Schalke: Back to the future!

RaySunshine

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I kept saying that I’d pause my FM20 save to start a story but I caught in ‘just one more season’. So I decided that, rather pausing to make a story, I’d make my FM save my story!

Career.JPG


It’s been a long ride as you can see but now I’m just about to return to the big time. I’ve got the job at Schalke. They want champ’s league football. They want excitement and they want trophies so here we go! Sit back and let me bring the story to you!

Also, if anyone is interested, here is my previous FM story: https://fm-base.co.uk/threads/a-country-needs-you.159974/
 

RaySunshine

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Here is my starting line-up plan for the start of the season. I’ll give you a little run-through of the team I’m starting with.

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De Florio (In £27.5m) The 22yo keeper has had one season at Saints but wanted to leave for first team football and I took him to give the place between the sticks – 4 gold star potential.

Passlack He’s the must-have RB and I have him – need I say more?

Bella-Kotchap Joined the team in 2022 and been a vital part of the side ever since.

Retsos The 6’1 Grek CB has been commanding the back line since 2024.

Vagnonman The German LB hasn’t been a regular starter anywhere for 3 years but here’s his chance to shine.

Chevalier (In loan £10mil option) The Liverpool wonderkid is here on loan with a £10m option to buy if we like.

Lepenant Got to Germany from France via Newcastle – regular starter for 3 seasons.

Chevallier One ‘L’ apart from the other – looking to build on 7 goals and 2 assists from last time round.

Da Silva Had a 7.21 starting season – looking to make just as good this time through.

Groothusen Another one from Newcastle; looking to improve on 6 goals and 2 assists last season.

Wenzl The £49m man scored 15 in his debut season for the club – looking for more this year.
 

RaySunshine

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Fixtures.JPG

The big August game has to be the league opener away at Wolfsburg. We’re also expected to win the Euro Cup II so we’d best start well there too.

08.08.27, DFB-Pokal, Eichstatt
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My Schalke reign begins with an unexpected 20 yard thunderbolt from LB Vagnonman. From there on, it was a cup smash of a smaller side. Let’s hope we take this form into our league opener.

14.08.27, Bundesliga, Wolfsburg
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It looked like it was going to be all-square. Both sides had had chances in a tight game. However, at the death, ‘Cucho’ Hernandez grabbed the three points for us. Sign of a good team perhaps?

19.08.27, Euro Cup II, Vitesse
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This was the Passlack show. A belting cross set up the first goal and then he scored the pen for the second. Sets us up well for the second leg.

22.08.27, Budesliga, Hannover
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A beauty of a through-ball from Grootheusen sets up Wenzel who slots home. His first goal of the season gives us the three points

26.08.27, Euro Cup II, Vitesse
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We were poor in the first half and struggled in at 1-1. After the break, we turned the style on though. Each goal was a belter and puts us in a group with Sheriff Tiraspol, Crusaders and Trabzonspor

29.08.27, Bundesliga, Koln
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We were poor in this game. Koln were in control but couldn’t really create or finish. A push on Wenzel gave us the pen that Passlack converted.

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So we finish the month with 3 wins out 3 and no league goals conceded; so far, so good. The question is can we keep it going? To help us with that, I’ve signed 27yo Diego Lainez from Dynamo Kyvi. The 4* left winger should provide some good competition on both flanks and will hopefully give us a bit of a spark going forwards. Here we go…
 

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The biggest September game has to be the 2nd v 3rd tie with Berlin. Then we have winnable games against Frankfurt and Mainz. Both the Euro Cup II games should be wins even with the planned rotated sides. Let’s see how we get on!

11.09.27, Bundesliga, Hertha Berlin
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We dominated this match with new signing Lainez impressing with some mazy runs. In the end, it was a 20 yard thunderbolt from Lepenant that separated the teams. 8 wins in row (going back to before I arrived) gives me a new record for the club.

16.09.27, Euro Cup II, Sheriff
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They came to put up the barricades and made the game really hard. Even so, our rotated squad managed to break through. A fierce strike from LM Okafor and a set-piece header from CB Gonzalez give us the three points.

19.09.27, Budesliga, Frankfurt
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Aaaaaaargh – total domination, missed a penalty and they score their pen in the 93rd minute. Just been FM’d lol!

