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Mandy42

[FM19] Blue is the colour. For a couple of seasons at least!

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Hi everyone.

I'm an unpublished author who suffers frequently with writers block, when I suffer with writers block I play football manager (no I've not got through 10 seasons yet!) I'm sat here at work on my night shift yet again unable to coax any words out for my novel. A thought hit me, is there a place where people write about FM, basically can I combine my two passions together (because regaling my wife, friend and in laws regarding my management success does not seem to interest them!)

The answer it appears is yes, there aren't just career threads but a fiction forum as well! Fantastic. I intend to keep my fictional writing to my novel so I've chosen this forum to entertain you all with the ups and downs of my management career.

I have come to this decision later than is maybe conventional? I am at the start of my 2nd season, but the journey I went on in my first season was so enjoyable (which inspired me to want to write about it) that I will treat you to a trip back through time.

This will either get my creative juices flowing and be a roaring success, or turn out to be frustrating procrastination and die in a fire.

Is your breath as bated as mine?

 

 

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My father has been a life long Chelsea supporter, which a lot of people find strange with him being born and raised in West Yorkshire. That is why the first save I ever make when I get a new iteration of the game is Chelsea, (my wife and her parents support Norwich, so a Norwich save is likely to be forth coming soon).

So you find me in the early summer of 2018 taking control of Chelsea and poor Maurizio Sarri chain smoking his way to Sevilla instead. The board demand the following of me:

Play attacking and possession football

Qualify for the Champions league

Reach the final of the FA cup

Reach the final of the Europa League

They don't care about the Community shield or the Carabao cup.

Let the games begin!

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As a Chelsea fan I’ll be following with high expectations! 

Dont let us down :lol:

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14 hours ago, andychar said:

As a Chelsea fan I’ll be following with high expectations! 

Dont let us down :lol:

Couple of things to apologize for before we go much further. I will try to not let you down, but try not to cry as and when I cash in on your club hero!

Secondly, as I only decided to start writing this after I had completed my 1st season I've only been able to retrospectively collect a limited amount of screenshots compared with what I have seen on other threads. So hopefully my 1st season will wet the appetite (yours and mine) and I can give a fully detailed account (if I keep my job) through my 2nd season.

And finally.... I need to apologize for this picture. 

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This is my attempt at turning a web camera image into myself as a manager! My wife said she could "See a resemblance" to which i replied "Why the hell did you marry me then!"

I am blaming the poor graphics on the laptop for the haunting look.

Also my clothing choices /  colours are my wife's 1st and last contribution to my career, she is proud of me as long as I am dressed smartly, no tracksuits for me!

 

profile.thumb.jpg.5451727d04c432ca4d8a3cace63eb8b9.jpg 

This is my profile, I didn't spend too long thinking about it, as with not stepping foot out of England for my 1st save I also took the easy option and went for the highest license / exposure I could get. Apparently I'm motivating, tactical and have player knowledge, I completely forget stacking it like that!

Finally I quite like that David Wagner likes me and Pep Guardiola does not, as the feelings are rather mutual!

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15 hours ago, andychar said:

As a Chelsea fan I’ll be following with high expectations! 

Dont let us down :lol:

 

3 minutes ago, Santa Claus said:

Chelsea supporter, following this :thup:

Thank you both :) feeling the pressure already ;)

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Historically I've always been a manager who has borrowed popular tactics from the steam workshop and gone from there. But as the new tactical interface in 2019 was wonderfully shiny and alluring I thought I would give it a go.

Not being that confident, or brave I figured why rock the apple cart too much, the club want me to play possession and attacking football and Sarriball (how is Sevilla by the way Maurizio?) is about keeping possession and attacking with it I figured I would try a 4-3-3 (or as FM calls it a 4-1-4-1 DM) but its flaming 4-3-3. With regards to tactical style, I can't say I was overly enamored with tiki-taka I hold a fear it can quickly fall into possession as a form of defense, holding onto the ball and not doing a lot with it. However I didn't really see a better option, I ruled out the vertical tiki-taka option as in my mind I saw that as David Luiz spraying balls forward (And I dispise David Luiz, he is the devils play thing) and completely bypassing my fantastically talented midfield of Jorginho / Fabregas  / Kante / Kovacic, maybe Ross Barkley (but I was withholding judgement on putting him in the fantastically talented bracket).

I also decided to pick two other formations to practice and employ on a more situational basis. I picked a 5-3-2 counter attack set up, to hopefully give me an option to close out games, and a 4-2-4 wing play attacking tactic that gave me the option to open it up, get overlaps and crosses into the box for both Giroud and Morata to go and compete for.

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 The next issue I had going into pre-season training and games was the fact we were coming off the back of a world cup and the majority of pre season would go by without the majority of what would potentially by my 1st team.

Hazard, Giroud, Kante, Kovacic, Barkley, Loftus-Cheek, Cahill, and for some reason Fabregas (who I seem to remember sitting in a studio during the world cup) would not be returning from there holidays until the week before, or just after the Community Shield. 

Pre Season had been decided for me, I decided to play my U23 squad to get a look at the whole team, something else I don't always do! my other fixtures were:

De Graafschap Away

FC Den Bosch Away

N.E.C Away

VVV-Venlo Away

PEC Zwolle Away

SV Werder Away

Schalke 04 Away

Inter Home

 

Casting my eyes over the squad I decide:

Goalkeepers:  Kepa Arrizabalaga is definitely my stand out 1st choice, "Big" Willy Caballero (yes I am that childish sometimes) will be backup and Robert Green can cut his teeth and maintain his fitness in the Europa League.

Defenders: I am happy with Marcus Alonso / Emerson / Cesar Azpilicueta and Davide "Frank" Zappacosta (I doubt I am the only person who has created that nickname for him) as my fullbacks come wingbacks. However Victor Moses doesn't easily fit into my formation as FM has him more down as a winger and unsuited to playing an overly defensive role

Centrally I have the ageing duo of Gary Cahill and David Luiz, the former being my captain, and I hope he is happy to be captain from the bench the majority of the season. The later I hate, I might utilize him as a holding / defensive midfield player or as a rotation player at the back but he's a liability in my eyes and I have no clue what Sarri see's in him. More positively I have Antonio Rudiger and Andreas Christensen who I intend to be my long term partnership. Ethan Ampadu does not look ready, again he might be able to sit as a holding midfield role in easier / less important games so I don't want to loan him out but he will not be in the 1st team this season. I put my scouts to work looking for replacements for my two old center backs and move into midfield.

 

Central midfield: Jorginho is the stand out choice for the deep lying playmaker role, the only issue is he can't play every game all season and there is not another realistic fit in the team. Instead of going looking in the transfer market (we have maybe £40 million available at the start) I figure I can rotate Kante / Luiz / Ampadu into that position as a ball winning midfielder as the situation dictates.

Interestingly Kante does not do that well in that position, only getting a yellow half circle, where as when I move him forward to his Sarri position and give him a box to box midfielder role, he loves it and gets a green circle full of love. Danny Drinkwater seems next in line to understudy at this position mainly due to his affinity with the box to box role.

The Mezzala (I'd never heard of it) is a role that apparently Kovacic / Barkley and Fabregas all are able to play to some degree. Unfortunately Loftus-Cheek cannot (but more on that later)

Left wing is Eden Hazard all day long (and night as well) with Pedro / Willian and Callum Hudson-Odoi rotating in for him and filling in the other wide position

Up front. Morata to start and hope he fairs better than in real life, with Giroud an impact sub from the bench, Morata to play as an Advanced forward, Giroud as a Target man.

 

 

 

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When it comes to transfers I take some inspiration from my scouting department, and some from the BBC gossip column I can access on my phone through their app.

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I did some messing around with the wage budget to squeeze out the extra 5 or so mil I needed to sign both of them. Chris Mepham is 20, Welsh, had 3.5 to 4.5 star potential and his major bonus is  the fact he isn't David Luiz.

Matthijs de Ligt is well Matthijs de Ligt, he has huge potential and is also not David Luiz.

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Nothing too radical for the players out to start my reign. But that is where the problems start.  As I indicated I am not that confident or brave at this point, I worry a lot, and I will tell you I worry a lot! Thus I have Gianfranco Zola provide opposition instructions, I cast my eye over training and will be responsible for individual training in the 1st team, but the day to day he runs. The U23 and U19 teams are run by their respective managers. He also provides me with insight into backroom / training / contracts / transfers, basically most things on a fortnightly basis.

So Zola comes to me and recommends that Ruben Loftus-Cheek should be retrained as a Striker in order to complement his adaptability. I take a look at the fact that there isn't really a space for him in my primary formation, he can play the shadow striker role in my 5-3-2 formation very well but thats not going to be on a regular basis. I also factor in that I only really have 2 out and out strikers and I have spent all of my transfer money, so I give the go ahead and Ruben's role is changed and he gets put in the U23 squad to work on his new role. (We will continue to come back to this)

So I have just made my first signing, I am quite happy with him, thinking down the line I might have Ryan Giggs' 1st choice Welsh centre back pairing for the next decade in Chris Mepham and Ethan Ampadu, I'm pretty pumped, I went for my 1st target and I got him "Ave it!"

However my board tell me they think he's a poor piece of business and Zola piles more pressure on by telling me he doesn't think he has what it takes to play in the 1st team. Of course he doesn't have what it takes to play in the 1st team he's 20 years old! I am willing to put up with David Luiz for a little while yet!

However I am new in the job, and the double team of negative feedback leads to this:

melpham.thumb.jpg.38a0e3a55cbe748cd6918f1288acd97d.jpg

Exactly a month after I sign him I loan him out to the Championship.

Pre season is in full swing and I am quietly happy with our start, rotating U23 and squad players through the games to fill gaps left by players still on holiday from the world cup. As they slowly begin to drip back into the squad they go into the 1st team to get their fitness up. I am still not happy that I will be without some of my biggest names all the way up until after the Community shield but that I guess is just tough!

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Unbeaten through June, but as I said earlier I worry a lot, I worry we haven't kept a clean sheet. I understand we are affiliated with Vitesse but don't feel that playing small clubs in Holland has given me the most challenging start to pre season. Especially when we move onto Germany and I suffer back to back draws against stronger but still not overly strong opposition. Inter in August and then Man City in the Community shield before the season starts look a lot more daunting now.

Edited by Mandy42
added something I forgot

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August see's us get into the season proper. 

Final friendly against Inter [Home]

Man City in the Community shield [Neutral]

Burnley [Home]

Cardiff [Away]

Arsenal [Home]

Huddersfield [Away]

All in the League, so 4 easy games to kick off the campaign ;) (only kidding, though I am glad the Arsenal game is at home)

 

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Perfect Month!! I didn't quite believe it. Starting with the 2-0 at home to Inter, the biggest team I had played by far to this point, I went into the domestic campaign feeling a bit more upbeat.

However my late returning world cup stars were still rustier than I would like. Against Man City my midfield of Jorginho / Drinkwater and Barkley felt very cobbled together, and while Hudson-Odoi and Morata had shone in preseason I had my reservations whether they could produce. 

I also wonder (looking back) how daunted I was in comparing clubs to their real life achievements. At Wembley we were 1-0 down after 20 minutes, and I remember thinking "well we only lost 1-0 to them last season" in real life, and I considered that to be a relatively good result. The problem was we were being absolutely mullered! hanging on, last ditch tackles going out for corners, balls grazing the bar every 30 seconds. Then in added time at the end of the 1st half we got our 1st chance. Ross Barkley with a free kick, goes for goal and it is a gnats ball sack away from being completely over the line. I'm out of my chair but quickly back in it again as  the video replay shows it's not a goal. (I've yet to see a positive goal line technology replay)

Into the dressing room at half time, and for the 1st time I give them some Assertive "show me something else in the second half" treatment. I have been nice to them until now, congratulating them on wins, telling them preseason is all about fitness and performance and not really getting on their backs about conceding in all but one game and drawing two games I thought we should have won. They get fired up, all of them do, and they go out in the second half, I moved them from positive to balanced in the 1st half to try stop us being overrun, in the second I skip positive and go straight to attacking and they tear Man City a new one. We are level before the hour mark, so i reign us in back to positive, we go ahead somewhere around 70 minutes and that is when (after I've sat back down and stopped shouting) I begin to get cagey. We go back to balanced, then as Man City throw on a less than match fit Sergio Aguero in an attempt to get back into it and I go defensive from the 80th minute onward and very defensive from the 85th minute (told you I worried). 

In the league we score 11 and concede 2 in 4 games, I don't mind the Burnley goal, we were 5-0 up and the ref gave them a very soft penalty on 90 minutes. Arsenal I was so happy we won what was a very entertaining (nail biting) game that I didn't mind too much either. The Arsenal game was also Hazards 1st full game back, he played bit parts in the Burnley and Cardiff games as he was struggling to develop match sharpness. He scored twice against Arsenal but then had to limp off injured :(. Arsenal were without Aubameyang as he was injured which begged the question how different it might have been with a full strength team.

Huddersfield parked the bus at the end of the month and I had to make a tactical change, switch to "hit early crosses" and "Whipped crosses" hoping that the Azpilicueta - Morata real life connection might appear. However with 20 minutes to go and him putting a few headers over the bar I lost my nerve and switched him for Giroud. 10 minutes later Giroud gets a towering header into the back of the net.  

Edited by Mandy42

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September saw 5 games crammed into the back end of the month as the 1st International break for the European International League began.

The Europa League group draw saw us pitted against:

Qarbag

Red Star

AZ

While the Carabao Cup had us draw Tottenham.

