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Aapo Virtanen: Don’t Look Back In Anger

Started on 6 November 2018 by Jack
Latest Reply on 5 September 2019 by Justice

As I arrive in Florence to take up my new role as manager of ACF Fiorentina, I find it important to give some background to my new club.

Personally, I am much better off financially as I have agreed a two-year deal at Artemio Franchi Stadium. I will earn €26,000 per week (€1.35M per annum) with bonuses for winning the Europa League or TIM Cup and qualifying for the Champions League.

Founded in 1926, a local noble and member of the National Fascist Party Luigi Ridolfi started Associazione Calcio Fiorentina by merging two older Florentine clubs, CS Firenze and PG Libertas. The aim of the merger was to give Florence a strong club to rival those of the more dominant Italian Football Championship sides of the time from Northwest Italy.

After a rough start and three seasons in lower leagues, Fiorentina reached the Serie A in 1931. That same year saw the opening of the new stadium, originally named after Giovanni Berta, a prominent fascist, but now known as Stadio Artemio Franchi.

In 1950, Fiorentina started to achieve consistent top-five finishes in the domestic league. The team consisted of great players such as well-known goalkeeper Giuliano Sarti, Sergio Cervato, Francesco Rosella, Guido Gratton, Giuseppe Chiappella and Aldo Scaramucci but above all, the attacking duo of Brazilian Julinho and Argentinian Miguel Montuori. This team won Fiorentina's first scudetto in 1955–56, 12 points ahead of 2nd placed Milan. Milan beat Fiorentina to top spot the following year, but more significantly Fiorentina became the first Italian team to play in a European Cup final, when a disputed penalty led to a 2–0 defeat at the hands of Alfredo Di Stéfano's Real Madrid.

In 2001 major changes were headed for Fiorentina, as the terrible state of the club's finances was revealed: they were unable to pay wages and had debts of around $50million. The club's owner was able to raise some more money, but even this soon proved to be insufficient resources to sustain the club. Fiorentina were relegated at the end of the 2001/02 season and went into judicially-controlled administration in June 2002. This form of bankruptcy meant that the club was refused a place in Serie B for the 2002/03 season, and as a result effectively ceased to exist.

The club was promptly re-established in August 2002 as Associazione Calcio Fiorentina e Florentia Viola with shoe and leather entrepreneur Diego Della Valle as new owner and the club was admitted into Serie C2. The only player to remain at the club in its new incarnation was Angelo Di Livio, whose commitment to the club's cause further endeared him to the fans. The club won its Serie C2 group with considerable ease, which would normally have led to a promotion to Serie C1, however, with the bizarre Catania case of 2003, the club skipped Serie C1 and was admitted into Serie B, something that was only made possible by the Italian FA's decision to resolve the Catania situation by increasing the number of teams in Serie B from 20 to 24 and promoting Fiorentina for "sports merits."

After securing Europa League football last season, Andrea Mandorlini faced the sack after leading Fiorentina down into 13th place - way down from 2023's 7th place finish. Fiorentina were knocked out of the Europa League in the qualifying knockout rounds by Lokomotiv Moscow as they suffered a 2-1 aggregate defeat. As it stands, Fiorentina are only seven points off their position from last season and they have trusted me to regain ground in the league with 19 games remaining.

In the backroom staff, the board consists of Fiorentina's owner and man who revived the club Andrea Della Valle as Mario Cognini sits as the chairman, a role he has had for nine years now. Former Serie A player Giancarlo Cavaliere also sits on the board as the club's managing director.

In the coaching department, we obviously have myself as the manager. As part of my move to Italy, the club paid the compensation fees for my Oulu assistant manager Thomas Jorgensen to come across alongside one of my coaches Bajram Fetai as the former Rangers midfielder joins on a two-year deal. Another possibly familiar face is our goalkeeping coach Julen Lopetegui. After managing huge clubs such as FC Porto and Real Madrid, Lopetegui has reverted back to a goalkeeping coach on our books as we sign him from Bologna.

In the scouting department, Carlos Freitas remains as a director of football at the club after signing me as manager. Former Fiorentina star player Gianluca Comotto is the clubs chief scout as he leads a scouting team of four other members.

Moving onto the playing squad, we will start at the back with the selection of goalkeepers at our disposal. Koen Casteels is our undisputed number one between the sticks for now, as Jero may be forced out of the club due to his high wage. Only Giacomo Puntoni is arguably our promising young goalkeeper as he sits in the Under 20s team.

At the back, Tony Moller - currently on loan from Paris Saint-Germain - is our best centre-back. The amount of loanees in our back line could be a problem moving forward and I will look to address the issue of the lack of permanent defenders at the club in January. Four out of the six first-team defenders are on loan at the club and with a transfer budget of nearly €40million, the issue will be resolved to some extent.

