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Arsenal aren't champions anymore. :( I wish I could say "Wenger out", but at least in your universe, Arsene quit while he was ahead.

There's a small typo in the Premier League segment, though. I'm sure you know that this is Liverpool's first title since 1990, not 1980. I should know - 1990 was the year in which I was born.

And forgive me if you've covered this somewhere before, but what exactly happened with Wayne Rooney in your game? I'm just curious.

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7 minutes ago, CFuller said:

Arsenal aren't champions anymore. :( I wish I could say "Wenger out", but at least in your universe, Arsene quit while he was ahead.

There's a small typo in the Premier League segment, though. I'm sure you know that this is Liverpool's first title since 1990, not 1980. I should know - 1990 was the year in which I was born.

And forgive me if you've covered this somewhere before, but what exactly happened with Wayne Rooney in your game? I'm just curious.

I derped because of rewrites, I meant to say they won it in 1980 (I did put that it's been 24 years instead of 34 years) which goes with the 1980 theme in the rest of the entry. >_>

Wayne Rooney suffered a horrific car accident.

In reality I think what happened was he was injured during the World Cup, then was played while slightly injured in a later game, which caused him to be forever waiting for treatment of the injury. The same thing will happen to Sneijder at the 2014 World Cup...


Edited by git2thachoppa

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2013/14 Review Part 2 - International Football

South Africa 2014 African Cup of Nations

Ivory Coast won their third trophy out of the last four African Cups, beating underdogs Mali after extra time.

The hosts South Africa lost after extra time themselves, against Mali in the semis.

Two legends for their national teams lost their jobs after 6 years, as Abedi Pelé and Hany Ramzy failed to get Ghana and Egypt out the group stage to go with their failure to qualify for this year's World Cup.

American Samoa 2014 OFC Nations Cup

New Zealand didn't slip up this year against surprise finalists New Caledonia.

Hosts American Samoa had the drive to qualify for their own tournament (their qualifiers being hosted by Vanuatu), for their first ever OFC Nations finals, even reaching 3rd place overall and beating the usual #2 team Solomon Islands 4-1.

Spain 2014 World Cup News

Logo and Mascot Unveiled

Of course, can't have a World Cup without an obnoxious logo and dodgy mascot, and Spain have chosen a bull to be the theme, as long as we ignore Spain's horrific relationship with bulls.

The logo

Berto The Bull will no doubt inspire Spain to brutally slaughter their opponents slowly and painfully. Or run away from them.

Berto the Bull

Match of the Day's intro unveiled

The BBC have released a video of their Match of the Day intro to be used for the World Cup in Spain.

"We wanted to reflect the party atmosphere and coming together of all nations during a World Cup, as well as showcasing the incredible stadia that would be the setting for this unique showcase" said the BBC's Gushing Inoffensive Quote Giver 3000 robot.

The custom made 2014 Match of the Day intro

Group Draw

The groups have been drawn:

Group A

New Zealand

Group B


Group C


Group D

Democratic Republic of Congo

Group E


Group F

Republic of Ireland

Group G


Group H

The Israel Situation

Butts clenched in FIFA and the Middle East when Israel finally qualified, and their fears have been realised as Iraq and Israel were drawn together.

For those that don't know: Israel is not a recognised country to most of the Middle East, particularly Arab countries and Iran, to the extent where athletes have pulled out of getting gold in the Olympics, either of their own volition or being forced to. So far in football it has only really led to certain players falling 'ill' when their club has gone to Israel or had to face an Israeli opponent.

The reality is that this is a government stance, and the citizens mostly don't care, and of course Israel has its fair share of Arab, Iranian etc. immigrants. So while pulling out the World Cup seemed a possibility, football is very popular in these parts and doing so could not only possibly cause rioting, but sow the seeds for revolution.

After much posturing and arguing, it has been decided that Iraq will play Israel. Pandora's Box has been opened, and analysts expect this will lead to other countries accepting the need to play Israel in official competition and a relaxing of their unwritten rules so that at least players and staff can play other teams with an Israeli in them. One less thing for me to worry about in future.

Also of note in that group is that at least one of Iraq, Israel and New Zealand will reach the knockout stage, and a (slight) chance that Iran and Israel will meet in the quarter-finals. Or, Allah forbid, the World Cup final.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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11 hours ago, git2thachoppa said:

Logo and Mascot Unveiled

Of course, can't have a World Cup without an obnoxious logo and dodgy mascot, and Spain have chosen a bull to be the theme, as long as we ignore Spain's horrific relationship with bulls.

The logo

Berto The Bull will no doubt inspire Spain to brutally slaughter their opponents slowly and painfully. Or run away from them.

Berto the Bull

That logo is actually not too bad - arguably better than a lot of the logos FIFA/UEFA have used for recent major tournaments. Mind you, I'm not sure what the (ahem) younger fans would make of that mascot! :lol:

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Iran at Spain 2014 World Cup

The Spain 2014 World Cup logo

My custom-made Spain 2014 WC Match of the Day intro

The Spain 2014 World Cup theme

The other 2014 World Cup theme featuring everyone's favourite rapey uncle

(Funny how the Brazil songs were way more appropriate for Spain. Corrupt FIFA were trolling the poor Brazilians HARD.)


The draw for the group stage was made. Our opponents will be:

Peru (ranked 26th) - Qualified on the final day just above Argentina, so could be beatable.
France (6th) - Any points will be great.
Scotland (8th) - Qualified from the same group as France, topping it unbeaten. But perhaps they'll choke. 0 or 1 points.

Friendlies were played using a second-string team to help decide who makes the squad, but poorly displays saw a 2-0 loss in Romania, a 2-1 loss at home to World Cup runner-ups Norway, a 1-0 home loss to Angola, and a 1-1 draw away to Trinidad & Tobago (though we won on penalties).

Also, Iran will be playing in a special kit adorned with an image of the Asiatic Cheetah, highlighting the plight of the iconic and highly-endangered species.

Iran's 2014 World Cup kit

Final 23-Man Squad

1: Mohammad Mansouri - GK - 23, Paykan (Iran), 9 caps - The new #1
21: Ebrahim Mirzapour - GK - 35, Le Havre, 106 caps - The veteran keeper, now the #2
23: Eman Zare - GK - 20, Malavan (Iran), 2 caps

2: Mehdi Fatemi - DR/DC - 19, Paas (Iran), 2 caps
4: Rasoul Mirtoroghi - DC - 30, Caykur Rizespor (Turkish second-tier), 39 caps - The star defender
5: Majid Mirmarsli - DC - 24, Saipa, 5 caps
19: Jalal Kameli Mofrad - DC/SW - 33, Iraklis (Greek second-tier), 61 caps - Call him 'The Cleaner'

Wing-Backs, Full-Backs and Wingers
3: Yahia Al Balawi - DL - 25, Real Betis, 20 caps - The Iranian Ashley Cole
11: Alireza Vahedi Nikbakht - AML - 33, unattached, 71 caps
12: Mohammad Rostami - DL/DR - 26, RKC Waalwijk, 2 caps
13: Hosain Kaebi - WBR/DR/AMR - 28, Hamburg, 81 caps - The Iranian Gary Neville
16: Abbas Khorasani - ML/AML - 24, Persepolis (Iran), 8 caps
17: Reza Maghouli - MR/AMR - 25, RKC Waalwijk, 10 caps

6: Javad Nekounam (c) - DM/MC - 33, Borussia Dortmund, 124 caps - The legendary captain
8: Alireza Moradi - AMC/MC - 22, Zob Ahan (Iran), 13 caps
14: Jalal Akbari - AMC - 30, Sepahan (Iran), 14 caps
15: Mohammad Alavi - MC/DM - 32, VfL Bochum (German second-tier), 39 - Nekounam's injured partner
22: Arash Gholizadeh - MC - 25, Paas (Iran), 4 caps

7: Mehrdad Oladi - ST - 29, FC Koln, 8 goals in 35 caps - The star striker's partner in crime
9: Arash Borhani - ST - 30, Middlesbrough, 41 goals in 68 caps - The star striker who it all rests on
10: Vahid Amraei - ST - 25, Eintracht Frankfurt, 5 goals in 15 caps - The #3 striker
18: Shahab Yanpi - ST - 25, Saba Battery (Iran), 1 goal in 8 caps
20: Mohammad Reza Amin Sanaei - ST - 26, Fajr Sepasi (Iran), 2 goals in 5 caps

Unfortunately, Ali Karimi, the veteran who had made his way back into the squad, known as the 'Iranian Maradona', retired before the World Cup so I couldn't pick him.

On the first day, Yanpi got injured and is now out for the tournament.


I knew I needed to change my tactics for the World Cup. I had been using a sweeper, 2 centre-backs, 2 wing-backs or wingers, 2 central midfielders, one 'in the hole' and two strikers, but the wings and the guy behind the strikers had become ineffectual. In fact the whole team had become ineffectual.

I reassessed my team and noted our star players, which are 1 central defender (Mirtoroghi), the full backs (Al-Balawi and Kaebi), two central midfielders though one is injured (Nekounam, Alavi when fit) and two strikers (Borhani the star striker and Oladi when he performs).

So I've decided to use Borhani as a target man. Most of his goals come from him chasing a loose ball, as he has excellent running Off The Ball (20). Oladi is a dribbler but that will be sacrificed. The two wings will be more defensive and just support the central midfielders, which are now 3. Two of them will push forward when attacking. Now instead of wide and passing, we'll play narrow and counter-attack with long balls in front of the target man.

Had our #3 striker, Amraei, not been injured for the start of the tournament, I probably would've played 3 strikers, which would resemble our tactics against Australia in that memorable 2011 Asian Cup win.

v Peru - 7/6/14 @ Lluís Companys Olympic Stadium (Espanyol)

Peru are our weakest opponents, scraping through qualification winning only half their games and with +1 goal difference. If we're to beat anyone, it will probably have to be them.

First Team


1: Mansouri
2: Fatemi
4: Mirtoroghi
5: Mirmarsli
13: Kaebi
3: Al-Balawi
8: Moradi
6: Nekounam (c)
22: Gholizadeh
9: Borhani
7: Oladi

Peru 2 - 0 Iran
A deflected shot from a free kick was followed by a knocked-on shot from a free kick. We had 7 shots and 0 on target.

v France - 13/6/14 @ Estadio Benito Villamarín (Real Betis)

No changes were made to the first team, but slight tactical tweaks.

Iran 0 - 0 France
Despite losing our captain to injury after only 6 minutes, for the rest of the tournament, we had a few close chances, arguably closer than their ones (think Iran v Argentina real life 2014 except Messi doesn't score at the end). The sweeper Kameli-Mofrad came on as a makeshift central midfielder and made nearly 100% of his passes and tackles.

v Scotland - 18/6/14 @ Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium (Sevilla)

First Team

With a win needed, and against a team playing 3-4-3, I feel like my 3 central defenders can deal with the 3 strikers zonally and I can move my wing-backs forward a bit and use more attack-minded players.


* = change from France game

1: Mansouri
2: Fatemi
4: Mirtoroghi
5: Mirmarsli
17: Maghouli* (c)
8: Moradi
19: Kameli-Mofrad*
22: Gholizadeh
11: Nikbakht*
9: Borhani
7: Oladi

With the central midfield captain injured in the France game, I need a defensive central midfielder. After his display coming on for the injured captain, I try putting the sweeper there again and hope it wasn't a one-off performance.

With 6 players injured or unfit (including Al-Balawi and all 3 backup strikers now), the team mostly picks itself anyway.

Iran 3 - 1 Scotland
It turns out I wasn't attacking enough! The first half had little impetus, but an injury to Mirmarsli changed that.
I brought on an attacking midfielder and moved Kameli-Mofrad back to his sweeper role, which meant we were using no real defensive midfielders.
In the second half I moved the wingers further up, meaning a 3-2-3-2 formation, and Scotland were being carved open. In the space of 6 minutes we took the lead through Moradi, their wonderkid winger scored from a header from a cross from a throw-in, then Borhani took back the lead.
Scotland started getting more chances, but a corner was cleared away and picked up by Moradi on the halfway line, who ran all the way into the area and scored into the far side of the goal from an angle. It was like Maradona (but without all the defenders). Moradona!

A bit like this

Unfortunately, a match with only two shots on target saw Peru and France get the 0-0 draw they both wanted, meaning Peru confirmed 1st and France got 2nd place despite only scoring one goal so far.

Still, a draw against France, our second ever World Cup win, 3 goals against the 8th-ranked team, and Iran's biggest ever World Cup points and goals haul, counts as success. Also, Moradi got runner-up for goal of the tournament with his Maradona-without-defenders run and angled shot.

The captain Nekounam retired with 126 caps.

On the plus side, that's a quarter of a million in the bank for me.

Personal bank balance: A little over £1,000,000

My future

There was an option for a 1 year extension to my contract, which goes to the 2015 Asian Cup, but my employers were ready to offer a 4-year contract up to the next World Cup.

I said I'll just take up the extension for now, with a pay rise, and then we'll talk again after.

I feel 2015 will be my last year as Iran manager. There are several things to consider:

Money - Another 4 years would make me nearly £1.5m, taking my bank balance to well over £2m and nearly setting me up for life. However it's fair to assume I'll make plenty of money elsewhere if I keep making a success of it. Worst case scenario: I could become a pundit.

Squads and cycles - The Asian Cup is only a year away, then the World Cup is 3 years later, so next year marks the natural end of a cycle. The captain and our #2 striker have retired, while all bar a couple of the good players will be over 30 if not retired in 2018. The replacements don't look like they'll be anything more than decent.

My reputation - Taking Iran to the Asian Cup final for the first time in decades, and then to their best ever World Cup performance, and so close to the knockout rounds, does wonders for my standing. We'll be contenders for next year's Asian Cup, and this is realistic. However, people will see Iran at the 2018 World Cup and tip them as dark horses for the knockout stage, rather than me making the most of a team that's inferior to 4 years ago. And what if we fail to qualify? That would look terrible.

So whether I stay depends on if a couple of strikers turn up in the next year that are reliable. Although it was a successful World Cup campaign this year, we only scored in one match, and in that match we won by two goals. Two of our goals were scored by a midfielder.

Money is money, but my reputation and image is what needs preserving to be a success. Plus it's probably time for something new.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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2013/14 Recap Part 3 - Spain 2014 World Cup

The Spain 2014 World Cup logo

My custom-made Spain 2014 WC Match of the Day intro

The Spain 2014 World Cup theme

The other 2014 World Cup theme featuring everyone's favourite rapey uncle

(Funny how the Brazil songs were way more appropriate for Spain, corrupt FIFA were trolling the poor Brazilians HARD.)

Defending champions Brazil are major favourites, with European champions Germany also strong contenders. All the other big teams have underperformed in the past few years, while Brazil and Germany have only lost one game each in qualifying, which for Brazil is 3 years in the most competitive qualification region in the world.

2010 saw giantkillings and fairytales, will that continue this year?

Match Days 1 & 2

Group A

Brazil 3 - 0 Iraq
Brazil's defence started by steamrolling Iraq at Camp Nou.

Israel 2 - 0 New Zealand
One of New Zealand's star players got sent off 18 minutes into his first World Cup, allowing Israel to walk all over them.

Iraq 0 - 0 Israel
An historic and much anticipated match ends up being a boring non-event.

New Zealand 1 - 1 Brazil
The Kiwis scored early through Kosta Barbarouses, and nearly landed a monumental victory over the defending champions but for a stoppage time equaliser from Rafael Sobis.

Group B

Netherlands 1 - 0 Canada
Dirk Kuyt scored with minutes to go to finally beat Asmir Begovic.

Algeria 1 - 1 Argentina
A penalty helped the Africans snatch a point.

Canada 1 - 1 Algeria

Argentina 1 - 0 Netherlands

Group C

Peru 2 - 0 Iran
A deflected shot from a free kick was followed by a knocked-on shot from a free kick, while Iran were ineffective.

France 1 - 0 Scotland
An early goal from Frédéric Nimani gave France the win in an even game.

Iran 0 - 0 France
Iran were more than a match for France in a surprise result.

Scotland 0 - 1 Peru
Jefferson Farfán's goal means Peru are the first team to qualify. And Scotland, typically, are the first to be eliminated.

Group D

Mexico 3 - 0 Wales

Ukraine 4 - 0 Democratic Republic of the Congo

Democratic Republic of the Congo 2 - 2 Wales

Ukraine 0 - 2 Mexico
Despite 20 shots, Ukraine fell to Mexico thanks to wasteful finishing and a Man of the Match performance from Manchester United's Mexican keeper Ochoa.

Group E

Greece 1 - 0 Turkey
A surprise victory over a very strong contender.

Australia 1 - 1 Senegal

Turkey 1 - 1 Australia

Senegal 1 - 0 Greece

Group F

Germany 1 - 1 China
A stoppage time equaliser stops a big defeat for the European champions to the Asian champions.

Guinea 0 - 2 Republic of Ireland

Republic of Ireland 1 - 0 Germany
Republic of Ireland qualify while Germany are in real danger of going out.

China 1 - 0 Guinea

Group G

Chile 2 - 0 Jamaica

England 0 - 1 Italy

Italy 1 - 0 Chile

Jamaica 0 - 2 England
A red card for each side late on were the only major events during a routine England win.

Group H

Spain 0 - 0 Finland
A drab start for the hosts.

Nigeria 1 - 0 Colombia
A big result against the World Cup semi-finalists.

Finland 0 - 0 Nigeria

Spain 0 - 2 Colombia
The hosts were awful (4s and 5s all round), going 2-0 behind in the first half, before having a man sent off.

Match Day 3

Group A

New Zealand and Iraq play each other needing a win. Israel and Brazil know a draw sees them both through, but a loss means whoever wins in the other match can qualify in their place if they make up the goal difference.

Brazil had no trouble beating Israel 2-0. Iraq took a 2-0 lead over New Zealand after only 15 minutes, but they got 2 back, one of them an own goal, meaning the match ended 2-2 and it's Israel who reach the knockout stages.

Group B

Canada need a shock win over Argentina to qualify, while Argentina just need to draw. Whoever wins between Netherlands and Algeria will go through, though a draw is enough for Netherlands if Canada don't win.

Argentina easily walked over Canada 3-0. Netherlands also easily won 2-0.

Group C

France need just a draw against Peru, who have already qualified. Iran need to beat the already eliminated Scotland and hope France lose, with one of results having at least a two-goal margin. If France lose 2-0 and Iran win 1-0, a drawing of lots will be required for the first time since 1990.

Iran shocked Scotland 3-1 in an entertaining second half. However, Peru and France got the 0-0 draw they both wanted, meaning Peru stay top, Iran are out and France take 2nd despite scoring just one goal so far.

Group D

Wales need to beat Euro 2012 finalists Ukraine to qualify, as long as DR Congo don't win by a bigger margin. Ukraine realistically just need a draw. Democratic Republic of the Congo have to beat the already-qualified Mexico by at least two goals and hope Ukraine don't win, and need a bigger margin if Ukraine draw.

Two sendings off, one after only 8 minutes, destroyed DR Congo's chances and allowed Mexico a 3-0 win without trying. A mistake by the goalkeeper allowed Dave Cotterill to score in an open goal, then Ukraine missed several clear cut chances, which gave Dean Saunders' Wales the 1-0 win sending them through and Ukraine out.

