The weekly emails from Cleon begging for more Belmondo finally pushed me over the edge and I’ve fired up FM17 to see how well American coach, Jack Belmondo, fares on Merseyside after his five years in the southern Netherlands.
MONDAY August 10th, 2020
I’m in Liverpool. It’s raining.
As expected, as soon as I quit N.E.C. I was inundated with job offers from around the globe. None of them were in football management, but I was undeterred.
I recalled a conversation I’d had with a friend in America. He told me about the greatest club the world had ever seen. One full of history, great characters, and unprecedented success. I didn’t think that club would hire me, so I began a letter-writing campaign to Liverpool Football Club instead.
Jurgen Klopp had only one won trophy in his time at the club, so that was my starting point. I then waxed lyrically about the history of conflict between the British and Germans, with references to Moroccan crises, Belgian marches, and penalty shootouts. I ended with a reminder that the last time England needed to be rescued from Germany, it was Americans who did it. End of story. They hired me on the spot.
Shortly after the paperwork was signed, they introduced me to the squad and, in particular, some recent signings. They were very excited about a young boy joining us this coming weekend. Ryan Koevermans is a sixteen-year-old Dutch fullback. They figured I’d be happy about that due to my recent experience there. They did not consider the fact that he’s coming to us from Vitesse! Fatal flaw. On the plus side, I know who will be fetching balls during practice for the length of his contract.
We’ve also just signed two young guys from France. Thierry Fofana is barely twenty and looks to be our first choice keeper, already. Messers Karius and Mignolet should probably look for work elsewhere. Wilfried Thomas is a nineteen-year-old striker. Both of these guys are better than any player I saw in my time in Nijmegen.
A slight negative is that we just sold a Brazilian for eighty-five million pounds. Or maybe that’s a positive – we have just about that much to spend on transfers. Unfortunately, we’re spending over the budget on salaries. We’ll need to let a few legacy guys go if we want to buy anyone new.
The squad. Our 2nd and 4th highest paid guys are fullbacks, so it appears I need to build a tactical approach with them in mind. Highest paid is Alvaro Morata, a pacy Spanish striker. Third highest is a 30-year-old English midfielder who runs with a weird straight-backed gait. My assistant manager says our other best players are Emre Can, a midfielder, Sadio Mane, another striker, Nabil Bentaleb, an adventurous midfielder, and Dani Cebalos, an attacking midfielder type.
That’s enough for this first day. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind. Staying in a hotel at the moment, but need to find a place. It’s been tough to find people to help with logistics. It seems the primary language in Liverpool has a lot of similarities to English, but very few people speak English to a useful level. I asked the board to hire me a 24-hour translator.
TUESDAY August 11th, 2020
I met with the board this morning. They want me playing possession-based attacking football. Duh. They want me to sign young, great players. Duh. A lot of people probably think this owning a football team thing is hard work, but it doesn’t take much to give that kind of direction.
My captain is Jordan Henderson and I see no reason to cause any issues by changing that. His vice is Mamadou Sakho. Same. Henderson is the straight-backed midfield engine, so he’ll be another obvious centerpiece of the lineup. Sakho is one of the four mediocre center backs. I need to think about bringing in a big gun with all this transfer money.
THURSDAY August 13th, 2020
Juventus just made my salary and goalkeeping issues a bit simpler. They plucked Karius up and whisked him away. I’ve been trying to unload Adam Lallana, but no-one wants him. When I asked him to go and sell himself he refused. Not surprised considering his salary. When I told him he wouldn’t be registered in the squad, his changed his tune.
FRIDAY August 14th, 2020
We play Newcastle tomorrow, so it’s probably time to give some thought about how we’re going to play. With these two fullbacks (Moreno and Clyne) earning a million dollars a month, we’re going to obviously play with them as a focus. To me, that means no wingers. That means Morata and Mane play as strikers. The remaining “best players” are all central midfielders. That means the decision comes down to whether I play three across the middle with a defensive guy or an attacking guy. No decision, obviously. So it’s a narrow 4-3-3. A towering center back would be nice to add to this.
SATURDAY August 15th, 2020
Game Day. Liverpool v Newcastle.
The fans were feeling good before the game. Just kidding. Mane hadn’t scored for 21 hours. Sakho was suspended. Mignolet was in goal as Fofana was on international duty. They had a new manager they’d never heard of and the captain of the opposition looked like Nosferatu.
Lucky for them, I’m a genius. Mane scored in the 8th minute and Mignolet didn’t even have to stop a single shot. Shelvey was less Nosferatu and more sparkling Twilight vampires. Lovren was injured just before halftime and the media made it clear that this was how Newcastle play these days. Oh well, I sent on Ben Chilwell and we scored a second goal through Bentaleb.
It’s very nice to have a win in the first game. Even better to do it so convincingly in front of the home fans. There was quite a singalong at the start of the game. They seemed to be singing it in their language, so I couldn’t understand it, but it was very moving.
SUNDAY August 16th, 2020
The board requested that I join Twitter. I suppose it is 2020, after all. They want me to see the fans’ reactions up close. Rosie Lynch suggested that we didn’t win by enough and she doesn’t even consider it a win. Not sure I consider Rosie to be a fan. Others were more complimentary. As they should be.
I have a pair of Welsh wizards on my hands. The U-23 game today saw them net four goals between them and receive average ratings of 9.3 and 9.6. Gethin Cassidy is a central midfielder (perfect for our current setup) who runs like Usain Bolt. Robby Rush is a striker with a mohawk. I’m going to give them some first team time this season and see if we can fly the Welsh flag in the Premier League.
MONDAY August 17th, 2020
With Klopp only able to get Liverpool to fourth place last season, we have to play a qualifier game against Club Brugge before we can enter the Champions League. We’re heading there tomorrow for the first leg on Wednesday. Some of the boys are excited to see the canals and sights. I’m not sharing their excitement. If I grew up on a farm, and was retarded, Brugge might impress me but I didn’t, so it doesn’t.
Next entry: Champions League? Better be. Love comments and suggestions. Let me know what I’m doing wrong and I’ll be sure to ignore it as best I can. – Matt