Jump to content
Sports Interactive Community
git2thachoppa

[FM 07] Back to 2006 | UPDATE: 28/29 Club Review - Pep leaves City, Adams v Southgate, Stoke do it, Sunderland's fall & rise , Wilder's 20 year-reign, Iniesta in N. Ireland

Recommended Posts

On 10/05/2018 at 21:31, Nobby_McDonald said:

Oh dear, the Valenciennes tale has not ended well.

I wouldn't say that. I took a midtable club with a smaller wage budget and gave them their European debut, reaching the group stages and taking it to the last day, and I got to choose when to leave.

Edited by git2thachoppa

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

2022/23 - Club Football Recap

Biggest Transfers
Michael Bopp (DC, German, 26) - Bayern Munich to Arsenal - £34m
Paul Rosenoir (DL, Jamaican/English, 23) - Inter Milan to Chelsea - £28m
Olexiy Zhuk (D/MRLC/DM, Ukrainian, 24) - Bayern Munich to Inter Milan - £23m
Alfredo Páez (MC, Paraguayan, 22) - River Plate to Bayern Munich - £22m
Godfrey Mngomeni (ST, South African, 27) - Werder Bremen to Juventus - £21m
Babis Papadopoulos (ML/AML, Greek, 27) - Inter Milan to Atlético Madrid - £21m


FIFA World Player of the Year

Two French strikers in a row have won now; this year it was the first for Atlético's amazingly-named striker Boris Bourgeois. Chelsea's Argentine striker Italo Bini and Real Madrid's Italian attacker Victor Prestia were 2nd and 3rd.


Champions League

Champions-League.jpg

Patrick Collot's Hamburger SV won their 2nd ever European Cup, 40 years after their first, by beating Bayern Munich 1-0 after extra time. They beat the two previous winners AC Milan and Newcastle United on the way.

José Mourinho's Chelsea had their best performance in 7 years by reaching the semis, losing to Bayern thanks to a red card and a dramatic last-minute winner.


England

England.jpg

Premier League

As expected, Sir Steve McClaren's Newcastle United won their 3rd title in a row with ease.

A traditional Top 4 with Yury Vergeichik's Liverpool, Michael Laudrup's Arsenal and Mourinho's Chelsea finished 13+ points ahead of everyone else.

Manchester City sacked Thomas Doll after a successful decade in charge, leading them to 2nd in 2020, winning 2 F. A. Cups, and often qualifying for the Champions League and reaching the knockouts. Their punishment for this sacking was to drop from 5th to 7th under Interim Manager Mauricio Gonzalez, ironically still qualifying for Europe thanks to the League Cup Doll won weeks before being fired. His long-term replacement is Erwin Koeman.

FA Cup

DUyZRGnXcAECAQy.jpg

Mike Newell continues to amaze as Sheffield Wednesday, who already qualified for Europe by reaching the FA Cup final, won their 4th ever FA Cup and their first ever post-war FA Cup with a penalty shootout win over Chelsea.

Football League and Non-League

_42893349_scunny416.jpg

Scunthorpe United will play Premier League football for the first time ever after winning the Championship title. Manager Glynn Snodin has seen the club promoted twice in just 4 full seasons.

nintchdbpict000403931953-e1526058972117.

Aidy Boothroyd took Cardiff City straight back up into the Championship in his first season, and 4 years later they're back in the Premier League to improve on their sole appearance in 2009/10.

PRIME-CHAMP-NOF-v-IPS-JW-20170507-48.jpg

Nottingham Forest are back in the Premier League for the first time this century after winning the playoffs.

Leeds United harshly sacked their manager. Alan Doolan's was a story straight out of Football Manager: a shock appointment after being sacked at his first job, Conference South side Bath, he took the fallen giants to the Championship in his first season, then finally back in the Premier League 2 years later after 3rd and 2nd place finishes. Yet the club sacked him after 2 seasons in the Premier League and being outside of the Championship playoff places this November. He quickly upgraded to Blackburn in the Premier League, but they were relegated bottom while Leeds didn't improve.

terry-suit-400830.jpg

John Terry was sacked by Everton in January with the club fighting double relegation to League One, lasting 1.5 years in his first job. Under new manager Tony Naylor they escaped relegation by a point.

Relegation specialist Ashley Cole was sacked with expected title challengers Brighton bottom of League One in September. New manager Ronnie Jepson struggled, but a late surge saw them avoid relegation on goal difference.

Telford United, reborn in 2004 after the former club's liquidation, will be playing in the Football League for the first time in either clubs' history thanks to 2 goals, including a late winner, in the playoff final from 14-year Telford stalwart Conor Mulholland.


Belgium

Belgium.jpg

Defending champions Cercle Brugge were relegated automatically, finishing bottom on 'Games Won' after a late goal meant a final day loss. Incredible. Evidently sacking their manager in February and replacing him with Dirk Geeraerd made things much worse.


Italy

Italy.jpg

The city of Milan's 15-year dominance of the title is finally over as Walter Bonacina's Juventus finally won their 29th Scudetto with relative ease, pretty much never leaving the top. They also won the Europa League with a 1-0 win over Sevilla.

rm-1470648616-800.jpg

The other shocking news is the sensational sacking of Inter's most successful manager in history, Roberto Mancini, after 19 years at the club, 4 Champions Leagues (2 back-to-back), 11 Scudettos, 4 Italian Cups and 4 World Club Cups. Unfortunately, Inter's last trophy was 3 years ago and AC Milan has risen in their place. Spoilt on Mancini's success, he was sacked with the club 19 points behind Juventus and having just been knocked out by Celtic in the first knockout round of the Champions League. His replacement is Fritz Schmid, who got experience of dominating a country with Basel before relegating Boavista in his only season in Portugal, then promoting Southampton and winning a League Cup.

Defending champions AC Milan finished 17 points behind in 3rd.


Spain

Spain.jpg

On the final day, 4 teams were in contention for the title.

abelresino.jpg

Abel Resino's Atlético Madrid aimed for a 3rd straight La Liga, but could only draw 0-0 away to Tenerife to finish 2nd. Resino retired after 15 years at the club, winning 3 La Liga titles, 1 Copa del Rey and reaching the final of the 2022 Champions League (only losing on penalties to AC Milan). His replacement is Miroslav Djukic.

Stuart Pearce's Sevilla could capitalise with a win away to Malaga, to win only their second-ever title. They went behind, but took the lead by the end of the first half. However a second-half equaliser meant they finished 3rd.

Therefore Marcelino García Toral's Real Madrid could win their first title since 2020 with a home win to relegation-fighting Córdoba. Three second-half goals achieved just that in a 3-0 win.

This means Real Betis' win meant nothing, and Pep Guardiola's side finished 4th.

000_Par6753858.jpg

Barcelona finally sacked Hristo Stoichkov after overwhelming supporter pressure. He lasted an unfathomable 12 seasons, taking a side that had just won 6 straight titles gradually down to midtable and now 19th with 1 win and 6 losses in 7 games. New manager Olexiy Mikhailichenko guided them up to 14th, while Stoichkov took the huge step down to Kansas City in the MLS.

ernestovalverde-301wxpxnpoe2ztmc05rd0pzy

Ernesto Valverde returned for his second spell as manager of Athletic Bilbao, with the club in the relegation zone of the Segunda División. They eventually improved and finished 10th.


Germany

Germany.jpg

On the final day, the two teams that have won the last 13 titles faced off to decide the 2023 champions.

Hamburger SV were at home to Champions League final opponents Bayern, needing a win to stop Bayern's first step to a Treble.

The match ended 0-0, and David Moyes lifts his 7th Bundesliga trophy, but his 2nd Champions league and Treble would not materialise as Hamburger got their revenge in Europe, and Bayern lost the DFB-Pokal final 2-1 to Mainz after extra time.


Netherlands

Netherlands.jpg

After Vitesse broke the exclusive Ajax/PSV/Feyenoord dominance of the last 60 years, it was Marco van Hoogdalem's Heerenveen's turn to win their first ever title.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

2023 International Recap

Hong Kong 2023 Asian Cup

When the semi-finals began, everyone was expecting a final between 2019 and 2015 winners South Korea and 2011 winners China (a repeat of the 2015 final). But the underdogs won their semi-finals.

image.adapt.990.high.iraq_football_07131

So the final was between Mohammed Al-Aboura's Jordan and Akeel Sayah's Iraq, neither of whom had ever reached the final let alone won the cup. An entertaining final saw Iraq come from behind twice, and then win the penalty shootout 3-0, to win a tournament they failed to qualify for the last two occasions.

Hosts Hong Kong held Japan to a 1-1 draw in the final group game to take them down with them.

Serdar Pir's Australia flopped by finishing bottom of their group, after reaching the World Cup quarter-finals last year. They had shocking 2-0 and 4-0 losses to Singapore and United Arab Emirates, though beat China 3-1.


2023 CONCACAF Gold Cup

Guatemala and manager Marlon Iván León won their first ever Gold Cup after an exciting final against Canada saw 2 goals in the first 3 minutes, a red card, and a 3-2 win after extra time.


Uruguay 2023 Copa América

Brazil won their first Copa América in 16 years by beating Juan Carlos Chávez's Mexico 1-0 after extra time.

Hosts and defending champions Uruguay disappointed with only 1 win in the tournament, a 3-0 loss to Mexico and a 2-2 draw with Venezuela before being knocked out by 10-man Chile on penalties. Diego Forlan, who was manager when they won it 4 years ago, stepped down.

Rubén Darío Insua retired after a year in charge of Bolivia, getting 3 wins in the group stage over Argentina, Colombia and Peru, but a disappointing quarter-final knockout to Jeaustin Campos' Costa Rica.

2999FC6D00000578-3123195-image-a-114_143

Argentina's golden generation is definitely over. After the back-to-back world champions failed to even get out the group stage of the 2022 World Cup, they failed again to do so in the Copa América.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

2023 - Unemployed, New Job

2 notable clubs are linked with me since I resigned.

Over 3 years after being sacked by one Swiss club bottom of the league, I'm declared the favourite for the vacant Basel job (the team that wins the league nearly every season). I would've snatched at that a few yearss ago, but I'm adamant this time I'm taking over a rich club next. After 3 club jobs, I'm sick of relying on free transfers.

Chicago Fire want me but, if I'm going to swot up on MLS rules, it'll be after the internationals in the summer (if I don't have a job) and probably somewhere more glamourous anywhere like L. A. or New York.

And then the right move at the right time came, but no one would've predicted it'd be my next job:

Busan IPark

200px-Busan_I_Park.png

(That's a capital 'i' by the way.)


Xfj0r3k.png

Over 9,000kms / 5,600 miles later, I already feel at home.


Reasons for Choosing

Busan-night-bridge.jpg

Anyone who's watched Black Panther will recognise it.

I've always wanted to visit the Far East, well at least Japan, but South Korea is my only option due to Japan's long-standing ban on foreign managers.

Clean, futuristic, electronically obsessed, a fetish for pretty lights and a month of rain in the summer. What's the catch?

xmas2.jpg

I had to take the Busan job now because everything was in place, which may not be the case in future:

- One of the big clubs and title contenders
- Rich (relative to the league)
- Top facilities and youth academy
- The second-largest city (after Seoul)
- A seaside city (I was born on the seaside)
- Seoul isn't a rich club...

I'm now at a standing where I can get a job at any club in the smaller countries and probably lower-half sides in the bigger footballing countries. So there's no harm in potentially winning a few things in Asia before returning to the grind.

Plus none of the international teams playing this summer have any squads I would want to take charge of if the job became available, so no need to wait.
 

Club History

busan-ipark-2014-adidas-kit-3.jpg?resize

Busan were founded in 1979 as Saehan Motors FC (many clubs were created by industrial corporations) then the company and thus team were renamed to Daewoo. Daewoo were one of the 5 founding members of the Korean league in 1983, winning its first title in the league's second year, and have never been relegated. They became the first Korean team to win the Asian Club Championship (Champions League) in 1986, the club's only continental trophy.

070912_p16_ex-busan.jpg

They won their 4th title in 1997, before IPark Construction (from Hyundai) secured the club and moved them to a bigger, newly made stadium. But they struggled badly, despite winning their first and only FA Cup in 2004 under British manager Ian Porterfield, and in the same year expressed interest in relocating to Seoul.

They were up and down the table erratically, but won back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013, and seemingly stabilised in 2019, finishing 2nd, 5th, 2nd, then top last season, winning two more titles in 2019 and 2021.

Busan have never got out of the Champions League group stage, usually due to only the top team reaching the knockouts and them finishing second.

Although there is more than one team in Busan (K League 2 side Busan Transportation Corporation is another one), Busan IPark have no traditional rivals.


Retired Numbers

12 - The Fans' number (because they're the 12th man)

5892421718_5ef198825c_b.jpg

16 - Kim Joo-sung's number, the club's international midfielder from 1987 - 1992 and then returning as a centre back in 1994 - 1999, making over 200 league appearances.


Stadium

busan_asiad.jpg

The Busan Asiad Stadium or Asiad Main Stadium is a multi-purpose stadium that was built for the 2002 Asian Games and 2002 World Cup, right next to the baseball stadium.

Its capacity is 60,000, and Busan is enjoying a period of high attendances. This season is the highest ever average attendance for the club at 27,500 so far.


Squad

(Note this league was in the background, so average ratings aren't totally reliable.)

mpashoz3lqh958d950ce8cd2e.jpg

One familiar name for fans in the real world today: Dusan Tadic.

The 35-year-old plays right-back or right-midfield. He brings the experience and leadership skills. He has no pace, but you don't need that here. He moved to Korea from Lokomotiv Moscow aged 25, including a couple of seasons at Busan, played a couple more seasons in Europe, then returned to his adopted country, soon rejoining Busan. He was never capped for Serbia, so earned the first of 2 caps for his adopted country South Korea aged 30.

Goalkeeper position is settled. The current #1 is a new signing with the best average rating in the league so far. His backup is a 38-year-old, though in the past few seasons he has been equally as good as the new signing, in fact their best performer last season, and is a club favourite.

In defence, the only player who stands out is Bae Sung-Wook, who is strong enough to play in Europe, in defence or central midfield.

In midfield, a couple of new star foreign signings who have underpeformed. They've only been here half a season but, with only 3 foreigner spots allowed, I'll look to sell them both and use my connections and experience (and money) to bring in 3 big stars, possibly former players. Annoyingly, one player out on loan to another K League 1 club is the second-best performing player in the league right now, at 39 years old, and he's retiring. Shame.

Up front, Kim Sung-Ho is a club favourite and 2022 Busan Fans' Player of the Year and has a goal every 2 games the past few years, only 13 league goals away from being Busan's best ever goalscorer. But this season he's transfer-listed by request. The 3 players under him aren't major goalscorers currently.

In the youth/reserves, it's time to take a bunch of players off the transfer list. One goalkeeper is technically very, very good at 17.

The squad average age is 27 and squad personality is ambitious.


Budget

I have £4.8m to spend (over 3x the club's record transfer fee) and the ability to sign a minimum of 4 players more in the current wage budget. While I have about the same money I had at Valenciennes, domestically we can buy anyone, and internationally we can buy any foreigners who would want to come. We're like Chelsea (or Earth-0 Man City).

Restrictions are 3 foreigners at a club, and we can't sign foreign goalkeepers. (North Korean is not foreign)

There's not really a transfer window, but rather a transfer period: December (end of season) to end of July (mid-season break). So I have a couple of months left.

180420_1.jpg

Transfer policy? Buy everyone I want. Hoover up the best talent domestically, but first get the 3 best players possible for the foreigner spots.


Staff

I'll keep a few of the staff, including the assistant manager, mainly because he's a South Korean who can speak English. In the long-term, there may be others better to suited as an assistant.

I raid my former clubs Valenciennes and even Young Boys for anyone who wants to join me on this adventure, though first approach the coaches released by Valenciennes' new manager for fairness, including Benoit Pedretti.


Korean Football

The quality of football is around French Ligue 2 level (so I'll be aiming for foreigners who excelled in that one season in Ligue 2). The goalkeepers are particualrly bad though, as clubs are restricted to Koreans. I can see a few of my ex-strikers scoring bucketloads here. Don't expect pretty passing football to work here though, there are no Iniestas and Xavis in this league.

holy-grail-1.gif?w=600

Refs are soft too. Reds are rarely given. Elbows or hacking with two feet might get you a yellow card. Just get on with it.

Age is no problem, as OUTFIELD players up to the age 40 can still deliver consistently. I usually buy physically strong players, but I don't have to worry so much with physically weaker Korean opposition. But signing technically gifted players who outmuscle the opposition could lead to destroyed the opposition.

Players move around clubs a lot, often going back to former employers.

Many clubs have top-tier stadia due to the World Cup in 2002. Though average attendances are a fraction of capacity (in some cases barely 1,000 filling a 60,000-seat stadium), but for big games they do fill up the seats.

Foreign managers are rare, and usually they're Brazilian. I may be the most high-profile manager ever to manage in the K League, as a former World Cup, Europa League and Ligue 1 manager. I judge this by the amount of shocked emoji reactions on articles of my announcement as manager, since I can't read Korean yet.


Domestic Competitions

K League 1

2010_12_05_0675_1200.jpg

A 14-team league where everyone plays each other home and away from March to November. However, the title is decided by a playoff system like in the MLS (and other American sports). Playoff spots go to:

- The team who is top after half a season ('opening period')
- The team who win the most points in the second half of the season ('closing period')
- The 2 highest teams in the overall league table who haven't got a spot (3 highest if the same team is top of both periods)

To make sure there's still something to play for, the team who finishes top overall gets to play at home in the 1-legged semi-final to the lowest of the 2 clubs who qualified by overall placing. The team that won the other period gets to play at home too.

Any questions?

Bottom team overall is relegated to K League 2.

Over the last decade, the only regular winner has been Busan with 4 wins, winning 2 of the last 4. Daegu was last year's winner, their second of the last 10 years and ever. Busan and Seongnam are the joint-most winners since the league began in 1983, with 8 titles each.

Busan were predicted 1st, but halfway through the season the team is currently 10th in a 14-team league. However there is a whole period to play for, so anyone can still be champion. The board just want a respectable league position.

FA Cup

FA+Cup+trophy.jpg

A regular knockout competition involving clubs from the top 2 divisions and University teams. The semi-finals and final are played in Seoul, which is a bit unfair as that means Seoul play at home. It has been struggling to gain interest, but the winner gets in the Champions League.

Busan have already been knocked out first time, losing to a semi-professional K League 2 club.

League Cup

A summer tournament to keep people occupied during monsoon season and any international tournaments. It's effectively half a league season as all K League 1 teams play each other once, and the team who finishes top win.

Busan are joint-top with half the tournament to go but, as it's meaningless, it's a good time to try out all the players to help decide who to keep and sell, and how to play the team.

Super Cup

The K League winner hosts the FA Cup winner (or highest-placed overall in the league) to open the season.

K League All-Star Game

A team of players from 'South' clubs face a team of players from 'Central' clubs.

Busan players represent the South.

Reserve Leagues

4 reserve teams play each other 6 times. Teams must apply to participate each year.


International Competition

AFC Champions League

54897412-64d8-47a8-b93c-5f05d3093d95.jpg

7 groups of 4 play each other twice, only the top team qualifies for the knockout rounds. The defending champions get a bye to the knockouts.

2 teams from South Korea participate, which are effectively the two teams that play the Super Cup.

China's Dalian Shide dominated the Champions League from 2009 to 2017, winning 5 times.

A Korean team hasn't won since Pohang Steelers in 2012, though Incheon were runner-up in 2019.

A3 Champions Cup

xinsrc_2720604140831906308333.jpg

The league champions of China, Japan and South Korea + one more club from the host nation play each other once.

No club has won the A3 Champions Cup 3 times. Busan is one win away from doing so.

World Club Cup

The winner of the AFC Champions League enters the first round along with the OFC (Oceania), CONCACAF (North/Central America) and CAF (Africa) Champions League winners.

No Asian side has reached the final. Al-Ahly finished 3rd in 2006 after beating Mexican side Club América.
 

Contract

I'm given a 3.5-year contract until the end of the 2026 season, which means if any countries want me after the World Cup, it won't cost much. And if I want to leave, it's a short wait until the big jobs come around in the summer.

I'm taking over a 50% pay cut to £1,200 per week, but I'm moving from the most horrible frustrating job ever to possibly the most loveliest. And I'm already rich. (Thanks Chile!)

Edited by git2thachoppa

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

2023 - An Immediate Impact (Busan IPark)

June to August 2023 - League Cup

Results

Spoiler

League Cup

(1st) Busan 1 - 1 Daejeon (3rd)
1-0: Kim Sung-Ho (4)
1-1: (25)

(2nd) Busan 0 - 1 Seoul (4th)
0-1: (6)

(5th) Busan 2 - 2 Suwon Samsung (13th)
0-2: Tadic Own Goal (20), (44)
2-2: Kim Sung-Ho (45), Yoo Jin-Sung (78)

(9th) Gyeongnam 0 - 2 Busan (4th)
0-2: Kang Jong-Soo (13), Yoo Jin-Sung (38)

(4th) Busan 1 - 0 Seongnam (1st)
1-0: Kim Sung-Ho (45)

(7th) Daejeon Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power 0 - 0 Busan (2nd)

(2nd) Busan 0 - 0 Incheon (4th)


Mid-Season Friendlies

(1st, KL2) Busan Transportation Corporation 0 - 0 Busan (10th, KL1)
2-3 on penalties after 5 rounds (1-1, 1-1, 1-2, 2-2, 2-3)

Busan Reserves 1 - 2 Busan
0-2: Alex (31, 33)
1-2: Kang Min-Sung (59)

608831666-1206x602.jpg

I arrived to much fanfare as possibly the K League's most prominent manager ever, and my first action was to remove the captaincy from the star striker Kim, who was a club favourite but not a leader. Instead I give it to veteran Dusan Tadic. The outcome? In my 3rd match, Tadic recovers from an own goal to help the team back from 2-0 down to 2-2, and Kim scores 4 minutes into my first game and asks to be taken off the transfer list.

After a slow start, due to injuries and rock-bottom morale, we get our first win and go on a run of 4 clean sheets in a row to end the League Cup campaign. One match ended 0-0 despite us having 28 shots and 11 on target.

Final League Cup Table

1 - Seoul - 28
2 - Busan - 23
(3rd to 14th)

It's not enough, as Seoul win their first League Cup with ease. But the signs are promising, with most of my new signings about to arrive and my Korean improving so I can get my point across.

Splashing the Cash

I make 9 new first-team signings alone before the transfer period ends. After years of free transfers, I can finally spend and build.

With only 3 foreigner spots, I get rid of the recently-acquired foreigners to bring in at least one top goalscorer and centre-back (goalkeepers must be Korean) using my standing and contacts.

And I landed the big one for ~£4m, K League record signing and my former Brazilian striker at Valenciennes, Alex. He got 14 goals in Ligue 2 aged only 20, but has struggled to make the step up so far. A change may be good for him... and me.

Speaking of my former club, Barcelona and Inter Milan sign two of my signings at Valenciennes for a total £9.5m. My former club is now 'rich'. You're welcome.

Meanwhile my star keeper, the star striker, my first signing and a midfielder are all picked for the All-Star game, suggesting a quality spine, even though only 1 ends up being fit. Due to injury leaving only 12 fit players and no keeper, their Southern team lose 6-0.
=====================================================================


August to November - Can we steal a Title Playoff Spot?

Results

Spoiler

K League 1

(10th) Busan 4 - 1 Gwangju (9th)
1-0: Park Ki-Nam (19)
1-1: (29)
4-1: Park Ki-Nam (42, 77), Yoo Jin-Sung (82)

(4th) Pohang Steelers 0 - 3 Busan (9th)
0-3: Park Ki-Nam (36 seconds), Kim Sung-Ho (40), Shin Suk-Keun (65)

(6th) Busan 1 - 0 Gangneung City (9th)
1-0: Alex (82)

(12th) Ulsan Hyundai 1 - 3 Busan (4th)
1-0: (11)
1-3: Alex (33, 58), Bae Sung-Wook (40)

(3rd) Busan 2 - 1 Daegu (6th)
0-1: (14)
B Disallowed Goal: Jung Sang-Hoon (20)
2-1: Alex (28), Own Goal (88)

(14th) Daejeon 2 - 1 Busan (3rd)
1-0: Ricardinho (14)
1-1: Park Ki-Nam (15)
2-1: Ricardinho (63)

(3rd) Busan 2 - 1 Chunnam (5th)
2-0: Park Ki-Nam (18), Alex (45+1)
2-1: Figo Own Goal (87)

(1st) Suwon 1 - 2 Busan (3rd)
0-1: Own Goal (50)
1-1: (62)
1-2: Alex (89)

(2nd) Busan 4 - 0 Gyeongnam (13th)
1-0: Alex (pen 31)
G Red Card: (38)
4-0: Alex (pen 39, 45), Park Ki-Nam (66)

(4th) Seongnam 1 - 2 Busan (1st)
1-0: (59)
1-2: Shin Suk-Keun (73), Alex (90+2)

(8th) Seoul 1 - 1 Busan (1st)
0-1: Jeon Jin-Man (26)
1-1: (89)

(2nd) Busan 3 - 1 KHNP (4th)
1-0: Rivera (12)
1-1: (14)
3-1: Alex (48), Park Ki-Nam (75)

(3rd) Incheon 4 - 2 Busan (1st)
2-0: (5, 16)
2-1: Park Hyung-Joo (26)
4-1: (39), (64)
4-2: Yoo Min-Chul (88)

League Record Before My Arrival: P13 W5 D1 L7 F20 A19 GD+1 PTS16, Pos: 10th
After: P13 W10 D1 L2 F30 A14 GD+16 PTS31, Pos: 1st

K League 1 has a playoff system to decide the champions (like American sports and MLS), so all you need to know is we had to have the best form for the second half of the season alone or finish in the top 2 overall (possibly 3 or 4) to clinch a playoff place.

As the K League restarts, news comes through that BADLY struggling Barcelona hire Aidy Boothroyd as their new manager. Given that he's English, last managed in the Premier League over a decade ago, and has been a Championship manager ever since, I'm thinking that would've easily been my job if I waited. But I was happy enough at Busan now. It'll be like a much-needed vacation... hopefully...

Tactically, I started my reign with 4-4-2 with high wingers, changed to 4-3-3/4-2-5, then attacking 4-1-3-2 before settling on my favourite 4-4-2 diamond. The skill of this league is generally low, so a passing game isn't happening. So we play a fast direct/long ball game, which gets us a 5-on-4 situation in attack.

And 'lo, we scored 7 goals in our first 2 games, with 2 goals from the second game coming 1st and 2nd in Goal of the Month, and it's 11 games unbeaten until Ricardinho gives me my first league loss at Busan.

But the points continued to rack up as luck was in our favour with mistakes and deflections, the complete opposite of my time at Valenciennes. But more importantly, Alex in particular is enjoying himself, not only scoring 11 in his last 10 games, but regularly challenging for or winning Goal of the Month. He's showing off, dinking it past keepers, off posts. It's marvelous.

This is the skill, form and luck of champions.

We clinched the championship playoffs with a game to spare, winning the Closing Period, meaning we play at home for the one-legged semi-final. We also finish well above the Opening Period winners, which means we play the lowest-placed non-seeded side: Incheon.

With only the bragging rights of topping the overall table to play for in our final game, coincidentally against Incheon, they handed me only my second league loss. But this was away from home, and with our second-string side. The home playoff tie with a full-strength XI should be different. A last-minute goal elsewhere means we top the overall table anyway!

In the final month, our returning-from-injury #1 keeper wins Goalkeeper of the Month, and a defender and striker is winner and runner-up for Player of the Month.

To top if off, 6 players are called up by the South Korean Under-23s, suggesting a good future.


Overall League Table

1 - Busan - 47pts (+17 GD) (Playoffs)
2 - Suwon - 47 (+12) (Playoffs)
3 - Incheon - 44 (Playoffs)
(4th to 7th)
8th - Seongnam - 37 (Playoffs)
(9th to 14th)


Closing Period Table

1 - Busan - 31
2 - Incheon - 28
(3rd to 14th)

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

We were now just a home semi-final and a two-legged final away from a huge turnaround and a league title in just my first half-season.

It should be a breeze, I could feel the trophy was ours already with our current form.

Little did I know, the playoffs would be the most emotional and dramatic moment of my career so far...

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Busan IPark, 2023 - Title Playoffs

We enter the title playoffs as top seed, after winning the Closing Stage (i.e. second half) of the league, and going from 10th (when I arrived) to top of the table, with 10 wins and 30 goals in 13 games. This means we play at home to the weakest non-stage-winning side, Incheon, for the semis.

In our last match, a week ago, they beat us 4-2, but it was a second-string and away from home.

I'm able to withdraw all the players that would've been called up for internationals. Even though we're missing a key defender and a striker for the rest of the season, we should have enough still.
 

Playoff Semi-Final

Busan 4 - 1 Incheon
2-0: Shin (5), Alex (45)
2-1: (53)
4-1: Jeon (65, 87)

We were dominated in the first half, and their left-back injured our right winger (for the rest of the season) AND his substitute, yet we won 4-1 at home.

Seongnam, who finished 8th in the league, hadn't won in their final 7 league games, but won 4-1 to set up the two-legged final.

Under my management, we have beaten them home and away, so surely they had no chance...

But my body wasn't ready for the most dramatic and heart-stopping moment of my career.

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


K League 1 Playoff Final, 1st leg

Now our first choice right-winger is also injured, joining the centre-back and striker. We have no proven goalscorer on the bench. But surely we're still too much for Seongnam to deal with, even away from home.

Other than the injuries, the only problem position is right-back. With no one yet claiming that place, I play Yoo Min-Chul.
 

First Half

skysports-neymar-psg-paris-st-germain_40

Our star striker Alex places the ball in the net in just 1 minute. But straight from kick-off they draw a foul then build an attack, resulting in their star South American striker Rivero, who I'd played mind games with before the game, immediately equalising.

Both teams have chances before and after half-time but fail to take the lead.
 

Second Half

A rare passing game is played, and attacking midfielder Shin Suk-Keun rifles in on the hour and we can control the tie now.

298aec815c0f9f40c21606560ae457b9--phil-n

But a late penalty is given against right-back Yoo Min-Chul, and his second of two questionable yellows means Seongnam can get something today and have a chance in the second leg. However, our keeper saves the penalty. If we see this game out, they're done.

Despite being 10 v 11, we have as many chances as them. So it's a sickener that they take the lead with a few minutes to go, the goalscorer being the man who missed the penalty.

The full-time whistle goes, and it's a result Seongnam take. However it still means they have to go to our place and win (there's no away goals rule) against a team that, under my short reign, has only lost two games (one of them a meaningless final league game).

Seongnam 2 - 2 Busan
1-0: Alex (2)
1-1: Rivero (4)
2-1: Shin Suk-Keun (62)
B Second Yellow: Yoo Min-Chul (80)
S Missed Penalty: Joo Young-Hwan (82)
2-2:
Joo Young-Hwan (88)

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


K League 1 Playoff Final, 2nd leg

2010_12_05_0675_1200.jpg

Injury returns mean we have a first-team right-winger starting this time, and we now have a goalscorer on the bench.
 

First Half

Nothing happens. Seongnam have killed the game. There are pretty much no highlights for the first half hour, making it hard to know how to change things.

Then a sickening disaster: Rivero scores his second of the tie before half-time. In a game where nothing is happening, we need to score, preferably twice.
 

Second Half

article-0-19E094F4000005DC-76_634x402.jp

But again nothing is happening. At all.

Then Seongnam hit the bar. If that had gone in, the game would definitely be over.

I have to change something, but with a dead game and literally no highlights, it's hard to know what. I throw everything forward, play 3 at the back instead of 4, substituting the right-back for a striker. It's a 3-4-3.

But still nothing happens. No highlight until 84 minutes, when our free-kick goes unthreateningly wide.

I feel depressed, thinking to the future already. But with playoffs, your team has to show up on the day, no matter how strong it is...

3 minutes of added time breezes through.

One more highlight left, with 30 seconds to go, as a long range high free-kick is easily caught by their keeper. Goal kick as the referee checks his watch, cleared by our defender on the halfway line all the way back toward goal for Alex to chase, he passes into the area for Jeon who scores.

