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Despite What My Pocket Square Says, I Am Not A Billionaire

Duruji Kvareli – 2025 Open Thread

December 2024 / January 2025 – The View from 30,000 Feet.

During the FM20 version of this save, I often talked about how I saw there being different “stages” in the overall arc of the save: (1) the rise to the Erovnuli Liga; (2) the battle to reach Europe and achieve domestic superiority in Georgia; and (3) becoming a continental force. Of course, on the side of this we may also pursue global domination with the Georgian national team.

We are rapidly approaching the end of the 1st stage, as our rise from the Georgian 5th tier has been spectacularly swift. (Yes, I do realize I’m tempting fate right now.)

Just like last time around, domestic opposition at the lower levels is not particularly high-quality.

However, we have struggled to sign senior, established players on a free this time — such players formed the core of our successful promotion campaigns last year. Instead, we’ve had a mix of players that were at the club when I arrived, youth academy graduates, and youth signed on a free.

My hope as we push into 2025 (and theoretically become more attractive to players as a second-tier club) is that we can start to tempt some of these players to the Tsentraluri. We led Liga 3 with 104 goals scored last year, but also conceded 49. We were the third-best defense in the league, but that obviously isn’t saying much. We need to sharpen up at the back in order to continue progressing.

Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t note that the inability to sign players has worked in my favor, too. When offers have arrived for the likes of Giorgi Gvazava — easily our best player — and Zurab Tubatadze, they’ve been negligible, at best — less than $1k in fee. While they might be upset, it passes and they’re more than willing to sign a new contract in due course. (Clubs have also been extremely dilatory in offering Bosman deals to players with expiring contracts. I suspect this is due to the dire state of finances at most clubs.)

January 2025 – Odds & Ends.

Expectations are low this year. The Board simply wants us to battle bravely against relegation.

I, for one, will not be limited by their short-sighted negativity. I’ve got a brand new flat, near the Tsentraluri, as well as a series of hand-stitched ascots in club colors. That’s right, we’re ready to kick things up a notch.

Two big free transfer signings early in the transfer window, both of whom will step directly into our 1st XI: (1) Giga Gabelia (Dinamo Zugdidi), who looks to be a solid player for this level, and will start as our right-sided centerback, with Nika Chkhartishvili dropping to the bench; and, (2) Zurab Asatiani (Chikura), who is an immediate, pacey upgrade on Giorgi Gureshidze at right inverted winger (Giorgi will drop to the bench, with Gagua going out on loan).

I have been unable to sign a new center midfielder, as our targets have opted for the glitz and glamor of the Erovnuli Liga. As a result, I’m pulling 2024 youth academy graduate Davit Abashidze into the first team. He’ll play from the bench as the primary backup for our central midfield, with

Ilia Kikava and Rezo Vardanidze also promote to fill out our 20-man squad, although both will see the field for the U21s and U19s. Giorgi Giorgadze will also continue to be a member of the squad while playing primarily for the youth teams.

February 2025.

The early predictions are in. Dila Gori are the overwhelming favorites to promote, with good reason. The media are predicting a last-place finish.

The good news? Our ticket prices have skyrocketed to an average of $7.88 per match, $52.81 for a season ticket. The big question being…will our season ticket numbers rise? They do. We’re up to 50 season ticket holders, an increase from last year’s 32.

We’ve also drawn Tori, a Liga 4 side, in the 1st Round of the Davit Kipiani Cup. The pre-season friendlies are in the bag, so there’s nothing to do now but dig in for the long battle ahead.

March 2025.

The first match of the campaign is an exercise in frustration, as we struggle to hit the back of the net and gift our opposition 2 goals. We complete the job, but it requires extra time. A 4-2 win that does not inspire much confidence. The highlight of the day? Asatiani scoring his first goal for the club after 27 seconds.

We will face Saburtalo’s reserves in the next round.

Perhaps the lads had a broader plan, to dampen expectations. Because the team that (eventually) labored to victory over Tori has caught fire. (Not literally. That would be unsafe, no matter what the fire marshal says.)

