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Posted (edited)

2025/26 Season Review

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Competitions

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Premier League

Standings

1 - Arsenal - 81
2 - Newcastle - 70 (+30 GD)
3 - Man City - 70 (+21)
4 - Liverpool - 68 (+27)
---------------------------------
5 - Chelsea - 68 (+18)
6 - Man Utd - 66
---------------------------------
7 - Middlesbrough - 56
8 - West Ham - 55
9 - Preston - 54
10 - Tottenham - 50*
11 - Norwich - 47
12 - Coventry - 45 (-2)*
13 - Leicester - 45 (-10)
14 - Sheffield Utd - 42
15 - Sheffield Wed - 41
16 - Blackburn - 37
17 - West Brom - 36
---------------------------------
18 - Portsmouth - 35
19 - Charlton - 33
20 - Ipswich - 24

*Tottenham and Coventry qualify for the Europa League due to winning the League Cup and a 'sporting play' bonus spot respectively.

Notable Results

W 5-0 v Tottenham (H) - Managerial debut
W 1-0 v Liverpool (H)
L 4-3 v Arsenal (A) - We lead 3 times before succumbing
W 1-0 v Man City (H)
L 4-0 v Preston (A) - Our heaviest defeat
W 5-0 v Ipswich (H) - 5-0 up by half-time
L 0-3 v Arsenal (H)
D 0-0 v Man City (A) - 4 points over City for the season, but finish below them
L 1-3 v Newcastle (H)

Notable Runs

25/9/25 to 6/12/25 - 8 clean sheets in 9 league games (13 in 15 in all games)
25/9/25 to 6/12/25 - Scored in 9 league games in a row (15 in a row for all games)
14/12/25 to 30/12/25 - Failed to score in 4 of 5 league games
8/2/26 to 10/5/26 - Only 5 wins in 14 league games (6 in 17)

In my first season, United finished 6th again, but with significantly more points, goals and wins.


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Europa League

1st Round

W 3-1 v FC Haka (A)
W 3-0 v FC Haka (H)
(Man Utd win 6-1 on aggregate)

Group Stage

1 - PSV - 8
2 - Man Utd - 7
3 - Dynamo Dresden - 6
-----------------------------
4 - Visé - 2 (-3 GD)
5 - Nice - 2 (-9 GD)

W 1-0 v Visé (H)
D 1-1 v Dynamo Dresden (A)
W 6-0 v Nice (H)
L 2-0 v PSV (A)

1st Knockout Round

W 2-1 v NAC Breda (H)
L 1-0 v NAC Breda (A)
(2-2 on aggregate, NAC Breda win 1-0 on away goals)

After getting knocked out of the Champions League and then eliminating us, NAC Breda also beat Barcelona and Rangers before losing at the semi-finals.

We moved 5 places up the European rankings to 13th, the 4th-highest English club. This season was the club's 2nd-best performance in the past 5 years.


FA Cup

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3R: D 1-1 v Port Vale (A)
Replay: W 2-1 AET v Port Vale (H)
4R: W 2-0 v Lincoln City (H)
5R: L 0-3 v Liverpool (A)


League Cup

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3R: W 2-0 v Blackburn Rovers (A)
4R: W 2-0 v Southampton (H)
QF: W 1-0 v Newcastle United (H)

Semi-Finals

L 0-1 v Middlesbrough (A)
L 0-1 v Middlesbrough (H)
(Middlesbrough win 2-0 on aggregate)


Premier Reserve League

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The reserves finished 8th in their 10-man group.

They broke the record for biggest loss in the group, losing 6-0 away to Sheffield Wednesday.


Under-18s' Record-Breaking Season

The under-18s won their group for the 9th year in a row, by 19 points in only a 22-game season, losing 1 game and scoring 63 goals, in fact scoring in every game.

Group records broken included goals scored (63, beating our own record by 10 goals), biggest win (6-0), highest-scoring game (a 5-3 win), most goals scored by a player (Aaron Porter with 29, 8 more than the record), most Man of the Match awards (Porter with 8) and longest unbeaten run (31, beating our own record by 7).


Confidence, Reputation & Finances

The board are still more or less 'pleased' with my performance and the finances (despite going into the red), but not with the final league position of 6th.

The fans are very pleased with the progress the club has been making and are in full support of my management of the club.

Reputation-wise, I'm still the only 'World Class' manager in the game.

Although the bank balance just went negative (which will be positive when the new season begins), the club rises 5 places to 10th-richest club in the world on the Rich List. Also the 3rd-richest in England, higher than Abramovich's Chelsea.


Awards

Despite the dead second half of the season, my signing Sibiya (ST) still won the Premier League Players' Player of the Year in his debut season, made it into the Team of the Season, and was United Fans' Player of the Year. He was also runner-up for England's 'signing of the season'.

Record-equalling United signing Kanu (ST) was the 'winner' of 'worst signing'.

For Premier League Players' Young Player of the Year, Tsotetsi (MC/AMC) was runner-up and Casey (ML), on loan to Charlton, came 3rd.

We also get 2nd and 3rd in Goal of the Season. Despite his loan acrimoniously being cut short, Guilbert's free kick against Coventry came 2nd - from the flank, he near-impossibly curled it all the way into the far post. Santos' narrow angle-shot, after dribbling past 2 defenders from the flank, against Charlton comes third.


Staff

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Assistant manager Rene Meulensteen retires just half a year after joining. So Brian McClair and Tony Humes are my candidates for promotion to assistant.

Darren+Fletcher+John+O+shea+Manchester+U

Darren Fletcher returns to the club as a coach, rejoining former teammate John O'Shea. He signed as an 11-year-old and made around 300 appearances in 13 seasons before moving on to Celtic, Everton and Sunderland. He officially retired to become youth coach at Rangers before joining us.

Rob Swire's 35+ years as physio at Man Utd comes to an end.

Our retiring Bulgarian winger Malinov also joins the coaching setup.


Squad

Now for the fun part. There's a lot of deadwood to get rid of.

*Only first team squad and senior players are included

GK

20. Tomi Majava - 36 years old, Finland (84 caps), valued at £1.3m - Played 25, Conceded 24, Clean Sheets 13, Man of the Match 1, Average Rating 6.84
13. Thomas Butler - 22, England (U21), £6m - P 23, C 17, CS 11, AvR 6.87
1. Gilles Dupraz - 24, Tunisia (5) / France, £3m - P 7, C 6 , CS 3, MotM 1, AvR 6.86

With 2 very talented but young keepers, Majava was bought in as an experienced option if they faltered. They did, but Majava was reliable... until, at at some point near the end of the season, he couldn't save anything to the point he was dropped for the last 2 games. With his body aging and another good young keeper coming in the summer, I'll look to sell him.

33-year-old former regular Abdulla was loaned out to Spanish champions Real Betis and got an average rating of 6.82 with 54 goals conceded in 44 matches and 14 clean sheets, so he doesn't look a keeper.

IN - Butler, Dupraz, Abdel Aziz
OUT - Majava, Abdulla

DC

2. John Preston - DR/C, WBR - 31, Scotland (49), £3.4m - P 25(3), Goals 2, Assists 1, MotM 1, AvR 7.04
12. Souza - SW, DR/C - 27, Portugal (2 goals in 32 caps) / Brazil, £13.25m - P 40(1), G 3, A 1, MotM 4, AvR 7.12
25. Mohammad Ali Rafiei - DR/C - 29, Iran (23), £5.5m - P 33(2), A 1, MotM 2, AvR 7.00
19. Arturo Castillo - 28, Mexico (23), £7.75m - P 26(5), A 1, MotM 1, AvR 6.97
6. Michal Simak - 32, Czech Republic (1 in 63 ), £3.9m - P 13, AvR 7.08
21. Sasa Andjic - 34, Montenegro (1 in 64), £220k - P 4(1), AvR 7.40
+ Darlington, Hamann, King

Preston is a World Cup and Golden Ball winner, and he was missed when injured.

I bought Souza and Rafiei as the defence needed physical strength and pace. Rafiei is a specimen (19 Pace, 19 Jumping, 20 Strength), but several times a player he was marking rounded him and scored.

Castillo wasn't my signing. He lacks in strength, but was a pacier option. We have a really good centre-back coming in the summer so will get less games, but is still has a future as other players get older.

As you can see by the average ratings, despite leakiness at times, this should be a top defence.

IN - Preston, Souza, Rafiei, Castillo, Kirn, Aleksandrowicz
OUT - Andjic, Simak

DR

+ Preston, Souza, Rafiei

Wing-back/winger Pressley was tried here, but it turns out he's not a proper defender.

IN - Preston, Souza, Rafiei, Aleksandrowicz
OUT - None

DL

5. Martin Hamann - DL/C, WBL - 32, Austria (58), £2.9m - P 27(6), G 1, AvR 6.94
3. David Farley - WB/DL - 35, England (50), £400k - P 17(2), A 3, MotM 2, AvR 7.05
+ McIntosh?

World Cup runner-up Hamann was Mr Dependable, nearly always getting a 7/10 whether on the left or in the middle.

Farley has insane attributes that suggests Maldini in disguise, but in actual games his tackling is poor.

Wing-back/Winger McIntosh sometimes played here and we're trying to get him used to the position.

IN - Hamann, McIntosh?
OUT - Farley

MR

22. Roddy Pressley - WB/M/AMR - 29, Scotland (1 in 22) / England, £11m - P 17(9), G 4, A 2, AvR 6.77
33. Nicky Pryce - AMR/C - 31, England (7), £5.25m - P 8(1), G 1, A 1, AvR 7.11
+ Topic

Pressley had such a great start; he and McIntosh on the wings were destroying defence. But, after the injury, he suffered just as the rest of the team did in the second half of the season.

With Topic and Pressley injured, Pryce was used as emergency backup on the wing. His ratings are a red herring - his passing isn't good enough; in some matches, he doesn't get one key pass.

IN - Pressley, Topic, Aleksandrowicz
OUT - Pryce

ML

7. Steve McIntosh - WB/M/AML - 28, R.o.Ireland (8 in 41), £5.25m - P 30(5), G 2, A 6, MotM 1, AvR 6.97
11. Srdjan Topic - ML/R, AML/R - 27, Bosnia & Herzegovina (26), £8m - P 22(6), G 1, A 7, AvR 6.82
41. Petar Malinov - M/AML - 34, Bulgaria (2 in 68), Retiring - P 4(1), A 1, AvR 7.20
+ Anderson

As with everyone else, McIntosh was in brilliant form in 2025, but in 2026 the goals/assists dried up.

Anderson was quiet on the left, but then found his form playing AMC.

20-year-old Andy Casey went out on a season-long Premier League loan to relegated Charlton and got 5 assists in 38 games (3 in 30 league games) but came 3rd for the Young Players' Player of the Year award. Will he go out on loan again or make the step up next season? It's a big ask.

However a summer free transfer is coming in, someone who played really well for me during my ill-fated spell in Chile and is still delivering at 31 years old, helping Torino to a surprise 3rd-place finish.

After 8 seasons, nearly 300 appearances and 2 Europa League trophies, Malinov retires to become one of our coaches.

IN - McIntosh, Topic, Anderson, Casey?, Viveros
OUT - Malinov (retiring)

DM/MC

14. Bob Ryan - 29, England (4), £5m - P 29(1), G 2, A 5, AvR 7.07
17. Derek King - DC, DM/MC - 30, Scotland (4 in 48), £7.75m - P 18(10), A 3, MotM 1, AvR 6.89
4. James Darlington - DC, DM/MC - 33, England (15), £3.3m - P 21(5), G 1, MotM 2, AvR 7.08
+ Tsotetsi

Ryan was the attacking option, scoring a memorable goal outside the area in the 1-0 win over Liverpool at Old Trafford.

King was the more defensive 'away game' option, but he lacks strength and is easily beaten in the air. Even though he was one of our captains, he's going to be a surprise leaver in the summer.

When King's form suffered, Darlington did a real good job. However he doesn't look like he has another season in him and his contract has 1 year left.

Tsotetsi also turned out to be a good all-round option. When his form in AMC dried up, he did well deeper in MC.

There's already a young defender/midfielder arriving in the summer to take their spot though. He was in the Breda team that knocked us out of Europe, providing an assist.

IN - Ryan, Tsotetsi, Aleksandrowicz
OUT - King, Darlington

AMC

28. Anderson - 31, Brazil (2 in 36), £4.8m - P 30(5), G 1, A 9, MotM 2, AvR 7.00
24. Tsotetsi - 22, South Africa (3), £12.75m - P 26(8), G 4, A 4, MotM 1, AvR 6.94
10. Guillaume Peres - 25, France (9), £6m - P 16(18), G 4, A 4, MotM 1, AvR 6.71
+ Alexandre

Tsotetsi hit form just before the Africa Cup of Nations, but when he came back from Africa he didn't get it back. However his move to MC saw him play better, enough to help come runner-up for Young Players' Player of the Year.

Anderson found good form when he moved from ML to AMC.

Peres is physically great, but he's just not quite contributing enough. He's a Welbeck - will show up every now and then, but the rest of the time he's just there. He should be sold.

IN - Anderson, Tsotetsi
OUT - Peres, Alexandre (returns from loan)

ST

26. Neil Sibiya - 23, South Africa (6 in 10), £12.25m - P 27(6), G 15, A 4, MotM 4, AvR 7.18
29. Eric Kanu - 29, Nigeria (34 in 46) / England, £29.5m - P 7(6), G 1, A 1, AvR 6.38
18. Joe Adams - 30, R.o.Ireland (23 in 44), £13m - P 20(6), G10, A 7, MotM 4, AvR 7.19
15. Santos - 25, Brazil (1 in 11), £3m - P 20(11), G 7, A 1, MotM 1, AvR 6.58
8. Ali Boussoufa - 28, Morocco (15 in 31), £9.25m - P 13(8), G 7, A 2, MotM 2, AvR 7.00
16. Miguel Lara - 34, Colombia (17 in 55), £900k - P 9(3), G 4, A 1, AvR 7.00
9. Michael John - 33, England (4 in 15), £220k - P 3(1), AvR 6.75
LOANED IN - 23. Alexandre - AMC/ST - 32, Brazil (16 goals in 45 caps), £5.75m - P 11(5), G 3, A 1, MotM 1, AvR 6.81
LOANED IN - 44. Paul Brouwers - 23, Netherlands (U21), £6.25m - P 2(1), A 1, AvR 6.67
+ Peres

quinton-fortune-of-manchester-united-cel

Sibiya was a sensation from the start, scoring a hat-trick on his debut and plenty more, with a penchant for running to impossible angles and squeezing it into the far post just for a challenge. His goalscoring form continued at the African Cup of Nations but, when he returned in February, he only scored 1 more goal and lost the chance to win the Golden Boot. His fellow players still voted him in the team of the year and awarded him Players' Player of the Year, while he was still joint-top for average rating for strikers.

Kanu was a joint-record signing at £29.5m (Rio Ferdinand signed in 2002 for "around £30m") on deadline day. He was immediately injured, and then got injured minutes into his return. He returned to fitness for the AFCoN and scored in 4 matches in a row, but he couldn't recreate that form on his return to England. He finally scored his first goal for United on the final day of the season.

Boussoufa only got 1 game in 2026. He could be worth keeping, but hasn't shown why yet, and his contract expires next summer.

Alexandre had pedigree and form, yet for us he went 13 shots in a row off-target. Had he been on-target more often, he'd have great stats.

Brouwers was an extra free loan, as Italy doesn't have a reserve league so it was a chance for him to get the odd game while we were out of strikers.

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Also, it was a season to remember for 16-year-old Aaron Porter who scored his first ever goal, at Old Trafford no less. He's now been "dubbed the new Michael Owen". Obviously.

IN - Sibiya, Kanu, Adams, Santos, Boussoufa?
OUT - Lara, John, Alexandre (returning from loan), Brouwers (returning from loan)

@Nobby_McDonald You're always so negative! Even when I have a decent season still! :lol:

Edited by git2thachoppa

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2025/26 Club Football Recap

Biggest Transfers

Eric Kanu (ST, Nigerian/English, 28) - Inter Milan to Man Utd - £29.5m
Aubrey Khabo (DC/L, South African, 25) - Man City to Arsenal - £29.5m
Fabrizio Galliano (MC/DMC, Italian, 25) - Fiorentina to AC Milan - £28m
Carlo Baldi (DLC/ML, Italian, 23) - Juventus to Bayern Munich - £28m
Juho Koski (M/AML, Finnish, 24) - HSV to Juventus - £26m
Luca Donzelli (M/AMRL, Italian/Argentinian, 23) - £25.5m


UEFA Champions League

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on-this-day-in-2011-newcastle-pulled-off

Marcelino García Toral's Newcastle United and Michael Laudrup's Arsenal met in the final for the 3rd time in 6 years... and Arsenal have now lost their last 5 CL finals.

Newcastle scored in just 21 seconds as they took a 3-0 lead in 35 minutes to win the Champions League and FA Cup double.

Isaac Mizrahi's Lazio were surprise semi-finalists after beating defending champions David Moyes' Bayern Munich.


England

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Premier League

It was a 6-horse race for a title that only Newcastle and Arsenal had won for the last decade. By Christmas, it was Slobodan Drapic's Man City who were surprisingly topping the table.

But in the end, it was a familiar story as Laudrup's Arsenal pulled away and won the title by 11 points, while 2 points separated 2nd and 5th, with Man United completing the Big 6 two points below.

Midtable regulars Portsmouth were relegated after 23 years in the Premier League.

Football League and Non-League

After 30 years away, Steve Cotterill's QPR miraculously achieved automatic promotion after yo-yoing between the Championship and League One and finishing 20th and 21st in the past 2 seasons.

teddy-sheringham-atk-head-coach_8pebwvg6

Teddy Sheringham was sacked after over 6 years as manager of Millwall, his first management job. He was unable to save the club from relegation to League Two when he was promoted from assistant manager. They finished 6th next season and won the playoffs, but were relegated again the season after. They finished 6th back-to-back, but then finished 11th and are currently 16th.

It keeps getting worse and worse for Torquay United. After relegation from the football league in 2007, they've now suddenly been relegated from the National League.


Spain

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José Mourinho's Real Madrid won the title by 17 points, conceding only 16 goals in 38 games.

Bizarrely, Pep Guardiola walked out on defending champions Real Betis at the end of 2025 to join top-half Greek club Ionikois.


Italy

Italy.jpg

The landscape changed completely this season.

A Milan club had won 18 of the last 20 titles. This year, Mizrahi's Lazio won their first since 2006 on the final day of the season, and 4 points separated the top 5.

Frank Yallop's Torino finished 3rd, under AC Milan but above Inter Milan, thanks to beating them 3-1 at the San Siro. They'll compete in the Champions League, their only appearance being in 1976/77.

On the final day, Roma's Brasilian-Portuguese attacker Edmílson doubled his league tally by scoring ALL FIVE GOALS IN THE FIRST 34 MINUTES as midtable Atalanta were relegated with a 5-1 loss (their goal only being an own goal too).

After finishing bottom of their only season in Serie A with 1 win and 15 points in 2023, little Cisco Roma returned and survived on the final day while Udinese and Atalanta went down after they all lost.


Germany

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After two 0-0 draws and then losing the Europa League final on penalties, Werder Bremen still only needed to go to relegation-battling Nurnberg and match Bayern Munich's result to stop them winning their 4th Bundesliga in a row.

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Bremen threw away a 1-0 lead in the last 10 minutes to lose 2-1, confirming Nurnberg's safety. But Bayern also lost, so Bremen lifted their first title in 22 years!

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Borussia Dortmund replaced Vitesse-bound John Collins with 12-year Dortmund veteran Christoph Metzelder.
 

South Korea

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Meanwhile at my former club Busan, the new manager's reign started with a rare loss, but the club went to China and impressively retained the summer's A3 Champions cup with all 3 wins and 9 goals, with Jeon getting an assist and Man of the Match, 2 goals and MOTM, then a hat-trick and MOTM. But superstar striker Alex moved only a month after I did, going to Malaga in La Liga for a £1.1m pittance after 63 goals in 72(11) games.

Despite this, it was a repeat of my last season with the team - They topped the overall league table, beat Incheon in the semis again, then Seoul again in the final to lift the title. They also retained the Champions League and finished 3rd at the Club World Cup.

This year however, with half the 2026 season now gone, they're somehow way down in 9th in the 14-team league. Then again, back-to-back finalists Seoul are 13th!

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Posted (edited)

Brazil 2026 World Cup Qualifying

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UEFA

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Group 1

Finland - 18
--------------------
Switzerland - 17
--------------------
Serbia - 16
Lithuania - 16
Portugal - 15
Faroe Islands - 1

- Switzerland threw it away in the final minute. Finland had lost in Lithuania, meaning Switzerland's 0-0 draw at home to Serbia would be enough. But a stoppage time corner meant Serbia won 1-0 and the Euro 2024 runner-up qualified instead.

- Serbia failed to qualify for a tournament for the first time in 12 years.