25.09.27, Bundesliga, Mainz
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Also not great; we underperformed struggling to get hold of the ball or create anything of note so we were lucky to get the draw. And to top it off, Lainez was injured and faces 6-7 weeks out not good news!

30.09.27, Euro Cup II, Crusaders
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This was a game of two halves. In the first the rotated squad was poor and we came in at 1-1. A few stern words followed and the usual 20 yard thunderbolts got us a secure win in the second half!

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So the month ends and we’ve slipped slightly. It’s been tough but we’re still in those key top 4 spots. We haven’t played that well this month it has to said and there are a few grumbles in the squad about who did and didn’t make it into the Euro Cup II squad. On top of that, Lainez is injured too. Not the best month ever I think!
 

Crayth

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Well done mate, keep it up! Looks like you've had a crazy career!
 

RaySunshine

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Thanks for the message Crayth. You're right - it's all been pretty crazy and this season is no different!

Fixtures.JPG
Just a straight-forward month eh?! This is a seriously tough one with a lot of hefty away games for us to face. And all of this has to be done without our key signing. Thankfully, we kept Grootheusen so he can resume his place from last season. Fingers crossed!

03.10.27, Bundesliga, Freiburg
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It doesn’t start well. Our keeper dallies on the ball and has it taken off his feet and put into the back of the net. Let’s hope this doesn’t start to become a run.

16.10.27, Bundesliga, Munich
2 Bayern M.JPG
As I’m sure you can imagine, Munich isn’t a place to go when you’re out of form. We were firmly outplayed and our last-minute goal was no more than a consolation. We have to shake this run off quick or this might be a short story!

21.10.27, Euro Cup II, Trabzonspor
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But it’s another disaster of a result! 3-0 and totally outplayed means we could be serious trouble pretty soon!

24.10.27, Bundesliga, Stuttgart
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At last, something of a turn around. The traditional team meeting led to a better result. Getting this win was vital and now we hope that we can build a bit of form on this. The squad still aren’t happy though and I think this could continue to be a problem.

27.10.27, DFB-Pokal, Bochum
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FM’d take 2 – lost to a last minute goal to have us smashed out the cup. Things feel like they’re plummeting fast here.


30.10.27, Bundesliga, Augsburg
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0-0, opposition team in 17th, would like to give a positive shine but …

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Not the greatest of months it has to be said and the job is looking pretty insecure! Who knows where I’ll be finishing this save! On the other hand, we are still at the business end of the table so perhaps next month will be kinder?!
 

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RaySunshine

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November doesn’t look like it’s going to be any kinder than October was. We have to turn around our record against some big sides. We need to get points this month or we’re going to be in serious trouble. August was sunny but so long ago now!

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04.11.27, Euro Cup II, Trabzonspor
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A good performance. Chevailer (who had been struggling for form) sent in a beauty of a cross for Groothuesen to smash home. We get the three points but morale still doesn’t lift. I get the impression this lot don’t like me much!

07.11.27, Bundesliga, Bayer
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Here we get a stunning result. We were 2-0 up in what felt like no time. The first goal was a beauty – smashed in off the bar on a volley from 20 – 25 yards out. The second was a belting effort from just inside the box. Their goal was scored off a mazy run from the halfway line. We had to work hard but it was a vital win and the morale arrows have all turned green!

This makes our first back-to-back league wins since August/September. Hopefully, this will give us a good base to build on with the mighty Dortmund up next in the league.

25.11.27, Euro Cup II, Tiraspol
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The reserves are out for this one and they didn’t bring their shooting boots! 70% possession and 36 shots only lead to one goal but we’re out the group stage safely.

28.11.27, Bundesliga, Dortmund
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Result of the season so far! 4th v 5th, Derby rivals, Passlack scoring against his old club; this game had it all. Vitally, we’re now 4 points clear. Come on December!

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Well it’s been a much better month than I expected. We’ve finished the month in the top 4 and have some points in hand on Dortmund. It’s been nice to see some smiles in the camp again and so we power on to finish the first half of the season.
 
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No month is easy and December gives us a game against the table-topping Leipzig and Europe-chasing Hoffenhiem. We’ve got to set ourselves up strong for the second half of the season. Let’s go!

03.12.27, Bundesliga, Leipzig
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Things are improving! A tough game but our back line was solid and I’ll definitely take a 0-0 draw!

