I am new to betting. Saw flashy retweets on twitter and bet money money on the Arse v Southampton match some time back and thought there was no way to lose placing a bet... i was always interested in bets. submitted by
Southampton won, I lost my bet (Arse) and I thought, oh well, no worries, I still get that 10 quid back for other bets which i can use later.
After the new year i just checked the site, thinking of placing a few small bets on FA cup matches.... and I was shocked to learn (after contacting the customer service) that as I'm not from UK (or Ireland) i don't get my money back for another bet.
This is just a warning to everyone. I lost 10 quid, please you don't.
TLDR - I became a fool. Save yourself, and read terms and conditions thoroughly.
So this guy keeps quiet all season long and after our title hopes were dead and buried starts spouting that he knew Arsenal would capitulate all along, Arsenal will not win a trophy this season, etc. submitted by
So i asked him to put his money where his mouth is and made a bet with him whereby if Arsenal win the FA Cup i get to choose his Facebook profile pic and if Arsenal lose he gets to pic mine. So anyone know a good pic that i can make him keep as his pic for a week ?
Help a fellow gooner find a pic to make fun of a Chelsea fan
The 2019/2020 season of the Hungary’s National Football League (NB1) – being one of the first leagues to restart play - came to an end on 27 June. If a casual observer (for whatever reason) decides to check out the final standings
, he would be not surprised at the first two positions: record-champion Ferencváros defended their title, while regional powerhouse Fehérvár (Videoton) came in second. However, the third place team, Puskás Akadémia FC might seem unusual and one could think that there is a story behind that.
Is there a team named after Ferenc Puskás? Did some academy youths make an incredible run for the Europa League qualification? Well, the observer is right, there is a story behind all this, but it’s absolutely not a fun story. It’s a story about how one powerful man’s obsession with football stole a legend, misused state funds and killed the spirit of Hungarian football. (Warning: this is a long story, feel free to scroll down for a tl;dr. Also, I strongly advise checking out the links, those images are worth seeing).
Naturally, political influence in football has been present ever since the dawn of the sport and we know of numerous state leaders who felt confident enough to use their influence to ensure the successful development of their favored clubs – Caucescu’s FC Olt Scornicesti
and Erdogan’s Basaksehir
are well-known examples of such attempts. However, I fear that very few of the readers are aware of the fact that Puskás Akadémia FC is nothing but Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán’s grandiose project for establishing his hometown’s club as one of the country’s top teams
. Considering that Orbán managed to achieve this goal using state funds in an EU member democracy in the 2000s, one might even say that it might be one of the most impressive attempts of cheating your way through Football Manager in real life. Now that Puskás Akadémia FC escaped the desolate football scene of Hungary and is getting ready for the European takeover, I feel that it’s high time to tell its true story.
Part 1: Part time striker, part time PM
Our story begins in 1999 when the 36-year-old striker Viktor Orbán (recently elected as the country’s Prime Minister) was signed by the sixth-tier side of Felcsút FC
residing in rural Fejér County. It might sound surprising that an active politician would consider such a side job, but given that Orbán has been playing competitive low-level football throughout his whole life and has always been known as a keen football enthusiast, people seemed to be okay with his choice for a hobby. Orbán spent most of his childhood in the village of Felcsút (population: 1,800), so it seemed only natural that he would join the team after one of his old-time acquaintances became team president there.
Orbán’s arrival to the club seemed to work like a charm as Felcsút FC immediately earned a promotion to the fifth league. The Prime Minister’s busy program did not allow him to attend every training session and game but Orbán did make an effort to contribute as much as possible on the field – there is a report of a government meeting being postponed as Orbán was unavailable due to attending Felcsút FC’s spring training camp
. The 2001/2002 season brought another breakthrough for the side as Felcsút was promoted to the national level of the football pyramid after being crowned the champion of Fejér County. Sadly enough for Orbán, he suffered a defeat on another pitch – his party lost the 2002 election and Orbán was forced to move to an opposition role. No matter what happened on the political playing field, Orbán would not abandon his club.
