Short Stories: Tales of Unexpected Success & Redemption

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April 2010

Post by Libertine73 »

Eredivisie

We came into April off the back of a four game winning streak that put us eight points clear at the top of the Eredivisie, but our title aspirations seemingly took quite a knock with a heavy defeat at fellow challengers PSV Eindhoven.

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In terms of chances, it was a fairly even game: the hosts won the shot count 12-11.

Our problem though, was that in open games like this, you need to be solid defensively and to take your chances when they come your way.

This is where we failed.

Sander Boschker in goal, and left back Slobodan Rajkovic - in for the suspended Nicky Kuiper - were sloppy, while teenagers Ransford Osei and Luuk de Jong put in below par performances in their respective positions on the right wing and up front.

The following day, reigning champions AZ beat RKC to close the gap to five points, while our next opponent, Ajax, thumped Utrecht to close their gap on us to six points.

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~~~





I said in my previous update that I hoped to emulate the 2-0 victory we got over Ajax earlier in the season, and we did just that!

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I made a few changes for this game, which included Nicky Kuiper returning at left back and Blaise N'Kufo taking Luuk de Jong's place up front.

We started superbly. Kuiper made a surging run to the byline, then delivered a cross into the box. Ajax keeper Maarten Stekelenburg saved Wout Brama's header, but could only parry the effort into the path of the increasingly important second striker Romano Denneboom, who smashed us into a 2nd minute lead.

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This was another open game. We had just as many opportunities to double our lead, as Ajax had to equalise.

Thankfully, we killed the game off late on, with N'Kufo marking his return to the side by completing the scoring.

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Meanwhile, Utrecht done us a massive favour by beating AZ.

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This meant that we had restored our eight point lead over the reigning champions.




~~~





The following week we hosted Heracles, and thumped them in a dominant display.

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The attacking duo of Denneboom and N'Kufo were prominent again. N'Kufo won the early penalty, before Denneboom's brace put us in a commanding position. N'Kufo then completed the scoring with another late goal, which given his low condition at the latter stages of games, is a testament to his character.

Meanwhile Ajax and AZ cancelled each other out.

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Both sides then lost their next respective fixtures.

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This means that we go into out trip to Heerenveen, knowing that a victory for us will deliver the Eredivisie title with three games to spare.

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Player Focus

This month I'm featuring my two regular full backs Ronnie Stam and Nicky Kuiper.

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Neither player has won loads of tackles, or had outstanding goal involvements like my Rangers full backs James Tavernier and Borna Barisic, but Ronnie and Nicky have been two of the most consistent defenders in the Eredivisie this season.

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Nicky has particularly stood out, and we missed him when he was suspended for the PSV Eindhoven defeat.

He came back into the side for the Ajax game, and was instrumental in us opening the scoring.

A bit about the real Ronnie Stam and Nicky Kuiper.

Ronnie Stam spent his youth career at Feyenoord, then joined NAC Breda as an 18 year old. After spending six years at the club, Ronnie joined FC Twente in the summer of 2008 - the same time that arrived at the club.

The player appeared regularly in his two years at the club, making the right back position his own.

Like his manager, Ronnie moved on in the summer after Twente were crowned Eredivisie champions, joining Premier League side Wigan.

The player spent three seasons in Lancashire, helping the club reach the 2013 FA Cup Final - which they went on to win - but were also relegated in the same season.

Ronnie then joined Standard Liege, spending two seasons there, before returning to NAC Breda for a season, before hanging up his boots.

Meanwhile, Nicky Kuiper started his career at Vitesse, then joined FC Twente in the summer of 2009.

He was a squad player, rather than a key component of his club's title-winning side.

It all went downhill after that. It seems that Nicky never really recovered from a serious knee injury. He barely played after 2010, and left Twente in 2014 following an unsuccessful loan spell at Panathinaikos.

Nicky played for a few different clubs in the Netherlands, before retiring in 2019.




Forthcoming Fixtures & Team News

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We've got four bites of the cherry coming up. We need just three points to clinch the title. Hopefully we'll do it at Heerenveen, but I have my first-choice midfield duo Wout Brama and Theo Janssen missing due to injury and suspension.

Our opponents also have the best home record in the Eredivisie.

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Blaise N'Kufo is also injured, so I'm giving Romano Denneboom a chance to show what he can do as an out-and-out striker.

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Re: Short Stories: Tales of Unexpected Success & Redemption

Post by Redknapp69 »

Did your job well there after the PSV game

A load of results gone your way but you already had a good lead and kept up your part of the bargain - title ready to be won now!

Yes - recognise Stam name at Wigan but not much else abut him
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Re: Short Stories: Tales of Unexpected Success & Redemption

Post by Libertine73 »

Redknapp69 wrote: Fri May 10, 2024 9:43 pm Did your job well there after the PSV game

A load of results gone your way but you already had a good lead and kept up your part of the bargain - title ready to be won now!

Yes - recognise Stam name at Wigan but not much else abut him
Yeah, I was pleased to see AZ and Ajax cancel each other out. Even more so when they lost their respective next games.

It's surely a question of 'when' now, rather than 'if'.
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April/May 2010

Post by Libertine73 »

Eredivisie

Our last game of April was a trip to a Heerenveen side that had dropped just two points at home all season.

We came reasonably close to becoming the first away side to win at the Abe Lenstra Stadion this season, and were just ten minutes away from clinching the title, but the champagne had to remain on ice.

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We did well to get ourselves in front twice, but right back Ronnie Stam getting himself needlessly sent off for the second time this season proved to be a pivotal moment.

The hosts were able to make their numerical advantage count, and thoroughly deserved their late equaliser.




