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Los Coladeros Episode 17: The New Brood – Mike Paul Vox


< Episode 16

It goes without saying, but I’m going to anyway: you all have excellent taste.

Sergio Sestelo, the first player to ever sign for Los Coladeros back when we were literally a bunch of nobodies, is your inaugural Player of the Season. He’s also bargain of the century, costing just £65k from Real Madrid B, and with a return of 33 goals and 15 assists in just 43 games, he’s no doubt our MVP. It’s amazing nobody has tried to nab him from me yet — although, the summer is still very young.

And, speaking of which… it’s transfer window time. Popcorn at the ready. Here we go.

And now, the bad news.

What the fuck. I don’t understand the rules here. I don’t have any non-EU players in my squad, so how is it possible I’m not allowed any more? Other teams have non-EU players in their squads. Why am I not allowed any? Genuinely, if anyone can help, I’d appreciate the advice here. I’ve never signed Tsigalko in all my years on CM01/02, and I was all excited. This is a massive anticlimax.

I re-bid for him just in case it was something to do with the D2B; now we’ve been shunted up to the D2 maybe the rules are different. I don’t know. I’m annoyed. To try to placate myself, I chuck out a few loan bids for superstar strikers who’ll never come here, and in fact I can’t even believe they’re on my Interested list — plus, I organise a pre-season tour: five matches to get us warmed up for the start of the new season. And there’s only one place on the map I’m interested in going.

Yes, we’re going to Wales, crucible of football and home to some of the most creative team names in the world. There would have been a trip to Total Network Solutions in there, but they sadly declined due to some European qualification commitments they’ve already got. Fair enough. Go ahead and win it all, lads.

I click Continue, forlorn at the loss of Tsigalko, and notice that a few of my loan bids are accepted by the clubs of Sebastián Abreu (Deportivo), Joseba Llorente (Real Sociedad), Flávio Conceição (Real Madrid), Richard Dunne (Man City), Sylvain Distin (Man City) and Humphrey Rudge (Roda JC). That’s a surprise in itself, considering that I haven’t offered to pay a single peseta in wage contributions. I click Continue again, expecting to see at least most of them reject me out of hand; I mean, we might get Rudge or Dunne I suppose, but what on earth would Abreu or Conceição be thinking if they came here?

Err… Susan? Cancel everything in my life.

With those two ridiculous, ridiculous loan signings in the history books, and (I think) only two loan players allowed, I turn my attention to permanent new additions at centre-half, the only remaining serious problem in the team by my assessment. Richard Smith started like a large bundle of sticks and dry leaves on fire last season, but learned from his awful defensive partners Sjӧberg and Ready to end the season on a 7.12 — not to be totally sniffed at, but mid-season he was closer to an 8. His descent was noticeable, and the less said about the other two, the better. Antonio has been a friendly face around the place, but he’ll be moved on as well, if I can find a new home for him. Basically, I don’t feel like any of my four defenders are up to code for the Second Division; I’d keep Sjӧberg just because he’s young and still has the potential to develop, but all the others need upgrading.

I launch bids into the ether, hoping to secure some new signings for the pittance we have remaining in our bank. I remember hearing on the grapevine that Greece is extremely fertile ground for dominant young centre-halves these days, so I shove Spencer Field onto the first flight to Athens with the task of rooting as many of them out as possible. In the meantime I try my hand at Henning Berg, Nikos Dabizas, Iván Amaya and Joleon Lescott, while also keeping tabs on Barcelona B’s transfer-listed Oleguer, who looks rubbish, but is Oleguer.

My bid for Henning Berg is accepted and I offer him the contract he wants, which is pretty bumper. He’d be our highest paid player by some distance, and is expensive at £650k, so I’m not overwhelmed by the prospect of this deal happening — but we need reinforcement at the back, and he is still a monster, even at 32. Porto accept my offer for a young Bruno Alves, a centre-back who certainly needs some work, but I’d already trust far more than Karl Ready. Sporting also accept my bid for Hélder Rosário, but on reflection, he’s not actually very good; his attributes are quite average, and I recall him being bobbins for me in the past, so I cancel that deal. We don’t need more liabilities in our back line.

Ah. Speaking of which… it turns out we are allowed more than two loanees. Settle yourselves in, Ultras. There’s a brand new bomb scare in town.

I’m just kidding, of course. At 22 and with nine Irish caps — and two goals — already, I’m actually delighted to have Dunne here. He’s a good backup. He’s the new Antonio! There you go.

