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The Adriatic Adventure - FM11

FM 2011
Started on 26 September 2012 by tbendis / First Post
Latest Reply on 27 February 2013 by tbendis / Last Post
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6 yearsEdited
JUTARNJI LIST - 6.VIII.2011.

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It's been a year since Bendiš ascended to the Hajduk manager position, with the expressed view of taking the Croatian league, and Hajduk, to the top of its game using the youth academy of his club and his country, alone. Why win the Euro Cup once if you can hold on to a massive chance of winning it if the league is of higher quality, if you have better youth academies, and better transfers. Why sell your players for one million euros when, if they played in England, they would be worth 10. It changed last year though. With a squad with the average age of just over 20, Bendiš managed to take the team which waited in the sidelines for years, Hajduk Split, to the First division, and the cup title... and, not only did he manage to do that (and, with it, qualify for the qualifying stages of the Champions League), but, this amazing tactical manager took his team past Manchester City, past Lille, past Lokomotiv Moskva, to the semifinals of the Euro Cup, only falling out to a superb Steven Gerrard, who then lost against Zenit.
But it's a new year, and, against all odds, Bendiš has had to sell players. He sold last year's captain in January for a paltry 3 million to Panathinaikos, Senijad Ibri?i?. He sold one of the best things to come out of Split, Mario Ti?inovi? to the Netherlands for only 1.8 M. And, last year, he made a net transfer spend of -5M €. And yet, he keeps winning, eating out MŠK Žilina 3-2 Aggregate to get an easy, seeded spot in the last qualifying space for the Champions League group stage. The first one in 12 years to be on Croatian soil. If it happens, of course.
But, enough of the romance of the youth academy, how it's fashionable to support the underdog, this is about this season, where Hajduk still isn't a favourite in the Croatian division. They haven't shown it though, because, with this year's transfers, many, many things could be possible.

For one, we have the fantastic, yet slightly unreliable officially wing-back, yet ideal winger, Ondrej Kusnir of Sparta Prague, who was on the transfer list in the Czech Republic and was brought over for 675K €.
Both Marco Verratti and Filip Ozobi? (one would imagine that Bendiš is working on the first one's citizenship, to lure him to play for Croatia) returned for another season on loan from Napoli and Spartak Moskva respectively, however, for the attacking midfielder, two others joined, Frano Mlinar (in January), of Lokomotiva Zagreb, and Dejan Petkovi?, the Serbian/Brazillian legend came for 600K and 6K. Frano Mlinar was a difficult transfer, as it was through rivals Lokomotiva, AND Mlinar does like Dinamo Zagreb, of which he was in the youth academy... yet after Hajduk qualified from the group stage of the Euro Cup, he came on a relatively low wage.
Josip Brezovec came at the end of his contract to sub in for Sr?an Andri?, captain of 10 years as a DM in a 4-1-2-1-2 formation. He is 24.
And Jaime came in on loan from Udinese to replace Ti?inovi? as Kuko? grows more as a player on the left wing, and either Ivan Mili?evi? or Ondrej Kusnir learn how to play on the left.
But, of course, the most significant is Hajduk's last season free transfer of Coelho (Dyego Rocha Coelho) before he won Player of the year award for a massive array of free kicks that brought Hajduk back from the brink many a time last season, most notably as a 30 meter match winner against Manchester City in the Euro Cup... as he stays on for another season with Santos and Panathinaikos on the hunt. However, 2 million is being touted as the asking price.

This is a new season, one filled with possibility, as Hajduk gather up to maybe, just maybe steal what could have been from Dinamo, and write history for Croatian Football, in a long, hopefully entertaining chapter of Bendiš's career.

