Athletic Bilbao - Because not everyone wants to sign C.Ronaldo

D.Woodgate

Member
May 28, 2010
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'Athletic are not allowed to sign non basque players'

I have realised the transfer system on FM11 is rather flawed, frequently allowing fantastic players to leave on free transfer (my house mate signed C.Ronaldo aged 29 on free transfer, to wolves..) So I decided it was about time to stop relying on clicking 'contract status expires in 6 months' on the transfer centre filter every season. Enter, Athletic Bilbao, or Athletic Bubble as renamed by my not so funny housemates. I also noticed not many people have persisted with this challenge in the past, or if they have, have neglected the opportunity to document their successes.

I will apologise now that I am new to forums and therefore my presentation will be nothing like as fantastic as some of the FM Stories i have browsed! But bare with me, I have attached thumbnails which i hope work which I will refer too, to avoid spoiling 'the story' avoid looking at these until mentioned! Thanks guys. Here we go:

Season 2010-11

I started the season with the hope of Qualifying for the European Cup, and opted for my personal favourite 4, 2, 3, 1 tactic with the key man, Fernando Llorente spearheading the attack with his 20 jumping and 18 heading, making full use of the wide men for supply.

Although I was given a reasonable budget of 5million, the key basque players, Xabi Alonso, Ander, Almunia, Xabi Prieto, Mikael Arteta and the likes were well out of my reach, so instead I decided to work with the resources and fantastic youth setup in Bilbao with the most promising being the young Iker Muniain the forward and Mikel San Jose at centre back who failed to make the cut at Liverpool (oh how wrong they turn out to be).

Although the season started slowly, Markel Susaeta and Fernando Llorente began to link up fantastically, with Susaeta finishing the season with 20 assists and Llorente with a crucial 15 league goals. As you can see from the 2010-11 season thumbnail we scored 59 goals, meaning goals were flying in from all over the pitch. Even more impressively however was that we surpassed our goal of Europa League football and managed to achieve 4th place, setting ourselves up for a chance to compete in the Champions League group stages. This was sealed by only 1 point ahead of Sevilla, making the double over sevilla that season a crucial part of the teams success! Another positive for the season was that my Goalkeeper, Iraizoz was named spainish keeper of the year, ahead of Casillas and Valdes, well done pal!

Season 2011-12

The boardroom were delighted with Woodgate's boys efforts in the first season and backed their man with a 10m transfer kitty. This in turn allowed me to sign Ander, a player I had been admiring and attempting to lure to Bilbao all of last season to no avail. Zaragoza could not resist the 9m transfer offer and soon the young creative midfielder was on his way to Bilbao. (Although I have red some other Bilbao stories of him being signed for 5m on transfer list, I could simply not afford to loose out on a player of his calibre to bigger european clubs if they occurred so i took the plunge!)

The next step was getting into the Champions League group stages which would greatly benefit the already stable financial position potentially boosting transfer budgets for the next season as the team attempts to come to pace with the 3 top teams, R.Madrid, Barca and Athletico. I got drawn Schalke, who boast the attacking presence of Rakitic and Huntelaar which made me slump down a little in my seat..

But no, Athletic Bilbao were having none of their managers pre match nerves, they went out and beat Schalke in Bilbao 7-2! Unbelievable scenes with Llorente scoring 4. This sealed my progression into the group stages of the Champions league even though i lost 2-0 in Germany on the return leg. I was grouped with CSKA Moscow, AC Milan and some other swag team, Red Star i do believe! This pumped a warmly welcomed extra 7million into the bank with at least 15m more in TV rights at the end of the season.

