Everything's coming up Cartagena
Everything's coming up Cartagena
Win by seed? I find that quite hilarious, I have to say.
Last edited by GeneralHankerchief; March 6th, 2019 at 02:52 PM.
I like the way you think Lan
Season 1, Part VII: The Reaping
June 23rd, 2018.
The world's eyes - and Spain's, particularly - are trained on Moscow, Russia. In the World Cup, on that night, Spain establishes supremacy in Group D by defeating Croatia 2-1 with goals from Manchester United's David and Atletico Madrid's Miguel Sara. All across Spain, celebrations ring out as the country has secured advancement to the knockout round with a game in hand. All across Spain, TV ratings are through the roof. All across Spain, the local papers provide a recap of the victory the morning after.
All across Spain, except for Cartagena. In Cartagena, the city's sports-following faithful are consumed with matters far more local.
Our opponent in the final round of the Segunda B promotional playoff was Deportivo de la Coruña's B squad. Despite the derisive-sounding "B squad" term, these guys are no joke in the Spanish pyramid - B teams are subject to the regular league structure as everyone else, with the only exception being that they're not allowed to play in the same tier as their parent club. Deportivo B's parent was firmly entrenched in the midtable of La Liga and it was very possible that some of their players had seen game time with the big club that year.
Although they had narrowly lost the automatic promotion play-in series at the start of the Segunda B playoffs, Deportivo B had still proven their mettle by crushing Lorca D - a team who had led my Segunda B4 for most of the season and had given us problems the two times we played them - 4-0 across both legs. Meanwhile, at the same time that was happening, we were fighting for our lives against a 4th seed. If we were to achieve promotion to Segunda Prime, we would need to earn it.
By that time, I had decided that I really wanted promotion to Segunda Prime. I had grown tired of Segunda B. I had grown tired of the fact that I couldn't assign permanent jersey numbers, the low attendance numbers, and the constant financial balancing act required when making any decision of note.
With a negative bank balance and every single player except for Etienne's contract set to expire at the end of the season, it would take me years to rebuild to even get a chance to get back to this point if we failed here. If we gained promotion, we faced many of those same problems, but at least I would be able to rebuild with greater resources at my disposal and a more attractive team situation.
I projected outright confidence to my players in the days leading up to the match, but internally, I thought we were doomed. Deportivo B was better than us, an offensively potent group that ran a 4-2-3-1 formation that you usually don't see at this level, but they could get away with it through their skill.
In addition, our lineup was probably the weakest and thinnest it had been for the entire playoff cycle. While Deportivo B had just played 3 days' prior to our first match, the same as us, their game was an easy 3-0 romp in which the outcome was never in doubt. Meanwhile, we had been through a grueling meat grinder of a game that required extra time, and some of my players were simply exhausted and in no condition to play so quickly after. Left wing was so bad I had to play a not-fully-recovered-from-injury Pablo Rodriguez. Right back was even worse: the ever-dependable Pepe Ramirez, who had played every single minute of every single game this season and never put a foot wrong, was suspended for the game due to yellow card accumulation.
We did have one advantage: Our overall team fitness was much higher than theirs. This has always been an obsession of mine in Football Manager, prioritizing fitness at the expense of a lot of other factors, but I find the payoff usually worth it. In more comfortable situations, this comes in the form of fitness training and squad rotation to an extreme. Here, it was just intense fitness training at the start of the year, which, combined with the lack of available options at some positions, resulted in probably more injuries than I would have gotten normally.
But the payoff is that, aside from a couple of spots, my players were about as fresh as you could ask them to be considering the gauntlet of matches they had been through in the playoffs to get this point. Deportivo's, despite playing in a much lower-intensity game, were not nearly as recovered from the experience.
That was the one hope I had going in: This was a marathon, not a sprint. With the whistle about to blow for kickoff, there was little else I could do but watch.
5 minutes in, disaster struck. Deportivo B had won a corner and my makeshift back line (one of my usual central defenders, Cano, was playing RB for Ramirez) was struggling to remember their assignments and they scored off a free header. 1-0, Deportivo B, at the Cartagonova. This could be a long two games.
As I was going over in my head how to fix the defense, though, my players proved that they were made of stronger stuff than Deportivo B's previous opponent. A mere minute later, Pablo Rodríguez, my still-injured winger that I threw in out of desperation, sent in a ball into the box from a free kick. Gutiérrez, like he's done so many times this season, rose to the occasion and put in a perfect header that rose beyond the goalkeeper's reach but sunk enough to nestle into the net. 1-1, 6 minutes in.
Things settled down after that. Managers don't hate anything as much as they do conceding off set pieces, and both myself and my opposite number made tactical adjustments to make sure there were no repeats. The match settled into a groove: As to be expected, Deportivo B had more of the ball and the advantage in chances, but we denied them, largely due to our superior fitness. Halftime arrived without any further scoring.
With the second half beginning, Deportivo B had a little boost in their step due to the short break, but this soon expired and they resumed being just a little slower, just a little more tired. Meanwhile, I had already started dipping into my allotted substitutions, switching players solely based off of fitness levels with no regard to positional familiarity. I had a midfielder fill in at left back, with the only explanation being that hopefully he would just literally overrun his assignment if needed.
It worked. We stayed (relatively) fresh, and they got more tired. Tired players make mistakes. Mistakes cause players to panic. And when players panic, anything can happen.
In the 56th minute, Cano, my fill-in right back, sent in a long free kick from his own half as far forward as he could. Gutiérrez chased it down with one defender in pursuit. He had the angle, but he knew Gutiérrez had the speed to beat him if he made a poor first touch. In desperation, the defender tried for a diving header, though I'm not sure if the intent was to clear the ball out of bounds or whether to pass it back to the keeper. Regardless of the intent, the header was poor and all it did was feed the ball to Gutiérrez, who shot it past the opposition keeper.