Equalises with 4 seconds to go!

Euphoria in the 60,000-strong home stadium, the players and even the goalkeeper bundle onto the hero (for now). The referee blows the whistle. There is no away goals rule, so it goes into extra time and possibly penalties.
 

Extra Time? Penalties?

I make my two final subs before extra time, bringing on influential veteran Tadic and, unlike last game, I tell the keeper to give him the armband. I don't really change anything else, throwing caution to the wind.

Our winger has a glorious chance, 2-on-1 with the keeper, but hits it just wide in what would normally be a goal.

No real chances in the second period as time ticks down to penalties. Seconds remain, our left winger crosses into the box and Jeon is on the end of it again, scoring in the 6-yard box with a header and the winner!

BKDOIG8CMAIZ4ju.jpg

After all the celebrations, there's barely any time left, and the ref blows the final whistle.

A horrible feeling is turned into elation, and I'm nearly moved to tears by the rollercoaster of emotions and drama.

I'm asked how I feel. "축구, 피 묻은 지옥"

Translation:

 

The team lift the league trophy in front of 60,000 who expected it to not happen right at the end. In just 5 months, I and (my first senior signing) Jeon Jin-Man particularly become heroes of the city.

And a whopping £80,000 prize money too(!)

It's Busan's 3rd league trophy in 5 years, but no one expected this when I arrived. Who needs a full season?

But I never want to go through that again. I have to make this team stronger... buy Rivero...

Busan 2 - 1 Seongnam (4-3 on agg.) AET (FT 1-1)
2-3: Rivero (37)
4-3: Jeon (90+3, 119)

Choi+Kang-hee+celebration.JPG


Awards

Yoo Soon-Ki wins K League 1 Goalkeeper of the Year.

Defender Luis Rivera is 3rd in K League 1 Player of the Year, and runner-up for Foreigner of the Year and Defender of the Year.

Hero of the final Jeon is Young Player of the Year, winger Jung Sang-Hoon is 2nd and also 1 assist away from joint-most league assists.

In half a season, Alex got only 3 fewer goals than top scorer Rivero (who almost killed us) and won Goal of the Season.

Those four players make K League 1 Team of the Year. Injured centre-back Bae Sung-Wook, Figo and Park Ki-Nam make the 'bench'.

I win K League 1 Manager of the Year.

 

Cho+Jinho+RIp3.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Busan - 2023 Post-Season Squad Review

I bought around a dozen players when I arrived mid-season, selling the foreigners so I could fill the 3 foreigner spots with the best I could find. It resluted in the league title being won in dramatic fashion.

I feel we have a team already to do it again next season, but it could do with a few more improvements, as well as investing in young players to grow in the reserves and on loan to create a conveyor belt of talent.

Especially to match my vision of completely dominating the country and challenging in Asia as soon as possible.


*Stats are since my arrival, not for the whole season.

GK

1. Yoo Soon-Ki (Co-captain) - 29 years old, South Korean (3 caps) - £625k - P 8, Conceded 7, Clean Sheets 3, Man of the Match 1, Average Rating 6.63
14. Kwoun Sun-Tae - 39, SK - £18k - P 13, Conc 12, CS 3, AvR 6.54
37. Jung Ki-Duk - 18, SK - P 2(1), Conc 4, CS 2, AvR 7.33

Yoo is supposedly a star keeper, but the injury-prone stopper didn't show it in the few games he managed to play. He now wants to leave for a bigger club.

Kwoun+Suntae+Kashima+Antlers+v+Ulsan+Hyu

I had to spend most of the half-season playing aging backup Kwoun. I would've like to keep the old vet, but he decides to retire.

- There was only 1 clean sheet in the final 12 games, and we simply outscored the opposition. So a new South Korean keeper (preferably 2) is the target while the youngsters grow. I can only buy South Korean ones though.

In
Jung - Jeonbuk (K League 2) - £210k

Out
Kwoun - Retired

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


DR

5. Dusan Tadic (Co-captain) - D/MR - 35, Serbian / SK (2 caps) - £10k - P 11(6), A 2, AvR 6.71
2. Yoo Min-Chul - DR/C - 28, SK - £14k - P 7(1), G 1, AvR 6.63
31. Son Dong-Woo - 28, SK (1 goal in 8 caps) - £70k - P 5(1), A 1, AvR 7.17
+ Bae Won-Joon, Cho Ki-Yong, Park Kyung-Hwan

serbias_dusan_tadic_sustains_a_facial_in

Tadic is old and has no legs, but as a backup he can do a job with his tons of experience.

Yoo Min-Chul is a youth product that's spent the last 9 YEARS on loan to a club in the division below. I called him back and gave him a chance, but his last act for the club will be getting sent off in the Playoff Final 1st leg.

Son Dong-Woo played a couple of seasons in the Turkish Super Lig before returning to South Korea.

In
Son - Incheon (K League 1) - £70k

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


DL

17. Bae Won-Joon - DR/L/C - 22, SK (U21) - £700k - P 18, A 2, MotM 3, AvR 7.17
3. Heo Dae-Ryoon - D/WBL - 23, SK (U21) - £70k - P 7(1), AvR 7.13
+ Park Kyung-Hwan

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

DC

4. Luis Rivera - DC/DM - 30, Panamanian (35 caps) - £550k - P 18, G 1, A 2, MotM 3, AvR 7.44
26. Bae Sung-Wook - DC/DM - 30, SK (U21) - £675k - P 12, G 1, AvR 7.14
36. Park Kyung-Hwan - DR/L/C - 22, SK (U21) - £425k - P 10(1), A 1, AvR 6.82
20. Nam Hong-Kyoo - 23, SK (U21) - £35k - P 7(1), AvR 6.75
+ Bae Won-Joon, Jeon Jin-Man

Rivera was a key foreign sigining, and only £300,000. 7.44 rating despite struggling to settle into the country. Alas he has asked to move after just a few months.

Injured a few times, but Bae Sung-Wook is a Europe-calibre defender and very strong.

- I already needed a solid centre-back as backup/competition, but if Rivera leaves I'll need 2.

In
Rivera - St. Gallen (Swiss Super League) - £300k
Park - Seongnam (K League 1) - £425k

Out
Ricardo Velásquez - Talleres (Argentine Superleague) - £100k

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


MR

9. Yoo Jin-Sung - AMR/ST - 21, SK (U21) - £925k - P 10(1), G 3, A 4, AvR 7.09
32. Han Dae-Sung - 24, SK (7 caps) - £350k - P 4(2), A 2, MotM 1, AvR 6.67
34. Park Hyung-Joo - 21, SK (U21) - £75k - P 2(1), G 1, A 1, AvR 7.00
+ Cho Ki-Yong, Tadic

Injury-prone Yoo was a key player on the right wing, and with his free-kicks.

In
Han - PAOK (Superleague Greece) - £350k
Park - Incheon (K League 1) - £70k

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


ML

19. Jung Sang-Hoon - 24, SK (3 caps) - £300k - P 17(2), A 7, MotM 1, AvR 7.21
7. Park Yoon-Tae - 28, SK (U21) - £60k - P 4(6), A 1, AvR 6.70

Park is a youth product who has been at Busan 12 years now, amassing 266 appearances for the club.

Out
Sergio Tejada - Rosario Central (Argentine Superleague) - £1m

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


DM/MC

35. Figo - 34, SK (8 caps) - £475k - P 13(1), A 2, AvR 7.29
13. Kang Jong-Soo - 27, SK (U21) - £500k - P 9(6), G 1, A 1, AvR 6.67
18. Cho Ki-Yong - D/MR, DM, MC - 22, SK (U21) - £800k - P 8(2), AvR 6.80
+ Bae Sung-Wook, Rivera, Wright, Yoon Bit-Garam

Screenshot_2016-06-22-15-17-55_1.jpg

Figo was a great signing and key to our victories. He earned the nickname when he travelled to Brazil to become a footballer.

Kang was a consistent 7/10, but he got a suspension and lost his place to Figo.

Cho was tried more as a right-back as I hoped to find someone who excelled there, but this bright prospect is perhaps best in central midfield.

Javier Ramirez, who I sold as soon as I arrived, was labelled Worst Signing of the Season at £1.5m for a 6.70 rating in 20 appearances in 7 months.

In
Figo - Daejeon (K League 1) - £475k

Out
Javier Ramírez - Offenback (German Bundesliga) - £650k

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


AMC

30. Shin Suk-Keun - 20, SK (U19) - £900k - P 12(2), G 4, A 2, MotM 1, AvR 7.14
23. José Wright - MC/AMC - 34, Costa Rican (non-foreigner) - £80k - P 5(7), AvR 6.67
8. Yoon Bit-Garam - DM/MC/AMC - 33, SK (1 goal in 40 caps) - £80k - P 1(2), AvR 6.33

Wright naturalised as a South Korean just as I arrived, so I didn't have to sell him. But he's only good as a backup.

0f67dceaed49f2543b0a02976c91e313.jpg

Injuries meant the 'Korean Ballack' Yoon didn't get much of a chance, but our most experienced former international stays as backup.

- So with 2 veteran backups, I should get another attacking midfielder to compete with Shin.

In
Shin - Incheon (K League 1) - £775k

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


ST

33. Alex - 23, Brazilian (U19) - £2.6m - P 13(2), G 13, MotM 3, AvR 7.40
25. Jeon Jin-Man - 22, SK (7 goals in 9 caps) - £800k - P 7(2), G 5, A 2, MotM 1, AvR 7.22
11. Park Ki-Nam - 30, SK (4 goals in 15 caps) - £350k - P 12(1), G 8, A 3, MotM 1, AvR 7.46
10. Kim Sung-Ho - 29, SK (2 goals in 9 caps) - £875k - P9(6), G 3, A 1, AvR 6.64
28. Vítor - 28, Brazilian - £800k - P 4(2), AvR 6.67
24. Kim Ki-Wook - 20, SK (U23) - P 1, A 1, AvR 8.00
+ Yoo Jin-Sung

My star foreign signing and former Valenciennes striker Alex not only nearly always scored, but with Brazilian style.

Jeon struggled to score at first, no matter how many shots he had, then he got injured. Who would've guessed he would score the vital goals, not only 2 in the tie playoff semis, but the last-second equaliser and then the extra time winner in the final? A hero already. Not a bad first senior signing.

Park returned to his hometown club at the start of the season and helped fire us to the title, earning the Busan Fans' Player of the Season award. He was also K League 1 signing of the season at £240k.

Kim Sung-Ho has been the club's goalscorer for the past 4 seasons, but had his head turned wanting to move to a bigger club, and his goals dried up. He officially asked to move at the end of the season.

Vítor was temperamental: didn't like being substituted, couldn't settle in the country, and didn't score or even get most of his shots on target. A flop. He will be sold after only half a season because, with only 3 foreigners allowed, each one has to be top class, not disruptive and crap.

- After battling with Alex to be the league's top scorer, and nearly killing our dreams in the playoff final, Seongnam's star Venezuelan striker Rivero is my top transfer target.

In
Alex - Valenciennes (French Ligue 1) - £2.6m+
Jeon Jin-Man - Seoul (K League 1) - £800k
Vítor - RW Essen (German second-tier) - Out Of Contract

Out
Kim Chang-Duk - Seoul (K League 1) - £100k
Kim Ki-Wook - Jeonbuk (K League 2) - Loan

Edited by git2thachoppa

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Busan IPark, South Korea - First Half of 2024 Season

Pre-Season, Super Cup

azadi-stadium-tehran-1409662999-title.jp

Results

Spoiler

Pre-Season Tour - Iran

Persepolis 2 - 3 Busan
0-1: Alex (5)
P Disallowed Goal: (6)
B Disallowed Goal: Alex (39)
0-2: Rivero (57)
1-2: (70)
1-3: Jeon Jin-Man (86)
2-3: (90)

Esteghlal 1 - 3 Busan
0-1: Own Goal (24)
1-1 Goal: (51)
B Red Card: Figo (77)
1-3: Park Ki-Nam (81), Park Yoon-Tae (90)

Saipa 1 - 2 Busan
1-0: (13)
1-2: Jeon Jin-Man (27), Rivero (32)
B Missed Penalty: Rivero (58)

PAS Tehran 2 - 1 Busan
1-0: (29)
1-1: Alex (30)
2-1: (58)

Korean Super Cup @ Busan Asiad Main Stadium, Busan

(1st, League Winners) Busan 0 - 2 Gwangju (7th, FA Cup Winners)
0-2: (11), (25)

Friendly

(1st, K League 2) Jeonbuk 1 - 1 Busan (1st, K League 1)
0-1: Ko Myung-Koo (3)
1-1: (59)

Building on our league success, Busan announced links with Indiana Invaders in America and FSV Frankfurt in Germany. Semi-professional sides, but it gives us a presence in key continents (financially and footballing, respectively).

My name is linked to several jobs, in the Championship, La Liga and elsewhere, and I reject the VERY optimistic advances of non-league moneyless side York City. I shoot down all rumours. I'm staying with Busan for the next season.

A popular transfer period sees me achieve my aim of signing a couple of keepers and Rivero, the league's top scorer who was 2 seconds away from costing us the title. I sign a few more and a bunch of youngsters too.

Unable to tour outside Asia, we go to my old country: Iran. It allows me once more to experience the Azadi stadium against Persepolis, test the team against Champions League opposition (Persepolis and Esteghlal) and go up against Iranian legend and my former Iran coach Ali Daei of Saipa. Two different teams played away to Iran's two Champions League regulars and beat them easily. If we get one of them in our group, we can get 6 points.

A 16-year-old who only just got promoted to the club makes his international debut for Oman, more an indication of how bad the country have fallen than his ability.

The Super Cup is the season opener presenting the first step in my aim to win every trophy this season, but we lose 2-0 in a lifeless display.

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

K League 1 - Opening Stage Domination

fq2KYze.jpg

Results

Spoiler

(Pred. 11th) Gangneung City 2 - 2 Busan (Pred. 1st)
0-1: Hwang Chul-Min (17)
1-1: (28)
GC Missed Penalty: (45+3)
2-1: (75)
2-2: Rivero (90)

(Pred. 1st) Busan 2 - 0 Chunnam (Pred. 9th)
B Disallowed Goal: Jeon Jin-Man (26)
2-0: Alex (64), Hwang Chul-Min (70)

(Pred. 1st) Busan 1 - 0 KHNP (Pred. 6th)
1-0: Alex (15)

(Pred. 3rd) Suwon 0 - 2 Busan (Pred. 1st)
0-2: Alex (22), Shin Suk-Keun (42)

(Pred. 1st) Busan 3 - 0 Jeonbuk (Pred. 14th)
3-0: Park Ki-Nam (17), Yoon Bit-Garam (50, 85)

(Pred. 1st) Busan 3 - 2 Daegu (Pred. 4th)
D Red Card: (35)
1-0: Jeon Jin-Man (52)
1-2: (54, 73)
3-2: Yoon Bit-Garam (77), Shin Suk-Keun (86)

(Pred. 10th) Seoul 0 - 3 Busan (Pred. 1st)
0-2: Alex (10), Shin Suk-Keun (35)
S Red Card: (45+3)
0-3: Alex (45+4),

(12th) Daejeon 0 - 6 Busan (1st)
0-6: Rivero (7, 20), Own Goal (18), Yoo Jin-Sung (42), Park Ki-Nam (63), Hwang Chul-Min (86)

(1st) Busan 3 - 0 Ulsan (8th)
3-0: Park Yoon-Tae (35), Shin Suk-Keun (73), Yoo Jin-Sung (90+2)

(1st) Busan 4 - 0 Seongnam (11th)
2-0: Han Dae Sung (7), Alex (pen 12)
S Second Yellow: (17)
4-0: Alex (pen 18), Jeon Jin-Man (19)
B Injury, down to 10 men: Park Ki-Nam (62)
B Injury, down to 9 men: Han Dae-Sung (79)

(3rd) Gwangju 1 - 1 Busan (1st)
0-1: Shin Suk-Keun (56)
1-1: (88)

(1st) Busan 2 - 2 Incheon (2nd)
0-2: (16, 28)
2-2: Figo (60), Park Yoon-Tae (81)

(8th) Pohang 0 - 1 Busan (1st)
0-1: Kim Sung-Ho (45+1)
P Disallowed Goal: (61)

After an opening day draw, the Busan juggernaut started speeding through opponents. With the Champions League, we won 6 games in a row, a new Busan record, and with 6 clean sheets.

This turned into scoring 3+ goals per match for 7 matches in a row, a club record win of 6-0 (and away from home, playing with a weakened side), a league record 9 league wins in a row

Teams, especially when we're at home, are just parking the bus and trying to hold on for the 0-0, but we tear them apart whether they let us come or they try to threaten. One team played as defensive as possible and held tight. 23 shots, but eventually 2 went in.

Near the end of the Opening Stage, we faced last year's playoff final opponents, who so nearly broke my heart in the most dramatic match of my entire career. This time, we won 4-0 after just 19 minutes. Then our tricky draw away to Super Cup opponents Gwangju ended an incredible run of 13 wins in a row (a club record) and 12 clean sheets in 14 games.

We clinched the first playoff place with 2 games of the opening stage to spare. The remaining 15 league games now will only decide our seeding.

After a year at the club, Alex's record now stands at 23 goals in 24(3) matches. He's 2 goals away from being joint top-scorer in the league, and only because he's played a few less games.

3 players top the league's assist chart (Han Dae-Sung, Jeon Jin-Man, Tadic)

During this season I reached my 500th career game. I have a 40% win percentage and an average per game of 1.2 goals scored and 0.9 goals conceded.

League Table (Opening Stage)

1 - Busan - 33 (Playoff)
2 - Incheon - 24
(3 to 14)

League Record: P13 W10 D3 L0 F33 A7 GD+26 CS9

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

 

Champions League - Group Stage

AFC-Champions-League.png

Results

Spoiler

(1st, A-League) Newcastle Jets 1 - 2 Busan (Pred. 1st, K League 1)
1-0: (39)
1-2: Jeon Jin-Man (41, 64)

(Pred. 1st, K League 1) Busan 1 - 0 Long An (Vietnam)
1-0: Jeon Jin-Man (9)

(Japan) Yokohama F. Marinos 0 - 3 Busan (Pred. 1st, K League 1)
0-3: Yoo Seung-Hyun (45+2), Alex (75, 83)

(Vietnam) Long An 0 - 3 Busan (1st, K League 1)
0-3: Shin Suk-Keun (28), Yoo Seung-Hyun (41), Alex (47)
B Injury, Down To 10 Men: Yoon Bit-Garam (84)

(1st, K League 1) Busan 4 - 1 Yokohama F. Marinos (Japan)
3-0: Alex (8), Tadic (35), Han Dae-Sung (45+2)
YFM Disallowed Goal: (47)
3-1: (60)
4-1: Wright (85)

(1st, K League 1) Busan 3 - 0 Newcastle Jets (1st, A-League)
3-0: Kang Jong-Soo (4), Rivero (14), Choo Se-Joo (53)

Only the top team qualifies in a group of 4, but we avoided the Chinese, Iranian and Saudi Arabian powerhouses and actually had a chance of getting out.

In the Champions League group stage, we were drawn against:

Newcastle United Jets - Back-to-back Australian A-League champions who have reached 4 finals since 2008, winning 1.

Yokohama F. Marinos - A Japanese side that had only got out of the group stage once in the last 17 years, though it was just 2 seasons ago.

Long An - A Vietnamese side that can get points, but should be 6 points for us.

Thanks to the league system, I felt I could prioritise the Champions League. And thanks to striker Jeon, and a large squad in one case of international call-ups, we gradually picked up wins.

We easily qualified for the knockout stages for the first time in 19 years, with a game to spare and the only team to win all 6 games.

Group E Table

1- Busan IPark - 18
--------------------------------
2 - Newcastle United Jets - 9
3 - Yokohoma F. Marinos - 5
4 - Long An - 2

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

FA Cup, Summer League Cup, A3 Champions Cup

Results

Spoiler

FA Cup - 2nd Round

(University League) Honam University 0 - 2 Busan (1st, K League 1)
0-2: Choo Se-Joo (29), Rivero (71)

League Cup

(5th, K League 1) Gangneung City 3 - 1 Busan (1st, K League 1)
1-0: (16 seconds)
1-1: Hwang Chul-Min (2)
3-1: (4, 41)

(1st, K League 1) Busan 4 - 1 KHNP (10th, K League 1)
0-1: (54 seconds)
4-1: Kim Sung-Ho (20, 40), Jeon Jin-Man (33), Kang Jong-Soo (42)

(8th) Busan 6 - 2 Chunnam (1st)
1-0: Song Dong-Woo (5)
1-1: (21)
3-1: Kang Jong-Soo (32), Alex (35)
3-2: (45+2)
6-2: Alex (55), Kim Sung-Ho (77), Choo Se-Joo (90+2)

(12th) Suwon 2 - 4 Busan (5th)
0-3: Yoo Jin-Sung (17), Jung Sun-Ho (18), Rivero (39)
2-3: (60, 71)
2-4: Park Yoon-Tae (89)

(1st) Busan 2 - 0 Jeonbuk (6th)
2-0: Alex (75), Rivero (84)

(11th) Seoul 1 - 3 Busan (1st)
0-1: Kim Sung-Ho (24)
1-1: (77)
3-1: Tadic (pen 84), Shin Suk-Keun (90)

(1st) Busan 1 - 0 Daegu (5th)
1-0: Rivero (28)

(1st) Busan 1 - 1 Ulsan (13th)
1-0: Rivero (6)
1-1: (52)

(14th) Daejeon 0 - 2 Busan (1st)
0-2: Jeon Jin-Man (60), Rivero (90+2)

(7th) Pohang 0 - 0 Busan (1st)
B Missed Penalty: Yoo Jin-Sung (16)

FA Cup - 3rd Round

(10th, KL1) KHNP 0 - 1 Busan (1st, KL1)
0-1: Shin Suk-Keun (29)

League Cup

(1st) Busan 3 - 1 Seongnam (3rd)
1-0: Hwang Chul-Min (8)
1-1: (29)
3-1: Rivero (66), Yoo Jin-Sung (70)

A3 Champions Cup @ National Stadium, Tokyo

(Japan) Jubilo 1 - 3 Busan (South Korea)
J Disallowed Goal: (21)
1-0: (34)
1-3: Own Goal (38), Shin Suk-Keun (51, 76)

(South Korea) Busan 2 - 1 Yokohama F. Marinos (Japan)
1-0: Hwang (16)
1-1: (26)
2-1: Rivero (79)

(China) Shanghai Shenhua 0 - 0 Busan (South Korea)

League Cup

(5th) Gwangju 1 - 1 Busan (1st)
1-0: (4)
B Missed Penalty: Kim Dong-Jin (69)
1-1: Park Ki-Nam (70)


(1st) Busan 2 - 0 Incheon (9th)
2-0: Park Ki-Nam (83), Shin (90)

The summer monsoon months brought an unofficial break. The League Cup that takes place is a case of rotating players, giving more game time to others, and enjoying watching Euro 2024 as the rain lashes down.

And immediately, the prospect of a whole season (except the Super Cup) unbeaten was gone: a strong second-string lost the first game. I'm not fussed because I don't fall into the trap of aiming for records, just trophies.

Not only are we scoring lots of goals, but now they're stylish and difficult goals to pull off. We have an 8-game win streak in this time, while Rivero scores in 6 of his last 7 games (only because he played one as a 74th-minute sub).

Even a severely weakened side with 5 young reserves still escape with a point.

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQPyP5EIyzAFIV_ZR95bJe

With the League Cup on the verge of being won, we go to Japan for the A3 Champions Cup.

It pits the winners of South Korea's K League 1, Japan's J1 League and the Chinese Super League against each other, joined by another club from the host nation. The winner is whoever's top of the league after everyone's played each other once. It's another not-so-important summer tournament, but one I want to win.

Jubilo Iwata were runner-up in last year's Champions League, so beating them 3-1 was good preparation of our Champions League opponents, who are the defending champions.

We then beat Yokohoma F. Marinos with a rotated side for the 3rd time this season, before escaping with the necessary point against Shenhua, the better side in the game.

Finally, I lift my first trophy of the season.

A3 Champions Cup Standings

1 - Busan - 7 points
2 - F. Marinos - 4 (+2 GD)
3 - Shenhua - 4 (0 GD)
4 - Jubilo - 1

And as full-time blew, news came in that results in the League Cup meant we'd also won that with 2 games to spare. What a day! The simultaneous double! Has that ever happened before?

And all without superstar striker Alex in the A3, and experimental line-ups in the League Cup.

With this unique feat, my reputation shoots up to World Class, the only manager in the world today to have that reputation.

Woah.

League Cup Table

1 - Busan - 30 points
2 - Seongnam - 24
(3rd to 14th)

We end the first half of the season with 2 trophies, a unique achievement, and an ongoing run of 19 games unbeaten so far, a new Busan record.

Oh, and meanwhile Busan Reserves have sensationally won their reserve league after only 12 games, with 6 games to spare. Eventually they would win 16, draw 1 and lose 1, 27 points ahead of everyone else. Like the senior side, they simply outscored the opposition rather than defended.

Edited by git2thachoppa

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

2023/24 - Club Football Recap

Biggest Transfers
Lorenzo Mozzini (MR/AMR, Italian, 22) - Newcastle United to Bayern Munich - £33m
Paul Rosenoir (DL, Jamaican/English, 25) - Chelsea to AC Milan - £32.5m
Nabil Allain (MC, French, 23) - Valencia to AC Milan - £23.5m
Carlo Baldi (DL/DC/ML, Italian, 21) - Atlético Madrid to Juventus - £21m
Marcos Portilla (MC, Spanish, 23) - Arsenal to Milan - £18m

FIFA World Player of the Year

Arsenal's striker Oybek Kopadze was the 4th new winner in a row, and Arsenal's 4th winner in 8 years. The Uzbek international is the first Asian to win the award.

Chelsea's Argentinian striker Italo Bini, still going strong at 32, was in the top 3 for the 2nd year in a row, joined by Real Madrid's Italian forward Victor Prestia.
 

UEFA Champions League

Champions-League.jpg

In a repeat of the 2021 final, and its outcome, Newcastle United beat Arsenal 1-0 thanks to an early penalty from a possible dive, and despite going down to 10 men for an hour.

steve-mcclaren-clapping-fans-newcastle-u

It was to be Sir Steve McClaren's final match after an incredible 14 years in charge of sleeping giants Newcastle United. After taking England to the Euro 2008 final, he took over a Newcastle side that had yo-yoed up and down the table. They immediately finished 3rd, 4th, 3rd, then two 2nd places in a row, plus two Champions League semi-finals in that time, before finally winning the title in 2016. They only finished outside the top 2 once in his last 11 seasons, winning the title 4 more times, the FA Cup twice and a Club World Cup along with the 2 Champions Leagues. Legend.

It's the 4th Champions League final in a row Arsenal have lost, in the space of 8 years after winning in 2011 and 2013.

Defending champions Hamburger SV failed to even get out of the group stage, thanks to Celtic's superior head-to-head record.

Europa League

og-default.jpg

Just as in the Champions League, 3 English teams reached the semis, and it was another all-English final, though not the one the neutrals wanted.

A barnstorming shock of a derby final was avoided, as Neil Banfield's Manchester United beat shock semi-finalists Sheffield Wednesday (Mike Newell is one of the greatest managers around now) to face surprise finalists Sheffield United.

It took penalties after a 0-0 draw for United to end the other Sheffield club's dreams and lift the trophy.


England

England.jpg

Premier League

Newcastle and Michael Laudrup's Arsenal also battled over the league title. The defending champions topped the table for most of the season, but Arsenal overtook them in February and lifted the trophy once more.

Since 2007, Arsenal and Newcastle have won all but 2 titles (Liverpool 13/14, Man Utd 14/15). Will that change now Sir Steve McClaren has retired? His replacement is Sergio Bueno, who is steady but unspectacular, and whose only recent achievement was winning Palermo's first ever Italian Cup a couple of months ago in his only season there.

Middlesbrough-manager-next-Paul-Ince-782

Middlesbrough hired Hibernian manager and former Boro player Paul Ince for the new season, and were rewarded with a 7th place finish and a place in Europe.

GettyImages-499917634.jpg

José Mourinho finally left Chelsea a second time, as Real Madrid came calling. He spent nearly 17 years over 2 spells at Chelsea, with a couple of years at Juventus inbetween. His second spell was barren compared to his first, when he won 2 Champions Leagues and a few league titles. Valter Bonacina replaced him after a decade at Juventus, where he broke the incredible 15-year Milan dominance last season when they won Serie A last season.

Former Mexico legend Rafael Márquez, who won 122 caps for Mexico and played for Barcelona and Fiorentina, landed a Premier League management job with Reading after taking charge of a second-tier Mexican side in his first job. Then Reading, who just survived their first season back in the Premier League, finished bottom with only 21 points.

Cups

Newcastle United beat Manchester United 3-1 to lift the FA Cup.

article-1045748-024B9BB800000578-575_468

Oguz Cetin's West Bromwich Albion won their first trophy in 56 years by beating Man Utd by the same scoreline in the League Cup final.

This means Newcastle United were close to The Treble (even The Quadruple, as they reached the semis of the League Cup too). Manchester United also came close to a cup treble.

Football League and Non-League

image.jpg

Bryan Klug came through Ipswich's youth system, and had been at the club for 2 decades mostly as assistant manager and caretaker manager before becoming full-time manager in 2022 and taking them to the Championship playoffs. But he was sacked at the end of 2023 with the club in midtable. They dropped further before Steve Potts had them finish in the bottom half.

Crystal Palace will be in League Two for the first time in over 60 years after finishing bottom of the Championship and League One in successive seasons.

Burton Albion beat Rushden & Diamonds in a pulsating playoff final. 1-1 at full time, 2-2 four minutes later, before finally winning 5-4 on penalties and reaching League One for the first time ever.

Keith Millen worked his way up to manager of League One Bristol City in 2013, but his decade in charge was over after too much yo-yoing between League One and League Two.

Dean Kiely took his first job as a manager after being promoted from assistant at recently relegated York City in 2016. 8 years on, he finally succeeded in getting York out of the Conference... as they dropped to a new historic low, finishing bottom of the Conference and down into the 6th tier, despite the club replacing him late with Ian Baird.

Former Everton and Wolves defender Joleon Lescott's first job in management ended with the sack in under just a year. He was promoted from assistant manager at Conference North club King's Lynn, but was sacked with them bottom of the table in October. His replacement easily finished midtable.


Belgium

Belgium.jpg

Belgium delivered the tightest finish possible yet again, full of drama and Shakespearean betrayal.

Over a decade ago, the league infamously had their top 3 teams finish on equal points... TWICE IN A ROW. And it's happened again... AND WENT EVEN FURTHER!!!

The top 3 again finished on equal points: FC Brussels (who have won 6 of the last 8 titles), Standard Liége and Charleroi.

The tiebreaker is 'games won', but all of them won 15 games. Belgian league rules state that if teams aren't separated by points and games won, the top 2 (decided by further tiebreakers of goal difference then goals scored) must play a special playoff.

So for the first time ever(?), the title was decided by 2-legged playoff between perennial winners Brussels and surprise package Standard. To top it off, Standard's manager left in April to JOIN BRUSSELS!!

But this is where the magic ends, as Standard were easily brushed aside 3-0 in both legs (getting a red card in each) to lose 6-0 and Brussels won their 3rd title in a row.


Spain

Spain.jpg

Real Madrid's Mareclino García Toral surprisingly left the club in January after 13.5 years in charge. He won 9 titles, including 6 in a row, finally achieved La Décima with a Champions League, and a few other cups. He chose to leave one of the biggest clubs in the world, currently 4th but only 6 points behind top, to join Fiorentina, a midtable side who are just above the relegation zone.

article-2328074-19E5B510000005DC-605_634

And José Mourinho's Real Madrid recovered to retain the title, while Miroslav Djukic's Atlético again finished 2nd. Barcelona's new manager Aidy Boothroyd took them to their highest position in 5 years: 5th.


