Mar 232012
 


Hello again friends, it’s time for a fresh episode of my Football Manager 2012 story involving Romanian club Viitorul Constanta. Confidence was high at our club after six consecutive league titles and I admit that I was extremely curious to see the bookmakers’ forecast for the new season. Soccer odds can be deceitful, you surely remember that we were the underdogs for several seasons in a row and each time we proved the predictions wrong.

Well, it won’t be the case now. We are considered strong favourites for the title and I guess that adds a bit of pressure, something like Real Madrid are experiencing right now. Well, maybe a bit milder than Real, mainly because there’s no Messi in our league :)

Last season wasn’t very good in terms of European performances for our team, but we can surely blame some bad luck for that. We had grabbed 10 points in the Champions League group but failed to qualify and then went out on penalties in the Europa League second round at the hands of Marseille. We still snatched some important coefficient points for our nation, and that moved Romania in 15th position in Europe! And that is almost entirely our work because none of the other Romanian teams managed to get to the knock-out stages of the Europa League. In fact, just one got into the group stage of that competition but finished last…

We also moved up quite a few places in the club rankings, we’re 31st now and I’m quite proud of that :)

Thanks to our work Romania retained its qualifying places, that’s good for us because we’ll be entered straight into the Champions League group stage again if we win the title.

On to less bright news now, our finances were not very good after investing heavily in the stadium and training facilities, so I was given an initial transfer budget of just over 4 million pounds. I had to extend some contracts though, and that budget went down to around 3 million after a few days. But I was happy that the important players accepted to sign new deals with us, those were all important first team players: Juan Belencoso, Hector Fernandez, Ali Amara, Joaozinho and Roman Benes.

A few days later I received an unexpected announcement from the board, they have signed a partnership with Dortmund! It’s quite strange to have them as a parent club after defeating them in the Europa League final a couple of seasons ago.

Our domination of the domestic league also marked a change in the board’s attitude, I didn’t have a choice in terms of season expectations this time: we just have to win the league!

And, as you can see, the board didn’t have too much money to help me achieve that goal. But I managed to raise 8 million pounds from player sales, mostly underachieving youngsters were sold along with a couple of first team players: Ronny Bachmann and Ionut Putanu. I had to face a tough decision in Putanu‘s case as he was the only player that remained at the club since the start of my career but I decided to let him go because he wasn’t good enough for our club any more.

As for incoming players, I had to rely mostly on free transfers. Two of those free lads will go straight into the first team:

- goalkeeper Alberto Maciel, an Argentinian international with excellent skills, a great bargain.

- striker Dramane Sow, an African player with French nationality, a lad that should score when given the opportunity considering his attributes.

The big gamble that I mentioned in the title is centre back Xavier Dumont (click the name to see his profile). This lad was only 16 years old when I signed him and he’s a giant with fairly quick feet, a player that could become a world class defender in a few year. Or maybe not? Anyway, I see this as a big gamble because of the 7 million I’ve spent on him but I expect this youngster to make progress quickly because he will be given first team football right away.

Here’s how my 23-man squad looks like, you can view each profile by clicking on the respective name:

Goalkeepers: Alberto Maciel, Hernan Prestia

Right Backs: Ali Amara, Hichem Belakhdar

Left Backs: Danut Gongolea, Sebastien Verdier

Centre Backs: Georgica Dicu, Juan Belencoso, Sammy Mbarga, Xavier Dumont

Central Midfielders: Hector Fernandez, Hernan Arangio, Yasen Zlatinski, Markus Winkler, Christian Kaufmann, Roman Benes

Strikers: Daniel Mazzoni, Rastislav Benko, Manoel, Zezinho, Steven Khumalo, Dramane Sow

And an interest fact: Mazzoni is the oldest guy in the first team squad at the age of 25…

Pre-season started with a few comfortable wins in friendlies, I rotated the whole squad in those games and I was quite pleased to see some of the lads in action. The last pre-season match was the Romanian Super Cup against CFR Cluj and we have won it again, that’s our sixth in a row.

