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AdamRK Comments
End of Season 2022/23


So after last season's dismal finish, there was a lot of pressure from the board to do better and achieve our goal for the year. Simply put, it was promotion or nothing this year.

Transfers


Our squad last season was lacking a lot of quality, and so a big rebuild was needed in the Summer window in order to ensure we had enough about us to go up this year.

https://i.imgur.com/xqLO6LD.png?1


Over the course of the season, twelve players made their way to North Devon, whilst three would leave on permanent deals. We signed players in almost every position apart from up front, giving the squad a great deal more depth and options in every area to facilitate a system change.

https://i.imgur.com/TewUxC0.png?1


For the most part this season, this was the starting eleven. A move away from a 3-5-2 was inevitable given the number of goals we conceded at the back post and the overall poor quality of our back-three last season and so a 4-2-3-1 seemed the obvious choice. Hall came in to replace Cull despite the young 'keeper having a decent first season for us last year. A move to a 4-at-the-back would require some depth in fullback, and Salmon and Riley were are first-choices in their respective positions. The midfield was held down by Kilkenny, although a more traditional ball-winner is wanted for next season; Kilkenny is quick enough to get to his man but lacks the physical presence to really boss a midfield. Local lad Goss came in towards the back end of last season, but the fans got to see him as a mainstay this season, pulling strings from a deep position. Experienced winger Mayor shared the left-wing spot with Kasinga-Madia over the year, but the former's experience and technical ability cemented him as our first-choice. Evans, Gibbings and Cullen all retained a starting berth from last season.

BetVictor Premier Division South


https://i.imgur.com/MLQQ4Zh.png?1


And so came the league campaign! An opening day win against a good Merthyr side seemed to confirm the bookies' claims that we're the favourites for the league this year.

Two more wins came in August, seeing us win three games back to back in an impressive start to the season. A disappointing draw against Hanwell ended our brief winning-streak before a derby-day loss to Taunton served to bring us back down to Earth.

We looked like the old Barum in September, with the previous loss to Taunton shaking the players as we drew twice in matches we should've won, lost to Cray Valley in another match we should've won, but showed glimpses of quality against Wimborne to seal an impressive victory. With a new system and a host of new faces, I was confident this was just down to the players needing to gel.

And that would certainly appear to have been the case, as October saw us lose just once, to fellow title-challengers Slough however. In our other four games this month we managed to out twelve goals past our opponents whilst looking relatively assured at the back. This would be the start of an impressive run of form as an even more impressive trend emerged - we'd managed to build one of the most exciting attacking teams in the league whilst also being tight at the back.

For the first time in a long time, if not ever, we managed to go an entire month unbeaten in November. A nil-nil against Gosport kicked the month off and truth be told we failed to really get going in this match, yet still managed to be switched on at the back. Back to winning ways against Swindon Submarine, before a late two-goal comeback saw us steal all three points from an Atherton Collieries side flying well above expectations. A routine win against Totton ended the month and acted as a good sign to me as Totton have always been a challenge for us.

We rounded out the calendar year 10 games unbeaten in the league, as December saw us draw against Haringey, but comfortably beat Salisbury and Halesowen. All in all, an exception first half of the season!

https://i.imgur.com/vDqM0JF.png?1


And the good times continued to roll in January! 11 points from 15 to start the year, including a massive 6-2 win against Highworth after being 1-2 down (although a sending off for the hosts may have helped) as well as 4-1 drubbing against rivals Taunton served as revenge for the reverse fixture.

Our unbeaten run continued through February and around this time I was starting to really believe that this was our year. Weston-Super-Mare hosted us and would have been glad to see us leave after we put five past them in their own back-yard, whilst Cray Valley and Wimborne failed to beat us too.

Heading into March and the league was looking tight at the top, if we won a game you could best believe that Slough would win too, and if we drew then you best believe they would close the gap. After an easy three points at home to Bristol MF, our unbeaten streak looked set to continue. But then along came Dunston to throw a spanner into the works and completely outplay us, putting three past us for just the second time this season. In the meantime, Slough would win their game, seeing the gap completely erased as we dropped to second place. Our next match? Slough at Mill Road. In a cagey affair we managed to take the lead, but a clever finish got the visitors level before the half. However when the full-time whistle rang out we saw the visitors leave without a single point - moving us back into first for the last long run-in. We ended the month with a less than impressive win against Hayes and Yeading.

Now April was a month which saw the title race start to get shaky. Poole held us to a draw, but Slough would win their game, putting them top again. We managed three back-to-back wins after this, but narrow wins as we looked far removed from the side we were just months ago. No longer were we taking teams apart and instead we were scraping narrow victories. In this time, Slough would draw one and lose one, putting us well in the driving seat.

As the season drew to a close in May, we knew that a win against Haringey would seal promotion, so of course we would lose the game and not really show up. A win in our next game against Salisbury would do the job with Slough failing to gain on us, and we duly delivered, sealing our promotion to the Vanarama South!

https://i.imgur.com/4laYTNZ.png?1


https://i.imgur.com/lVUZ82O.png?1


Southern League Cup


https://i.imgur.com/iXSbTX8.png?1


The board expected us to win the Southern League Cup this season alongside gaining promotion, and my luck in the cups has been nothing short of abysmal, so would we be able to change our fortunes this year?

The short answer? No. After looking comfortable against Alvechurch and Poole, we were dumped out of the competition n the Third Round by Wantage in a tight game. Truth be told, I was using the Southern League Cup as a chance to rest players and give the squad players a game, so I can't be too disappointed by the result.

FA Trophy


Our first opponents in the FA Trophy would prove to a stern test, as higher league opposition would host us in the form of Guiseley. A good test, as this would be the level of opposition we'd surely face if we were to be promoted. A nil-nil away set up a home tie just days later and we scraped through courtesy of a single goal.

Into the next round and onto the next tough test, as Bromley would be our opposition. Again, another team in a higher league and a good test of our credentials. Within the first minute we'd taken the lead, and before ten minutes had been played we were two up. At this point I shut up shop and told the boys to defend for the rest of the game. Bromley would show their class by scoring and cutting the deficit, but a late goal for us sealed the deal.

Our reward? Royston, a team we should comfortably beat; and did.

Into the Fourth Round and we crashed out against Dartford in an even game. A shame to go out in this manner after seeing off tougher opposition, but beating sides like Guiseley and Bromley is very promising for next season.

FA Cup


https://i.imgur.com/KD50slA.png?1


The FA Cup is a competition I so badly want to do well in. For a small side like Barnstaple, doing well can be the differences between a good financial year and a bad one. A loss at the first time of asking to a poor Sholing side would see us fail to progress for yet another season. I'd like to see us start to do better in this competition.

Squad Review


https://i.imgur.com/iOSfUoA.png?1


Last season we only had two stand-out players and even then only one of them was able to do it for a whole season. Crucial to doing better this season would be to try and change that and get the most out of the players in the squad. Evidently, we were able to do so this year, with a handful of players putting in consistently good performances, whilst our squad players also put in respectable shifts in limited minutes. Three names stand above all else though this year:

https://i.imgur.com/fjsGQWp.png?1


Liam Cullen - our main man for a second consecutive season, Cullen was the man responsible for giving opposition goalkeepers nightmares this year. A thirty-goal league campaign for the Welshman, alongside eight assists, made him one of the most dangerous players in the league. This is not to say he was consistent though, as he did endure two dry spells. A month-long injury looked to seriously derail our season and might have been responsible for the flow of goals slowing down towards the back end of the year, but thankfully his back-up Anderson was able to chip in with goals here and there.

https://i.imgur.com/sh0zMlv.png?1


Keiran Evans - yet another ex-Swansea player, Keiran joined the side last year and was deployed as either a shadow-striker in a 3-4-1-2 or as a right-midfielder in the same system. This season he operated as a shadow-striker in behind Cullen in our 4-2-3-1 and this gave him the license to sprint beyond our striker, or pick the ball up from deep and run at opponents. Truth be told I'm not sure how nobody else snapped him up when they could. Twenty league goals and eight assists playing in every single league game is a huge improvement on his return last season. When him and Cullen are firing on all cylinders, there wasn't a team in the league that could stop them and I'm sure they'll be a nuisance for teams next year too.

https://i.imgur.com/4ZL8Mmj.png?1


Sean Goss - the creative force in our midfield and a local lad too, Sean is a huge upgrade on Boutet in this position. Three goals from the middle of the park but setting a league-record of seventeen assists in this time too. There were games this year when Sean would literally just run the show from deep. In fact, in one of our nil-nil draws this year Sean walked away with a 9.0 match rating, having made 9 key passes. Monstrous numbers in the middle of the park.

https://i.imgur.com/0CSUWQm.png?1


Just another little look at our league numbers this season.

Despite scoring thirty goals this season, Cullen finished second in the race for Top Scorer as Sol Pryce would win it with a crazy thirty-eight goals. I've had a look at him already and truth be told he's a shadow of the player Cullen is, he must be playing very well in Highworth's system.

Sean Goss was levels above any other player in terms of creativity, finishing with five more assists than his nearest competitor.

It's no surprise then that these two players finished 2nd and 3rd in the Average Rating charts, whilst Evans is also in the top five.

Notable mention must go to Brandon Hall, who came in this season and kept a staggering eighteen cleansheets as he formed part of a solid defence that limited opposition teams for the most part.

End of Season Admin


https://i.imgur.com/Hml0yeH.png?1


It comes as no surprise that Cullen wins our Player of the Season Award, and even less of a surprise to see Goss and Evans in 2d and 3rd. Our Signing of the Season goes to Omar Beckles, who came in to the backline to add some real quality for this level and form a solid partnership with Burley.

https://i.imgur.com/qL5Qqbd.png?1


And now we cast our eyes on to next season.

The club want me to start bringing through academy graduates, but without the facilities to do so nor the money to upgrade in this area, this looks unlikely.

They also want me to win the league. Win the league. Win the league...? Ok, on the face of it this could sound a lot harder than it is, the squad at present is certainly good enough to give most of the teams in the league a good game and could easily be a top half side, but win the league?! Who knows, I'll have to recruit and scout well in the Summer to add the right players to the side to help do this.

The league... win the bloody league...
Ok, so we back! Now that Uni exams are out of the way I should have a bit more time to play FM until exams and dissertation start to rear their heads again!

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

End of Season 2021/22


I won't bore you all with the ins and outs of the season just gone, but bloody hell we were awful this season.

https://i.imgur.com/wtuDs6Y.png?1


We started the year brightly and were in and around the Playoff conversation for the first half of the season, but the wheels very quickly fell of the season, as we would go ten games without a win towards the back end of the year; placing 14th overall! All of this after being predicted to win the league!

https://i.imgur.com/qCZ71us.png?1


Additionally, we failed to make it out of the Second Round of any cup competition we were entered into this year; so my job security has been fairly insecure through the year.

https://i.imgur.com/v3m4NzZ.png?1


A little look at the squad screen gives a little indication as to how our season was able to fall off so quickly, we just weren't good and I suppose got found out. The shining star in the year was Liam Cullen, signed on a free in the Summer from Swansea City; and his since signed a bumper deal for the next year. We'll need to perform a lot better next year if we are to reach the expectations of Promotion.

https://i.imgur.com/d73RoLL.png?1


And to no surprise, Cullen would win our Player of the Season and Signing of the Season, whilst Michel Boutet would have his name in the conversation too after a fine run of form in the side in the last 10 games of the season, not good enough to see our season saved however.

The blame for the season has to be placed on me. As you can see, we persevered with our 3-5-2 this season and once we were found out around January/February, I failed to adjust the tactics and by the end of March I'd lost interest in the season and our final position.

This will change next season, we'll adopt a new formation, shift the deadwood and unhappy players and reshape the club from top-to-bottom.
Cheers @Dan, I always find the first season in saves like this to be the hardest trying to figure things out!

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So I'd initially planned to do an update at the halfway mark of the season, but seeing as we're still a few levels off of even the Vanarama South, I think for now I'll do concise seasonal updates until we reach a slightly higher level!

Fixtures and Results


https://i.imgur.com/2NebSs4.png?1


Our first half of the season was not great, especially when you consider we were the bookies favourites to win the league!

A crazy September saw us play nine games across three competitions. League-wise we lost to rivals Bideford before suffering consecutive one-nil losses against Totton and Melksham, two sides also gunning for promotion this campaign. Across the next four league games we picked up a poor five points due to disappointing draws versus Mangotsfield and Blackfield, whilst we also managed a convincing win over Guisborough but a poor loss to Cirencester took the air out of our sails. Cup-wise we exited the FA Cup at the first round yet again whilst in the Southern League Cup we cruised past Yaxley.

Just a game less in October, with our fortunes seemingly improving although our performances may not have justified some of them! Comfortable wins against Winchester and Paulton at Mill Road seemed to lift the boys, and so too did an extra-time win in the cup. Midtable Cinderford brought us back down to Earth after controlling the game against us at their place before a dodgy patch of form ended the month with one win, two draws and a loss - seeing us out of yet another cup.

By the end of November we'd have played twenty-three games already!!! Our league form seemed to have taken a turn for the best, perhaps in response to only having that and the Southern League Cup to focus on. Draws against Moneyfields and Blackfield really should have been wins, but all of this was off-set by a strong win against Winchester, Larkhall and the all important derby versus Bideford. However, defeat in the Southern League Cup sees us out of all possible cups before January. Next season I'd like to see this change but for now we can focus solely on the league.

https://i.imgur.com/FvpZNpq.png?2


Now how's this for a second half to a season!!!

For the first time all season we recorded three straight wins, with December seeing us beat Histon, Slimbridge and Cambridge!

Of course, this would inevitably mean we'd then go on to lose three of our next four, as we got off to a poor start to 2021. A lone win over Paulton punctuated some bad results, and even worse performances against Cinderford, Moneyfields and Cirencester - the reason for this being a mix of injuries and some panic changing of formation over-and-over again!

February was mainly about trying to recover from the losses of the previous month. Whilst we weren't winning games, it is important to not lose them. Score-draws against Melksham and Mangotsfield started and finished the month, whilst a goalless draw to a high-flying Totton side and an emphatic win at home to Chertsey filled the month.

Heading into March and things were really starting to heat up. Since changing to a 3-4-3 in December we'd looked a much better side, the one the bookies had predicted. Three points from Guisborough, another three in Felixstowe and three yet again from Coggeshall got the belief flowing in North Devon.

And this took us into April all but confirmed as a Playoff team. A narrow one-nil win against Cambridge sealed the deal and into the Playoffs we went. Now you'll be able to see a theme in these results! Bedworth went a goal up within the first ten minutes but despite this we looked like the dominant side, and eventually turned the tide to win the tie. Stamford were up next and going into the half we trailed 2-1, but after a few personnel changes and telling the boys to get at the opposition we were able to come from behind yet again! Into the final we went and surprise, surprise we quickly found ourselves two goals down. We rallied back to two-all before Northwood edged ahead once more, but my the end of the ninety minutes we'd managed to score twice more and complete a hat-trick of playoff comebacks!!!

https://i.imgur.com/FwI0xT6.png?1


https://i.imgur.com/no97xH4.png?1


https://i.imgur.com/AEsG44c.png?1


I'm not one usually for looking back at league positions across the season, after all its where you finish the season that counts, not where you sat for the weeks preceding this. But just take a little look at this. For the first 10/15 league games we played a flat 4-4-2 and looked like a mid-table side at best, but after a few additions to the backline and a change to a 3-4-3 we climbed up the league to make the Playoffs in the last few weeks!

Squad


https://i.imgur.com/GU1ZHFG.png?1


So here's a little look at the boys to have taken up this season, and as you can see we have some real star players in the side.

https://i.imgur.com/h8piKut.png?1


Alex Cull - since coming in mid-season, Alex has been a real step-up on what we had in the goalkeeping department. Keeping eleven cleansheets in his twenty-six league games I think speaks of how good he's been for us, and he stepped up in the Playoffs, making some very crucial saves.

https://i.imgur.com/AZGwCNl.png?1


Jack Bodenham - one of a number of centre-backs to come in as we switched to a three at the back. Jack was solid player for this year and was perhaps instrumental in stemming the flow of goals going past us. I've no doubt he can make the step up next year, provided the right additions accompany him at the back.

https://i.imgur.com/cv1Jouc.png?1


Michel Boutet - another superb season from a young Belgian "college student". Undoubtedly one of the premier midfielders at this level, his balls over the top and quick interplay in the middle of the park get us out of some tricky situations. Double-digit assist numbers for a second season in a row is not to be overlooked.

https://i.imgur.com/3EHfVPA.png?1


Andy Robinson - another mid-season signing, Andy came in to replace a departing player and made the position his own within a few games. In fact, bringing Andy in allowed me to move away from a Box-to-Box midfielder and instead allowed me to operate with a Ball-Winner, which really freed up Boutet to dictate from next to him. Whilst he isn't exactly a league leading player, the changes he allowed me to make really helped us push on!

Going into next season the board have already told me they expect us to reach the Playoffs again so we'll no doubt we'll be up against it and need to do some quality recruitment, but who knows what could happen at this level still!

https://i.imgur.com/ujJfA39.png?1


Kel Akpobire - after an impressive debut year for us last year, Kel went on to score a further eighteen goals for us. What's surprising about this is that he never really looked like he'd hit a purple patch, he just seemed to consistently get in behind and score - call this his sophomore slump. When I tell you that him scoring eighteen league goals didn't make him our star man up front you'll get the picture as to how we got promoted.

https://i.imgur.com/AXUr1HX.png?1


Shamar Moore - the main man up top for us this year. I'm still wondering how we managed to sign Shamar given the bags of ability he has. My assistant rates him as being a Vanarama Nation level player and after thirty-four goal contributions in thirty-eight games you can't help but feel he's playing below his level. What a player he's been for us this year, we'll do incredibly well to keep hold of him!!!
End of Season 2019/20


Heading into the New Year we were defying expectations by challenging for a playoff spot. The focus would be on solidifying this position and making a charge up the table during the back-end of the season. So how did we fare?

BetVictor Division One South


https://i.imgur.com/cYqSFFh.png?1


January started with an against-the-odds win over Frome, before being brought back to reality by Totton. A drab affair against Winchester saw two evenly matched sides fail to break the other down, sharing the points.

Heading into February and this is where the wheels began to fall off of our season. Cinderford, Slimbridge and Basingstoke are all teams who, at the time, we should've been getting points from, perhaps even winning. But after three games we only had two points to show for it. An expected win away to Paulton followed before a high-flying Bristol MF side took all three points despite being the lesser of the two sides.

