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RandoEFC

[FM17] - Moneyball - RandoEFC goes globetrotting again!

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I was shocked upon loading up Football Manager 2017 today after growing bored of FIFA at long last, that it has been almost an entire year since my last entry in the diary of my favourite Foorball Manager save game of all time. Another time, another name, and I'm back with a new type of career and a new challenge to overcome as I attempt to emulate some of the success enjoyed in adziom's Ultimate Grind, which followed the highs and lows of Sao Toméan manager Sweetzer de Souza's journey from the obscurity of Sao Tome & Principe to glory in Africa's greatest league of Tunisia, via Burkina Faso, Kenya and Algeria.

This story will have a similar journeyman flavour, but will follow a new protagonist who specialises in the "Moneyball" approach. As many of you will know, this approach in football is a strategy used by financially disadvantaged teams, to invest in young players, develop them, and sell them for a profit before reinvesting the proceeds in new, better young talent, and the process continues. As a result, my approach to the game will be to sign young players with high potential, allow them to grow into first team players and either lead the club to glory or sell them on for a significant profit, enabling the clubs I manage to grow into a competitive force. To ensure that this game stays 'a bit different' and that I don't get sucked in to taking over already competitive clubs and tempted to abandon my approach, whenever I take over a new club, I will set myself two "targets", a competitive target such as "Win promotion to Serie A" or "Qualify for continental competition two years running", and a financial target such as "Make a profit of £12m in the transfer market".

As I can't help myself from the element of randomness, my random number app on my phone has determined that my career will start in Continent 3 out of 6 (Europe), and Country 49 out of 56 in that continent (Spain), so at the beginning of the game, the leagues loaded are just the Spanish ones down as far as the Second Division B (third tier). As a result, I have created a Spanish manager, Emmanuel Muñoz, who will start the game unemployed. Without getting too in-depth, Muñoz has been designed for the Moneyball coach role, a 30-year-old player, with the experience of playing as a professional footballer in the top flight under his belt and a few coaching badges. A focus on Youth Development has left us with this starting point:

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A further update will be on its way when Muñoz secures his first managerial role, probably in one of the four strands of the Spanish Second Division B tier. In the meantime, he will enjoy his last holiday for a while.

 

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So after first returning from holiday for an interview with Barcelona B, I had to check myself and realise that my influence was limited when it came to transfers here and turn down the role after the interview. However, a spate of manager sackings meant that several alternative opportunities came up at the same time, and I took the next one that I was offered with Real Valladolid.

The Club

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Valladolid have spent most of the last 20 years competing in Spain's top flight, suffering their most recent relegation to Spain's Second Division in the 2013-14 season. Since then, it hasn't been a pretty picture, with last season marking their lowest league finish in recent memory. The club were still expected to bounce back this season with media experts tipping them for a top six finish in the Second Division and therefore a place in the play-offs. However, things haven't quite gone to plan on that front.

 

The Circumstances

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A dreadful start to the season has Valladolid deep in the relegation zone in November, seven points away from safety. With the club also knocked out of the Spanish Cup at the first hurdle, my job is very simple for this season and the board expect nothing more than to save the side from relegation. The squad has good talent and strong depth, so this should be achievable with 26 matches remaining this season. The wage budget is at capacity and there is no money available for transfers, so my focus is to employ an assistant manager, concentrate on getting some results and see if we can identify some cheap/free young talent in the transfer window.

 

The Targets

As I don't know what the financial climate is like at this level of Spanish football, I'm going to be conservative about my non-football target this time, though if it's too easy I can adapt it accordingly. The football target isn't exactly shooting for the stars either but we'll see how it goes. The idea behind these targets are that they should take somewhere between 3 and 5 years to achieve as a rough guideline.

Football Target: Qualify for the Spanish Second Division play-offs at least once.

Non-Football Target: Sell at least three players at a higher price than the one that I signed them for.

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I'm a believer in moneyball and my Shrewsbury save started out as that. While I deviated from it a bit too much to probably call it a full on moneyball save, I think I have general principles that are very in line with the concept itself so I'll be interested to see how you get on.

I'm amazed there isn't a middling club that doesn't do it.

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1 hour ago, Dan said:

I'm a believer in moneyball and my Shrewsbury save started out as that. While I deviated from it a bit too much to probably call it a full on moneyball save, I think I have general principles that are very in line with the concept itself so I'll be interested to see how you get on.

I'm amazed there isn't a middling club that doesn't do it.

I've played a couple months and I'll update properly later but I've already run into a difficulty that I come across often on this game and that is taking over clubs who are already over the wage bill but also have no backroom staff. It's going to be a challenge finding money to invest but looks like I've already got one player attracting interest from Serie A so could improve the financial situation.

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December 2016

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A dream start in my first game in charge saw José Maria Reina strike to put us ahead after just 4 minutes against Tarragona, in a game we comfortably won after leading 3-0 at half-time. Star striker Alberto Lenzi was on target in both of our first two games, securing a late draw against Mallorca, before Mirandés inflict the first defeat of my reign ahead of the short winter break.

 

Transfer Window - January 2017

My first chance to perform a bit of surgery and bring some prospect to the club is somewhat limited by the club's financial difficulties. The sale of top scorer and key player Lenzi provides some respite on the financial front but leaves me having to get creative in finding short-term fixes to patch up the squad for the relegation battle ahead. There is one potentially big signing for the present and future in Jaime Fernández.

Outs

Alberto Lenzi (Striker, 28, Key Player) to Torino for £1.5m (could rise to £2m).

Gerardo Di Maio (Midfielder, 22, Future Prospect) on loan to Avilés.

Ivan Escudero (Defensive Midfielder, 23, Backup) on loan to Écija.

Andres Sierra (Winger, 31, Backup) on loan to Numantia.

Juan Heredia (Attacking Midfielder, 28, Rotation Option) on loan to Córdoba.

Ins

Jaime Fernández (Winger, 23, Key Player) from Real San Sebastián for £170k (could rise to £195k).

Javier Gonzalez (Attacking Midfielder, 19, Future Prospect) on a free transfer.

Jorge Lorente (Winger, 22, Rotation Option) on loan from Chelsea.

Enrique Verona (Striker, 18, Rotation Option) on loan from Genoa.

Javier Varela (Full Back, 22, Starter/Rotation Option) on loan from Lorca.

 

January 2017

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A strong set of results in January started with Lenzi scoring his last goal for the club with our only shot on target in a scabby 1-0 win at Almeria. He then departs from the club with a petulant sending off against Sevilla B in a game we lose late on despite dominating with a man disadvantage. A pair of long-range free kicks from Belgian midfielder Gaetan Jonckheere scores us another unlikely away win at 4th-placed Zaragoza, before debut goals from Enrique Verona against Elche, and Jaime Fernández against struggling Oviedo help us to another 4 points. We are still some way from climbing out of the relegation zone despite such a strong month.

 

February 2017

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Unintentionally, we really are 'Allardyceing' our way slowly but surely out of the relegation zone, somehow picking up 5 points despite only scoring once in four games. Even the late winning goal against Tenerife was an own goal, while we expected more in home games against fellow strugglers Córdoba and Lugo.

 

March 2017

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Another month of decent points on the board, young winger Hugo Sanz scoring in our back to back wins over Numantia and Huesca. At this point I have been in charge for 16 games, scoring 29 points in the process. Had the team emulated this performance over the first 16 games of the season before I arrived, we would be sat 3rd in the table looking good for at least a play-off place. However, because results elsewhere keep conspiring to just about keep us inside the relegation zone, the players chose this moment to call a team meeting to discuss the club's under-achievement and my poor management. Never change, Football Manager.

 

April 2017

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Despite an unbeaten month and a run of games stretching to eight without a loss, this season continues to be a huge pile of AIDs. A 1-0 win at bottom club Reus is yet another case of us dominating possession and chances but not making it count so that I have to put up with the "Playing Nervously" disease for the last 20 minutes of the game only for us to just about survive. This result pulls us out of the relegation zone and we almost back this up with a win against top club Levante, but the bastards equalise with a late penalty despite being a man down. Obviously 2-3 teams below us all win so we're back in the drop zone. A Jonckheere penalty secures a 1-0 win at 4th-placed Getafe and we again climb out of the drop zone but we dare to drop two points at Cádiz so obviously, back down we go. At this point I'm starting to question how it's mathematically possible for enough teams to be picking up enough points to keep knocking us back down. A win over new league leaders Vallecano though finally puts some distance between us and the relegation zone.

