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Sevilla - Oranges and Lemons


Alex Rolfe

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Sevilla – Oranges and Lemons

Why Sevilla?

Sevilla provide an interesting opportunity. Whilst not in the first tier of Spanish teams (Real Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia or Deportivo) they could easily be compared to the clubs that lie just below this (Athletico Bilbao, Real Sociedad, Mallorca, Athletico Madrid and city rivals Betis). The expectations of the club are realistic (respectable league position/top half finish) and there is a healthy transfer budget available. Finally the stadium is a good size and the support is healthy. All in all a good challenge that a manager can really get his teeth into.

About me and my tactics

The big question, build your team around your tactic or adapt your tactics to suit the players you have available. Personally, having spent a lot of time working on a tactic that appears to be successful I go for the former. The tactic is a conventional 4-4-2 with plenty of width. It needs fast creative players down the flanks and up top with strong central defenders and a solid keeper. The centre of midfield is where the game is won or lost. Both players here are primarily defensively minded but should also be able to pass or create. There is no room in the squad for attacking midfielders. Ideally the squad should have 22 players, two for every position. Players on the left side should be left footed and vice versa. This however is the ideal and there is some flexibility around this. The ‘B’ Team should ultimately be made up of players who have at least a chance of breaking into the first team and is also used for first team players recovering from injury. All teams (first, ‘B’ and under 18s) play the same tactic.

Squad assessment

Having taken up the position of manager and enduring the usual (understandable) scepticism from fans and media alike that a new manager has taken the position (the chairman at least is behind me), it is time to look at my squad.

Goalkeepers

Arturo – although still young for a keeper at 22, he does not have what it takes at this level and will be transfer listed. In the meantime he will play in the ‘B’ team.

Esteban – a solid if not top class keeper, he will for the time being be the teams first choice

Antonio Notario – again fairly solid and a good back up to Esteban

Thorices – like Arturo, young but inadequate. Transfer listed and put in the reserves.

Right Full Back

Manuel Blanco – inexperienced young player lacking the quality to make it in the first team so transfer listed and placed in the reserves

Daniel – fairly exciting Brazilian prospect, in the team

Redondo – established first team player who will probably start for us but will be put under pressure by Daniel

Sergio Ramos – 18 year old with some good stats, will be placed in the reserves and made available for loan to see how he develops over the next few years

Left Full Back

Alejandro Ortiz – substandard 18 year old, transfer listed and placed in ‘B’ team

Dani Bautista – 23 year old lacking the required quality. Currently on loan at Celta. Placed on transfer list

David – Average player, will eventually form the back up in this position but will have to be first choice until fresh blood arrives

Centre Back (right footed)

Aitor Ocio – again, average player who will be the back up in this position

Javi Navarro – first choice in this position, fairly strong stats

Jose – poor player currently on loan at Xerez. Transfer listed.

Fernando Cuerda – young but substandard. Transfer listed and in reserves

David Prieto – as above

Fernando Vega – again, as above

Oscar Rodriguez – on loan at Valladollid. Stats are ok but will never challenge Ocio or Navarro so transfer listed

Alavaro – poor player, transfer listed and in reserves

Centre Back (left footed)

Pablo Alfaro – veteran defender and first choice in this position. Will be club captain this season

Pablo – back up to his name sake but I’m a little worried about some of his stats. Could be replaced in January if he fails to deliver

Right Wing

Juan Jose Bezares – ok looking right wing currently on loan at Cadiz. I will see how he does there before making a decision

Bruno – young but no future here. Transfer listed and in reserves

Manuel Redondo – as above

Alex Santana – slightly older but still lacking quality. Transfer listed and in reserves

Francisco Gallardo – on loan at Getafe. Ok stats but never going to get into first team. Transfer listed

Marco Navas – exciting looking prospect. Will be the back up

Jonathan – poor player. Transfer listed. Reserves

Fernando Sales – classy looking player. First choice

Left Wing

Juan Jesus – poor quality youngster. Available for transfer and in ‘B’ team.

Lolo – as above

Fredi – good experienced player on loan at Cadiz. Will see how he does

Antonio Lopez – exciting looking player (if a little slow). Back up

Antonio Puerta – young player with some good stats. In the reserves for now and available for loan. Could be a future star.

Jesuli – exciting player returning after 4 years at Celta. First choice.

Central Midfield (right foot)

Renato – ok looking player but lacking the necessary defensive skills. Transfer listed and in reserves. Worth nearly £4 million so hopefully someone will snap him up and boost my transfer budget.

Gerardo Torrado – solid looking Mexican with Spanish dual nationality. Will be the back up in this position.

Julio Baptista – classy Brazilian international. First choice.

Jordi Lopez – lacking necessary qualities. Transfer listed and in reserves.

Jose Manuel – young player without a future here. Transfer listed and in reserves.

Javi Perez – as above

Josep Lluis Marti – plenty of experience but no real quality. Transfer listed and in reserves.

Central Midfield (left foot)

Francisco Javier Casquero – ok looking player. Will be the back up once a quality signing comes in.

Forward/Striker (right foot)

Jesus Navas – exciting 18 year old prospect. In the reserves and available for loan for now.

Dario Silva – strong looking player. In the team.

Carlos – lacks necessary finishing skills. Transfer listed and in reserves.

Helio Pinto – another prospect. In reserves and up for loan.

German Hornos – on loan at Valladolid. Will see how he performs there

Mariza Makukula – ok looking player but lacking pace. Transfer listed and in reserves.

Aranda – not quite up to scratch. Transfer listed and in reserves.

Antonito – finishing not good enough. Transfer listed and in reserves.

Pablo – poor quality. In reserves and transfer listed.

Antonio Moreno – as above

Guille – as above

Kepa – possible prospect. In reserves and up for loan

Diego Capel – 16 year old placed in under 18 team to see how he develops

Summary

All in all I am quite pleased. Most positions are covered often with quality replacements. I need to get hold of three forwards/strikers (two with a left foot), a left sided full back and a left footed central midfielder. I also have a lot of work to do in building up a youth team (looks like my scouts will be busy). Pressingly I have my first friendly today (away to Grenada) so I will have to use some of the prospects at the front. Once that is out of the way I’ll start looking for the players I need. I’ll be back shortly to let you know how I get on.

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Sevilla – Oranges and Lemons

Why Sevilla?

Sevilla provide an interesting opportunity. Whilst not in the first tier of Spanish teams (Real Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia or Deportivo) they could easily be compared to the clubs that lie just below this (Athletico Bilbao, Real Sociedad, Mallorca, Athletico Madrid and city rivals Betis). The expectations of the club are realistic (respectable league position/top half finish) and there is a healthy transfer budget available. Finally the stadium is a good size and the support is healthy. All in all a good challenge that a manager can really get his teeth into.

About me and my tactics

The big question, build your team around your tactic or adapt your tactics to suit the players you have available. Personally, having spent a lot of time working on a tactic that appears to be successful I go for the former. The tactic is a conventional 4-4-2 with plenty of width. It needs fast creative players down the flanks and up top with strong central defenders and a solid keeper. The centre of midfield is where the game is won or lost. Both players here are primarily defensively minded but should also be able to pass or create. There is no room in the squad for attacking midfielders. Ideally the squad should have 22 players, two for every position. Players on the left side should be left footed and vice versa. This however is the ideal and there is some flexibility around this. The ‘B’ Team should ultimately be made up of players who have at least a chance of breaking into the first team and is also used for first team players recovering from injury. All teams (first, ‘B’ and under 18s) play the same tactic.

Squad assessment

Having taken up the position of manager and enduring the usual (understandable) scepticism from fans and media alike that a new manager has taken the position (the chairman at least is behind me), it is time to look at my squad.

Goalkeepers

Arturo – although still young for a keeper at 22, he does not have what it takes at this level and will be transfer listed. In the meantime he will play in the ‘B’ team.

Esteban – a solid if not top class keeper, he will for the time being be the teams first choice

Antonio Notario – again fairly solid and a good back up to Esteban

Thorices – like Arturo, young but inadequate. Transfer listed and put in the reserves.

Right Full Back

Manuel Blanco – inexperienced young player lacking the quality to make it in the first team so transfer listed and placed in the reserves

Daniel – fairly exciting Brazilian prospect, in the team

Redondo – established first team player who will probably start for us but will be put under pressure by Daniel

Sergio Ramos – 18 year old with some good stats, will be placed in the reserves and made available for loan to see how he develops over the next few years

Left Full Back

Alejandro Ortiz – substandard 18 year old, transfer listed and placed in ‘B’ team

Dani Bautista – 23 year old lacking the required quality. Currently on loan at Celta. Placed on transfer list

David – Average player, will eventually form the back up in this position but will have to be first choice until fresh blood arrives

Centre Back (right footed)

Aitor Ocio – again, average player who will be the back up in this position

Javi Navarro – first choice in this position, fairly strong stats

Jose – poor player currently on loan at Xerez. Transfer listed.

