There Is No Spoon

Duruji Kvareli – 2043 Open Thread

December 2042 / January 2043 – Odds & Ends, Transfers.

We draw Julian Stephan’s Chelsea in the Champions League. The frauds sit 10th in the Premier League, and we torched them at this stage 2 years ago.

The 2042 award season arrives with Shaw suffering the side effects of his anti-malaria medication, ahead of his trip to Abidjan for the Cup of Nations. I would think he’s used to the vivid hallucinations, by now — just another Tuesday, thank you very much.

It’s Sizzurp for everyone, as Atle Hovring wins the Ballon d’Or and World Player of the Year, while also finishing as runner-up for World Footballer of the Year. It is the first time one of our players has earned this distinction.

Guga Iashvili is honored with the World Golden Glove and World Goalkeeper of the Year.

Iashvili and Hovring are also named to the World Team of the Year, which is otherwise filled with players from the “big” clubs we delight in beating. (This is the second straight year in which Hovring has earned this distinction.)

For the second straight year, Miguel “Katchip” Katchipwisayla earns numerous distinctions, including the Broadcaster’s African Footballer of the Year and African Footballer of the Year. He is also voted African Defender of the Year and to the African XI.

Arild Henrickson claims the Golden Boy — the second time it has been claimed by a Duruji Kvareli player, following Dariusz Sapa’s in 2040.

Jalal Hosseinpour is also named Asian Footballer of the Year for the 4th time in 5 years.

Ahead of our pre-season tour of the United States, we celebrate the long-planned arrival of Jair Adamo ($150k; Ferroviario de Beira). He needs time to develop as a mezzala, but our scouts saw tremendous promise in him.

We also welcome Luka Burnadze ($375k; Zestaponi). Luka appears to have the potential to reach the first team squad, but will play with the U21s for now.

The bad news? Freidgeimas has asked to move on. After all he has given for the club, I feel obligated to honor that request. He does not lack for suitors, with the likes of West Ham, Bordeaux and Marseille interested in acquiring his services. In the end, he agrees to move to Brescia for a modest fee.

The end of an era. Otar Jikia will take his place in the 2nd XI, with Giorgi Gelashvili playing from the bench with the 2nd XI.

Another source of disappointment? The Erovnuli Liga announces that, for the first time since television rights payments were issued, there is no year-on-year increase. Clubs will receive $66.27 million in 2043, exactly where it was in 2042 ($66.27 million).

With the imminent arrival of Dutch youth international Florian Joly in early March, we bid a fond adieu to Franck Kessie who joined us on a free transfer in 2035, after being on trial prior to his 18th birthday.

As one would expect, Joly is far less developed than Kessie at the moment, but in time could very much prove to be his equal. Kessie was a beloved player, but his contract was due to expire and his demands going forward were beyond what we were willing to pay for a 25 year-old backup.

Kessie‘s $51M fee is also a club and Georgian record.

A similar move is in the works on left flank.

Vladimir Danko will be allowed to leave after the signing of Demba Camara — a brilliant Guinean youth international who joins on a free, choosing us over Stade Reims. As much promise as Camara has, he needs minutes. He will see them with our 2nd XI.

In the end, Danko leaves for Marseille at the end of the window, with Saimir Shehu also leaving for Atletico. (Maxim Prokhorenko will replace Shehu in the 2nd XI.)

All told, it is a highly profitable window.

Of course, the usual transfer window muppetry was in full effect — led by none other than urCristiano himself, who tried to tap up Sergei Khasenov before sending a delegation to Kvareli, notwithstanding our firm “no.”

Shaw was dispatched to “negotiate” with urCristiano’s minions, over chacha at Giglo’s. I like to think his methods are effective.

February 2043 – Champions League, First Knockout Round (1st Leg).

Shaw‘s trip to Abidjan is an utter failure. While several managers are sacked, they are each immediately replaced by promotions from within.

It makes me question whether Shaw even went to the Cup of Nations in the first place. For all I know, he spent two weeks in Ibiza with Jack Grealish.

****. Now I wish I’d spent two weeks in Ibiza with Jack. Why didn’t I think of that earlier?

We romp through the pre-season, and task the 2nd XI with the first competitive fixture of the year — the GFF Super Cup against Dinamo Tbilisi.

The annual projections are released the evening before the match — while we are the heavy favorites to claim our 17th straight Erovnuli Liga title, the 1-25 odds are much narrower than the 1-91 odds that we saw in 2042 and in prior years, with Dinamo Tbilisi improving their odds marginally.

Once again, we place 10 players in the media’s pre-season Dream XI, with Dila Gori‘s Mikheil Vasadze the token non-Duruji Kvareli player of the year.

When reached for comment, the selection committee had some difficulty justifying the selection of Vasadze to the Dream XI.

Immediately following the 2nd XI’s 6-nil annihilation of Dinamo Tbilisi in the Super Cup, we head to the airport for our flight to the Big Smoke. London Town. Ol’ Blighty.