Italy

Italy.jpg

It was back to normal as the two Milan clubs hot potatoed 1st place, Inter eventually winning their first title in 4 years in Fritz Schmid's first and only full season after the legendary Mancini's sensational sacking. Schmid retired to be replaced by the current West Ham manager, Israeli Eli Ohana.

Defending champions Juventus managed to end up in 3rd despite Valter Bonacina leaving in February. His replacement was Patrick Collot, who surprisingly won the Champions League last season with Hamburg and leaves the German club 8 points in the lead (after a 3-0 win over champions Bayern) surely on the way to his 3rd Bundesliga title in his 4th year at the club.

 


Germany

Germany.jpg

Patrick Collot had left Hamburg 8 points in the lead in February on the way to his 3rd Bundesliga title in his 4th year at the club, after a 3-0 win over Bayern.

doll_aachen-1166285584_zoom35_crop_400x3

His replacement was former Hamburg player, coach and manager Thomas Doll, who managed the club in 2004 to 2007. He had then joined Bayern Munich and won 3 Bundesliga titles in a row and reached a Champions League final, before 10 years at Man City turning them into a top 4 side and winning their first major trophies in 40 years.

But Hamburg lost the lead and David Moyes' Bayern went top with 1 game to go, winning their 2nd title in a row by 4 points.
 

France

France.jpg

yves-colleu-21022009-grenoble-paris-sain

PSG won their first title in 30 years under highly regarded new manager Yves Colleu.

Thanks to the sale of players I signed raising £24.5m in just one summer, Valenciennes are officially 'rich' in Ligue 1. With this and the team I built, new manager Paul Fischer led Valenciennes back into the Europa League with a 4th-place finish, even better than my 5th-place finish.


Elsewhere...

Shanghai United became the first Asian side to reach the Club World Cup final after beating Sao Paulo on penalties in an awful game where they had just 1 shot, and Sao Paulo had only 1 shot on target. They fell to Hamburg 1-0 in a slightly livelier final.

2018-05-24T082602Z_312351856_RC1FA0D47E9

After leaving his first coaching role at Valenciennes, one club man and Barcelona legend Andrés Iniesta eventually got his first management job... relegation-threatened Banbridge Town of the Northern Irish Premiership. With only a few games to save them, they finished in the relegation playoff places, but won the playoff easily to survive.

Febian Brandy retired after a career at just 2 clubs (excluding loans): Manchester United and Everton. He immediately became manager of TNS in Wales. As a result, they finished further than they'd ever done in the Europa League, just missing out on the group stage.

66377625.jpg?imageId=66377625&width=1024

Stig Inge Bjornebye's 17 years at his first job, IK Start, finally ended with the sack. In his time in charge of the yo-yo club, they finished 2nd twice and 3rd twice more, and reached a cup final. But the club were relegated in his last season, the first time in over 2 decades under his reign. His replacement is Gunner Halle.

Frank de Boer was sacked by Roda JC Kerkrade in his first job as manager. He only scraped into the top half of the Eredivisie once in 7 years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

2023/24 - International Recap

Greece 2024 European Championship Qualifying

uBOqXm2.png

Group A

Portugal-v-Wales-Euro-2016-semi-finals.j

Czech Republic - 17*
--------------------------------------
Turkey - 17*
--------------------------------------
Wales - 16
Bosnia & Herzegovina - 15
Kazakhstan - 10
San Marino - 4
*Head-To-Head Record: Turkey 1 - 0 Wales

Wales failed to qualify for the Euros for the first time in 20 years, and it's Chris Coleman's second failure to qualify in the last two campaigns. Gareth Bale retired from international football with 93 caps.


Group B

Belgium - 23
--------------------
Portugal - 21*
--------------------
Belarus - 21*
Russia - 13
Moldova - 8
Andorra - 1
*H2H: Portugal 4 - 2 Belarus
 

Group C

iain-dowie_1.jpg?w=640&h=480&auto=compre

Poland - 22
-----------------------------
Ukraine - 19
-----------------------------
Hungary - 10
Northern Ireland - 7
Azerbaijan - 0

Iain Dowie failed to qualify with Northern Ireland again, and the Euro 2020 winners will not be able to defend their title in Greece.
 

Group D

2463.jpg

Serbia - 13
-----------------------
Latvia - 11
-----------------------
Switzerland - 10
Norway - 10
Estonia - 7

Watch our for Serbia's golden generation. Their 3 best players play for the big Milan teams, valued at £30m each, and are at peak age. Though Estonia getting 3 red cards helped Serbia win and qualify automatically.

Latvia hope to reach their first Euro since Euro 2004.

Norway sacked Henning Berg after failing to qualify for any tournaments in his 3 qualifying campaigns, and he retires from management after a good club management career. His replacement was the man he replaced: Oystein Bjorseth, who at least qualified for the World Cup during his 2 qualifying campaigns.

Estonia only scored 2 goals (as did Norway), but beat Switzerland and got a draw against all their opponents.


Group E

Finland - 14
------------------------
Netherlands - 13
------------------------
Denmark - 12
Albania - 8
Malta - 6

A loss away to Albania means Netherlands have to go through the playoffs.

Denmark failed to qualify for a Euro for the first time in 40 years!


Group F

Scotland - 20*
----------------------
Germany - 20*
----------------------
Croatia - 12
Iceland - 6
Liechtenstein - 0
*H2H: Scotland 0 - 0 Germany; Goal Difference: Scotland +13, Germany +13; Goals Scored: Scotland 15, Germany 13

World Champions Scotland needed a 3-goal win at home to Croatia, and got exactly that to qualify on goals scored.


Group G

France - 19
----------------------
Macedonia - 12
----------------------
Austria - 11
Cyprus - 11
Slovenia - 3

Macedonia can qualify for their first ever tournament.


Group H

Romania - 18
------------------------
Italy - 14
------------------------
Bulgaria - 12
Montenegro - 10
Faroe Islands - 4

World Cup runner-up Italy may not make it still.

Bulgaria sacked their manager after the first game, a loss at home to Faroe Islands. Had current manager Ilian Iliev been in charge for that game and won, they'd have made the playoffs.


Group I

England - 22
----------------------------------
Republic of Ireland - 14
----------------------------------
Slovakia - 12
Lithuania - 8
Armenia - 1


Group J

Israel - 19
------------------------
Spain - 13
------------------------
Georgia - 10
Sweden - 8
Luxembourg - 3


Playoffs (aggregate)

2012-634695894395281574-528.jpg

Germany 3 - 3 Netherlands (Germany win on away goals)
Italy 2 - 2 Latvia (Italy win on away goals)
Macedonia 0 - 1 Spain
Portugal 2 - 0 Turkey
Republic of Ireland 5 - 0 Ukraine

Portugal finally qualify for their first tournament in 14 years, their first Euro in 20.

Italy survive a scare against a Latvia side playing lovely passing football.

Second time in a row Frank Rijkaard's Netherlands fail to qualify for a tournament.


And look at this group draw:

Group Draw (in order of likely finish)

Group A
Serbia
Spain - First Euros in 12 years
Israel
Greece - Hosts

Group B
Belgium - 3rd place at World Cup
Germany - 4th place at World Cup
Finland
Romania

Group C - The British Isles Group of Death
Scotland - World Champions
England
Republic of Ireland
Czech Republic - First Euros in 20 years

Group D
Italy - World Cup runner-up as hosts
France
Poland
Portugal - First tournament in 14 years


Morocco 2024 Africa Cup of Nations

Neil Tovey's defending champions South Africa beat the host nation in the final for the second AFCON in a row, beating hosts Morocco 2-0.

Niger lost 9-0 to Egypt in their first ever AFCON game, but then drew with Mali 1-1 despite missing a stoppage time penalty.

2024 OFC Nations Cup

New Zealand won their 9th trophy in the past 11 tournaments (since Australia left), with a 4-1 aggregate win over Tahiti in the final.

Edited by git2thachoppa

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Greece 2024 European Championships

uBOqXm2.png

Can World champions Scotland win back-to-back trophies?

With European champions Northern Ireland out, can Republic of Ireland follow suit and keep it in Ireland?

Will Belgium, 3rd at the 2022 World Cup, finally lift a trophy?

Can hosts Greece shock like 20 years ago and be the next small nation to reach a final or even lift a trophy?

Or will a traditional powerhouse like Germany, France or Italy return to the top and bring back normality?


Group A

In order of likely finish:

Serbia
Spain - First Euros in 12 years
Israel
Greece - Hosts

Greece 0 - 1 Serbia
Not the best of starts for the hosts with a sending off at the end.

Spain 2 - 0 Israel
A 2-goal debut for 22-year-old Marc Teixidor

Israel 1 - 0 Serbia

Greece 1 - 1 Spain

Greece 1 - 0 Israel
Both teams needed a win, but it wouldn't matter for Greece if Serbia won by one goal...

Serbia 1 - 0 Spain
Serbia got the win despite a late red card.

Table

Serbia - 6
Spain - 4 (+1 GD)

-------------------------
Greece - 4 (0 GD)
Israel - 3

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


Group B

Belgium - 3rd place at World Cup
Germany - 4th place at World Cup
Finland
Romania

00000051769.jpg

Finland 2 - 0 Germany
Finland get a big scalp in an even but lifeless match.

Romania 0 - 0 Belgium

Romania 2 - 0 Finland

Belgium 1 - 1 Germany

Finland 2 - 1 Belgium
Finland came from behind and scored a last-minute winner to qualify and knock out the third-best team in the world.

Germany 2 - 0 Romania
Germany needed to beat Romania by 2 goals to leapfrog them, and they did just that.

Table

Finland - 6
Germany - 4 (0 GD, 3 GS)

------------------------------
Romania - 4 (0 GD, 2 GS)
Belgium - 2

Finland reach their first Euro quarter-final.

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


Group C - Battle of the British Isles

Scotland - World Champions
England
Republic of Ireland - First Euros in 12 years
Czech Republic - First Euros in 20 years

England 0 - 0 Scotland
An England goal was ruled offside, and other than that there wasn't a single shot for over an hour. Probably the biggest England/Scotland game in history ended up being one of the worst matches in history.

Republic of Ireland 0 - 0 Czech Republic

Scotland 2 - 0 Republic of Ireland

Czech Republic 1 - 1 England

Czech Republic 1 - 1 Scotland
Scotland scores in 40 seconds, but concede an own goal in the second half. They still top the group. The Czechs needed a low-score draw in the other game, however.

Italy-v-Republic-of-Ireland.jpg

Republic of Ireland 2 - 1 England
England took the lead right at half-time after Ireland missed a penalty, but they choked in the second half.

Table

Scotland - 5
Republic of Ireland - 4

----------------------------
Czech Republic - 3
England - 2

An impressive 3 draws for the Czechs, an embarrassing performance for England.

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


Group D

Italy - World Cup runner-up as hosts
France
Poland
Portugal - First tournament in 14 years

Portugal 1 - 0 France
Portugal hold onto a big win despite a red card.

Italy 1 - 1 Poland
A Polish penalty is cancelled out.

Portugal 0 - 1 Italy

France 3 - 0 Poland

Poland 2 - 0 Portugal
Poland dominate Portugal, who don't get a shot on target. Now they need France to lose.

Italy 0 - 0 France

Table

Italy - 5
France - 4 (GD +2)

----------------------
Poland - 4 (GD -1)
Portugal - 3

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

Quarter-Finals

podolski-ap_1661084c.jpg

Serbia 0 - 0 Germany AET (Germany win 2 - 1 on penalties)
10-man Germany needed penalties, but 3 of their 5 pens were saved!

Republic of Ireland 0 - 2 Italy
Italy dominated.

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

Finland 0 - 0 Spain AET (Finland win 4-2 on penalties)
Spain's first World Cup or Euro knockout match in 16 years ends with another flop.

Scotland 2 - 0 France
The world champions dispatch one of the favourites with a top all-round display.

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


Semi-Finals

Germany 1 - 0 Italy
Germany are truly back with a Euro final to follow on from a World Cup semi.

jonatan-johansson-of-finland-celebrates-

Finland 1 - 0 Scotland
The Scottish dream is over, but Finland have a chance to be the next big shock.

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

Euro 2024 Final
@ Karaiskakis Stadium in Piraeus (Olympiakos/Greece)

34a_0.jpg

Germany.jpg v Finland.jpg

Germany v Finland

History

Germany won a record 4th Euro title in 2012, but missed the chance to be the only team to successfully defend it when they lost the final in 2016. That means they've appeared in 3 of the last 4 Euro finals. There was a short blip, but they returned to normality with a semi-final appearance at the 2022 World Cup and now this final.

Finland qualified for their first ever tournament in 2014, after over 80 years of hurt, and since then they've only missed the 2022 World Cup. They got out of the group stage once, reaching the quarter-final of the 2018 World Cup. They only scored 1 goal and got 2 points from the 6 games of Euro 2016 and 2020.

Form

That changed when Finland opened against Germany and beat them 2-0.

Germany only conceded 1 goal after that, but scraped into the knockouts on goals scored and needed penalties to beat Serbia... and they had most of those saved!

Finland lost their next game to Romania 2-0, but two late goals saw them through to the knockouts where they also needed penalties to beat Spain, but scored 4 out of 5. They then beat the world champions Scotland.

Bizarrely, on form, Finland are arguably favourites, even (especially) if it goes to penalties.

Managers

image.jpg

5-cap international Uwe Rosler is Germany's manager. He built his career in the top 3 tiers of Germany, as well as Norway and Austria, but only really started winning things at Basel. There he won their 7th, 8th and 9th straight Swiss titles and one Swiss cup before Germany came calling. He took a country that failed to even qualify for the 2018 World Cup or get out the group stage of Euro 2020, and lead them to the semi-finals of 2022.

Ubaldino Romitelli had an unassuming playing career, never reaching the top 2 divisions of Finnish football. His first and only job before Finland was 6 months in charge of a semi-professional club. He took charge of his country in 2020 after 1 goal and point in the Euros, but also just 2 years after a World Cup quarter-final. They subsequently failed to qualify for 2022 after 4 tournament finals in a row, but finished ahead of the Netherlands to qualify this year.

Team News

Both teams have important exclusions.

Germany are without their man in the 'hole' Seitz, via suspension, and will have to rejig to play the same formation without the man who scored 2 and assisted 1.
Finland have 3 injuries, 2 of them who were integral to the Germany win and got injured in the next game: striker Makela who was Man of the Match with an assist, and left-winger Koski who got the other assist. They all sit on the bench anyway, just in case.

Finnish centre-back Tukiainen has 2 goals and needs 2 more to get the Golden Boot.

Germany play a narrow 4-4-2 diamond, strikers pushing wide: Straub (Werder Bremen); Berger (Sampdoria), Jurkovic (Napoli), Bopp (Arsenal), Schmidt (Newcastle United); S. Heinrich (c) (Gladbach); Neitzel (Hertha BSC), Beyer (Bayern); Volk (Inter); Schupp (Manchester City), Krause (Inter) - 4 Bundesliga, 4 Serie A, 3 Premier League

_87023949_pa-23853014.jpg

Finland play a flat 3-5-2: Tomi Majava (Atlético); Tukiainen (Chievo), Grahn (Udinese), Svensson (Panathinaikos); Nyman (Deportivo), Zetterberg (Albacete), Latvanen (c) (Napoli), Lauri Dalla Valle (Napoli), Suikki (Anderlecht); Jussila (Arsenal), Wiklund (PSV) - 4 Serie A, 3 La Liga, 1 Premier League, 1 Eredivisie, 1 Superleague Greece, 1 Belgian First Division


First Half

One or two closes calls for Finland as Germany have the better half, but nothing happening yet. German striker Schupp gets a knock.

Half Time

Uwe Rosler swaps a couple of players in midfield. Schupp stays on.

Finland make a straight striker swap, bringing on the injured Makela.

Second Half

After only 4 minutes, the Finland manager makes his final 2 substitutions, perhaps hoping for the element of surprise. The other striker and the yellow-carded midfielder comes off, and on comes 2 full backs. They change formation to a narrow 5-4-1 diamond with wing-backs. It looks like Finland want penalties, putting bodies behind the ball.

Rosler makes 3 like-for-like changes with about 20 minutes to go. Off come 3 attackers (including knocked Schupp) to be replaced with 3 like-for-like attackers.

Full Time

Finland have had 1 shot (off-target), while Germany have had 11 (4 on target). Otherwise, not much has happened. Finland have killed the game.

Extra Time? Penalties?

wcup_f_players_cel_2973723k.jpg

Substitute Schneider heads in a long ball into the area to score his first goal for Germany in only his 5th appearance. What a time to start!

Finland return to the flat 3-5-2 formation that didn't serve them very well, while Germany change to a 4-1-3-1-1 with central midfielders pushing wide.

With 10 minutes left to save the cup, Finland play 4-2-4, but fail to register another shot, ending the match with 0 shots on target out of 1 attempt.

Germany 1 - 0 Finland AET
Schneider (102)


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

2024 European Champions
Germany

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


Awards

Golden Boot: Kevin Ferrie (Scotland) - 3 goals
Golden Ball: Colin Hunter (Scotland) - 8.00 rating, 3 MOTM and 1 goal in 5 appearances
Young Player of the Tournament: Andreas Zetterberg (Finland) - 22, 7.50 rating, 1 MOTM and 1 goal in 6 appearances
Most Assists: Nicky MacMillan (Scotland) - 3 assists

Due to the mediocrity and lack of shots in the tournament, the Golden Glove and Team of the Tournament awards have been cancelled.


European Championship Bests

Finland - Runner-up (Group Stage: 2016, 2020)
Scotland - Semi-final (Quarter-final: 2020 as co-hosts)


Selected Managerial News

Spaniard Xavi Juliá left Italy after a lost World Cup final as hosts and a Euro semi-final.

Belgium's manager resigned after taking them to 3rd in the World Cup and to their first Euros in 16 years during his 3-year spell.

Poland replaced Piotr Nowak with Kamil Chapula.

Israel replaced Nitzan Shirazi with Ronny Levy.
 

Edited by git2thachoppa

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Busan 2024 - Second Half of Regular Season

Prologue

39341022-cherry-blossoms-at-night-busan-

Moving into the second half of the season, we had just won a unique 'Simultaneous Double' of two minor trophies by mid-season. Surprisingly, we also won all 6 of our group games in Busan's return to the Champions League, and less surprisingly (to me) clinched the first seeded league title-playoff spot while going unbeaten in the league so far.

There's also the FA Cup, meaning we're aiming for an unprecedented Quintuple (only missing out on the Super Cup season opener).

Meanwhile, club favourite goalscorer Kim Sung-Ho finally gets his move to Europe, moving on a season-long loan to Vitória in Portugal's Primeira Liga.

The Southern All-Star Team call up 4 Busan players for the All-Star game, the 3 fit ones playing the whole game, 2 of them scoring the opener and late equaliser in a 2-2 draw before losing to penalties.


K League 1 - Closing Stage

Results
 

Spoiler

(1st) Busan 1 - 0 Gangneung City (5th)
1-0: Shin (32)

(11th) KHNP 0 - 2 Busan (1st)
0-2: Jeon (3), Yoo Seung-Hyun (55)

(10th) Chunnam 0 - 3 Busan (1st)
0-3: Park Ki-Nam (16), Own Goal (19), Rivero (71)
C Disallowed Goal: (78)

(1st) Busan 2 - 0 Suwon (6th)
2-0: Hwang (33, 57)

(13th) Jeonbuk 0 - 1 Busan (1st)
0-1: Rivero (42)

(1st) Busan 2 - 0 Seoul (5th)
2-0: Kang (85), Jung Sun-Ho (90+4)

(2nd) Daegu 1 - 1 Busan (1st)
0-1: Hwang (90)
1-1: (90+1)

(1st) Busan 6 - 0 Daejeon (11th)
B Disallowed Goal: Rivero (4)
4-0: Rivero (41, 45+2), Yoo Jin-Sung (45), Jeon (55)
D Second Yellow: (72)
6-0: Own Goal (73), Jeon (90+4)

(8th) Ulsan 0 - 1 Busan (1st)
0-1: Hwang (7)
B Knock, Down To 10 Men: Yoon (83)

(1st) Busan 0 - 0 Pohang (6th)

(13th) Seongnam 1 - 0 Busan (1st)
1-0: (14)

(1st) Busan 0 - 0 Gwangju (3rd)

(5th) Incheon 2 - 0 Busan (1st)
2-0: (18 seconds, 15)

We restarted the league season with 6 clean sheets in a row, 9 in the first 10.

I wanted to dominate the league this season (no heart-destroying last-second close calls in the playoffs like last time) and that's happening. Our opposition sometimes don't get a shot, while my attackers need just one at any time. Even severely weakened sides of mostly youngsters are getting results.

We break the league record for longest unbeaten run, and continue it by beating Daejeon a record 6-0 for a second time this season. We confirm top spot with 4 games to spare for bragging rights.

But a goalkeeping mistake from Jang Min-Suk in the 24th of our 26 league games meant we lost 1-0 and wouldn't go unbeaten in the league.

giphy.gif

On the final day, I play the system. I needed to rotate players anyway, but in the final game all but 2 of the 13 outfield players were youngsters. Why? If our opponents, Incheon, beat us, they might finish in the last playoff spot... meaning we'd play them at home in the 1-legged semi-final, while they're in the midst of an injury crisis and without their star striker (rather than having to possibly play against a full-strength Incheon over 2 legs of the final, a worrying prospect).

They duly won an easy 2-0, scoring in just 18 seconds, and finished in that playoff spot.


Closing Stage Table

1 - Daegu - 30 points (Seeded playoff place)
---------------------------------------------------------------
2 - Busan - 27 (Already seeded)
(3rd to 14th)


Overall Table

1 - Busan - 60 points (Opening Stage Winners)
2 - Daegu - 52 (Closing Stage Winners)
3 - Seoul - 42 (Playoff place)
4 - Incheon - 41 (Playoff place)
-----------------------------------------------------------
5 - Gwangju - 39
(6th to 14th)

League Record: P26 W18 D6 L2 F52 A11 GD+41 CS19 PTS60

Gwangju were irate, as Incheon needed a win to leapfrog them, but they were conveniently forgetting that they themselves stole a point away to one of our weakened sides earlier in the season.

There isn't as much uproar as you'd expect among the public to our possible playing of the system and effectively drawing our own opponent, as it's expected we'll utterly destroy anyone we play at home.

So we are in the title playoffs, at home against a semi-final opponent of our choosing...
====================================================
 

AFC Champions League

AFC-Champions-League.png

Champions League Quarter-Final

Results
 

Spoiler

(1st, K League 1) Busan 2 - 0 Shanghai United (8th, Chinese Super League)
2-0: Alex (51, 67)

(5th, Chinese Super League) Shanghai United 0 - 0 Busan (1st, K League 1)
SU Disallowed Goal: (79)

Busan win 0-2 on aggregate

The Champions League draw pitted us against the best in Shanghai United, who had won the last two years and last year became the first ever Asian team to reach the Club World Cup final. Their recent form wasn't great though and, while they had only failed to score in 1 of their last 12 games, they also only kept 1 clean sheet in their last 16 games.

International call-ups badly affected our squad more than our opposition. They lost a few key players to China and had injuries and suspensions, but we lost 9 first-team players to the senior South Korea side, including 2 of our 3 keepers and all our wingers and central midfielders. But this is why I made a big squad. We have just enough depth to put out a first team and 3 outfield subs.

With no real wingers, my first thought was to change tactic from 4-4-2 diamond to 4-1-3-2 with attacking central midfielders. But I changed my mind and pushed the old, slow veteran Dusan Tadic into midfield and played Wright out of position on the left.

Dusan-Tadic-551754.jpg

Boy did it work! Shanghai were relieved to have escaped with a 2-0 loss after a Man of the Match performance from the out-of-position Wright and 2 free kick cross assists from Tadic. I told star striker Alex at half-time that he had to be the difference, and then he scored twice.

In the 2nd leg, we both had full-strength sides back, though Shanghai still missing a few players with injury.

I made another big call by changing my #1 keeper. Jang Min-Suk was my #1, but it's hard to judge how he's really performed when sometimes he doesn't have to make a save in the whole match. But Park Ho-Jin had played in tough matches and come out with clean sheets.

mou_thumbs_reuters-454844.jpg

We killed the 2nd leg from the start, Mourinho-style, and neither side scored. Wright again performed out of position on the left, making him a surprise extra left-wing option now. Shanghai did hit the post and had a goal disallowed, but we played so well that I made no substitutions. We had knocked out the back-to-back Asian champions in my first ever knockout round!

Champions League Semi-Final

Results

Spoiler

 

(Saudi Arabia) Al-Ittihad 0 - 1 Busan (1st, K League 1)
0-1: Park Ki-Nam
B Disallowed Goal: Rivero (87)

(1st, K League 1) Busan 3 - 0 Al-Ittihad (Saudi Arabia)
3-0: Tadic (18), Jung (22), Alex (83)

Busan win 4-0 on aggregate.

 

Next in our way was Al-Ittihad of Saudi Arabia. They won 3 Champions Leagues in a row (2004 - 2006), and 2 in a row (2018 - 2019) and were knockout regulars. After the champions, we now had to beat experience. Their squad was much more valuable than Shanghai United's and they had also won all 6 of their group games.

Park scored early and we defended the lead with 8 players behind the ball. With the temperature at 36 Celsius (97 Fahrenheit), this actually favoured us, making the other team work harder and then being able to swap both strikers, particularly with super-sub Rivero coming on. We should've got more goals as everyone else tired. Maybe if I had changed tactics earlier...

With an away goal and playing at home, I altered things a little in the 2nd leg, playing more defensive players and rushing back our key defensive midfielder, knowing that really we would need to score 2 goals, not just 1. Or just keep a clean sheet.

We went 3-0 (agg.) up in just 22 minutes, and we could easily defend an early 3-goal lead while Alex finished them off with a long-range curling missile. Even when we eased off completely, the Arabs didn't take their few clear cut chances and we entered the final on an impressive run...

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

FA Cup

 

Result

Spoiler

(12th, K1) Seongnam 0 - 1 Busan (1st, K1)
0-1: Jeon (45)

We also reached the semis of the FA Cup, which will be played on neutral ground in Seoul.

 

The Quintuple is on...

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Busan 2024 - 7 Matches To Win The Quintuple

Preview - The Season So Far

 

My first full season at the club started with a loss in the Super Cup, but by mid-season we had won a unique 'Simultaneous Double' of a minor domestic (League Cup) and continental (A3 Champions Cup) on the same day.

Now with a month to go, we've finished top of the regular league (and effectively picked our playoff semi-final opponent), won all 6 Champions League group games before eliminating the back-to-back champions and winning the semi 4-0, and are still in the FA Cup.

A 2-legged Champions League final, an FA Cup semi-final and the title playoffs await.

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


Champions League Final, 1st Leg @ Pakhtakor Stadium, Uzbekistan

1200px-Pakhtakor_Markaziy_Stadium.jpg

Our final opponent is Pakhtakor Tashkent of Uzbekistan. This is only their second final (winning in 2011). They won 3 and drew 3 in the group stages, then squeezed past Shenhua in the quarters 1-0 on aggregate. In the semis, they snatched a 2-2 draw away to Esteghlal but quickly won 3-0 in the second leg.

Their unbeaten continental campaign means they're enjoying their longest ever unbeaten continental run.

Meanwhile, our captain Dusan Tadic is injured.

(Uzbekistan) Pakhtakor 0 - 0 Busan (1st, K League 1)

Both sides were lucky not to concede, with a lot of desperate scrambling, making it a frustrating 0-0 for both teams.

Pakhtakor still unbeaten, but we have to destroy them at home.
 

Champions League Final, 2nd Leg @ Busan Asiad Main Stadium, South Korea

No changes from the team that drew 0-0 away. Captain Tadic is on the bench even though he's still injured. Perhaps his presence can help.

All of star striker Alex's potential strike partners are misfiring, so we need Alex to keep going a little longer and score if no one else will.

One of Pakhtakor's strikers is injured, but that may not be a big issue for them.

------------------------------------ Park Ho-Jin ---------------------------
Bae Won-Joon - Bae Sung-wook - Yoo Seung-Hyun - Heo
---------------------------------------- Figo ---------------------------------
Han --------------------------------------------------------------- Jung (c)
---------------------------------------- Shin ---------------------------------
--------------------------- Alex -------------------- Jeon ------------------

First Half

Immediately, Han is injured. With no fit right-wingers, Wright comes on. He played so well out of position on the left, but how will the left-footed midfielder do on the right?

Pakhtakor quickly decide to sit back, which is just what we want. But it's shades of last year's heart attack-inducing K League playoff final: nothing happens.

Tactical tweaks eventually lead to a soft corner, which is cleared away to the flanks, stand-in captain Jung crosses back in, and superstar Brazilian striker Alex heads in to give us the lead as the home crowd roar.

But again it goes quiet until, again, a danger ball can be hit into the area from a set-piece. Substitute Wright's free kick goes into the box and Jung easily heads in the vital second just before half-time.

Second Half

Bae Won-Joon fails to clear properly, with the ball bouncing in the air, and Pakhtakor get a goal back a few minutes into the second half. Next goal wins.

The ball is bouncing around dangerously into both halves of the pitch, but we're getting the real chances. But all it would take is one breakthrough and they win.

Jeon, hero of last season's playoff final, is hauled off after his first shot in 70 minutes goes way over.

Our time-wasting tactics in the last few minutes give Pakhtakor no chance back in. They only had 2 shots in the whole game, just the goal being on target.

The final whistle goes, and the home crowd erupts.

(1st, K League 1) Busan 2 - 1 Pakhtakor (Uzbekistan) (2-1 on agg.)
2-0: Alex (34), Jung Sang-Hoon (44)
2-1: Bakaev (52)

1130238_big-lnd.jpg

After the dramatic last-second then last-minute playoff comeback win last year, now the Busan fans watch their side lift Champions League #2, Busan's first in 38 years, having never even got out the group stage the past few decades. We shock yet again!

Trophy #3.

The annoyance of letting in that goal soon fades upon the realisation of what's been achieved, and that we'll get to experience the Club World Cup next month too!

Alex's goal wins him the Golden Boot outright, with 8 goals in 11(1) appearances. Runner-up with 7 in 9 was Bakaev, who got that goal for Pakhtakor.

Tadic has joint-most assists with 4 in 10(2)

And I am officially no longer a 'talented manager', but a 'legendary manager'.

To top it off, we get a good draw for the first round of the Club World Cup.

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

FA Cup Semi-Final @ Seoul World Cup Stadium

This matchup is also the likely league title playoff final.

(2nd) Daegu 0 - 2 Busan (1st) AET
0-2: Alex (pen 105+2), Tadic (111)

A penalty was followed by the substitute captain's free kick to finally finish it.

Incheon, our league title playoff semi-final opponents, will be pleased it went to extra time.

If we face Daegu in the 2-legged playoff final, it'll be close. We'd need a big result at home, which we didn't get here.

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


K League 1 Title Playoff Semi-final @ Busan Asiad Main Stadium

tenor.gif

Just as I planned as we manufactured them into being our semi opponents: their star striker is still injured, while 4 players are on international duty. They should be in trouble.

Our right winger is injured, but Wright has shown he can play on the wing 'out of position' even better than in his 'natural' position!

Busan 1 - 0 Incheon
1-0: Figo (70)

And Wright duly gets an assist again as we finally break through.

Our attackers are lacking the killer instinct. Again there were some bad shots and hesitation.

 

Title Playoff Final, 1st Leg

Daegu lost at home to Seoul so, even though they're unbeaten in 8 leagues games now, I think we got to the easier opponent. Matches against Daegu had been close (such as that FA Cup semi), but Seoul have lost all 3 meetings with us this season, only scoring 1 and conceding 8 in total. And you can't really beat that...

No changes to my team.

Busan 0 - 0 Seoul
B Disallowed Goal: Jeon (78)

Seoul hit the bar once or twice, while our attacking ineptitude meant it stayed 0-0. Perhaps a more open game away from home will make it easier to score. Alex is booked for diving when he should've taken the shot.
 

Title Playoff Final, 2nd Leg

In the hope of getting the players focused, I tell the media the players will get a win if they play to their best, but that only makes some of them nervous.

Seoul have both centre-backs out with suspension and injury.

I make a few changes, including moving Tadic into midfield and change Alex's strike partner back from Park to Jeon.

