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[FM 20] The Nearly Men, Vol. IV: I Am Not A Demon. I Am A Lizard. A Shark. A Heat-Seeking Panther. I Want To Be Bob Denver On Acid Playing The Accordion.

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A WC in Greece with our weather in summer would be an awesome idea indeed.:cool:

Edited by Sheriff7

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August 2041.

We're facing the same problems that I tend to face at one point or another, at most clubs in this save.

We're young. We're immensely talented. Brimming with potential. But we haven't met that potential yet. And that means we struggle (at times) to break down defenses.

We need to score more. That much is clear. But when your main goalscoring threat is a largely untested 17 year-old, who only joined the side recently...that could be a challenge. Above and beyond any issues we might have with creating chances in the final third.

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Gerc, Gerc, it rhymes with Krauftwerk!

I know. It's a wonderful "problem" to have. "My wonderkids haven't developed yet." Boo-****ing-hoo.

The thing is, I can see how good this time can be. In time. And, I'm impatient.

A 1-nil win at the Auguste-Delaune, followed by a 1-0 win in Rotterdam. We were in complete control of both ties, but need to develop a killer instinct.

Especially since we've drawn Matthias Kaltenbach's Partizan, Marcelo Gallardo's Milan, and Laurent Koscielny's Athletic in the Group Stage. Our eyes are on 3rd, and a spot in the Europa League knockout stage.

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5 hours ago, Sheriff7 said:

A WC in Greece with our weather in summer would be an ausame idea indeed.:cool:

Meant to respond earlier, but it appears I forgot...I'm very much looking forward to it!

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August 2041.

The other transfer that has been brewing all summer is with youth academy graduate Ibrahima Sory Soumah, who had played in our 2nd XI. He was repeatedly agitating for a pay raise (into the 30k range), which is far beyond what I would consider, especially given his ability and role in the squad. He threw his toys out of the pram when I rejected a few offers, so enough was enough -- I negotiated a $10.75M fee (rising to $18M with add-ons), plus a 50% sell-on clause with Cristian Zapata's Stuttgart, and off he goes.

(Zinedine Zidane's Real Madrid had actually made a higher bid, but Soumah elected to go to Stuttgart. Speaking of Zidane...check out his managerial CV, as of August 2041, 20 years after he was sacked by Madrid at the end of the 2020/21 campaign. He's on his 5th overall appointment at Madrid, with virtually nothing to show from the last 20 years. Now, where was I...)

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We've replaced Soumah in the 2nd XI with Sergio Alonso, on a flat $7.5M fee from Alaves. He'll play as the roaming playmaker in our 2nd XI.

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17 minutes ago, rodesire said:

Killer group.. Giant killer it is

Probably a big ask this year...but I would be extremely pleased with a 3rd place finish and romp through the Europa League knockout rounds.

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September 2041.

Following the Ivorians' dominance at the Cup of Nations, we've risen to number 4 in the world rankings.

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I cannot wait for the World Cup. And with performances like these, we're definitely going to make waves -- the 1st XI smashed Nigeria 5-nil, with the 2nd XI winning 6-nil in Rwanda. Just look at those sexy heatmaps. Fierce.

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September 2041.

A massive night in Belgrade. A hero's welcome, for Dobias, Meleke and the managerial team, prior to the match.

But for 90 minutes, no quarter was given. No punches were pulled. And we walked away with all 3 points, courtesy of Hassan Sellami.

It was an open bar at the Itchy Kitty when we eliminated **** Star just a few short weeks ago. We cannot expect any such hospitality tonight. You can feel it in the air. A change in the wind.

We've got a long way to go still. But a new day is coming.

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We leave Belgrade with all 3 points, after a quick game of #HideTheSellami in the 8th minute.

(Full disclosure: Immediately after I posted this on FtCS, I left the match and FM crashed. Fortunately, I am on weekly autosaves and only had to replay this match and the Nimes match that immediately preceded it. We won the replay, 2-1, on Instant Result.)

Edited by ManUtd1

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October 2041.

The frustration is real, as we had multiple chances to win the game on matchday 2 against Milan, but could find the back of the net. The supporters' songs about Gerc have gone from cheeky and fun, to slightly more malevolent, as his scoreless run continues.

While our staring shadow striker isn't scoring, we are still top of Ligue 1. 22 goals for, only 1 against -- the only blemish being our 2nd XI's shameful display against Caen. If Gerc can start producing...

