Discipleship Beginning with Real Club Deportivo Espanyol de Barçelona

50A012A3-6779-4CA0-BE81-1A9E341B7971In a surprise move the self-proclaimed 6th disciple of Marcelo Bielsa, Saadiq Bey, takes the reins at Real Club Deportivo de Barçelona. We had a chance to sit down with Saadiq to discuss his decision to go to Spain instead of  England to manage Tottenham Hotspur. American pundit Kyle Martino sat down with Saadiq to discuss his new job.

KM: Hey Saadiq, how are you?

SB: Hi Kyle. Im doing well.

KM: So the European football world is buzzing that you signed with Espanyol instead of Tottenham. Mauricio Pochettino hand picked you to be his successor. Why didn’t you take the job.

SB: I am the manager of Espanyol so can we keep the focus on this club?  This is a club with a great history in a wonderful city.  I came here to manage a club close to my heart. Don Mauricio understands why I came to Espanyol and he gave his full blessing for me to come here. I wouldn’t have taken the job without his blessing.

KM: So why Espanyol? Why Catalonia’s other club? You obvious come with a bit of accolades and you chose a mid-table club. I’m  bit confused.

SB: It would be disrespectful of me to try to answer those question. First, I come from a coaching lineage that emphasizes community, social responsibility, and development. Second, my mentors managed this club so it’s only right that I continue the tradition of my idols.

KM: So, you’re saying you are following the path of Marcelo Bielsa and Mauricio Pochettino? At least that’s how I’m interpreting your answer.

SB: Yes, but also that I am a product of the philosophy, so you will see some of my own ideas too.

KM: Ok, so we can expect high tempo, free flowing football like Bielsa or high tempo structured Juego de Pochettino?

SB: I worked for MoPo at Spurs for three years. Each day I watched him work tirelessly to inject his DNA in the club. He thought we should develop academy players to make the transition to the first team. “Nuture, inspire, influence, and empower…those are termed used at the Academy level. I intend on introducing this concept at this location.

KM: Is this going to be a Spanish Tottenham?

SB: Again, this is Real Club Deportivo de Barçelona. There’s only one Tottenham and one MoPo and one Bielsa, and one Saadiq Bey.  I will say pre-season is underway and I am impressed with what I am seeing so far. I have to go now to attend to things at the club. I look forward to speaking with you soon. Thanks Kyle.

SB (to himself)…where did they find that guy? I would’ve preferred John Cross from the Mirror—he has some football sense.


Random Thoughts on FM18


In a few days the Beta version of our beloved simulation game, Football Manager 18, will be released .  Like most of you, I can’t wait to test the new features in the Sports Interactive videos. Anyways, in anticipation of the November 10th roll out I’ve been thinking about tactics, philosophy, and club(s), in no particular order. What are my goals for starting a save with a articular club? Why this club and not others? Am I looking to replicate tactics? Was I drawn to the club based on it’s history? So many questions and little time to ponder them?  Most of you know I am a self-proclaimed disciple of Marcelo “El Loco” Bielsa, Josep “Pep” Guardola, Juan Manuel “Juanma” Lillo and Mauricio “MoPo” Pochettino. That should sum up my approach to FM, but it does not tell the full story of why those managers–and not other Bielsistas such as Simeone, Sampoali, or Berizzo? Don’t get me wrong, the latter are influential but the former play a specific type of football that inspires human imagination and goes far beyond human intellect. In my novice opinion, their football is on spiritual plane that is above the clouds. Each of these men share a similar Philosophy (see Jed Davies book), that is, Juego de Posicion or Positional Play. Everyone of them has injected his own flavor into the mix, yet it always points back to the underlying principles of qualitative and positional superiority (see TT’s piece on Tottenham). I won’t spend time trying lecture you on positional play that s not the purpose of this post–I felt inspired to write a piece about what to expect from me in this latest version of Football Manager.

