Duruji Kvareli – 2033 Open Thread
December 2032 / January 2033 – Odds & Ends.
The tension is palpable for the Champions League draw, as we wait to learn our fate. We draw Hansi Flick’s Bayern Munich, the 8-time defending Bundesliga champions. ****.
While we knew this blow was coming, we were prepared for it.
In the blink of an eye, the financial woes plaguing most Erovnuli Liga clubs will be erased. For the moment, Dinamo Tbilisi is the only other fully-professional club in the league.
This will change everything.
Siyabonga Ntombela‘s arrival is a big moment. He is our first non-European player, who will immediately challenge Utsmuts for playing time and has the potential to take us to another level. He will begin the year with the 2nd XI, while also playing from the bench with the 1st XI.
Ghayas Vikskjold also arrives on the day we must register our squad for Europe. We’ll be out of the competition after 180 minutes (plus stoppage time), but no matter.
Even though our keeper coach doesn’t rate him (FFS, Lasha), Vikskjold will join Ntombela in the 2nd XI and on the bench for the 1st XI, eventually fighting it out with Bela for the starting libero role.
Aimilios “Amy” Nikolaou has also arrived, although too late to register for the Champions League. I’m planning to play in in our 2nd XI, with Tornike Skhirtladze going out on loan. Zurab remains our starter, but Skhirtlade is closer to him than I expected. My scouts and coaches all agree that Amy has the highest potential, though.
We are the clear favorites for the Erovnuli Liga title this year, and sponsorship income continues to increase across the board, even if its importance is diminished with the new TV deal.
The other big news is that the Board has — for the sixth straight year — agreed to expand the Tsentraluri. Although I expect the local council will block expansion — for the sixth straight year — we need to try.
As an aside, I am trying to expand instead of building a new stadium for two reasons.
First, I’ve always been of the opinion that, when seeking to build a new stadium, I want my attendances to be as high as possible, to set the “floor” for the new stadium’s capacity as high as possible.
Second, and most importantly, stadium expansion capacity may have a dynamic component now. I had always been under the impression that this was a fixed number. However, based on this comment on the forums, I decided to check the Tsentraluri’s expansion capacity at the start of the save. It was 5k. Two years ago, it was 11k. It is now 12.5k. To be clear, I have not touched this with the editor. And it could just be a quirk of using an editor file. It is intriguing, to say the least
(For the sake of comparison, on the FM20 version of the save, the Board agreed in 2028 to expand the Tsentraluri to a capacity of 955 (from the original 750), but cancelled the expansion in early 2029, to build a new stadium. In the end, the new stadium was a 5,750 all-seater.)
February 2033 – Champions League, First Knockout Round (First Leg).
A massive crowd comes out to greet ze Germans in Tbilisi on a cold, snowy night. But their enthusiasm is tempered when Flick’s men snatch the first goal in the 4th minute…and another in the 7th.
We hit the post in the 10th and are finding chances, but we cannot put the ball past Saba Kemoklidze, the Bavarians’ world-class French-Georgian dual national goalkeeper.
When Fecunda heads home the 3rd goal of the night in the 25th, not even the most delusional Duruji Kvareli supporter will tell you we have a chance…only for Bela to immediately pull one back, overturned by VAR.
Ze Germans hit their 4th in the 38th minute. In all fairness, they’ve been ruthless in taking their chances.
Freidmeigas grabs one in the 44th after some slick passing — almost certainly a novelty. A glimmer of joy, if not a promise of hope.
It is not our shining hour, but it is also not the disaster it initially seemed like it would. A 4-2 loss to ze Germans is not the end of the world even if it is not what we wanted.
Ticket sales are through the roof, with 420 season ticket holders signed up this year (up from 367 last year). Single-match tickets average $25 per match, while season tickets cost $167.
Now, the real work begins.
March 2033 – Champions League, First Knockout Round (2nd Leg).
Ze Germans come flying out of the blocks again, taking a 2-nil lead on the night within the first 4 minutes.
But it isn’t all embarrassment. In first-half injury time, Ivkovic flicks a long throw in on to Freidgeimas, who is unmarked at the back post. 2-1.
A brilliant interception from Oniani leads to a lightning-fast counterattack, with Ntombela deftly chipping over the onrushing Kemoklidze.
Ze Germans find the winner in the 90th minute, with an unstoppable free kick from 20 yards. A 3-2 loss in Germany is no small feat. I will take it. We leave with our honor intact.
