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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

Bird of Paradise: represents joyfulness and paradise, as well as anticipation and excitement.
“I’m not sure, Aapo,” Leena fell back onto the sofa. “I know it’s a lot of money, but it always seems like whenever I come into your life that you begin to move on. I just feel like I’m disrupting you wherever I’m involved.”
As soon as we got back to Florence and settled back into my villa I knew that it was time to raise the issue of me moving to Manchester to Leena. I informed her of all the details surrounding my meeting with Begiristain and Soriano and showed her the copy of the contract that they had offered me. Leena had a degree from the University of Helsinki in law so she had seen many contracts in her time studying.

“I discussed you in the meeting, Leena,” I said, clasping my hands together. “One of the directors is well in-touch with many different law firms and a degree like yours means you will find a job placement of your own within Manchester. We both have a very good grasp of the English language as does everyone in Scandinavia, it’s not like when I moved into the unknown with Italy when I didn’t know any of the language.”

Leena sighed and clutched her mug of Earl Grey tea - her favourite. “It’s an unbelievable opportunity, I’m not denying that, Aapo. I just feel like I’ve already settled here. You are right about potentially feeling more at home in somewhere like Manchester as from my own experience, Britain is a lot more like Finland than Florence will ever be.

“The only thing is that yes, it is a hell of a pay rise from €65,000 per week to £185,000 per week, but the very fact that you are even on your current amount of money is astounding.”

I sat down at the table where my laptop was. I wasn’t searching for anything, it was just so that I could feel more comfortable sitting down rather than pacing up and down every two seconds at everything that Leena was saying.

Leena continued what she was saying. “I don’t want to stop you and I certainly don’t want to be alone again, so no matter what decision you come to I will follow you through with it because I love you. I’m just tired of upending my life to suit your desires and your own career without considering how it might impact my own life.”

“What do you mean? I have considered your life, that’s why we are right here, right now discussing with each other the prospect of moving to England!” I straightened my back in shock that Leena didn’t seem to understand that we were discussing both of our futures here. “The thing is, Manchester City - they are the richest football club in the world. No matter who comes in to offer me a job, they won’t be able to match Manchester City’s offer so long as they want me to remain as the club manager.”

Leena dipped her head down, staring into her mug of swirling tea. I could tell when she was paying attention and thinking strongly about something and she was doing exactly that. She realised that once again I was on the move and I would have to be strongly persuaded to stay in Florence. She also realised that I was very stubborn, how I walked out of Oulu after the board not agreeing to expand the stadium, moving to Fiorentina almost suddenly and now wanting to move to Manchester.

“Aapo, we’re both not getting any younger. If you feel like you have to move to Manchester because it will be a better quality of life for us as a couple, on top of all the other benefits that this could bring then I am not going to stand in your way,” Leena said, looking me deep in the eyes. A tear began to drip down her left cheek, she wiped it away suddenly but I still noticed it with the additional help of knowing what Leena looks like when she gets emotional.

“Hey,” I said softly, getting up off my seat at the table to put my arm around her on the sofa. “What’s up, darling?”

Leena’s tears started streaming down her face now, and I was starting to get very concerned. However, as I tightened my grip around her she began giggling. I looked at her in a manner of confusion. “What’s up, Leena?” I asked again.

“Aapo,” she said with a huge grin on her face, tears still running down her face. She moved her eyes away from mine and looked down at her stomach. “If we are going to move to Manchester in the coming weeks then we better start thinking of English names!”

I realised that Leena was not upset, instead she was crying out of happiness although I still did not understand why. “What do you mean?” I asked, laughing along with her too.

“You’re going to be a dad, Aapo,” Leena said, turning her attention back onto me while her hands rested on her stomach. “I’m pregnant!”

A sea of emotions ran through me as soon as she finished speaking. I didn’t know how I was supposed to feel. I know my dad always told me when I was in my teens: ”You don’t know what love is until you are holding your own human life in your hands.”

I was going to be a father. And I was going to be the best father in the entire world - I’d make sure of it.

Scott: Well, nothing has come to its conclusion just yet, but Leena has certainly had her input on the situation.
Justice: Might photoshop Aapo onto the huge 'Welcome to Manchester' poster that Carlos Tevez starred on, you never know?
Some massive changes coming in Aapo’s life! A potential new job in a new country and of course becoming a dad! It will be interesting to see what impact this will have on Aapo’s decision.
Bloody hell. Great update and a wonderful insight into the pair's discussion regarding the potential move. You have me engaged with Leena - understanding her emotions in every situation, you have it nailed to a tee. Aapo will make a great father!
Aapo's greatest achievement is on the horizon. Great update.

Manchester City have today announced that Aapo Virtanen will be the man who will succeed Carlo Ancelotti at the Etihad Stadium after agreeing a two-year contract with the club.

