The Chancer Chronicles Reunion: Catch Up Edition

So, its time we had a Chancer Chronicle catch up, a reunion, per se. I’ve now entered my 8th season as a football manager. 8 years. That’s a long time. I may have started as a fresh faced youngster but I’m now carrying a bit of timber around my waist and my hairs thinning at a surprising rate. Anyway, I figured it would be a good time to catch up with some of our former students. Did life enf out as expected for the wonder kids? Did some of our favourites go on to have good careers after our lives took different paths? Or have they become utterly useless under the tutorage of someone less able than myself? Let’s take a look shall we?

Barca B:
So, for those of you who don’t know I began my career a long time ago in Spain as the Barca B manager. Being honest here, it was a mixed time. Thanks to some last day shit-housery we ended the season in 9th and ultimately the club decided someone else should take the team forward. At the time I felt a bit disappointed and dispirited by it all. I had zero control and the constant robbing of players by the first team made my position a point of frustration. I was glad to find new pastures. However, there were some players at the club worth revisiting. Only some, for the most part they were shite and I disliked the majority of them. But here are a few worth checking up on:

Defence:
Rodri Tarin, CB – I remember seeing Rodri and being surprised he was at Barca B. At the time he was a young 21-year-old who had never experienced football anywhere else. At that time he was still in need of improving but was a talented lad. Unsurprisingly he was our best defender. So after I left I couldn’t help but keep an eye on him and his progression. Thankfully no one else went for him and as his contract ran down I pounced and signed him on a free transfer for Braunschweig. After five seasons he’s still there and making a good career as a squad player. I did like my Rodri.

Sergei Palencia, RB – He left on a free at the same time as me. Both of us were young doves ready to take flight and the bastards at that club were holding us back. He moved to Everton and had limited success. Mainly because he struggled for game-time, making only 8 first team appearances before finding himself rotting in reserves. After one and a half seasons there, a tall, dark and handsome bastard appeared, sporting a I <3 Germany t-shirt. It was me. At that point I was at Braunschweig and I had been closely following Palencia’s plight for 18 months and hoped I would get a chance to swoop in for him. After moving heaven on earth – and a lot of wheeling and dealing, I somehow managed to scrape together an £8m bid and he was soon lighting up the Bundesliga as my first choice right-back. It seems mad that £8 million was a significant fee looking back now. How times have changed. After 3 seasons in the Bundesliga, Tottenham appeared on the scene and paid £19.25million to steal him away. He’s now entering his 3rd season there as a first-team starter.

 

Midfield:
Oriol Basquets, CM: The first of my former wonderkids. He played 34 games for me at the tender age of 18 and, frankly was one of the best players, despite his age he averaged 7.03 that first season. My memories of Oriol are one of talent and promise, oh so much promise. He scored on 3 occasions playing for me and each of them was a long-range effort to rival some of the greats. I thought he would be a star, one of two (him and Ruiz) so, it’s with a bit of a heavy heart that I now tell his story.
After his breakout season, and a wonderkid tag, big clubs started to circle, even before my departure. Liverpool won the battle for his signature and paid £12.25million for him. He spent his first season playing in the reserves, not entirely unexpected, as he was still only 18, probably needed time to adjust to the league and language. In the 19/20 campaign Oriol was shipped out to Real Hispalis back in Spain to continue his development. Slightly counterintuitive in my opinion but hey ho. He managed 20 games and an average rating of 6.60 for the season. No matter. One season older, it was time to have a shot at the first-team in the top tier of English football. This time he moved to Huddersfield. A disastrous year loan ensued. No first-team starts, only two sub appearances, and only 7 games in the reserves. He headed back to Liverpool with an average rating of 6.55 and a stagnated progress and a stunted career. After 3 seasons of disappointment, Liverpool looked to offload.
Ever a team on the lookout for a bargain, Seville, unsurprisingly, came knocking. An offer of £3.6million was accepted by Liverpool and Oriol was soon hopping on a plane back to Spain. A new challenge, a fresh slate and a more familiar culture. A recipe for success, surely? Erm, not really. During his first season back in Spain, Oriol managed 6 starts and 13 sub appearances, finishing the season on 6.81. Now aged 23, Oriol desperately needed game time before a career – which promised so much – fizzled out. His second season in Seville was more successful. He managed 22 starts in La Liga and the Copa Del Rey, with 8 sub appearances. Surely this was it? It was now time for my mate and young prodigy to crack on, to finally become the player he threatened to be… His 3rd and final season in Seville ended with 16 starts and two sub appearances. Clearly my mate wasn’t in the manager’s plans. So now, 8 years down the line, Oriol has made a return to England, after Crystal Palace offered an out with a £2.4million bid. Hopefully a chance he so desperately deserves. Hopefully he will turn his career around. Fingers crossed.

