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Football Manager 2020 Journey Thread

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Managing Heart of Midlothian. Last bought a league title back to Edinburgh in 1960, haven’t won the Scottish League Cup since 1962 and eight Scottish Cups, but only two this millennium. Simply, I want to win a league title and break up the Celtic-Rangers monopoly on the league in Scotland. 

 

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Have one more game in the month of September, which I will probably play tomorrow, and then I will do a quarterly update. So far though, it’s all going to plan. 

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Did a season with AFC Wimbledon:

- Aimed to avoid relegation.

- Felt like a bad season but had two purple patches which led to a 10th placed finish. Three points off the playoffs.

- Created a good relationship with Brentford which has led me to cherry picking their better B side players.

- Sold our academy gem Paul Kalambyi to Sheffield United, which has financed the move to the new ground.

 

A big overhaul is needed in the summer as I want players that can play a high pressing game. Its going to be a lot of loans as we cant afford too many agent fees.

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Will get around to writing a bit of a write-up on life at Hearts so far but the main bit of news is beating Celtic 3-2 in the Betfred Cup Semi-Final to set up a tie with St Johnstone (who beat Dundee United in the other semi) in the Final. 

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Heart of Midlothian Football Club - 2019/20

So, Hearts then. One of the Scottish capital's two major sides and Edinburgh hasn't seen a top division title since 1960, so ultimately, I'm here to attempt to break the monopoly that Celtic and Rangers have had on Scottish Football's elite league for a long time. 

I need to clever at Hearts, money is sparse in Scotland and more so if you're not the Old Firm so my transfer strategy was always going to be different. I need to find value in 'other' places than the norm. Having looked at it, England is overpriced, as is the Scottish Premier League and I cannot afford anyone from any of Europe's major leagues. I began the search in Scandinavia and have since expanded it further afield. 

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Summer Transfers In - Sixten Jensen (from Sogndal) £150,000, Tashan Oakley-Boothe (season-long loan from Tottenham Hotspur), Mirza Husic (free transfer from Braband IF), Ola Solbakken (from Ranheim) £25,000.

Summer Transfers Out - Euan Henderson (to Dundee United) £30,000, Sean Ward (six month loan to Edinburgh City), Aidan Keena (six month loan to Livingston), Callumn Morrison (to Vitoria de Guimaraes) £27,500, Ola Solbakken (loaned back to Ranheim for six months as part of transfer). 

I decided I needed a right winger as a matter of urgency. Callumn Morrison looked okay but that was about it. While he was an Academy product, I felt we could do better and after some scouting, Sixten Jensen was the man to come in. Oakley-Boothe was an unexpected signing, really. I didn't need a centre midfielder but after a couple of injuries at the back end of pre-season, I needed cover and Oakley-Boothe fit the bill. Husic is an 18-year old Bosnian centre-midfielder, signed from the Danish third tier. He's not close to my first-team, however he has potential to be decent at SPL level and for no fee, it felt a god signing. Solbakken's signing was a long-running saga that plagued my summer. Identified as a key player by my scouts and having a low asking price, I set about signing him. His wage demands were problematic but we eventually, at the third time of asking, got it over the line on the proviso that he went back to Ranheim for six months, which I'm happy with as I have two good left wingers for the time being. I will phase him in when he arrives in February, as I have a loanee from Manchester City, who'll leave at the end of the season. 

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July 2019 

Hearts 6-0 Forfar Athletic - Betfred Cup Group D 

Montrose 1-4 Hearts - Betfred Cup Group D

Ross County 0-1 Hearts - Betfred Cup Group D

Hearts 3-0 Elgin City - Betfred Cup Group D

Excellent. The whole campaign revolved around that trip to Ross County and thankfully, we passed our first proper test with relative ease. Forfar, Montrose and Elgin were games we should have won and did and I didn't fancy any of those sides to test us in a game or for qualification. 

