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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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3 minutes ago, Bitner said:

You're doing great.

Because of that, i'm just waiting for Selene to show up in the most bizarre manner.

Cheers,
Bitner 

I had it on good authority that we'll see her again.

I don't think it will be the reunion Nicolaj wants, though...

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April 2028.

The first half in Naples was a dull affair, which suits us perfectly. Goals from Masek and Mejri see us through with ease.

All of a sudden, we're the juggernaut. In form and ready for anything.

Zlatan held a match-watching party in Syntagma Square, attended by tens of thousands. After the final whistle, it turned into a spontaneous all-night rave, Zlatan spinning the latest hits until law enforcement shut it down the following day.

We'll face Valverde's City, who advanced thanks to a 4-1 annihilation of favorites Liverpool in the first leg.

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April 2028.

It was almost the perfect night in Manchester, until City scored with what turned out to be the last kick of the game.

Frustrations aside, we have them right where we want them. They will have to chase the game in Athens.

We're 90 minutes from the promised land, lads.

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3 minutes ago, hasdgfas said:

I hope this is the year! You're getting the sorts of results you often see in the winning seasons.

Agreed... Nervous, though. I want to get the games played, but I keep having to step away to do family stuff :lol:

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May 2028.

To say that this was a nervy evening in Athens would be an understatement...a dream start, followed by a near-epic collapse late in regulation, followed by an emphatic, triumphant extra time.

We've done it. We're through to the Final.

We will face Raul Valbuena's Sevilla. A chance at history, against a club known for making it count in European cup competitions.

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The Champions League final will be played this evening, kicking off in approximately 1 hour (7:15 PM Pacific/Seattle time).  

A link to the live blog will be posted soon.

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7 hours ago, Rikulec said:

Ouch. :(

:(

6 hours ago, Mandy42 said:

does she know if you win the Champions League you move on and she will have to stalk you in another city somewhere? 

:lol:

5 hours ago, rodesire said:

Fiorentina all over again

A soccer just went down my spine...

That was brutal. And the similarities are clear. If we start romping the CL next year, utterly destroying everyone, I'm going to get very, very nervous...

4 hours ago, bigmattb28 said:

Gutting way to lose

I'm still gutted, man. No reason good we should have lost that one.

3 hours ago, Bitner said:

:( MY commiserations.

Cheers,
Bitner

Thanks, man :brock:

3 hours ago, Sheriff7 said:

Great progress mate.:applause:Now leave them and take control of Olympiakos..:lol:

I'm not THAT crazy... Am I?

1 hour ago, andrisk123 said:

Ouch.

1 hour ago, B.W.G said:

Unlucky with the loss in the final.

So brutal. Send sizzurp.

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Accept the pain, but do not accept that you deserved it.

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Panathinaikos AO - Season Review 2027/28

4 days after returning from Vienna, and I'm still beside myself with anger and frustration. All directed at myself.

What if we'd been more aggressive from the outset? What if we had allowed the front 3 to be more instinctive and dynamic, earlier? What if we'd pressed higher, from the first whistle? What if we had made different substitutions? What if...? Would any of it have made a difference? If we had won...would she have come back?

I made the mistake of voicing that last thought to Jesse. He is now beyond frustrated with me. I can't blame him, really. I realize I'm not being rational about things. I'm being too emotional, he says.

Perhaps he's right. About Selene, and the squad. It wasn't any one thing in Vienna. We needed to be more ruthless. Yes, Jesse is on to something here, on both counts.

I summon Zlatan. No more Mr. Nice Guys at Panathinaikos. Double the pre-training kickboxing sessions. Triple them. Whatever it takes. We need an edge, a chip on our shoulders. This club has come too far. We've overcome too many things, to take this loss as anything but an insult. We need to respond with a righteous fury. We're not going to go away. We certainly will not give up without a fight. We must accept the fact that we were our own worst enemies in Vienna, and work to make that right.

And I, for one, am done waiting for her to return.

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I'm gutted. Still. Angry. This squad was built for the title this year. And while it should be relatively straightforward to keep the players I want to keep (which is virtually everyone), I know this was a massive missed opportunity. Mainly because, on paper, we will never have a more straightforward opponent in a Champions League final.

So, where does that leave us? Everyone I want to keep is on a long-term contract. So unless a truly ridiculous offer comes in, no one is leaving. I've got 3 future transfers arranged (arriving in January and July 2030), but that will probably do it for our transfers in. I don't see quality to improve the XI, especially when I'm not looking to break the bank on a transfer fee or wages.

Goals for 2028/29: Win the SuperLeague. Win the Champions League. Start managing on the international level, if an eligible nation opens up and looks like a "fit."