Our form at the start of March looked set to get our league campaign back on track, beating rivals Bideford and Sholing back-to-back. However, our fortunes soured at the end of the month with poor performances against Cirencester and Melksham, the latter of the two confirming that we would miss out on the playoffs.

With nothing to play for, we ended the season with a third consecutive loss as Mangotsfield jumped ahead of us in the table on the final day.

https://i.imgur.com/DiJYq4a.png?1


So that's a wrap on season one! This season really could have gone either way, as things often do at the level, but to upset the odds and finish above expectations will be a silver-lining in what feels like a disappointing campaign!

https://i.imgur.com/XfNGuLd.png?1


Squad Review


https://i.imgur.com/MgdeZLb.png?1


No new names stood out in the second half of the season, which may lend itself to suggesting why we were so poor in the back half of the campaign. Perhaps we relied too much on our star players, perhaps the quality in depth wasn't there? Either way, I'm sure there will be a lot of activity in the summer, so let's try to not get too attached to the squad as is.
@Dan , @Grimnir cheers for the support lads, I'm excited to see what happens on this journey!

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January 2020


https://i.imgur.com/CbI28hb.png?


Let's kick things off with some good news. With my previous deal with Town due to expire at the end of the season, my work up until this point has been deemed good enough to secure me a contract lasting until the end of next season. Superb, if it weren't for this then I'm sure this would be one of the most short-lived careers going, and I can't be having that after my Swansea save ended so abruptly!

BetVictor Division One South


https://i.imgur.com/wbChaFd.png?1


We last touched base after a month of competitive football, with Barum sitting around mid-table. So after 4 more months and 19 more league games played, how exactly have we fared?

September was a mixed bag in terms of league form. Comfortable and impressive victories over Willand and Paulton got us underway before being held a home to Slimbridge. Dumped out of the cup straight after before back-to-back home losses to Highworth and Cinderford - teams who I'd argue we should be beating.

We got back to winning ways with an away trip Winchester, and our form in October was much better. A draw to Evesham saw us gain a point from a gain we weren't in before Totton took all three from us at Mill Road. We picked up three points of our own away to Basingstoke soon after. A double-header against Clitheroe in the cup rounded out the month.

November wasn't particularly kind to us. In six games we picked up seven points, but more concerningly we lost to the teams above us, meaning the likes of Highworth and Bristol MF could extend a gap over us.

We were better, but still not great, in December. After drawing away to Thatcham last month we replicated the same result at home, before seeing ourselves out of another cup. We ended the year with consecutive victories in which we scored four goals.

https://i.imgur.com/2iOYNuj.png?1


All of this means that we currently occupy 6th place in the league. Given our form, I'm pretty surprised! We've managed to lose nine games yet still sit just three points outside of the playoffs, although Evesham do have a game in hand. Considering we're expected to finish mid-table you could definitely saw we're overachieving as things stand!

Squad Review


https://i.imgur.com/dg84rAR.png?1


One thing I've come to realise is that playing in the lower leagues, the squad is always changing. There are always players who become available, or who become desperate to play, or even players that you find through chance.

This brings me on to some of the players in the squad that we've signed during the season. Akpobire came in to provide some real quality up top, and the Englishman has been a real quality player for us. Similarly, Sokolik joins after not receiving a better offer all season.

I'm sure as well you've noticed a few non-English players in the squad too. I decided to have a look through under-19 and under-21 National Teams, and I was able to find players who spawned into the game without a club. This led me to sign Michel Boutet and Daniel Lindberg, who at sixteen years old become among our best, and the league's best players.

Standout Players


https://i.imgur.com/QcE45HQ.png?1


Rydian Williams - whilst the average ratings may not show it, Rydian has been quality for us at right-back this season since signing from Swansea. He plays his role excellently, clearing the ball and distributing well when called upon.

https://i.imgur.com/UKSccrm.png?1


Michel Boutet - what a signing this young lad has been so far! Sixteen years-old and a Belgium under-19 International, I'm not sure whether its a bug with the game that he's generated and was interesting in signing, but here he is! Lets say he's studying for his A-Levels at Barnstaple's Petroc College?! Anyway, he comes in and is a star player for this level in the middle of the park. I know we won't keep hold of him forever, he'll move on to bigger and better I'm sure, but I'm also confident that we'll cross paths when he does eventually head off. For now though, let's sit back and enjoy him!!

https://i.imgur.com/XTE1Eq2.png?1


Kel Akpobire - since coming in Kel has been nothing short of lightning up top. For this level he's got the pace to get in behind and his dribbling, finishing and first touch are good enough to get him into position. Nine goals in eleven goals since coming in is nothing short of phenomenal and I'm hoping he can keep his form up for the rest of the season, though I doubt his numbers are sustainable!

https://i.imgur.com/aKkAqxk.png?1


George King - the other half of our strike force, George doesn't have the assistant rating to suggest he should be as good as he has been this season, but here he is after 25 appearances with 15 goals to his name! Fingers crossed him and Akpobire and stay fit and in form!
Summer Transfer Window 2019


https://i.imgur.com/iVEsKKM.png?1


With only a handful of players on the books prior to the start of the season, the task was to build a squad capable of achieving a mid-table finish at the least, whilst also doing the Club proud. Fourteen players have signed for Town so far, and more look set to sign in the coming days and weeks. I'm relatively happy with the signings I've made, and instead of introducing all of the players, let's take a look at the standout signings...

https://i.imgur.com/pBAPOGk.png?1


Steven Arthur - 16, DC - 16 years old and in search of his first taste of men's football, Steven Arthur comes in and goes straight into the backline. Already a star at this level, he could be one of the players which sticks around for long enough to rise up a league or two. A solid defender at this level and with impressive mentals too, Steven should have no problem adapting to senior football.

https://i.imgur.com/408P9Hc.png?1


Rhydian Williams - 19, DR - adding to our already strong defence, Rhydian relocates from South Wales to North Devon. Quick and strong in the challenge, that is all that will be asked of him at this level. Track back, win the ball, get rid. A star player in our backline for sure.

https://i.imgur.com/76bD75h.png?1


Ryan Lane - 22, MC - a player that I had my eye on all throughout the window, eventually signing after other moves fell through. Ryan should come in and be the heart-beat of the side in the middle of the park. Naturally a ball-winner, I'll use him as a deep-lying playmaker alongside another one of our better signings. A fairly technical player for this level, possessing good vision, passing and set-piece ability, I'll look to him to be one of our primary creators.

https://i.imgur.com/g4k1BOw.png?1


Jack Leask - 18, MC - another quality player in the middle of the park who possesses a little bit of everything. Whilst not being exceptional in any particular area, he is certainly better than most in all departments. If he can strike up a good partnership with Lane, we could have a very capable base to build from.

https://i.imgur.com/FFxNj0Q.png?1


Will Pinckard - 16, ST - another youngster looking to make his mark on men's football, Will joins the side and is our strongest attacking player. Will has good stats in key areas. His dribbling and finishing would make him a standout player at this level, whilst his work rate and pace should see him capable of chasing down a long ball. I've got high hopes for him this season.

BetVictor Division One South


https://i.imgur.com/josKMoh.png?1


And this leads us in to the end of the first month of competitive league play.

An opening day loss at home to Larkhall got the season underway, and the visitors looked good value for money, with our goal coming in second-half stoppage time. We followed this up with a comprehensive win over Sholing before beating fierce local rivals Bideford by a single goal, but the hosts had a number of chances late on to get back into the game.

After this we were thrashed by a Melksham team, who scored four goals via Louis Monelle, all of which were absolute quality goals - hats off to the lad. It was our turn to batter a team just days later, as Cirencester stood no match for us, losing 5-1.

Between this and our next game we came crashing out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle, with City of Liverpool having the edge over us in a tightly contested affair.

Finally, we closed the month out with a high scoring loss to Moneyfields in a game where we threw away a 2-1 lead to lose 2-3 at home. These things happen in football and we'll dust ourselves off and go again.

https://i.imgur.com/HuQeYOj.png?1


So mid-table it is so far after six games. For the most part we've looked ok, capable enough to give any team a good game, but every now and again we just don't turn up it seems (see the games against Melksham and Moneyfields). To be fair, the squad has only just come together and will take time to gel, become familiar with each other and so on. With a game in hand we only sit outside of the Playoffs by a handful of points, which I'm sure we could make up over the course of the season. It certainly feels like there are more positives to be taken, but anything could happen!
So, it turns out my short-term Swansea save really would be very short! Now unless this new save experiences any crashes, bugs or any other issue, this should be my long-term save!

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https://i.imgur.com/LtkZ9IZ.png


https://i.imgur.com/TZpYKR7.png?1


Barnstaple is a small-town in North Devon, with a population of ~20,000. Founded in 1904, Barnstaple Town FC play their football at Mill Road, an estimated 5000 capacity stadium with 250 seats. Life in Barnstaple is extraordinarily ordinary, so its time to give the town something to get its name on the map!

The aim of course, will be to win the Champions League... however, to do so we'll have to climb out of the BetVictor Southern League and make our way through the leagues, trials and tribulations.

The Club has been through some difficult time in recent seasons, changing management three times in the last three seasons, so the aim may well have to be to keep my job to start with!

https://i.imgur.com/VcWch12.png?1


This leads nicely into the Club's five year plan. For the current season it looks like I'll be tasked with securing a Mid-Table finish, whilst Cup competitions have no real relevance to the Board this year. Expectations it seems, are low.

Meet the Squad


https://i.imgur.com/bMudlKV.png?1


I've got my work cut out for me in terms of building a squad for the coming season, but what we do currently have is exceptionally good for this level... its just a shame there's only four of them.

https://i.imgur.com/E4sSgf8.png?1


Jordan Aghatsie - 21, DC - an absolute rock at the back and a league-leading player it would appear. The ideal defender, good in the air, quick over the ground and capable of marking a man out of a game at this level. A solid foundation.

https://i.imgur.com/OkE1x2k.png?1


Liam Gregory - 25, LB - the team seems blessed with top, top defenders. Absolutely rapid going forward and capable of putting in a good challenge, I can't see anyone coming in to be an upgrade in this position.

https://i.imgur.com/Miafc4i.png?1


Jed Harper-Penman - 25, AMR - a quick, tricky winger who looks set to give opposition defenders nightmares with his high flair. It'd be foolish to pick a system which doesn't involve Harper-Penman.

https://i.imgur.com/uEiD7xB.png?1


Saddam Bello - 25, ST - two good defenders and two good attackers already in the squad it would seem. The ideal striker for this level, quick enough to get in behind and good enough to win aerial balls put into the box. I'd expect Saddam to score over ten league goals this season.

Additionally, I handed contracts to some of the younger players in the squad, leaving the squad looking like this at present:

https://i.imgur.com/pXbK7Ci.png?1


What's Next?


A long summer awaits me now, with no doubt hundreds of players getting looked at and even more coming in on trials. The task now is to build a squad to secure a mid-table finish, but with the quality we already have in the squad in confident we'll be able to go further. We'll see what the squad looks like come the first match of the season!

«This comment has been edited»
Introduction


So with my FM19 Worldwide Journeyman coming to an end, its time to get stuck in to FM20.

I'm not sure how long-term this save will be. My plans originally were to wait until an English Leagues pack is made available and do a "Hometown Hero" kinda save, but for now a save with my Swans will do! It's been a fair while since I did a long-term Swansea save, but that doesn't affect me knowing what to expect from the boys and the club's financial situation.

For those interested, this will be the game's set-up:

https://i.imgur.com/OGMwcvX.png?1


So without further introduction, let's get stuck into it!

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https://i.imgur.com/W1hru9m.png?1


"So with the club enduring what might be one of the more turbulent spells in its recent history, things were shaken up even more prior to the start of the season, with Steve Cooper leaving South Wales before seeing a competitive game. In to replace him is relative unknown Swansea City fan Adam Rhys Knight, who comes in on a one-year deal."

https://i.imgur.com/v9Ol1KP.png?1


"Knight will be judged on his ability to meet a set of board requirements and stick with the club's long-term plans. It is believed that he will be tasked with building a youthful squad capable of playing "the Swansea way" - possession dominant, attacking football. With the club's finances dwindling, Knight will be tasked with the development of youngsters through the club's own Landore Training Facility. It is widely believed that the club is setting its heart on reaching the Sky Bet Championship Playoffs at a minimum this season, which Knight is sure to be judged on."

Transfers


"With a majority of the club's business having been conducted whilst Cooper was still in charge, Knight was left with no funds to bring players in and no space in the wage budget to sign unattached players. His attention would appear to be focused towards bringing in young, talented players on loan whilst shifting on some of the older, high-earners. It is reported that a number of players signed during the Swans' Premier League days are available for transfer, namely Kris Nordfelt, Andre Ayew, Tom Carroll and Jeff Montero."

Incomings


https://i.imgur.com/RSH8BYo.png?1


"The first signing of the Knight-era is young Spanish attacker Tofol Montiel, who will be joining the club from Serie A side Fiorentina for the season. It is unknown whether Tofol will be thrown straight into the first-team, but over the course of the season the youngster will certainly feature for the new manager."

https://i.imgur.com/B5qfW6Q.png?1


"Following this, Knight's second signing is Dylan Levitt from Manchester United. The Welshman returns to Wales for the season, and it is believed that he will be a squad player behind the likes of Celina in-behind the striker."

Outgoings


https://i.imgur.com/mSWln8V.png?1


"It has been announced that Swedish goalkeeper Kristoffer Nordfeldt will be leaving South Wales. With Woodman and Mulder in the squad, it is believed that Knight wanted to get the Swede's reported £20K a week wages off of the books as the club looks to operate well within it's means."

https://i.imgur.com/fXtBpYd.png?1


"With Deadline Day coming towards its end, Swansea City and Burnley have reached an agreement for the transfer of Ghanaian attacker Andre Ayew. The Swans will receive £10million in total from the deal, but more to the point, will get Ayew's £80k per week salary off of the books, with it being reported to have accounted for around 20% of the team's total wage expenditure."

Tactics


https://i.imgur.com/Q3aCux6.png?1


Having now overseen a painful first window, this is the likely tactical set up going in to the season - personnel subject to change on game-day!

I think this will be the best way of bringing the life back to the Liberty. Whilst the Summer window was entirely underwhelming, I was prepared for this. I came into the job knowing that we didn't have the money to do much, if anything, and so the squad will have to remain this way for the season.

Pre-Season


https://i.imgur.com/vdTC3yj.png?1


I left the pre-season to my assistant, and whilst some of the opposition we faced wasn't stellar, we did manage some good results. In particularly a 6-1 win to Genoa certainly highlighted a lot of positives, with the only negative being a loss to the Reserves (???).

Next Update


November 2019!
Ok, so a bit of an unexpected update to make... after being surprised with FM20 as a late birthday present, the Worldwide Journeyman comes to an end!

Whilst not the HoF career I'd have wanted it to be, I'll look back at the save with very fond memories.

From Thisted to Chicago via Juventus, who'd have thought!

Winning two of the big five continental competitions to boot wasn't bad either, and managing in leagues I'd never experienced certainly gave me a wider appreciation of FM!

Thank you to all of you who stuck around for this one, even if you only left one comment it was all well appreciated.

Should have my FM20 save up and running over the weekend, I've got a few ideas that I'm drawn to but one that stands out more than the others, one with a bit more personal sentiment!

Watch this space!

Adam
Mid-Season 2036/37


So, last time we touched base I mentioned that we might well be on to a special season this year, and well... let's take a look at how well that prediction may, or may not, have panned out!

Major League Soccer


https://i.imgur.com/jCCXYtY.png?1


Well it would seem that we're looking good for our money so far!

April saw us go unbeaten, scoring in each of our five league games in the month. A three-nil drubbing of D.C. United started the month, before travelling North of the border to play a good Toronto side, who matched us goal-for-goal, although we managed to battle back from a two-goal deficit to claim a point. A late equaliser would see us drop points as we stayed in Canada, before going back to winning ways with an impressive 2-1 win over Orlando, which could've been 3, maybe 4, before dismantling NYCFC over seventy minutes and seemingly forgetting that a game of football does in fact last ninety minutes, conceding twice more late on.

Our form looked good, but started to get shaky in May. A score-draw with a tough New England side was followed by a poor, poor draw against Cincinnati, who at the time were among the worst sides in the league. A loss to mid-table New York Red Bulls saw us take our first L of the season, but back to back wins over Columbus and Houston allowed us to re-establish our credentials. A so-so draw with RSL rounded out the month.

Going into the Summer, we picked up two wins and a draw in June. Comfortably seeing both LA sides before a poor performance against Minnesota saw us chasing the game for a majority of the ninety before a late equaliser picked up a point for our efforts.

https://i.imgur.com/5Nt1lnt.png?1


And with all that said and done, not only do we sit top of our Conference, but we also sit at the summit of the League! After years of looking decent, we finally look 'good'. Compare where the club is at this stage last season and the club as a whole is a lot more healthy.

Squad wise, bringing in the likes of Hilska, Olvera, Monjac, Camara and Cisse in the last twelve months has added some real star-quality across the pitch, which is being reflected in our play.

Squad Review


Having mentioned the squad briefly, let's take a look at how the boys have been doing so far this year.

https://i.imgur.com/c4y33cV.png?1


One man sits a top the average rating table this year. Ibrahim Cisse has been absolutely electric for us this year, scoring 20 goals in 26 appearances in all competitions so far. He's exactly the striker we needed and since he came in at this point last season, he's scored goals against everyone.

Our inside forwards Beugre and Reyes have contributed well too, whilst Camara has been dominating the middle of the park.

The backline, despite being praised for the quality of signings, has not looked amazing. It has however looked good. What I'm saying is that there is definitely room for improvement, but the current level is certainly good enough.

US Cup


https://i.imgur.com/9KL1ZId.png?1


Having won the US Cup last season, I'm definitely keen to retain our silverware this year.

June got our defence underway. A heavily rotated, weakened side beat lower-league Dayton Dutch Lions in a game that looked like it could've gone either way at stages. Into the 5th Round to face Minnesota and despite the same scoreline as the last round, the game couldn't have been any different. We looked set to turn our opponents over, but yet we failed to make good of our good play, eventually conceding a second half goal which flattered our opponents.

We now go into the Quarter Final to play LAFC in July, and after comfortably beating them in the league, I'd expect a similar result.

NACL


https://i.imgur.com/CcaCf87.png?1


The North American Champions League. The reason we're here, the next stop on a Worldwide Tour.

I'm still confused as to how we got into the competition at the stage we did, but after making our way to the Semi Final at the first time of asking, we were drawn against Mexican outfit Chivas.

