn't seem weak-minded. 3 Player of the Months in a row, contenders for Goal of the Season flying in everywhere, historic results in just a few months, and all but a few players with average ratings above 7.00. At worst we can have one good season, and Ligue 1 is a great level to be at in my career.

So I accepted:

Wage: £5,500 per week
Expires: Summer 2021

And I began my squad review...

Edited by git2thachoppa

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2018/19 Recap - Club Football

Biggest Summer Transfers
Renaud Rodriguez (22, French, DM/MC) - Manchester United to AC Milan - £33.5m
José Luis Estupinán (26, Ecuadorian, MC/DM) - Portsmouth to Chelsea - £18.25m
Stéphane Wanzi (24, French, DC/DR/SW) - Lazio to Juventus - £16.25m
Cetin San (23, Turkish, MC/AMC/AML/ML - AEK Athens to Hertha BSC - £15.5m
Andrei Mihai (23, Romanian, MC/DM) - Werder Bremen to Arsenal - £15.25m

Biggest Winter Transfers
Iker Soria (24, Spanish, DL) - Sevilla to Inter Milan - £23.5m
Torsten Gebhardt (26, German, DC) - Roma to Inter Milan - £21m
Paulo Roberto (23, Brazilian/French, ST/AMR) - Corinthians to Albacete - £15.25m

2018 Awards

Manchester City's Argentine forward Walter Abdala was named World Player of the Year. Bayern Munich's German striker Thomas Schweinsteiger and Real Madrid's French-Ivorian striker Sekou Fofana came 2nd and 3rd.

Carlos Vela won his second Ballon d'Or European Footballer of the Year award, 5 years after his first. His attacking partner Nicklas Bendtner had to make do with 2nd, while Chelsea's South African striker Mxolisi Thorne is 3rd.


European Cups

OedZeeAgaBXLzng-128x128-noPad.jpg?146694

The Champions League final took place at the Santiago Bernabéu so, after 6 league titles in a row, Marcelino's Real Madrid were as obsessed as ever to get La Decima. It was their destiny, which became evident in the semi-final when they overturned a 3-0 loss over the impenatrable Arsenal with a 4-0 win at the Bernabéu.

2017 European champions AC Milan, managed by José Manuel de la Torre, stood in their way in the final.

1-1 at full time was followed by Madrid having an extra man for extra time thanks to a Milan injury, but a sending off for a professional foul in the 99th minute evened the numbers out and it went to penalties.

692728_w2.jpg

Real only scored one, Milan scored all theirs, and the trophy went to AC Milan for the 2nd time in 3 years. The 17-year wait for La Decima continues.

2b5.gif

(I don't know why I posted that gif. We all know Ronaldo is a Man Utd winger.)

2016 Champions League winners Bayern Munich were left with the UEFA Cup, after a 3-1 win over Napoli.


England

England.jpg

Premier League

Steve McClaren's Newcastle United ran away with the title even further than they did 3 years ago, winning with 4 games to spare in April, eventually finishing on 90 points and just 2 losses.

Roy Keane's Manchester United took great pleasure in getting back into the Champions League, as it was directly to Liverpool's and Manchester City's detriment.

Frank Lampard's reward for not only getting Preston North End to the UEFA Cup this season, but to the knockout stages, was the sack in February. To top off the ingratefulness, he was replaced with the manager HE replaced, Sporting CP's UEFA Cup-winning manager Sammy Lee (who in turn was replaced with Pep Guardiola at the Portuguese club).

Aston Villa's 30+ years in the Premier League ended after finishing bottom.

Domestic Cups

Thomas Doll's Manchester City picked up their first F.A. Cup in 50 years with a 2-1 extra time win over Arsenal. The quarter-finals featured one League 1 side and 4 Championship sides.

Championship Southampton won only their second ever cup, their first ever League Cup trophy, after Fritz Schmid's team beat Premiership Leicester City 1-0.

Football League

Tottenham Hotspur bounced straight back into the Premier League under new manager Steve Tilson, finishing top of the Championship.

Peter Beardsley's first job since England manager ended after 2-and-a-half years at Wigan Athletic, unable to get the Championship promotion hopefuls to where they want to be.

One of England's longest serving managers, Iain Dowie, was sacked by Fulham after nearly 9 years. He established them as a midtable Championship side after relegation, so not the biggest of achievements.

To the horror of fans, he was replaced with Ashley Cole, who relegated promotion-chasing Cardiff to League One last season in his first year as a manager. Fulham got what they deserved as 'Cashley' did it again: they were relegated to League One for the first time this century, finishing rock bottom and 8 points below anyone else. Glenn 'Mr Relegation' Hoddle has competition.


Spain

Spain.jpg

Real Madrid's 6-title winning streak was broken by a shock champion.

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Gordon Strachan lifted the La Liga trophy with a game to spare, Real Betis becoming champions for only the second time in their history, their first being 1935. BEFORE WORLD WAR II. They also won the double, beating Real Zaragoza 2-1 in the Copa del Rey final.

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Carles Puyol's first management job at Cádiz ended after bringing the top-half Segunda División side down to the relegation zone in 2-and-a-half seasons.


Portugal

Portugal.jpg

The top 3 of Porto, Benfica and Sporting was blown apart, with only one team (Porto, as champions) finishing in the top 3 for the first time since 1976.

Bottom-half regulars Vitória SC finished 2nd, yo-yo club Penafiel 3rd, and midtable Rio Ave 4th. Benfica and Sporting were 5th and 7th, Sporting embarrassingly squeaking into an Intertoto place.

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And Mr Relegation, Glenn Hoddle, did it yet again. After contributing to relegation at 3 of his last 4 clubs, including two double-relegations, he successfully relegated Belenenses in just 2 years.


Belgium

Belgium.jpg

Belgium did it again.

The league took its place in football history after three different teams finished top with equal points two seasons in a row a few years ago, and all but one champion has won by 2 or less points since, making it one of the most exciting major leagues ever.

And this time, two teams finished on equal points: FC Brussels won their 3rd title in 4 years, squeaking past Club Brugge on 'games won'.


Germany

Germany.jpg

Hamburg SV once again broke Bayern Munich's title streak, Patrick Collot winning the title with 2 games to spare.


Italy

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AC Milan won the title back from Inter, with their usually dominating rivals finishing way back in 4th. But thanks to both of them, the Serie A Scudetto hasn't left Milan in 12 years and counting.


Switzerland

Switzerland.jpg

I watched with smugness as my former club, Young Boys, still struggled after sacking me. The new manager's first game ended in a 3-0 loss at home, and it was 6 matches until a win was picked up. Eventually it turned round and Young Boys escaped a relegation playoff on goal difference after they and their rivals both lost on the final day. But they squeezed into the Swiss Cup final on penalties, eventually winning 4-2 with mostly my bloody players and my sodding formation, meaning Europe is achieved.

Basel recovered and won their 8th title in a row, their 16th in 19 years, by 10 points.


Other News

FC Dallas became the first North American team to reach the Club World Cup final, after beating Corinthians 3-2. Though they were powerless to do anything about the mighty Inter Milan, losing a respectable 2-0.

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2018/19 Recap - International Football

2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup

Concacaf_goldcup_logo.png

It was an exciting tournament!

Mexico (who have won 3 Gold Cups in a row) were knocked out in the quarter finals by Jamaica, while USA were eliminated in the semis by Costa Rica, meaning the final would be contested between two countries that had never won it before: Costa Rica and Guatemala.

091414-600-costa-rica.jpg

A year after reaching the 2nd round of the World Cup and getting 3 wins and clean sheets in the group stage, Costa Rica won the Gold Cup final 2-1 thanks to 2 runs with the ball from star striker Alvaro Alvarado.

No shame for Guatemala, who beat Haiti 13-0, Jamica 5-0 and drew with Mexico on the way to the final and new heights in the tournament.

After picking up their first Gold Cup win and point since 2003 last time, Cuba drew with Trinidad & Tobago and then came from 3-0 down to Jamaica at half time to equalise within the hour... but 2 more Jamaican goals stopped them from reaching the knockouts.

Canada sacked Mo Johnston after failing to get a win at the World Cup was followed by losses to Honduras and Costa Rica.


Colombia 2019 Copa América

Diego+Forlan+Athletico+Madrid+Training+P

Manager Diego Forlán lifted the trophy, as the Uruguay legend took last tournament's runner-up a step further, beating Renato Gaúcho's Brazil on penalties after a 0-0 draw. It's their first trophy since 1995, but they'll look to retain it as hosts in 4 years' time.

Mexico were sensational after a poor Gold Cup, beating Peru 3-0, Brazil 2-0, USA 5-1 and world champions Argentina 1-0 before being easily knocked out by the eventual winners.

After Bolivia's shock qualification for the 2018 World Cup was followed by a shock debut World Cup win over Italy and a shock appearance in the second round, they made it to the semis before being knocked out by Brazil, by one missed penalty in a 5-4 shootout.

Despite being hosts, Colombia still suffered their fourth quarter-final elimination in a row.

Back-to-back World Cup winners Argentina only won 1 match in 4, losing to Uruguay and Mexico and drawing 0-0 with Venezuela.

Venezuela will be pleased with draws against the world champions and the eventual Copa América winners.


2019 Bahrain Asian Cup

Logo-Asian-Football-Confederation_181006

Qualifying

For the second time in a row, North Korea failed to get out of the easy first stage of qualifying. With just Chinese Taipei and Bhutan as opposition, they lost both games.

Maldives qualified for their first Asian Cup.

Hong Kong finished second in their final group, below China, to qualify for the first time since 1968.

Thailand beat Japan 2-0 to go above them and qualify on goal difference.

Though Japan still squeaked in, as they often do, as the best 3rd placed team.

Finals

South Korea retained the Asian Cup after Kim Do-Hoon's team won 1-0 over surprise finalists Uzbekistan.

Vietnam also had a historic tournament. Since the second ever tournament in 1960, they had failed to qualify until hosting in 2007. They had yet to make it out the group stage, but this time got all the way to the semi-final with 4 clean sheets in a row before falling 1-0 to an Uzbek team that suffered 5 injuries during the game.

My second country and former employers Iran got out of the group but only with 1 win, an embarrassing draw with the Maldives and then Vietnam, before leaving with a whimper with a 2-1 loss to U. A. E.

Hosts Bahrain could only get draws with Hong Kong and Jordan.

China's rise seems to have faltered. the 2011 winners and 2015 runner-up failed to make even the later stages of World Cup qualifying before this group stage exit of 1 point (against Thailand). However they have a lot of very exciting and promising talent which should peak by the time of the next tournament, maybe even the World Cup a year before it.

Japan returned to dire normality by exiting at the group stage after three 0-0 draws.

Maldives' first tournament saw them get impressive 1-1 draws with Iran and India.


Elsewhere...

trophy-lift-u19-euro-final-1400-150717.a

England U19s at last lifted the U19 European Championship after 4 runner-up spots since their last win, as hosts, in 1993, 26 tournaments ago. They beat Netherlands 4-0 in the final.

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On 11/12/2017 at 23:02, Nobby_McDonald said:

Asia has gone a bit nuts then.

I suppose as nuts as any other continent. In general the weak teams have improved greatly while most of the big teams are a bit inconsistent.

Should probably write a complaint after unrealistic things like USA failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and some small island nation winning the OFC Nations Cup once to qualify for the Confederations cup instead of New Zealand.

The likes of Bolivia, Comoros, Macau and Jordan qualifying for the last World Cup is fine, but that's just ridiculous.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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2019 Post/Pre-Season - Valenciennes

Squad Review

Goalkeepers

Emmanuel Charrier had been #1 since arriving 7 seasons ago, despite not even achieving an average rating of 6.6 the past two seasons. I immediately dropped him and he dropped down to Ligue 2 Cannes when his contract expired.

Instead I used Eric Béranger, who had an average rating of 7.13 in 15 league games last season. After 3 clean sheets in 21 games before my arrival, he helped get 7 in 17.

So Béranger was now the only non-youth keeper, and a new one was necessary. Jean-Baptiste Guimard, a young Belgian, was signed for £1.1m from Aston Villa's reserves as a promising prospect. He may already be good enough.

Out
Charrier - Cannes (Ligue 2) - Free

In
Guimard - Aston Villa (Championship) - £1.1m


Defenders

Despite the loss of 7.33 average-rating Liassine Cadamuro on a bosman to a Ligue 2 side, the other dozen in defence were brilliant. Most got over 7.25 average rating.

Locó was the highest performer. He'd only played 12 games the past 2 seasons, all but 1 as sub, but when I arrived the 34-year-old Angolan international got games and a 7.44 average rating.

Adel Travers came initially on loan from my former club Young Boys. Just looking at him, the 21-year-old left-back is nothing special but, just as he did when I gave him a run at YB, he raised his game again and got 7.25. I bought him for only £20,000.

Two centre-backs came in on a free transfer in the summer.

24-year-old Bjorn Schmidt was signed before I came, but with Tackling of 20, and Jumping and Strength at 17, I'm not complaining, and neither are the fans who already have him as Favoured Personnel.

Andrea+Masiello+Atalanta+BC+v+Sassuolo+S

Andrea Masiello is 33, but the Bordeaux player was having a 7.31-rated season so I snapped him up. Anoraks will note that Valenciennes, the team involved in the Marseille match-fixing scandal, have signed a player who himself took bribes to fix matches. But in this universe, he never admitted it so no one knows...

There is a mix of experience and relative youth in what is the club's strongest area.

Out
Sobiech - DR - Lorient (Ligue 2) - £1m
Bibi - DR/L/C - Roeselare (Belgian First) - £60,000
1 reserve/youth - £90,000
Total: £1.15m

In
Travers - DL - Young Boys (Swiss Super) - £20,000
Schmidt - DC - Wacker Tirol (Austrian Premier) - Free
Masiello - DC - Bordeaux (Ligue 1) - Free
1 reserve/youth - Free
Total: £20,000


Midfielders

The weakest area, all but 2 wingers at the club were no good and dropped with the aim to sell them later. As the 2 wingers both played on the left, and everyone else played better in the centre, this meant a change from 4-4-2 diamond to a 4-3-1-2 with 3 central midfielders and 1 attacking midfielder, and the wingers having to play completely out of position but coping well enough.

One was Mohamed Fekih, who is technically a great attacking midfielder. I wanted to keep him but, with his contract expiring next year and not interested in renewing, and then an injury until around November, I had to try to sell him. Despite being watched by the likes of PSG and Anderlecht, no one took the leap for the £2.5m-rated player, so he ended up staying.

My only signing last winter was Stefan Babovic for the AMC position. The 32-year-old got a few assists and a goal. AMC is a luxury position, so he did his job of contributing to the odd goal and making key passes.

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Mike Jensen is a club favourite. I thought I would have to sell him, but a move to central midfield made him discover form. Clearly his best position.

Despite being the weakest area, I wasn't able to find anyone to add yet, especially when the transfer embargo took place while a takeover continues.

Out
Normand - MC/AMR/ST - GAK (Austrian Premier) - £1.2m
Abdullaev - MR/L/AMR/L - Libourne St-Seurin (Ligue 2) - £400,000
2 reserve/youth - £100,000
Total: £1.7m

In
Babovic - AMC - Benfica (Primeira Liga) - £300,000


Strikers

Despite talent, the team only got 16 goals in 17 league matches after I arrived. Mathias Hellqvist and Antonio are club favourites, but Hellqvist was like Cavani (good positioning but refuses to score) while Antonio is missing something. Hellqvist was sold.

Isaac Ros is the club's star striker and another Favoured Personnel. He was the club's Fans' Player of the Year and came 3rd in the 'French Players' Most Promising Player' award. The Brazilian only got 2 goals in 7(4) games for me, but got a goal every 2 games in the first half of that season. He's been thinking about moving to a bigger club, and now even dislikes one of the young strikers, but so far I've managed to get him to stay.

Lotfi Benchergui was my pet project. He's actually a midfielder, but when I saw him I had him train as a striker. He got 3 goals and 2 assists in 4(5) games. But the Algerian really wanted to leave, and his contract had one year left, so I had to sell him for only £1.7m.

I saved a couple of youth products from the reserves. At 20 and 23, it remains to be seen if Cédric Bergougnoux and Gérard Morin have what it takes.

I made 2 free transfer signings for the summer.

Georgios%20Samaras(1).png

Georgios Samaras is 34 but can still score a few in the likes of Serie A.

Robert van der Heijden is 22. His attibutes are relatively average with nothing standing out yet, he's one to develop. But he still scored 74 goals in 140 appearances for Go Ahead Eagles in the second tier of Dutch football, as well as 2 in 4 Under-21 appeareances for country. His value as of writing is the highest at the club: £5.25m. More than the club has in the bank!

Out
Hellqvist - Romorantinais (Ligue 2) - £1.7m
Benchergui - MR/C/AMC - Basel (Swiss Super) - £1.4m
1 reserve/youth - Free
Total: £3.1m

In
Samaras - Palermo (Serie A) - Free
van der Heijden - Go Ahead Eagles (Dutch second-tier) - Free
Total: £0

Total Out: £5.95m
Total in:
£1.42m


News

Media prediction for 2019/20 is 14th, the board want to bravely fight against relegation. The fans just want to see investment and a team being built. Good luck with a transfer embargo, tight budget and unfashionable team.

The uncapped striker Isaac Ros is called up by Colombia for the Copa América, but he lasted only 15 minutes as a sub in his Colombia debut. The injury rules him out of the rest of the tournament.

Somboon Saengsawad, our very strong defensive player (mentally and physically, not as much technically) has better luck in the Asian Cup, captaining minnows Thailand to a draw with 2011 winners and 2015 runner-up China and avoiding embarrassing results.
 

Friendly Results

Given we only had one, tired, goalkeeper and useless youths for the first 4 friendlies, results/performances were good.
 

Spoiler

 

(5th, Ligue 2) Bastia 4 - 3 Valenciennes (13th, Ligue 1)
V Goal: Riera (2)
B Goals: (6), (12), (41)
V Goal: Ros (72)
B Goal: (87)
V Goal: Ros (90+2)

(13th, Ligue 1) Valenciennes 0 - 1 Hertha BSC (5th, Bundesliga)
H Goal: (73)
(13th, 3rd tier) Nancy 1 - 1 Valenciennes
N Disallowed Goal: (3)
V Goal: Morin (42)
N Goal: (52)

(5th, 3rd tier) FK Pirmasens 1 - 2 Valenciennes (13th, Ligue 1)
FK Goal: (18)
V Goals: Samaras (36), own goal (66)

(13th, Ligue 1) Valenciennes 0 - 0 Werder Bremen reserves (3rd, Bundesliga)

(13th, Ligue 1) Valenciennes 1 - 0 Hoffenheim (3rd, 2nd tier (promoted to top tier))
V Goal: Morin (88)


 

 

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IMPORTANT NOTICE

Please, sit down, you'll need to take this in.

I was writing an update for an eventful season. It was the most stressful horrible season I have ever played. My most frustrating experience in a game. The bad 'luck', the screwjobs, were unbelievable.

Entertaining for the reader, but imagine through your playing life all the mistakes, dodgy decisions and bad luck for an idea. Like your keeper passing to a striker in the final second. Or that time everyone ignored instructions and left the goal open for a set piece winner. Or players not being marked, when winning goals were disallowed, when a star player got injured on their debut, when nearly all your squad were out. And as an experienced FM player knowing it's just how it plays out somethime, not down to the rookie errors of too intense training or messing up instructions.

Now imagine every single thing happened in the space of one season, and I haven't even told you about the new signing who was out injured, then immediately got injured the very minute he recovered.

Anyway, I write the results and notes while I play. So I came in my thread today and put this in and fleshed it out as a season recap for my latest entry. And Luck, Fate, had one final laugh at my account.

After about an hour or so of writing, I put my hand on the mouse and my thumb hit the 'back' button.

It's ok, the in-post editor always saves! For once, I didn't have to worry about backing up anyway, it always saves the smallest of posts!

NO. It didn't save a damn thing. It had been open for over an hour. It didn't save at any time?

I had written a lot, I liked how it all came together, in the zone I guess. That is gone. Now I sit here powerless. I'm not much of a cryer, but I want to cry, even though my body won't let me.

There are people starving to death and living through war, I know, but I feel so pointless and powerless. I just need that text back. But I also know it's gone. Yet I also hold out hope it'll all fix itself. Then I think "it's happened, let's just do it again, the situation cannot be changed so this is the only way", but nothing comes out. Now I want to write, but I can't.

But how much more goes to waste if I stop now? I've already written the notes of my season, the season around the world for clubs and international, Euro 2020 qualifying and Euro 2020 itself. All that would've been as pointless as bothering to wanting to add an entry today, and Luck/Fate would be just as vindictive.

Most of all, I don't know who reads this. Is anyone even reading this now. I know I get a couple of posts, though I don't know how much is read, and if I write too much or even too little, if it's a waste of time and effort. I was going to put a short version, tl;dr, at the bottom of this post. But perhaps I'll just leave it like this. If anyone comes in, I'll see if they read this ****. Anyone there?

So in irony I've probably just wasted my time again writing all this out. But it's all I can write right now.

The point I'm making here is I want to say that's enough. All of this is clearly pointless. But I know I also want to share my experience. And this one season was a one-off. No other season was particularly stressful, and it's obviously fun when you're winning. But this isn't right, and it's probably worse that I wasn't responsible for the injuries, the mistakes, the bad luck.

I sound like an addict, and obviously addicts don't think they're addicted, but I'm not like that. I didn't play FM for a couple of years recently, I'll go months without playing it at times, I'll only play it if I'm in the mood. But this ******, awful, joke of a season with its screwjobs and horrific yet entertaining luck kept me playing at least until it let me have a win and end the day on a happy note. I spent Christmas frustrated, and at least an underlying sense of annoyance when not playing. Or maybe I'm remembering it wrong right now because I've gone over the edge and my head is tingling.

And for what? This is supposed to be a game. There needs to be challenge. A game where you can win easily is ****. But a game that so vindicitively screws you over without context is even less of a game. I don't know where this came from, I don't know why star strikers suddenly can't shoot on target, why a training system that's worked for a decade suddenly sees half the squad out with an injury per game, or if that's even the cause. I don't know why the game disallows all my goals, has my keeper pass it to their striker in the 95th minute so they can get 3 points. I know it's a thing, it has no conscience, but this is out of the ordinary in my decade of playing FM 07. I once won every competition in a calendar year, so I'm not simply bad at it and this is its weird way of telling me.

Maybe I should just quit this now. This writing, this game. But I'll always have that happy feeling sorting out a squad, but this has ruined me. I know there are people who have had divorces, worn suits and all that over this game, so it's a good thing I think this now when I've 'only' just been annoyed and stressed out and in a bad mood. But I think back on the work-free Christmas period and I just feel it wasted. I will be taking some extra time off work to compensate.

Perhaps I will go to sleep, I will wake up, and I'll write it all again and it'll all be fine. Or I'll wake up and still feel powerless like being harrassed by a big bully that has abused me for so long and who I can't hit back. (Though I learned hitting back is the best way to deal with a bully - thanks TV and adults for lying to me and saying you should ignore them!)

I hope I wake up and can write it all, and I'll go to work and it won't suck, and I'll just not treat the game so seriously. I've now wasted 2 hours doing all this. If it hadn't deleted everything, I'd have done the entry by now, with something far more amusing and entertaining than this. If anyone reads.

I'll stop writing now. I'm sure all people in the house have heard the past few weeks are my keys tapping, like one of those fellas who lives on the internet and forums arguing with people, when really I was 'playing' a 'game' and writing about it for 'fun'.

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4 hours ago, Nobby_McDonald said:

That was a long winded way of saying you ****ed up posting. :D

Like how a eulogy is a long-winded way of saying someone was alive but now they're dead.

But if you read it and you replied, you passed the test.

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5 hours ago, HawkAussie said:

A long post for a stuff up that you did. 

Yeah, I just wrote, it was my only way to cope. I guess the potential last update of a thread is gonna be a long one.

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Since I already have over 50,000-characters of notes, I'll do those entries, and then we'll see. I normally avoid posting on weekends 'cause activity is so high that most people will miss it. But I'm feeling ok to write and not in the mood to do anything else right now, so I best take advantage now.

Valenciennes - 2019/20 - The Unluckiest Season Ever

Whether it be simply fate, the worst luck, or karma still not forgiving the club for their part in the 1993 Marseille scandal (or an unholy alliance of all the above), this was the maddest unluckiest season I've ever seen, and the most frustrating I've ever experienced (in any game or anyone else's).

Watch as an injury crisis that includes double injuries, a player getting injured coming off the physio's bench as he got the all-clear, an injury per game (even on debuts), all despite normal training schedules, keepers passing to the opposition in the last second, players leaving attackers unmarked and the keeper going for a **** behind the goal when the last free kick of the game is taken, double disallowed winners, missed penalties.

Someone dug up a native American's grave or something, but did the club survive it? Was I to pull off the greatest escape in history? Not just for escaping relegation, but the ever-angry will of God Himself?

======================================================================


August to October 2019 - An Unfathomably Bad Run (Of Luck And Ineptitude)

Results
 

Spoiler

Ligue 1

(Predicted 18th) Troyes 3 - 0 Valenciennes (Pred. 14th)
T Goals: (18), (42, 52)

(Pred. 14th) Valenciennes 0 - 1 Rennes (Pred. 10th)
R Red Card: (82)
R Goal: (90)

(Pred. 5th) Lyon 1 - 0 Valenciennes (Pred. 14th)
L Goal: (45+1)
(Pred. 14) Valenciennes 0 - 0 Lens (Pred. 1st) RIVALS
V Disallowed Goals: van der Heijden (52), Bergougnoux (66)

(Pred. 14) Valenciennes 1 - 2 Amiens (Pred. 10th)
A Goal: (1)
V Red Card: Scotto (75)
V Goal: Antonio (78)
A Goal: (94)

(Pred. 9th) Toulouse 1 - 1 Valenciennes (Pred. 14th)
T Goal: (9)
V Goal: Antonio (57)

(Pred. 14th) Valenciennes 0 - 1 Bordeaux (Pred. 11th)
B Goal: (86 pen)

(Pred. 15th) Le Mans 0 - 0 Valenciennes (Pred. 14th)

(Pred. 14th) Valenciennes 0 - 1 Sochaux (Pred. 16th)
S Goal: (65)

(12th) Nantes 3 - 1 Valenciennes (20th)
N Goal: (2)
N Disallowed Goal: (17)
N Goals: (24 pen), (40)
N Missed Penalty: (50)
V Goal: Ros (52)

League Cup

2nd Round

(Pred. 8th, L2) Cannes 1 - 3 Valenciennes (Pred. 14th, L1)
V Red Card: Locó (32)
V Goal: Antonio (40)
C Goal: (50)

V Goals: Bergougnoux (82), Samaras (90+1)

3rd Round

(20th, L1) Valenciennes 1 - 2 Marseille (11th, L1) RIVALS
M Goals: (19), (31)
V Goal: Travers (61)

League Record: P10 W0 D3 L7 F3 A13 GD-10 CS2 PTS3, Pos: 20/20

Things that happened in this period, in chronological ****ing order:

- The markers gave the player a free header from a set piece while the keeper gave the player an open goal to head it into for 0 points

- 2 disallowed goals in our impressive 0-0 draw at home to the champions

- The injury crisis begins: 10+ players out somehow

- With a point rescued, the goalkeeper, our best-rated player in our team, passed a goal kick to the opposition so they could win with the final kick

The takeover of Valenciennes is complete, with the new chairman looking to float the club on the stock exchange, which raises a relatively unspectacular £2.9m but doubles the money in the bank

So it seems the fans and board (who predicted relegation) know more than the media and me (who predicted midtable).