 

May 2017

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A 0-0 draw with eventual playoff winners Mallorca keeps us ticking over nicely but our nine-game unbeaten run is abruptly ended by a 3-0 twatting by Tarragona. It happens. We come from behind to draw with Sevilla B, relegating them in the process, but we still should have guaranteed our survival by winning this against a side who played the last half an hour with ten men. It's our turn to face a dismissal as Roberto Lanchas picks up two bookings against Mirandés, costing us a chance of getting back into the game and getting himself suspended for the final game of the season, where despite showing play-off worthy form since I took over, we still need a point to guarantee survival. Thankfully, Almeria get a man sent off in the first half and a late winning goal from Enrique Verona, his first since his debut in January, propels us to the dizzying heights of 15th.

 

Season Review 2016-2017

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In terms of surviving relegation, it's job done, but to put into context what an absolute joke it was that it went down to the last day, the media were asking me all season about reaching 'the magic 45 points mark', which is the equivalent of the 40 point mark in the Premier League that generally guarantees safety. This isn't just the game being retarded either, the maths checks out just fine but because there were no teams who were really dire, and none who had a really shitty run of form at any point, the points were spread out pretty evenly across the teams in the bottom half of the table and things remained hairy all the way to the death.

On the pitch, our lack of goals is a major concern, and off the pitch, the club's finances are deteriorating badly so this summer promises to be a real challenge. In fact, the transfer window for the summer of 2017 has been such a busy one it's getting its own post.

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Transfer Window - Summer 2017

So the start of this summer is absolutely full of good news as I am informed that there will be effectively no transfer budget for bringing players in, and I have to reduce the wage bill from £125k/week to £100k/week. This doesn't sound like much in modern terms but it is a reduction of 20% and £25k effectively equates to either 4-5 key, highly-paid players or 7-8 squad/rotation players. Transfer fees will only go so far to balancing the budget as well, as the club will only allow me to retain 5% of transfer revenue to add to the transfer/wage budget. The solution to restore financial parity here is to basically sell all of our most expensive players and patch up the squad again with free transfers and loans. It wasn't easy, but we managed it, and the Moneyball strategy now comes into its own (hopefully).

Outs

Jesús Moratón (Attacking Midfielder, 27, Key Player) to Atlético Pamplona for £925k.

José Maria Reina (Midfielder, 25, First Team) to Alavés for £800k (could rise to £1m).

Javi Castillejo (Winger, 29, First Team) to Atlético Pamplona for £650k.

Aitor Domínguez (Goalkeeper, 28, Key Player) to Las Palmas for £500k (could rise to £700k).

Francisco González (Striker, 28, Backup) to Lugo for £90k.

Jorge Domínguez (Goalkeeper, 18, Youngster), Sergio Bautista (Striker, 19, Youngster), Toni Flores (Striker, 23, Not Needed), Alejandro Huarte (Goalkeeper, 33, Not Needed), Ivan Escudero (Defensive Midfielder, 23, Backup) all released at the end of their contracts.

Juan Heredia (Midfielder, 28, Rotation) on loan to Getafe for £70k over the course of the season.

Ildefonso Soler (Midfielder, 20, Future Prospect) on loan to A. Baleares.

Andres Sierra (Winger, 32, Backup) on loan to Barakaldo.

Juan Carlos Rodríguez (Defensive Midfielder, 20, Youngster) on loan to Socuéllamos.

César Javier Duque (Centre Back, 16, Future Prospect) on loan to Ávila.

Javíer Gonzalez (Attacking Midfielder, 20, Future Prospect) on loan to Gimnástica.

Paco Pastor (Winger, 16, Future Prospect) on loan to Castellón.

Vicente González (Centre Back, 23, Youngster) on loan to Mutilvera.

Miguel González (Full Back, 23, Backup) on loan to Eldense.

Paco Marcos (Centre Back, 16, Future Prospect) on loan to Mutilvera.

 

Ins

Carles Serra (Goalkeeper, 18, Future Prospect) from Llagostera at the end of his contract.

Roberto Esteban (Full Back, 19, Backup/Future Prospect) from R. Santander at the end of his contract.

Jawad Amrani (Winger/Striker, 21, First Team) on a free transfer.

Ildefonso Soler (Midfielder, 20, Future Prospect) on a free transfer.

Timothée Munoz (Midfielder, 21, Rotation/Future Prospect) on a free transfer.

Tomás Sempere (Midfielder, 21, First Team) on loan from Manchester City.

Javi Pastor (Centre Back/Full Back, 22, First Team) on loan from Juventus.

 

Outgoing goalkeeper Domínguez has had to be replaced in the first team for now by a decent alternative but significant downgrade in Domingo García who has been promoted from Valladolid B. Gerardo Di Maio has also returned to the first team squad after his successful loan at Avilés. Somehow, after investing none of the ~£3m back into the squad, I'm actually happy with both the talent and the depth at my disposal. Obviously two key positions are occupied by loan signings for this season but we have a young squad with good determination/ambition who should progress well together over the next few seasons. Top half would be a good achievement for the coming season with a young squad which has lost a lot of talent, and about five of our youth recruits from last season (some of whom are already loaned out) should be good enough to challenge for a place in the first team one day.

After a difficult summer, we have an average squad, but we have stable finances, one of the best coaching teams in the league and a young squad determined to develop. After surviving relegation last season, we can start to look towards making this Moneyball approach work for us and pushing Valladolid back towards the top flight where they belong.

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Smashing it this season. 2nd after 11 games. Forgot how absolutely easy this game can be when I don't rage quit and delete my career whenever I lose two matches in a row @Danny.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

:ph34r:

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August 2017

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A mixed start to the season as we get shafted twice on the road, the main positive being new forward Jawad Amrani's debut goal and Jaime Fernandez' winner against Albacete.

 

September 2017

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A perfect month in the league, with goals coming from all over the pitch and the team consistently dominating our opposition. Murcia dump us out of the Spanish Cup at the first hurdle but we are soon able to avenge that defeat in the Second Division. The 2-0 win at Mirandés is a particular highlight after they did the double over us last season.

 

October 2017

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A mixed month, part of which we spend inside the automatic promotion spots before losing at home to Almeria. A 2-0 win over otherwise imperious Granada at home is the best result I've enjoyed as Valladolid manager to date.

 

November 2017

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Pere Pérez, a long-term target who joined us last month on a free transfer having eventually lowered his wage demands, gets his first goals for the club in a pasting of Hospitalet, one of the league's two whipping boys. We are massively lucky to claw back a draw against Numantia having been dominated for most of the game, and this poor performance is unfortunately a sign of things to come.

 

December 2017

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A winless month takes us up to the winter break. Six games without victory has seen us slide outside the playoff places as we approach the season's midpoint. Still, there are plenty of positives with Jawad Amrani in particular continuing his strong goalscoring form.

Overall, despite slipping down the table, I'm more than happy with how the first half of the season has gone. Despite selling about 5 of my 8 best players and relying on loanees and free agents to fill the gaps, results have been pretty consistent with the second half of last season and we're performing above expectations in the league. Several of the young players at the club, including some of those currently out on loan, are developing at an impressive rate and the club's finances are pretty stable at the moment so results on the pitch should continue to show an upward trajectory and there are several candidates who could potentially be sold on for a profit within a season or two, which will help me hit the non-footballing target I've set for my time at Valladolid of selling on three of my signings for a profit.

Enjoying this save!

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Great story so far. What type of formation are you using? Sorry if you have posted it somewhere, I can't find it. xD

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7 minutes ago, Chaaay AFC said:

Great story so far. What type of formation are you using? Sorry if you have posted it somewhere, I can't find it. xD

A 4-5-1 with a DM, two CMs and AMR and AML. I change the roles and duties depending on which one suits the personnel best. Usually have a ball winner as DM and two playmakers in midfield or a playmaker and a box to box. A couple of mine play well as roaming playmakers though so I've had phases of using that role as one of the CMs or have the DM as roaming playmakers and one of my CMs as a ball winner. It's fun to mix things up.

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15 minutes ago, RandoEFC said:

A 4-5-1 with a DM, two CMs and AMR and AML. I change the roles and duties depending on which one suits the personnel best. Usually have a ball winner as DM and two playmakers in midfield or a playmaker and a box to box. A couple of mine play well as roaming playmakers though so I've had phases of using that role as one of the CMs or have the DM as roaming playmakers and one of my CMs as a ball winner. It's fun to mix things up.

