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Romanian FM 2012 Story, Season 14: Sweet European Glory

Hello folks, it’s time for a new episode of my Football Manager 2012 story! And I hope you will enjoy it as I will be taking a short break after this post, around two weeks, but I’ll tell you more about that later. As you remember I took over the Romanian national team in the summer of 2024 and that was just one of the big events of the summer as Viitorul Constanta splashed the cash on the most expensive signing ever, a striker from Arsenal. We remained unbeaten through the first half of the season but that was just a small step towards a bigger goal: winning the Romanian league and cup again and taking another shot at the Champions League.

With little cash left after the summer spending spree I decided not to make any new signings during the winter break. Moreover, I decided to sell one of my first team players: Guido van der Meulen was sold for 5 million pounds to Shakhtar Donetsk. The lad is talented but he pissed me off during the first half of the season as he bagged two red cards for violent behaviour. And I decided that I don’t need somebody like that in my team.

This time I decided to save the best for last, so the episode starts with a quick round-up of the domestic competitions. The last 16 league games of the season were not much different from the first 18, we went through them unbeaten and conceded just two goals in the process. Unfortunately we were unable to win them all as we were held to an unlikely draw at some point.

The final league table says it all, we are by far the best team in the nation and it seems that’s not going to change soon.

The Romanian Cup was equally “challenging”, we breezed through the last three games to retain the trophy once again and claim the domestic double.

Now let’s move on to the really interesting stuff: the Champions League. We were pitched against French teams in the first two knockout rounds but I am happy to report that we sorted out both ties in the first leg by claiming rather clear away wins. We did have some bad news though as star striker Jed Mitchel-King picked up an unfortunate injury at the beginning of April, a dislocated shoulder, and he was unavailable for the very important last two months of the season.

Mitchel-King‘s injury was a big blow but despite that we managed to claim a very good 2-0 win against Inter in the first leg of the semi final, mostly thanks to Cor van Wonderen and Dramane Sow who swiftly stepped up to fill in for the injured England star. However, I have to admit that the second leg was quite a thriller, Inter pushed us all the way and they really could have won the game with a bit of luck. We did have our chances on counter attacks though and the final goalless score line was quite a lie considering how the game unfolded.

So, we were through to the final and you are probably wonder whether I was given another chance to face my friend Jose Mourinho. Well, not this time! Real Madrid were eliminated in the first knockout round by a resolute FC Bayern who then got smashed by Inter. We were going to meet Chelsea instead, a team that cruised through the quarter and semi finals.

We didn’t have a very good tradition against Chelsea, in fact we had a pretty bad one. We had only met them twice, back in 2014, and we got beaten 2-0 each time. More than ten years had passed until then though, ten years which saw our club rise through the European ranks.

David Moyes was the manager at Stamford Bridge, while Chelsea‘s team featured a number of quality regens but no familiar faces. On the other hand, I had two absences in my team, both quite important: Jed Mitchel-King, who had just resumed light training, and Mike Broadhead, who was suspended.

Viitorul vs Chelsea (Champions League Final)

Starting Line Up: Nicolas Salva – Tomislav Djurdjek, Xavier Dumont, Fabian Caporale, Sebastien Verdier, Hennie Paauwe, Maximiliano Ceballos, Yasen Zlatinski – Cor van Wonderen, Manoel, Dramane Sow

The game at Stadio Olimpico in Rome was strangely quiet until the 28th minute when Chelsea managed to create the first chance through one of their strikers, luckily my goalie was up to the task and diverted the ball behind with a solid save. Chelsea were playing a pretty rough game and the referee booked two of their players before half time. Apart from that, there’s not much to say about the first half, except the fact that we had our first shot on target in the 44th minute. Quite disappointing.

I made two changes at half time, with Rastislav Benko coming in for Manoel and Alin Dicher for Ceballos in midfield. Those substitutions seemed to have made a bit of a difference and we came close to breaking the deadlock on 53 minutes when Caporale‘s corner kick header rattled the crossbar. Ten minutes later we managed to create another good chance, this time striker van Wonderen played the ball past a defender before firing wide from inside the penalty area. Chelsea were holding firm in defence though and we were unable to find a breach in their defence before the end of regular time. However, we had a slight advantage before extra time as one of Chelsea‘s central midfielders got sent off after picking up a thoroughly deserved yellow card.

