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[FM17] FC Rostov - from one-season wonder to the new force?

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While all the football world followed the miracle of Leicester City, Russia almost had its own. FC Rostov, barely avoided relegation a season before, fought for the title till the last matchday, eventually losing to CSKA by only 2 points.

The man who created this success was Kurban Berdyev. After winning two Russian league titles with Rubin he resigned in 2012 and stayed unemployed for almost two years. Accepting the offer from Rostov was quite a surprise, as the club was bottom of the table and was widely predicted for relegation. Berdyev managed to move Rostov up to 14th place and win in the relegation play-offs.  Next season the squad was strengthened with some ex-Rubin players (like Christian Noboa, Cesar Navas and Alexandr Bukharov), familiar with Berdyev’s coaching style and tactics. Rostov’s counter-attacks worked great against top Russian teams but more defensive sides caused them problems, and despite defeating CSKA, Zenit and Spartak they finished as runners-up, though that was surely the great achievement for the team and the city.

But the reality of Russian football is quite sad, even the qualifying to Champions League didn’t attract any sponsors, the club still had debts and some players chose to leave. As for Berdyev, he started the season as the manager but the contract extension talks were unsuccessful, and after defeating Anderlecht he resigned…  just to be appointed as a director few days later. Hard to explain the reason of such change, but one remained unchanged – he’s in charge of the team, the tactics and overall style of the play are still the same.



The nationality is a tribute both to Iranian players in the squad and to my personal experience in FM, where almost in every career I found some really good Iranians for my teams (even managed to win the World Cup with them in FM09). Kurban Berdyev is the DoF and at the same time assistant manager, his experience should be valuable at the start.





5-1-2-2 DM, how it appears in FM terms. Tactics that may be viewed as ‘parking the bus’, but proved to be effective in attack too. Also chose more popular 4-1-2-3 as the reserve one.

Squad Depth


We have quite a good starting goalkeeper, but without any decent backup. Shouldn’t be an issue though unless Djanaev gets injured.


For the chosen formation the depth surely wasn’t enough, so the only pre-season transfer came into this position. U17 European champion Khodjaniazov was loaned from Danish side AGF as a rotational player. The best central defender in the game is surprisingly Papa Gueye (probably his stats remained unchanged from some years ago, when he was really good in Ukrainian league, as he’s nowhere that good now IRL).



Not so much quality for wing-backs, but at least we have two players for each wing. So far Kudryashov and Kalachev seem to be better options for starting 11.


Alexandr Gatcan, one of the toughest players in the league, obviously takes the starting DM spot. Young Iranian Ezzatollahi is a depth option too.


Christian Noboa is the team’s best player so far. The only downside is his expiring contract and highest wage in the club. Selling him may be the option, but before the Champions League campaign we hardly can find a replacement.


While the backroom staff say Bukharov is the best striker, I’d go with younger and quicker players as starters – Sardar Azmoun and Dmitry Poloz (his rating should be clearly better after fully accomplishing the position).


So we’re ready to start…


Seems quite realistic, though a round earlier than it happened IRL. Let’s see if we can get past them here too.

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July-August 2016


Our journey in the Champions League started with an early goal – Azmoun finished from the area line after a nice combination. Unfortunately, Ajax equalized soon with unlucky own goal by Navas and managed to hold the draw till the final whistle. Even having a man advantage for the last 20 minute didn’t help us, a trip to Amsterdam is going to be really tough.

In the opening league game against CSKA I actually didn’t expect much, especially with a highly rotated squad. Traore gave advantage to the visitors early in second half, but few minutes later Granat equalized from a free kick. And when the game was close to ending, substitute forward Moussa Doumbia fired a ball from about 25 meters past Akinfeev! That goal simply destroyed the opponents and soon Ezzatollahi scored another goal in a counter.

Ajax quickly got a lead in the second leg with El Ghazi goal and were close to extend it, but instead Noboa equalized with a long shot closer to half-time. And in the second half Azmoun scored two, actually ending the game. We passed to the play-off round and were drawn with Shakhtar. Impossible draw IRL due to political reasons, but FM luckily doesn’t have all these restrictions. Would be tough to beat anyway.

Kudryashov got a hip injury in training and is out for 2 months, so I had to seek a short-term replacement and found young Serbian left-back Miroslav Bogosavac on loan.

Another early goal by Noboa allowed us to play in our comfortable style. Spartak’s offensive moves were not too dangerous without injured Promes, and our counters were as usually good. One of them ended with an own goal and actually secured a victory.

Playing against more defensive sides is quite hard for this tactics, especially with rotated and not so deep squad. We had some chances against Ural, but it was not enough to score and win.

The game against Shakhtar started well for us, Gueye deflected the ball into net after a corner on 5th minute. Unfortunately, after that only visitors scored in first half, their defensive midfielder Stepanenko had an extremely lucky day, scoring twice with long shots. 1-2 at the half-time, certainly not what we expected at home. But the beginning of second half was just great, first Poloz equalized after Granat’s cross, then Mevlja beat opponents’ keeper after a free kick, and finally Noboa tapped the ball in after another corner. Shakhtar didn’t seem to give up and got one goal back, but in the injury time Poloz scored his second and returned the 2-goal lead, quite solid before a trip to Ukraine.

The schedule wasn’t kind for us, at 4 starting league games we faced CSKA, Spartak and Zenit. And surely Zenit is the strongest of them all, at least now in August. We managed to reply quickly to their first penalty goal, but just before the half-time they scored two in a minute, effectively ending it all. Our first loss in a season but it obviously would be forgotten if we manage to qualify into CL group stage.

In the middle of first half Shakhtar managed to score, Taison converted cross by Srna into goal. We still led on the aggregate, but a lot less comfortable as any accidental deflection could give opponents the away goal advantage. Luckily, shortly before half-time Azmoun won a penalty, and Noboa was precise. A draw, which equaled a win and meant our qualifying for the group stage, and of course, MONEY :D 


We remained the last team to draw, and that’s actually similar to RL group (Bayern, Atletico, PSV). Two big teams and one which seems to be our rival for 3rd place.

On the same day we signed Dutch midfielder Sinan Keskin on a free transfer. As our budgets remain unchanged, this probably will be the last transfer in this window.

Two goals from Dmitry Poloz gave us the win in the last summer match, but unfortunately shortly after half-time our striker picked up an injury and will miss about 2 months.


So far it goes much better than I could expect. Zenit seems unstoppable so far, but anyway there are only 5 games played and everything can change.  

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September 2016


A trip to Siberia wasn’t too easy. Some key players, like Azmoun and Noboa, were initially rested, but had to come into the game after half-time and made the difference.

Our debut match in the Champions League group didn’t go as well as I may expect. Despite having enough chances to score we didn’t convert anything. Doumbia was especially poor in finishing, but really I don’t have many options right now :D So most likely we'll need a win in Belgium... or maybe to claim some points against bigger teams.

We played really poor away at Ufa, but with only 3 shots on goal (against 13) still managed to get a point. Bukharov equalized after a nice through pass from Keskin.

Knocked out of the cup and not bothered at all. Our squad depth is not enough to compete there as well.

The final game of the month started like a predictable whipping, Aubameyang, Schurrle and Dembele simply didn’t notice our defense and we were lucky to concede only three before half-time. But they became complacent too early, Bukharov managed to score twice and made the home fans really nervous. Honorable result after all, despite the defeat.


Not so much changed, we’re still in contention for 2nd place and Zenit even increased the lead despite losing to Arsenal Tula.

