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deltablue

[FM13] Second Star to the Right...

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14 hours ago, Dexter_Morgan said:

your threads are so unpredictable at times

This. I never know whether to expect back-to-back-to-back promotions, World Cup wins with Mexico, or stagnation for years and/or sackings. :D That makes it pretty entertaining actually.

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Somehow I don't think I'm as unpredictable as I used to be, both in terms of being more consistent (though Norway proved things can still go wrong) and not having such wild career paths, but I'm glad there's still some element of mystery left ;)

Got a lot to update on later. I was in a hurry yesterday evening so prioritised the main update over both the Gold cup and Copa America. Also finished the season earlier so we'll see how that went.

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Gold Cup 2019

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Poor Mexico :( Things weren't going well so far as it was, but failing to get out of the group stage is a new low. Costa Rica (who are sometimes a bit of a 'best of the rest' side, at least in this version) failing to do so as well is another shock. Canada managed to reach the final (having previously managed a semi-final appearance) losing to the USA, which makes it 2-2 between the Americans and Honduras so far in terms of Gold Cup wins. I deliberately kept the MLS off the list of leagues I added back into the game (since some had to miss out for good) so hopefully that will help Mexico in the longer-term.

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Copa America 2019

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Argentina make it 3 from 3 so far in the save, with reigning World champions Ecuador being the beaten finalists this time. They're still reliant on their real-life players who are still just about in their prime but come the 2022 World Cup they may need younger players to step up, otherwise they'll face a struggle to retain their title in the next Copa a year later.

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Oct 2019

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OK, strap yourselves in...

A home game against a Sirius side heading for relegation by a massive 20 point margin seemed simple enough, but after losing to both the teams in the relegation playoff places in the previous few weeks I couldn't be sure of anything. Maholli managed to give us the advantage, before Wikman made it more comfortable. They got a goal back and I was wondering whether we would mess it up after all but Wikman put it beyond them, and the win actually took us marginally into 3rd, precisely the sort of small advantage I was hoping to take.

Both permanent signings from this year had made strong contributions to this season and after we went behind against Orebro though an own goal, Tillman managed to give us an equalizer. Despite only managing a draw, results elsewhere (not least the two teams above us playing each other and drawing) meant we didn't lose any ground. I wasn't looking forward to going to a Gefle side who looked like easily returning to the Premier Division as champions. The first-half wasn't anywhere near as bad as we were expecting and despite conceding a couple of goals to lose, a better performance might have given us something. Again other results were our friend as we only lost a point against our rivals.

Sundsvall beat GAIS before we went to Brommapojkarna, firing a warning shot across our bow that we needed to get winning again. Thankfully Skarp managed to bundle the ball in during a goalmouth scrap and and Maholli made it safe, helping us up into 2nd. The pressure was now on to maintain our advantage so I was relived when Johansson fired us in front late in the first half against Brage Maheu and Wikman managed to extend the advantage even though we felt forced to go defensive after we got a goal back later on.

The match against promotion rivals Vasby was perhaps the most critical, though we were helped by the fact that they were on a bad run of form, with just one win and 6 points from the previous 6 games. That as just as well as Sundvall were playing Sirius and surely they wouldn't mess that up. We looked on top on our game and Mahou gave us a deserved lead. This was coupled by the fact that Sundsvall were losing to Sirius, the latter's 3rd and last win of the season! As things stood we'd have a 5 point advantage with 2 matches left and surely one foot in the Premier Division. However Vasby struck an equalizer, but a 3-point advantage over both rivals was still good.

We had the opportunity to clinch it at GAIS, so I was happy to see Johansson give us an early lead. Maheu and Widlund made it safe, and a late push and consolation was mitigated by Maholli giving us a 4th. For a while that looked like enough, though eventually Sundsvall and Vasby took the lead in their games and though Sundsvall couldn't hold on to their lead, Vasby did to take it to the final day, though the mathematics easily favoured us as we would have to lose against Norrkoping and see Vasby win to be denied automatic promotion. As it happened we had little trouble with Mahou giving us the lead almost immediately. This was followed by news that Vasby were actually behind (and only managed to equalize to just rescue 3rd, though they lost the playoff), and when Maholli gave us a second goal I knew there was no stopping is. Norrkoping got a late goal back but even had they equalized that wouldn't have spoiled the party.

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We did it!!!!!!! Good thing I didn't listen to the people who thought I should have moved on last year, in fact ignoring Noikeee's advice has served me surprisingly well over the years ;)

As mentioned in the previous post, we started the run-in (counting that as from the Sirius match onwards) after losing to both teams in the relegation playoff places (though those results made the difference in helping both teams avoid it in the end) and I was thinking 'those matches are probably going to cost us' given we mad managed some big results against our rivals, then again sticking to the form book has never been our strong suit. Last season we had more away wins than home wins until the final round evened the score. 

It definitely meant a lot to seal it with a genuinely good finish to the season, having previously felt satisfied with the idea of managing to beat one of our rivals to 3rd. By the final few matches the eye was firmly on the automatic promotion prize of 2nd, as we had quickly moved into that position and maintained an advantage going into the final weeks, to the point that after we took the lead against Vasby it was ours to lose and had things gone our way a bit more we would have sealed it earlier. To think that when we were wobbling badly last year I was worried about the risk of going down, not up!

The dream has now come true, along with fully professional status and finally opening up a much wider pool of potential signings to strengthen, and we're certainly going to need it as we're going to be pretty clear favourites to go back down. After Norway I was hoping to avoid any more relegations in the career but I still want to experience a season in the Premier Division, as the milestone first season in a top division for the career, far sooner than I ever thought possible when I arrived. Even if we do go back down it won't do much to dampen a wonderful journey.

