It’s taken me a while to get round to finishing the fourth season in Kyiv. If I’m honest, I think I was still a little bit disappointed we didn’t win the Champions League last season, but that would’ve been a miracle if I’m totally honest with myself. It was one of my initial goals to get to a Champions League final within 5 seasons and I achieved that. I didn’t have to win it, just get there.
At the start of the season I was quite happy with my squad. I was maybe looking for some youth or an outstanding player, but there wasn’t any real need to strengthen. I looked around for a new striker as my plan to convert Liam Henderson into a striker just wasn’t working out as planned. He got a few goals, but he wasn’t as clinical as I wanted him to be if Zozulya got injured again. Newcastle were willing to take him off of my hands and I made a £1.5m profit on him. He still has a lot of growth in him so I was happy to let him go and realise his potential elsewhere. Paul Anton, a summer signing the previous summer was a bit of a moaner and wanted a big new contract. He only played 18 games and hadn’t done enough for me. I listed him and off he went to Feyenoord.
Due to my success in the League and Champions League the previous year, the board gave me a decent transfer kitty. We were miles under our weekly wage budget and it was then that I spied a player of great interest. I love signing young players and his attributes were perfect for us. Step up Maximilian Pronichev. I initially thought he was an amazing regen, 19 years old with lots of potential. I was wrong. I don’t believe I got a screenshot of him at the start of the season, but I do have one of him at the end of it, which I’ll post further down. I paid £18m + add ons for him which made the deal worth about £21m. A lot of money for us, but I made sure we could afford it.
As always, the season started with a defeat in the Supercup, a competition I failed to win at four attempts, but I’m not bitter.. no, not me! Metalist did us 1-0, a 2nd minute goal and then a backs-to-the-walls job for the other 88minutes. I was stubborn and didn’t adjust our style, so we lost. Boo hoo. (I am quite annoyed we never won this cup!)
Anyway, the goal this season again was to fight for the title, make it through the group stage in the Champions League and do well in the cup. I’ll start with the league and go on from there.
The league was what I wanted the most. Shakhtar and Dnipro had gone through managerial changes and lost some important players over the summer. Metalist had been picking things up so if we played well and got good results against these teams, we’d be in with a should. Being top at the winter break was the first aim. By that point there’s only 8 games left, so it’s more or less in your hands.
We were in great form at the start of the season. We took 21 points from 21, scoring 26 goals and conceding none (zero). The game against Shakhtar was the first goal we conceded. We then continued on and won 8 more games on the trot, only conceding once before a 0-0 bore draw against Metalist. We finished off the first part of the season with a 3-0 victory over Vorskla that put us 11 points clear going into Winter. Metalist matched our record for the first 12 games, but fell away a bit after that.
When the season restarts, I always find that we take a few games to get back into our rhythm. This time, we didn’t have a problem. Pronichev was banging them in, 6 goals in three games, including one in the 2-1 victory over Shakhtar, kept the momentum going from earlier in the season. By the time we played Metalurg Zp, we only needed to draw to clinch the title. A great display saw us wrap that one up 4-0.
By this point I was getting excited, an invincible season is always great, I’ve done it once at Inter Milan (I’m sure it’s on one of my older FM14 blog posts) and it was genuinely on here. Towards the end of the season, there’s a break for the cup games for five weeks. Admittedly, a long wait if you’re out of the cups.
Chornomorets were our final opponents. A draw would do, but a win is always nice. In the 9th minute, we went ahead with a nice finish from Sergiy Sydorchuk who was having a fine season. Three minutes later they’d clawed one back. It thought we were going to crumble and do that typical FM thing where the players think “we’ve won the league, no need to try anymore” but on the 32nd minute, Bezus smashed another great goal in and we were back in front. We had to hold out for an hour, there was some scary defending at times, but we held out and finished the season undefeated.
Impressively, we only conceded one goal at home the whole season and only conceded four goals in total. Just looking at the league records, the last time we lost in the league was the 23rd of October 2016. We’ve got 41 league games without defeat, winning 35 and drawing 6. This has been my best league record with any team on FM. That 9-0 victory is also a league record.
The Champions League was a bit kinder to us this year. Due to making the final last season, we were seeded in the second pot. Bayern Munich, BATE and Anderlecht were our opponents. After drawing the first two games, I thought we were going to struggle to get out of the group. A win and a defeat against BATE didn’t do much to change my mind on that either. I desperately needed a win against Anderlecht to give us a chance and win we did, 2-0. For some reason, we’d already qualified, despite us being only 3 points ahead and the final game still to go. The goal difference was still manageable if Anderlecht won and we lost by a few goals again Bayern. Somehow, we won though, 2-1 against Bayern, I was shouting at my computer!
After the Winter break, the first games we play are the knockout games of the Champions League. We were drawn with Sporting. I was aiming for Quarter Finals, but anything after the group stage is a bonus. We were brilliant against Sporting winning both legs for a 4-1 aggregate score. Liverpool were the prize and I knew it was going to be tough. They outplayed us in both games. We went down to 10 men in the first match and somehow clawed an equaliser but at Anfield, they were dominant. They played a diamond with Sterling behind Balotelli and Vietto, we weren’t equipped for their movement. 2-0 was flattering for us to say the least. Another decent campaign all the same though.
The cup was almost over before it started. I won it twice in the first three years. I always play my squad players in the cup as the schedule gets really packed. Desna gave us a right scare when they beat us 3-0. We were terrible. Everyone played bad. I played a similar team in the second leg and we managed to turn it round to a 5-3 aggregate victory. Phew! Poltava were next, they already knocked Shakhtar out so we needed another good performance to get past them. Chornomorets went ahead three times in the first leg only to be pegged back each time. At home, they were no match for us, 9-3 aggregate victory.
Dnipro is always a tough game, but they really didn’t keep up with the pace this season. They finished 5th in the league, so they really needed to get this to make up for their terrible league form. But I wasn’t going to lie down. I mixed up the squad players and the first teamers for this game due to injuries and we came out on top 2-0 to tie up the double. We’ve won this on three out of four attempts… unlike that stupid Supercup!
The players had a great season, they really hit form and performed great. Zivkovic, Pronichev and Yarmolenko all had outstanding seasons. Sydorchuk had his best ever season and Zozulya was still full of goals. Domen Crnigoj struggled for consistency despite playing a lot of games. Yarmolenko won club player of the year again.
At the winter break, I’d decided that this would be my last season at Kyiv. I’d become too dominant and was looking for a new challenge. Clubs had made me offers and I don’t think I’d have a better league season than this one.
A lot of people have retweeted this blog on Twitter and I’d just like to thank everyone for that, I really appreciate it. I’ll be continuing on in this save and I’ll update with that in due course.
I previously did a blog post about my tactic which you can take a look at if you see fit. It’ll give you an idea of how we played here. If you want to ask any questions about players I’ve had here, please leave a comment or catch me on Twitter.