Aventuras Américas | Part 54 | Robinho Lazaró’s Elite Club Opportunity

We’re taking our 14th club role, so if you’re new to the series go back to the start in the job hunt stage or pick it up 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. Or dip into the start of the European leg of the journey at club 13 Wolfsburg.

Roberto Nascimento da Silva Lazaró was mobbed by football-mad locals as he walked through the airport then the streets of his hometown of Medellín. It was safe to say that the events of 2049 had seen Lazaró very much become a national hero, as he became the first Colombian manager ever to win the European Champions League.

Lazaró escaped the hordes to enjoy a few days of peace to reflect on the amazing squad he’d built at Wolfsburg. But he wasn’t the only one who thought he was kind of a big deal. Upon picking up the ringing phone that broke the calm of his villa up in the Colombian hills he noticed the incoming call was coming from England.

Lazaró’s English was scratchy at best but he’d picked up enough to get by during his time in Germany. So he answered the phone in a heavily accented “ello?” to discover the mystery person on the other end of the phone was none other than Edward Austin, the chairperson of Liverpool FC. The pair had met briefly when Lazaró’s Wolfsburg team demolished Liverpool 5-1 in the Champions League semi-finals and enjoyed a quick chat via an interpreter, which gave Lazaró the impression that Austin was a fan.

Luckily, said interpreter was also on the line and explained that Austin was, as Lazaró suspected, a big fan of the Colombian’s work. Austin continued: “Our manager Nikola Vlasic just departed to become Barcelona manager” news of which Lazaró was totally unaware of – “so I’m lining up a shortlist of replacements.” Austin paused. “Well, Robinho, I say shortlist. But when you’ve only written one name on a piece of paper, a list that does not make.”

Lazaró smiled smugly. He knew what was coming. Austin forced him to go through the formality of an interview, which went relatively well. And a few days later, Austin was back in touch to ask the manager for suggested backroom changes, which were surprisingly much-needed. It didn’t take long for an offer to arrive, and it was one that Lazaró simply could not turn down.

Liverpool more than doubled his wages to £120,000-a-week. And Robinho Lazaró was moving to England.

Liverpool in 2049

Liverpool have added four Premier League titles during the 28 year period of this save, taking them to a record 23. The most recent was the season before last in 2048. They’ve also won three Europa Leagues, five FA Cups and two Carabao Cups, but no Champions League in 30 years. In 2048/49, the reigning champions finished fifth behind Aston Villa, with Man City winning the title, which meant loads of players wanted out as they weren’t in the Champions League.

Lazaró decided the club required a massive rebuild and set about selling 12 players for a profit of £170 million. Liverpool had been spending an outrageous £5.6 million-per-week on wages but Lazaró swiftly slashed that to just £2.2 million and gave himself a healthy transfer budget.

The best player remaining at Liverpool was homegrown elite left-winger and club captain Patrick Southam. Other strong options include Argentinian full-backs Hugo Gauna and Lisandro Landriel, English right-back/holding midfielder Chris Jones and centre-backs Herbert Ccahuana and Kirill Zakharov. While the best prospects are exiting wingers Guillermo Soria and Jon Azparren and goalkeeper Gérard Nana. There’s also strong English talent coming through in midfielders Richard Carter and Ian Raglan and 17-year-old Welsh winger Owain Harvey.

Raiding Wolfsburg!

The first player Lazaró signed will come as no surprise to anybody. He went straight back to Wolfsburg and cashed in the £85 million minimum fee release clause for superstar Juarez, who immediately becomes the best player at the club. Speaking of Wolfsburg, Lazaró also went big to bring in attacking midfielder Darwin Dutra for £53 million rising to a potential £101 million. Then, realising he didn’t have a goalkeeper, signed Bruno Bernardes for just £11.5 million.

He didn’t only sign players from Wolfsburg, however. Lazaró had been scouting 6ft 6in striker Tiago Sousa for about two years and finally signed him from Benfica for £14.5 million. He also snapped up exciting left-back Ismael Traore for £3.5 million from Nantes. And that, Lazaró thought, had the squad looking in much healthier shape than the aging, overpaid one he’d inherited.

With those deals done and dusted, it looked like the most suitable approach could be the classic 4-3-3 that Liverpool currently use in real life. However, Lazaró also saw potential for his infamous La Caosbala tactic to work with the players available to him and if that didn’t work out, which was more than likely, a more attacking 4-2-3-1.

