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After a long hiatus Mark is back with a new story. Where will it take him?

Discussion
https://i.postimg.cc/Pf3rXDP2/SkySportsHeader_V1.3.png


English boss feeling the heat abroad

Last Updated: 13/12/2020 11:00am

https://i.postimg.cc/jSM2rr25/SkySportsHeader_V1.1.png

Reports are emerging from Finland that Ilves Tampere are set to dismiss their English manager Mark Duell within the next few days.

The Englishman only joined the Veikkausliiga side in September after a two year stint in Scotland at Edinburgh City, and managed to keep his new side in the Finnish top division by winning four of his five games at the end of the season. It was a great achievement considering Tampere were looking to be drawn into a relegation scrap when Duell was first appointed, the team finishing eleven points clear in the end compared to just four when he was appointed.

However, sources in Tampere are hinting that despite turning around the club's fortunes: Duell has little to no support in the dressing room and Ilves chairman Tomi Erola might be forced to dismiss the manager. This could pave the way for Duell to return back to British shores and Sky Sports sources believe there will be a number of willing suitors in the English divisions looking to take on the man who also manages the Welsh Under-21 squad.

Neither Erola or Duell were available for comment on this story.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

https://i.postimg.cc/8zZN8Q5R/AJSig.png
Maybe a move away wasn't the best choice!
New save coming for FM20...:- Heartbreak, misery, but hope on the horizon... https://i.imgur.com/vyxFXJL.png?1
You probably should've stayed at Edinburgh City.
Maybe a move away wasn't the best choice!

Feels that way mate, but we'll bounce back. All good managers have a blip now and then.

You probably should've stayed at Edinburgh City.

Nah bud, I felt I had definitely gone as far as I could have with Edinburgh. This was because the ECFC board were being unambitious at Scottish Championship level (i.e. refusing to go full time) so it was time to seek a new challenge elsewhere. Unfortunately Finland doesn't appear to be the right option, well at the moment. New challenge elsewhere methinks.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

https://i.postimg.cc/8zZN8Q5R/AJSig.png
https://i.postimg.cc/Pf3rXDP2/SkySportsHeader_V1.3.png


Mixed bag of groups for national youngsters

Last Updated: 04/01/2021 11:00am

https://i.postimg.cc/jSM2rr25/SkySportsHeader_V1.1.png

The draw for the 2023 UEFA Under-21 Championships was made this morning, and it was a bit of a mixed bag for all the home nations.

England's youngsters will face an interesting group. They will face Spain, the Republic of Ireland, Israel, Kazakhstan and Lithuania. With the only group winners guaranteed to make the Finals, Adrian Boothroyd's young lions face a tough ask to finish top of their particular pile. The Irish have qualified for this year's Finals in Denmark so Boothroyd knows he will need to have the team at their best if they are to make the 2023 Finals.

Wales, who missed out on making the Finals this year, have a tough group of their own. Mark Duell will be hoping to finish above Denmark and Bosnia and Herzegovina to avoid the lottery of the play offs, but it's likely to be a new blood of Welsh starlets that begin their campaign on 1 September. The group is completed by Malta, FYR Macedonia and Norway.

Scotland face a real tough assignment as they are grouped with Russia, Sweden, Ukraine, Moldova and San Marino with the first three all capable of winning that group. Meanwhile, Northern Ireland will have to contend with defending Under-21 champions Germany, Croatia, Hungary, Serbia and the Faroe Islands.

The 2021 Finals start in Denmark on 15 June when France take on Iceland in that opening game.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

https://i.postimg.cc/8zZN8Q5R/AJSig.png
https://i.postimg.cc/yYNcksw0/suomen-cup.jpg

January 2021 in Review


The weird thing about managing in Finland is that the Finnish version of the FA Cup starts in late January but the actual league season begins in April. Still there's a chance to have European football if you go and win it. Just ask FC Inter Turku who won it last season. We have been placed in a qualifying group with TPS Turun, FC Lahti, AC Oulu, KuPS and KPV with the top four teams in each group qualifying for the second round.

Wednesday 20 January 2021
https://i.postimg.cc/mDJkkWMy/Ilves-20120.png

This was the ultimate 1-0 hammering to be honest! We dominated this game from the first whistle to the last but only had one goal to show for it. That goal came six minutes from time when two substitutes combined. Jack White with the left wing corner, Tuomas Rannakari heading home from six yards out. The perfect start to the new season. It was my fifth win in just six games at Ilves, taking my win percentage there to an amazing 83% - not bad for a manager who is undervalued by his players and are trying to force him out.

Wednesday 27 January 2021
https://i.postimg.cc/43MsbbdJ/Ilves-27120.png

What is about FC Lahti and Ilves? Twice I have played Lahti and twice they have beaten us, in fact they are the only side to inflict defeat on us during this Ilves career. Must be holding some kind of Indian sign over us. The game winner came in the 34th minute when Stênio found the back of our net. We struck the bar, had shots well saved but just couldn't score all night. It certainly felt like we had been jinxed, a tough loss to take.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

https://i.postimg.cc/8zZN8Q5R/AJSig.png
Hoping to post another update later tonight or in the morning.

Have things got any better? Tune in and find out!
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

https://i.postimg.cc/8zZN8Q5R/AJSig.png
https://i.postimg.cc/yYNcksw0/suomen-cup.jpg

February 2021 in Review


One win and one loss in the Suomen Cup qualifying group as we entered February. Two more games coming up, could we get into that top four. We started the month in fifth place but only on goal difference. Each one of the teams from second to fifth had three points, KuPS were the sole side with a 100 per cent record.

