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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
God bless Leena, that's all I can say.
I feel like there's a hidden piece of a plot in this update, but I shan't speculate just yet! Great to see Leena back in Aapo's arms, but what does it mean for the pair?
What a season and to cap it off with Aapo finally reuniting with Leena! Couldn’t be better!
Hey Jack,
I've been following this series as a guest pretty much from the start.
You're an incredible writer/storyteller, keep it up!
I'm curious which leagues have you had activated at the start of your save and which ones are still active at this point in your save?
Best regards
Oaky :)

For the first time since 1969, we have won the Serie A title! A great achievement in such a well-contested season and along with the domestic title came two other domestic trophies.

The months of April and May were the spells of both jubilation and disappointment as we secured two trophies but was knocked out of Europe’s most prestigious award in the semi-finals by Tottenham Hotspur.

In April, a 6-1 aggregate domination of the Spanish giants Atlético Madrid opened up to a clean sheet run of four consecutive games which included the retainment of the TIM Cup against AC Milan near the end of the month in which Tom Mrmic led us to cup glory.

After a disappointing 2-1 loss to Spurs in the first leg in our final match of April, our Champions League fate was set in stone at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium early on in May with a repeat scoreline of a 2-1 defeat. The loss in Europe seemed to be a catalyst for us to push on and win the Serie A title, however. Five goals went in against Empoli before the title-deciding crunch match against Milan. Yannick Carrasco and Riccardo Borgarello with his first-ever goal in a Fiorentina shirt sealed the competition’s fate with a 3-2 victory. This was closed off and clinched in the final three fixtures of which we picked up maximum points.

With regards to the final league table, after our victory against Milan in late May, the Rossoneri dropped further points in their next fixture away to Roma which gifted us the league title by a six-point margin. We were by no means the top scorers in the division this year, but our leading defensive record thanks to Neves and Bettella as well as Boskovic maintained an incredible goal difference.

Qualifying for the Champions League in 2025/26 will now be ourselves, Milan, Juventus and Inter. For the Europa League, Roma, Udinese and Napoli - who made an outstanding comeback given their early season positioning - have all taken their spots.

At the bottom of the table, it remains that only one of the teams promoted from Serie B last season - Benevento Calcio - will stay in the top-flight for a second season as both Parma and Perugia join SPAL 2013 for the 2025/26 Serie B campaign.

With no remaining fixtures, we take a look at the seasonal stats of our players:

In the goalkeeping department, despite having both Nikola Boskovic and Stefano Gori who signed from Pisa Calcio at the beginning of this season, I only used Boskovic in all competitions. After signing from my old club AC Oulu for just €1.8M, Boskovic is now rated at €33M, but obviously I would push for a much higher fee if anybody came in with an offer.

In the defence, this season we used nine different defenders across the back four. Davide Bettella, who signed this season for his Atalanta release clause of €14M was the most present of the defenders as he appeared in a total of 55 times in all competitions. He played mostly alongside Amadeu Neves, who was bought in January 2024 to repair a weak inherited defence alongside Cas Maatman. Nicoló Armini and Cas Maatman were the only other two centre-backs out of the defenders list. Armini will be returning back to his parent club Bayern Munich this summer as his loan spell has ended here after 30 appearances (mostly sub appearances). Maatman still has two more years on his current contract after signing for €16.25M from PSV in January 2024, but his lack of appearances make him vulnerable for replacement in the future.

On the left side of the defence, Lewis Gibson turned out to be an absolute steal from Everton last summer. Signing for only €4.2M, it is unbelievable that no other English side would have wanted to snatch up such a talented English player at that price. Despite his dominance in the starting eleven, our very own academy graduate Vanni Vezzosi was also key this season at times. On the right side, Leonardo Venturelli dominated the right-back position throughout, with Daniel Rietveld and Danilo Bologna only making a spatter of appearances in comparison.

Moving on into midfield and it is clear to see that Yannick Carrasco’s talent has not faded at all despite him turning 32 in September. He became our second-highest goalscorer this season with 19 goals in all competitions behind Davide Merola. After signing on a free transfer in 2023, he is not valued at €35M despite his age. Following up Carrasco is Rostislav Hora. Hora joined us for €2.5M from AC Oulu and has maintained his classy performances despite being just 18 years old. He is now valued at €47M but it will take possibly a nine-figure sum to take him off our hands at this rate. Tom Mrmic also starred significantly following his arrival from Cologne for just €3.7M. Mattias Svanberg, Theo and our 16-year-old academy player Massimiliano Scanu all appeared intermittently throughout this season.

