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My first stint in Argentina to manage one of the club's most well know clubs, Newell's Old Boys.

Discussion
INTRODUCTION

Not very good with introductions, but in short after a long hiatus from the FM scene I have decided to make a return. This mainly due to the current situation going on around the world right now and has lead to the majority of us being stuck indoors and the biggest cure for that - of course - Football Manager. Now back in the day, and we're going a long way back here I used to be very active with careers and updates and on all the forums (even moderating one) although I believe my old account has been deleted on here - so yeah, definition of the Football Manager nerd - however growing up, heading to university as some of you may know lead me to slowly drift away. However, as mentioned with the current pandemic, I am planning to post a few career updates, I guess this is ultimately for myself in order to keep my mind in the right place and something to keep me from boredom during these tough times but hopefully a few of you will follow me on the journey. Anyway, here goes, it's like being 14 all over again...

CLUB

This was tough to do as I ultimately wanted something new and interesting. I have pretty much managed (sometimes extremely badly) everywhere available on Football Manager with only a handful of countries remaining untouched. I remember having a very enjoyable game years back in Uruguay which lead me to Brazil and I really enjoyed managing in South America so felt this was a good place to go keep me away from the boring stereotypical European football. Surprisingly, I don't remember ever managing a side in Argentina
which I find out so I felt best to head there.

As a Spurs ST holder and attending pretty much every game for the past 5/6 years I naturally have a love for ex-boss Mauricio Pochettino and Spurs have a long history with Argentine football with Ardiles and Villa back in the 1980s (Maradona has also graced a Spurs shirt) so what better club to choose than Mauricio's old stomping ground - Newell's Old Boys.

This is a club I am sure many of you have heard of given their production line of talent. The boyhood club of the great Lionel Messi and current Leeds boss, Marcelo Bielsa, whom their stadium is named after. Despite these household names in world football, Newell's have not replicated that success on the field with only 6 league titles, 3 cups and no silverware since 2013 (still more recently than Spurs, mind! ) Financially the club is not in the best of shapes so we'll be hugely reliant on our youth system but given its history I'm optimistic we'll be okay!

CLUB INFO

https://content.invisioncic.com/Msigames/monthly_2020_03/91_conmebol_arg.png.b95e8541482fc3005c264f0455432ef2.png


Founded: 1903
Nickname: Los Leprosos (The Lepers)
Ground (Capacity): Estadio Marcelo A. Bielsa (42,000)
Fierce Rivals: Rosario Central
Other Rivals: Union, Colon
Estimated Value: £9.96m
Media Prediction: 12th
Club Expectations: Mid-Table
Club Vision: Develop players within the club's youth system, Playing attacking football
Transfer Budget: Zero
Wage Budget (Remaining): £129.5k (Zero)
LEAGUE STRUCTURE

As I mentioned above, Argentina is not a place I have managed before so the domestic scene is completely new and involved some research. In short, the structure changes pretty much every year so it sounds like I'm in for some fun. It turns out that the AFA are attempting to reduce the league to 20 teams by the end of 2023/24 and subsequently one extra time is relegated until that season with the structure changing each year - with the overall plan to have an English Premier League type 38 game season.

Anyway for 2019/20 - the first phase is a straight league where we face each side once for a total of 23 games - in our case, that's 12 away and only 11 at home. It does however provide a good opportunity for continental qualification with half of the league gaining a place in either the Copa Libertadores or Copa Sudamericana. The second phase is another 11 fixtures bring the total to 34 games. The relegation decided by average points over the past three seasons - with me? Nope. Thought not. Either way should keep my interest!

In typical Football Manager fashion my fixture list for the first phase of the season is almost as bad as it could be. We're away to both Argentinean giants in Boca and River. In fact out of the Top 5 based on media prediction, we only face one at home, Racing Club (who are defending champions), and guess when that one is? Spot on. Our first game. I guess that's payback by SI for taking a break! The positives though are it does mean that the teams around us and below us we face at home which should hopefully play to our advantage.

SQUAD

The squad is fairly well balanced on arrival. We have depth in most positions which is good news as I literally have no funds and a fairly good looking youth squad which I will hopefully develop one or two first team candidates throughout the season. It appears that our better players are all on loan - two of which are from one of the big boys in Independiente.

KEY MAN

Maxi Rodriguez | M/AM RLC | Age: 38
https://content.invisioncic.com/Msigames/monthly_2020_03/422241368_MaxiRodriguez(2).jpg.ae33132974b9ce1a0414c69c45677e06.jpg

A veteran 38 year old Maxi Rodriguez is in the ranks and one of the icons on the club. It turns out he's been playing his trade here since his departure in 2012 from Liverpool (with a short stint in Uruguay) so a huge influence on the team. I just hope he still has legs at his age.

KEY YOUTH PROSPECT

Jeronimo Cacciabue | DM/MC | Age: 21
https://content.invisioncic.com/Msigames/monthly_2020_03/527812933_Cacciabue(2).jpg.817b58fd6500ca54c6f0e9554429b833.jpg

This guy looks very useful and will hopefully be a key part of my midfield over the coming seasons. He's already rocking at a 3.5 star ability and arguably my best midfielder however he hasn't got too much match experience but I'm hopefully he'll be able to hit the ground running.

