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Time for another crack at this.



Nation: Macedonia
Media Prediction (Odds): 8th/10 (100-1)
Expectations: Avoid automatic relegation
Pros: Philosophies fit in perfectly with my style. Willing to grant one of my demands. Generous wage budget to offer.
Cons: Very competitive league at present. No particular 'marquee' player in squad.



Maybe, maybe not. You'll soon find out.


Your boy is back, this time in a brand new nation. Dipping my toes back into some Balkan atmosphere, FYR Macedonia calling my name for the first time. Famous for Alexander the Great and Mother Teresa, the club FK Renova (ФК Ренова) have a rather long way to go to reach that level of familiarity. The club are young, only founded in 2003, derived from a footballing school which received massive investments from locals to fully establish themselves as a semi-professional side within the nation. There have been recent rifts since the club formed between Macedonians and Albanians but is seen as 'muti-ethnic', mainly because of their local rivals KF Shkëndija which appeals to mostly Albanians and FK Teteks who lean more towards the Macedonians - Renova find that middleground. They are nicknamed 'Гипсари' or Gypsies/Gypsums and play between all red and all blue kits.


The club are located within a small village called Džepčište (Џепчиште) near the municipality of Tetovo where they play their home games. With a small population of roughly 4000, amazingly only there are less than 100 Macedonians that reside there, the other 99% are Albanians/Kosovians, no surprise as the village lies only 12km from Kosovo border. The Šar Mountains and stand between the two, crossing into as far as northeastern Albania with it's 1600km areaspan. One of the village's most noticeable landmarks is the Macedonian Orthodox Church pictured above.


Renova groundshare with current Macedonian champions KF Shkëndija in the formerly titled Gradski Stadion Tetovo, however a massive renovation project in 2015/2016 by Shkëndija's owners Ecolog International renamed the stadium to Ecolog Arena. Originally opened in 1982, the stadium only held one international friendly between Macedonia and Albania in 1994 with a 5-1 win for the Macedonians. A further €7.7m project towards 2017 further expanded the stadium to facilitate more international spectacles, rising to a 15,000 capacity. The surface is grass based with all but one stand being open air.


FK Renova's history has been on a positive trajectory in the early years, sealing consecutive promotions to reach the top flight in 2005 to where they've cemented themselves to this day. Between 2009 and 2013 have been the most joyous years for the club, winning the Prva Мakedonska Fudbalska Liga title in 2009 for this first and only time in their history by five points ahead of Rabotnički, marred by a rather disjointed and controversial league season under the hood. Two years later in 2012 they lifted a first Kup na Makedonija, defeating Rabotnički 3-1 in the final. The furthest European adventure came in 2011, entering the Champions League 2Q Round, but fell short to Cypriot side Omonia. Recent years haven't been so luxurious, settling for midtable finishes. FM years seem to have carried that onwards, making them somewhat of a yo-yo side but bouncing back from the 2. MFL swiftly.



Entering the dressing room to my surprise, not a bad set of players...but definitely pale to what Infonet have to offer now. While our depth may not be so copious, there are plenty of exciting youth prospects relishing in being selected into the senior squad. Plenty of experienced heads too to offer that balance, and a random Venezuelan token thrown into the mixture. Should be interesting.

KEY PLAYER - Sasa Huremovic - M(C)


Definitely our strongest central midfielder, an area which requires a major revamp. The Bosnian's recent end of season form hasn't exactly been glowing neon green but I'll allow some overhead as he's only 22. Has got the basics to a solid playmaker, but his lack of pace and positioning does leave me a bit nervous. Hope to get him purring for the start of the season.


Not the only position we need to strengthen, how timely our current assistant manager decides to piss off north to Kosovian side Ferizaj. Literally had an induction in the morning and by dusk he disappeared.



They wanted avoiding the drop, so I took it up a notch by saying we'd make it to mid-table. Was that silly? Just wait until they see my transfers with that extra allowance of funds. Quarter finals of the Macedonian Cup is achievable as there looks to be only two obstacles to reach it, first is a non-league side from what I gather. Will I make myself Nealon the Great? You're right, probably not.