Henning Berg also accepts my terms but I delay the transfer for a week to see if Spencer can come up with any rough diamonds who are 10% of the cost. Bruno Alves also accepts my terms, and I delay him, too — not because I don’t want him, I do, but I have no idea what my max squad size is, and if I got Alves but then couldn’t sign the world’s most promising Greek centre-back because of him, I’d be miffed.

Spencer lands in Athens and faxes me an entire page of unpronounceable names within hours — and I bid for almost all of them. Going the other way, I’ve transfer-listed a number of my fringe players to try to make room for new arrivals, and bids come in for Karl Ready, Steeve Gustan and Ben Zevenbergen, all of which I accept. Zevenbergen quickly accepts a deal to join Granada, and I allow him to leave for £50k. I am generally a fan of young Ben, but let’s face it: he’s getting nowhere near a squad that has Conceição, Bergtoft, Nilsson, Trustfull, Moukoko, Adolfo and Leandersson in it. The Second Division B is about where he should be. Good luck, lad. Thanks for helping out when we needed it the most.

My first Greek is called Nikolaos Tobros, a 16-year-old centre-half currently sniffing glue and staying up too late at Fostiras. They’ve accepted a bid from me that’s worth just £36k, and while his contract demands are a little higher than I’d expect for a player this young and inexperienced… there’s no doubting he’s got the goods. I mean, just look at the state of this.

This is why I delayed that deal for Henning Berg. I send him over the contract he wanted, with a couple of extra years chucked on the end for good measure, and await the good news.

In the meantime, a few more deals I’ve been working on start to come through: Marcinho, a Brazilian FRLC from Guarani, agrees to come here at the end of his contract in December. I was working on this one before the heartbreak of losing Tsigalko due to not being allowed any non-EU players, a rule I still don’t understand, so with Marcinho born and made in South America, is there any point confirming the deal if he’s just going to be turned away at the border? I decide to do it anyway; you never know. I certainly don’t know. He looks the business, playing in either left or right CM, AMC or up top if we need it. Hopefully they let him through passports. He should be fine — he’s a nippy little bugger.

My identical £200k bid for Tsigalko is accepted, terms are agreed, and I’m asked to confirm the deal once again. With my chest still aching, I do it, and await the same message about not being allowed any non-EU players. I’m never going to sign him, am I.

Wait.

SUSAN! PHONE THE EU! RING THE BELLS! FLIP A TABLE! PUNCH SOMEONE IN THE STREET! WE’VE GOT HIM! WE’VE FUCKING BLOODY WELL GOT HIM!!

Maxim Tsigalko is here! WHAT THE F — K WAS GOING ON IN THE SUMMER THEN?! Oh god, it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter, we’ve signed Tsigalko! We’ve signed Tsigalko! Victory is assured! Oh wait, if we got him, that means… Radamel!!

RETIRED?! NO! RADAMEL! NO! WHY! DON’T DO IT!!

Obviously the heartbreak of missing out on a move to his boyhood heroes has caused young Falcao to give up on football altogether, and while I don’t blame him… he could have come. He could have f — king come!! If I ever meet the person who stopped him and Max from arriving in the summer, I’m going to take them around the back and introduce them to the blunt end of my flip flop.

God, I am just… I’m a hot mess. Obviously I now have something of a problem with my starting team, since I now have Moukoko, Sestelo, Conceição, Bergtoft, Abreu, Adolfo, Dunwell and Tsigalko to all cram into the same team. Conceição is on loan, so he probably misses out first, and Adolfo isn’t that vital. Do I go two up? It seems bonkers to only play one of Abreu, Tsigalko and Dunwell. Hmm… it’s tinker time. What about this?

Unfortunately Conceição’s name completely flubs everything but you get the gist. Sestelo is moved back to a more withdrawn role, Bergtoft is the superior ankle-breaker so he takes the DMC role, but Flávio stays in the team to provide a bit of graft and flair from centre-mid, especially in games against teams where we expect to be under the cosh. For those matches where we should dominate, we can always drop him out for Trustfull or Nilsson and go a bit more attacking, or push Sestelo up alongside Tsigalko… or even…

YES. I love it. The Diamond is our standard tactic, and the newly-tweaked Typhoon v2 is there for when we need to batter some chumps. See, now I’m double excited.

