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Crusaders F.C. - The European Crusade
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  1. Crusaders F.C. - The European Crusade

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    Crusaders F.C. are one of the biggest clubs in Northern Ireland, and play in the Danske Bank Premiership, the top flight of Northern Irish Football. They finished 2nd in the 2012-13 season, and have fierce local rivals in Cliftonville. Belfast Big Two Glentoran and the dominant force of 51 time league winners, Linfield, are historic rivals in the division.


    Northern Irish Honours



    • Irish League:
      • Winners (4): 1972-73, 1975-76, 1994-95, 1996-97
      • Runners-up (4): 1992-93, 1995-96, 2010-11, 2012-13
    • Irish Cup:
      • Winners (3): 1966-67, 1967-68, 2008-09
      • Runners-up (3): 1979-80, 2010-11, 2011-12
    • Irish league Cup:
      • Winners (2): 1996-97, 2011-12
      • Runners-up (5): 1986-87, 1995-96, 2007-08, 2012-13, 2013-14
    • County Antrim Shield:
      • Winners (6.): 1959-60, 1964-65, 1968-69, 1973-74, 1991-92, 2009-10
      • Runners-up (14): 1954-55, 1966-67, 1970-71, 1971-72, 1977-78, 1978-79, 1979-80, 1983-84, 1984-85, 1993-94, 1995-96, 1997-98, 2004-05, 2007-08
    • Sentanta Sports Cup (between Irish and Northern Irish clubs):
      • Winners (1): 2012


    In this story, I set out to make Crusaders a dominant force domestically, and to improve the stature of both the club and league in Europe. To manage the Northern Irish national team one day is an ambition. I chose Crusaders as it presents a much bigger challenge than Linfield, who are streets ahead of everyone else in terms of honours and infrastructure (and hopefully can join us on a European adventure in the not-to-distant future, to help further boost our UEFA standing as a league!). The challenge of taking a relatively tiny club in such a lowly ranked league into Europe and improving the standard of football in a country is massive, and one I look forward to!

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    The 4G artificial pitch used at the Crusaders' 3383 capacity Seaview stadium

    I have loaded just the English, Scottish, Northern Irish and Irish leagues for this save in order to maximise game speed while also having all the NI players possible, all English and Scottish leagues while also the Irish leagues since we will encounter them every season in the Sentanta Cup.
    Last edited by Arazar; 05/03/2014 at 11:00 PM.

  2. Good Luck mate. Look forward to seeing how you do.
    Arazar likes this.

  3. First Impressions

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    Key Players

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    These are my 3 best players, most notably the 6 times NI capped Colin Coates, who is my best player and also now club captain. The star of the side if ever there was one!

  4. Good luck mate, hope you do well.
    Arazar likes this.

  5. First impressions and preparations

    Transfers

    Being entrusted with a ?600/pw budget, I brought in 2 scouts, 1 Northern Irish and 1 English, to help identify signings. I brought in a solid left-back in Johnny Black and a defensive midfielder in Stephen McAlorum who could be the difference in games where we switch from the 4-4-2 to 4-5-1 in order to see games out.

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    First team squad

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    After a 100% win ratio from our pre-season against other NI sides, mainly confidence boosters, we were drawn against Azerbaijan side Xazar in the 1st round of the Europa League. Here's what happened:

    Crusaders v XX
    We created the better chances in the first leg, and took 2 of them to give us something to defend in Azerbaijan. We set up to be hard to beat in the away game, and nicked 2 goals to go through 4-1 on aggregate! A great start to the campaign!

    Up next...

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    We will face the Hungarian side Debrecen. With ?84k already in the bank from that 1st round win, more riches are an incentive in the 2nd round, money which dwarfs the annual TV revenue for the whole season (?50k for winning the league!). We can dream of making the group stages, where the 2 million pounds could totally transform our club.

    New updates coming soon

  6. I had a 3 season save with Crusaders, won the league every time. It wasn't easy, though! Got bored after I went pro and the league became a walk in the park.