We collect another $11.18 million in prize money for our efforts in reaching the knockout rounds, and will now enjoy a 4-month break from European play, before entering the qualifying rounds. A chance to rest up, and forge strong bonds with our new signings. A chance to continue staining our blades with the blood of our foes, domestically.
7 matches. 28 goals for. None against.
Our latest round of training and youth facility upgrades are complete. We are not finished, but we are close to having academy facilities that will rival any in Europe.
We need it to start generating prospects. Our domestic dominance has long-since been established and we need to turn our attention to conquering Europe, hopefully with truly homegrown prospects.
The cash infusion from the new TV deal has meant that every Erovnuli Liga club has made a substantial profit this year (in excess of $3 million profit, each, through the first 5 months of the year). So, while keeping our eyes on Europe, we can’t ignore the fact that our domestic rivals will begin working to catch up.
After all, we are humiliating them right now. They will be in search of revenge. The higher your climb, the harder you fall.
June 2033 – European Review.
It’s time for our annual review of the active leagues and continental competitions…so let’s dive right in.
In the Champions League, Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid beat Roget Schmidt’s Manchester City, 3-nil.
Erol Bulut’s Hoffenheim beat Diego Simeone’s Atletico on penalties, after a 2-2 draw, in the Europa League.
In the Europa Conference League, Steven Gerrard’s Liverpool beat Nils Drube’s Schalke, 2-1.
In the active leagues, Tuchel’s Barcelona defended their La Liga title; Pochettino’s Manchester United won their 3rd straight Premier League title (the 7th year in a row that the title has stayed in Manchester); Patrick Vieira’s PS-****ing-G reclaimed the Ligue 1 title; Andrea Pirlo’s Juventus won their first Serie A title since 2024/25; and, Hansi Flick’s Bayern did Bayern things again.
In addition to claiming an additional $7.42 million and $5.21 million from the UEFA mafia, the Erovnuli Liga rises to 39th in the UEFA competitions rankings, leaving the Superettan in our dust while closing in on the second divisions in several major European nations.
Duruji Kvareli rise to 36th in the club rankings, as we steadily close in on mid-tier clubs in the major leagues.
June is always a quiet time in the fixture calendar. Often a much-needed respite, this year’s calendar has been relatively open as a result of our exit at the hands of ze Germans.
Looking ahead, Omar sends word about the next graduating class. It appears promising at this point, with perhaps 2 quality players — a midfielder and a forward. The Board begrudgingly agree to further investment in our youth and training facilities, but it takes several stern conversations to swing them around to my point of view.
I can’t blame them for wanting to see some tangible results, but the reality is that we have to invest to see those results.
Speaking of results, we are again perfect in our 3 matches, late in the month. Our opponents are sitting deep, with nary an attempt to actually win the match. Which is a fair response to the strength of our squad, I suppose. Our eyes are firmly fixed on Europe, anyways, with the Champions League Second Qualifying round now visible on the horizon.
July 2033 – Champions League, Second Qualifying Round.
Early in the month, I come to accept what I’ve known for some time. It is time for Murman Lezhava and Nukri Gordulava to move on. Lezhava’s contract expires at the end of the campaign; Gordulava’s contract, at the end of 2034. Neither will be offered new terms. Neither is good enough. My focus thus turned to signing replacements to arrive in the summer transfer window (which closed July 16th) or in the winter.
We aimed high. And we missed, with our targets opting to play in more prestigious leagues. No hard feelings, Timis. If you don’t want to be here, we don’t want you. Simple as that. And we have other options. Just remember that my love for you will still be strong, after the boys of summer have gone.
My apologies, Timis…Don Henley was on the Tbilisi classic rock station this morning (KRSH 97.3 FM, aka “the Mountain”). You know how it is.
We also decide early in the window to let Aimilios “Amy” Nikolauo go out on loan again — after spending several months back in Cyprus, he is still our third-choice keeper, and we will not have enough games to ensure his development. My hope is that when he returns to the club next year, this exposure to first-team football will stand him in good stead.
In the Second Qualifying Round, we will face North Macedonian champions, Shkendija, who eliminated Slovenian champios Aluminij on penalties. The tie over after 3 minutes and 19 seconds, when we take a 2-goal lead in Tetovo, with Utsmuts and Ivkovic trying to see who can rip the net from the goalposts.
Complacency eventually set in, but not before it was 7-nil at the halftime whistle. It finishes 10-nil, with hat tricks for Ivkovic and Freidgeimas (who also had 4 assists), and Oniani claiming 5 assists. The only negative being that we lose Hjaltason for up to three weeks, with a calf injury.