Group E

They were expected to top an easy group, but Turkey are out if they don't beat top-of-the-group Senegal, who only need a draw. The winner between Australia and Greece will qualify, but a draw might be enough for the Greeks.

It was the most exciting finish to a group so far. Turkey were 2-0 down at half time, but brought it back to 2-2 before a deflected free-kick in stoppage time gave Senegal the win and knocked Turkey out. Meanwhile, 3 goals in 9 minutes gave Greece a 2-1 lead at half-time, extended to 3-1 on 90 minutes, although Australia immediately pulled one back they needed 2 more goals in no time. The table looks upside-down with Senegal and Greece qualifying and Turkey bottom.

Group F

Germany need to beat the already-eliminated Guinea and hope China lose to the already-qualified Republic of Ireland for a chance of avoiding catastrophe.

Germany thrashed Guinea 6-0, thanks in part to an early sending off. The Africans are being quite indisciplined this year. However China scored a late equaliser to qualify instead. Klopp's European champions are out.

Group G

The only thing at stake between Jamaica and Italy is Italy needing a draw to definitely top the group. It's the match between England and Chile that everyone will be watching - winner takes all. A draw will mean a drawing of lots to decide who goes home, for the first time in 60 years.

In perhaps the match of the tournament, England took the lead through John Terry's header after only 3 minutes. 20 minutes later, Chile were 2-1 ahead. World Player of the Year Luke Moore brought it level before Giles Barnes' deflected shot gave England the lead again. But an intercepted Terry pass gave Eduardo Rubio a free run at goal and the equaliser. Then it was England hanging on. The match ended 3-3 and lots were drawn... and now England have a new way of exiting to complain about. Chile are through! But would England have fared any better if penalties decided it?
In contrast, Italy won 1-0 in the other match after a goal in the 3rd minute, in a meaningless match where nothing happened.

Group H

Hosts Spain's awful World Cup will be over unless they beat Nigeria by two goals, Nigeria just need a draw. Finland go through if they beat Colombia, otherwise it's the Colombians who qualify.

Finland drew 0-0 with Colombia, though were arguably the better team. Spain beat Nigeria thanks to a Fernando Torres goal, but they needed two goals, so the hosts are out and Colombia and Nigeria are through.

Final Group Standings

Group A

Brazil - 7
Israel - 4
New Zealand - 2 (-2 GD)
Iraq - 2 (-3 GD)

Group B

Argentina - 7
Netherlands - 6
Algeria - 2
Canada - 1

Group C

Peru - 7
France - 5
Iran - 4
Scotland - 0

Group D

Mexico - 9
Wales - 4
Ukraine - 3
Democratic Republic of the Congo - 1

Group E

Senegal - 7
Greece - 6
Australia - 2
Turkey - 1

Group F

Republic of Ireland - 7
China - 5
Germany - 4
Guinea - 0

Group G

Italy - 9
Chile - 4 (+1 GD, 5 GF)*
England - 4 (+1 GD, 5 GF)*
Jamaica - 0
*Head to head = Chile 3 - 3 England. Chile advance after drawing of lots.

Group H

Colombia - 4 (+1 GD)
Nigeria - 4 (0 GD)
Spain - 4 (-1 GD)
Finland - 3

Second Round

Brazil 0 - 1 Netherlands
A brilliant long ball across the length of the pitch from Urby Emanuelson was finished off by, who else, Drik Kuyt. The favourites are out!

France 0 - 1 Mexico

Republic of Ireland 1 - 0 Greece

Nigeria 0 - 0 Italy (4-5 on penalties)
Ishola Shuaibu missed the only penalty.


Argentina 2 - 1 Israel
Israel kept themselves in it at 2-1, until a sending off in the second half made coming back that much harder.

Peru 3 - 0 Wales
Junior Ross scored in 16 seconds, before scoring Peru's third in the 28th minute.

China 1 - 1 Senegal AET (1-1 FT) (6-5 on penalties)
It took 8 rounds of penalties to decide the winner.

Chile 1 - 1 Colombia AET (1-1 FT) (5-4 on penalties)
A late equaliser by Gary Medel kept Chile in it.


Netherlands 2 - 0 Mexico
Mexico were never in it, but it took a Kuyt penalty (his 50th goal for his country) and a 90th minute goal to end it.

Republic of Ireland 2 - 0 Italy AET
Italy only managed one shot on target, but it took until the last 3 minutes of extra time for Ireland's impressive performance to get goals.


Argentina 1 - 0 Peru
Argentina had an easy time against Peru, keeper José Carvallo stopping 10 shots from making the scoreline bigger.

China 0 - 1 Chile
Despite 58% possession and over double the shots, China fell to Chile and Alexis Sanchez' goal.


Netherlands 1 - 1 Republic of Ireland AET (1-1 FT) (3-4 on penalties)
Kuyt scored again, but the Irish equalised and made it count on penalties. A great Netherlands team is denied.

Argentina 1 - 0 Chile
Chile resorted to tough defensive tactics, with top performances from Claudio Bravo and Waldo Ponce, but half the team got yellows, and a red card for an elbow made life harder. They eventually conceded a free kick goal and were out.

Third Place Playoff

Chile 1 - 1 Netherlands AET (1-1 FT) (3-2 on penalties)
Another Man of the Match performance from Claudio Bravo took it to penalties, where 9 out of 14 penalties were missed.

Spain 2014 World Cup Final

Republic of Ireland v Argentina


The Republic of Ireland are not World Cup regulars, only qualifying 3 times before and never getting past the second round. Similarly, they've only made 3 European Championship appearances, reaching the quarter-finals in 2008. This is a bit new.

Argentina are the exact opposite and will be looking to win their third World Cup in their fifth final. It is the culmination of years of winning youth tournaments and enjoying a golden era of attacking talent.


Ireland topped their group with wins over Germany and Guinea and a draw with China. They beat Greece in the next round, but needed extra time to beat Italy then penalties to get past new favourites Netherlands. They've kept 4 clean sheets in 6 matches and scored in every game (including extra time against Italy).

Argentina topped their group with wins over Netherlands and Canada, and a draw with Algeria. They then beat Israel, Peru and Chile by one goal each. They too have kept 4 clean sheets and scored in every game.

Team News

Chelsea's Argentine striker Italo Bini will pick up the Golden Boot unless Kevin Doyle scores two more than he does today.

Paul McShane is still injured for Ireland.

Lucas Trecarichi is also out for Argentina.

Republic of Ireland play 4-4-2: Supple (Preston North End); O'Shea (Manchester United), Hone (Coventry), Spillane (Norwich), Timlin (Sheffield United); Doyle (Manchester United), Gibson (c) (Aston Villa), Reid (Blackburn), Keogh (Middlesbrough); Long (Preston North End), Rowe (Blackburn) - 9 Premier League, 2 Championship

Argentina play the same 4-4-2: Ustari (Inter Milan); San Román (Newcastle United), Coloccini (Liverpool), Milito (Chelsea), Insúa (Juventus); Zabaleta (Real Betis), Gago (Newcastle United), Cambiasso (c) (AC Milan), Messi (Barcelona); Higuaín (Real Madrid), Bini (Chelsea) - 5 Premier League, 3 Serie A, 3 La Liga

First Half

A knock wasn't enough to stop Gonzalo Higuaín from just about sliding a shot past Supple to give Argentina the lead.

Second half

A change in formation immediately paid dividends as Ireland's two groups of three easily played through Argentina and Rowe equalised 24 seconds into the second half. Both teams eased off and played patient football, then in the 80th minute Higuaín's shot came off the crossbar, allowing Bini to hit the rebound in for the winner and the Golden Boot.

Argentina win their third World Cup.

Final score: Republic of Ireland 1 - 2 Argentina


2014 World Champions



Golden Ball: Andrea Barzagli (Italy)
Golden Boot: Italo Bini (Argentina) - 6 goals
Golden Glove: Claudio Bravo (Chile)

Selected Managerial News

Hosts Spain had to sack their manager after only one goal and no performances to be proud of. Part-man, part-goblin Pako Ayestarán replaces him, a man who was perhaps harshly sacked last year by Liverpool, but built a team that would go on to finally win the title the next season. First-hand sightings of The Vulture in Spain suddenly rise drastically.

Dean Saunders moved on after taking Wales to two tournaments in a row and a good performance in both.

Pat Ercoli stepped down after a rocky 8 years and ultimate show in faith led to Canada's first World Cup in nearly 3 decades. He's replaced by former Scotland international Mo Johnston, after 8 years at Toronto FC.

Ricki Herbert stepped down after 9 years and finally taking New Zealand to the World Cup. He's replaced by former international Danny Halligan, who spent a decade at Canterbury United and won them a Champions League trophy in 2008.

Abdoulaye Sarr retired after managing Senegal to the second round, with 2 wins and 2 draws.

Other News

Wesley Sneijder's career may be over due to injury. Wayne Rooney contacted him to offer advice, being in a similar situation.

(This World Cup injury bug sucks major balls, I don't recall this being in my last FM 07 game.)


Edited by git2thachoppa

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Iran - Qualifying for the 2015 Asian Cup


Groups of 4 teams play each other twice, the top 2 qualify (and one best-third-placed).

But what's interesting is how the fixtures are played out: in two sets of three, so 3 matches in 4 days followed by an 8-day break, then the final 3 matches in another 4 days. One set of fixtures each is hosted by a country chosen at random. We get luck of the draw and will be hosting the second set of fixtures.

Our opponents are:

Northern Mariana Islands, who don't even have a FIFA ranking. But they were relatively impressive last time, scoring in every game except away to Saudi Arabia, and even managing a draw with North Korea and a win over Vietnam on neutral ground.

Lebanon, who host the first set of fixtures and missed out on World Cup qualification in the Asia-Oceania playoffs. We got 4 points against them in World Cup qualifying.

Qatar, who didn't even reach the final group stage of World Cup qualifying.


My approach to friendlies changed a bit, from playing a B-team to playing a mixture of backups with some experience and first-teamers in there. I needed to learn a bit more about my first-teamers as well as who could fill out the rest of the Asian Cup squad.

We were impressive in all of them: beating Sweden away in a match that saw Zlatan put on the goalkeeper gloves, dominating South Korea (but somehow losing), and a second-string making the 3rd best team in the world, Chile, play for a draw.


Ideally, we'd be facing the weak team inbetween the two other fixtures, as a game every two days in roasting Asian heat means rotation is mandatory, not even considering we play a quick game tactically. However we meet the whipping boys first, so instead I'll play it by ear.

I name a second-string.

(40th) Iran 6 - 0 Northern Mariana Islands (N/A) (N)

Qatar got a draw in Lebanon, which means we already have a lead.

Again the team picks itself, because we now have the hardest game of the group - away to Lebanon. So I pick my best team, all rested.

(45th) Lebanon 1 - 1 Iran (40th) (A)
A sending off allowed us to take the lead, not through our two 'best' strikers Borhani or Amraei, but third-best Yanpi with his third in 4 games. However the 3 points were destroyed with 5 minutes to go with a backpass own goal by our experienced defender.

Qatar beat Northern Mariana 2-1.

(118th) Qatar 2 - 0 Iran (40th) (N)
A sabotaged display. At one point the stiker played a backpass from just outside the OPPONENT'S penalty area. Our keeper was passing it to allow the opponents to get it. There was no way of knowing what was going wrong. Borhani had the most shots, 5, only 2 on target.
It took all my power to avoid reloading a clearly rigged match.

Lebanon thrashed Northern Mariana 5-0.

Iran 6 - 0 Northern Mariana Islands (H)
The only thing of note was Borhani coming on as sub on the hour and scoring a hat-trick and becoming Man of the Match, albeit after they went down to 10 men.

Lebanon easily beat Qatar 1-0.

Iran 1 - 0 Lebanon (H)
A familiar story as wasteful finishing and complacency meant a late winner was required, Rezapour scoring his second goal in his second appearance.

Qatar beat Northern Mariana Islands, so we only need to draw to qualify. If we want to top the group, a 2-0 win is needed.

Iran 3 - 0 Qatar (H)
Before qualifying, I thought Borhani and Amraei would be my front two. But in the last match, it was Rezapour and Yanpi who started instead of the misfiring two, Yanpi getting 2 while Rezapour scored in his third match in a row. Qatar had 0 chances and never tried.

It's almost like this is a video game, and the previous Qatar encounter was rigged against the human player.

Lebanon beat Northern Mariana 3-0 as expected, which took them second, though Qatar still qualified as easily the best third-placed team in qualifying thanks to their rigged win over us.

Final Group Standings

Iran - 13
Lebanon - 11
Qatar - 10

Northern Mariana Islands - 0

Macau 2015 Asian Cup Qualifying News

North Korea were shockingly knocked out at the preliminary group stage, after Hong Kong beat Laos by a larger margin and got a draw with the Koreans to qualify for the main qualifiers.

Vietnam qualified for their first Asian Cup as non-hosts, topping a group with South Korea, Iraq and India. 2014 World Cup participants Iraq failed to make it.

On 30/05/2017 at 07:46, CFuller said:

Nice to see Messi get his World Cup... but Ireland?! Seriously?

England crash out at the Group Stage again. I wouldn't be surprised if the BBC pundits said exactly the same things as they did in 2010.


Martin O'Neill = Finals

A loss by drawing of lots after the group game of the tournament, and after being one minute from not qualifying at all until World Player of the Year Luke Moore did a Beckham/Greece, can't say it wasn't exciting.

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Impressive that you kept your health as well as your job after not qualifying for the second round with Iran. :D

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10 hours ago, tenthreeleader said:

Impressive that you kept your health as well as your job after not qualifying for the second round with Iran. :D

It was the Asian Cup qualifiers and I topped the group. :s

And it's Iraq during the Saddam regime that tortured its failing players, not Iran.

Sir, your post is all kinds of incorrect.

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On 03/06/2017 at 05:25, tenthreeleader said:

Impressive that you kept your health as well as your job after not qualifying for the second round with Iran. :D

Ohhh wait were you referring to the World Cup? Iran don't exactly have pedigree reaching that stage anyway. >_> I and the players would've returned heroes (as they kind of did in real life 2014, the fans adore Carlos Queiroz).

14 hours ago, Boycott said:

Read through this story at work today. Very cool idea and presentation. 

The whole thing?? Or just generally? Thank you for your input.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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On ‎6‎/‎3‎/‎2017 at 09:55, git2thachoppa said:

Sir, your post is all kinds of incorrect.


This is a country that still doesn't admit women to some sports events and stones homosexuals. 

I meant no offense and in return my hope would be that you understand a tongue-in-cheek comment when you see one. In the meantime, continued success with your save.

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8 hours ago, tenthreeleader said:


This is a country that still doesn't admit women to some sports events and stones homosexuals. 

I meant no offense and in return my hope would be that you understand a tongue-in-cheek comment when you see one. In the meantime, continued success with your save.

All that story tells you is some grumpy hardliners said they should be lashed. It even says that's not in the law. Akin to someone here saying "they should be shot"! It's a perfect example of the news taking an already incredible story and exaggerating or making up things and sticking a clickbait headline on it to get an even bigger reaction when the reality is bad enough.

This subject is an entirely different subject, and the short answer is Iran lies somewhere inbetween the fairytale glowing democracy of America or the UK and the total blanket madness and dictatorships of Saudi Arabia or North Korea. Basically everyone is held back by the unelected hardliners in charge above the government. Even Ahmadniejad tried to unban women and was stopped by them, so imagine how hardline these guys are.

But as far as football goes, I don't know of cases where footballers have been punished, that was an Iraqi thing. It's just a correction. Though I don't think any lashings, or the daily torture and fear the Iraqi players went through is something to be joked about. It was horrific. Had Iran not been a safe place to work, I wouldn't have taken the job.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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Iran at the Macau 2015 Asian Cup

22 Man Squad

1 Mohammad Mansouri - GK - 24, AA Gent, 16 caps - The #1
13 Ebrahim Mirzapour - GK - 36, Le Havre, 106 caps - The veteran former #1
20 Alireza Haghighi - GK - 27, DSV Leoben, 9 caps - The ladies' favourite

2 Mehdi Fatemi - DR/DC - 20, Vitesse, 10 caps
4 Rasoul Mirtoroghi - DC - 31, Stuttgart, 46 caps - The star defender
5 Majid Mirmarsli - DC - 25, Saipa (Iran), 11 caps
21 Abdul Wahab Al-Sultan - DC - 22, Esteghlal (Iran), 7 caps

Wingers, wing-backs and full-backs
3 Yahia Al Balawi - DL - 26, Real Betis, 26 caps - The Iranian Ashley Cole
7 Hosain Kaebi - WBR/DR/AMR - 29, Hamburg, 88 caps - The Iranian Gary Neville and new captain
11 Abbas Khorasani - ML/AML - 25, Roda JC Kerkrade, 13 caps
12 Keyvan Karimi - DL - 27, Roda JC Kerkrade, 1 cap
16 Behrang Safari - ML/AML/AMR - 30, FC Sion, 2 caps - Notable for being a callup from the Iranian diaspora, and taking 3 years to debut due to injury and recovery
17 Ali Ghafouri - MR/AMR - 21, Saba Battery (Iran), 0 caps (call-up from Under-21s)

6 Behnam Mahmoudi - MC/DM - 25, Esteghlal, 2 caps
8 Alireza Moradi - AMC/MC - 23, Zob Ahan (Iran), 19 caps - The World Cup legend
14 Jalal Akbari - AMC - 32, Sepahan (Iran), 20 caps
15 Mohammad Alavi - MC/DM - 33, RW Essen (German second-tier), 40 - 8 injuries in a calendar year doesn't stop him being the star midfielder
22 Arash Gholizadeh - MC - 26, Istanbul BB SK (Turkish 2nd tier), 12 caps

9 Meysam Rezapour - ST - 27, Fajr Sepasi, 3 goals in 3 caps
10 Shahab Yanpi - ST - 26, Saba Battery (Iran), 6 goals in 16 caps
18 Arash Borhani - ST - 31, Middlesbrough (English 2nd tier), 45 goals in 78 caps - The ageing star striker's last hurrah?
19 Vahid Amraei - ST - 26, Eintracht Frankfurt, 6 goals in 22 caps

Anyone with a keen eye and memory will notice my mind games. The misfiring and rusty Borhani, and his supposed replacement Amraei, have had their number 9 and 10 taken off them. Will they react positively? Will they even start hitting the bloody target?

Group Preview

4 groups of 4 with the top 2 making the next round, and we're up against:

Kuwait - Should be 3 points but they're not total pushovers as they've qualified for the last 6 Asian Cups and, although they haven't got out of the group stage since 2000, have picked up 3 or 4 points at least. However they qualified this year despite only one win over Nepal and Malaysia, and losing 3-0 twice to Saudi Arabia.

Qatar - Met them in qualifying, they beat us in a weird match on neutral ground, and they rolled over at home. Qualified as the best 3rd-placed team.

