Championship Predictions & Championship Betting Tips

What if... One-club men lived forever

The year is 2017. Top scientists have finally cracked the ability to stop ageing, and the world rejoices. The discovery prompts an immediate FIFA investigation into exactly what this means for world football from now on. How will the careers come and go when every team can just preserve their best stars? How will the next Messi break through? The Qatar FA suggest restricting it to only Qatari players, a motion that's only narrowly defeated. In unrelated news, a bunch of mysterious Qatari bank accounts are seized the day before the vote. Eventually, a compromise is decided upon between. Only those players who’ve proven themselves to be in it for the sport, and their team, can use it. The players who have stuck with their team through thick and thin, who’ve turned down bigger money offers to stay where they are. One-Club Men. However, should their loyalty ever waiver, and they choose to leave, those players will lose their right to an everlasting career, and have to face the advance years once again. Who will remain loyal the longest? Who will ride out the lowest of lows to stay at their lifelong club?
Unfortunately for those of you hoping I’ve found a secret miracle, that’s just the best nonsense I could come up with to frame this scenario. In less dramatic terms, using FM 2017, I'm going to select 50 one-club men from the top 5 leagues and de-age them to around 22. Every 5 years I'll de-age them down to 22 again, unless they abandon their loyalty. I'll also be adjusting everyone's contract to expire in 2020 to make it equal, and undoing international retirements where necessary. Nothing overly complicated, but I’m expecting this one to run a long long time if I’m going to have everyone leave, so I’m good with it not being too complicated.
Reddit side note! It's me again. Some may remember my experiments from ages ago. I'm back and writing again, but as you can probably tell, with a new name and website. If you want to see this post with much better formatting, all the images, and everyone's profile at the end, go here to read it in full: link You can stay here if you prefer though!
So who actually qualifies for this? I've restricted it to players from the Top 5 leagues of England, Italy, Spain, Germany and France, and only included those that have been at their clubs the longest. As well as the genuine candidates like Messi and Totti, loaned out players like Lahm qualify, as do those like Iniesta who haven't left in FM 2017, and even those that have left in-game, but are known for their careers at one club. Buffon is a good example of the latter. I've included a link to an image with all 5 players here: link
With all this loyalty around, I wanted to mix it up a bit by adding in one final player. Someone completely opposite to everyone picked so far, the anti-one-club man, the journeyman of all journeymen. And after some research, I came up with the perfect candidate. Sebastián Abreu, a man who in his career has played at an impressive 29 different teams in 11 different countries, setting a Guinness world record along the way. Abreu will receive the same treatment as the loyal players, except it won’t stop when he moves team. I want him to move around more, spread his wings, see how many teams he can collect over an illustrious career.
That’s enough explaining for now. Should be pretty clear what’s going on, just a bunch of footballers never getting old. Time to get things rolling and see who eliminates themselves. Who can stick it out the longest, who will become THE one-club man?

2016/17

With our younger one club men unleashed on the world, many of them attract instant attention from new clubs. For a while it stays quiet and looks like the first transfer window may pass without incident. Only a few loans crop up... until Javi López because the first man to fall. With Espanyol not meeting his standards, he makes a £2.4M trip down the coast to join Valencia. He proves to be the only summer casualty by the time the window slams shut.
January brings the winter window, and the Premier League clubs start to sniff around, ready to throw bags of cash at unsuspecting players. It doesn’t take long before the next two players are reeled in by money and lose their eternal youth. First Marcel Schmelzer in a £20.5M move to Liverpool, followed by Bruno joining moneybags Man City. By the end of the window, Nacho also heads to the north of England, joining rivals Man United. I’m not sure if any of them have realised how damn cold it is up there. That window swiftly ends, settling the bottom 4 finishers in the competition.
Returning to the world of actual football results briefly, and there aren’t many shocks to be seen. Man City finish 6th, Everton get relegated and Borussia Mönchengladbach reach the Champions League Semi-Finals. A few players see their team relegated, as Werder Bremen, Caen and Freiburg go down, so there could be a few casualties once that disappointment has set in. But all in all, the footballing world has coped just fine.
Loyal Players Remaining: 46
Abreu Club Count: 23 clubs in 10 countries
Odd Winners: None

2017/18

With everyone’s transfer budgets warmed up, it doesn’t take long for the action to get back underway. The previous season has barely finished before Chris Solly trades in his morals for a Premier League move to Norwich. Sergio Álvarez joins him in England, making the slightly odd move to Bournemouth before a big £52M move sees Koke trade loyalty for a big move to Man City. That’s the most surprising move so far, as I expected many of the players at top clubs to stick around. The final two transfers of the window take us to sunny Spain, where both Xabi Prieto and Mario become massive glory hunters, trading in their life long clubs for Atletico Madrid and Barcelona respectively. Javi López, having left Espanyol to join Valencia last year, immediately realises his mistake and rejoins Espanyol. It’s too little too late though, his status as a one-club man is already ruined.
The winter window comes and goes without even a hint of action, so things may already be starting to quieten down. Over in Brazil, Sebastián Abreu has his contract with Bangu come to an end after a good season but fails to attract any new suitors before the European season ends.
Around the world, things keep ticking on relatively normally. Watford take a surprising FA Cup win despite finishing rock bottom of the league, meaning they’ll have European nights alongside their Championship campaign. The loyalty of Seube, Höfler and Bargfrede is rewarded, as Caen, Bremen and Freiburg are immediately promoted back to the top tier. Las Palmas head in the opposite direction, which causes David García to hand in an immediate transfer request. The Spaniard could very well be the next player to go.
Loyal Players Remaining: 41
Abreu Club Count: 23 clubs in 10 countries
Odd Winners: Watford (FA Cup)

2018/19

My suggestion that things may be quietening down is immediately disproved by the biggest move so far. Bayern Munich legend Philipp Lahm makes a huge £82M transfer to Manchester City, throwing away all he’d built up at Bayern so far. But it doesn't end there, as 2 more huge transfers are finalised right after. First Claudio Marchisio drops Juventus, clearly not happy with them losing the title to AC Milan, and moves to Real Madrid. Then Daniele De Rossi trades in Roma for Barcelona. Whilst both have moved in real life, I didn’t expect either to fall so early in this, being icons at such huge clubs. A little later, David García makes his predicted move away from relegated Las Palmas, opting to stay in Spain with Osasuna. And then on the final day of the window, one last move. David Zurutuza decides the Premier League is more to his taste and joins Noble at West Ham. Javi López continues his tour of Spain, realising rejoining Espanyol doesn’t earn him back everlasting youth, and so heads to Sevilla instead. Currently, he’s moved around more than the specific journeyman player I chose to actually move around. Talking of, Abreu does find a new contract, heading back to Uruguay to join River Plate Montevideo.
The winter transfer window is again mostly quiet, with very little potential action. There are still some transfers though, as Robin Knoche becomes the 15th person out, heading to Borussia Dortmund. Then a legend moves on, as Iker Casillas decides that barely getting any game time behind Keylor Navas isn’t worth it, and so joins Monaco for a mere £11M. I guess you can't escape the real world after all.
The summer of 2018 means a World Cup, a tournament which regularly creates bizarre results in Football Manager. This year is no exception, as the likes of Italy, Belgium and Argentina fall in the group stages, before South Korea beat both Germany and France in the knockouts. The final between Brazil and Croatia proves 100% less heartbreaking than the real 2018 final for the Croatians, as they become champions of the world. In domestic football, Man United take all the English trophies on offer in a Quadruple, whilst Freiburg find themselves relegated yet again, as do Montpellier.
Loyal Players Remaining: 34
Abreu Club Count: 24 clubs in 10 countries
Odd Winners: Croatia (World Cup)

2019/20

Another season, another transfer window, another set of swirling rumours around our one-club men. Borussia Dortmund manage to steal away another of our competitors from a German rival, taking Timo Horn early in the window. Having been relegated yet again last season, Nicolas Höfler decides enough is enough and leaves Freiburg for Hertha Berlin. Over in Italy, and Chievo Legend Sergio Pellissier finally caves, leaving his relegation-threatened lifelong team for European battlers Fiorentina. But that's all the entertainment I can offer, no big signings this time around I’m afraid. Let's go see what Javi López is up to instead. His merry-go-round of clubs continues yet again, moving over to Deportivo de La Coruña in the latest of his ever-decreasing value of transfers.
January retains its typical bleak and dull atmosphere, with no sign of action whatsoever until the final day of the window. Hugo Mallo decides to try and add to his trophy cabinet and heads to Man United. Not the worst career move to throw away eternal life for considering their dominance right now. And with his departure, the total number of players that we've lost hits a nice round 20.
In the Premier League, Man United claim their 4th title in a row, exerting total dominance over everyone. But where one dominance rises, another falls, with Dortmund claiming the Bundesliga to knock Bayern off their perch. The shock of the season comes in the Coupe de France, where 3rd tier LB Châteauroux knock out Lyon, Auxerre and PSG before falling to Caen in the semi-finals. With Monaco having fallen to 4th tier SA Spinalien, Caen beat an easier opposition of RC Lens in the final, leading to Seube lifting the teams first-ever Coupe de France. Not bad for a player I expected to never lift a trophy. On a less joyous note, Höfler having left relegated Freiburg, sees his new team Hertha relegated immediately too. It seems there is no escaping the 2. Bundesliga!
On the record front, Gianluigi Buffon sets a huge benchmark, breaking the 200 cap mark for Italy. With no-one else close to him, he’ll stay the leader for a long time. Messi also breaks a boundary, climbing through 400 league goals during his career at Barcelona. Like Buffon, he’s way clear of any competitor, and unless a miracle happens that sees him abandon Barcelona, I can’t see anyone catching him soon.
Loyal Players Remaining: 30
Abreu Club Count: 24 clubs in 10 countries
Odd Winners: Caen (Coupe de France)

2020/21

2020 arrives, and with it, two important points arrive too. Firstly, everyone gets de-aged for the first time in this experiment. The 20 that have left get to watch from a distance thinking about what could have been. Second, the initial contracts are set to expire, so anyone that hasn’t re-signed will out the door. Which is exactly what happens to Víctor Valdés. Having barely appeared for Barcelona since his return, he leaves the club on a free and heads to the southern French coast to join Marseille. A day later and someone else leaves France, as Romain Danzé who decides one de-ageing is enough and moves to Schalke. Tony Hibbert also struggled for games at Everton despite his new youthful look, and so he walks out the door. He opts for Aston Villa, who to my great surprise have sunk to a mid-table League 1 team. Feeling left out, Spain joins in, with Oier Sanjurjo departing Osasuna and moving to Villarreal. The window is then capped by a bizarre final free transfer. Despite appearing regularly, Xavi isn’t offered a new contract by Barcelona. Man City can’t quite believe their luck and snap up the Spanish wizard a few days before the window shuts.
Winter brings with it just one transfer in its usual action-heavy way. Roberto Torres leaves Osasuna, making a £35.5M switch to Atletico. I’m not sure whether Atletico thought they were getting a different de-aged Torres because that can only be described as an overpayment. Either way, that means we've now lost over half the competitors.
Euro 2020 passes, and Croatia prove their World Cup victory was no fluke, becoming both champions of the World, and champions of Europe. On the Continental front, things have been fairly predictable so far, at least until this years Europa League. Hoffenheim escape a tough group and go all the way to win the entire thing. Not bad for a team that barely qualified in the first place. Oh, and Messi wins a little thing called the Ballon d’Or for the 10th time. I think he’s only just getting started.
Loyal Players Remaining: 24
Abreu Club Count: 24 clubs in 10 countries
Odd Winners: Hoffenheim (Europa League)

