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Chasing Pep: Beating the thinker at his own game — A Journeyman Career (FM 18) 

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Hello! Welcome (or welcome back) to the second instalment of Chasing Pep, a journeyman style career in which we spread the gospel of Guardiolaism across the globe. 

In this career, we’ll be trying to emulate the infamous style of Pep’s Barcelona team — while mimicking some of the tactical treats from both his Bayern Munich and Manchester City sides.

It’s a Journeyman save, with the goal of winning the Champions League playing as close a style to Pep’s Barca team as possible.

The ultimate challenge is to topple Guardiola’s Hall of Fame 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. 

And we’ll be doing this from the ground up. Our proxy, Francisco Lapello, a wonderful, gregarious, Catalan man, is willing to start wherever. A former professional, Lapello never reached the playing heights of Guardiola, and thus must graft out in the lower divisions before earning his shot with the elite clubs of Europe (or elsewhere!). 

Aside from the sheer HOF points total, there’s plenty of other goals to conquer. We’ll look to fulfill the goals Guardiola set himself upon arriving at Manchester City, taken from Martin Perarnau’s second book on the man “Pep Evolution”:

  •  “Implant a defined playing model” — a pass and move system from the branches of Cruyffism/Guardiolaism
  • “Develop a team spirit” — dynamics, baby!
  • “Establish a clear identity” — play great football, rebuild the academy, play homegrown players
  • “Establish a unique language in the academy” — load up the academy with future star prospects
  •  “Win trophies” — win the top league titles across Europe and win as money European cups as possible. And so in style. 

It should be fun.

Let’s see if we can beat the thinker at his own game.

Meet Francisco and his personal goals:

  • 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
  • Manage in South America — Something I haven’t done since earlier iterations of Football Manager.
  • 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.


League’s loaded:


A bunch of league’s loaded. We will be starting, likely, in smaller divisions this time around. And if something goes wrong at any stop, we may well find ourselves back down there. Though this is a Pep inspired career, it will take a different path than gallivanting across the Champions League’s great and good. 

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.

Let’s get started!


Quick Note: I tried this as a YouTube series this season. It wasn’t as fun. And I couldn’t rip through games as quickly as possible to progress the story or characters. In that regard, I prefer the written word. 


Career Updates:


2017/18 - Barcelona "B" - 12th Liga 123

2018 - Sao Paulo - took over with team 8th - League Champions, Runner-Up Copa Sudamericana


Edited by ollie laaaaaaaad

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From Ross County to Russia and everywhere in between, the job interviews and offers have been flooding in.

After applying for every available vacancy, I’ve taken close to 30 (THIRTY!) job interviews. 

Here were the job openings when I fired up the save:


That’s a bunch. And a bunch of interesting ones, too. 

The early returns on interviews is promising:

Academico de Viseu


Projected to be a mid-table team in the second division of Portuguese football. A chance to learn the trade away from the cameras.

Fortuna Sittard


A decidedly average Dutch side in the second division.

FC Luch-Energiya Vladivostok


A Russian second division outfit predicted to come third from bottom. Not the best offer, but at least it would be a two-year deal. 

Futbolyj SKA-Khabarovsk


A top-tier side! SKA-Khabarovosk, however, are far and away the worst side in the Russian Premier League. The boards expectations during the job interview were to “finish at the bottom of the table”. At least I know I could achieve that. 

FUN FACT: Those two Russian clubs are rivals. 

FC Baltika Kaliningrad


The most interesting job to come out of Russia — the Russian’s are mad or Lapello, apparently. Sure, the wage is terrible, but the side are projected to finish third in the second division. Plus, they have a decent looking squad where they’re paying players actual, real money. (A quick Wiki search shows there’s no Oligarch money behind the club, unfortunately). 

Chamois Niortais FC


Another decidedly average second division club. This time in France. Lovely club colours, though. And a delicious badge. It’s certainly no sleeping giant, but it would be an interesting project. 

FC Barcelona B


Wow! I didn’t see this one coming. What better way to chase Pep than to start where he did? I thought Barca “B” would laugh off my interest. This is a giant club with some of the top young players anywhere in the world. It seems like it would be a great launching pad for anyone’s career. 

Would Barca B be too derivative? Hmmm. I’ll have to think about it. 

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For me it would have to be Barcelona B with La Masia or Viseu and the chance to bring Brazilians into the club. Good Luck with whichever team you choose. 

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Ok, it may not be the big boys, but at least we can tick the city of Barcelona off our list. 

I don’t think I’ve ever managed a “B” team in FM, so this should be an interesting challenge.



The downsides are obvious: You don’t get to pick your own players; guys who play well can get called up to the first team at any time; you have a bunch of kids playing against grown men; you can’t get promoted.

There’s also a good deal of positives: Anything above relegation will be deemed a positive; these are some of the top young players anywhere in world football; relationships can be formed that could come in handy at our next stops; we’re managing Barcelona! 

Club Overview:


Barca B’s level is usually a division down (the one Pep one in his time with the side) and so we’re expetected to be in for a long season battling against relegeation.

No bother. The team has talent, once you remove all the loanees considered clubs cast-offs/investments.

Squad List:


There are some real standouts: Yerry Mina, Sergi Samper, Carles Alena, and Abel Ruiz. Three of those guys could be future first-teamers. Obviously, the squads makeup — smart, technical players — perfectly fits the style and system we’re looking to replicate, which is a nice bonus. 

Abel Ruiz:


Carles Alena:


Sergi Samper:


Feels like he’s been with the team for a thousand years.

Yerry Mina:


A Colombian international. Far too good for the level. Expect the first team to snatch him up once he returns from a long-term injury. 

Oriol Busquets:


Fun Fact: Not Sergio’s brother. I know! I thought that too. Like Sergio, he fits the mould of the Barca number 6 perfectly — the so-called half back in FM parlance. 

Club Staff:


Another Fun Fact: Carles Busquets is Sergio’s father. Not Oriol’s, though. Obviously.

