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[FM 18] If You're Not First, You're Last (Re-Redux) - Redemption for the "Nearly Men" of Europe

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We've been busy in the transfer market during the Euros, far busier than I anticipated.  It all kicked off when I noticed that Adukor was leaving Sampdoritos on a free...but hadn't signed with anyone yet.  We offered him a massive contract, which would have left me with 3 keepers in the squad and Vivaldy due to arrive from TP Mazembe any day.  Luckily, before Adukor signed, Manchester United decided that they really wanted my starter Rodrigo...so we were all set in goal.  Adukor is better than Rodrigo, and the price was right (even if he's on $25k/week more than Rodrigo was).

While Casado was agitating for a move to Manchester...Leeds made a better offer, so off he went to Yorkshire.  Aygun and Mocinic departed for sunny Spain.

So, as the window has progressed we've managed to shave our wage budget down considerably and decrease the average age of the squad, substantially.  Oh, and we've moved into our new stadium, the Jose Arribas.

Altogether a good way to end the club's centenary season, I'd say.

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2 minutes ago, BoxToBox said:

That's ludicrous money spinning in the keeper department. :lol:

For a world class keeper, no less.  One I'd originally brought to Gladbach, and then signed for the Italians.

Sorry not sorry, Cristiano...

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This is outstanding.  They won promotion from the Segunda B in 2041.

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As good as Kirienko is...this offer is insane.  And I've got youth to promote.  

I may push 31 year-old Corulo out the door, too...he's immense, with United, Sampdoria and Monaco sniffing around...  But if we're going to push youth forward...there are no half-measures.

[Edit: A bit surprised to not have a mutiny after his departure...]

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Edited by ManUtd1

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Did you know that there are 7 teams in Europe which reached the finals in 2 different continental competitons without winning?

Club Brugge (EC 1 & 3)
VfB Stuttgart (EC 2 & 3, but won Intertoto Cup)
Fiorentina (EC 1 & 3, but won EC 2)
Roma (EC 1 & 3, but won Inter-Cities Fairs Cup)
Arsenal (EC 1 & 3, but won EC 2 and Inter-Cities Fairs Cup)
Leeds (EC 1 & 2, but won Inter-Cities Fairs Cup)
Monaco (EC 1 & 2)

Edited by Jorgen

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9 hours ago, Jorgen said:

Did you know that there are 7 teams in Europe which reached the finals in 2 different continental competitons without winning?

Club Brugge (EC 1 & 3)
VfB Stuttgart (EC 2 & 3, but won Intertoto Cup)
Fiorentina (EC 1 & 3, but won EC 2)
Roma (EC 1 & 3, but won Inter-Cities Fairs Cup)
Arsenal (EC 1 & 3, but won EC 2 and Inter-Cities Fairs Cup)
Leeds (EC 1 & 2, but won Inter-Cities Fairs Cup)
Monaco (EC 1 & 2)

Very interesting -- I hadn't looked into that angle!

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On 18/12/2018 at 08:35, Jorgen said:

Monaco and Brugge are the really unlucky ones, winning no continental competitions at all.

We'll have to do something about that, won't we? 

I've been swamped at work, coupled with the usual holiday madness...so haven't really been on the forums, much less had a chance to play.  But tonight...we're getting in a session.

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When Zlatan first barged into the bathroom at 5:30 am..I was annoyed.  But once I got past that and listened to what he had to say...

Ok, let's be honest.  It was madness.  A dream about managing with some angry, bitter Basque with a ridiculous name?  Getting sacked by Torino, before finding glory at Ajax?

We need to take a closer look at Zlatan's "medicine" cabinet.

But...truth be told...he was on to something.  Van der Meulen's talents are not being fully used as an out-and-out defender...but if we dropped him a little deeper when out of possession and gave him license...it just might...oooh...yes.  Indeed. 

Daddy like.

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Less than 4 minutes into the match against Brest, the first time we've deployed Zlatan's tactics...and if anything, he's even more impressed with himself than he already was.  

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The home crowd are now shouting at Zlatan to sit the **** down...this could get ugly.

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Zlatan's shirt is off, and he's challenging the Brest mascot to a fight...the home support are loving it, the away support in ecstasy.

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By the end of the match, Zlatan and the Brest mascot were blind drunk, shuffling awkwardly with Zlatan's left arm around the mascot's shoulders, having stolen a supporter's megaphone, leading the remaining crowd in a rousing, never-ending version of Biz Markie's Just A Friend.  Years from now, will those traveling supporters who were here tell their grandchildren of the night Nantes was born again?  Were those who skipped the short trip to the coast lie to their grandchildren, seeking to bask in our reflected glory?!