Carles Alena, CM: Carles, Carles, Carles. A lad full of talent, a player who could reach the upper echelons. So how did he get on? He, along with Oriol, had a good season under me, managing 36 starts, scoring 6 goals and 6 assists. I thought, along with some of the other lads, Alena would be cherry picked. Instead, he spent another frustrating season playing in the B-team. A further 36 games, another 3 goals and 4 assists. The world was at his feet and the vultures were circling. However, further frustration ensued. Instead of taking advantage during the pre-season, the powers that be opted to keep him, at least, until deadline day. After bouncing from the first-team and the B-team, the player finally drew a line in the sand and said, ‘I’m off for consistent first-team football’ and a transfer was made. Celta Vigo got their man for £3.2million. There at last Carles was allowed to spread his wings and fly. He made 40 first-team appearances that season, scoring 7, assisting 7 and averaging 7.01. Over the next four seasons, Carles established himself firmly in the team, making between 35-40 starts a year, and averaging around 7.0 per season. At 26 y/o, he’s on £100k p/w and considered a first-team player, with 172 appearances and 24 goals for the club. I’m so proud of him. I always knew he could be a star.

 

Strikers:
Abel Ruiz, ST: The 2nd of our proclaimed wonder kids. During my short stay at the club Abel was somewhat of a unicorn. I knew he existed, but could I fuck get him to play. In the end I was graced by his presence in the final run in of the season, in his 10 appearances he scored 4 goals and assisted 1. Not bad for a 17-year-old. In fact, pretty fucking good. Benfica pounced, throwing a cool £12.5million on the table. After 18 starts, 9 sub appearances, Abel managed 9 goals, 1 assist and an excellent 7.11 for his first season as a senior player. The future looked bright. The following season his playing time dipped significantly and Abel played only 7 times, with 4 sub appearances. Even still he still scored on 6 occasions. So, midway through the following season, after an impressive start of 12 starts (7 sub appearances) and 5 goals and 2 assists, Leverkusen came swooping in and tabled £36.5million for young Abel. His stay at Leverkusen was briefer than an old man’s erection and after six months, with 3 starts (5 sub apps) and 8 goals (holy shitballs), RBL came busting down the door. Young Abel was now a £43.5million player. The lad was more than living up to his name. At 21 years old and with 14 starts (4 subs) 9 goals and 3 assists later, Abel was living the life. He was on the path to stardom, on a collision course to be a world class player.

Until suddenly he wasn’t. His second season at RBL is a strange one. Clearly struggling for game time, despite impressive stats of: 2 starts, 3 subs and 4 goals and 1 assist, Abel somehow had to go in search of regular playing time. Schalke jumped at the chance, who wouldn’t want a young, hungry proven goalscorer in their ranks? So keen was Schalke they loaned Abel at a premium price of £1.2million for the 2nd half of the season. While there, Abel was given 13 starts, (2 sub apps) and continued his (rough) strike rate of 2:1, with 7 goals and 1 assist. This was it, surely? RBL must finally take note and utilise the young lad they spent nearly £50million on? No, once again, after another frustrating lack of playing time with only a single sub appearance, Abel jumped at another loan opportunity. This time it was Koln. After 16 starts, Abel encountered his first goal draught, managing only two goals and one assist. Were the wheels finally falling off? I hope not. I can only hope someone will take a chance and allow him to play regularly, otherwise, a talent that promised so much may disappear into obscurity.

Players Bought: 6 – all on Free Transfers, all of them shite and not worth mentioning.
Net Spend: £0

Braunschweig:
After a few weeks out of the game, I made the next step in my career and took the job at Braunschweig. At the time the move caused quite a stir as I was an unknown manager with little experience and I was walking into a team recently promoted to the Bundesliga, unsurprisingly they were a team with tiny resources. A recipe for disaster, surely? No. Quite the opposite. I, and the team of course, proved a massive success. Not only did we win back-to-back titles and the German Cup, we also managed to build enough financial power to build the club it’s own stadium, as the previous stadia was council owned. In a romantic way I miss Braunschweig, it was an amazing time for both myself and the club as I proved I could not only compete with the big dogs, but I could do it at a fraction of the price. Life’s never really been the same since I left. I loved that club. Anyway, some of my former stars:

Goalkeeper:
Marius Muller, GK – Free transfer. I loved Marius, he was brought in to replace the former no.1 goalkeeper Stefan Dux who was sold to Ajax for £2million in my second season in charge there. To look at him, Marius was little more than a middle-of-the-road keeper, no one was particularly interested in signing him as he waited patiently for a new club. For me he was a revelation. I’d been scouting him for six months and couldn’t believe my luck when he decided to leave RBL at the end of his contract. In the two seasons he played under me, he averaged 7.16 per season. He was by no means a superstar, on around £10k p/w, but he was a superstar in my eyes. He stayed at Braunschweig for one more season after my departure before leaving once again on a free to SM Caen in France, where, unfortunately he was part of a team relegated to the 2nd Division last campaign. Now 31 y/o, and with 1 more year on his contract, I wouldn’t be surprised if he considered retiring at the end of this coming season. No matter what, I could only ever wish him the best of luck. My hero. My mate.