Wednesday 3 February 2021
https://i.postimg.cc/zGNmp0Kj/Ilves-3220.png

Game three in the qualifying group saw us on the road to Western Finland and to face KPV in Kokkola, a 190 mile journey. We made an horrendous start when former Ilves player Multanen netted inside 25 seconds. I feared the worst after this. However Lauri Dalla Valle provided a composed finish to level ten minutes before half time. We had two goals in the latter stages, first of all our captain Matias Ojala put us after 78 minutes when he reacted first to a loose ball despite me shouting penalty as he appeared to be baulked before he put the ball into the net. But they always say you're at your weakest when you've just scored a goal and we only went and proved it. Jani Tanska turning a cross into his own net, and denying the team what would have been a massive away win.
Wednesday 10 February 2021
https://i.postimg.cc/9fX6H0xw/Ilves-10220.png

The penultimate qualifying game was against newly promoted AC Oulu. They had to change their side drastically as three of their loan signings were from us so they couldn't play, plus they also had a cup-tied player in their ranks too. Just before the half hour, left-back Martti Haukioja curled home a brilliant free-kick, shades of what Craig Thomson used to do for me all the time at Edinburgh City. The lead was doubled in the 61st minute when Jack White took a touch from a Daniel Garcia pass before confidently finishing. Onugha pulled one back for Oulu in the 79th minute but we held for an impressive win. The win was good enough to virtually confirm our place in round two, a point against KuPS would definitely secure that.

We also played a couple of friendlies to close out the month. These ended as follows:
Saturday 13 February 2021
https://i.postimg.cc/LsTZhCB0/Ilves-Friendly-13220.png

For both friendlies, I took the opportunity to give some of the fringe players in the squad some game time whilst resting a lot of the first teamers or not letting them play the full 90 minutes. The first friendly was at part-timers Salpa and we were two ahead after half an hour thanks to Colombian winger Daniel Garcia and Tanska; who headed in at the right end this time. Atakayi pulled one back with quarter of an hour left but then a comical own goal and one from Tiemoko Fofana made it 4-1 with ten minutes to go. Atakayi scored his second in the last minute but it made no difference in the final outcome.
Saturday 20 February 2021
https://i.postimg.cc/L8VzZ8mT/Ilves-Friendly-20220.png

Another much changed side played the second friendly at Division One FF Jaro. We took a 14th minute when English midfielder Alex Bradley slammed home from twelve yards off the post and in. Yet we didn't kick on and put the game to bed, and paid the price when they equalised seven minutes from time. They were reduced to ten men three minutes after that equaliser but we couldn't find a winner. A very disappointing performance.

So all in all, February wasn't too bad a month. My player managerial support has increased from 19% to 27% but I just know I'm living on borrowed time. Jobs back in the English leagues are being applied for but Ilves are asking for too much in compensation and as a result, the move never happens. I might just have to quit just to escape this Finnish nightmare, and perhaps then I might find a club that I can start to rebuild my career. This is a move that's turning sour but it was worth a risk in the early stages in the career. Good managers have a bad spell somewhere, just ask Sir Alex Ferguson about his ill-fated spell in St.Mirren in the 1970s. If that's not motivation, what is?
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

https://i.postimg.cc/8zZN8Q5R/AJSig.png
https://i.postimg.cc/yYNcksw0/suomen-cup.jpg

March 2021 in Review

Could we get the point we sought to make the second round of the Suomen Cup?
Wednesday 3 March 2021
https://i.postimg.cc/vBWXcCtn/Ilves-3321.png

What a bore draw. Neither side wanted it to be honest; so we got the point that secured our place in round two. Did we get a nice draw though? Well...

https://i.postimg.cc/wjwDbg0F/Suomen-Cup-R2draw.png

Only the current league champions! Oh s**t. That's the expectation to make the quarter-finals right out of the window unless we can pull off a major surprise on Sunday 25 April 2021. Could be my death knell in Finland.

Four friendlies to be played now before the new Veikkausliiga season starts on 10 April 2021 away to newly promoted AC Oulu. Player management support is an unexpected high of 33%, am I winning them over?
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

https://i.postimg.cc/8zZN8Q5R/AJSig.png
https://i.postimg.cc/qqDRbwrP/Ilves-Web-Page.png

28/03/2021

The new season is amongst us, and here are this season's squad numbers for Ilves. Some are unchanged, some are new completely and some have swapped.

Who's going to be on the back of your jersey this season?


https://i.postimg.cc/FHMZ6qfq/Ilves-Squad-Nos-2122.png

Manager Mark Duell has confirmed that Matias Ojala retains the club captaincy, with Tuure Siira staying on as his vice-captain.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

https://i.postimg.cc/8zZN8Q5R/AJSig.png
https://i.postimg.cc/qqDRbwrP/Ilves-Web-Page.png

Pre-Season Friendly Round Up

We played four more pre-season friendly (taking it to six in total) games before the big kick-off, one of them being an inter-squad game between the reserves and the first team.

Saturday 13 March 2021
https://i.postimg.cc/Qd3gk7RG/Ilves-Friendly-13321.png

Pre-season friendly game one of four was a trip to Oulu to face semi-professional side JP Hercules. We looked in absolutely sensational form as we netted all our goals in the first 35 minutes. Both defensive midfielder Tuure Siira and left-back Martti Haukioja scored a delicious free-kick apiece with lone striker Niklas Jokelainen poaching in the third. For some reason though, we switched off in the second half and Wanderlan pulled one back midway through. Moreno scored their second with a minute to go but we managed to hold on.

Saturday 20 March 2021
https://i.postimg.cc/fWYJ7PZy/Ilves-Friendly-20321.png

The second friendly was a trip to Jyväskylä to face JJK, who are one of our two feeder clubs. Jokelainen gave us an eighth minute lead only for Voutilainen to level three minutes later. However, that was about as good as it got for the home side as we seemed to learn from the previous Saturday's lapses to absolutely run riot. Jokelainen ended up with a hat-trick, his third goal being an absolute bullet from long range that simply flew into the top corner. Jyrki Saarinen and upcoming strikers Tiemoko Fofana and Jack White added one apiece to complete the rout.