Athletic Club Bilbao 4-2-3-1

Below are ten principles I will adhere to throughout the FM18 campaign:

  1. I’m hoping to write more consistently than I have with previous version.
  2.  Complete at least three seasons in each save…(we’ll see how that goes).
  3. Recruit local youth talent
  4. Develop players from the Academy
  5. Promote youth products into the first team
  6. Oversee individual training for senior and youth players
  7. Play fluid and attractive football.
  8. Reinvest monies from player sales into the youth system
  9. Implement a structured wage system
  10. Lose the Fear of Failure (that means not panic buys or changing tactics

If you are curious about the guiding principle of the Philosophy see  “…Movement, Rotation, Concentration, and Improvisation…”

That’s all from me folks. I look forward to reading and hearing about your experiences with FM18Beta.

Props to the boys at Umaxit, Spielverlagerung, Jed Davies, Michael Skidmore, Cleon, Sam, and the rest of the FM Community



Bayer Leverkussen 1904

Greetings Football Manager community!  I don’t want to spend too much time writing about my plans for FM18, but I want to announce that I will be managing Bayer Leverkussen.  Initially, I announced that I would manage Girona FC, however, I changed my mind after I watched, on YouTube Jed Davies’, analysis of Roger Schmidt’s Red Bull Salzburg. That led me to watching both legs of the 2016-17 UEFA Champions League Group Stage between Tottenham Hotspur and Bayer Leverkussen. If you haven’t seen those matches I suggest you do because they are tactical treats.  Anyway, be on the lookout in the coming weeks my introduction piece to the save.




“…Movement, Rotation, Concentration, and Improvisation…” The Next Chapter 3.0

One of the first things Pochettino said was if I entered his philosophy, he would make me into an England player…” Danny Rose

Welcome to the third installment of the journeyman save into the world of Marcelo Bielsa. We just wrapped up another mediocre season; 9th place finish in Primera Division; and  early exit from the Copa Total Sudamericana  at the hands of Brazilian side Internacional.  Looking back in hindsight we lacked the personnel and mentality to challenge for the title. For instance we needed a destroyer to boss the midfield by breaking up our opponent’s play. Since we were lacking in that area we had the third worst defensive record last. There’s one word to describe our style of play “abysmal.” Habitually, we had to claw our way back  to salvage a point. My final season we were 10-12-6; 42pts. When I think about those matches my blood boils because we were capable of performing better. Again, complacency and poor concentration continued to be barriers. Anyway, it gave me a lot to think about since  I planned to leave at the end of the season. However, I had this sense that I would be abandoning the players before they reached their full potential .  

Change of Heart

I decided to extend my time at NOB for one more season, but I needed make changes in a few areas. As I said earlier, we needed a creative player, a destroyer to boss the midfield, and a keeper. We lacked consistency in both areas and I was willing to break the bank to tighten up those areas. In addition to that, I thought it was a good idea to bring in a couple of loanees (DLP and Centre-back) from our affiliate Ligue 1 outfit, Bordeaux.  In total, we brought in five players (3 permanent; 2 loans)

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On the surface everything seemed fine but little did I know. I was happy with our signings for the coming season, and I thought the chairman and I were on the same page, but, the club had other ideas. The backroom staff was interested in making a profit. NOBs became a club known for developing players and selling them at a profit.  I am not against developing and selling players, except, when the club is only interested in making profits. With that said I felt slighted by the club and decided to plan my exit. Below is a list of transactions that occurred during my tenure at Newell.


Continue To Spread The Philosophy

Initially, I planned to follow Bielsa’s career path by managing each club he managed. Anyway, I realized it was a great in theory but the match engine had its own way of telling me otherwise.  To make a long story short a few managerial positions came up; Argentina, Spain, Athletic Club Bilboa, RBL Lepzeig, Bordeaux, Southampton, and San Lorenzo. I had a few interviews but I didn’t have the reputation or experience to manage at the top.  Therefore, I decided that I was going to stay in South America and build my reputation and see where I end up next.

First, I had to sever ties with NOBs because they wanted an insane compensation fee from potential employers. Clubs interested in my services were reluctant to break the bank, which is completely understandable. But at the same time I came to the realization NOBs tried to stall my career.

However, Uruguayan club Defensor Sporting FC (Montevideo, Uruguay) were eager to bring me to the club after they parted ways with their manager.  Defensor’s backroom staff entered  long intense negotiations, but they were forced to walk away from the table because NOB were playing hardball. So my solution was to resign effective immediately, thus, Defensor would be free to approach me for an interview. I was offered the position with nine matches left in the closing stages of Uruguay’s Primera Division.

