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Anything you can do the "Nemesis" career

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From Hell's heart I stab at thee

Feel quite pumped actually (must be the blood red writing!) I'm now in charge of Valencia, never managed in Spain before, and yes I know i'm still at a top division side and I'm still in the Champions League (all be it the qualifying rounds) but it's not the Premier league! 

One day I will wander the world, backwards mind you, has to be backwards. 

Anyway returning to the present:


Look a little more like Gok Wan than I intended with the random face generation but oh well



This is my nemesis, Marcelino, he didn't win anything in his time at Valencia, he seems to have made a name for himself working his way up through the Spanish lower leagues, be interesting if he goes back there. Well be interesting to see where he goes full stop! He can even go to the Premier league for all I care, it's completely out of my hands. On a slightly childish note I did chuckle when I read "Available on a free transfer" on his page :p



He certainly spent the coin! Left me with no doubt this isn't my team, that I have only 13 million left in the pot and a NEGATIVE wage per week balance, good job I'm not supposed to like the guy!


Right, time to go through the squad with a fine toothed comb....



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I don't normally bother with the inter squad friendly at the beginning of a new job, but figured what the hell let's keep breaking that mould! Also I was slightly worried by my backroom team informing me that my squad lacks depth beyond the 1st team, what with the previous manager spending most of the transfer budget and more than all of the wages. *Shakes fist* damn you Marcelino!


No surprises there, and a distinct lack of quality in the Under 19 squad. Not bad considering my probable 1st choice front 3 are still all away on holiday, yes Kevin Gameiro I like you, but the media is already describing you as a "Veteran" striker, so you won't be the one seeing the lions share of the season. We played my good olde 4-3-3 formation in the 1st half, very attacking and quite direct with this team, they might finesse it as they get more used to it. 2nd half I switched to 5-1-2-2 and some fluid counter attacking, which against lesser opposition completely killed the game (which is good to know). I am hoping for those tough away days, be they in the league or in Europe I can employ this tactic as a lower intensity option, as 1 thing is clear, the squad will need nursing through the season to peak at the times I need it to.



Speaking of pre-season I don't foresee any amazingly complex games, they will just be fitness run outs and chances to work on the tactics, the actual season will have a sharp learning curve as my 1st game is against Real Madrid.




When it comes to the season I am a little bit concerned about rule 2... Does that mean ever? in the history of the world? Surely not as I've got quite a few already, does it mean during the course of the current season? But surely that's equally ridiculous? how often do teams sign 6 1st team squad players every season without fail?



Hopefully this improves during the season, I like to keep my awkward silences to the bedroom....


On a final note, on re reading my post above I saw that Marcelino had a wanted sticker on his profile, so I had a nosy, two teams are interested in him Man City and Man Utd.... *shakes fist* damn you Marcelino!  

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They may be talking about B teams as well

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An interesting idea and I think one that would take a decent amount of thought initially.
Marcelino isn't a bad one to follow as he's managed some decent Spanish clubs so should get a gig somewhere, and if it is indeed Manchester then he may not last too long there so not a bad thing. Also, it's important that he's only 53yo.
You wouldn't want to do this with anyone much older than that.

On 01/06/2019 at 23:43, Mandy42 said:

The premise of the save is I will start at Valencia, as that is the place this idea was born, I will look very carefully at where the Valencia manager gets a job, and once I have no more mountains left to climb at my current club, I will move on and remove him from the job he took when I kicked him out the 1st time.

How do you intend to do this, just make yourself the manager of that club and boot him out?

On 01/06/2019 at 23:43, Mandy42 said:

I'm going to load an unspecified number of leagues (after Spain obviously) see what random delights I get to see this way.

Which leagues did you end up with?

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On 06/06/2019 at 00:33, Earnie is God! said:

An interesting idea and I think one that would take a decent amount of thought initially.
Marcelino isn't a bad one to follow as he's managed some decent Spanish clubs so should get a gig somewhere, and if it is indeed Manchester then he may not last too long there so not a bad thing. Also, it's important that he's only 53yo.
You wouldn't want to do this with anyone much older than that.

How do you intend to do this, just make yourself the manager of that club and boot him out?

Which leagues did you end up with?

For the 1st take over yes I just booted him out, but moving forward I either have to get him sacked by showing interest in his position (and being flaming successful) or wait for him to move on / get sacked and then get myself the job he vacated. 

I kept it rather generic with the leagues I picked, England, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, was unsure whether the manager I replaced would take a job in a less "mainstream" league and just vanish into a league I hadn't selected, we will see, the random delights will come as and when he gets his next job.

Thanks for following :) 

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I love the idea. Pick one random manager and absolutely make their life a living hell by showing what a useless manager they are.


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Posted (edited)

Pre Season Update

To Start with Marcelino doesn't yet have a job, but he is out of the running for the Man City job as they have done a switch Pep has gone to Juventus, and Allegri has gone to City Man Utd remain the only current club interested in his services.  I'm tempted in the future to do "nemesis" saves with peoples suggestions of the worlds best managers.

For pre-season we went to Holland, 6 games to get the squad in fighting shape, iron out the tactics and try and get them to like me more!



We didn't start very well... I've heard of Utrecht, which is more than I can say for some of the other teams on our tour, however as I put in the previous post I didn't expect them to put up much of a fight, hoping to chalk this one up to growing pains with the new formation. I've employed a 4-4-2 formation as a halfway house between the attacking 4-3-3 and the counter attacking solid 5-3-2. The aim is to overlap on both flanks, keep the pitch wide and ensure the packed defences we will face are not going to be able to charge down all our attempts on target.


Rodrigo wants to leave, Man City put in a bid for him for 34 mil, the man has a 104 mil buy out clause in his contract, and he's supposedly one of our best players, so I said no. He complains to me, saying he wants a Champions League medal, and doesn't reckon he will get one here. I tell him I'm not letting him go, he complains to the press, informing them he wants to go so he can earn more money elsewhere. They ask me and I inform them that I am sad he seems to be totally motivated by money and I won't keep him if he truly wants to go. So he doesn't play against Excelsior and I feel inclined to sell him if another, better offer comes in as we look a decent outfit, both of my 2 up top score, all round better performance.



Rodrigo is unhappy the transfer was blocked, but happy I said he could leave.... he is a rather strange person, his unhappy attitude hasn't spread to anyone else in the team and I wonder how liked he is amongst the squad, and how well I could build a team around him anyway. However with the games coming thick and fast and not wanting to injure anyone in my limited squad too early he is forced to play 30 minutes in the 2nd half. He scores 3 goals in that time.... even as I frantically try change penalty taker to deny him his hat trick!! On a positive note, we played well again, Denis Cheryshev came back from holiday ready to play, looks a force on the left just like he was in the World Cup for the hosts, it's early days but I might look to make his loan permanent.