 

Defence:
Emiliano Velazquez, CB – Free transfer. Brilliant piece of business this, even if I do say so myself. Arguably one of my best signings for the club, most definitely out of the defensive positions. He arrived at the age of 22-23, eager to learn, hungry to impress. And for two seasons he and Igor Rabello were colossus’s, bossing Germany’s attackers. After 123 appearances for the club he made a £9million move to French club Bordeaux in January, where he is now entering his third season and playing regularly (with continental football to boot).

Igor Rabello, CB – £3.5m. At the time, that was a lot of money for me. But Igor and Velazquez came in together and the South Americans hit it off from the beginning. They became the backbone of my back-to-back title-winning team. He was also the first of my love-in for left-sided centre-backs. After three seasons, 92 appearances, a £6million bid from SEP in Brazil was enough to see him head back home. Since returning to Brazil he’s managed to win the title last season and SEP – his club – are currently topping the pile this season again. Well done my son.

Paulo Valente, CB – £625. That’s right, you didn’t read that wrong, quid, not thousand, not million, £625. He signed as a teenager, 15 or 16 years old from Portuguese side Sacavenense. I’ve never heard of it either. Credit must go to my scouting team here, brilliant find. He never had a real go in the first team until my last season, in truth, but he was invaluable when he broke in. It makes me really proud to state young (still only 24 y/o) Valente is still at Braunschweig, plying his trade as a squad player, averaging 30 games a season. He’s now earning £46.5k p/w and worth £14million. Do you see the value in giving youth a chance? Yes? Good on you. Wonderful stuff.

Aaron, LB – £1.8million. Bayern originally purchased Aaron for a cool £22.5million from Espanyol. After a two-year loan at BMG Aaron returned to find they still couldn’t find room in their over inflated squad. Bayern were open to offers. I felt like a masked gunman laying down that £1.8million for a hugely talented 22-year-old. To me it seemed like the robbery of a century. My only issue with Aaron is I didn’t get to spend enough time with him. He was an absolute beauty and slotted into our system perfectly. Again, it’s nice to see him still at Braunschweig as a first team regular.

Midfield:
Lukasz Marczuk, CM – Oh captain, my captain. My Polish mate. He’s apart of the furniture at Braunschweig and has spent his entire career there. Now 32 and with only one year left on his contract, I think my mate will possibly look at retiring next summer. If so I hope he kicks up his feet and enjoys his retirement. We conquered Germany together and for that I will always love him.

Mirko Boland, CM – Good old Mirko, he was the hub and mainstay of my team in the first two seasons, despite his age. When I joined the team Mirko was 32 and yet his stamina was insatiable even still. He was a man I could rely on even until the end. He retired from the game in 2022, after 13 years at Braunschweig and is considered a Club Favourite after 342 appearances there.

Marko Grujic, CM – Me and Grujic played a funny game. I brought him in on loan from Liverpool, he left us to return back to his home club after a mixed season to sort out his future. Despite his mediocre season I knew he was a monster in the making, so I laid down an offer of £4million. Liverpool accepted and were willing to sell, however, Porto swooped in, and stole him away with the pretext of glamour. They had Champions League football, we didn’t. Fast forward another season and lo and behold, Marko struggled to settle in Portugal. However, the bastards not only wanted to recoup their outlay but also make profit on him. It meant I had to pay £6.5m to bring him home. A massive fee for us but my God was he worth every penny. It warms the cockles of my heart to say he’s still at Braunschweig. Five years, 175 appearances, 35 goals and 34 assists later, he’s still leading the way.

Strikers:
Patson Daka, ST – Marc Arnold (now retired from the game) purchased Daka from Power Dynamo in Zambia before spending two years at FC Liefering in Austria. Clearly Arnold knew his business because Daka made 42 appearances and scored 21 times at FC Liefering and so Arnold purchased him for £1.9million. He arrived the same day as me and if I’m honest, I wasn’t overly pleased to see such a large fee spent on a player not of my choosing but I was proven wrong. Oh so wrong. Daka made 112 appearances for Braunschweig and scored 50 goals and 37 assists. I feel a sudden urge to find Arnold and send him a lovely ‘Thank You’ card. Despite averaging 7.39 Braunschweig saw fit to sell Daka this summer to Vallecano for £4.2million. Bargain of the century right there.