Sinan Keskin was included into team of the month, seems like a good signing already.

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October 2016


Bukharov is a master of consolation goals. His volley strike from outside the box against former team was good, but it wasn’t enough even for a draw after 80 minutes of poor play.

Krylja Sovetov were so far the first team using the same formation with us. 10 defenders on the pitch didn’t promise much attacking football, so chances were mostly expected after set pieces. And that’s how we actually scored both goals, Yerokhin scored one and assisted on the other.

Before the match against Juventus I was finally able to use the strongest squad without any injury problems. However, we were still a much weaker side, and Dybala’s goal in the middle of first half was quite predictable. Maybe some luck will be with us at home, who knows.

Anji scored first after a free kick, and less than in a minute Azmoun equalized. After that start some may expect a high scoring game, but the score remained 1:1 till the final whistle.

It took us almost the whole first half to break Arsenal’s defense, but finally Yerokhin made it and the game was actually done. Visitors played too poorly and none of their offensive attempts was really dangerous.


CSKA is challenging Zenit with two matches in hand. As for our position, it’s still solid.

Khodjaniyazov’s free kick against Tula was selected as the best in the month, and Yerokhin was the third best player of the league.

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@Bigpapa42 glad to hear, quite a specific league but can be fun to manage.

November-December 2016


Despite the huge disadvantage in shots and possession, there was only one situation when Djanaev really had to save us, parrying the ball after Mandzukic’s header. All other visitors’ attacks ended with our solid defending. A draw which gave us one-point advantage above Brugge.

Dmitry Poloz started his career in Lokomotiv, but was never called to the first team and left for Rostov in 2012. Once again he proved them wrong, scoring two goals. Bogosavac suffered the unluckiest injury I’ve seen for a long time – he slipped while running down the wing and broke his ankle.

Alexandru Gatcan, our captain and starting defensive midfielder, broke his foot playing for national team. 4-5 months can be close to the end of career at his age :( Even worse injury for Bukharov, damaged cruciate ligaments and 8-10 months out. And finally Keskin is out for a month, not so serious, but those last games of the year are going to be tough.

With all those injuries and some players’ poor conditions I had to alter the squad a lot, so even a home fixture against bottom team could be a test for us. Luckily, Orenburg’s keeper missed the ball after a cross from Yerokhin and Doumbia headed into empty net.

Brugge hit the woodwork twice during the match but anyway it was too boring game from both sides to claim a win. We remain third ahead of the final group game and just need to hope that Belgians wouldn’t beat Juventus in away match (or to beat Dortmund ourselves, but guess that would be harder :D )

That series of somewhat lucky results came to the end in Krasnodar. They managed to equalize just after our first goal, and in the second half Petrov scored the winner from the rebound.

We started with some dangerous attacks, but were unsuccessful and soon conceded a goal. Being ahead, Terek controlled the ball barely allowing us to reach it. Match was close to the end when Gueye made a long, almost hopeless cross towards the opposite box, but Doumbia was first on the ball and scored! Luck was with us again, surely.

The final league game of the year put us against CSKA, who are in a great form now and surely wanted to get a revenge for our first match. But we managed to surprise opponents sometimes, and actually did it again. Akinfeev fumbled the ball after Granat’s free kick, and Kudryashov placed it home. Soon after half-time Natcho equalized, again from a free kick, but that was all they managed to do. Another good performance, but there was one serious issue…


Our next match is in 3 days, and the second registered keeper is also injured. So actually we can end with outfield player in goal against Dortmund.

Djanaev finally was ready for the game, with 77% condition but still it’s better than nothing. And surely he helped us, though can’t say he really had much work. Dortmund had the possession, but managed to get only 4 shots on target. Even we had 5, and finally made one of them count. Azmoun avoided offside after a pass by Doumbia and chipped the ball over Weidenfeller. Great way to finish the year!


Russian Premier League


CSKA slowed the pace a bit, allowing Zenit to improve the gap. Looks like the title will surely go to one of them (not a surprise though). We are in the battle for European places with Terek, Spartak, Rubin, and I think Lokomotiv and Krasnodar can still join us recovering after poor start.

Champions League


Did exactly what I hoped for, 3rd place above Brugge and even won the last game. CSKA managed to get 2nd place in their group, good result for them.


And not the toughest draw for the next round, a chance to advance further.

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February 2017

I hoped we’ll get at least some transfer budget for winter, but it still remained zero. So I only managed to sign two free players – Senegalese keeper Ibrahima Sy and Finnish/Afghan midfielder Mostagh Yaghoubi. A bit more depth and less age in the squad now :D 


Also offloaded some of those who don’t seem to have a chance in first team.

The first youth intake also took place. Gudukin has the best assessed potential, but I think Abakarov can be better with his mental skills.


Didn’t know that van der Vaart is playing in Denmark now. His physical stats are awful of course, but passes and set pieces are dangerous as before. However, we were far better team in this match, scored an early goal after a corner and controlled the game. Azmoun scored the second goal closer to the final whistle, making our advantage more solid before a second leg.

Early goal from Poloz should have ended this game, but our own mistakes gave Midtjylland a chance. 3:1 with 10 minutes to go, though we managed to withstand and advance with an away goal.


Familiar opponent, and would be very hard to beat. What’s more funny with that schedule, we’ll face Zenit three times during a week.

Ural played much better than could be expected from 15th placed team. After our first goal they had some chances to equalize but thanks to Djanaev and defenders we remained ahead, and then Noboa scored another with a long shot.


Jumped up to 3rd place, though it’s mostly nominal now.

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March 2017


Doumbia scored the only goal after intercepting a back pass from Spartak defender. However, this result was deserved rather than just lucky, visitors didn’t get any shot on target at all.

Zenit started the first match as it was expected, with attacks, and one of them resulted in Dzyuba’s goal after a couple of reflections. After getting an advantage they still controlled the game but we managed to equalize – Doumbia finished the counter after good defending on a corner. Unfortunately, we couldn’t hold on this draw, Danny scored twice in the remaining time and gave Zenit a lead before the second leg.

But before this we had to play in the league, and at home it was much better. Zenit still had more shots and possession, but overall it was an equal match with a fair result.

In the last part of this ‘trilogy’ we had to take more risks and unfortunately lost. Two goals before the half time and two yellow cards for Mevlja actually ended our European campaign, but in the second half we played much better, getting rid of any pressure. Poloz scored one back and was close to equalizing, anyway ending the game with quite a creditable result.

Tom defended too well for us (or maybe we just underestimated them). Poloz had the best chance to score in the second half, but missed a penalty.


Despite that unlucky draw, we increased the gap from 4th place. With only one competition remained, think we have a good chance to remain in top 3 till the end.

Djanaev was selected into team of the month. Fair enough, he didn’t concede any league goal since new year.

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April 2017


Amkar had more chances in the first half but couldn’t convert any of them, and our counters were a lot more successful. Two goals from Noboa and one from Poloz soon after half-time sealed our win.


Well… if it goes through, maybe new chairman will at least clear our debts.

Poloz gave us an early lead, but it didn’t take long for Ufa to equalize. After that goal we had the possession but all our efforts were stopped by visitors’ keeper Sarnavskiy. Unfortunately missed the chance to increase the gap more.

Game against Rubin was close to end with another draw despite our advantage, but Poloz won a header after Kalachev’s cross, ball hit the post, deflected from keeper’s back and crossed the line.