Andy Frankel on the right-wing perhaps did not live so much up to his price-tag as I had hoped, however, he is still very young and still developing at a good rate. Mamadou Kanté often proved to be a very effective substitute for an inefficient matchday Frankel.

Paolo Filpo on the left-wing also brought great back-up for the all-firing Carrasco. Wilson Gutiérrez also had a fantastic season as the team’s number 10.

Moving finally onto forwards, Davide Merola built further on his 2023/24 exploits with an incredible season in all competitions. Signing for €2.4M from Inter in January 2024, Merola’s goalscoring record for Fiorentina now stands at 46 goals in 73 appearances in all competitions. This season, he was pipped to the Serie A top scorer award by one goal as he firmly stamped himself as one of the division’s best. At the other end of the spectrum is perhaps one of the most disappointing signings of my career with Alberto Cerri. After joining in the backlight of outstanding and consistent scoring form at Bologna in Serie B for €7M, Cerri failed to score a single Serie A goal this season. With 21 appearances to his name, the 6’4” striker only managed to score two goals. Riccardo Borgarello was our third-choice striker and never made one start throughout this season. He finished 2024/25 with one goal in ten substitute appearances.

Turning to international football with Finland’s quest for the nation’s first ever World Cup qualification, Germany suffered even more despite not even being present in this round of fixtures.

Following Macedonia’s draw and victory over Belarus this month, Germany have been left at the bottom of Group 8, nine points adrift of the top two in both ourselves and Norway.

In our fixtures against Norway, both were tales of late winners. In the first match, Joel Pohjanpalo netted the winner in the 94th minute of the game to win 3-2 in Norway, whereas in Finland it was Svendsen who scored late-on in the 93rd minute to give Norway a 3-2 victory in Finland!

This round of fixtures leaves Norway at the top of the group by goal difference, having conceded two goals less than us. We are level on points with Norway in 2nd place. Macedonia currently hold a 1-1-1 record and sit on four points in 3rd place. The most stunning photo that is circling worldwide, though, is Germany laying at the bottom of the group on zero points, with even Belarus ahead by one point. It certainly asks questions of if Germany will fail to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in the nation’s long and successful history.

Scott: I knew the fans missed her x
Justice: We shall have to see where it leads once again, certainly opening up to a turning point though you may think?
LFCFan: The perfect day. Even the sun was out.
Oaky: Thank you so much for your very kind comment, it really means a lot to hear people have been paying attention all this time!
To answer your question about leagues: I loaded up all the Scandinavian leagues (Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Sweden) to their lowest possible divisions (I didn't use downloadable playable leagues) so I could pick the best players who had a suitable reputation to join. After that, it was mainly all the big league from all over Europe.
Now I'm in Italy, I only have the Scandinavian leagues set up to their top division and have removed Iceland completely, but kept all the big European leagues.
An excellent season which continues to highlight the managerial excellence of Aapo Virtanen - who far surpasses that of any other Finnish manager, at least for now ;). His trophy cabinet will be bursting at this point.

On the international front it continues to be an absolute scene of carnage for entertainment. Norway seem to be tricky customers and extracted revenge on yourselves perfectly, very much a carbon-copy. Hopefully the form can continue despite this recent loss and you can secure your place at the next World Cup.
A brilliant first full season in Italy for Aapo and a platform i am certain he will build upon! In terms of Internationals, a brilliant start only losing the once so far, hopefully the side can continue that and qualify. Interesting to see Germany sitting at the bottom of the pile!

Thursday, 12th June 2025
Dubai, UAE

After the season in Italy closed off and the summer holidays began with no international commitments such as a World Cup or a European Championship, me and Leena decided to book two weeks in Dubai. We were a week into our trip and we decided to go to the Marriott Harbour Hotel restaurant as it was recommended to us by our exclusive chauffeur service that I had paid for on arrival.

“I know we agreed not to speak much about the past year and a bit when I first came to Italy to see you, but I just wanted to say that that time was such a lonely and horrible time for me in Finland. I moved out of Oulu in an attempt to sort of forget about you as I thought it would be healthy to get out of a place that knows us two as a couple so much,” Leena said while holding my hand and taking a sip of her champagne. “I moved to Helsinki in January and I thought it would have been a new start for me, but it was even worse. I didn’t know anybody, it was the capital and just so bustly all the time. There was never an opportunity to make friends with anybody or even meet someone new - not that I was even over you at any point.”