Just before the 2002 elections, Felcsút was surprisingly appointed as one of the regional youth development centers by the Hungarian FA. Orbán continued contributing on the field as well (he had more spare time after all) but his off-the-field efforts provided much more value for the team as he used his political influence to convince right-wing businessmen that they should definitely get sponsorship deals done with the fourth-division village team. Club management was able to transform the influx of funds into on-field success: Felcsút FC was promoted to the third division in 2004 and achieved promotion to the second division in 2005.
Although these new horizons required a skill level that an aging ex-PM is not likely to possess, Orbán regularly played as a late game sub
and even appeared in cup games against actual professional opponents. The now-42-year old Orbán did not want to face the challenge of the second division, so he retired in 2005 – but this did not stop him from temping as an assistant coach when the head coach was sacked in the middle of the 2005-2006 season.
Success on the playing field did not translate to political success: Orbán lost the elections once again in 2006. However, this was only a temporary loss: the ruling party committed blunder after blunder and by early 2007 it became absolutely obvious that Orbán would be able return to power in 2010. Now confident in his political future, Orbán opted for the acceleration of football development in Felcsút – by late 2007 he took over the presidency of the club to take matters in his own hands. Sponsors seeking to gain favor with the soon-to-be PM were swarming Felcsút FC, so the club was able to stand very strong in an era where financial stability was a very rare sight in the Hungarian football scene, accumulating three medals (but no promotion) between 2007 and 2009.
On the other hand, Orbán realized the value of youth development as well, and started a local foundation for this purpose back in 2004 that gathered funds for the establishment a boarding school-like football academy.
The academy opened its doors in September 2006 (only the second of such institutions in the country) and Orbán immediately took upon the challenge of finding an appropriate name for the academy.
He went on to visit the now very sick Ferenc Puskás in the hospital to discuss using his name, but as Puskás’ medical situation was deteriorating rapidly, communication attempts were futile. Luckily enough Puskás’ wife (and soon to be widow) was able to act on his incapable husband’s behalf and approved the naming deal in a contract. According to the statement, naming rights were granted without compensation, as “Puskás would have certainly loved what’s happening down in Felcsút
”. However, there was much more to the contract: Puskás’ trademark was handed to a sports journalist friend of Orbán
(György Szöllősi, also acting communications director of the academy) who promised a hefty annual return for the family (and also a 45% share of the revenue for himself). Ferenc Puskás eventually died on 17 November 2006 and on 26 November 2006 the football academy was named after him: Puskás Academy was born.
Orbán shared his vision of the whole organization after the opening ceremony: “It’s unreasonable to think that Felcsút should have a team in the top division. We should not flatter ourselves, our players and our supporters with this dream. Our long term ambition is the creation of a stable second division team that excels in youth development and provides opportunity for the talents of the future.”
Let’s leave that there.
Part 2: No stadium left behind Orbán became PM once again in April 2010 after a landslide victory that pretty much granted him unlimited power.
He chased lots of political agendas but one of his policies was rock solid: he would revive sports (and especially football) that was left to bleed out by the previous governments. The football situation in 2010 was quite dire: while the national team has actually made some progress in the recent years and has reached the 42nd position in the world rankings, football infrastructure was in a catastrophic state. Teams were playing in rusty stadiums built in the communist era, club finances were a mess, youth teams couldn’t find training grounds and the league was plagued by violent fan groups and lackluster attendance figures (3100 average spectators per game in the 2009/2010 season).
Orbán – aided by the FA backed by business actors very interested in making him happy – saw the future in the total rebuild of the football infrastructure. Vast amounts of state development funds were invested into the football construction industry that warmly welcomed corruption, cost escalation and shady procurement deals.
