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withnail316

The Scandinavian Shankly's final chapter: From paupers to kings v2

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8 hours ago, kidthekid said:

Astrom looks the part.

Do you have any other players from your youth intakes that are in the first team or have a future at the club?

Just one at the moment. He came through last year and has had a bit of a taste of first team football with us, but we're quite strong at CB. I'm going to loan him out next season, and see what happens, but for now he's kicking on with reserve football and tutoring. 

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My "homegrown at the club" criteria for European games is mostly filled by overseas players I signed as teenagers. The only exception is Marcus Astvald, but at 28, he came through long before my time. 

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A slight change to the set up of the save. We've recently taken on Galatasaray as a parent club, so I've decided to add the Turkish leagues at the end of this season. That will hopefully create more squad depth in their league, as well as providing an option when I decide it's time to move on. 

I'll be switching off the Finnish leagues, leaving me with Germany, France, Belarus, Denmark, Norway, Turkey and Sweden. 

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September & October

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The domestic season is done for another year, and we've dropped just 8 points all season. Two Champions League games to go, details to follow later on this evening (if this kid ever goes to sleep!)

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2118557198_ChampionsLeaguelogo.thumb.jpg.51d1f762a5d0d87b321cdc73dd7f2ee7.jpg

UEFA Champions League
Group stage

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The group stage really couldn't have gone much better, and we qualify for the last 16 for the first time. The defeat in Paris was unfortunate, with their second and third goals coming in the last five minutes, but getting past Chelsea is a huge achievement considering they were back to back winners of the trophy. 

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1964769076_Orebrobadge.thumb.jpg.30c6d9ad99883c16bdcbfc5a73fce603.jpg

Örebro SK - Season summary - 2018

League (Allsvenskan)
Media prediction: 1st
Finished: 1st (champions)

Cups
Svenska Cupen: winners
Svenska Supercupen: winners

Europe
2nd in our Champions League Group, 17/18 trophy won by Chelsea
2017/18 Europa League won by Benfica

Top scorers
Hervé Combe: 43 appearances (38 starts): 37 goals (21 in the league)
Marcus Astvald: 42 appearances (39 starts): 14 goals (8 in the league)
Aleksander Ljajic: 23 appearances (18 starts): 11 goals (6 in the league)

Top assists
Michael Dickey: 15 in 34 appearances
Marcus Astvald: 14 in 42 appearances
Aleksander Ljajic: 10 in 23 appearances

Positives
Another really good season on the pitch, culminating in another title as well as the cup, and our best European season to date. The board are yet again investing in our facilities, although they have refused my cheeky attempt at convincing them we need a new ground. Despite our domination of Swedish football, we made a profit of over €12m in the transfer market this season, which goes some way to explaining why we have just under €40m in the bank on the last day of the season. We even have a couple of our own youngsters who are likely to be first team regulars in the next 12-18 months. We also have lots of room in the wage budget for me to award new contracts, which should ensure we don't lose anybody I'd rather keep over the winter window. 

Concerns
The big concern is I'm feeling a little unfulfilled after back to back doubles, breaking the league's points record in the process. We dropped just 8 points last season. It was around this stage last time in Sweden that I got itchy feet and moved to Holland, which obviously goes against what I originally set out to do in this save. Hopefully I can convince the board we need that new stadium next year, as that's likely to make me feel that we're still pushing on as a club. My other concern is a lack of Swedish talent, but not much I can do about that...

Manager's player of the season
Easy one this year: Hervé Combe. 37 goals is just outstanding.

Attendances: capacity of 14,400 (11,000 in all-seater competitions)
Lowest attendance: 8,289
Highest attendance: 14,400 (sell-out)
Average attendance: 12,020 (up from 11,172 last season) 

Finances
€39,250,000 in credit

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2 hours ago, kidthekid said:

awesome work in the group stages

Thanks man. Delighted to get through.

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On 22/06/2019 at 13:53, withnail316 said:

I've also made a new signing for August. Malmö FF's Robin Andersson has scored 97 goals for them since he broke into their first team in 2014, but has fallen out with the management down there. I nearly signed him a couple of years ago but the time wasn't right for us. He was listed for just €550,000, and will provide competition for Hervé Combe. 