We played poorly against Krasnodar but still had a chance to get a draw. Few seconds before the final whistle Poloz won a penalty, Noboa stepped up and their keeper saved :( 

Two teams with 5-defender formations and a predictably boring game. However we still remained 3 points ahead, so the result can be considered positive for us.

Timofey Kalachev declined sharply in his physical skills, so rarely plays in starting 11. But in this match I decided to give him a chance, and that worked well. Despite the only Anji goal started with his giveaway, both our goals were scored with his assists too.


Title for Zenit and 2nd place for CSKA have only to be confirmed mathematically, as well as Arsenal’s relegation.

Papa Gueye was selected into team of the month.

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May 2017


Arsenal was by far the weakest team in the league and officially relegated after this match. Keskin scored his first goal for our club and added two assists, while Azmoun ended the long goal drought which started in February.

Meanwhile in Champions League…

Orenburg played well against us, but their own mistakes were decisive. Goalkeeper Abakumov collided with own defender shortly before half-time, allowing Poloz a shot to the open net. In the second half Poloz won a penalty, and Noboa scored the second goal. Their goal from a long shot on 88th minute looked great but was nothing more than a consolation.

Goals from direct free kicks appear not so often in FM, so scoring two in one match is obviously an achievement. Noboa did it, but Lokomotiv managed to equalize both times. We already qualified to Europa League and are 3 points clear from Krylja Sovetov, so a draw will be enough in the final game.

5 of our 6 recent goals were scored from outside the box, that’s something weird :D Overall that was a nice entertaining game, which gave us bronze medals in the end. 


Zenit won the cup too, giving the last Europa League place to Lokomotiv. Dinamo and Kuban promoted from the FNL, while Yenisey and Tosno beat their opponents in playoffs, so next season we’ll see four new teams in our league.



Best Player: Criscito (Zenit)

Players’ Select: Criscito (Zenit), Fernandes (CSKA), Witsel (Zenit)

Top Goalscorer: Tosic (CSKA) – 13, Smolov (Krasnodar) – 13, Jonathas (Rubin) – 12

Goalkeeper of the Year: Lodygin (Zenit)

Young Player of the Year: Sheidaev (Tom)

Manager of the Year: Vercauteren (Krylja Sovetov)

Team of the Year

Didn’t expect much, so glad at least Noboa was acknowledged.


European Review

Champions LeagueJuventus totally deserved it. Demolition of Barcelona in semi-final and 89th minute winner from Higuain in the spectacular final in Cardiff. 

Europa League – no surprises actually, the team having far the best squad won it.

England – Man City, Arsenal, Man Utd

Spain – Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico

Germany – Bayern, Dortmund, Leverkusen

Italy – Juventus, Inter, Napoli

France – PSG, Monaco, Lyon

Netherlands – Feyenoord, Ajax, Vitesse

No big sensations either.


And a few days after the season ended we got a new chairman. Tigran Hakopyan didn’t provide extra budget so far, but at least the embargo was finally lifted.

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Pre-season 2017/18


Good news first, Russia gained extra Champions League place for next season, so more chances for us.


Kurban Berdyev left us for Zenit, replacing retired Lucescu.


Transfer budget of € 200k made us rely mostly on expiring contracts market but still we managed to strengthen the squad. 

Pavel Dudnik, Andrey Vvedenskiy, Alexandr Mikhailov, Sergey Yefimov, Andrey Yamlikhanov – poached some youth players from non-professional clubs.

Ash Kigbu – released from Man City. Can become a key player for us in future, and I think can get some playing time already in this season.

Vitaly Ustinov – versatile full-back who can cover both wings. Will certainly provide some depth.

Ramazan Isaev – young Russian forward who played in Serbia. Another nice depth option for us.

Alexey Yevseev – signed him quickly in January before realizing he’s not going to be even on the bench within current squad. Sent him on loan shortly after.

Nemanja Maksimovic – our midfield didn’t actually need much strengthening, but I simply couldn’t go past him. A Serbian international joined us as a starting playmaker.

Christ Kouassi – young Ivorian released from Krasnodar, has a good potential but still needs lots of work to reach it.


Those should have been all our summer transfers, but…



Just a few days before the league started Hull City offered us 14,5 million for Azmoun. He was a very important player for us but I decided to accept. So we’ll need a new forward and probably some other players to arrive in August (at least we have money for it :D


And some international news at last. Russian national team with Djanaev and Granat in the squad hosted the Confederations Cup, but couldn't advance from the group, losing to Portugal and Mexico. Russia U21 played much better this summer, winning the European Championships with Khodjaniyazov as our representative.

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Hurts to lose Azmoun, but its hard to keep really good players in a league like Russia when clubs from bigger leagues come calling. Nice signing Maksimonvic - I've eyed him up in a couple of saves. Should make a really solid midfielder for you.

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8 hours ago, Koetzer said:

Yes, it was a hard choice, but I considered this offer too good to refuse. And anyway it's easier to find a replacement for a good foreign player than for a Russian one.

Yeah, I'd say you got good value for Azmoun. And definitely easier to replace a non-Russian player. There are always good options in South America and eastern Europe. And given how players can overreact when you won't sell them, you have to pick your battles I find. 

Look forward to the new season. 

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July-August 2017



Transfers first:

Domingos Duarte – an alternative to our aging defence.

Soares – should replace Azmoun in the first team. Unfortunately arrived injured for 2 weeks.

Evgeny Savchenko – maybe a risky deal for the 16-year old player, but he has the potential and is natural at wing-back position, which is quite rare.

Georgy Schennikov – really a strange decision from CSKA management to exchange him for Fedor Kudryashov without any additional fee. Georgy is surely a better player, current international and 4 years younger.

Oleg Ivanov – signed by DoF at the deadline day, shows some potential surely.



Our finishing against Amkar was poor, only 5 shots on target from 24, but still we managed to score twice and win. Poloz assisted to Doumbia and then scored the second goal by himself.

Before the first home game of the season we moved to the new stadium, built for the 2018 World Cup. The first half on the new arena was quite boring and ended without goals, then I decided to replace Doumbia with our newcomer Isaev, and he really made the difference. Won a penalty first, and then added his two debut goals for our club, that really seems to be a nice addition to the squad.

Immediate impact from Schennikov, his two assists gave us a win. And both goals were scored by our new arrivals, so far the transfer window goes well.

We had a good start against CSKA, but their first attack lead to a goal. Smolov, transferred from Krasnodar few days before, scored a header. We equalized just after the second half started, Soares scored his debut goal for us after pass from Poloz, but it doesn’t took long for visitors to get advantage again. Soares then scored another goal with a fierce long shot, and CSKA got the lead once more with a controversial penalty, holding on it till the final whistle this time. Don’t think we deserved to lose but that’s football, need to move on.

Poor game and poor result against Dinamo. We equalized from a penalty, but that’s far less than was expected from this match.



Europa League draw


The last team remaining was Ukrainian Zorya. We got not the worst group surely (look at G for example, Lokomotiv was really unlucky to land there), though shouldn’t get complacent too early, all those teams can be hard to beat.

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September 2017


Ramazan Isaev once again was good as a substitute, coming into the pitch at half-time and scoring few minutes after. That goal may have been a game winner, but in the end Lokomotiv managed to equalize with a free kick from Fernandes.

Soares picked up another injury, keeping him out for a month.

Isaev is in really good form at the moment, in our opening European match against Basel he played in starting 11 and proved to be a quality signing again, scoring twice. Great start in the group against first seeded team.

Isaev’s on fire! Another double from our youngster and we’re confidently defeating our rivals, who returned to RFPL after a year in lower division.