In the second leg, we earn a penalty in the 4th minute, which Utsmuts buries with the fury of a thousand suns. It sets the tone, even if our finishing is poor. Up only 4-nil on the night, at halftime I feel compelled to remind the lads that we should shoot where the goalkeeper isn’t. This instruction appears to result in some confusion, however, as now our shots are all flying high or wide…or both.
The final result is 6-nil on the night (16-nil on aggregate), so it is hard to even feign anger in the locker room. We will face Irish champions Dundalk in the Third Qualifying Round, after they eliminate Sarajevo, 4-1 on aggregate.
August 2033 – Champions League Qualifying, Third Round.
In direct contrast to the matches against Shkendija, we start slowly at Oriel Park. An onslaught ensues in the 2nd half, however, leading to a 4-nil 1st leg win. A 5-nil win back in Lanchkhuti, our temporary home, sees us through to the final qualifying round.
We will face Swedish champions, Malmo, who mastered BATE on away goals. We will be heavily favored to avenge our Europa Conference League Group Stage losses in 2029, but cannot look past the Swedes.
August 2033 – Champions League, Qualifying Playoffs.
With our focus squarely on European qualifying, we take our eyes off the ball domestically. The 2nd XI fall 2-1 to Lokomotivi — ending an unbeaten run of 52 matches in the Erovnuli Liga.
We unleash our frustrations on Malmo, several days later in Tbilisi — Freidgeimas claiming four goals in the first half alone, the first after a mere 40 seconds. We punish the Swedes for Lokomotivi’s transgressions in an 8-1 mauling, a ruthless display of finishing prowess which leaves the return leg a mere formality.
With the news that Timis “And The Lords Of The Underworld” Alexandru-Mihai has gone on loan to Valencia (after signing for Monaco), I realize that to take the next step in Europe we will need to bite the bullet. While we would not dream of matching the wages offered to young Timis, we need to invest more in the transfer market — not break the bank, so to speak, but loosen the purse strings a bit.
The return leg is Malmo is unremarkable in all respects. A professional 3-1 win which sees us return to the Group Stage.
We draw Thomas Tuchel’s Barcelona, Sergio Conceicao’s Arsenal, and Dinamo.
As much as we are aiming for a return to the knockout rounds, that may be a bridge too far. (And, just between us, I wouldn’t lose sleep over a spot in the Europa League knockout rounds, where we could conceivably make a run.)
Kicking off the Group Stage with a trip to London is no laughing matter, but we can hold our heads high after a 4-2 loss. We’ve narrowed the gap on the traditional European powers.
As if to emphasize the point, the 2nd XI secure our 7th straight Erovnuli Liga title with a thoroughly-professional 3-nil win over Saburtalo.
A further demonstration of our growth comes in Tbilisi, where we put on a show against the Catalans in front of a record 22, 114 crowd (generating record gate receipts of $725k). Tuchel’s Barcelona are the better side, but we know who the moral victors are after wide-open affair ends with a narrow 4-3 loss. It was also an opportunity to reconnect with Gvantsa, who was in attendance for the spectacle.
Alas, neither moral victories nor illicit affairs put points on the board. Which is a shame, because… I’ve said too much.
We sit 3rd in the Group on goal difference. Our matches against Dinamo will determine passage through to the knockout rounds — not just whether we progress, but which competition we are in the running for (assuming we rise to the moment against the Croatians, that is).
Our scouting and recruitment efforts are also kicking into overdrive — before we break the million dollar barrier (for players, the annual grapefruit budget having long since entered 7 figures) we need to ensure that the money is spent wisely. With that frame of mind, our annual youth intake looks more promising than originally expected.
The leading prospects are Goga Tabukashvili, Gela “Diggy” Dighmelashvili, and Pavle Dartismelia, although Aleksandre Titvinidze and Gogita Japaridze have some modest potential. Only time will tell if these players can make a difference, but they will each be given an opportunity.
In looking to reinforce the squad, my priorities over the last few months have been securing a mezzala and an inverted winger to replace Lezhava and Gurdolava.
After months of working to destabilize him, we’ve secured Dila Gori’s brightest academy prospect, Norwergian-born Marius Dahlen ($60k). After the ink was dry, they tried to claim that a zero was missing in the contract, but the documents speak for themselves.
Once we decided to break the million-dollar barrier, we knew that the signing had to be a “big” one. A meaningful signing that no one could complain about.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean to suggest that we actually accomplished that.
