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[FM15] noikeee goes East - A CSKA Sofia career(s?)

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Hello. My name is noikeee. You may know me from a series of previous careers on this forum (last one being this). I am back, and I've gone East.
 
 
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Quick Q&A:
 
- Hey, FM15? What's up with that?
 
- I'm fed up to death with FM16. The regens p*ss me off. I can't deal with the tactics. The matches take a glacial age to go through even on the quickest setting. I enjoyed FM15 much more so why not go back?
 
- Why Eastern Europe? What's the concept behind this thread this time? Is there a particular gimmick?
 
- Well it's the typical "Behind the Curtain" type of save, of which there's been loads over the years in this forum, although I've never done one myself! Eastern Europe has always been a region that fascinated me in FM, I think it's the whole nostalgia of the pre-Berlin-Wall-fall times when the Eastern Europe sides sounded scary and were a match for anyone in European competitions. Don't get me wrong I am most definitely NOT nostalgic for those times in terms of politics, before anyone feels offended, this is purely football not politics. It's also always a bigger challenge to get these sides performing, compared to the leagues where there's money.
 
I am going to follow a very particular gimmick which is to only sign players from Eastern Europe nationalities.
 
- Why Bulgaria and CSKA Sofia?
 
Well, for a start I've never managed in Bulgaria and always wanted to. CSKA Sofia seems a good fit for what I want - they're a nostalgic-sounding historical club, but I don't recall anyone on this forum specifically managing them, unlike others like Red Star, Steaua etc. I also wanted to start at a relatively high level unlike at the very bottom like usual, because it won't be many months before FM17 is out so I want a bit of an headstart, but going straight into the very biggest sides like Shakhtar, Dynamo Kiev, Zenit etc would be too easy.
 
Also the Bulgarian league has decent rules for foreigners as it's part of the EU so all EU nationalities are free (which includes a few elligible nationalities, more on this on a moment); and I can pick another 3 non-EU players in the match squad (I was under impression I could have more than that, which would've been a plus...).
 
- So what counts as Eastern European then?
 
- Geography teachers, please look away now. I am going to consider every nation that was part of the Eastern Bloc, as in, former Soviet nation or USSR-aligned countries, and also all former Yugoslavian nations. Yes I do realise this includes a lot of countries that are more commonly included geographically as Central Europe such as Czech Republic or Hungary. And also excludes Greece or Turkey which are way out to the East by comparison.
 
- But is this a one-club save or are you just starting out at CSKA Sofia?
 
- Eh, no idea really. I don't think I've ever done a one-club save on this forum, they all end up being journeymans, and also I've gotten bored in the past in smaller leagues, specially after dominating them, so don't be shocked if I move at some point. But currently there are no plans to do so.
 
- How realistic are you going to play the game?
 
- Not very. I am going to use my 4-4-2 wide diamond tactics heavily influenced by Dafuge's, that gave me stupid success with Kayserispor and Lyon in my previous FM15 career. This tends to result in goals. Like, absurd, ridiculous loads of goals. A normal day at the office sees a 4-2 or a 5-3 scoreline.
 
- What's the ultimate goal?
 
- I want to bring the Champions League home to a Eastern European club with a team composed exclusively of Eastern European players. Nothing else will be considered challenge complete.
Edited by noikeee

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CSKA Sofia takeover - initial situation
 
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I'm a bit lazy to do my regular fullblown overview of the club, the stadium, the city etc, what I can say about CSKA Sofia is that they've won the Bulgarian league 31 times - not bad, but haven't won it since 2008 - the Bulgarian cup 11 times and the Bulgarian supercup 4 times. So we're talking a mammoth club domestically here.
 
Internationally, the club's highest points were 2 presences in the old European Champions Cup semi-finals, in 1966-1967 and 1981-1982, and on the same stage of the Cup Winners' Cup in 1988-1989. Essentially, this is a club that's not been relevant in the European competitions for about 25 years, which is normal given how rubbish the Bulgarian league currently is.
 
We don't appear to be in a particulary terrible financial position, with 1,39M€ in the bank, a wage budget of 209K€/month (it's under control, we're spending 178K€/month) and a transfer budget of a mere 82K€ (that's not so nice). However, we have about 3,24M€ of debt.
 
 

Squad


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So this is the lot I'm managing. I'm not giving myself a permanent timeframe to get rid of all the non-Eastern-European players but I'm going to start by transfer listing them all, and I'm sure it'll take a bit until I've reworked the whole squad. It'll be painful to lose players such as winger Platini (lol) which is our best player outright, but that's the challenge.
 
These are the best players on the squad I'm considering elligible:
 
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Jakub Divis (GK) - Keeper seems to be sorted then. Quality 27 year old Czech goalie.
 
Tonci Kukoc (DL / ML) - Good Croatian left-back, although he seems to be more of a physical player than a particularly clever or technically gifted defender. One for the long-term as he's aged 23.
 
Boris Galchev (DM, MC) - My tactics rely on a no-nonsense player capable of holding the midfield on his own and he seems like a very, very good fit for the role other than lacking a little in pace and jumping.
 
Ivan Stoyanov (AMR / MR, AMLC) - I think he'll be the creative soul of the side. Expect great things of him down the right wing.
 
Please notice for my purposes I'm not considering players who are very obviously born outside of Eastern Europe and naturalized to play for Bulgaria or whoever else. This means midfielder Marquinhos, capped for Bulgaria, has to go. I'm not nationalistic in the slightest in real life and have no problems whatsoever with him putting on the Bulgaria shirt, but sorry, these are the strict rules I'm following for my game.
 
 
Goals
 
I think it'll take a while until the squad settles with all the transfers I'm going to have to make. With the incoming revolution I don't think I can aim at any higher than the media prediction of 2nd, although I do have a vague hope of fighting for the title already. Wish me luck.

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Best of luck with this, fella. Nothing wrong with going back to previous versions... I'll be on 13 until my laptop dies!

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1 hour ago, withnail316 said:

Best of luck with this, fella. Nothing wrong with going back to previous versions... I'll be on 13 until my laptop dies!

Thanks, I do definitely need a bit better luck, just yesterday I already got FM crashing on me whilst I was fiddling with tactics, I'm going to have to go back to the beginning of pre-season again... :mad: Thankfully all I'd done was 3 signings, nothing massive.

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Bulgaria, very interesting - we don't see many folk out there. I'll be following along as you're firmly in my Eastern European niche, good luck with CSKA!

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2014/2015 - Pre-season - CSKA Sofia
 
GvLXgQv.png
 
 
 
Transfers
 
 
With not enough time to scout Eastern Europe thoroughly, and with a lot of players to replace, this transfer window was mostly about signing players in sheer numbers to fill in the rest of the squad, mostly on free transfers - hopefully in the future I'll get to improve the squad with more quality and less quantity. 9 players were signed: left-back Tadej Apatic, right-backs Plamen Krumov and Radoslav Dimitrov; left-winger Daniel Stana; right-winger Mirnes Sisic; attacking midfielder Emil Gargorov (probably our highest profile signing, a classy veteran who joins for his 4th spell for CSKA Sofia!); and forwards Aleksandar Noskovic, Georg Iliev (a 19yo kid on loan from Bolton who signed him from ourselves recently) and Miroslav Antonov (the only paid transfer of the window - I've kinda regretted it already, he's not that good).
 
Unfortunately I haven't been able to get much money from the foreigners I tried to get rid of. Only defensive midfielder Sunny was outright sold by 1.1M€ to Guingamp; whilst players such as Platini, Juan Felipe and Aurélien Joachim were sent away on paid loans. Others are languishing in the Under 21 team until I find a solution for them.
 
