Not Everyone Who Chased The Zebra Caught It. But He Who Caught The Zebra, Chased It.

Stade de Reims / Ivory Coast – 2038/39 Season Review

The end of season celebrations are epic.  Champagne corks popping everywhere, throughout the Parc Leo-Lagrange on a beautiful late Spring afternoon, across from the Stade Auguste-Delaune.  Predicted to finish 5th, we took the title at a canter.

The players mix with the supporters, as Fallowfield Hillbilly (a Swedish Courteeners cover band who are, in a sad twist of fate, fronted by a balding Liam Fray with a combover) play a lazy version of their recent hit single, “Not Ligue 2 Forever.”

From the side of the stage, Zlatan chuckles at poor Liam.  “Morrisey with strings, yeah?!  Morrisey with terminal **** cancer, more like.”  Jesse and the lads howl, while Zlatan starts a conga line, ironically.  

I step away, resisting the calls to join the growing conga line.  I need to savor the moment.

The media are right to applaud.  We were dominant.  Champagne football in every sense, the most potent attack in the league, stacked on top of the best defense.

We have a big task ahead of us, though.  Stepping up to Ligue 1 will be no walk in the park. 

We’ve already begun to prepare, securing one-year extensions to loan contracts for Craig Jackson and Gervais Traore.  The next step is to active our optional clauses to purchase Szilard Dobias and Adjaho Meleke…and go hunting for more youth prospects.

Oh, and there’s a little thing called the African Cup of Nations to prepare for.

As Fallowfield Hillbilly begin their encore set with a reggae-electro cover of Oasis’ “Champagne Supernova,” I see her.

Selene.  Unmistakably her, dressed in all white.  Standing in the crowd, in the shade of a tree towards the back.  Staring right at me.  Holding my gaze.  As a devious smile crosses her face, she nods to me. 

I push my way down the stairs at the side of the stage.  I have so many questions. 

But by the time I reach the tree, she is gone.

I can feel my heart racing.  This isn’t over.

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One of the big goals for this past year, outside of the narrative, was fine-tuning PM Haaientand (the tactic used last year, in Partizan’s CL-winning campaign, and now with the Ivory Coast).

We were predicted to finish 5th, so it isn’t like we dramatically over-performed by winning Ligue 2. It was a big campaign, no question.

But we have to keep moving forward, now. Build up some squad depth. Prepare for what’s coming.

A run at Europe requires 2 XIs. And while we have some brilliant youth in the squad…they need time to develop. And we need reinforcements.

Goals for 2039/40:   Finish mid-table in Ligue 1. Start building a side that can compete in Europe. Continue developing promising Ivorian talents. Win the Cup of Nations.

Squad | League Overview | Transfers

Finances | Income | Expenditure

Fixtures 1 | Fixtures 2

European Review

In the Champions League, Julian Nagelsmann’s Gladbach beat Marco Ianni’s Inter, 1-nil.

Champions League Overview | CL Knockout Rounds

In the Europa League, it was an all-German affair this year, as Murat Yakin’s Wolfsburg beat Manuel Baum’s Hamburg, 2-nil.

Europa League Overview | EL Knockout Rounds

In the Europa Conference League, Jamie Steel’s Newcastle beat Mauricio Pochettino’s Lazio, 6-5 on penalties, after a scoreless draw.

Europa Conf. League Overview | ECL Knockout Rounds

In the active leagues, Ognjen Vranjes’ Aston Villa won their first Premier League title since 1981. Marcelo Gallardo’s Milan claimed the Serie A title on matchday 38, when Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus drew away to Mikel Arteta’s Sampdoria. Miguel Cardoso’s Sevilla defended their La Liga title, the 5th time in 7 years that neither Barcelona nor Real Madrid have won the title. Hugo Lloris’ Lyon claimed their 4th straight Ligue 1 title. Antonio Conte’s Schalke knock Nagelsmann’s Gladbach off their perch in Germany. Baba Toure’s Club Brugge won their 3rd straight Belgian title, their 10th in 13 yars.. Paolo Fonseca’s Panathinaikos won their 15th straight SuperLeague title. Nestor el Maestro’s Partizan didn’t lose a step, waltzing to their 7th straight title with 107 points and a +93 goal difference. Finally, Nikola Moro’s IFK Norrkoping won the 2038 Allsvenskan title, their 3rd title in 5 years.

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Save/Challenge Overview

If you’ve stumbled upon this post and are finding yourself a bit confused… Don’t worry.  The basic concept behind the Nearly Men save is explained here.  Just need to catch up? Each installment in Nicolaj Bur’s story can be accessed through the Nearly Men Archive.

And if you just can’t get enough…join us for The Ballad of Toothless Bob, a series conceived and co-authored by Seattle Red and Oriole that explores the world of Nicolaj Bur, away from the pitch. What is Project Arcturus? What lies beyond the twisted redstone door, deep in the bowels of the Santiago Bernabéu?


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