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The Ivorians finish World Cup qualifying in style, beating Nigeria 2-1 in Abuja, followed by a comprehensive 1-nil win over Libya. The World Cup cannot come soon enough.

Edited by ManUtd1

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November 2041.

My brain is mush tonight after a long, long day. So let's get right to it.

An incredibly frustrating night in Bilbao on matchday 3. We had our chances and didn't take them, dropping all 3 points in a 2-1 loss. Back in Reims, however, we fought to the bitter end, securing a massive 3-1 win over the Basques to see us move to the top of a 4-way tie in Group C.

The saga of Donato Gerc has continued on, although he was unlucky not to score against Bilbao. The Basque keeper pulled off at least 3 big saves on him. Brutal, brutal stuff. Finally, in his 16th appearance for the club, Gerc broke his duck, kicking off the scoring in a 4-1 win over PS-****ing-G. It's about time, son.

Two quick friendlies for the Ivorians close out a brilliant year, straightforward wins over Colombia and Tunisia, and we're that much closer to the World Cup. For the moment, though, our focus can be on Stade de Reims.

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Edited by ManUtd1

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November 2041.

I'm just going to leave this here.

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#GTL? Get. That. Ligue.

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December 2041.

December began with the World Cup draw for the Ivory Coast -- we'll face Scotland and Australia. I'm pleased, although I'm getting a little impatient for it to start.

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After the incredible campaign we've had thus far with Stade de Reims, we end 2041 with a loss to Toulouse. Frustrating, but those are the breaks.

Matchday 6 in the Champions League Group Stage was a tough one -- a 3-1 loss, away to Milan. A fair result on the night, albeit a frustrating one. In the end, I'm not upset. We'll be playing Champions League football after the holidays, which is more than I'd hoped for at the start of the season, and certainly more than I expected once the Groups were drawn.

We will face Frank Lampard's Schalke in the First Knockout Round.

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Overall, thinks are going as well as we could realistically hope for. We're top of Ligue 1, leading Ligue 1 in both goals scored and goals against. Monaco and Lyon began the year as the favorites for the title, but they keep dropping points. There is a lot of football to be played, but things are looking good.

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Edited by ManUtd1

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Confirmed: Gerc is the Reverse Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.  He's good for a goal, but only in the 8th minute.

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March 2042.

Watching Fat Frank Lampard cavort about the touchline, dabbing with Pitbull after their early goal, fills me with rage. The arrogance is astounding. Sure, we gifted them the goal, early in the 1st leg, but we had the last laugh. Especially given the comical nature of our 3rd goal, a deflection leaving Guerreiro helpless in Ze German's goal. We'll take a 3-1 win over the Bundesliga-leading Smurfs any day of the week.

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We always knew the return leg was going to be a battle. An away goal, all but necessary. Junior Konate delivered in the 23rd, with Geoffroy's 88th-minute header securing our passage through to the quarterfinals. Zlatan couldn't help himself. He dabbed in front of Lampard, setting off a post-match scuffle that has captured headlines everywhere. The young upstarts from Reims have done it. Schalke are out. We're moving on. Anything can happen.

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The first knockout round is over, and no "easy" draws remain. We'll ride this as far as we can, but the reality is that we're already doing far better than I'd hoped for.

As much as I want us to make a run in the Champions League, I want to make sure we don't lose our focus domestically. The Ligue 1 title is ours to lose, and we could use the 1st seed for next year's assault on the Champions League.

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We draw Velicko Kaplanovic's Roma.

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March 2042.

The World Cup cannot come soon enough. We're ready.

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April 2042.

We could not have asked for more. 90 minutes where we were not at our best, but we were good enough. Good enough to take a two-goal lead back to Rome. The pundits may say we're living on borrowed time, but we're alive. Gloriously alive.

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At the Olimpico, Deble headed home a corner from Sellami in the 11th minute, sending the traveling support into raptures. A vital away goal. But Roma were not done for. A brilliant finish from distance brought them level on the night, while Ales Maly pounced on an errant backpass from Dobias shortly before the half. 45 minutes, all to play for.

A quick game of #HideTheSellami in the 46th minute meant Roma needed two more. We were resolute. We held firm.

A Cinderella story. The neutral's favorite. Playing champagne football...most of the time.

Into the semifinals, to face Raul Valbuena's Wolves. While we hold a 7-point lead in Ligue 1, with a game in hand.

