MWatson
12 years ago
1 day ago
25
Premium

Have been playing since FM24 release day in my spare time. Started as the title suggests and applied for jobs. Allocated a chunk of my mental points to adaptability and was offered the job at Tuzla for £600/week. Negotiated up to £700 and signed for my first season.

 

The job appealed to me over others available:

  • Second Tier European League entry level
  • Low expectations - avoid relegation
MWatson
12 years ago
1 day ago
25
Premium

14 League games in and so far, so good. Have been hovering around the playoff places most of the season so far, but just took a 3-5 defeat away at Bodrum FK which dropped us out of the zone.

 

Have won a couple of games in the Turkish Cup and have been dealt a money spinning (hopefully) last 32 tie away at Kasimpasa to be played just before the Winter break.

MWatson
12 years ago
1 day ago
25
Premium

So, my 15th League match of the season was a home game against lowly Genclerbirligi. It looked like a perfect fixture to get the team back on track after a bruising defeat at Bodrum. I picked up a couple of niggly injuries to first teamers, my best midfielder and my striker, so young replacements come into the side, but I'm still cautiously optimistic. Half time comes and we're comfortably 1-0 up and dominating the match. Then in true FM style the sucker punch of two late strikes and we go down 1-2 in the last ten minutes. The stats tell the story - true FM profligacy going forward and conceding to their only two shots on target:

 

Still in 9th position in the league but that defeat has knocked the stuffing out of us a bit. Now we have three tough away fixtures before heading into the Winter break. With the team relatively comfortable still, and the board and supporters overall very pleased with me, I've decided to put more emphasis on the future, tactically, and also look to overhaul the team playing personnel.

 

I've succeeded in my request to do my National B Coaching Badge at the second request, and the team is fully trained to play my Watson-ball style of entertaining attacking football. So with the fixtures the way they are I'm going to train and play in a more cautious style of Watson-ball to get the players more familiar which should stand them in good stead for the future when trying to manage a game and see out a win.

 

I've been paying a 31 year old Imbula £7.5k/week out of my total budget of £16k/week. His attitude and performances don't match his salary so he has to be first to go. Will look to offload a couple more also in order to free up some budget space and get in some young, hopefully Turkish, youngsters with some decent potential. Recruitment focuses are in place and intermediaries have been contacted in preparation for the forthcoming transfer window. First the small matter of the away matches to the league leaders, and top tier side in the Cup.

MWatson
12 years ago
1 day ago
25
Premium

Since my last update, it has to be said it's been tough. As can be seen from the image below, since my 4th Round home Cup win against Afyonspor at the beginning of November, it's been hard going. Trust me, I now understand why this team was tipped for a relegation battle before the season started. Quirks in the fixture list have not helped one bit. Since the afore-mentioned Cup Tie, I have toiled away for two and half months with “away” being the operative word. Ten matches of which only two were in our own 2,581 all seater stadium. Two away ties in the Cup and six league matches on the road, it's been really tough.

 

There have been chinks of light however. In amongst a dismal run of six defeats on the spin, there was the small matter of our 5th Round away tie at top tier Kasimpasa. The FM Gods were on our side this particular match as we absolutely thrashed them 4-0. Unbelievable scenes were followed by the deal of another away tie at Kocaelispor, who had soundly beaten us at our place earlier in the season.

 

The poor league run was finally halted towards the end of January, and that was quickly followed by another great away Cup win in the 6th Round. Unbelievably we are now in the Turkiye Kupasi Quarter Finals, and I was hoping for a money spinning away trip to one of the big boys. I got one of the big boys, but Fenerbahce will be visiting our place on a balmy Thursday evening in March. Not sure that's going to yield much in the way of receipts, where's the option to switch venues when you need it?

 

 

Anyway I'm not going to grumble. My overhaul of the playing staff with very cheap or free incomings seems to be slowly taking shape, but time will tell if we can keep ourselves clear of the relegation battle. There's now a host of clubs just teetering above the red zone. It's going to be entertaining.

 

MWatson
12 years ago
1 day ago
25
Premium

Wasn't going to update so soon after last post but those chinks of light I spoke about last time are now shining brilliant rays.

 

Since the last post we have won all four of our league matches and have firmly pulled away from any signs of a relegation battle. Indeed we are looking just upwards now towards the remote possibility of sneaking into the playoff places before the season's merry-go-round stops. We've not just been winning but the last couple of games we've been in scintillating form, getting early comfortable leads then being able to lower the tempo and pick the opposition off seemingly at will.

