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Romanian FM 2012 Story: Tough. Very Tough.

Hello boys and girls, it’s finally time for a new episode of my Football Manager 2012 story! I know, it’s coming a bit later than usual, and I apologize for that. After a rather rough summer in which we have lost a few important players, Viitorul Constanta were ready to give the Champions League another go. The group draw was not very fortunate though, we were drawn alongside Man United, FC Porto and Sturm Graz.

Without further ado, let’s see how the group matches went…

Sturm Graz vs Viitorul (Champions League Grp E)

Starting Line Up: Tomas Held – Ali Amara, Xavier Dumont, Juan Belencoso, Sebastien Verdier – Hector Fernandez, Joaozinho, Yasen Zlatinski – Dramane Sow, Rastislav Benko, Daniel Mazzoni

The Austrian side was quite obviously the weakest of the group but with Georgica Dicu suspended and Manoel injured, I can say that I was a bit worried. My worries became even more intense at the break, after a half time which saw us displaying a fruitless domination.

Things got right on track just three minutes after the restart though, substitute Peter Guba played a clever pass for Mazzoni inside the area and the Argentinian striker fired it low into the back of the net. Then Mazzoni returned the favour on 61 minutes but Guba was unfortunate to hit the post from a very good position. The striker did better 17 minutes later, he received a good pass from Sow and bagged his first Champions League goal for the club. I was happy with the result but not so thrilled with what had happened in the other group match: FC Porto thrashed Manchester United 3-0!

Match highlights (goals and chances)click here to watch

Viitorul vs FC Porto (Champions League Grp E)

Starting Line Up: Tomas Held – Darko Andric, Xavier Dumont, Georgica Dicu, Danut Gongolea – Yasen Zlatinski, Hector Fernandez, Markus Winkler – Dramane Sow, Rastislav Benko, Daniel Mazzoni

Needless to say that the home game against Porto was crucial… They had some very good players in the starting line up, with folks like Otamendi at the back, Joao Moutinho in midfield or Vaclav Kadlec upfront. Despite those names the game was very quiet for 20 minutes or so, but that calm atmosphere came to an end as a collective blunder in our defence allowed Kadlec to score from a corner kick. My boys tried to react but luck didn’t seem to be on our side as a great shot from Mazzoni thundered off the post on 37 minutes. But we got the equaliser just one minute later, also on a corner kick: Benko was the man in charge. The goal boosted the lads’ morale, we started to push Porto against the ropes and midfielder Fernandez delivered the blow on 43 minutes when he burst into the area before firing into the bottom corner.

The second half started pretty well too, we managed to keep the game under control and nearly doubled our lead on 64 minutes when a header from Sow bounced off the crossbar. That deserved goal finally came on 70 minutes, it was substitute Roman Benes who weaved past a defender before firing home. It seemed wrapped up at that point but it wasn’t, another display of carelessness in our defence allowed Porto to get back into the game just two minutes later. My substitutes were unstoppable though, Benes found a good pass for Peter Guba and the striker restored our two-goal lead on 79 minutes. And he could have scored another one six minutes from time but he wasted a good chance. It was a deserved result after a very good performance from my players. The other group match saw Manchester United smashing Sturm Graz 4-0.

Match highlights (goals and chances)click here to watch

Viitorul vs Man United (Champions League Grp E)

Starting Line Up: Tomas Held – Ali Amara, Xavier Dumont, Georgica Dicu, Sebastien Verdier – Yasen Zlatinski, Hector Fernandez, Roman Benes – Dramane Sow, Rastislav Benko, Daniel Mazzoni

The toughest match was yet to come, the mighty Red Devils were paying us a visit. I’ll just tell you the names of a few of their starting eleven players: De Gea between the sticks, Gareth Bale as a left back, Phil Jones and Rodwell in the middle of the pitch, and, last but not least, Marek Hamsik behind Wayne Rooney upfront… However, the first half saw my anonymous lads dominating their more illustrious opponents and we even had the chance to break the deadlock five minutes before the break when Benko was denied by a pretty good save from the goalie. Manchester United’s first half stats were simply terrible: no shots on target, 3 yellow cards.

We continued to dictate play in the second half but we just could’t find a breach in their defence, so the match ended goalless. It was a pretty good result I guess but it came at a steep price, as Man United’s rough play took out Daniel Mazzoni for seven weeks. There were no surprises in the other group match, Sturm Graz 1 Porto 2.

Match highlights (no goals, just chances)click here to watch

So, we were top of the table after three games but the tough part was yet to come as we had to play both Porto and Man United away from home.

Man United vs Viitorul (Champions League Grp E)

Starting Line Up: Tomas Held – Ali Amara, Xavier Dumont, Georgica Dicu, Danut Gongolea – Yasen Zlatinski, Hector Fernandez, Markus Winkler – Rastislav Benko, Manoel, Dramane Sow

The Red Devils started the game with the same eleven but they had a totally different approach this time, they put us under pressure right away and we survived for just 23 minutes before Rooney stabbed one into the back of the net. We tried to react though and even had a chance to make it all square on the stroke of half time but Benko was stopped by a huge save from De Gea.