Christoffer Nyman, ST – Bit of a romantic story this. Knowing I had a limited budget when I arrived at Braunschweig I looked to the reserves and found Nyman there. He’d arrived two seasons before from a Swedish side IFK Norrkoping for £525k. His first season seemed pretty successful, making 31 appearances and scoring 11 goals. Not bad. Yet the following season he struggled for game time, making only 4 appearances in the Cup. I gave him a chance and he flourished. I must admit, after my first season Nyman was on my cull list. Not particularly for any good reason other than he had decent sell on value. But whatever I may have gotten for him wouldn’t have recouped the brilliance he achieved at the club. 145 appearances, 95 goals 37 assists later he’s now left for a Russian side Akhmat for £1.5million. Unsurprisingly, almost as if against the odds, he’s now forging a good career there too. He’s a working-class hero is my Christoffer.

Ruben Caballero, ST – Another masterclass from the scouting team. I won’t go into too much detail as I mentioned Ruben briefly in a recent episode. I signed him for £700k and he fast established himself in the team despite his young age of 18. 127 appearances, 63 goals and 24 assists, with those sort of numbers it wasn’t long before the young lad was attracting attention from some serious apex predators. PSG came in and spent £92-smack-a-roonies on him. Unsurprisingly he is impressing in France now, with 14 goals out of 20 appearances. My boy.

Suleiman Abdullahi, ST – Similar to Nyman, I found my man Abdullahi rotting in the reserves. Seeing the numbers he managed the season before my arrival, with 18 goals out of 35 games, I couldn’t not give the lad a chance (double negative there for you all). Fuck me, did he take it. In his first season under me he scored 29 goals in 34 appearances. Under me he played 87 times and scored 63 and assisted 38. He was a warrior, one of my favourites, always wanting to score or help a teammate score yet never making demands, always happy with his lot. Sadly it looks like with my departure, so went his opportunities. Over the following three seasons he playing 30 times and scored 7 goals and made 5 assists. Not exactly terrible numbers, yet the powers that be, namely the former manager who led Braunschweig’s golden generation off a cliff, the useless twat, decided to allow him to leave to Granada on a free. Seriously one of my all-time favourites.

James Wilson, ST – Now, as stated in the past, this is possibly my greatest ever signing. To look at Wilson he isn’t the most spectacular player but fuck me did he turn our team into a different beast. I watched Wilson and his United career fizzle out and when he was allowed to negotiate with other clubs I jumped at the opportunity. Bar a couple of mixed loan deals he had only really played reserve team football. The fans weren’t impressed by the deal, but with Wilson’s pace I knew he’d take us to a new level. In his first season Wilson played 23 times, scored 14 and, almost more impressively, assisted 15 times. His second season was even more impressive. Playing 25 times, scoring 17 and assisted 17. At the peak of our powers, this was some of the most exciting football we played, with Wilson providing genuine pace and threat in attack. Unfortunately, what is now becoming a running theme, Wilson found himself frozen out at the club during the new manager’s tenure. He managed only 10 appearances in the following two seasons, before being shipped out on loan to Bielefeld, where, once again his numbers impressed, 9 goals in 24. After running his contract down for a second time in his career, Wilson made a move to fellow Bundesliga team Dresden. Hopefully he finds better luck there. Or maybe not. He’s currently transfer listed for £4.2million. Oh James.

Transfers In: £26.5million.
Transfers Out: £27.25million.
Net Spend: £750k.

So much time and effort went into the building of that team. The club was in a real mess when I arrived, our bank balance was at £18million, with monthly loans and outgoings to match it so in order to buy I needed to sell, or buy cheap, or, better yet, sign frees. Everything had to be meticulously planned to the detail. Have you ever seen that Meme of a couple lying in bed, the woman is asking, ‘Is he thinking about another women?’ or some such garbage, whereas the man’s thought bubble is, ‘what player can I sign?’ Well that was me. When I eventually got the players, I then had to make them a success, I couldn’t afford failures. That meant creating a team of staff actually good at their jobs. More painstaking work. If I had a finite budget I knew I needed good scouts to find hidden gems and coaches to make sure they fulfilled their potential. Now, at the likes of Liverpool and PSG, I can go out and blurt £70m on a keeper. During my Braunschweig days that was unthinkable. It was excruciating at times. Yet so rewarding. Inevitably though, it’s why I left. It was so time consuming and so much effort went into every decision I needed something easy and fun, hence my stint at PSG.

So, as you can see, just as in the real world, careers can be made or lost on the whim of a manager (Nyman or Ruiz) or picking the wrong club to move to (i.e. Basquets). It seems there is more failures than successes which is a real shame.

I think that’s enough catch up now though. Maybe in a few more years I’ll revisit PSG and Liverpool, both are too fresh for the time being and frankly, as interesting as this trip down memory lane has been, it’s also been slightly fucking depressing too.

Thanks for taking the time to see how our past heroes are doing. Next week we will be back for a new season with Liverpool.