I only know one thing for sure.  When I started throwin bass, Zlatan started throwin back mid-range...

OH BABY YOUUUUU....YOU GOT WHAT I NEEEEEEEED...

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Folks, as much as I'm enjoying Nantes...I'm going to take a break from this save, so that I can scratch an itch that I've been wanting to scratch for a long time...

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Whoa, Olivia...hold on.  Have no fear.  You know I'd never leave you. 

This save is not over.  I'm just going to do something else for a bit...a new thread should be up later this evening.

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Posted (edited)
2 minutes ago, Number seven said:

Read through th ewhole thread today. AMazing read, please return to this one soon.

I will, although when is certainly a question.  We have yet to even talk about the Zlatan-fronted ABBA cover band.

Edit: and thanks for the kind words!  :D

Edited by ManUtd1

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10 minutes ago, Number seven said:

BTW, I follow the African thread of yours too... That will keep me occupied until you return to this thread.

Excellent!  I haven't done much narrative there yet, but have some things planned.  I'm enjoying it -- it's a completely different feel for me.

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I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they've always worked for me.

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Nantes / Netherlands -- December 2044

What a difference a weekend bender on absinthe makes...we were so wrapped up in trying to make the libero work...and, to be fair, it was working.  But that we needed something new.  Even playing without traditional strikers was becoming passe.  Boring.  And that's when Drake showed up with 4 bottles of absinthe, several unknown pills, and a case of Red Bull.

It was a party to remember...if only we could remember it.  I'm quite certain that we stopped for a cheeky bowl of pho somewhere along the way, laden with enough sriracha to scour the hull of a boat.  Just the way I like it.  Drake eats his like a little ****, though.  Won't even touch the stuff.

Bottom line?  Somewhere between that sweet, sweet broth crossing my lips and Zlatan screaming about "jets of napalm spewing from The Zlatan's arse and incinerating His blessed taint," the drunken madness turned into pure art.  Somewhere in that darkness, there was a light light.  Somewhere...

Ok.  You can't put a romantic spin on this.  Drake found some incoherent ramblings from some Scottish-Sudanese clown about playing without traditional midfielders...  One drunken boast led to another...and then we decided to eat waffles while binge-watching Olivia Wilde movies.  It was epic.  Maybe you had to be there...

Olivia, though...now there's a woman you don't want to disappoint.  I'm sure she would prefer the ol' 25030, if you know what I mean.

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Yes, yes...we are back on in France.  Africa is on hiatus for now, as I wanted to give the Grapefruit Donkey Waffle tactics a spin with a team who can actually play them.  I will go back to Sudan at some point, but not right now.  Zlatan and these tactics go together like peanut butter and ketchup.

The full tactical breakdown is described here, in my African save.

The inspiration for the strikerless/midfielderless tactic came from @Guimy's brilliant post on implementing such a tactic in FM 19...since I don't have FM 19, I worked on a version for FM 18 and came up with the above tactics.

The base tactic is PM Åsnor Våfflor (using my prior, absurd naming conventions, this is a bastardized translation of "grapefruit donkey waffles" into Swedish).  Granted, this tactic looks absurd, but plays as a 4330 -- spreading wide in possession, compact vertically and horizontally in defense.  I am still tinkering with a very fluid mentality, but have found thus far that fluid works best.  (The original name for the tactic was "PM RKellyParty" because of the fluidity I was hoping to see...but didn't want to risk triggering @oriole01.  In the end, the name was sparked by an offhand comment from @Deisler26.)

The counter tactic is PM Åsna Kärlek ("grapefruit donkey love").  As you can see, I dropped the IWBs back into the defensive strata -- in my test save, we were getting exposed on the flanks, and I didn't want to drop my line deeper or change their respective duties to defensive.  But, once I made that little tweak...the tactic took off, with my United squad annihilating Barcelona at the Camp Nou and beating City 5-4 at the Etihad (we went down 3-nil in the first 23 minutes while under a different version of the tactic, the comeback began immediately upon switching to this one with City's 4th goal coming through a penalty).  Notably, the very fluid mentality works a treat in the counter formation -- I'm sure Mr. Kelly would be pleased.

So...let's do this, shall we?

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Edited by ManUtd1

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1st match with the tactics...and Nantes went to town on 10-man Montpellier.  Definitely a good example of what the tactic looks like in practice, as we were annihilating them even before the red card.  Beautiful stuff. 

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Heatmap and average positions for the starting XI:

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Average positions with the ball, and without:

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Shots and key passes:

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3 hours ago, Rikulec said:

Great to see this. :thup:

:brock:

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The man or woman who is rarely lost, rarely discovers anything new.