In the end, money triumphed: over the last decade, new stadiums sprung out from nothing all over the country
, dozens of new academies opened and pitches for youth development appeared on practically every corner. The final piece of the stadium renovation program was the completion of the new national stadium, Puskás Aréna in 2019 (estimated cost: 575 million EUR). Orbán commemorated this historic moment with a celebratory video on his social media that features a majestic shot of Orbán modestly kicking a CGI ball from his office to the new stadium.
Obviously, Orbán understood that infrastructure alone won’t suffice
. He believed in the idea that successful clubs are the cornerstone of a strong national side as these clubs would compete in a high quality national league (and in international tournaments) that would require a constant influx of youth players developed by the clubs themselves. However, Orbán was not really keen on sharing the state’s infinite wealth with private club owners who failed to invest in their clubs between 2002 and 2010. The club ownership takeover was not that challenging as previous owners were usually happy to cut their losses, and soon enough most clubs came under Orbán’s influence
. Some clubs were integrated deep into Orbán’s reach (Ferencváros and MTK Budapest club presidents are high ranking officials of Orbán’s party) while in other cases, indirect control was deemed sufficient (Diósgyőri VTK was purchased by a businessman as an attempt to display loyalty to Orbán).
Pouring taxpayer money into infrastructure (stadium) projects is relatively easy: after all, we are basically talking about overpriced government construction projects, there’s nothing new there. On the other hand, allocating funds to clubs that should be operating on a competitive market is certainly a tougher nut to crack. The obvious solutions were implemented: the state media massively overpaid for broadcasting rights and the national sports betting agency also pays a hefty sum to the FA, allowing for a redistribution of considerable amounts. However, given that the income side of Hungarian clubs was basically non-existent (match day income is negligible, the failed youth development system does not sell players), an even more radical solution was desperately needed. Also, there was definite interest in the development of a tool that would allow for differentiation between clubs (as in the few remaining non-government affiliated clubs should not receive extra money).
The solution came in 2011: the so-called TAO (“társasági adó” = corporate tax) system was introduced, granting significant tax deductions for companies if they offered a portion of their profits to sports clubs
– however, in theory, funds acquired through TAO can be only used for youth development and infrastructure purposes. Soon enough, it became apparent that state authorities were not exactly interested in the enforcement of these restrictions, so some very basic creative accounting measures enabled clubs to use this income for anything they wanted to. Companies were naturally keen on cutting their tax burdens and scoring goodwill with the government, so TAO money immediately skyrocketed.
Opportunistic party strongmen used their influence to convince local business groups to invest in the local clubs, enabling for the meteoric rise of multiple unknown provincial teams (Mezőkövesd [pop: 16,000], Kisvárda [pop: 16,000], Balmazújváros [pop: 17,000]) into the first division.
Although it’s not the main subject of this piece, I feel inclined to show you the actual results of Orbán’s grandiose football reform. While we do have our beautiful stadiums, we don’t exactly get them filled – league attendance has stagnated around 3000 spectators per game throughout the whole decade. We couldn’t really move forward with our national team either: Hungary lost 10 positions in the FIFA World Rankings throughout Orbán’s ten years. On the other hand, the level of league has somewhat improved – Videoton and Ferencváros reached the Europa League group stage in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Too bad that the Instat-based top team
of 2019/2020 Hungarian league consists of 10 foreigners and only 1 Hungarian: the goalkeeper.
Part 3: Small place, big game!
As seen in the previous chapter, Orbán did have a strong interest in the improvement of the football situation Hungary, but we shouldn’t forget that his deepest interest and true loyalty laid in the wellbeing of Felcsút and its academy. Now that Orbán had limitless means to see to the advancement of his beloved club, he got to work immediately.
Orbán handed over formal club management duties to his friend / protégé / middleman / businessman Lőrinc Mészáros in 2010, but no questions would ever arise of who is actually calling the shots.
First of all, no club can exist without a proper stadium.