A busy transfer window already, however I can only take credit for three of them...and yes you can guess I've been rummaging through my closet to find old friends to join me.


Martin Bastig - GK - free transfer from Infonet

Didn't take a lot of persuading to obtain Bastig's name on a one year deal. Relegated to number two at Infonet but assured to be numero uno at Renova. The 33 year old wise, tall 6'5" figure can still flourish with his strong reflexes, vertical leap and solid agility. Not saying he'll keep clean sheets but definitely can keep the goal tally down as we aim to galvanise our back four.


Tomas Juska - D(C) - free transfer from Infonet

And here's one of them. Tomas has completely fallen out of favour at my former employers and much like Bastig he could hardly refuse working with me again. Easily the best centre back I could find who was willing, just entering into his early thirties with strength of 17 and his HMT still at a desirable level. Was never really mentally well-rounded but definitely a starter considering the subpar options in reserve.


Kevin Petersoo - D(R) - £1k from Flora Tallinn

Finally, one from Flora. Kõiv declined the reunion, so Petersoo was the best alternative. Mentals are perfect for this level including such strong determination to perhaps influence the young'uns. Bit sluggish so we won't push very far forward but nevertheless a sturdy option.



Meh, preseason came with teething problems as expected but a credible draw to former Kosovo champions Ferizaj. Gluts of goals aren't really our forté.


The wonderful crowd at Betfair decided to lump up the odds, doubling to 200-1 to finish top. Fair enough, but are you seriously writing off our early chances already with me in charge?




Milano Kumanovo kickstart our cup campaign. Non leaguers just as I predicted.





Surprised Pelister with a bolt from the blue in a game we barely got a foothold in. The favourites didn't take long to open the scoring after a long ball carved right through us to allow Seferi easy passageway. Knuckling under the pressure, we actually retrieved something from the game when Panovski tried his luck from range which the keeper had no answer to. Pelister will be fuming, but you have to take your chances.



I'm actually lost for words, what a huge headstart this could be. That man Panovski at it again, this time with an even weaker effort which somehow trickled over the line to stun Makedonija before the break. Temperatures rose in the second half with a flurry of yellows, one too many for Skando to reduce us to ten. Thinking it would make the game tougher, we held the ball so well and resulted in us scoring only six minutes later from Rumen Tsvetanov to lift the fans into raptures. Fidan Progni reduced the lead on the counter and so found the net again in injury time - sadly for him only the side netting. Huge win in a game we expected an odds-on defeat.



All square at Rabotnički to maintain our unbeaten start. Can't say there were many talking points, only an early red card for them after the restart. Even with the man advantage we consolidated ourselves, but a late Rabotnički chance could've ruined it but Nenov's effort went straight at Bastig.



Three draws from four, paving over what was such a disappointment in us going forward. Sileks definitely had the better of us, their lone striker Noveski forced Bastig into a top drawer save while we barely made it into their final third. Frustrating for both sides, however we're much the happier with the point.


Just when our defensive framework was taking proper shape.



No shame in this defeat (despite being local rivals), Shkëndija are proper heavyweights. So much so that their only goal came from a central midfielder Ramadani finishes like an experienced number 9, grabbing his sixth goal this season already with a left footed screamer which not even David De Gea could get to. All about damage limitation as we weathered their massive storm but only one got through. No need to ask us about how we did, in desperate need of creativity and a capable striker.



Slightly gutted about this one, definitely a winnable game but settled for yet another draw. Lying in eighth place, it didn't stop Bregalnica hitting the front when Georgievski finished smartly at Bastig's near post. To our credit we rustled up the response from Damian Fabianski, orchestrating the free kick that found it's way back to him to dribble his way through and unleashing venom. Final 45 minutes were no great shakes.




Troublesome when we can't put away non league opposition with a weakened team. What's even more concerning is that MK squandered the best two chances of the game, blazing both of them over when put through. Venezuelan Villavicencio had a clear chance also, problem was he got his angles wrong and drove it into the side netting. Went down to penalties, actually scoring all five for a chance with MK denied by Kalambov in net to just about make it through.