After trying different tactics, formations and personnel, the only thing that's changed is we're now leaking goals as well as not putting away our many shots. And after trying to micromanage, my last resort is to play how I think my replacement might play: regular 4-4-****ing-2, and let the players make their own decisions.

======================================================================


October 2019 to March 2019 - More Realistic Form, But Luck Keeps Chipping Away

Results
 

Spoiler

Ligue 1

(20th) Valenciennes 3 - 1 Créteil (16th)
C Goal: (18)
V Goals: van der Heijden (31), own goal (49), Ros (59)

(14th) Saint-Etienne 3 - 1 Valenciennes (19th)
SE Goals: (2), (40), (53)
V Goal: Babovic (60)


(20th) Valenciennes 1- 1 Brest (17th)
V Goal: van der Heijden (7)
B Goal: (55)

(14th) Auxerre 0 - 0 Valenciennes (20th)

(20th) Valenciennes 2 - 1 Lille (2nd) RIVALS
V Missed Penalty: Jensen (23)
V Goal: Jensen (23)
L Goal: (28)
V Goal: Ros (30)
L Disallowed Goal: (54)

(19th) Laval 3 - 1 Valenciennes (20th)
L Goals: (28), (31)
V Missed Penalty: Jensen (45+3)
L Goal: (70)
V Goal: van der Heijden (90+2)

(20th) Valenciennes 2 - 0 Metz (18th)
V Goals: Antonio (14, 29)

French Cup 9th Round

(9th, L1) Le Mans 1 - 1 Valenciennes (17th, L1) AET (1-1 FT)
Penalty Shootout: 3-4 (after 5 rounds: 1-1, 2-1, 3-2, 3-3, 3-4)
LM Goal: (76)
V Goal: van der Heijden (88)

Ligue 1

(13th) Marseilles 4 - 1 Valenciennes (17th) RIVALS
M Goals: (7), (19, 60), (45)
V goal: Samaras (75)
V knock, down to 10 men: Schmidt (89)

(18th) Valenciennes 2 - 1 Paris Saint-Germain (4th)
V Goal: Scotto (13)
PSG Red Card: (37)
V Goal: Bergougnoux (47)
PSG Goal: (49)

French Cup 10th Round

(5th, L1) Amiens 4 - 2 Valenciennes (16th, L1)
V Goals: Bergougnoux (13, 15)
A Goals: (24), (52, 90+1), (72)

Ligue 1

(7th) Rennes 2 - 0 Valenciennes (16th)
R Goals: (87, 90+3)

(17th) Valenciennes 3 - 0 Lyon (7th)
V Goals: Saengsawad (pen 5, 87), Scotto (72)

(2nd) Lens 3 - 1 Valenciennes (16th) RIVALS
L Goals: (13), (17)
V Goal: van der Heijden (24)
L Goal: (49)

(3rd) Amiens 4 - 0 Valenciennes (16th)
V Goals: (9), (35, 62), (pen 56)

(17th) Valenciennes 0 - 1 Toulouse (11th)
T Goal: (15)

(8th) Bordeaux 0 - 3 Valenciennes (17th)
V Goals: Fekih (12), Bergougnoux (71, 75)

(17th) Valenciennes 0 - 1 Le Mans (11th)
LM Goal: (pen 63)

(7th) Sochaux 1 - 1 Valenciennes (17th)
S Goal: (42)
V Goal: Mansour (62)

(17th) Valenciennes 2 - 1 Nantes (11th)
V Goals: Morin (2, 18)
N Goal: (39)
V Disallowed Goal: Scotto (69)

League Record: P18 W7 D3 L8 F23 A27 GD-4 CS4 PTS24
League Place: 16/20 (2 from relegation zone), P28 PTS27

It looked like it was going to be more of the same, as Créteil politely played for a draw yet still took the lead via deflection, but the players pounced on one of the usual post rebounds to force a defender into an own goal as we won our first match of the season.

Then, despite being dominated by 2nd-placed rivals Lille in the second half and facing 29 shots, 13 on target, we survived and won 2-1 thanks most of all to our #2 keeper's (Béranger's) Man of the Match performance. Such is his nature, he let in all 3 shots in the next match and was the sole cause of that loss.

There was also a dramatic cup game. Béranger gifted Le Mans a goal, the 2 substitute strikers Samaras and vdH combined for a late equaliser, and Le Mans hit the post in stoppage time. End to end football in extra time was followed by a shootout where we came from behind to win, the keeper making amends by saving the last 2 penalties.

This was all undone in the next round away to defending winners Amiens, who were missing half their team due to the African Nations. 2-0 up after 15 minutes, we threw it all away by ourselves. Amiens were very lucky to not lose 4-0.

After providing that assist, Samaras requested a transfer. We thought he'd be one of the key players, but instead he was ineffective and ended up on the bench and allowed to go back to Greece for a month. So I accepted.

But Luck still had its way. In chronological ****ing order:

- Yet again we only concede because for some reason an attacker is left completely unmarked and free to literally stroll into the area with the ball

- Masiello returns from injury after 3-and-a-half months and then strains his calf getting off the doctor's table and is immediately out for up to another month

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- Ros, who's scored 3 in the last 7, and who I subbed off to protect, is suddenly injured the next day for 2 months

- New star signing injured 30 minutes into debut

- Ros returns from injury, so immediately our #2 striker gets injured for possibly the rest of the season.

- A rate of 1 injury per game begins

And In an attempt to gee up the players for one match, I have the audacity to tell the media that a match at home to an 18th-placed side is a game we should win. This causes our best striker and two best defenders to become nervous for the game. Nothing's simple. At least we won 2-0.

While looking for midfielders, I came across a cheap, young centre-back from the league below. Iraqi international Ali Mansour had an average rating of 7.31 on loan in Ligue 2, was only 23, only £550,000, and already had 19 Strength, 19 Jumping, 18 Tackling, 19 Teamwork, 17 Work Rate, 18 Concentration, 19 Bravery, and competent elsewhere. He would go on to be our best player this season, despite injury 30 minutes into his debut.

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Also Paulo Machado, a 33-year-old central midfielder, came in on loan. He's average, the scouts agree, but he was offered to us on free loan by Amiens so why not? It was good, as he would be a steady 7.00 for the handful of games he played.

I also recall our on-loan left-back Boudib, due to poor form of Mangani, one of our designated left-backs. Boudib got first-team experience, including the UEFA Cup, with 7.00 average rating in Belgium's top league.

Due to leaking goals away, I changed tactics to something more defensive for away games, from 4-4-2 diamond to 5-3-2/5-4-1. We immediately beat Bordeaux 3-0 away, with Boudib getting an assist on his return, Fekih (AML) scoring 12 minutes into a return after signing a new contract on the promise of first team football, and a dropped Babovic (AMC) coming off the bench, trying out a free role, and getting 2 assists.

And a 1-2 month injury for one of our good players, of course.

But we pick up a few more points in away games.

======================================================================


March 2019 to May 2019 - A Bought Ref And The Strikers Suddenly Lose Their Instinct

Results
 

Spoiler

 

Ligue 1

(17th) Créteil 2 - 0 Valenciennes (16th)
C Goals: (37), (pen 87)

(17th) Valenciennes 1 - 1 Saint-Etienne (13th)
S-E Goal: (44)
V Goal: Jensen (53)
V injury, down to 10 men: Morin (90)

(19th) Brest 1 - 0 Valenciennes (17th)
B Goal: (50)

(17th) Valenciennes 0 - 2 Auxerre (14th)
A Missed Penalty: (40)
A Goals: (75), (90+1)

(3rd) Lille 1 - 0 Valenciennes (17th) RIVALS
L Goal: (4)
L injury, down to 10 men: (90)

(19th) Valenciennes 0 - 1 Laval (17th)
L Goal: (45+1)
V Missed penalty: Fekih (45+2)

(20th) Metz 0 - 0 Valenciennes (19th)

(19th) Valenciennes 3 - 1 Marseilles (14th) RIVALS
M Goal: (22)
V Goals: Didot (45), Antonio (45+2, 55)

(4th) Paris Saint-Germain 2 - 0 Valenciennes (18th)
V Disallowed Goal: Didot (34)

(18th) Valenciennes 2 - 2 Troyes (17th)
T Goal: (pen 28)
V Goal: Jensen (30)
T Goal: (39)
V Goal: Locó (pen 50)

 

League Record: P10 W1 D3 L6 F6 A13 GD-7 CS1 PTS6

The results spoiler will tell you the story well. The injuries, the missed penalty, the disallowed goals, and the disappearance of goalscoring instinct were all too much for mortals to overcome.

Créteil provided another turning point. The last match with them had started a run of form, this match started a run of disaster.

I walked into the dressing room with the players expecting me to destroy them, having just lost 2-0 to a relegation rival who hadn't even scored, let alone won a point, in their last 5 games, and we didn't even get a shot until the second half.

"That was an awful performance... but never mind. You didn't lose today, so forget about it."

A few looks of surprise, but only a few, after the match they just saw they knew what I meant.

The first goal was offside, the penalty was questionable, whenever we tackled it was a foul. The whistle blew every 10 seconds. I looked at the stats before they got the first goal, 14 fouls to us, 5 to them.

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"Don't say this publicly, but the ref was bought today. We had no chance. This club has a lot of bad karma. But if we avoid relegation with everyone and thing against us, that will be such a huge achievement."

But no tactic, no variation of players and positions, can stop a team from having at least 1 shot on target. Our young #1 keeper, Guimard, who started so strongly before injury with 7 and 8 ratings, now had four 6s in a row. You shoot and usually nothing will stop the ball going in. And sometimes, even if you have no shots, you will still get a penalty. He must be dropped, a real shame. We will lose some games with Béranger now in goal, but we would lose all games with Guimard.

At this realisation, I figured playing solid at the back isn't working. A goal will be conceded at some point, and we won't score enough with our decent chances. The last ditch chance is all out attack to outscore the opposition. The new tactic is 3-4-3, but this would evolve into 3-1-6. The idea will be to get it into the attacking half, where there will be 4-7 attackers to swarm the opposition. The players are now instructed to close down as soon as they lose the ball. No more counter attack, no bodies in defence, no hit-and-runs. Just cluster**** them.

Despite only 3 or 4 defensive players, the increased responsibility seemed to work and they put in great performances together. Boudib impressed even more as the left-back played out of position as 1 of 3 centre backs and was still the best player.

Dido_Thank_You_US_Cover.jpeg

I gave Benjamin Didot his debut, a 23-year-old who had 8 goals in 26(1) matches in the fourth tier for the reserves. It wouldn't normally warrant a call up but the point is he is scoring at all, and he made an impact in his 2.5 games before inevitable injury, with 1 goal and 1 assist.

The other problem was, to drive the point home, our players were getting Man Of The Match and appearing in Team of the Week, showing that we were playing well, yet somehow weren't scoring and were conceding soft goals. We got chances, but the instinct was gone, they weren't going in, while at the other end the referees and fate were streaming them in.

After only a 0-0 draw away to Metz (who would draw their last 5 games 0-0), we had to get 7 points out of 9, meaning our biggest rivals Marseille could now relegate us in front of our own fans. The media said we should sit back and hope to counter on the break. Not a chance. Stick to ultra-attacking 3-1-6. 6 players in the attacking third!

Antonio skied several clear cut chances as everyone's goal drought continued, but Didot started brightly again and scored our first goal in 6 games. This gave everyone confidence and Antonio scored immediately after then again in the second half, coming from behind (always a requirement now) to ease past them and give the fans a positive.

But away to PSG we were relegated. We had 0 shots on target, yet we could've been 2-0 up at half time but for fate and decisions. We could've defended even that lead, going into the final game at home to a relegation rival needing any win to overcome the goal difference, relegate them and save us. We drew that last game with a much changed line-up, so this could've been achieved.

This fine margin shows how utterly screwed we were by Luck. Any dodgy ref, disallowed goal, shot cleared off the line, still would've saved us.

Final League Table

1 - Lille - 74 (Champions)
-------------------------------------------------
5 - Rennes - 65 (Intertoto Place)
-------------------------------------------------
17 - Troyes - 38 (Safety)
-------------------------------------------------
18 - Valenciennes - 33 (Relegated)
19 - Brest - 31 (Relegated)
20 - Metz - 31 (Relegated)

Total League Record: P38 W8 D9 L21 F32 A53 GD-21 CS7 PTS33

Lille won the title from Lens on the final day thanks to a last-minute goal.

Nantes won the French Cup thanks to a hat-trick from January £18.5m record signing Rivarola giving them a 3-0 win over third-tier side Istres.

Marseille won the League Cup.

======================================================================


Post Season - At Least A Conspiracy Means Your Reputation Isn't Damaged

Taking a midtable team to relegation, with a manager claiming the usual conspiracy theories and picking apart decisions, you'd think it's sacking time with fans in uproar and the board angry.

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In fact the opposite happened. While disappointed by several results, the board saw what was happening, and agreed there was something going on. Fans will believe every ref and journalist conveniently hates their club anyway, so supporters too had questions for the integrity of the game. Indeed, the journalists themselves had a few carefully-worded articles about Valenciennes' "unlucky" relegation due to "questionable" decisions.

So despite relegation, the fans and board were "pleased" with me, while the media praised my work with a tight budget and ability to keep most of my sanity, and most of all sticking with the club.

It's hoped that the lower level of Ligue 2 will make for a far more enjoyable experience, winning games at the top of the table with vastly superior players... if they stay.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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The French FA needs something to be fixed as that shouldn't of happened. Its almost if they don't like you. 

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En 1/1/2018 a las 13:41, git2thachoppa dijo:

IMPORTANT NOTICE

Please, sit down, you'll need to take this in.

I was writing an update for an eventful season. It was the most stressful horrible season I have ever played. My most frustrating experience in a game. The bad 'luck', the screwjobs, were unbelievable.

Entertaining for the reader, but imagine through your playing life all the mistakes, dodgy decisions and bad luck for an idea. Like your keeper passing to a striker in the final second. Or that time everyone ignored instructions and left the goal open for a set piece winner. Or players not being marked, when winning goals were disallowed, when a star player got injured on their debut, when nearly all your squad were out. And as an experienced FM player knowing it's just how it plays out somethime, not down to the rookie errors of too intense training or messing up instructions.

Now imagine every single thing happened in the space of one season, and I haven't even told you about the new signing who was out injured, then immediately got injured the very minute he recovered.

Anyway, I write the results and notes while I play. So I came in my thread today and put this in and fleshed it out as a season recap for my latest entry. And Luck, Fate, had one final laugh at my account.

After about an hour or so of writing, I put my hand on the mouse and my thumb hit the 'back' button.

It's ok, the in-post editor always saves! For once, I didn't have to worry about backing up anyway, it always saves the smallest of posts!

NO. It didn't save a damn thing. It had been open for over an hour. It didn't save at any time?

I had written a lot, I liked how it all came together, in the zone I guess. That is gone. Now I sit here powerless. I'm not much of a cryer, but I want to cry, even though my body won't let me.

There are people starving to death and living through war, I know, but I feel so pointless and powerless. I just need that text back. But I also know it's gone. Yet I also hold out hope it'll all fix itself. Then I think "it's happened, let's just do it again, the situation cannot be changed so this is the only way", but nothing comes out. Now I want to write, but I can't.

But how much more goes to waste if I stop now? I've already written the notes of my season, the season around the world for clubs and international, Euro 2020 qualifying and Euro 2020 itself. All that would've been as pointless as bothering to wanting to add an entry today, and Luck/Fate would be just as vindictive.

Most of all, I don't know who reads this. Is anyone even reading this now. I know I get a couple of posts, though I don't know how much is read, and if I write too much or even too little, if it's a waste of time and effort. I was going to put a short version, tl;dr, at the bottom of this post. But perhaps I'll just leave it like this. If anyone comes in, I'll see if they read this ****. Anyone there?

So in irony I've probably just wasted my time again writing all this out. But it's all I can write right now.

The point I'm making here is I want to say that's enough. All of this is clearly pointless. But I know I also want to share my experience. And this one season was a one-off. No other season was particularly stressful, and it's obviously fun when you're winning. But this isn't right, and it's probably worse that I wasn't responsible for the injuries, the mistakes, the bad luck.

I sound like an addict, and obviously addicts don't think they're addicted, but I'm not like that. I didn't play FM for a couple of years recently, I'll go months without playing it at times, I'll only play it if I'm in the mood. But this ******, awful, joke of a season with its screwjobs and horrific yet entertaining luck kept me playing at least until it let me have a win and end the day on a happy note. I spent Christmas frustrated, and at least an underlying sense of annoyance when not playing. Or maybe I'm remembering it wrong right now because I've gone over the edge and my head is tingling.

And for what? This is supposed to be a game. There needs to be challenge. A game where you can win easily is ****. But a game that so vindicitively screws you over without context is even less of a game. I don't know where this came from, I don't know why star strikers suddenly can't shoot on target, why a training system that's worked for a decade suddenly sees half the squad out with an injury per game, or if that's even the cause. I don't know why the game disallows all my goals, has my keeper pass it to their striker in the 95th minute so they can get 3 points. I know it's a thing, it has no conscience, but this is out of the ordinary in my decade of playing FM 07. I once won every competition in a calendar year, so I'm not simply bad at it and this is its weird way of telling me.

Maybe I should just quit this now. This writing, this game. But I'll always have that happy feeling sorting out a squad, but this has ruined me. I know there are people who have had divorces, worn suits and all that over this game, so it's a good thing I think this now when I've 'only' just been annoyed and stressed out and in a bad mood. But I think back on the work-free Christmas period and I just feel it wasted. I will be taking some extra time off work to compensate.

Perhaps I will go to sleep, I will wake up, and I'll write it all again and it'll all be fine. Or I'll wake up and still feel powerless like being harrassed by a big bully that has abused me for so long and who I can't hit back. (Though I learned hitting back is the best way to deal with a bully - thanks TV and adults for lying to me and saying you should ignore them!)

I hope I wake up and can write it all, and I'll go to work and it won't suck, and I'll just not treat the game so seriously. I've now wasted 2 hours doing all this. If it hadn't deleted everything, I'd have done the entry by now, with something far more amusing and entertaining than this. If anyone reads.

I'll stop writing now. I'm sure all people in the house have heard the past few weeks are my keys tapping, like one of those fellas who lives on the internet and forums arguing with people, when really I was 'playing' a 'game' and writing about it for 'fun'.

Hello mate. In case it helps you, I understand your frustration. The only games I have installed on my pc are fm7 8-11-1214-17. I mean, I only play FM. I am 52 years old, a family, and when I have an instant for myself I just play this saga. your story has been an inspiration for me to play FM07 again. The latest versions do not cheat me.
If it helps you, I encourage you to continue with your story, I think it is supportive.
I write from Spain ....
regards

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2019/20 - Club Recap

Selected Summer Transfers
Boris Fernandes (24, Belgian, MRC/AMR) - Hamburger SV to Chelsea - £29.5m
David Domínguez (25, Mexican, MC) - Bayern Munich to AC Milan - £24.5m
Michael Bopp (23, German, DC) - Hamburger SV to Bayern Munich - £18.75m
Julio César Sánchez (26, Argentinian, DC) - River Plate to Barcelona - £17.25m
Steeve Vincent (27, French, DC) - Lazio to Chelsea - £16.5m
Pablo Pérez (23, Argentinian, DRC) - River Plate to Hamburger SV - £14.5m

Selected Winter Transfers
Rafael Rivarola (24, Argentinian/French, ST) - Rosario Central to Nantes - £18.5m
Felipe Castro (25, Mexican, DC/DMC/MC) - Lazio to Arsenal - £18.5m
Basile Cueff (24, French, MC) - Arsenal to Juventus - £17.5m
Jan van den Berg (26, Dutch, DMC/MC) - Liverpool to Lazio - £14m
Aníbal Ezquerra (25, Uruguayan, ML/AML) - Bayern Munich to Arsenal - £13.75m
Marcelo Loureiro (27, Brazilian, ML/AML) - PSV to Bayern Munich - £12.5m


2019 Awards

Arsenal's Mexican attacker Carlos Vela won his second World Player of the Year award after winning in 2012. His last 3 seasons has seen nearly 100 goals, nearly 50 assists and average ratings a bit above and below 7.5. Man Utd's Colombian striker Miguel Lara and and Bayern Munich's German striker Thomas Schweinsteiger came 2nd and 3rd.

Thomas Schweinsteiger won the Ballon d'Or European Football of the Year award. Man City's Argentine forward Walter Abdala and Real Madrid's French striker Sekou Fofana were 2nd and 3rd.


European Cups

OedZeeAgaBXLzng-128x128-noPad.jpg?146694

champions_league_2016.jpg?itok=ixVQdAr1

After 18 years and watching Inter Milan and Arsenal dominate, Marcelino's Real Madrid finally achieved La Decima, their 10th Champions League/European Cup trophy, with a 1-0 win over Arsenal in Marseille.

Lens got a step further and reached the semis before being thrashed by Arsenal, while Porto reached the quarter-finals before being beaten by Lens.

The final of the UEFA Cup was a battle of Britain, with Roy Keane's Manchester United easily beating Rangers 2-0.

Ukraine.jpg

For reasons known only to UEFA, the Ukranian High League has risen all the way to the top of the league coefficient, earning it 4 Champions League spots, as well as 3 UEFA Cup and 1 Intertoto spot. It has become the hipster's choice of league, much like Belgium, due to a couple of seasons where the title has been decided by tiebreakers between 2 or 3 teams.


England

England.jpg

Premier League

Michael Laudrup's Arsenal and Steve McClaren's Newcastle United are playing hot potato with the league. This season it was Arsenal who won in dominating fashion - by 12 points. Arsenal's Vela and Seitz were the league's highest scorers, with 44 goals in total, though not even half of Arsenal's 90 goals. Vela and Smart were joint top assisters with 13 assists each.

Thomas Doll's Manchester City achieved their best finish in over 40 years, finishing 2nd, with Newcastle United a few points behind in 3rd.

After a harsh sacking despite taking Preston North End to unprecedented heights, Frank Lampard was back in the Premier League, taking charge of Sheffield United and steering them to safety in 17th.

Blackburn Rovers' 19 years in the Premier League ended with relegation this season with only 24 points.

But Watford finished even lower, with 21 points.

Domestic Cups

PompeyCupWin_468x319.jpg

Portsmouth shocked everyone by sacking their manager Roni Levy days before the F.A. Cup final despite another midtable finish and reaching the F.A. Cup final and League Cup semi finals. With Frank Yallop in charge, they still beat Liverpool 2-1 after extra time to win the trophy they won first (and last) in 1939.

Championship sides Hartlepool and Bolton Wanderers reached the semis, losing to Liverpool on penalties and Portsmouth 1-0 respectively.

Championship Aston Villa beat Manchester United on penalties after a 1-1 draw to lift the League Cup. Manager Slobodan Drapic left for Braga in Portugal just days later.

Football League and Non-League

Alan Irvine's Bolton Wanderers were promoted to the Premier League with 5 games in hand, 14 points ahead of second and 20 ahead of the playoff spots.

It took 16 years, but Leeds United finally got promoted to the Premier League. Alan Doolan, who had been sacked from Conference South side Bath a few months earlier, only needed 3 seasons to get the club promoted twice, due to losing in the playoff semi-finals last season.

40 goals in 46 league games from Bates wasn't enough to get Aldershot Town into the automatic promotion spots, and they lost in the playoffs again.

Aston Villa got promoted straight back into the Premier League via the playoffs, Ian Holloway finishing the job after joining in March.

beardsley+everton.jpg

Former Liverpool and Everton player, and England manager, Peter Beardsley was hired by Everton in February and he helped them avoid relegation to League One.

Sunderland were relegated to League One for the first time in 32 years and hired Chris Waddle for the new season.

Ashley Cole's second job in management ended as disastrously as his first. After successfully relegating Fulham bottom of the Championship, he was finally sacked in November with the same club nearly in the relegation zone of League One.

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After a playing career that took in Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Valencia, and several English clubs, Jonathan Woodgate started his career in management in December at Conference North side Nuneaton. He immediately steered the title favourites away from relegation, climbing up the table to 6th in his first half-season.

After a failed first job in management by relegating Colchester to the conference, Alexander Hleb became Belarus Under-21 and Under-19s manager in October, before also being hired as Histon manager in the Conference South a few months later. The team dropped like a stone with him in charge, from challenging for promotion to escaping relegation by 2 goals of goal difference.


Portugal

Portugal.jpg

After the Big 3 were blown apart last season, Benfica, Porto and Sporting CP finished in their usual block of three... but only 2nd, 3rd and 4th.

On the final day, Benfica lost away to Naval, allowing Vitória SC to beat Porto at home to deny both of them and become only the third team ever outside the Big 3 to win the title, the first in nearly 2 decades (Boavista 2001), the second since the 1940s (Belenenses 1946).

They also became the first ever team outside the Big 3 to win the league and cup Double, beating second-tier Pacos Ferreira 2-1 in the final.


Spain

Spain.jpg

Normality returned as Marcelino's Real Madrid won their 7th title in 8 seasons, 1 point ahead of rivals Atlético Madrid.

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Defending champions Real Betis finished 10 points behind in 3rd in Gordon Strachan's final season at the club and in football. His replacement is Pep Guardiola. Someone like Pep can only dream of emulating someone like Strachan, but now is his chance.

Hristo Stoichkov's Barcelona finished outside the European places, in 7th, for the 2nd time in 4 seasons.

Real missed out on the Treble thanks to John Collins' Real Zaragoza beating them 2-1 in the final of the Copa del Rey.


Italy

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Inter Milan won their 3rd title in 4 years, by 3 points. It's the city of Milan's 13th title in a row.

Juventus legend Alessandro Del Piero's first job at the extreme yo-yo club Siena ended with the sack after nearly 10 complete seasons. The club had just been relegated twice in a row from Serie A to C1/B, before winning the Serie C1/B title in their first season there. He took the champions immediately into Serie A in his first season, and kept them there for 4 seasons before déja vu struck and they suffered two relegations in a row once again. Yet again, they won the Serie C1/B title in their first season, but 3 seasons without promotion back to Serie A seemed to be enough to warrant a sacking.


Scotland

Scotland.jpg

The seas are changing, and the Big 4 is changing again.

Craig Levein and Hearts won their 3rd title in 5 seasons.

danpetrescue4.jpg

Defending champions Celtic were always the one constant in the top 3, but under new manager Paul Sturrock they finished in 6th, their lowest since 1964/65 (keeping in mind the league is split 1st-6th/7th-12th after 33 games, so it's impossible for them to finish below 6th). Sturrock duly retired and is replaced with Dan Petrescu, who took FC Dallas to the MLS trophy in 2017, then the CONCACAF Champions League trophy in 2018 followed by a World Club Cup final appearance.


Switzerland

Switzerland.jpg

Basel won their 8th title in a row, Luzern runner-up for the 4th time in a row, but only 2 points separated them this time.

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My team at Young Boys was torn apart in the summer, raising £9.5m, including selling young keeper Guido to Spain's #2 club Atlético Madrid (who is now moving to England's #2 team, Newcastle United). Only one of my signings is in the first team squad. The manager left halfway through and the board gave coach Eduardo (who I'd hired there) his first job in management. The end result was a 3rd place finish, reaching the UEFA Cup group stage, and reaching the cup final (losing to Basel), thus qualifying for the UEFA Cup again.


Elsewhere...

Gary Speed went to sunnier climes after a few years at Llanelli and Swansea City, taking charge of Sydney FC.

