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Romanian FM 2012 Story: The European Adventure Continues

Hello folks, warm greetings from freezing Bucharest! It’s mighty cold here these days with snow storms and the whole shebang but fortunately that didn’t affect my internet connection so I have a fresh episode of my Football Manager 2012 story for you to enjoy! As you might remember my Viitorul Constanta had a very good first half of the season, especially in Europe where we managed to snatch no less than eight points and finish third in our Champions League group, a position that granted us access into the knockout rounds of the Europa League. As far as the domestic stage was concerned we had little to no problems as we continued to dominate the Romanian top flight.

The most important news of the winter break is that the board decided to spare some cash and boost my transfer budget but not by much unfortunately. However, I managed to sell a few players for a total of 1.5 million pounds with the most notable transfer out being youngster Stefan Huza who left the club for a nice transfer fee: 1 million pounds to Viking. I spent the money on two players:

– a striker – Olexiy Romanchuk, bought for a bargain fee of 20,000 pounds from a small Ukrainian club.

– a central midfielder – Hector Fernandez, bought for a hefty 2 million pounds from Godoy Cruz. Unfortunately I was unable to complete the transfer before the Europa League squad registration deadline so I was unable to register him for that competition but he should become an essential player next season.

The winter friendlies went fairly well as we won all but one but I was pleased to see the lads scoring for fun in most of those games.

The serious business began with the first leg of the Europa League first knockout round, a trip to Ibrox where we were going to face Rangers. They had finished third in a Champions League group, just like we had, but the main difference was that they managed to clinch that third spot with just two points compared to our eight!

Rangers vs Viitorul (Europa League 1st Rnd Leg 1)

Starting Line Up: Hernan Prestia – Ionut Peteleu, Juan Belencoso, Georgica Dicu, Mory Kante – Christian Kaufmann, Joaozinho, Nenad Grumic – Rastislav Benko, Manoel, Daniel Mazzoni

The best area of their squad appeared to be the middle of the pitch where they had a nice duo composed of John Fleck and Josh McEachran. My lads seemed stronger though, we dominated the opening minutes of the game and could have broken the deadlock in the 10th minute through Benko but his shot was saved by the goalie. The domination continued and we finally found the back of the net on 28 minutes when Angolan midfielder Joaozinho curled in one of his trademark free kick shots, from the edge of the area straight into the top corner!  That beautiful goal gave us a well-deserved advantage at half time and I was quietly optimistic at the interval.

The Rangers reacted after the break though and they came very close on 50 minutes when we were rescued by the crossbar. My boys were still playing well though and Manoel could have doubled our advantage three minutes later but his placed shot bounced clear off the post. Then the Brazilian striker got injured and I replaced him with new signing Olexiy Romanchuk. Despite playing well it was another dead ball situation that brought us a goal: Joaozinho was the taker again but this time he crossed for Georgica Dicu who fired into the roof of the net! Four minutes later substitute Romanchuk played a great pass for Benko but the striker failed to find a way past the keeper when one-0n-one. Then the game cooled off a bit, we seemed safely in control but unfortunately a moment of madness let the Rangers back in deep into injury time: substitute midfielder Silviu Pana made a rash tackle inside the penalty area and the Rangers pulled one back from the spot. That goal kept the tie interesting, we had to be careful in the second leg.

Match Highlightsclick here to watch

Viitorul vs Rangers (Europa League 1st Rnd Leg 2)

Starting Line Up: Hernan Prestia – Ionut Peteleu, Juan Belencoso, Georgica Dicu, Mory Kante – Christian Kaufmann, Joaozinho, Nenad Grumic – Rastislav Benko, Manoel, Daniel Mazzoni

We needed to make sure of keeping a clean sheet in the second leg and that’s exactly what we did in the first half, the game was comfortably boring. Moreover, we managed to score just before the interval when Nenad Grumic set up Manoel who found the back of the net with a cool finish. Things seemed to be going our way at that point but the Rangers fought back after the break and managed to make it all square at the hour mark with a well-deserved goal. Fortunately my players regained control of the match after the equaliser and we could have wrapped things up in the 72nd minute when substitute Olexiy Romanchuk squandered a huge chance. There was nothing to worry about though, we kept possession very well and had a comfortable match finale.

