Season 13 – Defensor Sporting Club, Primera División, Uruguay.

Media Prediction: 2nd from 16

Board Expectations: Win the league

In the close season I was approached by Romanian Champions CFR Cluj and Russian club Rubin Kazan, but I rejected them both as I fancied trying to get Defensor to the heights of Nacional and Penarol, who are the 2 biggest clubs in Uruguay by some distance.

With the young players coming through looking really promising, I decided not to dip into the transfer market, and the board informed me that they were increasing the stadium to a capacity of 13313.

When the opening stage opened, we started by drawing matches we should have won, just like the closing stage of last season. I was then pushed to the brink of despair when 5 of my star youngsters were called up for the Under 20’s World Cup and were missing for a few matches. Fortunately the back ups managed to put together a run of wins and when the first teamers returned we were top of the table by 3 points.

We ended up winning the opening stage for the 4th consecutive year, and we were 2nd in the closing stage after 5 matches (top of the overall league table) when an offer that was too good to refuse came along. That’s right, this is to be my chance to win the Champions League with River Plate! \o/

League Position – 1st (16)

P:20 | W:15 | D:4 | L:1 | F:52 | A:14 | Pts:49

Season 13b – River Plate, Primera División, Argentina

Media Prediction: 3rd from 20

Board Expectations: Challenge for the title

It was March when I joined River and they were struggling to live up to expectations and down in 7th position with 11 matches remaining of a very close table.

Having finished 6th in the opening stage it was clear we were not going to challenge for the title this season, so I aimed to get as high as possible whilst prioritising the Copa Libertadores as our best chance of a trophy.

We were steady in the league, eventually finishing in 4th place overall, and 2nd in the closing stage.

League Position – 4th (20)

P:38 | W:18 | D:12 | L:8 | F:77 | A:48 | Pts:66

As I said earlier, the Copa Libertadores was a trophy I had put my sights on when I first joined, and we got through the group stage with a 100% record to confirm my belief that we had a chance of winning it. We swept away Santiago Morning 6-1 in the first KO round, before Pumas fell 3-1 at the quarter finals.

We were drawn against Argentine league champions Gimnasia (LP) in the semi finals, where we triumphed 3-2 after losing the first leg 2-0. Brazilian club Bahia awaited in the final, and a 1-0 first leg defeat away was followed by a 1-0 win for us in normal time at home.

A stalemate in extra time meant penalties. We missed 2 and they didn’t. The 4-2 defeat was difficult to take as we had managed 20 shots and 57% of possession in the 2nd leg, to Bahia’s 5 shots and 43%.

Still, it was a great effort and a real eye opener that the Copa Libertadores probably suits Brazilian clubs better as the competition goes on into July. I wonder if that’s a complaint in real life?

Season 14 – River Plate, Primera División, Argentina

Media Prediction: 3rd from 16

Board Expectations: Challenge for the title

I decided to look to the future and brought in 3 young players for a combined fee of £20m to strengthen the squad. It also felt like I had made a fourth signing when a 19 year old striker who had been farmed out on loan returned having scored 17 in 18 games during his spell away.

The opening stage started strongly, and we absolutely blitzed it, finishing 4 points clear of our nearest rivals Gimnasia (LP). During the first half of the season we also managed to win the Copa Sudamericana, beating Sao Paulo in the final.

We started the closing stage more impressively than the opening stage, but injuries began to take their toll, and due to a fixture backlog we had to struggle by with youth players for a few matches. Despite this we remained top of the table and qualified from our Copa Libertadores group.

In fact, we remained top of the closing stage table until the penultimate game of the season, where we had to play a previously postponed match due to our fixture backlog.

Unfortunately for us, we had 9 players missing on international duty, along with 5 injuries. We lost the game and allowed Gimnasia (LP) to tie on points with us, which is how it remained after the final match too.

This meant a playoff match between us to decide on the title, and despite the overall league table being far superior in our favour, we lost the title on penalties to Gimnasia (LP) after a 1-1 draw. Doesn’t seem fair to me, but hey, that’s how they run their league.

League Position 1st (20)

P:38 | W:29 | D:4 | L:5 | F:104 | A:37 | Pts:91

After the league season had finished we got through to the semi finals of the Libertadores, before we fell 8-6 on aggregate to Velez, with fatigue playing a key part in our demise. I’m happy with our season, and the fact that my players will actually get a break this summer!

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