Having never really expected to have a realistic shot at promotion, I also never expected that I would be simultaneously fighting for my job at the same time considering we were touted to finish in 9th position at the start of the season! Despite my pleas to Senior Concepcion over some tapas and sangria that 4th place was a more-than-respectable finish, the board are convinced that only promotion will be considered as a worthy achievement in our first season at Los Chicharreros.
We now move on to the playoffs where we basically have to start over and have 4 games in order to gain promotion to La Liga and potentially save our job here on the island! It has been a epic season, and regardless of whether we gain promotion I think we can take a lot of positives from our performance, particularly from the younger players that have kept us going and put us in a really good position which we would certainly have taken at the start of the save. Xadas has been immense all season, amassing 16 goals and 13 assists in his 38 starts for Los Chicharreros – surely a candidate for player of the season but time will tell! (the fans voted for him anyway :D).
Real Zaragoza‘s 5th place finish (interestingly also where they were touted to finish at the start of the season) means that they will be our opponents in the SD2 Playoff Semi Final, with the first leg taking place at La Romareda. The last time I endured a playoff was managing Gateshead FC back in FM18 in the Vanarama National League after a grueling 46 game season (which sadly we lost to Leyton Orient) so needless to say I am keen to get a win and break the MaddFM playoff curse.
Zaragoza have a rich history of developing a lot of Spanish and South American talent, and its only upon researching that we discover the likes of Cafu, David Villa, Fernando Morientes, famous extravagant Paraguayan goalkeeper Jose Luis Chilavert and one of my all time CM/FM heroes Juan Eduardo Esnaider (my first ever signing on Championship Manager 3!!) all were developed at Real Zaragoza before moving on to enjoy huge success at club and international level.
Thankfully their current squad doesn’t boast the same level of talent – although for some reason they fielded almost two completely different sides against us in each leg! There were some international matches taking place (we were again missing our 1st and 2nd choice goalkeepers in Leg 1 as mentioned in my last post) so perhaps this explains it – either way, after winning the first leg 2-0 (Naranjo, Xadas) – it was too little too late for Zaragoza as we then stormed to a 3-1 victory at home in the second leg to take us through to the Secunda Division Playoff Final; our opponents and the only thing between us and top flight football next season: Albacete Balompie.
The Playoff Final
It’s a sellout at Estadio Heliodoro Rodriguez Lopez as Tenerife seek to return to La Liga Santander for the first time since the 2001/2002 season when were spearheaded to promotion by a pre-Valencia, Liverpool, Inter Milan, Chelsea, Napoli, Real Madrid and Newcastle Rafa Benitez.
Tenerife field an almost full strength side with Fernando Coniglio returning up front to lead the line despite going almost 15 full games without scoring. Xadas and Naranjo have been in decent form for Los Chicharreros, who also give a start to 17 year old German Central Defender Yann Aurel Bisseck after impressing when called upon this season.
Albacete have a surprisingly decent side, with key player Nestor Susaeta their strongest attacking threat having already clocked up 19 goals and 16 assists this season making him top scorer in the division (not bad for a 34 year old). Arsenic and Arroyo are also solid at the back, and might feel confident against our Attackers today who have been rather goal shy during the second half of the season.
Here is how the teams line out this afternoon:
Thankfully – goal shy the game was not!! Despite going a goal behind on 10 minutes, a red card for Zoran Arsenic led to two goals in quick succession by Xadas (including a well taken penalty), and Naranjo added a third just before Half Time to make it 3-1 at the break. Albacete attempted to park the bus and succeeded for most of the second half until the unthinkable happened….Fernando Coniglio, on a 15 game goal drought, popped up out of nowhere and smashed home his 11th goal of the season – crazy to think he had scored 10 goals in 21 and will finish with 12 goals in 36 appearances!! Albacete (worryingly) scored a consolation goal on 88 mins and the game finished 4-2 to Los Chicharreros – advantage us for now!
