Good evening, emphasis on the v. Welcome back. Have a seat. Maybe, just maybe, take a moment to remind yourself of Evil José's journey so far in Parts I, II and III. The most compelling tragedy since The Godfather Trilogy? I don't know. I couldn't possibly say. But thank you. Thank you.
After almost a year in the wilderness Evil José is back with a strange kind of vengeance, the kind that rumbles away in the stomach like a craving for fried chicken after a night on the pints, the kind that possesses a man to take the Arsenal job now that the perpetually floundering Unai Emery looks as though he's snatched a draw from the jaws of victory one too many times.
Look at him, hungry like the wolf and twice as feral. Evil José is back baby. And life is good again.
And do you know something? I'm not sure how this will go. I'm not sure, even though it is Arsenal, and even though it is Evil José, the living breathing embodiment of mischief, that there will be quite the same amount of nonsense as last time.
What I'm saying is that it's difficult to see how we can once again do things like: turn Lee Cattermole into a functioning, productive Premier League central midfielder. Things like: have Juan Mata perform as United's best centre back. Things like: beat Manchester City and Liverpool thanks to goals from a 34-year-old Salomon Kalou.
Oh no wait, hold on.
Can it be?
We're going to be absolutely fine everyone.
The setting out of the proverbial stall
Evil José makes a blistering start to his Arsenal career by falling out with the entire board on his very first day on the job. How? Well, on FM20 you are greeted with a club vision page as soon as you take a job. You then have the option to try and negotiate these as you see fit. Arsenal's top three club philosophies are 'Play attacking football', 'Play entertaining football' and 'Sign players under the age of 18 for the future'; three things Evil José vehemently stands against. I try and remove them all. The chairman rejects the request and tells me he is disappointed in the start I have made.
Things do at least improve in the form of some backroom appointments. Impressed with Tony Adams' work at Granada two seasons ago, which clearly laid the foundations for their remarkable turn around in fortunes given that they are now flying in La Liga, I decide to offer him a job. He opens the contract talks asking for the role of u18s coach.
I watch the following video. To remind myself of his qualities.
After that, it is impossible not to make him my assistant manager or, in FM speak, my "ass man". He is the man I want to be my ass. Even better, he only manages to negotiate £250 more in salary. The idiot. See ya later Freddie Ljungberg.
At the press conference a journalist asks me what Tony Adams will bring to the team. I tell them he is good at what he does. I lie.
Elsewhere, I try and hire Gunners legend Kim Källström as a scout only because that is his job on the game, despite him very obviously not possessing the requisite qualities of a scout. Namely judging player ability (9 out of 20) but also judging player potential (let me shock you - also 9 out of 20). The board block the appointment which is all kinds of disgusting given Kim's contribution of a single league start for the club during the 13/14 season. Treat your legends right, Arsenal.
Speaking of, I also try and hire Oleg Luzhny as a coach, for no reason at all really, but he is only interested in becoming my ass man. "I already have an ass man," I try to explain to him, "Your former colleague and captain Tony Adams is my ass man," I plead, but he isn't having any of it and refuses to join my coaching team. I get Dennis Bergkamp instead, which can only really be seen as a massive upgrade. Apart from when we have to fly all over the continent for our Europa League campaign.
Ashley Cole joins as Chief Scout because, if his air rifle skills are anything to go by, he has an exceptional eye for unsuspecting youngsters.
If Harry Redknapp is a wheeler-dealer then I, too, am some kind of... master negotiator person
The squad needs an overhaul. Evil José does not like what he sees and what he sees is: a raging assembly of bedwetters. Even as he takes over the squad morale ranges only from 'very poor' to 'fairly poor' with a single 'good' coming from Elephant and Castle native Reiss Nelson, presumably because he is no longer in Elephant and Castle.
(Disclaimer: I live just down the road from E&C and do really enjoy the place, even if it is just a Nando's and a Wetherspoons on a weird roundabout that takes several days to get across. Sorry, that's exactly why I enjoy it. That's exactly what I like about the place)
Anyway, I transfer list Granit Xhaka for £30 million. Manchester United (suckers) immediately offer £22.5 million. As they (Manchester United) are suckers (suckers), I decide to negotiate.
£15 million is my counteroffer. Please, please just take him. I actually feel bad for you. (Suckers).
Remarkably, given that they are a big bunch of suckers, they hastily accept the knockdown price and agree to take him for 15, rather than attempting to negotiate back up. However, there is a snag as the pesky Arsenal board, who are already on bad terms with Evil José let's not forget, block the sale.
£15 million is too low a fee for a player of Granit Xhaka's quality, they say. £15 million is too high a fee for a player of Granit Xhaka's quality, I argue. They disagree and state that they won't let the player leave for anything less than £21.5 million (even though, and they actually add this, which is just fascinating, they view that amount as "still on the low side").
Regrettably I am forced to once again offer him out for the brand-spanking new price of £21.5 million. He is my bundle of shitty PlayStation 2 games, he is my Jeremy Clarkson book that I got for Christmas despite specifically asking that particular family member who always gets me things that are so incongruous with my personality to very specifically not get me a thing that is so incongruous with my personality, and I simply must get rid.
United (suckers) come straight back in with the asking price offer because they are, yep, a big bunch of suckers. Thank you, as always, Ed Woodward.
