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[FM20] Creating a Northern Irish footballing revolution


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10 hours ago, rodesire said:

Oh my word, what an amazing success! Congratulations!

Thanks, maybe I got a bit lucky with some of the draws but after years of frustration it feels good to finally get the rub of the green for once. Now begins the task of building up the club enough to leave a sustainable legacy so that my successor can continue the success.

21 hours ago, PaulRachubka said:

Great performance dude and been following the thread for a long time. Hope you keep pushing NI in the international sphere. 

That's the hope, thanks for the comment and the follow.

8 hours ago, Motlhen said:

Unbelievable achievement mate, nice one!

Thanks, it's taken a while but at last it's here!! It also means that I will take part in the 2049 Club World Cup so I have the opportunity to become world champions too.

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Glentoran F.C.

SEASON 2048 / 2049

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This is our 19th season at the club and although we have been threatening the latter stages of the Champions League for the last few seasons we haven't made as much progress as I was hoping. I'd be disappointed if we can't at least make it to the quarter final stage. Given how far we are ahead domestically, winning the league should be guaranteed.

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League Table - Surprisingly, we was able to wrap up the title before the split whereas last season we had to wait until the post split fixtures even with a superior record. It was another poor season from Linfield who once again failed to qualify for Europe. That spot was won by Cliftonville after winning the Europa Conference League playoff final against Crusaders 1-0. Coagh United comfortably won the Championship title while Coleraine managed to stay up thanks to a 5-4 win over Donegal Celtic on aggregate in the relegation playoff. At least the league is becoming more competitive below us with Glenavon and Knockbreda involved in close fights for 2nd. Absolutely shocking to see Institute go down without a single win.

UEFA Champions League - 'GLENTORAN EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS', has a nice ring to it wouldn't you say. We had a superb season in Europe as we lift old big ears for the first time. Looking at our record, I'm actually surprised with how consistently we performed. We lost only 1 game on our road to the trophy which is excellent. Unlike previous seasons, we was more resilient and clinical with our approach. Even though our opposition was able to dominate a lot of the games we stuck the chances we did create away which made a huge difference. The pivotal game for the whole run was definitely the home leg against Man City, once we pulled that win off I knew that we was going to go a long way. It gave us the confidence to know that we could beat the very best teams in the competition. You could argue that the Man City tie was the only tough one of our run but I don't care as I have had to play plenty of tough teams over the years and often faltered so I don't feel bad about facing an easier set of teams for once on our way to our first title.

Domestic Cups - An excellent season in the cups, so much so, that we couldn't fit all the fixtures on the screenshot. Missing off the screenshot was a 5-0 win over Limavady United in the League Cup. A little bit annoyed to lose on penalties in the Scottish Challenge Cup semi final as that is the only competition I have yet to lift.

Reserves - A nice double for the backup players, unlucky in the Intermediate Cup.

Under 18s - Things were looking good in the UEFA Youth League but a dismissal in the 2nd Knockout Round cost them dearly against Everton otherwise they would have had a good chance of making it into the quarter final for the first time.

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Squad - The depth of the squad was critically important this season and I have to give a lot of credit for the backup players who when called upon, delivered for us in the Champions League. It was another season riddled with injuries which threatened to derail our season but the lads showed a lot of character and that's all I could really ask of them. We will have to go into the transfer market next season as Teco DC, Ahlborn MC & Strohmaier ST have all agreed pre-contract agreements with other clubs. I'm usually able to prevent those sort of things happening as I don't allow my players contracts to enter their final year before deciding to either sell or extend but unfortunately, Teco refused our offer of a contract extension. The other 2 I'm not too fussed with losing. After the screenshot was taken the market values also skyrocketed which should provide decent seed money for a rebuild that is likely to be needed.

Transfers - We took a bit of a loss this season in the transfer market but if it was one of the reasons why we won the Champions League then I'm happy to accept that. I decided to bring in a lot of players on a free transfer to bulk out the Reserve squad as I attempted to prepare for becoming a feeder club for some of the other DBP clubs. It seemed to work well as a number of those players went on loan to Cliftonville who had a remarkably successful season. As for the players that left, well, Sanchez DL decided he wanted to leave and now that I see how well his replacement Kajtazi DL who is now considered a wonderkid has developed I'm happy to have let him go. I was torn on whether to let Witkowski ST go but the offer was decent and it allowed me to offer more game time to both Andres and Juan which helped their development so turned out to be a decent move. Finally, I let Akbulut go as he was never really a good fit. He was earning a high wage which wasn't justified given his lower ability so when given a decent offer from the Middle East I decided to ship him out. I got offers for practically everyone in the squad but I held firm and decided to only let players go that I wanted to.

The players which I brought in for a fee all did exceptionally well. Henzler DL was a constant threat down the left flank getting into advanced areas and whipping in crosses leading to a lot of secondary assists. Warschewski MR was a great backup for Garcia on the right wing with his pace causing many a tiring fullback nightmares. Ruhrer DC was solid at the back in domestic games allowing me to rotate more securely, Kajtazi DL being a similar story as he played a decent number of games and did well when called upon. Finally, Hill ST was an excellent purchase. I was in two minds whether to bring him in given that I had Strohmaier but he is a different class altogether. He contributed with a good haul of goals and is excellent cover for Monterde, bringing him in on transfer deadline day also means that is a position I won't need to buy for next season which means that I can direct more funds toward the positions I do need. Overall, a very productive season in the transfer market.

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Average Rating: 7.74
He was brilliant this season and seemed to thrive in the Champions League. His ability to spot passes which others can't see while having the skill to pull them off was a real asset to us. I'd want to keep him here as long as I can but considering some of the interested teams that may prove difficult especially given some of the fees that they have been offering. I think if the fees go above £100M I may find it difficult to justify keeping him.
 
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Average Rating: 7.45
A great season from the striker as he not only scored a bunch of goals he also developed the habit of scoring important goals also. He is another that I will need to work hard to keep as he still looks to have room to develop further and I'd like to see him realize his potential here and not at another club.
 
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Finances - The bank balance is looking great and I can only see it going in one direction in the near future and that is up. The screenshot was taken before the expenditure to the facilities which I will highlight in the next section. The wage bill is astronomically high but if we are serious about becoming perennial contenders for the Champions League title then that requires us to spend big in order to attract and retain the quality of player we need.

Facilities - After our Champions League win I decided to request the building of a new stadium and the board decided to grant it although considering that the average attendance was in excess of 90% maybe it would have been accepted whether we won the Champions League or not. This led to the following message.

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Expecting a long protracted period of planning permission I decided to change my focus onto building up the bank balance in preparation. I was therefore very surprised that once the team went on holiday to get the following message.

ji5htLo.png

This is fantastic news as it means that we will be playing in the new ground for the season after next. This is huge as it means the timeline for my departure has been pushed forward significantly. Building it so quickly means that I can potentially start expanding it at the start of the season after next. Hopefully, it has an expansion capacity of roughly double it's size. I think having a 35,000 capacity ground in N. Ireland will be a huge game changer. I'm also very pleased that I was able to build it for so cheap having to only spend ~£15M out of the bank balance as it still leaves me with a comfortable balance to strengthen the squad. The training facilities also had to be invested in after downgrading.

Youth Intake - More boot cleaners on the way through the ranks. Maybe that's a little harsh as the comparison is being made with a squad with world class players within it but having looked at some of the better players in the intake they would need to make a remarkable improvement to even get close to being backup for the first team in future. I signed them all in the hope they can forge careers somewhere else in N. Ireland.
 
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League Reputation - The fact that we couldn't move up the table after we won the Champions League shows just how poor the other teams have been in Europe.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - The enhanced reputation should help with player acquisition and retention for sure. There appears to be a gap emerging between us, Knockbreda and the rest which isn't great for the competitiveness of the league. Linfield need to get their act together as the top 4 are becoming fixed and they need to be among them. Disappointed that my affiliate narrowly missed out on promotion to the top flight. I'm beginning to think that they will need to win the Championship as coming up through the playoffs is looking impossible at this point.
 
Club European Reputation - An unbelievable year for the coefficient with us winning so many games which sees us leapfrog into the top 10, more of the same next season please.
 
Here is how the other N. Irish teams performed in Europe this season:
 
Knockbreda - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 2nd Knockout Round by Juventus on away goals after 2-2 draw on aggregate - A tough team for them to have to face and they did well to put up a good fight. They didn't do well in the Champions League qualifiers and only managed to get any post December European football at all thanks to finishing 3rd in their Europa League group.
Larne - Finished 4th in Europa League group - They aren't the force they were and their steadfast refusal to invest in the infrastructure of their clubs is costing them. I see them as a team Linfield can target in terms of trying to get into the top 4.
Cliftonville - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 3rd Qualifying Round by HJK after 2-1 defeat on aggregate - A little disappointing but expected in some respects.
Glenavon - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 4th Qualifying Round by Juventus after 3-0 defeat on aggregate- What kind of a nightmarish draw is that in order to qualify for the group stage, I mean come on!
 
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Spoiler

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Spoiler

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Stadium news is massive! What's the next team you're thinking of taking on in NI?

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15 minutes ago, rodesire said:

Stadium news is massive! What's the next team you're thinking of taking on in NI?

I think the building of a new stadium is going to make a huge difference, especially if it has top corporate facilities. Only being able to host games in Europe with 9,056 spectators is a huge amount of missed revenue when you consider that we was selling out Windsor Park when ground sharing it in the Champions League over a decade ago. Hopefully, the new ground begins to address this problem.

The new ground is still going to be smaller than Windsor Park once built but with an expansion should be the largest ground in N. Ireland. I really hope that it has a decent potential capacity, 35,000 or above would be ideal.

As for the next team, well that's likely to be Linfield as they are best positioned to be built up more quickly. They have the biggest stadium, can access the largest potential fan base in N. Ireland being based in Belfast and have a lot of rivals.

Having Knockbreda, Linfield and Glentoran firing on all cylinders in Europe would really help build the league as a whole. Especially, if I was able to get them all into large stadiums which they could fill regularly as that would have a beneficial effect on all the other clubs in N. Ireland in the cups. Ultimately, I want to make the DBP a fully professional league but we are quite some way from making that a reality at the moment.

Best Regards

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Congratulations on the Champions League win. How will you approach the Club World Cup, do you know when it is being played?  Got to love the size of the new stadium. With my Glentoran's stadium, it was maxed out within 1yr at 24,154. So, i'm not jealous at all. Do you think that league rep or club rep played a part when it came to the stadium size? 

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22 hours ago, pheelf said:

XVLnUpU.png

Glentoran F.C.

SEASON 2048 / 2049

beUaOsj.png

oMkIy2p.png?1

This is our 19th season at the club and although we have been threatening the latter stages of the Champions League for the last few seasons we haven't made as much progress as I was hoping. I'd be disappointed if we can't at least make it to the quarter final stage. Given how far we are ahead domestically, winning the league should be guaranteed.

beUaOsj.png

ntGkQzQ.png?1

League Table - Surprisingly, we was able to wrap up the title before the split whereas last season we had to wait until the post split fixtures even with a superior record. It was another poor season from Linfield who once again failed to qualify for Europe. That spot was won by Cliftonville after winning the Europa Conference League playoff final against Crusaders 1-0. Coagh United comfortably won the Championship title while Coleraine managed to stay up thanks to a 5-4 win over Donegal Celtic on aggregate in the relegation playoff. At least the league is becoming more competitive below us with Glenavon and Knockbreda involved in close fights for 2nd. Absolutely shocking to see Institute go down without a single win.

UEFA Champions League - 'GLENTORAN EUROPEAN CHAMPIONS', has a nice ring to it wouldn't you say. We had a superb season in Europe as we lift old big ears for the first time. Looking at our record, I'm actually surprised with how consistently we performed. We lost only 1 game on our road to the trophy which is excellent. Unlike previous seasons, we was more resilient and clinical with our approach. Even though our opposition was able to dominate a lot of the games we stuck the chances we did create away which made a huge difference. The pivotal game for the whole run was definitely the home leg against Man City, once we pulled that win off I knew that we was going to go a long way. It gave us the confidence to know that we could beat the very best teams in the competition. You could argue that the Man City tie was the only tough one of our run but I don't care as I have had to play plenty of tough teams over the years and often faltered so I don't feel bad about facing an easier set of teams for once on our way to our first title.

Domestic Cups - An excellent season in the cups, so much so, that we couldn't fit all the fixtures on the screenshot. Missing off the screenshot was a 5-0 win over Limavady United in the League Cup. A little bit annoyed to lose on penalties in the Scottish Challenge Cup semi final as that is the only competition I have yet to lift.

Reserves - A nice double for the backup players, unlucky in the Intermediate Cup.

Under 18s - Things were looking good in the UEFA Youth League but a dismissal in the 2nd Knockout Round cost them dearly against Everton otherwise they would have had a good chance of making it into the quarter final for the first time.

beUaOsj.png

Zbg21uJ.png?1

Squad - The depth of the squad was critically important this season and I have to give a lot of credit for the backup players who when called upon, delivered for us in the Champions League. It was another season riddled with injuries which threatened to derail our season but the lads showed a lot of character and that's all I could really ask of them. We will have to go into the transfer market next season as Teco DC, Ahlborn MC & Strohmaier ST have all agreed pre-contract agreements with other clubs. I'm usually able to prevent those sort of things happening as I don't allow my players contracts to enter their final year before deciding to either sell or extend but unfortunately, Teco refused our offer of a contract extension. The other 2 I'm not too fussed with losing. After the screenshot was taken the market values also skyrocketed which should provide decent seed money for a rebuild that is likely to be needed.

Transfers - We took a bit of a loss this season in the transfer market but if it was one of the reasons why we won the Champions League then I'm happy to accept that. I decided to bring in a lot of players on a free transfer to bulk out the Reserve squad as I attempted to prepare for becoming a feeder club for some of the other DBP clubs. It seemed to work well as a number of those players went on loan to Cliftonville who had a remarkably successful season. As for the players that left, well, Sanchez DL decided he wanted to leave and now that I see how well his replacement Kajtazi DL who is now considered a wonderkid has developed I'm happy to have let him go. I was torn on whether to let Witkowski ST go but the offer was decent and it allowed me to offer more game time to both Andres and Juan which helped their development so turned out to be a decent move. Finally, I let Akbulut go as he was never really a good fit. He was earning a high wage which wasn't justified given his lower ability so when given a decent offer from the Middle East I decided to ship him out. I got offers for practically everyone in the squad but I held firm and decided to only let players go that I wanted to.

The players which I brought in for a fee all did exceptionally well. Henzler DL was a constant threat down the left flank getting into advanced areas and whipping in crosses leading to a lot of secondary assists. Warschewski MR was a great backup for Garcia on the right wing with his pace causing many a tiring fullback nightmares. Ruhrer DC was solid at the back in domestic games allowing me to rotate more securely, Kajtazi DL being a similar story as he played a decent number of games and did well when called upon. Finally, Hill ST was an excellent purchase. I was in two minds whether to bring him in given that I had Strohmaier but he is a different class altogether. He contributed with a good haul of goals and is excellent cover for Monterde, bringing him in on transfer deadline day also means that is a position I won't need to buy for next season which means that I can direct more funds toward the positions I do need. Overall, a very productive season in the transfer market.

image.png.fbca46de38c2cb3a1c82a93a01b5cba6.png

Average Rating: 7.74
He was brilliant this season and seemed to thrive in the Champions League. His ability to spot passes which others can't see while having the skill to pull them off was a real asset to us. I'd want to keep him here as long as I can but considering some of the interested teams that may prove difficult especially given some of the fees that they have been offering. I think if the fees go above £100M I may find it difficult to justify keeping him.
 
MAKbE12.png?1
 
Average Rating: 7.45
A great season from the striker as he not only scored a bunch of goals he also developed the habit of scoring important goals also. He is another that I will need to work hard to keep as he still looks to have room to develop further and I'd like to see him realize his potential here and not at another club.
 
beUaOsj.png

ESpRVre.png?1

Finances - The bank balance is looking great and I can only see it going in one direction in the near future and that is up. The screenshot was taken before the expenditure to the facilities which I will highlight in the next section. The wage bill is astronomically high but if we are serious about becoming perennial contenders for the Champions League title then that requires us to spend big in order to attract and retain the quality of player we need.

Facilities - After our Champions League win I decided to request the building of a new stadium and the board decided to grant it although considering that the average attendance was in excess of 90% maybe it would have been accepted whether we won the Champions League or not. This led to the following message.

zvm3hB9.png

Expecting a long protracted period of planning permission I decided to change my focus onto building up the bank balance in preparation. I was therefore very surprised that once the team went on holiday to get the following message.

ji5htLo.png

This is fantastic news as it means that we will be playing in the new ground for the season after next. This is huge as it means the timeline for my departure has been pushed forward significantly. Building it so quickly means that I can potentially start expanding it at the start of the season after next. Hopefully, it has an expansion capacity of roughly double it's size. I think having a 35,000 capacity ground in N. Ireland will be a huge game changer. I'm also very pleased that I was able to build it for so cheap having to only spend ~£15M out of the bank balance as it still leaves me with a comfortable balance to strengthen the squad. The training facilities also had to be invested in after downgrading.

