Mar 032012
 


Hello again my friends and welcome to a new episode of my Football Manager 2012 story, the fairytale that transformed Viitorul Constanta from an anonymous club in the Romanian Second Division into a club that is closely watched by Europe’s greatest. You surely remember that we have won the Europa League last season, a highly unlikely achievement, especially after we got thrashed 4-0 by Marseille in the first leg of the semi final. I guess we pulled off a miracle back then but the difficult part is ahead of us as now we have to maintain our status in Europe with a good performance in the Champions League.

There will be quite a few pieces of good news in this post but I’ll start with the very best: the sports betting websites decided to stop losing money as they finally consider us as favourites for the Liga 1 title. It took six consecutive titles to get there but it’s better late then never :)

I’m also happy to report that the Romanian top flight has moved up quite well in the European Competition Rankings, we have a much better reputation now thanks to our Europa League achievement. The English Premier League remains the best competition in Europe and I doubt I’ll ever manage to change that.

We have also moved up in the European club rankings, we have entered the top 50 now and the next target is the top 25.

All those improvements also changed the country’s coefficient and that means we will go straight into the Champions League group stage next season! That is if we win the league but I guess we probably will ;)

Last but not least, our stadium will be welcoming more people next spring! Not many more but this is another step in the right direction for the club.

OK, enough is enough, now let’s move on to the part you like the most: the transfers! The chairman and his mates were quite generous this time as they set the initial transfer budget at an all-time high: just over 13 million pounds!

I’ll present the outgoing names list first, not many sales this summer but we managed to bring 12.5 million quid into the club. As you might notice there are a few names from the first team that have left, three names to be more precise: full backs Mory Kante and Lubomir Cerny got sold because they were unwilling to extend their contracts while Moussa Sane was sold because of a rather nasty conversation with his manager (that’s me!).

As for the incoming transfers, we spent a total of 18.75 million pounds on quite a few exciting names. However, only a few of them will go straight into the first team and you will be able to see who they are in a few seconds.

Now let me give you the full image of the 23-man squad that I hope will lead us to more happy moments this season (click the names to see the player profiles):

Goalkeepers

Hernan Prestia, Mihai Manecan – no changes here even though I actively searched for a new goalkeeper. I haven’t found the right one though.

Right Backs

Ali Amara, Hichem Belakhdar – Cerny was sold so I had to find a replacement and I guess Belakhdar is a good one, a solid and still young French player.

Left Backs

Danut Gongolea, Sebastien Verdier – I had to find a new lad after selling Kante and I was pleased to get another Frenchman, Verdier, who should become a top full back pretty soon.

Centre Backs

Juan Belencoso, Georgica Dicu, Ionut Putanu, Sammy Mbarga – just one new name here, that’s Mbarga, a strong African defender with a very useful Romanian passport.

Central Midfielders

Hector Fernandez, Markus Winkler, Yasen Zlatinski, Joaozinho, Christian Kaufmann, Hernan Arangio, Roman Benes – no changes at all here, I’m very pleased with my midfielders and quite hopeful as well since most of them still have some room for progress.

Strikers

Manoel, Rastislav Benko, Zezinho, Daniel Mazzoni, Ronny Bachmann, Steven Khumalo – there are two new names here, both signed as backup players. However, I felt I needed these two better backups (Bachmann and Khumalo) to keep the star strikers on their toes and also to have viable options in case of an injury crisis like we had last season.

The bottom line is that I didn’t sign any star players and that is because I have a lot of faith in my youngsters, most of them were raised at this club from very young ages and I feel that the team spirit is an important asset for this club. Some of them did voice demands of moving to bigger clubs but all of them were very understanding when I promised them that this club will continue to make progress on the road to becoming a household name in Europe. I think we have much better depth now as the backup players are closing in on the first team regulars in terms of quality.

Our pre-season started with a few comfy friendlies, then we won the Romanian Super Cup again before showing our superiority in the league matches. The Champions League qualifying rounds were not very testing but we did have a difficult time in the last round against Polish champions Lech Poznan.

There was only one match I could think about though, the last match in the month of August, and the biggest challenge of the season so far: the UEFA Super Cup against Champions League holders A.C. Milan.

