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[FM20] Creating a Northern Irish footballing revolution


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Thanks for getting back to me, I agree with your suggestion of a new type of affiliation - it would certainly make sense in this situation.

It being removed with the other Senior affiliate is interesting, although I fear I'm too big to request one now to test it out in my save.

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Linfield F.C.

SEASON 2057 / 2058

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I honestly expected to have made a bit more progress by this point but I feel that things are on the up. The squad is stronger than ever before and I'm optimistic that we should be able to finish in the top 3 and claim one of the leagues 3 Champions League qualification spots. I'm also hopeful that with a decent draw we might be able to get into the Europa League group stages which should provide a decent boost to our finances.

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League Table - That is really quite an impressive improvement as we were in the title race for the majority of the season. We would have won the title had it not been for the amount of draws, we drew the most games in the league which was an unwelcome statistic. Next season, if we can convert some of those draws into wins I think we will stand a good chance of claiming our first DBP title since the start of the save. With the addition of a 3rd Champions League qualification spot, the Europa Conference League playoff wasn't played and now a top 6 spot guarantees qualification for Europe unless a team from lower in the table wins the Irish Cup. Donegal Celtic managed to survive another season with a 4-2 aggregate win over Distillery in the relegation playoff while Institute will be joining the DBP next season after winning the Championship title.

UEFA Europa League - A great adventure for the team as we had a superb campaign. It didn't start too well in the playoff but a solid 2nd leg booked us a place in the group stage. I'll concede that we didn't draw the toughest group but we went on a rampage in the group stage going unbeaten and easily topping our group. This booked us a knockout game against Norwich which was probably one of the toughest we could have got. Our chances weren't helped with the loss of Guirassy ML to injury for the tie but after our first leg draw, I was feeling optimistic that we might be able to get through.

When we started the 2nd leg well and created a lot of good chances to score against them I was feeling even more hopeful of our chances of progression. We did manage to score but I felt had we been more clinical and got a couple more goals that we might have been able to secure our passage through. Only getting the one goal left the door open for Norwich which they walked through with the equalizer in the 63rd minute. Seeing the game deep in stoppage time and having started to contemplate extra time I was then dismayed when what can only be described as a total shambles by our defence gifted them a late winner from a corner, breaking our hearts. 

There is no shame in the defeat however as not only did Norwich go on to win the competition this season they also won the Premier League and World Club Cup. How the tables have turned in the Premier League as the top 2 this season was Norwich followed by Watford who were miles ahead of the rest. Hopefully, this will be one of the last times I compete in the group stage of this competition as I set my sights on the Champions League next season.

Domestic Cups - Last season was great in the cups as we lifted the Irish Cup, this season was rubbish as we lifted nothing.

Reserves - Another case of close but no cigar in the Intermediate Cup but not all that great in the league.

Under 18s - They romped away to the title which was pleasing, it'll be interesting to see how they fare in the UEFA Youth League next season.

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Squad - I think we have a team which should be capable of challenging for the DBP next season but will need better quality and depth. That will be necessary to give as strong a showing as possible both domestically and in Europe. As I highlighted earlier, we drew way too many games in the league which I think was a result of us not having strong enough options outside our first eleven when rotating the squad. I'm optimistic that this team still has a lot of growth within it and hopefully playing at the highest possible levels next season will start to see the sort of development among our players to take us to the next level.

Transfers - The selling club philosophy has really started to kick into gear now and it would have been even better had Guirassy accepted a contract offer from a German team in January to transfer for £26.5M. That would have meant that we could have splashed the cash next season in trying to strengthen the squad but he didn't fancy it so stayed with us. I brought in 2 goalkeepers on pre-contract agreements at the start of the summer window. Cetin looks decent while I decided to loan out Jurgensen on January deadline day given he was hardly playing and needed game time. My next move was the biggest transfer of the season as I decided to sell Lafont DL to Spurs for a record fee for the club. I'm fairly satisfied with the deal, maybe we could have gotten a little bit more but it gave us a good boost to our budgets which allowed me to go on a bit of shopping spree.

Jenkinson DL came the other way and I feel with some development can become a solid fullback for us, he provided a good amount of assists and I'm looking forward to seeing what he can offer us next season. Next up, we went to the other side of north London and brought in Clarke MC who looks decent but as I was unable to offer him enough game time went on loan to Glenavon in January. Continuing our tour of London we then went south and brought Guthrie DC from Chelsea who looks an excellent signing. We spent a bit of money on him but he looks to have a great future ahead of him. Spencer added depth to the reserves and was promptly loaned out to Portadown. Demir MC wasn't playing enough and was complaining so I decided to sell him once the January transfer window opened. I had better options available so he wasn't really missed. I then fell victim to the dreaded release clause as Ipswich triggered Hadergjonaj's MR clause. I tried to offer a new contract which he agreed in principle to but opted to move to Ipswich instead of signing it. The fee was okay although I felt we should have got more for him.

Fassbender DC was brought in to add depth to the central defence, a similar story with Hemmings DR for the right back position and Szecsi DL who looks a decent option to compete with Jenkinson for the left back spot. Grilc MR was the best I could get as a replacement for Hadergjonaj who was actually decent for the 2nd half of the season. Finally, I brought in Cumming MC who was expensive but looks another good option in the central midfield to compete with Smith and Taylor for game time next season. I also let Kips and Mitic go out on loan in the January transfer window and will probably look to move them on permanently next season as they look completely out of place given the improvement of the squad. I will be raiding the free transfer market again next season as I look to add more depth to the squad.

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Average Rating: 7.54
It was a real shame he missed the Norwich games, had he been playing it might have given us that little bit extra to get us through to the quarter final. He showed good loyalty to the club which is to be applauded but one could argue that it was quite a selfish move from him in some respects. That money would have been a huge deal for the club and really set us up to start improving the infrastructure and playing squad but it wasn't to be.
 
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Average Rating: 7.45
Our top scorer by a country mile who had a great season. The vultures are circling with him and I'd be willing to sell but it's going to take a big offer as replacing his quality is going to be difficult.
 
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Finances - We're still not where I want us to be but next season should hopefully see the balance rise significantly. The Champions League money and some player sales should boost us and give us the platform to really start developing the club.

Facilities - I really wish that what happened with Llanrhaeadr could happen to us as it is completely wasted on them. A 67,518 all seater stadium with top corporate facilities out of nowhere would really go down a treat right about now. Incidentally, they didn't have a tycoon takeover at any point, they didn't inherit a stadium used to host an international competition so I'm still totally baffled as to why they have that ground. The only thing that I see is that they were constantly moving back and forth between a stadium called the Recreation Ground with a capacity of 1,000 and another ground called the Recreation Ground (Treflan) with a capacity of 2,000 until 2054 when they built that enormous ground. They got promoted to the Welsh Premier this season and turned professional, let's see if they can stay up this time. As for us, well I still don't feel comfortable enough financially to start investing in the facilities although I expect that to change next season.

Youth Intake - McGrath GK looks to have a bit of potential which is promising as I always like to have HG goalkeepers for European squad registration. Outside of that I don't see any other good prospects but they will all get their chance to impress regardless as I signed them all.
 
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League Reputation - The gap to the top 5 is huge but I'm glad to see that we have established a good coefficient gap over Scotland with good performances from the N. Irish teams in Europe.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - I'm surprised to see us so low down but maybe the Champions League will see us rise above the likes of Larne and Ballymena United.
 
Club European Reputation - Almost into the top 50 which is great, steady as she goes.
 
Here is how the other N. Irish teams performed in Europe this season:
 
Glentoran - Knocked out in Champions League 1st Knockout Round by RB Leipzig 7-2 on aggregate - They have hit a wall and just can't seem to overcome it. This was an especially painful defeat for them.
Glenavon - Runners Up in Europa Conference League losing to Rennes 1-0 in the final - Absolutely brilliant from them to go so far and largely the reason why the nation has been able to establish such a comfortable lead over Scotland in the coefficient table in such a short space of time.
Knockbreda - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 2nd Knockout Round by Sporting Lisbon 3-2 on aggregate - We were able to beat their Portuguese opponents but unfortunately they weren't.
Cliftonville - Finished 3rd in Europa Conference League group - A really impressive campaign from them considering they had to navigate 3 rounds of qualification to make it to the group stage.
 
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Edited by pheelf
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I had a look at Llanrhaeadr on my save and they are as obscure as you would expect. Maybe yours is a freak one-off. I'm about to finish 1st above Glentoran for the first time after leaving them 3 1/2 yrs ago. Very jealous of the countries performance in Europe for you. In mine, wild horses couldn't drag them into the next round

 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

So, with the sale on FM20 I decided to make the upgrade.

I want to carry on from my save on FM17, but have gone with a slightly easier start by starting with Larne. However I’m not even finished pre season and already there are talks of a takeover! Is that normal? 
 

Im loving getting to know the new screens and how things work, any tips are muchly welcome.. 

Looking forward to your next update..

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On 23/06/2020 at 17:51, Stouters said:

I had a look at Llanrhaeadr on my save and they are as obscure as you would expect. Maybe yours is a freak one-off. I'm about to finish 1st above Glentoran for the first time after leaving them 3 1/2 yrs ago. Very jealous of the countries performance in Europe for you. In mine, wild horses couldn't drag them into the next round

What happened with Llanrhaeadr does seem like a bug to be honest. Congrats on overhauling your old team. I'm not really sure why the teams in my save are performing better in Europe although the current season was a lot poorer than last overall. I'm probably at the limit of how far I'm going to be able to push it, the gap to the top 5 leagues is huge.

5 hours ago, HelplessSpectator said:

So, with the sale on FM20 I decided to make the upgrade.

I want to carry on from my save on FM17, but have gone with a slightly easier start by starting with Larne. However I’m not even finished pre season and already there are talks of a takeover! Is that normal? 
Im loving getting to know the new screens and how things work, any tips are muchly welcome.. 

Looking forward to your next update..

Good luck with Larne. I'm not sure why you have talks of a takeover happening, in my save Kenny Bruce stayed there for years before leaving. Hopefully, it's just a bug as I always seem to have rumours of a takeover but when I look at the board confidence screen it says that the board have no intention of leaving. The club vision must be tough, I'd imagine there will be a lot of pressure for you to be successful quickly given the tycoon backing. The best piece of advice I can give is to have a plan for how you are going to break down parked buses as you will be facing a lot of them once you start to be successful.

Cheers

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Linfield F.C.

SEASON 2058 / 2059

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Last season, we managed to close the gap to Glentoran quite significantly. Glentoran are still favourites to win the league this season but I see no season why we can't mount a title challenge. I would hope that we at least secure 2nd and get into the Champions League group stage again. As for our maiden adventure in the Champions League group stage, I think our fate will be determined by who we draw. A difficult group will probably see us scrapping for 3rd.

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League Table - It seems as if Glentoran have adopted the bad habits we had last season. They drew way too many games which gave us the opportunity to keep pace with them. Had they converted half of those draws to wins they would have won the title easily. Their post split form was especially bad which basically handed us the title with a game to spare. I'm thankful for that otherwise we would have had to face a tense title showdown away to the them on the final day. I'm delighted to have brought home the DBP to Linfield for the first time in the save and I hope that I can start consistently winning it in future although I feel Glentoran will come back stronger next season. Curiously, this was the second season in a row in which the team which won the title didn't have the least amount of losses in the league. Donegal Celtic stayed up again thanks to a 4-1 aggregate win over Newington in the relegation playoff which is a remarkable feat considering they are still operating as a part time club. Dungannon Swifts will once again join the DBP after prevailing in a close title battle in the Championship.

UEFA Champions League - I came into it with no great expectations and when we drew what appeared to be a tough group featuring the defending champions, my ambitions were reduced to trying to get 3rd. Well, we didn't even manage that although we did manage to get a couple of draws which was pleasing. I guess the most disappointing thing about our campaign was that we lost half of the games 1-0, had we been slightly better in an attacking sense we might just have scored a few more points and nicked 3rd but overall, an encouraging start to life in the group stages. We were never outclassed (except the visit to Paris) and showed that we can compete with the best that Europe has to offer. If we can add a bit of quality to the squad again next season I think we might just be able to fight for qualification to the knockout stages.

Domestic Cups - An excellent season in the cups as we brought home the League Cup and won the Scottish Challenge Cup for the first time. It could have been a remarkable clean sweep but Knockbreda ended those hopes in both the other finals we reached. We seem to be decent at penalty shootouts as we won 5/6 we competed in which is always a good habit to have, it shows that we have a lot of mental toughness to withstand the pressure which I hope we can harness in future.

Reserves - A fairly mediocre campaign from the backup players as they once again fail at the final hurdle in the Intermediate Cup making it 3 years in a row.

Under 18s - They did quite well in their debut season in the UEFA Youth League. It wasn't quite enough to see them into the top 2 but 3 wins is a good start when compared with my previous clubs where it was one hammering after another in the early years.

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Squad - We have good depth and quality within the team which I'm pleased about. I'm confident that with this bunch of players we should be capable of competing at the top in N. Ireland. The problem is that I don't see the squad as being strong enough to have us progressing in Europe. There are a few signs which indicate that reality to me. We were often dominated in Europe and created few opportunities to score goals. I think that was a consequence of not being able to control the central areas very well. Our central midfielders while good aren't elite so we struggled to hold onto the ball in midfield. That will need to be addressed in the transfer market next season.

Another sign was that not a single striker broke the 30 goal barrier this season. In Europe, you need to have clinical strikers which can score with fewer opportunities presented to them, we didn't really have that ingredient. Finally, it appears that a lot of the players have peaked and there isn't a single wonderkid within the squad. That indicates to me that with the exception of a few (the likes of Hemmings DR, Jenkinson DL, Murphy ML, Nelson ST & Radovanovic ST who still have some untapped potential) the squad isn't going to develop and get much stronger. I have been able to assemble this squad mainly through free transfers and triggering the 'buy now' clauses but now I feel that we have pretty much exhausted those methods. To get to the next level that we're aspiring to we need to start looking for wonderkids which very rarely if ever become available on a free transfer (although I'll continue to look just in case). That means we are going to have to spend a bit of money. I'm hoping that some teams will start to follow up on their interest in some of our most valuable players and to use the funds we bring in to sign some quality young players especially in positions where we are starting to look weaker.

Transfers - A very busy pair of transfer windows but a very satisfactory pair of windows also. We started off by bringing in Forte DR on a free transfer which looks an okay deal as he featured regularly this season and did well (except in Europe where he was error prone) but maybe I'm overpaying him on wages for his ability. If a team came in with a decent offer for him I would be happy to cash in. On the opening day of the summer window I also signed Murphy ML who looks a brilliant acquisition and looked excellent when brought into the side. He also delivered at a vital time for the team when Guirassy got injured for the run in. Derber, Panichi, Brooks and Nugent were all brought in to add depth to reserves squad and I wouldn't expect to see any of them in the first team anytime soon.

I then sold Zbidat DR to Dundalk, in retrospect, perhaps that wasn't the best move as he was a HG player but I didn't really need so many right backs in the squad, as he was too good to be put into the reserves I accepted their price and moved him on. Then I brought in Mosquera MC without a work permit, I managed to loan him out to Germany a week later and was pleasantly surprised that in January he managed to get his work permit granted. I'm not entirely convinced he is the sort of player that is going to take us to the next level and would be happy if one of the interested team makes a bid. I then brought in Radovanovic ST for a relatively big fee who if I'm honest about I was expecting more from. I hoped he might have been able to develop a lot more than he has and become my first choice Deep Lying Forward but he hasn't been all that great which meant that I was more comfortable to play the more consistent Dunst more often.

I then sold Morel DR which was surplus to requirements and loaned out a load of backup players. I had secured the signature of Santos MC for £1.5M only for the deal to be cancelled stating I didn't have enough funds. As he looked a good player and I was practically out of time on August deadline day I decided to break my rule and bring him in on loan until the end of the season in the hope that I could wrap up his signing in the January window which I managed to do. I feel he is good enough to be one part of a strong central midfield pair for now but needs a quality partner to play alongside him to bring out the best in him. Finally, I decided to sell Schoch DC in the January transfer window who was only a bit part player. To satisfy a lot of players frustrated with a lack of game time I also loaned out a few players in January to maintain squad harmony.

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Average Rating: 7.53
He is a quality player for sure and I'm glad to see him have decent competition for the first time in Murphy ML. Whether he can be on the journey to help us to take strides in Europe is another question however. There was a clear precipitous drop off in his average rating when he played in the Champions League as he played in 5/6 of the games and ended with no goals or assists which isn't great for one of our set piece takers. I'm hoping that the drop off is a result of a lack of quality around him rather than being indicative of him not being capable of performing well at a higher standard of play.
 
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Average Rating: 7.25
A very promising prospect, I hope that he can continue developing and it'll be interesting to see how far he can go. I am aware of the fact that in certain key attributes I expect from my attacking fullback he is quite lacking. Even if he was to put on another 2 or 3 points on some of those attributes he still wouldn't be great at that particular facet of the game. I'm happy to persist with him for now alongside Szecsi DL who will return from loan for next season but I sense the coming season could be a make or break season for him. If he doesn't develop a lot then I think he isn't going to be what we need to take us to the next level and will need to be moved on.
 
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Finances - We're comfortable and for as long as we keep qualifying for the Champions League group stage that will remain to be the case. As a result, I think we can loosen the purse strings a bit and start investing in the squad and the infrastructure of the club. The wage bill is still relatively low compared to the budget which is also helpful as it will allow me to offer higher wages to potential signings which I'm hoping might persuade some of them to join.

Facilities - The first upgrades to the facilities have started which is great but I know there is a long way to go before they will be of a standard which would be considered decent for a team competing in the Champions League. I did ask for a stadium expansion too but it's always going to be hard to convince the board to do that when you actually have falling average attendances. Hopefully, our success this season will reverse that trend and we can start to see growth in the size of the fan base and the subsequent increase in ticket and merchandise sales.

Youth Intake - I signed the lot but they aren't very good to be honest. Star deflation may be playing a part with the increasing quality of the first team but even still looking at these players attributes indicate that even after development they won't be anywhere near the standard we need going forwards.
 
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League Reputation - We need to keep ticking over and maintain our position. Worryingly, the gap in the coefficient table between us and the nations above rose while it shrunk dramatically to Scotland below us. Our teams really need to put in a much better performance next season otherwise our 3rd Champions League spot could be in real danger.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - Nice to see the rise as that will help to attract players but can't see us getting anywhere near Glentoran until we have won the Champions League which looks a long way off at the moment.
 