Youth Intake - More boot cleaners on the way through the ranks. Maybe that's a little harsh as the comparison is being made with a squad with world class players within it but having looked at some of the better players in the intake they would need to make a remarkable improvement to even get close to being backup for the first team in future. I signed them all in the hope they can forge careers somewhere else in N. Ireland.
 
beUaOsj.png
 
5F49iVV.png?1
 
League Reputation - The fact that we couldn't move up the table after we won the Champions League shows just how poor the other teams have been in Europe.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - The enhanced reputation should help with player acquisition and retention for sure. There appears to be a gap emerging between us, Knockbreda and the rest which isn't great for the competitiveness of the league. Linfield need to get their act together as the top 4 are becoming fixed and they need to be among them. Disappointed that my affiliate narrowly missed out on promotion to the top flight. I'm beginning to think that they will need to win the Championship as coming up through the playoffs is looking impossible at this point.
 
Club European Reputation - An unbelievable year for the coefficient with us winning so many games which sees us leapfrog into the top 10, more of the same next season please.
 
Here is how the other N. Irish teams performed in Europe this season:
 
Knockbreda - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 2nd Knockout Round by Juventus on away goals after 2-2 draw on aggregate - A tough team for them to have to face and they did well to put up a good fight. They didn't do well in the Champions League qualifiers and only managed to get any post December European football at all thanks to finishing 3rd in their Europa League group.
Larne - Finished 4th in Europa League group - They aren't the force they were and their steadfast refusal to invest in the infrastructure of their clubs is costing them. I see them as a team Linfield can target in terms of trying to get into the top 4.
Cliftonville - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 3rd Qualifying Round by HJK after 2-1 defeat on aggregate - A little disappointing but expected in some respects.
Glenavon - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 4th Qualifying Round by Juventus after 3-0 defeat on aggregate- What kind of a nightmarish draw is that in order to qualify for the group stage, I mean come on!
 
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This is amazing stuff. 
 

Back to you asking me about my save, I’m not far enough in yet to give any ideas how I will do it. (Plus I’m on fm17) 

I did do well with Carrick Rangers finishing 3rd got knocked out at first hurdle in Europe to Rapid Wien. Great pay day though 300k in the bank. Struggling this season.

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On 10/05/2020 at 09:43, Stouters said:

Congratulations on the Champions League win. How will you approach the Club World Cup, do you know when it is being played?  Got to love the size of the new stadium. With my Glentoran's stadium, it was maxed out within 1yr at 24,154. So, i'm not jealous at all. Do you think that league rep or club rep played a part when it came to the stadium size? 

 

On 10/05/2020 at 18:37, Stouters said:

oops, I just saw you'll be playing in the 2049 CWC.

We played in the CWC in Qatar but unfortunately owing to a bug we were robbed of our chance of having a decent shot at it. The players were exhausted and unfit for the games as they were still considered 'on holiday' while strangely being available for selection which really hampered our efforts. It's a real shame since the next version of the competition is in 2053 and there is a chance I may have left the club by then so likely wont get the opportunity to have another go.

I'm glad that the starting point for the new stadium is relatively high as I'm really hoping that once fully expanded it will have a capacity of 35,000 or above. I think that reputation definitely plays a part, how significant a part I'm not really sure. That's something I would be interested to find out more about also.

On 10/05/2020 at 10:08, HelplessSpectator said:

This is amazing stuff. 
Back to you asking me about my save, I’m not far enough in yet to give any ideas how I will do it. (Plus I’m on fm17) 

I did do well with Carrick Rangers finishing 3rd got knocked out at first hurdle in Europe to Rapid Wien. Great pay day though 300k in the bank. Struggling this season.

Thanks, qualifying for Europe with Carrick is a pretty strong start considering they are one of the worst teams in the division. Hopefully, you can turn it around in your current season and slowly work your way up to professional status. Once you achieve that then domestic dominance becomes a lot easier and as you are on FM17 you won't have a tycoon owned Larne to worry about. Good luck.

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Posted (edited)

SAYING GOODBYE TO AN OLD FRIEND

The Oval is a ground steeped in history and has been the home of Glentoran since 1892 making it one of the oldest football grounds still in operation. A ground which oozes with character and echoes back to a bygone age of football.

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As much as it will be a shame to leave the hallowed turf of the historical stadium, the ground is no longer befitting of a club with aspirations of becoming a European giant. Having just over 9,000 seats for European games is no longer capable of supporting a burgeoning fan base which has massively increased in size with the recent success of the team. Ideally, it would have been great to be able to expand the ground and convert it into a modern, all-seater stadium but given the way it has been built and its location that hasn't been possible so therefore this season will be the Belfast clubs last at the ground before moving to a new home. Here are some scenes of the last game to played at the ground which was the 2nd leg of a Champions League semi-final against Manchester City.

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The Main Grandstand - A stand which has undergone significant renovation in recent years is a single tier affair featuring a corrugated iron roof. It has a fair amount of supporting pillars which is in keeping with the style of roof which was used during construction.

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The Facing Grandstand and Colin Nixon stand - A view of part of the facing grandstand which is identical to the main grandstand except the omission of a tunnel and dugouts. The screenshot also gives a full view of the home end named after club legend Colin Nixon which is a stand without a roof which has seating behind the goals and terracing in the corners.

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The Away End - Mirroring the opposing end it houses the Manchester City away supporters who are probably used to visiting more palatial surroundings in European ties.

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Eagle eye view - A top down view giving an overview of the ground. It was a shame that we couldn't end our time at the ground with a sell-out attendance but the terracing and European guidelines prevented that.

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The final whistle blows and with it brings the end of football at this magnificent old venue. Here's hoping that the new stadium can have as many good moments as the Oval has witnessed over the years. The Oval will be forever etched in our history but now begins a new chapter.

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Posted (edited)

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Glentoran F.C.

SEASON 2049 / 2050

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After a miraculous run last season which saw us lift the Champions League. This season, the aim has to be to maintain that level of success while we await the opening of the new stadium.

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League Table - Another comfortable victory which makes it our 13th title in a row. Larne beat Cliftonville 3-2 in the Europa Conference League playoff final while it was pleasing to see Linfield qualify for Europe after a few years absence. Institute won the Championship title with ease and much to my surprise became a professional outfit. Coleraine managed to stay up with a 4-1 aggregate win over Donegal Celtic in the relegation playoff.

UEFA Champions League - We managed to retain our title but once again it came down to the lottery of penalties in the final. The group stage campaign went relatively comfortably with us going unbeaten and topping our group. We then proceeded into the knockout stages where the weakness in our away form and lack of ability to score goals exhibited in the group stage became more of a problem. Thankfully, our home form managed to pull us out of the fire with us managing to turn around the ties but it could easily have gone the other way had the opposition managed to win more convincingly in the 1st legs. The warning signs are there, if we are to stand any chance of making it a hat-trick of wins we are going to need to figure out a way of being more competitive away from home. 

FIFA Club World Cup - Owing to an issue with the timing of the tournament and the fact it coincided with our players being on holiday we unfortunately went into the tournament with a lot of unfit and tired players. That seriously impeded us and while we were able to scrape past the group stage, once we faced a team of real quality we crashed out. I don't know whether we would have been able to beat Real Madrid had we been as fit as them but it felt incredibly unfair going into the game at a significant disadvantage. 

UEFA Super Cup - I usually struggle to win this game as it comes so early in the season but not this time as we managed to narrowly beat our Italian opponents.

Domestic Cups - Another brilliant season in the cups as we lifted the Scottish Challenge Cup (or biscuit cup if you prefer) for the first time.

Reserves - They put in a strong performance in the league but were underwhelming in the cups which may not be the worst thing since it allowed some of the lower league teams to make progress. Newington and Armagh City contested the Intermediate Cup final with winners Newington getting £389K in prize money and runners up Armagh getting £267K. For a DBP club the sum given to Armagh City would be insignificant but for a 3rd division side it's a game changing amount of cash which will no doubt come in handy in the Championship which they got promoted into this season.

Under 18s - I've never seen such a stunning transformation from a team. Going from group stage whipping boys to finalists in the UEFA Youth League is quite an impressive rise. More remarkable for the fact that a lot of the youth intakes of recent years have been pretty poor but I'll continue with my policy of signing everyone in the intake if it continues to reap rewards like this.

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Squad - I'm fairly satisfied with the squad although there are a few issues which will need to be dealt with. First and foremost of those being the midfield. The loss of Esposito really impacted our ability to control the midfield and meant that in Europe when away from home we got dominated making it difficult for us to create much for the strikers. I will definitely need to invest in a quality central midfielder (support) to help this. I will also need to bring in a backup for Roca ML in the left midfield position. I'm also mindful of the way in which the wage bill has crept up and that will need to brought down to a more manageable figure if I'm to look at building the back balance for further investment in the stadium. Finally, I'm going to have to find a way of resolving the morale issues with players like Özcan DC and Hill ST who want to leave the club after I rejected moves for them in January and have thrown a strop ever since.

Transfers - A fairly quiet pair of transfer windows but three major departures to report on. For a club of our means you simply don't turn down an offer of £100M regardless of the player involved so when Spurs came knocking I reluctantly decided to let Esposito go thinking that I would get a massive boost to my transfer budget and that I could use the money to re-invest in a good replacement. I did manage to re-invest but the bulk of the money went into purchasing central defender Pereira instead of a central midfielder given that I needed a replacement for the departing Teco. This meant that I went into the season without a player capable of dominating the midfield which I found to my cost in Europe even if we ultimately prevailed anyway.

The Walker MR transfer was out of necessity rather than because I wanted him to leave, the wage budget was in the negative and with no transfer budget at all I felt it wise to ship out a player who was surplus to requirements even if it meant reducing the number of HG players in the roster. Looking back at it now the sale of Varvitsiotis ML was a mistake. I needed to make the sale to balance the wage budget but leaving the squad short in terms of cover for the left midfield position wasn't a wise decision. I brought in Dann MR on loan as an attempt to cover (he can play both flanks) but couldn't register him for Europe which meant that I went into the knockout stages with only one recognized left midfielder. Thankfully, Roca stayed healthy which meant that we didn't suffer too much from the decision but it could easily have backfired.

As for the other players that were brought in, Valentino MC was meant to replace the outgoing Ahlborn in the central midfield (defend) role. He did well but for the wage that he's being paid perhaps I expected a bit more and for him to have established himself over Schwarz as the first choice in the role but he was unable to. The same can be said of Okoro ST who became our highest paid player, I felt his contribution wasn't that great and the money could have been better spent elsewhere. I am however delighted with the arrival of free transfer Gilberto Carlos MC from Cruzeiro as he is everything I look for in a new signing when it comes to a financial perspective. He has a great resale value, arrived for nothing and is on a lower wage than most which represents a great deal in my view.  

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Average Rating: 7.84
I'm actual quite astonished with how good he was this season considering the serious injury he suffered but I give him a lot of credit for proving all the doubters wrong and managing to keep fit and remain consistent throughout the season. He will need to be replaced soon but while he's performing like this he will have a spot in the first team.
 
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Average Rating: 7.70
I was very impressed with his debut season and he has proven to be worth every penny of the £43M that was spent on bringing him in. He is a menace in the air from corners while he can take a decent penalty which means that in addition to being a solid performer at the back he chipped in with a good amount of goals too.
 
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Finances - Just look at that transfer budget, what is clear is that we are going to need to sell before we can buy. I'd like to end next season with a decent balance as I would like to begin the process of stadium expansion as quickly as possible. We didn't fail the FFP as suggested by the screenshot but the wage bill is getting a bit out of hand. Ideally, I want to leave the club in as sustainable a financial position as possible, spending £1.5Mp/w on wages is a long way from that and I will need to work towards improving matters.

Facilities - Next season will see the opening of our new stadium, here's hoping that it has a decent expansion capacity and we can reach it relatively quickly.

Youth Intake - Another poor intake but maybe I'm underestimating them considering their performances in the UEFA Youth League this season, all the players were signed.
 
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League Reputation - Into the top 10 but progress is painfully slow at the moment.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - We reach 5 star but aren't seen as the most reputable team in the world just yet.
 
Club European Reputation - Shooting up the table as we move into 3rd.
 
Here is how the other N. Irish teams performed in Europe this season:
 
Knockbreda - Knocked out in Europa League Quarter Final by Juventus after 2-1 defeat on aggregate - What is it with N. Irish teams getting drawn against and knocked out by Juventus who incidentally went on to win the competition this year. They did much better than last season as they made it into the Champions League group stage which was great as they managed to finish 3rd winning 2 games. If they can keep this up it will be very helpful for the coefficient.
Larne - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 4th Qualifying Round by Red Star after 2-0 defeat on aggregate - Came so close to the group stage but ultimately were outclassed which was a shame.
Cliftonville - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 3rd Qualifying Round by Malmo FF after 3-2 defeat on aggregate - Their Swedish opponents are good but I felt they should have been able to get past them, unfortunately a mixture of red cards and under performance hindered them.
Glenavon - Finished 4th in Europa League group - Did well to get through the playoff but drew a tough looking group which they did poorly in.
 
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Edited by pheelf
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Posted (edited)
On 12/05/2020 at 14:14, rodesire said:

From struggling to back-to-back UCL winners, what a turnaround!

 

17 hours ago, kidthekid said:

I don't read fmcu for a few days and you've won back to back UCLs. Well done.

Thanks, it has been a long struggle to get here but finally we can claim to be the best team in Europe which has been exceptionally helpful in building the club and the nation. I've got to try and keep winning the Champions League before leaving as I look to leave as strong a legacy for the next manager to inherit as possible.

Cheers

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BUILDING A LEGACY

The whole process of getting planning permission, building the ground and opening has been surprisingly smooth with no delays and completion within a year. That suits my objectives superbly as the sooner I can leave Glentoran, the sooner I can start building another club in N. Ireland. I'm also delighted that I was able to pay for the ground without taking on any debt which will also be incredibly useful for when I leave.

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Unfortunately, the part of the message which indicates what the full potential expansion capacity could be has been removed. That means I'll only be able to discover the figure when I'm no longer able to continue expanding the new ground. I hope that the figure is at least double the starting capacity as that would give a capacity of 35,000 which while not comparable to the elite European clubs is reasonable. It will mean that the record 42,000 obtained against Rangers in 1966 will likely not be exceeded at the ground but should be enough to bring in good gate receipts and provide a decent cash injection for other teams in N. Ireland when drawn to play them in the cups. It also helps that the new ground has top corporate facilities as that will boost revenues significantly too.

The first game at the new stadium was against Coagh United which should break our record attendance for the DBP but the attendance won't set a new benchmark for the DBP given that there has been a number of 18,000 sell outs from Linfield at Windsor Park. Once the first expansion is complete hopefully that will be enough to break the record.

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The Main Grandstand - Much like a lot of modern grounds it appears that a lot of the character of the old ground has been lost which is a shame. We start with two tier stands all around the ground to give it a uniform look with only the corners being left without any seating. It's not all bad though, the old corrugated metal roof has been replaced with a concrete and metal hybrid cantilever roof which removes all the pillars of the previous ground which no doubt obstructed the view for some of our fans. There doesn't appear to be any corporate boxes in the stand but as they are listed as being there I won't quibble. The roof also features a set of mounted floodlights along the full length of the stand while the ground also keeps the corner floodlights which will mean that spectators can never complain about the ground not being adequately illuminated.

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The Facing Grandstand and Home End - In keeping with the uniform look of the ground you can see the facing grandstand which mirrors the main grandstand with the exception of the dugouts and tunnel. The home end which becomes the new Colin Nixon stand is also a smart looking stand. It's very nice to see the addition of 2 new video screens in the corners which flank the facing grandstand which will mean that everyone except those sitting in the facing grandstand can see the screens during the game.

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The Away End - A look at the sparsely occupied away stand which looks like being an ongoing problem with games in the DBP given the small following that some of the visiting teams will have. Ideally, I would have liked the new ground to have at least one small corner stand. That way for teams bringing a small number of fans we could decide whether to allocate them a corner or the whole end. My concern is that this will be an unnecessary drag on attendances. Coagh United only brought 196 away fans which would have comfortably fitted in a corner whereas given that the rest of the ground is packed to the rafters I feel we could have easily filled all those empty seats given the opportunity. Hopefully, once the expansions take place the option becomes available otherwise this could become an even bigger problem when visiting teams have to fill an even bigger stand.

