18/01/2045 -- The European giants I mean! We have survived the Champions League group stage and now we are taking part within the best sixteen clubs all over Europe! Could you believe? After the remarkable away draw against Juventus we managed to win the next match against AS Monaco at our own place with 2-0 and thereafter we collected six points out of the double leg meeting against Legia Warsaw! Which meant that we were only one point off for qualifying ourselves for the first knock-out round. And not even spoken about all the millions we received after all those victories. Our banking partner would be delighted for sure.
So, all eyes are focussed for the fifth group stage match against Juventus. A point will be enough and otherwise we are probably finishing third if Juventus is winning their last game against Legia Warsaw, which is still a very good result anyway. But after half an our we took the lead via a goal from Mike Williamson! We controlled the match afterwards and were even close for doubling the score, but then minutes before the end Juventus scored the expected equalizer after they pushed us back for fifteen minutes or so. They kept attacking to force the winner, but luckily they couldn’t and the game ended in a 1-1 draw once again. The crowd exploded after the final whistle and so do I. This is a stunning achievement for sure! We lost the final group match against Monaco away heavily (6-0 loss) but nobody does give a shit to be honest. I made use of almost my entire reserve squad because of the tight schedule by the time. I calculated a loss against them anyway. In the next round we are facing Manchester City. Most likely our run will end here, but find Spartans back between those other fifteen European giants is absolutely brilliant already!
Our European success didn’t harm our performances in the league. We played a draw a couple of times, but nothing serious. As expected we were eliminated against Aberdeen in the second round of the Scottish Cup already, although I made use of nearly all my reserve players once more because I prioritised the Champions League game against Legia directly afterwards. At the other hand we became more successful in the League Cup. We had some kind of a good draw with only home games, which sorted out perfectly. In the semi’s we faced Rangers, but we were able to win the game against them after the additional time. So we can prepare ourselves for our first major final in one of the Scottish Cup tournaments, in which we are playing against Partick Thistle. A tough opponent for sure, but under normal circumstances we should be able to win this game and so winning the first major national cup trophy with Spartans in the clubs history! Personally I have won this cup once before when at Hearts.
04/03/2045 -- After our home loss against Aberdeen because of a terrible first half (2-3), the last minute loss against Hibernian away (again 2-3) and two draws against Dundee and Inverness both away I think we can say right now the league will be done for this season. Dunfermline kept winning (which I really don’t understand, there is not even one single player I would even consider to sign for Spartans) and also Hearts is slightly disappearing at the horizon. Also Rangers has jumped over us and Celtic could equalize with us if they are winning their three matches they have to play yet. Actually we should be aware for not ending without the first three right now. The third place is still good enough for Champions League football next season (preliminary rounds) because Scotland has climbed up till the sixth place at the European coefficient list again. Although that wouldn’t be lasted very long because the next two years Scotland is losing big points…
But finishing third will be tough anyway. Hopefully we can straighten our backs a little bit more till the end of the season. At least our supposed elimination in the Champions League will help. We lost the first game against Manchester City in our own stadium heavily (1-4) and there is no chance that will be prepared in the away game at Etihad. It might be even possible I will show up with my reserve squad to fully concentrate myself for the league.
So, the brilliant first half of this season is slightly fading away right now, but not before we had to play the League Cup Final against Partick Thistle. In an entirely sold out Hampden Park we managed to win our first major trophy (although, for us it’s major!) in Spartans history! It wasn’t the best match for sure, actually it was pretty bad, but a penalty kick scored by Mike Williamson just seconds before the end of the first half granted us the victory. A stunning achievement and I’m very delighted of course! I have won this cup earlier before with Hearts so I knew the feeling already, but seeing all those players, staff members and especially the fans celebrating is just priceless! We have nine more games in front of us right now, ten if you take the return game against Manchester City into account. Finishing third will be our main target now, winning the league seems already impossible from this point on.
Note: Thanks LFC! That's right, because of our wage spendings are relatively low we are saving some big money currently. Although much of it will be lost, the board announced to build a new stadium with a capacity somewere around 27,500 seats! It was going great until now Scott. But Dunfermline kept winning as well, so there's probably not much in their for us anymore. It sure is Griffo. Although they are not as good anymore like between 2010 and 2019 it's still a very big club. I would easily replace any of my players with theirs for every possible position in the squad! You are right Zed, they are a big side for sure. If I'm correct they have even win the Champions League at some point in this career. Coming up next: introducing the Scottish national squad and the Nation League results.