Club European Reputation - Into the top 50, just, which is good to see. Also pleasing to see another N. Irish club in the upper reaches of the table in Glenavon.
 
Here is how the other N. Irish teams performed in Europe this season:
 
Glentoran - Knocked out in Champions League 1st Knockout Round by FC Porto 2-1 on aggregate - When they drew Porto I thought they might have been able to get through but a poor 2-0 loss in the first leg gave them a mountain to climb which they couldn't manage. I'm really getting frustrated with them now, their decline in Europe has been painful to watch.
Glenavon - Knocked out in Europa League 1st Knockout Round by Schalke 04 5-1 on aggregate - That's some come down after a miraculous campaign last season. They had a really poor season overall, hopefully, next season they can recapture some of their form and improve.
Knockbreda - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 2nd Knockout Round by Manchester United 4-2 on aggregate - What kind of a draw was that? They gave them a decent fight but that was ridiculously tough.
Cliftonville - Knocked out in Europe Conference League 4th Qualifying Round by Manchester United 6-0 on aggregate - The hardest team they could have drawn at that stage. Are these draws being rigged?
Crusaders - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 2nd Qualifying Round by TSC 3-2 on aggregate - That was really poor from them to lose to their Serbian opponents. That pretty much caps off a woeful season for the N. Irish clubs in Europe.
 
Llanrhaeadr watch - Well, they got relegated out of the Welsh Premier, finishing rock bottom by a clear margin which wasn't great for them. They did at least manage to get to the Welsh Cup final which was a nice day out for the fans even if it did end in a comfortable 3-0 defeat for them to Bala Town. They are staying loyal to their manager which is good as he has ruled the roost for the last 6 seasons but I feel they really need a manager that can stabilize them in the top flight to stop this yo-yo-ing they have been doing for the last few years. Playing in such a massive stadium in the Welsh 2nd Division is kind of silly. I really would like to sign an affiliation with them but I think that might be difficult to establish at this point.
 
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Another good ‘building’ season, I reckon this next one will be a step forward. 
 

Out of interest wondered what the other teams mangers are like? Any big names coming across to manage other teams or ex ‘current’ players becoming managers? 
 

KUTGW 

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  • 2 weeks later...

As someone who is doing a save with the same objectives, could you show your national club coefficients? I've got the league up to 12th in 2040/41, but lately i've been hogging the national club coeffievient and qualification places.

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On 14/07/2020 at 09:55, HelplessSpectator said:

Another good ‘building’ season, I reckon this next one will be a step forward. 
Out of interest wondered what the other teams mangers are like? Any big names coming across to manage other teams or ex ‘current’ players becoming managers? 
KUTGW 

Things are definitely on the upswing which is good to see. Winning the DBP was the first domino to fall, now comes the next stage which is making progress in the Champions League.

As for the other managers in the league, nothing really to note there in terms of top names or former players. Still very much a mix of managers who have had moderate success in the lower leagues of England and use the DBP to showcase their talents in the hope of landing a bigger job. The turnover in managers is quite high as a result, the Glentoran manager got the boot at the end of the season I'm about to report on along with the Cliftonville, Ballymena United and Larne managers. It's become very cutthroat all of a sudden :lol: 

Thanks

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On 24/07/2020 at 11:31, Stouters said:

As someone who is doing a save with the same objectives, could you show your national club coefficients? I've got the league up to 12th in 2040/41, but lately I've been hogging the national club coefficient and qualification places.

Sure, here are the national club coefficients at the end of season 2059/2060:

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As you can see, a couple of poor recent seasons in terms of coefficient points earned and Scotland have gone from being a distant 7th to being right on our tail. Another season like that from the N. Irish teams and we will probably lose our 3rd Champions League spot. In season 2059/2060, for some reason all 3 N. Irish teams (Linfield, Glentoran & Knockbreda) entered the group stage of the Champions League which I'm not sure is right. I thought it was 2 group stage spots for the teams finishing 1st and 2nd in the DBP with the 3rd placed team entered into the best placed qualification route at the 3rd Qualifying Round. It may have been good for the other clubs finances but they need to do more to build squads capable of competing as they were trash in the group stages earning very little coefficient points hampering progress.

All the best

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Linfield F.C.

SEASON 2059 / 2060

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We finally managed to bring the DBP home last season after so many seasons of hurt, the objective has to be to retain it and make progress in the Champions League. If we could end up with post-December European football that would be a good sign of progress for us.

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League Table - An emphatic statement of intent from us as we won the title at a canter. We were ruthlessly efficient and could have broken the 100 points barrier had we not been on the beach for the post split fixtures. Very surprised to see Glenavon finish runners up but with a couple of loans from us that seemed to give them a little bit extra in what was a closely fought battle for the top 3. Glentoran almost missed out on the Champions League which would have been a disaster for them but they managed to salvage it with a final day win. That wasn't enough for the Glentoran board though who expect them to be challenging for the title so understandably they gave their manager the axe shortly after. Coleraine stayed up relatively comfortably beating Institute 4-2 in the relegation playoff. The league table epitomizes the massive gap emerging between the top 4 and everyone else, extraordinary that not a single team outside the top 4 managed a positive goal difference. At this point, I can't see how that gap is going to close.

UEFA Champions League - We started the group stage really poorly with only one point after our first three games but that win against Norwich seemed to spark us into life. That run of three wins managed to secure us 2nd and a place in the knockout stages which I was delighted with considering how unlikely that seemed after our first 3 games. I went into the tie against Schalke 04 wary, they looked a really strong team with a lot of dangerous players. I decided to try and stifle them with opposition instructions in the first leg. That was a big mistake, they outplayed us at Windsor Park with my players seemingly chasing shadows all game. The scoreline would have been even more resounding were it not for a string of fine saves from our goalkeeper. Going into the 2nd leg and needing a miracle I decided to get rid of the opposition instructions and just let my players play their natural game. That seemed to work far better and we were a lot more competitive. We lost the war but won that battle which proves that we can mix it with the best teams in Europe. We just need to add a bit more quality in the right areas and we should be capable of going further into the competition.

Domestic Cups - We at least managed to bring home one trophy but given the squad available to us that is quite a poor showing.

Reserves - I don't know why but they just can't clear that final hurdle in the Intermediate Cup. This was an especially painful defeat to take given they had a 2 goal lead going into the final 5 minutes of the 90 and 17 minutes of extra time against 10 men to grab the winner.

Under 18s - After a promising start to their UEFA Youth League career last season this was nowhere near as impressive.

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Squad - While we have a lot of very good players and for the first time a few wonderkids in the team we also have a lot of deadwood that needs to be moved on. We really need to rebuild the defence as we are lacking in that area quite badly. A quality goalkeeper in between the sticks, a pair of top draw central defenders and a strong right back are all on the shopping list. If we can get that I think we will be a lot better in Europe. I feel that the centre of the park has become very bloated with too many players which caused issues with squad registration and squad harmony. The problem is that while a lot of the players in central midfield are good they aren't the world class level which we will need to make an impact in Europe. If I could sell half of the central midfielders in the squad to raise funds and invest that money into one or two quality players I think we will be far better off. Now that we have a bit of money to spend the aim has to be on bringing in quality rather than quantity. When Wortelboer DC leaves at the end of his loan that is going to leave a huge hole in our central defence which is going to take serious funds to fill.

Transfers - There was a lot of activity this season which brought in a massive profit for the club which I hope to repeat again next season. A lot of the transfers out not shown on the screenshot were loans out of the club so no real need to go into detail about them. First up was our list of free transfers arriving on pre-contract agreements and we managed to unearth some real gems this year. Williams DR was an okay signing for us although I don't think he is quite good enough to be first choice in the Champions League, I can say that with confidence as his poor performance against Schalke 04 in the 1st Knockout Round showed he was out of his depth playing against the very best. Papadopoulos MR on the other hand was exceptional in his debut season, he wont develop much further but I think he's good enough going forward. Schmitt ST was a good signing and fitted the DLF role very well. Given the amount games he played I perhaps would have wanted a bit more end product from him but a reasonable debut season. Wilson MC was a bit of a disappointment, he certainly has the attributes to be that creative force in the middle of the park and scored a few long range screamers but never really gave me a reason to consistently pick him over some of the other options we have, he could be one for the chopping block. Reeves ST was probably the pick of the free transfers, the wonderkid was our top scorer and displaced Moore ST as our first choice striker to lead the line, excellent debut season from him. Then I brought in Maxwell MR who I decided to loan out shortly after. Finally, I brought in HG player Ortega GK who I expected to be a backup but later events made him the first choice. I'm happy to keep him but we will need better in Europe.

Efremov ST was a punt offered by his agent who I decided to loan out to Larne. Then I brought in probably the most significant transfer this season in loan signing Wortelboer DC. I usually don't like to loan players at all and I will return to avoiding them again but I really needed a central defender and didn't have hardly any funds so it made sense in this instance. He cost a lot to bring in but was worth every penny with his quality performances throughout the season. Then on August deadline day I sold Hemmings DR to Aberdeen who looked a promising youngster but it was a decent offer and I had brought in Williams to be our first choice so I could let him go.

I anticipated a quiet winter transfer window even though the board had decided to hand me ~ £8M extra in my transfer budget. I thought that maybe I'd bring one or two players to plug some weaknesses and strengthen us for the run in but it proved to be exceptionally busy. I sold a couple of youth players in Spencer and McKeown for modest fees. Then I brought in Fitschen DC to add some depth to central defence, perhaps a waste of money given he didn't really feature at all but at least the resale value looks decent. Dridi DL was next in the door and he looks pretty good and filled in well in the left midfield when both my left midfielders got injured. His arrival probably means the end of Szecsi's time at the club but I'm happy to move forward with him especially for the price he cost. Then I decided to try and bring in that quality creative central midfielder in Beis who was fairly decent when he played, I don't feel he is the answer to all our troubles in Europe but he is definitely good depth for the position.

After that signing, it seemed to really go haywire. Guirassy ML decided he had enough and wanted to leave for FC Porto. I would have been reluctant to part with him but given he suffered a broken leg on international duty before the start of the season and hardly played I felt confident in allowing him to leave knowing Murphy ML had actually surpassed him in terms of ability. The fee was brilliant and he goes with my best wishes to Portugal. Then of course Liverpool made an eye watering offer for Moore ST. I wouldn't have even considered selling had we not managed to bring in Reeves at the start of the season but given the way that Reeves was playing I felt we could make the move and I accepted the record breaking fee. I knew that I would need to replace him and as a result I brought in both Tula and Hooper who look exceptional players, it's just unfortunate they haven't featured much because of the exceptional form of Reeves. Gimenez ML was the replacement for Guirassy who didn't play a game but I feel will feature as a rotation option next season. Finally, I decided to break the bank with the signing of Burgel DL and I feel that I've brought in an exceptional talent who with development is going to be a world class player. Then a couple of days after the transfer window closed for us I got a couple of offers from England. The first of which being a huge sum for Perkins DC, I was hesitant initially but you don't turn down that sort of money for a 26 year old who was a rotation option last season. That money will come in very handy when trying to bring in a quality central defender next season. Finally, I decided to sell Cetin GK who wanted to leave after kicking up a stink. It was a risky move but given that he wasn't all that much better than Ortega I felt we could let him leave rather than have to deal with the headache of having an unhappy player.

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Average Rating: 7.72
What a brilliant season from the left winger. I was most impressed by the fact he seemed to keep that level of performance in the Champions League. It's probably going to be a challenge to keep him here in the long term considering the interest in him but if he does leave it's going to be for a massive fee which should enable me to bring in a good replacement.
 
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Average Rating: 7.49
I'm really going to miss this guy next season. The only flaw being his personality which could hamper him from reaching his potential but a real asset to the club who is going to be difficult to replace.
 
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Finances - Absolutely loaded and this is after we spent some money on upgrading the facilities. It seems the selling club philosophy has really kicked into gear and I feel the balance is only going to increase from this point. Now that I have some money to spend the process of identifying and bringing in top talent is going to become much more efficient. Instead of having to hope that the bigger clubs release their best young talent and attempt to snap them up on a free we have now entered the phase of being able to actively pursue those sorts of players. This is going to make a huge difference for us not only on the pitch but will generate huge sums of money for the club down the line. We are already starting to see the growth in the fan base as a consequence so we are well on our way to building this club.  

Facilities - There is a long way to go before our facilities can be considered decent but the process of yearly upgrades continues. I asked for a stadium expansion which was understandably rejected given our lowly average attendance figures but we are gradually filling Windsor Park more. Being successful in Europe is the way to supercharge it so all efforts have to be to focused in that direction considering that the domestic challenge seems to have abated.

Youth Intake - I signed them all but honestly none of this crop are going to make it here. I've yet to have that potentially world class youngster come through the ranks who is going to set the world alight but I don't give up hope, surely it has got to happen sometime. Maybe once our reputation is strong enough to start our global youth affiliate program we might start to see some fruits from our labour.
 
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League Reputation - We're still holding on but the threat from Scotland is serious. We really can't afford another season like this one, the other N. Irish teams need to get their act together.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - Becoming recognized on the continent is a big step forward for us and should greatly help our appeal to the sort of players that we will need to push us forward. Also, we reached a milestone in the DBP as from next season we will have 11 out of the 12 clubs operating at professional status given that Donegal Celtic turned pro. Only Championship winners Ballinamallard United will still be part time.
 
Club European Reputation - It looks feasible that we might overtake Glentoran next season. A poor year will drop off the coefficient so with a good year from us we can challenge them. Very good to see 4 N. Irish clubs in the top 40 though.
 
Here is how the other N. Irish teams performed in Europe this season:
 
Glentoran - Finished 4th in Champions League group stage - This was a lousy effort from them given they couldn't even get 3rd in what looked a favourable draw. Hopefully, their new manager will give them the kick up the backside they need to start making progress again.
Glenavon - Finished 3rd in Europa Conference League group stage - Rubbish, absolute rubbish. If they can't get out of a poor looking group this season how on earth are they going to fare in the Champions League group stage next season? I can't see them contributing much coefficient points next season.
Knockbreda - Finished 4th in Champions League group stage - I'll give them a pass given it was their first appearance in the Champions League for a while. Hopefully, they will wisely invest the money gained and come back stronger next season for the campaign in the Europa League.
Cliftonville - Finished 4th in Europe League group stage - They got a tough looking draw so this is understandable, they would have got a decent sum out of it so hopefully that will tide them over for next season when they have no European football.
Ballymena United - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 2nd Qualifying Round by KR 3-1 on aggregate - Shambolic performance over the 2 legs and deserved to be dumped out early.
 
Llanrhaeadr watch - The managerial vacancy actually became available at the start of the season and I was sorely tempted to add another manager and play both Linfield and them but that would have been too many fixtures for me so I left it. Perhaps that was a mistake given they finished 2nd in the Welsh 2nd division. Having to compete against professional club Cowlyn Bay proving too much for them to overcome although they did run them close. It's a really silly situation that Swansea University (an amateur team) will spend another season in the Welsh Premier while a club with such huge potential will spend another year scrapping it in the 2nd division. Hopefully, the part time club relegated from the Welsh Premier gets assigned to their North division to make it easier for them to make their way back into the top flight.
 
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Linfield F.C.

SEASON 2060 / 2061

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We didn't have much of a title challenge last season which was surprising, perhaps this season will prove more difficult now that our main competitors have new managers. In the Champions League, I feel we are stronger than last season and should have enough quality to grace the knockout stages once again.

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League Table - Another comfortable win to make it a hat trick. We broke our record for games won in a row from the start of the season and that seemed to break the resistance of the chasing pack who couldn't manage similar levels of consistency to keep up. It was a disastrous season for Glentoran whose decline has been disappointing. Once again they sacked their manager after poor results mid-season and their new manager hasn't exactly hit the ground running by missing out on the Champions League for the first time in decades. They have strayed too far from the principles I instilled into the club during my tenure. It's costing them on the pitch in performances and off the pitch in terms of finances which have deteriorated to only 'okay'. They need to stop wasting money on players in the Indian summer of their careers which they can't get any resale value from and start investing in the youth again.

Credit must go to Glenavon who have really impressed over the last few years however, more than likely as a result of them loaning players from us but a great result for them to finish runners up. Donegal Celtic's performance this season was shocking given that I expected their newly acquired professional status would help them to stay up more easily. Instead it had the opposite effect as they unceremoniously crashed out of the top flight with a pitiful points return. Distillery almost managed to get promoted for the first time in years but a 5-1 defeat on aggregate to Ballinamallard United ended those hopes. Ending the first leg with only 9 men and a 2-1 loss giving them a impossible mountain to climb. Dungannon Swifts bounced right back to the DBP by winning the Championship title.

UEFA Champions League - An incredible season in Europe and I certainly wasn't expecting to go as far as we did. I suspected we would make the knockout stages relatively easily given the squad I had been assembling and that proved to be the case as we topped our group with the only blemish to our record being an opening day defeat. When we pulled Nottingham Forest out of the hat for the first knockout round I was feeling optimistic given that I felt we could be competitive with them. After the 1st leg in England, my hopes were bolstered further and knowing that we didn't need to win the 2nd leg really seemed to relax the players as they put in a confident performance at home to knock out our English opponents and make history by getting to the quarter final for the first time.

I felt the draw for the quarter final could have been slightly easier but we was set the task of beating the German giant. I didn't feel we had enough to beat them when I looked at their squad but that feeling proved in a strange way to be rather liberating. Viewing the game as a completely free hit really seemed to relax the players as they fed off that energy which inspired them to put in one of the greatest performances I've had during the career. A performance so controlled and composed that I had almost convinced myself that we was already in the semi final after the 1st leg. That was a big mistake and when they scored 2 goals with time still left on the clock in the 2nd leg, panic ensued. I managed to keep them from taking the game into extra time, just, but that was an almighty scare which actually may have been the wake up call against complacency we needed going into the semi final.

Juventus was all that stood between us and a place in the final at the Camp Nou. Much like in the 1st knockout round a first leg score draw gave us the foundation to build upon for the second leg at Windsor Park. Going into the 2nd leg knowing we only needed to prevent them from scoring (easier said than done) I decided to try a different ploy of attempting to stifle our opponents and to make the game as scrappy as possible. It worked like a charm and even though they did manage to create some good chances against us, our solid defence shackled them and helped us to get the win on away goals. That gave us a lot of confidence going into the final as they are one of the best sides in Europe.

