Season Six Part 2. “Balls deep in the Balkans.”

War in Europe may seem a distant memory to us, as we check Instagram and mindlessly press “like” on Facebook. Living a relatively peaceful existence, watching Netflix on our smartphone, while the trains are delayed again. But a cursory glance across history tells us our continent is no stranger to conflict, oppression, and mass bloodshed. We must respect the hard-earned peace, and freedom, we enjoy today, as we enter a new era of politics globally.

War is never far away, when politics fails, War prevails (FMEadster, 2019).

It is, after all, a mere 20 years since NATO warplanes bombed Yugoslavia (without UN Security Council agreement), for 78 days, in one of the largest bombing campaigns in history, on European soil. 28 years ago the Yugoslavian civil war started within Europe’s borders.  In 1995, during this bloody civil war, the genocide of thousands of Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica took place. It was clear to me even then, at 13 years old, that people had forgotten the lessons from the two World Wars that ravaged Europe within living memory. None of these mistakes of the past should be lost from the social consciousness that is passed onto future generations.

Continue reading “Season Six Part 2. “Balls deep in the Balkans.””


Season 6 Part 1 Building, or failing to build, a balanced squad

Petr Blazek made it 3-0 on 57 minutes. Chepiga looked around the stadium, fans weren’t singing his players names, they were calling to their Russian hero, Chepiga, to acknowledge their adoration with a wave. Fresh in their minds, a title win from last season that ended the Moscovite dominance of recent times. Further cemented by a crushing 4-0 defeat of CSKA Moscow in the SuperKubok Rossii, just a couple of weeks previously. At that moment Chepiga, standing in the Anzhi Arena, 3-0 up against Dinamo Moscow, allowed himself to relax. Taking in his surroundings, and the veneration of the fans, he waved back, kissing the badge of his beloved Anzhi.

40 minutes later Chepiga stood in the changing room questioning the cojones of every single player. He paced back and forth, staring each of them straight in the eye, he did not like what he saw.

“Too many millennial snowflakes in this fucking dressing room, where is the passion lads? Where are your balls!”

There were two weeks left in the transfer window, changes would have to be made. The signs were actually there in the proceeding 1-0 defeat to Arsenal Tuna, but Ruslan had chosen to ignore them. That night Chepiga assessed every player and cursed himself, and his scouts, as he realised the midfield had become completely out of balance.

Continue reading “Season 6 Part 1 Building, or failing to build, a balanced squad”

Season 5 Finale #Cliffhanger_FM


Last time out we left things with just three games left in the season. A win in our next game would see us crowned Prem’yer Liga champions. Six days later we take on CSKA Moscow in the final of the Kubok Rossii. Read on to find out how we did.

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Scouting on Football Manager 19 – “Be prepared”

Most of you reading this will already have a system in place for how you scout players in Football Manager and uncover all those delicious wonderkids from far-flung places.

I thought I would write a small article on how some of my most recent transfer window went in Russia and discuss some of my approaches to scouting that I haven’t seen too much written about before.

First of all, most of you will have filters set up by position that focus on certain desirable attributes. I do this too but that is not what I wanted to talk about here. Instead, I wanted to talk about what I feel is a much-underused function Football Manager players have at their disposal. Continue reading “Scouting on Football Manager 19 – “Be prepared””

Season Four Pt 2 – Hard ‘Labour’

Ruslan’s hands were raw, not through hard labour, as his father suffered all those years ago, his hands were raw from writing. Sometimes the pencil is mightier than the sword he thought, a wry smile etched across his weathered face.

200,000 postal votes had been submitted by dead British citizens in constituencies identified by the Kremlin as key to the British election; May 2022. Ruslan was sure he’d filled in over half of these at his desk overlooking the Anzhi training ground. While some one-star potential youth graduates filled in the rest.

He sat up late into the night to watch the results coming in, Labour gain, after Labour gain. They’d done it, Corbyn was Prime Minister. Border polls in Scotland and Northern Ireland were now inevitable, adding to the instability and division across the European Union since the United Kingdom left last year. The European project was over, the continent divided, an ever stronger Russia loomed in the East; Europe could now be conquered.

Chepiga at a Corbyn rally sometime in 2017

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Season Four Pt 1 – Pursuing the European Adventure ©

Early July 2021, it has been almost 13 years since Russia last invaded Georgia and took military control of the Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions. The time had come to finish the job, the reintegration of Georgia was the next phase of operation Yellow Hammer.
Continue reading “Season Four Pt 1 – Pursuing the European Adventure ©”

Evading the press and breaking the lines

One of the first two things I try and observe during a game are, where is the opposition’s defensive line, and secondly, how high up the pitch are they prepared to press.

Generally during the save teams have played with a relatively high defensive line against me, as Anzhi remains one of the lesser sides in the division, leaving plenty of space in behind for me to exploit.

I play a flat 4141 and, when I think about how I would want any side I managed to actually defend, this is the shape I imagine. In possession, however, the shape is very different due to the roles and duties selected, especially the midfield four. My left-midfielder(a) is instructed to cut inside with the ball and dribble more, as well as get further forward by default. I’ve added get further forward to my box to box midfielder while my mezzala(a) and winger(s) are vanilla. All four of these roles will attack space in front of them fairly aggressively. Having a standard defensive midfielder behind them offers me great security should we lose the ball in advanced areas. Continue reading “Evading the press and breaking the lines”