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(FM13) Super Caley go ballistic or they are atrocious: a Scandinavian Shankly story

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Stuff it, I'm taking it. Yes, it's a huge club, but their signing policy will always make things interesting. 

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And so after 540 games, 7 league championships, 9 domestic cups and three continental trophies, it's time to move on...

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Athletic Club
(From wiki)

Athletic Club, also commonly known as Athletic Bilbao, is a professional football club, based in Bilbao, in the Basque Country. They are known as Los Leones (The Lions) because their stadium was built near a church called San Mamés (Saint Mammes). Mammes was an early Christian thrown to the lions by the Romans. Mammes pacified the lions and was later made a saint. 

The club is one of three founding members of the Primera División that have never been relegated from the top division since its inception in 1929, the others being Real Madrid and Barcelona. Athletic have won La Liga on eight occasions, the fourth most in the history of the league. In the table of Copa del Rey titles, Athletic is second only to Barcelona, having won it 24 times (per the team's official records; the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) recognizes 23 victories), but they haven't won either trophy since completing a league & cup double in 1983-84. 

The club is known for its cantera policy of bringing young Basque players through the ranks, as well as recruiting players from other Basque clubs. Athletic's official policy is signing professional players native to or trained in football in the greater Basque Country, which includes Biscay, Gipuzkoa, Álava and Navarre (in Spain); and Labourd, Soule and Lower Navarre (in France). Since 1912, Athletic has played exclusively with players meeting its own criteria to be deemed as Basque, and has been one of the most successful teams in La Liga. This can be seen as a unique case in European football; it has gained Athletic both admirers and critics. The club has been praised for promoting home grown players and club loyalty. The Basque rule does not apply to coaching staff however, with several examples of non-Basque managers both from Spain and abroad having coached the first team. 

Athletic's main rivals are Real Sociedad, against whom it contests the Basque derby, and Real Madrid, due to sporting and political rivalry. At various points in the club's history, further Basque league derbies have been contested against Deportivo Alavés, Eibar and Osasuna. Athletic is one of only four professional clubs in Spain (the others being Osasuna, Real Madrid and Barcelona) that is not a sports corporation; it is owned and operated by its club members. 

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Athletic moved into their new 53,100 capacity San Mamés home in September 2013, which replaced the old San Mamés, which had been the club's home since 1913. 

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The biggest issue upon my arrival seems to be that one of our best defenders is leaving on a free this summer. Hopefully I can change his mind, but he'll be a big loss if not.

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So the first game against Barcelona (led by a front three of Messi, Neymar and Lewandowski) didn't go well, we lost 2-0 but it could have been six or seven. I responded by questioning my assistant's opinion on a few players, most notably 32 year old centre back Mikel San Jose, who is allegedly our best defender. I switched him out for wantaway Aymeric Laporte, who was a monster in our 5-0 second leg demolition of Metalist. Losing both Laporte and Larrazabal would be criminal, but I think Larrazabal's mind is made up. 

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February & March

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It would be fair to say that things have started pretty well in Bilbao. We've been really strong in the league playing a 4-2-3-1, although I'm not convinced I've done too much - I've simply played good players in their best positions. I've also continued to ignore my assistant, especially over our defenders. I'm using our third and fourth best centre backs according to the team report, but unlike 1 & 2, neither have any noticeable weaknesses, so we've been pretty solid back there. 

As for Europe, we'll meet Liverpool in the quarter final of the Europa League, but we have a major shortage of strikers for the tie. Top scorer Iban Arteaga picked up a knock in the second leg against Maritimo, and he's out of action until the end of April at the earliest, and his understudy Fernando Pareda won't play again this season. That means we're relying on a pair of youth teamers, neither of whom is especially ready for first team football. 

I have managed to persuade Laporte to stay next season btw, and he'll be joined by Antoine Griezmann, who is coming in from Atleti for €5.5m to offer back up in the number 10 role. 

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Youth intake 2022

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I'd hoped for a couple of decent prospects when I joined Athletic, but I didn't expect to see "one of the best players of his generation" so early on. Both of these two look outstanding, but Zabala is going to be out of this world. 