New Club: Defensor Sporting Club





Brief History
Defensor was founded on March 15, 1913 as Club Atlético Defensor, the name of the club was changed in 1989 to Defensor Sporting Club (DSC) after a merger with Sporting Club Uruguay. DSC are a four-time national champion in Uruguay (1976, 1987, 1991, 2007–08) (Wikipedia, 2017). Defensor plays its home games at its own stadium called Estadio Luis Franzini which has a capacity for 18,000 spectators. The stadium was opened on 31 December 1963. It is located in Parque Rodó, Montevideo. Below is the club’s profile.

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The Philosophy

The formula is the same but with some variation due to the type of players at my disposal. Therefore, I’ve introduced the player to 3-4-1-2 , 4-4-1-1, and 4-1-3-2. These formations allowed me to play to the strengths of my players: they are fierce competitors; they work well as a team, most are local boys from Montevideo, and they come from a strong tradition of tough physical footballers.

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Each formations evokes different thoughts, responses, and questions.  Yet, they come back my original questions: how do I control possession?;  dictate the tempo?; create space for my teammate?; and minimize space for the opposition?;  And, how can I use the ball to manipulate the opponent into opening up channels for the killer pass?

Based on my experience in Argentina the learning curve has to be higher because it took more than two years before I started to see glimpses of positional play.  I won’t bore you with recycling material from past work, but for more background info on the guiding principles I suggest you refer to the introductory piece of this series.

It’s still early days for the save but we  won three of our last five matches–finished fifth in the league gives us a platform to build on in for the coming season.

Primera Divison Table

Uruguay Primera Division



I’m looking forward to this new challenge in the land that produced Diego Forlan, Luis Suarez, Diego Godin, Maxi Pereira, and Edison “El Matador” Cavani.  As always, comments, questions and criticism is welcomed and appreciated. 



“…Movement, Rotation, Concentration, and Improvisation…” The Curtain Closes on Season One

Welcome to part two of the journey man save emulating to the career path  of Mr. Marcelo “El Loco” Bielsa.  In the introduction I outlined the philosophy and guiding principles I would use to lay a foundation in the club. A blueprint and roadmap to follow with room for flexibility because football is a dynamic sport in a constant state of change. Therefore, I built in room to turn thing around when we had sub-par performances or we had a major dip in form (we did on a number of occasions). That’s the beauty of FM, if something goes wrong you get to tinker around until you find a solution.

Pre-season, Winter break Friendlies, Copa Argentino, and Primera Divison

pre-friendlycopa argentinaPrimera Season 1

Preseason. The scree shots show that we had a good pre-season,  morale was high,  and everyone was raring to get the season started. We lost our opening match, then drew two and won two. I was happy with those results because the players are receiving a crash course on juego de posicion . The learning curve is pretty steep so I expected a slow start.

Winter Friendlies. I was disappointed with our performances in the winter break friendlies we hit a skid some months back and it continued with average performances.

Copa Argentino. Results in this completion outshined our performances in the Primera Division; in 2016 we made it to the semi-finals; in 2017 our inconsistency led to an early exit from the competition.

Primera Division. We got off to a good start winning three, drawing two , and losing one. Then, we had a massive dip in form  0-2-4 (0-7 aggregate.). Post-match analyses showed:

  • We dominated possession, yet failed to use it to our advantage. For further clarification see Movement; guiding principle three. 
  • For those six matches we recorded more shots than our opponents 7 to 3,  yet, we failed to score. And, we were susceptible to counter-attacks because we weren’t balanced enough in our approach: Movement; guiding principle four.
  • We conceded goals in the latter stages of the  match. Consequently, training has not neutralized players “fear of failure.” Concentration; guiding principles one through three.
  • There was an overreliance on our playmakers and attackers which contributed to poor results. Improvisation; guiding principle three.

I mentioned earlier that I would stick to my principles, and be flexible enough to make minor tweaks and changes to the system. Below are screenshots of the team instructions and formations we made before the winter break.

Team Instructions and Formations

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Team instructions are from my  Al Ahly SC save. On the surface, it looks very simple,  but a lot went into it on the back end. That is, team and individual training; and player instructions are key within this system. In the future I will write an in depth tactical piece, but for now I’ll focus on season one.

