Episode 15 – Time To Say Goodbye

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After a decent January, the wins just keep on coming for this Valencia side. We have stormed through February and March with a 13 game unbeaten run, finally losing to Barcelona when I tried this defensive system….

poor def val


Since then, 2 wins in 6 games have ended our title challenge, and we are on the brink of an Europa League exit. Olympiakos came to the Mestalla and sailed back to Greece with a draw and 3 away goals. The shame of it. We need to go out there and win to keep our hopes of retaining the cup alive.

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I go with my usual formation and lineup, Rong Qifei stays up front instead of Andres Renteria and Tiny Tim is back. The Greeks go in front early, but Rong Qifei gets on the end of a Stafylidis cross to square things up at half time. I tell the boys to believe in themselves and we go out and pepper the Olympiakos goal for 45 minutes. After at least 3 goalmouth scrambles, Ahmed Musa finally bangs one past the keeper and celebrations ensue with 5 minutes to go. We move onwards into the semi finals of the Europa League! We draw Galatasaray in the semi, which isn’t a horrific match as Tottenham and Porto are the other teams left in the draw.

Back in the league, we are 3-0 up against Celta Vigo after 20 minutes when Kevin van Keulen, in a rare cameo, decides to get himself sent off with a two footed scissor leg breaker challenge that involved him launching himself a whole 10 yards in midair to take out Celta striker Davi. Cue the madness. We go in 3-3 at half time. After I’ve beaten and kicked KVK unconscious, I demand that the rest of the team learn from his mistakes. Jorge Ruiz certainly learns, scoring witihin 4 minutes of the restart. Good boy. Celta get an equaliser though, and that was all she wrote. I pull out a copy of Zlatan Imbrahimovic’s autobiography and swear an oath on Zlatan, in front of the squad and our home fans, that Kevin van Keulen, the cancer that has struck repeatedly at the heart of our title challenge, has knocked us out of cups, and has depressed everyone to the point of rioting, will never more wear the hallowed shirt of the first XI. He is to be banished to the reserves, until some other fool wishes to employ him.


Look at his little smug bastard face. I hope he burns……. KVK

With that travesty of a draw, we do at least qualify for the Champions League. The board as usual, recognising that I have kept Valencia in the top three most of the season, and got them into the Europa League semi final, decide in their wisdom that I can have some money to spend.


What the actual f***!!!! There are English Championship sides with more money to spend than us! This is ridiculous. Admittedly, I was allowed to spend a few million in February on a talented youngster from Brazil, who’ll we see in the summer window, but to only provide £1.49m for next season….. might it be time to consider my position here?

Before I go jumping ship, I should probably try and improve my CV a bit. Another Europa League win would go a long way, so I must concentrate on Galatasaray.

Rong Qifei seems to be the one man I can truly rely on. The Chinese/Portuguese half breed does wonders for my goalscoring woes, as does the other Portuguese chinaman, Wang Tang. Rong scores 2 goals in the first half against Galatasaray and comes out of the 3-0 win with a 9.0 rating. I start a petition for him to be given the freedom of the city of Valencia.

Although Galatasaray beat us 3-2 at their hellhole of a stadium, we still go through thanks to Foppoli and Musa goals.

Next up is Real Madrid in the Spanish Cup final. In a full 90 minute match streamed live over the Interwebs on Twitch, Jose Gaya does us a huge favour byf irst letting Qifei free in the box for his first, then hauling him down in the box twice either side of half time. Musa and Rong Qifei put away a penalty each before Pione Sisto ends it in the 56th minute. Real make a brief comeback with two late goals, but I’m dancing around in my second best suit regardless. We take the Spanish Cup for the second time during my reign.

As I’m preparing my side for the Europa League final, my attention wanders towards the job centre. Bayern Munich, who have been unceremoniously kicked off the top of the Bundesliga by a dominant Borussia Dortmund and finished 6th this season, have sacked Luis Enrique. I could totally take them back to glory….I apply for the job, and turn back to my lineup for the Europa final.

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As always, tried and trusted.

9 minutes in and Spurs go one up through Gary Mullineux, but Foppoli gets us back in it within 2 minutes. Another two minutes later, and Spurs are back in front, but we immediately equalise through Ahmed Musa. After that, the game is ours. We dominate the whole game, with Foppoli sealing another Europa League triumph with two minutes to go!!! We win 4-2.

The Europa League final turns out be be my final game in charge of Valencia. Bayern come in with an offer to double my wages, and give me money to spend. With an ageing squad that needs replenishing, I can’t resist the challenge. Valencia have enough top players now that they should be safe enough to maintain their spot in the top three, so I don’t feel too guilty about it.

Goodbye my lover….goodbye my friend… you have been the club, you have been the club for me….