This game also marked the début of Danish central defender Daniel Stenderup who was signed just two days previously.

Saturday 3 April 2021
https://i.postimg.cc/HssdJvkf/Ilves-Friendly-3421.png

The penultimate friendly was a trip to Helsinki to face another semi-professional side in FC Viikingit. Once more we were ruthless with three goals in the first half. Jokelainen was on target once but the real star of the show was Colombian right winger Daniel Garcia. Garcia scored, assisted on Jokelainen and Lauri Dalla Valle's goals, and was generally unplayable all game. I can surmise the home side breathed a sigh of collective relief when I decided to bring him off in the 61st minute. He had run them ragged. Young Bulgarian striker Iliya Marchev added the fourth.

Tuesday 6 April 2021
https://i.postimg.cc/FHw4B9V4/Ilves-Friendly-6421.png

We concluded our preparations with an inter-squad game against the second string and for the first half, the reserves were deservedly three goals to the good with Italian striker Lorenzo Piireca (another new arrival this season) scoring a superb double and experienced midfielder Jani Virtanen the other. I rollocked the first teamers at the break and boy did they respond to the hair dryer treatment. Sir Alex Ferguson would have been proud of that tirade.

Five unanswered goals then followed in that second half to take the win, the biggest surprise being that Jokelainen didn't net. Garcia, an own goal, Russian winger Ivan Belikov, Siira and White did the damage and it's now time for the real stuff to take over.

In other news: Our opening game against AC Oulu has been selected for live TV screening, here's hoping that we turn in an excellent performance. That said, the previously unhappy Jani Tanska is now a happy camper again and wants to stay at the club which is what I wanted all along. There was no need for his outburst. My managerial support from the players has also rocketed to an all time high of 65%. Considering it was a lowly 19% a few months ago, it seems like I might have won over the players. Well for now I have....

Oh and my old club in Scotland Edinburgh City have been predictably been relegated from the Scottish Championship, and sacked my replacement Paul Hartley in the process. I did think about going back but then again; would it have been a good move for me? I've passed my Continental A coaching licence so my reputation is on the up at the moment too. A move back to Ainslie Park would have been a backwards step and I want to keep moving forwards: bettering myself.

The new season awaits!
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

https://i.postimg.cc/8zZN8Q5R/AJSig.png
https://i.postimg.cc/qqDRbwrP/Ilves-Web-Page.png

06/04/2021

Here are the opening month's fixtures for Ilves this season. All are Veikkausliiga unless stated.

Saturday 10 April 2021
https://i.postimg.cc/YSQrwxgX/Ilves-10421.png

We open the new league campaign with an away trip to newly promoted AC Oulu, who won the Ykkönen (Second Division) last season. Our most recent meeting was just a couple of months ago in the Suomen Cup group stages, where we won 2-1 thanks to goals from Martti Haukioja and Jack White. The game is the first game of the new season overall and will be screened live on Finnish TV.

Thursday 15 April 2021
https://i.postimg.cc/L4brN1gh/Ilves-15421.png

Our opening home game of the season is against VPS, who finished 5th in the Veikkausliga last season. The most recent meeting saw VPS triumph 2-1 with Niklas Jokelainen scoring our sole strike. This game will be the first time that manager Mark Duell has taken charge against this opponent.

Sunday 18 April 2021
https://i.postimg.cc/SQHmj5rZ/Ilves-18421.png

Three days after the VPS home game is another home game. This time we face FC Lahti, who are the only side that have managed to beat Ilves under Mark's stewardship. Brazilian striker Stênio scored the winner in the most recent game which was a Suomen Cup group qualifier, we'll be hoping for better this time out.

Wednesday 21 April 2021
https://i.postimg.cc/kXNL9hhR/Ilves-21421.png

The hectic start to the season continues with a fourth game in just 11 days as we travel to KuPS. Again the most recent encounter was in the Suomen Cup group qualifiers and it was a boring 0-0 draw. That result put Ilves into the second round which ironically is our next game.

Sunday 25 April 2021
https://i.postimg.cc/wjwDbg0F/SuomenCup_R2draw.png

A tough task in the Suomen Cup which we will be the underdogs against the current league champions. Can we send them tumbling out on their own pitch? Our last meeting with them saw SJK edge home with a 2-1 win at Tammelnstadion. Bulgarian striker Illya Marchev scored our goal in that game.

Thursday 29 April 2021
https://i.postimg.cc/FH8y6hgy/Ilves-29421.png

The busy first month ends with a visit from Henrik Larsson's RoPS. RoPS were ironically the first opponents we faced after the appointment of Mark Duell as our manager. Winger Jusif Ali scored twice in a 3-1 win with Lauri Dalla Valle netting the other. A repeat of that would be nice wouldn't it?
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

https://i.postimg.cc/8zZN8Q5R/AJSig.png
https://i.postimg.cc/qqDRbwrP/Ilves-Web-Page.png

11/04/2021

The transfer window has closed in Finland and these were our ins and outs.

https://i.postimg.cc/P57FGyCB/Ilves-Transfers-202122-v1.png

We had seven of each, with the most notable transfer being that of Finnish internationalist Ari Laitinen. Ari moved to Serie A side Atalanta for £750,000 after the Italians met the minimum release clause in the defender's contract. I did not want to let him leave but when the clause is met then there's absolutely nothing you can do about it. I did wish for the deal to collapse at the last minute but it wasn't to be. I do wish him the best in Italy, he will be an absolute star there.

The rest of the departures were all loan deals, but Tuomas Rannakari is now back here at Tammelnstadion after he expressed a wish to return and fight for a regular place in the side. He has to displace Martti Haukioja for that but it does give me an excellent back up in that position.