------------------------ Park Ho-Jin --------------------------
Cho - Bae Sung-wook - Yoo Seung-Hyun - Bae Won-Joon
---------------------------- Figo ---------------------------------
Tadic (c) ------------------------------------------------------ Jung
---------------------------- Choo --------------------------------
---------------- Alex -------------------- Jeon -----------------

First Half

A bad start for Seoul. One of their strikers gets an early knock, and then their defender fouls Alex the last man. He gets a straight red card, a rarity for even the most violent of fouls over here. Just a few minutes later, Tadic finds Choo in space, and he runs into the area and scores. Beofre half-time, Jeon gets a goal from one of our trademark deadly indirect free kick crosses.

Second Half

Before the hour, Choo rifles a rebound into the corner to end the match for good at 3-0. I take off star striker Alex, captain Tadic and later Choo to avoid injury. But the goals don't stop...

Seoul 0 - 8 Busan (0-8 on agg.)
S Red Card: (8)
0-8: Choo (11, 56), Jeon (43, 90+3), Jung (59), Rivero (63), Park Ki-Nam (68), Wright (82)

We destroyed the record for the biggest K League 1 victory.

The defence didn't mark and the goalkeeper, who was Man of the Match in the first leg, didn't save anything as their team fell apart and ours moved up a gear.

The capital is knocked off their perch by the second city.

Trophy #4.

It's all taken in stride after the drama of last year. All I can do is mention how well the manager at Seoul has done, taking a team from K League 2 to the K League 1 playoff final.

Now an FA Cup final remains and, given the opposition, it threatens to be even more of a bloodbath...

League and Club Records

League record most team goals - 61 goals in 29 games

League record highest average attendance - 37698. Incheon have had the highest attendance for 17 of the last 18 seasons.

League record wins in a row - 9

League record unbeaten games in a row - 26

League equalling games in a row without conceding - 7

Club record games won in a row - 13

Club record games unbeaten - 13 so far

Club record clean sheets in a row - 10

Club record games in a row without scoring - 3!!

Club record most assists in a season - Jeon (14 by the end of the season)

Also our average attendance was 5,000 more than last season (32,603)

4 players are in top 7 league assisters, despite playing 10+ fewer games.

Alex is K League 1 Player of the Year and Foreign Player of the Year

I win K League 1 Manager of the Year again

Tadic, Alex and the 2 centre backs Bae & Yoo are in Team of the Year

Jeon is Young Player of the Year

Alex had K League 1's highest average rating with 7.41

Centre-back Yoo Seung-Hyun was also runner-up for signing of the season.

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


FA Cup Final @ Seoul World Cup Stadium

We face a team who we beat a club record 6-0 this season, TWICE, as well as 2-0 in the League Cup. They escaped relegation in a final day decider, leapfrogging Chunnam with a home victory over them and sending them down instead.

The only change is at right-back. Not that the youngster did a bad job, I just can play either of them and the guy coming in deserves a start. Tadic remains in midfield.

(1st) Busan 5 - 1 Daejeon (13th)
1-0: Alex (22)
1-1: (30)
5-1: Choo (45), Jeon (59, 76), Rivero (68)

The clean sweep of major trophies is achieved after we lift our second ever FA Cup, 2 decades since the first.

League, Champions League, FA Cup, League Cup, even the A3 Champions Cup. I guess that's The Quintuple. Only thing we missed out on is the Super Cup season opener, while a win in the coming Club World Cup would be historic.

And now, one more becomes avilable... the Club World Cup.

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

Club World Cup @ Nissan Stadium, Yokohama (Japan)

9e71df645a1e61a1a8d0cbc41bb2154c.png

Quarter-Final

Enyimba International won their fourth Champions League last year, but were knocked out early this year. They look poor with no standout players. I expect a big win.

Tadic moves back to defence with Wright on right-wing again.

(South Korea) Busan 3 - 0 Enyimba (Nigeria)
3-0: Jeon (2), Own Goal (33), Alex (79)

The strikers were misfiring, only getting one shot out of 4 and one in 5 on target respectively after wild long shots, but they both scored.
 

Semi-Final

Whoever we faced would've been huge favourites, and we get Newcastle United. They won their second Champions League in 4 seasons earlier this year, before Sir Steve McClaren retired a legendary manager. His replacement, Sergio Bueno, has had a bumpy start with the club 5th in the league and squeaking into the Champions League knockouts after 2 late goals a week ago.

To top it off, both of their senior goalkeepers are injured - one is my ex-keeper at Chile, the other my ex-keeper at Young Boys. They start with the Young Boys one, who isn't fit. Please hit shots at him, guys!

Han, our first-choice right-winger, starts after over a month injured. This is the sort of match we need mazy dribbler Shin for as a different attacking option. Choo will have to play a great game.

(South Korea) Busan 1 - 2 Newcastle United (England)
0-1: (19)
1-1: Choo (32)
1-2: (40)

dwight_gayle_celebrates_scoring_the_four

They dominated but were forced to go long range. They eventually scored from a rebound from a counter-attack of a counter-attack.

I threw everything into attack and down the flanks, and that's how we got the lead back through Choo himself.

I then said to go back to counter-attacking, but that just meant they could cross it in and their stronger players could win the headers and retake the lead.

We went back to attack and had several chances, while they didn't have many.

It was my error in playing defensive, hoping not to get caught by being too attacking. Instead we should've stuck with attack.

Club Tigres Mochis do what we should've done and upset their South American opponents with a penalty shootout win, but it won't be the first ever Club World Cup final (excluding the 2000 precursor) without a European side.
 

3rd Place Playoff

For this one I'll let others have a game. This might be their only chance to experience a Club World Cup.

Racing Club have won 2 of the last 4 Copa Libertadores and 4 of the last 6 league titles. They're not close to Newcastle's strength but are still the favourites.

sergio-romero.jpg

We'll have to score past 1-club man Sergio Romero, who has been at the club for 22 years (and counting) since joining as a youth.

(Argentina) Racing Club 2 - 1 Busan (South Korea)
1-0: (22)
RC Disallowed Goal: (26)
2-0: (35)
2-1: Park (89)

Newcastle got an easy 2-0 win over Los Mochis to win their 2nd Club World Cup.

The prize money from finishing 4th in the Club World Cup (£925k) is slightly more than the prize money we got for winning everything but the Super Cup this season.

Unsurprisingly, I'm honoured to win Asian Manager of the Year.
 

Epilogue

2508516_orig.jpg

After all these achievements, who knows what happens next? The only thing left is the Club World Cup, and that is just 3 matches at the end of a whole year, assuming we even win the Champions League to qualify. We can assume we're going to storm through all domestic trophies. Busan is a great city, but it would get a bit boring.

With my standing so high, it would be smart to strike while the iron's hot and take a huge club job next if one were offered, rather than an interesting smaller one. Aim high.
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 08/05/2016 at 03:55, git2thachoppa said:

Happy to provide screenshots. I suspect nothing particularly eventful will be happening in my own career yet, and who knows how long it'll last so make the most of it. This is a bit of experiment as I've loaded every player and league. I was trying to figure how much was too much when setting up the game, then I thought well I may as well load it all and if it dies I'll know it's too much! :lol:

As long as it lasts until the 2014 Spanish World Cup, because that'll be when I start creating faux Match of the Day intro videos (as the hosts will be different and the real intros too specific). I've already done a rough version, and I can say it definitely helps the immersion!

You asked for Bale in your original post, if you still want him here he is:

sBMHtFa.png

He's a left back and competent or unconvincing at left wing back, left midfield, centre back and right back. He did just as well last season in the Premier League than in the Championship; he made 7 assists in 26 games, I suspect from set pieces. Blackburn, Watford and Celtic had their eye on him in the transfer window, but haven't gone for him yet.

Long shots just 9/ Ludacris

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 09/07/2018 at 15:26, Ispoa said:

Long shots just 9/ Ludacris

Well he was only 19 years old. He scored a free kick or two after that. Though he was more of an assist machine.

I was going to put an update on Bale in reply but he's retired from football completely, so I can't see his profile. But I can root around and see there are some similarities. He:


Club

- Was Southampton's top assister in the Premier League in 2007/08 with 7 assists.

24A870CE00000578-2907823-image-m-4_14211

- Moved to London... but to Premier League champions Arsenal, for £2.5m in summer 2010.

- Won his first Champions League with them in the greatest Champions League final of all time in the same season, then again 2 years later, as well as 3 league titles in a row (as part of the club's 6 in a row).

- Moved to Premier League champions Liverpool for £23m in summer of 2014, but only won a League Cup.

- Was their top assister in his debut season with 12, and again the next season with 13.

- Moved to Madrid... Atlético Madrid for £9m in January 2019.

- Was their top assister in his full debut season (2019/20) with 9.

- Was sold to Premier League Coventry despite this, on deadline day of summer 2020 for £3.1m.

- Yet again was top assister in his debut season, with 10.

- He retired at the end of 2024/25. He was Coventry's oldest player to play a game in each of their last 3 seasons, his final game being away to Leicester in April 2025 at the age of 35 years and 279 days.


Country

-  Bale led Wales to 4 straight Euros (2008 - 2020), including a quarter-final, and the second round of the 2014 World Cup.

5183288.jpg?display=1&htype=0&type=respo

- His highlight being scoring the free-kick that gave Wales a 1-0 lead in the Euros group stage helping them to an historic 2-1 victory over Italy in Euro 2020.

Portugal-v-Wales-Euro-2016-semi-finals.j

- He became Wales' most capped player in his final game with 93 caps, retiring after Chris Coleman's side failed to qualify for Euro 2024.

Edited by git2thachoppa

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Busan 2024 - Squad Review

While winning The Quintuple in the 2024 season, it was clear we can get domestic results even playing youngsters and backups. So from now I'm not going to keep senior players who aren't Champions League calibre, and I'm only going to sign that calibre of player.

*Only current senior squad players are included, as 16 reserve and youth played 70 games altogether


GK

21. Jang Min-Suk - 23 years old, South Korea (1 cap) - valued at £850k - Played 34(1), Conceded 21, Clean Sheets 20, Man of the Match 1, Average Rating 6.94.
22. Park Ho-Jin - 21, SK - £625k - P 26, Conc 10, CS 18, MotM 4, AvR 7.38
1. Yoo Soon-Ki - 30, SK - £275k - P 5, Conc 4, CS 3, AvR 6.40

Of my 2 new signings, Jang started as my #1 after a good season in the league last year.

Park got games in the summer League Cup, though made mistakes. It's hard to be judged as good or bad when you might face 0 shots in a game but, as the season went on, Park stood out making saves and was picked for the Champions League knockouts, keeping clean sheets until he conceded a goal in the final's second leg.

Yoo wanted to move, but there were no takers until the end of the season.

In
Jang - Gwangju (K League 1) - £850k
Park
- BTC (K League 2) - £625k

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

DR

5. Dusan Tadic (Captain) - D/MR - 36, Serbia / naturalised SK (2 caps) - £2k - P 28(8), Goals 4, Assists 11, AvR 7.17
2. Son Dong-Woo - 29, SK (1 goal in 9 caps) - £70k - P 24(1), G 1, A 5, MotM 2, AvR 7.28
18. Cho Ki-Yong - DM, MC, D/MR - 23, SK (U21) - £825k - P 8(3), A 1, AvR 7.18
+ Bae Won-Joon

Dusan+Tadic+Southampton+vs+Manchester+Ci

Despite being old and having no pace, Tadic's leadership made him the most important player, and he still performed.

Cho earned promotion to the senior side and played in the league title playoff final. His versatility means I can sell a couple of defensive players.

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


DL

17. Bae Won-Joon - DR/L/C - 23, SK (U21) - £825k - P 40(3), A 5, MotM 1, AvR 7.09
3. Heo Dae-Ryoon - D/WBL - 24, SK (U21) - £200k - P 27(10), A 2, MotM 1, AvR 7.03

Bae is the defensive Nigel Winterburn option, while Heo is the attacking Ashley Cole option. Heo lacks strength, but that hasn't affected his performances in the big continental games.

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


DC

26. Bae Sung-Wook - DC/DM/MC - 31, SK (U21) - £575k - P 46(1), MotM 6, AvR 7.40
6. Yoo Seung-Hyun - DC/DM/MC - 26, SK (U21) - £350k - P 40(2), G 3, MotM 7, AvR 7.45
4. Luis Rivera - DC/DM/MC - 31, Panama (42 caps) - £625k - P 26(6), A 2, MotM 2, AvR 7.09
20. Nam Hong-Kyoo - 24, SK (U21) - £26k - P 7, A 1, MotM 2, AvR 7.71
+ Bae Won-Joon

After struggling for years, Yoo signing for Busan was a surprise to others. But I saw one of the best tacklers around who was impossible to beat in the air. He became my most impressive signing, and his 'Bayou' partnership with Bae (Bae - Yoo!) was the key to dominating teams. If we can score 3 and you can't score 1, we'll probably win. That neither have earned an international cap yet is shocking.

Rivera wanted to move, but none materialised. He's very good, but I'm desperate to move him to free up a foreigner spot.

Nam's first-team average rating of 7.71 tells you why he was promoted back to the senior squad at the end of the season, though his attributes tell the opposite story. Let's see how he does next season.

In
Yoo - Daejeon (K League 1) - £170k

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


M/AMR

15. Han Dae-Sung - 25, SK (1 goal in 10 caps) - £650k - P 31(1), G 2, A 12, MotM 2, AvR 7.19
9. Yoo Jin-Sung - MR/ST - 22, SK (5 goals in 5 caps) - £1m - P 21(8), G 5, A 5, MotM 1, AvR 6.93
+ Cho, Tadic

Yoo was ineffective after being so good last season. He's still young, but not good enough for Asia if he doesn't improve. With a right-winger my top transfer target, he faces falling down the pecking order if he doesn't buck up his ideas.

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


M/AML

7. Park Yoon-Tae - 29, SK (U21) - £110k - P 26(8), G 4, A 7, AvR 7.00
19. Jung Sang-Hoon - 25, SK (5 caps) - £275k - P 20(3), G 3, A 4, MotM 1, AvR 7.17

Park chips in, but he lacks the physical strength for continental football and will be sold.

Jung's season was disrupted by injury, but he got a goal and assist as captain in the Champions League final second leg, before another goal in the playoff final, and 2 assists in the FA Cup final!

I've been planning on bringing another former Valenciennes player over here for some time, Ljajic, who plays on both wings. He should be a huge boon if he comes.

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


DM/MC

12. Figo - 35, SK (8 caps) - £475k - P 25(3), G 2, A 3, MotM 2, AvR 7.39
13. Kang Jong-Soo - 28, SK (U21) - P 18(7), G 4, A 2, MotM 2, AvR 7.08
16. Kim Dong-Jin - 25, SK (2 goals in 4 caps) - £1.1m - P 18(3), AvR 7.05
+ Bae Sung-Wook, Cho Ki-Yong, Choo Se-Joo, Rivera, Wright, Yoo Seung-Hyun, Yoon Bit-Garam

The defensive midfield position has the most options.

Figo is the all-round player who is both best at defending and attacking.

Kang is the attacking option, so he usually plays at home.

Kim is the defensive option, however I felt he wasn't strong enough. After just a year, I'm selling him for a profit, as we have so many players that can play as an ultra-defensive midfielder.

(This is also the position with the #12 and #16 shirts, which I forgot were retired...)

In
Kim - Suwon (K League 1) - £1.1m

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


AMC

14. Shin Suk-Keun - 21, SK (U21) - £1m - P 31(6), G 13, A 4, MotM 3, AvR 7.41
35. Choo Se-Joo - MC/AMC - 21, SK (U21) - £350k - P 16(6), G 7, A 5, MotM 2, AvR 7.23
23. José Wright - AMC/MC - 35, Costa Rica / naturalised SK - £2k - P 15(18), G 2, A 9, MotM 2, AvR 6.94
8. Yoon Bit-Garam - DM/MC/AMC - 34, SK (1 goal in 40 caps) - £4k - P 12(5), G 3, AvR 6.82

Shin had a great season, his 18+ Dribbling, First Touch, Technique, Finishing and Passing attributes allowed him to him make some mazy runs ending in a goal. When direct football and counter-attacking doesn't work, he provides another option, though he fell out of form at the end of the season.

Choo burst on the scene in the summer League Cup, getting 2 goals and 4 assists in 7(1) games, earning promotion to the senior side. He went on to score 2 in the playoff final and another in the FA Cup final and World Club Cup semi-final, filling in for the injured Shin in a big way.

Wright was an old backup in his last season, but then he filled in fantastically at left wing, despite it being completely out of position. In the Champions League final, he had to come on straight away as a right-winger yet made an assist, before scoring again and making 2 assists as a second-half sub in the playoff final. Has definitely earned an extension.

Yoon had no such renaissance and will move on.

In
Choo - Suwon (K League 1) - £20k

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


ST

25. Jeon Jin-Man - DC/ST - 23, SK (2 goals in 4 caps) - £875k - P 35(10), G 16, A 14, MotM 4, AvR 7.18
24. Alex - 24, Brazil (U19) / Italy - £2.6m - P 34(6), G 21, A 10, MotM 3, AvR 7.40
28. Rafael Rivero - 28, Venezuela (U21) - £1m - P 15(24), G 18, A 4, MotM 4, AvR 7.03
27. Hwang Chul-Min - 26, SK (7 goals in 21 caps) - £900k - P 19(9), G 10, A 7, AvR 7.00
11. Park Ki-Nam - 31, SK (4 goals in 15 caps) - £220k - P 18(8), G 8, A 5, AvR 6.73
10. Kim Sung-Ho - 30, SK (2 goals in 9 caps) - £1.4m - P 7(1), G 5, A 1, AvR 6.88
46. Lee Jae-Young - 30, SK (8 goals in 22 caps) - £550k - P 4(1), A 1, AvR 6.60
+ Yoo Jin-Sung

neymar_10.jpg

Last season's hero Jeon and super striker Alex had more subdued seasons, but knock-ons and rebounds still provided assists. Alex was Busan Fans' Player of the Year, while Jeon hit lethal form at the end with 5 goals and 3 assists in the playoff and FA Cup finals and the Club World Cup.

Rivero had great runs where he wouldn't stop scoring. He was particularly good as a super sub. What he lacks in the air he makes up for with movement off the ball that splits tired defences open. He had more goals than starts!

Free transfer Hwang has moments, but I think he lacks something, particularly physical strength. He can get goals, but often doesn't, so there's no reason for him to stay.

Long-time Busan goalscorer Kim wanted to move, but it looked like it wasn't going to happen and he got some games, scoring as he usually does. But in August, a club from Portugal's top league finally brought him on loan. He got 2 goals on his debut, a goal and a red card 15 minutes into his 2nd game, then scored a few more in his next few games.

Lee returned to Busan after 1-and-a-half years in Turkey to fanfare and the pleasure of the commercial director, but also with a broken leg. Next season will decide his future.

In
Rivero - Seongnam (K League 1) - £900k
Hwang - Incheon (K League 1) - Free (out of contract)
Lee - Gazisehir Gaziantep (Turkish Super Lig) - Free (out of contract)

Out
Vítor - Alemannia Aachen (German Bundesliga) - £325k
Kim - Vitória (Portuguese Primeira Liga) - Loan

Edited by git2thachoppa

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Busan 2025 - The End

3df068e4d7cd6f044110f945baa5a9c0_1519269

February - March: Pre-Season, Super Cup

Results

Spoiler

Friendly

Busan 0 - 1 Central All-Star Team
0-1: (43)

Super Cup @ Busan Asiad Main Stadium

(League and FA Cup winner) Busan 5 - 1 Seoul (League runner-up)
3-0: Alex (9), Own Goal (27), Jeon (55)
3-1: (63)
5-1: Tadic (69), Yoo Jin-Sung (90+2)

Friendly

(2nd, Chinese Super League) Shandong Luneng Taishan 3 - 2 Busan (1st, K League 1)
0-2: Olsson (9), Rivera (12)
3-2: (44, 85), Cho Ki-Yong Own Goal (55)

After winning The Quintuple, with a superstar Brazilian striker and hoovering up the best Korean talent, things were going to get boring from here. Even if I used reserves, we would win most domestic games. I was happy to stay for now, but I forewarned the board that I would probably want to go to Europe by the mid-season summer, when big jobs became available.

There were many enticing jobs already, like Rangers in Scotland and Charleroi in Belgium (a club with Iranian connections). But my unique success had made me hot property, so I waited for one of the elite European jobs.

Transfer business was a hassle.

My original target's (ex-Valenciennes winger Ljajic) free transfer from Atlético Madrid was cancelled due to Rivera not agreeing terms to move elsewhere. The board wouldn't let me release him for £400k to free up a foreigner spot, so Ljajic moved to Anderlecht. So instead of £400k for Ljajic now, we later spent £3.8m on young Swedish international Olsson from Valencia. Try figuring that budgeting logic out.

Incheon played hardball with my other target, striker/winger Park Young-Il, trying to get a trade. After several months, they finally agreed to sell him for an internal K League record of £3.7m (but only after he scored against us again).

Meanwhile, several players asked to move for a new challenge, with super-sub foreigner Rivero moving to Maccabi Haifa for £1.5m.

busan-ipark-fc-celebrate-with-the-trophy

Olsson got a hat-trick of assists on his debut in the Super Cup win, as we completed a clean sweep of domestic trophies.

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

busan-south-korea-aerial-view-night-7990

March - June: K League 1, FA Cup, League Cup

Results
 

Spoiler

K League 1

(Predicted 1st) Busan 2 - 1 Incheon (Pred. 4th)
0-1: (9)
2-1: Yoo Jin-Sung (61), Alex (pen 85)

(Pred. 14th) Jeonbuk 0 - 1 Busan (Pred. 1st)
0-1: Lee (9)
Busan Missed Penalty: Wright (68)

(Pred. 1st) Busan 5 - 1 KHNP (Pred. 8th)
0-1: KHNP (6)
5-1: Park Ki-Nam (19, 30), Bae Won-Joon (28), Alex (36), Lee (77)

(Pred. 11th) Ulsan 1 - 2 Busan (Pred. 1st)
1-0: (33)
1-2: Park Ki-Nam (36), Choo (45)

(Pred. 2nd) Daegu 0 - 1 Busan (Pred. 1st)
0-1: Park Ki-Nam (29)

(Pred. 13th) Hummel 1 - 0 Busan (Pred. 1st)
1-0: (21)

(2nd) Busan 3 - 0 Gangneung City (12th)
2-0: Alex (pen 33, 48)
GC Red Cards: (59), (71)
3-0: Wright (89)

FA Cup

(Pred. 10th, K League 2) Ulsan Hyundai Mipo Dockyard 0 - 1 Busan (1st, K League 1)
0-1: Alex (29)

K League 1

(14th) Seongnam 0 - 0 Busan (1st)

(1st) Busan 3 - 1 Daejeon (5th)
2-0: Alex (2), Shin (29)
2-1: (37)
3-1: Alex (71)

(5th) Gwangju 0 - 4 Busan (1st)
4-0: Alex (3, 44, 84), Own Goal (45+2)
Busan Knock, Down To 10 men: Park Kyung-Hwan (85)

(1st) Busan 3 - 1 Pohang (3rd)
1-0: Alex (pen 36)
1-1: (53)
3-1: Park Young-Il (75), Alex (77)

League Cup

Busan 1 - 0 KHNP
1-0: Wright (30)

K League 1

(5th) Seoul 2 - 2 Busan (1st)
0-1: Shin (26)
1-1: (38)
1-2: Park Young-Il (57)
2-2: (86)

League Cup

Busan 2 - 0 Incheon
2-0: Alex (10), Jung (53)

K League 1

(1st) Busan 1 - 1 Suwon (5th)
1-0: Alex (65)
1-1: (76)

League Cup

Ulsan 1 - 2 Busan
0-1: Lee (12)
1-1: (14)
1-2: Lee (32)

Jeonbuk 1 - 1 Busan
1-0: (11)
1-1: Tadic (pen 27)

Busan 3 - 0 Suwon
3-0: Alex (10, 21), Jeon (15)

Daegu 0 - 2 Busan
0-2: Yoo Seung-Hyun (10), Alex (70)
D Missed Penalty: (90+2)

Hummel 2 - 2 Busan
2-0: (29), (44)
2-2: Alex (67, 90+3)

Opening Stage Table

1 - Busan - 30 (Seeded Home Playoff Spot)
2 - Incheon - 26
(3rd to 14th)

League Record So Far: P13 W9 D3 L1 F29 A9 GD+18 CS5 Pts30

A second-string XI suffered a shock loss to newly-promoted Hummel (who were 12/1 to win), so an unbeaten season won't happen. They nearly beat us again in the League Cup, but Alex scored 3 minutes after coming on and got a last-minute equaliser.

Form and performances were patchy, but individuals stepped up like Alex. Lee came on as a first half sub in one match and made all 3 assists by winning a penalty, having his shot pushed into Alex, and then winning a free kick.

I changed tactics, stretching players wide and speeding things up, and telling the AMC to get into the area as a 3rd striker, and things improved greatly.

When right-winger/striker Park Young-Il arrived, right-winger/striker Yoo Jin-Sung thought he was being replaced. But instead I played them both, having them swap positions. They became a threatening double-act that defences couldn't handle.

We once again won the first seeded playoff place, with effectively a game in hand over Incheon, whose 5-game win streak ended with 2 draws after their star striker Park joined us.

Alex was off to a good start as the league's top scorer with 12 goals in 11(1) games. New signing Park Young-Il was joint-2nd with 8 in 13 (2 in 4 for us).

Alemao.jpg

New winger Olsson topped the assist chart with 6 in 10.

We broke another record, this time for longest unbeaten run in the League Cup.

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

June: See You When I Retire

In May, a manager announced his retirement, and my heart jumped. I applied, not waiting for an approach. It took over a month for the club to start approaching candidates, but I was one.

What most impressed them at interview was my desire to overhaul the club. There had been a takeover at the club last season, so the new chairman was thinking the same thing.

The squad is old, stale and underperforming, even the staff are nearly all from the glory 90s/00s era (a few joined in the 80s!), and the last few seasons relied on defence as average attendances fell. This is a club with such a tradition in youth and exciting football, but there's no youngsters breaking through and the team only scored in 2 of their final 9 matches.

Perhaps they could do with a manager who most famously took a 4k-rated youngster on the way out, played him, and later sold him for £6.5m. Someone who won everything last season with fast-paced football and goals galore.

It was only a few days later that they offered me the job.

I said goodbye to the players. Alex, the Brazilian who I took under my wing at Valenciennes and then Busan, where he destroyed all with 54 goals in 63(11) games, semi-joked "take me with you, boss".

Needless to say, after The Quintuple, I leave the club with a great squad with depth. Their biggest challenge will be holding on to players, as the next manager is Korean and not as big a name. But for the past 9 years he took a club from relegation to the Champions League, thanks to back-to-back FA Cup wins, and a high of 4th in the league, so he's good.

But I leave Busan. At least until I retire or have a hiatus.

52578453-cherry-blossoms-sakura-at-night

Edited by git2thachoppa

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

2024/25 Club Football Recap
 

Biggest Transfers

Elia Luciani (AMRL/MRL, Italian, 27) - Atlético to Chelsea - £32.5m
*Juan Latorre (DMC/DR/MRC, Uruguayan, 28) - Juventus to Atlético - £15m + £14m-rated player
*Ferdinando Citterio (ST, Italian, 27) - Atlético to Juventus - (See above)
Richard Morris (DR, English, 26) - Man City to Newcastle Utd - £22.5m
Ferenc Balogh (DM/MC, Hungarian, 27) - Barcelona to Real Madrid - £18.75m
Colin Huckle (DR/C/L, English, 24) - Inter Milan to Man City - £18.25m
 

FIFA World Player of the Year

Paulo became the first ever winner to not play in Europe. The 26-year-old Brazilian striker has only won 3 caps and still plays in Brazil after moving from Fluminense to Corinthians the day after winning the end-of-year award. He scored an unspectacular 28 goals in 50 games. An Englishman was runner-up, so it was probably a conspiracy.
 

UEFA Champions League

Champions-League.jpg

article-2584755-1C6DF01D00000578-995_634

9 years after winning his first with the club, David Moyes finally won his 2nd Champions League with Bayern Munich by beating AC Milan 1-0 in Lisbon, after knocking out last year's winner Newcastle United and runner-up Arsenal along the way.

Liverpool reached the furthest they ever had since winning the cup 20 years ago, reaching the semis. But Yury Vergeichik's team were undone by AC Milan in the second leg thanks to a first half elbow and red card.


England

England.jpg

Premier League

It was expected that the retirement of Newcastle United's long-term manager and the greatest ever English manager in history, Sir Steve McClaren, would see Newcastle United in transition under new manager Sergio Bueno... but instead, they won the title in April and finished 18 points ahead of 2nd-placed Arsenal.

Similarly, Chelsea were unaffected by long-term manager José Mourinho's move to Real Madrid last year. New manager Valter Bonacina guided the club to their third 4th-place finish in the last 4 seasons, as well as a Europa League final and FA Cup semi-final.

mike-newell_1504608c.jpg

Mike Newell experienced once again the lack of gratitude in football. His latest miracle work was at Sheffield Wednesday, where he took over a recently promoted Premier League side and won them their first FA Cup trophy in nearly a century, then took them to the Europa League semi-final. He was sacked in November with the club bottom of the table, but it proved to be the right choice short-term as new manager Mladen Krstajic immediately moved them up the table, finishing 11th, but 1 point less than 10th-placed Sheffield United. Meanwhile, Newell joined midtable Preston North End a few months later.

Football League and Non-League

Ipswich Town will return to the Premier League after 23 years away after Steve Pott's side won the Championship Playoffs.

Lincoln City will be playing in the Championship for the first time in over 60 years after winning their playoffs. Long-time manager Grant Brown has been at the club for 36 years (except a few years in non-league at the end of his playing career) since 1989, and manager for 13 years.

Crawley Town reached the Football League for the first time ever.

Despite winning Conference North side Nuneaton their first FA trophy, as well as getting them promoted (but relegated a few seasons later), Jonathan Woodgate's first management job came to an end after 5-and-a-half seasons.


Spain

Spain.jpg

30C8DBAA00000578-3427122-image-m-14_1454

José Mourinho's first full season at Real Madrid saw them top the table and look on the way to retaining the La Liga title he and they won last season, but they faltered in the second half and Pep Guardiola's Real Betis emerged as challengers. Madrid returned to the top in the final week. But a surprise loss in Murcia meant Betis lifted the title on the final day, Pep's first and Betis' first since their shock win in 2019 under Gordon Strachan.

After spending 12 years at Barcelona, and taking the 6-in-a-row title winners down the table until they were battling relegation, the shamed Hristo Stoichkov ended his time at Kansas City in the MLS to have another go in Spain, joining second-tier promotion challengers Real Oviedo, to their fans' dismay. But he kept their run going, and they won promotion in 3rd after just a season in the second tier.

Ernesto Valverde's third spell in charge of second-tier Athletic Bilbao ended with the club no better off then when he arrived a few years ago.


Scotland

Scotland.jpg

cb321c3c-ebe0-4f65-bc88-9c3a0c61130c.jpg

Les Ferdinand left Championship QPR after 9 years as their manager to join bottom SPL side Dundee. They enjoyed a big new manager bounce, but they soon dropped back to the bottom, relegated while failing to score in 15 of their last 19 league games and away fans not seeing a Dundee goal in 2025 so far.

6768049.jpg?display=1&htype=0&type=respo

Craig Levein left Hearts again after a hugely successful 10-year second spell. He had taken charge of a club that had won their first SPL title in 50 years five years earlier, but had dropped to 5th the season before. He led them to 5 more titles, 2 doubles, and made them Champions League knockout regulars and had kept them top nearly the whole season before leaving for midtable Bundesliga side VfL Bochum this season.

nemanja-vidic-new-signing-for-fc-interna

He was replaced with former Serbia, Man Utd and Juventus defender Nemanja Vidic, who was in his third year at his first managerial job at Linfield of Northern Ireland, and still retained their title by 7 points.


Germany

Germany.jpg

Moyes' Bayern won the Bundesliga in April and by 15 points.