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49 minutes ago, Nobby_McDonald said:

Good luck in Bilbao.

Thanks Nobby. Don't believe I've ever taken the Athletic job before, having fun so far. 

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Europa_League_Logo.thumb.jpg.8e6f11ecfe7fbebda4bb1e916ec8ff52.jpg

Europa League Quarter final

1st Leg: Athletic Club 2-1 Liverpool
I had us as second favourites for this tie even with our best players fit, but to win the first leg with both strikers injured was a huge achievement. We were in front after 7 minutes, Alex de la Fuente finishing off a four man move on the left to slot home. It was two after 35 minutes, when Iker Muniain curled home a peach from 30 yards, but the away goal scored in the second half could be crucial.

2nd Leg: Liverpool 0-1 Athletic Club
Or not! A terrific, backs to the wall performance and a goal from Imanol Franco right on half time sees us through to the semi finals. We'll meet PSV, while Sevilla play Spurs in the other. 

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A few days off this while worrying about a really poorly dog. Going to try and get back on ASAP as a distraction, if nothing else. 

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15 hours ago, Nobby_McDonald said:

Great effort beating the red Scousers.

Thanks man. Hugely unexpected with our striker shortage. 

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UEFA Europa League Semi Final

1st leg: PSV 1-1 Athletic Club
Not a great performance in the first leg, so I'm happy to get out of a newly expanded Phillips Stadion with a draw. We fell behind after 6 minutes, conceding a sloppy goal from a corner, and that was how it stayed to half time. I tore into the players at the break, and set them out to play more on the front foot, and on the hour Imanol Franco was fouled inside the area. The winger stepped up himself to smash the penalty home, and that was that. 

2nd leg: Athletic Club 2-0 PSV
Much more convincing, and we're through to the final. Muniain slotted us in front from close range after 20 minutes, then made a second for De la Fuente late in the second half. We'll meet Tottenham in the final next month. 

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April

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A really good month, and with three games to go (Real Madrid (h) Valencia (h) and Espanyol (a)) we're very well placed to secure a European spot for next season. Fortunately, the Cup final is between Real Madrid and Barcelona, so 7th is enough for a Europa League spot. All in all, things are looking pretty good. 

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1 hour ago, Nobby_McDonald said:

Hope the dog is going as well as the Europa League run.

She's on the mend cheers, although we're waiting on a result from a lab before we get too excited. Fingers crossed. 

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2 hours ago, withnail316 said:

She's on the mend cheers, although we're waiting on a result from a lab before we get too excited. Fingers crossed. 

Image result for science lab dog

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May

LL: Athletic Club 2-1 Real Madrid
Not really sure what happened here, but I'll take the win which should just about secure Europa League football next year. Madrid were in front just before the half hour mark, and stayed that way until half time. I set the lads out to be more adventurous in the second half, but we had to wait until the 72nd minute to get level. The goal came from 17 year old Justo Moreno, and 9 minutes we were in front from a long throw, as Moreno slotted in a second. 

LL: Athletic Club 2-0 Valencia 
After the final whistle of this one, we somehow found ourselves in the Champions League places! It only lasted until the evening, when Sevilla had played, but it was nice all the same. Arteaga and De la Fuente got the goals in the first and last minute respectively. 

LL: Espanyol 0-2 Athletic Club
Two more from Arteaga ensure we finish the season with three points, and a direct spot in the Europa League group stage next season. 

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Europa_League_Logo.thumb.jpg.a03bfcec0da238dc11a27ad8d6204caf.jpg

UEFA Europa League Final
Wednesday 22nd May 2022
Athletic Club v Tottenham Hotspur
Allianz Arena, Munich, Germany

Well I didn't see this coming when I took the job back in February, but I can't complain. Spurs have been relatively average since my career began, with the exception of their Champions League win back in 2014, and they've been dreadful so far this season, but here they are in a European final. The good news for us was Iban Arteaga had recovered from his injury in time to take his place on the pitch, and considering he'd scored 10 Europa League goals this season, that was a huge boost for us. The media had us as big favourites, and I fancied our chances. 