Star Player: I was tempted not to do this and just say everyone was the star (which I've done on exceptional occasions before) but Maholli deserved credit for re-taking his place in the team back from Wikman after a woeful season last year, managing to equal Mahou's goal tally despite playing in far fewer matches and his second goal against Norrkoping was arguably the moment that sealed promotion.

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Squad Stats

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1 hour ago, Dexter_Morgan said:

Well done delta, I just hope you've got your scouts on double over time though :D Good luck with the new season

No kidding! I've just been thinking about where we need to improve and while I like to think we have a few player who might be alright in the lower reaches of the Premier Division, the list of positions we need to improve is... Goalkeeper, both full-backs (if I could get Andersson back from Djurgarden that would be great, even just on loan), central midfielder, one forward (though maybe not two) and at least one defender, and that's just the 'Really must get ' list, everywhere else still being 'Would be nice'.

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4 hours ago, deltablue said:

We did it!!!!!!! Good thing I didn't listen to the people who thought I should have moved on last year, in fact ignoring Noikeee's advice has served me surprisingly well over the years ;)

Glad I'm of help, just do the exact opposite of what I say all the time. :D

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Winter 2020

In recent seasons we had been limited to a pretty meager transfer menu but with promotion and a decent financial situation we could properly dine out. We had a transfer budget of over 700k and a wage budget that was almost doubled to around 18kpw, but the real boost was the access to players from abroad (even if we couldn't scout outside Europe) as well as the top class youngsters from other Premier Division clubs, even if Andersson wouldn't come back. The transfer market still wasn't awash with players I really wanted but while I still managed to strengthen the team with a lot of players, maybe I'd have gotten more out of it by not feeling like going to players that stood out as they came.

First up was the keeper which led to the start of some exotic signings. I wasn't looking at players I wouldn't scout but agents were very useful in bringing a number of players to my attention. Arce wasn't fantastic (his handling in particular needed work) but he was still so clearly superior to Gatara that it was still a positive first step. Then it was almost all about stocking up on defenders. The full-backs were a higher priority but central defenders were easier to come by, so I ended up mostly replacing my current defence a lot more than I anticipated. The bar for other positions was rather higher and it wasn't so easy to find players for a genuine upgrade but patience was a virtue.

I thought the transfer budget would run out first but with players still signing for 5-figure fees but often over 1kpw (extravagant I know) the budgetary adjustments went the other way than I anticipated, putting transfer money into wages. That is also why I ended up releasing some players later on, usually on around 400-600pw, to eek out a bit more budget, before the appearance on van de Laak and his wages took us over budget with no realistic prospect of creating the wiggle room for anything else.

Maybe I could have gotten more out of the transfer window with a little more patience, as a couple of signings we could have done without, plus at least one example where I could have had a player for free by waiting until June but wanting to gain every advantage I could get. With the budget saved I may have been able to get another player or two I wanted to move for but for the fact that the budget had all been used up by that point. Despite that, 13 players is still more signings than in the previous 3 years put together, and it's certainly a considerable upgrade. Even the less-impressive signings are generally still a clear improvement over the predecessors.

When Alvarez is able to play in midfield proper that will just leave Jimmy Olssen (who I hope still has a little more room to develop at a higher level) from last year's lineup, though there is still room for some others to play a supporting role. I'm not often even able to make such drastic changes after promotion to the Premier League, so certainly there are no fears about having been able to improve the team a great deal, and high number of signings doesn't prove to be too much of a short-term issue we may be able to surprise people. As stands, just staying up will do me.

Signings

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On 14/10/2016 at 18:23, withnail316 said:

Hope they all settle in quickly and don't disrupt your rhythm too much...

It is indeed a gamble either way, but I hope it pays off.
 

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June 2020

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So far, so tough. Things looked promising enough in the first match at Hacken, who finished 7th last season. Carlos Andre became the first ever Limhamn Bunkeflo player to score in the Premier Division only to find ourselves 2-1 down. I felt the match had been pretty even and we deserved a point, which we got from van de Laak. AIK had been my first opponents in Sweden and the situation had changed considerably since then. Mainly it was due to our rise but while they were second last season, the had finished 7th the year before, having been reigning champions and very much top dogs the first time. round. Again we gave a decent account of ourselves though we eventually fell behind and they managed to get a late second from a penalty.

We next had the misfortune to play Atvidaberg and Jonkopings Sodra while they were still making a storming start to the season. In the first we were actually in the game for quite a while, with both Carlos Andre and van de Laak making long runs that didn't quite come off. Suddenly things all fell apart at the back and I felt 5-0 was rather harsh. the second game was one of those where we could easily have taken the lead only to see things swing the other way. We were looking like turning a corner at Halmstad. We went behind but a brace from Carlos Andre gave us the lead at half-time. We were agonizingly close to holding on to a badly needed win but the way which we lost it was infuriating, as Arce did a 'Shoretire' in the final minute of the regular 90, costing us a win that would have potentially been more valuable than the 2 extra points.

Expectations were low against Helsingborg but I didn't expect us to be 3-0 down at half-time. Van de Laak got a goal back early in the second half but we went on to concede twice more, which was crucial as we managed to get late second and third goals. Things didn't look great when we went behind at Hammarby as well but van de Laak equalized. He edged us ahead later on leading to a tense finish as we finally claimed a win! I was hoping to build on that at Gefle, who went up with us. We looked headed for defeat after going 2 goals down but goals from Carlos Andre and Johansson (who has been a revelation since getting back into the side) made me happier with a point than I would have been before the game, and we got another against Goteborg, who were surprisingly struggling this season. I had hoped for more from those two games but it did mean we were matches unbeaten, and with the bottom half of the table still very close these single points were still useful.