2021/22

The 21/22 season begins with two transfers on the first day. Loïc Perrin makes his way to the Premier League to join Leicester. But that's a minor splash compared to the other move, as after 768 appearances and 302 goals, Francesco Totti leaves Roma. It seems wrong to see it, but he’ll now be wearing a Man United kit. Dortmund continue their run of stealing loyalty, this time bringing Tony Jantschke into the fold. Another contract is run to the end, forcing Álex Bergantiños out of Deportivo without much choice, before being picked up by Cagliari. Mikel González opts to end his time at Real Sociedad, joining Pellissier over at Fiorentina. And as August comes to a close, it looks like Totti may be the only big departure. That is until Gianluigi Buffon decides to call time on his Juventus career. It’s an odd move, with the legend going sorta sideways from a regular starting Juventus spot to Bayern Munich. But there’s no going back now, as his 636 league appearance career with the Italians comes to a close. Two legends down in one window.
No season is complete without a single winter signing to warrant an entire separate paragraph, and this season is no different. Sergi Roberto moves away from Barcelona, in a £24M move to French giants PSG. A good way to guarantee yourself plenty of titles I guess. Abreu also makes a winter move, adding Guarani in the Brasilian second tier to his collection.
Roberto’s decision proves to be a good one, as PSG go on to claim their 10th one in a row. Not many surprises elsewhere, although Real Oviedo get close to pulling off a shock in the Copa del Rey. The second tier team beat Osasuna, Barcelona and Sevilla on the way to the final, but ultimately Real Madrid prove a step too far. Elsewhere everything is won by a team you’d probably expect. Exciting stuff.
Loyal Players Remaining: 17
Abreu Club Count: 25 clubs in 10 countries
Odd Winners: None

2022/23

With the pool of players rapidly decreasing, very few of the crew are even wanted by other clubs anymore. Perhaps deterred by their steadfast loyalty? A few moves do still happen though, so we’re not dead yet. Firstly Anthony Lopes gets fed up of PSG dominating his league and moves to AC Milan for a better shot at a trophy. It’s not long before that story is forgotten, as the biggest transfer fee in the competition so far is dropped. Andrés Iniesta is stolen away from Barcelona, in a huge £86M move to Man United. The midfield maestro fell 2 appearances short of 600 league games for Barcelona, but with his new £300K per-week contract it’s not hard to guess why. That proves to be all the action for the summer window, with no-one willing to top that huge move.
After half a season of hearing their noisy neighbours gloating about their star signing, Man City snap. And if there’s one thing City are good at, it’s splashing the cash. In probably the easiest negotiation over fee Barcelona has ever had, Sergio Busquets makes a £95M move to the sky blues. Yeh, that’ll show United. Once again no-one wants to get in the middle of the awkward Manchester squabble, and the winter transfer closes with a whimper.
The second World Cup of this experiment comes and goes. This time all the giants make it safely through the Group Stages, but it’s Africa that really excels. Morocco make the knockouts, Egypt battle through to the Quarter Finals, but Nigeria come out best. They beat South Korea and Argentina before falling valiantly to France in the Semi-Finals. A 1-0 victory of Italy does see them finish in an impressive 3rd place, becoming the first African team to finish in the top 3 of the World Cup. France win the title on penalties after a deceivingly action-filled 0-0 draw with Spain. The domestic scene follows that with a similar lack of real shocks. In the Carabao Cup, Bournemouth beat Arsenal, Chelsea and Man United on the way to lifting the trophy. But it’s the lesser Cup, so outside of Bournemouth no-one really cares. PSG finally have their grip on the Ligue 1 broken, as Casillas leads Monaco to a fantastic title. Otherwise, all the league titles and cups fall to teams you’d expect them too. Another thrilling year.
Loyal Players Remaining: 14
Abreu Club Count: 25 clubs in 10 countries
Odd Winners: Bournemouth (Carabao Cup)

2023/24

Literally nothing happens. Thomas Kessler decides that no team can ignore his existence for 20 seasons in a row and get away with it, leaving Köln to join Trabzonspor. So as I said, literally nothing happens. Even Javi López moving to yet another club would be more interesting than that.
The same applies to the footballing season. Asides from Casillas captaining Monaco to a Champions League title, or Atletico winning the title again, exactly 10 years after their last win, everything is frustratingly normal. And even those two events are hardly shocks.
Before I start to lose hope, there are a few interesting moves over the last few years from the losing group that are worth highlighting. First season mover Bruno didn’t make the impact he hoped and found himself moving to the lovely Stoke. Robin Knoche barely received any playtime at Dortmund and found himself cast out to Dinamo Zagreb. Even in League 1, Tony Hibbert could barely get any game time at Villa and so moved on the Scunthorpe in League 2. But the winner of the oddest move has to be Zurutuza, who somehow manage to pull off a move to Liverpool after West Ham found themselves relegated, only make a few disappointing performances, before being released on a free to join Al-Arabi in Qatar. Not quite the career he was anticipating when joining the Premier League I bet.
Loyal Players Remaining: 13
Abreu Club Count: 25 clubs in 10 countries
Odd Winners: None

2024/25

The summer transfer window arrives for another season, and with it finally comes a huge deal! Javi López has found yet another club! Hooray! As for actual competitors, absolutely no movement whatsoever. Even from Abreu, who’s been at Guarani for 2.5 years now. Manceau, Lewington and Seube complain to their managers about playing time or relegation, but none of them actually make a move anywhere. So our final 13 will add another 5 years onto their career length.
There are some fun statistics from our 51 worth mentioning at this point. Buffon leads the way with both total league appearances (935) and international caps (259). His caps are at a point where they’re too high for the game to display, as the value is stored as an unsigned 8-bit integer, and so has rolled over to just show 3. Most appearances for a single club goes to Dean Lewington however, who thanks to being a regular sits at 857 league appearances for the MK Dons (or 889 if you include Wimbledon). In the goals department, the winner is obvious. With almost 500 league goals, 100 international goals and 14 Ballon d’Or awards, Messi sits on top of everyone. On the international scene, he’s run close by Müller and the fast-approaching Kane, but for league goals, it’s not even close.
2024 brings with it a Euro tournament, which doesn’t provide much in the way of surprises, but brings with it some exciting high scoring matches. All ending in a 4-3 victory for a Thomas Müller led Germany over neighbours Netherlands. Which I’m sure went down very well. The domestic scene decides to spring a few shocks though. In Serie A, Roma claim an impressive title thanks to main striker Iheanacho, their first since 2001. The German and French cups provide surprise winners, in the form of Hertha Berlin and Dijon. Both cap an impressive run by beating their respective league winners, Bayern and Monaco. Even the continental tournaments turn up too. First Monaco cement their place as a top power in football by winning their second Champions League in a row. That coming a week after the best win there could possibly be. Tottenham win the Europa League! Screw the other stuff, that last part is all I need!
Loyal Players Remaining: 13
Abreu Club Count: 25 clubs in 10 countries
Odd Winners: Dijon (Coupe de France), Hertha Berlin (DFB Pokal)

At this point though it’s fair to say that the competition results are more interesting than the movements of the players. Which is the perfect signal that things need to speed up a little bit. So from now on, updates will be every 5 years, which lines up perfectly with player age resets, letting us see who has made it to the next checkpoint.

2025-2030

Another round of de-ageing hits, and you’d think that would incite some interest in our final 13. Instead, it’s a ghost town. We do have an immediate dropout though, as Nicolas Seube finally gets fed up with his lack of playtime at Caen and heads for Panionios in Greece. A year later the situation is repeated. I’m not entirely sure what his unhappiness was about, but Iker Muniain decides he’s had enough of Athletic Club and moves to Hamburger SV. At least he left on exactly 100 goals for Athletic though, a nice round number. With 11 left, a standoff to reach the top 10 ensues. For 3 years no-one budges in their show of loyalty, until in 2029… Dean Lewington leaves for Derby County on a free. It’s a huge move, with Lewington becoming the first man to break through 1000 league appearances for a single club before leaving. But he’s moved on now, and it won’t be long before that record is broken. That move means we’re left with our final 10 contestants. Terry, Iraola, Messi, Susaeta, Noble, Jourdren, Müller, Kane, Manceau and Bargfrede have secured a top 10 spot, and now all that’s left to do is fight it out for number 1.
Over in Brazil, our anti-one-club man continues his journey, although it remains in Brazil for the moment. Only 2 clubs are added to his count, with a long stay at Atletico Goianiense followed by a £2M move to top tier Coritiba. I’m kind of hoping he starts to make enough waves in the Brazilian league to move to Europe and add some new countries to his history.
Those that fell before the first de-ageing are retiring, finishing off their magnificent, or in some cases very un-magnificent, careers (as losers). Javi López finishes his fine anti-loyalty tour around Spain with 7 transfers to his name. Schmelzer, Nacho, Solly, Álvarez, Koke, Mario, Prieto, Marchisio, De Rossi, David García, Zurutuza, Knoche, Höfler, Pellissier, Mallo, Horn and Hibbert end their careers. Many, such as Nacho, Horn and De Rossi stay just as committed to their new clubs as they did their old, finishing out their careers after just a single transfer. Of the pensioners, Sergio Pellissier manages to rack up the most career league appearances and goals, at 894 and 246, although that’s largely thanks to a huge head start. De Rossi dominates on the international scene, earning a whopping 197 caps over his 30-year career. Naturally, all those records will be blown out the water once the next group start retiring, but it’s nice to have some benchmarks.
Around the world, plenty has gone on worth hearing about. The Netherlands claim their first-ever World Cup win, beating Brazil in the final, whilst in the Euro’s Germany win their second tournament in a row. The Gold Cup throws up a few interesting results too, as first, the Mexico B team win it, with their A team tied up in the Confederations Cup. Then 4 years later Canada take the title, only the second time in their history. Over in Italy, Lazio find themselves relegated as the league starts to shake itself up a bit. But other than that, domestic football remains relatively unspectacular. Oh except… TOTTENHAM WINNING THE LEAGUE. Didn’t even have to reset it and we won it before Arsenal did. North London is very much Lilywhite now, suck it Gooners!
Loyal Players Remaining: 10
Abreu Club Count: 27 clubs in 10 countries
Odd Winners: Tottenham (Premier League)

2030-2035

Another 5 years pass and to start with it looks like the top 10 are going to hold firm. Eventually though, the temptation of money proves too much for one man. That man is Geoffrey Jourdren who trades in his starting slot at Montpellier for a cosy backup contract at PSG. Then comes… dead silence. Not even a rumour, or an unhappy player. No-one even hints at leaving for the next 4 years, which means we end the period with nine players on the books. The real waiting game has begun. Even our journeyman Abreu is moving in a very slow way, as a five year Coritiba stint finishes with a free transfer to Red Bull Brasil. I think my hopes for a European move have died.
At least there are a lot of retirements to run through. Bruno, Lahm, Casillas, Valdés, Danzé, Oier, Xavi, Torres, Perrin, Jantschke, Bergantiños, González, Roberto, Iniesta and Busquets hang up their playing boots. That does leave us without some noted legends, with Lahm, Casillas, Iniesta and Busquets reaching 200 caps for their country. You’d think Spain would have won more with that golden generation. Casillas and Xavi also both hit 1000 league appearances thanks to a strong head start before the experiment. But it’s Andrés Iniesta who is the most loyal of the bunch, racking up nearly 600 appearances for his original club before departing.
Five years leaves plenty of time for interesting results once again. England take a World Cup win, which is always a sign of the apocalypse, only made more bizarre by Scotland making the semi-finals in the same competition. Portugal take the other title in that period, whilst the Euros also see a surprise winner in Switzerland. France provides the biggest shock at club level, as Lille come from nowhere to win Ligue 1, and then immediately revert back to mid-table once again. Otherwise, the time belongs to Manchester City. The oil bar… sky blues take 4 out of 5 titles in both the Premier League and Champions League, with all that cash flinging finally paying off.
Loyal Players Remaining: 9
Abreu Club Count: 28 clubs in 10 countries
Odd Winners: England (World Cup), Lille (Ligue 1)