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Former Luton, Wigan and Portsmouth man Matthew Taylor's first job in management is all the way out in Singapore with Home Utd.

On 09/01/2018 at 12:39, makua65 said:

Hello mate. In case it helps you, I understand your frustration. The only games I have installed on my pc are fm7 8-11-1214-17. I mean, I only play FM. I am 52 years old, a family, and when I have an instant for myself I just play this saga. your story has been an inspiration for me to play FM07 again. The latest versions do not cheat me.
If it helps you, I encourage you to continue with your story, I think it is supportive.
I write from Spain ....
regards


Thank you for the kind words.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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2019/20 - International Recap

2020 OFC Nations Cup

Fiji became the second team outside New Zealand and Australia to lift the trophy. They got a 1-1 draw in New Zealand in the first leg of the final, before easily getting a 0-0 at home, New Zealand only having one shot (which was off target). Fiji will now get to experience the Confederations Cup in Italy next year, after Solomon Islands broke the mould 8 years ago.

New Zealand had only scraped into the final thanks to 2 own goals from the same player in their final group game against Samoa. That was their only win after draws against Fiji, Vanuatu and group stage hosts New Caledonia.


Nigeria 2020 Africa Cup of Nations

2016-636188138302460569-246.jpg

It was a tournament of the traditional big guns, as perhaps the big surprise is that (for once in the current football climate) there were no surprises in qualifying. All the traditionally major African nations topped their qualifying groups.

Ivory Coast have won 5 of the last 6 tournaments since 2006, with hosts Nigeria winning the other in 2012, so everyone expected this to be the blockbuster final. But this was denied by the two finalists, as 2006 winners Egypt lifted the trophy thanks to a 1-0 win over Algeria, knocking out Nigeria and Ivory Coast respectively in the semis.

Angola reached the knockouts for the first time, thanks to group stage wins over Cameroon, Mali and Sudan, and it took a penalty shootout for finalists Algeria to beat them.

Sudan picked up their first points and win in the AFCON since 1976, after a shock 90th-minute winner over 2018 runner-up Mali.

2 years after appearing at the World Cup, Mali finished bottom of their group with 0 points and embarrassing losses to Sudan and Angola.

The biggest result was Morocco 9 - 0 Togo.

Botswana made their surprise AFCON debut after clinching best runner-up spot in qualifying, but it ended with 3 losses, 0 goals scored and 7 goals conceded.


Scotland & Wales 2020 European Championships Qualifying

2502796_w2.jpg

The top 2 teams qualified automatically in a straight shoot for the finals.

Group A

Turkey - 27
Israel - 26*

Greece - 26*
Portugal - 23
FYR Macedonia - 21**
Belarus - 21**
Liechtenstein - 6
San Marino - 5

*Head-to-head record: Israel 2 - 0 Greece
**Macedonia 2 - 1 Belarus

Thanks to a winner in the 85th minute against Macedonia, Israel will make their Euro debut after making two second round appearances in a row at the World Cup.

Portugal's continued failure to qualify for any tournaments since 2010 was summed up by scraping a last-minute 3-2 win at home to San Marino, via an own goal.

Thanks to being drawn together, Liechtenstein and San Marino both got to pick up wins (oddly the away team getting the win in both their clashes). We saw Liechtenstein's first win since beating Northern Ireland in 2007, and San Marino's first since that historic win against the Netherlands in 2012.

Group B

Germany - 31
Switzerland - 27

Lithuania - 22
Sweden - 20
Hungary - 18
Slovenia - 17*
Azerbaijan - 17*
Andorra - 1

*Slovenia 4 - 3 Azerbaijan

Minnows Azerbaijan usually only score a few goals a year, never mind pick up points, so 17 is a huge improvement.

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Usually failing to even score in most years, Andorra nearly got their first win in 15 years after taking a 2-0 lead at home to Sweden after just 6 minutes, especially when they retook the lead with 12 minutes to go, but Sweden equalised again in stoppage time. The 3-3 result was still Andorra's first point in about 15 years, and their first ever point in a Euro qualifier, and the first time ever that they scored 3+ goals in a match.

Group C

France - 26
Poland - 24

Ukraine - 23
Croatia - 18
Cyprus - 14
Latvia - 10
Armenia - 4

Group D

England - 29
Austria - 23

Denmark - 22
Russia - 21
Iceland - 14
Luxembourg - 5
Estonia - 3

World Cup runner-up Austria squeezed in on the final day, but long after semi-finalists England eased through after beating them 5-0 at Wembley.

Group E

Netherlands - 32
Serbia - 26

Czech Republic - 18
Georgia - 11*
Moldova - 11*
Slovakia - 9
Kazakhstan - 8

*Georgia 2 - 2 Moldova, GD: Georgia -5, Moldova -16

Defending champions Netherlands went through unbeaten, although it required coming from 2-0 down to Moldova as well as two stoppage time goals in the penultimate game to steal a win.

Group F

Italy - 27
Romania - 23

Albania - 18
Montenegro - 15
Republic of Ireland - 14*
Belgium - 14*
Faroe Islands - 3

*R.O.I. 3 - 2 Belgium

Group G

Finland - 22
Northern Ireland - 20

Spain - 19
Norway - 17
Bulgaria - 16
Bosnia & Herzegovina - 9*
Malta - 9*

*B&H 2 - 0 Malta

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Northern Ireland reach their first ever Euros, and first tournament since the 1986 World Cup.

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Norway replaced their manager, after their failure, with their most capped player ever (100) Henning Berg. He has built quite the CV and managed in all the major leagues, including winning 2 titles and a cup with PSV and getting Palermo into the Champions League.


Euro 2020 Group Draw

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Group A
Scotland (Co-hosts)
Romania (Euro 2016 semi-finalists)
Serbia
Switzerland
(Repeat of 2016 group, but with Scotland instead of Bulgaria, which finished: Serbia -7, Romania - 4, Bulgaria - 3, Switzerland - 1)

Group B
Netherlands (Euro 2016 winners)
Northern Ireland (Euro debut)
Finland (2018 World Cup quarter-finalists)
Poland

Group C
Wales (Co-hosts)
Austria (2018 World Cup runner-up)
Italy (2018 World Cup quarter-finalists)
Turkey

Group D
England (2018 World Cup semi-finalists)
Germany (2016 runner-up, knocked England out at group stage)
France
Israel

Edited by git2thachoppa

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Scotland & Wales 2020 European Championships

2502796_w2.jpg

Co-hosts Scotland have a real chance of making the knockouts with a winnable group, if you ignore the fact they haven't won a tournament game since the last time one was held in Britain - 1996. That's 12 games without a win and only a few goals.

Wales' group is far trickier, including 2018 World Cup runner-up Austria.

England have a chance for some scalps against below-average French and German teams, but a banana skin in an underrated Israel. They must be favourites after reaching the World Cup semi-finals and not being too far from home. along with defending Euro 2016 champions Netherlands.


Group A

Match Days 1 & 2

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Scotland 1 - 0 Romania
A late penalty finally broke co-hosts Scotland's hoodoo. Now to score from open play...

Serbia 0 - 1 Switzerland

Switzerland 2 - 0 Romania
Romania lost their heads, with two players getting sent off in the final minutes for shoving, as the 2016 semi-finalists were eliminated from the tournament.

Scotland 2 - 1 Serbia
Scotland dominated, but also showed mental strength. Though they suffered a late equaliser to 10-man Serbia, they immediately scored the winner to make it 2 wins now while eliminating Serbia.

Both Scotland and Switzerland have reached the knockouts. Scotland top on goal-difference.

Match Day 3

Scotland 1 - 1 Switzerland
Both teams already through, Scotland immediately equalised after going behind early, but that was it and they couldn't get the win that would've seen them top instead of 2nd.

Serbia 1 - 0 Romania
Romania lost, so finish bottom with 0 points (and goals).


Group B

Match Days 1 & 2

gareth-mcauley-northern-ireland-ukraine_

Netherlands 1 - 1 Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland get a huge result thanks to their one shot on target.

Finland 0 - 0 Poland
Poland had a player taken off injured after only 9 minutes, his replacement was off injured on 32 minutes, and his replacement came off injured just before half time.

Netherlands 3 - 1 Finland

Northern Ireland 1 - 0 Poland
Poland were brushed aside by the debuting minnows.

Match Day 3

Finland 0 - 1 Northern Ireland
Nothern Ireland got more than the draw required, and top the table as a result while Finland are out.

Poland 1 - 1 Netherlands
Poland needed to win, Netherlands needed only a draw, but Poland were never really a threat.


Group C

Match Days 1 & 2

Wales 0 - 0 Austria
Co-hosts Wales dominated the 2nd-best team in the world.

Turkey 1 - 0 Italy

Austria 0 - 1 Italy
Italy had 1 shot, 1 on target, 1 goal.

Wales 0 - 0 Turkey
This match went further by having 0 shots on target, in what is being dubbed the worst match in football history.

Match Day 3

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Wales 2 - 1 Italy
Wales took the lead though a Gareth Bale free kick, then doubled it on the hour. But they had to cling on after going down to 10 men through injury, with Italy immediately getting a goal back. Italy missed several clear chances, hit the post, and had a penalty claim denied, as they went out to the co-hosts.

soccer-euro-2016-iceland-austria_6de89bf

Turkey 1 - 1 Austria
A stoppage-time equaliser broke Austrian hearts and knocked them out, while Turkey qualify and finish top.


Group D

Match Days 1 & 2

England 2 - 0 Israel

France 1 - 1 Germany

Germany 0 - 0 Israel

France 1 - 0 England
2 English injuries was followed by substitute Scott Sinclair getting sent off, allowing France to score a late winner and England to be without 3 strikers for the final Germany match.

Match Day 3

England-v-Estonia.jpg

England 1 - 1 Germany
Germany took the lead with their first shot, but Theo Walcott immediately equalised with theirs, and then it was all England as Germany failed to get the win they ultimately needed.

Israel 1 - 1 France
France dominated but Israel took the lead in the 86th minute thanks to an own goal. They still needed another, but France immediately equalised to qualify top of the group.


Final Group Standings

Every team in the UK have qualified for the knockout stages, for the first time ever. UK Home advantage!

Group A
Switzerland - 7 (+3 GD)
Scotland - 7 (+2 GD)

Serbia - 3
Romania - 0

70c0f66d9e84e8250eed7d3881c6d6b8.jpg

Group B
Northern Ireland - 7
Netherlands - 5

Poland - 2
Finland - 1

article-urn:publicid:ap.org:6ae3350493cf

Group C
Turkey - 5*
Wales - 5*

Italy - 3
Austria - 2

* Both Turkey and Wales have +1 GD, 2 goals scored, and drew head-to-head. Turkey finish higher due to a better UEFA national team coefficient ranking.

crying-fan-523519.jpg

Group D
France - 5
England - 4

Germany - 3
Israel - 2

image_update_02bc958f5a48a4e3_1339841341


Quarter-Finals

Switzerland 1 - 0 Netherlands
Switzerland stole a win thanks to an own goal, and the defending champions limp out.

Wales 0 - 1 France
It was still a great debut for Wales.

pe-00102909.jpg

Scotland 0 - 1 Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland win the battle of the underdogs, but this was still the first time Scotland ever got out of a group stage in any tournament. Both hosts are out, but went further than ever.

Turkey 0 - 0 England AET (3-2 on penalties after 5 rounds)
Glasgow rejoiced as England went out on penalties for the second tournament in a row, knocked out by Turkey for the second time in three Euros.

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Semi-Final

Switzerland 1 - 1 France AET (1-1 FT) (3-2 on penalties after 5 rounds)
Switzerland defended an early penalty all game, but conceded in stoppage time after going down to 10 men. They made it though!

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Northern Ireland 2 - 1 Turkey
Turkey took the lead in just 3 minutes, but Northern Ireland scored in the 16th and 20th minutes to set up a surprise final.


Scotland/Wales Euro 2020 Final

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Switzerland v Northern Ireland

History

A new champion will be crowned in a shock final between two teams who have never even experienced a single win at a European Championships final until this year.

Switzerland had never even won a game at a European Championship, despite playing 12 matches in 4 finals. Euro 2016 marked the first time Switzerland had qualified for a tournament since hosting Euro 2008.

Northern Ireland had never qualified for a tournament since the 1986 World Cup, and never experienced a European Championship, until now.

Form

Switzerland got 7 points in the group stage, only drawing with co-hosts Scotland, before knocking out defending champions Netherlands, and then new favourites France on penalties.

Northern Ireland only get a few shots on target, but they nearly all go in. They got 7 points in their group as well, drawing with Netherlands, before knocking out co-hosts Wales and then Turkey. Is this like a home game for them in Glasgow?

They have both scored 6 and conceded 2, with 3 clean sheets in their 5 games.

Managers

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Switzerland's manager is Urs Fischer. He made 4 appearances for his national team in a career played only at Zurich and St. Gallen. After working through the youth system of Zurich and becoming assistant manager, he took charge for just a year before Switzerland came calling. He survived the sack despite finishing bottom of their 2018 World Cup qualifying group under Malta, and they were rewarded with qualification for the Euros behind Germany.

NCFC17_Colin_Clarke_740x420_large.jpg

Northern Ireland are managed by Colin Clarke. He scored 13 times in 38 games for his country before starting his coaching and management career in the USA in the late 90s, taking Virginia Beach Mariners (who aren't even in the MLS) to the U.S. Open Cup final in 2009. In 2015 he took over from the retiring Martin O'Neill. He finally nudged the team (who were always close but not close enough) to qualification for Euro 2020 behind Finland and ahead of Spain, Norway and Bulgaria.

Team News

Switzerland are without 3 players who have played every game, with 3 goals and 2 assists between them. Another is not 100% thanks to a bruised head, but starts.

Northern Ireland are also without 3 players, though 2 make the bench, including the keeper. They play their deputy, who conceded 1 goal against Turkey and faced 4 shots on target.

Both teams play 4-4-2.

Switzerland: Yann Sommer (Messina); Juan Silva (Brescia), Johan Djourou (Udinese), Koch (Naval), Tissot (Lens); Damian Bellon (Bolton), Carole (Juventus), Garcia (Ajax), Neumann (c) (Newcastle); Marx (Sevilla), Alvaro Klusener (Basel) - 4 Serie A, 2 Premier League, 1 La Liga, 1 Ligue 1, 1 Eredivisie, 1 Primeira Liga, 1 Swiss Super League

Northern Ireland: Sweeney (Southampton); Jonny Evans (c) (West Brom), Kelly (Arsenal), Donnelly (Bolton), Curlett (Linfield); Adam McGurk (Hartlepool), Corry Evans (Celtic), O'Kane (Millwall), Long (Q. P. R.); Peden (Swansea), Murphy (Hull) - 5 Premier League, 1 Championship, 2 League One, 1 League Two, 1 SPL, 1 Northern Irish Premiership

First Half

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Northern Ireland dominated but only had a few chances. Then just before half time, a penalty was given away by Switzerland, and Corry Evans just got it in.

Second Half

Northern Ireland sat back a bit more, which allowed Switzerland more chances, but the Swiss were lucky not to concede. They didn't score either. Northern Ireland have done it! Unbelievable Jeff!

Final score: Switzerland 0 - 1 Northern Ireland

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===============================================================
2020 European Champions
Northern Ireland

===============================================================

Northern Ireland are the first team to win on their debut since the first 4 tournaments took place (1960 - 1972).

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Goalscorer Corry and captain Jonny Evans join the Laudrups as brothers who won the trophy as shock underdogs.


Awards

Golden Boot: Jonathan Peden (Northern Ireland) with 3 goals and 1 assist in 270 minutes (Ronnie Allan of Scotland had 3 goals and 1 assist in 360 minutes)
Player of the Tournament: Niall Kelly (Northern Ireland)
Young Player of the Tournament: Stewart Holmes (Wales)

Team of the Tournament
Ayhan (Turkey)
Burge (England) - Niall Kelly (Northern Ireland) - Nihat (Turkey) - Hamann (Austria)
Alex Melbourne (England) - Castro (France) - Morley (England)
Jimmy Briand (France) - Peden (Northern Ireland) - Allan (Scotland)

Selected Managerial News

iain-dowie-northern-ireland-palace-fc-19

Colin Clarke stepped down after outdoing even Greece and Denmark with Northern Ireland's achievement (Fun fact: the game sacked him). His replacement is Nottingham Forest manager Iain Dowie.

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Chris Coleman is the new Wales manager after the previous manager also stepped down after an impressive quarter-final appearance. He's the former former Nottingham Forest manager.

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Dieter Eilts was sacked by Germany after draws against France, England and Israel and replaced with Basel's Uwe Rosler.

Italy did something incredibly rare nowadays (in fact something I'd never seen in the game and thought was impossible): they went foreign, bringing in Xavi Juliá, who managed Spain for the 2014 World Cup which they hosted (and went out at the group stage). And Italy host the World Cup in 2 years.

Andreas Heraf retired after taking Austria to the 2018 World Cup final and the Euro 2020 tournament. His replacement is left-field: Michael Fuchs, an amateur footballer who had been head coach of just one club, FC Gratkorn in Austria. He was there for 15 years before being sacked a few years ago. He hadn't taken a job since.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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Valenciennes - 2020 Post/Pre-Season

Squad Review

I would've overhauled the team if the team had overcome the worst luck ever/rigged matches/karma/will of an angry god and survived relegation. But going into a lower level against much inferior opposition means that can be done over the year. No point getting rid of someone immediately when they can perform better in Ligue 2.


GK

1. Eric Béranger - 30 years old - £1.5m - P 22, Conc 40, CS 3, MOM 3, AVR 7.00
13. Jean-Baptiste Guimard - 23 years old - £1.6m - P 20, Conc 21, CS 4, MOM 1, AVR 6.85

A combination of a good older non-eccentric (Béranger) and a great young eccentric (Guimard).

Due to injury and changes in form, both played nearly exactly the same amount of games. Béranger is a capable keeper, but if he doesn't turn up on the day his laziness will cause a cricket score (as you can see by his 'conceded' stat), but Guimard is an outstanding prospect who's regularly watched by top division clubs across Europe.

Who will be #1 for next season, in a less demanding division, remains to be seen.

Attila Vass, a 21-year-old Romanian, is offered on loan for free by Czech top-division side Slovan Liberec, so I finally get a #3 this season.

In
Vass - Slovan Liberic (Czech top tier) - Loan


DR

2. Somboon Saengsawad - DR/C, DM, MR/C - 33 years old - £1m - P 22(3), AVR 6.92
15. Michael Jezierski - 25 years old - £1.1m - P 11(3), AVR 6.64
34. Locó - DR/C, WBR - 35 years old - N/A - P9, AVR 6.44

Saengsawad, captain of Thailand, should find Ligue 2 a pushover. However Ligue 2 only allows 2 'foreigners' in a match day squad, and by the end of the window we'll have 3. As the other 2 are attackers, they'll likely be played a lot more and he'll have to wait.

Jezierski is reliable though lacks the strength to be a top, top defender in Ligue 1. Should do well in Ligue 2, though before possibly being sold.

Locó was incredible when I arrived and gave him a run, but nowhere near that last season and will retire, but not before a testimonial after 9 years and nearly 150 appearances for the club. He'll be a coach here in future if a space opens up.


DL

23. Abdelhamid Boudib - 23 years old - £2.5m - P12, MOM 1, AVR 7.08
22. Adel Travers - 22 years old - £170,000 - P21(1), MOM 1, AVR 7.00
+ Mangani

Boudib went out on loan to Charleroi in Belgium and got 7.00 average rating before I recalled him due to injury, poor form and poor results. Even playing out of position on the left of a back 3, he was getting 8/10 ratings. Top talent. T'riffic player. But he was one of many players who wanted to move back up a level, and the record fee (for both clubs) of £6.5m couldn't be turned down. He only cost £4,000 a few years ago.

Travers suffered 2 colds in the first half of the season, then got injured 3 times in 3 months in 2020, leaving him out for a total of 4 months.

A free transfer in the summer was Daniele Monti, an Italian who plays defence and midfield. Valued at nearly £1m, the 20-year-old who has represented Italy at U19 level was solid in Serie B with an average rating of 7.00 and 4 assists in 14(7) games. He has high numbers in all the right places technically, mentally and physically. Looks a perfect replacement for Boudib.

I signed Sven Vos, 22 this year, on a free in summer 2019 after he was released from another Dutch club, and he goes out on loan to the league above now that he's ready for first-team football. Peculiar, but I would've been prepared to loan either Travers or Vos, and he was the one who had interest. He can be recalled if need be.

Out
Boudib - Visé (Belgian top tier) - £6.5m
Vos
- Amiens (Ligue 1) - Loan

In
Monti - D/WB/ML - Reggina (Serie A) - Free


DC

30. Ali Mansour - 24 years old - £1.5m - P 12(1), MOM 1, AVR 7.15
5. Bjorn Schmidt - 25 years old - £475,000 - P 38, MOM 2, AVR 7.00
4. Sébastien Noto - 23 years old - £550,000 - P 19(2). AVR 6.71
19. Andrea Masiello - 34 years old - £70,000 - P 5(3), AVR 6.75
3. Gerardo Alcoba - 35 years old - £5,000 - P 11(2), AVR 7.00
+ Bokoto, Loco, Mangani, Saengsawad

In January, I bought Iraqi international Mansour for £550,000 after an impressive half-season in Ligue 2 and he was the best player at the club. Unfortunately, he was sold on deadline day this summer, meaning a profit of over £4m in just half a season.

Schmidt was relatively reliable, but his contract expires in a year and so far the club favourite doesn't want to renew, with Ligue 1 and La Liga sides watching him. Unfortunately his minimum fee release clause is only £2.1m.

Noto will improve with age, and Ligue 2 may provide the opportunity for this.

It was a huge coup getting Masiello on a free in the summer after a 7.31-rated season in Ligue 1, but the injury curse hit him worst. He was out for 3 months since September, then strained his calf getting off the physio table as soon as he got the all-clear.

Alcoba is still good enough for Ligue 1 as a sweeper or with extra help, otherwise the 35-year-old is too slow and easily passed. Allowed his contract to expire due to the amount of DCs we have.

In
Mansour - Gladbach (Bundesliga) - £550,000 (January)

Out
Alcoba - Released
Mansour - Toulouse (Ligue 1) - £4.8m


DM/MC

22. Christophe Bokoto - DM, MC, DC - 26 years old - £2.3m - P 21(6), AVR 6.78
31. Thomas Mangani (vice-captain) - DLC, DM, MC - 33 years old - £1m - P 18(5), A 1, AVR 6.78
16. Pedro María Riera - MC - 27 years old - £1.3m - P 6(2), A 1, AVR 6.25
Loan - Paulo Machado
- MC - 34 years old - £375,000 - P6, AVR 7.00
+ Jensen, Saengsawad, Scotto

Bokoto was very poor in defence, and did little in midfield. Underperformed greatly.

Bad mistakes meant Mangani was impossible to play in defence, but in midfield he gained consistency closer to his usual performance level... before injury, of course. With a year left on his contract, growing older, and the highest wage in the squad, I tried to sell him, but there were no takers.

Riera was another who played magnificently last half-season then had an awful season this year. He requested a transfer after playing himself out of the team.

Machado was decent for the few games the loanee played, better than everyone else though.

A summer free transfer came in. Fans were excited by Jaroslav Janousek, immediately a club favourite. The Czech U21 central midfielder could also play on the right, which is what I was desperate for,  though how well remains to be seen. He's rated at £1.1m and played in La Liga last season.

Auxerre offered Christian Floch for a free loan this season. The young Frenchman may or may not be any good, but he gives us an extra, more attacking, option for MC.

In
Janousek - MR/C - Udinese (Serie A/B) - Free
Floch - Auxerre (Ligue 1) - Loan


MR

14. Mike Jensen (captain) - AMR/C, AMR/C - 32 years old - £1.4m - P 36, G 3, A 3, MOM 2, AVR 6.69
+ Saengsawad

In some games Jensen's quiet, in others he's very involved. The club favourite and captain is going into the last year of this contract, and I'm not sure what decision I'll make at the end of it.

In August I bought Miodrag Ljajic, who is a left winger but can also play right, so finally we have a second right-winger, hopefully one who'll make more of an impact on a game than Jensen. The scouts say he would be a leading star in Ligue 1, and the fans are excited about him.

In
Ljajic - ML/R - Spartak Moscow (Premier Division) - £1.9m


ML

17. Hamid Scotto - ML/C, AML/C, ST - 29 years old - £900,000 - P 32(4), G 2, A 2, MOM 2, AVR 6.78
6. Mohamed Fekih - ML, AML - 27 years old - £2.5m - P 10(10), G 1, A 1, AVR 6.70
11. Fabrice Marty - ML, AML - 26 years old - £1.9m - P 5(6), A 1, AVR 6.36

Scotto is similar to Jensen - sometimes good, sometimes quiet, but generally not penetrating and better in the centre building rather than on the wing where you need to affect a game. Consistently ok.

Fekih finally extended his contracted on the basis he would be put in the first team. He was ok in that run, but he only got 1 assist. Hopefully will do better at a lower level.

Marty seems to have a bit more gumption. He's unfortunate to have one or two good players in his position.


AMC

8. Stefan Babovic - AMC - 33 years old - £275,000 - P 29(3), G 1, A 7, AVR 6.81
+ Bergougnoux, Jensen, Scotto

Babovic does his job, nothing more, nothing less. When the attack is on form though, he plays a beautiful part in it.


ST

18. Robert van der Heijden - 23 years old - £2.9m - P 21(4), G 5, A 4, AVR 6.76
27. Isaac Ros - 24 years old - £4.3m - P 16(6), G 3, A 1, MOM 2, AVR 6.77
10. Antonio - 29 years old - £2.9m - P 12 (15), G 7, A 1, MOM 1, AVR 6.63
7. Cédric Bergougnoux - AMC, ST - 21 years old - £3m - P 29(9), G 6, A 4, MOM 3, AVR 6.82
20. Giorgos Samaras - 35 years old - £28,000 - P 7(14), G 2, A 2, AVR 6.33
24. Benjamin Didot - 23 years old - £1.4m - P 4, G 1, A 1, AVR 6.75
29. Gérard Morin - 24 years old - £2m - P 5(5), G 2, AVR 6.30
+ Scotto

4 months' worth of injuries made it hard for van der Heijden to settle. He can score more in Ligue 2, unless his head is turned by other clubs.

Strained ankle and then knee injuries kept Ros out for large period, but I've lost patience with him. He spent the whole season, after supposedly being talked down, getting fidgety over a move still. I promised I'd sell him at the end of the season, but he's not been good enough and wouldn't have been a loss earlier. He was sold in the summer for £1.2m back to South America.

7 goals in 12 starts and 15 sub appearances sounds like a great record, but fellow South American and club favourite Antonio went large spells not only not scoring, but completely ineffective. Will hopefully score loads in Ligue 2 though.

Bergougnoux can hit the target (34 on target out of 71 shots), but lacked that instinct or ability to get it past the keeper (1 goal every 6 on-target shots). Will he gain this with age and experience? Ligue 2 will provide a great proving ground.

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Samaras came with pedigree, but there were only flashes of brilliance. He requested a transfer immediately after providing an assist to save a cup tie, and was wanted by a large variety of clubs, moving to the Dutch Eredivisie.

Didot came in with us desperate for goals in the last 4 matches, and he made an impact (then got injured for the last game, of course). Don't know what his place will be next season. A bid for Didot is rejected.

4 months' worth of injuries didn't help Morin. He'd probably do well in Ligue 2, but with his contract expiring and lacking the physical presence I'll be looking for in future players, I sold him down a level to third-tier Istres.

