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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
Out with the old and in with the new. Some great Handywerk on display here.

Aapo Virtanen’s first-ever Manchester Derby ended 6-3 in favour of his Manchester City side as Massimiliano Allegri stormed out of the post-match press conference.

Virtanen’s start as the new manager of Manchester City has been nothing short of exceptional in his first two fixtures in the Premier League following a devastating penalty shootout loss in the Community Shield to Arsenal. A 4-0 win against Southampton and a 2-0 win against newly promoted Leeds United has seen City lead the division from the first minute of the new season.

This form continued heading into the third fixture of the season and is also the most highly-anticipated match-up in the diaries of both sets of fans involved.

In a packed-out Etihad Stadium, it took only eight minutes for City to get on the scoresheet with Leroy Sané bagging the first goal of the game, sending the City crowd into raptures. Just three minutes later it was Leon Bailey’s time to double his team’s lead with a header from a Leroy Sané cross.

Manchester City conceded their first goal of their Premier League season just three minutes after taking a two-goal lead through Jadon Sancho, with the English winger later equalising for the Red Devils in the 32nd minute, making it 2-2 going into the half-time break.

However, on the return to the field two minutes after the second half begun, Kylian Mbappé put Manchester City back in the lead with a volley fired into the top right-hand corner. As the game reached the hour mark, City were three goals ahead as Andrea Marcato and Mauro Icardi pretty much put the derby beyond all doubt in favour of the Sky Blues.

Only Ousmané Dembélé could score a consolation goal in the 92nd minute, which even then was cancelled out just two minutes later as Leon Bailey netted his brace in the 94th minute to finish the game off with a 6-3 win.

“Well! Welcome to Manchester to me!” Aapo Virtanen chuckled in his post-match interview with Sky Sports. “I am so proud of my team and especially happy for the fans of this club, who will no doubt be waking up earlier than ever on Monday morning to get bragging rights against their red supporting colleagues.”

Meanwhile on the losing side, Massimiliano Allegri stormed out of his interview in a rage following questions on if his squad that he has assembled over the past two years is fit to win games like the Manchester Derby due to its lack of domestic players.

Manchester City have now registered three straight wins out of three in the first month on the 2025/26 Premier League campaign in what has been a superb beginning to Aapo Virtanen’s reign.

LFCFan: I was certainly surprised to see that Huddersfield of all teams come in with the biggest offer for Stones! The fact is both Stones and Varane are getting on in age and were both unhappy, so they had to go!
Scott: The squad is obviously well-built after decades of big-spending, you are going to get lots of quality no matter what. We strengthened in the places we needed to in the first-team and didn’t make unnecessary vanity signings.
Justice: Expected a better pun for a name like Handwerker this time if I’m honest.
Not a bad way to introduce yourself to the Premier League! A win over Man Utd always gets the fans on your side, particularly in a derby game. However, I'd imagine the expectations have been raised now too!
After an initial disappointing result to begin Virtanen's tenure in Manchester, the league form has been strong early-on and a fantastic result like this against rivals Manchester United will certainly add to that. I suspect it won't be long until Aapo will be celebrating with the Premier League title, if results like this can continue.

Despite a first game hiccup in the Community Shield, I was able to secure my first trophy as the Manchester City manager in the form of the UEFA Super Cup against Juventus following both clubs’ European successes last season. We have stormed the league so far with seven wins out of a possible eight and lead the table at the end of my first two competitive months.

We came just one penalty away from winning my first piece of silverware in the first game in August as Arsenal lifted the Community Shield before the Premier League campaign started. This did not halt our start to the league as we crushed Southampton with a 4-0 victory in our first league game thanks to a Kylian Mbappé hat-trick. This was followed by a 2-0 win against newly promoted Leeds United and a goal bonanza of a Manchester Derby as previously covered. Brentford then succumbed to a 4-0 loss to us at the Brentford Community Stadium. We did ourselves suffer our first and so far, only, league loss to Tottenham Hotspur at the Etihad in our final fixture of the month.

In our first game of September, I bagged my first trophy in the UEFA Super Cup with a 1-0 win against Juventus, the Europa League holders, albeit both squads were immensely weakened by the fact of the ongoing international break holding back the majority of first-team players. With three straight wins in the Premier League secured throughout this month against Everton, Burnley and Sheffield Wednesday. In September, we also started our Champions League campaign, beginning against Dynamo Kyiv in which we won 5-0, followed by a tie against Valencia where Mauro Icardi scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win. We hammered Sheffield United in a 7-0 win in the league cup with two hat-tricks in one game from both Mbappé and Sané.

In the league standings, we currently sit top of the pile with a two-point lead over 2nd place Tottenham Hotspur. Liverpool suffered unexpected losses against both Fulham and Brentford this month which has put last year’s runners-up into 3rd place heading into October.

With the top-six taking recognisable shape already, Huddersfield are once again doing well with their new addition from us John Stones proving a shrewd purchase. Two promoted teams in Blackburn and Brentford are also doing well as they remain outside of the bottom three.