Our opponents would prove to be too hot to handle and an awful first leg in Mexico all-but-confirmed our exit from the competition.

To be fair, I'd have had mixed feelings had we made it to the Final and won the thing given the uncertainty of our entry into the tournament, but at least this way there's a chance to do it all over again off of our own backs.

Thoughts


We're looking like a really promising side this year. If we can keep up our form, I'd back us to lift the Conference title and then after that, who knows what could happen in the Playoffs.

What is particularly encouraging is that we've got a fighting spirit this year, coming back into games that we would have been well out of last season.

The squad is young too, and with plenty of room to grow. Who knows where we could be at the end of the Regular Season!

Next Update


End of Regular Season!
Away goals and missed chances really killed us @r96Skinner but I suppose that's the way it has to be sometimes!

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Offseason 2036/37


This winter I engaged in what might just be our most significant window with Chicago so far, even more so than the mid-season window that has recently seen the squad shaken up. A number of trades and transfers took place, so without further ado lets take a look at the business!

https://i.imgur.com/dOn8C3V.png?1


Starting with the trades that we sanctioned in this window, we made four in total.

Peripheral centre-back Joshua White was moved to D.C. United for two 3rd Round picks in the 2039 Draft, but more importantly we picked up an International Slot for the coming year - the standout asset in this deal.

The next trade was one that we proposed. We offered our Pick (17) in the forthcoming Draft for both the 1st and 2nd Rounds, £250K worth of General Allocation Money and a further £500K worth of Target Allocated Money in exchange for Minnesota's 1st Pick in the Waiver Draft. Admittedly an overpayment, but I find it hard to judge how much is too much when it comes to GAM and TAM. As you can imagine, if I'm offering that much for an asset it must be worth it. We'll look at that later.

Trades three and four both took place between ourselves and NYCFC as academy graduate Chris Adams left the club after being displaced by Beugre, in return the City-group side sent us LAFC's 6th Pick in the 1st Round of the coming SuperDraft. I think that's exceptional value for a squad player and hopefully can see us draft a top prospect.

Lastly, Jack Farnsworth would leave for NYCFC's future 1st Round Pick in 2039 as well as an additional International Slot. This looks on paper to be a great deal. Farnsworth wasn't going to be pushing Vitor out of the side any time soon. If NYCFC are bad for the foreseeable future the Pick could have great value, and getting an International Slot is always beneficial.

https://i.imgur.com/kGyebvV.png?1


On to the Ins and Outs then. Bagus and Johnson both departed the club, I'd tried to arrange trades for them to see us get something in return but nobody would bite. Academy graduate Aiklounon was signed from the academy and loaned straight back.

Free Transfers


https://i.imgur.com/NCfdFxO.png?1


Greg White - 36, DC I'd mentioned during last season after the signings of Camara and Monjac that I'm in a position now where I've seen a lot and done a lot with this career, and that there are a lot of former players either winding down their careers or looking to kick start them. Greg is definitely winding down and is set to hang his boots up by the end of the season, but for now he comes in to add a level of experience and back up that we'd lacked. Physically shot, his ability to defend and pass still remain exceptional for this level. With two centre-backs leaving, we needed one to fill the void and the fifty-capped international with nearly two-hundred Juventus appearances fits the bill.

https://i.imgur.com/DqVsqZr.png?1


Tomas Hilska - 20, GK - with Perez needing a replacement for the last two years now, Tomas is the ideal replacement in my eyes. Gray before him wasn't going to get any better and was as good as, if not worse than Perez. Hilska is as good as Perez, maybe even better, and still has room to grow. Released after playing a number of years in his native Finland, he looks set to be a starter in Chicago.

https://i.imgur.com/45ZUzYL.png?1


Josh Sargent - 37, ST - Josh started the Winter without a club. I'd decided against renewing his DP deal as he wanted to remain a Designated Player and wanted wages in excessive £100k per week. What a difference a few weeks does, eh? One of two American strikers signed in the window, Josh is actually set to retire mid-season but until then he's happy to be a reserve player earning around ten percent of what he wanted a few months ago.

2036 Waiver Draft


As our trades indicated, there was one player in particular that I had my eye on, and judging by the deal, I did everything I could to secure the 1st Pick in the Draft.

https://i.imgur.com/G0eu4SA.png?1


Mauricio Olvera - 23, DC - And here he is! Mauricio was due to be in last year's Waiver Draft, but Sporting Kansas City offered him a year extension. This year though, he declined any extensions and so was selected for the Waiver Draft. You can see from his ability and reports that he's the kind of player that can make an instant impact on the team. I've essentially paid £750K for an American player who can fit into the first-team and stopped my rivals from getting hold of him in the process - what a deal! Olvera isn't a flashy defender, he'll be there to win the ball and that's that. He's still got room to grow and we've got him tied down for at least three years!

Its worth noting in the Waiver Draft that we signed Thomas Fitzpatrick from LA Galaxy, but he's since been waived by us!

2037 MLS SuperDraft


Call me naïve, call me stupid, but for some reason I love the SuperDraft. I love trying to get as high a pick as possible and this could perhaps see me conduct poor business, but in the last two seasons we've gone on to get two first-team players in Ramirez and Velazquez, so if its not broke I won't fix it. This year's draft class was ok, no real stand out players and a lot of the talent happened to be strikers.

https://i.imgur.com/HgjK95d.png?1


Marcelo Cisterna - 20, AMR - With the 6th Pick in the 2037 MLS SuperDraft, the Chicago Fire select Chilean winger Marcelo Cisterna from Reading United! As I'd said, a lot of the top players in the draft were strikers, an area we didn't need to reinforce. Of the players available, Cisterna stood out to me. 6'4'', pacey and good in the air, Marcelo will add a different dimension to our wide-play. He won't be displacing Reyes or Beugre any time soon, but he will be able to add a spark off of the bench. Since signing he's become a personal favourite, he's just a likeable player. (He's also recently been registered).

March Re-Entry Draft


The March Re-Entry Draft allows teams to assess their squads in the opening days of the season before making any additions they see fit during the Draft. We took this opportunity to sign two players who add first-team quality to the squad right away.

https://i.imgur.com/2V5gDGG.png?1


Tobias Anton - 20, DR - Deemed surplus to requirements in Colorado, Tobias joins the Fire for the next few years. At current, he's as good as Vitor, although will have to work and perform hard to displace the ever-present Brazilian in the backline. His future could see him far surpass his team-mate, and ultimately his future lies outside of MLS. Over the next few years he'll phase out Vitor. Quick, composed and possessing ability where it counts for a fullback, I'm delighted to have signed a player of Anton's quality.

https://i.imgur.com/5YXaHN7.png?1


Cody Torres - 32, ST - The final player to join us this year is experienced striker Cody Torres. Another player deemed not good enough by the Rapids, Cody comes here to play second-fiddle to Cisse. On paper, he's better than Sargent, and I'd rather have an experienced striker such as Cody on the bench over an academy graduate. Good depth signed for free.

Pre-Season


https://i.imgur.com/nNQKjBr.png?2


This is just half of the pre-season fixtures we played this offseason. Preceding this was a host of games against top Argentinian sides as I looked to gauge a new look Fire side against the quality of my previous competition. This was followed up with a slew of games against domestic sides who we should be competing with, ones we should be beating and then Rapid Vienna to boot. A mixed bag of results, but a lot of positives to be taken.

North American Champions League


Yep, that's right. Somehow, we've qualified for the NACL. I assume its for reaching the Semi Final of the Eastern Conference last season, but that seems unlikely seeing as we qualified straight for the First Knockout Round. No qualifiers, no group games, straight into the knockouts. I don't get it, there must've been an admin error somewhere!

https://i.imgur.com/lUfKaRL.png?1


Either way, we'd be playing Defence Force, a side from Belize who you'd imagine we should be beating comfortably. And beat them we did. A whole host of back up players got a run out in both of the games. Greg White anchored a defence that saw the likes of Begay play, whilst Cisterna and academy products McBride and Martinez found minutes.

This set us up to play fellow MLS side New England in the Quarter Finals (?!). By halftime in the First Leg, our opponents had stormed to a two goal lead, but an inspired side would fight back to draw the tie. A narrow win the week after sent us into the Semi Finals, where we'll play Chivas.

As you can see, I'm not pouring over the details for this one. I'm not really sure how we qualified, missed the Group Stage and have ended up in the Semi Final. It feels a bit cheap if you're asking me. I'd much prefer to play a whole tournaments worth of games, especially when you consider we're two ties away from potentially completing this leg of the journey. I'll have mixed feelings should we go on to win.

Major League Soccer


https://i.imgur.com/jTeSYs8.png?1


So after all of this, we're back! Its good to be back too, the squad is looking much better than the one we took over, and a lot better than the one we started the last campaign with! Having played six games so far, let's see how we've fared!

Our sole game in February saw us host FC Dallas in our season opener. Dallas are a side capable of being good for half a season and then being poor in the second half, much like ourselves. A win for either team would perhaps see a change in fortune for the two sides then. One goal settled the game, and thankfully for us it was a composed finish from Cisse into the bottom corner.

Five games followed in the month of March. Olvera returned to former side Sporting Kansas City, who were fresh off of a 5-1 thrashing of NYCFC. The SKC fans are certainly blessed with goals at the start of the season, seeing a further five in a game which we ran out 4-1 winners. Back-to-back road games saw us travel to Philadelphia, and we returned with another three points. We hit the road for the third time in as many games for a game against Montreal Impact, looking for revenge after the Canadian's dumped us out of the Playoffs just a few months ago. We didn't perform to a level anywhere near our recent form and the hosts took full advantage, putting two past us. We finally returned to Toyota Park to welcome D.C. United, but neither sides looked at it after a busy run of fixtures. FC Cincinnati were our last opponents of the month, and a narrow one-nil win saw us take all three points in a game that the visitors were unlucky to lose.

https://i.imgur.com/XwpdFlw.png?1


Four wins, one draw and one loss to start our season sees us sitting top of the Eastern Conference, and a Top 3 side across both Conferences! Our only loss comes to Montreal who sit below us in the table, winning that game would have seen us open up a big gap early on, but for now we'll settle for a point.

What's been particularly impressive is the way that we've played in these games, evidenced by our results. Unlike last season, when we weren't playing well it was always a question of "when" would we concede, not "if". So far this season, we're looking a lot tighter at the back, in part due to having four quality players that could start (but favouring a Monjac-Olvera partnership), but even when we don't look at our best, we still look like we'll score in a game. We're looking a much better side overall and its almost as if the players have fully taken to the tactics. Either way, we're in for a good season by the looks of it!

Next Update


Mid-Season Update - because we actually look a decent side for once!

«This comment has been edited»
Thanks @Dan, it was good to finally get some silverware in the States after a rough few years!

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MLS Playoffs


We managed to put together perhaps our best season in Chicago over the last season. Whilst result weren't always as I'd hoped they'd be, we managed to scrape through. All of this on the back of a mid-season trigger pull that saw us reshape key areas of the squad. Let's see if this risk would turn out to be worth taking.

https://i.imgur.com/q65x3iE.png?1


Our first Playoff game saw us face off against Orlando City in a one-legged 'Wild Card' to see which of the two sides would make it into the Playoffs-proper. Within the opening minutes of the game Jose Reyes managed to find himself free at the back stick to hammer an early volley home. Orlando equalised not long after through a long-range effort which clattered the post on its way in, I'd like to have seen Perez do better to be honest. Down to the luck of penalties we would go. Jose Reyes stepped up first and hit is tame effort straight at the Orlando 'keeper, but over the course of sixteen penalties we edged our opponents. Into the next round we go!

MLS Eastern Conference Semi Final Leg 1


https://i.imgur.com/IIzxauc.png?1


Montreal would be our opponents at home in the next round, and going into the half we had a lead over the Canadians. Herrin opened the scoring after a fine Mondragon set-piece found the Welshman at the back post. Mercurial striker Apajee picked up where he left off in the Regular Season and punished a missed header from Monjac, but Cisse restored our lead moments later. Apajee had is second of the game through a header of his own not long into the second half, and Cisse had a golden chance to seal a win late on but fluffed his lines.

MLS Eastern Conference Semi Final Leg 2

https://i.imgur.com/XeBx1YL.png?1


We travelled north of the border days later, well aware that the Impact's away goals would be enough to see them through at present. And yet again it was a game of headed goals, this time Rafael Augusto and Cisse the scorers. A game which we struggled to open up the Montreal back-line, we crash out of the Playoffs on away goals.

Thoughts


Given the way the season played out, the squad turmoil and turnover, the numerous encounters with the board and my head being turned elsewhere throughout the season, I'm actually very happy with how the season turned out. I've seen a lot from the squad since we made our big changes mid-season. I'd told myself during the season that I'd be open to moving to another NA team at the end of the year, but there's been enough promise to make me stick it out for at least another season to see what a whole year of this side can do. I've got my eyes set on a few players to take us from strength-to-strength, so let's see what the Offseason has in store for us!

Next Update


Offseason and Start of the 2037 Season!
Thanks for the continued support @bigmattb28, the red certainly did kill us off!

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Note: Firstly, let me apologise for the lack of recent updates, getting back to Uni has seen FM take a back seat but I'm still playing when I get the time!

End of Regular Season 2036


When we last touched base, the plan was to come back and see the progress come the halfway stage of the 2036 Season, but there was really little to talk about as the season quickly went wayward.

Major League Soccer


https://i.imgur.com/tvrodnh.png?1


The first half of the 2036 Regular Season saw our form look shaky.

Moving into April we looked like a side that couldn't buy a goal. Four games played, one goal scored. Yet on the plus side we kept an impressive four cleansheets. But not scoring goals hurt our league position during this period.

Things went from ok to terrible quickly during May. It became very clear that the project in its current set-up was failing, we couldn't score and when we did it was looking like a case of "when would we throw the lead away?" as ties against New England, Minnesota and Seattle both saw us give up a lead. By the end of the month, the board had started to notice a singe win our last nine games.

Heading into June we had to gain 10 points from 5 games to shake the board off of my back, and a poor win over a bad LAFC side got us off to a good start, before a real game-of-two-halves against Houston saw us go from looking like world-beaters to looking like a Sunday-league side. A common theme despite this was the continued lack of goals.

July would be our proverbial judgement day. A scrappy win against Real Salt Lake continued our resurgence and a lucky draw against San Jose followed. Thankfully a poor NYCFC side would be our final match of the run in and we managed to come through come the end of the ninety minutes. The fixture list was seemingly in our favour, but during this time we switched away from the 4-1-2-1-2 to a 4-3-3, though this didn't last long either...

Mid-Season Transfers


Outs


As I had said, the current iteration of the squad wasn't performing as I had hoped it would and I'll have to take the blame on that front. So, I decided to do something that I rarely do - shake up the squad mid-season. This meant that all of our DPs and International Players had to be looked at. Sargent wasn't playing well at all, Christoffersen looked nothing like the player I hoped he would be, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

https://i.imgur.com/xnRdbUs.png?1


Bo Christoffersen - £8million (rising to £10+million) to West Ham United - signed to be the player to make us tick, Bo occupied not only an International Slot but a DP slot too - he had to either start performing or go. He never really got going for us and a quick profit was made on the player. His departure frees up a lot of possibilities for the squad going forward.

https://i.imgur.com/iAWcErW.png?1


Jude Obinna - Released - Jude was the first DP player I signed in Chicago. Experienced internationally and in Europe, I thought he would be a solid defender for us whilst we bridged the gap. To be fair, he was. But now well into his thirties and occupying both a DP and International Slot, getting him off the books will open up a World of options.

https://i.imgur.com/SKK39I4.png?1


Derek Gray - Released - Derek is a good player, let's get that right from the off. For whatever reason it wasn't working out for him and there isn't much between him and Perez. At the beginning of the season I was rejecting bids from Celtic for the Scot, but as the time came to cast my eye on the squad I realised I had to cut some International Players from the squad to free room for others to come in. Having said that, and with him not far off what we already have, the decision was made to release him and he subsequently joined New England almost immediately.

Ins


Now this is where the penny dropped for me with regards to where I am in this career and the way the MLS works. Managing in the MLS there are a number of different ways the squad registration can be looked at. Ideally, I would like a squad of good, American players on Senior Contracts. An International Slot can be used to fill holes in the squad, but rarely will you get a star quality International Player on a Senior Contract. Designated Players are where you focus your efforts, and I've come to realise that an International DP (an International Player on a Designated Contract) should be avoided or kept to a minimum unless you're sure of their ability.

Furthermore, I'm now at a point where I've climbed the leagues from bottom to top and I'm now on a 'farwell' tour of sorts. What this means is that there will be former players out there who still want to play for me, and that are also still good players...

https://i.imgur.com/LSiQ5qR.png?1


El Hadji Camara - 24, MC - signed on a free transfer from Leicester City, I'm reunited with one of the prodigal sons of Juventus. I originally signed Camara as a sixteen year-old and from then he was an ever present in my Juventus side, but he never fulfilled his potential. Instead, after I left he was shipped off to Leicester where he failed to gain consistent game time. The Foxes released him and his affection for me was enough to get him on board. He's still a very well rounded, physical midfielder with all the ability and then some for this level. If I have to exploit previous players to succeed here, then I will.

https://i.imgur.com/qu9oJtz.png?1


Krunoslav Monjac - 20, DC - replacing Obinna at the back, but not occupying a DP slot, Krunoslav joins from (yep, you guessed it) Juventus after I signed him as a youngster. His time in Turin was spent mostly with the Under 23s in Serie B and this has helped shape him into a good player, with room still to grow. He's good in the areas he needs to be good in and is equally as good as Obinna.

https://i.imgur.com/Xmwi6WJ.png?1


Ibrahim Cisse - 23, ST - the second Frenchman to join and a new DP to boot, Ibrahim is the type of marquee signing that I'm sure will fire us to new heights. Incredibly gifted when it comes to finishing and dribbling, he looks leagues above the likes of Sargent, and even Muller and Clayden of years gone by. So much is his ability that PSG gave him game time at various stages of his career. I'm excited to have him here!

Major League Soccer


https://i.imgur.com/ZxO3jgg.png?1


With our form looking back on track and a change in personnel, things were looking promising going into the back half of the season. Although by the end of August it looked much like business as usual, although we were starting to score more!

An unbeaten run in September exposed the same old defensive fragilities, as we were unable to shut out opponents, yet had no problem matching them goal-for-goal. The form of Jose Reyes in this period was second to none too.

