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Chasing Pep: Beating the thinker at his own game [A Journeyman Career]

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Chasing Pep: Beating the thinker at his own game

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Why hello. Welcome to the career of Francisco Lapello, a decidedly average Spanish football player who will be taking on modern football’s revolutionist. 

This career is inspired by Noikeee’s Jose Mourinho Story. Like Noikeee, I’ll be challenging myself to topple Pep Guardiola — surpassing his Hall of Fame career total. The task is already tough. But it’s made tougher by the fact that Guardiola is still bang in the middle of his career at a club with unlimited resources.

Aside from the sheer points total, there’s plenty of other goals to conquer. 

Francisco Lapello Goals:

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  • Win each of Europe’s top five leagues 
  • Win back-to-back European Cups
  • Manage Liverpool — It would be nice to be the guy to end the Premier League drought playing a version of total football.
  • Manage Barcelona — Even if just for a season. Recreating the 2012 look, and hopefully success, is enticing
  • Win the MLS — Likely a career swan song. 
  • Win an international tournament — Spain or England are preferable 
  • Achieve icon status at a club (it seems impossible to reach legend status, even if you win 7 leagues titles and three European cups in eight years – not that I’m bitter or anything)
  • Play beautiful football — Be as aesthetically pleasing as possible, while being as successful as possible.

Guardiola’s HOF total:

Chasing Pep will be no mean feat.

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I’ll start the career focusing on Europe. I’ve loaded each of Europe’s top leagues, as well as the US (I’ve always enjoy managing there). 

League’s loaded:

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In addition to the league’s above, I’ve loaded players from the top South American nations, Portugal, and Belgium. 

The Tactics:

While chasing Pep, I’ll be recreating much of his ideology. We will play beautiful football, with an emphasis on dominating the ball — high up the pitch — pressuring opponents from the front, and attacking in waves — both in attack and in defense.

I’ll go into tactics in more detail in a later post. But the goal is to find a happy medium between the Pep’s Barcelona and Munich sides, while revolutionizing myself and creating some funky new systems. Like Pep, the formation will shift week-to-week, but the aims will remain the same.


I’m starting out unemployed, with no preference on where I’ll begin this epic adventure. 

Ok, I guess we should get started. 

 

Career Updates:

Spoiler

2016 - New York City Football Club - 1st Eastern Conference, MLS Cup Champions, 2nd Supporters Shield

2017 - New York City Football Club - 1st Eastern Conference, MLS Cup Champions, American Cup Champions, 1st Supporters Shield

2017 - Everton (took over with a couple of months to go outside the Championship Playoffs - 1st Sky Bet Championship

2017-18 - Everton - 1st Premier League

 

Edited by ollie laaaaaaaad

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And so it begins

The first job offer that rolled in was an intriguing one.

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I didn’t want to jump into the MLS right away, but it was an interesting opportunity. I decided that I’d pitch a five month project: attempt to make the playoffs, boost my rating some, and be a free agent with a modicum of experience once the European firing/hiring period really gets going.

So, the bags are packed and we’re off to New York.

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New York City Football Club Overview

For those unaware, NYCFC is a fascinating club. It’s a an expansion franchise that joined the MLS in 2015. The team was born out of partnership between Manchester City and the New York Yankees, with the team’s home base being Yankee stadium. 

Club Profile:

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Facilities:

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The team has big resources compared to most MLS. However, with a salary cap the impact on the team itself is limited (though you’re theoretically able to sign better designated players). Upgrading facilities and generating better youth prospects should be easier, though. 

The club has little to no history. They’re most famous for snapping up the semi-retirement of David Villa and Andrea Pirlo, as well as appointing Patrick Vieira to his first first-team managerial job.

Now, Vieira is out, and I’m in.

There are ten games left to go in the regular season. Things aren’t too dire. We have a chance to get rolling if we get off to an electric start.

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The team sports plenty of talent. We’re woefully behind the preseason media prediction (2nd), but it gives an indication of the talent within the squad.

Here are the clubs top players:

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The Italian legend. Clearly he’s on his last legs. But he fits what I’m looking for: sitting in the middle of the field, controlling the tempo of the game, and pinging passes all over the field.

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Even at 34, Villa remains the clubs best player and one of the top players in MLS (I though he’d earn more than £84k per week, too). We will be relying on him to terrorize opposing back fours as a sole striker. 

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Pirlo’s midfield partner. While Andrea jaunts around the field, our young finish prospect will be galloping around. His job will be to run around a lot and bring a physical presence to the middle of the field. His positioning and marking ratings are a tad concerning. Here’s hoping he remains disciplined. 

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The player I’m really excited about. He can fill multiple roles in our multiple tactics. His short area quickness, passing, and flair are perfect for a high possession style. Hopefully he’ll work in the zone between the midfield and defense, whether it’s starting higher up the field or drifting inside from the wing. He’s in the prime of his career. To have a successful close to the season he needs to be the star of the show. 