The Rodrigo saga continues, I get hassled in the press about mounting pressure to move him, I don't feel any, if a team comes in with a good enough offer to let him go then I will, if not he will stay. Till that time this weeks thinking is to play him till his eyes bleed so that my other strikers are fit to start the beginning of the season. Torres lays down his claim to the right winger spot with a fantastic display and a well deserved hat trick, we looked unplayable but I understand that this opposition was probably the weakest we will face in the build up. That said the formation is working better than intended, not only do we create chances from out wide, but the wingers sometimes seem to be playing their own game, switching play for each other to get attempts at the far post.


I play my closest to 1st choice team (as much as I have decided) and other than my left wing back getting himself sent off on 13 minutes, nothing much happened. We still boss the game until we concede a penalty, which our keeper saves and our defence clears for a corner. From the resulting corner, we concede another penalty for a push in the box.... it's a friendly..... which they score. Half time comes and I throw on the 2nd string team just to freshen things up and give up on a lost cause. With all of 20 seconds left in the match my 17 year old South Korean left winger who has a whole load of flair, and not much else, delivers one of those winger to winger balls I was talking about from the last game, a long hanging deep ball towards the back post. Guedes (who also prefers to play on the left wing) times his run perfectly and slots home from a ridiculously acute angle. I admire their spirit and ability not to give up even though it was a friendly and the ref had at least a couple of Dutch relatives.



The Real Madrid game has been moved forward to the last Saturday in August for TV purposes which means we have only 5 days after this last friendly instead of 7. My last chance to put some match sharpness into the squad and see how they perform as a unit. We play ok, they don't threaten overly but I know our 1st league game will be a completely different story. We are 6-1 to win the league and are expected to finish 5th. Pre season has been about polishing tactics that I will use against the OTHER clubs in the division not the big stand out clubs, so I am not sure we are at our most ready to start the season against a power house. On another note Rodrigo is still here, nobody has come in for him, he's still unhappy.





That is our start to the professional campaign, i am not sure about our seeding for the Champions League and thus I am concerned we might get a tough group. Strangely the board informed me they required me to make the group stages of the Champions League, yet unless the draw is sabotaged we will automatically accomplish this goal, perhaps something was lost in translation as everyone tells me I will suffer for not knowing Spanish.


Speaking of suffering, there have been a lot of tight thighs and groins in pre season, along with Coquelin being injured before I got there, I am hoping they toughen up because there is sod all in the budget to bring anyone in, I have noticed that we have two signings agreed for the beginning for the season next year which will take the majority of the current budget.... damn you Marcelino! 



Edited by Mandy42

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Rounding off August

With My 1st game coming in August now not September it felt wrong to tag it into the next months round up. The fact that my 1st game on this nemesis journey is against one of our rivals and legendary Real Madrid made it seem even more appropriate to single it out.


Setting the scene, the board expect the above from me, I was right, they want me to reach the group stage of the Champions League, well the draw happens shortly, so I can tick that one off the list. Achieve Europa League qualification and the quarter final of the Spanish Cup, these I am a bit more in the dark about, as the Spanish cup system and what league positions translate to in terms of European qualification is all new to me. It will likely all come clear during the course of the save.


In the build up to the game my scouts sent me this, I know there are people on these forums who worship at the temple of the strikerless system but I must admit never seeing the AI field such a formation. No Bale or Benzema surprises me, Suso is a recent addition in this transfer window costing 41 mil, that Ronaldo cash is burning a hole in their pocket. It was then that it struck me how in turmoil Real have been in real life, Zidane leaving then coming back, they just flaming better not sign Hazard next season...


While it is a home game, and we are technically underdogs, 13-8 extrapolates to 6.5-4 which I know isn't proper bookmaker speak but it isn't a whole world away from the Real odds of 6-4, so underdogs, but not fat underdogs.


In the build up to the game this happened:



With a week to go in the current window I guess he felt he had no option, as nobody had come in for him and made an offer, and I hadn't put much effort into finding him a new home. So he is officially on the market, which I am ok with, for the right price, I do however face an interesting dilemma. On the one hand I can keep him as long as I see fit as he has a release clause of 108 mil, if someone wants him bad enough they are going to have to get pretty close to that number, however I am not going to have time to use any of that cash until the next window. On the other hand, Rodrigo takes up 8.4% of my current wage budget, shipping him on elsewhere for a reasonable profit makes good business sense.


And so we come to the day itself, I go through a press conference that asks me how much I am looking forward to playing rivals about 5 times over, then after changing my team, my mentality and some of my players duties (but keeping the same formation) I then go through a tunnel interview where all the press conference questions seem to get asked again, only then can the game get underway. All joking aside regarding questions about rivals and big games, this feels to me like a cup final. I need this game, I expect to lose, but I need us to play well, to be competitive, I don't have a huge backing in the fan base or the dressing room and I don't have the money to change the club in my image, I have to make it work, and it has to work with the players I have, thus a decent performance against a big rival in my opening game would be a big step forward.




That was unexpected, and I must say nerve racking, we played well, not the free flowing pre season standard, but then against this type of opposition that was probably even more unlikely. Gameiro's opener on his debut came from a throw in on the left, Cheryshev collected it short and managed a cross into the box, Ramos looked to clear it but Santo Mina made enough of a nuisance of himself that the attempted clearance dropped dangerously in the box. Gameiro pounced and calmly side footed a finish to give us the lead. That was that for the 1st half, except Real gave me a scare on 40 minutes, we had contained them to very little, a Marcelo dipping long ranged effort that skimmed the bar had been the closest they had come until they broke from our corner. Kroos collected the ball on the edge of his area, turned and fed Isco through the middle, one touch and he was beyond our lurching defence, he struck high across goal and Neto managed to get a big paw to it and guide it wide for a corner, I breathed again. Ramos' header from the resulting corner was straight at Neto.

Half time came and I told the lads they were excellent, I kept the mentality balanced and ensured my wide players who usually roamed around like salivating barbarians were set to a more sedate supply duty. We kicked off, I was concerned 1 would not be enough and that my players would tire en mass during the 2nd half and I wouldn't have the reserves to maintain the result. 1st casualty was my midfield maestro Dani Parejo, (Passing, Free Kick Taking 18, Vision, Work Rate 17) on 65 minutes he needed to come off, I moved my right Wing Back, Daniel Wass to the play maker role in midfield (strangely he can play anywhere down the right and then central midfield) you don't have to be called Dani to play in my midfield, but it helps, and I replaced him at right back with my more defensive option Facundo Roncaglia a bruising Argentinian on loan from Vigo. 

3 minutes after I made the switch Real seem to get a little nasty in their attempt to break up our resistance, a few challenges go flying in, the worst of which leads Marcelo to up end Mina an inch away from giving away a penalty. Typical I think, a free kick right on the edge of the area and I've just taken my set piece specialist off, and who is standing over it but Ezequiel Garay another Argentinian who my staff inform me is past his best. Not today though Ezequiel not today! he is right footed, the free kick is so close that if he goes direct there is only one place he can be trying to put it. Courtois goes the correct way but the ball is so far into the top corner he can't reach it, hit with such power that the net looks like it is going to explode and it's 2-0!