The bloody Chinese again - Won the last Asian Cup after beating us 3-0 in the final, as well as beating us 3-2 in the group stage after taking an early 3-0 lead. We met again in World Cup qualifying: they won what is generally agreed to be a rigged game in China, before playing for a 0-0 in Iran. They qualified for the World Cup with us, drawing with (seconds away from beating) European champions Germany, as well as eventual World Cup runner-up Republic of Ireland, and getting to the quarter-finals after penalties before losing 1-0 to the 3rd placed Chile.

v Kuwait - 19/7/15 - Group C

First Team

* = change from qualifier v Qatar


1: Mansouri
2: Fatemi
4: Mirtoroghi
21: Al-Sultan*
17: Ghafouri*
22: Gholizadeh (c)
15: Alavi*
16: Safari*
8: Moradi
9: Rezapour
10: Yanpi

A few surprises.

I use wingers instead of wing-backs on the assumption that Kuwait will be happy with a 0-0 draw, which means the regular first-team wing-backs are out and a debutant and a guy with 2 caps, due to an injury to our more regular winger, are in.

Also the two bigger name strikers are on the bench and I stick with the two that have scored in nearly every game rather than the 'better' ones that scored in none bar one hat-trick against whipping boys.

(82nd) Kuwait 1 - 2 Iran (44th)
We took the lead in 4 minutes, but what was an otherwise easy game was more tense than it should've been thanks to them getting an equaliser via a header (as always, we conceded by a set piece rather than open play), and the wet weather making it hard to control the ball and get more than 2 of the shots in the net. The strikers Yanpi and Rezapour combined well and seem to have struck up a good partnership.

China beat Qatar 4-0.

v Qatar - 23/7/15 - Group C

First Team

* = change from Kuwait match


1: Mansouri
2: Fatemi
4: Mirtoroghi
5: Mirmarsli* (c)
16: Safari
8: Moradi
15: Alavi
3: Al-Balawi*
14: Akbari*
9: Rezapour
10: Yanpi

I wasn't happy with Al-Sultan being beaten in the air by a weaker player, so I bring in the fresher and slightly stronger Mirmarsli.

Ghafouri is injured, so Safari moves to the right and Al-Balawi returns on the left.

Gholizadeh is also out, so Moradi moves back and Akbari comes in.

I wanted to change one of the strikers for freshness and form's sake, against a team we should roll over, but changed my mind at the last moment. Only a loss will put qualification to the knockout stage in real jeopardy, but it's better to do the job now than risk a 0-1. No one wins playing the game of trying to get the easy knockout draw. So instead, if we take a lead, I'll take the strikers off early.

(44th) Iran 4 - 2 Qatar (92nd)
We took the lead in 1 minute, Rezapour continuing his incredible scoring streak. Again we conceded via a header then retook the lead. In 36 minutes, all 6 goals were scored. I could take off the strikers and ease off by half time, and go down to 10 men later via injury, without worry.

China laboured to a 1-0 win over Kuwait, meaning we're in the quarter-finals with a game to spare.

v China - 27/7/15 - Group C

Only a win against China will see us top the group, but we might not want to do that.

The winner of the group will have to face Australia, who have underperformed but only due to misfiring attackers. The runner-up will only have to face Macau, who may be the hosts, but are also Macau. Their results have been good, but against a contender that doesn't waste chances they'll be well beaten. Because of a Group of Death, the semi-final will be against a tough team regardless.

So I'll play a weakened side, as well as have them ease off tactically so as not to get silly yellows and expend too much energy. If we win, then so be it.

First Team

* = change from Qatar match


20: Haghighi*
2: Fatemi
5: Mirmarsli
21: Al-Sultan*
7: Kaebi* (c)
12: Karimi*
6: Mahmoudi*
15: Alavi
19: Amraei*
9: Rezapour
18: Borhani

Safari, who has done well and scored a nice goal after a run against Qatar, is out for the tournament.

With 6 of the 19 outfield players injured or unfit, a completely weakened side isn't possible, hence Rezapour and Alavi staying in, and 3 strikers being played.

So watch Rezapour get injured now.

(9th) China 0 - 2 Iran (44th)
Rezapour was injured on cue in only 15 minutes. Rather than risk Yanpi, I replace him with the centre-back Mirtoroghi, who then scores his first ever Iran goal a few minutes later. We beat China easily despite just knocking the ball around and standing off them. I also changed keepers on the hour, and at 36 years old Mirzapour breaks the record for oldest player to play in the Asian Cup by nearly 2 years.

Rezapour will be unavailable for at least the Australia game. Told you.

v Australia - 31/7/15 - Quarter-Finals

It's a repeat of the memorable quarter-final of last time in 2011, when we knocked out the hosts. But this time, we're the favourites, as long as the Aussies keep missing the target.

They could only draw with the hosts Macau 2-2, yet with one shot on target out of 11; they lost to Oman, with 3 shots on target out of 18; then qualified with minutes to go by beating Vietnam 2-1, with both shots being the only on target out of 9 attempts.

First Team

* = change from Qatar match


1: Mansouri
2: Fatemi
4: Mirtoroghi
5: Mirmarsli
7: Kaebi*
3: Al-Balawi
8: Moradi
15: Alavi
14: Akbari
10: Yanpi
19: Amraei*

(44th) Iran 0 - 2 Australia (25th)
We dominated the first half, but all the shots were going across goal or just wide, and the post was hit. In the end, half of their shots were on target. Amraei and Borhani leave the tournament with 0 goals.

This final match confirms I'll be leaving. If the strikers can't score against Australia, the World Cup would be no better.

I took them to the Asian Cup final and the Under-23s to the Olympics for the first time since 1976, then had our best ever World Cup performance. And at least in the end I beat the Chinese.

My contract expires and, while there's a huff about me leaving from the higher-ups, one day I may be back. Thankfully it's turned out well and I know I would certainly be welcomed back by the fans like the prodigal son.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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2014/15 Recap Part 1 - Club Football

Selected Summer Transfers
Gareth Bale - Arsenal to Liverpool - £23m
Cristian Benavente - Bayern Munich to Arsenal - £22m
Hamed Al-Bagawi - AC Milan to Arsenal - £20.5m
Aaron Lennon - Arsenal to Lazio - £18.75m
Toni Kroos - Bayern Munich to Basel - Loan (£1.5m loan fee)
Fred - Lyon to Aston Villa - Free
Goran Pandev - Lyon to Roma  - Free

Selected Winter Transfers
Daniele Dessena - Liverpool to Juventus - £27.5m
Abdellatif Zaza (25, Moroccan, MC/ML/AMC/AML) - Barcelona to Liverpool - £17.75m  + Javier Garrido
Emmanuel Guichard (21, French, ST) - AC Milan to Liverpool - £13.75m + Francisco Merida
Martin Gale (21, English, DM/MC) - Werder Bremen to Barcelona - £15.75m
Josef Angerschmid (25, Austrian, ML/AML) - Juventus to Arsenal - £15.5m

2014 Awards

Newcastle United's Nigerian striker Obafemi Martins was named World Player of the Year. Manchester United's attacker Kevin Doyle, after helping Republic of Ireland to the World Cup final, was 2nd place. Fred, now at Aston Villa, was 3rd.

Argentina's star striker, Chelsea's Italo Bini, was Ballon d'Or European Footballer of the Year. Fred and his Villa striker partner, and previous World Player of the Year, Luke Moore were 2nd and 3rd.

European Cups

Mexican striker Claudio Gamboa scored twice as Inter Milan beat Bayern Munich 2-0, despite only 1 shot on target, to become the first team to successfully defend a Champions League, and win their third in 4 years.

Steve McClaren's well assembled Newcastle United team, consisting of the likes of Martins, Walcott, Juan Mata, Gago, Lucas and Given nearly made the final, but lost a lead to Inter in the second leg of their semi-final.

Aston Villa's debut saw them top their group before being knocked out by eventual winners Inter.

Arsenal needed penalties to beat Werder Bremen in the UEFA Cup final.


Premier League

Roy Keane replaced Sir Alex Ferguson in 2008 and it's been a long up-and-down journey, but the characteristic long-term faith has paid off as Manchester United lifted the 2015 Premier League trophy after 8 years of waiting.

Newcastle United challenged again this season but had to make do with finishing just behind in 2nd once more.

Mike Newell took yo-yo club West Brom from the Championship to 6th in the Premier League, and thus Europe, in just over 2 years.

Neutrals rejoiced as Arsenal, despite topping the table for the first half of the season under new boss Michael Laudrup, fell away and finished in the same position they did last year: 5th.

Mark Hughes was sensationally sacked by Blackburn Rovers after a decade as they flirted with relegation, and despite in the past few years being taken to the heights of finishing 6th then 5th then 4th, a Champions League semi-final and winning a UEFA Cup. His eventual replacement, Dave Jones, who helped relegate Everton, avoided relegation by one place and 3 points.

Middlesbrough sacked Paul Jewell after relegation from the Premier League, and incredibly were able to replace him with Benfica manager Juande Ramos, who had won the UEFA Cup and league double just a year ago.

After 60 years in the Premier League, Everton were relegated bottom of the Premier League. Paul Ince was unable to save them.

F.A. Cup

Man Utd won the double by beating Newcastle 2-0.

Football League and Non-League

Ex-long time New Zealand manager Ricki Herbert took charge of QPR. Had he arrived a match or two earlier, they probably would've avoided relegation from the Championship.

Kit Symons' 13 years at Crystal Palace in various roles ended when he was sacked and replaced with Sam Allardyce.

Jim Magilton left Accrington Stanley to become the latest English manager to manage in the MLS, taking charge of New England, who were champions in 2013.

Les Ferdinand was sacked by Charlton Athletic after a poor start in League One, 5 years of no improvement and getting them relegated from the Championship.


The reign of terror is over!

Inter Milan's streak of 7 titles in a row was finally ended, naturally by AC Milan who, under new manager José Manuel de la Torre, and thanks to Kaka's 100th goal for the club, finished top on equal points but had a superior head-to-head record.


Feyenoord finally won their first title since 1999, eventually by 11 points.

PSV manager Henning Berg left at the end of the season to take over Palermo, and he was replaced by former Feyenoord manager Erwin Koeman, the brother of PSV's former Champions League-winning manager Ronald.

Other News

Despite winning 2 leagues titles, 2 Copa Libertadores and 1 Copa Sudamericana in 6 years, including a league title last season and a Copa Libertadores the season before, Diego Simeone was sacked by Racing Club.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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2014/15 Recap Part 2 - International Football

2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup

Champions League winner Claudio Gamboa added to his Champions League final exploits by scoring in another final, as Mexico successfully defended their Gold Cup with a 1-0 win over U.S.A. The Americans had no shots whatsoever.

Paraguay 2015 Copa América

U.S.A. became the first team outside South America to win the Copa América, after being a few minutes from going out at the group stage. Draws with World champions Argentina (thanks in part to a red card), 3rd best team in the world Chile, and great rivals Mexico were ultimately enough to get through to the knockouts. And in the final they destroyed fellow surprise-finalists Uruguay 3-0, despite playing the whole match with 10 men, thanks in no small part to goalkeeper Brad Guzan (who replaced Ray Burse Jr. after the group stage due to his conceding of 6 goals in 3 matches).

Brazil's tournament is probably their lowest moment in history. A 3-1 loss to Colombia was followed by a 2-0 loss to Ecuador, who also missed a penalty. They needed to beat Bolivia by 2 goals, but they went behind, equalised, Alexandre Pato missed a penalty, and they only won 2-1 after Bolivia had a man sent off and Pato made amends. They were knocked out bottom of their group, below those three powerhouses. Baltemar Brito was of course sacked, and replaced with Renato Gaúcho.

The worst team in South America, Venezuela, achieved their best ever finish of 4th place, after opening with a win against the hosts.

It took extra time and a Lionel Messi winner for the best team in the world, Argentina, to beat them in the 3rd place playoff. Their manager moved on and Gerardo Martino returned despite an unspectacular 2010 World Cup campaign when he was last in charge.

Bolivia also reached a new best by reaching the quarter-finals, thanks to a win over Ecuador.

The hosts Paraguay went out at the group stage, losing to Venezuela and Peru, yet beating finalists Uruguay 2-0.

Macau 2015 Asian Cup

South Korea edged ahead as the most time winners of the competition, one ahead of Iran, Japan and Saudi Arabia. They gained their fourth trophy thanks to a routine 2-0 win over defending champions China, taking a two-goal lead after only 7 minutes and handing China their first 90-minute loss in an Asian Cup for a decade.

It was a tournament that saw the fallen powerhouses mostly return to their pedestals: South Korea won it, Japan made the semis, and they along with Saudi Arabia all finished on 6 points in their group of death, so one had to go early.

Australia got some revenge for 4 years earlier with a 2-0 reverse against previous runner-up Iran. The Iranian manager did not renew his contract.

Hosts and minnows Macau shocked everyone, reaching the quarter-finals and keeping a clean sheet in 3 out of 4 games. They drew with Australia after twice taking the lead, then with Vietnam, then destroyed Oman 4-0 to top their group. China needed a penalty shoot-out to beat them, and only after 3 Macau players went off injured and missed 4 of their 5 penalties.

United Arab Emirates were unlucky to go out. After 3 wins in the group stage that saw them score 11 goals, they were knocked out by the eventual winners after a last minute equaliser was followed by an extra time own goal to go from 1-0 up to 2-1 down.

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August 2015 - A Step Up

Whatever my next job would be, another Asian country was out of the question. I don't think I would be forgiven for that.

But even before my contract was completely up, I was contacted/tapped up by a couple of football assocations. The Copa América was going on about the same time as the Asian Cup, and firings meant opportunity. One country in particular were keen.

"We were impressed with your team when we came to Iran for the friendly. You obviously did a very good job there, Meester. We feel you and Chile are a good match, yes?"


Chile have officially unveiled GIT2THACHOPPA as their new manager, becoming their first foreign manager since 1994.
Mr Thachoppa had previously been manager of Iran, taking them to an Asian Cup final and their best ever World Cup performance by drawing with France and beating Scotland in the group stage.
England fans will never forget Chile as the team that knocked them out at the 2014 World Cup group stage by the drawing of lots.
The new manager is tasked with taking the World Cup semi-finalists to Uruguay in 2018, in an already competitive qualifying group where this time only 3 nations can automatically qualify, while 4th place must enter a playoff.


Reasons For Choosing

I had wanted a return to a club job, but when a major country with great talent wants to throw money at you, you listen.

So my choice was a probably relatively obscure club with inferior players or, for a lot more money (and a lot more risk of failure), I could go to yet another beautiful country, the prosperous Chile, and take charge of great talent and well known names (indeed, a golden generation), while clashing with the likes of Brazil and world champions Argentina, and actually having a shot at beating them.

I would've made £30,000 a week with Iran, but with Chile it'll be closer to £20,000, so it can't be said that I left them for the money.

Real Life History (up to 2006) and Game History (from 2006)

Chile is one of the four founding members of CONMEBOL (with Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay) and competed in the inaugural World Cup of 1930. Since then, they've competed in 9 of the 20 World Cups. They reached third in 1962, when they hosted the tournament, but since then had failed to even win a game until 2014.

In 2014, a late goal against England saw Chile get out the group stage at the expense of England after a drawing of lots, and they went on to finish third, though without beating a major team. They have never won the Copa América, though but were runner-up in 2011.

I am their second ever English manager, after Frank Powell in the 1928 Olympics. I'm their first foreign manager since Mirko Jozic in 1994.


The Estadio Nacional Julio Martínez Prádanos, with a capacity for 67,765.

As well as being the national stadium, it was infamously used as a torture chamber by the Pinochet regime after the American-backed coup d'etat of 1973. There is a lot of emotion attacked to the stadium.


Peru - The Clásico del Pacífico (Pacific Derby) is a fierce rivalry borne from history, politics, the War of the Pacific and even the claim of who invented the bicycle kick. Chile have the better record (and won the war).

Argentina - A not-so-intense rivalry simply borne from the amount of times they've played each other. They are Chile's most regular opponent, but Chile have only won 7 of their 89 matches.


The recently retired Pablo Contreras has the most appearances with 80, though Mark Gonzalez is currently on 71 and Luis Jimenez on 66. Long term, Matías Fernández (58), Alexis Sánchez (57) and Arturo Vidal (51) are most likely to break that record.

Marcelo Salas is the record goalscorer with 35 goals in 64 appearances. No one is close to breaking it, only one player even has a third of that number.



Espanyol's Claudio Bravo is still #1 at 32 years old, but River Plate's Carlos Puelle is a clear successor, debuting at 18 in the 2011 Copa America against Argentina. Chile are blessed with good depth in decent keepers, but these two are by far the best.


Familiar names include captain Arturo Vidal (who plays in Mexico), Crystal Palace's Waldo Ponce, and Espanyol's Gary Medel. There are a few others playing in the major European leagues.


An array of talent include Lazio's Alexis Sánchez, Chelsea's Matías Fernández, Freiberg's Nicolás Millán, Arsenal's Mark 'Speedy' González, Espanyol's Luis Jiménez, Lille's Sebastián Zúniga and Pachuca's Jorge Valdivia. But all are suffering varying form, and the key to achieving a run like the one in 2014 will be getting them all in their most effective positions. Additionally, several players are or will be 30 or over by the time of the World Cup.


I bring my assistant manager with Iran, Henk ten Cate, with me to Chile. He'll also be in charge of the Under-23 Olympic team, I'm sure he's itching to manage.

The rest of the team are Chilean, including 36-year-old former international Sebastián 'Chamagol' González.


The next 3 years will be about the 2018 World Cup, which is in Uruguay.

Therefore 9 teams are playing for 3.5 spots. Last time, Uruguay weren't a contender, but perhaps their run to the final of the Copa América this year says it's good that they're out of the equation this time. Argentina will be expected to take top spot. Brazil may be at their lowest ever point, but they and Chile will be favourites to take the other two spots, leaving Colombia and Peru close behind trying to get a playoff spot, if not automatic qualification.

The first fixture is one of the easiest: at home to Bolivia. Then a few days later: at home to the world champions Argentina.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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Chile - 2015/16 (2018 World Cup Qualifiers)

South America's qualifying is competitive enough, usually but now there is only 3.5 spots for 9 teams due to Uruguay being hosts.

I get to see the squad first-hand and, as well as the clear increase in quality, it is a very different dynamic to previous teams I have managed. In these parts, players play in several positions, and it'd be more accurate to just call them 'defenders' and 'attackers'.