We made a flying start, testing Hugo Lloris twice inside the opening 10 minutes, and on 12 we beat the Frenchman. Muniain skipped past three Spurs men on the left, then switched play to Imanol Franco, all on his own on the right 30 yards from goal. He drove into the box and then smashed under the keeper to put us in front. Seven minutes later it was two, as Franco twisted their left back inside out and put a cross on Arteaga's forehead, who bulleted a header into the net. He had the ball in the net again two minutes later for three nil, then immediately got himself sent off for a two footed lunge after 24 minutes, and Spurs had a lifeline. They got back into it 15 minutes from time, but Muniain immediately restored our three goal lead, and the cup was ours. 

Full time: Athletic Club 4-1 Tottenham Hotspur

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This stay at Athletic is going to be unexpectedly short, but I've never managed at a World Cup before...

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It turns out that after four years with Scotland, Malky Mackay was tempted back into club management by Championship West Ham. Crazy on the eve of a World Cup, if you ask me. Still, I won't complain. I must add that I don't see me managing at international level beyond the World Cup, but I couldn't turn it down when it was offered to me. Unfortunately, I have had to resign from Athletic after a little over three months in the job, but still. 

For what it's worth, I fancy our chances of getting out of the group:

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4 hours ago, deltablue said:

Finally time to get past the first round ;)

And to avenge 1990...

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On the march with Johann's army

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Scotland
World Cup 2022

And so after an unexpected twist, I'm back working with Scottish players again. Considering my appointment came in mid-May and I didn't even have a coaching staff on board at that time, I'm unlikely to try anything out of the ordinary for the squad. Fortunately I have several Inverness players I can call upon, and I name five current and three former players from my old club. The squad consists of three goalkeepers, seven defenders, nine midfielders and four strikers. 

I should point out that Scotland are ranked at 19 in the world prior to the tournament, and were as high as 8th two years ago. In 2018, Scotland got through the group stages before being knocked out in the last 16 by Belgium, and in 2016 Scotland were involved in a European Championship quarter final. 

My key man is likely to be a very familiar figure:

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22 goals in 32 international games, and 163 goals for Caley Thistle. At 20!

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Scotland 2022 World Cup (Qatar)
Warm up games

For some reason, the previous manager had decided our two warm up games would be against local club sides rather than an international team. That wouldn't have been my preference, but it was too late for me to change things. As I don't have a lot of time to get the lads into shape for how I want to play, I've stuck with a basic 4-4-2, and the warm ups went pretty well:

FR: Lekhwiya 1-3 Scotland (Watt (2), Parratt

FR: Al-Saliya 0-9 Scotland (Watt (4), Parratt (2), Scott (2) Armstrong

The only slight negative from these two games was an injury to winger Matt Phillips, but he should be available for the opening game against Uruguay. 

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740px-Scottish_Football_Association_svg.thumb.png.fca76018ea384ee7d09ab2819ce7183f.png

Scotland 2022 World Cup
Group stage

Match 1: Scotland 3-2 Urugay
This looks like an insane game of football, but all the action really came in the last 15 minutes. Tony Watt put us in front after quarter of an hour, but a goalkeeping error from captain Brian Jenks allowed them to level on 75 minutes. Two minutes later, sub Murray Wallace powered us in front with a header from a corner, and then Stuart Armstrong capped off a counter attack to make it three. Another defensive slip allowed Uruguay a second, but we held on for the points.

Match 2: Costa Rica 3-3 Scotland
Hugely frustrating, as we threw away a two goal lead and were robbed of a winner by an erroneous flag. Despite falling behind, one for Parratt and two for Watt had us cruising, but some strange goalkeeping and a mix up from a corner cost us. Watt should have had a late winner, but it's just a point.

Match 3: Scotland 5-0 Qatar
It mattered little, however. Thoroughly convincing win against the hosts, and this time Watt did get a hat-trick. Parratt scored another, while Stephen Johnston scored his first Scotland goal. 

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We *could* have met England in the last 16. Instead, it's Ukraine.