Of the newcomers, I was delighted to land experienced Dane Daniel Stenderup on a free transfer, he's a quality acquisition. Italian newcomers Lorenzo Pirreca and Alessandro Garattoni are signings which also excite me and I hope will excite the fans. Pirreca is a striker who knows where the net whilst Garattoni is a full back who has plenty of experience behind him despite his tender years, he might not have made the grade in Italian football but he has serious promise about him. English defender Kornell MacDonald is another one I have high hopes for and is one for the future. Goalkeeper Daniel Kollar and defender Pekka Mattila are loan signings that add depth to our squad. Welshman David Cornell is a back up signing in case we have a goalie crisis.

All in all, I'm delighted with the activity we have had. But we'll keep looking to bolster further if the chance arises.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

https://i.postimg.cc/8zZN8Q5R/AJSig.png
Hope you're all enjoying this still - some more updates coming soon. Stay tuned!
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

https://i.postimg.cc/8zZN8Q5R/AJSig.png
https://i.postimg.cc/yYNcksw0/suomen-cup.jpg

Second Round

Sunday 25 April 2021
https://i.postimg.cc/qBj2JQ5Q/Ilves-25491-Cup.png

The Suomen Cup Second Round saw us make the trip to Seinäjoki to face the current league champions. It was probably the toughest draw we could have asked for.

Our task was not made any easier as we were without both Tuure Siira and Daniel Garcia (suspended) and captain Matias Ojala (injured). That's three first teamers against the team who have been the best in the country for the last two seasons. I also opted give Daniel Kollar a start in goal, and new signing Alessandro Garrattoni a début at right-back. Johannes Luukkanen and Miika Tuominen were given a rest to accommodate those two whilst Jykri Saarinen, Alex Bradley and Juho Aromaa replaced the suspended and injured trio. Odds definitely against us you would have thought.

Predictably, they made the stronger start. However just after the half hour, we took the lead and silenced the home support when Saarinen reacted first to a loose ball after Jesse Öst couldn't hold onto the midfielder's initial effort. Martti Haukioja had provided the testing free-kick. That rattled them and they ramped up the pressure on our back four more. It was only a matter of time before the equalised, and that came in the 53rd minute when Aristote Mboma turned it in from virtually on the goal line: the goal hanging so and so. You wouldn't have given us much hope now.

However, this team doesn't know when to quit these days. They are showing the same passion that I had at Edinburgh City, and I guess I've brought a bit of self belief about them as anything is possible. So it proved as we netted an unlikely winner with just 14 minutes to go. Aromaa with the deep right wing cross and Lauri Dalla Valle, on for the ineffective Ivan Belikov, got his head to it and send it into the top corner out of the reach of Öst. Cue the proverbial kitchen sink being thrown at us. We stood firm and resolute and pulled off a remarkable win which nobody saw coming. Probably my highest point so far in my short career here so far at Ilves.

The quarter-final draw was as follows:
https://i.postimg.cc/tJp0B9jd/Ilves-Cup-QFDraw-2021.png

A trip to FC Honka in Espoo awaits us, and a very good chance to progress into the semi-finals. Consider this, if we can beat the league champions, then we can go that bit further right? We targeted the quarter-final as a minimum requirement, there's no reason why we can't progress beyond that.

The quarter-final will be played on 2 May 2021.


The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

https://i.postimg.cc/8zZN8Q5R/AJSig.png
https://i.postimg.cc/26nkC5tw/Veikkausliigan-Logo.png

April 2021 in Review


A hectic opening month with five league games in just 19 days, meaning that we will have played 15 per cent of the programme already.

Saturday 10 April 2021
https://i.postimg.cc/6QNd5fkQ/Ilves_10421_Result.png

We opened the new season, my first proper season in charge here in Ilves, with an away trip to newly promoted AC Oulu. Last season's top scorer Niklas Jokelainen limped off just before half time, so I put young Jack White on as substitute, and the youngster made an instant impact when he reacted first to stab home after Miika Tuominen's shot had rebounded off the post to him. With eight minutes left to go they deservedly equalised when Lassi Viholainen got in behind our defence to beat Johannes Luukkanen at his near post. Yet we grabbed the winner two minutes later, Ivan Belikov swept in a cross from the left and Colombian winger Daniel Garcia volleyed home to send our fans home very happy indeed.

Thursday 15 April 2021
https://i.postimg.cc/9QNQLmpH/Ilves-15421-Result.png

Our home opener was against VPS, and we made an excellent start with a goal after just ten minutes: highly rated young attacking midfielder Naatan Skyttä picking up a Belikov pass before cutting inside and scoring with a neat near post effort. The lead lasted just six minutes though when central defender Auvinen headed in a corner at the near post but a minute later we got a numerical boost when Furtado was given a straight red for a late challenge on Martti Haukioja. Sensing we could put down a marker, I urged the team to capitalise. Garcia grabbed two goals in three minutes just after the half hour to put us 3-1 to the good and to be honest we could have had a lot more. A rasping drive two minutes after the restart from young Brazilian striker Wendel Raul drew VPS within one and had us wobbling as such. Yet we secured the points in time added-on, substitute Tuomas Rannakari with the cross and a real collectors item with vice-captain Tuure Siira volleying in from close range. The result was that good as it put us top of the Veikkausliga table after the opening two games!

Sunday 18 April 2021
https://i.postimg.cc/gcTd9Sh3/Ilves-18421-Result.png

A second home game in the space of just three days and against old foes FC Lahti who I just can't seem to get the better of; a bit like Clyde in my Edinburgh City tenure. However the boys were determined to put this right and opened the scoring in just the 8th minute of the game. Some great inter-play by Haukioja and skipper Matias Ojala saw the latter find some space and beat the stranded keeper at his near post. In the 26th minute we doubled the lead, Jokelainen opening his account for the season with an angled strike into the far corner. We sealed the deal with seven minutes to go, Garcia flighted in the free-kick and it was Siira got his head on it to score his second in as many games. Bus syndrome indeed but another important three points; and the bogey side seen off.

