August 31, 2020

AF Diary #19 (Project Power, David Copperfield, Agatha Christie, All or Nothing: Tottenham and continued FM adventures)

AF Diary #19



Netflix don’t have a great track record with original movies. They seem to do better in the world of documentaries and TV series. That’s not to say they’ve never had a successful film, it’s just that it’s the exception to the norm. Project Power is another one of those middling Netflix’s movies that we watch and sort of enjoy and move on.


Directors Joost & Schulman have a decent track record in making films based on modern technology and the potential abuse of it. Here they take on the concept of a magic pill that gives you superpowers for five minutes. Why five minutes? Eh, who knows. Jamie Foxx plays Art, a man in search of his daughter who has been abducted by a shady corporation. Joe Levitt plays Frank, a cop who’s seen first hand the criminal element’s use of the drug. Dominique Fishback plays Robin, a street level dealer of the “Power” drug.


Between the three of them they try and seek out the truth. Battling shadowy evils and generic bad guys. Project Power is a pretty generic film and at least one of the leads sleepwalks through his role. Fishback is the star of the show and this role should catapult her into a higher plain of superstardom. Especially if Netflix get their grubby claws into her.



What a joy this film is. Armando Iannucci, better known for the biting wit of In the Loop or The Thick of It, goes out of his way to put some chuckles into Charles Dickens’ classic. I’ve never had the chance to read David Copperfield and Dickens has always felt like an impenetrable wall of nineteenth century words but what words they are.


Hugh Laurie’s every utterance caused me to snigger and donkey hating Tilda Swinton was not without mirth too. As a couple they do excellent work. Their segments are among the most joyous of the film. I was also charmed by Peter Capaldi’s family and his concertina playing professor in the university of life.


At almost every turn this adaptation brings great joy. From the mimicking factory boss’ assistant to the ‘talking dog’ to spontaneous shanties to drunken Benedict Wong to hefty cake to discovering French through kite flying. It’s a magical journey with highs and lows. The next time I’ve had a few too many glasses of sherry, or is it too early for sherry…let’s say port, I shall have to check to see if I have drunken hair.




I’ve read a fair few whodunnits in my time but somehow I’ve never read one by Agatha Christie so I felt it was time to correct that. And what a fucking book this is. It’s really hard to introduce ten characters and develop all ten simultaneously, let alone put those ten characters into a situation where one of them is a murderer killing the others.


When I reached the final page I still didn’t know who’d committed the murders. It’s nearly a century old but still an absolute masterpiece and a page turner. I read it in three days and it would have been two if I’d not had to go to work. The epilogue where the police admit they have no idea how the crimes were committed is brilliant and the “message in a bottle”? *Chefs kiss*. You must read this.



Now available on Amazon Prime is an in depth look at Tottenham’s season under Jose Mourinho. When the coverage starts it’s Pochettino in charge but he’s slyly shunted to one side as it doesn’t fit the narrative and it becomes the Jose Mourinho show. How good or bad this is depends on your opinion of the Portuguese manager. I have never been particularly fond of Jose. His ‘win at all costs’ approach to football and ruthless decision making doesn’t always wash with me.


Unlike the Sunderland series, the Spurs show doesn’t want to delve into the boardroom too much and Daniel Levy is hardly in shot. This is quite deliberate as I’m sure he’s seen how foolish other board members have looked in similar documentaries. Mourinho doesn’t care how he comes across because in doing so exposes his weaknesses as a coach. He seems to focus in on one thing and once he’s decided something that’s all he can see. Like Delle Alli in training or how Spurs are “too nice”.


Jose loves a swear though. That’s where many of the best moments take place. When he refers to the team as “cunts” I was in bits. Also the background Sky Sports pundits getting told to “fuck off”. Is it as good as the Sunderland documentary? No. But it’s better than expected.




Meet Southampton:


GK: Ruben, my oft overlooked third choice Spanish keeper, is the number one for Southampton. That’s certainly an area we can improve in.


DR: I had a huge hole in the squad here. Cristobal is on loan from PSG but Southampton have traditionally played with wing backs so that’s it.


DL: Evan Melsin, here on loan from PSG, and Ramon Chan I signed from Mexico. They’re both really good. Chan is the future.