Carrying on the themes which had carried us this far I decided to go into the final with the mindset of expecting to lose in order to try and relax the players into providing a performance like they did against Bayern Munich. That mentality guided how I spoke to my players before the match, during the match with touchline shouts and how I attempted to stifle the opposition with opposition instructions. It really seemed to work as we started the game exceptionally well and on the front foot. When we took the lead just before half time after I instructed the players to be more creative I was delighted. Scoring just before the break for me is perfect as it forces the opposition manager to change the nature of their team talk while it allowed me to heap praise and encouragement on my players.

That seemed to inspire them and we started the second half confidently. We seemed to be managing the game well, we didn't seem to be under an enormous amount of pressure and still carried a threat of scoring a 2nd and killing off the game. The players looked composed and when I made some tactical substitutions to bring on some fresh legs and replace some of the under-performing players that looked to have been enough to get us over the line. Unfortunately, there is always a mistake in us and that came in the form of a sloppy pass from our right back which was intercepted. Given our players were out of their defensive positions our German opponents then exploited that space and grabbed the equalizer. I was devastated, to come so close to glory and have it snatched away thanks to an unforced error. More importantly, that late goal seemed to shift the momentum of the game completely against us.

Going into extra time, I tried my best to instill the belief into the players that the game wasn't over and we could still win but that seemed to fall on deaf ears as our opponents began to take control. Extra time was rough as they created chance after chance against us resulting in a lot of desperate last ditch defending. They threw everything they could at us but thankfully, we held on to take them to penalties. Given the quality of our penalty takers compared to theirs I fully expected to lose the shootout. We was actually surprisingly good at them even though a couple of the penalties came close to being missed. The 2nd penalty from Uander DC kiss the left post before bouncing in while the 3rd penalty from Mdluli DC just evaded the glove of the opposition GK as he dived correctly. The fact that 2/3 of our first penalty takers were central defenders probably says it all in terms of our options. Ortega GK guessed correctly for their first two penalties but just couldn't keep them out but it looked like he might be able to pull off a save so when he did manage to save 2 of their spot kicks it came as no surprise. An unlikely hero but who cares, we're European champions.

Did we deserve to win it? Probably not, as we had a fair amount of luck along the way but realistically we were always going to need a degree of that in order to pull this off. We don't have a team filled with world class players yet so were always going to be on the back foot in the later stages of the competition. What I liked about our performances was that we showed great determination to fight against the odds and ended up achieving something remarkable. Another bonus is that it gives us the chance to become world champions straight away as the world club cup starts at the end of the June. Winning both in the same year is probably a lot to ask but you never know.  

Domestic Cups - We kind of flattered to deceive this season and only ended up with the Irish Champions Cup and 'biscuit' cup.

Reserves - Quite a poor season from them really, at least it's nice to see the attendances rising slightly.

Under 18s - An excellent year for the youth team both domestically and in the UEFA Youth League.

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Squad Part 1 / Squad Part 2 - We definitely have an oversized squad which had both positive and negative implications for the season. On the one hand, having such a large squad made European squad registration problematic which had knock on effects on squad harmony. Thankfully, I was able to talk down a lot of the players that missed out but it still left a lot of unhappy players for months of the season before they got over it. On the other hand, had we not had such a large squad the amount of injuries we suffered would have likely derailed our season. Williams DR practically missed the entire season, suffering a broken leg on international duty in early September which had him out for 5 months. On his return, he then suffered a damaged hip in training which had him out for another 3 months. He managed to get himself fit enough to make it for the Champions League final but his contribution was minimal throughout the season, his error almost cost us in the Champions League final which would have been awful but thankfully it didn't.

Then we had Burgel DL out for 3 months after breaking his ankle against Knockbreda in late January which kept him out for the knockout stages of the Champions League. New signing Jara ML, Grilc MR, Clarke MC, Tula ST, Radovanovic ST and Mullen ST all spent at least 1 month on the sidelines due to injury. Hopefully, next season we get a bit more luck with injuries as I don't really want to have such a large squad where there are so many players which don't play a good number of games. I decided to break my rule of not bringing in loan players given the injury situation and it proved to be a resounding success. We don't need a rebuild but there are definitely a lot of areas which could be strengthened if we are to stand of a chance of defending the Champions League title.

Transfers - Big money was spent this season, over half of which was recouped through sales but I wanted to ensure we brought in genuine quality in the areas where we had weaknesses. The central defence was the area which needed the most attention and in Uander DC and Mdluli DC I think I have the spine of our central defence sorted for years to come. They are both exceptional young players who established an excellent relationship on the pitch, the sky is really the limit with them and I'm excited to see what the future holds as they fulfill their potential. Kobrwoski DR looks an exciting young player and in retrospect I should have selected him for Europe instead of Williams but I wasn't to know at that time he would be missing for the majority of the season. I wanted to register him after the January transfer window closed but given the 3 signings I made in January and the fact they needed to be registered meant I couldn't make space for him.

Canestrelli MR looks a very good player and is another who I wish I could have registered for Europe but he did brilliantly domestically and will certainly be pushing for a spot in Europe ahead of Grilc next season. Campello GK was a little bit expensive but a good addition. I really liked his distribution and how often he was able to launch counter attacks which led to goals. Manca DR looks an okay player but unlikely to be pushing as a first choice. Mosquera MC was never a great fit and when Dundalk came in with a good offer it was an easy decision to let him go. Murphy ML on the other hand was a more difficult decision given he was last seasons player of the year but considering he wanted to leave and Jara ML looked a capable replacement I let him go. Other than those transfers, Szecsi SL was let go as anticipated, the rest were mainly youth players that were sold or loans. We still seem to have a lot of deadwood in the club and as a result, next season I will be seeking to purge a lot of it.

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Average Rating: 7.58
He really surprised me and showed exceptionally strong development this season. The increased game time really benefited him and now he is considered one of the leading players in the squad. I'm bringing in a free transfer to play in the central midfielder (defend) alongside him who I'm hoping will strike a decent partnership with him. He is a solid and dependable player although he did go missing at times for some games in Europe which I will need to monitor going forward.
 
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Average Rating: 7.41
He came with a hefty price tag but I felt we needed to spend big and break our record transfer fee to replace the quality that Wortelboer provided. Well, he did so well that I didn't even notice the absence which is a great credit to him. I had to play him at right back at times in Europe owing to Williams injury and he didn't complain, he got on with it and put in a string of good performances. He is a brilliant player, I really hope that I can hold onto him for a long time but given the interest that may prove difficult. All I will say is that any team that wants him better have deep pockets if they want to land him.
 
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Finances - Going deep into the Champions League has really helped our bottom line and meant that even though we spent a fortune this season on transfers and building the clubs infrastructure we still managed to generate a yearly profit. The wage bill has soared but I think at this point remains manageable.

Facilities - We're making great strides off the pitch now. Even though our average attendance didn't really rise that significantly, bringing home the Champions League trophy was a powerful weapon which I used to convince the board after some persuasion (after all I've done for the club) to expand Windsor Park. I'm not all that thrilled with having to play at Breda Park next season but hopefully, once that is done we can start to fill the 27,000 capacity ground and start to make moves towards a new stadium. I still suspect that is a long way off but at least we are making strides in the right direction. All the other facilities will be upgraded although we still have a way to go before they become state of the art having started from such a low base.

Youth Intake - Maybe there is something that I'm missing as even though these intakes don't look great to me the youth team is doing quite well in the UEFA Youth League. Once again I signed everyone.
 
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League Reputation - You can't keep performing poorly in Europe and expect to hold on to your position. Therefore it's with great regret but predictably we have ended up with the following message.
 
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This is a big blow to the objective of the save but when you look at the nation club coefficients you can't say that it hasn't been on the cards for quite a while. My biggest problem now being how large the coefficient gap that Scotland have established is that we have to try and somehow make up. Celtic won the Europa Conference League this season so earned a massive clutch of points for doing so. This is largely where we got to last year with the challenge. We get the 3 CL spots for a little while then Scotland overtake us and we never catch them up ever again :(.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - I'm really quite surprised that we have managed to overtake Glentoran in terms of reputation already. If we can add the World Club Cup then next season we might just make it to 5* reputation.
 
Club European Reputation - As anticipated we overtook Glentoran and surge into the top 20.
 
Here is how the other N. Irish teams performed in Europe this season:
 
Glentoran - Knocked out in Europa League 2nd Knockout Round by Nimes 5-2 on aggregate - After getting dumped out of the Champions League qualifiers by Shakhtar Donetsk they looked to have recovered quite well with an impressive Europa League group stage campaign only to get trashed by the same team which they beat in the group stage 3-0 (they lost the away group stage game 2-0). Things aren't looking good at all especially now there are only 2 qualification spots for the Champions League from next season. They are going to have to make a lot of improvement.
Glenavon - Finished 4th in Champions League group stage - They simply aren't good enough to cut it among the big teams. They really need to think about investing the money they will gain into infrastructure otherwise they are going to get left behind.
Knockbreda - Knocked out in Europa League 2nd Knockout Round by Hannover 96 3-1 on aggregate - A reasonable campaign whose highlight was them dumping out Barcelona on penalties in the previous round but their German opponents proved too strong.
Larne - Knocked out in Europe Conference League 3rd Qualifying Round by Fenerbache 4-0 on aggregate - Might have done a little better than that.
Portadown - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 4th Qualifying Round by Espanyol 3-1 on aggregate - A tough team to have to face to qualify for the group stage, I think they can hold their heads high as they put in a good effort, just didn't have enough quality.
 
Llanrhaeadr watch - Yet another 2nd placed finish, this time to Brickfield. It's really tough getting out of the 2nd division with only one spot giving promotion but maybe they'll fare better next season.
 
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On 31/07/2020 at 17:45, rodesire said:

what an effort! wining UCL in only 7th season and 4th in the competition is insane!

Thanks, we got very lucky but I'm delighted to have won the UCL in such a short space of time. Just goes to show how pivotal a pair of decent centre backs can be to a teams success in Europe. I don't expect that we'll be able to retain it but I'll give it my best efforts and you never know. If we could retain it, that would be amazing and really boost the size of the fan base getting us closer to a new stadium which is the end objective with Linfield. Get the club into a huge new stadium, expand it to the maximum size and then move on to another club.

Cheers

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Linfield F.C.

SEASON 2061 / 2062

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Winning the Champions League last season was a huge milestone in the development of the club and with the expansion to Windsor Park for this season the process of building for the future has begun. I sense it will be very difficult to retain old Big ears but that will be the ambition this season along with trying to become world champions and maintaining our domestic dominance.

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League Table - It looked like we might be having a title challenge from Glenavon up until around December but strong and consistent form enabled us to establish an unassailable lead to clinch our 4th title in a row. It was a strange season for Glentoran who spent the majority of the season in 3rd but a late season collapse from Glenavon opened the door for them to sneak into 2nd and claim the other Champions League qualification spot. Elsewhere in the DBP, Portadown triumphed over Cliftonville 2-0 in the Europa Conference League playoff final to claim a place in Europe. Dungannon Swifts stayed up thanks to a 3-1 aggregate win over Institute in the relegation playoff and Donegal Celtic bounced back to the top flight after comfortably winning the Championship title. Overall, a satisfactory season and I'm glad to see Glentoran claim 2nd place and a spot in the Champions League, they badly need it given their financial status has deteriorated to just 'Okay'.

UEFA Champions League - I went into the campaign rather pessimistically thinking that we didn't have much of a chance of retaining our crown but what I didn't account for was that we would continue to show the same dogged resistance from last season of not accepting defeat and overcoming the odds. I was especially surprised with the outcome considering how poorly our group stage campaign went with us only qualifying on the final day. We had to rely on a final day favour from RB Leipzig who beat Lyon to allow us to sneak through on the head to head record. I was actually rather pleased with our draw in the 1st Knockout Round as I felt they were the weakest opponent we could have drawn. Then of course Kobrowski DR suffered a terrible injury meaning I had to play a makeshift right back which contributed to a poor first leg performance giving us a mountain to climb in France. Well, I fully expected to be knocked out but the difference between the 2 legs was night and day. A remarkable recovery and our reward, a tricky tie against Juventus in the quarter final.

Going into the quarter final once again we suffered a terrible injury, this time to our goalkeeper Ortega who fractured his lower leg meaning he'd be out for the rest of the season (at least that's what I thought at the time). As a result, I had to field a youth GK which had me worried that his inexperience would cost us. After our first leg loss at home I was pretty much resigned to accepting that we would get knocked out but then that fighting spirit came out as we pulled off an incredible victory in Turin which saw us into the semi final on away goals which had me delighted with the team. Then we faced perennial winners Real Madrid in the semi-final and once again suffered an injury to a big player for us in Pitts MC meaning we would have to face them severely weakened without our first choice GK, DR and defend duty MC.

Therefore I was astounded when we went to the Bernabeu and pulled off a creditable draw putting us in the driving seat for the 2nd leg. I knew the job wasn't done and we would need another strong performance at home and my players duly delivered. It did get a bit dicey towards the end when they pulled the game back to 3-2 with 10 minutes left on the clock as another goal would see them through but resolute defending and a few tactical tweaks enabled us to hold on and saw us through to our 2nd consecutive final.

The final itself presented a quandary for me with regards to who to start. Although Kobrowski DR had recovered from his injury neither Ortega GK nor Schmitt ST (suffered an injury in training) had fully recovered and Pitts MC would miss the final entirely. I was left with the difficult choice whether to play a fully fit youth player or a goalkeeper still not fully recovered from a serious injury. In the end, I took a chance and started Ortega and put Schmitt on the bench. It proved to be the right choice as Ortega had a good game and by keeping a clean sheet helped us to retain the trophy. I think we were more deserving of this win than last season as I don't think luck worked in our favour this time with all the injuries which makes this achievement all the more special. The question now is whether we can make it a hat-trick? Given our new found resilience, with a few additions to the squad, why not?

FIFA World Club Cup - I have to say that I'm not a great fan of the new format for this competition. It comes at a difficult time in the year when you can have players missing on international duty and it interferes with pre-season. It's also too many games which adds to an already overloaded fixture schedule. I also think that the integrity of the competition is somewhat degraded when you don't even need to win your continental competition to take part which means that you can have a champion of the world which isn't even champion of their continent. Anyway, that's enough moaning about it, unsurprisingly, we failed to become world champions. I feel a bit gutted to have gained the advantage in the shootout only for my players to let it go but hey it happens. At least with our Champions League win we've already qualified for the next tournament in 4 years time where hopefully we can do a bit better.

UEFA Super Cup - Not the most polished of performances from us but a win is a win. A nice pickup for us going into the season which showed we could compete with the better teams in Europe and that our Champions League win the previous season wasn't a fluke.

Domestic Cups - Won a couple of cups but not the greatest of seasons. I would like to go far in all the cups next season and hopefully help out some of the smaller clubs with gate receipts if possible.

Reserves - Superb season from the backup players which is great to see considering the squad looks quite a bit weaker than in previous seasons.

Under 18s - Whereas the first team managed to qualify from their Champions League group with an identical record (3 wins and 3 losses) the youth team didn't which was a shame. At least they can comfort themselves with the NIFL Academy League title and look back fondly at their 9-0 trouncing of Besiktas in Turkey.

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Squad - The squad was trimmed over the two transfer windows and I think we have the core of a squad which can compete into the later stages of the Champions League for years to come. That's not to say there aren't areas which need to be addressed. I think we need to look for another HG goalkeeper to prevent what happened this season and having to resort to playing youth players in the Champions League. I'm also aware of the fact that Millar DC can't go on forever and will need replacing preferably with another HG player. I also think we may have reached the end of the line with players like Radovanovic ST and Dertwinkel MC who have fallen down the pecking order. Ideally, next season I'd quite like to bring in a goalkeeper, right back, central defender, central midfielder (support) and deep lying forward (support). If we could do that I think we will be in a strong position to retain the Champions League.

Transfers - An interesting pair of windows for sure which saw the club generate a good profit while also trimming down a bloated squad. My only signing of the summer window was to bring in Pitts MC on a free who had an excellent debut campaign for us, it was a shame he missed the final of the Champions League through injury but his overall contribution during the season was impressive. I sent out a lot of players on loan but overall the summer window was rather quiet in terms of ins and outs, although it didn't have to be considering the amount of offers I fielded but I was pleased to see my players commit to the club and nobody tried to force a move.

The January window was a different ball game altogether though. I really didn't want to let Uander DC go given how much he developed for us but when he wanted to get his contract renewed earlier in the season his agent insisted on a release clause which ultimately was met by Barcelona and once that happened there was nothing I could do to stop him leaving. As a result, I targeted two players to bring in to replace. The first of which was Reinaldo DC who on closer inspection (attributes profile and PPMs) looks far more competent as an attacking left back than a central defender which enabled me to put out an unhappy Dridi DL on loan while playing the new signing there. The actual replacement was Gomez DC who looks a excellent young talent whose signing was partly funded by the sales of Hooper ST and Papadopolous MR. Hooper ST wasn't getting enough game time and I wanted to develop Tula ST while the offer for Papadopolous MR was too good to turn down given it smashed our previous record. As I had Grlic MR and Canestrelli MR I didn't feel the need to bring in a replacement for Papadopolous either. Larmour MC, a backup player is the player cut off the screenshot who went on loan to Bangor.

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Average Rating: 7.66
Even though his natural position isn't as an out an out striker his output over the last couple of seasons has been impressive. A goal a game is the best return of any striker I've had for a long while, I'm hoping that with a little healthy competition from Tula ST we might see him continuing to excel going forward.
 
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Raul Tula - ST
Average Rating: 7.20
He is not quite at the same strike rate as Reeves but I think Hooper's departure was the best thing that could have happened to him. Given Reeves is fully developed and he is only just shy of his productivity I'm interested to see what he will be capable of in future given how much room he has to further grow as a player. 
 
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Finances - We are flushed with cash and even though this screenshot was taken before the money was taken out for the facilities upgrades we are very comfortable financially. I didn't expect this to be the situation given we had to suffer a season at a much smaller ground and lost a lot of revenue because of that but this balance gives the ability to improve the squad and simultaneously continue to build the club.