Fernando Cuerda – young but substandard. Transfer listed and in reserves

David Prieto – as above

Fernando Vega – again, as above

Oscar Rodriguez – on loan at Valladollid. Stats are ok but will never challenge Ocio or Navarro so transfer listed

Alavaro – poor player, transfer listed and in reserves

Centre Back (left footed)

Pablo Alfaro – veteran defender and first choice in this position. Will be club captain this season

Pablo – back up to his name sake but I’m a little worried about some of his stats. Could be replaced in January if he fails to deliver

Right Wing

Juan Jose Bezares – ok looking right wing currently on loan at Cadiz. I will see how he does there before making a decision

Bruno – young but no future here. Transfer listed and in reserves

Manuel Redondo – as above

Alex Santana – slightly older but still lacking quality. Transfer listed and in reserves

Francisco Gallardo – on loan at Getafe. Ok stats but never going to get into first team. Transfer listed

Marco Navas – exciting looking prospect. Will be the back up

Jonathan – poor player. Transfer listed. Reserves

Fernando Sales – classy looking player. First choice

Left Wing

Juan Jesus – poor quality youngster. Available for transfer and in ‘B’ team.

Lolo – as above

Fredi – good experienced player on loan at Cadiz. Will see how he does

Antonio Lopez – exciting looking player (if a little slow). Back up

Antonio Puerta – young player with some good stats. In the reserves for now and available for loan. Could be a future star.

Jesuli – exciting player returning after 4 years at Celta. First choice.

Central Midfield (right foot)

Renato – ok looking player but lacking the necessary defensive skills. Transfer listed and in reserves. Worth nearly £4 million so hopefully someone will snap him up and boost my transfer budget.

Gerardo Torrado – solid looking Mexican with Spanish dual nationality. Will be the back up in this position.

Julio Baptista – classy Brazilian international. First choice.

Jordi Lopez – lacking necessary qualities. Transfer listed and in reserves.

Jose Manuel – young player without a future here. Transfer listed and in reserves.

Javi Perez – as above

Josep Lluis Marti – plenty of experience but no real quality. Transfer listed and in reserves.

Central Midfield (left foot)

Francisco Javier Casquero – ok looking player. Will be the back up once a quality signing comes in.

Forward/Striker (right foot)

Jesus Navas – exciting 18 year old prospect. In the reserves and available for loan for now.

Dario Silva – strong looking player. In the team.

Carlos – lacks necessary finishing skills. Transfer listed and in reserves.

Helio Pinto – another prospect. In reserves and up for loan.

German Hornos – on loan at Valladolid. Will see how he performs there

Mariza Makukula – ok looking player but lacking pace. Transfer listed and in reserves.

Aranda – not quite up to scratch. Transfer listed and in reserves.

Antonito – finishing not good enough. Transfer listed and in reserves.

Pablo – poor quality. In reserves and transfer listed.

Antonio Moreno – as above

Guille – as above

Kepa – possible prospect. In reserves and up for loan

Diego Capel – 16 year old placed in under 18 team to see how he develops

Summary

All in all I am quite pleased. Most positions are covered often with quality replacements. I need to get hold of three forwards/strikers (two with a left foot), a left sided full back and a left footed central midfielder. I also have a lot of work to do in building up a youth team (looks like my scouts will be busy). Pressingly I have my first friendly today (away to Grenada) so I will have to use some of the prospects at the front. Once that is out of the way I’ll start looking for the players I need. I’ll be back shortly to let you know how I get on.

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Grenada 0 – Sevilla 2

So the first friendly of the season and a positive result. I started with pretty much a full strength team. I opted for Jesus Navas partnering Dario Silva in attack. The game started well with Sevilla dominating possession and plenty of shots (18 in the first half, 7 on target). Granada in comparison only had one shot, the regen player Fran picking up on a mistake from Pablo Alfaro to force a good save from the keeper Esteban. Unfortunately the quality of the shooting was for the most part pretty poor and despite the dominance we never looked like actually getting the goal. That was until the stroke of half time, 47 minutes on the clock and the youngster Jesus Navas picked up a pass from Julio Baptista to slot the ball into the bottom left of the net. Half time 1-0.

The second half continued the theme, Sevilla dominating possession and getting most of the chances. Apart from a short spell engineered by the lively Fran, Granada never looked like equalising. However it was not until the 83rd minute that Kepa, (another prospect on for the disappointing Dario Silva) ran onto a defence splitting pass from Casquero to score, this time on the right side of the goal. Full time 2-0.

Summary

So what can I learn from this. The team performed well overall and whilst Grenada will be one of the weaker teams we face, a 2-0 win, away from home, with an unfit squad is a solid start. The only real worry was the performance of Dario Silva. On the plus side, the young players that I felt were not ready for the first team yet performed well scoring both goals. Overall a good start.

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Searching for Players

Bearing in mind that I have a lot of players on the transfer list and can therefore expect at least a minor boost to my £12 million transfer kitty I have made enquiries about some top players. I have also tried to get a couple of free transfers and my scouts have been sent out to look for quality young players.

The players I have expressed an interest in are:

Dagoberto – quality right footed Brazilian striker who would walk into the first team ahead of Dario Silva. Also has French nationality. Currently with Athletico Paranaense

Dede – top class Brazilain left back currently with Dortmund. Also has German nationality

Niclas Jensen – Danish left back also with Dortmund

Patrick Mboma – very experienced left footed striker, coming to the end of his career but should be able to do a job as back up for one year

Emmanuel Petit – vastly experienced left footed defensive midfielder. Has played with Monaco, Arsenal, Barcelona and Chelsea so should be able to a job for me even, if like Mboma, it is only for one year.

Robinho – a real gem. Young left footed Brazilian striker who could be the next Ronaldo

Mike Zonneveld – young Dutch left full back with a big future

So there we are – hopefully some of these could be gracing my team some time soon. I’ll keep you updated with how things go and will be back shortly with news of my next friendly (away to Cultural).

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Cultural 1 – Sevilla 2

Firstly some news on the transfer front. I had offers accepted for Zonneveld (£2 million), Robinho (£7.25 million) and Dagoberto (£6.5 million). I therefore snapped up both Zonneveld and Robinho and have put a delay on the transfer of Dagoberto (hopefully some of my transfer listed players will be picked up). I have already sold Arturo to Racing for £325k and I have had some offers for Renato.

So, onto the match. Cultural look like a slightly better team than Granada although are still some way short of the quality I can expect to meet on a week to week basis in the league. Both Zonneveld and Robinho walk straight into the first team and Robinho in particular looks top quality. He creates problems for the Cultural defence from the first and scores from a lovely Dario Silva pass on 41 minutes. Half time 1-0

Despite this lead, Cultural give a good account of themselves throughout the first half and into the second. Their hard work is rewarded on 52 minutes when Pepe Domingo beats two defenders and scores. The rest of the match carries on the same way, Robinho a constant threat, Cultural having sporadic attacks. The winner is an absolute fluke, a cross from Antonio Lopez on 87 minutes going straight in. Final score 2-1

Summary

A mixed bag really. Robinho looks fantastic and Dario Silva certainly improved on his previous performance before being replaced by Jesus Navas (who again threatened and could win a place as back up to Dario Silva in the first team). I do feel however that we should be scoring far more in this type of fixture and worry that once we come up against quality sides could be made to pay. Next up are Barakaldo.

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Barakaldo 2 – Sevilla

Once again, transfer news. Petit accepted a 2 year contract and joins us on a free. Mboma on the other hand has joined French club Troyes. I’m not too disappointed as of all the players I looked at, he was the biggest gamble. In any case my scouts have identified (yet another) Brazilian called Adrianinho as a possible left footed forward. He is available from Corinthians for £2 million on an unprotected contract. He could well be the answer particular as he also holds Austrian nationality.

As for the match, it couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start. 2 minutes into the match first choice central defender Javi Navarro gets into a dispute with the referee over his decision to award a free kick against Petit, is warned then issued a yellow card and finally, a red. He will of course receive a warning for this and could possibly face a fine particularly as he is liable to be banned for competitive matches at the start of the season. Back on the pitch the team have to last 88 minutes with ten men.

Despite the numerical advantage of the opposition, the match itself is fairly even. The excellent Robinho causing all sorts of problems again. However, on 30 minutes Beltran scores a well taken goal for Barakaldo, coming between two defenders and slotting home. 10 minutes later Robinho (working alone up front) picks up the ball on the halfway line from the goalkeeper’s pass, sets out on a run beating two opposition players before delightfully chipping their keeper. 1-1.

Things remain fairly tight until the 85th minute when Robinho exchanges positions with Antonio Lopez (on for the largely disappointing Jesuli) crosses from the left wing. Antonio Lopez in the centre forward position steals a yard on his marker and slots home. 2-1 to Seville.