Somewhat traditionally we failed to turn up for the last month of the season, recording back-to-back-to-back losses in October, before rounding off the Regular Season with a convincing hammering of Atlanta United.

https://i.imgur.com/APuq6We.png?1


https://i.imgur.com/hyw3dpz.png?1


With this, we were good enough to finish fifth in our conference, and tenth in MLS overall. Playoffs booked and now a top ten team, progression certainly coming bit-by-bit rather than by leaps and bounds.

US Cup


https://i.imgur.com/6m5qFoa.png?1


For all our woes over the course of a regular league season, nothing can be taken away from the progress we make in the US Cup each season. Having faltered at the Semis last season, the squad was clearly determined to outdo itself this year.

Although a theme has certainly emerged in our wins this year! Level after ninety minutes in each round of the competition, we have clearly shown that we have the fitness and conditioning to see us edge opponents over one-hundred and twenty minutes. Make of that what you will about how good we are as a team and you could almost suggest we've been unlucky in the league this year.

Into the Final we went and at this point in the season Cisse was struggling for confidence and all of the good-will Josh Sargent had built up over the last two seasons wasn't enough to make me consider putting him on the bench, so in came academy graduate Alexis Martinez. On at the end of ninety minutes, the youngster would go on to bag a brace and single-handedly bring me my first piece of silverware with the Fire - a new hero, perhaps?

https://i.imgur.com/gksq4ou.png?1


https://i.imgur.com/381oZfZ.png?1


Squad Review


https://i.imgur.com/5mVm7HB.png?1


I won't dwell on the squad for too long. A quick glance at the goals, assists and average ratings tells you all you need to know about our season. Not a single player scored over ten goals or got over ten assists.

Perez has probably got one last season in him, a new goalkeeper will have to be brought in again and my eyes are well and truly cast on some American talent for this position.

Steve Jones has established himself as our starting left-back this season, whilst the addition of Monjac gives me three competent central options alongside either Luciano or Herrin. Vitor again was unchallenged at right-back, although the idea of replacing him with native talent and freeing up an International Slot isn't going unnoticed.

The midfield changed so much this year it'd be hard to criticise them. They've played in a 2, a 3 and a 5 now and this does deserve some praise. Rocha has played well as a ball-winner and the addition of Camara has added the much needed quality and presence to the middle of the park. Rookie Velazquez played well when called upon and showed some good passing range despite limited minutes.

Beugre had a good first season and I'll look to him to build upon it. Reyes was our best player and at one point looked set to leave for Reading, before rejecting their offer and I'm very glad he did that now. Adams and Ramirez both missed a sizeable chunk of the season via international commitments.

Upfront and the picture has already been painted. Sargent has fallen off a cliff and to be honest what was I thinking keeping him as the starting striker this year. Collins was ok, but not great during his loan, definitely better than Clayden/Muller (yes this is the new bar for awful strikers now), whilst Maldonado's loan was cut short early. Cisse is a player to really be excited about and once he's settled fully and knows the language I expect better from him. 5 in his first 7 was followed by a 10 hour dry-spell before netting 3 on the final day of the season.

We'll see what the summer has in store for this side.

Tactics


https://i.imgur.com/TPYAfSB.png?1


Lastly, I've alluded to a number of tactical tweaks and changes this year, which may have been a hinderance and not helpful.

We started the year with a possession dominant 4-1-2-1-2 but failed to create and score during this time.

We moved to a counter-attacking 4-3-3 in the hopes that three strikers would mean more goals, it didn't.

Funnily enough it was the formation that would see us play our best players all at once that would work, who'd have thought? Moving to a 4-5-1 allows me to set a solid defence up with a midfield three that all compliment each other. Rocha wins the ball and plays it to either Camara, who will sit back and playmake, or to Velazquez/Mondragon who are tasked with linking the midfield and attack. Beugre and Reyes operate as inside forwards to support Cisse, and between the three of them there is certainly enough ability and pace to cause opposition defenders trouble.

Next Update


MLS Playoffs 2036!
Off-Season 2035


Last season was horrific to say the least, painful in areas and an absolute nightmare for the most part. Work was needed to sure up the side, so without further ado lets look at the off-season's work.

https://i.imgur.com/WpJiPOm.png?1


December Waiver Draft


At the end of the season, clubs are required to guarantee contracts for next season and protect players from being drafted. With this being said, teams can use this as an immediate means of strengthening their sides before setting their sights on major off-season targets.

https://i.imgur.com/AiKwur0.png?1


Chris Begay - 19, DL - with a full season of MLS football to his name already at the age of nineteen, I was surprised to see the Dynamo fail to protect him for the coming season. Alongside Jones, this gives us two good young left-backs to challenge Overgard, but the future and the depth in this position looks bright.

https://i.imgur.com/n8vSJF0.png?1


Harrison Fenton - 25, ST - with Muller and Clayden not performing last season, there were times when a fourth option would have been a lovely thing to have and this is what Harrison is here to be. He won't start, he will barely make the bench but what he will do is provide depth to a squad that needs it.

https://i.imgur.com/QTUjSF8.png?1


Jack Farnsworth - 25, DR - a common theme with December Waiver Draft players is that they aren't exactly starting calibre. Jack joins to provide depth at right-back and become our nailed on second-choice. With just shy of two-hundred professional games to his name he offers experience behind Vitor, without pushing to start.

MLS SuperDraft


I'll say it from the start here, we did not have a good SuperDraft. Last year's draft set a high standard for me, trading for the number one pick perhaps isn't something that can be done every year. The likes of Muller and Clayden were both traded away for picks and future considerations as the squad was reshaped. I had my eyes on a young 'keeper projected as a Top 5 pick and thankfully our trades saw us occupy fourth. However, he eventually went second making my sole target off the board, leading to the following draftees...

https://i.imgur.com/MQJ7Oxd.png?1


Guillermo Velazquez - 21, MC - with my top target gone I asked the assistant who he'd pick. Generation Adidas midfielder Velazquez was his option and I failed to see a better option. Plenty of room to grow, he'll provide depth in the midfield this season.

https://i.imgur.com/sv2udkb.png?1


Efrain Bernal - 21, GK - third choice, homegrown goalkeeper, nothing more, nothing less. Hopefully he doesn't play for me this season.

https://i.imgur.com/JZXzk7K.png?1


Jose Luis de la Cruz - 21, DR - more depth at the back, again should hope to not see him start any games this year.

Transfer Window


Mamadou Beugre - 19, ML
- if we want to be a better side this year we'd have to improve across the board, that's obvious. Chris Adams had been my starting left-mid since my arrival solely because he was an academy graduate. Sentiment has no place if we're looking to be serious contenders and so Beugre was bought in from ASEC to fill this spot. Six games in and he's yet to set the league alight, but perhaps I've rushed him into the team and he needs to settle.

https://i.imgur.com/x1rBIiD.png?1


Luis Maldonado - 20, ST - I was close to signing Luis permanently during the summer, but Marseille came in after us with a larger fee and higher wages. No complaints from me, can't hold it against the player. Instead then, I loaned him in for the year. I look at him as a better version of Clayden, mind it'd be tough to be worse. I'm looking to use his raw pace off the bench to see games out and already he's done better than his Irish predecessor.

https://i.imgur.com/n0OSr8o.png?1


Paul Collins - 22, ST - I don't know how or why but we've ended up with another International Slot for the year, which I decided to use to get Collins on loan from Liverpool for the year. On paper he looks to be a starter for us alongside Sargent and he can't be worse than those before him. For both him and Maldonado it'll take some time for partnerships to be formed but I have no doubt they can do good for us once they're fully firing.

MLS


https://i.imgur.com/HfPVmm2.png?1


Same old Chicago... Two wins from our first two games and looking good for it, followed by a no-show against an NYCFC side that we're probably equal to, then letting this affect our form as an average Portland side saw us off comfortably. A nil-nil draw against New York Red Bulls saw us register just one shot on target, a ninetieth minute clear-cut chance that was hit straight at the 'keeper. Back to wining ways against Philadelphia saw us dominate throughout yet failed to make any of our chances from open-play count, only a Reyes penalty secured three points.

https://i.imgur.com/hS75zUb.png?1


Six games in and we sit fifth in our division, though only three points (and eight goals) are between us and second. I'm not sure what to expect for this season. We've improved marginally season-on-season and I'd hope to do so again this year and be slightly better than the mediocrity we've shown.

Next Update

Mid-Season Review
Thanks @bigmattb28 for the continued support, lets see how the season panned out...

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End of Season 2035


Now, in the last update the intention was to update again mid-way through the season, but things quickly became clear we were a mediocre side and one that was underperforming too, as evidenced by...

https://i.imgur.com/7bv5fSR.png?1

https://i.imgur.com/XWnmtLd.png?1

https://i.imgur.com/IdtIW4d.png?1


Yep, that's three times during the season where my job was called into question, where each game could've been my last.

MLS


https://i.imgur.com/jUDcLOI.png?2

https://i.imgur.com/ty283OS.png?1


A quick look at the fixture list shows that we struggled to put together any sort of good form. We'd win one then we'd lose one, very rarely would a result repeat itself over the course of the season. Furthermore, I'll put my hands up and say there was mismanagement of the squad, which will be covered in the squad review. Towards the back end of the season we looked a much better side, a tactical change to a positive vertical tiki-take went some way to helping with this, allowing us to make a late push at the end of the year.

https://i.imgur.com/cxVt7dI.png?1


A push which did see us qualify for the post-season, even sitting as high as 3rd at a point! To me this shows movement in the right direction after we narrowly missed out last year.

US Cup


https://i.imgur.com/jUVOB8Z.png?1


Having made it to the Semi Final of last season's US Cup I was confident that we could perhaps go one further this season.

A comfortable win against Nashville got our run underway before a penalty shootout win against Minnesota took us into the Quarter Final. A narrow loss against D.C. United ended any hopes of silverware for another year.

MLS Playoffs


https://i.imgur.com/sAWKjry.png?1


Our Playoff draw pitted us against NYCFC in a game that could've gone either way, and looking at the stats you could say we were unlucky. Bossing possession and dominating the shot count suggests we were in the driver's seat, but a bad challenge from Overgard saw the defender receive his marching orders and less than five minutes later the hosts made the man-advantage count, ending our season and halting our late-season momentum.

Squad Review


https://i.imgur.com/XAwYitT.png?1


I mentioned previously that part of our bad season is due to my poor management of the team, but parts were also due to injury. Before the season had started I made the decision to cut a lot of players from the squad and loan academy graduates and previous draft picks out to see them develop, I realised soon that this left me with a bare bones squad. Towards the end of the season we were hit with a lot of injuries and international call-ups seeing me field a bench entirely of defenders.

We were also hurt by players not performing well, only four averaged over a seven rating.

In goal, both Gray and Perez were rotated and performed equally. Ideally I'd let Perez go in the off-season and sign a cheaper, homegrown 'keeper.

The defence was shaky this year. Luciano and Obinna were the usual starting pair, but when the latter left for AFCON duties, Herrin stepped up well.

The midfield played well for the most part, although nobody stood out. Christoffersen was largely disappointing but a lot of this is due to those around him not firing.

This brings me on to the strikers and I've never seen anything like this. How Sargent is still scoring over twenty goals is beyond me, but its certainly changed my opinion on him. Muller was resurgent at the end of the season, but this isn't enough to save him, he's got to go. Jimmy Clayden wins the award for possibly the worst signing made by anyone ever, twenty-eight games without a single goal and only two assists to go with the countless misses over the year; genuinely I've never seen a player so bad in all my years. Big reshape needed.

Next Update


Off-Season 2035
Off-Season Review 2034/35


At the end of the 2034 Regular Season we were nothing more than spectators for the Playoffs after having been a way, way off the mark during the back end of the season. The silver-lining through all of this was that it allowed me to come to an honest and realistic opinion about the squad, setting up the busiest and most important off-season the club has had in recent years.

December Re-Entry Draft


With the season over and done, many clubs made their decision about players within their squads about who to keep and who to let go. Once the players had passed the waivers the remaining players became eligible for the 2034 December Re-Entry Draft, in which we had the 10th pick (due to our league position) and a host of second-round selections.

https://i.imgur.com/L4Gcp4I.png?1


Jozsef Kasza - 21, DC - the first player we selected was twenty-one year-old defender Kasza, formerly of Cincinnati. All parties in this deal were under no illusions that Jozsef was coming in solely as a backup player and as a means of providing competition.

https://i.imgur.com/H4m6Mhe.png?1


Joshua White - 23, DC - the second player of the three we selected, although the third player is already off the books, White joins in a similar manner to Kasza. Formerly of FC Dallas, White offers more depth and cover in one of our weakest positions and may feature in times of need.

Free Transfers


Around this time one of our pre-arranged transfers from the closing stages of last season became an official Chicago Fire player...

https://i.imgur.com/fZW2HG0.png?1


Jimmy Clayden - 25, ST - with over one-hundred appearances in the English league system and a full Republic of Ireland international, Clayden joins to provide competition for both Sargent and Muller, with both players staying with the club and starting in our new-look side. Jimmy has bags of pace and great attributes where it counts and could partner Muller off the bench, giving us a pacey front-line, or could perfectly compliment Sargent.

https://i.imgur.com/UrPJs9B.png?1


Vitor - 29, DR - the right-side of our defence was arguably our weakest position last season after we were left with one fit player in the first-team who was less than the standard needed. Having spent all of his career in his native Brazil thus far, Vitor joins us as he comes into his peak. A much needed step up in quality, Vitor has strong qualities physically, mentally and defensively and could be a very solid player for us over the next few seasons.

2035 MLS SuperDraft


Something I've been keen to experience in my career so far has been the MLS SuperDraft, a love it or hate it system of bringing fresh talent into the league and ensuring somewhat of a balance is kept between teams. A number of trades in previous years had seen us land with four first-round picks. Having scouted the players that had declared it became very clear to me that this year's draft class had two stand out players, one an attacking midfielder and one a defensive midfielder. Knowing that either of these players would be able to play for me this year a trade was struck with the Vancouver Whitecaps. The deal itself would see us move our four first-round picks and $200K in exchange for the 1st Overall Pick. So just who would we end up drafting...?

https://i.imgur.com/wW2mGZK.png?1


Tab Ramirez - 20, AMC - with the first overall pick in the 2035 MLS SuperDraft we selected twenty year-old attacking midfielder Tab Ramirez, formerly of the New York Red Bulls Under-23 side. A Generation Adidas player, Tab has bags of pace and a good footballing brain. His technical ability is still very raw but he has all the potential to become a star in this league and is exactly the type of player I'm looking to add to the squad. Opting to pick him over a defensive-mid, the signing of Ramirez sees the squad reshape with our existing attacking-midfielders being shipped out.

Transfer Window Dealings


I've come to notice that MLS has a lot of opportunities to sign players and reshape your squad. By this stage in the Off-Season we had already been through a Re-Entry Draft and the SuperDraft, but now we also had a Transfer Window to compete with. Thankfully the squad had already taken some shape, but there were two more additions, one that I'd been after for a while, that joined the side.

https://i.imgur.com/d10W6Ta.png?1


Derek Gray - 29, GK - with Frietas leaving we were in need of a back-up 'keeper that could challenge Perez. More so, with the Frietas deal freeing up and international slot I wasn't restricted regarding who I could sign. I decided to search through all active players with an active Relegation Release Clause and Derek was a player towards the top of the list. £17.5K was enough to get the Scottish international to hop over the Pond and I'm excited to add him to the squad. At best, Derek can displace Perez as our Number 1, at worst he provides great depth.

https://i.imgur.com/SB1U8TT.png?1


Bo Christoffersen - 26, AMC - I said at the end of the season that we needed a huge Designated Player addition in order to shake up the squad. My eye had been on Bo last season with a view to bringing him in and due to this our two attacking midfielders from last year were shipped on. This almost proved to be a horrible decision as I couldn't agree on a contract with Bo's agent throughout the summer but eventually I got my man! For just over £3million we've secured a league-leading attacking midfielder who has all the necessary attributes to be a star for us. So far he's not been able to settle and producer but I'm sure once he does the goals will be flowing. The only downside to this deal is a Minimum Fee Release Clause of £6million which we couldn't remove but if Bo impresses this season I'll offer him a new deal and try to remove this.

March Waiver Draft


And the final opportunity to pick players up comes in the form of the March Waiver Draft. Between December's Draft and this one, teams have to further decide which players they want to keep going into the season and which they need to keep. The quality of this draft is much higher than the previous one, with a number of players being made available that could easily start for most teams. With this said, two players were picked up to provide depth.

https://i.imgur.com/xcrGn63.png?1


Morgan Herrin - 26, DC - the first player we drafted was ex-Swansea and Wales international Morgan Herrin. Morgan has spent the last few seasons in New York and the biggest reason I signed him was due to the fact that the gap between our starting central defenders and our backups was too large. Morgan comes in to fill this gap as the nailed on third choice in this position.

https://i.imgur.com/qPEapr4.png?1


Adam O'Brien - 31, AMR/AML - experienced winger O'Brien was the final addition as we looked for back up on the wings. Adam's ability to play further up the wings or sit in a more reserved position were the biggest factor in his signing, but ability wise he should be good for a year or so still. Coming off the bench he has all the attributes to make contributions when he plays.

https://i.imgur.com/TyJCzTJ.png?1


A Month in Review


A wealth of new signings in the Off-Season led us into the start of a new campaign, with myself being optimistic of our chances of being a better team this year - Playoffs in mind.

https://i.imgur.com/oLWDRUu.png?1


And so competitive football returned in the month of March.

We kicked off the season away to LAFC who are a dangerous outfit. With players still jelling we create few chances of high quality, although we did manage to stay strong at the back and keep a clean sheet, something of a rarity last year.

This was followed up with an away trip to Portland to face a Timbers side fresh from wining their opening game. A partnership of Muller and Sargent saw a handful of chances come their way, although none were converted. Another solid defensive showing earnt us a point.

Days later and we had to travel far again to face a Houston who are top-heavy. Despite their weak defence we couldn't break them down, perhaps as players were still getting used to each other's runs and tendencies. But when you fail to punish an opponent with as much quality going forward as Houston there is always consequences, as two second-half goals finally saw us concede.

A few tactical tweaks and player changes preceded a home visit of Vancouver just two days later, and three points were gained by the end of this one after a great display in the second half saw us score three before the visitors scored a late consolation goal.

A narrow one-nil win in LA saw us build some good momentum at the end of the month, before we picked up a single point away against the Crew.

https://i.imgur.com/JvFrzz9.png?1


Our fortunes then seem to be on the up. With the side playing much better and looking so much more competent we currently sit in the Playoffs just a month into the campaign. I don't see any reason why we can't keep this up and once Christoffersen clicks with those around him there's nothing to say that we can't do better!

