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[FM13] Second Star to the Right...

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On 08/11/2016 at 21:43, withnail316 said:

Congrats on securing promotion, DB.

Thanks, not sure surviving will be easy if we don't improve considerably on how we've been from January onwards.

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Summer 2022

This summer's transfer activity would be an interesting game of strategy and not just because of the budget. A bit of adjustment to give me more than just 10kpw spare took the transfer budget below 2M, enough to work to get a handful of players in as long I was careful. No, the foreign player situation was what I needed to manage, not so much because of the limit of 8 in the squad as that was an improvement on the 5 from the First Division (and with Reuber being snatched at the end of the January window we actually started off pre-season with 4) but because we could only have 5 in the match squad, so it was probably best not to go too far above that, though it did encourage getting in younger foreigners which might have been considered a waste of a slot before.

I wanted to make the most of the Turkish talent available so I got off to a good start with a midfielder on a free and a young defender for just 90k. With those signings under my belt I could focus on what I felt I really needed with the foreign signings I was able to make. That meant a keeper and the almost inevitable new forward which took us up to 6 foreigners (probably a good number) and a 7th for a full-back fell through. I had enough left for one more signing and still had a full-back opening ,preferably on the left as it was either Pavez or a rubbish youngster (the reserve right-back was a lot more reasonable) and I had a difficult choice to make, taking a gamble on a young Turkish player who could play both sides but had just turned 17 and unlike 'wonderkid' Kireker had a lot of growing to do, especially defensively, so hopefully he won't have to be called upon too much as a backup for a while.

Signings

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noikeee   

Congrats on going up!!

I like the look of the Hungarian AMC (an excellent Enganche, perhaps?) and the teenager fullback (loads of potential there for sure).

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20 hours ago, noikeee said:

Congrats on going up!!

I like the look of the Hungarian AMC (an excellent Enganche, perhaps?) and the teenager fullback (loads of potential there for sure).

Kleinheisler hasn't exactly shone yet for various reasons, though he's been decent.  Topaloglu has a lot of growing to do but he's just turned 17, with very high determination and while I'm working on his tackling, he has the makings of a very well-rounded player. Being the go-to backup player on the left (and occasionally the right) has already given him a handful of appearances. I look forward to seeing how he progresses. 

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Great career so far, and some cracking signings in the latest window. I'm guessing the plan is win the Turkish League and move on?

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Oct 2022

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This update is a couple of days late, and it's almost time for another, along with African and Asian international updates.

Our first match was against Altay, who went up with us. I always like not only to survive but to also be the best promoted team, with the added motivation of potentially being the top team in the city. It was also a test of how well we could do against potential rivals in the relegation battle and we passed with flying colours, Unver giving us the lead before Yurtseven sealed it. We followed that up with a win at Orduspor. We went behind but Alici made the first of the super-sub appearances that were to become a trademark, with Kireker putting it beyond them. Alici rescued a point late on against Kayserispor giving us a very promising 7 points from 3 matches. Unfortunately it all went to pot at Caykur Rizespor, who had no points at that point and the way we were battering them we looked set for another win before their hit us for 2 goals, and a tough run was coming up.

I didn't expect anything against Galatasaray, especially as we went behind almost immediately. We drew a blank against Bursaspor before managing to grab something against high-flying Eskisehirspor. We managed a surprise point against Fenerbahce (who were admittedly struggling) but we were still dropping like a stone into the bottom 3 and we needed more than draws that normally we could be satisfied with. I had hoped that an easy cup win against Inegolspor would help improve our league fortunes but another defeat made it 8 matches without a win, and we would be in serious trouble if we couldn't get results soon.

There are a few bright spots. Alici's form has been a big surprise, while Kevric is even better than last year. Kireker is having an excellent breakthrough season as well. He had 'wonderkid' written all over him when I bought him last year but a need to wait for him to train to play in central midfield gave me a reason not to throw him in right away, even if our injury troubles in the second half of the season meant he had to make a few emergency appearances anyway. It took just a year for him to be ready to be the No.8 and he was man of the match in the first game before scoring in the second. He hasn't rated quite as highly as the other two but he has been more consistent, and he's still just 17.

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5 minutes ago, Northernpilgrim said:

Great career so far, and some cracking signings in the latest window. I'm guessing the plan is win the Turkish League and move on?

Nice to see you in these parts. :) Not sure about winning the league, at least not in the short-term. Hopefully we can survive this season and establish ourselves in the top flight. Beyond that we'll see how things go, but I definitely plan on staying a while if it doesn't go wrong.

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BoxToBox   

Rough start to the season, but on the upside, you can say you're only 2 points behind Fenerbahce.

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5 hours ago, Northernpilgrim said:

Ouch! Tough start to the season but you are at least in touch with safety and there is plenty of time to turn it around.

 

1 hour ago, BoxToBox said:

Rough start to the season, but on the upside, you can say you're only 2 points behind Fenerbahce.

I know. It looked so good after a few matches but it's been poor ever since :(  I've actually almost finished the season with an intermediate coming up later this evening.

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Asian Cup 2023

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Japan and South Korea had met in the previous 2 finals with the 'score' at one win apiece. This time they met in the semi-finals with the Koreans winning before dispatching the Iranians in the final, leaving the duopoly intact.

 

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African Nations Cup 2023

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I missed the the fact that there was a tournament 2 years previously which saw the Ivory Coast beat Tunisia, denying the Moroccans a 3rd straight win but they managed to make it 3 wins out of 4 this time, thankfully without depriving us of Benali or Elyounoussi.

