Athletic Bilbao - A tough challenge

FM Obsessive is back! After a blogging sabbatical (Dissertation, Brazil, University) I am ready to report on my gaming since the magnificent Football Manager 2012 came out.
Since my (slight) obsession with all thing Euskadi (Basque) since creating a Basque league for FM 2011, I decided to take over Athletic Club Bilbao; a club within the autonomous community of the Basque Country and proud of it. So proud indeed that it imposes a strict transfer policy - only players with Basque can be bought by the club. Athletic can buy and sign Spanish youth players that don't have Basque as a second nationality up until their 17th birthday.

So as you can see, it is a tough challenge, breaking into the top two in Spain with a team limited as such!

It's not all doom and gloom though as they do have most of the best Basque players and, near the end of each season, take some of the best Basque youngsters from it's feeder clubs and others in the Basque Country on trial.

It is so so difficult with these limitations, but that's the main challenge. Below are the top 3 in La Liga for the last four years and as you can see Athletic Club have come up just short, with our best chance being last season.

We led the league and went 44 games unbeaten until a spell of 5 losses in 6 games including Real Madrid knocking us out of the Champions League at the semi-final stage and being over taken by the big two in the league. to make matters worse, Madrid won the Spanish Cup.
So, in four season all I have to show for it is one Copa del Rey trophy and two Super Cup wins, as well as a Champions League final loss to, yup you guessed it, Real Madrid.

It's not all doom and gloom, have a look at some of my best player, that I hope will catapult us into the top 2.

Fernando Llorente

This guy is MAGIC, 173 goals in 211 games since I've been in charge. 4 consecutive Athletic Blibao Player of the Year awards and 3 Spanish Player of the Year awards. In 2013/14 season he scored 49 in 49 games including 37 in 34 in La Liga.

Diego Sola

A regen WONDERKID signed after the Basque trial intake in the very first season. This guy will be great, and just the player to take over from Fernando in a couple of years.

César Azpilucueta

I don't often spend BIG money, but on Azpilucueta I did; £35m from Marseilles. The reasons are clear, he's a class Basque right back, I needed cover on the left, so he was re-trained. He also has a high Influence rating so became my captain (although I'm not pleased with him after just being sent off in a 5-3 home defeat to Barcelona).

Mikel San José

The next Gerard Pique, Liverpool will rue selling this guy. Solid at the back, San José has been ever present in centre defence and has broken into the Spanish first 11.

Iker Munian

Munian is a class striker/winger who, despite being injury-prone, does often come up with important goals in important matches.

We lie 4th in the league in 2015/16 after just 4 games, although we've just lost 5-3 at home to Barcelona and the game before 4-1 to Man City in the Champions League. It looks like it will be another tough year.


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