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withnail316

[FM13]'Let me start at the (IK) Start and then take it away...'

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Posted (edited)

(I've really aged myself with this title, haven't I? 1990 that this monstrosity came out... crumbs!)

Evening all. It's been a good few months since I've been a regular in here after the death of my last save, but I'm hoping to put that right with another long-term effort, and that also means I've got a lot of reading to do to catch up with some of your saves! I shall be cracking on with that over the next few days...

It's no secret in these parts that my most enjoyable saves over the last few years have been based in the Nordics, and after a couple of years trying to follow up my favourite ever career (no images on that thread now after photobucket decided they wanted to commit commercial suicide) I've felt a calling to go back to Norway. 

To ensure this save has its own independence from the last, I've decided to start the career a year earlier (that means 2012, as I'm still on FM13) and I've also decided to use fake players, for the first time in any FM career. Last time I committed to staying in Norway until my club was the biggest side in the world - doing that twice in the same country on the same version of FM is a bit of a stretch, but I may go down that route, or I may look to move on if my feet start itching. I guess time will tell. 

As you may have guessed from the title, I've already decided where I'll be based, which means I'll be able to satisfy my need for a lower-league beginning to the tale. I'm also keen to develop an identity for the side that differs from the 4-4 effin 2 I build towards in my previous saves, so I'll be playing 4-3-3 throughout, which should aid the Norwegian national team while I'm here, who tend to play the same way.
 

Game details:

FM13.3 (no edits)
Leagues loaded (second tier & above unless stated otherwise): Belarus, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Germany (third tier & above) Sweden (fourth tier & above), Norway (third tier & above)
Medium database
28,000 players

The manager

Dane Johan Andersen is again the man in the manager's chair. He starts off at 31 years of age, a former full-back who was a steady pro across the Nordic region, but never got close to a move to his beloved Everton. (Maybe one day as a manager, but not for many, many years.) While he was born in Copenhagen, his mother's family are from the Norwegian city of Kristiansand, which is where he moved his young family to after an enforced retirement thanks to a severe knee injury. He was lucky to get a coaching gig straight away, but he had bigger targets in mind in the near future...

Edited by withnail316

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Glad to see you back North of the Arctic circle! Or, at least, near it... Good luck!

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Posted (edited)

597921a46cd2d_IKStart.thumb.jpg.df5400fc8090619aeb28df310ad08443.jpg

IK Start
(From wiki)

IK Start is a Norwegian football club from the town of Kristiansand, located on the south-coast of Norway, and around 320km south-west of Oslo. The club play their home matches at the 14,300 capacity-all seater Sør Arena. Before moving to Sør Arena, IK Start played their games at Kristiansand Stadion. The team's official supporter's club is called "Tigerberget".

The team plays in yellow jerseys, black shorts and yellow socks at home, and blue jerseys, white shorts and blue socks away.

Start were Norwegian champions in 1978 and 1980. They participated in the European Cup in 1979 and 1981, as well as being qualified for the UEFA Champions League 2006–07. The years since 1995 have been turbulent, but recent investments have given greater expectations for the future. In 2004 they won the Norwegian First Division and were promoted to the Norwegian Premier League.

In 2005 they reached second place, following Vålerenga, after a strong comeback season in the Norwegian Premier League. For this, Start earned a place in the UEFA Cup 2006.

In 2006, after beating Skála of the Faroe Islands in the first qualifying round of the UEFA Cup, and Drogheda United of Ireland in the second qualifying round (after penalties), they reached the first round of the UEFA Cup, where they were knocked out by Ajax of the Netherlands.

The club however was relegated from the top flight in 2007, and although they won promotion again the next year, they suffered the same fate in 2011, and so we start as an Adeccoligaen side. 

597924a5ef16d_Startstadium.thumb.jpg.f6f7f08141062141d9757b165177e2be.jpg

(From FM)

Despite relegation, the club is in reasonable shape. It retains nearly 6,500 season-ticket holders, and has adequate youth & training facilities. The club has just one fierce rival, Viking FK, who are the third most successful club in the country having won 8 league championships. 

 

Edited by withnail316

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10 minutes ago, ManUtd1 said:

Glad to see you back North of the Arctic circle! Or, at least, near it... Good luck!