I toy with switching us to a cautious mentality, but I'm very cautious about doing so, we have held our own at balanced, and previous experience has shown that trying to hold onto a lead gives the opposition the possession and incentive they need to mount a come back, so I stay as we are. I take Cheryshev off after the 2nd goal goes in, he seems to be baring the brunt of the Real ruffians, and his name is on a mental list I have created of "big name" players I will need to lean on deeper in the season. We have a corner, a moment of panic ensues as I remember Real's best chance came from one of our corners, but we play it short without them seeming to notice, we then slide it inside to Roncaglia?!?! What in the name of all that is sacred are you doing driving into the box with the ball at your feet, YOU ARE MY MORE DEFENSIVE MINDED FULL BACK YOU CRETIN! Watching the replay I am still unsure whether he shoots or crosses, either way Courtois makes a meal of it and it ends up sneaking in at the near post. 3-0!

Only joking Facundo I adore you, but that's my mind made up, I'm changing our mentality to cautious. I make my final substitution, I really want to bring Gameiro off, another big name player I don't feel the need to risk in a game that is over with 16 minutes left to play, but my right winger Ferran Torres is crawling around with a look on his face like he doesn't know what day it is. Lee Kanglin, my 17 year old South Korean comes on in his place and we see out the game.

In other news, the Champions League group stage draw took place:


Which makes September now look like this:


In what could work as a wonderful piece of drama for the save as a whole, Man Utd are manager less and Marcelino is still wanted there, fingers crossed he gets (any job) but if he has to take the Man Utd job he gets it before we face each other in the group stages!

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Posted (edited)

I was thinking of doing monthly updates, but getting back into the swing of the career thread i'm having too much fun, plus I take too many screenshots and describe my games in too much detail! Thus my posts are long enough already without them having to encompass a full months activity!

So rolling into September this is the domestic picture


I know a league table after 1 game (for the majority of clubs) is pretty pointless, but out of the bookmakers top 5 (of which we are expected to finish 5th) only us and Sevilla are off to winning starts. The only thing keeping Real Madrid off the bottom of the table is that Leganes have played a 2nd game and shipped more goals than they have, I bet Marcelino never put Real Madrid at the bottom of the league!

Away from the domestic front


It is comforting to know that I have been drawn against 2 of the top 5 spending clubs in the previous transfer window. We on the other hand have spent a poultry 1.1 million on our only signing


He is a solid back up, which frees up Daniel Wass from being a back up right back to being a rotational right winger and a back up playmaker for Dani Parejo in the centre of the park.



I have no prior knowledge of Real San Sebastian, in fact scrolling up to the table screenshot I can safely say that (including ourselves) I recognise at most half of the names in the division, and most of them by name only. I do however recognise the name Adrian Januzaj and as horrible as it is that he has fractured his lower leg, I am glad he isn't available for selection. My other cause for concern (new readers of my thread will realise I am always concerned) is that the odds are the exact opposite of what the were in the Real Madrid game, we are the favourite, they are the underdog, and we all know what happened there. The last game felt like a cup final, this game feels like a milestone in our season. It might only be the 2nd game, but it is the 1st away game, it's the 1st game against supposed weaker opposition, it will shine a light on the potential details of our campaign. Will we play better away from home or at home, will we play well against teams better than us and find it hard to put away the "easier" opponent? I was eager to find out.


They lined up quite attacking, but then, they are at home, another name I recognised, their right winger is on loan from Brighton, almost didn't notice as the strips are at first glance very similar.



 We line up in the same 4-4-2 we have since I drew it up in pre-season, the original plan was to have both wing backs and both wingers set to attacking, a standard stopper and cover centre back pairing in the middle, a playmaker and box to box midfield player in midfield. Up top have one out and out forward with an attack duty and a false 9 to support and confuse the other team's defence. Attacking wide players, a vertically mobile central midfielder and a striker with license to drop deep hopefully will create a considerable amount of play between the lines and enough movement to create space and confuse most teams we play against. The downside is, with the 4 attack duties out wide, and a roaming midfield player it could lead to a very open game, and leave us very stretched at the back. Thus for this game I dialled it back to a balanced mentality, see what Real San Sebastian had in store for us. I set Gaya at left wing back to defend, and Roncaglia at right wing back to support, and moved both wingers to support, hoping that Cheryshev (the more talented) on the left would feel more freedom to move higher up the pitch knowing his wing back was sitting in behind him.



My 1st thought when I saw this screenshot was, only 266 away fans turned up, man I have a crap fan base!


Though a 11 hour, 1086km (674 miles) round trip to the game gave me pause for thought. Anyway, those 266 fans were treated to a decent away day display. Nobody (obviously) had come in for Rodrigo in the final days of the transfer window, so he started and he started well, my aim was only to give him some game time in order that he would be less rusty and usable after the international break. In truth the whole team started well, the 1st ten minutes didn't feel so balanced, the stats say we had 18 shots in the whole of the game, ten of them came in the 1st 15 minutes, we won throw in and corner on top of corner, turning the screw and not letting Real San Sebastian out. Our reward for this period of pressure came after 7 minutes, a throw in on the right, the same routine that had given us the lead in the 1st game, a short throw, a run down the line and a cross into the box, this time no defender rose to attempt to clear it, instead Gameiro climbed up opposed and glanced the ball into the far top corner. 

After the initial 15 minute surge they came into the game slightly, then we won a corner on 17 minutes, Parejo took it short, with nobody coming out to close him down Kondogbia had all the time in the world to pick a cross, Ezequiel Garay escaped his marker at the near post to power a header into the top near corner, two headers two goals 2-0.

And so it went till half time, with a 2 goal cushion I felt good about making some changes, I brought Gameiro off for Santa Mina, leaving Rodrigo on for more minutes, and because I still didn't overly care about him as he wants to leave. 4 minutes into the second half Mina pulls up with a tight thigh, but thinks he can play on, which is a damn good job because making a substitution that instantly results in an injury annoys me. Wass comes on for Kondogbia on 61 minutes as the engine of my midfield is beginning to look a little leggy. Finally on 73 minutes Ferran Torres our right winger is once again knackered and I swap Wass out to the right side, bringing Lee Kanglin on in the centre as a supporting Mezzala. I reason with myself that his forward roaming would be similar to Kondogbia and that I wasn't compromising my formation by fitting a round peg into a square hole. 

Any doubts that Kanglin would be less effective defensively were dispelled in the 85th minute when he chased down an opponent on the right side or our box and stole the ball off him with a sliding tackle. He then drove forward to the halfway line and supplied Mina with a ball in space, tight thigh or no tight thigh Mina was able to hold the ball up and turn, sliding a ball into the path of Rodrigo, whose blasted right footed drive the goalkeeper could only palm into his own net. 2nd game 2nd 3-0 score line, the 266 fans would feel like they were floating home.


It's amazing what going top of the league, winning your 1st two games and not conceding a goal does for your popularity on the TV, though it certainly isn't Premier League money

Edited by Mandy42

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Played 2 won 2 a dream start, now the worry of the international break and wondering if my key players would get injured, or if the two weeks off would provide just enough of a break to slow us down and break up our momentum.

