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My Football Manager Adventure SNAFU

An unlikely young man finds himself taking over one of the most prestigious clubs in the Premier League.
Started on 13 November 2015 by Glenn T
Latest Reply on 21 December 2015 by Jack

Skrtel Quits Slovakia

Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel has announced his retirement from international football with Slovakia following his national team's failure to qualify for next year's European Football Championships.

Finishing 3rd in Group C, the Slovaks were made to contest the playoffs and Poland eventually bested them over two legs to claim a spot at the tournament in France.

Skrtel made his debut for Slovakia in July 2004, and after more than 10 years, amassed an impressive total of 80 caps as well as 5 goals.

However, he will not be adding to that number after confirming that he would be leaving the international scene in a bid to further his footballing career.

The 30-year-old has formed an excellent partnership alongside Mamadou Sakho in the heart of Liverpool's defense this season. The Reds have conceded just 9 goals in 14 Premier League games and sit 3rd in the table, being level on points with 2nd-placed Tottenham and just 1 point away from table toppers Manchester United.

"It is a good feeling to play for your country but all good things must come to an end," said Skrtel in his official statement.

"I enjoyed every bit of my time with the national team and I will definitely continue to follow Slovakia in the capacity of a fan.

"Unfortunately, at the moment it's time for me to focus on other things in my career. At 30 years old I want to prolong my career for as long as I can. I will be quitting Slovakia to try and accomplish that."

With Skrtel ruling himself out of contention for future Slovakia games, national team manager Jan Kozak has elected to hand the vacant captain's armband over to vice-captain Marek Hamsik, while veteran midfielder Viktor Pecovsky assumes vice-captaincy duties.
Skrtel is a great player. bad day for the slovaks :(
Great read this!
Could you show your tactics please?

Definitely gonna follow this story now!
Thirty is a bit young to be retiring internationally, but it should only benefit you now ;)
SooruSooru: Right on, it's pretty good for me though I think!

CSween13: Thanks! Tactics are really hard to get right on FM16, I cycle between like 4 and just switch it up whenever the current one is doing badly. I've had mixed results with different tactics but this one is doing the most work for me so far.

Jack: Yeah, I was surprised when I saw the news in my inbox, but I'm not complaining :P

Simply Put, I'm Not a Christmas Person

Christmas. Everybody loves Christmas. It's a great event, an opportunity for people around the world to share the gift of giving. Bonds are strengthened and moods are lifted. Tell me, who doesn't like Christmas?

A certain individual by the name of Hachiman Hikigaya, that's who.

It was just another pointless holiday, wasn't it? I failed to see the hype surrounding it. Perhaps that would be due to the fact that all my previous years of Christmas were spent holed up in my living room and playing video games alone.

For what it's worth, I did appreciate Christmas as much as any other holiday. Holidays meant breaks from school or work.

As I was saying before, I usually spent my Christmases alone, as well as my family on occasion. This year, things were a little bit different.

I had planned out my day perfectly. I would nap until the afternoon in the hotel room that I'd called home for the past six months, followed by a nice lunch and some video games. How I spent every single one of my non-working days, basically.

Unfortunately, my plans were ruined in the early hours of the morning when I was roused awake by a phone call.

My drowsy self fumbled for the phone on my bedside desk. Christ, what time was it? My phone said 7 o'clock in the morning. This was usually when I would turn up for training at Melwood, but I was a hundred and one percent sure there wasn't any training scheduled for today.

I squinted to see the name of the caller who had caused my rude awakening. Hayato Hayama. Yeah, screw that. I rejected the incoming call and went back to sleep.

Two minutes later, my phone sounded again.

I picked it up this time. "What do you want?" I snarled.

"Good morning, Hikigaya," replied the bright and cheerful voice that I had grown sick of hearing. "How are you doing?"

"It's 7 o'clock," I felt like screaming at him. "How do you think I'm doing?"

"Did I wake you? I'm sorry, I thought you would be up."

Who in their right mind would get out of bed at 7 o'clock?

"Well, what do you want?" I repeated my question tiredly. I wasn't in the mood for arguments, I just wanted to get back to sleep.

"Just checking if you have a nice suit for the party tonight? I'm getting a new one later on, so we can go look for suits together if you'd like?"

I frowned. "What party?"

"The Christmas party, Hikigaya."

"It isn't compulsory."

"Ah, but you're the manager of the team. You have to attend. It's going to be a really fun night, trust me on this one."

I felt a severe headache coming on. "Okay, okay. I'll be there," I said with heavy reluctance.