The Tactics

I’ll have three main tactics that will be thew foundational sets whenever I join a club. As I get to know the players and opposition I will make tweaks.

Beauty

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The Barcelona-like Guardiola tactic. There’s a pivote, a false number nine, and an emphasis on wingbacks joining the attack as midfielder, while the pivote drops to present a back three.

Beast

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A more high octane attack that will fire the ball into the attacking midfielder who will control the game high up the field. Again, the fullbacks are asked to join the attack as midfielders, playing inside. All three forward players — the wingers and strikers — will make knifing runs, while moving all over the field. 

Utopia

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A tactic for when we want to dominate the ball. It will be used against much inferior opponents. It’s the system I will be gunning to perfect throughout the career.


It’s time to get this 10-game project rolling. Our run-in isn’t easy. But, fortunately, the team has seen a three game uptick prior to me taking control.

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10 hours ago, ollie laaaaaaaad said:

This career is inspired by Noikeee’s Jose Mourinho Story. Like Noikeee, I’ll be challenging myself to topple Pep Guardiola — surpassing his Hall of Fame career total.

I'm demanding 10% royalties of all managerial wages won during your career.

This seems interesting specially due to the tactical background. In fact despite my current career being about Mourinho I'm much more of a Pep disciple and have tried to bring Barcelona-like football around the world (in FM11 and FM15). I kind of failed horribly and ended up branching out to other types of football both times, so it'll be interesting to see if you can pull this off. ;)

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7 minutes ago, noikeee said:

I'm demanding 10% royalties of all managerial wages won during your career.

This seems interesting specially due to the tactical background. In fact despite my current career being about Mourinho I'm much more of a Pep disciple and have tried to bring Barcelona-like football around the world (in FM11 and FM15). I kind of failed horribly and ended up branching out to other types of football both times, so it'll be interesting to see if you can pull this off. ;)

Ha! 10% feels like I'm getting off lightly. So I'll accept it. 

It's tough. I don't think the current match engine suits it perfectly. It's better suited for Klopp-like high pressure stuff IMO. It also takes time to get that kind of sytstem embedded with the right guys at each spot, and it can be costly during that time to give away possession so often. 

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I always try and play a Pep-style of football, so will be following this. Interesting parallels with Pep at City and you at NYCFC to start off with. 

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15 minutes ago, LUFCspeni said:

I always try and play a Pep-style of football, so will be following this. Interesting parallels with Pep at City and you at NYCFC to start off with. 

Thanks, man. I agree, it's a fun way to kick things off. Hopefully I can bring in some of their best technical youngsters if I remain beyond the first five months. 

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August 2016 Update  —  Quite the start

 

Well, our first month in New York went about as well as anybody could hope for. Three games. Three wins. And two in dominant fashion.

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The results have put us within touching distance of the top of the conference, with New England on docket to start September

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Tactically, we’ve been fantastic going forward. The ethos of the system is simple: Have fullbacks join the attack, create an overload, then shift the ball precisely and quickly, opening up opportunities. We’ve simply been devastating in attack.

American winger Thomas McNamara has been tremendous. But the standout player has been Alexander Ring. He makes incisive runs to stretch the defence and always seems open for a pass.

Defensively, we’ve been less than stellar. It’s part system, part players. Too often we’ve been left exposed with just out two centre halfs. The pivote player should be sliding back there to form a three, or, ideally, we’d close of the attack before teams can pump the ball forward. Unfortunately, while Pirlo’s distribution has been a key to our success going forward, he just doesn’t have the legs to get back and help out the guys at the back and cut-off attacks. 

Maxi Moralez has delivered what I’ve asked. He takes up good positions in between the midfield and defense. He’s all too often sloppy with the ball, but he’ll make up for it with one special pass a game that opens up an opportunity that would otherwise go missing. 

The performance against LA was unexpected. I didn’t think the team would pick up the tactics so quickly. It helps having guys like Pirlo, Moralez and Villa who fit exactly the roles we are looking for. From the first minute we were dominant, creating chance after chance.

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I’ve already begun making plans if I’m to stick around beyond the season. Manchester City is flush with Spanish players of exceptional technical ability. Adding a couple via loan would be a big help. But the biggest impact will come with a replenished Designated Player spot. Pirlo will be moving on. Whether it’s via a release, or trade, I’ll be shipping out the icon for someone with better mobility. With our financial clout (comparative to the rest of the league) and reputation, we should be able to acquire a very good player to fill out the pivote spot. 

I also filled out the clubs staff. When I arrived I’d cleared out much of the incumbent coaches. We were left with just two coaches and two scouts. 

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September 2016 Update — Marred by ill-discipline

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September was marred by ill-disciple. There was more poor defending, bad decision making, and a continued struggle against speedy counter attacks. 

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The month opened with a thud. We were outclassed by the New England Revolution, the top side in MLS. 