Facilities - I can't wait to get back to the newly expanded Windsor Park and it'll be interesting to see how consistently we are able to fill the new ground. Anticipating a massive drop in our average attendance during our season of exile I was rather surprised that we managed to eek out a slight increase which bodes well for the future. £7.25M was spent on upgrading the youth and training facilities and it looks like we are getting closer to having state of the art facilities across the board which will allow me to redirect funds to other areas. I think it's going to be a while before we have the ability to start thinking about a new ground but at least the first stage on that journey is complete by expanding Windsor Park to its maximum potential capacity.

Youth Intake - We actually got someone decent come through for once in Acebal DL who with the right guidance might be capable of playing in the first team. I signed everyone but I don't expect anyone else to make an impact, unfortunately.
 
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League Reputation - No real changes except now we have to look over our shoulder as both the Republic of Ireland and Portugal start to threaten our position in the coefficient table. We really need a strong season from the other N. Irish clubs next season to see off the threat.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - Up to 5* reputation which is great, hopefully, that will help us with attracting new players.
 
Club European Reputation - Perhaps not as much progress up the table as I was hoping to see but a rise is always welcome. Pleased to see Glentoran still holding on with a top 30 spot, I'm hoping that will help them with getting seeded in the Champions League qualifiers.
 
Here is how the other N. Irish teams performed in Europe this season:
 
Glentoran - Knocked out in Europa League 1st Knockout Round by Aberdeen 4-2 on aggregate - This was a poor result, more so for the fact they lost to a team from Scotland which we are directly competing with for coefficient points in the nation coefficient table.
Glenavon - Knocked out in Europa League 2nd Knockout Round by Glasgow Celtic 1-0 on aggregate - Another N. Irish team falling to Scottish opposition which isn't good.
Knockbreda - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 2nd Knockout Round by Vfl Wolfsburg 2-1 on aggregate - A respectable result against strong German opposition.
Larne - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 3rd Qualifying Round by Feyenoord 5-1 on aggregate - Another season, another 4 goal trouncing at the same round.
Portadown - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 4th Qualifying Round by Shakhter Soligorsk 2-1 on aggregate - I thought they would have a better chance of qualifying for the group stage against much weaker opposition after last seasons nightmarish draw, guess I was wrong.
 
Llanrhaeadr watch - They made it back to the top flight but made a right meal of it in all honesty. They looked comfortable going into the latter part of the season with a 11 point lead but little slip ups here and there reduced their lead to 4 points going into the final 4 games which had me thinking they were going to bottle it. Thankfully, they recovered at the right time and got it over the line. They've turned pro again, hopefully, next season they can make a better fist of trying to stay up than last time when they finished rock bottom.
 
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Posted (edited)

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Linfield F.C.

SEASON 2062 / 2063

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The focus has to be on keeping our domestic dominance going and making it 3 in a row in the Champions League. The purpose of which to build up the size of the clubs fan base and initiate the need for a new bigger stadium so that I can leave the desired legacy at the club.

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League Table - In the end, we just got over the line with a final day win guaranteeing us the title but I feel we got lucky this season. Going into the split we was in 2nd with Glenavon leading the way. It was only due to a spectacular late season collapse from Glenavon which gave us the ability to overtake them. This was a frustrating season filled with little annoyances along the way. For e.g., being 2-0 up against Portadown only to let it slip and draw 2-2, regularly losing to our closest rivals and dropping points against relegation candidates. If we are to avoid such a close finish again we will need to rediscover our consistency and stop dropping needless points given how much more consistent our competition has become.

Ballymena United beat Cliftonville in the UEFA Conference League playoff final 1-0 to secure a place in Europe while Crusaders stayed up thanks to a 3-1 aggregate win over Newington in the relegation playoff. It was a shame to see Donegal Celtic relegated but if you only win 3 games for the whole season then what do you expect.

UEFA Champions League - This was tough but that fighting spirit we've developed over the last few seasons seemed to inspire us to glory making it a hat trick of wins. The draw for the group stage was kind and we were able to top the group relatively easily. Expecting an easier draw against a runner up for the 1st Knockout Round I was therefore disappointed when we drew Juventus.

After the 1st leg, I was feeling even further crushed given we had no away goals and a one goal deficit to make up. I knew we needed a strategy to turn the game around and when I saw them fielding a defensive mentality with a 4-1-4-1 formation for the 2nd leg I decided to make some alterations to my tactic. I dropped the mentality to Balanced to have a more patient and considered attack knowing that they weren't going to press my players as aggressively. I also took off the Be More Expressive team instruction to stop my players needlessly gifting them back possession when attempting risky passes and roaming out of position with such regularity. It seemed to do the trick and we pulled off a great performance to comfortably win the game and the tie.

Into the quarter finals, I was quite pleased when we drew Schalke 04 as I felt they were one of the weakest teams left in the competition. My confidence in our ability to beat them proved to be well founded as we coasted to a comfortable aggregate win which set up a semi-final against another German opponent. RB Leipzig are a completely different animal however and this was shown when we lost the 1st leg. I knew we were going to need another special performance to turn it around and we managed it to get to the final.

On paper, it should have been easier to beat Bayern Munich than RB Leipzig given that they finished runners up in the Bundesliga to RB Leipzig but actually this game was much more difficult. We had a number of injuries with our first choice right back Kobrowski missing, our first choice deep lying forward Schmitt out and our first choice left back Burgel still suffering from an arm injury with him having to use protective equipment to even be select able. Then of course we had players like Tula and Acebal who weren't really match fit which all added to the headache of picking a side for the final.

Therefore it was to my great shock when we scored within 3 minutes. The lead didn't last very long however as within 10 minutes they were level. This had me concerned that the game was too open and if the game was going to become a shooting gallery that we would eventually lose. As a result, I made some tactical changes to try and stifle the game. The first of which being to try and play over their high press so I instructed both my fullbacks to play more direct passes and that seemed to give us more possession and a bit more of a foothold in the game.

That change seemed to settle the game down and instead of having regular highlights as we faced attack after attack that reduced the number of their attacks down quite significantly. I was successful in turning the game into a war of attrition and that mindset allowed us navigate our way to extra time. I would have been happy to settle for penalties given our decent record at those but I was very pleased when Tula lobbed a header over their goalkeeper after a defensive mistake to give us the lead. We only needed to hold on for another 15 minutes so I locked it down. I took off Tula and brought on another central midfielder in Malesa, changed both fullbacks onto defend duty, the right winger onto support duty and that seemed to work as we they never really threatened to get the equalizer. A brilliant result and an excellent campaign overall, more of the same again please.

UEFA Super Cup - I didn't enjoy this game at all, we went from winning to drawing to winning again then drawing again, back to winning in the shootout only to end up losing overall. A disappointing start to the season but I suppose we got lucky last season so by law of averages we were due a loss.

Domestic Cups - We won nothing which says a lot about the depth of the squad. Given the way things was shaping up in the league and in Europe I had to mainly play weakened sides in the cups to keep our best players fresh for the more important games and the drop in quality was very noticeable. Didn't much care for the two hammerings we took against Glentoran in the two finals we did reach either.

Reserves - A decent season from them and nice to see attendances on the rise.

Under 18s - I was impressed with their performances this season, a very good effort in the UEFA Youth League.

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Squad - Depth is the key going forwards if we are to launch a full scale assault on all the competitions we will be competing in next season. I tried to strengthen in the positions I identified last season as being weaknesses but unfortunately our budget simply wouldn't stretch enough to really do it all. This season we definitely need a quality DR, I had my eyes on one and we could have brought him in January but unfortunately we ran out of time for the paperwork to go through. He will be a target for when the window opens again.

Although Schmitt ST is a decent player I feel that getting in a top quality Deep Lying Forward is a necessity also. I'm very pleased with the core of young players at the club and to see Acebal DL break through into the first team. I really wish there was more quality coming from the youth team but that seems to have dried up as a source for high potential players.  

Transfers - A lot of movement this season which saw a massive profit coming into the club. While it was a shame to lose Pitts MC, Jara ML and Reinaldo DL I felt their respective replacements of Rondinelli MC, Quintero ML and Acebal DL (promoted from the youth team) all performed excellently meaning we didn't really miss them. I'm also excited about a lot of the young talent that was brought in with Malesa MC, Yao MR and Abb DC looking to have bright futures at the club. I don't sense there will be as much activity next season unless I get some outrageously high bids for my best players so I can bring in quality replacements.

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Average Rating: 7.67
The guy is a goal scoring machine and seems to be scoring more and more every season. That just goes to prove that natural position and role suitability should be taken with a pinch of salt. If a player has the right sort of attributes you want for a role and no conflicting PPMs they will shine regardless of what the in game advice is telling you. I am concerned with his market value though, it seems very low for a triple Champions League winning striker and may be temptingly low.
 
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Average Rating: 7.76
Has been excellent in his debut season and was keeping Beis out of the team for a while. I think he has a lot more room to grow and I look forward to seeing how good a player he can become.
 
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Finances - Another comfortable balance, if we can maintain a balance of over £100M that should be enough to build a new stadium when the time comes for it. I really am not happy with the market values of my players though as it is making me have to field a lot of low and insulting offers which do immense damage to the morale of the player involved.

Facilities - Another upgrade to both the youth and training facilities which is great to see. Now it becomes a waiting game to see when it becomes viable for a new stadium to be built. Given that our average attendance is just over 60% of the total capacity of Windsor Park it could take a while although I'm hoping that the Champions League and DBP win will help next season.

Youth Intake - I think I'm going to need to start looking for a youth affiliation to broaden our potential talent pool as we can't continue with a situation where we get at most 1 decent player every decade. I signed everyone but I can't see any of this crop getting anywhere near the first team.
 
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League Reputation - Staying in place isn't bad but some more promising news on the nations coefficient front as we close the gap significantly to Scotland while opening up a bit of a gap to the nations below us.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - I don't expect to see much changes on this screen anytime soon.
 
Club European Reputation - Amazing that we are still only 5th after winning the Champions League three years in a row but never mind.
 
Here is how the other N. Irish teams performed in Europe this season:
 
Glentoran - Knocked out in Europa League Semi Final by Arsenal 10-1 on aggregate - Excellent work from them as they not only qualified for the group stage of the Champions League but they had an excellent run in the knockout stages of the Europa League which greatly helped the nations coefficient. Just a shame it had to end in such a humiliating defeat.
Glenavon - Finished 3rd in Europa Conference League group - This was actually quite poor from them as I expected a bit better.
Knockbreda - Knocked out in Europa Conference League Semi Final by Ajax Amsterdam on away goals after 1-1 draw on aggregate - A superb run for them, so close to the final.
Portadown - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 2nd Qualifying Round by SonderjysK 2-0 on aggregate - They could have done better but if you fail to plan you plan to fail, they just weren't fit enough to compete.
 
Llanrhaeadr watch - It came down to a last ditch attempt at survival from them. A draw on the final day allowing them to climb out of the relegation zone when their rival Colwyn Bay suffered a shock defeat against bottom of the table amateurs Swansea University. I'm hoping that surviving this season will allow them to build for next season and stay up more convincingly next time around.
 
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Il y a 18 heures, pheelf a dit :

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Linfield F.C.

SEASON 2062 / 2063

beUaOsj.png

oMkIy2p.png?1

The focus has to be on keeping our domestic dominance going and making it 3 in a row in the Champions League. The purpose of which to build up the size of the clubs fan base and initiate the need for a new bigger stadium so that I can leave the desired legacy at the club.

beUaOsj.png

ntGkQzQ.png?1

League Table - In the end, we just got over the line with a final day win guaranteeing us the title but I feel we got lucky this season. Going into the split we was in 2nd with Glenavon leading the way. It was only due to a spectacular late season collapse from Glenavon which gave us the ability to overtake them. This was a frustrating season filled with little annoyances along the way. For e.g., being 2-0 up against Portadown only to let it slip and draw 2-2, regularly losing to our closest rivals and dropping points against relegation candidates. If we are to avoid such a close finish again we will need to rediscover our consistency and stop dropping needless points given how much more consistent our competition has become.

Ballymena United beat Cliftonville in the UEFA Conference League playoff final 1-0 to secure a place in Europe while Crusaders stayed up thanks to a 3-1 aggregate win over Newington in the relegation playoff. It was a shame to see Donegal Celtic relegated but if you only win 3 games for the whole season then what do you expect.

UEFA Champions League - This was tough but that fighting spirit we've developed over the last few seasons seemed to inspire us to glory making it a hat trick of wins. The draw for the group stage was kind and we were able to top the group relatively easily. Expecting an easier draw against a runner up for the 1st Knockout Round I was therefore disappointed when we drew Juventus.

After the 1st leg, I was feeling even further crushed given we had no away goals and a one goal deficit to make up. I knew we needed a strategy to turn the game around and when I saw them fielding a defensive mentality with a 4-1-4-1 formation for the 2nd leg I decided to make some alterations to my tactic. I dropped the mentality to Balanced to have a more patient and considered attack knowing that they weren't going to press my players as aggressively. I also took off the Be More Expressive team instruction to stop my players needlessly gifting them back possession when attempting risky passes and roaming out of position with such regularity. It seemed to do the trick and we pulled off a great performance to comfortably win the game and the tie.

Into the quarter finals, I was quite pleased when we drew Schalke 04 as I felt they were one of the weakest teams left in the competition. My confidence in our ability to beat them proved to be well founded as we coasted to a comfortable aggregate win which set up a semi-final against another German opponent. RB Leipzig are a completely different animal however and this was shown when we lost the 1st leg. I knew we were going to need another special performance to turn it around and we managed it to get to the final.

On paper, it should have been easier to beat Bayern Munich than RB Leipzig given that they finished runners up in the Bundesliga to RB Leipzig but actually this game was much more difficult. We had a number of injuries with our first choice right back Kobrowski missing, our first choice deep lying forward Schmitt out and our first choice left back Burgel still suffering from an arm injury with him having to use protective equipment to even be select able. Then of course we had players like Tula and Acebal who weren't really match fit which all added to the headache of picking a side for the final.

Therefore it was to my great shock when we scored within 3 minutes. The lead didn't last very long however as within 10 minutes they were level. This had me concerned that the game was too open and if the game was going to become a shooting gallery that we would eventually lose. As a result, I made some tactical changes to try and stifle the game. The first of which being to try and play over their high press so I instructed both my fullbacks to play more direct passes and that seemed to give us more possession and a bit more of a foothold in the game.

That change seemed to settle the game down and instead of having regular highlights as we faced attack after attack that reduced the number of their attacks down quite significantly. I was successful in turning the game into a war of attrition and that mindset allowed us navigate our way to extra time. I would have been happy to settle for penalties given our decent record at those but I was very pleased when Tula lobbed a header over their goalkeeper after a defensive mistake to give us the lead. We only needed to hold on for another 15 minutes so I locked it down. I took off Tula and brought on another central midfielder in Malesa, changed both fullbacks onto defend duty, the right winger onto support duty and that seemed to work as we they never really threatened to get the equalizer. A brilliant result and an excellent campaign overall, more of the same again please.

UEFA Super Cup - I didn't enjoy this game at all, we went from winning to drawing to winning again then drawing again, back to winning in the shootout only to end up losing overall. A disappointing start to the season but I suppose we got lucky last season so by law of averages we were due a loss.

Domestic Cups - We won nothing which says a lot about the depth of the squad. Given the way things was shaping up in the league and in Europe I had to mainly play weakened sides in the cups to keep our best players fresh for the more important games and the drop in quality was very noticeable. Didn't much care for the two hammerings we took against Glentoran in the two finals we did reach either.

Reserves - A decent season from them and nice to see attendances on the rise.

Under 18s - I was impressed with their performances this season, a very good effort in the UEFA Youth League.

beUaOsj.png

Zbg21uJ.png?1

Squad - Depth is the key going forwards if we are to launch a full scale assault on all the competitions we will be competing in next season. I tried to strengthen in the positions I identified last season as being weaknesses but unfortunately our budget simply wouldn't stretch enough to really do it all. This season we definitely need a quality DR, I had my eyes on one and we could have brought him in January but unfortunately we ran out of time for the paperwork to go through. He will be a target for when the window opens again.

Although Schmitt ST is a decent player I feel that getting in a top quality Deep Lying Forward is a necessity also. I'm very pleased with the core of young players at the club and to see Acebal DL break through into the first team. I really wish there was more quality coming from the youth team but that seems to have dried up as a source for high potential players.  

Transfers - A lot of movement this season which saw a massive profit coming into the club. While it was a shame to lose Pitts MC, Jara ML and Reinaldo DL I felt their respective replacements of Rondinelli MC, Quintero ML and Acebal DL (promoted from the youth team) all performed excellently meaning we didn't really miss them. I'm also excited about a lot of the young talent that was brought in with Malesa MC, Yao MR and Abb DC looking to have bright futures at the club. I don't sense there will be as much activity next season unless I get some outrageously high bids for my best players so I can bring in quality replacements.

R4w6k36.png?1
 
Average Rating: 7.67
The guy is a goal scoring machine and seems to be scoring more and more every season. That just goes to prove that natural position and role suitability should be taken with a pinch of salt. If a player has the right sort of attributes you want for a role and no conflicting PPMs they will shine regardless of what the in game advice is telling you. I am concerned with his market value though, it seems very low for a triple Champions League winning striker and may be temptingly low.
 
MAKbE12.png?1
 
Average Rating: 7.76
Has been excellent in his debut season and was keeping Beis out of the team for a while. I think he has a lot more room to grow and I look forward to seeing how good a player he can become.
 
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Finances - Another comfortable balance, if we can maintain a balance of over £100M that should be enough to build a new stadium when the time comes for it. I really am not happy with the market values of my players though as it is making me have to field a lot of low and insulting offers which do immense damage to the morale of the player involved.

Facilities - Another upgrade to both the youth and training facilities which is great to see. Now it becomes a waiting game to see when it becomes viable for a new stadium to be built. Given that our average attendance is just over 60% of the total capacity of Windsor Park it could take a while although I'm hoping that the Champions League and DBP win will help next season.

Youth Intake - I think I'm going to need to start looking for a youth affiliation to broaden our potential talent pool as we can't continue with a situation where we get at most 1 decent player every decade. I signed everyone but I can't see any of this crop getting anywhere near the first team.
 
beUaOsj.png
 
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League Reputation - Staying in place isn't bad but some more promising news on the nations coefficient front as we close the gap significantly to Scotland while opening up a bit of a gap to the nations below us.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - I don't expect to see much changes on this screen anytime soon.
 
Club European Reputation - Amazing that we are still only 5th after winning the Champions League three years in a row but never mind.
 