Vanni Vezzosi seems our best young player at left-back in the defence, and I will certainly look to play him in more games than loanee Antonee Robinson in that particular position to aid his development.

In the midfield, Marco Benassi is the club captain and a team leader. At 29 years old, he does not have much room for improvement and he is in his prime. With Matteo Guendouzi, his midfield partner, I don't like the look of the Frenchman who is on €90K per week at the club, so I may look to offload the player to help free up the wage budget slightly.

Jordan Veretout is currently out on loan, which is unfortunate as I will look to sell the 30-year-old as I think despite him not being a key player at Fiorentina, he is worth a lot of money on the transfer market. On €64K per week, he is also taking up a lot of the wage budget.

The forward position is somewhere that needs a lot of consideration in the upcoming transfer window. We only have one first-team striker at the club in Miguel Borja and the Colombian is not doing very well up top this season with only four goals 23 starts this season. A new striker is top of my list going into my new job.
Looks like an interesting squad to take over. Looks a concern at the back especially the fact that your only permanent center back is a 17 year old who doesn't look quite up to standards yet! The striker situation is also a worry but i am sure Aapo will be able to use the budget wisely in bringing in improvements!

P.S Loving the graphics
Great update. I do like Fiorentina, Batigol being a favourite of mine. Goodluck and bring the glory back to the Viola.

19th December 2019

"Marko," Aapo said talking into his phone. "I'm walking down Kasarmintie now. You said he would be on the E8 bridge by now?"

"Correct," Marko Forsell said down the phone in reply to Aapo. "I want rid of him tonight, and if not... You are in just as much trouble as Niilo." He said before ending the call immediately.

Marko Forsell was the head of the Oulu branch of United Brotherhood gang operating all over Scandinavia. Niilo Makinen had betrayed the gang by agreeing to testify against key members involved in illegal arms and narcotics trade. This included Marko Forsell himself.

Forsell had helped Aapo Virtanen on suppressing the assault charges brought against him by a teenage boy who was part of the Nordic Resistance Movement at the beginning of his spell at AC Oulu. If the case went to court, Virtanen's career in Oulu would have been over before it even began. He was only a rookie, promoted by chance at the time after Mika Lahderrine's resignation. There was no league titles, no cup wins, no Champions League appearances by that point. Just a young manager with a pending assault charge.

Forsell, with contacts in the local district judiciary had been contacted by Aapo Virtanen in the hope of getting the case thrown out of court. Forsell arranged this, leading to a web of inconvenient 'paybacks', including money from Virtanen's Oulu wage, access to represent Oulu footballers as agents and other things. The gang had been increasing the pressure on Aapo for more things. Now Forsell had threatened to uncover the extent of how much protection the gang had given to Virtanen if he didn't complete the biggest and most evil task yet.

Aapo was told to kill Niilo Makinen by Marko Forsell, as a duty to the United Brotherhood gang. And that was what he was going through with.

Aapo looked at the notes in his pockets written by Forsell: 'Don't be any longer than two minutes on the bridge. There is no surveillance on the bridge, only at either ends of the bridge.'

The Oulujoki river flowed calmly down to the sea, which you could see open up to the right of the E8 highway. It was there that I saw Makinen making his left turn onto the bridge, he was on his way to a gang meeting that Forsell had faked to make sure that Makinen turned onto the E8 bridge.

Aapo flipped his coat hood up over his head as he made his entrance onto the scene. He knew that there had been surveillance of his path up to the bridge, but now he was invisible to the eyes of CCTV. Aapo walked down the right-hand side of Makinen as they came across each other. With brass knuckles wrapped around his fingers, Virtanen knocked Makinen unconscious in one blow to his face. The next instruction given to Aapo was to toss Makinen into the flowing Oulujoki river whilst unconscious.

That was the real story of Niilo Makinen's death.

LFCFan: The squad is in dire need of rebuilding, even if it is top-half quality at its current rate. The lack of goals from our striker is also a worry that I need to tend to.

SonOfAnarchy: He was an incredible striker for the Viola! I just need another Batistuta in my team and we're going places ;)
Holy Shit Jack
How You Did It Doing Some Wonderful Images
OMG. Looking forward to what’s next. Great update.

3rd January 2024

"Carlos, I know you usually handle this transfer business and contracts, but the fact is I know both Boskovic and Hora's agent. Igor Savic his name is and I have done numerous deals with him while I was at Oulu." I said to the director of football Carlos Freitas, who was annoyed that I was taking control of the transfer side of the club business.

"I'm just saying that I deal with the targets and you select who fits best. It defeats the point of my role if you are going to select and sign the players," Freitas explained to me with his hands on my desk. "You've only been here one week and I feel like I am being undermined."