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Scotland 2022 World Cup
Last 16

Ukraine 2-3 Scotland
We're plagued by defensive errors, which will no doubt come back and haunt us in future, but we march on. Despite falling behind early on, Tony Watt scored two and Parratt got another to put us 3-1 up by the break. Another defensive slip in the 84th minute meant we had a nervy ending, but we're through.

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Scotland 2022 World Cup
Quarter final

Brazil 4-0 Scotland
And sure enough, we did get caught out by a better side. No complaints. 

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18 minutes ago, Rikulec said:

Still a decent showing. :thup:

Yeah, really pleased with it. Dare say any manager who took Scotland to that stage would become a legendary figure up there.

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And so it was to be Spain who win another World Cup. They've won three of the last four, this time beating Brazil 1-0 in the final. 

t next for me? I think I need time to get my feet under a table after three jobs this season. I may just take the first top flight job that comes my way. It so happens to be this one:

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I've rejected Ajax. I want to go back to a project, a club I can build into a position of strength, rather than just take any old job. I think I have that club:

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Sunderland were relegated from the top flight last season, so my first task will be to get them back up again. 

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Sunderland_logo.thumb.png.d6867364835b729698457276125d15ca.png

Sunderland AFC
(With thanks to Wiki)

Sunderland Association Football Club is an English professional football club based in the city of Sunderland, Tyne and Wear. Sunderland play in the Championship, the second tier of English football following relegation from the top flight in 2022. Since its formation in 1879, the club has won six top-flight (First Division, now the Premier League) titles (1892, 1893, 1895, 1902, 1913 and 1936), a total only bettered by five other clubs, and has finished runners-up five times. The club has won the FA Cup twice (1937 and 1973) and been runners-up twice (1913 and 1992). Sunderland have also been Football League Cup finalists in 1985 and 2019. 

Sunderland play their home games at the near-49,000-capacity all-seater Stadium of Light having moved from Roker Park in 1997. The original ground capacity was 42,000 which was increased following an expansion in 2000. Sunderland have a long-standing rivalry with their neighbouring club Newcastle United, with whom they have contested the Tyne–Wear derby since 1898. 

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The club had their second relegation of the save last season, after five years at the top level. The club has top of the range training and youth facilities, a category 1 youth set-up and over 30,000 season ticket holders. Everything is in place at the club for me to take it forward and turn them into contenders, and that is exactly what I'm going to do. 

 

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Sunderland_logo.thumb.png.6cee14aeaecbbfda08a51f9994a84c6d.png

Sunderland AFC
Understandably following relegation, the place is quite gloomy upon my arrival. The squad looks really quite useful, but there is nothing in the academy or in the reserve ranks that will help us, so I shall have to look to the market to strengthen. However, the best player at the club had requested a transfer before I arrived, and I suspect it may be difficult to change his mind. 805574958_Sunderland_SquadPlayers.thumb.png.f3cd17a122997d3c4e385b5abdec6ef1.png2038312779_JanneHyvrinen_OverviewProfile.thumb.png.1bef22d167be930e54a4c01416cc7e9d.png

 

The Finn has scored more than 90 goals for the club in four seasons, but I can't see him sticking around if offers of £20m or so come in for him. 

 

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22 hours ago, Nobby_McDonald said:

Great effort at the World Cup, and likewise the Jamaicans.

Cheers. Hoping to have an update tonight, too.

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Sunderland AFC
Season preview 2022/23 - The Championship

Media expectation: 5th
Board expectation: promotion

Transfer budget (remaining): £5.5m
Wage budget: £595,000p/w (£60,000p/w under budget)

After a tricky week, I'm just about ready for the new season to get started. Already I quite like the fit of being at Sunderland, it feels like a club I can build at again, which is when I'm at my happiest playing FM. This pre-season has been a bit tricky and we're going into the new campaign with loads of half fit players, largely because the club planned a pre-season training camp to Germany, and most of my new arrivals weren't registered in time to travel. It didn't help that the old manager had set the return to training date just four weeks before the season started, either. Ah well. 