 

 

A lot of this is down to three new players, 2 free transfers Realdo Fili (AML-IW) and Benjamin Leneis (SwK), and £4.9k purchase, Bonfils-Caleb Bimenyimana (STC) who couldn't seem to get a game with Kaiser Chiefs in South Africa. The striker has now started 5 league games and come on as sub in another, and already has 9 goals in the bag. I also have my DoF (appointed by the board) to thank for a couple of 18 year old attacking full backs that he originally brought in to play for the U19 team back in August, but I've slowly introduced them to the first team and the attacking philosophy seems to be bearing fruit.

 

In the midst of this good run I've also signed a new contract until end of season 2025 for a raise up to £850 per week.

 

Nine league games to go and a free hit against Fenerbahce, all in the space of the next six weeks. As I said in the last post, this is definitely entertaining.

 

MWatson
12 years ago
1 day ago
25
Premium

Last update, certainly until the regular season of matches are through.

 

The month of February continued well and assisted by catching up on some home matches, ended in a brilliant record of 6 wins from 7 league matches, with an injury time equaliser at Sakaryaspor the least we deserved from that match. It maintained our unbeaten run going into the month of March and fixtures were juggled around due to Fenerbahce's schedule.

 

 

So we started the month well with another good home win, but then came the blip away at Manisa F.K. We took an early lead but couldn't get the second and slowly let them back into the match. It was frustrating because we deserved at least a point, and with others faltering around us, we missed a big chance to move into the playoff spots.

Never mind, we focus back on one game at a time, and finish up with 3 home league matches against the current 1st, 3rd and 4th place teams in the league. Hopefully there'll be a bit of complacency from the opposition and we can shake things up to land in the top 7.

MWatson
12 years ago
1 day ago
25
Premium

So, we headed into the final 4 league matches and Quarter Final of the Cup, and it all started horribly. In our away match against Genclerbirligi, we went 2 goals down in the first half, got a late consolation but ended up with a loss.


The Cup tie against Fenerbahce ended up being a routine loss. Fenerbahce got the early goal. We held out and even got an equaliser with 20 minutes left, but no sooner had we got started again they upped the ante and made it 1-3 with ease.


Ahead of the Goztepe match, things looked poor in terms of morale, so I called a team meeting which perked things up a bit. I couldn’t let the lads know but I still wasn’t confident at all. I was effectively going to have to play a half-rotated side due to recent fixture schedule, against the team top of the league, and in addition my main striker, Bimenyimana, was off on international duty with Burundi.


Anyway, after providing the guard of honour for the opposition, we took a bit of a battering, but to be honest we started to feel our way into the match. We won a penalty (we’ve had quite a few this season), calmly slotted it away just before half time, then came out for the second half and dominated. We came away with a good 2-0 win and we were flying, even if complacency was partly responsible.


On to Bodrum FK, and what a match! Seriously what a match! Got an early penalty but went in 1-3 down at half time. Came out for the second half and everything was flowing. With 20 minutes left we were 5-4 in the lead and hung on for a superb result. Even more pleasing was that I love to be on right side of an entry in the high scoring record books.


On to the last match of the season and we started the day in seventh, the playoff spots. There were seriously tired legs, and with 15 minutes to go, the live table showed us in 9th place. I threw caution to the wind to get that all important goal. I substituted my entire front 3 and the youngsters did the business and secured a 2-0 win. Unbelievable scenes on the pitch and A+ ratings from the board and supporters for achieving the playoff berth target 4 years ahead of target.
 

So on to the playoffs, but wait, they’re six weeks away! Shocking fixture scheduling from the Turkish FA, absolutely ludicrous. So, I’m planning some friendlies to keep things ticking over. Then we have our Playoff Quarter Final away at Boluspor, who we just beat in the last match of the season.

Update on the youth candidates, I got one elite right back, but the rest were good or below. I signed all bar two anyway, and they will help to overhaul the club’s youth system in the next few years.
 

MWatson
12 years ago
1 day ago
25
Premium

So, spoiler alert, my Tuzlaspor team won promotion through the Playoffs, but the manor in which it has been gained has left me a bit flat to be honest. Not really the exciting FM experience or challenge that I was looking forward to or expecting.


The problem lies in the fact that as I mentioned at the end of my last update, there was a six-week gap between the final regular league game and the Promotion Playoff Quarter Final, 44 days to be exact. So, I took the opportunity to arrange five easy going friendlies evenly spaced out, which gave me the chance to initially rest my first team regulars, get my squad players some minutes then gently raise my key players to peak match sharpness for the forthcoming playoffs. It all made sense to me, but then apparently not for any of the other teams involved in the Playoffs.
 

