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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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Before the Belgians kick off their WC Qualifiers and head to the Confederations Cup, let's quickly look around Europe...

Musonda's Leeds claimed the Premier League title, continuing their run of dominance in England...their opponents in the CL final, Ziljkic's Nantes, did the same in France -- reclaiming their title from Monaco.  Kostas Tsamouris' RB Leipzig claimed their first Bundesliga title in 23 years.  Ivan Yagan's Sampdoritos won their 13th straight Serie A title.  Henkinet's Club Brugge claimed their 8th straight.  Kevin Strootman's Party-zan won their 26th straight title in Serbia (take that, Madrid!).  Olympiacos claimed the title in Greece, while Jesper Karlsson's Orgryte won yet another Allsvenskan.  Jordan Ayew's Shakhtar won their 9th straight Ukrainian title.

Luuk de Jong's Monkeyboogers won the Europa League.

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A solid calendar year thus far with the Belgians, with the summer fixtures concluding in a Confederations Cup final loss to Brazil on penalties.

I'm not really feeling it on the international scene right now, but we've got a World Cup next year...

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This is my favorite CL draw in ages -- we get to head to Bruges (It's a fairytale town, isn't it?  ... Is the swans still there?) and Porto ... topped off by Pope's O' Rangers.  

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Slow but steady progress...with a substantive update overdue.

The World Cup draw is brilliant, though -- Argentina 2050 is going to be amazing.

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"Do you think they'll remember us at the Itchy Kitty, boss?"

"How could they forget, Zlatan.  The infamous "peanut butter incident" in '31?  That's not the kind of thing you can un-see, brother."

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Remember the time Zlatan ate my goldfish, and you lied and said I never had a goldfish?!  Then why did I have the bowl, Drake?!  Why did I have the bowl?!

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Celta Vigo / Belgium -- December 2049

It's mid-afternoon on Christmas Eve, when I realize that I can no longer hear it -- the noises from the basement.  For a time, I think it is just the 4 pints of Peppermint Schnapps that I've had...but no, the sound really is gone.  And has been, for some weeks now.

The rhythmic thumping.  The moans.  The incessant complaining from Taylor.  (Zlatan allowed him free reign of the basement during the day, only locking him in the soundproof box overnight.)

I confront Zlatan, but he is evasive.  Drake will only say that Taylor is "running free on a farm in the country."  When I remind him that I know that euphemism, they quickly change the subject with furrowed brows and half-glances, while Zlatan refills my pint glass with more Schnapps.

I can only hope that Taylor has gone to a better place.  A happier place. I'm lost in a Schnapps-induced haze when I see a Christmas card from Drake's nephew's cousin's roommate...on their farm in rural County Cork.  Could he...?!  Is that...?!  The picture is blurry, but I'd recognize that mop of unwashed, bleached blonde hair anywhere.  I think rural Ireland will suit TayTay just fine, thank you. Especially after all of the psychological harm he's endured at the hands of my assistants...their hearts were in the right place. What they did, they did out of love...not that the prosecutors would agree, mind you...

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Edited by ManUtd1

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Remember the time Zlatan ate my goldfish, and you lied and said I never had a goldfish?!  Then why did I have the bowl, Drake?!  Why did I have the bowl?!

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Celta Vigo / Belgium -- March 2050

Our return to Belgrade was triumphant.  2-nil on the night, and a welcome embrace from the staff at the Itchy Kitty.  Warm handshakes from familiar faces turning out for the Crno-beli.  No complaints, whatsoever.  Even if they did try to charge extra for the CockPit in the back...as if we didn't put that place on the map.

A wide open 2nd leg back in Spain was good value for money -- something for everyone.  My fingers are crossed for a quarterfinal draw with Madrid...we've got their number, but need to focus domestically as it is a two-horse race yet again, the margins paper thin...

But we draw Julian Nagelsmann's West Ham.  A favorable draw given that they're out of form right now, but not the draw we wanted.

 

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The World Cup kicks off in less than 3 months.  

I feel the way bank robbers must feel before they go out on that last, big job...you know, the one where they all get killed.

That is to say, I'm feeling optimistic...  

