When we last left off, we were sitting joint top of the Spanish Secunda Division (SD2) with CD Tenerife after a somewhat underwhelming January transfer window (considering we had no funds to spend on players) – level on points with surprise leaders Real Zaragoza and only behind them in 2nd place due to the fact that they beat us earlier in the season which as per the Spanish league rules is more important than goal difference in differentiating teams that are level on points (see my last post for more info on this).
Speaking of the transfer window – one deal which we forgot to mention and which is part of one of our key objectives for this save/blog was the signing of Ryan Nolan who will join the club at the end of the season when his contract expires at Inter Milan. As suggested by @FMEdmundo, our objective is to sign at least one Irish youth prospect and develop him in to a first time player and eventually a full Irish international, so hopefully he can help us to fulfill this objective and show the same potential that he is currently displaying at Internazionale in real life (great article about the lad here).
Just before the business end of the season is about to kick off, beloved Chairman Miguel Concepcion approaches with an offer to sign a new contract at Los Chicharreros – our current contract is up at the end of the season as is usually the case when starting a new FM save.
Due to our current league performance, our expectations have risen significantly with the board now expecting us to win promotion at the first time of asking – they’ve clearly forgotten about our initial media prediction which was to finish in 9th place well outside the playoff spots. Having signed a deal worth €7,500 per week at the start of the season, I think €10,000 per week is a reasonable request – not that its all about the money (unless you are attempting Top Notch FM’s money grabbing journeyman challenge – well worth a read here!) – however we will need a solid contract to afford my new beachside villa on the island andif you don’t ask you don’t get 💰. After some table tennis negotiating, Senior Concepcion agrees to our demands and we sign a 2 year deal that will take us up to the end of the 2020/2021 season.
Unfortunately the players didn’t react as positively to this as I did, as February saw us take just 4 points from 4 games, a good win against Numancia overshadowed by poor performances against Almeria (H), Lugo (A) and crucially a home defeat to Deportivo La Coruna at the end of the month. A serious injury to key BBM Luis Milla also didn’t help our cause, with torn calf muscle ruling him out for pretty much the rest of the season. March was slightly better but only just – despite going unbeaten for the whole month, we completely forgot how to score goals and managed to pick up 6 points in 4 games, beating Alcorcon (A) and drawing with Real Zaragoza (H), Real Oviedo and Cadiz (meaning Cadiz also take 4 points from us this season).
Unfortunately for us – while we were dropping points all over mainland Spain, league favourites Malaga CD were finding form and decided to go on a 12 match unbeaten run which resulted in them flying up the league, knocking Real Zaragoza off the top and making a clear statement on their intent to return to La Liga via the automatic promotion places. We touted Malaga as pre-season favourites at the start of this blog/save, and it seems now they are finally realising the hype and making a late surge up the league. Speaking of Malaga, it was great to see another member of the FM Community also documenting a save here in Secunda Division 2, with @ManagerDiaryUK currently blogging his own save with Malaga at the moment – really cool to read someone else’s journey at this level (even if it technically makes us enemies) and I highly recommend giving it a read here 👍.
In addition to Malaga, Deportivo have also started to find form around this time, and as a result the pressure is on to see who will hold their nerve to obtain an automatic promotion place and who will be left to battle it out in the playoffs.
El Bueno, El Feo y El Malo (The Good, The Bad and the Ugly)
By the end of March we were sitting in 3rd place in SD2, a point behind Deportivo La Coruna in 2nd (I was so into it that I forgot to take screenshots of the league table!) – both of just a few points behind league leaders Malaga. It was here that things began to escalate:
El Bueno (The Good)
April was a slightly longer month and saw us play five straight league games in a row (not surprising seeing as we had crashed out of the Copa Del Rey on penalties back in October). The good thing about this was that 4 of those games were at home, and not only did we win all 4 but we also picked up a point away at RCD Mallorca who are probably most well known and loved by Barcelona fans due to the fact that they produced/developed both Miguel Angel Nadal and Samuel Eto’o before their respective moves to the Catalan giants.
The highlight of this run was an epic hat-trick for Xadas against Cordoba – I probably haven’t mentioned him much but he has been outstanding all season, so far contributing 10 goals and 10 assists to our campaign. The result of this fine run of form in April left us in second place just one point behind league leaders Malaga.