And then the league started and we kicked it off with six consecutive wins and 20 goals scored. I think we’ll be winning the title again, the other teams don’t seem capable of performing a miracle.

In fact, all the other Romanian teams went out in the preliminary rounds of the Europa League this season, including CFR Cluj that played in the Europa League qualifying after getting beaten in the Champions League third preliminary round.

We didn’t have to play any qualifying rounds this time as we were entered straight into the Champions League group stage draw… You’re curious to see how that went, aren’t you? :)

Well, it went well I guess. We were seeded 3rd and we have Arsenal as group favourites and PSG to fight with for the second place. Sparta Prague shouldn’t be a threat, at least I hope they won’t be.

The interesting thing is that we do have some history of matches against each of these teams. We have met Arsenal last winter and we snatched a surprise 1-0 friendly win at the Emirates Stadium back then!

As for PSG, we had to face them in the Champions League group stage back in 2015 and I remember that we got our first ever CL group point against them! But now we’re much better than we were back then, right?

We have met Sparta Prague only once, in a friendly, and we have won quite comfortably. That was around a year and a half ago, I hope they haven’t improved too much since then.

The Champions League money put our balance back in decent shape but I hope we’ll improve that once our stadium expansion is completed.

That’s all for now my friends, I’m quite optimistic regarding our chances of making it to the Champions League knock-out stages this time. But I’m eager to find out your opinions on that and I’m also very curious to hear your thoughts about Xavier Dumont, my big transfer gamble of the summer. By the way, he’s dubbed the next Maxime Bossis, that’s a legendary French defender in the 70s and 80s ;)


  47 Responses to “Romanian FM 2012 Story: A Big Gamble”

  1. Dumont seems to be a fairly safe gamble, he’s already got some decent numbers in most of the primary attributes for central defenders so only needs a bit of improvement to be worth his £7m price tag. Any growth after that is going to be putting him towards world class.
    Just hope he doesn’t have a bad attitude or breaks his legs and he should be fine.

  2. wow, first of all, congrats on those free transfers!! those are amazing bargains!! and yes, dumont seems well capable of being a world class defender..dont know whether it will happen in a year, but he will certainly be one of the best in about 2-3 seasons’ time. his determination of 18 means that he will almost certainly reach his potential given enough game time, and you are giving him game time…as usual, fantastic form in the league so congrats for that, and good luck for the remainder of the season! cheers!

  3. Wow some excellent signings there, the keeper is world class and that 17 year old look very promising, he is already good and if he has great potential then he’ll be one of your best signings yet. Great work in the CL and I am optimistic for the knockouts so good luck.

  4. A tidy pre season with a small amount of money, can’t argue with that! Hopefully with a bit more mental and skillful strength you’ll make the knockouts this season as well! A quick question.. How do you go about selling players? I try and sell mine and end up getting nothing for them even if they’re worth 250-750k. Thanks in advance.

  5. You’ve brought in a very solid keeper and Sow should do a lot of damage with some of his attributes. Hopefully his composure and anticipation will improve soon, and he’ll be a complete beast then.

    Dumont is indeed a gamble, but given his attributes look pretty solid, I think he will develop very well. The high determination should help, plus being given time in the first team. It’s scary that I have a young lad in my Torquay squad who is quite similar to him, and nowhere near ready to get in my first team, unless we play a really weak team. Liverpool and Man United have been bidding for his constantly during the summer. He’s apparently the next Jonathan Woodgate, so like Dumont the penalty taking doesn’t hold too much hope. ;) I think he’s worth the gamble, because if he develops as you should, he’ll be a long term servant of the club.

    The start of the season has gone as expected I would say. It’s a bit sad to see the other clubs in the league seem to be taking a step backwards. The Champions League draw looks like your best opportunity so far of progressing to the knockout phase. Hopefully you won’t suffer the same heartache as last year.

