Serie C runneth red with new blood Six newcomers to Tradition Futbol Serie will test their mettle against a mix of seasoned veterans, a sophomore trying to prove his worth with a new squad, and one lost sheep returning to the flock. So we’ll start with the veterans first, and work our way down and provide you some factoids on which to feast. TFS celebrity (part II) OhDaesu19 returns for his ninth season in the league looking to return to the glory days that saw him rubbing elbows at the top of the mountain. He once again takes control of Palermo, a team he has helmed for the past seven straight seasons, making him perhaps more of a David Moyes than a Sir Alex. Palermo’s offense centers around Fabrizio Miccoli and Josip Ilicic, who accounted for two-thirds of Palermo’s goals in season 8. The team continues its struggles in finding the back of the net, however, and left season 8 with a minus-15 goal-differential, something the manager knows he will have to turn around if he looks to begin his climb back up the ladder. Geneseo98 thought long and hard about leaving Genoa for Everton when the English managing spot became vacant – for about two seconds. Despite his loyalty to a club he’d managed for the past two seasons, that saw him score 54 goals, Geneseo opted to return to the club he was forced to leave after Season 6. Everton is, on paper, unquestioningly the most dangerous team in Serie C. Anchored by Tim Timminy, Tim Timminy, Tim Tim-Cheroo in net, the (normally) little brother of the Merseyside is the preseason favorite to lead the division in clean sheets. The back four are anchored by 80+ defenders Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines; the midfield boasts Steven Pienaar , Leon Osman and on the bench Kevin Mirallas and Phil Neville; and the attacking midfield/striking combination of the Belgian afro Marouane Fellaini and Nikica Jelavic makes this team and absolute four-star juggernaut. I’m glad I don’t have to face this squad. pitt4life21 is coming off of a season that can be described in many words, all of them bad. At the helm of SC Braga, his unfortunate freshman campaign saw our friend Pitt set or tie a number of dubious records in TFS history, including most losses (17), fewest points (0), worst goal differential (-40), most goals against (47) and fewest wins (0). But that was then and that was SC Braga. This is now and THIS. IS. SPARTAK. In the hands of the right manager, Spartak Moscow is a beast. In six seasons under four different managers, Spartak has averaged more than 41 goals per season (granted shiftee threw off that bell curve with 51 and 55 goals), but the team’s offensive potential is undeniable. It all starts at the front with Emmanuel Emenike: the Nigerian has 83 finishing, 86 shot power, 88 strength, 89 balance, 83 speed and 82 accelerating. He should single-handedly score more than SC Braga did last season. But they’re no one-trick pony. Andrey Dikan is solid between the pipes, Kim Kallstrom has vision, crossing and shot power, and Aiden McGeady should completely marshal the right side of the pitch. Look for pitt4life21 to improve on last season. But is a new team enough for promotion? And now we come to our wayward son, kaptainkracker1, whose rediscovery of 21st century technology has brought him home like a pigeon to roost. The manager played in TFS in seasons 1-4 and 6, spending two seasons in Serie B and three in Serie A. He was given the option of returning to Serie B, but instead decided to start at the bottom and work his way back up. In his five seasons in the league, kaptainkracker has a record of 40-20-37 against the toughest competition the league has to offer. Interestingly, he was lured into the always-has-to-be-managed-by-somebody club of Athletic Bilbao. Athletic Club still maintains the distinction of having been represented in every single TFS Season to date. Bilbao is one of the most heavily trafficked clubs in the league, now being led by its fifth sixth manager. The team has talent, with the much-sought Fernando Llorente at the front, who is scheduled to leave for Juventus in the summer. Whether that transfer interferes with the end of Season 9 remains to be seen, as EA’s transfers remain something of an enigma. Still, Los Leones still have Iker Muniain and Susaeta on the flanks and Iraizoz managing from the back. This is a good team and kaptainkracker1 is a good manager. It’s likely this is a short-term, one-season rental, but it could very well be the first step he needs in returning him to bigger and better. Our first newbie is actually pretty well-known to those of us who are proud to wear the colors of TF United (shout out to MiaFLSurf). bbrech0610 has waited patiently for season 8 to end so he can join our ranks and when he did, he chose an undeniable dark horse in the Italian side Atalanta, a club that has never before graced the table in TFS. As such, and because we have no previous stats on which to base an analysis, Atalanta is something of an unknown. They are definitely solid at the back in Andrea Consigli, but the defensive four could prove something of a concern. Their offense is powered by the Argentinian duo of Maximiliano Moralez and German Denis, and the Winter transfer pickup of Igor Budan from Palermo shouldn’t be overlooked. As is so often the case, a new manager with a new club means anything can happen – top of the table, bottom of the league or anywhere in between. A true wild card… The second of out six pack of babes in the woods is slicknick202, who has chosen the Greek Olympiakos, a team of mixed history at TFS. Olympiakos in