Rabotnički over two legs in the next round. Doable but we're far from favourites.



Draw specialists it seems (five out of seven to be exact) but considering our tough opening month of games, I'm thrilled so far. The stunning win over Makedonija gives us a huge lift in the early stages and defeat to Shkëndija as previously mentioned is nothing to be ashamed of. Goals are very few and far between, defensively looking good - mainly because Bastig is playing brilliantly between the sticks.



Midtable is the objective, so far so good in sitting sixth. Not far off the top positions should we start overachieving and with the bottom three sides still not registering a win yet it's looking good. Long way to go though, let's not count our chickens just yet.



Winless Skopje and Shkupi coming up to potentially ramble up a few more wins, Vardar and Pelister surely there to put us down. In between lies the first leg of the cup with Rabotnički at home.

This is good reading Nice with a new club in a new country Looking forward to this
@b0nb0n - Glad you're still enjoying my journey!





Deadline day came and went, acquiring two very capable strikers to perhaps inject a few more goals into this team.


Mikko Syväjärvi - ST(C) - free transfer from Kalju

Considering our strikers have no finishing above 10, Mikko's 15 finishing should almost guarantee success. Being highly critical, first touch and off the all are so-so but good for the division while his anticipation might scupper him slightly. Still at only 20, plenty of time to improve and could be the simplistic poacher we need for goals.


Sokol Bregaji - ST(C) - season long loan from Sileks

The more well-rounded figure to support Mikko up top. Far more composed and anticipated despite his standard level of finishing. The big selling point is his perfect flair to sprinkle his magic on forward plays. These two combined should work very well side by side and perhaps grab us a few more wins on the board.


Slightly worrying that we're now down to just Petersoo at right back for a couple of weeks.




Talk about instant impact, front two combined delightfully to claim a rather convincing win over Skopje. Syväjärvi set away Bregaji to rally home the first before we fell asleep at the back, allowing the home side to respond quickly. Bregaji made sure his first wasn't a fluke with an outstanding darting solo run on the counter and maintained his composure to put it away to restore the lead. If that wasn't good enough, he assisted Fabianski late on for the third to ensure us of a much needed win. Solid debut!



In a meeting that had Vardar written all over it, we had the final laugh to rescue a big point. A goal in the first twenty minutes should have had Vardar hungry for more, but instead it gave us huge encouragement. Bregaji spurned two big chances in either half, but one unlikely hero stood out from the shadows - Tomas Juska. Needed two bites to beat GK Petrov at his near post to take a very unlikely point against the Macedonian champions.



Should be nicknamed the cat burglars, because Pelister have been completely robbed. Didn't have a sniff in the game, instead trying to swat away a dominant Pelister attack. Goran Mitrev had a mixed performance; breaking the deadlock on 65 minutes from a powerful header, but ended up bottling two huge efforts which would have buried us alive. A tactical sub preluded to the most unlikely of equalisers, Damian Fabianski coming on in the 80th and scoring two minutes later with a sublime left boot on the half volley from Lleshi's cross. Frustrated them first game, now they must be livid.



Proper firecracker of a game this, so open and end to end, importantly on the right end of the scoreline. Valon Shehu opened his account for the season, drilling in Bregaji's pull back into the box. Shkupi didn't make it easy for us, stinging us with a counter attack to level it up going in at half time. A well executed corner restored the lead, centre backs Juska and Duro combining for a headed goal. The game swung our way afterwards with Shehu replicating his first goal to spawn a two goal win over the relegation fearfuls.


Certainly not what I was expecting when taking this job.




A major managerial milestone, settling into my 1,000th game as manager. Should get this framed.


As for the game...in a word - shocking to watch. We'll take it though.



Still a little bit draw happy but no defeats this month. Bregaji is a breath of fresh air in this team, bringing much needed excitement to our forward play. Nothing from Mikko so far, but patience needed.



I mean this makes for surprising viewing, only a point off the European places at this early stage is marvellous. Still only that one defeat, and that was to the side at the top of the league. Not even thinking about relegation this year.