You can follow the blog here on WordPress, or  you can also find the blog on Passion4FM’s Story section, where they’ve very kindly embedded my blog into their site.

You can find me on Twitter  where I post updates for all my blogs.

I’ve also written a new blog for FM Central called The Boss where I have a surprise Director of Football running my transfer policy!


Episode 14 – Dirty, dirty boys

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A quick update on Switzerland, who I often seem to forget about in this save, we were drawn with Norway and Belgium in the European Nations League, finished top and our next involvement will be the 2024 European Championships. Job done, back to the real challenge.

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This is the Liga BBVA table so far.We sit second 6 points behind undefeated Barcelona, our other title rivals Real Madrid are close behind while our next opponents Atletico, led by new boss Zinedine Zidane, are struggling down in 14th.

We go one up quickly through Rong Qifei, but Atletico get one back through bogeyman Ivanov. Despite a half time tongue lashing, we can’t force our way through and come away with a draw.

We then travel over to Germany for a Champions League tie with Leverkusen. The Germans take a early 2 goal lead. While they are munching frankfurters in their dressing room, my Valencia side are cowering in fear. I haven’t been this angry since Legogate, and I am showing it. The magnetic tactics board is jammed up against the shower room door, because my players don’t deserve a post-match shower. I tell them that they will be going home dirty and unwashed if they don’t improve, I swear more fluently in English than Spanish so the squad are treated to me ranting and raving in a foreign language only 5 of the 18 man squad understand. I really hope they don’t translate….

The second half improves slightly, but we still lose 3-1. I allow the players to run around under the groundsman’s sprinklers in their shorts rather than shower.

Back home, the board suggest increasing the transfer budget. Finally, I’ll get some money to spend. I sit down in front of my scouting list and start looking at potential signings for January. The long awaited email comes in and I get my budget upgraded to…. £2.95m. Great. I forget almost every signing I thought of.

Athletic Bilbao are the next opponents, and copy my gameplan to a T. They send cross after cross into the box, and one connects, putting us behind. I mentally behead every journalist and pundit who thinks the Bilbao boss is a visionary in tactics, when he’s merely a copycat. Luckily, the much maligned signing Nicky Hurst puts a beauty in for Andres Renteria to equalise before half time. After half time we go in front thanks to the ever improving Wang Tang, and take home the 3 points.

Thanks to a cramped fixture list, I’m forced to put out a slightly weaker side than I would have liked for the visit of Monaco.

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Tim Nederburgh, Rong Qifei and Renteria need serious rest, but with the improvements to the transfer budget, I can’t afford to send them to a day spa, so they have to sit on the bench. Monaco look strong as ever, with Icardi and Ballon d’Or favourite Bernardo Silva starting, and Berardi an impact sub.

All is well until Eric Bailly single handedly knocks us out of the Champions League. Berardi comes on and Bailly loses him, then runs back and hacks him down inside the box. Bailly gets sent off and Berardi scores the penalty. Considering how much we need this win, Bailly will incur my full wrath. Rong Qifei comes off the bench and gives us a fighting chance before straining a calf muscle, but Monaco immediately restore their lead, leaving us in the Europa League yet again.

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Eric Bailly is fined a week’s wages and dropped indefinitely, well, until I need him really.

The Europa League draw gives us an interesting match against Anderlecht in the first knockout round.

Despite my only left winger Ahmed Musa’s long term injury, he gets called up for the African Nations. Unless they want him in a coaching capacity, or just to carry on water bottles, I don’t see how he’ll be any use to Nigeria. Most likely he’ll just get injured again, in which case I shall be cashing in come the summer.

As I move into January, I pick up two youngsters for the future who can also be a backup for the first team.

Vladimir Besek_ Overview Attributes-2Martin Licka_ Overview Profile

Both players look promising, and address some issues in squad depth. Tiny Tim Nederburgh will finally be allowed to rest occasionally at right back, and Musa’s injury and mysterious call up to the Nigerian ACN squad will not be quite as devastating as previously thought.

We draw Deportivo in the Spanish Cup quarter final, which is quite a favourable draw. Next up is 4th placed Espanyol, who are only 2 points behind us. Ahmed Musa is already worrying about injuries before his international duties, so I play Sisto on the left with new signing Vladimir Besek on the bench. One goal from Rong Qifei seals the win for us.

Against Deportivo, I send out a second string side. It’s not that I don’t value the cup, having won it back in 2023, but I have several players complaining about lack of game time including Dutch slave Kevin Van Keulen.

Rong Qifei is the only guaranteed starter, as I have no Musa thanks to the African Cup of Nations. 3 other players have also been called up. A boring 0-0 draw takes place, my only consolation being the lack of an away goal.