(The game recorded it as an own goal by the Deportivo B keeper, but I'm not sure if that's entirely fair. Yes, he could have done a better job on handling it, but as best as I could tell the shot was going on-target before he touched it, which, by the rules, should be a regular goal. If anything, blame should go to the defender for the botch job of a header.)
We were up 2-1 and had to hold on. The final 35 minutes were a tense, nervy affair in which both teams seemed more concerned with preventing further goals than trying to score. This suited me just fine. Deportivo B had one final great chance, another free header that thankfully came from open play as opposed to a set piece, but the ball sailed harmlessly over the net.
Final score, 2-1 Cartagena, with one game to play in Galicia.
Deciding now was as good of a time as any to double down on what had worked, I ordered no practice at all in the three days between matches. After all, it was now late June and the players had been playing for me since August, including a final month of grueling playoff games at a far more frequent rate than the normal league games during the season. They would rest up, prepare mentally, and be ready to run Deportivo B down in the last game of the year. I hoped this would work.
Being able to field a healthy and rested (mostly) first-choice XI for the final game of the season, I hoped for the best.
Perhaps regretting their passivity in the final stages of the first leg, Deportivo B came out in the rubber match with an ultra-aggressive 4-2-4 formation, making their intent clear. Secretly, I thought this would play into our 4-3-3 counter-based tactics quite well, but there was always the question of if. If we could withstand the constant attacks. If we ever got breathing space with the ball. If they didn't bag an early goal. If if if.
The hypothetical became reality. As expected, we were subjected to a withering early assault, but we were up to the challenge. My central defenders, the unit I was most concerned about heading into the season and who committed so many mental lapses during the preseason friendlies, were sharp and focused as they headed away cross after cross, made tackle after tackle. You could tell after the first 20 minutes with no score that the Deportivo B players were starting to get frustrated. Plus, we were still fresher than them.
The 4-2-4 is an excellent formation if you're an offensive powerhouse and really need to score, but it has drawbacks. Namely, it sacrifices presence in the midfield. As a result, my midfield triangle of Etienne, García, and Salido, found themselves with more room to work with than they had all season. In the 32nd minute, Gutiérrez, receiving the ball on the right, drew three separate defenders to him and passed back to Etienne, who found an open Salido with enough space to try whatever he wanted. Salido tried for the net and blasted it past the Deportivo B keeper. 1-0 Cartagena, 3-1 aggregate.
Deportivo's tactical error compounded itself shortly after halftime. We started a counter deep in our own territory and immediately went forward, with the Deportivo B players scrambling to keep up. The ball eventually found Etienne, the free midfielder by virtue of the match formations. As the Deportivo B defenders charged up to meet him, Etienne used the space to line up his shot and sizzled the ball past the keeper from 25 yards out. It was the first goal from open play he had scored all season, and it couldn't have come at a better time.
2-0 Cartagena, 4-1 aggregate. Deportivo's gamble had failed, and all of my tactical decisions dating back to the start of the season had paid off. We were ticking away the final minutes until promotion. They got a face-saving goal with 15 minutes to go, but Gutiérrez slammed the door for good with the clock about to expire.
Against all odds, we had done it.
I allowed myself exactly the bus ride home to celebrate. It was June 27th. On the 30th, all contracts would expire and as things currently stood, we were going into Segunda Prime without a team.
NEXT: I gave the players a rest, but my gauntlet has yet to begin.
Last edited by GeneralHankerchief; March 7th, 2019 at 12:40 PM.
Couple of cracking goals there. First Salido beats the keeper with power, then Etienne does him with precision. Big game players, it seems.
What the hell were Deportivo doing with that formation, though? I mean, fair enough if you're chasing a big defecit, but they only needed one goal. Smacks of arrogance, tbh, giving away overloads in key areas around their own box because they think their front four can whup you so hard it won't matter.
Grats GH! One step closer to the big leagues!
Grats on promotion GH. On to the next division with a quarter of a roster XD.
“DaveDob is the best player in the zoom” -Manti 2018
The stats are pretty pedestrian, even for Segunda B, but he's got a kind of crazed look in his eye and it translates to his play on the field. Every time the guy gets the ball his first instinct is to look for the play that causes as much chaos to the opponent's defense as possible. He's an everyman midfielder with the mentality of Paul Pogba, and somehow, it works for him. He was the guy who started the counterattack with that long pass that led to Etienne's goal in the final highlight video.
While he's probably not technically skilled enough to make it in Segunda Prime, the offense hasn't been the same without him and I'm going to try to bring him back.
Last edited by GeneralHankerchief; March 7th, 2019 at 06:07 PM.
As much as, financially speaking, it's a bit brown-trousers with everyone's contracts running out, it does at least present the opportunity to get rid of the humps.
One of the most frustrating problems in FM is being stuck with a bunch of misfits and losers hired on long and over-generous contracts before you became boss. The guys who act stroppy and disruptive are annoying, but their unhappiness makes them easier to shift. Worse are the ones who are happy collecting a pay check just for slouching in the reserves, so you either have to suck up the cost, or risk damage to squad harmony by acting like a $#@! to get rid.
On closer inspection, he's got points in the right places for an attacking midfielder at this level. The things he's really bad at are things he can live without, and the things he's good at have a lot of synergy.
Whether he's got enough to be more than a bit-part player in tier-two football, I'm not so sure. But he's definitely worth keeping, unless he asks for silly money.
Season 2, Part I: The Four-Year Plan
Every season, your team's board of directors gives you a list of goals to hit based off the number of competitions you're in and the philosophies you've agreed upon. Keep the wage budget down. Try to incorporate younger players into the team. The most important one of these is based on competition performance, specifically the league. Achieve your goal, and you're probably keeping your job. Miss it, and beware.