That is not the end however, in the 90th minute Barakaldo right winger Jose Maria tries his luck from the halfway line and amazingly beats the backtracking Esteban. 2-2 and the final whistle goes in scenes reminiscent of the famous Nayim goal in the Cup Winner Cup Final. Thank goodness this was just a friendly

Summary

What can I say? An early stupid red card, two wonder goals including a last minute equalizer. Best to put this one down to experience and move on. I will however be giving Antonio Lopez a chance in the next fixture ahead of Jesuli. Finally, thanks to Simon F for his advice however I can't seem to work out how to use bold or italics

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Murcia 1 – Sevilla 2

First up, transfers. Adrianinho has accepted a contract and will join in January. Until then Kepa and Jesus Navas will share the duties of back up striker and whoever does best will get a permanent place in the first team. Renato has gone to Zaragoza for £3.6 million but this will be paid in instalments so I can’t spend it yet. (Sorry Toothless Gibbon – got your message a bit late!).

The match was a lot less exciting than the one against Barakaldo. From the start both teams suffered from some fussy refereeing and the came never really got into it’s stride due to all the stoppages. Robinho (excellent again) scored on 17 with a well taken shot. On 54 minutes Dario Silva latched onto a poor clearance from their goalkeeper and shot into an open net. It wasn’t until the 89th minute that Murcia even looked like scoring. However a mistake by Javi Navarro left Murcia striker Tato with a tap in. Final score 2-1.

Summary

Given the fact that Murcia are the best quality opposition we have faced so far I am fairly pleased with the result. I am a little worried about Javi Navarro (a pointless red card last match and a stupid mistake this time). He will be replaced so that Aitor Ocio can have a chance next time. The next match is against Cacereno and will present an opportunity for some of my lesser players to boost their fitness.

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Cacereno 2 – Sevilla 1

Not much to report on the transfer front other than defender Alvaro moving to Rayo for £220k.

The match itself once again started badly, Aitor Ocio making a bad mistake and letting their striker Marcos beat him and score past the helpless Antonio Notario. On 15 minutes we equalised, Kepa shaking off his defender and moving onto a poorly weighted cross from Jesus Nava. 5 minutes later Gerardo Torrado went off with an injured neck. He will be out for a week and is our first injury of note. Then the clincher, on 30 minutes bad marking at a corner allowed Cacereno striker Fernando a free header from which he scored. Then nothing, possibly the most boring hour of football ever.

Summary

I’m a little worried about our defence with both Javi Navarro and Aitor Ocio making stupid mistakes recently. Otherwise, I wasn’t really expecting much from this game. The team was almost completely made up ofplayers who will only come in when the first choice is injured or exhausted and , other than for cup games, a team looking like this is unlikely to feature in a competitive match. That said, it’s never nice to lose especially to as weak a team as Cacereno. Next up, the final friendly against Ourense and a final chance for some of the lesser players to prove their worth and get into the starting line up for the competitive fixtures.

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Ourense 1 – Sevilla 4

So then, the final friendly game. I gave chances to Aitor Ocio (who will start the first league game regardless due to the suspension to Javi Navarro), Antonio Lopez and Jesus Navas. Jesuli and Dario Silva (both of whom are performing well below par) stepped down. The match looked fairly even and on 21 minutes we went behind to a horrible deflection on a free kick. That proved the trigger for Robinho to run the show scoring 4 goals including what is becoming a trademark “beat the defender, chip the keeper†classic and a less spectacular poachers goal after their keeper spilled Jesus Navas’ shot. The guy hasn’t played a competitive match for us yet and is already on the way to legend status.

Summary

A pleasing result and a terrific performance from Robinho, just hope we are not going to be too much of a one man team. Given the performance, barring unforeseen circumstances, this will be the team that starts the season next month against Athletic Club Bibao.

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Apart from what Simon says, I'd also say, dont post so often you'll lose the readership. What you could do is write it in word then post every 3-4 games in one chunk. It might seem daft, but actually its easier for people as they dont see about 20 posts they've missed and then decide it isnt worth catching up. Theres no point in going to all the trouble of writing, then not giving your writer time to read.

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Sevilla 0 – Athletic Club Bilbao 0

So the transfer deadline came and went and the squad I’ve got is the one I’m stuck with at least until January. The headlines of the transfer window are undoubtedly Chelsea’s purchase of Totti for £32.5 million and Real Madrid’s acquisition of Ballack from Bayern for £16.25 million.

Then the bad news, two weeks prior to our opening game, star striker Robinho picks up a knock that will keep him out for a few weeks. It’s a race against time to get him fit for the opener that ultimately fails, although the injury has passed he simply isn’t fit enough to play. The same is true of Petit who is just short of match fitness. I am forced to play Dario Silva and Jesus Navas up front whilst Casquero comes in for Petit.

The match itself is unexceptional, Bilbao had the better chances (we didn’t get a shot on target) but overall our players performed slightly better than theirs and we never really looked like conceding.

Summary

Given the circumstances (new manager, star striker missing) I’m fairly pleased with this result. Obviously a win would have been better but at least we didn’t lose and we played quite solidly. If we can match Bilbao through the season I will be happy. Next up is Malaga away.

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Sevilla 2 – Litex 1

Oops, forgot about the midweek European match against Litex of Bulgaria. Still no Robinho, I’ll save him for Malaga, Petit came back though. Julio Baptista picked up a calf strain against Bilbao so Gerardo Torrado came in. This meant that the centre of midfield is completely different to the one that played against Bilbao. Also, Kepa came in for Dario Silva so the front line was made up of the two promising but young strikers.

All the goals came from set pieces. Our first was well taken by Jesus Navas from Navarro’s lob into the box from 40 yards. This was his first for the club although the way he is playing, even at 18, suggests it won’t be his last. They then equalised directly from a free kick on the edge of the area. The winner (of the game if not the tie) came when Fernando Sales headed in from a corner. Once again I am happy with the result. I just hope we can step up a gear once Robinho returns.

Malaga 2 – Sevilla 0

What a disaster. Robinho returns and plays his worst game since signing. Perhaps the pressure of his competitive debut got to him. The rest of the team fared no better and were out done by two classy goals from Alex Geijo, his first for Malaga. There is not much more to say really other than with Valencia away to come next week followed by difficult games against Litex, Athletico Madrid and Barcelona after that, it could be some time before the season gets going for us.

Valencia 4 – Sevilla 0

That was predicatable, Valencia dominated from first to last, their Italian strike force of Corradi and Di Viao taking us apart on a whim. Nobody in the team displayed anything like their best form. If things carry on this way I’ll be sacked before Christmas.

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Litex 2 – Sevilla 3 (aet)

The second leg of the European tie. We the went in 2-1 up from the previous match but on a woeful run of form. The majority of our players had low morale and to be honest I didn’t really fancy our chances. My mood didn’t get any better when they scored after 3 minutes – their right full back heading in from a corner. Although we pressed nothing much happened until the 73rd minute when they scored a breakaway goal to go 2-0 up on the night and 3-2 on aggregate. Things were looking bleak. However, we responded well and 6 minutes later Kepa crossed for Robinho to slot home, his first competitive goal for the club. With the scores level on aggregate we headed into extra time.

The introduction of three substitutes seemed to give the team a new lease of life and within a minute of the restart one of them, Dario Silva, had scored after a lovely inside pass from Robinho. Deep into the second period of extra time Dario Silva returned the complement as Robinho scored his second. Tired but elated, the team celebrated their progression to the league stage of the competition. The worry however is that they will not have time to recover effectively for the vital match against Athletico Madrid on Sunday.

Sevilla 2 – Athletico Madrid 3

After the excitement of the midweek European game it was back to our por league form. For the second game in a row we were down a goal within 3 minutes of the kick off, this time the young superstar Fernando Torres drawing three defenders and the keeper towards him so that when he passed to the Nano, all the young winger had to was to roll the ball into an empty net. Athletico doubled their advantage on 32 minutes, Nano breaking from deep and weighting a sublime pass that left Fernando Torres one on one with the keeper. Naturally he coolly slotted home. At this point it seemed as if the game would be a repeat of the Valencia debacle but on 63 minutes Zonneveld clawed one back, a well taken free kick and his first goal for the club. For a while it seemed as if we might even get something from the game until Salva headed in from close range on 76 minutes. This was followed by a superb cameo from Robinho. Obviously fired up he was given the ball at the kick of and ran through the gap left by the opposition midfield and flanked on either side by an opposition defender sent a wickedly outswinging shot from 30 yards past the goalkeeper and into the bottom left hand corner of the net. It was however to prove fruitless in the end as Athletico ran out winners by three gaols to two. After 4 matches we sit in 17th place, one outside the relegation zone and we face Barcelona away next, still at least we showed a little fighting spirit this time.

Barcelona 4 – Sevilla 0

A mild autumnal night at the Nou Camp, surely one of the best football arenas in the world. It is nights like this that every manager dreams of being a part of. What does not come up in the dream however is the thought of being absolutely thrashed. To be honest we were out played, out passed and out thought. All of their goals were beautifully taken and we only really started to play when, at 4-0 up they stepped down a gear. To make matters worse, arguably their best player, Ronaldinho, was injured and didn’t play. Probably best to draw a line and hope we can finally get our season up and running against Mallorca on Sunday.