In the league we would play:

Watford [Home]

Man Utd [Away]

Crystal Palace [Away]

September also saw the beginning of a worrying trend. Hazard would regain fitness from the injury he sustained against Arsenal and be selected by Belgium for who he would have a blinder but get injured. Jose Mourinho would go watch him play for Belgium and declared him his major January transfer target. Hazard reacted well to this indicating he was pleased Jose came to watch him twice during the international break. Two weeks later I receive back an injured player who is happy someone came and watched him twice! I watch you every time you play! you silly man! 

 

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Jose had annoyed me, Hazard wasn't fit, but I picked them as the stand out must win game of the month, I played a decent side against Qarabag (I would have taken a younger / lesser side if we had been away from home) as I had expectations of reaching the Europa League final and had no intention of getting it wrong in the 1st game and having  to worry I would have to chase the group.

Unfortunately that meant that the Carabao Cup was simply the 3rd priority competition that week and I didn't pick a team that did the game justice or probably made the fans happy seen as we played rivals Tottenham. My mind had pretty much been made up as soon as the draw had been made, it was my intention to rotate in the cup and had hoped to draw a championship team.

A slight frustration, 3 clean sheets, 3 wins and giving Jose the spanking he deserves does not seem to be enough to win the manager of the month.

But we march on, maximum points after 7 games. 

 

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Welcome to the forums, man, and good luck!

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Into October, for the 2nd month in a row the International League cuts a 2 week swathe through the middle of the month, meaning two games at the beginning and 3 at the end.

We would play Red Star and AZ in the Europa League.

In the league:

Man City [Home]

Bournemouth [Away]

Tottenham [Home]

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Back to an unbeaten month, but not without its problems and drama!

Back in July when I signed Matthijs de Ligt I had to make him certain promises in order to get him to come and play for us (I overlooked the fact that signing for Chelsea should be enough for anyone). I told him that we would push to qualify for the champions league this season, push to win the league next season, and that I would play him off the bench as much as possible throughout the year.

He had played in the Tottenham Carabao cup defeat as, although he was the future of my defense he was currently not yet a superstar and he didn't cover himself in glory in that game. Against Arsenal being 3-0 up i brought him on and him making a mistake (getting caught under the ball) led to Arsenals goal. At 0-0 with Man City going into the last half hour Toni Rudiger signals he needs to come off injured, I had both Cahill and de Ligt on the bench, but I didn't trust Gary's complete lack of pace against a Man City attack so I plumped for de Ligt. This was Hazards 1st game back after injury away with Belgium and he scored a fantastic solo goal to eventually give us the win. But de Ligt's defensive performance had me going grey for that final half hour. Both Sane and Aguero had him on toast multiple times, only fantastic saves from Kepa and the post (twice) maintained our clean sheet. By the end of the game I was wondering if my "wonderkid" was going to be a flop.

The October International League saw a repeat of September, Hazard went away, played amazing, got injured, Jose watched him and Hazard loved it. This time he was quoted as being "desperate" to get the move to happen, and couldn't believe Jose had watched him 4 times. I wanted to find the "We thrashed the team you wanted to sign for 3-0 only a month ago why would you want to sign for them" conversation option, but strangely it wasn't there.

Bournemouth away without Hazard was the 1st game we struggled to perform, they looked good on the break, we were doing a lot of shooting on sight and having shots blocked or deflected for corners. Eventually a Danny Drinkwater rocket gave us the points.

Tottenham at home, I played a full strength team, there league form was horrendous and there only positive result had been against us in the Carabao cup. I let the chains off, going Attacking from the start and keeping it there all the 1st half. We came in 2-0 up and I changed to the 5-3-2 formation. It killed off the game and there were no second half highlights.

Three more wins in the league, maximum 30 points from 30, 7 league games without conceding a goal, but nope I wasn't manager of the month for October either. 

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2 minutes ago, ManUtd1 said:

Welcome to the forums, man, and good luck!

Thank you! glad to be here :)

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November, last round of the International League until the finals next year. 3 games before the break, 2 after.

Leicester [Away]

Wolves [Away]

Southampton [Away]

in the league

AZ and Qarabag in the Europa League.

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Another unbeaten month, this management life is a breeze you might think. No! I'm sweating bullets! Hazard played a cameo against AZ where he scored twice, however he wasn't sharp enough to play both then and against Wolves. Thus in both games, Leicester and Wolves we struggled to score, another Drinkwater boomer saw off his old club and a Kante edge of the area shot was enough to put us past Wolves. However that seemed to be a worrying trend of these games, the shoot on sight instruction meant that nearly every member of my midfield would pull the trigger at the slightest provocation. Only Jorginho seemed immune. The goals looked fantastic when they went in, however the majority of the chances were either blocked or sailed over the bar into the crowd.

We went behind to AZ and they made it to half time 1-0 up, I usually do not give very negative team talks away from home, but we had been **** poor and once again I rolled out the Assertive "show me something else" I just managed to stop it being aggressive. My real frustration at this point was that AZ had to this point in the competition, matched our results exactly, being even on goal difference and having drawn with them at home they sat above us simply due to alphabetical order. Not getting the win at home had been bad enough, to lose away would have been unthinkable.

The international break saw Hazard play fantastically for Belgium, amazingly he stayed fit, which made Jose rave about him even more, he came back still "desperate" to get the move done. Marouane Fellaini pitched in 1 Belgian to another telling Hazard he simply had to make the move!

I don't know if I had become resigned to the fact he would leave in January, but I took stock of his late return from holiday, three injuries in the opening 4 months of the season, the fact that all the tactical advice coming from my backroom staff was pushing me to focus play down the middle as that was where we were at our strongest. Thus even in the games he had featured in, yes he had scored a few goals but he wasn't flourishing in our current formation and we were 12 wins from 12. Finally it was reported Man Utd were willing to pay £96 million for him, which wasn't to be sniffed at either.

The above musings about Hazard and the fact Southampton were bottom of the table led to me leaving him out of the match day squad to play them. 2-0 up at half time we were coasting, between the 60 and 70 minute mark is usually where I make substitutions based on fatigue or match rating, we were still comfortable, unlucky to not have scored more as we were still creating chances. I switched the system to 5-3-2 to see out the game much like we had against Tottenham. Couple of minutes after the changes they had pulled a goal back. I wasn't overly worried but I went from balanced (the default attitude for this formation) to defensive on 85 minutes. On 87 minutes an absolute screamer from Romeu from the edge of the area pulled them level. Shane Long had a goal (correctly) ruled out for offside on 92 minutes. When the final whistle went I was a very thankful! Having what felt like just ripped their heads off 2 weeks earlier in Holland led me to not do it again this time, we were still undefeated and I wasn't stupid enough to think we would claim maximum points all season, I didn't say anything to them, for the 1st time I just left them sat there to contemplate my silence.

 

Besides, It could have been going worse!

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I took this on my phone and Whatsapped it to my brother in law in sheer joy when I read it. Little did I know it would fit perfectly into this thread :D

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Pep the Bald being sacked is always cause for celebration.

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December, that hallowed month in England when not only is there more football crammed in than stuffing in the turkey, but it feels like the whole rest of the football world is watching, no winter break here as we have 8 games to fit in.

Only Red Star left to play in the Europa League. After beating AZ in the last game I was guaranteed to qualify and could play whoever I liked really in the team.

In the league it was a different matter.

Brighton [Home]

West Ham [Away]

Fulham [Home]

Liverpool [Away]

Burnley [Away]

Newcastle [Away]

Everton [Home]

Brighton / Fulham  and Everton were at the bottom end of the table, Marco Silva dangerously close to being sacked. Newcastle sat 5th capitalising on Tottenham having absolutely no form in the league and Mauricio Pochettino feeling the pressure. Liverpool was the standout tie though, they were my closest competition in the league, and I would not play them at home till the last month of the season. Besides, who doesn't get shivers about a trip to Anfield.

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Let us get 1 thing out of the way straight away. I DID win the manager of the month award for December, If I had not I might have gone on vacation in protest.

I wasn't happy to concede in every game but the last. But this made it a fantastic end to the year, easily clear top of the league having won my last 8 in a row.

The Red Star game stands out as we scored 5 goals with me playing Ruben Loftus-Cheek in a "Unconvincing" Advanced Forward position and Daishawn Redan a very promising 17 year old Dutch striker who had been tearing it up in the U19 team. They scored 3 of the goals between them and I was happy. Though my backroom staff still informed me that Ruben needed a lot more match practice in order to be proficient in this role. They also informed me now, 5 months after they suggested he should be trained as a striker, that he could easily be trained into a central midfielder (which would make him eligible to fit into my current formation.

The real bonus of getting to play my reserve team in the Europa League final game was that 3 days later I could roll out a fully rested first team to go to Anfield. Frustratingly there is little I remember about the details of this game, except the fact I spent most of it with my jaw hanging open. We were sensational, Liverpool hardly laid a glove on us the entire game. They were missing Roberto Firmino who was  their current top scorer but still we put them well and truly to the sword.

The Liverpool result, and the month as a whole was the first time I went from playing down our unbeaten run to telling journalists I wanted to keep it going as long as possible. I also got offered a 2 year contract extension that I gobbled up, and I was offered to re-evaluate my end of season expectations, I kept this last bit low key, indicating that I still wanted the minimum expectation to be champions league qualification. I had the formation of a supreme master plan, and to have any hope of pulling it off I had to be seen to be overachieving not just simply living up to expectation.

The last annoyance from the end of the year was, you guessed it Eden Hazard. Before December if forced into a must decide this second choice, I would have sold him, the money on offer related to his performances to date was just too much. However in December he pulled in four player of the match performances in a row (from the Liverpool game onwards) and scored 8 goals. My inside forwards (or wingers) seemed to be playing their own little game between themselves. Crosses would bypass the forward and the opposite winger would be the one having chances on goal. Hazard gobbled these up, meaning I went from being ok with him leaving to being worried if he demanded to leave.

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If December is the hallowed month that threatens to separate the men from the boys, January is just horrible. Managers get released into the new year like a rabid pack of wild dogs, full of eagerness at using up the transfer money they have been staring at since the end of July. But also full of fear, that their stars will be stolen, the players they did not manage well or who are simply unreasonable are swept out from under them, that the stable foundations they have established will be eroded or the salvation they hope will turn there season around is snatched up by a rival. January is a time of hope and fear, but mainly ridiculously over priced transfers.

Almost as an afterthought there is actually some football to play this month. The FA cup 3rd round gets under way, we have drawn Burnley, again it's not the selfish easy draw to fully rotate my squad, but its not Tottenham in the Carabao, and if I beat them, there is the 4th round to play at the end of the month.

I also play 

Cardiff [Home]

Arsenal [Away]

Huddersfield [Home]

Watford [Away]

in the league. 

 What follows is a mix of results and transfers which might well not only be season but era defining.

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You are right, not the most awe inspiring start to a "season defining" month, but chronological order dictates he goes 1st!

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We didn't play well against Cardiff, they defended well, I don't think Victor would have saved us, he wanted to go and unfortunately I had no real role for him at the club. Only our 2nd draw of the season, not the best start to the new year.

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There he is, Jose came for him and he made it clear he wanted to leave. I decided the transfer fee, him having only an effect on the team for really one month of the season, and the potential negatives on the squads harmony if I forced him to stay meant I had to let him go.

He was also my 1st brick in the wall of the foundation of our new era. You see at the end of July when the transfer window closed, I had spent pretty much all our available money on bringing in two central defenders. Slowly as the months crept on we lost money month on month, wages and bonus' always out spent TV money and competition money, we were only in the Europa League and it just doesn't cut it. So I took a long look at my squad, and decided that if I could let Hazard go, that none of the others could stay purely on the merit of my real life sentimentality towards them, (even though David Luiz was screwed by my real life opinion).

Thus Cahill, Luiz, Pedro, Fabregas, Giroud, all were potentially on the block. The basic rule was anyone over 30 on stupid money had to be controlled or culled as I did not feel I could rebuild if wages kept sucking up prize money instead of it being available to spend on the team.

That was another nail in the coffin of Hazard's Chelsea career, he bled new finances back into the club, gave me capital to turn the corner and able to spend in January to get the ball rolling. The risk was, he had to go to get the money, now I had 27 days to replace him.

David Luiz, of all people! came to my office  the day after I sold Hazard and told me he was worried I had sold our best player. No **** sherlock! Join the club! I told him he that Hazard had not wanted to stay, He didn't believe me, telling me I took the easy way out. I managed to remain calm and gave him a promise I would bring in 1st team reinforcements, which was an easy promise to make as it was exactly what I wanted to do with that money anway.

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Again we didn't play well, I refused to take it as an omen that Hazard leaving was the end to creative football at the club. Perhaps a bigger problem was that other clubs could smell there was blood in the water. Looking down the squad screen at the start of January pretty everyone had a dreaded "WNT" sign next to their name. Who was going to be next?

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I didn't really want to sell him, but again, the money was good, and he made it clear he would need considerable convincing to stay. I did not actually pursue it but I imagined "considerable convincing" to mean "show me the money" wages. Which as I stated above I was unwilling to pay.

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This was my 1st real transfer mistake, Chris Mepham was tearing it up in the championship and I was happy he was going to turn into the prospect I had hoped he would. However Guilherme Arana, for all his 5 star potential ability and very cheap price tag was as likely to get a work permit as Pele or Maradonna. The press took great pleasure in telling me this when they asked me about it the day after I signed him.

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This was by far the worst game of the season so far, I deserved to lose this game, and I mean I, not the team, the players were amazing, but I was poor. Alonso has gone, Emerson is injured and Guilherme Arana is possibly never going to play for the club. Azpilicueta is suspended for accumulation of cards, Willian has returned from injury but is only able to play at most 45 minutes. Hazard is gone, Pedro and Hudson-Odoi are not fit enough to play a full 90 minutes. This basically means that I cannot play my favoured 4-3-3 formation, I don't want to play my 4-2-4 formation away at the Emirates, basically I am left with 5-3-2 but I only have 1 1st team wing back in Zappacosta, I don't even remember who I played at left wingback some unfortunate scapegoat from the U23 team.