Cheers, it's about a 1,600km journey to my old club so quite a way off the Arctic Circle this time - I wonder if that'll make a difference in European games in future. I always thought my home form was so strong because clubs didn't like going that far north...

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Posted (edited)

5979275524c82_IKStart.thumb.jpg.bb67ba311d7bcb4f05da0e408de485e5.jpg

IK Start
Adeccoligaen 2012

Media expectation: 1st (of 16)
Board expectation: win the league

Transfer budget (remaining): €0
Wage budget: €21,450p/w (currently €1,100p/w under budget)

I arrived at the club with a very healthy starting XI, but very little else in the squad. There were also no scouts upon my arrival, while my backroom team was rather all over the place (four youth coaches, 0 for the first team.) I didn't want to disturb too much though, so I offered short deals for three of the youth team coaches to join the full ranks, and I'll have a look at the situation again next winter. 

My scouts have been extremely busy since we came in, and we've made no fewer than 10 new signings (three of them on long-term loans) and have spent a total of €71,000 on transfer fees. With the squad being as short as it was on numbers, I haven't wanted to lose too many at the start of the season, although decent four young players have left on loan deals to secure some first team football for the future campaign. 

Usually I'd post a team report upon my arrival and then describe my transfers here, but I'll have to do it altogether this time. Two weeks before the first friendly, this is my assistant's view on our current squad:

59792bec67282_IKStart_ReportSquadDepth.thumb.png.7af459b860c4585aec0248a0482195fc.png59792c0af0c0b_IKStart_ReportSquadDepth-2.thumb.png.118f5508ec929af0ee5d9ac2e77817d2.png

From that, things are looking pretty good for us, you'd think. These two were probably our best players upon my arrival:

59792cb6dc3c9_BragiPlsson_OverviewProfile.thumb.png.a0ddb121017f6a847d7bc3001126e529.png59792cbd1c621_EirikMills_OverviewProfile.thumb.png.e28d1edf9ad2d61d34326db33e824a4e.png

Transfers out

As mentioned, I've allowed four players to leave the club on year-long loans, although truthfully I suspect only one of them has a chance of developing into a top-flight player. That is 16-year-old midfielder Hans Erik Gran, who joins third tier Vindbjart for the duration of the season. However, nobody is leaving on a permanent basis if I can help it before the window closes at the end of March.

59792e7bc0660_HansErikGran_OverviewProfile.thumb.png.472dc815d7312c64b53cdbf24795c2c0.png

Transfers in

A very busy few weeks, but I think we've done some excellent business. The biggest fee spent was €55,000 to HamKam for striker Leon Sørensen, with midfielder Mats Grønlien the only other fee (€16,000 from Ranheim.) Right back Christian Svendby, left back Daniel Vetrhus and midfielder Dan Roger Wildenvey all joined on frees from top-flight Odd, while Brazilian forward Souza and midfielder Ghezal Obame were free agents. Centre-back Endre Bech, goalkeeper Odin Aaslien and winger Pål Kittilsen all join on two year loans as back-up from top flight side Strømgodset, although I don't expect to use them too often.

One of the things I have to be aware of in Norway is that I'm only allowed 9 non-homegrown players in my 25 man squad, but we'll start this campaign with just 6 of them, which gives me plenty of breathing room for future windows. Right, that's us all set up, time for some friendlies...

Edited by withnail316

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Hmm, it's a pity that the game doesn't replicate records such as most appearances/goals in the all-time history when using fake players. No matter, I'll have to set my own targets...

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13 hours ago, withnail316 said:

Cheers, it's about a 1,600km journey to my old club so quite a way off the Arctic Circle this time - I wonder if that'll make a difference in European games in future. I always thought my home form was so strong because clubs didn't like going that far north...

They do not like it up there sir, they do not like it!

(Sorry, been watching a lot of Dad's Army)

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I thought my transfer activity was done, but it's never that simple when you have almost two months before the window closes, is it? 