Wednesday 21 April 2021
https://i.postimg.cc/Bv0PTQQZ/Ilves-21421-Result.png

Could we make it four wins from four with an away triumph at KuPS? Well, just like the Suomen Cup game, it was far from a classic: it was only slightly more bearable even though we had another goalless draw. We had to endure a nervy ending as Garcia was dismissed with five minutes to go for a second yellow card which meant he had first dibs on the showers. He'd recently said I was one of his favoured personnel so I refused to fine him, after all if I had then it could have damaged my reputation with the team and him especially. SJK took advantage of this blip and replaced us at the head of the table.

Thursday 29 April 2021
https://i.postimg.cc/ZR0b313K/Ilves-29421-Result.png

After the amazing Suomen Cup win at SJK, we finished the opening month at home to RoPS. Henke Larsson's team took the lead after 16 minutes, Jean Carlos with a confident strike past the recalled Luukkanen. We were level though after 34 minutes, Skyttä's cross was brought down by Jokelainen and then the same player volleyed an unstoppable effort into the roof of the net. It was going to be a moment of magic that would win this game and we scored that all important winner in the 71st minute. Picking up a pass from skipper Ojala, Skyttä took two touches before curling in a stupendous effort from 22 yards out, off the post, and gave the RoPS keeper no chance whatsoever as he clutched at thin air. A goal worthy of winning any game.

So after the opening five matches, this is how we stand:

https://i.postimg.cc/43jf6W16/Ilves-Table-End-April2021.png

A more than creditable start, and certainly performing way above our expected final league position of 8th that the pundits have suggested. The board is delighted on how I'm leading the team with a 70% rating on the job security front. The players seem to have bought in big time too, I have reached the giddy heights of 77% with them now which is a massive improvement. Remember I was on a paltry 19%, and on the verge of being sacked, at the end of the previous season. Long may this continue; right?
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

https://i.postimg.cc/8zZN8Q5R/AJSig.png
https://i.postimg.cc/qqDRbwrP/Ilves-Web-Page.png

01/05/2021

Five more league games in the second month of the season, taking us up to ten which is almost a third of the way through the actual campaign.

Thursday 6 May 2021
https://i.postimg.cc/WzttqVY8/Ilves-6521.png

After the Suomen Cup quarter-final against the wonderfully named FC Honka, it's back to league action four days later and what will be a top of the table clash against back to back league champions SJK in Seinäjoki. They're gonna be really smarting by the time this game comes around, after all we've wrecked their double dreams with that Cup triumph there. The most recent game there saw SJK take the spoils with a 2-1 win. Ashington-born striker (or winger) Billy Ions scored both the goals for the home side that day with Tatu Miettunen (who is on loan to AC Oulu) scoring our sole goal. Can we do it again? It'll be a tough ask but hey, anything is possible.

Thursday 13 May 2021
https://i.postimg.cc/4xXypp0n/Ilves-13521.png

A week we return home with a game against KPV, who start May at the bottom of the table with zero points. We played each other in the Suomen Cup group stages and shared the spoils and four goals then. Jani Tanska scored an own goal to deny us the win that day, I'm sure he will be wanting to put that right. Our scorers had been Lauri Dalla Valle and skipper Matias Ojala. We can't underestimate them despite their lowly position but a home win will be definitely on our menu for sure.

Sunday 16 May 2021
https://i.postimg.cc/66dGR6Qj/Ilves-16521.png

It's a quick turnaround after the KPV game as three days later we return to Espoo to play FC Honka, for the first time in league play. If we have won the Cup game, it'll give us a bit of a psychological boost going into the league match up. I'm actually convinced by this but then again it might mean absolute nothing at all. The most recent game in Espoo saw us take the points with Jyrki Saarinen (whom I'm struggling to find a regular place in the line up for) scoring the decisive only goal seven minutes from time.

Thursday 20 May 2021
https://i.postimg.cc/v8VHx00G/Ilves-20521.png

Our penultimate league game of May sees us host IFK Mariehamn at Tammelnstadion. They're a new club for me to face as I've never encountered them so far in my Ilves tenure so I don't know what to actually expect. The most previous game here we had against them saw honours shared with a 1-1 draw. Dalla Valle gave us a 6th minute lead but Robin Sid's equaliser 11 minutes after half time gave Mariehamn a point. They are a side that finished comfortably in mid table last season, actually a place above us. So beating them would be a great result indeed.

Monday 24 May 2021
https://i.postimg.cc/HkKhM9ZC/Ilves-24521.png

We finish the month with a trip to the capital to face HJK Helsinki, Finland's most successful club side. However, they haven't won the Veikkausliga since 2017 so they'll be hoping to put that right won't they? The last time we played there was in my fourth game here, and it proved to be a memorable one too as Niklas Jokelainen's 15 second goal separated the sides and also secured our top flight status that day too. A repeat of this would really be nice.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

https://i.postimg.cc/8zZN8Q5R/AJSig.png
https://i.postimg.cc/26nkC5tw/Veikkausliigan-Logo.png

April 2021 Monthly Awards


Time to find out who won what in the Veikkausliiga monthly awards.

Manager of the Month: This went to SJK's Jani Honkavaara predictably enough. He was the one boss that won every single game in the opening month. I finished second, maybe I would have won it if it wasn't for the goalless draw against KuPS. Still there's always next time right?

Player of the Month: Despite his red card against KuPS, Daniel Garcia took the Player of the Month award for April. It was a well deserved award too as he has been very much in form. Vice-Captain Tuure Siira made it two Ilves players involved with a third placed finish.

https://i.postimg.cc/3J6NMqrG/Veikkausliga-Apr2021-POTM.png

Goal of the Month: A superb free-kick from AC Oulu's Sergey Borodin took this award. Borodin is on loan for the season to Oulu from FK Krasnodar in the Russian Premier League. Our very own Naatan Skyttä's effort against RoPS won him second place.