Brighton & Hove Albion are struggling under Chris Hughton who is now into his 10th year as The Seagulls’ boss. Newcastle are also yet to win a game, relying on draws only to keep them from the foot of the table. Filling up the last of the bottom three is the newly promoted Leeds United who have performed well in contrast to their league position.

Coming up in the next two months are a couple of tough fixtures in both Chelsea and Arsenal. Other than that in the league we face no real competition if based on our recent results. We also continue our Champions League campaign with three more group games, two against Red Bull Salzburg and the other against Dynamo Kyiv, who we defeated 5-0 last time. Huddersfield Town are next up in the league cup fourth round as we play two games in a row against them.

Internationally, we only played one fixture in the most recent international break and it was against Belarus in a game we dominated and won 3-0 with goals from two of my former AC Oulu players in Aleksi Niemi and Antti Huhtamaki.

In other results, Germany finally earned their first points with wins against Macedonia and a 9-0 pummelling of Belarus. They now have a game in hand on the rest of the group and could potentially come back to hunt the top two down. Norway still lead the group but only due to scoring one more goal than us.

Justice: It was a magical game, that's for sure. Neither teams defence's were on form and it allowed for the attacking prowess of both sides to flourish, but mine more so.
Scott: The Community Shield was not an important target in the minds of the board. Nevertheless, we've secured our first trophy in the Super Cup in September. The league form, as shown in this has been exceptional besides the unfortunate and really unlucky result against Spurs, who have had problems of their own getting into gear this season themselves.
Only 17 goals for Mbappé so far this season? Rookie numbers.
A great set of results and an important triumph in the UEFA Super Cup that allows Virtanen to get his hands on his first piece of silverware in Manchester. You're setting the pace at the moment, which is ideal - in both the league and the Champions League. A victory against Belarus will go a long-way into putting the pressure on Norway who currently lead the World Cup group, through a slender margin.
A good start for Aapo at City but that’s what is expected at this point with that team. The win against United will certainly make you an early fan favourite and I am sure that will continue.

“Boss,” Kevin Leacock said, opening the door to The Sun’s editorial room. “Might’ve got something for you here.”

Leacock was one of the newspaper’s researchers into people’s private lives, from Royal Family disputes all the way to looking into innocent Middle Eastern looking men living in Birmingham. He had worked freelance for a while, working with various websites that covered mainly sports and football before being poached by the biggest-selling national newspaper in the United Kingdom one year ago.

“What is it?” Tony Gallagher asked, closing the door as he left the editorial room to speak in private with his researcher.

“There was this article from Finland that I stumbled across with Aapo Virtanen a few years ago when I was working down at HITC, I’ve been trying to find it again but it’s been privated to the public but thankfully - and don’t ask me how - I’ve managed to gain access to it,” Leacock responded, almost excitedly.

Gallagher pondered slightly, before lifting his head and a wry smile appeared on his face. “He has always seemed a bit odd with us at conferences and whatnot. What’s the contents?”

“Well, back in 2019 when he is months into his first managerial job in football at Oulu in Finland, turns out he assaulted two kids - supposedly stopping some racial attack, so it states and-”

“No,” Gallagher cut off Leacock mid-sentence. “If we use that, people will do their usual digging and finds out that he was actually being the good guy. If we want to do a hatchet job - and I do, the way treats us - then we can’t use him being anti-racist.”

Leacock sighed and replied in frustration that his editor wouldn’t hear him out. “That’s not all, though, boss. I remember a few years back he had some involvement in a currently missing persons case, some bloke called Makinen so I’ve heard.

“I did some of my own digging including police reports into this Makinen guy, turns out he was a big intra-Scandinavian gang member. They found him washed up dead at a port in Sweden, using my contacts over in Scandinavia I managed to find out that it is pretty much nailed-on that Aapo Virtanen was the last person to see this guy Makinen before he was reported missing, through like CCTV. Supposedly shows Makinen walking onto a bridge - where there’s a blind spot for cameras, but never walking off either side of the bridge on his return. Aapo? He walks onto the bridge at almost the exact same time before going back where he came. Boss, tell me that that does not sound dodgy!” Leacock was bouncing on the balls of his feet, licking his lips at the chance of moving onto some investigation work.

“It sounds tasty, I won’t lie, Kevin.” Gallagher paused for a second, gazing out of the window onto London Bridge, directly outside their offices. “You get a couple of investigators on the case, researchers or whatever. We don’t release anything yet and we certainly don’t let The Guardian or BBC get a hold on this. You make sure that this is a watertight hit against Virtanen and that you have all bases covered. I know we normally do half-measures here but it seems that what you have come across is genuine but needs more work. You do not give me anything on this case until you have studied absolutely everything.”

“Great to hear, boss, I’ll get right on it. Cheers.” Leacock said with animation.

Gallagher began to walk back into the editorial room before stopping and turning round: “Oh, and Kevin - make sure you get him, I can’t stand him.”