Our performance improves drastically against Real Sociedad, Rong Qifei showing no sign of fatigue to score in the first half. Real Sociedad don’t get a shot until the 60th minute, our high pressing game forcing them to camp in their own half. We don’t get another goal, but we dominate possession. I’ll take a 1-0 win with 65% possession and only 3 shots conceded.

Transfer deadline day comes and goes, a few clubs offer to take Dutch youngster Hicham Yildirim on loan, but he has 5 league goals in 12 starts which isn’t too shabby.

A few of the seconds come out again for the Spanish Cup second leg against Deportivo. Due to injuries, suspensions and the African Cup, I’m forced to field some first team players. Oh, the humanity.

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Kevin Van Keulen plays, if only to stop him mumbling to himself in Dutch about leaving. Tiny Tim Nederburgh’s injury and Martin Licka’s suspension means wantaway club captain Sebastian Rode has to play right back.

We get an early goal through new signing Vladimir Besek, but Deportivo pull it back before half time.  As always, I rant and rave at the players, and send on Kostas Stafylidis just to tighten up the left back spot. My one man screaming match has no impact whatsoever, but we do win on away goals. We draw Barcelona in the semi, and all hope fades away.

Just as transfer deadline day is over and done with, Rong Qifei wanders into the office, swallows nervously at least twenty times, then asks to go and join RBL in Germany. I can’t talk him out of it, and he eventually leaves with a promise that if they match my valuation of 50m, he can go. Luckily, I highly doubt RBL have that money to spend. Still, I’m extremely annoyed at the lack of loyalty. He came to us on a free transfer from Vit.Setubal in Portugal, and is now worth 26m. I wonder who’s responsible for the sudden change in fortunes…..

Find out next time whether I can outwit the might of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Sevilla and Anderlecht in the next month of fixtures!

You can follow the blog here on WordPress, or  you can also find the blog on Passion4FM’s Story section, where they’ve very kindly embedded my blog into their site.

You can find me on Twitter  where I post updates for all my blogs.

I’ve also written a new blog for FM Central called The Boss where I have a surprise Director of Football running my transfer policy!






Episode 13 – KVK the Nazi??

At the end of the last update, I’d changed from my successful wing back orientated Brazilian influenced system, to a Barcelona tiki taka style, in an effort to control games more successfully. 7 games in, and this formation has kept an unbeaten record, and vast amounts of possession, but has not stopped us leaking goals. 3 wins and 3 draws, admittedly the 3 draws were against Sevilla, Leverkusen and Real Madrid though. So the experiment is going OK so far.

Next up we face an away trip to AS Monaco, managed by Diego Simeone. This is our 2nd Champions League match, having drawn 1-1 with Leverkusen. The other team in our group is Udinese, my former employers.

To cover for 3 key players out injured, including star wingback Tiny Tim Nederburgh, I’m forced to revert to a 4-2-3-1 with full backs, although I have set them to wingback roles with attack duties. I’m hoping this will replicate the wingbacks I used last season to devastating effect. As usual, I offset the striker and trequartista to create attacking triangles. I got this idea after reading a superb guide to mentalities and asymmetrics on the Passion4FM website, if you need any help setting up asymmetric tactics or deciding on a mentality, I can thoroughly recommend you read this. Passion4FM

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Monaco start with Icardi and Berardi up top, with key player Bernardo Silva out wide. Emre Can is another top player in central midfield, while Timo Horn is in goal. This match will not be easy.

Despite having lots of possession, we don’t create anything and get sent home with a 3-0 defeat. Diego Simeone invites me for a drink before we leave, which is all good fun until I learn the French wine we’re drinking cost more than Mauro Icardi’s transfer fee, and promptly choke on it.

Back home with a wine induced hangover, I have a meeting with Rong Qifei, who sheepishly requests that he be taken off the transfer list. I take him out for dinner to celebrate, but things backfire when some Barcelona fans spot us and ask Qifei when he’s signing for them. Long story short, I am given a large fine for assault from the police, and a stern warning from the board, until I state that I was defending the honour of the club. Valencia pay my fine, and add a small backhander to clean my record. I love Spanish politics.

A 2-1 defeat to Villareal moves me down to 4th, before we welcome Udinese, who didn’t appreciate my managerial talents enough to keep me on for even 12 months. Hopefully I can show them just what they’re missing. The match stays close, Yvon Mvogo keeps me in it with some top drawer saves, till Hicham Yildirim sneaks us a late winner to spare my blushes. While Mvogo is dragged off for “random” drug tests, I have a small queue of players at my office door. New signings Nicky Hurst and Kevin Van Keulen are unhappy about the amount of game time they’ve received. I remind KVK that he’s here as backup, and was worth literally nothing when I picked him up for free.

KVK: I’m not very happy with the little playing time I’ve received since signing. I really would have expected better.