As far as the League went, this was an exciting year, once again starting slowly, finding myself in 16th position by early November, but February I was climbing higher up the table into 6th position, back to where i wanted to be. What was more, I was still in the Spainish Cup, which was an absolute nightmare the year before. I drew R.Madrid in the semi final and beat them 3-2 on aggregate and then went on to face Athletico Madrid in the final at the Nou Camp with 98000 fans all armed with vuvuzuelas... This was not a game for the light hearted with Madrid taking the lead early in the game by none other than Diego Forlan, Althetic then pulled themselves back into the game through a towering Llorente header only to be pegged back once again by Madrid as they went in at half time 2-1 up. After g'ing the lads up at half time giving them an emotional speech about making the Basque region of Spain proud and reminding them about how much they were all being paid, it was back into the fray. My faith in the youngster Muniain was repaid and the ref signalled extra time after a hard fought 90 minutes in which Forlan could easily have had a hatrick if he'd remembered to put his hairband back on at half time. The lads came back out and clinched the victory through a fluid counter attack, only after Iraizoz made a number of world class stops. Trophy Number 1, Secured. COYB.. I was going to have Paella for dinner to celebrate, but then i realised it was 4am..

The champions league wasnt quite as successful, with CSKA and AC milan pulling Athletic apart both home and away However, 3rd place was secured and the lads went on to beat Koln 2-1 on aggregate in the first knockout round. Typically, the draw went against Athletic and Liverpool outclassed the Basque Boy's 7-2 on aggregate, Now i know how Schalke felt...

The league became rather tedious in the last few games as you can see from the League 2011-12 because the 3 top teams were so far out in front and I had secured 4th position again quite comfortably, time for another shot at the champions league! Ander had a fantastic season, scoring 15 and assisting a further 16 goals, meanwhile Llorente picked up his scoring to 25 in all competitions.

Thanks to all the TV rights and prize money from the European football played by the lads this season, the bank was looking very healthy and this allowed me to finish the season in style, signing Felipe, a 16 year old regen from Athletico Madrid for 8.5 million (Athletic can sign spainish youngsters 16 or younger) and his stats can be seen in the thumbnail. He looks like he's going to be the next fernando torres, nevermind fernando llorente. An exciting prospect for Bilbao which left the supporters dancing in the streets of Bilbao.

Season 2012-2013

Newsflash: Woodgate handed 21m warchest by president in a hope to cement the teams top 4 credentials. By now i have secured Ander and Felipe, both amazing players. And now had the chance to buy Monreal from osasuna, a fantastic Left Back for 4.5 million. I also signed Azpilicueta from OM for 12m, who is possibly the best Right back on the game. On top of that i managed to buy poor transfer listed Raul Garcia for 500k from Athletico Madrid, a utility man for the middle of the park. Needless to say, after bolstering my defence by a good 17m, I was quietly confident this could be a season to catch up with the top 3, even if only by a few points as my youngsters develop more and more each season, my hypothesis was that by 3 seasons from now the young players will be ready to tackle to big guns and the older experienced players will be peaking.. But when does FM EVER go to plan? After all it is only a glorified excel spreadsheet with pictures and colours! (which we all love, dont get me wrong) Anyway:

That confidence nearly got flushed down the toilet as we were drawn CSKA Moscow for the qualifier, the team which ruined the teams dreams of securing knockround football last season. The lads managed to get an away goal in russia loosing 2-1 and then brought the Russians back to the Brand New 53,000 seater stadium in Bilbao and cained them 4-0, stealing all their vodka for celebration in the process. Champions League football secured for the second season running against all the odds! COYB.

The lads are now well into February of 2013 so a whole season update for the 2012-13 season will be up shortly as long as people are actually interested to see how the team continues to develop! The final thumbnail shows how well the lads have been playing up to now, with the Spainish Manager keeping an eye on more than HALF of the first 11.

Thanks for reading, look forward to replying to any questions and would love to know if there are any Basque gems anyone has found (non-regen) which I may have missed because last time i looked i could only choose to sign from 481 well known players in the region (hardly the biggest player pool ever!)
 

Aseeem

Member
Sep 5, 2009
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Not a bad read tbh, really enjoyed it, nice and quick summary, great regen you managed to snap up.
Will there be an update??
 