Group 2

Poland - 22
--------------------------
Czech Republic - 21
--------------------------
Israel - 19
Northern Ireland - 14
Azerbaijan - 6
Moldova - 5
 

Group 3

Bosnia-and-Herzegovina-v-Wales.jpg

Netherlands - 23
Wales - 22

---------------------
Bulgaria - 17
Sweden - 11
Estonia - 7
Armenia - 2

- A route one goal in the 90th minute in Estonia saw Netherlands top the group and qualify.

- Faith in Frank Rijkaard and Chris Coleman was rewarded as the Netherlands and Wales as best runner-up (despite Bale retiring) qualified automatically, after both sides had failed to qualify for 2022 and Euro 2024 under them.


Group 4

Germany - 20*
-------------------
Ukraine - 20*
-------------------
Hungary - 15
Slovenia - 14
Macedonia -12
Luxembourg - 2
*Head-To-Head: Germany 4 - 1 Ukraine

A crazy group that saw Luxembourg draw 1-1 with Germany ended with Ukraine enjoying an 8-2 win over Slovenia and Germany losing in Macedonia, but the head-to-head record had already decided the placings.


Group 5

skysports-lacazette-france_4091128.jpg?2

Bosnia & Herzegovina - 18*
----------------------------------
Russia - 18*
----------------------------------
Republic of Ireland - 14
France - 14
Albania - 13
San Marino - 2
*H2H: B&H 4 - 4 Russia, GD: B&H +6, Russia +2

Bosnia & Herzegovina qualified for their first ever tournament.

R.o.Ireland's last match saw them lose 4-0 in Albania.

Patrick Colleter's France were a disaster, highlights being drawing in San Marino and losing in Albania.


Group 6

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Spain - 22
---------------------
Malta - 17
---------------------
Montenegro - 16
Norway - 12
Greece - 8
Georgia - 4

Stephen Azzopardi's Malta came out of nowhere to finish not bottom, but 2nd and in the playoffs!


Group 7

Italy - 21*
------------------
Romania - 21*
------------------
Denmark - 15
Belarus - 13
Latvia - 13
Andorra - 0
*H2H: Italy 2 - 1 Romania

Andorra now haven't scored in 4 years.


Group 8

Turkey - 24
-----------------
Scotland - 18*
-----------------
Belgium - 18*
Slovakia - 10
Kazakhstan - 9
Liechtenstein - 4
*H2H: Scotland 2 - 1 Belgium

Turkey qualified for their first World Cup in 12 years.

Defending world champions Scotland have to go through the playoffs.

Belgium, after finishing 3rd at the last World Cup, don't even make it.


Group 9

England - 18
---------------
Croatia - 12
---------------
Austria - 11
Cyprus - 6
Iceland - 5

England only conceded 2 goals.


Playoffs (aggregate)

Croatia 1 - 2 Switzerland
Czech Republic 2 - 0 Romania
Malta 1 - 4 Russia
Scotland 3 - 0 Ukraine

Switzerland reach their first tournament since becoming runner-up of Euro 2020, and their first World Cup in 20 years!

Russia reach their first tournament in 14 years, while Malta manager Stephen Azzopardi is a national hero despite a 1-1 home draw being overturned.

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


CONCACAF

concacaf.JPG

Second Round - Shocks Everywhere

If 4 years ago saw the worst 2-legged result in USA's history (scraping past Nicaragua after two 1-1 draws and penalties), this year saw their worst one result ever. USA lost their first leg 1-0 in... Guyana. GUYANA!

It was a round full of shocks:

- Infamously bad Netherlands Antilles achieved one of footballing's greatest shocks and their best ever result by drawing 1-1 at home to Mexico

- Similarly, Montserrat drew 0-0 at home to Costa Rica

- Belize came from behind with an hour to go to knock out Gold Cup runner-up Canada in Canada

- Turks and Caicos Islands overturned a 2-0 loss to beat Honduras 4-2 on aggregate.

- Nicaragua beat El Salvador twice to go through

- Barbados destroyed Jamaica 6-1 in just the 1st leg to ease through

A lot of people are getting sacked I bet.
 

Third Round

Kyle Lightbourne's Bermuda qualified for the Hexagonal while achieving 2 draws with USA.

Turks & Caicos Islands reached the hallowed Hexagonal after a dramatic final day win over Costa Rica, recovering from 1-0 down to score in the 70th and 88th minute. They've knocked them out in the final minutes for the second campaign in a row!
 

Hexagonal

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Turks & Caicos Islands (as of writing, ranked joint BOTTOM in real life and with a population of under 40,000) qualified for their first ever World Cup. And with ease! A huge shock to do so with a few games to spare, but the nation had been gradually improving for a while. The golden generation includes a few players from the Premier League and Real Madrid at peak age.

USA scraped through despite a last-minute loss in Mexico, but it's clear the smaller nations are rising. After failing to qualify for 2014 and 2018 before, it'll get worse if they don't get their act together.
 

Final Group Standings

Mexico - 26
Turks & Caicos Islands - 17
USA - 12*

--------------------------------
Guatemala - 12*
--------------------------------
Anguilla - 10
Bermuda - 7
*GD: USA +4, Guatemala -4

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


CAF

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Have_renard_celebrating.jpg

Zambia, managed by Cagliari legend and former international Sashi Chalwe, reached their first World Cup.

Makan Dembélé's Mali and Nigeria, managed by former international and ex-Man Utd player John Obi Mikel, also qualify.

Angola reached their 2nd ever World Cup after holding Libya, who needed a win, to a 0-0 draw. (In the same group, Stephen Balsom's Malawi threw away a 3-0 lead in Mauritius while Central African Republic scored 3 in the last 10 minutes, 2 stoppage time goals, to win 4-1. It was still Malawi that qualified for the 2nd ever African Cup of Nations thanks to a superior head-to-head record over CAR, but that seems a very... African set of circumstances...)

Morocco qualified easily in a group of death that also contained Confederations Cup winners and back-to-back AFCON champions South Africa.

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


CONMEBOL

conembol_logo.jpg

Chile - 28
Argentina - 27
Peru - 25*

------------------
Uruguay - 25*
------------------
Colombia - 23
Bolivia - 21
Ecuador - 21
Paraguay - 13
Venezuela - 11
*GD: Peru +9, Uruguay +1

After 12 years away, and finishing bottom 4 years ago, Chile stormed to the top to qualify for the World Cup, thanks to top scorer and Arsenal striker Hans Sepúlveda's 11 goals in 15 games.

Peru needed to win in Uruguay to leapfrog them, and got a 2-0 win.

A Colombia win would've seen them through, but they lost 2-0 in Paraguay and failed to qualify for the first time in 20 years.

Bolivia's golden generation didn't have a 3rd World Cup in a row in them.

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


AFC

2bbd3a9ca3b0d9d8f967067ff82626e8-AFC-log

Second Round

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Australia didn't make the final group stage, finishing behind Jordan and Lebanon.

After 5 straight World Cups and on the back of an Olympic gold medal in LA, Iran didn't even make the final group stage, after a disastrous 1-1 draw away to Tajikistan in the penultimate game finished them below Uzbekistan. They sacked the manager and had their pick of former legends to replace him with. They went with the 108-cap Hosain Kaebi.
 

Third Round

Group A

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Uzbekistan - 13
South Korea - 8*

--------------------
Iraq - 8*
--------------------
Bahrain - 4
*Head-To-Head: South Korea 5 - 2 Iraq

With a history of close calls, the bridesmaid finally became the bride as Uzbekistan qualified for their first World Cup. After eliminating Iran in the previous round, they topped their group easily with 5 clean sheets in 5 before a meaningless loss in Iraq.
Asian champions Iraq must go through the playoffs.

Group B

UAE - 16
Saudi Arabia - 7

--------------------
Japan - 5
--------------------
Jordan - 3

The United Arab Emirates also provided a huge shock by topping their group unbeaten and reaching their second ever World Cup, having failed to even reach the last qualifying round in 24 years.

An own goal earned Saudi Arabia the draw they needed at home to Japan to beat them to the other spot and condemn them to the playoffs.

Jordan only scored one goal, as the 2018 quarter-finalists failed to qualify for the first time in 3 campaigns, marking the end of their golden generation.
 

Playoff (aggregate)

Iraq 1 - 5 Japan

A sending off just before half-time in the first leg, to their star defender, turned a 1-0 loss to a 4-0 loss for Iraq. That was too much to overcome.

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


OFC

OFC_Logo_WEB.jpg

Playoff (aggregate)

New Zealand 3 - 0 Tahiti

AFC - OFC Playoff (aggregate)

Japan 4 - 3 New Zealand

New Zealand were going through on away goals after a 74th-minute goal, but Japan scored 8 minutes later. Once again the Kiwis were close, yet so far.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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Two of Turks & Caicos Islands, Uzbekistan and Zambia in the same group..?

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Posted (edited)

2025/26 International Recap

Tunisia 2026 Africa Cup of Nations

1117894_xlarge-lnd.jpg

Tunisia took full advantage of being hosts and beat Ivory Coast 2-0 to become the first host nation to win the competition in 20 years. And they wouldn't have even qualified had they not been hosting!

Angola had a tournament-best performance by finishing 3rd.

90069dfe0f5f47cba2e2b247ccb6b455.gif

After defending champions South Africa were knocked out at the group stage, Neil Tovey stepped down as manager after 8 years that saw them become the first African country to win the Confederations Cup (beating Germany, world champs Scotland and thrashing Brazil 3-0 on the way!), win back-to-back AFCoNs and reach a World Cup quarter-final. He would go on to replace Nemanja Vidic at Scottish giants Hearts. South Africa , meanwhile, hire another former international in his place: Steve Komphela.

Comoros, in only their 2nd AFCoN, held their own by drawing with Algeria, losing 3-2 to Nigeria, and drawing with hosts Tunisia, which meant they finished 3rd in their group, above Algeria.

Malawi's first AFCoN in half a century saw them score against Democratic Republic of Congo, albeit an own goal.


2026 OFC Nations Cup

Kilifi Uele's Tonga, who had only ever qualified for the group stage once way back in 2010, went even further and became the 3rd new runner-up in a row. Danny Halligan's New Zealand beat them relatively easily over 2 legs to win it for the 3rd time in a row.

Despite taking Tahiti to the final 2 years ago, their coach was sacked after failing to reach the main tournament this time.

Solomon Islands failed to qualify for the 6th time in a row, finishing winless and bottom of their group.


2025 European Under-19 Championships

Russia won every game and didn't concede a goal against Ukraine, Finland, Italy nor hosts Netherlands twice. They won the tournament after beating the Dutch hosts 3-0 in the final.


Brazil 2026 World Cup Group Draw

World champions Scotland and hosts Brazil have been given the easiest draws possible, with **** easy groups meaning they shouldn't meet until the final.

Note: Teams in order of likely finish.

Group A
Scotland - Defending World Cup holders
Chile - First World Cup in 12 years
Russia - First tournament in 14 years
Angola - 2nd ever World Cup (2006)

Group B
Brazil - Hosts
Finland - Euro 2024 runner-up
United Arab Emirates - 2nd ever World Cup (1990)
Turks & Caicos Islands - World Cup debut, population: 40,000 (1/10th of Iceland)

Group C
Poland
Switzerland - First World Cup in 20 years
South Korea
Zambia - World Cup debut

Group D
Wales - First World Cup in 12 years
Czech Republic
Mali
USA

Group E
Germany - Euro 2024 winners
Uruguay
Netherlands - 2 draws v Germany in Euro 2024 qualifying playoffs
Japan

Group F
Italy - 2022 runner-up as hosts, Euro 2024 semi-finalists
Peru
Turkey - First World Cup in 12 years
Uzbekistan - World Cup debut

Group G
England
Nigeria
Saudi Arabia
Bosnia & Herzegovina - Tournament debut

Group H
Mexico - Beat Argentina 1-0 at 2022 World Cup
Morocco - Beat Mexico 1-0 at 2022 World Cup
Argentina - Beat Morocco 2-0 at 2022 World Cup
Spain - Haven't got out of group stage of World Cup in 20 years

Edited by git2thachoppa

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Brazil have got a **** easy group.

In a way, it's a shame Turks & Caicos Islands weren't drawn against Turkey.

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Brazil 2026 World Cup

641e684a83eec9d46c34efdfa305a869.jpg

The best World Cup for BBC and ITV intros!

 

Favourites

World champions Scotland and hosts Brazil have been given the easiest draws possible, with **** easy groups meaning they may well meet in the final.

The erratic Germany, who won Euro 2024, are just as likely to be a contender as they are to get knocked out at the group stage.

2022 hosts and runner-up Italy have reached at least the quarter-final stage in the past 5 World Cups.

Group A

(In order of likely finish)

Scotland - Defending World Cup holders
Chile - First World Cup in 12 years
Russia - First tournament in 14 years
Angola - 2nd ever World Cup (2006)

Russia 0 - 0 Angola
Both teams were happy with a 0-0. Off to a bad start.

Scotland 4 - 0 Chile
Chile were a mess, making so many horrendous mistakes and gifting goals, as well as getting a man sent off as Scotland made it 2-0.

Scotland 0 - 0 Russia
Russia clung on for another point, but they'll need to beat Chile or they're out.

Chile 1 - 0 Angola
Chile dominated and had a goal disallowed. Angola now have to beat the world champions.

Angola 0 - 2 Scotland
Scotland are through, Angola are out.

World-Cup-Group-A-Russia-vs-Saudi-Arabia

Russia 2 - 1 Chile
Chile had a goal correctly disallowed before taking the lead, but Russia got the win they needed thanks to an 87th-minute penalty!

Table

Scotland - 7
Russia - 5

---------------
Chile - 3
Angola - 1

Russia make it out of the group stage for the first time since 1986!

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


Group B

Brazil - Hosts
Finland - Euro 2024 runner-up
United Arab Emirates - 2nd ever World Cup (1990)
Turks & Caicos Islands - World Cup debut, population: 40,000 (1/10th of Iceland)

UAE 2 - 0 T&CI
The Islands' striker was lucky to only get a yellow for an elbow, but it didn't matter.

brazil-won-world-cup-21.jpg

Finland 0 - 1 Brazil
Brazil also had a goal disallowed as Finland's infamous match-killing tactics didn't work.

T&CI 1 - 1 Finland
Finland took only 32 seconds to score, but T&CI got their first ever World Cup goal to equalise. Both teams now need to win their final game.

Brazil 2 - 1 UAE
Despite going down to 10 men, UAE equalised, but the hosts got an 86th minute winner and are the first team to reach the next round.

T&CI 0 - 2 Brazil
The Islands had several clear cut chances immediately, and 14 shots by the end of the game, but they don't have a top class finisher. They were a man down and losing 2-0 by the 47th minute.

UAE 1 - 2 Finland
Finland nearly threw it away with a mistake in the 87th minute making it 1-1, but they scored the required winner under 2 minutes later!

Table

Brazil - 9
Finland - 4

-------------------------------
United Arab Emirates - 3
Turks & Caicos Islands - 1

T&CI got an historic point, UAE nearly made history themselves.

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


Group C

Poland
Switzerland - First World Cup in 20 years
South Korea
Zambia - World Cup debut

Switzerland 5 - 0 Zambia
3-0 up in 16 minutes, 5-0 up by half-time. A nightmare for the goalkeeper as 5 of 6 Swiss shots on target went straight in.

Poland 2 - 0 S. Korea
2 goals in the first 9 minutes made it easy.

Zambia 0 - 0 Poland
The Poles are kicking themselves after not putting away several clear-cut chances.

AEN20161114010651315_01_i.jpg

S. Korea 2 - 2 Switzerland
South Korea dominated, but 2 mistakes saw them behind with 10 minutes to go... Relief at the end, but they should've won.

S. Korea 1 - 0 Zambia
South Korea needed a big win, but a trademark late winner from Busan striker Jeon Jin-Man was the only goal. Now they had to hope Switzerland thrashed Poland.

Poland 3 - 0 Switzerland
The Poles played both lovely passing football and deadly route one to demolish the Swiss, so both teams still go through.

Table

Poland - 7
Switzerland - 4 (+2 GD)

----------------------------
South Korea - 4 (-1 GD)
Zambia - 1

Poland's weak group means they reach the knockouts for the first time since 1986!

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


Group D

Wales - First World Cup in 12 years
Czech Republic
Mali
USA

Wales 0 - 0 Czech Rep.
The Czechs had a goal disallowed.

Mali 2 - 0 USA
A routine win after getting a 2-0 lead in 16 minutes.

USA 1 -1 Czech Rep.
USA couldn't take advantage of having an extra man and only get a point.

f2615f728ebb541a790f6a706700d325.jpg

Mali 1 - 0 Wales
A late winner sees Mali through and already confirmed top of the group!

Wales 0 - 0 USA
Wales had the better of the game, but USA missed 2 one-on-one chances in stoppage time. Wales now had to hope the Czechs lost their game.

Czech Rep. 2 - 0 Mali
A last-minute set-piece confirmed the Czech's qualification.

Mali - 6
Czech Republic - 5
-----------------------
Wales - 2 (-1 GD)
USA - 2 (-2 GD)

Mali breeze through to reach the knockouts in only their second World Cup!

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


Group E

Germany - Euro 2024 winners
Uruguay
Netherlands - 2 draws v Germany in Euro 2024 playoffs
Japan

Netherlands 1 - 1 Germany
Germany only took 4 minutes to lead, but a goalkeeping error meant another draw.

Uruguay 0 - 0 Japan
A good performance from Japan, despite 0 shots on target. Uruguay eventually played for the 0-0 too.

Germany 1 - 0 Uruguay
One set-piece was the difference with the keeper beaten to the ball.

Japan 0 - 0 Netherlands
Japan actually had a couple of chances. Despite still having no shots on target, it's another good draw! But now they need to beat Germany.

Germany 2 - 1 Japan
An incredible first half saw Germany take the lead in 14 seconds, then get a man sent off a minute later. However, Germany played an attacking 3-4-3. 13 minutes later, an attempted lob was pushed away, hit the post, and bounced off a Japanese defender for an own goal to make it 2-0. Japan got a goal back 9 minutes later, but Germany regrouped after half time and controlled the rest of the game.

Netherlands 2 - 0 Uruguay
They only needed a draw, but a penalty helped make this a routine win.

Table

Germany - 7
Netherlands - 5

----------------------
Japan - 2
Uruguay - 1

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


Group F

Italy - 2022 runner-up as hosts, Euro 2024 semi-finalists
Peru
Turkey - First World Cup in 12 years
Uzbekistan - World Cup debut

Uzbekistan 2 - 0 Peru
Shock! The Asians get a debut win!

Italy 0 - 0 Turkey

Turkey 1 - 0 Uzbekistan
A penalty is the only thing that separated the two.

Peru 0 - 0 Italy
A drab 0-0 keeps both teams in contention but needing to win their final game to be sure.

Peru 1 - 1 Turkey
Peru fought back from 1-0 down, but it wasn't enough.

FPGC5DL6HEY5LOXMVMMWES424A.jpg

Uzbekistan 1 - 1 Italy
Uzbeks stormed the field at the final whistle, while the Italians collapsed! The 10 Uzbeks held on despite losing their lead after losing a player due to injury and having no more subs. What a debut tournament it's turning out to be!

Table

Turkey - 5
Uzbekistan - 4

--------------------
Italy - 3
Peru - 2

This group's the wrong way round!

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


Group G

England
Nigeria
Saudi Arabia
Bosnia & Herzegovina - Tournament debut

B&H 1 - 1 Saudi Arabia

England 2 - 0 Nigeria
A goal at 2 minutes and stoppage time from the two strikers settles things.

Nigeria 1 - 2 B&H
A controversial 80th minute penalty overturned Nigeria's lead and knocked them out of the tournament before the other 2 teams even played.

Saudi Arabia 0 - 1 England
England are through.

B&H 1 - 3 England
B&H were incensed as they went 2-0 behind thanks to penalties at the start of the first and second halves, which were followed by a red card for a two-footed tackle.

Saudi Arabia 0 - 0 Nigeria
It didn't matter though. You wouldn't have thought this was a must-win match. There was a 40-minute gap between kick-off for the second half and the next key highlight.

England - 9
Bosnia & Herzegovina - 4

-------------------------------
Saudi Arabia - 2
Nigeria - 1

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


Group H

Mexico - Beat Argentina 1-0 at 2022 World Cup
Morocco - Beat Mexico 1-0 at 2022 World Cup
Argentina - Beat Morocco 2-0 at 2022 World Cup
Spain - Haven't got out of group stage of World Cup in 20 years

Morocco 2 - 0 Argentina
A 2-0 lead in just 8 minutes gives Morocco a big win.

Mexico 0 - 0 Spain
Spain escape with a point.

Argentina 2 - 1 Mexico

Spain 1 - 1 Morocco
The Africans took the lead in just 2 minutes, but Spain then had the better of the match.

Morocco 2 - 1 Mexico
Morocco should've won by more. They're through, Mexico are out.

Argentina 0 - 1 Spain
A draw would've been enough for Argentina. Spain only scored after the South Americans had a man sent off, and the goal itself was controversial as a player who was offside was battling (interfering with play) for the cross that a teammate scored from.

