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FM17 - Uni is over, time for a gap year!

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June 2021 | England

 

European International League

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I was expecting a tough game in this Semi Final, but we eased past Croatia with them hardly posing a threat. The first goal came after a Nelson free kick was played in from out wide to Dier, who was then shoved by an already booked Kovacic for a penalty, which Kovacic may have counted himself lucky that he got to stay on the pitch. Stones stepped up to calmly slot the penalty into the top right corner, sending Kalinic the wrong way. Just before half time, Thompson doubled our lead, after some nice passing on the edge of the Croatia box fell to him, and he proceeded to place a shot into the bottom left corner from the edge of the box. We seemed to go into cruise control from that point, just controlling the game until Kalinic gave us a scare with 20 minutes to go. A poor header from Nelson gave up possession and then Croatia proceeded to calmly work the ball up the pitch until it was played out wide to Vrsaljko, who crossed into the box from the right, and the Napoli striker reacted first, getting ahead of Stones to give Croatia a lifeline. Fortunately, that was Croatia's only real chance of the game, and we managed to hold on until the end of the game to book ourselves a place in the Final, which sees me play Spain after their 2-1 victory over Germany. Unfortunately, Dier's yellow card means he's suspended for the final, but the rest of the team is available and fully fit, giving me a great chance to get England's first trophy since 1966!

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Welcome to Wembley for the 2021 fInal of the European International League! This year's final is the second iteration of this competition and sees two teams face off in their first foray to the final, England v Spain! Let's have a look at the starting line ups.

 

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First, we have the home team, England. They make three changes from the line up that faced Croatia in the Semi Final. Dier misses the game through suspension and he is replaced by Everton's Michael Keane at Centre Back. Tom Davies and Kris Thompson both failed late fitness tests, allowing Lewis Cook and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to take their places, with the Bournemouth Midfielder, Cook, earning just his 5th Cap. England set up very much in the same fashion they have played under the Tenure of manager Sam Smith and will look to play a patient passing style, whilst trying to exploit the explosive power and pace of their formidable front three.

 

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The visitors, Spain, have also made changes to their Semi Final side that beat Germany, with 4 in total. Juan Bernat's red card in that Semi sees him miss the Final, with Theo Hernandez filling the void. Hector Bellerin drops to the bench, with Dani Carvajal preferred over the Arsenal Full Back. The opening goalscorer from Spain's Semi Final, Sergi Darder, is unlucky to drop to the bench but fitness concerns mean that Koke will take his place. A shift in the attacking line also for Spain, as Paco Alcácer comes into the team, with Juan Mata being axed. This results in Morata moving out to the Left Wing after getting a goal and an assist up front against Germany, and Isco will move inside to take on the role of Juan Mata. Sergio Busquets, Sergio Ramos and Thiago all surprisingly fail to feature in the starting 11 again, with many still surprised that Barcelona duo Sergi Roberto and Gerad Pique failed to make the squad. We all know how Spain will play, but it seems that they'll try and exploit some width in this game, perhaps to take advantage of England's attacking Full Backs.

 

An exciting prospect for the Final, with England in search of their first Trophy since that famous World Cup win in 1966, and Spain trying to recapture some of that magic from their Golden Generation that dominated the world just a decade ago. Both teams have come close to major Finals in recent years, both losing out to eventual winners, England knocked out of Euro 2020 in the Semi Final by Champions Portugal, and Spain famously losing in the 2018 World Cup Semi Final to eventual surprise winners, Jamaica! Both teams will want to put those "Oh So Near's" behind them now to try and prove themselves as worthy Champions of this competition.

 

England just edge Spain in recent form, both qualifying from the Group Stage with perfect records, but in the World Cup Qualifiers, Spain's draw with Ireland means they have picked up one less win in those Qualifiers, giving England the slightest of advantages.

 

We're moments away from kick off as the teams come out for the National Anthems!

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Kick Off: And away we go, England take the kick off and immediately look to attack, but Dele gets held up by the Spanish midfield. A sign of intent already from this England side.

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5th Minute: England with a throw in from the left now. Shaw throws it back to Dele who brings it forward to Henderson. Henderson turns and passes to Kane on the edge of the D, who backheels it to Oxlade-Chamberlain in the box! He's unmarked! CHAMBERLAIIIIINNNNN! The Ox tucks away neatly from the penalty spot, lifting a left footed strike past the on rushing De Gea! England strike early to get off to a dream start here at Wembley! England 1 - Spain 0!

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7th Minute: Dele stands over the free kick, about 35 yards out here. But he plays a smart pass down the wing to an unmarked Nelson. Nelson gets down the edge of the box and crosses for KANE! Shot blocked, but it falls for DELE!!!!!! A left footed volley rifled right into the top right corner! Dele ghosted into the box unmarked, and Kane's blocked shot rebounded perfectly for Dele to hit past a helpless De Gea in the Spain goal. England 2 - Spain 0.

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13th Minute: Clyne comes forward to take the throw in on Englands right. He throws to Kane, Kane turns to cross and he almost beats De Gea at his front post! Kane sliced his cross and it almost caught the Man Utd Keeper unawares, but De Gea manages to turn it around for a corner. Nelson comes across to take it. And the ball is aimed for Cook in the middle, but Saúl manages to head away and Spain scramble clear. England with all the pressure so far, and Spain looking all lost at sea at the minute, they really need to pick themselves up.

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14th Minute: England with a free kick 25 yards from goal. Nelson steps up to take. NELson. Straight in to the arms of De Gea, a let off for Spain as England continue to pile on the pressure.

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16th Minute: Henderson hits a free kick from deep to Nelson, Nelson turns and plays a smart ball through the Spain defence to Kane! And a lovely save from De Gea tips the ball around the post and denies England a third goal. The danger isn't over yet though as Nelson prepares to take the corner. Looped towards Keane at the back post, but De Gea claims it easily. Another let off for Spain as England begin to really dominate this game.

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23rd Minute: Nelson with a chance to cross from deep with this free kick, but he passes to Stones instead. England opting for a more precise build up as Stones plays it forward to Henderson. Some lovely passing here by England as Henderson passes out wide to Nelson, who plays it back inside to Dele with a first-time pass. Dele also with the one touch pass inside to Cook. Cook takes a touch, and hits dipping shot from the edge of the box! COOK! The ball slips under De Gea as Lewis Cook gets his first goal for England! And what a game to get it in! The pick of the bunch so far and a strike to be proud of, England are streaking clear off Spain now. England 3 - Spain 0.

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37th Minute: Saúl with the ball on the half way line now for Spain. But he's dispossessed by Henderson! England with a chance to counter, some lovely one touch passing by England, as it comes to Kane passes to Dele on his left. Dele finds Nelson, who dribbles into the box, one on one with De Gea, a chance to make it 4! And Nelson hits it straight at De Gea. An opportunity to put this game to bed before half time, but Nelson fluffs his lines.

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42nd Minute: Shaw takes a quick throw into Dele on the edge of the box, Dele dribbles into the box unopposed. Dele! But he fires too close to De Gea, who easily gathers up the ball. Spain really need to turn this game around and quickly, with no chances so far in this half, they're sinking without a trace, and it's only Englands poor finishing that is stopping a rout!