TRANSFERS

This was always going to be a tough area given the limitations of our current financial situation. I wanted to bring in one or two on free transfers but needed the scope for that which involved offloading some players I felt would not be a huge part of my plans. I had a large number of strikers in the squad, two of which were on loan, so felt that was the best area to look to strip out and I managed to offload Luis Leal (£625k) and Alexis Rodriguez (£1.5m) which raised some much needed funds although I only retain 30% of transfer revenue. I opted to bring in Fernando Tissone as my only notable signing to add some experience to a my currently young midfield. He makes his return from Europe having played in Spain, Italy and most recently Portugual. At 33, he should still have some of his good years left in him.

https://content.invisioncic.com/Msigames/monthly_2020_03/1685513477_Tissone(2).jpg.50454cc0bdaf9ebee75db49ea897ec2a.jpg


I have allowed my Head of Youth Development to bring in one or two youngsters on frees to bolster the youth ranks but none look anything special for the time being. Other than that, I've used the funds to bring in some help improve the backroom staff.

The league campaign has just got underway, I am planning to do an update every 10/15 games or so.
A NEWELL'S ADVENTURE
Game Date: 21st October 2019

Results and Table

https://content.invisioncic.com/Msigames/monthly_2020_03/Results1.jpg.94cbb4b6058bbfb639420f5c52a2def3.jpg https://content.invisioncic.com/Msigames/monthly_2020_03/League1.jpg.d51b288292ac2dfdcd2346464a5c2347.jpg


Summary

It was a really tough start to the season with a tough run of fixtures for our first six. We lost the three games I'd expect away at Boca and the two against Racing and Velez, the latter being an 87th minute winner. That said I was extremely disappointed we dropped points against Aldosivi and Arsneal. We faced 10 men and couldn't capitalise against Aldosivi and I don't even want to talk about the trip to Arsenal - 25 shots and over 60% possession and drew 0-0 with the side expected to go down. However, we managed to pick up back-to-back wins followed by another draw at home to Atl. Tucuman which was another disappointing draw given our dominance.

It's clear to see that we are capable of playing the attacking, dominant football in line with the club's philisophy against the majority of the sides in the league, however, the gap between us and probably the Top 8/9 of the league is ridiculous at the moment so bridging that gap is going to be one of the biggest challenge. We haven't been embarrassed any of the games but I am shutting up shop. We quite unfortunate in our final two against Independiente and Boca. We conceded early and just couldn't get level but thankfully wasn't overwhelmed.

We sit way back and down the league table in 18th and five points adrift from the continental positions. It's not all doom and gloom though and I am quite optimistic for the second half of the season. The five defeats we have are against teams I expected too as they were against the bigger sides. I look at maybe 8/9 being the big sides in the league and we only have two of them to face in our final 12 fixtures with the majority of those teams below or around us.

Key Matches

27 July 2019 | Superliga | Matchday 1
Newell's Old Boys 3 - 5 Racing Club

Ideally not the fixture you want in your first game in charge facing the league holders. We were 2-0 down at half-time, 4-0 by 65 minutes and fair to say I was ready to hand in my resignation. We got it back to 4-3 with a couple of minutes to go however conceded on the counter chasing an equaliser. The last half an hour hugely encouraging, mind.

16 September 2019 | Superliga | Matchday 7
Newell's Old Boys 1 - 0 Huracan

Finally, we got the illusive win! It has only taken the seven attempts but nevertheless - we've done it! A very scrappy performance but given how our season had started a win of any kind was much needed. It was an unlikely source as our young star centre half Stefano Callegari who headed in from a corner late on to give us our first win of the season.

Player Performances

Given our below average start to the season as expected player performances have been sub-standard for most of the season. The decline of Maxi Rodriguez is painful to watch and I was really hoping he would be a leader to the side with his age and experience but so far he's been one of our worst performers. The only highlight was his free-kick against Patronato but otherwise extremely disappointing and struggling to get into the side - maybe I'm still living off that wonder volley against Mexico in the 2006 World Cup in Germany (showing my age!) but given that was 14 years ago, I shouldn't really be surprised!

Positives though, one of the youngesters has been arguably our best performer - albeit not too hard. 22 year-old Stefano Callegari has been brilliant at centre back and currently has the highest average rating in the side. He notched his first goal in our first victory and has really kicked on from there.
A NEW-ELL'S ADVENTURE
Game Date: 8th March 2020

Results and Table

https://content.invisioncic.com/Msigames/monthly_2020_03/343625337_Fixtures2(3).jpg.93bc536dae77c4c38f57677b267c8f44.jpg


https://content.invisioncic.com/Msigames/monthly_2020_03/1681688820_Table2(2).jpg.27735e4f7fda39a81fd352df1ba60a49.jpg


Summary

It turned out to be a very impressive finish to the season after our start. As mentioned, as our fixtures were fairly tough we had a favourable run-in and thankfully we took advantage. We only lost two which on paper were expected defeats away at Estudiantes and San Lorenzo. The highlight was the shock 1-0 win at high-flying Lanus and that really proved the catalyst. The frustrating thing was the amount of draws, we had 9 in our 23 matches and if we'd converted a few more of those into victories we'd have been quite comfortable. Thankfully, we only need a point in our final game to seal a Copa Sudamericana spot and we managed to win that 1-0. I believe that qualifies us for the first round which will be in 2021 so that's something to look forward too. It'll give us a chance to hopefully earn a bit more income as we are really, really struggling financially as a club. We hardly generate any income whatsoever - sponsorship is low and gate receipts are not fantastic.

We were in a bit of relegation scrap through most of the season and the board were really putting the pressure on me through the middle of the season, thankfully the team responded and our status was secured shortly after the 1-1 draw with Gimnasia.

River claimed the title on the final day of the season by a point, narrowly edging arch rivals Boca.