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Pre-season friendlies
 
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A decent pre-season bar the bad days vs Luzern and Panaitolikos.
 
 
 
Europa League
 
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We're in the earlier stages of the Europa League, and so far so good. We struggled to score vs Finnish side Honka until a 89th minute penalty goal; and on the return leg to Finland we opened a clear early lead of 3-0 only for them to claim 2 goals back. We were no longer clear favourites vs Irony Kiryat-Shmona of Israel but somewhat luckily we beat them 2-0 on the first leg which gives us a nice buffer for the trip to Israel next week.
 
 
"A" PFG
 
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And this is where it's gone wrong. I thought I was well into a nice debut in the Bulgarian league when we scored our first goal within the very first 5 minutes. Ha ha - not so fast. By the 20th minute Beroe were winning 1-3 and 1-4 by half-time - including a nice initiation into the world famous widespread corruption in this region of the globe, as we conceded 3 goals from penalty kicks (!!!). It ended a 2-5 home defeat. And it's not like the trip to Plovdiv next went any better, with another defeat although we probably deserved something more in this match - not a particularly great start to the league is it?
 
 
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Summary
 
Turns out I might've underestimated the challenge a little here, by quickly getting rid of all the foreigners and going straight into a full Eastern European side from the very first match. It's working out well in Europe but the start to the league has been alarming.
 
I have 100% full confidence on the tactics, and I reckon this lot is still learning them and gelling together, so hopefully there's more performance to come then; also in future transfer windows I might improve the squad much more than I was able to here - the goal for now with the limited quality of players is just to avoid a meltdown and keep my job.

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Rough start. You aren't helped with the season starting so early with all your new signings, so maybe the players will take to your new tactics in a few weeks.

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On 01/08/2016 at 16:29, deltablue said:

It can only get better from that start.

I've only played a few more matches, but it has gotten better! However given the very bad start my concern is if I don't quickly climb to a place approaching the pre-season media prediction of 2nd, I might start getting pressure on my back from the board and the fans.

Tbh I'm not aiming at anything this season, I just want to avoid the sack for now, the real progress begins when I can start shaping my team properly. This year it was too much of a rushed job to get rid of the foreigners and I didn't get to properly scout for quality to replace them.

On 01/08/2016 at 21:34, withnail316 said:

Rough start. You aren't helped with the season starting so early with all your new signings, so maybe the players will take to your new tactics in a few weeks.

Yeah it is stupid early. When I was setting up the game and chose the game start date it said, "Bulgaria (May 2014)"... May?! Now I get it...

 

This career will probably be on hold for a few days, as I've got stuff to do and will travel on the weekend, I'm probably back next week.

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2014/2015 - Mid-season update - CSKA Sofia
 
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Transfers
 
A 18 year-old Polish centre-back, Karol Hallmann, has been signed on a free for the long-term future.
 
 
Europa League
 
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We took a two-goal lead back to Israel and qualification never seemed in danger as we were winning from minute 3, Stefan Nikolic netting a hat-trick. This put us however vs a much, much tougher opponent - Lyon. Whilst overcoming the French giants would qualify us for the Group Stage, the only goal here was not to get humiliated and I feel we achieved it. The first leg was relatively even and we had more chances whilst they got the only goal; in France we lost 2-0 and even if this time Lyon was the clearly better side we can still finish our Europa League campaign pretty happy with our performance.
 
 
Kupa Bulgaria
 
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The Bulgarian cup has started for us with an easy fixture vs 2nd tier's Septemvri Simitli. A 5-0 away win, whilst rotating most players, pretty much sums it up. We will continue against another theoretically weaker opponent, Spartak Pleven who are further down the Bulgarian footballing ladder.
 
 
"A" PFG
 
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The league start with 2 defeats in 2 became 3 defeats in 3 with a poor trip to neighbours Levski, although, again, we had been unlucky. I was starting to wonder what exactly had I signed up to by choosing CSKA, however we then started a remarkable turnaround. We did not always convince on the pitch but went on a wonderful sequence of 7 wins in a row, and by this point we were catching up leaders Ludogorets and Litex, whom we beat in September, and we were now up to 3rd in the table.
 
However the home match vs Litex was only the first in a sequence of difficult fixtures, and a loss to leaders Ludogorets finished our run, followed by another loss to Beroe which meant they passed us for 3rd. I expected to bounce back vs Botev Plovdiv but unfortunately this marked a 3rd defeat in a row and Botev passed us too as we dropped back to 5th.
 
 
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Summary
 
A stunning recovery has suddenly given way to renewed doubts - I don't believe 5th place is a good enough season for us as we should be mixing up with the leaders. A title challenge seems out of reach, so, again, the aim is merely to retain my job and at very least qualify for Europe (Bulgaria currently puts 1 team in the Champions League and another 3 in the Europa League), maybe try to get a cup run going on as well.
Edited by noikeee

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2014/2015 - Youth intake - CSKA Sofia
 
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A brilliant first intake!
 
Ivan Papazov - This lad looks like a massive prospect and by far my favourite of this lot. Massively gifted technically, with decent physicals, and a great personality, my only concern is a determination attribute of 1 - I can tutor it away but I don't want to lose his professionalism.
 
Emilian Koev - Another strong prospect, he's looking a bit unbalanced as of now but might one day claim the AM role in my squad.
 
Zdravko Ivanov - Promising but we've got loads of centre-backs and I need a substantial improvement on the physicals, also not feeling a concentration of 2 and an aggression of 4

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2014/2015 - Late-in-the-season update - CSKA Sofia
 
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Transfers
 
 
Having had better luck finding good Bosman-rule targets for next season, than the immediate reinforcements my squad needed, I kind of panicked in the last week of transfer window and splashed 150K€ on Czech attacking midfielder Martin Jindracek without fully scouting him. I remain unconvinced this was a good idea.
 
Meanwhile I managed to get rid of 2 of the remaining non-Eastern-European players that were doing nothing in the Under 21s, Marquinhos and Edenilson, it was nice to at least get a small fee for them otherwise they'd go on a free at the end of the year.
 
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Kupa Bulgaria
 
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The tie vs minnows Spartak Pleven was far closer than it should've been. We barely won the first leg with a 85th minute winner, then at home we suffered the humiliation of having gone a goal down twice, before I had to pull our top scorer Stefan Nikolic out of the bench to fix everything with a hat-trick. This puts us in the quarter-finals vs Lokomotiv Sofia who are our first fellow "A" PFG side we meet here, but we should be able to beat them.
 
 
 
"A" PFG
 
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This is kind of a repeating pattern. We finished the sequence of difficult matches vs Levski with our first draw of the season (weirdly we had either won or lost every single match so far), but then had far more joy when the fixtures vs easier sides came our way, with another long unbeaten run, this time only briefly marked by an unexpected draw at home with Marek, as we came back from a lenghty winter break from mid-December to late February.
 
However, again, when the tough matches came up, we crapped ourselves. In a classic match at Litex's home, we were winning 3-2 and on the verge of overtaking them on the table, but let it slip with a winner coming in the 92nd minute for Litex. A very similar thing followed when we hosted leaders Ludogorets - we held on to a 0-0 all match but another 92nd minute winner came their way. This puts us in a no-mans land in 4th with a buffer to the teams above us and below us, when we could've been up there with Litex and Beroe fighting for 2nd, had these 2 matches gone our way.
 