"Look, these are going to be my two signings, just like how I brought Thomas Jorgensen and Bajram Fetai in as backroom staff. We are signing Nikola Boskovic and Rostislav Hora from AC Oulu and that is that. I know their agent well and we get on, we will simply get a cut-price for two incredibly talented young players." I said as I dialled Igor Savic's mobile number.

"Oh come on!" Freitas shouted as he stormed out of the door. I simply looked up and watched him leave as the phone rang in my ear.

"Igor!" I said gleefully as Savic picked up his phone, although the line was slightly fuzzy. "How's life my friend?"

"Hello Aapo, I'm good man, I'm just in Jagodina, Serbia. What can I do for you?" Savic asked in his thick Eastern European accent.

"I'm going to be straight with you here. Can you bring Nikola Boskovic and Rostislav Hora over to Italy for talks. I know it looks bad making them unsettled and taking Oulu for granted, but I really, really want them over here. Your trouble will be compensated nicely, you know you will with me." I said to him, persuasively.

"How much are we talking, Aapo?"

"€750,000 altogether, €300,000 if you can only manage to bring one over."

"You've got a deal. I'll be on the phone to them straight away, tell them to request new contracts with Valakari. I'll handle the negotiations, set astronomical asking prices for their wages and bonuses, he'll reject it outright because he seems like a complete tool," Igor was talking me through how the deal to bring both players to Fiorentina by unsettling them under their new manager Simo Valakari. "I'll get both Nikola and Rostislav to hand in transfer requests and that is where you come in with your low offers - they can't reject that, simple as. Both of them worship you as a boss."

"Well, you get the wheels in motion, I'll set the funds free whenever you give me the nod, OK?"

As new manager of Fiorentina, I wouldn't say I was raiding my old club. I bought those players for Oulu because they are extremely talented players. I am simply showing loyalty to my own judgement, regardless of where the players come from.

LugoManager: Thanks man, really appreciate your comment :D

SonOfAnarchy: Who knows eh? ;)
Wow. I did not expect that at all! Not sure I know what to say, except that I am very much looking forward to the questioning...

As the Serie A transfer window for January slams shut for the final time of the 2023/24 season, I have managed to sign up ten new players for the coming six months, including two former Oulu players and a player on loan until the end of the season.

The first arrival was my old AC Oulu number one Nikola Boskovic who played 43 times in all competitions for me in last seasons Veikkausliiga-winning campaign. The young Serbian shot-stopper conceded 42 goals whilst also keeping 17 clean sheets. He had the most clean sheets in Veikkausliiga last season with an astounding 15 games where no goals found their way past him.

At Oulu, he managed to shift David Obi out of the way to become my first choice goalkeeper and in Italy, he will have to contest Koen Casteels for the Fiorentina starting spot in the future. He is a highly promising goalkeeper and I am delighted to have signed him once again.

I signed a new right-back following the departure of Claud Adjapong to Napoli. 17-year-old Daniel Rietveld is to be our new back-up and long-term solution to the right-back problem. Currently Mario Fernandes starts at right-back as the 33-year-old Russian is on loan from Manchester United.

With Fernandes going back to his parent club and due to his age we are unlikely to sign him, Rietveld may see himself become a starting player in the not-so-distant future.

Portuguese star Amadeu Neves was the next player to join us. As brought up in the squad profile update, permanent solutions to the centre-back position is an issue that needed addressing this transfer window. At just 20 years old, Neves looks an absolute bargain as he arrives from La Liga side Deportivo Alavés. We activated his minimum fee release clause of €14.5M and I certainly believe we got a bargain as he heads straight into the first-team fold at such a young age.

To add to the solution to the lack of permanent centre-backs, Cas Maatman joins us alongside Daniel Rietveld from PSV Eindhoven. At a €16.25M release clause fee, Maatman is the most expensive player that I have ever signed in my career as a football manager, and I am hoping that along with Amadeu Neves at the back, the pair can form a great partnership in the coming years as the loanees head back to their parent clubs.

With many transfer targets in mind, it was key to sniff out the best bargains possible and that meant scouring the lower leagues of Italy where I found Bologna's star midfielder Mattias Svanberg. The Swedish international has spent six seasons dipping up and down between Serie A and Serie B with Bologna after joining in 2018 from Malmo. He joins on a €2M transfer fee and can hopefully bring some much needed stability to our midfield for the next couple of years.

Tom Mrmic was our next midfield addition as we snapped the 19-year-old up for a bargain €3.7M due to his release clause with his old club Koln. The youngster starred in the 2022/23 season for Koln as he spearheaded the clubs promotion from 2.Bundesliga into the German top tier with 25 appearances and adding two goals in the process. Mrmic possesses fantastic physical ability that can be utilised to add a bit of steel in the middle of my midfield when necessary.