Nice one, do you ever tend to move away from your 4-5-1 or is that a constant? I feel like you have to have another formation, but that tends to leave me questioning which one to use a lot of the time.

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1 hour ago, Chaaay AFC said:

Nice one, do you ever tend to move away from your 4-5-1 or is that a constant? I feel like you have to have another formation, but that tends to leave me questioning which one to use a lot of the time.

Not with this squad, it's a nice balance but I tend to go with the assistants suggestion when I join a new club especially if it's mid season and I have to make do with the players I've got. If that doesn't work then I change it but over the course of different saves I've realised that as long as you have good numbers in central defence and midfield and some pace up front, the suggested formation works alright. When it doesnt work so well my go to formation is the 4-2-3-1 with two DM's and the three being a AMR, AMC, AML setup. I really think that unless you play a stupid formation, your tactical setup really doesn't make that much difference compared to morale.

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Shit, on course to win the league here, but this team is nowhere near ready to compete in La Liga :/.

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That transfer window is absolutely top drawer moneyball. Taking in money for players 28 or over and replacing them with youngsters on the cheap. I retain that principle at basically any level I manage at now.

I get a lot of satisfaction from selling a player 28+ for stupid money. I sold Ozan Tufan on my last save at 30 years old for £25mil just as he'd begun his decline. It's a paradise for saddos like me.

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2 hours ago, RandoEFC said:

Shit, on course to win the league here, but this team is nowhere near ready to compete in La Liga :/.

Surely going up and going down is still better than not going up. I know it's hardly the Premier League but your finances will improve in La Liga. I reckon you'd probably survived based on what I've read so far. Very similar tactical set up to mine at Leeds as well.

The second tier in Spain is an absolute shambles financially. So many clubs in disarray it's embarrassing. When I took Las Palmas up it was effectively shit or bust for me but we ended up going up, staying up, and eventually going onto to play in the Champions League.

I reckon when I'm bored of Leeds I'll head back to Spain.

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Transfer Window - January 2018

 

This was a few weeks ago in the real world so I can't remember who I tried to sign or who had offers in for them. Thank goodness for the Transfer History screen. Apparently there was only one loan move in or out this window:

Javier Lopez (Striker, 20, Rotation Option) on loan from Leicester for the rest of the season.

 

January 2018

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Things pretty much carrying on as you were here. Amrani scoring goals, a couple of wins, a couple of draws and a defeat at Albacete. Defeating Alavés was the highlight of the month after we got slaughtered by them on the opening day of the season and we're still in the mix for the playoffs as we move into the second half of the campaign.

 

February 2018

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So this month was pretty good, and things have gotten really open at the top of the table. Four wins out of four took us straight through the play-off spots to the top of the league. I can't help but feel that this run is somewhat flattering, with three of those wins coming by a single goal including an own goal going our way and an 88th minute winner from Javier López. These fixtures meant that this month had the potential to be profitable for us but I'm surprised that things went quite this well.

 

March 2018

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Well shit's getting fucking real now. An excellent month from us, with the home draw against Alcorcón the only blot on our copy book in the last two months. Amrani has gone quiet at this stage but Nsi Mbemgono and López have done a great job of stepping up to the plate with Tomás Sempere and Javi Pastor, who are both enjoying terrific loan spells, also finding their scoring boots. Six points clear at the top of the table!

 

April 2018

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And the real Football Manager shows its hideous face again. Seven wins in the last eight then we get swept aside at home by one of the league's two absolute whipping boys, an early red card fucking us over in that one and destroying our momentum. This was another fairly friendly fixture list but two goals and one win all month see our lead at the top of the table evaporate as quickly as it was built. Amrani's second goalless month in succession.

 

May 2018

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Another pretty AIDs-ridden month from us. Amrani has completely disappeared and Javier López has gone quiet after his impressive start. I suppose this is arguably the price you pay for battling for promotion with such a young and inexperienced squad. Somehow though, a couple of goalless draws and a 1-0 penalty win against Lugo allow us to retain our position in the promotion spots ahead of the last game of the season.

 

June 2018

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Football Manager: the biggest stinking pile of AIDs (apart from FIFA Ultimate Team) in the history of gaming. Results elsewhere meant that we needed to win on the last day of the season against 6th-placed Getafe. We trailed to a 19th-minute penalty but equalised pretty quickly and had almost constant possession in the last 15 minutes and injury time, but couldn't find the decisive goal that actually would have sent us up as champions due to Granada's final day defeat. Into the playoffs then and we face Getafe once more. In the away leg Amrani and Jonckheere give us a 2-0 lead at half-time, I ask the players calmly not to get complacent at half-time and we end up losing 3-2 from goals in the 54th, 70th and 90th minutes. This really knocks the stuffing out of us and an early goal for Getafe in the return leg gives us too much of a mountain to climb. The bastards go on to lose the first leg of the playoff final 4-0 to U. Murcia who came out of nowhere late in the season to get into the playoffs and will no doubt get absolutely mullered in the First Division next season.

 

Season Review 2017-2018

I'm not actually at all upset with the outcome of this season. It was too soon for us to get promoted but we've given a really good account of ourselves at the same time. Until we make enough profit on transfers though, I don't see us going up and being ready to compete in the First Division. Two of our key players this season, Tomás Sempere and Javi Pastor, were on season-long loans along with our second striker Javier López, we lack strength in depth, and I'm still yet to find the right combination of wide men to get the best out of our attack. The main positives of the season are the development of Jawad Amrani, who joined us on a free transfer at the beginning of the campaign, and other young players such as Roberto Lanchas. There will be key players leaving this summer, though, but then again that's sort of the whole point of this save. The targets for the immediate future are to continue improving the club's finances through smart transfer dealings and to remain in the playoff/promotion conversation ready for the day when we can hold our own in the top flight.

A small side note, we have reached enough relative financial stability that the board agreed to upgrade the youth facilities which could potentially make a good difference to us being able to develop young talents into big-money assets.

 

Review of Targets

Football Target: Qualify for the Spanish Second Division play-offs at least once - ACHIEVED

Non-Football Target: Sell at least three players at a higher price than the one that I signed them for - NOT ACHIEVED (0/3)

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Transfer Window - Summer 2018

This was a busy, busy, busy summer, and a really frustrating one as the type of player we need to improve our squad is a grade above what it was last summer, meaning that it's a lot harder to find decent bargains to replace outgoing first team players. We've also struggled financially for much of this window so being uncompetitive in the wage market scuppered a few good-looking deals. However, at the end, we have made another significant profit, with Jawad Amrani, who joined on a free transfer 12 months ago, and Roberto Lanchas, who has developed from a young prospect to a key player in the last 18 months, pulling in over £2.5m alone in moves to First Division clubs. The squad has probably taken a small backward step but I'm fine with that given the profit we've made. Our finances are now finally classed as "Secure" with the club comfortably in the black and stable for the first time since I took over. Hopefully this is the beginning of a long-term upward trajectory.

 

Outs

Jawad Amrani (Winger/Striker, 22, Key Player) to Atlético Pamplona for £1.8m.

Roberto Lanchas (Midfielder, 22, First Team) to Alavés for £850k (rising to £1m).

Jesús Angél Ramirez (Winger, 20, Rotation) to Crotone for £650k (rising to £875k).

Vicente González (Centre Back, 24, Backup) to Crotone for £300k.

Vicente López (Centre Back, 19, Future Prospect) to Léganes for £250k.

Jaime Valiente (Right Back, 31, Key Player) to U. Murcia for £195k (rising to £245k).

Miguel González (Right Back, 24, Not Needed) released on a free transfer.

Francisco Díaz (Centre Back, 32, Backup) released on a free transfer.

Francisco González (Left Midfielder, 20, Youngster) released on a free transfer.

Francisco Antón (Right Back, 20, Youngster) released on a free transfer.

David Alcázar (Centre Back, 20, Not Needed) released on a free transfer.

Antonio Cayarga (Defensive Midfielder, 26, Backup) released on a free transfer.

