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Romanian FM 2012 Story: a Dream or a Nightmare?

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Hello boys and girls and welcome to what probably is the most exciting episode of my Football Manager 2012 story! It’s exciting for a very simple reason: my tiny club, Viitorul Constanta, was about to embark on a glorious quest for glory in the Champions League group stage against three top European teams: Chelsea, Schalke 04 and Ajax Amsterdam. We also had the domestic league to worry about as our title defence campaign seemed on course at the end of August, but I admit that all my thoughts were going to those big Champions League clashes…

The odds were firmly against us, no surprises there, but that didn’t kill our hopes. Dreaming is free ;)

Our first league match in September and first match before the Champions League group stage didn’t go too well though as we were held to a goalless draw by 17th placed Petrolul. One word can describe our performance in that match: sloppy. We were careless in attack and threw away good opportunities while we also allowed the opponents to create some danger at the other end.

But everything faded seconds after the final whistle, we were just a few days away from welcoming mighty Schalke to our tiny stadium. (Normally a club is forced to play on a stadium that complies with UEFA Champions League rules but sadly that didn’t happen in the game so we played these big games in front of a capacity crowd of just below 2,500 people).

Viitorul vs Schalke (Champions League Group D)

Starting Line Up: Octavian Ormenisan – Alvaro Casanova, Edward Motha, Juan Belencoso, Constantin Grecu – Dejan Danicic, Alexandru Lazar, Nenad Grumic – Raul Rusescu, Denis Alibec, Liviu Ganea

Since we were playing at home I decided to start with the attacking version of my tactic just to see if it would work against such a big team. It seemed to work for about half an hour as the lads were playing with courage and we dominated the game but it was Schalke who created the first clear cut chance on 34 minutes. Luckily they squandered that chance and the numbers were looking good at half time: the score was 0-0, the possession statistic indicated 58-42 in our favour while the shots on target score was 2-0, also in our favour!

Unfortunately I had to make two forced substitutions at half time and I was quite pessimistic since my best two players had to be replaced: Juan Belencoso and Denis Alibec. Substitute Manoel nearly proved me wrong three minutes after the restart as he created a chance for himself by dribbling past a defender but his shot was weak and the goalkeeper saved it easily. Schalke immediately launched a counter attack and they caught us, these big teams always do… That goal took the wind off our sails and Schalke could have scored again on 59 minutes. But we caught a lucky break two minutes after the hour mark when midfielder Nenad Grumic was brought down inside the penalty area! Mihai Onicas stepped up… and converted from the spot! We started pushing forward after that equaliser but my lads were unable to create any big chances until the 90th minute. The referee indicated two minutes of stoppage time, the clock was ticking… but it wasn’t ticking fast enough… Schalke banged one in seconds before the final whistle and took the three points… I guess we deserved a draw here but I was quite happy despite the result because my players didn’t look like a small team on the pitch.

Match highlightsclick here to watch

Unfortunately that result seemed to have a bad effect on our domestic performances. First we recorded an unexpected 1-1 draw against last placed Gloria Buzau at the end of a game in which we squandered quite a few chances and conceded on our opponents’ only shot on target. Then we played even worse in the Romanian Cup against a Second Division team, the game went to the penalty shoot-out but luckily we managed to win that. Then we finally got back to winning ways against 15th placed FC Brasov thanks to a corner kick header from Juan Belencoso but after we had been denied by the woodwork on two occasions.

But we forgot all about those troubles again as we were travelling to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea. The Blues were definitely looking for a win especially since they got beaten 1-0 at Ajax in the opening group match.

Chelsea vs Viitorul (Champions League Group D)

Starting Line Up: Octavian Ormenisan – Ionut Peteleu, Edward Motha, Juan Belencoso, Constantin Grecu – Mihai Onicas, Alexandru Lazar, Nenad Grumic – Raul Rusescu, Denis Alibec, Liviu Ganea

Unfortunately the game started in the worst possible way for us as Salomon Kalou made it 1-0 for the home side after just 45 seconds… I was fearing we’d be at the wrong end of an onslaught at that point but my boys held their ground well until half time and Chelsea were unable to create any more chances. However, we were almost invisible in attack.

The second half started in a similar fashion but this time Kalou needed six minutes to score instead of a few seconds. The game ended at that point since we were unable to create dangerous attacks and Chelsea were probably taking a breather before their weekend Premier League match. I guess it was an honourable defeat against a side that proved way too good for us.