Me: So would I, if I were a big name signing who was in demand across Europe when my contract expired.

KVK. Exactly, so will I be……

Me: You’re not a big name signing though. You were surplus to requirements at Paderborn. That’s 2nd division football, saying you’re not good enough. If you couldn’t get in their team, what the f*** gives you the God-given right to waltz into my office and tell me who to bloody pick in my own f***ing team? This is the Liga BBVA you dopey c**t, you’re being paid backup wages, so do a backup’s job you sh*thead!!!!!

KVK: I’m not at all happy with how you’ve dealt with this.

Good talk. Nicky Hurst is promised some game time against the weaker sides, and walks away perfectly happy. KVK storms off in a huff, muttering something about a press leak.

Luckily KVK isn’t the most popular of people in and around Valencia, so the rest of the squad stands by me. KVK is booed at an open training session, and in the press, compares his position as a regular substitute to the invasion of the Netherlands by Nazi Germany.

While the rest of the football world is astounded at his outburst, I quietly remind him that he’s making himself look stupid, and I can happily let him rot in the reserves, like a Dutch prisoner of war. Eventually he blames his outburst on a mistranslation and gets away with it.

Back on the field, things aren’t going too bad. Defeats against Villareal and Barcelona are the only blips in a successful 6 weeks, culminating in a magnificent return to Udinese where Rong Qifei and Wang Tang put my Italian ghosts to the sword with a 5-0 demolition job.

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The newly built Di Natale Arena has never seen such devastation.

All in all, a successful start to the season. I’ll be updating again in January, so please follow the blog here on WordPress, or you can find the blog on Passion4FM’s Story section, where they’ve very kindly embedded my blog into their site.

You can find me on Twitter

Also, can I throw a shameless plug in here?? I’ve written a new blog for FM Central called The Boss and I’ve been getting some superb feedback on it so far!


Episode 12 – 71m Transfer Profit??

At the start of the 24/25 season, transfer dealings are in full flow. Bayern come in for Armand Pater, who’s only been with me a a year since Ajax released him, with a 12m bid. I laugh maniacally and tell them in the least polite way, to go away. Unfortunately, his 25.5m release clause gets hit within 5 minutes. He had a great 37 appearances for us, and he shall be missed. Of the 25.5m profit from me picking him up for free, the cash strapped board provides me with 5m to spend.

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Barca offer another another 25m for top scorer Rong Qifei, but I refuse to lose two star players in one window, knowing full well I can’t afford to replace them. Rong storms into the office demanding that he wants to leave, and that the Camp Nou has always been his spiritual home. I refuse to let him go for less than 35m, and hope that an unhappy Qifei is better than no Qifei.

Pathetic offers come in for my two first choice centre backs Badal and Bailly. Manchester United play hardball over Bailly, offering 3.6m plus add ons that will likely never happen. I hate selling to big teams with the 50 league appearances add on, as a lot of their signings never make it to 50 games. United are told that for 6.5m in upfront cash, which is his actual value, he can go. The Thai consortium that now owns Manchester United and saw fit to bring back David Moyes refuses to give up the 6.5m.

In terms of signings, I have some work to find affordable players. 1.1m goes on Arsenal outcast Nicky Hurst, who is a specialist left wing back and will hopefully be Kostas Stafylidis’s long term replacement.

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Feyenoord striker Hicham Yildirim comes in on a free, his stats look good for a 20 year old and I’m hoping he can improve enough to be a first team striker next season.

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I find another Dutchman to replace Armand Pater, free transfer Kevin van Keulen, who was released by German side Paderborn. I don’t think he’ll be anything special, but he has good stats in all the right places to be a solid defensive midfielder.

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I eventually pay 675k for a backup keeper, 18 year old Luan from Santos. While scouting in the 16-18 year old age bracket, I come across an Australian U20 international who has just left the FFA centre of excellence. My scouts see great potential in young Tony Kennedy, although I don’t see it myself. I pick him up for 1.7k a week as a wildcard signing.

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I bring in Ezekiel Okolie, a Nigerian who is surplus to requirements at Barcelona. There’s no way I could afford to sign him, but he does come in on a year long loan to provide quality cover at centre back. Another free transfer arrival is a Guinean international, that Head of Youth Development Dennis Bekking saw on YouTube and thought he might be good. I highly doubt Alseny Kaba will get much game time, but with some good loan spells, he may be worth a couple of million and I can flog him.

Talking about raising funds, I decided to have a look at my net transfer spend. Although I hate to see myself as a selling club, Valencia have so little money I feel responsible for keeping the ship afloat with the odd transfer.  Since my arrival in March 2022, Valencia has spent the vast sum of 6.12m, while bringing in transfer revenue of 77.11m. Admittedly, Pater’s 25.5m move to Bayern and Danilo’s 36m transfer back in 2022 make up a vast amount of that, but the 15.6m left over from that has been from offloading unnecessary players and making profit on youth teamers.