In Other News


https://i.imgur.com/TqYQ9s2.png?1


January saw me pick up the Argentinian Premier Division Manager of the Year at the end of the calendar year due to my efforts at River.

Next Update


Mid-Season Review!
End of Regular Season 2034


So, with the end of the MLS Regular Season coming to an end, I've got one big take away that we're going to delve into. We are bad. Very bad, in fact. Admittedly, fingers must be pointed at the manager, but I'm also going to point the finger at previous management! We'll look at the squad later, but the previous regime left the club with two serviceable defenders whilst relying on a number of ageing players, but more on this later.

MLS


https://i.imgur.com/oVgwSh2.png?1


Like I said, we're bad. A 5-1 thumping on my first game away to Minnesota showed me what I was letting myself in for and we'd have to wait until our fourth game to get our first win, but it was an empathic one at that when we welcomed LAFC to Chicago.

This was followed by a run of form in which we'd win one, the lose one, win one, then lose one again. And I have to say, the manner of some of the defeats was shocking. Too many times we'd be in the game only to concede one or more goals in quick succession and we'll talk about the goalkeeping in due time, but oh my god the goalkeeping...

Eventually things began to look up for us, going a whole month unbeaten and managing to win two games back-to-back, but we'd then lose each of the last four games of the season all by a margin of a sole goal - so close yet oh so far away. Some of the defeats should have been draws, whilst others were deserved batterings.

https://i.imgur.com/v0kwiDd.png?1


So this puts us in the Top 10 Worst sides in the league on the back of the last season, which could help our SuperDraft chances, but I'd like to not rely on this as a means of turning around our fortunes. We knew we wouldn't be a Playoff team this year, although we did miss out by a single place, but for us to get into the Playoffs, and in turn the NACL, we're going to have to have a sizeable turnaround.

Squad Review


https://i.imgur.com/CPB3JmH.png?1


15 players. 15 players are on the chopping board but realistically not all will leave.

Perhaps I'm being harsh on both Perez and Frietas, but they can both leave. Some of the goals they've conceded I've not seen anything like them in my career in management so far. Time and time again a shot would come at them and time and time again they would flap the ball into the back of the net. A 'keeper with a pair of hands on the end of their wrists would be nice - yet somehow Perez was shortlisted for Goalkeeper of the Year?!

Luciano and Overgard remain the club's only good, fit defenders. An awful decision by previous management to not solidify this area.

The midfield I do rate, I think. Rocha and summer signing Garcia are serviceable at this level whilst Reyes is a serious player in MLS too, and a full Columbia international now too. Chris Adams enjoyed a breakthrough season, contributing to a number of goals which is always nice to see from an academy product.

Muller perhaps gets the nod for me ahead of Sargent, who can leave if a good-enough offer is received for the Designated Player, but I wouldn't be against keeping the pair of them.

A majority of the squad is free to leave. A reshape of our International Players is needed and with one free Designated Player slot I'll be looking for one star to come in. On a downside, a majority of the players I'd happily move on are American, meaning we'll need to replace them with their fellow countrymen in order to meet squad registration rules - so it'll be a case of who's good out of the available bunch.

Wish me luck, I've got the biggest rebuild so far on my hands here...

Next Update


Start of the Regular Seasons 2035
@bigmattb28 thank you, its certainly been a good journey so far! The next step has been taken and we're not heading to South Africa yet, although the Chiefs/Pirates duopoly looks to be coming to an end!

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Back to the States!


Having left River Plate a few months a go, there was certainly no shortage of jobs going in World football and with a World Cup on the horizon there's no doubt that more jobs would have been free if I had just waited. In the end I interviewed for jobs in South Africa, Mexico and the USA, with the latter being the position I've decided to take up. But where have I decided to call home for now...?

Welcome to the Windy City


https://i.imgur.com/Q8sAqfx.jpg


Yes that's right, Chicago is the next stop on this journey as we head 9,000km north to touch down in a city rife with famous and successful sports teams. In MLB we have the Cubs, in the NFL we have the Bears and in the NBA we have the Bulls, all teams with a history of success and well respected in their own domains, but in terms of football, or soccer as the natives call it, the Fire are yet to really feel the same levels of success.

https://i.imgur.com/8unNsVk.png?1


Having been tipped to be a nailed on Playoff side, we currently sit 7th in the Eastern Conference after fourteen games with an even record (6-2-6) despite having won three of the last five. Clearly then the board and ownership feel the club deserves better and its looking like it'll be my job to bring the Fire into the conversation with Chicago's other great sports teams.

https://i.imgur.com/jykzWLT.png?1


Time to meet the Players


https://i.imgur.com/7tIYOAp.png?1


On paper the squad has its clear weaknesses and strengths. In goal we've got a leading MLS player in Perez whilst our back-up 'keeper is more than well equipped to play at this level too. The defence has two quality players for this level in centre-back Luciano and left-back Overgard although beyond this there's little to no quality at the back. Young academy defender Steve Jones seems a real prospect and will be shifted to right-back for now. Our midfield seems competent without being amazing. Senior member of the squad Rocha will play at the base of the midfield with two ahead of him in the shape of Reilly and Mondragon whilst the wide midfield options will be assessed. Upfront and veteran striker Josh Sargent is still quality at the age of thirty-four and will lead the line.

My plans for the squad going forward will be to cull the ageing players such as Wellisson, Alssnati and Sargent. Whilst this may seem foolish considering the latter is one of our star players, my aim is to get older, declining players off of the books and aim to use the SuperDraft and our academy to being through the next generation of Fire players. A review of the team's Designated Players will be done over the season to assess who is going to stay or be moved on.

What's the Plan?


I'm in no real rush here for the time being. Signing a two-year deal means the board will want to see some signs of progression under my leadership but this will by no means be a quick stint like River was. Barring a run of form that would see us win all of our remaining games it looks unlikely that we'll qualify for the NACL this year so I'm using what time is left this season to assess the squad and prepare for the off-season. Best case scenario is that we qualify for the NACL next season and try our best to win it the season after.

Either way, I'm looking forward to seeing how my time in MLS goes and to gain experience in another sporting culture.

https://i.imgur.com/LAFS1hN.jpg


Next Update


We'll probably be back half-way between now and the end of the season, although if anything major happens we'll be back sooner!
End of Season 2033/34


Having won the Copa Libertadores last time out, I opted to stay with River Plate until the end of the domestic season. This would let new storylines unfold across world football as well as offering me a chance to win more silverware and help me make up ground in the Hall of Fame before moving onto the next step of the Pentagon Challenge.

Argentine Premier Division


https://i.imgur.com/ZoceQhE.png?1


We followed up our Copa Libertadores win in November with emphatic and professional wins against Racing Club, Gimnasia and Godoy Cruz. At full strength for these matches we looked in full control and no match for any side in the division, picking up nine points from nine and starting us off on an impressive league run.

A sole match in December before the Winter Break saw us rotate a fatigued sided against Lanus, and our strength in depth showed as we ran out one-nil winners to end an impressive calendar year under my reign.

After the Winter Break we had a hectic January, which surely contradicts the purpose of a break(?!), as we gained seven points from nine due to wins over Huracan and Arsenal de Sarandi, but a five minute lapse in concentration saw Banfield expose us defensively and gain a point at El Monumental.

It was around the beginning of February that our progress across multiple fronts would start to come back to haunt us, but nonetheless this would act as a challenge of our credentials. A low scoring draw against Independiente (the first of two games against them this month) set us to win all three points against Argentinos Juniors after a short break. Independiente then travelled to our place for the final of our league match-ups and this time we beat them three-one. A goalless draw and two-nil win against Velez and Sarmiento would round out the month and see us extend our unbeaten run.

If I was beginning to feel the pressure from a congested fixture list before, I was certainly sweating come the end of March, a month in which we played eight games, a game roughly every three days from our first fixture of the month!!! With a handful of games in hand and injuries starting to creep up on us (both Vega and Munro had been side-lined, with the former out for the rest of the season) this was not the ideal time then to play a host of teams that sat above us in the league. At the time of playing them, Tigre, Newell's, Boca and San Lorenzo sat 4th, 3rd, 1st and 2nd respectively and we had seven days to play all four of them! Tigre were brushed aside two-nil, the perfect start to the run in, before we failed to win in the next three games, losing ground on the title. We made up for our faltering form with four wins from four to end the month.

Going into April and due to having played our games in hand, all the power was in our hands after we picked up twelve points at the end of last month. A win against Estudiantes would have sealed the title with a game to spare but a draw kept the narrative running. The title was all to play for then as first placed River Plate faced off against second placed Boca Juniors; of course it would come down to the wire between Argentina's two top sides. Four minutes into the tie and a storming run from Caceres saw the Paraguayan into the box before unselfishly passing the ball across to an unmarked Benjamin Garre who slotted into the empty net from just yards out. After this we set up shop, put everything behind the ball and would go on to win the title due to last day drama!

https://i.imgur.com/3Opgtjb.png?1


Confirmation then that after thirty-eight games we sat atop the league as deserved Champions! But how exactly did we do it...?

Defence


https://i.imgur.com/umDWp9O.png?1

https://i.imgur.com/RxDW8e5.png?1


Despite my highlighting our defence as our weak link upon taking over, I'm pleasantly surprised to see that we ended the campaign with the most water-tight defence, and therefore the most cleansheets too. I feel like Lasalandra and Bhar really grew into their partnership at the back, whilst having two league-leading fullbacks either side of them provided excellent cover should opponents attack down the wings.

Midfield


https://i.imgur.com/39INjhA.png?1

https://i.imgur.com/S5veIkY.png?1

https://i.imgur.com/KKcKo3S.png?1


I mentioned that our midfield might have been one of our biggest assets when we last spoke, but our overall quality and numbers in the middle of the park was crucial to getting the side to play how I wanted them too. It was the aim to dominate the ball in games and pass our opponents to death and with players like Munro, Vega and Bravo in the team we had real quality on-ball players to help us accomplish this.

Attack


https://i.imgur.com/jg1XHJW.png?1


And lastly, whilst we may not have scored the most goals, we were a constant threat to our opponents goal, which may be in part to the midfield generating good shot numbers, but also due to having the league's Top Goalscorer and star attacker Larrosa in the side.

Recopa


https://i.imgur.com/zOe7aj2.png?1


Winning the Copa Libertadores qualified us for the Recopa against Velez, who struggled domestically this campaign. The Recopa is essentially the South American equivalent of the European Super Cup and is played over two legs in February. Unsurprisingly we won both legs and the tie five-nil on aggregate to secure another piece of South American silver during this leg of the journey.

Supercopa Argentina


https://i.imgur.com/LG0eeWK.png?1


I assume that, due to the previous manager's success, we qualified for the Supercopa and would play Independiente at the Rosario Community Stadium in February. An early Benjamin Garre goal gave us the lead before our opponents equalised through Sala. Mauro Ponce would restore our lead with a low strike from outside of the box. Things went from bad-to-worse for Independiente as goalscorer Victor Sala would receive his second yellow card of the game. Minutes later Larrosa would head in our third and seal our win.

Club World Championships


https://i.imgur.com/lxguyfe.png?1


December saw us head off-continent for the Club World Championships, a tournament I'm particularly fond of. Our first match would see us beat African champions Wydad Casablanca by two goals, seeing us into a Final against world super-club Manchester City. I fully expected the European side to batter us three or four goals to nil but after ninety minutes we found ourselves still even. As Extra Time went on I became more an more optimistic about pulling off an upset, but in classic Manchester City fashion, our opponents scored a late winner with the last kick of the game through world-class midfielder, and former Juventus man, Federico Olivera.

And with all of this said and done...


https://i.imgur.com/MIUr2D7.png?1


I find myself the pinnacle of English managers (somehow) having now won titles in Denmark, Sweden, Italy, the US and now Argentina, which of course leads onto the next topic...

https://i.imgur.com/MKFrDrJ.png?1


Its time to say goodbye to River Plate and goodbye to South America. With two of the five legs of the Pentagon now completed we cast our eyes to either Africa, Asia or North America. Admittedly, we took the easiest route to South American success and I doubt the next chapters will be as short as this. At present, there are no vacancies in Asia, nor are there any in North America, although a host of top Mexican clubs have insecure managers. There is one particularly tempting opportunity in South Africa, though I imagine this would be the hardest step to complete and would take three or four seasons. We'll see... until next time!

Next Update


New Job!
So, after a looooong time away from Football Manager seeing friends, working and playing more FIFA than one person should in their spare time, I'm back. Back to the journey and back to trying to make this the best career possible, let's see what's been happening since my last update way back at the beginning of the summer.

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19th November 2033


24' - a long ball over the top is headed back to the Racing Club goalkeeper who fails to control the ball before passing it out straight to Nicolas Ceijas, and the second-choice River striker had no difficulty in hammering the ball into the back of the net to give his side the lead.

35' - a good spell of build up play and inter-passing around the edge of the box finds Paraguayan attacking-midfielder Caceres put through on goal and he dispatched his shot into the bottom corner. Two up and coasting.

90' - The final whistle blows and River Plate win the game by two goals to nil after a dominant performance.

https://i.imgur.com/8tx8m6C.png?1


But this wasn't any ordinary game. This was the moment I'd been waiting for since the start of this new chapter...

https://i.imgur.com/HnjM0hh.png?1


And to go along with this...

https://i.imgur.com/qhcaXiG.png?1


*Record scratch, freeze frame*

Yep, that's me. A Copa Libertadores winners medal sits next to the UEFA Champions League winners medal in the cabinet, but how did I get here? What's been happening since I left Juventus and took some time away from the game?

Welcome to Club Altetico River Plate


From Denmark to Argentina, making stops in Sweden, Italy and the States to get here. Having left Juventus at the end of the last season my aim was to head off-continent and begin a new challenge, this time to win the biggest continental club competitions the game has to offer. Taking the summer off to recharge my managerial batteries, I was offered positions in China, South Africa and multiple offers in South America; where I ended up moving to.

In the end, the choice was between Boca Juniors or River Plate. I won't beat around the bush either, the aim is to complete the Pentagon Challenge as quickly as possible before starting the next challenge and so deciding to take the River job was realistically a no-brainer. The club are the reigning league champions and had previously won the Copa Libertadores two seasons prior - suggesting they are one of the premier sides on the continent.

An 11,000 km journey from Turin to Buenos Aires saw me arrive in Argentina in mid-September in time for the new season. From the Allianz to El Monumental... not bad from temporary digs, eh?

https://i.imgur.com/kL47chZ.jpg


Squad and Tactics


On the transfer front there wasn't a lot of time to get any permanent transfers before the window closed, meaning that nobody was bought in during the window. Once the window closed I did however bring in two free transfers and one loan signing (who we'll cover soon). Martensson and Roald had just been released by Serie A sides and came in as squad players, whilst Bravo was somehow on the loan list and came in from Queretaro to become an instant starter. Starting left-back Lucero was sold to PSG before my arrival but fore the money offered I can understand why.

https://i.imgur.com/tbayymh.png?1

With little time to shape a squad and very few good options available for free, it was very much a case of working what I was given. The team has two stand-out full-backs but there is a complete drop off in quality at centre-back. We're blessed with one amazing central-midfielder and a host of star attacking-midfielders makes up for a lack in quality wingers. Upfront we're fortunate enough to have one good striker at this level and a serviceable back up in the form of Ceijas too.

Putting all this together resulted in me settling on a 4-2-3-1 Narrow variant in order to get our best players playing on the pitch at the same time. Our aim is to pack the middle of the park and play short, precise passes, using our full-backs as our only source of width. With the quality in the side the aim would always be to outplay our opponents and take our time before crafting a handful of high quality chances.

https://i.imgur.com/ygZmtlI.png?1


Meet the Players


https://i.imgur.com/ZIvNCRy.png?1


Alexis Vazquez - 26, DR - similar to when I loaded in the USA to manage their national team, loading in the Argentine league has generated a few players in the domestic league good enough to play for the national side, and we're lucky enough to have one in our side! One of the best full-backs in the World, I'd have taken him at Juventus, Alexis can go up and down the pitch all day and is blessed with good technical ability and an eye for a pass too! Standing at six-foot tall he rarely gets beaten in the air and on the ground too. The cornerstone of our back-line!

https://i.imgur.com/JIQiPRA.png?1


Steven Munro - 26, MC - an energetic, all-rounder in the middle of the park who has great attributes in the areas he needs them. Steven is the lynchpin the centre of the park and is vital in moving the ball from the defence to the attackers. A hard-worker in the midfield and not shy of trying his luck, he really is an influential member of the side.

https://i.imgur.com/Lz3fbcK.png?1


Carlos Bravo - 29, AMC - signed on a season-long loan from Queretaro, Carlos came straight into the side and made himself a key player in our team, locking down the shadow-striker role in our side. A quick, technical player who can beat most players in the league for pace and skill, I can't quite believe he was allowed to leave on loan.

https://i.imgur.com/ngFtPei.png?1


Gino Vega - 26, AMC - Mr River Plate and a player I had my eye on in my first few seasons in Italy, Gino is the heartbeat of our attack, creating chances and being pivotal in our build-up play. Having picked up an injury earlier in the season, our attack looked dysfunctional and the goals dried up without him in the side, but since he's come back we've looked a real force. His deal was due to expire but I've broken the club's wage structure to keep him in the side (at a time when I was doubting our chances on the continent). His influence on the side can't be understated.

https://i.imgur.com/yO4A2UK.png?1


Sebastian Larrosa - 28, ST - the main-man in our attack and drawing interest from Europe, Sebastian has found domestic goals hard to come by in the absence of Vega, but his form in the Copa Libertadores fired us into the Final. Hopefully he'll be able to kick on and fire us to a title.

The Story so Far


https://i.imgur.com/TfFfUAn.png?1


There's a lot of games to play in South America and as a result we've been very busy already!

We got off to winning ways in July with an easy win over Union (SF).

August saw us play a total of seven games, picking up thirteen points in the league although failing to beat Atletico Tucuman and Huracan was poor. A second-leg dram away to SEP saw us progress in the Copa Libertadores due to away goals, with the first leg having been played during the previous regime.

September was much of the same. Decent league form saw us gain another seven points but again we looked shaky against sides we should be beating, seeing us drop points away to Banfield and home to Velez. Emphatic victories against CEC saw us progress into the Copa Libertadores Semi Final.

October saw Vega's injury start to affect our play. A game touted as a nailed on win turned out to be a close one-nil victory away to Sarmiento as we failed to create chances against their poor defence. If we struggled in this one then we never turned up to play Tigre as they took all three points from us and we created nothing in front of our home fans. I was surprised to see us put three past San Lorenzo in our next game as we bounced back to winning ways. Boca Juniors would be our Copa Libertadores opponents and on his return from injury, Gino Vega ran the show and laid on chance after chance. Thankfully we took one and ran out one-nil winners. Three more league points followed after Union's visit to Buenos Aires.