Although in 2011 Orbán explicitly stated that “Felcsút does not need a stadium as stadiums belong to cities”,
no one was really surprised in 2012 when the construction of the Felcsút stadium was announced. Orbán was generous enough to donate the lands just in front of his summer home in the village for the project, locating the entrance a mere ten meters away from his residence. Construction works for the stunningly aesthetic 3,800-seater arena
(in a village of 1,800 people) started in April 2012 and were completed in April 2014, making Felcsút’s arena the second new stadium of Orbán’s gigantic stadium revival program.
The estimated budget of the construction was 120 million EUR (31,500 EUR / seat) was financed by the Puskás Academy who explicitly stated that they did not use government funds for the project. Technically, this statement is absolutely true as the construction was financed through the TAO money offered by the numerous companies looking for tax deduction and Orbán’s goodwill. However, technically, this means that the country’s budget was decreased by 120 million EUR unrealized tax revenue. Naturally, the gargantuan football stadium looks ridiculously out of place in the small village
, but there’s really no other way to ensure that your favorite team’s stadium is within 20 seconds of walking distance from your home.
Obviously, a proper club should also have some glorious history. Felcsút was seriously lagging behind on this matter as though Felcsút FC was founded in 1931, it spent its pre-Orbán history in the uninspiring world of the 5th-7th leagues of the country. Luckily enough, Orbán had already secured Puskás’ naming rights and they were not afraid to use it, so Felcsút FC was renamed to Puskás Academy FC in 2009. The stadium name was a little bit problematic as the Hungarian national stadium in Budapest had sadly had the dibs on Puskás’ name, so they had to settle with Puskás’ Spanish nickname, resulting in the inauguration of the Pancho Arena
. But why stop here? Orbán’s sports media strongman György Szöllősi
acted upon the contract with Puskás’ widow and transferred all Puskás’ personal memorabilia
(medals, jerseys, correspondence) to the most suitable place of all: a remote village in which Puskás never even set foot in.
While the off-field issues were getting resolved, Orbán’s attention shifted to another important area: the actual game of football. Although academy players started to graduate from 2008 on, it very soon became painfully obvious that the academy program couldn’t really maintain even a second division side for now. In 2009, Orbán reached an agreement with nearby Videoton’s owner that effectively transformed Felcsút FC into Videoton’s second team under the name of Videoton – Puskás Akadémia FC. The mutually beneficent agreement would allow Videoton to give valuable playing time to squad players while it could also serve as a skipping step for Puskás Academy’s fresh graduates to a first league team. The collaboration resulted in two mid-table finishes and a bronze medal in the second division in the following three seasons that wasn’t really impressive compared to Felcsút FC’s standalone seasons.
It seemed that the mixture of reserve Videoton players and academy youth was simply not enough for promotion, and although Orbán had assured the public multiple times that his Felcsút project was not aiming for the top flight, very telling changes arose after the 2011/2012 season. Felcsút terminated the Videoton cooperation deal and used the rapidly accumulating TAO funds to recruit experienced players for the now independently operating Puskás Academy FC (PAFC)
. The new directive worked almost too well: PAFC won its division
with a 10 point lead in its first standalone year which meant that they would have to appear in the first league prior to the completion of their brand-new Pancho Arena. Too bad that this glorious result had almost nothing to do with the academy - only two players were academy graduates of the side’s regular starting XI.
Orbán did not let himself bothered with the ridiculousness of an academy team with virtually no academy players being promoted to the first division as he stated that “a marathon runner shouldn’t need to explain why the other runners were much slower than him
”. Orbán also displayed a rare burst of modesty as he added that “his team’s right place is not in the first league, and they will soon be overtaken by other, better sides”.