Justice: Yeah, he’ll be seeing me after class.
Scott: The Super Cup - as much as it was achieved by mediocre elevens on both sides - was a nice first achievement. The league is going fantastically and you’re right, every shot on goal now counts in the chase for World Cup qualification at this point!
LFCFan: It’s certainly the best side I’ve ever managed by an extremely big margin and right now we are using it to its strengths!
And we're back full circle. The world revolves around The Sun, it seems. It'll be interesting to see how this plot develops now!
Nothing that rag doesn't stop at to sell a few stories...

An absolutely stellar month in October gave way to an impressive November this year as we are close to finishing off the year within the next month. We still sit high and mighty at the top of the table going into December and January.

October was the most perfect month that any top team could ever wish for with five wins out of five fixtures in the Premier League, Champions League and the League Cup. Once again it was the front three of Leon Bailey, Leroy Sané and Kylian Mbappé all proving to be a nuisance for every single sides defence to deal with. Throughout December both Leon Bailey and Kylian Mbappé scored seven goals between them. With a 6-0 win over Huddersfield in the League Cup we also managed to progress into the Quarter-Final of the competition which will take place in December.

November began in a similar fashion to October with a two-goal lead victory against West Ham United with Icardi, Bailey and Mbappé all getting themselves on the scoresheet in a 3-1 win at a packed London Stadium. Later in the month we played Arsenal who held 2nd place for a while throughout the two months, in what looked like a point a piece for either side, the Manchester City veteran Kevin De Bruyne - who had his testimonial in preseason - bagged a late, late but glorious winner in the 96th minute to extend our lead at the top of the Premier League. Two more wins in the Champions League also bagged further qualification although the month was scuppered on the brink of perfection with a 1-1 draw with Watford in the league.

In the Premier League standings after 15 games played, we currently lead 2nd placed Liverpool by a total of seven points, although it could be reduced to six points should Arsenal win their game-in-hand. We are at the top of the goalscoring charts this season with 46 goals scored in total - 11 goals more than joint-second Liverpool and Arsenal, all while holding the second-best defensive record all accumulating to a +33 goal difference.

Moving into European contention in the past two months has been the surprise package of Southampton under Tor Ole Skullerud’s leadership. This rise from The Saints has shoved Tottenham Hotspur down into a lowly 8th place.

Newcastle managed to climb out of the relegation zone with the newly promoted Championship clubs Brentford and Leeds United tumbling further down the table with Chris Hughton’s Brighton & Hove Albion looking doomed in his 10th year at the club.

We begin December with a huge fixture against 2nd placed Liverpool in the Premier League as an opportunity to extend our lead at top even further at the Etihad Stadium. With both ourselves and Valencia easily qualifying from Group E in the Champions League in a sub-standard group, the final group game won’t mean much to either team, with Valencia not able to overtake us in the group either. We return to domestic football with the League Cup Quarter-Final against League Two outfit Bristol Rovers who have done tremendously well to reach as far as they have done. Although it hasn’t been drawn yet, we will play in the FIFA Club World Cup in December following the Bristol Rovers game which will be an opportunity to win even more silverware to carry on from the earlier Super Cup victory.

To begin the New Year, we will face Leeds United on the first day of 2026 in the league. The FA Cup 3rd Round is still waiting to be drawn so that will follow the Leeds game. January also marks the second Manchester Derby of the season as we take on Manchester United on the 10th January.

We had two international breaks over the course of October and November and the one in November marked the end of the World Cup qualifiers and in short, we won! With wins coming against Macedonia and Belarus, a draw against Germany made sure that we guarantee our place in the 2026 World Cup which is to be hosted in the USA, Canada and Mexico.

Finishing in 4th in the Second Placed Teams table, our Scandinavian partners Norway have also secured qualification to the world’s biggest sporting tournament. What comes as a huge shock in our group, though, is that Germany will miss out on the World Cup for the first time ever in their history as two losses to both us and Norway marked them out of the competition, with ourselves not losing a single fixture throughout the entire group phase.

All this means that after an incredible EURO 2024 performance in our first-ever major competition, we have now qualified for Finland’s first-ever World Cup Finals for 2026, after which I have agreed to resign as the Finland manager after a hugely successful tenure so far.

Justice: Seems that Aapo can never seem to escape his past, for sure.
Scott: Well, Virtanen’s hatred for the rag will only intensify once this all spills out!
A brilliant way to Finnish off the qualifying group. A great comeback against Germany, particularly. Pohjanpalo becoming a true hero for his country!
A great couple of months there, absolutely blistering form. It's impossible to live with a side as consistent as yourselves at the moment - reflected in the league table and the cushion you have between first and second-place. Progression in both the Carabao Cup and the Champions League is also pleasing. Really pleased to see Finland work their way into the World Cup, too. As Justice said, Pohjanpalo seems to be a national hero. He's become a cult hero on this site! Shocked by Germany's failure to qualify - even with a squad of greyed-out players. ;)
A quite incredible two months there, almost running away with the league already. Nobody loses the title if they are leading by 7 points in December that would just be absurd. :(

National side wise, Aapo doesn’t stop breaking records. The magic of the Euros rum and now qualifying for the World Cup, let’s see if he can cap off his time as the national teams head coach with one last special moment!

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