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3 years ago
7 months ago

- Season 1, Prelude - 




I’ve been a religious player of Football Manager ever since the early days of its predecessor Championship Manager. Throughout every new edition, first saves always take me the longest to decide on. That is, until now. A teams’ story that embarks on a new chapter in their history. One that feels personal to me more than any previous save. A journey I feel compelled to document.


CD Castellón currently sit in the third tier of Spanish football, and have very recently come to my attention. The reason for this is due to their new owner. As of July 2022, Haralabos Voulgaris (left, above) purchased the club.


For the best part of a decade, I’ve worked for the biggest online gambling company in the World. Anyone within my industry is likely to know “Bob” Voulgaris is. A prominent professional gambler, Voulgaris made his money betting on NBA and playing poker. His first well-publicised win was a $500k return on the LA Lakers to win the NBA Championship in 2000. And according to his Hendon Mob profile, he’s made just over $3 million in total live poker earnings. Over the years, through the use of his NBA statistical models, Voulgaris was able to make a name for himself as one of, if not, the greatest NBA bettor of all time. His data and statistical models gave him a huge edge, and gained notoriety amongst NBA execs. In 2018 he was employed by Mark Cuban to work in the front-office of the Dallas Mavericks. After the 2020/21 NBA season, Voulgaris and the Mavericks parted ways.


His arrival on the East coast of the Iberian Peninsula as owner of CD Castellón has been met with plenty of optimism and curiosity, as Voulgaris now joins a wave of North Americans to own a football team.


Club History


At first glance of the club crest, you’d be mistaken in thinking that I’m taking over Valencia. You wouldn’t be far wrong, as CD Castellón are in the Valencian Community situated on the East coast of Spain, 10km from their closest rivals Villarreal and 78km from Valencia – and ever present in the top-flight of Spanish football.


Coincidently, CD Castellón are celebrating their centenary anniversary this season. Founded in 1922, the club has spent only 11 of it’s 100 seasons in La Liga – Spain’s first division – and haven’t competed there since finishing 19th in the 1990/91 season. They’ve won the 2nd division on three occasions but have yet to win any of the top prizes Spanish football has to offer. CD Castellón have reached the Copa del Rey final only once, during the 1972/73 season, but lost 2-0 to Athletic Bilbao.


Club Aim


“This team has the potential to be a La Liga team,” Voulgaris said. “It has the local support from its fans, it has a very deep and rich history.”

According to ESPN, Haralabob Voulgaris said he has a six-year plan mapped out. His goal is to gradually elevate CD Castellón up the Spanish football ladder so that by the end of the decade CD Castellón might again play in La Liga, against rival sides like Valencia and compete in the most prestigious matches European soccer has to offer.


Therefore, this save will be exactly that. I’l be aiming to gradually improve CD Castellón on and off the pitch, with the sole purpose of having them play in La Liga by 2030.


Personal Goals


I won’t just be looking to improve CD Castellón’s results on the pitch. I want to immerse myself in everything the club has to offer. Where are the best places to drink before the game? What are the fans chanting? What are the stories everyone needs to know about the club? I want to embrace the culture and history of the Castellón region, as well as following real-time updates the new ownership make to the club.


Each chapter, as I learn more about CD Castellón, I’ll do my best to bring something new and anecdotal.




I will also be documenting this on:

Twitter: @cdcastellonfm


3 years ago
7 months ago

- Season 1, Chapter 1 -


I’ll try to keep this chapter as short and sweet as possible, but it might not be easy. I want to outline what changes I want to make within the clubs hierarchy structure, what transfer policy I want to implement as well as the tactical direction the club will first embark on to start the season.


Club Overview


The club is set up well to make a push straight away for promotion this season. Although the clubs facilities could do with being upgraded, this will come with time. Estadio Municipal de Castalia is the third largest stadium in the division, but would be just under league average if we were to be in the league above.


League Overview


The media have us at 4/1 joint 2nd favourites to win the league. Also, according to the media we’ve also got three players in the league’s best XI; Salva Ruiz, Cristian Rodriguez and Pablo Hernandez.


Technical Recruitment Policy


One thing that’s evidently lacking within the club is a broad depth in staff, or any at all. The coaching team outside of an assistant manager and a couple of couches, we’re in desperate need of a fitness coach & a goalkeeper coach. This is where we are below league average & will look to improve on at the start of this save.


The club also has no scouts to help with identifying players with the potential to play for the club. I’ll be looking to bring in as many scouts as possible, including a chief scout. Once I’ve employed the suitable candidates I’ll move forward with a Director of Football. As I want to align my vision throughout the club, so bringing in the right recruitment personnel will be key.


A medical team is also imperative to keep players on the pitch and off it for as little time as possible. Obviously injuries are part of football and I’d be naive to think otherwise, so as a club we’ll be looking to bring in all that we can within the medical department.


Player Recruitment Policy


This will be our recruitment policy in a nutshell. I expected nothing less from Voulgaris and we will be following his lead on this.


What do Brighton & Hove Albion, Brentford & Stoke City all have in common? All of their owners have been heavily involved within the gambling industry. Brighton are owned by Tony Bloom, a sports gambler and poker player , who has his own company Star Lizard (also his poker alias). Star Lizard uses data and analytics to predict sports matches & place bets on them. Matthew Benham owns Brentford, and is also owner of Smartodds, a statistical research company for professional gamblers, and owner of Matchbook betting exchange. And lastly, Stoke City are owned by the Coates family, who own Bet365, the biggest gambling company in the World.


