The German Wilderness

After the highs of winning the World Cup with Brazil came the trophy-less wilderness that was Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga…although I did have one trophy-less season with Hertha before my World Cup glory. Did I mention I’ve won the World Cup? I feel like Franck Lebouf…

We managed to avoid relegation and I include the relegation playoff in that, thanks to a 1-0 over Bochum at home. Not exactly a great game for the neutral and we should have done a lot better but we got the job done. We don’t have a lot of money to play with and the squad is in need of a massive overhaul because…well…it’s complete and utter rubbish. Sadly, I can’t attract the types of players I’d need to achieve what I want so it’s the young regen market with potential for me.

After some wheeling and dealing I felt quite positive about the season ahead. A 4-1 demolition of Bayern Munich at home was the main reason behind my optimism but that didn’t last too long to be honest. Success wasn’t on the card this season as we struggled yet again and only just managed to avoid relegation. This time it was thanks to a 2-1 win over Schalke on the final day of the season. Up until this point I was actually enjoying the save but my enthusiasm has started to drain somewhat due to my inability to lift this club up to where I believe it should be. We have improved our data analysis facilities, our training facilities and everything to do with our youth setup too. So we ARE making progress, just not on the pitch YET.

In my final season as Hertha Berlin manager we started to show what we were capable of. We had also agreed a deal to buy the stadium but I didn’t realise the huge loan that it would cost the club to acquire it. So I had inadvertently given myself an even tougher job by restricting our finances further. However, I had already decided that I was going to leave the club at the end of the season regardless of what happened. I wanted to start challenging for trophies at club level again and when my board decided to sell my best striker in Ciaran Graham, I knew I had made the right decision. I don’t tolerate the board undermining my authority at the club and selling my best players without my permission. If you look at Ciaran and his attributes you can understand why I wanted to keep him.

Juventus came calling, Spain came calling…and the unexpected happened.

World Cup Time Baby!

The World Cup was being held in China and we went there with expectations of returning home victorious. I think precarious is the best word to describe our group stage performances. We beat Congo 2-0 but lost to the USA which put us in a very difficult position. A win against Italy and the USA v Congo result wouldn’t really matter BUT we don’t like to make life easy for ourselves. We drew 0-0 with Italy and needed to rely on Congo doing us a favour by stealing a point or taking all three. If not, we were on the verge of going out…early.

Thankfully the drama dissipated the moment I discovered that the USA failed to beat Congo and thus, we managed to qualify for the knockout stages. Our opponents would be Belgium and they would prove to be as useful as a chocolate tea pot as we comfortably beat them 1-0. You can have comfortable 1-0 wins right?

After Belgium we were given the delightful task of beating France in the quarter finals. We did that…just about but only on penalties. I don’t think I’ve ever been this nervous in a penalty shootout since Manchester United played Chelsea in the final of the Champions League in Moscow all those years ago. This time, however, I didn’t promise to become a religious man if the Chelsea penalty taker slipped…

Another solid performance defensively but offensively we were lacking something. Even Neymar couldn’t get us ticking along in front of goal. The tight, nervy affairs were to continue though as we just about edged past England 1-0 to book a place in the final against Spain.

Virtually injury free but Neymar was a huge doubt after picking up a knock against England. I chose not play him and gave other players the opportunity to win my first international competition in FM18.

In rather stupid fashion I forgot to take a screenshot at the end of the game. Such was my delight at the result I did jump around my room and run around the apartment in my boxers for a few minutes after winning the World Cup 2-1 thanks to Rafinha, Malcolm and a bit of luck with Spain’s Asensio missing a penalty.

So there you go. I’ve not won a league title yet but I’ve managed to win a number of cup competitions along the way, most notably the World Cup. Ok, so winning the World Cup with Brazil is like winning Ligue 1 with Paris St.Germain but you can only beat what’s put out in front of you.

So what next? I resigned from Brazil…

 

Hi Ho Hi Ho It’s Off to Brasilia We Go!

Being stuck in the unemployment queue is never a pleasant experience. Even in a fictional universe. However, it wasn’t long before I was plying my managerial trade once again but this time, not anywhere near Europe…for a while. I took the leap all the way to Brasilia as I took on World Cup winning expectations with Brazil and a massive pay rise to boot.

So without knowing it, I’ve been in Brazil a day and acquired a huge sun tan. I hope I can keep it and never go back to being all Irish/German and all pasty white again. Now lets get down to business.

Brazil have a fantastic squad and they were well on their way to qualifying for the World Cup already. So I can’t take credit for that, although I did maintain their unbeaten record in the qualifying group. Not only that but we won the Superclasico after beating Argentina 2-0, which, so happened to be my first game in charge. Neymar and Jesus would continue to be vital to the success of this team during my tenure and beyond that.

One thing I normally do during an international management stint is keep an eye on other job openings. I don’t like to just manage a nation by itself. Managing a club is very important for me, otherwise I’ll just get bored. So I took over at Hertha Berlin after they sacked Frank Schmidt in December. My target? Avoid relegation at all costs and keep the club in the Bundesliga.