I’m hoping to bring back some of the Barca legends to join the coaching staff. Unfortunately I don’t think B teams gain a bump from being attached to the monster parent clubs. So candidates just evaluate the job as being a ****-poor division two side. That stinks. But it is what it is. 

Mini Estadi:


Where we shall play our home games, in the shadow of the Camp Nou. Many, many Barcelona legends have come through this ground and the La Masia youth setup. Here’s hoping we’re able to bring through a couple more (and hopefully manage them in the first team someday). 

Més que un club

Edited by ollie laaaaaaaad

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FC Barcelona unveiled Franseco Lapello as the clubs new “B” team coach at its training complex today.

Flanked by the Barcelona hierarchy, donned in slim fit, silver suit, Lapello expressed his honor at joining the club and laid out his vision for the side’s second team.

“It is a dream.” He said. “Barcelona is a part of me. I a part of Barca. Now it is just official.”

Lapello will work under the Barcelona youth team brain-trust: Josep Segura, the team’s sporting director; Jose Mari Bakero, head of development; Guillermo Amor, head of recruitment.

“We identified him early on”, Segura said. “We view the B team as a chance for us to take gambles. Much of our player development is done throughout the youth ranks. There, we have our lifers; those embedded in our club and who understand our language. With the second team, we have a chance to find future coaching stars or add new ideas to our ever-evolving philosophy. It’s a win-win.”

For his part, Lapello is a self-confessed follower of Cruyffism.

“I’d say I’m a post-Cruyffist.” He said. “We keep the ball so that they don’t have it and can’t score. If we lose it, we try to win it back as quickly as possible. That’s Cruyff, that’s Pep, that’s Van Gaal, that’s a lot of modern coaching. The key is to not get caught up in tiki-taka; passing for the sake of it. We must distort the lines of defence and be ruthless when we can. Above all else, we must win.”

The 33-year old, ex-journeyman player, said he intended to soak up as much from the club as possible. “I’m here to learn”, he said. “There’s no better place to receive an education in coaching, particularly this style. But hopefully I can impart one or two bits of my own philosophy that help the current playrers and the club as a whole.”

Barca’s head men sat gleaming as Lapello answered each question considerately. They may not see a future first teamer in the current “B” squad, but they might on the sideline.

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Pre-Season Update - 2017

Our first season is here. Pre-season went well. Coaching a “B” is an odd experience, but in a good way. It’s different. You truly feel just like a coach, not a manager. Transfers and promotions are taken out of your hands.

Here’s what the Barca hierarchy did for me:



An odd one. An older, Ukranian, international. The deal doesn’t make a ton of sense to me, but he has experience and could come in handy. 


An interesting prospect. Bags of determination. Versatile. I’m going to re-train him in the false 9 role. 


This is the kind of signing that excites me about this job. Clearly he’s a million miles away right now. But I love the idea of Barca’s extensive scouting department finding gems, with me coaching them from their first day to the first team.


A Barca first-teamer that Ernesto Valverde sent down to me. I think he’ll be used interchangeably with Yerry Mina: One will be made available to me when the other is not needed as injury cover.

I also called up a couple of under-19 players (which I wasn’t sure I could do). The key one was Mateu Morey. We needed more quality and depth at RB/RWB behind Sergi Palencia.


The squad is now inflated and massive, but I can’t get rid of any of the players who’re surplus to requirements. That’s up to the management team, apparently. 


Not really outs, but promotions. Annoying ones at that. Two of our top players were sent up to the big boys. Yerry Mina went first, followed by Sergi Samper. 


I didn’t expect to have Mina, but Samper was pencilled in as a starter. Fortunately, Ernesto sent us a CB back. Busquests will step into the halfback role with Samper moving up — at least until he gets sent back down.



Pre-Season Fixtures:


Some excellent results. The players fit my system, so there’s little need to adapt to what we’re doing. Abel Ruiz has been the star of the show, playing as a false 9, not his natural position. We have a crazy amount of depth. And although our players are young and inconsistent, there’s a crazy amount of talent in the squad. 

Pre-Season Predictions:


We’re predicted to come 14th, though the rest of the press speculation has us pegged as relegation fodder. For me, it’s about figuring out the tactics. I want to play a controlled game, which will be tough with the level of competition in the division. Not being judged too harshly on results, however, (we can’t get promoted, obviously), means we can focus even more on the tactics than having to sell out for wins and points. 



As an added bonus, we were able to add one of Pep’s players from those magnificent Champions League winning sides. Welcome, Victor! 


Hopefully he’ll be happy to follow me on my journey around the continent. 

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1 hour ago, john1 said:

Good luck!

Thanks, man! 


1 hour ago, ToMexico!! said:

For me it would have to be Barcelona B with La Masia or Viseu and the chance to bring Brazilians into the club. Good Luck with whichever team you choose. 

Yeah. Barca B feels like the perfect fit to get started. 

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Interesting concept bud, i'm sure if you get a winning record at barca b a la liga team will come calling.

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Tactical Analysis


For this save, we’ll be trying to perfect three variants of tactics, with game-by-game changes, the way Pep coached at Bayern. 


The peak-Barcelona tactic. It’s about dominating the ball, disrupting the lines of defence, gaining superiority of numbers in the middle of the field, overflowing one side, then taking advantage with quick one-touch passing. You all saw it. It was beautiful. 


Each position and individual player instruction is carefully accounted for.

GK — Sweeper Keeper — Duh. The keepers role is to act as an extra defender; to snuff out counter attacks and long balls, as well as start our play -- distributing the ball to the centre backs or half backs.

CBs — Ball Playing Defenders — The Puyol and Pique roles. Both have to be comfortable in possession. Given this is FM, not real life (sad, I know), they need to be hyper athletic. Any mistakes from either of the CBs or HB can be a disaster if the central pairing don’t have the recovery speed to make up for initial errors. 

DM — Half Back — The Busquets role. The Guardiola role. The infamous Barcelona number 6. This is the guy who builds our attacks, gathering the ball from the centre backs and dictating the tempo. He also serves two other major functions: Romping into the opposition half and recycling possession as and when needed, he must be a constant outlet; a defender against long balls and quick counters. The half back should be able to step up and make tackles on his feet, reading and anticipating counter attacks. 

