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My name is Franjo, and I will be a Football Manager.

Been on holiday for a week so just caught up with all this! Congrats on qualifying and in such a manner!
Sometimes you have to stand in the shadows; to see the light.

No Fuss (Franjo: A Journeyman Story - Ep37)

Miguel Oliveira is off in the Summer. I thought I'd rip that bandage off as quickly as possible to spare you the heart ache. I lost faith in Miguel's ability about 5 or 6 matches after I arrived and was not planning on offering him a new contract, so Panachaiki have swooped in and arranged to whisk him away to Greece on a free transfer. Good luck to him. If he throws plates half as well as he throws away his marking responsibilities he'll be fine.

Annoyingly, having just played Barreirense in Barreiro last week, we're now playing Fabril do Barreiro in Hero Creek. We could have stayed through and had a nice holiday there if we were playing at their place, but never mind.

Fabril are the team that play with that narrow diamond that prompts us to focus our play down the wings, so that's what we'll do. Diogo Coelho is better at going forward than Mauro Aires, so he comes in at left back, Fernando Batista keeps his place on the wing after helping to rescue a point for us last week, and Renato Silva starts. I want to give him another chance seeing as the benched Cristiano Magina is sulking.

After half an hour, nothing has really happened. I'm getting quite tired of our poor first half performances, so I tell the team to attack. We may as well go for it against these.

5 minutes later, it's clear that our right back, Vitor Miranda, has received the message. He finds himself on the edge of the Fabril box and chips the ball to Hurley. With 2 touches, Hurley brings the ball down brilliantly and skilfully uses the outside of his boot to send the ball fizzing in off the post. That man just oozes class. I take a deep swig from my water bottle. The water tastes sweet. Almost like vindication.

When half time rolls around I tell my Heróis to drop back slightly stop attacking quite as often. We have the lead now and all we need to do is protect it. I don't want us leaving ourselves open at the back.

The 2nd half is a quiet affair. On the hour mark a Coelho corner is headed in by Olivier to double our lead in the simplest way possible. I bring on Rúby and Ávila shortly afterwards but they don't have much of an impact. We happily let the clock tick away and leave with another 3 points.


That was one of those matches that just sort of happens. We got what we wanted with no fuss whatsoever. I'm fine with that at this stage in the season. Let's hope for a carbon copy away at Amora.

What won't be a carbon copy though is our lineup. Aires comes back in for Coelho as we don't want our fullbacks pushing quite as high seeing as we're away. Rúby starts in place of Benjamim, who I think could use a kick up the arse as his performances are dropping. Amonike and Bruce Ávila start as a pair of orthodox wingers in place of Batista and Kevin, and Magina comes back in to lead the line. Watching the last match, I forgot that Silva was playing.

Quarter of an hour in, Magina releases Amonike down the right wing. The winger gets his cross into the 6 yard box where Ávila is arriving, but he gets it all wrong and heads wide from close range. I make a mental note to myself not to drop Kevin in future.

5 minutes later, Zé Miguel swings a deep cross from the right over to the far post. Afonso gets to the ball ahead of Miranda but can only cushion it unthreateningly into Azevedo's arms.

Just as I'm wracking my brains for something constructive to say in my half time team talk, Zé Miguel gets in the thick of it again, but this time he pulls Lassina Touré's shirt in the Amora area, granting us an injury time penalty. Magina steps up and confidently strokes it to the bottom left.

That actually makes my half time team talk incredibly easy. I tell them they look alright and ask them to go and get another to kill the game off.

Not 2 minutes later, Hurleys pass is knocked on first time by Amonike, and Magina places it into the bottom corner. Ask and you shall receive. I surely can't let Magina go.

With just over an hour gone, Zé Miguel lays the ball off and Vaz strikes it very sweetly from the edge of the area, but his shot cannons back off the bar.

That'll do as a warning. We revert to Heróis Original, Jaime Seidi replaces Hurley and joins Rúby in our withdrawn double pivot.

Rúby is jumping for joy now that Seidi is by his side. Unfortunately, you could describe the kind of jumping he's doing as "At Vaz's shins", and "With 2 feet". He's already booked but he picks up a straight red anyway.