"So, about my earlier offer...?"

"No," I said immediately, killing the call. To see Hayama in training every week was enough for me. I didn't want to be around him on off days as well.

Placing the mobile back on the desk, I reentered the slumber I deserved.

Personally, I didn't understand the thinking behind celebrating a holiday event with people from your workplace.

I mean, wasn't I seeing these guys enough already? I would have liked to at least spend Christmas alone, playing the games I want to play and catching the shows I want to watch.

But of course that wasn't going to happen.

Decked out in the most stylish outfit I could find - a plain white shirt protected by a black jacket that I bought from one of the stores near the hotel, as well as a pair of jeans, I stepped into the pub.

In the first place, why was this party being held in a drinking establishment? I didn't like that at all.

Just as I thought that, I walked into a table where most of the Liverpool first team gathered. Some players had dodged the party. The only inference I could make regarding their absences was that they were as unsociable as their manager.

"Hey gaffer," Henderson called out. "Merry Christmas!"

The proper date for Christmas was about two weeks away to be exact, but correcting him would be a tasteless move. Instead, I chose to respond with a meek "thanks, same to you".

The table didn't have any seats left, thus I made the decision to make my way toward a deserted corner of the bar, where I could enjoy my night in peace and quiet.

And lo and behold, what I met with there was the unpleasantly charming figure of Hayato Hayama.

I turned sharply in an attempt to make my escape, but the assistant manager from Hell caught on to me too quickly.

"Is that you, Hikigaya? I didn't think you would actually appear," he chuckled, greeting me with an exuberant wave.

Resigning myself to fate, I walked over to occupy the other vacant seat at his table. "You were the one who said I had to come," I pointed out.

"So you're the kind of guy who follows orders blindly?" Hayama teased, looking very amused. "Not exactly a bad trait, but as a football manager you might want to work on that."

I wasn't really in the mood, so I decided to ignore him in favor of calling for a glass of orange juice, which was promptly delivered to the table.

Now, as someone who can count the number of friends he has on one hand, I can't boast about having any social skills. Still, I understand that if someone ignores you, it means he doesn't want to converse with you any further.

Evidently, Hayama didn't get the memo. "What do you think of your job so far?"

Really? Bringing up work as a conversation topic, at a party no less? I was very aware that Hayama didn't know me well enough to recognize the things I liked to talk about. Nevertheless, he could at least try.

"It isn't as hard as I expected it to be," I said truthfully.

This brought out a chuckle from him. "That isn't something a lot of people will agree with. Football management is one of the hardest jobs in the world, you know? It's amazing that you've adapted to it so quickly. You've even got us fighting for the title."

I sipped at my orange juice quietly, unsure of how to react at such praise. "Thanks, I guess."

"Sometimes I think you really are a genius. It was the same back in high school. You learnt and adapted to new things faster than anybody else. You've not changed a bit after all these years, I see."

Why was this guy worshipping me all of a sudden? "Are you trying to borrow money or something?" I asked suspiciously.

He laughed again. "Ever the joker, eh, Hikigaya?"

Yeah, except that I wasn't joking.

"Anyway, we can talk about what you've achieved all night but let's move on. Do you think any positions in the team need strengthening? The transfer window is going to open soon and we should make plans beforehand."

This is a Christmas party, can we talk about something more Christmassy?

I cast my gaze at the table where the Liverpool players sat. They were in high spirits and playing some game that involved chugging down beer. If I had to fathom a guess, football was currently the last thing on their minds.

"A new goalkeeper would be nice."

"A new goalkeeper? Are you going to replace Simon? He's done a good job this season in my honest opinion."

Finishing the last of my juice, I absentmindedly browsed through the menu for something that could fill my empty stomach. "We can keep Mignolet for now. I think Bogdan isn't good enough. He should go."

"Adam Bogdan," Hayama repeated, getting his phone out and typing away on it. "We can get in a goalkeeper who's a prospect, someone that can replace Simon in a few seasons."

"Yeah, yeah, do that."

"How does Timo Horn from Cologne or Geronimo Rulli from Real Sociedad sound?" Hayama enquired. I looked back at him cluelessly. I didn't know any of these names. At the same time, I wanted to focus on deciding my dinner for the night.

"Just get in whoever can do a job."
Basically, you're Scrooge :))
Just get in whoever can do a job, eh..... Glenn. does hikigaya know anything about football ? :P
Jack: Sounds about right :P

SooruSooru: He doesn't!