Here is how the other N. Irish teams performed in Europe this season:
 
Glentoran - Knocked out in Europa League Semi Final by Arsenal 10-1 on aggregate - Excellent work from them as they not only qualified for the group stage of the Champions League but they had an excellent run in the knockout stages of the Europa League which greatly helped the nations coefficient. Just a shame it had to end in such a humiliating defeat.
Glenavon - Finished 3rd in Europa Conference League group - This was actually quite poor from them as I expected a bit better.
Knockbreda - Knocked out in Europa Conference League Semi Final by Ajax Amsterdam on away goals after 1-1 draw on aggregate - A superb run for them, so close to the final.
Portadown - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 2nd Qualifying Round by SonderjysK 2-0 on aggregate - They could have done better but if you fail to plan you plan to fail, they just weren't fit enough to compete.
 
Llanrhaeadr watch - It came down to a last ditch attempt at survival from them. A draw on the final day allowing them to climb out of the relegation zone when their rival Colwyn Bay suffered a shock defeat against bottom of the table amateurs Swansea University. I'm hoping that surviving this season will allow them to build for next season and stay up more convincingly next time around.
 
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Still using your 442 ?

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On 07/10/2020 at 06:59, dom.march said:

Still using your 442 ?

Absolutely, still working well so see no reason to change it.

 

Something really strange has happened in my save game.

Here is the final league table in the Welsh Premier League for the season I just reported on (2062/2063):

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As you can see, Swansea University an amateur team which just got relegated by finishing bottom has somehow qualified for the Champions League. This shouldn't be happening when you consider Wales position in the nation club coefficient table which gives them the following qualification spots.

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Also, see that Swansea University is playing in the Champions League qualifiers (their fixtures):

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See that TNS are also playing in the Champions League qualifiers (their fixtures):

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I don't understand why this has happened but I hope it isn't a sign that my save game has completely bugged out on me and that I'll need to bring it to an end.

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Posted (edited)

What's going on with my ability to post images? Since the update to the forum I seem to have lost the ability to do so.

I'm glad to see the sidebar being removed and the width of the thread return to full size but I need to be able to post images also.

Does anyone have any ideas of how I can use imgur to post images directly into my posts?

Best Regards

Scratch that...figured it out.

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ENTER PLAYER 2

I thought I'd try something a little different for the final stretch of FM20. Inspired by @Motlhen I've decided to add another manager and run the save with two managers for the time being. The second manager to enter the fray is Marios Ioannou the legendary Glentoran striker who on retiring left football completely. My task is to bring him back and hopefully lead the club which I'm taking over to glory.

Below are his profile and manager attributes:

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As can be seen he starts at a much higher level than the manager I initially added at the start of the save to ensure that he can command the respect of the dressing room quicker. Now that the manager has been created the next question was where should he manage? I flirted with the idea of making him manage another club in the lower leagues of N. Ireland but decided against that, instead a vacancy came up which proved too irresistible in Wales which I just had to take. 

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Llanrhaeadr F.C.

Their previous manager left and after seeing them survive in the Welsh Premier last season I just felt it was the right time to jump in.

History

Founded in 1882, they have a rather unspectacular history with no outstanding achievements of note which is rather remarkable. They have become the archetypal yo-yo club hovering in between the top flight and the regional divisions below having spent most of their time in the 2nd division during the save. They haven't won any major competitions and have yet to grace European football although they did come close to claiming a spot after reaching the Welsh Cup final a few seasons ago only missing out by losing the final.

Trophies Won

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Club

On the face of it this is a small club which were it not for one thing would've barred me from taking in an interest in managing them. They operate as a full time club (along with all but one of the teams in the WPL) which is a great start and have a good squad personality which I'm a fan of. It is shame they haven't got a derby but having two fierce rivalries is good although I can't see either of those two clubs competing in the top flight any time soon so we will only likely meet them in the cup if at all.

Facilities

To cut to the chase, the only reason why I even considered joining this club is the massive stadium. The potential is absolutely immense and if I can turn around the fortunes of this club and have them competing in Europe and the Champions League the sky is really the limit in terms of how huge a club this can become. I'm excited by the prospect of turning this club into a global brand and I feel I can do it at a much quicker rate than in N. Ireland. Even once I get a new stadium with Linfield and expand it to full size it still wont be the size of what this club has right now. Of course they are barely filling the stadium at the moment but even if I can get into a situation where I'm filling say 10% of the capacity that will give me a huge financial advantage over the other clubs in Wales. The other facilities are terrible but with time and money they should improve also.

First Team Squad

There is some good news and then there is some bad news. The good news is that there is a lot of promising young players who look to have a lot of room for growth which bodes well for the future. Another good sign is that quite a few of these players are considered at least decent for this level of football which should make survival in the top flight easier. I'm also encouraged that we don't have a load of loan players at the club which is also a good indication that we should be able to get some rewards financially for the players we develop.

As for the bad news, although a fair amount of the squad is good for the WPL there is also quite a few who are only good for the level below. Another problem is that I want to play with my 4-4-2 but the central midfield looks to be the weakest area of the squad and that will need to be addressed urgently especially when it comes to finding a defensive minded central midfielder. Another worrying sign is the lack of goals among the strikers, we are going to need to see a far bigger contribution from other strikers if we are to realistically stay up again this season. To have our joint top scorers on 4 goals at this stage of the season isn't a great sign.

Under 19s Squad

They don't have reserve teams in Wales which is a bit of a problem if I want to maintain a larger squad. Another issue is the fact that the U19s don't compete in a league for some reason even though they are supposed to (perhaps a bug). I don't see anyone here that I think can help us so we are going to have to wait for the youth intake.

Finances

Of all the aspects of the club which need fixing this is definitely the most concerning. In fact, it is mentioned by the board that this needs to be fixed and they will be judging my performance based on it. As a ray of light in an otherwise dark situation at least there is some room on the wage budget which I feel will be needed to reinforce in certain areas.

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Starting Conditions

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We are outside the relegation zone above Cardiff Met Uni which is an amateur club and Brickfield which were promoted last season. Even though we are 3 points clear (Call it 4 thanks to our edge on goal difference) of the drop zone, this is anything but a comfortable situation and it is clear to see why we are struggling so badly. Simply put we are too leaky at the back and we don't score enough goals. We need to address that situation otherwise I can see us being dragged into a relegation scrap rather than threatening the top 6.

Career Objectives

This is what the board see as the plan going forwards for the next 5 seasons.

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I have to say that I'm comfortable working within the expectations. Playing high tempo, attacking football I think I'll be able to achieve with my 4-4-2 and I'm already working within the wage budget so that isn't a concern either. All that being said the main thing which I know keeping my job hinges upon is staying up this season. Fail to do that and I'll likely be fired so all my effort will be focused on getting to a point of safety as quickly as possible. I am slightly concerned about the expectation to repair the club's financial damage though as I can't see how I can do that without European football. Getting that this season would require us to climb a massive mountain to achieve but I suppose I can take some encouragement from the fact that this club came with 90 minutes of qualifying for the Europa Conference League a few seasons ago. If we can get some favourable draws in the Welsh Cup then who knows what can happen.

As I've decided to embark upon this journey of managing 2 clubs at once then I will be trying to make my end of season reviews more concise. It will mean less detail provided but I feel it needs to be this way in order to keep my motivation levels high by keeping the workload sensible. I have to say that I'm more excited to start my time with Llanrhaeadr than at any of the previous clubs in this save given the immense potential that exists at the club, can't wait to get started. Wish me luck as I'm going to need it!

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Awesome news! Good luck balancing both responsibilities. Tip: 3 managers is definitely too much! 

It'll be interesting to see how long it takes before you end up facing yourself in a European competition. Have you got any idea what you'll do if that does happen? IR Skin maybe? 

 

How are Swansea Uni getting along? Are they (or someone else) entering the ECC every year or was it a one off?

 

Also, you weren't the only one facing image-size issues, there were a few remarks made across the forum & eventually things were returned to normal. 

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On 16/10/2020 at 15:15, Motlhen said:

Awesome news! Good luck balancing both responsibilities. Tip: 3 managers is definitely too much! 

It'll be interesting to see how long it takes before you end up facing yourself in a European competition. Have you got any idea what you'll do if that does happen? IR Skin maybe? 

How are Swansea Uni getting along? Are they (or someone else) entering the ECC every year or was it a one off?

Also, you weren't the only one facing image-size issues, there were a few remarks made across the forum & eventually things were returned to normal. 

Thanks for the comment. Yeah, I agree 3 managers would be too much as even 2 has dramatically increased the number of fixtures and this is without playing in Europe with one of the teams.

I can't see us playing against each other in Europe anytime soon, if it comes to that then I'll have to cross that bridge when I come to it. 

With regards to Swansea Uni, they just got promoted back up into the WPL, are still amateur and did reasonably well in the qualifiers. It looks to be a one off which is good as it seems like a bug.

I may have been a bit overly optimistic with how quickly I was going to be able to turn around Llanrhaeadr as I didn't show the level of debt that exists at the club.

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That is a serious obstacle for us to make progress especially when I can't sell any players for any real money, getting into Europe is going to be a real challenge. Restrictions in the amount of loans I can have in the club per season to 4 is also another big issue. I think my only way to make any money is to host friendly tournaments but given our low reputation I think it's going to be difficult to attract any top clubs to play us.

I had a takeover bid for both clubs but they both collapsed which is devastating for Llanrhaeadr as we plunge deeper and deeper into the red. Season reviews coming up.

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Linfield F.C.

SEASON 2063 / 2064

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Try to make it 4 in a row in the Champions League while winning the DBP more convincingly.

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League Table - Last season was close, this was a complete blowout. It still took until the first matchday of the split for us to clinch it but we really scored goals for fun this season. Elsewhere in the DBP, Ballymena United beat Portadown in the UEFA Conference League playoff final on penalties while Ballinamallard United stayed up thanks to a 3-0 aggregate win over Donegal Celtic in the relegation playoff. Institute will be joining the top flight next season after winning the Championship title.

UEFA Champions League - There is no such thing as a stress-free lifting of old big ears but this was actually relatively smooth compared with previous wins. The moment of biggest worry was the first knockout round but once again our steely resilience came to our rescue to enable us to squeeze by on away goals. 4 in a row is quite an achievement, can we make it a fantastic 5 next season?

UEFA Super Cup - This was a poor performance and we rightly deserved our loss. That's 2 losses in a row, hopefully, next season we can avoid making it an unfortunate hat-trick.

Domestic Cups - A solid season in the cups where we went deep in all of them. I was very disappointed with our performance in the League Cup final though.

Reserves - Not a great season from them and I expect to see better next time around.

Under 18s - They did okay domestically but were pretty poor in Europe, hopefully, this isn't a sign of things to come.

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Squad - I feel we have a good amount of depth in the squad which enabled us to sustain a challenge in all the competitions we competed in which was pleasing. The big challenge now is trying to improve the quality within the team which has become very difficult given the money needed to attract the standard of player we need. Millar DC retired at the end of the season so will need to be replaced. I'm also rather concerned that we are overpaying some players. The most stark of those instances being the difference between the wage of El Sheshiny and Reeves. El Sheshiny is earning more than twice what Reeves is getting which is not reflected in the stats of the two players. 4 goals for El Sheshiny and 55 goals for Reeves pretty much tells the story.

Transfers - I had to go big this season and as a result ended up with a massive transfer deficit. Kusk DR was the guy I was looking to bring in on January deadline day last season but it failed meaning I had to spend more in the summer window to land him. For the most part I'm happy with the signing as I feel he should be able to lock down his position as our first choice right back for a long while. I had to pay for the transfer in installments much like with Hassan DL but there was no other way I was going to be able to bring in this level of quality without doing so as the clubs wanted ridiculous upfront fees we couldn't afford.

Hassan DL smashed our transfer record but I'm satisfied with the signing given his versatility down the left flank. I'm pleased with the other signings which all added depth but was disappointed to lose Campello GK as I felt his replacement Obermajer GK is a significant downgrade. There appears to be a real lack of top quality goalkeepers available which is worrying, the goalkeepers which would have been better are all going for prices in excess of £100M and that is beyond our reach financially. I wouldn't expect to see such spending again as I am painfully aware of how little of this expenditure we are likely to be able to recoup through sales.

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Average Rating: 8.10
I needed him to step up after the departure of Beis and he certainly did that to get one of highest average ratings I've seen so far in the career. He was brilliant and unbelievably consistent considering the number of games he played. He has become an indispensable part of the squad, just a shame that isn't reflected in his market value which is temptingly low.
 
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Average Rating: 7.91
Another excpetional player who I'd consider to be world class at the tender age of 20. He has been attracting offers for around £60M but if a club wants him they are going to have to dig a lot deeper than that, I want at least £120M for a player of this quality.
 
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Finances - The balance took a hammering thanks to our transfer exploits but I don't expect to see that happening next season. I was comfortable to do that considering that we are still nowhere near needing a new stadium. Next season the case will be different as I look to build up the bank balance in preparation for a new stadium as I feel the ground is starting to get filled more regularly. There was no problems with the FFP contrary to the red warning sign shown.

Facilities - Both the training and youth facilities will be getting upgraded and it was nice to see the rise in average league attendances.

Youth Intake - Signed the lot but they aren't very good.
 
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League Reputation - Just when I had settled myself into the notion that we were going to be stuck below Scotland in the nations club coefficient forever we get this message:
 
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Absolutely brilliant, now comes the challenge of trying to keep it.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - I'm hoping that the addition of a 3rd Champions League spot for the season after next can spur the teams below us on.
 
Club European Reputation - Still not on top but getting really close now.
 
Here is how the other N. Irish teams performed in Europe this season:
 
Glentoran - Knocked out in Europa League 2nd Knockout Round by Rennes 4-2 on aggregate - Great work from them to reach the Champions League group stage where they did okay to clinch 3rd. Not quite the heights of last season but not too bad at all.
Glenavon - Finished 4th in Europa League group - They drew a group where I thought they were good enough to have at the least finished 3rd but didn't perform.
Knockbreda - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 4th Qualifying Round by EA Guingamp 3-2 on aggregate - Quite disappointing after the run last season.
Ballymena United - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 4th Qualifying Round by AEK Athens 2-1 on aggregate - A tough draw but maybe they might have done a little better.
 
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Llanrhaeadr F.C.

SEASON 2063 / 2064

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Stay up at all costs otherwise this adventure could be very short lived. Our only possible route into Europe will be the Welsh Cup, we would have to get exceptionally lucky with the teams we draw but who knows in a cup anything is possible.

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League Table - I can breathe out a huge sigh of relief as our late season form saved us but this was unbelievably tough. Going into the split we were in 11th and headed down. The early post split fixtures didn't provide much solace either as we remained in 11th with 5 games to go but we found some great form to pull us out of the mire. The worrying part is that I can't see it being any different next season as our financial predicament is squeezing our budgets making it very difficult to improve the squad. Elsewhere in the WPL, Llandudno beat Haverfordwest County 2-0 in the Europa Conference League playoff final while Colwyn Bay and Swansea University will be joining the top flight after winning the Cymru North and Cymru South titles respectively.

Domestic Cups - I didn't play any of the Nathaniel MG Cup games but did play all the Welsh Cup games. We started our Welsh Cup campaign well beating lower league opposition but I sensed that we would need luck on our side when it came to the draws going forward to stand a chance of going far. When we drew TNS in the next round I knew the game was up and even though we fought hard our shambolic defending gifted them 2 goals in the first 15 minutes to pretty much finish us off.

Under 19s - It's a real problem that we aren't playing in a league even though I believe one is programmed into the game. This is going to make keeping players fit all the more difficult, I really hope that this situation resolves itself.

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Squad - Among all the doom and gloom, there are at least some encouraging signs to hold on to. I managed to extend the loans of 2 of the best players in the squad with Gibbs ST and Burrows DR set to stay another season. Another positive is that there is a lot of untapped potential in the team so a lot of these players will become better with game time. The major stumbling blocks going forward are quite serious though. A reduction in the wage budget means that I'm going to struggle to bring in players. This is damaging because players that I could bring in on a free aren't going to sign on low wages while it also has ramifications on who I can look to bring in on loan. Without a significant scouting budget I'm not going to be able to find those top quality (no wage contribution) loans from bigger clubs to fill those final 2 spots for loans next season.

Money is a huge problem, with money I could really improve the squad with pre-contract agreements but without it I'm going to really struggle. Tough times ahead for sure and I'm really concerned about our defensive line which was bordering on comical in some games with regards to the goals we were conceding. I'm going to have to dig deep to find a way out of this mess.

Transfers - I did manage to strengthen the squad a bit which probably was enough to keep us up but we are going to need a lot more to start making strides up the table or at least to survive more convincingly. I was happy to bring in Hutton MC who was good in the centre of the park alongside Litchfield MC which helped solidify one the weakest areas in the squad. Hegarty MR was an excellent signing who looks to have a lot of potential which is great. There was a lot of decent signings but the transfer windows were a little bit hit and miss if I'm being honest. I think the squad is too big at the moment and will definitely need to be trimmed to at most 2 players per position. I think quality over quantity has to be the guiding principle to the transfer dealings moving forward.

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Average Rating: 7.17
He came in and did a great job on the right wing. I'm encouraged by what I've seen from him and the way he has developed this season. The potential resale value is also another positive which I'm hoping will only increase if he keeps putting in consistently quality performances.
 
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Average Rating: 7.19
He started slowly but once he got into his stride he proved to be the goalscorer we were desperately seeking and likely kept us in the league. For that reason alone it was vitally important that we kept him for another season. Considering that we're not paying a penny toward his wages this is a great deal for us. It gives us the confidence of knowing we have a consistent goalscorer which should give us time to bed in a pre-contract agreement striker that will arrive in July next season.
 
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Finances - We are in serious trouble people. The only direction this balance is going is down and until we can start to get into Europe on a regular basis we have no real income to service our debts. I'm going to try and schedule friendly tournaments and see if that will raise some funds but I'm not overly optimistic that will help all that much. That is why I was so gutted that the consortium that wanted to buy the club pulled out as we could have really done with consolidating some of our debts. The chairman still wants to leave so I'm hoping that we can get a serious investor as a new owner. The potential is definitely there we just need the backing to start the process of building the club. I could really make significant improvements to the squad even if I only managed to double the wage budget with free agents but I can't see that happening anytime soon so I'm just going to have to work with what's there.