~~~





Next up was the visit of relegation-threatened Roda JC, and once again, we knew that victory would mean that our lead at the top of the table would be unassailable.

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A dominant display meant that we were able to clinch the title in front of our jubilant fans.

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With experienced striker Blaise N'Kufo injured, I recalled Luuk de Jong to the side, and the teenager headed in a Theo Janssen corner to give us an early lead.

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We were untroubled defensively and had chances to extend our lead, but the longer the game went on, there was always a concern that we'd concede an equaliser.

Our nerves were settled late on when central defender Douglas surged forward with the ball, then sent it into the area for right winger Miroslav Stoch to head us into a 2-0 lead.

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This prompted a pitch invasion by our fans, but they quickly returned to the stands to get the final stages of the game underway.

A few minutes later, the final whistle blew to confirm that FC Twente had won their first ever Eredivisie title.

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Once again, the fans came onto the pitch to celebrate a fantastic moment in this club's history.

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~~~





With two games remaining, I decided to rest the key players that contributed to our success, and give opportunities to squad players and players on the fringes of the first-team.

Those squad members got us a neat victory at VVV.

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I deployed teenage forward Ransford Osei up front, and an outstanding display from the Ghanaian earned him the Man of the Match award.

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Ransford's first goal was top drawer. He received a direct ball from right back Tuomas Rannankari, and with his back to goal, turned neatly, then dribbled past three defenders before hitting a superb left-footed strike that gave the opposition keeper no chance.




~~~





We finished the season with a draw at home to Groningen.

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This was an open game, and the draw was a fair result. I gave another young striker a chance to show what he could do on his own up front, and he scored both of our goals on his Eredivisie debut.

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We didn't defend well enough in this game, but I was pleased to finish the season with a six game unbeaten run.


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We were seven points away from emulating Steve McClaren's points total of 86. We did score more goals than his side, but were nowhere near as good defensively, despite having the least leakiest defence in what seems like a very goal-friendly division.

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Summary of the Season

We hit the ground running, winning each of our opening eight Eredivisie games. We led the table early on, and only relinquished top spot when some of our early fixtures were rearranged due to our Champions League involvement.

Once we played those games in hand, we returned to the top of the table, and never looked back.

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As for being in Europe, it didn't prove to be too much of a distraction. After surprisingly getting past Anderlecht in the playoff, we scraped through to the second phase, despite being in a group that contained Inter and Chelsea.

We got found out in the last sixteen, finishing bottom, but still managed to get a victory over Bayern that prevented the Bavarian club from progressing to the knockout stage.




Players

Our main focus was winning the Eredivisie title, so I've only displayed league stats below.

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There were nine players that started over half of our games, so I had a pretty decent idea who my best players were.

Central defenders Douglas and Peter Wisgerhof were probably the main reason we had the best defensive record, with both players having the best tackles per game ratios in the division.

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I was also pleased with young left back Nicky Kuiper achieving an average rating of 7.50. This was amongst the best in the division for a defender.

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In wide attacking areas, Miroslav Stoch, Ransford Osei, Bryan Ruiz and David Carney have all provided good returns in terms of goals and assists, while whichever one I've chosen out of Blaise N'Kufo and Luuk de Jong to play as the lone central striker have done good jobs.

I like to highlight a trio of players that I think have stood out. In this story it's been my three-man midfield of Wout Brama, Theo Janssen and Romano Denneboom.

Theo Janssen has done a terrific job.