Morocco - 7
Spain - 5

----------------
Argentina - 3
Mexico - 1

Argentina, the back-to-back 2014 and 2018 winners, have been elimianted at the group stage for the 2nd time in a row now.

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


Round of 16

Will we get Scotland v England in the semis?

Finland 1 - 2 Scotland
3 disallowed goals (2 for Finland, including in stoppage time) made for a breathless game, but Scotland came back from 1-0 down to get revenge for their Euro 2024 semi-final loss.

Mali 0 - 1 Switzerland
A defensive error in stoppage time ends the dream. A team of 4 Diawaras and 4 Keitas is not enough to reach the quarters!

Turkey 1 - 0 Netherlands
It took Turkey 6 minutes to score, their midfielder beating Netherlands' Turkish-born keeper to the ball.

Spain 0 - 0 England AET
Spain win 5-4 on penalties
after 4.5 rounds (1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-3, 5-3)
England were no real threat and couldn't figure out Spain's 4-1-3-1-1 formation. Spain really had the better chances.

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

Hulk+Neymar+Brazil+v+Chile+Round+16+2014

Russia 2 - 2 Brazil AET (1-1 FT)
Brazil win 6-7 on penalties after 10 rounds (0-1, 1-2, 1-3, 2-3, 3-3, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, 6-7)
One of the most incredible matches in World Cup history!
Russia looked in trouble after they had a man sent off, but only 4 minutes later it was 10 v 10 after a professional foul by the last man!
Russia took the lead from the resulting free-kick, which was cancelled out 3 minutes later!
Brazil led in extra time, only for Russia to score a last-minute equaliser!
Russia went first in the shootout, but missed, eventually going 3-1 down, but Brazil choked twice and it was 3-3 as the shootout went to sudden death! It ended with the goalkeepers having to decide it, with Russia's goalkeeper having his saved and Brazil's finishing the job! The hosts scrape through!
There are not enough exclamation points to convey the drama and excitement of this historic fictional match that no one else cares about!!!

Czech Republic 1 - 1 Poland AET (1-1 FT)
Poland win 5-4 on penalties after 5 rounds (1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 3-4, 4-5)
A harsh late penalty gave Poland a lifeline, which turned into a penalty shootout victory.

27ger-cry.jpg

Uzbekistan 0 - 0 Germany AET
Uzbekistan win 5-4 on penalties after 6 rounds (1-1, 1-2, 2-3, 3-3, 4-4, 5-4)
Despite missing key players, Uzbekistan successfully killed off the game and stopped the giants ever really being a threat, and then beat the Germans on penalties of all things!

Morocco 1 - 0 Bosnia & Herzegovina
B&H were barely a threat as Morocco dominated.

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


Quarter-Finals

Will it be a final of Brazil v Scotland and hosts v defending champions?

Scotland 0 - 0 Switzerland AET
Scotland win 4-3 on penalties after 4.5 rounds (1-1, 2-2, 3-2, 4-3, 4-3)
Scotland sleepwalked into a penalty shootout, but the world champions' complacency wasn't punished.

Turkey 1 - 1 Spain AET (1-1 FT)
1-4 on pens after 3.5 rounds (0-1, 0-2, 1-3, 1-4)
10-man Turkey took the lead, but Spain made a late comeback. Turkey also lost a striker to injury and his replacement got a knock but had to stay on. Spain stumble through again.

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

Brazil 1 - 0 Poland
There were no shots on target for OVER AN HOUR, until Brazil scored with the first.

Uzbekistan 2 - 0 Morocco
Their star Arsenal striker scored with a volley outside the area, and a few minutes later doubled the lead from close range. Uzbekistan in the semis!

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


Semi-Finals

Brazil 2 - 1 Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan played so well, cutting open Brazil with sexy passing to make it 2-1. Man Utd striker Santos nearly completed a hat-trick after a Maradona-calibre run.

Scotland 0 - 0 Spain AET
Scotland win 3-1 on penalties after 3.5 rounds (1-0, 2-1, 3-1, 3-1)
Spain held on to make it to penalties yet again, but the world champions won't be stopped.

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


3rd-Place Playoff

Uzbekistan 0 - 0 Spain AET
Spain win 1-0 on penalties after 4.5 rounds (0-1, 0-1, 0-1, 0-1, 0-1)
You read that right. The villains of the tournament scraped through one more time, ****ing 1-0 on penalties with 7 in a row missed. The Uzbeks played lovely passing and counter-attacking football again, and they've won everyone's hearts. They feel like the real winners.

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


Brazil 2026 World Cup Final
@ Maracana in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil/Fluminense/Flamengo/Botafogo)

riopost-maraca.jpg

Brazil.jpg  v  Scotland.jpg

Brazil v Scotland

History

Hosts Brazil have won the World Cup the most times with 6, but last won it way back in 2010 in South Africa. They finished 3rd in 2018 without conceding a goal.

Scotland are the defending world cup winners after their shock win in 2022, notably beating the hosts in the final...

Form

Brazil got 9 points in the group stage, beating Euro 2024 runner-up Finland. The dramatic epic against Russia saw them beat the plucky underdogs on penalties, just, before dealing with Poland and underdogs Uzbekistan with relative ease.

Scotland have only conceded 1 goal. They opened their campaign by thrashing Chile 4-0 before drawing with Russia. They got revenge for their Euro 2024 semi loss against Finland, but couldn't break through Switzerland or Spain and needed penalties after 0-0 draws.

Brazil and Scotland have only met 9 times in their history, last in 1998, and Scotland have never beaten Brazil.

Managers

Reginaldo Alexandre's only previous job was in Brazil's Série C for a couple of years. He has been in charge of Brazil for 5 years. His side were unimpressive as they were knocked out in the round of 16 in the 2022 World Cup, but they then won the 2023 Copa América without conceding a goal, their first trophy in 13 years. The hosts didn't make it out their Confederations Cup group though, only drawing with Poland before being thrashed 3-0 by eventual winners South Africa.

36-year-old Derek Sinclair was faced with the daunting task of his first ever job being in charge of the shock world champions. They kept a clean sheet in 7 of 8 Euro 2024 qualifying games before reaching the semis. World Cup qualifying was tougher and they needed the playoffs to qualify. However, in 2025, his side kept 11 clean sheets and reached the Confederations Cup final (losing on penalties).

Team News

Brazil are missing 3 players, most importantly their attacking midfielder who got a yellow in the semi that ruled him out of his own country's final.

Scotland have a full squad.

Brazil's young Santos and Scotland's veteran Ronnie Allan are joint-top of the scoring charts (with 2 other players) with 4 goals each. It could go down to assists or who gets subbed off first. If neither score, Scotsman Davidson will win it with a goal and an assist, while Brazilian Alexandre would need 2 or 3 goals.

Both teams play a standard 4-4-2.

Brazil: José (Sevilla); Jeferson (Racing), Souza (Atlético Madrid), Almeida (Valencia), Moreira (Chelsea); Silva (Valencia), Batista (Sporting CP), Clóvis (Valencia), Goncalves (Palermo); Alexandre (Lazio), Santos (Man Utd) - 5 La Liga, 2 Premier League, 2 Serie A, 1 Portuguese Primeira Liga, 1 Superliga Argentina

Scotland: Campbell (Recreativo); MacKenzie (Arsenal), Hunter (Sheff Utd), McGregor (Chelsea), Moffat (Motherwell); Brown (Lazio), Wight (Napoli), Harvey (AC Milan), Hegarty (Coventry); Davidson (Sheff Wed), Allan (Real Betis) - 5 Premier League, 3 Serie A, 2 La Liga, 1 SPL

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

maracana19.jpg

First Half

15273476_22-03-13%202014%20WORLD%20CUP%2

2: Santos is on one of his 1986-Maradona runs and gets fouled by the last man Hunter. Everyone groans as he's unsurprisingly sent off. Scotland have to beat the hosts with 10 men. They change to a 3-4-2.

12: Batista (CM) gets a knock a few minutes later and is surprisingly subbed off for a striker. Striker Santos is moved out of position into central midfield... interesting...

29: Souza trips Davidson in the area. Penalty! And Brown gives 10-man Scotland the lead!

Despite Scotland being down to 10 men and having a lead to protect, they're still attacking and are a threat!

Half Time

Santos and the sub striker swap places, with their top scorer now back up front. They'd been ineffective since that odd decision to move him into midfield.

Scotland's Mackenzie (RB) is substituted for a centre-back, seeing as they're playing a back 3 now.

Second Half

53: Davidson (ST) intercepts a cross-field ball from the RB, dribbles past the defence, and his shot goes in off the far post! The 10 men have doubled the lead! This is why they're champions!

Now with a healthy lead to protect and time ticking away, Scotland change to a 5-2-1-1. Striker Allan is subbed off for an attacking midfielder, right-winger Brown comes off for right wing-back Pressley.

grandpa.jpg

62: Harvey collects a pass, dribbles past the defence and scores! What's happening? Brazil are collapsing! Who would've thought Brazil would put on such a poor display in the business end of a World Cup they're hosting???(!)

FERNANDINHO

73: Alexandre gets on the end of a free-kick to score and keep the game alive.

Another interesting move as Brazil's manager takes off both Santos and the substitute striker and replaces them with a striker and a left-back. Brazil now have 2 left-backs on the pitch.

77: Brazil's substitute left-back crosses in and it falls to Alexandre, but his shot goes straight to the keeper. A bad miss.

80: Brazil make a slight change, pushing their wingers way up for a 4-2-4.

90: The change does nothing, so Brazil go back to 4-4-2. No plan B, then?

Full Time

10-man Scotland decimated Brazil, in Brazil, to become back-to-back world champions. They had 3 shots, all on target, all went in. Brazil, not so much.

This country is delivering one of the most dominant international performances of all time.

Final score

Brazil 1 - 3 Scotland
Scotland Red Card: Hunter (2)
0-3: Brown (pen 29), Davidson (53), Harvey (62)
1-3: Alexandre (73)

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

2026 World Champions

Scotland

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

Scotland now have more World Cups than England!

They also become the first team to beat the hosts in back-to-back World Cup finals!

They're the 4th team to successfully defend a World Cup, and the 2nd country in a row to do so (Argentina won in 2014 and 2018).

Awards

Golden Boot: Derek Davidson (ST, Scotland) - 4 goals (2 assists)
Golden Ball: Zengin Yuce (GK, Turkey) - 7.80 average rating in 5 games
Golden Glove: Zengin Yuce (GK, Turkey)
Best Young Player: Mike Stewart (DC, USA) - 19 years old, 7.33 average rating in 3 games
Most Man of the Match: Pablo de la Pena (DC/DM/MC, Spain) - 3 MOTM awards
Most Entertaining Team: Uzbekistan

Team of the Tournament

Yuce (Turkey)
Graf (Switzerland) - Issah (Nigeria) - Caso (Peru) - James (England) - Cummins (England)
Wight (Scotland) - Pablo de la Pena (Spain)
Davidson (Scotland) - Santos (Brazil) - Allan (Scotland)

Records Broken

Highest Average Attendance - 75,045

World Cup Bests

Spain - 3rd (Previous best: QF - 86, 94, 02)
Uzbekistan - 4th (Debut)
Morocco - QF (Round of 16 - 86, 22)
Mali - Round of 16 (Debut)
Bosnia & Herzegovina - Round of 16 (Debut)
Turks & Caicos Islands - Group Stage (Debut)
Zambia - Group Stage (Debut)


Managerial News

684995_1.jpg

Chris Coleman's unpopular reign as Wales manager ended after 6 years. He failed to take them to Euro 2024 after 4 Euros in a row, but did make it to the 2026 World Cup, albeit they didn't score in this tournament.

6708726-6433405-Frank_Rijkaard_pictured_

Frank Rijkaard's tumultuous 7 years in charge of Netherlands ended with his retirement. He took charge of the Euro 2016 winners and they couldn't even score a goal in the next World Cup. They didn't even qualify for the 2022 World Cup nor Euro 2024, but somehow he survived.

skysports-football-maarten-stekelenburg_

Former international Maarten Stekelenburg is promoted from the Under-19s to take Rijkaard's place.

csm_fischer_fcb_grosplan_469_e1d8c6f25b.

After 9 years in charge of Switzerland, Urs Fischer stepped down. Before achieving their equal-best performance in a World Cup, and their first World Cup in 20 years, he had taken them to the Euro 2020 final.

petri-pasanen-portsmouth-picture-id68127

Ubaldino Romitelli resigned as a Finland legend, having taking the team to the Euro 2024 final, beating now-back-to-back world champs Scotland on the way and only being knocked out by them this time around. Former international Petri Pasanen replaces him.

Argentina's manager was sacked after he failed to get the 2014 and 2018 world champions out of the group stage of this tournament and the 2023 Copa América.

Morocco's manager resigned after 13 years that saw the Africans reach an AFCoN final, and the World Cup for the first time since France 98. Not only that, but matching their best ever performance in 2022 then beating it this year.

Russia's manager moved on after taking them to a World Cup and going unbeaten, including a draw with the world champions and an epic draw with hosts Brazil.

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Rajko Vidovic resigned after 7 years in charge of Bosnia & Herzegovina. He finally gave the country their first tournament, and they got out the group too!

Chile's manager left by mutual consent. Despite reaching the 2023 Copa América semis and topping qualifying, they were mauled by Scotland, only beat Angola 1-0, then got knocked out by a late Russia goal.

Angola's manager resigned after a great year saw them reach the AFCoN semis and only their 2nd ever World Cup.

Sashi Chalwe resigned as Zambia manager after taking them to their first World Cup and a draw with Poland.

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Juan Carlos Chávez was sacked by Mexico after only 1 point.


Man Utd Player Watch

Santos was Brazil's breakout star. His runs were frightening and majestic, and he nearly got the Golden Boot with 4 goals.

Scotland's Pressley and 2022 Golden Ball winner Preston were squad players, the former getting a few sub appearances and the latter not being used at all in likely his last World Cup.

Castillo was one of Mexico's more reliable performers in defence.

He scored in 4 games in a row at the AFCoN, but problematic record signing Kanu lasted 10 minutes for Nigeria before getting injured yet again. The only way his Man Utd career can be saved will be by putting him on light training, He risks becoming a famous flop.

Striker Boussoufa started all 5 of Morocco's game without standing out. He didn't score.

Winger Topic was played out of position as a CM in a 5-3-2 for Bosnia & Herzegovina, and was subbed off at half-time in all 4 matches. He only made 1 key pass.

Viveros is an incoming left wing-back/winger who I managed as Chile manager a decade ago. He was subbed off in all 3 games, but he did fine and got a goal.

Aleksandrowicz is an incoming young defender and midfielder. He was a sub for Poland and came on in all 5 games, doing his job.

Kirn is a young German centre-back coming in the summer who made his international debut off the bench before the World Cup, but didn't get a game here.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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Strange World Cup... though your save is clearly ****ed if Scotland win it once, never mind twice.

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5-Year Recap: 2021 - 2026

 

See 2006 - 2011 5-year recap here: Link
See 2011- 2016 5-year recap here: Link
See 2016- 2021 5-year recap here: Link

- My Career
- The Bucket List
- Club Football
- International Football
- Notable Managers / Teams


My Career

Valenciennes (France)

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No one predicted what came next after we returned to Ligue 1: in my 4th season at the club, newly promoted little Valenciennes topped the Ligue 1 table and stayed there for 3 months over winter, while also reaching a first cup semi in decades.

But the players bottled it and fell to 5th, 1 point away from Champions League football. Still, Valenciennes qualified for Europe for the first time ever! Our debut Europa League campaign saw us even reach the group stage and we were 17 minutes from the knockout stages.

3 months after elimination, I resigned. I'd taken them as far as I could and had been staying for the European adventure. The stress of the FIFA corruption scandal that saw us relegated had taken its toll and I needed a break. I also needed a job with more potential and a competitive budget. I sure found it...

Busan IPark (South Korea)

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A rich, major club from a seaside city in South Korea was exactly what I needed. I didn't care about my career, I just needed something I'd enjoy.

While the club had a huge budget (£5m!), I was the highest-profile manager to ever manage in the league and it was my global connections that gave us the edge over other teams. Record signing Alex, a struggling young striker I had at Valenciennes, scored 54 goals in 63(11) games under me.

In my first half-season, we won the title playoffs with a dramatic last-second equaliser and last-minute extra time winner. I was in tears with the elation... and I vowed never to have to go through that again. So next season, we destroyed Seoul 8-0 in the 2nd leg of the playoff final. In fact, we won a unique Simultaneous Double, winning the League Cup while we were out winning the A3 Champions Cup too. We then won the Champions League and FA Cup, meaning we won the Quintuple that season! Only the loss in the Super Cup season opener had cost us a clean sweep.

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After 2 years, I got the chance at a dream job and had to leave. I feel like I'll return to Busan and South Korea one day though, either as a manager or just a retired ex-pat.

Manchester United (England)

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Things had got stale at United with a ridiculously old squad and even older staff, and I oversaw the greatest overhaul since Sir Alex Ferguson first arrived, which saw Darren Fletcher, John O'Shea and Rene Meulensteen return.

My debut was a 5-0 thrashing of Spurs at Old Trafford, with my new signing Sibiya getting a hat-trick. In the first half of the season we were on fire and were dark horses for the title. By the end of the season, we finished 'bottom of the Big 6' again, missing out on the Champions League by a point thanks to the late half-season stutter.

But we did enjoy a rare win over Liverpool and a first Manchester derby win in 9 matches.

It's just the first year of a long-term plan with a squad still in transition, and we should improve from here...

Trophies/Medals

Busan

2023 trophy: K League 1 title
2023 awards: K League 1 Manager of the Year, FA Cup Best Manager
2024 trophies: Champions League, K League 1, FA Cup, League Cup, A3 Champions Cup
2024 awards: Asian Manager of the Year, K League 1 Manager of the Year, FA Cup Best Manager
2025 trophy: Korean Super Cup


The Bucket List

Win something - 4/5/08 - Serie C2/A title with Varese.

Manage a club in one of the major nations - 13/11/06 - Varese in Italy.

Manage in a large stadium - 17/10/07 - My debut with Tunisia, a deciding World Cup qualifer, was in front of 59,997. But the 100,000-capacity Azadi in Tehran probably won't be beaten.

Manage Iran (my second nationality) - 18/7/10 - Arrived as a promising manager, left a legend.

Manage one of the Home Nations - I'm English, but being stalked and abused by the press isn't everyone's idea of a fun time. I'm 1/8th Irish (like the rest of the world), so I'm including Republic of Ireland.

Manage Manchester United - 28/6/25

Manage Brighton & Hove Albion - My hometown club.

Manage Worthing - My actual hometown club that I don't support because they're so low down that it's impossible to, and they may never be at a level where I could consider managing them.

Manage Barcelona or Real Madrid - Like the England job, but the press are comedically nutty rather than sadistic, and the players are incredible.

Manage an Old Firm club - I prefer Celtic, because green is my favourite colour. Also: 1/8th Irish.

Manage in the MLS - A lower quality of football, thanks partly to David Beckham's L.A. Galaxy deal falling through, but there are worse things than to get paid to do football and live in New York or L.A.

Manage a host nation - A unique challenge

Manage Japan - I like Japan.

Manage in South Korea - 11/6/23 - A law means I can't manage a Japanese club, so South Korea was next best... I took charge of Busan, won everything, and it was the best time of my life.

Manage A Big Sexy International Team - Brazil, Germany, Italy, Argentina, maybe France, Spain or Netherlands.

Manage a stinking rich club - 11/6/23 - Busan's transfer budget was a whopping £5m which made us the Chelsea of Korea.

Get sacked - 20/10/06 - Everyone has to get sacked. I got in early, losing my first job at Salyut-Energia Belgorod in just over 3 months after failing to steer them away from relegation.

Experience an international tournament - Australia 2011 Asian Cup - Achieved with Iran finishing runner-up, their best performance in decades.

Experience a World Cup - Espana '14 - Achieved with Iran. The 4 points and 3 goals in Spain was their best ever performance.

Experience an Olympics - London 2012 - Achieved with Iran U23s, their first appearance ever (and since the 70s for Iran in general, when it was a senior tournament)

Win every continent's international competition - Collecting trophies while experiencing new and unique environments

Gain a famous friend - Frank Rijkaard - Met the La Liga title-streak-winning manager after his Barcelona team asked to play a friendly at Varese

Become a millionaire - The Iran job brought me into 7 figures, and I've had regular work since then.


Club Football

As well as seeing final day title battles featuring none of the traditional big sides, we're now seeing big names get relegated.

In the 'minor' European leagues, it'd be quicker to name which powerhouses HAVEN'T dropped. The biggest name to suffer is Fenerbahce (and next season they get relegated to the 3rd tier!), but others include BATE Borisov, Brondby, Hajduk Split, FC Copenhagen, CSKA Sofia, Maccabi Haifa, Austria Wien, Sturm Graz, Dinamo Minsk and Partizan Belgrade. In the 'major' leagues, Deportivo La Coruna, Leverkusen, Everton and Tottenham are the big ones.