A tricky start to life in England

The media predict Liverpool to finish fourth at a heavy 16/1 for the title. Chelsea, now managed by former Liverpool boss Aymeric Laporte, are favourites at 5/2, followed by champions Man City (13/5) and Wayne Rooney’s Man UFC (3/1), while Newcastle, managed by Joe Willock, are fifth favourites. Lazaró’s board expected to qualify for the Champions League and reach the Europa League final while playing attacking, entertaining football and developing the youth system.

Lazaró’s first match in English football was a toughie as Liverpool entertained Man UFC. Liverpool started really poorly and eventually went behind after an hour. But Lazaró threw on subs, which changed the game and they deservedly equalised through debutant Sousa. They had far more shots, which was a positive, but Lazaró was concerned the 4-3-3 tactic wasn’t quite right.

They then faced away games against rivals Arsenal and last season’s Champions League qualifiers Aston Villa. The trip to Arsenal was Lazaró’s 1,200th game in management and he marked it by playing a formation he’d never used before. But the move to a 4-4-2 Diamond proved inspired as Liverpool scored three in the first 18 minutes, including Juarez bagging his first goal for the club and Southam scoring one and making one. It also worked nicely as they thrashed Villa 4-2.

Hitting impressive form

That sparked a strong start to life in Liverpool as they comfortably beat Wolves and Leeds before an early top-of-the-table clash with Man City. The game looked like being a classic as City scored a brilliant team goal early on through Lazaró’s former Brazil international Luis Felipe Borges and Liverpool responded immediately with one of their own through Sousa. But bizarrely there were no more highlights and it finished 1-1.

Lazaró immediately had his first taste of the Merseyside Derby as his side visited the Bramley-Moore Dock Stadium. His side well and truly dominated but took until the 85th minute to make it count as substitute José Pereira bagged a late brace, which sent Liverpool top and Everton bottom.

Liverpool really kicked into top gear, including midfielder Dario Brunelli scoring a hat-trick in a 6-0 thumping of Leicester and Juarez bagging a new club record four-goal haul to down Newcastle 5-2. Indeed, they remained unbeaten in all competitions all the way through to the start of December.

However, they then faced tough games just before Christmas. That started by getting mugged off by the referee making a ridiculous red card decision as they lost 3-0 at Chelsea. A rotated side lost a Carabao Cup quarter-final 3-0 at Newcastle. Then they travelled to third-place Spurs, where a switch from the diamond to 4-3-3 saw them come close to a win but Spurs scored in the 90th-minute to nick a 2-2.

But Liverpool continued to impress against lesser sides as Azparren scored to beat Brighton 1-0. The Spaniard also inspired a 4-1 Boxing Day win over Sheffield United with a goal and an assist. And Liverpool showed they could do it on a cold Tuesday at Stoke as they finished the year with a 3-1 inspired by Dutra scoring on his comeback from injury.

That saw Liverpool top the Premier League heading into the new year, with just one defeat in 20 games. They were also the top scorers in the league with 54 goals. Juarez, despite a minor goal drought of one goal in six games, remains the league’s top scorer with 16 goals and has the highest average rating of 7.81. While José Pereira is the third top scorer with 12 goals along with eight assists, which is only bettered by Júlio David’s 10.

Europa League group domination

The Europa League served up an easy group with Ferencvaros, Austrian side Rheindorf Altach and Slovak side Spartak Trnava. And Liverpool unsurprisingly dominated, starting by beating Ferencvaros 3-0 away. Then rotated sides thrashed Rheindorf 4-1 at home and 3-0 away, Trnava 7-0 with seven different scorers at home then 5-1 away, and Ferencvaros 4-0.

Significant award recognition

2049 concluded with Juarez being named the best player in the world as he won the FIFA Ballon d’Or and FIFA FIFPro Player of the Year awards. That’s probably fairly unheard of for someone who’s not playing in the Champions League. But Juarez is truly an exceptional talent.

The striker earlier topped the Goal 50 award, on top of winning the Best Player in Europe in the summer. Three other Liverpool players made the Goal 50, with Ccahuana 36th, Southam 42nd and Dutra 44th. While Lazaró’s former winger Júlio David, now at Man UFC, was 3rd and striker Sergio Sosa, now at Chelsea, was 27th. While Dutra and Juarez were named in the FIFA FIFPro Team of the Year.

It’s been a successful start at Liverpool but can Robinho Lazaró’s side maintain it to compete for the Premier League? Join us next time to find out!

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