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Most of his 27 league games have been in the DMC role, so 17 goal involvements is an excellent return. Most of those assists came from his excellent corner deliveries, where no other side in the division has been stronger.

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Meanwhile, Romano Denneboom has done a wonderful job in the number 10 role.

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He's averaged a goal involvement practically every game, and considering his deeper role, has done brilliantly to finish as the club's top league goalscorer.

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In my opinion, our best player this season has been club captain Wout Brama.

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Wout has been deployed either as a DMC with a forward arrow or as an MC. His goal involvements has been reasonable, but it's been his ball-winning ability that has stood out.

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Not just domestically either, Wout has also done well in the Champions League.

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Considering that he was on the losing side seven times in Europe, this speaks volumes about his character. I wonder how pertinent that high value for Teamwork is?




Next Story

Thank you for reading this. Out of the four short stories I've played and written so far, this has probably been the one that I've enjoyed the most.

I didn't think that when I started the story. I was a bit underwhelmed by the lack of depth in the squad, and was expecting a tough challenge in trying to overcome an Ajax side that contained Luis Suárez.

A lot of the attacking players looked ordinary, but I've enjoyed being involved in quite a few goalfests, including a 5-3 win and a 3-4 defeat against outgoing champions AZ.

We know how dismal Steve McClaren's managerial record is. He returned to Twente after disappointing spells at Wolfsburg and Nottingham Forest, but was unable to emulate his success.

Subsequent managerial posts in England also proved to be fruitless.

That first spell at Twente can't be taken away from him though.

They were clearly a well-run club when he arrived, with a good scouting and recruitment set-up. They obviously felt that McClaren had the right attributes to work with the squad, despite failing to get England to the 2008 Euros.

Delivering the club's only Eredivisie title in a league that has historically been dominated by the big three of Ajax, PSV Eindhoven and Feyenoord is an excellent achievement.

There were many lows in McClaren's managerial career, but he deserves to look back with pride at his achievements in those two years at Twente.

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My next story will be a four-season save. I'm not sure how to describe it without giving anything away, but it'll be something a bit different to the emulating managerial achievements that I've done so far.

I'm up to date with playing and posting updates, so I haven't started it yet.
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Re: Short Stories: Tales of Unexpected Success & Redemption

Post by Strike Force One »

Congratulations on the title win, finishing above the big three is an impressive achievement.

Looking forward to the next instalment.
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Re: Short Stories: Tales of Unexpected Success & Redemption

Post by Redknapp69 »

• Great to win league in front of the fans! Been very impressive in league fair play. Slightly disappointed in the other “big 3” but you overperformed for me so kudus for that!
• Kids/ressies didn’t let you down and I like the look o that Wellington!
• Christ – Scheeeetve did amazing – and unbeaten at home!
• Some good European performances in first group as well
• Can’t argue much with Wout POTY
• Q – how did lovely Luisdi at Ajax?
• McLaren was always seen as a good coach “on the ground”
• Look forward to the next one pal – cracking little story this!
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Re: Short Stories: Tales of Unexpected Success & Redemption

Post by Libertine73 »

Redknapp69 wrote: Sun May 12, 2024 10:10 pm • Great to win league in front of the fans! Been very impressive in league fair play. Slightly disappointed in the other “big 3” but you overperformed for me so kudus for that!
• Kids/ressies didn’t let you down and I like the look o that Wellington!
• Christ – Scheeeetve did amazing – and unbeaten at home!
• Some good European performances in first group as well
• Can’t argue much with Wout POTY
Q – how did lovely Luisdi at Ajax?
• McLaren was always seen as a good coach “on the ground”
• Look forward to the next one pal – cracking little story this!
Suárez did okay for Ajax, getting into double figures for goals and assists, but he mostly played on the left wing in a 424 formation.

Nothing like his real life 2009-10 season where he scored 35 Eredivisie goals as the central striker.