Facilities - The lack of money is going to prevent any upgrades for a long time, even to junior coaching and youth recruitment. We are filling 1% of our ground on average, we have a long way to go to build the fan base.

Youth Intake - Total garbage and until we can start improving the money we invest into the youth this is likely to be case for quite some time.
 
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League Reputation - Coming into a league which is on the rise which is a good sign. I was even more encouraged when I saw the following message:
 
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Still no places in the Europa League but a rise of 5 places is quite impressive.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - Our reputation is a fair reflection of where we stand within the country, We haven't established ourselves in the top flight as yet and are miles behind the teams competing for European places. TNS are going to prove a real challenge to displace as the top dog in Wales.
 
Club European Reputation - As we have never appeared in Europe we aren't on this list.
 
Here is how the other Welsh teams performed in Europe this season:
 
TNS - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 2nd Knockout Round by FCSB 3-1 on aggregate - Considering who they had to beat to get that far in the first place I thought they might have stood a chance of reaching the quarter final but it was not to be. A great campaign though which is helping the nations coefficient immensely, we have a lot of work to do to catch up to them.
Cambrian & Clydach - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 3rd Qualifying Round by Viktoria Plzen 6-4 on aggregate - A decent run to win through 2 rounds but not good enough to go any further.
Newtown - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 2nd Qualifying Round by Zorya 4-0 on aggregate - Took a real pasting there.
Llandudno - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 1st Qualifying Round by Speranta Nisporeni 3-1 on aggregate - What a waste of a spot, an embarrassing result.
Swansea University - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 3rd Qualifying Round by FC Honka 5-0 on aggregate - They did quite well considering they shouldn't have been in Europe in the first place.
 
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Spoiler

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A very entertaining read. I appreciate that it has validated some of my beliefs regarding tactics and the way to build clubs.

I hadn't considered the idea of trying to improve a small nation's football stature. I may give that a try myself sometime.

Congratulations on your many successes in Northern Ireland! It will be interesting to hear what happens with the 2nd manager in Wales.

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On 21/10/2020 at 19:06, Lodi Lemmer said:

A very entertaining read. I appreciate that it has validated some of my beliefs regarding tactics and the way to build clubs.

I hadn't considered the idea of trying to improve a small nation's football stature. I may give that a try myself sometime.

Congratulations on your many successes in Northern Ireland! It will be interesting to hear what happens with the 2nd manager in Wales.

Thanks for your kind comments. 

Trying to build up a small nation's clubs is the most engaging play style for a career I've found. Having to work without the riches of being in a big league really helps the longevity of the challenge while demanding focus for what is really important in each phase of the building of a club.

At Linfield, I'm in the consolidation phase of trying to keep being successful in order to build the clubs following so that I can work towards building a new ground which will be a game changer for the club and the country as a whole.

At Llanrhaeadr, I'm in the early build phase which is mainly trying to start the process of becoming a 'selling club' by bringing in talented youngsters on the cheap and developing them for sale at a later date. Unfortunately, that process has been complicated having to deal with the financial mess that I've inherited but at least I'm starting to see the process bear some early rewards.    

Next season reviews coming up.

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Linfield F.C.

SEASON 2064 / 2065

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Keep the good times rolling and look to make it 5 Champions League wins in a row.

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League Table - This was tough as a resurgent Glentoran pushed us all the way, thankfully, a final day win allowed us to overtake them to clinch the title. The Big 2 are really in a league of their own, I really hope that Knockbreda can earn a lot from their European campaign to close the gap and introduce a bit more competition at the top end of the league. Otherwise, I expect to see a 2 way tussle for the title every season from now on. Donegal Celtic won the Championship so will be rejoining the DBP after a 2 year hiatus. Dungannon Swifts stayed up thanks to a 5-2 aggregate win over Coleraine in the relegation playoff. The Europa Conference League playoff didn't take place given the addition of a 3rd Champions League spot.

UEFA Champions League - We managed to lift the trophy but it was a lot tougher than last season. I really thought we were going out against PSG but some shocking penalties from our French opponents basically handed us the win. The other games were relatively comfortable but there are worrying signs with the lack of goals we scored (except against Valur where we broke our record). I think retaining the trophy next season is going to be a lot tougher given the quality of player we will lose for free next season. If we somehow manage to make it 6 in a row I think that will be the best achievement of the career so far.

UEFA Super Cup - Always nice to start the European season with a win. 

Domestic Cups - A great season in the cups as we came close to a clean sweep.

Reserves - Won the league but was pretty awful in the cups.

Under 18s - Not really reaching the heights achieved before which is indicative of the reduction of quality coming through the youth ranks.

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Squad - Will be losing some really core players at the end of the season thanks to dreaded pre-contract agreements. Mdluli DC, Guthrie DC and Yao MR will all be leaving on a free which is pretty devastating. I must be more studious in future and ensure that I don't let players get into the final 2 years of their contract. I did get the opportunity to offer Mdluli a new contract but he wanted in excess of £400Kp/w as a starting point for negotiations which we couldn't afford. I'm annoyed by this as he accepted less than £200Kp/w for his new club which I would have been willing to offer him. All of this means I'm going to have to look to bring in a similar level of quality into the team without having the money coming in from the transfer to fund it which is going to prove exceptionally difficult.

Transfers - After last seasons spending spree I needed to reign it in this season which I managed to do. I wasn't too bothered with losing Radovanovic ST as he hadn't really been a first team player for a while and the deal represented a good profit for the club. Nugent DL was only ever a backup player so I was happy to generate a profit on him also.

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Average Rating: 7.84
A slight decline from last seasons average rating but still a remarkably consistent player throughout the season. A pivotal player in our European run.
 
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Average Rating: 7.77
I really like having 2 top quality options to play in the central midfielder (support) role. Having that ability to rotate between them really was important in our success this season. Having the confidence of knowing that I didn't need to overplay Malesa as I had an excellent player in Flores to bring in meant Malesa was fresher for the bigger games which was a huge benefit.
 
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Finances - This is a worrying balance to end the season with as I don't see how I replace the quality of player we are going to lose with the transfer budget given. It's also concerning to see that we are likely to fail the FFP next season which is going to mean more belt tightening is required. I can't wait to get El Sheshiny ST off the wage bill next season, that wage is really wasted on him and he really isn't deserving of being the highest paid player in the squad for the ability he has. The most concerning thing of the whole season however is the fact that we had a takeover and they invested over £25M into the club and yet we still find ourselves in a tricky spot financially. Hopefully, they will chip in with some more cash going forward.

Facilities - State of the art facilities across the board which is great as that means I can redirect money away from that area for a few seasons. I am a bit perturbed by the fact that our average league attendance actually fell for the first time in the newly expanded Windsor Park. More troubling was the fact that the ticket prices remained the same which indicates to me that even after the success we have sustained over the last few seasons that our fan base isn't growing. I really hope that isn't the start of a trend and that it gets reversed next season or we are going to really struggle to justify the building of a new ground which is so pivotal to the next stage of developing the club.

Youth Intake - This was actually a lot better than previous seasons with a few decent players there. I can't see any of them breaking through to the first team like Acebal DL (who is now considered a wonderkid, the first to come through our youth system) but some may surprise so I signed them all up.
 
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League Reputation - Holding firm and keeping that 3rd Champions League spot is really all that matters. Breaking into the top 5 looks an impossible task at this point.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - I really hope that Knockbreda can have a decent run in Europe next season as the gap between the top 2 and the rest is becoming too large. Given I want to build up the nation as a whole the other clubs have to close that gap.
 
Club European Reputation - At the top at last, staying there is going to be really tough.
 
Here is how the other N. Irish teams performed in Europe this season:
 
Glentoran - Knocked out in Europa League 2nd Knockout Round by Watford 3-0 on aggregate - They are managing to stay on our coat tails thanks to the money they are earning getting to the Champions League group stage every year which is great to see. Watford had too much for them but if they can keep this level of consistency in terms of earning coefficient points I have confidence that we can hold onto our 3rd Champions League qualification spot for longer.
Glenavon - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 2nd Knockout Round by Zenit on penalties after a 2-2 draw on aggregate - That was unfortunate for them, I can see them becoming a Europa League team if Knockbreda continue their improvement and start to consistently finish 3rd in the DBP, if they want to prevent that then they need to really invest in their squad over the summer.
Knockbreda - Finished 4th in Europa Conference League group - Getting to the group stage provided a good shot in the arm financially which probably helped them in the DBP.
Ballymena United - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 2nd Qualifying Round by Radnik 4-1 on aggregate - A really poor performance and a deserved loss.
 
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Llanrhaeadr F.C.

SEASON 2064 / 2065

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If last seasons is anything to go by then we are in for another season of struggle where we would do well to stay up again. Given the worsening financial situation that is strangling the life out of the club, I'm going to have to find a way to do more with less which is going to make this coming season exceptionally difficult. Realistically, our only hope for Europe is winning the Welsh Cup but if we draw TNS again like we did last season we can kiss that dream goodbye.

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League Table - This was totally unexpected and in the end we blew our season objective out of the water which I was delighted about. A remarkable improvement which gives me hope for the future that perhaps this isn't going to be as tough as I first thought. I actually think this is an important inflection point and could mark the start of our time not only as a consolidated member of the top flight but could see us emerge as a major player in Wales a lot sooner than I was anticipating. Elsewhere in the WPL, Bangor City qualified for the Europa Conference League beating Llandudno 1-0 in the playoff final. Connah's Quay won the Cymru North while Llanelli Town won the Cymru South.

Domestic Cups - If last season was unkind in the Welsh Cup this was the exact opposite with us only having to face one team that ended the season ahead of us in the league. Getting past Newtown gave us a huge boost which I felt gave us the confidence to lift the trophy. I cannot overstate how huge a result this is for the club. Our first major trophy secured and also our first ever foray into Europe coming next season which is going to massively accelerate the speed at which I'm able to develop this club. More than the finishing league position I think this win is what is going to change the trajectory of this club going forward.

Under 19s - I don't think the lack of a youth league is going to correct itself so I'm going to have to be satisfied with just playing in friendlies and in the youth cup. In some respects, it could prove beneficial in keeping players fit as now over 19 players can play in the majority of games which in some way makes up for the fact that we have no reserve squad.

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Squad - Bringing in Muller-Vossler ST was an inspired piece of business as he was our best player and I didn't have to pay a penny of his wages. It was imperative that I extended his loan and I have for another season again with no wage contribution. To be fair, I think I managed to make some decent improvements across the board considering how tight the finances were. There is still a long way to go to purge the squad of some of the 2nd division level dead wood but I'm beginning to move them on and mould the squad in the direction I want for the first time.

I will be extending Burrows DR loan once more but can't do that for Hill DC who has signed a pre-contract deal with TNS. I definitely need a lot of new players if I'm going to give the club a decent chance of having a run in the Europa Conference League qualifiers. I need a GK, practically another back 4, a pair of central midfielders, a left midfielder and a pair of support duty strikers. How much of that I'm going to be able to achieve is another question but I'm hoping that any gaps can be filled with loans of which I should have 2 spots.

Transfers - The key signings this season was Rowley ST who developed a good partnership with Muller-Vossler, Pedro ML who has practically been an ever present on the left flank (when not injured), Collins MR who added depth to right wing while often filling in on the left wing when Pedro was injured and Chaplin DL who did a decent but not spectacular job at left back. The process of turning the club into a selling club has already started as I managed to sell Van Driessche DR who barely featured for over £500K in the off season which is great. The aim now has to be to continue bringing in high potential youngsters as much as possible on pre-contract agreements from bigger clubs, develop them and sell them for big profits. That is the key to turning this club around and putting it on a far firmer financial footing.

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Average Rating: 7.05
Had a very good season for us and played practically every game. I would like to bring in some cover for him as I felt that this season we have been too dependent on him. If he got injured we didn't have any good replacement which is a concern.
 
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Average Rating: 7.28
A real coup for the club to have him here and I look forward to seeing how he develops next season. His contract was ending at his parent club at the end of the season but he refused to enter negotiations with us on a pre-contract agreement thinking we could not afford his wages which he was probably right about. At that point, I thought that we would lose any chance of renewing his loan but thankfully, he signed a contract extension with his parent club and they were willing to let him come on loan again to us for next season.
 
This is definitely not the ideal situation of developing players for other clubs but you have to learn to walk before you can run. In the early years, this is the only way we are going to be able to have this quality of player at the club. So for now, I need to keep looking for these sorts of loans until I reach a point where I have a decent enough wage budget to sign this quality of player permanently and thus be able to potentially benefit with incoming transfer fees for developing them.
 
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Finances - This was a real roller coaster of a season with regards to the finances. It started really badly with us plunging deeper and deeper into the red with us going into administration. That was a very concerning time for all involved at the club as I lost control of transfers and was put into the position of having to accept any offer for any of my players. Thankfully, we exited that period relatively unscathed as we didn't lose anybody but it was really a bad time especially when you had players coming to you worried about their futures. It looked like we might get a takeover to get us out of the mire but that didn't happen either and instead what happened was that we reached an agreement with our creditors.

It feels a bit wrong morally but we managed to with another CVA eliminate the majority of our debt and get it down from over £25M to just £4.4M. This is huge for the future of the club as instead of paying over £150Kp/m servicing our debt we now only have to pay £27.5Kp/m which is a massive difference. The board have also been more forthcoming and have started to regularly pump in money to help with running costs as they now seem to be pumping in £150Kp/m. The improved financial situation isn't reflected in the wage and transfer budgets yet but we are definitely in a much better place than we were this time last year. After the sale of van Driessche (of which I got 0% to spend in my budget) I'm optimistic that I can really start to generate some serious cash from player sales which will really help us to keep solvent.

The future is looking a lot brighter and with the potential of prize money from Europe we could quickly become a more making machine if I can play my cards right. The fact that I'm only paying around £150K/a for the running costs of the stadium means I can see that instead of being a drag our finances it becoming a huge asset going forward, imagine if I get to the group stage of the Europa Conference League (Getting through 3 rounds I know is a massive 'if' but with favourable draws not impossible) and draw a big team in the group, the amount of money we are going to generate from the ground is going to be amazing and likely set us up for next few years. After the sale of van Driessche I already have over £1M sitting in the bank balance which is a world away from where we were just a few months ago, looking at our bank balance over £4M in the red and staring into the abyss.

Facilities - I made requests but nothing was granted citing the 'financial status of the club'. I think it might take a little while for the improved financial status of the club to feed into the board requests but I'm sure it won't be too much longer before I'm able to start working on building the infrastructure of the club. A good run in Europe is all we need to dramatically improve our situation and to start making the huge stadium work for us.

Youth Intake - Really disheartening to see this but then again our youth infrastructure is that of a 2nd division club so is to be expected, I signed everyone up anyway.
 
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League Reputation - The nation seems to be making really good progress even without any assistance from me which will only help us in the long run. 
 
Club Domestic Reputation - The Welsh Cup win has really given us a significant boost although we are still miles away from being considered one of the best clubs in the country. How quickly we can close that gap will depend on how much money we can generate from Europe.
 
Club European Reputation - I didn't expect it this soon but next season we will appear on this list. Our coefficient is likely going to be abysmal so I know we are going to be unseeded all the way through qualification. The only bright spot being that the caliber of team in the Europe Conference League isn't quite as good as the other two European competitions so I'm hoping for some decent draws.
 
Here is how the other Welsh teams performed in Europe this season:
 
TNS - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 2nd Knockout Round by Valladolid 2-1 on aggregate - They should be really happy with their season in Europe and there is no doubt that it is them alone that are dragging the Welsh League up the coefficient table.
Cambrian & Clydach - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 4th Qualifying Round by PAOK 4-2 on aggregate - Came so close to the group stage, a very good effort from them.
Newtown - Finished 4th in Europa Conference League group - An excellent effort from them to get to the group, that inspires me to think that maybe getting there isn't impossible.
Llandudno - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 4th Qualifying Round by Dinamo 4-0 on aggregate - Last season they were terrible, this season they justified why they deserved to be in Europe and had an excellent run in the qualifiers. Overall, a very good season in Europe for the Welsh clubs.
 
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Linfield F.C.

SEASON 2065 / 2066

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Even though we have been remarkably successful, last season saw our average attendances fall which is odd considering that I would expect the size of the fan base to grow. Hopefully, this season we can arrest that slide while getting our 6th Champions League trophy. I'd quite like to win the DBP more convincingly after last seasons close shave.

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League Table - A comfortable win as we never really faced a title challenge from Glentoran. Coleraine beat Donegal Celtic 2-0 in the relegation playoff while Institute won the Championship and will join the DBP next season.

UEFA Champions League - I expected it to be a lot tougher given that we lost some of our best players but actually we managed to win it rather easily to make it 6 wins on the spin. Once again PSG proved to be our toughest opponent but once we overturned the 1st leg deficit I knew we were in with a great chance of lifting the trophy.

FIFA Club World Cup - I'm struggling to see how I can actually win this trophy. Going into the competition with a half fit squad filled with players which can't play because they are on international duty makes this a lot harder than it should be. I've qualified for the next edition in 4 years time so will have to probably think about resting players for the tournament if we are to stand a chance of going deep into the competition.

UEFA Super Cup - Nothing spectacular but got the result we wanted and that's all that matters.

Domestic Cups - There was hopes of getting a clean sweep but fixture congestion towards the end of the season halted that. I wasn't willing to put out a full strength squad knowing I had more important fixtures in Europe and ultimately the back up players weren't good enough.

Reserves - A really poor season from them but at least they did manage to win a cup.

Under 18s - A great campaign from them to come so close to the UEFA Youth League final. I can see them declining in the near future however as the good crop of players matures and gets promoted out of the youth team.

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Squad - I'm actually fairly satisfied with the balance of the team and see no real reason to make any major changes next season unless looking for replacements. Keeping the players happy has become harder given the constant bombardment with transfer offers but I'm not letting go world class players for peanuts so I think that will be the way of it for some time. I'll be glad to see the back of El Sheshiny ST and to get his huge wage off the bill. It's nothing personal against him but he never really justified his position as the highest paid player in the squad, given he's reached his potential already I'd rather invest his wage into a player who can still develop. Reeves ST was excellent as usual and has shown a level of consistency in terms of goal scoring that has been pivotal to our success over the last few seasons.  