I felt our run was bound to end at reigning champions Oster so you can imagine my shock when after facing a lot of predictable pressure, van de Laak managed to give us the lead on the break! We actually looked like we would hold on to something for a while but after they equalized, they found it easy to go on to win 3-1. Despite the disappointment at failing to get a result (even a draw would have felt great) I couldn't complain. That's more than I could say about Kalmar, close enough to the drop zone that when we look the lead again I felt we should have gone on to get something. However they managed to take control and hit us with 3 goals which seemed to finish it, though a late second goal and a penalty claim denied showed that we still had some fight left.

It has really not been easy, but there's still cause for hope. I feel we have been worth more points than we've managed. Early on the difference was being made up front, when we had the opportunity to score goals that would either give us the initiative in a match of get us back in it, but then we started firing. Just like after the previous promotion, I looked to a new front two and while Carlos Andre and van de Laak have been far from perfect, their goalscoring record hasn't been bad, especially for a team stuck at the bottom for most of the season so far. It didn't take long for the defence to be the ones letting the side down, which is a shame given how much focus there was in pre-season and upgrading, and it seemed to reinforce my view that I needed to make all those changes because the team as it previously stood might have put up a decent fight sometimes but otherwise would have been seriously out of their depth.

Looking at the other teams we don't have a problem with our strength on paper as not many opponents could be considered that much stronger beyond a couple of players or so, but things just haven't gone our way so far, and maybe all those changes (Jimmy Olsson was the only starter against Hacken not to be making his debut) is having a short-term effect as well, with a bad start to the season making it harder to really get going. However it's still reasonably close and since the Hammarby win, Kalmar is the only result I feel disappointed by. Our rivals could still leave us in the dust with a decent burst of form but I feel we're starting to pick up a little bit of pace that should hopefully translate into better results (especially more wins) that could help us turn the tide in the relegation battle.

Short version: We've not been doing very well, the defence is terrible, otherwise we've been a bit unlucky and can still get out of trouble.

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Euro 2020 - Turkey

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It seems odd posting an FM13 update with FM17 having just emerged but here we go...

The standout groups were C and F for different reasons. F was the Battle of Great Britain with England, Wales and Scotland, the English got maximum points while the other 3 teams in the group could only draw, Wales sneaking through. England then knocked out the Dutch holders, who had edged through a proper Group of Death with Croatia, eventual winners Germany, and a Portugal team that did little to restore much pride after failing to make the last World Cup. Elsewhere Belgium (who I've seen win this specific competition multiple times) clearly aren't benefiting from their current generation in this save, scraping through behind Bosnia.

Once again we had a big nation winner against a surprise finalist, the Netherlands-Ukraine final last time being followed by Germany-Greece. The German victory was very much based on their grey players. At this point we are seeing a bunch of newgens get established (Ecuador's normal time goalscorer in their victorious WC final two years before was a very good one, now at Man City) but the Germans surprisingly haven't got anyone that impressive yet. I mentioned in the last Copa America update that Argentina may struggle a bit in the short-term if theirs aren't up to scratch, given their reliance on existing players whose remaining lifespan is very limited, and maybe the same will apply to Germany as well, potentially leaving the door open for another interesting WC winner in 2022, or maybe that will leave the door open for someone like France or Brazil to start making an impact.

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Aug 2020

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That's what I'm talking about! In the last update I mentioned that fortune hadn't been on our side so far this season, but we ended up being the lucky ones in a relegation battle clash with Mjalby, which looked like a dull 0-0 until a corner was knocked into the goal by one of their own defenders to give us a win right at the end. We looked forward to our first Malmo derby in the Premier Division but were quickly sunk by a couple of goals.

Going to table-topping Djurgarden meant going full defensive so I was shocked when Wikman gave us the lead! His chances were always going to be limited as Carlos Andre's understudy but I was delighted to see him score, as that meant he has done so for us in all 4 Divisions. If we had held on to it that would have taken us from last place to out of the bottom 3, and though we couldn't quite do it it was still enough to move us off bottom. Maybe I should have done the same against Elfsborg as despite getting an early van de Laak goal we collapsed to a 3-1 defeat, followed by a dull 0-0 against Hacken, a match I had hopes of winning.

Atvidaberg had taken 7 points for their first 3 matches but were win-less since, not just at the time of the match but also this update. Johansson had been a surprise success story this season and he gave us an early lead, which proved vital as were were on the back foot for a lot of the match, but managed to hold on to it. He repeated the trick at Jonkopings Sodra, followed by Carlos Andre breaking a long goal-scoring drought. I knew the rest of the match would be a defensive effort and we restricted them to just the one. The defence had been much improved since the early stages of the season, but they were once more a bit of a let down against Halmstad (who are actually down in the Second Division in my FM11 holiday save). Carlos Andre scored again (when you're hot, you're hot) but later in the half the hit us with 2 goals in the space of a few minutes, the second goal seeing the scorer past the defence and keeper effortlessly. We did actually have some chances to snatch a point later on.

The cup saw us go to Enskede and when Barrientos gave us the lead, we seemed to be comfortably going though. Another defensive lapse let them in to equalize but Carlos Andre managed to give us an extra-time winner, comically appearing not to know what to do when he received the ball at his feet almost next to the goal before finally tapping it in. Hammarby was a key match with Johansson suspended (and he would end up missing a run of matches due to injury) and Olsson being injured (so what's new?) but Tillman (drafted in as a replacement) gave us the lead. They equalized and I thought we had blown in (given how many results have depended on taking the lead and holding on, heck when I won that Mexican World Cup that's how we got past the quarters and semis) but Carlos Andre and van de Laak (ending his own dry run) gave us a 3-1 win in the end. The 'Go 2 goals up, get defensive and restrict them to a single consolation' trick also worked at Helsingborg, a match I was expecting nothing from, making it easily our biggest achievement of the season.