I tweaked the tactics to defend as narrow as possible basically accepting I would give up the wide areas defensively and pack the box to make it hard to break through. I played Kante and Luiz in front of the back 3 as an extra defensive screen. I told myself it was until half time, 60 minutes at the most.

What followed was the worst 45 minutes I had to endure the whole season, worse by far than the mullering in the 1st half of the Community shield. We created nothing, absolutely nothing, and they came close to scoring more times than I could remember. They came at us howling in their 4-2-3-1, slamming against us instilled with the fury of being the ones destined to shatter our invincible dream, while protecting their unique legacy all in the same killer blow.

At half time Zola wants me to tell them their performance is disappointing, hell I think they are gods! I pick the team talk that most resembles that sentiment and they go out for the second half. We progress to 60 minutes in much the same fashion me dreading every highlight. At 60 minutes I can't take anymore, but do I gamble two of my substitutions to switch the team from 5-3-2 to 4-3-3 instead of replacing like for like based on fatigue level. I ponder this till 65 minutes, but in those 5 minutes Arsenal hit the post twice, nerves shredding by the second I make the changes.

We generate our 1st chance 30 seconds after the change Willian beats his man and gets into the area and is rashly brought down by an Arsenal player who has obviously forgotten how to defend in the 65 minutes of dominance they have enjoyed. PENALTY! Morata steps up to take it, and it's saved. I don't need reminding that the minuscule Belgian (no not Hercule Poirot) the one I've sold to Man Utd would have been taking that penalty if he was still here.

The remaining 20 minutes are a ding dong affair which do nothing for my nerves but the neutral would love, we give as good as we get until in stoppage time we concede a penalty for handball against de Ligt. Kepa saves it, and when the final whistle goes I celebrate as though I've won, not just the game but the league right there.

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My supreme grand plan, which meant selling Eden Hazard to finance the 1st steps and to slowly reign in the salary structure basically meant replacing older high earning players with younger, cheaper better players, sounds simple really! Jadon Sancho was purchase number one of this "new model" and he had been my number 1 target replacement for Hazard, I'd had him deeply scouted and when the scout team confirmed what I thought (that he would be a good buy for us) I put the wheels in motion to turn Hazard into money, then turn that money into Sancho.

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From highs to lows, the old "send to affiliate to hope for a work permit" ploy, I am not holding my breath.

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Yet another poor post Hazard display, he was the difference when we played them away, the difference without him is we draw here instead of winning. That is 3 draws out of 3 in January in the league, 1 goal in the last 4 games in all competitions.

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That might by why I signed this gentleman, a 19 year old striker with more potential than both my current strikers put together. He fits  the younger, cheaper , better model (YCB like a JCB just not yellow or actually a JCB) and is very much a buy for the future, however I do feel like playing him this season if the goals continue to dry up.

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If Fiete Arp is decent business at £23M for his 5 star potential then £1.7M for the frenchman Georginio Rutter is unbelievable, he's 16 and has 5 star potential, he has YCB all over him and is for the far far future.

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This guy is coming in from Wolves on loan to help cover the problems at left back (until Emerson is fit again) I don't want to buy anyone as I am quite happy that Baba Rahman is returning from loan at the end of the season. My fans however are not pleased I have brought in a loan player rather than give a young prospect at the club a chance, despite none of the young prospects being good enough.

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The trend continues with us scoring in the cup, feels good to get some goals, which means I am happy enough to let conceding 2 slide.

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Less happy about conceding two again to Watford, I have little interest in developing a "we can score more than you can" attitude, especially as my strikers are not overly reliable, a lot of goals are coming from midfield rifle shots.

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Deadline day, and one of those young prospects who wasn't good enough to stand in at left back goes out on loan.

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Another ridiculously cheap deal for a promising talent, who also has the added benefit of being able to play in Jorginho's role, just one more nail in the coffin of David Luiz!

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My captain had come to me earlier in the month and told me he felt like he needed a new challenge, I guess anything would be more challenging than sitting on the bench most of the season and getting the odd game to keep him sharp enough to be useful. I told him that he was an amazing servant to the club and I couldn't stand in his way. He went where he wanted to and he apparently is "exceptionally close to me"

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NO TONI!! 

Another player who needed "considerable incentive" to stay, I almost buckled and offered him more money, but I stuck to my YCB principles and let him go out the door, even though the handball in the Arsenal game had refreshed my fears over de Ligt's potential.

The window closed, I had survived January, but the majority of the positive feeling that had come from winning every game in December had pretty much evaporated.

 

 

 

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Great read so far. Love the detail you are going into. 

Your real life hatred of Luiz takes me back to my refusals to play Ashley Cole when he first signed for us. It was Wayne Bridge all the way...quickly changed! 

KUTGW!

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February the month of love, the shortest month of the year, and thankfully the furthest away from the January transfer window it is possible to be! It also signals the start of the knock out phase of European competition, which I found out includes the Champions league, I thought it got cancelled the years Chelsea weren't in it!

So in the league I will play

Man Utd [Home]

Crystal Palace [Home]

Bournemouth [Home]

I have Slavia Prague in the Europa League and I have been given another pig of a draw in the FA cup which is Arsenal!

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Another unbeaten month, but my nerves (as always) were jangling.

Man Utd at home, I so wanted to be a repeat of the 3-0 we gave them at Old Trafford, but I feared a reversal with Hazard now playing for them, although he played on the left of a 4-4-2 which to me seemed like madness. Anyway he didn't score, and I resisted the urge to tell every player on our team to go out there and break his legs, but only just.

Palace at home was poor, I tried to resist the urge to think "champions find a way to win even when they are playing poorly" because I didn't think we had any chance of becoming champions. The media continued to ask game after game if we could keep this run going, having started saying I hoped it would continue back in December I didn't feel morale would benefit from me turning round and saying "we are too **** for it to go on much longer" less than 8 weeks later. But with every game I feared more and more we would be undone.

6 goals over two legs against Slavia Prague lightened my mood a little.

Arsenal in the FA cup was another ding dong affair which we finally scored midway through the second half, the weight of expectation in every competition (final in the FA cup, final in the Europa league, Champions league qualification from the league) was beginning to tell on me. I was still top, if not by much, a logical conclusion was that anything but a complete collapse and I would very likely still finish top 4. Thus if I wanted to achieve everything the board demanded again logically the league would be where I compromised. But my pride at being undefeated into February wouldn't let me do it, besides if I was going to oust the old expensive guard from Stamford Bridge at the end of the season I would need every bit of job security I could muster. What better way of getting it than over achieving and hanging on to win the league.

Bournemouth was another win typical of this period in the campaign, not really a good performance but we found a way to win and I was becoming more happy with just winning instead of how we were winning.

Edited by Mandy42

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Good work so far, fella! Even if the team is wrong 😉

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March, another 3 competition month with Olympique Marseille in the Europa League.

I just could not avoid other Premier league teams in the FA cup, with me drawing Tottenham in the 6th round.

In the league I also had to play

Tottenham [Away]

Leicester [Home]

Southampton [Home]

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Despite what turned out to be another month filled with wins this on paper at the start of the month was a real "squeaky bum" month. I had little fear of the Europa League games, I thought I would come through, and Leicester had required a Danny Drinkwater strike to get the points away from home, but they had not really threatened much so that was not a problem.

Tottenham twice in 1 month, the only team to beat me so far during the season, already having removed me from 1 cup competition, and Southampton, the team that came closest to beating me in the league, fighting back from 2-0 down and only being an offside flag away from sending me away without any points.

There was little for me to complain about this month, my two experienced strikers were still not giving me the goals I wanted from them. I threw Arp into the rotation and he scored 3 goals in three games. I played Giroud in the London derby games as I felt he would be better equipped to know what was required to play in a London derby. Morata started the Europa League games.

The 2nd leg away in Marseille was marred by both Azpilcueta and Emerson getting suspended for the 1st leg of the next round due to accumulation of yellow cards.

The FA cup 6th round game was epic, both sides having the lead, neither side ever being more than a goal in front. It came down to penalties, we scored all of ours, Harry Kane had his (and their 1st) penalty saved, which meant when we scored our final penalty we went through 5-3

Southampton dug in and fought well, but never looked like causing me the problems they did when I played them away, however they never looked like causing me those problems until the moment they cause the problems, thus I was just glad to get out of that game with a win.

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30 minutes ago, andychar said:

Great read so far. Love the detail you are going into. 

Your real life hatred of Luiz takes me back to my refusals to play Ashley Cole when he first signed for us. It was Wayne Bridge all the way...quickly changed! 

KUTGW!

Glad you are enjoying it, I am hoping to increase the detail level once I get caught up (can put in more screenshots) am seriously missing the week by week league table screenshots as I can't get them now I have moved into season 2.

4 minutes ago, Deisler26 said:

Good work so far, fella! Even if the team is wrong 😉

We can't all manage teams that nobody can pronounce ;) though glad you are enjoying it :D

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April, not a month for fools when it comes to football, 8 games again this month, just like December. However where the festive period is all about pressure in the premier league, April is all about no good performance going unpunished. So you are going well in multiple competitions, well then come April your going to get put through the ringer trying to juggle all of your commitments, priorities get tested unless you take the "JUST WIN BABY" approach as your humility has withered during the course of the season to the point where now you just want it all.

 

Into the semi finals of the FA cup the 4 teams left are Barnsley, Chelsea, Man City and West Ham. Following my domestic cup trend of only ever getting the toughest opponent in the draw we get Barnsley in the Semi final (only kidding!!) we play Man City.

We draw Lazio in the Quarter final of the Europa league with the 1st leg being at home.

In the league we have

Wolves [Away]

West Ham [Home]

Fulham [Away]

Brighton [Away]

Liverpool [Home]

We are near the end now, I fully expect the last game of the month at home to Liverpool to decide the league once and for all, if they don't win then we will be champions, there is a potential that we can be crowned before we play them but there form has been rock solid to the point I feel they will push us all the way.

 

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Not loosing has become a habit that I do not want to give up! Wolves away in the league, Hudson-Odoi sets us on our way with a deft finish after a mazy run into the box, but the lead is short lived as Wolves strike back with Jimenez finishing a sweeping counter attack to bring us back all square. The last 60 minutes of this game are a real nerve shredder, highlighting the perils of possession football against a packed defensive team. I had visions of this game imitating the real life match where two wonderful breakaway goals from Wolves sunk us, here my shots are blocked or we are allowed possession until we are robbed in key areas, then Wolves are away sweeping up the pitch to get shots on target. What is the point of having 60-70% possession if the shots on target for both sides are the same!

Although Giroud makes a good foil for my supporting inside forwards the worrying trend of not many striker goals is continuing, I throw Arp on for the last 15 minutes, which might raise an eyebrow or two when you go to the 19 year old new signing when you are chasing a win. But on 92 minutes he somehow gets his head on a ball that is ricocheting around their box and he gives us the win.

The FA cup semi final, I for one am glad it's being played at Wembley, my nerves can't take many away days at top of the table clubs. Raheem sterling puts them ahead in the 13th minute, I march up to the touchline and demand more from the players before sitting back down. On 16 minutes Giroud finds the back of the net with yet another towering header, I walk up to the touchline and praise my players before once more sitting back down. It goes all the way to penalties, which is just what I don't need with Lazio next week. Giroud is dead on his feet and I have to swap him with Morata into extra time, I sneak Arp on as a left back for the final 30 seconds in order that he can take a penalty. He takes our 1st penalty and he scores, for some reason John Stones takes their 2nd penalty and has it saved giving us the advantage. The only real mistake Jorginho makes all season is having our 4th penalty saved and bringing them back into it. Which means it goes to sudden death, Willian scores ours and Otamendi has theirs saved putting us through. We march on to the final to face West Ham

 

The are only a couple of times during the season that I feel the game has been out to shaft me, the 1st was the Arana work permit refusal and Emerson getting injured on the same day. The second was The 1st leg against Lazio in the Europa league. Robert Green had gotten himself injured in one of the cup games I played him in, Kepa had strained his ankle ligaments in training before Wolves and would miss at least 3 weeks. So I had little choice but to dust off my Big Willy and put him in, which obviously made me even more nervous during the Man City penalty shoot out as I didn't have complete confidence in my keeper! 

Now the rules for the Europa league state that a new goalkeeper can be called up to the squad if both registered keepers are injured, however Robert Green is deemed "back to full fitness" the morning of the Lazio game, which not only means that Big Willy can't play, he can't even be named as a substitute, thus all of my hope rests on Robert Green with a physical condition of 85% and a match sharpness of 35% thank you so much football manager :D On top of this, those of you following along at home will remember I have no recognised left back due to suspension of both Emerson and Azpilicueta, Thus 20 year old Jamaican Josh Grant has to play. Thus when we are 1-0 up after half an hour from a Ross Barkley screamer I am delighted, unfortunately Luis Alberto finds the net for them in some style on 77 minutes and I fear that by these small margins a season can begin to unravel.