Playing against 3rd tier side in the cup, I gave a chance to some reserve players, including 17-year old striker Yamilkhanov. At least he fully justified this call, winning a penalty (missed by Poloz) and scoring twice later in the game.

I expected a tough game in Azerbaijan, but it went quite easily right from the start. Another great performance from Isaev resulted in his first hat-trick, Duarte scored first goal for us, and the win put us firmly on the top of our group. And I guess our Armenian chairman appreciated it specifically :D 


So far we are out of the European places (having a game in hand though, against Zenit at home), but it’s still long way to go and our play makes me feel quite optimistic.

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October 2017


Krylja Sovetov arrived to our arena with the only plan, not to concede, and succeeded in that. Isaev’s hot streak seems to stay in September, hope we won’t need to wait a year for the next one :D 

Isaev’s return to his native Makhachkala was lucky. A goal after nice through pass from Maksimovic could have been the winning one, but close to the end Obertan (yes, that guy who played for Man United) shot from the area line, ball deflected from Schennikov and went into the goal.

Uneventful match again Sparta, but we did what was needed. Isaev scored his 13th goal in the season (Poloz was our best goalscorer last season with 15, and it’s only October, what a start!) and gave us the third win in the group. With 9 points we almost secured the qualification, but still some extra ranking points and prize money would be useful.

Game against Rubin was close to repeat the latest one with Anji. Maksimovic scored a header soon after half-time, then visitors equalized with a help of deflection, but we managed to take 3 points. Substitute Ezzatollahi joined the attack and converted pass from Soares into the winning goal.

Our bench players got the result against one of the 2nd tier bottom teams, the cup didn’t demand more from them yet. However we are already in quarter-finals, matched the board expectations, and got quite a favourable draw with Anji

Maksimovic became a real leader of our midfield, once again his nice pass leaded to a goal. Krasnodar disappointed a bit, starting the match with a defensive 4-5-1 and not changing it to more attacking till the final whistle. Not our problems anyway :D 


Not much difference from the previous season so far. Zenit is invincible, CSKA tries to pursue them, and we are leading the 'peloton' of nearly the same teams, with one exception - Krylja Sovetov, finished 4th in spring, are sitting bottom of the table without a single win.

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November-December 2017


Two goals from Ramazan Isaev gave us a solid lead in the first half, but after half-time Sparta switched into more attacking formation and managed to equalize soon.  This could give the home team an advantage, but ending of the match was ours. Isaev scored his second hat-trick, and few minutes later Poloz secured our win. 4 out of 4, and now we’re officially remaining top of our group.

Noboa was given a rest against Spartak, but had to come from the bench and made an immediate impact. Rebrov failed to reach the ball after his free kick, allowing Duarte to score into the open net.

International break didn’t go well for us, not a single shot on target against Terek and losing 3rd place as a result.

Already secured the first place, I fielded mostly bench players in Switzerland. They were not too bad, but the penalty conceded just before half-time led to the only goal.

Berdyev’s first match against the former club didn’t start well, on the 7th minute Gueye scored after a corner, and all the first half went with our advantage. After a half-time Zenit had more chances, but couldn’t convert any of them. We got the first win against Zenit in this save, and returned into top 3 as well.

Bad luck for Tosno, they did a great job to stop our attacking efforts, but with 15 minutes to go their goalkeeper suffered injury, and all substitutions were already made. Playing against 10 men with an outfield player in goal, we easily scored two and won the game.

Soares struggled to regain the form after several injuries, but finally did it against Ufa. He assisted to Poloz with a backheel pass, and then headed the ball in after Terentjev’s cross. With this win we finished the autumn part of the season third, only in 2 points behind leaders.

Qarabag only had a chance to qualify with a win, but decided to park the bus during the entire match. As a result, they didn’t even get a point, conceding a goal from Yerokhin on the last minute.


What seemed to be a good lead just a month ago, became nothing. Zenit and CSKA share the top position before the break, and we are really close too.


Remember the first post? Well, that’s finally happening, we’re facing Leicester. Though I’d prefer some easier draw for the first round, of course.

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Winter transfers 2017/18


Dusan Vlahovic – 18-year old Serbian striker, who already can be a starter for us. Unfortunately, his greedy agent put a release clause of € 4,7M in the contract, so I hope to sign a new one soon. Also he won’t be able to play in Europa League this season.

Daniel Yakubu, Kennedy Adam, Sunday Ogbeche – signed for the reserve team so far, hope at least one of them will reach the potential.

Youth intake took place as well, Panfilov has the best potential, but his defending ability is too low for being a wing-back.


Also loaned out several backup players to give them some practice.


February 2018


When after an hour of the game Vardy scored his second goal, some may have given up already. Not our team though. I changed the formation into more attacking, with AM instead of DM, and it worked immediately. In next ten minutes Poloz scored two, giving us a good result for an away match.

We played almost perfectly in the first half, two great assists from Schennikov gave us a comfortable advantage, but it still was far from over. Soon after half-time Ahmed Musa (well, ex-CSKA player surely knew how to score in Russia, even in February) put one back, and as the game went closer to final whistle, it became harder to withstand the pressure. However, Djanaev and defenders coped with this well, and we advanced.

Facing Rennes in the 2nd round. Not the worst draw, I’d say.

Dmitry Poloz started the year in a great form. After three goals in Europa League he carried it to the Russian matches too, at first scored a header after Terentjev’s cross, and then assisted Vlahovic with his debut goal. Amkar managed to reduce the gap, but Yerokhin secured our win soon after it.

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March 2018


Despite fielding not the strongest squad available, we still played better and eventually won with the only goal from Soares. We’re facing Lokomotiv in semi-final, with Spartak and Krasnodar playing in the other fixture.

A defensive mistake just after half-time could cost us a win, but in the end we managed to score twice. This result allowed us to overtake CSKA for 2nd place.

Another great performance from Poloz! He made the goal for Soares and then scored by himself, giving us a good advantage before trip to France. Unfortunately, he also picked up an injury and will be out for a week.

We had a chance to increase our gap from CSKA, but instead the long shot from Smolov dropped us back to 3rd position. However, it’s still enough matches to play in the league.

Second leg against Rennes started badly for us, we conceded on 5th minute and were forced to defend in the beginning, but shortly before half-time Soares converted the cross from Maksimovic, making the situation much more comfortable. After 2:0 at home that away goal actually guaranteed our advancing to the next round. We got Besiktas in the quarter-finals. Could be Liverpool or Dortmund, so I’m quite glad with it.

Lokomotiv played very safely and defensive against us, and it took some time to convert our possession to a goal. After almost an hour Terentjev crossed from right wing, Poloz won a header and scored with a help of crossbar.

Match against Dinamo was a lot easier, an early penalty put us into the lead, and we controlled the game till the final whistle. Poloz scored another goal from Terentjev’s pass (by the way, he’s currently the leading assistant of the league).


We’re still in the top 3, and still it’s very tight. Though Zenit and CSKA are already out of all other competitions, and they surely can concentrate on title race more than us.

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April 2018


Terentjev continued his excellent run of form, once again his cross lead to a goal. Besiktas managed to avoid defeat in the end, but still that away goal gives us a slight advantage before the second leg.

As Terentjev got a suspension for the next European match, he was in the starting 11 against Kuban and made another assist. After half-time Ramazan Isaev finally ended his goal drought, which started in November, securing our win. And surprisingly Zenit and CSKA both dropped points on this matchday, which sent us top of the league!