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Nantes / Netherlands -- March 2045

Just 12 short months after we were eliminated by Leeds at this stage of the Champions League, we were hosting urCristiano's Sampdoria at the Jose Arribas...  Another massive test, especially when we're deploying relatively new tactics.  Heck, we've even experimented with inverting the anchor man, so that he plays as a libero.  But not for this tie, no.  No, we need to be focused.  The 8-time defending Italian champions are 17 points clear in the Serie A, and looking for blood...and their manager is no exception, the fiery, glistening Portuguese showpony angry at all of the media attention we've received for achieving what he never could -- knocking PSG off of their ****ing perch in France.

In the first leg, we were rampant.  On song.  Wasteful.  If only we'd pressed our advantage and taken the chances afforded to us, the tie could have been over.  But instead we had to head to the Luigi Ferraris, knowing we were in for a fight.  But we rose to the task, defending resolutely and snatching an early lead to negate the Italians' away-goals advantage.  And we held firm, progressing 3-2 on aggregate.

At full time, that snide Portu-geezer refused to shake my hand.  Speaks volumes, doesn't it?  Maybe he was just running late for a new haircut...after all, the racing stripes he's currently sporting don't look so sharp on a 60 year-old.  Zlatan offered to kick his *** in the parking lot, but I demurred.  "There will be enough self-abuse in his lonely, dark flat tonight, Zlatan.  It's better if he feels that shame, instead of anger at you."

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In case anyone is interested, this is the current libero version of the Grapefruit Donkey Waffles tactics.  

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The original libero setup was working a treat, with only one exception.  We were more vulnerable in transition than I'd like to be, to a long/direct ball up the middle -- that quick ball over the head of my libero, into the space between the split CBs...  Yeah, no bueno.  So, I changed the libero to a support duty and dropped the defensive line to "slightly deeper" from "slightly higher."  We'll see how that works.

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A solid start to World Cup qualifying, as the Dutch are clearly in sync with the Donkey Waffles.  We'll be playing the base PM Åsnor Våfflor tactic for now, and have gone 25 matches unbeaten.

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We all have weaknesses. Not everyone has strengths.

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Nantes / Netherlands -- April 2045

Another big European night at the Jose Arribas, another 90 minutes spent grasping at thin air.  We ran Angel Correa's Leicester off the park, but couldn't find a goal.  So many chances, blown.  Not good enough.

In the away leg, we controlled the run of play from the first whistle but found ourselves in a stalemate.  Varela finally broke the tie open in 1st half stoppage time, tapping in at the far post off a cutback.  Zlatan was over the moon, kissing a traveling supporter passionately, and appearing to exchange contact information after their embrace ended.  When Waters was sent off in the 74th for a two-footer, we looked good value to advance despite our profligacy.  

A massive result.  Into the semifinals of the Champions League.  Domestically, however, we find ourselves in a 3-team race, 2 points clear of Monaco and PSG with 5 matches to play.

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After a 4-nil win away to Nancy, we drew 1-1 at home to Monaco.  Meaning that with 3 matches to play, this is what we see in Ligue 1:

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Goal difference is the 1st tiebreaker, head-to-head results is the 2nd.  Since we've taken 4 points off of PSG (3-1 win at home, 1-1 draw away), we hold a slight edge.  

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We all have weaknesses. Not everyone has strengths.

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Nantes / Netherlands -- May 2045

For the 3rd European knockout-round match at the Jose Arribas in a row, we are wasteful in front of goal. But we find an equalizer and a winner through sheer grit.  This is what it takes to be champions.

Unfortunately, the 2nd XI slip on the banana peel that is an away trip to Dijon -- resulting in a 1-1 draw -- while PS-****ing-G survive a nervy test away to Le Harve, winning 1-nil.  Meaning we've ceded the advantage to our bitter rivals.  2 points back, 2 matches to play.  We cannot let the possibility of a spot in the Champions League final distract us.  If we cannot compete on two fronts, we don't deserve the title anyways.

At Old Trafford, we secure an early penalty against the run of play, and Van der Meulen puts it into the top corner.  United level almost immediately...and then take the lead.  Game on.  We right the ship, but Zlatan still pulls out the hairdryer at halftime.  Full blast.  Names called.  Aspersions cast.  Virility questioned.  This is no time for doubt, lads.  Not after all we've accomplished.  But a 50th minute counterattack sees United go up 3-1 on the night.  And my former charge, Azcona, makes it 4 in the 53rd.  We've switched off twice in the match, and it is going to see us out of Europe.  This is where my reliance on untested youth -- having sold off several wily, seasoned veterans -- bites us.  Not that I'll have a change of heart.  But the truth remains -- this side is young.

We must learn from this disappointment.  And right quick.  We face Lille on the weekend.

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