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Sevilla 6 – Mallorca 0

At last something to celebrate. I was, as always, a little worried going into this one. Mallorca were unbeaten and we were coming off an atrocious run of form. Gerardo Torrado started and finished it. The first came on ten minutes, when, breaking from midfield he latched onto the ball and calmly slotted it past the keeper. His second and Sevilla’s sixth goal was a free kick. In between came a Robinho hat trick (all well taken) and another free kick from Zonneveld (a carbon copy of the goal he got against Athletico Madrid).

Naturally I am delighted. A clean sheet, Robinho back on form and showing signs of developing a partnership with Dario Silva, a hatful of goals, 3 points and perhaps most important of all some restored confidence in the team. The only cloud seems to be a slight knock that will put Robinho out of the midweek European game with Wil (no, I’ve never heard of them either) and possibly next weekend’s match against Numancia. However, both matches are at home, neither team is much fancied so I am quietly confident.

Sevilla 2 – Wil 0

It turns out that Wil are a Swiss team. Although I would have preferred to keep the team that did so well against Mallorca together, I was forced to make some changes. As well as Robinho, Dario Silva picked up a minor knock so the front line was once again the two youngsters Jesus Navas and Kepa. Petit was also replaced by Casquero.

The game went well from the start but it was not until the 58th minute that Gerardo Torrado, continuing his recent good form, broke from midfield, latched onto a good pass from Antonio Lopez and scored from just outside the area. The result was sealed when Jesus Navas picked up on their goalkeepers fumble and rolled the ball into an empty net. Roll on Sunday and Numancia.

Sevilla 2 – Numancia 0

The run of good form continues, not only a win but a third clean sheet in a row. For once it was our turn to score early, Robinho picking the ball up from the opposition defender’s foot and blasting past the oncoming keeper on 8 minutes. Ten minutes later Casquero shot from distance again beating their hapless keeper. 2-0 and game over.

I am now faced with a bit of a dilemma. The next match is away to Second Division Ferrol in the Copa del Rey. I had hoped to use mainly the back up team in this competition but I am worried that by doing so I could lose some of the momentum we have been gathering recently. In any case, the game is only a few days away so it is probable that the majority of the players who faced Numancia will not be sufficiently fit in any case. I’ll have to make my decision on the day.

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Ferrol 1 – Sevilla 0

This one was incredibly irritating. In the end I patched together a team made up of roughly half first team and half back up players. This means that the momentum is lost from the previous games, morale starts to drop again and many of the first team remain unrested. One player who did get a break was Robinho and it appears that if he is not playing or is not playing well we are nothing like the team we can be. This of course is worrying as any long term injury or loss of from Robinho will spell disaster for the team as a whole.

Their goal came on the half hour, a free kick that deflected off the wall straight to the feet of their left winger. The free kick and subsequent goal were the only two shots they had on target all match. Although we dominated we couldn’t convert any of the twenty or so chances we had and so we go out of the cup amidst a plethora of “giant killing†headlines. Next match is away to Monaco but at least we have eight days to recover.

Monaco 3 – Sevilla 0

Another disaster. Our defence looked clueless against their interchanging three man front line. With holes opening up all over the place they surgically picked us up. The only player who emerged with any credit was Robinho who at least tried but even he couldn’t do much with the meagre pickings he was forced to survive on. Hopefully we can pull ourselves together for the next match away to Albacete and what is now looking like a crucial opportunity to put some more points on the board.

One other thing, I’ve put in a bid for Juventus’ Croatian defender Igor Tudor. Should I be successful he will hopefully go some way to shoring up our leaky defence although he will not be able to join until January.

Albacete 1 Sevilla 1

I was expecting more from this match. We went ahead on 26 minutes, Antonio Lopez heading in a corner (his first competitive goal for the club despite a promising pre-season where he netted twice). From that point on we were on the defensive. Their goal came in the 57th when, with us defending way too deep, a free kick from their half somehow found their Uruguayan striker Pacheto completely unmarked in the area. He simply turned, shot and scored. Despite a number of promising attacks we were unable to restore our lead and had to settle for a point.

A quick note on the league table. We are currently in 16th with eight points. We do however have a game in hand which, should we win (unlikely given our present form), would take us up to eleventh. Perhaps unsurprisingly Real Madrid lead having taken 25 from a possible 27. Our main rivals, Betis, are in 13th with ten points. If we do not come above them come the end of the season the fans will lynch me so at present this goal is my main target.

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Sevilla 5 – Villareal 0

To state the cliché, it’s a funny old game. After a string of substandard performances we suddenly play like a dream. As matter of fact prior to this game several of my players were showing signs of discontent and beginning to lose faith in my ability. This time it was us who scored on three minutes, full back Redondo standing in at right wing due to injuries to both Fernando Sales and Marco Navas heading in a beautiful cross from Antonio Lopez. On 17 minutes Redondo crossed and their defender Pena accidentally o deflected the ball into his own net. Gerardo Torrado headed in the third from a corner on 31 minutes and a minute later Zonneveld scored his third goal of the season from a free kick (this is a useful aspect of his game that I had not really considered when I bought him at the begging of the season). Julio Baptista completed the rout on 66 minutes scoring a screamer from the edge of the penalty area.

A little side note here, our worst performer of the day (although by no means a discgrace) was Robinho. Given my misgivings about the “one man team†this was strangely encouraging. In fact, despite scoring 5, neither of the front men got on the scoresheet.

Next we play Real Sociedad away. They currently lie in tenth so any kind of result would be a real morale boost. It will be interesting to see how the more pessimistic members of my squad are feeling and how they respond to this convincing performance.

Real Sociedad 1 – Sevilla 4

This was without a doubt the most pleasing performance of the season so far and it could have been so different. On 11 minutes Javi Navarro was sent off for a professional foul and at the same point Marco Navas had to go of injured. Redondo stepped into the breach again and Kepa was sacrificed so Pablo could come into the defence. At this point I would have happily settled for a draw. It’s a good thing nobody told Robinho this as he relly got the bit between his teeth. Beating defenders at will he scored twice before Kovacevic clawed one back (again poor marking from a set piece, we really need to work on that in training. At that point it could have gone either way although Robinho was by far the best player on the pitch, causing havoc despite playing alone up front. He got his reward in the 82nd, another stunning run and beautifully placed goal. Finally, and as if to rub salt in the wound, he score his and our fourth on 86. An absolute masterclass and our first league away win of the season.

Robinho’s performance has given me a idea terms of tactics. He played so well alone up front that I may well try this when we next face one of the big boys, this will let me put another player into the midfield (not sure who yet) and should stop us from being so overrun, we face Real Madrid at home in a few weeks so I may well try this then or perhaps in the following game away to Deportivo.

There is more good news, Tudor accepted a contract and will join us on the 15th of December. Although his wage demands are high we can afford this and still keep within our weekly budget. I also snapped up Bruno Gama, an exciting Portuguese prospect recommended to me by my scouting team. He is only 17 and will play in the under 18s this season and then move up to the reserves next year. He also joins on the 15th of December.

Finally, a quick look at the league table. We currently have 14 points and are in 8th place, it’s amazing what a couple of good results can do for you. We’ve over taken Betis (currently 13th with 13 points, that’s how tight things are). Real Madrid continue to set the pace having only dropped 2 points. They have 28 points, second are Valencia with 23. Next up is an important European match at home to Bochum who are currently managerless having just sacked Peter Neururer. There are rumours that they are about to appoint ex Bayern Munich manager Ottmar Hitzfeld, let’s hope it happens after we face them.

Sevilla 5 – Bochum 0

Another stunning display. Julio Baptista got the ball rolling on 25 minutes, Robinho drawing two defenders to leave just enough space for the Brazilian defensive midfielder to place a sweetly taken shot to the keepers right. The second fell to Julio Baptista as well, heading in from close range after Javi Navarro knocked the ball into the box from a corner. The third was a well taken shot from Robinho moving onto a cross from Jesuli. Number four was from Dario Silva, beating the keeper after a one-two with Robinho. At 4-0 I felt it was safe to rest both Robinho and Julio Baptista, Jesus Navas and Petit coming on in their place. It was Petit who scored the fifth, a nicely taken free kick from the edge of the area.

The only sour note was the dismissal of Javi Navarro in the 90th minute, a second yellow card for a pointless trip on the young Danish striker Bechmann. In all honesty with three red cards so far thuis season (if you count the one issued in pre-season that kept him out of the opener) he is proving somewhat of a liability and it is likely that he will lose his place ahead of Aitor Ocio once Tudor joins next month.

Still, best not to dwell on the negatives, this win will almost certainly put us through to the second knock out stages of the competition which, if we are honest, is likely to be our only opportunitiy for silverware this season.

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Sevilla 2 – Betis 0

Derby day and the build up started early. Betis manager tried Serra Ferrer trying to take an early advantage by stating he fully expected to get the win. I responded by telling him that obviously the nature of the derby meant it would be competitive and that any talking should be done on the pitch. His subsequent silence indicated that I had the upper hand in this particular battle at least.