17-10-2004-01-02-2007-mit-dem-frueheren-

Thomas Doll, a member of the season before's big managerial merry-go-round, was sacked by Hamburger SV after just a year due to the twice-in-a-row runner-up floating around 4th/5th, and showing no loyalty to Doll despite him previously spending nearly a decade there as a player, coach and manager. The constantly moving man who dumped Barcelona, Olexiy Mikhailichenko, is his replacement.


Italy

Italy.jpg

The Scudetto went back to AC Milan as Milan's 2 clubs once again finished far ahead of everyone else.

Fellow merry-go-rounder Patrick Collot lasted barely a year as well in the Juventus job and was replaced with former England manager and Genoa failure Lee Stallard.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

2024/25 International Recap

2025 Brazil Confederations Cup

A competition full of shocks saw another new winner, 4 years after South Korea beat Brazil and Uruguay to lift the trophy, and it was Africa's turn this year in mind-boggling fashion.

0ed627ad428810482a86bbe67132d47a3539bcc0

Neil Tovey's South Africa went unbeaten as they beat Copa América winners Brazil 3-0, European Champions Germany 2-1, then beat the world champions Scotland in a penalty shootout, after taking the lead in just 3 minutes.

Kamil Chapula's wildcard entrants Poland (randomly taking a spot due to Brazil taking both the host spot and Copa América champion spot) also surprised, as draws against South Africa and Brazil meant they qualified from their group at the expense of Brazil.

1411971_big-lnd.jpg

With the Confederations Cup now seen as an important test run for teams and managers, not just facilities, Germany's Euro-winning coach Uwe Rosler stepped down after losses to South Africa and Scotland and a draw with Iraq. His replacement is Frank Rost, who relegated midtable Nurnberg before bringing them back up a season later.


2025 CONCACAF Gold Cup

honduras-team-players-celebrate-with-the

Honduras became the 3rd first-time winner in 4 tournaments after beating 2019 winners Costa Rica in an epic penalty shootout that saw 24 penalties, but only 7 scored. Both goalkeepers saved each others' attempts before it looped back to the first penalty takers, and once more Honduras' scored and once more Costa Rica's missed.

xjudelinaveska-730x410.png.pagespeed.ic.

Haiti almost got their biggest result in decades, but a stoppage time goal gave USA an embarrassing 1-0 win against a team that had conceded 15 goals over two legs against the Cayman Islands in their last tie.

bertille-st-clair-trinidad-and-tobago-co

Trinidad & Tobago sacked their manager Bertille St. Clair after a 4-2 loss to El Salvador in the quarters and 21 years in charge. He reached one World Cup in 2006 and one Gold Cup final in 2021.

Jamaica sacked international veteran Ian Goodison after he took them to their lowest ever point. In just 2 years, they failed to get out of the first World Cup qualifying round for only the 2nd time ever (losing to Bermuda 7-1 on aggregate) and now failed to get out the group stage of the Gold Cup for the first time in 4 tournaments. Akeem Priestley's first job after retiring as a player in the MLS will be to replace him and lead his country.


LA 2024 Olympics

CbepJZo.png

After I led Iran Under-23s to their first ever Olympics (as an Under-23 competition), they failed to qualify for the next 2 tournaments. But this year, Iran U23s WON the Olympics in Los Angeles.

They were undefeated for the entire campaign, only conceding one goal in qualifying while beating Australia 2-0 and 4-0. In the Olympics themselves, they drew 1-1 with America before getting 4 more points, beating Cameroon and Chile with 2 clean sheets, then winning on penalties over Mexico in the final after a 2-2 draw in effectively another away game.

A golden generation?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

2025/26 - My New Job of Dreams

A few days into my new job, I'm surveying the training grounds from my office window. A few lads are mucking about. That's fine in small doses, but they're not training properly. I bang on the window hard, they look up in surprise and sheepishly look back down and start passing the ball around properly.

"Eric Harrison used to do that, you know. He'd bang the window just like that."

I turn around in surprise at an unannounced visitor.

"I hope you don't mind a visit, I know how lonely it gets up here."

"Of course not! It's a pleasure."

"Ah no, pleasure's mine. Thought I'd see how you're getting on and have a wee chat."

"Absolutely, take a seat. In fact, here."

I stand up and offer my own seat at my desk.

"Ah no, don't be daft."

"Go on, one more for old time's sake."

"...Oh alright then."

0882be44545385.5815f175ee99d.jpg

"Aye, it still fits."


MANCHESTER UNITED

Manchester_United_09_grande.jpg?v=149803

VNqyWYJ.jpg


Reasons for Choosing

I was at home in Busan, the best city I've been in yet. But after winning the Quintuple, my reputation skyrocketed. The elite clubs became a possible opportunity, and (footballing-wise) Busan would be a bit boring other than the 'now win it back-to-back' challenge.

Also Manchester United is the club I support, so there was no hesitation.

(Well, after I double-checked to make sure they were in good financial health anyway.)


Club History (Pre-2006)

Brian-Kidd.jpg

Traditionally, Man Utd are one of the biggest clubs in Britain and the world. They were the first English club to win the European Cup in 1968, 10 years after the Munich Air Disaster tore Matt Busby's young team apart. After Busby left a year later, United were relegated only a few years afterwards by Man City's ex-United star Denis Law's backheel. United immediately bounced back and became a top-half side until the arrival of Sir Alex Ferguson in 1986.

46-758x505.jpg

'Fergie' overhauled every part of the club on and off the pitch, and consequently they dominated the 1990s and 2000s with exciting, attacking football, also winning England's first 'Treble' in 1999.

One incredible statistic was how they had an academy youth product in every single matchday squad since 1937, well over 3,000 consecutive games.
 

Club History (Post-2006)

Sir%20Alex%20Ferguson%20applaudes%20the%

Fergie announced his retirement (again) in 2008, but the defending league and European champions dropped to their lowest league position since 1991, and his last 2 matches were losses in the FA Cup and Champions League finals.

keane_0.jpg?itok=VltoARvj

He was replaced with his former captain Roy Keane in the first ever managerial swap deal (which saw United assistant Carlos Queiroz replace Keane at Sunderland). Keane was in charge for 13 years as the club struggled to even challenge for the title again while Arsene Wenger's Arsenal dominated. He did lift the 2014/15 title and a few domestic cups, but he was sacked after only winning a Europa League and finishing above 7th once in the last 4 seasons.

Neil_Banfield.jpg

New manager Neil Banfield had an immediate impact, finishing 2nd with 87 points, 3 losses and only 19 goals conceded. A performance that would normally win you the title. However, although they won the Europa League again, they dropped down to 5th, 5th and (last season) 6th.

The academy product record is long gone.

2024 saw a battle to take over the club from the departing Glazer family eventually won by a new consortium, which saw David Gill leave, the bank balance double and the new chairman pay off the debt, however the club is paying this back to him as a loan.


The State of English Football

Steve-McClaren-announced-as-Newcastle-Ma

Arsenal enjoyed 6 titles in a row before suffering themselves when Arsene Wenger retired. They recovered only for Steve McClaren's Newcastle United to challenge their throne. Both clubs have won 16 of the last 18 titles. With McClaren's retirement in 2024, it was thought things would change again. Instead, Newcastle won their 3rd title in 4 years in mid-April, finishing 18 points ahead of everyone else.

Man City, Chelsea (usually) and now Liverpool complete a 'Big 6' (or rather, a 'Big 2' and a 'Slightly Big 4'), though smaller teams tend to break through every now and then such as West Ham, Preston North End and Coventry.


Stadium

Old-Trafford.jpg?fit=600,375

Old Trafford a.k.a. 'The Theatre of Dreams' has been standing for over a century, regularly expanded and modernised. It holds 76,212 people.


Notable New Records

In 2009, Man Utd suffered their most embarrassing moment as they matched their record for biggest defeat, with an 8-1 loss... to Wigan Atheltic (a bottom-half side at the time).

This was only 2 years after winning the title with a record-matching 29 league wins, breaking their own record of 28.


Squad

It's an old squad. Only 2 outfield players are under 27, and half the squad are 30+. The only exciting youth prospects are in goal, with 2 keepers who look immense, including a 21-year-old future England #1.

Yet the players themselves are international regulars, World Cup winners (the Scots), and very talented. It seems more that they've underperformed these last few years, and most of them have been at the club for years.

The 3 signings coming in the summer, arranged before I was hired, are 26, 27 and 28.

Things have got stale, so it's my job to get the veterans playing to a proper standard, and inject some exuberance of youth, especially with a chairman wanting big signings.


Budgets and transfers

Thanks to a new chairman and money, the transfer budget is £50m and a whole lotta wage budget to spare. There is a loan debt to the chairman that costs the club £2.1m per month for the next 20 years. Half a billion total.

Man Utd are the 15th richest club in the world, on the same level as Liverpool and Man City, a bit behind Abramovich's Chelsea and well behind Newcastle and Arsenal.

The only restrictions in England is the work permit. Non-EU players have to have a work permit to play, which requires either being a big name (or prospect) or a regular with a top-70 international side. The player can still be signed if he fails, but he must be loaned out to a club in another EU country (usually Belgium) until he either becomes a citizen of the EU or qualifies for a work permit.


Staff

Many stalwarts of United's glory days have gradually retired as time has passed, including Eric Harrison, Mike Phelan, Tony Coton, Jimmy Ryan and Martin Ferguson, while René Meulensteen left during the Roy Keane era to be assistant elsewhere. But some are still here, and the longest serving are scout Les Kershaw, physio Robert Swire and coach Paul McGuinness who joined when Sir Alex first arrived and have served the club for nearly 40 YEARS now! This does mean almost everyone at the club are either around 60 or 70 years old.

I'm mindful not to disrupt the family atmosphere of the club by ditching some of the old guard completely, but I was hired to be the next Sir Alex Ferguson, to come in and overhaul everything, and it's not great having a load of old men telling you about back in their day. The chairman is keen for a restructuring of the entire coaching setup.

1200px-Brian_McClair_(2017-07-29_img03).

My assistant will be Brian McClair who, except for a 3-year playing spell at Motherwell, has also been at the club for nearly 4 decades.


Contract and Expectations

I'm on a 4-year contract at £13,000 p/w, which is low for this level, but I didn't risk complaining. The board expect a challenge for the title, while the fans' high standards mean they expect their first title in a decade this season. The media predict a 3rd-place finish.

Given the team are finishing 5th and 6th, while averaging only just over a goal per game, ideally I'd like to see the team playing the 'United way' (or indeed my Busan team's way) of attacking football and outscoring the opposition. But I tend to build from a solid defence, with a knack for spotting a top defender, so it'll be interesting to see how this goes. Ultimately, results matter more.

I'll get rid of a few players who won't fit in my way of playing, but I'll give some others 6 months to prove themselves. This isn't a one-season project, and I have the money to buy several players without selling, so I'll make a few additions and then I can make changes in winter if I need to.

If things pick up quickly, I'll want to win a trophy and finish in the Champions League places in my first season. United have only had one Champions League campaign in 5 seasons.

holy-trinity-old-trafford-stadium-manche

With it being nearly 20 years since I first started, the Premier League has changed a lot since 2006. You can expect some deeper coverage, so that you can see where each team is at nowadays.

@HawkAussie
"Wait are we heading to the Netherlands. Properly completely wrong"

Nah it's not Ajax. :D

Edited by git2thachoppa

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 23/08/2018 at 22:42, Nobby_McDonald said:

Oh no, not manure.

In 2025, I don't think they're known as Manure. They haven't been successful enough.

My aim is to get fans back to this bitterness. :D

On 24/08/2018 at 00:31, HawkAussie said:

No not that.

No you weren't thinking of Ajax or "oh no, not Man Utd"?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 23/08/2018 at 23:42, Nobby_McDonald said:

Oh no, not manure.

Billedresultat for biff tannen manure

37 minutes ago, git2thachoppa said:

In 2025, I don't think they're known as Manure. They haven't been successful enough.

My aim is to get fans back to this bitterness. :D

Billedresultat for biff approves

Edited by dllu

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Squad, Transfers and Staff - IN or OUT?

I was tasked with helping overhaul every area of the club, in the hope of ending the sterility and putting United on top like in the Alex Ferguson era. So there was a lot of movement.

Staff

Several staff were moved on, the longest-serving being Paul McGuinness, who joined almost 4 decades ago as a player then coach.

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTGkeTj-ZRVfWFL8BBDniE

Many long-time servants stay. Brian 'Choccy' McClair remains as assistant manager and takes charge of the Under-18s, and he is the longest-serving staff member remaining - he joined as a player in 1987.

3234010528_3274960d5d_z.jpg?zz=1

I bring in John O'Shea as defensive coach. The one-club defender (except 2 loans) made 478 apperances for United (and 78 for Republic of Ireland) before becoming a coach at St. Patrick's Athletic in his home country.

steven-reid-west-brom-1.jpg

Steven Reid, the former R.o.Ireland international and Milwall and Blackburn defender with 500 total league appearances and a World Cup runner-up medal, is promoted from youth team coaching to become a general coach.

Mark Dempsey, a United coach for 30 years now, will manage the reserve team.

I also bring in scouts, a coach and physio from my former clubs and some of the best from elsewhere.

But there was one spot to be filled, and I'm unable to tempt Phil Neville from his assistant job at League One Southend. So I asked around for guys who are in obscurity who should be given a shot and learned of Anthony Allman. He was a player with an unspectacular non-league career who became coach at his last club Ashford Town, but it turns out he can coach absolutely any area except goalkeeping and could've been a top scout too.


Squad + Transfers

I was able to make really good business before the start of the season. Some players will be given a chance, but the transfer window isn't closed yet.

GK - 2 Future World Class Keepers?

1. Khalid Abdulla - 32 years old, Bahrain (40 caps), valued at £3.9m - Aerial Ability 12, Handling 19, Reflexes 12
The only senior goalkeeper, he was finally made #1 under previous manager Banfield, but in the last 3 seasons got average ratings of 6.74, 6.70, and most recently 6.40. When I met him I was shocked that, despite being at United for a decade, his English is still basic. That confirms my decision to sell - Not even good enough to be third-choice.

15. -> 1. Gilles Dupraz - 24, France / Tunisia (4 caps), £3.1m - Aerial Ability 15, Handling 20, Reflexes 19
Technically immense, it might be his mental game that has seen him perform poorly in his short runs here and previously at Toulouse - Could be world class

VBEQpAf.png

24. -> 13. Thomas Butler - 21, England (U21), £6m - Aerial Ability 18, Handling 19, Reflexes 20
Has been at 5 clubs in 5 years, but I won't let him go anywhere. Not only is he incredible technically, but physically too. The only weakness is mentally and with communicating, but he IS 21 - Future England #1

Transfers

So we needed a quality veteran keeper to stand in if the young ones aren't ready yet.

20. Tomi Majava - 35, Finland (84 caps), £1.4m from Atlético Madrid (La Liga) - Aerial Ability 16, Handling 14, Reflexes 20
A surprise. He'd been Atlético's #1 keeper for 8 years until a few years ago, yet the 20 games in the last 2 seasons have been his best with a 7.15 average rating. He also helped Finland to the Euro 2024 final (and 2018 World Cup quarter-final). I told him, as a backup, I could only offer him half the wages he was demanding and make it up in potential bonuses. But he accepted!

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


DR - The Scottish Golden Ball winner

xqElJPL.png

2. John Preston - WB/DR, DC - 31, Scotland (46 caps), £3.9m - Pace 13, Jumping 19, Strength 20, Tackling 20
Golden Ball winner at the 2022 World Cup as Scotland shocked the world, also won the league with Newcastle before moving here - World Class

Transfers

We still needed another right-back, an understudy to learn from the top quality Preston.

12. Souza - SW, DR/C - 27, Brazil / Portugal (2 goals in 30 caps), £13.25m (release clause) from Atlético Madrid (La Liga) - Pace 16, Jumping 20, Strength 18, Tackling 18
One half of Atlético Madrid's Brazilian rock solid 'Souza-Souza' central defensive partnership. His last 2 seasons had average ratings of 7.30, with well over 7.00 in the Champions League, and for country has had years of nearly 8.00 average rating as a right-back for country.

25. Mohammad Ali Rafiei - DR/C - 29, Iran (22 caps), £5.5m from Benfica (Primeira Liga) - Pace 19, Jumping 19, Strength 20, Tackling 18
I didn't plan on signing him, but at only £5.5m I'm getting a younger defender who's had well over 7.00 average ratings in 5 of the past 6 seasons in several major leagues, getting 7.44 last season. His magnificent attributes should make up for the very low Teamwork and Work Rate. He's ineligible for the Europa League this season, however.

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


DL - Aged but experienced

3. David Farley - WB/DL - 34, England (50 caps), £1.4m - Pace 12, Jumping 17, Strength 19, Tackling 20
A former Man City player yet a club favourite for us. He's aging well. Can perhaps fill in as emergency centre-back due to his 20 Decisions and 18 Concentration - May still have a year or 2 in him

5. Martin Hamann - WB/DL, DC - 31, Austria (57 caps), £2.6m - Pace 13, Jumping 19, Strength 18, Tackling 18
Captained Austria to their shock World Cup final appearance in 2018 and is still their captain today. Has played in Ligue 1, Eredivisie and Serie A - Valuable experience

With another top player able to fill in at left wing-back, getting a younger left-back isn't an emergency.

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


DC - The Brick Wall

21. Sasa Andjic - 33, Montenegro (1 goal in 60 caps), £2m - Pace 12, Jumping 18, Strength 15, Tackling 18
A United stalwart for 10 years. He's lacking strength now, but still got a 7.04 average rating last season. Hoping to arrange a testimonial with former club Bayern Munich - A legend who's still delivering

6. Michal Simak - 31, Czech Republic (1 goal in 59 caps), £8.25m - Pace 12, Jumping 17, Strength 15, Tackling 20
Played for 10 clubs in his first 8 years, including Inter, Real Madrid, Juventus, Liverpool, Celtic and Werder Bremen before rejoining Real and then joining United and delivering average ratings of well over 7 in every season so far - Delivers everywhere he goes

19. Arturo Castillo - 27, Mexico (18 caps), £8.75m - Pace 16, Jumping 18, Strength 15, Tackling 16
A new signing who got average ratings of 7.22 then 7.29 in his 2 seasons at Werder Bremen, already a club favourite - An in-form and pacy new signing

+ Darlington, Hamann, King, Preston (+ Rafiei, Souza)

An immense mindboggling amount of experience in defence. No wonder they only conceded 102 goals in the last 152 league games. With a few new younger faces, and one more to come next year, this is our strongest area by far.

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


DM/MC - Weak or Underperforming?

4. James Darlington - DC/DMC/MC - 32, England (15 caps), £4.4m - Pace 14, Jumping 19, Strength 18, Passing 16, Tackling 15
Has been consistently top class, but been used more as a sub the past few seasons - Keep for now, but does he still have it?

8. Castro - MC - 27, Portugal (28 caps), £7m - Jumping 13, Strength 11, Passing 19, Tackling 13
Joined last season after 2 good years in Serie A for Mantova, but his attributes are poor and he had more bad games than good ones - Sold for £7.25m to Ionikos in the Greek top league

19. Julien Dominici - MC - 30, France (6 caps), £4.4m - Jumping 16, Strength 13, Passing 20, Tackling 16
An unspectacular 5 years at United so far, his high passing and creativity is all he has - Sold for £4.7m to Premier League Middlesbrough

6Wr09P5.png

14. Bob Ryan - MC - 28, England (1 cap), £4.9m - Jumping 15, Strength 13, Passing 20, Tackling 13
I'm torn on Ryan, as he has performed on occasions. With the 2 others being sold, and Ryan an Englishman, I'll give him a chance - Keep for now

12. Kevin Wight - MC - 24, Scotland (2 goals in 18 caps), £6.5m - Jumping 14, Strength 16, Passing 16, Tackling 18
Wight is one of the fastest players around with 19 Pace and 18 Acceleration, but there's nothing he can do with it. Central midfield is the position you least need pace. He can't dribble, shoot or cross, and his positioning (11), concentration (9) and decisions (10) are poor - Sold for £5.25m + percentage of next fee to Napoli (Serie A)

17. Derek King - DC/DMC/MC - 29, Scotland (4 goals in 41 caps), £7.75m - Pace 17, Jumping 15, Strength 12, Passing 20, Tackling 18
Another World Cup winner, but hasn't been amazing the past few years and his lack of Strength/Jumping and Positioning (9) is a concern. Has played as centre-back, but I think he'd be better as a midfielder - Worth trying as a midfielder

+ Peres, Pryce (+ Guilbert, Tsotetsi)

A very weak area if the few I kept don't step up. However, we'll likely only need 1 to deliver, as I'll want to play a midfield diamond with 1 attacking midfielder.

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


M/AMR - Not Quite to Standard?

22. Roddy Pressley - WB/M/AMR - 28, Scotland (1 goal in 20 caps) / England, £11m - Pace 14, Jumping 15, Strength 17, Passing 19, Crossing 15
A former City, Newcastle and Arsenal player, but he last played a full season in 2017/18 for Celtic. His debut United season of 20 starts and 0 sub appearances saw an average rating of 6.72 - Might not be good enough

27. Nicky Pryce - AMR/AMC - 30, England (7 caps), £6.75m - Pace 15, Jumping 14, Strength 14, Passing 15, Crossing 7
Has only had one good season in his 5.5 years at United - Out

+ Topic

See Below.

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


M/AML - As Above

7. Steve McIntosh - WB/M/AML - 27, Republic of Ireland (6 goals in 36 caps), £6m - Pace 14, Jumping 17, Strength 18, Passing 16, Crossing 18
Has yet to reach 7+ average rating in his last 4 seasons at United, but I get the feeling I can get him to perform with those attributes. - Might not be good enough, but gives a proper wing-back option opposite Pressley

23. Petar Malinov - 33, Bulgaria (2 goals in 68 caps), £200k - Pace 10, Jumping 15, Strength 16, Passing 20, Crossing 16
Another former City and Liverpool player. Given his age, his 7 years at the club are over - Out

11. Srdjan Topic - M/AML, M/AMR - 26, Bosnia & Herzegovina (22 caps), £9.25m - Pace 16, Jumping 13, Strength 16, Passing 11, Crossing 19
A Champions League winner with Hamburg before moving this summer on a free, but he's only a crosser. He can't win the ball in the air himself, he can't pass it on the floor, and he's a dribbler that can get pushed off the ball - Might be gone after a season

Transfers

I don't rate new signing Topic highly, so at least one new signing on either side might be a good idea.

15. Andy Casey - 19, England (U21), £8m from Preston North End (Premier League) - Pace 15, Jumping 17, Strength 17, Passing 13, Crossing 18
His only run of starts was on loan in League One 2 years ago with an average rating of 6.91, but the Preston boy has a lot of promise with good physical attributes and high technical ones already, including 19 Dribbling. For now, he goes out on loan to relegation-battling Charlton.

(+ Guilbert)

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


AMC - 0.5 Players

+ Peres

Transfers

If I'm going to use this position, I need 1 if not 2 signings.

23. Brian Guilbert - ML/C, AML/C - 28, Australia (9 goals in 35 caps), Loan from Bayern Munich (Bundesliga) (£4.5m value) - Jumping 17, Strength 17, Passing 18, Dribbling 12, Long Shots 14, Finishing 12
He did well for Coventry and Liverpool a few years ago, but has fallen out of favour at Bayern. On loan to Napoli last season, he got 7 average rating in Serie A and scored the rebound of his saved penalty as Napoli knocked out Man Utd in the Europa League. But I don't want to buy him yet. He's almost 29 and I don't know about his attributes, so the option of a loan was no risk.

24. Reginald Tsotetsi - AMC/MC - 21, South Africa (U21), £12.75m from Borussia Mochengladbach (Bundesliga) - Jumping 15, Strength 18, Passing 20, Dribbling 11, Long Shots 14, Finishing 17
He was plucked from his home country for £2.1m by Gladbach a year ago. He only played a few games, but I see a world class passer and a good finisher who just needs a nudge more strength in the air. Could be converted to a striker later.

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


ST - Where is Lara's Successor?

16. Miguel Lara - 33, Colombian (16 goals in 51 caps), £6.75m - Pace 13, Jumping 15, Strength 16, Finishing 18, Off The Ball 17
A United legend, Lara's career took off when he joined 9 years ago, scoring 179 goals so far and averaging 20 a season - Getting old but I've no desire to sell a legend yet

10. Guillaume Peres - AM/FC - 24, France (6 caps), £6.25m - Pace 18, Jumping 17, Strength 19, Finishing 14, Off The Ball 11
Signed on a free from Lyon last year, scored 6 and assisted 4 in 16(11) games in his debut season as a striker. His passing and Creativity is good - Not sure about him, maybe better as an AMC?

18. Joe Adams - 29, Republic of Ireland (22 goals in 41 caps), £15m - Pace 16, Jumping 16, Strength 17, Finishing 14, Off The Ball 18
Scored a whopping 11 international goals in 3 games a few years ago including 6 in an 11-0 win over Andorra - A consistent goalscorer

9. Michael John - 32, England (4 goals in 15 caps), £875k - Pace 12, Jumping 17, Strength 12, Finishing 14, Off The Ball 18
A Barnsley boy who quickly joined West Brom on a free before joining United on another free. His goalscoring exploits is the only thing keeping him in, at times averaging a goal per start - Maybe too old now

11. Franck Touré - 32, Ivory Coast (27 goals in 53 caps), £275k - Pace 9, Jumping 14, Strength 12, Finishing 18, Off The Ball 13
Never became a real regular despite 8 years at the club, and clearly isn't physically up to it now. Requested a transfer, but when I arrived asked to be taken off. I refused - Out

8. Ali Boussoufa - 28, Morocco (12 goals in 24 caps), £11.25m - Pace 9, Jumping 17, Strength 17, Finishing 18, Off The Ball 14
A new summer signing that performed WELL ABOVE 7 average rating in the past few seasons for Lille, and scored 8 in 7 Champions League games 2 seasons ago, but in Ligue 1 never scored more than 12 - New signing had great performances in France, but lacking in goals sometimes?

Transfers

There's a few strikers to try out, but it feels like there's no 20-goals-a-season striker given age. I'd like to make one of my own signings.

26. Neil Sibiya - 22, South Africa (3 goals in 6 caps), £10.5m from Inter Milan (Serie A) - Pace 16, Jumping 16, Strength 19, Finishing 18, Off The Ball 11
His only starts outside Africa was on loan in Italy's Serie C1 2 seasons ago, where he got 19 goals in 32 league games. In this years' Confederations Cup he scored in the 3-0 win over Brazil and against world champions Scotland in the final. He's one for the future, but may deliver in the present.


Youth

This is a short section. There isn't any youth really standing out. We need to reinvigorate the system that brought Champions Leagues with the Busby Babes and Fergie's Fledglings.


Overview

There's already a world class and experienced defence, with potentially 2 world class young keepers.

There are a lot of good strikers, but no GREAT strikers that are getting 20+ league goals a season.

Midfield is the weak area, especially in the centre. A change in formation and players moved to other positions might see a difference.

The squad badly needed 20-somethings to inject some energy and competition. We also need to get back to getting the best kids in and becoming a club that invests in youth. With my additions, some younger faces will create more competition in a sterile environment with a lot of old-timers and long servers of the club.

It's the first step in the long-term journey to getting a conveyor belt going.

Edited by git2thachoppa

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Congratulations for your career and for your perseverance!

And FM07 is probably my favourite FM of all times (still playing it in fact!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Pre-Season and My Premier League Debut

Pre-Season

(9th, Belgian top tier) Royal Antwerp 0 - 0 Man Utd (6th, Premier League)

- A mix of youngsters and first-teamers (excluding those that played in the Confederations Cup) only manage an eventless bore draw.

- New signing Topic is injured in 8 minutes, but only for a few weeks.

- Farley (DL) and Ryan (MC), who was given a free role, made 12 key passes.

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

maxresdefault.jpg

Journalist: "After saying you wanted to bring back the Man Utd of the 90s/00s, did you expect your first game to end 0-0?"

Me: "Hey, it's a friendly. Not only is it a friendly, but it's my first game. Not only that, but it was with a mix of players to gain fitness. You're talking about something that might take a year or two, so let's calm our tits."

Press officer (whispering): "You can't say that."

Me: "He says I can't say 'tits' any more. What year does he think it is, 2018?"

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

(3rd, Conference South) Newport County 1 - 3 Man Utd (6th, PL)
0-1: Darlington (45+1)
1-1: (54)
1-3: Griffiths (62), McIntosh (67)

(24th, Championship) Bury 0 - 2 Man Utd (6th, PL)
0-2: Lara (54), John (59)

Man Utd Reserves 0 - 3 Man Utd
0-3: Adams (12), John (32), Lara (84)

- Right winger Pressley got 8 key passes in 67 minutes.

- Striker Lara got a goal 7 minutes after coming on.

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

The hopes of buying Man City's wonderkid English defender is scuppered as he suddenly refuses to discuss terms, saying he won't move to their city rivals. Who says loyalty is dead?

However I'm able to make some good transfers, as shown in the previous post.

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

Regarding captaincy, I have a team full of captains so, while veteran United striker Lara won't be wearing the armband any more, it will be rotated. I expect to be more of a ceremonial role though with players driving themselves and others on and leaving the tactics and orders to me.

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


Premier League

We're 12-1 to win the title, 3rd-favourites, so best of the rest after Newcastle and Arsenal.

nigel-pearson-211.jpg

With still no word on a replacement manager after Sergio Bueno's retirement, caretaker Nigel Pearson's Newcastle United's defence of the Premier League started with a surprise 1-0 loss away to Sheffield United.

v Tottenham Hotspur (H) @ Old Trafford - 17/8/25

_49509760_tilson2getty.jpg

Steve Tilson is in his 7th season as Spurs manager, taking charge after the midtable club were relegated to the Championship. They've been a yo-yo club since.

Last season United won both games 1-0.

My debut at Old Trafford will be televised.

Team News

I'll play the good old 4-4-2 diamond, but with the central midfielder and full backs pushing more forward than I usually have them. I trust my 2 centre-backs to be able to deal with anything.

I'll start with a slow passing game, with the team slightly narrow and as always closing down often.

Team: Butler; Rafiei, Souza, Castillo, Farley (c); Topic, Ryan, McIntosh; Peres; Sibiya, Lara

I put my faith in 21-year-old Butler in goal. The other youngster (Dupraz) has had a run or 2 in the team before, so I'm going with the one that's yet to be tested.

Defence is picked on pace and fitness, with 3 debutants. They all speak the same language as the defender next to them, so I don't expect miscommunication.

Topic, another debutant plays in midfield, with striker Peres moved back as an AMC.

Up front, I pair my signing Sibiya for his debut, alongside fan favourite Lara.

Farley (captain) and Castillo in defence too means all 3 club favourites are starting. I'm not rocking the boat yet.

I hate that I can only have 5 subs now. Everyone else is made available for the reserve game in 2 days.

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

Journalist: "What do you expect from today's game?"

Me: "I expect a good performance as always and aim for a win in every match. But it's the first game, last season this was a tight game, so we shouldn't expect 5-0 and I hope everyone is realistic. Even if we lose, it's not the end of the world yet."

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

The-teams-walk-out-during-the-Barclays-P

(Predicted 3rd) Man Utd 5 - 0 Tottenham (Pred. 17th)
3-0: Sibiya (7, 20), Own Goal (25)
MU Missed Penalty: Sibiya (32)
5-0: Sibiya (68), Pressley (90+1)

- I promise, I legit wrote that 5-0 before starting the match.

- Sibiya played with cheek and confidence of someone who'd just scored against Brazil and the world champions in the summer. He chipped Spurs' keeper just 7 minutes in, nearly completing his hat-trick in only 31 minutes

- Spurs sat back, but this allowed us to take an early 3-0 lead with the exciting, attacking, passing football I promised.

- I was going to make substitutions after the hour, but held off because we were in a dominant spell... and Sibiya finally scored his 3rd right after.

- The game died off in the last 20 minutes, but in the last few minutes I told them to speed it up and give the fans a goal at the end. Pressley obliged.

- Our keeper made good saves, the defence were iffy but it didn't matter, and everyone else got involved. And no injuries. Everything went perfectly.