Best hope we don't turn into a pumpkin any time soon.

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April 2042.

8 points, 5 matches. The 2nd XI found a narrow win away to Saint-Etienne, but the 1st XI drew against a defensive Brest.

We definitely have the harder run-in. A three-match stretch...a murderer's row.

But first things first. Wolves are coming to town...then Nice...then to England. We'll see where we are at that point.

I don't want to think too far ahead...but I can't believe we might be 180 minutes from the Champions League final.

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May 2042.

A hard-fought 90 minutes in Reims. If only we'd made it through the full 94.

Wolves found the 93rd minute winner, against the run of play. A bitter pill to swallow.

We have it all to do in the Black Country.

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Posted (edited)

May 2042.

The dream is over. We weren't good enough. The better team won.

But we will not rest on our accomplishments to-date. The planning for next season's campaign began on the flight home. The 2nd XI beat Nice, 3-nil, so we're on the verge of the Ligue 1 title.

In terms of personnel, decisions must be made. Zlatan has been dispatched to Sweden to run the rule over a young Norweigan-Icelandic prospect with a ridiculous name. They're a match made in heaven.

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Edited by ManUtd1

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Those Who Accomplish Great Things Pay Attention To Little Ones

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Stade de Reims / Ivory Coast - Season Review 2041/42

Prove that we belong in Europe? Done and done.

Not only did we run riot across the continent, we secured Reims' first Ligue 1 title since 1962. 80 years.

The best is yet to come? It most certainly is. The Board seem to agree, and have agreed to build a new stadium. It will open in 2044. The question being whether we can consecrate it as Champions League winners...we've got two chances to make that dream a reality.

Fittingly, the stadium will be named after Raymond Kopa. A club legend who lifted the league title in 1953, 1955, 1960 and 1962, with an appearance in our ill-fated 1956 European Cup final.

In his honor, we shall conquer. But first things first...Zlatan is packing the asparagus, because we're off to Greece for the World Cup.

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All things considered, this was a banner year. Obviously.

Champions of Ligue 1. Champions League semifinalists. With a new stadium on the way.

I do think we overperformed a bit in the Champions League. But that's the least of my "concerns." Our campaign in 2042/43 will be bolstered by the automatic 1st seed we get, as Ligue 1 champions.

Goals for 2042/43:   Challenge for the World Cup title. Make a run in the Champions League knockout rounds. Defend our Ligue 1 title.

Squad | League Overview | Transfers

Finances | Income | Expenditure

Fixtures 1 | Fixtures 2

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European Review

In the Champions League, Raul Valbuena's Wolves beat Marcelo Gallardo's Milan, 2-nil.

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Champions League: Overview | Knockout Rounds

In the Europa League, Florian Martin's Napoli beat Gerardo Seoane's Everton, 3-0 on penalties, after a 1-1 draw.

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Europa League: Overview | Knockout Rounds

In the Europa Conference League, Nick Viergever's Cercle Brugge beat Remy Riou's Borussia Dortmund, 2-nil.

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Europa Conf. League: Overview | Knockout Rounds

In the active leagues, Ognjen Vranjes’ Aston Villa won their 4th straight Premier League title. Marcelo Gallardo's Milan reclaimed the Serie A title. Paolo Fonseca's Sevilla won their 5th straight La Liga title, the 8th time in 10 years that neither Barcelona nor Real Madrid have won the title. Frank Lampard's Schalke won the Bundesliga title, their 2nd in 4 years. Baba Toure's Club Brugge won their 6th straight Belgian title, their 13th in 16 years. Nestor el Maestro's Panathinaikos won their 18th straight SuperLeague title. Matthias Kaltenbach's Partizan won their 10th straight title. Finally, Joao Nunes' IFK Norrkoping won the 2041 Allsvenskan title, their 4th in 5 years.

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Save/Challenge Overview

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Cross-posted at From the Cheap Seats.

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Posted (edited)

2042 World Cup, Group Stage. 

If there was any question as to whether we would show up this year, that was dispelled against Scotland.  2 goals in the first 10 minutes against Scotland, whom we utterly dominated even after our foot was taken off the gas after the 3rd goal. 

Payback, for the humiliation of 2038.  And a promise, to the opponents we will face as the tournament progresses. 

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The 2nd XI were tasked with defeating Australia.  An early goal from Adama Traore set us on the path, with Didier Kone putting the result beyond a doubt in the 48th, followed by 2 stoppage time goals.  Again, we were in complete control, even if our finishing left something to be desired.