RWB — Complete Wing Back — The Dani Alves role. A marauding, bombing wing back whose sole focus is to drive up and down that right hand side. The wingback has to be a great athlete and solid on the ball. A ton of our goals should come from the RWB getting space down the right and pulling the ball back.

LWB — Wing Back— The Eric Abidal Role. The left wing is a pre-cursor to the future “inverted wing back”. His job is to come inside and join the play, while also offering width and an outlet as, and when, needed. That role should form a double-pivote at times to help shut down counters. It’s a demanding mental role. 

CM — Deep Lying Playmaker — The Xavi role. The guy who makes the tempo and side tick, along with the halfback. We all know how this works: Xavi roams around, looks to carve open the defence, and keeps the ball at all costs. Unlike the other playmaker, the “Xavi Role” is set to “dribble less” so that the player focuses more on those penetrating passes.


CM — Advanced Playmaker — The Iniesta role. Again, you know how this works. The two playmaker roles serve a similar function, with one pushed slightly further forward. Plus, he’s free to glide forward with the ball. Has there been a more fun sight than Iniesta drifting with the ball, while Messi peeling off his man, and an overload to one flank?


LW/RW — Inside Forwards — The Pedro/Henry/Villa role. Both Inside forwards have the same role in the system. Their jobs are to rarely touch the ball, but when they do, make it count. They keep the width of the team, stretching out the backline so that the players in the middle can gain a superiority of numbers. Ideally, these guys will be converted strikers, so that they’re far more deadly when they’re in position. As you can see, I have them further forward, staying wider, and shooting less often — so that they aren’t shooting from outside the box consistently.


ST — False Nine — The Messi Role. And the key to the entire system. Last year, this was an AM selected as a support striker. The reasoning: The False 9 was poorly implemented. The guy dropped deep, sure. But he failed to rejoin the play and arrive in the box on time. Instead, the Support Striker did a good job of creating that midfield diamond, working the ball on, then sprinting into the box to finish off pullbacks and cutbacks from the wide areas. This year, however, the False 9 serves that function much, much better. So we’ll start off with that as the idea — though we may have to move to “Complete Forward, Support” with some of the individual instructions for a False 9 clicked (namely: Roam from position, and move into channels), as some players just suffer severe brain farts with the False 9 moniker. 


Bayern Style:

This is the Bayern style system: Quicker in position; a striker on the last shoulder, who still moves around; and a triple pivote, using inverted wingbacks as defensive midfielders when we’re in possession. 

This will be used at home against superior sides, as it gives a little more protection.


Quick Transitions:

A system to be used away from home, against better teams. It’s all about getting the ball forward quickly. We still look to keep the ball where appropriate, and dominate the middle of the park, with a lot of the goal output coming from the wider areas. But the ball moves back to front quicker, with an emphasis on getting in-behind opponents with a higher line. 


First Year:

Part of the brilliant part of grabbing this Barca “B” job first is that we have players well suited to the Pinnacle tactic. Obviously. It’s great. As we progress it will be tough to find guys well suited to these roles. There are few great half backs, False 9’s, or Iniesta/Xavi types in world football. At Barca “B”, we don’t have the quality, but we have guys who know the roles. That’s great for figuring out the flaws of the system at a lower level before we move on up. 

Edited by ollie laaaaaaaad

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16 hours ago, MagicHat said:

Interesting concept bud, i'm sure if you get a winning record at barca b a la liga team will come calling.

Thanks, man! Here's hoping.

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August 2017 Update — Barcelona “B”

Coaching a “B” team is turning out to be odd/frustrating/fun. Players move up and down as and when Valverde sees fit. One day, I have the best player in the league in my squad, the next he’s vanished. It’s tough to plan for opponents ahead of game day.

Things have gone well, though:



Abel Ruiz has been the star. He’s not a perfect False 9 fit; far from it. But he’s been a stud, bagging three goals in three games. The system looks fluid and is far further along than I imagined.

We upset Granada with a great win. They’re slated to be the runaway winners of the league — a true La Liga side stuck in the second division. Away from home, we played with the quick transition system. We hit them on the break, and Carles Perez, our inside forward, was clinical.


We got lucky against Gimnastic. They had three (!) clearcut chances and four (!!) half chances. They should have win. But we’ll take it. 

Three wins out of three is a much better start than I could have hoped for.

League Table


Squad List


Ruiz has been our best player. Busquets has excelled at the position of his namesake. He’s dominated games: Running the tempo of things and keeping the ball circulating. This system will live and die on how that guy plays, it’s just not perfectly implemented in FM, so that guy has to be other-wordly good. Busquests has been so far. 

Frustratingly, two of our best players are deemed ineligible because they were registered for the first team in La Liga. Segi Palencia, our starting right back, and Adrian Ortola, our keeper, are unable to play in the league. It stinks. 

Not a bad first month on the job:



Edited by ollie laaaaaaaad

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September 2017 Update — Barcelona “B”

A solid if unspectacular month. Things started well with a good win away at Cordoba, before back-to-back draws away at Sevilla’s “B” team and Sporting Gijon. We’ve been too wide open in defence. Sides haven’t been clinical enough against. But that all came to a head against CD Lugo. They buried everything.



Despite the loss, we’re in a great spot. Amazingly, our first six games unbeaten was a Spanish Second Division record — six games!


Some of the football we’ve played going forward has been beautiful. We’ve dominated the ball, moved it quickly, and created plenty of chances. 

We were spellbindingly good against Cordoba, at times. We completed over 750 passes and moved the ball freely. Still: it took a 96th minute winner, with us down to ten-men, following a 90th minute injury. 


The matchup against Gijon was a great barometer for where we/the tactic are at. 


We excelled in attack. Nahuel Leiva’s goal was everything we want: crisp passes; disrupting the defensive levels; high percentage shot on target:

Yet defensively there are still. The exact issues we knew could hurt us: long balls and quick counters. Whenever we get sloppy in possession, we are wide open to a long ball right down the middle of the field. The halfback steps up, the centre backs split wide, and the opposing centre forward can stroll into acres of space.