Team of the Month: Three of our players were named in the April Team of the Month, a team dominated predictably by SJK players. Martti Haukioja, Siira and Garcia got the nod so well done to all three of them indeed.

https://i.postimg.cc/bvfvr2tN/Veikkausliga-Apr2021-TOTM.png
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

https://i.postimg.cc/8zZN8Q5R/AJSig.png
Still enjoying and following this mate, doing a good job with Ilves, making it look like it was a good switch now!
New save coming for FM20...:- Heartbreak, misery, but hope on the horizon... https://i.imgur.com/vyxFXJL.png?1
Yeah it's a massive turnaround @Dan mate. I just hope I can keep it going, the Finnish adventure could lead onto something more special.


https://i.postimg.cc/yYNcksw0/suomen-cup.jpg

Quarter-Final

Sunday 2 May 2021
https://i.postimg.cc/QMTfHYH2/Ilves-2591-Cup.png

After ousting league champions SJK in the second round, we travelled to Espoo to face FC Honka with a semi-final spot on offer for the winners.

Predictably, with a massive league game coming up next week, I rang the changes again for the Suomen Cup game. Four changes were made with Daniel Kollar, Alessandro Garattoni, Tuomas Rannakari and Jyrki Saarinen came into the side which had beaten RoPS a few days before. They replaced Johannes Laukkanen, Miika Tuominen, Martti Haukioja and Tuure Siira who all were on the bench. It was a match played in incessant rainy conditions.

We made a bright start but went behind with the hosts' first chance of the game after just nine minutes. Dangerman Javi Hervàs flighted in a right wing corner and midfielder Saku Savolainen headed the ball across goal and into the far corner of our net. The lead didn't last long though, four minutes in fact, as we drew back on parity. It all started when Garattoni bombed forward from his right-back position with very little challenge from the home defence, the ball found its way eventually to Lauri Dalla Valle who unselfishly set up Niklas Jokelainen who squeezed his shot just out of the reach of the keeper and into the net. Yet Honka would go ahead again in the 26th minute, Hervàs again with the assist and this time their top scorer Kasperi Liikonen netted.

The game ebbed and flowed, and there was sure to be another goal sooner rather than later. It came nine minutes before the interval, Dalla Valle with the measured cross and Daniel Garcia was left unmarked to head home at the far post for 2-2. Both teams continued to push for the go-ahead goal but it looked certain to go to extra time unless there was one last bit of drama, and it came in injury time. Ivan Belikov, on for subpar Naatan Skyttä, actually did something useful for once this season. The Bulgarian threaded the ball through the defence and Jokelainen latched onto to fire home a dramatic winner. They pushed for a leveller but we held sway for the win, and my wish for no extra-time was granted. We're in the semi-finals!

The draw was made shortly afterwards, and brought us this:

https://i.postimg.cc/k4WYhYCQ/Ilves-Cup-SFDraw-2021.png

A home draw against KPV, and a chance to make the actual final. This game will be played on Sunday 9 May 2021, just adding to the congested fixture list already.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

https://i.postimg.cc/8zZN8Q5R/AJSig.png
https://i.postimg.cc/yYNcksw0/suomen-cup.jpg

Semi Final

Sunday 9 May 2021
https://i.postimg.cc/DzFqyTYH/Ilves-9521-Cup.png

Due to a strange quirk in the fixture planning, we were playing the semi-final just a week after the quarter final was concluded and our third game in just seven days.

As usual I made a few changes from the side that played SJK on the Thursday night. Cup keeper Daniel Kollar started in goal and Tuomas Rannakari was at left back. This meant of course that normal first choices in those positions, Johannes Laukkanen and Martti Haukioja were on the bench. Not a bad couple of replacements to call on and further proof that we have good depth, not excellent but good, in every position on the pitch.

We made the absolute perfect start with a goal in the first attack of the game. Colombian winger Daniel Garcia provided the cross and Niklas Jokelainen got that head of his onto it first to direct the ball into the net. The goal was timed at just 16 seconds, a second later than the same player's club record when he netted against HJK Helsinki last season! I bet some fans were still in the toilet or queuing up for their sahti (that's Finnish for beer) when the ball hit the back of the KPV onion bag. I actually spilled my beaker of tea with the excitement of it all.

The rest of the half saw each side push for goals but both defences were holding solid, and as such that early Jokelainen strike still separated the sides as the half time whistle sounded. That next goal was going to be crucial, and thankfully it came our way in the 53rd minute. Lakanen in the away goal miscued his clearance right to Garcia and he in turn picked out Jokelainen in space; the striker swivelled and then hammered an unstoppable effort into the roof of the net with Lakanen rooted to the spot. Their heads dropped after that, and we rubbed salt into the wounds with two more goals in the final minute.

As injury time started, we were awarded a penalty when Lethonen pushed Jani Tanska as they challenged for a free-kick flighted in by Tuure Siira. Jokelainen stepped up and confidently sent Lakanen the wrong way with a perfect penalty to the corner of the net and personally complete a superb hat-trick for the striker. It'll certainly not do his international claims any harm as he's been supposedly been watched by the national team boss recently. It was 4-0 in the second minute of injury time, another Siira free-kick and this time it was Rannakari who completed the rout by heading in at the far post. So what does this mean...

WE'RE PLAYING IN THE SUOMEN CUP FINAL!

https://i.postimg.cc/MHW6vs8W/Ilves-Cup-Final-2021.png

Unlike back home, the first team drawn will host the Cup Final and I'm hoping it proves to be a massive advantage. FC Inter Turku can't be discounted though, after all they won this tournament last season so they'll be hoping to try and retain the Cup.