On the day the biggest crowd of the season turned up to see a predictably tight. Chances were few and far between but it was Dario Silva, at last repaying some of the faith I had in him, who took his. The first a nice break from just over the halfway line (where the Betis defence were holding far too high a line) on 21 minutes. The tie was eventually put beyond doubt in the 81st when io Silva Redondo picked up on opposition defenders mistake and passed to Dario Silva who scored with possibly the easiest chance he will have all season.

Once again I am pleased. A derby win is great for morale and for the fans and it also marks a continuation of our good form. Following the match I couldn’t resist a little dig at Betis and their manager, telling them how much I enjoyed the tactical victory. I don’t usually get involved in media slanging matches with other managers but he started it and they are our biggest rivals.

Panionios 1 – Sevilla 3

Another good win under our belt only marred by the dismissal of Pablo Alfaro. We went one up directly from the kick off, Dario Silva and Robinho interchanging passes and literally leaving their players on their backsides before Robinho finished from close range – a lovely display from two in form strikers.

Pablo Alfaro went on 52 minutes for a professional foul so Dario Silva made way for Pablo. At this point I was worried we might throw the game away but I needn’t have been concerned. Robinho, once again displaying his prowess as a lone striker, skipping past three challenges before sending a powerful shot past the keeper. The third was a mistake from their keeper, his clearance reaching only Robinho who took the ball forward free of pressure from the opposition defence and calmly beat the keeper. Their consolation came from a headed corner but was far too little, far too late.

Sevilla have qualified for the second knock out stage of the competition with the other teams in the group still to play their final matches. If Monaco fail to beat the Swiss team Wil, we will go through top but, given our abysmal performance against last year’s Champions League runners up earlier in the season, I will be more than happy with second place.

Levante 0 – Sevilla 0

All in all, a frustrating afternoon. The team looked tired and lacked focus, perhaps an indication of the number of games they have played recently. Early in the game Robinho was accused of diving and booked. Throughout the first half Levante constantly threatened and it was only some stout defending and inspired goalkeeping that kept them from scoring. The real turning point came just before half time when Robinho was again accused of diving and received his second booking. Down to ten men and showing no signs of getting a goal, things looked bleak.

Dario Silva, working alone up front, was particularly disappointing, a sign that the one striker idea is only likely to work with Robinho. This point was emphasised when Kepa replaced Dario Silva. Although he did slightly better our attack lacked quality throughout. Levante on the other hand pressed forward and looked dangerous, it is surprising that they are doing so badly in the league (19th place) and should they continue to play like they did today I can certainly see them pulling themselves out of trouble. Most annoyingly, Robinho is now suspended for the Real Madrid match as therefore the lone striker experiment will have to wait. Real beat Bilbao 3-0 this weekend, a return to form after a slight wobble, and to be honest I don’t fancy our chances much although you never can be sure in football.

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Sevilla 0 – Real Madrid 1

In all honesty our best chance of getting anything out of this fixture came when star striker Robinho received his second yellow card for diving in the previous fixture. As I have previously mentioned, I was planning on using him alone up front against the might of Real. This plan went out of the window as the quality of player we have in reserve just isn’t up to standard.

Real have a dazzling array of attacking talent. They started the match with Ronaldo and Michael Owen supported from the midfield by Figo, Ballack and Zidane. As if to rub salt in the wound, Raul, Beckham and Guti were all available on the bench.

The goal came early and from an unexpected source, Argentine centre back Walter Samuel making the most of a goal line scramble following a fifth minute corner. The remainder of the match saw Real squandering pleanty of good chances although we had our fair share including two well saved free kicks. When the final whistle blew it could easily have been a draw and I was proud of my players. At the very least we had avoided the mauling I had half expected.

Deportivo 1 – Sevilla 3

The new tactic worked like a dream. In the end I opted for a 4-1-4-1 formation, Robinho obviously acting as the lone striker and Gerardo Torrado being asked to act as the hatchet man in front of the back four (his remit – tackle hard, pass short and take no risks). Also, after what seems like months of waiting but was in fact only five weeks, Tudor joined and went straight into the back line.

Deportivo took the lead on 12 minutes, classy attacking midfielder heading in during the second phase after their original corner had been cleared. From then on though it was the Robinho show.

His first came on 20 minutes, drifting out wide he beat their left back Romero to pick up Casquero’s long pass, cut inside, dribbled round the keeper and slotted home. The second came after some good interplay between Robinho, Casquero, Julio Baptista and Fernando Sales ended with the latter passing across the penalty area to find Robinho who calmly rolled the ball into the net. The final goal saw Robinho complete his hat trick when Deportivo, pushing for an equaliser, were caught on the break. Jesuli passed to Robinho and defender Jorge Andrade’s skewed clearance only delayed Robinho slightly as he picked up the ball and chipped the on rushing keeper. 3-1 game over. The only question is whether I keep the same tactic against the next opposition, Espanyol away.

Espanyol 2 – Sevilla 2

In the end I decided to go back to my familiar 4-4-2. The lone striker tactic worked well against Deportivo but I wonder how much that was to do with the surprise element. I don’t want to lose that when I have to face top teams and the team were just starting to perform with the 4-4-2. Also, the lone striker tactic takes a lot out of Robinho and I don’t want to risk a long term injury by wearing him down too much.

They scored first after 26 minutes, on loan midfielder Ito spinning off the back of Pablo Alfaro and latching onto Ibarra’s long pass to slot home. The equaliser came 12 minutes later when Robinho picked up the ever improving Jesus Navas’ defence splitting pass. Our second was almost a carbon copy of the first, Jesus Navas again supplying the ammunition for Robinho to finish although this time with his head. Their equaliser was disappointing particularly given the time it was scored, 86 minutes. A mix up between Tudor and Julio Baptista in the penalty area left Raul Tamudo with a free header. 2-2 and no time to respond.

A quick note on Tudor. He performed very well against Deportivo and did well again against Espanyol, the only blemish his mix up with Julio Baptista. At 26, an established international with big club experience and only £2.2 million he looks like a good buy and should relish the opportunity of playing regular football, something he wasn’t getting at Juventus.

Racing 1 – Sevilla 2

The final game before the winter break and a win to boot. Again using the 4-4-2 formation, we scored first, Zonneveld finding Robinho in enough space in the penalty area to turn a shoot. They equalised of 54 minutes, Javi Guerrero wrong footing Tudor and scoring with a powerful shot. The winner came on 68, Jesus Navas capitalising on his recent good form by picking up a lovely inside ball from the similarly named Marco Navas and firing home. All in all, a satisfactory end to a satisfactory half season.

Half Term Report

So, how am I doing. The club are in eighth place with 26 points, five points of fourth place and a Champions League place (surely a step too far this season). Recent form has been good after an atrocious start. City rivals Betis are in 14th place with 14 points. We are still in the UEFA cup although we are out of the Copa del Rey.

My signings have for the most part looked very good. Robinho has been an absolute revelation, equally adept as a lone striker or in a partnership he has been scoring goals for fun. He is currently second in the league goals scored table with 15 (behind Fernando Torres who has 17, what a partnership those two would make) and has another 6 in the UEFA cup. He is without doubt my star player.

Zonneveld has been consistently solid, performing well without ever giving any cause for concern. He has also chipped in with a few well taken free kicks and broken into the Holland international set up. Again, a pleasing start.

Tudor has only been with us for three matches but already looks like he will give the defence some of the solidity they have been lacking.

Petit on the other hand looks as though his best days are behind him and will probably not get that much opportunity to play. It’s a pity because in his prime he was a marvellous player.

As for the rest of the team, the only real worry I have is on each wing. None of the players I have here have really excelled and I am more than likely going to use January signing Adrianinho on the left wing where he can play as well as up front. The two youngsters up front have both done okay and I am particularly pleased with Jesus Navas who at 18 looks like he could be some player.

Financially we are in the black but could do with making some money being £10 million down for the season (largely due to the transfer outlay on Robinho, Zonneveld and Tudor). Perhaps some of our transfer listed players will be snapped up during the January transfer window. We are well within our weekly wage budget.

Both the board and the supporters are satisfied (but not happy) with my overall performance.

To sum up, I am cautiously optimistic about the future, things could go either way but were the season to finish now I would be confident at least of keeping my job.

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Sevilla 9 – Osasuna 1

Yes you read that right. An absolutely stroming performance for my well rested team. It would take too long to go through every goal but to put you in the picture, Zonneveld got us under way in the fourth minute with a well taken penalty (incredibly our first of the season) and Tudor finished it of with a header from a corner. In between Robinho and Casqueras got two each whilst Dario Silva, Fernando Sales and Jesus Navas all contributed one. New boy Adraininho, coming in on the left wing got three assists and looked fantastic. We were 6-0 up at half time so I took the opportunity to rest Robinho. Oh, and Osasuna had, until this point, been having good a season and are currently in seventh, one place behind us who have moved into sixth place.