Match Highlightsclick here to watch

We were going to face Turkish side Fenerbahce in the second round as they breezed past Sparta Prague in the previous round, 4-1 on aggregate. We were just one step away from the quarter finals, this was becoming quite exciting…

Viitorul vs Fenerbahce (Europa League 2nd Rnd Leg 1)

Starting Line Up: Xaropinho – Ionut Peteleu, Juan Belencoso, Ionut Putanu, Mory Kante – Christian Kaufmann, Nenad Grumic, Silviu Pana – Rodolfo Oliver, Rastislav Benko, Daniel Mazzoni

Unfortunately we had a few important absences to deal with: Georgica Dicu was suspended while Hernan Prestia, Lubomir Cerny and Manoel were all injured. As for Fenerbahce, their squad looked strong overall with a star player in midfield: former Bayern Munich and Real Madrid man Hamit Altintop. We had good possession in the opening half hour but we were unable to create any decent chances while Fenerbahce came close to punishing us on a counter attack on 36 minutes when goalie Xaropinho pulled off a very nice save. Things changed slightly after the break as my lads started showing a bit more determination and we were rewarded with a very lucky goal two minutes after the restart: substitute left back Danut Gongolea sent in a good powerful cross and fortunately it was fumbled into the net by one of the Turkish defenders. I was expecting to see more after that goal but nothing happened, the game was totally boring until eight minutes from time when Juan Belencoso picked up his second yellow card of the game and left us with 10 men for the final minutes. Fenerbahce were unable to capitalize on that advantage, they didn’t even seem to try to be honest, so we clinched a good but lucky first leg win.

Match Highlightsclick here to watch

Fenerbahce vs Viitorul (Europa League 2nd Rnd Leg 2)

Starting Line Up: Hernan Prestia – Ionut Peteleu, Ionut Putanu, Georgica Dicu, Danut Gongolea – Christian Kaufmann, Joaozinho, Nenad Grumic – Rodolfo Oliver, Rastislav Benko, Daniel Mazzoni

The second leg brought two more absences in our ranks due to red and yellow cards, Mory Kante and Juan Belencoso were suspended while Manoel and Lubomir Cerny were still injured. We had Prestia back between the sticks though and Dicu back at the heart of the defence and the team started the game well, we were playing better than we had done in the first leg and we nearly scored a very important goal on 19 minutes but Benko wasted a very good chance. The home side swiftly punished us for that just four minutes later on their first real attacking move of the game, my defence was rather slow to react and the game was all square on aggregate. Then Fenerbahce took control of the game and nearly scored again on 41 minutes when Hernan Prestia kept the score intact with a very good save.

The second half didn’t bring any differences, the home side was still in control but we managed to keep things quiet until the 75th minute when Prestia pulled off another good save to keep us in the game. The match went into extra times, both teams looked exhausted but we had a good chance to nail that decisive goal on 110 minutes when substitute Olexiy Romanchuk came close with a header that was diverted behind by the goalkeeper. Then things got worse for us as Gongolea got injured and with no substitutions left we had to face the last minutes of the game with a numerical disadvantage. Fenerbahce looked to take advantage of the situation and started pressing forward but my men survived to push the game into the penalty shoot-out…

A Fenerbahce player took the first penalty and scored, then Rodolfo Oliver stepped up and scored, then another Fenerbahce player scored, then Daniel Mazzoni hit the post! Then the third Fenerbahce player scored and then… Joaozinho hit the post… The fourth Fenerbahce player scored and it was all over, a bitter pill to swallow but the end of a proud European campaign overall.

Match Highlightsclick here to watch

With Europe out of the way you might wonder if we managed to grab our fourth consecutive Liga 1 title, right? Well, I won’t create any suspense this time because there was none: we clinched the title with five games to spare after a tremendous winning streak. In fact, we went the whole second half of the season unbeaten but the players got a bit complacent after clinching the title and we recorded a few draws in the last games of the season.

We won the title by a very big margin but we didn’t improve last season’s total as we earned 84 points compared to last season’s 86. We improved other numbers though: 78 goals scored compared to 73 last season and just 12 goals conceded, half of last season’s 24!

Last but not least we had the Romanian Cup, we wanted to get our third trophy in a row. The semi final was a pleasure cruise as we thumped Branesti 7-1 on aggregate…

… but the final was expected to be a bit more difficult as we were about to face Rapid Bucharest.

Rapid vs Viitorul (Romanian Cup Final)

Starting Line Up: Hernan Prestia – Lubomir Cerny, Juan Belencoso, Georgica Dicu, Mory Kante – Christian Kaufmann, Hector Fernandez, Nenad Grumic – Rodolfo Oliver, Rastislav Benko, Daniel Mazzoni

We could have gained an advantage before the first minute of play was over, Benko had a close range free kick header just 50 seconds into the match but somehow he directed that over the bar. The domination was quite clear, we were piling on the pressure but the breakthrough was nowhere to be seen. Then Daniel Mazzoni got injured but fortunately substitute Manoel made an instant impact as he was brought down inside the penalty area and Rastislav Benko coolly converted from the spot. Benko had yet another chance three minutes before the break but he fired just wide from a good position. And then we got punished just as we were preparing to head to the dressing room, Rapid scored on a corner kick as their first shot of the match found the back of the net…

Our domination continued after the interval and we finally got back in front two minutes after the hour mark when a cross from Kante was volleyed home by Oliver. Rapid came close to making it all square again just five minutes later when former Viitorul striker Denis Alibec hit the crossbar from a free kick but we seemed in control of the match. That was just an illusion though, Rapid found the equaliser on 89 minutes when my goalkeeper and defenders were caught sleeping by a desperate cross into the box from way out.