A fine blend of teams next month starting away to Makedonija GP before consecutive meetings with Rabotnički. Shkëndija are the only side I fear, while Sileks and Bregalnica I feel quietly prepared.

Awesome read mate I'll be following! Just a question, what's your game speed like this far in to the game?
@bigmattb28 - Thanks man, hope you're enjoying it! My game speed is relatively fast because on my i7 processor but everything else is just basic. All about persistence.






Even contest ends even. Makedonija's gameplan was to screw us over from set plays, Stojanov duly succeeding via a free kick. Loan striker Bregaji continues to impress with a quickfire equaliser to go in level at the break. Both sides squandered sitters on the flip, Bastig saving brilliantly from Todorovski while Duro's free header was too tame to trouble their keeper. Syväjärvi remains without a goal since his arrival, rattling the post late doors to let them off the hook.


FFS, only would happen to me. There goes any meagre hopes of breaking into the top four or five.



It was the second of two meetings in three days against Rabotnički, this one hurting more than the first. I dare say we bossed the first half, Syväjärvi fluffed a one on one and Panovski tested the woodwork. The visitors ramped up the pressure afterwards with Bastig standing strong to deny three key chances before the nail was put in our coffin. 89th minute corner swung one way and another, failing to clear it properly allowing Georgiev to smash in the winning goal. Harsh on our defenders but can't deny that the better side won.



More late heartbreak, dissolving to a 2-0 defeat at Sileks. From Syväjärvi failing to deliver for the umpteenth time to Sileks playing crossbar challenge it was a relatively open game. Sadly, the stress got to us again with late goals from Noveski and Jordanov condemning us to three defeats on the bounce.



Men versus boys on a wet Sunday in Tetovo. Two well struck efforts by Sokol Gashi (though the second I thought Bastig could have done better) continues our losing slump. Rarely got into their final third while Shkëndija set up base camp in our half all game. Well on their way to winning the league. Bregaji's injury definitely taking it's toll.



Disastrous. Easily our worst performance in the league. Bregalnica are below us in the league, yet played like they're not even in danger of the drop. Hands on deck as we scrambled away an effort off the line to breathe a sigh of relief, delaying the inevitable. Honestly, the hosts could have walked the ball in which they effectively did as injury time approached. No closing down, no marking, Stiven Brahimi free as a bird to tap in from a simple cross. Not even worth venting at them, waste of time.




Second half capitulation dumped us out of the Macedonian cup which lit the fuse to our bad form. Amazingly, Syväjärvi found the back of the net with a powerful effort which Selmani should've done better with. Of course, us being us it was only fair that Rabotnički break skin with a free header from a corner before half time. All fell apart after that, Rabotnički dominated with Bledar Kelmendi on the counter to lead for the first time and Iskrenov completing a devastating hat-trick. So near, yet so very far.



I'll say it again, Bregaji's injury has cost us massively. Unsurprisingly losing five in a row since his torn calf, none of our strikers are stepping up to the plate. Defensively we look more and more brittle with every passing game. Look's like a sit down session is needed with the squad before this spirals out of control.



Sucked right back into the relegation picture. Thankfully Makedonija, Skopje and Shkupi are also struggling just below us. Eight point gap to the top five, fair to say we can wipe Europe off the agenda this campaign.



More spacious November with two must wins. Skopje & Shkupi at home, anything less than six points is cataclysmic. Vardar and Pelister we might just have to tape our butts shut.

@DNZY cool man I have an i7 too, gaming laptop so hopefully it won't slow me down too much after a number of seasons into my game.

Great reading so far mate hope you can press on from here.
@bigmattb28 - Thanks man, glad you're enjoying it!






Took nine games of grinding but finally Syväjärvi chimed in with a lovely triple whammy against lowly Skopje. A 32nd minute penalty got the juices flowing, making him hungry for more. The Finn pounced on the second via a headed clearance off the line which Duro struggled to claim for himself. No question about the third, dribbling into the box and slotting under Todorovski in net. Let's pray this isn't a once in a blue moon occurrence.



