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[FM21] Whole Yellow Sun

After suffering an attempt against his life where he though he would be safe, Deniz Naki got no place to go. In this story, he will try to bounce back, and, as a manager, realize the potential he never did as a player.
Started on 14 November 2020 by Tango
Latest Reply on 1 March 2021 by TheLFCFan
What a shame. Let's hope the club can maintain their identity. That's what makes Dalkurd, Dalkurd!
A great season one but the takeover could cast some intrigue over the next few seasons for Deniz.
Tango's avatar Group Tango
3 yearsEdited

5. Business as usual (whenever possible)

Outside politics, Deniz still had a job to do and continue doing business as usual. There was a cup yet to be played, and the pandemic squeezed the pre-season, with cup games starting February.

Thinking of the next season, Dalkurd went off to the transfer market. The current squad does not suffice any marginal dreams of not being relegated, so this transfer period has been a long one. We managed to get some money in by dispatching John Stenberg and Irfan Jašarević for 100 thousand euros each, and in their place we brought in, well… quite a lot of people:

Players brought in for the starting XI

GK Anton Fagerström, 29 years old
RB Morten Beck, 26 years old
CB Daniel Jarl, 28 years old
CB Axel Sjöberg, 30 years old
DM Lasse Petry, 26 years old
CM Kevin Walker, 31 years old
AM Yann Rolim, 26 years old

Players that will fight for a spot

CB Marcus Johansson, 27 years old
LB Nicolas Bresciani, 23 years old
CM Sebastian Sandlund, 24 years old
LW Kristian Andersen, 26 years old
LW Marcelinho, 18 years old
ST Shawn Parker, 28 years old

Squad players

RB Roni, 23 years old
ST Mads Zaar, 18 years old

All these players were brought in after a period as free agents. Without too much money for scouting, many of these players were scouted during a trial period, and were brought in after satisfying the qualities that we lacked, and the amount of players brought show how the squad lacked a lot of quality. Most players are Swedish, Danish (Kristian Andersen’s second nationality is also Denmark), or Brazilian, given that Brazilian agents love offering their players to anyone that could pay their wages.

Svenska Cupen

The Swedish cup has a peculiar format: after the qualifier that we played in October, only in January, already - at least officially - into the next season, we play the cup, in a short-term tournament just like the World Cup: 8 groups, 32 teams, one month to play it all. The only difference is that only the first placed in each group qualifies to the quarter-finals.

Dalkurd had a lucky draw, having only one team from the elite to play against, and other two sides from the third tier. And by the quality of football displayed throughout this short group stage, two things can be concluded:

1 - we still pretty much suck;
2 - we have a lot of luck.

We managed to find a late equalizer against Elfsborg, the strongest team in the group thanks to a banger from our right-back Beck, who was having a crappy debut until then. Against Lunds, the weaker team of the group, we smashed them but didn’t get more than a marginal victory. And against Brommapojkarna, from the third tier, we had to save it with a late equalizer again.

5 points will hardly qualify someone in a group that only the first one goes on. But the planets aligned. Elfsborg beat Brommapojkarna but failed to beat Lunds. Actually, if it wasn’t for Offia’s equalizer, Brommapojkarna would be the one going through.

All of that led us to the quarter-finals, where we faced current Swedish champions Hammarby, the team that Ibra used to cause quite a kerfuffle. Against them, we stood no chance and ran out of luck: a whooping defeat by 3-0 wave us farewell from the cup.

Now we’ll have another pre-season until the snow melts and we can move on to the league. The season preview shows Dalkurd far away from any ambition of grabbing enough points to stay at the top tier, and every game is going to be an uphill battle. It’s gonna be fun.


@ScottT and @TheLFCFan yeah, this takeover came out of nowhere, even in the game I was like wtf
It's going to be a case of simply looking to survive I think. The cup campaign wasn't the greatest and Dalkurd were perhaps quite fortunate to get through the initial group stage. Some decent signings though given the lack of finance to work with. Let's hope they're enough to keep the club in the Allsvenskan.
Tango's avatar Group Tango
3 yearsEdited

6. No, Deniz, you are not at home

After the unexpected takeover, things started not to feel the same anymore in Uppsala. Not until then had Deniz realized one thing: he was not at home, and the efforts to pretend he was and the attempts to feel at home were fruitless. The winter was rigorous, even more than it was in Germany. The snow would paint the whole landscape white and stay like that for weeks, making football impracticable during a whole season.

