Finishing The Job

1955Well, the first full season in the Red Star Belgrade save has been completed, so once again it’s time to update you all on how we’ve been doing, and whether we managed to complete the work we’d started in the first half of the season, and win the first Yugoslavian Premier Liga of this save. At the very least, qualification for European football is paramount, in order to bring in the money that European football provides, in order to help improve the club, and continue to be able to sign (and hold onto) the best Yugoslavian players in world football. With the 8 point lead we had at the midpoint of the season, that should have been the very least we achieved, and quite frankly, to not win the league from that position would have been ridiculous.

So, did we finish the job? Was the first season of this save a success?

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Twenty-Five Years On

1955Well, I’ve reached the transfer window in the first season of my new Red Star Belgrade save, so it’s update time, to cover how things have been going in the Yugoslavian Premier Liga. I’m enjoying this save so much, and it’s so much fun to finally be playing as Red Star on Football Manager. In the last update, I covered the early decisions I’d made, particularly regarding signings (you’ll remember I’m focusing on signing mainly Yugoslavians). I’d only signed two players (wanting to evaluate the squad over the first season, before making any big decisions) in centre back Jevrem Kosnic on a free, and right back Filip Stojkovic for £400k. Kosnic was brought in to provide competition at centre back, and Stojkovic was brought in to be the new first choice right back, after I noticed that the club only had one worthy of being in the first team. Knowing FM’s love for making things difficult for you, I knew I had to make a signing here.

I also covered what I’ll be doing tactically in this first season, and I’d made the choice to return to my favoured narrow football, utilising a 4-3-1-2 formation, making the most of the top class central midfielders at the club, such as Ristic, Grujic, Plavsic, Donald and Katai. Of those, the trio of Ristic, Grujic and Plavsic are the real prospects, and have bossed the midfield throughout the first half of the season. Ristic in particular, has been outstanding. I faced a struggle early on to hold onto Ristic and Grujic, but managed to persuade them to stay at the Marakana.

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Yugoslavia Returns

1955Right, let’s kick off this Red Star save properly then, or Crvena Zvezda to give the club it’s proper name. Oh, and happy 71st Birthday Red Star. For those of you that missed the opening post of this save, I’ll fill you in. If you follow me on Twitter (@JLAspey), you’ll know that I’ve been lamenting the lack of a proper full, in depth Yugoslavia database for FM16 for quite some time now, having presumed one would be created by someone after the game’s release.

If you’re familiar with the writing I’ve done for websites such as These Football Times, you’ll know that I’m absolutely fascinated by East European football, and Yugoslavia in particular. I’m particularly interested in football’s role as a force for nationalism and unity in the Balkans, and also the effect that the war and the breakup of Yugoslavia had on football in Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia/Hervegovina etc. So, after much moaning and complaining on my part, my good friends over at @fm_central have taken on the project and created an absolutely brilliant Yugoslavia edit, which you can find here. So I’ve loaded it up, and chosen my team from Eastern Europe, a team I’ve loved ever since I first read about them and watched them play, Red Star Belgrade.

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It’s Finally Happening

2000px-Flag-map_of_Yugoslavia_(Neutral).svgThose of you that know me and know my football writing that I’ve done for the fantastic website These Football Times (I plan to get back to that soon) will know of my passionate interest for East European football. I’m a history geek (and teacher in training) and I’ve always been fascinated by the effect of Communism on Eastern Europe throughout the second half of the 20th Century. One of these effects on East European society was undoubtedly the use of sport as a propaganda tool, and a means of proving that Socialist societies provided better opportunities for their population than Capitalist societies. Football was undoubtedly a sport that was important in this ideal, being the world’s most popular team sport, and I’ve written at length about the effect it had on individuals such as Gyula Grosics from the famous ‘Magnificent Magyars’, the 1954 Hungary side.

However, the nation (or nations) that has always fascinated me is Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia became a Socialist republic following World War II, when Communist leader Marshal Tito took over the country, a country that consisted of Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia/Herzegovina, Macedonia and Slovenia. The country stayed together for decades under Tito’s policy (and somewhat repression) of Brotherhood and Unity, but fell apart in the early 1990’s following his death, as nationalism grew and centuries of ethnic tensions and religious differences blew up, leading to the bloodiest war since World War II, with atrocities being committed, and regions being ethnically cleansed. Amazingly, football is also seen as being the scene of the war’s first battles, particularly the riot that occurred at the Maksimir in 1990, when Red Star’s ultras the ‘Delije’ and Dinamo Zagreb’s ultras the ‘Bad Blue Boys’ clashed, leading to a full scale battle with the Police, and the now infamous kick by Zvonimir Boban on a Policeman attacking a Dinamo fan.

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