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Robin Friday: The Greatest Footballer You Never Saw

Post by Libertine73 »

Introduction

At some time during the late 1990s, I read a book about Robin Friday, a footballer from the 1970s.

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But not just any footballer. Friday's professional career only lasted for four years, but the impact he made for the two clubs that he played for during that time, Reading and Cardiff City, has created an enduring legacy.

Friday was named Player of the Year at Reading in 1975 and 1976, and in a 2007 poll, Reading fans voted him as the club's greatest player of all time. He spent just one year at Cardiff before retiring, but was voted the club's All Time Cult Hero.




Style of Play

Friday is said to have had breathtaking skill and flair, but could also unsettle defenders with his physical strength, and intimidation. He was brave, but also intelligent.

Friday scored 21 league goals in Reading's successful Fourth Division promotion-winning season.




Off the Field

Friday was known as a heavy smoking, heavy drinking, womanising, drug taker. He would regularly turn up late for training, or miss it completely. Big clubs were aware of Friday's talent, but none of them were prepared to gamble on him.




Reading

Whilst playing for non-league club Hayes, Friday appeared in an FA Cup game against Fourth Division side Reading. The Reading manager Charlie Hurley was impressed by Friday, but was cautious about signing a player who had been sent off seven times in three seasons for Hayes. Eventually, Hurley took the plunge, and signed the striker.




This Story

This will be a four-season save.

In May 2023, Reading were relegated into League One, so I'll be using the October 2023 update.

I will be Charlie Hurley, and will take over at Reading. The club are over £12M in debt, and there is no money for transfers.

I'll sign a free agent, then before the deal goes through I'll give him powered-up values in the GK Save Game editor, based on what I've read about Robin Friday.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robin_Friday

I'll also change some hidden attribute values, to reflect what a handful this player was.

I'm hoping that Friday will become a talismanic figure for Reading, that will help the club eventually reach the Premier League.

I have no intention of selling Friday, but if after three seasons, Cardiff make an offer that is 10% higher than Friday's automatic value, I'll sell him to them, then add a new manager to take over at Cardiff.

Best case scenario is that Friday stays at Reading, helps the club achieve successive promotions to the Premier League, then does well enough to be called up by England.

I'll do what I can with the limited financial resources available.




Next Update

I'll introduce manager Charlie Hurley.
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Re: Short Stories: Tales of Unexpected Success & Redemption

Post by Strike Force One »

Charlie "The King" Hurley, SAFC legend.

Good luck with this one mate, if anyone can succeed then you can.
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Re: Short Stories: Tales of Unexpected Success & Redemption

Post by Redknapp69 »

Wahahahahah - just read wiki page on him - sounds a mad fecker!

Reading - I managed them on the Oct '23 DB and brought in some young Liverpool loanees and expereinced freebies and got promoted nicely

Once you post squad it will remind me of who did well

Ovie Ejaria (ex Pool) was good creative force in CM

Charlie Savage did better prob at CM than DM

GK with triple barrelled name I think has always had decent PA or something and he was my first choice keeper I think

Can't remember off top of my head others but will come flooding back to me when you post the squad

Robin Friday - assume you'll have him on a long contract so he can't leave on a bosman after 2 years etc
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Re: Short Stories: Tales of Unexpected Success & Redemption

Post by Redknapp69 »

Found the save - here's the freebies I brought in (did a diddle on the Liverpool signings for free and a 25% future fee as I was managing Pool as well!)

Liam Moore was awesome, Jags, Lowton, Freeman squa experience fillers, Rowan Curtis bagged brilliantly up top, Kalinic and Nainggloan were a waste

Sunjic BEAST DM, Miyoshi was ok I think

Then the outgoings - I cleared the debt after 1st season I think

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Re: Short Stories: Tales of Unexpected Success & Redemption

Post by Redknapp69 »

Loans here - diddle with Liverpool players obvs!

Cirkin and Laird both ok as FB's I think

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Re: Short Stories: Tales of Unexpected Success & Redemption

Post by Redknapp69 »

I have back to back promotions and then a spell in PL before bagging Chelsea job and £300m to spend!

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Re: Short Stories: Tales of Unexpected Success & Redemption