2035-40

With just nine players left, once again we get a transfer fairly early on in the period. Early as in the first transfer window, which makes me wonder why they waited so long. Anyway, Mark Noble has had his patience tested by West Ham’s yoyoing between the Premier League and Championship a bit too much and finally caves. He makes a £20M move to Burnley, who… are doing the exact same thing. Not sure that was the brightest idea. Like the previous 5 years though, one transfer is all we get. None of the others move, despite some pretty heavy unhappiness from Bargfrede and Manceau. Abreu keeps up his trail, running out his contract with Red Bull Brasil and opting for Chapecoense to reach 29 clubs in his career.
With very few moving recently, that also means less and less are retiring, as just 7 ex-competitors leave the game. Totti, Buffon, Lopes, Kessler, Seube, Muniain and Lewington call time on their football life. The fact they all stuck with it for so long means there’s so impressive stats between them. Totti racked up 1154 league appearances, with 768 at Roma. Dean Lewington, after leaving MK Dons with 1003 appearances finished with a total of 1287. Italian legend Gianluigi Buffon finished with a whopping 1307 league appearances, but perhaps more impressively, 334 international caps. But the single most surprising statistic goes to Thomas Kessler. Despite barely playing in Germany he manages to notch a grand total of 7 goals after his move to Turkey. Maybe if he’d been a striker he’d have actually played at Koln. Oh and Seube ends his career Greek. Because why not.
As per every time, a quick look around the world’s results is needed. Spain win back the World Cup titles, whilst Italy take a Euro win. Argentina, Mexico and Australia claim all their continents international trophies in the window, so no massive surprises there. The domestic world isn’t exactly littered with shocks either. Brescia win a Coppa Italia, and Nîmes Olympique grab 4 top 5 finishes in a row in France, but there’s not really much to shout about. I think it’s best to just get on with the next de-ageing.
Loyal Players Remaining: 8
Abreu Club Count: 29 clubs in 10 countries
Odd Winners: Brescia (Coppa Italia)

2040-45

Down to 8 now, so it’s getting tougher. And a lot slower, so slow in fact that not a single transfer in our group happens in five years. For a moment I was excited to see Manceau at Recreativo de Huelva, but that was just a loan. So I was back to being crushed. On the plus side, Abreu makes some huge steps. He adds not just 1, but 2 new countries to his history! The first is Portugal, in a huge step up to join Braga. As usual, it’s just until his contract ends, before he moves on to Frankfurt in the Bundesliga. He’s hardly setting Europe alight but I don’t care, he’s actually moving!
There’s only one retiree to talk about too, as pretty much everyone has already gone. Geoffrey Jourdren finishes up with 925 total league appearances. It probably could have been a bit more, if he’d not spent 10 years of his career being a backup at PSG and Bayern. On a far more interesting note, Terry breaks through 1500 career league appearances. Kane also hits 256 international goals, which results in the number resetting to 0 just like caps. So the game has him on 96 caps with 11 goals, when the actual numbers are a stunning 352 caps with 267 goals.
Having seen my disappointment last time around, the world decides to liven things up. Denmark become both Champions of the World and Champions of Europe in 2042 and 2040, although they lose the European title to Germany 4 years later. At the continental level, the Champions League stays on track, but the Europa League brings some bizarre winners into the mix. Nîmes Olympique, Real Sociedad, Leicester and Bristol City all win a trophy. It seems Mark Noble finally made a right move transferring to Bristol City, as the club is now a strong top 6 Premier League side. Manceau wins a Coupe de France at Angers, but it’s still Nîmes making waves, forming a big three with PSG and Monaco. It may not be long before either Nîmes or Bristol City win their league, which is not something I expected to be saying.
Loyal Players Remaining: 8
Abreu Club Count: 31 clubs in 12 countries
Odd Winners: Nîmes Olympique/Bristol City (Europa League), Angers (Coupe de France)

2045-50

2045 kicks off and once again Manceau deceives me. This time it’s a loan spell in Denmark with Brøndby that had me thinking he was gone. Well you know what they say, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice… I’m probably gonna fall for it. It looks like there’s going to be no moves whatsoever once again, until June 2047 arrives and I notice a contract is set to expire. Imagine my shock when Lionel Messi is not offered a contract by Barcelona and is let go. It’s made doubly worse by the fact that of all teams to pick him up, it's Atletico Madrid. Apparently, 37 Ballon d’Or awards aren’t good enough for Barcelona anymore. I don’t even care that nothing else happens. That’s enough to stun me.
Over in the retirement home, Mark Noble moves into a room. After an up and down career, the Englishman did manage some silverware with Bristol City and ended his career with 1317 league appearances. He even earned not just 1, but 90 England caps across his 44-year career.
Around the world, interesting results are still cropping up. England grab their third World Cup win beating Colombia, whilst Honduras win their first-ever Gold Cup. Much to my bitter disappointment, Arsenal win 4 of the 5 Champions Leagues on offer, as well as 3 Premier League titles. Chelsea have a period of bottom 10 finishes which deeply upsets Terry, whilst over in France, Chamois Niortais begin to try and join the top 3. Don’t worry I’ve never heard of them either.
Loyal Players Remaining: 7
Abreu Club Count: 32 clubs in 12 countries
Odd Winners: Honduras (Gold Cup)

2050-55

With the world still reeling at the fact the Messi has moved from Barcelona, everyone kinda forgets to make any moves. In fact, Messi is the first person to move yet again, leaving Atletico in a very cheap 34.5M move to Man City. Which is more in line with where I originally expected him to go. Abreu finishes one contract, at Hapoel Be’er Sheva, and moves onto the next, but it’s with Monterrey so doesn’t count. Sebastian, it has to be new clubs. John Terry is starting to get frustrated with a Chelsea team that has really fallen from grace. The Londoners barely survive relegation in 2052/53, so Terry may be the next to go. Or maybe I know nothing and it’s completely random.
No-one retires this year, so let’s take a brief look at some statistics of our remaining 7 + Messi. All our players have now reached 1000 appearances, with Bargfrede in last at 1173. Messi has crossed 1000 league goals, now a full 300 clear of the chasing pack of Abreu and Kane. On the international level, Thomas Müller becomes the first player to need a rollover of caps twice, moving on to a massive 524 international caps. But it’s Kane who still leads the international goal stat, nearly breaking 350, a full 50 ahead of the German.
Müller does, however, grab a World Cup win for Germany so I’m sure he won’t be too upset. At least until they’re deposed by Holland 4 years later. On the continental level, Bristol City win another Europa League title beating previous champions Espanyol. Middlesbrough also nearly earn a trophy, having joined Bristol as a top 6 team. But the winner of the biggest shock, although I did say this might happen, goes to Chamois Niortais, who topple the dominance of PSG and Monaco to capture a miraculous Ligue 1 title in the last season of the period.
Loyal Players Remaining: 7
Abreu Club Count: 32 clubs in 12 countries
Odd Winners: Chamois Niortais (Ligue 1), Bristol City/Espanyol (Europa League)

2055-60

The summer window of 2055 opens and as I warned may happen, there’s an almost immediate transfer. Fed up with Chelsea’s mediocre finishes, John Terry decides to move on. Unfortunately for Chelsea fans, Arsenal is his next club, which I’m sure will cause a few shudders. A year later and another move comes around, once again due to unhappiness over the club’s performance. Surprisingly it's Thomas Müller,who's annoyed by the fact that Bayern haven’t won a Bundesliga title since 2048, and so runs down his contract. Leverkusen almost earn his signature, but eventually its the glory of PSG that proves too much to resist. But we’re not done there! Another player runs down their contract, opting to move to Vitoria de Setubal in Portugal. Vincent Manceau finally makes a real move rather than constantly faking me out. So with another 3 players down, we’re left with our final 4. The race for the top 3 is hotting up now!
We do have a retirement this time thanks to the transfer window livening up. The world's best-ever player, Lionel Messi, retires from football. He ends up on a total of 1858 league appearances, scoring a massive 1068 goals in this time. 1430 appearances and 895 goals of those belonging to his 45-year career at Barcelona. On the international scene, he earned an impressive 505 caps and 276 goals. But it’s the awards where he shines. 279 individual awards, 82 team titles, 22 league titles, 6 Champions League titles, 45 Ballon d’Or awards. What makes it even crazier is 41 of those Ballon d’Or awards were in a row, as he earned every single one from 2015 to 2056. I don’t think I’ll see another player like that crop up in any save, truly the world’s best player.
Looking out on the world, I can say that it’s a Chamois Niortais player that breaks Messi’s streak, as the French team claim another two Ligue 1 titles. It’s hard to say they’re a “surprise winner” at this point. Bristol City finally make the full step up to join the big guns, winning 3 Carabao Cups, 1 FA Cup, 2 Premier League titles and even a Champions League trophy. If any Bristol City fans want this save to give themselves hope over the future, I can send it over. Internationally it's the era of Portugal, as they claim both the Euro and World Cup trophies.
Loyal Players Remaining: 4
Abreu Club Count: 32 clubs in 12 countries
Odd Winners: Bristol City (Premier League/Champions League), Lyon (Relegation)

With so few players left, now is probably a good time to speed it up once again. The final four will be tough to budge, so how about we move to 10-year intervals to try and cut down on dead years. And I'll be moving to the comments, because I've hit reddits character limit.
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Big Ron Revisited - part 4