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Eagle eye view - It's a nice start in terms of the new ground and I've already asked for an expansion which has been granted and greeted with the following message.

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It looks a rather modest expansion so I'm hoping by the end of the season they will be far more ambitious which means that I will need to have a good bank balance available. If I can expand the ground to its potential without incurring any debt that will be a fantastic legacy to leave.

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Glentoran F.C.

SEASON 2050 / 2051

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The keys have been handed to us and the new ground is ready to start hosting football matches. I'd like to inaugurate the new stadium by bringing home another Champions League trophy which would make it a hat-trick of wins.

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League Table - We drew more games and scored less goals but easily retained the title. Cliftonville won the Europa Conference League playoff final with a 2-1 win over Larne which secured them European football while Linfield had a torrid season finishing in the bottom half and missing out on Europe once again. In recent seasons, Linfield have really struggled to consistently qualify which is a big problem. Crusaders comfortably dispatched Newington 5-2 on aggregate in the relegation playoff while Dungannon Swifts will be joining the top flight next season after winning the Championship title. It was looking like Donegal Celtic was going to come up as champions but a post split collapse sent them plummeting down the table meaning they didn't even qualify for the playoffs. 

UEFA Champions League - We secured our hat-trick of Champions League wins but I wasn't entirely satisfied with our performances this season. We started the group stage well but 2 defeats to Barcelona put our qualification for the knockout stages in danger and when we drew against Napoli we put ourselves in the position of needing to match Napoli's result against Barcelona to qualify. Thankfully, Zenit didn't cause any problems and we managed to finish 2nd. In the 1st Knockout Round, we drew group winners Everton who went on to win the EPL and have become an ultra strong team. Thankfully, we pulled off a narrow 1-0 which swung the pendulum of the tie in our favour, when we scored in Liverpool that allowed us to ease through to face Inter. 

I was pleasantly surprised to draw Inter as the alternative draws looked a lot tougher. That was until Monterde broke his ankle the day before the 1st leg meaning we would have to rely on Hill as our only attack duty striker for the rest of the tournament. This was a huge blow but when we repeated the same trick of winning the home leg 1-0 it gave us great momentum going into the 2nd leg in Milan. We knew we only had to draw to get through and we did, just, to book our place in the semi final to face Bayern Munich. They made us work for it but yet again our ability to draw the away leg provided the foundation for us, we then with a penalty eked out another 1-0 win at home to put us into the final to face Barcelona who had beaten us twice in the group.

This was however not the group stage and we put in our best performance against them. Leading 3-1 in extra time and approaching half time it seemed like we were going to cruise to another title. Then Özcan had a brainwave and went charging into a tackle he didn't have to make and was never going to win which earned him a red card. I was livid and had to put Carlos in the central defence while dropping Andres into midfield. I wanted to keep playing the same way as the arithmetic hadn't changed, they still needed to score 2 goals to take it to penalties. I felt we would stand a better chance of keeping them out if we kept playing with the same level of risk and attempting to exploit the space they were going to leave in behind as they became increasingly desperate in trying to find a way back into the game.. When they got a goal with 8 minutes plus stoppage time left on the clock the calculation changed. At that point, I just put us down to cautious, put the left back onto defend duty and hoped that we could hold out. Once I had done that it seemed to stifle the Catalans and we held on for our 3rd title in a row. It was a good campaign but we need to score more goals in the home legs of ties otherwise we are going to end up getting knocked out, you can't keep playing with fire and expect not to be burned.   

UEFA Super Cup - Juventus has become a real nemesis for N. Irish clubs of late. This was really a dead game for us, offered nothing, deserved nothing.

Domestic Cups - A great season in the cups but I'm beginning to wonder whether it's really worth it trying to get through in these competitions. It may seem sacrilegious considering they are our biggest rivals but perhaps we would have been better off throwing the Irish Cup final. Winning it doesn't do much for us except add another piece of silverware to the cabinet while if Linfield won it they would have got guaranteed group stage football next season which would have rescued an otherwise abysmal season for them and given them the opportunity to earn some decent cash. It's also somewhat irritating having to play all these games, there's half a DBP season worth of games in the screenshot. Therefore I've decided that next season I will be putting out the youth team in the cups in the hope I get knocked out early. I'll go back to trying to compete in the cups once the stadium has reached a size where the gate receipts for away teams would be worthwhile.

Reserves - A decent season as they won the reserves league with a much reduced squad available to them.

Under 18s - Their form is so erratic it's unbelievable. They managed a perfect group stage record on the one hand then lost on penalties in the next round to the weakest opponent they faced in the UEFA Youth League on the other. Maybe some penalty practice is called for.

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Squad - I think we got a little bit lucky this season having to ride with only one attack duty striker for all the rounds after the 1st Knockout Round of the Champions League. Had Hill ST got injured I think we would have stood no chance of retaining our title but thankfully he remained healthy which I helped by bringing in a reserve striker for the meaningless domestic matches. The development of some of the players was impressive like Coesta DR who has become one of the best fullbacks in the world and Monterde ST who was impressing before his bad injury. Overall, I'm satisfied with the squad although I will need to dip into the transfer market again next season. Özcan DC will be leaving on a free as he refused to sign a new contract while Andres ST has signed a pre-contract agreement elsewhere so will also be leaving. Getting another central defender is the priority, while I have my eye on a short listed left midfielder to compete with Roca as I don't think that Konate is up to the job. Hill ST and Okoro ST got cut off the screenshot but they featured heavily during the season also. I think Okoro and Jibrin could be sufficient cover to play in the DLF(S) role but if an exciting player becomes available which the club can afford then I may try to bring him in for that position. Both Okoro and Jibrin have weaknesses adopting the role which is a concern.

Transfers - A good profit and another busy pair of transfer windows to report on. Our first move was to get rid of a lot of the free transfers we had brought in last season to bulk out the reserve squad. Unfortunately, none of them fancied a move to another N. Irish club but never mind. I let Bacon MC go as while he did a decent job for us I didn't feel he was rounded enough as a player to really thrive in the 4-4-2, so when Wolves came in with a good offer I accepted it. Stajner DR was falling out of favour toward the end of last season and was at best going to be a rotation option, considering I had Andrews DR that could provide that cover who needed first team games to develop, I decided to let Stajner leave for what I thought was a massive fee. Knowing that I needed a replacement for Bacon I then brought in Koukal MC who is a more rounded player that still had room to develop, considering he cost less than I sold Bacon for, it looks a good deal.

Then Man City came in with a breathtaking offer for Juan ST. I was torn on whether to accept it but I felt we needed to add some depth to the squad so took the money and re-invested it into some promising looking youngsters. I also let Miller DC go, he had fallen out of the first team picture and I saw no reason to continue paying him such a lucrative wage considering he wasn't going to play. With the money from the Juan deal I decided to move in for Herbet DL who I thought would provide good cover down the left flank. Unfortunately, it looks like being a poor piece of business given his ability although he did reasonably well when he played. I then proceeded to sell Valentino MC who was earning an astronomical wage. I was torn on whether to accept the offer but he wanted to leave so that largely made up my mind. To replace him I brought in Marrone MC who did okay but isn't Champions League quality in my view. My final move in the summer transfer window was to bring in Konate ML which has to be one of my most disappointing moves of my entire time at the club. There was a real lack of players that can play the position that are good enough and affordable so I was stuck with either bringing him in or nobody which wasn't an option given I had no real cover for Roca. To his credit, he did okay in the games he played but I expected more for the high fee.

Moving on to the January transfer window, I didn't expect to make many moves given the transfer and wage budget were largely depleted but then China came calling for Garcia. Although last season he was exceptional, the injury fairy came to visit him again this season so when he regained fitness and this huge offer came in I bit their hand off. If Konate's deal was one of the worst I've done in my time at the club then this has to be one of the best. £38M for a 32 year old who has had a number of serious injuries that was losing his pace and earning a high wage is an excellent piece of business in my book. It works out well for him as he gets to spend his twilight years earning a fortune in a less taxing league to save up for when he hangs up his boots while it's great for us as it added a huge amount to the transfer budget for me to re-invest. The first of the players I decided to invest in being Heffernan MR who did reasonably well when called upon, he isn't particularly good technically but is lightning quick and thus makes for a good player to bring on late in games against tiring fullbacks.

The 2nd player I brought in was Jibrin ST who is a technical wizard although lacking in the physicality he needs to play in the Deep Lying Forward which is why I may shift him into midfield and invest in another striker. Finally, I brought in Henrique MC who looks like a fantastic player. A very technically gifted player who I'm sure will begin to shine once I give him more opportunities to play in the first team. I almost managed to get the left midfielder I said I had my eyes on earlier and we came close to getting the transfer over the line on deadline day but we ran out of time so the deal had to be cancelled. I'll definitely be looking to bring him in next season though if we can.

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Average Rating: 7.61
In my eyes, he is a far better player than Bacon who he replaced. While Bacon was very good with his passing that was the only area where he really shone whereas Koukal manages to marry having excellent technical attributes with being a hard working and combative team player which is what you need in a two man central midfield. I'm also a fan of his PPMs which massively help his game. Add in the fact that he is two footed and I feel I have a player which can be part of the spine of the team for many years to come.
 
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Average Rating: 7.48
Perhaps his average rating is somewhat inflated as he never played a game in the Champions League but what he did do was perform consistently in the domestic games which allowed my first choice central defenders to rest more keeping them in top condition for the bigger games. He's never going to be a star of the team but I don't need him to be and I'm more than satisfied with what he's contributing.
 
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Finances - Not a bad position to be in, especially given that we spent a decent amount of money on expanding the stadium. I'm pleased that the balance will allow me to invest in the team as there are a few areas which need work. It's also nice to see that while the wage bill is slowly coming down that it hasn't affected our ability to compete in Europe. I had a board takeover for the first time since being at the club as Henderson finally bows out. They didn't invest any money but stripped back the club culture which was good as I was tiring of seeing the board disheartened when it came to signing high profile players given that is not my play style at all. The new board only want us to 'strive to make progress on and off the pitch', whatever the heck that means. At least I think I'll be able to satisfy that requirement.

Facilities - A nice hefty expansion which was announced with the following message.

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This is great news although it is a shame that it will take so long to complete as it means the next stage of expansion will only be able to start in a minimum of two seasons. Had we been able to complete it before the end of next season I might have been able to start the next expansion at the start of the season after next. It's also a bit disappointing that we got allocated Breda Park during the expansion. Yes, it means that we will have the ground to ourselves which is okay but will mean that our gate receipts will significantly shrink next season given that we will have to work with only 7,280 seats in the Champions League. I would have much preferred to ground share Knockbreda's new ground which is all seater or better still to have ground shared Windsor Park but I guess it's likely hardcoded that you can't do that at a fierce rivals home ground although for one season it wouldn't have been the worst thing ever. On the plus side, after the expansion is complete we will have the largest ground in N. Ireland which is something to look forward to.

Youth Intake - I signed them all but the chances of any of them making it into the first team is remote. I did however take some proactive steps this season by signing a youth affiliation with Colombian side Junior. Hopefully, that yields something positive for the club in future. The first of what I'm hoping is many partnerships to be formed around the world as I look to enhance the clubs reach when it comes to the youth department. I'd really like to start developing more HG players in order to secure the long term future of the club for when it comes time for me to leave. We have developed the best facilities in the world, it's time for us to start seeing a return on that investment.
 
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League Reputation - Good to see the nation continue its upward trajectory as we reach a new record high in the reputation table.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - I'm glad to see Knockbreda still increasing in reputation although disappointed to see Linfield slip back.
 
Club European Reputation - I think we will need to win the Champions League again to claim top spot.
 
Here is how the other N. Irish teams performed in Europe this season:
 
Knockbreda - Knocked out in Europa League 2nd Knockout Round by Liverpool after 6-3 defeat on aggregate - Another tough draw for them to face at that stage of the tournament. They didn't manage to qualify for the Champions League group stage this time which was a little disappointing.
Larne - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 2nd Qualifying Round by Wisla Krakow after 3-2 defeat on aggregate - They really are struggling badly now.
Linfield - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 3rd Qualifying Round by CFR Cluj after 2-1 defeat on aggregate - Another dismal performance from them, made worse for the fact that they will have to wait at least another season for them to compete in Europe again which can't be helping their coefficient for when they do qualify.
Glenavon - Finished 4th in Europa Conference League group - Well, that pretty much sums it up. Aside from us and possibly Knockbreda, another dreadful year for N. Irish teams in Europe.
 
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Edited by pheelf
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7 hours ago, pheelf said:

7,280 seats in the Champions League

Then you won't be playing in the stadium for the Champions League, you need at least 8k seats!

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On 16/05/2020 at 19:32, rodesire said:

Then you won't be playing in the stadium for the Champions League, you need at least 8k seats!

You're right, that's the rule but for some reason all the games in the Champions League was still played at Breda Park which only has 7,280 seats which led to some strange views in the 3D match mode with only one stand having any fans when it should have been at least 3 stands with fans.

I wonder if the fact that I can't use Windsor Park is playing a part? The only other stadiums in N. Ireland which have over 8,000 seats being Knockbreda's new ground and the Oval so I don't understand why I couldn't just ground share one of them for a season.

What was even stranger was the fact that the Reserves played in the new stadium while it was being expanded. If they could play competitive games there why couldn't the first team? Anyway, never mind, for one season it's a bearable inconvenience, when we move back we will have the biggest stadium in N. Ireland which should provide a huge boost and get us a step closer to moving clubs.

Best Regards

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Glentoran F.C.

SEASON 2051 / 2052

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In our season of exile from our new stadium, it's imperative that I continue bringing success to the club. Winning our 4th Champions League in a row would go some way to achieving that.

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League Table - Another walkover for us but an interesting season for some of the other clubs. Firstly, Glenavon ended their season in 2nd with Knockbreda having a game in hand against us on the final matchday. Given that there was literally nothing left for us to play for having secured the title and we had an important European game coming up I decided to play the youth team. As a result, Knockbreda beat us 4-1 which made them overtake Glenavon. Glenavon would have no doubt felt aggrieved by this but I felt Knockbreda had a better chance of making progress in the Champions League given their far superior coefficient. This season also saw a massive turnaround from Linfield who up until a post split collapse were sitting in 2nd. Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come although it may mean the job doesn't become available for a while if the manager continues to improve the team.

Ballymena United won the DBP Europa Conference League Playoff on penalties after a 0-0 draw with Cliftonville in the final. A now professional Portadown comfortably beat Donegal Celtic 5-1 on aggregate in the relegation playoff while Ballinamallard United won the Championship title. I feel gutted for Donegal Celtic as that is yet another playoff defeat. They led the Championship table up until the final day where they bottled it by losing to mid table Newry City. Next season, the only non-professional club in the top flight will be Ballinamallard United which shows just how much progress has been made as the prospect of an entirely professional top league comes into view.

UEFA Champions League - I felt this was one of our toughest runs yet but we still managed to prevail, if only just to make it a fantastic four in a row. I had serious doubts as to whether we would progress past the group stages after a pair of poor defeats which meant that we had to win our final game to clinch 2nd. Thankfully, we narrowly won which allowed us to qualify. The knockout stages was a similar story, never really being in control of any of the games but doing enough to stifle our opponents and scrape past them with narrow wins. Our results this season should be a massive wake up call against complacency as we definitely had luck in our favour this season. That can't be relied on indefinitely though and eventually a team is going to turn us over and knock us out which would be terrible considering that the board now expect us to reach the semi final stage as a minimum. Much like last season, we still have the same problems with a lack of goals being scored at home. If we don't correct this, I rate our chances of retaining the trophy as slim. 

UEFA Super Cup - A very positive start to the season as we went off to play in far flung Kazakhstan. Just what I've always wanted, a nice thousands of miles round trip right at the start of the season, thanks UEFA. At least a decent number of our fans made the trip and had some good memories to take with them on the long journey home.

Domestic Cups - I managed to get knocked out early in the majority of the competitions but as hard as I tried I just couldn't get knocked out of the Irish Cup. I desperately wanted Donegal Celtic to beat us as I once again fielded the youth team but alas it wasn't to be. After that game, I decided to play a 2nd string side of first team players that needed fitness instead of the youth and that proved to strong enough to win the whole thing which was interesting. Next season, I'll be trying a lot harder to win as many of these as possible given the expanded ground and the opportunity it presents to give decent money to visiting teams.

Reserves - A great double for them, nice to see a creeping up of the attendances also. It would be great if they could contribute decent money to the lower league clubs also. Odd to see them playing in the new stadium during expansion while the first team played at Breda Park though.

Under 18s - Dominant at home while they had another horror show in Europe. Hopefully, with the signing of some more youth affiliations we might see some improvement in the coming seasons.