Who saw this coming? Not I. Triumphed against the odds in what were a washed out Vardar side. Syväjärvi looks like he's found his calling with an early strike against the run of play to stun the home crowd. Bastig will feel very hard done by for the equaliser, saving magnificently from Tatic but followed up with a strong hit by Todorovski. For all Vardar's shot and possession, it meant nothing for what happened in injury time. Swapped out a midfielder for defender Ljamcevski and it turned out to be a game changer, heading in from a corner to hand the champions a shock defeat. The 5 (yes, 5) travelling away fans went ballistic.



Shkupi went 15 games without a win before today and won't get a better chance to end it than here. Looked tactically inept and barely threatened the league's bottom side who looked far more likely to make things happen. The dismissal of our left back Skando didn't help matters at all, yet didn't affect the scoreline. Countering from a Shkupi corner, a wonderfully lofted ball over the top found lone striker Syväjärvi who squeezed in from a tight angle to hold out for an invaluable three points. Far from happy regardless.



No guts no glory. Despite holding out for an hour, Pelister blew us away throughout. The turn, swivel and defining body blow from Seferi was the difference in a game where they should've piled on us. 16 year old Kristian Lleshi looks like a future hotshot and so nearly delivered the most unlikely of equalisers in injury time but their keeper had his near post covered quite comfortably. Falling short of four wins in a row.



Solid month with nine points, nine points closer to surviving snugly in the league. Mikko Syväjärvi finally got the finger out with the bulk of goals in Bregaji's absence. That Vardar win is still hard to believe.



Back into sixth, not too far off an implausible shout at Europe. Although three wins still only leaves us three off Bregalnica in the relegation playoff but automatically drives a massive wedge between the bottom two.



Winter on it's way, only two games before a long break until February. Big importance on the Makedonija GP match, the side level on points with us. Rabotnički take us out until 2050 comes a'knockin'.





Just what the doctor ordered. Very lively first half where our set plays hit the spot, starting with a Huremovic free from 25 yards. The visitors didn't take long to respond as Tomasek lost his marker to convert from an inswinging cross. The ball was back in our court when a flicked floated header by centre back Juska caught out the keeper and rolled in with help from the post. Makedonija looked a lot sharper in the second half, somehow missing a free header from four yards away which left hearts in maw for a splitsecond. Crucial win.



So much for momentum, bumbling performance at Rabotnički. Two penalties in between a counter attack finished off by Tsonev left us up a creek without a paddle where our forward line hardly tested their fortress. I mean Syväjärvi was presented with a clear cut chance but had no sting and just rolled into the keeper's hands. Not the best result to end the calendar year.



Two results on either side of the scales. Makedonija win is definitely worth more than getting nothing at Rabotnički.



Unchanged positionwise, but stretch further away from Bregalnica who picked up nothing. Eight points from second...is it still possible?






Managed to pocket a handsome £35k for Haliti who profusely asked for a starting role when he's only on rotation. Entering his thirties now, he's been quite disappointing when playing him and with starlet Lleshi continuing his progress, made the most sense.



A former player, a familiar face and a journeyman legend were brought in over winter.


Bledar Kelmendi - M(L)/AM(L)/AM(C) - free transfer from Rabotnički

Weird series of events leading to reclaiming this boy, left in the summer for £7k to Rabotnički who weren't willing to play him - then comes back six months later on a free? We are absolutely laughing. Operates well on the left, but could slot in behind as a number 10 in a 4-4-1-1. Mentally solid with strong flair and vision to pick out inch perfect passes..which is next on the agenda to improve. Might suit better out wide with his lightweight build and quick feet. Top signing.


Conor McParland - D(C) - unattached free agent

Unbreakable relationship. Fourth club he's joined with me at the helm, been successful at each one - will the trend continue? You already know his story, CJL legend through and through.


Jaanus Vazinski - DM/M(C) - unattached free agent

Had a little tug of war with his agent following his release from Infonet, but delighted to welcome Jaanus back on the journey with me. Central midfield has been rather disjointed during passages of play lately but Vazinski might be the stick of glue needed to piece it back together. Average on paper, but above average on the playing field. Also now becomes the highest earner at the club with £800p/w.