Moreover, the welcoming warmth of his compatriots has been substituted by the coldness of the new gestionnaires, pushing the community that built the club more and more aside. If not to be among friends and “family”, as he called his welcomers in the new country, why bother at all? If not to have people to protect each other, how could he guarantee that he was safe?

Because truth be told, you are always safe until the point you are no longer.

And yeah, yeah, Deniz still had a job to do, you know that already. So he put his head down and started working harder, focusing on his career, making sure that he is noticed and more and more respected. It was a shift in strategy: instead of seeking protection by keeping a low profile, he started to realize that it would get harder and harder to harm him if his presence was to be missed by more and more people. So that was it: become a better manager, unexpendable, hiding in plain sight, counting on the commotion that his departure would cause to make sure it would never actually happen.

April 2021

The tools at his hands were still short of anything needed for a comfortable season, but Deniz managed to get it to work. The guerrilla strategy paid off at the events away from home, where rivals tended to expose themselves the most. A famous upset over Helsingborgs kicked off the season with the right foot, but the defensive approach was least successful at home, where rivals would come up with wary of our shenanigans. 7 points in 18, however, are not that bad in a league in which 33% of the points are usually enough to avoid direct relegation.

May 2021

The next month started... well, showing that a defensive approach wouldn’t work against every rival; and given that the amount of points gained against stronger rivals would never be enough for safety, Deniz needed a strategy to grab points against weaker clubs. At this point, the championship started to pan out, showing who would thrive and who would struggle. Dalkurd could, finally, try to play some football against the struggling ones. And it paid off with 10 points being gathered in the 12 points available before the summer break.

Standings - 12 games in, 18 games remaining

The 17 points out of 36 available are not enough to escape the relegation fight in some leagues, but the Allsvenskan has an enormous gap between the best and the worst clubs, as is shown by the embarrassing struggle faced by Örgryte and Falkenbergs. Dalkurd rose to the eye to not be in the same situation as those two teams, and AIK, one of the big clubs in Sweden, started to grow interested in Deniz's avoid-relegation skills. Currently sitting in a relegation play-off spot, they were expected to finish the championship 7th. With a showing of this poor quality, they sent their manager packing, and that got Deniz to think. The third place in the contest for the German Manager of the Year made Deniz even more attractive.

Going to a bigger club means a bigger salary and better working conditions. Let’s face the facts: conditions of work in Dalkurd are still dragging behind the average conditions in the league, and moving to a club such as AIK would be a step towards a bigger reputation.

More than that, the bigger you are, the louder your voice. The opinions of a manager struggling to keep his job and his club alive has less impact than the ones of a manager being interviewed by global networks on a weekly basis.

Of course, that is just not Deniz. As a passionate man, he would never leave Dalkurd without giving the club a chance to offer him something of what he seeks. Let’s make the most out of this takeover, let’s seize the resources they brought towards something positive.

With this new mindset in mind, Deniz went to have with the new chairman:

- Come in, Mr. Naki.
- Good afternoon, Mr. Edlund.

Rickard opened a smile and greeted Deniz:

- So, Mr. Naki, to what do I owe the pleasure? You don’t swing by really often.
- Yeah, I know, I apologize for that. Still getting to feel the new environment.
- Okay… - said Rickard, in a defensive tone.
- Let’s talk business: I want to go out for a new course. Study, improve, become a better manager.
- You’re good enough for me if you ask.
- Seriously, Mr. Edlund, I mean business here. Pay me a UEFA A license, and I think we can do even better.
- Naki, I have watched this movie already. You get a better license, a bigger club comes and takes you away. I won’t let that happen. Furthermore, we need you at the training ground.
- Come on, you brought new people in, I’m sure they can handle it. And all the resources the club has got right now, we have the potential to be bigger.
- Naki, what kind of resources do you think we brought in? You think we are millionaires or what? We only brought more professionals in management, and they are no good for the training ground…

Deniz tried to say something, but the words didn’t come up for a while. He stuttered a bit before being able to respond. His response, however, did not help his relationship with the new board:

- If not to increase the club’s conditions, what the f*** was the point for this whole takeover bulls***?