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European Review

Ok, let’s take a quick look around Europe before we go further…

The Champions League was rather thoroughly documented in the open thread. So, as you may already know, Raul Valbuena's Sevilla FM'd us in the final, 1-nil.

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In the Europa League, Albert Celades' Valencia triumphed over Jorge Sampaoli's Real Sociedad, 2-nil.

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In the Europa Conference League, Niko Kovac's Genk claimed the title, beating Philip Cocu's Wolfsburg on penalties.

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In the active leagues, Paulo Fonseca's Liverpool won the first Premier League title in 38 years.  Diego Simeone’s Barcelona won their 5th straight La Liga title.  Maurizio Sarri’s Juventus and (Arsenal legend) Unai Emery's PSG did their usual thing.  Murad Musaev's Schalke claimed the Bundesliga title, knocking Thomas Tuchel's Bayern off of their perch. Gert Heerkes' Gent claimed the Belgian title, after urCristiano left Club Brugge for Lazio. Nenad Brnovic's Partizan claimed their first title since 2016/17.  Stefan Billborn left Malmo for BK Häcken, who successfully defended their Allsvenskan title in 2027.

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Save/Challenge Overview

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Cross-posted at From the Cheap Seats.

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August 2028.

I swear, that shiny **** Cristiano grinned like a madman when he pulled the United ball out of the hopper in Group B. He thinks it's hilarious, because we wouldn't sell him Patryk Leszczynski over the summer. You know what is funny, you ****?! That sorry excuse for a haircut. Flock of Seagulls isn't coming back, man. Give it up. And we all know it is a combover, you balding fraud.

The frustration is real. We're a top seed, we've earned that right. And once again the draw has been brutal.

To be fair, I guess that Milan isn't that bad a draw from the 2nd seeds...and Partizan...well, they're pretty straightforward, and Bozidar claims that the trip will be immense, one to remember. He's been talking about a nightclub in Belgrade for years now, time to see what he's been banging on about. The Itchy Kitty, or something... Matchday 1 in Belgrade, should be one for the history books.

Now, where was I...oh, yeah. Ronaldo and his ridiculous hair. I guess the draw could have been worse...

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August 2028.

No moves at the deadline. I'd agreed on a deadline day deal to send Masek (who will play in the 2nd XI, with Thanos taking over as the Inverted Winger in the 1st XI) to Hoffenheim for $30+ million, but he rejected the contract offer.

I'm honestly a little peeved, as I was going to use this move to put Jork into the 2nd XI as our shadowganche, full time, with Leszczynski moving out left to the Inverted Winger slot.

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September 2028.

After the final whistle against Partizan came the moment Bozidar has been waiting for -- we were off to the Itchy Kitty, for a night he promised we'd never forget. The entire squad was ready for just about anything, no doubt in part out of a desire to forget our poor performance earlier that evening.  We nearly cancelled the night out, but I couldn't do that to Bozidar.

And, just on the other side of the Danube, there it was. The weather-beaten sign out front informs us that it was voted the best nightclub in Belgrade, from 1983-86. And, from the outside, it looks like its best days are well in the past.

You know the saying, though, never judge a book by its cover? Good advice, that. Because while the exterior had a certain 80's "charm," the interior was pure 2028. 2029, even. Futuristic, you might say. Without the killer robots.

Each patron more attractive than the last, Zlatan and Jesse had to pinch themselves. And that was before we were taken back into the aeronautics-themed VIP room, the CockPit Lounge, where the Belgrade elite had clearly come to play. We were the guests of honor on the night -- not in and of ourselves, but through our status as friends of the Bozidar Bodrozic, who we learned had been a child TV star in his youth.

I tell Zlatan to make a note of it and find videos of young Bozidar on TV, but he's already distracted by our waitress, who looks like a Serbian Alex Morgan.

Within minutes, Bozidar has introduced me to a captivating young woman, as brilliant as she is beautiful. Stana. I couldn't take my eyes off of her, and that was before she pointed out that Thanos was playing too narrowly tonight, prematurely closing off the half-space that Baran was looking to exploit. A woman after my own heart. The only problem? She's the daughter of the Partizan Chairman, who I can see sitting in a private booth a few tables away, watching us with a close eye. Better tread carefully.

Or so I tell myself.

Several hours later, as the first light of the morning falls on Belgrade, Stana and I have made plans to stay in touch, and see each other again.

And I may have promised her father -- after several glasses of strong Serbian Rum, straight no chaser -- that I'd "absolutely" consider managing Partizan one day.

It would be worth it, just to see her smile.

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11 hours ago, HawkAussie said:

That is so unlucky there, only one more step needs to be completed before Greece is complete.