In the summer comes Alex, who is a Brazilian/Italian who's strong in the air. The 20-year-old has represented Brazil at U20 level.

102150_118_20171099716371.jpg

Also Kevin Koffi. The Liberian (real life Ivorian, oops FM) international scored 26 in 24 games before retiring. Last season he got 3 in only 5 starts and 11 sub appearances in Ligue 1, then 3 in 17 in La Liga, as well as 7 in 4 African Cup and World Cup qualifiers. 20 Finishing, 17 Composure, 20 Technique, 19 First Touch, 19 Dribbling, 16 Jumping. And fairly strong on his left foot. Scouts say he would be a leading striker in Ligue 1, never mind Ligue 2.

A loanee is 19-year-old French/Réunionese Jérémy Ramirez. He doesn't look anything special, but he's worth a shot as a freebie.

That makes 7 strikers. After last season, I need 1 or 2 goalscorers. Surely there's someone in there that can do it.

Out
Ros - Vasco Da Gama (Brazilian Série A) - £1.2m
Samaras - RBC (Dutch Eredivisie) - £100,000
Morin - Istres (French 3rd-tier) - £500,000

In
Alex - Mantova (Serie A) - Free
Koffi - Toulouse (Ligue 1) - Free
Ramirez
- Créteil (Ligue 1) - Free


Pre-Season

The board inform me the transfer budget this season will be... £12,000.

If we had survived, this would probably be the point where I resigned. I would've needed money to buy players. However, as it stands, we're a Ligue 1 club in Ligue 2, so maybe in the very short-term I won't need anyone. I can use the current players, hopefully trounce the league, then bugger off as my contract ends. Plus £13m raised in player sales helped increase that budget a bit...

Cédric Bergougnoux won the Fan's Player of the Season award for 2019/20, which isn't saying much. Should've been Mansour, despite only being at the club 5 months.

Incredibly, it seems we'll be making a lot more TV money as a big Ligue 2 side than as a minor Ligue 1 side.

The media expect a 2nd place finish, and the board and fans also expect promotion. The bookies say we're 4th-favourites for the title.

b6fbd55e31b2bcb650db3fc3b0128693.jpg

Locó Testimonial

Valenciennes 2 - 1 Primeiro De Agosto (Angola)
Locó captained the side against his hometown club where his career started. It was won by a long range wonder goal from Marty in the final minutes.

Friendlies

(18th, Ligue 1) Valenciennes 0 - 1 Cercle Brugge (2nd, Belgian top tier)
(17th, Ligue 2) Besancon 1 - 0 Valenciennes (18th, Ligue 1)
(16th, Serie B) Ascoli 1 - 0 Valenciennes (18th, Ligue 1)


BREAKING NEWS...

FBI INVESTIGATING FIFA CORRUPTION - BLATTER AND PLATINI QUESTIONED AFTER VALENCIENNES CONTROVERSY SPARKS CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS

FIFA-arrests-Sepp-Blatter-FIFA-corruptio

Events seem to follow me everywhere. After making global news as a little-known Englishman/Iranian taking charge of Iran, one step (along with the rise of Israel) that eventually led to world peace, now I walk into a situation where the dodginess of last season makes sense.

Allegations suddenly starts appearing that Blatter, Platini and co. arranged for Valenciennes and Marseille (who had been participants in the 1993 scandal) to be relegated to improve French football's image, which makes the craziness a bit more explainable. Marseille survived (the Champions League regulars having the quality to finish 14th a few points above relegation), but we didn't.

However it seems the powers that be pushed a bit too far and left a trail that has allowed the FBI and others to prove culpability and finally strike and overthrow the dictatorship with a big dossier of ******** to lock them up for a very long time.

On 29/01/2018 at 22:43, Nobby_McDonald said:

Why on earth did Northern Ireland sack their manager after winning Euro 2020?

No one's ever happy. Should've won by more!

Edited by git2thachoppa

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Valenciennes 2020/21 - A Season Off

July to August 2020 - Same Old ****

Results

Spoiler

Ligue 2

(Predicted 8th) Beauvais 2 - 0 Valenciennes (Pred. 2nd)
B Goals: (16), (pen 31)

(Pred. 2nd) Valenciennes 0 - 0 Bastia (Pred. 19th)

(Pred. 7th) Sedan 0 - 2 Valenciennes (Pred. 2nd)
V Goals: Mansour (25), Alex (68)

(Pred. 2nd) Valenciennes 2 - 1 Caen (Pred. 10th)
C Goals: (63)
V Goals: van der Heijden (86), Babovic (90+2)


Coupe de la Ligue - 1st Round

(L2, Pred. 1st) Brest 0 - 2 Valenciennes (L2, Pred. 2nd)
V Goals: van der Heijden (21), Antonio (76)


Ligue 2

(Pred. 16th) Chateauroux 1 - 1 Valenciennes (Pred. 2nd)
C Goal: (43)
V Goal: Babovic (51)

(Pred. 2nd) Valenciennes 1 - 0 Sete (Pred. 6th)
V Goal: Ljajic (19)
S Red Card: (30)

 

League Record: P6 W3 D2 L1 F6 A4 GD+2 CS3 PTS11, Pos: 6/20

Our season started worryingly with a loss away to a small team, despite completely dominating, followed by a home draw and still 0 goals. Even our first win (which saw me pick Babovic for the first time, and him get 2 assists) saw a new signing getting injured after 30 minutes, the goals only coming from set pieces, no threat from us from open play and only winning because of Sedan's incredibly wasteful finishing. It was déja vu.

With 2 more players getting injured in the next game, including another big new signing, I toned down training a little more. If the injuries continued, especially to last season's levels, I would've considered cancelling training completely. But it was never a problem again. 1 problem solved.

A second XI was played in the toughest cup game possible, away to the team predicted 1st in Ligue 2. But the second XI played a perfect game. And no injuries!

I was a victim of deadline day drama as our best player Mansour was sold. But with a tighter foreigner limit in the league, and with foreign attackers needed more in the team, he wouldn't have played a lot anyway. We tried to use the money to rush through the signing of a Serie A striker, but we were minutes too late. Though we didn't try to sign him again.

Things were improving results-wise if nothing else. It looked like even if we continued the bad luck of last season, the much lower quality in Ligue 2 meant we could still come back and pick up points and finish in a good position, hopefully at least competing for automatic promotion...

======================================================================


September to December 2020 - Title Wrapped Up By November

Results

Spoiler

Ligue 2

(18th) Angers 1 - 3 Valenciennes (6th)
V Goal: Koffi (25)
A Goal: (45+1)
V Goals: Koffi (63), Alex (68)

(3rd) Valenciennes 0 - 0 Lorient (12th)


Coupe de France - 2nd Round

(4th, L2) Valenciennes 4 - 0 Nimes (20th, L2)
V Goals: Didot (5, 45+3)
N Disallowed Goal: (62)
V Goals: Didot (72), van der Heijden (79)


Ligue 2

(2nd) Metz 0 - 1 Valenciennes (4th)
V Goal: Babovic (61)

(2nd) Valenciennes 4 - 0 Niort (6th)
V Goals: Alex (9, 15, 36), Ljajic (43)
V Knock, Down To 10 Men: (72)

(4th) Besancon 0 - 2 Valencinnes (1st)
V Goals: Alex (59), Didot (63)

(1st) Valenciennes 3 - 1 Libourne St-Seurin (3rd)
V Goals: Bokoto (2), Alex (7)
LS-S Goal: (38)
LS-S Red Card: (62)
V Goal: Scotto (86)

(17th) Nimes 0 - 1 Valenciennes (1st)
V Goal: Own Goal (85)


Coupe de la Ligue - 3rd Round

(10th, L1) Créteil 3 - 2 Valenciennes (1st, L2)
V Goal: van der Heijden (1)
C Goal: (6)
V Goal: Ljajic (12)
C Goal: (32)
C Red Card: (79)
C Goal: (90+4)


Ligue 2

(1st) Valenciennes 2 - 0 Cannes (3rd)
V Goals: Didot (5), Alex (36)

(11th) Pau 0 - 0 Valenciennes (1st)
P Red Card: (2)

(1st) Valenciennes 4 - 1 Yzeure (14th)
V Goals: Alex (16, 49), Own Goal (56), Koffi (71)
Y Goal: (83)

(1st) Valenciennes 1 - 1 Le Havre (18th)
V Goal: Bergougnoux (54)
LH Goal: (74)


Coupe de France - 7th Round

(1st, L2) Valenciennes 4 - 1 Le Havre (15th, L2)
V Goals: Alex (10, 14, 20)
LH Goal: (40)
V Goal: Bergougnoux (89)


Ligue 2

(14th) Nancy 1 - 1 Valenciennes (1st)
V Goal: Babovic (29)
N Goal: (41)

(1st) Valenciennes 1 - 0 Brest (9th)
V Goal: Alex (84)

(2nd) Bastia 1 - 1 Valenciennes (1st)
B Goal: Didot Own Goal (32)
V Goal: Alex (35)


Coupe de France - 8th Round

(5th tier) Fréjus 0 - 1 Valenciennes (1st, L2)
V Goal: Bergougnoux (43)


Ligue 2

(1st) Valenciennes 3 - 1 Sedan (5th)
V Goals: Bergougnoux (23, 41)
S Goal: (42)
V Goal: Bergougnoux (47)

(16th) Caen 0 - 2 Valenciennes (1st)
V Goals: Fekih (41), Ljajic (46)
V Injury, Down To 10 Men: Fekih (80)

League Record: P16 W11 D5 L0 F29 A7 GD+22 CS9 PTS38
League Place: 1/20, P22 PTS49

valenciennes-guingamp.jpg?w=640&h=480&au

Suddenly, the juggernaut was in full motion, going on a record undefeated streak from our opening day loss into the winter break, only failing to score in 2 games, a mean 7 goals conceded in 16 games, including 7 clean sheets during an 8-game streak, and scoring 3 or more goals in 7 games.

With the teams below taking point off each other, we stretched to an incredible lead. By the end of the year, we were 10 points ahead of 2nd and 3rd for the title, and 16 ahead of 4th for promotion.

With such dominance, I could concentrate on the cups, resting players in league games a few days before. Despite being in Ligue 2, we had a chance of European football by reaching a final or winning, which we could do on any day. We stayed in the Coupe de France, and were knocked out of the Coupe de la Ligue but only in the last minute away to a Ligue 1 side, and only thanks to a rare poor goalkeeping performance from Guimard. We would've won 2 - 0 otherwise.

It's alright. In the next match he got a 10/10 rating.

I got a couple of international job offers from Venezuela and Angola, but there was no chance I was going anywhere this season now.

Alex achieved a Goal of the Month award for his late winner against Brest, a shot rifled into the side of the goal from the D, at the end of some one-touch passing.

And I was named Ligue 2 Manager of the Year for 2020. My first award since Varese 12.5 years ago.

Promotion and the title was near-certain, but bigger mid-season points gaps have disappeared in the past. I always told the players not to assume it's won already, and that it's better to do the work now, then we can have the last month or two off.

The last step to the trophy was to continue January as we ended December. If our form isn't lost, the title is ours.

======================================================================


January 2021 to May 2021 - Easing Off

Results

Spoiler

Coupe de France - 9th Round

(1st, L2) Valenciennes 1 - 0 Niort (18th, L2) AET
V Goal: Alex (119)

Ligue 2

(1st) Valenciennes 5 - 1 Chateauroux (8th)
V Goals: Bergougnoux (9, 36), Alex (34)
C Goal: (45+1)
V Goal: Bergougnoux (63)
V injury, down to 10 men: Vos (73)
V Goal: Koffi (81)

(17th) Séte 1 - 0 Valenciennes (1st)
S Goal: (75)


Coupe de France - 10th Round

(1st, L2) Valenciennes 3 - 1 Sochaux (16th, L1)
S Goal: (3)
V Red Card: Monti (21)
V Goals: Ljajic (23), Bergougnoux (31), Alex (72)


Ligue 2

(1st) Valenciennes 3 - 2 Angers (13th)
V Goals: Fekih (15), Bergougnoux (41)
A Goal: (56)
V Goal: Saengsawad (62)
A Goal: (88)

(9th) Lorient 1 - 1 Valenciennes (1st)
V Goal: Ramirez (35)
L Goal: (pen 62)
V Disallowed Goal: Koffi (77)


Coupe de France - 11th Round

(20th, L1) Le Mans 3 - 2 Valenciennes (1st, L2)
LM Goals: (13), (17)
V Goals: Alex (pen 42), Bergougnoux (48)
LM Goal: (81)


Ligue 2

(1st) Valenciennes 1 - 1 Metz (19th)
M Goal: Schmidt Own Goal (43)
V Goal: Ljajic (82)

(19th) Niort 1 - 1 Valenciennes (1st)
V Second Yellow: Bergougnoux (34)
N Goal: (36)
V Goal: Koffi (78)
V Second Yellow: Fekih (90+3)

(1st) Valenciennes 0 - 0 Besancon (7th)

(17th) Libourne St-Seurin 0 - 0 Valenciennes (1st)

(1st) Valenciennes 2 - 0 Nimes (8th)
V Goals: Bergougnoux (23, 35)

(4th) Cannes 0 - 1 Valenciennes (1st)
V Goal: Alex (33)
V Second Yellow: Travers (81)
C injury, down to 10 men: (81)


(1st) Valenciennes 4 - 1 Pau (6th)
V Goal: Marcelo Moreno (22)
P Goal: (35)
V Goals: Eriksson (39), Marcelo Moreno (58, 69)

(16th) Le Havre 1 - 3 Valenciennes (1st)
V Goals: Marcelo Moreno (pen 31, 79), Travers (74)
LH Goal: (90+1)

(9th) Yzeure 1 - 1 Valenciennes (1st)
V Goal: Ljajic (18)
Y Goal: (88)

(1st) Valenciennes 1 - 0 Nancy (9th)
V Disallowed Goal: Eriksson (42)
V Goal: Koffi (64)


(4th) Brest 2 - 2 Valenciennes (1st)
B Goals: (6), (13)
V Goals: Bergougnoux (78), Own Goal (90+2)

(1st) Valenciennes 1 - 0 Beauvais (3rd)
V Goal: Bergougnoux (27 seconds)
B Missed Penalty: (45+2)

League Record: P16 W8 D7 L1 F26 A12 GD+14 CS6 PTS31
Season League Record: P38 W22 D14 L2 F61 A23 CS18 PTS 80

The first match back was a bit of a disaster. We only beat a relegation-fighting Ligue 2 side after extra time. With an offside goal, despite 22 shots (most off target), 31 free kicks and 10 corners. The match also cost 4 players: the star right-winger Ljajic and centre-back Noto with suspension, and midfielder Scotto and defender Travers for a few weeks with injuries.

I played even weaker sides in matches that came before cup games, no matter how many days rest there was. So the cameras watched us lose our first and only game since the opening day with a mostly second-string side, including an Under-18 player. Had we not lost on the opening day, I might've played a strong side to try and play a whole season unbeaten.

It was clear the title was ours. Although our form had dropped a little and our defence lost its mean streak, it wasn't enough to stop us outscoring everyone, getting points, goals and clean sheets as another unbeaten run started.

Meanwhile, our cup runs showed that we should be fine in Ligue 1, easily knocking out a Ligue 1 side despite being a goal behind and a man down for nearly the whole game, as well as scoring well in 3-2 losses away to two others.

23252_ori_marcelo_moreno.jpg

Being knocked out of our second cup at the end of January had a silver lining. I could now get rid of some players who weren't going to be in our Ligue 1 squad next season, rather than keep them for the cup. I sold the disappointing van der Heijden to Ajax as well as Antonio on deadline day, bringing in a couple of old strikers free as effectively trials. One, Marcelo Martins Moreno (who you may know as the Bolivian-Brazilian who took a team photo with the Brazilians) would stay for next season as a backup after 5 goals and 1 assist in 2 games.

A busy transfer window saw 4 players leave for over £3.5m and 3 join for £35,000 (which was just a tribunal fee).

DSYVnlGWsAAAj8b.jpg

I even tried to loan Messi. He said no, but if you don't ask you don't get. But another Barcelona legend did join us. An overhaul of the staff saw a new assistant manager as well as Andrés Iniesta taking his first coaching role after spending his whole playing career at Barcelona. Of course, he'll be the ball control/technique coach.

The teams below dropping points every week meant, despite a spell of 5 draws in a row, promotion was officially confirmed with 5 games to spare and the title with 4. In the end we won the title by 19 points, with over double everyone else's goal difference.


Final Ligue 2 Table

1 - Valenciennes - 80 (Champions)
2 - Bastia - 61
3 - Brest - 59 (Final promotion place)
------------------------------------------------------
4 - Beauvais - 57

 

220px-Troph%C3%A9e_de_la_Ligue_2.JPG


Every Record That Was Smashed And Crazy Stats

80 points - Club and Ligue 2 Record - Most points in a season (even if earlier seasons were 3 points for a win instead of 2, at least in the club's case)

22 games won - Club Record - Most games won in a season

2 losses - Club Record - Least amount of losses in a league season

14-game unbeaten streak in all competitions - Club Record - Longest unbeaten streak in all competitons

22-games unbeaten streak in Ligue 2 - Club and Ligue 2 Record - Longest unbeaten streak in Ligue 2

20 goals (Alex (ST)) - Club Record - Most goals in a season

21 assists (Babovic (AMC)) - Club Record - Most assists in a season

14 league assists (Babovic (AMC)) - Tied Ligue 2 Record - Most assists in a season (held also by Edgar Manucharyan from Ajaccio's 2007/08 season).

Average rating of 7.48 (Bokoto (CM)) - Club Record - Highest average rating in a season

£6.5m (Boudib (DL) to Visé (Belgium)) - Club Record - Biggest transfer fee received (also Visé's record fee)

£16.5m - Club Record - Highest total received in transfer fees in a season

£14.5m - Club Record - Highest net transfer profit in a season

17 of our goals were assisted by free kicks, 2nd place was 10 goals.

Noto (DC) had the highest pass percentage in Ligue 2 - 83%

Fekih (ML) had the most dribbles per game in Ligue 2 - 3.57

Bokoto's (CM) club-record average rating of 7.43 is the best average rating in Ligue 2

Our game away to 18th placed Niort was the lowest attendance of the season. The Niort fans didn't want to see their team destroyed, but would've seen their team win a point had they come.

Also, Libourne St-Seurin dropped down the table while failing to win their last 21 games, with no wins since November. They finished 19th.


Ligue 2 Awards

Manager of the Season: Me

Manager of the Year (2020): Me

Players' Player of the Season: Ljajic (MR/L)

Goalkeeper of the Season: Guimard

Most Promising Player: Alex

Team of the Season included Guimard (GK), Monti (D/WB/ML), Ljajic MR/L and Babovic (AMC) with Alex (ST) on the 'bench'

Alex was named the Ligue 2 signing of the season in the season review as well as the Valenciennes Fans' Player of the Year. The £4.6m-rated 21-year-old was signed for £0 and provided 14 league goals in 24(3) games (plus 6 in 5 cup games).


My Future

The club offered me a new contract, perhaps more delighted financially than with the on-the-pitch success.

I've signed players for little or nothing, as well as played previously out-of-favour players, and they've gone on to make millions for the club. The biggest examples being Mansour, who I bought for £550k and who was sold in the next window for £4.8. And Boudib, who when I arrived wasn't being played and was only rated at £4,000. Something I noted when I first arrived:

On 16/11/2017 at 11:51, git2thachoppa said:

I'm shocked to see the 4k-rated Algerian left-back Boudib is actually a good-looking young player, so he may start my first game.

He was sold after a great season-and-a-half for £6.5m.

I wasn't sure if I would stay, but after reviewing the squad, I was surprised how many players were only 21/22 years old. That and our performances against Ligue 1 opposition, a ready-made squad of players who are mostly my own signings now, and a healthy budget, it's worth sticking around for another 2 years.

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Thank you sirs.

2020/21 - Domestic Football Recap

Selected Transfers
Peter Volk (26, German, MR/AMR) - Real Betis to Inter Milan - £42m
Georgi Ivanov (27, Bulgarian, DC/DM/MC) - Liverpool to Real Betis - £26.5m
Alexandre García Munoz (27, Mexican/Colombian, MR/L/AMR/L) - Chivas to Barcelona - £25.5m
Arben Gashi (26, Albanian, MC) - Chelsea to AC Milan - £24m
Babis Papadopoulos (25, Greek, ML/AML) - Man City to Inter Milan - £20.5m
Alexander Jansen (27, Dutch, DL) - Bayern Munich to Chelsea - £19.5m

The transfer of Volk is the first to be over £40m since Zidane's record transfer fee, and the 5th to be over £30m (all 5 of which were paid by Inter Milan, as the world's richest club look to keep their grip on Europe).


Awards

New names made up the top 3 for World Player of the Year. Palermo's Czech striker Svozil was the winner, followed by American striker Rob Roberts of Borussia Dortmund, then England and Man City attacker Jones.

Last year's World Player of the Year was this year's Ballon d'Or European Footballer of the Year: Arsenal and Mexico's Carlos Vela for the 3rd time. Real Madrid and Argentina's Gonzalo Higuaín and Man Utd's Colombian striker Lara were 2nd and 3rd.


European Cups

Players-celebrate-with-Steve-McClaren-af

Arise Sir Steve McClaren.

For 11 years, the best England manager since Bobby Robson did what Sir Bobby couldn't at club level too, after taking his country to a final. He has taken Newcastle United from a midtable side to the challengers to Arsenal's throne, winning 2 titles before this double of Champions League and Premier League.

The final in Milan saw the Geordies brush aside 10-man Arsenal 2-1, who went down to 9 through injury in the last 10 minutes. A knighthood awaits.

The semi-finals saw a surprise team in Hertha BSC, managed by Jurgen Kohler, who only reached the group stage over a decade ago and the UEFA Cup semis last season.

After winning La Decima, Real Madrid lost in the first knockout round to Hamburg SV.

Norwegian side Lyn had a dream run to the knockout rounds under Arne Erlandsen. After reaching the group stage by beating Benfica on away goals, they finished above PSV in the group stage before being knocked out by Atlético Madrid.

David Moyes had taken Bayern Munich to a Champions League final before winning it the next year, but they've now been knocked out at the group stage twice in 3 seasons, losing out to Real Betis and Hearts.

Mourinho's Chelsea didn't even make the group stage after being beaten by Hapoel Tel-Aviv.

Newcastle-United-v-Barnsley-Sky-Bet-Cham

Rafa Benitez' Palermo won their first European trophy after being Napoli in an exciting Uefa Cup final. A 1-1 draw became 2-2 after extra time, before a 3-2 win on penalties.


England

England.jpg

Premier League

As mentioned earlier, Newcastle won the Premier League.

But Michael Laudrup's Arsenal finished outside the top 2 for the first time in 6 years, finishing 4th.

Preston had another best finish. They had finished 7th and qualified for Europe a few years ago under Frank Lampard, before quickly sacking him. Two 14th place finishes under Sammy Lee was followed by a 5th place finish this year.

Phil Brown's West Ham had their best finish since 1999, finishing 6th.

keane_0.jpg?itok=VltoARvj

13 years at Manchester United ended after Roy Keane ran out of chances. After a bumpy start, the board kept faith and were rewarded with erratic finishes, but also 1 Premier League title, 4 F.A. Cups,  1 UEFA Cup, 1 League Cup, and a Champions League final and 3 more semis. But a group stage Champions League exit and a 7th placed finish (their 4th finish outside the top 4 since winning the title 6 years ago) meant it was time for change. His replacement is Gladbach manager and former Arsenal coach and Leicester manager Neil Banfield.

_93722139_gerrard_getty.jpg

Meanwhile at Liverpool, fans were ecstatic when Steven Gerrard finished his apprenticeship at the club to become manager. 20 years as a player was followed by 3 years as assistant manager... and only 8 months as manager, as he was unceremoniously sacked in January due to, can you believe it, losing player confidence.

Frank Lampard was yet another 00s legend who got the sack, and once again quick and mind-boggling. After being sacked by Preston just months after taking them to Europe, he was sacked by Sheffield United months after steering them away from relegation due to the new chairman wanting his own man, Carlos Bracamontes.

A last minute goal by Southampton at Hull meant Leeds United survived their first season finally back in the Premier League.

Tottenham were relegated in 19th in only their second season back, and risk becoming a yo-yo club.

Yo-yo club Bolton only got 19 points as they finished bottom, the worst finish since Sheffield Wednesday failed to get a win in 2012/13. The gap between Premier League and Championship continues to be wide.

English players out-performed the foreigners this season, and there are hopes of more caps being given and a chance for trophies in the next 3 years for England.

F.A. Cup

Man City won their second F.A. Cup in 3 years, beating Preston 1-0.

Cup specialists Coventry and Treble-chasing Newcastle were knocked out in the semis.

Football League and Non-League

Peter Beardsley took Everton into the Premier League at the first time of asking, winning the Championship title as well.

After taking charge of Standard Liege and then Rangers, Zhou Chen took charge of Norwich to become the first Chinese and Asian manager in England (probably). He's probably the first Chinese and Asian manager everywhere he goes.

Tony Mowbray was sacked in February, after taking Aldershot Town from League One to 2 Championship playoff finishes in a row, with the team now in the relegation zone. They didn't improve under John Carver and were relegated to League One few months later.

Derby County were relegated to the third tier for the first time since the 80s.

Sunderland sacked Chris Waddle after only a few months, with the relegated League One side flirting with another relegation.

Bournemouth will be playing non-league football next season, for the first time since the 50s.

Sutton United won the Conference title to make their Football League debut next season.

Wycombe legend Keith 'Rhyno' Ryan oversaw his club getting relegated from the Conference.

Jonathan Woodgate's first half-season in charge of Nuneaton saw the Conference North side win their first ever F.A. Trophy. His first full season in charge saw them win the title and promotion back to the Conference.


Spain

Spain.jpg

Atletico-Madrid-la-liga-champion.jpg

Perennial runner-ups (8 in 13 seasons) Atlético Madrid, still managed by Abel Resino since 2008, finally won their first title in 9 years.

Stuart Pearce's Sevilla took 2nd.

Defending champions Real Madrid faltered and dropped to 3rd.


Italy

Italy.jpg

José Manuel de la Torre's AC Milan won the city of Milan's 14 title in a row by 10 points, 22 points ahead of any non-Milanese club.


Scotland

Scotland.jpg

Defending champions Hearts played at surprise challengers Motherwell to decide the title. Gary McAllister's Motherwell took the lead but Craig Levein's Hearts broke Motherwell's with 3 goals to win their 4th title in 6 seasons.

Celtic did no better under Dan Petrescu, finishing 6th again.


Belgium

Belgium.jpg

Brugge officially has a new #1 club. With the big 3 of Anderlecht, Club Brugge and Genk no more, FC Brussels threatened to be a Big 1. But after Royal Antwerp's win in 2018 briefly broke the monotony, Cercle Brugge won the title this year, their first in 90 years.

Royal Antwerp were relegated.


Switzerland

Switzerland.jpg

The Swiss elite were completely blown apart.

Basel's grip on the league was loosened after 9 titles in a row (and 17 in 20 years). St. Gallen won the title for the first time since 1999, 1 point ahead of 2nd-placed Basel.

Luzern, runner-up for 5 seasons in a row, thus finished 3rd.

Young Boys are repeating themselves, as the replacement of my replacement, Brazilian Croatian Eduardo, was sacked during the winter break with team flirting with relegation just like his 3 predecessors. They were steered to safety by his replacement, as usual, but new coach Yuriy Maxymov might want to turn his phone off next winter.