    McCutcheon and Adamson or Owens up front (both are very good) were nothing short of amazing.
    Arazar likes this.

  7. Quote Originally Posted by Athe~ View Post
    I had a 3 season save with Crusaders, won the league every time. It wasn't easy, though! Got bored after I went pro and the league became a walk in the park.

    McCutcheon and Adamson or Owens up front (both are very good) were nothing short of amazing.
    The aim is to get the NI league on a par with some other good European leagues like the Belgian and Dutch ones, with much higher quality all round. It may take many many seasons and I don't know if I can do it on my own, I'll probably need Linfield to become a European force at some point!

    As for the Crusaders players, Coates is a great player and I signed him for rivals Linfield on a Bosman on 13! Top class

  8. I don't know if it's just me but I find N.Ireland good for regens. I've signed three 4.5/5 star potential players in my wolves save.

  9. Quote Originally Posted by ltpbfc View Post
    I don't know if it's just me but I find N.Ireland good for regens. I've signed three 4.5/5 star potential players in my wolves save.
    From what teams out of interest? FM cliche I know but they are the future, in 4-5 years time I want my squad to be full of them, and the ones that don't make it will trickle down to strengthen lower teams!

  10. Quote Originally Posted by Arazar View Post
    The aim is to get the NI league on a par with some other good European leagues like the Belgian and Dutch ones, with much higher quality all round. It may take many many seasons and I don't know if I can do it on my own, I'll probably need Linfield to become a European force at some point!

    As for the Crusaders players, Coates is a great player and I signed him for rivals Linfield on a Bosman on 13! Top class
    Coates and Robinson were crucial, great CB partnership throughout the years. In my third and final season I had an amazing cup run reaching the final 16 of the EL after kicking Roma out in the group stages (Dropped out of CL in the play-off round, sadly). I was also trying to get the NI league and NT to the top, but the fact that I was bossing the league with ease and Michael O'Neill was doing a great job with the NT and didn't get the boot killed the fun for me as I couldn't become NT manager and the league was far too easy.

  11. Quote Originally Posted by Arazar View Post
    From what teams out of interest? FM cliche I know but they are the future, in 4-5 years time I want my squad to be full of them, and the ones that don't make it will trickle down to strengthen lower teams!
    I got two from Linfield and other was from Glentoran I think. They were all relatively cheap considering their potential.

  12. I love building the anticipation;



    Big update on its way...

  13. Update - Massive Strides forward made

    Previously, we had just been drawn against Hungarians Debrecen in the 2nd Round Qualifier for the Europa League, with the first leg at home.

    The boys smashed 4 past them in the first leg, but worryingly we conceded 2 away goals. Our defensive frailties will be our undoing in Europe, but with a limited budget there isn't much I can do about that. We set up in the second leg to defend with the 4-5-1, and we managed a 1-1 to see us through to the 3rd round. Success! And another ?84k all the way to the bank!

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    Next up, we were drawn against Irish side Drogheda United in the 3rd round, in what was sure to be a Holy Sectarian War! Expect seats to be torn out and launched accross the terraces, and a pitch invasion at the end. The police will have their hands full, that's for sure.

    We parked the bus in the first leg for a 0-0, and then kept our end of the bargain with a 2-1 at home to see us through to the playoffs!

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    So another ?84k hit the bank account, but we were in with the chance of a far bigger cheque against AaB or Aalborg of Denmark in the playoffs!

    We set up to play on the counter, and we managed to win the first leg 1-0 with Jordan Owens towering in a header from a corner. In the second leg, we took our chances on the counter and saw them off 3-2 and 4-2 on aggregate. While the score flattered us, it didn't matter one bit as the prize money for winning that game and making the group stages totals ?1.2million!

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    Some good and bad news also, as Linfield made the playoffs also but were given a much harder draw against Dutch Giants AZ Alkmaar, being destroyed 8-1 on aggregate. Despite missing out on the massive payday we enjoyed for making the groups, they still would have received over ?400k in prize money for getting to the fourth round of qualifying, which is alot in Northern Irish football!

