Just to create a bit of perspective here, in this particular save I was in charge of Partizan Belgrade for three silverware-laden seasons. Three titles, three cups and three Champions League wins were testimony to some shrewd business maneuvers, superb scouting and innovative tactical efforts. If you win three Champions League titles in succession, it’s not a matter of flukes or one-season-wonders, it’s structural success. So how long will it take the AI to completely and utterly destroy the setup?
This blog post is simply a description of the starting situation the club was in when I departed for pastures greener on the banks of the river Bosporus.
Not being in charge of Partizan (and being daft enough not to screenshot before I took up another offer), I had to resort to FMRTE to check out Partizan’s financial situation. Don’t worry, I’m not cheating, but I don’t want to add a new manager to the game just to check on Partizan’s financial situation. Anyway…
As you can see, I left the club in a financially healthy situation. Plenty of cash reserves, a very healthy transfer budget, no excessive wages paid and plenty of room to attract new players to the club.
Some of the more skeptical and misanthropic people among us would comment that I could have padded those stats by selling off the entire squad just before leaving for Galatasaray. I didn’t. Just to be complete, I will show off the first team squad. I won’t showcase the entire youth squad, which consists of over 90 players in various age groups, but trust me when I say that there is plenty of talent there to sustain the club for five or more years. I will showcase some of the more exceptional talents in some positions.
Ratkovic was my main goalkeeper. A young, home-grown player, tall and powerful. Basically a goalkeeper who is good enough to play for the club for a decade or longer.
His understudy would be Josko Stipica. Another good goalie, who is the primary keeper for Teleoptik Zemun, basically the Partizan B squad, playing in a lower league. He gets to rack up his playing minutes this way and he can step up straight away should Ratkovic move to a foreign club.
Coming in from the Serbian diaspora in Australia, Stojic is a model professional. I loaned him to Kayserispor to make sure his progression as a player did not get hindered. Should Ratkovic leave, he can take on Stipica for the position of starting goalkeeper.
The future is bright as well in the goalkeeping department, with Max Jovanovic being the brightest talent in this department. Honestly, there is no reason for Partizan to mess up in this department.
The right wing-back
Owusu was my starting wingback for the three years I spent in charge of Partizan. His stellar performances down that right flank in true Dani Alves fashion have attracted interest from foreign clubs, but I managed to re-new his contract. If any club wants to sign Owusu, it will cost them a pretty penny.
Should Owusu decide to bugger off (and let’s face it, there’s a fair chance he wants to leave to a club with a higher reputation and more money), then my Japanese prodigy can step up. He’s pretty much on par with Owusu, so the right wing-back spot is covered for next season, regardless of summer transfers.
Borba is a physical beast with limited footballing skills, but quite useful when told to simply mark a player out of the match. His versatility makes him useful. His PSG pedigree hints at a decent potential ability as well.
Xhixha is a player who is mostly used as cover just in case something goes wrong. He can play wide and central roles in defence, which makes him a useful utility player and not much else.
For the future, I reckon Dragan Mikic is a shit hot talent. He’s being touted as a wonderkid, he’s a regional lad (even though he’s not Serbian), he’ll be a home-grown player in a year or so. Not much that can go wrong here, right?
The left wing-back
Another prime example of proper scouting. Czech wing-back Soukup has Barcelona pedigree and whilst his offensive contributions are neglible, he’s a sturdy and reliable defender, both domestically and on the highest European stage. You are basically set for the next few years.
Should Partizan sell off Soukup, they can fall back on the services of Stipanovic. The Bosnian nearly counts as a home-grown player and is maturing into a decent player. He’s not quite on the same level as Soukup, but he has the potential to get there, given the time on the pitch.
In the same age-bracket as Stipanovic, the club also has young Nigerian Adesina sitting the reserves. The young Nigerian is a player similar to Stipanovic, which means the club has plenty of options.
The central defenders
Matic is a bit of a hard man, but his defensive skills are invaluable for Partizan. He’s not fast or strong in the air, he’s not even spectacularly strong. He’s just in the right spot at the right time, whilst being ferocious enough to take on anyone trying to get past him. He also adds some offensive firepower by being in the right spot at the right time during set pieces. I brought him in from my own Benfica setup and after my departure, I’m sure several other European clubs will be looking to secure his services.
Brought in from the Lyon reserves, Sanogo hasn’t been an undisputed starter so far, but he has the power and pace to become one. Defensively, he’s sound as a pound and now that he has learned the language, his performances can only get better.
Savinovic suffered a broken leg at Leverkusen, which kept him out of the running for nearly a full season. Leverkusen didn’t want to risk renewing his contract, Partizan took a gamble with him and it has paid off. Savinovic could play as a wing-back as well, though his main skill-set is aimed at defending, not attacking.
Tall and powerful, Krmpotic wanted to see more first team action and was thus loaned to Villarreal to accomodate Sanogo in first team (you can only register 25 players for first team duties in Serbia). He had a good season in La Liga and will return to Belgrade to fight for his spot in first team.
And just to add some extra twang to the already murderous competition for the position of central defender, South American powerhouse Jacinto Martínez will come back from two loan spells to other Serbian clubs.