When I played Boluspor away in the one-off Quarter Final the first half was cagey, but a convincing performance saw us comfortable 4-1 winners against a team who hadn’t seen a football stadium for 44 days. Probably the biggest challenge was the two-legged Semi Final against Eyupspor, but after an unbelievable display in the second half of the first leg, it was pretty much all over. Then came the Final against Bodrum, and it must go down as the most confident I have ever been about an FM match. The Bodrum players had fought all season for the right to play in the one-off Promotion Playoff Final, but they hadn’t played a match for 58 days by the time we played them at a neutral stadium.

After Bimenyimana got his first goal in the 5th minute we were camped in their half and celebrated another three goals before half time all in front of the Bodrum fans packed in one end.

Anyway, we’re up and now I’m very apprehensive. Admittedly I’ve got a well-oiled team playing some good stuff in 1. Lig, but how on earth are we going to compete with the likes of Galatasaray, Besiktas and Fenerbahce next season. Apparently, we need a minimum 10,000 capacity stadium in the Super Lig as well, so I have no idea where we’re going to be playing our home games next season. We’ve been using the 2,581 capacity ground of Sancaktepe all season so I have no idea.


Anyway, we’ll take on the challenge and see what happens with my Watson-ball style that knocked in a record 85 goals this season. At the very least I will have caught the eye of some prospective club owners around Europe with an unbelievable achievement. By the time next season comes around I will have gained my National A coaching badge and surely, I will have enough credit with the board to progress through my badges.

MWatson
12 years ago
1 day ago
25
Premium

So the Summer of '24 has been and gone. Headline updates from the Summer as follows:

  • Took up the rental of the 20,000 capacity Buyukcekmece Ataturk Spor Kompleksi to fall in line with the Super Lig rules.
  • The board took out a £10.25m loan over 10 years and proceeded to spend £12m on building a new 10,000 capacity stadium of their own to be ready for the 26/27 season.
  • Cleared out a lot of dead wood players, and brought in only one free transfer, an 18 year old who can play a role now and also has good potential.

 

Unfortunately, because the club is now well in the red financially, the board have placed a block on any staff undertaking coaching badges. This is a red flag for me and will be a contentious point when they decide to look at my contract renewal. I have my contract, which was bumped due to promotion to £1,100p/w, which expires at the end of 2025 season so I presume the board will look to renew around the New Year. So providing I can show that we can keep our heads above water before then, I will be insisting on my coaching badges before I sign another deal. Seeing as I'm the only club favourite personnel, I think I have a good case. We'll see.

So the bookies have us as favourites to be bottom of the pile at seasons end, and with four going down (Turkiye appear to be trimming their top division down from 20 to 18 gradually), it's going to be extremely tough. It's been a bit of a mixed bag in the first six games of the season. We opened up with the toughest of away fixtures at Galatasaray, and white knuckled a goalless point. Our first match at home saw us dominate and in true FM style, concede a goal two minutes past the allotted injury time added on. Extremely harsh…

Matches 3-6 have seen my players start to hit the back of the net and a decent haul of points have come our way. Two convincing home wins and another hard luck away match at Alanyaspor where we equalised in 90th minute only to concede again in injury time. Anyway, all is going relatively well at the moment, but I can see there are going to be many bumps along the way this season. I'm hoping my relatively young but talented team can gain experience this season and start to fulfil some of that potential my DoF and Chief Scout have seen, and hopefully keep our heads above the drop zone. So far, so good.

MWatson
12 years ago
1 day ago
25
Premium

So after the last update things have gone pretty well. The next six matches included 3 good league wins, a win in the 3rd round of the Cup, a missed opportunity draw in the league and an expected but hard fought loss away at Fenerbahce. The results and table looked like this:

So the picture was looking quite rosy but we are performing well above average in the XG table so I was expecting some kind of regression at some point.

 

The period up until Christmas ‘24 has gone pretty well although we’ve drawn some matches that we could have won, and again we've suffered a loss with a goal conceded in time past the allotted injury time.

I certainly am not complaining with our performance so far, considering we were favourites to be bottom of the table, and I have suffered 3 or 4 week periods of injury to my key players, Leneis (GK) and Bimenyimana (ST).