DC: Gonzalo Jamie, who I had at Argentina, is the best defender at the club by a distance. He’s the best right back as well. Abakarov is second choice and Cardenas and Casella are both good underlings. Casella has huge potential.


DM: Gustavo Leon. Best player in the squad. Wanted by Bayern but because I’m his International manager I talked him into staying. His understudy is Mick Draper, who’s also excellent.


MC: Leon would be best choice here too but I’ve also got Emiliano Fonseca, 23 year old Mexican International, who’s incredible. Chris Watts is good but has already leveraged a better contract because Everton bid for him. Lee Dong-Wook, from Korea, is also a very good option.


AMC: Simon Ash. I don’t traditionally use an AMC but Ash is one of the better players at the club so we’ll see how this plays out.


AML: Marco Chiappini. 23 year old Italian winger. Perfect as an inside forward, fits this formation like a glove. Just about perfect for my needs.


AMR: Ale Rioja the Spain right winger. He’s fucking brilliant. Second best player at the club. He even has a great understudy in Alil Doda.


ST: Ed Fraser has been a prolific scorer for Southampton. As has Diogo Araujo. The latter is 34 though and out of contract at the end of the season. I also have Argentine Felipe Munoz who is capable. I’m very excited about the quality in this squad.




West Brom vs. Southampton

First game in charge. Pre-season went well; five games, five wins. There are some fitness issues here. Gustavo Leon, the star player, isn’t fit so Mick Draper plays at DM. Lee Dong-Wook comes in to play central midfield because Fonseca is still on International duty. Alil Doda plays left wing with Chiappini isn’t fit.


Doda finds Fraser for the opener. He’s a quality finisher and that’s demonstrated here. Lovely take. Dong-Wook sets up Doda for the second. Both the full backs are very effective already. Southampton win 2-0. I’m happy with this debut.


Southampton vs. Swansea

Game day two. Leon and Chiappini are fit and play. Ash and Fonseca are just about fit and make the bench. I’m debating a switch to the PSG shithousery tactic for the next three games as they’re all really hard (Man City, Arsenal and Chelsea).


We start pretty quick but Ruben almost gives a goal away after five minutes, literally punting it into the back of their striker. Luckily it flies over the bar. We have a goal chalked off for a foul and on 38 minutes Swansea take a shock lead, hitting us on the counter. It’s their first shot on target. We go right after them second half and Ed Fraser doubles his tally for the season. Another one-on-one finished with aplomb. We have to go more attacking late on and I introduce Simon Ash and they promptly hit us on the break and score again. Ash quickly replies for 2-2. And a game we should have won quite comfortably finishes in a draw. With more possession and more chances we simply should have won. Fraser is even stressed because I think we played badly. Forgive me for having some ambition Edward!


Southampton vs. Man City

After that shit show it’s a formation change. It was happening anyway but in comes Fonseca, Ash and Munoz. It means leaving out my wider players, which is almost criminal as they’re so effective. Both Rioja and Chiappini are on the bench. This is also remarkably close to our last game and I thought the squad would be fit. They’re not. I’ve had to leave out Leon, Abarakov and Meslin. I’m sure it’ll be fine, we’re only playing THE BEST TEAM IN THE WORLD.


We start quite well and then Fu Xingchen scores, as he always does. He’s 63% fit! Can you imagine what would happen if I fielded a player 63% fit? He’d be a fucking corpse after 28 minutes not scoring a goal. Before half time Xingchen whips a free kick into the top hand corner and this is over. I switch back to wingers at half time because we might as well have a go. It pays off. Chiappini fires one in from a tight angle and Zingchen is subbed, finally giving in to that poor fitness level. Despite putting in a decent shift second half there’s no equalizer though. 2-1 Man City. We’ve P3 W1 D1 L1. Not the start I had in mind.


Arsenal vs. Southampton

Five minutes in Arsenal score and I’m really starting to feel this is falling apart. Out of nothing. Just a random shot from the edge of the box that Ruben can’t be bothered with moving for. It’s so bad at half time that I revert to wingers again. That’s two games running. I look like an idiot out here. It finishes 1-0. Fuck.


