“Achieving Zen without the electro-shock ‘therapy’, hopefully”

Introduction

So before I started a new game I reread one of my previous career updates with ‘Louhans-Cuiseaux.

It is full of frustration and I pondered why. Looking at some recent games we played in that save I see something along the lines of ‘Louhans-Cuiseaux won’t believe they’ve lost this game’ roughly (very roughly) 10times more often than ‘Louhans-Cuiseaux will take this!’

The stress was coming from trying to control the result of a game and not being able to. Not only that, but feeling the game was ‘cheating’ me by teams I was outplaying or at least outshooting winning the games much more often that seemed reasonable.

So in this new game I will control only what I can control – my approach to the game – and I will leave the game to do what it will. My ‘good faith’ approach has the following pillars:

  • focus on development of players through the reserves rather than by buying
  • run profitably without the need for ‘bailouts’ from ownership
  • always try to attack and play attractively, never ‘parking a bus’
  • never criticise the officials

Ultimately this means that we may not achieve success per the normal definition of the term, and I foresee that it could be very hard to get a team to the level required to be sustainable in this manner, but I do not want to feel I compromised anything to ‘make it work’. And ownership’s demand for trophies/promotion may mean that my job turnover it higher than I’d like.

Approach developed, onto the games …

Leagues loaded:

Bulgaria (B Group and above), Finland (First Division and above), Greece (National B Division and above), Iceland (First Division and above), Slovakia (Second Division and above), Switzerland (Challenge League and above).

I was randomly chosen Juventus. Not that one, SC YF Juventus of the Challenge League in Switzerland.

Season 1 – YF Juventus – Switzerland Challenge League

Newly-promoted to the SCL. Predicted for relegation, though there are some half-decent players here. The trouble was going to be at ST with no real quality finishers.

And so it proved.

Lost to the good teams, and played well against the poorer teams but ultimately could only draw at home to Locarno 1:1 (their only shot on goal, of course) and 9-man Baulmes 0:0. We won our last game but Locarno drew against top-of-the-table Neuchatel Xamax and we went down by a point.

Sacked.

Of course.

Final League Position – 17/18

P34 | W8 | D8 | L18 | Pts31 
1 point from safety

Season 2 – SK VEGUM Dolne Vestenice – Solvakia Second Division

Newly promoted team with no non-grays at all, predicted 12th. Couldn’t hire a physio all year (no response) so all injuries took ages to heal, no money to spend.

First game with all grays ended 0:10. Luckily teams offered loans which I took. Eventually sold my best player and signed a team full of $1k transfers, but we were dead bottom.

However, this league is a place of never-ending happiness where you can always see the sun, day or night. There is no relegation in the rules! However, since we were ‘newly-promoted’ I wondered whether there could be financial reasons for replacing teams.

No.

There’s a bastard second half of the season playoff where the bottom 8 teams (ie the ones not promoted) play each other twice, and the bottom two go down. Not a problem, since we were in better form at the end of the (first) season and should be OK. Ah, no, the points from the first half carry forward, so we started 13points behind, and some shocking results for the teams ahead of us doomed us.

Sacked.

First Phase P22 W3 D1 L18 -29 – 12/12
Second Phase P14 W5 D2 L7 -5 – 8/8
17points from safety.

Season 3 – Bdin – Bulgarian Western B Group

Another newly-promoted team with no history and only 4 non-grays, predicted 13th. Brought in some scouts, a GK coach and a physio (!) and got in some half-decent players.

Ultimately though another season with lack of ability at ST meant we struggled to score and that is never likely to mean an easy season. Teams around us had either unbelievably good players or ‘Bdin won’t believe they’ve lost this’ or both.

Sacked.

P25 W5 D3 L17 -29 14/14

8points from safety (sacked when relegation was confirmed rather than playing the last game).

Now looking for somewhere for season 4. I’ve quite a lot of karma banked, I think!

Season 4 – Pirin (Blagoevgrad) – Bulgarian Western B Group

Applied for and was given a job at another Bulgarian newly promoted team, but this time Pirin had some form – they’d been in the A Group since the mid-70s, then a bit of up-and-down and then a mystery season where they played only 2 games and disappeared. Didn’t finish the season, didn’t get relegated, just straight out of the league, apparently.

Presumably some financial irregularities, but why they didn’t go into administration I haven’t been able to find out.

Since I’m staying in Bulgaria I decided to investigate the team in a little more depth.

They’re named after the Pirin mountains, in SW Bulgaria (ie closest to Greece/Republic of Macedonia). However, there are other teams named Pirin:

  • Pirin (Blagoevgrad) – that’s us
  • Pirin (Razlog) – also in WeB
  • Pirin (Gotse Delchev) – in the A group
  • Pirin-Blagoevgrad – in the A group
  • Pirin 2001 (Blagoevgrad)- not currently in the leagues
  • Pirin (Zemen) – also not currently in the leagues
  • Pirin-Barca (Borovo) – also not currently in the leagues

Yes, if we end up in the same division ever, we will have a local battle of punctuation against Pirin-Blagoevgrad. When I tried to look up my team in Wikipedia, it was showing that a languid Tottenham and Manchester Utd ST was an ex-player, but I suspect I was seeing Pirin-Blagoevgrad and not Pirin (Blagoevgrad). 5 out of 7 of these Pirins play in some form of green uniform also (the other 2 are blue) … confusing!

Still, streamed some Chalga and played through a season quite quickly … made easier by the fact that the scouts managed to find a very serviceable AMR who quickly became converted to ST.

He led the league in scoring by a long way (21 vs 13 for second), and was converting early-season losses into mid-season wins by the time he came. The media prediction for 9th was soon history, and we were a strong second coming into the last few games.

Then our form deserted us a bit, and we drew and lost games we could have won, before sealing second on the last day with a very undeserved win at Hebar.  Ultimately Vidima-Rakovski won the league by 10points, while we went into the 2nd place playoff with Spartak (Varna) from the Eastern B Group.

I felt that we wouldn’t fully justify going into the A group overall, and was concerned that it could be a bit soon for us, but ultimately I needn’t have worried as we continued our late season form slump into the playoff final and lost 2-1. I doubt we’ll be relegated next season so we probably have some breathing space to set things up a little closer to how I’d like them …

League Position – 2nd from 14

P26 W15 D4 L7 +19 (thanks, AMR!)

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