On the last day of January, I had rejected an offer of €275,000 from German side Energie Cottbus for Nigerian midfielder Bernard Amoo. It would be fair to say he wasn't a happy bunny about that decision, but with two years to go on his contract, it wasn't enough to tempt me. Instead I slapped a price-tag of €1m on him, and thought that would be that for a player supposedly worth a tenth of that figure. Barely a week later however, he had demanded a transfer after I refused to give him a new contract. I offered him around for the €1m fee (plus 50%) and surprisingly got two bites - the first from rivals Viking FK for €750,000, and the second matched my price. As a result, Amoo is off to join Qatari side Al-Sadd and I'm delighted to see him go. 

His replacement is 19 year old Ruben Karlsen, who joins from top-flight Lillestrøm for €130,000. I also decided we needed a third striker, so set up a loan deal with Denmark's AaB for youngster Dennis Graveson, who joins us until the end of the season. 

597a5c1e63092_RubenKarlsen_OverviewProfile.thumb.png.0b4d99abaaa40b7189671ca9a9bf05fd.png597a5c1776cd4_DennisGravesen_OverviewProfile.thumb.png.4c194fa754f154326600d741bd2edf76.png

I'd like to think that having made around €800,000 in this window, the club will stick a little more money in our budget for the season, but I'm happy enough with what we have now - and I may even have a little word about youth coaching instead. 

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8 hours ago, deltablue said:

They do not like it up there sir, they do not like it!

(Sorry, been watching a lot of Dad's Army)

Terrible - but very accurate! :)

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Pre-season

We've managed to negotiate our way through the long pre-season (I arrived at the club on 3rd January, and the season officially starts on 7th April) without any major injury worries, and with some reasonable performances in the friendlies. I won't get ahead of myself, but I'm quite happy with the 23 players who make up our first team squad, and I'm quietly confident for our chances ahead of the campaign. 

597b47e445ccc_IKStart_FixturesSchedule.thumb.png.09284575335faaad9fcb2eebced82c46.png
The win at Viborg was especially satisfying, as was the draw with Danish Superliga outfit Silkeborg. 

I do have a couple of concerns over contracts though before we get started. Experienced pair Ole Ragnar Eriksen and Eirik Mills are both outstanding, despite being the wrong side of 30, and I'd like to keep both of them around after the end of this campaign, but I've had no joy as yet in contract negotiations. I'm also lacking the cash to make them huge offers in an effort to keep them, so there is a real concern I'll lose one or both of them. 

597b48dc74eee_EirikMills_OverviewProfile-2.thumb.png.a1a1bb24f4b161b028a7e494d1ef6207.png597b48e293c7a_OleRagnarEriksen_OverviewProfile.thumb.png.7fd0612ae4e4df61409adf1e1f7a553b.png

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16 hours ago, withnail316 said:

Terrible - but very accurate! :)

Well given the way you put it I couldn't resist ;)

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April

597ce8a542625_IKStart_FixturesSchedule-2.thumb.png.28630a08d4e8bdc9b94815bb522dfe8a.png

597ce8a7e3903_NorwegianFirstDivision_OverviewProfile.thumb.png.cb7f4b21b26ddc97943b81c9886ce928.png

A month of good results but fairly average performances, while the players try and adapt to our system. Left back Daniel Vetrhus has been the star performer, but there has been good news on the contract front. Both Eirik Mills and Ole Ragnar Eriksen have agreed to new deals, and considering both are top-flight players, that can only be good for the club. 

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Posted (edited)

May

597e4dad65d52_IKStart_FixturesSchedule.thumb.png.e9301b97114e2b4ab8bc988cd2735826.png

597e4db0007c5_NorwegianFirstDivision_OverviewProfile-2.thumb.png.a0a2a57deb70dcf76ea217d9edb6b951.png

Another month where the performances haven't been great, yet somehow we're cruising along at the top of the league. We've got very lucky in the two cup ties this month, but we'll need to improve dramatically if we're to get beyond top-flight Vålerenga in the next round. 

EDIT: I've jumped the gun, it would seem. Vålerenga were knocked out by part-timers Nottoden, so we'll meet them instead. 

There's a new addition in the summer months too, with this youngster arriving on a free from Lillestrom. 

597e4efd5c452_SverreIms_OverviewProfile.thumb.png.f5e0303da05738571274c85f9cf534d7.png

Edited by withnail316

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10 hours ago, deltablue said:

Excellent undefeated start. 

