Jul 15, 2010
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Meet the handsome, Are Burheim.
A Norwegian, who speaks Italian, French, Danish and Japanese.
A Scandinavian whose favourite childhood club is the Italian AC Milan.
A fan of technical, attacking football who has specialized in attacking coaching.
What could then be more logical than for him to take charge of.....
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Stoke City FC!
In this story, I'll be attempting to lead Stoke to the top! Why Stoke, you may ask. And in fairness, I don't really know, but It'll be hard to do worse than Mark Hughes is doing at the moment at least!

Throughout the story, I'll probably write short match reports, squad updates, and generally the small stories within the squad. Maybe even a few juicy stories from the locker room!

Now, where is Rory Delap.....
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A few weeks in, and I've finally gotten settled into my new office at the Britannia. The first week was spent cleaning up after good old Sparky, who had clearly used this method to clear out his old stuff:However, there were a few useful trinkets remaining. In one of the drawers, I found a crumpled up paper inside a well worn Stoke cap. After unfolding it, I discovered what insight an old Stoke manager had had to the squad's strengths. Talking of which, I had to decide myself what to make of the squad.
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After a week of intense practice, I feel like I've managed to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the squad.

A surprising amount of technical ability and flair.
- A strong leader at the back.
- Several good passers of the ball in midfield.

No real competition up front to Wilfried Bony, who is only a loanee.
- A heapload of mediocre defenders, that are not good enough.
- No good enough backup for Jake Butland in goal.

I decided that it would be a huge waste to not try to get the best out of my technical offensive players, so instead of using Mr. Pulis' old tactical approach, I decided to adapt an offensive-looking 4-2-3-1 formation.
With a side that actually already had decent physical attributes and work rate, I also decided that I wanted us to be an aggressively pressing side, almost a little Klopp'esque, so I convinced my players to buy into a strategy that would go for the throat of the opponents every single game. To do so, I instructed the following (absolutely crazy) opposition instructions! (All inspired by a tactic found at these forums btw)
View attachment 124383However, in order to succeed at this I needed 2 things. A new couple of players, and a lot of improvement from my current squad. So I instructed the team to extremely intense fitness training for the whole pre-season period and hit the market with my £12M. I mean what could go wrong???

View attachment 124379Well who'd have seen that coming. Injuries keep piling up during the intense physical training....How come my small weak technical player's can't handle the whip? :(
Despite this setback, we've made huge moves in the market during the last weeks. The first decision was that some of the old blood was not needed anymore. Peter Crouch and Phil Bardsley were offered out to other clubs, as they were nowhere near my chosen squad. I also sent out a couple of youngsters on loan, as well as sending unwanted goalkeeper Jakob Haugaard off to Canada.
However, to raise the funds needed, I needed to find someone disposable to sell. The lucky man was none other than Mame Diouf. A striker with mental abilities that are mediocre at best, as well as incredibly underwhelming technical abilities.
You might think that noone would be so stupid as to part with large amounts of cash for this useless chunk of beef, but, incredibly, Southampton coughed up £20M!! I could not believe my luck, and accepted instantly. The fans were outraged, however, but I believe that it will be the Saints fans that will be the outraged ones at the end of the season.
Now with our newfound cash, I had clear plans of what we needed:

- A goalkeeper on loan to replace Butland while he was injured.
- A first choice RB
- A first choice CB
- A first choice LB
- A defensive midfielder
- A young technical striker.

We tried very hard to bring in a goalkeeper on loan, but despite our best efforts, there were no decent keepers available for loan. It seems we'll have to bide with Shay Given or Lee Grant for 6 months. But in the end, 5 out of 6 is not bad! So here are our new signings!
RB: Gino Peruzzi - £2.8M
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CB: Ramiro Funes Mori - £9.5M
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LB: Jetro Willems - £10.75M
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DM: Cheick Tioté - £2.6M
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ST: Ayoze Perez - £12.5M
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Bonus signing: CM: Jermaine Anderson - £850K
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In the end, I feel very pleased that we are better prepared for a successful campaign this season. We might have overpaid a bit for Perez, but Willems looks like a gem of a signing! We are ready for the coming season!
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August - Early Strength

Our campaign started off with three games that where points were a possibility. Away games to Southampton and Swansea as well as a home game against Crystal Palace was what we needed to cope with in order to get off to a good start. However, our pre-season had been incredibly inconsistent, beating Greek side Atromitos 6-0, while losing 1-7 to Wolfsburg after Bony got himself sent off early on. Therefore it was hard to know what to expect when we went to St. Mary's for our first game.

Southampton 0 - 2 Stoke
View attachment 124241It turns out, it was the solid version that turned out for us. We had the better of the Saints throughout the game, and deservedly took all 3 points. Shaqiri was the star of the show with 2 great goals, but it was also great to see our defense so solid. Phil Bardsley, who was sent out on loan to Fulham, had to be recalled after one game, as we started the season with Peruzzi, Cameron and Johnson all out injured. However, Bardsley looked very solid, and would keep his place for the next game as well

Stoke 1 - 0 Crystal Palace
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And who'd have thought! The very same Bardsley found his way into the penalty area to hammer home an early lead. We once again looked very solid at the back, and kept another clean sheet. Another 3 points is very pleasing, although the lack of performances from our strikers is a bit worrying as we head to Wales for our last game of the month.