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Posted (edited)

44th Minute: Spain with a rare venture into the England half here. Theo plays the ball down the wing to Morata. Morata turns and plays a ball into the box for Isco to chase, but he's caught by Keane. But Keane's tackle falls for Alcácer! And Forster tips the shot onto the post, but it's not clear yet. Alcácer chases in the rebound! But he hits it straight at Forster, and the save bounces off of Forster onto Alcácer, then out for a goal kick. Spain's first real chance of the game, and Alcácer should have given Spain a life line there, but he rushed the chance. England breathe a sigh of relief as they look to go into half time keeping their 3-0 lead.

Edited by VillaSmith

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Posted (edited)

Half-Time: Ivan Bebek blows the whistle for half time, and it's grim viewing for the Spanish. Whilst possession has been pretty much equal, it's England who have made the most of that possession, creating the lion's share of the chances, Spain's only opportunity coming late on with Alcácer, but England will count themselves unlucky not to be 5 or 6 ahead at this point. De Gea has kept Spain within touching distance in this game as well as poor finishing from England, but England are a long way out in front after that first half and will be hoping to secure the game in the next 45. Unai Emery will surely look to whip his team into shape for the next half, and one can only imagine the hairdryer treatment the team will be getting after that sort of performance in the first half. England have been composed in this first half, but the same can't be said of Spain. England lead by 3 goals to nil.

Edited by VillaSmith

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Second-Half: Only the one change at half time, as Koke comes off for Sergi Darder in the Spanish midfield. And Spain kick us off for the second half and immediately they seem to be coming out as a different side this half, as they attack right from the kick off. Spain manage to work the ball forward with some lovely passing. Suso comes inside with the ball and passes to Alcácer, who holds up play. Alcácer then sprays the ball out side for an advancing Carvajal, who gets the chance to cross but Shaw blocks it, and it's out for a throw in. It seems Unai Emery has really put a rocket up them at half time!

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48th Minute:  England win the free kick 25 yards out from goal, and Henderson is standing over it. Henderson steps up to strike it! But it goes over the bar and doesn't trouble De Gea.

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50th Minute: Darder wins the ball in the air and nods it down to Isco. Isco turns and plays a lovely backheel pass into Saúl! First-time pass to Alcácer who plays it out wide to Suso, but Shaw manages to get a head on it, only as far as Darder. A simple pass into the feet of Suso by Darder. Suso turns and slides the ball behind the England defence! Alcácer! Ooooh! Alcácer gets free behind the English defence, but scuffs his shot, allowing Forster to easily gather up the ball. Alcácer with a real chance to get Spain back into it there with a glorious one on one opportunity. England caught napping by Spain, and they get away with some shoddy marking, but they still lead 3-0.

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51st Minute: Another free kick for England on the edge of the box. Dele steps up to take this, but that's not troubling De Gea as the free kick floats over the bar. England just reminding Spain of the danger they possess in attack.

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61st Minute: Both teams make changes around the hour mark, as Isco and Alcácer are recalled by Spain to be replaced by Thiago and Sandro, with Sandro moving out wide and Morata taking up the central striker role. Meanwhile, England bring off Shaw and Dele for Chilwell and Davies as tiredness from the Croatia game begins to take its toll. England bring it forward now after winning the ball from a De Gea free kick. The ball is worked out to Oxlade-Chamberlain on the right. But Theo gets a foot in and Spain have the chance to counter. Saúl picks up the loose ball from Theo's tackle and plays a searching ball forward for Sandro. Sandro takes on Clyne and then Henderson as he cuts inside, and he plays it to Thiago who is in miles of space. Thiago is allowed to turn and he plays a great ball in for SUSO! Suso fires on to the post and Chilwell manages to scramble the ball away! Another warning shot from Spain, and England need to keep their concentration here as Spain threaten to fight their way back into this final!

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63rd Minute: A throw in on the right for Spain. Carvajal with the throw into Suso. Suso passes the ball back in Saúl who holds up the ball and is left unchallenged by the England defence. Morata drops off to receive the ball from Saúl and plays a nice ball in behind for Suso, but Chilwell scrambles it away. Theo beats Oxlade-Chamberlain in the air, and Sandro is the first to the knockdown. Sandro plays the ball down the wing for Theo to chase. Theo left a lone to make a fantastic cross! MORAtaaaahhh! Morata is unmarked and he heads over the bar. Spain are really knocking on the door now, ramping up the pressure on England's defence, who just can't close down Spain quick enough leaving plenty of spaces to exploit. How long until Spain make the breakthrough they need?

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67th Minute:  Spain attacking again down the right now. Carvajal brings it forward and then passes inside to Saúl. Saúl tries to find out Sandro but Clyne manages to head the ball away and England have the opportunity to counter attack. Oxlade-Chamberlain picks the ball up on the half way line and finds Kane. Kane turns just inside the Spain half and looks to put Oxlade-Chamberlain in behind the high Spanish line, but Llorente blocks the pass. The block falls to Clyne, and Theo is left in No Man's Land as Clyne lifts it over Theo for Oxlade-Chamberlain to run clean through. Oxlade-Chamberlain brings the ball up to the six-yard box, one on one with De Gea. CHAMBERLAIIINNNNNN!!!!!! Oxlade-Chamberlain slides the ball under De Gea, and gets his second of the evening! It's totally against the run of play but England have a fourth now! A clinical counter attack from the English, Spain were caught out of position, and England have surely wrapped this game up now! Nelson heads for the bench after the wild celebrations as Thompson takes his place. England 4 - Spain 0!

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74th Minute: Spain with some patient passing in midfield as England look to sit back a bit more now, and Darder plays a ball out to Suso on the right wing. Suso runs straight into Chilwell however, and Chilwell plays it forward to Oxlade-Chamberlain down the left wing. Oxlade-Chamberlain is in behind Carvajal and he cuts inside past Vallejo. Oxlade-Chamberlain tries for his hat-trick from the edge of the box! And just brushes wide! What a way to top off a hat-trick that would've been, as De Gea was left stranded. England remind Spain that they're dangerous on the counter, but Spain seem to have been totally deflated since that fourth goal.

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Posted (edited)

78th Minute: England counter again through Oxlade-Chamberlain, but his pass behind for Kane is easily cut out by Vallejo, who opts for the back pass. De Gea launches the ball forward for Morata but Keane wins the header. Saúl gets to the second ball first thought and can start a Spanish counter attack with a pass out wide to Sandro on the half way line. Sandro cuts inside, beating three English players, and then plays a simple pass back to Saúl. Simple passing now for Spain as Saúl moves it to Darder. Darder plays it forward for Thiago turns and passes first time to Morata. Morata plays it back to the Spanish midfield who pass it between themselves before giving the ball to Vallejo, who picks out Suso. Suso back inside to Darder and he picks out Carvajal with a first-time pass over the head of Chilwell as the Right Back gets forward. Carvajal gets down the line and cuts it back for Suso, who plays a one touch pass to MORATA!!!!! Unmarked and with plenty of time, Morata fires past Forster at his near post to give Spain a lifeline in this game! Or is too late? Is that only a consolation for Spain? Either way that was sublime football by Spain and a great finish to cap the move off! England 4 - Spain 1.