Key Matches

2 November 2019 | Superliga | Matchday 13
Lanus 0 - 1 Newell's Old Boys

What a result this one was! Our first real scalp of any kind in the division and a much, much needed win after a run of five without one. It's fair to say we rode our luck in this one but quite frankly I could not care! I personally thought we did an extremely good job. We took the lead early, unsurprisingly it was Stefano Callegari with the goal from a corner for his second of the season and we managed to restrict Lanus to only a handful of opportunities and thankfully it gave us a much needed win heading into the Rosario derby.

22 November 2019 | Superliga | Matchday 14
Newell's Old Boys 0 - 0 Rosario Central

And so came that Rosario derby after a week off due to Copa Argentina. The performance was very, very good. Rosario had been on a great run of games in recent weeks and were unbeaten in 7 with 5 victories heading into this one. We played really well, probably our best performance under my management so far. The result was a good reflection of that although I thought we'd knicked it late on but a late winner was ruled out for offside. It would've been a fairy-tale it was scored by one of the youth players I promoted, Luciano Cingolani, who was only making his third start.

Winter Transfer Window

Given the detrimental financial situation, I was not really able to bring in any players and in all fairness I wasn't that keen to do so. We have quite a deep squad, especially with some of the youth players coming through so I am hoping, in line with the club's philosophy to nurture this talent into the first team as it'll be a lot cheap and more sustainable option. As a result, I was able to find one or two which I have brought through during the season which has allowed me to streamline the squad a bit more and offload some of the higher earning players that are not needed.

Firstly, Mauro Formica, whom some of you may know from his Blackburn days has been sold to Mexican side Tijuana for £950k. He was our third highest earning player. He was a good player but didn't really fit my formation. Secondly, despite the fact none of them can score, I have quite a few strikers on the books so I have managed to offload Cristian Insaurralde (£750k). Finally, the only other notable departure was veteran third choice goalkeeper Nelson Ibanez for a nominal fee (£43.5k). I managed to save around £12k
worth of wages from these three alone. Other than that, I managed to send a few of the promising youngsters out on loan to clubs throughout South America so fingers crossed this can be a good start to their development.

PHASE TWO

Okay, so with that out the way we now head into the second and final phase of the 19/20. This is a fairly short size 'additional' part to the season following on from the main Superliga. It is named the Copa de la Superliga with the league split into two with the Top 2 positions for each qualifying for the play-offs. I doubt we'll be close to that so I am just planning to develop a few of the younger players and push for as high finish as we can. We also now have the actual domestic cup, Copa Argentina, to play for as well - this bizarrely runs through the calendar year. We've been drawn away at fellow top division side Colon, who finished just above us in the first phase so a winnable tie. We did, of course, meet in the first phase where we drew 1-1 early in my reign.
A NEW-ELL'S ADVENTURE
Game Date: 31 May 2020

Results and Table

https://content.invisioncic.com/Msigames/monthly_2020_03/933137781_20200322110314_1(2).jpg.26134ba3049ed5198a271c6b033c2bee.jpg https://content.invisioncic.com/Msigames/monthly_2020_03/1548221176_20200322111321_1(2).jpg.75cb3bc5a476e6500e4efc9d6a589d8a.jpg


Summary

I was fairly pleased with our performance in the Copa Superliga. The board didn't really have any expectations just saying to be competitive which we more than were. We managed to finish 6th, winning five and losing six. We got our first win against one of the giants in River Plate and we were quite unfortunate against Boca in our final match. I was slightly disappointed as we did have a chance of sneaking a playoff spot. We were sitting second after the 4-2 victory against Huracan but four defeats in our final five was nowhere near good enough and I was very disappointed to the end the season the way we did.


Key Matches

14 March 2020 | Copa Superliga | Matchday 1
River Plate 1 - 2 Newell's Old Boys

The worst possible start to the Copa Superliga campaign with a trip away to newly crowned league champions River Plate. However, that was not to be feared - a super performance by the entire XI we managed to claim our biggest scalp today with a 2-1 victory at the home of the Champions. I won't be getting too carried away here as River certainly sent out a weakened side but I guess you can only beat what is in front of you!?

14 April 2020 | Copa Argentina | Fifth Round
Colon 0 - 1 Newell's Old Boys

My first game in the traditional Copa Argentina. I thought the game would be played away from home, but it was actually played in Buenas Aires for some reason at a neutral venue. Thankfully, we got the result. It was a fairly good performance we scored early on and limited Colon to scraps for the rest of the match to send us into Round 6 (Round of 32) where we'll face second tier outfit Neuva Chicago at the start of next season.

Season Summary

Competitions

Superliga Argentina: 12th
Copa Argentina: Active (Sixth Round v. Nueva Chicago)
Copa Superliga: Eliminated (Group Stage)

Player Stats

Top Goalscorer: Lucas Albertengo (7)
Highest Average Rating: Stefano Callegari (7.01)
Most Assists: Sebastian Palacios (7)
Most MOTM: Stefano Callegari (5)

I can't say I was expecting much more that we did this season. I was pleased to qualify for the Copa Sudamericana next season which will give us an extra challenge and hopefully earn some extra income. We are still in the Copa Argentina and have a good chance of progression in the next round which continues next season.

It's going to be a tough summer for us and I really don't know what to expect. I've got a few loans ending and contracts expiring and very little money to reinvest although I am optimistic I can bring in one or two on a free as we are in dire need of a striker. We are hugely in debt due to a lack of income and sponsorship so any sizeable offer that comes in for one of my better players will need to be strongly considered.

