AF Diary #13
After the glory of the World Cup, won in dramatic fashion by Brian Hates-Liverpool, I was faced with a new challenge. As part of my attempt to win every league in the game there was nothing left for me to do at Bayern Munich. Germany was effectively complete. Also Argentina, having captured the World Cup, had won every single trophy they could. There was nothing left. It was time for a new challenge at club and International level.
The club move ended up being quite easy. I was expecting to have to continually monitor who was going where as the managerial merry-go-round got weirder after I vacated Bayern and got people moving around. PSG immediately offered me a job. France is also completed so that’s a no. Little did I realise a different merry-go-round was already underway. Marcelo Gallardo (who won four straight titles at Man City and got so bored he moved to Leipzig for a new challenge) had moved to Real Madrid (who finished 5th last year. FIFTH!)
This in turn freed up Leipzig and Jurgen Klopp decided to head back to Germany before Atletico Madrid fired him. This freed up Atletico Madrid and Domenico Tedesco jumped in there. This is the key one as it freed up Porto. The Portuguese league is relatively straightforward as either Porto or Benfica win it. So that’s already a 50-50 shot. Since the game started Benfica have 10 titles, Porto have 6 titles. Benfica have won the last two and have the best squad. Porto’s squad needs a little work. There’s £34M to play with.
I have signed 13 players. A few names you will recognize because they’re real players. I signed Erling Haland! He’s 34 now and has recently had terrible stints with Everton and Shakhtar Donetsk but most of the games in this league will be pretty easy so he’ll be fine. I’ve also brought in Vinicius Junior on loan from Inter Milan. He was pretty good in Serie A last year with 6 goals and 8 assists. Inter paid £42M for him just three years ago. Again, this is a league he can still do well in despite his advanced years.
The club had one right back when I got there. A 34 year old Italian who wanted to go back to Italy and was badly deteriorated. So he’s gone and, as per usual, I got so panicky about there being no movement I ended up with three right backs. Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings, Crystal Palace) joins for £1.4M. He’s pretty decent but easily the worst defender in my back four. 29 year old Slovenian Goran Kovacic signs from Everton on loan. He’s probably the starting right back this season. Also I’ve gained 18 year old Finn Ville Makinen as one for the future. I’m signing players like I intend to be here for a while.
I also brought in Pedro Neves, who was one of my first signings at Anderlecht, as he was available on a free. In the second game he fucked his cruciate ligaments and is out for the season. He’s already talking about becoming a scout when he retires. I’ve gone back to Anderlecht for the defence too; bringing in Ricardo Goossens, who was a youth player back in the day, on loan. He slots straight into the starting eleven as I have gotten rid of a Japanese centre back who was desperate to move to Spain for reasons I don’t understand.
Finally I signed Azard Harte from Arsenal for £18M. He is a bit old but I really needed a striker on short notice and he’ll be one of the best players in this league. Porto have an 18 year old striker with ***** potential so Harte will be his mentor. Or Haland. This is my starting eleven:
- Evan McNally. He’s an Australian keeper. 32. By far the best goalie at the club.
- Goran Kovacic. 29 year old Slovenian right back on loan from Everton.
- Alfredo Torres. 23 year old Mexican left back. Featured in the media select eleven in the season preview screen.
- Jiri Kraut. Every presser they ask me when he’s leaving. 31 year old central defender, targeted by most major European teams. Currently my best player.
- Ricardo Goossens. 22 year old Anderlecht loanee. Solid and reliable. Better positioned as a stopper than a ball playing defender.
- Marcel Lange. 30 year old deep lying playmaker. Likes to ping passes around from deep.
- Enes Coppens. 33 year old inside forward. He’s ideal for the formation I want to play although his age is a concern. There is a backup called Francois Grange but he’s more of a winger.
- Jefferson Perez Betancur. Jeff for short. 21 years old, mezzala. Bit tricky.
- Azard Harte. 31 year old bully of a centre forward. In the top three players at the club.
- Bruno Pinho. I wanted to play with a defensive midfielder but discovered the club didn’t have any because the league is a joke. So instead it’s AMC time and Pinho is frankly brilliant.
- Kevin Thomas. Well, he’ll share time with Vinicius Junior. He was injured when I got here and he’s not recovered yet so I have no idea if he’ll fit in.
Gianluigi Venturi; bad Italian back up keeper.
Ville Makinen; good Finnish back up right back.
Rui Viera; got him on the cheap, can play anywhere across the back four. My new Ariel Prieto.
Ramiro Denis; back up left back who seems pretty decent
Saico Balde; “Psycho”. Backup for the midfield lads.