 
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Summary
 
This is slightly better but still not good enough. We are losing far too many matches vs the better sides, that's particularly concerning because the league splits starting now (which is why I'm posting an update at this point of the season, mid-March), this means from now on we'll play only the other sides on the top 6. I think I'm well clear of the sack, but if we keep on repeating this form vs Ludogorets, Litex, Beroe, I might get into serious trouble.

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jZttK0E.jpg

 

This is proving difficult. I now need to get 8 points in the next 5 matches to save my job. Given the way things have been going lately I'm a bit skeptical of this, but will give it my best shot.

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2014/2015 - End of season update - CSKA Sofia
 
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"A" PFG
 
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I feared for the worst when the league split, knowing we always did badly against good teams, and my fears were well founded - we were immediately thrashed 4-1 by Botev Plovdiv, couldn't get anything more than a 1-1 draw at home vs Levski, and were soundly beaten 2-0 when visiting leaders Ludogorets. We tanked to 5th and my board issued me an ultimatum of get 10 points in the next 5 matches or you're sacked, which I managed to negotiate to 8 points in 5 matches.
 
I thought I was done but it turns out I could've even accepted the 10 points deal. A couple of minor tactical switches and the team finally clicked, as we beat Litex, Beroe, Botev, and then put on a spectacular show demolishing Levski 5-0 away. 4 wins in a row and we were back up to 3rd and recovering. I figured I could use a rotated side vs Ludogorets to prepare for a cup match (more on that in just a minute) without too much drama, well we were humbled 4-1 and the board called me for a meeting again asking for justifications. I told them I had rotated my team, they were unconvinced by my explanation, but didn't sack me. We finished the season beating the 2 next best teams in Bulgaria, Litex and Beroe, and clinched 3rd, but I remain "insecure" despite having signed a new contract.
 
 
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Kupa Bulgaria
 
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It was an unconvincing 1st leg in the quarter-finals as we let Lokomotiv Sofia draw the match after we had pulled a lead, but on the return leg we put an excellent performance to beat them 3-0 and book a place in the semi-finals vs Litex. That would make for 2 spectacularly open matches. On the trip to Lovech we beat them 3-2, and on the return they opened a lead twice only for us to draw both times, despite us being severely outplayed that day. This meant we had made the final.
 
Unfortunately the opponents were Ludogorets, who seemed almost unbeatable all season. Despite being conditioned by a 4-1 defeat to Ludogorets themselves just a few days earlier in the league, we were on top of our game this time and held them off for 105 minutes in an even game, but they scored just as the extra time 2nd half started. However, we had a penalty kick minutes later and Denys Prychynenko, who had taken 8 penalties this season and missed zero, scored again. When the game went to penalties I obviously chose Prychynenko to take the first, but this time he surprisingly missed, and so did Ivan Stoyanov. Ludogorets missed none, and they won the league/cup double.
 
 
 
 
 
Summary
 
A stressful end to the season saw me dodge the sack multiple times, and indeed I am yet still in danger. Ultimately I'd say that, given the extra handicap I'm giving myself (to only sign and play Eastern European players), this wasn't too terrible a debut season with a 3rd place close to Litex, a cup final and a decent showing in Europe. However, CSKA is under pressure to fight for the title, and having spent a lot of the season in lower positions in the league table, and having been beaten heavily a couple of times, all of this understandably didn't make the board and fans very happy. I remain however convinced this was the first step on the right path to a successful career in Bulgaria.

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2014/2015 - Season review - CSKA Sofia

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I have decided to do season reviews a little differently from usual, focusing more on my players, given that I'm leaning towards this becoming a one-club-only save. I've been inspired by Abulezz's wonderful all-youth career with Kafra, and whilst my challenge is nowhere near as daunting and my players aren't all youth products, it's particularly interesting to read about each player individually in his career, so why not try to do the same in here?
 
 
 
Tactics
 
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First, a quick word on tactics. Having a settled, tried-and-proven (in a previous career) tactic ready from the get-go, means I won't be talking much tactics this time. This is my 4-4-2 diamond from the Lyon days, which in turn was heavily based on Dafuge's setup he kindly shared back then. However, with a slow backline and a generally weak squad, I have been using the more measured "control" strategy version of it, rather than the usual "attacking" version. I then slightly tweaked this version as this was originally meant purely to manage matches that we were winning.
 
 
 
Finances
 
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Not very good as we lost loads of cash throughout the season. Looks as if there's not much money in Bulgarian football (how surprising).
 
 
 
Player statistics
 
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Starting eleven
 
GK: Jakub Divis (28, CZE) - Conceded loads of goals, but this is more a matter of the open tactics I use than any lack of goalkeeping ability. So far I am quite happy with Jakub for the immediate future.
 
DL: Tonci Kukoc (24, CRO) - I would've wished him to be slightly more technically gifted, but this is quite possibly the position in the whole starting 11 I am less concerned about at the moment. Young, EU national, quick, and not overpaid - I am hoping/guessing Tonci will be our left-back for years to come. Also got 6 assists which is okay.
 
DC: Apostol Popov (32, BUL) - It was tricky to settle on a centre-backs duo at the beginning of the season, as it seemed I had loads of options but none seemed the right mix of pace, aerial ability, general defensive and footballing skills, and age. Popov was quite possibly the best compromise between all of this, without being particularly great at any of it, but he's now starting to lose a yard of pace which is alarming for our high defensive line setup.
 
DC: Denys Prychynenko (23, UKR) - Unconvincing earlier in the season as he used to be our 12th player, an option that would come out of the bench to play either as centre-back or DM. However, he progressed amazingly in training throughout the year and also proved invaluable taking set pieces, most notably penalties, although he also scored an unbelievable free-kick from way far recently. This got him a total of 10 goals and by the end of the season he was a starting centre-back.
 
DR: Radoslav Dimitrov (26, BUL) - I hired both him and Plamen Krumov for the right-back position at the beginning of the season, expecting the more gifted Krumov to claim the place. It took me a long time to realize the quicker Dimitrov was the better option, but by now this is absolutely clear. Still, he is perhaps not quite of the standards I expect for the position and I have a new right-back lined up for next year.
 
DM: Boris Galchev (31, BUL) - Out of my diamond 100% made of players on the wrong side of 30, Boris is the one of the 4 where I had a less immediate need of replacement. After all he is the youngest of the 4 and he is a fine player, with a nice 7.12 average rating this season - but I have found an even better DM in the market that is signed up for next year, I hope we will give us an edge as this is a critical position in my system, holding up the midfield on his own. I also hope he'll get less yellow cards as Boris picked up 19(!!!) this season.
 
ML: Daniel Stana (32, ROM) - A slightly disappointing signing, that was however still clearly the best option for the position, and got a lot better as the season went on, still finishing on a decent 7.07 average rating, with 3 goals and 8 assists. I feel as if the winger positions at the moment are the most urgently needing an upgrade in the whole squad.
 
MR: Mirnes Sisic (33, SVN) - A surprise performer, as I expected Ivan Stoyanov to be the king of the right-winger position, but the veteran Slovenian took advantage of a couple of injuries to Ivan to claim the position, and he went on a brilliant sequence of goalscoring at a point of the year - indeed 8 goals is a great return for someone that would also miss a lot of the season with injuries later. This however might've finished him for good as he's lost the last inch of pace he had. I now have a serious problem in the right-winger position, as Stoyanov might've gotten better meanwhile, but still isn't at the required level neither.
 
AMC: Emil Gargorov (34, BUL) - For whatever reason the average rating isn't great, but I still rate my decision to re-sign the veteran Emil for a 4th stint with the club, a clear success. There's no doubt that taking the set pieces, and/or being able to pass a lot of square balls to my duo of forwards inflates his assists numbers, but still: 20 assists!!! Unfortunately he's the oldest guy in my whole squad and I don't know for how much longer can he keep up at this level.
 