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Feb 2023

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Our poor run continued with defeat at Trabzonspor and a draw against Genclerbirligi, one of those results that would have felt better if we weren't in need of wins. We had our opportunity at struggling Manisaspor and took it with both hands, Unver and Alici (who between them have scored almost all of our goals) each netting to give us a fully deserved 2-0 win, with such a strong performance that it was amazing that it was our first league win in 11 matches. That wasn't enough to lift us out of the bottom 3 but while we failed to take advantage of a good opportunity to get another win against Antalyaspor, a draw was still another step in the right direction. Wins against Istanbul BBSK and Besiktas made things comfortable enough that defeat at high-flying Kasimpasa wasn't too much of a blow.

We got back up to speed after the winter break with a win against Altay, meaning that we could afford draws against Orduspor or Kayserispor and still not have too much to worry about. Early in the season we got a shock against Caykur Rizespor but this time we gave them the big win we owed them from the first game. Tougher matches returned at Galatasaray, looking set to easily win a second title in a row. We got a hard-fought point against Bursaspor before being easily beaten at Eskisehirspor. However we seem to have enough of a margin that unless things go badly wrong near the end, we should be alright. 

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39 minutes ago, noikeee said:

Much better now, I think you won't have any problems staying up.

I'm actually quite a bit behind on updates for a change, having played the first few games of the new season today. Will catch up with a lot of posts shortly. 

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May 2023

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We left off last time with a comfortable safety margin, which was just as well as we were starting to struggle to get results again, with March being a disappointing month. There was one bright point in the draw with Fenerbahce, which was oh so close to being a 2-1 win. It also finally saw a goal for Kleinheisler, who had either been stuck on the bench or occasional appearances in midfield since Alici took his place on the team. An injury gave the Hungarian another chance and but he went off injured later in the match, ruining his chances of staying ahead of Alici. Poor guy just can't catch a break.

Things picked up in April after a long break. We managed a surprisingly decisive win over Trabzonspor before a 3-2 defeat at Genclerbirligi in a match we really deserved something from. We finished the season with a wonderful run of 4 wins and a draw from the last 5 matches, including a win over Besiktas before a final day win over Kasimpasa (who would finish 3rd) actually allowed us to pip Besiktas to 9th and a top-half finish. Besiktas actually approached me after the season ended. They had a wage budget that was 3 times what I have at Bucaspor (which didn't increase much for the following season) and an 8M transfer budget but I never move to a new club in the same nation as my current/previous one, let alone in the same division.

Aside from the autumn struggles, this was precisely the sort of season I was expecting to have, comfortably keeping away from the relegation zone but not doing much better, at least not until the late surge to sneak a top-half finish. It will be interesting to see where things go from here. In the short-term I'm not expecting much more than consolidation, though hopefully I can continue to build and lay the groundwork for an improvement eventually.

Star Player: For a long time I was planning to make it Kireker but having just turned 18, time is on his side. Instead I couldn't look beyond Kevric again, especially as he managed to clearly do even better than last season, setting a new club record and making the team of the season. He looks good enough to be a regular in the national team when his reputation gets high enough and I wasn't surprised to see him make his international breakthrough in September.

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Squad Stats

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Gold Cup 2023

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At the 6th time of asking, Mexico finally win! They managed to beat holders Jamaica twice (and I find it odd that it wasn't a B team like I'm used to seeing) as well as a full-strength USA side, making it firmly deserved. Seeing Carlos Fierro scoring twice in the final was very nostalgic, especially as my World Cup winning Mexico team beat Jamaica in our Gold Cup win, though that was the tournament after this one. I've got a Mexico save going on FM17 and it's a shame that Fierro isn't anywhere near as good in that version. Elsewhere, it was interesting to see St.Lucia get a win.

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Copa America 2023

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Argentina's continental dominance comes to an end in disappointing fashion, following on from two consecutive group stage exits in the World Cup. They were beaten by world champions Colombia in the group stage before losing to Venezuela in the quarter-finals. The Colombians went on to win a second international tournament in as many years, denying Brazil who were in a final for the first time in the career.

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Summer 2023

After surviving our first season in the Premier Division I was hoping to have more to work with but I was disappointed, with only a very small increase in a wage budget we were already pretty much maxed-out on and about the same transfer budget as last season, causing me to take the very rare step of raising expectations from avoiding relegation to mid-table to get a bit more to work with. We had a strong enough squad that I didn't feel the need to make too many changes and this was looking like a summer of big signings over a lot of them.

I decided to make use of the spare capacity for foreign players in order to make big move even though that would create some complications with the fact that I can only have 5 players out of 8 in a matchday squad. Last season we had 6 with Granados being the clear 'loser' but without an injury/suspension or two, it's going to be tougher to decide who to leave out. If the restriction applied to players on the pitch (like in Ukraine and I think Russia) that would make a big difference.

A defender was the big priority with a few strong options available, enough that I felt Dunguinha was worth making into a marquee signing. I thought we could manage another but I had spent some more of the budget on a spare Turkish midfielder as well as a long-term investment (since he wouldn't even arrive for a couple of years) on another Brazilian defender, meaning we had a lot less remaining than I realized. I was still chasing a few quality forwards but I needed to do a bit more to be able to get one of my preferred options. There are tell-tale signs when I'm trying to squeeze out enough budget for a particular signing, with a few players sold/released in a short space of time later in pre-season, eventually managing to get the 19yr old Iranian I was after, even if giving him opportunities might be tricky.