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Squad - A steady and stable squad that I think is stronger than last season. It's becoming increasingly difficult to make improvements which is a good sign of how strong a team we have at our disposal. Better still, the fact that the average age is still relatively young with maybe only a couple of players looking like needing replacing in the next few years. Keeping this group of players together is the way forward unless we get such high offers that I can replace the player lost. I've also tied a lot of the players to long term contracts as I seek to avoid a repeat of last season where I lost 2 very good players for nothing.

Transfers - A loss was made this time as I sought to fill the gaps in the squad. I sold Fogg MC which was a good deal for the club considering he arrived on a free and didn't really feature in the first team. I also sold Herbet DL for a decent fee, he was surplus to requirements and I couldn't turn down a good profit for a player who I didn't see having a future here. Munoz ML was the guy I had my eye on and he has proven to be an exceptional buy as he is now considered a wonderkid and has ousted Roca as my first choice. Bolten DC was overpriced but I needed a replacement for the departing Özcan who left on a free. I then sold Ruhrer DC as I needed the funds to buy Fernando DC and in retrospect it looks a decent choice even if the price I paid was slightly inflated. My final piece of major business was the sale of Schwarz MC on January deadline day. It was a bit of a gamble but I felt we had cover and we needed to bring some money in as the balance at that point was low. Overall, I think it was a very productive pair of windows with some excellent young prospects brought into the club.

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Barry Hill - ST
Average Rating: 7.44
A very consistent and reliable goalscorer which is what I need for someone playing in the Advanced Forward role. He had a few wobbles this season with respect to morale as he felt he wasn't playing enough but I was able to fulfill the promise to play him more which sorted that out. I'm glad I did as I'd like to keep him for the long term, I dread to think how much a replacement would cost.
 
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Average Rating: 7.30
One of the best debut seasons I've seen so far. This guy is already exceptionally good at the tender age of 19 and my coaches think he is nowhere near playing at his full potential. I'm really excited to see what the future holds for him, if he can continue his impressive rate of development he really could become one of the best ever left wingers.
 
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Finances - Having to play the season at Breda Park really hurt our bottom line although that only partially explains why the balance has fallen so much. The wage bill has become completely out of control. Trying to keep the squad together I have gotten into the bad habit of just giving my players what they want in terms of a new contract. This wouldn't be so bad if I was the one instigating all the extensions but that hasn't been the case of late. A player has a decent game, wants a new contract. I reject a transfer offer, even if the player doesn't want to leave, wants a new contract. Feeling underpaid, wants a new contract. Given that climate it's easy to see how the wage bill has gotten so high.

Nearly £1.6Mp/w is completely unsustainable for a club of such modest means. That works out at over £75Mp/a and that's without factoring in bonuses or staff wages or any other costs involved in running a football club. I have to find a way of sorting this mess out otherwise I can see once I leave there being a downward spiral into debt. We didn't fail the FFP but with spending like this unless we continue to keep winning the Champions League it's only a matter of time. Hopefully, the expanded stadium can help boost our income significantly. We will need to keep the balance around this level if we are to continue expanding the ground.

Facilities - Both the training and youth facilities downgraded so I had to spend money on upgrading those again. I'm really hoping the expanded ground really helps to improve our financial status. I asked for an expansion as soon as we moved back but that was rejected, hopefully, once into the season and we start to sell the ground out regularly then we might get another expansion granted.

Youth Intake - I added Brazilian club Fluminense FC as a youth affiliate along with Belarusian side FC BATE Borisov. My attempt to expand the reach of the youth department appears to be working as the pick of the intake comes from Brazil in Carlos MR who scored on his debut in the first team (the final matchday in the DBP against Knockbreda). I signed everyone and have eyes on signing more youth affiliations next season.
 
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League Reputation - Delighted to see us still creeping up the table. I can't see us overtaking Scotland anytime soon though and getting a 3rd Champions League spot. The improvement in infrastructure seen in Scottish football has been immense with practically all the teams either having expanded their stadiums or moved into bigger grounds (even teams like Hamilton and Falkirk). Closing that gap at this point is not looking feasible.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - It's pleasing to see Linfield performing much better and also to see a more competitive fight for 2nd. Donegal Celtic are getting closer and closer, they just need that little bit extra to get them over the line.
 
Club European Reputation - Brilliant to see us on top at last.
 
Here is how the other N. Irish teams performed in Europe this season:
 
Knockbreda - Knocked out in Europa League 2nd Knockout Round by Schalke 04 after 6-2 defeat on aggregate - They seem to be spinning their wheels at the moment. An all too familiar story of them being knocked out in the Champions League qualifiers, excelling in the Europa League group stages then getting thrashed in the knockout stages.
Ballymena United - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 4th Qualifying Round by Panathinaikos after 4-2 defeat on aggregate - A nice try from them, at least they get another shot next season.
Cliftonville - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 3rd Qualifying Round by Ufa after 3-1 defeat on aggregate - It could be their last appearance in Europe for a while so maybe they should have done a little better.
Glenavon - Finished 4th in Europa Conference League group - When it should be getting easier, it is in fact becoming more difficult for them.
 
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Amazing achievement once again.  Can I offer a little suggestion with regards to the wage bill? I noticed that Barry Hill played 39 and scored 31. You could do a little maths for me (you don't have to)? Could you work out how much you pay in appearances and goal scoring bonuses. I don't offer either of those as well as unused sub bonuses, wage rise and sell-on bonus. The only ones I really allow are team related bonuses, wages after appearances and the goal scoring target. The reason I ask is do you think it is possible to save money without bonuses that can be costly? Defenders and goalkeepers all get their bonus if they keep a clean sheet. That's 5 people for one game, if a striker gets a hat-trick that's 3 times the bonus for one player in one match. I usually nudge the wages down a few clicks and there will be a jump in wage demand with the lack of bonuses, but I would be surprised if you can't save money. I have plans in future to go the opposite and try to save money by going bonus heavy and see if I can cut spending that way. Like I said, you don't have to do the working out, it's just a thought. I'm pretty sure I mentioned how tight I am with bonuses last year.:D

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4 Big Ears in a row is incredible!

1.6mil a week must be a third of leading European club budget, frankly, so you're doing okay there, wouldn't be rushing to fix it too harshly.  If you could maintain that and build you other sources of revenue you should be quite sustainable especially with a shiny new stadium.

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On 20/05/2020 at 14:17, Stouters said:

Amazing achievement once again.  Can I offer a little suggestion with regards to the wage bill? I noticed that Barry Hill played 39 and scored 31. You could do a little maths for me (you don't have to)? Could you work out how much you pay in appearances and goal scoring bonuses. I don't offer either of those as well as unused sub bonuses, wage rise and sell-on bonus. The only ones I really allow are team related bonuses, wages after appearances and the goal scoring target. The reason I ask is do you think it is possible to save money without bonuses that can be costly? Defenders and goalkeepers all get their bonus if they keep a clean sheet. That's 5 people for one game, if a striker gets a hat-trick that's 3 times the bonus for one player in one match. I usually nudge the wages down a few clicks and there will be a jump in wage demand with the lack of bonuses, but I would be surprised if you can't save money. I have plans in future to go the opposite and try to save money by going bonus heavy and see if I can cut spending that way. Like I said, you don't have to do the working out, it's just a thought. I'm pretty sure I mentioned how tight I am with bonuses last year.:D

Cheers, with regards to Hill's goal bonus, he gets £13,250 per goal scored so that means that I paid him a total of £410,750 for his goal bonus over the course of the season. A tidy sum but then again if I didn't offer that bonus he would want a far higher basic wage which you could argue is a worse proposition in that he doesn't have to do anything to get that money. At least with the goal bonus it provides some sort of incentive. I try my best to avoid yearly wage rises, sell on fee percentages and I try to minimize the amount of extras in the contract but a lot of the time it's either I offer a lucrative contract to the player or I risk losing him on a free which has happened a few times over the last couple of seasons and has resulted in a lot of lost income from player sales.

It's a tricky situation that I need to find the right balance with. If I cut back too much I risk not being able to go as far in the Champions League and lose a lot of potential revenue that way. At the moment, I'm just about managing to keep the finances in a decent position because of the prize money from the Champions League and player sales but the situation has been complicated by something I'll go into detail about in the next season review. I'd be interested to hear whether going bonus heavy allows you to significantly cut spending. I sense it will save a bit of money but then again I think a lot of the players will still demand a high basic wage as I don't think there is a 1:1 ratio between bonuses and basic wage (i.e. offering £10Kp/w more on clean sheet bonus means you can offer £10Kp/w less on basic wage). What that ratio is I'm not sure but it'd be great to find out that information.

All the best

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On 20/05/2020 at 18:30, rodesire said:

4 Big Ears in a row is incredible!

1.6mil a week must be a third of leading European club budget, frankly, so you're doing okay there, wouldn't be rushing to fix it too harshly.  If you could maintain that and build you other sources of revenue you should be quite sustainable especially with a shiny new stadium.

Thanks, what you say is true. When I compare our budget with that of the top European teams it's still relatively small. The problem is the inherent wealth gap that exists between us and them. For winning the DBP I get just over £1M in prize money which doesn't even cover a weeks wages. The Champions League money and player sales are all that is keeping us afloat at the moment. Which is not a big deal when it comes to me managing the club but is it realistic to assume that an AI manager could keep the level of success going? I think that is highly unlikely.

It has gotten to the point now where an early knockout in the Champions League could mean catastrophe for the clubs finances. That is an incredibly risky situation to be in. The new stadium will help but it can't make up for the lack of domestic income. Besides, the ticket prices are much lower in N. Ireland than in any of the other big leagues. As I don't see me being at the club for much longer it has become much more important to cut the wage bill otherwise there is a chance of the club plummeting into debt undoing a lot of the good work I've done to build the club.

Best Regards

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Glentoran F.C.

SEASON 2052 / 2053

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The stadium has been expanded which should help the ailing club finances. The board now demand that we reach the semi final of the Champions League at a minimum, no pressure then. At the end of the season we have another attempt at becoming world champions. I'd quite like to grasp the opportunity given it may be my last chance to win it with the club.

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League Table - A massive improvement in the league with us winning the title easily while scoring more and conceding less. Once again, Linfield and Glenavon put in a decent challenge for 2nd but erratic post split form ended their hopes of breaking the duopoly. Ballinamallard United were the worst ever side to play in the DBP and it could have been even worse given they only had 1 point after 33 games. Thankfully, 3 wins in the post split period at least allowed them to get to double figures in points, just shows how hard it's being the only part time club in an otherwise professional league. Larne beat Ballymena United on penalties after a 1-1 draw in the Europa Conference League playoff while Donegal Celtic lost 7-2 on aggregate to Coleraine in the relegation playoff. Next season will see Dungannon Swifts rejoin the top flight after a comfortable Championship title win.

UEFA Champions League - This was anything but comfortable but we did manage to make it 5 in a row. It was yet another nerve shredding experience as we had to depend on penalties twice but thankfully we just about had enough about us to get the job done. As much as I'm happy with the win I can't shake the feeling that we are getting incredibly lucky. Once in the knockout stages, I found that teams once again dominated us and were able to control the games against us. It still very much feels like we are the underdogs and have to depend on hitting teams on the break to score goals. This becomes especially pronounced when playing teams that are more cautious in their approach. They dominate the ball and we really struggle to disrupt their rhythm. Given the quality of the squad available to us I would have thought we would have been able to start imposing ourselves on the opposition by now but that hasn't been the case. Getting to 6 in a row is going to be tough as surely this run of good fortune is going to end soon.

FIFA Club World Cup - This went about as well as I could have hoped for as we went to Norway and became world champions. I learnt from my experience last time with the unfit players and decided to rest my players for the whole period of the tournament to help with conditioning. Well, it did the trick even though I was without Monterde ST who was on international duty along with some other players. Going the whole tournament without conceding a goal is a remarkable achievement. We really seem to be excelling at penalty shootouts of late, the last one we lost was 2 seasons ago which is an incredible record. More incredible for the fact that our players aren't really that good at taking penalties. I must give all the credit to Martins GK who seems to pull off saves at important moments in the shootout to help us.

UEFA Super Cup - Nothing better than a last minute winner. Another long round trip for us but we got the win which is all that matters.

Domestic Cups - With our performances this season we managed to win every senior competition we competed in to complete a magnificent clean sweep of trophies. We won so many games that a 7-1 win over Banbridge in the League Cup got cut off the screenshot. Very pleased to see us sell out Hampden Park for the Scottish Challenge Cup final as that is a good indication of the growth of the clubs fan base.

Reserves - Came close to winning the lot but a penalty shootout loss denied them the opportunity to play for the treble.

Under 18s - Never looked like being capable of beating their German opponents in the UEFA Youth League but a good campaign overall.

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Squad - There has been less volatility in the makeup of the squad in recent seasons as I've focused on developing what we already have. It has proven to be a winning strategy as for the first time we had Andrews DR who is a product of our youth academy become a wonderkid which is an important milestone for the club. Unfortunately, we suffered a few injuries this season with the most serious of those being a torn hamstring by Munoz ML which he suffered in late December that kept him out for 2 months of the season. The injuries were bad but not damaging enough to be a real cause for concern unlike in previous seasons where injuries threatened to derail the entire campaign.

If there is anything to be concerned about going forward it would be that the market values of my players have plummeted for some inexplicable reason. This is incredibly bad news as I was hoping that I could make some big money sales to reduce the wage budget and keep the selling club philosophy going. Selling my most highly valued players now would represent a huge loss for the club which is precisely what I don't want if I'm hoping to leave a financially stable club for my successor. I'm hoping this is just a blip and that the market values will return to their highs of last season next time around but it's an annoying situation to be in having to field insulting low offers for my best players. It hasn't managed to unsettle my best players enough yet as I have been able to placate them but I can see it causing problems.

Transfers - A very quiet pair of windows, so quiet in fact, that I didn't buy or sell a single player in the summer window. The reason being that I had no money and wanted to keep the squad together. That has become especially important now given that the board expect us to stay within the wage budget. Therefore I restricted my business to only spending what I managed to recoup through sales. The first of those sales being of Correa MC who while a good player wasn't a first choice. The offer was decent and he wanted to earn a higher wage so I decided to let him go and replaced him with Bech who looks a solid defensively minded central midfielder. The only other player to leave was Warschewski MR who desperately wanted to play for Bayern Munich so when they came in with a good offer I couldn't deny him. I then reinvested that money into Gabriel MR who is an top quality player alongside bringing in Da Silva MC to add depth to the central midfield.

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Average Rating: 8.02
He had a brilliant season and managed to score 40 goals!! He's definitely one of the players I want to keep, just unfortunate for him that he was unable to get a medal for winning the World Club Cup as he was away on international duty. Thankfully, he doesn't appear to have any interest in leaving the club. Having to field a large number of low offers from every top European club is no fun though.
 
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Average Rating: 7.69
A special talent who continued to develop until his unfortunate injury. He still is track to become a world class player though as he has bounced back very well.
 
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Finances - A few negative things happened this season which have put us in a bit of a tricky position. The first of which is the plummeting market values which has seriously jeopardized our ability to operate as a selling club. For a few seasons now we have been able to spend larger amounts on bringing players in with the knowledge that those players would be able to earn the club a profit with development. We now find ourselves in the position that if we sold a lot of the players we brought over the last few seasons now, the club would make a huge loss which seems buggy considering they are much better players now than when they first joined the club. To demonstrate the extent of the problem, last season, I was fielding offers of around £80M for Monterde, this season I'm getting offers in the region of £20M. It feels like I'm being punished when all I've done is be successful on and off the pitch.

Another problem is that we are well over our wage budget which we have been unable to bring under control. The biggest issue with this is that it means I can't make any moves in the transfer market unless I sell players which feeds into the problem of being unable to get good money for my players. It also means that I'm unable to renew contracts which is another issue given that some of our best players are entering the last year of their contracts. Finally, our board decided that the situation was desperate enough to pump in £2.5M which was fine but then for some reason they also decided to take out a loan of £8.5M which I don't have a explanation for. The stadium expansion was paid for upfront and there was no reason for it. There are difficult times ahead for sure and I'm going to have to work very hard to claw the club back from the edge of a financial abyss (yes, it could potentially be that serious).

Facilities - Even with all the financial problems, at least I was still able to get an expansion granted which is shown in the message below.

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This is a nice huge expansion which will take the capacity over 35,000 which is great. I'm not sure whether it can go any further from that point as the new capacity is at least double its starting size. I will have to wait for it to be completed and if the option to expand is no longer available then I will take that as a sign we have reached the potential expansion capacity and start to think of my next move. I hope that's not the case and we can get the stadium over 40,000 seats but I sense next season could be my last at the club.

