2025/26 – Rijeka (Croatia)

Good evening people and welcome back to my latest update in the Alphabet Challenge.

Firstly apologies for the slow updates, I’ve had a mental few days which included watching the Semi Final of the Snooker in Sheffield and also watching my boys thrash Newcastle 3-0 and push further to safety

A quick recap as to where I last left it, we had just completed “B” with AA Gent in Belgium and I was handed the reigns at Rijeka in Croatia, my first “C” Country.

Rijeka are one of the best teams in Croatia in my save, the 24/25 season they had ended 2nd, 7 points behind Dinamo Zagreb. This gave us a place in the Europa League 3rd Qualifying Round.

Rijeka’s squad looks decent for a serious championship challenge, we have quality on virtually every position apart from at Right Back and on the Left Wing. These were my 2 targets for the upcoming season.

We managed to sign a few more players as you can see below

trasnfers

Novotny is a highly rated LW and as you will see later on in the post one of our players of the season. Puel was signed as our first choice RB. Diakite is a highly rated GK. The others were signed on pre-contracts before I joined apart from the loan signing of Ryczkowski, he was signed as back-up LW/ST but only lasted a few months before having his loan terminated due to lack of games.

Overall the signings I made were perfect, the squad looks solid with cover in all positions. Novotny cost me my whole transfer budget so there are no more funds available.

Heading into the domestic season I was really confident in a successful season. We start poorly, after 8 games we had won 2, lost 3 and drew 3 and we languishing in 6th position (out of 10). The tactic of 4231 I employed really wasn’t working so I switched back to my ever trusty 442 and although it started slowly it really pushed me on.

With 10 games to go we were still 15 points behind Dinamo Zagreb challenging Hadjuk for 2nd spot. What happened next is one of the best runs/comebacks I’ve ever had on FM. In 8 games we had cut the 15 point gap down to 0 points, DInamo had collapsed and we had won 8 out of 8. We went into the final game of the season top (for the first time all season) on GD, all we needed was a win or another DInamo slip up, What happened was both, Hadjuk had held Dinamo to a 3-3 draw and we had beaten Osijek 2-1 away. We had done it, one of the greatest comebacks I’ve ever seen!

table

We also had success in the Croatian Cup, we managed to beat Dinamo in the final to grab the double

cup

Now to the Europa League campaign, in my head I was thinking if we made the Group stage I’d be happy, what happened smashed anything I’d ever imagined. We breezed through the 3rd qualifying round beating Pandurli of Romania 10-0 aggregate and then beat Red Star Belgrade 5-2 on aggregate to wrap up a place in the Group Stage.

The group we were handed was tough, we had drawn Fiorentina and Atletico Madrid so it was going to be a tough task to get through. It didn’t start well we got thrashed 4-0 and 4-1 by Atletico and with 2 games to go we only had 2 points. It went down to the final game at Home to Fiorentina, we had to win and we did…just, it ended 1-0 and we were through to the last 32!!

el group

What happened in the knockout was truly sensational, I’ll post the screenshot first!

el ko

Yes that’s right we got through to the final where we lost in an absolute belter against Everton! I ended up gutted but also proud of my boys. We got past some amazing teams on the way. Notable results were beating Spurs 2-0 in the 2nd leg at White Hart Lane and beating Roma at Home 2-1 after drawing the away leg 0-0.

What a campaign, overall it was one of the best. I expected to challenge for the league but what happened in Europe was stunning!

Now to the end of season awards. My personal favourite was my signing Novotny, he broke the league record for the highest average rating

novotny record novotny

And then there was Antonio Kluk! What a season this guy had. He won top goalscorer for the league scoring 29 goals in 32 games and overall scored 52 in 55. There’s not much else I can say about this absolute legend!

kluk top goals kluk

So there you have it, I say this after most seasons when I write it up but this was definitely one of my best. Winning the league and cup double and losing in the Europa League final with a team from a lesser nation was truly sensational.

We now move onto the next “C” nation, we still have a few to go, these are: China, Chile, Colombia and Czech Republic

Thanks for reading, Please leave any feedback you have whether its good or bad either on here or via Twitter @thatfmregen

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