League performance goals can range from "win the league title or else" to "qualify for the promotion playoff" to "top half of the table" to "just don't get relegated". This was mine:
It is, I think, the lowest possible goal in terms of expectations you can get. It's not even "don't get relegated". It's lower than that - "just don't make an ass of yourself while you go back down". It's basically carte blanche for the season. The oddsmakers agree:
13:10 to go back down to Segunda B! Now, I don't see ourselves getting promoted to La Liga this year, but damn! They're treating it like it's a done deal!
While I'm happy to take those no-pressure expectations, internally, things are different. I'm enjoying Segunda Prime and the increased amount of resources it's bringing me. I'll especially enjoy it next year when I have a full season to adjust and identify targets to bring into my team as opposed to this offseason's mad scramble which left me thinner than I'd like at a few spots and dependent on scraps. So I just want to stay up. As a matter of fact, internally, I've got the long run mapped out. Assuming we're not blasted back down to Segunda B at the end of the year, I want to spend four seasons, at most, in Segunda Prime. Four seasons to go from the child who gets a pat on the head and a lollipop for his effort to the terror of the league.
The year-by-year plan is as follows:
Survive > Build > Contend > Advance
I think this is a reasonably fair timeline. I'm already trying to lay the foundation for future success by investing in our coaching, but the bulk of my effort this offseason has just been to make sure we stay afloat. More speculative purchases will come later when I actually have legroom. But for now, it's simple:
(all below lists are non-exhaustive, these are merely the highlights)
- Etienne (MF). I extended the captain's contract midseason last year, so this was never in doubt.
- José Luis Salido (MF). Realistically I'm not sure how useful he'll be in a higher division, but I couldn't jettison our offensive talisman last year for nothing.
- Pepe Ramírez (DR). Won't be the most technically skilled fullback in this league, but there's something to be said for consistency.
- Juan Redondo (RW). The winger ended up leading the team with assists last year and I brought him back at a reasonable rate.
- Jesús Gutiérrez (ST). Breathed a sigh of relief on this one. I was able to extend Gutiérrez's loan from Las Palmas for another season without having to pay a dime.
- Antonio Miguel Cano (DC): This one was sad. My best central defender (and fill-in for the suspended Ramírez at RB in the first playoff match against Deportivo B) was getting older and decided to retire on a high note.
- Rafael Fernandez (MF): The starting midfielder at the start of last season before I replaced him with Salido for his offensive prowess. Overall more skilled than Salido but was aging out and I figured I could replace him for cheaper.
- Paco Castillo (DC): Proved competent down the stretch but I didn't want any reminder of last season's goalkeeper follies sticking around.
- Isidre Cortés (assistant manager): Immediately after sacking him, I threw a mandatory-attendance office party and the entire team gathered around to watch him drive off, going the wrong way on a one-way street and promptly wrecking his car. Despite this, he somehow managed to sign on as assistant manager with Linares, a team in Segunda B4. Somehow I don't think this will be a bit of good business for them.
- Víctor Molina (MF): My first new signing and one I'm excited about. His excellent mental stats will come in handy during the inevitable periods where we hit a losing streak, and I think he can be a higher-level Salido at exactly Salido's yearly wage:
- Carlos Varela (ST): We were too reliant on Gutiérrez last season and I wanted positional coverage. Gutiérrez is probably better in a vacuum, but I want to play more 4-4-2 this year and I think Varela's skill set is compatible with what Gutiérrez provides.
- Oriol Rubio (DC): Loan signing (though I actually have to pay for this one). We needed a lead central defender after Cano retired and Rubio is solid. Can also play right back in a pinch.
- Ignacio Martínez (attacker): Last year, we had too many wingers. I let most of mine go but still needed to cover the position, so I found a JOAT for a reasonable price. He's not really a perfect fit into any of the main styles I want to play with but his early showing in the friendlies tells me that he can still supply danger when necessary.
- Gaston Kevin Cordero (assistant manager): Isidre's replacement. Not a world-beater, but knows which end of a phone to speak into.
There have been, of course, more signings but those are the four I'm most excited for (plus my new assistant manager). If any of the others make a name of themselves (for better or for worse) over the course of the season, I'll be sure to let you know about them.
Our friendly performance so far has been encouraging, and if nothing else, hopefully my team's "show up in the games against the tougher teams" mentality from last year holds (considering, well, every team this year is going to be tougher).
NEXT: Segunda Prime beckons.
Last edited by GeneralHankerchief; March 11th, 2019 at 10:00 PM.
I'm a bit scared that your striker has a vision of 3. Not sure if that relates to his eyesight... since if it does, I fear that he might shoot towards your own goal more often than towards the opponent's.
iirc, the main thing vision affects is the range of possible passes/crosses a player can see. This then interacts with decisions/flair (which option is chosen) and passing/crossing/technique (the chances of making the chosen option).
The combination of fairly high flair with virtually no vision is a curious one, suggesting a player who likes to try the unexpected, but is terrible at spotting opportunities to do so. Very weak passing and crossing means a lot of your moves are likely to end with him losing possession. Best tell him to keep it simple in the pass, and concentrate on his running game.
Season 2, Part II: Post-Promotion Blues?
In the late summer and early autumn of 2018, there was a common theme to most of the conversations I took part in, from high-society cocktail parties with the elite of Cartagena, to everyday encounters on the street, to more professional conversations over the course of my job: So, you know the team is getting relegated, right?
Now, I didn't mind this sort of thing from the media and the oddsmakers, because they were just doing their jobs and they weren't yet entirely acquainted with my genius. I also tolerated it from the team's board of directors, even when we had a run of good form (more on that later), mostly because they could fire me if I pissed them off too much.