The Liverpool of Switzerland, Grasshopper, shockingly finished bottom and were relegated.


France

France.jpg

After the shocking relevation of match fixing and corruption that lead to Valenciennes and nearly Marseille being relegated, it was almost the perfect story of karma as Valenciennes stormed to the Ligue 2 title. But on the final day, Claude Puel's Lyon got the win they needed to beat Marseille to the Ligue 1 title.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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2020-21 - International Football Recap

2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup

Mexico needed penalties to beat surprise finalists Trinidad & Tobago.

USA failed to get out of the group stage for the first time in 17 tournaments.

Panama made a surprising call by sacking their manager despite 2 quarter-final finishes and reaching the final stage of World Cup qualifying, which is still underway. It's difficult to understand why, with Panama in good health in their qualifying group.

Costa Rica's defence of their trophy, and preparation for the Confederations Cup, ended badly, losing both games against El Salvador and Panama.

Cuba got perhaps their biggest ever result: a 1-1 draw with Mexico in the group stage.


Italy 2021 Confederations Cup

There were a lot of new faces after surprise tournament wins from Northern Ireland (Euro 2020), Costa Rica (2019 Gold Cup), Egypt (AFCON 2020) and Fiji (2020 OFC Nations Cup). Back-to-back World Cup winners Argentina didn't appear this time.

And thus, South America's 4-trophy streak was ended by Asia's first winner, South Korea, who beat Diego Forlan's Uruguay 1-0 in the final.

Hosts Italy eased through their group of South Korea, Northern Ireland and Fiji, but were too easily beaten by South American sides Uruguay and Brazil.

Renato+Portaluppi+Gremio+v+Godoy+Cruz+Co

Renato Gaúcho stepped down as Brazil's manager a year before the World Cup. His side won their exciting goal-filled group games, before losing 3-2 to South Korea and their hat-trick hero in the semis, then dominating the hosts in a 2-0 win. But evidently he wasn't confident in his side, or the F. A. in him. His time saw Brazil barely qualify via a playoff before finishing 3rd in the 2018 World Cup without conceding a single goal. They then lost the 2019 Copa América final on penalties before qualifying for the next World Cup with ease with just 1 loss, in their meaningless penultimate match.

Fiji surprised everyone. They lost all their games but, unlike the Solomon Islands in 2013, kept the scores low. They failed to register a shot on target, with 5 shots in total, but only lost 1-0 against the European Champions Northern Ireland, 2-0 against the eventual winners, and 3-0 against the hosts though only 1-0 down before having a man sent off.

Costa Rica's manager Gilberto Harris retired after they became the first team other than Mexico and USA since the format and name change in 1991 to lift the CONCACAF Gold Cup. In their first Confederations Cup, they drew with Uruguay and Egypt before losing 3-2 to Brazil after going down to 10 men. Jeaustin Campos takes over, with no World Cup to look forward to.


Youth Football

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England have entered another 'golden generation' era. The 2018 World Cup semi-finalists and Euro 2020 quarter-finalists have a lot of players out-performing everyone else in the Premier League, and this season they won both the Under-21 and Under-19 European Championships. With England hosting the 2030 World Cup as well, will they finally lift a trophy before it becomes 70 years of hurt?

Similarly, Brazil won the Under-20 South American Championships, while their senior side dominated qualifying for next year's World Cup after reaching the semi-finals of 2018 and the 2019 Copa América final.

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5-Year Recap: 2016 - 2021

See 2006 - 2011 5-year recap here: Link
See 2011- 2016 5-year recap here: Link

- My Career
- Trophies/Medals
- The Bucket List
- Club Football
- International Football
- Notable Players
- Notable Managers

My Career

Chile

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The team improved with time, but the lack of having a goalscorer killed us. The golden generation were on their last legs. Particularly in attack, where only one player was in form (and he was usually injured), and only one Chilean in the world had scored double figures for the country in total.

We were unbeaten at home, got 2 points from Argentina and Brazil, but it wasn't enough with 1 point out of a possible 21 away. It was never going to be easy as the 4th-best team in a continent only offering 3.5 this year, combined with the shock rise of Bolivia. We failed to qualify and I was sacked.

Chile would do little better after I went: an underwhelming Copa América quarter-final finish followed by another poor World Cup qualification campaign, 9 points behind with 3 games to go and seeking a new manager.

BSC Young Boys of Bern (Switzerland)

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I jumped at the chance to manage at a club in a 10-man league and who were already in the cup semi-finals. It was my best chance to get into European competition. Unfortunately, penalties knocked us out of the cup, but I steered the club up the table. I had little money to spend, making 8 free signings and buying 2 Iranians. One signing would be our best player and later be sold for over triple what I paid to join Sevilla, another joining Atlético Madrid for £2m.

But the signings didn't perform and Young Boys ended up going into the winter break exactly in the position they were in when I arrived: fighting relegation but in the cup semis, so I was sacked almost exactly a year after joining. It was hugely disappointing as the margins were so small and I was going to start playing some eager youths. The league was incredibly tight and a few wins would've seen the team shoot up the table. Rather than dire times, it was almost exciting times.

The new manager would finish the job by winning the cup and finally getting Young Boys back in Europe, but barely avoiding the relegation playoffs on goal difference. It would become an ongoing cycle for Young Boys. For 3 years in a row, the manager would leave or be sacked during the winter break with the team struggling but in the cup semis.

Meanwhile, I readied myself for a step down.

Valenciennes (France)

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But instead, I got offered the opportunity to manage in one of the major leagues in Europe: France's Ligue 1.

Valenciennes were a mid-table club flirting with relegation halfway through the season. The players were sparked to life with my arrival. Previously out-of-favour players were suddenly winning Player of the Month awards, we were getting historic results, and I extended my contract confident of the attitude and quality of my team to start climbing up the table next season.

But the 2019/20 season went down in footballing history as the most audacious match fixing scandal, as it emerged the likes of Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini had tried to get Marseille and Valenciennes relegated, paying with their careers and freedom when the FBI took them down. Late goals, open goals and multiple disallowed winners combined with an injury crisis that saw players suddenly getting injured at a rate of 1 per game, new signings immediately getting injured and players who were subbed off for protection getting injured the very next day. One player even got injured while coming off the physio's table after getting the all-clear from his current injury. Relegation was inevitable, but at least the circumstances meant I wouldn't take the blame and in fact I and the club had public sympathy.

The next season in Ligue 2 was the opposite. As effectively a Ligue 1 club in Ligue 2, we destroyed records and collected awards as we won the title by 19 points.

After 1.5 seasons in charge, despite match-fixing scandal and relegation, the squad is better than the one I inherited. Additionally, thanks to my player recruitment and the millions made in profit from their sales, last summer was the first summer that the bank balance didn't dip into the red at all.


Trophies/Medals

Varese
2007/08 Serie C2/A title
2007/08 Serie C2/A Manager of the Year

Iran
2011 Asian Cup runner-up

Valenciennes
2020 Ligue 2 Manager of the Year
2020/21 Ligue 2 title
2020/21 Ligue 2 Manager of the Season


The Bucket List

Win something - 4/5/08 - Won Serie C2/A title with Varese in 2008.

Manage a club in one of the major nations - 13/11/06 - Achieved with Varese in Italy.

Manage in a large stadium - 17/10/07 - Achieved with Tunisia in my first match, a deciding World Cup qualifer in front of 59,997. The 100,000-capacity Azadi in Tehran probably won't be beaten.

Manage Iran (my second nationality) - 18/7/10 - Arrived as a promising manager, left a bit of a legend.

Manage one of the Home Nations - I'm English, but being stalked and abused by the press isn't everyone's idea of a fun time. I'm 1/8th Irish (like the rest of the world), so I'm including Republic of Ireland.

Manage Manchester United - My club.

Manage Brighton & Hove Albion - My hometown club.

Manage Worthing - My actual hometown club that I don't support because they're so low down that it's impossible to, and they may never be at a level where I could consider managing them.

Manage Barcelona or Real Madrid - Like the England job, but the press are comedically nutty rather than sadistic, and the players are incredible.

Manage an Old Firm club - I prefer Celtic, because green is my favourite colour. Also: 1/8th Irish.

Manage in the MLS - A lower quality of football, thanks partly to David Beckham's L.A. Galaxy deal falling through, but there are worse things than to get paid to do football and live in New York or L.A.

Manage a host nation - A unique challenge

Manage Japan - I like Japan.

Manage in South Korea - There's this new Japanese immigration law that says foreign managers can't manage Japanese clubs... Yeah, that's it... So for club football, South Korea would be close enough!

Manage A Big Sexy International Team - Brazil, Germany, Italy, Argentina, maybe France, Spain or Netherlands.

Manage a stinking rich club - A nice comfortable job

Get sacked - 20/10/06 - Everyone has to get sacked. I got in early, losing my first job at Salyut-Energia Belgorod in just over 3 months after failing to steer them away from relegation.

Experience an international tournament - Australia 2011 Asian Cup - Achieved with Iran, finishing runner-up, their best performance in decades.

Experience a World Cup - Espana '14 - Achieved with Iran, the 4 points and 3 goals in Spain was their best ever performance.

Experience an Olympics - London 2012 - Achieved with Iran U23s, their first appearance ever (and since the 70s for Iran in general, when it was a senior tournament)

Win every continent's international competition - Collecting trophies while experiencing new and unique environments

Gain a famous friend - Frank Rijkaard - Met the La Liga title-streak-winning manager after his Barcelona team asked to play a friendly at Varese

Become a millionaire - $$$ - The Iran job brought me into 7 figures, and I've had regular work since then.


Club Football

As time went on, the smaller teams got stronger. Smaller leagues like Belgium, Portugal, Scotland and Switzerland all saw new winners as the elite stuttered temporarily or collapsed entirely after years of title streaks and decades of dominance, and teams like Hearts and FC Brussels establishing a new dominance.

Champions-League.jpg

Inter Milan and Arsenal used to dominate their countries and Europe with title streaks and Champions League trophies aplenty, but Newcastle United under Steve McClaren and AC Milan under José Manuel de la Torre have not only established a title-winning Big 2 in their respective leagues, but perhaps formed a European Big 4.

Real Madrid finally won La Decima, after losing the final at their own ground the year before.

Champions League Winners
2017: AC Milan (7)
2018: Inter Milan (6)
2019: AC Milan (8)
2020: Real Madrid (10)
2021: Newcastle United (1)


International Football

The rise of the smaller countries continued and reached new heights.

We saw minnows battle it out for the European Championships (Northern Ireland beating Switzerland), CONCACAF Gold Cup (Costa Rica beating Guatemala), OFC Nations Cup (Fiji) and Confederations Cup (South Korea beating Uruguay). Diego Forlan also lifted Uruguay's first Copa América since 1995, after U.S.A. became the first non-South American winner in 2015.

The only shock remaining now to be seen is a new World Cup winner. Argentina are still the best team in the world after back-to-back World Cup wins, but Brazil or even Uruguay could stop them reaching an historic 3 in a row. Meanwhile, Austria made it 3 World Cups in a row where a South American juggernaut faced (and beat) a European minnow in a World Cup final.

2018 World Cup qualification was the most brutal, shocking and intense in footballing history.

In South America, a turnaround in the second half of Brazil's and Bolivia's games on the final day saw Bolivia defy the odds and qualify (and then top their World Cup group with 7 points including a win over Italy). So Brazil had to go through the playoffs, where 3 goals in the last 10 minutes saw USA take the lead, 10-man Brazil equalise but still behind on away goals, then with the last kick of the game America conceded an own goal with a failed backpass to knock themselves out. In Europe, Croatia, Slovenia and Wales finished on equal points thanks to a last-second goal in a battle for just a playoff place. Switzerland, who would be runner-up for Euro 2020 under the same manager, finished bottom of their group, beneath Malta. In the playoffs, Denmark thrashed Germany while 2 goals in the last 4 minutes saw R.o.Ireland qualify over Spain. In Africa, an 84th-minute winner saw Comoros debut, while Togo failed to make the group stage thanks to a last-minute equaliser then penalty loss to Seychelles. In Asia, Australia, Japan and China failed to make the routine final group stage while Macau, Hong Kong, Jordan and Lebanon did, plus Iraq lost both games to Chinese Taipei. Macau and Jordan would finish above South Korea in their final group to qualify for the World Cup, and Jordan would reach the quarter-finals.

Brutal was also an apt word for the World Cup itself, with multiple sendings off, averaging 1 sending off every 3 matches.

That's because Europe's elite in particular has crumbled. Euro 2016 runner-up Germany failed to even qualify for 2018 post-Klopp and didn't get out the groups in 2020, Netherlands didn't get out of the groups in 2018 and lost to Switzerland in the 2020 quarter-finals, France didn't qualify for 2018 either but reached the 2020 semis, while Spain haven't qualified for a tournament since 2014 and Portugal haven't qualified for any since 2010.

Even England reached a World Cup semi-final.

Italy, as hosts of 2022, will be hoping to improve on their underachievement.


Notable Players

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Gonzalo Higuaín - This makes it 3 times in a row that he makes the 'Notable Players' list in a 5-year recap. That's 15 years of brilliance. He's spent all that time at Real Madrid, scoring safely over 200 goals and assisting over 100 more in about 400 games, winning La Decima and 8 La Liga titles (including 6 in a row), not to mention back-to-back World Cups thanks to 29 goals in 81 Argentina appearances, scoring in both finals. The 33-year-old played only 17 games last season, even though he clearly would continue to get double figures in goals and assists in the league alone if he played most games.

carlos-vela-mexico-2015-getty-images.jpg

Carlos Vela - Despite playing mostly in 'the hole' behind the lone striker, Vela's strike rate shot back up in the last 4 seasons as he hit his frightening prime, getting better than a goal every 2 games and plentiful assists. At 32 years old, he's still playing for Mexico and currently has 85 goals in 121 appearances, though no trophies or even finals other than the expected few CONCACAF Gold Cups.

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Sergio Aguero - 33 and still going, Aguero banged in 20+ goals for Atlético Madrid in every season of the past 5 years, as well as scoring regularly for Argentina, helping them retain the World Cup, as he closes in on 100 appearances.

Nicklas-Bendtner.jpg?itok=WHSjnqvt

Nicklas Bendtner - As one of the few players to play for the two biggest clubs in the world at the time, Arsenal and Inter Milan, our lord and saviour Bendtner's Second Coming at Arsenal didn't disappoint as he continued his form domestically and internationally with 99 goals in just 3 seasons. But, in his 30s, he has been on the bench making an incredible 63 substitute appearances in the last 2 seasons, but still scoring.

Dave Hone - Coventry's Irish defender continues his strong performances, and it's surprising no big clubs came for a guy who has average ratings in the Premier League of around 7.30 and would only cost a few million. In the season of 17/18, he had an average rating for Republic of Ireland of 7.75, with 3 Man of the Match performances in 8 games.

Thomas Schweinsteiger - The forgotten man. It seems he's not quite good enough to get mentioned as the very best, with average ratings of around 7.10, sometimes less. Yet a striker who scores 30 goals in 47 appearances for Germany, plus a reliable regular scorer for Bayern Munich, should be acknowledged.

Héctor Juliá - Werder Bremen's Argentine defender has achieved average ratings of well over 7.00, including a 7.50 season and two 7.38s. His performances helped Argentina retain the World Cup with a 7.55 rating for the 17/18 season internationally. In Werder Bremen's 19/20 Champions League campaign to the quarter-final, he had a 7.78 average rating.

Mathieu Henry - Barcelona's French striker his around 20 goals a season for his club and, except last season, around 10 assists. In 2016/17, his France record was 11 goals in 9(1) appearances and an average rating of 8.10.


Notable Managers

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Sir Steve McClaren - Perhaps the greatest manager in the world today, arguably the greatest English manager in history. After taking England to the Euro 2008 final and 2009 Confederations Cup final (and a group World Cup exit in 2010), he joined Newcastle United, who had finished 6th then 7th with a UEFA Cup final. They finished 3rd, 4th, 3rd in his first 3 seasons, then didn't leave the top 2 for 6 seasons, winning their first title in nearly a century. They won another title before the double of their 3rd Premier League and 1st Champions League in 2021.

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Gordon Strachan - After almost winning La Liga in 2014, the fiery wee Scot broke Real Madrid's streak of 6 titles in a row with fiery wee Real Betis in 2019 (half of a double including the Copa del Rey) in his 8th year in charge. It was only their second ever title; they won their only title in 1935.

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Roberto Mancini - In the last 5 years, Inter Milan have been relatively poor, but they've still won a Champions League and 3 titles in that time. That makes 11 titles (7 in a row) and 4 Champions Leagues (2 in a row) in total for the club in his 17 years as manager so far.

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Marcelino García Toral - His title streak continued after 2016 with Real Madrid, eventually reaching 6-in-a-row. But more than anything, Marcelino makes the list for achieving La Decima, not least in a Milan-dominated Europe.

José Manuel de la Torre - After titles with Ajax and back-to-back titles with AC Milan to break Inter's 7-title streak, the past 5 years has seen Milan win a couple more titles but also 2 Champions Leagues.

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Craig Levein - Hearts of Midlothian had won the SPL title in 2010, the only team other than Celtic and Rangers to do since Sir Alex Ferguson's Aberdeen in the 1980s, but had fallen back down the table when Levein took charge in 2015. Since then Hearts have won 4 of the last 6 titles, 2 doubles, and reached the knockout round of the Champions League twice.

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Colin Clarke - He took over Northern Ireland from the retiring Martin O'Neill after a career in USA that saw him take Virginia Beach Mariners (who aren't even in the MLS) to the U.S. Open Cup final in 2009. 5 years later, they were lifting the European Championship.

Andreas Heraf - Since taking charge of Austria in 2009, the nation didn't get any worse but little better. Then in 2018, they reached the World Cup final.

Alfredo Calderón - Since taking over Bolivia, they not only reached the World Cup but reached the knockout stages after 2 wins and a draw. They then reached the Copa América semis and look set to qualify for another World Cup.

Ricardo Gomes - Winning titles wherever he went, he took over Mexican side Club Atlas. He would take them to their first Copa Libertadores... then 2nd, 3rd and 4th. They won an incredible 4 Copa Libertadores in a row, but he suffered a sensational sacking before the second leg of that 4th final. A few months later, they would beat AC Milan on penalties to win the Club World Cup.

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Mike Newell - Took charge of yo-yo club West Brom in February 2013 and a few months later they were back in the Premier League. 2 seasons later, they finished 6th and qualified for Europe, where they reached the quarters and semis of the UEFA Cup. This combined with an F.A. Cup final and semi-final was deemed worthy of the sack because of one underperforming season and threat of relegation.

Gilberto Harris - Costa Rica hadn't qualified for a World Cup since 2006. He not only took them there in 2018, but they won all their group games with 3 clean sheets before being knocked out by Italy in the knockouts. They then won the CONCACAF Gold Cup the next year, becoming the first team other than Mexico or U.S.A. to win it. They made a shock exit in the first round of 2022 World Cup qualifying against Turks & Caicos Islands, but got a good 2 points and a 3-2 loss against Brazil in the Confederations Cup before Harris retired.

Jaser Bqie'ey - The manager of Jordan came in charge of a team that had only once qualified for the Asian Cup, and took them to the World Cup quarter-finals and 2 successive Asian Cups (1 quarter-final finish).

Leung Shui Wing - He took charge of little Hong Kong in 2013. A few years later, they were in the final round of World Cup qualifying, and then in the Asian Cup getting draws with Australia and Bahrain.

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Paul Sturrock - Dundee United legend Sturrock took charge of the relegation-battling club in 2013 and he was unable to stop them finishing bottom of the SPL. They won promotion back up next season, and 2 years later were lifting the SPL trophy. They drew with Real Madrid at Tannadice in their debut Champions League season, before getting past Hamburg, Olympiakos, Rangers and Villareal to reach the UEFA Cup final. (Completely unrealistic. You never see a team going from relegation zone to league champions and then a dream European run before sacking their revered manager as thanks.)

Edited by git2thachoppa

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2021 Post/Pre-Season

Squad Review and Transfers

When I was offered a new contract, I reviewed my squad to help decide if I should accept. I was surprised how young everyone was and the quality and depth. So I accepted, knowing I wouldn't need to make big changes unless forced.

GK

13. Jean-Baptiste Guimard - 23 yrs old - £2.1m - P 34, Conc 23, CS 16, MotM 2, AvR 7.24
1. Eric Béranger - 30/31 yrs old - £1.1m - P 9, Conc 6, CS 4, AvR 6.89
(LOAN) 26. Attila Vass - 21/22 years old - £22k - P3, Conc 2, CS 2, MotM 1, AvR 6.67

Our defence wasn't mean but it was good enough, knowing young Guimard was a daunting last line of defence. He won us plenty of points and we could attack freely knowing he would save most of the shots going at him. However he was in the last year of his contract and had been watched by top division clubs for some time. He was sold, although Aston Villa got most of the net profit.

Béranger is a good Ligue 1 keeper, when he turns up. When he doesn't, he'll lose you the match by some distance. As a #1 next season he won't relegate us by himself.

I didn't keep Vass. He was only 7.00 for the reserves in the league below. So Stefano Ghezzo is a free signing for the #3 spot. He's done well in his handful of games in Italy's Serie C1, and scouts say the £1.3m-rated youngster will be even better than Guimard. He's a popular signing with the fans.

Eden Simantov chose Valenciennes over UEFA Cup entrants Dundee United. Scout says he'll be good, assistant says he'll be better than Béranger. The Israeli international's career in Israel and then Anderlecht has seen season after season of average ratings of 7.2, 7.3, 7.4, 7.5 even.

In
Ghezzo - Pavia (Serie C1) - Free (Summer 2021)
Simantov - Free Agent (Summer)

Out (Summer)
Guimard - Toulouse (Ligue 1) - £4m (Summer)
Ghezzo - Sedan (Ligue 2) - Loan (Summer)


DR

15. Michael Jezierski - 25 yrs old - £700k - P 24(3), MotM 1, AvR 7.00
16. Alen Sertic - 31 yrs old - £1.1m - P 16, MotM 1, AvR 7.13
+ Saengsawad

Jezierski is reliable, but his lack of physical presence can be a problem in Ligue 1 and he wanted to leave.

Sertic has already been brought in as his short-term replacement, with Saengsawad another option. Apparently he played a Croatian league match at the age of 4...

In
Sertic - AEK Athens (Superleague Greece) - Free (Winter)

Out
Jezierski - Lorient (Ligue 2) - £650,000 (Summer)


DL

12. Adel Travers - 22/23 yrs old - £350k - P 22(3), AvR 6.96
21. Sven Vos - D/WBL - 22 yrs old - £1.7m - P 7, AvR 7.43
+ Mangani, Monti

Travers proved during relegation season that he's good enough for Ligue 1, especially as he gets older and gains more experience.

Vos would've been a good option, but he wanted to leave and was a bit of a troublemaker.

Out
Vos - Austria Wien (Austrian Bundesliga) - £1.7m (Winter)


DC

22. Christophe Bokoto (Captain) - DC, DM, MC - 26/27 yrs old - £2m - P 24(3), MotM 4, AvR 7.48
4. Sébastien Noto - 23 yrs old - £550k - P 26, MotM 1, AvR 7.27
5. Bjorn Schmidt - 25/26 yrs old - £875k - P 22(2), MotM 1, AvR 7.04
29. Leivur Sorensen - 22 yrs old - £1.3m - P 10(1), MotM 1, AvR 7.18
19. Andrea Masiello - 34 yrs old - N/A - P 11, AvR 7.18
+ Mangani, Saengsawad

Captain Bokoto underperformed in our relegation season, but in Ligue 2 he broke Valenciennes' average rating record.

Noto is a young prospect who has had a very good season in Ligue 2. Remains to be seen how he'll cope with Ligue 1's attackers.

35-year-old Masiello was fine in Ligue 2, but with promotion certain he wasn't retained and returns home to Serie C1.

It looked like Schmidt was going to allow his contract to expire so he could move to a bigger club, but with promotion near certain he turned down offers from the teams that finished 1st and 2nd in Ligue 1 last season to become our highest-paid player.

I saw nothing in Sorensen; iIn his few years in the Faroe Islands he performed poorly, and he looked like a player who would be ok in Ligue 2 at best. But the scouts were adamant he was not only better than our defenders now, but that he would get even better than that. They were right, at least in Ligue 2 this season. He's another young defender who will only improve.

Pavel Pospech is a young centre-back coming in the summer, one for the future, whether that's to play or sell. I feel he could fill in in an emergency already. The Czech has been labelled the next Tomas Repka, oh yes.

 

In
Sorensen - NSÍ Ruknavík (Faroe Islands Premier League) - £35k tribunal fee (Winter)
Pospech - SK Dynamo Ceské Budejovice (Czech top tier) - £80k (Summer)

Out
Masiello - Released (March)


DM/MC

20. Jaroslav Janousek - MR/C - 22 yrs old - £4.3m - P 18(1), A 3, AvR 7.11
2. Somboon Saengsawad (Vice-Captain) - DR/C, DM, MR/C - 33 yrs old - £130k - P 15(1), AvR 7.00
(LOAN) 27. Christian Floch - 22/23 yrs old - £850k - P 10(5), AvR 6.87
16. Pedro Maria Ríera - 27 yrs old - £190k - P 1(1), AvR 6.50
31. Thomas Mangani - 33 yrs old - N/A - P 5(1), AvR 7.00
+ Bokoto, Jensen, Scotto

Janousek is yet another youngster that impressed this season and can do well in Ligue 1. He suffered 5 injuries and a virus in just 1 season though, costing him 5 months, and has always been injury-prone.

Saengsawad didn't get much time due to the foreigner limit in Ligue 2. He will be an able and experienced backup utility player in the last year of his contract.

Floch was decent in Ligue 2, but there's no reason to believe he'll be good enough for Ligue 1.

Riera never got a chance in Ligue 2 and never looked like he'd achieve the form he had when I first arrived, so was sold to another Ligue 2 club.

I tried to get rid of Mangani all season due to his high wages and age. He retires.

Summer saw the signing of Guiseppe Audino. The 22-year-old is good but not outstanding in any area. He played the last 2 seasons on loan at a part-time Italian club and tearing up the non-league.

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Perhaps I shouldn't have signed Pierre-Baptiste Baherlé. Every season of the 30-year-old's career had an average rating of below 7, in the French 3rd-tier until the age of 23 and then the Austrian Bundesliga, until last season when he got 7.31 in the Austrian second-tier. Scouts say he's only decent and I've already signed plenty of central midfielders. But he was cheap, and the potential pros outweight the potential cons if he delivers. Also he looks like Frank Lampard's younger brother.

In
Audino - Messina (Serie A) - 90k (Summer)
Baherlé - Wacker Tirol (Austrian Bundesliga) - £180k (Summer deadline day)

Out
Riera - Caen (Ligue 2) - £190k (Winter)
Mangani - Released (March)


MR

25. Miodrag Ljajic - AMR/L, MR/L - 26 yrs old - £2.5m - P 34(1), G 7, A 7, MotM 4, AvR 7.34
14. Mike Jensen - MR/C, AMR/C - 32 yrs old - N/A - P 3(3), A 2, AvR 6.67
+ Coelho, Janousek, Saengsawad

Ljajic contributed a goal or assist every 2.5 games. Great, but can he make the jump to Ligue 1?

Jensen wasn't retained. He was a club favourite who'd been here a while, but he was simply no longer good enough for Ligue 1, maybe not even Ligue 2. He retires.

Éverton is a summer signing who provides much needed depth on the right with only Ljajic as an effective option there. He's rated at £2m, and is a simple dribbler and crosser, which he does very well, who is strong on either foot. Hopefully with age will come mental ability. Though fans aren't happy with his attitude, calling the club "a stepping stone".