Edited by VillaSmith

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79th Minute: And England restart the game with a pass back to Davies, who tries to find Thompson on the wing, but Sandro gets there first and Spain have the ball back already! Spain look to counter with some sharp passing through the middle and Saúl plays a ball over the top for Morata! But Keane manages to get a tackle in and pass to Chilwell. But Chilwell's clearance is intercepted by Darder, who has made a real difference for Spain in this half. Darder to Suso. Suso plays it first time for Morata to run on to, and Morata shoots! But Forster tips it around the post for a corner! Spain giving England some real scares here as Thiago comes across to take the corner. And Thiago floats the ball across the box, but it's far too long as Kane manages to head the ball away and England look to start a counter attack, but the move fizzles out quickly.

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81st Minute:  Cook strokes the ball forward to Thompson, who turns and drifts out wide with the ball. Thompson gets down the edge of the box and puts a cross in towards Davies, but Vallejo cuts the cross out. But it falls to Henderson! And then CHAMberlain! Henderson's volley deflects off of Vallejo and falls to Oxlade-Chamberlain. Oxlade-Chamberlain lets the ball drop and hit's it on the half volley, only to rifle onto the side netting, a fantastic opportunity to get his hat-trick, but the chance goes begging.

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85th minute:  Spain have an opportunity with a corner now. Thiago whips it in, and Cook manages to head a way. Only as far as Suso though, but his shot is blocked by Kane. England haven't cleared their lines yet though as \theo pick the ball up out wide. Theo cuts inside beating three English players, and he lays it off for Saúl, but his pass is cut out by Chilwell, and England manage to clear.

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Full Time:  A long ball forward by Saúl goes out for a throw in, and Ivan Bebek decides enough is enough here at Wembley! England are the 2021 European International League Champions!!!! England 4 - Spain 1!

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England got off to a blistering start taking a 2-0 within the first 10 minutes, and it was cruise control from that point on. England dominated proceedings in the first half, Spain not getting a sniff and Lewis Cook's fantastic strike sending the Home team in 3-0 at half time. Spain came out in the second half a different animal and put England on the back foot for most of the second half. Creating chance after chance but they just couldn't beat Fraser Forster. In the end, Englands fast counter attacking sealed them the game and late Morata goal meant the visitors didn't go home totally red-faced. All in all, England thoroughly deserve their victory and they pick up their first Trophy since the 1966 World Cup! Also, a special day for manager Sam Smith as he won his first major trophy, he and England fans alike hoping that it's just the first of many more.

 

That's it for our coverage of the 2021 European International League Final, with England picking up their first competition win, we hope to see you again soon!

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Posted (edited)

 

Five Year Review

 

England

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2016/2017 | 1st - Man Utd, 2nd - Arsenal, 3rd - Southampton

2017/2018 | 1st - Arsenal, 2nd - Man Utd, 3rd - Tottenham

2018/2019 | 1st - Arsenal, 2nd - Man Utd, 3rd -  Liverpool

2019/2020 | 1st - Man Utd, 2nd - Tottenham, 3rd -  Liverpool

2020/2021 | 1st - Man Utd, 2nd - Liverpool, 3rd -  Chelsea

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2016/2017 | Winners - Man Utd, Runner's Up  - Norwich

2017/2018 | Winners - Man Utd, Runner's Up  - Liverpool

2018/2019 | Winners - Tottenham, Runner's Up  - Watford

2019/2020 | Winners - Man Utd, Runner's Up  - Chelsea

2020/2021 | Winners - Man Utd, Runner's Up  - Watford

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2016/2017 | Winners Man UtdRunner's Up Tottenham

2017/2018 | Winners - Man CityRunner's Up Newcastle

2018/2019 | Winners - ArsenalRunner's Up Watford

2019/2020 | Winners - TottenhamRunner's Up Chelsea

2020/2021 | Winners - Man UtdRunner's Up Leicester

 

Spain

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2016/2017 | 1st - Barcelona, 2nd - Atletico Madrid, 3rd - Real Madrid

2017/2018 | 1st - Atletico Madrid, 2nd - Real Madrid, 3rd - Barcelona

2018/2019 | 1st - Barcelona, 2nd - Atletico Madrid, 3rd - Real Madrid

2019/2020 | 1st - Real Madrid, 2nd - Barcelona, 3rd - Atletico Madrid

2020/2021 | 1st - Atletico Madrid, 2nd - Barcelona, 3rd – Real Madrid

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2016/2017 | Winners - Barcelona, Runner's Up  - Atletico Madrid

2017/2018 | Winners - Atletico Madrid, Runner's Up  - Sevilla

2018/2019 | Winners - Real Madrid, Runner's Up  - Barcelona

2019/2020 | Winners - Barcelona, Runner's Up  - Atletico Madrid

2020/2021 | Winners - Atletico Madrid, Runner's Up  - Barcelona

 

Germany

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2016/2017 | 1st - Bayern, 2nd - Gladbach, 3rd - Leverkusen

2017/2018 | 1st - Bayern, 2nd - Gladbach, 3rd - Leverkusen

2018/2019 | 1st - Bayern, 2nd - Leipzig, 3rd - Dortmund

2019/2020 | 1st - Bayern, 2nd - Dortmund, 3rd - Leverkusen

2020/2021 | 1st - Leverkusen, 2nd - Bayern, 3rd - Leipzig

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2016/2017 | Winners - Leverkusen, Runner's Up  - Hoffenheim

2017/2018 | Winners - Bayern, Runner's Up  - Leverkusen

2018/2019 | Winners - Freiburg, Runner's Up  - Schalke

2019/2020 | Winners - Leipzig, Runner's Up  - Gladbach

2020/2021 | Winners - Leipzig, Runner's Up  - Werder Bremen

 

Italy

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2016/2017 | 1st - Juventus, 2nd - Milan, 3rd - Napoli

2017/2018 | 1st - Milan, 2nd - Inter, 3rd - Juventus

2018/2019 | 1st - Juventus , 2nd - Napoli, 3rd - Fiorentina

2019/2020 | 1st - Juventus, 2nd - Napoli, 3rd - Roma

2020/2021 | 1st - Juventus, 2nd - Fiorentina, 3rd - Napoli

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2016/2017 | Winners - Sampdoria, Runner's Up  - Milan

2017/2018 | Winners - Fiorentina, Runner's Up  - Napoli

2018/2019 | Winners - Milan, Runner's Up  - Inter

2019/2020 | Winners - Napoli, Runner's Up  - Juventus

2020/2021 | Winners - Lazio, Runner's Up  - Inter

 

France

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2016/2017 | 1st - Monaco, 2nd - PSG, 3rd - Lyon

2017/2018 | 1st - Monaco, 2nd - PSG, 3rd - Lyon

2018/2019 | 1st - PSG, 2nd - Monaco, 3rd - Lyon

2019/2020 | 1st - Monaco, 2nd - PSG, 3rd - Lyon

2020/2021 | 1st - Monaco, 2nd - PSG, 3rd - Lyon

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2016/2017 | Winners - Monaco, Runner's Up  - Stade Rennais

2017/2018 | Winners - Montpellier, Runner's Up  - Strasbourg Alsace

2018/2019 | Winners - Monaco, Runner's Up  - Nantes

2019/2020 | Winners - Monaco, Runner's Up  - Angers

2020/2021 | Winners - Marseille, Runner's Up - Nancy

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2016/2017 | Winners - PSG, Runner's Up  - Bordeaux

2017/2018 | Winners - PSG, Runner's Up  - Monaco

2018/2019 | Winners - PSG, Runner's Up  - Monaco

2019/2020 | Winners - Saint-Étienne, Runner's Up  - EA Guingamp

2020/2021 | Winners - Monaco, Runner's Up  - Bordeaux

 