So far we are unbeatable at home in this European season. Two goals from Poloz and Maksimovic during first half an hour put us into a comfortablу leading position which we managed to carry till the final whistle! We’re through to semi-finals and face Liverpool there. Surely the biggest test of the season.

Zenit scored in their first attack from a free kick. As well as in the previous meeting, early goal for a home team remained the only one. We were able to create some chances closer to the end, but couldn’t convert any of them.

The start of the cup semi-final was really great, it took 40 seconds for Soares to score, but after 8 minutes we already were behind! Two goals from Miranchuk allowed his team to lead after the first half, but it all changed soon. After just 6 minutes of second half we regained the advantage and eventually won it, scoring other two goals on counters closer to the end. Spartak Moscow became the other finalist, for them it’s a chance to win first trophy since 2003, though we’re not going to make a gift for sure :D 

After the entertaining cup game we struggled to break Anji’s defense. When it almost seemed like dropping points, Ustinov joined our attack, hit the bar, and Vlahovic was first on the rebound to clinch our win.

When you play against a better team, you have to convert your chances. Unfortunately, we couldn’t do it at Anfield. Poloz and Soares had one on one chances but failed to beat Mignolet, and soon after it Liverpool scored their goals. 0:3, and our dream of final is actually over.

Vlahovic scored a header shortly before half-time, and this goal allowed us to control the game in second half. Then we added two from set pieces in a few minutes, sealing a big win.


A game in hand means that 5 wins in a row will give us the title. Couldn't even dream about it before the season.

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May 2018


With a much weakened side we played quite well, at least avoided defeat in our last European match this season. Still a great achievement for us, and actually for any Russian club.

Poor start against Spartak, our defenders gifted the ball to Jano in the own area, and he easily scored. Moreover, we could concede more before half-time, they hit woodwork twice and Djanaev made some saves too. Poloz managed to equalize after a corner, but it was all we could do there. Anyway, Zenit and CSKA dropped points as well, so we remained the ‘shadow leaders’.

Finally we played that postponed game. Away match against Krylja wasn’t easy at all, they equalized few minutes after Noboa scored a penalty and played well overall, trying to break free from relegation zone. But with just some minutes remaining Soares, who substituted unlucky Vlahovic earlier, scored the winning goal from Schennikov’s low cross. 2 points ahead of Zenit, 3 from CSKA. Everything’s in our hands now.

And there came the worst match of the season. Extremely poor defense and total inability to convert the chances. Zenit won their game and regained the top position.

Tosno has a really solid defense this season, conceding only 24 goals despite their 10th place. This match wasn’t an exception, we haven’t many chances, but a great free kick from Noboa made the difference. Zenit struggled against Amkar, but got 3 points with Mamaev’s late goal and hold their lead before the final game.

When Maksimovic fired a shot against Lunev after a corner, our chances to win the league were effectively over. Zenit was already 3 goals ahead in their match, so all we could do is just to make our supporters happy.


Zenit wins second title in a row, and we qualify for Champions League group stage, so automatically receive several millions next season. Only one match remains until the break, our chance to win the first trophy.

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Russian Cup Final


And as an awesome ending of the season, we lift the national cup! Spartak had more shots, but none of them was really dangerous. And we scored in the most familiar way – Terentjev crossed from right wing, and Poloz beat the goalkeeper to the ball.



Best Player: Jonathas (Rubin)

Players’ Select: Jonathas (Rubin), Mamaev (Zenit), Eremenko (CSKA)

Top Goalscorer: Jonathas (Rubin) – 21, Movsisyan (Spartak) – 13, Ari (Krasnodar) – 10

Goalkeeper of the Year: Djanaev (Rostov)

Young Player of the Year: Isaev (Rostov)

Manager of the Year: me :D 

Team of the Year


Tom and Ural promoted from FNL, and Fakel joined them after beating Krylja Sovetov in play-offs.


European Review

Champions LeagueJuventus couldn’t defend the main European title, and Jose Mourinho repeated his 2003-04 achievement, winning different continental cups twice in a row.

Europa LeagueKlopp was unable to beat his former club in the final.


England – Arsenal, Man Utd, Man City

Spain – Barcelona, Atletico, Real Madrid            

Germany – Leverkusen, Bayern, Schalke

Italy – Inter, Juventus, Napoli

France – PSG, Monaco, Bordeaux

Netherlands – PSV, Feyenoord, Ajax


Second season provided some interesting results. Bayern and Juventus ended their winning streaks, and actually Arsenal’s title is also not something you get used to :D 


Three of our players were called to the upcoming World Cup, Djanaev and Schennikov will play for Russia, and Ezzatollahi for Iran.

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2018 World Cup




Two previous winners faced each other in the final, and Spain won that time. None of our players could advance to the knockout rounds.


Golden Ball – Messi (who else? :D ), Morata, Alexis Sanchez

Golden Shoe – Morata 7, Messi 7, Ronaldo 6

Yashin Award – De Gea

Best Young Player – Tielemans

Dream Team


Pre-season transfers 2018/19


Alexandr Filtsov – decent Russian goalkeeper for backup, was not so confident with a foreigner on that position so decided to sign him.

Sergey Bryzgalov – another transfer to fit the foreigner limit, one of the starting center-backs has to be Russian. Cesar Navas is 38 already and declined a lot in his physical skills, so we needed a replacement, and Bryzgalov was the best available.

Julian Fernandez – a defensive midfielder who should replace aging Gatcan in the first 11.

Terry Olaleye – another promising player from Africa, can be a good wing-back in the future.


Keskin was a really useful player in our first season, but then lost the starting place and I decided to sell him, a good deal as we got him for free. Kalachev stayed in the club as a U21 coach.


We’re predicted to finish 5th, but the odds are quite good.


Super Cup


In a match without many chances for both teams Zenit used them better. Interception from Giuliano in the center, pass to Hassan, who overtook our defenders and chipped the ball over Djanaev. All our efforts were stopped by Kerzhakov, and Zenit lifted the trophy fourth time in a row.


And for the first time in this save I was offered an interview. Not going to leave Rostov though, at least until winning the league title.

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August 2018


An early goal from Soares led us to the winning start in a quite boring opening match against Dinamo.

Once again we managed to score early in the game, and then Krasnodar’s defence was simply torn apart with our counters. 4 goals in 15 minutes, that’s clearly the best start I remember. Soares got 2+2, great result against a very strong opponent.

Tosno played defensively as usual, and were able to hold our attacks in the first half. Moreover, they had a real chance to score, but Djanaev saved a penalty from Milevskiy. The only goal came from a free kick, where the newcomer Bryzgalov was the first on the rebound.

Another early goal gave us the lead against CSKA, but soon after that Smolov equalized and the result remained unchanged till the final whistle. However, the draw was enough for us to stay the league leaders.


League table means almost nothing at this stage of season, but still it's nice to be on top :D  


Forgot to make a screenshot of Champions League draw, but we got Benfica, Man City and Schalke. Going to be very tough.


No major changes in the squad, just loaned out some young prospects for gaining match practice. CSKA was interested in returning Schennikov back home, but I really couldn't find a replacement so close to the end of transfer window and so promised him to win the title this season. Still don't think it's realistic, but at least have one more season with the best Russian left back.

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September 2018


Poor start resulted in visitors’ early goal, but two corners – one before half-time and another just after it overturned the game and gave us the win.

Some regular starters were rested in Kazan before the Champions League start, but still we got 3 points later in second half. Vlahovic, who missed all August due to injury, finally scored his first goal this season.