In
Éverton - Sporting CP - Free (Summer)

Out
Jensen - Released (March)


ML

3. Daniele Monti - D/WB/ML - 20/21 yrs old - £3.3m - P 26(12), A 8, MotM 2, AvR 7.21
6. Mohamed Fekih - AML/ML - 27 yrs old - £2.1m - P 22(6), G 2, A 5, MotM 3, AvR 7.25
17. Hamid Scotto - ML/C, AML/C, ST - 29/30 yrs old - £550k - P 18(9), G 1, A 5, MotM 2, AvR 6.89
11. Fabrice Marty - ML/AML - 26/27 yrs old - £1.1m - P 7(1), AvR 6.75
(LOAN) 32. Joan Faulds - AML/ML - 22 yrs old - £170k - P 2, AvR 6.50
+ Ljajic
 
Fekih's dribbling caused havoc and allowed us to score over a dozen goals from indirect free kicks. The team with the second-most indirect free kick goals scored half that. Unfortunately he's wanted to leave for some time, and he was finally sold in the summer.

Monti didn't start too well at left-back, then found his position in midfield. Hopefully as he gets older he improves his tackling to become an option at left-back.

Marty got a major injury in September so never made a mark, but he's very weak physically anyway. This combined with being one of the highest earners means he should be sold, even if he didn't requesting a transfer anyway.

Scotto has moments of brilliance, but otherwise doesn't make an impact. We already know that at Ligue 1 he lacks impact and should only play in central midfield in a 2 or 3 at that level.

The unscouted Faulds had 2 unimpressive games then got injured, just as he was going to be given a chance.

Another left-midfielder or left-back (given Monti plays both) might be required, but Ljajic plays both wings.

In
Faulds - Ipswich (Championship) - Loan (Jan deadline day)

Out
Fekih - Admira Wacker (Austrian Bundesliga) - £2.4m (Summer)


AMC

8. Stefan Babovic (Vice-Captain) - 33/34 yrs old - £1m - P 36(2), G 4, A 21, AvR 7.29
30. Coelho - 17 yrs old - £325k - P 1(1), AvR 6.50
+ Bergougnoux, Jensen, Scotto

Babovic has had fun this year. 21 assists (a club record) yet not one Man of the Match award. In Ligue 1, he got 1 assist every 4 games. He'll turn 35 next January, but could contribute still.

ligue-2-stade-brestois-manuel-perez-vers

Manuel Perez was a free summer signing. He can play attacking as well as defending or neutral central midfield. Scouts say he's only decent, but he's at least an option who fills either position in the middle. Last season he got an average rating of 7.12 in central midfield.

Esteban Pujol joins on loan from PSG. He can play attacking or regular central midfield. Scouts say he's only decent.

In
Perez - Hibernian (SPL) - Free (Summer)
Pujol - Paris Saint-Germain (Ligue 1) - Loan (Summer)


ST

9. Alex - 20/21 yrs old - £5.25m - P 29(3), G 20, A 4, MotM 4, AvR 7.28
7. Cédric Bergougnoux - AMC, ST - 21/22 yrs old - £2.7m - P 17(7), G 16, A 3, Motm 3, AvR 7.00
24. Benjamin Didot - 23/24 yrs old - £1.9m - P 13(9), G 5, A 2, MotM 1, AvR 6.68
18. Robert van der Heijden - 23/24 yrs old - £1.4m - P 8(9), G 4, A 3, AvR 6.82
10. Antonio - 29 yrs old - £250k - P 3(4), G 1, MotM 1, AvR 6.86
10. Marcelo Martins Moreno - 33 yrs old - £90k - P 3(1), G 5, A 1, MotM 2, AvR 8.00
23. Kevin Koffi - 33 yrs old - £300k - P 13(15), G 6, A 2, MotM 1, AvR 6.82
18. Mikael Eriksson - 33 yrs old - N/A - P 6, G 1, AvR 6.83
(LOAN) 28. Jérémy Ramirez - 19 yrs old - £1.7m - P 4(3), G 1, AvR 6.57
14. Gilles Bouchard - 16 yrs old - £95k - P 0(1), AvR 6.00
+ Scotto

So we had a few strikers...

Alex took a month to get going in his first season, then wouldn't stop scoring, breaking Valenciennes' top goalscorer record with 20. At 21 years old, he's a huge prospect and our most valuable player at about £3.5m. But his contract expires next season and he doesn't want to renew yet. Financially, he should be sold if he won't renew, as relegation isn't costly. But I would rather keep the Fans' Player of the Year obviously, even if he leaves for a free. Either selling or keeping is risky.

Bergougnoux got into a groove and run roughshod with an average 1 goal per start, getting several hat-tricks. He's also only 21 and one to keep. He's now a club favourite.

Didot never looked like a player to keep hold of on the surface, but the fact remains the youngster was given a chance at the end of our relegation season and contributed when other 'better' strikers didn't. In Ligue 2, he only got a few goals then dried up, but on loan did well (5 goals in 12 games, 7.58 average rating). He deserves a chance.

article-1248278-081E340B000005DC-250_224

Marcelo Moreno was without a club after 12 goals in La Liga last season for Castellon. His first game was unspectacular. Then he got a hat-trick and an assist in a 4-1 win, followed by 2 more goals in the next match, and earned a contract for next season as a backup.

kevin-koffi-1284772_1.jpg

Koffi (like the drink, only not spelt the same) would only be a backup next season, but a good one. But his wage demands combined with Marcelo Moreno's contract extension means he can leave, joining another Ligue 1 club.

Eriksson was a short-term January signing who clearly isn't one to keep for Ligue 1, he was released and retired after finally experiencing football outside Scandinavia.

Antonio was sold in January to Metz, who were on the way to back-to-back relegations, but only made a few sub appearances.

Van der Heijden might've been able to contribute the odd goal, but he just lacked the whole time he was here and was cashed in on in January. Maybe he can improve at a club like Ajax.

Ramirez was just a free loan and there's no reason to extend his stay.

web_segundo_tiemp_big_tp.jpg

Humberto Osorio arrived in the summer after a bad season for Metz in Ligue 2, who suffered two relegations in a row. He only scored 4 goals in 35 starts, but scouts think he can be a star in Ligue 1. He has only scored a few goals a season and made free transfers since his move out of his home country of Colombia. But his attributes are outstanding, with 17+ in Finishing, First Touch, Jumping, Heading, Strength, Passing and Off The Ball. Not that that ever means anything. He doesn't have Pace or Composure, but at worse I feel he can be an option as an assister and deadly in set pieces, where we wreaked havoc last season. He's free and his contract is one year, so why not?

In
Eriksson - Tromso IL (Norwegian top tier) - Free (Winter deadline day)
Marcelo Moreno - Free Agent (February)
Humbero Osorio - Metz (Ligue 2) - Free (Summer)

Out
Antonio - Metz - £250k (Winter deadline day)
van der Heijden - Ajax - £1.4m (Winter deadline day)
Didot - Standard Liege (Belgian top tier) - Loan (Winter deadline day)
Eriksson - Released (Summer)
Koffi - Released (Summer)


Pre-Season

The board are expecting the team to be in a relegation battle, the fans are a bit more optimistic and want the team to stay clear of that. Media predict about a 14th-place finish.

Back in Ligue 1, we can look forward to earning less TV money than in Ligue 2 again.

With a maximum wage limit, I have the budget to sign at least 3 players. After making about £25m profit in my time so far, I have a £6m transfer budget left after summer.

The loan system was frustrating, despite dozens of offers, only Pujol joined on loan, despite scouts saying all the other players would want to join on loan.


Friendlies

(1st, L2) Valenciennes 2 - 1 Estrela da Amadora (4th, Portuguese Primera Liga)
V Goal: Bergougnoux (10)
EdA Goal: (44)
V Goal: Osorio (78)

(1st, L2) Valenciennes 0 - 0 Ajax (3rd, Eredivisie) AET
3 - 4 on penalties after 6 rounds (1-1, 1-1, 2-2, 2-3, 3-3, 3-4)

(11th, Belgian second tier) Mons 1 - 2 Valenciennes (1st, L2)
V Goal: Babovic (27)
M Goal: (44)
V Goal: Moreno (87)

Valenciennes Reserves 1 - 2 Valenciennes
V Goal: Bokoto (39)
VR Goal: Martineau (78)
V Goal: Alex (87)

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Valenciennes 2021/22 - DOING A LEICESTER?!

Did you hear the one about the manager who once lost to the Faroe Islands taking a recently promoted club to the top of a major league?

August to September 2021 - A Turning Point

Results
 

Spoiler

Ligue 1

(Predicted 14th) Valenciennes 3 - 1 Paris Saint-Germain (Pred. 4th)
V Goal: Bergougnoux (16)
PSG Red Cards: (17), (30)
V Goals: Bergougnoux (40), Éverton (70)

(Pred. 9th) Saint-Etienne 2 - 1 Valenciennes (Pred. 14th)
S-E Goal: (29)
V Goal: Bergougnoux (45)
S-E Goal: (78)

(Pred. 12th) Brest 1 - 0 Valenciennes (Pred. 14th)
B Goal: (19)
B Red Card: (53)

(Pred. 14th) Valenciennes 3 - 0 Auxerre (Pred. 11th)
V Goals: Bergougnoux (16), Alex (26, 33)

(Pred. 16th) Sochaux 0 - 0 Valenciennes (Pred. 14th)

(Pred. 14th) Valenciennes 2 - 1 Le Mans (Pred. 18th)
V Goal: Didot (14)
LM Goal: (46)
V Goal: Moreno (77)


Coupe de la Ligue - 2nd round

(12th, L2) Romorantin 1 - 1 Valenciennes (3rd, L2) AET (0-0 FT)
4-3 on penalties after 5 rounds (1-1, 1-1, 2-1, 3-2, 4-3)
V Goal: Didot (108)
R Goal: (120)


Ligue 1

(8th) Lille 4 - 3 Valenciennes (3rd) RIVALS
V Goals: Didot (2, 19), Own Goal (32)
L Goals: (43), (45+2, 54), (57)
V Red Card: Schmidt (77)

League Record: P7 W3 D1 L3 F12 A9 GD+3 CS2 PTS10
Position: 8th/20

Bad signs in our first 2 games despite an opening win. Every goal conceded came from a Sertic mistake - 3 mistakes and goals. There were also 3 injuries.

Cups were initially my priority, but we were knocked out of one immediately by a Ligue 2 side.

Then came the disastrous final game of this run, which would affect the whole season. Live on TV, 3-0 up after 32 minutes away to our rivals, and looking forward to giving praise to Didot in particular who now has 4 goals in his last 80 minutes of play time. We lose 4-3, go down to 10 men, and I took off new keeper Simantov who never appeared again for the club (as of writing).

There was an angry team talk and fines awaiting some players. In addition, the ENTIRE team (except Didot who scored twice and Bergougnoux who assisted both) were made available for the reserves match the next day, on the belief that they only played half an hour in this shitshow anyway. Everyone will be forced to travel to the reserve game, including myself.

But this result also caused a big tactical decision: to change from a 4-4-2 diamond formation to a narrow wingless 4-3-1-2, with two attacking central midfielders rampaging forward.

It was a Conte moment.

===============================================================================================


October to January 2022 - Topping The Table And Gaining Media Attention

Results
 

Spoiler

Ligue 2

(8th) Valenciennes 2 - 0 Créteil (9th)
V Goals: Didot (30), Alex (89)

(19th) Amiens 2 - 3 Valenciennes (2nd)
A Goals: (7), (18)
V Goals: Bergougnoux (31, 82), Babovic (52)

(2nd) Valenciennes 1 - 1 Lyon (14th)
L Goal: (pen 19)
V Goal: Bergougnoux (30)

(9th) Nice 1 - 3 Valenciennes (2nd)
N Goal: (13)
V Goals: Babovic (39), Scotto (64), Bergougnoux (79)

(1st) Valenciennes 2 - 0 Bastia (4th)
V Goals: Scotto (19), Babovic (30)

(3rd) Lens 1 - 1 Valenciennes (1st) RIVALS
L Goal: (26)
V Goal: Bergougnoux (64)
V Red Card: Monti (88)


(1st) Valenciennes 1 - 0 Monaco (7th)
V Goal: Pujol (10)

(11th) Nantes 1 - 0 Valenciennes (1st)
N Goal: Alic (5)


Coupe de France - 9th Round

(1st, L1) Valenciennes 2 - 0 Cannes (1st, L2)
V Goals: Tupalski (34), Ljajic (90)


Ligue 1

(4th) Rennes 0 - 0 Valenciennes (1st)
R Disallowed Goal: (37)

(1st) Valenciennes 2 - 0 Toulouse (3rd)
V Goals: Babovic (20), Didot (69)

(1st) Valenciennes 2 - 0 Laval (14th)
V Goals: Bokoto (13), Tupalski (68)
V Red Card: Janousek (87)

League Record: P11 W7 D3 L1 F19 A6 GD+13 CS6 PTS24
League Place: 1st/20, P18, PTS34

The 3 promoted teams occupied 1st, 2nd (us) and 4th at the start of this run. We soon topped the table (incredibly, the precise moment striker Alex chose to demand a transfer, wanting to move to a bigger club and win trophies) with several players in free-scoring and assisting form. We stayed top for 3 months, while playing exciting attacking football. The opposition would score 1, we'd score 2 or 3. We went on a 10-game scoring streak, soon followed by 7 clean sheets in 8 games.

The media and footballing world was abuzz, regularly asking if we could win the title. I always said we simply aim to win every game, and first priority was to be safe from relegation. I'd been expecting a pressure-free season, but secretly I now set my team title-winning standards, expecting a win every game.

Going into the winter break, the league table was topsy-turvy. We were top on goal difference, with fellow promoted sides Bastia and Brest in 3rd and 7th. Defending champions Lyon were 13th and last year's runner-up Marseille 16th. But only 10 points separated top and 17th.

I was runner-up for the French Manager of the Year award (not winner??) after topping the Ligue 2 and now Ligue 1 table.

With momentum full-steam ahead, the club started expanding into the American market, announcing a link with Western Mass Pioneers in the third tier of US soccer.

Transfers

Loanee Pujol's PSG contract expired at the end of the season, and he signed a deal with us to make him permanent in the summer after the Equatorial Guinea international had 4 assists and 1 goal in 12(2) games for us so far.

Star player Sorensen, enjoying a 7.40 average rating, had a £9m+ bid accepted by the chairman. However we also offered him a big new contract, the most we could offer. Sorensen chose to stay despite supposedly not being interested in a new contract. Money talks.

Meanwhile a new loan striker, Tupalski, scored, hit the post then assisted the other goal in an eager debut performance, despite being thrown in there as a lone striker for most of the match against Cannes. He scored again a few matches later.

And I finalised my biggest money signing: £2.4m for 20-year-old goalkeeper Solli, who was put straight in as our new #1. Against Toulouse he gave a 10/10 performance, stopping 9 shots on target and making double saves and stops from close range to keep a clean sheet.

===============================================================================================


January to April - Form Starts To Drop, But We Fight On

Results
 

Spoiler

Coupe de France - 10th Round

(5th tier) Blois 0 - 2 Valenciennes (1st, L1)
V Goals: Own Goal (8), Moreno (90+1)


Ligue 1

(12th) Marseille 4 - 0 Valenciennes (1st) RIVALS
M Goals: (pen 5), (22, 39, 58)

(1st) Valenciennes 0 - 0 Saint-Etienne (8th)


Coupe de France - 11th Round

(1st, L1) Valenciennes 1 - 0 Chateauroux (15th, L2)
V Goal: Alex (pen 63)


Ligue 1

(1st) Valenciennes 1 - 2 Brest (14th)
B Goal: (12)
V Goal: Bergougnoux (24)
B Goal: (26)
V Disallowed Goal: Bergougnoux (42)

(20th) Auxerre 1 - 2 Valenciennes (3rd)
V Sending Off: Janousek (7 seconds)
V Goal: Bergougnoux (12)
A Goal: (33)
V Goal: Bergougnoux (88)

(1st) Valenciennes 0 - 1 Sochaux (18th)
S Goal: (24)

(18th) Le Mans 2 - 1 Valenciennes (4th)
V Goal: Baherlé (28)
LM Goals: (pen 33), (65)


Coupe de France - Quarter-Finals

(3rd, L1) Toulouse 1 - 2 Valenciennes (5th, L1)
V Goal: Didot (24)
T Goal: (45+1)
V Goal: Own Goal (66)


Ligue 1

(5th) Valenciennes 1 - 0 Lille (6th) RIVALS
V Goal: Osorio (27)

(11th) Créteil 1 - 2 Valenciennes (3rd)
C Goal: (7)
V Goals: Bergougnoux (41), Didot (44)
C Missed Penalty: (76)
C Red Card: (86)

(2nd) Valenciennes 1 - 0 Amiens (19th)
V Goal: Janousek (pen 64)

(13th) Lyon 4 - 1 Valenciennes (3rd)
L Goal: (43 seconds)
V Red Card: Bokoto (29)
L Goal: (45+3)
V Goal: Bergougnoux (56)
L Goals: (pen 60), (89)

(3rd) Valenciennes 3 - 0 Nice (16th)
N Red Card: (8)
V Goals: Noto (12), Babovic (84), Bergougnoux (90+2)

League Record: P11 W5 D1 L5 F12 A13 GD-1 CS4 PTS16
League Place: 2nd/20, P29 PTS50

Suddenly we were struggling. Shots were going wildly off target, meaning we only beat a semi-professional 5th-tier side with an own goal and 92nd minute strike. Fouls were being given away to concede goals. Janousek got himself sent off in 7 seconds, though luckily we had the quality to win 10 v 11. And instructions were being ignored. All without a consistent goalkeeper.

The most frustrating match this season was the quarter-final against Toulouse. A header backwards gave a striker a free run at goal and an equaliser right before half-time. But we got our own luck with an own goal thanks to a 50 or 60-yard pass going to Didot, whose shot deflected over the keeper, and the ball was then touched in by a stumbling defender.

Valenciennes reached their first cup semi-final in decades, and luck of the draw saw us face, on neutral ground, the only Ligue 2 side remaining. A team who on the way have only beaten one Ligue 1 side (who are bottom). On penalties. But I see us throwing it away on current form.

We were less lucky against Lyon, who enjoyed a new manager bounce after Claude Puel was sacked and Rene Meulensteen was put in caretaker charge. We conceded in 43 seconds.

Loanee and future signing Pujol (who had 1 assist every 3 games at this point) was injured in the last match of this run, and out for the rest of the season. Without his quiet and effective assists in the middle, on top of everything else going on, things looked bleak.

==============================================================================


April to May - Lurching To The Finish Line...

Results
 

Spoiler

Ligue 1

(15th) Bastia 0 - 0 Valenciennes (2nd)


Coupe de France, Semi-Final (Stade Saint-Symphorien, Metz)

(11th, L2) Besancon 1 - 0 Valenciennes (2nd, L1) AET
B Goal: (116)


Ligue 1

(2nd) Valenciennes 1 - 2 Lens (1st) RIVALS
V Goal: Didot (45)
L Goals: (76), (90)

(7th) Monaco 1 - 1 Valenciennes (3rd)
V Goal: Bergougnoux (10)
M Goal: (34)

(3rd) Valenciennes 1 - 0 Nantes (11th)
V Goal: Scotto (45+4)
V Second Yellow: Monti (89)

(16th) Laval 1 - 0 Valenciennes (2nd)
L Goal: (85)

League Record: P5 W1 D2 L2 F3 A4 GD-1 CS2 PTS5

Only 1 shot on target (out of 15 total shots) in the first game of this run. Now players like Didot are missing horrendous chances. Clear-cut, 1-on-1, a few centimetres from goal, they all go flying over or wide. No one else but Bergougnoux is really scoring.

poznan.gif?w=580

Then I'm approached by Lech Poznan, the defending Polish champions looking to salvage their season. Could you imagine Ranieri leaving Leicester with 8 games left (and a cup semi-final to play) to join a Polish club? For the first time, my name is linked to a vacancy: top-half side Saint-Etienne.

In the cup semi-final, despite a positive reaction to the half-time and full-time team talks, the players shuffled toward penalties, only to let in a random extra-time goal. We only had 1 or 2 chance. We were knocked out of the cup at the final hurdle by Ligue 2 Besancon with their only shot on target.

Players start bottling it mentally, and don't want to hear any positive talk about results. The suggestion we could beat leaders Lens, a team we dominated away, caused morale to drop further. Didot finally got a shot on target and thus scored, but I remark "it doesn't matter". In the 90th minute, the opposition player danced around his marker and scored with the ease and joy of a chav assaulting a disabled person.

On this form, the league title looked unlikely. 5 points behind the leaders, and only 9 points separating 2nd and 14th. 2nd, 3rd (us) and 4th all had the same points too.

In the next match, despite it not being windy, several shots were so bad they went flying over the area and over to the opposite flank, sometimes for a throw-in. If this was a video game, I would say it was either bugging out or being dodgy.

We hung for dear life at home to a wasteful Nantes side, who were getting chances against a burnt-out Valenciennes. Scotto was kept on despite an early knock, and he scored the winner.

The curse of the TV match continued: only 1 win in 7 live matches this season, including losing after taking a 3-0 lead in half an hour.

==============================================================================


May 2022 - The Final Run-In

Our final games were up against direct rivals. We could either steam ahead into the Champions League places... or choke and fall out of Europe, extinguishing the final dream.

League Table (4 games to go)
Lens - 62
Toulouse - 56
Valenciennes - 55
---------------------------
Rennes - 53


(3rd) Valenciennes 0 - 0 Rennes (4th)

More shots cleared off the line. More shots blocked. More hesitation. More awful shots. Our luck bundling in fluke goals has now run dry as well.

Thankfully, Lille won both cups. So 4th and now 5th too are both Europa League spots, while 6th is Intertoto Cup.

League Table (3 games to go)
Lens - 63
Toulouse - 57
Valenciennes - 56
---------------------------
Marseille - 54
Rennes - 54


(2nd) Toulouse 2 - 0 Valenciennes (4th)
T Goals: (5), (18)

The players completely ignored instructions. I said keep it on the ground at all costs, because they're strong in the air... so they hit it long all game. Sorensen rallied the troops, talking of winning the title and calling for a win. And this is the response, to a side who hadn't conceded in 5 games, but had only scored 1 goal in 4 games.

League Table (2 games to go)
Lens - 66
Toulouse - 60
Marseille - 57
-------------------------
Rennes - 57
Valenciennes - 56
-------------------------
Monaco - 54


(5th) Valenciennes 2 - 1 Marseille (3rd) RIVALS
V Goals: Bergougnoux (12 seconds, 54)
M Red Card: (73)
M Goal: (76)

Incredibly, Rennes lost to the bottom club and Toulouse only drew. Meaning, if other results went our way on the final week, we'd be in the Champions League.

League Table (1 game to go)
Lens - 67
Toulouse - 61 (+15 GD)
Valenciennes - 59 (+9)
Marseille - 57 (+11)
Rennes - 57 (+4)


(9th) Paris Saint-Germain 1 - 0 Valenciennes (3rd)
PSG Goal: (39)
V Red Card: Sertic (63)

Yet another red card from yet another two-footed challenge. What is wrong with this lot? A set-piece is the only goal, but ultimately the result wouldn't have changed anything (unless we won).

I wondered, when we threw away the 3-0 lead to lose 4-3, whether the loss to rivals Lille would have great consequences. It did. Marseille and Rennes both won, meaning we dropped to 5th, 1 point from the Champions League.

But thanks to rivals Lille winning both cups, one extra Europa League place goes to the league.

Valenciennes have qualified for Europe for the first time ever.

A journalist asks if I'm disappointed we dropped and didn't win the title in what may have been our only chance.

"Valenciennes are in Europe! We are in Europa League man, come on!"

Final League Table
1 - Lens - 68pts
2 - Toulouse - 62
3 - Marseille - 60 (+13 GD)
---------------------------------------
4 - Rennes - 60 (+5 GD)
5 - Valenciennes - 59
---------------------------------------
6 - Monaco - 56

Final League Record: P38 W17 D8 L13 F46 A38 GD+8 CS15

uH0zjeW.png

Bergougnoux was the league's top scorer with 18 goals, also a club record for league goals in a season. He was also the Valenciennes' Fans' Player of the Season.

Loanee Pujol, who will become a permanent member of the team in the summer, had the league's joint-most assists with 8. He was greatly missed and was one of the differences between getting Champions League and Europa League football.

Lille's second goal in the 4-3 comeback won goal of the season, but Babovic came 3rd with his opener in the 2-0 home win over Toulouse.

Among other unlikely wins, this season saw our first wins over Le Mans (in 90 minutes) in 14 meetings and 8 seasons, Amiens in 8 meetings / 6 seasons, and PSG in 4 seasons.

Thanks to a bigger squad meaning playing unused players in the reserves, our reserve team (which finished 13th last season) won their first ever title with 4 games to spare (4 points for a win in this league). They finished the season with 118 points and only 18 goals conceded in 34 matches.

It should go without saying the board and fans are delighted.

Ironically, players who left us to join a bigger club last season are now wanting to move on from their current club for the same reason, and are open to rejoining us. Our sale of bright young keeper Guimard worked out for us, as he was labelled '2nd-worst signing of the season'.

Monaco win 'overachievers of the season', as a team predicted bottom finishing one place under us.


Overview

A 5th place finish and a cup semi-final is a huge achievement for a recently relegated and promoted club who had usually been midtable. Yet it was still underachieving as the club was top for 2 months. Had the form after the winter break matched the form before the winter break, the team could be League & Cup double winners now.

The lack of a consistent #1 cost us greater glory and history. 4 goalkeepers had inconsistent runs in the team.

But we would be at the bottom end of the table if it wasn't for youth products Bergougnoux and Didot getting 25 league goals between them.

Teams were dominated by a 4-3-1-2 system, with the outside central-midfielders rampaging forward, leading to the defence having to deal with 5 attackers in the middle of the pitch. But having wingers in Ljajic and Scotto allowed a plan B with wingers. At times there was a beautiful passing game and movement, not unlike 'total football'.

I have one year left on my contract and don't plan to stay. I can move on to bigger, richer clubs. Valenciennes is a small place, and the money isn't big, this season was a one-off. Either I leave after experiencing next season in Europe, or a vacancy takes me early.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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2021/22 Recap - Club Football

Biggest Transfers
Pablo De la Pena (DC/DM/MC, Spanish, 23) - Bayern Munich to AC Milan - £38m
Martin Stanner (AMR, Czech, 27) - Bayern Munich to Arsenal - £25.5m
Cornel Ionescu (WB/M/AMR, Romanian, 25) - Arsenal to Inter Milan - £25m
Christian Deville (AMC/ST, Luxembourger, 26) - Valencia to Arsenal - £24.5m
Frank Beyer (MC, German, 24) - Real Betis to Bayern Munich - £23.5m
Olexiy Zhuk (D/MRLC/DM, Ukrainian, 23) - Juventus to Bayern Munich - £23m
Kevin Brown (M/AMR, Scottish, 27) - Arsenal to Lazio - £22m

AC Milan become the first team other than Inter Milan to spend a **** load on one player since Zidane's record-breaking transfer.

FIFA World Player of the Year

Real Madrid's France striker Sekou Fofana won World Player of the Year. He had 20 goals and 9 assists in the 23 games so far in the season, average rating of 7.65.

Newcastle United's England striker Andy Lawrence and Arsenal's German attacker Manfred Seitz came 2nd and 3rd.