But when I got the following question during a pre-match press conference, I had to draw the line somewhere:
Who the hell was Juan Carlos Alonso and why was he talking about things that didn't concern him? He wasn't some nationally-recognized pundit, or a major soccer expert in Spain, or anything else that would give him the authority to talk $#@! about my team. It turned out, he was a colleague. Another manager of a Segunda Prime team, and one that had also been promoted from Segunda B last year. Lleida Esportiu, to be exact.
Reader, learn this name and this face well. Juan Carlos Alonso has just made an enemy for life. He doesn't even know when to back down after I fired back at him through the press.
As for the soccer itself, well. Aesthetically, we are garbage. The post-match report four times out of five focuses on how miserable of a viewing experience the game was, how there was no flow to speak of, how (if we got a win or a draw) we had snatched points that we didn't deserve. They stopped short of outright calling us upjumped interlopers who had no right to be anywhere but back in Segunda B, but that was definitely the vibe they were putting out about us.
I blame our wingers. Their seasonal ratings have been low, and for the most part they just haven't been technically proficient to get the job done. Especially since I'm playing a formation that relies on crosses into the box, they need to be better. While our new signings have mostly delivered, including some clutch goals from Mr. No Vision Varela, the bottom line is that most of the players are far more suited for Segunda B and are doing their best to stay afloat. Even the mighty Gutiérrez is showing his limits, whiffing on far too many headers for my liking and generally not being as ruthlessly clinical as I'd prefer.
But all that said, we're surviving. We're not going to get relegated barring a serious losing streak. I'm going to take partial credit for this - our defense was god-awful at letting in goals from opposing corner kicks until I went into the guts of the game's tactics screens and reworked our strategy - but for the most part our team is just gelling and doing what's necessary to get the result.
If we were playing in England, we'd be hailed as a scrappy, spirited bunch of lads who know their limitations and play around them to great success. If we were playing in Italy, we'd be praised for our superior execution of tactics and our collective grinta. However, we're playing in Spain, where a premium is placed on aesthetically pleasing soccer, so they mostly just hate us. Screw 'em.
Game-by-game breakdown of our league schedule so far:
- Draw, 0-0, at Valladolid. Our maiden appearance in Segunda Prime was an absolute $#@!house of a game. We were dominated all game, a Valladolid player got sent off, and our goalkeeper Muñoz saved a late penalty to keep the score even.
- Loss, 0-2, vs. Almería. Home opener, just an all-out poor showing. I was beginning to get seriously worried that we would never score all season after this.
- Draw, 2-2, at La Hoya. A back-and-forth effort that saw La Hoya get the draw with an extremely late goal off a corner kick. In the dressing room afterwards, I praised the team for their effort and then spent the entire bus ride home muttering to myself.
- Win, 1-0, vs. Tenerife. I brought Varela on late to try a 4-4-2. In the 93rd minute, we broke forward, with Gutiérrez receiving a long ball at midfield. With the defense swarming around him, he passed to Varela, streaking forward, and beat the Tenerife keeper one-on-one to seal the win. I breathed a big sigh of relief. We really needed that one.
- Loss, 3-1, at Numancia. They scored all three goals in the first twelve minutes, two of which were off corners. This was already pretty ugly but could have gotten a lot worse. After this match is when I tinkered with our strategy.
- Win, 2-1, at Lleida Esportiu. Credit to the team, they got this win with very little assistance from me, as I spent most of the match making rude gestures towards Juan Carlos Alonso. We scored the first two goals and the outcome was never really in doubt.
- Win, 1-0, at Barcelona B. At the famed Miniestadi, Gutiérrez got the only goal in the 31st minute of what was otherwise a dull game.
- Win, 3-2, at Extremadura. Our most exciting game of the year to this point, we went down 2-0 in the first 16 minutes before Etienne, our new signing Ignacio Martínez, and - late on - Varela got goals of their own. This win felt especially good because Extremadura had won Segunda B4 last season and were clearly better than us all year.
- Draw, 1-1, vs. Oviedo. This one was ridiculous. Gutiérrez got the first goal in stoppage time and I was sure that we'd walk away with another smash-and-grab late victory. A minute later, we gave up a penalty and Oviedo converted the kick to equalize. Annoying.
- Win, 2-0, at Albacete. Our most convincing win of the season so far. Gutiérrez and Etienne (via a penalty) were your scorers. At this stage of the season, we were in one of the spots for the promotional playoff.
- Loss, 2-0, at Getafe. They were in La Liga last season and we were in Segunda B. It showed. Hot streak aside, we still had a lot of work to do.
- Draw, 0-0, vs. Cádiz. One of our new signings, a midfielder who I didn't bother introducing you to, got a straight red card late. That was the only thing of note that happened.
- Loss, 2-0, at Leganés. Due to injury and suspension we didn't have many active central midfielders, so I figured it was as good a time as any to try out the 4-4-2 from the start. The result was poor, but Leganés is one of the best teams in the league this season and I don't think we were necessarily outclassed any worse than we would have been if we had stuck with the 4-3-3.
- Win, 1-0, vs. Nàstic. This one was looking like another 0-0 snoozefest when Varela, ever the closer, won a penalty in the 91st minute and Juan Redondo, in the first good thing he'd done all season, converted the kick to seal the victory.
So that's where we are. Far better than I could have hoped, and our overall position is solid enough where I felt comfortable investing some of our excess funds in infrastructure and coaching rather than keeping it as an emergency war chest for reinforcements over the winter.
I think a big reason of why we've done so well to this point has been a lack of injuries, especially when compared to what happened last year. Only recently have bodies started dropping, including Etienne for over a month, and that's coincided with the end of our hot streak. That said, it's not the sole reason, as the early part of our schedule was mostly easy and against other crappy teams.