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    Unfortunately, I forgot to ask for more budget after qualifying with 2 days left of the window (Damn!) and so couldn't touch that tasty balance. Here's the roundup of summer transfers:

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    On to the groups, and we were drawn against Udinese, Zurich and APOEL Nicosia. Bring it on!

    Final group table:

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    Well, it was fun while it lasted. We lost every game apart from the two at home against the smaller clubs Zurich and APOEL Nicosia, which we drew. Its all part of the learning curve and the money gained from this cup run should help us build so we can be here again!

    As for the league fixtures, we found some consistency in what is a pretty poor league. Glentoran, Linfield, Portadown, Glenavon and our rivals (and holders) Cliftonville are the bigger teams, while the other half of the table is fairly reflective of stature also.

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    With half the season gone, we topped the table with 49 points from 23 games, just a point ahead of Portadown. With Europe no longer on the agenda this season, we can focus our attentions on a title challenge.

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    One thing about the NI football landscape is the sheer amount of fixtures in all competitions. I don't think it is designed for regular European football, so we will have to ensure we always have a large squad (quality isn't so important for domestic matches) or else they will be burnt out. The League has 38 games, and there is the Irish Cup, Irish League Cup, All-Ireland Cup and also the County Antrim Shield. which we won by defeating rivals Cliftonville in the Semis and then a second tier side in the final:

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    Financially, we have a balance of ?1.5million and expected to rise to ?3million come the end of the season (due to Europa League TV payments) which dwarfs our wage-bill and outgoings. This surplus gives us longevity, and room to expand operations.

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    With these pleasing results, our board showed great ambition by granting the expansion of both training and youth facilities, as well as improved junior coaching. Our transfer and wage budgets were also increased by a total of ?10k-a-week when all assigned to wages. This is plenty to help us achieve domestic success with one eye on equaling our Europa League run next season (where we may not get an easy ride like this season, so improvements must be made).

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    So, into the January transfer window we go, I'll be getting stuck in and delivering a full report on developments in due time!
    Last edited by Arazar; 06/03/2014 at 07:29 PM.

  14. Just a quick few things

    I've been given a budget, and while I want to strengthen, I want to be fair to the NI clubs I'll be buying from. Therefore I'll pay up front and slightly over the odds in order to help them grow as well.

    I'll be posting screenshots of all the players I sign with a few comments about each one to keep you keen readers informed!

    I'm honestly loving this save already, and it's going to be a long term one full of challenges; not just in bringing success to Crusaders FC both domestically and in Europe, but also improving the standard of Northern Irish football both at club level and on the International stage.

    Thanks for reading, and stay tuned!

  15. Wow, good start in europe mate. That prize money should come in handy!
    Arazar likes this.

  16. Quote Originally Posted by ltpbfc View Post
    Wow, good start in europe mate. That prize money should come in handy!
    As you can see from the last 5 screenshots, its already been spent! Hahaha

    Not completely, but it's gone a long way and I want to spread it across clubs in Northern Ireland, in return for some players!

    I didn't expect to reach the group stages but we really did get lucky with the draw for all of the qualifiers, we dodged some real bullets as you can see with Linfields' 8-1 defeat to AZ Alkmaar.

  17. TheFalse9's Avatar TheFalse9
    First Team
    Even though you got an easier ride than Linfield, you still faced some hard teams in the qualifiers - so it's a great achievement mate! The fact that you managed to make a profit (by spending nothing) and earn the club millions in your first season in charge is nothing short of extraordinary, congratulations!
    Arazar likes this.

  18. Quote Originally Posted by TheFalse9 View Post
    Even though you got an easier ride than Linfield, you still faced some hard teams in the qualifiers - so it's a great achievement mate! The fact that you managed to make a profit (by spending nothing) and earn the club millions in your first season in charge is nothing short of extraordinary, congratulations!
    Thanks!