Between the 3 of them there are 57 goals and 42 assists in 83 club and international games in half a season.


Champions League

Champions-League.jpg

José Manuel de la Torre's AC Milan scraped back to the top after beating surprise finalists Abel Resino's Atlético Madrid 2-1 in a penalty shootout. It's their 3rd Champions League trophy in 6 years.

In the semis, Atlético themselves beat surprise semi-finalists on penalties: Pep Guardiola's Real Betis. Newcastle United were denied two Champions Leagues in a row with a 1-0 aggregate loss to Milan.


England

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Premier League

We may be entering the Newcastle United era. With Arsenal faltering, and despite a resurgence from Man Utd, Sir Steve McClaren's Champions League winners successfully defended their title with a record-equalling 95 points, +60 goal difference, only 1 loss and 17 goals conceded, staying top for all but 2 games.

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After years of inconsistent glory under Roy Keane, Man Utd suddenly were challengers for the title under new manager Neil Banfield, with an almost equally mean finish of 19 goals conceded, +42 goal difference, and 3 losses, but still finishing 8 points behind the champions.

Michael Laudrup's Arsenal theoretically bounced back after finishing a disastrous 4th last season by finishing 3rd this season, yet still a whopping 24 points behind Newcastle.

Yo-yo club and newly promoted Leicester City finished 7th and in the Euro Vase under Tom Bramble.

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With manager Peter Beardsley leaving newly promoted Everton to manage Koln, Aston Villa youth coach John Terry entered management. But he was unable to stop them getting relegated straight back down in a tight relegation battle.

F. A. Cup

Newcastle United won the double by beating José Mourinho's Chelsea 3-1 after going behind.

Chelsea needed penalties to beat Peter Carroll's Charlton Athletic in the semi-finals, a Championship side that were in League Two 4 years ago.

Football League and Non-League

Charlton Athletic finished 2nd to reach the Premier League after 15 years away, an experience that saw them go all the way down to League Two, before 3 promotions in 5 seasons, all under manager Peter Carroll, suddenly brought them back to the top tier. Carroll retires and is replaced with Dominic Kinnear in his first management job outside the MLS.

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Woking reached the Championship for the first time ever. Glenn Cockerill has been manager for 20 YEARS. In that time he's taking the club from bottom of the Conference to 2nd in League One.

Meanwhile, Sunderland were comfortably relegated to League Two for the first time in their long history.

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Phil Neville's 7.5 years at Conference North side Northwich Victoria (6.5 as assistant manager, 1 as manager) ended with the sack with the team in the relegation zone. They eventually survived by 2 points.

Newcastle United's Premier League-winning legend Steven Taylor entered management with AFC Wimbledon in the Conference South.


Portugal

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The Primeira Liga has only been won 3 times by teams that weren't Porto, Benfica or Sporting (Belenenses in 1946, Boavista in 2001,  Vitória de Guimaraes in 2020). That was set to change as Naval hosted Esporte Clube Vitória in a winner-takes-all match (Porto might've been in contention, but they lost anyway and finished 3rd). Naval won 2-1 to lift their first ever Primeira Liga title.


Netherlands

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In a dramatic and historic season, 3 teams battled it out on the final day for the title, and none of them were PSV, Ajax or Feyenoord. It was guaranteed the league winner would be the first since 1981, and second since 1964, to break the Big 3 dominance of the title.

1st-placed Vitesse (managed by Petr Katchouro) hosted 3rd-placed NAC Breda (Moshe Sinay) with both sides needing to win, though Vitesse could draw if Heerenveen (Marco van Hoogdalem) didn't win their must-win game.

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Vitesse and Breda drew 0-0, while Heerenveen took a 2-0 lead within an hour. But Heerenveen threw it away, the match finishing 2-2, and Vitesse lifted their first ever Eredivisie title.

Ajax finished way down in 12th, sacking manager Fred Rutten and replacing him with Paul Trollope. Meanwhile, Gareth Southgate takes charge at Feyenoord.


Italy

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AC Milan and Inter Milan occupied the top 2 again, AC Milan winning their second title in a row and the city of Milan's 15th title in a row.

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Gianluigi Buffon left his role as youth coach at AC Milan to enter management with Serie B's Mantova in February, ironically starting a run of only 1 clean sheet in 14 matches. They finished in the playoff places and won promotion straight back to Serie A after going 4-1 down on aggregate in the final to draw 4-4.


Spain

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Atlético Madrid won back-to-back league titles for the first time since 1951.


Scotland

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It was a nostalgic season, reminding fans of how it used to be before Hearts and Dundee United came along.

In Ivan Hasek's first full season in charge, Rangers comfortably won their first title in 14 years.

Dan Petrescu turned Celtic around, finishing 2nd and winning the Scottish Cup (their first in 11 years). This is the first time Rangers and Celtic have finished in the top 2 in 13 years.


France

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Possibly due to the recent match-fixing scandal removing corruption from the game, the season was completely topsy-turvy.

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Lens ultimately won their third title in 5 seasons after new manager Yvon Pouliquen came in February and the team hit a run of form that saw them reach and stay top.

The newly promoted clubs impressed, being at the top end of the table for half a season before eventually finishing in the bottom half.

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Except Valenciennes who, after the scandal unfairly relegated them 2 seasons ago, and after decimating Ligue 2 to win promotion for this season, topped the table as they plowed through the league. While they also fell away in the second half of the season, it wasn't by as much, and they eventually finished 5th, qualifying for Europe for the first time ever.


Elsewhere

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Nemanja Vidic left his assistant manager role at Russian second-tier side Spartak Nalchik to enter management with Northern Irish Premiership side Linfield.

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Former Brazil international and Real Madrid, Barcelona and Arsenal attacker Júlio Baptista began his management career with South Africa's Nathi Lions.

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German defender and Euro 2012 winner Roberth Huth entered management with Union Berlin in the German 3rd tier.

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Eduardo, who was my former coach at Young Boys, and got promoted by and then sacked by the club, starts again way down in the 3rd tier of German football with SV Eintracht Trier 05.

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2021/22 International Football Recap

Italy 2022 World Cup Qualification

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UEFA

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It was probably the closest ever UEFA qualifying section. On the final day, most groups had all but the bottom team still vying for the top 2, with some massive final games.

Group 1
Ukraine - 23
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Scotland - 21
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Sweden - 19
Kazakhstan - 18
Northern Ireland - 15
Slovenia - 15*
Luxembourg - 2
*Head-To-Head: Northern Ireland 2 - 1 Slovenia

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Iain Dowie's reign over new Euro 2020 champions Northern Ireland started poorly. He began with a home draw with Luxembourg followed by a loss in Kazakhstan. It's impossible to follow winning Euro 2020, but even before that Northern Ireland had at least been in touching distance of the playoffs, never mind in a relatively weak group like this one.

A strong Kazakh campaign ended with victory over already-qualified Ukraine.

Group 2
France - 30
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Bulgaria - 24
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Republic of Ireland - 22
Israel - 21
Azerbaijan - 11
Iceland - 10
Andorra - 0

France qualified unbeaten after missing out 4 years ago, only conceding 3 goals.

Group 3
Spain - 24*
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Norway - 24*
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Macedonia - 22
Romania - 21
Georgia - 17
San Marino - 5
Estonia - 1
*H2H: Spain 2 - 2 Norway. Goal difference: Spain +16, Norway +7

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Spain qualified for their first tournament since 2014, on goal difference.

Group 4
England - 30
Denmark - 25

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Russia - 22
Bosnia & Herzegovina - 18
Wales - 16
Armenia - 7
Liechtenstein - 0

England also only conceded 3 goals.

Denmark also qualified, as one of best runner-ups.

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Chris Coleman's first campaign as Wales boss was poor. A side that regularly qualifies for the Euros and is always in the mix, after a good Euro 2020 as well, finished 7 points behind a playoff place.

Group 5
Germany - 21
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Slovakia - 17
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Lithuania - 16
Turkey - 13
Greece - 12
Moldova - 2

No slip-ups from Germany this time, after failing to make it for 2018.

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A stoppage-time winner at home to Turkey on the final day saw Slovakia squeak into the playoffs ahead of them and Lithuania.

Group 6
Serbia - 20
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Portugal - 18
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Hungary - 17
Cyprus - 14
Croatia - 8
Belarus - 6

Portugal, top of the group and having constantly failed to qualify for any tournament since 2010, needed just a draw at home to Serbia. Portugal took the lead in just 25 seconds. They lost 2-1. Serbia qualified instead.

Croatia needed a win at home to Belarus on the final day to avoid finishing bottom.

Group 7
Poland - 16
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Albania - 14*
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Austria - 14*
Netherlands - 13
Montenegro - 12
Malta - 8
*H2H: Albania 4 - 2 Austria

Albania are a playoff away from qualifying for their first ever tournament.

The last World Cup's runner-up Austria miss out via head-to-head record.

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Frank Rijkaard's Netherlands failed to qualify for a tournament for the first time in two decades, while Malta took 4 points off them with a historic win in Amsterdam.

Group 8
Czech Republic - 19*
Belgium - 19*

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Finland - 16
Switzerland - 14
Latvia - 9
Faroe Islands - 4
*H2H: Czech Republic 1 - 0 Belgium

Czech Republic beat Belgium at home but both teams qualified, Belgium as best runner-up. Both of them only conceded 3 goals all campaign.

Euro 2020 runner-up Switzerland weren't even in the running on the final day.

Playoffs (aggregate)

Albania 1 - 2 Slovakia
Bulgaria 1 - 0 Portugal
Norway 0 - 0 Scotland (AET)
2-3 on penalties after 5 rounds (0-0, 0-1, 1-1, 2-2, 2-3)

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Slovakia qualify for their first ever tournament.


CAF

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Gabon qualified for their first ever World Cup.

Algeria and Nigeria stormed through qualifying unbeaten, while South Africa won all 10 of their games.

Morocco impressively topped a group of death involving African champions Egypt, Ghana, Tunisia, Senegal and Mali to qualify for their first World Cup in 24 years. Senegal and Egypt also make the 2022 African Cup of Nations.

Mozambique qualified for their first African Cup of Nations in 24 years thanks to a better head to head record than Burkina Faso.


CONCACAF

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Round 2

It was a week that promised some of the biggest shocks in footballing history if the big guns didn't do the job.

The most dramatic of the second legs (but only just) was the freefalling USA vs Nicaragua. Nicaragua had got a 1-1 draw at home, thanks to star striker and Maradona-esque dribbler Martinez. Martinez shone again in America, giving his country the shock lead before nearly scoring again twice after more entertaining runs. America equalised, and in the final minutes the ball was cleared off the line at both ends. It went to penalties and, despite missing first, USA avoided the worst result and qualifying performance in their history. Many American fans believe the coach should be sacked anyway.

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But upset of the round, and another to add to footballing history, was provided by Turks & Caicos Islands. After losing 2-1 away, Costa Rica thought they'd rescued the tie with a 78th minute goal at home that would see them go through on away goals. But a last-second free kick on the edge of the area for shirt-pulling gave T&C a gigantic shock win over the surprise Gold Cup winners.

CONCACAF's #2 side Canada were dominated in Bermuda but it ended 0-0. They were in control in the second leg but missed 2 penalties before scoring a late goal to only win 1-0.

Netherlands Antilles beat Trinidad & Tobago 2-0 in the home leg, but lost the second leg 5-0.

Round 3

Anguilla reached their second Hexagonal in a row.

Panama beat Canada with a winner in the 88th minute of the final day to go through instead of them.

Hexagonal

Mexico topped the 6-team group for the 4th time in a row.

U. S. A.'s recovery continued as they finished second to qualify for the first time since 2010.

On the final day, 3 teams battled for 1 qualification spot and 1 playoff spot. Honduras qualified for their first World Cup since their debut in 1982. Anguilla's dream continues to be possible as they reached the playoff, Panama missing out on head-to-head record.

Hexagonal Group
Mexico - 23
U. S. A. - 16
Honduras - 14

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Anguilla - 11*
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Panama - 11*
Guatemala - 7

*Head-to-Head: Anguilla 2 - 1 Panama


CONMEBOL

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Brazil - 43
Colombia - 31
Bolivia - 30
Argentina - 29

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Peru - 26
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Uruguay - 23
Paraguay - 20
Ecuador - 20
Venezuela - 15
Chile - 11

Brazil incredibly only conceded 4 goals in 18 games.

Bolivia's golden generation qualified again, with a game to spare.

Back-to-back World Cup winners Argentina almost didn't make it and needed a win on the final day to qualify.

Chile are in complete crisis.

CONCACAF - CONMEBOL Playoff (aggregate)

Anguilla 1 - 3 Peru


AFC

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Round 2

Asian champions South Korea failed to even make the final group stage of qualifying, with Malaysia (who have failed at the Asian playoff stage two qualifying campaigns in a row) taking their place thanks to a superior head-to-head record.

China looked set to be the next Asian superpower up until a few years ago, and they failed to make the final group stage for the second time in a row, finishing behind Jordan and Vietnam.

A stoppage time goal stopped Indonesia making a shock appearance in the final group stage, and it's the ever impressive Macau who will hope to make it 2 World Cup appearances in a row.

Round 3

Saudi Arabia produced a big performance to beat the already-qualified Australia in Adelaide to qualify themselves.

Both groups saw winner-takes-all matches between 3rd and 4th for the playoff spots.

Group A
Saudi Arabia - 11
Australia - 10

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Jordan - 9
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Macau - 4

Group B
Iran - 13*
Japan - 13*

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Kuwait - 6
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Malaysia - 3

*H2H: Iran 3 - 2 Japan

AFC Playoff (aggregate)
Jordan 4 - 3 Kuwait

Jordan go on to face the winner of the OFC region.


OFC

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Playoff (aggregate)

New Zealand 4 - 0 Fiji

AFC-OFC playoff (aggregate)

Jordan 3 - 1 New Zealand

The 2018 World Cup quarter-finalists qualify.


Ghana 2022 Africa Cup of Nations

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Former international Neil Tovey led South Africa to their first trophy in 26 years. They beat the hosts 1-0 in the final after beating defending champions Egypt 3-0 in the semis after just half an hour, keeping a clean sheet in 5 of their 6 matches.

A change in manager to former international Abubakari Yakubu after failing to qualify for the World Cup was the right choice, as Ghana reached their first final in 40 years.

Nigeria sacked their manager, 50-cap Samson Siasia, before the World Cup despite an unbeaten campaign, after his team finished bottom of their AFCON group.

Mozambique managed 2 impressive draws, against Gabon and hosts Ghana.


2022 OFC Nations Cup

After a first leg that saw only 1 shot (and it wasn't even on target), New Zealand needed an 80th minute winner to stop Fiji becoming the first team other than Australia and NZ to win 2 Cups in a row.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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Italy 2022 World Cup

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Favourites are back-to-back winners Argentina, in what must be the last World Cup of the golden generation. But expect a challenge from 2018 semi-finalists England and the incredibly in-form Brazil, who got 6 points off Argentina in qualifying. Hosts Italy can stumble their way to the quarters and beyond again.


Group A

Argentina - Back-to-back defending champions
Mexico
Morocco - First World Cup in 24 years
Slovakia - Tournament debut

Argentina 2 - 0 Morocco
Morocco only had 1 shot, off-target.

Mexico 1 - 3 Slovakia
An early red card helps Slovakia to a shock debut win over the regulars.

Slovakia 0 - 0 Argentina
What a huge result for Slovakia in an even match.

Morocco 1 - 0 Mexico
Mexico flop again, in a match with only 1 shot on target each. Mexico are out already.

Morocco 1 - 0 Slovakia

Mexico 1 - 0 Argentina

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Morocco - 6
Slovakia - 4 (+1 GD, 3 GS)

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Argentina - 4 (+1 GD, 2 GS)
Mexico - 3

No ****ing way! A shock loss to Mexico knocks back-to-back champions Argentina out, with the two newbies going through.

We're going to have new champions.


Group B

Bolivia - 2018 second round
Scotland - Still no wins in a World Cup since 1990
Gabon - World Cup debut
Ukraine

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Ukraine 0 - 1 Scotland
And just like that, Scotland FINALLY get a win.

Gabon 0 - 1 Bolivia

Bolivia 1 - 1 Ukraine

Scotland 2 - 2 Gabon
Scotland let a 2-goal lead slip.

Ukraine 2 - 0 Gabon
Ukraine win their must-win game easily.

Scotland 0 - 0 Bolivia
Both teams only needed a draw, leading to the inevitable 0-0 that sees both teams through. Scotland have got rid of the hoodoo!

Scotland - 5 (+1 GD, 3 GS)
Bolivia - 5 (+1 GD, 2 GS)

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Ukraine - 4
Gabon - 1

Scotland break their tournament winless curse by suddenly reaching the knockout stage of Euro 2020 and now the World Cup.


Group C

England - 2018 semi-finalists
South Africa
Iran
Bulgaria

England 2 - 0 Iran
England could only break through Iran with 2 set pieces, in an otherwise even and uneventful match.

South Africa 2 - 1 Bulgaria
A last-minute goal decides it.

England 0 - 0 South Africa

Iran 3 - 0 Bulgaria
Only wastefulness stops Iran getting a much bigger win, but 3-0 is their biggest ever at a World Cup and knocks out Bulgaria.

Bulgaria 0 - 0 England
England dominated but couldn't break through. They only needed the draw though.

South Africa 1 - 0 Iran
A set-piece decided the winner-takes-all match.

South Africa - 7
England - 5
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Iran - 3
Bulgaria - 1


Group D

Italy - Hosts
Jordan - 2018 quarter-finalists
Denmark
Colombia

Italy 2 - 0 Denmark

Jordan 0 - 2 Colombia

Italy 1 - 1 Colombia

Denmark 3 - 0 Jordan
An incredible 5-minute hat-trick either side of half time by AC Milan's attacking midfielder Mads Serup knocks out Jordan.

Italy 2 - 0 Jordan

Denmark 1 - 0 Colombia
A last second winner from Andreas Laudrup, son of Michael, took Denmark 2nd and Colombia out.

Italy - 7
Denmark - 6

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Colombia - 4
Jordan - 0

England and the hosts will meet in the next round, as two favourites collide.


Group E

Germany
Nigeria
Belgium
U.S.A. - First World Cup in 12 years

USA 0 - 1 Belgium
An own goal gives Belgium the win, despite 0 shots on target.

Germany 1 - 0 Nigeria

Nigeria 1 - 1 USA
Freddy Adu takes 1 minute to score, but it's not enough for 3 points.

Belgium 2 - 0 Germany
Belgium are the first team to make the knockout round.

Nigeria 1 - 0 Belgium
A surprise win means Nigeria need America to draw with Germany.

Germany 1 - 0 USA
But Germany go through instead.

Belgium - 6 (+2 GD)
Germany - 6 (0 GD)

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Nigeria - 4
USA - 1


Group F

Algeria - 2020 AFCON runner-up
Serbia
Czech Republic
Japan - First World Cup in 16 years

Czech Republic 3 - 0 Japan

Algeria 0 - 0 Serbia

Serbia 2 - 0 Czech Republic
Despite a sending off, Serbia win quite comfortably.

Japan 0 - 1 Algeria
Despite dominating, Japan lose and are eliminated.

Japan 0 - 0 Serbia
A draw sees Serbia through.

Czech Republic 0 - 0 Algeria
Despite a red card, 41% possession and 1 shot (off-target), Algeria hung on for the point that saw them go through over the Czechs.

Serbia - 5 (+2 GD)
Algeria - 5 (+1 GD)

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Czech Republic - 4
Japan - 1


Group G

France - Euro 2020 semi-finalists
Saudi Arabia - 2018 quarter-finalists
Poland
Peru

France 0 - 1 Poland

Peru 1 - 0 Saudi Arabia
Only one shot on target each.

Poland 1 - 1 Peru

Saudi Arabia 1 - 1 France

Saudi Arabia 1 - 0 Poland
Saudi Arabia get the win despite a late sending off and missing a penalty.

Peru 1 - 2 France
A 90th-minute penalty gives France the vital win.

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France - 4 (0 GD, 3 GS)*
Peru - 4 (0 GD, 3 GS)*

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Saudi Arabia - 4 (0 GD, 2GS)**
Poland - 4 (0 GD, 2GS)**

*Head-To-Head Record: France 2 - 1 Peru
**H2H: Saudi Arabia 1 - 0 Poland

Group G became the tightest group in World Cup history. Every team finished on 4 points with 0 goal difference, thanks in part to one missed penalty, a scored 90th-minute penaltyin the other game, and a red card involved to boot.

France and Peru qualify, both with 3 goals scored, compared to Poland and Saudi Arabia's 2 goals.


Group H

Brazil - 2018 semi-finalists conceding 0 goals, 2019 Copa América runner-up, 1 loss in 18 qualifiers
Spain - First tournament in 8 years
Australia
Honduras - First World Cup in 40 years

Spain 1 - 1 Brazil
No clean sheet run in this World Cup for Brazil.

Australia 2 - 0 Honduras

Honduras 0 - 1 Brazil
Honduras are out.

Australia 1 - 0 Spain
Australia become the second team in the tournament to reach the knockouts.

Spain 3 - 0 Honduras
Spain do their job and wait on the other result.

Brazil 0 - 0 Australia
Brazil get the draw they need in a drab match to join Australia.

Australia -7
Brazil - 5

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Spain - 4
Honduras - 0


Second Round

The way the groups have played out mean we're already guaranteed one minor team in the final. Will it be 4 finals in a row where a South American giant beats a smaller European country?

Bolivia 1 - 0 Morocco
Bolivia will improve on their record finish in the last World Cup.

Italy 1 - 0 England
A dire first half saw 0 shots on target, as England 'dominated' but couldn't test the keeper. In the second half, Italy got a couple of shots, scoring in stoppage time to break English hearts in the San Siro. Well...

 

Germany 2 - 1 Serbia
Germany come from behind to go further than they have in the World Cup since hosting in 2006.

France 1 - 0 Brazil
An exciting end-to-end attacking match saw another big favourite eliminated after missing a sitter to equalise.

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Slovakia 1 - 1 Scotland AET (0-0 FT)
3-4 on penalties after 6 rounds (1-0, 1-0, 2-1, 3-2, 3-3, 3-4)
Scotland came from behind in the game and in the shootout to reach heady heights, and out-perform England (who didnae qualify for the quarters)!

South Africa 2 - 0 Denmark
An own goal, an 89th minute goal and a missed South African penalty in stoppage time made for an entertaining match... for one country anyway.

Belgium 2 - 1 Algeria

Peru 0 - 0 Australia AET
1-3 on penalties after 4.5 rounds (1-1, 1-2, 1-2, 1-2, 1-3)
Peru dominated but didn't get the job done.


Quarter-Finals

Italy 0 - 0 Bolivia AET
3-1 on penalties after 4 rounds (0-0, 0-1, 1-2, 1-3)
A drab match between Bolivia's golden generation and the hosts.

Germany 0 - 0 France AET
4-2 on penalties after 4 rounds (1-1, 2-2, 3-2, 4-2)
The Germans score all their penalties (of course), while France fail to get a shot on target.

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Scotland 1 - 0 South Africa
South Africa go further than ever, but it's Scotland whose story continues.

Belgium 3 - 0 Australia
Australia achieve a best ever finish

For the first time in 16 years, the final will have no South American teams and be between two European sides.


Semi-Finals

Italy 2 - 0 Germany
Germany are easily beaten with a corner and a penalty from the hosts. But it's still a return to past greatness for the Germans, with their best World Cup performance in 16 years.

Scotland 2 - 0 Belgium
A calm and controlled display. After failing to get a goal never mind a win in tournaments past, Scotland are in the World Cup final.


Third-Place Playoff

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Germany 0 - 1 Belgium
Belgium better their 1984 fourth-place finish


Italia 2022 World Cup Final

Italy.jpg  V Scotland.jpg

Italy v Scotland

History

For the first time since 2006, the World Cup final won't be contested by a South American and a European team. But for the third time in a row, it will be between a traditionally big and small team.

It's the first time the hosts have reached the final since France '98.

Hosts Italy have won the World Cup 4 times and are consistent in this tournament. They've reached at least the quarter-finals every time since 1986, excluding South Korea in 2002 which may or may not have been rigged.

Scotland had never even got out of the group stages of a tournament until co-hosting Euro 2020. They had only scored 1 World Cup goal since 1998 and hadn't won a single game since Italia '90.

Form

Italy got 7 points in the group stage before beating England and Germany, though needed penalties against a tricky Bolivia side. They've only conceded 1 goal in their 6 games.

Scotland have drawn 3 of their 6 matches, but won their last 2.

Italy have only lost 1 in 12 meetings with Scotland (in Glasgow in 1965) and won all 6 home encounters, only conceding 1 goal.

Managers

Italy made the incredibly rare decision to hire foreign after a poor Euro 2020. Xavi Juliá had managed his nation Spain as hosts of 2014, but they didn't even get out of their group. He coached a few clubs in Spain's La Liga before getting the Italy job.

Scotland's Mike Richardson is now a legend at only 39 years old. His first and only other job was with Arbroath in the Scottish League Two (the 4th tier). He was only there for just over a year, doing nothing of note and winning, drawing and losing nearly the exact same amount of games, before Scotland hired him. (Though attributes-wise, he's one of the best coaches around.)

Team News

Italy have 1 underperforming regular out injured.

Scotland's left-winger and backup keeper are out injured.

Scotland's right-winger Kevin Brown needs one more goal to win the Golden Boot with at least 4 goals and 1 assist. Striker/left-winger Ronnie Allen needs a hat-trick, or 2 plus an assist or two.

No player in the Italian squad has more than one goal, but striker Andrea Passiglia also tops the assist chart currently with 3.

Both teams play a flat 4-4-2. Italy will look to take the initiative in the San Siro, while Scotland will be more conservative, and if all goes well by half-time they'll change to a 5-4-1 diamond - the only games Scotland have won have been while using this gameplan.

Italy: Fiumi (AC Milan); La Cava (c) (Inter Milan), Di Vito (Torino), Roscioli (AC Milan), De Siato (Newcastle United); Luciani (Sampdoria), Cucchi (Inter Milan), Furlan (Napoli), De Agostini (Real Madrid); Passiglia (Newcastle United), Capovilla (Torino) - 8 Serie A, 2 Premier League, 1 La Liga

Scotland: Cochrane (Sheffield United); MacKenzie (Man City), McGovern (Man City), Scott (Middlesbrough), Carlo Monti (Coventry); Brown (Lazio), King (c) (Man Utd), MacMillan (West Ham), Ferrie (Reading); Davidson (Sheffield Wednesday), Allan (Real Betis) - 9 Premier League, 1 Serie A, 1 La Liga


First Half

A couple of scares for Scotland, but it's an uneventful first half.

Half Time

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Scotland make two substitutions: in a Graham Taylor-esque move, the star multi-million-pound player, leading scorer looking for the golden boot, and only guy who plays in Serie A against most of their opponents, is subbed off. Davidson, a striker with 0 goals in 5 games now, comes off too.

A player carrying an injury is one of those brought on.

Scotland change formation to the narrow 5-4-1.

Will it be a stroke of genius or complete madness?

Second Half

Italy fail to have any shots, even from set pieces, and they suspect they're playing into Scotland's hands. Italy hang back a little while Scotland make their final substitution on the hour, taking off a booked player like-for-like.

From a goal kick, out of nowhere, Ronnie Allan knocks it on to the new substitute (Napoli's Paul Gordon), who dribbles quickly into the area and shoots past the keeper! 1-0!

nintchdbpict000311746468.jpg?strip=all&w

Italy make 3 like-for-like substitutions over the next 10 minutes. Do they not have a plan B? An upset is on the cards!