This comes after PSG, Genk, Santos, Sparta Prague, Spartak Moscow, Dinamo Zagreb, Levski Sofia and the 2 Tel-Aviv clubs suffering relegations in the recent past. Rosenborg of Norway even went down to the 3rd tier.

It seems football is trending toward everything being equal and the same where everyone can get relegated or win the title eventually...

Though tell that to Newcastle United, who built on their league titles and first Champions League to become a dominant force. In 2021/22, they won the Premier League with a record equalling 95 points, +60 goal difference, only 1 loss and 17 goals conceded. They've won 2 more leagues and Champions Leagues, but the Treble eludes them despite 3 FA Cup wins in this time.

We also saw teams go all the way down the football league then straight back up. Charlton Athletic achieved 3 promotions in 5 seasons to go from League Two back into the Premier League. Crystal Palace suffered back-to-back relegations to League Two before back-to-back promotions. Sunderland also went to the bottom league and are working their way back up.

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Belgium continues to be a hipster's and movie writer's wet dream. A decade after 3 teams finished on equal points for 2 SEASONS IN A ROW, the same happened again... and more! Standard's manager betrayed them by joining Brussels in April... and with tiebreakers equal at the end of the season too this time, the top 2 had a final playoff decider... and it was these 2 teams! The turncoat manager lifted the trophy in the end.

Champions-League.jpg

Arsenal reached 5 Champions League finals in the last 10 years and won none of them.

Champions League Winners

2022: AC Milan (9)
2023: Hamburger SV (2)
2024: Newcastle United (2)
2025: Bayern Munich (6)
2026: Newcastle United (3)


International Football

The same trend of big names dropping and small names rising appeared in international football to a shocking degree.

After one of the closest UEFA qualifying campaigns ever, South America's 12-year grip on the World Cup was ended by a UEFA team: Scotland, who hadn't even won a World Cup game since 1990!

Not only that, but they beat the hosts Italy in the final!

Then the Scots repeated Argentina's feat by retaining the trophy 4 years later!

By taking a 3-0 lead against Brazil in the final!

In Brazil!

With only 10 men for the whole match!

Finland, meanwhile, reached the Euro 2024 final, but it was the resurgent Germans that claimed their record-equalling/breaking 3rd/5th Euro trophy.

Meanwhile, Malta beat the Netherlands in the Netherlands.

Asia also saw big names flopping, with Iran and Australia failing to get to the once routine final qualifying stage for 2026.

The Americas was home of the craziest shocks - Montserrat, Nicaragua, Anguilla, Netherlands Antilles, Barbados, Belize and Bermuda giving impressive displays and giantkillings against the huge nations in World Cup qualifiers, but the rise of Turks & Caicos Islands (population: 40,000) was the biggest story. They beat the CONCACAF Gold Cup winners Costa Rica in 2022 qualifying and made the actual World Cup finals in 2026 with ease!


Notable Managers / Teams

Sir Mike Richardson / Scotland - The rookie manager masterminded Scotland's shock World Cup victory in Italy, then desired a step away from the fast lane. He joined Conference side Hereford, Basel and Dundee United all as assistant before accepting a promotion at Dundee United. He was nearly immediately headhunted by Bundesliga side Koln, who he guided way up to a surprise 3rd in his first season. He clearly has talent.

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Sir Steve McClaren / Newcastle United - An incredible 14 years in charge of sleeping giants Newcastle United ended with retirement in 2024. 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. Footballing legend.

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David Moyes / Bayern Munich - Moyes has been at the club for 13 years now, winning 9 Bundesliga titles and 2 Champions Leagues.

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Pep Guardiola / Real Betis - After establishing Betis as Champions League knockout regulars (reaching the semis in 2022), Pep broke the 2 Madrid clubs' 5-year dominance by picking up Betis' 3rd ever title (6 years after Gordon Strachan won their 2nd) and winning a league and cup double.

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Craig Levein / Hearts / Bochum - The Lithuanian Romanov Revolution helped Hearts to their first SPL title in 50 years, but it was under Levein that they reached and stayed at the top. In his decade at the club, they won 5 more titles (with another on the way), 3 FA Cups, a League Cup and became Champions League knockout regulars, reaching 2 quarter-finals. He resigned to take charge of Bochum and took them to 4th in his first full season, their highest ever league position.

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Mike Newell / Sheffield Wednesday - After an incredible record with West Brom, he won Wednesday's first major trophy since 1935 with the FA Cup, took them to the Europa League semis, then was sacked months later.

Alfredo Calderón / Bolivia - Took Bolivia to the World Cup not once, but twice, finishing in the round of 16 and then the quarter-finals, only losing to the hosts on penalties. He also took them to the Copa América semis. After he retired, they failed to qualify for the 2026 World Cup.

Esaie Nsangou / Gabon - Gabon's greatest manager retired after taking the unknown African nation to a World Cup, getting a draw against the now world champions, as well as an AFCON semi-final and two consecutive quarter-final appearances.

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Patrick Collot / Hamburger SV - Despite failures in Italy, his taking charge of Hamburger SV and guiding them to 3 Bundesliga titles and a Europa League trophy, then the Champions League trophy, cannot be ignored.

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Marcelino García Toral / Real Madrid / Newcastle United - Marcelino left Real after 9 titles, including 6 in a row, and achieving a long-awaited La Décima. After Sir Steve retired, Newcastle eventually hired Marcelino. Had he been in charge a month earlier, maybe they would've won the title, but instead they had to make do with a Champions League and FA Cup double.

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Yves Colleu / Amiens / PSG - His first job in football lasted over 13 years, as he took Amiens from the 3rd-tier to 3rd in Ligue 1. Their first and only 3 trophies ever were won under him: 1 Coupe de la Ligue and 2 Coupe de France trophies. After a year in the MLS, he returned to PSG and won the top-half club their first league title in 20 years.

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Neil Tovey / South Africa - 8 years saw them become the first African country to win the Confederations Cup (beating Germany, world champs Scotland and thrashing Brazil 3-0 on the way!), win back-to-back AFCoNs and reach a World Cup quarter-final.

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Uwe Rosler / Germany - Jurgen Klopp won Euro 2012 and came runner-up for 2016, but Germany had failed to even qualify for the 2018 World Cup or get out the group stage of Euro 2020. Rosler not only qualified for the 2022 World Cup, but came 3rd, then won Euro 2024.

Ubaldino Romitelli / Finland - They beat world champions Scotland on the way to the Euro 2024 final, and were only knocked out at the 2026 World Cup by them.

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Urs Fischer / Switzerland - Before achieving their equal-best performance in a World Cup, and their first World Cup in 20 years, he had taken them to the Euro 2020 final.

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Sergio Bueno / Palermo / Newcastle United - His one-season reigns at Palermo and Newcastle before retirement brought trophies, as the Italians won their first ever Coppa Italia and the Geordies didn't suffer a McClaren hangover at all as they stormed the title by 18 points.

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Jose Manuel de la Torre / AC Milan - Replacing Frank Rijkaard in 2014, he immediately broke Inter's 7-year Scudetto streak with back-to-back titles of his own. Next season, they won the Champions League. He's so far won 6 titles, 1 Coppa Italia and 3 Champions League trophies, and they've reached at least the semis of the CL for 5 years now.

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Stephen Azzopardi / Malta - Although they beat the Netherlands in 2021, Malta always finished bottom of qualifying. But 3 years into Azzopardi's reign, they finished with 17 points and reached the playoffs.

Denis Sultonov / Uzbekistan - Previously infamous for always just falling at the final hurdle, Uzbekistan hadn't even reached the last group stage of World Cup qualifying for 16 years. But Sultonov's side finished above Iran to make it, then kept a clean sheet in every match until they'd qualified for their World Cup debut. Then they had a dream run to the semis, beating Germany on penalties on the way.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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2026/27 Pre-Season - Low Expectations

Pre-Season

Budget and Expectations

With the bank balance in the negative for the first time in years, there's barely a transfer budget this season and the wage bill has to be slashed, but I was always going to sell a few players and I spent £100m last season.

This means the board are aware this is a slow build and a long-term plan, and expectations have tempered a lot. The board are "very pleased" with me and they only expect qualification for Europe this season. So Improvement would be nice, but more of the same please.

The fans still fully back me and are delighted with me bringing back the old Man Utd but, naturally, expect improvement and thus want a proper title challenge this time. We were on the brink of challenging last season, but we didn't take advantage of our games in hand.

Our media prediction is one place lower than last season's prediction: 4th.

What I want is the same as what I wanted last season - get into the top 4 and win the FA Cup and/or Europa League. But this time, I'm more reserved. I'll be happy with 19 0-0 draws away from home. I know we're nowhere near Arsenal and Newcastle's physical specimens, so any points against them would be an improvement, but we should expect points again from everyone else.

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


Transfer Activity

Record signing Kanu strained ligaments yet again. I don't want to cut my losses yet, I want him to get a chance in his 2nd season. I'm putting him on a light training programme. If it doesn't get better, he could be gone by January and labelled an infamous flop.

The transfer window opens with 11 players coming in on a free, mostly youngsters and no compensation paid. This includes Jan Krpec, a 21-year-old striker from my former club Valenciennes, who I'd signed before I left. The total value of the free players is over £31.5m.

The first-team signings are:

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Juan Pablo Viveros - WB/M/AML - 31, Chile (2 goals in 55 caps), Free Bosman from Torino (Serie A) - Pace 13, Jumping 20, Strength 20, Passing 19, Crossing 16

He played under me when I was Chile manager a decade ago and, as I remember it, was one of the few players who wasn't poor. He's yet to have one bad season in his career.

----------

Bartosz Aleksandrowicz - DR/C, DM, MR/C - 23, Poland (17 caps), Bosman (£3m compensation) from Bayern Munich - Pace 11, Jumping 17, Strength 14, Marking 10, Tackling 20, Passing 19, Crossing 15

He spent 3 years on loan at NAC Breda, where last season he helped knock us out of the Europa League with an assist.

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Hamada Abdel Aziz - GK - 22 years old, Egypt (5 caps), Bosman (£275k compensation) from Arab Contractors (Egypt) - Aerial Ability 8, Handling 20, Reflexes 18

Fans are excited for this one. His aerial ability is low, but he's played superbly in Egypt and kept a clean sheet in all 5 of his international games.

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Volker Kirn - DC - 24, Germany (1 cap), Free Bosman from AC Milan (Serie A) - Pace 13, Jumping 18, Strength 18, Marking 13, Tackling 20

He actually came from Middlesbrough's youth system and Arsenal bought him, but sold him for £8.5m two years later. He went on loan to Greece, but only played 5 games for Milan before they lost him to us for nothing! He's valued at £2.9m.

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There will be no more signings and selling players is difficult. One player had a novel solution: he would only accept a transfer to West Brom if we paid a portion of his wages for the rest of his United contract, which I had to accept.

I sell 5 players for £14m, but £200k in wages is still being taken up by 6 players over 33 whose contracts are expiring.

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


Staff

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I asked Brian McClair if he'd be willing to return to the assistant manager role to replace the now-retired René Meulensteen, but he revealed he's considering retiring after this season. So Tony Humes, who has been at the club for 6 years as youth coach and general coach, is getting a promotion.

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


Friendly Results

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2 testimonials and a scenic and hopefully money-making tour of Japan prepared us for the coming season.

(12th, Belgian top tier) Royal Antwerp 1 - 5 Man Utd (6th, EPL)
Antwerp were forced to start a 16-year-old goalkeeper, so all 5 of our shots on target went in.

Miguel Lara Testimonial

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173 goals, an FA Cup and 2 Europa Leagues in a decade at Man Utd. The Colombian striker captains the side against Atlético Madrid, his only other European club, though he only played a handful of games. He plays alongside friend Sibiya.

(6th, EPL) Man Utd 2 - 1 Atlético Madrid (3rd, La Liga)
A near-perfect game for Lara, as he could've completed his hat-trick in the first 37 minutes, but he blazed his penalty over. Never mind!

Sasa Andjic Testimonial

The Montenegrin centre-back is an 11-year United veteran with 460 appearances. He plays against his former team and former manager. Way back in 2013, he was one of David Moyes' first signings at Bayern.

Respectful words are exchanged with the legendary Moyes: I say how great he is, he says I'm talented too.

(6th, EPL) Man Utd 1 - 0 Bayern Munich (2nd, Bundesliga)
A last-minute winner from Boussoufa ends the game perfectly.

Japan Tour

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Albirex Niigata 1 - 3 Man Utd
Júbilo Iwata 0 - 2 Man Utd
Nagoya Grampus 0 - 3 Man Utd
Shimizu S-Pulse 0 - 2 Man Utd

We don't have a feeder club in big-money areas like Japan yet, so hopefully this will lead to something.

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


Premier League Odds And Media Predictions

5/2 - Arsenal, Newcastle Utd
12/1 - Man City
16/1 - Man Utd, Liverpool
20/1 - Chelsea

Compared to last season, our odds are worse, as we were 3rd-favourites at 12/1 then.


Media-predicted final League table

(2025/26 league position in brackets)

1 - Newcastle United (2)
2 - Arsenal (1)
3 - Manchester City (3)
4 - Manchester United (6)
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5 - Liverpool (4)
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6 - Chelsea (5)
7 - Middlesbrough (7)
8 - West Ham United (8)
9 - Preston North End (9)
10 - Coventry City (12)
11 - Tottenham Hotspur (10)
12 - Leicester City (13)
13 - Norwich City (11)
14 - Sheffield United (14)
15 - Sheffield Wednesday (15)
16 - Nottingham Forest (6th, Championship)
17 - Leeds United (1st, Championship)
----------------------------------------------------------
18 - West Bromwich Albion (17)
19 - Queens Park Rangers (2nd, Championship)
20 - Blackburn Rovers (16)

Edited by git2thachoppa

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2026 - Champions at Home, Relegated Away

Results

Premier League

(Predicted 18th) West Brom 1 - 1 Man Utd (Predicted 4th)
(Pred. 4th) Man Utd 4 - 1 QPR (Pred. 19th)
(Pred. 4th) Man Utd 1 - 0 Nott'm Forest (Pred. 16th)

Europa League 1st Round, 1st Leg

(6th, RPL) FC Moscow 1 - 1 Man Utd (Pred. 4th, EPL)

Premier League

(Pred. 4th) Man Utd 4 - 1 Sheff Wed (Pred. 15th)
(Pred. 11th) Tottenham 3 - 1 Man Utd (Pred. 4th)

Europa League 1st Round, 2nd Leg

(4th, EPL) Man Utd 0 - 0 FC Moscow (4th, RPL)
1-1 on agg., Man Utd win 1-0 on away goals

Premier League

(6th) Man Utd 2 - 1 Newcastle (7th)
(7th) Leicester 1 - 0 Man Utd (3rd)
(8th) Norwich 2 - 1 Man Utd (4th)

Europa League Group D

(2nd, Czech First League) Slavia Prague 0 - 3 Man Utd (7th, EPL)

Premier League

(9th) Man Utd 0 - 0 Blackburn (17th)

League Cup - 3rd Round

(6th, Ch) Cardiff 3 - 0 Man Utd (8th, EPL)

Premier League

(15th) Leeds 1 - 0 Man Utd (9th)
(10th) Man Utd 1 - 1 Chelsea (2nd)
(13th) Man City 1 - 0 Man Utd (12th)
(14th) Man Utd 1 - 0 Coventry (4th)

Europa League Group D

(11th, EPL) Man Utd 6 - 0 SW Harelbeke (11th, Belgian 2nd tier)
(11th, Bundesliga) Bochum 3 - 2 Man Utd (13th, EPL)

Premier League
(19th) West Ham 1 - 0 Man Utd (13th)
(16th) Man Utd 0 - 0 Liverpool (1st)

Europa League Group D

(15th, EPL) Man Utd 0 - 1 Valencia (8th, La Liga)

Premier League

(13th) Preston 0 - 2 Man Utd (15th)

Home League Form: P8 W5 D3 L0 F13 A4 GD+9 CS4 PTS18
Away League Form: P8 W1 D1 L6 F5 A10 GD-5 CS1 PTS4

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

Our opening games set the tone.

The season opener away saw an own goal and a missed controversial penalty mean a somewhat disappointing 1 point, not 3. Though I said I would be happy with 19 draws away. Little did we know we would lose our next 6 away league games, including to Leeds and Man City, as well as a 3-0 loss at Championship Cardiff in the League Cup.

But our Old Trafford opener saw last season's star striker Sibiya score a hat-trick and new signing Viveros get 2 assists as a left-back and we'd remain unbeaten at home after winning 4-1 twice, as well as a 6-0 win in the Europa League, and a dominant win over mighty Newcastle United.

A leaky defence was our problem, conceding goals in the first minute, if not first 5 or 10 minutes, but there was no sign of why it was going wrong. Goals would just go in yet the defence would all get 7 and 8 ratings. The strikers were also misfiring, the team ending games with only 0-2 shots on target. Sibiya, who in a run of 3 matches had 18 shots (including free-kicks) and 3 on target, the 4 other strikers had only 3 goals in 23 combined matches.

The team's mental state is erratic. My team talks have no effect at all and, despite being Man Utd players, they hated me saying a winnable game was winnable and their team morale went from 'poor' to 'excellent' after losing to Man City.

All this was obvious in the Europa League First Round, when we should've thrown it away. Sub striker Adams was through on goal to score the winner in the 1st leg... and shot so far off-target it went out for a throw...

I warned the players before, during and after the 2nd leg against complacency, and they didn't listen to a single word. What a bunch of twats. Luckily, 9 of Moscow's 10 shots were off-target or we'd be out.

The group stage was less hassle as we qualified with a game to spare, meaning I could play a weakened side in the last match.

Getting used to a tweaked system of play I introduced a few games ago, we finally got our first away league win and clean sheet after 8 games, hitting the post several times and ending with 11 v 10 against a team we lost 4-0 to last season. The signs are good now that we can have a strong finish and get in the top 4 at last.

We also made a big step globally by gaining a feeder club in America. This should bring big merchandising money in.

Record-signing flop Kanu handed in a transfer request. After an injury-plagued debut season, his attitude this season in training has been poor and he's been unhappy. Though no one would want him until the summer, when he would move to the Serie A for just £7.5m, meaning a loss of £22m


Europa League Group D Table

1 - VfL Bochum - 10
2 - Valencia - 9
3 - Manchester United - 6
-------------------------------------
4 - Slavia Prague - 4
5 - SW Harelbeke - 0


Christmas Premier League Table

(All teams played 18 games unless otherwise stated.)

1 - Liverpool - 39
2 - Arsenal - 32*
3 - Middlesbrough - 31
4 - Chelsea - 31*
----------------------------------------------
5 - Leicester City - 30
----------------------------------------------
6 - Coventry City - 30*
7 - Sheffield Wednesday - 26
8 - Tottenham Hotspur - 26
9 - Newcastle United - 25***
10 - Norwich City - 24
11 - West Bromwich Albion - 24
12 - Manchester United - 22**
13 - Manchester City - 22
14 - Blackburn Rovers - 21
15 - Preston North End - 20
16 - Leeds United - 20
17 - West Ham United - 17*
----------------------------------------------
18 - Sheffield United - 11**
19 - Queens Park Rangers - 10*
20 - Nottingham Forest - 7
* 17 games played
** 16
*** 15

Despite the awful (away) form, we're still above City! Newcastle could be doing better despite the games in hand.

The crazy season so far and the fact it's only our away form that's the problem will be why I'm not in an insecure position yet. I always said this was long term, and we can't be afraid of taking a step back to leap forward...

Edited by git2thachoppa

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Awesome that you are still playing FM 2007, I went back as well and currently finishing off my 5th season with Cambridge City. I just love the speed of this game.

May I ask why you do not use screenshots but go through the pain of writing the whole league table down?

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10 hours ago, JonasAjax said:

Awesome that you are still playing FM 2007, I went back as well and currently finishing off my 5th season with Cambridge City. I just love the speed of this game.

May I ask why you do not use screenshots but go through the pain of writing the whole league table down?

CM/FM has such longevity for me because at first you just load a handful of leagues, but after a few years I have a PC powerful enough to load all the leagues and players and do it 'properly'. Speed is good except in saving a game - I now have to compress saves as the file's too big to save, so it takes 12 minutes to save a game. By the time the game dies around the year 2100, I'm guessing it'll take like half an hour to an hour!

I post this in the FM Stories forum too and screenshots aren't allowed, so I have to write stuff down anyway. They like their blocks of text over there! Plus the more pics I post the longer it'll take some people to load with the screen jumping up and down.

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As a long time FM 2007, and also Man Utd fan, I am silently following your progress and wish good luck. :)

I understand you about the bad away form, I feel in this FM no matter how good your team is, you will always drop away points.

 

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Been reading this over the last few days in work, and absolutely love it!  I love the idea that you went back to an old FM and then i love how detailed all of it is, including the international stuff, the squad reviews and just the game by game updates (i also enjoyed your rant a couple of pages back)

 

I will however admit, it has become a bit more difficult to want you to do well since you joined United (I'm a City fan) so I enjoyed the last update for all the wrong reasons haha! 