Justin Moreau; AMC. Got him on a free from an agent offer.
Erling Haland; legend.
Benfica 2 Porto 0
The Supertaca, the Portuguese version of the Community Shield. There was nothing super about this. We had 62% possession and they did us on the break twice, the cheeky bastards. One of the goals came from Gerard Cazorla who I tried to sign.
Porto 5 Nacional da Madeira 1
I honestly don’t know if this is good or not. Madeira might be complete pants. Enes Coppens helped himself to a hattrick here. Harte scored and got injured.
Boavista 0 Porto 4
A couple more for Coppens. 18 year old Fabio Clemente played up top here because Harte was injured and I’d got Haland on the left of attack because Pedro Neves had done his knee in. They had a player sent off at 2-0 and promptly got smashed. Jeff got the fourth. Clemente scored a pen.
Porto 2 Sporting 0
I looked through Sporting’s squad pretty thoroughly and they’re very good. Easily the third team in Portugal. They had the first four highlights of this game before Erling Haland scored a beauty and four minutes later added a second and killed the game off.
Table looks decent. See that National de Madeira, who we smashed, have a win? Benfica. Makes me feel very good about that 5-1 and seeing Benfica drop points against a team of scrubs makes me hopeful that they’ve come in super complacent.
Champion’s League Group Draw:
That could have been easier, frankly. It is the Champion’s League so it was always going to be tough. Napoli won Serie A last year. Monaco were second in France and the only real competition for PSG. Villareal got in because of Real Madrid having a terrible season. We may end up completely out of Europe to be honest. The board’s expectation was to make it to the group stage so they don’t care. It’s fine.
Vit. Guimaraes 4 Porto 2
Oh fuck me, what a disaster this was. They scored from their first shot and it was William Geubbels, who I gave a free to at PSG. Haland then had a goal chalked off for offside. Well off, to be fair. Pinho made it 1-1 with a cracker. Campos put them 2-1 in first half injury time but Haland seized upon a defensive error, also in first half injury time, 2-2. Haland then had another goal ruled out for offside, which was very close. Vinicius Junior went off injured. Pinho went off injured. Goran Kovacic got sent off and just when I thought we’d seen it out they scored in the last minute. And then again on 90+4 just to add insult to injury.
Just to round that up; 2 disallowed goals, 2 player injuries and a red card. Thanks Sports Interactive! Thanks for heaping shit upon me here. At least Benfica drew with Sporting and didn’t really take advantage of our failings but there are clearly issues. Mainly with a lot of new faces not gelling but I was forced to bring in Paul Schouten, on loan from Juventus, because of a pre-match injury to Marcel Lange and clearly that tipped it over the edge.
Belgium 1 Spain 0
For continuities sake I took over the Spain job with BHL, replacing Jimmy Football who was actually sacked for poor performance when Spain finished fourth at the World Cup. That’s bullshit lads. Speaking of bullshit, dominant performance here from Spain. All the ball, all the chances. Hit on the break with ten minutes left and lost one-nil. This is the opening game in the UEFA Nation’s League, a competition I still haven’t won and indeed have bottled before.
Porto 1 Feirense 0
This is in the League Cup and the rules suggest that I need to be careful about not sending out a team of jobbers. So I field a somewhat understrength team, as we’ve got Napoli away in mid week, and tell the boys who are starting to “do this for the fans”. Everyone looked stressed. Brilliant. Jefferson Perez Betancur (Jeff for short) banged one in early and then everyone fell asleep. Benfica drew so hopefully they’ll bottle the group by playing kids and we can win this trophy. Edit: Benfica scored a winner in the 90+2 minute.
Napoli 4 Porto 0
I had a tactic at PSG, which was designed for maximum shithousery. Designed to stifle teams. Stop them playing. It’s the double diamond. It works really well for 20 minutes until Azard Harte goes off injured again and we no longer have an out-ball. The players seem to struggle with the concept of not attacking and keep piling forward, even after I switch to Very Defensive and they’re picked off on the counter. YOU’RE DOING SHITHOUSERY WRONG. In all honesty this didn’t work. I don’t think I have enough good defenders for it to work against better teams and I’m sorely lacking in pacey forwards to help on the counter. The tactic is sound, the players less so.
Porto 2 P. Ferreira 0
Bit harsh making Paulo Ferreira play against us on his own. I mean, he’s retired isn’t he? Apparently it stands for Pacos de Ferreira. The old boys combine here with Vinicius Junior picking up the ball in his own half, turning and hoofing it over the back line in one motion. Haland is onto it. 1-0. Bruno Pinho grabs a second and literally nothing happens for the entire second half. Suck it Paulo. Benfica managed to draw, this time against Vit. Guimaraes. There’s a pattern emerging where they play teams just after we do.