8 hours ago, Joe. said:

Great progress, but I imagine another season in the league is going to be tedious.. At least the coefficient will be improving! 

Yeah, it should be a massive year in the SuperLeague.  The Instant Result button is what will keeps things moving...  Otherwise tedious would not even begin to describe it.

7 hours ago, Mandy42 said:

Cat scratch fever as your 1st dance song at the wedding? 

2nd.  Outkast's Hey Ya has to be the first dance.  Obviously.

1 hour ago, Giantplaything said:

Just logged in to say you guys make incredible reading and great progress on making Panathinaikos a solid outfit.

Thanks, man!  Glad to have you along for the journey!  Hope we can keep it up!

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8 hours ago, Joe. said:

Great progress, but I imagine another season in the league is going to be tedious.. At least the coefficient will be improving! 

1st 5 SuperLeague matches: 5 wins.  23 goals for, 3 against.  

My 2nd XI has played 3 of those matches.

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15 minutes ago, ManUtd1 said:

1st 5 SuperLeague matches: 5 wins.  23 goals for, 3 against.  

My 2nd XI has played 3 of those matches.

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Similar in my save but I don’t have an instant result button 😄 currently on an 18 game winning streak. 

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2 minutes ago, Joe. said:

Similar in my save but I don’t have an instant result button 😄 currently on an 18 game winning streak. 

Oof...IR is what keeps me really engaged, when work/family stuff is heavy.  Otherwise, I would get bogged down way too easy.

I spent a lot of time on FMT in the 19 cycle (and considered running the Nearly Men in it), but it just doesn't have the same feel as full fat.  It's less immersive, even with IR.

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From the Champions League Group Stage, Matchday 3.  10th minute at the Spyros Louis against United.  Kuhkianidze makes it 2-nil. This is a beauty.  

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November 2028.

Officially, the Partizan Chairman was the guest of honor tonight at the Spyros Louis.

But once the final whistle blew, I only had eyes for his daughter.

Stana.

I wasn't sure if she would come, I didn't want to make assumptions... But she came. The first thing she commented on was not (like everyone else) Mejri's recovery of form. Rather, she the danger posed by Vagias' poor positioning in moments of transition tonight. She's right. Fortunately Partizan's manager didn't figure it out. Not that it would have mattered.

A big win. Much needed. Both on and off the pitch.

The hours pass in a blur, and soon we find ourselves strolling the streets of Athens, dawn breaking in the East. It is time to say goodbye, again. And this time, I know without the slightest doubt that we will see each other again soon.

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1 minute ago, Sheriff7 said:

I hope  Alkiviadis Bekris won't act like his last name means because you are going to have big problems..:D

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Maybe I shouldn't have let him plan the Christmas party...

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December 2028.

We've hit the Winter Break, firing on all cylinders domestically. Top of the SuperLeague, 16 wins from 16, with a +49 goal difference.

The big test (of course) will be in Europe. The away loss to Partizan meant we finished 2nd in our Group, and we've drawn Diego Simeone's Barcelona -- a side on track to win their 6th straight La Liga title.

It's a big ask. But no bigger than those we've faced over the last two years.\

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March 2029.

All the frustrations of the 1st leg, all of the pent up anger from our inability to convert dominance into goals...all of it was released at the Camp Nou. We steamrolled Simeone's Barcelona in a way not even Zlatan would have predicted. Clinical. Brilliant. If we play like this, nothing will stop us.

But...if we play like we did in the first leg, we won't get past the quarterfinals.

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March 2029.

We draw Thomas Tuchel's Bayern. If we advance, we will face either Sandro Schwartz's Milan or Paulo Fonseca's Liverpool.

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6 hours ago, Minuy600 said:

What a save so far. I really can't wait to take a spin on this challenge in a different continent eventually. Would seem to be an immensely fun thing to do.

Thanks, man! I did a brief spin in Africa on 18 and it was good fun. South America has always appealed to me, too. Regardless, I'll be there when you do it!

4 hours ago, SixPointer said:

Dispatching Barcelona at the nou camp and scoring 4 most impressive 

The entire match just had a "we've got this" feel, and thankfully we were clinical in front of goal!

3 hours ago, Bitner said:

Scoring 4 @ camp nou isn't for amateurs. Nice job, hope you'll get all the way through the promised land. i can't wait for the next chapter already

Cheers,
Bitner 

The pressure! Hahaha hope to have it on in the background today, so we'll see how far we can get.

2 hours ago, andychar said:

This is the season! I can feel it!

Dangerously close to Ron Paul territory, that. It's all your fault if we don't win it now... :eek:

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