Season 18, Tampere United, Finnish Veikkausliiga

Board Expectations: Contend for title
Media Prediction: 2nd (14)

Transfers in: 7 for ££725K, including Up and Coming Nigerian DM for ££100K, Malian Speed Merchant AML for ££75K, Solid Finnish Center-back for ££400K and Flash Icelandic Left Back for ££150K
Transfers out: 7 transfers out for ££3.7M, including Temperamental Brazilian Striker for ££1.6M, Brazilian All-Rounder for ££800K and Promising Finnish Winger for ££1.2M

Veikkauscup:

We played very well in the group stage and made through to the semis, where we hosted RoPS. In a tight match, they went up early, we equalized late on and then they grabbed a winner as the game headed to a close.

League:

One problem with success is that people start to look for bigger challenges. In this case, my Brazilians decided that having won everything you can win in Finland, it was time to move on. Not wanting to keep unhappy players on the squad, Temperamental Brazilian Striker was sold to Red Star in the preseason and Brazilian All-Rounder was sent back to Brazil on quite the profit during the mid-season transfer window.

Losing the Finnish Player of the Year and the Finnish Rookie of the Year meant that things would be a lot harder for us and that the struggling…ah, I can’t lie. Even though our chairman sold our budding star Right Winger at mid-season, the league was ours almost from the start and there was very little angst involved as we cantered to the title.

The only question was whether we would lose, which we finally did, four games from the end of the season and well past when we’d clinched the title. We beat MyPa’s all-time points total by 3 points while bettering last year’s Goals For and Goals Against to finish with a Goal Differential of +36. In the end, we finished 22 points ahead of second place, despite an injury crisis where all three right-backs were hurt for over a month.

Suomen Cup:

Easy victories over non-league KeuPa and a surprisingly tame performance from MyPa saw us through to the quarters, which were against Honka at their place. We took an early lead, couldn’t build on it, they equalized on their first shot on goal and we lost on penalties after outshooting them 27 (13 on target) to 6.

Champions League:

A bad start as we were drawn in the Second Qualifying round with AIK, arguably the strongest team in the pool. We then made our own luck with a storming 1-3 away victory only to completely and utterly come apart at the seams in the home leg, losing on aggregate 6-4.

Player of the Year:
A tough call; I’ll have to go with last year’s Second Choice Striker, who, asked to fill the boots of Temperamental Brazilian Striker with several young Finnish internationals itching to take his spot, responded by leading the Finnish scoring charts with 16 goals in 19 appearances. Honorable Mention goes to Brazilian GK #1, who collected an astonishing 15 shutouts.

Former Club Watch

RoPS: A huge fall-off to 11th.
Hä£cken: Relegated, 7 points from safety.
Malmö£: Second, 9 points off the pace.
Lillestrøm: Sixth, 12 points behind Moss.

Offers: None

VKL 1ST (14) P26 W20 D5 L1 GF51 GA15 Pts65

Board Expectations: Contend for title
Media Prediction: 2nd (14)

Transfers in: 7 for ££725K, including Up and Coming Nigerian DM for ££100K, Malian Speed Merchant AML for ££75K, Solid Finnish Center-back for ££400K and Flash Icelandic Left Back for ££150K
Transfers out: 7 transfers out for ££3.7M, including Temperamental Brazilian Striker for ££1.6M, Brazilian All-Rounder for ££800K and Promising Finnish Winger for ££1.2M

Veikkauscup:

We played very well in the group stage and made through to the semis, where we hosted RoPS. In a tight match, they went up early, we equalized late on and then they grabbed a winner as the game headed to a close.

League:

One problem with success is that people start to look for bigger challenges. In this case, my Brazilians decided that having won everything you can win in Finland, it was time to move on. Not wanting to keep unhappy players on the squad, Temperamental Brazilian Striker was sold to Red Star in the preseason and Brazilian All-Rounder was sent back to Brazil on quite the profit during the mid-season transfer window.

Losing the Finnish Player of the Year and the Finnish Rookie of the Year meant that things would be a lot harder for us and that the struggling…ah, I can’t lie. Even though our chairman sold our budding star Right Winger at mid-season, the league was ours almost from the start and there was very little angst involved as we cantered to the title.

The only question was whether we would lose, which we finally did, four games from the end of the season and well past when we’d clinched the title. We beat MyPa’s all-time points total by 3 points while bettering last year’s Goals For and Goals Against to finish with a Goal Differential of +36. In the end, we finished 22 points ahead of second place, despite an injury crisis where all three right-backs were hurt for over a month.

Suomen Cup:

Easy victories over non-league KeuPa and a surprisingly tame performance from MyPa saw us through to the quarters, which were against Honka at their place. We took an early lead, couldn’t build on it, they equalized on their first shot on goal and we lost on penalties after outshooting them 27 (13 on target) to 6.

Champions League:

A bad start as we were drawn in the Second Qualifying round with AIK, arguably the strongest team in the pool. We then made our own luck with a storming 1-3 away victory only to completely and utterly come apart at the seams in the home leg, losing on aggregate 6-4.

Player of the Year:
A tough call; I’ll have to go with last year’s Second Choice Striker, who, asked to fill the boots of Temperamental Brazilian Striker with several young Finnish internationals itching to take his spot, responded by leading the Finnish scoring charts with 16 goals in 19 appearances. Honorable Mention goes to Brazilian GK #1, who collected an astonishing 15 shutouts.

Former Club Watch

RoPS: A huge fall-off to 11th.
Hä£cken: Relegated, 7 points from safety.
Malmö£: Second, 9 points off the pace.
Lillestrøm: Sixth, 12 points behind Moss.

