FIFA 19: Career Mode – AFC Bournemouth – Cook on Fire!

We commenced November with a 1-1 draw at home to Manchester Utd. Despite Jeremiah St. Juste conceding possession that led to us falling behind, Lewis Cook was outstanding in midfield and Dominic Solanke equalised to make it two goals in two games for the rejuvenated frontman.

St. Juste should’ve scored his first goal for the club at Newcastle United but dragged his shot wide. Having travelled from one end of the country to the other however, at least we claimed a point for the 0-0 snoozefest.

At home to Arsenal we made it four draws in a row with Dan Gosling finishing an excellent move involving Solanke and Moses Simon. The result (1-1) meant that we were unbeaten in nine matches but we couldn’t make it ten when up Manchester City. We were a little off the pace in Lancashire but where the first-half injury time that Bernardo Silva scored in came from remains unclear. Marcus Ingvartsen did at least score a consolation goal, his first in English football.

At home to Huddersfield Town should’ve been a great opportunity to get back to winning ways but a confidence shorn Giovanni Simeone missed two guilt edge chances. Then against Liverpool we fell behind when goalkeeper Asmir Begovic could possibly have done better, the only blight on an excellent season for the Bosnian so far. In-form Lewis Cook equalised but Dominic Solanke really should’ve won us the match against his former employers.

We soon got back to winning ways, producing our most comprehensive victory of the season by beating Wolves 3-0 in their own backyard. The insatiable Cook scored the first, Jordon Ibe registered his first goal of the season and Solanke ended a little drought via the penalty spot. Unfortunately we then got trounced by the same score line in our own backyard by Brighton. The Seagulls thoroughly deserved their 3-0 win in what was by far our worst display of the campaign. Having lost only one of our previous thirteen matches it was a shame to lose two on the trot around Christmas. We actually took the lead away to Tottenham Hotspur with Simeone finally opening his account. Son Heung-Min levelled immediately however and we went on to lose 2-1 when we really should’ve done better.

At the halfway stage of the campaign (Played 19) we sit in 16th place with 20 points. Josh King is our top scorer with four goals but has gone of the boil recently. New signings Moses Simon, Jorge Mere and Jeremiah St. Juste are first team regulars whilst Simeone and Ingvartsen have started to make an impression. Youngster Matty Cash has struggled to make an impact when given the opportunity though. Competition for places across the midfield is intense and though we have decent depth to our squad will seek to recruit a couple of additions during the January transfer window. First though, it’s a trip to Old Trafford!

One to Watch: #6) Alireza Jahanbakhsh

Alireza Jahanbakhsh isn’t the first player to have scored goals in the Netherlands but then struggled to make an impact in the English Premier League. The likes of Afonso Alves and Mateja Kezman spring to mind. The quality of goals scored by the 26-year-old Iranian in the Eredivisie and glimpses of his undoubted quality that were displayed in the Premier League prior to lockdown, hint that Jahanbakhsh’s best could be yet to come for Brighton fans.

The Jirandeh-born player was hardly prolific in his homeland (0 goals in 12 apps for Damesh Tehran/10 in 44 for Damash Gilan) but really kicked on when he arrived in the Netherlands. 17 goals in 55 league appearances for NEC Breda caught the attention of AZ Alkmaar where he went on to score 34 goals in 85 league outings. During his time on Dutch shores Jahanbakhsh was recognised for his performances with a number of awards and was Eredivisie top scorer in the 2017-18 campaign with 21 goals as well as contributing a chunky 12 assists.