4-3-1-1-4 Inverted Wing-Backs/4-1-2-3 Wing-Backs 

Anyone that follows my saves knows that I consistently use 4-5-1 and variations of the shape, 4-1-4-1, 4-2-3-1, and 4-3-2-1 ,  are mainstays in my tactics. So it should come as no surprise that I abandoned 4-4-2 for 4-1-1-3-1.  I’ve used a similar tactic on FM16 with Chilean side, Universidad de Chile. However, I’ve made some subtle changes to the system:

  1. Box-to-Box Midfielder- The non-stop dynamism and work rate of the Box to Box player cannot be understated. His workhorse contributions link the attack and defensive phases.
  2. Roaming playmaker-the roaming player is responsible for dropping into the second line of play (*horizontal space)” to receive the ball from the Ball-playing defender. The RPM’s in partnership with the  box-to-box midfielder. (*for more information on the seven lines of play see The Philosophy by Jed Davies)
  3. Inverted wing-backs –  cut inside  midfield as extra pivots. The iwb’s primary role is support the buildup and provide cover for the RPM and Box-to-Box.

From the beginning we saw positive results, for instance, in each of our defeats we had problems with the build-up: we couldn’t progress the ball beyond the second line of play. The sweeper keeper did what he was instructed to do, but the centre-back  is not composed on the ball. Therefore, the slightest bit of pressure from an   advanced (opposing) player he’d lose the ball with disastrous consequences.

What was the solution to this ongoing problem? Well, I decided to switch from a RPM to a DLP, simply because he is  more composed of the two and won’t neglect his defensive duties.  Importantly, the DLP will be responsible for connecting the defensive and attacking phases of play.

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Above are screenshots from the Rosario Derby (NOBs vs Rosario Central). This is a good  example of the type of (stable) structure needed (4-1-2-3) for an fluid build-up: players occupy  wide, central, and half-spaces. Importantly, the DLP (white circle) occupies the central areas and the CM and B-to-B are positioned in the third line of play and half-spaces.  The position of the ball triggered a certain response from the opposition depending on the location of the ball. For example, in slide three, when the ball progressed to the “third line of play” the opposing CAM dropped to support the double pivots. However, this opened a lot of space o the weak side central and half spaces–leaving room for Advanced-playmaker, Maxi Perez to exploit.

After I implemented changes to the system we finished strong in the last half of the season with a  record was  9-6-3 (34-21 aggregate). Again, poor concentration in the latter stages of a match would plague us all season. We’re much improved, but,  far from how I’d like to see us perform at this level. If we remained focused we could’ve salvaged points from those draws.


Overall, I am satisfied with the final outcome of the season; we turned things around to finish 10th in the Primera Division,  and as a bonus we qualified for the Copa Sudamericana. To be honest, I am happy that the boys are starting to show signs that our second season will be one to remember. I’m not planning to spend big in the coming transfer window. We signed San Lorenzo loanee, Facundo Quignon, on a permanent basis for 2.4m Euros. He is a major part of my plans next season.  I’m glad we were able to strike a deal before the official transfer window opened.


I thought it might be a good idea to bring in a veteran striker, specifically, someone that isn’t afraid to mix it up wit  a Target Man. I acquired Gustavo Canales from Botafogo for 40k euros. I worked with Gustavo when I managed Universidad de Chile (FM16). His presence alone should have an positive effect in the dressing room.



Feel free to leave comments, questions, and suggestions. The only way I get better is from your feedback.









“..Movement, Rotation, Concentration, and Improvisation…” Bielsa

The last few days I’ve been trolling through FM, starting new saves, then deleting them hours later. After doing that a number of times over the course of 4 days I decided to take a pause and regroup. During my sabbatical I spoke to Michael Skidmore (@totalfootall71)  who I can  count on for good advice.  He said “it’s good to take a break.” During that time the thought came that I should do a save inspired by Marcelo “El Loco” Bielsa . It would help bring me out of this period of being uninspired and complacency. And, I didn’t want it to be a save where I tried to re-create Bielsa’s tactics. So I came up with the idea that I would follow his career path from Newell Old Boys to Olympique Marseille. I know he recently signed with LOSC, but I wanted to do a save that would carry me through when FM18 is released. I put myself on flexible timeline because it takes me a while to finish a single season because I have a career, family, and other responsibilities.