After such a comprehensive victory it seems somewhat churlish to talk about improving the team but you may be interested to know that I have secured the services of four players on free transfers for next year. Joining us will be Oude Kamphuis, a Dutch right back to replace the disappointing Redondo whose contract is expiring and will not be renewed. The other three are all experienced Brazilians, right wing Robson Ponte, left wing Savio and left footed striker Amoruso. Hopefully these new signings will give the squad an injection of quality and a bit more strength in depth.

Sevilla 6 – Getafe 0

Another home game and another stunning result. Dario Silva got us under way with goals on 10 and 16 minutes, both well taken headers from crosses. Pablo Alfaro headed in a corner in the 29th minute and we went in confidently 3-0 up in half time. Zonneveld scored from the spot for the second time in successive games soon after the break and Robinho turned and shot for the teams fifth on 52. I was able to substitute both him and Adrianinho (fantastic on the wing once again) soon after. Zonneveld finished it of with a well placed shot from the edge of the area, his sixth of the season but first from open play. One bad point, Robinho picked up a booking and will get an automatic one match ban. Otherwise, I’m walking on air.

Zaragoza 0 – Sevilla 0

To be honest I was expecting an end to our good form. Firstly we were away from home to a solid team. Secondly with Robinho suspended and Dario Silva exhausted I was forced top play Jesus Navas and Kepa up front. Also replaced for fitness reasons were Zonneveld and Julio Baptista. The match itself was, to put it bluntly, boring. The good points being the continued good form of both new signings, Tudor and Adrianinho.

We have now played everybody and are in sixth place, amazingly only two points behind Deportivo in third. Next up is Athletic Club Bilbao away, the team we started the season with a 0-0 draw against. In that game we didn’t get a shot on target, whatever the result I don’t think there will be repeat of that.

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Athletic Club Bilbao 4 – Sevilla 0

I shouldn’t have opened my mouth. With Robinho absent once again (this time on international duty with Brazil,he scored twice, his first for his country) we lacked any class up front and, almost predictably, failed to get a shot on target.

They dominated from the word go, Tiko got a hat trick (a penalty from Tudor’s handball and two shots from the edge of the area. Urzaiz got the other. Nobody on the Seville team even came close to raising their game. Enough said.

Sevilla 4 – Malaga 0

A return to form for the team that had shown signs of weakness in their previous fixtures. With Robinho still away on international duty I decided to start with Adrianinho partnering Dario Silva up front. A quick aside here, Robinho is away with Brazil playing in the North American Gold Cup. I can’t see how Brazil, a Soth American team, even got in the competition. Moreover, the fact that they are there almost guarantees them a win (Mexico and the USA being the only possible challenge to them). Finally, is there anyway I can complain about my star striker being taken away from me at such a vital point of the season for what is, in effect, a completely meaningless competition.

Anyway, back to the match. The decision to play Adrianinho up front certainly seemed to pay off and although he didn’t score he was a constant threat and he proved an assist for Dario Silva’s eighth goal of the season. Sandwiching this goal were contributions from Pablo Alfaro, both headers from corners. The fourth was a well taken shot from Jesus Navas. A good result but with matches against Valenica, Athletico Madrid, Barcelona and the first of two European ties against Steaua Bucharest coming up I could really do with Robinho coming back.

Sevilla 1 – Valencia 1

With Robinho still half way around the world I kept to the same team that did so well against Malaga. After a cagey start Dario Silva took advantage of Valencia’s inability to clear a free kick and calmly socred to put us one nil up. This advantage lasted until the 40th minute when Di Viao showed his class and sent a screamer past the despairing Esteban. Whilst both sides had chances to win it, the score remained at 1-1. Next up we are away to Athletico Madrid and, should Robinho return, a perfect opportunity to bring out the lone striker formation.

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Athletico Madrid 2 – Sevilla 0

With Robinho still away I scrapped the idea of using a lone striker. I thought about using Adrianinho but although he is playing well, he is yet to score so this seemed like too much of a risk. I did make one tactical change though, after the run around that Fernando Torres gave us in the home fixture I decided to man mark him. This is unusual for me as I usually adopt a zonal marking system but the circumstances seemed appropriate. The job fell too Tudor.

The marking job seemed to be working, Fernando Torres seemed unusually quiet and it was Juan Sebastian Veron, a purchase from Chelsea who opened the scoring showing some of the form he displayed prior to his ill fated move to Man Utd in 2001 with a powerful shot from 30 yards.

Things got worse in the 83rd minute when Tudor was sent off for a second yellow card (both cards for fouls on Fernando Torres) and Colsa scored from the resulting free kick. 2-0, down to 10 men, game over.

Sevilla 2 – Barcelona 0

Robinho returns and so does our form. Quickly on Robinho, he played all five matches during the tournament scoring four goals en route to the final in which Brazil won 2-0. The boy is going to be an absolute superstar.

I started the match with a familiar 4-4-2, Aitor Ocio coming in for the suspended Tudor. Fernando Sales opened the scoring on 21 minutes with a magnificent free kick. Just before half time Robinho marked his return with a well taken goal and we went in 2-0 up. On the downside Adrianinho went off after 8 minutes and will be out for a week with a sprained wrist.

I decided to try the lone striker tactic in the second half, Gerardo Torrado coming on for Dario Silva. Whilst we didn’t add to our score, this limited Barcelona’s chances to long shots and the odd set piece. I am of course overjoyed to beat one of the best teams not just in Spain but the world. We can go into the away match on Thursday against Steaua with some confidence.

Steaua Bucharest 3 – Sevilla 1

I’m going to give up making predictions, they always seem to go against me. The key factor in this game lay in the defence, with Tudor unavailable after being registered for Europe by Juventus and Pablo Alfaro serving a suspension the defence was formed by the untried partnership of Pablo and Aitor Ocio. It would prove decisive.

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Steaua’s first was the most controversial, Munteanu diving for a penalty. The second from Gheorghe was much less of a talking point, bad marking giving him an easy chance from close range. Our precious away goal was headed in by Julio Baptista from a well worked free kick. Their third was a free kick after Pablo fouled on the edge of the penalty area. The return tie should be interesting.

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Mallorca 2 – Sevilla 1

This match must have felt like revenge for the Mallorca team. Their first goal came early from Jesus Perera bafter good interplay between their forwards and midfield. Our equaliser came, for the second time in arrow, from the head of Julio Baptista, this time from a corner. They saved the best to last, recent signing Zenden beating the defender before chipping the keeper, the type of goal Robinho has been scoring all season.

Sevilla 1 - Steaua Bucharest 0

A win but not enough to take us through. Our last chance of getting hold of siloverware for the season gone. It all started so well, Robinho volleying into the net after only 2 minutes. A penalty after their keeper fouled Julio Baptista followed on 15 minutes. The keeper somehow escaped a booking and should really have walked but the referee bottled the decision. Fernando Sales stepped up and hit the post. It would be our best chance. Steaua came with one game plan, to defend. It paid off, they restricted our chances to 3 shots on goal (one of which was the goal), they only had one shot all game and we had over two thirds of the possession. Given how ell they played in the first match and the tactics they adopted in the second they probably deserved to go through, but only just.

Sevilla 2 – Albacete 0

Following our failure to progress to the next round I was worried that low morale could have an effect on our performance on a game that, on paper at least, we should win easily.

As it turned out my fears were not totally unfounded. Our performance was lacklustre and it wasn’t until the beginning of the second half that we scored, Robinho picking up on Dario Silva’s short pass and blasting past the keepers left. Even then though we rode our luck and it wasn’t until Tudor headed in a corner in the 89th minute that the outcome of the tie was put beyond doubt. That said, a win is a win and we have three more valuable points.

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Numancia 1 – Sevilla 3

Numancia are the worst team in the division. They have only won two games all season and are as good as relegated already. To this therefore should have been three easy points and a chance to consolidate our position. At half time however, things were not going to plan. They went 1-0 up on 24 minutes, a well taken free kick.

My half time dressing down seemed to do the trick with the whole team (but Robinho especially) suddenly coming to life. On 47 minutes we had drawn level, Robinho, seeing their keeper in no-mans land, executing a perfect lobbed goal. Our second and third also came from the boot of our young Brazialian sensation, both goals coming when he broke from the shoulder of his marker, both created by compatriot Adrianinho. Our next match is at home to Deportivo. I will probably use the lone striker tactic that worked so well in the away fixture.

Sevilla 4 – Deportivo 0

Deportivo are having a strange season. In the league they are performing well below the expectations you would expect of a team of their recent stature. However in the Champions League they are doing excellently, beating Juventus to get through to the quarter finals on the Wednesday prior to this match.

I’m not sure whether it was fatigue catching up with them, something symptomatic in their league form or good tactics that made this such a resoundingly good result for us, probably a mixture of the three. Robinho once again played excellently on his own up front although it was Fernando Sales who got us underway, arriving late in the box to head in Adrianinho’s perfectly weighted cross. The second was a Robinho classic, with Deportivo defending high up the pitch he beat the offside trap, ran the ball from the half way line and finished with an exquisite shot that that beat the keeper both by coming up then down as well as swerving wickedly left to right.