I knew we had better results in us, and we're definitely showing it now, even if 3 of our 5 league wins in the update were from home '6-pointers' the other two were still a strong sign of improvement. That has lifted us from bottom to having a strong margin, though most of our remaining matches are much tougher than the ones we've recently enjoyed so I still anticipate things getting much tighter near the end. Even our remaining matches against the teams around us are away and we still face all of the current top 4. I'm not sure we're completely free of the gravitational pull of the bottom 3 yet but as things stand it looks like promising for a good end to my time in Sweden.

Short version: We're suddenly going much better and are looking good to survive.

 

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Nov 2020

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Well, as I expected we struggled in the final matches of the season but had build up enough of a safely margin to be ok. We weren't necessarily that bad, but we often took the lead and lost it. Particularly annoying was surrendering 2-goal leads against Mjalby and Malmo within the space of 3 matches near the end, with Kalmar being the only match we were able to win. We might also have won against Djurgarden but suffered a missed penalty and and a disallowed Carlos Andre goal among many chances he should have score from. It didn't help that injuries and a few suspensions from the September international break onwards weakened us. However we did it, 12 place, only just getting above a point a match with a great draw at Elfsborg in the last match (averting another defeat after taking the lead from Tillman in his last match before retirement), which will certainly do me.

It has been an amazing 7 years, from the Second Division to the Premier. When I arrived I was just hoping for something to go vaguely right, seeing them as just an obscure lower division Swedish side that was better than nothing, but while the first promotion was suspected, the rest was much more than I imagined. However while budgets will no doubt improve with survival, I still feel like there isn't much more I can realistically expect to do so it's time to seek a new opportunity. I'm not sure what I can get but maybe somewhere in the top division in a lot of countries, maybe a promising lower division opportunity in the bigger nations otherwise. Perhaps that's aiming a little too high but I have plenty of time to look at options before settling on something. Ajax Cape Town came up very early on and I regret rejecting it given it quickly seemed like it would be hard to get anything anywhere near as good but we'll see.

Star Player: Most of last year's promotion-winning team were expected to play second fiddle for the new players this season, but the main exception was Johansson (and to a lesser extent Olsson) beating out Alvarez after quickly proving himself. He had a knack for crucial goals, following up his contribution in the later stages of last season with a few to help lift us out of trouble, though a suspension followed by a couple of injuries limited his impact after early August.

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Squad Stats

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OK, I have a new club now, though I won't reveal who it is until I'm ready to to a proper first update. What I will say is that I've traveled 1,827 or so miles, if that gives anyone a vague clue to what part of the world I'm in ;)

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Well done staying up in the Allsvenskan!

I actually was geeky enough to go look up on maps for that distance, and I suppose you're going to... Portugal? Somewhere in the centre, so a club like Académica, Leiria, Beira-Mar?

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I should just point out that I was using Google maps which gives distances for road/land journeys only. Not only is the direct distance quite a bit shorter, but that won't work for transoceanic trips where flights are the only option so I've decided to use a different site that calculates direct distances from now on for the sake of consistency, even if it means doing it between towns/cities rather than specific stadium locations. The actual distance is 1357 miles, if that helps any?

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Not that close, you mentioned Academica earlier and Coimbra is too far away but only by 100 miles or so (and the road trip was actually shorter).

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Well it's definitely around the Portuguese/Spanish border, but I can't tell which club...

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On 23/10/2016 at 22:09, noikeee said:

Well it's definitely around the Portuguese/Spanish border, but I can't tell which club...

Nowhere near I'm afraid. I think I've dragged this out with you longer than I meant to so I might as well reveal it now...

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Chapter 3: The Aegean Storm (Bucaspor)

Yes, I'm in the great historical city of Izmir (formerly Smyrna) on the western coast of Turkey. It's the 3rd largest in the country and one of the oldest settlements in the Mediterranean, as well as home to a number of football clubs over the years. Bucaspor have spent a single year in the Super League recently in real life, and had returned for a bit in-game before getting relegated last season, though they find themselves struggling to avoid a second successive relegation (just before I arrived they won their first league game in 7 to move out of the bottom 3). It may not seem like much after the Swedish Premier Division but the divisions are roughly the same level of reputation, Turkey is clearly a higher level as a nation, and I have much more money and I have a team (at least some players) that are clearly superior than I had in Sweden so it doesn't feel like a step down to me. Judging by how my search went in the month or so before this came up I still couldn't get anything that good, at least not in terms of budgets. To use offers from the English league as an indicator, just before I left Sweden I had only advanced to 'relegation-battling League 1'.

Bucaspor were founded in 1928 after a merger of quite a few clubs, playing at the Buca Arena of 10,500. They play in a really awesome-looking purple (though wikipedia calls it blue) and yellow kit and are nicknamed 'Firtinia' (Storm), which again is really cool. There's still a transfer budget of 2M, and a wage budget of 86kpw of which 49kpw is being used, so plenty of room (which is always very important) though I doubt at this level there will be many good potential signings to use it on. There is a limit of 5 foreigners in the squad with no matchday squad limits (which goes up to 8 in the Super League with matchday restrictions of 5) but given Turkey tends to be very strong at times in FM (they certainly did were the Ipswich save, being the team I beat in the World Cup final with Mexico, as well as winning the International league while I was with the Czech team in the last career) I have no worries about the level of the local talent.

