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Turning N. Ireland into a footballing powerhouse

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23 hours ago, Stouters said:

Larne won the league at the first attempt in 2019/20 and runner-up 4 times in 21/22, 23/24, 24/25 26/27, Irish Cup winners in 22/23, League Cup winners in 26/27 with 2 runners-up in 18/19 and 27/28, Co. Antrim Shield winners 23/24 & 25/16 with 4 runners up.

In my save Larne have won the DBP 4 times which explains why they have developed enough of a fan base to sustain professional status. The new stadium they built also is a great help with its capacity of over 9,000 seats. It may be a case of you being too successful :D.

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BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME (WELL AT LEAST THAT'S THE HOPE)

It's taken nearly 17 months but finally the expansion is complete and the stadium is at its new capacity. The expansion isn't a massive amount of seats but has taken the ground capacity up to 54,500 which provides a home venue which is more in keeping with the reputation and size of the club. It also means that the record attendance for a club in N. Ireland by Glentoran will be surpassed.

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Here is a screenshot of the stadium during construction showing both the David Jeffrey stand and Facing Grandstand being rebuilt.

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The view towards the away end during the expansion.

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Confirmation of the completion of the expansion showing that the stadium now lies only 10,500 seats short of its potential capacity. The first game after the expansion sees the club welcome FC Copenhagen for the 4th matchday of the Champions League group stage with Linfield requiring a victory to improve their chances of qualification for the knockout stages after a disappointing first 2 matchdays with two 0-0 draws, one away to Hoffenheim and the other at home to PSG.

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A view of the newly expanded main grandstand. The roof has been replaced and the middle tier has been greatly expanded. A line of corporate boxes has also been incorporated into the stand at the back of the lower and middle tiers which hopefully should generate some good income especially on Champions League nights. The tunnels on the bottom tier are striking given their increased size.

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The view towards the rebuilt David Jeffrey stand showing the new roof more clearly along with the roof mounted floodlights. All the stands are of a similar design with increased slope as you go up the tiers and massive advertising hoardings at the back of the top tier.

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The away end which is filled to the brim with FC Copenhagen supporters donning their away colours.

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A top down view of the new ground showing the new roof. At least it appears that the cheap looking sheet metal has been replaced and all the roof struts have been removed. It's beginning to look like a big stadium and hopefully it will start to provide a more intimidating atmosphere for visiting teams.

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As expected the club broke the record attendance set by Glentoran setting a new benchmark for the country. It wasn't a sell-out but that is likely to occur when Glentoran pay a visit.

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A massive increase in our record gate receipts with nearly a 37% increase on anything we've ever managed to raise before. I can also see this record tumbling should we make progression into the Champions League knockout stages which after the trouncing of FC Copenhagen is looking increasingly likely.

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The first domestic game after the expansion also set a new benchmark for the DBP. It will be interesting to see how much money teams will now be able to generate playing away from home to us in the domestic cups. Hopefully we can get drawn at home frequently and start that money feed.

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Not wanting to rest on our laurels, as soon as the expansion was completed I requested from the board a further expansion which they granted. As I planned earlier I'm hoping to have at least £120M in the balance by the end of the season so that I can get the expansion which takes the stadium up to its potential capacity without increasing the debt any further.

 

Edited by pheelf

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1 hour ago, pheelf said:

In my save Larne have won the DBP 4 times which explains why they have developed enough of a fan base to sustain professional status. The new stadium they built also is a great help with its capacity of over 9,000 seats. It may be a case of you being too successful :D.

Yeah, definitely down to the success. I jumped straight into the Glentoran job rather than wait. I started this a bit late on 1st June, so I thought it would be better if I tried to win as much as possible as quickly as possible. Won the league in the first season and thought we're flying. Ended up finishing 6th in the following year with Larne winning that one. Cliftonville is the only other team to win it and that was an ending that would be hyped to the max. A head to head at Solitude were all we had to do was not lose. Lost 3-2. I have been letting other teams win the Irish Cup in a hope that a few hundred thousand and a spell in Europe would make a difference. Of course, we have been beat fair and square on a couple of occasions too. I can't bring myself to let Linfield win anything...ever. 

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Linfield F.C.

SEASON 2066 / 2067

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Could this be the season where we become the undisputed champions of Europe by overtaking Real Madrid and claiming our 14th win?

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League Table - A comfortable win but was shocking to see Glentoran finish 4th and miss out on Champions League football next season as I feel Coleraine have very little chance of getting to the group stage from the best placed route. Glenavon are definitely on the upswing and it'll be interesting to see how they develop with the benefit of Champions League group stage money. Newington as expected got relegated and will be replaced by Crusaders.

UEFA Champions League - There it is!! We are now the most decorated team in Champions League history although our route to victory wasn't an easy one. Our start to the group stage was rather underwhelming starting with two limp 0-0 draws but we improved with 3 wins on the bounce which qualified us for the knockout stages. The loss against PSG on the final matchday was a little disappointing given that a draw would have been enough to top the group but we had to settle for 2nd in the end. We continued our series of facing Watford every season and just managed to squeeze past them on penalties although the two draws weren't great for our coefficient. We then went on to dismantle Olympique de Marseille at home to book our place in the semi final. 

The games against Nantes were difficult and showed the importance of not conceding away goals which allowed us to get through after drawing both legs. Then came the final against Real Madrid and the chance to make history. We struggled in this game with Real Madrid having a number of early opportunities to take the lead but failing. Once we weathered the first 15 minutes I thought we had overcome the worst as the game began to settle down but then a sucker punch in the 22nd minute to put our history seeking win in jeopardy. Them scoring seemed to make them slightly more conservative which in a way made the game more competitive and allowed us to start to create chances. The time was ticking on and we hadn't equalized and I was beginning to think that it wasn't going to be our day but then in the 82nd minute Jungblut fires a rocket into the net and equalizes. They look shell shocked while we are in the ascendancy. Then comes the moment which changes the game with a reckless tackle from them putting them down to 10 men. The game goes into extra time and all of sudden I'm feeling more confident that we can win it before the lottery of penalties. As I thought we then hit the front with Mayor scoring a cracker just before the half time break in extra time. They can't find a response in the time that remains and we lift our 14th Champions League trophy in a row, an incredible achievement.

FIFA Club World Cup - Credit to Mamelodi Sundowns who gave us a good battle in the semi-final but after overcoming them with a slightly weakened side I knew we would have a great chance against Independiente. Once again a red card from the opposition gave us the break we needed to comfortably dispatch them and become world champions once again.

UEFA Super Cup - I'm beginning to like this tournament!! Another resounding victory this time over the other side of north London.

Domestic Cups - Slim pickings this time to only win the Co. Antrim Shield. I would like to do a lot better in future in the cups now that the stadium has been expanded so that I can draw some lower league opposition at home and give them some good income.

Reserves - The team won the league but missed out on both the cups which is a bit of an underachievement in my view as they have quite a few decent players among the roster.

Under 18s - Runners up in the league and cup winners isn't too bad but they aren't really making any strides in Europe. Looking at the recent youth intakes leads me to believe that this won't be changing any time soon either.

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Squad - I'm satisfied with the depth and quality of the squad and I don't feel that we need to make an major alterations going forward and instead will be focusing on developing what we have and replacing where necessary. Clarke MC broke his leg which was awful but at least he is on the road to recovery. I tried to address the ML issue but for some reason there appears to be a real lack of talented players that can play that position alongside a real lack of attacking left backs but I'll keep looking. It may look a bit odd to see youth goalkeeper Reid in the first team but the other options I have I feel are too good to be a #2 and sitting on the bench so I decided to loan them out to give them first team football and hopefully develop them. There is still a real lack of goals from the strikers and I'm beginning to wonder whether some tactical tinkering might be needed.

Transfers - A massive amount of activity this time which made the club a good profit. Firstly, the outgoing players. Terzic MC wanted to leave to play in the EPL so I decided to cash in. My hand wasn't forced with Aagaard GK but the offer was good and I had sufficient cover so I accepted it. Roganovic DL was another that I didn't have to sell but the issue I highlighted last season with him was bothering me in that he doesn't have good attacking attributes for a fullback so I let him leave. Jirus ML was another good offer that I wanted to take advantage of while Biro-Biro DR was kicking up a stink about wanting to leave so to avoid any headache I moved him on. It's a bit annoying that I'm appearing to systematically strengthen Real Madrid's back line but the money is good and we need it given our wage bill. Fall MC didn't really fit in given he really wants to play in the AMC position so I cut my losses with him. Dia ST was probably the shock of the outgoing transfers but I did hint at it last season that a good enough offer would make me sell him and when RB Leipzig came in with a club record offer, it was done. I feel comfortable with the decision as it has allowed me to develop Adilton ST and Canizares ST who both look world class players in the making.

As for the players which were brought in. Bouvier DC looks a quality central defender with a lot of potential while Michaud DL is exactly the type of attacking full back I was looking for who also has a lot of room to develop. Fumic MC and Rente MC were my attempt to strengthen the central midfield (support) role and they have both impressed during the season which I'm very pleased about. Airam ML was brought in to bolster the ML position and he had some good moments during the season. Zonneveld DR was a pricey replacement for Biro-Biro but had a decent season. Rodrigo GK is a signing for the future so was put out on loan. Sakho DC was another player brought in to improve depth of the central defence while MacLean MR was another put out on loan to develop. Finally, Bergstrom GK was my deadline day signing to replace the outgoing Aagaard and probably was the most important of the whole window given the way he bailed us out with his penalty saves in the Champions League.

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Average Rating: 7.58
I'd replace him if I could but he probably represents the very best I can get for that position. I won't be too critical of him, he did a good job for us during the season and scored some absolute beauties which contributed at some vital points of the season.
 
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Average Rating: 7.56
At last we find a player that I feel can do justice to the full back (attack) role. He is rapid, has great stamina to get up and down the flanks and has the technical ability to actually put in a cross which is an aspect which we were lacking. He is also not lacking in the defensive department either which I feel is important also. He has a bright future ahead of him if he grasps it. I just hope I can hold onto him given the interest being shown in him which I can understand as he is such a rare commodity, a fullback that can attack as well as defend.
 
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Finances - I couldn't get the balance quite as high as I would have liked which resulted in us having to fund the stadium expansion with a £30M loan which puts our monthly repayments towards the debts at £600K. The wage bill has really sky rocketed as a consequence of players constantly asking for wage rises and I think I may have tipped into the territory of it being unsustainable. We are spending over £80M on wages before bonuses and staff wages which means we are probably well in excess of £120M a season just on wages which even when the stadium is fully expanded is still way above what we are going to be able to generate from it over the season.

A period of belt tightening may be required as I would like when it comes time for me to leave the club to have left a sustainable legacy in order to give the club the best chance possible of continuing the success. I feel the club has become too dependent on the prize money we receive from winning the Champions League, if that penalty shootout against Watford had gone against us we could be in big trouble financially. I really hope that the expanded stadium helps to bolster our income significantly.

Facilities - Frustratingly, once the expansion is complete we are still going to be 500 seats short of the potential capacity.

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At least this expansion won't take very long and should be complete before the end of September if everything goes to plan.

Youth Intake - Well, the quality of the intakes has certainly declined. I signed everyone and hopefully once they leave the club after being trained here they can still forge decent careers for themselves lower down the footballing pyramid.

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League Reputation - The nation fell even further down the reputation rankings and lost its 3rd Champions League spot for the season after next which is bitterly disappointing. Especially since it was the best season the N. Irish teams have ever had with both us and Glentoran getting through to the knockout stages of the Champions League. Therefore it makes it all the more crushing that Glentoran after earning all that wonderful prize money will be playing in the Europa League next season but who knows it might be a great opportunity for them to earn a bunch of coefficient points with a good run.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - Some excellent news coming out of Glentoran this season as they begin looking for a site to build a new stadium with a proposed starting capacity of over 42,000. Having two engines for growth would be very helpful in trying to build the nation. Ballyclare Comrades are waiting to be granted planning permission. I'd quite like to see Larne expand their stadium or failing that build a new bigger one as they seem to be filling their ground regularly.
 
Club European Reputation - Nice to see Glentoran appearing back on this list.
 
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Spoiler

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Spoiler

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Edited by pheelf

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On 08/09/2019 at 19:29, Stouters said:

Excellent work once again. Do you plan to take on a 3rd team or even try to get back to Glentoran?

Cheers, Something is in the works in regards to what happens after the next season review so watch this space.

Also, this was the message about the new stadium expansion being completed.

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The newly expanded ground led to this...