First Squad

Claudio Bravo - GK - 32, Espanyol, 60 caps
Carloe Puelle - GK - 22, River Plate, 13 caps
Carlos Lemus - GK - 26, RBC Roosendaal, 2 caps

Arturo Vidal - SW/DC/DMC/MC/ML - 28, Atlas (Mexico), 51 caps
Gary Medel - DC/DR/DM/MC - 28, Espanyol, 24 caps
Julio Munoz - DL - 25, Feyenoord, 11 caps
Oscar Miranda - DC - 24, Manchester United, 22 caps
Waldo Ponce - SW/DC - 32, Crystal Palace (English Championship), 62 caps
Cristián Abarca - ML/DL/WBL/SW/DC - 26, Reggina, 28 caps
Leandro Delgado - DC/SW/DR - 33, Genclerbirligi, 14 caps
Bastián Arce - DC - 26, Heracles, 1 caps
René Lara - DM/MC - 20, Universidad Católica, uncapped
Luis Mena - DC/SW/DM/MC - 36, Colo Colo (Chile), uncapped

Alexis Sánchez - ST/AMR/AML - 26, Lazio, 11 goals in 57 caps
Mark González - ML/AML - 31, Arsenal, 9 goals in 71 caps
Jorge Valdivia - AMC/MC - 31, Pachuca (Mexico), 2 goals in 40 caps
Eduardo Rubio - ST/AMR/AML - 31, Chievo, 12 goals in 42 caps
Luis Jiménez - AMC/MC/MR/AMR/ST - 31, Espanyol, 8 goals in 66 caps
Matías Fernández - AMC - 29, Chelsea, 7 goals in 58 caps
Cristóbal Chávez - ST - 26, Borussia Dortmund, 3 goals in 8 caps
Carlos Mansilla - ST - 24, Bayer Leverkusen, 2 goals in 12 caps
Héctor Núnez - ST - 24, Ajax, 3 goals in 17 caps
Sebastián Zúniga - ST/AMC - 25, Lille, 6 caps
Juan Pablo Viveros - WBL/ML/AML - 20, Heerenveen, 4 caps
Walter Quinteros - MC - 25, Pumas (Mexico), 1 cap
Sebastián Varas - AMC/ST - 22, Sao Paulo, uncapped

Nicolás Millán was unavailable due to injury.

The biggest news is the call-up of an uncapped 36-year-old, but the one-club man has been performing consistently since the start of his career.

The team may have got to 3rd place in the World Cup, but they only beat one team in 90 minutes and were usually the lesser side. The form of the attackers in club level is sketchy, and as you can see by the international record their goal rate is awful. It feels like this is a team that could play to scary potential if everyone is utilised properly and on form. Unfortunately the next tournament, the World Cup, is in 3 years and a lot of these players will be over 30.

World Cup Qualifiers - September 2015

Bolivia are one of the worst teams in qualifying and haven't scored as an away team in exactly 6 years. They're also without one of their star players. They will be playing for a 0-0 draw.

First Team


GK: Puelle
DR: Medel
DC: Vidal (c)
DC: Miranda
DL: Abarca
MC: Quinteros
AMR: Rubio
AMC: Jiménez
AML: Viveros
ST: Mansilla
ST: Varas

With fitness in mind, and a game against Argentina in a few days, I play close to a full strength line-up but am able to drop the likes of speedy Gonzaléz and Fernández to the bench, while Alexis Sánchez and Valdivia get a day off.

My most noteworthy call is playing Abarca at left-back instead of Munoz. He is in inferior form, but is one of the greatest free-kick takers in the world and we can expect a lot of set-pieces in this match.

The goalkeeper Puelle gets more match experience, as years of being eased in to eventually replace Claudio Bravo continues under my management.

(30th) Chile 3 - 1 Bolivia (75th)
It only took them 10 minutes to score, their debuting starlet easily going past Manchester United's Miranda for a free shot. However 2 headers from free kicks and a penalty changed it around.

With a player injured after only 4 minutes, I'm able to call up Nicolás Millán.


Argentina are the defending World champions.

I'm faced with a conundrum. Returning manager Gerardo Martino played a tricky formation in his first match: a 4-3-1-2, with the strikers moving wide to allow Messi to go forward. I decide it's too risky to ignore. So, rather than play my best 11 players, I'll play a formation to combat it, as well as to make sure we have defensive numbers against a strong attacking force.

First Team
* = change from last game


GK: Bravo*
DC: Vidal (c)
DC: Miranda
DC: Arce*
WBR: Medel
WBL: Munoz*
MC: Lara*
MC: Quinteros
AMC: Fernández*
ST: Mansilla
ST: Rubio

If the formation is played, my flat 3 centre-backs will deal zonally with the two strikers and Messi, wing-backs will attack the space wide as well as provide defensive cover, the two central midfielders will support, while there will be an attacking midfielder either making use of space in front of the defenders, or forcing one or more of their 3 central midfielders into his own half to mark him.

This means big names like Mark González, Luis Jiménez and Alexis Sánchez don't even make the bench, while young Lara will make his debut and uncapped 36-year-old Mena is on the bench as his cover.

(30th) Chile 0 - 0 Argentina (1st)
Martino played exactly the formation anticipated. Both sides had a couple of scares, but our defence did their job. With an injury to striker Rubio after 23 minutes, I brought on Zúniga as an attacking midfielder and he cut through their defence with his incredible dribbling ability. Had he been more of a finisher, we would've been 1-0 or 2-0 ahead quickly. A good point.

Friendlies - October and November 2015

I use the same approach with friendlies as before: picking second-string sides to try out new players.

(18th) Chile 2 - 0 Jamaica (98th)
An experimental mostly second-string side strolled to victory after a goal in 12 seconds. The beast (20 Strength, 20 Jumping, 20 Balance, 20 Heading) Nicolás Canales, making his debut at 30, came on and headed in a corner.

(181st) Cuba 1 - 3 Chile (21st)

World Cup Qualifiers - November 2015

I'm still trying to find the formation, or if there will even be a set one as the players are so fluid.

(14th) Colombia 3 - 1 Chile (23rd)

(12th) Peru 4 - 0 Chile (23rd)
We had 14 shots, 3 on target.

Not a good end to the year against fierce rivals.

Clearly 3 centre-backs is required, because players like Falcao and Andrade just seem to run around them as they watch.


Henk ten Cate didn't pick up a point with the Under-23 Olympic team in Olympic qualifying, but Chile's youth are poor and the team lost to all better sides.


World Cup Qualifiers - April and June 2016

Now that I'm settled in, some big names are dropped for the next squad.

After the Colombia and Peru games, I make sure not to fall for the England approach of calling up out-of-form big names.

Claudio Bravo is suddenly in relegation form this season. I kept faith in him for Colombia, but he was dropped for Peru. Now he doesn't even make the squad; his time may be over.

Matías Fernández and Luis Jimenez are also dropped, due to not playing in their clubs' first team nor setting the world alight.

After trying 4-2-3-1 (Colombia) and 4-4-2 diamond (Peru), I'm trying a 3-4-3 with the front two going wide to allow the attacking midfielder in the hole to go forward. Most of the strikers play wide as well, so perhaps this is a suitable tactic for the team.

(28th) Chile 0 - 0 Brazil (11th)
Getting a point against Brazil is no bad thing, but they were there for the taking so I would've liked a win, or at least a shot on target...

(24th) Chile 2 - 0 Venezuela (93rd)
An easy win, but the team still aren't clicking.

Current standings

Argentina - 14
Peru - 13
Brazil - 12
Bolivia - 11*
Colombia - 9*
Chile - 8
Paraguay - 4
Ecuador - 3
Venezuela - 3

*Have played one game extra

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2015/16 Review Part 1 - Club Football

Selected Summer Transfers
Sasa Andjic (23, Montenegrin, DC) - Bayern Munich to Manchester United - £19m
Paul Smith (24, American, ST) - Hertha Berlin to Koln - £17m
Denny Amin (25, Indonesian, MR/AMR) - Blackburn Rovers to Liverpool - £16.75m
Rafinha - Newcastle United to AC Milan - £13m
Giovanni dos Santos - Fiorentina to AC Milan - Free

Selected Winter Transfers
Josef Angerschmid (26, Austrian, AML/ML) - Arsenal to Inter Milan - £33.5m
Kevin Brown (22, Scottish, AMR/MR) - Arsenal to Inter Milan - £32.5m
Cristian Benavente - Arsenal to Lazio - £25.5m
Eid Youssef (27, Egyptian, ST) - Blackburn Rovers to Aston Villa - £23m
Emmanuel Guichard (22, French, ST) - Liverpool to Bayern Munich - £21.5m

2015 Awards

Barcelona's French striker Mathieu Henry won FIFA World Player of the Year. Last year's winner, Newcastle United's Obafemi Martins, and fellow striker Inter Milan's Claudio Gamboa were 2nd and 3rd.

Chelsea's Argentine striker Italo Bini won the Ballon d'Or European Football of the Year for the second year in a row. Fellow Argentine Gonzalo Higuaín, of Real Madrid, and Manchester United's Kevin Doyle were 2nd and 3rd.

European Cups

Last year's Champions League runner-up Bayern Munich didn't have to play away from home in this year's final, and beat surprise finalists Benfica 1-0 with a winner in the first minute to allow David Moyes to lift the biggest club trophy in football.

Regular winners Inter Milan only reached the quarter-finals this time, being knocked out 6-4 by Bayern Munich.

Liverpool failed to even make the group stage, being knocked out by Brondby after a 3-0 loss away.

Roma beat FC Koln 3-1 in the UEFA Cup final.

West Bromwich Albion's return to European football ended in the quarter-finals, losing 3-2 to the eventual winners.


Premier League

Obafemi Martins topped the scoring and assist charts as Newcastle United not only ended their 89-year wait for a top division title, but won it with 5 games to spare, never leaving top spot after the 14th game. Steve McClaren's work and the club's gradual rise made it almost inevitable.

Michael Laudrup's Arsenal improved and finished best of the rest in 2nd, 10 points behind Newcastle.

In his first full season, former Manchester City managing legend Stuart Pearce took relegation-threatened Coventry City to 6th and into the UEFA Cup.

Jose Mourinho returned to Chelsea for the new season, after taking a year out after being sacked by Juventus. He took the team that finished 3rd down to 7th with 13 points less than last season.

Defending champions Manchester United and Roy Keane finished way back in 8th, 22 points behind Newcastle.

F.A. Cup

Pearce also won silverware in just his first year, as the cup specialists finally landed the big one as Coventry beat West Brom 1-0 in a dire final.

Football League and Non-League

Crystal Palace sank to the bottom of the Championship under Sam Allardyce. He didn't even last a year in the job and was replaced by Chris Waddle, who had recently taken Sheffield Wednesday into the Premier League. He had no chance of saving Palace from relegation this season though. Their first time in the third tier for 4 decades.

Yeovil Town and Aldershot Town reached the Championship for the first time, winning the League One title under Phil Parkinson and playoffs under Tony Mowbray respectively.

Ricki Herbert was sacked at QPR. Joining them midway through last season, he couldn't stop them being relegated from the Championship, but this season he had taken them to the relegation area of League One. He was replaced with Les Ferdinand, who led them to safety.


Toulouse won their first Ligue 1 title.

Usual winners Lyon didn't even finish in the Champions League places under new manager Claude Puel.

The Coupe de France put the F.A. Cup to shame: only one Ligue 1 side reached the semi-finals with two second-tier side and one third-tier side. Ligue 2 side Séte, who beat new champions Toulouse on the way to the final, won it after beating Reims 2-1.


AC Milan proved it wasn't a fluke by retaining their Serie A title.

Inter Milan only lost 2 games, but they drew 18 and won 18, so finished 5 points behind in 2nd.


Craig Levein's Hearts broke Celtic's 5-title winning streak, just like they broke the Old Firm's dominance 6 years ago, with relative ease.

This  despite the arrival of former Celtic player John Collins as the Bhoys' new manager.

The Big 4 remained, with Hibs and Rangers taking 3rd and 4th.

George Burley's Hibs won their first Scottish Cup in 114 years, beating Kilmarnock 1-0.

Other News

Louis Saha has started his managerial career, taking charge of... Galway United in Republic of Ireland.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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Newcastle winning the Premier League... under Steve McClaren... in the 2015/2016 season?! We really have gone so far down the rabbit hole, haven't we? :lol:

And is Mathieu Henry any relation to a certain Thierry? :D

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2 hours ago, CFuller said:

Newcastle winning the Premier League... under Steve McClaren... in the 2015/2016 season?! We really have gone so far down the rabbit hole, haven't we? :lol:

And is Mathieu Henry any relation to a certain Thierry? :D

All I saw was '10 points in front of Arsenal' ;)

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2015/16 Review Part 2 - International Football

Senegal 2016 African Cup of Nations

A 1-0 win over Cameroon meant Ivory Coast won their 4th Cup in the last 5, and now tie with Egypt as most times winners (with 5 overall). Ulrich Stielike has won all 4, and been in charge for a decade now, an incredible record.

After reaching the World Cup 2 years ago, Guinea went all the way to the semi-finals.

Having a pedigree of reaching the good end of the knockouts, and with a second round appearance in the 2014 World Cup, hosts Senegal expected more than a group stage exit on goal difference.

Papua New Guinea 2016 OFC Nations Cup

New Zealand also won their 4th trophy in the last 5, beating Tahiti in the final 5-0 on aggregate.

Norway 2016 European Championship Qualifiers

Group A
Switzerland - 21
Ukraine - 19
Israel - 18
Northern Ireland - 16
Kazakhstan - 9
Andorra - 0

Group B
Netherlands - 23
Bulgaria - 20
Slovakia - 15
Latvia - 14
Estonia - 11
San Marino - 1

Group C
Finland - 17
Russia - 16
Albania - 15
Spain - 7
Moldova - 1

A last-minute winner in the final match against Albania saw Finland make their Euro debut 2 years after their World Cup debut.

Pako Ayesterán took Spain to even lower depths and they were out of contention, and him out of a job, with 2 games to spare.

Group D
France - 18
Republic of Ireland - 17
Scotland - 11
Iceland - 9
Liechtenstein - 0

Group E
England - 20
Georgia - 14
Slovenia - 11
Turkey - 8
Azerbaijan - 2

Like Spain, Turkey also suffered a hangover from a poor World Cup. After two Euro semis in a row, they failed to qualify.

After 6 years, Azerbaijan finally kept a clean sheet. Then they kept another one in the next match!

Group F
Romania - 18
Poland - 13*
Italy - 13*
Macedonia - 6
Faroe Islands - 2
*Head to head: Poland 1 - 0 Italy

Once more, Italy failed to qualify for a European Championship after a good World Cup performance.

Group G
Denmark - 17
Germany - 16
Belgium - 14
Lithuania - 7
Cyprus - 2

Group H
Greece - 16
Portugal - 14
Bosnia & Herzegovina - 11
Austria - 9
Malta - 4

Group I
Belarus - 15
Serbia - 13* (+7 GD)
Sweden - 13* (+3 GD)
Hungary - 11
Armenia - 1
(Head-to-Head: Serbia 3 - 3 Sweden, H2H away goals: Serbia 3 - 3 Sweden)

Group J
Wales - 18
Montenegro - 13*
Czech Republic - 13*
Croatia - 9
Luxembourg - 2
(Head-to-head: Montenegro 3 - 3 Czech Republic, H2H away goals: Montenegro 3 - 0 Czech Republic)

Playoffs (aggregate)

Bulgaria 1 - 1 Georgia (Bulgaria win 3-0 on penalties)
Germany 3 - 2 Russia
Montenegro 2 - 1 Republic of Ireland
Poland 2 - 1 Ukraine
Portugal 2 - 2 Serbia (Serbia win on away goals)

World Cup runner-up Republic of Ireland and Euro 2012 runner-up Ukraine won't be in Norway next year.

Portugal's dark period continues: they haven't qualified for a Euro since 2004.

But Serbia and Montenegro will play in their first ever tournament as individual nations.

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Euro 2016 in Norway


Keep an eye on:

- The hosts, Norway, who reached the World Cup final in 2010, though failed to qualify for any tournament since.

- Group A, which contains 3 big contenders, including the defending champions Germany. Also, England v Germany as the last game.

- The knockouts, which could see Serbia face Montenegro for the first time in a tournament. They have previously faced each other in qualifying, with a win each and an aggregate score of 2-2.

Group A
England - Euro 2008 runner-up
Germany - Euro 2012 winners
Netherlands - Euro 2008 winners, 2014 WC semi-finalists

Group B
Belarus - Euro debut
Montenegro - Tournament debut

Group C
Finland - Euro debut
Norway - Hosts, 2010 WC runner-up

Group D
Bulgaria - Euro 2012 semi-finalists
Serbia - Tournament debut

Match Days 1 & 2

Group A

Netherlands 1 - 0 England
An incredible display by the Dutch centre-backs and goalkeeper earned the Dutch 3 points.

Denmark 1 - 1 Germany
A sensational Danish free kick from the flank curled in (was it a shot or cross?), but an own goal in the last minute denied the Danes a huge win.

Germany 1 - 1 Netherlands

England 2 -2 Denmark

Group B

France 0 - 0 Montenegro
2 injuries and a sending off didn't stop Montenegro getting a point against perennial underachievers France.

Greece 0 - 0 Belarus

Belarus 0 - 0 France

Montenegro 2 - 1 Greece
Montenegro get their first ever tournament win.

Group C

Norway 2 - 0 Wales

Finland 0 - 0 Poland

Norway 1 - 0 Finland
The hosts are the first team to reach the knockout stage.

Poland 2 - 1 Wales
Poland scored a sickening winner late on, just minutes after Wales' David Jones was sent off for a second yellow, which knocks Wales out.

Group D

Romania 2 - 0 Switzerland
2 goals in the first 6 minutes gave Switzerland the worst start.

Serbia 0 - 0 Bulgaria

Switzerland 1 - 1 Bulgaria

Romania 1 - 3 Serbia
Serbia's first ever tournament win, in style.

Match Day 3

Key: Team - GF - GD - Pts

Group A

Netherlands - 2 - +1 - 4
Denmark - 3 - 0 - 2
Germany - 2 - 0 - 2
England - 2 - -1 - 1

Denmark v Netherlands
Germany v England

England need to beat Germany, Denmark need to better Germany's result, or match it but score more goals.

The two Schweinsteigers (no relation) combined to score in the space of 4 minutes for Germany, and it could've been one or two before that. But with Inter Milan's most expensive striker in your team, the £39m John Atkinson, you'll always get chances, and England's Atkinson finally got in an equaliser before half-time. Needing a win, England went behind again soon after half-time thanks to a Podolski curler. Aaron Lennon scored an 89th minute equaliser, but that was it.
Denmark dominated Netherlands, as much as one shot on target dominates two shots with 0 on target, but the match ended a goalless draw.
Therefore Netherlands, and Germany on goals scored, go through.

Group B

Montenegro - 2 - +1 - 4
Belarus - 0 - 0 - 2
France - 0 - 0 - 2
Greece - 1 - -1 - 1

France v Greece
Montenegro v Belarus

Montenegro just need to avoid defeat, but Belarus are out if they lose. The winner of France v Greece will go through if Belarus don't win.

Montenegro came from behind to beat Belarus 2-1 and top their group. After a fast start, Greece had a man sent off at 1-1, allowing France to take the win 2-1 and qualify for the knockouts.

Group C

Norway - 3 - +3 - 6
Poland - 2 - +1 - 4
Finland - 0 - -1 - 1
Wales - 1 - -3 - 0

Finland v Wales
Norway v Poland

Norway and Poland both go through with a draw. Finland need to beat Wales and hope Poland lose.

Playing against the hosts is hard enough, but to do it with a man sent off in the first half was asking for trouble. Poland went behind late in the second half but immediately equalised, ending the match 1-1. Wales beat Finland 1-0 anyway.

Group D

Serbia - 3 - +2 - 4
Romania - 3 - 0 - 3
Bulgaria - 1 - 0 - 2
Switzerland - 1 - -2 - 1

Bulgaria v Romania
Serbia v Switzerland

Switzerland and Bulgaria need to win, Serbia just a draw, Romania could still go out with a draw.

Bulgaria and Romania drew in a dull goalless match. Switzerland went two down in just over half an hour, but scored twice in three minutes before the hour. Real Madrid's Milan Stepanov scored just two minutes later to give Serbia the win and 1st place.