    This is just the start, I'm delighted that a 3-5 year project has been completed ahead of schedule in just 1 season; since the first stage is to get hands on that Group stage money! The next stage is to try and consistently qualify for the group stages in Europe, which requires good investment both now (January) and in the summer.

    The philanthropy side of this save is brilliant, as I'll be constantly trying to build all of my league rivals with good transfer deals so they can hopefully one season gatecrash the Group stages in Europe as well, with the end game of making this NI league as reputable/well financed as some of the biggest in Europe!

  19. 2013/14 January transfers and second half

    So with a significant budget available, we got stuck into the transfer market, buying domestically. Most of these players were available on approach to sign for next season but I wanted to give our rivals a cash injection and share the Europa love!

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    Here are the guys I signed:

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    Casement cost 75k from Portadown and is a good utility player

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    Canning was 85k from Coleraine and is a right-back with good potential.

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    Birney is a young centre-half, and cost 27.5k from Glentoran.

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    Jamie Mulgrew is a NI international and adds a bit of zip to the midfield, for 40k.

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    McAllister is a 16 year old keeper with good potential, costing 20k from Warrenpoint.

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    Drummond will be the new No. 1, after joining for 20k from Coleraine. 21 year old keeper with room to grow even further.

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    Hughes is an exciting young striker, and joined from Warrenpoint for 25k.

    So this concludes the January deals, and we now have some good talent to help us become a dominant force domestically.

    Conclusion to the season

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    We defeated a second division side to win the Irish League cup! More glory for Crusaders, completing our double.

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    There was to be no domestic clean sweep however, as we lost to a relegation threatened side in the Irish Cup (equivalent of the FA Cup in England).

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    We kept up our good form to see out the season, as CHAMPIONS!

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    This means we will enter the qualifiers for the Champions League next season, I don't know how it affects our chances vs. the Europa League though due to the Champions qualification route. We finally rounded off the season with the All-Ireland Cup Final:

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    The Quadruple is done, very nearly a domestic clean sweep but for the Irish Cup, which eluded us. This season has been a great success, and hopefully our stature in the game has improved!

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    The board confirmed upgrades to the training and youth facilities, great news as we look to invest what's left of the prize money following a large spend in January!
    Last edited by Arazar; 07/03/2014 at 06:29 PM.
    coolmcool likes this.

  20. Going really well mate had a a story on here last year with Limerick from the other side of Ireland so have had a few run ins with some of the teams you play against in the All Ireland Cup, love an obscure league did 13 seasons with them and it was one of my favourite saves good luck, and KIU
    Arazar likes this.

  21. 2014/15 - Season 2 Update

    So no sooner had we returned from holidays, we were faced with Champions League qualification.

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    A fairly easy first round tie in Armenia, followed by a tough draw against Polish Champions Legia Warsaw.

    We only made 2 senior signings this summer,

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    Murray, a good right sided midfielder/striker for 95k from Portadown.

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    Burns, a NI U21 from Linfield for 125k. He plays on the left side of midfield.

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    These guys should give me the width I need to break teams down in certain games.

    On to the qualifiers and we tonked Mika of Armenia 7-0 on aggregate! They are about the standard we expect domestically, so no surprise there.

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    Onto Warsaw who have some good players, such as Marek Lewandowski but luckily he is out injured! We drew the home leg 0-0 which isn't the worst result, as we avoided conceding away goals. In the away tie we went 2-0 up and I feared for the worst when they drew level, but we saw the game out and went through with away goals! We would face the Lithuanian side Ekranas in the 3rd qualifying round

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    These ties were fairly easy, we won 5-2 on aggregate securing our place in the play-offs!

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    In the playoffs, we were for some reason seeded but unfortunately against a good side in Red Star Belgrade, the Serbian team which produced Nemanja Vidic. Their best player was Nenas Mjilias, formerly of Wolves and despite giving them a good go in both ties, they had too much for us in truth. A 90th minute winner from a corner in the away leg deflated us, and we got caught again in the 2nd leg as we chased a goal to draw the tie level. 2-0 to them it finished on aggregate, but a valiant effort from the boys!