All we need are some new defenders, and my life will be complete. My youth coaches answer my calls and promote one to the first team squad, Germán Pérez. He looks okay, but not brilliant, so I don’t offer him a contract, but don’t release him either. He can stick around and learn a thing or two from Richard Dunne, then we’ll see.

For some reason Villarreal bid £100k for Steeve Gustan; they perhaps know something I don’t, or maybe they’re all pissed up on local sherry, but either way — he’s yours. He was here a year, played okay a few times, but also missed training almost as often, so no great loss. Plus, Gillingham agree terms with Karl Ready, and I can’t wait to see the back of him. It’s only after I saw how desperately average he was that I realised I’d signed him to a five-year, £2,800 per week contract out of pure desperation. He’s leaving for free, but it’s just great to have his wages off the bill. We need those for Henning Berg, probably.

Spencer then calls me from Greece, risking a huge phone bill when he gets home, to tell me about a young defender by the name of Thanasis Tsikitsiris, or “the Greek lad” to those who know. He’s playing for a team called Skoda Xanthi, who he averaged 7.86 for last season, which is mighty impressive. I feel good about him, but notice that a rival bid from another unpronounceable Greek team has already gone in, so attempt to match it with an offer of my own. Just as I’m jabbing at the Send button on my fax machine, another message from Greece rattles through it towards me. It’s from Fostiras. Nikolaos Tobros is on his way. Ooooh boy, this is a good deal. This is a really, really good deal.

Excited at the sight of my new-look team, I go back to TNS to ask them if they fancy a friendly next week. It’s so early in the summer that they accept, and the game ticks over to July 1st…

Oh my goodness! I forgot all about Garry Monk! Welcome Garry, yes, no, we didn’t forget you at all, no, this is the dressing room, you just sit… sit there, and we’ll… Susan, go to the club shop and print him a shirt, quickly.

Bids come in for Javi Cárcaba, Lio Tarachalski and Antonio, and I accept them all. Lio is the only one I hesitate over, but let’s be real: it’s a new era at La Cartuja. Lio Tarachalski, for a short while, had the makings of an unlikely hero, a wonderkid who could take us all the way through the leagues, but where Sergio Sestelo etched his name into the history of Los Coladeros, Lio will go down as a cult hero. More of a one-hit wonder, actually. His hat-trick in the 7–0 routing of Barcelona B will never be forgotten, but now, another D2B team with only three actual players are in need — and Lio is going to answer the call once again. Well done, lad. You were a good boy when you showed up for training. Go out there and be a star.

I also decide to take Henning Berg from Blackburn for £650k spread over, I think, 24 months. He is a big expense, for sure, but I’d just feel better having his experience around to lead my currently very, very young cabal of centre-backs into the Second Division. Plus, he’s still quality, and I’m going to boot Richard Smith to the first team who’ll take him, so we still need a bit more turnover in my back four. Please join me in welcoming to La Cartuja, Champions League and three-time Premier League winner, Henning Berg!

I cancel my bid for Bruno Alves after this goes through; he’s a good name, but still very, very rough. He’d barely play, and instead would simply take up a spot in my squad that I’d rather keep for another super Greek. I’ll go back for him next summer. I can’t see anyone else taking him before then.

My excitement is then cranked up to 11 as Elfsborg finally accept a £230k bid for Jonas Lundén I made about six weeks ago and had genuinely forgotten all about. However, this time, the little sod actually agrees to talk to me, and his wage demands are within my budget. I very carefully submit them to him and wait anxiously by the photocopier…

Boy oh boy, my squad is seriously shaping up now. Sadly TNS have to cancel their friendly with us due to some Welsh Cup commitments, so I instead arrange a home game against Macedonian giants Sloga Jugomagnat in a week’s time to test out my new attacking force.

An attacking force that no longer contains Eduardo Benito, who I allow to go to UD Cultural Chantrea on a free transfer. He instantly becomes one of their “star” players, which is good news for him — he’s a talented lad. I just can’t see him getting many minutes here; he’s gone from second to fifth choice striker in a matter of weeks. I also allow Javi Cárcaba to leave for Alzira; he was incredibly limited in his attributes, but to be fair to him, he stepped up like a champ when it mattered. He deserves more than sitting on the bench forever. Bye, lads. Thanks for helping out.

That’ll do for now — I need a long lie down. Next time we’ll have our friendlies, and no doubt even more transfers to get excited about. Stay tuned!

Episode 18 coming soon!

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