 

I have caught the eye of other clubs, with two clubs, Antalyaspor and Alanyaspor both interviewing me for their vacant positions. Antalyaspor was a job I really was keen on, but predictably they opted to employ someone with a higher reputation. Alanyaspor was a club that looked very similar to Tuzlaspor in terms of size, facilities and finances, so I wasn't too bothered when I demanded to be given the chance to progress my coaching badges, to which they responded by terminating the interview.

 

Other point worth mentioning is that the Tuzla board decided to cut my wage budget in November from £24k to £16k. This has put me in a tricky spot as I was comfortably running at £20k, but I have signed two freebies for January which take me up to £23k. I'm now in a position where I have adjusted my transfer budget down to increase my wage budget up to £20k, but somehow I still have to balance the books. I've tested the water with a few players and agents, but it's a tricky situation to deal with, without upsetting the dynamics of the squad.

 

Since this happened the club is now in the process of a takeover, so a lot is up in the air at the moment.

 

My contract is also be a possible contentious point in the coming weeks/months, as I am determined to progress my badges. I'm sure this is the kind of thing that has held my reputation down and subsequently why I cannot be sure of being successful in job interviews.

 

We'll see how we go.

MWatson
12 years ago
1 day ago
25
Premium

So, the time came when my first managerial move happened. It was the third team to approach me during this 24/25 season, and it came when things were going really well at Tuzlaspor.

After 24 fixtures we were sitting pretty in 9th spot, comfortably placed well away from the relegation fight, and with a very favourable draw in the quarter final and semi-final of the Turkish Cup. The route to the Turkish Cup Final was trying to hold me back but the temptation of Samsunspor was too much.

 

The approach came into the inbox:

Then the rumour mill started working overtime:

During the interview, I was determined to get the assurance of being able to progress my coaching badges, so I stood firm. I also suggested I could pull this reasonably sized club into mid table well away from the relegation battle they appeared to be close to. They seemed to be keen but you can never tell for certain in these situations. At this point, Tuzla came in with a desperate plea to keep me:

But then it hit my inbox with a thud:

Coaching badges - check

Big salary increase from £1.1k - check

I negotiated the salary up to £6.5k with one hit and took the job in a flash.

The admin and setup has been a huge task since joining Samsunspor, so I will plough through the first few weeks of my new job and update soon on how it’s gone.

MWatson
12 years ago
1 day ago
25
Premium

It’s been a mixed start in life at Samsunspor. We kicked things off with an unbelievable 6-1 away win but have not been able to buy a win since. In the six matches we’ve had since that opener, we’ve been ahead and comfortable in five of them, but we’ve come away with a loss and 5 draws.

Maybe the intensity of the new tactics are taking it’s toll during matches, but I’m going to stick with it. In the most recent match away at high flying Fenerbahce, we were being dominated in the second half and I slowed things down a bit to manage the match better and get out of there with a point, and it seemed to work so there are some good pointers there.

 

The results have seen me jump up from 15th to 13th and then back down to 15th again, so I am far from out of trouble. We’ve got some crucial matches coming up and I just nee to get through to the end of the season to be able to sort this club out.

So, when I joined (after the transfer window shut), I took over a first team squad of 54 players. “54”! The squad is bloated with dead wood, the wage bill is bloated, and there is a lot to do. But the rebuild can’t really get going until we’ve secured Super Lig status, and the season has ended. The other thing is injuries - the squad is old and tired, and the number of injuries is incredible.

 

On the positive side, the club appear to have a very good youth set up and culture. There are five or six excellent talents in the U19 squad who I am very much looking forward to nurturing into first team action, but unfortunately next season might be a bit too early for that.

 

There’s a lot to think about and ponder, but not any degree of certainty until we get to the end of the season with our heads firmly above that relegation line.

MWatson
12 years ago
1 day ago
25
Premium

So the season ended, and we managed to stay up ahead of the last game of the season. We performed poorly against Hatayspor, and got punished. Unfortunately the Hatayspor manager had given me some stick in the press when I got given the Samsunspor job so that one certainly sticks in the throat. There'll be a revenge mission next season for sure. Had a really good win away at Rizespor, and then was leading 1-0 with the usual 10 minutes to play against Istanbulspor, then somehow managed to lose the game in the 4th minute of injury time.

During the match against Istanbulspor, when we were winning the live table had us in 11th spot, but we managed to root ourselves to 15th and survived as the bottom four teams couldn't take the battle into the final week of the season. That's just as well really as we were away at Besiktas. As it was I put in a youthful half rotated side and came away with a creditable 2-2 draw.