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    All is not lost, we go into the group stages of the Europa League, and have some prize money cheques to collect

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    I was surprised at how much/many there were! I won't complain though, it can all go towards further upgrades to facilities, and the board plan for us to turn professional next season! Exciting times! As for the Europa League draw, I can only see a similar outcome to last season after being drawn against Inter Milan, Panathinaikos and Spartak Moscow but we will give it our best!

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    Last edited by Arazar; 07/03/2014 at 06:29 PM.

  22. A few more updates

    Here are the best of the youngsters to rise through the youth intake last season:

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    Full squad overview:

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    Finances:

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    European Coefficients/Rankings/Places:

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  23. Quote Originally Posted by coolmcool View Post
    Going really well mate had a a story on here last year with Limerick from the other side of Ireland so have had a few run ins with some of the teams you play against in the All Ireland Cup, love an obscure league did 13 seasons with them and it was one of my favourite saves good luck, and KIU
    Thanks mate, I'm loving it, especially now the domestic side of things is becoming easy so I can holiday the league games! 13 seasons is a good effort, hopefully I can get this one that far. If we could get 2 automatic Europe spots by then, I'd be ecstatic!

  24. Quote Originally Posted by Arazar View Post
    Thanks mate, I'm loving it, especially now the domestic side of things is becoming easy so I can holiday the league games! 13 seasons is a good effort, hopefully I can get this one that far. If we could get 2 automatic Europe spots by then, I'd be ecstatic!
    Download the instant result button for the full version of FM so you dont have to holiday and your assistant manager wont take all the glory.

  25. Quote Originally Posted by coolmcool View Post
    Download the instant result button for the full version of FM so you dont have to holiday and your assistant manager wont take all the glory.
    Why do I only learn this now! Is it steam workshop?

    EDIT: Found it now, cheers!
    Last edited by Arazar; 07/03/2014 at 06:45 PM.
    coolmcool likes this.

  26. TheFalse9's Avatar TheFalse9
    First Team
    Can you post a picture of your information screen please? I'm interested to see how far the club has progressed under your leadership.

  27. Quote Originally Posted by TheFalse9 View Post
    Can you post a picture of your information screen please? I'm interested to see how far the club has progressed under your leadership.
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    Here you go mate, those are the facilities after the upgrade was completed also. Big changes are Value (from <1million to 4.3million) and Junior Coaching which we've now got to an Excellent level. ST holders at 209 could do with some growth!

  28. Crusaders FC is the team i support. I grew up not far from Seaview and have experienced the pain of relegation and the joys of promotion with them. Will be keeping and eye on your progress. This is my first post since registration and what better way to become involved than in a post about my wee Super Crues. Or The Hatchetmen as they are also known. I have supported them for over 30 years now.

  29. Quote Originally Posted by MajikD View Post
    Crusaders FC is the team i support. I grew up not far from Seaview and have experienced the pain of relegation and the joys of promotion with them. Will be keeping and eye on your progress. This is my first post since registration and what better way to become involved than in a post about my wee Super Crues. Or The Hatchetmen as they are also known. I have supported them for over 30 years now.
    That's great to hear my friend, and welcome! Tell me, what are the main rivals, and about the All-Ireland Cup (or Gold Cup, as I think it's called in real life).

    I saw you play believe it or not, against my team (Fulham) in a Europa League qualifier at Craven Cottage a couple of years ago. Looked a decent side given the gulf between the two leagues we play in.

    As for the game, I intend to create a dynasty using young NI players from the academy and improve the league standard over many seasons. "The Crues" is most used in game but "The hatchetmen" is the more apt name given our style of play so far!

  30. January Update!

    Europa League

    So we dropped into the group stages of the Europa League after being knocked out of the CL in the Playoffs, not a bad booby prize!

    Onto our results and we managed to do the double over PAOK of Greece, and even got a point at the San Siro against Inter but unfortunately Spartak Moscow smashed us in both games and Inter beat us at home. We only missed out on the KO stages by 1 point and the 400k prize money for the 2 wins and a draw is a massive unexpected bonus!