City's Director of Football Txiki Begiristain along with the Managing Director Ferran Soriano went to go meet the Fiorentina manager when he was in Dubai for his summer holiday following a treble-winning season in Italy, lifting the Suppercoppa, Coppa Italia and Serie A trophies in the 2024/25 campaign, as well as a semi-final finish in the Champions League to Tottenham Hotspur who Manchester City would later go on to win the Champions League Final against last season.

Carlo Ancelotti left Manchester after two years at the helm, winning a Community Shield, two consecutive Premier League titles and finally the club's second Champions League trophy. The 66-year-old Italian is set to finish his career at City's Premier League rivals Arsenal to continue his 33-year career as a manager.

As for Aapo Virtanen, the 38-year-old Finnish manager is relatively early on in his career. His management career came after playing at an amateur level in Finland when he initially became an interim manager at AC Oulu in his native Finland. After three years as a youth coach there, he won the Finnish second division - Ykkonen - in his first season in senior football management.

From there, Virtanen went from strength-to-strength at AC Oulu. After avoiding relegation in his first season in the Finnish top-flight, the Veikkausliiga, with a 9th placed finish in 2019 season, he won his first Veikkausliiga title in the corresponding season in 2020. With four consecutive league titles to his name as well as three domestic cups and a qualification into the Champions League Last 16 in 2023, Virtanen left his role as Oulu manager to take the helm at Fiorentina in Serie A.

With Fiorentina down in 13th at the time of Virtanen's arrival in the city in late December 2023, he managed to lead La Viola into Champions League qualification for the 2024/25 season as well as winning the Coppa Italia the same season.

Purchasing Internazionale's Davide Merola for €2.2M in January 2024, the Italian forward spearheaded Fiorentina's treble-winning campaign, scoring 30 goals in all competitions as Virtanen won the club's first Scudetto since 1969. This was accompanied by an unbelievable run in the Champions League as Virtanen beat the likes of Valencia, Barcelona and Atlético Madrid on their route to an unexpected Champions League Semi-Final against Tottenham Hotspur.

Additionally, just one month before his arrival in Florence, Virtanen took over the Finland national side and led them to a historic first-ever major international tournament in the 2024 European Championships in Germany. Using an unconventional defensive 5-1-3-1 formation throughout, Virtanen led his home country to the EURO 2024 Final, defeating Czechia, Croatia and Spain before a late Antoine Griezmann goal won the competition for France.

As part of agreeing to join Manchester City, Virtanen has committed to resigning from the Finland national team after the 2026 World Cup should they qualify this year, with Germany flopping in Group 8 of their qualification group.

Manchester City's Director of Football, Txiki Begiristain was delighted to finalise Virtanen's appointment:
"Success has followed Aapo Virtanen throughout his entire career. Here in Manchester, he has all the necessary tools for success with some of the greatest football players on the planet as well as the world-class facilities at hand. We believe that Virtanen can continue this club's success domestically and even more so continentally in the Champions League.

Virtanen will have access to unbelievable resources at Manchester City, with the club possessing great talents such as FIFA Ballon d'Or winner Kylian Mbappé and the highly-rated Italian centre-back Andrea Marcato.

The club have won six out of the eight Premier League titles possible since 2018 but find themselves in constant contention with the main challengers Liverpool, who have been managed by Diego Simeone for five years.

Virtanen is said to be delighted with his first ever move into English football and is 'keen to get started' in all competitions.

LFCFan: It's sure exciting to see how he can handle all of this pressure!
Scott: Leena is a fantastic character to write about and I am grateful to have introduced her into this story. She reminds me of so many people that I have met in my personal life and to be able to put it all into one person is a great feeling.
SonOfAnarchy: I'm getting all fuzzy just thinking about it :P
Congrats on the new job, with the funds and players at your disposal, i'm sure more success will follow.
Manchester City have appointed one of the hottest properties in world-football right now. They can't be blamed for doing all they could to tempt Virtanen to Manchester. It's a huge loss for Fiorentina and I have no doubts in my mind that Aapo's successor will be a huge downgrade on his quality, in every sense of the word. I'm intrigued to see how he transitions into his new role, with a lot more pressure to succeed that before. Could this prove to be a step too far? The budget at his disposal, as well as the current crop of players, will be astonishing good - but yet, could he still entrust the likes of Merola to come with him from Florence and aid his success?
Congratulations on the new challenges both on and off the pitch!
It will be interesting to see who Aapo will sign and if there are any players following him from Florence :)
Aapo has sold his soul.

A great appointment by City. Aapo brings with him a lot of experience at different levels of the game. With City’s resources I can only imagine how far Aapo can take them. As the others said I am interested if anybody follows Aapo to Manchester especially those who played under him at Oulu.
If you don't name your child after Kalle.... there will be trouble!