This takes us to November which started with the second-leg tie away to Boca. The game could have really gone either way, with both teams fully fit and creating opportunities seemingly at will, but luck would appear to have been on our side as Boca missed some good chances whilst we caught them out on the break a few times to see us into the Final. A respectable nil-nil against a Rosario side who are doing well this season isn't an awful result, though its not a great one either. And with all of this said and done we're all caught up, the next game was the Copa Libertadores Final at the Maracanã which as you know by now, we won!

What's Next


The plan was never to stay here for long. The aim was to win the Copa Libertadores, with River Plate or another side, as soon as possible before moving onto the next club. With no interesting jobs going at the minute the plan is to see out the Argentinian league season before assessing what opportunities there are in North America, Asia and Africa and hopefully win some more silverware along the way.

Apologies for the delay in update and the rambling nature of this one, I'm hoping to be posting more regularly again now. As always, thanks for following!

Next Update

End of Season!
End of Season 2032/33


Last time we touched base things looked much the same as previous years, with us sitting top of the table and making progress as expected in Europe. Would we be able to maintain our form for the rest of the season, or would we find ourselves empty-handed?

Serie A


https://i.imgur.com/MeefsUH.png?1


We started the New Year in poor form, back-to-back losses in the league for what feels like the first time in a few seasons as Fiorentina shocked us away, whilst we failed to turn up against A.C. Milan a few days later. We returned to winning ways with a narrow win against former employers SPAL, but make no mistake, we were poor. Benevento rounded out the month and we took all three points, yet failed to look impressive yet again.

All signs of poor play were gone by the end of February though, as we managed to find the back of the net twelve times in four games, hitting four past both Udinese and Palermo. Championship-winning form.

March would see us pick up another shock defeat, this time away to Pescara as a heavily-rotated side failed to test the hosts, suggesting our squad depth isn't as good as I thought it was. Nine days later and we looked in full control as Cittadella were brushed aside in a two-nil win.

Genoa, Sassuolo and Cagliari were in the calendar for April's league games and we kept the title challenge alive with nine points gained from these three matches, the highlight being a five-nil win over Cagliari.

The title run-in heated up in May as we had six games to play, but with a comfortable lead on second-place, it would take a serious collapse for us to not win our fourth straight Serie A title. A narrow win against Lazio set us up to win the title as early as our next game against Atalanta, and we duly obliged with a three-nil win. With the title secured I promoted our most exciting youth players into the first-team for the remaining games as there was nothing left to play for and the next generation impressed by picking up two wins from four.

https://i.imgur.com/rtJpoVn.png?1


Having played all thirty-eight of our league games this is how the table looked. With the title decided as well as the teams doomed for relegation already decided, all that is left to play for is final league positions, but, with all this said and done...

https://i.imgur.com/fayP8sz.png?1


I have decided that my time with Juventus has run its course. The plan was originally to let my contract run down and leave on a free at the end of next season but I feel as if I've taken this team as far as I can and that new management and new ideas will be best for the squad. This was the worst season in terms of on the pitch performances and sure. We still bossed the league and won by a fair margin, but performances have been poor, suggesting that the problem lies within the squad rather than the quality of our opposition increasing. I could have changed up the approach, but I think the players will benefit from a new regime. I've got no regrets about leaving, I've won it all here; Serie As, Coppa Italias; Suppercoppas and a sole Champions League and Club World Cup. All of this and I'm still only 'Favoured Personnel'.

Coppa Italia


https://i.imgur.com/QCZHZ2e.png?1


Talking about poor performances this year, we managed to win the Coppa Italia again despite not playing well at all.

Narrow, perhaps underserved one-nil wins against Palermo and A.C. Milan in January set us up for a two-legged tie against Inter Milan and we could only beat them by a goal in each game during February, putting us through to the Final against Cagliari.

April's Final saw us lift the trophy, but only just. A fully-fit first-eleven couldn't see of Cagliari over two-hours of football, leaving it to the lottery of a penalty shoot-out in which Gasparini became the hero, saving two penalties.

Suppercoppa Italia


https://i.imgur.com/zr3HpsM.png?1


This year's Suppercoppa pitted us against Udinese in a game that I was more than confident that we could win. But, after full-time and extra-time, we had failed to test the Udinese defence or show any credentials as to why we were in the tie in the first place. Some poor penalties from us would see our opponents lift the trophy. Again, we were poor.

UEFA Champions League


https://i.imgur.com/b9ewGpW.png?1


Our good performances in the Group Stage set us up to play Newcastle, who would eventually go on to win the Premier League.

February's first-leg would see us look dominant for the most part, before conceding a late equaliser away at St. James'. A vital away goal though would see us have the advantage at the Allianz.

We welcomed the Tynesiders to Turin in March and the tie was a complete reverse of the first-leg. Newcastle came at us from the off and looked dangerous on every attack, but two decisive breakaways would see us through to the Quarter Finals.

Manchester City would be our opponents in April and of course it would always be Manchester City, as long as they're in the competition it feels like you'll always be drawn against them. But we've beaten them over two legs before, although we had a lot of luck on our side, but if we've done it once we could do it again. We looked like the better side in the first-leg, but Merino couldn't apply the finishing touch on any of his four clear-cut chances and a later sucker-punch would see us trailing in the second-leg. City were different class in their own backyard and despite us scoring early, the Citizens would turn it on to see us crash out of the competition. Gutted.

What's Next?


I've got an idea already in mind for the next job, the next challenge so to speak. Having already now started from nothing and made my way to the top and won a UEFA Champions League the World is my oyster. Having managed the USA a few seasons ago now, the journey left Europe and expanded to the whole World, and this is exactly where I'm taking the career, make of that what you will.

Next Update


New Job and Season Progress!
So, after a busy month with work, travelling, having friends visit and moving back to the UK, we're finally back with a long overdue update!

Unfortunately a majority of the games were played at the beginning of the month so I can't remember too much about what's happened so I'll keep things short and sweet for this update.

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January 2033


Serie A


https://i.imgur.com/gxU1jMH.png?1


Things in the league are looking better than ever at first glance. Only one loss and three draws in total so far and a look at our scorelines suggests that we might be more dominant than ever. The amount of games where we score three or more games has increased, whilst we haven't conceded a league goal since the end of October.

My thoughts about this in general are that the semi-rebuild we had over the summer looks to be paying off. After losing Olivera to Manchester City we went out and spent over one hundred million on two new centre-mids whilst also improving in attacking midfield greatly. This has massively improved our chance creation, which can explain our increased output up top. At the back, the emergence of Rodriguez at the back has justified the sale of Gasperini in the summer and he's gone on to become the perfect partner to White, making our already outstanding defence even better.

https://i.imgur.com/8jJFieI.png?1


And of course this means that we sit at the top of the table going into the New Year with seven points between us and second placed Napoli, who themselves are putting together a good season. The likelihood is that we'll be able to maintain this form into the second half of the season, giving us a very good chance at retaining the title for another season.

[center]UEFA Champions League
[/center]

https://i.imgur.com/bRk7Z13.png?1


A group consisting of us, Marseille, Atletico Madrid (again!!!) and Shakhtar on paper looked tougher than it was. We finished our Group Stage campaign having scored fourteen goals in six games and only letting in three goals in this time shows how tough the group really was.

This sets us up for a tie against a Newcastle side that our under new mega-money ownership and that are consistently challenging for the Premier League title, so we'll be in for a much harder test than we usually face. I've no idea what to expect from the tie as I've never had to play Newcastle but I have kept an eye on their progress since the takeover and they do have some very good players.

Coppa Italia


https://i.imgur.com/nghSeFw.png?1


Our Coppa Italia campaign gets underway in a few days time against a Palermo side that are sitting just outside of the Serie A relegation zone by virtue of having played a game more than Sampdoria, meaning our place in the next round should be all but guaranteed, but nothing is ever a guarantee in football so we'll have to treat the game like any other.

Supercoppa Italia


https://i.imgur.com/6UkMWew.png?1


This year's Supercoppa has us match up against Udinese as we look to secure our first piece of silverware of the season and having played Udinese plenty of times over the last few years I know they have a bit about them so we'll have to put in a good performance if we want to raise the trophy come the end of the match.

World Team of the Year


https://i.imgur.com/alZUMmc.png?1


And in other news this year's Team of the Year sees two of our players make it into the Starting XI as Gasparini is finally recognised as the best Goalkeeper in the World after keeping thirty-three Clean Sheets in fifty-two gams, and Iban Ibero, who has been sensational since he signed, makes it into the side alongside the man he was brought in to replace.

On another note its good to see three former players make the side in the form of Cojocaru, who we managed for a brief time with Hammarby, Olivera, who left on bad terms this summer, and Leite, who if I'm being honest didn't exactly have a year worthy of being in the side. Also two former transfer targets, Barrado and Golik, made the side so remember the names because I may well be back in for them at some point.

European Golden Boy


https://i.imgur.com/oLaarUz.png?1


And lastly, youngster Ladislav Kmet won the European Golden Boy award whilst out on loan with Porto. Admittedly, a majority of his goals have come in the Taca de Portugal, but the twenty year-old's loan deal certainly seems to be doing him a world of good.

Next Update


End of Season 2033!
Running well in the league, let’s hope it continues!
Fingers crossed @HockeyBhoy and its always nice to lift the cup @Dan!

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Pre-Season 2032


Ok, so when I said we would potentially have a very busy summer on our hands, I don't think I could have predicted just how busy we were. For the sake of full-disclosure, I was actually close to resigning over the summer due to both the task in front of me, and due to stress of what's to come!

Transfers


https://i.imgur.com/CSYkHMv.png?1


Feast your eyes! £236million spent and £210million received tells you just how busy this window was, but when the window slammed shut I felt happy with the business I'd done.

As always, lets go over the notable outs first:

Federico Olivera finally got his dream move to Manchester City for £83million. In all honesty he is worth so much more than that, he's the best player in his position in the World and to lose him was a big hit. However, he'd been unhappy at the club for the best part of eighteen months despite all we'd achieved in that time. This deal shaped our summer but more on that later.

Kaysan Pirbhai left to head back to England in a deal worth £50million. He was close to leaving last summer so the writing was on the wall for some time. Unlike the Olivera deal, this was one deal that was entirely my decision and was the result of a much better player coming in. He was a good, reliable servant and I wish him all the best.

Antonio Gasperini made his to Roma in a deal totalling £46million after complaining that he needed a new challenge. He'd fallen down the pecking order in the last season and a half, so to get his £325K per week off the wage bill for such a large fee was a big plus.

A quick look at the other sales shows that a few deadwood players were shipped on, whilst a whole host were loaned out again - notably El Hadji Camara, Sinisa Brodic and Ladislav Kmet as they weren't developing as I'd like them to and hopefully a year away will do them a world of good for the development.

Now let's turn our attention to the players joining us this year and as per usual there were some players signed for the first-team and a whole bunch signed for the future too.

First-Team Players


https://i.imgur.com/3HVTbnH.png?1


Joris Desmet - 29, MC, £80million from Bayer Leverkusen - with Olivera leaving the club, we badly needed a world-class calibre midfield option and Joris fits the bill almost perfectly. Quick and physically gifted with all the technical stats to boot in both defending and attacking areas. Regardless of the Olivera sale, I was always going to be looking for a new midfielder to take us to the next level and I'm confident that Joris will help us do just that.

https://i.imgur.com/DXJIEYU.png?1


Iban Ibero - 27, MC, £65million from Barcelona - like I said, midfield was a priority area for me this summer. I realised at the back-end of last season that we needed two world-class midfielders and stopped relying on a developing youngster. Iban was actually close to joining us a few years before he joined Barcelona but at the time we weren't the side we are now. Alongside Desmet he'll be the more advanced player and with him pulling the strings from deep I'm very excited to see how our new look midfield performs this year.

https://i.imgur.com/ydhahod.png?1


Kleo Kadiu - 22, AMC, £65million (Rising to £79million) from Atalanta - when I was looking at getting rid of Pirbhai last summer, Kleo was the replacement I had lined up, but when neither deal went through I made sure to keep an invested interest in his development. Around January I saw Liverpool sniffing around him and I knew I'd have to go all-in to get him this summer. A deal was wrapped up shortly after the season ended and Pirbhai was made surplus to requirements. Ability-wise and he's an upgrade in every single area: pace, technical ability, vision; the works. With Pirbhai's sale offsetting most of the outlay, this is a big boost to us.

https://i.imgur.com/uqQmDIm.png?1


Ferran - 24, AMR, Free Transfer from Barcelona - Twenty-four years-old, uncapped, ex-La Masia, free transfer, team-friendly wages and now worth £66million. I feel like this could be the steal of the summer. Signed to play second-fiddle to Ilie rather than using Soli on the wing (who, with the loan departures of Brodic and Kmet, is now primarily a back-up striker than a back-up utility man), Ferran's raw pace and strength could make him a handful down the right. Admittedly he doesn't have too much else going for him, but my staff rate him and that's good enough for me.

https://i.imgur.com/kIZNasN.png?1


Maninho - 18, MC, £12.5million from SAN - this is a deal that was agreed upon before the player turned eighteen and I have to admit I had to jog my memory to remember who Maninho was. At first I wasn't sure where he'd fit in this season, with Desmet and Ibero the clear first-choice, Melegoni behind them and Martinez building on a solid breakout season, it seems Maninho will stay with the first-team this year as a back-up. His potential is tipped to be among the best in the club and if he fulfils this he could become a superb all-round midfielder. What's more, it seems we've got a knack for stumbling across good young talents in Brazil who hold a second passport, because like Jonata, Maninho holds a European passport due to his German heritage (whilst Jonata owes a lot to his Spanish ancestry).

Youngsters


https://i.imgur.com/3cdNb88.png?1


Krunoslav Monjac - 16, DC, £2million from VfL Bochum

https://i.imgur.com/9M4mTnO.png?1


Bruno Varela - 16, ST, £375K from Teleoptik

https://i.imgur.com/c9Th7Fc.png?1


Martin van Wijk - 18, AMC, £4million from Groningen - Loaned out to FC Utrecht

https://i.imgur.com/Ip5qthe.png?1


Giovanni Pivetta - 17, AMR, £3million from Atalanta - Loaned out to Frosinone

https://i.imgur.com/eBQuOWy.png?1


Alejandro Gimenez - 19, MC, £2million from PAOK - signed at a time when I went a bit crazy about signing a centre-mid and if it weren't for Maninho giving me five options then he'd maybe get some game time for the first team, but a year in Serie B won't do him any harm I'm sure.

https://i.imgur.com/ovYMxfK.png?1


Alessio Marchisio - 18, AMC, £2million from Cagliari - Loaned out to Cremonese - there was also a time this summer when I went crazy for signing Italian talent. Marchisio and Pivetta are two of these players that join us now. Marchisio looks to have a bright future ahead of him, but I couldn't justify making him third-choice after Gultekin.

https://i.imgur.com/SrM1Lky.png?1


Fernando Koniver - 18, ST, Free Transfer from OCSC Academy

Pre-Season Results


https://i.imgur.com/t4j6Y1f.png?1


Not a great deal to write home about if I'm perfectly honest. A narrow loss to Bayern with neither side fielding their best sides, before a brief, but successful tour of the States saw us beat Chicago and Montreal Impact, its always nice to see new parts of the World.

Plans


Upgrading the centre of the park, as well as behind the striker has given us one of the best looking midfields in the league, if not Europe potentially. More so, with Agnesina and Rodriguez developing well at the back, we're now exceptional across the board. Our depth has increased this summer as we now have one back-up per position at the minimum.

I'd expect us now to do a clean sweep domestically, with our best efforts now focused solely on the Champions League.

What's more is that I've made the decision to leave once my contract runs out. If I remember correctly, my deal expires at the end of NEXT season so for now I can't signal anything to the board, but once I enter the final twelve months I'll make my intentions known. In the meanwhile, I want to win the Champions League one more time with Juventus.

I've already decided on my next step, but until then let's kick back and enjoy Juventus whilst we're here!

Next Update


January 2033!

Edit - I'm heading to Granada this weekend so there'll be a delay with the next update!

«This comment has been edited»
End of Season 2032


When we last touched base we found ourselves trailing in the league but having just won the Club World Cup. Our aim was to win as much silverware as possible this season, so lets take a look at how we did.

Serie A


https://i.imgur.com/smPAK9E.png?1


Before the turn of the year we were doing well in the league but there was a lot of room for improvement, especially in the goal-scoring department. A quick glance at our results will show just how much of an improvement we had in the new year.

In January we lay down the gauntlet to our title challengers, winning all three of our games, scoring eight and conceding none. Merino carried on his superb form, making up for the time he spent misfiring at the beginning of the season.

Our form carried on into February, seeing us pick up three fairly routine wins over Genoa, Sassuolo and Benevento, although with other competitions being played at this time a rotated side struggled to draw away to Cittadella.

I expected a much more competitive game against Napoli at the start of March, with this game on paper being the one that could have ended our great form. But the Naples side didn't turn up and we coasted to a five-nil win. Bottom-half strugglers SPAL provided stiffer competition days later but we brushed them aside to claim all three points. Three more followed via Palermo before the month was closed with a home draw against Cagliari.

Heading into April we had moved into first place in the league but we needed a good result away to A.C. Milan in order to make our lives much more comfortable. A narrow one-nil followed. We scored ten goals in our next three games against Udinese, Empoli and Lecce but these are all results you'd expect from us.

Another trip to Milan saw us return with a point from Inter, before a crazy period of five games in fifteen days. Routine wins against Brescia and Torino set us up for an away game against Roma where a win would have sealed the title, however a total non-performance on our point saw us fail to lift the trophy. A three-nil win at Atalanta would see us lift the title a match early, allowing me to field our most exciting youngsters against Fiorentina.

https://i.imgur.com/9qTxa9R.png?1


UEFA Champions League


https://i.imgur.com/sOXxXab.png?1


Qualifying as the top seed from Group G set us up for a tie against Real Madrid, and we'd have to be good over both legs if we wanted to progress.

A one-nil loss in Madrid in February wasn't ideal, but it wasn't the end of the world either. Both teams were evenly matched and to lose by a single goal meant we weren't out of the tie yet.

The rematch in March would thankfully give us home advantage, but the opposing goalkeeper played the game of his life to keep us from getting back into the game.

A tough loss to take, but my focus for next season is solely on the Champions League.