 

Keep going and I look forward to the next installment.... and it has made me very tempted to buy an old laptop and start an old FM save!

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Posted (edited)

December to April 2026/27 - Turning It Around (And Facing Vidic)

Results

Premier League

(12th) Man Utd 1 - 0 Middlesbrough (3rd)
(10th) Man Utd 2 - 1 West Brom (12th)
(19th) Sheff Utd 0 - 1 Man Utd (10th)

FA Cup - 3rd Round

(8th, EPL) Man Utd 2 - 0 Swansea (17th, Championship)

Premier League

(8th) Man Utd 1 - 0 Arsenal (3rd)
(20th) Nott'm Forest 2 - 1 Man Utd (7th)
(8th) Man Utd 2 - 1 Leicester (2nd)
(18th) QPR 1 - 2 Man Utd (8th)

FA Cup - 4th Round

(2nd, EPL) Man Utd 1 - 0 Watford (5th, Championship)

Premier League

(9th) Sheff Wed 6 - 4 Man Utd (2nd)
(4th) Man Utd 4 - 0 Tottenham (7th)
(5th) Newcastle Utd 1 - 1 Man Utd (3rd)

Europa League - First Knockout Round

(3rd, EPL) Man Utd 1 - 2 Excelsior (5th, Eredivisie)

FA Cup - 5th Round
(22nd, Championship) Scunthorpe 1 - 3 Man Utd (3rd, EPL)

Europa League - First Knockout Round, 2nd Leg

(5th, Eredivisie) Excelsior 2 - 1 Man Utd (4th, EPL)
4-2 on agg.

Premier League

(4th) Man Utd 2 - 0 Norwich (12th)
(15th) Blackburn 0 - 2 Man Utd (4th)

FA Cup - Quarter-Final

(3rd, PL) Man Utd 2 - 0 Preston (17th, EPL)

Premier League

(4th) Man Utd 1 - 1 Leeds (14th)
(4th) Man Utd 1 - 0 Man City (8th)
(11th) Chelsea 0 - 0 Man Utd (4th)
(6th) Coventry 1 - 1 Man Utd (3rd)
(4th) Man Utd 2 - 0 Sheff Utd (19th)

FA Cup - SF

(6th, PL) Middlesbrough 0 - 0 Man Utd (3rd, PL) AET
5-4 on penalties after 5 rounds (1-1, 2-1, 3-2, 4-3, 5-4)

Premier League

(5th) Arsenal 0 - 2 Man Utd (3rd)

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

 

Transfer Activity

No one wanted record-signing Kanu and we were stuck with the £29.5m flop until summer.

Despite starting as #1, young keeper Dupraz still wanted to leave and he was eventually dropped and then sold to Valencia for £5m... although with a buy back clause of £6m, and his minimum fee release clause is only £5m anyway. So if he becomes world class, he may return.

I also moved on 5 players around their mid-30s for free to free up the wage bill.

I brought back a familiar face...

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

Alexandre - AMC/ST - 32, Brazilian (16 goals in 45 caps), loan from Hamburger SV (Bundesliga) - Pace 12, Jumping 18, Strength 19, Finishing 18, Off The Ball 20, Dribbling 20, Passing 20, Long Shots 20

Alexandre returns to us on loan - he came on loan last January too. Despite his age, he actually looks better than he was last year. His first loan spell was a bit disappointing as he went on a run of 13 shots off-target, but he still scored 3 goals and got an assist in 10(5) league games. He's not a solution to our goalscoring issues, but he's more cover for AMC.

He has pedigree, scoring goals and winning things at AC Milan, Hamburger SV and Brazil, although he didn't make their World Cup squad. Even this season, he has 5 goals and 1 assist in 6(8) games for HSV, including a 10/10 MOTM performance and 2 goals in his last game.

Perhaps he can have fun getting on the end of friend and former HSV teammate Topic's crosses.

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

After a period of trouble scoring from open play, I was adamant we'd sign a striker. I tried to sign an English one from relegation-threatened Sheffield United, but they won't accept any offer. A loan for a Brazilian failed, then he went on loan to City...

man37659.png

Eventually we contacted Arsenal, who revealed Michael Laudrup had 2 he was willing to get rid of and we could pick one. I said I'll take both:

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

Kenny Reilly - ST - 25, Scottish (5 goals in 8 caps), £9.5m from Arsenal - Pace 16, Jumping 16, Strength 15, Finishing 17, Off The Ball 14

Only ever made 5 sub appearances for Arsenal and none at all this season. 2 seasons ago, he was on loan to AA Gent in the Belgian top tier and bagged 18 goals in 30 games. Apparently there's also room for him to improve further and, according to scouts, could become better than our current strikers.

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

Ángel Ramírez - ST - 26, Mexican (1 goal in 6 caps) / Spanish, £10.5m from Arsenal - Pace 15, Jumping 16, Strength 15, Finishing 16, Off The Ball 15

The only club to give Ramírez a run at the top was Valencia, where he got 18 goals in 44(2) games a few years ago. Fans are excited for this transfer even though it's Reilly I wanted more.

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


Recap

The tactical tweaks worked and we saw a complete turnaround away, and this Big 6 club moved back into the top 6 and all the way up to 2nd at one point. Under our new play, we got into the habit of taking leads then getting someone sent off. I was lauded as a "tactical genius" and winning awards now!

After failing to win away from home for half a season, we were a saved penalty (4 out of 4 missed) away from beating European Champions Newcastle, who were unbeaten at home in the league for 3 years!!

The standout away result was losing 6-4 to Sheffield Wednesday, with keeper Abdel Aziz letting in every shot, causing media backlash to descend on him. I stuck with him for a while, but he was eventually dropped and young English keeper Butler had a second chance.

An embrassing inability to beat Leeds at all this season was tempered by ending City's 10-match unbeaten run even though they had the ball in the back of the net in the final second... but the whistle had blown for a foul.

Vidic_Man-Utd.jpg

The FA Cup saw us face former United legends.

Scunthorpe United were managed by Nemanja Vidic, who had won every trophy there was to win (except the Charity Shield...) in his 6 years at United before moving to Italy. They had scored only 1 goal in 7 games, which was a penalty in the last minute of extra time of a replay... so of course they scored in 40 seconds! We won by full time, though.

We reached the semis this time, and it was my first time back at Wembley since historically taking the Iran Under-23s to the London 2012 Olympics.

_44769348_ince3.jpg

But just as back then, I didn't see a win. Paul Ince's side killed the game and our bogey team knocked us out on my specialty: penalties.

Despite my adventures in the transfer window, it turns out, it was Santos, already established in the team, and the loanee who went on a great run of goals and assists, while the permanent strikers tried to settle in. In fact, after our season-turning win at Preston before Christmas, it was only this game and the 0-0 at Chelsea that we failed to score in until April.

Alas, this FA Cup exit also saw Alexandre injured for the rest of the season, so his loan was terminated after an awesome 6 goals and 5 assists in 11(5) games.

In the Europa League, United were out at the first knockout round for the 3rd year in a row after losing both legs to a Dutch side. There's a feeling we haven't progressed at all there, as at least we won at home and only lost on away goals last season against a Dutch team...

With a few games to go, we were so close to reaching the Champions League places, maybe even directly into the group stage. Last season, the team choked, struggling for wins and goals, and slid all the way out of the top 4.

But, after a 2-0 win at defending Premier League champions Arsenal, a match we would've lost 4-0 in 2026, this season feels different...

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

And finally...

As for the overall season itself, it was expected that Newcastle would rise up the table and the surprise teams fall back down as usual. But no...

Iinstead something incredible was happening...

N0A4W8w.png

maxresdefault.jpg

 

On 28/05/2019 at 14:09, dap1987 said:

Been reading this over the last few days in work, and absolutely love it!  I love the idea that you went back to an old FM and then i love how detailed all of it is, including the international stuff, the squad reviews and just the game by game updates (i also enjoyed your rant a couple of pages back)

 

I will however admit, it has become a bit more difficult to want you to do well since you joined United (I'm a City fan) so I enjoyed the last update for all the wrong reasons haha! 

 

Keep going and I look forward to the next installment.... and it has made me very tempted to buy an old laptop and start an old FM save!

Wow thanks! I thought no one liked those squad reviews :lol: but I guess they helped me and squad management is my favourite part of the game.

International football seems popular in this thread though. I was surprised to find a lot of FM players just ignore it when for me it's a huge thing.

FM07 works on Windows 10 apparently, no need for an old laptop!

As for City... watch this space for next season's news. :/

Edited by git2thachoppa

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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, git2thachoppa said:

International football seems popular in this thread though. I was surprised to find a lot of FM players just ignore it when for me it's a huge thing.

I second that. One thing that keeps me motivated in a save is also observing the international environment, nothing better than big shocks at Euro / WC qualifying and smaller teams qualifying at the major tournament.

I reread the previous page again and noticed - Malta pulled a major upset. Who is their best player, do they have full team or are they a team of grey players? (sorry in case I missed that).

Also-do you have international matches simulated in full detail or default?

EDIT: Congraulations to your changes of fortunes, seems like your away form has vastly improved. What tactical tweaks did you use?

Cheers.

 

Edited by Ales
Added question

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Posted (edited)
On 05/06/2019 at 12:15, Ales said:

I second that. One thing that keeps me motivated in a save is also observing the international environment, nothing better than big shocks at Euro / WC qualifying and smaller teams qualifying at the major tournament.

I reread the previous page again and noticed - Malta pulled a major upset. Who is their best player, do they have full team or are they a team of grey players? (sorry in case I missed that).

Also-do you have international matches simulated in full detail or default?

EDIT: Congraulations to your changes of fortunes, seems like your away form has vastly improved. What tactical tweaks did you use?

Cheers.

 

Turks & Caicos Islands and Comoros reaching the World Cup (or Northern Ireland winning the Euros) tops Malta in the playoffs for me. Though, granted, Malta didn't get their first win in the game for 52 matches and 11 years... and Scotland becoming one of the greatest sides ever is relatively unspectacular!

Every country in Europe has a full team. It's only a few obscure nations that might not have any/many players and can't be managed. But I could still manage Sri Lanka or Vanuatu if I fancied.

I'm in 2028 in the game so I don't know if they had a special team in 2024/25. I think their goalkeeper was rubbish, but they scored in all but one game and their star man might've been Atlético Madrid's central midfielder who got a few goals and a 7.29 average rating. Their first team now has good players but no big goalscorer or dependable goalkeeper.

All international matches are full detail. It's only since the past few seasons that I put some leagues and cups on none. On Full Detail I still have: all the European competitions, the later stages of every other continent's Champions Leagues, the top leagues of Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Scotland, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey and USA, and the top 2 leagues of England.

I put a tactics section in the next entry, but when I joined the club I worked with what I had, so I played the ball more on the ground and told players to force any threats onto their weak foot. I just wanted to keep them out of the area and definitely not cross it in (especially against the likes of Newcastle or physical 'smaller' teams).

Obviously that stopped working because they were scoring in the middle now. Then I realised I had signed enough players and I had a physically stronger defence, wingers who could run and cross better, and attackers that could win more crosses. So I changed a few mentalities a bit, nudged the slider more towards 'mixed' passing (but still 'short'), and told the team to force their wingers out wide. Now I want them to cross the ball into our area or get corners, because 9 times out of 10 we can just head it out like peak Atlético.

I'm guessing the reason opposition players are getting sent off is because now I have better dribblers, so they're forcing fouls. We're really good at set pieces, especially indirect free kicks, so that might be adding goals too.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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Posted (edited)

2026/27 Finale, Season Review and Squad Review

Our impressive 2-0 win away to Arsenal combined with Liverpool and Boro only getting draws. So with 4 games to go, the top 5 looks like this:

1 - Newcastle United - 67
2 - Manchester United - 62
3 - Leicester City - 60
4 - Liverpool - 59
---------------------------------
5 - Middlesbrough - 55

Meanwhile, City fans are protesting with the team looking like they won't even qualify for the Europa League and a week later, Slobodan Drapic abandons ship for Sampdoria.

So all is going well, but there's always room for another choke job!

Newcastle are likely to win the title, and we should confirm Champions League football soon, but we need to finish 2nd to get into the group stages.

===================================
 

(2nd) Man Utd 2 - 1 West Ham (14th)

It took only 20 seconds for Ryan (MC) to score, and West Ham were so lucky not to lose 4-0.

They equalised thanks to Kirn (DC) ignoring instructions and choosing to close down the would-be assister rather than keep the eventual goalscorer marked. He still won MOTM.

My substutions worked perfectly. Topic (MR) came on and quickly assisted for january signing and sub Reilly (ST) for a now-once-again trademark late United winner.

3 Games To Go

1 - Newcastle United - 70
2 - Manchester United - 65
3 - Liverpool - 62
4 - Leicester City - 60
-------------------------------------
5 - Arsenal - 57

Newcastle United beat 10-man Man City 2-0 at home. Liverpool got a win, but Leicester couldn't get the job done as they lost 2-0 at home to Arsenal. Bottom club Forest stole a 0-0 draw at Boro with 10 men, making the Champions League look less likely for them at 56 points.

The club picks up awards as Viveros (WB/M/AML) wins Player of the Month with 2 goals and 1 assist in 4 games, Souza (DR/C) is runner-up with an average rating of 7.75, while I win Manager of the Month for a 3rd time this season after 10 points out of 12.

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


Next is a huge game against Liverpool. I'm not confident of reaching Newcastle (if only we scored that late penalty against them...), but a win here would not only secure CL qualification, but likely 2nd and group stage qualification, as well as completing our big statement this season of dominance against all our Big 6 rivals.

I change formation to counter their 3-5-2. Castillo (DC) led the rally cries and I've picked players who have been really up for the title chase, and dropped a couple who were nervy, including star striker Sibiya, to the bench.

(3rd) Liverpool 1 - 0 Man Utd (2nd)

Nope, they choked.

On 2 minutes, their player had a long-distance shot that somehow went over/through the keeper, game over. Last ditch defending for the rest of the match meant the ball somehow never crossed their line, then they inexplicably controlled the later stages when they should've been cowering in their own half.

2 Games To Go

1 - Newcastle United - 73
2 - Manchester United - 65 (+20 GD)
3 - Liverpool - 65 (+16 GD)
4 - Arsenal - 60 (+27 GD)
---------------------------------
5 - Leicester City - 60 (+8 GD)

An early penalty was enough for Newcastle to beat Coventry 1-0 away and clinch the title.

In London, Arsenal thrashed midtable Sheffield Wednesday 5-1 while Leicester choked with a 3-0 loss to West Ham to make things interesting.

===================================
 

(2nd) Man Utd 0 - 0 Preston (17th)

The choke job continues.

Despite dominating as normal in the first half, the relegation-threatened side had 7 shots and we had 1. The ball wouldn't go over the line, and for most of the match the team weren't interested in trying to make it do so.

With 1 Game To Go

1 - Newcastle United - 76
2 - Manchester United - 66 (+20 GD)
3 - Liverpool - 65 (+15 GD)
4 - Arsenal - 63 (+28 GD)
---------------------------------
5 - Leicester City - 63 (+9 GD)

Leicester help us by beating Liverpool 1-0 at home with an early penalty. Arsenal beat Spurs 2-1 away.

This means we have effectively secured Champions League qualification after 4 seasons away.

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


However, with 3rd and 4th having to go through qualifying, we can still complete our second chokejob in 2 seasons by falling to 3rd or 4th in the final game.

Especially away to ****ing bogey side Middlesbrough, who ruined our final game last season too, and just got their 5th 0-0 in a row.

(6th) Middlesbrough 1 - 0 Man Utd (2nd)

Choke job complete. Well done everyone.

A lifeless cowardly display saw the score 0-0 with 10 minutes to go. With Liverpool thrashing Sheffield Wednesday, we needed to get a winner. Middlesbrough were also sitting back, so I pushed the team forward. Inexplicably, a few minutes later, the defender didn't do his job and left the striker unmarked to embarrassingly waltz into our area and tap it to his partner to score into the open goal and end his 16 hours without a goal.

Arsenal then scored a stoppage time winner against Newcastle to finish above us too. While there's no difference between 3rd and 4th qualification-wise, it rubs further salt into the wound.

Another good season, or at least half season, ending in dismay thanks to Middlesbrough for the 2nd year in a row. Yet if we'd ended with a win but still finished 4th, we'd be celebrating.

Premier League Table

1 - Newcastle United - 76
2 - Liverpool - 68
3 - Arsenal - 66 (+29 GD)
4 - Manchester United - 66 (+19 GD)
----------------------------------------------------------
5 - Leicester City - 64
----------------------------------------------------------
6 - Middlesbrough - 61*
7 - Coventry - 60
8 - Manchester City - 53
9 - Norwich - 51 (+4 GD)
10 - Chelsea - 51 (+2 GD)*
11 - West Bromwich Albion - 51 (0 GD)
12 - Tottenham Hotspur - 50
13 - Sheffield Wednesday - 47
14 - West Ham United - 44*
15 - Leeds United - 40
16 - Preston North End - 38 (-14 GD)
17 - Blackburn Rovers - 38 (-19 GD)
----------------------------------------------------------
18 - Sheffield United - 35
19 - Notthingham Forest - 30 (-20 GD)
20 - Queens Park Rangers - 30 (-29 GD)

*Chelsea, Middlesbrough and West Ham United qualify for the Europa League as Europa League, FA Cup and League Cup winners respectively.
 

Season Review

The season was an improvement.

We rose to 4th, though got the same points and about the same goals (for and against) as last season, but this is in spite of our crazy losing spell away from home up to December, which won't be repeated next season.

After reaching the League Cup semis last season, we made the FA Cup semis this time, though we were knocked out at the first knockout stage of the Europa League for the 3rd season in a row.

We were unbeaten at Old Trafford in the league, only losing a nothing game in the Europa League and then to Excelsior as we were knocked out.

Away from home, we initially drew 1 and then lost 6 in a row, as well as in the League Cup 3-0 to Championship Cardiff. We finally got our first away win in December and only lost 4 more times away.

Middlesbrough-manager-next-Paul-Ince-782

Paul Ince's Middlesbrough have become our bogey side, beating us in both legs of the League Cup semi-final last season and on penalties in the FA Cup semis this season, as well as ruining the final game of our last 2 seasons. The only team we didn't get at least 4 points off of was Liverpool, who stole an away 0-0 draw and then a lucky 1-0 home win.

The Reserves improved 4 places to 4th, despite last season playing with a lot of still-talented veterans. They didn't have that luxury this season, only using young players.

The Under-18s won their 10th title in a row as well as back-to-back Under-18 Cups. They also matched the Group's record for 'biggest win' with another 6-0 win and 'most games without conceding' with 5.


Tactics

When our awful away form made us look like a relegation-battling team, I changed the tactics around.

When I first arrived, I had to work with what I had and gradually build a squad of physically stronger and better players. So originally, we wanted to keep the ball out of the area and force deadly players onto their weak foot.

But now, with stronger players, we could dictate their attack. Crosses were no longer a threat, so I told my defenders to now force opposing attackers into the flanks. Meanwhile, I brought my wingers into play more to send more crosses in for our more powerful strikers.

That was a turning point. When out of possession, they'd run down the flanks, cross it or win a corner, then we'd clear it away. Then, when we were in possession, we could make the most of our wingers and their top class crossing. And we were drawing so many fouls that we usually ended up playing against 10 men!


Confidence, Reputation & Finances

The board are very pleased with not only qualifying for Europe, but the Champions League. If we reach the group stage, the big money starts coming in.

The fans are delighted with the progress the club has been making.

I'm still the only 'World Class' manager in the game.


Staff

0e625c94a1dd8eb817ea8c99f3362904.jpg

Brian McClair retires after nearly 3 decades in a variety of roles, from youth to coaching to assistant manager, at Man Utd.

0_GettyImages-1075381250.jpg

Coach Mark Dempsey also retires after 2-3 decades.

After 280 games and 2 Europa League trophies in 8 seasons at United, left-back Farley retires from playing to become fitness and/or tactics coach.

DarrenFletcherJul12PA_large.jpg

Former players Darren Fletcher and Petar Malinov are made Under-18 and Reserve managers respectively.

Norwich went for 3 of my scouts, but only got 1. I replace him with a scout I had at Young Boys.


Awards

Casey, the left winger out on loan, is runner-up for Young Player of the Year.

Captain Hamann (DL/C) and new signings Viveros (WB/M/AML) and Kirn (DC) are in the Team of the Year (Kirn's a sub).

Kirn and Hamann are also runner-up and 3rd for Footballer of the Year.

Santos' free-kick winner against Man City is runner-up for Goal of the Season.

I'm runner-up for Manager of the Year.

Viveros is runner-up for signing of the season. That's 2 years in a row, after Sibiya got the same last season.

Surprisingly, Reilly (ST), one of the january signings to get us goals, and did so with a vital 2 goals and 2 assists in 3(10) games, was runner-up for 'Worst Signing of the Season'. That's also 2 years in a row I've made allegedly one of the 2 worst signings after Kanu last season, but I'm baffled by this choice... especially as Ramírez, a striker I signed at the same time from the same club, cost a bit more and only played 1(1) games, no goals.