Match highlightsclick here to watch

Our poor domestic form continued though and that was more than a reason to worry. We recorded two consecutive defeats after the Chelsea game but the two games were quite different. I can say that we were quite unlucky against Dinamo as we threw away chances again and conceded on their only shot on target while against Pandurii we were unrecognisable and our opponents thoroughly deserved to win. I was thinking about holding a team meeting at that point but it didn’t seem necessary as the squad morale was still pretty good. I did have a couple of individual talks with Denis Alibec and Liviu Ganea, their goal draught was really threatening our season.

We had another away match in the Champions League and it seemed the most difficult one yet since Ajax were leading the group after beating Chelsea 1-0 at home and Schalke 3-0 away.

Ajax vs Viitorul (Champions League Group D)

Starting Line Up: Octavian Ormenisan – Ionut Peteleu, Juan Belencoso, Ionut Putanu, Constantin Grecu – Mihai Onicas, Alexandru Lazar, Nenad Grumic – Raul Rusescu, Joabe, Liviu Ganea

This time we had a pretty good start and Raul Rusescu nearly broke the deadlock on 9 minutes but his header was saved. Ajax was dominating the game though and they deservedly scored the opening goal on 16 minutes. They were really looking as the best team in the group and they made it 2-0 on 36 minutes after wasting two chances a few minutes earlier. We could have gotten back into the match on the stroke of half time through a wild shot from distance by Alexandru Lazar but unfortunately the ball hit the upright.

We played a bit better after the break but not nearly good enough to change the result and Ajax struck again 12 minutes from time. It was all over at that point but my lads continued to chase the consolation goal. Joabe was denied by the post on 86 minutes but we finally found the back of the net through young substitute Ciprian Nastase who fired one into the bottom corner from the edge of the penalty area. Chelsea defeated Schalke 1-0 in the other group match so things were pretty clear at the halfway point: Ajax and Chelsea were going to qualify while we had a slim chance of beating Schalke to the third spot.

Match highlightsclick here to watch

We had to bounce back on the domestic front though since we had dropped into 8th place after the terrible run. Fortunately Denis Alibec ended his 10-hour goal drought against Steaua and he also produced a penalty kick for Juan Belencoso to convert. Then it was Liviu Ganea‘s turn to end his goal drought and he did that in style with a hat-trick in the Romanian Cup match against Pandurii. On November 1st my third suffering striker found the back of the net again: Raul Rusescu broke the deadlock against 10th placed Gaz Metan after 16 hours and 43 minutes of football without scoring.

Our domestic situation needed a lot of attention at that point but I couldn’t stop my mind from flying to the Champions League, we still had a chance of finishing third and I was determined to fight until the very end. Three games to go, check out the next page to find out what happened.

Go to the next page to read the rest of the story.

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Mikulas Nemeth
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Mikulas Nemeth

Nightmare is your stadium Johny…and the new one woun’t be much better. How can they let you play on such a tiny stadium?

Otherwise I feel you could snatch up point or three in CL. But from my experience with a team from weak league defence is the best tactic and let them dominate and you score on counters. It works for me. But at least didn’t get trashed by somebody and as a experience for future it’s great.

Darren Smith
Admin

A real shame to lose all your CL matches Johnny but the opposition was just too much for now. It will take some time to build a squad capable of challenging around that level. On the up side you made a remarkable recovery in the league…I was starting to fear the worst from those first few results but your boys pulled through.

Laxeyman
Guest
Laxeyman

Unlucky in the CL Johnny, I guess your players need experience before you can start really fighting in such a big competition. Still, at least the league form improved, and now that you’ve got no european distractions, I’m backing you to win the league again :) Good luck!

nielsneutron
Guest
nielsneutron

I am confident that you will regain the title.The small drop in performance in the league is too be expected when playing in Europe until you get an experienced team. Too bad about the champions league but I guess you and Viitorul performed as expected.

vaibhavc
Guest
vaibhavc

Its really unlucky to lose all your group stage matches, but it was your first time and you can bounce back next year. You are doing well in the league, And you are in the semis for the Romanian Cup.

Kevin
Member

Hi Johnny
You always had a mountain to climb in the Champions League group and fortunately that experience didn’t have too great an effect on your league form as you make up part of a “Bucuresti Sandwich” at the top of the table:) Good luck with the winter transfer window!