 

Various promising young players loaned out for the season, some of whom may be ones to watch for 2-3 years time:

Santi Montes, Álejandro Blasco, Juan Pablo Alarcón, Carles Serra, Paco Marcos, Javier González, Juan Nicolás Santos, Paco Pastor, Julio Alberto Lucas, Francisco Martín, Jesús Zabala, Juan Carlos Rodríguez, Santi Del Río Ayete.

 

Ins

Nicolás Martinez (Defensive Midfielder, 22, First Team) from Vigo for £140k.

Damiá Sánchez (Right Back, 22, First Team) for Real San Sebastián for £90k (rising to £99k).

Josue Colmenares (Striker, 23, Rotation) from Alhaurino on a free transfer.

Joaquín Zamora (Winger, 22, Rotation) on a free transfer.

Chus Sánchez (Centre Back, 23, Rotation) on a free transfer.

Javier López (Striker, 21, First Team) on loan from Leicester.

Isidoro Iglesias (Centre Back, 20, Key Player) on loan from Manchester City.

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I've lived out your scenario so many times it's unreal. It happened to me at Leeds a few times. I suffered some of the cruellest ends of seasons you could imagine.

The year I started focusing on a players mentality, ie, how comfortable are they in big games, I won the league. We weren't anything special we just seemed to maintain our performances when it mattered.

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Fuck this.

Just been sacked just after halfway through the next season.

So the season expectations are to get in the playoffs again (despite having to sell £4m worth of fucking players again this summer because our finances and loan repayments are AIDs) and the Media Prediction is that we should finish around 10th. We're having an average season but are hovering around that neck of the woods until we face the top three teams all in a row resulting in two losses and a 0-0 draw. Next we take a disappointing loss to Cordoba and only draw 1-1 with Real  suddenly the board call me in for a meeting about our poor form and demand that I pick up 10 points in the next 5 games, three of which are away from home. Alright, fine, surprisingly we win the first two games 1-0, so all I need to do is get 4 more points from three games. We draw with Malaga (6th) and Alcorcon away (one position below us), and by this time my job security is back up over 50% (Stable) because we're 9th and unbeaten in five games.

We need to win against bottom club Elche to get over 10 points. We go 2-0 up within half an hour, absolutely dominating creating 17 shooting opportunities in the first half, but then suddenly get infected with the Football Manager AIDs of Playing Nervously because... why? Just before half time they crack in a 25 yarder off the post the first time they get in our half. Now we can't pass to each other and it's a repeated cycle of Elche attacking, my goalkeeper ending up with the ball and then booting it out of his hands straight to their defence allowing them to launch another attack while my players stand and watch. Not long before they equalise to get 2-2, and finally we concede a penalty on 65 minutes because my centre back decides to defend a cross by sliding on the ground and wiping out their centre forward from behind while the ball is in midair. 3-2 to Elche, we go onto Overload and no more highlights happen for the last half an hour.

Before the game I think even if we lose this I might keep my job because it isn't even Insecure now but due to the horrible scripted nature of the defeat I knew the game has decided that I'm getting sacked here.

Fuck off.

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So after my little meltdown (which I stand by, by the way, first loss in six games ffs), I am back to add the foreword to a new chapter. I spent a few months unemployed following my exit from Valladolid. While I was still with them, after I completed my Continental B badge, slightly improving my reputation to 45% in the process, I was being offered interviews left, right and centre, most of them from Serie A for some reason, but I set myself two targets at the start with Valladolid and I was yet to meet one of them so even when Napoli came calling, I didn't even bother with an interview because I don't see how a Spanish manager in the second tier would realistically be offered an interview at fucking Napoli (or any Serie A side for that matter) without even applying for the job.

Anyway, the sacking slightly dented my reputation, and at 40% I didn't know which jobs I was likely to get. Having already been head-hunted while still employed by a club, I decided not to apply for anything and see what came up. First came Valencia. LOL. That's like getting sacked by Leeds and being offered a job at Spurs within a few weeks, though to be fair their last three finishes were 11th, 10th and 16th. I went to the interview, but they instead chose Iván Vera, who started my save as Spain manager, probably fair enough. Not long after, I interviewed at Second Division leaders Getafe, who had just seen their manager Mikkel Kammersgaard leave for Chievo. Again, I interviewed well but the club preferred to go with another option, Croatian Ivan Glavas, former Head of Youth Development at Alaves.

The third club to approach me, and the first club that wouldn't have represented at least a small step up from Valladolid, are my new employers, and their name is...

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Rayo Vallecano

The Club: Vallecano are reasonably big business, finishing 8th in La Liga as recently as 2013, but have since developed into a bit of a yo-yo club, having started my save in the Second Division for the first time in six years after being relegated in the 2015-16 season. While I was saving Valladolid from the drop on the last day of the season, Vallecano were celebrating another promotion to the top flight as league winners. Come June 2018, we were bemoaning play-off defeat at Valladolid, while Vallecano were reflecting on a disastrous campaign in La Liga which saw them pick up just 17 points and 4 wins all season.

The Circumstances: At the beginning of the campaign, Rayo Vallecano were expected to continue in a similar manner, with the media backing them to go up in 2nd place. However, the team's performances on the pitch have made an absolute mockery of the club's expectations and at the time of my appointment, we sit in 16th place in the Spanish Second Division, only 3 points above the relegation zone with seven matches to go. It has been a shambles off the pitch as well, Fabrizio Pasquale sacked before Christmas, having only been in charge since the latter stages of last year's relegation season in the top flight, before his successor Juan José Acosta afforded just 71 days before he was sacrificed too, having won just 2 of his 11 games in charge. At the time of my appointment, the club will settle for survival in the Second Division this season, so all I need to do to keep them happy until the summer is to stop the season from spiralling completely out of control. Behind the scenes, the picture at Vallecano is a lot prettier than the one at Valladolid, with the club not needing me to sell key players in every transfer window to keep us in the black. In fact, our finances are classed as "Rich", so I should have a lot more room to maneuver provided I can make it to the summer without also being sacked. This extra money will not tempt me to sway from my Moneyball principles though.

The Targets: Like last time, I will set myself two targets (one competitive, one financial) to achieve before I think about taking any steps up from Rayo Vallecano. Last time I achieved my target of qualifying for the play-offs with Valladolid, but I wasn't around long enough to sell on three of my signings for a profit. I think I'll keep the second target the same this time and be a bit more ambitious with my football-based goal:

  • Target 1: Win promotion to the Spanish First Division
  • Target 2: Sell three players that I brought to the club for a profit.

With just seven games left this season, an update won't be far off, so wish me luck!

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On 7/6/2018 at 00:44, Dan said:

I've lived out your scenario so many times it's unreal. It happened to me at Leeds a few times. I suffered some of the cruellest ends of seasons you could imagine.

The year I started focusing on a players mentality, ie, how comfortable are they in big games, I won the league. We weren't anything special we just seemed to maintain our performances when it mattered.

I vaguely remembered a save I played ages ago as manager of Gent. Three seasons in a row I finished the main phase of the season in first place but then lost the lead when it came down to the weird mini-league the top six becomes at the end of the season, all three times, no matter what I did differently.

It seems to happen to me a lot, my team will absolutely catch fire in the middle of the season and look like we're going to massively overachieve and gain an unprecedented title or promotion, then there's this dip in the last ten games or so where it slowly and painfully gets taken away and we still finish up higher than expected but it still feels like a failure.

Don't get me wrong, there have been enough occasions too where we've carried it on and won the league. In my African journey I remember going straight to Burkina Faso and taking an upper mid-table side to back-to-back titles when they hadn't won one in 20 years, and the same in Algeria with MC Alger winning 2 titles after ten years of not finishing in the top three.

It's just irritating that I rarely seem to steadily overachieve over the course of the season or we do alright and then have a hot streak at the end or whatever, it's always massively overachieve then fall off with mine.

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A small update as to how the season finished up:

The Run-In

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So yeah, not much to report here. My first two games in charge were against Almería (3rd) and Leganés (1st). We were absolutely battered in both games and looked like total shite, we could have had no complaints if we'd lost both games by 3 or 4 goals instead of just one. We sat 16th at the end of April and were only 3 points away from the relegation zone, so I was briefly worried that this team were so bad, we might even face the drop unthinkably.

However, the fixture list was kinder to us for the rest of the season. Albacete, who were eventually relegated, proved to be brittle, completely losing their heads when Sidibé opened the scoring for us in an otherwise cagey match. This was followed by three consecutive home games. Mallorca came to us unbeaten in five, but we completely outplayed them and deserved the victory, even though their goalkeeper seemed to jump out of the way of Dino Mohammed's late winning strike from the edge of the box. Replays confirmed that there was no cruel deflection, just FM goalkeeper retardedness.