So there's plenty to do during the off season, not least thin down the squad through contract expiries. I've decided to bite the bullet and hire a new assistant as well. It's so important to have someone quality by your side. The biggest gap in the team is at left back so I'll be using my scouts to fill that hole, hopefully with a freebie, and I'll also be looking to pick up any other quality freebies that are worth a punt.

 

I'm quietly confident for next season and although the board will just want a mid table finish, I'm aiming for those Euro places in the top five. With a good preseason and heavy focus on tactic familiarity I think we've got a chance.

 

Last thing to add before I sign off until next update, my old team Tuzlaspor, their record after I left - W1 D1 L10. Looks like they will be taking one of the relegation spots next season and I'm feeling pretty good about myself.

MWatson
12 years ago
1 day ago
25
Premium

So preseason 25-26, and I have let 19 players leave at the end of their contracts. The first team squad is still a little unbalanced and bloated but I’ll deal with that through loans out, etc. Some players come in, a Brazilian left wing back who likes to get forward, a couple of European central midfielders to improve the quality and energy in the centre of the park, a couple of wide players with potential for the future, and one striker who had already signed a pre-contract agreement before I became Manager of Samsunspor. All have come in on frees, the net wage expenditure has gone down, my first team squad appears much more manageable and my U19 squad is brimming with talent, but the majority are 16 or 17 year olds who will need time and nurturing.

 

Possibly most importantly I’ve got Douglas Tanque to sign a new 2 year contract, with a vesting option for a third year. Top goal scorer in the league last season and a fan favourite, it was vital I kept him at the club. At 32 it might seem an expensive deal, but I might just squeeze the best out of him and possibly bank some cash if he decides to leave, who knows?

 

But I’m all set to go, and we’ve made a pretty good start of things. I mentioned I was aiming for top five European places, and so far, I’m good for it.

We’ve had some good performances, most notably away at Alanyaspor with a 4-1 win. There have been some frustrating matches too but we’re doing ok. In a couple of matches we’ve been hampered by red cards to my new left back, who I now realise is a bit of a hot head, but the only game we’ve lost is at a seriously struggling Besiktas, where we were 3-2 up heading into the 89th minute.

 

The biggest disappointment is that in the week leading up to the match against rivals Trabzonspor, Douglas Tanque managed to fracture his lower leg and is now out until sometime in December. The squad players have so far stepped up, and we’ve manged to cope. We’ve also moved into the last 32 of the Turkish Cup, but the last six league matches before the year end are going to be interesting especially as two of them are the visits of Galatasaray and Fenerbahce.

 

MWatson
12 years ago
1 day ago
25
Premium

Since my last update we have been improving through November, on the upward trajectory through to the end of 2025, came out of the Winter break sluggish, but importantly winning, and are now well and truly riding the crest of an unbelievable wave.

 

A good win away at Adana D.S. was followed by the visit of Galatasaray. It was to be a good benchmarking match for us, and I was quietly confident that we could get a positive result, considering our opponents had a midweek European match. Douglas Tanque was still a month away from getting back to first team action, but our new Latvian free transfer, Vladislavs Gutkovskis, had recently stepped up since Tanque’s injury, and plundered a good return of goals.

 

Another ageing, well paid striker on our books, Gaëtan Laura, had also returned from his own long-term injury, and although performances were sketchy, he grabbed a goal against Adana, and I thought he deserved the start against a tired Galatasaray.

 

It looks like a bad selection decision now; Laura was poor, Galatasaray got an early goal, and although the match was pretty even, we didn’t get the point we probably deserved. Gutkovskis had come on for a labouring Gaëtan but didn’t have the desired effect.

 

Following this result however, we’ve been near perfect, with the only blemish on a 100% record being the visit of Fenerbahçe two weeks into December. This encounter was one we really should have won, well on top for the entire first half, but only one goal to show for it. Probably not the right half time team talk as the players looked nervy in the second period and conceded to draw the game. We are certainly struggling against the big teams for sure, something we need to rectify.

 

The other matches in December were “comfortable” but hardly convincing, but importantly we won matches, and the return of Douglas Tanque in the final league match of 2025, scoring a goal, was a welcome sight.

Into January and as we had progressed through to the 6th round of the Cup, a tie which was scheduled for the end of January away at Besiktas. This in fact rearranged our home league match against Besiktas to the first returning week in 2026, which meant we were facing all three bottom sides at home in the space of a week in the league. I fielded semi rotated sides against Istanbulspor and Tuzlaspor, in an attempt to ease Tanque back into the fold and give some minutes to some youngsters I hope to rely on more next season. We nearly came a cropper against Istanbulspor with a poor, sluggish performance. Wins over a really struggling Besiktas and my old team Tuzlaspor saw my team really start to get into a groove.