Final Group Standings

Group A

Netherlands - 5
Germany - 3 (0 GD, 4 GF)

Denmark - 3 (0 GD, 3 GF)
England - 2

Group B

Montenegro - 7
France - 5

Belarus - 2
Greece - 1

Group C

Norway - 7
Poland - 5

Wales - 3
Finland - 1

Group D

Serbia - 7
Romania - 4

Bulgaria - 3
Switzerland - 1


Netherlands 1 - 0 France
Wijnaldum scored another winner for Netherlands.

Poland 1 - 1 Serbia AET (1-1 FT) (1-3 on penalties)

Germany 2 - 0 Montenegro
No upsets as Germany efficiently dealt with the debutants.

Norway 0 - 2 Romania
The hosts go out with a whimper.


Netherlands 0 - 0 Serbia AET (5-4 on penalties)

Germany 2 - 1 Romania AET (1-1 FT)
A late equaliser wasn't enough as Germany asserted their authority and set up the final everyone wanted between the 2008 champions and 2012 champions, and great rivals in their own right.

Euro 2016 Final

Netherlands v Germany


It is a match between the 2012 and 2008 champions.

Netherlands were the 2008 champions.

Germany are the defending champions and aim to be the first country to ever retain the European Championships.

If you include West Germany, the Germans can win their 5th Euro. If you don't, whoever wins this will be the record winners with 3 trophies.


Both teams played each other in the group stage and it was an even 1-1.

Netherlands have only conceded one goal so far, beating England and France but needing penalties against Serbia.

Germany drew all their group matches, and only their match against Montenegro didn't see both teams score.


Germany have been managed by Jurgen Klopp for the past 6 years, winning Euro 2012.

Netherlands are managed by John Kila, who was in charge of the Under-19s from 2009 until 2012, when he replaced Louis Van Gaal, taking them to a Euro U19 semi-final before being knocked out by Germany U19s 4-0. He took Netherlands to the 2014 World Cup semi-finals.

Team News

Netherlands are without the injured Ryan Babel.

Germany are more weakened with 5 injuries, including to Volk who made 3 assists in their last 2 games.

Netherlands play 4-4-1-1: Huitema (Málaga); de Jong (c) (Fiorentina), Hendriks (Werder Bremen), de Geus (Recreativo),  Jansen (Inter Milan); de Guzman (Inter Milan), Wijnaldum (Juventus), Leferink (Juventus), Emanuelson (Manchester United); Aissati (Lazio); van der Ende (Inter Milan) - 7 Serie A, 2 La Liga, 1 Premier League, 1 Bundesliga

Germany play a narrow 4-4-2 diamond with wide strikers: Sievers (Inter Milan); Castro (Valencia), Gebhardt (Roma), Mertesacker (c) (Fiorentina), Krauss (Inter Milan); Tasci (Celta); Neitzel (Hertha Berlin), Rehm (Manchester United); B. Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich); Krause (Inter Milan), Kohler (Borussia Dortmund) - 5 Serie A, 3 Bundesliga, 2 La Liga, 1 Premier League

First Half

de Jong is injured early and replaced by new captain Barcelona's Heitinga.

Not for the first time in this tournament, Netherlands broke from a defensive clearance going straight in front of the striker van der Ende to finish. 1-0.

Half Time

Germany bring on Lahm for Tasci.

Second Half

In minutes, Hendriks' long range shot is deflected to double the lead.

Germany start pinging balls into the box and have several close chances, including a disallowed goal, but Netherlands and goalkeeper Huitema keep another clean sheet.

Final score: Netherlands 2 - 0 Germany


2016 European Champions




Player of the Tournament: Milan Stepanov (Serbia)
Golden Boot: Zeljko Zaric (Montenegro) - 3 goals (and 0 assists in 334 minutes)
Young Player of the Tournament: Cornel Ionescu (Romania)

Team of the Tournament:

--------------------------------------------- Huitema (Netherlands) ---------------------------------------------
------- Hendriks (Netherlands) --- de Geus (Netherlands) --- Stepanov (Serbia) ---------------
Ionescu (Romania) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- Sachinidis (Greece)
------------------------------ Mavuba (France) --------------- Nasri (France) --------------------------------
------------------------------------------- Wijnaldum (Netherlands) -------------------------------------------
----------------------------- Serban (Romania) ---------- T. Schweinsteiger (Germany) ---------------

Selected Managerial News

Jurgen Klopp stepped down as Germany manager after the final. Former international, one-club Werder Bremen player and Germany youth manager Dieter Eilts replaced him.

John Jensen stepped down after 8 years as Denmark manager, getting credible draws against the two finalists and England.

Peter Beardsley was sacked as England manager after an eventful 6 years that at least will provide constant replays and talking head comments on BBC 3's 'Most Mental Top Something Something England/Football Moments' programs.

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5-Year Recap: 2011-2016

See 2006-2011 5-year recap here: Link
- My Career
- The Bucket List
- Club Football
- International Football
- Notable Players
- Notable Managers

- Incredible Events You May Have Missed

My Career


After reaching the Asian Cup final for the first time since the golden era of the 1970s (in just my first year), the milestones kept coming with Iran: I managed the Under-23s to the London 2012 Olympics, again for the first time since the 70s. Then, after a routine World Cup qualification campaign, I led Iran to their best ever points haul, goals scored and goals conceded record at a World Cup, with 4 points, 3 scored and 3 conceded thanks to a draw with France and a 3-1 win over Scotland.

My reign ended with Australia getting revenge in the 2015 Asian Cup and knocking us out at the quarter-finals with their own 2-0 win.

Overall, life-changing experiences for me, which resulted in many happy memories and many happy Iranians.


After allowing my contract to expire (because Iran would likely have no decent strikers for the next World Cup), I planned on returning to the daily action of club football.

However, Chile approached me, a team that had last year finished 3rd at the World Cup. Despite the incredibly tough qualifying campaign ahead and having to follow on from an overachievement, I couldn't reject the huge step up in quality.

So far, a couple of bad away losses have coupled with good home results and performances, so qualification could go either way.

The Bucket list

Win something - Won Serie C2/A title with Varese in 2008.

Manage a club in one of the major nations - Achieved with Varese in Italy.

Manage in a large stadium - Achieved with Tunisia in my first match, a deciding World Cup qualifer. The 100,000-capacity Azadi in Tehran probably won't be beaten.

Manage Iran (my second nationality) - Arrived as a promising manager, left a bit of a legend.

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

Manage Manchester United - My club.

Manage Brighton & Hove Albion - My hometown club.

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

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

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

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

Manage a host nation

Manage Japan - I like Japan.

Manage in South Korea - There's this new Japanese immigration law that says only the international manager can be foreign. Yeah, that's it. So for club football, South Korea would be close enough!

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

Manage a stinking rich club

Get sacked - 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 - Achieved with Iran at the 2011 Asian Cup in Australia.

Experience a World Cup - Achieved with Iran at Spain 2014.

Experience an Olympics - Achieved with Iran U23s at London 2012.

Win every continent's international competition

Gain a famous friend - Met Frank Rijkaard after his Barcelona team asked to play a friendly at Varese

Become a millionaire - I have over a million now already, and if Chile qualify for the World Cup I'll have plenty more by the end of the contract.

Club Football

After the dominance of one club (or an elite few) in all the major leagues, the previous few years have seen the power shifting away in many countries. Arsenal have dropped since Wenger left, allowing Manchester United, Liverpool and Newcastle United to be crowned Premier League champions. Meanwhile, AC Milan have stopped Inter's run with 2 titles in a row now, PSV haven't won in a few years, Real Madrid have become Spain's new dominant force and, while Celtic continue to dominate the SPL, the Big 2 in Scotland has turned into a Big 4 including Hearts and Hibernian.

After Arsenal won arguably the greatest Champions League final in history to take their throne as the undisputed best over Inter Milan, the two clubs won all 5 of the trophies from 2011 to 2015. Wenger retiring in 2013 had seemingly left the way open for Inter to dominate the world, and they became the first team to successfully defend a Champions League, with the 2 biggest transfers in the following 2015/16 season involving Arsenal stars going to Inter. But AC Milan breaking their domestic streak and Bayern Munich winning the latest Champions League suggests it may not be that easy.

England's presence has waned a little, but they've still had at least one team in every semi-final in 4 of the past 5 years.

Champions League Winners
2012: Inter Milan
2013: Arsenal
2014: Inter Milan
2015: Inter Milan
2016: Bayern Munich

International Football

The quality of teams continued to even out,.

Following from Norway's giant-toppling run to the 2010 World Cup final (and all the other upsets that year), Ukraine made an appearance in the Euro 2012 final and Republic of Ireland in the 2014 World Cup final. However the big teams still win the major trophies, with Germany and Netherlands winning Euro 2012 and 2016 respectively, and Argentina winning the 2014 World Cup (as predicted all those years ago by their youth success across the board and attacking quality and depth).

Notable Players

Italo Bini - After being bought by AC Milan in 2010, he eventually burst on the scene in 2012/13 scoring 8 goals in 4+(1) Champions League matches, and 15 in 19 Serie A games. Chelsea got him on a free at the end of that season, and 2014 was a peak year as he scored 31 in 38 Premier League games after helping Argentina to the World Cup with a Golden Boot. He's still only 24.

Andrea Barzagli - In 9 years at AC Milan, it can be said he's only had one season that wasn't very good, and that was only his second season, and he only played half the games. Won the Golden Ball in the 2014 World Cup, at 33 years old.

Carlos Vela - The Mexican heir to Thierry Henry's throne, the Arsenal star had a goal record better than 1 in 1 internationally and nearly 1 in 1 in Europe, as well as banging them in domestically... until Wenger left. He's since been moved into midfield but, while his goal rate is down, his performances continue to be some of the best in the world.

Gonzalo Higuaín - Though yet to repeat the 1-in-1 record of 37 in 38 La Liga games of 2011, he continues to provide and score goals at a 1-in-1 rate for Real Madrid and Argentina.

Fernando Torres and Sergio Aguero - Atlético Madrid's Spaniard and Argentine enjoy strong goal and assist rates for club and country, so it's a shame Atlético Madrid's one-club man Torres only has one league title to show for it (in the season he scored 36 in 38 La Liga games and 10 in 7 Spain internationals). Aguero has a World Cup, Copa América and Olympic gold medal though.

Obafemi Martins - The regular African Player of the Year winner, and former World Player of the Year, has scored at least 20 league goals in all but one of the last 4 seasons, and has an incredible strike and assist rate in European and international football as well. 22 goals and 11 assists saw him finally lift the Premier League trophy for Newcastle United.

Claudio Gamboa - Inter Milan's striker has 31 goals in 29 internationals, and scored the winning goals for both Inter and Mexico in 2015's Champions League and CONCACAF Gold Cup finals. Last season, he scored 13 in 10 Champions League games.

Dave Hone - Consistently sensational performances for Coventry in the Premier League, and Republic of Ireland on the way to the World Cup final, make him one of the best defenders in the world. Yet he's only valued at £3.8m for a 25-year-old. If I was managing a big club, I'd be excited to sign such a bargain.

Milan Stepanov - Euro 2016's Player of the Tournament, Real Madrid's Serbian defender has improved even further in the last two years despite being 33.

Michael Mancienne - The English-born Seychelles international has consistently been the best player wherever he's gone, dominating in England's Championship (7.46 average rating), Ligue 1 (7.38), Eredivisie (7.41, 7.55) and Serie A (7.64 debut season, three 7.3 seasons).

Dirk Kuyt - Despite very unspectacular goal and assist returns for Liverpool, an average of better than 1 goal every 2 games for Netherlands hints at his notable knack to always score when the big games come around. When it's tournament time, he loves to score in as many games as possible, and has long earned his reputation of being a giant pain in the butt (though he didn't appear at Euro 2016).

Nicklas Bendtner - After leaving Arsenal for rivals Inter, he returned in 2012, scoring a healthy amount for club and country while reminding everyone he's played for both Inter and Arsenal.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic - The Inter Milan legend broke records, whether for goals or assists, and won trophies for fun. He once even played in goal for Sweden. There was nothing Zlatan couldn't do.

Notable Managers

Arsene Wenger - Retired an Arsenal legend after 9 Premier Leagues (6 in a row until his retirement) and 2 Champions Leagues.

Roberto Mancini - Arsene's Italian counterpart, Inter Milan's manager has won 8 Serie A titles (7 in a row) and 3 Champions Leagues (2 in a row) in 12 years. So far.

Steve McClaren - After taking England to the Euro 2008 final, he left in 2010 to join Newcastle United. They immediately went up to 3rd, and gradually made their way up until they won their first Premier League in 2016. He's also taken them to two Champions League semi-finals. Universally adored, especially by geordies.

Jurgen Klopp - In 9 years he took Mainz from near relegation to the third tier to 6th in the Bundesliga and Europe, before being audaciously sacked. After a year at Wolfsburg bringing them back to the top tier, he took over Germany, who had failed to qualify for Euro 2008 and only won one match at the 2010 World Cup. He immediately won Euro 2012 and nearly again in 2016, losing out in the final, close to becoming the only ever team to successfully defend a European Championship.

John Kila - He rose to prominence first in charge of the Netherlands Under-19s and taking them to a Euro U19 semi-final. He was promoted to head coach of the full team in 2012 and took Netherlands to the World Cup semi-final and won Euro 2016.

Ulrich Stielike - Although failed to qualify for a World Cup yet, his 10 years as Ivory Coast coach has seen them win 4 of the 5 African Cup of Nations campaigns he has overseen so far.

José Manuel de la Torre - After a couple of leagues with Ajax, he joined AC Milan in 2014. In his first season, he broke rivals Inter Milan's 7-title winning streak, then retained the title the next year.

David Moyes - After his spell with Everton and taking Preston North End to the Premier League, he spent two seasons at Celtic winning both SPL titles and reaching the Champions League final. He then moved to Bayern Munich, again winning the title in every season so far (3) and most impressively, in 2016, ending Inter Milan's dominance of Europe by beating them in the quarters and winning the Champions League.

Marcelino García Toral - Took over at Real Madrid after the disaster of Capello's run saw them no longer a top 2 side. All but one of his 6 seasons so far has seen Real win the title.

Mark Hughes - 10 years at Blackburn Rovers saw them climb up from 15th to 4th, as well as a UEFA Cup trophy and then a Champions League semi-final in their debut season.

Diego Simeone - Since joining Racing Club in 2008, in over 6 years, he won 4 league titles, a few other trophies, and most impressively two Copa Libertadores in a row, which was nearly 3 but for a lost final the next year. His ultimate reward for all this was the sack a few months later.

Glenn Hoddle - Not notable for success, but absolute disaster. Mr Relegation has relegated 3 of his last 4 clubs in his first half-seasons. His one near-miss came with Monaco, who had already been relegated last season, and he was 2 points from double-relegating them.

Incredible Events You May Have Missed

- The top 3 in Belgium finished on equal points, TWO SEASONS IN A ROW. The big guns Anderlecht overcame the two newly promoted surprise challengers on 'games won' first time, but failed to do it twice and FC Brussels won the league a year late on 'games won' and broke the Big 2 dominance.

- At the 2014 World Cup, England and Chile played each other in the final round of group games in a winner-takes-all match. But they drew. Level on points, goal difference and goals scored, lots had to be drawn to decide who reached the knockouts. Of course, England were eliminated as Chile's name was drawn.

- There was that time I made a Match of the Day intro for the Spain 2014 World Cup, did I mention that before?

Edited by git2thachoppa

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Chile - 2016/17 (2018 World Cup Qualifiers: Part 2)

September 2016

We next face Paraguay away. They hosted last year's Copa América but only got 3 points in the group stage. But it will be close.

(85th) Paraguay 2 - 2 Chile (33rd)
Another not-bad-result-that-should've-been-better. 1-0 up at half time from a set-piece own goal, I told them not to be complacent. We then conceded from a set piece, scored from a set piece, then eccentric young keeper Puelle ran away from his goal to catch a long, long cross which allowed the Paraguayan to tap it into an open goal.

October 2016

The tough fixtures keep coming, with a match in Ecuador followed by away to the best team in the world, Argentina, who are undefeated and only conceded 1 goal in 7 qualifiers. Any points will be good, though we need away wins.

Chile haven't lost in Ecuador in 12 years.

(72nd) Ecuador 1 - 0 Chile (35th)
So of course they win. A dominant destruction by Ecuador.

Argentina 5 - 1 Chile
We took the lead in the first half, but they scored 4 by half-time, Messi completing a hat-trick before the hour. The young #1, Puelle, was substituted after that, and no more goals were let in. Despite what he has been earmarked as, he is surely not our #1 right now.

November 2016


(57th) Morocco 2 - 0 Chile (35th)
An experimental side keep up the losing habit without a real threat of scoring. Man Utd's Miranda, supposedly Chile's most valuable centre-back, gets dribbled past for the goal for the umpteenth match, so must be dropped to the bench (or worse) from now on.


Next is a home game against Colombia. We were thrashed away last time.

Miranda doesn't even make the squad. The captain Vidal is injured.

Chile 0 - 0 Colombia
Our attack is toothless. Colombia had the only chances until injury forced them to change formation and allowed us more of the game, but they were under no real threat. Only 2 key passes from Chile in the entire game.

There are just no good attackers. There is a zillion names and a zillion positions they can play in, but their form is all so average. It doesn't matter what combination and what formation they're in and what tactics are used. They don't pass or shoot with any threat.

I'm aware of the irony of me leaving Iran because a lack of strikers for a a team that, on current form, has even worse strikers.

April 2017

We are away to overachieving second-placed Bolivia and at home to fierce rivals Peru. Every game in this region is a six-pointer, so a loss in either will put the odds against us.

Our campaign opener was at home to Bolivia, a 3-1 win thanks to set pieces after going behind. Since then, Bolivia have won all their home games except against Brazil, who they then beat away anyway. They are obviously a real surprise package that have shot up 60 places in the FIFA rankings in under a year. Chile's last journey to Bolivia was also a 3-1 win for Bolivia.

Zúniga, who is the only regular scorer in the European leagues this season, with 14 in 23 Ligue 1 games, is injured and unavailable.

But finally I'm able to drop keeper Puelle for the in-form and out-of-injury Toselli.

I'm making major changes and abandoning the idea of picking a balanced team built around the best few players. Now I'm picking the most in-form 11 and shoehorning them into some sort of formation. This is the result:


GK: Toselli - I had wanted to drop the supposed new #1 Puelle, but Toselli has always been injured. He finally earns his second cap.
SW: Escalona - Has established himself and seems to fit perfectly in the sweeper role.
DC: P. Munoz - The Leverkusen centre-back is going to Barcelona in the summer, so is as dependable as you'd expect.
DC: Vidal - The captain who can play anywhere in his own half.
DC: Arce - Better than his name suggests.
MC: Jiménez - Can play anywhere in midfield or attack really.
MC: P. Varas - Impressive in just 4 appearances.
AMC: Viveros - The young left winger is getting more goals than assists in the Netherlands.
AMC: González - The other left winger who still has the quality at 32.
ST: Carrasco - Earned his first 2 caps last year due to domestic form. Did nothing in those games, but has scored 10 goals in 9 in the Chilean league.
ST: Vidangossy - His attributes are poor, but he's scored 7 in 15(5) in Portugal. Can also play in midfield.