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and this...

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Not too bad I feel. All of which means that when it comes to Champions League nights we can raise near £4M if we win the game which is pretty good. Just a shame that the expanded ground looks no different than before the expansion took place which is bit strange. It's also curious that I can't ask the board for an expansion which would add the final 500 seats to take it up to its potential capacity.

Edited by pheelf

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Linfield F.C.

SEASON 2067 / 2068

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I feel that my work is done with regards to building Linfield as a club and there isn't any more that I can do to make improvements until its time for a new ground which is a long way into the future. They have a massive new stadium with a huge fan base and are consistent winners of the Champions League having won it 14 times in a row. Having had all that success we still fall some way short of our goal of turning the N. Irish league into the best in Europe. As a result, I have come to the conclusion that this will be final season with Linfield. I need to move clubs so let us go out with a bang and try and win as much as possible. 

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League Table - A nice enough way to conclude my time at Linfield managing an unbeaten season. Although when you look around the league things aren't looking that great. For the 2nd season in a row Glentoran missed out on the Champions League and in fact didn't even make the Europa League after losing the playoff final to Coleraine which is incredibly damaging. Add to that Cliftonville getting relegated and it's been somewhat of a disastrous season for the other Belfast based clubs. We scored a lot more goals this season than in recent times even though I didn't change the tactic which might be as a result of teams coming to the ground and being intimidated. It must come as a great shock to the system for opposition players who are used to playing in front of maybe a few thousand to all of sudden have to play in front of over 60,000. Professional clubs Ards and Newington will join the DBP next season which retains the fully professional status of the top flight.

UEFA Champions League - A very good campaign to take us to 15 in a row giving the club a two trophy cushion over Real Madrid. For once we actually managed to win the majority of our games and were impeccable at home which is always a great help when trying to progress through the rounds. Real Madrid pushed us all the way in the semi final with us getting through the tie with a ridiculous 12-11 win in the penalty shootout. I very much doubt they will win the title again next year once I've left but at least we went out in style.

FIFA Club World Cup - It was ugly but we got the win in South Africa and that's all that matters.

UEFA Super Cup - I was beginning to like this competition and then we put in a performance like that. Thankfully, it wasn't a predictor for the Champions League final.

Domestic Cups - Won a couple of cups which was good although far more importantly we managed to give Championship sides Donegal Celtic and Limavady United alongside 3rd division sides Coagh United and Banbridge Town a fat payday which has probably set them up for the next few seasons.

Reserves - They won the Intermediate Cup but nothing else.

Under 18s - After such a great group stage in the UEFA Youth League my hopes were raised that they were going to go deep into the tournament only for them to be destroyed after a terrible loss in the 2nd Knockout Round. The only trophy that it looks like I will never win which is a real shame, at least they won the domestic league as consolation.

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Squad - The squad is in fantastic shape and there is absolutely no reason why the level of success can't continue once I've left given the amount of wonderkids and depth that exists. Unfortunately, I know the AI of FM all too well and I will be stunned if this squad doesn't get dismantled within the space of a couple of transfer windows to be replaced with aging high reputation players which will inevitably flop and start the decline.

Transfers - There was a lot of activity and a handsome profit made. All the players that departed wanted to leave and as I wanted to maintain as harmonious a dressing room as possible I relented. The money generated was fantastic and I feel that the replacements while not up to the same standard all look to have great potential which if unlocked could serve the club well for years to come provided they can be held on to.

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Average Rating: 7.65
A very good season from the left midfielder. Just a shame he picked up that nasty injury before the Champions League final. He definitely has a bright future but will need to step it up given the fierce competition that now exists for the left midfield position.
 
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Average Rating: 7.81
He has blossomed exceptionally well with the increased first team football. I just hope that they can hold onto him given his critically important role in the team.
 
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Finances - I wanted to leave a decent amount in the balance and I have definitely achieved that. As a result, there can be no argument made by the next manager that they have to sell players to keep the club financially stable as I'm handing over a rich and sustainable club. If they sell all the best players that will be a choice they are making and if it goes wrong they have nobody to blame but themselves. This season also sees the start of a new kit sponsor deal which raises the yearly income from £850K to £2.5M which is a good increase. The revenue streams are all improving and it'll be interesting to see how many more season tickets get sold given the average season ticket price fell for the first time during my tenure.

Facilities - The youth facilities downgraded so £2.5M had to be spent on bringing those back up to scratch. I think once the first loan is repaid in 2075 they might plunk in the final 500 seats to fill out the stadium. I've done all I can and there is world class facilities across the board for the new manager to use.

Youth Intake - I signed them all but the youth department has been a great disappointment to me. I think I've produced 1 wonderkid during the whole time that I've been here which is a fairly poor showing given all the money that has been pumped in.

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League Reputation - We've stabilized in 8th but look at the league which is on our tail. Cork City have been immense south of the border dragging up the league kicking and screaming. This season was another poor one for the other N. Irish teams which has enabled both Scotland and Portugal to establish a coefficient points gap on N. Ireland. It was looking okay for a while as all the N. Irish teams competing in the group stages had hope of qualifying through up until the final matchday but then it all fell apart. The only team which made it to the knockout stages thanks to a final day win against the 4th seeds in their group was Glentoran in the Europa League but they didn't go any further losing 4-2 on aggregate to Rennes in the 1st Knockout Round.
 
It is this situation which has convinced me that I need to leave as even with us winning the Champions League 15 times in a row we can't generate enough coefficient points to overtake leagues which haven't had a Champions League winner since 2044/45 with SL Benfica. If I can build another club up to compete in Europe that should help.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - Even though there has been a lot of doom and gloom in this season review there was also some promising signs for the future. Ballyclare Comrades got granted planning permission for a new stadium which they are calling the Stuart Morton Stadium which will have a capacity of 4,525 and will be opening in 2070. Better still, Glentoran also got granted planning permission for a new ground which they will be calling the Nedim Heric Arena which will have a capacity of 42,212 and will also be opening in 2070. That's great news as it means that there will be 2 possible away days which lower league teams can earn good money from in the cups and no doubt they will be able to expand the stadium also. They have had to take on a loan to fund it given their finances have deteriorated to just 'Okay' but it's a positive step in the right direction.
 
Club European Reputation - We leave them on top, time well tell on how long they are able to stay there. I can see Glentoran dropping out of the screenshot given they will be able to contribute precisely 0.00 coefficient points next season.
 
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Edited by pheelf

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RETIREMENT

To mark the occasion I thought I'd compose a little poem to the departing manager.

An ode to the best manager the world has ever seen,

Winning trophy after trophy or so it would seem,

Humble were his beginnings at a club that had fallen from grace,

His job to bring success and put Linfield back in their place,

It took a while to gain momentum as a revolution was his aim,

Slowly but surely the wheels started turning with money from Europe allowing the club to gain,

Larne provided competition for dominance at home,

Bruce and his millions would prove a daunting task for some,

But not this manager, no way, no how

Overcoming the odds was his favoured pastime now,

Champions League group stage regulars started to turn the tide,

No longer was drawing Glentoran in Europe seen as an easy ride,

The European elite started to take note but didn't see the threat,

Little did they know something was brewing, something they didn't expect

22 years it took but finally he had the chance to make history,

RB Leipzig were the opponents at the Nou Camp were all that stood in the way of glory,

An epic encounter ensued, full of fight and excitement,

Glentoran emerged victorious and with that something had been ignited,

Another victory followed the next season, Old big ears staying in tow,

Was this the start of an era of dominance, who would know?

The hat trick didn't arrive but the club was still growing off the pitch,

A new stadium in progress, enough money in the bank to be considered rich,

It was important that the stadium was expanded to its maximum size,

30,000 seats or so should have sufficed,

The Glentoran fans knew that the manager wouldn't be at the club forever,

They were however delighted with how he had changed the club for the better,

Little did they know the betrayal that would follow,

Swapping the Glens for the Blues left them feeling nothing but sorrow,

How could he do this after all that he had built?,

Did he have no decency, did he have no guilt?,

It's fair to say the reception from the Linfield fans was cold,

"We don't want Glentoran's cast-offs" or so the manager was told,

The only way to get them on board was to be successful as difficult as that appeared to be,

Linfield were after all flagging badly that was clear for all to see,

It started really well finishing runners up in the league,

It was tough going after that though until the money from Europe started to allow the club to breathe,

Then after 8 years something miraculous happened which turned the footballing world on its head,

Linfield, Europa League Champions, I couldn't believe what I'd read,

That win seemed to inspire the team to achieve something that nobody dreamed was possible,

Winning 15 Champions League trophies in a row, domestic dominance no trouble,

A truly remarkable achievement from a truly incredible man,

But all good things must come to an end regardless of how much you plan,

A legacy that will never die,

A new massive stadium named after him that will be the envy of all the managers to come that will ever try,

So we look into the future of N. Irish football without him,

The inspirational figure that transformed the game at a whim,

But there is something dark to this story,

Something horrible, something grim,

He may have been the greatest manager but as a father he was poor,

No time for his son Frank, always going out the door,

That didn't stop Frank admiring him and looking to impress,

So when he turned 15 he tried out for Glentoran thinking my dads the gaffer there is no way I can't progress,

Little did he know his dads ruthless streak,

He thought his chances were good when actually they were bleak,

"There's the door, you've got no chance here",

Were the words ringing in Frank's ears as his football career chances began to look austere,

Discouraged and broken, he fell into despair,

"Never will I kick a ball again" as he wiped away a tear,

As the years progressed Frank was true to his words and never played another game,

Therefore it was greatly frustrating that his passion for football remained the same,

Then his father told him that he was retiring,

Which in a strange way he found rather inspiring,

He knew he could never eclipse his father given all that he has achieved,

But if he could just be a good manager then he would prove to his dad that when he said he wanted a career in football that he should have been believed,

With that he resolved himself to look for a club to manage.

 

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There are a number of possible job opportunities of interest in N. Ireland which I think would be realistic for the newly created manager to apply for. Among them are Championship side Malachians and PIL sides Newry City, Coagh United, Carrick Rangers, newly relegated Queen's University or Loughgall. Given the choices available I decided to apply for only one of the jobs which I think I have the best chance of turning into a big club. 

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It took them until the 20th July which was long after the other vacancies had been filled but finally I was offered a deal to become manager. I had to agree to 3 philosophies which the board were fond of. They are to:

1) Sign young players for the first team - This is perfect as it fits nicely with how I like to build a squad.

2) Make the most of set pieces - I see no reason why I can't get a few goals from set pieces.

3) Sign high profile players - This is the one which I'm least sure about as I can't see how I can manage to do that given the budget and financial restrictions the club must operate within, hopefully, if I don't manage to achieve it the board wont be too harsh.

They also wanted the team to play attacking football but I didn't want to restrict myself to that extent and in the end it wasn't necessary to land the job. As my previous two clubs were in Belfast I decided to move south near the border and try to build up a team which participates in the Mid Ulster Cup.

History

They have a very interesting history in the N. Irish game although it has been filled with many ups and downs. One of the major ups for the club was the participation in European competition for the first time in the 1999 Intertoto Cup where they managed to win through a round against Croatian opposition before losing to German side Duisburg in the 2nd Round. They also have an impressive record of having remained in the top flight of N. Irish football between 1998 and 2011. They have been very successful in the Mid- Ulster Cup also having won the competition on 14 occasions with the latest being a triumph in the 2011-12 season.

That relegation in the 2010-11 season however seemed to provide the catalyst which marked the beginning of the end for the club especially when the season after they failed to secure promotion back up into the top flight after a narrow loss on aggregate to Lisburn Distillery in the relegation playoff. Then the unthinkable happened with the club being dissolved at the start of the 2012-13 season, with their license revoked their only hope was to start once again from the non-league as a new club and attempt to get promoted back up into the senior leagues.

In that endeavor, they have been remarkably successful donning the third name in their existence of Newry City A.F.C. having previously been known as Newry City F.C. before dissolution and Newry Town before then. After a series of impressive promotions they found themselves promoted into the DBP for the start of the save and the 2018-19 season. Since the save began however they have been struggling and have only appeared in the top flight for four seasons with the majority of their seasons being spent in the 3rd division. They have managed to lift the Mid Ulster Cup in 2030 and the Intermediate Cup in 2032 but outside of that they have had a torrid time in the domestic cups and haven't made a single appearance in the Irish Cup or League Cup finals.

Trophies Won

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Club

Not an awful lot to see here to be fair. It's nice to see the squad has a professional personality and that we at least have one rival in Armagh City. The media don't rate us all that highly and expect us to be in for a battle against relegation. That is slightly disappointing given that my board expect the club to finish in mid table so there is a lot of work to be done it would appear.