Gil Vicente 0 Porto 2
Paulo last time. Now we play a bloke called Gil. I can’t hear the name without thinking about Old Gil from the Simpsons. Not today. Not to Old Gil! Things don’t go great here. Our first highlight doesn’t come until an hour in. Lange hitting the bar from distance. Vicente are actually second in the league but to call them the “second best team” would be extremely generous. Next highlight we hit the post and finally, on 72 minutes, Erling Haland turns in a Peter Jackson cross for 1-0. Bruno Pinho manages to get injured again. I’m thinking of wrapping him in bubble wrap next game. His replacement Justin Moreau tucks away number two though. Benfica won 4-1 but they went behind early and I got all excited. They have already dropped two draws and a loss, compared to our one calamitous loss.
Porto 3 Academica 0
My assistant manager, Albert Stuivenberg, has a laundry list of complaints pre-match. Players not fitting in, language barriers, captaincy issues, overconfidence, players struggling because they’ve been tapped up by foreign clubs. The fucking works. Erling Haland scores after 1 (one) minute. Vinicius Junior adds a second and the old boys. Vinicius Junior adds a second and the old boys are doing the job. There’s an astonishing highlight in the second half where we manage to give the ball away three times, including Peter Jackson passing straight to their winger (the deliciously named Lassina Baby), which culminates in nothing happening. Big Peter clearly daydreaming about re-making King Kong again. He makes amends by assisting Vinicius Junior. 3-0. After that game Haland has now scored 6 goals, the same he managed for the entire of last season with Shakhtar Donetsk.
Porto 2 Monaco 4
Stanislaus Kudimbana used to play for me at Dortmund. He rarely got in the starting eleven and I’m reminded why here. First he pokes an Erling Haland cross into his own net then he muffs a clearance, hitting his own player before the ball lands at Jefferson Perez Betancur’s feet. Porto then blow a 2-0 lead and I sit back until the last 20 minutes before telling them to go for it. Monaco immediately score a third. Are we good enough to be trying to beat teams at this level? Nope. Driss Bennouna, who I once tried to sign at Juventus, scored a hattrick and we were completely outplayed for most of the game. I don’t think I’ll be picking up a Champion’s League with this side.
Spain 6 Croatia 1
You know what was missing last time? Barbera. He was suspended after his World Cup loss of discipline in the third place match. Well, he’s back. He scored two. The wingers were changed here as well. Angel Botia is replaced by a fit again Ale Rioja (the double booze loving bugger) and he managed two goals, two assists. Nebai Hernandez has broken into the team suddenly and I might even favour him over the incredible Moises on the left wing. Central midfield remains a problem. Bravo isn’t playing at Barca and is completely out of form. After I subbed him here, on a 6.5, Spain scored four more.
Vizela 3 Porto 5
Taca de Portugal, Third Round. I have rested everybody as Vizela are a lower division team and their best player is worth £38,000. Off to a flier here as second string keeper Venturi misses a corner and Almeida taps it into an empty net. We’re soon 2-1 up but that’s besides the point. Back to 2-2 when the keeper misses another cross. 25 minutes gone and I’ve subbed the keeper. The reserve lads didn’t exactly cover themselves in glory. Nobody played as badly as the goalie but only Clemente, the teenage striker, really showed up going forwards. He scored twice.
Porto 2 Villarreal 1
This is our best chance of actually winning a game in the Champion’s League. If we’re destroyed here it’s pretty clear how far off the standard required. Some familiar faces in Villarreal’s eleven. Right back Jan Wirth played for me at Anderlecht. Cataldi, a centre midfielder, was part of Argentina’s World Cup winning squad and Evan Meslin played for me at PSG. He’s still very young but will be one of the best left backs in the game. Villarreal takes the lead through a sucker punch break away. Porto end up winning courtesy of strikes from Vinicius Jr and Erling Haland. The old boys have been great value so far.
Porto 4 Ac. Viseu 0
The “Ac” is short for Academico. They’re a rebuilt club having gone bust in 2005 and formally known as Clube Academico de Futebol. So, about Erling Haland. The coaching staff think he’s surplus to requirements. He’s never had a good track record anywhere on this game. He scored all four goals in this one. The only bad news is that Bruno Pinho went off injured again. I’ve got the bubble wrap on order can you just be safe mate! Don’t overdo it.
Porto 0 Vit. Guimaraes 0
Nothing happened. This was in the league cup where they have a mini-group. Guimaraes are rapidly becoming a bit of a bogey team.