Lee Kanglin made his debut for South Korea and scored on that debut, which led me to take a better look at him, he's a 17 year old with 5 star potential, on top of that I am intending on keeping and playing him to see if he has to serve military service if he doesn't win the Asia cup or the Olympics.

Geoffrey Kondogbia also made his debut for the Central African Republic, he however did not score on his debut. Jose Gaya made his debut for Spain, seems some people have been paying attention to my squad!


We are favourites to win, we sit 3rd because of teams playing earlier in the day than us, Sevilla have won their 3rd game and are top with maximum points.


Other than Saiz on loan from Leeds, who I know enough about to see him as a threat, I don't recognise any of the other players, more interesting is the formation, it's listed as a 4-2-2-2, but shouldn't it be a 4-2-2-1-1 or is that just being ridiculous, lets just call it a defensive 4-4-2 and have done with it. I am concerned that the two deep midfield players are going to crowd out the space my false 9 will be trying to drop into, and because they are there the defenders will not feel the need to pursue and thus won't be dragged out of position.


The formation stays the same, though I change the mentality to attacking, as we are at home. Cheryshev stays on a support duty, as he is better at it than attacking, Gaya goes back to support, my one change to the line up, Carlos Soler comes in at right wing, he is returning from injury and needs the minutes, plus he is my Captain so he should play, though he's only 21 and he has a leadership of all of 14, it is a fault of the current squad. The rest keep their places as they remain fresh after the international break, several of them are in superb spirits due to the way they played for their countries, and the way I congratulated them on their debuts.




Only 82 away supporters! makes my 266 faithful look amazing by comparison, especially when you find out that


That it's about half the distance my away fans travelled! Lazebags! Anyway enough of the geography, back to the football. I felt very twitchy during this game, which seems ridiculous when you look at the stats, them only having 2 shots on target the whole game, but it felt very open, especially in the 1st half. We attacked, and when it broke down they would spring forward, a last ditched tackle, or a wayward pass from them would see their counter falter and then we would press the advantage again. Often a period of counter and riposte would develop where the game dissolved into disjointed formations and hopeful balls forward. I didn't like it, not with us being the favourite and the clearly superior side, I felt we were playing ourselves into potential trouble. Thus in the middle of the 1st half I pulled us back from attacking to positive, I wanted to get a more controlled handle on the game which turned out to be the case. The problem then became that with us taking a more considered approach, Getafe sat more men behind the ball and the majority of our shots were blocked.

Half time came and it seemed my young captain's 1st game back after injury was over, he was exhausted, so on came Daniel Wass for the 2nd half, before I sent them out, I moved our attacking play to "very wide" in a hope that when we had the ball we would do our best to stretch our opponents and hopefully create some space for a breakthrough. On 62 minutes we won a throw in level with the left side of their box, Gaya throws in, Cheryshev chests down on the edge of the box and delivers a 1st time cross to the near post, Rodrigo's 1st time volley is blocked, the rebound falls to Parejo but his effort is blocked, that rebound rolls into the path of Geoffrey Kondogbia whose piledriver beats everyone and balloons the net just inside the left hand post, he might not have scored on his debut for his country, but he can score goals like that for me anytime! 

Kondogbia comes off for Kanglin in the same box to box for Mezzala swap as the previous game, I have a feeling I will need Geoffrey's defensive presence against Bayern and I want to tap into Kanglin's debut goal scoring glee as soon as possible. The 2nd goal is simpler though very similar. Throw in from the right, Wass gets to the byline and crosses the ball back, Rodrigo meets it with a volley unchallenged by a stagnant Getafe defence, 2-0, his 2nd in 2 games. I usually move my team's mentality back after a 2 goal cushion, and today is no exception to that rule, however I am not used to playing with a cautious mentality, but seems I have spent some of each of my 1st three games with that mindset, and we have won all 3.

Cheryshev comes off, Mina comes on, our 4-4-2 becomes asymmetrical as Rodrigo can't play as a left winger, but can survive as a left inside forward, again a more defensive mentality but a more attacking formation to see out the game with.

Speaking of Rodrigo, maybe it's us winning 3 games on the spin and sitting top of the table, maybe it's that nobody came in for him once he put the transfer request in, maybe it's he's played 2 full games and scored two goals:



I took my sweet time agreeing to his request, but in the end if he plays well for us between the windows it will only improve his market value if he demands away in the future. Maybe he's got multiple personality disorder, or maybe Marcelino is ringing him and winding him up.... Damn you Marcelino! 

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I like the these kind of career styles. I feel more immersed than with the ones where people fly through the years at a rapid pace. Enjoying this, keep it going!

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So 3 from 3 in the league, better than I could possibly have dreamed of,  but up next was our Champions League opener and I had no illusions about how difficult a task this was going to be.



They surprisingly lost their latest league game, and I am beginning to wonder if the bookmakers only know how to write down 1 set of odds..... But we are the underdogs, at home, oh well, in all honesty an attempt to make as much money out of European football and at least finish 3rd to progress into the Europa League.




An impressive team, attacking line up and away from home as well shows they have confidence.


As for me, I have no shame in admitting that this is a copycat league, very similar way to how Getafe set up against us in our last game (I am glossing over the part where we beat them 2-0) I've got Parejo and Kondogbia sitting deeper, my young enthusiastic promising talent playing on the wings, Lee Kanglin and Carlos Soler, hoping their endeavour will make up for the gulf in talent against our opposition.


Before our game started, our youth team showed us the way!


Might seem against the usual format to lead with this rather than a scoreline and stats page, but ultimately, for me this is the talking point of the game. After a tense 1st half that we bossed, with only Manuel Neuer keeping them in the game with some fantastic looking saves, we came to the key moment of the game 20 minutes into the 2nd half. I figured that it would take something special or different to beat Neuer, that he wouldn't be beaten by a simple shot on target. The picture above is the initial shot from Rodrigo, which Neuer saves, but he palms his save out into the penalty area and Gameiro, the furthest forward white shirt in that still, prods it home. The linesman instantly flags it offside, which I thought wasn't supposed to happen, VAR was supposed to sort all that out and the officials were just supposed to let people play. Also, in my opinion he isn't offside, he is slightly in front of the defender closest to him, but he is level with the last Bayern defender, and the goal should have stood.




In the end we did break the deadlock, and we did play well, however because of the wrongly ruled out goal we only got a point. Man Utd thrashed CSKA Moscow 4-0 so we sit 3rd in the group. I pulled the mentality back straight after we scored which might be why we conceded straight away, or simply because Bayern woke up to the fact they were behind, as they carved us open with the kind of chance I thought they would have created all night long. 3-4 passes and they were through with Muller in on goal cutting in from the right and smashing it home for a late equaliser.



I still stand by the fact that the offside call is wrong! Plus in the still I've taken the ball is well off Rodrigo's foot, which means the second or so earlier Gameiro was even more onside! Oh well.... back to the league we go

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Posted (edited)

It's been a rather hectic week in real life, or if you are suddenly confused, "what is real life? Football Manager is life!" then I took some time away ranting and flinging things around my "office" at the injustice of the offside. But, after having had my wrist well and truly slapped by the authorities it is back to the league.