Yep, can't complain at the way it's begun. The club was well placed to go straight back up though, so nothing to get too excited about. 

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June & July

597fa036bd00e_IKStart_FixturesSchedule-2.thumb.png.a10497476f1b4747a392dd90d35dc05b.png

597fa0399f71b_NorwegianFirstDivision_OverviewProfile.thumb.png.46dec391d575855769717f78b6d1f400.png

Past the mid-way stage of the season (and the summer break) and things are looking rosy. A 10 point gap at the top, still unbeaten, and into the quarter final of the cup (albeit we've needed at least extra time in all but one round) means the club have already offered me a new four year contract and doubled my wages, which I have accepted. We're not scoring enough goals for my liking, but I said I was trying to build a defensive identity to this team instead of my normal attacking approach, and the fact we've only conceded seven league goals suggests I'm getting that right at the moment. 

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August

59806b337a2c5_IKStart_FixturesSchedule.thumb.png.10a5fc40eb95326a21804f58878e99ea.png

59806b35de83c_NorwegianFirstDivision_OverviewProfile.thumb.png.00604ab4c1a50e5cb757502bbff4540c.png

The perfect month, with wins against both of our main title challengers and we've progressed to the semi finals of the cup. The semi finals are a battle of two second tier clubs (us and Bodø/Glimt) against top-flight Haugesund and Sandnes Ulf) respectively. I'm pretty confident at least one second tier club will progress, although Haugesund are challenging for Europe in the top flight, so will be a big challenge for us. 

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It's not unusual to see lower league clubs in cup finals in Norway and elsewhere in my experience (admittedly a while ago) so it could very well happen. 

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12 minutes ago, deltablue said:

It's not unusual to see lower league clubs in cup finals in Norway and elsewhere in my experience (admittedly a while ago) so it could very well happen. 

There's not a great deal between the top of the second tier and the bottom of the first, yep. A bit of a shock that no big clubs are involved at this stage though. 

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Getting to a cup semi and all but promoted after 20 games is excellent going :thup: Been a long while since I did a proper Scandinavian save so will be interesting to see how this goes, KUTGW

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5 hours ago, Dexter_Morgan said:

Getting to a cup semi and all but promoted after 20 games is excellent going :thup: Been a long while since I did a proper Scandinavian save so will be interesting to see how this goes, KUTGW

Cheers DM. I'm really enjoying it so far, and the focus on playing a defensive style is making it feel quite different, too. 

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Posted (edited)

September

5981eb1b4900e_IKStart_FixturesSchedule.thumb.png.05cdf1e32f196f9337eec7e7302eb586.png

5981eb1de049a_NorwegianFirstDivision_OverviewProfile.thumb.png.bf3b75b2ee39d7a935534560f7035413.png

A bit ridiculous we're still unbeaten, but there you go. A huge month for us - we've secured promotion and the title (as expected) but more surprisingly we're also into the Norwegian Cup final. It's the first final in the club's 112-year history, and with prize money of €800,000 (and of course, a shot at Europe), it could transform the club going into the top flight. I've already identified two targets I will move for if we get even half of that to spend ahead of next season, both of whom would get straight into the team. 

We'll meet fellow Adeccoligaen side Bodø/Glimt in the final at the end of the season. 

Edited by withnail316

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Youth intake day.... time for some crushing disappointment, I think. 

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Youth intake 2012

598241641b47b_IKStartYouthCandidates_SquadPlayers.thumb.png.58b32002e77e9c0bdddcf66740386315.png

That'll be a yes, then. A bunch of no-hopers, so I'm not even bothering with a more detailed analysis this year. 

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To be fair though, it's not all bad in terms of youngsters at the club. I am developing these three, two of whom are our youth graduates:

598242bb973eb_HansErikGran_OverviewProfile.thumb.png.ccd11c043bbdd4bff0767a719656e5df.png598242c39adfa_PrebenLarsen_OverviewProfile.thumb.png.73d272c59522609202c74dbf5fdfd6d9.png598242c94fb04_SverreIms_OverviewProfile.thumb.png.9be9e4d43bd01bca3118a82c667f5872.png

 

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Rough intake, but it looks like you have some fine talent anyway.

