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About this blog

All about my virtual experience as a football manager. sorry its on PC not Xbox 

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KPDub

2017/18 Season

Player and Staff movement aside, we headed off to America for a pre-season training camp and had three very low-key friendlies against Edmonton, Oklahoma City and Arizona  United, all won as you would expect.  Back on British soil, we had friendlies with Sheff Wed and Wigan, both drew as I experimented with the players and they got used to my formation and tactics.

Ideally we would have played better quality opponents and had more than 5 pre-season friendlies, but it was all arranged by the time I arrived so we made do, but to be honest looking at the performances, it was a blessing in disguise.

August 2017

A sluggish start to the month as we started the campaign with a 1-1 draw at home to Burnley, followed by a 2-2 draw at Swansea.   Our fortunes picked up considerably in the next game as we beat title favourites Man City 1-0 at home, but the league form didn't last long as we lost to Spurs at the end of the month 1-0.    Sturridge was in fine form with 3 goals in 4 games, but he couldn't find the net against Bradford in the league cup, as a B team scraped through on penalties after a goalless draw through extra time.

September 2017

With deadline day signing Morata on board and the players returning from an international break, a new attitude was obvious.    With Sturridge out injured, Morata was thrust straight into the first team, scoring the fourth on his debut as we beat QPR 4-1, although he sadly picked up a knock that would keep him out for a couple of games.   Our next two games were both won 3-1 against Derby and WBA respectively (the latter in the league cup) before we lost to Villa 2-1.   But we were straight back with another 3-1 win over Leicester the following week to close out quite a good month for us.

October 2017

A mixed month that saw two defeats (2-0 to Watford and 1-0 to Southampton in the cup) sandwiched between a 2-0 at home to Newcastle and away at Norwich

November 2017

Only three fixtures this month but a tough run, home to Stoke which we won 2-1, was followed by a trip to Old Trafford which was drawn 0-0, with United finishing the game with 10 men.   My bogey team at West Ham was next up as Arsenal came to town who also finished the game with 10 men as Marc Bartra was given his marching orders.  Alvaro Morata proving the match-winner with 5 minutes to go.

December 2017

The tough fixtures kept coming as we visited Chelsea to begin the month, with confidence high from the United and Arsenal performances, the lads put in a great effort and despite going 1 down to a Higuain goal, we fought back to earn a draw with Alberto Moreno the most unlikely of heroes.

My first Merseyside derby was up next as Everton came to Anfield, a hot-headed game which we came out on top by 3-0, the team were flying now and went on to win their next four games in December 2-0 against Southampton,  West Brom and Burnley and a 5-0 win at Palace on Boxing Day.

16 points out of 18 in December earned me my first Manager of the Month award at Anfield and had propelled us to the top of the table.

January 2018

With January came the transfer window.   No players were brought in and despite our blistering league form, Mamadou Sakho wanted to leave, which he did to Real Madrid for 18m, a small fee in the scheme of things, but he was making waves and like my actions in the summer, disruptive players were out of the door immediately.

Danny Ings was also a casualty, going to Watford for 5.25m, I wanted him to stay but he wanted guaranteed first-team football, he was third in the pecking order behind Morata and Sturridge and I didn't want to stand in his way.

Luckily the manager of the month curse didn't strike as we continued with two 3-0 home wins against Brighton and Swansea only to be beaten at home by Spurs (AGAIN!!) , the league form was back on track though winning our other two league games 2-0 at QPR and 3-1 at home to Derby which was strange as Henderson got a hat-trick.

Spurs were up in the FA Cup and after two league defeats to them, we got our revenge, dumping them out 6-1 at their place.

February 2018

We were looking like serious title contenders now.  One defeat in our last 16 games, we went through February winning all four games scoring 10 goals without reply as Villa, Leicester, Cardiff (FA Cup) and Newcastle were all beaten

March 2018

The month started well with a 5-2 win at home to Norwich and was followed by a 3-0 also at home to Watford.  The guys were really enjoying the attacking football I employed.  Morata being the example with 7 goals in his last 4 games.

Arrogance and a lack of concentration saw us dumped out of the FA Cup, conceding in the first minute of each half against United as they ran out 3-1 winners, but they were visitors to Anfield three days later and we still hadn't learned from the last game.  Kevin Volland put them ahead in the first minute, but we dug in and got back into the game with a goal from Bruno Fernandes (the only good thing to come from Mancini's reign) with Morata putting us in front on the stroke of halftime.    United finished with 10 men again as Schneiderlin was sent off in the second half, the game remained 2-1 to Liverpool.

