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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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And before we continue on into the summer...a quick glance around Europe.

Musonda's Leeds did the business in England.  Daniel Christensen's Nantes defended their title, edging out the Midget Beast's Monaco on goal difference.  Nicolas Benezet's FC Hollywood won their first Bundesliga title in 15 years.  Ivan Yagan's Sampdoritos kept the good times rolling Italy, winning their 11th straight  Serie A title.  Karl Robinson's Partizan did Partizan things.  Laurent Henkinet's lads have the Brugge like Jagger groove going in Belgium (I'm sorry...I'll show myself out.), winning their 7th title in 8 years.

Partizan also claimed the Europa League (their 1st, thus completing the set after their 2030 Champions League triumph), over Giovanni van Bronkhurst's Atletico.

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This is what happens when you give Zlatan a free hand in the transfer market...and when Drake "helps" by bringing a bottle of absinthe to their meetings.  Mayhem.  It only got worse when I explained to them -- for at least the fourth time -- that they did not get a "cut" of the transfer income.

Bottom line, we've moved a ton of deadwood and cut the wage bill in half (down to $1.5M/week).  A summer well-spent, even if I had to make some promises to Varela, Ramon and Gutierrez about how the coming year will go...

We're off to Denmark for our first competitive match of the year.  Time to "kick the tires," so to speak.

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On the flight to Denmark for the 2nd Leg, Zlatan decided to show the lads a movie, to inspire them to victory. 

"Is for the inspiration, yes?  Like when Tom Hanks played Ping-Pong against China in the Olympics, and then coached that American footballing team with Denzel. Remember the Titanic, The Zlatan thinks it was called.  Very strange.  But, very exciting for the Zlatan in His younger years, before the big game, yes?"

Only later did I discover -- far too late -- that he'd shown them the latest Guardiola hagiography from Amazon -- Pep Guardiola, A Life Erotic.

I don't think anyone was expecting that much full-frontal nudity.  Basically, it was a mixture of "that" scene from Boogie Nights and the volleyball scene from Top Gun, spliced with live-action footage of 'Pep the Bald,' in all of his pomp.

And I do mean all of it. 

That nickname has more than one origin, after all. 

Too much information, I know, I know...

Suffice to say that lads were shaken, but maintained enough focus to finish off the Danes with little worry.

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Edited by ManUtd1

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The lads have unanimously voted that Zlatan is barred from picking the in-flight movies for our trip to Sweden, and all future flights.

Zlatan claims he's found a loophole, because no one said anything about the music in the locker room.  He refuses to accept that the NSync reunion album is out-of-bounds, however.

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I spent almost two weeks to go through on this unlikely thread and I would say, this is more than fabolous!

As a truly hungarian aboriginal I would love to see Monsieur Bleu to lead Hungary, just to spice up his life:) The Zlatan would enjoy the life here too;)

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12 hours ago, Tacchi said:

I spent almost two weeks to go through on this unlikely thread and I would say, this is more than fabolous!

As a truly hungarian aboriginal I would love to see Monsieur Bleu to lead Hungary, just to spice up his life:) The Zlatan would enjoy the life here too;)

Hey! Honestly, comments like this make my day! Thank you for taking the time to post!

One of my biggest disappointments in this save was not getting the Hungarian job early on... Even though it wouldn't have made tons of sense in the narrative, it would have been good fun. I do want to get there...

Frankly, The Zlatan has His own reasons for wanting to get to Hungary, mainly to do with His "ongoing Internet research into...ehhh... Hungarian culture, Boss, that is all."

If that was all, Zlatan, why would we need to turn off the internet content filters at the office, eh?

I'm still buried with work and life, but am now itching to get a session in... Maybe this evening. 

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9 hours ago, ManUtd1 said:

Hey! Honestly, comments like this make my day! Thank you for taking the time to post!

One of my biggest disappointments in this save was not getting the Hungarian job early on... Even though it wouldn't have made tons of sense in the narrative, it would have been good fun. I do want to get there...