Facilities

This was the main reason why I wanted to join Newry City. The stadium is the largest outside of the DBP (except Solitude) and should provide a good springboard for growth if we can work our way into the DBP. It is also good to see the junior coaching and youth recruitment are decent for the level so I'm hoping that produces some good youngsters for us although the board don't particularly like the idea of promoting youth players. 

First Team Squad

On the plus side, there does appear to be some players which are good for the level such as McIlwaine ST, Heaney MC & O'Neill MC. It's also good to see a young team with a lot of untapped potential as that should ensure that we improve over the season when those players get first team football. I was also pleased that I managed to cancel a transfer for McIlwaine which would have seen him move for free to division rivals Queens University.

On the negative side, there is no player that can play in wide midfield which is a big problem as I still want to rock the old 4-4-2. There is also a distinct lack of depth in the central defence and wide positions with an overabundance of strikers most of which are only good enough to play in non-league. The lack of balance probably goes a long way to explaining why they have been in this league for over a decade and have never come close to getting promoted. It will be imperative that I add to the squad and restore the balance.

Reserve Team Squad

There is certainly a pair of very talented young wide midfielders in the team but they are backup options at best. Another issue is that they don't play in a league so I won't be able to depend on the reserves to get first team players match fit.

Under 18s Squad

Not bad, there does appear to be a few players in there which could certainly make the step up to the first team with Neill ML probably looking the most ready for first team football. Once again though I might have trouble giving these players game time given that the youth team doesn't play in a league.

Finances

I'm pleasantly surprised with the money we have in the bank and the fact we have some room left in the wage budget. It's going to be a struggle but I'll be trying my best to make progress in the cup competitions in the hope I get a dream draw away to the likes of either Linfield or Glentoran. That would make our task of rising through the leagues that much easier.

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Career Objectives

It's quite simple, get to the DBP as soon as possible even if it means having to play as a part-time team in an otherwise fully professional league. Ultimately, the aim is to become a force in Europe and help with the coefficient but we have a long way to go before we can do that. If I can get them to the DBP with 5 years I think that'll be a job well done.

Edited by pheelf

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Love the poem. I don't think I've seen anyone do that on an update thread. I would have thought you would go for the next best option to Linfield and Glentoran to maintain the co-efficient. Why so low?

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On 13/09/2019 at 10:53, Stouters said:

Love the poem. I don't think I've seen anyone do that on an update thread. I would have thought you would go for the next best option to Linfield and Glentoran to maintain the co-efficient. Why so low?

Thanks, I wanted to try something a little different and to add a bit of a narrative to the career.

I would have liked to join a bigger club but the options I listed were the only ones available and since I can only take over teams which don't already have managers I was restricted. Given the choices, I felt Newry City had the best ability to grow so opted for them. The co-efficient is taking a hammering as it is anyway as the gap between N. Ireland and both Scotland and Portugal has just been increasing even with Linfield winning the Champions League year after year.

The only way to make further progress is to have more N. Irish teams become competitive in Europe so ultimately that will be the end goal with Newry City. I am however not opposed to moving clubs but I feel I will need to build Frank's reputation a bit first before I would get a look in for a top job. 

All the best

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Newry City A.F.C.

SEASON 2068 / 2069

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The board would like the club to finish in mid table but I have far loftier ambitions in mind. The longer we stay in the 3rd division the harder it's going to be to get promoted so I would like to at least be in the picture for a playoff spot which means finishing 2nd. Some decent cup runs would also be greatly appreciated, especially if we can get drawn away to Linfield or Glentoran.

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League Table - If I could use a word to describe this season it would probably be inconsistent. There were times during the season where we led the table and at one point had established a 5 point lead which made automatic promotion look possible but then some terrible form where we couldn't buy a win saw us drop to 3rd. We only managed to finish 2nd thanks to a last day win which allowed us to secure a place in the playoffs.

Championship / Premier Intermediate League Playoff - I was expecting a tough pair of games against the team from the division above given our poor late season form. Therefore I was pleasantly surprised with the way in which we equipped ourselves and how we managed to win the tie so comfortably. The first hurdle has been overcome although the future challenges look a lot more daunting and we have a big mountain to climb in order to build a team capable of even competing in the Championship let alone navigate our way to another promotion.

Domestic Cups - A bit disappointing to get knocked out of both the League Cup and Irish Cup in the first round but we did have to face higher league opposition so it wasn't unexpected. I was gutted to draw Glenavon in the first round of the Mid Ulster Cup as I knew we had no chance but at least the fans got their moneys worth with an entertaining goal fest. We really have to do a lot better next season as one money spinning draw could set us up for the next few years. My best evidence of this is Coagh United who after a massive money injection from facing Linfield away got promoted alongside us to the Championship after struggling near the foot of the 3rd division for years.

Reserves - They don't participate in a league but should do so next season. As a result, it was a matter of constantly scheduling friendlies which don't have quite the same impact on fitness as competitive fixtures.

Under 18s - Similar story here with the lack of fixtures.

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Squad - I'm delighted with the players as when you look at what my coaches think of their ability, the majority aren't even good enough for the 3rd division. I think they have overachieved to finish runners up in the league. There is absolutely no doubt that we will need to strengthen next season as there isn't a single player in the club that my coaches feel is good enough to play in the Championship. I know that we need to bring in Championship quality players or players who aren't far from the standard and could reach it with a little first team exposure but doing it is another thing altogether. The clubs reputation is terrible which is going to make our task harder but I'm hoping that DBP teams might be willing to allow some of their talented young players to join us on loan otherwise next season we are going to really struggle to stay up. 

Transfers 1Transfers 2 / Transfers 3 - I took a scatter-gun approach to my transfer dealings in an attempt to bolster the squad. I must have trialed 200 players over the course of the season trying to pick up some gems. I think I may have plucked one or two but the better players that were brought in were definitely the loans. It was a great shame that Wearmouth ST broke his leg as he was in excellent form which catapulted us to the top of the league. When he got injured our form collapsed but thankfully Herron ST did enough to ensure our season didn't completely fall apart.

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Average Rating: 7.20
He did well on the left flank, providing a decent amount of assists and scoring some important goals. I've added the D3 nickname which indicates my coaches think he is only decent for the 3rd division and given his age he has no room to grow. As a result, I will looking for a replacement for next season but he should enjoy his moment in the sun.
 
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Average Rating: 7.65
A great season for the loan player from Newington. It was just unfortunate he broke his leg in the Intermediate Cup game against Glebe Rangers which saw him miss the run in as up until that point he was odds on to become player of the season in the 3rd division. At least he made it back on the pitch for the 2nd leg of the playoff as a late sub so he could take part in the promotion celebrations.
 
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Finances - The balance has gone down a touch but then again for large parts of the season we were exceeding the wage budget so in the end a loss of around £10K or so isn't a major cause for concern. It's strange because I set up a bunch of friendlies for the youth and reserve teams which should have generated £8K a game in appearance fees which would have generated at least £200K but it didn't work that way for some reason. I'm glad to see the wage budget has been more than doubled and we are going to need every penny of it if we are to build a team capable of competing in the division above. Hopefully, I can set up some lucrative friendlies next season to raise some much needed income.

Facilities - I managed to get the junior coaching upgraded but didn't have the funds to do anything else. The club is going to need to get established in the DBP before I can seriously start thinking about investing in the infrastructure of the club.

Youth Intake - The hope was a 'golden generation' which could help us clinch promotion, the reality was a bunch of chancers which even when fully developed aren't even decent enough to play in non league. There is always next year...

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League Reputation - We are looking cemented in place but I wouldn't underestimate the Irish Premier Division which is slowly closing the gap.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - In what way does it make sense that we got promoted and actually suffered a hit to our reputation. There are a few teams in the Championship which we could compete with reputation wise so hopefully we might be able to convince some of the key signings we'll need to choose us over them.
 
Club European Reputation - As we won't feature on this list for a while I've chosen to focus on how the other N. Irish teams fared in Europe this season.
 
Linfield lost 6-2 on aggregate to Bayern Munich in the Champions League semi final (They actually did a fair bit better than I thought they would given all the transfers)
Glenavon finished 3rd in Europa League group (Only narrowly missed out on getting through so not a bad result)
Larne finished 4th in Europa League group (They were awful)
Ballymena United lost 4-0 on aggregate to Shakhtar Donetsk in the 3rd Qualifying Round of the Europa League (A tough draw but I feel they could have done a bit better)
Coleraine lost 4-1 on aggregate to FC Midtjylland in the 3rd Qualifying Round of the Europa League (This is the main reason why we are struggling so much for coefficient points, they need to be more competitive against this sort of team)
 
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Edited by pheelf

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I have to ask even though you are 50yrs into this save, would you have done anything differently to achieve the save's objective? Or do you just need more real time? Do you think there is some sort of rebounding when it comes to league rep? What I mean is the usual top 4 leagues English, Spanish, etc. will stay there unless a human manager gate crashes. Yet, in my opinion, the NI league being in an unnatural position would slide down quite badly if left to its own devices.

 

I am really considering this as a save that needs to be added to my 'list'. I usually like to do a Wrexham save buying Welsh players only and maybe a San Marino save, but this is a nice long term target save, my kind of style. Something to look forward to for FM20.

 

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1 hour ago, Stouters said:

I have to ask even though you are 50yrs into this save, would you have done anything differently to achieve the save's objective? Or do you just need more real time? Do you think there is some sort of rebounding when it comes to league rep? What I mean is the usual top 4 leagues English, Spanish, etc. will stay there unless a human manager gate crashes. Yet, in my opinion, the NI league being in an unnatural position would slide down quite badly if left to its own devices.

I am really considering this as a save that needs to be added to my 'list'. I usually like to do a Wrexham save buying Welsh players only and maybe a San Marino save, but this is a nice long term target save, my kind of style. Something to look forward to for FM20.

If I could rewind, I would have been a bit more proactive with bringing in more quality youth players into the country in order to put them out on loan to other N. Irish clubs. I might have also tried to gift other N. Irish teams money but both Linfield and Glentoran was never really financially secure enough to be able to give money away while maintaining a squad strong enough to compete for the Champions League and simultaneously building the infrastructure of the club. 

As a matter of whether it's down to time. Well, I have to state that I'm not convinced that breaking into the top 5 leagues let alone making the DBP #1 is possible over any time scale anymore. There seems to be a natural barrier with how far you can take it which seems true to life. The new UEFA competition rules make it almost impossible to penetrate into the top 5 leagues. There is a natural ceiling which in the end, all comes down to money. Maybe if I didn't have the top 5 leagues added it might weaken those leagues a bit but I don't think it would make that big of a difference to their ability to generate coefficient points. There is a degree of rebounding but I think because the process of building the country was done more organically in the save that the DBP has found a new equilibrium with the N. Irish teams earning enough coefficient points every year to stabilize its position in the reputation table. 

If you are considering doing something similar for FM20 then I'd be interested to see how that works out. I think what keeps this sort of save fresh for me is having to work from a constant disadvantage which keeps the challenge going.

Best Regards 

Edited by pheelf

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Newry City A.F.C.

SEASON 2069 / 2070

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Fighting bravely against the drop is the boards objective and I can't say that I disagree given the squad at our disposal. I'll be able to strengthen the squad with the increased wage budget but whether that will be enough to keep us up is questionable. I really would like a better performance in the cups as that is the only way we are going to get any decent money coming into the club.

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League Table - That, my friends is an unbelievable outcome given the pessimism which surrounded our chances before the season started. We were inconsistent at times but when it mattered we delivered by pulling off some remarkable results against our main rivals for promotion. Professional club Institute were in a class of their own but now we have a fantastic opportunity ahead of us in the playoffs. I'm delighted with the season regardless of what happens as long as we give it our best shot I'm satisfied. 

Danske Bank Premier / Championship Playoffs - Am I dreaming? I was just happy to be in the playoffs, so to go on and gain promotion out of it goes way beyond my expectations. In some way, I feel sorry for Ballyclare Comrades who will be gutted to get relegated given their new stadium opens next season. I think once the tie was level after 180 minutes we should have just played extra time and have a penalty shootout if the tie was still level, it feels really cruel to decide promotion on away goals. As much as I may feel bad for them I have no doubt they will bounce back. For now we should celebrate and enjoy the moment. Once that's over though the real hard work starts as I try and figure out how I'm going to fulfil the daunting task of keeping a semi-professional club in an entirely professional league with a miniscule wage budget.  