August 2019 

Hearts 1-1 Celtic

Hamilton Academicals 0-4 Hearts 

Hearts 3-2 Ross County - Betfred Cup Second Round

Aberdeen 2-2 Hearts

Hearts 0-0 St Johnstone

While Ross County was our first test of the season and an indicator of where we were at, nothing compared with starting the season against Celtic. A draw was the fair result and it gave me a new found confidence in the squad, that the Betfred Cup wasn't a phase or an unfair indication of the squad, to follow it up with a 4-0 drubbing away at Hamilton was more than pleasing. We then drew Ross County, again, in the Betfred Cup and they provided a sterner test but we ended up winning, thankfully. The last two games of the month were a mixed bag, the Aberdeen game was a lucky escape, we probably should have lost, whereas St Johnstone, it was a hammering but we couldn't put the ball in their net. 

September 2019

Kilmarnock 1-3 Hearts

Hearts 4-1 Livingston

Hearts 1-1 Aberdeen - won 4-3 on penalties - Betfred Cup Quarter Final

Rangers 0-0 Hearts

Another month, another month without defeat. Kilmarnock and Livingston were won with relative ease, the last two games were the key ones. Thankfully, Celtic and Rangers drew each other in the Quarter Finals and we had a tricky game against Aberdeen, which was, thankfully, won on the lottery of penalties. Rangers was another big indicator of where we were and we kept them at bay and did have a goal disallowed of our own. 

October 2019

Hearts 2-0 Hibernian

Hearts 2-1 St Mirren

Motherwell 3-1 Hearts

Ross County 1-2 Hearts

Derby games are always big for me and by this stage of the season being unbeaten, I couldn't lose to Hibs. Thankfully, we started without them, we were two up inside seven minutes and it took them roughly an hour to get a grip of the game, but by that point the damage was done. St Mirren was a sign of what was coming, in hindsight. We were poor but nicked it in the 83rd minute. Motherwell, well, they were excellent and we were shocking. They rocked us with an early goal and we didn't recover and they hit us with a sucker punch of a second just before half-time, we managed to get a goal back after 68 minutes and late on, I rolled the dice and went to an "attacking" mentality, to which, Motherwell hit us on the counter and won it. Ross County were Ross County, we beat them again and they weren't much cop but the score flattered them. 

November 2019

Celtic 2-3 Hearts - Betfred Cup Semi-Final

Hearts 2-2 Hamilton Academicals

Celtic 2-1 Hearts

When the Semi-Final was drawn, I was hoping for St Johnstone or Dundee United but we got the one nobody wanted, Celtic. Could we actually turn the two draws against the Old Firm into a win? Yes, we could. We lead after 9 minutes through a Jamie Walker penalty and Celtic chased us from then on. They showed their quality, pegging us back twice before Tashan Oakley-Boothe smashed one in with seven minutes left. Excellent, a matter of months in and a Final, it's happened quicker than I imagined. The Hamilton game was a bit of a mess, I rested a few players and those that come in, did nothing to make me think I should be playing them for. Celtic then got their revenge on us a week or so after beating them at Hampden. I think on another day, we could have nicked a point but they're a quality side. 

 

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Been doing a Bundesliga season save to increase my knowledge of the league.

Picked Hertha Berlin just because I think it would be nice to see the capital of Germany have a giant football team. There stadium to my surprise is massive and the foundations are pretty much there.

The aim was to avoid relegation in the first season. Its Christmas and we are second xD

Long term strategy is to gain a reputation as a development club. Anybody over 27 will be gone in the summer along with any players outperforming what I believe should be their market value. Rinse and repeat every season. Leipzig and Dortmund have shown it's possible to compete with a similar attitude.

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I've got a couple of saves going:

Hertha Berlin - Finished fourth in my first season. Davie Selke got 25+ goals. I'll probably lose him and 27+ year olds and start again.

AFC Wimbledon - Was fourth at January in second season. Board sold my top scorer and captain. 2 points in 6 games and 1 goal scored. 

Crystal Palace - Trying to reduce the squad age with little money is hard going. Sold Meyer to fund Aribo, Aina, Kamara, Gray and Ibe. Languishing above relegation zone in second season but playing much better football.