09.12.27, Euro Cup II, Crusaders
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Well we found our shooting boots at HT. A hattrick for Wenzel means he may win a place back for the league games to see how he gets on.

12.12.27, Bundesliga, M'gladbach
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This was a dull and frustrating draw. There was very little of note and it was doubly-frustrating as Dortmund had already lost so we could really have cleared a gap between them.

17.12.27
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This was a costly defeat – we’ve slipped out of 4th place ahead of the winter break which isn’t good news. But it is only by one point. We’re going to have to make that back in the second half of the season.

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So at the turn year of the year we’ve slipped out of the champ’s league places. However, we’re only a point behind and, if I can bring a striker in, hopefully we can overturn that and get that fourth spot ourselves.
 
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RaySunshine

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I think the January is the sort of month where we really have to make our mark. We’re facing two top-half teams and two bottom-half teams and every game could be seen as winnable. Beating Wolfsburg is vital as they’re chasing us in 6th place.

02.02.28, Friendly, Al-Sadd
1 Al Sadd.JPG
Well the warm-up wasn’t stunning. We had more of the ball and more shots but we’ve got to find someone that will bring shooting boots. I got an offer for Jovic accepted by Madrid but he was so uninterested that he wouldn’t even enter contract talks.

15.01.28, Bundesliga, Bremmen
2 Werder.JPG
Leading CB Bella-Kotchap had decided to head to China just before this game with his min. fee release clause activated. So now we’re searching for goals and a CB! The game was notable for Lainez’s first major contribution – sending the cross in for the first goal.

18.01.28, Bundesliga, Wolfsburg
3 Wolfs.JPG
Well it looks like the goals have come. We broke the club transfer record to sign 21yo striker Meszaros from Villa and he’s already delivering the goods – getting a goal and an assist in a game where Wolfsburg didn’t even get a shot on goal. Even better, we’ve taken back 4th place!

21.02.28, Bundesliga, Hannover
4 96.JPG
It definitely looks like we’ve bought the goals! Meszaros gets a long ball by the right post, goalie and a defender are on the line but he slots it through them like they’re not there – a stunning finish!

29.01.28, Bundesliga, Koln
5 Koln.JPG
Game 3 – more goals! Meszaros appears more and more the bargain. Two goals and two assists sees the wonderkid walk off with a rating of 9.6 and another man-of-the-match. I think this kid could get us over the line you know!

Table.JPG
So we finish the month in 4th. 7 points up from 5th and 5 points down from 3rd. It’s just incredible to see what this good month has done. The impact of Meszaros has simply been awesome. Come on Schalke!
 
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Line-up.JPG

Team Update
Coming to the end of the January transfer window, I thought I’d give an update on the team so far. Here are the changes to the side that lined up for the first game of the season.

Gonzalez Following the departure of Bella-Kotchap, I’d initially tried to sign Luiz Felipe now at Spurs. However I wasn’t going to part with £52m for a 30yo so the wonderkid from OL has stepped into the breach and seems to be doing well.

Weigl The 32yo from Olympiakos was injured at the start of the season but he has since stepped up to marshal the midfield.

Diatta The 28yo’s good form since getting a few starts earlier in the season has meant that the position is his for now.

Eggestein He has been a regular in the side since joining in 2021. At the start of the season, I felt that Da Silva had edged it but since then, he has won his place back and kept it.

Lainez The superstar signing has had a bit of a stop-start introduction due to injury and form. However, he now seems to be laying down a marker for getting and keeping his place in the side.

Meszaros The man, the myth, the legend. Can I say more?! He’s got 4 goals and 3 assists within his first three games. I hope he’s the spark that will lift us into those vital top 4 places.
 

RaySunshine

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Fixtures.JPG

February is another month that could have a big reckoning on how our season goes. The teams we face are all between 7th and 14th. We really need to prove we’re better than these teams to get us some slack before we face the bigger sides. But I’m hopeful; we‘re in good form and I just hope that we can make the most of it.


04.02.28, Bundesliga, Berlin
1 HB.JPG
This was a frustrating draw but it could have been worse. We dominated the chances but they scored first. As the game came to a close, I thought it was all over until Da Silva slotted home from a beautiful passing move. Dortmund won so 7 becomes 5 in terms of the gap.