    • Thanks for sharing your view Ziggy, the comparison with your young defender surely helps me in my own evaluation of Dumont. I agree that it’s sad to see that the other Romanian club are not progressing but I guess I did everything I could to help them, even by bringing some decent youngsters in Romania and then selling them to them.

  6. Good Morning (afternoon?) Johnny! I’m really liking the look of that squad, and it’s a shame none of the other teams in Romania have been able to acquire similar signings. The background information on the other teams in your CL group is quite the nice touch as well.

    As for Xavier, just on the raw stats in his screenshot, I’d definitely say he is a gamble. I like his determination and work rate, but it’s always tough without knowing his hidden ambition stat. Well, that, and I still don’t think anyone has pinpointed exactly which stats ensure a player develops. Either way, I applaud you taking the risk.

    • Thanks Stromson. From what I know determination and work rate are important aspects to consider when signing a young prospect but you can never know if he will reach his potential, bad injuries can stop one’s progress among other things.

  7. Your signing is a gamble, no doubt. But I think he can be a pretty good gamble. Give him first team experiences. Give him some time in the CL. If he plays well, he will do amazing.

    • Thanks Vaibhav. I don’t know if I’ll give him CL time yet because he isn’t ready for that but he will surely play at least half of our league matches plus some Romanian cup matches.

  8. Dumont looks like he has a lot of potential, it’s a gamble Johnny, but I think it’ll pay off (especially if the media dubbing is right :) ). Looks like you’ll win the league easily, and I reckon you’ve got a good chance in the CL. Good luck!

  9. That Argentine keeper you’ve picked up is an excellent transfer, I’d sign him regardless of how many similar players I had in the squad as he’s a world-class keeper who would demand a world-class fee whether you decide to play him or not!

    Dumont is also a marvelous piece of business, with his determination (and terrifying height) he looks like a future world-beater. With a little training in composure and regular first-team football he should develop quickly and all of a sudden the 7m you shelled out will look like peanuts.

    While I haven’t commented I’ve been following your story with some interest and without wanting to tempt fate I’d say you have an excellent chance of progressing to the knock-out rounds of the CL judging by your record against the teams in your group. Good luck!

    • Thanks for the comment Luke. I agree with your consideration on the keeper, he’s worth a lot of money so it’s a no-risk signing whether he plays well or not. The height impressed me about Dumont as well and he’s fairly quick as well, not to mention that he has pretty good anticipation which is a very important attribute for my centre backs.

      • Anticipation is indeed important and his mental attributes will certainly develop as with all young players especially with his det and work rate attributes, he is quite quick but for him to be a world-class player you’ll have to hope that develops as well.

        • I agree Luke, he still has a long way to go. I have put him on an individual training regime to improve his speed and that seems to work well for a start.

  10. Yes the price tag is hefty, but under good leadership Dumont can become very good. How did he fair in the Super Cup and first few league games? Also the free keeper and striker look fantastic.
    You’ve got good omens against the three other teams in Group G so maybe a bit more sucsess on the cards this time round, and I can’t believe your oldest player is 25! It must be some sort of disease but I just keep hanging on to my old guard.
    Good Luck on what should be an enteraining season!

    • Thanks mate. Dumont did pretty well in the first league matches, he didn’t play in the Super Cup. He came close to scoring his first goal a few times but I’m sure he will succeed sooner or later. About the players’ age, I always try to make room for the youngsters so I guess we have totally opposite policies. But that doesn’t make mine right and yours wrong or the other way around, just different ;)

  11. I wouldn’t say Dumonts a gamble his stats for a 17 year old are awesome but the price tag is steep. The CL draw looks good I think you’ll get through.

  12. A very good Pre season Johnny with very little money. I like your GK signing on a free that is good business. I think you have a good chance this season in Qualifying for the next round in the CL and maybe finish top just to prove the bookies wrong again :D. Also I think Dumount looks a good player but his price tag was a bit steep but I hope it will pay off in the long run. Good luck with the season. :D

  13. Hi Johnny!
    Your preseason was really good and the signings will be great addition for your already talented team.I think Xavier will develop to a world-class player.With him there is no doubt that Viitorul will get through the qualifying.
    Good luck, I’m looking forward to this season as always!