I will do an update before the start of the season.
A NEW-ELL'S ADVENTURE
Game Date: 8th August 2020

League Structure

The league structure has only slightly changed for the 2020/21 season. As discussed way back in my opening post, the AFA are attempting to get the league to a standardised 20 team league with 38 fixtures. For this campaign, we have dropped to 23 teams and therefore it's now only 22 games. We play each team once with fixtures "randomly generated" - I put that in quotation marks because once again out of the top eight last season, we play six of them away and only two at home. Great. Either way, I'm hoping to improve on last season.

This is followed by the Copa Superliga which is the exact same format as last season. In pre-season, we played our sixth round Copa Argentina match which we won 1-0 setting up a seventh round tie with Huracan and due to us scraping 12th last season - we also start the Copa Sudamericana in January 2021 in the first round.

Expectations:

Superliga: Mid-Table
Copa Argentina: Quarter Final (Currently 7th Round/Round of 16)
Copa Superliga: Be Competitive
Copa Sudamericanca: TBC

Transfers

I made a decision to get rid of the majority of the players whose contracts expired in the summer in order to save wages and rebuild. Similarly, I also did not opt to renew any loans to help keep my options. Maxi Rodriguez retired and in the nicest possible way - it was probably for the best!

In order to make things even more fun, the board slashed the wage budget down to £100k which was £30k less than last year. However, through some (tad bias here) impressive work in the market, I managed to get that up to £110k through sales and more importantly I finally got salaries within wage budget!

It was a lot of hard work. I had some very promising youth players that my head of youth development was telling me were first team candidates with that in mind, I was able to take advantage and flog two of my full backs - Mariano Bittolo (£1.5m) and Facundo Nadalin (£1.1m). I also managed to offload one of my fringe midfielders Braian Rivero (£1m) which raised a total of £3.6m in transfer fees, the majority of which were upfront and I managed to include a few future clauses for Nadalin and Rivero who were both under 25. I, unsurprisingly, had to pretty much shift the entire transfer budget generated from these to the wage budget to make them manageable.

Furthermore, I opted to loan a lot of the younger players out in order to further their development and help save me some more in wages. All loan deals were at 100% wages and most went out fewer than a starter so hopefully that'll be great for their own development.

However, the tight use of my budget and loaning out a lot of the squad did allow me enough wages within budget to bring in a much needed striker - Walter Bou from Boca Juniors. He comes in on fairly high wages at £4.6k a week which makes him one of our top five earners but I didn't have much choice and it was more importantly, affordable. I have quite a promising young striker in Roman Bravo who has been okay and done fairly well for me but at 19, he's not really good enough at this time. I'm hoping that Bou can bring us some much needed attacking threat.

https://content.invisioncic.com/Msigames/monthly_2020_03/Bou.jpg.870d999d26582caa8edb539775646f2b.jpg


Squad

https://content.invisioncic.com/Msigames/monthly_2020_03/League.jpg.02bb35c24f8b6e19db34c8ffe022f081.jpg


You can see I have quite good squad depth, I have had to pad out with some of the youngsters who came through last season. In normal circumstances I'd have looked to bring in one or two and loan them out in order to get them more top level experience that I may not be able to guarantee them, however, I have no choice and in all fairness I can't exactly afford any 'top' players so I doubt I could find much better at the moment.

You may note the average age of my squad is fairly young - 23 to be exact - so sticking to the club's philosophy. As I mentioned in the last window, I wasn't really playing an attacking midfielder but we have a few coming through the ranks and I have opted to switch my style for this season as this may allow us to play a more attacking approach as the board were not particularly impressed with my approach last season so hopefully this tweak in formation and approach will help satisfy that need.

Key Players

Luciano Cingolani | AM R/L | Age: 19 | Value: £950k
https://content.invisioncic.com/Msigames/monthly_2020_03/2071811394_Cinogolani(2).jpg.107739d072664cd0a8d2632e26af90bd.jpg

Luciano broke through into the team last season at the expense of the vastly declining Maxi Rodriguez and really took it into his stride and became a regular first team during the season and I am keen to see how he gets on this campaign. He will have competition from the returning Joaquin Torres, who was out on loan in the Greek Super League last campaign.

Anibal Moreno | A/M C | Age: 21 | Value: £2.8m
https://content.invisioncic.com/Msigames/monthly_2020_03/1911515195_Moreno(2).jpg.2ecbbc1d7ba9dc531e49c190563c97df.jpg

I save the best until last. I must be honest, I was expecting his midfield partner in crime, Cacciabue, to be the main heartbeat of the midfield but it turns out it is actually this guy. Comfortably the best player in the squad and hugely important to any success we have in the future. The problem may well turn out to be keeping hold of him.

Key Youth Prospect

Juan Sebastian Sforza | AMC | Age: 18 | Value: £825k
https://content.invisioncic.com/Msigames/monthly_2020_03/1286878390_Sforza(2).jpg.95759e4d9ca206efe0add7e95e2b8844.jpg

Sforza is definitely our best player out of our current youth crop. At 18, he is our best attacking midfielder and as you can see highly rated by the staff. I gave him a few games off the bench last season in the Copa Superliga but I'm planning to utilise him a lot more this season. I am going to take a more attacking, controlling approach this season and revert to a 4-2-3-1 and I am hoping that Sforza will be a huge part of that.
A NEW-ELL'S ADVENTURE
Game Date: 28 October 2020

Results and Table

https://content.invisioncic.com/Msigames/monthly_2020_03/643653867_Fixtures(2).jpg.c4bb761bfd5bdd97d27f8f98697913a1.jpg https://content.invisioncic.com/Msigames/monthly_2020_03/857555171_Table(2).jpg.65f0f7ec7f2dd5ac12672788d6f08b43.jpg


Summary

It's been a very impressive start to the season. We sit in 7th place and just two points outside the Copa Libertadores spots and we look good for at least the Copa Sudamericana with a five point cushion back to 13th although I am optimistic we can push for a Libertadores spot. I was, however, slightly disappointed with our final two league matches considering both are in the lower third of the table. We were pushing for the winner against Godoy Cruz but couldn't get the breakthrough and Huracan was just naivety from the team really. We were comfortable and lead from the 5th minute only to concede an equaliser bang on full-time - it's safe to say I wasn't too impressed as that was vital points dropped! That said, we are still in a good position with 11 to go.