The promotion of PAFC to the first division made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move. Supporter groups were united in hatred all along the league and not surprisingly, away fans almost always outnumbered the home side at PAFC’s temporary home at Videoton’s Sóstói Stadium (demolished and rebuilt in its full glory since then
). One of the teams, however, possessed an extraordinary degree of anger against PAFC: supporters of Budapest Honvéd – the only Hungarian team in which Ferenc Puskás played – felt especially awkward about the transfer of their club legend’s heritage to Felcsút. Tensions spiked at the PAFC – Honvéd game when home security forced Honvéd supporters to remove the “Puskás”
part of their traditional “Puskás – Kispest – Hungary” banner
– the team answered the insult with style as they secured a 4-0 victory supported by fans chanting “you can’t buy legends”.
Despite Orbán’s prognosis, other better sides did not rush to overtake his team, so PAFC, now residing in their brand new Pancho Arena, came through with a 14th and a 10th place in their first two seasons. Naturally, conspiracy theories began to formulate, speculating that government-friendly owners would certainly not be motivated to give their best against PAFC. However, as the league size was reduced to 12 for the 2015/2016 season, PAFC found themselves in a dire situation just before the final round: they needed a win and needed rival Vasas to lose against MTK in order to avoid relegation. PAFC’s draw seemed to be unlucky as they faced their arch-enemy Honvéd at home, but Honvéd displayed an absolute lackluster effort – fueling conspiracy theories – and lost the fixture 2 to 1 against a home side featuring four academy players. Vasas, however, did not disappoint, their 2-0 victory resulted in PAFC’s elimination and a very relaxed sigh all over the football community.
PAFC’s relegation seemed to be in accordance with Orbán’s 2013 statement, so public opinion supposed for a while that Orbán’s project came to a halting point and the Academy would go on to actually field academy players in the second division (especially as rostering foreign players was prohibited in the lower leagues). However, if you have read through this point, you know better than to expect Orbán to retreat – obviously, PAFC came back with a bang. With a ballsy move, PAFC didn’t even sell their foreign players, they just loaned them across the league, promising them that they would be able to return next year to the newly promoted team. The promise was kept as PAFC went into another shopping spree of experienced players (easily convincing lots of them to choose the second division instead of the first) and easily won the second league. Orbán
– now aware of his negligence – opted for the doubling the team’s budget, making PAFC the third most well-founded club in the whole country
(only coming short to his friend’s Videoton and his party minion’s Ferencváros). With an actual yearly influx from TAO money in the ballpark of 30-40 million EUR, PAFC management had to really work wonders in creative accounting in order to make their money look somewhat legitimate. The books were now full of ridiculous items like:
- Construction of a new tea kitchen for youth players for 650,000 EUR
- Construction of a new “sports and conference center” for 40 million EUR
- Employment of a 45 person “cleaning and maintenance staff” for the academy.
Naturally, in the country of no consequences, absolutely nothing happened: PAFC went on with its spending and signed 35 foreigners between 2017 and 2020. They did so because they could not hope to field a winning team in the first league consisting of academy players
, despite the fact that Puskás Academy has been literally drowning in money since 2007. This seems to somewhat contradict Orbán’s 2013 promise, stating that “Puskás Academy will graduate two or three players to major European leagues each year”.
To be fair, there have been players who managed to emerge to Europe (well, exactly two of them: Roland Sallai plays at Freiburg, László Kleinheisler played at Werder Bremen) but most academy graduates don’t even have the slightest the chance to make their own academy’s pro team as it’s full of foreigners and more experienced players drawn for other teams’ programs.
Despite their unlimited funding, PAFC could not put up a top-tier performance in their first two years back in the first division, finishing 6th and 7th in the 12-team league. Many speculated that the lack of support, motivation and even a clear team mission did not allow for chemistry to develop within the multinational and multi-generational locker room. Consistency was also a rare sight on the coaching side: club management was absolutely impatient with coaches who were very easily released after a single bad spell and there were talks of on-field micromanagement request coming from as high as Orbán.
Even so, their breakthrough came dangerously close in 2018 as PAFC performed consistently well in the cup fixtures and managed to reach the final. Their opponent, Újpest played an incredibly fierce game and after a 2-2 draw, they managed to defeat PAFC in the shootout. Football fans sighed in relief throughout the country as ecstatic Újpest supporters verbally teased a visibly upset Orbán in his VIP lounge
about his loss.