Signings

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Nov 2023

I had hoped for a lot better this season. Like last year, we started off at home to rivals Altay but with a very different result, while Adana DS was a particularly extreme example of losing a match despite having the upper hand. That didn't bode well for facing a Besiktas side who looked back on form this season but we were proving to be their bogey team, making it 3 wins out of 3 over them since promotion. Sadly such results were few and far between. In the next match at Caykur Rizespor, Moradi showed what he could do for the first time with a brace when we were 2-0 down to make it 2-2 but they still got a late winner. Results seemed to improve a little after a draw at Akhisar but much like this stage last season, we were stuck with draws when we needed wins. There was a particular sense of deja-vu after Unver gave us a surprising draw at Fenerbahce which like a similar result a year before would have felt a lot better if we were in a safer position.

We're hardly playing badly in most games, and I feel we've been worth at least a couple more wins than we've got. The trouble is moments of quality are few and far between, especially up frontas Alici and Unver have far fewer goals in them so far this season, which is a shame as Unver's occasional highlights (especially the winner against Bursaspor) have been very good indeed. Losing points late on also seems to be an issue. We're at least managing to keep our heads above water, and I feel that while we're no better than mid-table right now, we're no worse either so I feel confident we'll survive without too much trouble, even if that's as good as it gets this year. On an individual level, Kevric is still standing out in defence while Kireker continues to progress and be consistent.

Taking a look at next year's Euros, I was struck by the rivals (or at least neighbours) in most of the groups, with England and Scotland for the second time in a row (though without the Welsh this time), Greece and Turkey, Belgium and the Netherlands, Sweden and Finland (which was part of Sweden for a long time) and Croatia and Bosnia. Thankfully Serbia are in a different group, with the Russians and Ukrainians also kept apart otherwise UEFA would be in danger of starting World War III. 

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BoxToBox   

Seems like you're just missing the rub of the green at the moment. Even every loss is by one goal.

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20 hours ago, BoxToBox said:

Seems like you're just missing the rub of the green at the moment. Even every loss is by one goal.

It certainly feels like it. We're just not quite doing enough to make a big difference at both ends, though the defence has otherwise been solid and consistent in a way I don't often see. It's a shame it's usually one or the other in terms of the defence or attack being strong.

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Winter Transfer Update

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I've definitely benefited from paying more recent attention to news items from agents than I'd mostly done previously. However this transfer (from Millonaros) was very tricky to pull off. Firstly there was the foreign player limit, then there was the lack of any spare budget at all, transfer or wage. However this time the fact that we can only have fewer players in a match squad than overall worked in my favour. So far it's created 5 in-favour players, maybe there being room for a 6th to get some games (especially if it's not clear cut leading to changes in who the first-teamers get to be, which indeed briefly happened early in the season) but anyone else is unlikely to see much action without multiple injuries/suspensions playing a part. As I said in the summer update, if it was a restriction on players on the pitch that would ope things up considerably.

What it means is that you can have valuable players you can offload to either get a decent transfer fee or make room in the wage budget, who you weren't really going to use anyway. In this case we had Granados (who had been obsolete for a while but I was finally allowed to release him with just 6 months left on his contract), Benali (on a whopping 11kpw) and Kleinheisler, who wasn't as valuable but still usefully so. I was able to get 1.1M for them both and managed to offload all of Benali's wages (though not Kleinheisler's) and that was enough to adjust the budget to cover the 625k asking price. Meanwhile I kept throwing out bids (though they had to be £0 because that was literally the budget at the time) and an inquiry in order to buy time to make the sales before he moved elsewhere. Then with a tricky field of clubs to compete with I was very generous with the contract offer, but I got my man.

He's not likely to stay very long, not with a release clause that's a little under 2.5M but that still would represent a decent amount of money and a very strong profit so he's still an excellent short-term investment. 

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Feb 2024

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I played on until the winter break last time but a bit of a gap, partly due to a cold (since I don't often feel like playing if I'm not clear-headed, though that didn't stop me today) and partly due to the release of the new pokemon games. I have no idea why people were being so mean about Popplio's design, I think it's both awesome and adorable!

Anyway back to FM matters, nothing is expected of matches against the big teams, especially away, and we were comfortably beaten by Galatasaray. However we then had an opportunity to improve our situation considerably with a few matches against teams around us before the mid-season break started and we very much took it. A Moradi goal wasn't enough to beat Istanbul BBSK but we managed to sneak wins against Mersin I.Y. and 1461 Trabzon, building up a far more comfortable safety margin both in terms of points and teams.

It was a bit strange picking up again with a trip to Altay and it looked good when Capa gave us the lead. Unfortunately it was a bit of a sub-par performance, not helped by our main forwards being out (Unver was injured, Moradi suspended) and a defeat meant the points gap shrunk again to 3. We bounced back in style against Adana D.S. though it was touch and go for a while. Moradi gave us a lead which didn't last long but Leonardo Robert scrambled it in during a real goalmouth mess (otherwise having disappointed so far) right before half-time. That allowed us to push on with Kireker and Moradi giving us a 4-1 win that was a little flattering.

It was good seeing Moradi do a lot better after a start that saw him dropped after a poor debut (with the foreign player rules and restriction providing encouragement to use one of the 5 matchday squad slots on someone else, especially as he was only a borderline choice in the first place) then need leave time, before getting another opportunity. His initial contract had come with a pretty low release clause which I had always planned to do something about before too long and the Adana D.S. win was a good reminded to do just that, I had anticipated having a difficult time with taking out or at least raising the clause considerably so it was a nice surprise to see that he didn't want one at all. Hopefully I can do something similar with Leonardo Robert.