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I finally plunged into this. I started as Bochum as they're a bit of a second team to me. Got them promoted at the first time of asking - our defensive record was frankly extraordinary.

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Probably should have googled it before I decided to start this save but Sheffield Wednesday looks a challenge. £0 transfer budget, a wage budget of £2k and an ageing side. What a combination. 

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Do I get a thread of this one going... I'd definitely do it but the problem is my keyboard quite often lets me down (the I and K keys often play up) so it can be tricky to post at length. Really starting to get quite into this save though - managed to bring some new faces into Bochum this summer when I was fearful that we'd be frankly out of our depth in terms of both players and budget. The board as per usual have taken the piss and once again I find myself having to work minor miracles in the window and on the pitch but here we are. Absolutely no reason at all that the board have to pocket 85% of my transfer revenue when the bank balance is likely to gradually increase. Total horse shit from them.

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We're definitely going down. No wins in our opening 11 games. Relying on a loanee in Brewster to score any goals seemingly. I'm sorry, I usually hold my hands up when I make an error but this one's on the board - no way on earth were we going to stay up when they pocket any money we get anyway. I'd forgive it perhaps if we had genuine financial issues but we were promoted to the Bundesliga on a tiny budget in the 2nd tier, surely there is no excuse for us having a minus £6mil net spend?

The squad just simply has no business playing at this level. Every little issue in the side boils down to that. We've not disgraced ourselves but we're out of our depth. If I didn't have any Bochum loyalty I'd have taken the Hamburg job I was offered.

I must say I'm enjoying this though - it's definitely quite realistic. Just a shame the board will prevent Bochum ever being anything other than a provincial, nothing side.

The only thing going our way is the fact Dusseldorf and Bremen also haven't won yet (and we've played neither, and play both of them in our final three games which could be huge) and with 16th in the league getting into a play-off place to survive, one of us is going to have the chance to do it.

I've had to bin my 4-4-1-1 formation because it just didn't work. We look a bit better in 4-3-3 but we're not really doing it and despite staying in most games for a while, we eventually get picked off due to our lack of quality at both ends.

It's a shame that we won't be able to build around Bella-Kotchap - definitely a player to buy, a genuine wonderkid at Bochum for fuck sake xD

Enjoying the save but frustrated that the board sabotaged it and I don't think I know enough of the tricks of the FM20 trade yet to mastermind a survival.

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I won the playoffs with AFC Wimbledon. Definitely the worst squad in the league at the time. I wish you were all there to see it.

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We're as good as down. We had a mid season revival but we've been found out and we're in complete freefall. No shame in it. I've got by a mile the leagues shittest squad - cannot make any expectations on a team like that. Entirely the boards fault as far as I'm concerned. How can you go up with a midtable 2nd tier level team and have a net spend of -£6mil, and expect anything other than comfortable relegation?

I hold my hands up when it's my fault - but this one isn't. We needed a miracle right from the off. I'm hopefully going to leave these.

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19 hours ago, Dan said:

We're as good as down. We had a mid season revival but we've been found out and we're in complete freefall. No shame in it. I've got by a mile the leagues shittest squad - cannot make any expectations on a team like that. Entirely the boards fault as far as I'm concerned. How can you go up with a midtable 2nd tier level team and have a net spend of -£6mil, and expect anything other than comfortable relegation?

I hold my hands up when it's my fault - but this one isn't. We needed a miracle right from the off. I'm hopefully going to leave these.

Are you going to continue the game even if you get sacked?

On FM16 it was really satisfying getting Oldham promoted after being sacked by Blackpool.

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4 hours ago, The Palace Fan said:

Are you going to continue the game even if you get sacked?

On FM16 it was really satisfying getting Oldham promoted after being sacked by Blackpool.

For me it largely depends on how the board behave and what offers I get. If they back me at all to get back up, I will keep with it as I think I'd be able to do it. I genuinely think we can get stronger this summer rather than weakened, Bella-Kotchap is basically the only player I fear I'll lose, the rest just aren't quite worth it - and luckily some of my signings I think are slightly too good for this league but simply weren't enough to help keep us up.