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21 hours ago, BoxToBox said:

Rough intake, but it looks like you have some fine talent anyway.

Yeah, I won't worry too much about this year. Fingers crossed we see a big improvement in intake next season though. 

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October/November

5983941551a74_IKStart_FixturesSchedule.thumb.png.ef4209eb660a13ae4fcd7caaad02ae32.png

598394199ca5e_NorwegianFirstDivision_OverviewStages.thumb.png.9bc87e743496a755d2131bf9d8c5d143.png

The league season all finished then, and as you can see, we've managed to go unbeaten all season as we secure promotion back to the top flight at the first time of asking. Now though is the biggest game in the club's recent history - a chance at a first cup, and European football...

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Norwegian_Football_Cup_logo.thumb.jpg.937abeacd18e90581ed72d55565ba08c.jpg

The Norwegian Cup Final
IK Start v FK Bodø/Glimt
Sunday 11th November, 2012
Ullevaal Stadion, Oslo

National_Stadium.thumb.JPG.fc66ad78ca5d53ea1f1d9555e654d944.JPG

And so on to the showpiece event of the season, the Norwegian Cup final. It's an all-second tier affair, and comes just a week before our opponents are involved in the semi final of the promotion play off. We start the game as big favourites having finished 17 points clear of them in the league, and having recorded two wins in our league meetings. However, unlike them we have no previous finals to look back on, while it is their 6th final, having won it in 1975 & 1993.  Still, I'll take nothing for granted despite our heavy-favourite tag, and our strongest XI will all start. 

59839dc652dd4_JohanAndersen_NewsInbox.thumb.png.4b55f15b66b049063f5fbe9b7dd34d90.png

59839e08bed32_JohanAndersen_NewsInbox-2.thumb.png.6961eebdd3a8ab79569fb9e54e5ff68b.png

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8 minutes ago, deltablue said:

Nice one. 

 

13 hours ago, BoxToBox said:

Amazing work!

 

8 hours ago, kidthekid said:

Great start to life in Norway

Cheers. A solid start, but we had a bit of luck with the cup win, as we avoided all the big clubs and only played two top-flight sides, both at home.

Still, European football next year will be great for our finances, and might just help me convince a couple of targets that we're the right move for them.

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Posted (edited)

598499475e484_IKStart.thumb.jpg.9d9a9058955397076f976e1f71e5d144.jpg

IK Start
2012 season summary

League (Adeccoligaen)

Media prediction: 1st)
Finished: 1st - promoted to Tippeligaen as champions

Cups

Norwegian Cup: winners

Top scorers

Bragi Pálsson - 14 goals in 32 games (all in the league)
Eirik Mills - 10 goals in 33 games (9 in the league)
Leon Sørensen - 9 goals in 26 appearances (5 in the league, but only 10 starts made all season)

Positives

An unbelievable first year at the club, to be honest. Sure, we were promotion favourites, but we've achieved that in fine style. Going an entire season unbeaten is very rare for me, so I've got to be happy with that. I set out to make the team solid defensively, and conceding just 12 league goals suggests I've done that pretty well at this stage. I'm also delighted to qualify for Europe thanks to winning the cup, although we did get a huge slice of luck with the draw (and we needed at least extra time three times!) Much to be happy about, then. 

Concerns

Nothing major here, although some of our best players are getting on a bit, so I'll need to think about replacements. One of our right backs will be 38 when the new season starts, as will our goalkeeper, so I may need to think about replacing both. Nothing too major in this area, though. 

Ambitions

I'm targeting a place in the top half next year, and possibly an outside shot at a European place. I'd also like another good crack at the cup, but I'm not expecting us to make any waves in Europe this time around. 

Player of the season

Manager's choice: Ruben Karlsen. 13 assists and five goals for the 20 year old midfielder in his first season at the club makes him a worthy winner of this.
Fan's choice:  Daniel Vetrhus

Attendances

Lowest attendance: 6,396 (v Notodden in the cup)
Highest attendance: 12,075 (v Haugesund in the cup semi-final)
Average attendance: 8,794 (8,628 in the league - largest in the Adeccoligaen)

Finances

€1.6m in credit

Edited by withnail316

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I've got to Christmas and I'm still waiting for the board to give me a rough idea what the budget will be for next year, so I'm about to miss out on my number 1 target... who I could have signed for a mere €250,000 or so. Shambles. 