Keita Balde has recently taken over the struggling London club, after a brief interim period under the guidance of Axel Tuanzebe. Chelsea sit 8th in the Premier League, the Champions League being their last hope for a trophy.

The moment we step out off the bus at Stamford Bridge, Shaw spits on the ground in disgust. The stadium has been in disrepair for decades, the smell of urine all-too-strong. The Chelsea board keep promising that the long-promised renovation is just around the corner, “the timing isn’t right yet” — only to disappoint once again, in due course.

The Blues line up in a cowardly 4411, like the cowardly cowards they know themselves to be. Mestrovic is taken off late in the first half as a precaution having sustained a knock to his knee, but it is an otherwise quiet 45 minutes with the hosts refusing to come out of their defensive shell.

Panchev heads off the crossbar in the 49th minute — so close to breaking the deadlock. But in the first competitive fixture of the year for our 1st XI, it is apparent that we are somewhat rusty. The cobwebs in need of clearing.

A loose ball falls to Panchev in the 58th — he dutifully punches it home, only for VAR to rule it out. (It is truly shocking how, after more than 20 years of use in continental competition, VAR is still a shambles.)

A scoreless draw ensues.

We fly back to Kvareli shaking our heads at the cowardice of our opponents, mindful of how this tie played out 2 years ago — when we lit them up for 5 unanswered goals back at the Goose after a bland draw in London.

March 2043 – Champions League, 1st Knockout Round (2nd Leg).

Season ticket sales rise to 1,455, up from 1,102 in 2042. (Ticket prices rise modestly, to $47 per match and $367 per season ticket, up from to $44 and $341 in 2042.)

As previously noted, the final transfer arrival of the window is Florian Joly ($750k, not incl. future fees; PEC Zwolle), a speedy Dutch wingback who my scouts believe has immense potential and will step directly into our 2nd XI.

Joly arrives just in time to join the 2nd XI for a 7-nil stonking of Mertskhali. Shaw envisioned this as a “sink or swim” moment, but given the caliber of our opposition on the day the metaphor only works if you assume he was thrown into a half-empty kiddie pool.

We take a 96-match unbeaten streak into the Chelsea match at the Goose, dating back to our June 2041 loss to Atletico in the Club World Cup.

Hjaltason opens our account in the 35th. Chelsea have been predictably terrified of our prowess, prompting Shaw to wax philosophical. “Is it really a football match if only one team is trying to score, Boss?”

Mestrovic curls home an unstoppable free kick in the 43rd minute, which puts an end to the tie.

Chelsea are gutless for 180 minutes. Cowards to the final whistle.

Don’t get me wrong — I’m not mad.

I’m just disappointed.

“Now, you go have a long flight home and think about what you’ve done.”

We will face Teemu Pukki’s Stuttgart in the quarterfinals, after they eliminated Manchester City on away goals, with a 4-3 win at the Emptyhad featuring a 92nd minute winner from Timis “Timmy Timmy” Alexandru-Mihai, who rejected our advances more than a decade ago.

If we can maintain our nerve, we will have a chance to claim a 100th match without losing, away to ze Germans in early April.

For good measure, we finish off the month with a 5-nil win over Dinamo Tbilisi. The momentum is building.

Per usual, though, just when we are getting on a roll in the early stages of the year, we have to go our separate ways for the international break.

April 2043 – Champions League, Quarterfinals (1st Leg).

Away to ze Germans, we prepare for a reunion with Milosz Banach — our former libero, who left upon the arrival of Katchipwisayla. I am pleased to see him again, and for his success over the last year. But tonight, we must break him.

(Timis, on the other hand, was, is and will alway be a ****.)

The early stages are wide open. Parry and thrust. And then thrust again.

Henriksen — deputizing for the injured Hjaltason — breaks through the line in the 27th minute to bury a brilliant diagonal ball from Mestrovic, who spied Henriksen, Hovring and Panchev all beating ze German offside trap. 1-nil to the good guys.

Ze Germans, to their credit, refuse to bow down before us and immediately counterpunch, only to be denied by the woodwork.

The message at the half is simple. Straightforward. Two-fold.

More. Harder.

Hosseinpour replaces the tiring Henriksen on the hour mark, the match having fallen into a sullen lull. Olivera replaces Hovring minutes later, allowing Hosseinpour to push forward into the attacking midfield strata. With a little more than 20 minutes to play, we need to tighten our grip on the match and snatch a 2nd, if we can.

With 10 minutes to play, Kyei replaces Sapa. More steel in the heart of midfield. We’ve come close to finding that elusive 2nd goal, and need to remain wary of conceding in transition.

We cannot find that 2nd goal, but ze Germans are left holding on for dear life.

We will take a 1-nil lead back to Kvareli.

April 2043 – Champions League, Quarterfinals (2nd leg).

We welcome ze Germans to the Goose, undefeated in 101 matches in all competitions. If we only consider Erovnuli Liga matches, the tally is 300.