December 2015

As the New Year approached, high-flying Liverpool began to show signs of faltering, dropping points against title defenders Chelsea and 14th-placed Leicester City, as well as being held to a 0-0 draw at Anfield to a resilient Stoke City. On a positive note, the Reds wrapped up their group stage games in the Europa League with a bang as they crushed Vitesse 3-0 in a convincing performance to finish top of Group G. Hikigaya's first cup as Liverpool manager is also within reach after his side advanced to the Semi Finals of the League Cup at the expense of Sheffield Wednesday.

Premier League

Chelsea 2 - 1 Liverpool

Liverpool 1 - 2 Leicester

Swansea 0 - 3 Liverpool

Liverpool 0 - 0 Stoke

Liverpool 1 - 0 Watford

Stoke 0 - 3 Liverpool

League Cup Quarter Final

Liverpool 3 - 0 Sheff Wed

Europa League Group G

Liverpool 3 - 0 Vitesse

Player of the Month - December

Currently being used on a rotational basis at left-back alongside recent capture Faouzi Ghoulam, Alberto Moreno continued to prove just exactly why he deserves to have his name consistently on the team sheet. The Spaniard had a good showing against Sheffield Wednesday in the League Cup and practically massacred Vitesse to help Liverpool finish top of Group G.
Nice update on the Christmas Party.

Congratulations on the Europa League qualification, well done.
About the Premier League, it's going great. 5 points to the top with half season going, looks very good.
Looks important, maybe, to get Liverpool back to the Champions League, but of course it's still very possible dreaming about that long-wanted title. Let's be alert about the teams behind too. But everybody will still lose points... I guess the team might have suffered a little bit phisically this month, and not taking all they could.

But it's going really good, in my opinion. Keep it going and good luck ;)
A great month to be going into the New Year with!
great month but lost against the Foxes :(
Murtagh: Yeah it's not been the best month, but we are going to keep working hard for that Champions League spot, and maybe even the title! We just have to get rid of these occasions where we don't get all the points against the small teams. Anyway, thanks, it's always nice to hear from you!

Jack: Two losses and a draw isn't that great imo :P We've managed to progress really well in the cups though, so I'll share that opinion for now!

SooruSooru: :(
Glenn T's avatar Group Glenn T
5 yearsEdited

Thus, My New Year Starts With a Bang

It's a tradition for us Japanese to visit shrines in the early morning hours of New Year's Day. There, we pray - obviously, what else do you do at a a shrine? We also state our wishes for the coming year ahead for the Gods to listen to, in the hopes that they assist us in fulfilling those dreams.

Now, I'm not really a traditional person, but I've pretty much grown used to the notion of New Year shrine visits, having practiced it since I was born.

However, I quickly found out that there were no such shrines in the city of Liverpool. Of course, that could also be down to myself as I hadn't exactly found the time to search hard enough thanks to my responsibilities as a football manager.

Thus, I went for the next best thing: dialing home on the first hour of 2016.

My little sister, Komachi, was the one who picked up the phone. I could recognize that infectiously enthusiastic voice anywhere.

"Helloooo! Hikigaya household!"

"Yo, it's me. Happy New Year."

"Ah, big bro! Hey! What's up?" She instantly identified my voice as well. "Well, it's not New Year over here though. Not yet, anyway."

"Yeah, yeah, I know, but it's 12am over here so I just figured I should call. Is everything okay back home? How's Mom and Dad? Are you doing fine at school?"

That was enough to provoke a childish-sounding complain. "Jeez, you're asking way too many questions you know!"

"I'm sorry for worrying," I shot back. "I know you can't function without me, after all."

There are very few people in my life I genuinely enjoy talking to, let alone the number of individuals with whom I can speak without any restraint. Komachi was both, and for good reason. We shared a close sibling relationship and strangely, she was probably what I missed most from back home. Not the food, not the lifestyle, but my younger sister.

"Isn't it more like the other way around?" Her comeback was swift. "Mom and Dad are okay. For me, um... it's been the norm, I guess. University is fun and all, I'm just looking forward to graduating soon."

"That's good. Maybe I'll fly back for your graduation."

"Awesome! You'd better be there," Komachi said gleefully. "More importantly, aren't you busy with an important match tomorrow? Are you sure you should be up past midnight?"

"Hm? How do you know about that?" I wasn't aware of her being interested in football. She never really was the sporty type.

She replied in a tone that chided me for being the biggest idiot on the planet. "Of course I follow the team my brother is involved in. You guys play Manchester United tomorrow, right?"

