Turkish football is on the decline and has been for a while. At the turn of the millennium it was thriving with Galatasaray punching well above their weight by winning the UEFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup in 2000. The national side continued the trend of Turkish overachievement by finishing 3rd at the 2002 World Cup. Hakan Sükür was scoring goals for fun and to this day is still the all time Süper Lig leading goal scorer with a whopping 249 goals whilst the national sides number 1 Rüştü Reçber’s impressive performances earnt him a move to Barcelona. Since then there have been some positive moments but they have been few are far between. Galatasaray were Champions League quarter finalists in 2001 and 2013 while Fenerbahçe reached the Europa League Semis that same year. A Beşiktaş Europa League quarter final appearance in 2017 is the only real achievement of note since. Internationally Turkey did make the Euro 2008 semi finals but they haven’t qualified for a World Cup since 2002. At the Euros just gone they lost all 3 group games, scoring just 1 and conceding 8.
So why is Turkish football on the decline and no longer knocking on the door of European footballs giants? There are multiple reasons but I’m just going to focus on 3. The first and main one we will talk about is money. To compete at the top big money was been spent that was not sustainable and has seen Turkey’s biggest clubs build up high levels of debt. Beşiktaş for example were paying Pepe €8m a season, an astronomical figure that required success in Europe in order to be maintained. Success never occurred on the continent and the financial impacts were felt. A second reason is that foreign players don’t tend to come to Turkey in their peak, a lot come when they are past their best and some regard it as a ‘retirement home’. Third and finally when the Turkish national side was at its best the bulk of its players played in Turkey therefore strengthening its club sides. Now the majority of its star men play abroad such as Burak Yılmaz at Lille and Çağlar Söyüncü at Leicester City.
Since the Süper Lig was founded 62 years ago there have only been 6 different winners. Galatasaray lead the way with 22 titles, Fenerbahçe have 19, current champions Beşiktaş have 16, Trabzonspor 6 and finally İstanbul Başakşehir and Bursaspor both have a solo win. The big 3 have dominated it for years, Trabzonspor were last crowned champions 37 years ago meaning that only 2 titles have been won by teams other than Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş in that time. The big 3 are great rivals and come from Turkey’s biggest city Istanbul that has roughly triple the population of Turkey’s next biggest city which is the capital Ankara. Despite being the capital and the second biggest city in Turkey no side from Ankara has ever won the Süper Lig and in my opinion this is something that has to change. To make matters worse the two biggest sides from Ankara were both relegated last season meaning that there is no side from the capital in the top league, something unheard of in most countries. Ankaragücü finished 19th with Gençlerbirliği a place below in 20th. It is the latter that I will be managing, purely based on the fact that I preferred their badge to that of Ankaragücü.
Gençlerbirliği are known as ‘Ankara Rüzgârı’ (The Wind of Ankara) or simply ‘Gençler’ (The Youth). The clubs colours are black and red, they play their home games at Eryaman Stadium which they share with arch rivals Ankaragücü. They have won the Turkish Cup twice, in 1987 and 2001 but in the Süper Lig the best they have managed was 3rd in the 1965–66 and 2002–03 seasons. They did however win the former Turkish Football Championship twice and the regional Ankara Football League a record nine times but have been unable to replicate this success in the current Turkish league format. In Europe, Gençlerbirliği’s greatest success came in 2004 when they reached the fourth round of the UEFA Cup before losing to eventual champions Valencia. That’s enough about the club anyway, so what’s the challenge….
- Win the Turkish Süper Lig
- Win the Turkish Cup
- Win a European Trophy
- Become the first Turkish side to win the Champions League
- Become the best team in Turkey on paper (Media Prediction 1st)
- Increase the Süper Lig coefficient so it becomes a top 5 European league
- Produce 5 homegrown Turkish Internationals (newgens only)
- Turn down an approach from one of the big 3 (Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş)
- Have a player I sign or produce become Gençlerbirliği’s record goal scorer (Current record is 72 goals by Andre Kona N’Gole)
- Build our own stadium so we don’t have to share with those b*stards across the city
Some of these are more realistically achievable than others but we’ll have to see how I get on! I plan for the save to run throughout the lifespan of FM22 giving me plenty of time to build something successful and make Ankara not just the capital of Turkey but the capital of Turkish football.
I’ll be back with another post once the full game is released which will be a review of the current squad and facilities. The blog will then take the format of season reviews.
Thanks for reading,
The Last Throw.
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