11.02.28, Bundesliga, Frankfurt
2 Frankfurt.JPG
The goal machine is back! He beats the offside trap, brings the keeper off his line and then smashes the ball across him and into the back of the net. Goal 5 makes Meszaros our top scorer in the league after just 5 games!

19.02.28, Bundesliga, Mainz
3 Mainz.JPG
This was the Diatta show – his first strike in particular was a beauty. He ran to the right-hand corner of the box and then curled the ball away from the keeper and in from 17 yards. Even better, Dortmund lost and we’re now 8 – repeat 8 – points clear! 11 games to go…

26.02.28, Bundesliga, Freiburg
4 Freiburg.JPG
Freiburg set up with the intention of making this a non-game and totally succeeded. We created the odd half-chance but couldn’t take them. I hope no other side was watching this and sees a way of nullifying our play.

Table.JPG
So, with ten games to go, we still have that 8 point gap. I think it’s going to be tough though as, within those games, we have to face all the big boys. In our first set of games against the top 6, we got 7 points. Can we get something like that again to secure our top 4 place? Let’s see!
 

RaySunshine

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Fixtures.JPG

Each month just seems to ramp up the intensity now. The obvious league game is Bayern at home. I just hope we can show more than we did away. We also have the not-so-simple task of Besiktas in Europe. I’m going to be putting a first-team side out as beating them gets us into the QF and I want a trophy. I hope the squad can take it!


04.03.28, Bundesliga, Bayern
1 Munich.JPG
Game 1 of the month is a result I didn’t dare dream of. I set us up with a cautious mentality to be hard to beat but two late goals means we come away with all the points. 3 out of the 8 points I want to get from the big 6 are bagged!

09.03.28, Euro Cup II, Besiktas
2 Besk.JPG
I took the risk of putting the first team out here as I hoped that we’d get a big win and could safely play the reserves in the second leg. As it was, we dominated the game and created loads of chances but didn’t score a thing. The first team will have to play again.


12.03.28, Bundesliga, Stuttgart
3 Stutt.JPG
Another tough, tight game and another draw. We’re still 6 points clear with 8 games to go…

16.03.28, Euro Cup II, Besiktas
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It might have been late but everything I’d hoped we’d do in the first leg we did at least manage in the second. We stormed out the blocks early and this game was never in doubt. Club Brugge are up next. And all of this was done without Cezsaros who’d picked up a groin strain injury so is out for few days.

19.03.28, Bundesliga, Augsburg
1587576150438.png
Another game, another 0-0 draw. This trend is not looking good. Now, this time, we didn’t have Cezsaros on the pitch. He should be back for the next game so let’s see if we can get the goal machine back up and running.

Table.JPG


It's getting close, it's getting tight, cross your fingers and here we go!​
 

RaySunshine

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Fixtures.JPG

Bayer, Dortmund, Leipzig, this month is no easy task either - as you can see! We still in the running for 4th place and we have a serious shot a silverware so we just have to keep going!

01.04.28, Bundesliga, Bayer
1 Bayer.JPG
This was a tight game that could have gone either way. It was Bayer though who showed more of a cutting edge and claimed the points with two second-half goals. It’s doubly-frustrating as two of the goals were poor individual errors on our part. Only 1 point separates us from Dortmund now. Squeaky-*** time approaches…


06.04.28, Euro Cup II QF, Brugge
2 Bruges.JPG
It wasn’t the demolition that I’d hoped for but Ceszaros popped up with his first European goals for the club to give us a secure lead into the second leg. I won’t risk a complete reserve side but I think I can make a few swaps without sweating too much!


09.04.28, Bundesliga, Berlin
3 Berlin.JPG
It wasn’t pretty but it was a win. The goals were a scrappy corner and a penalty but it marks our first league post-Europe this year. We will face Italian side Atlanta in the semi's.

13.04.28, Euro Cup II QF, Brugge
4 Bruges.JPG
With the Dortmund game coming up next, I put out a second string here (bar the centre-halves) in the end and it nearly cost me. Brugge got two second-half goals that took us into extra-time. I thought the game was going to go to penalties but, in the last minute of injury-time in extra time, Chevalier picked the ball up from 25 yards out and smashed a beauty into the corner to save the tie! Atlanta will be the team we face in the semi's.