Just as everything is settling down and I start preparing for the European Super Cup Final against Dortmund, Manchester United come back with a bid that rocks the club. Pione Sisto has been superb throughout his Valencia career, and it’s surprising that he hasn’t been targeted more. 16m up front, 5.5m over the next year, and another 5.25m after 10 international appearances.

Pione Sisto_ Transfer Transfer Offer

I have no idea what to do here. Rong Qifei will slot in at right wing easily enough, but Sisto has been superb. He is 29 though, so if I can get money for him, now is the time. I stall United, and sneakily offer him out for 35m to everyone else, hoping that someone makes my decision a bit easier by putting more money upfront.

Meanwhile, I visit my old stomping ground, PSV’s Philips Stadion, for the Super Cup. I go with my trusty 2-4-1-3, Sisto starts, as does loan signing Okolie.

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We dominate the first 20 minutes, culminating in Renteria going through on goal and poking it past Geronimo Rulli in the Dortmund net. Dortmund pull one back before half time, but we’re still the dominant side. In the dressing room, I hand out ham sandwiches and Maltesers to boost morale.

I’m not sure what Dortmund had in their dressing room, but it must have been better than ham sandwiches. They push and push, only Yvon Mvogo keeping them out. I send on Rong Qifei and Jorge Ruiz to try and push us up the field, Qifei having 2 immediate opportunities to score. Dortmund keep pushing though, and Mvogo is kept very busy. In the 90th minute, they finally find a way through with a headed goal from Radolic. The referee blows the whistle to call time on a nail biting second half, and we go down 2-1.

This defeat is making me wonder about changing tactics. I have been using the same tactic throughout most of last season, so maybe we need to mix it up.

Looking at our first league opponents Real Sociedad, they often play 4-4-2, which usually causes me a fair few problems. So I go for a Barcelona inspired 4-3-3 which retains possession without losing the crosses from wide, which has been a key point of our success so far. We come out with a 1-1 draw, but these stats are slightly disturbing.

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Using this formation we gave up 5 clear cut chances, if the next couple of games yield similar results I’ll be looking for another system, or even return to the 2-4-1-3 which has done so well last season.

Follow me on Twitter @JDdwerryhouse to find all my latest updates, or follow the blog here on WordPress!

Episode 11 – ThankGod and Good Luck

So, by the end of last update, I was plodding along happily in 4th place, although we’d hit a bad run against the big three of Real, Barca and Atletico. We sneaked past Sporting Lisbon in the Europa League 1st knockout round on away goals, Jorge Ruiz getting the all important goal.

This sparked an incredible 14 game unbeaten streak. In Europe, Koln were pushed aside 4-0 on aggregate, former Koln man Ahmed Musa scoring two away goals at their place to a chorus of boos. Then in the quarter final I took my side to Ajax, Armand Pater’s former stomping ground. I rested him for the away trip as I didn’t want him getting ideas about getting homesick for prostitutes, homemade clogs and tulips for breakfast. We got through with a 3-2 aggregate win.

In the league, things were just as rosy. Atletico came to the Mestalla, and left with a 0-0 draw, chanting “Where’s your Lego now?” in a reference to the Legogate scandal from our last match. I can’t explain the events that took place or say any more, on the advice of my legal team, but anyone who read my last update will be fully aware of the alleged incident. Espanyol, Levante, Betis and Athletic Bilbao met with defeats, Renteria and Musa banging in regular goals during the run. Sevilla eventually shut down our unbeaten run in the league, but I couldn’t care less as we beat Stuttgart on penalties after two 2-2 draws to get to the Europa League final!!!! I then found a magical regen, who I don’t think I’m going to sign, but with a name like this, I had to have a look.

ThankGod Azuka_ Overview Profile

Spotting ThankGod must have been a good luck omen, we finished in 4th again, where we’d been pretty much all season. So I will be getting Champions League football, even if its just for the qualifiers.

Now, it’s time to iron the club suit. We are the underdogs against a resurgent AC Milan side, who include Gabriel Barbosa in their lineup. After at least 5 minutes of staring glassy eyed at my tactics board, I go with the tried and trusted. Tiny Tim Nederburgh leads out the side as captain, club captain Sebastien Rode doesn’t make the squad. We take an early lead as Renteria scores, celebrating by miming the signing of a new contract. If we win this thanks to you, Andres Renteria, you can have whatever the hell you want. My joy doesn’t last long though, Milan are back level in less than 10 minutes. It becomes a game of metaphorical ping pong. both sides transitioning between attack and defence as quickly as the LA Lakers in the NBA. At half time, I hold aloft a perfect Lego replica of the Europa League trophy, and pass it around the team to give them the feeling of holding the cup. Surprisingly, Renteria skips this particular team bonding activity, due to “personal reasons”. I can’t imagine what his issue is.