As you can probably tell, we went, we beat Augsburg in February to go 15th but what followed was simply embarrassing in all honesty.

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2 points from 10 games. We just totally fell to pieces. That Frankfurt game was massive at the time as they were neck and neck with us but they completely outplayed us, 2-1 massively flattered us and the confidence just seemed to drop off a cliff with a very tricky run in.

Bremen and Dusseldorf both survived in the end which is quite something really. Augsburg finished below us, they totally fell to bits even worse than we did, and Frankfurt finished 16th but look very likely to survive instead of Hannover coming up.

The challenge for me here is how exactly to rebuild this side. What style of play to go with? I feel like I need to move from the 4-4-1-1 now. This squad apparently is well suited to tiki-taka, which is pretty funny to think given how abysmal some of the performances were from a possession point of view (we averaged 39%) but maybe I do need to just try and change things a bit for the long run. The board are happy enough with working towards promotion for the next two years and achieving it in the third but I think that's ridiculously unambitious, but that seems to be the problem and why I'm actually happy enough to bin these if I get a good enough offer.

I'm under basically no pressure, the whole thing was a free hit, but it's a bit pointless. I'm hoping someone like Frankfurt come in for me.

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Right credit where due - 75% of any future revenue and a bit more money in the bank. I've took the plunge and signed a new deal. I want to go straight back up this season.

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Story of this season then.

I didn't receive a great budget (shock) but I for once was allowed to keep a lot of the money we took in, and we made a few sales, most significantly Bella-Kotchap to Leipzig - I pulled a blinder however by negotiating their £9mil offer to £9mil plus a loan back for the season, which all parties agreed, so I got him back, no wages paid, and will only feel the brunt of it next season - hopefully post promotion.

I've raised in total around £14mil and spent around £4mil, loads of that on loanees though which is the catch with my team, although I've got a couple of them permanently in the summer on frees.

I'm still ultimately learning what works and what doesn't on the game. When it comes to tactics I've always been a believer that ultimately there's no absolutely perfect method and that ultimately it's about creating whatever fits for your team. However now that I finally have the ability to bring a significant number of players in, I'm going to attempt to play tiki-taka.

Mistake.

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Despite a very strong start, we were very quickly sussed and we were routinely having 70% of the ball and getting less created than our opposition - we had morphed into the kind of side we used to gobble up two years ago.

So I reverted to 4-4-1-1 wing play, the system that got me up last time, which is a bit daft in a way due to my signings but I still think I had the personnel in the squad to pull it off - I ultimately try and sign quite a variety of players and mix it a bit.

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Improvement for a while but ultimately it wasn't really good enough. In January I controversially signed Gary Cahill - now hear me out, the last time we got promoted, I had a very limited, albeit leader type of defender at the back in Patrick Fabian. He was ageing back then, ultimately not great anyway and a big injury at the end of last season forced him into retirement, so I hoped Cahill would have this kind of effect.

He hasn't really. Cahill played in the Nurnberg game and I subbed him after half an hour, tactically, because we were getting absolutely destroyed by a bottom half side. Now in fairness the score was only 1-0, but I'm not exaggerating when I say it could've been 5. What did eventually pan out was a disgrace mind you as we equalised late on, conceded in the 88th minute to go 2-1 down, miraculously stole the most undeserved of points in the 96th minute and still managed to lose.

I made another tweak. I changed the 4-4-1-1 to 4-2-3-1, same instructions, just a bit more attacking. The rest is history.

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Now our last two games are against Hannover (h) and Arminia Bielefeld (a) which are both massive but basically, avoid two defeats and we're up, and I see absolutely no reason with our soaring confidence and form that we're going to lose two games out of nothing.

 

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I feel like the deadline day move to bring in Yves Bissouma on loan, something I only did because I thought I was about to lose Sascha Promel to Koln for a release clause, has been pivotal because he's totally changed the dynamic of our side. I feel like he stops us being over-run in midfield despite being relatively light there, much like Kante at Leicester. I want him signing in the summer permanently although I'd take a loan.