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We draw New Zealand in the Second Round, with the winner of Spain-Cameroon lying in wait.  Possible quarterfinal opponents include England and France. 

Buckle up, lads.  It’s about to get tasty. 

And I’m not just talking about Zlatan’s Golden Fountain.

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Edited by ManUtd1

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2042 World Cup, Second Round.

Given the relatively straightforward draw, we deploy the 2nd XI to face New Zealand.  We brought a deep, experienced bench for a reason.  Zlatan took some convincing, but he sees the value in letting our 1st XI approach the final stages with fresh legs.

Anicet Toure repayed our faith in the 14th minute, followed by a penalty in the 18th.  We failed to capitalize on our domination and our profligacy gave the Kiwis a glimmer of hope after an 81st minute goal against the run of play.  But we closed the match out firmly. 

Comfortably through to the Third Round, even if the scoreline did not reflect the match, on balance.

We’ll face Danny Cowley’s Spain – the team sitting atop the FIFA rankings – after they eliminated Cameroon, 1-nil.

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2042 World Cup, Third Round.

June 29th.  16 days after our opening match against Scotland.  16 days in which our 1st XI have been able to rest, recover and prepare while the 2nd XI fought on the pitch. 

Some called us crazy.  They aren’t necessarily wrong.  But fears that the 1st XI would not have the sharpness associated with tournament play were overblown.  Misplaced. 

While Spain enjoyed possession, we were the only side with menace.  Ange Diallo gave us the lead in the 30th minute with a beautiful header, assisted by Sangare who cut the ball back into the box dangerously, after Kante sent him through.  The real dagger, though, came just before the half when Kouao found Kante breaking behind the high Spanish line.  2-nil. 

The pattern of the match continued until the 75th minute – Spain controlling possession, with nothing to show for it, while we threatened to score again.  The best chance of the match for the Spaniards saw Athletic legend Javier Diez one-on-one with Gouamene, but Franck stood firm to deny him.

2-nil.  A massive win.  We will face Paul Pogba’s France, ranked 2nd in the world by FIFA.

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2042 World Cup; Quarterfinals.

A tight match.  Back and forth.  Chances on both ends. 

First blood to the Ivorians, though, as Kouao whips in a dangerous free kick, finding Kobenan on the back post to head home under heavy pressure.

Statistically, France are in control.  More possession.  More shots. 

Their patience pays off in the 63rd minute.  Romain Pieri firing home a rebound after a massive save from Gouamene, at close range.

We dig in and fight for the winner.  But it doesn’t come.  Extra time.

Neither side can break the deadline.  The lottery of penalties will decide who goes through.

Orlande Kante buries his.  Pieri equalizes for France.  1-1.

Didier Kone fires wide, but Gouamene makes the save as Fournier tries a cheeky chip down the middle. Still 1-1.

Alassane Dao smashes his penalty home, only for Bouzid to find the same corner. 2-2.

Junior Kouadio sends the keeper the wrong way, and Gouamene again reads the French well…Blanc trying a cheeky chip down the middle!  Saved!  3-2 after 4 rounds.

Adama Traore will take our 5th penalty…to send us into the semifinals.  Replaced in the 1st XI by Niamke, but still a valued, senior member of the squad.  With ice in his veins.  He buries it.  4-2.  Through on penalties.  Gouamene, once again the hero in penalties.

We will face Juan Manuel Azconzabal’s 3rd-ranked Argentina, who beat Anthony Lopes’ Portugal, 1-nil.

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2042 World Cup, Semifinals.

A beautiful night at the Spyros Louis.  Our old stomping grounds.  The scene of so many triumphant nights.  Many nights where – as tonight – our opponent would sit back and hope not to be overrun.

Argentina’s deep-lying, conservative 541 told me all that we needed to know.  We’d been forced to rotate the squad, but nevertheless Argentina were not playing to win – rather, they were playing to not lose. 

A header from Meleke is cleared off the line in the 2nd minute, proving they were right to be cautious.

The first 45 sees Argentina faff about with the ball, a poor man’s imitation of Louis Van Gaal at his most pedantic.  We’re the only side playing with intent.  But we must make our chances count.

The deadlock is finally broken in the 70th minute, as Kouassi heads home at the near post, off an inswinging corner from Kouao.  1-nil.  20 minutes to play. 