Cartagena were the next visitors, and also went to pieces once we broke the deadlock. Our growing confidence was evident in the excellent build up to our third goal. Mid-table Mirandés were our next victims and a 0-0 draw at Numantia, who needed the point to get out of the bottom four, saw us keep a fifth consecutive clean sheet despite the loss of our winning run. Lorca were bottom and already relegated by the time we visited them on the last day. We took a deserved 2-0 lead but got careless, conceding twice in the last 5 minutes of ordinary time which pissed me off until defensive midfielder Alberto Campillo struck a stunning winner in the only five minute appearance I'd given him since taking over.

Needless to say I was pretty happy to finish the season as the form team and directly above those cunts at Valladolid. What next season holds in store for us I don't know, as this team looks to be well-equipped to mount a promotion/playoff challenge next season but I'm not getting my hopes up too much based on the amount of dross we faced in that run-in.

The board has set next season's transfer budget at a whopping £7m. Obviously due to the nature of this save, I don't want to be spending millions of pounds on players who I later hope to sell for a profit so I'll be running the rule closely over players I want to bring in. Ideally I'll be looking at under-25s who are good enough to play for the first team straight away but also have the potential to sell on for a profit when they develop. So probably those with about 3* current ability with at least 3.5* or preferably more potential ability, paying close attention to their determination and professionalism to ensure I get good eggs who will fulfill their potential. We certainly need another striker, probably a goalkeeper too.

One thing that is comment-worthy here is my tactical approach. Instead of having a "system" I've been carefully reading the post-match analysis and data analysis now that I'm at a club which has the money to employ a full team of data analysts and sports scientists and all those other bullshit jobs. This has seen me change formation between matches quite often and set different instructions going into fixtures, such as exploiting the right, the left, the middle, floating crosses, crossing early against teams that concede a lot from crosses, making sure we push forward more during the 15 minute phase of the match where the opposition is most often prone to conceding, I don't know if it's helping much, but it doesn't seem to be doing any harm based on those results.

Anyway, I feel that it is going to be hard finding the exact players I want during this window but hopefully we'll be challenging for promotion next season.

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On 7/26/2018 at 17:15, RandoEFC said:

I vaguely remembered a save I played ages ago as manager of Gent. Three seasons in a row I finished the main phase of the season in first place but then lost the lead when it came down to the weird mini-league the top six becomes at the end of the season, all three times, no matter what I did differently.

It seems to happen to me a lot, my team will absolutely catch fire in the middle of the season and look like we're going to massively overachieve and gain an unprecedented title or promotion, then there's this dip in the last ten games or so where it slowly and painfully gets taken away and we still finish up higher than expected but it still feels like a failure.

Don't get me wrong, there have been enough occasions too where we've carried it on and won the league. In my African journey I remember going straight to Burkina Faso and taking an upper mid-table side to back-to-back titles when they hadn't won one in 20 years, and the same in Algeria with MC Alger winning 2 titles after ten years of not finishing in the top three.

It's just irritating that I rarely seem to steadily overachieve over the course of the season or we do alright and then have a hot streak at the end or whatever, it's always massively overachieve then fall off with mine.

I find this as well and what makes it so frustrating is that you've still got to take the "well we did well really didn't we" when you really want to address why the hell you always collapse.

It's happened with me far too many times and some of the scenarios that have played out have made me wonder if it's almost rigged to annoy you. I clung onto 2nd with Leeds until the very last minute of the season where an Everton goal against already relegated Bolton sent them up and me into the play-offs, which of course, we bottled.

I do think it's got to be player's mentality. I've made this habit of searching for bargains and I wonder if I've glossed over the fact these players struggle in the big games too much purely because I think I'm getting a good deal - that the AI clubs are listing these players cheaply for that precise reason, they're good, but will let you down when you need them most.

It can't be a co-incidence we went up after I focused on having that attribute. I signed a 32 year old Marco Benassi who was mentally excellent and despite us probably not even being as good collectively as the year before, we didn't bottle the games we should win, and even picked up a couple of wins when all logic suggested we shouldn't.

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@Dan which attributes do you look for? In this save I'm always looking for high Determination and preferably a mention of good professionalism or ambition in the personality description, as I know those stats are important for a player to reach their potential ability.

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11 hours ago, RandoEFC said:

@Dan which attributes do you look for? In this save I'm always looking for high Determination and preferably a mention of good professionalism or ambition in the personality description, as I know those stats are important for a player to reach their potential ability.

All depends on the position of course but determination was always one of my big ones as well - it's particularly useful for tutoring as well, never get a player tutoring a younger player unless their determination is higher than the youngster.

I always like to have creativity though. Suppose it's a balance. Midfield for example I always want a steady, defensive player to go alongside a technically creative player. I want to be able to utilise these so called luxury players.

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Time for a mid-season update - could be a lengthy one this...

Summer 2019 - Transfer Window

This was a busy transfer window, which I didn't really want it to be but a lot of players have made noises about leaving following the club's spectacular failure to bounce straight back up following the 2017-18 relegation from the First Division. This is the first window where I've had a positive net spend since the start of my career, but I'm happy that the players I have brought in will improve the squad, reduce the average age, and be sold for a profit in the future if they outgrow Rayo Vallecano.

Outs

Javier Pulido (Right winger, 26, key player) to Eibar for £2.4m (rising to £3.2m) - Pulido was one of the best players in the squad I inherited, but I also have Latyr Mendy and Ibrahima Sidibé who are in the top 5 or so in terms of ability and both of them can also play in Pulido's favoured position of M/AM (R). That's a good fee to bring in as well.

Martín (Goalkeeper, 29, first team) to Sampdoria for £950k - Martín was number one goalkeeper when I took over but he kicked up such a fuss about leaving when the transfer window wasn't open that I dropped him for young Jhon Zambrano who did a fine job at the end of last season so I cashed in on Martín for almost a million pounds.

Francisco Javier Garrido (Left/Centre back, 25, first team) to Atletico Pamplona for £725k (rising to £975k) - I wasn't so keen on letting Garrido go as he was a good option in two places across the back line, but he wanted to leave and he wasn't a guaranteed starter so again, I cashed in.

José Antonio (Striker, 29, backup) to Zaragoza for £350k - This was a bit of a weird one. Like Martín, he seemed to be a first choice player when I took over and was angling for a move back to the top flight, which he eventually got as Zaragoza were promoted at the end of last season, but unlike Martín, his stats and reports don't look nearly good enough to even get in my first team let alone play in the division above. A small fee for a meh player suits me.

Bruno Márquez (Right back, 30, backup) to Cordóba for £70k (rising to £84k) - third choice right back, surplus to retirements and the wrong side of 30, see ya.

Emmanuel Yomby (Defensive midfielder, 29, backup) to Girona for £68k - similarly, surplus to requirements and not getting any younger.

Alberto Campillo (Defensive midfielder, 34, backup) to Pandurii for £60k - If a Romanian side want to give me money for a 34 year old who I don't need I'm not going to argue.

I also released and loaned out a seemingly never-ending supply of youngsters, but to summarise the outgoings, a couple of good players to replace but mostly getting rid of some of the dead wood that were probably the reason we were so far off the top of the Second Division last season. I promoted José Ruiz, 20 years old from Vallecano B, to help reinforce the midfield options slightly, but otherwise it was into the transfer market to try and fill those gaps and build a side good enough to challenge for promotion.

 

Ins

Rafael Reis (Midfielder, 21, key player) from Atlético Madrid for £2m (rising to £2.2m) - This is a relatively sizeable fee for me, so I spent a lot of time weighing this one up, but Reis is a Portugal under 21 international and rated by my scouts as already being good enough for First Division football. He can play as DM, CM or AMC, and has room to develop so eventually I took the plunge on this one.

Luis Marciano (Centre back, 20, first team) from Benfica for £1.1m (rising to £1.3m) - Another Portuguese under 21 signing, I'm very pleased with the fee on this one as another centre half ready for first team football at this level but also with room to develop.

Jorge Álvarez (Left back, 25, key player) from Elche for £825k (rising to £1.1m) - My first signing of the summer. Elche were relegated at the end of last season and I've been able to plunder two of their best players for reduced fees as a result.