Gijon’s goal was a good example. We gave the ball away, cheaply, just over midfield:


The halfback had peeled off the striker. He doesn’t have a strict assignment to mark that guy, but he’s supposed to keep his eyes open for danger. He seemed caught in two minds as to whether to press the guy in front — #22 — or to track the striker.

He made the wrong choice. A long ball from Sergio Alvarez — one of the top, cheap halfbacks you can sign in FM 18, btw (it’s mad the level of talent that Gijon squad has for the second division) — split us apart:


I think I’ll tinker with setting the HB to man-mark single striker formations, if the team doesn’t have a #10 playing in-behind the front-man. 

League Table


Top of the table after eight games. It’s clear that we’re better than the pre-season predictions. Our GD is perhaps more telling, though. We've been good, but we haven't created nearly enough chances yet. 

Squad List


For some reason, Ortola and Palencia are now available. It’s great news and I’m not complaining. 

Other notes:

  • My new personal goal is to finish as the top “B”/Castillo team in the division.
  • Carles Alena, perhaps our most talented player, has been a disappointment. He missed a crucial penalty against Granada and finished that guy with a disastrous 5.9 rating. 
  • We’ve suffered some bad injuries: Vitinho (a rotational CM) is out for 3 months; Nahuel Leiva (starting LW) is out for a month; Abel Ruiz (star man, and false 9) is out for 6 weeks. 
  • We are consistently losing our top players for one-to-two games a month because of international duty. Division two games crossover with u-19 and u-21 games. As we’re a side built up almost exclusively of those players — and great ones at that — we’re hamstrung more than most. 
Edited by ollie laaaaaaaad

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Loved your attempt at this last year (although it was short lived). Quite excited to see how it pans out for you going forward.

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October 2017 Update — Barcelona “B”

An up and down month.



Our first game against Osasuna was classic. We dropped 2–0 down to a pair of laugh-out-loud, buffoonish goals that we should never have conceded. But we turned it around, switching to the quick transition system — with Suarez playing as a false 9:


The rest of the month was up-and-down. We fell to Cultural after taking a 1–0 lead and bossing the game. It took a pair of stunning long-rangers to bring us down.

Ending the month with a draw was disappointing. We were 2–0 up and looked comfortable, before we got sloppy with the ball and gifted Almeria two goals. 

League Table


Still sat in second.

Squad List



  • I’ve started to experiment with man marking against #10’s. It’s been effective so far.
  • David Costas, our best defender, was moved back to the first team. It cost us against Almeria.
  • Leo Suarez was exceptional as the false 9 in Abel Ruiz’s stead. He grabbed six goals in four starts, a great return.
  • The importance of Oriel Busquets is on display every time he’s forced away on international duty. No one comes close to his level of competence on the ball and positional understanding defensively. 
  • I don’t think I’ve ever had board confidence at 100% in competitions. They can’t believe we’re not currently battling relegation:


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November 2017 Update — Barcelona “B”

A disastrous run of games through November: three defeats in four games. 



We were walloped by Huesca and Zaragoza — never really in either game. We should have punished Oviedo once were two in front, but as is becoming all too commonplace, we threw it away. The Valladolid game could have gone either way, but they probably just about edged it. 

League Table


We’ve found our level. We’re probably a mid-table club at best. Our goal difference suggests we’re probably the 14th or 15th best side in the league. We need a good run to turn things around in December.

Squad List



  • Pretty much everyone but Vitinho has returned from injury. 
  • Leo Suarez has trumped Carles Perez as our right sided inside forward. He was too good as the false 9 and too potent a goal threat not to stick in the team.
  • We’ve been conceding a concerning amount of goals from corners. I don’t tinker with set piece instructions at all, but it’s something to look into as it’s really costing us. 

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19 hours ago, LUFCspeni said:

Loved your attempt at this last year (although it was short lived). Quite excited to see how it pans out for you going forward.

Thanks, man! Unfortunately work and life got in the way last year. This time I've planned it out better. So we're here for the long-term. 

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December 2017 Update — Barcelona “B”

A huge, huge bounce-back month. Just three games, with the winter break upon us.



Each game offered something different and showed our qualities. We started with the Cadiz game, in the midst of a winless six-game run. We pulled it off despite going down to ten-men early on. Busquets got a straight red. I opted to go with a strikerless formation, to keep Cadiz’s 4–2–3–1 at bay. I removed the false 9 and brought on a halfback. We muffled their attacks and sliced them open on the break, with the two inside forwards getting bags of chances. Regardless of being down to ten men, we still dominated the ball.


The away game against Alcorcorn was the biggest of our season thus far. They entered the game top of the table. We pulled out a two-nil win. The result was good, the process behind it even more encouraging.

Alcorcorn lined up in a 4–3–1–2, a very narrow shape that put our centre backs and half back in a 3-vs-3 situation. I still liked the stylistic matchup; I liked the width, and we had numbers in the middle of the park. 

But they dominated early on and went 1–0 up. We were overrun inside, and they had too much quality in the 1-on-1 matchups.

I changed things. We went to the Bayern Style system, utilizing inverted wingbacks to compress the field and suffocate their space inside.

For the first 25 minutes, we looked like this:


You can see the wide-open space behind the halfback and split between the central defenders. 

Then the switch:


The wingbacks came into the middle of the field, helping double-up on the creative, playmaking number 10 and providing a pair of through-ball stoppers. 

It transformed the game. We cut off the supply to the strikers and took control of the game. 


A great win on the road. 

We closed the month with a dominant performance at home. 

League Table


Squad List


Leo Suarez remains the star of the show. We have, however, started to get the best out of Carles Alena. He’s finally started to dictate the tempo, and run the show from the middle of the park. His 24 key passes lead the team. And while he hasn’t had a giant goal or assist output, he’s constantly making the play before the play to put us in great positions.