Valladolid sitting 17th in the league are the unlucky recipients of my wrath regarding the European decision, or at least I hope they will be, someone needs to be the target of this wrath, before I get an ulcer! On a slightly less personal note, I think the bookmakers heard my grumblings and have rebooted their odds generating machine.


No names jump out at me that I instantly fear, and 17th in the league with a holding midfielder at home does not speak of a team about to smash me to pieces with their confidence, however banana skins come in all shapes and sizes so we need to be professional and apply ourselves accordingly.



I am sure the rigours of a long (and hopefully successful) season will force me to rotate personnel but my current back 4 picks itself, having only conceded one goal against Bayern in the Champions league and keeping 3 clean sheets so far in the league while they are fit they will play. With Francis Coquelin still being gingerly reintroduced to 1st team football following his 6th months out injured, my central midfield partnership remains the same. Cheryshev and Torres come in out wide as my two wingers from the European game ran themselves ragged. Gameiro gets a break against "lesser" opposition.



My Spanish geography lesson continues, soon I will be able to navigate Europe 1 football stadium at a time, much like a local alcoholic can give directions based on pubs alone. I am hoping that my away day supporters took the shorter marked route, not only because the shorter distance is better for the environment, but because it provides opportunity to get some 3-0 flags made up and attached to cars as they drift north through Madrid, that's what I suggested to the supporters club anyway.

Kick off comes and my wrath goes nowhere, the 1st half is a dismal damp display where we keep the ball, create a few half chances but there is no spark, suggesting that the emotional roller coaster of being minutes away from a historic European scalp to then be pegged back even closer to the finish line, is going to take some time to recover from. That is why at half time I don't lay into the lads, as much as I want to keep our perfect record to the domestic campaign going, and as much as I feel we have more than enough to see off Valladolid I don't want to direct my anger internally. The old adage of winning your home games and drawing your away games creeps through my mind, as much as I think we need to maximise our points total before the real domestic heavyweights get their act together, I also understand it is early days and I still need to worm my way into the squads good books.



So after all that halftime psychological hard work on my part we went out and got the result in the 2nd half. The game didn't feel as comfortable as it looks on paper. We looked dominant straight from 2nd half kick off, and we justly deserved Gabriel Paulista sweeping home a knock down from a corner after only 5 minutes of the half. However we didn't kick on, I began to get that familiar "not killed off the game" itch, the banana skin was getting closer the longer it stayed at only 1-0. Santi Mina's goal on 71 minutes was the pick of the bunch, a well worked team move saw Rodrigo released into the left hand channel drawing one of their centre backs with him, he drove into the box and delivered a low cross for Mina to run onto in proverbial acres of space, a cool side footed finish saw us double our money. The itch only abated for 4 minutes though, from their corner a hopeful header looped up hit the post before ricocheting off Neto's back and into the net, unlucky, and I won't remind him that he is the 1st opponent to score against us in the league!

Carlos Soler continued his road to recovery by coming on for the last 20 minutes here, that man must have the tightest thighs in history! He scored two carbon copy goals within 10 minutes of each other, receiving the ball outside the area from a corner his 1st goal was a straight drive, keeper should have saved it, but it bounced off his ham like fists and ended up in the top right corner. His second was from the same place, but with curl, going in off the inside of the post to wrap the result up nicely.


This was the post match team talk, which to me seems a world away from the awkward silence and general snubbery that marked my 1st month in charge, so we are getting there! My final point this game might be slightly controversial, but I think this is my idea of a dominant performance. Hold on you might say, you've said it wasn't as easy as the score line suggests, and yes it wasn't. Hold on you might say, you've only had 52% possession, yes I will say that's my entire point. To be truly dominant, you have to let the opposition have the ball, they had almost equal time on the ball but they managed  less than 10% of our attempts at goal, which means while they had the ball, we were defensively dominant at restricting what they did with it. Obviously we were dominant going forward as well we scored 4 goals and peppered their goalkeeper with shots all with only having the ball half the time. Guess what I am trying to say is that possession based football only really keeps the ball out of your opponents hands (thank you Captain Obvious) but doesn't ensure that your defence is good enough to dominate your opponent on the rare occasions they do manage to get the ball.







Edited by Mandy42
premature submission!

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Harsh against Bayern there. Still signs of a great start!

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My word my post night shift brain is in full swing, I had uploaded my screenshots onto @andychar thread before I realised it, not sure many people expect a Valencia update in the middle of the Turks and Caicos Islands, if you see a screenshot of a tiger further down, for any reason at all, ignore it. Thus I apologise if any more blundering mistakes are made during this post!



All the V's this week, though to say the difference in our form, the odds are not as stacked in our favour as I would like, I'd also like the league form to be kept separate, mainly due to the fact that would eliminate the Bayern draw from my side of the screen, but also it would allow me to see only my opponents domestic form, but mainly I think I am picking at straws



I got asked in the tunnel before kick off if I could talk them through some of my changes, and I don't like the guy in the tunnel, he smells, and the tunnel is an enclosed space, but seen as though I gave him a walk through I feel obligated to provide you with the same courtesy, seen as I like you all much better than him, and I am quite sure you all smell simply delicious. So, last week, my defence picked itself because we hadn't conceded a goal, this week Alberto Benito, my single signing in the transfer window finally makes his debut for the club. This isn't some knee jerk reaction to us conceding a single goal, it is due to the unfortunate fact that Facundo Roncaglia (I might start calling him Ron, but then I would have to sign another 1 so I had 2 Ronnies in my team...) is on loan from Vigo and is not allowed to play against his parent club. I hope changing 1 cog in the back line won't spell the end of our run, but I give Alberto the don't screw this up stare (patent pending). Further up the pitch I swap my wingers once more, as they do most of the leg work. I have one eye on the Athletico Madrid game that comes 3 days after this one, thus Cheryshev and Torres get a rest for the "big game" and my South Korean wonder kid product of the academy gets to start. Kaylen Hinds, who I brought in on a 2 year loan deal when I thought Rodrigo was leaving gets to play, so that more important strikers get a rest for the "big game"



A few things, I am liking the pink! I am also wary or Aspas, who was tipped as a short outside for the competition golden boot, but the most interesting thing about this is, it's flaming narrow, which is either good for us because we exploit the wide areas, or bad for us because they will crowd the middle and over run our engine in central midfield... lets find out shall we.




We are at home and sod what the bookies think, I believe the difference in our form shows a difference in the class of our two teams, I try convey this to the players by telling them to go out there and attack. After a very open first ten minutes in which they look threatening but Alberto Benito looks gifted at right back, we break the deadlock on 11 minutes. We have a corner from the right, Parejo has an option to lay the ball off short, but for once this option is marked and I am silently urging him to just stick it in the mixer, he does. The defender manages a half clearance which Benito collects on the right hand corner of the box. He's already delivered 3 crosses in the 1st ten minutes that Rodrigo has been unlucky to steer home, so I have confidence he can deliver a good ball. He settles himself then delivers a curling banana shaped cross with his right foot, it looks like it is going to loop harmlessly over the crowd of defenders vying for a header in front of goal and drift harmlessly out of play for a goal kick. It does loop over the press of defenders, it comes down halfway between the back post and the far 18 yard line, about level with the 6 yard area, Lee Kanglin arrives and volleys home to give us the lead. My change at right back assisting my change at left winger... I might know what I'm doing after all!