West Ham in the league was just the tonic I needed before the away leg in Italy. Hudson-Odoi, Kante and Pedro had us 3 up by 30 minutes in, the pick of the goals coming from that German genius Fiete Arp on 41 minutes. From a West Ham corner, Chris Mepham clears with a header which Jadon Sancho picks up on the edge of our box, he looks up field and sees Fiete Arp breaking towards the half way line with two West Ham defenders around him. Sancho delivers a wonderful curling through ball that gives Arp every fighting chance of being 1st to the ball. He breaks into the West Ham half getting to the ball 1st and taking (what I judge at 1st to be a heavy touch) the two West Ham defenders are bearing down on him and I feel one of them is about to slide in with a decisive challenge and stop the counter attack dead. Meanwhile Joe Hart seems to have sensed that Arp's touch is heavy and is racing towards the edge of his penalty area to try and put the young German off, even though he is only half way inside the West Ham half. Arps next and final touch see's him life the ball up away from the lunging feet of the defenders and lobs Hart who has no time to get back into his goal other than to pick the ball out of the net. A West Ham own goal on 87 minutes finishes off the scoring.

Lazio away, Not only is Robert Green having to play, but in order to ensure he is sharp enough to have a better performance he is now having to play every game to get his mojo back. In Italy, knowing we have to score to progress we get the perfect start with a collectors item Emerson goal, lashing it past the keeper at his near post from a very acute angle. They equalise through an aptly named Bastos on 44 minutes, but I have cancelled out their away goal and feel the advantage going forward now lies with me. I still by habit shout at the players demanding more even though there is 1 minute to go in the half, it works a charm as Hudson-Odoi curls in our 2nd in the 2nd minute of injury time in the 1st half. I am over the moon, Lazio now need 2 to progress, they get one back but its not until the 5th minute of stoppage time at the end of the 2nd half and I never overly felt threatened.

Fulham in the league goals from (midfielders who else) Jorginho and Kante see 2-1 at half time after Luciano Vietto scores for Fulham. Morata puts us 3-1 up with his last goal contribution of the season on 53 minutes, but a Jean Michael Seri penalty on 75 minutes and a Vietto 2nd on 90 minutes mean we share the points. In other circumstances I would have been more irate about this result but circumstances had changed.  While we had struggled relatively in the Europa league, this draw against Fulham was our 1st dropped points in the league in April, the same could not be said for Liverpool.

In April they had drawn with Man Utd and Fulham, and lost to Arsenal and Huddersfield, They even threw away a 3-0 1st leg lead over Eintracht Frankfurt, losing the 2nd leg 4-1 and having to just scrape through on away goals. Jurgen Klopp was leaving at the end of the season to take over from the caretaker manager at Man City, perhaps that was why the wheels so unexpectedly fell off their season. I did begin to wonder if Jurgen was sticking his fingers up at me from Anfield, purposefully tanking his results so that when it came down to it a Liverpool loss would hand us the league rather than us winning it ourselves. The Fulham game could have seen us win the league, but a draw kept us unbeaten and left us 2 points away from being crowned.

Danny Drinkwater got the goal away at Brighton that won us the title, they were battling for survival and needed a win, which surprised me we didn't win by more as we had a lot of chances as they came forward. Arp had a relatively poor game for him, the only game so far he started in which he didn't score.

That made Liverpool at home a bit of a none event, the only things left to play for this month were staying unbeaten and keeping an eye on record points totals and wins. All the goals came in the 1st half Jorginho and Fabregas for us, Firmino trying to make it a contest with a goal in the 2nd minute of injury time. Neither side really threatened in the second half, both of us happy to put our focus to our Europa league semi finals next month. Morata did miss a penalty in the second half which, having been given a rare opportunity to show he could still score goals at least half as frequently as Arp the upstart, he once more failed to produce.

 

Thus we crawl, on hands and knees, exhausted, a nervous wreck, but triumphant into the final month of the season, two trophies still hang in the balance and the immortal opportunity of remaining invincible.

 

 

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May, the bane of every English football fan, the month in which so many football dreams come to die. As much as some fans will undoubtedly have something to cheer about in May (or April if like us you clinch the league early :cool:) There is much more to be sorry about in May than there is to celebrate. Mainly that it's over, whether thats top flight football because your team got relegated, or playoff failure, reaching the final of whichever competition only to fall at the final hurdle. Even if none of these apply to you, by the end of May you have 10 or so weeks of hurt until the Community shield signals  the curtain raising on a pristine new season of promise, time to work out a way of communicating with your loved ones again!

For me, May felt like the month in which I would find out what kind of manager I really was. At the start of my virgin season  the board had set me the task of Qualification for the Champions league, and reach the final of both the FA cup and Europa league. Now before May even begins we are in the final of the FA cup, and we have not only qualified for the Champions league but done so as champions. I am 180 minutes (unless there is extra time and penalties) from getting into the Europa league final, though in the back of my mind I am sure the extra success in the league would offset any failure on this front. Basically, what is there left to play for in May, which sounds stupid when you think I still have the chance to win 2 more competitions and double my overall tally for the season, however part of me feels that with no board pressure, not winning would not be the end of the world.

The other part of me, the part of me that has a supreme plan to mold the club in my image, is already planning about not just next year but the years ahead by dropping wonder talents into my youth squads, that part of me knows there is so much to play for this month.

I am 3 games away from going unbeaten

I am 7 points away from equaling the club record points total, and 1 win away from equaling the club record win total

I am 8 points away from equaling the league record points total, 9 points away from breaking it.

Thus the task is simple, win my 3 remaining league games and everyone of those goals is attained, that is on top of winning through the Europa league semi final to get to the final, and then winning the FA cup final and Europa league final. Yeah.... I don't want much out of May.

While I have been blazing a trail at the top of  the league (maybe the reason why?) The other English teams have been dominating European competition.

The semi finalists for the Europa league are: Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund, Chelsea and Liverpool, we are drawn against Arsenal.

The semi finalists for the Champions league are Bayern Munich, Inter Milan, Man City and Man Utd, a Manchester derby semi final guarantees that there will be an English club in the final of each competition.

We will play West Ham in the FA cup final, which I must admit having beaten them 5-0 only the month before with basically my 2nd team I lose little to no sleep over this game  

The final three league games are:

Everton [Away]

Newcastle [Home]

Man City [Away]

The last game having the added subplot of being against the current record points total holders, will they stifle my chances, will they beat me on the final day to stop me joining Arsenal as invincible?

 

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Not all objectives were attained! But my word we came close.

Arsenal away in the 1st leg of the Europa league semi was a cagey affair, not the ding, dong back and forth of our previous encounters. Once again I picked Giroud to play not only a London derby but against his old club, doing me proud by scoring (what else a headed goal).

Everton away was a double edged sword, we won, which more or less relegated them, which made me a bit sad, however I was very glad to chalk off 1 more game on the road to trying to stay unbeaten.

Arsenal at home, a much better performance than the worst game we played all season, but the same result. This was the 1st time all season I felt I was damned if I did, and damned if I didn't. Play our usual game and concede on the counter and then we would be up against it, sit too deep and let them have the ball and they could get the bit between their teeth and really do us some damage. Fresh in my mind was our reversal of Lazio in the last round, they had 1 away goal, we came away with 2 away goals and that was enough. My lasting memory of this game was the referee carded us more than Arsenal for a similar number of fouls, other than that it became a rather forgettable way to reach the final. A final in which we would face Liverpool.

Newcastle put pay to us beating the league record points total, they led early from a Matt Richie free kick. I demanded more, but it seemed as though I had played that card once too often, as the players became more focused but did not manage to kick on. We got to half time, and for the 1st time all season I got aggressive, "show me something else in the second half.... bitches"

 Morata missed a second half penalty (his 2nd in a row) so it took till the 72nd minute to get an equalizing goal, but oh my what a goal. Corner from the right, out swinging, it looks like it's missing everyone, coming down about level with the far post, just slightly further back from the penalty spot. Up rises (who else) Fiete Arp, but not with his head, a perfectly executed over head kick sees the ball beat the keeper in the bottom right corner.

Going into the last game of the season, I had equaled the club record for wins in a season, was 2 points behind the club record for points in a season, 3 points behind equaling the league record.

In all honesty, to say this was the 38th step in a journey that had taken all season it was a bit of an anti climax, Man City it felt had none of the urgency which Arsenal had shown when they attempted to stop us going unbeaten. Maybe Man City facing Inter in the Champions league final had something to do with it. For us, it was a little disheartening that there wasn't a "go unbeaten" team talk, without that carrot to dangle before them they struggled to be interested in the game. I could however it seems always rely on Fiete Arp, his goal (much simpler than his last) clinched our invincible status, delivered a new club points and wins total, and left us level with Man City's record of most points in a season. 

Arp now had made 9 appearances, 5 starts and 4 as a sub, and had scored 9 goals. His case was strong, Morata while being my top scorer in the league with 16, and 20 in all competitions (mostly as I played Giroud in the cups) didn't fill me with the same confidence as Arp. Giroud had scored 11 in all competitions, pretty much all headers, he had grumbled a few times throughout the season that he wanted to play more, but every time I took the time to talk to him that alone made him happy. The downside to him was the fact he was on my above 30 and on big money list.

My other top scorers were Willian with 11, which might be enough for him to survive another season even though he is 30, him also being my only decent left footed free kick taker weighed heavily in his favour. However he broke his foot in t he Newcastle game and would miss the next 3 months

Kante was the king of the midfield boomers, scoring 9, the most hilarious of which was a header from a corner, that made me laugh, I'm sure he must have been the smallest player on the pitch. 9 goals plus his ability to play most weeks secured him the League and Players player of the year award. He dedicated them to me, indicating that "I had become the father he never had"

Kepa scooped the golden glove award, also dedicating it to me, stating "Juggling Neil Greenwood's massive man balls while he delivered his angry half time team talks fully naked make me the goal keeper I am today"

Azpilicueta finished off the plaudits by indicating that our unbeaten run was simply down to "Being terrified of Neil Greenwood's colossal man hood forced a level of consistency that even we did not know we were capable of"

I regret not having screenshotted these interviews, though I feel my memories might be slightly exaggerated.

Onto the FA cup final and a West Ham team that refused to remember we spanked them 5-0 the last time we played. The came at us like they had just won the league not us. The 1st half was most definitely theirs although Morata managed to have his 3rd penalty in a row saved deep in the 1st half. For only the 2nd time I went aggressive at half time, hoping to cut through the euphoria at winning the league, and the lads responded with a goal from Barkley and Fabregas clinching us the cup.

 

Liverpool in the Europa league final was tense, we were down early to a well crafted move which saw Roberto Firmino continue his league golden boot wining form into the final. We hung on more than just a little to half time, but we were still creating chances. Yellow cards were flying on both sides. On 54 minutes Naby Keita gets sent off for a second bookable offence and the tie swings in our favour. Two minutes later, Hudson-Odoi loops a ball into the box from the right, aiming for the far post, Jadon Sancho arrives unmarked to volley it home in a carbon copy of the goals Hazard had been banging in when playing in the same position. Ten minutes later Sancho skips inside from the left, runs the 18 yard line before unleashing a strike that curls away from Mignolet and ends up in the bottom corner, ending the game as a contest as I reign my players in and just let them control the ball to see out the game.

I am given the manager of the year award. 

5 players are named in the team of the year, interestingly Hazard gets in at left midfield in his Manchester Utd shirt.

In the end we won 4 trophies: The Community shield, Premier league, FA cup and Europa league.

We equaled the top flight record for most points in a season, we scored the most goals, and conceded the least that year.

We set a new club record for most games won in a season (going from 30 to 31) and highest points in a season (going from 99 to 100)

  table.thumb.jpg.223b58cf1bab281e53c507524623a531.jpg

Will just leave that there to finish off the season, though as I hold the end of season team meeting and tell them "go home give your wives and girlfriends at least one good one from me, then get ready to come back and win it again next year" I am secretly thinking two things, 1stly if I get my way a large portion of people in this room won't be here next year and 2ndly that I am worried (of course I'm worried) that this years success will lead to demands for more from the board and fans.

See you next season!!

Edited by Mandy42

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I gave myself June off, that is to say I didn't do much of anything in game (you don't get a complexion like mine from going away on holiday).

Another reason being that I wanted to give everyone a fighting chance in the selection process, and we had a SHED LOAD of loan deals returning at the end of June and trying to look at the squad screen with them either filtered in or out was just giving me a headache. 

Speaking of headaches, I had enough on my plate mulling over whether I went through with the over 30 cull, it felt like it had to be an all or nothing move, as going on a case by case basis would lead me to finding an excuse to keep all of them (unless your David Luiz). However I didn't want to "do the deed" until the opening of the transfer window in July as I didn't want the old guard sulking / complaining and generally having more time to stink up the dressing room atmosphere than they would undoubtedly have anyway.

I also reasoned that if I was going to bring in or develop a bunch of bright eyed and bushy tailed YCB prospects then I should really decide what formations and tactics I wanted to use and thus which positions I wanted to keep. No point killing players in positions I needed and keeping ones I did not. I wasn't going to throw the baby out with the bath water when it came to tactics, my initial 4-3-3 had been played most of the season to the point where my profile states I don't have a 2nd favorite tactic. The problem with playing it so often did feel like a contributing factor to the goals drying up at the turn of the year, where people got wise to us a bit more, we went from having 60% plus possession and scoring freely to having all that possession but not being able to find the key to unlock the door.  I was happy enough that playing the 4-3-3 with a balanced or lower mentality would give us enough of a defensive platform to close out games, and thus that tactic could stay.

However, the 5-3-2 while it had worked slightly in shutting out games, I think I can count on 1 hand the number of chances it created for us all season, the main issue there being that once switched to, the personnel required usually meant you were unable to switch back to a formation that generated more chances. The 4-2-4 was the other way, generating a high number of chances but also conceding more chances, and in some games just being over run in the middle of the field to the point it was useless. So while Mr Loaf might indeed suggest that 2 out of 3 isn't bad, I very much doubt he was talking about bad football tactics at the time, thus neither of my other formations made the grade.