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This hasn't lasted long. He's been unhappy with his match time, and was furious with a fine for a terrible performance. He now wants to leave, and I'll let him go. Nkonzo Mpangase scored 29 times for Vålerenga on loan last season, and next year he'll be our second choice for the lone striker role.

 

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A tricky winter so far. I keep looking at this team and thinking how I can improve it, and right now I'm stuck. 

There's a Mexican DM/CM I would like, but offers of €3.5m are rejected out of hand, and I can't justify spending more than that. Otherwise I'm rather stuck, and looking at spending for the sake of it. 

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Oh, and the board gave €12.5m to the shareholders. We're certainly not skint as a club, but that's €20m+ out of the football budget in two years. Scumbags. 

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693820085_Orebrobadge.thumb.jpg.f1bd896c42fe619e9325a0a68c0d9101.jpg

Örebro SK season preview 2018(Allsvenskan)

Media expectation: 1st (of 16)
Board expectation: win the league

Transfer budget (remaining): €15,500,000
Wage budget: €515,000p/w (€325,000p/w under budget)

The beginning of a new campaign is on the horizon once more, and as you can see, I've managed to resist the temptation to move on. Much like last season, there's a real sense of continuity around the place as no established first team players have been moved on, and yet as we're still a pretty young side, I think we are naturally stronger one year on. When the European tie comes around in February, I think we'll only have one new player in the entire 18 man squad. 

Expectations for the season are reasonable again (win the title, forget the cup) even if the budgets I've been given are frankly ludicrous. There is no way I'd contemplate spending €15m on transfers when there is only €20m in the bank, and I certainly wouldn't spend half a million Euros a week in wages! I was annoyed the board payed out €12.5m to the shareholders, as I was trying to ensure we had a pool of cash for when the club needed to move on from our current home, but they have at least spent another €8m on our facilities, while junior coaching is as high as it can get. All in all, I have no complaints. 

In terms of transfers, this winter has mostly been about shedding some of our back up players, and moving on youngsters who never really looked like they could make it at the club. The only player I was disappointed to lose was Robin Andersson, but he didn't really find his feet at his short time at the club. He joined Rosenborg for €1.7m, plus 50% of any sell on. Norway was the destination for five of our players, the biggest deal was for back up DM Gregory Viala, who joined Strømsgodset for €1.9m. Decent value for a player signed for free, although he did perform well in several loan moves. American Terry Howard never kicked a ball for our first team, yet Brann paid €725,000 to take him from our hands, and also signed Tobias Lorentzen for €575,000. Winger Samy Harel joins Lyn for €575,000, while I finally allowed back up midfielder Sondre Tronstad to leave too, he's off to Malmö FF for €1.7m. The last player to leave was German midfielder Denis Polak, who has joined IFK Goteborg for €875,000. A decent €8m raised for a bunch of back up players. Happy with that. 

In terms of new arrivals, I've made just three signings. Midfielder Val is the highest profile, and he cost us €1.5m from Fluminense. He'll be involved with the squad immediately. My first choice was a 17 year old Mexican, but even €5m wasn't enough to start negotiations. Young winger Stelios Theodoropoulous is one for the future, he's come in for €1.1m, while defender Nikao was released in Brazil and arrives for nothing. I'd like to loan him out, but he's low risk so I won't worry too much either way.

1614344441_Val_OverviewProfile.thumb.png.9a4cb1235a7502a88cacd29125297fc2.png253285645_SteliosTheodoropoulos_OverviewProfile.thumb.png.addcd4b416124a1bfa2f0ec9cdf9df9e.png1303643069_Niko_OverviewProfile.thumb.png.f4c0111ef11f87e703d83e831a88e098.png 

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I meant to say, we meet Bayern in the CL last 16. Rather bored of playing them, tbh!

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1050175110_ChampionsLeaguelogo.thumb.jpg.ee087b8064f3274bcbff973236379be9.jpg

UEFA Champions League
Last 16

1st Leg: Örebro SK 2-0 Bayern Munich
An outstanding performance in the first leg, although we didn't have things all our own way. Bayern had the ball in our net after just four minutes, but it was ruled out for a push in the box. We took full advantage of that touch of fortune though, and a double from Aleksander Ljajic provides us with a great chance to progress. 