It was heartbreak in the Copa Argentina as we crashed out on penalties to River Plate. I'll be honest it was a miracle we even got to penalties given our performance but nevertheless, it was a good chance to get though in when we made it to penalties but it wasn't to be. We made the board's expectations which was a positive.

We also start out Copa Sudamericana in this half of the season, so I'm excited to see how far we can. The biggest thing with that is the much needed appearance money having nosed at the rules it appears we are in for a much needed £200k each round we progress. The board hasn't set an expectation yet, but I'm hoping to make it to the Quarter Finals but ultimately that'll depend on our draws.

My next game will be my 50th in charge - a record of 20W-13D-16L from my 49 games which I am fairly happy with considering the mess the club were in.

Key Matches

2 August 2020 | Superliga | Matchday 2
Central Cordoba 0 - 4 Newell's Old Boys
This was an enjoyable game and without a doubt the best performance I have seen whilst in charge. We were so, so comfortable. A dominate performance and goals from youngsters as well. Cacciabue, Callegari and Gonzalez all on the score sheet with Palacios getting the other.

26 September | Superliga | Matchday 9
Lanus 0 - 2 Newell's Old Boys
This was up there in terms of performances, we successfully managed to replicate our success last year and claim another result away at Lanus, albeit Lanus nowhere near their best. A dominate performance saw Fontanini head us into an early lead on the 11th minute before Palacios sealed the victory in stoppage time on the break. In all honesty, the game should've been out of sight by half-time but we couldn't knick the second. We came under pressure for the last fifteen minutes as expected but held on and knicked the second sending the away fans into pandemonium.

Player Performances

Our young centre back Stefano Callegari continues to impress. He has the highest average rating at 7.36 from his games this season and along with his partner Fabricio Fontanini the two of them have really formed a solid base at the back. They are currently the top goal scorers this season along with winger Sebastian Palacios with 3 each. Palacios' loan is due to expire at the end of December. I am going to attempt to renew it until the end of the season otherwise I'll be in the market for another winger.

However, Walter Bou has been extremely disappointing so far. He scored on his debut and I thought that I was onto a winner but it turned out to be his only goal in the nine games he has played for us - and he missed the decisive penalty against River. I do have the option to terminate the loan so I may consider exercising that option if I can find a better striker in the winter window.

A NEW-ELL'S ADVENTURE
Game Date: 22 January 2020

Winter Transfer Window

ItI didn't plan to do too much in terms of ins and outs and my priority was sealing longer term contracts for some of the key players within the squad but that was not to be and it turned out to be a busy one. Unfortunately, I was unable to tie Joaquin Torres to a long term deal as he was asking for £7.5k a week which was nowhere near viable as a result I was forced to sell. Thankfully, Brazilian side Atletico Goianiense were willing to fork out £375k for him and I felt I could not turn that down. Add to this, Indepenidente were not willing to loan me back Sebastian Palacios so annoyingly we lost him as well leaving me short on wingers. Thankfully, they were the only forced departures.

I did however opt to sell one of my defensive midfielders Julian Fernandez. He was one of the better players in my first season, however with the change of formation he sort of fell out of favour as I no longer played with an out and out DM and he has not really adapted to the central midfield role and in all honesty he was not going to get in ahead of either Cacciabue or Moreno. I have Tissone still abot and anoter youngster Jose Suarez has started to breakthrough - with that in mind, I opted to sell Julian for £2.5m to Mexican side Pumas. Another notable departure was Francisco Fydriszweski who had never kicked a ball for me as he was out on loan the whole time I have been in charge. I received an offer of £1.5m and even though he could have been a much needed striker, I felt I could cope with what we have got and I could not turn down that kind of cash.

The hardest part of the window was the inevitable chase for Moreno. He's comfortably our best player and Mexican giants America were all over him during January. I was holding out for a £10m minimum. They came very, very close. They offered around £9m but that was not all up front and therefore it was swiftly rejected. Thankfully, Moreno isn't keen to force a move so we've held on to him until the summer at least.

My scouts stumbled across striker Nicolas Ibanez from Atletico de Madrid on a loan. He was a poacher so felt better into our system and thus opted to take him and end Walter Bou's loan - also saved around £2k in wages. I was also able to sign replacement wingers on loan in Nazareno Solis (Boca) and Gui Azevedo (Gremio) who will help fill the void left from Palacios and Torres' departures.

COPA SUDAMERICANA

We have drawn Brazilian side Atletico Goianiense in the first round of the Copa Sudamericana. It looks like we'll be seeing Joaquin Torres sooner rather than later. The first leg is away in Brazil.
A NEW-ELL'S ADVENTURE
Game Date: 14 March 2021

Results and Table

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Summary

It was a 7th placed finish in the league this season for us which was a huge improvement on last season and was above expectations. We finished six points outside the Copa Libertadores places but were right in the hunt for that final spot until the very last day but a defeat to nearest qualification rivals San Lorenzo ended our chances. That said, we were comfortable in qualifying for the Copa Sudamericana for the second season running and I am delighted with that. It was steps in the right direction and hopefully can be the start of our push to narrow the gap to some of the big boys and seal a Copa Libertadores spot next season.