 

A good away win at Goztepe took us to the final match in this update and for sure it’s one of the best matches I’ve ever played in FM. The last 16 Cup tie away at Besiktas saw the bookies make us 15/8 outsiders. I was really confident though in my fully rested first XI, against a clearly struggling Besiktas who had also played a European match three days prior to our match.

 

We were brutal from the word go, Tanque scoring after 14 seconds, 3-0 up after 10 minutes, and Tanque claiming his hattrick just before half time. The rout continued in the second half with the highlight being a Tanque Panenka penalty just after half time. The score finished at 8-1 but could have been more. I made 5 substitutions at the 70-minute mark to ease up on the energy levels. Pure football. Watson-ball at its finest.

European places are seriously a thought now with this good run through January. I’m expecting some sort of regression at some point, but we’ve opened up a sizeable gap now, probably enough to at least guarantee Europa League qualification. Thirteen league games to go and a potential clash with Fenerbahçe awaiting in the semi-final of the Cup.

MWatson
12 years ago
1 day ago
25
Premium

After an amazing run through the Winter months, culminating in that unbelievable performance away at Beşiktaş, my Samsunspor team have continued to perform way above anybody’s expectations this season, and without spoiling things I’ll take things in chronological order.

 

February’s schedule saw us have an easy workload of four winnable league matches nicely spaced out. Although the team got results, we “white-knuckled” our way through these matches. Admittedly I have been trying to gently shift my team talks to move in line with the increased expectations and that has clearly influenced performance, but we’ve still managed to get over the line. Three of the four half time team talks, I had to use “I don't like what I just saw”, after goalless starts to the matches, which hadn’t been the case since early November.

 

The most important aspect of February however was getting a positive result against arch-rivals, Trabzonspor. Being competitive in these matches is a favoured supporter expectation, and we eventually obliged with two second half goals.

 

Moving into March saw the evenly spaced occurrence of matches continue, as we first travelled away to lowly 1. Lig opposition, Kayserispor, in the Quarter Finals of the Cup, then two very winnable league matches as we appeared to be creating a title challenge with Galatasaray.

 

But it didn’t start well. Against Kayserispor, I half rotated the side, to give some minutes to squad players, and after going 2-0 up after half an hour there was absolutely no problem. Two goals conceded with their only two attempts in the match, either side of half time, eventually took the match to extra time. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, a continuation of the white knuckling in February. We emerged 4-2 winners and booked our place in the two-legged semi-final against Fenerbahçe to be played in April.

 

Eight days after the near miss in the Cup Quarter Final, we dropped valuable points away at Ümraniyespor, with an impotent 0-0 draw. So even though we continued on this unbeaten run, my underlying feeling was that things weren’t going that well, seemingly stuttering our way through the second half of the season.

Things needed to improve, and they did. We won pretty comfortably against Alanyaspor, and moved into a mouth-watering month of April, with the Cup semi-final in store as well as a massive potential six pointer away at Galatasaray.

 

Starting away at Eyüpspor, I part rotated the side with the first leg due in the midweek, and after an even first half, we were dominant in a three goal second half.

Away at Fenerbahçe as 12/5 outsiders I thought I’d be bold and try a team talk that was successful earlier in the season away at Alanyaspor when we were similarly outsiders but gained a big important away win. I went for the “no gesture”/“If you carry your last performance into this match, we’ll do well” team talk. We were inspired, absolutely all over them like a rash. The only problem was that we couldn’t live up to our match XG, only got one goal, and then went and conceded a second half equaliser – absolutely gutted.

 

Onwards we go anyway, and after another part-rotated comfortable home league win against Adana, then a two-week break, we went to Galatasaray, two points behind them in the table and 3/1 outsiders for the match. Same team talk as the recent Cup sem-ifinal and BOOM. What a performance. We were outstanding and played a complacent Galatasaray off the park. In all seriousness it was a 3-1 win where we were clearly more clinical, and we rode our luck a bit, with Douglas Tanque and Galatasaray reject, Emre Kılınç, putting in outstanding big game performances.

Now this season is getting really interesting, not only are we in an unexpected title race and we have earned the massive accolade of participation of at least the preliminary stages of the UEFA Champions League next season.

 

With April still not done, four days later we welcome Fenerbahçe for the second leg of the semi-final, and what a match for the neutral this was. We went into half time 0-1 down, and after a stern word at the break we cam out and dominated going up 2-1. Trying to close out the game, our old troubles reappeared, conceding the equaliser in the 87th minute. I told them to go and get what they deserve in extra time, and they did just that with Bulut and Tanque outstanding in a 5-3 extra time win.