2nd Leg: Bayern Munich 0-1 Örebro SK
Wow. Two more disallowed Bayern goals and a penalty saved by our goalkeeper are the difference in the tie. Bayern dominated this game from start to finish, but Marcus Astvald's 84th minute goal secures our progression to the quarter finals. On this evidence, it is understandable why Bayern are only sixth in Germany, and have only won two titles since my save began. 

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8 hours ago, kidthekid said:

wow. Great result.

 

7 hours ago, deltablue said:

Great win over Bayern. 

Cheers. We've had a couple of good results against Bayern so far, they aren't the force you expect them to be, but I'm really chuffed to knock them out.

Next up is Germany's current superpower - Leverkusen. 

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1717862969_ChampionsLeaguelogo.thumb.jpg.b9c841bf62cb81d915558c7f02d72978.jpg

UEFA Champions League
Quarter final

1st Leg: Örebro SK 3-0 Bayer Leverkusen
An absolute dream of a first leg against the Bundesliga leaders, but again we had to ride our luck. A fourth minute penalty save from our goalkeeper lifted the players and inspired them to a wonderful result. Combe capitalised on a poor backpass to open the scoring after 11 minutes, and a rocket from Ljajic made it two just four minutes later. We had to defend solidly as Leverkusen fought for an away goal, but in the 86th minute we grabbed a third with a close range finish from Emil Bergström.

2nd Leg: Bayer Leverkusen 3-1 Örebro SK
I'm not sure how, but we're into the semi final! Aleksander Ljajic put us in front on the night after just four minutes, and for the remaining 86 minutes we had to cling on for dear life. Still, we've done it, and we'll meet Porto in the semi final. The other semi features a clash between Real Madrid and Barcelona. 

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March & April

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A bright start domestically, we're into another cup final and we've made a perfect start in the league. We seem to have Swedish football nailed right now. 

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322597202_ChampionsLeaguelogo.thumb.jpg.3e75bdf2f09750cb0ddd75f52ac25832.jpg

UEFA Champions League
Semi final

1st Leg: Porto 1-0 Örebro SK
We were very much second best in Portugal, but with just a one goal deficit, we have every chance of pulling that back next week. Fingers crossed.

2nd Leg: Örebro SK 2-1 Porto (Porto progress on away goals)
Alas, it wasn't to be, but what an effort. It was goalless at half time thanks to our keeper saving a (ridiculous) penalty, but Michael Dickey's header levelled the tie 90 seconds into the second half. Porto got themselves in front after 62 minutes, but Dickey curled in a free kick with 15 to play to give us a chance. Had Astvald's 92nd minute drive been a touch lower, we'd have been in the final. Instead, it struck the bar and bounced away, and Porto will meet Madrid in the Camp Nou later this month. 

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Remarkable run in Europe, you're unlucky not to be in the final I reckon. KUTGW!

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On 12/07/2019 at 22:51, oriole01 said:

Remarkable run in Europe, you're unlucky not to be in the final I reckon. KUTGW!

Cheers man. It stung last night, but getting to the semi finals at this stage of the career is an achievement in itself. Hopefully we can go one better in the next two or three years. 

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May

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Another good month, and a thoroughly dominant performance in the cup final to secure another trophy. That's three Svenska Cupen final wins in a row, and we're looking pretty good in the league, too. 

However, I'm expecting two or three offers to come in for important players in the next couple of months, so there may be a few heads turned. I'm having a it of difficulty keeping my squad players happy too, so I might just have to do a bit of work in the transfer market when August gets here. 

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Posted (edited)

The confusion was short-lived. Straight into the group stage. 

 

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Edited by withnail316

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Is anybody else ever cautious of obliterating your transfer record, or is it just me?

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This lad has a buy-out clause of €3.8m. We can afford it comfortably, and his wages fit easily in our current structure. Most importantly, he improves us. But my current record is €1.7m, and it feels like a huge jump...

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Posted (edited)

He looks like a future worldie and he's well rounded.

Edited by kidthekid

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1 hour ago, kidthekid said:

He looks like a future worldie and he's well rounded.

I have some big clubs sniffing around midfielder Bilinha too, so I'll make that €3.8m back and more if I decide to list him. 