I don't look at Rúby as he wanders towards the tunnel. I'm too busy talking Thiago up. He's nervous, and rightfully so, but I have faith that he'll do a job. He and Kevin replace Antunes and Ávila and our shape changes to more of a 4-2-3 with wingers.

We still have chances to further our lead after Rúby's red. About 10 minutes later, Amonike dances past Pardal and runs through on goal, but Ascenso saves well.

Just after that, our resident penalty magnet Lassina Touré gets brought down again, this time by Machade, and Magina has a chance to bag his hat trick. This time though, his penalty is tame and not far enough into the corner, and Ascenso gets to it pretty easily.


I don't really care, the only difference as a result of CM9 missing that 2nd penalty is that he has to buy his own ball. We picked up another win, kept another clean sheet, and built up another bit of momentum to take with us into the Promotion Stage.

Now the only team that stands in the way of out unbeaten phase is "Boring, Boring Pinhalnovense". If it weren't for them we might be on for a 100% record in the first phase, and I want my revenge.
Treppenwitz (Franjo: A Journeyman Story - Ep38)

Do you want to know what my favourite German word is?

Of course you do. It's Treppenwitz. It translates literally as Staircase Joke, and it's the word for that moment when you think of the perfect joke, but a few minutes too late. The moment has passed and the conversation has ended, but bloody hell, it would've been good if you'd thought of it at the time. But Treppenwitz also has other applications. It can be the comeback to an insult that comes to you too late, or the showstopper in a huge argument that you lose because you didn't think of it. And today, just between us, Treppenwitz is the word that you use when you think of the perfect way to hammer a snotty little Portuguese football club into the ground, but too late. They've already bored you to death and snatched a point. But today is special. Today we get another chance.

Pinhalnovense have made themselves a special space in my brain, a space usually reserved for Big Brother, the last season of Scrubs, and everybody who plays the drop-in matches in FIFA Pro Clubs. I don't just want to beat them, I need to. I need this. I need Pinhalnovense fans up and down the land to recoil whenever they hear my name. I need their Manager, João Sousa, to leave under a cloud, and to be booed down the street wherever he goes forever more. I need our handful of travelling fans to shower me with confetti and dub me the King of Portugal.

So what's the secret formula? What's old Franjo going to pull from his sleeve and lay on the table?


Bear with me.

For the home tie against Pinhalnovense I should have told us to attack more. We should have been more open and committed more men forward to break through the bus that was parked across the goal line. As the away side, I'm not going to have us attack. I'm going to play our bog standard Meatloaf. Pinhalnovense, being the home side, will do all the adjusting for us. They'll come out at us as home sides generally do and open themselves up, letting us waltz right through.

It's beautiful isn't it? We're adjusting to their playstyle by not adjusting at all. Of course, they could just do exactly what they did in Hero Creek, in which case we will actually have to adjust. Also, Magina is on the verge of another record. This time he's about to get a record number of Player of the Match awards

Within 2 minutes of the match kicking off, Amonike gets away down the right and drills a cross in for Antunes, who smashes us ahead.

10 minutes later Pinhalnovense are actually making a game of it though, and a good passing move is capped with a Grou through ball and a tidy Fidalgo finish.

Half way through the first half we're back ahead, when Benjamim sends Kevin through on the right, and the vie captain runs inside before slotting the ball under the keeper. Back ahead and this is the polar opposite of the last time these teams met.

As the half goes on, we pull away more and more from Pinhalnovense and we start to run rings round them. As we approach the 40 minute mark, Magina chips the ball to Kevin on the right, and he whips a ball from the byline to the far post, where Amonike easily makes it 3-1.

Pinhalnovense, who are actually starting to earn back my respect, soon close the gap though. From a well worked free kick, Pires passes short to Outtara, who dribbles forward to the edge of the area and hammers the ball into the top corner.

At half time I encourage the team. I want more goals. But we don't fashion another chance until there's 15 minutes to go, when Olivier drills the ball forward and Magina runs through on goal, but his low drive is blocked by Melo.

A few minutes later, Kevin is brought down on the right wing, just outside the area. Amonike whips a cross in and Lassina Touré guides a good header back across goal to score our 4th and hopefully put the match to bed.