In our first 4 league matches, we secure 3 wins and 1 draw, including a 3-nil annihilation of Dila Gori. 11 goals for, only 3 against. It’s early doors. We cannot allow ourselves to think we’ve completed the job. We’ve barely even started.

April 2025.

We are relentless. The best attack in the Erovnuli Liga 2. The best defense. Not to mention the most stylish pre-match gear, inspired by 1940’s-era zoot suits.

If we keep playing like this, the media will have to give us our due credit.

For both our fashion sense and the football we’re producing on the pitch.

May 2025.

The wheels come off the clown car against Shevarendi, but we slap them back on with some duct tape and head back out onto the road.

The reality is that we’re in a rare vein of form. We need to keep this momentum going as long as possible. Especially when our opponents are taking turns shooting themselves in the foot.

I’m not a superstitious man. But I am a little stitious. So, nobody do anything… Uhh… Different. Ok?

June 2025 – European Review.

Let’s take a quick look around the Continent, to see how things are going in the active leagues…

In the Champions League, Hansi Flick’s Bayern beat Roger Schmidt’s Chelsea, 1-nil, leading to Schmidt being promptly sacked.

Savo Milosevic’s Schalke beat Marcelo Gallardo’s Athletic, 2-nil, in the Europa League. (Interestingly, Schalke narrowly escaped relegation, with a 6-3 (agg.) win over Fortuna Dusseldorf in the playoff.)

In the Europa Conference League, Arne Slot’s AZ beat Matias Almeyda’s Napoli, 3-1.

In the active leagues: Thomas Tuchel’s Barcelona won the La Liga title; Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United won their first Premier League title since 2012/13; Stephane Roche’s PS-****ing-G did PS-****ing-G things in Ligue 1; Andrea Pirlo’s Juventus won the Serie A title after finishing level on 95 points with Stefano Pioli’s AC Milan, with Antonio Conte’s Inter 3rd on 93 points, after both Milan teams drew on Matchday 38, to hand the title to Juventus); and Flick’s Bayern reclaimed the Bundesliga title from Dortmund.

June 2025.

If I could only use one word to describe the first 3 months of the Erovnuli Liga 2 season?

Abrupt chaos.

(I realize that’s two words. But why would I use one word when I can use two?)

The only thing that is consistent (aside from our form), is how inconsistent everyone else has been.

Dila Gori, the side that on paper should be annihilating everyone, sits 9th with 5 wins from 17 matches.

We’re 16 points clear of Merani Martvili in 2nd. After just 17 matches. Even more ridiculous, Merani Martvili is only 17 points clear of Saburtalo’s reserves, who are dead bottom.

WIT-Georgia? They sit 3rd. 21 points off the pace, a mere 12 points off the bottom.

We’re the only team with a goal difference better than +4.

The longer this continues, the less time other sides will have to catch us. It is way too early to get overconfident, but we could not have asked for a better start to the campaign, even if Shevardeni took advantage of our tired legs in the Cup to eliminate us in extra time.

In the midst of all this, we’ve been hard at work re-negotiating key contracts. Aleksandre is also quite pleased with himself (per usual), declaring that we have yet another golden generation coming through, although reading between the lines I’d say we may have one goalkeeper and one winger.

In other news, the Erovnuli Liga continues to slowly climb up the reputation charts, rising 3 spots to 88th. The Erovnuli Liga 2 also climbs three spots, to 124th.

(I’m trying out the Heffem skin, as you will note. I’ve edited in Wakey’s match stats panel to expand the in-game match stats, as you can see here. The Heffem post-match screen is much better than the default, in my opinion — one screen with key information, as opposed to hyper-focus on xG to the exclusion of all else. The competition overview and summary screens are also expanded; both are linked above.)

July 2025.

Looking at the table, Bakhmaro did the only reasonable thing: park the bus. And **** me, if it didn’t work. We lose 2-nil. But results elsewhere continue to go our way, meaning that this is but a blip on an otherwise outstanding month.