Milan must have had their own replica trophy to play with, because they came out just as determined as my lads did. The floodgates remained shut though, thanks to Tim Nederburgh and Kostas Stafylidis, whose status as Valencia’s unsung hero is mainly due to the tricky spelling. If his name was Geoff Williams, the fans would sing of his glorious deeds, and I would talk about him a lot more.

While I’m pondering legally changing Kostas’ name to something more suitable, full time comes and goes. My assistant hands out words of encouragement, while I flick through the ABC Baby Book Of Names. In the 98th minute, a goal finally seals it. Musa and Renteria team up again, Musa latching on to the through ball and bending it past the keeper. The rest of the match passes in a haze of glory. I scribble a new contract on a match programme and hand it to Renteria as Tiny Tim lifts the trophy. Renteria adds an extra zero to his wage and signs, thinking I won’t notice the addition. I draw eyes and a mouth on the extra zero, turning it into a smiley face.

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I’ll gloss over Switzerland’s Euro 2024 campaign, as I generally tend to forget Switzerland exists until they ask me to pick a squad. We qualified easily, got through the group stage and met expectations by being raped continually by Portugal in the second round.

For my next update, which hopefully will be a bit more detailed than this one (I got a bit carried away and played on and on without writing anything up) you can follow me on Twitter @JDdwerryhouse or follow this blog right here on WordPress!


Episode 10 – Kicking Neymar

So we start this episode in a pretty good position, we’re through to the semi finals of the Spanish Cup, of which we are the current holders, but we’re up against Atletico so odds are we won’t progress further. Our next four games, in the next 11 days, are against Real Madrid, Atletico, Barcelona and then Atletico again. Last time we had a run of games like this, we failed miserably, so I need to make a decision. Do I go for victories, keep the same formation that has kept us going all season? Or switch it up, find something that will keep the big teams on their toes?

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After mulling it over with a bottle of delightful Coca-Cola Vanilla, which by the way is superb Football Manager fuel, I decide to keep the faith. The team has been playing well enough that we may have a chance against the big boys this time around!

I’ve decided to keep hold of Andres Renteria despite his lack of contribution, he did bag one goal against Eibar in the cup so that has delayed the axe somewhat. So my first team lineup will stay pretty much the same for this run of games.

I hold a team meeting where I steal Aragorn’s Black Gate speech from Lord of The Rings: Return Of The King almost word for word, ranting about how a day will come when Real Madrid will be an average side that we can dismiss, but for now we must be at our best.

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The team laps up the inspirational speech, and walks out of the Mestalla tunnel chanting something about trophies and improved bank balances.

We go toe to toe with the Galacticos, who include Kevin De Bruyne, Kingsley Coman and Alvaro Morata in their side, and come away with a creditable goalless draw. Considering they’ve scored 44 goals in 22 games, I’m pleased with my side’s efforts.

Next up is Atletico in the cup semi final. I bring back the man who won La Liga’s Most Amusing Name trophy over Christmas, Wang Tang, in place of Jorge Ruiz. Atletico score most of their goals via crosses, so this will be a real test whether the 4 defensive central players can keep them out.

Andres Renteria must have overheard me on the phone offering him out to the work experience agency, as he pops up with a goal within 10 minutes. Armand Pater, who was originally only signed as a backup player, further cements his position in my side by holding off Atletico on his own at times. Tiny Tim Nederburgh runs his socks off twice despite a karate kick to the chest, and is warned by our kitman about his sock allowance in the budget. We win 1-0, not letting Atletico create a single clear cut chance.

Bad news strikes when Tiny Tim’s adrenaline runs out and I realise that he’ll be out for the next 3 weeks, missing crunch games against Barca, Atletico and our next Europa opponents, Sporting Lisbon. I head to the local retirement home and pull Andreas Beck out of his comfy armchair where he’s been watching TV most of the season.

Barcelona are missing Suarez through injury, so I’m left to deal with Neymar as their main threat. How to deal with a problem like Neymar??? He is 32 now, but still has 23 goals in 22 league games. Time for some outside the box thinking….

I come up with the most beautifully ruthless plan possible. We’re going to kick him. We’re going to kick him a lot. We will kick him until he stops running and waves a white flag on his way down the tunnel. I’ll have to wait and see where Barca play him, but if he’s out wide my wing back and winger will be both kicking him repeatedly, even if he doesn’t have the ball. If they play him in the middle, I have two centre backs and two defensive midfielders . That makes 8 kicking feet against 2 admittedly skilful ankles.