Domestic Cups - We were a lot better this season and managed to get the draw of our dreams in the Irish Cup which gave us a lot of money. I think we were somewhat fortunate with some of the easier draws which enabled us to make more progress than I thought we would which I'm grateful for. If we could manage another couple of draws away to either Glentoran or Linfield then professional status might not be too far away. 

Reserves - A patchwork of red, yellow and green exemplifies the level of inconsistency although 4th place is not bad given the quality of players in the team.

Under 18s - A fairly good season from the youth team, it'll be interesting to see how they perform against the top youth teams in the country.

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Squad - A lot of the players really stepped up and proved the coaches wrong especially McMahon DC who was a rock at the heart of our central defence. This is however likely to be the end of the road for the majority of the players. The gap between the PIL and the Championship is big but not so large that the players couldn't develop to match the standard which is what happened this season. The gap between the Championship and the DBP on the other hand is enormous, I can't see even our best players being capable of bridging that gap. We are going to need to use the loan market extensively as given our poor reputation I can't see us being able to attract quality players and that's before we even begin to think about wages. Credit where credit is due though, the players were immense this season and deserve the plaudits coming their way.    

Transfers 1Transfers 2 - Another assortment of free transfers with one fee paid to Crusaders for O'Donnell ST who was worth every penny given he ended the season as our top scorer. I didn't go as wild with the trials this season as there was a real lack of quality available but still managed to find some good players with trials. What concerns me is that even after promotion our scouts are still promoting Championship quality players to us which can't help us. Hopefully, once the season reset date passes that might change. The upcoming summer transfer window is going to be critical for us, we have to get what we need to give us a chance of beating the drop otherwise it could be too late come January. 

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Average Rating: 7.09
He had a respectable season although I would have liked to see a few more assists but given his poor attacking attributes maybe that was asking a bit too much.
 
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Average Rating: 7.09
A remarkable improvement from the player and he developed into a key player for us during the season. I'd even go as far as saying that without him we would have likely been facing a relegation battle. I don't think a 5 attribute for marking and 7 for positioning are going to cut it in the top flight but I would like to keep him as a backup if possible.
 
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Finances - That game against Linfield was a real gift as the balance before the game was around £21K. The increase to the wage budget hasn't been massive but it should enable us to bring in some quality. Just to give an idea of the mountain we now have to climb. The yearly wage bill for the club is £119K, there are 9 Linfield players who earn more than that a week not to mention the fact that Linfield spent £106M on a player this season while we spent a grand. The key to our future is staying in the top flight, if we can manage that we will take a huge leap toward becoming a professional club. I'm also encouraged to see the attendances rise even after a massive hike in the ticket prices.  

Facilities - The junior coaching was once again upgraded although the board remain reluctant to improve the youth recruitment. Let's hope to see some sell out games at the Newry Showgrounds next season to break our record.

Youth Intake - A lot of potential in there but no ability to develop it. I'd be surprised if any of these players break through into the first team. 

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League Reputation - Steady as she goes although the gap between the DBP and the 2 leagues above in terms of coefficients is widening.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - A 1* club in a 4* league, this is going to be brutal.
 
Club European Reputation - This is how the other N. Irish teams fared in Europe this season.
 
Linfield won the Europa League (Brilliant, I wish it were the Champions League but they would have contributed well to the coefficient with this)
Glentoran finished 3rd in Europa League group (I really want to see Glentoran in the Champions League qualifiers instead of Glenavon as they are the only AI team ever to make it to the group stage, maybe the new stadium will help them to close the gap and clinch 2nd in the league)
Glenavon lost 6-0 on aggregate to Olympique Marseille in the 2nd Knockout Round of the Europa League (This was a great campaign for them, shame it had to end with such a bruising defeat)
Larne lost 4-0 on aggregate to Bayer Leverkusen in the 3rd Qualifying Round of the Europa League (They are just nowhere near the standard needed)
Coleraine lost 5-0 on aggregate to Real Sociedad in the 4th Qualifying Round of the Europa League (This was a hard draw and it came as no surprise they were beaten so convincingly)
 
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Edited by pheelf

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Newry City A.F.C.

SEASON 2070 / 2071

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I didn't expect successive promotions into the top flight but now we are here we should attempt to make the most of it. Avoiding relegation is all that matters this season and that's what all my efforts will be geared towards. 30 points in the majority of previous DBP seasons has usually been enough for 10th so that will be the objective. Although I'd just be happy to survive even if it means having to stay up via the playoffs.

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League Table - We didn't quite make our target of 30 points but in the end it didn't matter as it was enough to finish 10th. I knew we'd struggle but still there was some nice moments to look back on favourably like the 2-1 win over Glentoran at home which when you look at the final table may just have been the unexpected 3 points which kept us out of 11th. There was of course some bad moments like the 8-0 thrashing by Linfield but I needed to play smart considering we are a part time team. As a result, when there was fixture congestion I would target games which I think we could get points from by playing my strongest 11 and then play a rotated side in the games where we didn't have much chance at all. I think this approach really helped us as it allowed me to field fresher players against relegation rivals. I'm glad to see Glentoran clinch the 2nd Champions League spot but disappointed to see Crusaders go down having lost the playoff against Ballyclare Comrades. I think staying up next season will be even harder as Newington and Ballyclare Comrades look to have stronger squads than Institute and Crusaders so another tough battle lies ahead.

Domestic Cups - A really poor season in the cups with the only positive to come out of it being a nice payday in the Irish Cup. The loss to 3rd division Armagh City was terrible given that I fielded a full strength side as for the first time there looked to be an easy route to the semi final. If we beat them we would have faced Warrenpoint Town in the quarter final but we were dreadful in that game. We didn't create anything and got hit by a sucker punch in extra time. The League Cup was another debacle, this time going out to Championship opposition after extra time. We really must do better next time, especially in the Mid Ulster Cup where the prize money for winning it is £704K which for Glenavon who have been getting Champions League money isn't that much but for a club like ours is a game changer.

Reserves - At least they didn't finish bottom but overall an ineffective season.

Under 18s - The youth team however did finish bottom of their league which shows the real quality within the youth ranks.

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Squad - I'm fairly satisfied with the team and I was able to bring in a few players which were good enough for the DBP. I would have liked to bring in a few more players but the lack of available wage budget ended that possibility. We look to be really lacking up front and it showed during the season with the amount of good chances we missed during games. As we tend to be under the cosh in the majority of our games we really need strikers who can take advantage of any chances we do manage to create and I will be looking to bring in such quality. We need to be able to score more goals to try and compensate for the fact that we really struggle to keep them out at the other end. We had the worst goal difference in the league and really owe our staying up to having two poor teams below us which I don't think will be the case next season. I was in demand this season with job offers from Crusaders and interviews from Coleraine, Distillery and surprisingly Ballymena United. I was definitely tempted to leave but wanted to see out at least this season at Newry City and try and keep them up. Now that I have achieved that I would be more open to moving clubs given that professional status looks a few seasons off for Newry City which is a major disadvantage to how well I can build the club.

Transfers - Nowhere near as many transfers as in previous seasons largely as a consequence of having no wage budget to work with. I raided Newington and managed to bring in some good players, Bonney MC was expensive but became a key player in our team which really helped solidify the central midfield. I expect a lot more activity next season as I try to improve the weak areas in the team.

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Average Rating: 6.82
I didn't want to have to depend on him but in the end didn't have any choice as I couldn't afford to bring in any better. He did fairly well given his ability and I give him credit for not looking completely out of his depth. Against teams where we were competitive he was solid enough but against better teams he was exposed and was often embarrassed. He did manage to improve his weakest attributes but even still they are way off what is required for the standard needed to improve our position in the table.    
 
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Average Rating: 6.94
You may find it strange that I'm awarding this to a goalkeeper which was part of a team which conceded the most goals in the league. That fact cannot be denied but the reason why I'm giving him this award is based on the amount of goals he prevented us from conceding. I've renewed the loan for next season given how important to the squad he is, without him, I have no doubt we would have been relegated.
 
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Finances - I did ask the board to turn the club professional stating we needed to do it in order to match the fitness levels of the other teams in the division but they refused citing that they are happier than ever with where we are in the footballing pyramid. They aren't an ambitious lot I see, thankfully, it looks like a takeover is coming given that chairman is now just 'enjoying his role at the club'. The last takeover we had was a fans trust in 2022 and since then it has been a series of internal promotions. I'm thankful to the fans which have supported the club through really difficult times but i think if we are to improve as a club they need to sell and bring in some outside investment. On the plus side, at least I have a huge (relatively) wage budget to work with in order to improve the squad although I won't be looking to spend all of it as I want to continue making a profit in order to force the board to turn professional. I estimate we'd probably need to stay in the top flight for another 3-4 seasons in order to have enough money to turn professional which is why I'm not opposed to moving on to another club.

Facilities - I managed to convince the board to improve both the junior coaching and youth recruitment. Hopefully, that should help the club become a self sustaining model going forward should I leave by producing it's own players.

Youth Intake - The clubs first 'golden generation', there are some very high potential players there but we hardly have the facilities to develop them so the likelihood of them excelling looks remote.

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League Reputation - We bucked the trend of recent seasons by actually closing the gap in coefficients to both Scotland and Portugal.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - I would have thought that surviving a season in a 4* league would be enough to at least bump us up by 0.5* but evidently not.
 
Club European Reputation - This is how the other N. Irish teams fared in Europe this season.
 
Linfield lost 5-1 on aggregate to FC Barcelona in the 1st Knockout Round of the Champions League (I don't know what they were doing in the Nou Camp but that 4-0 loss basically killed the tie, at least they topped their group)
Glentoran lost on away goals after 2-2 draw with Levante in 4th Qualifying Round of the Europa League (This was excruciating for them but at least they will be in a group stage next season)
Glenavon lost on penalties after 3-3 draw with FC Porto in the 1st Knockout Round of the Europa League (They finished 3rd in their Champions League group but were unlucky against FC Porto)
Larne lost 5-0 on aggregate to FC Copenhagen in the 4th Qualifying Round of the Europa League (So close to the group stage only to get humiliated by Danish opposition)
Ballymena United lost 3-1 on aggregate to Valencia in the 1st Knockout Round of the Europa League (A great campaign from them as they managed to finish 2nd in their Europa League group)
 
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Edited by pheelf

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REVIVING A SLEEPING GIANT

It has been 3 glorious seasons to start Frank's managerial career and I'm very happy with what has been achieved with Newry City. Two successive promotions followed by a season where we managed to survive in the top flight is a job well done in my book. As much as I'm satisfied with the job done there I feel that I've probably taken them as far as I can while they remain as a part time club. If I stayed at the club I would be in a relegation scrap year after year until we managed to accumulate enough funds to turn professional. Given that we are unlikely to compete in Europe anytime soon that could be a long wait which would work against the objective of the save as I wouldn't be able to help with the nations club coefficient. Therefore after much careful consideration I decided to grasp the opportunity to take the reins at a bigger club.

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I would like to manage Glentoran at some point in the future but for now I decided to move to Ballymena United. They tick all the boxes of a sleeping giant in my book. They are a well established professional club and were one of the first after Glentoran and Larne to become full time. They participate regularly in European competitions and I move to the club on the back of a very impressive campaign last season. They have an ambitious board as they fired their former manager for only being slightly off the pace when it comes to the season objectives. I think with the right manager steering the ship that something special can be built here.

History

They have a long and illustrious history having a reasonable amount of domestic success. They have only ever lifted the DBP title on one occasion in all of their history which they managed in 2020. They have also managed to win the Irish Cup, League Cup and Co. Antrim Shield a few times but have largely been in the shadow of the Belfast giants. Aside from last season, they haven't been good in Europe and have really struggled to make an impact, hopefully, I can change that and bring some glory to the long suffering fans. 

Trophies Won

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Club

One of the main positives of this club is its reputation. 3.5* is excellent and should enable me to bring in quality players that can improve the squad and hopefully make it more competitive in Europe if we qualify. Another bonus is that the club has a fierce rival which could be very helpful as it could spur on the development of Coleraine if we manage to start being successful. You can never underestimate the value of having a fierce rival when trying to build a league. I also like the philosophy of signing young players for the first team from the board.