The second leg at Estadio Carlos Belmonte started equally disastrously (might have to work on that) with Gentiletti smashing home on 12 minutes for Albacete to make it 4-3 on aggregate, however an own goal from Blas five minutes later levelled the game, and whatever Manager MaddFM said at half time (in his broken Irish/Spanish accent) must have worked as a resilient Tenerife emerged from the dressing rooms to score a well worked team effort which was neatly finished by Box to Box Midfielder Luis Milla on 49 mins to seal promotion for Los Chicharreros – La Liga football next season confirmed!!!
So – mission accomplished for Season One! Our original objective was to get promoted within two seasons, I fear that we may be getting promoted slighthly prematurely as our squad is largely a Secunda Division squad (with the exceptions of Marin, Xadas, Bisseck and perhaps Lasso and Naranjo) – major squad rebuild will be required assuming Senior Concepcion is willing to invest some funds during the summer!! Xadas was also deservedly voted as Signing of the Season for SD2, hopefully he can take that form to the next level next season when we face a much tougher level of opposition in the form of Barcelona, the Madrids, Sevilla and Valencia.
And that was Season One! Before we leave it there and the lads head off on their holidays, I think now is a good time to have a quick recap on our original objectives and see how we have been progressing after our first year as Manager of CD Tenerife:
Obtain Promotion to La Liga within first 2 seasons – Complete! ✅
2. Build a concentrated and extensive team of staff with a particular focus on Youth Coaching and Recruitment – Work in Progress🛠️🏗️
3. Try to sign as many Spanish speaking staff members as possible✅
4. Develop a strong affiliate network domestically and internationally, both for inbound loan benefits as well as youth development ❌
5. Minimum of 50% of all incoming transfers will be paid up front✅
6. Develop at least one youth prospect or uncapped player to obtain an International Cap for Spain within first 3 seasons❌
7. Find our “Roy de los Rovers” – an absolute shithouse of a centre-forward the like of which Los Chicharreros have never seen before ❌
Our top scorer wasnt even a Striker – Xadas topped the charts with 16 goals, followed by Coniglio with 12. Much to do here – watch this space!
8. Get the Ireland job and manage both club & country, ensuring qualification for all major tournaments ❌
9. Sign and develop a young Irish player for the first team and also get him capped by the Republic of Ireland –Work in Progress 🛠️🏗️
Ryan Nolan‘s impending arrival is a step towards this but I am not convinced he will be good enough and will be aged 20 when he gets here. Ryan Johansson is another option, however he has recently declared for Sweden which might put a furhter spanner in the works!!
The most exciting Irish prospect I have come across (thanks to @FMCatenaccio ) is Gavin Bazanu, who is a half Irish / half Nigerian Goalkeeper currently on the books at Manchester City. The chances of us getting him are slim however he will be closely monitored – look at those attributes for a 17 year old:
So, overall we aren’t doing to badly and by and large the save is going to plan with La Liga football secured for next season! In other news, the aforementioned Manchester City won the English Premier League, narrowly pipping Tottenham to the title by just a single point – Arsenal and Chelsea take the remaining Champions League spots and somehow Chris Wood finished as Top Scorer with 22 goals; explain that! Despite Liverpool not getting a Champions League spot in the league, they will be in the competition next season after beating Juventus 2-0 in the final, two goals from Bobby Firmino crowning them Champions of Europe. Here in Spain, Real Madrid are the champions of La Liga finishing 3 points ahead of Barcelona and 5 ahead of A. Madrid – dreading the thought of playing them next season! Antoine Griezemann was top scorer on 23 goals ahead of Kevin Gameiro on 21 and Gerard Moreno on 19.
And I guess that’s it!! Thanks very much for reading, hopefully you are enjoying following our progress and also the content of this blog – any thoughts or feedback are greatly appreciated so I can continue to improve (please comment below!), and as usual likes, shares and retweets etc are very welcome. Can’t wait to get cracking in to Season 2 in La Liga where I have no doubt the going will be tough and Los Chicharreros will have it all to do in order to survive and compete at the top tier of Spanish football!! For now I will say gracias y buenas noches, and once more leave you with this, our goal of the season from Luis Perez: