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Romanian FM 2012 Story, Season 11: Dreaming of the Final

Hello folks, the new episode of my Football Manager story is here! I know I said that I would publish it last weekend but you know how it is, life tends to get in the way. After winning the Champions League group in style our fans and players were all hopeful of a productive spring. The board were optimistic as well since they boosted my transfer budget up to a staggering 18 million pounds. However, I chose to spend just a small portion of it during the winter break.

In fact, I bought just one player: midfielder Kamel Ben Yahia for just 2.5 million pounds, a bargain if you ask me. Somebody had to leave the squad after that transfer and the man who left was Markus Winkler.

Why did I choose to save the money? It’s quite simple actually. Firstly I didn’t want to disrupt the squad with too many signings in the middle of the season. And secondly, I was hoping that the good Champions League campaign would boost our reputation and we would be able to sign even better players during the summer as a result.

The winter friendlies went pretty well, starting with a 1-1 draw against Bayern Munich and ending with a spectacular 5-1 at Marseille. I arranged that last friendly myself, thinking that it would be a good test before the clash with Lyon in the first round of the Champions League.

Lyon vs Viitorul (Champions League 1st Rnd Leg 1)

Starting 11: Tomas Held – Ali Amara, Xavier Dumont, Georgica Dicu, Sebastien Verdier – Yasen Zlatinski, Hector Fernandez, Alin Dicher – Rastislav Benko, Manoel, Dramane Sow

My only problem before the game was that I had two injured full backs, Tomislav Djurdjek and Danut Gongolea, but other than that the team looked prepared for the big day. The game was even and quiet until the 36th minute when the home side slipped up: a defensive blunder paved the way for Sow and the African striker took advantage of the opportunity and gave us the lead.

The second half saw my boys passing the ball around comfortably. We didn’t have any worries at the back but we didn’t produce any fireworks upfront either. The result was great though, I would have been quite happy with a draw before the match.

Match highlights:click here to watch

Viitorul vs Lyon (Champions League 1st Rnd Leg 1)

Starting 11: Tomas Held – Tomislav Djurdjek, Juan Belencoso, Georgica Dicu, Danut Gongolea – Yasen Zlatinski, Maximiliano Ceballos, Alin Dicher – Rastislav Benko, Manoel, Dramane Sow

Since we had an advantage to defend I chose to start with the counter tactic. Moreover, we were missing quite a few players: Hector Fernandez and Sebastien Verdier suspended, Xavier Dumont injured. My worries were eased shortly after the start of the match though as Manoel bagged the opener from close range on 12 minutes. Things got even better two minutes later as one of Lyon‘s players got sent off for a violent tackle. Midfielder Zlatinski made it 2-0 a few minutes before the half hour mark with a half-volley on a good low cross from Djurdjek. The visitors were unable to react and Sow wrapped things up after the break with a powerful shot.

Match highlights:click here to watch

We were through to the quarter final for the first time and we were about to meet… AC Milan. The Italian giants surprisingly went past Barcelona in the previous round, after finishing the group stage in second place behind Arsenal.

We had some history against AC Milan, but not a very bright one. They had beaten us twice while we only managed to get a draw at home back in 2018.

AC Milan vs Viitorul (Champions League Qtr Final Leg 1)

Starting 11: Tomas Held – Tomislav Djurdjek, Juan Belencoso, Georgica Dicu, Sebastien Verdier – Yasen Zlatinski, Kamel Ben Yahia, Alin Dicher – Rastislav Benko, Manoel, Dramane Sow

We had just two absences for this game: Ali Amara was suspended while Xavier Dumont had to go on the bench as he was not match fit after recovering from an injury. As for Milan, they had Pato upfront, Axel Witsel in midfield plus a wealth of splendid newgens. The game was quite boring for 15 minutes or so but luckily it was us who spiced it up in the 2oth minute: Benko did some great work on the right flank before finding Zlatinski inside the penalty area and the Bulgarian midfielder smashed home! That was the turning point I guess, because after the goal we started to show more and more quality, especially in midfield. And we got the second goal on 31 minutes but that wasn’t a team effort, Manoel did all the work. The Brazilian striker found space to shine again six minutes later when he found Benko with a clever pass and his fellow striker made it 3-0!

The second half was comfortably quiet, we were dictating the tempo while the home side seemed unable to ruin our perfect evening. It could have gotten even better three minutes from time when Manoel rattled the crossbar from a free kick. But that wasn’t too important, the result was huge and the second leg was nothing more than a formality at that point.

Match highlights:click here to watch

Our splendid performance triggered a courteous reaction from the AC Milan manager who admitted that we “passed them off the park”. That’s right, we really did that! :)

As I said, the second leg was just a formality so I won’t go into details about that match. We could have won it to be honest, a draw would have been the just result, but AC Milan won it thanks to a late goal. But who cared, we were through to the semi finals!

And we had another big name coming our way: Real Madrid! Los Blancos had knocked out Arsenal and Inter and seemed on a very good run of form.

Our history against them was good, we had won 3-1 at home and lost 2-1 away in 2017.

Real Madrid vs Viitorul (Champions League Semi Final Leg 1)

Starting 11: Tomas Held – Tomislav Djurdjek, Xavier Dumont, Georgica Dicu, Sebastien Verdier – Yasen Zlatinski, Maximiliano Ceballos, Hector Fernandez – Rastislav Benko, Manoel, Dramane Sow

Our squad was almost complete before the match, we had just Danut Gongolea out with an injury. As for Real, they still had Higuain upfront and Ozil in midfield along with some new faces. I was quietly optimistic before the game, I admit it. But the mood changed soon after the start of the game. We conceded on a corner kick after just six minutes, then Higuain doubled their advantage after another couple of minutes and then Dumont got sent off for a professional foul while conceding a penalty kick. The spot kick was converted and we seemed dead and buried at half time.

Moreover, Real bagged another one shortly after the break. Manoel could have pulled one back on 73 minutes, he had a great chance but he squandered it and our dream was over. Maybe we could have done more with 11 men in the second half but it was a black evening, nothing seemed to go our way.

Match highlights:click here to watch

We needed a miracle in the second leg and we didn’t go too far from achieving it. Rastislav Benko bagged a brace but unfortunately he squandered two other clear cut chances before being denied by the woodwork on a good finish. The miracle didn’t happen, we didn’t get to the final, but I guess reaching the semi finals is another big step forward for the club.

Back to the dull domestic scene now…

Romanian Cup – checked! Our 8th in a row, with a 17-year old lad from the youth team scoring the winning goal in the final.

Liga 1 – checked! Our 9th in a row ;)

Our form was not flawless, we even lost a game shortly after the winter break, but it’s not bad considering that I rested all my important players before the Champions League matches and constantly rotated the whole squad throughout the season.

The strikers did a pretty good job again, especially Manoel, Peter Guba and new signing Jerome Vrignaud. What is more pleasing is that Guido van der Meulen is finally starting to repay my patience with some goals, something that can not be said about big-money signing Juan Cruz Argenti. I guess I’ll give the tall bloke one last chance next season, that is if I won’t find a sensational replacement next summer.

The financial side of things is looking better than ever so I am hoping for a big transfer budget for the summer, along with an adequate wage budget.

But my big expectation is a change in the club reputation. You see, our reputation at the moment is “national” and my dream is to see that change to “continental”. That would probably allow us to sign better players and take the club to the next level: the Champions League final.

Thanks for reading my friends, looking forward to your comments and ideas.

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karl deighton
karl deighton
9 years ago

Getting closer to that Champions League! Unlucky against Real, they probably still have a great side. Domestic scene just getting easier. Reckon one ortwo years and you’ll win the holy grail, good luck!

saltwater
saltwater
9 years ago

So close, but yet so far! Real Madrid were always going to be hard opponents but we cannot forget that you did the double over United, you dismantled Lyon and you knocked out A.C. Milan! Not a bad seasons work I think. I’m going to put all my cards down and say, mostly because of that large transfer kitty you are anticipating, that it will happen next season. Sow looks like a very good player by the way.
Has Romania’s European places increased because of your run? And where do you Vitoruul stand in the European coefficants?
Good platform to stand on, watch out elite clubs! :D

Adam D
Adam D
9 years ago

Apart from the success of your club, I’m wondering how your Champions League exploits are benfitting Romania as a whole.
You’ve already pointed out that you’ve single handedly dragged up the number of Euro spots Romania gets, but are you seeing anything else? Bigger name players coming to Liga 1, player values increasing, more media attention at your press conferences, anything?
If so, is it just you that’s taking advantage of them or are the AI managers reaping the rewards too?

Martin F.M.J.S
9 years ago

Unlucky mate with the Champions League. I think that is a big learning curve for the young defender if he didn’t get sent off early on, maybe the second leg might have been less of a mountain to clime and you might have got through but your domestic forms is great. Hopefully with this years run in the Champions League getting the club reputation to continental won’t take long. :D

vaibhavc
vaibhavc
9 years ago

Your reputation will increase so much because you have reached the semis. Your reason for saving has paid off! Great season Johnny!

TheZiggy
9 years ago

You’re getting closer to the ultimate target, and the finances are looking good, so hopefully it won’t be too much longer before the team make that final step to European glory. No surprise that you’ve shredded everyone again on the domestic front.