Transfers - I made some moves in the transfer market while trying to be careful not to break the bank. We made a loss on the transfer dealings but that was to be expected as we had to find replacements for Mdluli DC & Yao MR who we lost on a free. I don't think we managed to replace the quality of Mdluli but I'm optimistic that by signing two high potential central defenders in Giampaoli & Molina that in time they will become the world class defenders we need. I think Pisani MR was an excellent signing who looks better than Yao and had a brilliant debut season. Baise DL was an expensive gamble but with Gimenez and Burgel leaving I needed to add depth to the left flank and he was the best that I could afford.

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Average Rating: 7.94
He really is a top quality player and provided the most assists in the team once again and has even started to add more goals into his game. All of this consistency while have an unfortunate personality of being unambitious. If anything his lack of ambition might actually be a good thing for us as he is far less likely to be attracted to the bright lights of a club playing in a better league. He is such a crucial player for us that it would need an astronomical sum of money for me to sell as getting a replacement is going to be expensive.
 
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Average Rating: 7.31
I'm so happy to finally see one of our HG talents among the awards. I've been waiting such a long time to see a potentially world class player emerge from our youth academy and in Acebal I finally have it. In a way, it vindicates all the investments that have made but even still it's not a great return for the money spent over the years. I'm really hoping I can hold onto him for a long time as he truly looks like he can become world class, it's just a shame he opted to play for Spain rather than N. Ireland. If he had decided to play for N. Ireland, there is no doubt he would have been one of the finest players the country has ever produced.
 
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Finances - Things have been getting a bit dicey with the finances of late which forced the board to intervene by pumping in £25M in order for us to pass the FFP. I can attribute the declining finances to a number of causes. Firstly, a lot of the more expensive transfers of recent seasons have been done 'on the tick' which means that we have accumulated quite a bit of transfer debt. Thankfully, that should begin to abate as the final payments get paid off for some players this season and the rest will get paid off next season. Secondly, our revenues aren't really rising to the extent I would expect given the success we have been having. Gate receipts have been relatively flat while season ticket sales have only been increasing modestly year on year. Finally, the wage bill has mushroomed to what I consider an unsustainable level. Over £1Mp/w is ridiculous for a club that is so dependent on prize money to keep afloat. 

Even though I may have painted a picture of doom and gloom, I see reasons to be optimistic. The transfer debt will clear soon and I won't be paying in installments on big money transfers going forward so that doesn't become an issue again. I'm also ensuring to keep on top of contracts so we don't lose our best players on a free again by offering new contracts to players entering the last 2 years or selling them. As for the revenues we are generating, the average attendances ticked up again so hopefully we have turned a corner there. I'm also confident that I will be able to lower the wage bill and bring it back to a more sustainable size.

Facilities - Still a way off from fitting the criteria for a new stadium so while I have this window of opportunity I need to be thinking about building up the bank balance in preparation.

Youth Intake - A rubbish intake which was a far cry from last seasons bumper crop. I didn't sign everyone this time and kept to signing players with a least 1 star potential, the rest was released.
 
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League Reputation - Truth be told, I'm happy to keep in position for now. I really need the other N. Irish teams going deep into the European competitions to stand a chance of catching the leagues above.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - Knockbreda bottling 3rd could have big ramifications for them going forward, whether Glenavon can grasp at the opportunity is yet to be seen.
 
Club European Reputation - I think our lead should give at least a couple seasons grace at the top even if we fail to win the Champions League next season provided we go deep into the competition.
 
Here is how the other N. Irish teams performed in Europe this season:
 
Glentoran - Finished 4th in Champions League group - Disappointing that they couldn't at least grab 3rd like they had done in previous seasons to have post-December European football but as long as they pick it up next season it shouldn't be too damaging.
Glenavon - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 2nd Knockout Round by Napoli 2-1 on aggregate - They gave their Italian opponents a good fight but couldn't summon that little bit extra needed to get past them.
Knockbreda - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 2nd Knockout Round by AZ 3-2 on aggregate - Almost made it to the Champions League group stage which would have been huge for them but Ajax proved too strong, a decent campaign overall though.
Portadown - Finished 3rd in Europa Conference League group - An excellent campaign for them which gave them some much needed money.
Larne - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 4th Qualifying Round by Valencia 5-2 on aggregate - Came so close to the group stage which would have been so helpful for them financially but they drew a nightmarish team which blocked their path.
 
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Llanrhaeadr F.C.

SEASON 2065 / 2066

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Last season, we really defied all the odds by finishing in the top half and winning the Welsh Cup when I was anticipating a relegation scrap. I'd quite like to build on that if possible and at least threaten the top 4. Qualifying for Europe again is going to be critical in the process of building the club and we need to secure it through whatever means necessary. As for the upcoming Europa Conference League campaign, I'm not overly optimistic about our chances but how far we can go will depend on who we draw. The prize money from getting to the group stage would be a huge game changer for us but given we need to get past 3 qualifying rounds to get there and the quality of team in the qualifiers I can't see that happening. We just have to hope for the best draws possible and see whether our players surpass expectations like they did last season.

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League Table - I'm ecstatic with this finishing position and the improvement we made. We dramatically increased our points total and the number of goals scored which is great signs that we are moving in the right direction. We didn't have to play in the Europa Conference League playoff which was great and securing European football for 2 seasons in a row is a huge early boost for the club. I'm also encouraged by the fact that with a greater depth of squad I feel we could have done even better. I think having to play low ability youth players in some games cost us a lot of points, had we had better quality rotation options I don't think we would have dropped those points. I'm really excited about the future of the club and can't wait for next season to see how much I can close the gap to the top 2.

Elsewhere in Wales, Llandudno beat Colwyn Bay 4-1 in the Europa Conference League playoff while next season will see the return to the top flight of Airbus UK who won the Cymru North and Cardiff Met Uni who won the Cymru South. The fact that permanently amateur sides are still able to get promoted into the top flight is a little concerning and I hope that by increasing the quality of the top league that will become an increasingly rare occurrence as I seek the make the top flight an entirely professional league.

UEFA Europa Conference League - Well I guess miracles do happen every now and then!! What an unbelievable effort from the players which had me pinching myself every step along the way. I would be being disingenuous if I didn't acknowledge the fact that the draws were unbelievably kind during the qualifying rounds. When you consider we could have drawn Man United or Napoli in the 4th Qualifying Round and we got Kairat who shocked Red Star Belgrade in the previous round it shows just how lucky we were. I don't think such a thing will happen for us next year as that would be akin to catching lightning in a bottle twice. I mean even the group stage draw wasn't bad. Yes, we took a pounding by Hearts but we were able to compete with the other 2 teams which helped us to finish 2nd. 

Going into the knockout rounds I was in a state of shock not knowing what to expect given the incredible run we had been on but I guess luck has to run out at some point. Partick Thistle were just too good for us and killed the tie in the first leg. Getting that far was however playing with house money, we achieved more than I ever thought possible when you look at the squad we have at our disposal. This is a huge breakthrough in the development of the club and the money we gained from this campaign is really going to enable us to strengthen the squad significantly. If last seasons Welsh Cup win was the catalyst this is definitely the achievement which provides the fuel to drive the club forward. I'm really feeling positive about the future now after this campaign.

Domestic Cups - Last season we managed to avoid playing TNS on our way to the Welsh Cup trophy, this time we weren't so fortunate as they knocked us out of both cups. It wasn't a heavy defeat in the Welsh Cup though which at least gives me the confidence to know we can compete with them and this is with a squad which doesn't have much strength in depth. Next season, once we strengthen maybe drawing them won't be the intimidating prospect it was this season. TNS ended up winning the cup which is why we qualified for the Europa Conference League without having to play in the playoff. Had they lost to Llandudno in the final we would have had to win the playoff to secure our place in the Europa Conference League.

Under 19s - They aren't very good and well deserving of their 1st round defeat in the cup.

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Squad - As can be seen there is a lot of work to be done to add depth to this squad. We have a few stars (majority borrowed) but the rest are nowhere near the level we need. I tried to offer pre-contract deals to some of the loan players with expiring contracts with their parent club but the only one who showed interest in signing was Muller-Vossler but owing to a stupid miss-click from myself I accidentally ended talks when he agreed a contract so he will likely be leaving too. There is a lot of rebuilding that needs to be done and I will be looking to the free agent market mainly for signings hoping to bring in some talented young players from bigger clubs coming to the end of their contracts. There really isn't a position where I will not need to bring someone in and hopefully the expanded wage budget will allow the latitude to bring in some real quality.

Transfers - The sale of van Driessche DR was a record for the club but we didn't get a penny of it to spend given the financial situation of the club which was unfortunate. Davis GK was an excellent signing in between the sticks and you could really see the drop off when he got injured for a period. Redi DC was very solid and dependable at the back although he desperately needs a quality partner alongside him. The two loan signings were excellent for us and Herron MC a player that when compared to the other players at Linfield isn't even good enough to be in the first team was brilliant for us. I suppose that shows with most clarity the massive chasm that exists between the two clubs. Finally, I brought in Taylor MC who I wanted to bring in the summer but didn't have the funds to do so. Some of the loans out of the club helped to create some space on the wage budget which allowed me to sign him in January and he has been relatively decent since regaining fitness.

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Average Rating: 7.69
I wouldn't say that he carried us and made our season into what it became but without his goals there is no way we could have done as well as we did. Rowley ST has a far worse goal per game ratio and I don't think he could have delivered for us what Muller-Vossler did. That's why I'm gutted he will be leaving but if he's released from his parent club maybe his journey with us isn't quite at an end.
 
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Average Rating: 7.39
He is another player that I would have liked to keep at the club but alongside Herron MC he refuses to open negotiations on a contract with us citing that he wants to continue developing at his parent club. That's all well and good but there is no way he breaks into the Olympique Marseille first team and also no way that Herron breaks into the Linfield first team. Therefore surely it would make more sense to stay here, develop your game, showcase your talent by playing regularly and then look at some later date to move to a bigger club when you have the ability to fight for a spot in the first team.
 
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Finances - The improvement to the clubs financial situation has been amazing, the prize money from the Europa Conference League group stage has completely changed the trajectory of the club. The almost trebling of the wage budget is going to be revolutionary in terms of the quality of player we are going to be able to attract to the club. Even if we work up to a wage bill of say £40Kp/w that's only £160Kp/m and just over £1.9Mp/a which is perfectly manageable given the balance we have.

We are still considered 'Insecure' financially which is a bit of a concern but once that 'selling club' philosophy really starts to kick into gear I sense we will be able to not only cover our costs but also start to really build up the bank balance. That is why bringing in players for no transfer fee to develop is going to be so critical over the next few seasons. The board are still pumping money into the club every so often but I think given the combination of having a massive stadium and European football means that once this ball starts rolling in terms of becoming a money making machine it is going to be almost impossible to stop especially among the other clubs in Wales who don't have those advantages.

Facilities - I can understand the reluctance of the board to loosen the purse strings and enable us to start improving the infrastructure of the club given how recently we were in a dire financial situation. If we were by some miracle to make it into the group stages in the Europa Conference League again I think that would start to convince the board that I can be trusted more to handle the finances and they would allow me to start making improvements.

Youth Intake - This intake was so bad that my head of youth development couldn't recommend that we sign a single player, I agreed, so disappointingly I released them all. We really need to get into the situation where I can start investing in the youth department as that is a huge way we can help turn this club into a selling club.
 
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League Reputation - I'm happy to see the upward trend continue and to now be playing our part in contributing to it.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - A little disappointed to see us stay on 2* reputation as I think that will hinder our ability to bring in players but at least we are still growing in reputation even though we didn't win anything.
 
Club European Reputation - We appear on this list at last but our coefficient is so low that we will be unseeded all throughout qualifying. If we are to make the group stage again we are going to need a whole lot of luck with the draws once again which probably is asking too much.
 
Here is how the other Welsh teams performed in Europe this season:
 
TNS - Finished 4th in Europa League group - Not bad at all, they really need to make the most of this for the next few seasons as we are coming up fast. Once we overtake them I can't see them catching us up again.
Bangor City - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 3rd Qualifying Round by AA Gent 4-2 on aggregate - A tough draw for them, could have been us though so I guess I'm thankful for that.
Newtown - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 3rd Qualifying Round by Olimpik D 4-2 on aggregate - After last seasons heroics they flopped badly, hopefully, their campaign isn't an omen of what is to come for us next season.
 
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Linfield F.C.

SEASON 2066 / 2067

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Keep winning as much as we can for as long as we can in our quest to develop the fan base enough to justify the building of a new stadium.

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League Table - It looked like we might be headed for an unbeaten season but a loss to Glentoran with a weakened side ended those hopes. Overall, a comfortable win, the 11-1 win over Crusaders being a highlight. It was quite a game to watch as we systematically dismantled them, it might have been even worse considering they went down to 8 men. Results like that go a long way in explaining why next season they will be playing in the Championship. Coleraine stayed up thanks to a 7-4 aggregate win over Carrick Rangers in the relegation playoff while next season will see the return of Ballinamallard United to the DBP.

UEFA Champions League - We struggled more this season than last, especially in the group stage where we had to depend on a final matchday win to clinch 2nd. Once we hit the knockout stage we improved and our home form catapulted us to another final. The final was a tense affair which could gave gone either way but I was pleased it went our way as we lifted the trophy once again to make it an incredible 7 in a row. I can see it being tougher next season as we grapple with losing Tula ST on a free transfer but then again he missed the final through injury and we still prevailed.

UEFA Super Cup - Always nice to start the season with a European trophy, our German opponents didn't make it easy though.

Domestic Cups - I tried my best in all the competitions and we did quite well but if I'm being honest I was rather relieved to get knocked out of the Scottish Challenge Cup at the first hurdle. That really helped lessen the fixture congestion in the early part of the season which is always helpful. I'm not willing to jeopardize progress in Europe for the cups which explains our loss in the Irish Cup.

Reserves - A nice double for them but maybe it would better for the lower league clubs to win the cup competitions now that decent prize money is on offer. That money isn't much for us but could be huge for a club in the Championship.

Under 18s - Not the greatest season in the UEFA Youth League but they did well to clinch the league title.

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Squad - I'm still relatively satisfied with the team but perhaps less so than last season. The team is aging in places and needs a refresh but the funds I need to carry out the rebuild required are severely lacking at the moment. It's not that I'm not getting offers for players (in fact during transfer windows, it's relentless) but the money I would get from selling would usually result in the club making a huge loss. That would compound the problem as then I would need to find replacements which won't come cheap. I'm still mystified as to why the market values of the players are so low considering the reputation of the club, the league and the success we've been having in recent times. I'm at the point where I'm beginning to think that it's not going to be resolved either. At least I'm not losing many players on a free like Tula ST (who wanted an obscene wage to extend his contract) but there is definitely work that needs to be done.

Transfers - The limited funds available are really starting to bite in terms of activity in the transfer market. I was pleased to pick up wonderkid Colombo ST for a relatively cheap price but getting bargains like that is proving to be difficult. I was pleased to ship out Schmitt ST for as much as I did but was disappointed to lose two very promising HG talents to Dundalk and Everton with only compensation fees in return. We definitely need to get more active in the market next season but the prices for the kind of talent I'm looking for is simply unaffordable for us as a club at the moment.

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Average Rating: 7.83
His levels of consistency are exceptional and I hope to keep him around for a while longer.
 
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Average Rating: 7.25
I was very pleased with his debut season and he is looking like a bargain. I just need to supplement players like these with even more, if I can do that then I should have a solid base for the next few seasons.
 
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Finances - Looking a little better but we are miles away from being a sustainable outfit. I tried to cut the wage bill but was forced into extending contracts to try and prevent losing players on the cheap which has meant we actually ended up increasing the wage bill. I'm kind of in a catch 22 situation. I have to try and protect the resale value of my players by keeping them locked into at least 2 years left on their contracts but they will only sign new contracts which see them demand wage rises. I think I'm going to have to start looking at lower CA players with a lot of room for growth rather than buying expensive ready made young talent. I've moved away from my principles of developing high potential youngsters and I need to return to that if I'm ever going to turn around this financial situation and start building the balance for a new stadium. 

Facilities - I don't feel I have fully extracted all the value from having such great facilities. I really should be confident to know that I have the capability of developing players and that should influence what sort of players I go for. I really don't need expensive first team ready players when I can get cheaper players with a lot of potential that I can develop.

Youth Intake - Another poor intake, I took the advice of my HoYD and only signed the players they recommended.
 
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League Reputation - We are catching the top 5 ever so slightly but the gap is enormous.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - Knockbreda need to be careful here as Glenavon are beginning to cement their place as the 3rd force in N. Ireland. They can't keep allowing them access to CL group stage money as a few seasons of that and the gap will soon become insurmountable.
 
Club European Reputation - Holding firm in our position while not really stretching our lead.
 
Here is how the other N. Irish teams performed in Europe this season:
 
Glentoran - Knocked out in Champions League 1st Knockout Round by Barcelona on penalties after 2-2 draw on aggregate - A landmark moment for N. Ireland as two of its representatives reach the knockout stages of the Champions League, they came so close to getting into the final 8 but lost the lottery of penalties.
Glenavon - Knocked out in Europa League 2nd Knockout Round by Vfl Wolfsburg 3-0 on aggregate - They made it into the Champions League group to make it 3 N. Irish teams in the group stage which is another first.
Knockbreda - Finished 4th in Europa League group - Didn't really make an impact unlike the other teams, they will need to improve dramatically.
Portadown - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 3rd Qualifying Round by Cambrian & Clydach 2-1 on aggregate - Gave it a good go but couldn't get past their Welsh opponents who went on to have a great campaign in the competition.
Larne - Finished 4th in Europa Conference League group - A very good season which would have been hugely beneficial financially.
 
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Llanrhaeadr F.C.

SEASON 2066 / 2067

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I'll be satisfied as long as we manage to close the gap to the top 2 in the WPL. I think it's highly unlikely we'll be able to repeat our heroics in the Europa Conference League but I would like to have a good crack at getting to the group stage once again as that would be hugely beneficial to the development of the club.

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League Table - I'm okay with this as a final result even though we ended with the same amount of points as last season. I feel that our chances of competing with the top 2 more closely were damaged in the early season and also with our horrific start to the top 6 phase. It took a long time to settle the squad down which saw some atrocious form but once the team started to gel we started to gain consistency and move up the table. By then it was too late to challenge the top 2 but allowed us to claim a spot in the top 6. I thought we'd have to settle for 4th or 5th after the 1st half of the split but thankfully the 2nd half of the split was much better which allowed us to overtake Llandudno. Llandudno won the Europa Conference League playoff final with a 4-0 win over Airbus UK. Cefn Druids won the Cymru North while Llanelli Town won the Cymru South which will mean at last we will have a fully professional top flight.