I was impressed. I had been here for half a year and I still had trouble memorizing the full name of Liverpool's biggest rivals. It was usually just United to me, nothing more.

"Yeah, United," I let out a sigh. "It's going to be a hard game. They're one of the toughest to beat."

The day of my debut as Liverpool manager was a day I remembered clearly - it was the day Juan Mata condemned my new colleagues to a 0-2 loss against United at Anfield.

"Wow, big bro... I've known you all my life and this is the first time I've seen you actually giving a crap about something!" Komachi was in complete awe, as if she had just seen a dinosaur. "Am I dreaming? Am I?"

To be honest, I was also feeling fairly surprised.

"It comes with the job," I went with the best explanation I could muster. "It pays really well. I don't want to get fired, so I have to care about the results and all that. I don't really care much for anything else."

"I'm just happy you've finally found something in your life to be passionate about!"

Passion? That was an exaggeration to me, though I didn't think it was a necessity to correct her on that front.

"Now if only you could develop some social skills..."

Leave it to Komachi to make a jibe right after a positive comment.

In all fairness, she wasn't wrong. It's true, I lack social skills, and I have been lacking them for the best part of 22 years. I don't see the need to change that fact now.

The phone call continued with some banter back and forth, up until her insistence that I had to catch some shuteye.

"I'm gonna try and catch the game tomorrow!" Komachi informed me. "Good luck, bro!"

I was going to tell her to refrain from watching my team make fools of themselves against arguably one of the best football clubs in the world.

It was too late. The phone line went dead before I could open my mouth. With a sigh, I sank into bed, pulling the covers over my field of vision.

As I drifted off to sleep, taking all three points from United was the only thing on my mind.

Louis van Gaal.

Struggling to commit names to memory is a trait that I've had since young, especially if it was the name of someone I didn't really care about.

However, remembering the name of van Gaal was anything but a tough task. His trademark ugly-looking hairstyle reminded me of everything I had to know.

"It's good to see you again, Hikigaya," said the Dutchman warmly. "Good luck."

Wishing an opponent luck was a senseless move that I never understood. I simply nodded in response and turned my attention back to the pitch as United kicked off.

The first man to have a kick of the ball was Juan Mata.

"This guy," I took the time to recall my words to the squad in the dressing room. "Juan Mata. He's dangerous. Whatever he wants to do, don't let him do it. Mark him. Tackle him. Foul him. Whatever. Anything. Just stop him. He's dangerous."

I repeated the word 'dangerous' about six or seven times. Here's hoping they got the message I was trying to put across.

I watched intently, as both teams began to settle into their individual styles of play. Unlike last time around, there was the privilege of selecting a strong first-team lineup, so I felt a slight bit more confident.

Sure, we had no chance of demolishing United completely in their own backyard, Old Trafford, but we could definitely give them a hard game.

A front three of Philippe Coutinho, Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge guaranteed goals. Thankfully, they all happened to be fit and firing. That fact encouraged me to employ an offensive 4-3-3 formation.

Against a team that I recognized as stronger than ours, it was common sense to play defensively.

Even so, from what little experience I had in football management, I knew that taking risks worked sometimes. Sometimes.

All of a sudden, the entirety of Old Trafford erupted into a mixture of boos and cheers.

Two minutes in. Liverpool 1, United 0. Sturridge.

Shit, what the heck just happened? I kept my eyes glued to the replay on the large screen above the stadium. Lallana had played a beautiful lob in for Sturridge and my striker demonstrated his gratitude with an excellent finish.

As the Liverpool players piled on top of Sturridge, I just punched the air.

No need to get too excited, not when there was 88 minutes left to play for. I saw fire in the eyes of the United players. If they pulled one goal back, there was no doubt about it. We were going to crumble.

"Concentrate!" I screamed. I didn't know if the players could hear me over their ecstasy, yet this was something that needed to be said. "Keep your focus! You've not won yet!"

That line seemed to keep the boys on their toes. It took just eight minutes for David de Gea to be tested again, this time by James Milner.

It wasn't 2-0, but the sight of Liverpool dominating proceedings looked fantastic.

The end of 45 minutes saw my starting eleven file into the Old Trafford dressing room. The scoreline remained 1-0.

I clapped my hands, signalling for all of them to look up at my face. That was what my elementary school teacher used to do. I figured it would also work on a group of grown men.

"Okay, let's get down to it," I took a deep breath. "You are all playing fucking fantastic."