Offers: None

VKL 1ST (14) P26 W20 D5 L1 GF51 GA15 Pts65

Season 19, Tampere United, Finnish Ykkönen

Board Expectations: Champions
Media Prediction: 1st (14)

Transfers in: 7 in for ££975K, including Malian DMC, Nigerian Speed Merchant ST, Israeli Playmaker and Icelandic Ginger Winger
Transfers out: 11 transfers out for ££2.6M, including Malian Speed Demon and Brazilian Keeper #1

Veikkauscup:

Another breeze through the group stage followed by a tough 2-2 draw with TPS at home in the QF, followed by an away game against JJK where we went behind early, Newly Minted Albanian Striker (formerly Second Choice Striker) equalized in first half stoppage time and they struck again late to put us out.

League:

Always near the top, we outlasted Lahti’s early push only to see RoPS come out of the pack near the middle of the year. They took advantage of some extra games played to grab a slight lead as we struggled with multiple competitions, injuries and my chairman, who sold my star left winger at mid-season. We rotated the squad like never before to account for a team that was involved in three competitions and although I had added a fair amount of depth in the offseason, we were often pushing extremely tired players out onto the field.

As the season came to a close, we found ourselves tied with RoPS, they with four games to play, ourselves with six, although our 2 games in hand were both on the road and would come during the tail end of a brutal period where we would play 5 games in 11 days. A team of tired first-teamers, reserves and some teenagers managed to get four points from those games. The next round we won and RoPS tied, extending the lead to 6 points and three games to play. They played mid-week and couldn’t keep up with the pressure, losing 0-1 at home to MyPa and the title was practically ours. We cemented it with a scrappy 1-1 draw with RoPS in the third-to-last game and enjoyed our third title in a row.

Suomen Cup:

A tough run as we drew another top-league team every round of the cup as well as three straight away matches to start it off. It went like this:

4th Round 2-1 A FC Hameenlinna
5th Round 2-0 A IFK Mariehamn
QuarterFinal 2-1 A MyPa

The semifinal was against TPS, the closest thing Tamu have had to a bogey team in the last few years. They always play us hard and nearly always score. This was to be no different as they scored in the first minute of the match with a 30-yard screamer. Then my starting left winger got carted off in the 5th minute. My Mint Albanian popped up in the 35th minute to even things up and then it was a nerve-wracking back and forth affair until Mint Albanian decided he was getting tired and stuffed home a winner in the 116th minute.

The final was against former rivals KooTooPee, who decided to gift us a penalty in the 12th minute. Despite dominating the game, we didn’t make another breakthrough until the end of the match, when Icelandic Ginger Winger nabbed a header to give us a well-needed cushion, as they grabbed a 87th-minute goal from a corner that served only as a consolation as we claimed our second Suomen Cup of the last three years.

Champions League:

I feared for the worst as we drew Norwegian champions Moss in the Second Qualifying Round. Like last season against AIK, we played our socks off in the away leg, coming away with a 1-0 win that should have been more. Unlike last year, we defended for our lives and didn’t fold at home, a 0-0 result seeing us through. We then stunned Banik Ostrava 4-0 (agg.) and saw off Rijeka as well, 3-1 (agg.).

The group stage had us up against Arsenal, Lyon and Partizan. We came an injury-time equalizer away from beating Arsenal in Tampere and had to settle with a deserved 1-0 win over Lyon at our place that dumped them into the Euro Cup. We finished bottom; it was still a great success.

Player of the Year:

I have to give it to the player who I originally fast-tracked into the team three season ago to replace our recalcitrant captain. Playing in the middle of the park or on the right wing, he put up a 7.6 average across an incredible 42 starts in all competitions, scoring 17 goals and doling out 11 assists as we stormed to the double. An absolute tour-de-force.

Former Club Watch

RoPS: Second, nine points back after a late season collapse.
Hä£cken: Third in the Superettan, lost in the promotion playoff to Sleipner 4-3 on aggregate.
Malmö£: Third in the Allsvenskan, 15 points behind AIK.
Lillestrøm: Fourth, 12 points behind champions Brann.

Offers: None

VKL 1ST (14) P26 W18 D6 L2 GF51 GA18 Pts60

 

 

Summary

My reputation is up to Continental, I have to deny interest in jobs like Stoke or Bristol City on a pretty much weekly basis, I see no actual offers though.

I did omit a couple offers as the Tampere United chairman, despite the fact that I basically said I hated him in three separate press conferences, made repeated offers of a new contract as mine expired at the end of the year.

I was somewhat tempted, mainly because they would have made me the highest-paid coach in Finland by nearly double the amount of the second-place coach and I’d managed to win three consecutive league titles with a team with an average age of 24. I’m pretty sure that I could have gotten Tamu to be the AIK of Finland.

On the other hand, I’d proven myself completely in Finland, that final league win putting me on top of the Finnish Hall of Fame and given my previous lack of success outside of the country, I wanted to show that I could win in the bigger leagues as well.

And with that in mind, I allowed my contract to expire and then declared my interest in the first decent club I saw that was rumored to be on the outs with their current coach. Less than 4 days after my contract had expired, Fredrikstad FK fired their current coach and installed me.

Fredrikstad is one of the traditional powers of Norwegian football, having won the league 12 times, including 3 titles in 2018, 2022 and 2023. Since then the club have wobbled, going through several relegations to the Adeccoligaen, including one the year previous to my taking over.

Although they finished second and bounced right back up, the board evidently felt that it was time to change the hand at the tiller.

One interesting note about the club that’s not reflected in FM: they’ve retired the number 8 shirt to honor a player that was paralyzed from the neck down in a match where FFK won to avoid relegation. I’ve already removed 8 from the geriatric Brazilian winger who had it in-game and will leave it blank for my tenure at the club.

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