UEFA Europa Conference League - If last season was a miracle then I struggle to find adequate words to describe this!! Amazingly, once again we managed to dodge any major teams in the qualifiers which gave us a route into the group stage and a much needed cash injection. I suspected that we might be able to compete for 2nd in the group given the teams we drew so it came as a great shock when we actually finished top. It seems the RNG wasn't finished with us yet and the draws in the knockout stages were especially kind. We weren't favourites in any of the ties but the draws at least gave the opportunity to compete which we took to remarkably make our way to the final making history as the first Welsh team to go that far. I didn't expect us to take the trophy home as Newcastle United were definitely the strongest team we'd faced. We kept it as close as we could but in the end they had too much for us. We didn't really get any breaks (like them having a player sent off) to close the gap in quality so in the end we fell to an expected defeat. I'm absolutely elated with this though, our journey lasted so long that our 1st leg 2-2 draw in the 2nd Qualifying Round didn't fit in the screenshot. A great campaign, I'm hoping though that it won't be too long before we grace one of the bigger European competitions and start to play against the real top dogs of European football.

Domestic Cups - Drew a blank again in the cups but given I have confidence we should be able to at least finish 3rd every season and that gives a place in Europe the Welsh Cup has reduced in significance.

Under 19s - A really good run for the youth team in the cup, so close to the final.

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Squad - We are significantly stronger than we have ever been and with the windfall from the incredible run in the Europa Conference League I can only see us increasing in strength over the next few seasons. We still have a long way to go to compete with the top 2 clubs in the country. Even though our league position may not suggest it we have significantly closed the gap and I can see us making further progress going forward. As I had to basically build an entirely new squad we started slowly but I'm hoping that next season will not see such a dramatic change in the playing squad and that will mean we can offer a stronger challenge. A lot of the players which aren't of the required standard will be leaving at the end of the season owing to expiring contracts. That should free a lot of space in the roster as I look to raid the free transfer market once again.   

Transfers - Pre-contract agreements were the order of the day and it proved to be a fruitful policy. The pick of the bunch being Gibson ST and Ludwig DC who performed exceptionally well. I'm very pleased that I was also able to completely eliminate our dependence on loans.

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Average Rating: 7.54
An excellent season for the top assist provider in the team. It just goes to show that star ratings aren't necessarily everything, even though he is considered one of the weakest players in the squad he contributed an awful lot more than some of the so called better players.
 
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Average Rating: 7.40
An exceptional first season for the club and once he got settled he became an indispensable member of the squad. He was so good in fact that I didn't even miss Muller-Vossler as he not only made up for his goals he actually exceeded them. I sense trouble ahead though given the interest being shown in him and the tantalizing low release clause.
 
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Finances - I'm a tad confused that the clubs finances are still considered 'Insecure'. Considering that the bank balance is far above the debts we hold, this is rather strange as it is inhibiting our ability to make any sort of investments into the infrastructure of the club. Every time I go to the board and ask for anything they deny my requests stating they aren't willing to grant the request due the clubs financial situation. I don't really know how I'm going to resolve this but I guess I'll just have to deal with it. On the plus side, we got a substantial increase to the wage budget which if I play the free transfer market well is going to do wonders for how much I can improve the squad. That's not to mention the money I could possibly accumulate with player sales. It feels like we have turned a corner with the finances which bodes well for the future.

Facilities - I really can't wait to start pumping money into the facilities and begin to have other facilities to match the magnificent stadium that we've got.

Youth Intake - Disheartening really but then again you can't expect quality to come through when your catchment area to look for talent is so small. This is really problematic given we are already struggling with HG requirements for European squad registration. I signed some but only really to make up the numbers as I can't imagine any of these players will develop into anything useful for us on our journey.
 
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League Reputation - Wow, what an improvement that is, made even better by the message below.
 
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Does it get any better than this? All of sudden the stakes have been raised to an unbelievable level. If I wanted to finish in the top 2 before now I'm absolutely desperate to do so now. Getting into the Champions League would be immense for the club and put rocket boosters behind how quickly we can make progress.  
 
Club Domestic Reputation - A rise by 0.5* which is good although I can see it being a struggle to bring in top quality players without having to pay sky high wages.
 
Club European Reputation - Absolutely flying up this table and we're considered the most improved club in Europe. I'm hoping that it should afford us an easier route and give us seeding during the qualifiers.
 
Here is how the other Welsh teams performed in Europe this season:
 
TNS - Finished 4th in Champions League group - It was good for the nation overall to see them get to the group stage of the Champions League but probably very detrimental for us in the short term in trying to become the best team in the country. The money they will have gained is going to be a huge boost for them and if they win the WPL again next season another season in the Champions League group stage is going to give them a significant edge on us financially.
Cambrian & Clydach - Knocked out in Europa Conference League Quarter Final by Shamrock Rovers on penalties after a 2-2 draw on aggregate - A remarkable run from them, we almost had an all-Welsh semi-final which would have been extraordinary but alas it was not to be.
Llandudno - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 3rd Qualifying Round by AIK 2-1 on aggregate - Disappointing but they keep qualifying for Europe which can only be a good thing for them.
 
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  • pheelf changed the title to [FM20] Creating a Northern Irish footballing revolution

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Linfield F.C.

SEASON 2067 / 2068

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I'm not seeing as much progress as I was hoping for with regards to developing the fan base enough to need a new stadium but I'll just have to keep going.

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League Table - An unbeaten season was looking like happening until a final day loss away to Portadown. It looked like our affiliate Banbridge Town might have been coming up after a 1-0 win over Coleraine in the 1st leg of the relegation playoff but a 2nd leg 1-0 loss and subsequent defeat on penalties crushed their hopes.

UEFA Champions League - The group stage is becoming more problematic every season and there was a distinct possibility that we weren't going to qualify from the group this season which would have been a disaster but a final matchday win allowed us to top the group on the head to head record. We didn't convince much in the knockout stages either but we did enough to scrape through each round and clinch our 8th title in a row.

UEFA Super Cup - We won but the difficulty we had proved to be an omen which foretold a season where we would find it a lot tougher in the Champions League.

Domestic Cups - Only the 3 trophies this season, poor St. Mary's. Don't think I've ever had a situation where 2 players have scored a double hat-trick, crazy stuff!!

Reserves - Won the league but was fairly poor in the cups.

Under 18s - A good effort from them in the UEFA Youth League alongside retaining the league title.

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Squad - I've been putting it off for a while but I think the time has come for a rebuild. The difficulty we had retaining our Champions League crown has shaken me from my complacency. There will be a lot players seeing the door next season and young talented replacements brought in. It may mean that we are unable to claim our 9th title in a row next season but in the long term is what we are going to need. I will however not be having a fire sale and will need to generate good money from sales to carry out a successful rebuild.

Transfers - Not much movement this season but we did make a slight loss overall in the deals we did do. I sold Canestrelli MR as he was kicking off about wanting to play in a better league and I didn't want to deal with him any longer. The money raised allowed me to bring in 3 players. The first of which was Samba MR who was a direct replacement who looks decent but we definitely are going to need to bring in someone better. Surdanovic GK was an excellent cheap buy who is considered a wonderkid so I'm delighted about his purchase. Masson ST was overpriced for his ability but I really needed someone to replace the departing Tula and our budget wouldn't stretch enough to bring in a wonderkid. I expect to be busy next season and have already started by accepting a £70M+ offer for Pisani MR.

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Average Rating: 7.90
You may ask why I'm thinking of selling one of our best performers of the season but he's one of the only players we have the prospect of getting decent money for. He was truly exceptional this season which probably explains why other clubs are willing to dig deep into their pockets for him. 
 
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Average Rating: 7.47
He has developed into quite a brilliant player and I have been fielding some large offers for him also. I'm more reluctant to sell him though given he is a wonderkid and has the potential to become even better than he is now. Fully developed he should be easily fetching over £100M.
 
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Finances - We passed the FFP with flying colours but I'm beginning to wonder whether this low balance is influencing our ability to make further progress off the pitch. If we didn't win the Champions League and got the prize money we would have ended the season deep in the red. That sort of a situation doesn't exactly inspire confidence for the board when it comes to thinking about embarking on the huge financial commitment of building a new stadium. I really need to get to grips with the wage budget and bring that figure right down as I've been making really piecemeal efforts to do that over the last few seasons which has actually seen it grow rather than shrink. Short term pain for long term gain has to be the way forward otherwise I can't see us taking the next step anytime in the near future.

Facilities - 27,000 capacity is simply not enough and we badly need a new stadium. We are still shy of the >90% capacity requirement which isn't helping to make our case for needing a new ground. I'm hoping that next season we might be able to break the barrier and exceed 10,000 in season ticket sales. Considering the success we have been having though the growth of the fan base has been poor.

Youth Intake - Not great but when you are comparing them to world class players I suppose everyone will look bad. I signed the ones recommend by the Director of football and the rest were released.
 
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League Reputation - Holding our spot which is fine, I don't think we are going to catch the top 5 although the N. Irish teams have been doing better in Europe of late.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - The gap between us and rest is becoming rather large which is a little jarring.
 
Club European Reputation - Our coefficient is starting to suffer as we aren't winning as many games as we need to pull away at the top.
 
Here is how the other N. Irish teams performed in Europe this season:
 
Glentoran - Knocked out in Europa League 2nd Knockout Round by Newcastle 4-2 on aggregate - Claimed 3rd in their Champions League group and did okay in the Europa League but a poor 2nd leg performance against Newcastle cost them.
Glenavon - Knocked out in Europa League 1st Knockout Round by Olympique Lyonnais 4-0 on aggregate - A real nightmarish draw for them after they qualified from their Europa League group.
Knockbreda - Knocked out in Europa Conference League Semi Final by Vfl Wolfsburg 4-0 on aggregate - A great campaign from them which I like to see.
Portadown - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 3rd Qualifying Round by Luzern 1-0 on aggregate - Just can't seem to get over that hurdle.
Cliftonville - Finished 4th in Europa League group - Made very little impact which is unsurprising as they simply aren't that level, probably would have done better in the Europa Conference League.
 
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Llanrhaeadr F.C.

SEASON 2067 / 2068

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The stakes have been raised with the addition of a 2nd Champions League qualification spot for this season. We have a steep hill to climb to split TNS and Cambrian & Clydach given we finished 10 points behind 2nd last season. I want to give it our all and if we don't make it at least 3rd comes with guaranteed group stage football in the Europa Conference League. Getting to the group stage of the Europa Conference League again this season is imperative to keeping the money flowing into the club which is required owing to the increased wage bill.

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League Table - We have arrived!! This was such an incredible season filled with drama right down to the very last game. I'm absolutely thrilled with this result as up until very late in the season this was looking an unlikely outcome. With TNS and Cambrian & Clydach (C & C) 7 points clear going into the split I was pretty much resigned to having to fight for 3rd with Llandudno but then something amazing happened. They started to drop points!! As the split progressed the lead repeatedly got cut from 7 points to 5 points to 4 points until the penultimate matchday when it had whittled down to 1 point with us having to face C & C away and in 2nd place ahead of TNS. We ended up drawing that game 2-2 which set up a fascinating final day.

We were at home to Colwyn Bay while TNS faced C & C at home. Regardless of what happened in the other game we needed to win to have any chance of winning the title. It was a fantastic opportunity knowing that we could only be denied if C & C also won. Therefore when I saw C & C take the lead after 1 minute in their game I was understandably peeved. That didn't seem to dishearten the players though as they raced into a 3-0 lead within 22 minutes. With our game largely won all my attention was now on what was happening at TNS. Then some great news as TNS equalized midway through the 1st half pushing us up to 1st. Then in the 29th minute some really bad news from TNS as they went down to 10 men.

At half-time, everything was still in the balance. TNS were level which would have been enough for us but also down to 10 men which had me concerned that our win could prove academic as C & C would likely go on to win the game comfortably. Therefore it was a great shock when TNS took the lead in the 67th minute thanks to an own goal. That was an incredible shot in the arm for us and showed that TNS were still fighting for the result they needed to clinch 2nd which was a win. Our players were largely unfocused for the last 20 minutes knowing they had done their bit with everyone's focus squarely on what was happening at TNS. Those last 20 minutes was absolute torture but in the end TNS held on to win which gave us the title.

What an amazing turnaround for the club as we clinch the first Welsh league title in our history. We did it scoring the lowest points total of any winner in history but do I care? Not a chance. Considering the tribulations this club has been through in recent times (in administration, spending long periods in the 2nd division) this is a miraculous achievement and I couldn't be happier for the club and its supporters. As TNS and their era of domination ends, perhaps our win marks the start of our era of domination. The Champions League group stage money coming next season is going to revolutionize this club.

UEFA Europa Conference League - Another brilliant campaign which saw us once again go deep into the competition. The 4-3 aggregate win over KuPS in the 2nd Qualifying Round isn't in the screenshot. Much like our previous seasons in the competition as soon as we faced a team of real quality we got taken apart so I'm glad that we avoided drawing them earlier in the competition. The money from this competition has proven to be invaluable in allowing us to make the progress we have and I have no doubt that the only reason we were able to catch TNS domestically was due to the increased wage budgets that we gained from getting to the group stage every season in this competition. However, for everything there is a season and now it is time to move on to bigger and better things. It has served its purpose and now I hope to never play in this competition ever again. We managed to transform this club with the money from this competition, imagine what can be done with a few seasons of riches from the Champions League, exciting times ahead for sure.

Domestic Cups - We simply don't have the strength in depth to compete in all the competitions but that will start to change going forward.

Under 19s - I really can't wait to start investing in the youth department. I can see them getting trashed in the UEFA Youth League next season but hey at least we are in it.

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Squad - I went a bit overboard with adding depth to the squad which actually proved rather detrimental to us early in the season. I had a lot of players dissatisfied with missing out on European squad registration which meant we had poor morale but as they began to get over it the atmosphere gradually improved and when it really mattered the players were motivated and fighting for each other. I decided to dip once again into the loan market as I simply didn't have enough wage budget to bring in anymore players and I'm happy with their contributions to the team. I will go back to the no loan policy once again next season and I'm very happy to see the market values of a lot of players rise significantly. Once again I will be looking to raid the pre-contract agreement market as I look on building a squad which can compete in the Champions League and more comfortably win the WPL. 

Transfers - There was a lot of activity this season and I would expect a similar level of activity next season. I was disappointed to lose Ludwig DC for his release clause as he was our best central defender and had a lot of potential but I was happy enough with the 2 loans we brought in to cover his loss. I wasn't too disappointed to lose both Durand GK and Coulon DR though as I felt their replacements were far better than them. I actually spent a bit of money for the first time and I'm fairly happy with both Allen ST and McRoberts ST who contributed well and I feel could be sold for profit if it came to that. The star signings were Goddard MC, White DL, Schlaudraff MC and Lloyd DR who were simply sensational in their debut seasons after all arriving on a free. I've already agreed contracts for a couple more of these pre-contract signings for next season and will be on the lookout for more.

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Average Rating: 7.45
A real class act, I played him on the right of midfield as a winger and I played him in the centre and it made no difference to quality of his performances. He doesn't know how to score a tap-in as he scored one screamer after another. A quality goal return which I hope for from a central midfielder. Absolutely delighted with him and would only part with him for a record breaking fee for the club.
 
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Average Rating: 7.08
He was solid at the back and that's all you can really ask for from a central defender. His performances this season do however highlight why I don't like bringing in a lot of loans. I developed him with game time and at the end of it what does the club get in return...absolutely nothing. I hope that the contracted players I'm bringing in will be able to match his consistency next season.
 
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Finances - Still considered 'Insecure' financially. Once that group stage money from the Champions League hits though I expect this to change. Hopefully, we can pay off that CVA next season which is only around £3.7M and be completely debt free.

Facilities - I'm really hoping that once the balance gets over £15M that we can really push forward with building the infrastructure of the club. I'm also hoping that the league win will boost the size of the fan base and that we might start to fill our enormous stadium more, even 3-4% fill on average would be a massive leap forward from the 1% we have now.

Youth Intake - Total garbage, still badly in need of investment.
 
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League Reputation - We continue as a nation to take great strides forward which is made even better by the message below.
 
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Expecting us to come under pressure for our 2nd Champions League spot I was surprised to see us actually move even further up the coefficient table. Having 3 guaranteed group stage participants for Wales is a huge improvement from where we were even a couple of seasons ago.
 
Club Domestic Reputation - We're coming for you TNS!! Another couple of title wins would more than likely do it.
 
Club European Reputation - Could it be that in our first season in the Champions League group stage that we aren't seeded 4th? Possibly, not likely though.
 
Here is how the other Welsh teams performed in Europe this season:
 
TNS - Knocked out in Europa Conference League Quarter Final by Llanrhaeadr 5-3 on aggregate - Really would have loved if we avoided them and played them later in the competition but you have to take whatever draw you get. This tie happened right as the WPL title race was hotting up and I think helped us as we played against a more tired team in the league while we rotated.
Cambrian & Clydach - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 3rd Qualifying Round by Bursaspor 1-0 on aggregate - What a comedown from last season.
Llandudno - Knocked out in Europa Conference League 3rd Qualifying Round by Olympiakos on away goals after 3-3 draw on aggregate - A tough draw and they did give them a good game but in the end couldn't get the winner.
 
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I don't think anyone can underestimate your dedication to this save. Your success and the speed you are playing at has been mind-blowing and the updates have been well written.

I had my attempt at getting NI as high up the league reps as possible and got as far as 9th by 2049. In the end it broke me mentally. Knowing the season was all about the 2nd half of the season when the group stage has been played, made playing the 1st half a chore. I finished up getting to the Champions League Semi-Final narrowly losing to Leeds 4-3agg. The only other thing that stopped me playing on was the constant pitiful offers for the players whether they were interested or not. Do you know that if you get a bid for a player and you don't want to sell and you don't want him to get upset you can switch it to a loan bid and attempt to charge £5m playing fee? The bidding club naturally rejects that and the player is none the wiser. I discovered this too late but it came in handy at the end. These players were of the same quality as some of the elite players i was looking at but needed £100m to be bought.

I don't know how many years you have been doing this, but i'm proper phobic of a NI save now :lol:

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