A few days after later we welcomed Başakşehir F.K., for a league match with a very tired squad. A couple of injuries and a lot of players in need of a rest, I went for it and played a ¾ rotated side giving two more youngsters their debuts in the process. After a comfortable first half, we were poor in the second half but just managed to hold on for the three point haul.

Into May now and we have a small break until the last three league games of the season, the last of which is away at a seething Fenerbahçe. Might be interesting if we need something from that match. Then the last game of the season is the Cup Final against Galatasaray. Hopefully our recent big game experience will hold us in good stead.

 

MWatson
12 years ago
1 day ago
25
Premium

So, summarising in this update, and playing FM during this most recent spell, has reminded me how cruel FM can be, but then that it can reflect real life in so many ways. But that’s why it’s so addictive as a game, as we strive to reach those achievements that just marginally elude us from time to to time.

 

I had three league matches and a Cup Final left to play at the end of the last update. Winning all four matches would mean a monumental season for this club, but the flip side of that “coin” would be awful…..

 

The first of the three league matches was a comfortable home win against Konyaspor using a partially rotated side in preparation for the more difficult away match at Kasimpasa three days later. That match too was won, after a couple of goals put us 3-1 up with 20 minutes to go, notwithstanding the squeaky bum time endured after conceding a goal with ten minutes left.

 

Having kept pace with Galatasaray, and maintaining that one point advantage, we went into that last league match of the season, away at Fenerbahçe, needing to match Galatasaray’s result at home to bottom placed Tuzlaspor (would you believe it?). Before I talk about my match I can let you know that Galatasaray won 10-0…..

 

So, we played really well at Fenerbahçe, and took an early lead. Things were going well although we really should have made more of our first half dominance. Then the cruelty, the unbelievable award of a penalty to Fenerbahçe. It was a debatable decision, but they tucked it away and the with that, the momentum clearly swung. The second half was a lot more even as Fenerbahçe proceeded to make every effort to hand their biggest rivals the title. We threw the kitchen sink at it, but it just wasn’t to be. It ended 1-1 and we’d lost the title on the last day of the season by one point.

On to the Cup Final, and I tried every trick in the book to try to pick the squad up mentally in the week before the game. There’s really not a lot of detail to be said about the match as it was a pretty dull affair, and we lost 0-1 to a second half goal. We’d obviously lucked out and the FM Gods were clearly not with us for the last week of the season, bringing to an end a 26 match unbeaten run.

On reflection we have had an outstanding season and been rewarded for qualification to the UCL League Path 3rd Qualifying Round, which will give us a shot at UCL in season 26/27, and we’ll get another shot at Galatasaray in the Turkish Super Cup. Not bad considering I’ve only been at the club just over a year, and we had Douglas Tanque missing for over 2 months, so I’m prod of our achievements here so far.

 

On to planning for next season, the squad, the youngsters, staff, etc. Also I should complete my Continental A badge at some point in the new season, allowing me to progress on to Pro License, and with that in mind maybe a contract improvement/extension is on the cards as my current deal ends in 2027, and an extension would be ideal to progress my badges and keep this team going for a couple more seasons, before eyeing up a new, bigger job, if the right one is out there.

MWatson
12 years ago
1 day ago
25
Premium

A new contract was offered and taken to pay me £8.5K p/w up until June 2029, and preseason 26-27 there was work to be done on the continued rebuild of the Samsunspor squad, but to be honest though, much of my squad building had been done in the months leading up to June 30th, 2026. With the prospect of UEFA participation money, it was advised that my new transfer budget was going to be a bloated £1.75M but I reduced that to give me added flexibility on the wage budget, which hadn’t really been thought about by the board.

 

So, after the release of Poko, in came free agent Chris Führich, and end of contract deals Justin Hammel from Grasshoppers, Ed Turns from Brighton and Beşiktaş youth product, Demir Ege Tıknaz. Führich, Hammel and Turns were all new first team players, and Demir, was a squad piece who could move into the first XI in a year or so after meeting an agreed target.

 

Additional sales of Gutkovskis, Szumski and Alim Öztürk brought in nearly another £2.3M, which I thought was decent for a group of 30 somethings in decline. I brought in a couple more free agents as squad pieces to help with the prospect of many weeks this season where we would be playing 2 matches a week. One of the lads I brought in was striker, Moussa Djitté, who at 26 years old, could challenge and rotate with fan favourite, Douglas Tanque.