20/03/2045 -- There we are. It’s time for the first Scotland episode. I’m not spending huge talks about this 'side-story' beside the main tournaments, but only this first one will be some kind of an exception because I want to introduce all the players to you. To give you an idea about the current level of the squad. Off course there will be some swapping throughout the years, but I will only mentioned it then rather then presenting every player over and over again.
Our Scottish players
So there we go, first my goalkeepers. Immediately the biggest issue by far. There are just no good goalkeepers in Scotland currently… I mean, I wouldn’t even consider one of those three guys for being my starting goalkeeper at Spartans. That says enough I think. Although I doubted a little bit about Gray to use him as my reserve goalkeeper, but at the end I chose for a Danish guy who is at least much taller. Anyway, I think a good goalkeeper is really necessary if you want to achieve something so I think we can already say right now it will be nearly impossible to achieve something at the next World Championship (if we even qualify ourselves in the first place). The next European Championships is lasting for another four years, so I really hope there will be some kind of a very talented goalkeeper by the time then. Otherwise we are doomed already I guess! There is one other goalkeeper who should be good enough for the national squad, but he’s playing at Partick Thistle currently and is performing awful. So I made him some kind of a signal he must do better before I will take him in considering for the national squad again. For now Gray is most likely my starting player. Oh dear, that’s really bad isn’t it?
Luckily it’s much better in the line in front of Gray. What about Ronnie Adams for instance! My beloved toddler when at Spurs. Currently he is still playing for Tottenham, although not that much anymore because he’s facing some serious competition from other players. I think he should move to another club, but he’s one of the better Scottish players for sure. He will be my starting right full-back. As a centre back we can make use of another worldy from Chelsea called Mike King. A very good ball-playing defender. Maybe just not tall enough (I prefer at least 1,85 m) but he should be able to compensate this with all his other attributes. The other centre back used by the former managers was Guychel Limbombe. I have him in my squad as well, but he’s slightly getting older now and we have to prepare ourselves for a new guy. I’m deeply disappointed the managers before me didn’t make use of Mark Carmichael, currently playing for Celtic. 27-years old already but for some reason they never gave him a proper chance. A big shame. Look at him! I would say he’s even better than Limbombe. Mark, this is your chance for becoming a starting international, don’t let me down!
At the left hand side there’s not much choice. I can choose between Grant Johnstone from Hearts or Adam King, who might be familiar to you. He played for Spartans on loan one season. That wasn’t a great success at all… King should be the better player in comparison with Johnstone. So he better make sure he is performing at a certain level in the very first matches, otherwise his future as a Scottish international seems very insecure. Fordyce and Harris are back-up players. Not bad at all, but not really great either…
In midfield we have some decent players as well. Not world-class, but not that bad either. And a 19-year old kid who might become a world-class midfielder someday! At the right hand side we can make use of experienced Chelsea player Allan Morrison. A very good player for sure, but Hearts talent (for who I made an attempt with Spartans to buy him) Lewis Munro is pretty close behind. Physically a beast already, mentally pretty decent, only technical he must develop himself a little bit more I think. But he will be debuting soon for sure! In our centre we can make use of Derek Evans from Celtic. A very good all-round player who will be a starting player for sure. Next to him I can chose between Devine, Wright and 19-year old wonderkid Paul Shaw from Sunderland. I looked in the under-21, under-20 and under-19 team for my first selection and there I found Shaw. An absolute amazing player who can become my most important player within a couple of years. Not really tall, but that’s not the most important thing for his position, it can even be a big benefit! If he will develop himself even further into the next few years he can be the Scottish Messi! Okay, maybe that’s a bit too much right now, but I think you agree with me he is a very good player all day long! Most likely he will be my starting player together with Evans.
Just like our defensive line the left-midfield spot will be the weakest. Actually there’s not much choice at all. McDowall is our best and only option to be honest. Maybe I have to consider to bring Morrison into this position. He is left-footed already and at the right hand side of the pitch another player can took over Morrison. I’m not sure yet. First I will give it a try with McDowall I think. Furthermore we can make use of Jacob Wells as a back-up player.
Up front I had to bag David Finlayson for considering his retirement for the national squad. I mean he’s only 29-years old. Why should he stop? He is probably the best Scottish player all around as well! But at the end he agreed with me. Maybe he was a bit frustrated about the performances during the last European Championship, when Scotland was eliminated in the group stage already. Anyway, David Finlayson is joining Scotland a little while longer, which I’m very pleased with. Did I say already he is Real Madrid’s most important striker? Well, that’s what he is. Valued at £90,000,000 and with 58 goals in 96 appearances he is with distance Scotland’s all-time top goalscorer, almost doubling former legends Denis Law and Kenny Dalglish. No further explanation needed.