Yeah, we watched Heat last night.  Epic stuff.  Got the blood pumping.  I'm basically De Niro, for all intents and purposes.  Zlatan thinks he's Val Kilmer, but that's only because he wants to **** Ashley Judd.  Drake?  He's the Irish Danny Trejo, clearly.

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Edited by ManUtd1

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20 hours ago, ManUtd1 said:

I see a Christmas card from Drake's nephew's cousin's roommate...on their farm in rural County Cork.  Could he...?!  Is that...?!  The picture is blurry, but I'd recognize that mop of unwashed, bleached blonde hair anywhere.  I think rural Ireland will suit TayTay just fine, thank you. Especially after all of the psychological harm he's endured at the hands of my assistants...

They could be inflicting more psychological harm on him depending on where in Cork they're sending him. :lol:

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4 hours ago, Fer Fuchs Ake said:

They could be inflicting more psychological harm on him depending on where in Cork they're sending him. :lol:

I hadn't thought about it that way...

Speaking of psychological harm, my laptop is acting up. The keyboard won't work, the battery is acting funny... But otherwise everything works great.  It's still on warranty so I'm looking into getting it fixed ASAP.  I can play for now, but cannot post screenshots.  So... Yeah. We'll see how this plays out.

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After a disappointing 2-nil reverse in Yorkshire, we needed a massive result at home. Zlatan was stalking the sideline all night, per usual, urging the lads forward with each suggestive thrust of his hips, his three-piece suit lying in tatters all around him, much to the dismay of the fourth official.

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We'll face Nordi Mukiele's Monaco in the final... The man who led Manchester United to 4 straight finals from 2043-46... Losing all 4, including losses to my Leeds and Nantes sides. Can we make it 0 for 5, for ol' Nordi?

(Really need to get my keyboard fixed (see above) so I can take proper screenshots, and avoid these craptastic pics... Ugh.)

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For twenty years, Madrid have dominated Spain. The last two years we've been positioned to dethrone them, but fell short in the final stages. This year, Madrid blinked, losing away to Sevilla and Barcelona on matchdays 36 and 37, handing us the title.

But that's not enough. We've got a Champions League final to play. A chance for immortality.

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Champions League Final, May 2050; Ataturk Stadium

On paper, this was going to be a big ask. Monaco have more experience, more titles to their name, more... Whatever. None of it matters. We play in our counter-attacking setup, looking to contain their attack and hit them in transition... And Mukiele's lads go down hard.

5 finals, 5 losses for Mukiele.  3 of them at my hands.  **** it, Nordy. I'm your hat daddy now. 

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Given the issues with my laptop, I've given Jamie and Gary the evening off and am stuck with subpar screenshots. Never fear, Gar-Bear, Jamie-lad and excessive screenshots will return in due course.

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40 minutes ago, ManUtd1 said:

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2 hours ago, ManUtd1 said:

 

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In all seriousness, well done man. Always a joy to behold you swashbuckling your way to the trophies, though I do wish Gary and Jamie had something to say about it. Excited to see where you end up next!

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

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Celta Vigo / Belgium -- 2049/50 Season Review

It seems like yesterday when we rocked up in Galicia, full of coffee, jelly beans and RedBull. But our task here is complete.  Real Madrid have been taken down a peg, the Champions League is ours, and the donations have been laid for sustained, long-term success.

Our work here is done.  Well, almost done. Zlatan is giving the basement a heavy wipe-down to remove any lingering evidence of Taylor Twellman's...ehhh...residence. He'd better finish quickly, because we're off to Belgium for our final preparations. 

Argentina 2050 is imminent.

Goals for 2050/51: Wait for the "right" club job to open up. Challenge for the World Cup title.

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(Again, I apologize for the lack of quality screenshots. A bare handful of phone pics will have to suffice until my keyboard is working again.)

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Champions League Review

This is documented above.  Celta complete their quest, while Mukiele solidifies his reputation as a specialist in Champions League failure.

0 for 5, Nordi. 0 for 5.

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Challenge Overview

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Edited by ManUtd1

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25 minutes ago, oriole01 said:

 

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In all seriousness, well done man. Always a joy to behold you swashbuckling your way to the trophies, though I do wish Gary and Jamie had something to say about it. Excited to see where you end up next!