Oh, and he scored this screamer:



  • A tactical tweak: I’ve moved the LWB from “support” to “defend” to add a little cover. He holds his position more and gives us more defensive integrity when we lose the ball around the halfway line. It doesn’t exactly suit Cucerella, our starter, but he hasn’t been great anyway. 
  • There’s been a raft of firings in Liga 123, but I haven’t been approached by any of the sides for a job interview:


  • I have, however, been approached with an interesting opportunity. Parma! A fascinating club, who were forever minnows, but strike the UK conscious as a fallen giant — as their most successful period came as the Italian game exploded in the UK and around the globe.
  • The Barcelona board is pissed I met with Parma. 1*wlqDb64lAsHaAjyajuk7QA.png
  • I’m not sure if I’d take that job (I’m the current favorite post-interview). It would be fun to rebuild Parma into a competitive side, but I’m enjoying the Barca “B” job. The football we are playing is super fun. And I know you couldn’t walk in and recreate that somewhere else overnight.   
  • BTW, the board should probably be more focused on the first team. They're currently 6th in La Liga, approaching the halfway point, 13 points behind the leaders. 


Edited by ollie laaaaaaaad

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January 2018 Update — Barcelona “B”

A frustrating month that should have been much better.



We snatched a pair of defeats from the jaws of victory against Reus and La Hoya Lorca. Both sides struggled to keep up with our passing game. We took the lead in each, couldn’t convert all our chances, then sat and watched as 1–0 leads flipped to 2–1 deficits. Against Reus we had one of the most dominant first halves I’ve seen: Over 70% possession, with excellent movement and some decent chances. 


We just haven’t been clinical enough. 

League Table


We’re sat in 7th. Anything above mid-table should do wonders for our reputation, at least within Spain. I’d guess a bigger Spanish team (perhaps a recently relegated side?) will come calling in the summer.

Squad List



  • The transfer window was interesting. We have little to no control over deals, particularly outs. Unfortunately, that meant that Ernesto Valverde shipped two of our best players out. The first, our Ukrainian grandad, the odd signing who had blossomed into a solid player:


I hope the £800k is worth it.

  • The second player shipped out really pissed me off. One of our most talented midfield players, a youngster, getting game-time, was sent away on loan:


Why? I get he’s 24, but it’s not like he wasn’t getting games here. And it’s not like it was a solid financial deal; the club isn’t getting any kind of money above his wages. Plus, Oviedo play in our division. A dopey decision.

  • Thankfully, Ernesto did us a solid. He bagged talented midfielder/winger/everything-man Alex Berengeur:


Berengeur can play pretty much anywhere, and he’s far too good for this level. He’s younger than our Ukrainian grandfather, too. So all-in-all a good deal. 

  • On an awkward note: The Busquetses (Busquetai?) hate each other. 



Edited by ollie laaaaaaaad

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1 hour ago, ollie laaaaaaaad said:

(SI should definitely include an option to take temporary charge of the A/Senior team)

Yes!! :thup: 

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February 2018 Update — Barcelona “B”

An up-and-down month, but one that got us back on track.



Our team was thrown all over the place due to small injuries to Leo Suarez, Abel Ruiz, Vitinho, and Nahuel Leiva — four of our stars. We struggled to get everyone on the field together. 

League Table


Still: we moved ourselves into a would-be playoff spot. This is where being a “B” team gets frustrating. I can explain away the annoying transfers and promotions. After all, that’s how it works in real life. And it’s kind of refreshing to get those new senses of tensions.

Now that we’re at this point in the season, however, there’s a real sense of pointlessness. I like developing the players and the tactics. Yet given that we can’t compete for the title, there’s little to compete for. We’re not building for anything; there’s no cup competition. So we’re now just playing to impress future employers, which isn’t terrible. 

Squad List


Players continue to move up-and-down between the Senior team as injury cover and to fill in during Copa Del Ray games. Alena. Vitinho. David Costa. New boy: Alex Berenguer. 

New Barca head coach Unai Emery (sorry, Arsenal) has been more willing to call up guys for one game then send them back down. It’s annoying. 

Edited by ollie laaaaaaaad

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Enjoyed the last save you did. Looking forward to this one.

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March 2018 Update — Barcelona “B”

A disappointing month. We played a few bigger name teams, but capped the month off with one of the worst performances of our season. 



Encouragingly, Carles Alena has really found himself within the system; he’s starting to show his true qualities.

We’ve been working on his player traits — something as equally important to this system as individual player instructions. We’ve added killer balls, and we’re working on dictating the tempo. 


League Table


We’ve slipped to 7th with 10 games to go. It seems like it will be a race between ourselves Gijon and Osasuna for those 6-to-7 spots. It would be nice to finish in a playoff spot, even if we can’t compete in them.

Squad List


We continue to fall victims to randomized promotions. Guys will be with us all week, then vanish the day before the game. It makes it hard to use game-specific tweaks. Still: we have a stupid amount of depth, and the squad is fully versed in all three base systems now. I’m excited for this final 10-game sprint. 

Edited by ollie laaaaaaaad

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5 hours ago, cerud said:

Enjoyed the last save you did. Looking forward to this one.

Thanks, Cerud! I'm excited for this save.


12 hours ago, kidthekid said:

loving the save so far.

Thanks, man. I appreciate it!

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April 2018 Update — Barcelona “B”

Back-to-back terrible months. Something has gone wrong with the side. We struggled with injuries and the unavailability of some of our top players (promotions and u-19/u-21 internationals). 



Still: we should be better. The drop-off from our midfield pairing of Alena and Rivera to the next midfielder is staggering. Without those two, we’re in trouble. They keep the ball, rarely, if ever give it a way, and truly set the tempo for the whole side.

Three games (!) stud out as extra disappointing: Away to Almeria; away to Oviedo; home against Zaragoza.

Let’s start at the end. Zaragoza are the second best team in the league. We were outmatched and in the midst of our terrible run. But we had a chance. We fought back from 4–1 down to make it 4–3 against 10-men. Pulling a draw out would have felt like a pair of victories stuck together. Alas, we couldn’t finish the job.