    Crusaders F.C. - The European Crusade-crusaders-v-paok_-overview-overview.pngCrusaders F.C. - The European Crusade-spartak-moscow-v-crusaders_-overview-overview.pngCrusaders F.C. - The European Crusade-inter-v-crusaders_-overview-overview.png
    Crusaders F.C. - The European Crusade-crusaders-v-inter_-overview-overview.pngCrusaders F.C. - The European Crusade-paok-v-crusaders_-overview-overview.pngCrusaders F.C. - The European Crusade-crusaders-v-spartak-moscow_-overview-overview.png
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    Fixtures and league table

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    Our quest for domestic domination is going well so far, as we are running away with the league and won the County Antrim Shield 4-0 against our biggest rivals, Linfield. Also we won the NI League Cup 2-1 against Coleraine!


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    Transfers

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    Knowles, above, is the main purchase this January. A midfielder and good set piece taker who cost 70k from Linfield. He's a NI U21 and hopefully can improve alot in the future!



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    The two above are youngsters signed for a combined 16k from smaller clubs. They will hopefully develop into squad players in the years to come!

    I'll be posting a report upon the seasons' completion noting our progress as a club, hopefully we can win the 3 remaining competitions into which we are entered!
    Amanado likes this.

  31. Bloody hell that was a hard Europa League group to be drawn in! Good going in the league though, hows the instant result button working for ya?
    Arazar likes this.

  32. Quote Originally Posted by coolmcool View Post
    Bloody hell that was a hard Europa League group to be drawn in! Good going in the league though, hows the instant result button working for ya?
    Tell me about it! We've actually hit a rough patch just now, and I kind of regret buying the guy with 5 determination now since he refuses to be tutored!

    Other than that, very happy with how things are going and hopefully we can see the youth coming through in the next season or two for the first team.

    The button is saving me alot of time, and the assistant from getting the credit! I'm only playing Europa games and cup games vs. top division opponents.

  33. Youth candidates + League update

    Here are the league table and our latest fixtures. Still in the All-Ireland Cup and NI Cup, but the league is a bit closer than I would like.

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    We've lost quite a few games and I think a massive change in tactics is required in the summer. I want us to play a passing, possession based game to absolutely dominate matches against our weaker opponents, but at the moment we are still using a rigid direct 4-4-2.

    Now onto the Youth candidates, and I'm delighted with this batch. The Junior coaching investment, now excellent, is paying off as we have 4/5 players who are ready to step into our league already. The Goalkeeper especially looks a talent with 2 1/2 star current ability and 5 star potential. While I'm not going to drop my first teamers this season, I'll restructure the first team squad in the summer so that these guys can play regularly for the first team.

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    The league splits shortly, and the latter stages of the two cups are to come, so fingers crossed!

  34. Love this save, big update tommorow!
    T1LL13 and Amanado like this.

  35. looking forward to it mate, ill be following. Keep up the good work !!
    Arazar likes this.

  36. Youth is looking very strong for you there and I'm looking forwards to more of this in the update Keep up the good work!
    Arazar likes this.

  37. Quote Originally Posted by TheWriter View Post
    Youth is looking very strong for you there and I'm looking forwards to more of this in the update Keep up the good work!
    Thanks mate, I'm into the new season and having alot of fun playing 15-17 years olds! Alot of them are making the U19 and U21 squads, 7 in total and more will follow. Excellent Junior Coaching is paying off, now if only I could upgrade Youth Recruitment and go professional!

  38. 2014/15 Season Finale!


    Season Roundup

    So we finished the league as champions! although we lost more games in the second half of the season than I would have liked, as you can see below in our fixture list. We also completed the quadrupleby defeating second tier opponents Dundela in the Irish Cup final! Unfortunately we were beaten by a strong Dundalk side, 1-0 in both legs, in the All-Ireland cup to prevent an Irish clean-sweep.