Vigo had a flurry of possession that ended up in not a great deal and we went back to moving the ball around, Parejo brings the ball out from deep and lays it to Soler on the right wing, he takes three steps inside the opposition half before delivering the kind of ball dreams are made of. A long, high, curling ball that perfectly bisects the Vigo defence and lands at the feet of Rodrigo who takes one touch and finesse's it past the keeper to give us a 2 goal lead. I pull us back to a positive mentality as is my want with a 2 goal cushion and the game settles down even more. Vigo seem their most dangerous when they have just conceded and spray the ball around but again ultimately create nothing.

Halftime my assistant manager gives me the, "don't confuse the simple cavemen now" routine, and I send him out for more oranges, while he is gone I give all the lads the don't screw it up stare telling them that a 2-0 lead is all well and good until we let our performance levels drop then it will all go to hell in a hand basket. However I am not a caveman myself, if I had 1 eye on the Athletico game before kick off I've now got 1 and a half eyes on it. I take off Dani Parejo so he will be able to play and give Francis Coquelin a much needed run out to blow off some cobwebs, I am also quite certain than him and Geoffrey Kondogbia will be able to deliver a few "don't screw this up" stares of their own.

It's business as usual in the 2nd half, we don't carve anything out but we don't look vulnerable at all. On 60 minutes we have a throw in from the right just outside their area, Benito takes, Soler chests down and rolls the ball back across the corner of the area towards Kondogbia. The Vigo defence are all huddled around the penalty spot like hobos around a trashcan fire. His 1st, right footed, strike cannons off a defender, his second, left footed strike of the rebound curls round the defender and beats the keeper in the bottom left corner! 3 goal cushion, pull us back to a balanced mentality.

I expect Vigo to have another post conceding flurry but it doesn't come, we smother them off the ball and keep it for ourselves. Gaya brings the ball down the left, to the edge of the box and delivers a cross to the near post, Hinds is beaten out of it but the ball drops towards Kondogbia, having hit two peaches only minutes before it is no wonder that four Vigo players crowd round him as the ball drops, he plays a killer side footed pass on the volley to Soler who is in acres of space on the right side of the area, he takes a touch and buries it in the bottom left hand corner.

I bring Geoffrey off and bring Daniel Wass on instead, I also swap Rodrigo for Gameiro to give both of them a fighting chance of being effective in the next game. Vigo seem to have thrown the towel in completely and I am happy to keep the mentality at balanced, I am only going to be cautious at home if your Bayern Munich! In the closing stages of the game Francis Coquelin pulls up injured having twisted his knee.... It was your ankle for 6 months, are you ever gonna play properly for me! I can't take him off as I have used all my subs, and as he hobbles around he seems to be improving. On 84 minutes, another Benito throw in, Soler cross and Vigo clearance falls to Francis outside the box, he hits a straight drive that is going nowhere but the top right corner, he wheels away to the right corner flag and goes wild with delight, I understand, 1st goal after such a long absence, guess your knee isn't that twisted then... 

He's out for 4-5 days, and our final match of the month is away to Athletico in 3. Which just leaves this



In your face Marcelino


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Different teams but similar scores to my Turks and Caicos exploits! KUTGW!

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Last game of the month, and it's another big hitter, away to Athletico Madrid.


We look good, they look better than Vigo but not by much, we will have to see how we get on but Athletico is one of those teams I really don't like playing.



It's a middle of the road 3 and a half hours to the game, hope to see some away fans there as we will need the support!



This is where I start to get nervous, they line up, just like we do in a 4-4-2, and I am worried that their players are simply better than ours man for man across the park.



Cheryshev comes back in on the left, Benito keeps his place at right back after playing so well in the last game, Gameiro and Rodrigo renew their partnership up top. Coquelin is on the bench but I don't feel like risking him, I want him finally fit for big games not hobbling from week to week.



The first 10 minutes were a wild back and forth, Thomas Lemar came close with a free kick, which saw us break away down the left from a quick throw out by Neto. Atheletico won the ball back and played Diego Costa in between our centre backs, but a last second challenge won us the ball back and we went forward again, again down the left, this time the ball gets into the box before it is cleared, only as far as Kondogbia in his familiar hovering position just outside the box. He hits it on the half volley and there is no keeping it out, dream start for us!

We boss the 1st half, though we don't really create many chances we do limit Athletico considerably, a Godin glancing header that looks menacing from the 1st angle before you realise it has landed closer to the corner flag than the goal, a couple of Griezmann half chances that are smothered by our defence. Their tactic seems to be to hang on the shoulder of our last defender and lump the ball up for them to try run onto. Griezemann hobbles off on the half hour mark and is replaced by Nikola Kalinic. We give a good account of ourselves, Lemar peppers our goal with multiple freekicks but Neto is up to the task. On the stroke of half time a simple corner into the box provides Kalinic with a delivery he can get his head onto, a bullet header draws them level. I demand more and the team instantly responds creating 2 more chances before the halftime whistle goes.

I inform the players we have been the better team and send them out for the 2nd half, however they don't seem to be buying it and we don't play anywhere near as well. In the 1st period we won the majority of the 50/50s, were the ones going into the tackles with bite, but this half it is Athletico getting stuck in and winning the lions share. For all that they still create their best chances with the long ball forward, Costa has 3 chances, two of which are saved brilliantly and the 3rd is nicked off his toe. Which is why when Kalinic gives them the lead with a turn and shot from outside the area I am rather annoyed, it's in the corner but it doesn't look very spectacular and possibly could have been saved. Either way we are behind, 

I bring on Daniel Wass for Parejo and shortly after his introduction we have a free kick, it's a fair way out but he goes for it, their keeper palms it down and away, one of our players and three of theirs converge on the ball then the whistle goes. I figure it's an offside call or a tug of the shirt by our player, next thing the referee is going over to the VAR monitor and we have been awarded a penalty. Gameiro steps up to take it against his former club and slots it neatly into the bottom right corner. We are level! 

I contemplate pulling the mentality back to cautious or dropping my central midfielders back like I did against Bayern, before I can finish working out the pros and cons of each Lemar has the ball in the back of our net from a ludicrous pinball around the box and off the post that left Neto in no mans land. I am fuming, I push us up to attacking figuring our goal difference is good enough that if we are to lose then it makes no difference whether it is by 1 or 2. We create chances but we can't find a break through and suffer our 1st loss of the season.