Rickard’s pupils grew as he heard each swear word being roundly pronounced by Deniz.

- Mr. Naki, in respect of what you have been doing for this club, I will ignore what I just heard.
I don’t need your respect, Mr. Edlund. Have a great afternoon.

Deniz stormed off the room and send his agent a text:

“Get me on the phone with these AIK guys. Let’s discuss business.”


@ScottT well, for Dalkurd it’s almost in the bag, the awful display of Örgryte and Falkenbergs pretty much sealed the deal
Well, I wouldn't be opposed to Deniz moving on at all. He thoroughly deserves an opportunity given how well he has done and how the board is very much turning a blind eye to his wishes.

7. Bare feet in the white sand

I won’t bore you with the details: the interview with AIK went just fine and that is the only interesting thing to know about it. Deniz had the chance to know a little bit more of the history of the 130 years-old institution: their remarkable players, their 12 Swedish titles, and the recent adventure at the group stages at the UEFA Europa League, in 2012/13.

After the interview, Deniz left for the summer break, enjoying the sunny summer at the white-sand beaches and the colourful buildings of Havana. With few-to-none contact with the outside world, he barely opened any electrical device during his vacation, as one should do when in such a lovely place.

The pandemic had just settled and Deniz had already taken his shot, mandatory to enter Cuban territory. After the attack against his life, the pandemic and the frenetic year with Dalkurd, it was time to finally relax as deserved. He had no priority in mind other than stick his feet in the warm white sand and feel the heat of the Sun touch his kind while he’d read a book a few steps away from the Caribbean sea.

The only moments when he would pick up his phone would be to check his email box, to see if there was any message from his agent or AIK themselves. During one of these checks, another message brought his attention: someone had tagged him to a news article, whose title read “Who will be Union’s next manager?”

He was far from being the favourite to take the post. After a long article mentioning five or six other names, he was mentioned in the second to last paragraph of the piece. I quote:

“Deniz Naki, allegedly unsatisfied with the turns taken by his club Dalkurd, and presumably in talks with AIK Solna, has also attracted the attention of some people at Köpenick, especially the ones linked with the left-wing political fans, but the board rejects the idea of hiring a manager only on political pretenses.”

After reading the article, Deniz had a “You-Know-What?” moment and decided to call his agent.

- Hi there. Working much?
- Hi, Deniz, to what do I owe the pleasure? I thought you were taking your vacation.
- And I am! Anything from AIK yet?
- No, nothing so far. But don’t worry, I think we’ll get the job.
- Good to know. But listen, have you heard anything about Union Berlin?
- I heard they dismissed their manager, even though he kept them in the Bundesliga… What about them?
- Oh, come on. You know what about them.
- So you want me to send them your cv?
- Yep.
- Well, you are the boss. Will do. But I have to keep your expectations honest: it is a huge leap.
- I know. Thanks. See you in Uppsala. Or Solna. Or Berlin. Bye!

Some days later, his agent called saying that he got an interview. Deniz, then, cut his vacation short and took the first flight to Germany. There he had his second interview, and it went just as fine as the first one. After one week, he received another call, inviting him to sign a contract with AIK. Deniz asked for another week, and they conceded. He defined, then, that he would wait this week and, if no contact from Union was made, he would sign with AIK.

Six days had gone by until the call:

- Hallo. Spreche ich mit Deniz Naki?
- Genau. Dirk?
- Ja, Dirk Zingler hier. Ganz kurz: der Job liegt bei dir, wenn du’s willst.
- Super! Wann soll ich nach Berlin?
- Sorge dich nicht, ich werde die Tickets kaufen und sie dir bei E-Mail schicken.
- Geil! Danke sehr! Auf wiedersehen!
- Bis bald!

There is a high chance you didn’t understand a word, which is fine. Long story short, Deniz became a manager in the Bundesliga. It’s like he had found gold in a copper mine, from a small community club falling short in structure compared to the Allsvenskan level to a small community club falling short in structure compared to the Bundesliga level. Improvement, nonetheless.


@ScottT well, at the end of the day it’s worth a shot. I guess the doors will remain open in case it doesn’t work out
AIK must be gutted! Looking forward to the new adventure in Germany :P

8. Rising Above the Past

I could waste my Latin presenting Union Berlin to you all, but I would never present it better than this beautiful love story between a man and a football club. Hence, I will skip this part.