ST: Georg Iliev (20, BUL) - From the oldest to the youngest in my starting 11, and also another player that I hired to return to CSKA - in this case, loaned by Bolton to his previous club. This kid had patches of bad form but when he was on it, he was clearly one of our better players and would end up picking up the Young Player of the Year award. 14 goals and 9 assists, and I can only hope I can renew his loan.
 
ST: Stefan Nikolic (25, MNE) (Player of the season) - When I sold off all the non-Eastern-Europeans, I was a little apprehensive I lacked an edge upfront, but I did not count with the poacher from Montenegro being capable of having such a spectacular season. With 30 goals total, he became top scorer in both the league and the cup. Nikolic is one of our 4 non-EU players currently (the others being winger Nemanja Milisavljevic, young midfielder Ivan Markovic and forward Aleksandar Noskovic), and he's by far the only of them really justifying such a status, as we're only allowed to field 3 non-EU players in the match squad.
 
 
 
Other notable players and future prospects
 
Ivan Markovic (20, SRB) - According to Wikipedia the Bulgarian media dub him "the Serbian Neymar". Unfortunately any ambitions to emulate the Brazilian star were severely hindered by a knee ligaments injury that stopped him from playing until after the Winter break. When he came back I gave him the responsibility of being 1st backup to Emil Gargorov, but he didn't quite correspond and I'm now unsure whether to keep on betting on him as he's filling one of our non-EU slots. He's still one of our better prospects, though.
 
Pol Aleksandrov (19, BUL) - A promising left-winger that I promoted to the main squad this season, but I wasn't too convinced that he's ready for it yet. In pressure for immediate results I ended up not giving him as much playing time as he probably needed.
 
Ivan Papazov (16, BUL) - The star from this year's youth intake, also on the left-winger position. He remains in urgent need of tutoring to up his determination skills without ruining his professional personality, but I don't have any older player that properly suits this need.
 
 
 
Career progress table
 
Season   League           Cup               Europe
----------------------------------------------------------------------
14/15    3rd ("A" PFG)    Finalists         Europa League Playoff     
Edited by noikeee

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9 hours ago, deltablue said:

Hopefully it can pick up from here.

If I can survive this period - the board just called me for another meeting, after the new season has started, merely to explain Martin Jindracek's flop signing - then I'm quite confident it can only get better.

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2014/2015 - Fans awards - CSKA Sofia

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A nearly identical starting 11 to mine although they chose Valentin Iliev over Apostol Popov as centre-back; I am however surprised at Boris Galchev being picked as player of the season, I would've thought Nikolic's goals made him a certainty and Galchev's cards a liability in the eyes of the fans.

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On 17/08/2016 at 12:23, withnail316 said:

Ah, but fans love players who get stuck in, regardless of the cards...

I literally have to take him off at half-time every other match. :D

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2015/2016 - Pre-season - CSKA Sofia
 
GvLXgQv.png
 
 
 
Transfers
 
 
2 regular starting players have left us: I was unable to renew the loan of talented young forward Georg Iliev, who now has first team commitments for Bolton; and I decided to sell veteran winger Mirnes Sisic as his abilities were fading fast, despite a good season last year.
 
These high-profile departures did not help us financially, but selling four unwanted players did - I was finally able to sell the remaining non-Eastern-Europeans (Platini, Juan Felipe, Aurélien Joachim and Toni Silva) for relatively large sums, as we received a total income from sales of around 3.8M€. Unfortunately, the squad doesn't understand my nationalities project and there were plenty of complains about the sale of Platini. I also got rid of a duo of underwhelming Serbians to free up non-EU slots, namely Nemanja Milisavljevic (I'm so glad I don't have to spell him anymore) and Aleksandar Noskovic (I'm so glad I don't have to pay his wages anymore); and sold backups Maksims Uvarenko (goalkeeper) and Tadej Apatic (left-back). Of course everyone also got annoyed with the sale of the "key player" Apatic, who played just 9 matches last season...
 
Onto the signings. The 2 really big ones were the guys I had been lining up on Bosmans for a few months: defensive midfielder Ádam Vass, who looks brilliant but has been out so far with injury, and Josip Jurendic who's originally a midfielder but whom I'm looking to play more as a right-back. Matej Podlogar arrives on loan as the new right-winger; and upfront, veteran Marius Niculae on a short-term contract is the closest thing I could get to a replacement for Georg Iliev, although youngster Tsvetelin Chunchukov on loan from Botev Plovdiv is another option. Other signings were new left-winger Nikolay Dimitrov, backup keeper Veselin Tsvetkovski, and a duo of backup Romanians, Alexandru Tiganasu for the left-back position and Razvan Tincu for centre-back/DM.
 
 
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Pre-season friendlies
 
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Just 3 friendlies as we entered European competitions stupidly early - the first pair of friendlies were so early they still counted as part of last season. Poor Nitra.
 
 
 
Europa League
 
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It was a dream start to the season as we travelled to Estonia to annihilate Flora 7-0, we obviously had no problems advancing after that and beat them 3-0 on the way back. However the next draw wasn't as kind as we had to face Aberdeen who I reckon are about our level (I remember last year at this stage we faced some random team from Israel). In a strange match Aberdeen shot a lot more than us but we had the better chances, and it eventually ended 1-1 - not good as it gave them the away goal. But luck smiled to us in the return leg in Scotland. Our new Slovenian winger Matej Podlogar nicked a goal in the very beginning and somehow we held on to it for the rest of the match, despite it being a very open contest.
 
Just like last year we were paired against a French team for the playoff, this time Bordeaux. I didn't fancy my chances but our new backup keeper Veselin Tsvetkovski (given a rare start with Jakub Divis injured) shone as he kept out a handful of Bordeaux misses as we won the first leg in Bulgaria 2-1. It was still a dangerous scoreline to bring over to France, but advancing now looked realistic when Stefan Nikolic got the first goal in the 8th minute. Bordeaux tied immediately, but we desperately held on to the aggregate advantage for the majority of the match, until Bordeaux finally killed us off with goals in minutes 74 and 81. We're out of Europe but I can be proud of the courage demonstrated by my players.
 
 
 
"A" PFG
 
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Unsurprisingly, having to juggle an early European campaign and a troubled pre-season off the pitch, resulted in a patchy start to the league again. We could only get a draw vs Beroe, and my board were now extremely impatient after last year's dodgy season and there were rumours in the press I'd get sacked if I couldn't get a result vs Botev Plovdiv next. Unfortunately, it was a disaster. Josip Jurendic, playing out of position at DM as plenty others were unavailable, saw a second yellow card just before half-time, and on the return Botev battered us 4-0, taking advantage of further injuries that saw us finish the match with 9 men.
 
I prepared to see the dreaded "you've been sacked" news item but weirdly it never came, not even after tying 3-3 at Levski in another bonkers match where we saw our DM sent off again, this time Denys Prychynenko playing on the position, but it was encouraging that we managed to still be competitive with just 10 men all match again. Given a kinder couple of fixtures next, Lokomotiv Sofia rattled us a bit but we turned that match around after half-time to win 3-1; and in an insane goalfest, we went to Montana to beat them 6-3. This means the slow start to the league season isn't as terrible as last year's and we're already climbing the league table.
 
ocoPFte.jpg
 
 
 
Superkupa
 
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Being threatened with the sack and having to face a crazy squad harmony meltdown, the last thing I needed was a fixture vs Ludogorets, who we played 5 times last year and didn't beat once. I braced myself fearing the worst, but weirdly it was a perfect day for us. We scored first in a penalty kick, then Ludogorets had a men sent off for a crazy tackle, and they bottled it after that as we scored another 3, so I lifted my first trophy in Bulgaria. CSKA SOFIA WIN THE BULGARIAN SUPERCUP!
 