Now bad habits die hard, and with the HUGE task of restructuring the squad hierarchy weighing on my mind I decided to take a trip to the steam workshop. I knew I wanted a 4-2-3-1 tactic because I still woke up in cold sweats remembering how awesome Arsenal had looked when they deployed it against us. Also by bringing an extra midfielder forward I wanted to hedge my bets in case the goals from strikers problem was not completely down to my 4-3-3 formation being "found out" halfway through the year. It also had the added bonus of providing me with a position that I could actually play Ruben Loftus-Cheek in, as I decided that the failed experiment of turning him into a striker was over, and that Gianfranco Zola was off my Christmas card list for coming up with the stupid suggestion in the first place.

I delved through the other tactics available not really sure what I wanted (I will post the creators and names of the tactics when I am at home and not stuck at work where I can't access them, as I most definitely borrowed 2 tactics and did not create them myself!) I had noted in some of the discussion threads on here that people found developing more fluid tactics helped them make a difference in games. I found a 3-3-2-2 monstrosity that deployed a Libero, two Segundo Volantes and a False 9 resulting in a system where players stepped up or dropped in to the horror of the opposition. Deciding that it was definitely like nothing I had ever come across before I would employ it as my 3rd tactic and see how we go. I was slightly disappointed to discover that Kante was not fit to play the Volante role even though the words "like a box to box midfielder" can be found in the description, and he makes the perfect box to box player, not all doom and gloom though, Bakayoko is a perfect Volante and he would be coming back from loan, he like a lot of last seasons loanees and U23 prospects would get a chance to shine, with YCB backups being hunted down in the transfer market.     

Edited by Mandy42

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A libero and 2 Segundo Volantes?

tenor.gif

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Old and in the Way*

Taking inspiration from @andychar 's thread where he has named all of his posts after "famous" films, I have decided to do the same, though with not so famous song titles. As a punishment for such blatant plagiarism I will make every effort short of spending actual money to listen to each song (even the **** ones) 

Anyway enough of this nonsense that's not why your here, your here for the deep tactical analysis and my pure managerial brilliance (which is probably nonsense as well) and DEAR GOD! HOW LONG DOES THIS SONG GO ON FOR!

So July, I get back in the hot seat having decided on those tactics (I stole those as well) and get down to the task at hand, I've decided with all the loan players back I have far too many players, the basic plan is, if you don't have at least 3 star potential your probably not staying, if your over 30 your probably not staying, if your on a shed load of money, you guessed it, your probably not staying! Also if you pass all the other categories but for some reason I just don't like you, or I want to try someone else in your position then sorry your probably going.

Let the month of the long knives begin!

Actually before I cull players, a little housekeeping from the post above. The chosen tactics:

 4-3-3.thumb.png.d18e8c7e6c982db1ab399cb1faedad03.png

My 4-3-3 in all it's glory

 

 

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4-2-3-1 Offensif by Giovani Lo Celso

 

 

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3-3-2-2 Gylfi Pleasures by The Reckonist

 

 

 

 

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So when I said I did no work in June that was a bit of a lie, some of these deals were done and just waiting to be completed at the next transfer window. IE Big Bald Willy Caballero (which unfortunately means that pun has seen it's last outing) Staying with goalkeepers, Robert Green decided it was time to retire, probably after I was forced to make him play the Lazio game on 35% sharpness, he decided he was too old for those kind of shenanigans. Jamal Blackman was considered surplus to requirements by the coaching staff and needing to flex my culling muscles early for the bigger targets to come I didn't argue. I'd been trying to get rid of Marco Van Ginkel for like the whole year! he finally went on a sell or release final push, Thomas Kalas was surplus to requirements. The other frees were youth players who weren't good enough. The only one of this early group I was slightly on the fence about was Kurt Zouma, he had been on my list of loan players coming back I wanted to give a chance, but Fulham came in with an offer and he wanted to go, thus I added "does not want to stay" to my reasons for getting rid of players, I wondered if I would have any players left! The loans were mostly youth players that I wanted to see make the next step, Fikayo Tomori was not yet good enough to come into the 1st team but showed promise, George McEachran had bypassed the U19 team and had been playing in the U23s last season, he would have been closer to a potential starting spot if I didn't have a lot of midfield potential ahead of him, so felt 1st team football in the Championship would be a new challenge for him.

 

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Tiemoue Bakayoko was another on the loan list I wanted to try out, he fit into the Segundo Volante role perfectly, but he reported back To Cobham on the 1/7/19, AC Milan triggered his release clause, that I didn't even know he had, and he was gone two days later! Guilherme Arana went back out on loan to Vitesse because obviously he hasn't got a work permit yet (or ever). Cesc Fabregas was the 1st on the over 30 list I had doubts about losing, I mean he still has Passing / First touch / Vision and Technique attributes all above 18. Strangely he made the choice for me, at the back end of last season he wanted more first team football and I said yes, he played all but 1 game in the specified period but that obviously wasn't enough for him, so any regret I might have had went out the window. Kenneth Omeruo, Matt Miazga and Charly Musonda were all not good enough to stay. Nathan might have stayed except he walked straight into my office on coming back from loan and demanded a better contract, I thought about asking him to let me watch him play for the actual team that pays his wages, but then I took a good look at him and decided it probably wasn't worth watching him play anyway. Dujon Sterling had promise, he just desperately wanted to go to Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

That brings us to Olivier Giroud, who I felt quite sorry for. He had grumbled along, not getting enough 1st team football, but being content that I took the time to talk to him, and he had chipped in with 10 goals in all competitions, just not as reliable as I might have liked. So I called him into the office and broke the news to him the best way I knew how. "Olivier.... you have fantastic facial hair, but that unfortunately does not guarantee me goals... I need goals Olivier" and with that I walked out of my own office and put him on the transfer list. Now to say he dug his heels in is an understatement, three clubs came in for him offering decent money, West Brom offered £32.5M for him, but he snubbed everyone, so when finally Valencia asked to take him off me for just his wages I wasn't too unhappy, must be the fantastic hair.

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Now on returning to the club proper and starting work again in July the fans had forgiven me many things, they had forgiven me selling Eden Hazard, they had forgiven me selling Antonio Rudiger, they had even forgiven me for streaking across the pitch away at Brighton when the win there confirmed we were Champions. However, they did not seem to have forgiven Alvaro Morata for missing 3 penalities in a row and not scoring for the last 6 weeks of the season. Ola Aina and Kenedy were close to getting rotational positions but it didn't quite work out. Danny Drinkwater and Pedro really didn't want to go both storming into my office with the coaching staff suggesting I had better listen to them because they were important squad members. A couple of players even came to see me the day after suggesting I should rethink about Drinkwater, I was able to talk all but Michy Batshuayi round, who left still grumbling, as a punishment I am not willing to rename him Batman until he scores a hat trick. David Luiz I just threw out on the doorstep and left him there until someone came and picked him up, Mario Pasalic went because I was struggling to tell the difference between him and Danilo Pantic. Danilo had the benefit of being a right sided midfielder, a position I had culled almost everyone else out of, so Mario got the boot. The total haul for the 29 players I culled was £251M and a staggering £995,000 a week saving in wages.

 

 

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The players coming in weren't exactly an exact science. Thiago Maia was on my shortlist and could play Segundo Volante perfectly, however I only remembered this when Bordeaux put in a £16.5M offer for him. I bid £17M, Lille, wise to the game I was playing demanded £20M knowing full well that Maia preferred to come here. I had planned on him and Bakayoko working in the formation together, but we know what happened to that plan, thus I swooped on Pablo Rosario from Eindhoven to play there and as a rotation centre back. When Maia's work permit was rejected I was very tempted to drag the David Luiz voodoo doll out of my desk draw, but I appealed instead, I gave the doll a few celebratory stabs when the we won the appeal though. Satisfied at this point that I had made all the signings I needed, I turned to the future. Alex Blesa, Luke Goodwin and Mathieu Gonclaves are all YCB players going into the youth teams, 17 central midfield, 16 attacking central midfield and 18 left back / wingback respectively, The problem now was that those 5 signings had cost me all of £39M and maybe £85,000 a week in wages. I still had *cough* £411M *cough* available to spend and it burned a hole in my pocket rather quickly. Another contributing factor was the fact 6 of my scout team had decided to call time on their careers at the end of the season, I pulled in an equal number of replacements but I was not sure the quality of scouting wouldn't take a hit. Thus I quickly took in the whole of last seasons scouting and filtered by scout recommendation. Fresh from reading the BBC gossip column for that day which indicated we had agreed personal terms with Nicolo Barella in real life I found it comforting that the scouts rated him at 98% and a recommendation of "sign at any price" so I did. The only other player they repeated the instruction for was Neymar, and although I could have afforded him, he was 27, a cheating scumbag who dives at the sight of his own shadow and the weight on my soul was not worth it. Erling Haland was the highest rated, most promising, youngest prospect I could find that could play as a false 9, as the 3-3-2-2 formation calls for one and I don't have a good one. 

Transfer business done the month was sullied slightly by the fact that Kante, Azpilicueta and Christensen all felt they deserved better contracts, and I duly obliged. That cut the wage saving to a slightly more meagre £438K a week.   

 

* Hazel Dickens " Just remember when you're young that to you the time will come when you're old and only in the way" 

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Coming to America*

At the start of my 1st season I think Gianfranco Zola played some kind of practical joke on me, for the 1st couple of games in pre season I found myself watching from the stands not the dugout, the players must have thought I was a right tosser! I had a quiet word with him, informing him that just because the chain smoking banker was gone, he wasn't in charge, he was simply too short. I don't think he ever forgave me. So when it came to the 19/20 season and a fresh pre season slate I set about planning preseason. I put it in two parts, an American tour for the worldwide fan base and play some teams with some ex Premier league greats in them, and then a European finish to get us closer to the start of the season. Honestly I didn't really care how difficult the opposition was, as although I had my doubts about the quality of the opposition we all know how that season turned out! However Zola's pre season shenanigans had obviously not been restricted to last year, even though I had pretty much filled the pre season with the games I wanted to play, he still stealth organised friendlies which meant we were down to play a gruelling schedule of a game every 2 days and not actually do any other training. The final pre season programme is a bastardised mashup of his and my fixtures.

 

HOLD ON A MINUTE! I hear you cry, who on earth is going to play up front! As Morata and Giroud are gone, Fiete Arp is still there and Erling Haland might show promise but surely you aren't putting the fate of your club on the backs of two 19 year olds? Well if you insist lets look at the squad.

Goalkeepers

Kepa.thumb.jpg.170abc9519cf7b60150a46c2be77d1c4.jpg

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With Both Green and Caballero leaving I am willing to give my most promising youth keeper some time, experience in the main squad, plus all the keepers I went in for somehow thought I was offering them a 1st time position.... yeah I'm going to replace the 24 year old golden glove winner from last season with your ageing ass! Just realised I cropped the names off the top of those and I'm too tired post night shifts to re do them :P Top one is Kepa Arrizabalaga, underneath is Nathan Baxter.

 

 

Defenders

Emerson.thumb.jpg.1cb02b3af153cafd98041f987136d1b6.jpg

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Quite happy that 8 out of the 11 players in contention for positions in the back line are players that were at the club when I arrived. 

 

 

Midfielders

 

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Only 2 out of 5 midfielders remain from the 1st team squad I inherited with me looking to make my mark on the team in the middle of the formation. Unfortunately Martin Calderon is becoming frustrated at a lack of 1st team opportunities, however when he has to compete for spaces with the likes of N'golo Kante and Jorginho who seem able to physically recover faster between games, he was already a backup / rotation choice before I brought in the exciting Nicolo Barella.

 

 

Attacking Midfielders

 

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1681978819_RossBarkley.thumb.jpg.f9c33d3bac390201b3b1b1831e1b82c6.jpg

245195721_MasonMount.thumb.jpg.2f3a0fbe3c1e30e7350a3f44610ffeaa.jpg

940501124_RubenLoftus-Cheek.thumb.jpg.a1208a279f29bfb542245d04cd20552c.jpg

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Jadon Sancho is the only addition in the 7 attacking midfield players in the squad. Old man Willian stays due to his free kick ability and hopefully he can be an influence on the younger members of the group. Danilo Pantic is likely to be his direct understudy on the right. The jury is still out over who will be left standing between Ross Barkley, Mason Mount and Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

 

Strikers

 

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I am willing to take a gamble on these three, as Aston Villa got promoted to the Premier league last season on the back of Tammy Abraham's 22 goals in 42 games. Similarly Michy Batshuayi scored 20 goals for Valencia last campaign, the kind of scoring consistency lacking from my squad last season.

 

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The full squad in all its glory

 

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Plus promising names from the U23 and U18 squads respectively to keep an eye out for.

 

 

*Me First and the Gimme Gimmes

 

Edited by Mandy42

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Undefeated*

Perhaps part of my willingness to take a chance on younger players, loan players, get the structure under control is the fact that during the culling and preseason the board came to me with their demands for the new campaign. They are (in reverse order):

FA cup: reach semi final

Champions league: Reach 1st knockout round

Premier league: Qualify for the Champions league.

The Community shield, Carabao cup and Super cup are apparently not important

Now colour me surprised but I thought they might want to push for more after we almost made a clean sweep of all competitions last year. I am not going to argue with them, I have as an incentive offered the players the high prize bonus money option in all areas because, hell, we have the money. In our start of season team meeting they still all expected we would challenge the league, seems like the perfect position, players keen to win it, board not expecting us to, will see where the fans fall in due course.

 

My expectations fall into two categories, my dreams and my realistic goals that I will aim for.

My dreams are to win every competition and go the whole season unbeaten again, which of course is completely ludicrous but that is why it's a dream.