Neymar starts through the middle, which fills my evil heart with joy. Juan Bernat is out on the left, which doesn’t really scare me. Fernandes is making a name for himself on the right, so just to be safe I set Stafylidis and Musa to kick him up and down as well. Sebastian Rode is going to man mark Neymar and keep tripping him up, but should he escape, Bailly, Badal and Pater will hopefully be able to boot him into touch.

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Barcelona dominate the first 20 minutes, which culminates in Neymar escaping Rode to collect a long ball and poke it past Mvogo before being hacked down. We go straight up the other end and score from our first shot with Renteria, who’s still playing for a spot in next year’s squad. Neymar escapes again, this time to meet a cross and we are a goal down again. At half time I take Rode off his man marking duties, I’d hoped his aggression would make the difference but he can’t keep up. I go back to our usual instructions and attacking mentality, and go out to equalise. But it’s too late, we can’t muster any real goal threat, and Barcelona see out the game easily.

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Safe to say I will not be trying to kick Barcelona off the pitch again. Still, we live and learn, and I still have a chance of getting into another Cup Final! Before I start stitching the Valencia badge onto my second best dinner jacket though, I need to get past Atletico again. We take a 1-0 lead over to their place, but my first squad are exhausted from playing these big games with so little rest between. I am reduced to making 3 changes, and hoping we can wrap the the tie up before the rest of the side collapse on their feet.

Atletico go one up within a minute, but Rong Qifel, who is in the unfamiliar deep lying forward role, connects with a Ruiz cross to get his 17th goal of the season 8 minutes later. He is already asking to be subbed off, but I leave him on till half time just to get every last bit of danger out of him. Andreas Beck, or The Grandfather, as he’s fondly known among the staff, lasts a bit longer, but wanders off the pitch in the 65th minute searching for his medication box.

Half time replacement Renteria gets an assist 3 minutes later with a chipped ball for Ruiz to score our second away goal, giving me enough confidence to make my final substitution. Armand Pater almost falls off the pitch to a standing ovation from the small contingent of visiting fans, who keep singing even when Atletico equalise in the 74th minute. I’m still 3-2 up on aggregate with 2 away goals, and only 15 minutes to go, so they have good reason to sing.

15 minutes later, I am giving my players the hairdryer treatment. They conceded 2 goals in 5 minutes to render our performance in the first 75 minutes pointless. Carlos Badal flicks through his Spanish-English dictionary to find out exactly what a “pathetic arse-bandit” is, while young Jose Braulio phones Childline, only to be told that there are kids out there with real problems, and unless somebody touches him inappropriately, not to waste their time again. Andres Renteria kicks over my Lego model of the Mestalla stadium, and is force-fed a small Lego referee by captain Sebastian Rode as punishment. I down a tube of Pringles, and wonder how Atletico had 32 shots, but only scored 4.

At least my next game should be a bit less stressful, away to 13th placed Granada. I move Rong Qifel back to the wing, where he’s played most of his football this season. 19 goals by February is not to be sniffed at, especially for a winger.

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The first half is boredom itself, apart from Qifel putting a header wide from about 3 yards out. I use all 3 subs in an attempt to freshen things up and force a goal, which sub Ahmed Musa eventually does in the 86th minute. Fearing a repeat of what the media have dubbed “LegoGate”, the whole team defends till the final whistle, and we hold on for a vital win to move us above Villareal to 5th. My next game is in Europe against Sporting Lisbon, hopefully I will be able to put together a good Europa League run to keep things exciting for the next episode!

My next episode will be at the end of the season most likely, so keep an eye out for it on Twitter! You can follow me @JDdwerryhouse to get regular updates, or follow the blog here on WordPress to get a notification as soon as I post!



Episode 9 – That’s no 4-2-2-2…..

After winning the Spanish Cup and sneaking into 4th spot by the skin of our teeth, I have been invited to the prestigious end of season awards do to represent the squad. We come second in the Most Improved Team category to Sevilla, while Rong Qifel is up front in the La Liga Team Of The Year. Tiny Tim Nederburgh is among the substitutes, thanks to Player of the Year and Russian international Vyacheslav Karavaev, whose average rating of 8.28 for Barcelona is raising some eyebrows among the anti-doping committee. Not wanting to upset Barcelona, the committee accidentally spill his urine sample, and politely wait for him to swig his champagne.

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Now, the biggie, Manager of the Year. I am a surprise nomination, with Barcelona’s Frank De Boer and Diego Simeone, who’s ending his second spell at Atletico to head to Monaco, the more likely winners.

And the winner of the Liga BBVA Manager of the Year award is……. ME!!!!!!!!

De Boer gives me an angry stare, and Simeone celebrates his new job and excessive salary by making it rain banknotes over me. I’m not even on £9000 a week yet, so I stuff a fistful of notes down my top, and accept my award with a few humble words, thanking the fans, the players, and the woman who cleans up after me occasionally.