There’s a bizarre spell here where we play no games at all. Everyone just take five yeah? Have a nap. Nine days! And then then Villarreal away and three days after that; Benfica away.
Villarreal 4 Porto 1
I figure we’re fucked in Europe so I do a bit of rotation and Kevin Thomas, who I’ve dubbed KT, goes off injured in the first minute. Why do I get so many injuries at Porto? Villarreal, still perhaps optimistic of making the knock-outs, or worse still hoping for some Europa League action, play full tilt here and win comfortably. I had the lads at low tempo and very defensive in the hopes of having everyone fit for Benfica. Oh, KT is out for 7 weeks after spraining his knee ligaments. Marvelous.
Benfica 2 Porto 2
Benfica is the biggest challenge we face in Portugal. Man for man they are far superior. Tactically I had to tweak things a bit here. I learned from completely changing the formation in Europe. It didn’t work at all. So we dropped deeper, invited them onto us a bit and hoped for a goal on the break while keeping our passing short at a low tempo to try and control the ball and make them chase us and get tired. We scored from the first counter attack and I’m feeling like a footballing genius. Gallade, their AMC, scored a long range effort and then a header from a corner when the player was marked AND there was a man on the post where it went in. Sickening. With time running out I switched formations back to our standard and Paul Schouten, on loan from Juventus, normally a DM smacked a 30 yarder into the top hand corner on 90+5. I love this game. We should have lost this heavily.
The bad news coming out of this is Marcel Lange has pulled his hamstring and our lack of midfield depth is starting to show. I seem to have four players permanently injured. It’s not something I’m used to and it’s a bit of a struggle with a small squad. Speaking of injuries; my goalie pulled ankle ligaments and is out for 3 weeks and Erling Haland pulled his calf muscle. I now have six first team players out injured!
Croatia 0 Spain 4
Two for Botia, two for Babs. The UEFA Nation’s League is coming home! This is one of the trophies I have yet to tick off, having fucked it with Spain last time. The problem we have is we’re now level with Belgium and need to beat them as the league is sorted on head to head and they won 1-0 in Belgium.
Spain 0 Belgium 1
These games are three days apart and some genius decided to book us in for a friendly against Chile three days before the Croatia game. Who does that? (note: fire assistant manager). Belgium’s starting eleven now has three players in it that were in the Anderlecht youth team when I started there. I’m so proud. I’m less proud when two of them hit me on the counter and one of them scores. Totally FM’d here. Spain dominated the game. Are Belgium becoming the team I can’t beat? Also that makes it two Nation’s Leagues in a row I’ve bottled with Spain. Fuck’s sake.
Santa Clara 0 Porto 1
Taca de Portugal R4. A whole lot of nothing happening here, which was fine because my reserve keeper is PANTS. Paul Schouten popped up in the last minute to head in a corner to send us through. I’m really starting to like him. We draw Vit. Guimaraes in the fifth round. I can’t say I’m thrilled with playing them again. Benfica have Boavista away so hopefully they’ll get knocked out. They needed extra time against Old Gil.
Porto 1 Napoli 1
We played great here. Easily our best European performance. I’ve decided to bench Jiri Kraut, the club captain and wantaway Czech central defender, because everyone seems to hate him. Even though he’s the best defender we have. We would have won the game if sub keeper Gianluigi Venturi hadn’t dropped a free kick into his own goal. He’s played three games this season his mistakes have led to three goals. Porto are out of the Champion’s League thanks to this result. I’m not bothered because the board only expected the group stage and I can’t win it with Porto so who cares?
This game flies by when there’s only one manager! First things first is European Championship Qualifying with Spain. The groups have been drawn! Spain will face Austria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Estonia, Andorra and the Faroe Islands. Bosnia are ranked #64 and have some decent midfielders but nothing else. Austria are ranked #20 and have a centre back at Real Madrid and a couple of decent midfielders. In all honesty Spain should walk it. The others are all jobbers.
Porto 0 Braga 2
Wow, was this ever not the best of starts to December. Dipshit Venturi, the reserve keeper, fucked up again. He’s now been at fault for four goals in four starts. He’s got to go. I just can’t look at him. My mood is somewhat improved by Braga doing Benfica as well in their next fixture.
Monaco 0 Porto 0
I shuffled the deck a bit here and played anyone that was moaning about a lack of game time. They ended up playing ok but Haland’s injury has left us with Azard Harte up front and he’s an idiot. The goalless draw ends up qualifying us for Europa League, which I didn’t want to do as the board will probably expect us to get through a few rounds. It’s Villarreal’s fault for shipping a goal in the last minute.