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Even though we dominated possession, I never felt like we were in the game. We need to be cautious to avoid “tiki taka” — pointless sections of passing that serve no purposes. Passing around the arc is a no-no. Every pass must be looking to split zones between the defense and penetrate the backline.

The rest of the results were solid. The Dallas loss was a difficult one. But it was deserved. We conceded twice from corners, a worrying trend throughout the first two months.

There’s been two standout performers: David Villa and Mikey Lopez.

Villa is the best player in the league. And he’s been playing like it. The team’s movement in the final third of the field has been scintillating. There’s been lots of positional rotation and knifing runs. Villa has been the star of the show. Our system demands players to whip balls across the face of the goal (if the quick switch isn’t on). As Pep says, low cross to the near post are like “half a goal”. Villa’s movement getting across the face of defenders has been the main cause for our scoring prowess.

Mikey Lopez has been a pleasant surprise. He’s a central midfielder by trade that we’re lining up at the right wingback spot. Those wingbacks kick inside to align with one of the central midfielders while we’re in attack. It allows us to attack through the centre of the field and create overloads. 

Lopez has been perfect in that regard. 

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Defensively he’s been a bit of a miss. He’s single-handedly been responsible for two goals (a penalty, and getting lost when the opposition was in possession). The pro’s of him going forward have so far outweighed the negatives.

If we’re to do anything this season we have to sure things up when we lose the ball, and get much better at winning it back high up the field. 

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October 2016 Update — The close of the regular season

We closed the regular season with two dominant displays that catapulted us to the top of the Eastern Conference.

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We played our football at its finest. The final game of the season against Columbus was our best yet. We pushed our backline further up the field and played almost the entire game in the final third of the field. 

LA pipped us to the Supporters Shield. We finished levels on points, and we beat their goal difference, but lost out on head-to-head record. Hopefully we will make up for it in the Playoffs.

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David Villa closed the season as the league’s top scorer. He’s surely the front runner to win the MVP. 

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With eight wins in ten games we head into the Playoffs with plenty of confidence. 

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MLS Eastern Conference Semi Final

First Leg

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Our playoff run kicked off with a great win away at Toronto.

The game was a microcosm of our season; We played some devastating stuff going forward, but were stung by incisive counter attacks. 

I opted to go with Mix Diskerud in the middle of the park over Andrea Pirlo. I was concerned about Toronto’s athletic front line and hoped Diskerund would be better at dropping to form a back three, as well as cutting off attacks before they got started.

Diskerud was excellent in the first half. He routinely cut off attacks as Jozy Altidore looked isolated.

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But as the game wore on Toronto’s outlet passes were much better. They bypassed the middle of the field, where Diskerud was patrolling and controlling the game. 

Instead, they hit the flanks early and often. Once again, Mikel Lopez’s lack of positional awareness was a killer. Toronto buried an easy chance as Lopez pinched inside.

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Overall, I was delighted with the way we played and the result


Second Leg

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The home leg was more comfortable. Toronto came out looking to play rather than sitting back and hitting us on the break. 

That served us well. We knocked the ball around well, always staying in attack mode. There were few pointless passes and plenty of chances created.

We cruised through the second half and we’re now onto the Eastern Conference Final!

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Eastern Conference Final

The Eastern Conference Final’s saw us travel back to Canada to face the Montreal Impact.

First Leg

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The first leg was a thrilling encounter. Things started poorly for us, but we grew into the game. 

I opted to go with the same lineup as with the first leg against Toronto. Diskerud started ahead of Pirlo, tasked with the same role of shutting tacks before the opposing team could burst into our half and distribute wide. 

Alexander Ring ran the show. Without Pirlo alongside him, he’s freed up to make even more penetrating runs. His timing for getting forward is spot on, and his final ball has been brilliant.

Losing Lopez was a major blow. He tore his Achilles and is done for at least six months. It has an impact in the immediate future and for next year. He has been one of our best players since I joined the club. He even wound up winning the “MLS Newcomer” award. And he takes up a Designated Player spot, too. He disappointed during the regular season (He’s very Adel Taarabt-y) and I’d like to free up his spot if I stick around. That will be tough with his injury.

Second Leg

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About as dominant a semi-final as you could imagine. Jack Harrison came in for Lopez and was out of his mind good. Impact had no answer for out penetrating attacks. And in attack, they took too long to get the ball forward — trying to best us at our own game.

Losing Lopez stinks. I’d be concerned if we were facing LA in the final. Fortunately, they suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the San Jose Earthquakes. We match up really well against San Jose. 

Let’s go win the title. 

 

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Laughing and smiling and crying and blowing kisses and singing and hands on heads and I love you man’s and high fives and arms raised in triumphs, New York City claimed its first MLS Cup on Saturday night.

Mountain, climbed.

Football, conquered.

New York one, San Jose one.

Penalties.

Triumph.