Substitutions to address our tired legs.  While Argentina are less defensive, they’ve yet to come out of their shell when Niamke buries one in he 83rd.  Smashed it.  From 18 yards.  2-nil. No keeper would’ve touched it.

An 89th minute penalty is buried by Toure, after Didier Kone is taken down in the box.  A clear penalty.  Never a doubt.

3-nil.  A fair reflection of the match. 

We will face Ulisses Garcia’s Switzerland in the final, back here at the Spryos Louis.

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2042 World Cup, Final.

A massive night.  The biggest possible stage.  And we're prepared.

A dream start, as we earn a penalty in the 4th minute – a probing free kick from Kouao seeks Kante taken down.  Our talismanic forward makes no mistake. 1-nil.

Kone buries one in the 24th minute, only for it to be called back by VAR for offsides.  A beautiful through ball in the box.  A shame.  It would have been no less than we deserved.  The Swiss have been content to possess the ball miles from our goal, afraid to push forward.  While we look dangerous at every turn.

We reach halftime in control.  But in need of a second goal, to ensure that the Swiss do not feel a lifeline is available to them.  With more than 30 minutes to play, the Swiss become more aggressive in mentality and shape, but cannot find a way through our defensive lines.  We are creating chances, but not finishing them.  Something has to give.

In the end, it is the Swiss resolve that fails.  Every attack, snuffed out before they can reach a dangerous area.  We remain firm.  Resolute.

And we claim what is ours.  The World Cup title.

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The flight back to Reims, we again know that the time has come to move on.  There is at least one intriguing possibility out there…one we have to carefully consider.

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8 hours ago, Rikulec said:

:applause:

:brock:

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Posted (edited)

Before we hit continue in the save, I just have to come back to something that caught my attention during the World Cup, that I haven't really looked at yet (much less posted about).

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$209M for Sebastian Esposito...nice. The other thing that I find interesting is that only 1 of these transfers is to a newly-rising club, Alberto Rivera to Aston Villa from Schalke in June 2039, for $157M. He's alright, I guess. If you're into that kind of thing.

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Aymen Mejri is probably the best player I've had in the save, to date, during my tenure at a club. His highest fee was a mere $34.5M. Crazy. The drop-off of his physical stats is painful to see.

Pierre Krucken is right up there, among the "best" I've managed, but he's stayed at Gladbach for his entire career thus far. I can't believe he's only 28. What a player.

Jork Lozano is another favorite -- but he's another player who hasn't left Gladbach (after his $17.5M move from Panathinaikos).

Another player that deserves a shout out, who I only managed as a brilliant young prospect at Partizan, is Davy Maes. I cannot believe he's only 22.

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Yeah, he's proper filthy, that Davy Maes.

Edited by ManUtd1

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July 2042.

The phone has been ringing off the hook since our resignation from the Ivory Coast.

England. Germany. Brazil. No. Nein. Não.

None of those positions stirred anything in us. Neither in our hearts, nor our loins.

But the last phone call? Belgium? Oh, yes. That'll do. That'll do quite nicely.

It took little convincing. We are more than ready to see what we can do with this talented group.

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Belgium is a side that I always look at and wonder...why aren't they doing better? The quality of players that they generate...tasty. It isn't like they're doing that poorly, either. Third-place at the 2018 World Cup, runners-up in 2038. Winners of the 2020 Euros.

Rather, the Belgians just need a little extra something to get them over the top.

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A wealth of talent. And we'll be working on a revised tactic at both Reims and Belgium, that seeks to get the best out of Davy Maes, a player I brought to Partizan towards the end of my tenure who has since developed into a truly world-class player at the age of 22.

More to follow re the tactic. Watch this space.

Finally, just a taste of the talent we'll have on offer:

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In before you launch the 7 midfielder tactic

(I’ll be stealing it regardless ;)) 

 

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34 minutes ago, Mandy42 said:

In before you launch the 7 midfielder tactic

(I’ll be stealing it regardless ;)) 

 

Technically, we're already playing a 370, if you count all the midfielders as one group...

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6 hours ago, ManUtd1 said:

Technically, we're already playing a 370, if you count all the midfielders as one group...

Coming soon, a 0-10-0 formation.

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December 2042.

Too much to do. Not enough hours in the day. Nevertheless, we've managed to progress through early December 2042, slowly by slowly.