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    Here's our best XI from the season:

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    The board announced ?2.3million would be invested in both Training and Youth facilities over the summer, although a board takeover (by a local businessman) meant plans to turn professional were scrapped, to my frustration!

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    Big plans are in place for next season in terms of squad, formation and playing style! Stay tuned as I'll post this very shortly!
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  39. Manager of the Year award!

    Quote Originally Posted by coolmcool View Post
    Bloody hell that was a hard Europa League group to be drawn in! Good going in the league though, hows the instant result button working for ya?
    I'd like to dedicate my award to coolmcool, who suggested the instant result button for pointless domestic games and helped to divert glory from my assistant manager to myself!


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  40. Fantastic season there, really top job Hopefully you'll be kicking ass in Europe next season as well as on the domestic front!
    Arazar likes this.

  41. Quote Originally Posted by TheWriter View Post
    Fantastic season there, really top job Hopefully you'll be kicking ass in Europe next season as well as on the domestic front!
    Thankyou my friend, glad you enjoyed it! I'm a bit behind on posts so I'll post a big update very shortly! Plenty of highs and lows and nearlys to come in the next post!

  42. 2015/16 - A change in direction + Champions League Qualifiers!

    Onto Pre-Season, and it was very much my plan to bring through the younger players from this point onwards. Being blessed with 7 high potential (4 1/2 star or above) under 18s, 6 of whom came through our own academy, it makes sense to create the next team with them. Our Excellent Junior coaching has meant they are ready for first team football (domestically anyway) straight away. A few stalwarts were released and more will follow in the next few years. Here is the transfer business, where I only signed 2 players and both are simply prospects for the future!

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    A head of youth recruitment and many new coaches were brought in to improve the player development - If only we could turn professional but due to the takeover that will have to wait until next season!

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    To go with this new look squad, we changed formation to a 4-5-1 with more short passing and creativity. Due to the massive change in philosophy, it will take some time to get used to this with the Semi-Professional limitations on match preparations but it is best to get accustomed to it as early as possible!

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    Here's the Squad overview:

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    Champions League Qualification

    There was very little time for pre-season friendlies so we pretty much got stuck straight into qualifying, with an easy draw against some Bosnian side in the 2nd Round. We destroyed them 6-1 on aggregate, a good start!

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    Sad news for Northern Irish football as Linfield, Cliftonville and Dundela (a 2nd tier side!) all were beaten within the first 2 rounds of Europa League qualification. It does nothing to our league reputation with UEFA but at least they will get a couple hundred thousand pounds each!

    Onto the next round of the big time Champions League with Crusaders, and we were drawn against the Irish club which beat us in the All-Ireland cup easily last season, Dundalk! I was worried by this and couldn't take them lightly for one second... We played the away game first and 2 set pieces saw us steal a very lucky but welcome 2-0 win! With 1 foot in the playoffs, we went with the 4-5-1 Standard in the home match, and were beaten 2-1 but edged through 3-2 on aggregate!

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    We've made the playoffs for a second successive season, but can we go one further and make the groups? The difference between winning and losing these 2 games is ?5million - huge, especially to a club in Northern Ireland.

    Drawn against Steau Bucharest, a Romanian side, we went into the away leg...

    We played a 4-5-1 Defensive and held out the whole match for a 0-0. We had chances to score a critical away goal but couldn't take them, while Steau crafted a few of their own also. A brave performance, and the home leg would decide our fate.

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    2nd leg and we scored the opener, but they fought back and scored the crucial away goal. We chased and chased, throwing everything at them and hit the post in the 90th minute but just couldn't score! The feeling of disappointment at only making the Europa League Group stages was immense, despite the ?3million in revenue from this, as it could have been much more. Hopefully it will be third time lucky next season!

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    Here's the fixtures so far:

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    We were given another impossible group in the Europa League, being drawn against Everton, Lyon and Genk!