As a result, the games against IFK Mariehamn (on the 20th) and HJK (on the 24th) have been postponed. They have rescheduled them for the 19th and 25th respectively (still crazy fixture planning if you ask me). Hopefully though we will get the right amount of preparation in our bid for a chance to win the Suomen Cup for the first time since 1990. Could I be on the brink of my first ever piece of Finnish League silverware. One hopes so...
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

https://i.postimg.cc/8zZN8Q5R/AJSig.png
https://i.postimg.cc/yYNcksw0/suomen-cup.jpg

Cup Final

Saturday 22 May 2021
https://i.postimg.cc/vZ9vv4Lk/Ilves-22521-Cup-Final.png

It was time for the big one, could we win the Suomen Cup?

I was forced into one change for the Final. Lauri Dalla Valle was injured in the closing stages of the game against IFK Mariehamn which wouldn't have happened if the Finnish FA had decided to postpone that game and give us a full week's prep for the Final. Bulgarian Ivan Belikov replaced him on the left wing. Otherwise I fielded my strongest possible side; with first team regulars Johannes Laukkanen and Jani Tanska starting the game. Laukkanen got the nod over Daniel Kollar in the net and Tanska was restored after a two game rest in place of Baba Mensah.

Both teams had chances in the first half but neither could make it count. I had taken a massive risk on starting young Naatan Skyttä despite him not being fully fit and a doubt to complete the game. By half time he was really struggling so I brought on Jusif Ali and moved Belikov into Skyttä's role, Ali occupied the vacant left wing spot. To be honest, they had a couple of clear chances to win it but the majority of the almost capacity crowd (as well as myself) breathed a collective sigh of relief when they went wide. Dane Daniel Stenderup was another one that was struggling too, and I had to replace him in the 71st minute. Just before 90 minutes were up, I made my final change with Tuomas Rannakari replacing Martti Haukioja.

With all my cards now played, could we do it? The game started to get chippy and in the final few minutes it really did as Inter were reduced to not ten, but NINE men! Martin Kuittinen was the first to see red in the 115th minute for a couple of yellow cards and then team-mate Nosh A Lody followed him into that early bath a couple of minutes later on. That said, the referee was a bit fussy with each side picking up three yellow cards apiece. Could we get a winner in those last three minutes plus added on time? The answer was sadly no and we headed into the lottery which is a penalty shoot out.

The shoot out lasted four rounds. After the clubs had traded two successful spot kicks apiece: Niklas Jokelainen and Sandro Garrattoni for us, Niko Markkula and Timo Furuholm for Inter, skipper Matias Ojala summoned up enough energy to blast in our third successive spot kick. Then Laukkanen saved from Teemu Pennikangas, advantage Ilves. Veteran defender Tanska managed to squeeze in our fourth, don't know how but he did, so it was pressure on Inter skipper Miika Ojala (no relation to Matias) to keep the shoot out alive. However, the winger thudded his spot kick against the post.

FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 1990, ILVES HAVE WON THE SUOMEN CUP!

A place in the Europa League now awaits us, and to be bloody honest we have so deserved this! What an achievement in my first full season in Finnish football. Now back to the bread and butter that is the Veikkausliiga, yeah?
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

https://i.postimg.cc/8zZN8Q5R/AJSig.png
Well done on the cup win, hopefully the Europa League is kind to you. Looking forward to your next update dude
Well done on the cup win, hopefully the Europa League is kind to you. Looking forward to your next update dude

Guaranteed @HockeyBhoy will get an absolute nightmare draw.
As an actual Ilves fan (from Tampere) this has been a great read!
Good job winning the Finnish Cup - looking forward for more silverware to Tampere
Guaranteed @HockeyBhoy will get an absolute nightmare draw.


Fingers crossed it's a kind draw.
Well done on the cup win, hopefully the Europa League is kind to you. Looking forward to your next update dude

Thank you, I hope it is kind as well but we shall see. Can only but improve my managerial reputation this.

Guaranteed @HockeyBhoy will get an absolute nightmare draw.

You know it mate, I got the same feeling already.

As an actual Ilves fan (from Tampere) this has been a great read!
Good job winning the Finnish Cup - looking forward for more silverware to Tampere

Glad to bring success, this has been a real challenge. Not sure if the board will be offering me a new contract, but we shall wait and see. Could be moving on again at the end of the current season.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

https://i.postimg.cc/8zZN8Q5R/AJSig.png
https://i.postimg.cc/26nkC5tw/Veikkausliigan-Logo.png

May 2021 in Review


Five more league games played in May, almost a third of the way through the league programme now.

Thursday 6 May 2021
https://i.postimg.cc/J0cCgnq1/Ilves-6521-Result.png

We began May with a return to SJK, the current league champions and the ones we dumped out of the Suomen Cup at the Second Round stage. I was half expecting them to give us an absolute tonking in revenge but it didn't happen. We actually made them look ordinary to be honest, and maybe if top scorer Niklas Jokelainen had remembered to bring his shooting boots with him then just maybe we could have beaten them again. Still taking a point from them is like a victory in itself.

Thursday 13 May 2021
https://i.postimg.cc/yYsHRm1W/Ilves-13521-Result.png

We were fully expected to win the next game as we hosted bottom of the table KPV at Tammelnstadion. Yet we failed to score for the second successive match, and it was damn annoying as hell. In 90 minutes we had 24 shots on their goal but couldn't make one count, they had a paltry two on ours. I have never felt so disappointed coming off the pitch with a terrible result. It was a match we should have won comfortably but didn't deliver at all.