No kidding... Posting screenshots is awful right now. After the World Cup, I may take a brief hiatus while the keyboard gets fixed. 

I've got some ideas about where I want to go next, at least...

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This is delicious. City had finished in the bottom half 3 out of the last 4 years, 16th in 2048/49. So, this was coming... 

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Meanwhile, fresh off of his sacking at Barcelona for dragging them into a mid-season relegation scare, the Midget Beast is taking Saint-Etienne into the relegation playoffs against Angers... And losing the first leg at home, 3-1.

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Charly Musonda takes the reins at Celta, leaving Leeds.

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Congrats man!:applause:

 

If it counts, I would love to see you and your band at one of these sides: Panathinaikos, Donetsk, Malmö, Brugge:)

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Man this thread is amazing! Would love it if you did Stade Reims and then Panathinaikos, those together with Malmö must be the big underdogs of the teams you have left now.

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7 hours ago, Tacchi said:

Congrats man!:applause:

 

If it counts, I would love to see you and your band at one of these sides: Panathinaikos, Donetsk, Malmö, Brugge:)

Thanks!  These 4 are definitely right at the top of my list!

5 hours ago, Rikulec said:

:applause:

:brock:

4 hours ago, Number seven said:

Man this thread is amazing! Would love it if you did Stade Reims and then Panathinaikos, those together with Malmö must be the big underdogs of the teams you have left now.

Hey, thanks!  Reims is in Ligue 2 which is very intriguing... Especially since Messi is going to be down there with Saint-Etienne... But at the same time it might be too early to go back to France.

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13 hours ago, oriole01 said:

 

 

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Apply bleach to the burned area.

 

Hats off @ManUtd1! Great stuff as always. 

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11 minutes ago, Benjoe said:

Apply bleach to the burned area.

 

Hats off @ManUtd1! Great stuff as always. 

That's right, hats off to your Hat Daddy...

Thanks, man!

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In light of the issues with my laptop, I've added FM back to my old laptop that the kids have been using (and that I'll need to use for work for now...).

So it's full steam ahead with the World Cup and save, in general.

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Argentina 2050; World Cup Group Stage

A bit wobbly from the Belgians in the Group Stage, before I switched over the old laptop.  A dreary draw with Mexico was followed by wide-open, go-for-broke matches against Australia and Cote d'Ivoire.  Serbia are a solid draw in the Second Round.

The big surprise is England failing to reach the knockout rounds...

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Argentina 2050; World Cup Second Round

We're far from our best against Serbia, but good enough in the one statistic that matters, winning 2-nil.  We'll face Ze Germans next, with a spot in the semifinal on the table...time to see if Louis Grassow's men are up to ze task, yes?  Louis has come far from his days at SV Planegg-Krailling and Unterhaching...dirty, dirty Unterhaching.

(Frankly, the Second Round was a big disappointment with no potentially eligible teams making it through to the quarterfinals.  Booooooo!!!)

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Argentina 2050; World Cup Quarterfinals

Sometimes you need a little luck...

While we were again far from our best, a devastating counterattack from Zaim and Klein (our speed merchants) and late free kick got us into extra time, where Kollner's 2nd yellow in 15 minutes gave us a distinct advantage...and we took it.

We're through to face Memphis Depay's Portugal in the semis...  Ironically, just saying that gave me a semi...

(The match will be played later today due to some family stuff.)

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Argentina 2050; World Cup Semifinals

The biggest test of the tournament.  We passed with flying colors, even after Chelene missed a penalty in the second half.

We will face France in the final...after they beat Spain 2-1 on 2 late goals.

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Argentina 2050; World Cup Final

A big match, but one where we're favored.  And we wear that mantle with pride, taking the match to the French throughout...but ending up giving away a cheap goal late to push the match into extra time.  Tired legs don't hold us back, as we find 2 goals to claim the title.

Mission accomplished.  A Champions League and World Cup double.

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The flight back from Argentina is basically straight out of The Wolf of Wall Street.  But Zlatan, Drake and I calmly sip Malbec in the back, alone with our thoughts.  Knowing that the next steps are familiar...just like 4 years ago, a Champions League and World Cup double leaving us unemployed, by choice.  The top of the world, with everyone wondering...where to next?