its first two seasons in the league had an impressive record of 20-4-11, but then the owner mysteriously disappeared. When a subsequent owner took control in season 6, a disappointing 3-7-6 record was all he had to show for his efforts. Perhaps believing the club to be cursed, they have remained unclaimed ever since… until now. Drawing from its Mediterranean roots, Olympiakos starting XI boasts players from Greece, Algeria, Mali, Italy and Portugal. There’s very little flashy about the players themselves, but there’s not much weakness to be seen, either. Rafik Djebbour is quick at the front with good finishing; the midfield is solid, but unspectacular. If there’s a concern, it’s with the Northern Irish goaltender, whose 73 rating may be the lowest in Serie C. Olympiako’s final record will be entirely dependent on its manager, not the team. If slicknick202 can work his way to the top of the table with this club, watch out for him when he gets hit hands on something flashier. Next cometh Selvy9, another newcomer about whom we know next to nada. And he has chosen a team never once before seen in our midst in the form of Levante Union Deportiva Borussia Mönchengladbach. Selvy abandoned Levante after Obafemi Martins decided the legalized pot and hippie chicks of Seattle sounded better than the Mediterranean coast of Spain. B. Mönchengladbach has made two previous appearances in TFS - a truncated run in Season 5 and a full reason under rschwep in Season 6, where he took the Nordrhein-Westfalen squad to a record of 9-5-8. But gone are the Marco Reus days. Today, Die Fohlen rely on Dutch striker Luuk de Jong, whose lack of speed is more than made up by his footwork and finishing ability in and around the box, and his German partner Mike Hanke, who should head in more than a few. The Venezuelan left mid Juan Arango may be the most dangerous (and completely unknown) passer in the division, with 82 crossing, 83 short passing, 80 volleys, 81 vision, 82 long passing and 86 ball control. But if you just back off of him and look for him to dish it off, he will snipe you to death with his 85 shot power, 85 curve and 91 long shooting ability. Backed by the always solid Marc-Andre ter Stegen, I'd have to say Borussia Mönchengladbach is a sizable upgrade from the Spanish club (and incidentally, the only club I considered abandoning Stuttgart for). One of two managers brought to TFS by (*gulp*) Go Devils, WingedHelmet joins TFS from the leagues of Utopia. Hmmm… Winged Helmet of Utopia – sounds like a Dungeons & Dragons quest item… But I digress. According to the aforementioned Go Devils, @Winged Helmet is “WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY better than me.” Insert your own punchline here: _________________________________. Winged has opted for the recently vacated Portuguese side Sporting CP, recently managed by @IJ Gator. Gator did great things with the club, working his way back to Serie A after spending two seasons in the middle tier. Gator proved the team has manifold avenues of attack, scoring multiple goals with eight different players, led by the hilariously named striking Dutchman Ricky van Wolfswinkel. With Peruvian Andre Carillo on the right and Spaniard Diego Capel on the left wing, the attack of Sporting is undeniable. Rui Patricio is more than capable in the net and three of the back four are quite strong. In the hands of a capable manager, this team is capable of scoring 40 goals, or more. Keep an eye on this one. The other manager wrested from utopia by (*gulp*) Go Devils is Kella. Go Devils says Kella is “WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY better than me.” Insert your own different punchline here: _________________________________. Kella took West Bromwich Albion, the perennial middle-of-the-table English side. West Brom has been managed once in TFL by krtgolfing, and he took them to second place in Serie C, good enough for promotion. Krtgolfing has never been a scoring dynamo, so it’s hard to say what can be done with this team offensively. But defensively, he demonstrated they can be awfully stingy, allowing only 16 goals in 18 matches in Season 6. West Brom relies on the forever-on-loan-from-Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku for the bulk of its offense, but if you focus all of your attention on him, Shane Long will undoubtedly make you pay. Peter Odemwingie is another offensive threat, and he led the team in his only season in the league with 6 goals and 5 assists. Anchored by Ben Foster in the back, this simply is a team with no glaring holes. Its biggest weaknesses are at the LB and RB positions – if they can be exploited, you might find success. The last addition to the league is gyroman912, another tabula rasa as far as predictions are concerned. Gyroman joined the league after the draft had been completed, but wasted no time in jumping on Getafe FC of the La Liga, making me wonder if he saw something others had missed. On paper, there’s little about Getafe to make you turn your head: Striker Adrian Colunga doesn’t have a lot of speed, but his balance, reactions and agility could make him a nuisance in the penalty area; midfielders Abdelaziz Berrada, Diego Castro , Xavi “He Has to be Better Than Fernando” Torres and Pedro Leon are a solid core, none of whom rate below 76. Again, there’s nothing about this club that makes you go “wow!” Neither is there anything that makes you shake your head in wonder. History has shown a decent club with an above-average manager could lead to promotion. But a decent club with a manager who struggles leads to frustration.