Facilities

This is where the positive picture starts to get blemished. That stadium capacity is way too low for us to consistently compete at the upper end of the DBP as the income we are able to generate from it is poor. It is also rather bizarre to see us using Ballyclare Comrades new ground in order to host some Europa League games. It is rather restrictive to have to use Larne's stadium with its capacity below 10,000 for group stage matches as I would much rather we played at Windsor Park and had the opportunity to get higher attendances and thus more gate receipts. The training and youth facilities have also been badly neglected without any investment at all in that area it would seem. I think we need to be looking towards buying the stadium so that we can expand it and then build a new ground but the timescale for that could be quite long. On a more positive note, the average attendance is 80% of capacity so a little bit of success should push us over the top.

First Team Squad

Even though the squad is aging in parts it should be strong enough to gain a European berth. We are the junior partner in an affiliation with Celta Vigo which for me needs to be cancelled A.S.A.P. given that all the players on loan you see aren't from them. The affiliation is a first option one and I tend to find that those can depress the value you get from selling your players which I don't like and the £50K a season isn't that much of a help to make it viable enough for me to keep. The star of the team is wonderkid Silva who is on loan from EA Guingamp so I will be looking to him as the main man to help us get the goals we need to clinch a Europa League spot. The lack of depth down the left flank will need to be addressed as I don't think it's realistic to expect that 34 year old Cortes will be able to play every game as his physical attributes have already declined badly. The central defenders also look pretty weak which might go some way to explaining why we haven't kept a clean sheet for over 2 months.

Reserve Squad

A lot of potential but nothing there that can immediately help in the first team which is a bit of a problem. I think Heffernan ML and Hanna DL will have to called up to the first team as a stop gap measure to add some depth while Murphy once recovered from his injury will also probably be needed in the first team for now.

Under 18s Squad

We've got one really talented youngster in Morgan DR and the rest are rubbish. They must have been making cutbacks as this is a really low amount of players for the youth team. I will definitely be signing everybody from the next intake to bolster the numbers. I think the former managers may have missed a trick here as this is actually one of the only areas of the club which hasn't been starved of investment. I'll be looking to maximize the excellent junior coaching and established youth recruitment in the hope I can develop some HG players.

Finances

This is what is going to make my time at the club very difficult indeed. A massive multi million pound deficit in the bank balance alongside a £6M loan with monthly repayments of £55K until 2079. We are also above our wage budget with the projections going forward making for some grim reading. The simple answer to our financial conundrum is that we need change focus and become a selling club. Over the last 5 seasons the club has generated only £1.15M in player sales which is nowhere near enough considering last season we paid £3.2M on player wages, £810K on bonuses, £830K on loan repayments, £1.7M on staff wages, £1.5M on non-footballing costs, £1.2M in tax. In total we spent just shy of £11.7M while we only made £10.5M in income which was only bolstered by an exceptional year in Europe where the club raised £6M in Europa League prize money. This season the club got knocked out in the qualifiers so we're looking at a huge deficit if our spending remains in line with last season. What is going to make getting the club on a firm financial footing very difficult is the fact that we don't really have many sell-able assets which is why I'm going to stop loaning players in future. None of my players are really wanted by other clubs and their wages are damaging the club. It's a terrible legacy to inherit but I'm going to have to use all my financial nous to get the club out of this mess.

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Starting Conditions

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The board want a top half finish and that is what I'll be looking to deliver and to try and get into Europe via the playoffs or by winning the Irish Cup which aren't going to be easy. We have a tricky start in the league as we have to play away at Linfield first, then away at Larne, then we get a little relief playing at home to my former club then Linfield at home. We then round off December at home to Ballyclare Comrades, then away to Glentoran and then finally away to Newington. I would expect us to get 9 points, anything more than that would indicate a good start.

Career Objectives

Getting into Europe is absolutely vital for the long term financial future of the club. Without it and we are likely to see the club plunge deeper and deeper into the red which would slowly strangle the club to death. We need to secure the clubs financial future then look to invest in the neglected infrastructure. All of which can be accelerated with player sales and bringing young talent into the club to develop and sell for profit. We have no restrictions on scouting which is a plus but we also can't afford the scouting packages which isn't great. I'm looking forward to my time at the club and it should make for an interesting challenge as I've never been in the situation where the financial climate has been this difficult.

Edited by pheelf

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Ballymena United F.C.

SEASON 2071 / 2072

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The board would like for us to finish in the top 6 which should be achievable but I think we need to be more ambitious. Given the precarious state of the clubs finances we need to qualify for Europe by whatever means necessary otherwise our professional status could be under serious threat.

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League Table - It was tough in the early periods but once the players became accustomed to the new style of play we became consistent and began to rattle off the wins. Devastating to see Newry City go down as it could be a while before they come back if they ever do. It was also another crushing blow to N. Irish football to see Glentoran miss out on European football again next season.  I'm also not all that pleased to see Cliftonville flirting with relegation but at least next season sees the return of the north Belfast derby as Crusaders will return alongside playoff winners Institute.

Danske Bank Premier Europa League Playoff - This was a largely pointless exercise for us as we had already clinched a place in Europe. As a result, I fielded a weakened team in order to give Glentoran the best chance of getting through. They sauntered through the quarter and semi final stages only to then lose on penalties and gift Coleraine the final spot in Europe to my disappointment. 

UEFA Europa League - Another humiliation in Europe for a N. Irish club as they should have beaten such a weak team with ease. We have to do a lot better next season as this competition is the only source of major income.

Domestic Cups - Doesn't get much sweeter than that when it comes to an Irish Cup win. Beating our main rivals in the final after comfortably dispatching the best club in the country in the semi final. The club's first trophy win in nearly a decade and the first of what I'm hoping is many in Frank's career.

Reserves - They compete in both the Steel & Sons and the Intermediate Cups which is good. A mediocre season from them punctuated by finishing slap bang in the middle of the table.

Under 18s - I'm shocked they managed to do that well considering that they had mainly grey players for large portions of the season.

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Squad - I tried my best but I couldn't strengthen the side in January and was restricted to no-fee paying loans. The squad is definitely going into a transition period from my perspective. I'm not going to be able to renew the Silva ST loan which is a big blow as that is an awful lot of goals we are going to have to replace next season. Mantovani ST and Cortes ML are retiring while a number of the players are beginning to decline. I'm happy to see the market values increase the way they have as I'm going to need to sell before I can think about bringing in new players. I think I will need to raid the free transfer market also and have signed a contract with a striker to come in July. The coming transfer window is going to be critical as I look to build a squad capable of getting into the Europa League group stage which is going to take a lot of work.

Transfers - I was responsible for selling Gale MR who wanted a new challenge. I was happy to let him leave and brought in Walton ML and Welch DL on loan. I don't want to do it but I'll probably need to extend those two loans if I can out of necessity. There is no doubt we are going to need to sell players, I've just got to hope that I can get some good fees for them.

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Average Rating: 7.17
He did a good job for us and perhaps over performed based on what his attributes would suggest he should be capable of. As good as he has been I would really welcome a bid for him given that he is the joint most valuable player in the squad. I won't actively look to sell him but an offer of around the £5M mark would definitely interest me and be great for a 30 year old whose physical attributes will start to decline soon. I'm not worried about losing him given I have talented 22 year old arriving on a free transfer as a replacement.
 
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Average Rating: 7.25
I'm really dreading the day he walks out of the training grounds for the last time. He is just an exceptionally good player which I'm not going to be able to replace. I tried to offer his club a very good loan fee and to pay his wages but they really want to give him a chance in the first team so didn't accept which I can understand. At least he leaves us with a nice present of being our top scorer by a large margin and European football which could turn our fortunes around and who knows maybe in time we might see him return.
 
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Finances - Ouch, that's painful. The board had to pump in money to keep us going but it's nowhere near enough to take us out of the red. I couldn't do much to help either as nobody was willing to spend decent money to buy our players in January. We need a fire sale to bring in some serious funds as if we don't make progress in the Europa League which is a possibility we are going to have a massive debt come the end of next season as the board simply can't cover our losses. Having to service a huge debt with a massive fan base and regular Champions League money is difficult but manageable as shown by Glentoran. Having to do it with a small fan base while playing in a tiny stadium and not having guaranteed millions coming in from Europe is a whole different ball game altogether. 

When I look around the DBP I can see serious danger signs with quite a few clubs in serious financial difficulty. They all have the same problem we are facing. How do you remain a competitive full time club without good income from Europe? The answer is you can't and that is the major reason why the clubs outside the top 4 (Linfield, Glenavon, Larne & Glentoran) are just spiraling deeper and deeper into debt. The only way out of this for us is to become a selling club and make our money in the transfer market. Unfortunately, we are quite a distance from making that a reality. In order to start the process you need young talented players which other teams will pay good money for as they have a number of years ahead of them in their careers. Our most valuable assets are all the wrong side of 30 and coming toward the later part of their careers. Therefore we need to start to transition those players out of the club which may mean we have to settle for lower fees before we can begin to invest in young players to develop and sell for profit. Getting the balance right between selling players and remaining competitive is going to be tricky but the rewards for doing so will be transformative for the club. Hopefully, I can quickly break the transfer fee received record for the club of £2.9M.  

Facilities - This is largely the reason why we are struggling so much financially. The infrastructure of the club is massively lagging behind the reputation of the club and quite frankly is an embarrassment. We have the expenditures of a club competing in Europe but a stadium and facilities which wouldn't look out of place in the 3rd division. From my perspective, this comes down to mismanagement from the board. Instead of spending so much money on the playing staff if some of that was directed into improving the clubs ability to generate income we would be in a far healthier situation. The first priority has to be on raising enough funds to buy the stadium from the council and then expanding it to its maximum size then looking build a new stadium. 

Youth Intake - Some OK-ish looking players in there but nothing that looks like breaking through into the first team. I decided to sign them all to bolster numbers in the youth team.

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League Reputation - Scotland deservedly overtook Portugal but the coefficient gap between N. Ireland and both of them remains stubborn. I'll use this section to now highlight how the other N. Irish teams did in Europe.
 
Linfield lost 4-1 on aggregate to Wolfsburg in Europa League semi final (A decent campaign although they missed out on getting through their Champions League group on the head to head record)
Larne lost 2-1 on aggregate to Bayer Leverkusen in 4th Qualifying Round of Europa League (So close and yet so far)
Glentoran finished 3rd in Europa League group (They looked like making the Champions League group stage but a 3-2 loss in the playoff to AA Gent ended that hope)
Glenavon finished 3rd in Europa League group (Slightly disappointing after recent performances)
 
Club Domestic Reputation - The only major advantage we have over the best of the rest is reputation, we need to exploit this to maximum effect. Nice to see Newry City up to 1.5* as it might help them to bounce back after relegation being the most reputable team in the Championship.
 
Club European Reputation - We appear on the list which is nice but we are really low down. As a result, if we are going to get to the group stage we are going to have to do it the hard way by navigating through as an unseeded team.
 
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Edited by pheelf

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Hi @pheelf, IMHO you will increase the country rep when you took two teams under your belt.  You can't compete with Spain, England and the rest of the big four with those payments those leagues pay to their teams.  Take for example England, if you stay in the top league you will have 8M guaranteed, without the gate receipts, the cups runs, and so.  But anyways great reading so far.

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Cheers, you're right about the top 5 leagues. The money they generate every season is unbelievable. I think we just need to focus on being the best of the rest and trying to obtain 3 Champions League spots.

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Ballymena United F.C.

SEASON 2072 / 2073

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Another top half finish is expected from the board which is a fair reflection of our standing within the league. I'd like to make some progress in the Europa League to pump some much needed funds into the club to help the dire financial situation. For now we need to focus on qualifying for Europe through the league as that is the only way we are going to improve things.

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League Table - This was such a disappointing season. We started so well and were in 2nd place at the turn of the year which ignited hopes that we might be able to clinch a spot in the Champions League. Then our form completely collapsed and by the time of the split we were well adrift of 2nd. Our inability to strengthen in January really cost us and hence we had to put all our eggs in the playoff basket in order to clinch a place in Europe. Terrible to see Distillery go down given their Insecure financial status but a relief to see Cliftonville survive.

Danske Bank Premier Europa League Playoff - Oh dear, we simply didn't turn up in the most important game of our season. The game was awful to watch, few chances and a complete lack of conviction from us to score. Missing out on Europe is hugely damaging considering how precarious our finances are, this is a massive set back.

UEFA Europa League - We did well to qualify from a tricky looking group which provided a nice boost to our finances but Borussia Dortmund are a class apart and effectively won the tie in the first leg.

Domestic Cups - An absolute nightmare of a season in the cups, especially as our fierce rivals gained revenge after last seasons Irish Cup final defeat.

Reserves - They had a reasonable season.

Under 18s - Much better from the youth team as they won the cup. The last intake of players seem to be helping them quite significantly.