Obviously, we could only delay the inevitable. While this year’s PAFC side seemed to be more consistent than its predecessors, it seemed that they won’t be able to get close to the podium - they were far behind the obvious league winner duo of Ferencváros and Videoton and were trailing third-place Mezőkövesd 6 points just before the pandemic break. However, both Mezőkövesd and PAFC’s close rivals DVTK and Honvéd fall flat after the restart while PAFC was able to maintain its good form due to its quality roster depth. PAFC overtook Mezőkövesd after the second-to-last round as Mezőkövesd lost to the later relegated Debrecen side. (Mezőkövesd coach Attila Kuttor was fined harshly because of his post-game comments on how the FA wants PAFC to finish third.)
PAFC faced Honvéd in the last round once again, and as Honvéd came up with its usual lackluster effort, PAFC secured an effortless win, confidently claiming the third place
. PAFC celebrated their success in a nearly empty stadium
, however neither Orbán, nor Mészáros (club owner, Orbán’s protégé, now 4th richest man of Hungary) seemed to worry about that. While Orbán high-fived with his peers in the VIP lounge, Mészáros was given the opportunity to award the bronze medals (and for some reason, a trophy)
to the players dressed up in the incredibly cringe worthy T-shirts that say “Small place, big game!”.
Big game, indeed: in the 2019/2020 season, foreign players’ share of the teams playing time was 43.6% while academy graduates contributed only 17.9%.
On Sunday evening, less than 24 hours after PAFC’s glorious success, György Szöllősi, now editor-in-chief of Hungary’s only sports newspaper (purchased by Orbán’s affiliates a few years back) published an editorial on the site, stating that “the soccer rebuild in Felcsút became the motor and symbol of the revitalization of sport throughout the whole country
”. Well, Szöllősi is exactly right: Felcsút did became a symbol, but a symbol of something entirely different. Felcsút became a symbol of corruption, inefficiency, lies and the colossal waste of money.
But, hey, at least we know now: you only need to spend 200 million EUR (total budget of PAFC and its academy in the 2011-2020 period) if you want to have a Europa League team in your backyard. Good to know!
Epilogue: What's in the future?
As there is no foreseeable chance for political change to happen Hungary
(Orbán effortlessly secured qualified majority in 2014 and 2018, and is projected to do so in 2022 as well), PAFC’s future seems to be as bright as it gets. Although consensus opinion now seems to assume that Orbán does not intend to interfere with the Ferencváros – Videoton hegemony, we can never be really sure about the exact limits of his greed. One could also argue that entering the European theater serves as a prime opportunity for making splashy transfers who could be the cornerstones of a side challenging the league title.
However, as all political systems are deemed to fall, eventually Orbán’s regime will come apart. Whoever will take upon the helm after Orbán, they will certainly begin with cutting back on the one item on Orbán’s agenda that never had popular support: limitless football spending. Puskás Academy, having next to zero market revenue, will not be able to survive without the state’s life support, so the club will fold very shortly. The abandoned, rotting stadium in Felcsút will serve as a memento of a powerful man who could not understand the true spirit of football.
But let’s get back to present day, as we have more pressing issues coming up soon: PAFC will play their first European match in the First qualifying round of the Europa League
on 27 August. We don’t have a date for the draw yet, but soon enough, a team unaware of the whole situation will be selected to face the beast. I hope that maybe one of their players does some research and maybe reads this very article for inspiration. I hope that the supporters of this club get in touch with Honvéd fans who would be eager to provide them with some tips on appropriate chants. I hope that other teams gets drawn as the home team so Orbán wouldn’t get the pleasure of walking to his stadium for an international match. But most importantly, I very much hope that this team obliterates PAFC and wipes them off the face of the earth.