When Deniz arrived in Köpenick, he surely didn’t expect a squad to win Bundesliga with, but certainly, he thought it would be better. Union had come from a good season in 2020/21, finishing 14th, but the current situation of the squad was below par, with only Robin Knoche standing out as a player with Bundesliga quality. The biggest young prospects in the club, Cedric Teuchert and Marvin Friedrich, were starting to give signs that they would not fulfill their potential, even being, by far, at the Starting XI level.

With 10 million euros to spend, Naki had to be both economical and creative with the new signings, in a way to not pay much for players capable of increasing the depth of the squad - because God, this squad needs it. So let’s go shopping:

Starting XI:

GK Gatito Fernández, age 33
AM Aimar Sher, age 18
LW Sead Hakšabanović, age 22
ST Simone Palombi, age 25


RB José Luís Gómez, age 27
CB Jesper Daland, age 21
CB Elías Machuca, age 18 (on loan)

We didn’t truly have a goalkeeper capable of stopping a ball from hitting our nets, and our solution was to bring the Paraguayan goal-keeper Gatito Fernández from Brazil, in his first opportunity to play in Europe. He is not getting any younger, sure, but that is what you get for the price we can pay. For the attacking part of the pitch, we brought three players: Aimar Sher, a young hot prospect and the first Kurdish player signed by Deniz, Hakšabanović a good Montenegrin winger with a lot of time to improve further, and Simone Palombi, an eternal prospect that failed to fulfill his potential at Lazio and will try a fresh start An der Alten Försterei.

Some players were brought with the expectation of providing competition for OK-ish players. José Luís Gómez came after his contract with Lanús expired. Daland was brought in to be a shadow for Marvin Friedrich, and Machuca came on loan because we didn’t have enough centre-backs in the squad.

Season Preview

Guys, it’s gonna be tough. Even after all these signings, Union is still not expected to stay without a fight, with the prospect of being at the relegation play-offs after the wrap-up of the 34 games. Our consolation prize is that Nürnberg and HSV managed to show up with even worse squads and are expected not to make it.


@Jack oh, they are. We are world class material, honey
Tango's avatar Group Tango
3 yearsEdited

9. Make or break

One question consumed Naki’s pre-season and twisted his bowels, a question that would not be answered before the kick-off of the season: is he ready for the leap?

Of course, he didn’t go to Italy or Brazil, where you can get fired if the board does not like your first couple of games. That does not mean that the pressure is not higher in Germany than it was in Sweden. Union Berlin is a club with a short history in the Bundesliga, and a drop could mean the end of a fairytale. He correctly felt that the destiny of a whole community club was laying on his hands. It was make or break.

August 2021

Quite a bumpy reunion for Deniz with the Bundesliga. Saved at the penalty shoot-outs from a humiliating elimination at the DFB Pokal, Union had a tough start against tough opponents. The 2 points gathered in 9 available should be seen as a triumph for the time being.

September 2021

The second month brought his first win, but nothing more than that. In Naki’s defence, playing Hertha, Dortmund, Leverkusen, Hoffenheim and Bayern in the first 6 games will never make you look good at the start. The calendar promises to be sweeter for the next three months, at least. At the end of the month, Palombi got a hat-trick against Hannover, but the defence did poorly and we lost again.

October 2021

Palombi rose to the occasion and suddenly we have a series of 4 consecutive wins, with Palombi scoring 5 of our 7 goals. To ruin the beautiful picture, we got knocked out of the Pokal by Wolfsburg.

November 2021

The winning streak kept going for another couple of games, including an almost immediate revenge against Wolfsburg. Teuchert became the man of the hour, showing himself as a solid replacement for the injured Simone Palombi and scoring 4 goals. Our winning streak was brought to an end by the inspired exhibition of Freiburg, most importantly their regen wonderkid, the Statunitian Ricardo Bye. You’ll hear more about him.

December 2021

A pleasing victory against RB Leipzig at the encounter between the only two teams from the deceased DDR, with the football club standing out against the energy drink brand. Teuchert was once more our best player, scoring twice against RBL and the dramatic equalizer at Frankfurt. Our brilliant first half of the season was crowned by a brilliant performance against an HSV that, although back to the Bundesliga, is still pitiful to see. Deep down, Deniz felt good by overpowering his former rivals from the playing times.