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Squad - The team really let me down in the 2nd half of the season. I tried hard to strengthen but we are still lacking badly in some areas. The GK, DC, DL, ML positions could all do with strengthening but I'm really struggling to move players on which is making that job impossible. We will also be losing the two loans next season as Watson ML is at the end of his contract with his parent club and we can't afford his wages to bring him in on a free transfer. Silva ST is definitely going this time as his parent club aren't interested in loaning him to us for a third year. The path ahead looks really difficult given the players we will lose to expiring contracts but we have to remain optimistic that teams will be interested in buying some of our better players to give us the ability to improve the squad.

Transfers - Looking back at it I think the loss of Owusu DL to Glenavon was probably the turning point of our season. He was a huge player for us and when he left things just fell apart. They had tabled an offer earlier in January but I managed to talk Owusu down and he agreed to stay. They then came in with a bigger offer and the board went over my head and accepted it which is understandable given the terrible state of the finances but when you look at the bigger picture could be a huge mistake from the board. Had we kept Owusu maybe our form wouldn't have collapsed and we might have been able to hold onto the Champions League qualification spot which would have made the club a lot more money in the long run. Only time will tell on that front, of the players that were brought in Endean ST was definitely the pick of the bunch finishing the clubs top scorer. As he has such a huge market value I would be willing to sell as we are going to need some seed money if we are to strengthen the squad.

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Average Rating: 7.19
He is one of the first names on the team sheet. The provider of the most assists within the team, he is a key component of the squad but given his age and the clubs financial situation I'd rather cash in while we still have the opportunity.
 
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Average Rating: 7.30
As much as I like the guy when our form collapsed his form also suffered which didn't help. Overall, I think he had a very productive two seasons with us and I wish him well for the future.
 
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Finances - It's a lot better than it was last season but it's still pretty dire. I dread to think what the balance will read this time next season given we won't have any European prize money to supplement our income. We need to sell players or we are going to be in serious trouble.  

Facilities - The board can't afford to send me on a coaching course for my A license so what chance have we got to invest in the clubs infrastructure.

Youth Intake - Gallagher MC looks promising but the rest look poor. I signed all the players with at least 1* potential (gold star) and released the rest.

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League Reputation - We went up a place which is good to see. Here's how the other N. Irish teams did in Europe.
 
Linfield lost 6-2 on aggregate to Internazionale in Europa League quarter final (They had it their hands to get through their Champions League group but a slip up away at Cork City took it away from them and they had to settle for 3rd, at least they had a decent run in the Europa League but a disastrous 5-0 loss in Italy ensured they would go no further even after a spirited win at home in the return leg)
Larne lost 2-1 on aggregate to St. Mirren in 3rd Qualifying Round of the Europa League (Really Larne, they should have beaten them easily given they won the 1st leg and didn't concede any away goals)
Coleraine lost 5-2 on aggregate to FC Basel in 3rd Qualifying Round of the Europa League (They might have done a bit better, interested to see how they fare in the Champions League qualifiers next season)
Glenavon finished 3rd in Europa League group (They came so close to knocking out AZ in the Champions League 3rd Round qualifiers but lost on away goals, at least the managed to get a nice clutch of coefficient points)
 
Club Domestic Reputation - On the decline which is not surprising given our less than impressive season.
 
Club European Reputation - Our coefficients are poor and will be on the slide once again in the absence of European football.
 
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Edited by pheelf

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1 minute ago, Deisler26 said:

Congrats man. What a read.

Thanks a lot man, I really appreciate that.

All the best

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DREAMS FROM MY FATHER

Frank's first season with Ballymena United was good as we managed to win the Irish Cup and gain a place in the Europa League group stage. I thought that would prove to be the catalyst for the start of a positive era where we would begin to improve as the seasons ticked by and eventually find ourselves capable of competing for a place in the Champions League. Unfortunately, last season showed a significant downturn which makes the future look bleak with the financial constraints and our lack of ability to generate good income from the transfer market. I therefore decided that it was in my best interests to begin looking at an exit strategy.

After the conclusion of the season there was a sequence of managerial departures leaving vacancies at Linfield, Coleraine, Glentoran and Distillery in the DBP. I ruled out Distillery as they had just been relegated and were a step backward in my career. I didn't want to have a similar betrayal to my father so fierce rivals Coleraine was off the cards even though I was tempted with the lure of Champions League football. That left Linfield and Glentoran. I didn't apply for the Linfield job as their reputation is 5* and Frank's reputation is only 2.5* so felt it wouldn't really be realistic and I would be unlikely to get a look in anyway. Therefore I applied for the Glentoran job while still with Ballymena United.

I then got the message that Glentoran wouldn't offer me an interview as they couldn't afford to pay the compensation fee. As a result, I then went to the Ballymena United board and asked them to reduce their compensation demands so that I could speak to them. Given that I only had a 1 year deal I didn't think they would object to this but they did and refused to allow me to talk to them. Therefore I was left with 2 options, stay with Ballymena United or resign and take a chance on getting the Glentoran job. Well, it was a bold move but I decided to resign so that I could speak to Glentoran.

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I had to make a lot of promises in the interview such as to get the wage bill down, have better interactions with the press, to keep promises made to players and not to apply for any other jobs but I managed to pull it off and they offered me the role. There was a degree of luck involved as the bookies favourite to take the job instead took the vacancy with Celta Vigo opening the path for Frank. This is a huge deal and there is a lot of pressure to hit the ground running quickly but I'm up for the challenge of restoring a once great club and leading them to glory.

History

Ever since his father left the club in 2046 things haven't exactly gone well. No European trophies since with their last impressive campaign coming in 2049 when they were runners up in the Europa League. The last DBP win was in 2051 with the last domestic trophy win coming in 2067 with the Co. Antrim Shield. The last few seasons being especially poor often missing out on qualifying for Europe completely when they should comfortably be the 2nd best team in the country and competing for a spot in the Champions League.

Trophies Won

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Club

A whole lot of history to work with alongside some memorable faces from the past.

Facilities

What should be working to our advantage is unfortunately not providing much of a help at all. The Nedim Heric Arena is the 2nd largest in the country and should provide a lot of income for the club. There are great facilities across the board and the first priority will be to increase the stadium to its potential size while making the training and youth facilities state of the art once again.

First Team Squad

There are some decent players among the roster such as Martinovic ML and HG striker Ferguson which should provide a good starting point to build around as I look to try and improve the squad. The average age of the squad is 25 which is probably a little bit higher than what I'd like so I'll be looking to address that also. The central midfield and full back positions look a bit shaky and we definitely need more strikers in order to have sufficient depth for the 4-4-2. I am encouraged by the amount of talented young HG players which should help with European squad registration.

Reserve Squad

Dougherty MC looks a special talent who will likely see some first team action next season. Overall, I'm satisfied with the amount of talent in the reserve squad I just hope that during my tenure that I can give some of the players enough first team opportunities to develop to their potential.

Under 18s Squad

Not an awful lot to work with but I am pleased that the club managed to retain the youth affiliations with South Korean outfit Jeonbuk and Chilean side Union Espanola. Maybe the strangely named Argentinian McDonald AMC can become a player with development.

Finances

The previous managers have really been irresponsible with the finances of the club. The club is nearly £60Kp/w over its wage budget which is scandalous and probably explains why we are nearly £7.5M in the red. The club is also paying £800Kp/m towards a £75M loan which I assume was taken out to build the new stadium. If we are going to have the funds to expand the stadium then we are going to need to get the finances back on a firm footing and hopefully we can qualify for the group stage of the Europa League which will help accelerate that process. Much like with Ballymena United we are going to need to establish the club as a selling one.

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Starting Conditions

Last season we finished 6th which was a fairly disappointing season. At least we managed to win the Europa League playoff which gives us the opportunity to increase our income.

Career Objectives

In the short term, we need to secure the clubs financial future which means selling players and reducing the wage bill to sustainable levels. Once that has been done the next step is to bring in young talent to start the process of turning the club into a selling club and then investing the money that is raised into the infrastructure of the club. The ultimate aim being to build a team capable of competing with Linfield for domestic dominance and also capable of having an impact in Europe. This is going to be a tough challenge given the board have only offered a 1 year deal so it will be imperative to get off to an impressive start.  

Edited by pheelf

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On 26/09/2019 at 21:00, kidthekid said:

Interesting turn on events. Looking forward to it.

Restoring them to former glories seems a good tough challenge and I can't wait to get stuck in.

Best Regards

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Glentoran F.C.

SEASON 2073 / 2074

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The board would be satisfied with a top half finish and I will be looking to deliver that this season and to qualify for the Europa League. I know it will be a hard task but getting into the Europa League group stage will be exceptionally helpful in bringing in some much needed money.

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League Table - The team didn't cope well with the added burden of playing in Europe which led at one point to having to face a grueling 7 games in a 2 week period. As a result, we got off to a very slow start and owing to our lack of consistency couldn't hope to make up the deficit to the teams above us. I'm thrilled to see my old club Ballymena United make it into the Champions League after finishing 2nd as that will provide a much needed cash injection for them. At least we managed to get a shot of qualifying for the Europa League through the playoff.

Danske Bank Premier Europa League Playoff - One of the most frustrating games of the whole season. I was devastated after that game as the likely consequences of missing out on Europe are awful. After the game we looked to have thrown away our best opportunity. 

UEFA Europa League - I have achieved a lot of things in FM but this lifting of the Europa League has to go down as one of the best yet. The campaign was so long that the first leg in the 2nd Qualifying Round couldn't fit into the screenshot with that game finishing in a 3-0 win. An unbelievable 21 games we had to play on our way to the trophy which is over half a DBP season. Our run defied all logic that was filled with drama and excitement at every turn. From the remarkable recovery against AC Milan in the qualifiers, to the hammering of their city rivals in the 2nd Knockout Round, finally climaxing with a goal in injury time in the final to win us the trophy, it has been some journey. With it comes Champions League football at the first time of asking which is incredible and is going to allow me to accelerate the building of the club off the pitch. It also means that we have 3 teams that will compete in the Champions League with 2 automatically placed into the group stage which should provide a massive boost.

Domestic Cups - Linfield done us in for both the Irish Cup and League Cup which was the only cups I put any effort into winning. At the time the loss in the Irish Cup semi final looked like it cut off another route into the Europa League for us which didn't look too good given our position in the DBP table but thankfully it didn't end up costing us at all.

Reserves - A mediocre season for a mediocre team although they did make reasonable progress in the cups.

Under 18s - They were hardly impressive although I understand why they got knocked out in the first round of the cup.

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Squad - They were outstanding in the Europa League and I'm delighted with how some of the players have developed during the season, players like Yeates MC really blossomed with first team football and at times seemed inspired. The season started a bit rocky with both key players Martinovic ML and Murray MR being struck down with bad injuries which had them out of action for months but they came back hungry and full of desire to make up for lost time and they certainly did that. Out of necessity, I was forced to play a lot of the young HG talent as we had literally no money to spend and they didn't let me down although understandably they did have periods of inconsistency.

Now that we have some decent money in the clubs coffers I will be looking to add to the depth of the squad with the aim of assembling a squad strong enough to compete on all fronts. Although I will seek to add to what we already have, I won't be re-inventing the wheel and have a massive turnover of players. I rather enjoyed being able to select everyone to play in Europe and will look to keep the core of our best young HG talent together if possible.

Transfers - We couldn't really do anything in the transfer market as I promised to try and bring the wage budget under control as one of my tasks when accepting the job offer. The selling of Gauthier MC was great, a good fee for a 32 year old which didn't fit our system so when he asked me to accept the offer from Torino as he felt he had achieved everything possible at the club I was happy to oblige. I also came very close to selling Chevat MC in January and needed to convince him to stay but I think I made the right choice. The fee offered wouldn't have allowed me to replace him with a similar standard of player so felt it best to hold onto the highly influential player.

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Average Rating: 7.30
The highest accolade has to go this man. The way in which he came back from a serious hip injury suffered in the 2nd leg of the 2nd Qualifying Round of the Europa League is a credit to him. Some players would have gotten down after 3 months out and came back weaker especially given his age but he came back with fire in his belly and was exceptional. I'd even go as far as saying that without him we wouldn't have stood a chance of achieving what we did given how instrumental he was in our run to the final of the Europa League.
 
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Average Rating: 7.11
I don't recall seeing a player develop as much in the space of a season as he did which is remarkable considering that he isn't a wonderkid. His reward for such a brilliant season being a Europa League winners medal and a spot in the N. Irish national team for the 2074 World Cup. The sky really is the limit with this lad and I'll be looking for some ridiculous money if he ever decides he wants to leave. He is an absolute gem of a player and with the right guidance is going to be special.
 