So why Bielsa? Why not Bielsa. That was all too easy.  All jokes aside I’m fascinated by him and what make him so unique compared to other contemporary managers. The first time I came across the name Marcelo  Bielsa  was Guillem Balague’s “Pep Guardiola: Another Way of Winning: The Biography”. I wanted to know more about the man besides Cruyff to influence Guardiola. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much available in print in the English language. Yet, I was able to locate some stuff on YouTube, but it was in Spanish. Aside from the occasional write-up in These Football Times and other resources  on social media it’s slim pickings when it comes to Bielsa. I was  undeterred because there was bound to be more than what I found.

Fast forward three years,  I happened upon a tweet about a book that was being written on Bielsa by Jed Davies.  The tweet announced the launch of his Kickstarter campaign for his new book. I  was familiar with Jed’s writing from his book on the Tiki Taka so I was all too happy to support a new project on Bielsa. To make a long story short, the campaign was a success and I received a pre-release version of “The Philosophy: In The Shadows of Marcelo Bielsa.”

The Philosophy

This book is a must have for anyone interested in football tactics and training sessions in positional play. In my experience, the ideas outlined in this book changed the way I look at football matches.

Below is a list of clubs Bielsa managed over the past 27 years. I will follow his career path and I will stay at each club or national team for the exact same time period.  I have to admit that this save is more about transferring what I’ve learned from Jed’s book and videos to FM17. So do not expect me to create a 3-3-3-1 or 3-1-3-3-3 tactics. It ill be more about playing attacking football influenced by Bielsistas and other influential managers.


Newell Old Boys

There is no time like the present, this brings us to Bielsa’s hometown club Newell Old Boys from Rosario, Argentina.  Founded in 1903 by father and son Isaac and Claudio Newell. The club was named in honor of Isaac Newell who is considered the pioneer of Argentine football.  The NOB football stadium is the Estadio Marcelo Bielsa, named after the team’s former player and manager Marcelo Bielsa (twice champion, and runner-up of one Copa Libertadores). Newell’s plays the Rosario derby against Rosario Central, a club with which they have a huge historical rivalry (Wikipedia, 2017).nob

The screenshot below gives you a brief overview of NOBs . Over the past 16 years their form has been inconsistent, therefore, it is my job is to guide the club back to prominence by making the Estadio Marcelo Bielsa a fortress.  The club boasts of great youth facilities which have produced players, Mauricio Pochettino, Eduardo Berizzo, Walter Samuel, Maxi Rodriguez, Ever Banega, and Gabriel Heinze. However, we have an average junior staff so I’m gonna shake things up by restructuring the youth set-up. Newell’s affiliate club is Ligue 1 outfit,  Bordeaux,  this is a long-term deal that provides our players with a path into European football.

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Tactics and Shape

Below are screenshots of each formation I will use until the players internalize the philosophy of positional play. The foundation of Bielsa’s tactics are “movement, rotation, concentration, and improvisation…”

Davies, 2016 p.24

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My interpretation of the first guiding principle, “movement”, is multi-layered, because it examines the player, ball and Michael Skid More opponent. Below are questions to guiding

  1. What type of movement will help my players find pockets of space (to exploit) between the opponents midfield and defensive lines?
  2. What type of passes will help us move toward our objective, short, medium, or long.  And, how can we use the ball to exploit the opponent’s weakness?
  3. How can we retain  possession of the ball with the intention of exploiting Area 14?
  4. How does the opponent react when they do not have possession? Do they press immediately or do the sit deep and wait for us to make a mistake to hit us on the counter?


According to Davies (2016), Bielsa told his players that their plying  style is about movement. Therefore, I interpret the second guiding principle, “rotation” to be intentional movement to bring about specific results: such as stretching the opponent horizontally and vertically to exploit central areas. The guiding questions for this area:

  1. If I move toward the touch-line will my marker follow me, therefore vacating his space?
  2. Are my runs intelligent to cause a decision crisis in the opposition’s defender?
  3. When the centre-back leaves his assignment to make a run into the box do I take his position?


I interpret the third guiding principle, “concentration, as having to do with players in-game decision-making . According to Davies (2017), in football, every action comprises of two elements, technical execution and a decision making element.