Europe

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2016/2017 | Winners - Real Madrid, Runner's Up  - Man City

2017/2018 | Winners - Leverkusen, Runner's Up  - PSG

2018/2019 | Winners - Man Utd, Runner's Up  - Real Madrid

2019/2020 | Winners - Man Utd, Runner's Up  - Arsenal

2020/2021 | Winners - Man Utd, Runner's Up  - Bayern

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2016/2017 | Winners - Monaco, Runner's Up  - Tottenham

2017/2018 | Winners - Leipzig, Runner's Up  - Liverpool

2018/2019 | Winners - Espanyol, Runner's Up  - Milan

2019/2020 | Winners - Lyon, Runner's Up  - Leverkusen

2020/2021 | Winners - Gladbach, Runner's Up  - Porto

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2016/2017 | Winners - Real Madrid, Runner's Up  - Sevilla

2017/2018 | Winners - Monaco, Runner's Up  - Real Madrid

2018/2019 | Winners - Leverkusen, Runner's Up  - Leipzig

2019/2020 | Winners - Man Utd, Runner's Up  - Espanyol

2020/2021 | Winners - Lyon, Runner's Up  - Man Utd

 

International

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2018 | Winners - Jamaica, Runner's Up - Uruguay

 

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2020 | Winners - Portugal, Runner's Up - Belgium

 

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2019 | Winners - Portugal, Runner's Up - Belgium

2021 | Winners - England, Runner's Up - Spain

 

Leading Transfers

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The £100m barrier hasn't been broken just yet, but the Icardi and Jesus transfer got very close, it's only a matter of time before someone's sold for £100m+

Edited by VillaSmith

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Former Club Watch

 

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Eastleigh are still sitting in League 2, having finished 21st, 22nd, 22nd and 21st. They've managed to establish themselves as a League 2 side, but as perennial strugglers. The 2019/20 season was a bit of a miracle escape for them, only lifting out of the relegation spots with 2 games to go, just clinching safety. Last season it looked hopeful that they might get a mid table finish, but they proceeded to not register a single win in their last 12 games, sending them plummeting down the table, although they finished well above the relegation zone in terms of points if not places. They're on their third manager since my departure and predicted to finish 17th this season, things are looking up for Eastleigh.

 

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Tranmere only managed to finish 8th in the 2017/18 season after I left, but they secured promotion via the playoffs the next season, but challenging for the playoffs didn't secure my replacements job, who was sacked before the end of 2018, and are now on their third manager since my departure too. Tranmere comfortably survived their first season back in the Football League with an 18th place finish, and snuck into the playoffs last season with a 7th place finish, being knocked out by eventual playoff winners Yeovil. Predicted a 10th place finish and they'll be looking to make the playoffs again to continue their rise through the leagues. Sales of my signings, Marques, Jensen and Mabiala (future transfer, had left before he joined) have generated £700k for Tranmere, with the potential of it rising to £1.2m.

 

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 Oxford got so close to the playoffs in the 2019/20 season with a late surge, but they only managed to get an 8th place finish in the end. The 2020/21 season was less exciting for the U's, finishing in 19th just above the relegation spots. My replacement Marco Tábuas left to take the QPR job in May, and U18's Coach John Arne Riise took over to see Oxford through to the end of the season and was given the top job permanently during the summer. It's great to see a coach that I signed get elevated through the club like that, and hope Riise can get the club challenging for the playoffs again. He has a tough job, however, as Oxford are tipped for relegation, and with little in the way of incomings or outgoings, it could be a struggle.

 

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My replacement Mark Warburton only lasted until January, as the club were in and out of the relegation zone, and his replacement, Alex Neil, didn't fair much better. Burnley did go into the last day of the season in 17th, but losing at bottom placed Leeds (only their third win of the season) and Aston Villa beating Arsenal at Home, whilst Watford drew at Wolves, meant Burnley finished 19th below both Villa and Watford, with Villa clinching survival. A big clear out this summer as transfers out managed to generate £112m for the club, but with only £16m spent on transfers, and most players still wanting out, it could be a tough ask to bounce straight back up. Notable sales include; Tierney to Man Utd for £25m, Gal to Atlético Madrid for £28.5m and Jeff Hendrick to Inter for £11.5m. Almost all their players want out, and Martínez is listed by request, with both Barcelona and Liverpool interested in him.

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Posted (edited)

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September 2021 | England

 

World Cup Qualifiers

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My first dropped points of the campaign, and it was a really frustrating game. Austria's narrow 4231 just condensed the style of play, and I couldn't break them down at all, whilst they managed to carve out some good chances for themselves. Austria took the lead after Schaub played a ball behind my defence, and Sabitzer managed to get past Chilwell and then beat Steel at his front post, a disappointing way to go behind and Austria's only real chance of the game. We managed to equalise just before half time as Stankovic came out to collect a Nelson corner, but it deflected off of Lovric into the path of Henderson who fired into the roof of an empty net. After that, we struggled to create chances and got caught out in defence a few times but we managed to limp over the line, not the performance I wanted after my Euro International League win!

 

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In quite an important game we completely fluffed our lines. We managed to take the lead, against the run of play, after Steel came to claim a Morais corner, and he launched the ball up to Nelson to start a counter attack. Nelson then played a lovely cross field ball to Oxlade-Chamberlain, who beat Riedewald and fired low past Zoet. Holland equalised through a dodgy goal. Memphis whipped in a corner which Steel failed to claim, and Buitink pushed Cook out of the way and then headed into an open net. My post game protestations were met with silence by UEFA as it was decided Buitink had committed a foul :mad: Holland got their second through another corner that we failed to clear properly, which fell to Tete who shot on the volley, which deflected off of Bazoer onto Stones and past Steel. Holland managed to win the ball back almost immediately from my kick off and worked it down the wing for Klaassen, who crossed to Morais who tapped in from close range. Thompson gave me some hope early on in the second half after Henderson played a ball down the wing for Oxlade-Chamberlain, who then crossed into Thompson, who placed a tidy finish into the bottom left corner. Holland extinguished that hope about 20 minutes later, working the ball down the right wing, with Morais putting a cross up to the back post, and Memphis rose above Walker to head back across goal to seal the game.

 

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We fall behind Holland after losing in Amsterdam, but we have a fairly good run in now. The next round of fixtures I face Cyprus and Scotland, and with the home game against Holland still to come, I can still qualify. We finish against Gibraltar, so if it comes down to the last game, I have a decent chance. Hopefully, Holland will slip up against either Austria or Scotland in their remaining games. I slipped to 9th in the World Rankings after this poor month too.

Edited by VillaSmith

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October 2021 | England

 

World Cup Qualifiers

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A good win to get back in to form, but I really should have beaten Cyprus more convincingly, we didn't create anywhere near enough in attack, though that may be due to the new formation I started the game with. Davies opened the goalscoring with a low, driven shot from the edge of the box to finish off some nice passing. We doubled our lead after a counter attack was worked down the right wing for Clyne, who crossed back in and Laifis turned the ball in before it reached Gilkes. We knocked on the door for a while in the second half, but couldn't beat Cyprus' compressed defence, with the third being eventually scored by Dele, volleying home a nice cross from Clyne that floated onto the penalty spot. Thompson finished off the scoring after Cyprus failed to clear a corner, and the ball eventually fell to the Liverpool striker to smash past the Cyprus keeper. Unfortunately, Shaw got injured in this game, and despite Chilwell being sold to Man City for £48.5m, I can never get him to play well, and defence is always slightly shakier when he plays.

