Aventuras Américas | Part 48 | Moving To Europe

We’re now onto our 15th managerial role on this journey, so a few bookmarks for previous teams might be helpful. Feel free to begin the Aventuras Américas journey way back at the initial job hunt stage. Or pick up the Américas adventure at club 1 Puerto Montt, club 2 Universidad Católica, club 3 New York Red Bulls, club 4 River Plate Montevideo, club 5 América de Cali, club 6 Alianza Lima, club 7 Puebla FC, club 8 Palmeiras, club 9 FC Edmonton, club 10 Newell’s Old Boys, club 11 Godoy Cruz, club 12 Flamengo and international teams Brazil and Colombia.

Robinho Lazaró had well and truly established himself as one of the best managers in South America, but every manager wants to test their skills against the best in the world. Indeed, Lazaró was still 300 points away from even reaching the all-time worldwide managerial Hall of Fame. And he had ambitions to not only put that right but put South American managers on the global map.

History tells us that South American managers haven’t had the greatest success in Europe, but the best exponents from the continent are all Argentinian. Helenio Herrera won four Spanish titles with Atlético and Barcelona and three Italian titles with Inter in the 1950s and 1960s and was named the fourth-best manager of all time by World Soccer in 2013. Diego Simeone has won two Spanish titles, one Copa del Rey and two Europa Leagues with Atlético, while Jorge Valdano led Real Madrid to La Liga in 1995.

Sticking with Argentina, the legendary Héctor Cúper won two Supercopa de Espana with Mallorca and Valencia and reached two consecutive Champions League Finals with Valencia in 2000 and 2001. While César Luis Menotti, who won the World Cup as Argentina manager in 1978, also won La Liga with Barcelona five years later. More recently, the likes of Marcelo Bielsa and Mauricio Pochettino are considered among the best South American managers in Europe but haven’t won anything. Moving away from Argentina, the legendary Carlos Alberto Parreira won the Turkish league with Fenerbahce in 1996, but other than that there’s not a huge amount to shout about.

In-game, after 26 years of football, Pochettino is the only South American in the worldwide Hall of Fame with five league titles and two Champions Leagues at PSG plus an FA Cup and Europa League win at Liverpool. While none of the Colombian managers in the national Hall of Fame have managed outside of South America. Jair Ventura (who was recently sacked by Juventude in February after four months in charge in real life) has won titles at Porto and Roma, and Daniel Paulista (who’s the Guarani manager in real life) led Atlético to the Champions League in 2044 and 2045.

So could Robinho Lazaró buck the trend and become a true South American managerial success in Europe? There was only one way to find out, so Lazaró unlocked the European leagues on FM22 and waited for the opportunities to arrive. He enjoyed a year out of the game, recharging his batteries and reflecting on his great success across the Américas until the new leagues unlocked.

On the European job hunt

There were no jobs available for even insecure across Europe when the new leagues became available, so Lazaró decided to holiday further a few months ahead to October 2045 in the hope some movement would occur. And it did, with jobs like Braga and Eibar looking insecure as Lazaró cast his eye to the Job Centre. But bigger opportunities quickly appeared as Lazaró first attended an interview with French side St. Etienne before being invited to chat by Wolfsburg and, the biggest of the lot, Arsenal.

St. Etienne were in a real mess, so Lazaró decided to give that a miss. Arsenal soon approached the Colombian manager with a massive offer of £105,000-per-week, but he wasn’t totally convinced by the idea of managing in England yet. More appealing was the opportunity to establish his name in Europe with less of a high-pressure job.

So on 28 November 2046, after four years and 11 months out of domestic football management, Lazaró signed a three-year deal worth £25,000-per-week with German side Wolfsburg.

Welcome to Wolfsburg

VFL Wolfsburg are a one-time winner of Bundesliga, way back in 2009, and one-time winner of DFP-Pokal in 2015. Despite being predicted to finish eighth, Wolfsburg currently sit 15th with 10 points from 13 games and just one point outside the relegation playoff position. Lazaró’s new board expect him to avoid relegation in the 2045/26 campaign.

Wolfsburg’s best campaign of the save so far was a third-place finish in 2026, but are fresh from their worst so far of 12th in 2044. The club has excellent youth facilities and great training facilities but only adequate academy coaching and average youth recruitment, which Lazaró planned to improve as soon as possible. It’s also in decent financial shape with £48 million in the bank, a transfer budget of £9 million and a weekly wage budget of £1.3 million.