We drew our Copa Sudamericana First Round First leg match away in Brazil 2-2 which has set us up for the second leg. I was hoping to give you an update on that second leg before the Copa Superliga got underway but unfortunately the game has been postponed twice and isn't for a couple of weeks.

Similar to last season, the league campaign is followed by the Copa Superliga which follows the same format as last season with two groups each playing once with the top two qualifying for Semi Finals. We've been handed a favourable group with the only side that finished above us being Boca Juniors whom we play last.

Key Matches

24 January 2021 | Superliga | Matchday 12
Newell's Old Boys 1 - 0 River Plate
A dream debut for Nicolas Ibanez as he fired in the only goal against River. It was sweet revenge for the Copa Argentina defeat and a convincing and deserved victory against the reigning Champions.

10 February 2021 | Copa Sudamericana | First Round | First Leg
Atletico Goianiense 2 - 2 Newell's Old Boys
This was certainly up there when it comes to turnarounds I have had on Football Manager. We were 2-0 down with 16 minutes to go before two loan signings in the winter, Solis and Ibanez, notched from corners to scrape us a 2-2 draw away from home. We got it back to 2-1 and I was happy with that knowing the second leg was at home. Moreno then got sent off so I shut up shot clinging for the narrow defeat to take home but Nicolas Ibanez had different ideas as he headed in his third goal in four to snatch a miraculous 2-2 draw which sets us up nicely for the second leg.

6 March 2021 | Superliga | Matchday 22
San Lorenzo 1 - 0 Newell's Old Boys
The entire season came down to one match. We played San Lorenzo in a winner takes all match for Copa Libertadores qualification. We sat three points and two goals behind at kick-off and any kind of victory would've seen us seal that last Copa Libertadores spot. We started well but after a promising start we switched off from a corner and were punished. We rallied back and hit the post twice also forcing their keeper into multiple saves but sadly could not get the goals we needed to turn the match in our favour. Copa Sudamericana it is!

Player Performances

I'll keep this short and sweet and there's only one man getting a shout out here. The loan signing of Nicolas Ibanez has been a huge steal for us. I took a risk with terminating Bou's loan and got this guy in and he has been nothing short of exceptional so far. He has 4 goals and 1 assist in his 7 appearances for us and been a much needed boost to the side. I doubt we'll be able to afford him permanently in the summer but if he carries on like this I may have to strongly consider it.
A NEW-ELL'S ADVENTURE
Game Date: 31 May 2021

Results and Table

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Summary
It's fair to say the final third was a mixture - I was hoping to make a good account of ourselves in the Copa Superliga but it turns out we didn't fancy turning up. The epitomy being the performance against Huracan which was no short of embarrassing, we got humiliated by a side who were fighting for their lives in the league. I sent a rotated squad and it's fair to say that some of these players will have to do an awful lot to prove they can wear the shirt again. They did, however, refund supporters who made the trip. It was so much of an abysmal display that I have left the final group table out of this post. We finished 7th out of 10.

A positive is that we got through in the Copa Argentina, albeit it not convincingly scraping past Second Division side Platense on penalties to set-up a Sixth Round tie with Huracan which will take place in Buenas Aires - a chance at revenge after the 6-1
humiliation, I guess!

The only real decent showing was in the Copa Sudamericana. We drew another Brazilian side in Internacional and cruised past them and into the Third Round. The only real thing that came good of the Copa Superliga was that we were so bad and didn't stand a chance of qualifying that I was able to rest heading into these two ties. We managed to get the job done in the first leg with a 2-0 victory in Brazil. I opted for a defensive approach in the second leg to see the tie through and thankfully we managed to do just that with Internacional's goal coming in the last 5 minutes. We have drawn Ecuadorian outfit Liga de Quito in the Third Round whom possess former Manchester United and Wigan Athletic full back Antonio Valencia. The first leg to be played in the Ecuadorian capital, Quito.

Key Matches

19 May 2021 | Copa Sudamericana | Third Round | First Leg
Internacional 0 - 2 Newell's Old Boys
After the disappointing show in the Copa Superliga I was keen to at least do ourselves proud against Internacional. We put in a dominant display in Brazil to set-up us up for the second leg with the tie firmly in our grasp. Francisco Gonzalez's header fired us into a first half lead which allowed us to sit back on the counter and it was the counter that allowed us to double our advantage in the 88th minute - youngest Roman Bravo getting on the end of a swift counter attack to take a 2-0 lead back to Rosario. Thankfully, despite a 1-0 home defeat we were able to triumph and move into the Third Round.

SEASON 20/21 SUMMARY

Competitions

Superliga: 7th Place
Copa Superliga: Group Stage (Eliminated)
Copa Argentina: Sixth Round [v Huracan (N)]*
Copa Sudamericana: Third Round [v Liga de Quito]*

*Competition still active

Player Stats

Top Goalscorer: Nicolas Ibanez (6)
Most Assists: Luciano Cingolani and Juan Sebastian Sforza (4)
Highest Average Rating: Fabricio Fontanini (7.17)
Most MOTM: Stefano Callegari and Jeronimo Cacciabue (4)

End of Season Awards and Best XI (2020/21)
A NEW-ELL'S ADVENTURE
Game Date: 8 AUGUST 2021

League Structure

So, as mentioned, we have another change to the league structure. This time we are down to 22 teams in the current division and now we meet in a simple league format playing each team home and away. It therefore will result in 42 league matches this season and also means the end to the Copa Superliga which has now ended. The league has not made it clear how the continental places will work for this season however I am guessing this will now be done on the average points table rather than the actual league itself, similar to how relegation is decided.