  14. Good luck Johnny I am confident this season ‘ll be the best in Vitorul’s history my prediction is champion’s league quarter final at least not to mention winning the league 5 matches before season ends !!!

  15. Hi Johnny
    I just think that you are just a little too sharp to take any gambles so I’m sure Dumont will turn into a fine player for you :)
    Who was that young Irish defender you signed back in FM2010 who turned out to be brilliant? Irest my case.
    I don’t think anyone mentioned Dramane Sow who looks to be fantastic also. I really hope this is the year for at least the last Q/F’s of the Champions League

    • Hey Kevin. I don’t remember that Irish defender to be honest but I hope Dumont will be good enough for the 7 million fee. Sow is good indeed, I expect a lot of goals from him.

  16. It’s nice to see that you are becoming a giant in the Romanian League and everybody is noticing that. I really liked the young African striker you have signed, he looks like a really good player.

    With Dumont, I am sure that things have all the chances of proving to be great: your team has some really great training facilities and I am sure that your coaches are great too and he can surely step up already in the Romanian First League (at least) to help him reach his potential. He’s definitely one to follow even though he did cost a lot of coins there :)

  17. Hi Johnny,

    Nice pre-season story and great youngster signings!

    I hope you gave the Mali and the french 5 year contracts so you can have them at the team for a low contract as I´m sure they will be asking for a lot of money one year from now!

    Good luck and all the best!

  18. I think your champions league group looks quite hard but you seem quietly optimistic!

    I guess that’s always the best way to live life, always looking on the bright side! :)

    On the domestic front am sure its just a formality as you will regain the league title which gives you more time to focus on the champions league and getting into those knockout stages!

    I agree that Dumont is a gamble but whats life without one! I hope he can be worth the outlay and if not maybe you can sell him for a profit! ;)

    Good luck as always.

  19. I quite like seeing squads that have their oldest player as still quite young. On my Leicester game on FM2011 which I’m still running, my average squad age has been around 20 or 21 for a few seasons now, I’m regularly managing to fit in 18 or 19 year olds into the starting line up. My star player is now 28 though, I signed him when he was 24, so that’s put the average age up slightly! What’s your squads average age?

    • I have checked the average age and it’s 20! It will probably go up during the next seasons as I plan to keep most of my players but I doubt it will go over 21 because I also want to keep promoting youngsters.

  20. You’ve done wonders at Viitorul, I enjoy reading your story.
    What I hate most about Romanian First League (and maybe it’s the same in other small leagues in Europe as well) is that in time, after 3-4 seasons you just keep winning the title again and again even if you play with the reserves…there is no other team to challenge and the only challenge that’s left is for an European title.

    I think you can win at least a 2nd place in the CL group this season. Hope all the best and good luck! :)

  21. Johnny if there was a Messi he would be playing in your team (and so would C.Ronaldo too ;)), for a 17 year old Dumont looks very accomplished, should do well but you might not want to play him every game

    It’s an interesting Champions League group, how strong are PSG? They’ve got bags of money, Arsenal should be strong as always but they can’t be as bad as Real Madrid………

    Good luck for next season Johnny, I believe that the Dumont gamble will pay off :D

    • Thanks mate. Don’t worry, Dumont won’t be playing every game, I know he’s not ready for that yet. PSG are pretty strong, they still have Pastore, plus Jeremy Menez, Kevin Gameiro or Lukaku, just to name a few of their stars.

  22. Well Johnny, now that you are beginning to make a name for yourself in Europe, I think spending €7 million on one player won’t be a once off thing. Sooner or later, you will have to fork out that sort of cash to improve your already amazing squad. Best of luck this season!

  23. Come on Johnny where ‘s your next post i am waiting for it from a long time :D

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