The Almeria game was similar. We fell behind 2–0, before going up 3–2, with two goals in the final ten minutes. But we couldn’t see the thing out. Our centre back pairings have been truly awful since Emery called up our top CB. We conceded a 94th minute equaliser that featured a comedy of errors.


Lastly, there was the Oviedo match. Really an unfair contest. Just look at the number of players, and the quality of those players, who were ruled out of the team for Copa Del Ray reasons. 


Getting a draw with those restrictions is almost admirable. But it still hurts. We should have had that game; we should have stopped the rot. 

League Table 



We’ve slid to 11th with five games to go. Mid-table isn’t awful, but I’m hoping we can turn this thing around and climb back into the top-10.

Squad List

(INSERT PIC Squad List)


Our trouble at the back is the side’s biggest issue. Both wingbacks — Sergi Palencia and Marc Cucurella — have been abysmal. I think it’s time to flip flop their roles: Make Marc the marauding one, and Palencia the more reserved fella. 

Another quick note: Alena has really come into his own in the final two months. His quality above everyone else is clear for all to see. There are players with similar potential, but few as mature or consistent. He makes us tick, and is able to create moments of individual magic. I assume this is his last year with the “B” team.

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Really enjoying this save and your style of play. I can imagine it would be nice to get your own players in and decide more in the future. Are you looking to change team after the season?

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1 hour ago, Goofan said:

Really enjoying this save and your style of play. I can imagine it would be nice to get your own players in and decide more in the future. Are you looking to change team after the season?

Thanks. Yeah, I'm looking forward to getting a "proper" team and building a squad. I've enjoyed the "B" adventure. I've got an odd draw to go manage in Russia, but I'm also looking at the Italian second division. 

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This is brilliant- a great read and loving the layout and tactical analysis

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Job Update

And so, with the season coming to an end, I’ve decided to move on from Barcelona “B”. It’s been a fun season, we’ve built a tactic, had some fun, but it’s time to move on to a “proper” club. A place where we can build a side, develop our own philosophy, and chase some silverware.

There is a week or so left in the season, but the rest of Europe have finished up their seasons (i’ll post an update from across Europe once I’ve finished our own season rundown). 

I’ve been interviewing for jobs, with some pretty cool options: Anji (well, they wanted to interview me, but couldn't afford the compensation), CSKA Moskow, Nurenberg, Rangers, and Crotone.

Surprisingly, I’ve been offered the Rangers job:


It’s an interesting challenge. Building a football identity, and toppling Celtic is a fun idea. There are, however, some concerns: resources and the amount of time I’d be given to implement the main “Pep” style — that needs specific players. 

Edited by ollie laaaaaaaad

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9 minutes ago, ollie laaaaaaaad said:

There are, however, some concerns: resources and the amount of time I’d be given to implement the main “Pep” style — that needs extremely players. 

Don't take it mate.

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May-June 2018 Update — Barcelona “B”

The final month of the season. Finally, mercifully, we put a halt to our 12-game winless streak.



A great way to cap-off this year with the Barca “B” squad: A ninetieth minute winner, at home, to stave off the end of season plunge. 

We just fell apart down the stretch. We lacked fluidity, didn’t score enough, and constantly gave the ball away. I’d like to put it down to some our players being called up to the big leagues, but I think we just got found out a little — and lacked some individual brilliance at this level.

League Table


Still: we have to be happy with a 12th placed finish. Coming into the year, it was anticipated we would be relegation fodder. In truth, we were never looking down; only up at those top-seven spots.

Given the style and quality of play we implemented for much of the year — and the quality of the squad — I’m delighted with that finish. The job interviews we’ve earned seem to suggest other clubs were impressed.

Squad List



  • An interesting one: Our chief of scouting was offered, and took, the Brighton managerial job. Who comes for the Chief scout rather than the manager? I guess they’re hoping Amor can bring some of that talent to the South coast of England. Something tells me it will be tougher to recruit youngsters to Brighton rather than Barcelona.

End of Year Report


Carles Alena rightfully took home the player of the season. I was most disappointed in our fullbacks, neither played up to their potential. Our CB pairing could have been stronger, but we weren’t given the greatest of players — whenever someone solid joined, the first team nabbed them away.

Busquets' goal came in the final month, a 25-yard screamer to tie-up a game:


The board seem delighted with my work. They are a bit pissed that I’ve been taking job interviews, though.


Dynamics pretty good, too. Especially given the poor run of form toward the end of the year. 

Here’s a look at some of our top performers from the year:

Leo Suarez


Played brilliantly whenever he slotted in as the false 9, picking up the position instantly. Whenever he was stuck on the right, though, with Ruiz back from injury, he struggled some. 

Abel Ruiz


Supremely talented, but maddeningly inconsistent. Kind of typical from such a young player. He also had to learn the false 9 position, and he wasn’t great at linking the play between the central four and the wider players.

Carles Alena


The best player in our squad. I’m surprised he wasn’t taken to the first team full-time (his pass completion percentage is surprisingly low). 

Oriol Busquets


Magnificent with the ball. OK without it. Did his job as asked, but was let down by the lack of talent playing behind him.

Nahuel Leiva


Another player who was infuriatingly inconsistent. He had some match winning performances; he had some stinkers. 

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Around The World

Premier League


A title win for Spurs. Jurgen Klopp booted out Liverpool.

Serie A


Juventus win; surprise, surprise. AC Milan failed FFP regulations; surprise, surprise.

Primeira Liga


Russian First Division


I have a hankering, for some reason, to coach in Russia. I kind of wish I’d asked the board to reduce the comp price for Anji. CSKA didn’t offer me the job, though they’re apparently in financial ruin. 



Bayern claim another title, though not so dominant. 

Ligue 1


PSG, duh. I can’t remember the last time I coached in France. I think it would be a good place to build a long-term project. Lille seems like a fun challenge.

Scottish Premier League


Celtic won again, but it was much closer than usual. It’s actually making me consider that Rangers job. Maybe they’re not too far away. With that said, it also shows how quick a firing would come if things don’t go well.



I’d very much enjoy the Ajax job some day. 

