The Journeyman | Blue Moon: Part 1 – An Unexpected New Start

Having just wrapped up a third consecutive Bundesliga title and an 11th career domestic title, Robí Sebastian Jesús di Lathamé was leading England through EURO 2036 when something quite unexpected occurred.

It began with Manchester City, who’ve not won the Premier League in 11 years, offering a job interview completely out of the blue. What I thought was a throwaway question about remaining as England manager turned out to really backfire as, upon duly being offered and accepting the role, I was not only removed as Dortmund manager but also as the England boss.

That cock-up aside, this presents me with an exciting, but absolutely massive challenge in charge of a club that’s been hugely underachieving for more than a decade. However, as a Bolton Wanderers fan and someone who really isn’t very keen on Man City in real life I already feel very dirty and fairly apathetic towards the idea of trying to lead them to glory…

City have won the Premier League three times during this save, in 2021, 2022 and 2025. They’ve not even finished second since 2026, but did come third in the 2035/36 season just gone – which, strangely, saw my Dortmund predecessor Marco Rose get sacked and he then took my vacant role back at Dortmund. Weird. They’ve also won the Champions League three times, in 2021, 2022 and 2032, won four FA Cups and five Carabao Cups.

Meet the Man City squad of 2036

The good news walking into Manchester City was that they had a very good squad to work with, albeit with a few ageing players that I’d be looking to move on.

There were also a few players we were aware of from former clubs that had joined City for massive money. These included goalkeeper Betinho, who’d come through my Sporting academy then I signed him at Valencia before he moved to City for £95 million in 2034. Speaking of Valencia, we also had left-winger Juan Martín Sancho, who’d signed for £107 million in 2030, and exciting striker Diego Gutiérrez, who signed for £134 million in 2032. In midfield, we had William Zanella who we’d had on loan from Inter at Cagliari for two seasons and has become an elite midfielder.

Potentially the most exciting player is the ridiculously good 23-year-old Scottish striker Dean Martin, who came through the City academy and already has 79 goals in 122 league games for the club.

Then there’s midfielder Pedro Ferreira, who signed in 2031 for £97 million from Benfica, elite left-back Junior Silas, who arrived from Porto for £59 million in 2029, and brilliantly named centre-back Márcio Bambam, who cost just £250k from Internacional in 2033.

Bolstering a strong squad

There was plenty of deadwood in the City squad, so I swiftly set about flogging some of their old boring players off and brought in a cool £200 million. This included selling 33-year-old Eduardo Camavinga to West Ham for £13.5 million, inept looking right-winger Callum McQuade to Wolves for £50 million, and average centre-back Tiago Vieira to Roma for £35.5 million.

There were a couple of positions I wanted to strengthen and had a sizeable transfer budget to play with. But the first signing was a real bargain as young attacking midfielder Ljubisa Cula came in for just £5 million from Red Star.

But the money soon flowed as we shelled out £95 million – which is my all-time record signing on this save – for 22-year-old attacking midfielder / striker Simon Roger Makengo from Spurs. He looks awesome!

We spent a further £60 million to bring in elite right-back Leozao from Bayern, then spent big on an elite centre-back with Baiano coming in for £75 million from Real Madrid. And they both look like very special young defenders!

We also still have inspirational World Cup winner Sir Phil Foden at the club, who is 36, has spent his entire career at the club, and has racked up 516 league appearances. I didn’t expect him to be playing much, but Zanella got ruled out for four months on the eve of the season, so he may well add several games to that tally.

And this is how the squad looks in terms of ability rating, it’s safe to say it looks a very strong one!

Premier League debut

My first match in my home country of England was at St Mary’s Stadium in Southampton, who are managed by Claude Makelele and finished 7th last season. We had three players injured and three were at the Olympics, but a familiar face gave us the perfect start as Sancho scored inside three minutes. Then Sir Foden scored from the penalty spot to seal a 2-1 win.

The second was a very tough challenge as we entertained champions Chelsea, who have three of the best attackers in the world in Cristiano Bertoletti, Kevin and Frank Hirschberger and are still managed by Frank Lampard. But we well and truly nullified their attacking threat and a Dean Martin brace either side of half-time – the second 16 seconds after the break – eased us to a 2-0 win.

We were then terrible against ten-man Brighton & Hove Albion, but that man Sir Foden stepped up and hit a brace of screamers to seal a 2-1 comeback win. Then a second tough game again ended in a 2-0 success as Gutiérrez came into the side to set up an own goal and score the second.

And he was playing because we’d sold supposedly ‘elite winger’ Kenzo Wouters, who was 29 and put in three very average performances, to Inter for an initial £92 million rising to £108 million – which is my record sale on this save – on deadline day. That took our transfer sales to a total of £323 million over the summer.

Sir Foden had made a fine start to the season that saw him win the August player of the month award. And he kept that up scoring twice and creating another in a 4-1 win at Derby County. After five games, we’d won all five and Foden was the league’s joint-top goalscorer!

We then snuck past bottom of the league Everton, who had one point from six, with Martin’s header from a Gutiérrez cross sealing a 1-0 win. But we lost our first match in another poor performance at Nottingham Forest, then drew 0-0 at home to Arsenal.

However, that sparked a strong run of form with five league wins on the bounce heading into a top of the table clash at home to Liverpool. After 13 games, we were top on 34 points and they were just in behind us on 32 points, with Man United next on 28 points. So a win over Liverpool would be massive.

And the importance of the game wasn’t lost on the players, who put in a huge performance. Sancho drilled home the opener just before the half hour and we dominated the game, but only wrapped it up when Baiano turned home from close range late in the second half. And a 2-0 win moved us five points clear at the top.

Our fantastic form led to me winning my first manager of the month award in England in November 2036. And I was already up to an A- rating with the board.

Facing old friends in Europe

We were drawn in the second pot of the Champions League and, after two tricky groups with Dortmund, I wasn’t hopeful. But with them and Sporting both in the first pot, the chances of getting one of them was relatively high. And we did! As we were drawn in a group with Sporting, Celtic and Genk, which looked a lot easier than previous years.

First up was an emotional return to Estádio José Alvalade Século XXI as we faced my old club Sporting Lisbon for the first time since I’d left them in 2025 after winning six consecutive Portuguese titles. I was a nervous wreck and the team weren’t much better, falling behind then dragging ourselves level through Makengo’s first for the club.

But we breezed to qualification with a 3-0 win over Celtic, 5-0 thrashing of Genk led by Makengo bagging four, then beating the Belgians 4-1 away. Then Sporting came to town and we demolished them 5-1 with effectively a second-string eleven to win the group inspired by a Cula hat-trick. Then a 2-1 win at Celtic with a totally changed eleven saw us through unbeaten.

Join us next time as we continue in our first season in my home country of England with my not so much loved Man City!

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