 
 
Summary
 
This was by far the toughest pre-season I've ever had in any version of FM. If I survived this, I can survive an atomic bomb dropped off on our stadium. The problem was not so much our results, but the neverending wave of negativity that continued from last season and kept me on a "insecure" status, as it truly spiralled out of control.
 
It all started with the board calling me for a meeting to explain last season's poor decision to sign Jiracek. Then Nikolic annoyed at the sale of Platini. Nikolic unconvinced by my explanations. Then the squad annoyed at the treatment of Nikolic. Then Nikolic - our best player, remember - doubly annoyed as he wants to leave for a bigger club. Board calling me for a meeting to explain poor squad harmony. Too little preparation time with few friendlies as the european matches started so early. Squad still complains the pre-season started too soon. Fixtures congestion. Injuries, seemingly all to the DM position. Red cards, early in the matches, to the remaining DMs. Then suspensions. Players unregistered for Europe as I had to do all my signings very late, since I had to wait for other contracts to run out and players to leave. Youngsters complaining they want to go on loan. Rumours that if I have a bad result next match I'm sacked. I lose 4-0 - and somehow stay. Back-up left-back Apatic asks to leave, and I sell him. Galchev annoyed at the sale of Apatic. Galchev unconvinced by my explanations. Squad annoyed at the treatment of Galchev. Prychynenko wants to leave for Legia who are in the Champions League. Time running out on my board promise to improve squad harmony (I seem somehow to have "suceeded" in this, though).
 
The surprise Supercup win upgraded my job status from "insecure" to "stable", and seems to have calmed the storm for now, but I'm still not 100% sure it's all over - a few of my players are still unhappy, and of course they just had to be exactly my star players like Nikolic, Galchev, Kukoc and Jurendic..
Edited by noikeee

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5 minutes ago, withnail316 said:

You're doing well to hang on in there. I'd have been tempted to walk with all that happening.

In a normal journeyman I probably would, but my intention at least for now is to make this a one-club save, and I've already done a bit of work here that would be annoying to lose and have to start from scratch in another club again.

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2015/2016 - Mid-season update - CSKA Sofia
 
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Kupa Bulgaria
 
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It wasn't a brilliant beginning to our cup campaign as we struggled to beat lower league Botev Galabovo by reasonable numbers despite scoring twice at the beginning of the match, but we're through to face another bunch of randoms from the depths of Bulgarian amateur football next.
 
 
 
"A" PFG
 
WWwOiy2.jpg
 
We looked as if continuing a convincing recovery in the league with a 3-0 win over Slavia Sofia, but a defeat to Cherno More came out of nowhere - turns out they're flying in the league this season. It took an extremely late goal to beat Marek as more concerning signs developed, but we survived that and again survived a trip to Litex with a very, very lucky 1-0 win. Eventually we ran out of get out of jail cards, and unsurprisingly were beaten by the current main force in Bulgarian football Ludogorets.
 
A trip to face Vereya looked the right fixture to come back from that defeat, but we just didn't turn up at all and were beaten 3-1. I was now very worried about the coming 2 matches vs Beroe and Botev Plovdiv, both good sides that should give us trouble and could even overtake us in the table, but weirdly this time we bossed both matches and won them pretty convincingly.
 
qKtO5BA.jpg
 
 
 
Summary
 
Frustration continues, as we look to have slightly improved from last season - we can now beat a couple sides that we always had trouble with; but on the other hand a handful of players STILL remain unhappy and this constantly drags us down to the point we sometimes don't turn up and lose to crap sides. Stefan Nikolic's goals have been notably absent as he has been missing training here and there, seemingly all because I sold our backup left-back, still. On a more positive note our centre-back Denys Prychynenko has been unstoppable, he's our team's top scorer on 8 goals already thanks to penalties, free kicks and headers.
 
I think eventually the squad will forget these silly problems, but until that happens we remain handicapped and with little chance of catching Ludogorets and surprise package Cherno more. It probably still won't be this season we bring back the title for CSKA's fans.
Edited by noikeee

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2015/2016 - Late-in-the-season update - CSKA Sofia
 
GvLXgQv.png
 
 
 
Transfers
 
 
January saw a clear out of a few players, I sold two guys I had signed myself last year and never did much for us, namely striker Miroslav Antonov (at a large financial loss - I'd paid 235K€ and he went for 31K€) and fullback/winger Plamen Krumov. The third player to get sold was Apostol Popov who used to be our starting centre-back just last season, but whose skills were diminishing dramatically with age.
 
In the other direction came two players for our forward line. Striker Stanislav Kostov looked a better signing 6 months ago when I arranged this transfer, he has potential but seems to have stalled his progress and is 24 already. But the real reinforcement is versatile teenager Antonio Vutov on loan from our parent club Udinese, it's the third time I had this transfer lined up but found better targets previously and cancelled it; this time he has been improving remarkably and can be an option for either the left-wing, attacking midfield, or both striker positions.
 
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Kupa Bulgaria
 
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It was a weird match vs minnows Svilengrad away, we reached half-time 0-0, then scored 4 in quick sucession, then still let them score 3 at the end. I'm not sure what was up with that but we performed a more regular 4-0 win at home on the return leg, putting us through to a quarter-final vs Marek, who are bottom of our league.
 
 
"A" PFG
 
DaHq0Zm.jpg
 
November started with a dodgy win over Levski and a unfair but costly 1-0 defeat at Lokomotiv with a 94th minute goal (!). We continued patchy as after beating Montana, could only get a draw at Slavia. This meant we had squandered two good oportunities for wins vs smaller sides, and now had to rise up a level to face the tougher teams.
 
But the neverending spiral of low morale was over by now. This gave us a push to beat the surprise league overperformers Cherno More 3-0. Marek were the next victims, and, after a looooong winter break, we successfully navigated a tough challenge by Levski too, turning the match around with 3 late goals, to make it three wins in a row. More importantly, and a bigger factor than our own results, all the teams around us were melting down, and we were now up to joint 1st with Ludogorets!
 
But we had to face Ludogorets next. It was, again, a squandered opportunity - they were just that little bit stronger and beat us even after we had equalized. A win over Vereya closed the regular league season as we enter the decisive final 10 matches in a spectacularly tight battle with Ludogorets, Litex and Cherno More.
 
 
hygfEpi.jpg
 
 
Summary
 
Not having half the squad unhappy does help, doesn't it. It's not actually reflected in a huge improvement in our results, but a sequence of failings by both Ludogorets and Cherno More have thrown us firmly into a title battle, together with the resurgent Litex. I reckon Ludogorets still have that extra quality none of us others have, but anything can happen in the 10 remaining fixtures - will we bring the title back to Sofia, finish a respectable 2nd, an average 3rd, or a crappy 4th?
Edited by noikeee

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2015/2016 - Youth intake - CSKA Sofia
 
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Looks like another quite good intake.
 
 
Kiril Penkov - Very, very promising centre-back but is quite slow and needs to improve on that ASAP as I play a high line, pressing game. I believe he's the best prospect of this bunch.
 
Stoyan Nikolov - Really strong physicals, but I'd rather have strong technicals and mediocre physicals, than the other way around like this in a AMC like him.
 