In the dying minutes, Magina puts Hurley through and the attacking midfielder runs powerfully through on goal, but he skies his left footed shot.


When the final whistle goes, I shake Sousa's hand and smile, before applauding our 2 fans that have made the journey, and then the hundreds of Pinhalnovense fans. I'll give them that one. That was a great game with some quality football and I've gained a great deal of respect for our opposition.

We finish the first phase of the Championship undefeated, with 48 points out of a possible 54. Now there's just the small matter of the Promotion Stage to deal with.
Franjo Vs Borba - Part 2 (Franjo: A Journeyman Story - Mini-sode 38.5)

I received a phone call this morning from Carlos Antunes. I'm not sure what it could be about and we've got no training today, but it sounded urgent so I've come into our training facility to meet him. I'm there a few minutes before him so I pour a couple of glasses of water and wait in my office.

"Carlos!" I smile when he enters the room. "What's going on mate?" I cringe slightly at myself. I suddenly feel like the kind of teacher who sits backwards on his chair in order to "relate". Carlos looks uncomfortable as he sits down.

"I would like to ask your permission to join Guimarães." He blurts out.

I'm taken aback. I didn't expect this. "Ok." I say, after a short pause. An awkward silence engulfs the room for a few moments. My mind's gone blank. "Big club!" I say eventually, to break the tension. He nods. "I get it," I tell him. And I do. "All I would say is take your time." I say seriously. "You're our starting number 10, you're at the top of the pecking order here. Why don't you stay until the end of the promotion stage, keep playing and developing, and then we'll have a look at Guimarães in the summer?"

"But I want to win trophies" he replies immediately. He's almost pleading.

"Being a key player in a championship winning side would be a great thing for a young lad like you to have on your CV."

"I want to win real trophies!" he blurts out again. I don't really have a response to that.

"Look, I'll let you go in the summer Carlos."

"But I want to..."

"Carlos!" I cut across him sternly. "I am your Manager and you are an SC Angrense player. You'll go in the Summer." He looks angry. He looks like he's about to cry. "I'll see you at training tomorrow" I tell him, as kindly as I can. Carlos storms out of the room.

The next morning as I walk into training, I look for Antunes. I want to apologise. I think I could have handled our conversation better than I did. But he's not at training. He's the only one missing. Now this really annoys me. It's one thing wanting to move for your career or trophies, but I won't tolerate players being unprofessional. Whether he's late or making some kind of stand, it's not on. I head inside to look for him but Nuno stops me before I get to the door.

"Idiota Inglesa!" He looks genuinely quite annoyed.

"Not now, Nuno. I'll talk to you later." I mutter as I squeeze past him and through the door. I start to walk down the corridor.

"Why do you sell the kid, Inglês?" Nuno calls after me. I stop in my tracks and turn back to him.

"Excuse me? What kid?" I demand.

"The kid, Carlos! You sell our best players Inglês!"

I don't wait for him to finish his sentence, I march to Borba's office door and throw it open. Borba doesn't look up. He's doing some paperwork at his desk. "Where's Antunes?" I ask, trying to stay calm.

"Guimarães." He says lazily, still not looking up. "I told you Franjo, this is my..." His words fade away as I walk back down the corridor. I don't look at the players as I walk past the training pitch. I don't acknowledge Pedro as he tries to stop me at the main entrance of our training ground. I don't look back as I walk through the car park, and out into the world.
Sometimes you have to stand in the shadows; to see the light.


The drama doesn't stop today!
A Lot To Think About (Franjo: A Journeyman Story - Ep39)

My immediate urge once I left Angrense's training ground was to jump on a plane. I'm livid. After initially backing down in January, The Chairman has followed through in selling one of our brightest young talents behind my back. I very nearly resigned, but I'm going to take our week off as an opportunity to think. I'll make a decision on my future before the Promotion stage starts.

In the meantime, I give Pedro the reigns so that I can sort my head out. He'll take control of training this week, and of the friendly I've set up against Norwegian Premier League side Fredrikstad on Sunday. The only thing that I need to do this week is sign a replacement for Antunes in case I decide to stay. I've also told Hélder Arruda he can leave in search of first team football, but I'm not answering the bloody phone. Borba can sort that for him seeing as he's so keen on shipping my players out.