Frankly, The Zlatan has His own reasons for wanting to get to Hungary, mainly to do with His "ongoing Internet research into...ehhh... Hungarian culture, Boss, that is all."

If that was all, Zlatan, why would we need to turn off the internet content filters at the office, eh?

I'm still buried with work and life, but am now itching to get a session in... Maybe this evening. 

I know this amount of playing time eats you and requires more from you for the expense of your personal life. So take your time, no pressure on you (except from The Zlatan;)), and just enjoy what you have created here:)

I believe other followers think the same, better to have slowly progress  than no progress;)

spongebob squarepants good luck GIF

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We must have had 99 percent of the game. It was the other three percent that cost us the match.

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Celta Vigo / Belgium -- October 2047

Much to my chagin, The Zlatan Challenge has gone viral.

Why would anyone in their right mind want to drink a bottle of Nyquil, pop 2 Viagra and 4 Tylenol PM, shotgun 3 RedBulls, and then see if you can **** before falling asleep?!  More to the point, why would you livestream it for the world to see?!

I mean, the whole thing started as a prank we were playing on Drake.  He didn't even know we'd spiked his RedBulls...or that we were livestreaming him...and then his humiliation went viral.  I mean...the look on his face when he passed out, semi-*****, **** in hand...  I guess it was funny...

Maybe I just don't understand kids these days.  

But then again, Brendan Rodgers was really into this challenge.  Really into it.  I usually only see that look in someone's eye when Zlatan starts talking about the Game of Thrones reboot.  You know what I'm talking about. 

Yeah, that Brendan...he's a "special" one.  I don't "get" him, either.

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This year's run will be an interesting one against the two giants, let's show them the hungarian derring-do  Mr. János Kék (=Jean Bleu)!

 

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You know, just when I thought Zlatan was finally going to start taking our broader duties here at Celta seriously...

He's been begging to go back out on scouting trips but I've refused for years citing his useless reports from the last time I trusted him.  Perhaps I should have trusted my gut.

This time, all I got was a running commentary via WhatsApp about the players' girlfriends, sisters and mothers.  When the Board asks me why I want to sign some Hungarian kid for $7M, I can't show them Zlatan's scouting report, now can I?  "Twin sisters, DTF.  MILFFFFFF." doesn't tell me much about whether young Levente can make the cut for us as an inverted winger on the left.

But then again...it is only $7M...and Zlatan's scouting report DID include pictures...the kid looks great on YouTube.  There's also the added bonus of Zlatan being out of the house more often, to consider...there's only so many times his ABBA cover band, BAAB, can rehearse before I lose my ****ing mind...

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Edited by ManUtd1

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We must have had 99 percent of the game. It was the other 3 percent that cost us the match.

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Celta Vigo / Belgium -- November 2047

It was inevitable with a side this inexperienced...a slip in form.

Zlatan is demanding free reign at training, and blaming our poor form on Drake, who he claims has been worshipping a false prophet in secret.

"Zlatan.  You keep talking about this 'false prophet.'  Unless he's in a cult, just knock it off, ok?"

"Is cult, Boss.  FatRonaldo is False.  Only The Zlatan and urCristiano have 'Ascended Through The Ring of Immortality.'  FatRonaldo is just Fat, Boss, 2 Rings below Immortality.  Is basically filthy peasant...I mean, he is barely even impervious to bullets!  Can you imagine?!"

"I don't even know where to start.  I don't want to hear any more of it.  Just ... keep that nonsense away from the training ground."

"Does The Zlatan take training today?  No restrictions?"

"Yes, Zlatan.  You're running the finishing session.  But you do not have free reign to do whatever you like -- I still remember what happened last time.  Giving you free reign would be like giving a monkey a handgun...  Which I would never do."

"Never say never, Boss."

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What Zlatan seems to not comprehend is that there's more to management than setting up a formation and style of play, planning training sessions, recruiting and developing players, and standing moodily on the sideline.  I talk to my players.  Ask them questions.  Sing to them on special occasions.  Tell them stories about a salty, old sea captain named Jebediah St. Sebastian and his faithful canine companion, Flint...   Success is in the negative space, Zlatan.  The space between.