The other two strikers are Ryan Smith from Leicester City, a 19-year old talent who is very pacy and a good finisher and the other guy might be a very strange one! Dean McKinna is currently playing in Saudi-Arabia at Al-Ittihad, which he is doing almost his entire career yet. He is 27-years old now and never earned a cap before. I some way I can understand why, but this guy can be very useful as a target man and as a ‘last ten minutes pinch-hitter’ if we are behind. Actually he is a better version of Peter Crouch I would say. He is very tall, an amazing header and in general really not a bad player at all. I would sign this tank for Spartans without any doubt, although we probably can’t pay his salary!
If you have counted right we currently have 22 players. As you probably know I’m allowed to select 23 players for international duties. So, what about the last guy? Well I saved Rory Kindlan for being my utterly number twelve. Although I never mentioned his name before, this is the guy I wanted so much for Spartans when his contract was expiring at Dundee United. For a whole season long he was on a weekly contract until Leicester City gave him a chance at Premier League level were he was waiting for all the time. Sadly he is not one of the starting players over there and for some reason I can understand why. I mean, do you guys know what the best position will be for this dude? I have no idea at all. Actually he can play everywhere and that’s exactly why I selected him. He is amazingly useful as my first reserve player and will definitely collect more caps then the only two he has now.
All summarized I’m quite surprised actually. To be honest I expected a little bit less. In every line we can make us of a world-class or near world-class player. Only the left hand side of the pitch is a bit of a concern and of course my goalkeeper. But beside of that the squad is extremely balanced with a very good variety of ages and skilled players. I really don’t know where we are currently in comparison with all other teams all over Europe, but we will figure it out very soon! Until now no Spartans player in the squad, but who knows, maybe there will be one within a few years to take with me and acting at the European Championships within four years!
I dropped some former players who are not good enough or are getting older and probably not capable for playing another tournament in about two years. There are seven new players in the squad who never earned a cap before, but all of them are becoming a Scottish international very soon most likely. Some of them are actually very good and useful players! I also expected some heavy complains from either the dropped players or the media, but that wasn’t the case at all. Apparently they agreed with me pretty much for doing so.
Not much choice at all. Although the quality of the players is quite balanced there are not many options for certain positions. For instance there are barely some good midfielers available, especially not for the outside positions. So at the end I chose for a 4-2-3-1 system. I think a cautious but controlled playing style will be good with making use of very fast and smooth counters, although playing right through the middle might be possible as well, especially with quality players like Evans and within a year or two hot prospect Paul Shaw.
Maybe I have to tweak it a little bit during the first couple of months, but I think this squad should be good enough for at least qualify ourselves for the World Championship. Maybe not because we will be the number one in our group (it depends a little bit of the draw of course, which can be harsh because we are listed 29th at the world ranking currently), but I think we can become one of the best number two’s for sure. Well, we shall see how it will end, at least I have some really good expectations for sure with this squad! Not saying that much though…
Results this far
Our very first game was a tough one immediately. Away against Switzerland. But my thoughts about McKinna were immediately confirmed! I send him on the pitch ten minutes before the final whistle when 3-2 behind. His very first international appearance. I used the long ball and he immediately won some headers. Only a couple of minutes later he headed in a crossing from the left hand side of the pitch and with the additional time already started he banged in the winner after a good combination with Finlayson! An absolute stunning performance from this guy, I love him already! In the next game against France we were a bit unlucky. France is probably one of the best countries in the world currently with ship-tonnes of very good youngsters, although good old Nathan Reyes (remember him from Spurs, 35-years old now) and Flavien Peter (also a buy from me when at Spurs, 31-years old currently) are also taking part in the starting eleven. We gave them a good match, but one moment of a lack of concentration granted them a goal.
The third game against Norway results in a solid 1-0 win, but the away game against France went lost again. Again they only scored 1 goal and it felt like we could do better. The fifth match against Switzerland was terribly bad and went lost in front of our own crowd (0-3) and also the last game against Norway was definitely not our greatest one. We were the better team for sure, but we missed so many chances… Especially Real Madrid striker David Finlayson is playing terrible currently. However, the board wasn’t asking anything, we ended third, and because of that we are secured in the highest group of the Nations League next time. Finally the draw for the World Championship has taken place. A quite uninteresting group with some awful opponents from Eastern Europe and it also annoys me heavily we have drawn France again… Did I say already being a national team manager is quite boring most of the time? Well, it definitely is.
A good squad there with some very talented players in particular Finlayson who you have done very well to keep around despite his wishes to retire. The left side of the pitch will certainly be the areas opponents look to attack so lets hope soon enough a talented left sided player emerges. The results haven't been great so far, but they will come.