David Olcina (Centre back, 23, first team) from Elche for £675k (rising to £750k) - Probably the third choice centre half behind Marciano and the incumbent Rubén Iglesias but a good deal for a player who can probably sit on the bench if and when we get promoted too.

Julián Presa (Goalkeeper, 21, first team) from Sporting Gijon for £650k - Really happy with this one too, already good enough to be our number one goalkeeper and should hopefully develop with us into a top flight stopper.

Joseph Omoregie (Striker, 22, rotation) from Southampton for £190k - A nice fee thanks to Southampton being an affiliate of ours. He has good potential and while I'm not convinced he will fulfill that for some reason, I'm happy with him as an option for this season and sure if he doesn't cut it in the future I can sell him for more than we've paid.

Joao Ferreira (Goalkeeper, 19, backup) from Boavista for £180k - Another Portuguese youngster with mega potential. I've no doubt that one or two of Presa, Zambrano and Ferreira will want to leave in the future but for now this one will serve as our third goalkeeper and hopefully develop nicely in the mean time.

Amadou Ndoye (Left winger, 22, rotation) from Real San Sebastián for £105k - Brought in to add depth on our left hand side, has the potential to become a first team player.

Javier Roldán (Striker, 29, first team) on a free transfer - This one breaks my usual rule of never signing over-25s but his agent offered him on a free transfer and my scouts rated him as a very good signing for the Spanish Second Division. He is capped three times by Spain and had a somewhat decent record at his last club Cagliari.

José López (Centre back, 22, backup) on loan from Espanyol - Brought in as backup late in the window after Eugenio Gutiérrez demanded a loan move away as I couldn't promise him regular starts.

Not much needed to summarise that, I'm happy with the squad for the coming season and even happier about the potential of these players.

 

August/September 2019

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I've combined the first two months as August only saw a couple of matches. Our start to the season was a train wreck and to be honest almost drove me to giving up on the game. Despite having good morale, tactical familiarity etc. going into the first game we lost at home to newly-promoted Ponferrada in what seemed to be pretty inexplicable fashion. This was followed by a visit to Tarragona, where we were poor, but Omoregie's first goal for the club put us ahead in the 90th minute. Obviously I switch to Contain for injury time but the players have no common sense and all but three of them go forward for a 94th minute corner as they usually would, it gets cleared, my goalkeeper inexplicably rushes out of his goal to see the Tarragona cross fly about 10 yards over his head and leaving their forward an open goal to equalise. We were also shite against Almería so that's two home games, two defeats. Logronés, also newly-promoted, hold us to a 1-1 draw and we need a penalty to get on the scoresheet despite having over 20 shots and 9 on target.

Not knowing what the fuck was going on with my team, the Mirandés cup game almost scaled new heights of Football Manager AIDs. We utterly dominate but can only find the net once from our 19 shots this time. Then 87th minute, bam, first highlight that starts in our half since kick-off, free kick lumped into the area, goalmouth scramble, 1-1. If we'd have gone on to lose this penalty shootout, like I say, I probably would have sacked this one off for a while, but we scraped through.

In an attempt to fix our desperate performances though, I changed my tactic and actually looked online for one. I was apprehensive about it because no downloaded tactics have worked very well for me on this version but this one suits my team really well, a pretty normal 4-3-3 with the following roles:

GK - Goalkeeper (Defend)

DR and DL - Complete Wing Backs (Attack)

2x DC - Central Defender (Defend)

DMC - Half Back (Defend)

2x MC - Central Midfielder (Attack)

AMR & AML - Inside Forward (Attack)

ST - False Nine (Support)

Link here if you get interested after reading the rest of the results: 4-1-2-3 Darren

Anyway, it was very satisfying to get our first league win of the season over my old club, lifting us out of the relegation zone and burying them further in it, which we backed up with Reis inspiring victories over Córdoba and high-flying Llagostera.

 

October 2019

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I usually tend to turn my nose up at older players in this save but 34 year old Rinus Vink is in the form of his life, scoring 6 goals in 4 appearances from out wide, helping us to some convincing victories in the process. The battering of Málaga carries us into the 4th Round of the Spanish Cup, allowing us to hit the board's minimum expectations for that competition, while another 8 points in the league carry us back into playoff contention where we belong. I remain surprised at just how effective this new tactic is at keeping the opposition out when both full backs and both central midfielders are committed to attacking duties.

 

November 2019

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Amadou Ndoye's first goal for the club earns us a third consecutive draw as we fail to repeat last month's 4-0 hammering of Málaga. The rest of the month is spot on though. Mirandés actually led at our place, prompting me to make an angry first half substitution which paid off, Roldán leading us to victory on his return from injury with a repeat performance earning us three more points at Cádiz. Lugo are dealt with comfortably at home too.

Elsewhere in the table, note that Granada have conceded just three times in fifteen games. Meanwhile at the other end, Valladolid's form hasn't improved and they have now sacked the manager they replaced me with, finding themselves in the same relegation battle I rescued them from three years ago.

 

December 2019

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A busy and successful month here in the face of a much more challenging timetable. First we go to league leaders Granada and teach them a lesson, or at least half of one, twatting them all over the pitch and leading 2-0 at half time. A good tackle from Dino Mohammed fell to one of their players early in the second half who had the goal at his mercy, got one back, and they used this momentum to dominate the second half and claw it back to 2-2 late on, only for Ndoye to sneak the victory for us at the death. Next up was Valencia, who were in absolutely tragic form when they came to us, and got punished accordingly. This 4-0 loss was followed by another 4-0 loss to Alavés in the top flight before their manager was sacked. Newly-promoted Toledo were in playoff contention before we played them and proved hard to break down but we got through eventually. Next up was U. Murcia, relegated last season. We were pretty poor here and deserved to trail 1-0 until a flurry of goals, clinically taken by Vink and Sidibé turned the match on its head with U. Murcia's late second goal not enough to stop us moving to the top of the table ahead of Granada who now seem to have lost their shit.

Following 4-0 losses to us and Alavés and the sacking of their manager, Valencia were then twatted 5-0 by Villarreal as their season spirals out of control. A weakened Vallecano side comfortably progresses to the next round of the cup with Roldán scoring an early header to eliminate any lingering doubt about the outcome of the tie. We won't go into the short summer break on top of the league after all though, as our 18 game unbeaten run is finally ended by mid-table Racing Santander in a manner that I find pretty hard to accept but hey-ho. Overall, I can have no complaints about the first half of this campaign.

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The second half of this season took fucking ages (at least that means I didn't get sacked), and this update is probably going to be longer than I'd liked again but fuck it, here's the second half of the 2019-2020 season for Rayo Vallecano.

Transfer Window - January 2020

I'm not going to lie, this transfer window threw a massive curve ball our way with the loss of no less than four first team players. We managed to replace them at a profit though, and I don't think we've suffered more than a minor dip in quality as a result. Here are the transfers of note:

 

Outgoings

Dino Mohammed (Midfielder, 28, First Team) to Sporting Gijon for £1.6m - probably could have held out for more here but Mohammed wanted to move to the First Division this window so I didn't stand in his way.

José Antonio Cano (Left Back, 31, Backup) to Granada for £120k - our third choice left back but still a good player, good enough for one of our promotion rivals, but no need to keep him around.

Sergio Álvarez (Right Back, 27, Backup) on loan to Zaragoza - with Angel Luis nailing down the right back role for us, both backups Álvarez and Simon wanted to leave. Álvarez agreed this loan deal first to top flight relegation strugglers Zaragoza so he left and Francisco Simon sticks around as second choice right back.

Josu Martinez (Defensive Midfielder, 31, Rotation) to Oviedo for £400k - Martinez is a decent option to rotate in and out of midfield, but having just turned 31, £400,000 is a great deal for us and I decided to let him go.

Antonio Serra (Defensive Midfielder, 23, Key Player) to Las Palmas for £3.4m - this one pissed me off to be honest, as promotion rivals Las Palmas activate the £3.4m release clause for our club captain on deadline day leaving us in the lurch. We offered Serra a new contract after they came in but he chose to leave.

Rubén Iglesias (Centre Back, 30, First Team) to Atlético Pamplona for £1m - our mainstay in centre half, but I was happy enough with our strength in depth to let him go for another chunk of money. Age and preventing a kick off for denying him a move to the top flight were also factors in this decision.