Bundesliga 2021/2022 Standings - 17th round

Well, we are making! A solid 5th place at the end of the first half of the season shows that at least this season, we are safe from the relegation fight. We can aim higher, though. Hannover is stealing our spotlight with even an even better performance, but we have a small gap from the clubs below us that we can potentially build, as long as the tough initial sequence does not kill our momentum in the first 6 games of the second half of the season.

With only one competition to play, we can keep on challenging ourselves by maintaining a rested squad for the rest of the season, a privilege of the few at the higher spots (basically Union and Hannover). We’ll see what 2022 can bring.
An excellent start to the season for Deniz with his new club.

An unfortunate aside, I have opted to remove all comments prior to this update. The comments in question were unnecessary and I urge everybody to be careful and considerate with the language they use on these forums.

I won't be afraid to take further action.

Free-speech is welcome but you are not free from consequence of what you say and therefore I have exercised this by removing the comment in question and subsequent responses.

10. Elephant on a tree?

Union Berlin and Hannover were the sensations of the first half of the season, and therefore pundits in Northern Germany couldn’t talk of something else. Could it be a season of dreams for at least one of them?

Most pundits from other regions, however, treated both these clubs as elephants on a tree: no one knows how the heck it got there, but everyone knows that it has to come down at some point. For them, it was clear that the pair of surprises were performing above their capacities and reality wouldn’t take long to kick in.

One strong point in their favour, at least for Union, is the poor transfer period:

First team

RW Anders Dreyer, age 23

Option for the bench

CM Hans Nicolussi Caviglia, age 21
*I lost the print screen for Andrey. Let's pretend it never happened

Building the future

GK Jerónimo Pourtau, age 21
CM Saksit Pue-on, age 18
ST Fernando Ovelar, age 18

Our budget only allowed one more first-team signing, and we brought the Danish right-winger Anders Dreyer, who is deemed to substitute the under-performing Akaki Gogia. We also brought the young Italian midfielder Nicolussi Caviglia on a free. He is still considered a hot prospect, even though he’s getting late on achieving the potential he allegedly has. Regarding the other hot prospects, Pourtau is a promising goal-keeper that his club in Argentina failed to hold on to, Saksit is a Thai-Korean exciting prospect that only got here because one of the scouts we hired has a knowledge of the South Korean football somehow, and Ovelar, who made his professional debut in Paraguay at the age of 14, finally got the ticket to Berlin after completing 18 years.

January 2022

Let’s say January was fun. A win at the Berliner Derby with Ovelar causing immediate impact at injury time, and an epic recovery in Dortmund, salvaging a draw after losing 4-1. We almost managed to do the exact same thing at the very next game against Leverkusen, but we fell short of a goal.

February 2022

From now on, we will exchange points, with solid displays at home and struggling away. This time we even had good games away from home, getting a tie from Bremen and a very dignified defeat against Bayern. The victory against Hoffenheim is a display of strength from us, and we beat Hannover, who was already starting to fall apart.

March 2022

Our calendar got less and less busy as we had no other competition to play, so our March had no much action. A painful defeat against Gladbach added to another spectacular hat-trick from Palombi and a solid win against Schalke.

April 2022

April had more action, and the pattern followed: strong displays an der Alten Försterei, weak performances away from our fans. At least we didn’t lose against RBL. Even though wobbling, we were still pretty much in the fight for an UCL spot, that could be achieved with a win at our last home game.

May 2022

But it didn’t come then. The team felt their legs shaking and not obeying their heads, and no goal was scored. Fortunately Deniz still had his former rivals from St. Pauli times to do poorly and let us score the much we wanted. I say wanted, not needed, because we just needed a win. They had a crappy season.

Final Standings - 2021/2022 season

We scored an even amount of points compared with the first half (30/28), and kept the good form going even though we really won one single game away from home. For the surprise of no one, Bayern won the league again, and that’s the topic no one is talking about. They’d rather talk about Union Berlin, who had their best finish in the league ever* under the command of Deniz Naki. Such a performance could not end up in anything other than the selection of Naki as the Manager of the Year. But it didn’t. They picked the manager of Bremen instead, who finished below us. This shit is clearly rigged.