First things first, the Ivory Coast initially looked like they were going to go with Thierry Henry for some reason, but in the end they named Gennaro Gattuso as the manager to take over for Nicolaj Bur. Neither has much of a CV, but...it is what it is.

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We also have 3 new signings from the summer to introduce -- Faðir Hóra, the Norwegian-Icelandic kid who we landed for $3.2M from BK Hacken, after Landry Soumahoro left for Watford ($34M, plus incentives); Amine Mazhoud ($750k, Club Africain), who was brought in once Oumar Brou threw a fit about leaving for Cercle Brugge (at $25M, plus incentives, who was I to argue); and, Jelle Dierickx ($7.5M, Zulte Waregem) to replace Fermin Kouakou who also left for Cercle Brugge ($14M, plus incentives). All three are playing in the 2nd XI. Solid business, in my view.

On the field, the Belgians have taken care of business in a tough Nations League Group, finishing level on points with Spain but going through to the semifinals by viture of the tiebreaker. Our planned tactical tweak has been a mess so far, but we've managed to secure results using PM Haaientand.

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Domestically, Reims look good value to defend the Ligue 1 title. We sit atop the table, leading Ligue 1 in goals scored (42), 2nd in goals against (12). We've dropped some silly points away to Rennes and Lens, but otherwise are doing everything we need to do.

In Europe, however, we've been dropping points needlessly. We controlled both matches against Partizan, and our wastefulness means that we face a tough trip to Felix Uduokhai's resurgent Real Madrid (enjoying their best season in years) on Matchday 6, to see who will go through to the knockout rounds.

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The Ballad of Toothless Bob, Vol. 4 - A Dark Night, With A Dark Purpose

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Previously, on the Ballad of Toothless Bob:

Volume 1: Nicolaj Bur risks disrupting the space-time continuum with a casual roll of the dice, while a Leeds United supporter known only as Toothless Bob prepares his army of children for the new season.

Volume 2: Toothless Bob and his army of children are forced to flee Yorkshire, one step ahead of the law.

Volume 3: A dark dream haunts Toothless Bob, who has grown complacent living with his child army in the French countryside, away from the prying eyes of the authorities. A dark dream, pulling him to Madrid.

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It was the ideal night.  At least, it seemed to be.

A big European night for a club that has had far too few such nights in recent years.  A distraction, in and of itself.  Perhaps the perfect distraction.  The madridistas could be expected to maintain their focus on the pitch, as their side host the upstarts from Reims in a make-or-break match to determine who will progress to the knockout rounds.

Champagne football?  Bob chuckles softly to himself as the elevator slows, approaching their destination. 

Why would you want to ruin a perfectly good football match with champagne?  A pint is all a man really needs.  Well, multiple pints, really.

Pulled at the Old Peacock back in Leeds, all the better.  Poured by Betsy.  Gods, Betsy…now there’s a woman. 

The elevator doors open with a soft ding, bringing Bob’s mind back to the task at hand. 

A sharp intake of breathe, as Bob and Ethan, his young protégé, step into the hallway, deep beneath the Bernabeu.  The sounds of the Champions League anthem, now echoing around the pitch five stories above their heads, cannot be heard. 

There’s no one else there.  A deep sigh, as the tension releases.

After all, why should there be anyone down here?  As best as Bob and Ethan could determine without setting foot on the stadium grounds, there shouldn’t be anything down here other than storage space. 

Then again, rumors abound that additional layers lie beneath the stadium, from the days of the Campo de Chamartín.  That the Bernabeu was simply built atop some of the old foundations.  And whatever was already beneath them.  A true unknown, although the rumors speak of labyrinthian catacombs.

This is where all of their planning hits a wall.  Where instinct must take over. 

Bob and his young protégé lock eyes.  They’ve thought this part through, to the extent possible.   

They each nod.  15 minutes.  No more.  No less.  Fifteen minutes to begin scouting, to find a hint of what they’re looking for.  Then, regroup.  Re-assess.  Change the plan, if need be.

The reality is that neither Bob nor his young protégé know what they’re looking for – at least, not exactly.

The recurring dream that led them here is full of ambiguous signs and symbols.  Deep within Bob’s mind, he wonders…have they misunderstood?  Is this the path?

That is why a distraction was needed.  Why time was needed.  90 minutes.  To search.  To hopefully find what they’re looking for. 

The usual distraction – characterized primarily by various forms of induced chaos and mayhem – is enjoyable in its own right, of course.