Youth Intake - I added a Chinese club to the youth affiliate network as I expanded into Asia and now all I need is a club in Africa, North America & Oceania and I'll have an affiliate on every continent. This intake is one of the poorer ones of recent years but I signed everyone to see whether training at state of the art of facilities and with world class coaches can help them develop into something decent.
 
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League Reputation - Can't say I was expecting this but a huge jump up into 6th. It's a shame that it doesn't come with an additional Champions League spot but the other N. Irish teams have been abysmal in Europe of late. The fact that we are just behind the top 5 leagues now makes it even stranger that the market values of my players have fallen in the way they have. Something really weird is going on.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - Donegal Celtic actually decided to cancel their affiliation with the club at the end of the season which I found rather curious citing the fact that they were candidates for promotion so no longer felt the arrangement was beneficial. It seems a rather foolish move considering that part of the reason why they were promotion contenders was because of the free loans we've been giving them all these years. Ah well, we'll see how that works out for them.
 
Club European Reputation - A nice little gap appearing for us at the top which I'm hoping allows us to stay there for some time.
 
Here is how the other N. Irish teams performed in Europe this season:
 
Knockbreda - Knocked out in Europa League 1st Knockout Round by Aberdeen after 4-2 defeat on aggregate - Starting to struggle rather badly now and when I look at their squad I can see the reason why. Their squad is threadbare and they could really do with investing some money in that direction. They could also really do with making it into the Champions League group stage.
Ballymena United - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 4th Qualifying Round by Young Boys after 2-1 defeat on aggregate - So close yet again, when they won the 1st leg 1-0 I thought they were going to make it to the group stage but they couldn't score in Switzerland which when combined with conceding twice knocked them out. 
Linfield - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 3rd Qualifying Round by Radnicki after 5-1 defeat on aggregate - FFS!!...How on earth did they manage to get turned over like that. At least they are starting to consistently qualify for Europe which is a positive but making it into the group stages is looking an impossible feat at this point.
Glenavon - Finished 4th in Europa Conference League group - What has happened to them? They have become really poor of late in Europe and really should have done better in their group.
 
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MOVING ON UP

The new seats are in and the stadium now has a capacity of 35,270 which makes it the largest ground in the whole of N. Ireland nearly having double the capacity of the next largest which is Windsor Park. The first game in the newly expanded ground comes against deadly rivals Linfield which is some way to christen the new capacity of the ground as it guarantees that our first game will be a sell-out. That was confirmed in the following message as we expect to break the DBP record attendance.

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Here is a screenshot of the stadium before the expansion was completed.

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As shown in the screenshot it would appear that the work was being done on the ends of the ground only but that wasn't accurate as all the stands got renovated during the expansion. Here are some screenshots of the ground during the Linfield game.

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The Main Grandstand - Replacing the 2 tier stand which stood previously, now sits a 3 tier stand. There is apparently a line of corporate boxes which runs along the top of the 2nd smaller tier although it's very difficult to see in this screenshot (almost looks non existent but in other screenshots of the ground can be seen). The roof has been replaced with a metal corrugated design which has new green painted struts. The full length roof mounted floodlights have been replaced with 3 large ones which have gaps in between.

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The Facing Grandstand - Here is a view of the facing grandstand from a seat high in the main grandstand. As can be seen it is identical to the main grandstand with the exception of the dugouts and tunnel. It is flanked by two large video screens in the corners.

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The Colin Nixon End - In this screenshot, you can more clearly see the row of corporate boxes in both the Colin Nixon End and also in the Facing Grandstand.

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The Away End - Mirroring image of the Colin Nixon End filled to capacity with Linfield supporters. Can see this being very empty when the likes of Institute visit.

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Eagle eye view - An overview of the ground which shows the new roof in more detail. I'm not sure about the new corrogated metal roof design as it makes the ground look a little cheap in my view but overall a vast improvement on what was there before expansion.

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As expected the game saw a record attendance which smashed the record for a game in the DBP. I'd expect to see the records also be broken in the other N. Irish competitions as the season goes on.

I went to the board to attempt to request a further expansion but the option was not available which means that the ground must be at its potential capacity. It's not a massive ground but should give Glentoran a decent income while it counts down the time until a new ground can be built. It doesn't really compare with the major European giants but it does at least give the club a seat at the table. I really would like if new builds weren't so restrictive and a bit more forward planning could be done. I sense we could sell out a ground at least twice the size given the growth of our fan base and I can't fathom why we would build a new ground without enabling the possibility to expand it to a massive size.

As a result of the ground reaching its maximum size, this will be my last season with the club. I have achieved pretty much everything I can with the club and no longer feel that I can help the objective of the save by remaining with the club. I'll stay with the club until a job opportunity comes available or I reach the end of the season, which ever comes first. 

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Adding to the strangeness of my final season with Glentoran, here's how the Championship table looked going into the final game.

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I've never seen such a close finish with nothing in terms of promotion being decided.

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Theoretically, all the teams except Distillery and perhaps Newry City (would need a prohibitive amount of goals) could win the title which is an unbelievable climax to the season. All the teams could grab a spot in the playoff. Below is the final day results and table.

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I guess when Donegal Celtic decided to cancel the affiliation they knew something I didn't as they managed to finish on top after years and years of playoff heartbreak, honestly speaking, I'm a tad disappointed that I couldn't help them achieve it much sooner and that they had to sever ties with us to make it happen. They'll probably be like a fish out of water in the top flight being the only part time club but the money they will earn should make a huge difference for them and hopefully make it much easier in future to bounce back and establish themselves in the DBP.

Now to the season review.

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Glentoran F.C.

SEASON 2053 / 2054

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With the new stadium having been expanded to its maximum size there isn't anything more I can do to build the club for the foreseeable future. As a result, I've decided that this will be my last season with the Glens and to move on to another N. Irish club and attempt to build them. Let's go out on a high. 

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League Table - We had an invincible season going until we secured the title. Once we had done that the players went on the beach as I focused on Europe, we then conspired to lose 2 post split games which ended our hopes of going the entire season unbeaten. Elsewhere, Knockbreda once again had a tough battle for 2nd with Glenavon but were able to prevail once again after a late season collapse. Linfield managed another solid 4th place although unlike last season were never in contention for a Champions League spot. Ballymena United beat Crusaders 1-0 in the Europa Conference League playoff. Institute easily beat Ballinamallard United in the relegation playoff routing them 7-3 on aggregate. Next season will at last see the arrival of Donegal Celtic into the top flight after a dramatic final day in the Championship which resulted in them coming up as champions.

UEFA Champions League - Of all the trophies we entered into, I wanted this trophy more than any other and we managed to scrape a narrow win to give ourselves the joy of six in a row. After achieving perfection in the group stage I was beginning to think that we would saunter to the trophy but the knockout stages soon dispelled that myth. We found the step up in class in terms of opponent really tough going with us having to recover in every round from a 1st leg deficit. Although we did tread close to the edge of the cliff we never fell off and showed great resilience which has become our hallmark in the competition over the last few seasons. A fitting end to our European adventures with the club and I hope that they will be able to maintain that fighting spirit and determination to overcome adversity under the new regime as they will need it if they are to stand any chance of retaining their title.

UEFA Super Cup - Another win but I have no clue where we actually played the game, peculiar. It's not like we have a continent full of appropriate venues which could host the game :idiot:

Domestic Cups - A reasonable performance in the cups although never reached the heights of last season. It was a shame that once the stadium had been fully expanded that we didn't have a single game at home.

Reserves - A rather mediocre effort from the backup players as they were only able to win the Reserve league title.

Under 18s - Just when I had given up all hope of it ever happening during my time at the club, there it is, larger than life, UEFA Youth League winners. The team had to win 3 penalty shootouts to lift the trophy but who cares, I'm ecstatic as it completes the set. I've now won every single trophy in my time at the club which is an incredible achievement. The youth affiliates have more than proven their worth as the youth players we got from them no doubt helped us reach this moment.

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Squad - As great as the season was on the pitch it was a bit of a nightmare off the pitch. We suffered a multitude of injuries throughout the season, some of which being utterly bizarre which meant that we had to bring reserve players into the first team. We also had two of the worst transfer windows I've experienced in my time at the club. The falling of the market values prompted a daily barrage of offers from everywhere which had the effect of unsettling a lot of players and plunging morale. I was able to talk around a lot of the players but some like Fernando DC and Hill ST simply couldn't be reasoned with. Setting asking prices seemed to have no impact as we constantly received the same low offers again and again. Unfortunately, the market values of the players still hasn't recovered so more of the same is to be expected next season although thankfully I won't have to deal with it. That is likely to mean a fire sale of the clubs best players with the associated massive financial loss which when combined with their replacements likely to be a bunch of over the hill British players will probably lead to a quick decline. I'd love to be proved wrong but I very much doubt it.

Transfers - Considering the sheer number of offers I fielded it was a surprisingly quiet pair of windows. The first big move being the sale of Heffernan MR for a fee which in my view was acceptable. I followed that with the sale of Henrique MC who was always a bit of an awkward player for me to integrate into the squad. He has a really unusual set of attributes which make him either a good central midfielder or a good winger which meant that while he was good cover for both the MC and MR positions he was never likely to be a first choice. Unhappy with being a bit part player when a decent offer came in I decided to sell. Needing a replacement, I then on deadline day brought in Martin MC who is a great midfielder and looks to have a bright future. Then the summer window slammed shut for us and I received an offer for Konate ML. The deal represented a sizable loss of the club but given he was a backup player at best I decided to let him go.

Okoro ST had his contract expiring at the end of the season and I was hoping to negotiate a new deal with him which would reduce his astronomically high wage. When I saw that he wanted a wage rise to £180Kp/w to sign a new deal and wouldn't come down in his ask I decided to let him leave on a free. When Watford decided that £850K would be enough for them to buy him in January I jumped at the opportunity to significantly reduce the wage bill and look for a replacement. That replacement was found in wonderkid Thaqi ST who is exactly the type of strong, powerful, imposing player I was looking for to play in the DLF role. I hope that he stays at the club for a long time as he has the potential to be world class.

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Average Rating: 7.82
Absolutely gutted for him once again as he couldn't start the Champions League final through injury and had to be injected to even have a spot on the bench. Other than that, he had a really solid season for the club. Scored a goal a game in the league and contributed well. His wage may be high but he is someone who has earned it unlike Okoro who hasn't, whether he is affordable for a club like Glentoran in the long term is another question though.
 
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Average Rating: 7.80
Done wonders domestically but never really hit the heights in Europe which can be seen in the massive dip in average rating for his continental games. It would be a travesty if he was to leave as he is a critical component of the team.
 
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Finances - The balance at the end of the season is always misleading as it gives the impression that we are comfortable but we are really losing a lot of money each month which the Champions League prize money and TV money masks. I tried to leave them in as strong a financial position as I could but it's really difficult to do that while maintaining success in Europe. At least they have a lot of assets to sell if it starts to get a bit dicey with the finances but unfortunately they won't be getting full value which is something they will have to accept.

Facilities - Everything is the best it can be. Attendances have significantly risen during my time at the club and hopefully next season will be another record year.

Youth Intake - A decent intake with McDowell ML looking an exciting prospect coming through the ranks, everyone was signed and hopefully will provide some good players in future for the first team.
 
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League Reputation - A dip back down to 7th but we are still miles behind challenging Scotland's coefficient and getting 3 Champions League spots.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - I don't envy my successors job as the only way from the summit is down. Hopefully, they are more competent at maintaining this position than I think.
 
Club European Reputation - I'm hoping that the new manager will get a grace period of being top for a few seasons even if they are unable to win the Champions League.
 
Here is how the other N. Irish teams performed in Europe this season:
 
Knockbreda - Knocked out in Europa League 2nd Knockout Round by Dundee United on penalties after 1-1 draw on aggregate - They did well to make it to the group stage of the Champions League. They then drew a menacing looking group but did well and came close to finishing 2nd. Unlucky against their Scottish opponents but a positive campaign in Europe.
Larne - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 3rd Qualifying Round by Partizan after 4-3 defeat on aggregate - A decent showing but couldn't muster enough to defeat their Serbian opponents.
Linfield - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 4th Qualifying Round by Ajax after 2-0 defeat on aggregate - A lot better than last season but about as tough a draw they could have gotten in order to progress to the group stage, at least they put in a good fight only succumbing to defeat in Amsterdam with a 2-0 loss.
Glenavon - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 2nd Knockout Round by PSV on penalties after 3-3 draw on aggregate - This was actually a rather decent year for the N. Irish clubs in Europe. Just a shame both Knockbreda and Glenavon got knocked out on penalties.
 
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TIME FOR A CHANGE

After winning everything that is possible with Glentoran and expanding the new stadium to its maximum size I felt that I could no longer help the objective of the save staying with the Glens so decided it was time for a new challenge. As a result, in mid-June I resigned the post. The only job available in the DBP at the time I resigned was with Crusaders. I was tempted to apply for the job but decided against it with the hope that a better job would become vacant. As the season was going on I was beginning to regret my decision not to go for the job as nobody was moving from their managerial positions in the DBP.

Then all of a sudden there was a spate of vacancies. The first of which was with newly promoted part time club Donegal Celtic whose manager left for Blyth Spartans. I decided to apply for the job and was offered the position which I decided to delay accepting as I was also interviewing for the newly open Cliftonville job. Their manager decided to leave and become the new manager for Dundee United. Finally, the Coleraine vacancy became available right as I was being offered the vacancies at both Cliftonville and Donegal Celtic. In the end, I decided to join...

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I was sorely tempted to join Donegal Celtic as I wanted to see if I could save them from relegation after seeing them struggle for so many years to make it into the top flight. The fact that their board wanted me to develop players through the clubs youth system was also an attraction which saw me coming very close to accepting their offer. Then I thought about it for a bit and decided against it. The timeline required for me to turn them into a good side was too long and by then the reputation of the DBP might have deteriorated too much.

As a result, I decided to accept the job as Cliftonville manager given that I felt the Coleraine job would be much the same as the Donegal Celtic job. They are far better placed to be improved on a far shorter timescale and I felt that ultimately would be a lot more beneficial for the league as a whole in the long term. They also have the club vision to only sign players below 20 which I thought would add an interesting dimension to the save and fit in very nicely with the whole selling club philosophy I like to institute at clubs playing in N. Ireland.

History

They have a decent history and have won a number of trophies but since the era of domination of N. Irish football from Knockbreda and then Glentoran they have become a rather mediocre outfit. They have never been relegated (although they have come close on few occasions since the save started) and have settled into being a mid to lower table DBP side. When they have qualified for European football it hasn't been much of a success either. Since the save began they haven't competed in the Champions League and have never made the group stages of any European competition. Hopefully, during my tenure that can change.

Trophies Won

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Club

A major factor which swung the decision for me to join was the sheer number of rivalries that the club has. More importantly, the teams which they have the fierce rivalries with are all the biggest clubs in the country. If I could get this club built to a good size I sense that it would have a massively beneficial impact on all the other Belfast based clubs which would really help the standard of football in the country. I'm a great fan of the highly professional nature of the players and will hope to foster and improve that during my time at the club.

Facilities

This is an area which will need to be improved dramatically. I'm not a great fan of artificial pitches but we will have to make do with it until we can build a new ground. It's somewhat disappointing to see that in the 30 odd seasons since the save started that they have been unable to significantly invest in the infrastructure of the club but hopefully under my reign that will all begin to change.

First Team Squad

It is really clear why this team has become such a mid table side and why I'm going to need to start a massive rebuilding project. The clearest problem is that the better players are all older and have peaked and the majority of the next generation of players beneath them are either not good enough or at the club on loan meaning they can't be the long term replacements. The fact that we have so many players on loan at the club is also a big issue. Not only does it deprive the contracted players from first team football but it means throwing development time into players that you can't make money from as you can't sell them. As a result, I'm going to try and wean the club off loans which isn't going to be easy considering we have at least half a teams worth in the squad but will be necessary as I attempt to change the model of the club from a dependent one into a self sufficient one.

It's a real shame that Kristinsson ST will be leaving as I was hoping to build the club around this bright young talent but come June 2055 he will be leaving for Hearts. Why my predecessor didn't deem it necessary to offer him a full time contract before other clubs could intervene I don't know but the HG player will be a huge loss. What's more baffling is that he hasn't been playing him considering he would be very helpful for the team. Looking at other bright prospects in the team, Rooney MC looks like a decent player in midfield who I'm hoping to develop and then sell on for a good amount. Considering that our biggest sale of a player is for £319K I will be hoping to break that record sooner rather than later. Outside of those two players there isn't too much to get excited about and I would anticipate a very busy January transfer window as I look to bring in some fresh talent especially since the board would like us to sign U20 players for the future.

Reserve Squad

McCormick GK will be offered a new contract and put into the first team as he is a much better goalkeeper than Bell who will be relegated to the reserves. Looking at the squad there isn't much there which could help us in the short term but McCarthy DL and Muir DC at least look to have a bit of potential. Hopefully, with a decent season on loan they maybe can push their way into the first team picture.