Didn't exactly shine during preseason but didn't disgrace ourselves on the scorelines. A decent win over Sutjeska being the highlight.



Back to the grind in a few days with home games welcoming Sileks and a potential six pointer with Bregalnica pencilled either side of a really tough away day to local rivals Shkëndija.





2050 starts off in positive light, outmuscling Sileks to a 2-1 win. Teenager Kristian Lleshi showed great maturity, getting involved in both goals..well..winning an early penalty which Syväjärvi put away. Sileks smartly levelled moments later with a route one ball and two passes later Noveski curled one past Bastig. The combination of wingers restored our lead as Fabianski fed to Lleshi who fiercely drove it home. The remainder of the game drew a bit flat, though Bastig saved well from Noveski to deny another equaliser. Well earned win.



Pfft. Shkëndija are untouchable as far as I'm concerned. Strolling to the title and made us their bitch in a four goal drubbing. We honestly didn't play badly, just their finishing accuracy was too damn good. A double from Meta, plus Todorovski and Muleci sinking us without a trace.



Too close for comfort as Huremovic's late strike saved us from a serious second half meltdown. Sokol Bregaji returned to the teamsheet after his torn calf and announced himself in the best way possible to give us the lead. Huremovic's 30 yard free doubled the tally to have us cruising. Bregalnica fought their way back however as taking our foot off the pedal offered grave repercussions to lose our two goal lead right in front of our eyes. Thankfully the Bosnian playmaker retrieved the designated three points with ten minutes left as Bregalnica failed to clear a penalty box scramble. Big sigh of relief.



February went better than expected, winning two important games in the fight for survival. So glad to have Bregaji back to spruce up the attacking creativity and Huremovic seriously improved in the middle. In all honesty I expected nothing from the Shkëndija game.



Relegation fears look to be a thing of the past as a nice 12 point gap opens between us and eighth placed Bregalnica. Closer to the European spots if anything, but it's a very ambitious goal. Mid-table safety is good enough for me.



Exact same as the November schedule, exact same expectations.

Its getting tighter for european qualification rather than relegation fears,still love this dude
Football Manager 2018 - From A Failed Footballer To A Traveling Manager - Story coming soon...
@Dan - Certainly is, glad you still follow this.





That time of year again, and very positive outcome for our first intake at Renova. Three very strong candidates including one who is almost fit for first team action.

Mario Hoxha - M(C) - youth intake


Doesn't immediately jump out from the page but with strong first touch and first rate passing, Mario just needs to keep his head down to improve his mental game. Just needs the right tutor to push his determination up a few paces. Future looks bright.




Yeah...this never happened...I wish at least. So pathetic going forward and once we gave away the penalty on the hour mark, things collectively got worse. One became three within ten minutes, firstly a route one ball by the keeper resulted in an assist to Markevski before Dervishi's second of the game tore us asunder. We'll definitely regret this if European qualification is on the line.



Think we'll probably be the more disappointed of the two. We were bossing Vardar for large portions of the game, deservedly leading through Sokol Bregaji's close range effort. Not more than 30 seconds it took for Vardar to reply, boy was it a reply from Huang Hao (who is Portuguese) with an absolute stunner. A set play undid all our good work when Nikolovski got onto it despite Bastig's attempts to keep it out with only seven minutes to play. Just desserts when we responded in the same manner, teenage sensation Kristian Lleshi found free on the right channel to sweep it home past the flailing arms of Markovski. Great performance, deserved more than a point.



Wasteful Shkupi are all but down as we sailed to victory. Courageous of them playing a 4-3-3 gave us ample space to exploit them from crosses, sure enough Jaanus Vazinski delivered two hammer blows in either half to put the shrimps in their place. Fabianski cut in from the left to curl a beauty into the top corner for further punishment while Shkupi wallowed in their own failures. Back to the second tier for you boys.



A huge win on paper brushed over a terrible viewing at the Ecolog Arena. A rather controversial penalty was the gateway to our success, Mikko Syväjärvi the man with the key. Barely anything else happened, Pelister usually play to a strong standard but looked jumbled and not up to the task. Massive boost for us.