We surprisingly won 3 out of 3 against Besiktas but that run was always going to end now, and pretty heavily. It wasn't to much of an issue as own-goal gave us a deserved win against Caykur Rizespor, before an Alici super-sub brace meant we pulled off a shock 2-0 win away to table-topping Genclerbirligi. We hoped to keep things going against Akhisar Bld, especially as they were the 16th placed side so I was still thinking about the gap to the bottom 3. We went behind and they looked more likely to score again after Moradi's equalizer. We then took the lead which put us on course to climb to the heady heights of 7th but we couldn't quite keep it an were lucky to hold on to a point in the end. However it still kept us in a good position.

Our situation has improved considerably in the past few months, and the rest of the season looks set to be pretty uneventful, a similar pattern to last season really aside from the contrasts in the way we started. Being much higher than this would be a surprise as we seem to very much be a middling side, with equal wins and defeats and almost as many draws, as well as pretty low and very similar goals scored and conceded columns, the third lowest in each case. As Box2Box pointed out before, we don't seem to lose by more than one goal. Even with the Galatasaray and Besiktas defeats, it's only happened 4 times in almost 16 months. I wouldn't go so far as to say that makes us competitive against most teams but we at least haven't been outclassed at this level.

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May 2024

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I prepared myself for an uneventful and unimpressive end of the season. How wrong I was. Going behind at the start against Bursaspor didn't really register, especially as it was looking like one of those performances where it didn't look like we'd get anything. That changed with Demrici's equalizer, with Moradi and Alici's goals either side of half-time turning the tables. Trabzonspor was a surprising 2-0 win, especially as it took an ages to make a breakthrough, and Erdem's opener was as scrappy as they come. Orduspor were easily dispatched early on with 3 goals in 20 minutes before we sat back and nearly let them come back for a point.

We were actually above Galatasaray but that didn't last long. Fenerbahce easily beat us though the winning margin had more to do with how anonymous we were as they were nowhere near that fantastic. Form seemed to have nosedived again as we lost two games against Kasimpasa and Gazientepspor that we might have been expected to get quite a bit from. There were a few potential reasons for this. Kireker sustained a season-ending injury against Trabzonspor while injuries/suspensions were taking it's toll on a small squad where we couldn't even select everyone who was available if all the foreigners were alright. Often we've been a man short on the sub's bench this season, only managing 4 at on point little later on.

A team talk seemed like a timely kick up the backside as we returned to winning ways against Eskisehirspor, Moradi (more on him later) enjoying a brace. I really didn't expect the run to continue against Galatasaray, especially after we went behind. Again it looked like one of those 'we've lost it already' matches, especially as they won a penalty but Elyounoussi saved and Moradi equalized immediately afterwards. That was enough of a surprise but then the Iranian set up Alici and we held on to it. Istanbul BBSK was a tricky game before two easy ones too finish but again Moradi and Alici turned a game around after going behind. Mersin i.Y. seemed rather tough for a side already doomed to relegation. Kevric gave us the lead (which is actually his first goal for the club) but Granados quickly equalized for them and they threatened to go ahead before Alici finished them off.

The 'E' word hasn't featured so far. I was aware that we were closing in on the European places in March but with those three defeats I felt that any chance we had of catching up was gone. The cup final between Orduspor and Galatasaray seemed to be a nail in the coffin as with the latter (who won) were outside the European spots at the time, meaning we'd probably have to finish 4th rather than 5th to do it, a far less likely proposition the way the table was set at the time, with just 3 matches left we were just a couple of points adrift of Trabzonspor in 5th but 4-5 of Altay in 4th. We played the bottom 2 at home in the final couple matches but Istanbul BBSK before that (though we managed to pull off a win).

That changed considerably in the penultimate round when Galatasaray hammered Altay. That meant 5th place was back in play as a European spot if Galatasaray held on to a Europa league placing (Orduspor would only qualify as cup runners up if Galatasaray got a CL place, which wasn't going to happen) and left us just a point behind Altay. If we won our final match (which we were expected to) and they failed to win at Istanbul BBSK (perfectly likely) then we'd get in. It was edgy for a while but Yurtseven gave us the lead with one of those long-range efforts from wide which you're never sure of the intent of, which seemed appropriate from the player who gave us promotion. Demrici was an unlikely candidate to give us the second goal we needed to start to relax and Altay did their bit...

 

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Season Review 2023/24

Ok, so that happened! I was getting an odd sensation earlier that we were both overachieving and underachieving at the same time. This comes from having two seasons where we've struggled early on before form picked up a lot more later and we ended up finishing higher than I expected to. We don't seem to spend much time in our expected mid-table habitat, first struggling below it then flying through and past it. Sneaking a top-half finish at the death last season was surprising enough but this really seemed to come out of left-field, especially as we started the season with much worse form than last time and the danger of relegation in the short-term was still on my mind. As I mentioned, the idea that we might challenge for the European places only briefly occurred during strong runs of spring form, even in the last update I thought we were surprisingly high where we were.

As it was we managed it very narrowly and needed other factors to swing in our favour at the end, which probably adds to the impression that we're not that good yet, even though the league table tells me otherwise, which is just confusing! I'm still not getting too carried away, not expecting a repeat (or even getting close) next year and only anticipating a short European run. Still it's always something to celebrate. I had been thinking earlier that while it had been a successful career so far, I haven't won a major trophy yet or managed European qualification yet, and didn't expect either to happen for a while, especially as I was focusing on Bucaspor for a while. This is definitely one of those moments when it the excitement and glory of the occasion doesn't really have as much of an impact because you're too dazed with the shock of it all.

Star Player: Joint winners this time...

Kireker: As you might have gathered, I've been very excited about him for a while. Throwing a 17yr old into the first team after promotion may seem odd but I do have previous, and a strong and consistent first season was followed by an even better second year. It's great to see him already this good so early.