The confusingly named Scot called Carlo Monti, already booked, makes a foul on the 86th minute, but is let off by the referee. The resulting Italian free kick is immediately called for offside. Wasteful.

Scotland are too good in the air. Every set piece and cross is getting headered away, punched or caught. Meanwhile Scotland have a couple of chances to double their lead and finish them off.

But it doesn't matter! Scotland deal with the hosts! They've won the World Cup! Tactical genius! Someone play Nessun Dorma!

=================================================================================

2022 World Champions
Scotland

=================================================================================

With Northern Ireland also Euro 2020 champions, the UK is taking over!

Scotland now have as many World Cups as England, but they didn't need to be hosts to win it! Just needed to beat the hosts!


Awards
Golden Boot: Denis Dalmat (Belgium) with 4 goals
Golden Ball: John Preston (DR/C, WBR) (Scotland)
Golden Glove: Limberg Cuéllar (Bolivia)
Best Young Player: Marek Janic (ST) (Slovakia)
Most Man of the Match Award: Jorge Castro (DC/DM) (Bolivia)

Team of the Tournament
Cuéllar (Bolivia)
van Hove (Belgium) - Nadirov (Iran) - Preston (Scotland) - Khabo (South Africa) - Carlo Monti (Scotland)
Brown (Scotland) - Castro (Bolivia) - Serup (Denmark)
Dalmat (Belgium) - Passiglia (Italy)


Selected Managerial News

Mike Richardson (soon to be Sir Mike Richardson, no doubt) resigned as Scotland coach after masterminding the biggest World Cup shock in history. In a surprise career move, the 39-year-old joined Conference side Hereford in an assistant manager role, moving to be assistant of Basel at the end of the 2022/23 season.

Martino.jpg

Gerardo Martino's second spell in charge of Argentina ended in disappointment, but only after taking the champions to a second World Cup trophy in a row. He retires.

Didier-Deschamps-France-709838.jpg

Didier Deschamps retired after 8 years in the France job and was replaced with former Roma manager Patrick Colleter.

The England manager stepped down after 6 years in the job that saw a World Cup semi-final, a Euro quarter-final and a lot of heartbreak, joining Dundee United. Polls suggest fans would most like to see Sir Steve McClaren or a certain prominent English manager in France take charge now.

bobbo-9.jpg

USA sacked Bob Bradley after a whopping 16 years in charge which saw America only reach 2 World Cups (failing to get out the groups both times), momentarially lose their '#2 in CONCACAF' tag to Canada, and fail to win the bi-annual Gold Cup since 2011, but also become the first non-CONMEBOL team to win a Copa América. He retires.

Bolivia's manager retired after an incredible 7-year reign. He took one of the worst teams in South America and qualified for the World Cup twice in a row, reaching the second round then the quarter-final, losing to the hosts and runner-up on penalties respectively.

oswaldosanchezmexsport.jpg?itok=8Jf94UWw

Mexico sacked Oswaldo Sanchez after losses to Slovakia and Morocco, despite a win over Argentina that threw the World Cup open. He joined Championship club Watford.

Gabon's greatest manager Esaie Nsangou retired after taking the unknown African nation to a World Cup, getting a draw against the now world champions, as well as an AFCON semi-final and two consecutive quarter-final appearances.

Bulgaria didn't immediately sack Yasen Petrov after a 3-0 loss to Iran though a draw with England. But they did after the first game of Euro 2024 qualifying when they lost at home to Faroe Islands, going 2-0 down in 19 minutes. Ilian Iliev replaces him.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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2022 Post/Pre-Season

Squad Review and Transfers

GK

13. Eden Simantov - 32 years old, Israeli (19 caps) - £1.6m - P 5, Conc 8, CS 1, MotM 1, AvR 6.60
1. Eric Béranger - 32, Moroccan (2 caps) - £1.3m - P 11(2), Conc 8, CS 6, AvR 6.62
28. David Solli - 20, Norwegian (U19) - £2.4m - P 20, Conc 16, CS 11, MotM 2, AvR 6.80
30. Dimitar Mitov - 19, Bulgarian (U19) - £250k - P 8, Conc 9, CS 2, AvR 6.50

I used 4 keepers and no one claimed the #1 spot.

Simantov (who was supposed to be the replacement for outgoing star keeper Guimard) and long-time keeper Béranger were transfer listed in the summer after awful and unspectacular performances respectively.

Solli and Mitov came in January initially as big future prospects, but were given runs in the team due to everyone else underperforming. Solli started incredibly, but his form tanked. Mitov was just ok.

In the summer I needed experience, but could only sign a 20-year-old near-wonderkid called Mykola Prodan. Although, on loan to Anderlecht last season, he got an average rating of 7.33 and also made his debut at the World Cup this month, playing all of Ukraine's games. Loan signing Ahmed Falah was brought in as extra depth and the closest thing to experience, with 3 seasons in the Dutch second-tier seeing him get average ratings of 7.21, 7.67 and 7.26.

Out
Béranger - Romorantin (Ligue 2) - £1m (Summer 2022)

In
Solli - Lov-Ham (Norwegian top tier) - £2.4m (Winter)
Mitov - Botev Plovdiv (Bulgarian top tier) - £2k (Winter)
Prodan - Lille (Ligue 1) - £1.1m (Summer)
Falah - Dijon (Ligue 1) - Loan (Summer)


DR

16. Alen Sertic - 32, Croatian - £975k - P 33(1), MotM 1, AvR 6.76
2. Somboon Saengsawad
- DR/C, DM, MR/C - 34, Thai (34 caps, 1 goal) - N/A - P 11, AvR 7.00

Neither player survived the next season.

Sertic regularly made mistakes and, at 32, he wasn't going to cut that out of his game. Saengsawad has been an experienced utility player for 4 years. Age has caught up with him, but he's still performing. However he had to be released to free up a non-EU spot for Gosic.

Nebojsa Gosic is the biggest signing of the summer and perhaps of my career. Out of the dozens of clubs from every major league who made an offer, he chose us. At 21, he already has 20 Tackling, 20 Strength, 19 Jumping, 17 Pace, as well as good or high numbers in Bravery, Positioning, Concentration, Determination, Stamina, Natural Fitness, Agility and Passing. On loan at Basel last season, he had an average rating of 7.44. He looks set to be one of the best defenders in the world. But due to having to delay his transfer while releasing Saengsawad, he's now ineligible to play in the Europa League.

Kurtulus Serdar is a veteran Turkish international about to turn 35. He's signed to play central midfield, but being able to play backup at right-back means we have 2 much better players for this position now

Out
Sertic - NK Osijek (Croatian top tier) - £450k (Summer)
Saengsawad
- Released (Summer)

In
Gosic - FK Zeta (Montenegrin top tier) - £1.1m (Summer)
Serdar
- Atalanta (Serie A) - Free (Summer)


DL

3. Daniele Monti - D/WB/ML - 22, Italian (U21) - £3.4m - P 31(3), A 3, MotM 1, AvR 7.00
12. Adel Travers - 24, Swiss - £550k - P 14(2), A 1, AvR 6.69

Monti became a regular left-back this season, and was one of the most consistent and mature players on the pitch.

Travers regressed this season and was ousted by Monti.


DC

6. Leivur Sorensen - 23, Faroe Islands (5 caps) - P 41(1), A 1, MotM 4, AvR 7.14
22. Christophe Bokoto (Captain) - DC, DM, MC - 28, Martiniquan (5 caps)/French - £2.6m - P 31(3), G 1, A 1, MotM 3, AvR 7.06
4. Sébastien Noto - 24, French (U19)/Russian - £925k - P 10(6), G 1, AvR 6.69
5. Bjorn Schmidt - 27, Swiss (U21) - £1.2m - P 8(2), AvR 6.60
26. Pavel Pospech - 19, Czech (U21) - £1.2m - P0(3), AvR 6.67
+ Saengsawad

We are blessed in this position. It seems to be my specialty area for finding players. Even if all the first team CBs were sold, 3 youngsters could do well in their place.

Sorensen was immense, with an average rating of around 7.5 in the first half of the season earning him an international debut, before he faltered along with the rest of the team. He turned down a big money bid and stayed with the club on an improved contract, but can we keep him next time?

After all the contract drama last season, Schmidt played himself out the team. He seemed too much of a risk. Hopefully his head is on straighter next season.


MR

11. Miodrag Ljajic - MR/L, AMR/L - 27, Serbian (U21) - £3.2m - P 6(12), G 1, A 3, MotM 2, AvR 6.72
14. Éverton - AMR, MR - 22, Brazilian - £2m - P 8(2), G 1, AvR 6.70
+ Janousek, Saengsawad

Right-midfield was neglected due to the change to a wingless formation that tore teams apart.

However Éverton won no fans regarding the club as a stepping stone, and his form was poor. He made no key passes. Even as a reserve he didn't make key passes, although he got a few goals and assists. He's already returned to Brazil at 20 years old, after failing at Sporting in Portugal and Valenciennes. He must improve his attitude or he'll never make it.

Out
Éverton - Gaúcho (Brazilian Série A) - £1.7m (Summer)


ML

+ Ljajic, Monti, Scotto

3 players could play here, but there was no need due to our wingless formation

There was a bosman signing this summer: Jorge Alberto Arboleda. The £2.2m-rated Ecuadorian international veteran got 7 assists in 26(11) appearances in the Premier League last season.

Out
Fabrice Marty - Bordeaux (Ligue 2) - £1.5m (Winter)

In
Arboleda - AC Milan (Serie A) - Free Bosman (Summer)


MC

(LOAN) 18. Esteban Pujol - MC/AMC - 28, Equatorial Guinean (27 caps, 4 goals) - N/A - P 24(3), G 1, A 9, AvR 7.07
17. Hamid Scotto - ML/C, AML/C, ST - 31, Martiniquan (8 caps)/French - £525k - P 33(4), G 3, A 6, MotM 4, AvR 6.95
20. Jaroslav Janousek - MR/C - 23, Czech (3 caps) - £4.4m - P 31, G 1, A 2, AvR 6.87
15. Manuel Perez - DM/MC/AMC - 31, French (U21) - £1.2m - P 17(17), AvR 6.74
23. Pierre-Baptiste Baherlé - DM/MC - 30, French (U19) - £130k - P 15(3), G 1, A 3, MotM 1, AvR 7.00
21. Guiseppe Audino - DM, MC - 22, Italian (U19) - £1.2m - P 8(3), A 1, MotM 1, AvR 7.00
+ Bokoto, Saengsawad

Pujol was the stereotypical player that quietly but effectively completed the team, providing assists on the right of the central midfield 3 and becoming the league's joint-top assister. We only won 3 matches in 11, and lost the cup semi to a Ligue 2 side, when he got injured. His loan was made permanent.

Scotto surprised Ligue 1 with immense form on the left that got pundits excited and earned a new contract. But after injury he got no assists, just 1 goal, and 4 yellows in his last 16 games.

Baherlé was a signing I immediately thought was a mistake. But by April he had earned an extension on his contract. Can really contribute to an attack with key passes.

Out
Perez - Club Brugge (Belgian top tier) - £625k

In
Pujol - Paris Saint-Germain - Free Bosman (Summer)
Soriano - Recreativo - Free Bosman (Summer)


AMC

8. Stefan Babovic (Vice-Captain) - 35, Serbian (U21)/Montenegrin - £425k - P 30(2), G 5, A 6, MotM 1, AvR 7.00
+ Bergougnoux, Perez, Pujol

Stefan_Babovic.gif

Babovic earned a 2-year extension despite being 35.

noticia-damian-ismodes-sport-boys.png

Baby-faced Damián Ismodes is a former Peru international and also aging, but with at least one season left in him at this level. His performances in a decade at Leverkusen never reached 7.00, but he was probably out of position as a central midfielder. Can also play as a striker.

In
Ismodes - Bayer Leverkusen (second tier) - Free Bosman (Summer)


ST

7. Cédric Bergougnoux - AMC, ST - 23, French (U19) - £4.4m - P 36(3), G 18, A 5, MotM 1, AvR 6.95
24. Benjamin Didot - 25, Guadeloupean (2 caps) / French - £3.3m - P 22(11), G 9, A 3, AvR 6.85
9. Alex - 22, Brazilian (U19)/Italian - N/A - P 8(12), G 4, A 3, MotM 1, AvR 6.90
10. Marcelo Martins Moreno - 34, Brazilian (U21) / Bolivian - N/A - P 8(10), G 2, A 1, MotM 1, AvR 6.67
19. Humberto Osorio - 33, Colombian (2 caps) - N/A - P 7(9), G 1, A 1, MotM 1, AvR 6.63
(LOAN) 29. Marcin Tupalski - 19, Polish (1 cap) - £3m - P 7(7), G 2, A 1, AvR 6.71
+ Scotto

Youth product Bergougnoux launched Valenciennes to the top of the table with his goals, becoming Ligue 1's top goalscorer. All on a £2,500 per week contract, which I'll increase. But even he could only score in 2 of the last 10 matches, as everyone's shots suddenly went wildly off target no matter how close to goal or how open the goal was.

Fellow youth product Didot was one of many that got off to a hot start, then eventually lost form.

Alex didn't help his form by asking for a transfer, then changing his mind, all with an expiring contract which he didn't renew until it was about to run out.

Tupalski started brightly with a goal and assist on his debut, and another goal a couple of matches later. But that stopped and he became a liability. He would lose the ball rather than pull the trigger, even when in the area.

In the summer is a huge free signing. Kevin Sola. For whatever reason, his contract with fellow Ligue 1 side Créteil expired despite being BOTH their top scorer (19) and assister (7), and only at 22 years old. Fans are delighted with this £4.1m-rated signing.

Florin Ganea also comes on loan. Rated at £4.8m, he scored 19 in 37 games for Steaua Bucharest last season, with an average rating of 7.43. Most pertinently, he scored nearly all of their Europa League goals. Handy.

Out
Moreno - Released (Summer)
Osorio - Released (Summer)

In
Sola - Créteil (Ligue 1) - Free Bosman (Summer)
Ganea - Middlesbrough (Premier League) - Loan (Summer)


Overall

Squad numbers have been bolstered ready for a European campaign hopefully longer than 2 matches. There's a mix of experience and huge youth potential. We were the most active team in the transfer window.

 

Pre Season

The stadium will be expanded by 2600 seats in preparation for Europe, for a new capacity of 25,600.

The board are also upgrading the training facilities from 'good' to 'top' and youth facilities from 'adequate' to 'average'.

The transfer budget was again a case of only being able to buy 1 player unless I sold others to raise more money.

A link with England's Swindon Town in League 2 is announced. It allows us to send players out on loan to a club with top facilities.

Media predict an 8th-placed finish. The board just want a respectable league position, but the fans want Europe again. We're joint-5th favourites for the title at 25-1.

I was head-hunted by a few countries after the World Cup, including England. I chose to stay. I'll generally only take international jobs where the squad have at least a reliable goalkeeper and a goalscorer, but this England team isn't one of the best. Plus I'm looking forward to seeing how a few of my new signings do... at least until a big, financially well-off club approach me...

So I turned down England, for now. This was despite a contract offer of...

 


Besides, they're hosting in 2030 - if I'm going to take one of the worst jobs in football pressure/abuse-wise, I may as well go all-in and do it when they're hosting.
 

Friendlies

(5th, L1) Valenciennes 1 - 2 Schalke (8th, Bundesliga)
V Goal: Ganea (46)
S Goal: (74, 81)

Valenciennes Reserves 0 - 0 Valenciennes
1-3 on penalties after 4 rounds (0-1, 0-2, 0-2, 1-3)
Disallowed Goal: Bergougnoux (41)

Keeper Prodan saved the first two penalties before causing the next one to go wildly wide. Someone to sub on before a penalty shootout?

(5th, L1) Valenciennes 1 - 1 Brescia (15th, Serie A)
V Goal: Arboleda (19)
B Goal: (28)

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Valenciennes 2022/23 - European Debut

Europa League Summary

og-default.jpg

1st Round

The draw for the first round of the Europa League (a knockout round before the group stage) had us drawn with Cercle Brugge, who won the Belgian title 2 seasons ago, though last season finished midtable and won the Belgian Cup. The bookies make them favourites, but going by player value we're vastly superior.

While we struggled a bit in the league, Cercle Brugge were unbeaten so far in the season. But they were suffering a keeper injury crisis, meaning a 16-year-old made his debut. So we just had to test him.

1st Leg

(15th, Ligue 1) Valenciennes 0 - 0 Cercle Brugge (13th, Belgian top tier)

The keeper was only tested 4 times, mainly from set pieces.

Our top 2 strikers were currently injured and we needed them back; the rest aren't scoring.

By the time of the second leg, Cercle Brugge hadn't won in 4 games. Granted, neither had we, but we came off the back of a good result, and we had one of the strikers back. One goal should be enough.

2nd Leg

(7th, Belgian top tier) Cercle Brugge 0 - 0 Valenciennes (18th, Ligue 1) AET (0-0 on agg.)
0-3 on penalties (3 rounds: 0-1, 0-2, 0-3)
CB Red Card: (65)

Cercle Brugge clung on for penalties, but I'm always prepared for penalties. I changed the keeper, bringing on Prodan, who had won a pre-season shootout with 2 saves and a miss. That's exactly what happened again, while all our carefully-picked takers scored.

Brugge claimed they should've had a penalty during normal time, but I quipped "they probably would've missed it anyway".

And so we reached the hallowed ground of the group stage.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------


Group Stage

5 teams play each other once. Top 3 go through and we were 4th seeds in the group draw.

Our opponents were:

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Sparta Prague (H) - Got a good home draw against Man City in the first group game, but had recently suffered shock relegation from Czech league and this is only their second time in the group stage. We should win.

(17th, Ligue 1) Valenciennes 3 - 0 Sparta Prague (7th, Czech First League)
V Goals: Babovic (10, 28), Sola (30)
SP Second Yellow Cards: (73), (74)

Trying a new formation and giving a youngster his first start sees us achieve the rare act of scoring, 3 times! In half an hour!

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Málaga (A) - A top 6 La Liga side who drew away to Man City and beat Porto. A point would be great.

(3rd, La Liga) Málaga 4 - 0 Valenciennes (13th, Ligue 1)
M Goals: (45+1), (51), (57), (pen 67)

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Porto (H) - One of the traditional Big 3 in Portugal, but have only won 1 title in 6 seasons. Champions League group stage/first knockout round regulars. We could win, and if we did we'd qualify for the next round with a game to spare.

(13th, Ligue 1) Valenciennes 0 - 0 Porto (1st, Primeira Liga)

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Manchester City (A) - Top 6 Premier League side that reached the Champions League quarter-final last season and won the F.A. Cup the year before that. Have underperformed in Europe and yet to get a win. And they need to win now to qualify, while an impressive draw would see us through.

(5th, Premier League) Manchester City 2 - 1 Valenciennes (7th, Ligue 1)
MC Goal: Abdala (18)
V Goal: Bokoto (57)
MC Goal: Abdala (73)

Our trusty corner routine makes it seem like it'll be our day, but Abdala, the threat that I ordered to be specifically marked, scores his second. Man City scrape through.

Would we have qualified if Gosic wasn't cup-tied? His threat in the air could've put in a corner.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Final Group Standings
Málaga - 10
Porto - 7
Manchester City - 5
------------------------
Valenciennes - 4
Sparta Prague - 1

It was good run. It could've ended before the group stage, and equally it could've gone further.
 

Domestic Summary

Coupe de la Ligue

Results

Spoiler

2nd Round

(17th, L1) Valenciennes 1 - 1 Nimes (3rd, L2) AET (0-0 FT)
3-2 on penalties (5 rounds: 1-0, 1-0, 2-1, 2-2, 3-2)
V Goal: Alex (115)
N Goal: (118)

3rd Round

(16th, L1) Valenciennes 1 - 1 Amiens (1st, L2) AET (0-0 FT)
2-4 on penalties (4.5 rounds: 1-1, 2-1, 2-2, 2-3, 2-4)
V Missed penalty: Serdar (13)
A Goal: (17)
V Goal: Sola (61)

Coupe de France

Results

Spoiler

9th Round

(7th, L1) Valenciennes 3 - 0 Nimes (9th, L2)
V Goals: Sola (6), Gosic (61), Bergougnoux (69)

10th Round

(9th, L1) Valenciennes 5 - 0 Entente SSG (7th, L2)
V Goals: Bokoto (14), Ganea (15, 80), Serdar (21, 26)

11th Round

(15th, L1) Saint-Etienne 2 - 0 Valenciennes (7th, L1)
S-E Goals: (18), (87)

Ligue 1

Results

Spoiler

(Predicted 15th) Bordeaux 1 - 1 Valenciennes (Pred. 8th)
B Goal: (pen 32)
V Goal: Sola (56)

(Pred. 8th) Valenciennes 2 - 0 Brest (Pred. 14th)
V Goals: Bergougnoux (4, 17)

(Pred. 3rd) Marseille 1 - 0 Valenciennes (Pred. 8th) RIVALS
M Goals: (24)

(Pred. 8th) Valenciennes 0 - 1 Paris Saint-Germain (Pred. 6th)
PSG Goal: (30)

(Pred. 1st) Lens 2 - 1 Valenciennes (Pred. 8th)
L Goals: (12 seconds, 3)
V Goal: Gosic (23)

(14th) Valenciennes 1 - 1 Nantes (20th)
V Goal: Arboleda (37)
N Goal: (71)


(9th) Lyon 1 - 1 Valenciennes (17th)
L Goal: (29)
V Goal: Pujol (36)

(18th) Valenciennes 2 - 0 Bastia (12th)
V Goals: Alex (46), Bergougnoux (53)

(14th) Valenciennes 0 - 0 Lille (2nd) RIVALS
V Disallowed Goal: Bergougnoux (44)

(6th) Sochaux 1 - 0 Valenciennes (12th)
S Goal: (45)

(15th) Valenciennes 0 - 0 Le Havre (13th)
LH Red Card (83)

(6th) Dijon 0 - 0 Valenciennes (16th)

(18th) Valenciennes 0 - 0 Monaco (19th)

(18th) Le Mans 0 - 2 Valenciennes (16th)
V Goals: Gosic (32), Bergougnoux (69)

(15th) Valenciennes 1 - 0 Laval (16th)
V Goal: Bergougnoux (36)
L Missed Penalty: (84)
V Second Yellow: Scotto (88)

(5th) Toulouse 4 - 2 Valenciennes (12th)
T Goal: (8)
V Goal: Bergougnoux (13)
T Goals: (46, 62), (64)
V Goal: Ganea (66)

(14th) Valenciennes 2 - 1 Saint-Etienne (15th)
V Goals: Bergougnoux (8), Bokoto (67)
S-E Goal: (85)

(14th) Créteil 0 - 2 Valenciennes (10th)
V Goals: Ganea (12, 25)

(7th) Valenciennes 1 - 1 Rennes (19th)
V Goal: Ganea (72)
R Red Cards: (77), (82)
R Goal: (90+3)

(12th) Brest 1 - 0 Valenciennes (7th)
B Goal: (4)

(9th) Valenciennes 1 - 0 Marseille (5th) RIVALS
V Goal: Sola (80)

(7th) Paris Saint-Germain 2 - 1 Valenciennes (6th)
PSG Goal: (pen 24)
V Goal: Ganea (34)
PSG Goal: (57)

(10th) Valenciennes 0 - 0 Lens (5th) RIVALS

(16th) Nantes 1 - 0 Valenciennes (9th)
N Goal: (34)
V Missed Penalty: Ljajic (45)

(2nd) Lille 2 - 0 Valenciennes (12th) RIVALS
L Goals: (9), (36)
(14th) Valenciennes 0 - 1 Lyon (1st)
L Goal: (26)
V Missed Penalty: Janousek (28)


Ligue 1 Table (at time of resignation)

1 - Lyon - 50
(2-3)
----------------------------------
(4)
----------------------------------
5 - Le Havre - 39
----------------------------------
(6-13)
14 - Valenciennes - 30
(15-17)
----------------------------------
18 - Saint-Etienne - 26
(19-20)

League Record: P26 W7 D9 L10 F20 A21 GD-1

The season started brightly with an exciting front 2 of Bergougnoux (youth product and last season's top scorer) and Sola (a free transfer who had scored one less) getting 2 goals and an assist in the first 2 matches. Then both strikers got injured for a month.

We struggled to score after that, despite adapting tactics and formations, which bore fruit temporarily thanks to free-transfer left-winger Arboleda becoming a key playmaker. But most home matches went the same way: 4-7 players in the area 90% of the match, but the ball won't go in the net. Ultimately we would fail to score in half our games.

Goalkeeping remained an issue. Solli was still hot and cold but did enjoy an incredible run of 8 clean sheets in 9 matches. Even the on-loan keeper had his loan terminated after mistakes in both his matches.

During this time I had applied for the Barcelona job. Not as crazy as it sounds because, since Hristo Stoichkov took over, Barcelona had fallen to depths never seen before: now battling relegation from La Liga. I didn't get the job, and while the fans and board didn't hate me, they weren't so enamoured with me any more. Barcelona chose the Lille manager, who steered them away from the relegation zone... then ditched them at the end of the season.

After much thinking, I decided to resign with 12 matches left, after 5 games without a goal (and 2 missed penalties). The next 4 matches were against tricky and in-form midtable sides, and could damage my glowing reputation. Especially with strikers who can't score combined with goalkeepers who can't keep a clean sheet.

My contract was up at the end of the season, and I was always going to leave for a bigger, richer club (or country). Even though money was there, the wage structure meant I was in the same sodding routine as the previous jobs I escaped from: scraping around for free transfers, unable to get the top quality that would take us to the next level. I needed a goalscorer in the winter window, but couldn't get any because of wages, not even on loan. Time to get out.

I was finally free from a cursed club, the most frustrating and infuriating job I've ever had in real life or even in a game. Being involved in two match-fixing scandals as perpetrator (1993) and victim (2020) is bad juju evidently.
 

Final Season Squad Review

In the long term, unless a shock happens, or my signings all grow together and become an immense team, the club isn't going anywhere. They'll only be able to generally sign free transfers of youngsters, 32+ old players, and sub-par players. So I wasn't going to stay, and there's no reason to keep the pain going.

The club has 4 great prospects in goal aged 20 to 23, but still too young to be regulars. So it seems the club needs an older keeper to play in the first team, while the young keepers grow and learn from him. Or grin and bare it with the youngsters.

Defence has a conveyor belt, with the centre-backs looking to move but a few top young prospects to take their place. Gosic wasn't too big a loss as Serdar is a very good right-back, but he's 36 next season. They'll need another right-back.

Midfield is down to the next manager, but there is quality there. Arboleda was the creative force who made things happen on the left, getting 7 assists, 5 Man of the Match awards and 7.36 average rating despite playing out of position as a wing-back. He's moving on though.

The strikers Bergougnoux and Sola are suffering dry patches, but they'll still only be 24 next season, and if they click together will shoot the club up the table. They were two of the league's highest scorers last season. Now 23, Alex will either shine as he develops more or sink yearning for a move elsewhere.

The reserves are on course to successfully defend their first ever league title, so that speaks for the depth at the club.


Valenciennes Epilogue

Valenciennes got a win in their first matches under the caretaker and then their new manager. But my point was proven as they only scored 2 goals in their next 9 games, complete with a THIRD missed penalty in a row, before a final-day 3-0 win at home to a thus relegated side.

Next season (as of writing), using my players, the club would rise up the league under their new manager, though would be knocked out the Coupe de France after a penalty shootout with 20 penalties taken.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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