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Posted (edited)

5986f6cab259d_IKStart.thumb.jpg.5a95c7a4d2aaac60652e843edf774739.jpg

IK Start
Tippeligaen 2013

Media expectation: 12th (of 16)
Board expectation: avoid relegation

Transfer budget (remaining): €375,000
Wage budget: €50,000p/w (€15,000p/w under budget)

A very busy winter, but the new season is once again nearly here. It took the board an eternity to give me a rough budget for the season, but when they did, they were incredibly generous. The chairman pumped €500,000 into the coffers and trebled my wage budget, while offering a substantial transfer budget too. A real show of intent, and somewhat unexpected on my part, but it gives us a great chance of achieving something this year. While I was happy to accept the 'escape relegation' target, I'm going to be aiming for a spot in the top four, which would give us European football next year. 

However, despite the board's generosity in terms of budget, they haven't been quite so forthcoming over our facilities. I've asked for an upgrade to the youth facilities,  increased junior coaching and an extended youth network, all of which were rejected. They may not know it yet, but the board have elected to be nagged to death with those verdicts, so I'll be doing my best five year old impression over the course of the season!

With so much room in the remaining budget, I'm aiming to line up a few Bosman deals over the coming weeks and months, but my spending for the first half of the season is definitely over. I'm quite pleased with the business we've done, even if I've spent a little more than I had originally planned upon promotion (isn't it always the case?!)

Firstly though, the players out. With so much money made available to me, I decided I didn't want to keep any of the loan players around for the second year of their loan deal, and so all were released back to their clubs. I've let three players leave for fees: winger Souza joined Helsingborg for €300,000, Christian Svendby went to Tromsø for €210,000 (+50% of his next fee) and Ghezal Obame joined Elfsborg for €275,000. All decent fees, and while I would have been happy enough to keep all three, I'm convinced the squad is better off without them. 

I've spent an enormous €1.5m on new arrivals, although most deals are spread out over the next few years. Our transfer record has been smashed twice by the arrival of right back Runar Ubbe from Vålerenga for €450,000, which came shortly after we spent €300,000 on Øyvind Klemetsen from Strømsgodset. Striker Petter Saugestad arrived for €250,000 from Stabaek, returning to the club where he began his career (although I have no stats sadly as it's a fake player save) and home-grown Senagalese winger Makhtar Sow cost €120,000 from Sogndal. Danish centre back Tonni Heskjaer was allowed to leave his relegated side Ull/Kisa for an inexplicably low €10,000, and a similar bargain was fellow defender Kim Andre Praesteng, who arrives for €60,000. Young goalkeeper Karim Wawa looks a gift at €120,000, and the final arrival is winger Hallgier Lie, who I had tried to sign last year. For €150,000, he could be a steal, and a long term replacement for Eirik Mills. 

Edited by withnail316

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This was the guy I was monitoring all season, but the board dragging their feet over declaring the season's budget meant far bigger clubs started tracking him too. As soon as an offer from an English club came in, I knew my chances had gone. West Ham got him for €275,000. 

59877be5da833_AndrPaulsen_OverviewProfile.thumb.png.3f6bfd6abc9d4020bebb40fc7c6d8c04.png

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March

5988ea730ccf2_IKStart_FixturesSchedule.thumb.png.c1a75a24e59f1f41cc212f1dd83bea30.png

5988ea75b0fc6_NorwegianPremierDivision_OverviewProfile.thumb.png.1f6492bd7e1c69575a884b0710e00efd.png

Very pleased with our start to life back in the top flight. We were outstanding in the first two games of the season, and although we dropped points at Strømsgodset, we had two players sent off, so hanging on for something was a great achievement. 

The transfer window is now closed, but not before I dipped the club's toes into the market again for a couple of youngsters on deadline day. Winger Benjamin Lindstad joined from Molde for €200,000, while Swede Joel Westman was much cheaper at €28,000 from GAIS, and both were immediately sent out on loan to second tier Stabæk for the rest of the season. 