Thankfully I am granted one gloriously satisfying moment with the Emirates ear-cupper (an act that Evil José no doubt secretly admired) before he leaves the club. As captain, it was Xhaka's duty to decide on the team's code of conduct which, given recent events, will no doubt fill your heart with as much fuzzy joy as it does mine.
To his credit, Granit suggests very reasonable punishments for offences, which are fines varying from a single day's wage to a full two weeks depending on the player's violation. As these violations include receiving multiple bookings, getting sent off and one simply called 'Gone AWOL', all things he is a huge fan of, it's honourable that he should agree to abide by the rules himself. Even though, obviously, that would leave him earning absolutely fuck all. He would honestly struggle to feed his family. In fact, given that the vast majority of the Arsenal defence and midfield is prone to going AWOL at multiple points during any given football match, it's difficult to see how anyone bar the goal-bonus abusers Aubameyang and Lacazette will actually earn any money under the new regime.
Evil José takes Xhaka's suggestion and changes every possible punishment to the max, which is a fine of a full two weeks wages, even for first time offences. ¡Viva la Revolución!
The problem, and it is a problem, is that Xhaka's departure after this causes that notorious troublemaker, Mesut Özil, a pesky kid right up there with the likes of the Scooby Doo gang and Raheem 'Occasionally eats food that isn't from a gourmet restaurant, occasionally buys his mother a building in which to live' Sterling, leads an impromptu coup to undermine Evil José's authority.
Mesut Özil comes to me, and by me I mean Evil José, and by Evil José I mean me, and expresses how unhappy he is that the club decided to sell Xhaka. "You don't even rate Xhaka yourself," I reply, I mean Evil José replies, "it literally means you have more chance of playing."
But Mesut isn't having it. He gathers the entire rest of the squad, who respect him because of his World Cup medal (sorry, Shkodran, yours doesn't really count) and £350k a week pay packet, and rallies them. Gets them all fired up. Rowdy. Passionate. Exactly the kind of thing he should be doing in the dressing room when there are actual matches on rather than now, because *checks notes* Granit Xhaka has been sold.
Regardless, I manage to quash the uprising by reassuring my players that I will be replacing Xhaka with a far superior player and that I have a wealth of targets in mind. This, again, is a lie. I lie.
Scrolling down the transfer list - past old flames Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo - I notice that Evil José's old lumbering war-elephant Nemanja Matic is available for a measly £12.5 million (suckers). Feeling bad for them over the Xhaka deal (suckers) and wanting to placate my squad (also suckers), I get him in.
Evil José also signs Arsenal's only half-decent CDM post-Gilberto Silva, Mathieu Flamini, for old time's sake, and Johan Djourou because, well, I have to get my kicks somehow, you know? Even more tantalising, a 41-year-old Lúcio is available on a free. Given the current centre-backs at Arsenal have all the mental fortitude of a Cadbury Twirl left in a jeans pocket on a hot day, both myself and Evil José believe he'd make a fine addition to the squad, particularly should we choose to play five at the back with a libero, a system we honed to staggering effect during our time at United.
Which leaves us needing a striker. Obviously Arsenal have two very, very good strikers already, but neither of them are particular, erm, suitable. Which brings us to Goran Pandev. Yes, Goran Pandev. The man born in Yugoslavia when Yugoslavia was still Yugoslavia. The man with a Champions League, Serie A and five (5!) Coppa Italias to his name. The god damn five-time Macedonian Footballer of the Year: Goran. Fucking. Pandev.
And unlike Tony Adams, Pandev is something of a skilled negotiator. This isn't his first rodeo. Genoa accept my quite frankly pitiful offer of 400k for the 36 year old North Macedonian legend. However, given his substantial experience in the game, Pandev leverages the rather vague interest of UAE giants Al-Jazira to secure himself a bumper contract. He was on £11k a week in Italy. Evil José offers him an exceedingly generous £50k. Pandev demands £110k. Evil José offers an even more munificent figure of £70k. Pandev demands £110k. Evil José offers £100k. Pandev accepts. The bastard. His squad status is 'impact sub' but he is now earning almost as much as 'regular starter' Hector Bellerin and the same amount as 'important player' Bernd Leno.
Evil José attempts to supplement this fine addition to the Arsenal squad by bringing Emmanuel Adebayor back to North London (obviously to give him the number 5 shirt and play him over Laca and Auba). Emmanuel Adebayor refuses to leave Kayserispor to come back to Arsenal.
Yeah, can't blame him really. Yeah.
Evil José therefore turns his attentions to the next best thing.
Welcome back to Arsenal, Nicklas Bendtner.
And do you know what, if Lincoln Francis thinks there are 'literally no flaws to this idea' then that's good enough to me.
Also, Johan Djourou, who demanded I improve the squad upon his arrival (Johan Djourou! Who spent last season making five appearances for SPAL! Doesn't think the Arsenal squad is good enough! You're about eighth choice centre back in a team full of awful centre backs pal! I only signed you for cheap gags about the Arsenal banter years!), is now magically placated.
As is a certain Mesut Özil. It really is astounding how much of a positive impact signing Nicklas Bendtner can have on a team.
We have Crystal Palace at home first game and this is the formation Evil José will be using, at least to start with:
Nicolas Pepe and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang may or may not have already began retraining position to fill the two wing-back slots. I can neither confirm nor deny.
The nonsense is - and I cannot stress this enough - to be continued.
Football Manager 2020 is released on November 19th.