A.C. Milan vs Viitorul (UEFA Super Cup)

Starting Line Up: Hernan Prestia – Ali Amara, Juan Belencoso, Georgica Dicu, Danut Gongolea – Yasen Zlatinski, Hector Fernandez, Markus Winkler – Zezinho, Rastislav Benko, Daniel Mazzoni

As expected, Milan‘s eleven was quite scary with Pato upfront and a talented trio behind him: Alex Teixeira, Christian Eriksen and Willian. Unfortunately we didn’t have much time to enjoy the atmosphere as the Italian giants scored on the very first attack, Teixeira bagged a fine volley just six minutes into the game. We could have restored parity six minutes later when Zezinho did some fine work to set up Winkler inside the penalty area but the midfielder fired wide from a great position. Both teams started playing quite badly after those lively initial moments but, as it often happens, big teams score even when they are not playing well: Milan made it 2-0 on a free kick just two minutes before half time.

We were unable to react after the break and Milan nailed us again seven minutes after the restart thanks to a fine solo effort from Eriksen. I thought it was all over at that point but my lads didn’t give up and Mazzoni came close on 68 minutes when his vicious shot slammed against the post. We finally scored one six minutes from time thanks to a deflected shot from Hector Fernandez and then pulled another one back on the stroke of full time through Zezinho. It was too late to matter though. However, if you look at the stats you could say that there wasn’t a big difference between the two teams, I think Milan won it only thanks to their superior (and rather cruel) efficiency.

Match Highlights (goals and chances):click here to watch

We will have two chances to get revenge pretty soon though as we are bound to face Milan in the Champions League group stage! We were seeded third this time but that didn’t do us much good as we got the toughest possible team from the fourth pot, PSV Eindhoven. However, I think we got lucky with the second seed as we got Stuttgart instead of bigger names. So I guess we do have a real chance of finishing second this time but we’ll have to play really well in all six matches.

Before wrapping up I’m pleased to report that our finances are still looking very healthy, I guess we might have some more money to spend during the winter break if I’ll manage to find the right players.

That’s about it folks, thanks a lot for reading and for the feedback that you will surely provide in the comments ;)


  51 Responses to “Romanian FM 2012 Story: Another Few Steps Forward”

  1. Were you not supposed to enter the group stages or is that for next season?

    Anyway you are doing great. With some luck you should be able to grap that 2nd place but 3rd would not be a disaster in that group.

    Btw is Aksel Mengel from OB a dane?

    • That’s for next season mate, this season we had one less preliminary round to go through compared to last season. And yes, Mengel is a Dane, a 16-year old goalie that could become a decent choice between the sticks.

  2. Hi Johnny
    You have assembled a very young and talented team and I very much like your new left back Verdier. A slight scare away to Lech though you surely dispatched them in the return leg back home. Your Champions League group does offer the possibility of you advancing this time to the knockout round. Good luck for the new season.

  3. I thought it was going to be a full season report :( A great start though! The Romanian league is really going places let’s the others in the league can catch up. I think the squad looks a lot more balanced now with your signings, I was expecting at least one wonder kid though :P

    • Nah, I rarely do full season reports ;) I agree that the squad is more balanced now and I admit that I’m constantly searching for wonder kids but unfortunately I was unable to bring any of those in this time. But I do keep a close eye on some lads ;)

  4. Looks like you’ve pulled in some excellent new players to act as backup. I think it’s a good thing to not be bringing in any real stars, as I’m sure they’d just destabilize things after a while. Big egos tend to just cause problems from my experience.

    There was lots of excellent news to start the post, with the reputation of the club and Romania rising very well. This has to make things easier in the long run, if you don’t need to playing qualifying rounds to reach the group stage.

    You gave A.C. Milan a good match, so you may be able to gain revenge on them in the group matches. This definitely looks like the best opportunity to grab a second place in the group so far, even though PSV and Stuttgart are by no means poor teams.

    • Thanks for the comment Ziggy, I agree with your considerations. PSV and Stuttgart are strong but if we play like we did last season then we might have a chance.

  5. When a manager can confindently call up anyone from the U18′s than that’s when you have got a really good youth set up. You have single-handedly transformed Romanian football in Europe, and this year I would put money on Vitoruul getting to the knockout stages.
    And finally, why did Farul need 10 of your players?

    • Thanks mate. About Farul, they are our feeder club and they requested around 3 players on loan, the others have been sent by me and will probably be recalled if they don’t get enough starts in their first team.

  6. Well done Johnny, I think the fact you bought rotational and backup players is a sign of how strong the squad is and its even stronger now. Looking at that CL draw makes me think you could reach the knockout rounds this year, especially after a good effort against AC in the Super Cup…good luck.