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Changed my mind. If I make the signing I'll have to get rid of Bilinha, and I'm not ready to do that yet. If the new lad was 18 or under and could become homegrown, it would be a different story. I think Bilinha is probably slightly better, so I'll keep my money for the time being. 

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(This is why it makes sense to stop and think what I'm doing every now and then...)

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We've gone from almost spending €3.8m on a midfielder to receiving €3.7m for a defender. Wind Geertsen has been asking for a move for a while, and while he is a monster of a defender, it means Martin Ibrahim is finally first choice. We also have a youth team graduate out on loan this year who will play alongside him next season, which is likely to be our centre back pairing for the next five years  

Geertsen is off to Sociedad for 11 times the fee we paid for him. 

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June & July

Let's deal with the on the pitch stuff first...

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Not only are we still unbeaten, we are now one game away from breaking Malmö's league-record 49 game unbeaten run, which has stood since 1951. Our chance to break that record comes on our own patch against Hammarby. 

In terms of the squad, we've seen a couple of changes. Andreas Wind Geertsen has joined Real Sociedad as mentioned above, while Ernst Belmont has also left after nigh-on four years at the club. The Swiss right back has joined Club Brugges for €2.5m, which means we've brought in over €6m this window. I have tried again to convince the board we need a new stadium without success, so I've decided it's time to splash some cash, especially as we're now guaranteed Champions League money. Our new transfer record will stand at €5m (up from €1.7m) with Argentine defender Victor Moya joining from Boca. He shatters our wage structure too, taking our top earners from €12,500p/w to €20,000p/w, but I've decided two or three of our players have earned a healthy rise. Also coming is right back Abdelhak Yilmaz, who was released by Montpellier, while young striker Jyrki Yli-Renko joins for €250,000. 

I may yet have a deal for a Portuguese central midfielder, but there is competition for his signature, so I'll update as and when that happens. 

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Posted (edited)

Well, we were far from done. Brilliant Dutch goalkeeper Stan de Haan, so crucial in our Champions League run, had decided he wanted to leave some time ago. He'd been on the radar of Aston Villa & Ajax for some time, and with a buy-out of €7.5m in his contract, I knew I'd lose him eventually. My offer of a new contract was rejected out of hand, so I reluctantly listed him. I really didn't want to sell him, but Ajax offered us a record-equalling €6.5m plus 50% of any sell on, and I accepted. We had signed him on a free two summers ago from Feyenoord. Moya's arrival also meant the end of full back Sophiane Boussbaine, who joined Club Brugges for €3m, 12 months after arriving for €400,000. Good business, I think. 

Coming in is young Brazilian goalkeeper Luis Eduardo, for €2m from Internacional. I had hoped he would eligible to become homegrown, but sadly he's not. C'est la vie. Also arriving is Portuguese midfielder Joao Mario, for €575,000 from Sporting. 

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We've now brought in €77m in transfer fees since I've been at the club, and we've spent €21.5m (although I've done a few deals in instalments, so that may be a little false on both counts.)

Edited by withnail316

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Youth intake - 2019

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One stand-out prospect in this year's youth intake, and one who might make it as a top flight player elsewhere in Sweden. Had the transfer window not just closed, I'd probably have tried to get Danielsson straight out on loan. 

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August & September

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Another title secured, but our unbeaten run ends at 56 league matches. We absolutely battered IFK that day, but a dodgy penalty and some awful finishing mean we got nothing. 

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October & November

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Just 11 points dropped all season, and another league title in the bag. Defensively we've been a bit leakier than the last few years having conceded 19 goals, but we did manage 75 ourselves - more than any previous season. 

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2092500730_ChampionsLeaguelogo.thumb.jpg.a8d7f572d72a431dddbdea44a8c6cd6d.jpg

UEFA Champions League
Group stage

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We're getting quite good at this group stage lark now. Tough group, but three home wins and three away draws sees us safely through. 