Now, onto this season ahead.

A surprise comes when Switzerland offer me a second chance at an international job. They must have missed my Dutch side’s mediocre matches on the dodgy streaming websites, no TV stations would show our games by the end. I grab it with both hands, pleasing Valencia’s Swiss keeper Yvon Mvogo, who is surely dreaming of many international caps during my reign.

In terms of transfers, I have no money to spend. I make 3.7m by offloading cup hero Ione Gomez, Kevin Friesenbichler and backup midfielder Fermin, Aymen Abdennour is allowed to wander into the wilderness of the free agent market, as is Jese. Coming in are exciting Portuguese/Chinese midfielder Wang Tang, who agreed terms in January, but had to run down his contract at Academica, and 30 year old winger Ahmed Musa, who’s been doing rather well at Koln. He is another free transfer, as are backup players Armand Pater and Nils Hossmann, who impress while on trial.

Our season begins horrifically, Barcelona spanking us 3 times in quick succession to win the Super Cup and take a lead at the top of the table, Arsenal scoring 9 goals in two games to send us crashing out of the lucrative Champions League playoff to land in the safety net of the Europa League groups. Real Madrid pop up in this early firestorm of 9 difficult opening games, winning 2-1 at the Bernabeu, while our only saving grace is a goalless draw at Malaga.

After a squad meeting and cuddles from new vice captain Timothy Nederburgh, I switch up my tactic to something inspired by an article I read on The HigherTempoPress.

Basically it works around the principle of the old Brazilian 4-2-2-2, but with two wide men and one deep lying forward. So what the hell, 1 draw in 9 games, lets take a risk!

After a bit of tweaking here and there, we go and win 8 of our next 10 games. Admittedly not the standard of opposition I faced at the start of the season, but you can only beat what’s in front of you right?

Atletico bring us back to earth with a 3-1 defeat, and we fail to beat a depleted Levante side, which does not please the fans one bit. I appease them with qualification from a Europa League group that looked simple, but went right down to the last game with Hertha Berlin, Spezia and Braga all in the hunt until the last few minutes of the last match. We go through in 2nd after Hertha beat us 4-2, squeaking past Spezia by one goal difference.

I celebrate our qualification by beating Sevilla 2-0, then breezing through to the quarters of the Spanish Cup, Burgos and Real Oviedo not putting up much resistance against my reserve side.

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So far the season’s been a tale of two halves, a shocking start, albeit Barcelona, Real Madrid and Arsenal making up 6 of our first 8 defeats, followed by some improvements thanks to this attacking 4-2-1-2-1, or as the AI prefers to call it, a Defensive 2-4-1-3 Asymmetric.

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The idea behind this ridiculous looking formation is that as the Inside Forward and Advanced Playmaker come inside to look for the ball, the flanks will be left open for the wing backs to push up. With Tiny Tim Nederburgh and Kostas Stafylidis being two of my top players, it has benefited them immensely. Tiny Tim has responded well to my regular praise and has an average of 8.66 in his last 5 games, while Stafylidis is also on form.

The 4 central defensive players have cut out crosses as a regular weakness, crowding the box and forcing teams to cut through us with through balls rather than crossing.

35% of our goals come from crosses, which is understandable with the wing backs looking to push on. What is slightly worrying me is how little Andres Renteria is contributing. As my only real decent striker at the club, he’s been forced into the DLF role, when ideally he’d be a poacher.

Andrés Rentería_ Overview Attributes.png

With only 2 goals and 2 assists all season in the league, 5 goals and 5 assists in 22 competitive starts, I’m starting to wonder if Renteria is worth keeping on. My wide men Rong Qifel and Pione Sisto are banging in the goals, with even new signing Ahmed Musa chipping in with more goals than my supposed goal threat. He’s worth 13.5m and he’s nearly 31, so it might be worth cashing in if any offers come in for him. Thanks to Valencia’s debt levels, I would only get 25% of any transfer fee to spend, so for now unless someone comes in with a big offer, I think he’ll be staying put.

Rong Qifel is continuing his exceptional form from last year, only needing one more goal to activate his £220k 15-goal bonus for the season. It’s only January. And he’s still improving….

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So that’s about it for this update, I’m about to end the January transfer window, in the Spanish Cup quarters, Europa League first knockout round, 6th in the league. Not as awful as it looked at the start of this season!!!!

Special thanks to Just M1ke Plays, who kindly took the time to give me some feedback on the blog, he is definitely worth finding on Twitter and Youtube! And also the guys from the Deep Lying Podcast and FM Central, who are always highlighting the best new content (including this blog!) with their hashtag #wearethecommunity

You can find me on Twitter @JDdwerryhouse, or follow this blog here on WordPress.