With Robinho tiring I took a gamble and replaced him with Dario Silva on 65. Dario Silva promptly repaid my faith by heading in Zonneveld’s cross in the 75th minute. Ten minutes later he was at it again, this time blasting a powerful shot past the keepers left. All in all a very satisfying result.

Villareal 0 – Sevilla 0

Another frustrating one this. At the beginning I was unsure whether to go for a lone striker of the familiar 4-4-2. A look at the home leg showed that we trounced hem 5-0 using the 4-4-2 so this is what I went with. However on 31 minutes Dario Silva went off injured so I bought on Petit and went to the lone striker option. On 49 minutes however disaster struck when Robinho was sent off with his second yellow card (both for diving and the second time this has happened this season) Off went Petit (who will not be happy with that but has just decided to retire at the end of the season so I’m not too worried about keeping him happy) and on came Jesus Navas, the youngster given the difficult job of working on his own up front. Althouh we had chances the score was to remain 0-0. It also means that with Kepa and Dario Silva both injured and Robinho suspended, I am going to have to use the untried and, let’s face it, goal shy partnership of Jesus Navas and Adrianinho up front in the next fixture at home to Real Sociedad.

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Sevilla 1 – Real Sociedad 0

In the event, Dario Silva recovered in time to play and it was he who got the only goal of the match. On the stroke of half time he found enough space in the opposition penalty area to receive the ball with his back to goal, turn and fire home. I started with Adrianinho as his attacking partner. However, whilst his performances of the left wing have been somewhat inspirational, as a striker he looks lightweight and once again he failed to make an impression. Eventually he dropped back to the wing and Jesus Navas to his place up front.

Betis 2 – Sevilla 0

A reversal of the fixture earlier in the season and a completely lacklustre performance. Sickening news a few days before the match was that Robinho will be out for the next month with a neck injury, that could spell disaster for us unless one of our other forwards can find a consistent scoring touch. Also, the manager who tried to goad me earlier in the season Serra Ferrer has since been sacked and their assistant manager Alexsis has taken over first team affair. This has led to an improvement in form that had pushed them up to sixth in the table, one place behind us, going into the match.

Despite the absence of Robinho and with Adrianinho also absent, I decided to use the lone striker option, Dario Silva taking the role. The gamble did not pay off, Arzu scoring with a shot the keeper really should have saved. At half time I changed back to a 4-4-2 but to be honest we never really got going, Arzu scoring again to make it safe just before the end.

I’m a little worried now, with Robinho out we have given up 5th place to our rivals and still have to go to the Bernabeu for the away match against Real Madrid. I really had my heart set on coming above Betis this season.

Sevilla 3 – Levante 0

Despite the fact that Levante are in 18th place, I was suitably impressed with them in the away fixture. Add to this the fact that Dario Silva was suspended and therefore joined Robinho on the absence list and I went into the match slightly apprehensive.

Starting with Adrianinho and Jesus Navas up front I was worried that we would lack fire power. I needn’t have been concerned, Jesus Navas scoring well taken goals before and after half time. Kepa , on for Jesus Navas for the final 20 minutes, got his first goal for the club. It is probably too little to late though as Jesus Navas, now 19, is improving with every game and Amoroso is joining us in the close season.

Finally, Betis lost to Valencia this weekend so with the three points we got here we reclaim 5th place.

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Osasuna 1 – Sevilla 1

A disappointing draw. Once again we never really got going and were punished just before half time when their Serbian striker Milosevic broke free from his marker and chipped the keeper, the ball going in off the post. The equaliser came on 56 when Dario Silva forced a penalty from Josetxo on the very edge of the area. Adrianinho, playing on the left wing, once again missed a couple of golden opportunities. I am hoping it is just a mental block and that once he gets one they will begin to flow. Real Madrid next and once again I don’t hold out much hope.

Real Madrid 8 – Sevilla 0

My only hope for this game was that, having tied up the league already, Real might lay off a little. Some hope. Their class told from first to last, Ronaldo got 4, Morientes 3 and Roberto Carlos the other. Betis have got six points in their last two matches, we have got 1. The entire season is looking to be on the verge of collapse.

Sevilla 1 – Espanyol 1

Another poor result. Tudor was the only real shining light, scoring from a corner and putting in an immense performance at the back. He couldn’t do much about their goal though, Martin Posse jinking in from the left wing, beating Aitor Ocio and finishing well. At the death Tudor had another possible goal from a headed corner harshly disallowed.

Betis drew with Barcelona, a game I was hoping they would lose. They remain four points ahead of us with three to play and barring a disaster should therefore finish above us.

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Sevilla 0 – Racing 3

In quite possibly our poorest result of the season we are taken apart by a team hovering above the relegation places. We miss a penalty and then cave in almost completely. We have dropped two places in the league to eighth, both Athletic Club Bilbao and Deportivo leap frogging us. The only poistive being that Betis also lost (to Albacete) but with four points more than us and only two remaining games, catching them looks a folorn hope.

Getafe 2 – Sevilla 1

Robinho retunrs and does precisely nothing. Our gaol is a header from a corner, scored by Petit in what is likely to be his last ever game for us (Julio Baptista is suspended, Gerardo Torrado is injured). They score two simple goals and our season is as good as over. We drop another bther place to ninth (Espanyol taking advantage) and is Betis are now mathematically out of reach. Just to rub salt in my wounds, future free transfer signing Amoroso has damaged his spine and will be out for 11 months. Regrettably I have had to cancel the transfer.

Sevilla 3 – Zaragoza 0

The last game of season and we finally give the fans something to shout about. It’s all too little to late and makes no difference to at leastr league position (we finish ninth) but at least it is a win.

Robinho gets the first two goals, breaking from the half way line, executing a nice one-two with Dario Silva, beating their last defender then slotting home for the first. The second was less spectacular, finding space on the edge of area he advances, wrong foots the keeper and finishes. The third is a penalty, well taken by Casquero.

So, how do I feel. It’s been a real up and down season. The start and end were, to be frank appalling, but in between we played some quality football and pulled of some good results. This mid-season consistency is what I will be looking for throughout next season. The next post will be a full assessment of the season.

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Player Assessment

Goalkeepers

Esteban – mostly solid without ever really excelling, his drop in from at the end of the season coincided with us losing vital points. If I can find a suitable replacement for the right price he may well drop down to the back up position.

Antonio Notario – didn’t really get a chance. He will never be the first choice he believes he should be and therefore his contract is expiring and will not be renewed.

Right Full Back

Redondo – never really recovered from a bad start to the season, his contract is expiring and will not be renewed.

Daniel - the young Brazilian came in from Redondo a never looked back. A good season and a bright future.

Left Full Back

David – solid if uninspiring back up player, will be with us again next season

Zonneveld – the new signing performed well backing up his solid performances with some well taken free kicks and penalties. Will begin the new season confident of his place in the first team.

Centre Back (right footed)

Javi Navarro – disappointing season marred by poor performances and unnecessary bookings and dismissals. Is unhappy at losing his place in the team but only has himself to blame. Placed on the transfer list and dropped to the reserves.

Aitor Ocio – the back up player largely performed well when called upon and will retain his place in the squad next season.

Igor Tudor – the mid-season signing came in and did a good job, he will be one of the first names on the team sheet next season.

Centre Back (left footed)

Pablo Alfaro – performed well. At 35 though he my well have to settle for a back up position next season

Pablo – very disappointing, placed on transfer list and relegated to the reserves

Right Wing

Marco Navas – another disappointment, transfer listed and put in the ‘B’ team

Fernando Sales – after an up and down season that ultimately turned out with more positives than negatives he will be the back up player next year

Left Wing

Antonio Lopez – another up and down season, will challenge new signing Savio for the back up position next season

Jesuli – the old boys return from Celta was a major disappointment. Will be transferred at the first available opportunity and will play for the reserves until then

Adrianinho – the January signing came in and added a touch of class to the team. The only downside is the lack of a goal but hopefully this is an aspect of his game as first choice next season

Centre Midfield (right foot)

Julio Baptista – a good season, he held of the strong challenge for his place by Gerardo Torrado and will keep his place next year

Gerardo Torrado – another good season, as well as challenging Julio Baptista he performed well in the midfield spoiling role required for the lone striker tactic. Let’s hope for more of the same next year

Centre Midfield (left foot)

Petit – the only one of my signings to disappoint. He is retiring and will not really be missed.

Casquero – possibly the biggest revelation of the season, made the position his own and will continue to play here next season

Striker/Forward (right foot)

Jesus Navas – the youngster showed improvement throughout the season and will keep the back up place ahead of Kepa next season

Dario Silva – solid if not spectacular. Will have to improve and increase his goal tally if he is to resist the challenge from the ever improving Jesus Navas

Kepa – never really shone and will be put on the transfer list and relegated to the reserves

Striker/Forward (left foot)

Robinho – what can I say, exceptional and he will only get better

Finances

This is somewhat embarrassing. We made a loss last season of nearly £20 million. Although we remain within our wage budget, any repeat of this in the coming season will send the club teetering towards bankruptcy.