I've a few ideas...Zlatan nods sagely as the lads up front make a ruckus.  We've already begun to plan, phone calls have been placed.

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Silly Spaniards.  I wouldn't get out of bed for $150k/week, to manage that lot. 

Unfortunately, the Danes have gone a different route, apparently believing that our direct calls to the FA were a prank.  Zlatan called a press conference to register his disgust...I suspect they will return our calls, next time around.

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Edited by ManUtd1

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Oostende was amazing in the '17 version of this save. 

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That moment when you declare your interest in a job you really want...and the manager gets sacked.

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We are not creatures of destinations. It is the journey that shapes us. Our callused feet, our backs strong from carrying the weight of our travels, our eyes open with the fresh delight of experiences lived.

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Malmö FF -- September 2050

When the club announced to the media that their new manager would be unveiled at a press conference that afternoon, few if any believed the rumors floating around the darkest corners of the internet.  Surely, the managerial trio who just conquered Europe and then the World...again...  Surely they would not be rocking up in Sweden to take the helm at a wayward club, far from the glory and bright lights.  After all, Jean Bleu had failed miserably in his short tenure with the Swedish national team all those years ago...what could possibly tempt him back to these shores?!

And since few believed the rumors could even possibly be true, few showed up at the press conference.  But the lucky few who were there witnessed history.  Bleu, stoic in his determination to bring Malmo back to glory.  Zlatan, shirtless and in tears, unable to speak coherently...overcome with emotion.  Drake, his flinty eyes staring daggers into the local pundits who still think there's a chance that this is all a farce, a joke at their expense.

But it is no joke.  Bleu has arrived.  Malmo will never be the same again.

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I genuinely cannot begin to describe how happy this makes me.  #UpDiBlae

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We'll be playing the same libero tactics employed at Celta (screenshots below).  Once they're fluid, I'll put up a few screenshots showing how they play.

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Sometimes the prize is not worth the costs. The means by which we achieve victory are as important as the victory itself.

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Malmö FF -- 2050 Season Review

The start of what already feels like an incredible journey.  The domestic opposition did not know what to make of our tactical approach, so much so that we nearly snatched the title on the final matchday.  We also managed to squeeze past PAOK and Gronigen to reach the knockout rounds of the Europa League...certainly what we should have expected, even at this stage of our tenure.  The "honeymoon phase" will be over when the lads get back to training in January, though...when the rise and fall of the squad sits solely on our shoulders.

All of that being said, I can already tell that there is an incredible amount of work to do.  We're nowhere near good enough to compete in the Champions League knockout rounds.  The squad is bloated and ... well ... crap.  We've landed Malmgren from Partizan on loan -- a kid I've had my eye on for some time, at Celta...but others have rejected our overtures thus far.  Zlatan keeps begging to make our transfer and loan targets "an offer they can't refuse."  (He and Drake have been watching the Godfather series lately, even the latest installment (Part IV) starring Vince Vaughn.)  It's times like these when I ask myself, what would TayTay do?  That tends to give me clarity.

Goals for 2051: Win the Allsvenskan.  Make a run in the Europa League.

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Challenge Overview

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Given the calendar-year structure in Sweden, the full-blown Champions League update will be featured separately each May/June instead of being included within my season reviews.

This is where things currently sit, though -- with Bordeaux, Leipzig and Standard Liege all reaching the knockout rounds.  Leverkusen and Brugge are also in the mix.

As noted above, we barely squeaked through the Europa League Group Stage on matchday 6 -- but this is a Group we should have qualified from so it is hard to get too excited about it.  Given Sweden's coefficient, even finishing 2nd in the Allsvenskan we're still stuck playing Europa League football in 2051-52.  We need to raise the coefficient and win the Allsvenskan...simple as.

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Sandy Walsh's Roma...far from the toughest draw we could have, but also far from the easiest.  

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8 minutes ago, Tacchi said:

So Zlatan, how you feel yourself to return at home?

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Well done mate!

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(The best part about this gif is Rosamund Pike behind him, with the look of silent/British bemused judgment.)

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