New York City champions.

Let that one sink in.

One more time. Say it with me. New York City champions.

It didn’t come easy. It never does. San Jose frustrated and challenged the more talented boys from the Big Apple. “They took away a lot of what we wanted to do”, City manager Francisco Lapello said. 

The Earthquakes pressured the ball all over the field. They ran. Oh, they ran. The scintillating football we’ve come to expect from the boys in blue vanished. The gaps between lines they look to exploit were no more. A pair of holding midfielders stifled the space the City players Alexander Ring and Jack Harrison so often wreak havoc in.

City’s attacks were suffocated. The voids in space they look for were gone. Rather than sitting in pockets, pinging the ball all over the field, and forcing midfielders to turn and run, they had to play everything in front of the Earthquakes’ six man defensive wall. 

The first 45 minutes dragged by. “I hate Tiki Taka” Lapello said. “Possession for possessions sake is a sin. You must be decisive with the ball. Every pass should have a purpose. They made our attacks monotonous.”

“I got things wrong”, the young Spanish coach admitted. He arrived in New York just thirteen weeks ago, full of style and smiles and ego. Under his watch the team has gone from a disappointing, expensive, mistake, to champions. 

“I thought we could occupy their back two and holding midfielders with one striker and one midfielder. Two players occupying four would obviously be a big success.” Lapello said. “But they remained disciplined and focused. They forced us to move the ball laterally rather than forward and cut off or service to David [Villa]”.

Lapello arrived after City pulled the cord on Patrick Vieira’s tenure. The team was floundering under the French legend. Now, they’ve claimed their first Eastern Conference title and MLS Cup, the team’s first honors since its inception in 2015.

“This is what we expected”, Sporting Director Claudio Reyna said. “We hired Francisco because we thought we had the talent to win the title. He completed that task and now we must discuss the future.”

It could have been so different. The Earthquakes held tight until the 75th minute. Then, legs got tired and the game opened up.

Suddenly City were pouring on chance after chance. The free flowing style that’s been much acclaimed under Lapello was back. The overlaps? check. Midfielders marauding in space? That was there, too. And David Villa, the league’s presumptive MVP, taking up deadly positions inside the box? You got it.

But David Bingham, San Jose’s heroic keeper, frustrated the Eastern Conference Champions and kept Villa in check.

The deadlock broke in extra time. Andrea Pirlo, the Italian legend who had been left on the bench throughout the playoffs, found his Spanish counterpart, Villa, who slid the ball past the sprawling Bingham.

1–0, New York. 

It didn’t take long for San Jose to quell the sea of blue that had already begun singing about this historic night. 

Less then a minute later, Rigg gave the ball away cheaply in the middle of the field. The Earthquakes pounced. The positional difficulties that have plagued Lapello’s team throughout his short tenure reared its ugly head at the least opportune time. 

Striker Marcos Urena broke free, finding his captain Chris Wondolowski who tied the game up. “We deserved that”, San Jose coach Dominic Kinnear said.

1–1.

Full time. Penalties. Ten kicks of a ball. Agony or ecstasy.

The legends came through. Pirlo and Villa converted, as did the Earthquake’s first two penalty takers. Ring capped his disappointing night by missing the City’s third. San Jose converted. They were up 3–2. 

Then the nerves hit. Marc Pelosi and Anibal Godoy missed for the Western Conference Champions, missing the target all together. Mikey Lopez and Alexander Callens buried their efforts to clinch the game and send home crowd into a victorious frenzy. 

It was a sickening loss for the men from West. “We lost on penalties. We did everything right. Period.” Kinnear said. 

Now attention will turn to what’s next. New York’s young coach came to the city with one goal. He signed a five month contract that would carry him through to the end of the season, a deal that will expire 48-hours after the teams victory parade on Tuesday. 

“I did my job”, Lapello said. “We’re champions. We’re Champions”.

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December 2016 Update — The End Of Season Review

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Um, well, that’s not what I expected.

When I took the NYCFC job I knew the team had bags of talent, should be doing better, and that the roster fit my tactics. I thought we could have a solid end to the season, make the playoffs, and have a decent run in the postseason. But I did not expect to run through the whole thing and win the championship.

But here we are. I’m ready to tick one thing of my “goals” list already. And we’re not even six months into this thing. 

The final was really fun. I screwed up tactically. They got it perfect. 

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I went with the 4–2–3–1 approach because I thought McNamara could occupy the two DM’s and Villa would drag the two CB’s out of position. But I was wrong. They shut everything down.

We smothered them defensively, too. But we couldn’t get anything going going forward. We just knocked it around and stood around looking chuffed with ourselves. 

Eventually they wore down and we were able to take the lead. They tied it up immediately, but we took the thing on penalties.

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Squad Overview:

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Top Five Players:

5) Mikey Lopez — Lopez fit exactly what we wanted from our RWB spot, a role that should essentially be a central midfielder with quality defensive skills.