Adapting to life in England seems to have been difficult for the 50-cap Iranian but it’s clear that Brighton managers Chris Hughton and Graeme Potter haven’t made the most of his ability. There appears to be a lack of clarity around what Jahanbakhsh’s ideal role in the team is. His goal-scoring exploits in the Netherlands are the sort that you’d expect from an out and out striker but he’d starred as a winger which is where he’s tended to play for Brighton though often only fleetingly from the bench. Jahanbakhsh finally ended his goal drought by netting against Bournemouth before winning Goal of the Month for a spectacular overhead kick against Chelsea. As mentioned earlier, translating goalscoring feats from Dutch football to the English Premier League has a history of being a difficult task but the quality of goals produced by Jahanbakhsh both on the continent and in England have been the result of a high calibre of technical ability. Take a look for yourself…

In interviews Jahanbakhsh comes across as an amiable and relatable young man, one clearly admired by Brighton fans who know that talent lies within. In what is set to be a pivotal time in the history of Brighton & Hove Albion as they battle to stay in the Premier League, manager Graeme Potter would be well served to back Jahanbakhsh’s ability rather than leave him on the bench whilst sticking to some more conservative options. As with many attacking players, Jahanbakhsh may hope that the increase in substitutions allowed for the rest of the 2019-20 campaign will provide him with extra opportunities to contribute.

Still only 26 and with plenty of experience, good and bad, not to mention those fifty international caps that include six World Cup appearances, it’ll be interesting to see what the future holds for such a talented player. Will he help keep Brighton in the top flight or continue to be a spare part? If they do get relegated then will he stay and fire The Seagulls back into the Premier League or possibly return to the Netherlands… or seek pastures new?

The quality is there and I sincerely hope that Brighton use it to maximum effect in the coming weeks!

FIFA 19: Career Mode – AFC Bournemouth – Onwards in Autumn!

September started with another defeat, this time at the hands of Chelsea. We were actually on top for the first twenty minutes but captain Simon Cook conceded a penalty to undo the good work. In the second half we fell further behind courtesy of another set-piece, this time a free-kick from Willian. Losing our discipline had cost us and Chelsea added a late third to make the score even more emphatic. Then came the moment that we’d been waiting for…

We were the better side at home to Leicester City but were indebted to our goalkeeper Asmir Begovic. The Bosnian shot-stopper made an excellent save when the score was still 0-0. Shortly before half-time £21.8m signing Moses Simon rid himself of the demons of his difficult debut on the opening day, brushed aside his frustration at been substituted at half-time against Chelsea and put us on course for our first win of the campaign. The Nigerian cut in from the left and unleashed an excellent right-footed strike into the top corner. In the second half we kept The Foxes at bay with Jorge Mere (Brought into the side at the expense of the struggling Ake) resolute alongside Cook and co. It was a crucial and fully deserved three points and a result that lifted a heavy weight from our buckling shoulders.

Having tasted success for the first time we were hungry for more and so filled our stomachs at Burnley. Josh King rounded off a superb team move to provide us with a deserved first half lead at Turf Moor. The Norwegian then tucked away a second half penalty after Simon had been tripped to make it back-to-back wins and lift us out of the relegation zone.

In our next match against Crystal Palace in-form Simon got on the end of an excellent cross from Jordon Ibe to volley home with his left boot after just five minutes. The £21.8m signing from Levante was really starting to make an impact in the Premier League after a difficult start. We looked on course to make it a hat-trick of wins but Lewis Cook was caught in possession which led to the conceding of a second half equaliser. Still, three games unbeaten was much improved from our sluggish start.

We then went in search of revenge for our cup exit against Watford and looked set to achieve it courtesy of a King penalty. However, after Dan Gosling missed a great chance when played through with only goalkeeper Ben Foster to beat, Watford equalised in injury time following a goal mouth scramble.

Next up it was a tasty south coast derby against bitter rivals Southampton. Unfortunately Moses Simon’s good run came to an end when he blazed over the bar from just inches out following excellent work from Dominic Solanke. It was almost a carbon copy of Simon’s opening day howler and looked set to be costly. Having conceded a late goal in our previous match however, this time it would be our turn to score late (88mins) courtesy of the aforementioned Solanke. Restored to the starting XI at the expense of goal shy big money signing Giovanni Simeone, Solanke hit the back of the net with conviction following a strong spell of possession. Our third win of the season meant that we were back to winning ways, unbeaten in five matches and had ascended to 13th in the table.

Having rediscovered how to win we fell behind for the first time in over a month at Fulham. Fortunately top scorer King equalised after excellent work from David Brooks. The goal took King’s tally to four for the season and our unbeaten streak up to six matches having lost our first four. As we entered November we’d climbed into the top ten with Manchester United up next.