Sunday 16 May 2021
https://i.postimg.cc/GhK1x4tK/Ilves-16521-Result.png

The second game in three days saw us travel back to Espoo for another game against FC Honka. They were obviously miffed that we had ended their Cup dreams, just like SJK, but the game took just over an hour to have its opening goal: Honka's top scorer Kasperi Liikonen scoring at the second attempt after Johannes Laukkanen had parried his initial effort. Their lead lasted just eight minutes though. Some superb play down the right wing by Sandro Garrattoni saw the Italian cross and it was Lauri Dalla Valle tucking it home unmarked at the far post. Liikonen restored their lead with ten minutes to go and it looked like we were heading for our first league defeat of the season. But remember this team does not quit easily now! In time added on, Dalla Valle sent Jokelainen away and the striker took one touch before smashing an unstoppable effort into the roof of their net. Our fans, and myself, went nuts! Dramatic stuff.

Wednesday 19 May 2021
https://i.postimg.cc/RZb522cn/Ilves-19521-Result.png

I really didn't want this game to be played to be honest, especially with the Cup Final just three days further on. However, by the end I changed my mind as we produced a sensational home performance. They had played two games beforehand but it didn't show as they put us under pressure from the get go. We broke the deadlock though in the 34th minute, Dalla Valle with the cross and Jokelainen outjumped the keeper to head in. Things got better after 51 minutes, a splendid second goal. Some great team play saw the ball land at the feet of skipper Matias Ojala and he smacked one home from fully 25 yards. IFK were shellshocked, we were literally bouncing.

It turned a wee bit sour with eight minutes left to play when Dalla Valle limped off with a twisted ankle and considering we had used all our subs, we had to soldier on with ten men. Yet we seemed to kick on more, none more than Tuomas Rannakari. On as a 65th minute sub for Ojala, the winger slotted into central midfield as if he had played there all his life. In the 86th minute, he arrived on scene to steer home a Martti Haukioja cross and then in added on time: he picked the ball up outside the box and I just yelled "Hit the f**king thing!" - he certainly did and it screamed in to complete a superb 4-0 win..

Tuesday 25 May 2021
https://i.postimg.cc/6Q2JKz0b/Ilves-25521-Result.png

Our final game in May saw us head into the capital to face HJK. There was no repeat of Jokelainen's 15 second goal there last season but the striker would have a massive say in the game though. Argentinian Matias Zaldivar gave them a 14th minute lead but we were level nine minutes later when Jokelainen slammed home from the spot after Haukioja had been impeded in the box. We took the lead in the 31st minute when Tuure Siira found Jyrki Saarinen and the young midfielder drilled home from the edge of the box. Within four minutes Sami Hyypiä's team were back on parity, Macauley Chrisantus with the goal. They felt they were deserving of the win but they didn't get it as we grabbed it with ten minutes to go to remain as the only undefeated side in the Veikkausliga; Siira again at the heart of it and then finished with a delicious half volley from Jokelainen that flew into the top corner.

We could have had more but held solid at the back but it was three huge away points. It was a result that temporarily put us back on the top of the Veikkausliga table, which changed 48 hours later after SJK predictably won 3-0 at KPV.

So after ten matches played, this is how we stand:

https://i.postimg.cc/brRZqqTT/Ilves-Table-End-May2021.png

We remain second in the table and have opened a bit of a gap over third placed HJK, and an even bigger gap over fourth placed RoPS. It is certainly becoming a season to remember so with the Suomen Cup now glistening in the Ilves trophy cabinet already. I seriously don't think we will win the Veikkausliiga this season but stranger things have happened in football haven't they? The board are seriously delighted with what I'm achieving as their confidence in me has rocketed to an amazing 85%, it's never been that high. The dressing room atmosphere also continues to rise, it's now at 86%. Unbelievable.

A month's break now from the domestic action. Perhaps that will allow my players some well needed recuperation after playing so many games in the last two months. They've deserved it for sure. For me, there's no rest as I'm back on Wales Under-21 duties..
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

https://i.postimg.cc/8zZN8Q5R/AJSig.png
https://i.postimg.cc/bJg5BxtY/Sky-Sports-Header-V1-2.png


Wales Under-21 squad announced for England and Greece friendlies

Last Updated: 30/05/2021 12:00pm

Mark Duell has named his squad for the upcoming friendlies against their English and Greek counterparts. It's a much changed squad with Duell naming a number of new faces due to the Welsh Under 20 squad taking part in the annual Toulon tournament and most of his regular choices have been called up for that.

Goalkeepers:
Nathan Evans (Sutton United)
David Robson (Hull City)
Cian Tyler (Coventry City)

Defenders:
Jonathan Letheren (Swansea City)
Callum Jarman (Cardiff City)
Sam Edwards (Swansea City)
Gerry Endean (AFC Wimbledon)
Brandon Cooper (Swansea City)
Tom Lewis (Coventry City)
Trystan Jones (Cardiff City)
Jamie Evans (Lincoln City)

Midfielders:
Anthony Hartigan (AFC Wimbledon)
Jordan Conway (Fleetwood Town)
Ian Holland (Connah's Quay Nomads)
Greg Partington (Wrexham)
Rabbi Matondo (Ipswich Town, on loan from Manchester City)
Cavan Williams (Cardiff City)
Joe Adams (Middlesbrough)
Aaron Davies (Hull City)

Strikers:
Matty Argent-Barnes (Barrow, on loan from Bolton Wanderers)
Luke James (Swansea City)
Jonathan MacDonald (Swansea City)
Robbie Dall (Raith Rovers)

The games will be played at the King Power Stadium in Leicester on 8 June 2021, and at the Racecourse Ground in Wrexham six days later.
The Man formerly known on SUSIE as Poolie Exile
Give my story a read - Now I would walk 500 miles...

https://i.postimg.cc/8zZN8Q5R/AJSig.png
Top work on the silverware mate hopefully many more to come!
New save coming for FM20...:- Heartbreak, misery, but hope on the horizon... https://i.imgur.com/vyxFXJL.png?1
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