Carabao Cup 3rd Round Draw:

Southampton vs. Man City


Fuck off. Fuck off. Fuck off. So, that’s a tournament we won’t be winning this year.


Champion’s League Group Draw:

Real Madrid



Spartak Moscow


This is better. We can at least get out of that group. Winning it will depend on how good Real Madrid are now, which is probably very good as they won La Liga last year.


Chelsea vs. Southampton

Chelsea are top of the league. What the worst that can happen? Well, Rioja and Leon both go off injured. The good news is the two game losing streak is snapped and we pick up a 0-0 here.




Honestly, that opening month could have gone better. There’s not a lot of support from the boys after it and I can’t say I blame them. It takes time for teams to adapt to new manager’s and new ways of thinking. It took a good six months for Porto to really start playing. I have quite deliberately ignored the existing Southampton formation, thinking I know better.


European Nation’s League

Spain vs. France

I’ve bottled this competition twice already, both times with Spain, and having come remarkably close to winning the Euros it would be nice to get this one done and marked off. I’ve rejigged the central defence after the Euro final. The man who scored an own goal, and will not be named, is out. Maikel Garcia is also gone as he’s too old now. So Simarro partners Isaac Gonzalez back there and I’ve added in Kike Palacios, who was a fringe choice for the Euros and Alex Pena, a 22 year old from Real Madrid. He’s solid and has marking 17.


Naturally France take the lead and they don’t even hang around. First attack; Camara 1-0. Leo Hernandez levels it up at 1-1 and this is going to be a case of which team can score the most. Rioja to Hernandez again connects and it’s 2-1. Camara levels again. 2-2. Defensively, and I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, Spain collapse under the slightest amount of pressure. It finishes 2-2. A good game but once we’d gone ahead it was disappointing to not cling on for the win. This competition continues to be illusive.


Southampton vs. Brighton

Several players have picked up injuries on International duty. Rioja (wasn’t my fault, honest), Leon (again), Meslin. All unavailable. Doda, Draper and Chan all play. Brighton have been historically quite good in this save and even won a Europa League. We dominate the early going but Tim Hofler scores an incredible curling effort from outside the box and Brighton lead. Hofler even hits the bar at 1-0. It could be worse. Wait, it is worse! Both our wingers are injured. I’m not kidding here.


This necessitates a formation change at half time and seconds into the second half Adrian Craggs makes it 2-0. What the actual fuck is happening? Simon Ash will turn the game around. No wait, he’s passed the ball directly to their striker in the box and it’s 3-0. Are these players trying to tell me something? It finishes 3-0. We had 63% of the ball, More shots.


So yeah, P6 W1 D2 L3

This is not ideal. Managerial support has slumped so low the green line is now invisible. It’s going badly. Both wingers are out for a month. Southampton have made steady improvements for a decade and I’ve pissed it away somehow in six weeks.


Champion’s League

Anderlecht vs. Southampton

I have a history with Anderlecht (Jimmy Football was in charge here for three years) but instead of looking forward to this, I’m welcoming the distraction from what’s been a catastrophic start to the league campaign.


We dominate the opening exchanges and wouldn’t you know it, Anderlecht score. From a set piece. Not cleared properly, turned in by a central defender. Ale Rioja scrambles home a sloppy equalizer. I’ll take it. Cristobal tees up Rioja for 2-1. Is this the game where the momentum switches? Ash fires in a free kick. 3-1. This feels like a momentum shifting game. Coming from behind. Switching the formation to accommodate Simon Ash from the start. First win since opening day.


Southampton vs. Cardiff

Lee Dong-Wook opens the scoring here. I think he’s playing his way into my starting eleven. He’s very good. I gave him the #69 jersey. Oddly enough my parents used to sponsor a South Korean boy called Lee Dong-Wook. Ed Fraser is fouled on a break for a penalty and Ash tucks it away for 2-0. We’re back baby! Back to back wins. We move into the top half after languishing down in thirteenth after the last game.




Before the next game let me introduce you to Billy Godfrey. Billy is a dipshit. He’s been on the transfer list since before I got here. Nobody wants him. He’s massively overvalued and isn’t very good. Billy decided to have a meeting with me, where he declared himself to be “better than his position in the squad”. So he’s deluded. He’s probably my fourth choice striker. Godfrey is told, in no uncertain terms, that I have no interest in placating him. He demands to be transfer listed. Mate. You’re on the transfer list already. You fucking moron.