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Finances - I'd almost forgotten what it was like to look into a clubs bank balance and actually see a positive figure. This is a great foundation for us to start building the squad and when the Champions League money gets added next year we are going to be in an exceptionally strong financial position. Scouting is going to be vital and I have switched to the highest packages in the hope I can unearth some wonderkids. I don't think we are quite ready to start investing in the infrastructure of the club but we are far closer than we were this time last season. There are moments which define the career of a manager and set the trajectory of a club. How vital is that injury time winner in the Europa League going to prove to be in future?

Facilities - I asked for a stadium expansion but was rebuffed by the board with concerns about the financial status of the club. To be honest, I tend to agree with them and hence why I'm holding off on making improvements. We have some money but the priority has to be on squad building for now so we can compete for Champions League qualification next season. I have been completing my coaching badges however to compensate for the lesser training facilities and I'm currently studying for the continental B License.

Youth Intake - Nothing of note in the intake so I once again signed everyone with at least 1 gold star potential, the rest was discarded. I was disappointed that the beginning of the season saw our two youth affiliations cancelled.

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League Reputation - Holding steady in 7th although Scotland have really been racking up the coefficient points of late and have established a nice buffer, hopefully, next season we can begin to put a dent in it. Here's how the other N. Irish teams did in Europe.
 
Linfield lost on away goals after a 5-5 draw on aggregate to FC Nantes in the Champions League 1st Knockout Round (They almost didn't make it out of their group as they needed a final day win to secure their place in the knockout rounds, then followed an extraordinary contest with them getting knocked out in the cruelest of ways)
Larne lost 2-0 on aggregate to PSG in 4th Qualifying Round of the Europa League (I actually think they equipped themselves fairly well and can take a lot of credit for not being humiliated but they were never beating a team of that quality)
Coleraine finished 4th in Europa League group (It was always going to be a struggle for them although they did win some points at least)
Glenavon finished 3rd in Europa League group (No progress for them, they really need to invest in the clubs infrastructure otherwise the money they have earned over recent seasons is just going to dwindle away without them becoming a bigger club in the process)
 
Club Domestic Reputation - I'm very happy with that and hopefully we can be snapping at Linfield's heels before too long. In other news, Cliftonville showed some ambition by looking for a site for a new ground which will have a 4,270 capacity. It's smaller than Solitude but hopefully it will have far better corporate facilities, only problem is they are broke so how they are going to fund it isn't entirely clear.
 
Club European Reputation - That Europa League win has done wonders for our coefficient.
 
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Glentoran F.C.

SEASON 2074 / 2075

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After last seasons incredible Europa League win I'd like to make the most of our opportunity to play in the Champions League group stage and earn as much money as possible to help build the club. The board would be satisfied with a top half finish but I'd like to challenge for a place in the Europa League at a minimum anything less will be seen as a backward step.

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League Table - It's truly amazing what can be achieved when a club has some money to invest into the squad. We started this season very strongly and led most of the way so were worthy winners. We managed to clinch it on the final day after a 4-0 win away at former club Ballymena United. I was disgusted to see both N. Belfast clubs go down as that will be damaging to attendances in the top flight, worse still when you consider that they will be replaced with part-time club Malachians (our soon to be removed junior affiliate) and Institute.

UEFA Champions League - A very satisfactory debut season for Frank in the big time. We looked to be getting knocked out and finishing 3rd but a sensational trouncing of Borussia Dortmund saw us through at the expense of the Germans. I didn't hold out much hope of getting past PSG in the 1st Knockout Round but we showed a lot of heart to recover from a first leg defeat and take the 2nd leg into extra time. Ultimately, we were knocked out on away goals but I was delighted that we managed to take such a classy outfit that far.

UEFA Super Cup - The less said about this game the better.

Domestic Cups - A fairly good season overall although it was a bit gutting to miss out on the treble in that manner.

Reserves - A nice improvement from the backup players.

Under 18s - A pretty lousy performance in the UEFA Youth League.

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Squad - It was pleasing to see the development of the young players especially Yeates MC who is now considered to be a wonderkid. Once again we had some bad luck with injuries and it seems the run will be continuing as Kim DC broke his leg in training after the last league game and will be missing for 3-4 months. The central defence, right back, left midfield and striker positions all need to be strengthened and if we can manage it I think we might have the strength to go even further in the Champions League. I'd like to see a few more wonderkids in the squad also, if possible.

Transfers - There just doesn't appear to be any interest in our players which is making it difficult to make a profit in the transfer market. The board weren't too pleased with the sale of Milne GK but £3.2M for a 34 year old when I had an adequate replacement in Beradze was a no-brainer in my book. I did a fair bit of work with pre-contract agreements and I think I made out pretty well with all but Durand ST playing a significant role in the first team. I'm also pleased with the value I was able to extract from the incoming fee paying transfers who all contributed well and are now worth a great deal more than what they were purchased for.

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Average Rating: 7.65
He has a PPM which isn't particularly useful for a player I expect to play in the winger role but that didn't really hinder him as he laid on the most assists in the team and also was the 2nd highest scorer. Competition for his place has become fierce with the arrival of Moreno in January so it will be interesting to see how adjusts to the new situation.
 
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Average Rating: 7.39
A great debut season for the support duty striker which saw him develop brilliantly. A real bargain for £500K and I can't wait to see how much he will progress alongside a better quality strike partner.
 
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Finances - From the verge of financial ruin to plain sailing within the space of a couple of seasons. Add to this the Champions League pool money of around £14M which was added after the screenshot was taken and the trend is definitely up for the size of the bank balance. I will be looking to utilize the improved wage budget to bring more quality to the squad which will hopefully allow us to push on in the Champions League and increase our income even further.

Facilities - It required the taking of another loan but I was able to get an expansion to the stadium which isn't massive but at least will be completed before the season gets into full swing. Hopefully, the winning of the DBP will enable us to make more season ticket sales which strangely stayed exactly the same this season as last. I don't want to pull the trigger on upgrading the other facilities quite yet as I'd like to finish expanding the stadium first.

Youth Intake - McCann DC looks a real talent with a bright future who I'm looking forward to working with. The rest aren't great but there might be some future squad players in there.

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League Reputation - We seem to have established a good coefficient lead over Portugal but Scotland are just moving further away and will have 41.967 points compared to our 34.150 points next season which is a huge gap. Here's how the other N. Irish teams did in Europe.
 
Linfield lost 4-1 on aggregate to Crystal Palace in Champions League 1st Knockout Round (Unusual to see Crystal Palace but they comfortably dispatched Linfield who I'm sure could have done better)
Larne lost 3-0 on aggregate to PAOK in 4th Qualifying Round of the Europa League (This was poor from them and they really should have done a lot better)
Ballymena United finished 3rd in Europa League group (They got knocked out easily of the Champions League qualifiers as expected but put in a decent fight in the Europa League and were unlucky to miss out on getting through their group)
Glenavon lost 3-1 on aggregate to Man City in Europa League 1st Knockout Round (Of all the teams they could have drawn why did it have to be them, at least they didn't get hammered)
Dungannon Swifts lost 7-0 on aggregate to Napoli in Europa League 2nd Qualifying Round (Men against boys, quite simply)
 
Club Domestic Reputation - How we are still behind Glenavon is quite baffling considering that we have just won the Europa League and DBP in concurrent seasons. Newry City nearly found themselves getting relegated to the 3rd division but thankfully they managed to win the playoff against Dollingstown. In other more positive news, even though Cliftonville got relegated they are progressing with their plans for a new ground and are now seeking planning permission.
 
Club European Reputation - Nice to see the summit once again.
 
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Glentoran F.C.

SEASON 2075 / 2076

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We did an excellent job to win the DBP last season, the aim has to be to retain it or failing that at least qualify for the Champions League again. I'd like a nice long campaign in the Champions League to raise some much needed funds so I can begin investing big time into the infrastructure of the club.

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League Table - This was the opposite of last season in terms of our start and the level of consistency we showed. After a horrid November we were practically out of the title race and it was looking questionable as to whether we could catch Glenavon and even finish 2nd. Thankfully for us, Glenavon suffered a late season collapse which allowed us to close the gap enough to have a final day playoff for 2nd with us needing to better their result to overtake them. Glenavon were at Larne whilst we played Ballyclare Comrades at home. They lost their game 2-1 after going down to 10 men which when combined with our 2-1 win allowed us to overtake them on the final day. This was all too close for comfort and we need to improve our consistency as we drew way too many games to really give ourselves a chance of a title challenge. Crusaders will be getting promoted and Cliftonville narrowly missed out losing the playoff final to Institute. Interestingly, Malachians turned professional after only a season in the top flight which makes me suspicious as to why I couldn't do the same with Newry City.

UEFA Champions League - A reasonable campaign which saw us match our performance of last season. To stand a chance of going deeper into the competition we are going to need to improve our away form as we were lucky to scrape 2nd in our group. We also need to improve our ability to score goals. 6 goals in 8 games is a pretty poor return and I feel that our lack of a top quality attack duty striker is costing us dearly here as we did create some good opportunities in games.

Domestic Cups - Nice to win the Irish Cup over Glenavon. Some of the scorelines we managed against lower league opposition weren't all that great. We only managed to beat 3rd division Ballinamallard United 2-1 and Glebe Rangers 1-0. That doesn't exactly inspire confidence considering they are part time teams and have players which wouldn't even be good enough to grace our Under 18s squad.

Reserves - They came so close to winning the Steel & Sons Cup but perhaps the prize money is better off going to a team like Crusaders. On the plus side, they managed to retain the league title which is good.

Under 18s - I don't know why but their form is very erratic in the UEFA Youth League. At least they are on the up domestically although they look some way off winning a trophy anytime soon.

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Squad - There are 2 players, Mattei ST & Ruiz ST that couldn't fit into the screenshot who played a significant role in the first team. We have serious issues that need to be addressed here as I feel we were exceptionally fortunate to have qualified for the Champions League as we had to depend on a Glenavon collapse to have a chance. Going forward, I wouldn't want to have to depend on such a circumstance again and would much rather have our destiny in our hands. The main problem we have is that we just aren't consistent enough and I needed to look into the reasons why. After some analysis I came to the conclusion that we didn't score enough goals and if we could have done so most of those draws would have been converted to wins which would have put us right into the title battle. Given we were 10 points shy of Linfield at the season end if we would have converted half those draws into wins we would have won the title.

The next point of analysis I looked into was why we didn't score enough goals. Part of the reason was that we suffered some injuries which meant that some of our players didn't play as many games but even still our main goalscorers of last season still played a significant amount of games. Then I looked at whether it was a tactical issue and whether I needed to make some changes but then thought against it given that the tactic worked last season so why with better players would it be performing worse?

Then something occurred to me after watching some match footage and looking back at some of the more prolific strikers I had earlier in the save. There was one common thread between all the most prolific strikers I've had and that was they had very few (if any) PPMs. Then I thought to myself, could it be that some of the PPMs of my players that I expect to get the majority of my goals be proving detrimental? The answer I found was yes. Looking at some of my players and some of the PPMs they have:

Ruiz - ST - Runs with Ball Down Left - This isn't good for a player I expect to play as my AF in the STCR position. If he is running to the left flank he isn't going to be where I need him on the pitch. As a result, he didn't score many goals and the goals he did score mainly came when I played him in the STCL position as my DLF(S) which he isn't suited to.

Kane - ST - Runs With Ball Down Right - Again, I don't want him doing that as I have a winger to do that. I'm not sure whether these PPMs were taught to Ruiz and Kane as they were expected to play in a 4-3-3 but in a 4-4-2 they are highly detrimental.

Ferguson - ST - Plays With Back To Goal - This wouldn't be so bad if I wanted him to play as my DLF(S) but he doesn't have good attributes for that role and is generally more suited to the AF role which means that again is damaging to his ability to carry out what I need from him in the team.

Armstrong - ST - Cuts Inside From Left Wing - A great trait for an Inside Forward to have but an awful trait for a player I want to play as a DLF(S).

Murray - MR - Runs With Ball Through Centre - Even though he did score a lot of goals in the previous season this isn't a good PPM to have as after some analysis I found the team had no width what so ever which probably goes some way to explaining why we found it so difficult to beat teams which set up ultra defensively against us.

Kerr - DL - Stays Back At All Times - This is a terrible PPM to have for a player that I expect to provide our width on the left flank and get forward at every possible opportunity.