The best player at Wolfsburg is 23-year-old Danish left-back Johan Sondergaard, who the previous manager hadn’t been playing in his seemingly very defensive 5-3-2 formation. But the player Lazaró was most excited about was homegrown midfielder Nico Stark, while other key players include centre-back Ahmet Topal and striker Kevin Berrer. More promising news was that the club had five players with five-star potential in the under 19s, of which the pick was 16-year-old striker Murphy Kabangu.

Lazaró noticed a distinct lack of left-wingers and lack of depth at centre-back and in midfield, so concocted an unusual-looking 4-4-2 that had Berrer dropping in deep and from the left. But he also had plans to use his preferred 4-3-3, so added that in for the players to build familiarity with.

First games in Europe

Lazaró was thrown straight into the thick of it as his first domestic game in Europe came at home to sixth-place Hertha Berlin the day after he was appointed! His new side started well, as Santillán tucked home the opener on 18 minutes and 21-year-old striker Albert Mockel doubled the lead three minutes later. Hertha came back into it after the break, but Lazaró delighted with his start in Germany. They were even more clinical at fifth-place Hoffenheim, winning 3-1 through Topal, Mockel and a brilliant long-range Stark strike despite having seven shots to 22.

Those wins over teams at the top of the league gave Lazaró plenty to get excited about. But things got more difficult as they faced Dortmund, Leverkusen and champions Bayern in their next four games (which showed just how bad a job the old manager was doing!). They were a little unlucky to lose 1-0 to all three sides, but a much more important game saw them win 2-0 at 16th-place Nurnberg to move seven points clear of them.

A few more defeats saw Lazaró drop his 37-year-old goalkeeper Hans Bessat and throw 16-year-old Borislav Arnautovic into the first team. More vital points followed with draws at third-place Koln and mid-table Hannover before beating Freiburg 2-1. Then a 3-0 win over Schalke saw Berrer end his 15-game goal drought, loanee winger Rodrigo Libório run the game, and Arnautovic keep his first clean sheet

Wolfsburg backed up that win by defeating bottom of the league Greuter Furth 3-1 led by a Mockel brace. That moved them 10 points clear of the relegation scrap and virtually confirmed safety with seven games remaining.

Mockel was at it again a week later, scoring a hat-trick to seal an impressive turnaround and win 3-1 at Mainz. The red-hot striker scored again in an impressive 2-1 win at Gladbach, which lifted Wolfsburg into the top half for the first time all season, then scored both as they downed a lackluster RB Leipzig 2-0.

Mockel then inspired a brilliant two-goal comeback to draw 2-2 at third-place Hertha and scored again as Wolfsburg defeated Hoffenheim 2-1. The turnaround in Wolfsburg’s fortunes was shown by a superb 1-1 draw at Dortmund in their penultimate game of the season before a Stark screamer and a Berrer goal inspired a 2-1 win over Leverkusen.

Wolfsburg finished the season on a brilliant 10-game unbeaten streak. That helped them end the campaign in ninth place in Bundesliga, which earned them £55 million in prize money. That was thanks to taking 39 points from their 24 games under Lazaró, in which they only lost five times.

Mockel finished as the second-top scorer in Bundesliga with 21 goals, only behind Bayern’s Eugen Amrein’s 33. And Stark’s 11 assists was only bettered by Dortmund striker Andreas Saputra’s 12.

Season Review

Lazaró was delighted with his first season of management in Europe. He inspired his side to a solid mid-table finish after taking over a team at risk of relegation. But he had much bigger plans for the club, based largely around building an exciting young team.

Key to that could be Mockel, who was barely getting a game before Lazaró arrived but scored 17 in 20 under his new manager. Berrer chipped in with seven goals and Stark impressed with 11 assists, but there was much room for improvement across the entire squad in the summer.

Away from the first team, Wolfsburg’s Under 19s won the Division 1 North/Northeast title with an unbeaten season and were runners-up in the Youth Cup. While the latest youth intake produced another 5-star potential forward, so the future is certainly bright.

Join us next time as Robinho Lazaró plans a rebuild ahead of his first full season in Europe with Wolfsburg!

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