A month that started off horrendously ended the complete opposite. Perhaps the Skopje defeat brought us together because we've been playing with a lot more confidence, especially the middle creating a lot more. Vazinski finally ticking in the central midfield.



Sadly, I don't see us winning the title but Europa League is certainly achievable. Three away from third and only seven from second, but lets not get ahead of ourselves just yet. Relegation is completely out of the frame.



April brings some tough games, none more so than the final encounter with the soon to be champs Shkëndija. Makedonija and Sileks are definitely winnable whereas our record with Rabotnički is quite poor. Will we be able to secure any wins?





Team selection blunder may have cost us here. Decided to drop Bregaji for Kelmendi in a 4-4-1-1 but it seemed to backfire. All things said, we didn't play badly, just that Ivanovski's early close range finish made it difficult for us. Couldn't create anything troublesome, even when Bregaji came on in the last twenty minutes but far too late to make impact. Onus is on me.



Note to self: never drop Bregaji again - the Sileks loanee proved pivotal in an important first win over Rabotnički. A bright spell put the visitors on the ropes, culminating in a deserved lead with some cascading liquid football into the returning Bregaji for 1-0....that lasted as long as popping on the kettle when an unmarked Stoitsov open-handedly restored parity, Petersoo very much to blame. Rabotnički began to sand us down for the majority of the second half, but it had no effect for what happened next. Jaanus Vazinski picked out a pinpoint pass to Sokol, dancing around two or three defenders before sliding it home and winning the game late on. Massive!


Of course he has...



Wow, never saw that first half coming. Bregaji ineligible re his loan deal, plus no Kelmendi meant we were significantly weaker, however it didn't show with three unanswered goals in the first half had us cruising. Rare sight seeing Adis Skando on the scoresheet, getting on the end of a free kick followed by striking duo Tsvetanov and Syväjärvi within ninety seconds of each other. Big Bastig played a blinder with nine saves, but could do nothing about their goal back, proper stunner. Europa League race definitely hotting up.




A bumper-packed local derby carrying a lot on the line for either side ended in a drab stalemate. Shkëndija only needed a point to wrap up the title, meanwhile dropping two points is a lot better than nothing at all. For all of Shkëndija's control, it was us who came closest to bulging the net - Syväjärvi forcing Nedelkovski into a necessary save. We'll happily take that result.


Certainly drew out the crowds, shame they saw nothing special.



Impressive run of form hitting at exactly the right time. Obviously the Makedonija defeat was a disappointment (hopefully not a regret), but the squad are playing with confidence now that relegation is well off the table. Bregaji a key factor in this team, hoping Sileks are open to offers come June.



Only four games to go, things are certainly heating up. Reliant on Rabotnički winning the Macedonian Cup final against Bregalnica to open fourth place qualification before we get ahead of ourselves. Such a tight affair between us, Vardar, Sileks and to a lesser extent Pelister in third. Whatever happens in the final month, it'll be a great season.



Man, we are blessed with this final run in. Vardar will definitely be the defining moment at the Philip II Arena where we have beaten them before. The rest are plagued by relegation troubles, but guaranteed they won't back down. Four cup finals metaphorically.





Oh dear Martin Bastig, what have you done? Not quite as bad as Karius, but certainly up there. Reaching for an aerial ball, somehow gets dropped into the back of the net, ruining our strong momentum after Bregaji's early goal. Opened the game up with some important saves at both ends until controversy in the 62nd minute. Bregalnica awarded a penalty, probably just on first glance despite the protests to turn the game on it's head. Luckily Bregalnica felt how we felt losing a lead on the back of a defensive error, getting behind their back four and scrambling it straight to Syväjärvi who couldn't miss. Costly draw, Bastig a stoic figure at full time.




Skopje down with a whimper. Catalogue of comedic defensive howlers had us ROFLing before half time. Two for the Finnish sensation, one for the loan prospect and...make your mind up on how to describe the first. Next up, Vardar which is now make or break.



