The Unexpected Champions – Part 1 | @verbist_philip

Hallo allemaal!

I hope you have been enjoying summer so far and more importantly the start of our new blog season. I am honoured to be part of the Blog Squad and I am excited to present you my new save!

A new save I hear you say? Well, for the past couple of weeks I have been wondering how to continue my Beveren save. But every time the question popped up in my mind, there was this tiny little voice saying I shouldn’t it. Perhaps I shouldn’t make decisions after 2 strong Belgian beers, but the little voice is right. I did exactly what I wanted to do in the Beveren save and it is time for something new.

The Beveren blog was about building a squad from scratch, making them better over time and trying to peak at the 2006 WC. So why don’t we do the exact opposite in a new save? Spend money and go for immediate short-term success. I want to stay in the Belgian league and what better team to start with with then Lierse.

Why Lierse? The answer is simple. They were the unexpected champions in the 96-97 season, so when you start a save in the Belgian league they are the defending champions. Did they have a lot of star players? Actually they didn’t. As a team they were very difficult to beat and the architect of the success was manager Eric Gerets.

What usually happens to an unexpected winner, also happened to Lierse. Eric Gerets moved on to Club Brugge and many of the key players left to other (better) teams.

I have never managed them before in cm9798, but I know the pattern. They spend a lot of money trying to defend their title and keep up with the Big Three. To no avail, let’s be honest. They never seem to buy the right players, they nearly always end up with a deficit and they slide back into mediocrity.

Can we do better? I will play 5 seasons in total. Our short-term goal is clear: retain the title. But I also want to accomplish something a Belgian team never did in real and I also couldn’t achieve with my Beveren save: winning the Champions League. Let’s be bold and ambitious shall we?! We should, but give me 5 seasons trying to accomplish that *smiles*.

Alright, back to the “reality” of cm9798! The squad is smaller than I imagined and when I try to pull together my starting XI, it becomes very clear: no matter how much I like @9798Nikolai’s sweeping keeper tactic, without reinforcements this is gonna be a lost cause. I even have to move Zdebel a bit to the right because there is no decent central midfielder!

Dear Lord, what have I done? Our first priority is an attacking midfielder. I don’t know what qualities you want to have in a number 8, but to me there is only 1 crucial stat and this is heading. Don’t ask me why, but somehow that makes the team run better.

Are the top players interested in a move to the city of Lier? That turns out to be a bit of disappointment. Quality players like Wijnhard, Jarman and Graef are interested, but with better teams chasing them, I don’t want to waste my time in battles I am most likely not going to win.

An available attacking midfielder with good heading skills, it’s a rare breed it seems. How about Esteban Valencia? He fits the bill, a bit on the expensive side, but we can also use him as a forward.

Here’s another good one: Marek Citko. An ability of 155 and potential of -1, he should add value. The tricky part is that his stats, with a few exceptions, are blank. It’s worth a risk. If worse comes to worse, we’ll put him on the transfer list and try to get a bit of our 170K investment back.

Defence wins championships. Enter Andrei Ivanov. He even has a 1 for anchor, so in case of need we could play him on the defensive midfielder position.

Scoring goals could be helpful as well in winning championships. If you have ever played the Belgian and/or Dutch league, you know why I want Foeke Booy. Doesn’t matter if he’s 33 already, he adds value. Immediately, and that’s what we need.

Did you ever have a player who always seems to do well, no matter what position he’s played at? Pieter Bijl is one of those guys. He’s a “pure” M R, so why even bother? For just 5K I am more than willing to sign him as our number 4, even as a back-up 8.

Fuck you Anderlecht.

Luckily the other 4 accept our offer and our starting XI immediately looks better.

That was only Round 1. If we want to be competitive, we need at least another round. We don’t have too many solid options on the left side. Saying that is one thing, finding a decent available player is something different. His stats are decent, so why not?

There is still enough money left, but it’s probably wise to keep a bit of buffer. If we manage to qualify for the Champions League, we can spend a bit more. Here is one of the players I usually go for when I play the Belgian league: Marc Van Britsom. He played several years for Beveren, so perhaps I am biased. He won’t start, but he’ll be an excellent back-up.

And when we’re on the subject of “go-to-guys”, I always try to attract Brian McClair when I play the English league. Can he add the same magic in the Belgian league? Let’s find out!

And two last ones to finish it off. A Danish international on a free transfer? What can go wrong? And it’s never a bad idea to add a versatile minus player with a heading of 18.

That’s how we’re going to start the competition!

A wise decision not to overspend in the beginning and count on the Champions League money. I am considering my chances to qualify on the rather slim side.

Time to get the season started! The Super Cup is a perfect way to start and see how good the new players are. We both score twice in an entertaining first half and need the second half to recover from that effort. Overtime leads to nothing but we make it up in an entertaining penalty shoot out. Menzo can’t handle the pressure and balloons his penalty. The Germinal goalie doesn’t miss and gives them the first trophy of the season.

Our most expensive purchase is immediately out for 3 months…

A few days later we travel to Parma. I am lucky Buffon isn’t a starter yet and Haagdoren takes full advantage. Yet we somehow return home empty-handed.

Menzo played a decent game, but I am not convinced he’s going to be a reliable option all season long. He is big name, but his ability/potential in the game do not reflect that status. We need a quality injection, even though I am sure not everybody will agree with this signing *chuckles*

We travel to Brussels to get the regular season started. We erase a difficult first half with a strong and dominating second and we grab our first victory: 2-4.

But it comes with a price. That’s our second new player we lose for several months.

In the return match against Parma we score even 3 times. But if you also concede 3, you get nowhere.

I think the game engine doesn’t want us to advance in Europe this season. Karlsruhe isn’t the biggest of names, but will be damn difficult to beat. The Cup draw on the other hand compensates for that.

Next Charleroi travels to our Lisp stadium and that should be a good timing to drop Van Der Gouw in. He keeps a clean sheet, but unfortunately his opponent does the same.

And yet again, we lose a new player to injury. But hey, it’s only for a couple of weeks.

And with that attempt to sarcasm we come to the end for today’s blog. What did he learn so far? Ivanov and Citko are the real deal. Neca got into the line-up after the injury of Valencia. If he keeps playing like that, I probably won’t keep him too long.

4/6 isn’t a bad start, but we’ll have to do better for sure if we want to compete for the title. Next week we start against a very familiar team. Until then, enjoy!

Tot volgende week!

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