D.Woodgate

Member
May 28, 2010
66
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Not a bad read tbh, really enjoyed it, nice and quick summary, great regen you managed to snap up.
Will there be an update??
Cheers buddy! Yeh, the regen looks like he could become a class act. There will indeed be an update, just finished the 2012-13 season so will get that up asap.

Anyone else tried/succeeded with a Athletic game?
 

T.Sears

Member
May 12, 2010
41
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Are you continuing this story? I'm Athletic Bilbao as well and am really interested in this story.
 

nufctillidie

Member
Feb 9, 2011
79
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good read mate always like bilbao only siging basque players is actually what makes them such a good team which gives young spanish talent a chance thats why spain are successful also ander looks a quality player
 

D.Woodgate

Member
May 28, 2010
66
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Are you continuing this story? I'm Athletic Bilbao as well and am really interested in this story.
Hi Sears, sorry for the very late reply, I have been weighted down with work but am ready to prioritise Athletic Club once again! I have actually read your Athletic story, found it on google ha! Really enjoyed it mate, a lot more in depth than mine. How did the rest of your game go?

Because it is long over due, here is the update for the First Half of the 2012-2013 season. I will put the second half up soon after, and Wow, what a season the lads had...

Season 2012-13

I left you all at the point where Athletic had just secured a place in the Champions League for the 2nd season running, putting the club in a fantastic financial position!

The signings of Azpilicueta and Monreal really helped to step up that level of quality in the Defence, along with the two rocks in the centre San Jose and Amorebieta.

For Once! (Sears you know what im talking about here) , the La Liga season started well, wahhheeyyy, the lads secured wins against Espanyol, Hercules and Malaga, and come the end of the season, it will become apparent quite how crucial that win against Malaga really was! However, that good form all came crashing down in Europe, losing 5-0 to Dortmund and 2-0 to Arsenal in the two opening group games, leaving us rock bottom of Group B, Group load of Bollocks i thought. After being schooled during our european travels, we came back to the domestic campaign and got taught a lesson by both Real Madrid and Valencia in less than a week, loosing 3-0 and 4-0 respectively. So much for the new fantastic defence... the virtual chairman had his head in his hands as the fourth went in during the Valencia game, ironically, caused by a mistake from Azpilicueta 'possibly one of the best right backs on the game'.. Yeh, good one Dan.

Thankfully, the next two european games against Dynamo Kyiv ended in wins, and Dortmund dropped points against Arsenal. This first victory against Kyiv, a 5-0 thrashing with the wonderkids Muniain and Felipe both scoring, triggered a 10 game unbeaten streak whereupon Athletic flew up the table to 3rd by december.

As usual Football Manager lulls you into a false sense of security and in a similar manner to what they did to Real Madrid and Mourinho in real life this season, Barcelona ripped us apart with a 5-0 battering.. I would say that I was angry with the team for a shocking performance, but frankly, it was a masterclass, with the game speed at max it was like watching messi, iniesta, xavi and villa on speed. Dani 'Usain bolt' Alvez apparently.

Aside from chugging along in the league, the Champions league group was still very open, thanks to Arsenal flying high beating almost everyone, except for a draw with Dortmund. They spared no blushes beating us 3-1 at home, though Ander gave the home fans something to sing and dance about with a sublime 25 yard curling effort. Assuming that was that, clicked continue game, and then the result Dortmund 1, Kyiv 1 came up. That left the table as follows. Arsenal 13 points, Dortmund 8, Athletic 6, Kyiv 1. Final game of the group, at home to Dortmund.

I would love to be able to tell you it was a fantastic match, but in all honesty, it was all done and dusted in the first half... 3-0, greatt..

3-0 to the lads from basque! Muniain scored early and then Llorente, not to be out done scored a brace in less than 5 minutes, sealing Knockout Round Champions League football for the first time.