  1. Which types of training exercises do we use to increase players efficacy in high stress and pressure situation?
  2. Which training session will neutralize players “temor escenico” (fear of failure)?
  3. How effective is mechanizing play at neutralizing players fear of failure?


This last and final guiding principle, “improvisation” is self-explanatory, but I will elaborate on what it mean regarding this save.  Training is high in order to recreate in-game situations.  So our training will attempt to bring the player as close as we can to what he experiences in the game;  he has a better chance of retaining information and making good decisions even under pressure (Davies, 2017; Klein, 2011).

  1. What are my option when I am unable to penetrate the oppositions medium and low-blocks?
  2. Which actions will yield a significant result?
  3. When one doors closes how do I go about creating chances to exploit my opponent’s weakness.



What I have written are guiding principles for this save, The Marcelo Bielsa Journeyman Series. This save is inspired by members of the FM community, tactical analyst, such as Michael Skidmore,  @spielverlagerung, Jed Davies, The Coaching Manual, @fmFutbolManager, @LPQR_FM, and @SamMckinnon1 for generating good conversations. I hope this made sense and I look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions.









Yokohama F Marinos: A Brief History


Yokohama F. Marinos  is a Japanese association football team that participates in the fully professional J. League Division 1; the top Japanese professional football league. Having won the J-League title three times and finished second twice, they are one of the most successful J-League clubs. The team is based in Yokohama and were founded as the company team of Nissan Motors. The club was formed by the merger of Yokohama Marinos and Yokohama Flügels in 1999. The current name is intended to reflect both Marinos and Flügels. The team name Marinos means “sailors” in Spanish. Yokohama F. Marinos are the longest-serving team in the top flight of Japanese football having played at the top-level since 1982, also making them one of only four teams to have competed in Japan’s top flight of football every year since its inception.

In 1972, the team started as the Nissan Motors F.C. based in Yokohama, and were promoted to the Japan Soccer League Division 2 in 1976. They took necessary steps like building a friendly relationship with local high schools and universities and starting junior teams for school kids to be a winning team. Under the first paid or professional team manager in Japan Shu Kamo, the team won championships in 1988 and 1989 as well as the JSL Cup and Emperor’s Cup winning all three major tournaments in Japan at that time.
In 1991, it was one of the founding members of the J.League. In 1998, after losing one of their primary sponsors, it was announced that crosstown rivals Yokohama Flügels would merge with Marinos. Since then, an F was added to the name to represent the Flügels half of the club. Many Flügels fans rejected the merger, rather believing their club to have been dissolved into Marinos. As a result, they refused to follow F. Marinos and instead created Yokohama FC, F. Marinos’ new crosstown rivals.
Yokohama F. Marinos won the Emperor’s Cup on New Years Day 2014, their first in twenty-one years. On 20 May 2014, it was announced that City Football Group, the holding company of Manchester City F.C., had invested in a minority share of Yokohama F. Marinos, creating a partnership with both the football club and car manufacturer Nissan.[1] The investment is designed to offer an integrated approach to football, marketing, media, commercial, training and medical care consistent with other City Football Group investments such as Manchester City F.C., Melbourne City FC and the New York City FC. City Football Group holds 20 percent of Yokohama F. Marinos’ but through the establishment of a Japan-based subsidiary may seek to eventually own a controlling stake in the club

The team’s home stadiums are Nissan Stadium, otherwise known as International Stadium Yokohama (72,327), and Mitsuzawa Stadium.

In closing, the club has a rich history which I hope to continue. So far, things are going well and I couldn’t be happier. At some point I may go back to managing a European club but I am enjoying being a journeyman manager.





Al Ahly Sporting Club: Club History

Al Ahly (The National) Sporting Club is an Egyptian professional football club based in Cairo. Al-Ahly is one of Africa’s most successful and best-supported football clubs. The team is nicknamed the “Red Devils” for its red jerseys. In  2000 the Confédération Africaine de Football (CAF) awarded Al-Ahly the title of African Club of the Century.

Al-Ahly was founded by Omar Lotfi  in 1907 as a sports club for Egyptian  students. At the time Egypt was occupied by British forces at the time, and an Englishman, Mitchel Ince, was the club’s first president. The club took part in local and regional competitions, including the Sultan Hussein Cup, which was contested from 1917 until 1938. Al-Ahly won that competition seven times.