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Moradi: I'm loving a more global game world, Moradi not only being my first ever Iranian signing (I think) but my first from an Iranian club, with many others from the region on my radar. A bad debut looked to cost him badly with the competition for the limited foreign match squad opportunities, and a better second cameo was followed by leave. However he was back in near the end of 2023 and he hasn't really looked back since. We were struggling for goals for a long time this season but he did a lot to turn that situation around, especially when partnered Alici.

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Squad Stats

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36 minutes ago, BoxToBox said:

Excellent! Europe it is, :applause:

Still got no idea how!

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noikeee   

Europe! Well done!

You're signing some cracking players now too, I really like Leonardo Robert and Moradi looks like an excellent poacher too.

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2 hours ago, noikeee said:

Europe! Well done!

You're signing some cracking players now too, I really like Leonardo Robert and Moradi looks like an excellent poacher too.

I loaded up the game this morning and only noticed for the first time that we were just 2 points off second! I guess that reflects on how much the first-half of both seasons in the Premier Division so far had me focused on looking down, or only a short distance up at best. It also demonstrates how tight the league is between a lot of teams. I do wonder what we could do with a more consistent season, if the general situation doesn't change too much with how potential rivals do. 

As for the players, I had to do a lot of budgetary juggling and clearing space however I could to get them both, especially Leonardo Robert. In fact my reaction so seeing him for the first time was actually 'I must have him!!!!!!!!' :D He hasn't actually been that good so far but I'm sure he'll prove to be a worthwhile investment, especially as like with Moradi, I was able to take a relatively low release clause out of his contract without too much difficulty.

The trouble is that it's hard to get in more players like that. I still have some room in the foreign player limit but it's not easy having more than the 5 allowed in a match squad, and certainly not more than 6. It doesn't help that out of the current 5 (Pavez having gone, which I'll touch on in the pre-season update), Dunguinha is the only one even remotely expendable from the first team. Elyounoussi is the keeper with no viable alternatives, Kevric didn't quite match the heights of last season but he's still playing far too well on a (mostly) consistent basis for dropping him to be even a remotely sane option, Leonardo Robert just needs to keep getting opportunities and Moradi's form has already made him our key forward (which is a relief given Unver's injury issues). At least the presence of Erdem (who is still just 20) provides a strong Turkish alternative, which I could use a few more of. 

I think I need to try and strengthen the Turkish presence as we've still got a few weaker links, especially in terms of depth, though I won't stop going for other players (even up to the limit of 8 which we had in the first half of last season) if they're that good and I guess I can work things out after that.

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Euro 2024 - Italy

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Kevric became the first player of mine in the career to play at a major international tournament, and he did very well, playing a prominent part as Croatia reached the semi-finals, only losing on extra-time to Italy. He managed to make the Dream Team as well, albeit just on the sub's bench. He scored in the opening game, which was only his 6th international appearance, giving him a rather better goalscoring record for country than club. His only goal for us so far came in the penultimate match of last season, his 107th game for the club, taking him to just 3 goals in over 200 matches in his entire career.

The rest of the tournament didn't seem to have a lot that stood out. I mentioned before about the rivalries thrown up by the group draw and the knockouts added Sweden-Denmark and Belgium-Netherlands to that. England started off badly with a win and 2 defeats (in an admittedly tricky group) but then squeaked past holders Germany, followed by extra-time wins over Ukraine and the Netherlands (the two 2016 finalists) before doing the same against Italy, the nearly men of international football right now with two consecutive defeats in finals they probably would have been expected to win, especially as hosts this time.

Spain topped a group featuring Wales and were 'rewarded' with France in the second round and a defeat to Italy after that, while the a last 16 exit for the Welsh is their worst tournament performance so far in the save, a World Cup win in 2014 being followed by consistent exits in the quarter-finals until now. Simply getting out of the group was a triumph for Portugal who have yet to qualify for a World Cup (I noted their absence in the last two but somehow missed it in 2014) and went out of the group stage of the last Euros.

England are usually considered to be too strong in FM but while they were semi-finalists 4 years ago, otherwise their tournament record isn't very good with a group stage exit in 2016 and two more in the 2014 and 2022 World Cups with a second round defeat in between, so it's otherwise not an issue on this save so far.

 

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Summer 2024

I entered the summer with a rather open and patient transfer strategy. One of the interesting things about the foreign player rules (especially the difference between how many you're allowed in a match squad and overall) is that it encourages a lot more thought to be put into who you're going to get and how team selection is going to pan out.

One such selection decision occurred in the Spring with Pavez (a vital first team player up to the point) being under threat from Topaloglu, the young full-back who had progressed nicely so far in his two years at the club and was still just 18 at the time. I wasn't planning on throwing in the youngster in place of the Uruguayan so soon, especially comparing their performances, but I was being encouraged to give Topaloglu more first team action and the opportunity to free up a valuable first team foreigner slot is always one to be taken seriously. An injury made the final decision for me and opened the door for the change to be made though I was planning to sell Pavez anyway by that point., especially given he was on 10kpw (for context, the total wage bill was 115kpw) and 1M is still a decent amount for this club (last season's total turnover was a little under 17M, including 2M of sales, and the previous season was probably quite a bit less than that).

One thing that had occurred to me was that buying a foreigner as a backup to another foreigner was a workable way to use the 3 'bonus' foreign player slots, especially a keeper, which is why though I was otherwise adopting a 'wait and see' attitude, I moved fairly quickly for a young Brazilian keeper, who would be especially useful if Elyounoussi was called up to the ACN this season. It's not likely since he's very rarely selected put the potential rep boost from last season and European football (as well as how we might do this season) still makes it a possibility, as well as giving us a viable backup and even potential replacement.