If anything, the table looks even more ridiculous now than it did a month ago. We’re the only team with a non-negative goal difference. Despite sitting rock-bottom, Saburtalo’s reserves are only 9 points off a spot in the promotion playoffs — a spot currently held by Gagra, who sit 3rd despite winning only 7 of their 21 matches to-date.

Luka is already planning the promotion party for the end of the campaign. I don’t have the heart to tell him he’s getting ahead of himself and tempting fate… The reality is that it would take an historical, catastrophic failure for us to not promote at this point.

I’d never be able to show myself in Kvareli again — which assumes, of course, that they’d let me leave in the first instance…

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After the transfer window closed, in which the primary highlight was Zestaponi making multiple $12k offers for Gvazava, I thought I should take a glance at the worldwide leading transfers, to-date.

That’s three players transferred for more than $200M — Martin Odegaard, Frenkie De Jong and Rodrygo.

Frenkie…I’d play him at libero on attack duty… I’d play him at libero so hard his head would spin.

August 2025.

I feel like I’m walking around town with the Rocky IV soundtrack playing in my head, on an endless loop.

Another month. Another series of matches where we put our opponents to the sword. Emphatically. (Just ignore that one match against Samgurali…which marked only the 2nd match this year when we’ve been kept off the scoresheet.)

In a clash with promotion-chasing WIT, we set yet another attendance record. Word is beginning to get around. Barring a truly epic, Keegan-esque collapse, we’re on our way to the Erovnuli Liga.

September 2025.

We claim the title in mid-September, with a 2-1 win away to Bakhmaro. With 7 matches to play.

In the same match, we set a new Erovnuli Liga 2 record for goals scored. Again, with 7 matches to play.

Earlier in the month, we’d set yet another attendance record, with 279 present for the dull, 1-1 draw with Shevardeni.

The dream is coming true. Thank urCristiano I only signed a one-year lease on my flat. Because we’re moving on up.

October 2025.

The youth intake is far from impressive, yet Aleksandre is brimming with self-satisfaction.

Ilia Gortamashvili, Shalva Revazishvili, Jaba Mindorashvili, and Lasha Kobaladze are the top players in the group, but none of them look to have anywhere near the potential ability to make the first-team squad.

I’ve seen enough. Alexsandre‘s contract will not be renewed. He is the first domino to fall. One of our primary tasks in 2026 will be to rejuvenate the backroom staff, to match a club of our ambitions.

Although I should be careful about broadcasting the latter, as takeover rumors are swirling again.

November 2025.

The campaign ends on a high note, with a big win over runners-up Merani Martvili. The only question was what the final statistical tallies would be.

The lads are gathering at Giglo’s for a celebration — something tells me that the crowd will be much larger than it has been in the past.

December 2025 – Season Review.

Perhaps the strangest league campaign I’ve ever witnessed. And I’ve played a lot of FIFA on the lowest difficulty setting.

We were tipped for relegation, and ended up running away with the title. Dila Gori were deemed the shoe-ins for promotion, destined to bounce straight back into the Erovnuli Liga… Instead, they were relegated through the playoffs.

This opportunity has come sooner than expected. We have a tremendous amount of work to do, as we prepare for our first campaign in the land of milk and honey… The Erovnuli Liga, where the wine flows like water, and the women are… I don’t really know how to finish that sentence.

I’m not particularly good at talking to women.

Or getting them to talk to me.

Perhaps my newfound celebrity will help, such as it is.

Goals for 2026:  Not embarrass ourselves in the Erovnuli Liga. Make a run in the Davit Kipiani Cup.

Squad | Erovnuli Liga 2 | Transfers

Finances | Income | Expenditure

God leaned over to the Devil, drew him close and declared, “those who will drink three glasses of chacha may be on my side. After that, they are yours.”

If you’ve stumbled upon this post and are finding yourself a bit confused, the basic concept behind Duruji Subsequent ThreadSave is explained here.  Just need to catch up? Each installment in Levan “Goose” Akhobadze’s attempt to take over the football world, starting from the Georgian Regional Leagues, can be accessed through the Duruji Subsequent ThreadSave Archive.

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