That means the table looks like this, we sit top, only Athletico Bilbao can knock us off the top spot if they win their next game. In fairness, played 6 won 5 lost 1 is a heck of a better start than I expected, and with our league ambitions "only" to qualify for the Europa League then I think we are in a great place


Couple of massive games in October, a must not lose game away in Moscow to help solidify at least a Europa League spot for this years European competition. League games against close rivals at the top in Bilbao and Barcelona, rounded off with an as yet unknown Spanish Cup game, looking forward to it!

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So after the reality check of the Athletico Madrid loss in the league, it is time to buckle up for the start of a massive month. 1st up is


Nice to be favourites away from home, not so nice to be called inconsistent the minute you lose 1 game! I refuse to get my hopes up, however CSKA were very poor in the last round of games against Man Utd (managerless Man Utd, take the hint Marcelino and get a job you bum!) so hopefully they prove to be the groups weaker team and we can go a long way to securing a Europa League spot as a minimum.


Further hope! what an earth kind of formation is that, let alone as a concept, but also as a way to play at home? I can only guess it's 3 centre backs, a holding midfielder and 2 wing backs, the 2 central midfielders and 2 strikers. Interesting, but there looks a long way between the midfield and the strikers, plus it appears they only have 2 recognised wide players, which would suggest my over lapping full backs should provide me with enough pressure to keep them pinned back.



I contemplated dropping my two central midfielders back, like against Bayern, but resolved to stay positive (albeit with a balanced attitude) Wass swaps for Parejo (because he is grumbling about game time) Piccini comes in at right back for Benito (because he is grumbling about game time) Cheryshev plays on the left, because if a Russian can't get himself motivated for a trip to the motherland why bother having him at all. Santi Mina comes in so old man Gameiro can have a week off.


Just in case I ever decide to include Dennis Bergkamp as part of my coaching staff, I would quite like to know how far it is for him to get to my European Away games, also seen as more fans went to this away game than most of the away games in the same country I am slightly disappointed in them. If they decide to drive its at least a 40 hour slog through Spain, France, Germany, Poland and Belarus before we get to Russia, however if they fly there is a once a day none stop flight that takes just under 5 hours. It takes less time to get to Madrid than that but no where near as many of you went! Is this Champions League glory supporting? Or am I simply lacking the vision to see that we have a bigger following outside our country than in it.



One rather famous Englishman abroad once was quoted as saying "I have faith, but I also have a propensity for bruising." I felt very much like that during this game. In the 1st 20 minutes we had upwards of 78% possession and my thoughts about Moscow being the weak link of the group seemed to  be bearing fruit, they were at home and offered nothing, just sat hoping to soak up pressure. Unfortunately for us all we were managing to do with that amount of the ball was blaze attempts over the bar or win a increasingly futile number of corners. From one of these corners on 25 minutes, Daniel Wass goes short to Geoffrey Kondogbia who turns and lays the ball to the corner of the box for an on coming Cristiano Piccini, he continues into the box and hits a speculative effort which is low and in the middle of the goal, The CSKA keeper pretty much collapses where he is standing, throwing a forlorn arm out in an attempt to rectify the fact he has been wrong footed but cannot stop the ball trickling into the net next to him. It might be a damp squid of a goal but I am jumping up and down on the touchline (my living room) none the less, and my coaching staff (two dogs and my girlfriend) are looking at me wondering why I am suddenly getting carried away.

That is unfortunately that for the 1st half, while we dominate possession and create some chances we cannot force any kind of clinical opening and thus come in at half time just 1 up. I tell the players they are playing well and they need to keep it up. The 2nd half begins as a mirror image of the 1st (well we kicked off) but we keep possession and force a few corners. From another corner on 49 minutes the ball is pinging around in the CSKA box as they seem unable to clear it, the ball dribbles out to the left hand side of the D and Cheryshev unleashes a straight drive that cannons in off the inside of the left post and doubles our money! I don't make my usual mentality changes as we are 2 up and still maintaining over 70% possession. A couple of minutes later we have yet another corner, yet when this one breaks down CSKA come out on the break, with a long punt forward they find Martins running into our left channel. I am slightly horrified to find he only has 1 defender to beat before he is 1v1 with our keeper, forgive me but that doesn't seem like a very balanced attitude to corners! Piccini attempts a sliding tackle which Martins avoids, he cannot strike on to goal however as my defenders are flooding back and blocking his path to goal, however in their haste to get back goal side they leave supporting CKSA players relatively alone and Martins finds Nikola Vlasic in a pocket of space outside our area. He emulates Cheryshev with a thunderbolt of his own, hard and rising it finds the top corner with nothing Neto could do to prevent it. Our 2 goal cushion lasted only 2 minutes.

Now I faced a dilemma, I don't usually mentality switch without a 2 goal cushion, however it became clear that the CSKA tactic had been to absorb pressure for around 50-60 minutes and condense the game into a mad half hour of counter attacking football, thus with every chance we had, we opened ourselves up to a repeat of their 1st goal. My nerves made it through 10 more minutes, a few more broken down corners and last second recovering tackles and I pulled us back to cautious. The next time they broke on us we had 3 players back and cleaned it up ok, time ticked on and I felt I should introduce Coquelin, not just to give him some more fitness but to provide some more midfield bite to stop CSKA breaking forward. I once more toyed with dropping my 2 central midfielders deeper but resolved that a more cautious mentality and a more defensive player choice would suffice. Lee Kanglin replaced a tiring Denis Cheryshev on the left of the midfield and I hoped we would hold on. It was slightly nerve shredding last 15 minutes with only a 1 goal lead. On 88 minutes we rebuilt our cushion, a calm passing move in midfield led to Kanglin getting the ball on the left wing outside their box, he cut inside but found his path to goal blocked, he rolls the ball back to Coquelin who holds onto it before cycling it out wide to Gaya who has pushed up down the left wing into the space Kanglin vacated, he delivers a 1st time cross to the back post which Santi Mina rises and nods home. I have no reservations of dropping our mentality back to Cautious this time to see out the remainder of the game plus 4 minutes of injury time. I won't be counting my chickens, but I have renewed confidence we can get a result in the return fixture at home and thus guarantee continued European football of some kind this season. 

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13 hours ago, scarp said:

Great read as always :)

Thanks :D

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On 01/06/2019 at 23:43, Mandy42 said:

In my head the fans will be like "oh no not Joe Bloggs.... but on the bright side in a couple of years we'll get Neil Greenwood" Most likely he will retire after the Valencia sacking and this save will go nowhere fast :P

If the Manager you are following retires or doesn't get another job, if you wanted to continue the idea you could work backwards and follow the previous Manager at the previous club until you found yourself with a route to follow. 

Good idea for a save. :thup:

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2nd away day in a row, even if 1 of them was in the Champions League and the other is a domestic game. It's also the 2nd massive game in a row, we needed a result in Moscow and we got it, now we are away to Athletic Bilbao in a 1st vs 2nd clash.


After our 1-1 draw with Athletico Madrid, Bilbao remain the only perfect team in the league, and with them at home the odds seem to be in their favour. Though the same people who see them as favourites admit that they feel they are performing above expectations, beginning of the season they were tipped to finish 6th one place behind us, seems we are both performing better than expected.