I think it's clear that I need to move some players on and bring in some players which have no PPMs. If I can't manage that then I should at least seek players with PPMs which aren't detrimental to the role I expect them to play in the team (for e.g. Moreno's Argues With Officials PPM which while undesirable doesn't impact the way I want him to contribute on the pitch). That way I can get out of my players what I need from them in a 4-4-2 and avoid them regularly attempting actions on the pitch which reduce the effectiveness of our attacks. On a more positive note, Dougherty MC is now considered a wonderkid which is good to see.

Transfers - I didn't really want to sell Yeates MC but the money on offer from Crystal Palace was just too much to turn down so I accepted their bid. Chevat MC wanted a new challenge and given his age I felt it was best to move him on also. I was pleased to make a profit on Durand ST and Easton ST didn't look to have the potential needed to ever break into the first team so was sold. I like to have a HG GK and when I saw that Holden was available I snapped him up. He was a bit expensive but looking at his value now makes it look like a good investment. Axinciuc DR looks a good player with plenty of potential although I'm mystified why his value has remained exactly the same from when I bought him. Mathie MC looks a strong defensive minded midfielder and the price was decent. Sylla DC had a good debut season and was solid at the back, Illa MC was great and although he didn't score many goals when he did they were usually spectacular. I think I may have overspent on Perrot MC and looking back I don't really feel we needed him. If I could rewind I wouldn't have signed him but the team put a lot of pressure on me to find a replacement for Yeates MC so perhaps that fed into my decision to buy him. Finally, Rafferty MR was brought in as the replacement for an aging Murray and to rotate with Moreno.

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Average Rating: 7.57
He suffered some injuries this season but overall I was happy with his contribution. Hopefully, he can stay healthy next season and play more games as he is going to need to given Martinovic looks to be on the decline.
 
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Average Rating: 7.36
The Colombian has a lot of potential and we definitely played a lot better with him in the side. He was the joint top scorer which is good although that probably says more about how woeful our strikers are in front of goal than anything else. If he could produce similar numbers next season I will be very pleased.
 
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Finances - Add another ~£11M to the balance from CL pool money and it's clear to see that even with investment into expanding the stadium that we are in a comfortable financial situation. I'd like to maintain this and therefore it's imperative that we manage to navigate our way to the group stages next season. The club now owes £49M in loans with £1.2M payable each month to service them. This is fine as our income is improving well and we've started to generate good money from the transfer market also which should secure both our short term and long term future simultaneously.

Facilities - When the expansion is complete we will have a ground with a capacity in excess of 51,000 which should make a huge difference to our income. The potential expansion capacity is 65,000 and I'd like to get to that figure as soon as possible but feel that is going to cost a huge amount of money so we are going to need to build the bank balance even more and that's why it's vital that we start making strides in the Champions League. I need to work on the other facilities but I think I'll focus on just the stadium for now with any spare money going on squad building.

Youth Intake - Byrne DR and Fleming MC look decent but the rest don't. Anyone with a potential of 1 gold star or more was signed while the rest were let go.

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League Reputation - The gap to Scotland narrowed slightly but is still significant. Here's how the other N. Irish teams did in Europe.
 
Linfield lost 2-1 on aggregate to Bayer Leverkusen in Europa League 2nd Knockout Round (They should have got out of their Champions League group but some sloppy dropped points cost them, I think they should have done better against the Germans also but faltered)
Larne lost 4-1 on aggregate to FC Basel in 4th Qualifying Round of the Europa League (They seem to keep failing at that stage of qualification which must be disheartening for them)
Glenavon lost 4-1 on aggregate to Hoffenheim in Europa League 2nd Knockout Round (The German teams ended our hopes in the Europa League but overall a good campaign for them)
Coleraine lost 4-0 on aggregate to AC Milan in Europa League 3rd Qualifying Round (Another heavy defeat for a N. Irish team in Europe)
 
Club Domestic Reputation - Why aren't the likes of Glenavon investing in their club and improving their infrastructure. They made a player sale this year for over £25M but still insist on playing in a ground that can hold only just over 4,000 spectators. A complete lack of ambition from their board and once we get into our stride domestically they can say bye to any hopes of Champions League money.
 
Club European Reputation - We need to maintain having 2 N. Irish teams in the top 25 and adding to that number.
 
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Glentoran F.C.

SEASON 2076 / 2077

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Last season was a bit of disappointment as we struggled to a 2nd placed finish in the DBP. I'm hoping that a rejuvenation of the squad will provide the impetus to close the gap on Linfield and challenge for the title. It's vital that we also qualify for the group stages of the Champions League and I'd be happy to repeat our performance of the last two seasons in Europe.

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League Table - It went all the way to the wire but a final day win allowed us to clinch it. I hoped that the change in personnel in the squad would enable us to score more goals and it did well for us as we managed to score 16 more goals than last season while also conceding 2 less which helped us to avoid a lot of unnecessary dropped points. Cliftonville will be joining us next season which sees the return of another Belfast based club which should boost attendances, 

UEFA Champions League - This was an incredible campaign which I never thought we would be capable of having. Our route to the group stage was surprisingly straight forward and more satisfying for knocking out Scottish giants Rangers who we are competing with in the nation coefficient points rankings. The group stage was a lot trickier but I was very pleased with how we performed as we managed to score 11 goals in 6 games and finish 2nd with the 3-1 win over Bayern Munich being the highlight. I was happy when we drew Guingamp in the 1st Knockout Round as we could have drawn a much tougher opponent but they still made life difficult for us. I think the clean sheet in the home leg and having a goal lead definitely gave us the psychological advantage going to France which made them come out rather cautiously in the 2nd leg knowing that the concession of a goal would mean they needed to score 3. It was that fear which swung the tie in our favour and allowed us to get a well deserved draw and progression into the quarter finals.

Now we moved into uncharted territory for Frank but once again the draw was rather kind pitting us up against Lazio. After going 2-0 up in Rome I was in dreamland but then they made a stunning comeback and could have even won the game in the end. A 2-2 draw was a good result given the circumstances and playing in front of our own fans in the 2nd leg seemed to boost us as we stormed to a win. Then came the most difficult opposition of the run so far, Chelsea. Therefore it came as a complete shock to me how easily we beat them in both legs to book our place in the final in Amsterdam. After getting this far I would have been satisfied to finish runners up given our injuries and the lack of fitness of some our returning players but I still felt we had a good chance of competing with them. What followed was one of the dullest finals I've ever seen in stark contrast to his fathers first win with a 4-3 thriller. All that matters is the result and whether it be a 1-0 or a 4-3 as long as you end up on the right side of the scoreline you can satisfied. This was completely unexpected and just goes to show the impact of what having decent strikers can do for a team. A brilliant outcome and given there are still improvements that can be made to the squad, the start of what I'm hoping could become a dominant period in Europe for the Glens.

Domestic Cups - The Co. Antrim Shield win was nice but our performances in the rest of the cups was poor. At least our run in the Co. Antrim Shield gave Championship sides Donegal Celtic and Moyola Park a nice injection of cash although I would have liked to have done that for some other lower league clubs also but we drew the rest away from home.

Reserves - A decent season from them to finish runners up in the league and go so deep in both cup competitions. It's also pleasing to see the rise in attendances we're managing in the cups as that could become a decent money feed for the lower league clubs also.

Under 18s - They can't seem to gain any traction in Europe and this was a particularly poor season from them in the UEFA Youth League, they didn't pull up any trees domestically either.

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Squad - The squad has been completely transformed over the last pair of transfer windows. I managed to move on the majority of players with undesirable PPMs and bring in a whole host of young talent without detrimental PPMs for the role I expect them to play in the team. The result was spectacular as it not only allowed us to score a load more goals but enabled us to overachieve so dramatically in Europe. I'm not finished yet though as there are still areas of weakness which need to be addressed if I'm going to build a squad capable of dominating the Champions League. I feel that work needs to be done on the wide areas especially in the left midfield and I would really like to bring in a world class central defender.

Transfers - There were no big sales this time around but I did manage to largely get rid of everyone I wanted. Armstrong ST wanted to leave and the offer from Glenavon was excellent. Kerr DL and Murray MR were another 2 I wanted to get rid of and when they both came to me suggesting that they had achieved all they could at the club and wanted to move on I was delighted to ship them on for what I considered to be huge fees. George DR had largely become a reserve player so I was delighted to make a profit on him.

Two important free transfers not shown in the screenshot were Magdic ST and Giordano ST who both were sensational in their debut seasons. Ike DL was a decent rotation option with a reasonable amount of untapped potential. Goiria ST was a superb signing and the wonderkid was a perfect option to rotate with Magdic. Sullivan DC was a decently priced rotation option to add depth. Castro ML was also a fine signing and has largely usurped Gaines for his spot in the side contributing the most assists in the team. Then we come to Eduardo DC who has to go down as one of my best buys yet. Without him, we wouldn't have stood a chance of getting past the 1st Knockout Round of the Champions League let alone winning it, such was his contribution to the team. There was a period of the knockout stage where I was forced to play a reserve GK owing to an injury to Holden and he offered superb protection for him.

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Average Rating: 7.54
You may ask why I've awarded this to him, wasn't he one of the players that I wanted to get rid of that had undesirable PPMs? In some respects yes but then I thought about it a bit more and decided to keep him. He doesn't have the best attributes for a DLF(S) of that there is no doubt but he's remarkably consistent and doesn't mind playing in big games. All of which should have gone into my calculation of his worth and my faith in him has been suitably rewarded with the highest average rating in the squad. I think he'll be sticking around for a while longer and is a good rotation option to have.
 
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Average Rating: 7.34
It's beginning to look like the decision to sell Yeates MC was a good one as it has given this lad an opportunity to develop. He has become a star for us and started every game in the Champions League putting in a string of good performances. The vultures are circling which is fine provided they are willing to cough up a similar sum to what I received for Yeates.
 
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Finances - Another comfortable balance which was bolstered further when the board decided to pump in another £15.25M after the screenshot was taken. The debt burden was increased as I managed to convince the board to expand the stadium once again but at least some of the older debts are getting close to maturing now which should reduce some of our monthly repayments. I never thought I'd be in this situation but I actually think the finances have improved so significantly that I can both invest in the squad and improve the infrastructure of the club simultaneously which should speed the development of the club immensely.

Facilities - A hefty expansion this time which will take the capacity to over 58,000. I think once this expansion is complete the next expansion will take the capacity close or to the full 65,000 which will be huge for the development of the nation. Having two clubs with such huge stadiums will be massively beneficial to the other smaller teams in the cups. I also decided to invest in the data analysis, youth and training facilities.

Youth Intake - One clear standout player in O'Connor DL who I have already granted a debut to in the first team owing to some injuries and he did quite well and didn't look out of place. It'll be interesting to see how he develops and there is definitely the opportunity for him to break through into the first team if he can improve. Everyone with at least 1 gold star was signed with the rest leaving after their trial period.

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League Reputation - I never thought I'd ever manage it but we actually overtook Scotland which gave us this message.
 
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A brilliant result and if we can have both Linfield and Glentoran appearing in the group stages of the Champions League every year and getting through I think we will have a far better chance of sustaining it for longer. Here's how the other N. Irish teams did in Europe.
 
Linfield lost 2-0 on aggregate to Inter in Europa League 1st Knockout Round (I thought they might be capable of progressing from their Champions League group but evidently not with a hammering to Hibernian putting an end to that dream, Inter are a good side but they should have been able to score against them at least)
Larne lost 6-2 on aggregate to Aberdeen in 4th Qualifying Round of the Europa League (It's like groundhog day every single season for them now, they have to find some way of getting over this hump)
Glenavon lost 3-1 on aggregate to FC Nantes in Europa League 1st Knockout Round (Fair enough, they are pretty tough to beat as we discovered in our Champions League group)
Coleraine lost 4-0 on aggregate to CSKA Moscow in Europa League 3rd Qualifying Round (Same result, same round, different opponent)
 
Club Domestic Reputation - Hopefully, the increase in availability of Champions League places might help a team like Glenavon to get together enough money to start investing significantly in their infrastructure. Glenavon, Coleraine, Ballymena United, Larne and Lisburn Distillery are all in need of new stadiums. The country needs more than just 2 teams doing well in Europe if it is to stand a chance of progressing further up the rankings.
 
Club European Reputation - At last that dreadful year will disappear of the coefficients and we can start really surging up the table. Shame to see Linfield fall behind us but they should be more than capable of ticking over that coefficient from here on out.
 
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Edited by pheelf

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