Season Review

*they said that the team would try to do even better at the remaining of the season even though it was finished LOL


@ScottT it was the right thing to do, I guess. Avoids the topic going off-topic and completely ruining the whole thing
What a season! Nobody could have predicted this at the start of the season. A truly remarkable effort that Deniz can be very pleased with. His stock will only continue to rise.

11. Leaching talent

In the beginning of the 22/23 season, Deniz was THAT guy. Guys, do not be THAT guy. Deniz was only THAT guy this season because desperate times call for desperate measures. So July and August 2022 were the months in which Deniz Naki made enemies for life.

A total of 6 players were brought only using the Bosman rule. Three of them (Edward Chilufya, Álex Centelles and Marc-Oliver Kempf) are talented players that their clubs did not like to lose for free. Rafa Mir is a flop from Wolves that Naki will attempt to recover, whilst Ludovit Reis and Christian Früchtl are both talents that the giants Barcelona and Bayern failed to profit from. The rest of the players were paid for, I swear.

First-team level

RB Mattia de Sciglio, age 29
LB Juan Miranda, age 22
CM Frank Onyeka, age 24
CM Ludovit Reis, age 22
RW Edward Chilufya, age 22

Those are the players that hopefully will make the team jump to the next level. De Sciglio is an experienced and rather known Italian full-back that played for Milan and Juventus, and, alongside Passlack, is one of the players in our squad that played the UCL at high level before. Juan Miranda and Ludovit Reis are both talents poorly managed by Barcelona, whose canteras have been leaking talented players lately. Onyeka is a strong tireless midfielder who played his whole career in Denmark, and also coming from Denmark, we bring the quick winger Chilufya.

Can fight for a spot

CB Marc-Oliver Kempf, age 27
RB Felix Passlack, age 24
LB Álex Centelles, age 22

Kempf came as a spoil from the fallen Stuttgart, who ended the last Bundesliga at the bottom of the table. He is a solid defender, and can be a regular starter if he presents good form. Passlack is a flop from Dortmund that I think can bring experience to our squad, and, maybe, finally develop his wasted potential. Centelles, whose screen shot I lost, is a player that apparently everyone brings to their saves. So you may know him already.

Substitutes with potential

GK Christian Früchtl, age 22
CM Jens Cajuste, age 22
ST Rafa Mir, age 25

Früchtl is a goal-keeper with insufficient potential for Bayern, but that may not be the same in our level. Cajuste is a promising Swedish midfielder brought to compose the squad, whilst Rafa Mir failed to show his potential at Wolves and may be getting too late to bloom.

Future stars

GK Jairo da Silva, age 18

Jairo has an interesting story. Scouted from the Toulon tournament, he was playing for the Brazilian national team even though he only played for the Bolivian side Always Ready before. We caught the Brazilian clubs’s scouts napping and brought home a very promising goal-keeper.

One thing you may realize by now is that the team lacks a lot of local talent. Out of all the players brought in, only 3 are Germans and none of them are first team level. It happens for two reasons: (1) we had to strengthen our squad not to be summarized humiliated at the UCL, and (2) German players are quite expensive for our budget. That, added to the fact that you can’t find really any Union-grown player suitable for the higher levels, means that we will leave a lot of blanks at the UCL player registration.

2022/23 - Season Preview

12 players came in, a lot of dead weight was released, 5 talented players for the first level (with 4 of them at the break-even point) and, for the press, we are still 16th. Ok, then.

Apparently, the only 4th place that can be achieved once again is at the UCL. Our group will be light and easy, with Barcelona, Chelsea, and Olympique Lyonnais. Oh, dear.

At the DFB-Pokal, we beat the worldwide renowned Westfalia Rhynern, 2 to 0. I’m saying it here because it is not worth mentioning in the next episode.


@ScottT nice to see that the idea of hiding in plain sight is working. Naki is doing wonders with his Cinderella
Ouch. That's a horrific group for Union. More miracles will have to worked to achieve anything there.

The signings aren't the most inspiring but it's difficult to imagine much in the way of top-class talent joining the ranks at the moment. I'm intrigued to see whether it was one season wonder moment or if Union can impress again.

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