Just before the christmas break Ander stole a last minute 1-0 victory at Vallidolid. Still in the spainish cup, still the in champions league and sitting pretty in 4th in the league, the lads had a good week off as 2012 came to a close. And more good news came that week, Xabi Prieto, who had been signed for 7.5mil by Dortmund in the first season had become surplus to requirement and following a 3.5mil offer, the Basque Boy was coming home, a real quality winger who was on my initial wish list! Bring on 2013.

---------- Post added at 02:26 AM ---------- Previous post was at 02:17 AM ----------

good read mate always like bilbao only siging basque players is actually what makes them such a good team which gives young spanish talent a chance thats why spain are successful also ander looks a quality player
Yes, very true! The fact that you can sign any Spainish player that is 16 is a great touch as well. Its really challenging but also rewarding, knowing that for ONCE on football manager 11 its not all about waiting for someone good to come on transfer list, its about training and finding real gems. Muniain really is a fantastic player given the chance, and so is Susaeta, who seems to play well above what his stats would suggest! Have you done an Athletic story yourself?

I will be sure to add some more screen shots of players/stats/league tables soon!
 

CsAtlantis

Member
Dec 21, 2010
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playing the Spanish Cup Final and winning it at 4 am? 8-|

Doing pretty well though with your limited player pool, Champions league football and silverware for Cup win |)
 

R.Belka

Member
Apr 8, 2010
217
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I've always been keen on an Bilbao story- may be something i'll try later or in the next FM- especially with new talents like Ander (joins them IRL), Urko Vera, Jon Aurtenetxe, Ibai Gomez and Igor Martinez on top of your usual crop.
 

D.Woodgate

Member
May 28, 2010
66
0
0
Hi guys, spent a bit of time writing up the second half of the 2012-13 season, its quite long but a lot happened! I have attached a few pictures which I will refer to in the text, don’t look at them until told to because it will spoil the fun!

Second half of Season 2012-2013

I left you at the start of 2013, as Xabi Prieto touched down in Bilbao, some welcomed competition for Markel Susaeta who has been the undisputed choice for the right wing over the last few seasons. See first picture attached.

January turned out to be a good month, winning 6 of our 8 games, drawing the other two, securing a place in the semi final of the Spainish Cup to play Barcelona. The first leg of the tie was at the Nou Camp and no doubt memories of the last time they played Barcelona fired up the lads, unfortunately we came away empty handed, losing 1-0 thanks to a standard Barcelona team goal with Pedro applying the finish. The return leg however, was a very different story, a full house, 53,000 supporters, all crammed into the Nuevo San Mames, gagging for revenge for the 5-0 thrashing that they had witnessed earlier in the season. 1 shot on target was all the Athletic defence allowed a star studded Barcelona starting line up, and up the other end clinical finishing resulted in a final score of Athletic 2 - 0 Barcelona. Get in! No points for guessing who we got in the final though! Our best mates Athletico Madrid, back for revenge after a cracking final last season where Bilbao just edged the encounter.

Next up was the draw for the First Knockout Round for the Champions League, for which we drew Panathinaikos, champions of Greece. What a great tie it turned out to be, while the giants of Europe battled it out in the other ties, without a doubt, this was one for the neutrals! I have attached pictures of the two games results and goal scorers, and as cammy would say, unbelievable scenes jeff! After winning the first leg 2-1, the lads flew out to Greece and started the game very slowly, within 28 minutes we were 2-0 down and going out the champions league, with Panathinaikos holding that crucial away goal advantage aswell!

Markel Susaeta got us back into the game with a comical header in which he resembled a jumping salmon trying to make it upstream. But Djibril Cisse was without a doubt the best player of the two legs, and he scored his third of the tie in the second half, which looked certain to put the greek team through to the next round. 75 minutes, Athletic couldn’t find a goal, 80 minutes, 85, 90.. the clock ticking down, Overload, Team Instructions get ball forward, throw the kitchen sink at them, score! Llorente!!!!!! 90+3 with a piledriver from 10 yards! Athletic go through due to the away goals rule!