 

Djitté’s ability is important, as the Douglas Tanque conundrum needs to be dealt with. Douglas Tanque turns 33 this coming season and at some point, will start to decline, but he has a contract paying him £21K p/w until 2027 with a clause providing an extra year if he plays 15 league games in his final season. £21K is about 15% of our weekly budget, and to be honest I don’t want to be paying that if and when he is in decline as he will be a very expensive squad player. My plan is to give him 14 league matches and let him play all the Cup/Continental matches, and Djitté can do the rest, performance permitting. Tanque can then drift off into the sunset after I make a last half-hearted attempt to sign him up for a more reasonable wage as a squad player. It’s a tricky situation and needs to be handled very carefully.

 

The season starts with three huge games, the UCL 3R playoff against Sp. Braga sandwich the Super Kupa against Galatasaray. We navigate our way into the last Playoff round of the UCL, but once again fall against Turkey’s top side. This time with a half-rotated side, we take them into extra time and to penalties, but we missed one against their perfect 5/5. Our time will come breaking the hold they have on Turkey’s top prizes.

 

The big prize is one step away, UCL League phase qualification, and that is achieved with two good performances against Partizan. Our first few league matches are kind to us, allowing us to rotate comfortably whilst navigating our way in the Champions League. The biggest talking point is our first match at home to PSG, Mbappe and all. Luis Enrique spouting his “easy game” press conference spurred my lads on to a famous win.

 

A disastrous second half in Salzburg, a win at home to Maccabi Tel-Aviv, and an unlucky loss in Dortmund leave us with outside chance of making the top 24, which would be brilliant for us.

 

The Super Lig campaign has been going steady, but we came up against our fierce rivals, Trabzonspor, at the end of October, at their place, taking into it our unbeaten 29 match league run. One of the most one-sided derbies you’ll ever see saw us dominate and take a 1-0 lead into half time. Our profligacy came to haunt is though as two counterattacks in the second half saw it all come crashing down. That too will spur the lads on to better things this season.

 

As we enter the November international break we are there or thereabouts in the Super Lig, and when playing well, we’re formidable.

The Tanque/ Djitté plan is working well so far. Tanque has only featured in 5 league matches, and Djitté has certainly been no slouch in the Super Lig, with Tanque scoring well in the UCL.

MWatson
12 years ago
1 day ago
25
Premium

So, we’re getting to the business end of the 26/27 season now, and the excitement is building yet again.

 

After the last update, there’s a lot happened. Firstly, a couple of relatively comfortable wins against Bodrum and Kasımpaşa, but four days after the Kasımpaşa victory, we faced a ludicrous schedule of four matches in eight days:

I decided to fully rotate my team in the UCL match against Young Boys and effectively take a hit. I needed a full strength side against Galatasaray in the fourth match in eight days, and also, with two UCL wins already in the bag, I figured I needed just one more win from the remaining three matches to qualify for the Knockout Playoffs. My under strength side got absolutely tanked in the first half against Young Boys, but put up a decent show in the second half.

 

My plan spluttered somewhat though in the following three matches. We absolutely battered Bursaspor but ended up snatching a draw from the jaws of victory, then my under strength side could only manage a draw away at lowly Ümraniyespor. Then along came Galatasaray, they scored early, but we matched them and deserved our equaliser in injury time of the first half. May be my team talk was a bit much, I don’t know, but we came out, got a red card on 51 minutes and spent the rest of the match attempting to see out the draw.

 

That was the beginning of December, and we started to pick up on a bit of a run. Another CL win and consecutive wins in the domestic league and Cup saw us all the way through to the middle of January. We picked up a point from our remaining two CL matches when we were in position to take all six. Deflating but the domestic wins kept coming and the CL Knockout Playoff drew us against FC Porto.

 

The bank balance had got from £2M in August to £25M, with another £8M+ to come in from the Porto tie. Things were looking rosy, but news of a takeover started….

 

Douglas Tanque finally left of his own accord. He initially came to see me about wanting to start more games, but then accepted a lucrative offer from Saudi. All good from my position, and I’ve managed to get in a Newgen top prospect New Zealander to back up Djitte.

 

We took a 3-2 lead away to Porto but with 20 minutes left we were 0-3 down and looking out. I’d taken off my big hitters to rest, but would you believe it the youngsters pulled it out of the bag. Two goals secured the possibility of extra time but then pandemonium, when Emrecan Bulut scored the decisive goal three minutes from time.

 

 

You'll need to Login to comment