Realistically I am happy to aim for the boards suggested requirements, then depending on the draw we get in the Champions league and how we are progressing in the league, push for sensible over achievement. I want to keep the squad on side, and continue to keep the wages under control, Willian and Kante are worth £70M and £63M respectively, while I have no intention to sell, I will be trying to ensure they maintain value as they are 30 and 28. The current average age of the squad is just over 22.5 with Willian the eldest, Captain Cesar Azpilicueta next oldest on 29, Andreas Christensen is this seasons vice captain. I am very happy I have controlled the clubs wages and have a squad that can more than live up to the pressures of this season, I will be looking for further youth prospects to buy to maintain what I hope to be the Stamford Bridge trophy factory, that is until my long term goal. If we continue to win big, sell well and buy cheap the extra money we gather in can hopefully be spent on building a new stadium as the only thing we lost out on last season to the rest of the "top 6" is we have the smallest attendance even though we sell out the ground every week.

 

So we moved into the pre season games undefeated and the 9 games we would play in July (Damn you Gianfranco!) would test us against a variety of opponents 

 July19.thumb.jpg.dc0a1aeb50a036a523e1a7ab9b8570f3.jpg 

 

We ended pre season still undefeated, with some amazing performances using mostly the new 4-2-3-1 formation, though we sprinkled in the 3-3-2-2 once we had signed both Maia and Rosario. Interestingly, although I had my fears about the quality of the opposition, we were marked down as the underdogs in our 1st game against LA Galaxy. A penalty gift for Zlatan on 90+3 minutes was their only goal. Where as for us Barkley (2) Pantic (2), Jorginho, Sancho and Calderon, oh dear no striker on the score sheet! Auxerre were touring America at the same time as we were, maybe after the game they hoped they weren't. A Barkley hat trick, and goals from Jorginho, Pantic and Abraham saw us truly put them to the sword, and while Abraham did score, he was playing at right attacking midfield not up front so it still doesn't help me feel the system is going to get striker goals. Ross Barkley's 2nd hat trick in 2 games came before we had played 25 minutes, Jorginho, Sancho and Thiago Maia on his 1st game since signing finished off our goals, again.... none from the striker position. Our last game in America, Abraham, again from wide right, Sancho and Mepham gave us the win. Back home in Europe we faced PSV who were holding onto Pablo Rosario until after we played them, we beat them with 2 goals from Batshuayi (so close to a hat trick and being renamed Batman) and a cameo and goal from Kasey Palmer. Schalke was our 1st game of the season at the Bridge, and a team we had also played last pre season as I wanted a marker of where we were then to now. We drew with them last season, this season Batshuayi and de Ligt capped off another brilliant performance. St Mirren didn't really put up much of a struggle but threw up some interesting choices in the squad, a Tammy Abraham hat trick from up front saw our 6th goal from the striker position in 3 games, though he doesn't win the nickname Batman, as that would just be confusing. 2 goals from Ruben Loftus-Cheek saw him stake a claim to understudy for Ross Barkley, though whether an understudy position would be enough for him remained to be seen, Jorginho scored our final goal. Rapid Vienna saw 2 1st half goals, one from Batshuayi and the other from Sancho see us coast through the rest of the game, Celtic was just out of this world, a complete performance. Barella scored a hat trick on his debut, Barkley scored 2 more, Batshuayi, Sancho and Hudson-Odoi all got on the score sheet, Fiete Arp finally scored.

That means Abraham and Batshuayi both have 5 goals, Arp has 1. I am likely to start Batshuayi as, with Willian still recovering from his broken foot, Abraham can deputise out on the right if needed.

In midfield Ross Barkley has an amazing 10 goals, Ruben Loftus-Cheek has 2 and Mason Mount played ok but didn't score. I was impressed that playing 3 attacking midfielders appeared to stretch defences so that the central attacking midfield player had room to run into and exploit in and around the edge of the area. Further back in midfield Jorginho scored 4, while Nicolo Barella backed up his sign at any cost status with an impressive hat trick in his 1 game. Calderon did nothing to suggest his physical prowess would allow him to be anymore available this campaign.

 

So that is us caught up! The season begins with our next game with Liverpool in the Community shield, with me winning both the league and FA cup its not likely they were going to let me take over Wembley to simply play with myself!

 

*Def Leppard (and the 1st song I actually like!)

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11 hours ago, Mandy42 said:

Taking inspiration from @andychar 's thread where he has named all of his posts after "famous" films, I have decided to do the same, though with not so famous song titles. As a punishment for such blatant plagiarism I will make every effort short of spending actual money to listen to each song (even the **** ones) 

It quicky turned from "famous" films to shoving anything into IMDB and hoping for the best :lol:.

 

Like the look of the team so really good English youngsters coming through. Although he is amazing in FM it pains me to see that snake still in goal for us! If I start a Chelsea save he would have to be the first to go! 4 star players in most if not all positions your going to be very tricky to beat as proven with friendly results!

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7 minutes ago, andychar said:

It quicky turned from "famous" films to shoving anything into IMDB and hoping for the best :lol:.

 

Like the look of the team so really good English youngsters coming through. Although he is amazing in FM it pains me to see that snake still in goal for us! If I start a Chelsea save he would have to be the first to go! 4 star players in most if not all positions your going to be very tricky to beat as proven with friendly results!

When I was losing a lot of my older home grown players I did have a good long look at Jordan Pickford, but decided I had enough young home grown talent to get through, also as the most stick I have taken from the board is "poor financial business" when it comes to transfers, I mean what is wrong with spending £73M on a pretty unknown 19 year old Norwegian! So I didn't think they would take kindly to me binning the previous club record signing.

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The Final Countdown*

No don't worry you haven't gone back in time to 5 minutes to before midnight on New years eve. Today is the Community shield, the last game before the 1st blood of the Premier league season gets underway. Couple of interesting things here, 1stly the bookmakers had us as underdogs against Liverpool..... ehm hang on, the same Liverpool we beat three times last season and coasted to the league 21 points ahead of them? Obviously YCB does not seem to be impressing the odds men. 2ndly The tactical briefing the night before the game the players were not happy that I told them I wanted to play our 4-2-3-1 formation that had seen us light up preseason. They moaned that such a tactic was too attacking for the quality of opposition we would face at Wembley, I did move them from attacking to balanced mentality but they still grumbled, we shall see.

 

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Too attacking my left nut! Hudson-Odoi settled any nerves putting us on our way after only 9 minutes. Liverpool huffed and puffed, they did create a few chances but had to settle for a Virgil Van Dijk header from a corner to draw level on 44 minutes. I wanted to set the tone of what was expected of my players early this season, so I demanded more from them even though we were only a minute to the half time team talk. Jorginho, possibly fearing the presence of Barella on the bench decided he would restore our lead on 45+1. Sancho and Batshuayi put the result beyond doubt with just under 20 minutes to go. Salah did get what I hoped would only be a consolation on 81 minutes. Barella, who did come on to put some more minutes in his legs put the icing on the cake on 90+1. Welcome to the Premier league Zinedine Zidane, who replaced Jurgen Klopp at Anfield, time will tell whether this was a friendly performance for them, though I definitely wanted my players to treat it as a competitive fixture.

 

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Into the league we go 

It is such a shame that Liverpool result slipped in there, it unfortunately is going to have to be in the results recap at the end of the month! We start the season at Home to Newcastle who had a fantastic season last year finishing 6th. They are unbeaten through their preseason friendlies, and bring Cesc Fabregas back to the Bridge only a month after he left, they have also signed Luciano Vietto from Fulham, who scored the brace that kept us waiting one extra game to claim the league last season. As much as the Super cup is a potential distraction it is also an opportunity to lay down another marker against Jurgen Klopp's Man City, also a potential £4M for winning wouldn't be too shabby either, though I don't really want to go to extra time and penalties. Fulham come next, Kurt Zouma is that weeks Chelsea player hoping to prove we shouldn't have sold him, they finished a respectable 11th, they play Liverpool in the 1st week which might mean they get softened up for us. Swansea and West Brom round off the month for us, two games against newly promoted sides. 

*Europe (as cheesy as this song is, it was AMAZING when I saw them live when they supported Deep Purple)

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18 minutes ago, WillHoward42 said:

Enjoyable read this one, will be following.

Thank you very much, glad my crazy musings are enjoyable :D

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Come Out Swinging*

Before we kicked off our campaign against Newcastle, there was other things going on. Transfer deadline day came and went with these being the biggest signings of the window

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Is definitely going to make the league more interesting, Liverpool and Arsenal had the top scorers in the league last season with Firmino and Aubameyang respectively, now Man City have signed a proven goal threat in Mauro Icardi. Across town Man Utd now have a midfield that includes Eden Hazard, Paul Pogba and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic.

We played last on Saturday afternoon, but before we even get to Saturday, this game was played on Friday.

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At least the pressure was off to go top of the league on day 1

The big scores kept coming while we were waiting to go out and play. Icardi scored a hat trick on his debut as City beat Leicester 3-1. Man Utd put 4 past Huddersfield for no reply. Liverpool kept a clean sheet as well, scoring 7 of there own. Swansea started life back in the Premier league with a 3-0 win. Then it was our turn. The cheer of "FABREGAS THE FABULOUS" reverberated around the ground before kick off. This was our starting line up

 

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While I wanted to give Newcastle respect for finishing 6th last season and making some good signings in the transfer window I felt I had done that by playing with a balanced mentality, especially when I saw they had favoured a 4-5-1 formation in preseason. If I had to break down a packed defence I went with the creative skills of both Jorginho and Barella, show casing Barella's ability to play almost any central midfield position. Plus with tackling of 16 and 13 respectively it isn't as though they can't make challenges if the need arises. Further forward Loftus-Cheek gets the nod as Barkley's performance in the Community shield was awful, it doesn't matter how many friendly goals he scores if he is going to not deliver in competitive fixtures. Willian is still slogging his way through the active part of his recovery, playing 60 minutes in the U18s that meant Danilo Pantic got the nod on the right. 

 

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Think that is a bit harsh to be fair! The man broke his foot

 

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This was the opposition line up.

 

If we start every game the way we started this game we won't go far wrong. We had the perfect start with Danilo Pantic scoring on 5 minutes, having spent his his entire life at the club since he signed in 2015 out on loan, this was his 1st ever competitive game in Chelsea blue, and I was ecstatic for the lad scoring 5 minutes into his debut. Up until the 16th minute we were running at an attempt on goal per minute, the problem being the majority were off target. On 32 minutes Danilo doubled his debut delight with a deft header to take us into half time 2-0 up. The occasion got the better of Cesc on 49 minutes when he was lucky to escape with just a yellow card. As the 2nd half continued in a similar vein as the 1st I rotated the more tired players out, Mount came on for Loftus-Cheek and with 15 minutes left last years league player of the year N'golo Kante came on for a tiring Barella. He was only on the pitch 11 minutes before he scored his 1st goal of the season, lets see if he beats his total of 9 from last season. Annoying we didn't keep a clean sheet as that man Luciano Vietto scores his 3rd goal in two appearances against us. In total we had 52 shots at goal, but only 11 on target, shoot on sight was not selected. Newcastle had 4 attempts all on target. 

So a winning start, which meant while Fabregas was still being cheered at full time, the cheer had changed to "There's only one Neil Greenwood" which is a blatant falsehood as Greenwood is a ridiculously common surname. Also:

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Arsenal hold the record for games in the league without loosing at 49, my basic maths skills calculate we currently sit on 39 games unbeaten in the league, so 10 to go! Amusingly Arsenal and Watford recorded thumping victories 4-1 against Wolves and 5-1 against West Brom respectively, which means our 3-1 win is only good enough to put us 7th.

Next is Man City in the Super cup, who doesn't want to win two trophies in 10 days?

* The Offspring

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Champagne SUPERnova*

As fun as last season was, and wow was it a lot of fun I thought I had an easy run in Europe in at least one respect. No disrespect to either Arsenal or Liverpool but having played them both at least twice in the league already and being undefeated I was less afraid of then as say I might be if I had drawn either Dortmund or Frankfurt as they were familiar, which allowed me to go for it more. Strange how only one player can change that, Mauro Icardi terrifies me, he's scored 113 goals in 179 appearances for Inter and when they lost to Man City in the Champions league final he decided it was time to make a change. I would like a result in normal time, and obviously by result I mean a win, as it is too early in the season to put my squad through extra time and penalties. Once again the day before the game the plan to play the 4-2-3-1 formation, even with a balanced mentality was seen as too attacking minded vs such quality opposition.

 

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We were off to Istanbul to play in the Inonu Spor Kompleksi. Below is our starting line up

 

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The back 4 was unchanged, although this had not been my original intention, I was going to give Baba Rahman a start on the left, until he came to me with a rather sheepish look on his face to inform me he had a 1 game suspension to serve due to his conduct while on loan at Schalke last season. Kante came back into midfield to provide a bit more grit against better opposition, plus over the course of the season I felt Barella and Jorginho would be better served interchanging in the playmaker role, that both of them on the pitch at the same time on too many occasions would be a waste of quality if then they both needed a rest for the next game. Barkley came back into the starting 11 as well to see if he could rekindle his preseason form and just to keep him match fit. More and more I feel that will be the real challenge of this season, keeping all the component pieces of my squad happy and healthy enough to be deployed when I most need them.

 

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With Jesus and Aguero on the bench the attacking potential of this team is just immense, be interesting now that they have Jurgen Klopp as their manager if he pushes them into his favoured Gegenpress style, I guess time will tell. But to me at least that is a scary line up, I am, of course, worried.