Chris @ Chester
Guest
Chris @ Chester

Unlucky on the champions league front there johnny, But it’s already been said that you now know where you need to strenghthen. You should comfortably defend your title now and come back stronger next season. Good luck mate :-)

Bhargav
Guest
Bhargav

Bad luck, mate. You were handed an unlucky draw but your team still played admirably. I’m sure next season (it looks like you will qualify) will yield more fruitful results.

TheZiggy
Guest

You’re unlucky not to have got at least two draws in the Champions League, but those big teams really know how to press right at the death. As tough as it is when that happens, the main thing is to have learnt something from the experience.

The drop in league form was definitely worrying, but great to see it turn around so you could get right back in the title fight again, which you’ll be able to concentrate on now. You should be able to take the title again, and be stronger next year when you go into the Champions League. It’ll be interesting to see if the ranking of Romania goes up after you made it to group stages.

Martin - F.M.J.S
Guest

Unlucky in the CL mate but to be honest I thought it might happen with a tough group like that. But your recent form in the League is a good sign so hopefully you can regain that Title which Im sure you will. Good Luck.

Alex
Guest
Alex

You had a tough Champions League group but performed very respectably, despite not winning any points. After a slightly shaky run you look set to challenge for the title again. I too am disappointed by Manoel’s form, judging by his attributes I thought he would be fantastic, I guess the injury has halted his progress. I’m looking forward to see if you’ve managed to bring in any quality players in January with all that money.

CsAtlantis
Guest

You can be proud of how you did in the Champions League Johnny, even mighty Schalke only scored 3 goals total (and those 3 goals were against your team :P), you did get a few goals too and did not get utterly embarrassed, the experience should give your squad something to bring into the league campaign, you are still in touch despite your European commitments, good luck for the season

Good to hear that you have a few million pounds in the bank, hopefully a new stadium soon? :D

Lye
Guest

Hi Johnny,

Tough run in the CL. I thought it was unlucky not to get two points at home against Schalke and Ajax as their winning goal came in the dying minutes. It was great experience and i believe you will have a better outing next season. The poor results in CL certainly affected your league form but the team recovered well and could be on the way to the title. Good luck.

Calin
Guest

I was hoping for at least a surprise win or draw in the Champions League, but it wasn’t meant to be. You shouldn’t be upset with the results, simply qualifying for the group stages was amazing and your team’s performances were pretty solid.

All you have to do now is to make sure that you win the title once more and you give it a go once more next season. If you remember, it took me 5 seasons last year to reach the Final of the Champions League, but with an already established Romanian team – U Craiova – so you shouldn’t worry too much – the time will come!

Martin Pickard
Member

Great post Johnny as per…and congrats on a strong champions league campaign, you definitely achieved success as you weren’t destroyed by the stronger teams in the league. Your progression in the league is also good…your in the thick of things which is where you need to be again. Cant wait for the next installment…come on Viitorul!!!

Ana Garcia
Member

Honestly I wouldn’t beat yourself up about the champions league results!

This was your first go and it couldnt have really got more difficult with the group you had, but at least you got the group stage which is a positive and got out of debt.

If you can keep qualifying you will have access to more money and as such will be able to attract better and better players to your club so look to the future!

At least you can now concentrate on your domestic season and re-gaining your league title, good luck!!

Sears
Guest

Well I’ll begin with the CL! Don’t be disheartened at all mate, your boys put up a strong fight against the best of Europe. The £6-7 million you received for qualifying for the group stages should compensate those 6 losses. Nobody expected you to pull off another miracle and qualify for the knockout stages. It’s going to take you a long time to become a force in Europe, your primary focus should be dominating the league, which your doing fantastically well in! All in all, superb work Johnny.

deedge
Guest
deedge

Respectable performance in CL. 6mil in the bank and increase in the clubs reputation. Maybe a few seasons before ur equiped to get through the group stage, maybe a couple of 3rd place finishes in the group and Europa experience over nxt few seasons. Your youthful team will progress and im sure I’ll be dominant domestically which is a great achievment in its self, i enjoy your blogs very detailed and useful in my games, I’ve got Worcester city to the championship division in England using ur barca formation

Mariano
Guest
Mariano

You did very well qualifyng for the group stage and getting 6 Million, it´s sad that you lost the 6 games and many in extra time, but you stood out proud against the big ones and with a better luck you could have go to Europa League.

It was a big gap you jumped between the European teams you faced between the preliminary and the group stage.

Well done and now it´s time to win the league!

Cheers

Mariano
Guest
Mariano

Are you still sending your assistant manager to do the press conferences?

Are you letting him set up the opposition instructions or you do some extra work yourself?

Cheers

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