Sibiya (ST) was Man Utd Fan's Player of the Year for the 2nd season in a row.


Squad

GK

1 - Gilles Dupraz - 25 years old, Tunisia (5 caps) / France, sold to Valencia for £5m - Played 13, Conceded 12, Clean Sheets 4, Man of the Match 2, Average Rating 7.23
17 - Hamada Abdel Aziz - 22, Egypt (5), Bosman (£275k compensation) from Arab Contractors (Egypt) - P 30, C 23, CS 16, AvR 7.03
13. Thomas Butler - 23, England (U21), valued at £2.6m -  P 9(1), C 9, CS 4, AvR 6.40

I really wanted to keep Dupraz, but even being first-choice wasn't enough and he still wanted to leave. He went to Valencia and played 7 games, getting 2 clean sheets and a 7.29 average rating. But we have a buy-back clause and his release clause is currently only £5m, so he may one day return.

It was Abdel Aziz who stepped up to become #1 keeper. Butler is a still a future England #1 though.

Chitaia is a slightly older #3 coming in for free in the summer, so our goalkeepers are set.

First Team - Abdel Aziz, Butler
Backup - Chitaia
Out - Dupraz

Defenders

6. Volker Kirn - DC - 25, Germany (4), Bosman from AC Milan (Serie A) - P 35(2), Goals 1, Assists 1, MOTM 2, AvR 7.27
12. Souza - SW, DR/C - 28, Portugal (2 goals in 34 caps) / Brazil, £8m - P 35(2), G 2, MotM 4, AvR 7.19
16. Mohammad Ali Rafiei - DR/C - 30, Iran (24), £3.2m - P 30(5), A 2, MotM 1, AvR 6.91
5. Martin Hamann - DL/C, WBL - 33, Austria (1 in 62), £3.75k - P 32(4), A 1, MotM 5, AvR 7.14
19. Arturo Castillo - DC - 29, Mexico (26), £5.75m - P 18(4), MotM 3, AvR 6.91
2. John Preston - DR/C, WBR - 32, Scotland (49), £1.2m - P 20(6), AvR 6.92
+ Aleksandrowicz, (McIntosh, Viveros)

World class veterans Hamann and Preston were consistent mainstays until February. Preston got injured as his body started to go, while Hamann regularly made mistakes to the point I dropped him for other defenders playing out of position. So they'll both be sold if possible, though Hamann might have 1 more year left.

Although capable of being rocks, Souza and Rafiei are equally capable of errors when marking. We have 2 centre-backs coming in the summer, so they can permanently move to their other right-back position.

We could do with an attacking right wing-back for home matches and when we're chasing a win.

As for left-back, wing-back and winger McIntosh is progressing into the new left-back position, and Viveros can play there 'out of position' as he's a wing-back too.

First Team - Rafiei (DR), Kirn, Souza (DR)
Rotation - Castillo, Hartharson, Padilla
Out - Hamann, Preston

MR

11. Srdjan Topic - ML/R, AML/R - 28, Bosnia & Herzegovina (33), £7.75m - P 25(11), A 6, AvR 6.81
22. Roddy Pressley - WB/M/AMR - 30, Scotland (1 in 27) / England, £5m - P 26(4), G 2, A 4, AvR 6.83
+ Aleksandrowicz

Topic's assist and key pass rates were disappointing.

Pressley was our 'away game option' as he was able to defend too, though he's quite a fouler. He's also not someone to expect a match-winning goal or assist from.

This is our weak area. I could do with both a better attacking and defending right winger. Let's see who's coming in free in the summer.

Rotation - Pressley
Out - Topic

ML

3. Juan Pablo Viveros - WB/M/AML - 32, Chile (2 goals in 55 caps), Bosman from Torino (Serie A) - P 37(2), G 5, A 7, MotM 4, AvR 7.28
7. Steve McIntosh - WB/M/AML - 29, R.o.Ireland (8 in 41), £5.25m - P 26(1), G 1, A 3, MotM 2, AvR 7.30
+ Anderson, Topic

It was a decade ago that Viveros played under me for Chile, but even at 31 years old he was sensational in the Premier League. Him and Kirn proved brilliant free transfers.

McIntosh also enjoyed rampaging up and down the left wing with him. Both could play anywhere from defence to attack and swapped roles without affecting performance. But McIntosh tore his hamstring in February and was greatly missed.

Andy Casey had another good loan at a Premier League club, helping Leicester almost do a Leicester. His average rating was higher this time at 7.00 as he got 2 goals and 5 assists in 33 games. He's still only 21, but next season he'll be a United player.

First Team - McIntosh, Viveros
Backup - Casey

DM/MC

4. Bartosz Aleksandrowicz - DR/C, DM, MR/C - 24, Poland (20 caps), Bosman from Bayern Munich (£3m compensation) - P 38(4), G 2, A 3, AvR 7.12
14. Bob Ryan - MC - 30, England (5), £5.25m - P 17(6), G 2, A 1, AvR 6.96
+ Tsotetsi

Aleksandrowicz was the defensive midfielder we needed, and Ryan even became a more successful tackler and no longer just an attacking choice.

First Team - Aleksandrowicz, Ryan
Rotation - Artime

AMC

15. Anderson - ML/AML/AMC - 32, Brazil (2 in 36), £550k - P 33(12), G 2, A 10, MotM 1, AvR 6.98
24. Tsotetsi - MC/AMC - 23, South Africa (4), £6.25m - P 33(12), G 4, A 8, MotM 1, AvR 7.04
+ Alexandre

Anderson's sensational form earned him an extension to next year, though he probably won't hit these heights in that final season. However, a new signing is coming in the summer.

Unexpectedly, Tsotetsi was no good at MC this season despite establishing himself there last season, but he got a good amount of assist and goals at AMC again. However, he can be quiet and it's time to step up and become even better.

Rotation - Anderson, Artime, Tsotetsi

ST

9. Neil Sibiya - 24, South Africa (9 in 12), £27m - P 34(7), G 20, A 2, MotM 3, AvR 6.90
10. Santos - 26, Brazil (5 in 18), £16.75m - P 32(11), G 16, A 1, MotM 4, AvR 7.02
18. Joe Adams - 31, R.o.Ireland (24 in 46), £6.75m - P 12(15), G 2, A 7, MotM 1, AvR 6.74
29. Eric Kanu - 30, Nigeria (34 in 50) / England, £7.5m - P 4(4), G 1, AvR 6.50
8. Ali Boussoufa - 29, Morocco (18 in 39), joining Hertha BSC (Bundesliga) on a Bosman - P 5(5), G 1, A 2, MotM 2, AvR 6.60
36. Kenny Reilly - 26, Scottish (5 goals in 9 caps), £9.5m from Arsenal - P 3(10), G 2, A 2, AvR 6.69
20. Ángel Ramírez - 27, Mexican (1 goal in 6 caps) / Spanish, £10.5m from Arsenal - P 1(1), AvR 6.50
23. Alexandre - AMC/ST - 33, Brazilian (16 goals in 45 caps), loan from Hamburger SV (Bundesliga) - P 11(5), G 6, A 5, MotM 1, AvR 7.00

If I had never signed Sibiya, United would've been bottom of the table by Christmas, I would've been sacked, and probably we wouldn't be in the Champions League now. He was scoring nearly all the goals as he confirmed his status as one of the world's top young strikers.

After a sensational World Cup for hosts Brazil finishing joint-top scorer, Santos had a slow start. But when the January transfer window came and I looked for a goalscorer, he started banging them in himself.

Adams' strike rate was not good enough, but he still provided assists with his crosses. At his age though, he probably won't have the strength to keep compensating with those assists. Time to go.

It was a make-or-break season for joint-record signing Kanu after an injury plagued debut year when he only scored in the final game, but he only managed 1 goal and not a lot else when given games this season. He then put in a transfer request anyway. When Chelsea balked at his price and wages and no one else signed him, he requested to be removed, but it was refused. He'll be a famous flop.

Needing a goalscorer for the second half of the season, I loaned Alexandre for the second January in a row, and he was sensational this time. It's a shame he'll be 33 next season but he could be a loan option once more...

I had a choice between Ramírez and Reilly from Arsenal in January, and decided I may as well take both. It was Reilly who took advantage and made vital contributions.

First Team - Santos, Sibiya
Rotation - Ramírez, Reilly
Out - Adams, Alexandre (returns from loan), Boussoufa, Kanu

Edited by git2thachoppa

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Posted (edited)

Congratulations for the improvement and CL football.  Next season with no particular goal droughts, you can challenge for top honours.

What strikes me- is quite average rating for your best striker despite his 20 goals scored. What is his conversion rate?  (goals vs total shots)

You were right when you built physical strong team, in FM 2007 this is vital in all areas of the pitch. Sometimes it is better to have a good aerial ability rather than technical prowess, especially in central midfield.

Edited by Ales

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On 14/06/2019 at 10:20, Ales said:

Congratulations for the improvement and CL football.  Next season with no particular goal droughts, you can challenge for top honours.

What strikes me- is quite average rating for your best striker despite his 20 goals scored. What is his conversion rate?  (goals vs total shots)

You were right when you built physical strong team, in FM 2007 this is vital in all areas of the pitch. Sometimes it is better to have a good aerial ability rather than technical prowess, especially in central midfield.

I don't know how many shots he had, but he's been a clinical striker and his shot percentage was decent too. He probably just had too many quiet games and wasn't as impactful as a sub as someone like Santos.

I discovered having strong players was important when I was figuring out why the likes of super Arsenal were so good, then I realised their players are tanks, with defenders that have 20 Jumping and Strength.

I can't get that ability in strikers though. There's no quality strikers around with those attributes, while Sibiya (and later Reilly) are superb strikers who only have 16 in Jumping, so it's a judgement call of getting strikers who are goalscorers even if they'll lose physical battles.

Meanwhile, especially over the next few seasons, Newcastle and Arsenal are mopping up all the super strong and quality players, so the gap between them and everyone else doesn't look like getting smaller.

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I love this Version of the game too. Only thing that annoys me slightly is once you get a few seasons in it becomes so difficult to score many goals. Looking at your latest table above it's the same for you too - Top scorers 42 from 26 games and everyone else hasn't scored many more goals than they've played games.

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2026/27 Club Football Review

Biggest Transfers
Andrea Marini (AMC/ST, Italian, 26) - Valencia to Inter - £26m
Giacomo Testa (ST, Italian, 25) - Lazio to AC Milan - £25m
Colin Huckle (DR/L/C, English, 26) - Man City to Arsenal - £23.5m
Adrián Salas (ST, Mexican, 24) - Fiorentina to AC Milan - £20.5m
Juan Toledo (MR, Chilean, 26) - HSV to Arsenal - £20.5m
Eduardo Maldonado (MC, Chilean, 24) - Napoli to Arsenal - £19.5m

Champions League

Champions-League.jpg

Marcelino García Toral's Newcastle United retained the Champions League with a 1-0 win over the retiring Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid. It's also their 3rd CL in 4 years, their 4th in 7.

Jelle Goes' FC Groningen were surprise semi-finalists along with Miroslav Dukic's Atlético Madrid, who lost to Real thanks to an early red card.


England

England.jpg

Premier League & FA Cup

Michael-Laudrup.jpg?w968h681

It was Michael Laudrup's final season as he announced his retirement from football. After Wenger's trophy-laden era (6 Premier Leagues in a row and 2 Champions Leagues), Arsenal had hired Javier Aguirre, only for him to be sacked a year later for finishing 5th with their lowest points total in 2 decades. Laudrup came in and, after an initial 5th-placed finish, led Arsenal to 5 more league titles and a rare FA Cup, but never got the big European trophy as his side suffered 5 Champions League final defeats in 7 seasons.

2 of the Big 6 had disastrous seasons, while the rest stuttered at various points, allowing bottom-half Leicester to challenge for the title... before they slipped and the Big 2 of Newcastle and Michael Laudrup's Arsenal found their form in the final stretch. Newcastle won by 8 points, but Leicester still achieved their first European campaign in 27 seasons.

Craig-Gordon-731830.jpg

Craig Gordon was promoted from youth coach to his first management job at Coventry after Jaime Ordiales retired. He led them to the Europa League quarter-final and back to 7th.

c123c-15591694165351-800.jpg

Chelsea's Valter Bonacina left, with the club down in 8th in January, to replace Pep Guardiola at Ionikis in Greece. He was replaced with Roma's Chinese globetrotting manager Zhou Chen. They finished 10th, but beat West Ham in the Europa League final on penalties 1-0 to qualify again.

Sheffield United used to be a yo-yo club, but lasted 11 years in the bottom half of the Premier League this time before finally getting relegated this season.

milton-keynes-dons-manager-paul-ince-wit

Paul Ince's Middlesbrough won their first ever FA Cup after beating John Harkes' Norwich on penalties.

Football League & Non-League

After over a century of failing to get elected into the football league, and 20 years of yo-yoing between the National League and National League North a dozen times, Kettering Town achieved back-to-back promotions and their entry into the Football League at last!

The unglamorous Bognor Regis Town made a bit of an impact. The National League side went past 3 fellow NL sides in the FA Cup and only lost 1-0 at Premier League Middlesbrough after a late winner in the 3rd round. They went on to win their first FA Trophy.


Spain

Spain.jpg

aidy_boothroyd_Watford-e1443716965613.jp

Aidy Boothroyd took over Barcelona at their lowest after they'd finished 14th. 4 seasons later, he's led Barcelona to their first La Liga title in 17 years. Makes you wonder what would've happened if a certain other English manager hadn't gone to South Korea and was thus available for the job...

Jose-Mourinho-564022.jpg

José Mourinho's career came to an end with disappointment after 2 La Liga titles, as Real Madrid finished outside the top 2 for the first time in 6 seasons. His replacement? Real's first ever American manager: John Harkes.


Italy

Italy.jpg

2 long-term managers finally moved on.

After 13 years, 3 Champions Leagues, 7 Serie A titles (including this season's), 1 Club World Cup and 1 Coppa Italia, José Manuel de la Torre left AC Milan to take charge of Bayern Munich. Their search for a replacement would be long and end up being one of the most scandalous managerial changes in football...

Marco Di Vaio's first job in management finally ended after 15 years, at the age of 50. After 3 years as assistant at Pisa, he took charge of Serie C2 club AlbinoLeffe in January 2014 and took them all the way to Serie A for a season. But 2.5 years later, he was sacked for being in the bottom half of Serie B.


France

France.jpg

valenciennes-mirin-isimat-celebrates-wit

There was nearly a shock on the cards with my former club. After I took Valenciennes to Europe and a brief flirtation with a title challenge, the club were in a good position, and this season they suddenly topped the table after 11 games, and staying there for most of the next few months. Eventually, they finished 2nd, 1 point behind PSG, easily qualifying for their first Champions League.


Netherlands

Netherlands.jpg

MTA5MzkwN18xYTc0M2UyNTEyMjlkZGU1MzQ4ODdi

As well as reaching the Champions League semis, Goes' FC Groningen won their first ever Eredivisie title. After 60 years of Ajax/PSV/Feyenoord dominance, they're the 3rd new winner in 6 years.

Paul Trollope left Ajax after 2 league titles to join Napoli in December. He was replaced with Ionokis manager Pep Guardiola.

 


Scotland

Scotland.jpg

0_JS172079599.jpg

Gary Naysmith's first job in football ended after over 11 years with Partick Thistle. He couldn't get the club back to the Scottish Championship, making the playoff spots 6 times but only reaching the final once.


South Korea

South_Korea.jpg

My former club Busan won the league again, though not the Champions League this time. The manager then left for Villareal and was replaced with a manager who had taken Seoul from the second tier to the FA Cup final and 2 league playoff finals in a row. A sound choice, but Busan only finished 3rd in their Champions League group and sank to BOTTOM of the league at the halfway point of the season...

2 minutes ago, javier_saviola said:

I love this Version of the game too. Only thing that annoys me slightly is once you get a few seasons in it becomes so difficult to score many goals. Looking at your latest table above it's the same for you too - Top scorers 42 from 26 games and everyone else hasn't scored many more goals than they've played games.

I don't feel like I'm having this problem. There has been a couple of inexplicable spells where suddenly they miss everything while conceding everything, but I had 3 pretty regular goalscorers in my team with Sibiya, Santos and Alexandre. Reilly could be the next one, and it certainly wasn't a problem elsewhere.

Though I've had a couple of times in FM 07 when a supposedly perfect striker didn't score anything (Kanu in this save), it takes time to recognise the key attributes. I remember one of the best goalscorers in the world had finishing of 9.

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On 19/06/2019 at 17:32, git2thachoppa said:


Italy

Italy.jpg

2 long-term managers finally moved on.

After 13 years, 3 Champions Leagues, 7 Serie A titles (including this season's), 1 Club World Cup and 1 Coppa Italia, José Manuel de la Torre left AC Milan to take charge of Bayern Munich. Their search for a replacement would be long and end up being one of the most scandalous managerial changes in football...

 

Do tell more Choppa...

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1 hour ago, Nobby_McDonald said:

Do tell more Choppa...

You'll find out next season, but it's hilarious. :ackter:

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2026/27 International Football Review


India 2027 Asian Cup

Qualifying

bhutan-national-team_45uyt1ohskjl1fhpzcr

Malaysia and Thailand both flopped in their preliminary groups, allowing Bhutan and Sri Lanka to advance.

Brunei and Maldives had an epic winner-takes-all battle to get to the next stage, with one of the most dramatic finishes in obscure football history. At 1-1, Brunei won a penalty. The Maldives keeper saved, but the taker was fouled as he went for the rebound. Another penalty! A different player took it and hit the crossbar! Then, in the 86th minute, Maldives made it 2-1. There was 4 minutes of stoppage time for Brunei to save themselves and, at 4 minutes 30 seconds, the keeper even went forward for a last-second throw-in... and from it, a Maldives player scored an own goal. Brunei were through, Maldives out!!

Brunei's adventure didn't end there. They then qualified for their first ever Asian Cup with a game to spare, getting 12 points from Bahrain and Indonesia.

1784644-asiangamesfootballpakistan-15346

Pakistan make their Asian Cup debut after squeezing in as the best 3rd-placed team.

2.jpg

And history was also made for Guam, who aren't even a country and are an island so small they withdraw from most tournaments. They got their first ever qualifying point to deny Vietnam qualifying in Saudi Arabia's place.

Finals

South Korea won their 5th Asian Cup in the last 7 tournaments after beating Japan 1-0.

Defending champions Iraq showed their last performance wasn't a fluke by finishing 3rd after beating Australia 4-0, Iran 2-0 and Saudi Arabia 3-1.

After a dream run to 4th at the World Cup, Uzbekistan could only match their previous Asian Cup's quarter-final finish. Their manager stepped down afterwards.

Kaebi+Hossein+South+Korea+v+Iran+2010+FI

Hosain Kaebi's Iran and Serdar Pir's Australia continued to embarrass themselves after not even reaching the final round of 2028 World Cup qualifying. Now, in this Asian Cup, Australia lost 1-0, 2-0 and 4-0 to UAE, China and Iraq in the quarters. They only got out their group thanks to a drawing of lots due to equal goal difference and goals scored, with head-to-head record luckily but inexplicably not being used... Meanwhile, Iran didn't even get out their group; needing to beat Iraq, they instead sleepwalked to a 2-0 loss without a shot on target. Yet both managers remain in charge.

Pakistan's debut highlight was nearly getting a 0-0 draw with South Korea, but the Koreans scored a stoppage time winner on the break.

Hosts India picked up 2 points from Lebanon and Singapore.

Brunei took 42 seconds to score on their Asian Cup debut, but lost 3-2 to Iraq after a heroic display. They failed to score in their other 2 losses to Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Lebanese 130-cap legend Jamal Taha stepped down after 12 years in charge, after a late Singapore equaliser stopped his country getting out the group.


2027 CONCACAF Gold Cup

Guatemala won their 2nd Gold Cup in 3 campaigns by beating Mexico on penalties after an extra time goal each.

USA didn't even make it out of the group stage despite home advantage, drawing 0-0 with Guatemala and losing 1-0 to Panama.


Paraguay 2027 Copa América

Hosts Paraguay reached the semis for the first time since 1983, and then faced Argentina in their first final since winning it in 1979. But Argentina won 1-0 in a hot-tempered game after the hosts had a man sent off, winning their first Copa América in 16 years.

After 5 quarter-finals in a row, Faryd Mondragón's Colombia finally reached a semi, but lost 1-0 AET to the host's penalty.

Mexico manager Ignacio Palou was sacked after a failure to win the CONCACAF Gold Cup was followed by a quarter-final exit in a competition they've reached the semis of in the last 2 occasions.

Uruguay sacked their manager after 1-0 losses to Costa Rica and Ecuador was followed by a 1-1 draw to the hosts.

world_cup_knockout_neymar_cry.jpg

Despite winning the 2023 Copa América and reaching the 2026 World Cup final as hosts, that wasn't enough to save Brazil's manager from the sack after they finished bottom of their group this year, beneath Venezuela, who they could only draw 1-1 with.

