Copa América

A year in international management consists of a bunch of friendly matches, and the opportunity to go watch your squad play in various games around the World. In real life, that sounds quite enticing, but in Football Manager 17 terms, it amounts to clicking “Continue” quite a lot.

And so, I rattle through season 7 as Uruguay manager without doing much. Until the summer, when the Copa América starts.

Uruguay haven’t done much in the past few tournaments, and I take them to this one having not reached the final in 12 years. Expectations are that we reach the Quarter-Finals and we’ve played well enough in recent friendlies to suggest that that’s achievable.

The first match is against Mexico B. I’ve no idea why it’s Mexico’s B team we’re playing, and I notice that USA B are also here. We beat the USA first-team in the run-up to this so they don’t worry me.

We beat Mexico B 3-1, with a goal from José Luis Rodríguez, and a brace from Marcelo Silva. Both players are 20-odd year-old regens in the game, but I have a couple of familiar faces in the squad.

We then lose 1-0 to Venezuela, before beating Equador by the same scoreline, and qualifying from the group stages in 1st position. Our 1 goal in these matches comes real-life Uruguayan Giorgian De Arrascaeta.

The knockout stages start, and I’m conscious of the fact that Montepellier’s pre-season is underway. I have a word with Assistant Manager Pascal Baills and ask him to take control of the friendlies while I’m in Brazil. Meanwhile, I’m still trying to strengthen our squad for the season ahead.

First up is a Quarter Final against Chile, and it’s our most convincing performance of the tournament so far. 25 shots to Chile’s 3, 12 on target to Chile’s 1. It finishes 2-0, but it could’ve been so much more. Goals from Nicolás Schiappacasse and Lucas Torreira setup a Semi Final against a Mexico B team that we beat in the group stages.

This time, we don’t play as well. The game finishes 0-0 and – with no extra-time, apparently – we go straight to penalties, where we emerge 4-3 winners in the shootout. Next up, a final against Argentina.

Lionel Messi’s still kicking around, and at age 36 has over 176 caps for his country. His stats are still pretty good, too.

Marcelo Silva puts us 1-0 up within a couple of minutes, but the fun ends there. Argentina equalise on 6 minutes, and Messi fires in a superb free-kick just before half-time. We lose a further 2 goals in the second-half and it finishes 4-1.

Even though we lost in the final, the Uruguayan FA are delighted with the team’s performance, and I seem to have done a decent job.

But I don’t have time to manage a national team and Montpellier, so something has to give.

I promptly hand in my notice.

And catch the first flight to France. Pre-season awaits.

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