 

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And this is the game that the press would've turned against me I reckon. Our defence was a shambles and we were nowhere clinical enough in attack, and with Scotland scoring their first three shots on target, it felt like nothing would go my way. Scotland took the lead through a fantastic goal from Griffiths. We failed to get rid of a Free Kick and the ball fell to Griffiths on the edge of the box and he promptly smashed it into the top left corner. We equalised just after the half hour as Thompson skipped past two Scotland players and fired across goal to Oxlade-Chamberlain, who tapped in with ease. It wasn't level for long, in fact, it was the same highlight on the match engine that Scotland scored again :mad: Scotland basically ran straight forward from the kickoff and my defence was all over the place, with Griffiths eventually playing in Burke to slot a shot under Forster. We managed to equalise again just after half time through a lovely 25 yard free kick from Thompson that flew right into the top left corner. Defensive mistakes again led to Scotland's third goal, with two lumps forward from Scotland resulting in about six of my players in a 10 metre radius on the edge of my box, and Aitchison free in the box to place a shot past Forster. Davies equalised again with 20 minutes to go as we worked a throw in from the right into the box, and Davies swivelled and placed a shot past Gunn. We couldn't get the winner and we really should have beaten Scotland.

 

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Holland won both of their games and have extended their lead, I now need to win both games to qualify and hope Scotland do me a favour against Holland. An awful performance against Scotland has really cost me, as some better finishing would mean I only really needed to concentrate on beating Holland. Hopefully, I can still get through as the best second placed team at the least. We also fell to 12th in the world rankings after another poor month.

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November 2021 | England

 

World Cup Qualifier

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It's over. That loss pretty all but confirms my non-qualification. I started the game way too defensively, with the goal of nullifying the threat through the middle that Holland posed last time out, but they were obviously more defensive last time as they were away. We were a defensive shambles again, with Holland's first goal coming after Stones missed a very easy header that let Buitink in behind for a free chance on goal, which he managed to convert with ease. Buitink then capitalised on another defensive mistake just before half time, beating Shawcross in the air to flick a cross from Kluivert into an open net, and leaving my qualification hopes dangling by a thread. Those hopes were lifted just after half time, with a Henderson corner falling to Oxlade-Chamberlain. His shot deflected onto the post and then Kluivert tried to clear, but it seemed his natural goalscoring instincts kicked in as he smashed the ball into the top corner. We just couldn't create chances after that though, and I reckon the nation would certainly have turned on me now, as I was now 5th in the best second placed table, and with Gibraltar next, I had no chance of getting higher. I was out. I was also wearing a bobble hat during this game, and my brother kindly pointed out that the press would definitely be referring to me as "the twit in a Hat" :(

 

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I technically wasn't knocked out yet, so I got to play the Gibraltar, although the result wouldn't matter as since Gibraltar were bottom of the group, results against them don't count. I decided to completely rotate the team to give some younger players some chances. We got off to a quick start, although Gibraltar's possession near the start had me thinking I was facing a Graham Taylor moment, but we managed to get up the ball up to the other end, with Thompson then getting on the end of a Cook pass to smash the ball past Hunt. Hughes made it 2-0, rising above everyone to nod home a Walker cross from the right. Davies hit a shot from range that deflected off a CB to wrong foot the Hunt and make it 3-0. Thompson then got on the ended of a Nick Hahn knock down to smash the ball into the roof of the net to make it 4-0 just before the half hour. Former Oxford Loanee, Nick Hahn, then made it 5 after receiving a pass from Hughes, cutting inside beating two players and placing into the corner of the net. We could have made it 6-0 soon after, but Thompson's penalty was an easy height for the Keeper. An okay performance to round off the group, but it was really just going through the motions to ensure we didn't finish below Austria.

 

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Second. An awful result. A disappointing run of results after the International League which combined toothless attacking and shambolic defending saw me slip behind Holland. I say toothless, we still scored 34, but we should have scored so much more.

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Not even close to qualifying. Poor performances against Austria and Scotland did it for me. If I'd won those, I'd be off to Morocco, but England's lack of really good defensive players tripped me up. Individually there are good defenders available to England, but the mental attributes of most of them leave a lot to be desired at international level and as a unit they just can't play together. Still, I should have qualified with ease.

 

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And there's the confirmation of what I knew was coming. Make me a nice meal to cheer me up, Jamie :( 

 

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3 hours ago, Nobby_McDonald said:

Oh dear, that didn't end well with England.

I don't know what happened, after the European International League I just couldn't get them playing well at all, and Holland just managed to exploit my frailties with ease.

 

Had a few offers from the Premier League, but I want to go abroad now and I think I better keep a low profile in England for a bit. A few jobs available in Italy and Germany which I reckon I'll go for, see what I get offered.

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Got plenty of offers to re-enter management, mainly with Premier League clubs like Everton, Wolves, Bournemouth, Southampton as well as a chance to go to Italy with Lazio and Empoli. I was very tempted by it, but I don't like Lazio that much, and their squad isn't very good, so I turned it down. Empoli just weren't very good. I even got an offer from Wales to go straight back into international football, but with Bale having been retired for two years, there's no way I'm taking that job. Eventually, at the beginning of February, this came up...

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Schalke have a good squad, massively underperforming, and in a competitive league with the chance of trophies. Okay, Bayern dominated for much of this save so far, but that dominance has slipped with Leverkusen, Leipzig and Dortmund all competing, I reckon there's room for a fifth up there! Not to mention they have an amazing Newgen I've had my eye on for a while.

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2021/2022 Season | Schalke 04

 

 

Club Details

Nation - Germany

League - Bundesliga 

Stadium - Veltins-Arena

Capacity - 62,271 (45,664 seated)

Training Facilities - State of the Art

Youth Facilities - Superb

Junior Coaching - Excellent

Youth Recruitment - Extensive

Media Prediction - 6th

My expectation - Top Half

Transfer Budget - £41m (I received £13m)

Wage Budget - £1,496,465 p/w

Current Wage Bill - £1,441,238 p/w

 

Current Situation

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Some on again, off again form so far this season, but they now haven't won in five league games. Only 3 points off of 7th, but that's the highest I can really look up as the Top 6 are really cut adrift from everyone else, and I'm not making up 16 points in 14 games. Also only five points from the relegation playoff and seven from the automatic spots, so whilst I'm confident I won't fall that low, it's something I'd like to distance myself from as much as possible. My aim is to get to 7th, rebuild a bit in the summer and then go for the European spots next season.

 

Squad

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A decent squad with some quality players, but not a lot of depth. I'm sorted for defensive midfielders, but less so on the creative side. There's also quite a few good youngsters in there, I'm hoping I can build a team around them, and hold on to them for a while.