Some players burst out laughing, the rest made do with a broad smile on their lips.

"Keep playing like this and we're going to win for sure. But," I took a moment to pause, emphasizing on that last word. "No complacency. Focus. The game isn't over until it's 90 minutes. There's still one more half, and there's everything to play for. Keep at it."

I stopped the team talk briefly, allowing them all a few seconds to process what had just been said.

"Sakho, Skrtel," I turned my attention to the center-backs. "You guys are doing great at hushing Mata. Don't stop. Mark him. Tackle him. Foul him. Anything. Whatever. Make sure that little bugger isn't in the game at all. He's an invisible presence. He can't accomplish anything. And you guys are in charge of making sure of that. So make sure of it. If anyone can help United get back into the game, it's Mata."

They looked at me as if I was retarded. I could feel their facial expressions questioning why I hated United's attacking midfielder so much. At the very least, they made the effort to reply, "Sure, boss."

"Anyway, I've said everything that can be said. Now it's up to all of you whether we take home these three points or not."

With that, the starting eleven exited the room and made their way back onto the field. I stopped Sturridge as he walked past.

A quizzical look was present on the goalscorer's face.

"Hat trick."

"Excuse me, gaffer?"

"Hat trick. I want a hat trick."

He looked at me, dumbfounded. "It isn't that easy, gaffer."

Yeah, I know, I'm not that stupid. "I believe in you. You're the best finisher I have. I'm one hundred percent sure you can do it. Go out there and get those three points for us."

Sturridge grinned. "Alright. I'll try my best not to let you down." Equipped with renewed vigor, he sprinted away.

To be honest, I wasn't exactly that optimistic. Regardless, there wasn't any harm in giving footballers that extra bit of self-belief.

Time to get hoping for that hat trick.

You know those times when you watch a horror flick and it's so good that you just have to watch it again? I think I've done that once in my life. I enjoy some horror from time to time because let's be truthful here, real life's already horror in itself.

At the moment, United were the ones rewatching that horror movie, titled Daniel Sturridge. It's a grade A movie, if I do say so myself.

2-0. Literally history repeating itself. Lallana drifted the ball over three United defenders to Sturridge once again. And Sturridge, once again, followed up with the greatest finish I've ever seen.

I looked at the clock. 67 minutes, but studying the defeated faces of United's players told me it was already over.

They came out after half-time rejuvenated and ready to threaten. Wayne Rooney enjoyed the best chance three minutes into the second half. Thank God his finishing was sub-par, completely opposite to that of Sturridge. The ball went way wide of it's intended target. From the corner of my eye, I had caught Louis van Gaal's reaction of smacking his head in disgust.

And hey, that was two goals for Sturridge. One more for the promised hat trick, I thought.

United looked ready to pack their bags and leave. It came as no surprise that Sturridge's third goal of the afternoon arrived barely ten minutes later.

He sprayed the ball out for Alberto Moreno, who crossed it back for the striker to head it into the net past David de Gea.

I turned my attention over to United's attacking trident. Compared to Liverpool's hat trick hero, Mata was hardly getting a sniff.

Sturridge celebrated his hat trick wildly, but he didn't forget to shoot a thumbs-up back to the dugout. Despite mostly failing to acknowledge friendly gestures, I responded to this one perfectly, giving him a thumbs-up in return.

A fourth for the goal assassin, who was currently playing in the, if I had to guess, best game of his life, looked imminent.

United players were placing more emphasis on him now. This backfired though, as Matteo Darmian's rough push on Sturridge resulted in the referee calling for a penalty.

Midfield-bossing Milner promptly stepped up to convert it for 4-0.

4-0 against Manchester United at Old Trafford. I could hardly believe it.

I looked up at the stands as Milner hi-fived his teammates. Several United fans were getting up to leave. Even the United players themselves looked like they badly wanted to join their own supporters.

Their wishes were swiftly granted, as the rest of the game passed without any incident.

"Congratulations, you have Liverpool playing very well," was all Louis van Gaal said, as he shook my hand at the end of the game.


Nothing else was said. Van Gaal disappeared as quickly as a parting ghost, choosing to hurry down the tunnel instead of exchanging further pleasantries.

I couldn't care less. 4-0. What a way to start my 2016.

I didn't know what this emotion was. Happiness? Satisfaction? All I knew was that I liked it. Loved it, even. Maybe this football management job wasn't so bad after all.

By the end of the day, I had completely forgotten about Juan Mata.

You are reading "My Football Manager Adventure SNAFU".

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