4) Mix Diskerud — He slotted into Pirlo’s spot for the Playoffs and made us much better defensively.

3) Maxi Moralez — A real hit-or-miss player. But he made many special plays and became more a goalscorer once I took over (he score zero prior to my arrival). I think with an extra year in my system he could get even better.

2) Alexander Ring — The guy who made our team tick. Starting the play and snuffing out counter attacks, he did it all. 

1) David Villa — The most talented player in the league played like it. He was lethal in front of goal, propelling us to the title. Villa claimed the league MVP award, and broke the MLS scoring record.

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***

Now I’m unsure what to do. I only signed a five-month contract. The club has tried to engage in talks to extend me into next season. I’ve declined the talks so far. Winning the MLS Cup puts us into a continental competition. That would be fun to compete in, but I’d also like to get to Europe as soon as possible.

It’s firing season in Europe. I could get into a club before the January transfer window closes and get the team set before the start of the next season, allowing us to hit the ground running in 2017–18.

Let me know what you think below: New York for another year, or leave. 

Edited by ollie laaaaaaaad

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The New York City Football Club and Seattle Sounders have today completed a deal to trade star midfielders Andrea Pirlo and Nicolas Lodeiro, ESPN sources have confirmed.

Lodeiro, a Uruguayan international, joined the Sounders prior to the 2016 season in a record £4.6 million deal. The stars relationship had become “toxic” with management, per league sources, and initial trade discussions were held earlier in the week.

NYCFC will part ways with Pirlo, an Italian legend, after clinching their first championship. The team will also send a pair of draft picks and £100k in allocation money.

It’s unclear at this point whether NYCFC manager Francisco Lapello sanctioned the transfer. The Spaniard has yet to ink a new deal and league sources say the team are already screening future candidates. 

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The Plan:

So I've re-upped on another one-year deal. I want to compete in the continental tournament and try to go back-to-back. I will say, however, that if I get approached by a decent European team that ticks all the boxes I'm looking for then I'll leave.

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Time to get to work on putting my stamp on the squad. The Lodeiro trade was the first move of what will likely be many.

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March 2017 Update — Preseason Preview

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We’re ready to get going with year two here in New York. The offseason was a long and fruitful one.

Transfers:

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Our two biggest transactions were the trade for Nicolas Lodeiro and signing Rooney. I didn’t expect Rooney to be interested, even though he was stuck on the transfer list all season. Fortunately the boards move to open up another Designated Player spot, and the NYC market size, allowed us to lure the former England captain.

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Im just as excited to add Lodeiro, though. He fits exactly what we’re looking for. He’ll take over for Lopez in our 4–2–3–1, and will start out wide whenever we play with just three forward players — drifting all over the field.

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The price to land him was high: Pirlo, a couple of young prospects and draft picks. But he’s an international player in the prime of his career. It was an easy decision.

Some other additions:

Lee Seung-Woo

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Cameron Humphreys

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Daniel Nzie

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Nzie was the first overall pick in the 2017 Draft. Our other draft choices were not good enough to make the MLS squad. But Nzie has special potential.

Outside of Pirlo, we’ve lost close to nothing. We’ve restocked with more talent than last year and are the clear favourites to claim the Supporters Shield. 

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April 2017 Update — A solid start

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Schedule:

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We’re off to a solid start. The Villa, Rooney, Lodeiro trio has been as devastating as I imagined. The interchanging of positions and goalscoring prowess from all three spots has just been too difficult for folks to defend.

League Table:

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Atlanta, the Eastern Conference expansion team, has leaped out to an excellent start. Our schedule through May is brutally tough, so hopefully we can hang in. 

Squad Overview:

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We’re still trying to find the perfect configuration for this team. I’ve tried Rooney in the middle of the park — where I’d ideally like him to play — behind Villa, and up top with Villa kicked out to the left. Finding the balance between our fluid attack and snuffing out the counter attacks that hurt us so much last season will be an ongoing process.

Job Openings:

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With the seasons in Europe winding down, jobs are beginning to open up. There will be plenty more openings as the we reach the conclusion of the European calendar. I’ve been linked to the Middlesborough job, which is an interesting one. I’ll evaluate the landscape once Europe’s top leagues finish.

Edited by ollie laaaaaaaad

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Been a good start man, enjoying it! Rooney is a big signing. 

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Wow, absolutely fantastic results already. I don't understand the MLS very well but at least can see that you're winning. :D

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15 hours ago, Vilmar said:

Looking forward to your adventure

Thanks, Vilmar!

11 hours ago, Keano16 said:

Been a good start man, enjoying it! Rooney is a big signing. 