It’s a bit strange how Argenti is not quite playing as well as his attributes would suggest he can play. I’m wondering if his low Bravery is something to do with it, meaning he pulls out of making some challenges that other players would have no hesitation about going for.

Malhar Bhadbhade
9 years ago

amazing season Johnny..may i ask which season you’re currently playing? because none of your screenshots reveal it…and i was going to ask this in your previous episode..well, semifinals of the Champions League is a pretty amazing achievement and you certainly hope to sign better players and get a bigger transfer budget.the dream of the champions league win isn’t too far away by the looks of things. Sow seems to be an amazing striker, and going on stats alone, the tall guy you’re disappointed with is probably one of your best players! just goes to show that there definitely are some hidden attributes that determine how well/poorly a player will perform. good luck with your summer signings and good luck with your next season!

Malhar Bhadbhade
9 years ago
Reply to  Johnny Karp

oh my God, scrap what i just said. arrghghhh so stupid of me. OBLIVIATE!

Dan
Dan
9 years ago

Hey Johnny,
Good Champions League run and I’m sure you can’t be too far away from getting a continental reputation. Things can only improve for your team though so I think in the next few season you could well achieve your goal.

Sears
9 years ago

What a sensational European journey , only to be ended by one of the greatest European sides . reaching the semi final should enhance your clubs reputation further , and like you said , allow you to attract more accomplished players to the club . Are the board still expanding your stadium? It seems a little small considering your ambitions , which is a real pity . Once you build a new stadium , you’ll have to wait 20 years before the board will build a new one :( Nevertheless , really promising update and looking forward to see if you purchase a ‘world class’ individual during the off season . Best of luck Johnny ! :)

silva
silva
9 years ago

Unlucky so close to the final only for Real Madrid to get in your way, Well done for dominating Romania I reckon the CL would come to Viitorul in the next 2 season.

Acss
Acss
9 years ago

Well done Johnny, with a little luck you could have reached the final but I reckon it won’t be too long before you achieve that ;)

Darren Smith
Admin
9 years ago

Wow that was a solid effort Johnny, to beat one of the best French and Italian clubs must have felt great. Just unfortunate to ndraw Real, but you are getting closer and the transfer budget for next season should be sizable.

Mariano
Mariano
9 years ago

Amazing Johnny,

It´s a pitty that for just one bad day you didn´t make it, but for sure now your team is between the best 8 teams of Europe so it´s a matter of time till you become the new Steaua Bucarest!

Cheers!

Tegar Triemanudigdo
9 years ago

Ahh…too bad you get lost to Real Madrid in semifinal, but hey, cheer up, your team has made a big improvement there. You already dominating the domestic area so I can’t see the harm for dreaming the final in the next season there if luck is on your way though.

In any case, I can’t wait on your next chapter there. Keep up the good work!

Kevin
9 years ago

Drats! I’m so far behind with comments this week :(

Well, Johnny, I really thought this was the year and even had faith in you beating Real Madrid. Keep going though even if the domestic scene is realatively easy for you. i’m sure you will get to the CL final at some point….you just have too!!!

CsAtlantis
9 years ago

Wow Johnny if Dumont did not get sent off you might just have made it to the finals, regardless reaching the semis with your club is already a monumental achievement, good luck next year, the run to the semis should really boost the finances

Good luck next season! :D

Laxeyman
Laxeyman
9 years ago

Great season Johnny, reaching the CL semi finals is a wonderful achievement, probably helped by the amount of good strikers you have, meaning you have a lot of goalscoring ability :) With a bit more luck you could have reached the final, hopefully next season you can!

Heresy
Heresy
9 years ago

Johnny, are you a magician by any chance? How else can one explain the fact that such good players are willing to stay in Romania despite having no challenge in the league? No offense to the league itself, it’s on a much better level than the one we have in my country ;) but I’m still in awe that your players aren’t whining about ‘needing a new challenge’ or ‘needing to play in a better league’ or something. As long as you can keep this level of players at your club, with a bit of luck, you can achieve your ultimate goal, I have no doubt :)

What about your youth? How many players in first team/rotation com from your academy? (by this I also mean players who were bought at the age of 15-16 and trained a few years at your club) I know this isn’t a youth academy challenge but with such fantastic facilities and recruitment, some tallent had to pop up and get nurtured there!

Martin Pickard
9 years ago

Nooooooooooo so close…Trust Real Madrid to spoil the party! You’ll definitely make it next year Johnny! Hopefully your board will throw some more money your way and aid you winning the Champions League! Good Luck :)

Ana Garcia
9 years ago

Damn Real Madrid! :)

I would still be pretty pleased you are defiantly closing the gap each season and you did show with that home game that the gap inst that far as you outplayed them just lost it in the first leg.

Red card was unlucky seemed that you never really stood a chance but there is always next season!

Good luck. :)

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