Bolivia 3 - 1 Chile
We took the lead through Viveros in 4 minutes, but that wasn't likely to last against the brilliant Bolivians. We were 2-1 down at half time. I made 3 changes on the hour, then one sub instantly got injured, leaving us with 10 men. It was 3-1 after that. Ultimately, only 1 shot on target, a total 5 shots to their 14.

Now we are at home to rivals Peru, who thrashed us in the first match. A loss will mean qualification is very unlikely. But they've conceded 8 goals and got 0 points in their last 3 away games.

A couple of changes are made, removing the poorer performers.

Chile 2 - 0 Peru
A first win in 7 matches, though it wasn't going that way. It was 0-0 and as pointless as ever at half time. A couple of subs came on in the hour, including the giant Canales (20s in strength, jumping, balance and heading) as a target man. A curler from Carrasco was followed by a penalty. The keeper Toselli was also man of the match.

We are 3 points behind the 3 teams above us, only 1 can fill the playoff spot, and 2 teams have a game in hand.

June 2017

The next match is away to Brazil. Their 1-0 loss to Bolivia was the first time they conceded at home.

Brazil 1 - 0 Chile
We equalised through Carrasco, but what would've been his second in two games was incorrectly ruled offside.

It was a decent performance, with much help from the goalkeeper, but 0 points.

Not only do we get 0 points due to that decision, but Brazil move further ahead and into the playoff spot. What should be a 3-point gap to the final qualification spot is now 6 points.

The results a few days later from the other teams were favourable, but are likely delaying the inevitable. We can feasibly win every game (2 home games and away to Venezuela), and the other teams not getting enough points is possible, if not likely. So I'm not fired yet.

A lack of a goalscorer has made the difference. The incorrect offside decision also, as Brazil now need only win at home to Venezuela to knock us out of contention, rather than needing 4 points against Argentina and in Paraguay on top of that had we drawn 1-1.

September 2017

Chile 1 - 0 Ecuador
Despite an injury to our Brock Lesnar of a target man, and then an injury to his substitute, we dominated. Though our goal, of course, only came from a deflection.

Brazil beat Venezuela, so qualification is impossible.

Current CONMEBOL Standings (2 games left to play)

Argentina - 30
Colombia - 25
Bolivia - 24*
Brazil - 23
Peru - 18
Ecuador - 18*
Chile - 16
Paraguay - 14
Venezuela - 7
*1 game left to play

My departure is amicable. I resign.

Failure to qualify was always a possibility, as it's an out-of-form and ageing squad that stumbled through previous tournaments (and of course got out of the World Cup groups by a drawing of lots). Had I been a top manager who could pick where to manage next, I would've turned it down.

We were unbeaten at home, but only picked up 1 point out of 21 away.

In the final two games under a new manager, they snatched a win at home to Paraguay with a last minute penalty, and laboured to a 1-0 win in Venezuela

At least I got money.

Bank Balance: £2.5m

Chile Competitive Record: P14 W4 D4 L6 F13 A20

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2016/17 Review Part 1 - Club Football

Selected Summer Transfers
Denis Martínez (26, Nicaraguan, ST) - Feyenoord to Arsenal - £28.5m
Kevin Bucic (25, Canadian, MC) - Gladbach to Chelsea £25.5m
Leven Kaladze (27, Georgian, DR/WBR) - Lazio to Inter Milan - £22.5m
Andrei Mihai (21, Romanian, MC) - Juventus to Werder Bremen - £19m
Steve Abbott - Manchester City to Newcastle United - £18.75m
Juan Alberto Gutiérrez (25, Peruvian, MC) - Ajax to Gladbach - £17.25m

Selected Winter Transfers
Nikos Kapetanos (23, Greek, ST) - Arsenal to Liverpool - £18.25m
Kostas Sachinidis (21, Greek, DL/DC/DR) - Manchester City to Inter Milan - £17m
Abdel Halim Ramadan (25, Egyptian, DL/ML/DC) - Portsmouth to Roma - £16m

2016 Awards

Arsenal's great Dane, striker Nicklas Bendtner, won the FIFA World Player of the Year award. Last year's winner, Barcelona's French striker Mathieu Henry, came second. There was an interesting one at third place: a River Plate player and Argentina international called Walter Abdala.

Legendary Newcastle United and Nigeria striker Obafemi Martins won his zillionth award, but his first Ballon d'Or European Footballer of the Year award at 32 years old. Fiorentina's young Mexican striker Alberto Campos and Barcelona's Bulgarian attacker Valeri Bojinov came 2nd and 3rd.

European Cups

It looks like we've left the Arsenal-Inter era, though the Gunners have recovered under Michael Laudrup and in his second season reached the final of the Champions League. But Arsenal were easily swept aside in Manchester 2-0 by AC Milan. They were undone by a dream double in the first 13 minutes from the young Serb called Jolovic, who has barely broken into the first team yet.

After replacing Mallorca-bound Alan Curbishley as manager of Sporting CP near the start of the season, Sammy Lee lead them to the UEFA Cup after a 1-0 win over Lille. (Yeah, you read that all right.)


Premier League

The Premier League staked a claim as the most exciting top league in the world. 1 point and 3 goals of goal difference separated reigning champions Newcastle United, former champions Manchester United and the former giants Arsenal on the final day.

Man Utd and Newcastle won their games easily, but Arsenal went behind. Carlos Vela equalised a few minutes after half time, and in the 87th minute he scored the dramatic winner that earned Arsenal their first title in 4 years.

Will it be the start of another 6 titles in a row? Let's pray not.

Despite being a sensational hiring last season, Juande Ramos lasted only until October in his second season at the newly promoted Middlesbrough. They replaced him with title-winning Porto manager Carlos Bracamontes, and they moved up the table through the rest of the season. They won the League Cup, and thus a UEFA Cup place, but not before keeping Arsenal to 0-0 over two legs in the semis, then winning the penalty shootout after 12 rounds of penalties.

Frank Lampard left his coaching job at Chelsea to step into management, taking charge of Preston North End. The relegation candidates stayed high up the table, though an end of season blip saw them finish in the lower half.

Ashley Cole retired after his second season at Portsmouth and took the manager's job at Championship side Cardiff City for next season.

F.A. Cup

Manchester United beat Bolton Wanderers 2-1.

Football League and Non-League

After two seasons in the Championship, Sammy McIlroy's Swansea City returned to the top division after 34 years by coming 2nd. Sammy retired at the end of the season, and will be replaced by Llanelli Town manager Gary Speed. He only has 2 years' experience, with the Welsh Premier League side, where he won 2 titles to extend their title streak to 11 in a row.

Sacked England manager Peter Beardsley joined Championship Wigan Athletic at the start of the season, but last year's Championship Playoff finalists missed out on the playoffs by 1 point this time.

Nigel Adkins' time at Scunthorpe United came to an end halfway through the season, just days after his 10-year anniversary in charge. This despite taking them to the Championship and being a playoff final win away from the Premier League a couple of years ago. Aidy Boothroyd didn't improve them and they were relegated to League One.

Charlton Athletic were relegated to the fourth tier for the first time ever. They were in the Premier League just 10 years ago, the Championship 3 years ago.

Alexander Hleb took his first step into management, taking charge of... League Two Colchester United.

Paul Merson was sacked as Rushden & Diamonds manager at the end of last season because he was unable to save them from relegation to the Conference in only 3 MONTHS. This season, the new manager lasted only 6 months. The club were not rewarded for their quick sackings.


An incredible finish to the season saw Dundee United, Celtic and Hibernian battle it out for the title. Dundee United faced Rangers knowing a win would see them lift the title, while Celtic hosted Hibs with both teams knowing a win would crown them champions... if Dundee United dropped points.

Dundee United did drop points with a 1-1 draw, but the other two contenders battled to the same scoreline, meaning Paul Sturrock's team smashed the Big 4, going from relegation from the SPL to top of the SPL in 3 years, and winning only their second ever title after 1983's success.


Real Madrid went top after 2 games and never left, winning their 5th title in a row, by 15 points.

Rivals Atlético have now finished 2nd for the 4th time in those 5 years, 7th time in 10 years, with just one title to their name in that time.

Barcelona suffered their lowest finish since 1942: 9th. Hristo Stoichkov has taken a 6-in-a-row title-winning club continuously down in his 7 years so far. It's incredible how Barcelona and Real have swapped around, from the title-streak with Rijkaard and disasterous Capello years to Marcelino's title streak with Real and the disasterous Stoichkov years. Just like Capello, there's no sign of Stoichkov getting sacked, and he's probably not retiring any time soon.

A special mention to third-tier Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, who beat Sevilla, Osasuna and Real Madrid all over two legs to reach the Copa del Rey semis.


After beating Inter Milan to win the Coppa Italia, the final day of Serie A saw Lazio try to win their first title in a decade, while Inter tried to regain their place at the top after their 7-title streak was broken two years ago.

Inter won their final match easily enough, so a draw in Naples would see Lazio win the title on goals scored. In the 80th minute, Lazio equalised after going a goal behind, but Napoli scored the winner barely 2 minutes later to hand Inter Milan the title back.


Luis Figo finally lost his first management job in football when Belenenses sacked him after nearly 8 years in charge. Masochistically, they hired Glenn Hoddle, the specialist at relegating teams halfway through the season. He was looking for relegation #4 (which could've happened with Genk, the team he left) but, miraculously, they survived by 1 point after their two rivals did just as bad or worse than them on the final day. There's always next season...

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2016/17 Review Part 2 - International Football

Uruguay 2017 Confederations Cup

The world champions Argentina beat European champions Netherlands thanks to a penalty.

The Confederations Cup usually provides some shock coaching exits, and this year was the same.

John Kila stepped down as Netherlands manager, despite a World Cup semi, winning Euro 2016, and topping their qualifying group with maximum points and no goals conceded. They did replace him, however, with the one and only Frank Rijkaard.

Ulrich Stielike finally left Ivory Coast after they finished 3rd with wins over Netherlands, Mexico and France, and after 4 out of 5 African Cup of Nations trophies won in his 11 years. With World Cup qualification looking difficult this year, he steps down without ever having qualified with his trophy-laden team.

South Korea pulled the trigger on their 2015 Asian Cup-winning manager, despite a win over Ivory Coast, a last-minute loss to Mexico and an understandable loss to Netherlands. With one game left in World Cup qualifying, they're bottom in a weak group of Macau, Lebanon and Jordan, but a win in Jordan would still see them get at least a playoff place.

Hosts Uruguay didn't make it out of the groups. They easily beat New Zealand, but were dominated by Argentina and France.New Zealand were utterly destroyed in all 3 group games, though playing two games with 10 men didn't help.

2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup

It was an exact repeat of last year, as Mexico beat USA 1-0 thanks once again to a Claudio Gamboa goal, to win their third straight Gold Cup.

Cuba scored their first Gold Cup goal in 6 years, and picked up their first point in 14 years, by beating Trinidad & Tobago 1-0 with a penalty.


Youth Football

Italy will be looking to become a power in a few years, as their youth sides won the Under-19 and Under-21 Euros.

Egypt U23s beat Germany U23s on penalties in the 2016 Olympics in Canada. Germany missed all 4 of their pens.

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January 2018 - Attracted By Young Boys

I had failed to qualify for the Uruguayan World Cup with Chile, and the next few months were spent getting more intriguing offers.

I got many international offers from the average countries, but I wanted a club job really. I'm not yet at the level for offers from most top-tier divisions, so I looked for second-tier clubs that could get promoted or clubs that could get into continental football in smaller leagues with good squads and some money.

After a few good second-tier offers with squads in need of major work, a rich Russian club with a gruelling lifestyle off the pitch, and a major Swedish club that would've required 5 months of pre-season waiting, I got a surprise offer.

BSC Young Boys

Reasons For Choosing

- Major top-division club
- Regularly qualify for Europe (or at least the qualifying stages, anyway)
- Not in debt
- Decent squad
- Nice location and comfortable living

Contract and Expectations

- £2,000 per week
- 1.5 seasons (expires July 2019)
- Keep the club financially stable
- Qualify for Europe

This means a top 4 or 5 finish in the league or winning the Swiss Cup.

Which is convenient, as Young Boys are in the semis (read that carefully) away to a team that have lost both games to us recently, and the final will be against a lower division side.

League and Cup

- Swiss Super League and Swiss Cup
- Super League is the top tier of Swiss football
- 10 teams play each other 4 times
- Top 2 enter the Champions League, 3rd is the UEFA Cup, 4th is the Intertoto Cup. The winner of the Swiss Cup enters the UEFA Cup
- Bottom team is relegated, 9th place has a relegation playoff
- Goal difference then goals scored are the tiebreakers
- Incredibly competitive below top spot; it's not abnormal to see a relatively big team get relegated for a year.

With exactly half the season gone, Young Boys are 7th, 14 points behind the leaders, 6 points behind 4th, 3 ahead of bottom.

Unsurprisingly, considering they've won the title in 17 of the last 20 seasons, it's Basel top of the table currently with a streak of 6 titles in a row (so far). The last time Basel won by less than 10 points was 5 years ago.

Swiss Hierarchy

Basel and Grasshopper have the financial stranglehold over the rest of the league and are the historical Big 2.

Basel are rich and seemingly spend whatever they want, Grasshopper are well off though choose to keep transfer spend balanced with profit, but we for example have a transfer budget of only just over a million and can't sign players on a quarter of the wages they pay.

Recently, Luzern have established themselves as the current #2, with Grasshopper #3.

Young Boys used to be the #2 club, finishing runner-up in 7 of the seasons from 2002 to 2013. Though they can claim to be the most successful Swiss club in Europe, reaching the European Cup semis in 1959.

Club History

Young Boys won all but one of their 11 titles before the 1960s, including 3 in a row in 1908 - 1910 and 4 in a row at the end of the 1950s. Their last title was in 1985.

They finished runner-up 7 times from 2002 to 2013 before shock relegation by one goal of goal difference in 2015. They were immediately promoted back up with ease and finished 4th last season, with 3rd to 5th decided by goal difference. It's a tight league!

They also last won the Swiss Cup in 1987, losing 2 finals in a row in 2006 and 2007.

Their most recent European run, in 2013/14, saw them lose in the last Champions League qualifying round 2-1 to Lille, but at last reach the main stages of the UEFA Cup, finishing 4th out of 5 in the UEFA Cup group stage thanks to a home win over Atalanta.


Stadion Neufeld

Capacity: 11,850 (2,950 seated)

It's a small stadium with a racing track around it.

Some would find it quaint, I think it's a bit of a dump.

The club were supposed to only be using the stadium temporarily while the modern Stade de Suiss Wankdorf was built, however building was abandoned due to the government, terrorists, communism, blues music, video games and action movies because they took our jobs.

An expansion or new stadium is definitely needed, but a luxury that probably cannot be afforded.


In goal is a familiar face: Christopher Toselli, the Chile keeper who I had made my #1. He's been at Young Boys for 5 1/2 years (a claim he vehemently denies) and is a club favourite.

The first team squad is nearly all a few years around 30, so if this is a long-term job it'll be similar to Varese in that I'll have to lower the average age down with bargain finds.


My usual assistant Henk ten Cate has joined Frank Rijkaard with Netherlands as his last job before retiring, so I'll need to find a new assistant. I'll be overhauling the whole backroom team.


This is very much like Pep Guardiola going into Manchester City (in the Earth-0 dimension, I mean). The squad is older and an overhaul in several areas of the club, as well as the team, are needed. No rich sheikh though.

The Swiss transfer window closes at the end of February and the winter break. So I can sign players, but I'm loathe to sell any. Not only do I not know the players yet, but the Swiss season is hectic with a game every 3 or 4 days, so bodies are probably better to have than a bit of money.

Short-term I will take a scattergun approach of bringing in players, seeing who's looking for a club and who I can loan in the next few weeks, while trying out the current squad in friendlies. A semi-final and final victory in the Swiss Cup is all I need to achieve Europe, otherwise I'll need to get 4th.

If finances aren't quietly plummeting and things are going well, I could be here long-term, which will see me selling the subpar and old players, eventually the entire team due to their age, and building a new team to try and break the Basel hold on the league and make progress past the qualification stages of Europe.

Likely, Basel's stranglehold is too strong, so ideally I will just do what I can here before moving on to either Grasshopper or Basel themselves, or a step-up elsewhere if the offer is right.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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Young Boys: 2017/18 Winter Break

End of January 2018

With no fixtures until March, I arrange a tour of China to get to know my players.


Friendly - 30/1/18

Dalian 0 - 2 Young Boys
YB Goals: Szepessy (2), Borek (90+3)


Staff News

I finish structuring my staff. A few stayed, most were moved on.


February 2018


Friendly - 3/2/18

Shandong 0 - 0 Young Boys (5 - 4 penalties)



Name: Alexander Nadirov
Position: DC/DR/DL
Age: 23
International status: 4 Under-21 appearances for Iran
Signed from: Bargh (Iran) for £525,000 (compensation)
Watched by: a bunch of top-division clubs in Europe, including Porto and Aston Villa, but no one else approached him.
Number: 13

It's a very satisfying signing. I only had one left-back and two right-backs so he slots in nicely, as well as being young, cheap and talented.

My assistant, who knows a player, says he's already the best player in the squad.

My Iranian knowledge pays off.


Friendly - 7/2/18

Beijing 1 - 3 Young Boys
YB Goals: Mijic (14), Trialist (Karimi) (35), Furtado (78)
B Goal: (84)

Trialist Mostafa Karimi, who I had called up to the Iran squad once upon a time, made and scored one before coming off. Unfortunately his wage demands are outside our wage structure and he can't be signed.

(He would eventually join Stuttgart and be valued at a million more than our most valuable player.)



Name: Meysam Rezapour
Position: ST
Age: 30
International status: 5 goals in 6 appearances for Iran
Signed from: Foulad (Iran) for £250,000
Watched by: No one
Number: 14

If you have been following this story with great love and obsession, you will remember Rezapour as the striker that burst into my Iran side in the lead up to the 2015 Asian Cup, going on a streak of scoring in every game until he was injured in the Asian Cup itself, which played a part in us being eliminated in the next match.

On the face of it he's nothing special, and his Iranian run could've been a fluke, never mind that it was 3 years ago. However, all but one of my strikers are well over 30 anyway, so it's worth the £250k gamble even if he ends up just being a helpful extra body.


Transfer Request

One of the wingers, Szepessy, requests a transfer to go to a bigger club. One of the clubs watching him, a Ligue 1 club, qualifies as that.

He had one great performance in a friendly but otherwise has been unspectacular so far, and his request is granted. Even though the extra body would be helpful, he wants to move now and I can't stop his chance at a big league.


Transfer window closed.


March 2018


Friendly - 4/3/18

Sion 2 - 3 Young Boys
S Goal: (20)
YB Goals: Stanojevic (28), Cvijanovic (54), Mijic (63)
S Goal: (65)


Winter Break Review

Friendly results, against top Chinese opposition and then away to a recently relegated Swiss side, were positive. Though, while the performances were mostly professional, the opposition was given a few too many opportunities in most games. So I expect this to be a decent team that may lack complete focus at times. We will see.