Portimonense 0 Porto 1
Fuck me, we smashed this lot eh? 1-0, woopty fucking do. Marcel Lange scored the only goal with a decent long range effort. Good news though; Haland is fit again and so is keeper Evan McNally! KT is even slightly fit and may play a game at some point this season.
Santa Clara 0 Porto 1
Smashing it! In their defence I forgot to switch tactics in the first half and didn’t notice we were playing with a defensive mind-set. Bit of a blunder. As soon as I switched Erling Haland showed up with his thirteenth goal of the season. He’s played so many games he’s got an extra year on his contract and will be with us until he’s 36.
More tremendous goalkeeper news. Evan McNally will be competing in the Asian Nation’s Cup in January, which means he’ll miss approximately four league fixtures. Maybe more if they do well. Fuck the Asian Nation’s Cup. Fuck it in the ear.
Porto 2 Belenenses SAD 1
This team always reminds me of Donald Trump’s tweets. Just an exclamation mark away. We play Belenenses, SAD! Again, we didn’t exactly destroy a far inferior team here but KT actually played the second half and Azard Harte actually scored so we’ll call it a win.
Porto 2 Vit. Guimaraes 1
Taca de Portugal R5. Glad to get that Guimaraes monkey off my back this quickly. Enes Coppens, 33, our AMR hit two early doors and we defended ok. They scored a free kick. Happy to advance in the cup. I want to win it!
Braga needed two late goals to creep through. Benfica easily beat Boavista. Sporting go through as well with a 120+2 minute winner against Paco de Ferreira. All the big boys still in at the QF stage. The biggest team to go out is Guimaraes. The draw gives me Academica in the quarters. I will take that. Benfica play Sporting Lisbon, which I’d normally be excited about as one of the big lads was going out but Sporting suck.
Chaves 3 Porto 4
Chaves? Wasn’t he Lou Diamond Philips character in Young Guns?
This was a frankly ridiculous game. You can see it on the stats there. Three shots from them, on target, three goals. Three goals in injury time at the end of the game. A complete mess.
P. Ferreira 0 Porto 3
This was a ‘must win’ League Cup game so I thought we’d make a meal of it but nope, 3-0 at HT. Cruised through the second half. No highlights for them at all. Into the semi-finals of the League Cup. No hassles. What? Is this actually my team?
And that is 2034 done. Finished.
Here’s how everything is going. Considering the inconsistency I’m surprised we’re top but Benfica seem to have their attentions elsewhere, committed to a big Champion’s League campaign. We’re stuck with the board expecting us to win against Valencia, which probably isn’t going to happen. Relatively easy draws in both domestic cup competitions makes me happy. Here’s a quick player update.
- Erling Haland 14
- Enes Coppens 8
- Jeff 7
- Bruno Pinho 4
- Fabio Clemente/Azard Harte 3
It’s a bit worrying that the freebie striker has 14 and the guy I spent £18M on has 3. He’s been injured but they’ve both played 21 games. Pinho doesn’t really do enough for me either in his role as AMC. I’ve taken to not playing with one because Schouten is so good.
- Enes Coppens 10
- Vinicius Jr 8
- Jeff 3
- Bruno Pinho 3
- Peter Jackson/Erling Haland/Marcel Lange 2
My starting wingers were Coppens and KT. The latter has played five times so far thanks to injury but Vinicius Jr has done a bang up job of stepping into those boots.
- Jiri Kraut (DC) 7.31
- Enes Coppens (AMR) 7.28
- Erling Haland (ST) 7.25
- Ricardo Goossens (CD) 7.22
- Ramiro Denis (DL) 7.21
Denis is actually the second string left back but he’s playing so well when he comes in it’s making me think about cashing in on Alfredo Torres in January. He’s wanted by both Madrid clubs and bizarrely both Black Country sides too. And Wolfsburg. Francois Grange, who was hoping to slip into the starting AMR position because Coppens is old, is not playing well and has Leicester, Villarreal and Gladbach interested. Justin Moreau, back up AMC, came in for nothing and is now worth £20M. He’s on the transfer list but no one wants him. Leeds want KT and seeing as he’s basically broken they can have him. Kraut is a problem. He won’t sign a new contract, is out of contract in six months and is complaining about everything. Everyone hates him. The January transfer window may be an opportunity to cash in. It’s very weird having so many potential moves in January, where I usually batten down the hatches and hope no one steals my players. I have one confirmed signing; Edgar Cuesta, an 18 year old Colombian goalkeeper because my starting keeper has decided to take January off to play in the Asian Nation’s Cup.