The right winger
Another pedigree signing. A tricky yet injury-prone winger, Trbuhovic never broke into the Arsenal first team on a regular basis. Two seasons at Partizan saw him mature into a quality player, with quite a few European top clubs looking to secure his services.
The only other right winger at the club is Jesús Revuelta. After Zivkovic’s retirement, Revuelta is the only other competitor. His loan spells turned out to be disappointing, but the lad has potential. He will need to step up quickly if he is to save his career.
The left winger
PSG didn’t want him. I did. Cimesa is now one of the hottest talents in Europe. Whilst he’s not a natural winger, his dribbling skills, pace and finishing skills make him a lethal threat down the left flank. Again, we have a Partizan talent who is coveted by quite a few big name clubs.
De Sarrasqueta is a player similar to Cimesa, but a few years older. After a failed Benfica tenure, I decided to bring him with me to Partizan. Again, he failed to break into first team. Loan spells abroad also didn’t pay off, but despite a few sub-par seasons, the man still has the skill-set to succeed.
Zivanovic was a young talent we picked up in Holland, at a non-league outfit. His development has been spectacular to say the least, especially during his last loan at Boavista. He performed stellar in Portugal, he could be good enough to challenge Cimesa this season.
Acuña is a young Peruvian player I took a gamble on. As much as I like to think he could be ready for first team action, Partizan’s new manager has transfer listed him already. He’s still a talented left winger and maybe the Partizan manager will come to his senses.
The central midfielders
Jelicic is actually an attacking midfielder by origin, but we mostly played him in a central midfield role. A superb, flegmatic technician, with great passing skills and a silky smooth first touch. Not surprisingly, there are quite a few suitors after him.
Djuro’s career ground to a halt for a few years after a move to Juventus didn’t turn out as he had hoped. He has managed to revitalise his career at Partizan, but he’s kept out of the squad by the presence of guys like Jelicic. Should Jelicic leave however, Djuro can and will step up.
A bargain buy from the Argentine league, Altamirano is a superb deeplying playmaker. Another skilled technician with a feisty personality on the pitch, Altamirano might just be looking to move abroad after securing a spot in the Argentine national team. You can’t sit in the same dressing room as stars playing for Barcelona and Real Madrid and not be envious.
If Altamirano leaves, Pozzi should be his natural successor. He’s been getting action at Teleoptik for two seasons now and I reckon he is ready for the step towards first team, should an opportunity present itsself.
Renteria is another prime example of our pedigree policy. Not good enough for Real Madrid does not mean not good enough for a career at a good club. He struggled to get into my first team, but performed well enough on loan in the Championship. He will come back after the summer to fight for a spot in first team.
A veteran player, Todorovic is a strong and powerful presence and a player content with playing when called upon only. Sadly, the new manager seems to want him out, but I reckon Partizan could still use this veteran midfield scrapper.
Radenkovic is another Serbian talent who moved abroad at a young age, failed to make the cut and came back to Partizan to save his career. After two seasons at Teleoptik, he needs to step up next season and perform.
The Croatian diaspora in Australia provided us with Alen Knezevic, a small but energetic midfielder with that typical Balcan silky smooth first touch. A few loan spells have helped him develop so far, but he could be destined for truly great things.
The attacking midfielders
Stepanovic is a powerhouse attacking midfielder, capable of scoring plenty of goals. His goalscoring record clearly shows he’s capable of stepping up. There are plenty of clubs after him after bagging a goal a game last season, so he could be off.
The same applies to Matthias Radosavljevic. Hertha didn’t want him, we did. A spectacularly talented midfielder, the creative spark that carries the team yet still capable of scoring a goal himself. Another player who could be off this summer.
Gustavo is a re-trained striker. Because the whole learning a new position process took a while, he hasn’t featured as regularly as he would have liked, but with the departure of Stepanovic looking imminent, he could be the one leading the line for Partizan next season.
This home-grown wonderkid could step up next season if one or more of the main players leave. A model professional mentality should help nicely.
We picked this Indian talent up in the Canadian leagues and using my patented MLS exploit, secured his services in Serbia. He’s starting to mature into a decent player, so He could just get a chance in first team should one or two of the others leave.
Which finally brings me to Luka Jovic. Again, we converted a forward into an attacking midfielder. Veteran player Jovic was brought in to tutor some of the young ‘uns and add some depth to the squad. He hasn’t played mich, but he isn’t complaining either.
The *shudders* forwards
With my team following the teachings of the Dark Side, I haven’t really used proper strikers. The ones I did sign, like Gustavo, were re-trained into Shadow Strikers, but the club does have a few strikers on the books.
I basically signed this Greek-Australian lad because of his tremendous form in the Australian A-league. so far, he hasn’t disappointed during his loan spells and he could just perform in first team when given a chance.
Brazilian forward Maninho has performed admirably during his loan spells, but nothing spectacular. Still, there isn’t a direct need to sign new strikers.
The coaching setup
Part of building a succesful club is setting up a proper coaching setup. This is the setup Partizan currently have in place.
Incidentally, the same day I left, Partizan kicked out a bunch of the staff for some silly reason. We can’t attribute this to the new manager, but it certainly seems silly to mess up a perfectly good setup.
The scouting setup
The same applies to the coaching setup. If you want to compete, you need a staff capable of unearthing the future gems soon, which is where a good scouting setup comes in.