First half against Benfica was extremely boring, but after half time both teams started to create chances, and visitors were more lucky at first, Clayton scored from a free kick. Few minutes later Soares managed to equalize after Noboa’s cross. Benfica played better in the end, had more shots and even scored again, but Clayton was offside, so we secured a draw. Not the worst result for the start.

We were slightly better against Lokomotiv, twice hit the woodwork and finally scored the only goal with an effort of our wing-backs – Schennikov crossed to the far post, where Terentjev was against the open net.

It took only 25 seconds for us to score on a snowy Siberian pitch, but Yenisey didn’t want to give up so early. Our young defender Vorobjov conceded a penalty, and hosts equalized. As time was running out, I substituted youngster Yamlikhanov with Vlahovic, and just few seconds later he scored after a cross from Savchenko! On the last minute Ezzatollahi got his second goal, securing our win. Not bad for a defensive midfielder :D 


Leading with a game in hand, a dream start so far.

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October 2018


Aguero, Griezmann, Sterling, Coman, de Bruyne… That attacking squad can thrash any team, not this day though. Great play from our defense, Djanaev’s saves, sometimes bit of luck, and we got an unexpected point at Etihad.

After 30 seconds we already were ahead. Schennikov crossed from left wing, and Soares headed the ball in. Soon after that we scored another goal, effectively ending the game.

Ural couldn't take a single shot on target, but defended quite well and made us wait for a goal until Isaev finally scored after a corner. Our previous season's top scorer is nowhere near his past form, but his first goal was a winning one.

Another test against a better squad, and our team once again got a great result! Schalke started to push forward closer the final whistle, and there came our counters. Soares and Poloz assisted each other, making us 2nd in the group so far.

Our attacks were a lot more dangerous than Zenit’s, and in the end of first half one of them led to a goal – Maksimovic crossed from right wing, Lodygin failed to reach the ball and Poloz easily scored. Soon after half-time we had a chance for second goal, but Noboa’s penalty was saved by keeper. After that Zenit equalized with a close range effort from Shatov. However, we’re still unbeaten this season (not counting the Supercup).


Anji got the lead now, but we still can overtake them with winning the postponed game.

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November 2018


Stupid tackle from Ezzatollahi ended our chances in the match, which we should have won even with not the strongest squad. The cup wasn’t my priority this season, but still unhappy with losing like this.

Vladimir Granat scored against his former team with a free kick, giving us the lead. After half time Spartak managed to equalize, Popov’s shot was not too strong, but Djanaev couldn't parry. This goal boosted their attacking efforts, but in the end it led to our successful counter. Poloz ran with the ball down the left wing, passed to Maksimovic and he scored the winning goal.

Maksimovic gave us the lead early after a poor clearance by Nastasic, but soon the defender equalized. Second half was quite even, but one unlucky deflection and Ben Yedder scored the winner. What’s worse, Benfica managed to get a point against Man City, so we now need at least a draw in Lisbon.

Not much to watch against Terek, but the only shot on target from Poloz was enough for the win.

Fakel defended well and allowed us very few chances, but close to the final whistle we finally scored. A cross from the deep found Vlahovic’s head, and our striker gave us 3 points.

We got a lead just before half-time with Poloz’s strike, but at the second half Benfica didn’t give us any chances. We stepped down to 4th place and now need to get points against Man City (luckily they already qualified, but that will be extremely hard anyway).

Kuban scored with their first shot on target, thanks to lucky deflection, but soon Noboa equalized with a free kick and we regained control of the game.


Increased our lead to 7 points, though Zenit has a game in hand now.

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So how are the Champions League group standings looking? You mentioned needing a point in Lisbon - would that put you into 2nd in the group or 3rd? Advancing to the knockouts would be a great achievement. But in a way, making your way into the Europa League might make for a longer run. I have often found myself debating between which would be better for the club when getting a side into Europe that isn't really likely to win the thing.

That is a nice lead in the league. The long winter window means so many things reset afterward, but taking a strong lead into it is never going to be a bad thing.

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@Bigpapa42 Schalke had 6 points before the last matchday, we and Benfica both have 5, but the Portuguese now gained the head-to-head advantage.

December 2018


Man City fielded the strongest squad available despite already securing top place in group, but we managed to hold them again. Only one shot on target allowed, and it wasn’t really dangerous. However, a draw made us relying on another match, and its result (Schalke won 5-2) sent us to Europa League. Good result in that group actually.


Another goalless draw, though very disappointing this time. Despite Dinamo is going quite strong this season, we were still better and should have got three points.

Schennikov scored a winning goal after a corner in an almost equal game with second-placed Anji. Great way to finish the first half of the season.


8 points from Anji and 10 from Zenit, though two matches in hand for St. Petersburg team still make them dangerous.


We got PSV in the EL first knockout round. They offered me a job in pre-season, so it’s a chance to see if staying was a right decision :D 

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Mid-season 2018/19

Transfers out:


Gueye is still a quality player in his 34, but became unhappy in the club and demanded almost doubling his wage. So I decided to sell him when someone still wants to pay.

Also we were close to lose Djanaev, luckily the board reconsidered their decision. Actually I might have accepted this offer, but not after European registration deadline of course.

Transfers in:


Kara – remember that guy from Tromso in FM11? He didn’t become a star, but is quite a good player and now joined us as a short-term replacement to another Senegalese defender.

Ivan Strinic – actually was signed in my first season, but needed to wait till he turned 18. Unfortunately, stalled his development a bit in a lower league club, but still can reach the potential.


Youth intake was quite decent this year, with goalkeeper Nikulin and defensive midfielder Zakhodyakin standing out.


Ezzatollahi was called up for Asian Cup, and Iran eventually won bronze medals. Japan defeated Germany in the final, a common bug as it seems.

Lille, Everton, Liverpool, Marseille, Espanyol, Wolfsburg and CSKA offered me contracts. The latest made me laugh, leaving the league leaders for 5th placed team :D 

Paulo Dybala won both Ballon d’Or and FIFA awards, ending the decade of Ronaldo/Messi reign.



Luck was clearly on our side in Eindhoven. PSV attacked more, had some really good chances, but in the injury time we grabbed a win. Noboa made a cross, Vlahovic avoided offside and scored on the rebound.

Vlahovic scored after a corner, doubling our overall lead. Two goals were not so big advantage actually, but we held it quite easily till the final whistle. And in the next round we were drawn with… Zenit. League rivalry continues in Europe.

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March 2019


Last year Krasnodar ended our title hopes with a heavy 3-0 defeat, and this match wasn’t easy for us as well. Despite a goal scored in our first attack and overall advantage, hosts managed to equalize soon, and in the second half even took a lead! Vlahovic came from the bench and scored in third consecutive match, but a draw was all we could get there. Zenit reduced the gap to 8 (potentially 2) points.

Another tough game against Tosno’s solid defense. Soon after half-time Soares scored after pass from Vlahovic, finally ending his 10 hours goal drought and giving us the win.

At least we didn’t concede at home, quite a decent result for a play-off game.

Another draw. Smolov scored against us again (fifth in a row), but Poloz equalized several minutes later. Zenit drew as well, so nothing changed in the table.

Once again Zenit sent us out :(Hassan scored a header soon after half-time, and we couldn’t respond. Time for revenge in the league. 

We clearly wanted to win after going out from Europe, and Rubin couldn’t match us. Two goals from Soares in the first half and the game was almost done.