5-0 will suffice, thank you.
And if this team fails to do that, we don’t have to worry yet. Due to our shitty league coefficient, PAFC would need to win four fixtures in a row. And that – if there’s any justice in this world – is a thing that can’t, that won’t happen. Ball don’t lie – if I may say. TL,DR
Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán redirected some 200 million EUR of taxpayer money over 10 years to fuel his ambition of raising a competitive football team in his hometown of 1,800 people. He built a 3,800-seater stadium in his backyard, expropriated football legend Ferenc Puskás’ trademarks and heritage and built up a football league where almost all clubs are owned by his trustees. His team, Puskás Akadémia FC was originally intended to be a development ground for youth players graduating from Orbán’s football academy, but eventually the team became more and more result-orianted. Finally, a roster full of foreign and non-academy players came through and finished third in the league, releasing this abomination of a team to the European football theatre. Please, knock them out asap!
So I don't know about any of you, but I'd forgotten what the hell has been going in the PL last few gameweeks, who's in form, both players and teams! I'd forgotten Lampard's rotation of basically everyone, Vardy's horrendous form and Troy Parrott up front. Obviously it's likely to change around a lot too when things restart, but I think just like the start of a new season, the starting point is to look how the teams and players were when we last saw them. With that in mind, here is my look at each team, with the focus on how they were doing before suspension submitted by
Position: 1 ATTACKING last 5 games xG Rank: 3 DEFENDING last 5 games xGA Rank: 5
In a spot of bother the weeks leading up to lockdown, exiting the FA Cup, UCL and losing to Watford in the PL. Was made to work hard for wins vs Norwich, WHU and Bournemouth, missing Henderson and Allison. With those two players back in training and a records to chase, I expect a relatively motivated team wanting to get over the line with the title first, then push on for points totals
Next three: eve CRY mci Remaining Fixtures: Average Form FPL Players: Salah, Trent, Mane Important to note returning players: Henderson, Allison
Position: 2 ATTACKING last 5 games xG Rank: 2 DEFENDING last 5 games xGA Rank: 1
In fairly good form, bar the loss to United (and a relatively undeserved loss to Spurs). Not got a lot to play for, but I expect professionalism from the players rather than a real dip in performance. Underlying stats best in the league, but watch out for rotation
Next three: ARS/BUR che LIV Remaining Fixtures: Average Form FPL Players: Aguero, Jesus, KdB, Mahrez, Defenders Important to note returning players: Sane, Laporte
Position: 3 ATTACKING last 5 games xG Rank: 12 DEFENDING last 5 games xGA Rank: 4
Vardy’s form fell off a cliff in the first few months of 2020 after injury and new baby, and Leicester’s attacking threat fell with it. 5 points from last 15 is poor form, but last game before suspension was a big win vs Villa, importantly with Ndidi back. Looked solid at the back as always. Will have to fight for UCL, but may ease off once secured
Next three: wat BHA eve Remaining Fixtures: Average Form FPL Players: Defenders Important to note returning players: Ndidi
Position: 4 ATTACKING last 5 games xG Rank: 8 DEFENDING last 5 games xGA Rank: 3
We saw a lot of rotation from Lampard in the last few gameweeks, with few players keeping their places – only Azpilicutea, Reece James and Mount featuring in all the last 5 games. Alonso started to look like hitting the form he did last season. Stats looked ok, and the form is not bad, but starting line-up was becoming increasingly difficult to predict. Will be fighting hard to UCL, and have a lot of reinforcements back from injury
Next three: avl MCI whu Remaining Fixtures: Average Form FPL Players: Alonso, Defenders Important to note returning players: Pulisic, Loftus-Cheek, Abraham, Kante (possibly still out for personal reasons)
Position: 5 ATTACKING last 5 games xG Rank: 10 DEFENDING last 5 games xGA Rank: 6
Man utd were one of the form teams of the league when we left it. Bruno Fernandes had really added to the team, leaving them unbeaten in their last 5, including Chelsea and City. Pogba and Rashford are on their way back, and there will be much expectation to reach UCL, especially with a kind set of remaining fixtuers
Next three: tot SHU bri Remaining Fixtures: Good Form FPL Players: Martial, Fernandes Important to note returning players: Pogba, Rashford