Under 18s Squad

Mulholland DC looks a good prospect but it looks like slim pickings in this squad also.

Finances

This is quite worrying and looking at the trend of the balance over the last 5 years would indicate all is not well with the club. Season upon season the club is just going deeper and deeper into the red but interestingly doesn't have any loans. This is the biggest obstacle that we are going to need to overcome in the short term. That process of turning it around begins by becoming a selling club and getting the club out of debt as quickly as possible. European qualification is also going to be imperative also to quicken the rate we can improve matters.

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Starting Conditions

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We aren't too far off the top 6 and that will be the main target for the season as that at least guarantees us the opportunity to play for European qualification.

Career Objectives

I'm going to be more focused about this and set out some bullet points of what I hope to achieve and by when.

By the end of 2054/2055

- At least have halved the debt and started the process of selling our most highly valued players 

- Identified young inexpensive talent to add to the squad and have a number of pre-contract agreements in place

- Finish in the top 6 and gain European qualification

By the end of 2055/2056

- Ended the clubs dependence on loans and eliminated the clubs debts

- Start the process of selling some of the players brought in last season for profit

- Finish in the top 6 and gain European qualification

By the end of 2056/2057

- Start building the bank balance and start investing in the infrastructure of the club

- Continue to bring in young players for free and keep selling players for profit

- Finish in the top 4 and gain European qualification

By the end of 2057/2058

- By now there should be a decent balance at the club to enable the continued investment in infrastructure

- Start spending money on young players which can be sold on for profit

- Challenge for a top 2 spot and make it into the group stages of a European competition

By the end of 2058/2059

- Ramp up investment in the infrastructure of the club

- Continue the selling club philosophy

- Challenge for a top 2 spot and make it into the group stages of a European competition

 

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WELL, THAT DIDN'T LAST VERY LONG :(

I spent precisely 10 days as the Cliftonville manager, yes, 10 days before resigning from the post. Before I go on, I'd like to apologize to all the Cliftonville fans as my leaving has nothing what so ever to do with the club and when I laid out that 5 years plan I was being genuine as I wanted to do my best for the club. Had I spent a little longer with the club perhaps I would have been more invested in the team and found it harder to leave but when the job becomes available which holds the key to accelerating the growth of the nation the quickest then my hands were effectively tied and I had to leave. Maybe some day I'll come back and finish what I started but for now I'm off on a new adventure while wishing them the best for the future (except when they play against my new team of course).

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When the Linfield manager Colin Smith decided to leave to take the Notts County job after we beat his team 1-0 at Windsor Park, the door of opportunity opened for me, whether or not that defeat influenced his decision I'll never know. I hesitated for a moment not really wanting to resign from a management position twice within 6 months but given the way that Linfield had been improving of late I felt that if I didn't make the move that the new manager could have been in post for some considerable length of time. That wouldn't have necessarily been a problem had I got my teeth stuck into Cliftonville and had become attached to them but having not had even a single transfer window in order to start bringing in my own players I found it much easier to leave. I may come to regret the move but for now I'm happy and eager to start the journey of turning Linfield into one of the best clubs in the world.

History

They are the most decorated club in N. Irish football history but ever since I turned up at Knockbreda they have become an upper mid table DBP team managing only two 2nd placed finishes in the 2020/21 & 2024/25 seasons. In the senior cups they have fared little better with their only successes being in the League Cup which they have won 6 times since the save began. Unlike my former team Cliftonville, they have made it into the group stages of European competition. In 2039/40 they managed a creditable 3rd place finish in their Europa League group which led to an impressive run to the 2nd Knockout Round of the Europa Conference League where they ultimately were outclassed by a quality Chelsea side. This season they also managed to qualify for the Europa Conference League group stage but finished rock bottom of their group.

Trophies Won

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Club

The board have afforded me more freedom in terms of a vision with them only wanting us to qualify for the Europa Conference League for the next 5 seasons. I have set my sights somewhat higher and given the size of the club that should be possible. I like the highly professional nature of the squad and although we have less rivals that Cliftonville we are one part of the biggest derby in the country which is far more significant. We have the 2nd most season ticket sales in the country behind Glentoran and the 2nd biggest stadium. The potential to turn this club into a massive superpower is definitely there.

Facilities

The big attraction is of course the stadium and the potential expansion capacity of 28,000 which means that when it comes time for a new stadium it will likely be huge when fully expanded. That's the ultimate end goal for my time at the club. Having a 65,000 all seater stadium will massively increase the clubs revenue and will bring riches to other teams playing against us in the cups which should be transformative for them. The training and youth facilities aren't that great and will need significant investment but that will have to wait until we have secured the finances of the club.

First Team Squad

Another team in need of massive rebuild with as much depth in the team as a kiddies paddling pool. I am however more encouraged looking at their squad than I was looking at the squad at Cliftonville. There are fewer loans which is good while there does appear to be a lot of promising HG young talent in the squad which I can develop. Kyriakou DC, Rafferty MC, Hogg ML and Harris ST are all high potential players who I can build the team around. Selling Millar DC and Demir MC will be important to provide the seed money for the rebuild so I'm hoping they will both smash our highest transfer fee received record which stands at £594K. Adding depth to the squad is going to be critical if I'm to start proper squad rotation which we will need to compete both domestically and in Europe.

Looking at the best positions of the players in the squad I was tempted to abandon my 4-4-2 and instead field my 4-1-2-3 Wide but decided against it. To play that system, you need quality fullbacks and strikers that are strong and capable of holding the ball up while they wait for support. We have neither, both McAvoy and Harris have single digits for strength while our other possible striker options are also lacking in that attribute. All the left fullbacks in the squad are among the poorest players in the team and making it so that they would have to defend the flank mainly by themselves is a recipe for disaster in my book. At least with the 4-4-2 the ML can come back more and help defend the flank more consistently.

Reserve Squad

A few talented youngsters in there which can add depth to the first team but no players that can step in and be immediately helpful. 

Under 18s Squad

This simply wont do and I will be signing the entire youth intake to build the squad.

Finances

Making it into the group stage of the Europa Conference League has turned the tables on our woeful financial position. Just goes to show how important success in Europe is for building a club. Unlike with Cliftonville, Linfield has a small £600K loan which matures in 2059 which has £250K remaining to pay at £5.5K per month which is practically nothing. I don't like how close the wage bill is to the wage budget and the lack of transfer funds. I'm hoping the two players which I mentioned earlier can be sold so that I can bolster these budgets and bring in some promising young players to kick start the selling club philosophy.

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Starting Conditions

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I think the top 2 is probably beyond us this season but we are still within striking distance of 3rd which will be the target although I'd be happy as long as we qualify for the Europa Conference League which the board demand.

Career Objectives

By the end of 2054/2055

- Sell at least one of our highest valued players

- Identified young inexpensive talent to add to the squad and have a number of pre-contract agreements in place

- Qualify for the Europa Conference League

By the end of 2055/2056

- Ended the clubs dependence on loans and start building up the bank balance

- Sell the other high valued player and begin the process of buying young high potential talent

- Qualify for the Europa Conference League and reach the group stage of that competition

By the end of 2056/2057

- The bank balance should be starting to grow and investment in the infrastructure of the club should commence

- Continue to bring in young players and keep selling players for profit

- Challenge for 2nd and Champions League qualification and reach group stage of Europa Conference League

By the end of 2057/2058

- Continue to invest in infrastructure

- Continue to bring in young players and keep selling players for profit

- Qualify for the Champions League and reach group stage of Europa Conference League

By the end of 2058/2059

- Continue to invest in infrastructure

- Continue the selling club philosophy

- Challenge for the title and qualify for the Champions League group stage

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An amazing career so far, long may it continue with Linfield. I imagine the difference in player quality is huge. Do you think it will take a bit of getting used to? I struggled to feel any attachment to my Portadown players after leaving Glentoran for about 6 months. We had a PLC takeover collapse after a few messages of what was to potentially to come. Devastated when it fell through. How many clubs do you think you'll have to managed to achieve the goal? You're about to take Linfield to dizzy new heights, in mine they are back in the DBP after a year out of it.

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On 04/06/2020 at 13:20, Stouters said:

An amazing career so far, long may it continue with Linfield. I imagine the difference in player quality is huge. Do you think it will take a bit of getting used to? I struggled to feel any attachment to my Portadown players after leaving Glentoran for about 6 months. We had a PLC takeover collapse after a few messages of what was to potentially to come. Devastated when it fell through. How many clubs do you think you'll have to managed to achieve the goal? You're about to take Linfield to dizzy new heights, in mine they are back in the DBP after a year out of it.

Thanks for the comment.

The difference in player quality is immense, I don't think a single player in the Linfield squad (except maybe Millar DC) could make it into the Glentoran team but hopefully over my reign that will begin to change. Much like you I'm struggling to form an attachment with the players and I'd even go as far as saying that I dislike the squad that I've inherited.

I don't have any quality strikers or a proper defensively minded central midfielder (all of them have PPMs which have them going forward except Glover who is worst of the lot). I sense that my feelings will change once I begin to mould the squad in the way I want but it could take a few seasons for that to happen, at least I have a little money to start the process of transforming the squad although it's going to take a while especially since I haven't been able to sell my highest valued assets to raise funds as yet.

Shame that the takeover collapsed as that would have been handy for you, hopefully, another better offer comes in soon. I'm not sure how many clubs it will take or whether it's even possible but for the foreseeable future I'll be at Linfield.

All the best

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Linfield F.C.

SEASON 2054 / 2055

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Consistently qualifying for Europe is going to be the most important objective in these early years in order to raise the funds for the rebuild needed. I think we are at least guaranteed a top 6 finish so given the number of ways we can achieve our goal I'm fairly confident we'll qualify for Europe.

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League Table - We ended the season in the exact same position as when I joined. Our form was very inconsistent and if I'm bring honest I'm glad to see the back of this season. We didn't score enough goals with our lack of quality upfront costing us. We also had a very leaky defence at times which led to us taking a few heavy defeats which was unpleasant. There is a lot of work to be done if we are to think of challenging Glenavon and Larne for 3rd next season but we are light years behind the top 2.

Elsewhere, Distillery will be joining the DBP next season after winning the Championship title. Dungannon Swifts also managed to get promoted after beating Coleraine 5-3 on aggregate in the relegation playoff. It was a close fight between Knockbreda and Glentoran for the title which was interesting to see although it is a little jarring to think that within the space of a season that the gap could have closed that much. Mind you, Glentoran did sell over £200M worth of talent which probably doesn't help. 

Danske Bank Premier UEFA Europa Conference League Playoff - This was a real struggle but at least we made it as failure would have really put the brakes on our ability to improve the squad. We'll have to navigate 3 qualifying rounds to make it into the group stage but at least we have the opportunity to make some desperately needed money next season.

UEFA Europa Conference League - The European campaign was over before I joined which saw them finish bottom of their group. I'm glad they did make it into the group stage though as that really made a tremendous difference to the bank balance. If there is a reason to be optimistic it might be that this seasons competition was won by Dundalk (their second win of the trophy) which just goes to show that even teams from smaller leagues can have realistic hopes of winning this trophy. Getting to the group stage again next season is going to be tough but would be incredibly helpful.

Domestic Cups - Never came close to winning anything and the defeat in the Irish Cup was brutal. I was disappointed at the time thinking we had blown a good opportunity to get into Europe but thankfully we won the playoffs.

Reserves - Not much of a squad to speak of so their performance wasn't unexpected.

Under 18s - Given that they had no players when I first joined I think a mid table finish is respectable.

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Squad - The lack of depth I highlighted when I first joined really came back to haunt us. I often had to use players out of position which really didn't help us to settle and led to our inconsistency. I managed to address some of the holes in the squad with pre-contract agreements but we are still some way off having what we need to take the club forward.

Transfers - I was happy to get rid of an aging Muratovic ST to lower the wage bill, we still have to contribute some of his wage going forward but he felt he had achieved everything possible at the club so that was a convenient excuse to get him out the door. I then brought in a number of players on pre-contract agreements and triggered the 'Buy Now' clauses to bring them in early. Morel DL, Davidson ST, Mitchell GK, McGowan ST & Harrison DR all being examples of me using that clause. I sold promising youngster Harris ST to Knockbreda for a reasonable fee which helped fund some of the other pre-contract signings which will arrive in the summer. Unfortunately, I was unable to sell any high valued players but hopefully that will change in the summer window when teams have more money to spend.

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Average Rating: 7.06
Our best player but I'd be more than happy to sell him for the right price. In fact, I would really like to sell him but nobody appears to be interested.
 
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Average Rating: 6.97
A player that was a victim of the lack of depth in the squad which had him being played all over the pitch. He won't be here next season and I have a feeling that he is going to prove difficult to replace.
 
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Finances - The bank balance was boosted further with the coefficient and TV money from playing in the Europa Conference League group stage which brings the balance to over £3M. All the money at this point will be invested into bringing in free transfers as I don't feel we are secure enough financially to spend money on buying players.

Facilities - Aside from the youth recruitment and junior coaching everything was left untouched.

Youth Intake - Everybody was signed, it'll be interesting to see if any of these players can make it into the first team.
 
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League Reputation - Keeping position is the name of the game for now.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - We've got a big gap to close to the very best. Next season will see the DBP with only 10 professional sides.
 
Club European Reputation - We are very far from having a decent coefficient and will be in this position for a while. It's going to make qualifying for the group stage of the Europa Conference League difficult. Bizarre to see Distillery with a better coefficient than us.
 
Here is how the other N. Irish teams performed in Europe this season:
 
Glentoran - Knocked out in Champions League 1st Knockout Round by Chelsea 4-2 on aggregate - It was always going to be a long shot for them to retain their title. They did win the first leg 2-1 at home but a collapse in London saw them off.
Glenavon - Finished 4th in Europa League group - A woeful campaign as they finished with 0 points.
Knockbreda - Knocked out in Europa League Quarter Final by Borussia Dortmund on away goals after a 3-3 draw on aggregate - I was really impressed with them in Europe this season. Not only did they make it into the Champions League group stage they finished 3rd and came close to getting 2nd. They then proceeded to dispatch Benfica and PSG on their route to the quarter final which was fantastic.
Ballymena United - Finished 3rd in Europa Conference League group - I think this is the first season in which all the N. Irish participants made it to a group stage which is an incredible sign of progress. Hopefully, it can be repeated again next season as we attempt to reel in Scotland in the coefficient table.
 
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Le 06/06/2020 à 17:37, pheelf a dit :

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Linfield F.C.

SEASON 2054 / 2055

beUaOsj.png

oMkIy2p.png?1

Consistently qualifying for Europe is going to be the most important objective in these early years in order to raise the funds for the rebuild needed. I think we are at least guaranteed a top 6 finish so given the number of ways we can achieve our goal I'm fairly confident we'll qualify for Europe.

beUaOsj.png

ntGkQzQ.png?1

League Table - We ended the season in the exact same position as when I joined. Our form was very inconsistent and if I'm bring honest I'm glad to see the back of this season. We didn't score enough goals with our lack of quality upfront costing us. We also had a very leaky defence at times which led to us taking a few heavy defeats which was unpleasant. There is a lot of work to be done if we are to think of challenging Glenavon and Larne for 3rd next season but we are light years behind the top 2.

Elsewhere, Distillery will be joining the DBP next season after winning the Championship title. Dungannon Swifts also managed to get promoted after beating Coleraine 5-3 on aggregate in the relegation playoff. It was a close fight between Knockbreda and Glentoran for the title which was interesting to see although it is a little jarring to think that within the space of a season that the gap could have closed that much. Mind you, Glentoran did sell over £200M worth of talent which probably doesn't help. 

Danske Bank Premier UEFA Europa Conference League Playoff - This was a real struggle but at least we made it as failure would have really put the brakes on our ability to improve the squad. We'll have to navigate 3 qualifying rounds to make it into the group stage but at least we have the opportunity to make some desperately needed money next season.

UEFA Europa Conference League - The European campaign was over before I joined which saw them finish bottom of their group. I'm glad they did make it into the group stage though as that really made a tremendous difference to the bank balance. If there is a reason to be optimistic it might be that this seasons competition was won by Dundalk (their second win of the trophy) which just goes to show that even teams from smaller leagues can have realistic hopes of winning this trophy. Getting to the group stage again next season is going to be tough but would be incredibly helpful.

Domestic Cups - Never came close to winning anything and the defeat in the Irish Cup was brutal. I was disappointed at the time thinking we had blown a good opportunity to get into Europe but thankfully we won the playoffs.

Reserves - Not much of a squad to speak of so their performance wasn't unexpected.

Under 18s - Given that they had no players when I first joined I think a mid table finish is respectable.