I spend most of the week before our friendly wandering around Hero Creek, doing nothing in particular. I arrange a few trials for different players, which probably means that I'll need to show up at training at some point to assess them, but that can wait.

I decide to watch our friendly against Fredrikstad. It's a home tie so I may as well. I don't want Pedro or the team to know, so I get Nuno to sneak me into Estádio Municipal de Angra do Heroismo without anybody seeing. I want to watch the team not as a Manager, but as a fan. I want a sign. Something to tell me what I should do.

When the stands are partially filled and the teams come out onto the pitch, I look through them one by one. This is the first time I've given Pedro control over team selection and I'm interested to see how he'll line up.

Serginho in net, fair enough. Miranda, Oliveira, Olivier, Coelho across the back. Bit of a weird choice playing the man who's already agreed a move, but OK, I'm onboard otherwise. I'm then surprised to see that Pedro has opted for a midfield entirely made up of trialists. Starting in the double pivot are the short but ferocious box to box midfielder António Gonçalves, whose parent club Sheffield Wednesday have allowed him to join up with us for a few weeks, and Nicolas Garmendia, a skilful playmaker on trial from Udinese. In front of them from right to left are Al Hassan Lamin, a big powerful winger from Lazio, Domingos Quina, a quick and tricky playmaker from West Ham United, and Asumah Abubakar, a similarly quick and tricky striker or winger from Willem II. Hélder Arruda leads the line. This should be interesting.

It's a good match from an Angrense point of view. We dominate entirely. I expected us to struggle against a side from the top tier in Norway, but we play well, especially the trialists.

Al Hassan Lamin scores an excellent goal to break the deadlock in the 2nd half, dribbling round a couple of defenders before placing the ball into the far corner from outside the box. Abubakar doubles our lead after he runs behind the Fredrikstad defence, latches onto a Garmendia pass and slots the ball home. Armstrong pulls one back with a superb volley, but we hold on for the win.

I'm impressed, but more importantly the match excites me. I find myself still jumping up when we score, still pumping my fist and singing Vamos Heróis with the fans. I still love this place. I just don't know whether I can carry on at the helm. This has given me a lot to think about.

For now though, I want to bring in a few of these trialists. They're all at comparatively huge clubs and we've got no chance of signing them permanently, so I make loan bids for Al Hassan Lamin, Domingos Quina and Asumah Abubakar. I consider bidding for António Gonçalves, but to be fair we've already got Rúby in the same mould and his game time is limited as it is. All 3 bids are accepted but in the end, Hassan Lamin and Abubakar reject the opportunity to join us, leaving Domingos as our lone loan signing. He's the important one to be fair. We needed an attacking midfielder most of all.

As we move towards the first match of the Promotion Stage, and with my decision looming, I get a phone call. It's Pedro. He's heard from one of the board members that Borba has sold Fernando Batista. I sigh. I'm not at all surprised, but he may have just made my decision for me.
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The Decision (Franjo: A Journeyman Story - Ep40)

I've thought long and hard about where my future lies over the last couple of weeks. Miguel Borba has made it impossible for me to stay in the long term. His interference in the transfer market has cost us 2 fantastic, young, home grown footballers. And for a fraction of their true value. Yes, if Carlos Antunes makes it then Angrense might see some more cash. At least his deal includes several clauses and a big chunk of the next transfer fee. The thing that makes this so much worse is that he accepted a bid for Batista that is not only £20k less than other bids we have received, but also includes no future clauses whatsoever. In his greed he's potentially cheated Angrense and himself out of a lot of money.

Borba has set a precedent. I'm pretty sure that it's a matter of when, not if, he accepts derisory bids for star striker Cristiano Magina, his potential replacement Renato Silva, and all of the other players that are in demand. This makes my long term future absolutely impossible.

Having said that, I have unfinished business with this club. I want to see them through the promotion stage. And I need to be smart. I was so, so close to resigning, but who's going to want me right now? I'm pretty sure the best case scenario is a sideways step to a similar club and I'll have to get to know them and shape them all over again. The worst case scenario is another few months on the dole, and then a move to a worse club.