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284532655_Orebrobadge.thumb.jpg.c67b474486d8dde194fb03b7becea6ff.jpg

Örebro SK - season summary - 2019

League (Allsvenskan)
Media prediction: 1st
Finished: 1st (champions)

Cups
Svenska Cupen: winners
Svenska Supercupen: winners

Europe
1st in our Champions League Group, 18/19 trophy won by Real Madrid
2018/19 Europa League won by FC Twente

Top scorers
Hervé Combe: 40 appearances (39 starts): 35 goals (23 in the league)
Aleksander Ljajic: 41 appearances (36 starts): 10 goals (1 in the league)

Top assists
Kalle Holmberg: 14 in 31 appearances
Bilinha: 12 in 37 appearances
Michael Dickey: 12 in 37 appearances

Positives
Another outstanding season, both at home and abroad. We are dominating Swedish football completely, and we're just beginning to make an impression on the European scene too. It was amazing to get to the semi final stage, and hopefully, if we can keep all of our talent for the next two or three years, we might even win the thing. Things look very positive, we've a couple of highly rated youngsters breaking into the first team, and we've made some big clubs look quite foolish. All in all, there's lots to be happy about.

Concerns
One slight issue is a lack of homegrown players, at least if I look long term. Two or three of my back ups are aging, and while we as a club have a few talented young Swedes, they are looking thin on the ground elsewhere. As a result, I'm planning to sign a couple of teenagers this window to try and bridge that gap. We're still no closer to a new stadium despite a 95% attendance rating for league games. Hopefully the current rented ground can be expanded in the near future up to it's 18,000 capacity. 

Player of the season
Hervé Combe. Utterly deadly, which is why he has scored 72 goals in the last two seasons, and 126 since joining. 

Attendances (14,400 capacity, 11,000 in all-seater comps)
Lowest attendance: 9,402
Highest attendance: 14,400
Average attendance: 12,888 (up from 11,172 last year)

Finances
€35m in credit

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Posted (edited)

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Örebro SK season preview 2020 (Allsvenskan)

Media expectation: 1st (of 16)
Board expectation: win the league

Transfer budget (remaining): €27,000,000
Wage budget: €485,000p/w (€180,000p/w under budget)

Once again, a new season is almost upon us, with a tie against parent-club Galatasaray to open the season. The board once again expect the title, have no interest in the cups and consider any European football a bonus. I still  feel we need a new stadium, or at least the current ground expanded, but I can have no complaints towards the board since I've been at the club. They also spent another chunk of cash on new youth facilities this winter. 

My own expectations are similar to last season, I'd like to win the cup again if possible, while in Europe in the Autumn I aim to be playing in either competition after Christmas. I do believe we can make at least the quarters this spring, Gala are very beatable, and with a decent draw we might be able to match the semi final we achieved last season. 

Unlike the last couple of years, I decided the squad needed freshening up. The board had been giving huge sums to the shareholders (€20m in the last two years) so I thought I'd rather spend a bit of cash than let that process continue. In the end we spent around €10m, although we have three players arriving on Bosman deals too (one now and two in the summer.) The biggest change though has been in terms of wages, our top earners are now on over €20,000p/w, while even bog-standard squad players are on €5,000p/w or so. I am a little concerned with how high our wage bill is, but it is what is. 

Four players have left the club on permanent deals, one has gone out on loan with the aim to sell him in the summer, while two youngsters are out on development loans for this season. The fans weren't impressed with the sale of Kalle Holmberg to Malmö FF for €1.5m, but he had been unhappy in his role as our second choice on the right wing, despite making nearly 140 league appearances for the club. Abdelhak Yilmaz only arrived in the summer, but Vålerenga were already sniffing around him, and I was more than happy to accept €2.5m for a player signed on a free. Portuguese midfielder Joao Mario never really settled in Sweden, but he still did enough to convince Rosenborg to part with €3m to take him, and the same club also took French goalkeeper Douglas Kabeya off us for €1m. Marcelo Paz had been pestering me for a move all season, but nobody was prepared to meet the €5m I wanted for him. Instead, the Argentine has returned to his homeland to join Boca on loan, and I'll try to shift him in the summer. 

In terms of new arrivals, there are three players coming in this winter, and all will feature prominently for us this season. The biggest deal was for Monaco's Brazilian striker Rodrigues, who joins for €4.2m. Initially he'll compete for the AML role, but I plan to sell South African international Nkonzo Mpangase in the summer, so he'll ultimately be an option for the number nine role. Next up was French full back Remi Levillain for €2m from Ligue 2's Stade Lavallois. At 18 he can potentially become homegrown, and is already an excellent prospect. We've also signed Chinese international Liu Yuming on a free, which I'm sure will please the bank manager, but he's also an outstanding player. If he settles, he could be top quality for us. I'll be using him on the right, but it helps he can play both sides. 