1984-85...let’s pick back up in the summer of 1984, shortly after an unsuccessful title bid and last minute semi final heartbreak in Turin. Bryan Robson was courted by Juventus but it was Ray Wilkins who moved to AC Milan for £1.5 million, meaning that Big Norm sometimes shifted back into midfield and Mark Hughes became a regular starter. Big Ron spent the proceeds of Wilkins’ sale on Gordon Strachan from Aberdeen for £495,000 and Jesper Olsen from Ajax for £350,000, both to play on the wings, plus Alan Brazil from Spurs for £625,000 to sit in the treatment room.
Stapleton was injured so Brazil started and Strachan scored a penalty on his debut at home to Watford, but United continued their habit of throwing points away by allowing the Hornets to equalise in the last minute, although apparently they deserved a draw. 1st day line up: Bailey; Duxbury, Moran, Hogg, Albiston; Strachan, Moses, Robson, Olsen; Hughes, Brazil (sub, Whiteside). A goalless draw at the Dell followed before Hughes scored his first of the season at Portman Road in a 1-1 draw, although United again squandered the lead and the injured Brazil was withdrawn for Whiteside to claim his place in the side. The next match was another 1-1 draw, at home to Chelsea, with Olsen the scorer before conceding yet another second half equaliser. Four draws on the spin, after leading at half time in three, represented a slow start, but this was addressed by a 5-0 thrashing of the Geordies at home and 3-0 at Coventry, Robson and Whiteside (2) scoring their first of the season. In preparation for the home clash with lfc, Ron’s team easily beat a team from Hungary in the UEFA cup, which led to a 5-2 aggregate win, including a goal for Brazil..
The clash against the red scousers sounds like a stalemate, before Strachan was brought down and he converted from the spot in front of the travelling hoards. Olsen came close shortly afterward and Robson nearly doubled the lead with a great effort. However the trend of the season continued as lfc burgled an equaliser after 73 minutes, meaning that United had now dropped 8 points from winning positions after just 8 games. The Times noted that United had not been at full strength so far, because Stapleton was missing, plus Moran came off injured, which left Ron with a problem since McQueen and McGrath were both injured. Line up: Bailey; Duxbury, Moran (sub, Muhren), Hogg, Albiston; Strachan, Moses, Robson, Olsen, Whiteside, Hughes.
West Brom had caused Ron some problems on his previous returns to the Hawthorns. As per usual, United took the lead through Robson, also returning to his former club, but WBA equalised shortly afterwards. It was left to the flame haired Strachan to score another penalty to clinch the win for the Reds. So the first 8 games had brought 3 wins and 5 draws, which put United in fourth place, 2 points behind early leaders Spurs (!!), Forest and Arsenal. lfc made a poor start, so maybe the league would be up for grabs this season...
However, a trip to Villa Park resulted in a first defeat of the season in a 3-0 reverse, severely missing the injured Robson. Two home games against West Ham and Spurs brought a quick reaction, as West Ham were thumped 5-1 and The Times saw fit to report that “Manchester United looked the best team in the country...as they gave the most exciting performance I have seen this season”, also noting that “With Liverpool making an even slower start to the season than usual, United will never have a better chance of winning the league title.” A week later, Hughes scored a second half winner as Spurs were beaten 1-0 to leave United in third place, 5 points behind Arsenal who had won their last 5 games, 1 point behind Wednesday, and level on points with Howard Kendall’s Everton, who United would face at Goodison Park the following week.
Firstly there a was a tricky trip to Holland to face PSV Eindhoven in the second round of the UEFA Cup, which finished goalless and meant a tight game at OT in the return, with Strachan scoring from the spot in extra time after he was fouled. The game did not hit the heights of the previous season’s glamour ties against Barca and Juve, but secured an all British 3rd round match up with Dundee United before Christmas. The PSV home tie also saw the returns of Whiteside (off the bench) from injury.
The midweek efforts in Holland must have taken a toll on the team because they had a shocker at Goodison Park, as the blue scousers raced into a 3-0 half time lead and two late goals made matters even worse in a 5-0 drubbing, perhaps because Moran was subbed off at 0-2 in the first half for the returning Stapleton.
Just 3 days later at OT, Ron’s team had the chance for instant revenge in the League Cup third round against the toffees. Alan Brazil scored in the first half in front of 50,918 supporters, but Hogg gifted a penalty to the blues before half time. Stapleton came on at half time and there were chances for a winner before John Gidman, who was usually injured, headed an unfortunate own goal for his former club with just four minutes remaining.
The Times reported that the blue scousers were “emerging as unforeseen favourites for the championship...United’s own prospects, once considered so bright, have darkened dramatically in the last few days, and their first home defeat of the season will not lighten the load that is carried by their manager, Ron Atkinson. He may not be able to bear the burden much longer if the heavy Mancunian expectations are not fulfilled.”
United were given the perfect opportunity to bounce back with a televised Friday night home game against table toppers Arsenal, who had lost their previous game so the lead over United was still 5 points. The attendance was around 20,000 less than expected because the match was on TV, so United were planning to seek compensation from the FA! Captain Marvel didn’t let the low crowd stop him scoring after just six minutes, but Arsenal turned things around to lead 2-1 at half time. However, a second half blitz from ginger headed Strachan (twice) and Hughes completed a fine comeback victory to move 2 points behind the Gunners, although Everton won the next day to go 1 point clear at the top.
David Miller in The Times wrote that “After two and a half months there are no conspicuous favourites: not even United themselves, I suspect, for all their talent, for all their blisteringly attractive on-days that they contrive to efface by embarrassingly hiccuping off-days. Two defeats by Everton over four days told us perhaps more about United’s prospects between now and April than Everton’s. It must be frustrating for Ron Atkinson that the expenditure of millions on Robson, Moses, Gidman, Strachan, Brazil and Olsen has as yet brought United no closer to a chance of the title than has Howard Kendall’s astute organisation of a team costing six times less...there are moments when you think United could do with less talent and more organisation...they lack pattern. What, for example, on the midfield flanks is the role of Strachan? Are they under-exploiting Olsen? How are Brazil and Hughes intended to play off each other? Is it really the intention that Moses should get forward as much as, or even more than Robson, the goal scorer? Is anyone sure what Gidman is going to do with the ball when he overlaps? Is Gidman sure?...the departure of Wilkins seems to have had the effect of putting more defensive responsibility on Robson. I cannot help feeling that United will remain more of a good spectacle than a good bet.”
Against struggling Leicester Brazil scored in the first half and Hughes in the second, but United let the lead slip both times, before the flamed haired Scotsman scored a penalty in the last minute to secure the win and move second after Arsenal drew. Whiteside was back in the starting eleven at home to Luton, alongside Hughes, and Big Norm responded with both goals in a 2-0 victory.
Next up came a game at Roker Park that summed up United’s frustrating habit of throwing away winning positions. Robson and Hughes scored in the first 15 minutes but Sunderland pulled one back immediately and then Hughes was unfairly sent off for fighting before two ludicrous penalties prior to half time allowed Sunderland to take the lead and claim three points. This was the first of 5 defeats in 9 games, ending with a 1-0 defeat at home to Coventry, which resulted in the deficit to Everton being increased to from 3 to 8 points by 12 January 1985, after 24 games. Even worse, Spurs had a 6 point advantage over United.
United took on Dundee United in the UEFA Cup before Christmas (this is back in the day when Scottish football was not absolute garbage). United made it difficult for themselves as copper topped magician Strachan scored his seventh penalty of the season before missing loads of chances and the Tangerines equalised straight after the break. Robson immediately regained the lead and the Wee man missed a penalty before another equaliser for the Scottish visitors meant Ron had a tough task in the away leg, since Dundee United had conceded just 3 goals in 13 unbeaten European home games.
In what sounds like an entertaining second leg which contained terrible defending, Hughes took the lead before an equaliser meant that Dundee United had the away goals advantage but an own goal before half time gave Big Ron’s team the lead. However, a second half equaliser levelled the tie at 4-4, but extra time was avoided thanks to Muhren’s goal with 12 minutes remaining to triumph 5-4 on aggregate.
The FA Cup third round afforded the chance for some revenge over Bournemouth for last season’s embarrassment, at the same stage, but this time the game was at OT and resulted in a 3-0 win for United. Postponements in the league meant that the Fourth Round fixture at home to Coventry at OT was the first match just 2 weeks after Cov inflicted the damaging 1-0 win in the league, in which Robbo dislocated his shoulder when sliding off the pitch.
McGrath played in midfield in place of Robbo, and scored the opener before Hughes added a second before Cov pulled one back and United held on to advance to a fifth round tie away at Blackburn.
Back in the league, United went 10 games unbeaten, winning 7 of them, to maintain some the pressure on Everton and Spurs. Flame haired Strachan scored both goals in 2-0 home win over WBA, but more points were dropped at St James’s Park as the Geordies equalised with 10 minutes remaining.
After dealing with Blackburn 2-0 in the FA Cup fifth round (McGrath, Strachan), third placed United had a potentially season defining trilogy against Arsenal, Everton and Spurs, who made up the rest of the top four.
At Highbury, Big Norm came on for Moran after 15 minutes and scored after 31 minutes to secure a seventh win in the last eight games versus the Gunners. Realistically the match against the blue scousers at OT was a must-win for United to cut the gap at the top. An opportunity was wasted after Strachan missed an early penalty before Olsen took the lead after 37 minutes, but United allowed the toffees to equalise before half time and they could have snatched a win at the end but Bailey saved a spot kick. In a midweek game at White Hart Lane, Whiteside scored a late winner to narrow the gap at the top to 4 points, although Everton had 2 games in hand.
Returning to Europe, United were drawn against Videoton, another Hungarian team, in a quarter final not quite as glamorous as last year’s adventure against Barcelona. The first leg was at OT and it took a second half goal from Stapleton to give United a narrow lead for the second leg, in front of 35,432 supporters. There was no repeat of Robbo’s heroics due to his shoulder injury keeping him out, so Whiteside played in midfield.
In the FA Cup quarter final, the Hammers visited Old Trafford but were unable cope with Big Norm who scored a hat trick, including a penalty,in a 4-2 win to set up a semi final against lfc...
The trip to Hungary did not begin well as Videoton levelled the tie after 20 minutes from a deflected free kick. United dominated for the rest of the match, including extra time, but could not grab an away goal despite creating chances. Even the returning Robson could not find the breakthrough. The Hungarians were happy to settle for penalties and were rewarded after Stapleton and Albiston both missed but Videoton only missed one. The European journey was over for another season and it was another five years before United played in Europe again due to the ban on English clubs. Videoton reached the final and lost to Real Madrid...
The Hammers restricted Ron to 1 point at Upton Park in the league as Captain Marvel came off the bench to salvage a 2-2 draw. Luckily Everton also drew their fixture to remain the 4 point lead, but Spurs were now level at the top.
United won their next 4 games, thrashing Villa and Stoke at home and also beating Leicester, plus a brilliant win at Anfield, with Stapleton scoring the winner in a taster for the looming FA Cup semi final in a few weeks time, to be held at Goodison Park.
On 9 April ‘85 a rearranged game at Hillsborough gave United the chance to go one point behind Everton, albeit the toffees would have 3 games in hand. In the event, an early Wednesday goal dealt a huge blow to United’s title hopes, as they now just had 7 games remaining to make up a 4 point gap, but Everton had 10 games to play.
Realistically the FA Cup was the best chance of glory this season, barring a collapse from Everton (although the good news was that Spurs had taken 1 point from 3 games so they had dropped to third).
In blustery conditions at Goodison Park, United were eager to repeat their FA Cup semi final heroics of 2 years previously against Arsenal at Villa Park. United wore their red kit against lfc’s yellow, whiteside played in midfield with Robson, and Hughes partnered Stapleton up top. Whiteside had the best chance of the first half as the lfc keeper struggled in the windy conditions. In the second half both Strachan and Olsen had chances before Strachan delivered a 69th minute corner to the near post, which was flicked on by Hogg for Robson to strike home (although it actually hit Hughes on the way into the net). It looked like United were heading to Wembley but on 87 minutes a wonder goal denied United victory and the teams headed to extra time. After 98 minutes Stapleton and Hughes combined before Frank struck a deflected shot which spun into the net. United were just a minute from Wembley when the ref played on despite the linesman flagging for offside, allowing lfc to bundle home an equaliser.
Line up: Bailey; Gidman, McGrath, Hogg, Albiston; Strachan, Whiteside, Robson, Olsen; Hughes, Stapleton.
In the replay a few days later at Maine Road, United were in white with an unchanged team which had to overcome the disappointment of conceding two equalisers when they were in touching distance of the final. The team in white had the best chances before McGrath headed into his own net on 39 minutes and lfc had a glorious chance to make it 2-0 just before half time but the ball flew wide. This meant that Ron’s side would need to turn around a half time deficit just like two years ago.
Robbo had his Captain Marvel costume on underneath his kit because a couple minutes into the second half he burst forward and unleashed a left footed shot from 25 yards into the top corner to send the United fans wild. Things got better on 60 minutes when red head Strachan sent Hughes through to finish first time right footed past the keeper in front of delirious United fans. This time Ron’s team hung on, to set up a final against Everton, and there were tremendous scenes as Robbo was carried aloft on the pitch by United fans, in a repeat of the Barca game the previous year.
Back in the league, any lingering suspicions that the title race was still on were finished by a last minute defeat at Kenilworth Road and home draws against Southampton and Sunderland. There was also the traditional last day of the season defeat (5-1 to Watford) which once again meant United missed out on the runners-up spot to finish 4th, 14 points adrift of Everton, who went on a run of 16 wins and 2 draws in 18 games after Christmas, which United simply could not rival.
inconsistency and poor away form were again to blame, plus an over-reliance on Robbo. Surely money spent on Brazil would have been better invested in a direct replacement for Wilkins, who could sit in front of the back four, while Robbo charged forward. An astonishing 24 points were dropped from winning or drawing positions during the season. The 3 relegated teams, Cov, Sunderland and Stoke, all beat United during the season! There were win doubles over Spurs and Arsenal and a win at Anfield, but also careless dropped points at home to Watford, Chelsea, Sunderland again, amongst others. The obvious lack of fitness, discipline and tactical nous was evident and United seemed further away than ever from the elusive title.
However, in one off cup games, United were capable of beating anyone, especially with Robson playing, and the FA Cup final against Everton was an opportunity to win at Wembley again.
Gidman started in place of Duxbury, McGrath partnered Moran at the back, and Whiteside was in midfield. The game is famous for Kevin Moran’s sending off for reducing Peter Reid after 78 minutes with the game goalless, and Big Norm’s fabulous left footed curling winner in extra time which sealed a famous win and denied Everton the double. Robbo lifted the FA Cup for the second time and the sixth occasion for United. Line up: Bailey; Gidman, Moran, McGrath, Albiston (sub Duxbury); Strachan, Whiteside, Robson, Olsen; Hughes, Stapleton.
The FA Cup was far more significant at the time than it is in modern times, and this success for Big Ron increased expectations that he could turn his side into title winners the following season.
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I'mma head out

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The ranking of the most colourful characters in Polish football of the 21st century! Part 1/10, (91-100).