I can't complain in terms of the board's requirements for the season either, this club should definitely be in the top flight, and there's enough money in the bank for me to work with to get back up there. I'd like to see the youth pool deepen in terms of talent, but I can work on that as time goes on. I'd also hope we can get permission to expand our scouting range too, but that will probably take Premier League finances. 

In terms of deals it's been a busy one, and considering I'm just in early August, I suspect there is more to come. So far, we have spent a little over £17m this window, while the club have brought in £32.5m. However, the biggest deal going out of the club was arranged before I arrived,  with Belgian striker Stan Hoste joining Manchester United for £20m. The club had also allowed 8 players to leave on Bosman deals (I hate seeing so many leave for nothing) but since I've been here, three players have left for fees. They are winger Kalle Holmberg (£2m to Cardiff) striker Koel Pohjanpalo (£1.3m to Rangers) and defender Yegor Pivovarov (£6m to Dynamo Kyiv). All were good players, but we have an issue with having too few homegrown players, which I'll need to address over the next few windows. 

The biggest achievement of the window was not a player signing or a fee we brought in. Instead, it was getting star striker Janne Hyvärinen to come off the transfer list. My biggest arrival was my individual record transfer across the whole save, with winger Alan Schwarz coming in from Millwall. He was part of the side who were relegated with us last season, and was available for £10m. A lot of money, but a solid addition. Former Inverness youth graduate Neil Wilson comes in from rivals Middlesbrough for £5m, and French striker Sebastian Haller arrives from Stoke for £900,000. The rest of the deals were loan signing: wingers Vinicius and Vander from Sao Paulo and Chelsea respectively, midfielder Oliver Green from Southampton, Ben McLaughlin from QPR, David Marshall from Cardiff, and two from Inverness. I wasn't convinced by either Marius Sidka or Mamby Samassa in a Champions League side, but both are great at this level. 

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(Worth noting btw that while some of them are 2 star players, that's only because they are good Championship players, while we have a couple of very good Premier League players here too, which will skew their rating.)

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5 hours ago, Deisler26 said:

Great work at the WC! Good luck with Sunderland

Thanks, man. 

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A little more transfer news. Algerian left back Faouzi Gholam was out of contract at the end of the season, and at 31 I didn't fancy giving him a new one. Instead, I offered him out for £4m, so he's off to Levante. That means Mamby Samassa will be first choice, and I have a (2 star) youngster in as back up. We also lost goalkeeper Maruis Sidka to a broken leg, so his loan has been cancelled, and we've signed Frenchman Julien Fabri from Celtic for £1.7m. Finally, Italian defender Alessio Romagnoli was on the list at Lyon for £2.4m, and we got in ahead of Ajax to bring in some top quality for our back four. I now have four very able central defenders.

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On 17/01/2019 at 23:08, withnail316 said:

She's on the mend cheers, although we're waiting on a result from a lab before we get too excited. Fingers crossed. 

Unfortunately the day all dog-owners dread arrived yesterday, so we lost her. Hoping to get some FM in as a distraction later, but depends on how the family are coping.

Being an adult is rubbish sometimes.

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10 hours ago, deltablue said:

Decent World Cup. 

I was chuffed with it, cheers. 

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August

1056593818_Sunderland_FixturesSchedule.thumb.png.5ac1ac3a74f32cbddc0b651170c1ef20.png
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Really chuffed with the start we've made, with the front two immediately getting on the same page in these opening weeks. They've now scored 14 goals between them, and if they can keep that kind of form up, we've got a good chance of being there or there abouts. I was pleased to get through in the cup too, but even more so when the draw was made: Newcastle come to our place. 

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On 25/01/2019 at 15:09, withnail316 said:

Unfortunately the day all dog-owners dread arrived yesterday, so we lost her. Hoping to get some FM in as a distraction later, but depends on how the family are coping.

Being an adult is rubbish sometimes.

Sorry to hear that Withnail. :(

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13 hours ago, Nobby_McDonald said:

Sorry to hear that Withnail. :(

Thanks. Yeah, rough week.

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