Episode 7 – Learning Lessons Too Late

In my last update, yet again I was looking for a new job.  At the third time of asking I turned down Dundee Utd, and applied for La Liga surprise package Granada who were sitting pretty in 5th spot. However I’d spent too long debating whether to apply or not, and their interview process was over. So I’m stuck waiting for something to come up, when Premier League basement boys Swansea City approach me. Now, I get a bit of deja vu here, this is the same situation that Brighton were in when I took over. By the way, I’ve checked on their progress, the youngsters I signed for them have become incredible, they are turning down 60m bids for young keeper Alex Kovalev, Brazilians Nathan and Amparo are also worth 25m a pop, and generally their future is secure thanks to me.

Swansea are the closest thing I have to a decent local side, being from Wales, so I had them down as a supported club, which was a bonus in chairman Huw Jenkins’ eyes. I knew that rookie Norwich boss Wayne Rooney was in the running for the job as well, so I jumped straight in and applied. Swansea have a reputation for possession and giving managers time in real life, so I hoped that this would translate over to FM. Thanks to my links to the club, I was chosen as the man to lead Swansea back to the Prem after the inevitable relegation. 12 points from safety with not many games left, there’s no way we come back from this.

OR IS THERE????

Draws against Man CIty and Chelsea are followed up by a win against Everton, but a close defeat by Arsenal brings us back to earth. 3 wins in the next 4 games gives us a fighting chance at staying up thanks to the teams around us losing. Southampton and Manchester Utd pull our trousers down and spank us for daring to try and compete with them leaving us 18th, level on points with 19th Ipswich and 17th Villa. It all comes down to the last game, QPR away. QPR are bottom, and already relegated. Villa have Liverpool away, and Ipswich travel to Spurs. There’s a chance here. If these games all go to form, I will be 3 points safe and can have a year of Premier League money to consolidate our position.

So as always, when big games like this come up, I play the whole 90 minutes. Latest Scores are brought up and watched nervously, until the 33rd minute, when Kamil Gilk scores for QPR. Results elsewhere are going my way, no goals at either Anfield or New White Hart Lane, as Spurs named their new ground. I pile on the pressure and start peppering their goal with shots. Angelo Henriquez, who hasn’t been there much longer than myself, is our main man up front, with ex Bayern utility man Joshua Kimmich running the midfield.

In the 90th minute, I give up hope, even after Nacer Chadli pulls a goal back to tie the game. We all stay as we were, my former side Villa scrape another season in the top flight, the days of Europa League under my guidance all but a distant memory for them. My new Swansea side go down, a huge exodus of first team players ensues, but decent relegation release clauses mean that I will at least have some money to spend.

I bring in 35 year old veteran Mario Mandzukic on a free, not having learned my lesson from the Tevez disaster at Udinese. He takes 10 games to score a goal, and is dropped. Hungarian full back Ferenc Limperger is more effective though, earning rave reviews after his 6m move from West Ham. Carles Alena, Gil Dias, Diego Poyet and Robin Yalcin replace Shelvey, Cork and Joshua Kimmich in midfield, who only joined in January, but I got 6m profit on him. That 6m goes towards centre back Raphael Diarra, and my huge vanity purchase is wonderkid Bill Torres, who’s desperate to leave Juve for first team football. I pay his release clause of 20m, emptying the bank.

I assumed we’d go straight back up, looking at the players we had. So did the media, predicting automatic promotion at the very least. How wrong we all were.

1 win and 4 draws in our first 5 games was the best we could do. Dominating possession every game just wasn’t enough, we needed goals. The next 4 games were all defeats, leaving us teetering on the relegation zone. Mandzukic failed miserably up front, forcing me to bring wantaway forward Angelo Henriquez back into the fold. More defeats follow, and the board give me 5 games to save my job. If I can get 12 points, they won’t sack me. So I drastically change my tactics, I’ve tried implementing possession football everywhere I’ve gone, and it’s always led to my downfall. So we go direct, launching balls into the box and hoping Henriquez gets on the end of some.

We win our next 3 games, with Henriquez and unlikely hero Tom Ince banging in the goals. Barnsley spoil the party with a 2-1 win, leaving me needing a win against Luton to keep my place. Obviously we get a lot of shots in, but we only get 1 on target from 10. Luton don’t even bother shooting, and the resultant 0-0 draw puts me out of a job.

So, here we go again. Dundee Utd come calling immediately, as if I’m destined to manage them. I think towards the end of my career I will take their offer just to see what the fuss is about. But for now, I sit tight. Arsenal and Liverpool reject my applications, understandably. AC Milan are in desperate need of help, but my relegation record is a worry and they go elsewhere. Even Eibar turn me down.

But then, a saving grace appears in the form of one of my favourite clubs, Valencia. Mid table, no chance of relegation this season at least. Having them as a supported club pushes me through the interview, and joining in March, means I can finish in 10th place having done nothing to deserve it.

All I’ve done so far is sell on aging midfielder Dani Parejo, who’s been a great servant to the club, and brought in Timothy Nederburgh to fill my weak right back spot. Valencia have very little money, so it looks like I’ll be bringing in youth team players. I’ll be leaving my possession philosophy behind as it brings me nothing but pain, so direct football is the future of Valencia!

I’ll update you all again at the end of the season, when I get sacked, or in January if I get any good signings!

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