Here's the original: https://weszlo.com/2020/03/24/ranking-najbarwniejszych-postaci-xxi-wieku-91-100/
Polish football site Weszło.com made their ranking of 100 most colourful characters in polish football. I decided to translate its 1st part and, if there will be some interest in those stories, I will translate them all.
So here we go:
Polish football is full of colourful, unusual characters. Sometimes they are charismatic leaders, sometimes unforgettable heroes of anecdotes, sometimes it's just plain dickheads. Because we sit at home and get a little bored - we decided to gather all these colorful birds into one ranking. And here is a hundred of the most colourful figures of Polish football in the 21st century. What criteria did we choose? Basically - different. Sometimes we were guided by a person's influence on pop culture, sometimes by a multitude of strange stories, but also by charisma, charm or the level of an unusual CV. The most important thing is that this character is INTERESTING.
We start from the bottom and every day we will throw in a tenth from our ranking (and I will translate it from time to time ~Bartoni17). We chose the form of the ranking with the classic division into places, but remember - it's more of a form of inviting you to a discussion and an excuse to remember the dozens of anecdotes provided by our colorful characters. We realize that it is impossible to compare Bogusław Leśnodorski to Zbigniew Boniek or Jarosław Królewski and Orest Lenczyk. The whole thing is totally discretionary, but we hope that we treated the participants of the series "Polish Football" honestly. We hope that you will smile a few times. Have a nice trip and... until tomorrow!
100. WILDE-DONALD GUERRIER & EMMANUEL SARKI
An ideal kind of foreigners who come to the Polish Ekstraklasa. They raised its level? Undeniably. And at the same time they added some colour, although usually by actions which, hmm, are not MENSA references. When Wilde-Donald Guerrier came to the Wisła, he declared that faith is of great importance to him, he avoids parties and alcohol. And for a long time it was like that, until he came to know Emmanuel Sarki.
Then he turned into a demon. The Kraków's clubs "Coco" and "Frantic" became the second home of the colourful two. There were legends about their erotic conquests, some cannot count the offspring that one of them left behind after a few years in Krakow. People from Wisła clutched their heads in disbelief when Wilde-Donald confessed that he was feeding the child... with raw meat. A few months old child, let's add.
Wild Donald is the protagonist of the most absurd social media accident that happened to an Ekstraklasa footballer. He wanted to upload a picture of his jersey to Facebook, but he threw in a free photo of his cock.
NSFW
Sarki? Another incident that went down in history. In an interview for "Przeglad Sportowy" he revealed: - My great grandfather came to Nigeria from Haiti as a missionary. He died recently, at the age of 132. At the age of 132, which meant that Sarki's great-grandfather was the oldest man in human history. What's more, he beat the second oldest person by thirteen years!
To make it even more funny, Sarki was a Nigerian of blood and bone, and that great-grandfather was supposed to have Haitian roots, which would allow the player to play in the Haitian national team. In the same national team that Wilde-Donald (a hundred percent Haitian) persuaded him to play. When Sarki's call-up to the team came to Kraków, the club asked for any documents confirming Sarki's relationship with Haiti. In response, Wisła read that... the federation is not yet able to send papers. But it will soon.
Both of them were basically identical - a style for an „American rapper”, their own world, and not one by one in their heads. Guerrier had his own brand of clothing and loved cars. At one point in his life he had seven of them. Yes, at once. When one of the fans suggested under the picture of the Porsche Panamera that he should focus on playing instead of cars, he wrote briefly: - Fuck off.
Saying goodbye to the White Star, he wrote to the fan that his mother was a prostitute. He lost himself in the cars to such an extent that one day a lift trucker appeared at the Wisła training. The footballer took a few leases on him, but forgot that... they still have to be paid off.
Franz Smuda said that Sarki and Guerrier would send him to a psychiatrist. Watching the Wisła then had its peculiar charm - one of the Haitian aces was losing the ball, cameraman took a shot at Smuda, and he used his broken Polish-German-English to say the worst things to them. Once he shouted to one of them: - I'll kill you!
Guerrier told the media about Borusia Dortmund's interest, Sarki about Galatasaray. Eventually the first one went to Alanyaspor, the second one - to AEL Limassol (and today he plays in the fourth league Odra Wodzisław). Guerrier leaving, tricked his agent, Daniel Weber, who did the transfer, but... when it came to signing, DG77 flew alone so he didn't have to share the commission. Well, it's no coincidence that he got the name "Wilde" from his parents - supposedly because he's been behaving in a wild way since his first days.
99. STANISLAV LEVY
The Social One, Sultan of Olomouc, Denatured Midas. Imeprsonations in the commentaries on Weszło became classics. Probably the only coach in the Ekstraklasa, who had his club to tell him to get himself together, because a messy moustache, thinned haircut and a few days' beard were making associations for itself. And Levy himself din't look as a saint with his statements. Such as when he fainted during the match with Lech and during the live interview he admitted that he drank too little during the day.
The image of taxi driver from Mielec was making a base for incredible stories invented by our readers. Loans taken for ID of Sylwester Patejuk, Wigry 3 bicycle trips, a struggle hanging in the air, the smell of excrements, purple ragweed, dog named Scrappy, Jerzy the Dwarf pawned in a pawn shop, moonshine made from rats, a sip of Blue Paris, Sigma Olomouc's tracksuit... We don't know if there was a better series of fake stories in the history of the Internet. But we're afraid not. And We don't think it will ever happen again.
The Social One
Maybe we should drop off some classics, because there may not be a better opportunity:
When the Skoda 130L on the Olomouc registration was leaving Śląsk's stadium, many footballers breathed a sigh of relief. - He was able to criticize the team so much that I felt sorry for some boys. I understand the reprimand and sometimes I got it myself. But he would come and insult people. Coach Lenczyk was a very strict and demanding trainer, but he did not destroy people. Levy did," said Sebastian Mila. After all, they weren't footballers, they were pozoranty.
98. NICKI BILLE NIELSEN Lech Poznań boasted that they had thoroughly examined the Dane and knew everything about him. They knew this nut so well that they put him in an apartment right next to the Old Town. And it's a bit like locating a guy fighting a candy addiction between a Haribo shop and a chocolate drinker. No wonder that after Nicki Bille's transfer, the profits of the nearby pubs and fast food bars reached record levels. Kolejorz's attacker may not have left a beautiful card in statistics, but Wrocławska Street was rumbling during his stay in Poznań.
We have heard from several people from Kolejorz, that he entered the first training games like a boar in an acorn. Bombardiero, as you look at it, scored against Termalica right at the beginning of the round and... later it was only worse. A muscle injury, then a mysterious nose fracture. The official version? A collision with a colleague in training. Unofficial version - boxing sparring on the town. Psychologically overwatched before transfer Nicki had no problem with organizing a trip to the capital, drink few stronger drinks and then driving in the car around the city.
In this hooligan mode, Bille Nielsen's lifestyle was quite broad. He was interested in art, painting, movies and rather the more ambitious ones. It is only a pity that he was a weak footballer. But at least he could guarantee the show. During the official presentation on the club's website, he said that one thing he was sure of - he would never go to Legia. We immedietely thought that in his childhood, throwed darts at posters with Brychczy and Pisz. Later, he said that shooting a goal is better for him than sex, and if it went to Legia's net, it would actually be like an orgy. Well, in recent months he has been shooting so many goals in Poznan that all sport he has left he has to do at home. Nicki had even more interesting life after he left Lech. Fights, drugs, sex in public, almost shot off, threats to the doctor... Maybe he didn't become the Danish athlete of the year, but at least he had an interesting relationship at InstaStories.
97. ARKADIUSZ PIECH
As effective on the pitch as outside of it. So, once he hit the right one, and once he didn't. In 2003, he and two of his buddies beat a 45-year-old. Firstly he and his mates threw some rocks on the victim's house, and when the guy, over 20 years older than the guys, went out to chase the kids away, the three assailants beat him with the rails pulled out of a nearby fence. Piech and his colleagues explained at the Police Station that it wasn't like that, they first had a contest in throwing stones at a distance and one of them accidentally fell in the garden of a 45-year-old man. He started to get angry, caught up with three guys, and an argument was started. The cops, didn't quite believe that a man with heart disease ran after the three guys. Eventually the earlier testimony was withdrawn by the attackers, Piech himself got a sentence - 1.5 years in prison, he got out after nine months.
"Świdnica County Eagle" (he supposedly described himself as such) hit for the second time in 2014. The media circulated information that completely drunk Arkadiusz Piech (then the name given without the letters I, E, C and H) fell into the emergency room together with his injured colleague. As we read - the sniper from the Ekstraklasa did not like waiting for his turn, so he decided to take matters into his own hands. And it wasn't about changing queue numbers, but about the hit in the chin of the doctor.
We heard various stories about Świdnica. That it can pull you in, and if you can't fight, you might have not the best stories from the city. Piech not only could fight, but he liked it. He was bragging about the connections in the Świdnica crime-world, the doctor mentioned above was supposed to be intimidated with the words "you know who the fuck I am and who I know?". We cannot deny Arek the colourfulness, although it is not the colour desired by mothers with future son-in-laws.
96. PIOTR LECH
One fact is indisputable - he must love goalkeepeing. He started playing in 1986, finished... 30 years later, in 2016. In his last performance in the Ekstraklasa he was 40 years, 10 months and 28 days old. And then he played in the lower leagues for eight more years.
If you believe in stories of a large number of Polish footballers, Piotr Lech would write the most interesting biography. More a legend of changing rooms than the media he never liked. A typical representative of the old school - a relaxed approach to lifestyle, first to the atmosphere and cloakroom mockery. In his book Szamotulski writes that Lech was one of the worst players in the history of the league in terms of lifestyle. Górnik once organized a meeting with a nutritionist. He asked the players how their breakfast looked like. Lech smiled: - A cigarette and a coffe.
"Szamo" also describes another story about Lech: "He liked to play with fate. As a player in the Ruch Chorzów, he made a bet with Jacek Bednarz that he would jump over the car. What's worse, a moving car. "Benek" didn't believe it, and that's a mistake. When the accountant was going to the club with her Fiat126p, suddenly Piotr ran right in front of the hood and jumped as high as he could - at the same time pulling his legs up to his chest. The car went under him, and Lech claimed the prize.
Another time Lech made a joke on Jacek Wiśniewski, to whom he proposed before the match "something good to stimulate". He glued a ball from a piece of paper and recommended to drink it with a liter of water. „Wiśnia” without asking what it was, swallowed and drank.
After the match, friends ask: - Wiśnia, how's that?
Another show? Shooting firecrackers in the locker room. It took a few seconds of silence for Lech to enter the game, boom! He could see the victim and chase him with those firecrackers - the more fearful someone was, the more fun Lech had. Lech was also non-predictible on the pitch - he happened to hit Dariusz Wdowczyk, then Legia's coach, after a match in which, according to Lech and the whole GKS Bełchatów, the referee whistled suspiciously biased. He instructed the young ones, as Rafał Gikiewicz, for example, tells us: - Don't be a cunt! Get out from the goal, even if you make one mistake for five actions, they will still remember that you defended four!
Believe it or not - in those days Lech was a legend of many locker rooms.
95. PRZEMYSŁAW CECHERZ
We regret that we can't find the statistics of sending coaches back to the stands. Cecherz would have dominated over the rest of the stake with a lead worthy of Liverpool in the current season. Maybe only Ryszard Tarasiewicz would be able to compete with him. The author of perhaps the most famous rant of referees work at the memorable press conference after the match between Olimpia Grudziądz and Sandecja Nowy Sącz. - I don't know why. I have no idea. Maybe beacause of a weakness? Mister... In the match, show eleven cards? ELEVEN? Now, in the match, when two footballers meet with their heads, the card goes to two. And in my match only Szufryn got it. Why? Because he's weak. Can I swear? Because he's fucking weak. Or biased. Or biased... Why does he see two punishments one way and not for us? I'm asking. This is a situation that decides about a picture of a whole game. Am I afraid of those words? Sir, I'm afraid of God, no one else - Cecherz shot like a rifle.
RANT – you really don't have to understand any of this to be scared of him xD
He was also famous for the drying in the locker room. Sometimes trash cans and bottles were flying. Once at a press conference the stewards had to come to watch over furious Cecherz. He could shoot a whip over the players heads. Once, during a trip to the game, Michał Chrapek was quietly went to KFC. He tried to explain that he didn't eat anything there, that he just drank a milkshake. - I'll give you a fucking shake! You got your whole face in a coat! - Coach erupted.
94. NENAD BJELICA
Maybe he didn't leave a full trophy cabinet in Poznań, but he made the Polish ball richer with texts that have permanently entered the language of the Polish Ekstraklasa. Whoever hasn't thrown "cirkus and skandaloza" at least once, doesn't know life and sleeps head to toes.
You can say a lot about Bjelica - that the coach was not bad (maybe even very good), that he did not achieve successes in Lech, that he was sometimes impulsive. But you can't deny him one thing - he was damn expressive. When he made a thesis, he defended it until he fell. When, after Lech lost with Utrecht, he said that he was proud of the players, he teared up with everyone who dared to question the importance of this success. When he didn't like the VAR, he put on a castet for every verbal skirmish with a supporter of video-verification.
Oh, circus and skandaloza is just the top of what we remember him from. Well, because Nenad happened to complain about the weather ("the temperature wasn't perfect") or throw himself almost with his fists to the fans (lost in Szczecin, the team manager had to separate him from the visitors' sector). Referees sent him to the stands regularly – one time he teased Kibu Vicuna, Jan Urban's assistant in Śląsk. Once he said to the referee "Jebe ti mater (I fuck your mother in Croatian, as you can expect, completely understandable phrase for Polish referee), what the fuck have I done?!". He also decided that the Poznań journalists should play with Lech to one goal, and if Kolejorz reaches for the championship, then with their participation.
Bjelica's testosterone level was way above normal. And at the same time - when he cooled down and put aside his emotions - he was one of the most pleasant people in Polish football.
93. RICARDO SA PINTO
When he was signing the contract, it was not known if it will be better with Legia, but you could bet on something else - that it will be more interesting. He had a rich resume, but also a patch of the troublemaker, who can only last a few months in one place. And what a surprise - in Legia he turned out to be a troublemaker who only lasted a few months.
But even those few months were enough for him to argue with the whole world. Even with people as conflict-free as Waldemar Fornalik (!), with whom the Portuguese stood during the match to a little fight, just like with Michał Probierz. He was disturbed by everything - the church bells next to the Legia training field, which he ordered to be silenced. The advertising bands around the bench, which he willingly treated from his shoe. The pitch at Łazienkowska Street, which condition he openly criticised. The VAR system and the referees, who got the worst treatment from him at every possible opportunity.
But also the older players he kicked out of Legia without regret - Michał Pazdan, Krzysztof Mączyński or Arkadiusz Malarz. He did not even trust his co-workers and he happened to throw out Polish members of the training staff from the briefing room. He even had a fight with journalists who had been with the Legia for years and who decided to insult Sa Pinto by coming to the training camp in Portugal. The coach cut them off from everything (even the photojournalists), and when he found out that one of the newspapers had been accommodated above his room, he put the whole hotel personnel on full alert and had the insolent writers evicted. In fact, Iza Koprowiak from "PS" even couldn't ask questions at official press conferences.
In her articles we could read about the sick rules that the Portuguese introduced. Not answering the phone from the staff? A few hundred euros penalty. Distancing yourself from Warsaw by 30 kilometres? The penalty. Sa Pinto didn't even respect his assistants, who he once ordered at 11 p.m. to go to the stadium for a cosmetic bag he forgot. We don't even mention such actions as throwing muddy shoes to a warehouse worker.
And we were not at all surprised by the recording, which circulated the Internet a moment after the release of Sa Pinto from the Legia, in which Richard the Lionheart was invited out from the plane. Probably someone got a problem with him again!
92. STANISLAV SALAMOVICH CHERCHESOV
Igor Lewczuk: - In the preparatory period before the season during Cherchesov's era, the warm-up was more tiring than the main training with other coaches.
Marcin Komorowski: - It's the hardest preparation I've ever participated in, I don't think it's possible to train more.
He was able to make a dryer in the locker room after a 2:1 victory over the Zagłębie Lubin, and he was also able to pat the players on the shoulder after a defeat with Termalica and say that football is sometimes like that. He suspected Ivica Vrdoljak about simulating an injury, he said something back to him, and since Cherchesov's hierarchy in the team was clear, Cherchesov only responded to the footballer with blaclisting him from a camp where Legia was at that time.
In Legia they laughed that he train players like dogs. Stories from the football-fiction series made a sensation, in which Cherchesov with a bear on the chain rushes players to intervals. Whatever the appraisal - the attitude and way of being fit into these imaginary stories like to no other coach. Well, imagine such a story with - let's say - Jacek Magiera. It would come out comically, and with Cherchesov - even being aware of the absurdity of this story - it did not seem so abstract. There was a lot of truth in the stories about the football player puking after training with Stani. His approach to players can be summed up by the story of when, after Legia, he wanted to put Roman Pavlyuchenko into play, who had a broken arm. Cherchesov only asked: - Wait, he plays with his hands or feet?
Cherchesov with his players
He also trained journalists - just a memorable skirmish with Żelisław Żyżyński (yes, that's a Polish name) in a pre-match interview, or a classic from the conference 'gentlemen, the end of these questions, we have a plane right away'. The trainings were closed, for exceeding the allowed quarter of an hour to watch Legia trainings, journalists were to pay "a few euros penalty, because in Legia a new era began also for journalists". Bloody Stan from distant Ossetia chewed on the nails and desires of his opponents.
Bogusław Leśnodorski (one of Legia's owners at the time), who defined his role in the Legia accurately, stated that a certain group of people, under certain circumstances, needs this type of boss. Legia took a task-seeker who was to give her the crown of the Ekstaklasa twice for the centenary of the club and eventually he gave it. But in the long run it was difficult to work with him. And we're not just talking about footballers who would probably withstand a maximum of one more round with him, and then you would have to give them to Ciechocinek healt resort. Cherchesov didn't even care for club academy, which he called a "kindergarten". And this in an interview on the official Legia club website. In the same conversation, the eternally injured Mateusz Szwoch was sent to learn to play the violin.
91. JACEK WIŚNIEWSKI
When he was going out to the presentation in Górnik Zabrze, he joked that he "bumped into a crooked snout", and when the fans were taking pictures with him, he suggested, with a smile, that you have to turn the camera to make the photo come out normally. You shouldn't judge people by their appearance, but Jacek Wiśniewski's appearance... says everything about him.
A killer on pitch who played in over 200 games in the Ekstraklasa. He's talking about himself - "chopping lumberjack." In the locker room they joked that as a kid he chewed raw beef instead of gum. He was not a virtuoso, but in every club he was extremely respected. A lot about Wiśniewski is said by the situation from GKS Jastrzębie. A field clash, "Wiśniewski" on the ground, a bone breaks in his wrist. When the doctor sees this injury, he immediately reports the change on behalf of the player.
After the match, he said that he will train normally this week. Plaster? He can wear it if the referees let him run out on the pitch in it. And since the rules forbid playing with plaster, he stands on an elastic bandage. For Górnik Zabrze he was able to give back a lot. He declared that he would come to this club on his knees. We once asked if it was true that for eight years he had played in Górnik for three thousand złotys (around 600-700 euros) - No. I'm honestly saying that the last two years they raised me to five - he answered with a smile.
Do you already understand why he was the perfect material for the stand's favourite? Anyway, he was even respected by fans of opposing teams. And if not, there was a confrontation. Szczakowianka Jaworzno, a train trip to Szczecin. Train stops for a while, three Pogoń fans stand on the platform. They catch on, show Wiśniewski with a finger. The footballer, thinking little, jumps out the window and runs towards them. Three on one. The fans of Pogoń can see that it is about to get hot and soften momentarily. To get out of the situation somehow... they ask for an autograph.
They know what the fight can end with. Wiśniewski liked to fight, which he never hid. But how can you hide it if your face says you've taken a few harder punches in your life? Wiśniewski trained boxing when he was a kid. He finished when he came home with a black eye. But he came back to martial arts after his career, he performed in MMA. When before the gala he got a question about what repertoire of punches he will present, he answered with confidence: - Good fucking hit from a leg is way to go. As befits a footballer.
The interview after his first fight became a legend. "Okay, I lost, but is that what a knockout man looks like? Let's not fuck around! The referee could still let us fight!"
INTERVIEW AFTER FIGHT
He's never been a good boy. He says if it wasn't for coach Bochynek, he'd either be dead or at best landed in a jail. Friends in the business? Some of them are "cunts" for Wiśniewski and would gladly beat them up. Many times he happened to discipline other players from the team.. One of the statements about players who complain about trainings: - Well, don't let them sign contracts! Let one of them go to the mine with the other one, work for eight fucking hours! And then what will he say? "Fuck, I'm gonna go down that mine for eight hours again?" And he's only got two-fourty here, and for a lot of money! And he's still whining! I've never been fucking around!
Wiśniewski worked in the mine, so he knows how hard it is. He always said what was in his heart. Just like in another interview that went down to legend
"Wiśnia" had his undeniable charm, but he was not always brainy. This is testified to - but also about his strong character - the story from the league debut, for which ... he forgot his boots . He founded the ones that were in the cloakroom at hand, two numbers too small. Wiśniewski recalled in Przegląd Sportowy: - I was running like a duck on the pitch. During the break, I take off those damn shoes, and there is a lot of blood, it was possible to spill, on every finger, a hellish blaze.
His sloppiness was also a reason for jokes from his teammates (anecdote above with Piotr Lech in the lead role). Some time ago, we tried to arrange an interview with "Wiśnia". The details were to be determined by text.
The appointment failed.
Authors:: DAMIAN SMYK i JAKUB BIAŁEK
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Countdown to Kickoff 2020: Sporting Kansas City