Thanks, man. I was made up that we landed him. We now have (probably) three of the top ten players in the league

16 minutes ago, noikeee said:

Wow, absolutely fantastic results already. I don't understand the MLS very well but at least can see that you're winning. :D

That's all that matters right now! Have to establish that reputation before I can expand the tactical philosophy at bigger clubs. The toughest part is the distorted calendar. It means guys become available at different times and it can be tough to keep track of the salary cap in that regard. But I've always found it a really fun league to manage in.

 

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May 2017 Update — A Certifiable Juggernaut 

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A dominant month through April has turned us into a certifiable juggernaut. There were a couple of disappointing draws. But we handed out out important drubbings to LA, Seattle and Toronto.

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The LA game was the highlight of the month (Oh, hello Ashley Cole). 

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Teams simply have no answer for us going forward. At the back, we’re having similar issues to the ones that hampered us last year. We’re lacking depth, and the starters we have aren’t good enough to consistently play one-on-one at the back. We need more from the pivote role. I think moving Rooney there full time may be the answer to the problem.

We also got Maxi Moralez back from his torn Achilles. He’s an excellent player, but I’m going to put him on the trade block and attempt to flip him for a top-level defender. We have enough fire-power going forward and his salary takes a big bite out of our cap.

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We lead the way from Atlanta by a point, with a big gulf between the top-two in the East and anyone out West. 

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Villa remains the best overall player in the league. However, we’ve got little from first overall pick Daniel Nzie, who’s already beginning to kick up a storm that he’s not seeing more playing time.

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Here’s how the top leagues in Europe finished at the end of each season. 

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Things didn’t go as well for Pep!

I’d love the Everton job if were to come open, but they already found their new manager with just a few games left in the season. 

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June 2017 Update

We stamped our mark on the league throughout May. Another month undefeated, with four clean sheets in five to boot.

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Our defensive improvement has been impressive. I’ve shifted our line earlier up the field and it’s helped snuff out many attacks before they begin. 

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We’re now nine points ahead in the East and that puts us a staggering 14 points ahead of any team in the West, just 17 games into the season.

Squad List:

1*KNplg79JJ0QSQARUsJrULA.png

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I don't know how did I miss before that you had signed Rooney. I know Rooney isn't really top class Rooney anymore, but still, crazy stuff. :idiot:

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July 2017 Update

Only a few games this month.

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The draw away at Atlanta was a really tough one, but I’m happy to just remain unbeaten. We continue to concede goals. Pushing the defensive line forward has helped us shut down more attacks, but we continue to concede close to a goal a game.

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Squad List:

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Villa has netted 22 in 22, and he’s due for a new contract. Rooney has been the star of the show, though. Playing deep in the middle of the field, behind the front man, or coming off the left, he’s been an out-and-out monster. 

Designated Players:

I’ve loved having Villa and Rooney. They may not be in their primes, but they’re playing at a crazy good level for the MLS. It’s just fun to have legends at the club.

We have the chance to snap up another DP if we wish. I just have to clear Maxi Moralez from the books. He’s an excellent player, but we’re loaded at all of his positions.

Here’s two guys who are interested…

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It would be fun to have Torres. His finishing stats are still good, and he’s yet to completely lose his legs.

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This could be the move that helps sure up our defence. Cahill is still at his best. 

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12 hours ago, john1 said:

Fantastic signing with Rooney :cool: 

He's been sensational for us. It's fun to been the team signing for mega-stars into their semi-retirement.

45 minutes ago, noikeee said:

I don't know how did I miss before that you had signed Rooney. I know Rooney isn't really top class Rooney anymore, but still, crazy stuff. :idiot:

Haha, his agent approached me for the deal. He's been utterly dominant. I'm guessing it was preferable to retirement and it's just put into the game to follow the Beckham, Gerrard, Lampard model 

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July 2017 Update

July was a funky month. We had, one one might term, an administrative **** up mess. I had Javier Mascherano offered to me. He was still as good as ever. I jumped at the chance.

After figuring out the terms with Barca and striking a deal with Masch, I was delighted. All I had to do was sell Maxi Moralez, open up an international slot, and we’d be good to register Mascherano.

The plan: Sign Javier, attempt to trade Moralez, and, if not, sell him abroad. 

But there was an issue. I was not allowed to sign Mascherano. The deal got cancelled because we had “too many international players”. An annoying problem, but not too terrible. All I had to do was sell Moralez first, right?

Easy. 

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He was gone in a couple of days. 

Time to go back in for Mascherano. Only this time, the agent wouldn’t discuss terms. He was pissed that the first deal was cancelled. 

Now I’m out one of my best players and the transfer window for signing foreign nationals has gone. Not good.

It’s annoying that playing within the MLS limits doesn’t function like the work permit system in Europe. I should be able to sign whomever, then just be unable to register them when we get to registration day, meaning I should sell players before hand.

Anyways, onto the month recap.

Schedule:

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Five games. Five Wins. We’re close to unstoppable at this point.

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Only ten games left to go in the regular season. We’re closing in on the Supporters Shield. 