We started pushing forward again after the break but we got punished by a superb Rooney free kick six minutes into the second half and the game was as good as over. We kept trying though and came close again on 82 minutes but substitute Peter Guba wasted the opportunity. Porto defeated Sturm Graz 4-0 in the other match, so the situation in the group table changed: 1. Porto – 9 points; 2. Man Utd – 7 points, 3. Viitorul – 7 points.

Match highlights (goals and chances)click here to watch

Viitorul vs Sturm Graz (Champions League Grp E)

Starting Line Up: Tomas Held – Ali Amara, Xavier Dumont, Georgica Dicu, Sebastien Verdier – Yasen Zlatinski, Hector Fernandez, Roman Benes – Manoel, Peter Guba, Dramane Sow

We had a couple of injuries before the match, Rastislav Benko and Daniel Mazzoni, but that didn’t seem to be a problem as Sow bagged the opener after just three minutes. And then we kept scoring: Manoel made it 2-0 by wrapping up a nice team move and Fernandez killed off the contest with a sensational hat-trick in 11 minutes!

Guba scored the last goal after the break but we had a few other chances as well, as you can see in the highlights. That was a nice high-scoring win but scoring six goals doesn’t give you more than three points, unfortunately. Man United vs Porto ended 1-0, so the Red Devils were almost sure of finishing top as their last match was against Sturm Graz. The table was looking like this: 1. Man Utd – 10 points; 2. Viitorul – 10 points; 3. Porto – 9 points. No complex calculations needed, we just needed a draw at Porto to finish second. It’s easier said than done though…

Match highlights (goals and chances)click here to watch

FC Porto vs Viitorul (Champions League Grp E)

Starting Line Up: Tomas Held – Ali Amara, Juan Belencoso, Georgica Dicu, Sebastien Verdier – Yasen Zlatinski, Hector Fernandez, Roman Benes – Dramane Sow, Manoel, Daniel Mazzoni

We had two injured lads before the game, left back Danut Gongolea and striker Benko, while Porto had the mighty Hulk alongside Kadlec in attack. The first 10 minutes were reasonably quiet and, quite surprisingly, it was us who had the first chance of the match on 12 minutes when a great move freed Sow inside the penalty area but he was denied by the goalie. We seemed in control of the game but we got punished by a header from Hulk on a free kick cross and Porto were leading 1-0 at the break.

We fought back after the restart though, we showed determination and Sow bagged the equaliser at the end of a fine counter attack move. Porto started pressing forward after that goal but they were unable to create any real chances until… Well, until they scored… That blow was too much for my lads, they were unable to react and it was all over.

Match highlights (goals and chances)click here to watch

We finished third, pretty close overall if you consider that we lost narrowly to Porto and could have beaten Man United at home. We’ll enter the Europa League knockout stages though, we’ll be meeting CSKA Moscow in the first knockout round. We have already met them twice in the Champions League in 2017 and got a 1-1 away draw and a 1-0 win at home.

On to the boring domestic scene now:

Romanian Cup – almost won, we’ll be in the semi finals ;)

Romanian First Division – 16 wins and two draws, easy peasy.

We are 13 points clear of second placed Universitatea Cluj, I guess they can hand us the title already.

The player stats so far show some surprises, a few good ones and a few that are not so good. The good side is that new signing Peter Guba has settled in perfectly and that Xavier Dumont is becoming a worthy first team regular. The bad side is that two former top performers, Rastislav Benko and Daniel Mazzoni, seem to have lost their scoring boots. I still have faith in Benko for now but Mazzoni might be sold since he is unwilling to extend his contract anyway.

The finances have not changed much, we had some good income from TV rights and tickets but I had to spend almost all the profit in order to extend some contracts that were running out in a year and a half.

That’s about it for now, we failed to reach the Champions League knockout stages this time but we have another shot at the Europa League and I guess we’ll have to do our best to go far there and further boost our European coefficient. By the way, Rapid Bucharest did a good job in the Europa League group stage, they finished last in their group but they grabbed no less than 7 points in the process! Thanks for reading my friends, looking forward to hearing your thoughts.


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Hey Johnny,
You got a very tough group but your team did Romania proud getting some very admirable results in the process. I think you have a real chance of winning the Europa League so good luck for that!


Unlucky in the groups, but I am hoping for a long road in the Euro Cup. You should tell Mitica Dragomir to give you the Romanian title at the beginning of each championship, haha :)) Good luck mate!


Unfortunate again Johnny! But then again you knew it was never gonna be easy and SI seems to have a nasty habits of giving players horrible draws! On my save I have faced either real or barca in the first knockout for 4 of the past 5 seasons with the other one being city! You’ve done well though and have a good chance at the Europa League again. Good luck!