So here's the plan: I'm going to stay. I'm going to keep well away from Borba and get Os Heróis promoted despite him. After promotion I will be headhunted by a bigger side. And when I accept their offer, I'm going to bid pennies for Magina, Hurley, Silva, Kevin, Benjamim, Olivier and all the other good players at this club. And Borba's going to accept my offers because he's a stupid, useless arse hole.

Of course, this all hinges on my ability to win promotion. I've made my mind up: I will let my contract run down and I will leave at the end of the season. If we go up, I should be fine, but if I fail to win promotion my future may still be bleak. Yes, we've won 15 out of 18 matches in the first phase of the Championship, but as I said way, way back at the start of the season, our group was weak. Astonishingly weak. We're now going up against the best teams the Championship has to offer, and we need to finish in the top 2 in our group of 8.

Am I apprehensive? Yes.

Will I relish the challenge? Yes.

Do I back us to pull it off? Fucking right I do.
PT Championship - Promotion Stage Group B (Franjo: A Journeyman Story - Mini-sode 40.5)

So my decision has been made. I'm staying with Angrense. I'm pretty sure I've made the right decision, but of course if Borba sells Hurley and Magina in the next couple of days I'll feel like a bit of an idiot.

Because I'm staying, we'll need to get to know our new group: The Promotion Stage Group B.


From: Barreiro

Ground: Campo da Verderena

First Phase Position (Out of 10): 2nd in Group G, behind us

Last Season: 3rd in Relegation Stage Group G

Predicted: 6th

Rivals in Group B: N/A


From: Caldas da Rainha

Ground: Campo da Mata

First Phase Position (Out of 10): 1st in Group E

Last Season: 1st in Relegation Stage Group F

Predicted: 8th

Rivals in Group B: Leiria (Fierce, Historic)


From: Camacha

Ground: Complexo Desportivo da Camacha

First Phase Position (Out of 10): 2nd in Group H

Last Season: 1st in Relegation Stage Group B

Predicted: 7th

Rivals in Group B: N/A

Casa Pia

From: Lisboa

Ground: Estádio Pina Manique

First Phase Position (Out of 10): 2nd in Group F

Last Season: 2nd in Promotion Stage Group B, Lost 2-3 on aggregate to Sporting B in Promotion Play off

Predicted: 5th

Rivals in Group B: N/A


From: Leiria

Ground: Estádio Municipal de Leiria

First Phase Position (Out of 10): 2nd in Group E

Last Season: 5th in Promotion Stage Group B

Predicted: 2nd

Rivals in Group B: N/A


From: Mafra

Ground: Campo Dr. Mario Silveira

First Phase Position (Out of 10): 1st in Group F

Last Season: 4th in Promotion Stage Group B

Predicted: 3rd

Rivals in Group B: N/A

União da Madeira

From: Ribeira Brava

Ground: Centro Desportivo da Madeira

First Phase Position (Out of 10): 1st in Group H

Last Season: Relegated, 20th in Liga Pro

Predicted: 1st

Rivals in Group B: N/A

Oh, this is delicious. I have a few months left in Portugal and if I could have had my pick of any side to be put in a group with, do you know who I'd pick?

Of course you do.

I'd pick Caldas.

Caldas are more than an opposition team for me. They're more than a rival even. They're a metaphor. They are my Everest. My predecessor Eduardo Almeida couldn't beat them and they are the milestone that I set myself last year to prove that I was a worthy manager at this level. A win over Caldas would represent how far we've come and how far I've come. Last year they demolished our relegation stage group and they demolished us. But this time, to misquote Baddiel, Skinner & The Lightning Seeds, We are strong. We have grown.

Caldas are predicted to finish last in the group and we're predicted 4th, which already speaks volumes, but I want to see the official result in black and white when we beat them. I never got to become Franjo, Who Crushed Caldas, but I still can.

Remember when I took this job I made a slapdash overview of how the leagues work? I'll link it here so that you can get a refresher on how the promotion stage is structured.


In short, we need a top 2 finish. Anything below that means we stay in the Championship, which seriously dampens my chances of being snapped up by a bigger side. A 2nd place finish means we'll play off against one of the Liga Pro sides for promotion, and a top place finish means we win promotion and we play off against the winner of group A to determine who wins the Championship.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go and listen to Three Lions and Three Lions '98 on a loop for a few hours.
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