4cea2a15fe4b3a7c83567ebc6607136d.jpg

Sir Alex gave a thumbs up next to Sir Bobby, and even the chairman came down to offer excited congratulations.

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

BBC: "You said before the game not to expect 5-0. It was 5-0!"

Me: "It isn't important. I mean yes, it's a win, great performances, I'm happy, but we aren't here to win 1 game, we're here to win 38 games. Opening days don't reflect the end of season. This is just the start, not the peak."

BBC: "What a debut for your signing Sibiya, do you know the last player to score a hat-trick for Man Utd on his debut?"

4829032eb612016d08b9b1d731982303.jpg

Me: "Wayne Rooney, yes! He played with confidence. But again, it's 1 game. He's done very well, enjoy it, congratulations, but keep focused for the next game and for the rest of the season."

BBC: "Well he had a great game, so what more are you looking for from him?"

Me: (Pause) "...A hat-trick every match." *laughs evilly and walks off*

lel1.gif

@Federico Congratulations for your career and for your perseverance!

And FM07 is probably my favourite FM of all times (still playing it in fact!)

Thank you. Your love and kind comments keep me going. I calculate there's at least 40 years left before the game stops saving and I therefore retire/die so we're a third of the way there!

Edited by git2thachoppa

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

August 2025 - Deadline Day Panic Buying!

Featuring Vince McMahon himself.

Premier League

v Leicester City (A) @ Leicester City Stadium - 23/8/25

walkers_stadium02.jpg

Leciester, another yo-yo club, have 4 points out of 6 so far.

United got 4 points from them last season, but they're the slight favourites today.

Team News

They'd beat us on the wings, so I''m changing from 4-4-2 diamond to 3-5-2. The wingers are removed and put in as an extra man in central defence and central midfield, and the full-backs become wing-backs.

The midfield 4 (2 WB + 2 CM) are all from the British Isles.

Tsotetsi makes his first start. Boussoufa also makes his debut, having to follow on from Sibiya's opening hat trick, but it'll be a tough day for the strikers today.

Team: Butler; Souza, Rafiei, Hamann; Pressley, King (c), Ryan, McIntosh; Tsotetsi; Boussoufa, Sibiya

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

(Pred. 11th) Leicester 1 - 0 Man Utd (Pred. 3rd)
1-0: (46)

- An equal game but we had control of the first half. They managed to squeeze a goal in, we couldn't.

- Boussoufa reacted angrily to being substituted.

- Rafiei was the best player.
 

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

I'm having trouble shifting the remaining players I'm trying to sell, so I have to make do with loaning out former #1 keeper Abdulla out on loan to Real Betis with a future £3m fee.

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


v Chelsea (A) @ Stamford Bridge - 27/8/25

stamford-bridge-at-night-1068x580.jpg

José Mourinho left a second time after nearly a decade to manage Real Madrid, but Valter Bonacina has kept them a top 4 side so far.

The last 4 matches between the clubs have ended in draws. Chelsea have lost their 2 games this season 2-1, albiet away to Arsenal and Man City.

Team News

We go back to a 4-4-2.

After this game, only Preston and Andjic won't have played yet.

Team: Butler; Rafiei, Souza, Simak, Hamann; Topic, Darlington (c), McIntosh; Guilbert; Sibiya, John

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

(Pred. 5th) Chelsea 1 - 0 Man Utd (Pred. 3rd)
1-0: (37)
C Disallowed Goal: (76)

- Diabolical performance. Only 3 key passes (by defenders!), 2 shots, 1 on target.

- We had a penalty appeal turned down.

In the press conference, I say it wasn't the 2 results that worried me, but the performances. We created nothing against Chelsea, and had no real chance in either match. I reveal that I'd planned on reassessing in the January window but, after these 2 losses, it looks like we'll have to bring in players now rather than lose half a season.

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


MAN UTD SEND SHOCKWAVES WITH HUGE DEADLINE DAY DEALS

 

t9bScLe.gif

United fans were giddy and shirt sales through the roof as the manager's warning of more transfers came to shocking fruition.

6zdseqS.gif

It started with the signing of striker Eric Kanu from Inter Milan for a whopping £29.5m. This breaks Inter's record for highest fee received (slightly more than Real Madrid paid Inter for Ronaldo in 2002) and is on a par with Man Utd's record transfer for Rio Ferdinand from Leeds United a month earlier. He will join up with new United striker Sibiya, who was only bought from Inter himself for £10.5m a few weeks ago and scored a hat-trick on his debut, the first Utd player to do so since Wayne Rooney in 2004.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Eric Kanu - 28, Nigeria (30 goals in 41 caps) / England, £29.5 from Inter Milan (Serie A) - Pace 16, Jumping 17, Strength 14, Finishing 20, Off The Ball 16

An Arsenal youth product that moved to Chelsea, Sporting, Real Madrid and then Inter in the space of 5 years. Last season he scored 15 league goals and 5 in Europe.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

3ZPFFuh.gif

As well as Celtic's out-of-contract 17-year-old defender Peter Peppers, United sensationally snatched 23-year-old Brazilian striker Santos from champions Newcastle United after the club were unable to convince him to renew his contract. It's estimated a future tribunal will set the compensation fee at only £3m, 4 years after Newcastle spent £12.5m for him.

Notably, in this transfer window United have now signed one half of Atlético's Brazilian Souza-Souza defensive partnership (the Portuguese international, not the Brazilian international) and one half of Newcastle's potential Brazilian Santos-Santos strike partnership (the Brazilian international, not the Portuguese international)!

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Santos - 23, Brazil (1 goal in 10 caps), £3m (compensation) from Newcastle United (Premier League) - Pace 18, Jumping 15, Strength 19, Finishing 19, Off The Ball 17

20 in First Touch, high Technique, mentally strong and determined, physically fit. He made his debut for Brazil at only 21, and got 12 goals and 7 assists in 32(20) league games for Newcastle. Incredible value. The Geordies are fuming!
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

hd7rC6V.gif

It was still morning when United signed another Brazilian from another Milan club: Champions League-winning midfielder Anderson (pronounced 'UHnderson').

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Anderson - AMC, M/AML - 30, Brazil (2 goals in 35 caps), £4.7m from AC Milan (Serie A) - Pace 12, Jumping 18, Strength 18, Passing 17, Crossing 19, Dribbling 19, Long Shots 20, Finishing 15

Anderson is a serial winner who'll provide real threat down the left.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

There had been rumours of yet more moves, but these were reliant on players being sold first. However United have been unable to move on any more transfer-listed players since the initial flurry when the new manager arrived.

Still, this makes it 13 new signings plus 1 loan and brings spending this window to nearly £100m.

b6fyd3w.gif

Edited by git2thachoppa

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

September 2025 - Europa League, Sheffield United, Preston North End

With the window out of the way, I overhauled the club affiliates and partnerships.

Links remain with:

Bury (League 1) - Local partnership
Royal Antwerp (Belgian top division) - EU passports
Red Star Belgrade (Serbia SuperLiga) - Scouting knowledge and to loan out players
OB (Danish Superliga) - Scouting knowledge and to loan out players
Bnei Yehuda (Israeli Premier League) - Scouting knowledge and to loan out players
Querétaro (Mexican top division) - Scouting knowledge
Xanthi (Greek second tier) - Scouting knowledge

Links are cancelled with Newport County (Conference South), Pohang Steelers (K League 1, South Korea), Ocean Boys (Nigeria), ES Tunis (Tunisia), Parramatta (Australia) and Cianorte (Série C, Brazil).

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

1503873730_786701_1503874667_noticia_nor

A disastrous summer for defending champions Newcastle United saw the managerless side lose to Sheffield United, draw with Charlton, and need 2 stoppage time goals to beat Preston. Then they only spent £3.3m on 2 senior transfers (one a free) and had a player stolen by Man Utd. But they finally have a new manager: Marcelino García Toral, the former Real Madrid manager who won 9 titles including 6 in a row, La Decima, and a few more trophies in 14 years.

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

For the Europa League squad, I leave young current #2/3 keeper Dupraz out in favour of experienced Majava, since the other 2 keepers in the squad are very young. 10-year veteran defender Andjic has to be left out for now. Iranian defender Rafiei is ineligible. My deadline day signings are too late to be registered until after the group stage.

Europa League - First Round, Leg 1

v FC Haka (A) @ Tehtaan kenttä - 11/9/25

1200px-Tehtaan_kentt%C3%A4_2012.jpg

The Finnish champions have never reached the group stage, losing both legs to TNS last campaign 2 seasons ago. They lost both legs of their Champions League tie this season to Lens 2-0 each. Should be a simple win over 2 legs.

Team News

With a tough game at Sheffield United in just 3 days, it's good we're playing a weak team. With injuries and inelligible players, the team mostly picks itself anyway.

Team: Butler; Souza, Castillo, Simak, Farley; Topic, Darlington (c), Topic; Guilbert; Boussoufa, Lara

On matchday, it's a huge storm. A downpour and a gale. But the match goes ahead in front of a capacity 6,400 crowd for the biggest match in their history.

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

(7th, Finnish top tier) FC Haka 1 - 3 Man Utd (Pred. 3rd, Premier League)
0-3: Lara (5, 25), Boussoufa (28)
1-3: (60)

- The ball couldn't move at all in the pools of water covering the muddy pitch. But it was clear that, on a nicer day in Manchester (don't hear that often!), the team will run rings around them.

- The goal conceded by Haka's one shot on target is disappointing and the keeper, Butler, will now be dropped after 3 games without a clean sheet.

- 18-year-old reserve Hampson came on at half time and the right-wing-back did well.

- Centre-back Simak was injured in the storm and is out for 2 months.

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


Premier League

v Sheffield United (A) @ Bramall Lane - 14/9/25

bramall-lane-sheffield-united-fc-1418468

A bottom-half but stable club who reached the Europa League final 2 seasons ago, only to be beaten on penalties by... Manchester United. However, they've beaten Newcastle and Middlesbrough at home 1-0 already, and in the last 4 league meetings the away team hasn't scored. This makes Sheffield United slight favourites after our 2 away losses.

Team News

Dupraz comes in as keeper, Anderson and Santos make their debuts. Kanu is on the bench - the only thing he lacks is strength, and it's a strong defence.

Team: Dupraz; Souza, Rafiei, Castillo, McIntosh; Topic, Ryan (c), Anderson; Tsotetsi; Sibiya, Santos

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

(Pred. 10th) Sheffield United 1 - 2 Man Utd (Pred. 3rd)
0-1: Sibiya (31)
1-1: (41)
1-2: Sibiya (47)
MU Missed Penalty: Sibiya (90+5)

- Luck and panic in the defence gave us the lead, but Dupraz going too far out gave them an equaliser.

- Rafiei escaped with a yellow for an elbow to the face and will be warned. (Additional note: ****, I forgot to warn him)

- Kanu came on in the 74th minute and was about to score in stoppage time, but he was offside.

- In the 94th minute, Kanu went on a run through the defence but was fouled in the area before he could finish.

- For the 2nd penalty in a row, Sibiya failed to complete his hat-trick from the spot. He won't be taking any important penalties again!

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

v Preston North End (H) - 20/9/25

medium_9841df675655affb1e16d6f52881f09f.

Preston are Premier League mainstays, in their 12th season in a row in the top tier. Frank Lampard even guided them to Europe, before they ruthlessly sacked him. After Sheffield United did the same, he left football disillusioned, and football lost a future great manager.

1088341-1125714448.jpg?itok=c52LHeo4

Today I face off against Mike Newell who, after Sir Steve McClaren retired (and excluding myself), is the best English manager in football. After getting Palace and West Brom promoted to the Premier League (the latter reaching a Europa League semi-final) and Sheffield Wednesday to a Europa League semi-final as well after winning the FA Cup, he begins his first full season in charge of Preston.

The home side has won the last 5 meetings, with 4 clean sheets.

Team News

I finally get to see Scottish World Cup champion and Golden Ball winner Preston in action.

Team: Dupraz; Preston, Rafiei, Castillo, McIntosh; Topic, Ryan (c), Anderson; Tsotetsi; Sibiya, Santos

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

(Pred. 3rd) Man Utd 2 - 2 Preston North End (Pred. 13th)
2-0: Topic (44), Sibiya (54)
2-2: (61), (75)
PNE Red Card: (90+2)

- Anderson had a knock after 2 minutes, so was subbed off.

- We were a frightening threaten, with 2 chances in the 6-yard box being saved.

- Rafiei got another early yellow card and was subbed off after 55 minutes at 2-0 up.

- Dupraz again came out and gave the opposition an open goal. Now he's dropped harder than Butler was. Butler will be back for the next game.

- Another mistake, Castillo's, led to the equaliser.

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

mourinhoclean.jpg

Q: "What is your reaction to your players after throwing away a 2-0 lead?"

A: "I shouted at them. Mistakes aren't done on purpose, but complacency is. Old Trafford should be a fortress. We should've been more than 2-0 ahead, so that even idiotic backpasses and goalkeeper positioning shouldn't have been a problem."

Q: "One goalkeeper is 21 years old, the other playing today is 24. Is age a problem?"

A: "Yes, but that wasn't inexperience or immaturity, it was stupidity. I told him now and only now: if you play like that, you cannot play for Manchester United. Do you want to be a Schmeichel / van der Sar, or do you want to be a Barthez? Barthez was great but, at the level we want to be at, you cannot be a crazy funny keeper who wants to be a midfielder."

Q: "Will that come with age?"

A: "No it comes with training. We have a good coach, we have a European Championship finalist and trophy-winning goalkeeper who has been in the game for decades. If you cannot learn from them to not go wandering, then you never will."

Q: "So do you have a goalkeeping problem?"

A: "This is precisely why I signed Majava. If the youngsters aren't ready, he's such an experienced keeper, I'm sure he will be ready. But I don't want to talk about just the goalkeeper. I shouted at the whole team. Sibiya has started so well but he still should've scored more. Maybe it just needs time, but today the entire team were... this is pre-recorded?"

Q: "...Yes we'll be replaying it on Match of the Day and Five Live."

A: "They were all bellends. Thank you."

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

Europa League - First Round, 2nd Leg

v FC Haka (H) - 25/9/25

Haka lost their last 2 league games before today, so everything is going against them.

They need to score 3+ goals at Old Trafford to turn it around, which would be one of the most historic nights in football.

Team News

I'm playing a weak side, so change to a 4-1-2-3 to shoehorn in all the backup and youth players.

Butler is back in goal. If he doesn't **** up, he stays. If he does, the experienced Majava becomes #1. He shouldn't even be tested today.

The full backs are young reserves, including Hampson who did well in the 1st leg.

Team: Butler; Hampson, Darlington, Castillo, Griffin; King (c); Tsotetsi, Guilbert; Boussoufa, Adams, Lara

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

(11th, EPL) Man Utd 3 - 0 FC Haka (6th, Finnish top tier)
(6-1 agg.)
3-0: Boussoufa (66, 76, 83)

- Close saves and a lot of off-target shots meant we didn't score in the first half.

- Another injury within a few minutes meant a change to a more normal 4-1-3-2. Topic came on and made an assist for Boussoufa's first.

- Boussoufa finished his hat-trick with a rocket outside the area and then a free-kick.

- Haka had 0 shots on target.

We qualify for the group stage.

Edited by git2thachoppa

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

September/October 2025 - Charlton, Liverpool, Europa League

In an early title deciding clash between the Big 2, Arsenal thrashed defending champions Newcastle 3-0 at the Emirates.

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

Premier League

v Charlton (A) @ The Valley - 28/9/25

Charlton%20Athletic%20Football%20Stadium

Charlton are yet another yo-yo club who have gone straight to the bottom of the football league and straight back up. Relegated from the Premier League in 2007, within 10 years they were in League Two. Only 5 years later, after a change in chairman, they were back in the Premier League. They were immediately relegated again, but were back under Damian Roden after 2 seasons away.

They're off to a bad start: they haven't won yet this season (6 games), though got a 0-0 draw at home to runaway champions Newcastle. However they just lost 6-0 to Tottenham, who we beat 5-0. 11-0 then?

Team News

I'm not risking hot-headed Rafiei for the Liverpool game, so he starts today.

Team: Butler; Rafiei, Andjic, Castillo, McIntosh; Topic, Darlington (c), Anderson; Guilbert; Santos, Lara

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

(20th) Charlton 0 - 2 Man Utd (11th)
0-2: Lara (7), Santos (45 + 1)

- Charlton controlled most of the game, but we were always threatening and they were wasteful.

- Santos made a dribble into the area and scored from the tightest possible angle for his first ever goal for United, which wins Goal of the Month.

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


v Liverpool (H) - RIVALS - 1/10/25

Manchester-United-vs-Liverpool.jpg

Man Utd and Liverpool are now in the same boat. After a decade or 2 of success, both teams are former greats who have won only 1 title since their glory eras at about the same time: Liverpool won in 2014, Utd won in 2015. With two 11th-place finishes in a row, they hired Yuri Vergeichik 4 years ago. They haven't finished below 5th since and reached the Champions League semis last season.

The home side has failed to scored in 4 of the last 8 meetings between the two sides. Liverpool have kept a clean sheet in 5 of their 7 league games this season.

Team News

Liverpool play a 5-3-2. Even though they score goals and keep clean sheets, they seem to leave the flanks and the central midfield mostly free. So I'm going to experiment with a 3-3-1-3.

An unheard-of formation in the world today, but it looks like I only need one player on each flank, so I can put an extra man in both defence and attack. 3 defenders to deal with their front 2, a midfielder and wing-backs for their 3 midfielders, 1 free attacking midfielder and a talented front 3 of new signings in Sibiya, Santos and Kanu to trouble their back 3.

Team: Butler; Preston, Castillo, Andjic; Pressley, McIntosh; Ryan (c); Tsotetsi; Kanu, Sibiya, Santos

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

(7th) Man Utd 1 - 0 Liverpool (2nd)
1-0: Ryan (9)

- Central midfielder Ryan scored 30 yards out with a memorable goal

- The tactics worked perfectly and it should've been at least 2-0, but their goalkeeper was Man of the Match. They only had a couple chances, while Santos alone had 8 shots.

£30m signing Kanu is out for 2 months with injury, so the star signing won't be scoring his 1st goal any time soon.

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


Europa League - Group G

v C. S. Visé (H) - 16/10/25

Visé finished runner-up in Belgium last season. Under new manager Peter Maes, they were knocked out by Chelsea in the Champions League qualifying rounds, though only lost 2-1 on aggregate. This is their first time in the group stage.

Team News

Visé are forced to give a debut to their 16-year-old keeper.

Team: Butler; Pressley, Preston, Castillo, Farley; Topic, Ryan, McIntosh; Peres; Adams (c), Sibiya

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

(6th, EPL) Man Utd 1 - 0 Visé (7th, Belgian top tier)
MU Disallowed Goal: Peres (30)
1-0: Boussoufa (90+1)

- Visé sat back and nearly escaped with the 0-0 win they aimed for.

- Shots and headers went wildly over the bar. 16 shots, 8 on target.

- The goal came from one of my trademark indirect free kicks.

In the other group game, Dynamo Dresden succeeded where Visé failed and got a surprise 0-0 draw at home to PSV.

Edited by git2thachoppa

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

October 2025 - Blackburn and Arsenal

Premier League

v Blackburn Rovers (H) - 19/10/25

skysports-danny-graham-blackburn-man-uni

Yet another yo-yo club, Rovers won the Championship last year to get promoted. This season, in 10 games, Rovers have failed to score in 6 and only kept 1 clean sheet. It may seem an easy game, but these two clubs met last season in the FA Cup and Blackburn won 4-1 at home.

Team: Butler; Pressley, Preston, Castillo, Farley; Topic, Ryan (c), Anderson; Tsotetsi; Sibiya, Boussoufa

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

(8th) Man Utd 2 - 0 Blackburn (17th)
MU Red Card: Preston (41)
BR Second Yellow: (55)
2-0: Pressley (56), Boussoufa (74)
BR Red Card: (81)

- It was just like our last game, against Visé, with our opponents sitting back for a 0-0. We were dominating even when down to 10 men, in a match that saw 3 sending offs, and once again we scored from an indirect free kick.

- Anderson drew 12 fouls on the left wing, including 8 from the Rovers right-back Taylor, who was sent off after 2 yellows in 2 minutes. The resulting free kick from Anderson is what opened the scoring.

- Boussoufa earned a start and scored his 6th goal in 3(2) games.

- In 15 minutes as a sub, Santos had 5 shots, 3 on target. He makes chances, even if he doesn't score them yet.

- The chairman was pleased with the win.

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

League Cup - 3rd Round

v Blackburn Rovers (A) @ Ewood Park

0_k3wkv7d0.jpg?itok=LD5tFNk8

As if the world was secretly run by a Football Manager game, 'coincidentally' play the same team in our next cup tie. As before, we're favourites, but Blackburn won the same cup tie last season 4-1.

Team News

I believe it was former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson himself who began the idea of the League Cup being a competition for youngsters and reserves, as he began mastering the art of rotation which eventually led to the Treble of 1999. With that in mind, I'll start 35-year-old backup Majava in goal. He's yet to make his debut, while youngster backup Dupraz played half of last season and has played a couple this season already.

2 youngsters are picked at left-back and centre-back, with defensive midfielder Darlington out of position at right-back too due to youngster Hampson being on loan now. Pryce, who I tried to sell, make his first appearance under me.

Team: Majava; Darlington, Andjic, Pepper, Griffin; Pryce, King (c), Guilbert; Peres; Adams, Lara

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

(17th, EPL) Blackburn 0 - 2 Man Utd (5th)
BR Disallowed Goal: (28)
0-2: Lara (90+2), Adams (90+4)

- This really is like the old Man Utd. Again, goals in the final minutes earn a win, though after a poor display.

- Under-18 defender Peter Pepper (yes I know), who I snatched out-of-contract from Celtic, made his senior debut and was one of the better performers.

- Majava made several good saves and always looked like keeping a clean sheet.

- It's the 6th clean sheet in a row (though 4 of those were against teams sitting back).

All League Two and One teams have been eliminated from the cup.

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

Premier League

v Arsenal (A) @ Emirates Stadium - RIVALS - 25/10/25

emirates-stadium-arsenal-sports-plain-1.

skynews-arsenal-arsene-wenger_4287667.jp

Once Alex Ferguson retired, Arsene Wenger's Arsenal dominated and killed English football even worse than Fergie ever did. They won an unprecedented 6 Premier Leagues in a row, winning 2 Champions Leagues along with those last 3 titles, a run that immediately ended once Wenger retired in 2013.

5497620-michael-afvikler-forretninger---

His replacement, Javier Aguirre, lasted only 1 year after dropping to 5th and was replaced by Michael Laudrup, who is now in his 11th season. Laudrup steered Arsenal back to the top with a few more titles and trophies, but Sir Steve McClaren's Newcastle overtook them. Laudrup did win a 4th title a couple of seasons ago, but he has also lost 4 Champions League finals.

Arsenal are unbeaten so far in the league this season.

In the last 5 meetings, the away team hasn't scored.

Team News

Arsenal have such physically strong players, but they play 4-2-3-1 so us playing 3 centre-backs would be a waste of 1 player. Instead, I'll play a quick and strong centre-back (Rafiei) and the other will add experience (Simak). Boussoufa's goalscoring exploits means he starts alongside the other new guy making a great start, Sibiya.

Team: Butler; Preston, Rafiei, Simak, McIntosh; Pressley, Ryan (c), Anderson; Tsotetsi; Boussoufa, Sibiya

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

(4th) Arsenal 4 - 3 Man Utd (5th)
0-1: Pressley (4)
1-1: (13)
1-2: Sibiya (26)
MU Goal Disallowed Boussoufa (45+1)
2-2: (60)
A injury, down to 10 men: (64)
2-3: Sibiya (70)
4-3: Preston Own Goal (75), (90)
MU injury, down to 10 men: Ryan (90+5)

- An action-packed and bizarre game that will hopefully become a rarity as I build a squad through the years.

- We took the lead 3 times through set pieces, only to lose to 10 men.

- Arsenal dominated the start, getting 9 shots in the first 13 minutes. But eventually we took control.

- Our 1st goal came from a throw-in routine, the 2nd from a long throw that got knocked over their keeper and Sibiya squeezed it in, the 3rd was a direct free kick.

- Boussoufa's goal was correctly ruled offside.

- We had several chances in the last 10 minutes so could've won still.

- Despite 4 goals conceded, Butler (GK) had a good game and was the reason why it wasn't worse.

The result wasn't down to any really bad performances, the squad just isn't there yet. Arsenal are a strong team and were once a behemoth, but mine is currently an unspectacular team with an experienced defence and a rookie goalkeeper.

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

Bob Ryan's long-range winner against Liverpool unsurprisingly wins Goal of the Month.

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

5a1a20a1-2708-4947-954f-0771d3093d95.jpg

My former club Busan IPark successfully defended their (and my) Champions League. The final was effectively over after they got an impressive 3-0 away win against Iranian giants Persepolis, winning 4-0 on aggregate.
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

November 2025 - Man City, Southampton (Guarín??) and Norwich

Premier League

v Manchester City (H) - RIVALS - 2/11/25

man-utd-man-city-classics_3287328.jpg?20

The 2 clubs are in a tight battle to be declared the #1 team in Manchester. Both have won a few cups (City being the current FA Cup holders but United winning the Europa League 2 seasons ago), though City have finished a few places above United the past 2 seasons and haven't lost a derby in 4 years (P8, W5, D3).

xxl.jpg

Since 2016, during Thomas Doll's reign, City established themselves as a top 4 side. They dropped to 6th and 7th in Doll's final years, but then finished 3rd twice in a row under Erwin Koeman. Koeman retired at the end of last season and was replaced with Slobodan Drapic. He has just won Manager of the Month, so hopefully the curse will hit instantly.

They are also top of the table currently, their only loss coming away to Newcastle. They've kept 5 clean sheets in a row.

It'll be a tough derby.

Team News

It's about utilising experience today.

Young goalkeeper Butler is injured. Dupraz has been playing for the reserves, and his last match was conceding 3 goals against City reserves. So the experienced Majava will start.

As well as an experienced European Championship runner-up in goal, it's an over-30s central defence of Preston (World Cup and Golden Ball winner) and Hamann (World Cup runner-up).

Central midfielder Ryan scored a Goal of the Month winner against Liverpool, but he's injured, so it's fellow Briton King's chance.

Team: Majava; Rafiei, Preston, Hamann, Farley; Pressley, King (c), McIntosh; Peres; Boussoufa, Sibiya

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

(8th) Man Utd 1 - 0 Man City (1st)
MU Disallowed Goal: Sibiya (17)
1-0: McIntosh (34)

- Our goal was just offside, as McIntosh was behind the goalkeeper.

- It should've been a lot more, City went inside their shell, but it just wouldn't go in again.

- Sibiya nicked the ball off their keeper outside his area, but his shot to goal hit the post.

- Farley's (DL) bad marking gave their right winger a couple of one-on-ones.

But it's another win, another clean sheet, and another hated rival beaten.

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


League Cup - 4th Round

v Southampton (H) - 5/11/25

Southampton are a yo-yo Championship side that have been relegated from the Premier League 5 times in 20 years. They were enjoying their longest run in the top tier since 2005 (6 seasons, mostly under current manager Willie Furphy) before being relegated last season.

freddy_guarin.jpg?itok=winF9Saf

Southampton's team include a 39-year-old Freddy Guarín.

Team News

Even though it's the League Cup, the only youngster this time is the substitute goalkeeper (unless you consider 24-year-old starting keeper Dupraz to also be a youngster). It's more about getting other squad players game time.

Team: Dupraz; Rafiei, Simak, Andjic, Hamann; Topic, Darlington, Anderson; Guilbert; Santos, Adams (c)

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

(6th, PL) Man Utd 2 - 0 Southampton (16th, Championship)
2-0: Santos (58), Guilbert (79)

- I told the players they were disappointing after an uneventful first half when we should've been having chances. This fired up some players for the second half.

Thanks to a Championship v Championship tie, 1 Championship team still remains in the competition.

 

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

In the first round of the FA Cup, Eastleigh beat League One Yeovil, who are at least 4 divisions above them, 2-1 at home with a late winner. They've now won every FA Cup match so far 2-1 (they won a replay 2-1...)

Conference South side Hitchin took the lead twice before drawing 2-2 at League One side Tranmere Rovers.

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


Premier League

v Norwich City (H) - 15/11/25

r2jhl14i.jpg

Norwich finally ended their curse last season. Their last 4 promotions to the Premier League (2004, 2007, 2015 and 2022) ended in relegation after just 1 season. They bounced straight back in 2024 under French legend Jean Pierre-Papin, and a win on the final day saw them finish 1 point and 1 place above the relegation zone. Papin left for Malaga and was replaced with Michael Skibbe. Now can they make it to a 3rd season?

They just got their first away win of the season, 2-1 in Middlesbrough.

Team News: Butler; Souza, Preston, Castillo, McIntosh; Pressley, King (c), Anderson; Tsotetsi; Santos, Sibiya

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

(6th) Man Utd 1 - 0 Norwich (17th)
1-0: Pressley (66)
N Red Card: (78)

- Norwich had 2 shots, 0 on target, but were still a bit of a threat. Once more at home, we managed to finally break through the defence.

- Castillo's headed and long ball clearances straight into attack were a real problem for the opposition.

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


This ends a run of 8 home games in 11 matches (or 2 months). No doubt playing a part in getting 9 clean sheets in the last 10 matches.

There are still 3 home games in a row to come after the next 2 away games.
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

November 2025 - Sheffield Wednesday and Europa League

Europa League - Group Stage

v Dynamo Dresden (A) @ Rudolf-Harbig-Stadion - 20/11/25

2421548-50329735-2560-1440.jpg?w=1050

Dresden finally rose back to the Bundesliga in 2023, after bouncing around the 3 divisions below for nearly 3 decades, in Mario Basler's first season.

It didn't end there, as Basler took them to 6th in their first season and thus the Europa League!

And it didn't end there, as Basler then led the team to the Europa League group stage, finished 2nd in the group, and beat Marseille 3-0 at home before a 3-2 aggregate win in the 1st knockout round, before succumbing to Napoli in the round of 16. Not only that, but the likes of Dortmund and Wolfsburg fell as they reached the DFB-Pokal semi-final...

...and then Basler was sacked.

PP_14124_full

They're now managed by Sebastian Plate, who led the team to their first major trophy by winning that semi and then the final, as well as only losing 1 game in 7 and keeping 4 clean sheets in 5 to keep the team up for another season.

This season, they're currently bottom of the Bundesliga with 1 win in 12 and were knocked out of the cup by an amateur side. However, in Europe they got an impressive 0-0 draw at home to PSV and beat Visé away 2-0.

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

Team News

More changes as I won't play my strongest line-up, saving some for the away game in under 3 days.

Team: Majava; Preston, Hamann, Simak, Farley; Topic, Darlington (c), Guilbert; Peres; Boussoufa, Lara

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

(18th, Bundesliga) Dresden 1 - 1 Man Utd (5th, PL)
0-1: Boussoufa (48)
MU Red Card: Hamann (49)
1-1: (59)

- They scored due to tactical confusion. I changed to 3/5 at the back after the red card, but 2 defenders thought they should still be man-marking, leaving a man free.

- Sub Sibiya had a run at goal in the final second, but shot over.

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

Premier League

Sheffield Wednesday (A) @ Hillsborough - 23/11/25

Hillsborough-Stadium.jpg

Wednesday are an established midtable side these days, thanks mainly to Mike Newell, who also led the team to their first trophy in 32 years with the 2023 FA Cup and followed by a Europa League semi-final, where they were beaten by Man Utd.

So of course Newell was sacked in November last season.

maxresdefault.jpg

Under new manager Mladen Krstajic this season, they're 17th, but have kept 4 clean sheets in the last 7 games.

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

Team News

Kanu returns from a 2-month injury to make only his 2nd start since his £29.5m move and partners Sibiya.

Team: Butler; Rafiei, Preston, Souza, Hamann; Pressley, King (c), McIntosh; Anderson; Sibiya, Kanu

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

(17th) Sheff Wed 0 - 2 Man Utd (6th)
0-2: Anderson (45+1), Sibiya (61)

- Kanu didn't last half an hour and was substituted with a knock.