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Just a quick note from the author. I've really enjoyed writing down my experiences and found that it has improved my enjoyment of the game. I also found that I have a much deeper insight into how my team are doing and that by writing everything down the whole things seems more real. I would however be interested to know if anyone is actually taking the time to read all this so if you have, thank you, and let me know what you think.

Finally I am going to start a new thread detailing how I get on for my "difficult second season".

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New Season, New Start

It seems like only yesterday that we were turning out against Zaragoza in our final game of the season but in fact it has been seven weeks. Whilst the players have been taking a well earned rest (and for some it will be the last significant break they get for two years should they be involved in next summer’s World Cup), I have been busy in the transfer market.

As well as the free transfers of Oude Kamphuis, Robson Ponte and Savio that were sorted out in January, I have picked up talented young keeper Luca Tiozzo from Milan. Experienced centre back Paulo Montero will join his ex-Juventus team mate Tudor to form the centre of our defence. In a swap deal with Liverpool Diouf and Baros join with Fernando Sales going the other way. Exciting prospect Raul Albiol will join us at the end of the month as cover for central midfielder Casquero and I have made an enquiry about highly rated Brazilian keeper Fabio.

All of this is very exciting. However, our disappointing league position from last year means that our only chance of playing in Europe this season is by winning the Euro Vase trophy to get into the UEFA cup. Unfortunately the registration deadline for the competition came before we had made any of the aforementioned signings. The team we are fielding therefore has a familiar feel to it although it is worth mentioning that Bruno Gama, the exciting youngster we picked up from Porto in January will be making his debut. The tie is against Denizlispor and the home leg is first. The team are fairly unfit but I am hopeful that the same is true for them. It’s good to be back…..

Sevilla 3 – Denizlispor 3

Although the players may have just returned from their summer break, they didn’t waste time in getting involved in a full blooded end to end cup tie. With six goals, three dismissals and 11 yellow cards the match certainly kept the onlooker entertained.

Robinho started the ball rolling, picking up where he left off at the end of last season with a beautifully placed shot from a difficult angle on 6 minutes . Four minutes later the Turkish side replied, defensive midfielder Yusuf Cem rolled home after their strike force, having run rings around our defence, left him with plenty of space and not a marker in sight. Deep into added time in the first half their striker Yilmaz Serkan headed in from a good cross and they went in with an advantage.

Things were level again within minutes of the restart, Robinho proving that he is not all fancy flicks and wonder goals by heading in a corner delivered by impressive teenage debutant Bruno Gama. Aitor Ocio was sent off on 83 minutes, a harsh second yellow card for a perceived trip on Volkan. Minutes later Antonio Lopez broke from the halfway line and found the tricky teenage forward Jesus Navas in plenty of space. He took his goal with aplomb. With just a few minutes of the game left you could be forgiven for thinking that it was all over but, in a lesson to all those supporters who leave early to avoid the crowds, there was still time for two dismissals and a goal. Turkish defender Ali Onur was the first to go, again a second yellow card for a trip. Moments later Seville full back David, standing in in central defence brought down Yilmaz Serkan in the area and got a straight red for a professional foul. Volkan scored from the resulting penalty. Deep into injury time, Jesus Navas could have won it for Sevilla but his shot went just wide.

With three away goals and home advantage in the next match , the Turkish side will go in confident but at this early stage of the season it could still go either way.

Denizlispor 3 - Sevilla 5

In footballing sense, a trip to Turkey is always a nerve wracking experience. We knew we could expect a passionate crowd, sweltering conditions and, judging from the first match, good quality opposition. Add to this the fact that we knew we had to score (and almost certainly score more than once) if we were going to advance to the next round.

With just a minute on the clock, Robinho got us under way, breaking clear of their defensive line he blasted a powerful shot past the keeper’s right and into the corner of the net. Minutes later we should have extended our lead, Dario Silva riding a nasty tackle just inside the area stayed on his feet and stroked the ball into the net. The referee meanwhile failed to play the advantage and blew for a penalty. The striker having made the opportunity stepped up to take the spot kick and promptly hit it straight at the keeper who saved comfortably.

On twenty minutes Dario Silva made some amends by putting their defender Baris under so much pressure that he put the ball past his own keeper. A minute later Ali Onur upended Robinho in the area and a second penalty was awarded. This time Robinho stepped up and made no mistake with an unstoppable effort. Just four minutes after that Robinho turned provider, rolling the ball back so that Adrianinho could finally open his account for the club. There was still time for one more before half time, Robinho completing his hat trick with a trade mark goal, beating a defender before chipping the keeper.

At 5-0 down Denizlispor suddenly started to play, three times (the first directly from the kick off) they cut our team to pieces with exquisite interplay of passing using practically the whole team to literally pass the ball into the net. In the end it didn’t matter though and we win this extraordinary tie 8-6 on aggregate.

The draw for the semi final presents us with a very different prospect, German side HSV of Hamburg. It also looks as if we will be missing star player Robinho who suffered a damaged shoulder during the last match and can expect to be out for up to a week.

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HSV 2 – Sevilla 0

As predicted, this game bore no resemblance to the matches against Denizlispor. With both Julio Baptista and Gerardo Torrado both injured I was forced to pair Casquero with Adrianinho in the centre of my midfield. This gave us an uncharacteristically lightweight centre and this was to show from the start. The midfield was consistently overrun as the German team squandered chance after chance. To make matters worse, the very young Bruno Gama, after good performances against the Turks, looked out of his depth. Finally, senior forward Dario Silva looked static in attack and it was left to Jesus Navas, standing in for Robinho, to forage for the ball in those rare moments we had any viable possession.

After a number of good chances, they finally went ahead on the half hour, the lively Emile Mpenza finding himself completely unmarked on the far post after a corner. It was easier for him to score than to miss. Things stayed the same way until ten minutes from the end when Hleb deceived everybody by firing a shot from the edge of the area whilst advancing in the opposite direction.

Whilst it is frustrating that our squad for this competition looks so thin whilst a number of unregistered quality internationals look on. It does however provide us with an interesting challenge. Also, a criticism of this competition is it leads to fatigue later in the season. However with so many likely first team players unavailable this should not be too much of a problem.

As for the return match, it looks like a tall order. We will be keeping our fingers crossed that Robinho and one of either Julio Baptista or Gerardo Torrado return. Even then, HSV look like a typical German side, well organised, strong with touches of quality throughout the team.

Sevilla 1 – HSV 0

In the event both Robinho and Gerardo Torrado returned and as a result the match took on a very different complexion to the one played in Hamburg. In the 9th minute, for the second time in this competition, Robinho headed in a corner delivered by Bruno Gama. That however proved to be the only goal of the match. HSV adopted a policy of defence, spending large periods of the match with all eleven players behind the ball. Although not adding much to the overall spectacle of the match it proved an effective policy and the German side advance at our expense.

Although disappointed I don’t see this as the end of the world. Our players have for the most part acquitted themselves well, we have scored some good goals and, with the new signings can go into the new season proper with some optimism. As we will not have the distraction of Europe so can concentrate solely on our league form although given the choice I would have opted for the prestige and income that comes from a run in the UEFA cup. Finally the board have made some extra funds available for transfers so I am able to actively pursue the signing of talented Brazilian goalkeeper Fapbio, hopefully the last piece in the jigsaw.

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I've just read your first season. You seemed to be either on fire, hammering goals in like there was no tomorrow, or firing complete blanks. Nothing in the middle. But how did you cope with losing £20mill icon_eek.gif.

One comment I would make is that you might want to put the name of the competition beside the teams/scores. Just an idea. Not everybody does it but I like it.

KUTGW icon14.gif

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What a lovely surprise. I've got bad news though I'm afraid, my computer suffered a bad crash over the weekend and as I result I have had to do a full system recovery/start from scratch job on it. This means I have lost all my data (and my tactics). That makes this the end of the story. I will however start a new one soon - any suggestions on what team I should manage?

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I do not know if you want to stick with Spain or want to try another league.

In CM and FM I always play old glories of the big leagues and try to bring them back to their old status, and right now one of the most exciting challenges can be Saint Etienne from France. They are back from few years of bad second division experience and the tema is young and hngry with a lot of potential.

In case you want to change league, Saint Etienne can be a good team to play.

Cheers

Alex

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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Alex Rolfe:

What a lovely surprise. I've got bad news though I'm afraid, my computer suffered a bad crash over the weekend and as I result I have had to do a full system recovery/start from scratch job on it. This means I have lost all my data (and my tactics). That makes this the end of the story. I will however start a new one soon - any suggestions on what team I should manage? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

No one has done a story on Cartagonova. Oh wait... icon_wink.gif

I like continental football, so a story from Spain, France or Italy would go down well with me. Actually, there are few stories that seem to come from Portugal, so a trip there could be alright!

This story was very good, and I know the feeling of having it shut down prematurely by a malfunctioning computer. Look forward to the next one.

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