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Strike Force One wrote: Wed May 15, 2024 4:15 pm Charlie "The King" Hurley, SAFC legend.

Good luck with this one mate, if anyone can succeed then you can.
I've had this story in mind for a while now, and coincidentally, Charlie Hurley passed away just three weeks ago, aged 87.
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Re: Short Stories: Tales of Unexpected Success & Redemption

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Redknapp69 wrote: Wed May 15, 2024 5:35 pm Wahahahahah - just read wiki page on him - sounds a mad fecker!

Reading - I managed them on the Oct '23 DB and brought in some young Liverpool loanees and expereinced freebies and got promoted nicely

Once you post squad it will remind me of who did well

Ovie Ejaria (ex Pool) was good creative force in CM

Charlie Savage did better prob at CM than DM

GK with triple barrelled name I think has always had decent PA or something and he was my first choice keeper I think

Can't remember off top of my head others but will come flooding back to me when you post the squad

Robin Friday - assume you'll have him on a long contract so he can't leave on a bosman after 2 years etc
I'm guessing that Charlie Savage is the son of Robbie.

The keeper must be Coniah Boyce-Clarke. I plan to initially make him second-choice behind David Button. Boyce-Clarke's value for Agility is 17, but his Handling is only 11. It sounds like that value will shoot up though, so I'll keep an eye on him.

I've got Friday on a five-year deal as a hot prospect, but will look to improve his terms as time goes on.
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Re: Short Stories: Tales of Unexpected Success & Redemption

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Redknapp69 wrote: Wed May 15, 2024 5:41 pm Found the save - here's the freebies I brought in (did a diddle on the Liverpool signings for free and a 25% future fee as I was managing Pool as well!)

Liam Moore was awesome, Jags, Lowton, Freeman squa experience fillers, Rowan Curtis bagged brilliantly up top, Kalinic and Nainggloan were a waste

Sunjic BEAST DM, Miyoshi was ok I think

Then the outgoings - I cleared the debt after 1st season I think

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I pulled out of a deal to sign Liam Moore, as I took someone else on a season-long loan. I might see if he's still available.
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Re: Short Stories: Tales of Unexpected Success & Redemption

Post by Redknapp69 »

Charlie Sav is indeed Robbie's son and was at Man U and di get the off appearance but to be fair to him I think he chose to move as wanted to play

Aye - Button is nice and solid but couldn't see him being long term for me so played the kid I think
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July 2023

Post by Libertine73 »

My name is Charlie Hurley.

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I was born in Cork, Republic of Ireland, but when I was a baby my family emigrated to England.

Like most working class lads, I played football, and I was good enough to be offered an apprenticeship at Millwall. I went on to be signed as a professional, got into the first-team, then got a big move to Sunderland.

I spent most of my career in the northeast, and played over 400 games for Sunderland, before finishing my playing career with Bolton Wanderers.

I won 40 caps for the Republic of Ireland.

My wife was keen for us to return to the south of England, and I managed to get a junior coaching job with Reading.

That was eight years ago. Since then, I've worked my way up the ranks, and eventually became the Assistant Manager to recently appointed Manager, Rubén Sellés, who got the job after the club were relegated from the Championship last season.

However, Sellés was sensationally sacked after less than three weeks in charge, due to his public dissatisfaction about the club's precarious financial situation.

With the League One campaign just three weeks away, Reading asked me to take over for the season, with a view to my continuing beyond the next twelve months if I kept things stable at the club.

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With no money for transfers, it was a case of working with the players that came down from the Championship, the new players that Sellés signed this summer, and any free transfers or loan signings that I could make.

A tough task, but I got straight on the phone to sign a player that used to play for non-league side Hayes, and impressed me when they played against Reading's U18 side a few years ago.

This player was unbelievable. Not the quickest, or particularly good in the air, but his skill level was like nothing I'd ever seen before. Superb technique, fantastic dribbling ability, and a clinical finisher.

On top of that he had wonderful movement and agility, along with remarkable vision and exceptional passing ability.

As well as all this, he was as strong as an ox, as brave as a lion and as fit as a butcher's dog.