The second and final raid of AC Oulu was completed with the signature of Rostislav Hora. After two backroom staff and Nikola Boskovic joined from the Finnish champions, Hora was the man at the top of my list to sign from new Oulu manager Simo Valakari. Last season under me at AC Oulu, Hora had an incredible season after signing as a 16-year-old from Slavia Praha. The Czech midfielder made 32 appearances in all competitions, scoring nine goals and assisting with four. When he reaches his full potential, he will be a very, very dangerous player.

Adding a lot more experience than my other signings is the loan deal agreed with Benfica to take 34-year-old midfielder Pizzi on loan until the end of the Italian season. The Portuguese international has been a success at every club he has been at thanks to his technical ability as well as his composure on the ball. Rather than paying over the odds for a player who, while he is talented, could decline at any moment, I have decided to take him on loan for now and pay Benfica €50,000 just for the benefit of having him on our side.

Just the first player out of the only two Italian signings we made is Sampdoria's Paolo Filpo who joins us for the value of his release clause set at €7.5M. At only 19 years old and possessing first-team qualities, Filpo's transfer fee was a great deal. So far this season, Filpo has only made four Serie A appearances for Sampdoria, scoring twice. His pace and dribbling is a threat to any full-back and I shall be looking to use him as much as possible.

In our final move of the window, we finally got our hands on a new striker in the form of Davide Merola. With his contract at Internazionale expiring in July 2024, Italian clubs were hovering around his signature at the end of the season, but we inserted a cut-price €2.4M transfer offer which was accepted before our contract offer was also accepted.

Despite being a homegrown player at the Giuseppe Meazza, Merola saw himself being crowded out of the starting 11 at Inter as Lautaro Martinez and Moussa Dembele stole the spotlight up front. Last year he was sent out on loan to fellow Serie A side Parma and scored nine goals in 36 games which shows he can score if played in the right team, which we hope to provide.

With regards to players leaving the club, we let six first-team players depart this January. Wolves signed two of our players in Diego Rolan and Bryan Cabezas for a combined €19M fee as our back-up goalkeeper Jero was sold upon Boskovic's arrival at Artemio Franchi.

Right-back Claud Adjapong was sold for €9M to Napoli as his wages were far too high in relation to his ability and Matteo Guendouzi faced the same reasoning as he joined Palermo for €10.25M.

Youth player Claudio Pasini was also sold for €100,000 to Parma.
Some excellent deals in there mate! Really good pick ups with some of those release clauses. Bar Pizzi you have some very talented youngsters who i am sure will form the spine of your side for years to come!
Some extremely tidy business there. A lot of focus going into bringing in young players that have the qualities to perform now, but also could grow into stars in the future. The squad has been vastly improved, no doubt, so I look forward to seeing how this works out on the pitch.
Some impressive signings, let's see if they can hit the river running!

3rd January 2024

"Large bourbon please, sir." I ordered the barman working at the Mayday Club in Florence.

I had just finished my first full week of work at Fiorentina and with the matchday over as well as being back in the city, I had all the excuses to go out for a drink tonight. I knew all about the Finnish police's investigation into me with United Brotherhood's Marko Forsell having a mole in the force who was leaking information to him as he was on the payroll.

I had been in contact with Forsell everyday after the investigation first began. He told me that it was an unexpected turn of events that he didn't forsee as he thought he had the local authorities around his little finger working for him and his millions. However, he said that the organised crime network that he was linked in with spanned all over Europe to the Italian mafia. He promised that I would not go down on any charges and that the Italian mafia would protect me no matter what, and with their notorious reputation created in films like The Godfather and such I trusted him on that.

The club WhatsApp group was pinging continuously as I sat in the dark corner of the club. The music was smooth which allowed me to think quietly and independently on my own. The Mayday Club was the first bar that I had been to after signing my deal with Fiorentina - it was cosy, relaxing and it served great whiskey.

With the newspapers reporting the daily national and local news, I couldn't be bothered scanning through current affairs and read the positive articles about my appointment to Fiorentina. The ongoing Finnish investigation had not been made public yet but I felt that it was only a matter of time.

"Mr. Virtanen?" I felt a slap on the back before a deep, gruff Italian accent plundered into my ears. "I am Paolo Ricci. Marko Forsell sent me to come and see you to understand what is going on back in your home."

"Oh," I gasped with relief. I was terrified once I felt the heavy slap on my back. "Thank you, Paolo. It's nice to meet you finally. I have been very worried about the recent events."

"I must admit, I can't stay here long. Forsell is providing me with all the information that we need to protect you. You're one of our priorities, Aapo. You will be OK. We promise you." He said, remaining stood up despite a vacant chair opposite me. "This is something that we have experience in and have successfully dealt with every single time it has come up. I am going to give you a telephone number. It is my boss, Daniele Esposito. If you meet any disturbances, you give him a call." He passed me a ripped off corner of lined paper into my hand. "We will see you shortly."
Mhm, very intriguing. It seems Aapo has the protection he needs in order to get away with his previous acts!

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