Nadirov is a top signing, Rezapour could be hit or miss. Naturally, both got injured and will miss the first few games anyway... including against the two biggest teams in Switzerland.

I have made several free transfer signings that will come through in the summer, but for now I am content with my team and think they have a good chance of 4th place, or winning the Cup semi-final and final, to qualify for Europe.


The domestic season resumes now.

On 16/08/2017 at 01:20, tenthreeleader said:

Story title change of the year :D

Let me know if this gets too much, but I promise this might be the last dodgy title change.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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Young Boys: March to April 2018 - Plan A

MARCH 2018

The domestic season resumes now and I begin my first half-season in charge competitively.

All eyes are on the cup semi-final next month. Going through to the final will see us against lower league opposition and thus a strong chance of achieving the goal of qualifying for Europe by winning the cup.

Until then, I try to pick up points for plan B: league qualification.


v Grasshopper (H) - Rival match - Super League - 10/3/18

Before the winter break, Grasshoppers hadn't won in 5 games. Young Boys have lost both games to them so far this season though.

My assistant is of the opinion that my two keepers are equally good, but I feel my former Chile #1 Toselli is the main guy.

An injury to new signing Nadirov and a suspension means we have no left-backs, so the right-back moves there.

Playing a 4-4-2 diamond, with 5 midfielders in the squad but 1 out injured, means the midfield picks itself.

Up front, with new signing Rezapour injured, I give Stanojevic a shot. He's barely played any games in his 1-and-a-half seasons here and desperately wants an opportunity.

(7th) Young Boys 1 - 1 Grasshopper (3rd)
YB Disallowed Goal: Szepessy (31)
YB Goal: Szepessy (45+1)
G Goal: (56)

We dominated and transfer-requested midfielder Szepessy scored after having a goal disallowed.

Then Barbu was injured at the end of an incredible run which might've been finished with a goal. As he got treatment, Grasshopper scored thanks to their extra man advantage. A 1-0 performance only gets 1 point, also 1 for them.


New Youth Signings

With the windows closed, I had the scouts scour the unattached players, and I signed 3 youngsters on a free for the future - profit if nothing else.


v Basel (A) - Rival match - Super League - 14/3/18

The suspended left-back returns.

(1st) Basel 2 - 0 Young Boys (8th)
B Goals: (4), (41)

Having 0 shots on target out of 5 attempts didn't help matters.


Transfer Request

Lazevski, a substitute centre-back, requests a transfer. He only joined in the summer, but has only played 6 games. He did fine in the friendlies, but at 31 years of age I decide to accept.


v Schaffhausen (H) - Super League - 17/3/18

Rezapour is recovering from injury and makes the bench. So far, none of the strikers have really made a claim, so Rezapour may be heavily relied on this season.

(9th) Young Boys 3 - 0 Schaffhausen (10th)
YB Goals: Stanojevic (2, 60), Angels (73)

A somewhat tighter game than it looked.


Transfer Request

Barbu, midfielder, requests a transfer to bigger things. I tell him I'll sell him at the end of season, but we need him now, even though he's not playing great. (I don't tell him that last bit.)


v St. Gallen (A) - Super League - 21/3/18

Mijic, a centre-back, got injured in the last match and is unavailable.

Barbu is left out and I try Trajkovic, a wing back, in midfield in his place. I'm trying to train him as a right winger anyway.

Rezapour makes his first start.

(9th) St. Gallen 1 - 0 Young Boys (7th)
SG Penalty Miss: (25)
SG Goal: (28)
YB Second Yellow: Gramatikov (30)
SG Red Card: (36)

A weird ref made for a stupid match.


v Delémont (H) - Super League - 24/3/18

With the captain sent off, both first-team centre-backs are out and the two backups start together.

(9th) Young Boys 2 - 1 Delémont (5th)
YB Goal: Rezapour (4)
D goal: (49)
D Second Yellow: (59)
YB Goal: Cvijanovic (60)

A direct free kick from a sending off foul gave us a deserved 3 points.


Transfer Removal Request

Lazevski changes his mind about wanting a transfer, after starting in the last match, and I take him off the transfer list. But I might move him on anyway.


v Luzern (A) - Super League - 31/3/18

This is a big match because this is the fixture that will be played in the Swiss cup semi-final next month.

Luzern haven't beaten Young Boys yet this season, and this away fixture was played just a few months ago with YB winning 3-2.

There are no injuries or suspensions now so, fitness aside, I have everyone available to at least be a sub. This includes my first buy, the defender Nadirov (who makes his debut), and winger Gavrilov (sub), who had been injured since the friendlies.

(4th) Luzern 0 - 0 Young Boys (8th)

It could've gone either way but for wasteful finishing from both sides. We had to play counter attack to avoid getting destroyed. The cup tie could go either way.



Szepessy comes 3rd in Player of the Month, with 2 assists and 1 goal in 6 matches.


APRIL 2018


v Aarau (H) - Super League - 4/4/18

(7th) Young Boys 2 - 0 Aarau (9th)
YB Goals: Stanojevic (2), Rezapour (pen 58)

Gramatikov (CB) gets a yellow card which means he's suspended for the next match, which is incredibly convenient as he would've been rested for the big cup game afterwards anyway.


v Thun (A) - Rivals - Super League - 7/4/18

2 defenders are out, one suspended and one a yellow away from suspension in the cup game.

(2nd) Thun 1 - 1 Young Boys (7th)
T Goal: (33)
YB Goal: Rezapour (75)

To my surprise, despite being away to a team that looks like will be finishing 2nd, we dominated and they were very lucky to escape with a draw.


Unsettled Player

Rezapour says he's having trouble settling in Switzerland at the moment, but 3 goals in 5 starts suggests it's not really affecting his performances that badly.



v Luzern (A) - Swiss Cup semi-final - 14/4/18

The winner will go on to face one of the bottom-half teams from the division below in the final, and will be huge favourites for the trophy and a place in the UEFA Cup.

I can pick a full-strength line-up:

---------- Rezapour -- Stanojevic ----------
------------------ Cvijanovic ------------------
Gavrilov --------- Borek --------- Szepessy
Nadirov -- Mijic -- Gramatikov (c) -- Plantic
--------------------- Toselli ---------------------

Subs: Monterosso, Lyubenov, Trajkovic, Novak, Barbu, Custic, Angels

First half

Unlike a couple of weeks ago, Luzern are providing zero threat, so the game is there for the taking. However the game has yet to start as the teams go in at half-time.

Second half

Luzern are still no threat and are resorting to long range shots. I refrain from making substitutions due to the good performance and with extra time in mind.

Luzern make 3 substitutions late on, and one sub pounces on the rebound of the other sub's shot to take an unlikely lead with about 10 minutes to go. Was there an offside? Take your pick from the pass to the first sub and the sub scoring from the rebound, with both looking slightly offside.

4 kicks from kick-off, Borek takes matters into his own hands and hits a long-range curler from 30 yards to equalise.

Barbu comes on for the ineffective Stanojevic, thus moving a striker back into an attacking midfielder. I'm just trying to change something to carve better opportunities.

Extra Time? Penalties?

We lack the ability to kill this game off in 90 or 120 minutes, so it goes to penalties. I bring on my last two subs (Trajkovic and Angels) as penalty takers.

Trajkovic scores his, but Angels misses. The shootout sums up the game, as both sides miss half their pens but we fail to take advantage.


Final Score

Luzern 1 - 1 Young Boys (AET) (1-1 FT) (3-2 pens)
L Goal: (83)
YB Goal: Borek (84)


So thanks to once again being screwed by bad refereeing or dodgy rules, now we must take the long way to Europe, with no trophy at the end, and no chance of stress-free experimenting for the next month.

I'm left wondering how easy this season would be if the club had just allowed a couple thousand more in wages for new Stuttgart striker Karimi.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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  April 2018 to May 2018 - Squeaky Bum Time For Young Boys

Having failed to grasp the golden opportunity for relatively easy European qualification, losing the big semi-final on penalties, we must qualify via the league. An unbeaten run will get us there, a winless run will take us closer to the relegation area. The league is so tight, that one win will shoot you up several places.

APRIL 2018

v Grasshopper (A) - RIVALS - Super League - 18/4/18

Since stealing a point thanks to us temporarily going down to 10 men, Grasshoppers won their next game but then went 7 games without a win. In fact, their last win was in October, 15 games ago. But they'll fancy their chances at home against a side that played 120 minutes a few days ago.

The fact that, despite such an awful run, they're still 5th shows how tight the rest of the league is. If we win only half our games, we'll surely finish 3rd.

I have to rotate players, not just because of the extra time, but every game will now have only 3 or 4 days apart.

(5th) Grasshopper 1 - 0 Young Boys (7th)
G Goal: (43)

Same old story: had much of the game, nervy opponents resorting to long shots, dodgy ref (3 yellow cards in the first 20 minutes, all to us, the away team) and still lose out.

It's clear a top keeper and a goalscorer will make us one of the big teams.


v Basel (H) - RIVALS - Super League - 21/4/18

Basel have only lost 2 games all season. Oh how I'd love to be manager of Basel...

(7th) Young Boys 0 - 1 Basel (1st)
B Red Card: (34)
B Goal: (85)

Unbelievable. UNBELIEVABLE. Dominated with 11 v 10. Yet, a few minutes after one of our usual close chances that go wide, one of their players dribbles through and scores. Because Basel. Because Young Boys.


v Schaffhausen (A) - Super League - 25/4/18

Major squad rotation in effect now. I drop Toselli (GK), now it's Monterosso's (GK) chance to shine.

A win here will at least turn the chances of Young Boys not getting relegated from 'not likely' to 'very unlikely', pushing our opponents further into the relegation/playoff zone in the process.

Their last two matches saw them lose 7-0 away to second-placed Thun, then get a big 1-0 win at home to Grasshopper.

(9th) Schaffhausen 2 - 0 Young Boys (8th)
S Goals: (26), (57)


Dominated from first to last. Disgusting. Pathetic. Now the players know that I know the French and German for 'you are all a bunch of ****ing nonces'.

I use the press conference to lay into most of the players, and I tell the captain to get the team together and sort it out.

Laughably, my assistant informs me Monterosso, the keeper I started today, is looking for more game time. More bench time after that performance, you twit. Toselli is immediately back in.


v St. Gallen (H) - Super League - 28/4/18

If we do badly in this match, I'll look at making major tactical changes.

(8th) Young Boys 1 - 1 St. Gallen (6th)
SG Goal: (73)
YB G: Gramatikov (85)

Same old story. Dominating the whole match, their player just had a harmless shot on goal that simply went in. We were rescued by a centre-back's header from a set-piece.

I can see it's not the tactics, it's just the players. No one is scoring with their shots, and the keepers aren't good enough to react to shots and stop them going in most of the time. Again: keeper and striker needed.



Basel win their 7th title in a row with 5 games still to go, by a 16-point margin.


MAY 2018

v Zurich (A) - Super League - 2/5/18

I'm able to work up some players for this one.

(5th) Zurich 2 - 2 Young Boys (8th)
YB Goal: Cvijanovic (10)
Z Goals: (34), (43)
YB Red Card - Szepessy (76)
YB Goal - Borek (90+3

Same old story. Taking an early lead gave us a slight chance of taking a point from the game. That's what happened, in the end. To neutrals, it was exciting. I was emotionless when the last-second equaliser was scored, however.


v Delémont (A) - Super League - 5/5/18

(7th) Delémont 0 - 2 Young Boys (8th)
YB Goals - Stanojevic (53, 71)

At last, a win after 8 matches. The turning point was using the counter attack. Up to that point, they were getting scary chances and beating the defence. It hadn't struck me to try counter attacking football regularly before, as we should be dominating most teams (and generally have). Something to consider.

With just that one win, we immediately move up the table to our highest position yet under my reign: 6th. Once again showing how tight the league is. But 4th place and 'Europe' looks very unlikely. Relegation is a bit more likely.


v Luzern (H) - RIVALS - Super League - 9/5/18

They stole a near-guaranteed trophy and place in Europe, by beating us on penalties after they were otherwise destroyed, in the Swiss Cup semi-final. They've yet to beat us this season.

(6th) Young Boys 1 - 1 Luzern (3rd)
YB Goal: Stanojevic (2)
L Goal: (43)

Same old story. Take lead, dominate, defensive error and/or poor keeping leads to points dropped, opponents walk off at full time laughing.


v Aarau (A) - Super League - 12/5/18

(10th) Aarau 1 - 1 Young Boys (7th)
YB Goal: Furtado (22)
A Goal: (57)

Same old story.


v Zurich (H) - Super League - 16/5/18

A win effectively guarantees safety. In our last match with Zurich (see above), even during our awful run, we managed to snatch a draw away from home with 10 men against them, so a win should be expected at home with 11.

Szepessy returns from suspension against the same team he was sent off against. We will be a bit improved in attack now.

(8th) Young Boys 2 - 0 Zurich (5th)
YB Goal: Angels (16)
Z Sending off: (21)
YB Goal: Furtado (43)

The tables are turned: Zurich suffer the early sending off this time.

And who was Man of the Match? Szepessy.


v Thun (H) - RIVALS - Super League - 20/5/18

The final game of the season.

Once again, a win shot us up the table. The team above us are away to Basel and only one point ahead, so a win will likely see us finish 5th.

It's a choice between trying to beat our rivals, finishing higher and getting a bit of extra prize money... or trying some other players.

I decide to try a new formation, from 4-4-2 diamondish to 5-2-1-2, with a mostly full-strength side but a lesser-used strike force.

(6th) Young Boys 1 - 0 Thun (3rd)
YB Goal: Gramatikov (78)

Young Boys nearly threw it away in the 5th and 6th of 4 minutes of stoppage time, thanks to leaving their striker completely free in the area one-on-one, but he hit wide the perfect goalscoring opportunity. Our centre-back's header from a free-kick gets the 3 points.


Award News

I come third in the Manager of the Month award thanks to 6 games unbeaten.



Luzern and second-tier Chiasso produce a dire match that ends 0-0 after extra time. Luzern score all their penalties, Chiasso miss two. But lower-league Chiasso can still celebrate: they qualify for Europe as cup runner-up, due to Luzern finishing in the Euro spots in the league anyway.


Final League Table - Swiss Super League

1 - Basel - 82
2 - Luzern - 59
3 - Thun - 56
4 - Grasshopper - 51
5 - Young Boys - 45
6 - Zurich - 44
7 - Delémont - 43
8 - St. Gallen - 41
9 - Schaffhausen - 37
10 - Aarau - 31

League record for first half of season (before I arrived): P18 W5 D5 L8 PTS20 F23 A27 GD-4 CS2

League record for second half of season (since my arrival): P18 W6 D7 L6 PTS25 F19 A15 GD+4 CS6

Season Review

A good start was derailed after somehow losing in the cup semi-final, and thus a near-guaranteed spot in Europe. We went on a run of 3 games without a goal and 7 without a clean sheet nor a win, but that turned into a closing run of 7 games unbeaten and scoring in every game.

It was hugely frustrating, as the amount of close-cut chances not going in was heinous (woodwork, going across the face of goal, goal line clearances, the lot) and two keepers not quite up to standard meant easy goals conceded. Combined with some awful ref performances, results suffered.

The silver lining is that this means, with a goalkeeper and a real goalscorer, Young Boys can get back in the Champions League (qualifying stages anyway), never mind the UEFA Cup.

And I just so happen to have some really good free transfers coming in when the window opens, including said keeper and a forward or two.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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2017/18 End of Season Squad Review - Who Stays and Who Goes?

You only learn so much watching video tapes, I needed this half season with the players to see who will play a part in my own squad, and who isn't good enough and should go. Although, given they're nearly all around 30, I suppose they'll need replacing sooner or later.

Position - Number - Name - Age at start of next season - Value - Stats since my arrival - Stay or go?

P = Games Played, G = Goals, A = Assists, C = Conceded, CS = Clean Sheets, MM = Man of the Match, AR = Average Rating


1 Christopher Toselli - GK - 30, Chilean (5 caps) - £1.3m - P 18, C 14, CS 6, MM 1, AR 6.89 - Stay if contract can be discussed

I said this was very similar to Pep coming in at Man City (in the Earth-0 dimension), and therefore Toselli is Joe Hart: a long-term #1 of the club, a fan favourite, and usually good performer who's had iffy form recently.

I gave him his first cap for Chile and he became my #1, but his contract expires next year, he's not interested in renewing, and he didn't have a great season. With a new keeper coming in, it looks like I'll have to make the unpopular choice of cashing in.

23 Marco Monterosso - GK - 30, Swiss/Italian - £90k - P 1, C 2, CS 0, AR 6.00 - Go

Supposedly as good as Toselli, but has done little to give me faith, and thinks he should be the #1, so will likely leave.

Both can go because, as mentioned, a better keeper is coming in when the summer transfer window opens.


13 Alexander Nadirov - DC/R/L - 23, Iranian (4 U21 caps) - £725k - P 14, MM 1, AR 7.29 - Stay

3 Daniel Gramatikov - DC/SW - 29, Bulgarian - £800k - P 17, MM 1, AR 6.94 - Stay (if contract signed)

5 Alen Mijic - DC - 31, Slovenian (7 caps) - 85k - P 14(1), AR 6.93 - Stay

New signing Nadirov was a success, filling in anywhere he was needed and still being the best defender we have.

Gramatikov and Mijic were my central pairing. Both their contracts expire next season and both are being watched. Mijic is worth more at the club than the £100k we'd get, and he should sign a new contract. Gramatikov is not open to discussion yet and I may be forced to cash in.

4 Aleksandar Lazevski - DC/SW - 31, Serbian - £220k - P 1(1), AR 7.00 - ?

19 Mihail Lyubenov - DC - 29, Bulgarian - £250k - P 4(3), AR 6.71 - ?

Both haven't been bad, but could better be found with the cash they'd bring in?

20 Mirko Plantic - DR/C - 33, Croatian (1 cap) - £95k - P 13, AR 6.69 - Go

Sometimes a solid defender, sometimes not. With a wage of £2.5k, and a year left on his contract (with no wish to extend), he's better off gone.

2 Vojislav Trajkovic - D/WBR - 30, Serbian - £75k - P 6(4), A 1, AR 6.70 - Stay

Earned a 2-year contract as a squad player.

6 Petr Novak - D/WBL - 25, Czech (4 U21 caps) - £775k - P 12(2), A 1, AR 6.93 - Stay

With 2 years left and at a good age, it's worth keeping him on for at least another season. He's being watched by a couple of good clubs though, and a big offer could change things.

He somehow made the Swiss Super League Team of the Season.


12 Tomas Borek - MC - 32, Czech (1 cap) - £700k - P 19, G 2, A 2, MM 2, AR 7.16 - Stay

Played well in every game of my reign, getting in tackles and key passes every match. Likes to try a long range goal too. My choice as player of the season, he made the 'subs bench' for the Super League Team of the Season

18 Goran Cvijanovic - AMC - 31, Slovenian (1 goal in 4 caps) - £1.6m - P 17 (2), G 2, A 4, MM 3, AR 7.16 - Stay

Like Borek, played every game and always did well. The Swiss seem confused by the concept of an attacking central midfielder, as he was allowed to frolic freely and make tonnes of key passes. In one match, he made 12. This led to him being voted the Fans' Player of the Season.