FIFA 19: Career Mode – AFC Bournemouth – Abysmal August!

We commenced the season with a frustrating 2-0 loss at home to newly promoted Cardiff City. With the game still goalless £21.8m new signing Moses Simon struck tamely at the goalkeeper when clean through on goal. After we fell behind the Nigerian then contrived to hit the crossbar when presented with an open goal. A Nathan Ake error saw us fall 2-0 behind and so it finished.

Centre-back Jorge Mere and striker Giovanni Simeone joined the club before we lost by a single goal at West Ham United. We paid the price for failing to clear a corner.

We then lost 1-0 at home to Everton in the league before succumbing to Watford (2-0) in the League Cup. Debutant goalkeeper Luca Vigouroux endured a horrific debut against The Hornets. Watford’s first goal was the result of a limp goal kick from the new recruit before the 24-year-old flapped at a free kick/cross that resulted in the second goal.

We so easily could have been 1-0 up or at least level at 1-1 on the opening day. Since then we’ve rarely looked like scoring and need to get off the mark soon otherwise my job will be under serious threat!

FIFA 19: Career Mode – AFC Bournemouth – Comings and Goings

On the eve of the new campaign and the club’s first competitive match under my stewardship, I wanted to keep you fully abreast of the transfer dealings (Both in and out) that have occurred during the summer months.

Firstly, the following players have left the Vitality Stadium:

Junior Stanislas, LM, Watford, £6.7m

Lys Mousset, ST, Real Valladolid, £2.3m

Artur Boruc, GK, Fortuna Düsseldorf, £450k

Callum Wilson, ST, Liverpool, £17.3m

Simon Francis, CB, Angers, £2.75m

On behalf of everybody connected with AFC Bournemouth, I’d like to place on record our gratitude for their contribution. We wish them all the very best for the future.

The below players have left the club on loan for the season:

Jack Simpson, CB, Internacional

I’m absolutely delighted to announce that the following players have been recruited to the playing staff for the 2019-20 season:

Jeremiah St Juste, RB, Feyenoord, £6.1m

Moses Simon, LM, UD Levante, £21.8m

Marcus Ingvartsen, ST, KAA Gent, £2.75m

Luca Vigouroux, GK, Free Agent, N/A

Matty Cash, LM, Nottingham Forest, £8.5m

I’m sure that you will all join me in welcoming the above players to the club and share my enthusiasm for seeing what they can bring to our team. I’d like to thank the board for making these signings possible. Please note that the club remain in negotiations with a number of other players.

Let the season begin!

FIFA 19: Career Mode – AFC Bournemouth – Managerial Appointment!

I’m absolutely delighted to announce that I’ve been appointed as manager of AFC Bournemouth ahead of the upcoming 2019-20 season.

Whilst I appreciate that fans may have some reservations about my appointment provided my lack of experience, I thoroughly believe that I possess the skill set to help take AFC Bournemouth to the next level. I’d like to be absolutely clear that I have not assumed this role to be content with finishing seventeenth and simply preserving the club’s Premier League status. My ambition and one that is shared by the club hierachy is to establish ourselves as one of the country’s elite clubs, to compete for silverware as well as in European competition. Whilst money will be spent to compliment the current squad, we intend to achieve our aim whilst maintaining the club’s integrity. We will not simply buy the league. I have already identified transfer targets and am delighted that the board have provided their backing for me to go out and acquire suitable players who will strengthen the squad. We are not required to sell any of our prize assets in order to fund new signings.

I’d like to place on record my gratitude to everybody at AFC Bournemouth for this opportunity. My predecessor Eddie Howe more than laid the foundations for success for this club and I look forward with immense optimism to sharing this journey with you as we aim to make bold strides in the years to come.

Disclaimer: I’ve just bought FIFA 19 (Old version I know!) extremely cheap on eBay and rather randomly selected Bournemouth as my team. For the record, I play on PS4 (World Class) and haven’t played FIFA for a few years.