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Il 25/6/2019 in 00:16 , git2thachoppa ha scritto:

You'll find out next season, but it's hilarious. :ackter:

Tell uuuuus!!!!!

:lol:

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Posted (edited)

2027/28 Pre-Season - Transfers, Friendlies and Odds

Transfer Window

The initial transfer budget was only £3.75m.

That was soon increased after record signing flop Eric Kanu finally left for only £7.5m to Fiorentina, a loss of £22m (as well as £7.6m in wages). He only scored 2 goals in 20 games.

33-year-old captain Hamann left for £100k to Roma.

As usual, incoming transfers were mostly bosmans. Youth was a running theme:

Vasil Chitaia - GK - 27 years old, Georgia (27 caps), Bosman from Braga (Portuguese Primeira Liga) - Aerial Ability 11, Handling 17, Reflexes 18
Georgia's #1 arrived to be our #3, though the later signing of another keeper kinda made his signing pointless...

Peter Wallace - GK - 22 years old, England (U21), £1.3m from Sheffield Wednesday (Premier League) - Aerial Ability 18, Handling 12, Reflexes 15
His handling is low, but the scouts were adamant he would be Butler's rival for the England #1 jersey when they both come of age, and last season he did get a 7.17 average rating in his 6 games. As I want Man Utd to remain a club with a strong British group of players, he became a target.

Tómas Hartharson - DC - 25, Iceland (1 goal in 28 caps), Bosman from Valenciennes (Ligue 1) - Pace 17, Jumping 18, Strength 18, Marking 9, Tackling 19
I signed him for Valenciennes 6 years ago and gave him his Ligue 1 debut, and at 20 years old he got a 7.25 average rating that season. He made 179 total appearances, helping them lift their first top trophy with a French League Cup win. Except for 1 season, his average rating was always around 7.25. He also became the key player of his national side.

Jorge Padilla - DC - 24, Ecuador (U21), Bosman from Club Atlético Banfield (Superliga Argentina) - Pace 13, Jumping 19, Strength 20, Marking 15, Tackling 19
This is his big European move, will he adapt?

Christian Giménez - DM/MC - 21, Paraguay (U21), £1.2m from Querétaro (Mexican 2nd tier) - Jumping 15, Strength 19, Tackling 19, Passing 19
In 5 years, we're his 5th permanent club and it's also his first move out of the Americas. He was signed for his potential, but he could do a job in the first team already. He's also apparently one of the best free kick takers around.

Luis Roberto Artime - MC/AMC - 23, Spain (U21), Bosman from PSV (Eredivisie) - Pace 14, Jumping 16, Strength 19, Passing 18, Tackling 19
Has only played a handful of top-level games.

Abdellatif Ouaddou - MR/AMR - 22, Morocco (U21), £375k from KAC Marrakesh (Morocco) - Pace 18, Jumping 15, Strength 14, Crossing 15, Dribbling 19, Passing 16
On the cheap, our scouts hopefully helped fill the right midfield spot.

And a loan. He's back...

Alexandre - AMC/ST - 33, Brazilian (16 goals in 45 caps), loan from Hamburger SV (Bundesliga) - Pace 12, Jumping 18, Strength 19, Finishing 18, Off The Ball 20, Dribbling 20, Passing 20, Long Shots 20
He's aging well (his attibutes haven't changed at all) and he likes the club now, so it makes sense to bring back a guy who scored 6 and made 5 in 11(5) games for us last season.

The window closed with me annoyed by one move. Unable to sell a player, I offered him out on loan. Eventually, on deadline day, we finally arranged a loan... but he refused. We arranged another loan and, with 15 minutes left, confirmed it. Then 15 minutes later, midnight, we're told the transfer will go through in January due to the paperwork not coming through on time... so we're not saving £36k in wages after all and he's forced to rot in the reserves. Wonderful.

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


Friendlies

(11th, Belgian top tier) Royal Antwerp - Man Utd (4th, EPL)

(1st, Serie A) AC Milan 1 - 0 Man Utd (4th, EPL)

(5th, IPL) Maccabi Tel-Aviv 1 - 2 Man Utd (4th, EPL)

MLS All-Stars West 2 - 0 Man Utd

MLS All-Stars East 1 - 1 Man Utd
3 - 4 on penalties after 7 rounds (1-0, 2-0, 3-1, 3-2, 3-3, 3-3, 3-4)

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


Feeder Clubs

Burnley become a feeder club, so we have a good club at a good level to send players out on loan. They've been in the Championship for 27 years and bottom-half for the last 25.

More marketing opportunities and money will come rolling in as, in addition to our American feeder club, we now have a Japanese one: Shimizu S-Pulse.

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


Expectations and Odds

It's exactly the same expectations as last season: the board want European qualification, the fans want a title challenge, and the media are predicting 4th.
 

Media-Predicted Premier League Table

(2026/27 league position in brackets)

1 - Newcastle United (1)
2 - Arsenal (3)
3 - Liverpool (2)
4 - Manchester United (4)
----------------------------------------------------------
5 - Manchester City (8)
----------------------------------------------------------
6 - Middlesbrough (6)
7 - Leicester City (5)
8 - Chelsea (10)
9 - Coventry City (7)
10 - Norwich City (9)
11 - West Ham United (14)
12 - West Bromwich Albion (11)
13 - Sheffield Wednesday (13)
14 - Tottenham Hotspur (12)
15 - Preston North End (16)
16 - Portsmouth (2nd, Championship)
17 - Leeds United (15)
----------------------------------------------------------
18 - Cardiff City (5th, Championship)
19 - Blackburn Rovers (17)
20 - Bolton Wanderers (1st, Championship)
 

Premier League Title Odds

2/1 - Newcastle United
6/1 - Arsenal
12/1 - Liverpool, Manchester United
33/1 - Manchester City, Middlesbrough

So Chelsea, under new manager Zhou Chen, are expected to remain outside the Big 6 (making it a Big 5), while Man City are expected to recover a bit.

Compared to last season, Newcastle aren't joint favourites this time and we have slightly better odds, but still nothing separates us from Liverpool.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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This is still one of the best threads on this whole site!  Loving the detail and the whole concept of it :) ... well except that you are United manager, but I can look past that and see the story behind it.  

 

Without me reading everything back again (although very tempting), how have City done?  have we actually won anything at all?  or would the banner at Old Trafford still be ticking :( :( 

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8 hours ago, dap1987 said:

This is still one of the best threads on this whole site!  Loving the detail and the whole concept of it :) ... well except that you are United manager, but I can look past that and see the story behind it.  

 

Without me reading everything back again (although very tempting), how have City done?  have we actually won anything at all?  or would the banner at Old Trafford still be ticking :( :( 

I think my view count has dropped since I took over United. :lol:

City actually overtook United until I arrived and the banner was changed to the last time City won a league title! This is pre-Abu Dhabi City, so no shortcut! (In fact, City have regularly been the seller of one of the top 5 transfers every few seasons.)

In 07/08, you had a great core of English players with 20-year-old Micah Richards, Joey Barton and 18-year-old Sturridge. After spending just £350,000, Stuart Pearce led them to 3rd after their title challenge fell away at the end. (Steve McClaren didn't really make use of them for England though.)

You were a midtable side after that, though pipped United to a Champions League place on the final day of 2010/11.

Thomas Doll established you as a top 4 side. 2018/19 started your best 3 years, lifting your first FA Cup in 50 years, achieving your best leagueperformance in 40 years with 2nd place, and you won the FA Cup again in 2020/21.

You haven't made a big impact in Europe though; you've reached 2 Champions League quarter finals and only twice got past the second knockout round of the Europa League.

When I arrived, you were part of the 'Big 6' (with Newcastle, Arsenal, United, Liverpool and Chelsea) and hadn't lost a Manchester derby in 4 years. I won my first. :D But after three 3rd-place finishes in a row, you finished 8th last season. Do the wheels fall off or is it just a blip?

Well, regardless, there's a good omen next season...

Managers

Stuart Pearce - March 2005 to March 2009
Steve Clarke - March 2009 to May 2010
Ronald Koeman - May 2010 to October 2012

Martin Jol - October 2010 to June 2013
Thomas Doll - June 2013 to March 2023
Mauricio González - March 2023 to July 2023
Erwin Koeman - July 2023 to July 2025
Slobodan Drapic - July 2025 to May 2027
Glen De Boeck - May 2027 to ?

Trophies

FA Cup - 2019, 2021, 2025
League Cup - 2023
Community Shield - 2025

League positions since 2006: 6, 3, 7, 10, 4, 12, 9, 6, 7, 4, 4, 4, 6, 2, 3, 6, 7, 3, 3, 3, 8

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Thanks for that @git2thachoppa, that's a great update for me :) 

 

Would this have been what happened in real life had Sheikh Mansour not taken over?   Guess we'll never know but at least we've won something!  This was probably one of the last FM's where I enjoyed being City, it was a challenge. 

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Posted (edited)

Man Utd - 2027/28 - Aug to Mar

Errors Every Game, Champions League Nights and Big Approaches

Domestic

Results

Premier League

(Predicted 9th) Coventry 0 - 0 Man Utd (Predicted 4th)
(Pred. 4th) Man Utd 0 - 0 Arsenal (Pred. 2nd)
(Pred. 11th) West Ham 2 - 0 Man Utd (Pred. 4th)
(Pred. 4th) Man Utd 2 - 0 Norwich (Pred. 10th)
(Pred. 20th) Bolton 1 - 1 Man Utd (Pred. 4th)
(Pred. 4th) Man Utd 1 - 0 Portsmouth (Pred. 16th)
(Pred. 6th) Middlesbrough 1 - 1 Man Utd (Pred. 4th)
(8th) Man Utd 2 - 0 Cardiff (14th)
(7th) West Brom 2 - 2 Man Utd (6th)
(6th) Man Utd 0 - 1 Man City (17th)
(10th) Leicester 1 - 2 Man Utd (8th)
(5th) Man Utd 0 - 0 Tottenham (9th)
(8th) Man Utd 3 - 0 Sheff Wed (7th)
(7th) Liverpool 2 - 0 Man Utd (5th)
(7th) Man Utd 1 - 1 Chelsea (8th)
(18th) Preston 0 - 1 Man Utd (8th)
(15th) Leeds 2 - 0 Man Utd (7th)
(7th) Man Utd 4 - 2 Blackburn (17th)
(3rd) Newcastle Utd 2 - 1 Man Utd (4th)
(7th) Man Utd 0 - 1 Coventry (1st)
(9th) Arsenal 2 - 2 Man Utd (7th)
(7th) Man Utd 6 - 0 West Ham (3rd)
(19th) Norwich 2 - 1 Man Utd (7th)
(8th) Man Utd 2 - 0 Bolton (20th)
(5th) Portsmouth 1 - 1 Man Utd (8th)
(7th) Man Utd 0 - 2 Middlesbrough (15th)
(19th) Cardiff 1 - 1 Man Utd (9th)
(9th) Man City 2 - 1 Man Utd (11th)

FA Cup Results

3rd Round

(7th, PL) Man Utd 4 - 0 Aldershot Town (9th, L1)

4th Round

(2nd, Ch.) Southampton 1 - 4 Man Utd (8th, PL)

5th Round

(6th, L1) Crewe Alexandra 0 - 0 Man Utd (9th, PL)

5th Round Replay

(11th, PL) Man Utd 2 - 0 Crewe (8th, L1)

League Cup Results

3rd Round

(6th, PL) Man Utd 1 - 1 West Ham (5th, PL) AET (1-1 FT)
2-3 on penalties after 5 rounds (0-0, 1-0, 1-1, 2-2, 2-3)


Summary

shutterstock_68917519.jpg

My season started with a big approach from AC Milan! The Italian champions were willing to more than double my wages and give me a monstrous £133m transfer budget. Had Man Utd not been my club, I might've taken it, but I have to see how my United experience goes. A week later, I read the breaking news of Milan's new manager and raised my eyebrows. "But I only talked to him the other day... Football's gone mad..."

Hilariously, Liaoning from China also had an optimistic try for me.

We failed to score in 5 of our first 6 games, were low on confidence, making errors, conceding early goals, missing sitters and the AMC wasn't delivering the final ball. In fact, errors were a problem throughout the season. It helped the club's reputation for entertainment (there were no 0-0 draws in 2028), but we dropped 20-25 points due to mistakes.

Worse, City beat us at Old Trafford to end our 24-game home unbeaten run with an 86th-minute penalty from only their 2nd attack in the whole game, while Leeds got a 2-0 win at home despite playing for the nilliest-nil 0-0 ever.

Our away form only slightly improved. We were getting some draws, but it was still November until we won one (on the 9th attempt). Preston had 24 shots but somehow lost 1-0.

Our home form slightly worsened. Now teams were getting the 0-0 draws they were looking for. So, with our best chance at goals being the many set-pieces and crosses we were having, I changed my player selection and approach at home. It only took 2 minutes for my newly-selected player to header in a corner in an action-packed 4-2 win where defending was ignored and crosses now went in. We still dropped points, but that result and our annual 6-0 demolition showed that it would work over time.

Coventry and West Ham were surprisingly topping the table by Christmas, while we fought for Champions League places. Newcastle were always going to run away with the league (5 games in hand, unbeaten, highest goal difference, they hadn't even conceded at home yet), but for us it would get worse. Injuries, plus the African Cup of Nations, saw a run of 2 wins in 10 league games as every game had errors and goals were conceded out of nowhere.

MarioBalotelli_2691365.jpg

The final match of this period was typical: serial mental-case Hartharson scythed down a City player in just 2 minutes to concede a penalty, and in the 91st minute they scored a Goal of the Month rocket to steal another late win.

As we dropped down the table toward potentially our worst league performance in decades, the cups would be the only thing that could save the season. While the youngsters failed to progress in the League Cup, the FA Cup draw was kind. As for Europe, I was happy to be in the group stage.

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


Champions League

Champions-League.jpg

Results

Champions League - 3rd Qualifying Round

(Predicted 4th, EPL) Man Utd 3 - 1 Viking (13th, Eliteserien)
(12th, Eliteserien) Viking 1 - 0 Man Utd (Pred. 4th, EPL)
Man Utd win 2-3 on agg.

Champions League  - Group E

(Pred. 2nd, La Liga) Real Madrid 1 - 0 Man Utd (Pred. 4th, EPL)
(Pred. 4th, EPL) Man Utd 4 - 1 Benfica (Pred. 1st, PPL)
(3rd, Turkish Super Lig) Galatasaray 1 - 1 Man Utd (6th, EPL)
(6th, EPL) Man Utd 3 - 3 Galatasaray (3rd, Turkish Super Lig)
(8th, EPL) Man Utd 2 - 1 Real Madrid (3rd, Spanish La Liga)
(1st, PPL) Benfica 0 - 0 Man Utd (7th, EPL)

Group E Table

1 - Real Madrid - 15
2 - Manchester United - 9
--------------------------------
3 - Benfica - 5
--------------------------------
4 - Galatasaray - 3

Champions League - 1st Knockout Round, 1st Leg

(9th, EPL) Man Utd 3 - 1 Barcelona (1st, La Liga)

Summary

We were made 8/1 5th-favourites (better than the Premier League odds!) but, good God, If just one good chance went in, then a relegation-fighting Norwegian club would've denied us Champions League football.

Shock Norwegian champions Viking were fighting relegation in their defending season, but what should've been a 3-0 home win was a fragile 3-1 due to, yes, an error. Then, in the 2nd leg, THE SAME PLAYER inexplicably and nonchalantly passed AGAIN to his defender, only for the SAME ****ING PLAYER AS LAST TIME to intercept and score. Only 1 of our 11 shots were on target. We scraped through.

pa-2293926.jpg

In the group stage, we were seeded 2nd but got a tough group: last year's runner-up and Spanish champions Real Madrid, Portuguese champions Benfica and, back in the Champions League after a decade away (and a relegation), friendly Galatasaray. (I was gutted that I wouldn't get to meet ex-Real boss José Mourinho, who retired, nor face my former club Valenciennes for their Champions League debut.)

Errors continued after a respectable 1-0 loss in Madrid. Benfica scored in 4 minutes after... yes... a player inexplicably passed the ball back to their attacker. But star striker Sibiya's hat trick helped get another big European home win.

4 players cost us a win in Galatasaray: 2 mistakes gave them an open goal, while strikers Sibiya and Santos missed 5 big chances (plus a goal was 'offside'). They were so bad I subbed both strikers off and played midfielders up front, and one got the late equaliser!

The home rematch was set to be one of the great Old Trafford European nights. We not only conceded our customary early soft goal in just 1 minute, but were 2-0 down after 19. A half-time team talk later, we got back to 2-2 at 63' and 65'. Young winger Casey scored an 89th-minute header to spark wild celebrations!...Then defender Souza fouled in the penalty area and they scored the penalty...

But we got our moment at home to already-qualified Real. We completely dominated the first half and finally scored, but a marking bug (4th wall broken!) meant an easy Real equaliser. But AMC Tsotetsi broke through in stoppage time for the winner that saw us qualify for the knockouts with a game to spare!

A tough group wasn't so bad after all!

Aidy-Boothroyd-822041.jpg

We were drawn against Aidy Boothroyd's Barcelona. It was the same story - a big home win, but our usual mistake left me worried.

It should've been another great night, with Reilly ending his goal drought after just 5 minutes and getting a hat-trick, but 10-man Barcelona left quite happy knowing they can get a 2-0 win at Camp Nou. They could probably get a 4-0 win...

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


Transfers - Always Buy Better!

The young right-winger I'd given a run in the team had broken his leg in training, so a right-winger or wing-back was now top priority:

- Ivan Hristov - D/WB/MR, D/MC - 26, Bulgarian (18 caps), £8.25m from Coventry (EPL) - Pace 17, Jumping 18, Strength 17, Crossing 19, Passing 16, Dribbling 19

Cup-tied and with our league form bad, he had no direct impact on the season, but his form was sensational - 5 goals and 4 assists in his first 7 games!!

I also got my hands on a wonderkid:

33g9Czn.jpg

- Ruggero De Bellis - MC, M/AML, ST - 19, Italian (U21), £10.75m from Roma (Serie A) - Pace 15, Jumping 14, Strength 15, Finishing 18, Composure 17, Off The Ball 13, Crossing 18, Passing 17, Dribbling 16

We were able to beat Arsenal and Bayern tohim. The Roma youth product did well during 2 seasons on loan in Serie B, and this season scored 4 goals and made 1 assist in 4(1) Serie A games as a striker. I wasn't sure if he was ready for the physicality of the Premier League yet, but he won Player of the Month in his first month on loan at midtable Preston.

The board then stole my remaining £9m budget and said I had to sell players to sign anyone else. (A news item said, because of our improving finances, my budget had been increased by £55k... but in reality it changed my budget from £9m to £55k...)

So I had to sell Ryan, who famously scored a curling winner against Liverpool in my first season. To top it off, he'd just provided an assist and was being sold to our bogey side Middlesbrough. But it was to fund a top, top young English defender:

- Richard Friar - DC - 22, English (U21), £6m from Man City (EPL) - Pace 19, Jumping 17, Strength 17, Tackling 20, Marking 16

Despite only a handful of games and loans, scouts said he'd be one of our best defenders today and get even better, and young English players with huge potential are a priority. He's the first player to move between the Manchester clubs since Tomasz Kuszczak joined City on a Bosman in 2017, and the first to move from City to United since Wyn Davies 56 years ago. He got injured after 1 game and re-injured on his return, but still did well in his few games.

Next to go was Iranian defender Rafiei, who was solid backup, but also 31 and had only made 7 starts. Again, it was a pain, but it funded an improvement. One who would make more of an impact:

- Sebastian Muller - DM/MC - 24, German (4 caps), £3.5m from AC Milan (Serie A) - Jumping 17, Strength 18, Tackling 18, Passing 17

Muller is apparently our best central midfielder now and will get even better. He was on loan to Middlesbrough last season, playing 39 games and getting precisely 7.00 average rating.

I bought 2 Arsenal strikers last January with the idea that one would take the chance and the other would fail and get sold. Ramírez was that man as he requested a transfer after failing to make the same impact his rival did, and he went to Valencia for the same price we paid in a quick, smooth, painless transfer.

Less smoothly, I brought back Topic from loan to sell him, only for him to refuse 2 clubs and not get any other offers. So he's stuck here now.

And Adams, the player who was supposed to go on loan on deadline day for the rest of his contract to free up wages, finally got to complete the loan move...

 

Edited by git2thachoppa

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Man Utd - 2027/28 - Feb to May

History Made In The Champions League And Premier League... For The Right and Wrong Reasons...

Champions League

Before a recap can be done, there was a key game to watch unfold.

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

Key Game

Champions League - 1st Knockout Round, 2nd Leg

The Story So Far...

After being a goal away from being knocked out by Norwegians, we were drawn in a tough group containing Real Madrid, Benfica and Galatasaray. It was surprisingly routine, only losing away to Real (and beating them at home), but next we were drawn against Aidy Boothroyd's Barcelona.