Miroslav Penchev - Only 2+1 stars of potential and rather unimpressive starting skills for a keeper, but I'm delighted with a "model professional" personality!

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2015/2016 - End of season update - CSKA Sofia
 
GvLXgQv.png
 
 
 
Transfers
 
 
There was still time this season to pick-up 17 year old Lithuanian fullback Emilijus Jankauskas. Obviously, one for the future rather than an immediate addition to the squad.
 
 
 
"A" PFG
 
ue3whYv.jpg
 
The final championship group couldn't have started any worse. A fixture away at Ludogorets looked like a daunting start, but even then I'd never imagine the massive beating we took - 6-0 defeat, partly due to a red card to Stefan Nikolic. We got in an even worse position when we lost to Lokomotiv Sofia, again playing with 10. Ludogorets took a sudden clear advantage at the top of the table over everyone else, and they wouldn't lose it again.
 
We bounced back. Litex and Cherno More were beaten (conveniently as these were our two closest challengers), but we again faltered vs Levski. On the return match vs Ludogorets this time we surprisingly won 2-0 and got revenge for the 6-0 defeat. But consistency clearly wasn't one of our traits on this final stretch of the season and we lost to Lokomotiv again. We were now level on points with Litex for 2nd.
 
... which meant a 3-2 win over Litex themselves next, in an enjoyable open match, was very handy. We could've clinched 2nd in the penultimate match vs Cherno More, but struggled to even draw, so the decision over 2nd place was taken over to the final day. We were again unconvincing but Litex lost their own match so we took 2nd.
 
 
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Kupa Bulgaria
 
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In the cup, Marek didn't prove much of a problem. We beat them 2-0 with a rare Tsvetelin Chunchukov brace even after we were down to 10 men, and confirmed it on the way back, again with 10 men. Feeling overconfident I rotated my side vs Cherno More for the semi-finals 1st leg. It was a disaster, 1-2 defeat and now we needed a small miracle on the return match. Thankfully Denys Prychynenko had two penalty kicks, and as usual he put them both in.
 
We were through to the final, to face Ludogorets (who else) just like last year. They were dangerous but we were inspired this time, particularly veteran forward Marius Niculae who scored and assisted Daniel Stana for the second; and midfielder Ádám Vass with a rare splendorous exhibition. CSKA SOFIA WIN THE BULGARIAN CUP!!
 
 
 
 
 
Summary
 
This is slow progress, but progress, and as such satisfactory. It was unfortunate that Ludogorets found their better form in the league and gave us no chance, but 2nd in the league is better than 3rd, and winning the cup is better than losing the final, so we did better than last year.
 
There are more promising signs with a huge crippling debt about to be fully paid by the end of this season, although my squad has issues that I'm yet to figure out how to address, as you'll see when I go over the season review. Nevertheless the general feeling right now is positive and I think we're slowly moving forward.

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2nd and the cup is an excellent season, well done. Getting that debt out the way can only be a good thing, too. 

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2015/2016 - Season review - CSKA Sofia
 
GvLXgQv.png
 
 
 
Finances
 
FKdaBRN.jpg
 
Oh my god, the balance is still positive! Granted, this was thanks to massive sales of excedentary players at the beginning of the season, which gave us a 3.8M€ profit. All of those millions are gone now. But, there's great news as all those loans are finally running out next month. We'll still leak money, but at a much, much slower rate now.
 
The board at the moment is investing in a 1M€ training facilities update I requested. I had already requested the same last year, but it was cancelled at the last moment due to lack of funding then. Let's hope the same won't happen again.
 
 
 
Player statistics
 
RC5gOyP.jpg
 
 
 
Starting eleven
 
GK: Jakub Divis (29, CZE) - A slightly better season from my reliable Czech goalie as he improved last year's 6.81 AR into a 6.93 AR, also conceding less goals and making more clean sheets. Contract has been renewed for 2 more seasons.
 
DL: Tonci Kukoc (25, CRO) - Another player whose ratings have improved (from 7.09 to 7.21), indeed this makes him one of the most consistent players of the season, and whose contract has been renewed for 2 more years too. Definitely very happy with him.
 
DC: Denys Prychynenko (24, UKR) (Player of the season) - A spectacular season from the Ukranian centre-back, with the highest ratings in the whole squad (7.24) and a scarcely believable 13 goals which almost made him top scorer for us, albeit 7 of them came from penalties (but someone needs to be good at taking them and he's brilliant). I am trying quite desperately to renew his contract, as he only has one more year on it, and spent the whole season unhappy he wanted to move to a Champions League club - but has now suddenly stopped being unhappy so maybe I have a chance.
 
DC: Valentin Iliev (35, BUL) - The other centre-back, however, is a problem position. Apostol Popov who was the starter last year, was losing pace at such a rate he was dropped off the team at the beginning of the season and sold in the winter. In came the even older Valentin Iliev who remarkably kept up physically as well as he could, and disguised his shortcomings in there with plenty other excellent qualities, but he's now starting to feel the effects of age too and has decided to retire at the end of this season. I've recently been rotating him with the less talented (but much younger) Ventsislav Vasilev, but a new centre-back will be arriving soon.
 
DR: Josip Jurendic (29, CRO) (New signing) - A relatively successful signing, Josip arrived at the beginning of the season as a midfielder but I already knew I was going to play him almost exclusively as full-back. He offered us pretty much what I expected which is reliable form most season. However, a slight dip later in the year tanked his ratings to just below 7.00. Still, one of our better players at the moment.
 
DM: Ádám Vass (27, HUN) (New signing) - An enigma. I signed him despite having fan favourite Boris Galchev for this place, because not only he was younger and great value for money as a really talented player on a free transfer, he also looked a better fit for what I want in the DM position, with more accurate tackling, better aerial abilities, and generally just as forceful/aggressive as Boris was. Yet his ratings were slightly disappointing, finishing the season on an average of 7.00. Still, I feel more assured with him on the pitch at least on the cards front, as he "only" picked up 13 yellow cards this season, compared to Boris' 19 last year.
 
ML: Daniel Stana (33, ROM) - Suddenly unhappy missing home in Romania, his contract is about to run out, and I doubt I'll miss him. His performances dipped from last season, as he went from a 7.07 AR to a 6.91 AR, and also got just 6 goals and 5 assists, which I don't think is enough for a winger in my system. Unfortunately the other options weren't better as teenager Antonio Vutov was a pretty bad flop loan signing, and Nikolay Dimitrov never convinced me neither.
 
MR: Matej Podlogar (25, SVN) (New signing) - A surprise performer! I didn't expect much from this winger who looked very complete but not spectacular in anything, yet he proved a very reliable goalscorer, dipping in with 13 goals. I am most definitely happy with him and will try to renew his loan.
 
AMC: Emil Gargorov (35, BUL) - Getting on a bit and his league performances in particular were very poor, but for now there's no clear replacement, and I renewed his contract for yet 1 more season. Could only get 9 assists after last season's spectacular 20 assists number. The last few matches of the season I ended up picking Martin Jindracek for the position instead, but he doesn't convince me neither.
 
ST: Marius Niculae (35, ROM) (New signing) - A better season than I expected from this veteran who was a bit of a desperate signing, as we tried to replace the departing Georg Iliev. Marius didn't convince me at first, but had a brilliant sequence of form in the middle of the season, helping him reach 10 goals in 24 appearances. I'm thinking to renew his contract although he'll be 36 next year.
 