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Squad - The lack of depth I highlighted when I first joined really came back to haunt us. I often had to use players out of position which really didn't help us to settle and led to our inconsistency. I managed to address some of the holes in the squad with pre-contract agreements but we are still some way off having what we need to take the club forward.

Transfers - I was happy to get rid of an aging Muratovic ST to lower the wage bill, we still have to contribute some of his wage going forward but he felt he had achieved everything possible at the club so that was a convenient excuse to get him out the door. I then brought in a number of players on pre-contract agreements and triggered the 'Buy Now' clauses to bring them in early. Morel DL, Davidson ST, Mitchell GK, McGowan ST & Harrison DR all being examples of me using that clause. I sold promising youngster Harris ST to Knockbreda for a reasonable fee which helped fund some of the other pre-contract signings which will arrive in the summer. Unfortunately, I was unable to sell any high valued players but hopefully that will change in the summer window when teams have more money to spend.

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Average Rating: 7.06
Our best player but I'd be more than happy to sell him for the right price. In fact, I would really like to sell him but nobody appears to be interested.
 
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Average Rating: 6.97
A player that was a victim of the lack of depth in the squad which had him being played all over the pitch. He won't be here next season and I have a feeling that he is going to prove difficult to replace.
 
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Finances - The bank balance was boosted further with the coefficient and TV money from playing in the Europa Conference League group stage which brings the balance to over £3M. All the money at this point will be invested into bringing in free transfers as I don't feel we are secure enough financially to spend money on buying players.

Facilities - Aside from the youth recruitment and junior coaching everything was left untouched.

Youth Intake - Everybody was signed, it'll be interesting to see if any of these players can make it into the first team.
 
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League Reputation - Keeping position is the name of the game for now.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - We've got a big gap to close to the very best. Next season will see the DBP with only 10 professional sides.
 
Club European Reputation - We are very far from having a decent coefficient and will be in this position for a while. It's going to make qualifying for the group stage of the Europa Conference League difficult. Bizarre to see Distillery with a better coefficient than us.
 
Here is how the other N. Irish teams performed in Europe this season:
 
Glentoran - Knocked out in Champions League 1st Knockout Round by Chelsea 4-2 on aggregate - It was always going to be a long shot for them to retain their title. They did win the first leg 2-1 at home but a collapse in London saw them off.
Glenavon - Finished 4th in Europa League group - A woeful campaign as they finished with 0 points.
Knockbreda - Knocked out in Europa League Quarter Final by Borussia Dortmund on away goals after a 3-3 draw on aggregate - I was really impressed with them in Europe this season. Not only did they make it into the Champions League group stage they finished 3rd and came close to getting 2nd. They then proceeded to dispatch Benfica and PSG on their route to the quarter final which was fantastic.
Ballymena United - Finished 3rd in Europa Conference League group - I think this is the first season in which all the N. Irish participants made it to a group stage which is an incredible sign of progress. Hopefully, it can be repeated again next season as we attempt to reel in Scotland in the coefficient table.
 
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  Révéler le contenu masqué

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I Pheelf, still using your 442 ?

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7 hours ago, jackripper said:

Brilliant success and an enjoyable read well done, I’m thinking of something similar with my home town Barry town in the welsh league 

Thanks for the comment. A few years ago I had a save with Barry Town which I found enjoyable. I'd imagine that it would be a more difficult save now given that TNS are more likely to get to the group stage of a European competition. Good luck if you decide to give it a go.

Cheers

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5 hours ago, dom.march said:

I Pheelf, still using your 442 ?

Still rolling with the 4-4-2 although I may make a tactical post detailing my 4-1-2-3 Wide system even if I don't end up using it during the save. I don't really know whether it would be any good given that the last game I used it in was FM17 but as it's built upon what I think are solid principles I'd hope it would still work in FM20.

Best Regards

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Posted (edited)

How about this for an end of season title showdown...

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All the top 3 teams can win the title.

If either Glenavon or Glentoran win their game against each other then they win the title regardless of what Knockbreda do against us.

If they draw and Knockbreda win against us they will claim the title.

It's an extraordinary end to the season given that Knockbreda went into the split 7 points clear at the top and Glentoran were 10 points behind at one point during the season.

The outcome will be in the season review.

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il y a une heure, pheelf a dit :

Still rolling with the 4-4-2 although I may make a tactical post detailing my 4-1-2-3 Wide system even if I don't end up using it during the save. I don't really know whether it would be any good given that the last game I used it in was FM17 but as it's built upon what I think are solid principles I'd hope it would still work in FM20.

Best Regards

Many thanks for your answer. do you tweak your tactic during game against attacking or defending opponents ?

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Linfield F.C.

SEASON 2055 / 2056

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I've improved the squad massively with free transfers but I still feel there is a huge gap to the top 3. If we could move up a place and finish 4th that would be great as it would avoid the need to play in the playoff to meet the boards expectation of qualifying for the Europa Conference League. Even if we fail to do that as long as we qualify for Europe through whatever means I'll be satisfied.

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League Table - This was a turbulent season for the club and one I hope never to repeat during my tenure. On more than one occasion my job was under serious threat and at one point my job status had become 'Very Insecure' with the only worse rating being 'Precarious'. I had to meet with the board twice to explain some poor results which was after a hammering by Glentoran and then after a draw with basement dwellers Dungannon. After a particularly poor result against Institute they gave me an ultimatum of having to get 9 points in 5 games, thankfully, I managed to do it but it's scary how close I came to getting the chop. If we are to make any improvements next season we will need to stop dropping needless points against teams we really should be able to beat easily.

As for the title race, well, Knockbreda came flying out of the blocks against us on the final day, putting us under tremendous early pressure. They managed to take the lead early which had me thinking it was going to be a long day. Elsewhere, Glentoran and Glenavon was still 0-0 so they went up to 1st. After the early onslaught from Knockbreda which we was very lucky to survive with the concession of a solitary goal we began to come back into the game. Then devastating news for Knockbreda as Glentoran took a 1st half lead. When Glentoran added a 2nd early in the 2nd half that seemed to demoralize Knockbreda as we launched a brilliant comeback to win the game 2-1 and secure 5th while Glenavon clinched the 2nd Champions League spot at the expense of Knockbreda.

At the other end of the table, Distillery predictably were relegated although they did manage to double the amount of games they won in the post split fixtures. They will be replaced next season with Championship winners Coleraine who sauntered to the title finishing miles ahead of 2nd placed Carrick Rangers. Donegal Celtic impressively managed to bounce right back with a 3-1 aggregate win in the relegation playoff against Dungannon.

Danske Bank Premier UEFA Europa Conference League Playoff - The semi final was a tight game as Crusaders gave us a good battle but ultimately we managed to prevail. The fact that Portadown had to play extra time in their semi final I think gave us an advantage in the final. They hadn't recovered condition well and as a result our victory was much easier especially when we scored early and they had to chase the game with tired legs. For now this will do but I'd like if next season we begin to secure our qualification without having to go through this playoff.

UEFA Europa Conference League - The qualifiers went a lot better than I was expecting and I was really impressed with our good home performances. I felt we drew one of the tougher groups but even still we had hopes of finishing 2nd and getting through if we could beat Besiktas in Turkey on the final matchday. We looked like pulling it off leading 1-0 going into the final 15 minutes of the game but some suicidal defending cost us a goal. We still had time to get the winner but couldn't find the goal to take us through so had to settle for 3rd. Hopefully, if I make it to the group stage again next season I might get a more favourable draw.

Domestic Cups - A whole load of nothing this season with the result against Institute in the Irish Cup being a terrible low point in the season. That was the height of my concern about losing my job as it looked like the players had stopped playing for me but thankfully things improved.

Reserves - A mediocre season from them.

Under 18s - A very impressive improvement from them to clinch the title.

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Squad - We are a lot stronger than we were last season but we are still way off where we need to be if we are to start to close the gap to the top 2. We dropped an awful lot of points to the 'lesser' clubs in the DBP which really hampered us. I think a toxic mix of having players with unfortunate PPMs (like Mullen ST who likes to cut in from the flanks which meant he was often found out wide during the buildup phase when I needed him central) and poor options for some positions like right midfield really blunted the efficacy of our tactic. I've looked to address that by signing up 2 promising looking right wingers on pre-contracts and will look to sell some players which don't really suit the style of play. 

Transfers - No teams was interested in buying our players which is really hampering my efforts to establish the selling club philosophy. For some reason, the club had senior affiliations with Glasgow Rangers and a Serie C club. I'm hoping that by cancelling them other teams might start to look at players and place offers otherwise the whole club building idea is going to grind to a halt without money to invest. I was very happy with the majority of my signings with perhaps the exception of Messaoudi ML who is probably one left midfielder too many in the squad and it would have probably been better to bring in a player for another position.

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Average Rating: 7.30
He is a very good player but is the sort of player that needs to be sold. I was slightly encouraged when I saw Bournemouth take an interest at the end of the season for a transfer but that interest has since disappeared. Selling a player like this for say £10M would make a huge difference in the way I could strengthen the squad but without any potential buyers I'm stuck.
 
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Average Rating: 6.92
He is an acceptable option to have as a left back but I feel we could do a lot better. I really dislike his personality and poor determination as I saw how that negatively influenced his game at times during the season. The only thing he really has going for him is that he will bomb up and down that left flank all game long but is that really enough to take us to the next level, I very much doubt it.
 
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Finances - We're not really building the balance which is troubling. We need to be able to sell players, if we can't then that puts the whole project of building the club into jeopardy. The money earned from Europe and domestically only really keeps us in the same place, to improve we need more sources of income and that means transfers. At least I will have a little bit more on the wage budget as I look to the free transfer market once again for more young stars to develop that have been released by the bigger clubs.

Facilities - There isn't the money to do anything and when I asked to improve the junior coaching it was flat out rejected by the board.

Youth Intake - Everybody was given a contract but aside from McAuley DC, I'm not overly optimistic about any of this crop making it into the first team in the future.
 
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League Reputation - Holding steady but some great news with the coefficient. We have dramatically shrunk the gap to Scotland (we're within 1 point now) and feasibly could overtake them with a decent season from the N. Irish clubs next season. Getting a 3rd Champions League spot would do wonders for the nation and for the first time is closer than ever, I really hope we can do it as that would transform N. Irish football.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - We aren't getting anywhere near Glentoran for now but it's nice to see we are on the up.
 
Club European Reputation - We still have a poor coefficient so hopefully we can dodge having to play any massive teams in the qualifiers like we did this season. An unfortunate draw and we can kiss goodbye to the £2.5M we get from the group stages which would be catastrophic for our finances.
 
Here is how the other N. Irish teams performed in Europe this season:
 
Glentoran - Knocked out in Champions League 1st Knockout Round by Lazio 6-1 on aggregate - Well, if you keep selling your best players and replacing them with inferior quality what do you think is going to happen?
Glenavon - Knocked out in Europa League 2nd Knockout Round by Dundee United 3-1 on aggregate - Looking back now, was that this the result which kept Scotland ahead of us in coefficient? I'm not going to be too harsh on them though, this was a good campaign overall.
Knockbreda - Knocked out in Europa League 2nd Knockout Round by Chelsea 5-0 on aggregate - Didn't make it into the Champions League group stage but finished 2nd behind Dundalk in their Europa League group. A very credible campaign from them also, just a shame the wheels had to come off against the English giants.
Larne - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 4th Qualifying Round by West Ham 7-0 on aggregate - What a nightmarish draw for them. Hopefully, I don't suffer a similar fate next season.
 
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10 minutes ago, dom.march said:

Many thanks for your answer. do you tweak your tactic during game against attacking or defending opponents ?

I do, especially in the more important games.

For e.g. If I notice that my team is being pressed high and hard up the pitch (usually against better quality opposition) I'll give my defenders the PI to play more direct to try and play over their press.

If I see a team playing on a very low mentality against us and I haven't managed to break through them then I'll sometimes lower my mentality. I've found that playing slower can give my players more time to get into better attacking positions which often helps to break defensive teams down.

If I'm desperately looking to cling onto a result I'll put my left back on defend duty. I also appreciate the power of substitutions and I like to have different types of player for each position. For e.g. A technically gifted winger and a quick winger on the bench. That way when I see the opposition fullbacks tiring I can bring on the pacy winger to run at them which often works.

I've also got into the habit of selectively using opposition instructions for some games which for me used to be a sacrilege but I've totally changed my opinion on them and discovered how useful they can be.

If an opposition midfielder / attacker has bravery <10 I'll tackle them hard, if they have poor jumping reach I'll mark them tightly (I've seen that my players can beat them in the air and recover possession more easily doing this). I also like to show fullbacks onto their weaker foot to help prevent quality crosses coming into the box.

As much as tactics are important, I feel that getting the right profile and quality of player is just as important. Currently at Linfield, I don't have that and as a consequence, performances have suffered. Once I've brought in the quality of player I need then the amount of micromanagement tends to go down and I don't need to make as many tweaks if any.

Best Regards

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il y a une heure, pheelf a dit :

I do, especially in the more important games.

For e.g. If I notice that my team is being pressed high and hard up the pitch (usually against better quality opposition) I'll give my defenders the PI to play more direct to try and play over their press.

If I see a team playing on a very low mentality against us and I haven't managed to break through them then I'll sometimes lower my mentality. I've found that playing slower can give my players more time to get into better attacking positions which often helps to break defensive teams down.

If I'm desperately looking to cling onto a result I'll put my left back on defend duty. I also appreciate the power of substitutions and I like to have different types of player for each position. For e.g. A technically gifted winger and a quick winger on the bench. That way when I see the opposition fullbacks tiring I can bring on the pacy winger to run at them which often works.

I've also got into the habit of selectively using opposition instructions for some games which for me used to be a sacrilege but I've totally changed my opinion on them and discovered how useful they can be.

If an opposition midfielder / attacker has bravery <10 I'll tackle them hard, if they have poor jumping reach I'll mark them tightly (I've seen that my players can beat them in the air and recover possession more easily doing this). I also like to show fullbacks onto their weaker foot to help prevent quality crosses coming into the box.

As much as tactics are important, I feel that getting the right profile and quality of player is just as important. Currently at Linfield, I don't have that and as a consequence, performances have suffered. Once I've brought in the quality of player I need then the amount of micromanagement tends to go down and I don't need to make as many tweaks if any.

Best Regards

Thanks,

don't you think against teams parking the bus having a higher line of engagement, higher defensive line and use off side trap and prevent GK distribution ?

also against narow team using 3-4-3 i attack wider.

Against positive team I gegenpress and hit counter if they go offensive

I use OI like you and tackkle hard the lowest 3  bavery players, and look at winger to see what foot do they use to show them on their weaker foot.

to close the game, i put both FB on defense and the R winger on support , go defnesive , play direct and hit counter, and sometines i bnag a goal

truly yours

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16 hours ago, dom.march said:

Thanks,

don't you think against teams parking the bus having a higher line of engagement, higher defensive line and use off side trap and prevent GK distribution ?

also against narrow team using 3-4-3 i attack wider.

Against positive team I gegenpress and hit counter if they go offensive

I use OI like you and tackle hard the lowest 3  bravery players, and look at winger to see what foot do they use to show them on their weaker foot.

to close the game, i put both FB on defense and the R winger on support , go defensive , play direct and hit counter, and sometimes i bang a goal

truly yours

When teams parked the bus against me I used to do something similar to what you suggested and found it to be ineffective (if it works for you then that's great). I found that while it pressurizes the opponent more by engaging with them higher up the pitch it also restricts the space my players have to work with when the ball was recovered.

By compressing the pitch I feel that works into the hands of the defending opposition who want to have to defend as small an area as possible. I've found that having good depth, width, tempo and unpredictability in my attacks is the best way to get past the most stubborn of defences. Playing in N. Ireland I had to develop that strategy given the amount of times in the season I face such opposition.

I also wouldn't want to prevent the goalkeeper from distributing it short if the opposition is parking the bus. I want their defenders spending time on the ball rather than their midfielders or attackers. Defenders overall tend not to be very good technically and it's much more likely they will play a loose pass or miss-control the ball which can lead to us regaining possession.

I feel that to get the best out of my players when they face teams that are parking the bus they need space to express themselves and show their quality. For e.g. I have a pacy right winger, if I compress the pitch so he receives the ball when he is practically in front of the oppositions defensive line his pace can't really be used that effectively in my system. Whereas if he receives the ball deeper his speed becomes an asset which draws the fullback wide and creates the width to open up the channel for my Advanced Forward. Having space also is very beneficial for the Deep Lying Forward who gets a larger pocket to operate in.   

All the best

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Il y a 2 heures, pheelf a dit :

When teams parked the bus against me I used to do something similar to what you suggested and found it to be ineffective (if it works for you then that's great). I found that while it pressurizes the opponent more by engaging with them higher up the pitch it also restricts the space my players have to work with when the ball was recovered.