Still unbeaten in the league, 8 points and 2 games ahead of Zenit


That’s a blow surely. Had to recall Yamlikhanov from loan to have another Russian striker in the squad.

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April 2019


Early goal from Soares allowed us to control the game, and later in the second half score two more in counters.  Meanwhile Zenit drew with Anji, so the gap increased to 10 points.

Poor match from both sides, even goals were scored only with help of deflections. Back to +8.

Tough game against Tom. With 30 minutes to go Fernandez got his second yellow card (btw, it’s our second sending off this season, and both were there in Tomsk), and we had to hold on the slight advantage.

Extremely poor in attack, the only shot on target came on 85th minute. Would be hard to win the title if we continue playing like that.


Zenit equaled with us in dropped points, though they still need to win postponed matches against CSKA and Krasnodar. And the next month starts with our head-to-head game, its result will surely decide a lot.

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May 2019


I expected Zenit to attack, instead they played defensively, maybe trying to wait for our mistake, but… I can’t remember any danger for our goal in this match. Closer to the final whistle our advantage became more evident, and finally resulted in a goal. A corner from Terentjev, Duarte won a header on 6-yard line and scored. Yamlikhanov soon doubled our lead, scoring his first ever league goal after Schennikov’s cross, and Yaghoubi sealed the big win with a penalty in injury time. We destroyed our main title rivals in just 20 minutes, but the race is still far from over.

That’s what I’ve warned about. Despite being in the relegation zone, Ural coped with our attacks much better. And luck wasn’t on our side as well. We beat the RFPL record with 28 games unbeaten in a row, but really that’s a small consolation.

Zenit meanwhile won their first postponed game and the gap is only 4 points now.

Another 0-0, really annoying. Luckily Zenit dropped points as well.

And another draw for Zenit, they equaled with us in games played and are 3 points behind with 3 matches to go.

Once again Duarte scored a very important goal. His header was decisive against Zenit, and here he tapped the ball in after a free kick. What’s even better, Zenit drew their third match in a row, so we are 5 points ahead and can claim the title with a win in next game!

Oh well… celebrated too early. Kara won a penalty and scored by himself, but In the second half along with other defenders became too complacent and allowed Boli to equalize. A draw on the final matchday will be enough to guarantee the title, but still it hurts not to win at home.

When after our second goal Fakel got one back almost immediately, it started to resemble our previous match, but this time we were able to hold the lead. 2-1, and that result means we’re the champions!


Invincible as well! Great achievement for Anji, who qualified into Champions League next season. And no Moscow teams in top-3, that never happened after USSR dissolution.

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@EvilDave thanks, at least I hope for more favourable draw in Europe next season (as we should be first seeded).


Best Player: Hassan (Zenit)

Players’ Select: Hassan (Zenit), Promes (Spartak), Mak (Zenit)

Top Goalscorer: Hassan (Zenit) – 15, Smolov (CSKA) – 13, Boli (Anji) - 12

Goalkeeper of the Year: Djanaev (Rostov)

Young Player of the Year: Melnikov (Krasnodar/Tom)

Manager of the Year: Fitzel (Anji)

Team of the Year


Tyumen and Yenisey promoted, Zenit defeated CSKA in the cup final.


European Review

Champions League – again Juventus and Man Utd in the final, Italians were better this time.

Europa LeagueLiverpool lost their 3rd final in 4 years.


England – Chelsea, Man Utd, Arsenal

Spain – Atletico, Real Madrid, Barcelona            

Germany – Dortmund, Schalke, Leverkusen

Italy – Juventus, Roma, Milan

France – PSG, Lyon, Monaco

Netherlands – Feyenoord, PSV, Heerenveen


Bayern finished only 4th this season, despite signing Reus, Lemar and Sergi Roberto :eek:  AC Milan finally returned to Champions League.

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Great season. Love what you've managed with Rostov. What have you managed to do with the facilities? I don't see any mention. And any thoughts on a new or upgraded stadium?

One thing I always find interesting is how different clubs perform differently on different saves. Zenit have been pretty inconsistent on my Lokmotiv save, and CSKA have been outright horrid. I think CKSA are on their 3rd or 4th manager in less than 2 full seasons.

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@Bigpapa42 We’ve got the new stadium in 2017 (built for World Cup), with 40k capacity and about 30k average attendance last season (the only sellout was against Zenit in Europa League). Don’t think we’ll need to expand it soon. As for facilities, the training and youth upgrade is going to finish in November, also youth recruitment was upgraded to above average level. Hope with more prize money it will be expanded further.


Pre-season 2019/20

Transfers out


Navas and Gatcan retired, and unfortunately their coaching skills were too low to let them stay in the club. Also decided to release Granat, who declined sharply during last season.

Transfers in


Vladimir Abramovich – not sure if related to Roman, though even was born in the same city of Saratov :D  Anyway a good prospect for our youth team.

Abdoul Karim Dante – already assessed as our best center-back, and he’s only 20. Was lucky to win a battle against Porto and Benfica to sign him.

Allan – as Noboa is getting older, I need to search for replacement and this free Brazilian suited quite well.

Orlando Gutierrez – already capped for Chile, loaned to Terek for the first season so we can see him in first-team action.


Our players at international tournaments:

Copa AmericaEcuador (Noboa) advanced to quarter-final and lost 0-3 to eventual winners from Argentina.

U-21 EuroSerbia (Vlahovic) lost the final to Netherlands on penalties, Russia (Ivanov, Savchenko) and Croatia (Strinic) couldn’t qualify from the groups.


Super Cup


Immediate impact from Allan, his two corners resulted in early goals, and there were some missed chances too. Hope he’ll be able to play like this regularly. Dante had a nice debut as well, getting an assist.


Zenit and CSKA are still ranked above us. Well, let’s see.

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On ‎2017‎-‎03‎-‎17 at 12:50, Koetzer said:

@Bigpapa42 We’ve got the new stadium in 2017 (built for World Cup), with 40k capacity and about 30k average attendance last season (the only sellout was against Zenit in Europa League). Don’t think we’ll need to expand it soon. As for facilities, the training and youth upgrade is going to finish in November, also youth recruitment was upgraded to above average level. Hope with more prize money it will be expanded further.

I completely forgot that Rostov are one of the clubs benefitting from the World Cup. A shiny new stadium is pretty awesome. But yeah, attendances in Russia are pretty poor. Which is realistic. You can grow them as you become more successful, but its not easy. In my Loko save, think we were averaging well under 10K in the first season in a stadium that holds almost 30K. Takes sustained success to get those fans filling the stadium.

I've always felt like having great facilities is important in maintaining success in Russia. Developing young Russian players feel so important because of the foreign player rules. There are enough clubs with good facilities that will produce good youngsters you can try to poach, but having your own facilities just makes it easier.

Another nice win over Zenit. Loving it.

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On 20.03.2017 at 05:14, Andy107 said:

Are you still sticking to the 5-1-2-2?

Yes, the formation works well, the only difference from the start is that I changed WB roles to CWB, so they actually play as wingers when we attack.

15 hours ago, Bigpapa42 said:

I've always felt like having great facilities is important in maintaining success in Russia. Developing young Russian players feel so important because of the foreign player rules. There are enough clubs with good facilities that will produce good youngsters you can try to poach, but having your own facilities just makes it easier.

Poaching youngsters from top-tier clubs is also quite expensive, so usually you need to check them somewhere lower (for example at well-known academies of Chertanovo and Togliatti, or hope for some other club being randomly given a talent, like Sokol in my save, already got two 5-star prospects from them).