ST: Stefan Nikolic (26, MNE) - I expected better. This is a weird thing to say when he topped both our goals and assists numbers, but after a 30-goal season in 2015, I wanted far more than just 14 goals this year. He really went missing for most of the season. However, and I have no idea what's up with this, but despite playing on the poacher role, he decided he was going to suddenly start making loads of assists - 15 in total. Wants to leave to join Austria Wien now.
 
 
 
Other notable players and future prospects
 
Boris Galchev (32, BUL) - Last year's fan's player of the season is still in the squad although in my eyes Ádám Vass has overtaken him in the pecking order. I tried to adapt him to AMC just to find out a place for him in the starting 11, but unfortunately it wasn't a great success - he is indeed more suited to a destroyer role.
 
Ivan Markovic (21, SRB) - Absolutely no progress, dismal performances when called upon at AMC, several injuries, and wasting a non-EU spot (although together with Nikolic we only have 2 non-EU players at the moment, and it's less than a year until he can pick up Bulgarian nationality). I am very disappointed with him and wondering whether it's time to give up on him already.
 
Pol Aleksandrov (20, BUL) - Loaned out to Cherno More as per his demands, and although he didn't play much he's starting to come good. With the lack of decent options for left-winger I might have to give him a go next year.
 
Ivan Papazov (17, BUL) (2015 Youth) - Tutoring by Nikolay Dimitrov ruined his professional personality (is now "fairly ambitious") but fixed his dismal determination. It was the best I could do. He's developing nicely and could well be another proper option for the left-wing in a year or 2.
 
Kiril Penkov (16, BUL) (2016 Youth) - I have huge hopes for this season's youth star centre-back, but he needs to start improving on his dismal speed ASAP.
 
 
 
Career progress table
 
Season   League           Cup               Europe                      Other	
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------	
14/15    3rd ("A" PFG)    Finalists         Europa League Playoff       	
15/16    2nd ("A" PFG)    Winners           Europa League Playoff       Bulgarian SC winners

 

Edited by noikeee

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9 hours ago, withnail316 said:

2nd and the cup is an excellent season, well done. Getting that debt out the way can only be a good thing, too. 

 

1 hour ago, deltablue said:

Second and the cup is a bit better.

Cheers folks. Indeed it's a little better although we finished the league with 1 point less than last year - but we did much better vs our direct competitors, so had a hand in ruining their points totals.

I've just noticed I haven't talked about CSKA's bonkers situation in real life. In the season I took over (2014/2015), at the end CSKA were relegated to the 3rd tier(!) due to not paying all of these stupid debts/loans. But, Bulgarian football being Bulgarian football, just 1 year later, this June, they are now back to the top division. How? They merged with Litex Lovech - the club I've been often fighting with in this career for 2nd place -, renamed the whole thing "CSKA Sofia", effectively taking their place, whilst a new Litex was founded in the lower divisions. :D

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No wonder I couldn't find Litex in the top division when I checked Wikipedia.

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1 hour ago, DB08 said:

No wonder I couldn't find Litex in the top division when I checked Wikipedia.

It's completely bonkers, basically CSKA bought off their competitors spot in the league. :D

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2016/2017 - Pre-season - CSKA Sofia
 
GvLXgQv.png
 
 
 
Transfers
 
 
There was a bit of an uplanned clearout of veteran players. Valentin Iliev retired, Daniel Stana and Marius Niculae wouldn't renew their contracts, and Emil Gargorov was sold. So that's our 4 oldest starting players all gone. Other players of note to leave were Nikolay Dimitrov, Martin Jindracek, Ivan Stoyanov, Razvan Tincu, all uninteresting backup players sold for transfer fees, which is useful to our finances.
 
As for new faces, there are a few. The only player I paid a transfer fee for was Czech centre-back Roman Polom who looks a pretty good addition. The most recognisable name, however, is midfielder Nico Kranjcar of Croatian national team fame. Even better than him, for the same position, is teenager Robert Vílceanu who had a wonderful season last year on loan to our competitors Litex so I'm hoping he'll do the same for us this year.
 
With Stana gone we needed a new left-winger and whilst my staff don't rate him I'm quietly excited about Viorel Nicoara who's been doing quite well so far. For the other wing, "psycho eyes" Predrag Luka arrived on transfer deadline day. Upfront we had a few vacancies for strikers, hence I picked up two experienced Bulgarians - Kostadin Hazurov, who scored 5 goals on his first 2 matches for us, and Tsvetan Genkov.
 
Finally, I also picked up a couple of defenders who may not play much. Nikola Petkovic shall be a backup left-back (I briefly loaned a Romanian guy named Alin Tosca for the same position but terminated the loan quickly after finding Petkovic), and he can also play centre-back; for the same positions in comes Gordan Bunoza.
 
 
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Pre-season friendlies
 
I won't post about friendlies anymore, they're boring.
 
 
 
Europa League
 
VQrR1tc.jpg
 
It was a great start to the season as we beat Swedish side Hammarby 5-1, Viorel Nicoara and Kostadin Hazurov both scoring on their debuts, the latter twice. I could even field a few backups on the return leg and still beat them 2-1 again.
 
Next up were Partizan, bit of a tricky tie compared to previous seasons in this stage. We nevertheless put in a quality performance and were 3-0 up but disappointingly conceded 2 at the end of the match and this was a dodgy result to bring over to Belgrade. There, in an open match at both ends, we scored first for Partizan to immediately equalize, and we resisted for a long time fearing a 2nd goal. But Matej Podlogar scored again for us with 6 minutes to go and it was another win for us.
 
The playoff draw puts us vs Maribor which is very encouraging, as in previous seasons we were knocked out at this stage by Lyon and Bordeaux who were obviously much tougher.
 
 
 
"A" PFG
 
yUBynVz.jpg
 
I can't believe we actually started the league season with a win, and a convincing one, Kostadin Hazurov making an immediate impact with a hat-trick. Away draws at Botev and Levski next were not ideal, but still acceptable results given they're decent teams. We were highly unconvincing vs recently promoted Lokomotiv Gorna but nevertheless got the 3 points; and vs the other Lokomotiv from Sofia I could barely believe it as we utterly demolished them 6-0. All this puts us right up there still undefeated in the league.
 
 
GeNgFVV.jpg
 
 
 
Superkupa
 
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Having won the cup last year, we entered the Supercup again vs Ludogorets. I wanted to retain this trophy but Ludogorets, as always, are not easy opponents. They were very much the better side all match, and we did resist relatively well, but eventually they scored in the 85th minute and it was their turn to lift the trophy.
 
 
 
Summary
 
This has been a much, much better start to the season than the previous 2 years as we actually started the league on good form, and have also been doing well in Europe and have been blessed by a pleasing draw next. I'm also pleased with all the transfer dealings, and the finances are surprisingly improving week after week as I've not remotely approached the large wage budget my board gave me this time; so really, apart from the minor disappointment of the Supercup, it's a very positive vibe all round, which couldn't contrast any more to last season's starting chaos.

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Just saw your new save, and I love the detail you are putting in it! Good luck in Bulgaria - when do you think you will be trying to put Papazov in the starting eleven?

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11 hours ago, abulezz said:

Just saw your new save, and I love the detail you are putting in it! Good luck in Bulgaria - when do you think you will be trying to put Papazov in the starting eleven?

Thanks! I don't know when Papazov will be my #1 choice for the left-wing (if ever), as this isn't a youth challenge and I won't be playing him ahead of better performing players. However, he's already progressing a lot and I'm starting to think he might already be better than Aleksandrov who was supposed to be 3rd choice this season. So I'll probably start giving him some games here and there already this season.

10 hours ago, Deisler26 said:

Best of luck with getting through to the Group Stages this season!