- In the first half alone, Butler had 30 goal kicks, despite only facing a few shots.

- King made both assists.

- Sibiya's goal was another incredible angled shot. 1-on-1 with the keeper, he seemingly dribbled too wide. But, with no other options, he curled an inswinging ball millimetres into the inside of the far post. Insane!

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


Europa League

v Nice (H) - 27/11/25

Nice are a yo-yo club who have spent 2 years in Ligue 2 then 2 years in Ligue 1, back and forth, for 8 years in a row. They finished 6th and won the Coupe de France last season.

Team News

Our strongest available line-up plays, though Adams gets a chance up front.

Team: Majava; Souza, Preston, Simak, Farley; Pressley, Ryan, McIntosh; Tsotetsi; Adams (c), Sibiya

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

AR-160719991.jpg&MaxW=780&imageVersion=1

(4th, PL) Man Utd 6 - 0 Nice (13th, Ligue 1)
2-0: Adams (2), Tsotetsi (8)
N Red Card: (58)
6-0: Sibiya (60), Adams (72, 84), Tsotetsi (74)

- A legendary night of stylish football and a big win, but was actually the 2nd time in 3 years that Man Utd have beaten a French side in the Europa League at Old Trafford 6-0.

- Adams took precisely 1 minute to show why he should start, and had 4 clear cut chances within 8 minutes, scoring that first one as well as having one saved only for Tsotetsi to score from the rebound.

- Nice lost their heads after going down 2-0 early, and one of their players did a Zidane headbutt to get sent off.

- Sibiya scored yet another sensational shot from a narrow angle, after dribbling through 2 players like Maradona. The guy doesn't aim for the corner of the back of the net, he always aims for the inside of the far post!

- Adams' 2nd goal was a diving header from a deflected cross/shot.

- Tsotetsi's 2nd goal was from outside the area.

- Adams not only finished with a hat-trick, but 2 assists.

With a round of games still to go, all 3 qualified teams in the 5-team group have been decided, with us currently top.

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


- To top off the good news, my former club Busan confirmed a league and Champions League double, with a win over Incheon in the semis and brushing aside Seoul in the 2-legged final exactly as last season.

- But Kanu suffers another injury in training and now he's out for up to 2 months. If this keeps up, he'll be a massive waste of money.

- In the 2nd round of the FA Cup, Conference South side Sutton United beat League Two Morecambe 2-1. But result of the round goes to Conference relegation battlers Torquay United, who got a 1-1 draw away to League One title-chasers Woking with a goal in the 1st minute, this despite going down to 10 men in the 27th minute and 9 men in the 55th.

- Our World Cup-winning Scottish defender John Preston won Player of the Month for November after 3 games, 3 clean sheets and three 8-ratings.

53135.jpg

- I have the opportunity to bring back René Meulensteen, one of the best assistants and all-round coaches in the game. Everywhere is his specialty. He left the coaching staff in 2016 to become assistant at Lens, Lyon and now PSV. He was only willing to come back as an assistant though. Brian McClair, my current assistant, didn't have a problem with officially becoming a coach to make way. Although René takes up some of the assistant workload, it's really just a title with so many big experienced names on the staff, and I'll still call on McClair for advice. With the reserves doing badly (3 wins and 6 losses), I replace Dempsey as manager with Meulensteen.

I'm sure everyone will get along.

MAIN-Brian-McClair-tweetmain.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

December 2025 - West Ham + Brom + final Europa League table

Premier League

v West Ham United (H) - RIVALS - 5/12/25

The Hammers are a firmly established midtable Premier League side, only suffering 6 relegations since being promoted in 1958 and always bouncing quickly back up.

GettyImages-993377418.jpg

Since the summer of 2024, they've been managed by the globetrotting Gareth Southgate, who's previously managing in Spain, Germany and the Netherlands as well as England. His first season actually saw West Ham narrowly avoid relegation after failing to win or keep a clean sheet in their last 9 games.

This season they're doing better, with a near equal amount of wins, draws and losses and a goal difference of 0.

Man Utd haven't lost at home to West Ham in 24 years, winning 21 of the 23 matches at Old Trafford, though the last 5 matches (2 at home) have ended with just a 1-0 scoreline.

Team News

With Pressley injured early in the Nice game for 2 months, Nicky Pryce (who I tried to sell in the summer) is promoted back up from the reserves to sit on the bench.

Team: Butler; Rafiei, Souza, Castillo, Farley; Topic, Ryan (c), McIntosh; Tsotetsi; Sibiya, Santos

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

(5th) Man Utd 1 - 0 West Ham (8th)
MU Red Card: Ryan (33)
1-0: Own Goal/Santos (39)

- Ryan was the only player to be sent off for a supposed last-man foul. Another of my players and one of theirs got a yellow for the same situation. I won't bother appealing since we can survive without him in the next game.

- Santos hit a cross or shot that deflected at a right angle off a defender for the goal. Officially it's Santos' goal, but clearly an own goal.

- My team displayed top class game management at the end. Not just time-wasting and running to the corner, but actually getting a couple of corners and throw-ins.

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


v West Bromwich Albion (H) - 6/12/25

1088341-1125714448.jpg?itok=c52LHeo4

After promotion to the Premier League in 2002, West Brom became a yo-yo club until their last promotion in 2013, having hired magician Mike Newell in February of that year. Newell took them to 6th in their second season in the top tier, reaching the FA Cup final and the Europa League quarter-finals the next year, and the Europa semis the year after that. Newell was thanklessly sacked in 2018.

Now an established bottom-half side and managed by former Turkish international Oguz Cetin, they beat Man Utd to win the League Cup in 2024, their first cup in 56 years. They almost won 2 in a row, but lost on penalties to Arsenal in the 2025 final.

As well as the 2024 League Cup final, West Brom actually won the last meeting at Old Trafford 1-0.

Team news

Santos 'scored' against West Ham, but it was a fluke. So, in the quest to find a partner for Sibiya (until Kanu returns), Adams starts and Santos doesn't even make the bench.

Team: Butler; Souza, Preston, Castillo, Hamann; Topic, King (c), McIntosh; Tsotetsi; Sibiya, Adams

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

(2nd) Man Utd 4 - 0 WBA (11th)
4-0: Tsotetsi (35), Adams (48), Sibiya (55, 59)

- Sibiya almost scored a hat trick in 5 minutes but, after a 3rd gift, straight from kick-off, his shot was saved. Is that the 3rd time in just half a season he was a penalty/point blank save from a hat-trick?

- Another board-and-fan-pleasing big victory, with style.

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


Europa League - Group Stage, 5/5

The 3 qualified teams in the 5-team group has already been decided, but not their placement. The team that finishes top will play a 3rd-placed team in the knockouts, while 2nd place faces a Champions League dropout.

v PSV (A) @ Philips Stadion - 11/12/25

trainer-ronald-koeman-attends-a-press-co

The glory days are behind PSV. They won a surprise Champions League in 2009 under Ronald Koeman but last won the league in 2021. The big 3 of Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord is long gone and PSV have only finished in the top 3 once since then.

This is the first time since 2019 that they haven't qualified for the Champions League (via Eredivisie's convoluted European playoff system) and started off in the Europa League. In this group, they've only managed two 0-0 draws, away to the unintimidating Dresden and Visé, but beat Nice 3-0 at home. In fact they've scored 3 goals in 4 of their last 6 home games.

Team News

Normally backup keeper Majava would play, as he did against Dresden and Nice, but I'm starting 21-year-old regular Butler again to give him some more European experience.

The theme of youth continues, as I start an U18 striker who scored in 10 consecutive U18 matches (17 goals) in the past 2 months. 2 youth attackers and a youth defender are on the bench, as I decide to stick with 2 senior centre-backs.

Team: Butler; Souza, Simak, Castillo, Farley; Topic, Darlington (c), Guilbert; Peres; Porter, Boussoufa

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

(10th, Eredivisie) PSV 2 - 0 Man Utd (4th, PL)
2-0: (7), (19)

- Both goals came from deflected crosses, which are impossible to defend against.

- We had chances, but the ball just wouldn't squeeze in.

- All the Under-18 players did ok without making a big impact.

- Topic was injured, so now the only senior right-winger for the next month is the man I tried to sell: 3rd-choice Pryce.


Final Group G Table

1 - PSV - 8
2 - Man Utd - 7
3 - Dresden - 6

----------------------
4 - Visé - 2 (-3 GD)
5 - Nice - 2 (-9 GD)

We draw another Dutch side, NAC Breda, in the 1st knockout round, while the 2nd knockout round will set up a tie with either Luzern of Switzerland or Barcelona.

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


My former club Busan played Boca Juniors in the semis of the Club World Cup and actually dominated, but switched off and lost 1-0 to again fail to reach the final. At least in the 3rd-place playoff, they walloped 10-man African champions Wydad AC by the same scoreline they beat Auckland City in the earlier round: 3-0.
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

December 2025 - The Halfway Point - Boro, Newcastle, Spurs, Coventry

Premier League

v Middlesbrough (A) @ Riverside Stadium - 14/12/25

maxresdefault.jpg

After yo-yoing in the 90s, Middlesbrough have only been relegated from the Premier League twice since promotion in 1998, returning as champions the next season on both occasions.

Paul-Ince-Wolves-Manager-556950.jpg

The midtable side are managed by former United and Boro player Paul Ince. In his 1st season (2023/24), they reached their highest league position in over a decade, finishing 7th. Last season, he took them to the Europa League semis and their first FA Cup final in 28 years.

This season hasn't gone so well in the league. Although they've only conceded 13 goals in 15 league games, they've only scored 9. Though, like United, they finished 2nd in their Europa League group and are still in the League Cup. The last meeting ended with a 3-0 win to Middlesbrough at the Riverside, so Boro fans are hoping to see their first home win in 5 games and 2 months.

Team News

Pryce gets his first league start. The right-winger's destiny-deciding month begins.

Butler; Souza, Simak, Castillo, Farley; Pryce, Ryan, Anderson; Tsotetsi; Sibiya, Adams (c)

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

(17th) Middlesbrough 1 - 0 Man Utd (5th)
1-0: (35)

- An awful display that makes a mockery of early calls that we're title challengers.

- But a two-footed lunge from a Boro player on 11 minutes only got a yellow rather than a red card.

- Dominici, the central midfielder I sold in the summer, got the assist.

- Castillo committed 7 fouls

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


League Cup - Quarter-Finals

v Newcastle United (H) - 17/12/25

I'll properly recap what Newcastle have been up to when we have a competitive match, though if you're a regular you'll know they're 2-time Champions League winners now.

1447408806_667245_1447409074_noticia_nor

For now, it's important to note that they have got back to form under new manager and former Real Madrid boss Marcelino, after an opening day loss away to Sheffield United.

The teams met 2 years ago in the League Cup semis. Newcastle won 2-1 at home but, at Old Trafford, Man Utd turned it around with a 4-1 win.

Team News

#3 keeper Dupraz gets a start, while the defence includes 2 Under-18 players. Pryce continues on the right wing, with Peres in attacking midfield, and both players on the verge of being ousted in the January transfer window.

Dupraz; Lejeune, Rafiei, Ansell, Hamann; Pryce, Darlington (c), Guilbert; Peres; Santos, Boussoufa

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

(6th, PL) Man Utd 1 - 0 Newcastle United (3rd, PL)
NU Red Card: (50)
1-0: Peres (pen 51)

- Newcastle played their best XI and suffer the embarrassment of losing to a second-XI with two 16-year-olds in defence.

- It was like an away game as we were lucky to keep a clean sheet before Peres won a penalty for a shirt pull.

- Santos was busy and had a few chances, but couldn't get the goal he clearly desperately wanted against his former club.

- The 3 Under-18s that played didn't make any real errors, but were definitely weak links.

- Dupraz (GK) won Man of the Match.

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


Premier League

v Tottenham Hotspur (A) @ White Hart Lane - 20/12/25

White-Hart-Lane-2-960x450.jpg

We beat Tottenham 5-0 in my first competitive game, with a Sibiya hat trick.

Since then, the yo-yo club have been somewhat overachieving, a few places above their predicted 17th place. Like us, they reached the League Cup semis a few days ago, but had to go all the way to extra time and penalties before beating Liverpool.

Team: Butler; Souza, Castillo, Simak, McIntosh; Pryce, Ryan, Anderson; Tsotetsi; Sibiya, Adams (c)

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

(13th) Tottenham 2 - 0 Man Utd (6th)
1-0: (7)
MU Second Yellow: Castillo (45+3)
2-0: (54)
TH Disallowed Goal: (56)

- When looking good, we quickly conceded thanks to poor marking by both centre-backs.

- One centre-back is subbed off with a knock, 10 minutes before the other one gets sent off.

- Despite going a man down, we dominated for periods and ultimately had 10 shots on goal, all saved by their MOTM 10/10 keeper.

- As well as a disallowed goal, Spurs had another shot in the back of the net after a whistle blew. It could've been 4-0.

- Pryce got his 3rd yellow card in 6 games.

- Despite a couple of good saves, the goals conceded were very soft, and our shots were relatively easy to stop. My team talk only involves the keeper and strikers, and my disappointment in them.

Castillo comes out after the match and says he's being victimised by referees due to his reputation. Last season he got 8 yellows and 3 reds, and nearly always gets sent off at least once a season. The bookings were harsh, but it was still an awful performance and he's warned to be more careful. He shouldn't have given away the fouls anyway.

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


v Coventry City (A) @ City of Coventry Stadium - 23/12/25

RICOH-ARENA-AERIAL-758x454.jpg

Coventry have become a very steady midtable side since promotion 14 seasons ago. In 19 seasons, they've become cup specialists, reaching 10 semi-finals (including 3 finals) and winning the FA Cup in 2016.

Their manager is Jaime Ordiales, a former Mexico international who played in France 98 at 35 years old. He finally got a job outside Mexico after 12 years at Leon, winning the CONCACAF Champions League in his final year, joining Feyenoord and Hertha Berlin before Coventry in 2023.

Coventry finished 2nd in their Europa League group, and last season they won this tie 2-0.

Team News

This will be a tough game, and now I'm going to concentrate more on defence and not conceding in away games.

Butler got stressed at half time against Spurs, and his form means he's dropped. With both youngsters having dodgy moments, it's time for the mega experienced keeper Majava to start.

Ryan in central midfield is replaced with the more defensive/all-round King.

A couple more changes are made due to the hectic Christmas schedule.

Majava; Souza, Rafiei, Simak, McIntosh; Pryce, King (c), Anderson; Guilbert; Sibiya, Santos

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

(9th) Coventry 1 - 3 Man Utd (6th)
0-2: Guilbert (13), Santos (32)
1-2: (41)
1-3: Santos (45+3)
CC Disallowed Goal: (84)
CC Injury, Down To 10 Men: (88)

- Guilbert scored with an awesome free kick from the corner of the area into the far post. Another free kick near the end hit the woodwork.

- There was mass confusion with their disallowed goal, given for offside to a player who was outside the area and intercepting a clearance. It's presumed the offside was against another player when the initial free kick was taken.

- Majava was confident and reliable, even when taking risks.

- Pryce was busy with interceptions and an assist.

- It was a win that pleased everyone, including the board.

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


Christmas Premier League Table

(20 games played unless otherwise stated)

1 - Man City - 43
2 - Arsenal - 40 (19 games)
3 - Newcastle - 38 (19)
4 - Chelsea - 35 (19)
-----------------------------------------
5 - Man Utd - 34 (17)
-----------------------------------------
6 - Liverpool - 34
7 - Leicester - 29
8 - West Ham - 28
9 - Coventry - 26
10 - Preston - 25
11 - West Brom - 25
12 - Tottenham - 24
13 - Sheffield Utd - 22
14 - Norwich - 22
15 - Sheffield Wed - 21 (19)
16 - Middlesbrough - 19 (17)
17 - Charlton - 19
-----------------------------------------
18 - Portsmouth - 15 (19)
19 - Blackburn - 14
20 - Ipswich - 12 (19)

A shock lead for Man City, who have only conceded 8 goals in 20 games.

Arsenal have scored at least 7 goals more than everyone else, with 36 goals in 19 games.

It looks like the top 5 are the serious title challengers.

Of the newly promoted teams, Blackburn and Ipswich are the bottom 2 sides, with Charlton also fighting relegation.

Sibiya was leading the goalscoring charts with 11 goals in 16 league games, but he's been overtaken by Man City's Germany striker Tino Schupp with 12 in 19.
 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

December 2025 to January 2026 - Struggles against Chelsea, behemoths Newcastle and... Port Vale?!

Premier League

v Chelsea (H) - 26/12/25

bonacina.jpeg

Valter Bonacina's side are performing fine since we first met this season, currently 4th as well as getting 5 wins and 1 draw in the Champions League group stage.

They've kept 4 clean sheets in a row in the league, though all at home, and just beat Arsenal 3-0. However they haven't won in 4 away league games either.

Earlier this season we lost 1-0 while barely threatening, though we had a penalty appeal turned down and they had a goal disallowed. This was before the deadline day signings of Kanu, Santos and Anderson - the latter 2 are playing today.

Team News

Since we're at home, Ryan is back in central midfield as a more attacking option.

4-3-1-2: Majava; Souza, Rafiei, Simak, McIntosh; Pryce, Ryan (c), Anderson; Tsotetsi; Santos, Sibiya

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

(5th) Man Utd 0 - 0 Chelsea (4th)

- Chelsea sat back and got the point they came for.

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


v Newcastle United (A) @ St James' Park - 30/12/25

st-james-hero-image.jpg

JS65736586.jpg

The best team in England. Thanks to Sir Steve McClaren, the sleeping giants woke up, winning 6 league titles, 2 Champions Leagues, 2 FA Cups and 2 Club World Cups in the last 9 seasons. McClaren retired in 2024 and was replaced for a season by the retiring Sergio Bueno. Rather than stutter, they stormed to the title 18 points ahead of everyone else.

1503873730_786701_1503874667_noticia_nor

Afterwards was more of a shambles. They effectively missed out on a transfer window while trying to find a replacement, and caretaker boss Nigel Pearson had a bad start. Eventually though, fans were delighted as they announced that they hired former Real Madrid boss Marcelino García Toral in September. They only lost 2 of their 16 league games since, but have just now suffered their 3rd loss, 1-0 in Preston, which also ended a run of scoring in 11 games in a row.

Newcastle also suffered an embarrassing loss at Old Trafford 2 weeks ago, as our reserves and youths beat their full-strength side 1-0 in the League Cup. It required a penalty, but Newcastle failed to get anything against a defence consisting of two 16-year-olds and a 3rd-choice 24-year-old keeper. But last season's meeting at St James' Park ended 2-0 to the home side.

4-4-2 Diamond: Majava; Souza, Rafiei, Simak, McIntosh; Pryce, King (c), Anderson; Tsotetsi; Santos, Sibiya
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

(3rd) Newcastle Utd 1 - 0 Man Utd (5th)
NU Disallowed Goal: (39)
1-0: (51)

- Newcastle were destroying us until I moved the wingers into the centre for an advanced 4-1-3-2, then we were playing good football.

- Santos hit all 4 of his shots agonisingly wide against his former club.

- England striker Lawrence scored with 1 of only 2 of his shots on target, the only shots on target Newcastle had.

Newcastle are simply too strong, physically and technically. Plus our big money striker Kanu is injured, as is our Scottish World Cup (and Golden Ball)-winning defender Preston, and we only have 1 fit senior right-winger. (Whom I tried to sell in the summer!)

With this and the coming winter transfer window in mind, I'm left with 2 options:

1) I keep things as they are, hope to sell one or two of the players I'm trying to sell to free up the budget and then maybe get a player or 2.

2) Another major overhaul, selling good and popular players but ones that haven't got games because others are playing there, thus freeing up the budget and making me able to bring in free transfers in the summer.

I go with option 2. Unfortunately, (spoilers) while some players were watched, their wages put off most teams and no one made a move for any of them, so we sold no one of note in the January window.

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

Sibiya wins Young African Player of the Year and is runner-up for African Player of the Year.

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


FA Cup - 3rd Round

v Port Vale (A) @ Vale Park - 3/1/26

2834956.jpg

Port Vale were relegated from the football league in 2009. They then hired former Cambridge United player Michael Kyd that year, who retired due to injury at just 23 years old. After 13-and-a-bit seasons, they were finally promoted and are still in League Two under Kyd.

Team News

It's all backups, youth and players who need a gee-up. On the wings are two Under-18 players: Carter has 14 goals in 16(5) youth and reserve games, Drysdale has 11 assists in 18(7). The formation to get them all playing in their natural positions is a 3-4-1-2.

3-4-1-2: Dupraz; Castillo, Hamann, Farley; Drysdale, Darlington, Guilbert, Carter; Peres; Adams (c), Boussoufa

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

(8th, L2) Port Vale 1 - 1 Man Utd (5th, PL)
0-1: Darlington (61)
1-1: (86)

- Jesus Christ, what is wrong with this team away from home? Controlled the first half, took the lead, then threw it away.

- Only 6 of our 16 shots were on target. We had to score from a corner.

- The only player at fault for their goal was our goalkeeper Dupraz, who was beaten at the near post from an angle.

- So, excluding the youngsters, two good (8/10) players and the subs, my team talk is not nice.

It isn't the upset of the day, though, as League 2 Bournemouth travelled to Premier League Sheffield United and got a replay with a 0-0 draw. The 3 remaining non-league clubs were all eliminated, leaving only football league clubs in the competition.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jan 2026 - Do Port Vale Make History at Old Trafford?

League Cup - Semi-Final, 1st Leg

v Middlesbrough (A) @ Riverside Stadium - 7/1/26

The league version of this fixture ended with a 1-0 win to Boro in an awful performance.

Team News

Boro are playing a second-string today.

This game is also about answering the question of who can play right-wing, with all senior right-wingers still injured. Central midfielder Ryan plays there today.

Also, young defender Ansell fills in as a defensive midfielder, because I won't risk playing first-teamer King in a League Cup game.

4-4-2 Diamond: Butler; Souza, Castillo, Hamann, Farley; Ryan, Ansell, Carter; Guilbert; Adams (c), Boussoufa

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

(14th, PL) Middlesbrough 1 - 0 Man Utd (5th, PL)
1-0: (pen 3)

- A round of applause to loanee Guilbert, who immediately concedes a penalty for holding. It's yet another mistake, with another pointless 6/10 performance, and it'll be his final act. His loan is terminated and he returns to Bayern.

- However that doesn't excuse our awful away form, with 0 of our 5 shots being on target.

The result isn't a total disaster as the 2nd leg is at Old Trafford, which I've turned into a fortress.

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


Premier League

v Leicester City (H) - 11/1/26

Leicester scraped a 1-0 win over us earlier this season.

Team News

Leicester's superior physical strength on the wings (and our lack of right-winger) would normally mean a change from 4-4-2 to 5-3-2, but we're at home so Leicester will probably sit back, meaning 3 central defenders would be a waste. So I'm trying a 4-3-1-2 with 3 central midfielders.

Narrow 4-3-1-2: Majava; Souza, Rafiei, Castillo, Hamann (c); Tsotetsi, Ryan, Anderson; Peres; Sibiya, Santos

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

(6th) Man Utd 2 - 0 Leicester (10th)
1-0: Santos (41)
LC Red Card: (42)
2-0: Sibiya (90)

- We completely dominated and it was only a matter of time before we finally scored.

- Tstotetsi wound them up. He got an early yellow, which meant I kept him forward, which actually gave us more control. He got their man sent off straight from kick-off.

- Ryan got both assists.

- Santos scored, so naturally got injured. His replacement, Boussoufa, also then got injured.

- Another win that the board are pleased with.

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


FA Cup - 3rd Round Replay

v Port Vale (H) - 14/1/26

Port Vale snatched a late equaliser and upset 11 days ago, but should have no chance at Old Trafford...

Team News

Injuries mean there isn't much choice in backup so it's still a very experienced team and a few first-team players selected.

I choose the #2 keeper rather than the #3. I won't push my luck that much.

Only one player out of position - retiring left-wing veteran Malinov is in the middle.

4-3-1-2: Butler; Lejeune, Simak, Ansell, Farley; Pryce, King (c), McIntosh; Malinov; Lara, John

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

manchester-united.JPG?w=640&h=480&auto=c

(4th, PL) Man Utd 2 - 1 AET Port Vale (8th, L2)
1-0: Pryce (31)
MU Goal Disallowed: Lara (59)
1-1: (64)
PV Second Yellow: (93)
2-1: Tsotetsi (118)

- The 52,127 in the stadium applaud the League 2 side off after nearly taking us to penalties with 10 men.

- In fact they almost scored the most famous FA Cup goal in history, but for a point-blank save by Butler in the final seconds keeping it 1-1.

- We dominated as expected, but their goalkeeper was on form.

- Lara only hit 3 of his 7 shots on target, but made the assist for substitute Tsotetsi's winner.

- Once again, a player AND his substitute replacement came off injured, which didn't help.

- 34-year-old left-back Farley made exactly 100 passes, with midfielder King making 99.

=======================================
Q: "Your analysis of that performance and result?"
A: "...This is why they're on the transfer list."

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

League 2 Bournemouth again matched Port Vale by taking Premier League Sheffield United to penalties, but there was no upset at Dean Court.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You must have looked like the bloke in your profile picture with the Port Vale debacles.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

January 2026 - League Cup semi, Lincoln City and Playing Youth

Premier League

v Sheffield United (H) - 17/1/26

We easily beat them at Bramall Lane this season, and they've been dropping down the table since, including a recent run of 0 goals in 8 games. They struggled like us against League 2 opposition in the FA Cup, only beating Bournemouth on penalties in an FA Cup Replay.

Team News

5 injuries means there are no fit out-and-out strikers left to spare. The only one on the bench is big-money signing Kanu, who is finally returning from his latest injury. He may play only his 6th game today.

Narrow 4-3-1-2: Majava; Souza, Rafiei, Hamann (c), Farley; Anderson, Ryan, McIntosh; Tsotetsi; Sibiya, Peres

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

(5th) Man Utd 2 - 0 Sheff Utd (16th)
2-0: McIntosh (41), Sibiya (64)

- Tsotetsi got both assists.


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

In-form South African duo Tsotetsi and Sibiya and Moroccan striker Boussoufa are called up for the African Cup of Nations and will be unavailable for 2 - 4 weeks. Kanu also has a chance to gain fitness and stay fit with Nigeria.
This means our top 3 strikers are unavailable, and the only fit out-and-out strikers are those I'm trying to sell.

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


League Cup - Semi Final, 2nd Leg

v Middlesbrough (H) - 21/1/26

We've met Boro twice, but this is the first meeting at Old Trafford. We lost both times 1-0, including the 1st leg, but this was more because of our awful away performances than their threat.

They're unbeaten in 6 games. Paul Ince's side is enjoying a good run.

The away goals rule doesn't come into effect until after extra time.

Team News

Some managers cop-out by the semi-final stage by picking a strong team, but I'm sticking with youth and reserves. No one will care if we've won this cup by the end of the season. Besides, the same policy against a full-strength Newcastle in an earlier round meant our 1-0 win wasn't a decent-but-meaningless result, but instead was an utter embarrassment for our rivals.

#2 keeper Butler goes in goal rather than #3 Dupraz. Ultimately, Butler is the slightly better keeper, with more potential, and 3 years younger, so he should be getting the games.

An 18, 17 and 16-year-old are in defence, completed by world class veteran Preston (who has to regain fitness).

Topic and Darlington are also returning from injury in midfield, with an 18-year-old on the other wing and Anderson being used in his other position of AMC.

With the African Cup of Nations and injury suddenly leaving me with 0 first-team strikers, Lara and John start as the only senior strikers available, despite me trying to sell both of them.

4-3-1-2: Butler; Hampson, Preston, Ansell, Pepper; Griffiths, Darlington (c), Topic; Anderson; Lara, John

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

article-0-00F91A8C00000578-862_468x286.j

(5th, PL) Man Utd 0 - 1 Middlesbrough (12th, PL)
MU Disallowed Goal: John (40)
M Goal: (90+1)

- Boro dominated and we had few chances. They scored with a free kick at the end.

- Despite the result, the youngsters had at least a decent performance.

So a team of backup, reserves and youth reached the semis, beating Premier League Blackburn away then Championship Southampton and Premier League behemoths Newcastle at home. Not a bad run!

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


FA Cup - 4th Round

v Lincoln City (H) - 24/1/26

LINCOLN_GRANT_BROWN.jpg

Club legend and record league appearance-maker Grant Brown was promoted from youth coach to manager in 2012. He's taken a team battling relegation from the football league to battling for a playoff spot in their first season in the Championship since 1961.

Team News

Youth players Pepper and Griffiths keep their place. The retiring Malinov gets a 2nd start. Up front, John isn't fit enough to start, so 16-year-old Porter partners Lara.

4-3-1-2: Butler; Souza, Castillo, Hamann (c), Pepper; Griffiths, Darlington, Malinov; Peres; Lara, Porter

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

josh-harrop.jpg?w968h681

(5th, PL) Man Utd 2 - 0 Lincoln (8th, Ch.)
2-0: Porter (19), Hamann (38)

- 16-year-old Porter scores his first ever goal! At Old Trafford!

- United veteran Lara, meanwhile, has failed to score in successive home games against League 2 Port Vale, Premier League Middlesbrough, and Championship Lincoln.

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

The biggest upset of the round saw Championship Crewe brush aside Premier League Norwich away from home, while Championship sides Leeds and Barnsley got draws away to Premier League Chelsea and Sheffield United (still struggling!). But all the remaining League 2 and League 1 sides have been knocked out.
 

On 14/02/2019 at 21:08, Nobby_McDonald said:

You must have looked like the bloke in your profile picture with the Port Vale debacles.

I kinda expected it since we were going into that sort of form where every match is a needless struggle. I'm just glad we won. We're not at the most frustrating period of the season yet...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jan/Feb 2026 - The Impact of Emergency Loans...

Emergency Loans

I looked up the loan market after we lost all our real strikers to the African Cup of Nations and injury. Thankfully the 2 cup games meant there was ample time to get loans in for the real matches:

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

Alexandre - AMC/ST - 31, Brazilian (16 goals in 45 caps), loan from Hamburger SV (Bundesliga) - Pace 13, Jumping 18, Strength 19, Finishing 17, Off The Ball 20, Dribbling 19, Passing 19, Long Shots 20

Alexandre left Brazil at 18 to join AC Milan, where he was used mainly as a substitute, but still managed 12 league goals in 10(19) matches to help them to back-to-back Serie A titles.

He joined Hamburger SV on a free in 2016 and has been a mainstay, his 146 goals and 59 assists leading to 3 Bundesliga titles and a shock Champions League trophy. This season he was still being used, getting 3 goals and 4 assists in 7(8) league games.

He has been Brazil's main striker for 8 years, and his 5 goals and 1 assist helped them lift the 2023 Copa América trophy.

Apparently he completely lacks in decision-making and composure, but that evidently hasn't troubled him. Although too old to be a long-term solution, as a stop-gap loan he seems great. He's also friends with winger Topic, who joined from Hamburger in the summer.

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

Although we should have enough strikers now, another comes in from AC Milan. He was loan-listed and sitting in their reserves with no interest from other clubs, so why not?

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

Paul Brouwers - ST - 23, Dutch (U21), loan from AC Milan (Serie A) - Pace 16, Jumping 16, Strength 12, Finishing 19, Off The Ball 18

Brouwers' only proper runs in teams have been from 2 separate loans in Serie B and the Dutch second-tier. He scored 9 goals in only 6 caps for the Dutch Under-21s and got a couple of Serie A goals in his handful of appearances for Fiorentina.

He lacks the strength, but there's no risk here so no harm in completing the loan.

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


Premier League

v Preston North End (A) @ Deepdale - 28/1/26

Deepdalecomplete.jpg

In the previous meeting at Old Trafford, we threw away a 2-0 lead to draw 2-2, which led to my infamous rant where I called the players "bellends".

Preston are strong in midtable, as all Mike Newell teams are, and have kept 6 clean sheets in the last 8 games.

The away team have failed to win in the last 7 meetings.