Expectations:

Superliga: Mid-Table
Copa Argentina: Seventh Round (Currently Sixth Round)
Copa Sudamericanca: Quarter Final (Currently Third Round)

Transfers

This season was going to be another tough one for us (as they all will be to be honest!) and it was obvious I was going to have to look to sell just to keep the club going. I was keen not to sell any of my best players but there was enough fringe or squad players I could make good money from or older players that I was willing to move on. The issue I have is the vast number of players I loan have to loan out to reduce the wage bill as these all return at one time and as you can imagine this really hits us hard and makes it very hard to bring in any players early.

In terms of notable departures, we sold centre back Fabricio Fontanini to Brazilian side Goias for £1.2m. He was one of my starting central defenders last year but with some of the youth prospects avaliable and the money offered there was no hesitation but to accept the offer especially as he had just turned 31. Similarly, I have two fairly young right backs who have broken through and that left me with the option to sell one of the older RBs, Ignacio Rivera to Independiente for £500k and finally we sold striker Lisandro Cabrera Estudiantes (the Buenas Aires one) for £700k which could rise to £875k.

As mentioned, any incomings were going to be late. We managed to bring in two loan players on deadline to help bolster the squad. Firstly, young centre half Pablo Tripoli joined from Boca Juniors on loan who will be an adequate back-up for the first team and Facundo Salto on loan from defend champions Racing Club. I am hopefully he will be able to fill the goal void left by Nicolas Ibanez's return to Madrid.

Ins: Pablo Tripoli (Loan), Facundo Salto (Loan)
Notable Outs: Fabricio Fontanini (£1.2m), Lisandro Cabrera (£825k*), Ignacio Riveria (£500k), Nicolas Castro (£300k)

Transfer Activity 2021

Squad
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Key Player

10 | Juan Sebastian Sforza | AMC | Age: 19 | Value: £1.9m (PROFILE)
This guy came on leaps and bounds last season and really improved. He, well by the opinion of the coaching staff, is the best player in our squad at 4.5 stars closely followed by Moreno and Cacciabue. I personally still think Moreno is our best player for the record. He is hugely sort after and keeping hold of him is going to be very, very hard especially if he carries on at this level and at one point last season we had Chelsea, City and Tottenham interested in him but thankfully none made a concrete bid. The only criticism I have of him is his goals and assists tally as that is non-existent and I am hoping this season he can add that to his game. He got 3 goals and 4 assists from his 39 appearances (0G/1A in the league) last season which is a very poor return.

Key Youth Prospect

5 | Gonzalo Caffaro | DC | Age: 18 | Value: £650k (PROFILE)
Gonzalo came through my youth ranks and was in my first intake of youth players in 2020. He was highly rated and it was clear he would be knocking on the door sooner rather than later and he has done just that. I sent him out on loan for the second half of last season to fellow Superliga side Central Cordoba and he was quite impressive in his limited appearances. He's come back and certainly looks like he'll be starting for me this season, he's probably our highest rated youth prospect and no doubt he'll be in line for a big money move to one of Europe's giants in a few years.
A NEW-ELL'S ADVENTURE
Game Date: 7 NOVEMBER 2021

Well, I wasn't planning to give an update here I was planning to give a midseason update - however, I have huge, huge news!

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Results

21/27 July 2021 | Copa Sudamericana | Third Round
First Leg | Liga de Quito 0 - 1 Newell's Old Boys
Second Leg | Newell's Old Boys (3) 2 - 1 (1) Liga de Quito
There isn't too much to say here as we were extremely comfortable across both legs. Luciano Cingolani's first half goal was enough to give us a lead to take back to Argentina. We did slip behind in the second leg but Sforza equalised just 10 minutes later before Cingolani added a second on the stroke of half time to give us a 3-1 aggregate lead and all but kill the tie.

18/25 August 2021 | Copa Sudamericana | Quarter Final
First Leg | Newell's Old Boys 1 - 1 Corinthians
Second Leg | Corinthians (2) 1 - 1 (2) Newell's Old Boys - Newell's win 16-15 on penalties
We dominated the first leg but a late Corinthians goal saw them have an away goal to protect back in Brazil. In regards to the second leg, I think for me this was our best result in my management, albeit with a hint of fortune! We didn't start particularly well in the second leg falling behind early to Guga's 7th minute goal. I was fearing the worst but the team rallied to get themselves back into the game and we were rewarded as Anibal Moreno scored with 20 minutes to go to bring us level in the tie. Fagner was sent-off for the home side shortly after and I was hopefully we could push on and knick a winner but it wasn't to be so we headed to penalties. It was an utterly ridiculous penalty shoot-out which we won 16-15 in the end with 18 penalties being taken by each side - truly bonkers. And if you wanted to appreciate how mental it was our Goalkeeper Alan Aguerre scored our 16th penalty before saving the next to win the tie. Ridiculous!

It set us up for an all Argentine affair against Defensa y Justicia in the Semi Final.

23/30 September 2021 | Copa Sudamericana | Semi Final
Defensa Y Justicia 1 - 1 Newell's Old Boys
Newell's Old Boys (1) 0 - 0 (1) Defensa Y Justicia
I was fairly confident heading into both games as Defensa y Justicia had not started particularly well to the season and we had started to pick up a bit of form in the league. That said, it was draw after the first leg which I was extremely annoyed with. We played exceptionally well and really should've killed the tie but we were unable to score the second and you always run the risk - and we were punished in the 92nd minute as a result after a poor pass by young centre back Tripoli allowed them to score a undeserved equaliser. The second leg was a more nervy affair, despite being at home I decided that I was going to take a more defensive approach given our away goal and thankfully it paid off. It wasn't pretty, but bar a frantic last five minutes we were fairly good for the clean sheet that we needed to take us through to the Copa Sudamericana Final!