Considering the numerical advantage, I made another two changes before the start of the extra 30 minutes: Nahuel Lopez replaced Zlatinski and I switched to the attacking version of my Barcelona tactic. The lads started pouring forward, Chelsea had their backs against the wall but luck was on their side as Benko was denied by the crossbar on two occasions, on 102 and 109 minutes. We had a goal disallowed on 115 minutes due to a disputed offside call but things could have gone a lot worse on 118 minutes when Chelsea created a huge chance inside our penalty area. Our goalie did a great job once again though and the match went to the dreaded penalty shoot-out…

Match Highlights before the penalty shoot-out:click here to watch

Hennie Paauwe was the first man to step up to the penalty spot and he scored! The first Chelsea player fired wide so our confidence received a big boost.

Rastislav Benko, my preferred penalty kick taker, stepped up… and fired wide! I really wasn’t expecting that. The second Chelsea player scored so it was 1-1.

Cor van Wonderen was the next in line for us… and his kick was saved! The situation was taking a turn for the worse but fortunately the third Chelsea taker rattled the crossbar! Still 1-1.

Nahuel Lopez stepped up next, I sent him in at the beginning of extra time for his penalty taking ability, and he didn’t disappoint me, he smashed home! Loud cheers were signalled in my apartment after the fourth Chelsea penalty kick, their lad blazed it over the bar! 2-1.

Alin Dicher stepped up with the Champions League trophy on the tip of his boot… and he blasted it straight into the top corner! Get in there!

Penalty shoot-out videoclick here to watch

And guess what, the win puts me just ahead of Jose Mourinho in the world-wide hall of fame!  :) Trapattoni, you’re next! Although I have to say that I prefer old Giovanni to Jose, even though they do share some similar traits.

This achievement wouldn’t have been possible without my amazing set of players, starting with Jed Mitchel-King who was unfortunate enough to miss the crucial last two months of the season. But the other strikers stepped up and bagged the goals we needed. A special word is due for legendary Manoel, a fantastic player that was the club top goalscorer of the season at the age of 30! I have already extended his contract and I will keep him at the club until he decides to retire, the club owes him at least that much.

I don’t intend to make many changes in the squad next summer, I already have a very strong team. I do have a target though, another England international! This time we’re talking about a central midfielder from Manchester United, he’s very good and he wants to join Viitorul! Unfortunately I don’t have the money to get him yet, as the club only has 11 million in the bank and Man United are willing to let him go for around 15 million.

A quick word about the national team before wrapping up. We started the year with a comfortable friendly win against Australia but then we lost the match that mattered the most, at home against Germany. Brazilian-born Manoel did his part and scored the goal that put us ahead at half time but my team was unable to resist a superior Germany after the break. Their task was facilitated by a couple of unfortunate injuries, both my first choice centre backs picked up knocks before the game so I had to improvise a backup defence that was way inferior to my first choice defensive line.

That defeat leaves us in a precarious situation, even though we are just one point behind Germany. I am pessimistic though because Germany are the best team in the group, I’ve experienced their might first hand, so I guess we’ll be fighting for that second spot with Belgium and Sweden. And Belgium have four points on us…

We have three crucial games coming up, all of them away from home: Belgium, Sweden, Germany. I think that we’ll have to win at least two of those three to qualify and that seems quite unlikely. I don’t give up until it’s done though, we’ll give it our best shot.

That’s about all for now, thanks a lot for reading. I will be away for a couple of weeks starting Sunday, August 26, as I will try to spend a quiet holiday away from my country and everything else. I’ll be in Croatia if you want to meet me :) That said, I will probably be unable to reply to your comments and emails during that period, but I trust Darren to take care of you until my return.

But you can start commenting and emailing now, I’ll still be around until Sunday :)

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8 years ago

Brilliant Champions League success – you probably should have won it before pens so a bit of rare footballing justice there.
Manoel is 30? Wow, where’s the time gone? :) It did feel like the other day the screenshot of him said he was only 25.
Enjoy your holiday mate, but you’ve let us on evil tenterhooks in terms of qualification to the World Cup. I think you’ll make it though.