Al-Ahly uses Cairo International Stadium, which seats more than 74,000 spectators. The club shares the stadium with Zamalek SC. Games between the two sides are often extremely tense and watched by football fans from all over Egypt. So intense would be the pressure on Egyptian referees that foreign referees are brought in to officiate these matches.

The Egyptian League (now called the Egyptian Premier League) began in the 1948–49 season, and Al-Ahly won the league’s first title. It would not lose a league championship until 1960, when Al-Ahly’s fiercest rival, Zamalek SC, won its own first league title. In total, Al-Ahly has won 37 Egyptian league championships, including eight in a row beginning with the 2004–05 season. It has also won the Egypt Cup 35 times and the Egyptian Super Cup  (started in 2001 and played between the winners of the Egyptian Presentation Premier League and the winners of the Egypt Cup) a record six times. Al-Ahly won its first African Champions League in 1982 and has won that competition six additional times.

2005 was a unique season in Ahly’s illustrious history. The team would set an unprecedented record of going an entire season being unbeaten in almost all possible competitions. 46 matches were played in the Egyptian Premier League, Egyptian Cup, Egyptian Super Cup and CAF Champions League, with The Red Devils remaining unbeaten in all of them (as well as winning 5 from all 6 trophies).


Total Number of Trophies: 132 (Record) .


  • FIFA Club World Cup
    • Third place (1):  2006
  • Afro-Asian Club Championship
    • Winners (1): 1988


  • African Cup of Champions Clubs / CAF Champions League
    • Winners (8): 1982, 1987,  2001,  2005, 2006, 2008,  2012,  2013 (record)
    • Runners-up (2):1983, 2007
  • African Cup Winners’ Cup
    • Winners (4):1984, 1985, 1986, 1993 (record)
  • CAF Confederation Cup:
    • Winners (1):  2014
  • CAF Super Cup
    • Winners: (6) 2002, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2013, 2014. (record)
    • Runners up: (2) 1994, 2015.


  • Arab Champions League
    • Winners: (1) 1996
    • Runners-up: (1) 1997
  • Arab Cup Winners’ Cup
    • Winners: (1) 1994
  • Arab Super Cup
    • Winners: (2) 1997, 1998


  • Egyptian Premier League
    • Winners: (38) 1948–49, 1949–50, 1950–51, 1952–53, 1953–54, 1955–56, 1956–57, 1957–58, 1958–59, 1960–61, 1961–62, 1974–75, 1975–76, 1976–77, 1978–79, 1979–80, 1980–81, 1981–82, 1984–85, 1985–86, 1986–87, 1988–89, 1993–94, 1994–95, 1995–96, 1996–97, 1997–98, 1998–99, 1999–00, 2004–05, 2005–06, 2006–07, 2007–08, 2008–09, 2009–10, 2010–11, 2013–14, 2015–16 (record)
    • Runners up: (11) 1966–67, 1977–78, 1983–84, 1987–88, 1990–91, 1992–93, 2000–01, 2001–02, 2002–03, 2003–04, 2014–15
  • Egypt Cup (33 solo titles and 2 titles in conjunction with Zamalek SC in 1943 and 1958)
    • Winners: (35) 1924, 1925, 1927, 1928, 1930, 1931, 1937, 1940, 1942, 1943, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1953, 1956, 1958, 1961, 1966, 1978, 1981, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 2001, 2003, 2006, 2007 (record)
    • Runners up: (15) 1926, 1932, 1933, 1935, 1938, 1944, 1952, 1959, 1973, 1976, 1997, 2004, 2010, 2015, 2016
  • Egyptian Super Cup
    • Winners: (9) 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2014, 2015 (record)
    • Runners up: (1) 2009
  • Cairo League
    • Winners: (16) 1924–25, 1926–27, 1927–28, 1928–29, 1930–31, 1932–33, 1933–34, 1934–35, 1935–36, 1936–37, 1937–38, 1938–39, 1941–42, 1947–48, 1949–50, 1957–58 (record)
  • United Arab Republic Cup
    • Winners: (1) 1961 (record)
  • Egyptian Federation Cup
    • Winners: (1) 1989 (Shared record)
  • Sultan Hussein Cup
    • Winners: (7) 1922–23, 1924–25, 1925–26, 1926–27, 1928–29, 1930–31, 1937–38 (record)