EL Feo (THE baD)
Naturally it was at this point that FM decided we were doing too well (am I the ony one that has felt that before?!) – not only did our top scorer Fernando Coniglio (who had scored 11 goals up until March) end up going on a 15 match dry spell, the month of May saw us lose all four of our games and most importantly our Home tie against Malaga which effectively was a league decider. Talk about pressing the self-destruct button!! Somehow we only managed to score 4 goals in the whole month which saw us drop down to 4th place – almost certainly out of the automatic promotion places, and with the playoff’s looming it would take another 4 games in order for us to gain promotion to La Liga at the first time of asking.
EL Malo (THE Ugly)
It was also around this time that things began to get ugly behind the scenes at Los Chicharreros. All that Spanish charm and “looking to the future” contract negotiation talk with Senior Concepcion proved to be quickly forgotten, and suddenly we found ourselves in a highly insecure job situation whereby the board apparently have turned on us and our fate would be decided in our second last game which was an away fixture against Albacete!!
As I have said before – if I wasn’t already feeling the heat down here by the Equator, I was certainly feeling it now. We managed a 2-2 draw with Albacete (after going 2 nil up before half time), and Shakespeare himself couldn’t have written a better climax to the tale as our last game of the season (not including the impending playoffs) is the second Canary Islands Derby of the season and the return of Los Vengadores as we welcomed Las Palmas to Estadio Heliodoro Rodríguez López for what (somehow) could be our last game as manager of CD Tenerife.
Los vengadores (the avengers)
Although we are sure to finish in the playoff places and still have a great chance to gain promotion to La Liga at the first time of asking, somehow I am fighting for my job as we prepare to welcome UD Las Palmas for the second Canary Islands derby class of the season, and look to gain revenge for our 1-0 defeat earlier in the season. A win would see us potentially take 3rd place meaning a potentially easier playoff draw (as we would meet whoever finished in 6th position) – a defeat could see the board decide to sack their first ever Irish Manager and go it alone in their quest for La Liga promotion. I still have no idea how we are in this situation but we will battle on nonetheless!!!
Both teams line out almost identically, and even though Las Palmas have nothing to play for apart from a chance to finish inside the SD2 Top 10, they appear keen to seal Manager @MaddFM‘s fate and put a dent in Tenerife’s promotion aspirations which already have taken a hit with the absences of first and second choice goalkeepers Dani Hernandez and Sondre Rossbach whom are both somehow on international duty with Venezuela and Norway respectively!
The game started catastrophically for CD Tenerife, going 0-1 down after 12 minutes thanks to a neat header by Las Palmas CB Cala from a corner delivered by Tana. Set pieces continued to trouble the Los Chicharreros defence, and they found themselves 0-2 down on 21 mins when Cala’s CB partner Aythami rose above the Tenerife defence to smash in a header from another well taken corner by Tana, and a disastrous first half led to an absolute tyrannical half time team talk by MaddFM along with two changes in the form of Antonio Marin and Jose Naranjo – desperate times for the Irishman who’s job could be on the line if the result stays the same.
Tenerife started the second half much stronger and the double change appeared to be an inspired one when Marin converted a cross from Naranjo (aided by the chest of goal-shy Fernando Coniglio). Marin and Coniglio combined well again on 80 minutes, this time setting up Naranjo with the equaliser on 80 minutes – could there be a comeback on the cards for CD Tenerife? The game looked like it would finish in a 2-2 draw, however it was not over for Tenerife Attacking Midfielder Borja Lasso who stepped up in the 91st minute to absolutely smash home a 25 yard screamer in the top right hand corner (recommend checking it out below). Absolute scenes at Estadio Heliodoro Rodríguez López, and Tenerife emerge victorious in what could be the last Canary Islands derby for a while if Los Chicharreros are successful in gaining promotion to La Liga.
So, finally a win after going 5 games without one and more importantly, our job is safe even though overall we finish in 4th position which means we advance to the playoffs and the epic saga that has been Season 1 is not over yet!! In my next and final post for Season One I will narrate our journey through the Playoffs where hopefully we will be able continue our “Roy De Los Rovers” fairytale and achieve promotion to La Liga Santander and commence our quest to dethrone Barcelona and the Madrids from the peak of Spanish football.
As always, thanks for reading!! Please feel free to comment and provide feedback (especially if you are enjoying the series), Retweets and Likes are of course always appreciated also. Really enjoying this save so far, so much so that I have to slow down just to blog it all :D. Cheers, MaddFM.