705383358_Rodrigues_OverviewProfile.thumb.png.dc4e54b52873a48c1f85e2f30e9cf770.png9725396_RmiLevillain_OverviewProfile.thumb.png.324d33417962b9f4fec7a89aea1b737e.png1314246233_LiuYuming_OverviewProfile.thumb.png.b4dad3f3188fe71fd3621f60aafecc03.png

We've also spent €3.5m for a player to come in in August, in the shape of winger Ramiro Rizzi, while young defenders Orhan Eser and Guillaume Michaud join for free in July. 

853930144_RamiroRizzi_OverviewProfile.thumb.png.1e283db658d48cc62385a48bb4d485f5.png1916505926_GuillaumeMichaud_OverviewProfile.thumb.png.cc2b4580a52642ca576179f67c32a706.png1959353215_OrhanEser_OverviewProfile.thumb.png.a062cfaad07554cbb14be94a1f7e7c26.png

In addition, and to satisfy those reading for youth development stories, two academy players will be in the first team squad this year. Both should see plenty of football:

1740360590_NihadDacic_OverviewProfile-3.thumb.png.e000f6eea3a78e3085d72d37844cb821.png1627479014_Antonstrm_OverviewProfile-2.thumb.png.54defa83c38fd96f6d7d5a2837560a80.png

 

Edited by withnail316

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Despite my Notts thread, this one isn't dead. It's nice to have one where I'm playing in the Champions League, and the other in the third tier...

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2101527026_ChampionsLeaguelogo.thumb.jpg.3927799fd38cc2cf853633779bd8c609.jpg

UEFA Champions League
Round of 16

1st Leg: Galatasaray 0-1 Örebro SK
Delighted to leave Istanbul with a lead and an away goal, but we made life hard for ourselves. The hosts dominated possession and had more chances, but the game turned in the 65th minute when they were reduced to 10 men. That allowed us a bit extra space, and Nkonzo Mpangase took full advantage to secure us a lead. 

2nd Leg: Örebro SK 4-0 Galatasaray
A totally different game from the trip to Turkey, we simply blew them away in the first 20 minutes. Michael Dickey scored after just three minutes, and Bilinha added a second two minutes later. Dickey's brilliant free kick put us out of sight, and Ljajic added gloss to the finish right on half time. 

We'll meet Real Madrid, the holders, in the quarter final. 

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March

1456433189_rebroSK_FixturesSchedule-26.thumb.png.7c47adf3cf7605037a999e2b230bb1d5.png

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Safely through in the Cup again, and another Super Cup in the bag. It's almost unfair on the rest of Swedish football...

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1774550489_ChampionsLeaguelogo.thumb.jpg.112f0d386d67d27652b065ff82a1725d.jpg

UEFA Champions League
Quarter final

1st Leg: Real Madrid 2-1 Örebro SK
Delighted to still be in the tie, but we should have been dead and buried. Madrid were in front from a corner early on, but right on half time Hervé Combe fired home what could be a crucial away goal. Despite Madrid rattling the woodwork three times in the second half, we clung on until the 81st minute, when they finally got a winner. 

2nd Leg: Örebro SK 2-0 Real Madrid
A complete turn-around, Madrid simply couldn't live with us on our own patch. Youn defender Nehad Dacic nodded us in front from a corner after 24 minutes, and from then we started slicing Madrid to bits. We didn't seal it until the 81st minute though, when Combe drilled home from the spot. The only downside is the yellow card to Michael Dickey, who will miss the first leg of the semi final against Manchester City. 

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4 hours ago, kidthekid said:

Impressive. Best of luck in the semis

Thanks man. It's what I've been building towards, but I think City will be a much harder test. 

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1152694306_ChampionsLeaguelogo.thumb.jpg.7e390015caede1225f0e7213e7ec18dd.jpg

UEFA Champions League
Semi final

1st Leg: Örebro SK 1-0 Manchester City
Incredibly, we more than held our own against City. Defenders Martin Ibrahim and Nihad Dacic stood up brilliantly to the threat shown by City, while Hervé Combe capitalised on a terrible back pass on 34 minutes to slot us into the lead. 