I was actually confronted by far more young Brazilians than I knew what to do with, even without any restrictions, which isn't a surprise with Brazil loaded (you can barely move for Brazilians in some European leagues sometimes) and the arrival next year of Jonathan discouraged me to pull the same trick again. Even though all three foreign signings (taking us to the maximum of 8) were Brazilian. Next came Jaime, who was meant as a similar alternative in Moradi's place but that plan soon changed when I felt they would be a good first choice strike partnership if I could fit them in, which was more important after I decided to sell Unver (who had turned from a player we had to keep at all costs to being expendable in a short space of time, partly for the same reasons as Pavez but there was also his injury-proneness and underwhelming showing last season) and then decided that the 18yr old Turkish forward at Kaiserslautern I really wanted to replace him with was felt to be a bit expensive. 

I mentioned at the end of last season that having the depth with the Turkish players would be very important. A lot of the available options seemed a bit too expensive to be signed as squad players (especially as we were still fine with most of the options we already have), but I soon found Surucu from Sivaspor as considerably improved backup to both Yurtseven and Kireker. He still wasn't that cheap and Aydin was more expensive for the defence but he took us up to having the 'right' number of central defenders in the squad and with our foreign player slots generally being taken up in defence, we have a lot more flexibility with another decent Turkish option. Arriving at the same time was another young Brazilian, whose signing was made viable by having an all-foreign strike partnership meaning he'd could go in for either one of them without changing the foreigner count, another example of having two foreigners as alternatives for the same place in the team.

I am very happy with what I managed to do. We have a larger squad than last year, with an extra Turkish player, which meant that hopefully the regular instances we encountered last year of being undermanned on the bench will be far rarer from now on. We also have better depth across the board, among both the Turkish options I was freer to use and the backups for the foreign slots, should we need them. I'm a believer that since you can't have your best team all the time, having strong enough replacements to call upon for however long you need them can make all the difference.

Signings

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Europa League 2nd Qualifying Round

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There were very few 'short straws' in the draw but we managed to draw the shortest of all in CSKA Moscow, (the others being Copenhagen, and arguably Red Star and Sparta Prague) which was a bit of a European baptism of fire! Their team didn't look quite as scary as thought it would be but they still looked a bit better than we were and I anticipated an early exit, though victory wasn't impossible.

It didn't look good early in the home leg but an own-goal somehow gave us the lead, which I felt was vital if we were to have any chance at all. We weren't able to hold on forever but after they equalized, we somehow managed a pair of goals from Sepin and Yurtseven to give us a 3-1 lead to take to Moscow, and I wasn't sure that anything less would have sufficed.

The plan in the away leg was to shut up shop and for a while it looked to be working. Jaime even got a goal on the break which seemed to swing the tie (which previously I'd have thought was finely poised, especially with their away goal) in our favour. A poor defensive spell allowed them to get 2 goals, just one away from completely leveling the tie. We seemed to have clinched it when Kireker played a fantastic through ball for Moradi, then Jaime made it 3-2 on the night and I was excited as the prospect of a famous win in Moscow. Unfortunately the defence fell apart near the end. They scored twice to turn the leg around, then a 3rd leveled the tie at 6-6! We still had an away goals advantage but it was a very narrow squeak indeed to hold on to it as they could easily have clinched it with one more. The defensive plan may have been a miserable failure but what a match and what a tie!

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Europa League 3rd Qualifying Round

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Our reward for overcoming CSKA Moscow was a rather easier draw against TPS of Finland. The fact that it was either them or Flora Tallinn highlights how unlucky we were with the previous draw. For some reason we were considered underdogs but I knew that was a rather false position and we proved it by breezing to a 4-0 win in the first leg, with a similarly casual 3-0 home win. Even against such limited opposition, 7-0 is still pretty good going.

Diosgyor are our next opponents. It's hard to know what to make of a draw like that, as while I feel we're probably the stronger team, it's not by enough to feel that secure, and it could just as easily be a defeat as a comfortable win. Not helping matters is that the league season is about to start, and I know from experience that when you've had a couple of European qualifying rounds already and are facing another along with domestic games, things can be a little tricky, especially with a team that isn't used to it. However I still feel we've got a decent chance of beating the Hungarian side and making the group stage. Even if we don't, I'm happy we managed to take in a few rounds, especially given our journey looked likely to end as soon as it began.

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noikeee   

Great achievement in knocking out CSKA!

Personally, I'd be shocked if you managed to get knocked out by a team from Hungary. You're clearly at a much higher level now.

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On 05/12/2016 at 21:22, BoxToBox said:

Gotta love leagues that make you think about what you're doing more.

I agree. Some rules can be rather frustrating to deal with but I have never been turned off managing in a league for that reason. After a few seasons I am finding ways to deal with them, and now you can roughly split the team into 'Foreign' and 'Turkish' positions, minimising the selection dilemma of having to put in a foreign player as a replacement for a Turkish one and having to reshuffle the team to accommodate. 

On 06/12/2016 at 10:21, noikeee said:

Great achievement in knocking out CSKA!

Personally, I'd be shocked if you managed to get knocked out by a team from Hungary. You're clearly at a much higher level now.

We may be stronger but not by enough to take things for granted. There is also my experience with having teams take some time to cope with league and midweek European games at the same time, especially as this is a very young team anyway. Plus while we're in a stronger league system, we have only been a top division side for 2 years while they're a far more established side (presumably, I haven't looked at their history) which potentially narrows the gap. 