15.04.28, Bundesliga, Dortmund
5 Bor.JPG
What a game! Our backline were on their knees playing Thursday/Saturday but they fought through and blocked anything Dortmund could throw at us. I thought we were heading for a draw and was ready to take that as a positive result when a stunning cross by Lainez found Diatta at the far post and we snatched the goal. In the 92nd minute, there were heroics at the other end when Passlack headed a superb corner off the line. We’re now three points clear of Hoffenhiem who climb up to 5th. Four games to go!

23.04.28, Bundesliga, Leipzig
6 RBL.JPG
If beating Dortmund was a dream come true, this was the nightmare to go with it! We were shambolically poor – the worst performance of the season by far. This was not helped by having Gonzalez out on a yellow card ban and Passlack injured. We’re now level on points with Hoff and have lost all but one of our goal difference advantage. I’ll have no nails left soon…

27.04.28, Euro Cup II SF, Atlanta
7 Atlan.JPG
This was a good game. We controlled it well and came away with one foot in the final. The highlight of the match was a beauty of a free kick scored by second RB Brahmann.

Three games to go, ahead only on goal difference, I'll be through the nails and chewing on bone before this season comes to an end!
 

RaySunshine

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01.05.28, Bundesliga, M'gladbach
1 mglad.JPG

Another 0-0 draw! We’ve had four 0-0 draws since January although it feels like many more. I think these could really cost us at the end of the season as they were all winnable games. Still, we’re one point ahead of the other two teams. Two games …

04.05.28, Euro Cup II, Atlanta
2 atlanta.JPG

You know I said that the Leipzig game was bad. Well, this was a whole new level of bad! First, Weigel gives away the ball in the box for their first goal and then gets sent off for a silly tackle on the halfway line. Gonzalez then joins in the fun – he gives the ball away in the centre circle and stands and watches their striker run away and score. With ten men, we just imploded in extra time. Disaster!


08.05.28, Bundesliga, Hoffenheim
3 hoff.JPG

Another … nil … nil! I can’t fault my team this time though. Their keeper was an absolute brick wall. We’re now a point behind Dortmund. One more game to go…



13.05,28, Bundesliga, Werder
4 Werder.JPG

Well it’s probably our best performance since the Bayern game – Lainez’s goal was particularly good. But, alas, it’s too little, too late. Dortmund win and 4th spot is theirs. So near yet so far eh?

Table.JPG
So this is how we finish - just a point off the 4th spot and our season's aim. We'll have to see how the board take things and whether my regin at Schalke will continue or not!
 
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RaySunshine

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All I can say at the moment is it hasn’t been a good summer here. At the end of the season the board told me they were incredibly disappointed in my leadership of the team and my rating dropped to an F. I had to agree to 10 points from the first 5 games to keep my job.

I then tried to escape to either Man City or Spurs but neither wanted me in the end so season planning started quite late as I didn’t really want to be here. But, come the start of July, I decided I was staying put so I’d best get on with it. I’ll give you a run-through of the transfers and then the aims for the season.

Out2.JPG

The outs were mostly clearing out deadwood. Chevallier and Okafor were good for coming off the bench or playing in the Euro Cup II but I couldn’t really turn down hard cash for them – especially for Chevallier who made it quite clear he wanted to leave. The Appiah one was odd – he had a £30mil release clause but the board accepted a £7mil bid saying the clause had been met. It’s out of my hands but he only sat on the bench so I’m not too worried. I will need a replacement bench keeper though.

In2.JPG

So that brings in the 36yo Ryan. The former Brighton keeper has travelled around a bit with spells at Brighton, Norwich and SPAL since 2019. He was available on a free and is quite happy to be the back-up so all good hopefully. His trophies in Asia/ Oceania seem to be impressing everyone too.

Maresic was available from Man U for about half his value. I swept down to bring him in as he rates higher than either of our current CBs. Also, Retsos, who came to lead the backline from Jan, has said he wants off at the end of the season.

That’s the in’s so far… but there is one more fire in the iron…
 

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Well the club have reduced the aim from Champ’s league to Euro League which makes life easier for me. But I also start the season with the fact that I have to get 10 points from the first 5 games to keep my job. Second knock-out round for the Euro Cup doesn’t sound too hard but the semis of the DFB could be harder to achieve.

Pre-season.JPG
There was nothing really of note to report here. Winning the Schalke Shield was nice having withstood a battering from Man City to nick it on penalties. Neither signing was here to get much game time. A few youth players did well so hopefully we’ll meet that part of the vision by giving them a few minutes in the season.
 