I've never properly managed in Turkey before so this should be an interesting experience. I've got a lot to work with at a club with a cool nickname and kit, in an incredibly historic city and what I imagine is a lovely location (though I have actually been to Bodrum, quite a bit further South). I'm really looking forward to this, and if we can go up (which I think we should be aiming to do eventually) then that will be another decent step taken.

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I figured that distance to the East would be way outside playable leagues range... I was wrong.

Good move. I've had good times in Turkey, though I've never played in the lower leagues there. It's definitely a stronger footballing pyramid than Sweden.

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On 24/10/2016 at 09:30, noikeee said:

I figured that distance to the East would be way outside playable leagues range... I was wrong.

Good move. I've had good times in Turkey, though I've never played in the lower leagues there. It's definitely a stronger footballing pyramid than Sweden.

Well Turkey is a big country so the was quite a bit further I could go, and there is always Russia ;)

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Anyway since I've recently become aware of how long my updates can get I thought I'd get the squad assessment out of the way now. At first glance it certainly looked very good, and the top players were fantastic at that level, but beneath them the foundations weren't so solid. The first thing was that we were very short-handed in central defence, though needing 3 of them for my formation means that it's pretty unusual for me not to feel I need more depth there anyway. The second problem was the lack of midfielders who could actually play in central midfield (or at least not accomplished anyway), and in one case, on the wing. However aside from the quality of the star players, we also had a Turkish star forward along with a few very good young players, even if that meant my preferred line-up ended up involving a few players who were either very inexperienced or needed positional training, though joining a severely underachieving club in mid-season isn't something that often produces strong short-term form anyway so I was willing to play a longer-term game for the sake of being able to make use of my stronger players.

As expected, we already had the strength on paper to make it tricky to find players to make a difference (something that I had endured long enough in Sweden that getting away from it was a strong motivation for leaving), and only the foreign players offered by agents (something I've often not paid enough attention to in the past) caught the eye. This was a problem since as you can imagine we were not only at our limit already (having just come down from a league with a higher allowance) but there was one extra who was out on loan, and it wasn't easy deciding who had to make way. This is why I was only able to make one signing, a free agent Brazilian who was still a very valuable signing given his quality and what we really needed (though he still counted as inexperienced since he hadn't played a single match for his previous club in Brazil). I doubt we will be able to do much more in the short-term as unlike in Sweden, our rep will only go down, but we definitely have the quality that it may not matter when we can finally make use of it.

I'm not sure that will be this season. Firstly only sometimes does form clearly improve when arriving at a club in this situation. Secondly there's the issue of inexperience/positional ability. There isn't much expectation as the goal is just for a comfortable mid-table finish, presumably revised considerably downwards from the start of the season. Therefore unless it goes badly, the pressure will very much be off for a change and it'll mostly be biding time before a fresh start next season.

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Mar 2021

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I wasn't sure what to expect regarding how we'd do in the short-term, and the way things started seemed to suggest that I shouldn't be too carried away. We were 'only' 8 points from the playoffs when I arrived that meant there was a chance that a strong enough run of form made it possible to get in them but my first match at Sakaryaspor put a dampener on that idea. Star forward Sezai Unver was injured (though the upcoming winter break meant he was able to recover before the following matches) and along with new tactics and a team selection that probably needed time to develop (both in terms of experience and positional ability) it was a woeful performance.

Things improved after the winter break, with Unver showing his value with a goal, followed by new signing Reuber scoring in his first professional appearance. The trip to Kartalspor was one of those we really should have been comfortably winning before being hit with a late goal, but we managed to turn the situation around when things looked bleak against Manisaspor. We managed to pull off a big win at table-topping Karabukspor thanks to a goal from Alici, one of our best prospects. After that Unver got injured again for a few weeks, and that was followed by longer injuries to our other first-team forward, keeper and playmaker. That dampened expectations even more, and there was nothing notable about a draw at Eyupspor (I didn't realize there was a strong Yorkshire community in Turkey) or defeat against Trabzon 1461 (bonus points to anyone who knows the significance of that date), not to be confused with Trabzonspor despite the identical colours, a bit like Bohemians Prague and Bohemians 1905 (from Prague) with their shared green and white stripes.

So far it was roughly what I thought it would be like, a bit of an improvement lifting us up a few places but otherwise pretty middle of the road. However despite the key players we had out injured (though Unver had returned at least) we managed a 100% record in March, not always spectacularly (note that both Sivaspor goals came in stoppage time) but our shots on target percentage was remarkably high at times as things really clicked. Suddenly the prospect of snatching a playoff place was back on the agenda as we were now just 3 points from 6th and 5th with 5 matches left. We still need a strong finish but if we can do that we should be able to get into the top 6 and see if we can go up ahead of schedule.

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How are the squad rules in Turkey in 13? I think I remember there being pretty harsh non-Turkish limits in later games, combined with a high country youth rating, seems like it'd be a great fun country for developing homegrown squads.

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13 minutes ago, BoxToBox said:

How are the squad rules in Turkey in 13? I think I remember there being pretty harsh non-Turkish limits in later games, combined with a high country youth rating, seems like it'd be a great fun country for developing homegrown squads.

5 foreigners allowed to be registered in the First Division, 8 in the Premier Division but only 5 allowed in a match-day squad, or something like that since I did check that as well at some point after arriving. I think there is (or at least used to be) an extra allowance in real life for players from other Turkic nations (Azerbaijan and the 'Stans, which doesn't exactly provide many players worth getting) but that doesn't appear to be in-game which is why I don't know whether it still exists or not. I guess it was a bit complicated to add an extra eligibility group so it looks the maximum foreign player limit (at least as I remember reading it set out a while ago) applies to all nationalities.