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Europa League playoff

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Sorry for the delay, it's been a difficult week but I finally got through the Diosgyor tie. I knew they could cause us a lot of trouble and so it proved in the first leg. We started well enough but then a single defensive lapse shortly before half-time proved to be costly. I thought we were still good value for a draw but otherwise wasn't too surprised that it didn't take much for things to work against us.

The second leg didn't start too well either and we had a big task on our hands when they extended their aggregate lead with an away goal. At just 23, Yurtseven had already racked up a lot of potential 'club legend' points and he added to that here, with a great lofted effort to give us a goal back, and another goal to level the tie, aside from the fact that away goals still counted against us. Moradi gave us the 3rd goal we needed and we kept pushing for a while before a couple of Diosgyor attacks meant going defensive as we edged through.

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I didn't expect much from the group draw, especially as a 4th seeded team but this actually isn't bad at all. This is still when Anji (and it's still strange seeing that spelling) had a lot of money and they're arguably the strongest team in the group, but while Cardiff and Espanyol are potentially a little stronger as well, the gap on paper really isn't that big, so it's looking like a potentially close and competitive group. It's really hard to set expectations from a draw like this. I think we could probably get a few results but qualification would be a bonus rather than something I'm specifically targeting.

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Oct 2024

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Continuing with Europe to start off with, the first match of the group stage was at Cardiff and we were severely on the back foot for a lot of it. However Moradi gave us an unlikely win, and I had to admit we were lucky to get anything. I was surprised to see that Espanyol really didn't look good when I first looked through our group opponents and having started well we should have taken the lead, rather than go 2-0 down. In an odd way I felt we deserved more than we did against Cardiff, and when Moradi got a late goal I didn't expect we could do any more, however Kireker fired into the bottom corner in stoppage time to give us a fair point.

Anji had looked like the strongest side but had lost both matches so far. I still knew the trip to Russia could be tough and so it proved. The defence had had some very good days already this season but was conceding silly goals otherwise and did so again now. We might have snatched another point but after Cardiff and Espanyol I guess things were bound to go against us this time. That still leaves us in second with 4 points and 2 away games out of the way. We still have a lot of work to do to get points from the remaining matches but I'm very happy with how we've done so far and qualification remains a possibility.

In some ways the league schedule helped in Europe, as I could go full-on defensive to save the team's energy for the European games in matches where such an approach could potentially work, as opposed to sacrificing the initiative in games we were clear favourites for. Galatasaray and Fenerbahce were the first two home games alongside Trabzonspor and Bursaspor (top at the time, admittedly after just 3 matches) away and I was happy to get 6 points from that. In fact we were agonisingly close to holding on to a win against Fenerbahce as well. With the exception of Altay and Adana D.S. we either faced the bigger sides or those like Manisaspor who have started very well, so while our results seem rather draw-heavy we've still been doing very well to avoid more than a single defeat (in fact 7th seems a little low compared to how we were doing until a few weeks before) with a challenging start to the season and a lot of European games mixed in besides.

We have had a couple of heavy injuries. Jaime went off against Bursaspor with a broken leg that ruled him out for 6-7 months, an injury length which I thankfully encountered pretty rarely. Falcao has been reasonable as a replacement but I do wonder if Jaime would have buried some chances that his compatriot didn't. Worse was to come in the last match against Anji with Yurtseven and a cruciate ligament injury which sidelines him for 8-10 months! That's definitely going to be quite a blow :(

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On 19/12/2016 at 11:32, withnail316 said:

Those injuries sound horrendous! Good work in Europe, though. 

 

20 hours ago, BoxToBox said:

Nightmare with the injuries.

It got worse, just done the return match against Anji which saw Moradi injured and he will be out for 4 months. It's nowhere near as bad as the other two but I was going to say that it's as long as I'm using to seeing most of the time so having the other two out for far longer at the same time is a big blow. :(

We still seem to be managing alright. It's still going to take time for my expectations and perceptions of where we stand to catch up with how well we're doing which is just as well if the injuries do prove to be a hindrance this season. 

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The news just keeps getting worse. In the final European game both Capa and Alici went off injured when I was out of subs and will be out for 3 months. Surucu was already standing in for Yurtseven and is now sidelined for almost 2 months. That leaves Falcao as the only fit forward or winger! We do have someone else arriving in January and he really can't come soon enough. 

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European Update - December 2024

Matchday 4

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I knew we needed a result against Anji and after an unlucky defeat in the previous match we sneaked a win in this one. Moradi sustained his injury early on but Capa's penalty gave us a big win. Cardiff beat Espanyol in the other match meaning we were level on points with the Catalan side and Cardiff were just a point behind going into our home match with them.

Matchday 5

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We were underdogs but I knew a win would clinch qualification and I was pleased to see we went for it. It was a good performance but we couldn't quite get that goal. We still maintained a slight advantage going into the final round.

Matchday 6

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The final day situation was a double-edged sword. If Cardiff beat Anji at home we'd need to do the same at Espanyol, a very unlikely result, but if they failed to do that then a superior head-to-head record meant we'd edge it even if we lost. We went behind to an early penalty so we knew we'd be relying on events in Cardiff, where a 0-0 was just enough to stop then qualifying ahead of us. The group had been just as tight as I imagined, and it was far from a convincing display with a lot of luck needed to get our results but I was still very happy to progress.