In February 2012 Al-Ahly’s passionate fans  (Ultras Ahlawy) were at the center of one of the deadliest disasters in football history. Immediately following a 3–1 loss to the  Al-Masry club in Port Said, Al-Masry fans stormed the pitch and opposing stands; 74 people died in the attack and subsequent rush to the stadium exits. Many suspected that the attack was organized and politically motivated, as it took place nearly one year after a notable clash during the Egypt uprising of 2011—a number of  Ultras Ahlawy had been prominent protesters in Tahrir Square against the Hosni Mubarak’s regime—and many of the Al-Masry fans were armed with weapons (including knives, swords, and clubs). As a result of the riot, the remainder of the 2011–12 Egyptian Presentation Premier League season was cancelled.

Despite that tragic incident Al Ahly’s faithful supporters bounced back in 2013-2014 to honor those that died in Port Said.  Mohamed Aboutrika also known as the Magician led them to an unprecedented eighth African Champions League title and fifth Egyptian Super Cup.  

To say the least Al Ahly is a great club with a rich history and I am glad that I decided to explore uncharted territory in the world of virtual football management. 



Foggia to Lazio to Sporting Club de Portugal

What’s good FM community?!

Its been a while since my last post. A lot has gone down since then: I took on a new Challenge with third tier Italian side Unione Sportiva Foggia: My fist season in charge we won the TR3Ble: Lega Pro Group C, Serie C Cup, Serie C Super Cup and Coppa Italia Runner up.  Foggia earned automatic promotion to the Serie B and almost got promoted to the Serie A but lost to Carpi in the playoff 6-4 on aggregate. In season three things got off to a slow start and I began to notice that the club and I did not share the same ambition so during the January transfer window I decided that this would be my  last season. Then no sooner SS Lazio contacted me to offer me an interview for the manager’s position since Laurent Blanc was sacked due to poor results.  The interview went well so well that I was hired and I took some of my backroom staff with me because they were responsible for my successes at Foggia and besides they are a loyal bunch of ex-footballers.

If there was ever a time that I regretted a decision I made this was the time. Lazio was a disaster! First, there was no transfer budget. That’s right, nil, zip, zilch nothing. Next they were the biggest bunch of wage bandits; a real Jeckyll and Hyde lot. I didn’t know which  side was going to show up on match day. To make a long story short I spoke to my friend Michael Skidmore (@totalfootball71), his suggestion was to get out of there fast. That was all I needed to hear, so I started a brand new and current save with Sporting Club de Portugal. I needed to rebound from the psychodrama in Rome, and Portugal is the perfect place to recover!

In the coming days I will post a more in depth piece on Sporting Club but I want to leave you with an inspirational video.


The Return To Glory: Winter Update

It’s exciting times at the Veltins-Arena. Currently we sit atop of the Bundesliga undefeated  with a five point lead over the Bavarian mega club, Bayern Munchen. We have the second best defensive record in the Bundesliga conceding 10 goals ; 2 Europa League; and 0 in the DFB Pokal. I am happy with our defense and that they have turned our ground into a fortress. Therefore, we can build a foundation of positional play based on having a rock solid back four of hard-working defenders. I don’t want to bore you with restating my philosophy because if you follow me you already know who and what inspires me, as well as who are my FM confidants (@totalfootball71 and @sasfm21)–so I will use our time together to present the Bundesliga table, players, formations, fixtures, results, and highlights. I’d rather let you judge for yourself if we’re on the right track.


Bundesliga Table


First Team

Left Fullbacks




Right Fullbacks




Attacking Midfielders




Keepers r




Bielsa’s 4-2-3-1/4-1-1-3-1





German Cup


Europa League europa


Schalke04  2 | Dortmund 1

Hoffenheim 3 | Shalke04 4


As you can see we’re in a good position to qualify for continental football and possibly win the Bundesliga. I’m fortunate to have at my disposal a group of committed players that are playing to return the club to glory.  Thanks for reading and I am always happy to hear your comments and feedback.