We got knocked out of the Copa del Rey in our first match, a grueling 0-0 slog against Numancia that eventually went to extra time and penalties. Not a single one of the Cartagena players converted their kick, which might be a record. So no Barcelona money for us this year, but we're in much better shape financially so we'll be ok.
Below is the league table as of December 1st. Kindly note the position and goal differential of Lleida Esportiu, if you would. I wonder if Juan Carlos Alonso is still looking forward to being reminded of those comments every week.
NEXT: Our goal differential says we should be about 7 spots lower than we are. I do everything in my power to try to disprove the concept of regression to the mean.
Last edited by GeneralHankerchief; March 14th, 2019 at 06:56 AM.
That's the spirit! Go get em!
Looks like zero vision guy is good at stumbling over his opponents legs and causing penalties at least.
Good job at staying afloat so much. I expect you to fall a bit but I agree that you should definitely stay in the league this year. I'd still consider looking for a winger that you can lend with a buy option, especially a younger one that still has room to grow. You could try to improve him over the rest of the season and see how he develops.
"Fight bravely against relegation" l-o-l you showed them good. You won half your games as newly promoted, that's wildly impressive, at least irl
IN OTHER NEWS:
Looks like a standard Brexit as per the game's modeling. I'm a bit disappointed, as I was really hoping for a hard Brexit, potentially with even breakaway independence movements, but I'm not exactly surprised.
What this means for us: Very little. It will be marginally more difficult for English teams (who have a lot of money) to buy players, which might impact us in the long run, but if they really want one of our guys they'll get it done. Business as usual, more or less.
Anyways, there are strikers like that in real life as well. Dunno why though. Some people need a good rest to be good, maybe?
Last edited by McGinty; March 14th, 2019 at 01:14 PM.
Seems like a standard FMing to me.
Sometimes it doesn't matter how the team gets results, just that they got them. Hopefully things keep up in the winter for you.
“DaveDob is the best player in the zoom” -Manti 2018
Season 2, Part III: My First Sale
Life in the midtable - especially if you're performing above expectations - can be comforting. Oh sure, there's a chance that a streak could put you in playoff position or have you dip a little too close to relegation, but otherwise, you play out the season and watch the weeks tick by.
After last season's frenzied race against time to put together a squad capable of handling Segunda Prime, I'm particularly enjoying the period of relative calm that comes with being a midtable team and, like, most smart managers, am making the most of it. Constantly pressuring my team's board of directors for more scouts (every time they've balked at it, I've pointed to our minuscule wage budget and our position in the league, which has usually been good enough) and sent the scouts out across Spain and Europe. We're building a database of players from scratch, some of whom are going to play for me next year. It's tough work, but I don't ever want to get caught unprepared in the offseason again.
In the meantime, our performance in December and January has mostly been the same. At the start of the year, the media said we needed around 45 total points to remain in Segunda Prime. With us well on track to meet that mark, I made the executive decision to play out the season without any further reinforcement. In essence, it's a minor tank - we're not going for it this season, but we don't need to do anything else to stay up. So we're reloading.
(also, part of this is because the market for winger, our weakest position, wasn't really yielding me anything that could be considered an upgrade)
Instead, we're actually selling. Say goodbye to Gonzalo García:
I sold him to Lugo for €450K. He was our starting defensive midfielder for the past season and a half and more or less nicely made the transition to Segunda Prime, but I can easily cover the position amongst my other options there. Long-term, we have a stronger midfielder coming in over the summer, Etienne can transition to DM as I try to phase him out of the lineup (he's starting to age), and the deal just made sense.
So this is the first drop in our war chest. I'm not entirely sure how a club in Segunda B like Lugo is could afford that amount when I was habitually checking under my couch cushions for extra money last season, but the check cleared. We thank them for their business anyway.
In the meantime, there's still the remainder of the season to play out. So we'll do so, hope that the Injury God will turn His smoldering gaze elsewhere, and maybe, just maybe, sneak into a playoff spot (though I seriously doubt that).
League table as of February 1st:
Last edited by GeneralHankerchief; March 16th, 2019 at 11:42 AM.
tbf to Lugo, they were playing in the Segunda Prime the season before, so they probably had some kind of funds leftover.
“DaveDob is the best player in the zoom” -Manti 2018
Lol Lleida still in danger of relegation. Suck it Alonso.
Season 2, Part IV: Cartagena vs. Lleida Esportiu
(aka GH tries to learn how to use various features of the video editor)
In the blue corner, we have a proud Catalan, who while only 34 years old is still classified as a soccer lifer; a former professional defender in the lower leagues, a man who knows the Spanish game inside and out. A proud man, a traditional man, who fiercely believes in doing things the right way and without shortcuts for the act's own sake. A man who has always looked for his big break, though he has yet to receive it, but has never yet lost faith; a man who views his coaching career as more than simply a job, but a calling; someone who considers it the highest privilege to pass on knowledge of the beautiful game from one generation to the next.
In the red corner, we have one loudmouth American in his second year of soccer management.
Last edited by GeneralHankerchief; March 17th, 2019 at 08:09 PM.
I love this series already. Sadly you two won't be in the same league again next year; it would be hilarious if you ended up having a feud rivalling earlier Guardiola and Mourinho.
Season 2, Part V: Promise and Problems
Our maiden season in Segunda Prime has concluded. Apologies for the lack of updates between the last one and this, but I figured with our safety secured and our business against Lleida concluded, there was little to do but to play out the string.
Final league table:
Position-wise, we dipped a bit. However, quality-wise, it got real ugly for a while. Until we closed out the season on a four-game win streak (including, somehow, a 2-1 victory against Sporting Gijón, who had lapped the league), our goal differential was in the negative and we were a lot further down the table. Never quite in danger of the relegation zone, but closer than I liked.