I smiled at her before taking a second to glance out at the beautiful view of the city sitting right beside us. We had promised that the time that we weren’t together when I left Finland wouldn’t be discussed as we both considered it as a sad time for us, knowing full well how much we missed each other. I had a few flings in Florence whilst I was gone and I was sure that Leena would have done the same in Helsinki but we were simply hiding it from each other to disguise any potential awkwardness. Not that it was a bad thing, considering that we weren’t even together during those times.

“It’s OK to talk about it now, my love.” I said to her confidently as my back straightened up. “It was a sad time for me too. I know it’s easy to get caught up in the joys that my achievements brought but without celebrating those personal successes with someone so integral to my life it wasn’t the same as it was in Oulu.

“That was why that time when we had the bus tour the weekend after winning the league and I caught sight of you for that split second it was more joyous than anything I’d done in Italy or even managing the national team last year in Germany. That night was fantastic and by far the most comforting I had ever had in my time spent in Italy.” I said as I looked at her beaming smile plastered across her delightful face.

As I finished saying my piece about the past year in Italy, I looked past Leena to see the waiter coming towards us with his gleaming metal tray. We had just finished one of the most beautiful meals that I have ever had in my life. I had a steak meanwhile Leena chose pasta as her main course - she claimed that they do it better over in Dubai than they do back in its homeland!

The waiter was carrying a bottle of very expensive champagne - the sort you would pay thousands of euros for in this particular place. We hadn’t ordered a bottle of champagne so I assumed that he was going to a different table that was behind me. However, the young gentleman carrying the tray with the bottle with frosted champagne glasses stopped at our table.

“No, no, sir,” I smiled politely at the man, who looked like he was in his early twenties at most. “We have not ordered another bottle of champagne, thank you. If it’s OK, though, could I pay for this outstanding meal that we have just had?”

He looked confused at first with my assertion, but quickly regathered the process of what was happening. “No, Mr. Virtanen,” he said, smirking. “The owner of the restaurant has told me he will be paying your bill tonight and has additionally sent this bottle of Dom Perignon as a gift to you and your partner.”

Me and Leena looked at each other, puzzled. “Sorry, we have been sent a bottle of Dom Perignon and have had our meals paid for? By the manager?”

“No, not by the manager, sir,” Rashid said, as I clocked his nametag on his shirt. “The owner of the restaurant. Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan owns this hotel. He is also the owner of Manchester City Football Club. I’m sure a man of your background is aware of who it is that I mean.

“I would be as surprised as you, sir. Al Nahyan never sends gifts to his customers. And we have had David Beckham in here before!” he laughed to himself before he awkwardly looked over his shoulder towards the front desk.

“Oh,” I let silence hang in the air before I turned to Leena smiling. “Might as well have another drink if it’s not on us!”

Despite being happy with the service and the particular pleasantries, I was still wondering why the owner of Manchester City Football Club had given exclusive treatment to us, particularly in the light of Carlo Ancelotti leaving Manchester City just last week.

Scott: I tell you, Virtanen would make millions if he sold everything he’s ever won at this point ;) P.S. Don’t even dare try imply that he will surpass Virtanen as the best Finnish manager ever.
Seb: It was an incredible first full season in charge, achieved on a relatively shoestring budget in comparison to Milan, Juventus and even Inter! Germany being bottom is certainly a shock but I wouldn’t doubt them to make a comeback with eight of their games remaining.
Manchester City definitely have Virtanen in mind for Ancelotti's replacement. Subtle gifts that aren't so subtle... love it.

I'm glad to see Leena open up about her feelings, too. Her and Aapo make a lovely couple.
Should have ordered one of everything on the menu after that revelation.
Manchester City sending gifts over to potential suitors! Well I never, would never have them down as a team who’d bribe their way to the top!
Thanks for your answer Jack :)
Congratulations to Aapo for winning the league with Fiorentina and also once again some interesting news coming up in the story, that made me excited for the next update(-s).
Keep it up!

Sunday, 14th June 2025

“I want to say that I am very thankful for providing me with this opportunity, Mr. Soriano, Mr. Begiristain, it really is an unbelievable offer.” I said.

It was a day before me and Leena were supposed to head back to Florence from Dubai and Sheikh Mansour had invited me to a meeting in his Marriott Hotel conference room. Both Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain - Manchester City’s managing director and director of football respectively - were leading the discussions.

I knew from as soon as the waiter told me that Sheikh Mansour had paid for mine and Leena’s meal at his hotel that there was an ulterior motive behind his generosity. He wanted me to become Manchester City’s manager following Carlo Ancelotti’s departure to Arsenal just a fortnight ago.