Position: 6 ATTACKING last 5 games xG Rank: 5 DEFENDING last 5 games xGA Rank: 2
Probably the other form team in the league right now – and even with better underlying stats than Man Utd. Unbeaten in 5 and yet to be beaten on xG in a match this year. Solid at the back too, with Jonny returning from injury can only help that. Doherty is also starting to look like his 18/19 self, and with good remaining fixtures too, don’t rule them out in the race for the UCL
Next three: whu BOU avl Remaining Fixtures: Good Form FPL Players: Jota, Jimenez, Doherty, Defenders Important to note returning players: Jonny
Position: 7 ATTACKING last 5 games xG Rank: 11 DEFENDING last 5 games xGA Rank: 12
In relatively good form, bouncing back from a loss to City with three wins and a draw, but the underlying stats don’t look fantastic considering their recent opponents of Palace, Bournemouth, Norwich and Brighton. From a relatively low rotation start of the season, more has creeped in as it’s gone on, including the Lord of FPL, Lundstram, though he has performed well when played. Will likely struggle to reach UCL with their run-in but I don’t think it will stop them trying
Next three: avl/new mun TOT Remaining Fixtures: Fairly Poor Form FPL Players: Sharp, Lundstram, O’Connell, Defenders Important to note returning players: Stevens, Mousset
Position: 8 ATTACKING last 5 games xG Rank: 9 DEFENDING last 5 games xGA Rank: 19
Spurs were in a state before the suspension, 1 points from 9, and lucky to get even that vs Burnley, and looked poor in the UCL. Injuries have not helped, especially to Kane and Son, but their defence has been shocking at times, only Villa’s statistically worse. However, with some returning players, and UCL to chase for, they’re likely to be well motivated
Next three: MUN WHU shu Remaining Fixtures: Average Form FPL Players: Alli Important to note returning players: Son, Kane, Sissoko, Bergwijn
Position: 9 ATTACKING last 5 games xG Rank: 6 DEFENDING last 5 games xGA Rank: 16
Sitting in 9th, but with a game in hand, Arsenal will certainly feel they’re not quite out the race for UCL yet, especially with their attacking form in particular looking good. Unbeaten in 8, but only from a we’re-gonna-score-more-than-you approach that has left them looking defensively frail at times. Torreira and Tierney returning may give them a boost, but it’s difficult to say what the break might have done for their momentum
Next three: mci/bha sou NOR Remaining Fixtures: Fairly Poor Form FPL Players: Auba, Laca, Pepe, Saka Important to note returning players: Torreira, Tierney
Position: 10 ATTACKING last 5 games xG Rank: 4 DEFENDING last 5 games xGA Rank: 8
Very much an outside bet for Europe, but with good form right now, Burnley are an interesting team to analyse. Pulled themselves out of a really poor run of form and are now unbeaten in 7, including wins at Man Utd and Leicester. Confirmed Covid case for assistant manager Ian Woan, but hopefully this has been isolated. Will motivation fall if they drop back in the race for Europe? Barnes returning will certainly be a boost
Next three: mci WAT cry Remaining Fixtures: Fairly Poor Form FPL Players: Vydra, McNeil Important to note returning players: Jay Rodriguez, Barnes
So there's my summary of the top 10, bottom 10 to come, but comments and thoughts below are all appreciated, this is only my view, and I know there's plenty of others out there!
The year is 2017. Top scientists have finally cracked the ability to stop ageing, and the world rejoices. submitted by
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?
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:
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
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)
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)
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 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)
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:
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)
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:
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.
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)
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)
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)
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 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)
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)
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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