 

Key Players

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As I say there's some real quality in the squad. Meyer is the creative spark in my midfield and the only one of real quality in the squad. He'll fit into my AP role well, but he needs competition in the summer. David Selke is probably my best striker, and he certainly has what I like in a striker in terms of physical attributes, but not as well rounded as I'd like. He'll be key for now, but I'll probably look elsewhere in the summer. Richard Yeboah, the reason I took this job! I noticed him a few years back, and I've wanted to get my hands on him since. Unfortunately, when I got in a position where I might be able to sign him, he was too good to come to Burnley. I don't know if I want to keep him out wide, or move him up front, but he still has room to grow and I'm excited to have him develop in my team. Hans Gudde is another youth player I've had my eye on. He's is a quality midfielder, and he can either play as a DLP or a DM, and like Yeboah, I'm excited to see him develop under me. Howedes is my captain and a quality CB, unfortunately out for the rest of the season, I just hope his injury doesn't hamper him too much, but he is getting old now.

 

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In terms of up and comers, Garbe is probably the best in the squad. Great physically, but I like my full backs to be better going forward, so I reckon if I can get his heading up, he'll be a decent CB.

 

I'm refreshed after my sacking from England, and I've finally managed to move abroad, which means this is a proper Gap Year! I'm excited about the challenge, and I want to stay at Schalke a while now, and as I'm as high in the leagues as possible, it's gonna take an absolutely massive job for me to leave now.

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Almost finished the season with Schalke, but a few days before facing Bayern in the league with 2 games to go, I got these news items...

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My starting GK and his backup, both injured in the same training session (news items were 4 minutes apart) and now I have no GK to face Bayern :( I've been forced to call up a GK from Schalke II and he's pretty bad. Although I'm pretty annoyed this came before a game against Bayern, I'm mainly wondering, what the hell were my GK coaches doing to get both GKs injured in such a short space of time :rolleyes:

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February - May 2022 / Season Review | Schalke 04

 

Bundesliga

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Got off to a bad start with a loss to rivals Dortmund, but from then on we were irresistible! My front three of Rey, Selke and Yeboah cut through defences with ease, scoring 4 or more goals in half of my league games. I thought 6th would be unattainable due to being 18 points behind, but a combination of my fantastic form and Koln finishing the season with awful form left me on level points with 67th on the last day. Unfortunately, I couldn't hold on to my 2-0 lead against Gladbach and had to settle for 7th in the end, leaving my European hopes down to the DFB-Pokal. My highlight of the season has to be beating Bayern 4-1. It was totally unexpected, we were magnificent and most importantly, our defence was awesome. With a 23-year-old GK from Schalke II getting his full début, I was expecting a hammering, but we managed to reduce Bayern to speculative long shots that were easy for my GK to handle, and in attack, we were lethal once again. My form is very encouraging for next season and I reckon with the right signings we should be able to get into the Top 4.

In terms of the squad, the team was fantastic for me, I'm kinda shocked they were doing so badly. Real Madrid loanee, Rey, has to be my stand out performer, a real threat from the left and getting on the end of attack with regular efficiency, it's a shame Madrid won't allow me to extend the loan. Yeboah and Meyer were also fantastic in attack, creating loads of chances and getting on the end of plenty themselves. Rudiger and Hendrix were dominant at the back, giving me a solid base to build from and a reliable defence.

DFB-Pokal

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My first win as Schalke 04 manager came at the Allianz Arena as I progressed to the Semi Final of the DFB-Pokal. It was a good win against a weakened Bayern side, and it helped me kickstart my career at Schalke 04. The Quarter Final also saw Dortmund and Leverkusen exit, so it presented a fantastic opportunity for an early trophy. I managed to come from behind to lead relegation strugglers Hertha, but in the 89th, Mayoral equalised for the Hertha after some sustained pressure. My tired side couldn't get a breakthrough in extra time and eventually succumbed in penalties. That left me relying on Leipzig for European qualification, and they beat Hertha in the final, giving me Europa League football next season.

 

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Rey also managed to get Player's Player of the Year, and deservedly so. Rey is a real talent and dominated for me out wide, a shame I can't keep him.

 

 

An amazing start, and a great foundation to aim for Champions League football next year, which I kind of need to achieve as I have promised it to Yeboah, Meyer, Lenglet, Rudiger and Hendrix after clubs like Bayern and Barcelona have been sniffing around over the summer, but with the right signings, I reckon I can do it, and maybe get a cup too! I can't wait for next season to start.

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What is going on on the international stage? First Jamaica win the 2018 World Cup, then England/I fail to qualify for 2022, Spain and France don't make it out of the groups, and Australia and Jamaica make it to the Semi Finals, and Australia only just loses to Argentina in the final after smashing European Champions Portugal in the Semi. And somehow after leading Jamaica to a World Cup win and then a World Cup Semi Final, Ricardo Fuller still hasn't been poached by a club side!? Australia are managed by some newgen called Archie O'Neill who also has no suitors after his World Cup heroics and it just seems the International stage is bonkers at the minute.

 

I dunno, maybe I'm just annoyed at being shown up by other Commonwealth countries :(

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June - August 2022 / Pre-Season | Schalke 04

 

Transfers

Out

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I had a big clear out over the summer, getting rid of players to bring in £83m and free up some wages, mostly moving on players that weren't in my plans for the season. Lenglet was someone I would have liked to keep, but I couldn't turn down £20m, the same happened with Allmendinger, a Schalke youth player who's quite a good winger, but he was 5th choice and I included a £20m buy back clause in case he develops into a great player. The rest were just moving on the "deadwood".

 

In


Aleix García - Free Transfer from Man City. I brought García in as a cheap back up to Meyer, and he seems decent enough and will be a good rotation player to deal with the Europa League.

Ron-Robert Zieler - Free Transfer from AS Monaco. Another cheap back-up, with the added bonus of being Homegrown in Germany for the Europa League. 

Fabio Angelozzi - £300k from Western Sydney Wanderers. This guy was recommended by my scout, and I thought I'd take a punt on him, but he isn't great. Moved to Schalke II for now so he can play, hopefully, he'll improve enough that I can make a profit on him.

Adam Svard - £2.1m from Malmo. Less of a risky signing, but one for the future. He looks a decent little striker and he was doing well in the Allsvenkan at 17. For now, I've loaned him to Union Berlin in 2. Bundesliga to get some first team games and he's started well. If he improves I'm hoping he can be in my squad next season. After 50 appearances the fee would rise to £2.9m.

Marcus Rashford - £9.5m from Man Utd. Rashford was transfer listed at Utd and I thought I'd snap him up as he fit my tactic fairly well. I'm a little concerned whether he'll adapt to the Bundesliga and he hasn't developed as much as you would have liked, hence his listing, but he'll be a good rotation player at the least.

Sebastian Federhen - Free Transfer. A bit of a punt on this guy. He's got great potential but with his poor determination and his age suggest he won't reach that potential, but on a free transfer it's worth the risk. He's been loaned to the Austrian Bundesliga to get first team football.

Yamet Zapata - £14.5m from Pumas. Found this guy playing in Mexico, but thought he'd be too expensive. I took a chance and added him to my Transfer Targets, and my DoF managed to get him for a decent fee, that I'd probably have overpaid! He's a great DM and will slot right in behind Gudde and Meyer perfectly.

Wout Laenen - £25.5m from Anderlecht. An example of me perhaps overpaying :lol: Laenen was listed by request at Anderlecht, and I thought I'd beat some other teams to get him in. He's a good player but a bit costly. He does have some great attributes so I'm not too concerned, but considering some of my other transfers, I am slightly worried he was a tad expensive.

Jaume Camino - Loan from Barcelona. Signed by my DoF, and he seems a decent backup, but that's it. For now, he's been moved to Schalke II.