Thanks, but here's a quick TLDR on how that went:

:(

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2016/2017 - Mid-season update - CSKA Sofia
 
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Transfers
 
It's not all over on the transfers front as 16 year old defender Marcin Malkowski joins us on a long-term long shot.
 
 
 
Europa League
 
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Our trip to Slovenia wasn't happy. In a tense match with very little chances either way, Maribor nicked the only goal in the 73rd minute. This put us in a difficult position for the return, but Stefan Nikolic put us 1-0 up right after the break, and took us into extra time as we looked a little more convincing than Maribor and shot a lot more. Unfortunately, it was Maribor who got an extra-time goal in a penalty in the 104th minute, and we let the great chance to get into the Europa League groups slip us by.
 
 
 
Kupa Bulgaria
 
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Lokomotiv Plovdiv has gone down from the top division last season, so they weren't the easiest opponents we've ever faced at this stage. Still, I would've been happier with a more convincing result to start off our cup campaign, as they held us to a draw until the last 20 minutes - Nikolic coming off the bench to solve the match with 2 goals -, and even then we only won by 3-2. Montana, who have also gotten relegated from the "A" PFG last year, are next.
 
 
"A" PFG
 
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A pretty crappy home draw with Slavia saw us remain undefeated in the league, so did a very late win over Cherno More, and another 2 draws, at home vs Litex and at Burgas vs recently promoted Chernomorets. Despite the long undefeated run, I was very much already alarmed by this form with far too many draws, which saw Ludogorets skyrocket into a clear lead, and it only became clearer when they beat us 2-0 at our home.
 
Going away to Vereya looked like a great point to turn this around, but even then we still struggled a little in an epic 4-3 win. A single goal by Kostadin Hadurov helped us stumble past Beroe, this was a rare 2 consecutive wins and both away, so surely, the comeback had started? Nope. We had to rely on an owngoal to even get a draw vs Botev, and Levski flat out beat us at our home even if we had been the slightly better side. So now not only are Ludogorets far out of reach, we have been passed by Litex and Levski too.
 
 
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Summary
 
Oh dear, these were a pretty damn poor few months. I am very disappointed with this form, and pretty damn baffled as this seems to have come from nowhere and I have no idea what's wrong - a lot of the players that looked pretty good earlier in the season just aren't performing, even established names from previous years. Injuries to important players like Tonci Kukoc and Ádám Vass have not helped, but that still isn't good enough justification, as we should have the talent now to be clear of the rest of the pack, and maybe even start thinking of hassling Ludogorets.
Edited by noikeee

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11 minutes ago, setzel said:

Kicking Ludogorets arse will bring me so much joy :) after what they did us in RL :( goddamn you Moti !

Nice to find a fellow Ludogorets hater. :D

Which side do you support? I know you're talking about some European tie but I have no idea which one.

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2016/2017 - Late-in-the-season update - CSKA Sofia
 
GvLXgQv.png
 
 
 
Transfers
 
 
We got rid of veteran forward Tsvetan Genkov who did very little in the few months he was here and scored 0 goals - sold by 80K€. For his place, I picked up Nikolay Signevich from Belarus (61K€), and I also signed a versatile young defender in Herdi Prenga from Croatia (25K€). Neither should be starters but provide extra depth to our squad and are relatively young too so can still improve.
 
 
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Kupa Bulgaria
 
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We got past Montana relatively uneventfully, with a 2-0 win at home (although I needed a 90th minute goal to confirm it), and a 4-2 win away with a hat-trick from young forward Antonio Vutov who's here on loan from Udinese and who hasn't been doing much prior to this. Montana did slightly scare us having scored first on the 2nd leg, but we took care of it. This puts us in a winnable quarter-final vs Chernomorets Burgas.
 
 
 
"A" PFG
 
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Unfortunately our league form hasn't particularly improved, as we've been pretty glaringly inconsistent. We managed to beat both Lokomotivs in November, although we had a bit of a scare as we went a man down with Roman Polom having seen a red card vs Loko Sofia. Fouls and red cards would be a bit of a trend - we dropped what would've been an easy win away at Slavia Sofia thanks to two penalty kicks committed by our otherwise star defender Denys Prychynenko. It got even worse when we lost at home to Cherno More (another theoretically easy tie as this season they've not been on the epic form they were last year), another penalty we gave away.
 
Weirdly the tough matches have been our saving grace - a 0-1 win away at Litex with a late goal was extremely handy. But we couldn't even get a goal at one of the easiest ties of the season home at Chernomorets Burgas - Boris Galchev managing the feat of getting himself sent off after coming off the bench, with yellow cards in minutes 85 and 92. Spectacularly, we repeated the surprise 0-1 away win by beating the all-conquering Ludogorets, but typically screwed it up in another easy match vs Vereya - a match that featured red cards to both Tonci Kukoc and Stefan Nikolic; and where surprisingly Boris Galchev was the saviour, as we equalised with 9 men thanks to his spectacular long shot.
 
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Summary
 
It's really not been our season. We've been better than ever in the tougher matches, but can't perform at all in the easier ties and it's really hurting us overall in terms of points. This shows in the sheer amount of draws, which have never been a feature of our team in our previous 2 seasons. I need to get this side to click in the final deciding stage, as we can't afford to come 4th as we are at the moment in the table, or else my job might be in danger again.
Edited by noikeee

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2016/2017 - Youth intake - CSKA Sofia
 
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A slightly disappointing intake with only one useful player.
 
Todor Dimitrov - My staff think very highly of him and I think he can become something quite interesting, but again I would've liked a player with quality technicals over a very physical player, although I find it good that he's pretty accomplished already in a few key mentals. I think I'll probably turn him into a poacher? He's lacking a bit too much vision and first touch to be a AM or DLF for me.

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Dimitrov is definitely a poacher and not an AM - I think I agree with your staff on this one, he looks like he could be capable of developing into something good.

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Not sure about Dimitrov. I like my poachers to be good in the air too (I like my teams to get a lot of crosses in the box) and so his heading and jumping would both concern me, but even more worrying is his positional sense. 

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2 hours ago, abulezz said:

Dimitrov is definitely a poacher and not an AM - I think I agree with your staff on this one, he looks like he could be capable of developing into something good.

Let's hope...

32 minutes ago, withnail316 said:

Not sure about Dimitrov. I like my poachers to be good in the air too (I like my teams to get a lot of crosses in the box) and so his heading and jumping would both concern me, but even more worrying is his positional sense. 

In the last few matches I've been using a poacher - targetman/support combo, so the being good in the air isn't an absolute must for me as that's covered by the other striker (although it's obviously very nice to have it as an extra in the poacher, indeed Stefan Nikolic has been scoring heaps of goals for me in that role thanks to his aerial ability). However, I'm not sure if you're referring to his positioning (I don't really care about positioning for strikers, IIRC that's only for defensive movement and "off the ball" is the one stat you want in a forward), or his anticipation - I would agree there an anticipation of 4 is really quite bad for a potential poacher.

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On 8/30/2016 at 02:36, setzel said:

Kicking Ludogorets arse will bring me so much joy :) after what they did us in RL :( goddamn you Moti !

The one in which Moti went in goal and saved penalties? Well, I hate Ludogorets too.

They scored late against us in Bulgaria and dropped us down into 3rd going into the game against Basel. A win over there would have sent Liverpool into the CL knockout stages. :(

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Been a pretty tough season for you but at least you haven't been cut adrift completely. If you get something going in the ast 10 games, I think you have a good chance of finishing 2nd. Ludogorets are just too far ahead though, unfortunately.

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