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Feyenoord is a tough draw, even if we were at full-strength. Their squad is a bit of a mixed bag but they have plenty of far superior players. If the matches were being played a couple of weeks later than we might be in a far better position. With the exception of Surucu (whose injury isn't as severe) and Yurtseven (whose season is over), most of our injured players should be back around early March, maybe late in February, but even the second leg will be borderline at best. It's been a great run but unless we can pull something special out of the bag this will be where it ends.

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Dec 2024

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League results haven't exactly been my main focus but I've been pleasantly surprised with how we've done, especially given a relative lack of wins. At the moment the league seems to be very tight between a lot of teams, which is what really helped us somehow get 5th last season after struggling for almost half a season. I do wonder what we could do if we could pull a consistently strong season out of the bag. For the most part we haven't actually been that far off most of the teams above us even when we've dropped down a bit. This is no mean feat with the very busy schedule and all the injuries.

We still managed to keep on going for a while, a draw at Caykur Rizespor (top at the time) fit the pattern of the season so far, a lot of draws in matches where we could easily have lost, even if Avni Nizam wasn't even supposed to be on the pitch as I was slightly off-target when wanting to bring on Moradi. After another draw at Gaziantepspor we pulled off a win against reigning champions Gencerbirligi thanks to an early goal from Leonardo Robert, finally looking good after months of being underwhelming. We narrowly missed out on a win Akhisar Bld, in a match where Kireker had to be rested and a couple of other players could have used the same, but a derby match against Goztepe was a triumph for Surucu and Falcao. Neither had done that well as replacements for Yurtseven and Jaime but the former set up the latter twice to make a happy exception.

The injuries from the Espanyol game (among others) meant that I had to improvise something for the coming weeks and this is what I came up with...

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With no specialized backup for Kocak and Eduardo still not allowed on the bench as a surplus foreigner I only had 4 defenders spare. The fact that Leonardo Robert (already put in defensive midfield) was the only defender we had who could play anywhere other than in a flat defence meant that if we had injuries anywhere else, it would have been hard to fit anyone else in as a replacement, but thankfully it didn't come to that.

The emergency system seemed to work well at Istanbul BBSK where Falcao starred. He hadn't been terrible for the most part but he was being severely hindered by a poor record in converting chances he really should have. Thankfully he appeared to be rising to the occasion now we really needed him to. His two goals were followed by equalizers but Topaloglu gave us a deserved win. Unfortunately after that the team was getting really tired, not helped by the cup coming into the equation. I had previously gone very defensive in matches preceding European matches to save my players for those but now I needed to do it on a constant basis. The league had never been my focus in the first place but now all I could do from this point until the winter break was to just do what I could with a bad situation.

The trouble with doing that in the cup games was that it took the first tie all the way to penalties, and the second to extra-time, so the players really weren't spared that much in the end. It was just as well that we lost since it spared us the group stage. I was already tired of domestic cups with group stages but this was arguably worse, since teams play each other twice rather than once like in Sweden and Greece and it shortens the winter break while still giving us midweek games when the league resumes, which I see as the worst of both worlds. It would have been a pain at any time but we specially didn't need it this season, as we hit the half-way point in the league season with 31 matches played so far!

A home game against bottom-club Antalyaspor was normally one I'd feel like really going for but in our situation that wasn't an option and a late goal gave us what was just our second league defeat of the season and their second win. I did decide to go for it a bit more in the final game before the break at second-bottom Sakaryaspor without upcoming matches to save ourselves for (even if we'd still feel the effects of tiredness) and while we went behind, we got some reward from a very sweet Falcao strike. I was surprised that it was enough to briefly (as Fenerbahce played later) put us in 4th. and 5th still looks like a position to be very happy about under the circumstances. I think everyone deserves a medal at the end of the season just for getting through it.

Finally, you know how I bought Eduardo in the summer so we had a keeper just in case Elyounoussi got called up for the African Nations Cup? Well about that...

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Transfer Update

There is some good news, and that is this guy...

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This was a deal I did at the end of October but the confirmation came slightly too late for the last update. I can't believe he was a free-agent especially since his record in the previous few years with APOEL was immense! That does create a foreign player limit headache, especially with Jonathan due to arrive in the summer, though I had at least planned what I was going to do when we came to crossing that particular bridge. He's still easily worth whoever I have to sacrifice, especially with our current situation involving injured forwards, which makes his arrival even more of a blessing.

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noikeee   

Well done to scrap out of that group, and also the performance in the league is very good if you're going through an injury crisis.

The striker is insane for that level, should be a huge upgrade. Not sure I like the weird tactics though!

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15 hours ago, BoxToBox said:

Jesus, finding a guy like that, and a free agent no less!

 

14 hours ago, withnail316 said:

Wow! Incredible signing!

 

I know! He already seemed to have a 5-star scout report so when the news item came up I took a look and my main thought was "someone that good might want to join us!" I've had some surprisingly excellent free agents on FM13 before (especially with Ipswich in the Championship the first time) so it seems to be a good version for them. It's fair to say that we especially need him now!

 

27 minutes ago, noikeee said:

Well done to scrap out of that group, and also the performance in the league is very good if you're going through an injury crisis.

The striker is insane for that level, should be a huge upgrade. Not sure I like the weird tactics though!

I know it's even more unconventional than my regular tactics but I had to make do somehow. It might have worked better after the initial win if the team had been fresh. I felt I needed to give the full-backs a wing-back role (which I've been using with my FM17 Mexico team) to counter the lack of wingers and wanted to get as close to still having a forward pairing as possible. Watching the matches the players seem nicely spread out on the pitch so it doesn't seem entirely crazy. Heck when I arrived at Mattersburg with a lot of central defenders and hardly any wingers and went for a back 5 and a winger on just one side that might have been considered insane but it works.

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