6 November 2021 | Copa Sudamericana | Final | Estadiuo Nacional Julio Martinez Pradanos, Santiago, Chile
Newell's Old Boys 2 - 0 America de Cali
The nerves were high for this one, the biggest game in my short managerial reign at Newell's - the Copa Sudamericana Final. We were favourites on paper despite notable losses of both young centre backs Gonzalo Caffaro and Pablo Tripoli (injured) and winger Luciano Cingolani (suspended). It was a cagey first half with neither side really looking that impressive but the second half the game came alive. Meriles in for the suspended Cingolani hammered the cross bar inside the first minute of the second half before an inform Sforza came to life controlling the tempo and it was from his long range effort that lead to the breakthrough after the 'keeper tipped his effort wide allowing Facundo Salto to get on the end of Moreno's corner to fire us into a 1-0 lead with less than 20 minutes to go. Salto has been a hugely disappointing figure so far - it was only his second goal of the season but a vital one! He almost added a second shortly after when he latched onto Sforza's through ball forcing the goalkeeper into a fantastic save. It was frantic last 10 minutes as America upped the pressure forcing Aguerre into some heroics in our goal - but his crucial save to their striker's header sparked the counter that lead to Sforza firing in from the edge of the box in the 93rd minute to bring the trophy
back to Rosario! We are the Champions! It was fitting that Sforza added the second, he was the best player on the park by a mile with another MOTM display. My goodness what a player he is!

Speechless. We were fairly fortunate with draws from the Quarters onwards but that third round victory against Corinthians will be the highlight of our run - they were the best team in the tournament and to knock them out was some doing! Incredible!

An added bonus is that it grants us qualification to the 2022 Copa Libertadores! We will also meet either Boca Juniors or Sao Paolo in the Recopa Sudamericana next February. A two legged tie, I believe we will be home first leg.

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A NEW-ELL'S ADVENTURE
Game Date: 22 January 2020

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Summary

It's been a fairly positive start to the league season and we sit 8th at the halfway stage. We started off poorly with two defeats in our opening two games but the 5-0 against Huracan really sparked us and sent us on a good little run of results including credible draws against Racing Clb and River Plate. We suffered a little blip midway through but I'll put that down to the Copa Sudamericana as I started to rest our better players for the latter stages which as we know, thankfully paid off. That was the case for our Copa Argentina defeat to second division side UAI Urquiza where I sent pretty much the youth team who gave a good account of themselves only narrowly missing out on penalties.

We sit in a good position in both the league and average points but I am hopeful we can push on in the second half of the season and secure Copa Libertadores qualification for next season - however it's still not clear how we qualify from this. I do believe it's the average table but we'll see.

Player Performances

There is only one man getting a shout-out here and that is Anibal Moreno. The guy has been something special this season, he's our top scorer with 9 goals and add to that 4 assists as a box to box midfielder - averaging 7.58! He has been tremendous and thankfully he has really helped us in the goals department as on-loan striker Facundo Salto has really been struggling but arguably scored our most important goal of the season with that header in Copa Sudamericana final. An honourable mention to 18 year-old Gonzalo Caffaro who was playing really well before breaking his leg which has ruled him out for the last few months. Thankfully, he is due back soon and hopefully he will bounce back from his injury.

Winter Transfer Window

We were handed a massive boost to the transfer budget. Ajax centre-back Lisandro Martinez made a £41m move to PSG right at the end of the summer transfer window and we were entitled to a solidarity contribution of 2.5% which was just over £1m. The board gave me around £400k worth of the for the transfer kitty which was helpful! However, it was to be a fairly quiet window for me. I did attempt to bring in a striker but I couldn't find an affordable/viable option so I will use the next few months to hopefully identify someone for the summer - hopefully Salto can find his scoring boots to see us through to the end of the season. There was a few departures, mainly the loaning out of youngsters, but one notable departure was winger Patricio Cobelli who left for Racing Club for £275k. He was only 18 but given the amount of promising players I have on the winger, he was probably the least promising so I opted to cash in.

The positives are from all the incomings, notably that solidary contribution, allowed me to increase the wage budget in order to secure new longer term deals on some of our better players.

We did have one scare though, Chinese Super League side Henan Jianye came in for Moreno with a £14.5m straight cash offer which met his minimum fee release clause. Thankfully for me, he turned down the move. I did attempt to offer a new deal to increase the release clause but unfortunately I could not afford his wage demands - thankfully he has a contract until 2025.

Copa Libertadores

As mentioned, our triumph in the Copa Sudamericana saw us qualify for the Copa Libertadores. We head straight into the Group Stage. We have been drawn into Group B where we meet Venezuelan outfit Deportivo Tachira, Bolivian's Oriente Petrolero and a reunion with Brazilian side Corinthians, whom we knocked out of the Copa Sudamericana in dramatic circumstances last year. We are expected to make the second round, and I am fairly confident we should do so - as long as we can beat Tachira and Petrolero we will be fine.

Recopa Sudamericana

We also have the Recopa Sudamericana to play in February. We meet fellow Argentines Boca Juniors who won the Copa Libertadores last season with a rampant 4-1 victory against Sao Paolo. The first leg is to be played in Rosario.
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