Reilly scored a hat-trick in the 1st leg in Old Trafford, but we make a crazy mistake every game this season, so the score ended 3-1 not 3-0.

Barcelona only need a 2-0 win at Camp Nou against a team full of errors, with unspectacular away form, currently sitting midtable in the league...

Team News

----------------- Santos --------- Reilly -----------------
--------------------------- Artime ---------------------------
Casey ------------------------------------ Aleksandrowicz
--------------------------- Muller ---------------------------
McIntosh -- Castillo (c) -- Hartharson -- Souza
------------------------ Abdel Aziz ------------------------

Barcelona have a full-strength side, but we don't.

Abdel Aziz has only recently been made goalkeeper, after young Butler showed he's still not reached his potential. Abdel Aziz might not be any better though.

Our first-choice defensive pairing is injured, meaning we're relying on a captain who's transfer listed and his partner who conceded an immediate penalty to help us choke in the Manchester derby a few days earlier.

With Viveros out for the season, the defence and left side picks itself now. There are no other options.

New signing Hristov already got 5 goals and 4 assists in his first 7 games! But he's inelligible, so we have no creativity on the right.

Reilly scored a hat-trick in the 1st leg, while Santos scored against City 3 days ago.

There are 2 reserves/youngsters on the bench as there are no other senior defenders to pick from.

But all this makeshift side needs to do is score and/or not concede 3...

The Match

4: Already an error, as an intercepted pass gives Barcelona a run at goal, but the keeper saves us and the defence scurry the ball away.

12: Error-prone Hartharson makes a last-ditch tackle to stop a 1-on-1 in the area, then stops a certain goal by winning the header from a cross at the near post.

18: Transfer-listed Castillo's poor marking gives their striker a free run at goal, but he shoots over.

25: A perfect ball is played to Santos free in the area, but he hits it hard and skies it when he just needed to place it.

26: Muller attemps a quick free-kick with no wall, but it still deflects off a player for a corner.

We dominate most of the rest of the half, yet it's still Barcelona with the more threatening chances.

45+2: Hartharson's pass to Castillo is intercepted (error!) and it's another free run at goal for Barca, but saved for a corner. Souza intercepts the corner but the ball almost goes straight to their attack. Luckily, our keeper smothers it in time.

Half Time: We haven't conceded and had a couple of chances ourselves. But we'll be torn apart if we don't have 11 men on the pitch, so I subsitute both players who have picked up a yellow. That means 18-year-old reserve Smith is playing out of position at left-back, but all I ask of him is to keep his man on the flank and putting in crosses. His aerial ability (20 Jumping) will help too.

50: Only 5 minutes into the 2nd half, Barcelona finally score. What are the odds they score again in a few minutes? The match seems over already...

57: Our keeper's suicidal pass (error!) straight to their striker leads to the ball bouncing around in panic but inevitably going in for 2-0. Now we need to score, but maybe we will as the game opens up and now we have to play our normal game.

58: Nearly 2 minutes later, their keeper is caught way outside his area and Santos is first to the ball to hit it in. Barcelona need to score again to take it to extra time, and they might do that.

60: Hartharson seems beaten by his man, but has the pace to immediately catch up and safely dispossess the striker running through on goal and pass it to the keeper. Uncharacteristically mature.

64: Nice passing gives Santos a clear cut chance to score... but for a last-ditch tackle.

65: Reilly runs into the area but the angle is tough and his shot is saved for a corner.

73: Barcelona somehow hit it wide while inches in front of goal, when all they needed to do was hit it into the near post.

86: Only 4+ minutes away from winning, our keeper is badly beaten from a shot outside the area. Extra time looms.

90: Barcelona lay siege to our goal looking for a late winner, but we clear it all away.

Full Time: It's a reverse of the first leg's result, so now it's extra time. Away goals still count, so if we can score just once, Barca will need to score twice.

Needing fresh energy, I bring on my highest-placed penalty taker (Pressley) for one of the lower-placed ones.

91: Barcelona hit the bar from long range, but we attack from the rebound and Reilly's shot is cleared before it can trickle over the goalline.

93: Barcelona's free-kick is palmed away, and the rebound is excellently saved.

95: Barcelona sky another shot from inside the area.

100: The young makeshift left-back Smith crosses into the box for the new substitute Pressley, who is fouled in the area. Penalty! Huge pressure on Reilly, as a goal now should win the tie... and he confidently hits the back of the net without a problem!

102: Straight from kick-off, Hartharson gains possession... only to effectively lay it off for a Barcelona player who hits it first time... but it just goes over...

104: Reilly makes a run into the box to finish the game for sure, but skies it.

Half Time of Extra Time

110: A header, just 5 yards out, from Barcelona's perfectly-placed corner goes over.

117: Pressley goes on a Maradona run only to be fouled before he gets in the box.

120: Reilly gets the ball free in the area, but his tired legs stutter and he loses it.

Full Time of Extra Time: It was too much to ask of even Barcelona to get 2 more goals against a spritely team now playing safe with a 5-man defence and a bit of time-wasting. Man Utd win on away goals!

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

Final Score

(1st, La Liga) Barcelona 3 - 2 Man Utd (11th, EPL) AET
Man Utd win 5-4 on agg.
2-0: (51), (58)
2-1: Santos (59)
3-1: (87)
3-2: Reilly (pen 102)

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

Results

1st Knockout Round

(1st, La Liga) Barcelona 3 - 2 Man Utd (11th, EPL) AET
Man Utd win 5 - 4 on agg.

Quarter-Final

(1st, Bundesliga) Bayern Munich 2 - 1 Man Utd (9th, EPL)
(8th, EPL) Man Utd 3 - 0 Bayern Munich (1st, Bundesliga)
Man Utd win 4 - 2 on agg.

Semi-Final

(3rd, Eredivisie) FC Groningen 0 - 3 Man Utd (9th, EPL)
(9th, EPL) Man Utd 2 - 0 FC Groningen (3rd, Eredivisie)
Man Utd win 5-0 on aggregate

Summary

After an(other) infamous night at the Nou Camp, we lost to 10-man Bayern thanks, yes, to errors. But, after Barcelona, and playing at home with an away goal, we had nothing to fear anymore. A professional performance with NO ERRORS saw us take a 2-0 lead in 11 minutes, Reilly scoring as usual and Muller getting one of many free kick and long-range goals to begin Beckham comparisons.

FC Groningen beat AC Milan on penalties but, thanks to a couple of penalties, were steamrolled 3-0 away before a nervy win at home to set up a surprise final - Panathinaikos beat Real on away goals before a shock victory over the defending champions Newcastle United, so it was a final no one expected: Manchester United v Panathinaikos.

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


Domestic

Results

Premier League

(11th) Man Utd 4 - 2 West Brom (14th)
(10th) Man Utd 2 - 0 Leicester (8th)
(12th) Tottenham 1 - 0 Man Utd (8th)
(9th) Man Utd 2 - 0 Leeds Utd (17th)
(8th) Man Utd 1 - 0 Liverpool (4th)
(5th) Chelsea 3 - 0 Man Utd (9th)
(9th) Man Utd 1 - 2 Preston (13th)
(18th) Blackburn 1 - 0 Man Utd (9th)
(15th) Sheff Wed 3 - 0 Man Utd (10th)
(10th) Man Utd 1 - 1 Newcastle Utd (1st)

FA Cup

Quarter-Final

(11th, PL) Man Utd 2 - 0 Birmingham (16th, Ch)

Semi-Final @ Wembley Stadium

(8th, PL) Man Utd 2 - 1 Norwich (15th, PL)

Summary

Our form didn't improve, not helped by a major injury crisis. New signing Hristov, who had got 5 goals and 6 assists in 16 games, got injured for the rest of the season, so now both our performing wingers were gone. But worse, we ran out of strikers! With just the loanee striker fit, I had to recall loans and sign a recently released Man City striker for the season.

Newcastle retained the Premier League with 5 games in hand in mid-April as we started dominating teams at home, but 3 losses in a row meant the Champions League was our only real chance of qualifying again. This was confirmed when I controversially played a team of youngsters and reserves against Sheffield Wednesday, unable to afford any more injuries to senior players.

Our final league position of 10th is the lowest since 1990, but that'll all be glossed over with a Champions League win.

A kind draw in the FA Cup meant we reached the semis before we even met a Premier League side. A 92nd-minute winner from that man Reilly, who got the opener too, meant a dominant win and 2 cup finals.

Our FA Cup final opponent would be Newcastle United, the undisputed best team in England and, until now, Europe and the World...


2027/28 Premier League Table

1 - Newcastle United - 82
2 - West Ham United - 68
3 - Coventry City - 65
4 - Arsenal - 61*
--------------------------------------------------------
5 - Chelsea - 58*
6 - Leicester City - 57 (+4 GD)
7 - Liverpool - 57 (+2 GD)
8 - Portsmouth - 56
9 - Tottenham Hotspur - 51
10 - Manchester United - 50*
11 - Manchester City - 49 (-4 GD)
12 - Middlesbrough - 49 (-9 GD)**
13 - Preston North End - 45
14 - Norwich City - 44 (+1 GD)
15 - Sheffield Wednesday - 44 (-14 GD)
16 - West Bromwich Albion - 42**
17 - Blackburn Rovers - 40
--------------------------------------------------------
18 - Leeds United - 39
19 - Cardiff City - 34
20 - Bolton Wanderers - 21

*Man Utd qualify for the Europa League as FA Cup finalists. If they win the Champions League, they will qualify for the CL and Arsenal will enter the EL. Chelsea would still qualify for the EL, as Man Utd's FA cup spot would go to the next league place down anyway.

**Middlesbrough and WBA qualify for the Europa League as Europa League and League Cup winners respectively

It was a random season for many teams.

Both West Ham and Coventry will make their Champions League debuts, Big 2 side Arsenal struggled under their new manager, and Big 6 sides Liverpool, Man City and ourselves finished way down. Even Middlesbrough, who had been knocking on the door with a 6th then 7th placed finished, disappointed.

Dirty Bolton went straight back down after picking up the most yellow cards and an incredible 13 red cards, more than double anyone else.

We still finished above City!

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Man Utd 2027/28 - The Two Finals

FA Cup Final @ Wembley Stadium, London

wembley.ashx?width=1024&height=576

Manchester United v Newcastle United

Manchester_United_09_grande.jpg v Newcastle_United_05_grande.jpg?v=1498034

 

Odds, Form and Team News

Spoiler

Odds

Newcastle United - 1/2
Draw - 13/5
Manchester United - 9/2

Road To The Final

The draw was very kind for us. 3 out of 4 ties were home matches, and we didn't face a Premier League team until the semis.

Meanwhile, Newcastle only played Premier League sides.

3rd Round
Man Utd 4 - 0 Aldershot
Portsmouth 0 - 1 Newcastle Utd

4th Round
Southampton 1 - 4 Man Utd
Chelsea 0 - 0 Newcastle Utd
Newcastle 1 - 0 Chelsea

5th Round
Crewe 0 - 0 Man Utd
Man Utd 2 - 0 Crewe
West Brom 0 - 2 Newcastle

Quarter-Finals
Man Utd 2 - 0 Birmingham
Newcastle 2 - 0 Tottenham

Semi-Finals
Man Utd 2 - 1 Norwich
Leicester 1 - 1 Newcastle AET (3-5 pens)

Form

Before the Newcastle draw, we lost 4 league games in a row, though 2 of those were with weakened line-ups.  We haven't won in 11 league games away from home.

Since winning the league, Newcastle have won 2 but then been knocked out of the Champions League by Panathinaikos before losing away to West Brom and Middlesbrough, and only drawing against an experimental side at Old Trafford.

This is a repeat of the 2024 final, which Newcastle won 3-1. In fact Newcastle last lost a final 13 years ago. They've won 7 FA Cup and Champions League finals since then.

Team News

---------------- Reilly -- Krpec ----------------
--------------------- Artime ---------------------
Casey -------------------------- Aleksandrowicz (c)
--------------------- Muller ---------------------
McIntosh -- Padilla -- Kirn -- Souza
------------------ Abdel Aziz ------------------

Most positions pick themselves due to injury and form.

- Although he didn't cover himself in glory in his last match, Abdel Aziz has finally shown what he can do with several important saves and nearly no errors in our run to both finals.

- Padilla isn't in the Champions League squad, so he's picked ahead of January signing Friar, who'll start the Champions League final.

- Pressley got an assist in the Newcastle game 6 days ago, by winning the free kick that Muller scored with, but otherwise wasn't amazing and his last 2 assists have come from substitute appearances.

- After the biggest striker crisis ever, hero Reilly and homer Krpec returned to training at the start of May so are fit, though Krpec needs a bit of sharpness. However, other than loanee Alexandre, they're our only first-choice strikers anyway.

Meanwhile, Marcelino's Premier League champions are only missing 1 player - their right-sided defender/midfielder, who had 10 assists in the league. Their star striker Joao, with 27 league goals this season and only just turned 22 years of age, starts.

Before the game, I play a bit of mind games by targeting their centre-back, and it works.

The Match

Spoiler

First Half

1: Their striker runs at goal and scores from just outside the area.

12: A Newcastle free-kick is cleared straight back to the taker, who just hits it back in again, giving their goalscorer a chance to hit a bullet header from 7 yards out, but it's somehow reaction-saved by our keeper.

18: Goalkeeper Abdel Aziz's clearance outside the area is some lame short lob forward that goes straight to their midfielder, who knocks it forward to their star striker Joao who has enough space and time to round the keeper to score his 35th goal of the season. Error.

19: I tell the players to 'play like it's a home game', pushing them suicidally forward even though Newcastle aren't sitting back. But we don't have the discipline today and they're dominating anyway, so it's time to pressure them.

20: Straight from kick off, we start dominating with our new approach and get a couple of headers off-target.

23: Mega-threat Joao elbows Kirn, which is spotted by the ref... but he only gets a yellow card and stays on the pitch.

33: McIntosh nearly lobs the keeper from afar, before Abdel Aziz makes a top class save to deny Joao's header.

36: There are the familiar United chances, with Reilly running on goal but stopped with a last-ditch tackle, and Muller's long range effort off-target.

Second Half

58: We continue to control most of the game. Centre-back Padilla picks up a knock but, as he's not elligible for the Champions League final, he stays on.

60: Our goal kick is hit back into our half, which Joao chases, avoids the tackle, then chips the keeper into the far corner. He's too good. Newcastle risk dominating for a decade just with Joao up front.

61: I concede defeat and take off Reilly, Krpec and Casey, as they are the players I can least afford to see injured.

69: Newcastle should score a 4th, but the header is off-target.

74: Substitute Alexandre has a one-on-one chance but hits it straight at the keeper. Artime has a decent chance but it goes across goal and wide.

83: Joao goes past Kirn again and runs at goal with a chance to complete a hat-trick, but his shot is saved.

Full-Time

Ultra-dominant Newcastle were big favourites to win the double, so a big loss with Joao scoring was always the most likely outcome. but what's worrying is the mistakes from the goalkeeper again, as well as from our first-choice centre-back Kirn.

The only positive is this doesn't affect the players' confidence. Bizarrely, they're feeling brighter than before the match!

Result

Spoiler

(1st, PL) Newcastle United 3 - 0 Manchester United (10th, PL)
3-0: Montiel (2), Joao (19,61)

Another team meeting, to try and turn things around, has no impact.

Champions League Final @ Stadion Feijenoord / De Kuip (Feyenoord)

41953362_1830993693679885_43502079263188

Manchester United v Panathinaikos

Manchester_United_09_grande.jpg?v=149803V 1893__66084.1478918545.1280.1280.jpg?c=2

Odds, Form and Team News

Spoiler

Odds

Man Utd - Evens
Draw - 9/4
Panathinaikos - 9/4

Road To The Final

There was no easy route. Both clubs slayed some behemoths. For us, a famous late win over Real in the groups was followed by an epic night at the Nou Camp before despatching Bayern. Panathinaikos eliminated two of the best teams in Europe, in AC Milan and defending champions Newcastle United.

3rd Qualifying Round (agg.)
Man Utd 3 - 2 Viking

Group Stage

Both teams finished 2nd in their groups.

Real Madrid 0 - 1 Man Utd
Man Utd 4 - 1 Benfica
Galatasaray 1 - 1 Man Utd
Man Utd 3 - 3 Galatasaray
Man Utd 2 - 1 Real Madrid
Benfica 0 - 0 Man Utd
------
Slavia Prague 1 - 0 Panathinaikos
Panathinaikos 0 - 0 Valencia
Panathinaikos 2 - 2 Liverpool
Liverpool 2 - 0 Panathinaikos
Panathinaikos 2 - 0 Slavia Prague
Valencia 1 - 0 Panathinaikos

1st Knockout Round (agg.)
Man Utd 5 - 4 Barcelona AET
Panathinaikos 1 - 0 Real Betis

Quarter-Finals
Man Utd 4 - 2 Bayern Munich
Panathinaikos 2 - 2 Real Madrid

Semi-Finals
Man Utd 5 - 0 FC Groningen
Panathinaikos 1 - 0 Newcastle United

Form

You know our form.

Shock finalists Panathinaikos retained their league title and have rested for 10 days.

Their last and only Champions League final was in 1971. United's last final was 2008, and we're aiming for a 4th trophy after winning in 1968, 1999 and 2007.

Team News

--------------- Reilly -- Krpec ---------------
-------------------- Artime --------------------
Casey -------------------------- Aleksandrowicz (c)
-------------------- Muller --------------------
McIntosh -- Friar -- Kirn -- Souza
----------------- Abdel Aziz -----------------

Only 1 change, which was planned. Friar replaces Padilla, who was picked for the FA Cup as he's not in the Champions League squad.

- Goalkeeper Butler on the bench is an option if there's a penalty shootout.

- In the choice between Artime and Tsotetsi, I start with Artime as Tsotetsi is a better penalty taker, so better to bring him on than keep him on if need be.

- The only other real choice is which young reserve striker to put on the bench. I choose Miguel because he's scored this season and is better in the air, in case Panathinaikos defend a lead or play for penalties by parking the bus.

Panathinaikos are only missing 2 minor players, but are starting with 2 players who aren't match fit or are even tired, including a centre-back, in a game where the temperature will be 28C.

The Match
 

Spoiler

First Half

0: Panathinaikos' free kick goes into the area and their striker wins the header 6 yards out... but he hits the bar. An immediate scare that makes things nervy.

6: After a couple of United free kicks, Artime passes to Reilly, who goes past his tired marker and places it into the far post. What a player he's been this season.

32: Panathinaikos are forced to take long range shots by our tactics, but their striker gets a run in the area... only for the shot to go straight at our keeper.

34: Reilly is dribbling into the area once more, but a last ditch tackle and clearance immediately leads to a Greek attack, which itself is stopped by a last-ditch tackle in the area by McIntosh.

38: McIntosh hits it forward for Krpec to run onto, while their keeper rushes out of his area. Krpec's touch is blocked and it just squeezes wide. Kirn perfectly gets a header from the resulting corner, but it goes over.

Half Time

With defender Kirn on a yellow, and after he recently got a second yellow just 2 minutes into a second half, I take him off for the more error-prone Hartharson, who I tell to go easy on the tackles for ****'s sake...

Second Half

45: Panathinaikos immediately attack from kick-off, but a good chance doesn't test the keeper.

49: Perfectly demonstrating how we're dictating their attacks, Panathinaikos' long range attempt is blocked, so they try crossing it in, only for it to be easily headered away yet again. This then leads to our own attack, then a throw-in, then a cross to Reilly who has a clear shot from 6 yards... but the keeper makes a magic reaction save.

55: The psycho sweeper-keeper Abdel Aziz headers a backpass outside the area, which bounces behind him to his left for their striker to collect ready to hit into the open goal, but Friar had him marked all the way. He tackles and clears.

59: A beautiful passing move ends with Krpec's shot going straight at the keeper. Panathinaikos' attack sees their striker with a free shot, but he's offside and it goes wide anyway. Seconds later, he gets another great chance that a top striker would finish, but he volleys it over. They don't look like they'll score today.

63: Reilly wins a free-kick from his tired marker in our danger area: the flank. Artime's 'free-cross' is headered by Aleksandrowicz, which takes a deflection, is saved by the keeper, only to rebound off the Greek player marking the post and into the net. A 2-goal cushion at last, thanks to some luck.

70: We get a free kick just outside the area, and once again Muller steps up and curls it into the goal!

"It's Muller de-Light in Rotterdam!!"

That's it, the trophy is ours!

77: Panathinaikos' turn for a deflected free kick, but it goes right next to Abdel Aziz and he has the reactions to catch it.

The 349 Man Utd fans allocated tickets by UEFA are in full voice as the clock counts down to celebration time!

Full Time

Another big win to crown new European champions! (Despite Abdel Aziz's crazy sweeper-keeping all game!)

Result

Spoiler

Manchester United 3 - 0 Panathinaikos
Reilly (7), Own Goal (65), Muller (71)

 

On 15/07/2019 at 22:28, Nobby_McDonald said:

manure 10th :D

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Edited by git2thachoppa

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