The game went into extra time and then to the penalty shoot-out, the second of our season… This time we did a lot better though, eight pairs of penalty kicks were taken but my lads kept cool and won the third consecutive double…

Match Highlightsclick here to watch

That concludes a successful season overall, our domination of Romanian football is quite clear now and we’re starting to make a name for ourselves in Europe as well. Rastislav Benko and Manoel have been on fire this season as they bagged 27 goals apiece, Georgica Dicu and Juan Belencoso are forming a solid pair at the heart of the defence while midfielder Joaozinho is becoming an important asset. I think that we don’t need any major changes in the squad for next season but I will surely try to bring in a few quality youngsters to enhance the team.

The club’s financial status is still solid with little over 7 million pounds in the bank, things should be quite exciting next summer as I hope I’ll be given a decent transfer budget to play with.

That’s all I had to report for now, thanks a lot for reading and for your support.

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Darren Smith
Admin

Well done Johnny, another double just strengthens your claim as the dominant force domestically and as you mentioned, Europe is finding new competition in your team. I actually think next season will be your best by far. Seems like you could strengthen the team further and really challenge in the CL group stages.

Laxeyman
Guest
Laxeyman

Great season Johnny, complete and utter domination domestically, and you’re also starting to make a real name for yourself in Europe, a bit more luck and you’ll go along way in either the Europa or Champions League :)

CsAtlantis
Guest

Congratulations on going through a Europa League knockout round, and you went close against Turkish giants Fenerbahce, also you continued your European dominance, good luck next season, your team looks capable of doing well in the Champions League group stage now

Kevin
Member

Oh boy, penalty kicks, that’s always a tough way to go out but you are making steady improvements each year in Europe. Great domestic season once more and you surely have Romania firmly under your control….in a nice way I mean :)

vaibhavc
Guest
vaibhavc

That was a fantastic run in Europe, and you were on the wrong end of a penalty shootout. That shows how good you were in Europe since it took a penalty shootout to knock you out. Even if you were complacent in the league, it didn’t matter because the title had already been secured.

Woody
Guest
Woody

Another stunning season hopefully next season you’ll get to the quarter finals of the Europa league or the first knockout round of the champions league
Anyway well done and good luck

Bhargav
Member

All in all, a terrific season, I would say :) This reminds of Stromson’s chart of how life is in the smaller leagues of Europe. I believe you’re firmly in the stage where you absolutely *dominate* your league and are starting to make splash in Europe. I hope to see you get past the group stage of the CL in the next issue. The money you would get would easily put you in a new financial bracket!.

TheZiggy
Guest

Another stunning domestic season, with a great improvement in Europe, getting past Rangers in the Europa League. Quite unlucky in the next round; I hate going out on penalties, and it’s something I’m very used to happening to me. Hopefully next season you’ll be able to advance that bit further in Europe, but is a great sign that you’ve made some significant progress.

Ivo
Guest
Ivo

congratulations on a great euro season :D .. are you playing with the barcelona tactic ?

Martin - F.M.J.S
Guest

Unlucky mate with Europe but you are getting better and better each year and it great to see. Also congrats on the 3 consecutive double :). I am looking forward to next season now and see if you can push Viitorul even further through europe.

Ana Garcia
Member

Unlucky in Europe Johnny, losing on penalties is always hard to take.

At least you managed to claim the double and it seems domestically you are starting to pull away from the other teams.

Hopefully with a bit of money to spend you can make another attempt to progress in Europe and hopefully progress to the last 16 of the champions league!

As always the best of luck! :)

Sears
Guest
Sears

Ouch, that European defeat must have been a hard pill to take … On the bright side, your side have improved loads in Europe but realistically still a few years short of winning a European competition. On the domestic front, you’ll continue to dominate for the foreseeable future. On a side note, how have the other Romanian teams faired on the European stage? There’s only so much you can do to improve your nations reputation in Europe .. The other clubs will have to be successful as well. Congrats on the domestic double Johnny, hope to see some more silverware again next season. :)

Lye
Guest

Domestically you are a dominant force and the focus will be in Europe in the next few season. I think we won’t wait too long as you are making significant improvements every season. Lets hope you will get into quarter final or even semi-final next season.

Malhar Bhadbhade
Guest

hey johnny,
as i said, you would probably dominate romania for the years to come. europe is going to be much harder to conquer though. all the best for the next season! cheers!

Calin
Guest

Congratulations, Johnny! You went very far in the Champions League this season and you were unlucky with the penalties there. But you’re doing great and I am sure that next season will be even more interesting to watch in terms of excitement for the small (and now huge) Romanian team.

Good luck!

Paine
Guest

It’s clear that Romania is no more than a training ground for you, Europe will be the main challenge for years to come, maybe more challenging teams in your domestic league could help to keep you’re team motivated?

billy
Guest
billy

keep up the good work you will make it

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