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April

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A mixed month, with disappointing performances against Sogndal and Sandnes Ulf, but a very positive start to life in the top flight. Now if I can just find a way for my strikers to start scoring, I'll be delighted....

A new arrival in July for the club, too. He'll cost €200,000 from Stabæk. 

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May

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Really pleased with how things are going after the first third of the season. Still in the cup, in a great position in the league, and our defensive record is astonishing - 6 clean sheets this month is unbelievable - even if we're still not quite scoring enough at the other end for my liking. 

I'm not convinced we have the squad depth to keep up a title challenge (we've just lost winger Hallgier Lie until September) especially as we have European games in the next few weeks, but I'm increasingly confident of a top four finish at the end of the season. 

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Excellent news for next year.

What isn't quite so good is that our best striker and top scorer from last year has been angling for a move, and I've finally given in.

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I decided that I'd accept anything over our transfer record (€1m) from any club outside of Norway. BATE responded with an offer of €1.1m + 50% of his next sale, which I've reluctantly accepted. He'll be leaving the club in July. 

I've already signed his replacement, who'll cost us €180,000 from FC Honka in Finland. He's a bit raw, but I see him as a proper target man, and suspect I can develop him over the next 18 months or so before selling him on. 

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Delighted with this lad on a free!

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Hertha Berlin let him go at the end of his youth contract, but he's immediately one of our best players. Despite his age, he won't become homegrown at the club, as is often the case with German players (although not with all of them, it really is pot luck) but I'm sure after 18 months with us we can sell him on for a decent sum of money. 

Speaking of decent sums of money, Schmitz's arrival has meant that Estonian international Alexei Novikov had to leave us due to lack of space in the squad, so he's joined FC Nordsjælland of Denmark for a lovely sum of €500,000. 

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June

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Another excellent month in the league sees us move to the summit of Norwegian football, but as I've previously said, I don't think we have the squad to stay there once the European games come around. I was bitterly disappointed to lose in the cup, which was our realistic shot at silverware, but I can see a possible blessing of fewer games over the next few weeks. 

July is a huge month for us, starting off with the derby with Viking, and then we have games against both champions Rosenborg and challengers Strømsgodset, while we also meet Hungary's Debreceni VSC in Europa League qualifying, with the first leg at our place. 

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Just now, BoxToBox said:

That German kid on a free is ridiculous.

That's what I thought. I only found him as I was tracking a Norwegian U19 international in Hertha's academy, and they were released together on the same day. The Norwegian isn't worthy of an image, one for the academy for a while and see what happens, but Schmitz went straight in the team! 

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A couple of transfer deals to let you know about. Firstly, an immediate arrival - Eirik Mills' form has been concerning over the last few weeks, and with Hallgier Lie out injured until the Autumn and youngster Benjamin Lindstad not being quite ready yet, I decided I needed to act. This lad arrives later this month for for €120,000:

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I've also picked up a couple of players on free transfers for next season.

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Hamar is a magnificent capture I believe, and despite interest from Spain, France and Italy, he decided to stay in his native Norway. I suspect he'll be a hugely important player for us over the next three or four years. 

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Sid meanwhile comes in as a back-up goalkeeper. He may be a Finn but he is homegrown, and he'll replace current number 2 Roope Holopainen who is now showing his age as he approaches his 38th birthday.  

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Europa League 2nd qualifying round

1st Leg: IK Start 3-0 Debreceni VSC
An immense first leg performance puts us within touching distance of the third qualifying round. All the damage was done in the first half, with a double from young midffielder Dan Roger Wildenvey, while Eirik Mills slotted home from close range in between. An excellent start. 

2nd Leg: Debreceni VSC 0-0 IK Start
A complete non-event of a second leg, but I can't complain. A solid clean sheet, and into the next round, where we'll meet FC Vaduz of Switzerland/Liecthenstein, with the first leg in Norway again. 

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July

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Two defeats in two months against Haugesund, the second the first home defeat of my time at the club, but other than that it has been an excellent month. I still don't believe we can win the league and qualify for the Europa League group stage, but we're definitely going to give it a go! 

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