-JL

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IVAN MILI?EVI? HEADS HAJDUK TO CHAMPIONS LEAGUE - SKOPJE, MAKEDONIJA - 23.VIII.2012.
Hajduk went 2-1 down at home, but a masterful performance from the Dalmatian wingers brought Rabotni?ki to their knees as the first Croatian team to play in the Champions League in 12 years displaces the first Makedonian team to play ever
The game started, well, obviously, with Hajduk attacking like there was no tomorrow. Duje ?op was up front with Sandi Križman to try to get a goal in, but within the first half hour, Križman was removed from the pitch, injured for a month. This left Bendiš without a striker, and he quickly threw in Dejan Petkovi? to play as a supporting inside forward, next to Frano Mlinar, the playmaker. It seems to have worked, as Dejan Petkovi? first assisted Ivan Mili?evi? for 1-0, before making the pass to Mili?evi?, who assisted Jaime, the loan signing of Udinese, to get a well-deserved goal. The Spaniard had already hit the post twice on one-on-one opportunities, and for the youngster to get the goal must have proved wonders for his confidence. Marco Verratti came on for Mlinar in the 60th minute, but other than several Duje ?op close calls... as he was the complete forward, the score remained 2-0, which was enough, but much less than what could have been.

MEANWHILE, IN SPLIT, CROATIA
Igor Budan, a product of Rijeka's youth academy, after nearly 15 years in Italy, playing for various clubs has joined Hajduk Split as a substitute for Duje ?op for a month contract. As of this moment, Budan will be playing on a month-to-month contract (Croatian league allows trialists to play competitive matches) as Bendiš is slightly worried about how much Budan would cost. It remains to be seen whether Bologna will offer a contract to the Croatian or not, but, for now, Budan is a Hajduk player, with the number 34. Peter Zajac, a 17 year old wonderkid from Žilina, is also moving to Hajduk at the end of the Slovakian season, after he impressed the Croatian boss in the Champions League qualifier. Hajduk staved off interest from Real Madrid to sign the Slovakian until 2015.

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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE GROUP D - NYON, SWITZERLAND, 25.VIII.2011.
Hajduk, cheered on by their success in last years Euro Cup were disappointed with a draw that couldn't have been much worse, with both the English Premier League and the Serie A champions making an appearance in their group, as well as FC Bayern, who were third placed in the Bundesliga. This makes group D the only club with three different league champions.
The Hajduk manager, Bendiš, had this to say:
"I feel that the draw is a challenge. This is the Champions League, it was always going to be a challenge... we're not in the Euro Cup anymore where we can play against sides that finished in the mid-table of random leagues. These are the best 32 teams in Europe, and I can say that I feel honoured in their company. Yes, it's going to be difficult to get out of this draw, but that doesn't mean we're going to give up. We have a great squad, a squad that plays together fantastically, and we have shown that we play fantastically when the odds are against us."
Elsewhere, holders Real Madrid is in the group with Bayer Leverkusen, Benfica and Hibernian, while Barcelona have to get away from CSKA and Juventus, along with Slovenian champions, Koper to go through. Chelsea and United have easy groups, while Liverpool play against Shakhtar, OB, and Wolfsburg.

MEANWHILE... IN MANCHESTER
Manchester City have raised their two-year spending to exactly 200 million NET as they bid to become English Premier League champions. Notable transfers in include Darijo Srna (Shakhtar, 10M), Paulo Henrique "Ganso" (Santos, 24M), and Juan Manuel Vargas (Fiorentina, 21.5M). They have also bought Thorgan Hazard (now at Cardiff on loan) while Eden Hazard moved to Zenit St. Petersburg this August for 19M from Lille, on top of Udinese's Alexis Sanchez (16.5 M) and Ivan Rakiti? (Schalke, Free)
tbendis's avatar Group tbendis
6 yearsEdited
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TOTTENHAM BRINGS HAJDUK DOWN TO EARTH - SPLIT, CROATIA - 15.IX.2011.
HAJDUK 0-3 TOTTENHAM
A defensive Hajduk got the worst of luck, as Tottenham took the most of all of their opportunities, something that Hajduk is really not used to, and probably the reason that Tottenham is the premier league defending champion.
Dejan Petkovi? got a rare start, as while Jaime and Ondrej Kusnir were both injured (both wingers) were replaced by young Ton?i Kuko? and Ivan Mili?evi? (rewarded for his performance against Rabotni?ki with his first Croatia cap), but that wasn't the problem, as, although Hajduk prevented Tottenham from having too many opportunities, Peter Crouch, Jermaine Defoe, and Defoe again took the only three clear opportunities to score, and, while Hajduk had a few great chances, they simply failed to capitalize on the chances.
Meanwhile, Palermo forced Bayern to a draw, and, while all the names are... well... big, Hajduk can take consolation that the premier league champions should be the most difficult of the challenges they have to face, except for, White Hart Lane.