I'd probably have to go up (which hopefully can be achieved next year if it doesn't happen this season) to really tap into the well of talent. I do have a few very promising young players already (I have a 17yr old starting defender, an 18yr old forward making waves and a first-choice winger of a similar age) but there wasn't anyone worth adding in the recent youth intake. Sweden wasn't too bad for young talent either, relative to the standard of the league (which is just as well as my transfer options were severely limited for the most part in the lower divisions) but I've especially enjoyed the Czech Rep in the past for having a good young talent pool to dip into.

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I always load Sweden because of that too, whether I'm playing there or not, lots of young talent, and cheap too for clubs outside of the top clubs/leagues. Must keep an eye on the Czech Rep in future.

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When I was managing in Bulgaria, Czech Rep was a VERY good market for poaching young talents...

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May 2021

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The season finished on an even better note than I imagined. We had our run of matches against easier teams continued with wins over Konyaspor (who someone I imagined being a bigger team) and Elazigspor. After that Goztepe was billed as an Izmir derby, and they were pretty close to us in the league but Unver and Reuber gave us a good 2-0 win, though the former then sustained a season-ending injuries. Despite various injuries and suspensions as the season drew to a close, we kept on going. The only real setback was when going behind at Kayseri Erciyesspor but we managed to come back Serbest (who was about to leave on a free) was rather an unlikely candidate to draw us level, and Granados gave us a winner. The Colombian was technically part of our first-choice forward partnership but injuries (he was injured when I arrived along with being one of the high profile casualties later on) and Alici's form meant he had been rather anonymous up to this point.

We had just about secured out playoff place ahead of the final match against Iskanderun, who looked likely to be our playoff opponents. I have to admit that I had rather underrated our Ghanaian midfielder/forward Bissue as the least of our foreign players (as one of those players who is average at a lot of things but not that strong at anything, at least technically) but he showed his value again to give us a 2-0 win. That result actually edged us ahead of them into 4th, which as higher than I expected us to reach but didn't change the playoff matchup. 

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Playoffs

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Right that was a disaster. After our league win over Iskanderun at the end of the regular season I was worried we had shot our bolt against them and the playoffs would go differently. The away leg was a disaster, a proper collective off-day that it's hard to avoid every so often but this one was especially badly timed. They took the lead from a penalty and easily ran up a 3-0 win, even if we kept it to that margin in the second-half. They didn't do very much in the second-leg but then again they didn't need to. We certainly had chances but even shots on target aren't much used of they weren't that threatening. Granados finally gave us a goal and a win on the night but we should have had at least one more and maybe even had it in us to level the tie.

I should say at first that when I took over I never expected it to be anywhere near as good in the short-term. I felt we could easily move clear of trouble, but otherwise wait to be able to show our full potential next season. We will still get that opportunity as we won 10 of our last 11 matches, but the one we didn't proved to be very costly. With a very strong team for this level staying together and maturing (with an expected lack of potential reinforcements to mess with squad familiarity) surely going up has to be the goal next season instead, but I'm delighted with how close we managed this time.

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Definitely a very badly timed off day. With the pattern of recent results, I see nothing to indicate you won't be able to go up next season.

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5 hours ago, noikeee said:

Definitely a very badly timed off day. With the pattern of recent results, I see nothing to indicate you won't be able to go up next season.

Without a doubt that's what we need to aim for, even without that being the board expectation anyway. I arrived exactly half-way through the season and after winning just 4 out of 17 matches at that point, we won 13 of the remaining 17 in the regular season despite a sluggish start, 14/18 if you count the playoffs. That's definitely promotion form, especially as spread across the whole season that would have given us 26 wins and no one managed more than 19 this year. We could be even better as we should have a more settled side (though I might manage a few good reinforcements) and a few players with some more experience and/or positional ability. The goal is very much to be promoted and to manage it pretty comfortably. I won't complain too much about any sort of promotion but anything less would feel disappointing.  

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Gold Cup 2021

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Poor Mexico still can't catch a break. They at least made it out of the group stage this time though fell to two-time winners Honduras afterwards. Costa Rica were also making up for a shock early exit 2 years ago and managed to make it to the final, losing out to Jamaica.

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Summer 2021

I wasn't expecting very much movement this summer, with a high standard of players already for this level and the foreign player cap limiting the ability to bring in the stronger players available. I had a pleasant surprise when I found myself able to grab an incredible young attacking midfielder from Konyaspor, just after he turned 16. He still needs a while to get trained to play in central midfield but there was no hurry. I had mentioned the lack of players who could actually play in midfield earlier and wanted to add some more depth in that area. Atmacan fit the bill as the sort of Turkish player I was expecting, not fantastic but still useful, and with a central defensive hole to fill as well I was able to get rid of Bissue to free up a foreigner slot.

We had mentioned good nations for youth talent a little earlier and Croatia had recently emerged as one of those. In the last FM13 career I had noticed a bunch of pretty good young players at Croatian clubs (and a pretty wide variety as well, not just Dinamo or Hajduk) on my radar, even they didn't generally turn into signings. It was no surprise to see a handful more pop up as decent potential signings. With the foreign player limit there wasn't much point getting in players on potential alone but Kevric emerged with enough development to be just the man I needed, though it did mean that we were now usin 4 of our 5 foreign player slots in defence. After another decent midfield signing to give us the depth we needed there (given Kireker isn't an option for the time being) found Seker as a strong Turkish option who could slot in on the right when not needed in the middle.

Signings

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Your screenies are always a bit low-res/blurry, but from what I can tell Kevric looks a very good player for that level.

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20 minutes ago, noikeee said:

Your screenies are always a bit low-res/blurry, but from what I can tell Kevric looks a very good player for that level.