On the one hand I am hopeful of a result, I would take a draw here, any points we take are a bonus, as I still feel the bigger guns in the league are not really firing properly yet and we are going to need whatever cushion we can get to maintain our presence there or there abouts at the top of the division.


The reason I will be happy with a draw is that my players are knackered, I remember earlier comments from my backroom staff that we have limited quality outside the match day squad, and I can feel that as I look over the players and realise that if I had my way, the team that played against CSKA would be the team I fielded in this game, however some of them are on their last legs just getting off the plane back from Moscow. That is why Lato starts at left back, Lee Kanglin at left midfield and Coquelin in the centre. Piccini keeps his spot because he came to me shortly after the plane landed and informed me that he didn't understand how a recent signing wasn't fitting into my plans more often. I informed him that I would play him more games, I didn't seem to have the option to tell him that I wasn't the manager who had signed him, damn you Marcelino! With regards to the formation, I dropped Coquelin back as he is a natural in a ball winning midfielder role in that position, to give Bilbao some respect as the in form team in the league, but also because I am finally growing as a manager!

So during the pre match press conference the reporters were all asking me about what I felt about my opposite number receiving the manager of the month award and especially asking for my opinion on his brand of direct football. Now I figured that direct football meant playing the ball long and having players around the strikers to compete for knock downs and second balls, thus I figured that putting Coquelin deeper in the gap between midfield and defence would give him a chance to compete for those knock downs and hopefully stifle their direct play.


Come match day their formation reinforced that belief, it almost looks like two separate units, one to break up our attacking play and then move the ball long to the attacking unit who will then work together to score. On reflection I only feel that its since I bought FM19 fairly recently in my managerial career that I have taken to paying attention to these details and tinkering with the little things to try have certain desired effects.


I am posting this from work (shhh) so I can't get a screenshot of the away day route, but I will edit it in seamlessly as and when I am home ;)



The first half hour was a very cagey affair, we had high levels of possession but were unable to really do anything with it, all the chances seemed to be coming from them, which I guess when playing direct they wouldn't need a lot of the ball. It wasn't as if they were constantly knocking on the door, but they were definitely a threat. A corner in the 1st ten minutes sent Neto into a sprawling dive as the ball hit the joint of bar and post and bounced over. For long periods the ball became bogged down in the trenches of midfield, tackles and fouls flying on both sides. The closer we got to the half hour the more we seemed to assert ourselves into the game, though despite our superior possession our best chances came from us breaking up their play. Our 1st goal on 33 minutes came from such a moment, Bilbao were playing some head tennis trying to work the ball up the pitch, but it fell to Coquelin who was sitting deep, he rolled the ball out to Soler on the right hand side halfway line, he progressed about a third of the way into the opponents half before delivery what was becoming his trademark ball, the long, banana curling cross from deep. Rodrigo had peeled away beyond the far post and the defenders had lost sight of him, he hit it 1st time, not quite Paulo Di Canio spectacular but a great goal none the less, I was ecstatic to take the lead mentally feeling it was almost against the run of the play.

The game once more descended into a stalemate, not many chances created, fouls committed on both sides of the ball, I was more than happy to go into halftime with a goal advantage. In halftime injury time we had a free kick pretty much on the exact spot that Carlos Soler had delivered his fabulous cross. This time Daniel Wass was standing over the ball and he delivered a decent free kick into the penalty area, both the referees whistle and the linesman's flag sprang to life immediately and a group of players were tangled in a sprawling heap along the 6 yard box. The referee duly consulted the VAR monitor and awarded us a penalty, Gamiero dispatched it calmly into the bottom left corner and we doubled our lead on the stroke of halftime.

The only draw back to the otherwise spotless 1st half was me having to withdraw Francis Coquelin on 37 minutes, he had pulled up with a thigh injury and at 1st I had hoped to nurse him to halftime, but he was having none of it and was signalling he wanted to come off. I was beginning to wonder whether he was going to be a player who was serially injured, or whether I was just not giving him enough recovery time to get his match sharpness up. I didn't feel good about leaving him out there when he was performing such a key role in todays formation. Geoffrey Kondogbia replaced him, which was sub optimal seen as he was still exhausted from the Moscow game. Personnel changes aside I told the players at halftime that the game wasn't won, the hard work wasn't over and they had to keep on performing in order to see this through. Most people agreed with this, however Rodrigo seemed quite stressed by the idea of continued hard work, why am I not surprised!

My 1st order of business almost directly from kick off was to pull us from balanced to cautious, I wanted to preserve as much strength in the legs as possible and not succumb to any of Bilbao's direct football shenanigans. From a corner on 54 minutes Wass played it shortish (near edge of the penalty area isn't exactly a rolling ball to a guy standing a yard away from him) to Lato, he pushed into the box and shaped to shoot, he had forced a save from their keeper in the 1st half from this exact routine so the defenders converged on him accordingly. He played a backwards pass out of the area to Lee Kanglin who was in the D, he hit it 1st time left footed and it daisy cut it's way across the ground before slotting into the bottom left hand corner. Game over as far as I was concerned, job done as an attacking force, I pulled us back to defensive and shifted Daniel Wass back into a deep midfield role sitting next to Kondogbia, he didn't like that, it didn't suit his style, so I removed him and replaced him with Dani Parejo who was more than happy to play there. Piccini needed to come off for Benito as playing back to back 90 minutes was always going to be unlikely at his level of match sharpness, I just hope he takes that into consideration.

Final thought at the final whistle, if you beat the manager of the month the game after he won his award, should you win his award?  

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On 12/07/2019 at 22:13, Mandy42 said:

Final thought at the final whistle, if you beat the manager of the month the game after he won his award, should you win his award?   

Its how Scotland became unoffical World Champions so I believe it has to count!

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I've had a message from Marcelino, he's informed me he will get a job when I start posting more than once a week! cheeky sod....


1st home game in a while, playing against a team fancied to go down, will admit this is the game I paid the least attention to this month, still got Barca in the league and some crunch Champions league games to play.


The team selection reflects this, Neto is captain probably due to him being the only player who has featured in a significant number of games this season. The rest are either playing because they are complaining for more first team football or because they are rebuilding their fitness from injury, or simply not being picked.


It looks defensive, and the goalkeeper is their star player, hope he doesn't have a blinder and keep us out.



This was a 2nd string performance by a largely 2nd choice group of players, we got ahead early, but their 6 attempts on our goal seemed to be spread evenly between our 1st and 2nd goal. We didn't take a firm grip on the game and I remained nervous throughout. The two chances they got on target were decent and Neto had to make 2 impressive saves to protect the clean sheet. Hopefully the emotional turmoil I went through in this game will be worth it if we secure results in the harder games this month



Off the pitch a little nugget to improve my mood, now all depends if Rodrigo does a U turn about staying or not!

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as you might have begun to gather from my lack of updating I kind of ran out of steam on this save, I can't really put a finger as to why, so I'll be starting something fresh, will see how it goes :) I might at some point return to the "Nemesis" Idea further down the line, maybe something with more structure and more managers, we shall see.

As always,  thanks for reading :D 

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