“We and everyone with the club believe that you are our man. We usually go with proven candidates who have done it at the highest level, we won’t lie about that. All you need to look at is our previous managers: Ancelotti, Emery, Guardiola. All of them had a European trophy to back them up prior to joining our club. You are different - you haven’t won one of them, but achieving a semi-final Champions League finish with the state of that sub-standard squad you have at Fiorentina? To us, that is what makes a manager.” Begiristain said to me.

“It was a great feeling to reach that far, for sure. To go from Finland to going that far in the Champions League just felt surreal, not to mention the Serie A title and the treble in the season just gone by.” I replied.

“The only minor concern we have about appointing you,” Soriano began, glancing over to Begiristain. “You proved yourself on a low budget at Oulu and achieved unbelievable success over there. You proved yourself on a medium budget, and also proved that you were shrewd in your signings following the big sale of Emanuel Vignato and replaced him sufficiently. However, you have never had the pressure of making the right signings on a big budget like we are ready to offer you.”

“Absolutely,” Begiristain butted in with agreement with the previous point made by Soriano. “We know that tactically you are one of the best in the world. You can get the best out of the most average of players, but a problem that even the best managers encounter is getting the best out of the best players.”

“I know, we saw it years ago when José Mourinho could never get the best out of Paul Pogba over at United all them years ago,” I said in response, trying to defend my ability in this particular area. “Big players like to dominate their managers. It reminds me of how Alex Ferguson spoke to Eric Cantona following the kung-fu kick years ago. Ferguson knowing full well how talented Cantona was, he told off all of his other players, but merely told Cantona that ‘he can’t go around doing things like that’. After kicking a fan in the face, to me, you have got to give the best players the most freedom, both on and off the pitch - that is my philosophy on dealing with big personalities.”

Begiristain and Soriano looked at each other and curled their mouths as well as pouted in a look of acknowledgement. They turned back to me and Begiristain opened up his file and searched through looking for a single piece of paper.

“Here we are,” he said, passing the sheet for second review to Soriano. The Spanish board member placed the paper on the table and slid it across to me. “We are talking that much money, Aapo. We won’t lie, we really do like you and you have confirmed our approach towards you as the leading candidate. We did tonnes of research into you and your past, your background - just like we do with every other candidate for such a high-profile job. One-hundred and eight-five thousand pounds per week.”

I re-read the sheet, looking at the amount of numbers, not fully comprehending how much was on offer here from Manchester City. “But… But this is unbelievable-”

“We know, to any man that is a huge sum of money. Over a fifty-two week period, that is just under ten million pounds per annum, obviously taxable, but still,” Soriano confirmed the numbers. “One condition, though. You resign as Finland manager next summer after the 2026 World Cup and you fully focus on your club role over in Manchester.”

I knew there would be some condition to me joining the club, especially with it being such a large player on the international stage after winning the Champions League last season. “That’s certainly something I will consider, however, I cannot give you a straight answer yet. There are a few formalities that must be dealt with before signing any document.”

“OK,” Txiki Begiristain said. “We understand that this is a big decision for you and those around you on a business and personal level. We will send Alberto Galassi - another one of our directors - to Florence whenever you contact us. He is Italian himself and he will be able to deal with the Fiorentina side of the deal, as well as confirm what you plan to do.”

Begiristain and Soriano began picking up their files and briefcases full of business information. “We don’t mean to pressure our potential candidates, but we need an answer by the end of next week. We will see you soon, Mr. Virtanen.”

Scott: It’s just the way business is nowadays, if you can afford to give luxury to those you wish to do business with then it is easily accessible. I do enjoy writing about Aapo and Leena’s relationship, too.
Justice: I mean speaking as someone who is skint in real life, I would do so. However, Aapo’s €63,000 per week deal at Fiorentina means he doesn’t constantly have to snag cheap gifts.
LFCFan: A lot of unfair play going on in football as I’m sure we are all aware of ;)
Oaky: Thank you man! It was a wonderful campaign this season capped off with an incredible treble. Now onto the future, whatever that may hold...
Aapo knows how to present himself, that's for sure. The opportunity that presents itself with City is obvious - a huge chance to gain continental success, in which is less possible with Fiorentina, with the added bonus of a huge salary increase. However, the sacrifice of managing the Finnish national team may be one he is not willing to make, just yet, which would automatically rule Virtanen out of the running. I can imagine this is an immensely difficult decision to make, could Leena perhaps aid his decision?
Aapo to be managing Txiki-Taka football soon enough, it seems! WELCOME TO MANCHESTER, AAPO VIRTANEN!

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