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A solid enough draw.  Straightforward.  

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The thing about football – the important thing about football – is that it is not just about football.

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Celta Vigo / Belgium -- December 2047

We've righted the ship.  Some big wins domestically and in Europe, coupled with a little luck, and we're right back in the thick of things.

As we head into the winter break, I've decided to buckle down and scout some players for club and country.  There's much work to be done.

I've given Zlatan and Drake some time off, and they've decided to put it to good use -- taking mushrooms and going to a Renaissance Faire in Norfolk, in costume and character.  They've even got their characters' names and backstories all worked up...I've honestly never seen them so excited about something.

Zlatan?  Naturally, he's styled himself as a chaotic good Paladin named Aegis Dawnbringer who keeps a pet...Bubbles, the chaotic neutral gorilla.  (Yes, he bought a stuffed gorilla to carry around Norfolk...  Because reasons, that's why.  Don't ask silly questions...)

Drake did Drake things...Bork MooseKnuckle, a lawful neutral Druid with an affinity for wood nymphs.

I know, I know.  Don't worry.  I've hired a camera crew to follow them around and livestream the mushroom-fueled insanity, right from here.  Enjoy.

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9 hours ago, Tacchi said:

Even he does not understand how Union Berlin is here

I had the exact same reaction!

They qualified through the DFB-Pokal, but I didn't double-check their Group. 

Fun fact: earlier in the save, Neymar managed Union Berlin. And not in a glorious fashion. 

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Zlatan and Drake have returned from Norfolk.

Still in costume.

In fact, they're refusing to take them off and -- quite frankly -- refusing to even acknowledge the fact that we're away to Sevilla in 2 days' time.  It seems that Zlatan's gorilla has "run off" under suspicious circumstances, and they're plotting a D&D campaign to get him back.

"Aegis must be reunited with His faithful, albeit feckless, companion!"   Drake -- in character as Bork MooseKnuckle, who apparently has a bad goatee and speaks like his mouth is full of potato -- enthusiastically agrees, as they run off to the tree fort in the back yard.

I guess I'm taking training today then, lads?

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Awkward days here at the manse, as we've had a visit from none other than Mario Balotelli.

At first, I thought we were on camera for his reality/singing show -- a cross between Survivor and American Idol, but in Ukraine -- but it turns out that he was there in his official capacity, from the ridiculous cult Zlatan has been dabbling in.

Let's just say that Mario is not one for subtlety.  "You tell theZlatan that if he no show for dinner celebrating birthing day of Dorothy Clutterbuck, that iMario and urCristiano will return.  With the Ceremonial Axe of Love, to welcome His Effervescent Presence into the Last Embrace of Mother."

Now, I know that Drake and Zlatan are downstairs in the basement, in the middle of a massive, 72-hour campaign to secure Bubbles' rescue and return...I don't really want to be the one to interrupt them.  But Mario exudes a certain ominous, unspoken menace...his eyes forever fixed on the middle distance behind me.

I guess I'm taking training again, yeah?

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Any plan for the spring football, how you will subjugate Spain and Europe? I think The Zlatan has something in his brain, very deep, that's why these D&D nights...

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On 05/04/2019 at 08:27, Tacchi said:

Any plan for the spring football, how you will subjugate Spain and Europe? I think The Zlatan has something in his brain, very deep, that's why these D&D nights...

I've been so buried with work, played FM yesterday for the first time in nearly 2 weeks! 

Zlatan definitely has something in his brain...pretty sure...yeah, that's it...

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Edited by ManUtd1

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Squeaky-bum time in Spain...suffice to say I had to explain that saying to Zlatan a few times before he got his mind out of the gutter.

The title was ours to lose...Madrid at home on matchday 37...and we f***ing choked.  Bottled it, big time.

A tactical re-think is in order.  We've been playing the PM Drakens Blod tactics...but, I feel like we need to shake things up somehow...

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Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it without a sense of ironic futility.

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Celta Vigo / Belgium -- 2047/48 Season Review

I'm too distraught to really care.  It was  ours to lose...at home...and we bowed to the pressure.  The thunderc***s from Madrid win their 19th straight La Liga title.  19.