It was frustrating, but at the same time sobering. We had been riding high for the first part of the season, clawing away wins that we had no business even being in the game with. I think a big part of the team, myself included, figured that our charmed run (remember, we should have been in Segunda B to start) would never end. I sold a starting midfielder for no reason other than I could. I embarked on a coaching course - gamewise, temporarily dropping my personal stats in exchange for long-term gains - midseason. The urgency that we had played with earlier, when we were trying to survive, had disappeared.
Gutiérrez stopped scoring for a stretch. Varela stopped scoring altogether. Víctor Molina, the promising midfielder who I signed with the intent of replacing Salido, saw a dip in form enough where I had to bring Salido back into the starting lineup at points. Inigo Martínez, the attacker I signed, was being played out of position on the left wing and his average rating reflected this. Opponents started scoring on corners against us again.
This string of results told me who I could rely on and which positions needed improvement. The short answer, in an ideal world, is that I want upgrades for every position except for fullback and striker (Gutiérrez is coming back for another year). Whether we will financially be able to do this is a different story.
But it's year two, and the team has survived. Stage One of the Segunda Prime four-year plan was successful. Next up, we build.
Errata: Lleida Esportiu survived, buoyed by a good run of results right around the same time our form dipped. So Juan Carlos Alonso survives to talk nonsense about his betters for another day. Extremadura, the team who won Segunda B4 with us last year, are going back down. Their defense utterly collapsed down the stretch and our 3-0 victory against them was our only win in eight matches at one point. I've already got my eyes on a couple of their players who presumably will be looking to remain in Segunda Prime next year.
NEXT: The summer 2019 transfer window. Time to put my hard-won positive bank balance to use.
Last edited by GeneralHankerchief; March 21st, 2019 at 10:09 PM.
Already looking forward to Lleida Part 2: Alonso Boogaloo.
Solid play. Chasing promotion would've been foolish. Trading your early-season advantage for longer-term benefits was very sensible.
Glad to hear Salido justified his renewal.
Last edited by McGinty; March 22nd, 2019 at 08:32 PM.
Considering the team was suppose to just torpedo down, taking a 10th place into next season feels like a good spot to win. When your main goal scorer just doesn’t find the net lif can be tough but mid-table is right around where I think most unprepared teams post-promotion should take being.
(Don’t think I don’t see you Mill Crab)
“DaveDob is the best player in the zoom” -Manti 2018
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery Dave.
(I liked the cheer so I'm running with it. Gotta build the fan base.)
Looks like a solid end of the season. How much of the money you got for selling your midfielder can you invest into other players? And is there a chance that you can lease your ace striker with a buy option further down the line?
As for Gutiérrez, my plan has been to try to snap him up on a free transfer over the past season or two, since Las Palmas (his parent club) doesn't want to part with him for a price that I'm willing to pay. The problem with this is that they keep re-upping him to one-year deals, so the status quo of them loaning him out to us for a grand total of €0 every year appears to be working for everyone.
That said, Las Palmas got relegated from La Liga this past year and are now down in Segunda Prime with us. This will almost certainly make picking him up for real a lot easier, as he likes Cartagena better than Las Palmas. (and really, who wouldn't?)
Last edited by GeneralHankerchief; March 23rd, 2019 at 10:07 AM.
Season 3, Part I: Estadio Cartagonova, Transit Hub
One fact of life when taking a team up through the lower leagues with the intention of having them contend for European glory is that there's going to be a tremendous amount of roster churn. Your heroes one year find themselves expendable in the next. It's a ruthless way of doing business, but the alternative is sticking with your guys and having them never be good enough to keep moving you up the ladder.
I knew this year would be no exception to the rule. This was proven when I got my transfer and wage budget handed down to me from the board at the start of the offseason:
Two years ago, having these kinds of funds at my disposal would have been cause for celebration. Now though, it was little more than a good start (hopefully, in two more years, it will be considered a drop in the bucket). I had my players I picked out, and those who didn't consider Cartagena beneath their level (a depressingly familiar refrain I heard this offseason) wanted a good amount more than I was willing to pay on my own. Hence, we had to do a lot of selling to supplement the budget.
In reads list form, here were my priorities in terms of areas I felt needed strengthening at the start of the offseason (ordered within tiers):
Winger (both sides, but especially left)
Fullback (both sides)
Álex (MF) and Agustín (MF): Two rotational central midfielders that I acquired last year on frees that I didn't tell you about. They were fine.
Carlos Varela (ST): Was super clutch for us in the first half of last season, scoring a number of late goals, but didn't score at all in the final few months. I wanted to upgrade at striker but I had other priorities and never really got around to dealing with Varela. Hopefully with better service he'll be more productive when called upon.
Alberto Muñoz (GK): Our starting goalkeeper for each of the last two seasons, he was decent and a great penalty saver but the quality of the players he went up against were leaving him behind. I ran down his contract very late on and then brought him back at a cut rate. He'll be our backup for the next year or two.
José Pedro (DC) and Pedro Guerrero (DC): Rotational central defenders that can provide cover for the fullbacks. Fine to spell the regular starters for a bit but I don't trust either of them in extended action.
Oriol Rubio (DC) and Jesús Gutiérrez (ST): Our two loan signings each re-upped. Here's the deal: In an ideal world, I'd like to buy them both and have them be full Cartagena players. But I've got too many other areas that I wanted to focus on, they'd each further stretch my wallet if I bought them outright, and I'm still getting excellent production from them for cheap wages. Hence, the status quo rules.
Pepe Ramírez (DR): Our lockdown right back doesn't offer much going forward but he's super consistent and rarely makes a mistake. I signed him to a short extension.
Ignacio Martínez (attacker): Had a bad first season with Cartagena, but I'm not ready to give up on him yet, largely because he was played out of position for the majority of the time. Trying a few different things with him in the friendlies so far has led to better results.