    Finances are looking good once again, after raking in the prize money from Europe. I'll upgrade training facilities again, as well as going professional in the summer to ensure our young players reach their potential faster! We should still have some left over for the first time also

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    This was a big update so I'll break it up into 2, with the 2nd showing our Group stage and domestic progress in the 2015/16 season! Stay tuned...
    Last edited by Arazar; 09/03/2014 at 05:37 PM.
    coolmcool and Amanado like this.

  43. Europa League Group stages!

    Our group of Everton, Lyon and Genk was a very tough one, and we lost the first 3 fixtures! I put this down to playing a brand of football we aren't used to and which is maybe too expansive, so the gulf in quality shows. We did manage a 3-0 win at home to Genk but we finished the group with just those 3 points!

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    Final Group Table:



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    We move on very quickly from European football to focus on my target of winning all 5 domestic trophies on offer for the first time!
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  44. Domestic dominance with the class of 2015!

    With Europe out the way, here's the update on everything else Crusaders!

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    We're undefeated in the League after 22 games and top the table! Big surprise of the season is Linfield lingering in the bottom 4. The new formation has made us much more dominant in games, and harder to break down with the holding midfielder!

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    We also won the County Antrim shield for the 3rd successive season against struggling Linfield:


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    Finally a stature/infrastructure update. In addition to agreeing turn turn professional next season, training facilities will be upgraded again! The finances screen can be seen in the CL qualifying post, and further down the last 2 screenshots show the progress we're making with Exceptional Junior Coaching, better facilities all round and club value of ?4.7million. Now if only we could buy a few more season ticket holders!

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    I honestly believe we're just 1 central midfielder and winger away from winning a CL qualifier, or making more of an impact in the Europa groups now that we have changed the philosophy so radically. Things are looking very rosy in the long term for Crusaders and NI football!

  45. End of season update coming in a few minutes!
    Amanado likes this.

  46. The Invincibles + surprise!

    January was very quiet, with no signings in or out (apart from younsters being loaned away for experience). Our Youth Intake this season was smaller than last year, but I got the central midfielder I craved! Tall and talented, he's got alot of good attributes already although some of his mental stats need work! Check him out:

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    Now for the glory trail:


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    Brilliant from the boys as we dominated, pure and simple! Here's the squad that did it for me:

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    Job confidence is high, needless to say

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    Out of the blue, we got this bid for our second choice keeper, 500k had me thinking but the guy came through with 2 1/2 star potential last season so I turned it down. He sure has the potential to go far...

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    However, I couldn't turn down this next bid. After a bit of negotiating, I added a 50% sell on clause to the 2.4million Southampton were offering for a player who hadn't forced his way into our starting XI yet! I'd be silly not to accept such a deal, and ?2million of that money was invested straight back into the youth facilities!

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    Bad news though, as I don't think we're going professional this season either. We've had less than a million in the balance since the training facilities upgrade was paid for in May and our projection was something ridiculous like 2million in the red, which is impossible and a miscalculation, and costs us professional status for next year. I'll do my best to have a few million banked come May 2017 so that we are guaranteed Pro status!
    coolmcool and Amanado like this.

  47. Good story so far. Well done on the quintuple.

    The Northern Irish league quality seems to start at a similar level to the Iceland league, which i'm now in 2027 with KR in my save.
    Arazar likes this.

  48. Quote Originally Posted by Kerguelen View Post
    Good story so far. Well done on the quintuple.

    The Northern Irish league quality seems to start at a similar level to the Iceland league, which i'm now in 2027 with KR in my save.
    Thanks, 13 trophies so far in 3 seasons ain't bad going but you mention the quality being poor which is very true. We're probably at about league 2 level now as a league, so attracting players from abroad is hard which is why I'm focused on the academy. Hows the Icelandic league doing in 2027, got any more CL spots and league revenue?

  49. How do you get the instant result button mate??

    Sounds like a great idea!

  50. Quote Originally Posted by T1LL13 View Post
    How do you get the instant result button mate??

    Sounds like a great idea!
    I have one for me Bergkamp skin (white, but there is in black as well)

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