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Barcelona “B” head coach, Francisco Lapello, today met with high-ranking Rangers officials as negotiations continue to replace Steven Gerrard.

Gerrard’s ill-fated run with the club formally came to an end last week, after a falling out with the club’s senior management. Gerrard was unhappy with club’s budget and felt promises had been broken, per sources with knowledge of the situation.

Gerrard had lead the club to its highest finish since returning to the top flight, claiming second, two points behind their city rivals. 

Dubbed "the mini Pep", Lapello enjoyed a strong first year with Barcelona’s secondary side, guiding the “B” team to 12th in the Spanish Second Division, despite pre-season predictions that had the team slated as relegation fodder, with the side playing traditional, free-flowing, Barcelona football.

The Catalonian is said to be weighing up his options, and is seeking similar assurances to those which Gerrard had requested, per team sources. 

It’s unknown whether the two sides will strike a deal. Club officials did confirm, however, that discussions will continue in Glasgow this week. 

The club is hoping to wrap-up its managerial search prior to the World Cup. 

Edited by ollie laaaaaaaad

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Had a blast reading the first installment. Definitely going to follow this one.

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Franicsco Lapello, the Barcelona “B” head coach who has been in talks with the club to takeover from Steven Gerrard, has walked away from negotiations, according to the Daily Record

The Daily Record spoke with Lapello upon leaving meetings with club’s top brass.

“It’s a great club”, Lapello said. “Now was just not the right time.”

The Daily Telegraph reports that the Spanish coach failed to receive proper assurances that he would have the budget to compete with Celtic.

Elsewhere, El Mundo Deportivo reports that Lapello is “100% done” with the Barcelona academy side, but that talks with Rangers broke down when chairman Dave King flip-flopped on his future investments into the club, per sources with knowledge of Lapello’s thinking.

The Spaniard remains on the market. The club will now make a move to bring in a domestic hiring, according to the Daily Record’s report. 

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I've stepped down from the Barca "B" job, knowing I won't be here next season. Unfortunately, I didn't get the job I thought I was going to after withdrawing from the Rangers job, but the World Cup should re-open the managerial merry-go-round. If not, it will be a case of waiting for early South American firings! 

Also: I don't have the third Russian league loaded, so the new promoted sides into the second division all have managerial openings. The jobs look like they stink, but it could be a fun challenge. 

Edited by ollie laaaaaaaad

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World Cup Update — Part I


Gareth Southgate: Woof! One point from a group including Tunisia and the USA is about as rough as it gets. He will obviously be out. That should help us look for a new job, though I don’t want to go to England quite yet. 


The Uruguay job coming open should help as well. 

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World Cup Update — Part II


Man, would I love to see that final in real life.

A raft of jobs have come open after the World Cup, which should lead to a decent trickle down effect. I’ve been offered the job at a pair of newly promoted Russian second division sides, but they are truly awful in terms of talent, facilities, and finances. 


Mallorca looks like an interesting one. 

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Wow. I did not expect this. So here we are, rocking up in Brazil, taking the Sao Paolo job, one of the biggest gigs in South America. 


I maybe, maybe made a mistake here. I maybe, maybe told the board I’d win the league. Oops. I got a little carried away in the job interview. The team is predicted to finish the season 7th, so 1st — with the season already underway — is a big ask.


Club Overview:


Sao Paolo is clearly a gigantic club. Legends on top of legends. Trophies on top of trophies. Excellent training facilities. 77,000 thousand fans in the stands. It’s a brilliant chance to build something special, if given time.

The concerns: This first year is already underway; The side hasn’t been great, hence the firing of the previous coach; there’s a lack of funds compared to the top Brazilian sides; Oh, and the transfer window is shut until mid-January. 

It’s going to be tough for us to play the pure Pep style right away.

Squad List:


There is a bunch of talent in the squad. It’s an old squad, one that needs to be recycled immediately, but there’s enough to win with right away. Plus, there’s a fair amount of quality youngsters, who we can develop in our style, or flip for some decent funds. 

Some of the most important players in the squad:

Hilal Soudani


Considered a poacher and the team’s best striker. But I will be looking to develop him as an inside forward — the poacher of our team: Rarely touch the ball until it’s the final third. 

Jonathan Copete


A 30-year old Colombian winger who’s been around the block.


A youngster we could groom for the Halfback role down the line. The older, Jucilei, a fan favorite, is better suited to the position right now, but he’s in the twilight of his career.

Vinicius Araujo


The big offseason signing for the previous manager. He fits our quick transition tactic, yet he’s unlikely to be around long-term. 



Jucilei is the true elder statesman of the squad. His position and attributes fit what we’re looking for, nut his player traits are concerning — will he want to adapt at this age?



One of the hallmarks of Pep’s style is to have smaller squads, utilizing versatile players who can play 3–to-4 positions. Enter: Everton. The guy can play all over the pitch, as a defensive fullback, bombing wingback, winger, number 10, or as one of our inside forwards on the right.

He’s unlikely to be star, but I love what he brings to the team. 

Gonxalo Carneiro


I’m really, really excited to work with Carneiro. Obviously, our goal tactic relies on the brilliance of the false 9 tying everything together. It can take an age to find that guy — the fella with the right attributes and traits. And even when you do, it can take an age to retrain the person to know the position, particularly at lower levels.

Not here. Carneiro is a ready to go false 9 with bags of potential and a clear player traits board with which to work with. 

League Table:


The league table doesn’t look great in terms of our goals. And we know the board is amenable to a quick trigger. 

We sit in 7th, behind the giants of the Brazilian game.

Still: I’m excited by the challenge. It will be tough. It will take time. But I can’t remember the last time I managed a side in South America. It should be fun. 

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Interesting high profile move from the Segunda division. Are the players supportive of you already? 

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2 hours ago, ToMexico!! said:

Interesting high profile move from the Segunda division. Are the players supportive of you already? 

You're right, it's a big leap. The board were clearly swayed by the league guarantee promise. The players seem fine. I thought they'd be a little underwhelmed, but there doesn't appear to be an issue. 

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August 2018 Update — Sao Paulo

Our first month on the job has been almost perfect. Almost.