Lionel Christopher Werleman - Loan from Man Utd. I actually signed this guy on loan before, for Burnley in the Championship, but he demanded a termination after only a few games as I wasn't playing with wingers and I let him go. He's improved a hell of a lot since then and is a well-rounded winger, he'll be a good rotation player throughout the year.

Fernando Manjarrés - £17.25m from Botafogo. I needed a right back and Manjarrés fit the bill perfectly and has plenty of potential too. My DoF negotiated for him, and I'm not sure I'd have shelled out £17m for him, but I probably wouldn't have gotten a deal at £17m, so it's swings and roundabouts.

Jorge Meré - £4.4m from PSG. I needed a CB to replace Lenglet, and Meré was a decent cheap-ish option. He'll be a good rotation player behind Rudiger and Hendrix.

Jonas Bjorklund - Loan from Arsenal. A decent young DM that I've brought in to be a backup player. He looks decent and has good potential, so maybe I'll look to make it permanent, but I'm not sure Arsenal will let him go.

Emmanuel Benegas - £11.5m from Burnley. I needed a LB and after PSG had bumped the price of a player I was chasing, that was transfer listed, from £30m to £40m, and then stole him, I turned to Benegas. He was good for me at Burnley and has good potential. Perhaps I paid a tad much, but I feel I'll play him a lot this season, rotating with Jonas Hector.

Ladji Bassolé - £21m from Atletico Madrid. I was chasing this guy all summer, and eventually, he demanded a transfer in late July. He's a great GK with bags of potential and was playing second fiddle to Jan Oblka at Atleti. He's also a big upgrade on Fahrmann and Zieler, and given he could be at the club for 10+ years as the first choice GK, I reckon it's worth the splurge. Though it could rise to £29m after 50 appearances.

Marco Asensio - £15m from Chelsea. I realised with my Europa League games that I had focused a tad too heavily on my defensive players, and when Meyer was out injured I had no "impact midfielders" on the bench. So that when I saw Asensio transfer listed, I thought he'd fit the bill perfectly. I reckon he'll rotate with Meyer quite heavily and will be a good player to have in the Europa League.

Timo Werner - £34m from Dortmund. My final splurge signing. Rashford hadn't played as well as I'd hoped in the Europa and DFB-Pokal, and I was worried he wouldn't fire in the league too. Around this time Selke also said he wanted to leave so I decided to move him on and bring in Werner, who was transfer listed at Dortmund. He's proven in the Bundesliga and will be a better first choice than Rashford, who'll be a good backup for now.

 

Squad

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DFB-Pokal

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An okay start to the domestic season, as my backups eased into the 2nd round to face 2. Bundesliga side Karlsruher. I'm slightly disappointed that I only won 3-0, but after such an overhaul, I can accept I might start a little slow this season.

 

Europa League

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I seem to have trouble breaking down Cypriot sides, as they defend like hell when I face them! I managed to get past Nicosia in the end, despite them frustrating my attack for 180 minutes, and set up a playoff game with Aberdeen. The Aberdeen tie was much more pleasing, a return to the form I had last season and I dispatched them with ease over the two legs. I was glad to avoid the shock exits at this round, as quite a few big sides tripped up at this stage. Galatasaray were knocked out by a Polish side, Ajax lost to Moreirense, Betis lost to Levski Sofia and Lyon were eliminated by Utrecht, and Juventus only just got past Grasshopper Zurich.

 

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Napoli is a tough draw, but I'm quite happy with that group, I should be able to qualify from it with relative ease.

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September - November 2022 | Schalke 04

 

Bundesliga

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A bit of a disappointing start to my first full season with Schalke. After my opening loss against Gladbach, I seemed to turn it around and put some very good form together, but around the time that the Europa League group stage was fully underway, my form fell apart. My most disappointing loss had to be to Darmstadt, and it was a performance that typified my play over the last few games, we were tired and couldn't create chances. One positive is that when I win, I win convincingly, and having just come off of a massive derby win against Dortmund, I'm confident I can turn it around. We're only 4 points off of 4th, so it's not out of reach yet, but I need to find some form and quick.

 

DFB-Pokal

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We managed to just about get through to the 3rd Round of the cup, and whilst we created more in attack in this game, we fell apart defensively. Bassolé had a terrible game, passing straight to the Karlsruher striker for their first goal and was shaky for the entire match. Fortunately, we created enough chances whilst camped on the edge of the Karlsruher box, but we weren't as clinical as we should have been. One saving grace was that I did rest some players for this game, but we still should have done better, and the fact we then lost to Darmstadt the game after meant that resting players didn't work as planned.

 

UEFA Europa League

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A great start to my Europa League group, with impressive performances against Vitória de Guimaraes and Dinamo Tbilisi, and a good performance in Napoli, although it was disappointing I couldn't hold on to my lead. Qualification will frustratingly come down to a home game against Napoli, as I rested a lot of players in my away game to Vitória de Guimaraes due to my game against Leverkusen that I played the weekend after. Again that didn't work as I lost both of those games :seagull: I'm confident I can get a result against Napoli and progress to the knockout stages, but it'll be tough, and since Dinamo Tbilisi haven't won a game yet, I can't really hope for a win from them to get me through.

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1 hour ago, Nobby_McDonald said:

Well done qualifying for the Europa League.

International football has gone bonkers.

Thanks :) It was a bit lucky that Leipzig managed to limp past Hertha, especially after I blew my chance vs Gladbach.

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December 2022 / Mini Update | Schalke 04

 

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Won all my games in December and have shot right up the table, going into the winter break in 2nd and qualified for the Europa League knockouts. I think Bayern have pretty much tied up the title, so it's just a case of beating the teams between 3rd and 9th to that Top 4 spot. A brief change in tactics managed to get some form going and built up some morale, and my changing tactics back hasn't upset that form so far, I'm hoping I'll be able to solidify this position come January/February. In the Europa League, I'll face Standard Liege in the first knockout round, and I reckon I should be able to beat them. More shocks too as Juventus were knocked out in the groups and my victory against Napoli saw them drop out as well.

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WTF has happened in international football is beyond me.

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17 hours ago, HawkAussie said:

WTF has happened in international football is beyond me.

The weirdest part is that it's not as if Jamaica and Australia have some special newgens come through, Australia have some decent ones, but my backup RB is probably the best and he's a decent Bundesliga RB. It's just crazy.

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December 2022 - February 2023 | Schalke 04

 

Bundesliga

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A fantastic few months, and mainly playing bottom half sides has allowed me to build up some form., snapping out of the poor form I'd been stuck in. My attacking play has been sensational but defensively there's still a lot to be desired. Gladbach seem to be my bogey team as it's now three losses in three games against them now, and all three times I've looked second best. Apart from that though it's been a very good few months and I've managed to just about stay in touch of Bayern, though not really. More importantly is that Dortmund, Leipzig and Gladbach have fallen away slightly and it's only really Leverkusen fighting with me currently, and I'm looking good for the Champions League places.

 

Europa League

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A great win at home to secure top spot in the group and qualification. The break through came late on but it was a dominant performance and since the goal we really ramped it up, Napoli never really threatened to knock me out of the group.