Welcome to the /MLS Sporting Kansas City Countdown to Kickoff!

If you fancy a trip back in time, here are 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2015.
Many thanks to dd12939 for allowing me to steal this template.
Now on with the show!
Team Name: Sporting Kansas City Head Coach: Peter Vermes Technical Director: Brian Bliss Captain: Matt Besler Stadium: Children’s Mercy Park, Kansas City, KS Ownership: Sporting Club Mascot: Blue the Dog Kits: Primary, Secondary Supporters Groups: The Cauldron and South Stand SC Subreddit: /SportingKC USL Championship Affiliate: Swope Park Rangers Sporting KC II News and Commentary: The Blue Testament, The Full 90, Talkin' Touches Podcast, No Other Pod Twitter Follows: Andy Edwards, Chad Smith, Mike
History: • MLS Cup: 2000, 2013 • Supporters’ Shield: 2000 • US Open Cup: 2004, 2012, 2015, 2017 Coaches: • Ron Newman (1996-1999) • Bob Gansler (1999-2006) • Curt Onalfo (2006-2009) • Peter Vermes (2009-Present)
Sporting Legends: • Winger Predrag “Preki” Radosavljevic (1996-2000/2002-2005) • GK Tony Meola (1999-2004) • Coach Bob Gansler (1999-2006) • Defender Jimmy Conrad (2003-2010) • DefendeCoach Peter Vermes (2000-2002/2009-Present) • Owner Lamar Hunt (1995-2006) • Midfielder Chris Klein (1998-2005) • MidfieldeAssistant Coach Kerry Zavagnin (2000-2008/2009-Present) • Forward Mo Johnston (1996-2001)
Forward Josh Wolff (2003-2006, 2008-2010)
2020 Season Opener: Saturday, February 29 at Vancouver Whitecaps FC
2020 Home Opener: Saturday, March 7th vs. Houston Dynamo
Preseason Roster
Predicted Preferred Gameday 18: 4-3-3
-------------------Pulido------------------- --Salloi---------------------------Russell-- ------------Felipe-------Espinoza----------- --------------------Ilie-------------------- -Martins-----Besler-----Puncec-----Zusi- -------------------Melia-------------------- 
Subs: Sanchez, Barath, Dia, Kinda, Busio, Gerso, Shelton
Note: It is entirely possible Gerso starts over Salloi. That’s the only real positional battle for the opener, though.