Squad List:

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We have a ton of fire-power up front, but losing Moralez without being able to add another top-level player stinks. 

Edited by ollie laaaaaaaad

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August 2017 Update

The North American Champions League kicked off in August. The group stage looks fairly easy. We racked up two wins and kept rolling along undefeated in the league (though we came awfully close to losing in Washington). Going invincible is now very much in sight. The only issue is the sheer volume of fixtures. We’re competing on all three fronts. At some point fatigue is going to take its toll.

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Competitions:

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Squad List:

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Our squad is so thin that I’m thinking of rotating Villa and Rooney on and off, rather than playing the pair together. We need to have at least one of our superstars fully healthy for each game. 

Edited by ollie laaaaaaaad

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Man, the MLS can be so annoying. We’re in the US Cup final, and a bunch of our players are out because they’re travelling with their international teams. Why would they schedule a final then?

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That's FIVE starters.

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September-October 2017 Update

We ripped through the rest of the season, wrapping up the Supporters Shield to go alongside the cup victory. We secured more points than any team in MLS history with 10 games to go, and continued to churn out results to pad the stats. 

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Nice.

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We did, however, end with two disappointing loses. Going invincible was in our sights, and we let it slip. The first loss, at home to Atlanta, was disappointing but acceptable. We ran out of gas and they played better. 

The second loss was a real screw job. We got blitzed by Houston (4–1) after the league scheduled ANOTHER game in which half our squad was missing. I’m not joking, our bench was made up of greyed players. It’s such an annoying bug.

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But I was still content. We topped our continental group, grabbed the top seed for the playoffs, and won a cup competition. 

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Our top man Villa finished the year with a staggering 47 goals in 43 games. He’ll likely win another MVP award. Rooney shouldn’t be far behind, though. His numbers aren’t quite as gaudy, but he ran the show for us all season.

We’ve been utterly dominant over the rest of the league. I hope we don’t slip up in the playoffs. After that, I’m out, and onto Europe to chase Pep. 

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Eastern Conference Semi-Final

The Eastern Conference semi-final saw is pitted against DC United. Their manger slagged us off as overrated before the game. That was fun.

We roundly punished them.

First leg:

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Second Leg:

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Lee Seung-Woo has been sneakily one of our best players all season. he was a loanee from Barcelona who fits exactly our style of play. He can come short to retain possession, knife between alleys in the defence, and press all day long. 

Nicolas Lodeiro continues to show his value. It’s pretty clear now that we won the Pirlo-Lodeiro trade, even though many fans are still pissed.

Onto the Eastern Final. 

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Eastern Conference Final

The East final pitted us against the second best team in the league: Atlanta United.

United are the only team who beat us during the season when we were at full strength.

First Leg:

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We were a mess in the first leg. We were complacent with the ball, played too much ****** Tiki Taka, and failed to convert any of our infrequent chances. Atlanta fully deserved the win. They outplayed us, pressured well, and took their chance when it came.

The second leg. That was a different story…

Second Leg:

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Erm, this is essentially a semi-final, against the second best team in the league. And we blitzed them.

10–0. I’ve never had a game like it.

All our best players showed up; Villa bagged a hat-trick; Rooney had three assists; Lodeiro scored three; Woo scored; and Jack Harrison pitched in with a goal and two assists.

Utter domination. We played 22% of the game in their half. Passing for passing sake was gone. We played with intent and converted everything.

Onto the final. Time to go back-to-back. 

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MLS Cup Final

Man, we never make it easy in the final. Facing Sporting Kansas City, we were sluggish, lacked rhythm, and any kind of cutting edge.

The game dragged along. The team looked complacent, as though they thought it was in the bag after the ten-nil Atlanta drubbing.

The match rumbled through both halves with very little excitement. An injury to our star left back Ronald Matarrita forced us to shuffle our entire back line, sans one position. It exposed our centre backs and KC took advantage. 

But they were unable to find a way through in either half. 

When extra time rolled around it was clear that the game was going to come down to a moment of brilliance, a mistake, or penalties. Again.

Then brilliance struck. 

Rooney. Oh, Wayne Rooney. The Englishman picked the ball up in our half, surveyed the landscape, and pinged an audacious ball to David Villa, who finished in stride.

It was outrageous. It was genius.

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Back-t0-back champions!

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My American tour is done. I changed the culture at NYCFC with a style of football MLS has never seen. I came. I saw. I conquered.

Two MLS Cups, an American Cup, and a Supporters Shield (Btw, FM classes both the MLS Cup and SS as “leagues” on the HOF page).

I wanted to achieve continental success, too. But the knockout phase doesn’t begin until February. By then, I’ll have likely skedaddled to Europe.

We capped the season by dominating every awards category.

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Job done.

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That 10-0 is crazy. It's like they didn't bother to show up.

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5 hours ago, Vilmar said:

That 10-0 is crazy. It's like they didn't bother to show up.