A goalless draw away at Stoke followed by an emphatic 3-0 home win against Chelsea kept the title challenge alive as the main favourites were struggling to keep up with the pace we were setting, this was recognized as I picked up my second manager of the month award of the season

April and May 2018

It was a World Cup year and there was only one fixture in May.   Bloody Arsenal was up next and they spoiled our unbeaten run with a 1-0 win at the Emirates.    Luckily another Merseyside derby was up next, we were so close to our first title in 38 years, would the Arsenal game make heads drop?  Far from it, despite a hostile Goodison atmosphere we came out 5-1 winners to seal the title, made only sweeter by doing it at Goodison.

With the title won but still four games to go, you could have forgiven the lads for taking their foot off the pedal, but we won our remaining four games against Southampton, Man City, West Brom and Palace as we ran out title winners by 11 points.

I'd won another award for April to go with my Manager of the Season, but the players were getting awards too.  Jordan Henderson was named Footballer of the Year and included in the team of the year with Nathanial Clyne, Joel Matip, Alberto Moreno and Bruno Fernandes and the club was named Overachievers of the season

Morata led the goalscoring charts with 17 league goals, still not good enough to get striker of the season, which went to Giroud.

Liverpool Team of the Year

Morata

Coutinho                                      Firmino

Henderson    Fernandes

Mascherano

Moreno       Lovren - Matip         Clyne

Rulli

 

Season Overview - The Winners

  • Premier League - Liverpool
  • FA Cup - Stoke City
  • League Cup - Everton
  • Champs League - Leverkusen (beating United in the final)
  • Europa League - Tottenham
  • World Club Cup - Man City
  • European Super Cup - Napoli
  • World Cup - Italy
KPDub

 

Having been the surprise appointment (more than a few raised eyebrows by the media) I had some massive shoes to fill.    My predecessors, Jurgen Klopp and Roberto Mancini both lasted one season each as both finished in 8th and provided no silverware, you could imagine I am worried that I will only last one season myself at the most.

Sort out the staffing

Given the tat which had been signed in the previous two seasons, my main focus was to massively strengthen the scouting setup.    I approached three scouts from West Ham, who I had brought to the Hammers during my tenure and added a further three in the summer, whilst sacking two scouts in the process.

The coaching setup was also restructured with six new faces including Frank Ribery and Anti Niemi to coach technique and goalkeepers respectively.

Squad Overhaul

I was giving myself a goal of getting the squad I wanted within three seasons, but attention to the first team was required.  There was a healthy budget of 50m available for me to spend along with part of any money earned from players sales going to bolster that figure.   But there were initial complications...

Trouble Makers

There were two trouble causers in the squad already, both of who were causing ripples about my appointment within days.   No surprises this was Mario Balotelli and a Brazillian full back called Dodo, signed by Mancini the previous season.   Balotelli no doubt was allowed to stick around because of Mancini who had also bizarrely sold Benteke for 6.5m to Man City the previous season.

These two were moved on quickly, and I wasn't bothered how much I got for them.   Balotelli went to Swansea for 13m with Dodo going for 4.4m to Newcastle.

Oh No

The club was rocked by a request from Emre Can to leave, understandably wanting to play in the Champions League, I was hoping to build a team around him but could get a good price for him and I didn't want a player at the club who wasn't focused on the team.     PSG came in quickly, snapping him up for 40m.   

Others out of the door

Money was raised by the sales of;

  • Lazar Markovic (10m to Palermo)
  • Luis Alberto (5.25m to Bournemouth)
  • Adam Bogdan (2.5m to Middlesborough)
  • Martin Skrtel (1.3m to Real Sociedad)

were the main departures with;

  • Kevin Stewart (275k to Wolves)
  • Sergi Canos (250k to Frosinone)

a lot of the "promising youth players" being released as they were never going to make the first team, with those that had the potential being loaned out such as;

  • Pedro Chirivella to Charlton
  • Alan to Flamengo
  • Cristo Gonzalez to Eibar (see below)
  • Reece Oxford to Celtic (see below)
  • Tyler Roberts to Sunderland
  • Kyle Hardy to Southend  

It was worrying that Kyle Hardy was the only up and coming Scouser in the squad, a squad that lacked a scouse identity since Carragher and Gerrard.

New Faces

Sorry, not talking about the talent show (for those old enough to remember), Having raised nearly a further 75m, I had over 100m to spend on players.   I wasn't going to rush in though just to spend it in a scattergun approach, I was keen to get the right player for the positions that needed strengthening, regardless of the cost.