2nd Leg: Manchester City 1-2  Örebro SK
A dream of an away day. We were in front after 13 minutes when Bilinha capped a lightning-fast break to blast us in front, and Combe nodded in his 11th Champions League goal of the campaign six minutes later, and all of a sudden City needed four. They got just the one at the start of the second half, but it's us who will return to Manchester for the final. We'll meet Arsenal at Old Trafford next month. 

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April

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Not the perfect start to the season as we've really had to rotate to keep players fresh for the Champions League, but we're still unbeaten and well placed so I can't complain. 

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We've also secured our place in yet another cup final, but I expect to play a second string. 

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824936018_ChampionsLeaguelogo.thumb.jpg.7dccde991f494f3581c3bc5f20132d8c.jpg

UEFA Champions League Final
Saturday 23rd May 2020
Örebro SK v Arsenal
Old Trafford, Manchester

And so here we go then, the biggest game in Swedish football since IFK Goteborg's second UEFA Cup final win in 1987, or maybe Malmö FF's defeat to Forest in the European Cup final in 1979. We come into the contest as huge underdogs, although Arsenal are not a side that have won many trophies since the save began. A couple of league cups and a defeat in the Europa League final in 2018 is the best they've managed, and yet they've swept aside PSG, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea and Milan en-route to the final. 

Before the game I didn't have any real selection issues. Everybody was fit thanks to continued rotation, and I didn't want to change the way we approached the game, so we simply set out to play our normal game. It was a 4-3-3 with an anchor man, but we set out to go for it. 

1st half

We made the brighter start to the game, and a free kick midway inside the Arsenal half was played into the path of left back Victor Moya, who put in a peach of a cross and found Combe unmarked at the back post, but the header was put well wide.  On the half hour, our keeper Banasiak was forced into action for the first time, pushing a shot from 22 yards around the post and out for a corner, but that was essentially it for the first 45 minutes.

Half time:
0-0

I was happy with the side's performance in general, although Combe was struggling, with a rating of 5.7. I told him to improve, but changed nothing tactically. 

2nd half

Combe was put through in on goal by a brilliant Dickey pass just 9 minutes into the second half, but he smashed his shot over the top from 10 yards, and was immediately replaced by Nkonzo Mpangase. Unfortunately, we found ourselves behind on 65 minutes, as Arsenal put a 26-pass move together (I counted them, yep) and sliced us wide open, before their winger slotted home from 18 yards. Three minutes later I made my final two changes, removing Ljajic and Liu Yuming for Rodrigues and Astvald, and decided to go for it, and with 12 minutes to go, we found a leveller. Moya won the ball back with a firm challenge just inside our half, then played the ball simply to Bilinha, who in turn found a great 10 yard pace to Dickey in space. The Northern Irishman looked up and played a wonderful pass to Mpangase, who was on the shoulder of the last defender and then absolutely hammered the ball beyond the on-rushing goalkeeper to level things up. 

Full time:
1-1

I couldn't make any more changes, and with three players on a fitness level of 70% I below, I feared for our chances of finishing with the full compliment. Still, I told the lads we could win the game. 

Extra time was a complete non-event, other than a Giroud cross rattling back off our cross bar, or an Mpangase strike from distance rattling the post, and so it would go to penalties. 

Michael Dickey, signed as a teenager and homegrown at the club stepped up first, and he scored.
Arsenal's first penalty was saved by Banasiak
Next was Bilinha, who sent the keeper the wrong way and scored
Arsenal scored
Mpangase stepped up confidently, and buried it
Arsenal scored
New winger Rodrigues was next, but his penalty was saved
The next penalty though was also saved by Banasiak
And 18 year old centre back Nihad Dacic, who was the first real academy graduate of the save, and was set to go to the Euros with Sweden, stepped up to win it...and he SCORED!!!

Full time:

Örebro SK 1-1 Arsenal (Örebro SK win 4-3 on penalties)

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What better way to cap a remarking run with a very stressful dramatic penalty shootout.:rolleyes:

Congrats

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