Back to reality in the next fixture, losing 4-0 to Athletico Madrid showing the gulf in class between the two sides, in particular Aguero, I have been raving about Muniain, who is becoming a real class act, but he really is just a poor mans Kun Aguero…

Onto the Quarter Finals of the Champions League and who do we get? Arsenal… who had already beaten us twice in the group stages of the competition. The first leg at home didn’t go quite as planned, even though the lads had 11 shots at goal, it was Alex Song who did the damage on 37 minutes, leaving the tie on a knife edge at 1-0 for the return leg in North Landan! I have attached a picture of the second leg result and goal scorers below and there are no prizes for guessing which players produced the goods for the A-Team. Babacar scored after 2 minutes for Arsenal, but Athletic weren’t giving up on the dream just yet. At half time Woodgate said to the players ‘If you don’t win this game, I’m going to get on the phone to John Terry and tomorrow morning, your missus will be gone!’ Susaeta and Llorente turned out to be the players who loved their missuses the most, scoring on 51 and 55 minutes respectively, but it was the team graft that followed which really earnt the boys their man points. Holding out till the final whistle against players such as Nasri, Van Persie, Fabregas and Babacar, meant that again, Athletic Bilbao went trooping on to the next round of the Champions League thanks to Away goals!! Onto the SEMI FINAL!

We kept battling on in the league, but Barcelona and Real Madrid were running away with it again. However, we were keeping a reasonable pace with Athletico Madrid who were sitting one place above in 3rd. Malaga were leading the chasing pack, only a few points behind in 5th. Next stop, the Spainish Cup Final!

I’ll be honest, I don’t want to talk about it. But I suppose I have too, but I’ll be brief.. We Lost, 2-0, Had 10 shots at goal, with 0 hitting the target, apparently the Madrid goalkeeper didn’t bother coming out the tunnel for the second half!

The semi final of the champions league was a welcome distraction from the Cup Final lose, and it was another North London team who would engage in battle with the Basque from Bilbao. Tottenham (Oh the irony of them making it further in the champions league than Arsenal in the game as well as in reality!) I have attached pictures for the two games below, but would advise only looking at the end of the next paragraph!

The first leg was a great result but also devastating… 2-1 the game finished, but the lads dominated the game, Llorente and Susaeta scored again (what a surprise) but Llorente also missed a penalty on 12 minutes, arguably the most important of his career!! Just to make matters worse, an OWN GOAL, on 90+5 minutes meant that Tottenham went home with a completely unjust away goal! The second leg was the complete opposite, and in all honesty, unsurprising. Tottenham, well Niko Kranjcar, played fantastically, tearing the defence apart, winning 3-0 on the night and 4-2 on aggregate. Devastated, but extremely proud of the lads, we headed home in the knowledge that silverware had escaped our grasp this season, but we had performed well above ourselves, with Susaeta, Felipe, San Jose and Muniain only getting better each season, maybe next year could be a year when history is made in Bilbao!

We finished 4th, winning our final few games, ensuring that a final strong run in from Malaga was shaken off. They were extremely unlucky, with both of us finishing on 70 points, but thanks to our head to head record of 1 win and 1 draw and a goal difference of +18 over +17 meant that the chance to play in the champions league group stages was handed to us once again! I have attached a picture of the league table at the end of the season, Athletico Madrid finished 6 points above, in reaching distance compared to years before, but Real Madrid and Barcelona were still a class above!

Susaeta, Llorente and Munian were revelations during the season, all cropping up with important goals for the team throughout the year, meanwhile it appeared the rocky start for the defence was sorted out and as a unit worked well together to clean up at the back! Just to give credit to how well the lads played, Monreal, Llorente, Susaeta, Ander and San Jose were called up to the Spain Squad while Muniain became the captain of the under 21’s and Felipe began scoring for fun for the Spainish under 19’s. Im hoping to utilize the youngster who has 17 Finishing and 17 Composure more and more over the 2013-2014 season, so watch this space!