Hjaltason returns to the bench for the match; he will almost certainly see action.

Zhornikov gives Stuttgart a vital away goal in the 3rd minute, after Panchev nearly opened the scoring mere moments earlier.

Game on, fellas.

Munteanu strikes back in the 6th, firing the ball into the near post upper V like a Howitzer.

We immediately regain complete control of the match, but are struggling to find the goal to give us the lead we deserve. Unti the 34th minute, when Mbabu storms through the center like a man possessed, slamming the ball into the back of the net with authority. 2-1 on the night.

Ze Germans can feel the tie slipping away. They launch forward, relentless. Iashvili tips a shot off the post in the 40th minute. The halftime whistle is no relief. We are leaving the door ajar for our guests.

Shaw gives the halftime speech of his life. Half Alan Partridge, half Pep Guardiola. Whatever the alchemy, it works as we come out of the gates, guns blazing. Henrikson claims our 3rd in the 46th minute. Ze Germans’ hopes now hang by a thread.

Panchev hits the post in the 55th, with Sapa finding our 4th in the 62nd. Zornikov manages to pull one back on a rare foray forward, but at 4-2 the match is over.

We return to the semifinals, to face Thomas Tuchel’s Barcelona, who sit 15 points behind urCristiano’s Virus in La Liga.

Diego Simeone’s Liverpool will face the Virus in the other semifinal.

April 2043 – Champions League, Semifinals (1st Leg).

Kyei will deputize for the injured Mbabu at the Goose and Camp Nou, as our American-Congolese midfield maestro is in a race to be fit for the final…assuming we make it. Kyei is more steel than silk even if he is more than capable of doing a job in our midfield.

We kick off, attacking the west end — the renovations to which are nearly complete. A tifo depicting Shaw checking Tuchel‘s oil hangs across the scaffolding and, like a red flag in front of a bull, we attack with relish and look dangerous in the opening minutes, even if Katchipwisayla looks like he wants to murder someone.

We cannot capitalize. The match degenerates into a midfield battle, the Catalans showing far more spine than we would have expected from these tippy-tap, prancy-pants ****s. We nearly gift them a goal in transition in the 40th minute, but they do not have the testicular fortitude to challenge Iashvili directly.

Scoreless at the half. It is not good enough. I scream and shout, and the lads seem to perk up — even Boubaker, and there isn’t a chance in hell he’s stepping foot on the pitch.

Iashvili denies Robinson in the 66th minute — the closest either side has come all match. We need a spark. Henriksen will replace Hjaltason; Hosseinpour, Panchev.

With 15 minutes to play, the game is starting to open up as tired legs take effect. Olivera replaces Kyei. And in the 87th minute, the versatile Uruguayan makes his mark — getting into the box, before hitting an early, low cross to find Hovring at the near post. 1-nil. It has been anything but pretty, but it may just be enough.

The Catalans push forward. The inevitable happens. We punish them in transition, Hosseinpour feeding Sapa. The 2-nil scoreline is not undeserved, but the Catalans can rightly feel that it does not reflect the balance of play over the first 85 minutes.

For all their anguish, in the 93rd Katchipwisayla buries them. Another counterattack, this time finished off with a 25-yard bullet into the top corner, still rising as it hit the back of the net.

A savage, ruthless final 10 minutes to the match. One that would leave anyone bereft of hope. But the Catalans still surge forward.

And again, we punish them, an incisive, determined counterattack is finished off by Hovring. Tuchel lies prone in the technical area, face down, pounding the ground with one fist. His despair, understandable. Minutes away from a scoreless draw, they now find themselves 4 goals down. An impossible task before them at the Camp Nou.

A poignant example of the cruelty of sport, if ever there was one.

May 2043.

Distracted as we are by the Champions League, we nearly miss the news – Alexandre has quit the national team, to take over at Athletic Bilbao.

I promptly register my interest, much to the chagrin of the Board. In the end, can there be any question?

It is our destiny. A day we’ve dreamed of, for years.

Suffice to say that this changes everything.

There is work to be done. The Crusaders were relegated from the Nations League Division A, but have a favorable draw for the Euros. Expectations are low.

There are many familiar faces in the current, 23-man squad.

As a nation, Georgia sit 40th in the latest FIFA rankings — impressive enough for a nation with our footballing history and size.

But it is not good enough. Not by far.

This Champions League campaign will be the last for the current Duruji Kvareli squad. We will retain a full XI, to be backfilled over the summer transfer window — which opens in 6 short weeks — with as many promising, young Georgians as possible, no matter the cost. After all, we can afford it.

I’ve tasked Shaw with filling out the Crusaders’ backroom staff. His role with the national side will be informal — a “Minister Without Portfolio,” if you will.

His first task? To sort new kits for the Crusaders. He’s quite proud of himself, as he should be.

The Crusaders’ brilliant new kits, courtesy of @Wightyyy.

The rest of our plans must wait. We face the Catalans in 72 hours.

To be continued…

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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