 

So we come to kick off, there is a potential positive in the fact Kevin de Bruyne is only 77% fit before a ball has even been kicked. In the Community shield I wondered how competitive Liverpool took the game, how much Zinedine Zindane was feeling his way into English football. Here, against a manager who knows what it takes to manage a Premier league team there is no doubt both sides have come to play. This is epitomised in the opening 10 minutes, where both sides have the ball in the net, both goals are ruled out for offside, one rightly, one wrongly. I try not to be aggrieved that we should be a goal up after only 5 minutes, we work the ball into the box from the right, City struggle to clear, with John Stones finally putting boot to ball, however it ricochets out of the crowd of players in front of him and falls to Batshuayi who finishes well, the linesman's flag is up as Batshuayi is clearly standing offside, however the replay shows that Stones clearance bounces off Kyle Walker without touching one of my players and thus the goal should have stood. Three minutes later, City have a corner, we clear it to the edge of the box, but Barkley loses out in a 50/50 with De Bruyne, who slips the ball laterally to Fernandinho who unleashes a pile driver that Kepa has no chance of saving. I will admit that I am some what perplexed when the linesman has his flag up, but the replay shows that Mauro Icardi is standing directly in Kepa's line of sight and is clearly offside.

The game calms down, we keep the ball well, threatening frequently, however for all our 70% possession we cannot force a breakthrough, while City look lethal whenever they have the ball. The movement of their front 4, Icardi especially is sublime, they move the ball, and themselves with pace. Every time Icardi touches the ball my heart rate spikes, the post, and two fantastic Kepa saves keep the score level. Finally on 34 minutes their new striker darts into the area, instead of pulling the trigger he drags the ball back, Bernardo Silva has the simplest of finishes from the edge of the area, and we are 1-0 down. At half time I make it clear I expect them to do better in the 2nd half, I also make the difficult decision of replacing Azpilicueta for Zappacosta as my captain has made an unusually high number of errors in the 1st period, I also send them out with a positive mentality. The game is much the same, we create more, but by being more positive we run the risk of City making the most of the space we leave. On 57 minutes a throw in from the right finds its way to Jorginho on the edge of the box, he evades the defender and 2 steps inside the box shoots across Ederson to score in the bottom left corner. I bring the lads back to balanced, happy that we still made chances with that mentality in the 1st half, and keen to give City as little space as possible. Sancho comes off on 61 minutes having run himself into the ground on the left, I switch Hudson-Odoi to the left which is his favoured position, and bring Abraham on in the right winger role that saw him score three of his goals in preseason. City seem to have worn themselves out, as we hold less of the ball, having about 60% possession, but City doing less and less with the ball. We have had some success with short corners in the game, however on 80 minutes City finally get wise and bring someone out to mark Barkley at the short corner. To my dismay they work the short routine anyway, City pick our pocket and surge up the field, another fine Kepa save keeps us in the game but we concede a corner. They make no mistake whipping the ball in, our initial clearance falls to Benjamin Mendy and he drills the ball home to give City the lead with 9 minutes to go.

I am livid! I switch us back to positive mentality and I let the players know I expect more of them. It takes 4 minutes, Barella, who replaced a flagging Jorginho on 70 minutes breaks into the area and negotiates his way into the 6 yard box, he shoots, Ederson gets a big hand to the shot but can't keep hold of it, Barella is the 1st to react and slots home to make it 2-2 with 6 minutes to go. Still stoked up by our poor corner display and the fact I don't want extra time I decide to try win it or lose it in the final minutes, I push us to attacking and get forward. On 87 minutes Kante drives forward with the ball, he is pushed wide on the right wing outside the box, City have the box stacked but Kante still puts a hopeful ball along the floor just outside the 6 yard box. An exhausted Kevin de Bruyne flails a leg at it trying to clear it and misses, the ball rolls across the 6 yard box for Hudson-Odoi to sweep it in at the far post 3-2! I switch us to the 4-3-3 with a cautious mentality to see out the last 3 minutes plus stoppage time. In total we play 6 minutes, in that time Icardi manages to force two more great saves from Kepa. Two things stand out, thats 2 trophies in 10 days! and its going to be a hell of a season!

*Oasis (It took me a lot longer than I would like to admit before I realised I had picked an Oasis track for a game vs Man City)

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Back to the Grind*

After the late drama and single day spectacle of the Super cup, who doesn't love a £4M day payday, it was back to the day to day of  the Premier league against Fulham. Playing them away last season they kept us from the title for an additional week with a late equalizer to finish the game 3-3. They had taken a heavy thumping against Liverpool in week 1 going down 7-0 away from home. I tried to keep the formula out of my head that Liverpool beat them, I beat Liverpool, easy game!

Frustratingly the screenshots for this game have been lost in the ether somewhere, but this was the 1st competitive game I decided to roll out the 3-3-2-2 formation, they set up with a 4-3-3 with 2 holding midfield players and a play maker further forward. We started well, as usual having a lot of the ball, but we did not seem to be doing much with it, a lot of the impetuous came from Sancho the wide play maker on the left and Zappacosta the winger on the right, however they seemed unable to coordinate well with the two Segundo Volantes in midfield, as when they came forward with the ball there was little on but a pass into Abraham dropping into the False Nine position, which was usually snuffed out by their holding midfield players. This led to my wide men holding onto the ball more and more trying to dribble through 2-3 Fulham players. On 1 such occasion Sancho loses the ball to their right back who just clears it high and handsome up the field, it's coming down right on the edge of our area with Christensen and Kepa hovering underneath it. Neither of them decide to make a definitive play for the ball. Kamara their striker does, sliding in and getting to the ball 1st, following through and leaving both my players on the ground, the ball trickles agonizingly slowly into our box and nestles in the corner of the net.

They make it to half time without us really threatening much, which annoys me and I tell the players I am not happy with their performance. I send them out with a positive mentality and am hoping to see results. It doesn't take long, de Ligt steps into midfield in his Libero role pulling the Fulham midfield towards him, he plays a lovely curling ball out to Zappacosta on the right wing who goes past the full back. The Fulham defense slide over, with a centre back going to close Zappacosta down, the other centre back marking Abraham and the poor fullback on Batshuayi. Abraham comes out of the area threatening a pull back and his centre back  goes with him, the fullback is forced to come across more centrally attempting to cover a crossing angle. Batshuayi drifts to the back post and rises unopposed as Zappacosta's cross takes out the two remaining Fulham defenders, he heads the ball back the way it came beating the flailing keeper in the bottom right corner of the net.

10 minutes later we win the ball back in our half and Thiago Maia surges forward with the ball, he spreads it left, Sancho bursts inside and beats his man and drawing the Fulham formation over to the left wing, he plays a smart pass into the center where Abraham has dropped into the hole between midfield and defense just outside the box, the Fulham defense push out to the ball but Abraham moves it on 1st time sweeping it out to Zappacosta in space on the right. A 1st time ball is perfect whipped in low behind the defense between the penalty spot and the 6 yard line. As all the Fulham defense pushes out Batshuayi times his out to in run to perfection having  an easy tap in past the helpless keeper. 2-1 up, fantastic turn around, formation seems to be working ok. Fulham get a free kick just inside our half, they take it quickly, another long hopeful ball forward, our players are caught out by the quick take and Mitrovic drills it 1st time on the volley past Kepa. 2-2 and I am no longer happy. I swap to the 4-2-3-1 formation and an attacking mentality wanting to force a winner, but it doesn't come and we drop our 1st points of the campaign.... what a difference a year makes!  

*Sea Hags (Whose manager was once quoted as saying "There's only so much you can achieve with 3 junkies and an alcoholic)

Edited by Mandy42

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Chasing the Dragon*

After the dissapointment of dropped points at Fulham it was off to Wales to play newly promoted Swansea. But before we left, in the build up to the game, this was brought to my attention

 

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Only taken them just over a year to ask him! It's obviously the 6th trophy you win that's the most important. Though I'm happy he's not got sacked from Sevilla!

For this away game we lined up like this

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As you can see I went back to the 4-2-3-1 formation, de Ligt came out simply because when I changed formation he'd been moved to the right back slot, also Mepham is Welsh so why not play him in Wales, very logical! Jorginho and Kante rekindled their midfield partnership. Further forward Sancho was very much my 1st choice left winger, Pantic rotated in with Willian struggling to pick up match sharpness, Loftus-Cheek got the nod before Barkley with me aware I had to fulfill his 1st team football promise to keep him sweet. Batshuayi started up front after scoring twice in the last game. They lined up like this

 

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Not really a lot to say about that, it looked defensive, and it was defensive. While I understand that they are newly promoted and we are unbeaten in 40 league games, but they are at home and surely they should be more responsibly for shaping the tempo of the game than I am. The 1st half was a very frustrating affair where we camped outside their box spreading the ball wide and putting crosses in to have them win a header and hoof the ball clear, or for us to have shots charged down or flash wide. We came in level at half time, I told them to keep going and the result would come, we had started the game set at positive, and I moved us up  to attacking to let Swansea know they were in a game. 4 minutes after the break we had a free kick just inside their half, Emerson lifts a high hanging ball into the box towards the back post. Chris Mepham rises to win it, though he's under pressure from the defender and does well just to get it on target. Nordfeldt makes a great save, getting a hand to it and pushing it onto the post, unfortunately for him the rebound off the post falls straight to Mepham and he lashes it into the net. We are 1-0 up, it's long ball, untidy and I don't care! After the 1st half I was beginning to worry we would at best get a draw in a frustrating afternoon all round. I reign us back in to positive mentality and praise the players. Around 60 minutes I swap Jorginho for Barella and Christensen for Ampadu, both subs needing minutes in their legs and Swansea are yet to threaten our goal.

5 minutes after coming on Barella gets the ball in that position he loves to take up just outside the right corner of their box, he cuts inside and drives the ball into the far top corner for a 2-0 cushion. Swansea finally realize if they want to get anything out of the game they have to come forward, they start attempting to close us down and then counter off winning the ball back, they get the ball out wide, work it into the box at the back post and Kepa is unlucky to not get a strong enough hand to a shot across his goal which he can only palm into the bottom corner. At 2-1 I take off Kante and replace him with Thiago Maia, who I drop back from the box to box role to his preferred Segundo Volante role, but with a support duty instead of attack. With 20 minutes to go we win a corner from the left, its put into the near post, Van der Hoorn jumps for it looking to clear it, but Danilo Pantic steals in at the near post and gets his head to it 1st, his header is woefully off target arrowing wide across goal until it strikes the back of the jumping Van der Hoorn and bounces into the net to restore our 2 goal advantage. I must admit I thought us safe and only drew us back to a balanced mentality, thinking the formation more stable with Maia on the pitch, we concede in the last few minutes a sloppy goal to Jordan Ayew that makes me nervous we will fall to our 2nd draw on the spin. We hold on for the points, and while shipping 2 goals for the 3rd game in a row is not the stable bedrock I am looking for, it's a win and puts us at 41 unbeaten in the league.

 

 

*Dream Evil

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58 minutes ago, Northernpilgrim said:

Great stuff so far. Enjoying the links to songs as well, nice work :)

very kind of you sir thank you :D

 

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Clean Sheets*

Last game in August would be against another newly promoted team, West Brom, annoyed at dropping points against Swansea in the last game I was taking nothing to chance in this game, also the 2 week safety net of the international break right after means I can go all guns blazing. This is my chosen line up.

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At home, and wanting to get the win there was no reason to not take the chains off and go for it, our most practised and attacking formation, with an attacking mentality. De Ligt came in for Mepham and Hudson-Odoi in for Pantic.

 

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Another week another opponent playing 4-1-4-1, Danny Drinkwater returned to Stamford Bridge, one of a few players who didn't want to leave at the end of last season, though I think he is the only one I will face in the Premier league. This game followed the format of the previous league games, we had the ball, we created chances but the majority of them were off target or blocked off target. With their 1st chance of the game West Brom score, a absolute unsavable drive of a free kick from Solomon Rondon gives them the lead completely against the run of play. We keep the ball, keep creating chances but if West Brom were camped behind the ball before, they've moved into a static caravan now and we just don't seem to be able to fashion a way through. It takes until 41 minutes and a free kick of our own before we draw level, Hudson-Odoi with the delivery, plenty of pace on the ball and De Ligt rises in the middle of the goal and just allows the ball to glance off his head into the top far corner. We have been here before, set piece goals against compact defences, we deserve to be level, but with the huge amount of quality on the pitch it is frustrating we can't carve more clear chances. At half time I tell the players they just need to keep going, they have been far the better team. I send them out with the same team not feeling I need to make any changes just yet, though Batshuayi hasn't had a good half. It gets to 60 minutes and it is much of the same, we push forward, only to be foiled in and around their box. I make the changes, bringing on Abraham and Barkley for Batshuayi and Loftus-Cheek respectively,  also I tell the players to play wider in attack, move the ball a bit quicker and whip crosses in. We create more and force a couple of saves but still no breakthrough, dropping points two games in a row against newly promoted opposition is a frustrating prospect. On 70 minutes I am hovering over bringing Willian on as a 3rd attacking change, however I am wary he is short first team match minutes and cannot guarantee he will bring us the required quality to get us over the line. On 73 minutes, I intend to make the change on 75 minutes, from a throw in on the right Kante gets to the edge of the box near the by line and puts  the ball across goal, Barkley is at the far post and volleys it into the net for a 2-1 lead  my relief is palpable and I jump up  with a cheer I am sure my wife can hear in the kitchen. I pull us back to balanced mentality and make the Willian switch. We threaten a few more times but mainly with blocked shots, they don't create anything to scare us and we see out the game. I might have calmed down by the time the international break is over! 

 

*Descendants

 

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August*

So with the win against West Brom we made it through August, here is the month review.