Team News

The new loanees both start, while the 16-year-old goalscorer Porter gets to be on the bench. It was a choice between him or one of the players I'm trying to sell, and what's the point in a youth policy if you're going to put an old foreigner who isn't good enough any more in front of them?

4-4-2 Diamond: Majava; Souza, Rafiei, Castillo, Hamann; Topic, King (c), McIntosh; Anderson; Brouwers, Alexandre

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

(10th) Preston 4 - 0 Man Utd (5th)
4-0: (28, 89), (72), (81)

- What causes this team to completely choke away from home? In our last 8 away games, we've won 1, lost 6, and scored in only 2 of them, including a draw to a League 2 side.

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


v Charlton Athletic (H) - 31/1/26

We beat yo-yo club Charlton earlier in the season 2-0, thanks in part to their wastefulness. This should be a routine win.

Team News

Pressley makes a long-awaited return after 2 months out. The strikers picked are the only 2 with a condition over 90% (92%, 100%).

4-3-1-2: Majava; Souza, Preston, Rafiei, Hamann (c); Pressley, Ryan, Topic; Anderson; Alexandre, Peres

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

(6th) Man Utd 2 - 0 Charlton (16th)
MU Disallowed Goal: Peres (3)
2-0: Preston (11), Alexandre (45+3)

- We dominated them all match. They only had 2 shots, neither on target. Their keeper stopped it being a bad result, saving 8 of our 10 shots on target.

- Alexandre, a long shot specialist, scored a perfect free-kick that curled into the far post.

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

A surprise result saw bottom-half West Ham beat surprise title-challengers Man City 5-1 in London.


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

The transfer window closes with me unable to sell any players. We mutually agreed to terminate one player without compensation so he could play elsewhere, but there's still well over £200,000 in wages being spent on players who I'm trying to sell.

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


v Ipswich Town (H) - 4/2/26

Ipswich were last in the Premier League in 2002. By 2009, they had been relegated to League One. After a quick promotion and relegation, they stayed in League One for a while. In 2018, they won promotion again to the Championship and became a play-off challenging side, and now they're finally back in the Premier League.

They're currently managed by Steve Potts, who worked his way up from managing in the Conference with Blackpool to Ipswich in the Championship.

This season hasn't gone well for the team accurately predicted bottom, with only 2 wins in 24 games and 11 points away from 19th place. In their last 7 away games, they've conceded 20 goals.

Team News

With players surprisingly tired, and playing the easiest game of the season before going to New Anfield, the question is how far do I go in playing a second-string?

Darlington plays in his weaker position of centre-back. We probably won't use wingers against Liverpool, so Topic plays as does old retiree Malinov. Alexandre is tested at AMC and Adams returns from injury alongside Brouwers, so both strikers will probably be too tired to start the Liverpool game now anyway.

4-3-1-2: Majava; Souza, Darlington, Castillo, Farley; Topic, Ryan (c), Malinov; Alexandre; Brouwers, Adams

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

(5th) Man Utd 5 - 0 Ipswich (20th)
5-0: Alexandre (2, 35); Peres (17, 39, 45)

- It was a bloodbath. An immediate lead turned into 5-0 by half time, with over 20 shots.

- Topic made 3 assists and nearly scored from a couple long-range cross-shots himself.

- Loanee Brouwers played the whole match but had only 1 shot on target from his 6 attempts. He made an assist as the triangle of him, Peres and Alexandre tore them apart, but he needs match fitness.


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

It was a day of shocks in the FA Cup 4th round replays, as Championship clubs Barnsley and Leeds beat Premier League Sheffield United and Chelsea at home.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Feb 2026 - 11 Days Define A Season (and Spurs Win a Trophy)

Back-to-back Defending champions South Africa are surprisingly knocked out at the group stage of the African Cup of Nations, so star striker Sibiya and in-form AMC Tsotetsi return to the club. Tsotetsi was emotional in giving me thanks after he made his international debut. Both played well, but it was only against Mali that Sibiya scored (twice), with Tsotetsi assisting one of the goals.

Sibiya is now 3 goals behind Premier League top scorer Tino Schupp, who has 16 goals for Man City.

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


Premier League

v Liverpool (A) @ New Anfield - RIVALS - 8/2/26

1360x765-anfield-stadium,-d-,-image-hks-

At Old Trafford, a wonder goal from central midfielder Ryan saw us win 1-0 in a tactical masterclass.

But the last time Man Utd won at New Anfield was over 12 years ago, yet we're slight favourites despite this and our awful away form.

Team News

In the home match, I set the team up in an unconventional 3-3-1-3 to undo their 5-3-2. We controlled and won the game, so I'm trying it again.

Sibiya and Tsotetsi are fit and ready after the AFCoN. Fitness-wise, the 3 strikers pick themselves, but it would've been hard to leave out Peres after his unexpected quick hat-trick against Ipswich.

While winger Topic is fired up for the match, I need defensive players as wing-backs, so he'll have to fidget on the bench.

This is only a couple of players away from my first-choice XI, with everyone starting fit and in good morale individually.

3-3-1-3: Majava; Souza, Rafiei, Castillo; Preston, King (c), Hamann; Tsotetsi; Sibiya, Peres, Alexandre

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

(6th) Liverpool 2 - 1 Man Utd (4th)
2-0: (5, 61)
2-1: Preston (64)

- Although they scored early, after half an hour the game turned and we were the threat.

- After half-time, they tried to hold onto the lead, only doubling it thanks to 2 fouls giving them a free-kick in the D, which still had to be rebounded in after a save from Majava.

- A MOTM performance from their keeper stopped us getting anything as the game devolved into crosses, corners and free-kicks into their packed area as football turned into pinball. He made insane point-blank saves from rocket shots inside the area, nearly every cross was cleared, and he caught every indirect free-kick in the box despite one of our defenders always on top of him ready to nod it into the open goal.

- A controversial decision not to give us a penalty in the 43rd minute didn't help.

On this display, the team is close to being a real challenger in the Big 6.


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

Nigeria and Morocco both lost their AFCoN quarter-finals, so strikers Kanu and Boussoufa return. Big signing Kanu got his fitness back at last and scored in 4 games in a row, plus an assist, before his country lost 3-0 to Ivory Coast. Boussoufa's standout game came against Ivory Coast, scoring 2 and making 1 in the 5-1 shock win.

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


Europa League - 1st Knockout Round, 1st leg

v NAC Breda (H) - 12/2/26

s3-news-tmp-10557-uefa2--2x1--940.jpg

NAC have finished 3rd-6th in the Dutch Eredivisie for 9 seasons in a row, and they won the KNVB Cup in 2022.

This season was their debut in the Champions League group stage, finishing 3rd as expected, and they beat Sevilla 2-1 at home. Their Europa League form is erratic.

Incidentally, we'll be playing against a young player who'll be joining us in the summer, when his contract expires.

Team News

The squad for the knockout stages of the Europa League is registered, with a maximum of 3 additions/replacements allowed. So I'm able to add Anderson, who's done well in AMC, and big signing Kanu who hopefully doesn't get injured again. It means strikers Santos and loanees Alexandre and Brouwer miss out.

With a rematch at New Anfield against Liverpool in under 3 days in the FA Cup, there's no reason to prioritise the Europa League yet. So the team is mostly players who probably won't start in 3 days.

Narrow 4-3-1-2: Butler; Souza, Preston, Darlington, Farley; Topic, Ryan (c), Anderson; Tsotetsi; Adams, Boussoufa

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

(4th, EPL) Man Utd 2 - 1 NAC (9th, Eridivisie)
1-0: Own Goal (13)
1-1: (69)
2-1: Adams (76)

- They packed their area and didn't look for an away goal, yet somehow still got one with their 1 shot on target. A match that played like a 3-0 win ended up a 2-1 thanks to a bizarre own goal. Despite the win, it's a feeling of disappointment.

- Who got their assist? The guy signing for us in the summer.

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


FA Cup - 5th Round

v Liverpool (A) @ New Anfield - RIVALS - 15/2/26

We played this fixture only a week ago. Liverpool won 2-1, but only thanks to their superhuman MOTM goalkeeper.

Team News

Again I'll use the 3-3-1-3 'v Liverpool tactic', with a few tactical tweaks based on how last week's game went.

In the 2-1 loss, I used defensive wing-backs. It turns out they did a lot of attacking and little defending. So this time I'm using the balanced Pressley and attacking winger Anderson.

Kanu makes his first start in 3 months after injury and the AFCoN, where he scored in 4 matches in a row.

With the possibility of the game going the same way (a box full of players and us resorting to crosses), I'm allowing some long shot specialists to take long shots in this game.

3-3-1-3: Majava; Souza, Rafiei, Preston; Pressley, King (c), Anderson; Alexandre; Sibiya, Peres, Kanu

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

(5th, PL) Liverpool 3 - 0 Man Utd (4th, PL)
3-0: (16), (62), (90+3)

- Spookily exactly like last time: they scored an early goal out of nowhere, sat back for a 1-0 win, then got a 2nd thanks to a rebound from a free kick anyway.

- Although, again, they had their keeper to thank for a few great saves, this time our failure to get anything at the other end was more down to 13 of our 16 shots being off target. We needed any 1 of our 4 starting strikers on form, and none of them were, so we scored 0.

- Their last goal was luck, another free kick, this time somehow coming off the crossbar, onto the far post and 1mm over the line.

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

Despite 0 shots out of their 7 being on target, Championship Cardiff kept Premier League Man City to a 0-0 draw and replay after a missed penalty.

After knocking out Chelsea, Championship Leeds got a 1-1 draw at Premier League Leicester.

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


Europa League - 1st Knockout Round, 2nd Leg

v NAC Breda (A) @ Rat Verlegh Stadion - 19/2/26

rat-verlegh-stadion-e1511275189991.jpg

A rectangular stadium?

NAC stole an away goal in the 1st leg as they easily lost 2-1. They've had no matches and are fully rested.

Team News

It's still only the Europa League but this is the only cup left to play for, and the next game is 4 days away, so I'm playing a strong side.

Young Butler continues in goal. He failed to keep clean sheets against League Two Port Vale or in the 2 League Cup semi legs against Boro, but experience doesn't hurt and #1 Majava hasn't been brilliant recently anyway.

King is usually the central midfielder for away matches, but he had a poor game and his form is uninspiring.

With a full choice of strikers, I go with Kanu and Adams as I won't play them in our next game. We should only need 1 goal.

4-4-2 Diamond: Butler; Souza, Preston, Castillo, Hamann (c); Topic, Darlington, Anderson; Tsotetsi; Kanu, Adams

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

(9th, Eredivisie) NAC 1 - 0 Man Utd (4th, PL)
(2-2 on agg, NAC win 1-0 on away goals)
1-0: (25)

- I can't stand my team. Why can't they keep a clean sheet? Why don't they do ANYTHING away from home? What the **** is wrong with them?

- They just needed one goal, but a £30m striker who scored 4 in 4 matches in Africa and another who scored in the 1st leg can only muster 1 ****ing shot, off-target, between them.


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

We announce a link with Argentinos Juniors, a midtable Superliga Argentina side with a lot of scouting knowledge.

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


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

spurs_0708.jpg?itok=fCHgdmoJ

Tottenham finally win something (excluding the Championship title twice) after 18 years (remember their infamous Spursy Treble?) by beating Middlesbrough 2-0 in the League Cup final.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Feb to March 2026 - The 'Everyone's 7/10 But Still Loses LOL' Run Returns

Premier League

v Portsmouth (H) - 23/2/26

81129049.jpg

Portsmouth are a stable midtable side after getting promoted in 2003. They were Europa League regulars, but haven't qualified again since reaching the semis 5 years ago. They also lifted the FA Cup in 2020.

Mark_Hughes_Damian_Roden_169_2400x1350_T

But it's been a worrying season. They sacked American Paul Bravo in December after only 9 months and with the club in the relegation zone. New manager Damian Roden's debut was a 1-1 draw away to surprise leaders Man City, and they're getting points now.

It's been nearly 11 years since Man Utd haven't won at home to Portsmouth.

Team News

Young striker Santos is getting annoyed at not getting a game, despite only coming back from injury a few weeks ago and not being eligible for the Europa League games, so he starts.

The team is picked on form and performance as we try to overcome poor form, so star striker Sibiya doesn't start after a barren second half to the season. He and Tsotetsi were in such hot form before the African Cup of Nations.

Narrow 4-3-1-2: Majava; Souza, Rafiei, Preston, Hamann; King (c), Darlington, Ryan; Anderson; Santos, Alexandre

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

(5th) Man Utd 2 - 1 Portsmouth (18th)
0-1: (19)
2-1: Souza (pen 29, pen 86)
P Red Card: (90)

- Yet again, the opposition have 1 shot on target and score with it. What has happened to my clean sheets?

- Anderson won 2 penalties and Souza put both away, belying his Composure of 5.

So much for using 'in-form' players. It's a worrying but familiar run for me - suddenly my great strikers can't even get a shot on target, never mind a goal, and goals are conceded with no one at fault. The run where everyone plays 7/10 yet we lose. But at least this time we won somehow.

We're 3 games behind everyone else, yet we're in 4th place on 50 points, same as Liverpool and Chelsea (but above them on goal difference). With no more cups, this is our chance to pull away. If we win the 3 games in hand, we would not only strengthen our Champions League position, we'd actually top the table.

 

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

Championship side Leeds United do it again, knocking out another Premier League side, Leicester, after extra time in their FA Cup 5th round replay.

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

v Blackburn Rovers (A) @ Ewood Park - RIVALS - 2/3/26

cs001_blackburn_v_nottm_forest.jpg

As well as winning 2-0 at home, we've played Blackburn away this season already too - in the League Cup with a reserve/youth side, beating them 2-0 with both goals in stoppage time.

Team News

A change is needed to get through this bad form. Away to a relegation-battling team who will probably be defensive, I can play Pressley and McIntosh as wing-backs at last, something I've been wanting since their bright start to the season together. The formation changes from 4-4-2 diamond to basically 4-1-1-2-2 with WBs.

Defensive midfielder's King lack of strength in the air is finally catching up to him and he's dropped for Darlington.

4-1-3-2: Majava; Pressley, Souza, Rafiei, McIntosh; Darlington; Ryan (c); Tsotetsi, Anderson; Sibiya, Alexandre

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

(19th) Blackburn 1 - 0 Man Utd (4th)
1-0: (83)

- I can't even lay into the team as goalkeeper Majava was 8/10 and everyone except Anderson, Alexandre and 2 of the subs were 7/10. Just like I said earlier.

- Alexandre had 6 shots and none of them were on target, costing us the match. Just like I said earlier.

I would've been ok with a point given our form. This is a disaster, the away form is impossible, the players are choking for no reason.

Perhaps most infuriating, and strange, is how completely unmoved the players are. My team talks don't do anything, no matter what I say, and when they lose their individual morale is still good! Yet all season, even when on a winning streak, the assistant manager says the team's morale is poor.

I don't understand any of what's happening right now.

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

v Portsmouth (A) @ Fratton Park - 11/3/26

FGN569-1.jpg

We only played Portsmouth 2 matches ago, when we only won thanks to 2 penalties after going behind. Despite still being in the relegation zone, they have to be favourites today as they've only lost 2 matches at home all season and they won the last 2 home matches against United 2-1.

Team News

Injuries and suspension means Portsmouth are going to have to resort to playing youth and backup, probably at right-back, so I'll use wingers. Back to 4-4-2 diamond.

Souza is fired up for this match.

4-4-2 Diamond: Majava; Souza, Preston, Rafiei, Hamann (c); Pressley, Darlington, Topic; Anderson; Santos, Sibiya

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

(18th) Portsmouth 0 - 1 Man Utd (4th)
MU Disallowed Goal: Adams (28)
0-1: Adams (90+2)

- There were goalline scrambles in our area which could've resulted in Portsmouth goals on another day, but players were making blocks and the keeper was making saves.

- Sibiya was injured early, but sub Adams won the game with a (near-)MOTM performance. He scored within 5 minutes of coming on, after a killer long ball from the halfway line by fired-up defender Souza, but it was disallowed despite looking just onside. He finally scored after an intercepted goal kick from fellow sub McIntosh, this time possibly marginally offside. It all balances out.

- The fired-up Souza won MOTM.

- Alexandre came on in the last 10 minutes and still couldn't hit the target with his 2 shots, making it 11 shots off-target in a row now.

- Sibiya is out for 3 weeks, but the once on-fire striker was out of form anyway.

 

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

After scraping through and knocking us out on away goals, NAC Breda eased past Barcelona 3-1 on aggregate to reach the Europa League quarter-finals.

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

Man Utd U-18s win the Group 3 title for the 9th season in a row.

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


v Arsenal (H) - RIVALS - 15/3/26

Arsenal were heavy favourites at the Emirates, yet we took the lead 3 times with set-pieces, but we lost 4-3 in the last minute. If it wasn't for our young goalkeeper, Butler, it would've been worse.

Arsenal's 9-match unbeaten start ended in the very next game away to Leicester, but that was a small hiccup for Michael Laudrup's side. They're still in contention for a Treble.

Team News

Arsenal play a rare 4-2-3-1. In the away game, we played a 4-3-1-2/4-4-2 diamond. We scored from 2 throws and a free-kick, but Arsenal could've scored more than 4 goals. Also, their central defence is probably the strongest in the air in the world. So I'm going to try a christmas tree formation of 4-5-1 (or 4-1-2-2-1). It's no use wasting 2 strikers if they're going to be outmuscled, so 2 attacking central midfielders will have to be the threat as we play the ball on the ground.

Adams isn't our physically strongest striker, but he's the only striker to have scored in 7 games (twice).

Xmas Tree 4-1-2-2-1: Majava; Rafiei, Souza, Preston, Hamann; Pressley, Darlington, McIntosh; Alexandre, Anderson; Adams

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

(4th) Man Utd 0 - 3 Arsenal (1st)
0-3: (30), (51, 62)

- Even losing 3-0, it's still not the poor display it appears. The plan to use 2 attacking central midfielders and Adams as striker was effective and was a threat. Arsenal simply scored with a 'worldy' outside the area. Then, for some reason the team fell apart in the second half. It is Arsenal after all.

The other Manchester club beat Arsenal 2-1 in their FA Cup replay; they had one player who could take his chances from crosses/corners.

Edited by git2thachoppa

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mar to Apr 2026 - Manchester derby, 2 games in 3 days, first relegation

Premier League

v Ipswich Town (A) @ Portman Road - 25/3/26

Portman-Road-Ipswich-1024x576.jpg

We destroyed Steve Potts' side 5-0 in just 45 minutes a month ago, but since then they won both their home games against Charlton and Portsmouth 1-0, their first clean sheets in 12 games.

Team News

With City the next match, this is as much about hopefully getting some other players in form. We should assume we'll win, despite Ipswich's last 2 home wins.

The standout performers in the 5-0 win were attackers Peres (3 goals) and Alexandre (2 goals), and winger Topic (3 assists), with the triangle of the AMC and 2 STs having fun. But Alexandre is the only one to even make the bench today.

Santos has been unsettled about the lack of games and this is a great opportunity for £29.5m signing Kanu to finally get his first goal in his injury-plagued debut season.

Narrow 4-3-1-2: Majava; Souza, Rafiei, Preston, Hamann (c); Tsotetsi, Darlington, Ryan; Anderson; Kanu, Santos

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

(20th) Ipswich 1 - 2 Man Utd (5th)
1-0: (33 secs)
1-2: Santos (18), Ryan (35)

- They immediately lead via a top class curler outside the area that wins Goal of the Month. But Ipswich are so poor that we could still be confident of getting a few goals. But Ipswich were always a threat and we made it hard for ourselves, however we get the 3 points.

- Alexandre came on in the 88th minute and... missed his shot as usual.

- Brazilian Santos got a yellow for diving and he's been warned.

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


v Manchester City (A) @ The City of Manchester Stadium - RIVALS - 10/2/19

Manchester-City-Etihad-Stadium-558503.jp

City had been the better team, finishing higher than United for the past 2 seasons. But our first meeting this season saw us beat a City team who were top and had 5 clean sheets in a row 1-0, United's first Manchester derby win in 4 years (9 matches).

Slobodan Drapic's side are unbeaten at home in the league and have only conceded 5 goals too. So maybe we should aim for a 0-0...

Team News

Unfortunately it's not the best of preparations as Rafiei and Preston, 2 key defenders, aren't confident about the game, but both have to play as I'll be playing a defensive line-up.

It's a 5-2-1-2 with a sweeper, so the positions pick themselves - all the first-team defenders, 2 defensive midfielders, Anderson who's doing well in AMC, and Adams and Santos who are the only strikers actually scoring now.

5-2-1-2: Majava; Souza; Rafiei, Preston, Castillo, Hamann; King (c), Darlington; Anderson; Santos, Adams

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

(5th) Man City 0 - 0 Man Utd (4th)

- We actually dominated, with 60% possession and 12 shots to 5. By half-time, City were sitting back happy with 0-0 and taking long distance potshots.

- Once again, it was our finishing that stopped us getting more. Santos had 4 shots and Anderson had 5, but they missed 3 each. Only 3 of our 12 shots were on-target.

MOTM Darlington got injured and will be out for 1 - 2 months. Anderson is later injured in training and is out for a month. That's our 2 in-form central midfielders.


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

April sees the first time the club goes into the red in bank balance. The price of being unable to sell players in January, costing us over £200k a week in wages.

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


v Coventry City (H) - 4/4/26

We got an impressive 3-1 win in Coventry and Jaime Ordiales' team have only won 1 away game in the league, way back in August.

Team News

Bizarrely, after long breaks between games, we now have to play 2 games in 3 days. Away to Norwich should be harder than at home to Coventry, so my line-up is based on who I'm saving for Norwich.

4-3-1-2: Majava; Pressley, Souza, Castillo, Farley; Topic, Ryan (c), Malinov; Alexandre; Kanu, Boussoufa

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

(4th) Man Utd 0 - 0 Coventry (14th)

- As I feared, we couldn't get a goal with our second-string team.

- 10 shots, 8 off target. But at least Alexandre got 1 on target at last...
 

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

Every team in the top 5 drew, and everyone plays again in 2 days. If we can get 3 points with a fresh team, I'm going to be praised.

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


v Norwich City (A) @ Carrow Road - 6/4/26

image.jpg

We beat Michael Skibbe's side 1-0 at home without being really threatened. They're likely safe from relegation now and look forward to a 4th season in the top tier.

They've failed to score in 4 games, including three 0-0 draws, but in the 2 games before that, they scored 8, conceding only 1. They do play a defensive 4-4-2, with 2 DMs not CMs.

Team News

A fresh first team plays.

Narrow 4-3-1-2: Majava; Souza, Rafiei, Preston, Hamann; Ryan, King (c), McIntosh; Alexandre; Adams, Santos

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

(13th) Norwich 0 - 1 Man Utd (4th)
0-1: Adams (82)

- Norwich hit the crossbar twice in the 1st half.

- It became clear they were having trouble beating our strikers to long balls, so I told the team to just hoof it up there.

- Shots kept going off-target, but were still threatening. Eventually, a long-ranger from Ryan meant Adams could squeeze in a rebound late on.

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


v Sheffield Wednesday (H) - 12/4/26

We enjoyed an easy 2-0 win away to the midtable side in November. They've stayed just above the relegation zone since then, so aren't safe at all. The only team to have scored less goals than their 20 in 33 is rock-bottom side Ipswich. This is their only problem, as their goals conceded total (36) is relatively good.

krstajic.jpg

Mladen Krstajic left a month ago to take charge of top-half Bundesliga side Gladbach, and his replacement was... the just-fired Gladbach manager, who stole an impressive draw at Treble-chasing Newcastle and has 5 points from 4 games.

Team News

Narrow 4-3-1-2: Majava; Rafiei, Souza, Preston, Hamann (c); Tsotetsi, Ryan, McIntosh; Peres; Adams, Santos

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

(3rd) Man Utd 1 - 0 Sheff Wed (15th)
SW Second Yellow: (88)
1-0: Souza (90+1)

- It looked like another game where it just wouldn't go in and the away team would get the 0-0 they deserved, then they made a big mistake...

- ...They gave away a free kick on the flank, meaning a free cross, where we're at our deadliest. All Adams needed to do was hit it in the 6-yard box and Souza just needed to be there to nod it in.

There were 2 knocks and a proper injury. Key defender Preston is out until maybe the last game of the season.


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

image.jpg

Ipswich have been relegated with 4 games to go. They currently have only 21 points.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Apr to May 2026 - Squeaky Bum Time

Premier League

v West Ham United (A) @ Boleyn Ground - RIVALS - 20/4/26

boleynground.jpg

We managed a 1-0 win with 10 men thanks to a deflected own goal at Old Trafford. Globetrotting Gareth Southgate's midtable side's recent home record includes a 3-0 loss to Liverpool, but also a win against Treble-chasing Newcastle and beating Man City 5-1!

The away team has only scored once in the last 6 meetings.

Team News

Narrow 4-3-1-2: Majava; Pressley, Rafiei, Souza, Hamann; Tsotetsi, King (c), Ryan; Alexandre; Adams, Santos

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

(10th) West Ham 3 - 1 Man Utd (3rd)
3-0: (3, 10, 50)
3-1: Adams (62)

- Yet another away day collapse.

- The match was fast-paced from the start, with 4 shots in the first few minutes. The 4th one, West Ham's 1st attempt, went in.
 

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

However, relegation-battling Charlton snatched a draw with a 94th minute equaliser at home to Liverpool, while Man City lost away to 10-man Sheffield United. So with 3 games to go, the top 6 looks like this:

League Tables After 34 Games

1 - Arsenal - 74
2 - Newcastle Utd - 65 (+28 GD)
3 - Man Utd - 64 (+20 GD)
4 - Man City - 63 (+18 GD)
---------------------------
5 - Liverpool - 61 (+25 GD)*
6 - Chelsea - 61 (+16 GD)

*Liverpool have a game in hand.

We had a strong goal difference but, after Liverpool's 3-0 win over us and our heavy away losses, it's not as good any more.

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


v Newcastle United (H) - RIVALS - 26/4/26

Newcastle's disastrous start recovered once they'd finally replaced Geordie legend Sir Steve McClaren with Marcelino García Toral in September.

They can only win the title on goal difference, but they have to keep trying for the impossible.

They were embarrassed by us in the League Cup, as their first team lost at Old Trafford to our reserve/youth side which included a couple of 16-year-olds. They later beat us in the league 1-0, although turncoat Santos missed 4 chances to score against his now-former club. At home, he should get more.

Although we are talking about a team trying to match our Treble.

Team News

Young #2 Butler is injured for the rest of the season, so I don't even have to think about whether underperforming keeper Majava should keep his place.

We struggled away to Newcastle until we changed to an advanced 4-1-3-2, so I'll stick with the 4-3-1-2 with 2 CMs attacking to join the AMC.

Anderson is fit enough to return from his injury.

Narrow 4-3-1-2: Majava; Pressley, Rafiei, Souza, Hamann (c); Tsotetsi, Ryan, McIntosh; Anderson; Adams, Santos

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

(4th) Man Utd 1 - 3 Newcastle Utd (3rd)
1-0: (9)
1-1: Sibiya (86)
3-1: (90+1, 90+3)

- While everyone gets shouted at, my anger is truly reserved for Majava the goalkeeper and their striker's marker Rafiei. For their 2nd goal, their striker dribbled round Rafiei and just hit it in. For their 3rd, Rafiei wasn't tight and a long-range shot simply went past the keeper as if he just stood there and watched it.
 

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

Liverpool are the only team to drop points as Arsenal won the title at New Anfield with a 0-0 draw.

After 36 games, we drop from 3rd to 4th, potentially 5th.

League Table After 35 Games

2 - Newcastle Utd - 68 (+30 GD)
3 - Man City - 66 (+19 GD)
4 - Man Utd - 64 (+18 GD)
--------------------------------------
5 - Chelsea - 64 (+17 GD)
6 - Liverpool 62 (+25 GD)*

*Liverpool have a game in hand.

Now we can win both remaining games and not finish in the top 4...

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

#3 keeper Dupraz comes into my office. The 24-year-old officially requests a transfer, annoyed that he's not getting first team games. He was given a chance early in the season, but he wasn't good enough, and the other 2 keepers were better.

"That's brilliant timing that is. You are a very stupid boy..."

"I know it's the toughest part of the season, but-"

"...I'd already decided I'm going to start you in the next match. Your request is rejected."

I don't think that's how he thought that was going to go.

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

v West Bromwich Albion (A) @ The Hawthorns - 2/5/26

view-from-the-away-end.jpg

An incredible record - before beating Spurs 1-0 away a week ago, West Brom hadn't scored in 12 matches. Unsurprisingly, this has put them at risk of relegation.

We walloped them 4-0 at home earlier this season.

Team News

As you saw, Keeper Majava is dropped and likely won't play for the club again. The 36-year-old's body has given up at the worst time. With young Butler injured, Dupraz, who had handed in a transfer request, gets the start he wants.

It's a return to a 4-4-2 diamond, although WBA's historic ineptitude in front of goal means I'm going to be more attacking even though it's a dreaded away game, so it's more a 4-3-1-2, thus the more attack-minded Ryan plays in the middle.

Strikers Sibiya and Adams are in a superb mood so will start.

World class defender Preston is back from injury and is on the bench.

4-3-1-2: Dupraz; Souza, Rafiei, Castillo, Hamann; Topic, Ryan, McIntosh; Anderson; Adams, Sibiya

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

(18th) WBA 0 - 0 Man Utd (4th)

- WBA dominated until they decided to sit back, happy with a point. We didn't really get a chance despite, given how other scores were going, eventually playing with 9 attackers and 1 played staying back.

Morale is now "rock bottom", after only briefly rising when we were in good form. This lot are mental cases, not "determined" at all...
 

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

League Table After 37 Games

4 - Chelsea - 67 (+18)
---------------------------
5 - Liverpool - 65 (+25)
6 - Man Utd - 65 (+18)

A win would've seen us in charge. Instead, we keep dropping. Now we need to win and hope both Chelsea and Liverpool don't.

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


v Middlesbrough (H) - 10/5/26

maxresdefault.jpg

Paul Ince's Boro have a great record against us. We've lost 1-0 in all 3 meetings this season (though 2 of them involved reserves in the League Cup semis). This means United haven't beaten them in 6 matches. However, the League Cup semi was the first time in 9 matches that the away team scored.

Team News

Consistent veteran defender Hamann was injured and only makes the bench, though we'll need attacking full-backs to get the win we need, so wing-back/winger McIntosh will play there.

Striker Adams is the only player looking forward to this match, while star man Sibiya's head has gone. I decide to give injury-plagued record signing Kanu a chance. A disrupted debut season for the big money £29.5m striker could end on a relative high note...

Narrow 4-3-1-2: Dupraz; Souza, Rafiei, Preston, McIntosh; Tsotetsi, King (c), Ryan; Anderson; Kanu, Adams

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

(6th) Man Utd 2 - 2 Middlesbrough (7th)
0-1: (4)
2-1: Adams (7), Kanu (14)
2-2: (pen 60)

- Chokers to the end, my players immediately concede in a must-win game, and a controversial penalty means we're not even allowed one smidge of happiness to end the season.

- Kanu finally scores, but the penalty ruins the feel-good.

- Though a win wouldn't have been enough anyway.

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

As doom and gloom as it all feels, the United fans have seen a slight improvement overall this season. Although they saw their team finish 'bottom of the Big 6' again, it's with more points and goals, slight improvement in the cups, and we were even in contention for the title. And although our away form felt dire, it was actually the 3rd best in the league.

I made Old Trafford a fortress and the fans mostly saw wins this season. My first game was a 5-0 win at home to Spurs, and we only lost to the Big 2 of Newcastle and Arsenal here (and the League Cup semi-final against Middlesbrough).

So, as far as the lap of honour and speech goes, I say we're close. I remind the fans that in the first half of the season we were on fire, then for some reason it fell away in the second half. Just a couple more goals or clean sheets would've changed the mood today completely in a highly competitive top 6.

After sleep, the season is over and the start of next season begins. So I review my squad and what's to come...

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


Final Position

4 - Liverpool - 68 (+27)
---------------------------------
5 - Chelsea - 68 (+18)
6 - Man Utd - 66 (+18)
---------------------------------
7 - Middlesbrough - 56

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×