I'd urged a succession of Reading managers to sign him, but they were all put off by his terrible off-field reputation.

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I decided to take the plunge. The player had been working in Spain for several months, but straight away agreed to sign a five-year contract with the club for less than the minimum wage.

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On Robin's first day of training, the players and coaching staff couldn't believe their eyes.

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The training ground was buzzing, as the lads couldn't believe what a player they had amongst their ranks.

All the talk was how the club were going to win immediate promotion back to the Championship.

Music to my ears.




Next Update

I'll give you details about the other players I've signed; the supporting cast in 'The Robin Friday Show'.

I'll also let you know how our preseason results went, along with details about the club's precarious financial situation, and what my team will be for our opening day fixture at home to Portsmouth.
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Re: Short Stories: Tales of Unexpected Success & Redemption

Post by Redknapp69 »

Great pic

Wahaahahhahaah = look at those atts!
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Preseason News

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Transfer News

I landed several free transfer signings, along with a player on a season-long loan.

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I'll provide more details about Robin's team-mates as the season goes on.

I also appointed someone for the vacant Assistant Manager role.

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Ian will have a vital role to play in helping to keep Robin's team-mates happy, as I will be very much indulging the player. He can basically do what he likes. I won't be disciplining him for anything whatsoever, nor his team-mates for that matter, in the interest of fairness.

I asked Ian what he thought of Robin.

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He hasn't experienced the bad side of Robin yet, so I wonder if his opinion will change if there are any incidents of unprofessionalism.




Results

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The friendlies went well, and I was able to give everyone a runout.

I rested Robin for the first two games of our team-bonding trip to Slovakia. He made quite an impression on his team-mates while we were out there, but for all the wrong reasons.

The hotel that we were staying at had a lake. Robin decided to capture a swan, then freaked everyone out by bringing it into the bar. The poor bird was struggling like anything, but Robin had had too much to drink, and got a bit unpleasant when he was challenged by staff.

It culminated in the police getting called, and Robin spending the night in a Slovakian police cell.

Thankfully he was released without charge the next day, and when he returned to the hotel Robin turned on the charm and apologised to the staff.

Anyway, on a more positive note, I gave Robin the first 45 minutes against Podbrezova, and he performed really well and was unlucky not to score.

On returning to England, we hosted Scottish Championship side Dundee United, and spanked them 5-0. I gave Robin the first 45 minutes again, and he scored twice in an outstanding display that earned him a 10 rating and the Man of the Match award.

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Finances & Expectations

The club are in a lot of debt.

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Added to that, our annual wage bill of £6.5M is the highest in League One.

Even higher than Derby County's wage bill.

Our interest payments are currently over £200K per month.

Not ideal, but I still think that I have a squad that can get promoted, providing Robin delivers the goods.

The club are only expecting a respectable league position, so there shouldn't be any pressure on me.




Team News

This will be my side for the visit of Portsmouth. I'm very much hoping that Robin gets off to a flying start, and carries it on throughout the season.

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Here2Win79
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Re: Short Stories: Tales of Unexpected Success & Redemption

Post by Here2Win79 »

This save could come to a thundering halt when the board sell Brave Sir Robin from underneath you to reduce the debt.

I also can’t see it being too long before he is “worried by the club’s financial plight”
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Redknapp69
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Re: Short Stories: Tales of Unexpected Success & Redemption

Post by Redknapp69 »

Captured a Swan - :lol:

Lovely pre season results

Cup draw not ideal v a Champ team but focus is the league

Harlee Dean was VERY solid for me as a CB
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