Avoiding relegation will be hard given how poor their squad is and I haven’t had the best of starts. After taking over on the 18th of December we lost to Bayern Munich 4-3 in the Third Round of the DFB-Pokal before enjoying a mid-season break. The benefit of such a break? My players needed to get used to my change of formation and tactics.The mid-season break allows me to work on that. Not that it made much difference! Four MASSIVE defeats in the space of seven games with a 7-1 thrashing by Bayern Munich, 5-2 smashing by Stuttgart, a smaller 3-0 defeat to Leverkusen and a 4-0 slip up to Dortmund brought morale to its lowest point. I was seriously doubting my ability as a manager to turn things around.

There’s not much more to report on Brazil wise as I continue to put all of my efforts into keeping Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga. The World Cup is looming though and I am keeping an eye on those who might make my squad.

Can I do the unthinkable and keep one team in their division and win the World Cup with the other?

Time will tell.

 

Where’s the bottle?

From a personal point of view my managerial attributes are improving and I am close to maxing out my coaching qualifications. Still completely mystified as to how or why I am managing Chelsea but I am enjoying it.

If we evaluate last season on the whole, yes it was disappointing. Cup wise we were very poor but at least in the league we pushed Manchester United all the way. With the amount of young talent brought into the club, my second season was always going to be a tricky one to negotiate. I’d argue the third and fourth seasons would be too as the players need time to develop together.

We didn’t start too badly to be perfectly honest but the Premier League season is a marathon and not a sprint. Maintaining a good run of form is vital but we all know that. Top of the league is something to be proud of but fans and followers alike will wonder if we choke this season yet again.

My first trophy at Chelsea was the EFL Cup after we beat Crystal Palace 2-0. We were never really troubled during the game with Kurt Zouma powering a header home late in the first half to give us the lead. Gabriel Jesus answered my call in the second half to kill the game off and he did with a delightful volley in the 84th minute.

Despite winning the EFL Cup it was at the expense of our league form. Losing to teams we really shouldn’t have lost too didn’t help the situation, nor did my squad’s lack of experience in certain areas of the pitch. We did however, beat Manchester United 2-0 in the quarter final of the FA Cup in my 100th Chelsea game in charge. We subsequently beat Middlesbrough 3-1 in the semi-final which was a good thing. Before the game I received this message…

Abramovich was losing patience with me and I was losing patience with him and his stupidity. I just can’t understand his lack of long term vision. When we beat Middlesbrough the goalscorers were Seri, Jesus and Chelsea’s very own Tammy Abraham. I told the lads before the game what utter shit Roman had been saying to me and they stepped up to book another place at Wembley. Southampton would be the victims of a mighty assault as I looked to secure my second trophy as Chelsea manager.

My boys truly delivered in fine fashion as speculation surrounding my position at the club continued to whirl around Stamford Bridge.  FA Cup winners and regardless of what happens now I can be very happy with the progress we made trophy wise this season. We still qualified for the Champions League in fourth place but we finished so far behind Manchester United that some doubters were given more ammunition to shoot me with. I’d argue that Manchester United were just far too good for everyone, not just me.

Despite my FA Cup victory the board wanted me to meet with them to discuss my low performance this season. I have to say, I was outraged at such a thought so I told them to shove it where the sun don’t shine and well…this happened.

Where too next?

(For awesome screenshots I’d recommended Gyazo. I’ve started using it and it’s a fantastic tool).

Oh Chelsea Chelsea! Give us a wave!

Welcome to choke-ville as we fluff our chances of winning the Premier League title in my first season as Chelsea manager. With three games left we were sitting nicely on top of the league, flying high with a pie in the sky. Then we came crashing down like a giant turd thrown out of a university dorm window landing with a great big SPLAT on the grey, concrete blocks of despair.

By the time the humiliating defeat at the hands of Sunderland at Stamford Bridge came around, the title had already been secured by Manchester United. Willian and Morata performed well during the season but our lack of a clinical striker was our own undoing. A team in transition with a lack of quality in very area of the pitch leads me to believe that we overachieved. The board think otherwise.

Following the disappointment of failing this season came the board’s expectations for next season. Nothing less than winning the Premier League title appears to be acceptable and the pressure is on like Donkey Dong. Luckily I had PLENTY of money to spend…so I spent it quickly. I really needed too as I lost my best players.

As mentioned in an earlier post, I had taken over a team in transition with ageing players and others wanting to leave to go onto bigger and better things. Willian, Alaba, Hazard and Rugani were my biggest losses of the summer transfer window but I was confident of improving upon my second placed position with the young talent I had brought in.

Leon Goretzka signed from Schalke for £69m and is somebody I always buy in FM games. He is starting to really make a name for himself in real life and his versatility in midfield is vital to any team chasing success.

Niklas Sule was easier to prise away from his club than Goretzka and signed for just under £27m. His height and physicality at centre back were sorely needed with Rugani leaving and the club managed to make some profit in the process. Win win.

Julian Brandt is an absolute gem of a left winger. I’ve had my reservations about signing him in the past but with Hazard leaving a gaping whole out wide I needed to take the risk. £72m he cost me in the end and I hope it’s money well spent in the end.

Franck Kessie is an Ivorian juggernaut in midfield and worth every penny of the £42m I paid for him. He adds further strength and depth in the centre of my midfield.

After the defeat to Sunderland I bumped into Gabriel Jesus on holiday and saw him dancing on the beach. “Call me” he said, so I waited the usual three days before calling… and he signed for me for a princely sum of £49m. Worth every penny in my book as he can assist and score goals from anywhere on the pitch.