Sure, we had the 2nd best attack in the league...and the 2nd best defense...with a club record points haul.  But it isn't good enough.  It won't ever be good enough, until we knock those lillywhite-w***ers off their f***ing perch.

I kick Zlatan and Drake out of the house, so I can have time to think.  A tactical revamp?  A squad shake-up?  Both?  We're back in the Champions League next year...it's a big ask if we go through too much change.

While they're off crusading in fairytale land with Taylor Twellman for the weekend...I'll be plotting our next steps.  Because on Monday our thoughts must turn to the Belgians and Euro 2048.

Goals for 2047/48: Make a run in the Champions League.  Win La Liga.

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Champions League Review

How's this for a final?  urCristiano's United coming from behind to beat Bayern 2-1 on a 93rd minute goal....

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Challenge Overview

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It took several nights without sleep...but I think I've cracked it.  A tactical tweak, to help us overcome Madrid.  And in good time, too -- as we've got about an hour before we have to leave for our flight to meet up with the Belgians.  As I wander the house looking for Drake and Zlatan, they saunter through the front door, Zlatan carrying a large duffel bag.

"Nice, Zlatan.  You're all packed.  Where's your stuff, Drake...time to roll."

Drake shuffles his feet nervously, not quite meeting my eye.  "Not me, Boss, I can't go."

I look at Zlatan, who just stares back at me, unblinking, before he drops the bag to the ground with a fleshy 'thump.' 

"What's the problem, Drake?"

Something from inside the bag begins to move, a muffled groan unmistakably human.  I look questioningly at Zlatan, but he says nothing.  As the moaning gets louder, he gives the bag a swift kick.  The moaning stops abruptly.

Drake still won't meet my eyes.  "Like I said, Boss. I can't go."

I say nothing.  Eventually, Drake looks in my direction...before quickly looking away.  The unspoken question hangs in the air between us.  Finally, he sighs and unsips the bag slightly.

I take a closer look, only to find a heavily-drugged Taylor Twellman staring at me with glassy eyes, the ball-gag in his mouth confirming that I really don't want to know anything further.

"Well, I guess that answers that..."  I know better than to ask questions at this point.  Drake just chuckles nervously.

"Zlatan, are you staying here or coming to Russia?"

"The Zlatan is coming with you, Boss.  Drake in charge here.  The Zlatan is in charge of ... eh ... misdirection."

Perhaps Zlatan can see the confusion in my eyes.  As Drake begins to drag the duffel bag carrying Taylor to the basement, Zlatan pulls a phone out of his pocket.

"This phone?  Is the Taylor's phone.  He does not need it or his Twitter now.  He needs to learn that one does not steal The Zlatan's Bubbles.  Is time for learning."

I just nod.

"Remember, tell the iMario nothing, if he ask."

"If he Asks about what, Zlatan?"

Zlatan taps the side of his nose with a finger.  "Exactly, Boss."

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So, the tactical tweak I'm going to play with is basically the PM Drakens Blod and Grapefrukt Diarre tactics...but with a libero.  Slightly deeper lines, central defenders (instead of BPDs -- h/t @BoxToBox), slightly narrower.  Same OIs.

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Zlatan has been very busy with Taylor's phone on the plane.  I'm curious, but don't dare ask.  The less I know, the better...

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Edited by ManUtd1

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Big news out of Barcelona, as Messi has returned home after winning Ligue 1 and the Champions League with Monaco.  Madrid will have their work cut out for them this coming year.

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The media are running rampant with stories about Taylor Twellman having gone off the deep end, while on assignment at the Euros -- his only communications with the outside world are via Twitter...and several media outlets have confirmed that the geolocation data shows his phone is active in Russia.  Hopefully no one has noticed that it's specific location keeps tracking with the Belgian team's location...

For now, I'm relatively certain that only Zlatan, Drake and I know the truth.  And Zlatan is having too much fun at Taylor's expense to stop now.  Seriously.