Coppa Italia


https://i.imgur.com/siFdNNo.png?1


When the New Year rolled by we had already secured our place in the Coppa Italia Semi-Final against Napoli.

Both legs were played in February and we took a commanding two-nil win going into the second leg. With the job essentially done we locked down the Napoli attack and made our way into the Final.

May's Final would pit us against Udinese in a match that we were heavily favourites for. Just before half-time Udinese took the lead after Pizzo misjudged a searching long-ball, allowing his man to get a free shot away in the box. Late in the second half we switched up to a 4-3-3 with Merino, Soli and Kmet leading the line and with so much attacking presence, Merino was able to poke the ball home with the Udinese defence unsure who to pick up. Federico Olivera would pick up two yellows before the End of 90 Minutes, meaning we'd head into extra-time with ten-men. With time ticking away a late Merino header gave us the lead and would see us lift the trophy!

Suppercoppa Italia


https://i.imgur.com/F5O37iW.png?1


The first piece of silverware in the calendar year would see us play Roma but we might as well have not showed up for the game at all. Poor at the back, unable to create chances or win the ball back in the middle and an inability to test the Roma goal; poor. Lets move on from that.

Squad Review


https://i.imgur.com/rUfElq2.png?1


A quick look at the player stats gives a little indication of how our season really played out.

Gasparini had his best season in goal, keeping a mammoth twenty-five cleansheets in the league alone. Although this was helped by Greg White having the best season of his career next to Lucas Rodriguez, who was able to displace Antonio Gasperini.

Olivera had a fantastic season in the middle of the park once again, and stay peeled for news about his future. Luis Martinez enjoyed a breakthrough season in midfield, cementing himself as our second choice. Ilie continued to produce sensational numbers, with his goal return diminishing this year he notched a personal best for assists instead.

Merino made up for his slow start to the season, eventually hitting nineteen league goals whilst Soli (who I've now learnt should be a starter on any other team) filled in superbly when needed.

Now lets talk about the future of this team...

Gasperini is the second highest earner at the club, drawing a massive £325K per week salary off of the bench. I can't justify this wage considering he's no longer a starter and with his value still high I'll likely look to move him on this summer.

Federico Olivera is a player I've got a lot of love for, but its becoming increasingly clear that he wants out. Just days after we won the Club World Cup he complained about a lack of trophies, I told him to wait until the end of the season and he agreed. Meanwhile I tried to negotiate a new deal for him to remove his Release Clause, because he wouldn't have signed for us without one and wouldn't negotiate last season as he was fairly new. Having won the league and cup after all of this he said he was happy at the club. Perfect, now I'll offer him a new deal. or at least I would, but with Manchester City now interested and tipped to trigger his Release Clause, Olivera doesn't want to negotiate as he'd prefer to head to England. Fingers crossed City's bid won't see them land him, and fingers crossed I can get a new deal for him secured if he stays!

Kaysan Pirbhai is also among the players who I think have played their last match for the club. The same problem with him remains, he's good and on a cheap, team-friendly contract but there are better players out there who can offer us more in the same area. If I can cash in on him then any fee will be a profit given he signed for free. I want to make the squad as good as possible for next year's Champions League push and although I could keep him and sign another attacking-midfielder, I'd rather have one excellent player in this position than two good ones (and Mustafa Gultekin as a younger option).

Lastly, Nicola Soli will be entering the last twelve months of his £40K per week contract and I suspect he'll be wanting a much larger salary to stay at the club. He knows he could be a starter anywhere else and this could be used to his advantage in negotiations. There is a real chance that if his demands are too much he could well be heading for the exit too.

That means there is at least one good quality player in each area of the squad that could well leave this summer, meaning we could be in for a busy window if things don't go to plan.

Under-23s


https://i.imgur.com/9TZ8gw0.png?1


I realised during the season that for as many youngsters as I've signed during my time with Juventus, I've not once stopped to shed some light on how the under-23s are doing.

Most of the time, when a young player joins us they head into the under-23s until they turn seventeen, at which point they are usually loaned out to gain first-team experience. Last season our crop of youngsters were playing in Serie B for the under-23s but were relegated. This season, playing in Serie C they've had a good time of it by all accounts.

The plan is to see the club back in Serie B and if players DO NOT get offered loan deals, or if the teams coming in for them are of a LESSER STANDARD TO SERIE B then from now they will stay with the under-23s and try to make survive Serie B. Ideally, the aim would be to have the best team in Serie A, with the best team in Serie B too as a place for our youth to develop.

Looking at the players too and those highlighted made their first-team debuts this season. Voryllas, who had an outstanding season for the under-23s played occasionally, as too did Bogado. Korsanin, Bech and Adolfo made their debuts on the last day of the season, Calliaud was part of the side that won the Club World Cup whilst Hubert and Qasmi played a handful of times, the former even scored a hat-trick in a Serie A game from the wing!!! The future certainly looks bright!

Other News


https://i.imgur.com/kunuupw.png?1


I was voted this year's Manager of the Year, only the second time this has happened since I joined Juventus.

https://i.imgur.com/vXUFL1i.png?1


And these were our award winners. No real surprises in the Team of the Season, although perhaps this suggests that Melegoni should be our second choice.

Greg White was the apparent runaway leader for Player of the Season, and young defender Martijn Simons was our signing of the season after he joined for free from Herenveen.

Next Update


Pre-Season 2032!
@Dan - thanks mate, thought a ramble was long over-due! Fair play if you read the whole thing too!

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January 2032


Last season feels like it was a long, long time ago, but having now won domestic and continental competitions all eyes would be on us this season to see if we could retain our titles this season. So with that said, how've we done?

Serie A


https://i.imgur.com/7LwpoHd.png?1


August started much in the same way as it usually does, with us picking up three points although this time it was away to Sassuolo. We made it six from six a week later with a good, but far from impressive win against Sampdoria. Our poor showing in that game would be a precursor for what was to come against Empoli, where we threw away a two-goal lead in a matter of minutes.

Clearly we had a lot of rust to shake off, but we fell to our first defeat of the season early in September when Cagliari put three past us, looking like they were the side aiming to defend a title. A narrow win away to Genoa followed before a routine win against Cittadella rounded out the month. You'll notice that we aren't scoring freely, but more on that later.

Just as we looked to be building some momentum we struggled to draw to SPAL at the Allianz Arena. With Napoli and Inter to come in October we really should be winning these games. A comfortable away win to Benevento saw us look like our former selves and it couldn't have come at a better time considering out next few games. Napoli were up next and this was a game in which both goalkeepers shone, doing well to keep their sides in the tie. Days later we hosted Inter Milan, with a neat Ilie finish giving us all three points; although there was a delay in celebration due to a bizarre VAR call.

https://i.imgur.com/XAFutYV.png?1


(The throw-in leading to Ilie's goal. The ball was thrown straight to him (where is standing), but check the VAR!

Having looked impressive in recent weeks, would we be able to sustain this heading into November? The answer to that would be no, as we failed to beat a poor Palermo side. A huge game against A.C. Milan was to come and one very important conversation was had before the game. Javier Merino had only scored one league goal until now. I told him it wasn't good enough and that if he wanted to stay in the side he'd need to do something positive. Two goals and an assist sparked an emphatic shock win. Clearly the promise of being dropped lit a match under Merino as he followed this with two more goals against Udinese to inspire us to a win.

With wins against both Milan sides, we'd managed to gain some lost ground on the league heading into December. Another six-pointer in the title race kicked the month off and it was settled by a powerful Merino finish. Unbeaten in ten and finally up and running, its only natural that we would lose against Lecce - let's not even talk about that one. Brescia and Fiorentina would end the calendar year, but before we talk about the results, please look at the dates. TWO GAMES IN TWO DAYS. Due to Club World Cup commitments we had no rest in between our league games, but thankfully our squad is deep enough and some players natural fitness is good enough to see us pick up six points in two days.

https://i.imgur.com/sfh6uok.png?1


Coppa Italia


https://i.imgur.com/lZczGQ4.png?1


Having failed to make an impact in the Coppa Italia in the last two seasons, I was eager to go further this year despite the board not caring too much about the competition. By the end of December we'd managed to seal our place in the Semi Final after a late double-salvo against Lazio and a one-nil win against Atalanta courtesy of a Greg White penalty.

UEFA Champions League


https://i.imgur.com/UD4Zu0z.png?1


I'd love to win the Champions League again this season, but we all know how hard of a task that can be. When we were drawn into Group G alongside Legia, RB Salzburg and Atletico Madrid (again!!!) we seemed to have an easier route to the Knockout Round than most.

In September we travelled to Poland to play Legia and I was surprised by the home side's ability to limit us to a single goal. We then hosted RB Salzburg and failed to carve any chances - although this was when Merino seemingly forgot how to score.

We made the familiar trip to Madrid in October and returned home with a point but it should have been so much more. Atletico were sent down to nine men and we failed to take advantage of this - with the hosts scoring a last-minute free-kick.

A two-nil win in November's return fixture put that to bed though. Legia came to Italy later in the month and we easily beat them to secure our place in the next round.

December saw the conclusion of the Group Stage as we beat Salzburg three-nil; seeing us go through in first place.

Of all the possible sides we could have met, we perhaps find ourselves in the trickiest tie. Real Madrid will be our next European opponents across February and March and if we want to lift the trophy at the end of the year we'll have to play at our best.

Club World Cup


https://i.imgur.com/SbAWNve.png?1


December saw us travel to play in the Club World Cup, which is a tournament I personally have a lot of time for. Wits were our first opponents and our second-string side picked up an impressive five-nil win, sending us into the Final. North American Champions Atlanta United would be the opposition, and our full-strength side ran out as two-nil winners when all was said and done.

Delighted to win another new competition, but the European team in this competition are always the heavy favourites to win.

European Super Cup


Champions League glory set us up for a pre-season fixture against the Europa League winners to see who is the best side in Europe. Manchester United were our opponents... but it wouldn't be the Manchester United that won the Europa League, nor would it be the Juventus side that won the Champions League. The reason for this? Let's look...

https://i.imgur.com/ZfKTOxH.png?1


Look at the pure state of this. Whoever scheduled this game needs to be sacked immediately. We had ten (10!!!) players away on International Duty!!!. And so did United!!!

https://i.imgur.com/biZ9XIu.png?1


This was the solution to this. Every player who was available, fit and in the first-team had to play, regardless of their familiarity with the role or even with the position. This means that eight players had to be called up from the youth ranks to fill the bench. Thankfully Manchester United were in the same position but it begs the question: who organised this game? Who decided to have International Friendlies on the same day? From a neutral stand-point, who would want to see the two reigning European sides play massively weakened sides? The mind boggles.

https://i.imgur.com/TSNJsJR.png?1


The game would always be about which side's available players would last longer. Both teams lacked quality and had to give debuts to youngsters, but it would be one of our youngsters that would give us the edge! On off the bench, young winger Rene Caillaud really changed the game on the right-wing, creating chances and grabbing an assist to see us lift some early silverware!


Supercoppa Italia


https://i.imgur.com/D9FopVe.png?1


Annnnnd finally, we're due to play AS Roma in the Supercoppa Italia in two weeks time. Hopefully we'll be able to come away with a win as we look to do a domestic treble this year.

Next Update


End of Season 2032!

«This comment has been edited»
Thank you @HockeyBhoy, you've started well at Edinburgh so I'm sure you'll be flying past me in no time!

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Squad Review 2031


Having been in charge of Juventus for a few season now and overseeing wholesale changes in this time, I realised that I've not once given a full run-down of the squad, my thoughts on the players or even provided a name to most of the faces. I don't see myself leaving Juventus for at least a season or two more, so let's get familiar with the players in my squad going into the new season.

Goalkeepers


https://i.imgur.com/i2jL349.png?2


Manuel Gasparini - 29 - one of the first signings I made here at Juventus, Manuel has gone on to become not just one of the league's best goalkeepers, but maybe even one of the top goalkeepers in the world; though I guess this could be bias. Despite keeping thirty-five cleansheets during his time here, and putting in multiple Man of the Match performances, he has only just been recognised internationally. His contract is due to run out at the end of next season and I'll be renewing it before then. Still yet to hit his peak in my eyes, I know I can trust him between the sticks.

https://i.imgur.com/0UsYhC5.png?1


Ezio Gilardi - 26 - during my first half-season Ezio was my first-choice goalkeeper as there were no other good options at the time. Since then he's developed into a solid second-choice and is rated by the coaching team as a good player for most Serie A sides. He gets his fair share of game time in cup competitions and he doesn't moan about not playing. An academy graduate too so its nice to keep him around.

Right Back


https://i.imgur.com/KTTogWv.png?1


Emanuel Pizzo - 26 - coming into his third season at the club, Emanuel has been outstanding since he signed from Palermo. His influence at his former club was so great that the season we signed him they got relegated. Injuries kept him out for the best part of half a season in his debut campaign but since then he hasn't looked back. Quick and physically gifted, this is matched by his good defensive abilities and a willingness to get forward that more often than not sees him collect a few assists over the course of a season.

https://i.imgur.com/0iiCwau.png?1


Karl Theng - 19 - perhaps one of my favourite players in the squad, Karl could well be our first-choice if it wasn't for Pizzo. Signed as a sixteen year-old from AIK, Karl spent some time with the under-23s before spending a year with Verona that really aided his development. Last season he linked up with the first-team and filled in whenever Pizzo was injured or suspended, and even made the starting spot his for a short time despite Pizzo being available. Every once in a while a team sniffs around Pizzo and honestly I wouldn't be against selling him if the money was right because I know Karl could slot in as a good, maybe even leading player for Serie A clubs already.

Centre-Backs

https://i.imgur.com/j3j4Kmp.png?1


Greg White - 30 - I'd have killed for a player like Greg when I was in charge of the USA, but thankfully I've got him here at Juventus. Not blessed with an abundance of pace, nor is he exceptionally gifted in the air, Greg's ability with the ball at his feet is what makes him stand-out and so vital to the way we play. Whoever plays next to him knows that if they can win the ball back, all they have to do is pass it to Greg and let him distribute the ball. He's another player that has reached one hundred appearances for me and is in line for a new contract too. One of the first names on the team-sheet.

https://i.imgur.com/y9UrJQX.png?1


Antonio Gasperini - 28 - I've got mixed thoughts about Gasperini and I'll let you know why. On paper he leaves a bit to be desired. He's a good defender, but not a great one which is why he's only been capped a handful of times despite now winning Serie A and the Champions League. This would suggest that he isn't as good as his accolades would suggest; maybe he's over-rated due to playing in a better team. But, his ratings suggest he plays above his level. He may well be one of those players that just performs so much better than he should, but maybe because he doesn't get asked to do too much he's able to coast? Maybe any other player could do just as well if not better? In his late twenties now I've got one burning question: Should I sell him whilst his value is high, get rid of his contract (the second biggest at the club)and put my faith in an equally good youngster? Help me out here!

https://i.imgur.com/PS1va9h.png?1


Lucas Rodriguez - 20 - now if Gasperini were to go, this would be his ready-made replacement. Younger, taller and maybe even a tad better at current, Lucas will one day be first-choice, but is this time now? He's on a much more club-friendly contract and qualifies as a home-grown player now, having signed from Penarol in January 2028 and spending time out on loan in Italy since. In the handful of games he played last season Lucas was good, but not amazing, though this may be due to his age. By the end of the year he may well be a starter for us.

https://i.imgur.com/dshtJRC.png?1


Martijn Simons - 19 - signed on a free this season from Heerenveen, the temptation was to loan Martijn out but having looked at him I'm confident he can do a job for us this season as a fourth-choice, stepping in when there are injuries, suspensions or other fitness issues.

Left-Back


https://i.imgur.com/NTlnzjP.png?1


Giampiero Agnesina - 19 - my absolute favourite player in the squad by far. Towards the end of my first full-season in charge I spotted Giampiero in the youth team and thought he had enough about him to come up to the first-team for the end of the season. Since then he's become my first-choice left-back when he was seventeen, gone on to play sixty-five league games, win all there is to win in Italy, a Champions League AND receive his first Italy cap. If he can work on his leadership then he'll be a future club captain. The fact that he's still got so much room to develop makes me very excited to see the player he will become. I could spend all day talking about my love for Agnesina, but there are other players to look at!

https://i.imgur.com/kzKDHwe.png?1


Jonata - 19 - another young left-back but nowhere near Agnesina in my eyes. Jonata played a handful of games last season and definitely left a lot to be desired defensively, but was surprisingly good going forward. Perhaps inexperienced, having only played nine games in his native Brazil beforehand, I'm hoping he'll be more solid this year.

Centre-Midfield


https://i.imgur.com/OZHWXCg.png?2


Federico Olivera - 22 - the main man, the undisputed best midfielder in the world, Olivera was good when he joined last year but has developed thttps://i.imgur.com/HZNtBtT.png?1o become even better. He can really do it all. Capable of winning the ball back, dribbling past players and then picking out his team-mates or scoring himself all in one move, Federico is like having three midfielders rolled into one he's that good. The likes of PSG and Manchester United have bid for him this summer and I've no intention of letting him go. Just look at him, there's not much else I can say.

https://i.imgur.com/3QVvTRb.png?1


El Hadji Camara - 19 - coming off the back of his first season as a starter, I'd have hoped for El Hadji to have developed a little bit more than he did. At nineteen he's still got time on his hands to fulfil his potential, but considering he's been in the first-team since he signed at sixteen I'd have hoped for his game to be a bit more fleshed out by now. At current, he doesn't excel at anything, although his game has no obvious flaws. He's not as highly rated as some of our other options in this position, but he gets the nod due to what he could become.

https://i.imgur.com/HZNtBtT.png?1


Filippo Melegoni - 32 - with Olivera and Camara both very young, it is important to me that we have some more experienced heads capable of giving something to the first-team. Melegoni is one such option and now in his second year as a permanent signing but fourth at the club he knows how we play and the players around him. He could and probably should be a starter for me but I like the idea of having good quality players available on the bench.

https://i.imgur.com/8omgAnx.png?3


Gedson Fernandes - 32 - a very similar case to Melegoni though a new signing, Gedson looks more than capable of stepping in and doing a job when called upon. The versatility doesn't hurt either.

https://i.imgur.com/hunqS5i.png?1


Rosario Santagata - 22 - if I'm not honest I'm not sure why Rosario still makes the squad-list. Sure he could grow a little bit more but he won't ever be at the level needed to make an impact to the first-team. Homegrown and cheap so that's a plus.