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Too many players on loan ultimately but we've done the job without really spending that much. It's been very good after all.

Truly am into this game. Really enjoying it to be honest.

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Got Palace an 11th place finish with a fantastic second half of the season playing a 3-4-3.

 

9/10's: PVA, Andre Gray.

8/10's: Sakho, Riedewald, Tomkins, Souttar, Kelly, Aribo, Luka.

7/10's: Guaita, Ward, Kamara, Schlupp, Zaha, Ibe, Townsend.

6/10's: Hennessey, Cahill, Kouyate, McCarthy, McArthur, Ayew, Benteke.

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We have made a remarkable start to this season. Holy shit.

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2022/23 is shit and boring isn't it. Two months mid-season of no games only to have the most ridiculous January coming up.

We have started very well but I do think we're going to slump significantly. I just hope it's not enough to sink us, but don't be surprised.

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Somehow landed the Gladbach job starting from next season.

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Story for 2022/23

So as you may well remember, this is a quite unique season on FM as the Qatar World Cup goes ahead during it, meaning there's a significant mid-season break. It's all a bit shit. It means we play around 11 games from August to October and then absolutely cram the fuck out of January and February to compensate, rather than finishing it a bit later which seems a bit odd to me, but there we go.

The absolute lack of sport, and apparent lack of life I have means I've gotten through a good amount of this season this weekend.

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We made an absolutely ridiculous start. It wasn't really how I expected things to go after an opening day implosion at Wolfsburg, but we looked a lot more prepared this time around with better signings and quite simply, I'd come up with a slightly better tactic than I went with last time. It is ridiculous how effective the wing play seems to be for us.

We have a real ability to scrape a result, to absorb a good 20-25 shots and not concede yet sucker punch teams.

Schalke must absolutely loathe us. That's three games in a row they've failed to score past us and they can't be far off 100 shots in those games combined. The Bayern win was ridiculous but they're not in a great way either - Simeone is looking a very ill fit for them.

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Italy won the World Cup on penalties, against England following a 121st minute equaliser. Christmas cancelled forever back in my homeland. Italy fitting winners after the Coronavirus tragedy.

We returned in our finest shithousing form and sat in a remarkable 4th place after the Mainz win - all three of those wins some of the finest sucker punch football you're likely to witness.

It's worth pointing out however have since the Manz win collected just the 1 win in 9 and that's against a side that are frankly out of their depth at this level, as I expected they would be, although their absolute non-performance does kind of put into perspective that our 2020/21 season was no humiliation and that this year we are doing superbly.

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It is an incredibly strange table. Bayern are pretty useless, Hoffenheim, Koln, Stuttgart and ourselves are all having relatively superb seasons, Frankfurt and Wolfsburg are having shockers but Leverkusen are the real surprise - that squad getting relegated would be extraordinary.

But as I stated, all good things must come to an end.

Gladbach is a job I'd had my eye on for a while and when it came up, I did wonder if I'd be offered it. I took the interview and bagged it, although I'll start at the end of the season, which in theory is great, but in practice it's making this season kind of boring - especially given it would take the ultimate collapse for us to drop from here, though I must stress it's not totally beyond us. I'd be surprised though as we've got goals in us this year, and Mbala Nzola has become the ultimate shock golden boot candidate with 11 goals in 2023 alone.

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Bochum in my opinion totally vindicated my move by giving the current staff £5mil to play with upon my departure. They really did milk me for everything I could offer them.

This however means I think I'll now try and pinch the following two players from them - my two biggest money signings at Bochum and both of them, frankly absolute bargains despite this.

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I also have Sepp van den Berg lined up to join them in July - beating off some real surprise competition, but call that a parting gift if you like. This season will play out and from then on we move. Gladbach is a club I think I can take to real heights whereas Bochum are just a bit handicapped. The show goes on.