I had major reservations about the Goalkeeping spot.  Mignolet wasn't bad but not a number one.  Bogdan as earlier mentioned was sold, so as a minimum I needed someone to challenge Mignolet.   A year earlier I got Geronimo Rulli on a free from Real Sociedad, he was a cracking keeper and wanted to leave West Ham after their relegation.   22m was the price to tease him away from West Ham, a lot of money for a keeper, but he was a model professional, controlled his box well and rather influential.

My next two purchases were with the future in mind.   I returned to West Ham to pick up Reece Oxford, a potential star Centre Back in the making and at 10.75m for an 18-year-old could be seemed as a risk, he wasn't quite ready for our first team so he went on loan to Celtic for the season.   Cristo Gonzalez was the other hot prospect arrival, coming in from Real Sociedad for 2m, able to play anywhere up front or on the wing, Eibar took him on a season-long loan to play in their first team.

I rolled back the clock with the next signing, needing steel and winner in that defensive midfield role, I signed Javier Mascherano for 1.5m back from Barcelona, my plan to sit him front of the back four and kick anything that came his way.

Finally some firepower was required.   Sturridge, whilst a quality player was already injured when I joined, Ings was in and out with injuries as well so that left me with Divock Origi and Roberto Firmino.  I didn't see either as a striker and planned to use them wide in a front three along with Coutinho and Lallana (when they didn't play centre mid), so I was very surprised and delighted that Real Madrid didn't want Alvaro Morata and even more so that he agreed to join us.  41m was the fee, but worth every penny I thought.

77m spent and 77m raised meant I had barely spent any of my transfer budget, I was happy to retain this for anything required in January

KPDub

2016/17 Season

So the last time I left you we were preparing for pre-season.    A tour of South Africa was already arranged by the club and went successfully with all games won before returning home to win games against local teams.

August 16

Trouble was brewing though, approx 15m of the 30m I'd brought in from sales of players was suddenly removed from my transfer budget by the owners and this made some players unsettled as they felt the team couldn't' be strengthened.   

Despite a 2-0 win against Leeds in the League Cup, the form in the league wasn't good.  Draws with Norwich and Bournemouth along with a defeat by Watford got us off to a slow start, the discontent with lack of squad depth worsening as Obiang forced through a 13m move to PSG.    At least the board allowed me to keep this money to reinvest.

Deadline Day Deals

Quality was needed and panic buying pushed prices up.   Troy Deeney arrived for 10m from Watford along with Nacer Chadli for 11.75m from Spurs, but the deal of the day was to bring Lanzini in for 5m from Al-Jazira.  He had been on loan the previous season but I couldn't seal the deal.  Luckily no further players left and despite the panic the first 11 looked good.

September 16

With the players returning from an international break, fortunes changed with our first win of the season, Chadli scoring on his debut in the only goal of the game versus Southampton. but two league defeats to Swansea and United followed either side of a League Cup win against Blackburn

October 16

Chelsea were our first game of the month, ironically Fernando Torres chose this game to score his first goal for the club and despite Ogbonna being sent off in the closing minutes, we saw the game out.   But as last season, back down to earth with a bang as Arsenal beat us 3-0.   Despite beating a Mancini lead Liverpool in the next game, back to back defeats followed as we crashed out on pens to Man City in the league cup then away in the league to Palace.

November and December 16

Not a good couple of months for Hammers fans as we only recorded 2 wins in 9 games, drawing 2 others.  Key players picked up injuries and reinforcements were required, unfortunately, the board were reluctant to back me in the January window, perhaps by the clubs poor run of form, but meetings throughout the season weren't constructive, things were coming to a head

January 17

Five straight defeats and the board refusing to back me financially, despite telling me I had to improve the squad put me in a position I wasn't comfortable with and I handed in my resignation.

Time for a break

Frustrated by my experience, I decided to take the rest of the season off and see what jobs would be available when the obvious end of season sackings would occur.  Despite being offered a few opportunities, nothing really appealed, to be honest, I wanted the Hull City job, but Steve Bruce was secure in that role.

West Ham were eventually relegated, unable to be saved by Villas Boas who took over from me.

Season Overview - The Winners

  • Premier League - Man Utd
  • FA Cup - Bournemouth
  • League Cup - Man Utd
  • Champs League - Man City
  • Europa League - Napoli

 

Back in the game

Well, the usual manager merry go round started as the season finished.    My beloved Liverpool were hurting, seeing fierce rivals United lift another title they parted with Roberto Mancini, only a year after sacking Jurgen Klopp, I cheekily applied and to my amazement, I was offered the job, my dream job.    It would be a tough job, they finished the season in the prem in 8th a full 26 points behind the winners, a fairly good defence but an impotent attack, perhaps my attackign brand of football I had at West Ham appealed to the owners.   Would I make a success of it or would it be giro time again...