We initially considered Polish U20 international Miroslaw Libicki ($3.4M, Lech) as a mezzala, but immediately noticed his pace…and his ability to play with both feet. His positional sense is also lower than I would like for a central midfielder. But no matter. He will deploy as the left-sided inverted winger in our 2nd XI, after his arrival on his 18th birthday in February 2034.
It is a massive investment, especially when one considers that we’ve spent a grand total of $2.3M on transfer fees in the last 11 years, and this fee is more than three times the fee we paid for Ghayas Vikskjold earlier this year. Miroslaw will have a lot to answer for if he cannot live up to the expectations that are being set for him.
Matchday 3 against the Croatians in Tbilisi is a must-win. The match is balanced on the knife’s edge, bhe ut we prevail 3-1 thanks to two second-half goals, the latter of which does not arrive until the 93rd minute.
Per usual, the last few weeks of the campaign are shaping up to be epic. And, of all possible times, takeover rumors begin to swirl, as if we needed the distraction.
Matchday 4 sees us travel to Croatia, for a match that could guarantee a 3rd place finish, if we can snatch all 3 points. Hjaltason finds the back of the net in the 4th minute, but it is waived off by VAR.
In the 24th minute, however, Hjaltason pounces on a loose ball after a prolonged goal-mouth struggle, punching it home from close range. 1-nil. Freidmeigas beats Ivancic at his near post in the 39th to make it 2-nil, and we have one foot in the knockout rounds. Mere minutes later, and Hjaltason is free in the channel, smashing it past Ivancic to put an end to any hopes of a comeback. While there may have been some residual hope at 3-nil, the Croatians are dead and buried in the Can Breat when Freidmeigas makes it 4 in the 45th minute.
Dinamo show signs of life in the 2nd half, but we still run out 6-2 winners on the night. With Arsenal and Barcelona drawing on Matchdays 3 and 4, we are still in with a shout for the Champions League knockout rounds.
Mathematically. The practical realities are much more daunting.
Unless we can beat Arsenal in Tbilisi, we will need to win at the Camp Nou. And, either way, we would need some help from Dinamo…
…but we cannot overcome Arsenal, losing 3-1, and the Catalans annihilate Dinamo. Accordingly, we drop into the Europa League knockout rounds. As much as we wanted to progress, it simply was not in the cards.
The league campaign concludes with a one-sided 1-nil win away to Dinamo Batumi, with only the Davit Kipiani Cup final and a trip to Catalonia left.
We do not less this distract us from the task at hand, and annihilate Dinamo Tbilisi, 5-nil, to claim our 4th Davit Kipiani Cup.
Following the match, the Board institutes a transfer embargo as rumors fly that local mafioso Giorgi Rukhaia is the potential buyer.
The flight home is quiet, as we contemplate an uncertain, shortened holiday season, with the Europa League draw in a few days’ time and the prospect of an imminent takeover at the hands of a rather unsavory character, well known to be behind the season ticket racket (such as it is) at the club, amongst many other things.
December 2033 – Season Review.
With the imminent retirement of our Chairman and pending takeover, the inevitable happens. The local council block — for the sixth straight year — any expansion of Tsentraluri. We’ve repeatedly proposed plans that would allow for expansion, while retaining the unique nature and character of the Fortress — akin to the plans Chelsea once proposed for the renovation of Battersea Station.
But the politicians will not listen. We may be forced to pursue permitting for a new stadium instead.
We aspire to be more than a novelty act. To disrupt the established order in European football. To become one of the continental powers, a force to be reckoned with.
It is hard to do that when your home stadium has a standing-room-only capacity of 750.
Assuming the takeover goes through, we will need to discuss this at length with our new Chairman. One would have to think that — if his rumored mafia connections are, in fact, accurate — Rukhaia will see an opportunity for graft in renovating the Tsentraluri or building a new stadium from scratch.
The last thing we need right now is the winter break. I’d much rather have the distraction of training and matches. It is only two months until the Europa League knockout rounds will resume. I know it will pass quickly, but it still feels like an eternity, especially given the furor at the end of this record-setting campaign.
We set the high-water mark in the Erovnuli Liga for points (103), wins (34), and goals scored (137), as well as conceding the fewest goals in a season (14). We set records for matches won in a row (36, covering 2032-33), matches without losing (52, 2032-33), and matches without conceding (8).
Club player of the year Valdas Freidmeigas notched 34 goals and 32 assists, averaging an absurd 8.22 key passes per match. (On the other end of the spectrum, Siyabonga Ntombela had a disappointing return of only 12 goals and 9 assists. It is his first year in the system, but this is not acceptable for a player of his talent.)
An epic year, filled with promise for tomorrow.
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.