At the end of the season I was offered the Athletico Madrid job and a transfer budget of 40 million! Aguero had won player of the year and the talent available was oh so tempting. But that wouldn’t be an Athletic Bilbao story would it?! The Athletic board and fans were delighted that Woodgate opted to stay with the Basque club, and in reward for his loyalty. Was given 25million to spend for the season. After a fantastic season in Europe, reaching the semi final of the champions league, my managerial status increased to world class, which is debatable but none the less I’ll take that.

The lads are well into the 2013-2014 season now and if people are still interested I will be sure to update everyone with how the team fairs as it attempts to build a bridge between 4th and the 3 Spainish Giants, with only Basque players!
 

D.Woodgate

Member
May 28, 2010
66
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I've always been keen on an Bilbao story- may be something i'll try later or in the next FM- especially with new talents like Ander (joins them IRL), Urko Vera, Jon Aurtenetxe, Ibai Gomez and Igor Martinez on top of your usual crop.
Ander is turning out to be a very special player, sitting in the hole behind Llorente, its just a shame his finishing and long shots mean I have had to tell him to look for the pass rather than the shot on the majority of occasions! These other players you have mentioned are looking good in real life but as you say, maybe on the next FM their stats might be upped a little and will be more worth while giving some playing time!
 

Clark_Messi

"Football is everything"
Jun 26, 2009
504
0
0
‘If you don’t win this game, I’m going to get on the phone to John Terry and tomorrow morning, your missus will be gone!’
Brilliant, thoroughly enjoying this mate. Keep up the good work.
Munain is an incredible player and I'm sure with your wonderkids you'll be Spanish Champions in no time.
 

D.Woodgate

Member
May 28, 2010
66
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0
Brilliant, thoroughly enjoying this mate. Keep up the good work.
Munain is an incredible player and I'm sure with your wonderkids you'll be Spanish Champions in no time.
Thanks pal. Will be sure to update with the first half of the 2013-2014 season within the next day or so!

As for Muniain, very true, even though his stats aren't anything like as great as someone like Hazard or Sanchez, he is scoring some absolutely fantastic goals! I will be sure to post an updated screenshot with his development with my next update.

As for being Spainish Champions, that would be fantastic, though the lads are going to need a fair amount of Luck, with Barcelona and Real Madrid dropping a lot of points haha. Barcelona are a class above and though I'll update properly tomorrow, they have Unbelievable spending power! 72 Million they just spent on a 29 year old Chiellini at the start of 2014 while I have spent 2million on one potential good youngster... Wow.
 
Dec 2, 2009
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Originally Posted by chrisstanley1987
Great few seasons so far, kutgw!
Thanks pal!
It's actually made me wanna have a blast with them! think i'll give it ago tomorrow when i get some free time! get some good advice off you and your story so far!
 

Clark_Messi

"Football is everything"
Jun 26, 2009
504
0
0
As for being Spainish Champions, that would be fantastic, though the lads are going to need a fair amount of Luck, with Barcelona and Real Madrid dropping a lot of points haha. Barcelona are a class above and though I'll update properly tomorrow, they have Unbelievable spending power! 72 Million they just spent on a 29 year old Chiellini at the start of 2014 while I have spent 2million on one potential good youngster... Wow.
That's the FM challenge but like I said, I'm sure you'll do it. ;D
 

D.Woodgate

Member
May 28, 2010
66
0
0
It's actually made me wanna have a blast with them! think i'll give it ago tomorrow when i get some free time! get some good advice off you and your story so far!
Sounds good to me! Keep me updated with how you get on as well mate, interested to hear if you manage to secure any silverware or find any absolute gems.

Next Update with be later today for the First Half of the 2013-2014 season.
 
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