Simon the Fans’ Favourite!

Moses Simon has been recognised by FC Nantes fans by being awarded the Player of the Season award for the 2019-20 campaign. Simon said “I dedicate this moment to by beloved wife…”.

The Nigerian born Levante loanee contributed 8 goals and 5 assists in 28 appearances across league and cup competitions before Ligue 1 reached its premature conclusion. Simon has made such an impression that Les Canaris are set to sign him permanently… for a bargain €5m!

Nantes fans (Myself included!) will hope that Simon can repeat his impressive form next season and help push the club towards the upper echelons of the table and into Europe.

Allez Les Canaris!

One to Watch: #5) Ronaldo Vieira

With a name like Ronaldo Vieira you kind of have to make an impression. 21-year-old Guinea Bissau born Vieira did just that during his time at Leeds United so it was a surprise to many when the Elland Road club let him leave Yorkshire and join Serie A side Sampdoria. Well, if they were good enough for David Platt and Danny Dichio… and Lee Sharpe… and Des Walker, then they must be for Vieira! But could the youngster be on his way back to England?

As a child Vieira moved with his family from Africa to Portugal where he would join the ranks at Benfica. Before breaking into the first team (He was only seventeen to be fair!), he set sail again and would spend three years at Leeds United. The tenacious but composed midfielder racked up 63 league appearances for The Whites but with the Elland Road outfit desperate for cash they accepted a bid from Genoa based Sampdoria. The fee is believed to have been around £7million.

After a slow start to life in Italy Vieira has progressed in his second season. To date he’s appeared 21 times in the league this campaign with only four of those coming from the bench. He has however clocked up a whopping eight yellow cards in those appearances! Vieira has made 34 league appearances in total during his time in Italy and will hope to add to that tally should the season resume. Sampdoria are by no means safe from relegation should the season start again and in January there was interest from Premier League sides. Burnley were mentioned but it was West Ham United who displayed the firmest interest. The Hammers offered in the region of £12million but Sampdoria insisted on holding out for £17million. Will they still hold out for such a larger return on investment post Coronavirus Lockdown?

Eligible to represent Guinea Bissau, Portugal and England, Vieira is capped at under-20 and under-21 level for England and has made no secret of his desire not only to play for his adopted country at full international level… but to win the World Cup! “The desire to win the World Cup is always there” stated Vieira in an interview. Well, with a name like his you’ve got to aim high but is the sky the limit or is it just the top of the nearest tree!

Ronaldo’s twin brother Romario remains on the books of Leeds United but is yet to make a first team outing. That hasn’t stopped him being capped by Guinea Bissau mind. Whether or not there’s another brother called Bebeto hiding somewhere remains unknown!

Where will Ronaldo Vieira be in a year or two? Floundering at the foot of Serie A or worse, anonymously ploughing away in Serie B? Back in England tearing it up in the Premier League and breaking into the England ranks? On loan in the Championship or the Scottish Premier League, or to be found making fleeting appearances for Qararbag, APOEL or Midtjylland?

Left Back Footy will let you know in due course. Hopefully we’ll have something to celebrate for a player who remains well liked by Leeds United fans. Could he rejoin them in the Premier League?!

One to Watch: #4) Ayoze Perez

Ayoze Perez is unlikely to be an unfamiliar name to avid football followers. The Tenerife born Spaniard appeared 179 times for Newcastle United in the Premier League before joining Leicester City last summer. Perez is easily dismissed as a decent player but a striker who doesn’t quite score enough goals. To do so though is unjust and Perez should yet have plenty to offer.

Versatile Perez netted 11 goals in 35 games for Tenerife B before finding the back of the net on 17 occasions in 50 outings for the first team. There was talk of big Spanish clubs pursuing Perez but he opted to head to the north of England and join Newcastle United. His returns at St. James’ Park shouldn’t be scoffed at. Having joined as a still raw 21-year-old, Perez contributed 42 goals in 179 league games for The Magpies, finishing with a particular flourish to earn a chunky £30,000,000 move to Leicester City. Said goal output on Tyneside equates to one goal almost every four games. This was despite often being played out of position. It’s that habit of being played out of position that compromises Perez’s appeal and star quality.