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So, Celta have been taken over by some ***clown businessman, who floated the club on the stock market...for literally zero profit.  The guy clearly has the business sense of a puzzled oyster.

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Image result for european championship trophy

Russia 2048; European Championships Review

Honestly, after the 2nd match in the Group Stage I thought I was going to get canned.  We'd fought back against an England side who were much better than us, but then dropped points against the Czechs.  We pulled it together against Sweden, though, to get through to the 2nd Round in 2nd place...only to draw Italy.  Well, the 2nd Round was an utter mess, with multiple "big" nations going out in extra time or on penalties, and we managed to get through on penalties ourselves...to face the hosts.  We couldn't have asked for a better draw -- we smashed them 5-nil, our best performance of the tournament.  We were rewarded with Romania in the semifinals...and were practically useless until Delorge found a winner in the 92nd minute.  Honestly, neither side deserved to go through after that display.  And we found ourselves in the final...

...to face the Dutch, the side I won the World Cup with 2 years ago.  A side who, on paper, should annihilate us.  But they needed extra time to beat Greece in the other semifinal, so we aren't out of it just yet.  And in the end, we won it all on an own goal from one of my favorite young Dutch/Nantes players, Wayan Wenda.  It may not have been a pretty tournament, but it had everything for the neutrals -- rivalries, big nations going out early, and a final between two rivals.

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Edited by ManUtd1

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I asked Zlatan what the long-term plan is with this Taylor Twellman nonsense.  Zlatan has only promised to let Twellman out of the basement "when he has learned the lesson."  When I ask what lesson...Zlatan does not respond. 

I'm glad we invested in all that soundproofing.

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If  you do not have time to play, I call it life:) I got all my answers, waiting for the season;) Well down on EC!

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17 hours ago, ManUtd1 said:

A squad shake-up?

This one definitely. Cut out the dead weight.

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Edited by Fer Fuchs Ake

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I've been pushing Zlatan to explain how he sees the situation with Taylor Twellman ending.  He can't be locked in a soundproof basement forever, especially since his cell phone (presumably) came back to Spain after the Euros.

"There is nothing to worry about, Boss.  The Zlatan had IT set up a private VHS for the phone, yes?"

"Are you telling me he's locked in the basement, watching movies tapes from the 80s?  What...why...that just sounds overly-complicated.  DVDs or Blu-Rays would be much more convenient...but that's not the point, Zlatan!  This is a kidnapping.  Plain and simple."

"VHS?  Did the Zlatan say...?!  Maybe VPN.  VNN.  The guy with glasses -- Kyle down in tech, he dress like Muppet -- did it.  Very secure, I'm sure."

"You're still tweeting as Taylor, aren't you?!  If this gets out--"

"This Taylor will not get out, Boss.  He is in soundproof box.  Very secure."

"You can't keep him down there forever."

"Not with that attitude.  But the Zlatan has always been more determined than you, Boss.  Is fact. Simples."

"Where does this end?"

"Maybe the Taylor goes to live on a farm in the country?!  You know this saying, yes?"

"Zlatan.  I am telling you three times.  Do not send Taylor to 'live on a farm in the country.'"

"You can tell the Zlatan all you want, Boss.  The Zlatan has it under control."

And there they are -- the seven words that will keep me up at night.

Criminal legal jeopardy aside, life is good.  We smashed Malaga 7-1 in our first competitive match with the libero tactics...  It's only one match, but suffice to say we're pleased with ourselves.

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*The Final Countdown blares from a boombox on Zlatan's shoulder*

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53 minutes ago, ManUtd1 said:

*The Final Countdown blares from a boombox on Zlatan's shoulder*

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You'll have to speak up.  I'm wearing a towel.

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Celta Vigo / Belgium -- October 2048

The libero experiment in Spain is a wild success.  #InvertingTheZlatan is trending worldwide.  The revolution has begun.  Poor Leo still doesn't know what hit him with our last match before the international break, a top-of-the-table clash where we ran away with it in the first 20 minutes.  His tiny tears were delicious.

We haven't implemented the libero with Belgium, but there's no denying that the neutrals are loving every moment right now.