24 Catalin Barbu - MC/R/AMR/C - 29, Moldovan (25 caps) - £1.2m - P 10(3), A 2, AR 6.69 - Go (on a promise)

I was forced to use him as an attacking midfielder due to injury and lack of depth, but looks to be decent in central midfield. But he wanted to move a few months ago to a bigger club,  and I promised he could go at the end of the season. At least this means big money and some wages freed up.

21 Sándor Szepessy - ML/AMR/MR/AML - 25, Hungarian (3 U21 caps) - £600k - P 14(1), G 1, A 3, MM 3, AR 7.20 - Stay (but transfer requested)

Rarely a bad game, I hope I can change his mind about leaving or at least hold it off for a year.

7 Georgi Gavrilov - M/AML - 28, Bulgarian - £1m - P 12, A 1, AR 6.92 - Stay (for now)

Should be a backup player, but he's one of only two wingers in the current squad.


11 Miodrag Stanojevic - ST - 28, Montenegrin (1 U21 cap)/Croatian - £300k - P16(3), G 6, MM 1, AR 6.79 - Stay

The player who was most happy for me to arrive. Before I came, he was frustrated at only making a few sub appearance, just as in his first season the year before. He played every game under me, though he was subbed off in 12 of them, signifying how hot and cold he could be. When on form, he was a match winner.

14 Meysam Rezapour - ST - 30, Iranian (5 goals in 6 caps) - £240k - P9(3), G 3, A 1, MM 1, AR 6.58 - Stay

My other winter signing I signed after he went on a run of scoring in every game before injury when I was with Iran. He got off to a great start again for my Young Boys team, 3 goals in his first 5 starts after injury, but he has had trouble settling in Switzerland and his form dropped.

16 Furtado - ST - 35, Portuguese (1 U21 cap)/Cape Verdean - £14k - P4(5), G 2, A 1, AR 6.78 - Stay

The club favourite forced his way into the team in the final month.

9 Genadijs Angels - ST - 31, Latvian (1 goal in 16 caps) - £1.2m - P 3(9), G 2, AR 6.50 - Go

10 Hrvoje Custic - ST - 34, Croatian - £3k - P 4(8), A 1, AR 6.50 - Stay

Both old, unspectacular and with a year left, but one has low wages and value, the other very high. Conveniently, the less costly one is a club favourite.

25 Díego Rios - ST - 33, Colombian - £16k - P 2(4), AR 6.17 - Go (released)

Didn't score after I arrived, despite a good record. He's one of the highest earners and his contract won't be renewed.

Potential 2018/19 make-up

GK: Incoming Signing (First XI)
GK: Signing Required (Backup)

DR: Nadirov (XI)
DR: Trajkovic (Backup)

DL: Nadirov (XI)
DL: Novak (Backup)

DC: Nadirov (XI)
DC: Gramatikov (XI)
DC: Mijic (XI)
DC: Lyubenov/Lazevski (Backup)

MR: Szepessy or Replacement Signing (XI)
MR: Incoming Signing (XI)
MR: Incoming Signing/Youth (Backup)

ML: Szepessy or Replacement Signing (XI)
ML: Gavrilov or Replacement Signing (XI)

MC: Borek (XI)
MC: Incoming Signing (XI)
MC: Youth, New Signings (Backup)

AMC: Cvijanovic (XI)
AMC: Incoming Signing (XI)
AMC: Incoming Signing (Backup)

ST: Rezapour (XI)
ST: Incoming Signing (XI)
ST: Stanojevic (XI)
ST: Furtado (Backup)
ST: Incoming Signing (Backup)
ST: Custic (Extra body)

So new wingers, or central midfielders if I play a wingless formation, would be nice. Might be worth looking out for another keeper.

However players must be sold before any more can be signed. I did my business incredibly early, so the wage bill needs a little lowering before being able to offer any other players anything.

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2017/18 Season Review - Club Football

Selected Summer transfers - The 'Make Up Your ****ing Mind' Window Part I
Leszek Szuta (27, Polish, MC) - Chelsea to Inter Milan - £32m
Darren Cousins (26, English, MC) - Aston Villa to Chelsea - £26m
Mxolisi Thorne (24, South African, ST) - PSV to Chelsea - £24m
Milos Simic (27, Serbian, DC) - Roma to AC Milan - £22.5m
Martin Gale (24, English, DM/MC) - Sevilla back to Chelsea - £21m
Donato Tarquini (25, Italian, AMR/MR) - Inter Milan to Real Madrid - £22.5m
Francisco Merida - AC Milan back to Liverpool - £20.5m

Selected Winter Transfers - The 'Make Up Your ****ing Mind' Window Part II
Kevin Brown (24, Scottish, AMR/MR) - Inter Milan back to Arsenal - £27.5m
Basile Cueff (careful when reading that out loud) (22, French, MC) - Hertha Berlin to Arsenal - £24m
Ante Jelavic (25, Croatian, DMC/MC) - Borussia Dortmund to Chelsea - £18.25m
Francisco Merida - Liverpool (again, after only half a season) to Sevilla - £17m
Jeffrey Imudia - Liverpool to Real Madrid - £16m

2017 Awards

Arsenal's Nicklas Bendtner became the first player to win the FIFA World Player of the Year award two years in a row since... Arsenal's Thierry Henry in 2007. Henry won it an unprecedented third time in a row the next year, will Bendtner do the same? His partner in crime, Carlos Vela, came 3rd, with Bayern Munich's German striker Thomas Schweinsteiger runner-up.

Inter Milan's striker Claudio Gamboa won his first Ballon d'Or European Footballer of the Year award in the year he scored his 50th goal for Mexico in only 54 appearances. New faces came 2nd and 3rd: Real Madrid's French striker Sekou Fofana and AC Milan's Saudi Arabian striker Mohammed Majrashi.

European Cups

It only took Roberto Mancini's Inter Milan 3 years to win the Champions League again, their and his 4th in 7 seasons, with a 1-0 win over Ajax. It was England striker John Atkinson that scored the only goal this time, a role usually reserved for the unusually quiet Gamboa, against Frank Yallop's surprise finalists.

New Scottish champions Dundee United's Champions League debut ended at the group stage below Ajax and Real Madrid, but Paul Sturrock's team still had the UEFA Cup to go for, and they got all the way to the final before losing to José Mourinho's Chelsea 2-0.


Premier League

Neutrals sadly sighed as Michael Laudrup's Arsenal retained the title with relative ease.

Steve McClaren's 2016 champions, Newcastle United, finished runner-up for the 4th non-title-winning-season in a row.

A late double from Klass-Jan Huntelaar saw Roy Keane's Man Utd lose 2-1 at home to Southampton and thus not even qualify for the UEFA Cup.

So the last two UEFA Cup places were taken by Preston North End, suddenly making their European debut after Frank Lampard's first full season as a manager, and by Stuart Pearce's Coventry City.

Mike Newell was sensationally sack at West Bromwich Albion. After achieving promotion back to the Premier League in his first few months, he took them to the top half of the Premier League for 3 straight seasons, as well as a UEFA Cup quarter-final and the semi-final the season after. But finishing 16th this season was deemed a sackable offence, despite comfortably avoiding relegation points-wise. He was replaced with Michael Skibbe, who guided Antwerp to their first Belgian title in 61 years.

After 7 years finishing in the bottom half, Tottenham Hotspur were relegated in 19th, being bottom most of the season. As thrifty as ever, Spurs still managed to get a bit of cash rather than immediately sack Glen De Boeck, as he moved from the now-Championship club to Osasuna. The embarrassing news didn't end for fans, as they learned his replacement will be Steve Tilson, who has spend the last decade at Bournemouth keeping them a yo-yo club... between League One and League Two... when he arrived they were 20th in League One, he left after relegating them from League One for the 4th time.

Domestic Cups

Arsenal won the Domestic Treble by beating cup specialists Coventry City in both finals.

Football League and Non-League

Somehow I missed and failed to mention one event last season: Everton brought in the legendary Lothar Matthaus in December 2016, his first management job after nearly a decade serving as their assistant manager. Alas they sacked him after barely over a year, expecting promotion back to the Premier League immediately and nothing less.

Ashley Cole's debut as a manager was less successful than Lampard's. He took Cardiff City from 5th in the Championship to bottom and relegated with only 7 wins and 39 points. He was sacked at the end of the season.

Evidently hiring former Arsenal players isn't a good idea, as Alexander Hleb's first season at Colchester United saw them return to non-league football for the first time since 1992.


Another record was broken regarding the Old Firm's waning dominance, as this was the first season since 1964/65 that neither Celtic nor Rangers finished in the top 2.

Craig Levein's Hearts won their second title in 3 years, with defending champions Dundee United as runner-up 5 points behind 1st and ahead of 3rd.

John Collins' Celtic finished 3rd, by one goal of goal difference, while Richard Gough's Rangers finished in 6th.


Inter Milan went back to the tradition of winning the league dominantly, retaining the title by 18 points in the end. Their 10th title in 13 years.

Francesco Totti was sacked from his first job after 5 years at Serie C2 side Foggia, having not improved them at all.


Marcelino's Real Madrid destroyed La Liga, winning their 6th title in a row by 21 points.

Edited by git2thachoppa

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2017/18 Season Review - International Football


It has been officially declared that the world is now a relatively wonderful place, with every country now having some form of democracy. Human rights offences are finally a thing of the past.

An event a few years ago is believed to be the catalyst of this, when Israel qualified for the 2014 World and were drawn in a group with Iraq, forcing them to play each other. The Iraqi government relaxing their rule of not recognising Israel began a chain of events that led to the world realising it's far less hassle to NOT hate and maim each other.

A few years later, there was a trend as elections worldwide saw anti-establishment figures (regardless of political ideology coming into power or becoming a powerful figure, from Rouhani to Donald Trump the guy off The Apprentice.

Or perhaps it was all started earlier, with Iraq being 'democracised' with their players no longer playing in fear of torture, the Arab Spring with dictatorships overthrown, North Korean citizens being further exposed to East Asian and Western media and realising they've got it a bit **** in comparison and rising up, the overthrowing of the Ayatollah in Iran leading to the return of raunchy magazines and women in football stadiums (which at last led to Iran being the next country awarded the hosting rights for the Asian Cup).

Tourism has spiked in many glamorous locations and workers are now free to move around anywhere without fear of despotism.

With the end of war and the increase in general happiness, it has been agreed that no new countries will ever be made, we have enough now. Also money will no longer rise or fall in value, a dollar should be a dollar forever! So don't expect anything silly like a football player moving for 200 million Euros.

*As we're now in 2018 and thus THE FUTURE, this is the best explanation as to why the state of the world stays exactly the same for the next few decades/centuries (other than a Matrix rip-off). We have no idea what the world will be like years from now, or even next year. Syria could become a tourist hotspot, Turkey a megapower, or aliens could invade and test their beauty products on us (it's ok, we're not as advanced as they are, so we don't feel pain). So perhaps one day in 2031, you'll see me in charge of Somalia. Because perhaps in real life, Somalia will be a great place to live in 2031.

And in a world where Steve McClaren is an England and Newcastle legend, is Donald Trump really that unbelievable?

Cameroon 2018 African Cup of Nations

Despite a new manager, Ivory Coast yet again won the African Cup of Nations. They beat Mali 2-0 in a repeat of the 2014 final, winning their 5th tournament in the last 6.

Hosts Cameroon lost to the winners in the semis, making do with a 3rd place playoff win over surprise package Gabon.

Gabon lost out in the semis to Mali after extra time, which saw Mali have a sending off, a missed penalty and 2 goals all in the last 12 minutes of extra time.

2018 OFC Nations Cup

New Caledonia made the two-legged final competitive, but New Zealand won again with a 3-2 win.

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On 06/09/2017 at 01:28, git2thachoppa said:

Arsenal's Nicklas Bendtner became the first player to win the FIFA World Player of the Year award two years in a row since... Arsenal's Thierry Henry in 2007.

Your save's broken. :lol:

On 06/09/2017 at 01:28, git2thachoppa said:

Michael Laudrup's Arsenal retained the title with relative ease.

If only real football was that straightforward...

On 06/09/2017 at 01:28, git2thachoppa said:

Arsenal won the Domestic Treble by beating cup specialists Coventry City in both finals.

Now come on, that's totally unrealistic! Coventry in BOTH cup Finals? What do you think this is - Sheffield Wednesday 1993 all over again?

1 hour ago, git2thachoppa said:


Jeremiah was a bullfrog... :D

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Uruguay 2018 World Cup Qualifying Recap

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


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

Group 1

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

The Euro 2016 winners qualify easily.

Group 2

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

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

Group 3

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

England qualified as the best runner-up.

Group 4

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

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

Group 5

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

Poland reach their first World Cup in 12 years.

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

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

Group 6

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

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

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

Group 7

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

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

Austria qualified for their first World Cup in 20 years.

Group 8

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

Group 9

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

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

Playoffs (aggregate)

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

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

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


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

Argentina - 36
Colombia - 28
Bolivia - 27

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

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

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

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

Brazil must go through the CONCACAF - CONMEBOL playoff.


Mexico qualified far ahead of everyone else.

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

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

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

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

COMNEBOL - CONCACAF Playoff (aggregate)

Brazil 3 - 2 USA

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

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

Shock for both countries...


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

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

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

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

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

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


Second Round

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

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

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

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

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

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

Third Round

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

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

Playoff (aggregate)

Malaysia 2 - 3 South Korea

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


Playoff (aggregate)

New Zealand 7 - 1 Tahiti

AFC - OFC Playoff (aggregate)

New Zealand 1 - 3 South Korea

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

Uruguay 2018 Group Stage Draw

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

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

Group C
Uruguay - Hosts
Saudi Arabia
Costa Rica

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

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

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

Group G
Democratic Republic of Congo

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


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18 hours ago, CFuller said:

I've seen Malta qualify for a World Cup in CM00/01... but Macau? MACAU?! That's quite something. :D

They're still not even that great. Only 4 players play outside Singapore and only a few are valued at over £100k (but well below £1m). But they got 10 points off of South Korea and China and only lost 1 match in all of qualifying.

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Uruguay 2018 World Cup


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

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

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

Match Days 1 & 2

Group A

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

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

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

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

Group B

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

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

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

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

Group C

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

Costa Rica 1 - 0 Saudi Arabia

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

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

Group D

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

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

Iran 0 - 2 Italy

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

Group E

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

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

Macau 0 - 0 South Africa

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

Group F

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

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

Jordan 0 - 0 Belgium

Czech Republic 0 - 0 Mali

Group G

Denmark 3 - 1 DR Congo

Colombia 1 - 1 Israel

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

Israel 2 - 1 Denmark

Group H

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

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

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

Brazil 2 - 0 South Korea

Match Day 3

Key: Team - GF - GD - Pts

Results in spoilers.

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

Mexico v Argentina
Austria v Comoros

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


Mexico 0 - 1 Argentina
Austria 2 - 0 Comoros

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

Norway v Nigeria
Republic of Ireland v Canada

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


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

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

Uruguay v Costa Rica
Saudi Arabia v Bulgaria

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


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

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

Bolivia v Iran
Italy v Poland

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


Bolivia 3 - 0 Iran
Italy 1 - 0 Poland

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

Finland v Macau
South Africa v Serbia

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


Finland 3 - 0 Macau
South Africa 2 - 1 Serbia

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

Belgium v Mali
Czech Republic v Jordan

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


Belgium 0 - 0 Mali
Czech Republic 1 - 0 Jordan

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

Denmark v Colombia
DR Congo v Israel

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


Denmark 1 - 0 Colombia
DR Congo 0 - 1 Israel

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

Brazil v England
Netherlands v South Korea

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


Brazil 1 - 0 England
Netherlands 0 - 0 South Korea

Final Group Standings

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

Mexico - 3
Comoros - 0

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

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

Group C
Costa Rica - 9
Saudi Arabia - 4

Uruguay - 2
Bulgaria - 1

Group D
Bolivia - 7
Italy - 6

Poland - 4
Iran - 0

Group E
South Africa - 7
Finland - 6

Serbia - 3
Macau - 1

Group F
Czech Republic - 5
Jordan - 4

Belgium - 3
Mali - 2

Group G
Israel - 7
Denmark - 6

Colombia - 2
Democratic Republic of Congo - 1

Group H
Brazil - 7
England - 4

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

Second Round

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

Bolivia 0 - 2 Saudi Arabia

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

Israel 1 - 5 England


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

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

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

Denmark 0 - 2 Brazil


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

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


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

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


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

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

Third Place Playoff

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

Uruguay 2018 World Cup Final

Austria v Argentina


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

Team News

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

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

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

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

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

First Half

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

Second Half

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

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

Final score: Austria 1 - 2 Argentina


2018 World Champions



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

Team of the Tournament:

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

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

Selected Managerial News

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Updated FIFA World Rankings

There was a request for the FIFA World Rankings in the other thread, so I'll post it here as well with the pic (showing the top 27) as a link instead.


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

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2018/19 - Young Boys

June to July - Pre-season


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

July to August - A promising start

Swiss Super League

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

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

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

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

Thun 0 - 0 Young Boys

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

P6 W1 D4 L1 F7 A7 GD0 CS1

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

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

September - No time to panic yet

Swiss Super League

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

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

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

P3 W0 D2 L1 F2 A3 GD-1 CS1

Swiss Cup 1st Round

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

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

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

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

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

October to December - Stopping the rot

Swiss Super League

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

P9 W1 D3 L5 F10 A15 GD-5 CS2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Winter Break

League Table (after 18 games)

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

P18 W2 D9 L7 F19 A25 GD-6 CS4

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

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

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

I am sacked.

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

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

So this is the end of the questionable topic titles.

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January 2018 - Rebuilding Both Our Reputations

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

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

Valenciennes FC

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

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

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


Transfer: £1.75m

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

League and Cups

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

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

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


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

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

Club History - Rebuilding A Destroyed Reputation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Stade Nungesser

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


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

The strikers and defenders look particularly good.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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January 2019 to May 2019 - Valenciennes

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

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


January to April - A Great First Impression


French Cup



10th Round

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

11th Round

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


Ligue 1



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


April to May - Giving Everyone A Chance With Safety Confirmed


Ligue 1



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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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


Final League Table - Ligue 1 (France)

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

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

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

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

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

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

So I accepted:

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

And I began my squad review...

Edited by git2thachoppa

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2018/19 Recap - Club Football

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

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

2018 Awards

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

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

European Cups

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

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

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

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

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


Premier League

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

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

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

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

Domestic Cups

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

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

Football League

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


Belgium did it again.

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

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


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


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


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

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

Other News

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

On 05/12/2017 at 12:31, oche balboa said:

Enjoyed reading this 

Thank you, sire.

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2018/19 Recap - International Football

2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup

It was an exciting tournament!

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

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

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

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

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

Colombia 2019 Copa América

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

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

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

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

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

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

2019 Bahrain Asian Cup


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

Maldives qualified for their first Asian Cup.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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2019 Post/Pre-Season - Valenciennes

Squad Review


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

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

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

Charrier - Cannes (Ligue 2) - Free

Guimard - Aston Villa (Championship) - £1.1m


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

I made 2 free transfer signings for the summer.

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

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

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

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

Total Out: £5.95m
Total in:


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

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

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

Friendly Results

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



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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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