Du Malone writes: Since autumn 2019 I’ve been following a Black Sea strategy on FM. My manager, Grigor Pasha, has worked clockwise around the coast, managing teams in Bulgaria, Romania, and Ukraine, before skipping on to Pazarspor in Turkey.

To date, he’s been in post for 2779 days and we’ve both been enjoying the experience (which, incidentally, is on my favourite edition, namely M14).

Here’s what I like about Turkey:

  1. The season is quite short: 34 league games plus one cup. This means all those things I enjoy — transfer windows, youth intake days. etc. — come round quite quickly. You don’t have to do too much plodding.
  2. I’ve found that things are kept simple. I haven’t yet experienced a case of teams getting out of sync: at any one time, every club has played the same number of matches. Most of the time, it’s one fixture per week, on a Sunday.
  3. The regs concerning foreigners are pretty simple too. It basically comes down to how many foreign players you can have (with, in the second tier, a distinction between Turkic foreigners and others): there’s no pesky special registration conditions for foreigners. Turkey is not in the EU and so is free to do its own thing. Except for the kink regarding Turkic nations, it doesn’t matter which part of the world foreign players come from: all are treated equally. A word of warning, though: not all players find it easy to settle in Turkey.
  4. Prize money is allocated per result, not by league position. In the Superliga, in the season I’m playing currently (2020-21), if you win a match, you get L1.15 million paid into the club bank account. This appeals to the hypothecator in me: with each slug of money, I think ‘That pays for so-and-so’s wages’ or ‘That will cover our debt payments’.
  5. Even better, if you draw match you get half the win bonus. For a lowly club like us, which doesn’t win many games, that represents decent revenue. As a result, or finances have become secure, with a bank balance of L45m.
  6. The big teams are not too dominant. We’ve huge way to go before we can think of challenging Fenerbahce or Galatasaray, both of whom sometimes overwhelm us when we play them. Only sometimes, though: we fight valiantly and sometimes get something out of game. In the streets of Pazar, they’re still talking of when we walloped Fenerbahce 4-0. It might never happen again, but, my, it was good. Besiktas and Trabzonspor tend to beat us, but when we play them I don’t feel a fear factor. BBSK are not what they perhaps were or could be.
  7. The tactics adopted by other teams are not fancy. There’s a lot of 4-4-1-1. I think this has worked in our favour in that our use of other formations (narrow diamond; Christmas tree) probably asks a few questions of the opposition.
  8. In leagues, I look for Goldilocks levels. I don’t like leagues where the players are wretchedly lacking in talent (India, for example?). I don’t have the patience. But equally I don’t like elite leagues, which I don’t really follow IRL either. I’m not good at distinguishing between talent at that level: everyone just looks superb to me. Somewhere in between is where, in effect, I find opportunities for arbitrage.
  9. Ditto, staff,
  10. It’s quite easy to gain background information. For an immersive save, I like to read up on the context. There’s plenty of good material on Torukish life and on football. I was attracted to north-eastern Turkey in part because of a travel book, East of Trebizond, which I’ve reviewed on this site. I’m currently enjoying John McManus, Welcome to hell? In search of the real Turkish football, which I hope to review in due course.

Some of the wine’s not bad either, in robust sort of way. So come on in — unless you happen to be an elite football snob or perhaps a vegetarian. In my view, the water’s lovely.


Image credit: ‘Turkish delight‘ by Norris, generously made available under a CC BY-SA 2.0 licence. 


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