Following Virtanen's to Manchester City as his assistant manager for the third consecutive time is Thomas Jorgensen, who Virtanen has relied on as his right-hand man for three years now. We take a look into this little-known, yet essential part of Virtanen's managerial make-up.

With Fiorentina receiving £6.25 million from compensation of Virtanen alone, the former Rangers midfielder Bajram Fetai, Polish legend Jakub Blaszczykowski both joined as a first-team coach and youth team manager from Fiorentina. However, despite these two names being more familiar with the footballing world, it is actually a relatively unknown Norwegian 37-year-old that has been the most significant arrival alongside Virtanen at the Etihad Stadium.

Thomas Jorgensen retired from his playing career aged 33 years old after his contract at the Norwegian third division side Drobak-Frogn expired in December 2021. Eight months after his playing retirement, he trained for his UEFA B National Coaching License as he desired to fulfil his ambition of management within his home nation of Norway. However, it was in Finland with Veikkausliiga champions AC Oulu that Jorgensen stepped into his first non-playing role of his career.

With Jake Rowe moving to Blackburn Rovers, leaving his post as the AC Oulu assistant manager to Aapo Virtanen vacant, Virtanen approached the former Fredrikstad FK midfielder to be his new sidekick in achieving consecutive titles with Oulu.

When Jouko Abdul-Rahim retired as the AC Oulu 2 manager, rather than appointing a new manager for the competitive reserve side, Virtanen entrusted Jorgensen with the role of leading his own team which at this point was packed full of young talent from Finland and abroad.

His role in managing some of Oulu's most promising youngsters led to great benefits for the club, especially in the case of developing the like of Michel Cuenot. The French goalkeeper - signed on a free transfer from FC Lyon in 2021 - never played a single first-team fixture for Oulu, yet in 2023 he was sold to SL Benfica for a huge fee of €6.5 million thanks to the keen attention that Jorgensen paid to the youngster. In aiding his development, Cuenot has now played 20 first-team games for the Portuguese giants.

After Virtanen's fall-out with the board at Oulu in December 2023 which led to his move to Fiorentina, Jorgensen and Bajram Fetai were the only two staff that followed him to Italy. At Fiorentina, Jorgensen gained his FIFA Continental A License. Once again, the Fiorentina Under-20s manager Emiliano Bigica was sacked upon Virtanen's arrival and Jorgensen was placed in charge of the youth side.

With a much broader domestic base in terms of players to deal with, Jorgensen saw great success with the Fiorentina U20 side as he won the 2024/25 U20 Division 1 title, finishing six points ahead of the runners-up Juventus U20s and then beating Juventus in the Division 1 Final. Continentally, Jorgensen also saw success with the youth team, finishing 1st place in the UEFA Youth League, eventually being knocked out in the UEFA Youth League Quarter-Finals by Barcelona's reputable La Masia academy products.

His involvement doesn't just stay at youth level however, Jorgensen has been at the side of Virtanen on every first-team fixture since his arrival and has consistently handled most of Virtanen's press conferences.

Virtanen was once quoted upon his arrival alongside Jorgensen in Florence: "I’m not equipped to manage successfully without Thomas Jorgensen. I am the shop window and he is the goods in the back."

On a personal level it is said that they are extremely close and have even been said to often finish each other's sentences, so much their relationship has grown in the past three years together.

For certain, with a much better staff structure in place at Manchester City, it will be interesting to see how far Jorgensen's power extends to as neither of City's youth managers - Paul Harsley (U23s) and Gareth Taylor (U18s) - have yet had their contracts severed following the first few days of Virtanen's leadership in the blue side of Manchester. There is one thing for certain, though: Wherever the pair go, success has followed.

SonOfAnarchy: It's certainly a huge rise in resources, that's for sure!
Scott: For sure, Virtanen has left a trail of trophies at every season he has been party to. The foundations have been laid at Fiorentina for a more successful future, whether Virtanen delves into getting some of his old boys back, we'll have to find out!
Oaky: Thank you mate! There are definitely some serious talents currently over at Fiorentina that will surely be worth looking at by the new scouting team I have here at Man City.
TheLFCFan: I knew the Scousers would be a little bit salty ;) The resources at City are for all to see, it is unchartered territory for Virtanen though, who has had to make his own revenue before and has not been given such large quantities to spend.
Justice: Inferior names an all that...
It comes as no surprise that Jorgensen joins Virtanen at Manchester City, given their history together. He proves to be an influential part to Virtanen's backroom staff and a close ally, too. Having strong relationships like this is essential in success, and I think this has allowed for the underlying foundations of Virtanen's success to be formed. You can't succeed without a safe and secure backroom staff, working tirelessly behind you. Given Virtanen is slowly assembling his formula in Manchester, I look forward to see the playing-staff that he opts to recruit.