KPDub

2015/16 Season

So the story begins Thursday 1st September 2016 as I embark on yet another save game on Football Manager 2016.   A decision not to purchase the iminent 2017 version was hard, but I committed to a long term save due to not a lot changing from version to version.

My Virtual Character

I decided to roleplay me as an ex-professional footballer, no international experience, who had taken a few years out of the game to get all his coaching badges.   I set up a world with all the leagues in the world in, but just England, Italy and Spain featuring as playable countries.

Starting unemployed in the 2015/16 season,  I saw what the game would offer, deliberately turning down clubs that start the game without a manager, I wanted to play the game of applying for jobs where managers were sacked.

As Christmas approached and after turning down a few opportunities at unappealing jobs, I was surprisingly offered an interview at Premiership West Ham United who had parted company with Slaven Bilic.

Somehow, I managed to bullshit my way through the interview and was appointed manager of West Ham three days before Xmas.

And so my journey begins

With the team looking at a relegation spot and morale at rock bottom it would be a tough challenge.   I first set about getting some staff in, with many leaving with Bilic, there where a few gaps that needed plugging before my first game on Boxing Day.

I went for experienced ex-players where possible by adding Ray Wilkens, Ludek Miklosko and Steve Stone to the coaching staff, who were joined by Frankie Bunn from Huddersfield and Fabrizio Piccareta as my Assistant Manager.    Adverts were placed to fill the gaps for the U18 and U21 squads as well as the coaching staff and were filled over the next couple of weeks.

December 15

An away trip to WBA wasn't the ideal start, but we did well and took the lead on 64 minutes through Chiekou Kouyate.   The lead wouldn't last for long though as Aaron Cresswell was sent off 10 minutes later, leading to WBA equalising.   But a tough rear guard action saw the game out, a 1-1 draw wasnt' a bad start

A couple of days later saw my first home game, home to Stoke.  With still only days to learn my tactical approach it was going to be hard on the boys, but they raced into a 3-0 lead inside 6 minutes with goals from Sakho and two from Valencia.   Stoke got one back but Valencia got his hat trick in the second half to give us a 4-1 win.

January 16

My first transfer window.   Well bugger all happened, there was no money for transfers, the squad was a bit thin and I was keen to not allow anyone leave and I wanted to give the current players a chance to prove themselves.

League form was excellent, seeing us extend my unbeaten start which featured a noteable home win agaisnt Chelsea.    The FA Cup wasn't so succesful though.  Drawing 1-1 away at Villa saw us lose 3-1 at home (aet) following a fractious affair that saw both sides down to 10 men.

February 16

Having survived the transfer window without losing anyone, the league form continued really well.  An away goalless draw at United was followed by a 3-0 win over Liverpool, but we were brought crashing down to earth the following game, Arsenal beating us 4-0, but the lads bounced back with a 2-1 win at home to Newcastle.

March 16

A fairly average month, a win, two draws and a defeat, the boys were adapting well to the tactics (4-1-2-2-1) , we enjoyed good possession, just lacking that bit of quality to be consistant.

April and May 16

The business end of the season, too much damage had been done by Bilic to get European football, but our form since I took charge was encouraging.   We were undefeated for the last two months of the season with 5 wins and 2 draws and we were scoring for fun, the last three games finishing 4-1, 4-0 and 5-0 against Spurs, Sunderland and West Brom respectively.   We finished 9th and our fine form earned me my first Manager of the Month award for May.

Season Overview - The Winners

  • Premier League - Man City
  • FA Cup - Swansea
  • League Cup - Man City
  • Champs League - Juventus
  • Europa League - Schalke

Summer 16

With a modest budget to spend, I was going to have to be clever in the market and raise money from player sales.   However, due to only finishing 9th and me getting the best out of some players, they had loftier ambitions and drew the attention of other clubs, once heads were turned I was in trouble.

Sales

Approx 45m was raised in player sales during the summer

  • Darren Randolph > Hull for 600k
  • James Collins > Bordeaux for 165k
  • Andy Carroll > Aston Villa for 10.25m
  • Michael Antonio > Leverkusen for 10.5m (really didn't want him to go)
  • Enner Valencia > Napoli for 23m (gutted he left, but couldn't persuade him to stay)

Purchases

Only 15m spent on players, but I added what I felt was quality in week areas.

  • Geronimo Rulli from Sociedad on a free (absolute beast of a keeper and a bargain)
  • Jesse Lingard from Man U for 5m
  • Fede from Racing Santander for 2.4m
  • Moses Odubajo from Hull for 7.5
  • Fernando Torres for a free after his release from Atletico 

But as pre-season started, there were other twists and turns to my first experience.

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