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Edited by ManUtd1

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Hard to say, @Tacchi. Buckle up, though, because it is bound to get weird...

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Call me crazy, but this is one of my favorite regen names in a long while.  He's no Slavomir Horny, but this is a solid effort from RNGeebus.

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3 hours ago, ManUtd1 said:

Call me crazy, but this is one of my favorite regen names in a long while.  He's no Slavomir Horny, but this is a solid effort from RNGeebus.

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Looks like he's been punched in the face a few times as well...

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You'll have to speak up.  I'm wearing a towel.

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Celta Vigo / Belgium -- December 2048

You know what I didn't want -- or need -- in the days leading up to Christmas?  For Angel Correa's Real Madrid to kick us in the ****.  That certainly wasn't on my Christmas list.

Unless, perhaps...Santa thinks we deserve it for being on the naughty list.  Zlatan and Drake having kidnapped Taylor and continuing to hold him hostage in the basement...I'm most definitely an accomplice, here.  I keep asking Zlatan for the endgame, but that just makes him want to binge-watch the Marvel Avengers movies all over again.  How many times do we need to see AntMan do *that*, eh?!  So unhygienic.  

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Speaking of getting kicked in the ****, we drew Divock Origi's Manchester United -- the defending CL champions -- in the knockout round.  Brutal.

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There's a 4:30 in the morning now?

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Celta Vigo / Belgium -- March 2049

United can have all the shots they want from outside the area.  They shall not pass.  180 minutes of football, and the defending champions are eliminated.  Well done, lads.  Even Taylor was celebrating, but he suffered a head injury during a recent escape attempt so we're not sure if he truly understood what was going on, or just started cheering in a misguided attempt to make us trust him...between the two possibilities -- a possible traumatic brain injury and his full-blown capitulation -- Zlatan and Drake aren't willing to take any chances.  And thus our legal jeopardy grows.

Domestically, it is a two-horse race.  Unfortunately, Angel Correa's men have crashed out of the Champions League and can thus focus on La Liga.  We can only hope that our young squad has the legs to see the campaign out without blinking.

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We draw Nordi Mukiele's Monaco.  A big ask, after they annihilated The Midget Beast's Barcelona.

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I think someone spiked the Gatorade in Gijon's dressing room...

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There's a 4:30 in the morning now?

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Celta Vigo / Belgium -- April 2049

I don't want to talk about it.

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S*** results in April, but in general your new tactic is working pretty well! I am just saying:) Next year this squad will be pretty ruthless, hopefully:)

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5 hours ago, Tacchi said:

S*** results in April, but in general your new tactic is working pretty well! I am just saying:) Next year this squad will be pretty ruthless, hopefully:)

Yeah, something had to give at some point -- I'm just frustrated that we blinked again, after dropping the title at the end of last season. 

The silver lining is that we're a ridiculously young squad, with tons of potential. The future is bright.

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Doughnuts?!  I told you I don't like ethnic food.

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Celta Vigo / Belgium -- 2048/49 Season Review

For the second straight year, we've fallen short in La Liga.  Sure, we accumulated 99 points and reached the quarterfinals of the Champions League, losing on away goals to Monaco...but I'm distraught.  99 points, 118 goals scored...only giving up a league-best 26 against.  32 wins.  But it wasn't enough.  We finish 4 points behind those thunderc***s from Madrid, who've won their 20th straight league.  20.

We're a young squad and spent the first part of the season learning to play with a libero...if we can live up to our promise, we'll find our footing.

The danger?  That we'll become a parody of those ****s from Liverpool, always talking about how "next year will be our year," and the like.  59 years removed from their last title in England, and they still would shut the f*** up.

Goals for 2049/50: Make a run in the Champions League.  Win La Liga.

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Champions League Review

It's old-home day in the Champions League final, as Charly Musonda's Leeds edge Almedin Ziljkic's Nantes, 1-nil.  Valencia clearly had all of their eggs in the CL basket this year, with a semifinal appearance supplementing their 10th place finish in La Liga.

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Challenge Overview

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