Latyr Mendy (Forward, 23, First Team) to Atlético Pamplona for £2.3m (rising to £2.8m) - Mendy was our top scorer last season but after his injury has struggled to find form so far this year, just 4 goals in 18 appearances. It's a great financial deal for us and I think we can get along fine without him. The downside is that Serra, Iglesias and Mendy all left on deadline day which caused a bit of a panic sorting replacements.

 

Incomings

Óscar Freitas (Midfielder, 24, Rotation) from Elche for £850k - our third sub-one-million signing from relegated Elche to go with Jorge Alvarez and David Olcina in the summer. This one is a replacement for the outgoing Dino Mohammed.

Pedro López (Defensive Midfielder, 23, Key Player) from Málaga for £1.9m (rising to £2.4m) - essentially my replacement for Antonio Serra. Coach reports already suggest he's one of our best players which at 23 and at that price is pretty sound.

Pedro Miguel Lopes Sousa (Centre Back, 19, First Team) from Benfica for £700k (rising to £1m) - yet another Portuguese player joins the squad, this one to replace Iglesias in defence. He's almost as good as him already with the potential to be better and an age reduction of 11 years so happy with this.

Adrián Nuno (Midfielder, 23, Rotation) from Lugo for £1.1m - Another young midfielder to bolster our options in that area in the absence of Mohammed, Martinez and Serra.

Alberto Luis (Forward, 21, Rotation) from Barcelona for £1.5m (rising to £1.7m) - A replacement for Mendy, Luis will be rotated with the likes of Vink and Sidibé in the short term but with 4.5* potential ability is a really exciting prospect for the long term.

 

Overall, I'm very happy with the changes to the squad in the long term but not so happy that we've had such an overhaul mid-season. The quality should still be there to maintain a promotion challenge, and this should be the last really busy transfer window for a while, but I'm concerned about the disruption of losing captain Serra (who is replaced in his role by Rafael Reis) and centre half Iglesias and how that might affect us on the pitch.

 

Results to come in a few minutes...

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January 2020

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What the fuck is this actual scheduling AIDs in the Spanish Cup/Copa del Rey? Is it really necessary to play all of the fifth round, quarter final and semi final games in six consecutive Wednesdays then take three months off before the final? Ridiculous. Anyway, we start the month with a pretty frustrating draw at Girona, before facing First Division Real San Sebastian in the Spanish Cup 5th Round. Surprisingly, we give them the business, their away goal the only blot on our performance.

Reis scores in back to back league games to help us to another six points either side of our second leg against Real San Sebastian. Roldán's early header cancels out their away goal with Vink killing the tie before half time. Our opponents get a couple of late goals back, but we've still battered them 6-3 on aggregate and go through to face Atletico Madrid in the quarter finals.

Our illustrious visitors, the defending Champions League winners, take an early 2-0 lead at our place in the first leg, but we fight back with Freitas' deflected shot turning the tie on 29 minutes. Vink takes his Spanish Cup goal tally into double figures with a second half brace before centre back Marciano gave us a two goal cushion to take to the away leg. Apparently we can't hold onto our 1-0 lead over Tarragona who have now done the double over us, but we can go to Atleti and finish an emphatic 5-2 aggregate win off with Vink, weeks away from his 35th birthday, on the scoresheet again. We're into the Copa del Rey semis! Looks like I forgot to screenshot the league table this time.

 

February 2020

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A return to form in the league sees us defeat Logronés 3-0, Alberto Luis amongst the goalscorers on his debut for the club, but it doesn't last long as we take disappointing defeats to Almería and Cordoba throughout the month who both languish in the bottom half. We do at least manage to complete a league double over Valladolid but we've now slipped to five points behind Granada in the promotion chase.

The obvious highlight of the month is our Copa del Rey semi final success over defending champions Celta Vigo. Freitas opens his Vallecano account with a 15 minute hat-trick in the first half of the first leg to give us lift off, with three early goals in the away leg killing Vigo's hopes of a turnaround in a chaotic 5-3 win, littered with defensive and goalkeeping errors on both sides. This mental run, which saw us scrape by Mirandés in our first game before dismantling four top flight opponents in a row over two legs, takes us to the Spanish Cup Final against Real Madrid in May.

 

March 2020

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With the distraction of the workload-doubling Spanish Cup on the back burner for now, we see an upturn in our fortunes come our way in the league, starting with a 3-0 win away at 4th placed Llagostera. Sidibé has returned from injury with style and Vink is scoring penalties for fun, but I still can't put my finger on the random defeats to shit teams like Huesca. The previously invincible Granada lose their last two games allowing us to close the gap to the automatic promotion spots to two points.

 

April 2020

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Our worst patch of the season sees our automatic promotion hopes pretty much up in flames now. An unforgivable capitulation at Mirandés sees us blow a two goal lead by conceding twice in the last five minutes, before we surrender our lead to Las Palmas after taking the lead in their back yard. More points pissed away as Málaga also come from behind to beat us 2-1, leaving us with just 1 point from three consecutive games where we'd taken the lead. A late flurry of goals from Ndoye and Luis see a brief return to form against Cádiz, but in form Granada outplay us on our own patch to end a disappointing month for us in a game that we could have lost by more.

 

May/June 2020

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Only one game in June to finish the season so these are combined into a single list. Looks like I also forgot to snap the league table before the playoffs and I can't post that now without giving away the playoff results. This is a pretty good month for us, a solid win at Lugo followed by a disappointing loss at Toledo who hadn't won in about 10 games before this one. With the outside possibility of us even slipping out of the playoffs creeping in, I'm happy enough with a rare goalless draw against league leader U. Murcia, but a superb second half performance against Racing Santander moves us back up to 3rd place and pretty much allays those fears.

It is good preparation for our Spanish Cup Final date with Real Madrid, where we ended up getting outclassed unsurprisingly. Neither team had a shot on target in the first half, and actually we seemed to get closer to forming real chances, but Madrid took the lead early in the second half after upping the ante, before Ndoye picks up a silly red card for us following a two-footed challenge on their right back. We threw players forward anyway in the closing stages and ended up getting done for a second goal on the break. Oh well, runners up is pretty decent at the moment.

Finally we finish off with a couple of wins against Girona and Numantia. Three league wins on the bounce and four consecutive clean sheets should help us carry good momentum into the playoffs. Las Palmas, Málaga and Tarragona will join us, all three of them also winning their last two regular season games.

 

Playoffs

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This tie was stressful as fuck. Tarragona appeared to have Peter Schmeichel in goal for the first leg, making a series of ridiculous saves before they really took the game by the scruff of the neck, coming from behind twice to win 3-2. While I was pissed off at losing to Tarragona for a third time this season, the away goals were a big positive and eventually saw us through the tie. We dominated the second leg but I was convinced after López failed to kill the tie from the penalty spot late on that some good old FM centre back having a stroke AIDs was about to occur and see Tarragona win it at the death, but we held out and made it to the Playoff Final.

 

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That's right bitches. The first leg saw one of the worst displays of finishing I've ever seen on this game as we can only manage to find the net once with Omoregie's header out of about 12 shots, and that only an equaliser after Las Palmas obviously score the first time they get out of their half. Captain Rafael Reis restores the lead in the second half, we fuck it up again, but Alberto Luis puts us ahead and we actually manage to make it stick. With a goal advantage and three away goals in the bank, the second leg is surprisingly not too sweaty as we create the much better chances again, but aren't punished for our wastefulness as Las Palmas can't even find the goal to level the tie on aggregate, let alone the extra one they'd need to make up for our away goal, we're fucking promoted! Note that our former captain Antonio Serra picks up a booking and a ticket to another season in the Second Division having turned down his new contract at Vallecano in January in favour of a move to Las Palmas. Kudos to my young squad and 22 year old captain for not getting done over by the "Playing Nervously" virus in this massive tie.

 

Targets

Win promotion to the Spanish First Division (1/1).

Sell three players that I have bought for a profit (0/3).

Like I did with Valladolid, we've achieved the footballing target in the first full season by winning promotion to the top flight, albeit through the play-offs. Before I move on to bigger challenges, I'll have to see a few of my young signings grow up and move on to bigger things for big money, so for the next couple of seasons I'll stick to the Moneyball principles and see what we can do in the top flight, hopefully without getting relegated back to the Second Division! I think we'll be fine though having already got partially stuck into the transfer window this summer.