Nothing quite like a bit of the old ultra-violence.   

As the saying goes, you can take the boy out of Leeds, but you can’t take the Leeds out of the boy.

But a full-frontal assault on the Bernabeu…that’s another matter entirely, no matter how up for it young Ethan and the others might be.  No, this job requires stealth.  Subtlety. 

Neither of which is a hallmark of this crew, Bob and young Ethan both realize.  But Ethan has planned well.  Again.  He’s too clever by half.  Bob knows it is only a matter of time before Ethan challenges his authority.  But that’s an issue for another day.

Bob knows he has to focus on the task at hand.  The recurring dream that has led him here.  If he closes his eyes, he can see it clearly. 

Nine shadowed figures, surrounding a kneeling figure.  At times, the kneeling figure in the dream has worn the visage of Sergio, the Son of the Son.  At times, it is another face… Another face, but somehow the same face.  A chant, repeating in a droning monotone, beating against his skull. 

Soon comes the day all shall be free; even you, and even me...

Soon comes the day all shall die; even you, but never I.

This is the mystery that has driven them to this place.  On this night.  In search of answers.

Bob nods to Ethan.  “Take care, lad.  15 minutes.  Then we reconvene.  Right here.”

Ethan nods.  His face devoid of emotion.  Devoid of expression.  “Yes, Boss.  Right here.  15 minutes.”

One last look passes between them.  Unreadable. 

They go their separate ways.

Bob heads to the left, passing doors and hallways that extend into the unknown, taking several flights of stairs down into the depths of the Bernabeu, and whatever it is that lies...beneath

He walks without thought, letting fate play its hand.  He knows that Ethan would not approve of the careless, haphazard approach.  But that’s something the young ones never seem to understand…sometimes, the lack of a plan is, in fact, the most important part of the plan.  Sometimes, you must let fate and chaos rule. 

Lost in thought, Bob wanders aimlessly.  Thinking about Betsy.  Lost in his memory.

Until he stumbles over some unseen obstacle, pitching face forward into a pile of dust-covered debris.

Looking backwards with disgust, Bob grunts.  Debris is scattered in the hallway behind him, covered in a thick layer of dust.  His footprints, weaving through the debris until the fatal moment of contact. 

But that isn’t what has caught his eye. No, it is the other footprints in the dust. Not his. Surely not his.

Someone else has passed this way recently…more than one person, it appears. 

Bob looks ahead, seeing only darkness punctuated by soft, flickering lights, the other footsteps fading into darkness.  The sound of dripping water echoes from somewhere further along the hallway. 

Bob pulls out his cellphone, fumbling with his sausage fingers to get past the lock screen.  He sees the time.  It’s already been 12 minutes.  Ethan will be angry.  He raises the phone, using the flashlight function to see what lies ahead.

Bob sighs.  He looks back towards the hallway he came from, realizing that even if he tried, he couldn’t find his way back to their meeting point.  Not in the next few minutes, certainly.

Bob shrugs.  And steps forward, further down the hallway, following the footsteps in the dust.

The minutes pass as he wanders down hallways that are from a bygone era.  Far overhead, an earth-shattering roar rumbles, albeit muted at this depth.  Dust swirls as the foundations shake.  Somewhere behind him, Bob hears the unmistakable crash of something falling over.

The muted roar eventually dies down, but the dust remains.  Floating, obscuring his vision.  The sound of dripping water, ever closer.

Bob stumbles forward, following the footsteps even if the light from his phone cannot pierce the swirling clouds of dust.   

So much for Ethan’s plan to get in, get out.  They’re committed now…assuming, of course, that Ethan has not abandoned him.

A flash in the distance, as the light from Bob’s phone reflects off of something near the far end of what appears to be a large room. 

The footprints in the dust lead directly towards it, whatever it is. 

Slow settles the dust as Bob steps forward, squinting, raising his cellphone high in vain hopes of illuminating more of the room. 

As he steps closer, a doorway looms, standing freely towards the back of the cavernous room, seemingly made of carved redstone, surrounded by the random debris which is scattered throughout the room. 

The footsteps lead directly to the doorway.  Through it.

Bob steps closer, looking more closely at the door, which appears to lead…nowhere, in particular.

The footsteps that lead directly to it, however, do not appear on the other side.

Another roar from above.  Muted.  Distant.  Not that Bob notices.  He is too busy studying the doorway, the frame of which is twisted, preventing his eyes from following its edges, which blur and do not seem to join with each other as they should.