Víctor Molina (MF): Another first-year signing who didn't do quite so well, but his mental stats are still incredible and I want to be a bit more aggressive with our formation this year so hopefully that will give him a chance to shine.
Etienne (MF) and José Luis Salido (MF): Both are getting older, both no longer start, but I'm not giving them up yet. Salido especially has refused to go down without a fight, putting up excellent offensive numbers in limited action in the preseason friendlies, including scoring an insane 25-yard screamer that would have made Philippe Coutinho jealous.
Sergio García (GK) and Rubén Ruiz (DR) (both on frees): Backup goalkeeper and right-back last year. Little-used and not that good. Won't be missed.
Genís Palomeque (winger) - sold to Córdoba for €110K: Somewhat regularly featured in our Segunda B squad two years ago, Palomeque survived my winger culling last offseason mostly because of his versatility, but versatility doesn't matter if you're not good at either position. His lack of ability to keep up in Segunda Prime was a big part of our winger crisis last year.
Juan Redondo (RW) - loaned to Elche: I liked Redondo, and he was pretty decent for us down the stretch. But I was bringing in better replacements and wanted a clean break. Nobody would buy him outright, but Elche are paying all of his wages on loan, which was good enough for me. His contract expires at the end of the year.
José María Durán (DC) - sold to Lugo for €130K: I had too many central defenders. While Durán had started for us each of the past two seasons, he wasn't exactly a strength. The decider was his lack of versality - the guys I kept could play fullback in a pinch, and he couldn't.
Alberto (DL) - sold to Albacete for €225K: This one hurt. Alberto, while he had a propensity to get hurt, was a very fast fullback who contributed nicely to our offense while providing decent defensive cover. However, the bid came in later on, we were up against it financially, and once Alberto heard about it he wanted out. Rather than enter into a protracted and miserable saga, I decided to act quickly and cut him loose.
Antxon (MF) - bought from Celta for €450K: This one was funded by the sale of Gonzalo García. My scouts fell absolutely in love with him and while I'm slightly more bearish than them, he's still a clear upgrade over Etienne, the player he's replacing in the starting XI (at least the one-name midfielder quota will still be met). Antxon will be our midfield engine, running around the field and making life miserable for whoever has the ball before he (hopefully) wins it back. Low stamina is the only main concern, and I'm already working to get that up.
Martín Ferrer (GK) - acquired on a free: Our new starting goalkeeper comes from tiny Bouzas, a club currently overachieving in Segunda B. He became too good for them, everyone knew it, and I snapped him up when his contract expired. It's a good sign of our progress that we're able to bully (comparatively) smaller teams around and get their best players.
Roberto Fernández (RW) - acquired on a free: My overhaul of the wings began with poaching Fernández from Lugo (yes, the same guys we sold García and Durán to) as they were deciding whether or not to renew him. I think he'll provide more all-around danger than Redondo did.
David Rubio (LW) - bought from Córdoba for €1.7M: We're paying €1.3M now and the other €400K next year. The financial particulars of this deal stretched me to the absolute limit, but I really think it was worth it and we absolutely needed a solution at left wing. The only reason Rubio (no relation to Oriol Rubio, our loanee central defender) was even available was because Córdoba were relegated and he wanted out. A bit older than I'd like, but as technically skilled as you could ask for.
Abraham Valencia (DC) - bought from Córdoba for €640K: Another Córdoba refugee. I'm banking on his good physical stats to make up for any mistakes that he or anyone else causes. 18 pace for a central defender means that he can get back to his position in a hurry if anything goes wrong.
David Escribano (DL) - acquired on a free: Alberto's replacement at left back. Cultural Leonesa, a team in Segunda Prime with us, let his contract run out and nobody had looked his way for a month and a half before I came knocking. I think he'll be a decent Alberto replacement - he won't offer quite the same firepower going forward, but is far more technically skilled than Alberto - and I'm also hoping that Rubio at left wing will be able to shoulder the increased offensive load anyway. We got a solid, potentially superior replacement for Alberto and made a profit in the meantime. Sentimentality aside, that's good business.
So, with all said and done, this is going to be our starting XI heading into the season:
Only two starters (Gutiérrez and Ramírez) remain from our season in Segunda B. Only four were our starters at the beginning of last season. All hail the churn.
Etienne, despite not being a starter, remains captain. I still expect him to see a lot of game time with Antxon's stamina being somewhat low and general wear and tear. Molina replaces Muñoz as vice captain.
The fanbase is generally behind me and supports the moves we've made, but they're a bit worried that I'm investing a significant amount of money and hope into players that were part of a team that were relegated from Segunda Prime last year while we stayed up. Responding to their concerns in the official Cartagena fan-run newsletter, I only had one thing to say in defense:
Córdoba is managed by Germán Bermejo. Cartagena is managed by General $#@!ing Hankerchief.
NEXT: We have very little financial maneuverability after these moves. I find out if what I did was worth it.
Last edited by GeneralHankerchief; March 25th, 2019 at 04:12 PM.
Your players are butt ugly, but your owner is smokin' hot. What's up with that?
Very nice signings, btw. Unless there's something seriously wrong under the bonnet, Escribano is an absolute steal on those wages. If he starts the season well, you might want to offer a better - and longer - deal well in advance of the January window.
Not sure on the player market, but Rubio feels like a stretch. Since your goal for next year is just to "exist" I would have looked for younger players with less stats at the time but potential for growth and used that time to make yourself a nice winger instead. 1.7m for a player that age is money you won't get back, and I don't know if he's going to be a long-time solution for his position either.
I like the Rubio signing. Feels like a player that will help keep the offense flowing for your team. Valencia signing is interesting though. Feels like a move I would make if I was losing to the counter-attack or the deep ball over the top all to often. Overall doesn't look like a bad window.