MEANWHILE... IN ZAGREB
Dinamo sold both of its main asset on deadline day, with Milan Badelj going to Toulouse for 2 million, and Mateo Kova?i? going next year to Portugal for 800K €.
tbendis's avatar Group tbendis
6 yearsEdited
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WHAT IS BENDIŠ DOING? 18.VII.2012.
Another year, another set of transfers for the largest, and the smallest clubs in Europe. In Croatia, of course, it becomes a fight against the foreigners to keep locals in their clubs. A fight which Hajduk, with Bendiš at the helm, is conspicuously avoiding by, oddly enough, selling its players. First on the list was Roberto Pun?ec. The 20 year old was handed the number 21 this year for Hajduk, but, after angling for a move away from the club, Sparta Prague swooped in and tried to take him for 800K. Only 300 more than what Hajduk paid two years ago to get him from Varaždin. Unfortunately for Prague, Pun?ec only boarded CSA's plane from Split after 1.3 million € changed hands, AND a guarantee of 50% of the next transfer. Still, it is odd for Bendiš to sell one of his best prospects to foreigners, something he has been avidly campaigning against since at the club.
However, not everyone sees it like Bendiš, and not everyone has a back-up plan. While the manager might have sold Pun?ec for an 800 000 profit, he wasn't as ready to let go of Duje ?op, who, instead of being on a flight to Porto, signed a 5 year contract extension. The difference? Jure Vladovi?, an 18 year old defensive midfielder, and Hajduk's own youth product seems to be Pun?ec's heir as Andri?'s heir in the DM position. The young midfielder has already played a few games in the past two seasons, and he seems ready to step up to the periodic role, and let the 20 year old leave for the Czech Republic. ?op, on the other hand, really doesn't have a target man to compete against, or replace him, as Budan retired last year to manage Croatia Sesvete.
But some argue that Bendiš still hasn't made any major transfers. There were no transfers directly into the first team this season, or during the season break, and it looks like the manager isn't even looking to fill possible gaps. And it's true. He isn't, because there are very few gaps that need immediate filling, which is why he has been working on the future. Namely, AC Milan's Gianluca Tacconi, AaB's Jacob Målling, Lillestrøm's Elton Ajzi, and Internacional's Adriano, along with MŠK Žilina's Peter Zajac. These are all stars of their respective junior teams, with Zajac even making an appearance for the Slovakian U21s at 18, and they are all highly interesting prospects. So, while Bendiš may not have been working directly on the present, he's one of those guys that likes to be half a step ahead, probably the main reason he was able to make 800 000 € on Roberto Pun?ec and 1 000 000 € on Josip Brezovec alone.
Brilliance or madness, Hajduk's in for one hell of a season if Bendiš can get all the deals completed.
Ooh awesome graphics mate! Keep up the story!
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OBVIOUSLY, SOMETHING RIGHT 18.VII.2012.g.
A thrilling off-season for Bendiš, as he went on a short American tour, defeating both New York (with Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez) and Los Angeles in, probably, David Beckham's final game before taking on Newcastle by the horns and walloping them 5-1 at Saint James' Park. The only setback of such a great pre-season was Hajduk's only home game, where Edinson Cavani scored twice for Napoli to win 3-1. In fact, it wasn't so much a loss as a testament of how far they had come, as losing to Napoli 3-1 is much better than losing to Palermo 5-0, as they had last season.
And then, there came the Champions League. The second qualifying round, the one that everyone thought Hajduk would get through without any issue.
No issue, seemed to be an understatement, as Hajduk went through after thrashing the Faroese Champions 10-0 to set themselves up for another Scandinavian tie, moving south from the Faroe Islands to Oslo to face Våleranga and see if they can move to the 4th qualifying stage, and a chance to get into the group stage yet again.
Meanwhile, one of Italy's greatest prospects this generation is moving from AC Milan. Not to Barcelona, or even Manchester United, as was expected, especially after an offer for Gianluca Tacconi was submitted by the English. It seemed though that Manchester wasn't willing to make it happen, as Hajduk obviously showed enough interest for the 17 year old to make the move. Perhaps, he'll make the nationality switch in a couple years as well.

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