  7. Well done on securing those young defenders, they all appear to be very talented. hard luck on that narrow defeat to milan, but taking the positives out of it, you can see how close you are to the top teams in europe. i think if you can make the knockout rounds of the champions league this season, it will be a massive boost both financially and in terms of experience for your club. and who knows, with a lucky draw or too, you might even make the quarters or semi-finals. as usual, congrats on the league season you’ve been having so far. you should win that with ease as you have been doing. good luck for the rest of the season. cheers! :D

    • Thanks Malhar. About Milan, they have an awesome regen that didn’t play in the Super Cup but will probably play in the group stage. If he does, I’ll provide a screen shot of his profile ;)

  8. Wow a few first teamers left but you have spent on their replacements, a bit unlucky against AC Milan in the Super Cup but they are known to be quite ruthless with their finishing, hopefully you can make it to the knockout stages of the Champions League this year, good luck Johnny

  9. A great start there! And I can see you bring a lot of players there considering the fact that you’ve got a lot of money.

    Anyway, Looks like it will be tough in UCL but I believe that your squad have got what it takes into knockout stage with a bit of luck.

  10. A good start to the season Johnny, Unlucky against AC Milan but a good effort. I’m liking the CL draw, I think you got the team to get into second place and it would be nice to get a result against AC Milan. :)

  11. When I saw the transfer picture, I thought that Farul is your feeder club, can you confirm that? And thats great work increasing your coefficient, because of you, one team goes straight into the group stages, well done!

  12. Hey Johnny unlucky to see you lose to AC Milan but you have 2 chances in the champions league to make them suffer. Looking forward to your upcoming post!!

  13. Good start Johnny, the usual domination of the domestic league looks like it’s well under way, and the CL group doesn’t look as tough as it previously has been, and I think you’ve got a good chance of qualifying :) Unlucky in the Super Cup, your boys put up a brave fight, and good luck in the CL!

  14. I reckon this is the season where you will qualify from the CL group stages, especially considering you’re performance against Milan! PSV and Stuttgart are excellent teams, but quality wise I think you are on par with them, or else you aren’t far from them. You possess an awesome young team, and as usual, you’ve already began dominating the league. Best of luck Johnny!

  15. Hi Johnny, that was a wonderful thing, helping your country and your league. Looking forward to your champions league battle these year. BTW congrats on your Europa League win.
    Joe Lance

  16. Hey Johnny, looking good! You’ve done wonders in turning the Romanian league around! Of course your monumental success in Europe has been a huge part of that, and hopefully some of that talent trickles down to the rest of the league.

    On a more personal note, are you still enjoying this story? You haven’t seemed as enthusiastic as you’ve been in the past with the likes of Vauxhall, Blythe, and Dorchester (and that could just be my perception). At any rate, keep up the good work my friend.

    • Hey Stromson, thanks for the comment. I am enjoying the story as much as I have enjoyed the others but maybe winning the domestic league with so much ease might reduce the enthusiasm a bit ;)

      • I’m glad you’re still enjoying it, though I wouldn’t mind seeing you go back to your roots whenever you land that CL trophy!

  17. Very nice, Johnny! I am sure it feels very nice to see that you alone managed to help Romania go up in the rankings and hopefully pretty soon the other teams will step up and start doing well in Europe too. This achievement alone is worth all the applause.

    This season I am sure you will have no trouble (again) winning the title and I am sure that this will also be the season when you will manage to get past the groups in the Champions League. Your Super Cup game against Milan was very tight and it proves that you can do wonders.

    Good luck!

    • Thanks Calin, I am very happy that we were able to contribute to the improvement of Romania’s rankings. I hope we’ll take advantage of our work and go straight into the CL groups next season.

  18. So unlucky in the Super cup Johnny, having looked at the stats you were the better side but I guess luck is against you again!

    A better draw in the champions league as some more winnable games than the previous years, you have also showed with that AC Milan result that can compete which should but you in a good position.

    As always the best of luck! :)

  19. Hey mate,
    I was flicking through Four four two the other day and theres an article on Vitoruul in it! Its very small and mainly about Hagi and the kit but you might be able to relate to it better since your in Romania! Best of luck for your season :D

  20. Nice Johny…are you still using Barca tactic? I might try it in my MSK Zilina story.

    • Thanks mate. And yes, I’m still faithful to the old Barca tactic :)

      • mine is working pretty well (variation of Darrens Arsenal tactic) but I wanted to give it a try..and I did…working well cosidering that we were not 100% familiar with it but the main problem was of what to do with my wingers? So maybe I’ll try to use it with another save.

        • Some wingers can be retrained into strikers, the others can be sold :) But I wouldn’t do that before being 100% sure that I like the tactic and that it works for that team.

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