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I actually can't buy a win at the minute. Our form is lowkey shit. Lots of draws though. We won't be relegated - our points tally with 8 games left would've kept us up any other season.

But it's 1 win in 13 I think now and even that was over Bielefeld, who are quite obviously not cut out for this league.

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There probably isn't a professional side in England quite like Dagenham & Redbridge on FM. They're, what I'm going to call, an "anti-FM" team. By that, I mean that they have no reserve team, not particularly uncommon, and no youth team either. For many, FM is about wonderkids, youth intakes and new gen superstars but there's literally none of that at the Daggers, it's first team football and that's it. That has appealed to me and I've started a save as them. Where, usually, in case of injuries or suspensions, I would promote a player or two from the reserves or youth team and get them involved, but I can't do that here and I'm looking forward to seeing how it goes. 

 

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Season 2019/20

Vanarama National League

Prediction - 13th

 

What's the aims here, then? Ultimately, I want to take the club back into the Football League. That's easier said than done given the circumstances and, likely, finances that are going to face me here. I'm going to try and work below the wage budget in doing so. That's the long-term goals, now the shorter term ones. 

Season one, we're predicted 13th out of twenty-four. I will happily take a mid-table finish this year as I get my feet under the table and work out the squad, tactics and how to win games at this level. The FA Cup is a nice bonus, we win one game and we're in the First Round Proper and could pull out a money spinning tie against Portsmouth, Sunderland or Ipswich Town. We'd need to win three games to get to the proper big ties and that is unlikely, so I'm not focused on the FA Cup. I want to get in the First Round Proper but beyond that, I'm not bothered. The FA Trophy, however, that is the non-league equivalent and I'm going to give that a good go at going far in it. If we can finish comfortably in mid-table and progress to the latter rounds of the FA Trophy, I will be happy. 

 

 

 

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We actually finished really well and I've definitely left Bochum on a real high, landing them their highest league finish since 2007.

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9th was a superb season for us, totally over-achieved and what's good is that I feel like we weren't just propped up by one excellent run - we were genuinely pretty strong throughout most of it.

Mbala Nzola collected the unlikeliest of golden boot awards with 16 goals - admittedly in a pretty exceptionally low year for goals tallies as the next highest only had 13, which is odd.

Wolfsburg suffered a shock relegation. You would never have thought it after they destroyed us on the opening day that they would finish 17th and we would finish 9th. Hertha Berlin are another who I feel just shouldn't be down there, but it was a quite strange season on the whole really.

Dortmund won the league on the final day after an incredible last couple of games which saw them throw it all away against us and Mainz, before beating Hoffenheim and witnessing Bayern lose at home to Schalke of all teams.

Stuttgart and Koln had exceptional seasons. Leipzig, Leverkusen, Frankfurt, Hertha and Wolfsburg all had absolute shockers.

Dynamo Dresden have won the 2.Bundesliga and will be joined by Augsburg, with Hertha Berlin facing Fortuna Dusseldorf in the relegation play-off.

But that's the end of me at Bochum. Four years and for a first save I think it's gone excellently really - three very good years out of four.

On we move to Borussia Monchengladbach. They have finished 7th in the table which means they'll be playing in the Europa Conference League next season - something I think we should be aiming to win. They actually had really decent form under their caretaker manager - strangely both clubs could actually get weaker for this move if I don't play it right. But I think Gladbach have a good squad, not amazing, but it's a great base to work with and I think with a couple of clever additions we can get a European place again. I'm hoping for the season after to be in the top 4. I aim to buy Schlager from Wolfsburg if I'm able to and I also have a very good young striker, think the next Timo Werner, so there's a lot to work with.

On we go.

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Glad to see this topic back to life. I'm currently doing a youth only in Cambodia with Build Bright United. Just like I tried in Lesotho, I'm attempting to win everything with a team from Cambodia with only players from my youth academy. Here are my 3 top players.

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I have to play my fucking keeper in outfield :rofl:

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And the result.

Fuck this fucking shit game piece of cunt cup Asian Cup

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  • Haha 1

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