As the make-up brush was being flicked vertically up and down my cheeks, my Manchester City personal assistant, Maria Berger was stood behind me, informing of the press conference timings. I had never received such luxury treatment as a manager that I actually had two make-up artists working on my face minutes before I was to face the English press who I had been told were brutal in their treatment, especially when it came to foreign imports at such a high level.

"Errr, The Sun, basically a set of dickheads who are willing to tear anybody foreign or have an ounce of controversy about them down to their knees. Good thing about them is that if they do a hit job on you, it will only be the uneducated scumbags who actually read the paper that will hear the news," Berger was running me through the different news outlets that would be present in the upcoming press conference and particularly took a swipe at The Sun who I knew previously have an infamous reputation with the British public, even if it had the best sales figures for print media.

"Nice one, Maria," I said as I shooed off the two make-up artists who were getting far too close to my face. "I've got to say - and I'm not saying this because I feel out of my depth - but this treatment I'm receiving in the club is absolutely phenomenal."

"Well, there's a lot of money poured into this, might as well make the most of it!" She smiled as she started heading towards the door leading the corridor. "Right, if you're done in here I think we'll head on out there."

I stood up, brushed down my tracksuit for any splodges of make-up that could potentially be spotted by the cameras and therefore paint me as 'too feminine' to lead a team of egotistical, overpaid footballers.

The club's press officer, Curtis Vaughan became my leader as Maria passed me onto him at the door which opened up to the media zone. "Ready?" He asked, before pulling the door open to a dimly lit room with a high gradient of desks where the journalists sat. The room soon lit up with the amount of camera flashes going off from photographers, I ducked my head down so that I wasn't blinded by the lights and headed over to my seat in the center of the room.

"Alright, thank you guys," Vaughan started. "Obviously, we're here to introduce our new first-team manager Aapo Virtanen who we are delighted to have here on a two-year contract. If Aapo's ready, we might as well get underway!"

The camera flashes still persisted and it was proving difficult to look up to the bay of journalists in front of me as a result. Vaughan pointed over to his first journalist to ask the first question of the one-hour conference.

"Welcome Mr. Virtanen, David Benjamin, CityTV. How do you feel to be sat here in front of that badge behind you today?"

This was something I hadn’t really thought about taking the job here. I had been too busy with contracts, looking over the squad and all the other modern trappings of football management to even think about how I felt making the move here.

“It’s been a hectic few days,” I said, pondering slightly. “With moving everything over from Italy and saying goodbye to everyone in Florence, it was certainly a sad moment. However, I knew as soon as I got onto the plane to Manchester and flying across the Channel, I looked over to my partner and we just grinned at each other. The city has welcomed us like no other place with the exception of the unmentionable red side, of course.”

A few chuckles murmured around the room as Vaughan looked over to me to check if I had finished my answer. “Yes, you sir.” He said pointing to one of the journalists in the second row.

“Andrew Owen, The Sun. Don’t you think you could appear to be disloyal to your clubs after walking out of Fiorentina and even Oulu to some extent so suddenly?”

I was taken aback by this question as I never believed for one second that I had been disloyal to any of my former teams, then I realised it was The Sun asking me the question - a hit question asked to trigger headlines. “No, not at all.

“I spent six wonderful years leading AC Oulu in Finland and around Europe. In this modern age of football and the ‘sacking culture’ around different clubs, I showed tremendous loyalty to Oulu and I was only forced out once a demand that I had been requesting for years - redevelopment of the crumbling stadium - was rejected once more. It was sad having to leave after spending so long there, but it had to be done and I would have to say that if I hadn’t walked when I did, you wouldn’t be interviewing me here today. With regards to Fiorentina, I would have stayed but once Manchester City come knocking, you answer that call and you accept any offer.”

The press conference rumbled on for the next half-hour with the same old new job questions popping up everywhere, talking tactics, achievements, transfers and the sort. I hadn’t met any of the Manchester City players yet as they were returning from their holiday in eleven days time, which made questions about the squad’s personality difficult to answer.

Either way, I had officially arrived in Manchester. I was the new Manchester City manager, and it is here that I will conquer the world.

Scott: A lot of managers have their favourite personalities, if it’s not personalities then it is particular talents to go alongside them and they become a pairing. Jorgensen has both of those qualities arguably. I will certainly be looking around for new backroom arrivals, too.
A great response from Virtanen regarding his former clubs. The Sun will do anything to create a headline and I think his response will make it difficult for them to do so, without them having to lie, of course. He has shown loyalty to his former clubs and he's correct in saying that when an opportunity arises like Manchester City, a club that have the foundations in place to really succeed, it's difficult to ignore.
I like Maria already! Good to see Aapo is starting to get into the swing of things at City, looking forward to his thoughts on the squad!

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