Since joining Leicester City Perez has scored seven goals in 21 PL starts as well as contributing four assists. That’s a goal every three league outings complimented by an assist every four. This is despite having to settle for a role out wide most of the time. Perez has demonstrated his finishing ability at Premier League level but is often left to do donkey work near the halfway line. Perez grafts hard in midfield tussles and defensive duties but his skill would be better suited further up the field around and in the penalty area. Of course Jamie Vardy is still going strong up front for The Foxes whilst the much lauded likes of James Maddison and Harvey Barnes have flourished in attacking midfield roles. Add to that players such as Demarai Gray and Kelechi Iheanacho competing for forward roles as well as Adam Lallana being strongly linked to the King Power Stadium, means Perez could be resigned to his part-time midfield role for some time yet. To accommodate Gray in particular, Perez is often hauled off between the 60th and 70th minute thus robbing him of a full opportunity to contribute. If The Foxes qualify for the Champions League and with Vardy known to sustain the odd injury niggle, there could be extra opportunity for Perez to play as the most advanced attacking player. Because of Perez’s current on-field obligations he can been seen to be a bit of a peak and troughs player, often grafting for an hour before being hauled off in a couple of games before contributing a goal and assist in the next. Should Perez put in a shift and create/score goals against a Spanish side then, still aged only twenty-six, his stock should rise somewhat.

Despite being capped at Under-21 level, full international recognition may be a little far fetched but Perez is definitely a far better player than some would give him credit for. If he can find a way to regularly play the full ninety minutes and contribute in the final third a tad more often then he really could be pushing twenty goals per season. Brendan Rogers and the Leicester faithful would certainly welcome that!

A Tale of Two Scuffed Kicks!

At Euro ‘96, France midfielder Reynald Pedros missed a penalty. It was a moment that would completely alter the trajectory of his career. He had progressed through the ranks at FC Nantes and made it into the national team. Following his penalty miss however, he would wear the French shirt on only a few more occasions and begin a spectacularly nomadic and unsuccessful club career. French fans held Pedros accountable for their exit from the tournament and turned their backs on him as though he’d committed a horrible crime.

Gareth Southgate is another player who missed a defining penalty at Euro ‘96. Like Pedros, he struck a tame kick that was easily saved by the goalkeeper before the next kick saw his team eliminated. Southgate would go onto star in a TV advert mocking (Celebrating?) his miss. Pedros would be made a pariah!

Whilst Pedros has been hidden in the shadows of French football, Gareth Southgate maintained a significant top flight career and is now coach of his national team. Pedros has forever been unable to rid himself of the stigma of his miss. French people shamefully ashamed of him. In contrast, Southgate is held up as an example of a thoroughly decent bloke let alone one who has any football related qualities.

Pedros was an exciting midfielder, therefore a player expected to be able to convert a spot kick though admittedly one who was only on the periphery of the playing XI. Southgate was a steady away defender, a reluctant penalty taker, one who volunteered to take the long walk as more attack-minded players remained in the centre-circle. Who should be more ashamed? The player that missed or the player that couldn’t.., because he didn’t step up? Maybe the four French outfield players who didn’t step up against Czech Republic remain grateful to this day that poor Pedros did instead!

Still, after that penalty miss Barcelona came calling for Pedros. Unfortunately Mrs Pedros didn’t want to relocate… so Mr Pedros didn’t. The married couple later divorced. Sliding doors forever opened and closed but all too often closed at the wrong time for Pedros.

Southgate’s career wasn’t (Isn’t) perfect. He didn’t win every cup final that he got too but he did get there, went on European adventures, got promoted, played again for his country numerous times and coached his national team to a World Cup semi-final.

Roberto Baggio missed a penalty but is forgiven. Stuart Pearce missed a penalty but didn’t shy away the next time the opportunity came around. Gareth Southgate missed a penalty but found redemption. Reynald Pedros missed a penalty but is either forgotten… or worse!