Holy Christmas, Vardar completely shellshocked again on their own turf. Syväjärvi the agent of chaos with two early goals thanks to Vardar's awkwardly dispersed back four. The home fans became a lot more vocal once Emini's leaping header found a way back, but quickly silenced again with a truly jaw-dropping 60 yard pass by Petersoo into the sprinting Bregaji who made no mistake. Emini got his head on another to reduce our lead again, only to be reapplied with a superb hat-trick by free scoring Syväjärvi. Firmly in the driving seat going into the final game of the season.



Took a lot longer than expected but who else but Mikko to nab the crucial winner. Credit to Shkupi's resilient defence for only shipping one, all our probing could have come by the lorryload. Three consecutive wins to close out a very productive opening season in Macedonia.



Two key performers this season without a doubt.



Thank God for my deadline day signings last summer, our front two absolutely killed it this month. Took Syväjärvi eight games to taste a goal in this league, hard to imagine that now with the form he ended on. 7 for the Finn, Bregaji with 3 - definitely top of the shopping list once the window reopens.



Rabotnički winning the Macedonian cup unlocked fourth to qualify for the Europa League...occupied by ourselves! First time into Europe for nearly 40 years, I'm chuffed to be the figure to take them there. Shkëndija unquestionably the best team in the division this year, followed by Rabotnički, Pelister and us all securing Europa League. Vardar distraught, missing out completely. Skopje and Shkupi going down. Bregalnica surviving the relegation playoff.

Fantastic run at the end

Looking forward to Euro next season
@b0nb0n - Indeed, looking forward to it myself! Probably a tough ask given our resources.




A successful opening season for myself at Renova, but how about Kristian Lleshi? The 16 year old was like dynamite in a quarry, exploding onto the scene to showcase why he'll be a diamond in the rough for us, winning a 34% result as player of the year and also scooping young player of the year deservedly. Tomas Juska and Damian Fabianski just short of the winning vote but both had strong campaigns. Murmurs about Sasa Huremovic leaving in the summer, but ignoring the media's guff he can sure hit wonderful strikes; his 30 yard free kick against Bregalnica a deserved goal of the season. Easily our best signing of the season was the Finnish finisher Mikko Syväjärvi who did indeed take a while to get settled in, but once the stabilisers came off he just banged them in - 16 goals since his arrival from Kalju.



Syväjärvi's 16 goal tally waltzed his way to Renova's top goalscorer this year plus also secured four man of the match awards. Wonderboy Lleshi showcased exactly why he's an exciting prospect for us on the right wing, playmaking his way to eight assists and also most consistent with a 7.11 average rating (not brilliant, but at only 16 it summarises how lucky we are to have him). Bosnian midfielder Huremovic strung together the passes better than anyone else with 85% pass completion. Juska in typical Juska fashion got carded most for yellows, but Skando was dismissed twice during the season.


Two of our players made it into the seasonal best XI - Syväjärvi and Lleshi unquestionably deserving their places.


Only second best to the league winner for manager of the season, I'll take it!


Finally, we merited the label of "biggest overachievers", breaking into Europe when we were predicted to only break out of the relegation jail.




FK Renova boss David Nealon has become vocal in recent weeks with regards to his future at the club after selling a player without his input.

Left back Adis Skando departed for Cementarnica 55 in a deal worth up to £39k, subject to conditions. While the paperwork was being filed, Nealon was nowhere to be found in the process.


Speaking to Macedonian broadcaster TVART, Nealon admitted that the board overruled any decision made by himself, claiming that the offer was "too good to refuse".

He further went on to say:
"It's a disappointing situation, it almost feels like a betrayal of sorts. We're preparing for a Europa League game in a few days and we've a lack of options in that position, so it's very frustrating that this has occurred."

"Money is a powerful language, but it doesn't bode well when making crucial decisions with no backup plan. No club I've managed has done this to me and time will tell if I'll be here much longer."


Renova travel to Georgia where they face FC Dila Gori in the first leg of the first qualifying phase of the Europa League on Thursday. It is their first European match in nearly forty years.

The news has divided opinions within the supporting fans, some standing by the manager while others feel it was an important profit to make.

The Renova board have not commented on the situation so far.

More to follow.

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