2019 Overview

Western Conference Table
Pos. Team GP W L T GF GA GD Pts.
10 Houston Dynamo 34 12 18 4 49 59 -10 40
11 Sporting Kansas City 34 10 16 8 49 67 -18 38
12 Vancouver Whitecaps FC 34 8 16 10 37 59 -22 34
Offensive Leaders
Player Minutes Goals Assists
Felipe Gutierrez 2722 12 3
Johnny Russell 2115 9 9
Krisztian Nemeth 1559 8 2
Yohan Croizet 1091 3 2
Gianluca Busio 923 3 1
Gerso Fernandes 1749 2 6
Ilie Sanchez 2509 2 5

Season Review

Heading into 2019, expectations were sky-high for SKC fans. Fresh off of securing the top spot in the Western conference and being one half away from going to the final game of MLS Cup, Sporting returned a bunch of veterans and brought in some new players to replace and improve upon the departures. We’ll talk about the players later, but suffice to say: they didn’t. Even the most pessimistic SKC fan wouldn’t have predicted the bottom falling out quite as hard as it did in 2019, causing SKC to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2010. It seems that everything that could go wrong, did. The fact that the season started off as well as it did made the collapse all the more painful.
We began our season in CONCACAF Champions League, beginning with the toughest draw of any MLS team: Toluca. Since SKC was the lower seed, we started our campaign at home, with the second leg of the contest being at Toluca. The result? 3-0, SKC. Goals from Nemeth, Gerso, and Ilie. Nemeth looked like the goalscorer we needed at the striker position, Gerso looked like he was going to put it all together with a goal and an assist, and Ilie did this. It was as great of a result as we could have imagined, heading down to Mexico with a commanding lead and no away goals conceded. Everyone expected a cagy, defensive match where we held on for dear life and advanced. Instead, Sporting KC scored in the 8th minute and never looked back, ending the game with a 2-0 victory and heading on to the next round 5-0 on aggregate. At one point, Toluca’s own fans were mocking their team, shouting “Ole!” every time SKC completed another pass. It was hailed around the league, with articles written about the historic win and pundits calling Sporting KC potentially the best pure possession team in MLS history. It’s safe to say that the hype was very real. Next up: MLS play.
We opened our MLS campaign against LAFC, who finished third in the West in their expansion year and were widely considered to be a real contender in 2019 (and for good reason). The game took place three days after the victory in Toluca, and three days before we were scheduled to travel to Panama to take on Independiente in the next round of CCL. Peter Vermes opted to play his full first choice XI in California, wanting to fight for as many points as possible to avoid digging a hole early. It would have worked, too, if it wasn’t for a meddling Diomande, who broke the 1-1 tie in the 90+4 minute to give LAFC 3 points. It was a disappointing result, but not cause for any panic. LAFC was good, SKC was tired, all was fine. Fontas suffered a hip pointer and was subbed out, but that’s no big deal. Oh, how naive we were. We didn’t know what was coming. Next up: Independiente. We traveled down to Panama and brought a 2-1 deficit, as well as an injured Salloi, home. SKC beat Philadelphia 2-0 in the home opener, calming concerns that things were going wrong. The home leg of the Independiente contest had SKC cruise to a 3-0 win, 4-2 on aggregate, and backup striker Hurtado was hurt, undergoing knee surgery and given a 2-3 month timetable for return.
The next two games were MLS play: a 1-1 tie with Colorado made notable by former SKC striker Diego Rubio scoring the opener before Russell’s incredible free kick salvaged a draw for SKC. There was also the 7-1 home victory over Montreal. Nemeth hat trick, Busio goal, tons of fun. Unfortunately for SKC fans, that was just about the last bit of fun for a long while. Their next win wouldn’t come until the end of May against Seattle. The next CCL matchup was against Monterrey, who completely obliterated SKC to the tune of 5 goals to nil. In the first leg. The second leg wasn’t much better, with Monterrey beating SKC in KC 5-2, for an aggregate score of 10-2.
The rest of the season was very bad and I won’t spend much time on it. Two wins against Seattle was certainly nice, but there were way too many embarrassing scorelines. 1-4 against SJ, 0-3 against Atlanta, 1-5 against LAFC, 2-7 against LAG, and 0-6 against FC Dallas all stand out. I’ll get into the players, but it’s safe to say that injuries completely and utterly destroyed SKC’s season. At one point, there were 6 players healthy enough to practice. SKC earned 1 point from the 6 games they played after August to close out the season.

Players

Check out The Blue Testament’s Year in review for every player, located here!
Shoutout to major_winters_506 for their offseason roster thread here

Transfers Out

Date Player Position Action
11/19 Medranda Midfielder Removed: Picked in Expansion Draft
11/19 Zendejas GK Removed: Traded to Nashville SC
11/21 Sinovic Defender Removed: Contract Option Declined
11/21 Feilhaber Midfielder Removed: Contract Option Declined
11/21 Zelalem Midfielder Removed: Contract Option Declined
11/21 Nemeth Forward Removed: Contract Expired
11/21 Hasler Defender Removed: Contract Expired
11/21 Wallace Defender Removed: Contract Expired
Jimmy Medranda: Sporting loses another fan favorite in the expansion draft, as part of a deal including leaving Jimmy exposed and trading Zendejas to Nashville SC. Jimmy was always the heir apparent to Seth Sinovic, while also being able to fill in pretty much anywhere on the pitch. His 1v1 ability will not be forgotten, nor will his incredible goals. Unfortunately, injury really robbed him of a lot of time.
Adrian Zendejas: The three-year backup to Melia moved on in a trade with Nashville SC. He only made one appearance with the senior team, starting the 1-1 tie with FC Cincinnati.
Seth Sinovic: Seth was acquired by SKC in 2011 from the New England Revolution. Since then, he’s made 210 appearances for us before having his option declined this offseason. He was signed in free agency by the Revs. I think every SKC fan still believes that at some point before the end of the season, we’ll see Seth back on the team and winning the starting left back position. After featuring there for so long, and fighting off so many challengers, it just makes sense.
Benny Feilhaber: Another long-time SKC veteran, Benny returned this season from his stint with the Colorado Rapids while SKC was in the midst of its horrible injury crisis. He started 13 games, and gave us some life when we needed it most. Benny had his option declined and remains a free agent.
Gedion Zelalem: The extremely talented midfielder never found his footing under Vermes, only managing 5 starts for the injury-riddled SKC. His reportedly very expensive option was declined, and he was picked up by NYCFC.
Krisztian Nemeth: Oh, what could have been. Nemeth had a promising start to his second stint with SKC, scoring 7 goals in his first 11 regular season games in 2019, and 4 in CCL. Unfortunately, he would only score once the rest of the way en route to Vermes choosing to not renew his contract. Nemeth is currently without a team.
Nicolas Hasler: Hasler was signed for one year to be defensive/midfield depth, and he did just that in 2019, making 9 appearances for SKC. Hasley now plays for FC Thun of the Swiss Super League.
Rodney Wallace: Rodney Wallace was signed as wing/left back depth for 2019. He had one start, playing 27 minutes before suffering a season-ending injury. Wallace is currently without a team.

Transfers In

Date Player Position Action
11/26 Sanchez GK Added: Selected in Re-Entry Draft
12/4 Puncec Defender Added: Signed through 2021
12/9 Shelton Forward Added: Signed through 2022
12/10 Pulido Forward Added: Signed through 2023
1/10 Dia Defender Added: Signed for 2020 with options through 2022
1/13 Townsend Midfielder Added: 2020 MLS Super Draft
1/13 Kasak Defender Added: 2020 MLS Super Draft
1/23 Kinda Midfielder Added: One-Year Loan
2/4 Dick GK Loaned to USL Championship side Phoenix Rising FC for the 2020
2/14 Reid Defender Added: On loan from West Ham
Richard Sanchez: Sanchez was acquired via the re-entry draft from the Chicago Fire after making no appearances in 2019 for them. He will serve as backup to Tim Melia while Dick gets experience on loan and Pulskamp starts for SKCII.
Roberto Puncec: Puncec was out of contract after playing for HNK Rijelca in the Croatian league. He appears to be the starting right center back next to Matt Besler, starting there in every preseason match so far. Puncec has played extensively in Europe between Israel, Croatia, and the 2. Bundesliga.
Khiry Shelton: Shelton returns after a short stint with SC Paderborn, during which he rarely featured and never scored for the senior team, while suffering an injury which caused him to miss substantial time. While Shelton was injured, Paderborn earned promotion to the Bundesliga, which seems to have proved too high of a level for Shelton. Nonetheless, he’s back in KC and appears to be much improved technically, and figures to be the backup striker and potentially a feature on the wing.
Alan Pulido: The Striker that was Promised. He’s here. Sporting KC ownership finally opened their pocketbooks, spending a rumored $9.5m on the Mexican striker who won the golden boot in Liga MX’s 2019 Apertura. Pulido appears to be the perfect striker for what Vermes wants, with a high defensive workrate, combination ability, positional flexibility, and a deadly finish. Expectations are sky-high for the player who more than doubled SKC’s historical net spend.
Amadou Dia: Dia returns to SKC after a three year stint in the USL with Phoenix. He will be the backup left back behind Luis Martins.
Jaret Townsend: Hey look a draft pick!
James Kasak: Hey look another draft pick!
Gadi Kinda: I Gadi say, this guys’ name seems Kinda great for puns. Kinda was acquired on loan from Israeli club Beitar Jerusalem. He had enjoyed a breakout season in 2019, scoring 7 goals and 4 assists from midfield in 16 appearances. The Ethiopian has yet to feature for the senior Israeli national team, despite appearing for their youth teams. He was called up for EURO 2020 qualifying. Kinda appears to be midfield depth, but is sure to push for a starting spot this season. He has impressed in preseason with his runs, footwork, and work rate.
Winston Reid: The 31 year old New Zealand center back is on loan from West Ham, who he’s made 222 competitive appearances for. Reid hasn’t made a senior competitive appearance since March 2018 due to injury. With almost two years off injured, this move appears to be a gamble that he can regain his form and once again become a top defender. If he does, he will undoubtedly be cemented in the SKC backline.