I have no idea what happened. I changed nothing tactically and they beat me twice during the season playing that way. 

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1*5oePf3yBV8VDOpsdyyxxaA.jpeg

Francisco Lapello today stepped down as head coach at New York City Football Club, following a trophy laden two year spell.

The Spaniard told reporters he felt his “job was done” at an emotional press conference at Yankee Stadium.

“I came here to win football games, trophies, and to help revolutionize the soccer culture here in America”, Lapello said. “I feel I achieved those goals. Now it’s time to go and replicate this success somewhere else.”

Lapello is said to be in high demand across Europe, with England and Spain looking the most likely destination. 

As for his replacement, NYCFC’s Sporting Director Ferran Soriano said they would evaluate all options. “Replacing Francisco is going to be tough. He achieved the kind of football purity we were yearning for. He’s set up a culture, and level of success, we hope to replicate for decades.” DC United’s Ben Olsen is the current front runner to takeover. 

In his eighteen months with the club Lapello won two MLS Cups, an American Cup, and the Supporters Shield in 2017, achieving a record number of points.

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So my time in New York is done. It was a fun ride and I got to cross one of the goals off my list. 

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Pep’s still a million miles away. Fortunately, he struggled in his first year and his second season hasn’t started well. 

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As for my next stop, I’m going to see what comes up and not pick a certain destination. These are the current openings. I’d like either the Newcastle or Everton job if they were to come open. But I’m not sure if I want to head to England just yet.

1*gq9ftfLUze282FsDjA0FUA.png

There are plenty of interesting challenges currently open, though. Let’s see who approaches the revolutionist! 

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1*azMMwA_1hIhkkO6thY-zbg.png

So here I am, at one of English football’s great institutions. 

I turned down Sevilla. I turned down Fiorentina. I turned down Koln. Francisco Lapello is heading to Goodison Park.

1*KqzfoRy49-4v-nOeeO0U8w.jpeg

The more I thought about it the more the decision made sense. I can establish my tactics and philosophy from the ground up, while getting the club back into the Premier League and pushing on to Europe. At Sevilla or Fiorentina there would have been a requirement to win right away

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The club is in good shape. English finances obviously help. The team is setup well play how I want.

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Ross Barkley fits the bill as the number. 10 in our Beast formation, and there’s plenty of guys who can slot in as the pivote in any tactic. The fullbacks are also perfect: Ben Chilwell, Leighton Baines, Mason Holgate and Seamus Coleman can all comfortably come forward and support the attack inside. 

1*UbN5SBEoxemIDrA7B66Plw.png

I’m also excited to work with Alexander Isak. He has good ratings for an 18-year old and has the potential to grow within our tactics and be the team’s talisman. 

The first task is to clear out the guys who don’t want to be here — Ashley Williams, Kevin Mirallas — and replace them with guys who are better with the ball. 

Edited by ollie laaaaaaaad

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January-February 2018 Update

I arrived in Liverpool with just a week to go in the January transfer window. We quickly moved on a pair of players who didn’t want to be here, and added a number of quality signings who better fit the system.

Outs:

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Ins:

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Lingard and Areola are the only two permanent deals. Lingard fits out style perfectly. He can play with the ball his feet, penetrate in behind, and take up any spot in the midfield. Areola is a talented keeper who’s still only 24. The other loan deals give us depth and more options.

***

The first month of games could not have gone any better.

1*-t9LM7zK5KcZ8ZTih8agPQ.png

Eight games. Eight wins. The team has responded excellently to our tactics. In the eight games Ross Barkley has doubled his goal tally for the season. The entire team is running through him. And it’s paying off.

We got past Notts Forest and Newcastle in the cup, and have catapulted ourselves into the playoffs — and the title hunt.

1*_DTv4Mxn4_VvtQS8bRBELQ.png

There’s very little separating the top spot to seventh. We could just as easily win this thing as slide out of the playoffs all together once the new manager bump fades.

The game against Middlesborough was carnage. They scored in 60 seconds and the goals didn’t stop coming. But the game of the month was on the road at Ipswich. They were second in the league and we took the game to them. We dominated possession in their half and were clinic in front of goal.

1*VNWnbr8fHpoYaKB1UoC7PA.png

Barkley has been the top performer. Deulofeu has also been fantastic. Coming originally from Barca, it’s unsurprising that he sits the system perfectly. 

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Lingard is off to a monster start. Will Hughes, prior to an injury, has been the main pivote player. But we’ve been starting attacks higher up the pitch, with most of them running through Barkley.

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My goodness, Everton relegated. 

Good luck getting back into the EPL, they just belong there. 

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28 minutes ago, Vilmar said:

My goodness, Everton relegated. 

Good luck getting back into the EPL, they just belong there. 

Thanks, man. I agree, it's what appealed to me about the job. Getting back up shouldn't be too tough with the resources. It will be maintaining it and pressing on to Europe that will be the biggest challenge.

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