August.thumb.jpg.5fa850d63aad24fde4766b768923632b.jpg

 

We played in 3 competitions in August, and we are unbeaten throughout the month, meaning we came away with 2 trophies, taking my total to 6 so far for my reign here. We dropped points against Fulham which was disappointing. It did however make me wonder about my mentality towards games. I had wanted to win the two show piece games against Liverpool and City which meant I played a full strength team, I gave Newcastle a decent level of respect with them finishing 6th last season and it being my 1st game of the Premier league and wanting to make a good start. Fulham however was the first game where I mentally took my foot off the gas just a little, dropping points against Fulham made me ramp it back up against Swansea and West Brom, adding fuel to the point of view that there are no easy games in the Premier league. Also, I don't want to lose a game, but the unbeaten tag is beginning to feel like a weight around my neck, something more for my ego to chase or want to win a record for, when the board won't give me any credit for it. I feel that pressure mounting when we fall behind in games, maybe because other than the loss against Tottenham in the Carabao last year we haven't lost a game, my players have never been tested having gone on a run bad enough to affect their morale. That leads me onto wondering if I am doing the right things with regards to player morale, basically am I too nice to the players. After the 2-1 West Brom win Zola wanted me to tell the players the result was disappointing, I plumped for not telling them to get complacent, which is harsher than my usual talk. However we won, we stay unbeaten, the week before West Brom forced a 2-2 draw with Man Utd at Old Trafford, I would rather take my reactions to how we performed in the wider context of the entire league.

Which brings me to a moment of clarity when I realise just how much I enjoy and love playing this game, not just for the fact I get to manage my favourite team and be involved with a virtual version of a sport I love but because of the way the simulation goes far beyond what is happening on the screen. The majority of the pressure, worry, conflict regarding every decision I make in the game comes more from my own head than specifically from the game, and that is awesome. For example, is Ross Barkley playing better than Loftus-Cheek because he is the better player or because he plays in the "more important" games against teams who play more expansive football so he has more room in which to operate, where as Ruben plays against the newly promoted teams who stack the box and make playing through them very difficult. Another one, my tendancy to "demand more" from my players when they concede a goal, it always generates a more focused reaction from them, do they need me to do that? By doing that am I creating a behaviour pattern in my players that means they don't have a problem with going a goal down because they will wake up and respond to fight back into the game. I've also found myself changing as a manager, being more proactive, in previous versions of the game I would rage at the screen when my wonder tactic didn't get me a result when it had worked wonders up until then against much harder opposition. Now I understand the onus is on me to make the subtle changes required for the situations my team finds themselves in, striking the balance of all the options and decisions available to me in order to get the best out of my players.

 

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This is the state of play in the league at the end of the 1st month, Tottenham, who hold a special place in my mental hall of worry for being the only team to beat me have made a super sonic start to win 4 out of 4, although a +11 goal difference when they won there first game 8-1 is not as scary as I thought they might be. 

 

It seems if you keep winning competitions you keep getting given more things to compete for, goodbye Community shield and Super cup, hello Carabao cup and Champions league.

 

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Home against Millwall gives me the "easy" rotation game I craved last season, though be careful what you wish for

 

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Having beaten PSV 2-0 in preseason I am hopeful this will be a straight up fight between me and Athletico Madrid for top spot and I will be able to meet the boards expectation of getting out of the group.

 

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This just highlights how important a return to this competition is on a regular basis, as I received nowhere near this for winning the whole of the Europa league.

 

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Which allows this, 4 of the 5 English clubs that made it to at least the semi final of European competition last season are in the top 5 transfer spending clubs in Europe. We could easily have doubled our transfer spending but I want to keep our overall balance positive to work on the stadium long term.

*Ameba (Sounds like it could have been recorded by an Ameba as well)

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Very enjoyable read! I am looking forward how will you do after rebuilding the team like this. You sure set the expectations high after such a first season!

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Into the Wolves Den*

So September looks like this:

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Wolves, Southampton and Burnley in the league on paper doesn't seem like the hardest month, but having dropped points to Fulham and been behind to West Brom I am not counting any chickens. Athletico Madrid at home is probably the perfect game to start the group in the Champions league, get a result against the best team in the group and we can be more sensible in the away game and against the other teams, not have to chase the group. Millwall in the Carabao is nothing more than a chance to bring in some squad players and probably some U23s to keep the best 11 fresh and see how the younger players manage.

 

So as the title suggests to Wolves, who we beat home and away last season although there ability to play fluid counter attacking football much like in real life did cause us a scare. This was our lineup:

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I played the 4-2-3-1 attacking under the advice of the backroom staff, although because Thiago Maia favours a deeper Segundo Volante role instead of Kante's box to box role I moved him slightly deeper. As much as I said I wasn't going to count any chickens I had Athletico Madrid in 3 days time and Wolves had lost 4-2 to newly Promoted Swansea before the international break so I might have counted a couple of them. They lined up like this:

 

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More offensive than I am used to seeing, though Wolves were in the top flight last season unlike the opposition I played in my last two games. The pattern was much the same however, we had the ball, they sat behind it, we had shots, they blocked them, I began to try furiously uncount as many chickens as possible especially when against the run of play de Ligt managed to head a ball into his own net from a corner. If this continues for the rest of the season I don't think I will make it, playing poorly until we fall behind is not a way to play football, or to keep your manager calm. This time I instantly changed to playing wider, slightly more direct passing and whipped crosses, rather than letting us struggle against a  packed defence again for over 60 minutes before I make the changes. Wolves shut up shop and we have to work hard to develop chances, but a long cross in from the left from Baba finds Abraham at the back post and a bullet header finds the back of the net before half time and my nerves settle a little. I still tell the players to show me something different in the second half, wanting them to take the game by the scruff of the neck. Though we dominate possession and Wolves don't really threaten we have to wait for our winner. Maia pinches the ball on halfway and instantly feeds Barella who surges towards their box, at the last moment when I feel he is going to loose the ball he plays in Abraham with a delicious through ball that takes out 3 defenders and leaves him to slot home 1v1 against the keeper. I start to breathe normally again and pull the players back to a balanced mentality. I swear I can't do this every week!!

Miss Lonely Hearts

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18 hours ago, scarp said:

Very enjoyable read! I am looking forward how will you do after rebuilding the team like this. You sure set the expectations high after such a first season!

Thank you, am hopeful that last years success will give me enough of a cushion to bed in the new talent if results and performances suffer from removing the established players

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Great stuff. Good to see its realistic, nothing about being a Chelsea fan is easy!

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London Madrid*

A does what it says on the tin post title today as Stamford Bridge welcomes Athletico Madrid for the 1st Champions league game to be played there since February 2018. We lined up like this:

 

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I think this is slowly but surely becoming my go to 1st team, with younger high potential stand ins waiting to deputize as required. Willian was returning to fitness on the right and the majority of the rest had been rotated against the scrap with Wolves. Madrid lined up like this:

 

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That looked like  classic Athletico defensively solid with the ability to counter with pace line up and formation, which made me glad I had told my players to go out with a balanced mentality to keep things under control. Still we got off to a fast start attacking, loosing the ball, repelling their counter attack, back and forth for the 1st few minutes. On 3 minutes Godin makes a rather robust challenge on Jorginho in the area as the ball is delivered from the left wing, referee shows no hesitation and points to the spot. Jorginho himself will take it, I remember him missing a penalty against Man City and I was also well aware that Jan Obiak is some goalkeeper! Obiak guesses the right way but over cooks his dive, the ball going under him as he flies through the air, 1-0 up after 3 minutes, dream start!

I pull us back to cautious mentality, which might seem a bit strange but it pretty much nullified the game, we just kept the ball, moving it around but not creating much nor being overly threatening. Athletico, starved of the ability to counter us effectively Athletico created nothing. At half time I warned the players the job wasn't yet done, moved them back up to balanced to see if we could catch Madrid off guard by starting the second half slightly faster and upbeat. On 50 minutes Batshuayi bundled in a poor clearance from a corner to make it 2-0, now I was struggling to not count Champions league group chickens! I rotated in Pantic, Barella and Mount for Willian, Jorginho and Barkley who were all getting tired going through 65 minutes, I had put us back to cautious as Madrid finally decided they would have to come forward more if they wanted something from the game. Antoine Griezmann, who had started nursing an injury, popped up in the 88th minute to give Madrid a consolation goal which had me shuffling the mentality back to defensive for the last 2 minutes and 4 minutes of stoppage time, but we came out of the tie 2-1 winners and I felt very good about the group. 

*The Aislers Set

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2 hours ago, andychar said:

Great stuff. Good to see its realistic, nothing about being a Chelsea fan is easy!

Not just as a fan, sometimes it's very frustating when the players aren't doing what I tell them to do. 

"EXPLOIT THE F*CKING FLANKS" as I see the ball cannon off another defender in the middle of the box as my midfielders try play straight down the middle....

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Four Score*

After getting the job done against Athletico at home we welcomed the Saints to Stamford Bridge in the league. This was a halfway house between the Champions league game before it and the Carabao cup game after it, get some younger players (who I wanted to be the older players in the Carabao game) some minutes in their legs. This was our lineup:

 

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Zappacosta, Rahman and Mepham doesn't look too bad as a "2nd string" back 4, with Vice captain Christensen keeping his place. Barella and Jorginho swap perfectly, Kante being the amazing work horse he is stays in to keep some stability. I want Pantic to play in the Carabao so Abraham comes in to play on the right even though he isn't very good there. Hudson-Odoi is again an excellent "2nd team player" to come in for Sancho. Arp plays his 1st senior game of the season, with Barkley getting the nod behind him as Loftus-Cheek is unfortunately injured in training and I wanted Mount to play against Millwall. Southampton line up like this:

 

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4-1-4-1 again, I hope this isn't going to be another grind, I'm not sure my nerves and my soul can take it! We get underway, it's a quiet start, we keep the ball well as usual, Southampton move the ball around but don't really threaten, on 9 minutes Kante nips in and takes the ball away from Mario Lemina halfway inside his own half, he then drives forward taking the ball all the way down the right wing before crossing the ball low, Fiete Arp gets across the near post in a flash to meet it and steers it into the net, nerves steady and we are 1-0 up. It stays that was to halftime, Danny Ings makes himself a nuisance around our box but they produce nothing concrete. In the dressing room I remind them the game is not over and to guard against complacency in the second period. Barella gets into the area on 65 minutes and is bundled to the ground, much like Jorginho in the Champions league, he won the penalty then takes it and scores for a 2-0 cushion. Only 4 minutes later that man Kante steals the ball again on the halfway line, puts the ball out on the left for Hudson-Odoi to break into space, he drives forward into the area, looks like he has taken the ball too close and from too wide an angle the beat the keeper. He shoots and the keeper tips the ball away, but only out into the middle of the box towards an onrushing Willian who side foots in for a simple finish, 3-0. I slow the game down, going to balanced and making changes based on fatigue. On 90 minutes, we deliver a corner deep from the right, Christensen is completely free beyond the far post drives a volley straight at the keeper who can only deflect it away. Barella works it back into the box and it comes to Hudson-Odoi who looks like he is running down a blind alley running into the 6 yard area surrounded by 3 Southampton players. He back heels the ball back across goal where Fiete Arp should have a tap in from 6 yards, however he drives his 1st strike against the post before being lucky enough to have the ball rebound back to him so he could tap it in. 4-0 on 90 minutes, there are 3 minutes of stoppage time, for some reason I am not overly impressed despite the score line. Nearly conceding two in stoppage time due to very sloppy defending does nothing to improve my mood. The final whistle goals, we score 4 and we kept a clean sheet but I don't feel we played well. 

*Low

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Millwall Boys*

3rd competition of the month the Carabao cup, and this year I got the tie I wanted which is a lower league team who I could justify rotating my squad for. For this reason this was the 1st game of the season that I was actually really looking forward to, as daft as that seems for a game I play to enjoy, but in a sense there is literally nothing to lose in this game. My unbeaten league record is not at threat, none of my 1st team players can get injured and I get to see what my young players can do. With that in mind here is my line up:

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Could this be the team of the future, I don't think tonight is going to be a definitive test of that, however Baba Rahman is the oldest player in the starting 11 at 25 years old, 8 of the players are 20 or under. I am very interested in how these three in particular perform.

 

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They line up like this

 

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Oh look its 4-1-4-1 well to be fair they are a Championship side. We kick off and control the game, low 80% possession and it's not long before that amount of pressure tells, we have a throw in on the right near there box, it's thrown in to Gilmour who draws a defender to him before finding Calderon on the edge of the area, who then releases a well placed shot into the far bottom corner to get us on our way. We seem happy to control the game for the majority of the half until on 41 minutes we score a pretty much carbon copy goal, the only difference that Calderon drives this shot straight and it goes in at the near post. At half time I give some encouragement to my young team, some your playing well but I know you can do much better love. I have to swap Baba for Azpilicueta as Rahman played in the previous league game, I also brought Pablo Rosario on for Billy Gilmour who unfortunately did not seem to be able go the distance physically. We controlled the ball again in the 2nd half and on 60 minutes I introduced Erling Haland, it took him only 10 minutes to have an impact, flicking on at the near post to give Hudson-Odoi a tap in at the far post. Ryan Tunnicliffe scored a consolation curler from outside the box on 74 minutes, but a back post drive from a deep free kick by Rosario on 76 minutes returned our 3 goal advantage. Another free kick on 90 minutes was worked out to the left side, Mount whipped a cross in which Shaun Hutchinson had little choice but to turn into his own net before Haland turned it in instead. 5-1 a decent result for us, I think regardless of who I draw I might play the kids again in this competition, though don't hold me to that :P 

 

Press conference at the end:

 

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  Not the way I would have gone if the roles had been reversed but oh well. we had 60% possession, and 23 shots at goal, oh and we won 5-1, his names Neil, damn, your giving all us sensible Neil's a bad name

*Sham69 (Drink up your beers and make some noise!)

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