Jonathan Carver
Jonathan Carver

Great effort again Johnny. I feel SI don’t want you to do well with all these bad draws you seem to be getting :( you have a great chance in the Europa League and the domestic scene seems to get easier every year ;) Keep it up mate.


Tough group and tough luck Johnny, a little bit more fortune and you’d have progressed, but, there’s always next year :) I reckon you can go a long way in the Europa League, and, of course win everything going on the domestic front. Good luck!

Darren Smith

That Champions League group was very harsh Johnny, you got some good results and were unlucky that Porto did so well in their fixtures. At least you’re still dominating the domestic scene though and the finances still look excellent despite renewing a shed load of contracts which can be very costly. I look forward to the next post and hope to see a show in the Europa League…after losing all those stars there seems to be some rebuilding to do still but I think you can do that in the summer. Good luck.


Wow, is this the third time you’ve finished on 10 points? Desperately unlucky, although you’ve climbed up the football evolutionary ladder; five game years ago you were the Sturm Graz of the group but you’ve done well to improve. The Porto game must have crushed you, but you know what they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Maybe Rapid’s good attempt at the Europe League is a sign that maybe the domestic league and cup won’t be a formality from now on :D. Also is Dumont a regular started now? Looking at his stats from such a young age, what at first seemed like a risk now seems like a bargain.


You are finding it too easy in Romania Johnny! You seem to win most of your games easily. Shame about the CL, I guess its Europa League this year.

Bence Répási

Hi Johnny!
Even your team is not in the Best 16 this year you can be very proud of the boys. They did a great job and with a little luck they could continue the journey in the CL.But hey, Viitorul can win the Europa League again, so this season can be still great. Good luck!

Martin - F.M.J.S

That is a very tough end to the CL group Johnny. As for the domestic side you are running away with it again which is great and your gamble of paying a lot of money for Xavier Dumont is paying off. Good Luck with the Europa League.


That group was always going to be tough, and the failure to be able to score against Man United at home, when they played really badly, cost you the chance to be in the top two of the group. I am however expecting to see some good things in the Europa League knockout stages.

As expected, you’re completely dominating the domestic scene. Astonishing how Rapid Bucharest could finish last in their Europa League group having grabbed 7 points, which is pretty harsh, but it’s still a good sign.

It’s odd how some players, as you’ve had with Mazzoni, can go from having been playing great, to having an awful time. Somehow I think the fact he won’t sign a new contract could well be linked with this poor form in some way.


I’m allowed to blame the game as I’ve finished top each year for 6 years and had the hardest possible 2nd team in the next round! Haha but I always feel the draws are against me. Don’t think I’ve ever had a team under the championship in the fa cup in 6 seasons either!


Hi Johnny
It was always going to be a tough CL Group and I thought you and the lads did magnificently and were terribly unlucky to not qualify for the next round. I think you will do well though in the Europa League. Domestically you are streets ahead of the competition and I don’t see anyone catching Viitorul. Great job!

Malhar Bhadbhade

hey johnny,
that was an admirable performance by your team in the champions league. after losing so many key players, you still managed to come so very close to finishing second. i’m sure you can do really in the europa league though, and hopefully your strikers will strike form again. good luck for the rest of the season! cheers!

Tegar Triemanudigdo

A good season, and yeah, it’s unfortunate that you have to face Porto and MU in the same group. Well, at least you managed to qualify for Europa League. No heartbroken there.

Anyway, it looks like the domestic becomes pretty easy there, and I have the same feeling as you are (I managed Internacional in my game and haven’t lose so far), so I’ll be looking forward you next chapter mate.


It was tough with Porto and Man Utd in the group taking points off each other, you still have the Europa League to play

Guba is doing really well, I think you won’t miss Mazzoni that much anyway

Those are some pretty nice looking numbers in the finance screen, great bank balance!


That was tough on your side. You did pretty well at home but the results away from home halted your progress. It will be interesting in the Europa League as i believe your side has what it takes to progress all the way. Hopefully Benko and Mazzoni will start score loads of goals for you. For the domestic league, a no contest, the title is yours.


Good job, Johnny! The group draw was really tough and you still managed to get some really solid results anyway. Too bad you didn’t manage to qualify, but it’s always next year… even though I really am curious how long you’ll be able to keep your focus and not get bored with winning everything else in the game :P

Ana Garcia

Oh no! :(

Careful Johnny, you hard luck story is starting to sound like me. If you start losing every playoff game and lots of penalty shootouts I will start to worry!! :D

The game can be cruel at times but I guess the Europa league isn’t too bad as a consolation I mean domestically everything looks won! So at least you can focus 100% on trying to win it.

Best of luck! :)


Aw soooo unlucky in the Champions League Johnny, damn Porto anyway! Oh well; I’m sure you can reach the latter stages of the Europa League again, I’d even put money on you to win the whole tournament. Best of luck! :)

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