“DaveDob is the best player in the zoom” -Manti 2018
Season 3, Part II: That Semi-Charmed Kind of Life
People are mostly treating our previous season as an aberration. We're 1000-1 to win the league in the gambling markets, which, for those odds, I'm begging our owner to put €20 on us and if we win, add the prize to my transfer budget for next year. I lost of track of how many players rebuffed my advances over the summer, saying we weren't good enough for them. Juan Carlos Alonso, continuing his bizarre performance art portraying a broken record, says we're getting relegated.
At least the bettors were respecting one aspect of our play:
However, as of December 1st, I'm pleased to report that conventional wisdom has been wrong on all accounts. On the down side, Gutiérrez, while scoring at a healthy rate, isn't anywhere near the Segunda Prime top goalscorer charts. But on the up side... we're in 5th place.
5th place! Playoff position! And unlike last season where we undeservedly stole a bunch of points and made an early run up the leaderboards, if anything, this season is underselling our strength. We've left a good amount of points on the table and I know that, if the injury bug ever subsides (we've had consistent injuries throughout, mostly spread out to avoid a crisis like what we had two years ago but overall far more than what we had last year), we can take on any team in the league.
Our signings have paid off. Roberto Fernández, our new right winger, has been a revelation and the best acquisition of the year by far. Valencia has covered a bunch of ground and singlehandedly saved more than one opposition goal on the break. Antxon is a spark plug and his coverage of the field has opened up space for Víctor Molina to supply the attackers with more dangerous balls than he was able to last year.
As for David Rubio, the big money signing? Well, when he's been healthy, he's been excellent.
When he's been healthy.
Seriously though, the offense feels unlocked. For the first time in three years, we have a strategy beyond "get the ball to Gutiérrez and hope he does something." Not only can the wingers make great crosses, but they're scoring threats on their own whenever they decide to tuck inside. Varela has started scoring again and actually had more goals than Gutiérrez (who's been nicked up here and there) at one point about a month ago. And even our midfielders have gotten into the action.
Observe the following video, from our match against Lugo:
Two seasons ago, I was complaining that Gutiérrez had absolutely no support when highlighting a spectacular goal of his:
(also, the Lugo central defender who starts charging at Molina from the left side of the screen right at the same time he makes the pass to Agustín, and is thus left in no man's land? That's Durán, our starter for two seasons who we sold off to them in the summer. Incidentally, his susceptibility to this kind of play is exactly why I was happy to get rid of him.)
Match by match report:
Draw, 1-1, vs. Alavés. Big money signing David Rubio scored our first goal of the year early on and I was immediately assaulted by visions of riches and recognition. Alavés equalized two minutes later and the rest of the game proceeded as normal.
Draw, 0-0, at Lleida Esportiu. An ugly game. Juan Carlos Alonso, apparently fed up with us, decided that if he can't beat us through good soccer, that he would draw us through dirty play. I had to use two of my substitutions before halftime due to injury.
Draw, 0-0, vs. Tenerife. Etienne missed a penalty late. Started to get worried at this point.
Win, 1-0, at Numancia. That's more like it! Fernández got the goal.
Win, 3-1, at Alcorcón. The game had a wild finish, with two goals and a red card (theirs) happening after the 90th minute, but luckily we had already scored twice beforehand so things were never really in danger.
Draw, 1-1, vs. Huesca. Our tough streak against them continues, having not beaten them in three matches now. They scored first but Antxon got the equalizer early in the second half.
Win, 3-1, vs. Girona. A huge win for us, as Girona are in promotion contention and both of our starting wingers picked up knocks, forcing us to play in an unfamiliar 4-4-2 diamond formation. David Rubio (before he got hurt), Varela, and Gutiérrez scored.
Draw, 1-1, at Cultural Leonesa. A week after they knocked us out of the Copa del Rey, we got a modicum of revenge. Varela continued his hot streak.
Draw, 0-0, vs. La Hoya. A credible result against the league leaders.
Loss, 4-3, at Leganés. Our first league loss of the season wasn't as close as it looked. We were down 4-1 before two very late goals made the scoreline respectable.
Win, 1-0, at Barcelona B. In another good sign, the team bounced back nicely and put in a solid defensive performance to secure the win.
Win, 2-0, at Lugo. See above video.
Loss, 2-1, at Elche. This one hurt. Varela scored in the 2nd minute and we were cruising to victory before they equalized in the 86th minute. Furious, I told the team to push forward to steal the winner, and we were caught napping on the break as Elche picked up a second in stoppage time. The entire team gave me a wide berth on the bus ride home.
Win, 3-0, vs. Almería. We were never losing this one. We scored 4 minutes in on an own goal off a free kick, and Gutiérrez bagged two more as the match went on to break a mini slump.
Draw, 0-0, vs. Las Palmas. Gutiérrez's parent club is in a bit of a free fall after having been relegated from La Liga last year, but they played cagey, borderline dirty soccer for 90 minutes to somewhat halt their slide. Ignacio Martínez, my all-purpose attacker, is down for a month, which might necessitate more 4-4-2 diamond in the future as he's my only backup winger.
So that's where we are. We're mostly limiting the losses and certainly limiting any potential losing streaks, but too many of our draws could have been wins. We're in 5th place and I'm no longer satisfied by that. That's a good thing.
In larger news, the wider world is finally starting to take note of my accomplishments:
This is what Cartagena in the summer looks like:
This is what Leeds in the summer looks like:
I declined the interview.
(I was later also offered an interview by a much bigger team, Schalke, and I took that one mostly to use as leverage to obtain a higher wage budget. The owner saw through my scheme and didn't budge. Ah well, worth a shot.)
League table as of December 1st:
Juan Carlos Alonso is still tabbing us for relegation.
NEXT: Winter update.
Last edited by GeneralHankerchief; March 26th, 2019 at 10:34 PM.