 

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A worrying first leg in Belgium as I ended up 3-0 down after just 25 minutes. A switch in tactics at half time and I came away with a fairly decent result with 2 away goals. I was prepared for a tough home fixture, but I needn't have worried, we absolutely smashed Liege, going in at half time 6-1 up. Yeboah had a stormer of a game, terrorising the Liege defence all game. I was perhaps slightly fortunate that Liege's starting GK was injured and his backup had a terrible game, whilst Liege also played incredibly defensively allowing me to attack at will. I'm through to the Second Knockout Round and will face Chelsea, who currently sit in second in the Premier League.

 

Transfers

Out

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Mainly just youth players leaving and also players like Muhl, García and Llorente were moved on as they weren't getting any playing time. The one major transfer out was Meyer to Leverkusen, and my hands were tied with that one. Meyer had a release clause for Champions League teams, and Leverkusen stumped up the cash so he was off. It's not too bad as Asensio had firmly taken his spot in the team, but it was a frustrating that it left me with no decent backup.

 

In

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I and my Head of Youth Development bought quite a few newgens in January, all rated 3 to 5 stars potential, and there's too many to go through individually. They'll just fill up Schalke II for now, and hopefully, get loaned out at some point.

 

Joe Ellison - £28.5m from Freiburg. A German international newgen that already had over 100 appearances for Freiburg. Ellison requested a transfer and I thought I'd use the Meyer money to bring him in and try sure up my defence. Ellison is well rounded and the future of both Schalke and Germany's defence in my opinion.

Marijan Cvitkovic - Loan from Liverpool. Cvitkovic was brought in to replace Meyer for the rest of the season, a short term stop gap until the summer and I can assess what's available. One downside is that he can't play CM at all, so he'll need a little retraining.

 

Youth Intake

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I normally don't update on my youth intake, but I finally got some good players :D Well, one good player in Kehinde and a maybe in Steegmann. Both have really good determination too which I really like my youth players having. Kehinde looks a semi decent keeper already, and I'll be looking to loan him out as soon as possible and think I may have a bit of a gem on my hands, he'll make a good backup for Bassolé at the very least. Steegmann has some decent attributes but may be a bit too limited. Plus I have quite a few good young LBs so he may find it hard to get in the squad unless he improves a lot.

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March - June 2023 / Season Review | Schalke 04

 

Bundesliga

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A decent end to the season only losing the one game and I managed to secure 2nd place and Champions League football. We made it a bit more difficult on ourselves as we drew a lot towards the end, allowing Leverkusen to close the gap considerably, and if my form had been a little better, I could have even challenged Bayern for the title, but they ran away with it in the end. My front three of Yeboah, Laenen and Werner were great, but by far and away my best, consistent performer of the past few months has to be Asensio! He really grew into the team and became really integral come the end of the season, even attracting interest from Barcelona, which earned him a new contract as his release clause was just £30m. We played some really lovely stuff, even when I had to bring in some youth players like Omer Gungor towards the end of the season. Defensively still a little frail, but I'm putting that down to an inconsistent back four with lots of rotation, next season I have a better idea of my starting defence, so hopefully I'll see some improvements there, not to mention that Ellison will hopefully be better settled next year. In the squad screenshot, I have my Best XI based on Average Rating, and I'm a little surprised that Garbe ended up being one of my better CBs this year as he inconsistently played. Zapata was great for me this season but he's not been included as whilst Hendrix played CB most of the season, I felt I had to include Garbe too and Zapata lost out.

 

DFB Pokal

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Two convincing wins against Braunschweig and Mainz got me through to the Semi Final again, but Bayern were too good for me in the end, showing why they ran away with the league so much. They put me to the sword early on and it never looked like I would come back into the game. I made it 3-1 through Yeboah late on but they snuffed out that late come back almost instantly, and Yeboah ended up getting me another consolation so it wasn't utterly embarrassing. I'll be aiming to win the DFB Pokal next season as one of my priorities, as it's about time I fleshed out my trophy cabinet. Bayern actually went on to win the DFB Pokal so I'll face them in the DFL-Supercup due to finishing 2nd in the league.

 

Europa League

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A slightly disappointing first leg in which I gave up two away goals, but overall it was a good performance. I did have to rely on two late equalisers to stay in the tie, but Chelsea didn't seem that much better than me I felt as I created the better chances. Originally, the second leg was much more embarrassing, losing 6-1 I think it was. But then my save file got corrupted, but luckily for me after a few scares with crashes on this save, I put the frequency of autosaves right up, so only lost a couple games. I thought at first I was incredibly lucky for it to happen as I took an early 2-0 lead this time around, but Chelsea equalised just before half time and really turned on the style second half. They cut through me with ease and got an early equaliser and I just managed to hold out to take it to extra time, although Werlemen had a golden opportunity in the 90th minute to win the game. Chelsea then dominated the extra time, scoring the winner n just the 93rd minute, and I just couldn't get back into the game. I was desperate to get the equaliser as it would send me through on away goals, but I couldn't break down Chelsea's defence at all. It was a very tough draw though so I won't beat myself up about it, but it would have been nice to win the Europa League.

 

Awards

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Team of the Year

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Player's Team of the Year

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Lots of awards and runner's up this year, as well as the second top goalscorer, 4 in the Team of the Year and 3 in the Player's Team of the Year, whilst I came third in the Player's Manager of the Year and Manager of the Year awards. A good haul and thoroughly deserved as my team was fantastic this year.

 

Notable Players

5. Fernando Manjarrés - The Colombian RB that my DoF bought for me in the summer, and he was fantastic for me all season, the only defender that really solidified his place all season, except maybe Hendrix. A real threat down the right getting 8 assists, and he was defensively solid too, and at only 22 he' s seems a great addition to the squad.

4. Wout Laenen - Laenen didn't start the season too well and I was worried I'd overpaid for him slightly, but despite an injury hit season, Laenen ended up being great for me, especially in the league where he had the third highest Average Rating. He created goals and he scored them too, hopefully, he can stay fit next season and I can get even more out of him.

3. Marco Asensio - Like Laenen, he grew into the team, but he managed to mostly avoid injury and he managed to build up some great form by the end of the season. Integral to my attacks, and he shows it with his 15 goals and 17 assists from midfield, it's no wonder Barcelona were interested. His release clause is now £80m so I reckon I can keep Barcelona off him for now, but after a season like that, I can see them stumping up the money, so it's fingers crossed he stays!

2. Richard Yeboah - As I said when I took the Schalke job, Yeboah is part of the reason why, and he showed it this season! Playing a combination of LW, RW and Striker, he managed to get 30 goals and 19 assists, a truly outstanding return for a 21-year-old. I retrained him to play LW this season, partly so I could fit Laenen into the team, partly as I wanted him cutting in on his right foot, and when he becomes natural there I think there's even more to come from him, he's a truly special player!

1. Timo Werner - Another player I was worried I'd overpaid for, but with 38 goals and 15 assists, I needn't have worried. Werner was just sensational for me, and I've had to offer him a new contract to dissuade interest from Leverkusen, but it's definitely worth it. He ripped the league's defences to shreds, and I'm hoping he'll continue that form into next season and the Champions League!

 

All in all, a fantastic season. I reckon with a couple addition here and there I can challenge Bayern for the Title. I have my starting line up picked out already, so it's just ensuring I have quality backups to replace them in the case of injury and to keep me fighting on all fronts. But I'm very hopeful with this side.

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Preseason's going well, with my new signing on the end of a Rudiger elbow in a friendly, which got Rudiger a red card :lol:

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