August 2019


Solid start against promoted Yenisey. Poloz played his first match after injury and returned with a goal.

Tough and equal game against Spartak, both teams had chances to score but everything remained unchanged till the end.

Made some experiments in our match against Tyumen, starting some youngsters. But anyway that squad was able to win quite easily, scored two before half-time. Olayele played well as a wing-back and made an assist, though I doubt that he will have many chances in the first team, at least this season (damn foreigner limit).

A goal conceded on the 1st minute is surely not the best way to start a match, especially when you play against a solid defense. Luckily, Vlahovic was able to equalize despite he needed three shots for it (first hit the post, and second was parried by goalkeeper). And in the very beginning of second half he scored again, eventually bringing us 3 points.

CSKA manager made some strange decisions, defensive midfielder Wernbloom played as a center-back, and center-back Alexey Berezutskiy (37-year old and extremely slow) somehow appeared on the right. Surely that was a chance to our attacks, and we used it well. Though even leading 2-0, we couldn’t feel comfortable, CSKA got one back and could equalize several times, with the most real chance came in injury time, but Dzagoev hit the post.


Despite a tough schedule with 3 matches in Moscow we are leading. Already getting used to it. Terrible start for Tyumen also catches the eye, -16 in 5 games. Must be a hard season for them.


Champions League draw


At least it wasn’t Milan from 4th pot :D  Basel was drawn last in group H.

Closer to transfer deadline I signed two more African prospects for a minimal compensation – Senegalese center-back Mustapha Cisse and Ivorian midfielder Mamadou Karamoko, and loaned out some reserve players.

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September 2019


Dominated in the first half, but a penalty conceded shortly after half-time could change the game. Luckily we were able to hold the lead, and in the end extended it with two long shots from Poloz and Ezzatollahi.

We played against one of the best teams in the world right now, so actually could only hope for luck being on our side. Long shot from Martial and a corner resulted in De Vrij’s header gave visitors a win, but it’s still only a start and we are surely in contention of qualifying.

Vlahovic effectively ended the game with only 8 minutes played. Great start for our Serbian forward, he already scored more than in whole previous season.

Not so easily, but anyway defeated FNL side in the cup. Soares ended his 11 matches goal drought by scoring twice.

Exceptional free kick from Allan, curled above the wall and right into top corner of the net! That was his first goal for us and the decisive in this game. We got 3 points against one of the main title rivals, surely that will count in the end.


Quite a nice gap for the start. Vlahovic is currently the league leading scorer with 8 goals.

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Four points clear already, great work. It's nice to see you haven't completely overhauled the team - just solid additions here and there, and naturally replacing players as they age/want to move on. Keep it up!

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Nice work. I haven't managed a Russian side in forever...probably since CM 01/02 :lol: I suspect the challenge is much greater these days. 

How hard is it thus far to keep players from moving abroad?

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6 hours ago, Koetzer said:

Poaching youngsters from top-tier clubs is also quite expensive, so usually you need to check them somewhere lower (for example at well-known academies of Chertanovo and Togliatti, or hope for some other club being randomly given a talent, like Sokol in my save, already got two 5-star prospects from them).

Very much agree. In saves, I've had a hard time getting good youngsters from clubs like Rubin and Krasnodar, even when the reputation of my club had increased quite a bit over theirs. I understand clubs like Spartrak, CSKA, and Dinamo, as they have rivalries with Lokomotiv.

Togliatti and Sokol have produced some gems in my saves as well. It seems to me that Russian youngsters don't tend to be particularly well developed for their age. I assume that is down to the youth rating in the country compared to some bigger football nations. I wonder if that's dynamic and changes over time....? Or maybe it is just down to the youth coaching and youth recruitment of the individual clubs producing the players....

Really like seeing Tyumen in the RPL but doesn't look like they are doing fantastic.

1 hour ago, ManUtd1 said:

Nice work. I haven't managed a Russian side in forever...probably since CM 01/02 :lol: I suspect the challenge is much greater these days. 

How hard is it thus far to keep players from moving abroad?

Russia has changed quite a bit to manage in over the past few years. Even going back to FM12 and 13, it was quite a bit different. Loads of money. Now, there is significantly less money unless you are Zenit. The foreign player restrictions have become more strict. Its a really fun league, as this and other projects show.

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@ManUtd1 so far it's harder to keep players from richer Russian clubs, there's not much interest from abroad.

17 hours ago, Bigpapa42 said:

Or maybe it is just down to the youth coaching and youth recruitment of the individual clubs producing the players....

Seems like that, most Russian clubs have quite average facilities and staff in DB.


October 2019


3 shots on target – 4 goals, incredible rate :D We didn’t play so much better than PAOK, but were more confident with our attacks. Man Utd easily won against Lyon, seems like we’ll contest 2nd place with the French team.

Dinamo played with a more defensive version of our formation, with the only striker up front. And that plan actually worked, we struggled to break their defense until the beginning of second half, when Vlahovic converted Terentjev’s cross into goal.

Duarte made his international debut for Portugal, totally deserved.

Our 41-match unbeaten run ended in the game that never resembled it till the middle of second half. We scored an early goal, controlled the game and could extend the lead, but Vlahovic missed a penalty. Instead Rubin scored three in just 10 minutes, two with long shots and third after a corner. A disappointment surely, hope we can bounce back soon.

An away draw was quite a good result against Lyon, but the way we conceded the equalizer upset me. Despite having three center-backs, we allowed Bertrand Traore to score without any opposition. What’s worse, we also lost our best defensive midfielder Fernandez for a month.

We made Amkar keeper a hero, 10 shots on target and no goals. Need to break this unlucky run as soon as possible.

That was close to another poor result. We were down by two goals in the beginning of second half, but changing the formation to experimental 3-4-3 helped, Soares and Poloz made a comeback. Even without extra time, that’s important in our schedule.


The gap before Spartak shrinked to the only point, Zenit and Anji also came closer. Tyumen threatens their own anti-record of 1998, when they finished with 8 points (though in DB the record is written to… Rostov with 6 points, but that was in the first post-Soviet season, when the league was played in two phases, and second phase results were taken as whole season).

Ufa (currently 14th in FNL) signed our coach Andriy Demchenko as their new manager. Good luck to him, but with that tactical knowledge and man management he doesn’t seem to be a right choice :D 

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November 2019


Finally a big win in the league. Easily scored two in the first half and then doubled this in the second. Third goal from Vlahovic was particularly impressive, while the commentary said ‘all the credit should go to Poloz for the assist’. Seriously? :D 

We had the advantage against Lyon, but again conceded after a completely weird play of our defenders. Two of them just watched Lacazette crossing to Darder, not even attempting to prevent it. That result means a total equality in head-to-head matches, and with 5 points for both teams we are ahead on overall goal difference (+1 against -1). Man Utd already advanced with 4 wins out of 4.

Soares scored twice in half an hour, and the game was done. Boring, but confident.

Manager Dusan Fitzel left Anji in pre-season for Red Bull Salzburg, but they are still going strong with former Russian international Tetradze in charge. And we had to rest some first-team players between international games and trip to Manchester, so I’m actually satisfied with a draw.


Icardi didn’t give us any chances. 0-2, but we stayed 2nd as PAOK defeated Lyon in the other game. So a win on the last matchday will most likely guarantee a place in knockout rounds, though Greeks still have a chance to qualify and it won’t be easy anyway.



Means nothing for us of course, just for statistics. Seems to be the softest Brexit.

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