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xD totally agree about the Spanish schedule. It's absolutely ridiculous. I've never seen anything like it. I thought it was a glitch on the game when I managed in Spain but they really do cram their January a silly amount. Don't think we can really complain about our schedule in England if you measure it against that.

Congrats on promotion. Did very well to see it through given the cup distractions (there's more weight to this argument in Spain!) and losing many key players at a shitty time. I went up in a very similar style as Las Palmas manager when I was in charge there and it's a stressful, albeit hugely satisfying system when you beat it.

Now the fun really begins. Maintain those fundamentals and climb the pyramid.

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ON WE GO...

Transfer Window - Summer 2020

The post-promotion transfer window, is there anything better on Football Manager when your scouting page suddenly opens up in the light of a bunch of your previously unrealistic transfer targets are suddenly interested in joining your team? We had some serious fun this transfer window and I grow increasingly happy that this squad is good enough to compete in the top flight for years to come.

 

Outs

Ibrahima Sidibé (Winger, 27, First Team) to Young Boys for £3.9m - Sidibé has been an important player over the course of my first season and a half at Vallecano but by no means indispensable. He actually requested a transfer late last season when automatic promotion became mathematically impossible for us, the game deeming that as me "breaking my promise" to get us promoted last season even though we did it through the playoffs. That's some good dollar to replace an unhappy player.

Josué Crespo (Winger, 17, Hot Prospect) to Atletico Madrid for £1.1m - One of our youth players. Atleti met the release clause and he chose their contract offer over mine so see ya. He was at least a couple of years from our first team so not really upset about this one. As he joined the club as a youth product while I was manager I'm counting this as one of my three sell-ons that have made a profit for the club.

Francisco Simón (Right Back, 30, Backup) to Astra Giurgiu for £400k - Simón has been unhappy with his role as a backup for a while, and although he was a good option last season, his age, role, happiness and doubtful ability to cut it in the top flight make this a no-brainer and he's off to Romania.

Sergio Álvarez (Right Back, 27, Backup) to Valladolid for £275k (rising to £350k) - After being loaned out last season, Álvarez now leaves permanently to join my old club. Again, a decent option in the Second Division but not worth a place in the squad this season.

Eugenio Gutiérrez (Centre Back, 25, Backup) to Valladolid on a Free Transfer - Spent last season out on loan, which I agreed to reluctantly at the time, but he didn't pull up many trees and agreed an end of contract move before I really bothered to consider renewing his deal with us for another year.

Miguel Alarcón (Defensive Midfielder, 17, Backup) on loan to Mallorca - Promoted from Vallecano B late last season, Alarcón did a good job in a smattering of first team appearances, but isn't ready to continue that process in the top flight yet so will spend a year on loan at Second Division Mallorca.

Álvaro Blanco (Right Back, 18, Backup) on loan to Cadiz - Basically see exactly what I said about Alarcón. Blanco is rated as a future top flight full back and made some impressive appearances last season while Simón was sulking. Another season in the Second Division for you.

Joao Ferreira (Goalkeeper, 20, Backup) on loan to Logrones - A third first team squad player spending a season out on loan. Of our three young goalkeepers he's the third best right now but with the greatest potential. He requested a loan to get some first team football so he's in the Second Division too this year.

 

Ins

Xavier Duenas (Right Back, 24, First Team) from Vigo for £5.25m (rising to £6m) - I've tried to sign Duenas at least once before but he chose to go to First Division Vigo where he has since fallen out of favour. The fee is the biggest I've paid but with a release clause of £22m, there is significant resale value in this one and he's ready made for a club of our level to contend with Angel Luis for the right back spot.

Alberto Marín (Centre Back, 22, First Team) from Las Palmas for £4m (rising to £4.6m) - I've paid more than I hoped here, but in a bid to improve our defensive options with a pacey centre half to suit our high line which is susceptible to counter attacks, we've brought in a new hopefully first choice centre back for years to come.

Hernán Lucero (Attacking Midfielder, 23, Key Player) from Getafe for £1.1m (rising to £1.6m) - With Getafe one of the sides relegated from the top flight last season, Lucero was one of several players happy to move on and therefore available at a reduced price. This is a great deal for us given the age and potential of this Argentine who I will be playing as a false nine despite his "natural" position being attacking midfield.

Daniel Mauro (Attacking Midfielder, 18, First Team) from Alianza for £750k - An early reward for my more detailed approach towards global scouting in the past few months. This Peruvian teenager was available for direct approach and moves to Spain already rated as a First Division player at the age of just 18 and for a compensation fee of less than £1m. He will have to adapt to the role of central midfielder in my system though.

Abylaikhan Bakhtiiarov (Midfielder, 18, Hot Prospect) from Ordabasy for £450k - Another gem this time hidden in Kazakhstan. He has the potential to compete in the Spanish First Division but is a long way short of that for now so is loaned back immediately to his former club to continue his development.

David Martin (Winger, 23, First Team) from Liverpool on a Free Transfer - A real end of contract coup for us. This Nigerian/English winger will make a solid replacement for Ibrahima Sidibé at a tidy profit for us.

 

Typing this up now the transfer window was busier than it seemed at the time but I couldn't be much happier with my squad at this stage. There are now just a handful of players left who are significantly older than mid-20s in the first team and most of these already have players below them ready to step into their place in the team. For the immediate future, I have two full line-ups that I'm happy are good enough for the top flight so it's all looking pretty rosy. Time for the season to start.

 

August 2020

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So apparently when one team wins the league and the cup, the other team in the Super Cup is the Spanish Cup runners-up, in this case Rayo Vallecano. We lose 3-0 on aggregate, not too bad, and lose 3-0 again when we have the pleasure of beginning our league campaign at the Bernabeu. With that shit out of the way, captain Rafael Reis and youngster Meca who spent last season on loan at Logrones and came back ready to be promoted from Vallecano B, get our home campaign off to a winning start.

 

September 2020

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As I suspected/feared, this season is going to have a touch of chaos about it. Leganés was the biggest frustration of the month as we lost a 2-0 lead and ended up scraping a draw with a late equaliser. New signings Martin, Lucero and Mauro are already making their presence felt going forward but our very open and attacking style is leaving us exposed and seeing many goals at both ends. The end result is us winning three of our first six though and sitting 5th at this early stage of the campaign.

 

October 2020

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Yeah, we're doing absolutely fine here. Getting into the bottom three of twenty clubs takes some real bad runs of results and while we're wildly inconsistent, if we carry on like this there will be no threat of going back down. Luis' late winner against our fellow high-flyers Levante is the highlight of the month and while we've cut down on the goals conceded we're still yet to notch a clean sheet this season.

 

November 2020

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A really sloppy home defeat to U. Murcia is the first really concerning result of the season, but we bounce back with Reis, our young club captain in sparkling form this season, bagging a late winner in our mid-table clash with Real San Sebastian. Granada got promoted with us and are only a few points behind us in the table, also enjoying their time in the top flight, didn't enjoy our visit where Roldán, who has usurped the misfiring Lucero up front for the time being, scoring his first of the season in a game that finally saw us keep a clean sheet at the 13th attempt. Sevilla's early goal is enough to end this month with a loss though we were unlucky not to get back into it.

 

December 2020

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19 year old Roberto Meca is establishing himself as a first team regular amid interest from Lyon, Napoli and other European giants, his away goal key in handing us momentum in our Spanish Cup tie against Granada. Captain Reis continues his fine form and is now our top goalscorer from central midfield, another 4-0 win on the road and a few more clean sheets for us. The only real blot on this month before the winter break is the crazy 5-3 defeat away to 3rd-placed Espanyol, a game in which we were overwhelmed having led 3-2 at half-time.

 

Overall, we're having a very strong first season back in the top flight and only a truly desperate run in the second half of the campaign will see us sucked into a relegation fight. We're only three points off a European spot actually, so if we can find a bit more consistency then you never know what we could achieve.

In the last few weeks I've turned down interviews at Valencia, Atletico Pamplona, Real San Sebastian, Werder Bremen and Gelsenkirchen, before signing a three-year contract extension at Rayo Vallecano. Obviously I have chosen not to move on from the club until I've hit my two targets. Getting promoted was one of them so that's ticked off and I need to sell on two more players at a profit to hit my second target. It wouldn't be much of a Moneyball save anyway if I moved on after less than two years.

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