By compressing the pitch I feel that works into the hands of the defending opposition who want to have to defend as small an area as possible. I've found that having good depth, width, tempo and unpredictability in my attacks is the best way to get past the most stubborn of defences. Playing in N. Ireland I had to develop that strategy given the amount of times in the season I face such opposition.

I also wouldn't want to prevent the goalkeeper from distributing it short if the opposition is parking the bus. I want their defenders spending time on the ball rather than their midfielders or attackers. Defenders overall tend not to be very good technically and it's much more likely they will play a loose pass or miss-control the ball which can lead to us regaining possession.

I feel that to get the best out of my players when they face teams that are parking the bus they need space to express themselves and show their quality. For e.g. I have a pacy right winger, if I compress the pitch so he receives the ball when he is practically in front of the oppositions defensive line his pace can't really be used that effectively in my system. Whereas if he receives the ball deeper his speed becomes an asset which draws the fullback wide and creates the width to open up the channel for my Advanced Forward. Having space also is very beneficial for the Deep Lying Forward who gets a larger pocket to operate in.   

All the best

That mean you ll play like that against defending teams ?

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And what about chasing a goal ?

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47 minutes ago, dom.march said:

That mean you ll play like that against defending teams ?

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And what about chasing a goal ?

I have been known to, on occasion. It's no guarantee that it will work (nothing ever does guarantee success) but I've found it works more often than the other approach of being more aggressive. Every time I've pushed up the defensive line, made the players press higher I haven't seen it result in us being able to break down parked buses more easily. I know it seems counter intuitive (probably because it is...the natural instinct is to want to get in the opponents faces) but I've found that's what has worked for me.

When chasing a goal against a parked bus it will much depend on the time of the game. If it's early and I have time then I wont make any changes to the base tactic. I'll usually make some tactical subs around the 60th minute mark if we are still behind. Then finally around the 70th minute mark if things still haven't turned in our favour I'll drop down the mentality to give us time to make it work. Usually those changes do the trick against the tiring opposition. If they don't then maybe around the 85th minute in desperation I'll put 3 upfront and go onto the attacking mentality. That is seldom necessary and I could probably count on one hand the amount of times in the save I've had to resort to that.

The reality is, I'm usually able to win those sort of games against very defensive opposition long before any of those changes become necessary. During my time with Glentoran I would often be going into half time having already won the game being 4 or 5 nil up with it being a case of how many goals we were going to score rather than thinking about how we are going to break down the opposition. I know that it is an area that a lot of players struggle with as I used to also but I guess through experience I've gotten to the point where I actually welcome teams parking the bus against my teams as I know it's likely an easy win for us.

Cheers

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il y a une heure, pheelf a dit :

I have been known to, on occasion. It's no guarantee that it will work (nothing ever does guarantee success) but I've found it works more often than the other approach of being more aggressive. Every time I've pushed up the defensive line, made the players press higher I haven't seen it result in us being able to break down parked buses more easily. I know it seems counter intuitive (probably because it is...the natural instinct is to want to get in the opponents faces) but I've found that's what has worked for me.

When chasing a goal against a parked bus it will much depend on the time of the game. If it's early and I have time then I wont make any changes to the base tactic. I'll usually make some tactical subs around the 60th minute mark if we are still behind. Then finally around the 70th minute mark if things still haven't turned in our favour I'll drop down the mentality to give us time to make it work. Usually those changes do the trick against the tiring opposition. If they don't then maybe around the 85th minute in desperation I'll put 3 upfront and go onto the attacking mentality. That is seldom necessary and I could probably count on one hand the amount of times in the save I've had to resort to that.

The reality is, I'm usually able to win those sort of games against very defensive opposition long before any of those changes become necessary. During my time with Glentoran I would often be going into half time having already won the game being 4 or 5 nil up with it being a case of how many goals we were going to score rather than thinking about how we are going to break down the opposition. I know that it is an area that a lot of players struggle with as I used to also but I guess through experience I've gotten to the point where I actually welcome teams parking the bus against my teams as I know it's likely an easy win for us.

Cheers

many thanks, i ll try your way

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Linfield F.C.

SEASON 2056 / 2057

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I came very close to getting the sack numerous times last season. Hopefully, this season I can avoid such a tumultuous season and start to make headway up the table. Getting to the group stage of the Europa Conference League is going to be vitally important for the finances of the club along with qualifying for next seasons competition through the league which the board demand.

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League Table - I went into the season with an optimistic mood given the improvements that were made to the squad. I hoped it would be enough to see us challenging for 2nd, what we got instead was one of the worst seasons I've had of my entire career. We started the season appallingly and after our first 11 games we were rock bottom of the table with my job status once again being under serious threat. During that run of games was a 7-0 mauling by Glentoran and for the first time in my career I was sure that I was going to get fired. Every game saw the media claiming it would be my last with a poor result which was really concerning. Thankfully, we had a much better 2nd round of games which saw us rise into mid table and an even better 3rd round of games which enabled us to clinch a top half spot. We managed to chase down and overtake Cliftonville to take 5th which in the greater scheme of things wasn't too bad of an outcome given how poor we were early in the season.

After such a season, you would think that I wouldn't be looking forward to next season but I'm actually rather enthused. Even with all the despair, there were some encouraging signs to look at. Once all the new players had settled in, our performances greatly improved and now that they have a season under their belt I think they will continue to develop which should push us up the table next season. Our results toward the end of the season were also very good. We were much more competitive against the top teams in the country when earlier in the season they would have beaten us easily. As this season progressed, I also detected an increased comfort in the way we started to beat teams lower in the table and around us which is a very good sign for the future. I'm optimistic of a top 3 finish next season and might even be able to mount a title challenge if we can strengthen in the right areas in the summer. I've looked into the abyss and learnt an awful lot about the character of my players, hopefully, this is the turning point which marks the start of something special.

Elsewhere in the DBP, Cliftonville won the Europa Conference League Playoff final with a 3-0 victory over Larne. We didn't participate in the playoff this season which I'll explain later. Coleraine managed to stay up comfortably with a 7-3 aggregate win over Warrenpoint Town in the relegation playoff. Distillery couldn't bounce straight back after relegation but it was pleasing to see Donegal Celtic survive to fight another season in the top flight.

UEFA Europa Conference League - If I were to try and make excuses for why we had such a bad start to the DBP season then this would probably be it. When you don't have the depth of squad, having to manage a Thurs-Sat schedule becomes very difficult. It sets up a scenario of having to choose which fixture you are going to play your strongest 11 in. The problem being when your backup 11 isn't good enough to win games in either the league or in Europe. The amount of points I dropped after playing in Europe in mid-week was scandalous but at least as the season wore on that began to change. Seeing that I was at risk of losing my job I scrapped the rotation policy and began to play my strongest 11 in Europe and on the following weekend in the DBP. It meant that my players were more tired but it really helped to improve our domestic form.

I wanted to put our full efforts into this competition in an attempt to make the group stage and not only did we do that we did so much more and had a sensational campaign. It could have all went so differently had we not been able to recover against Odd but we did and that seemed to spark us into life to the point that I actually found it a lot easier than I was anticipating. The group stage was fantastic as we went unbeaten and scored plenty of goals. When we drew Newtown in the 2nd Knockout Round I was thrilled as we strolled past them with ease. Bizarrely, they played their European games in a ground with over 60,000 seats which I thought was strange as the largest stadium in Wales is the Millennium Stadium. When I looked into it further I discovered that the stadium belongs to 2nd division Welsh side Llanrhaeadr. Where did they get the money from to build such a massive ground (built in 2054) and why would they build such a ground? I was almost half tempted to go and try and build them up given they have the infrastructure to become a real giant. I won't do that but I will definitely be monitoring their progress in future, this season they narrowly missed out on getting promoted to the Welsh Premier finishing 2nd in the 2nd division.

Hannover 96 were a step too far for us but I was delighted to see us hold them in Germany. Hopefully, next season we can have more of the same.

Domestic Cups - A really good season in the cups as I claim the first silverware of my tenure. I was especially pleased to win the Irish Cup and claim a spot in the Europa League. That guarantees group stage football for next season and removed the need for us to participate in the playoffs. I'm really excited by our performance in the Irish Cup final and the ease with which we dispatched Knockbreda, if we can emulate that next season in the league we are going to have a great campaign.

Reserves - Came so close to winning a cup but the performance in the Intermediate Cup final was atrocious. Steady improvement which is nice to see.

Under 18s - They did exceptionally well to retain their title, more encouraging signs for the future.

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Squad - There is no doubt that the quality of players in the squad has greatly improved. I'm also encouraged by the market values of some of the players which if sold would generate the club huge profits which could then be re-invested into the squad creating a virtuous circle. Having said that, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to have a squad which is strong enough to compete for the DBP while simultaneously doing well in Europe. We desperately need a quality goalkeeper in between the sticks. We lost a lot of unnecessary goals due to poor distribution from the goalkeeper. I've already got my eye on some options available on a free transfer which fit the bill and I'll be looking to do some business in the summer to bring someone in.

Although Lafont DL has developed exceptionally well I'm not entirely convinced he offers enough in the final third of the pitch. I think we still need another attacking left back so I'm on the lookout for one of those also. I don't think it would harm us to strengthen the spine either and have more options. While not a necessity, a central defender and central midfielder would be useful to add some much needed depth to the squad. I think for now the aim has to be to continue the process of bringing in players on pre-contract agreements. Once we start selling players for large sums then I can begin to think about buying players but for now we need to stick to the program. 

Transfers - It appears that the 'selling club' philosophy has started to bear fruit as we generate our first multi million pound profit from the sale of Polemarchakis DC. I also sold Baldwin DC who was aging and unlikely to feature so when Ballymena United came in for him I was happy to sell. McGowan AMC (I played him as a ML or ST) was never really a good fit so I decided to sell him also. I brought in two quality right wingers in Hadergjonaj and McCartney who performed impressively this season although sometimes I felt Hadergjonaj was slightly selfish in the way he played. He did contribute massively but if he was a little more selfless he could have provided a lot more assists.

Dertwinkel MC looks promising and played a fair few games while Dunst ST has been nothing short of a revelation. He still has a lot of room for further development and I'll be excited to see how this seasons top scorer fares next time. Ruden DC was a signing done for the future and he is in the Reserves squad with the fee shown much like with the others brought in being the buy now clause being triggered. Schoch DC looks okay although I'm not entirely convinced he is good enough to be the replacement for Polemarchakis and instead I see him as adding depth to the central defence. Nelson ST in an exciting young prospect who I hope to give more game time to next season as I look to re-introduce the rotation policy.

Of all the signings, I think I'm most excited about Moore ST who looks an exceptional young striker who looks to have everything to become a prolific goalscorer. If he and Dunst and strike up a good partnership next season I don't expect to see us struggling for goals. Serritella GK was an attempt to bring in a quality goalkeeper but I don't think he is the long term answer as even after his arrival I still felt more comfortable with Beresford in goal which tells me I need to bring in someone better. Finally, I brought in Jose DR who looks decent and perhaps with more first team opportunities will start to shine.

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Average Rating: 7.45
Much like the rest of the team he had a poor start to the season but once he got going he was immense. The Guinea international has established himself as my first choice which is rather surprising as I expected that Coulibaly would have been when they first joined but he has certainly proved me wrong. He could definitely do a good job at a bigger club but it's going to take a very good offer for me to sell and I'd quite like him to continue his development here so that when it comes time for him to leave the fee is even bigger.
 
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Average Rating: 7.28
For a player that hasn't got good finishing he really scored a lot of goals and his overall contribution was impressive. He is a player that I think could really propel this club to new heights and net the club a huge amount of money when he decides it's time to head for a bigger club.
 
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Finances - The balance isn't really soaring up but I'm comfortable with this for now. The wage and transfer budget affords me some latitude to bring in some quality players on the free transfer market and given the way how the market values of the players have risen, I'm confident that even one sale could massively increase the balance. There are signs that the selling club philosophy is starting to take effect and I think once our first >£10M sale occurs the floodgates will open and we will be able to generate some serious profit for the club which can start to be invested into infrastructure. The run in Europe definitely helped and I sense we would be in a far worse situation had we failed in the qualifiers. If we can manage a similar run in Europe next season it will not only help us financially with prize money but allow the club to showcase our players on a bigger stage which should feedback in higher market values and potentially generate the club money through sales in future.

Facilities - We're not quite at the point yet where I can loosen the purse strings and begin to invest in the infrastructure of the club but that time is approaching. If we can make improvements on the pitch and start to generate good money from player sales then within the next couple of seasons we will definitely be in the position to start improving the facilities.

Youth Intake - I don't think this intake was very fruitful but I signed everyone anyway.
 
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League Reputation - Not only did we improve a place in the reputation ranking but this was accompanied by the following message.
 
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This is incredible news and is why I'm targeting at least a 3rd placed finish in the DBP next season. Imagine what it will do for N. Irish football to have 3 teams in the Champions League group stages. That will not only provide a huge amount of income for the clubs competing it will also allow us to hold onto our position more easily. I'm glad this happened at this point as I feel we are best positioned to be that 3rd team while not depriving Knockbreda or Glentoran of a place. This could be the inflection point in the story of the nation where the top 3 start to draw away from the rest and I want to be in that top 3.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - Our relative reputation dipped slightly which isn't great but no matter we will have plenty of opportunity to build it up next season in Europe.
 
Club European Reputation - Our coefficient improved dramatically which hopefully will mean an easier draw for us in the Europa League playoff. I'm a bit surprised to see us above Arsenal in the table given that they actually went on to win the Europa Conference League this season but to be fair they haven't been in European competition for quite a few years.
 
Here is how the other N. Irish teams performed in Europe this season:
 
Glentoran - Knocked out in Champions League 1st Knockout Round by Real Madrid 4-3 on aggregate - They are consistently making it to this stage but seem to have hit a wall when it comes to going any further. Mind you, they gave the Spanish giants far more of a challenge than they gave Lazio last season.
Glenavon - Knocked out in Europa League 1st Knockout Round by Juventus 2-0 on aggregate - A tough draw no doubt, it'll be interesting to see how they fare in the Europa Conference League as they have been fairly consistent in Europe.
Knockbreda - Knocked out in Europa Conference League Quarter Final by Arsenal 2-0 on aggregate - A really rotten draw for them but they gave it a good go.
Ballymena United - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 4th Qualifying Round by Arsenal 4-1 on aggregate - Having to face English opposition at that stage is really difficult.
 
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Spoiler

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Edited by pheelf
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Loving this thread, always been a big fan of the northern irish leagues on fm. Im a season in with cliftonville but am tempted to start with portadown/glentoran

Edited by pezza96
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On 09/06/2020 at 15:45, pheelf said:

For some reason, the club had senior affiliations with Glasgow Rangers

Were you able to cancel this? I'm managing Linfield currently in the late 2030's and the option to cancel is still greyed out, presumably as it is a 'Long Term Arrangement'. As I'm just about the same rep as them these days I get very little benefit from the friendly they are obliged to have with me every season.

There are religious reasons this affiliation in reality and I had just assumed it was hard-coded into the game and couldn't be removed.

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On 14/06/2020 at 21:02, pezza96 said:

Loving this thread, always been a big fan of the northern irish leagues on fm. Im a season in with cliftonville but am tempted to start with portadown/glentoran

Thanks, I really enjoy the N.Irish leagues too in FM. I find that the challenge tends to be sustained when you don't have as much money to work with which keeps it fresh and adds longevity.

Good luck with Cliftonville (or Portadown/Glentoran if you decide to move).

16 hours ago, BML said:

Were you able to cancel this? I'm managing Linfield currently in the late 2030's and the option to cancel is still greyed out, presumably as it is a 'Long Term Arrangement'. As I'm just about the same rep as them these days I get very little benefit from the friendly they are obliged to have with me every season.

There are religious reasons this affiliation in reality and I had just assumed it was hard-coded into the game and couldn't be removed.

I felt it was hardcoded too as I was unable to cancel it in previous FMs (greyed out as you stated) even when I was far more reputable than Rangers. When I went to cancel the affiliation with the Serie C/C side (I think it was with Cosenza who interestingly haven't played in Serie A during the whole save) the Rangers affiliation got cancelled automatically without me having to do anything.

Thinking about it perhaps they should introduce a new type of affiliation into the game, one where neither club is the senior or junior partner if the reason behind the affiliation isn't football based. It's of course a special circumstance given that Linfield is never likely to ever be a more reputable club than Rangers but as that is a possibility in FM, they need to have a way of dealing with this in game. It's ridiculous that you can end up with the scenario of having the most reputable club in the world and still be a junior affiliate to a club.

All the best

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  • pheelf changed the title to [FM20] Creating a Northern Irish footballing revolution

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