We squeaked past Atletico Paranaense in our first game, tacking on a pair of extra goals in the final couple of minutes to make the final score more emphatic. 

Hilal Soudani is slated to be our stand-out guy. And, boy, did he not dissapoint with that first performance.

The tactical fluidity of these Brazilian sides is exhilarating for someone who plays the game like myself. Paranaense opened the game up in a deep 3–4–3–: Three central defenders, a pair of defensive midfielders, two flat wide players, two higher winder, and a striker.


They stifled everything. Tempo and space were eliminated. 

Things stayed close until the 60th minute, when they switched to a wide-open system:


That made things much more comfortable for us. We picked them off on the break, with smart, intricate passes ripping through the gulfs in the backline. The space left between the two centre backs and the wingbacks was criminal. 

We capped the month with a pair of brilliant results at home to Gremio and Botafogo. 

Unfortunately, we dropped a stinker in our final game of the month — one that could have seen us go top of the table. Bottom of the table Ceara were brilliant: Expansive, expressive, not at all held in a shell. We weren’t close to our best. Despite a late goal to tie things up, we through the game away in the final minutes.


Clearly we have consistency issues. There’s moments of brilliance, and flashes of clownishness. To me, it’s a blend of tactics and players. We have a solid tactical foundation, but not the perfect players; we have solid players, and not the tactic to take advantage of their skills. 

League Table


I’m delighted with where we’re at. With jumped into the top-three, just a point behind Corinthians, the pre-season favorite. My goal with title races is always to be in touching distance with eight games to go. 

Squad List


(formation spoiler alert!)

Diego Souza is the playmaker who will make this side tick. He has, however, missed most of this first month due to injury. He’s back now and I’m excited to see what he can do. The other star has been Araruna, listed as a DM/CM. I’ve given him more of an advanced role in place of Souza, and he’s been simply fantastic. 


  • Jucilei, the fan favorite and stud organising midfielder, is out injured, for two-to-three months. It stinks, but it’s a position we have depth at.
  • I’ve already started the rebuild behind the scenes. Our staff is excellent, but the playing squad needs re-shaping to fit the new tactical styles. I also just want to bring in some extra cash. I won’t spoil the ins that I’ve agreed to (joining in mid-January), but here are the players we’ve already shipped out:
  • I’m experimenting with an Arrigo Sacchi style system — similar pressure, more overloads in the wide areas — to better fit this squad. We need to get results as we work to bring in the type of profile we need in the most crucial areas: Halfback, wingbacks, playmaker roles. 

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1 hour ago, ollie laaaaaaaad said:

You're right, it's a big leap. The board were clearly swayed by the league guarantee promise. The players seem fine. I thought they'd be a little underwhelmed, but there doesn't appear to be an issue. 

That could come back and bite you on the bum but as long as you are up and around the top I don't think it would matter too much. That was my thinking, an inexperienced(?) manager with a number of reputable players could have upset the squad dynamics. 

However, a great opening month in the job. Strange to see an Algerian player in South America but he's doing the business nevertheless. 

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1 hour ago, ToMexico!! said:

That could come back and bite you on the bum but as long as you are up and around the top I don't think it would matter too much. That was my thinking, an inexperienced(?) manager with a number of reputable players could have upset the squad dynamics. 

However, a great opening month in the job. Strange to see an Algerian player in South America but he's doing the business nevertheless. 

Oh I know it. I never thought they'd offer me the job given I was passed up for lower jobs in Russia!

It is odd, particularly given he's 33-years old -- and he cost a decent chunk of change. Still: I'm happy to have him at the moment. He's been our best player. 

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September 2019 Update — Sao Paulo 

We were in danger of having September slip into a catastrophe. Fortunately, we wrestled it back, finishing with four straight wins.



Back-to-back poor results at home kicked things off. We were terrible throughout the Cruzeiro game; we deserved a win vs. Vitoria.

Away to Mineiro made it clear the new manager bounce was gone. I tried to play the new “Sacchi” tactic: A 4–4–1–1, with lots of fluidity, inter-changing of possession, and non-stop pressure in attack and defence.

It was a disaster. They picked us a part — crating seven half chances.


I made the switch back to the quick transition tactic after we went 2–1 down. 

The switch worked. We should have fun. A Diego Souza stirke in the 88th minute should have seen us win, but our lacklustre defence — and penchant for conceding late, late goal — bit us again. 

League Table


The four-straight wins to close out the month catapulted us up to 1st. There’s a clear top-5, with everyone in the title race.

Our form at the back of the month has convinced me to stick with the quick transition system until we can get our own guys in. It creates chances, and allows us to punish inferior sides. The defensive stuff is a concern, and I’ll work on specific tweaks in the coming weeks.

Squad List


I’ve made changes to our starting fullbacks: Madson on the right side; Tavares starting on the left. They’re both excellent going forward. Defensively, however, they’re less than ideal. 

Soudani has kept up his great form. Araruna has been excellent since he’s slid into the Mezzala role alongside Souza.


  • The European transfer window has shut, which is good news for us. Napoli and Benfica were sniffing around our keeper — Jean. Both offered package that wound up being £2.5 million, with some % of next transfer add ons. I’m willing to let him go once I’ve got the lay of the transfer market, but I’d want double that amount. 
  • I expanded the Scouting Department to scout the World, rather than just the East of South America. 
  • Dynamics wise, not everyone is happy:


  • Diego Sousa is pissed he didn’t get a new contract and now he wants out. He’s one of our best players, but is 33-years-old. I’d be fine moving him on. 
  • I’m re-training one of our top youngsters as a false 9. I’m hoping to create as much versatility within the squad, and keep our transfer money to go after a fresh pair of wingbacks and a halfback. 


  • He fits the role well enough:


  • He may never be a world beater. But if he learns the role, he will give us a solid backup option without having to change our Pep System whenever the first-choice false 9 (which are tough to find) is out. 
  • There are A LOT of games every month in Brazil. The league season wraps up in December, so there's a bunch of league games a week. 
Edited by ollie laaaaaaaad

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