Returning Players

The Vets

Roger Espinoza: A bulldog in the central midfield, Honduran international Roger Espinoza was drafted by Sporting KC in 2008. Apart from two seasons he spent in England with Wigan, Espinoza has been a mainstay in the middle of the field, playing as a box-to-box destroyer. Roger lost a chunk of 2019 to injury, and another chunk to red cards (three, tying his personal “best” and moving into the league lead for total). He also proved just how much he means to this team, as SKC went on a terrible run when he was out. As Peter Vermes continues to search for a replacement for the 33 year old, expect Roger to continue to get plenty of minutes.
Matt Besler: Drafted in 2009 by the then-Kansas City Wizards, hometown hero Matt Besler has long been a stalwart in Peter Vermes’ defense. Apart from a down year in 2016, Besler has been one of the most consistent players in recent memory, but he’s 33 years old and his contract expires at the end of the year. Could this be the last year we see Besler in an SKC uniform? He looks to be entrenched as a starter and our captain, but it’s uncertain how much longer that will last with a potentially deep CB room behind him.
Graham Zusi: Zusi has been a near-constant presence on the wing for Sporting since he was drafted in 2009, though since the beginning of 2017 he has become Peter Vermes’ go-to right back. 2019 saw him named an MLS All Star, although most believe that honor was a year too late and not quite deserved this year. Regardless, how they told him was one of the highlights of the season. Graham looks to be the starter at right back yet again, but Lindsey is gunning for his position and Zusi may not be able to hold him off for much longer. Zusi’s contract runs through 2021.
Tim Melia: The 2017 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year should need little introduction at this point, nor should his storied career move from Rochester Rhinos’ backup to MLS pool goalkeeper to his current tenure with Sporting Kansas City. While Melia, along with the rest of the backline, performed not very well in 2019, he will look to regain his top form as the starter between the sticks.

The New Core

Johnny Russell: Scottish winger Johnny Russell returns for his third year in Kansas City having made himself a favorite both on and off the field. Most often deployed as an inverted right winger, his strength and skill terrorized defenses as he contributed 9 goals and 9 assists in 28 games last season. Look for him and his pet turtle to continue to put the fear of god in defenders from the right side of the field.
Ilie: The 29-year-old Spanish midfielder is a product of the Barcelona academy and played for Barcelona B for five seasons before a short stint in 2. Bundesliga with 1860 Munich. After joining SKC in 2017, he locked down the starting defensive midfield spot, starting 67 of 68 league games over two years and becoming an essential part of the team’s midfield structure. 2019 saw Ilie start 27 games, and when he was on the field he seemed much less effective than in years past. An All-Star in 2018, Ilie will look to regain that form this year.
Felipe Gutiérrez: Chilean midfielder Felipe Gutierrez was probably the MVP of the team in 2019, scoring 12 and assisting 3. Guti was behind only Melia in minutes played, and could be found at all three midfield positions throughout the year, although Vermes obviously prefers him at the attacking midfield spot. His ability and versatility means that it’s a safe bet Guti Gang will be in contention for the most starts on the team, as well as team MVP.

Something to Prove

Andreu Fontas: Fontas, uh, didn’t exactly work out in his first year. His $1m salary was part of the reason why Ike left, and then Fontas only started 10 games, a number of which were very bad, before getting injured for several months. Once he was healthy, Vermes declined to include him in the 18, and Fontas had surgery as soon as the season was over, which will keep him out for roughly the first month of this season. It’s widely speculated that the front office plans to buy out Fontas’s contract, considering the additions of Puncec and Reid and the fact that Fontas doesn’t appear to be in Vermes’s plans even when healthy. The biggest stumbling block for that is his contract: guaranteed at $1m through 2022, it would cost $3m to buy him out and get the cap space that he takes up back. The fans want him gone, so we’ll see if the ownership continues the “injection of capital” and buys out his contract.
Botond Barath: The Hungarian center back entered 2019 as the third center back on the depth chart, but ended up starting 20 games, behind only Matt Besler. Barath wasn’t a disaster, but he certainly didn’t distinguish himself as part of Sporting’s backline. Heading into 2020 it appears that he will go back to being a third or fourth option on the depth chart, capable of stepping up when needed but unlikely to be a difference maker.
Graham Smith: The 24 year old draft pick has yet to impress for the senior team, starting 10 games and giving up 20 goals last year (including 7 to Zlatan and the Galaxy). Barring another injury disaster, Smith will likely find himself playing the whole season with SKCII, as the fifth center back on the depth chart.
Luis Martins: Brought in to replace Seth, Martins appears to have done what nobody has done before: actually replace Seth. Starting the final 9 games of the season, Martins flashed his potential on offense and appeared capable on defense. Martins will start at left back this season and will hope to provide that spark of offense on the left side that Vermes has been searching for, while improving upon 2019’s truly terrible defense.
Daniel Salloi: After leading the team in goals in 2018, Salloi suffered a pretty severe decline in production, only managing to find the back of the net once, in the second to last game of the season. By the way the team celebrated, you’d think we had just won the cup. Salloi was another player who lost time due to injury, getting hurt in CCL against Independiente. Daniel will surely look to rediscover his form this season, which should see him draw plenty of starts at left wing.
Gerso Fernandes: Gerso was another player hampered by injuries, breaking his left wrist in a game against New England. He had seized the starting role at left wing from Salloi after Daniel’s run of poor form, but wasn’t a clear-cut starter when he returned from injury. Gerso possesses speed that nobody else on the roster has, so he will definitely have a role to play. The battle between him and Salloi for the left wing remains open, and both will surely see plenty of minutes.
Eric Hurtado: Guess what happened to Hurtado in 2019? You’re right, he was injured. Sporting’s backup striker lost most of the season to injury, starting only 8 games, all after the season was pretty much over. It appears that the 29 year old will fall to third on the center forward depth chart.

The Kids

Jaylin Lindsey: After starting 6 games in 2018, Lindsey only started once for SKC in 2019. The reason? You guessed it - he got injured. Turning 20 this year, Lindsey will look to unseat Graham Zusi at right back, something that should be easy if Zusi plays as poorly as he did in 2019. Sporting a ton of personality, Lindsey is a fan-favorite and should at least get minutes rotationally, assuming he stays healthy.
Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal: Long-touted as the future of SKC’s defensive midfield, Kuzain missed his chance to get minutes with the first team by getting injured right when SKC needed players the most. Instead, he spent the entire season with SPR, often playing further ahead in the midfield than his preferred position. His passing accuracy of 88.4% shows his skill with the ball, and the 21 year old homegrown will look to have a breakout year with SKC II and potentially get minutes in the senior team’s crowded midfield.
Gianluca Busio: Sporting KC’s most promising prospect, 17-year-old Homegrown player Gianluca Busio, was the second-youngest player to ever sign an MLS contract, and is the second-youngest goal scorer in MLS history (thanks a lot, Freddy Adu). In his second full year as a professional, Busio took advantage of SKC’s injury situation by staying healthy, increasing his minutes from 153 in 2018 to 923 in 2019. While Busio occasionally looked lost, he more often did not look out of place playing with men significantly older than him. While he didn’t lock down a starting spot, Busio will look to improve on his minutes for the second consecutive year as part of a very crowded midfield.
Cameron Duke: The 11th homegrown player in SKC history, the 19 year old midfielder has been in the Sporting Academy since 2012, and has been part of the US youth national team at the U-14, U-15, U-16, and U-18 levels. Duke will almost certainly spend the entire year with SKC II.
Felipe Hernandez: Felipe Hernandez is the first player to go from a SKC Academy affiliate, to the SKC Academy, to the Swope Park Rangers and then to the first team. He’s been touted as the heir apparent to Roger Espinoza, and often looked the part while drawing tons of starts with SPR. He scored eight goals for the USL team, second only to the center forward. Hernandez has the potential to see some midfield time with the senior team, but look to see him spend the bulk of his time with SKC II
Tyler Freeman: The youngest player signed to the first team, Freeman spent the whole season fighting for minutes on a poor SPR team, starting only 12 games. The 17 year old forward will look to improve his minutes and production with SKC II this year.

2020 Preview

Things to Watch

WE GOT A STRIKER Mission accomplished. After spending years and years waiting for the ownership to open up their wallets and pay for a big-time number 9, they finally did it. And boy, did they do it. Sporting’s net spend on transfer fees heading into this offseason was approximately $4m. Alan Pulido reportedly cost $9.5m, or more than double that. If he can live up to his price tag and capitalize on the opportunities SKC regularly produces, Pulido will score a ton of goals.
What’s a defense? Unfortunately, all the goals in the world don’t mean much without a competent defense to back them up. 2019 was a horrible year for SKC’s usually stellar defense. They let in 67 goals, a mark only beaten by FC Cincinnati. Vermes has responded by bringing in two new center backs, Puncec and Reid, keeping Martins around after he started the last run of games last year, and letting everyone else get healthy over the long, long offseason. If SKC wants to be back in the postseason, the defense will have to massively, massively improve.
#PlayYourKids
The HashtagPlayYourKids movement had its ups and downs with SKC in 2019. A couple of kids missed out on opportunities due to injury, most notably Jaylin Lindsey and Wan Kuzain Wan Kamal. Busio managed to improve his MLS minutes substantially, however, and SKC fended off a couple of suitors to hold on to the extremely promising midfielder. If Vermes wants to boast one of the best academies in MLS, and he does, then he’ll have to give the kids some more time with the senior team, something he’s been criticized for not doing in the past. The players with the clearest path to minutes are Busio in the midfield and Lindsey at right back, along with Salloi at left wing, so expect to see those three to get a solid amount of time. There are seven total homegrowns on the roster, including Busio, Lindsey, Kuzain, Cameron Duke, Tyler Freeman, Felipe Hernandez, and Daniel Salloi.
Do the vets still have it? As the corollary to #PlayYourKids, SKC still has a number of older players on the team. The biggest question of this year might be “Was 2019 an aberration due to injury, or a sign of things to come for Besler, Roger, and Zusi?” While Vermes seems to be betting, at least initially, that the older guys still have what it takes, there are capable and hungry replacements waiting in the wings for them to slip up. This is likely the last window for trophies for those three all together, so they will have a strong desire to work hard and prove that they’re not completely over the hill yet.

Prognosis

There are a lot of open questions for this Sporting KC team, which means the range of outcomes is going to be wide.
Realistic Best Case Scenario Turns out, 2019 was entirely the fault of historic levels of injury! Sporting looks like the 2018 and early 2019 team, dominating with the ball, snuffing out counter-attacks, and scoring at will by committee. The team returns to the top of the Western Conference and is competitive throughout the playoffs, although not quite doing enough to win the whole thing - the roster construction isn’t quite there. The team does bring home a trophy, though, winning the USOC in a thrilling game.
Realistic Worst Case Scenario The veterans really are past it, the kids aren’t quite ready, and injuries do not stay away. The back line remains mediocre and Pulido can’t put the offense on his back. SKC misses the playoffs for the second year in a row, and calls for Peter’s job get much, much louder.
Realistic More Probable Scenario Injuries hurt in 2019, but they clearly weren’t the only problem. The defense improves from last year, but is just league average. The midfield is much better than last year, and 5 players play more than 1000 minutes, keeping everyone fresh and competitive. The front three really improves with the addition of Pulido, and SKC scores a ton of goals and is generally fun to watch. It’s enough to put SKC back in the playoffs, and even win a playoff game! Unfortunately, that’s where things end, as Sporting falls in the second round of the playoffs in a competitive game. They make a USOC run, but don’t win that either.
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I am about to post the 3000 most common words in the English lexicon. Wish me luck...

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Columns 1, X and 2 serve for average/biggest Championship betting odds offered on home team to win, draw and away team to win the Championship match. The top line of upcoming matches table (Soccer - England - Championship) lets you click-through to higher categories of Odds Portal betting odds comparison service. Best of 3 Matches. 1 st Match. 4 Games Cricket Outright Test Matches Finland T20 Premier League Cycling Outright Darts Outright Behind Closed Doors Modus League Football 0% Margin England Germany Italy Russia Spain England Premier League FA Cup Championship League 1 League 2 Spain Primera Division Segunda Division Germany Bundesliga Cup These are all predictions on the type of bet correct-scores of football's matches of today. You can access other types of bets by clicking in the appropriate boxes. Notes. Goals: both teams score at least one goal --- home score: Score at least one goal the home team --- away score: Score at least one goal the away team WinDrawWin.com - England Championship Predictions, Tips and Game Previews - Free England Championship Football Betting Predictions and Statistics Championship predictions and Championship betting tips for the 2019/20 football season. Read our Sky Bet Championship tips for the midweek fixtures and weekend games now. Betting behind closed doors: How lockdown has changed football. 2 July 2020. Since the second division of English football was founded in 1892, Manchester City and

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