Three rows of inverted triangles are carved into the sides of the redstone frame, joined by what appears to be lightning, arcing between them.  The carved lines reflect a deeper, darker red than the exposed stone.

Bob circles the door, slowly. 

Thinking. 

Looking at the dust on the floor.  The footsteps walking up to and seemingly through the door.

Knowing that he only has one option available to him.

He steps forward, crossing the threshold.

A blinding flash of red light.

A deafening, disorienting roar strikes him, like rolling thunder.

Bob stumbles forward, still blinded and disoriented by the red light and the crashing sound.

As he regains he senses, a low chuckle emanates from somewhere nearby, the source unseen. 

“Welcome, Bob.  We’ve been waiting for you.”

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December 2042.

A dark night in Madrid. Unseasonably warm. The crowd, a baying mass of white. They can taste it in the air.

A chance to reclaim the glories of the past, to shake off the slump they've been in for years now.

But it isn't just that. There's something...wrong...in the air tonight. A bitter taste. Nothing poetic, like the scent of bitter almonds and unrequited love. No, no Gabriel Garcia Marquez here tonight, no matter how surreal the setting may feel.

The taste in the air is more sulfuric. Acrid.

Dark clouds hang heavy over the stadium. Ominous. Thunder rolls in the near distance, but oddly, there is no lightning.

Only flashes of red, deep within the clouds hanging over the stadium.

The final whistle blows. An ugly match. We're through. That's all that matters, isn't it?

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For anyone thinking that Madrid were hard done by, finishing 3rd on 10 points...well, just take a look at Julian Nagelsmann's Gladbach in Group D.

3 wins, 2 draws, 11 points, a +9 goal difference? Not good enough, Julian. Good luck in the Europa League.

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THE DOOR!

it's about damn time. Bob best have his questions ready and he best not waste one on Betsie's favourite position! 

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3 hours ago, Mandy42 said:

THE DOOR!

it's about damn time. Bob best have his questions ready and he best not waste one on Betsie's favourite position! 

I suspect that he already knows Betsy's favorite position.  At least, he thinks he does.

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December 2042.

We draw Mauricio Pochettino's Lazio. Probably the best draw we could have had. Not that it really matters at this juncture.

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On 15/11/2019 at 17:19, ManUtd1 said:

Sorenson

What an amazing last name. 

On 15/11/2019 at 17:19, ManUtd1 said:

Bur’s first press conference would not improve from that point forward.

Mumbu approves. Needed more popcorn though. 

On 21/11/2019 at 20:11, ManUtd1 said:

Taako interrupts.  “Just so you know, Boss, you are now creating six different timelines.”

Image result for alison brie gif

(Btw. warning: Do not google Alison Brie gif. You've been warned.)

On 21/11/2019 at 20:11, ManUtd1 said:

Magnus leaps to his feet in celebration and begins to dance awkwardly, chanting in time with his movements. “Pizza pizza go in my tummy, me so hun-gee, me so hun-gee!!!”

Merle stares daggers at Magnus, thinking of all the time he spent in the kitchen making lasagna, only to be publicly betrayed in such humiliating fashion.

Poor Merle. He did so well - wait, chicken lasagna? WHAT THE HELL???

 

Brilliant two first posts, @ManUtd1. Eager to see where this all goes!

Toothless Bob - or Father Bob - shall soon rise to his calling! We shall never remember the days of the past, once Millwall have been wiped from the face of this planet along with the scum that is feng shui and toasters that don't indicate when your toast is nice and toasty but lets it burn forever in silence... Aw ****, now I reminded myself of those toasters that don't indicate when your toast is nice and toasty but lets it burn forever in silence. Gonna go punch some walls now.

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8 hours ago, BuryBlade said:

Incredible story telling 👌

Thanks, man! Glad you've enjoyed it!

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Posted (edited)

March 2043.

We made it much harder on ourselves than it had to be. But we're through. A 3-2 home win, followed by a 2-2 draw away. Good enough, I guess.

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On the flight back from Rome, I tried to tell Zlatan that The Wallflowers' "One Headlight" wasn't dance music. Zlatan wasn't having any of it.

"Not with that attitude, Boss. Now watch the Zlatan get the funky."

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Edited by ManUtd1

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We'll face Frank Lampard's Schalke next, and they will undoubtedly be out for revenge after suffering elimination at our hands last year.

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