Wingers


https://i.imgur.com/BFU49sm.png?1


Cristinel Cocis - 24 - Cristinel was one of the signings I made during my first summer in charge of Juventus. Since he joined he's been nothing short of sensational and has contributed to over fifteen goals each Serie A campaign. Absolutely phenomenal numbers. I think that he might over-perform slightly, his passing and vision aren't brilliant and his finishing could do with some work too, but the numbers don't lie. He's recently signed a new four-year deal, removing a Minimum Release Clause and seeing off Atletico Madrid's interest.

https://i.imgur.com/uHVTBdi.png?1


Robert Ilie - 26 - with Cocis on one wing and Ilie on the other we've got two of the best players to come out of Romania in recent years. Much like his compatriot, Ilie has been able to notch between fifteen to twenty goal contributions in each season since he joined; sensational stuff really. Another player to recently agree to new terms, I think he may just edge Cocis in terms of ability. They remind me a lot of Robben and Ribery when they were in their primes - high praise indeed. Recently appointed captain too.

https://i.imgur.com/oJ34gZZ.png?1


Jorge Demarco - 22 - Jorge was picked up a couple of seasons ago after he was released by Danubio and I decided to take a punt on him. Since then he's been loaned out to Genoa twice and spent some time with the under-23s, meaning that he now qualifies as a home-grown player. This summer I rejected bids in and around the £20million mark from Bayern Munich for him, prompting me to move him into the first-team as a back up for Cocis and Ilie. I'm excited to see what he can offer this year.

Attacking Midfielders


https://i.imgur.com/Y4vI59W.png?2


Kaysan Pirbhai - 27 - I was caught between wanting to sell Kaysan this summer or keeping him around in hopes that he returns to his best following his lower leg break. He was set to join Everton in a deal worth over £50million but rejected the contract laid out by the Toffees, seems fair as he's an ex-Liverpool player. He's certainly a good player, but he's not the elite-level attacking-midfielder we need to link the midfield and attack. If he gets back to his best I'll be more than happy to keep him around, but I'll be keeping my eye on his performances this year.

https://i.imgur.com/08NKVAw.png?1


Mustafa Gultekin - 18 - Pirbhai's injury let Mustafa gain a lot more first-team exposure and by the looks of things its done him well. For some reason though I've got my reservations about him and whether or not he'll reach his potential, but at eighteen there's every chance he'll prove me wrong. A broken foot will rule him out until around the New Year, so I hope he doesn't drop off too much.

Strikers


https://i.imgur.com/dXQMDpx.png?1


Javier Merino - 24 - our primary goal-scorer, the player that other coaches try to stop, our most expensive signing. Javier's debut season was one of two halves truly. In the first half he looked off-pace, not up to scratch and far from a £100+million player. The second half of the season saw him bag goals left, right and centre in all variety of manners, eventually seeing us to domestic and European success. Twenty-two goals in thirty-six games is a great return considering this. Fingers crossed he can hit the ground running this season.

https://i.imgur.com/qkhTWPN.png?1


Nicola Soli - 25 - as far as back-up strikers go, Nicola might be one of the best going. Fast, strong, good on the ball and an eye for goal to boot, it has only been the arrival of Merino that has pushed Soli to the bench. Since he signed a few years ago he's been short of a goal every three games, which isn't horrendous, but it wouldn't have seen us win so much last season. He's on a very team-friendly deal too.

https://i.imgur.com/ZfCkX2S.png?1


Sinisa Brodic - 20 - I think Sinisa was the first signing I made at Juventus, if not he was certainly the first youngster I signed. Since then he's spent time with the under-23s and has bounced around Europe on loan. Now a full Croatia international he looks a much better player than he did a year ago and will be getting a shot in the first-team this year as a third-choice striker. I get the feeling he'll be good in the box but won't offer too much from outside of the box. Hopefully he can prove me wrong. I think he might qualify as home-grown now too.

https://i.imgur.com/zC42z8B.png?2


Ladislav Kent - 19 - a new signing but what a player he is and could be nonetheless. He's very similar to Merino in terms of strengths and weaknesses which can only bode well. For now he'll be a fourth choice as Brodic has earnt his spot whilst out on loan, but I really feel like he could become our second choice by the end of the year; big claims.

Next Update


Hopefully this provides a bit more insight into the squad and my thoughts on some of the players!

January 2032!
@Dan firstly, welcome back! Secondly, thank you for taking the time to catch up! There's been some ups and downs like you said but I feel like we're back on track now!

@bigmattb28 I appreciate the support mate, fingers crossed we can push on!

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Pre-Season 2031


Another Pre-Season comes and goes and again we only played a handful of matches, most of which we won, all of which I forgot to screenshot! What I can tell you is that we played A.C. Milan (again) and the MLS All-Stars as our standout opponents and we came out winners in all of our games.

Transfers


Having won back-to-back Serie As and now the Champions League I felt that there wasn't a great deal of work to be done this summer, but nonetheless let's take a look!

https://i.imgur.com/EAtLtf0.png?1


Looking at the Outs and a few things must be said. We loaned out a lot of youngsters as my policy of snapping up young talent and developing them continues, whilst some youngsters who sadly won't make the grade here left for small fees, although some do have buy-back clauses. Zivkovic left on a free to Dynamo Kyiv and in all honesty we should have let him go a year earlier. van de Beek also left on a free to Feyenoord, though not shown on screen, and the same can be said for him. Zamfir left for a slightly smaller fee than I'd have liked but we've got his ready-made replacement at the club already. The last outgoing transfer worth noting was Fran Beltran heading to Celta Vigo for £22million. Not getting any younger and on the decline I think this represents a good value deal.

In terms of Ins and there are only three players who will be in and around the first-team this year:

https://i.imgur.com/dshtJRC.png?1


Martijn Simons - 19, DC, Free Transfer from sc Heerenveen - I've had my eye on Martijn for a few years now and when I noticed that he was letting his contract with Heerenveen run down, I knew I had to act fast to snap him up. Having played over fifty games despite being only nineteen this is an indicator of the potential he has. A good all-rounder with plenty of room to grow, he'll be in the first-team squad this year.

https://i.imgur.com/8omgAnx.png?3


Gedson Fernandes - 32, MC Free Transfer from Real Madrid - with Beltran leaving, we needed to sign an experienced player capable of being a back-up option. Gedson fits the bill perfectly. At thirty-two he's played over three-hundred games for Real Madrid and still has a lot to offer. On a much cheaper deal too, this looks to be a smart signing.

https://i.imgur.com/zC42z8B.png?2


Ladislav Kmet - 19, ST, £5million from Braga - with Merino, Soli and now Brodic returning from loan our attacking options for this year were already looking deep when Ladislav was signed but I couldn't turn down the chance to sign him. I had no idea who he was until my scouts recommended him and pointed out his £5million Release Clause. With a whole host of teams sniffing around him I knew I had to get him in. He could become better than Merino and he's already got a lot of similarities to our key man!

And then as we do every year, we signed a whole host of youngsters as we definitely cast an eye on the future. Let's cast an eye on them!

https://i.imgur.com/0aqeUC1.png?1


Nuno Lima - 19, ST, Free Transfer from Leiria

https://i.imgur.com/Sr3GciP.png?1


Jean-Louis Hubert - 16, ML, £3.4million from Bordeaux

https://i.imgur.com/6LsW2Ag.png?1


Ben Medina - 18, AML, Free Transfer from RSL Academy - Loaned out to Alessandra

https://i.imgur.com/IGaDwWd.png?1


Davide Cuoco - 18, AMC, Free Transfer from NYRB Academy - Loaned out to Pordenone

https://i.imgur.com/ZPKMyvh.png?1


Gaetan Hamel - 16, ST, £1million from SM Caen

https://i.imgur.com/nnxs5rD.png?2


David Fotheringham - 18, DL, £325K from Hearts - Loaned out to Benevento

https://i.imgur.com/IaZSvFt.png?2


Maung Maung Maldini - 16, ST, £1.3million from Hadjuk - let's be honest, I wouldn't have signed him if it wasn't for his name!

https://i.imgur.com/VMpOVPI.png?1


Goran Kosanin - 16, AMC, £575K from Radnicki

https://i.imgur.com/AhbasPx.png?1


Miodrag Sarenac - 16, AMC, £220K from Radnicki

https://i.imgur.com/6WZj3a8.png?1


Rilind Gashi - 16, DC, £700K from Lausanne

https://i.imgur.com/4hnMkJe.png?1


Dimitris Voryllas - 16, ST, £3.7million from PAOK

Next Update


In-Depth Squad Review
Cracking start to the season mate, keep it going!
End of Season 2031


Halfway into the season and things had been going well for us, although there was definitely room for us to improve in attacking areas. Reshaping the attack through the signing of Javier Merino was proving to be tougher than I initially thought and he would often go through games without as much as a sniff of the ball. The burden therefore fell onto the shoulders of the surrounding players, a recipe for disaster surely?

Serie A


https://i.imgur.com/0esBmZE.png?1


We entered the New Year in poor form, despite scorelines suggesting otherwise. January saw us host both Chievo and Lecce but in both games we struggled to perform like a side challenging for the title, whilst an away trip to Benevento saw us return with just a point when we were looking for all three.

Our poor run of performances carried over in to February. A poor performance against Genoa kicked off the month before we returned to winning ways with an impressive win over Napoli at home. On the back of a good result I was expecting a similar performance away to SPAL, but my former employers had the last laugh, thoroughly out playing us. Newly-promoted Cagliari hosted us to close out the month and the league's surprise package sent us home with a single point.

A good few days rest put us in a good position at the beginning of March as our revitalised side got the job done at home against Palermo. We'd been struggling to put goals past teams and keep cleansheets in recent weeks and it was looking like we'd ended this streak after thrashing Empoli, but a one-all draw against Sassuolo served as a reality check. A good win against Fiorentina could have been better, but I'm not going to complain about three points.

With only a handful of games remaining, we entered April top of the table, but draws and losses in previous months had opened up the title race and Inter were breathing down our necks. It was Inter's Milan rivals A.C. who represented the first challenge in the title run-in and we seemed to be cruising to a win before a red card opened the game up, a switch to a defensive 4-4-1 was enough to prevent A.C. from scoring again. A week later and another side pushing for European football were our opposition as Udinese came to play. The match itself was fairly even and tied at two-two with twenty minutes to go, but a late rally saw us take all three points. Confidence was running high and we expected to gain another three points against Atalanta but we were brushed aside as we had our worst performance all season. A routine win against Torino was sealed early in the first half.

As May came around the league was still very much all to play for. Losing to Atalanta let Inter move within three points and a late goal at the San Siro would see us and Inter go level, with Inter edging us on goal-difference with three games to play. Looking at the fixture lists for both sides and it looked like the title race would be coming down to the wire. A huge performance against Lazio put us top, but Inter picked up all three points yet again. A draw in Rome looked to be catastrophic for our title charge, but Inter dropped points too. It would all come down to the final game of the season. Inter sat top by virtue of a healthier goal-difference. We hosted an already relegated Pescara side whilst Inter faced another relegated side in Lazio. Interestingly, not all of the fixtures in Serie A are played at the same time and our five-nil demolition of Pescara put us in the driving seat. All eyes were on the Inter game later that evening...

https://i.imgur.com/TgQPlzM.png?1


Inter would go on to win three-nil, yet somehow we won the league! Both sides finished with an identical points total, goal difference and head-to-head record, with both sides beating each other one-nil. How we won the league I'm not too sure, although I'd be inclined to think we won because we scored more goals over the season? Those performances against Lazio and Pescara may well have won us the league!

Coppa Italia


https://i.imgur.com/TgQPlzM.png?1


For the second year in a row we crashed out of the Coppa Italia early doors. With both of our games being played in January we were out of the competition as soon as we were in it. A rotated side scrapped a penalty-shootout win against Lecce before Napoli knocked us out in a game that was sure to please the neutrals.

Supercoppa Italiana


https://i.imgur.com/fF7peae.png?1


January also saw us retain the Supercoppa Italiana in another game that I'm sure the neutrals would have enjoyed again, but one that we enjoyed more! We took a commanding lead against A.C. before letting them back into the game, but once we put our foot on the gas we made sure we would be picking up some early silverware this season.

UEFA Champions League


<div style=End of Season 2031
" />[/center]

Having qualified from a group containing Brondby, Porto and Atletico Madrid, we went into the next stage where we would face Olympiakos in what was billed as a favourable draw.

The first leg saw us travel to Greece in February and we came away with a two goal lead, although the hosts put up much more of a challenge than I had expected. In March we welcomed them for the return leg and after scoring early we coasted for much of the game, until Olympiakos scored early in the second half to put some pressure on, but we had enough about us to see us through.

If the draw for the last round had been favourable, then the draw for the Quarter Final couldn't have been tougher. Manchester City would be our opponents in April and we knew we would either have to play our of our skins or pray for a miracle if we stood any chance of beating a side who routinely buy the world's best players. City will have surely felt hard done by after the first leg as they saw two goals disallowed for very tight offsides whilst we offered nothing. The stage was set in Manchester for City to use their home advantage. Before half-time they had seen yet another goal chalked off for offside by just a few millimetres. We came out of the gates flying at the beginning of the second-half, with Merino and Ilie both finding a way past the City 'keeper, but three goals in nine minutes quickly put the hosts ahead on the night and reminded us just who we were playing. With everything to play for I had to go for it. We ended up playing a 4-1-3-2, with Olivera mopping up in midfield, Cocis, Ilie and Pirbhai (who wasn't even fully fit following a lower-leg break) and Merino and Soli up-top. With time ticking away I told the boys to push forward and to play more direct and when Cocis ran down the wing, Vagnoman slid the ball away from the Romanian's feet but into the path of substitute Soli, who buried a first-time shot into the top corner! A draw on the night would see us through and so we dropped to a much more defensive shape. Cocis and Ilie had to come into less advanced roles, Pirbhai came and sat next to Olivera in midfield, Merino sat just in front of them, leaving Soli as the only player in an attacking position. This was enough to cancel City out and send us into the Semi Finals!

Going into the draw and I had a feeling that we would be drawn against Atletico Madrid rather than Benfica or Barcelona. So of course we were drawn against the only side to have beaten us in this year's competition, a four-nil battering way back in the Group Stage. The first leg was to be played in April and we defended exceptionally before Javier Merino scored the game's only goal. The second leg was scheduled for May and the last time we played Atletico Madrid at home we beat them four-one. Whilst not a repeat performance of that night we did manage to scrape past the visitors, although they stayed with us every minute of the game. Truth be told I was grateful that the game wasn't as dramatic as Quarter Final tie against Manchester City. Into the Final we went!

As expected, Barcelona comfortably beat Benfica in the other Semi-Final, setting us up for the Final at the end of May. There was extra incentive for both sides too. A win for us would put Juventus back in the conversation of Europe's elite sides, whilst Barcelona would have loved to lift the Champions League at bitter rivals Real Madrid's soil. We lined up in our typical 4-2-3-1 with Gasparini/Pizzo-Gasperini-White-Agnesina/Camara-Olivera/Ilie-Pirbhai-Cocis/Merino. The game kicked off and Barcelona looked the better side for the first half, yet the scores remained even. We started the second-half off brightly with Cocis finding space in the box to curl home at the near-post. With sixty-five minutes played we found ourselves down to ten men after a two-footed challenge by Olivera saw him see red. A re-jig of the side saw Melegoni come on for Pirbhai and sit deeper, whilst Soli came onto the wing for Cocis who was struggling for fitness. The resulting free-kick was whipped into the box and headed clear for Merino to collect and dribble wide, with plenty of Barcelona bodies thrown forward, substitute Soli used his pace to break through the middle and latch on to a pass from Merino, taking the ball into the box and coolly finishing one-on-one. Yet again this season leading quality opposition and needing to hold our lead. Into a Strikerless 4-4-1 we dropped. Minutes later and Pedro Gomez grabbed one back as his back-post volley beat Gasparini. For twenty-five minutes we had our backs against the wall but when the full-time whistle rang the score stayed the same. Two-one to Juventus... Champions League winners!!!

https://i.imgur.com/LXmqKYP.png?1


Squad Review


https://i.imgur.com/akfq990.png?1


There is not much I can say about this squad that I haven't already in previous seasons. Instead what I'll do is address the changes in the squad this season and the plans for the coming summer.

Giampiero Agnesina has now established himself as our actual starting left-back and at only eighteen years old he's played over fifty Serie A games and is now a Champions League winner. He's got a huge future.

El Hadji Camara and Federico Olivera enjoyed a good debut season as our starting midfielders. Camara is still very raw and at nineteen will continue to develop. Having Olivera next to him will likely help this cause, as Olivera is capable of sweeping up any mistakes made by his partner. Olivera himself put up really good numbers this season, contributing to seventeen goals in thirty-eight appearances, justifying the fee paid for him and staking a claim for being the best midfielder in the world.

Ilie and Cocis continue to do amazing things from wide positions, although Ilie had a much better season that his compatriot this year. Between the two of them they've contributed to forty-six goals from wide positions. A huge injury derailed Pirbhai's season and Mustafa Gultekin benefitted from this greatly.

Javier Merino had a season of two halves. Until January I was seriously asking myself why I paid over a hundred-million for him, with his performances not justifying his price-tag let alone a place in the starting eleven. However, come the New Year and he completed his intensive language course and he didn't look back from there. Hat-tricks in the league, vital goals and performances not only in the league but in Europe too. Some of the goals he scored were absolutely phenomenal too and he looks every part of the player I hoped he would be. He and Olivera were signed to take us to the next level, and they've done just that!

In terms of the squad as a whole, there a players who I'll likely move on and some who I'd listen to offers for. Valiente, Zamfir, van de Beek and Zivkovic are prime candidates to leave. Valiente has been good but not great in his first full-season for Juventus, but there are better players out on loan who can come in and fill that spot. The same can be said for Zamfir, who hasn't progressed as I'd have liked him too and with some promising youngsters developing for us at other clubs I'd rather sell him now than demote him to a fifth choice. van de Beek and Zivkovic have been complaining about homesickness this year and with both well past their primes and eating up a combined salary of over £200K a week, its a no brainer to get rid of them for anything. Pirbhai and Beltran however are two different cases to the others. Pirbhai suffered a serious lower leg break this season and I've got my reservations about whether or not he'll be able to get back to his best. Valued at over £50million and eating up a non-EU slot, I'd happily listen to offers around this price but on the other hand he has three years left on a £65K a week contract which represents good value for money for a player of his quality. Beltran is a similar story. Not an awful player by any means, but he's on the way down now and earning over £100K a week perhaps its time to trust a younger player to fill the void? We'll see, but if I can get £20million or above for him then he'll likely be off.

Next Update


Pre-Season 2031 Review and In-Depth Squad Review!

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