Meanwhile Felipe Munoz has recovered from my pre-season slight. Did I not mention that? The pre-season training camp squad came up for selection and I was in the middle of the Euros so I set it to auto-select and whoever auto-selected it (I didn’t even look) decided not to take Munoz. He was not best pleased. As there’s no option to say “I’m in the middle of a major tournament pal, I don’t give a shit” I had to apologise and he’s been mad at me ever since. No longer!



Here are the league standings;

  1. Arsenal 18 points
  2. Man City 16 points
  3. Leeds 16 points
  4. Chelsea 16 points
  5. Swansea 15 points
  6. Tottenham 8 points
  7. Man Utd 8 points
  8. Southampton 8 points


As you can see…this is not ideal. All the serious teams already have double the number of points. Swansea, who we drew with, are the only unbeaten team. That makes me feel slightly better about that game but we still should have won.


Carabao Cup 3rd Round

Southampton vs. Man City

I am torn here between a desire to win this trophy and an urge to have a fit team to play in the league game at the weekend. This is made harder by the fact that Man City will probably bulldoze us anyway. I don’t want to change a winning formula but I have to because Rioja isn’t fit and Doda is still injured. I simply don’t have the wingers available so it’s double diamond, shithousery time.


18 minutes in. Nothing happening. The shithousery is working. Cristobal crosses and Fraser scores! They pile forwards looking for an equalizer and Fraser and Ash combine for 2-0 on the fast break. WE BEAT MAN CITY! WE BEAT MAN CITY! I thought this would take forever to do. They’re so good. We absolutely did the FM on them.


The Carabao Cup draw sees us play Tottenham. This is the same draw that includes QPR vs. Newport Co. If we’re winning this, we’re going about it the hard way.


Aston Villa vs. Southampton

With Doda, Rioja and Chiappini all still injured I have little choice formation wise. Cristobal crosses to Fraser to open the scoring and my full backs are key at providing width in this narrow formation. Second half, same thing. Meslin from the other flank crosses and Fraser tucks away a second. Oscar James, who was in my Argentina squad, scores for them but it’s offside. They score again and again VAR chalks it off for offside. I love VAR. It’s a fantastic addition to the game. A 2-0 win and we’re cruising now. Just a couple of weeks since that Brighton failure and we’re a different side. Up to 7th with the win!


Champion’s League

Southampton vs. Spartak Moscow

Some fitness concerns here. I have one healthy winger but I want to play with width and attacking intent here so Rioja plays on the right and youngster Josh Challis plays left wing. He’s featured twice already and have a 100% win ratio. He’s a good luck charm. Jean Rivas comes in at right back with Cristobal knackered his heroics of late. Rivas is a wing back who can’t defend at all so hopefully they don’t attack down that side! Literally nothing happens here. 0-0. Very poor performance all round. Our run of wins ends.


In the other group fixture Real Madrid win 7-1. If we finish second, we run the risk of facing someone very, very good in the next round. Let’s try and avoid that.




Man Utd vs. Southampton

After this game is complete I will have played every difficult away game apart from Man City by October 6. A bizarre calendar. It’s back to the double diamond aka PSG Shithousery as it’s called on my tactics screen. I’ve pulled a surprise and recalled club legend Diogo Araujo to play off Fraser. Munoz hasn’t delivered this season and it’s worth a shot. He’s on the bench if things go wrong. Man Utd have a few of my former players. Left back Stefan Hermann, dubbed Hermann the Germann, was with me at Dortmund. Kevin Jung, who anchors midfield, was with me at Anderlecht. I signed him on a free, Utd bought him for £50M. Finally central defender Mark Robinson briefly played for me at Barca before I sold him to Utd.


We start badly and concede after 4 minutes. This Chap (Thijs Schaap) banging one in. I now regret mocking his stupid name. There are nerves and frustration that we can’t get the better of Arturo Vidal (Southampton boss for 7 years, who moved to Man Utd in the summer). The defenders gift a goal to Giuseppe Gritti, who doesn’t need gifts. He’s lethal anyway. I switch it up, hoping to get back into it but the second goal was a killer. It’s a frustrating game. We had 63% of the ball, played patiently, had more shots and generally bossed the game. If there was any other result, I’d be really happy. So why am I miserable again?