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Well it won’t be an easy start, that’s for sure. We will have to beat Mainz and Hamburg and then get a result against 2 of the top 6 from last season to get the required 10 points in 5 games. I think I’ll be getting some surveys done on the house pretty soon!

04.08.28, DFB-Pokal, Regensburg
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We get the season off to a winning start. This moves us on to the next round of the cup which is good news. Let’s hope that it kicks the season off to a good month.


12.08.20, Bundesliga, Bayer
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Wow – what a result. I thought we’d be lucky to win this game. I certainly didn’t expect to be 3-0 up inside 15 minutes and to win the game 4-0. We tore Bayer apart. Diatta was stunning and Meszaros played well too.

We also made that new signing. We smashed not just the club record but the German record to get AP Schneider from Lyon form £70mil. I’m hoping the 23yo can give us the spark we lacked at times last season.

3 points earned. Now I’ve just got to get 7 from the next 4 games.


19.08.20, Bundesliga, Mainz
3 Mainz.JPG

Not like this though. We struggle in to the game but, as it progresses, I think we’re at least on for a point. Then, in the 78th minute, they grab a goal from a scrappy corner.

We’re in trouble. We now can’t lose a game…

26.08.28, Bundesliga, Hamburg
4 ham.JPG

We dominate but we don’t score enough. They get one scrappy corner and the points are shared. Hamburg didn’t even have a shot on target.

4 points earned – two games to go. Both must-wins to get the 6 points I need.
 

RaySunshine

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10.09.28, Bundesliga, Hoffenheim
1 Hoff.JPG

We had a few knocks prior to this game but we came through. The goal-machine did the job we needed him to do.



One more league game, one more win…



14.09.28, Europa League, Fiorentina
2 Fio.JPG

A heavily-rotated side draw 0-0. That’s fine here but it won’t be good enough in the next game.



18.09.28, Bundesliga, Leipzig
3 RBL.JPG

But 0-0 is what we get. Normally it would be enough but it stops the road here. My time at Schalke has come to an end.
 

RaySunshine

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Once I'd lost the Schalke job, I decided that I really wanted a job where I could compete for silverware and be in European competition - preferably the Champ's League. So, as you can see, I decided to play the long game. But it was worth it in the end!

December 2028

Applied – Arsenal

Interview - Arsenal



January 2029

Fail – Arsenal - Shevchenko



June 2029

Applied – Atletio Madrid



July 2029

Fail - Atletico Madrid - Klopp



Jan 2030

Applied – Napoli




Feb 2030

Got – Napoli!!!

Well I’m back in Italy with 8th place Napoli. The minimum aim for the club is get in the Europa League this season. But the vision is get into the Champs League from next season onwards. There’s also unfinished business for me and the Euro Cup II. I want to grab that blighter this time round.
 

RaySunshine

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Aims.JPG

So these are our aims. We have to get Europa League football so need to finish the season at least two places higher up than we are at the moment. As far as the Euro Cup II goes, I was really annoyed to miss out on it last season so I'm doubly keen to grab it this time around! Bonjourno Italia!

Now I'll give you a run-through of my first XI for my reign of the Bay of Naples.

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Strakosha The 34yo Albanian has spent the last 9 seasons keeping goal in Dortmund – and doing it well. He’s moved to Italy and is continuing his fine form.

Dodo The Brazilian RB joined Napoli in 2021 and has been first-choice for the role pretty much ever since.

Varnier The Italian joined the club from Atlanta in 2022 and has played most CB games since then.

Corbo The BPD wants out to get continental football elsewhere. Let’s get it ourselves and keep him here.

Cucurella Part of the vision here is to keep first-teamers in place and you can see this. Cucurella has had the role since 2022.

De Martino And this is the new kid on the block. He joined in the summer for £18mil. Looks OK.

Odair But this lad looks special. The Brazilian wonderkid could be something amazing if he fulfils his potential.

Tomas The lad is currently on loan from Hoffenheim but joins in the summer for £33mil.

Sagman The Argentinian has been a regular in the side since joining from Racing Club in 2023.

Iwobi The former Arsenal and Everton man has been impressing in his first season in Italy.

Loaiza The young Columbian has 10 goals this season. Let’s see what he finishes up with.
 
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