Stoke City have had previous success by playing in the Premier League for 10 years straight, but were relegated to the Championship in 2018. But it’s mainly Brighton & Brentford I want to focus on. Both have focussed heavily on recruitment over the past few years, and have had great success in doing so. Both models have worked well.


David Weir, Brighton’s technical director, says Brighton favour an approach of buying up-and-coming players rather than ones that are “Premier League-ready”. Brighton have developed a reputation for being a very shrewd operator in the transfer market in recent years. From signing Moises Caicedo and Alexis Mac Allister from South American clubs, to Yves Bissouma and Marc Cucurella, who were signed for £15million but were sold for several times that.


Brentford’s transfer strategy uses data and statistics, with a “Moneyball” approach to making these transfers. Brentford’s recruitment team looks in places most clubs on their level don’t look, like the second division in France or lower divisions in Denmark. They use the underlying data like Expected Goals, Expected Assists and Smart Passes. Using these aggregated statistics, they buy players that fit their style at relatively lower prices. They used this method with players like Pontus Jansson from Leeds as well as players like Bryan Mbuemo from Troyes.


Voulgaris is cut from the same cloth as these guys. And his tweet, pictured above, signifies this. Therefore I’ll be attempting to follow the same player recruitment strategy as Brighton and Brentford. The key is being able to identify undervalued talent in the market, develop them, and then sell them on for profit, gradually building more value into the squad and gradually increasing the level of the squad.


Tactical Overview


I’m going straight in with a tactic I’ve previously used in years gone by and have had previous success with. 5-3-2 will be the base formation to start using, as I prefer my teams to be solid defensively but also transition into a 3-5-2 / 3-1-4-2 when attacking.


My wing-backs tend to be the most important position players in my team, as they need to be good defensively but they also provide the only consistent width within the team. So they generally need good natural fitness and work rate to be able to get up and down the wings. Thankfully, it looks like we’ve got a fantastic LWB in Salva Ruiz – who I’m sure will be an integral part of my team early on.


The team needs three good ball-playing centre backs, as the build up starts from the back. I’ll be looking at bringing in at least another CB who can start for us, as on initial outlook it looks like we’re lacking in that area. Because we use three CB’s, I like to have a minimum of 5 in the squad. I also don’t mind having a DM who can cover at CB too as this provides some flexibility when recruiting.


The two in the centre of midfield play the role of a Mezzala. This is defined as “a central player that likes to drift wide and operate in the half spaces. The Mezzala is essentially a central/half-winger, who likes to do his defending slightly further up the field, although he generally does have less defensive responsibility”. This suits my team perfectly as we already have a defensive structure to the team, so the central midfielders can push up further and defend higher up the pitch – something that suits the press. The two players that currently occupy this position in my team set up are Cristian Rodriguez and Pablo Hernandez. Both are predominantly wide players, but can both play in the centre of a midfield. Fortunately, they are two of the best players in the division, so I’m happy to play them in these roles even though they are more natural playing elsewhere on the pitch.


And lastly, bar being good finishers, we use two pressing forwards, to help winning the ball back at the top end of the pitch and assisting the team in the overall press.


Club Update


CD Castellón are absolutely flying in the league at the moment. 11 games in the season have been played so far – with a record of 7 wins, 3 draws and 1 loss – CD Castellón are top of the table, three points ahead of 2nd place.


Daniel Romera is joint 2nd top goalscorer in the league with 6 goals, 2 behind the leader.


The team didn’t qualify for the Copa del Rey this season, so there will be no cup competitions during my first save.




“Pam Pam Ourellut!” is something you’ll come to hear a lot of around Castellón. The story of how it originated has taken many forms, but the main premise of it starts with José Alanga Varella. Pepe Alanga as he was better known, was a goalkeeper for CD Castellón. He was the first well-known figure of CD Castellón and had always wanted to play for his home team. When Alanga played he always placed an ebony elephant in his goal, a gift from his brother when he returned from the war in Africa. After every great action or save, he would touch his amulet and the kids would shout “molt bé orellut” – which roughly translates as “really good ears” as a sign of respect/jovial fun for the elephant.


The addition of “Pam Pam” to the chant is where the story differs depending on who you ask. The most well-known story of how it originated is that there was a man with big ears who used to encourage the players on by clapping his hands twice “Pam Pam”, and then the kids at the game would make fun of him by shouting “Orellut” which means “ears”. But when he got angry the kids would pretend they weren’t making fun of him by pointing at Alanga’s elephant.

Similar stories of how Alanga used to hang his small ebony elephant in the goal with some albinegro pendants, say it was given to him by a fan after a trip to Guinea. It was his amulet. And as time went by, and with the help of some spirited fans who were in the mood for a good time with the help of a few spirited fans, this amulet gave birth to the “Pam Pam Ourellut!”


You will see PPO in big letters on one side of the stands at the clubs stadium, as well as throughout social media fans of CD Castellón use the hashtag #PPO, #PPO or most recently #PPO100 to celebrate their centenary season.


Note: You may have noticed that the manager I’ve created this save with is called José Alanga Varella (centre, above). This is out of respect to one of the most well-known past players of CD Castellón.



I will also be documenting this on:

Twitter: @cdcastellonfm


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