Malhar Bhadbhade
8 years ago

Wow Johnny…another Champions League win!! that is absolutely fantastic! and to win it in that fashion must have made it all the more special. you have some ridiculously good strikers in that squad..and very good midfielders too…infact your entire squad looks world class. enjoy your holiday in Croatia! looking forward to the next instalment of this story. cheers!!

pedro roriz
pedro roriz
8 years ago

you nailed it! congrast, mate! awesome season, again!
are you thinking of changing things a bit to add some more challenge now that you boss europe? maybe you could try that youth academy challenge that darren went for with scarborough, developing young talents withing your team.
i hope you manage to clinch that 2nd spot with romania!


Darren Smith
8 years ago

Incredible achievement mate, to win the CL with a Romanian club once is impressive but twice is outstanding and over taking Mourinho in the hall of fame is the cherry on top of the cake. I think this summers signings were the telling part, while your other stars played a huge role I think you set the tone from day one with those audacious targets.

Have a great holiday mate, though we’ll speak before then.

Ana Garcia
8 years ago

What a perfect way to end on for a holiday!

Penalty shootouts have been quite kind to you if memory serves me so its another incredible moment and of course surpassing a certain Mourinho!! :)

Thongs look pretty good for Romania so far, its a tricky group you are in but with a little luck who knows what might happen.

Have a great holiday Johnny, you have earned it, I have never been to Croatia but am sure its very lovely so have a great time!!

P.S. 3-2 Barca!! :)

8 years ago

Beat that Jose! Well done Johnny, you deserved to win the CL for a second time, even if it was on pens. You were denied by the crossbar thrice as well. Have fun on your holiday! And does that mean you wont be on the next podcast?

Karl Deighton
8 years ago

Well done on your second Champions League trophy with Viitorul, simply brilliant!
I’ve lost count of how many League titles you’ve on in a row, 10, 11?
The finances have took a bit of a dip, probably down to Mitchell-King’s signing, but it’s not too bad and I’m sure they’ll rise over the coming seasons.
Have a nice holiday and break from FM :D

8 years ago

Hi Johnny

Very exciting end to the season and I wouldn’t have minded being a fly on the wall in your apartment when you shouted out. I bet you disturbed half of Sector 2 !! :)

Great stuff as always and enjoy a well deserved vacation as I know it’s been a very busy year for you.

8 years ago

Congrats on another terrific treble-winning season!

Have you considered maybe buying the United midfielder with installment payments? Since you’re completely debt free something like 5mil shouldn’t affect you too much, especially once you get your CL money.

8 years ago

Another stunning season, in which the domestic teams are dropping even further away from the fight.

That penalty shoot-out certainly put you through all the emotions, but in the end the right team won.

8 years ago

A great season, Johnny and congrats on getting the second Champions League win over Chelsea this time!

I find it very interesting how the Romanian Liga I table looks like this season, with Branesti second (and getting a draw against you) and Astra third. Very interesting :))

Tegar Triemanudigdo
8 years ago

Another great season Johnny! And I have to say you have done yourself outstanding job there! Though it was pretty tough there with the national team but I have the feeling you can endure the challenge there.

Enjoy your holiday mates!

8 years ago

Great season Johnny enjoy your holiday!

8 years ago

Congratulations on winning the league, cup and Champions League again! Too bad Mitchel-King had to sit out the Champions League final but you still did it in the penalty shootout

Hopefully in the next window we’ll see this English international central midfielder in your club

Enjoy your holidays Johnny!

Gaurav Chaddah
Gaurav Chaddah
8 years ago

Nice end to the season their mate, you have done incredible to win another champions league, well done and enjoy your holiday mate, you deserve it.

8 years ago

Nice work and good luck with the national team.

8 years ago

Sorry for the late comment mate. Congratulations on the CL triumph. Your guys really kept the composure in the spot kick. Winning the CL twice is a great feeling. Enjoy your success and holiday. Guess you are on Croatia roads now :)

Victor Baluta
8 years ago

Congratulations for winning the CL again with your powerful team. Now I hope you will play same football next season and keep the trophy in Romania for another year.

About the national side, the situation isn’t the best and the qualification looks far away but I have confidence that you may get it.

Good luck and wish you a nice time in Croatia!

8 years ago

Really loving your story. What tactic are you using for your success? Is it available for download because I really want a successful tactic!

Darren Smith
8 years ago
Reply to  ben
Steven Gerrard
Steven Gerrard
8 years ago

Wow ! I really loved reading this adventure of yours with Viitorul Constanta, you managed to turn a team of youths into the best one in Europe ! Great blog & will keep reading stories from now on !


Bill Okpalor
8 years ago

Good Job You Won The Champions League

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