Swansea 1 - 4 Stoke
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Now, who said I was worried? Bony fired 2 great goals past his old employers, but it was Shaqiri who ran the show. 2 assists as well as an amazing goal won him a deserved Man of the Match award. In fact, everything was perfect for 88 minutes until Funes Mori, who's had a brilliant start for us, threw himself in with two feet against Llorente, and got sent off. Straight afterwards we conceded our first of the season. After the game, we got even more bad news, as Funes Mori would not only get a one game, but a three game ban for the sending off. Still, 9 points from 3 games is more than we'd have hoped for. But we might need that start, as we're up against Man Utd at home for the first game of September.

Colchester 0 - 2 Stoke
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In the cup, our second string side comfortably disposed of Colchester. Sobhi and Bojan ran the show to take us into the 3rd round.

In September, we face Man Utd, Arsenal and Liverpool, so a tough month ahead in the next update!
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September - The month of big games

Well, after a kind start to the season, and one we took full advantage of, it was time for the real tests this month. Games against Man Utd, Arsenal and Liverpool awaited us, as well as a cup game vs Burnley.

We started off against Man Utd at home. A Man Utd without record signing Pogba, but still an incredibly strong side. For us, Peruzzi made his debut, despite Bardsley's fine form, and Bojan was given a start over Ayoze.

The game started off at a frantic pace, with both teams creating chances. However, both teams struggled at hitting the target. Still, we seemed to be taking charge of the game, and after 28 minutes, we won the ball high up the pitch, thanks to a great tackle from Peruzzi. Shaqiri raced down the right and floated a great cross to the back post. Arnautovic came flying in and headed the ball past De Gea. 1-0!
The match turned quite rough at this point, with Bailly, Imbula and Fellaini picking up early bookings. And despite our relative control, United were getting into the game. In the 38th minute, Martial found Mata with a delicate through pass, and Mata hammered it past Given to make it 1-1.
As the teams were about to head into the break, we got a corner. Shaqiri didn't cross it well, but from the clearance, Bony slid in Bojan, who hammered a thunderbolt of a left shot into the top corner. We took a 2-1 lead into the break!
In the second half, Mourinho had clearly motivated his side to show a bit more effort, but unfortunately for Fellaini, his efforts were a bit mistimed. He brought down Imbula on a counter, and picked up his second yellow. 2-1 up and 11 vs 10, things looked good. We brought on Tiote and Whelan to sure things up in the middle, and it worked a treat. United couldn't find a way through, and our perfect start to the season continued! 3 points in the bag!
In our next game, we headed to the Emirates, to face high-flying Arsenal. Because of our recent success in closing out the game vs Man Utd, I decided to bring in Tiote as a CDM, to try to cope with Arsenal's offense (he did not play AMC, as shown in the formation). Arnautovic was dropped to the bench in an otherwise unchanged formation.
It turns out, the middle of the park is not where we needed strengthening. Ozil kept drifting out to the left, to combine with Sanchez, who absolutely destroyed Peruzzi. It got to the point where I brought on Bardsley and ordered him to bring down Sanchez with any means possible, only to have Sanchez skin him 30 seconds later to complete his hat-trick. A late consolation from Imbula, who was our only player to perform acceptably, was little comfort as Arsenal crushed us 4-1.

After that reality check at the Emirates, we welcomed Klopp's Liverpool to the Britannia. The formation change from the Arsenal game was reverted, and we were back to our normal style. Funes Mori returned from his suspension, to put us at almost full strength. Grant got the nod over Given in goal, and Cameron replaced Peruzzi at right back.
View attachment 124125In this game, it was obvious that the lads wanted revenge for the beating they took at Arsenal. They gave it absolutely everything, to the point where the referee had to calm the whole team down. Still, it meant that we won control of the game, despite 4 first half bookings. We created several great chances, but struggled at beating Mignolet. Thus, it came as a big blow when Firmino scored on their first big chance, after a great pass from Lallana. We shifted all focus to attack, and only 5 minutes later, Cameron came down the right flank, to lay a terrific cross onto the head of Bony. 1-1, and all to play for. We continued our attacking approach, but once again didn't manage to convert our chances. In the end, a draw is still a decent result, and 4 points from these three matches is not too shabby. However, we had to face a fine after the game, due to our kamikaze-players picking up 6 bookings :)
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In the cup, our second string side once again did well, to beat Burnley 2-1. Walters and Adam scored the goals to take us into the next round.
October is a busy month with 4 league games, and a cup game away at Leicester. Hopefully we can continue our great start!


Is there any chance you could a screenshot of the team instruction/shape page so we can have a closer look of how you have the team playing?
Great start mate, I imagine Stoke are not an easy team to manage. I'll be following
Really like the look of this mate, great start and some nice signings too. It's strange Stoke are still lumbered with that same old one dimensional tag as they have some really classy players in Shaqiri, Bojan & Arnautovic.
Started my own save with Stoke and currently sit second with 7 games to go! Real fun team to manage with a good financial backing. Ps- Andrea Belotti is a gun and I recommend anyone managing in the premier league to sign him. Signed him for 10 million, has 29 goals in 31 games.