It's annoying that it happens, especially as they're fine when I paste them but I sometimes see a blurring effect when I hit 'save', and it's been going on for years. You might have noticed that it's hard to even see player names in teams that wear red and blue. Anyway Kevric has been excellent so far.

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8 minutes ago, deltablue said:

It's annoying that it happens, especially as they're fine when I paste them but I sometimes see a blurring effect when I hit 'save', and it's been going on for years. You might have noticed that it's hard to even see player names in teams that wear red and blue. Anyway Kevric has been excellent so far.

What method are you using to take screenies and upload them? Sounds like you've got a program or your webhost reducing them in size.

I used to do Alt+F9 in FM -> open the screenies in Paint.Net and crop them -> convert them all to JPG with a different program -> upload to Imgur. Bit too much work, so now that I had a bug in FM that Alt+F9 wasn't working, I found out a better method. I downloaded a program called Lightshot that I've configured to save all images as JPG, and gives me a tool to automatically crop the screen as soon as I take the screenie. They all come out ready to upload, it's pretty great and quick!

I might write a quick guide on how to do this on the general discussion thread if I've got the time.

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Sounds interesting. I've always done it theold-fashioned way... hitting the 'print screen' button and pasting into paint.

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Nov 2021

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We made a fantastic start to the season. Beating Boluspor was perhaps expected but going to relegated Altay was a far tougher challenge, one I was amazed to come away with a win from. Karabukspor were promotion candidates last season but we comfortably beat them as well. It soon became clear we wouldn't have it all our own way with slightly disappointing back-to-back draws against Kartalspor and Marasspor ending a run of 12 straight wins in regular league games going back to the start of March. We looked to be back on form with a win over Kirklarelispor before we fell to a first defeat against Tavsali Linyitpor. I had hoped that a late Reuber equalizer would give us a point before a they got a winner. At that moment we had enough early points dropped that we were struggling to impose ourselves on the promotion race but we were still close to the top.

After that we really hit our stride. I must admit that I was pondering replacing Granados in the summer but now he had more of a chance to show what he could do this season, he was really shining in a deadly striking partnership with Unver. The latter needed almost all I could offer to be persuaded to stay this season, knowing this one would be the promotion push. They dominated the scoring charts as we won 6 matches in a row, which included away wins over big promotion rivals Adana DS and Goztepe as well as knocking Premier Division Istanbul BBSK out of the cup. Things went slightly wrong at Iskenderun, the team who beat us in the playoffs. Benali and Granados gave us a 2-1 lead which I thought would be enough to sit back on. Even a draw didn't seem too bad but they got a stoppage time winner. I really don't like them.

We could still get a big advantage in the next match against 3rd placed Manisaspor. We had a 4-point lead over them so a draw would still suit us but Benali and Benirci put us 2-0 up and though they pushed us close in the end we got a win that made us look comfortable for automatic promotion. After our Premier Division giant-killing we faced Second Division Alanyaspor and were behind at the break, though a second-half surge gave us a comfortable win. Unfortunately Unver went off injured early on and Granados wasn't for after his own minor injury for the next match. Yurtseven was out at the end of an injury of a couple of weeks as well and we fell rather flat at Eyupspor, Yorkshire's favourite Turkish club. After going behind a penalty leveled it but we were on the back foot and I couldn't complain at an eventual defeat.

Despite losing 2 of the last 3 league games we're still joint-top with a 6-point advantage over 3rd, thanks to having only dropped 7 points before then. The battle for top spot looks tough but I think we should be able to stay in the automatic promotion places. Unfortunately Unver is out for 3 months (his second injury of such a length this year) but the 4-week break (which is a lot later this season than last) should take up most of the final month of that.

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Feb 2022

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I was worried we were slipping heading into December without Unver, but those fears seemed unfounded, at least at first. We got knocked out of the cup against Kayseri Erciyesspor but I didn't mind that too much, especially as I wanted to make the most of the winter break and if we wouldn't have had that with further progress, especially as if we had won we'd have been a single round away from a group stage (yes, yet another domestic cup with a group). In the league, we won all three remaining matches to go into that break with a very comfortable margin.

When we returned, things took a different direction. Unver's injury was also compounded by Granados getting another knock just before the first match back, right after recovering from another one. He was one of a few players with injuries or not fit enough after recovering from one. Altay had recovered from a poor start to be serious contenders and should have beaten us by more than 1-0, then we recovered only enough to get a 0-0 draw at Karabukspor. We played bottom club Kartalspor and took the lead from Yurtseven but a failure to get another seemed to cost us when they knocked in an equalizer. Unver's injury meant young Caner Capa was the first backup and he had managed to get some good opportunities from it, and he got a winner in the nick of time.

We seemed to be improving in form, managing two more wins but they were only narrow and against weaker teams. Right at the end of the transfer window we lost Reuber when his surprisingly low release clause was activated, leaving us a little short in defence, especially on the left where we were reliant on Pavez. More injuries and suspensions were stacking up and it seemed fitting that Unver returned from injury by coming on after Granados got a knock. It wasn't a major crisis but we were still being stretched thinly in areas, especially with both playmakers being injured at the same time meant Kireker needed to make a few appearances before he was ready.It wasn't so much about not having anyone available in certain positions but not having alternatives in a lot of cases to unfit players had to stay in the team and we were stuck with poorly performing players. Two tricker games to end the month produced the first back-to-back defeats since I took over.

The position still isn't too bad but for a while it looked like we'd avoid too much pressure, and even potentially look forward to winning the league, and now we're in more of a serious fight. I'm still reasonably confident of automatic promotion but we're in severe danger of missing out if we can't pick up a bit.