We had one blip already this season, it’s far too early for a second blip. We now have to stew on this result, as we did earlier in the season, as it’s 13 days until our next league fixture. Then we immediately play Real Madrid in a key Champion’s League game. It’s almost like our four game winning run was the blip!


European Nation’s League

Greece vs. Spain

If I could just win this so I don’t have to think about it, ever again, that would be lovely. We play France in three days so I’ll have to field the reserves here. I used to date a Greek girl. It was during the Euros that they won so her old man was happy. I think. I was never introduced to the family. Whenever I mentioned it, My Big Fat Greek Wedding was brought up. I actually like the movie, so something good came of it.


Pascual, second string striker, pops up with an opener on 22 minutes to calm the nerves. He scores again early in the second but both times his initial shot is blasted straight at the keeper and he turns in the rebound. He’s missed three other good chances. The future beyond Babs is bleak. It finishes 2-0 and it’s comfy. That’ll do.


European Nation’s League

France vs. Spain

Nebai cuts it back to Babs after 6 minutes. 1-0. It’s a tap in for the Spanish legend. 13 minutes gone and Ale Rioja gets in behind for 2-0. The UEFA Nation’s League Dream is coming to fruition. Babs even misses a one-on-one. It’s a rampage. Rioja hits the post and Babs follows in. It’s only fucking 3-0 in the first half! Barbera completes a hat trick with a sensational free kick. 4-0 at HT!


Babs even misses a one-on-one right at the start of the second half. He is lethal. I love him to bits. He’s 33. How much longer can he keep on? Moises has to come on for Nebai, who’s pulled a hammy, and he scores too! Twice! 6-0. Barbera, incidentally, has now scored 129 goals for Spain. What a career this lad has had. This was all my International luck in this competition being saved up for one game and spunked all over France’s face.


Southampton vs. Everton

I am conflicted here. Firstly, I support Everton. Secondly, we play Real Madrid in three days. Thirdly, we’re doing so poorly in the league I kinda need a result. Are Everton good? Well, yeah, actually but like Southampton they’re having a pretty poor season. I debate how many second choice players to field but one position I will need a first choice is left back because Ramon Chan has fucked his knee ligaments and is out for two months.


We score after 18 seconds. Rioja’s cross going in off Joao Riccardo, the Everton left back. Maybe my fortune has changed. Rioja sets up Fraser for 2-0. Ale Rioja is a difference maker. Fraser takes a pass from Marrable (Garry, exciting young midfielder) and turns to make it 3-0. Early in the second half Fraser nods down and Rioja makes it 4-0. Rioja crosses for the other winger Chiappini and it’s 5-0. I’m getting schadenfreude. Everton hit the woodwork three times. It’s like my love of Everton is being punished rather than the team I’m playing with. Meslin goes off injured though, that’s not great news.


Champion’s League

Real Madrid vs. Southampton

Five injured here. No left back to speak of. For some reason why try and play offside from a free kick and Pena (Alex, Spain centre back) ghosts in for a tap in in the first ten minutes. This is not ideal. Botia then gets himself sent off for a two footed tackle. What? What are you doing man? Fuchs scores an own goal. It cannons in off his back. Real are falling apart. You love to see it. Fuchs makes amends by scoring on a counter and how have we conceded to ten men. That never happens.


Second half; Fraser cuts it back to Munoz. 2-2. Fuck it, let’s go for it. 3-2! To Real Madrid. Fuck. Ale Rioja is on and he beats two and scores! 3-3. 94th minute. Our highlight and they hit us on the counter and score. 4-3. Real win with ten men. They scored three of those four goals with ten men. Fuck this game. Fuck it. Fuck Sports Interactive. Miles, if you’re reading, what the fuck was this?


I know I normally go from start of season to January but how can you top a 4-3 against Real Madrid and a 5-0 drubbing of the club you support (and hammering France 6-0)? This is a good time for a break. I may split the season into three parts. Or I might just throw the computer out of the window.

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