 

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May 2022

 

It wasn't the most promising run-in.  Adana DS were recovering from a mid-season slump to be serious challengers again and in a way I was happy not to lose but with both Altay and Manisaspor on form we needed wins. We managed to get one at Mersin IY but only thanks to a single Unver goal, the only real moment of quality in a poor game. It was frustrating playing sides firmly in the bottom-half of the table and seeing them be enough of a threat to have to close up shop later on. We went behind in a home Izmir derby against Goztepe before Unver (by now having beaten his own record for goals in a season despite his injuries) headed in a cross to give us a point. 

Fethiyespor were second-bottom so when Erdem headed in a corner to give us the lead at the end of the first half, we seemed set for an unimpressive but expected win. Unfortunately we conceded a penalty (widely considered to be rather harshly awarded). The same problem proved to be our undoing against Iskenderun, a team I've quickly grown to dislike. The match looked like a stalemate and while in itself it wasn't costly, that was only because they banged in another shortly afterwards. The top 2 were threatening to pull away and I didn't fancy our chances in the playoffs, the promotion dream was fading fast. We next had to go to Manisaspor and if we lost we'd be 6 points adrift with 3 matches left, even a draw would make it hard to catch up the way things were going.

My surprise was considerable when Yurtseven gave us an early lead. It didn't last but we proved strong enough to at least look like potentially getting another. I didn't expect us to be able to do it but then FM's infinite capacity to surprise struck again. At the start of stoppage time we won a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area, up stepped Yurtseven and.... 2-1!!!!!! That actually took us above them on head-to-head results (though if it had been down to goal difference they would have been comfortably ahead) and suddenly the fading promotion hopes were given a massive boost. They had two goals disallowed as well, so you have to feel for them.

The final few matches were against relatively unchallenging oppostion on paper, but it didn't quite work out that way. The Eyupspor match was the 300th of the career and Granados gave us the lead. Unfortunately the attack wasn't good enough to get more than 1 goal in most matches at the moment, and the defence had been enough of a mess that it wouldn't be good enough, and so it proved with another equalizer. By the time we went to Gungorenspor our injury problems had mostly cleared up, for the first time since the winter break. However it seemed fitting that just as Unver returned (helped by an extra week since the previous match, no idea why) Granados had to go off. Unver managed to give us the lead but although the defence was a little more competent at last, we still couldn't quite hold on to a win and a clean sheet.

That left the final match against Korfez, a match we needed to win, and if we couldn't get a home win against a side already relegated, we didn't deserve to go up. We deserved full marks for putting them under pressure early on but as it stayed 0-0, other results were going against us. Finally during yet another siege, Unver had the foresight to roll the ball casually sideways to Yurtseven to slot home. Was it enough, or had we already blown it?

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We did it, just. We remained ahead of Manisaspor at the end of the season thanks to their own failings. For example in the penultimate round they had the lead but conceded an equalizer, taking the pressure off us to hold on and beat Gungorenspor, which is just as well given we didn't. Manisaspor also drew first blood on the final day before losing 3-1, and while our eventual win made it academic. It did mean that if we had let it slip (unlikely given how firmly on top we were but these things can still happen) they would have gone up instead, though we still had Adana DS to worry about.

We scored 41 points out 54 up until the winter break, afterwards we only managed 24 out of 48, with just 3 wins from the last 11 matches so the feeling was very much one of relief instead of joy. We'd certainly need to play like we did earlier in the season as opposed to later to have much chance of surviving, especially as the opportunity to upgrade the team will be limited. We can have 8 foreign players but only 5 in the match-day squad, which isn't really a change from the 5 we could have before with no squad selection limits.

Star Player: There were perhaps a few contenders but Kevric clearly gets it on average rating. He was very strong from the start and a poor run later on (much like the rest of the defence) didn't stop him from setting a new club record.

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Squad Stats

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4 hours ago, BoxToBox said:

Thank goodness you made it up!

Oh I know, we were looking so good for a while then it just looked like we were throwing it all away. Yurtseven may only be 20 but he's probably earned himself cult hero status already with that vital free-kick against Manisaspor and promotion-clinching goal later on.

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World Cup 2022 - Qatar

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I'm very glad that I'm following the international scene in a bit more depth this time because that has already led to some interesting stories developing. The first is Argentina. They have won all 3 Copa Americas so far but after last time I was wondering whether they could do it on a global stage with their real-life stars getting on a bit, so it was a shock to see them go out at the group stage for the second time in a row after a 3rd place in 2014 (which I have to remind myself was a fictional tournament in the context of this save). They're still doing better than Portugal who are again absent entirely.

Mexico had a very positive start given their struggles in the Gold Cup, managing a 100% record in a tough group featuring Romania (runners up last time), the Qatari hosts who look a lot more decent then you'd expect them to be, and Ghana. Unfortunately that meant they ran straight onto holders Ecuador after they lost out to South Korea in their own group. Ecuador have given a good account of themselves since their big win 4 years ago, reaching the final of the following Copa America and only going out in extra-time to a very strong Italy side in the semi's this time, while Wales have followed up their 2014 win with multiple quarter-final appearances.

I was wondering whether the big nations would assert themselves and while Italy did make the final and only lost on penalties, Russia joined Ecuador and new champions Colombia in the last 4. The Colombians are maybe not quite as big a shock as the predecessors but it's still a surprise. They do have a very good team but maybe not quite on the same level as the Italians they beat.

Next year will be a big one for the non-European continents, especially as only the Gold Cup is on a 2-year cycle rather than 4-years so the year after the World Cup is essentially when the other tournaments get their focus. We're had 2 Japan-South Korea finals in Asia with 1 win apiece, 3 different Gold Cup winners that aren't Mexico (with multiple Honduran triumphs), Morocco on back to back African wins, and a dominant Argentine run in South America to potentially be broken.

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