Moving from Ukraine to England wasn’t really my initial plan, I had planned to stay in Ukraine for a long time, but I was walking the league. With Arsenal finishing so poorly in the 2017/18 season, it seemed like the right step for me to take in my management career. As I said in my previous post, I overhauled the squad and did a big fire sale. In January I added two more players to my team. I signed John Stones from Everton to bolster the backline. I decided to bring in a player that I’d used at Kyiv with Domen Crnigoj joining to challenge for the attacking midfielder slot.
The season started off with a European Super Cup win over Liverpool, finally I won a Super Cup! Boom!
It took me a couple of months to get happy with my tactics. Player roles and team instructions took a little while for me to settle on them. We had some great form in the league, but some pretty frustrating results towards the end of the season. One of the highlights was a 5-3 defeat of Liverpool. We were 3-1 down at half-time, but we played brilliantly in the second half to win the match.
We had great results against Chelsea, Tottenham and Cardiff. Towards the end of the season, I thought we struggled to get hold of games and really control them. I’ll need to consider my tactical plans this year and may switch to a diamond as I’m not 100% on the three man defence just now.
We finished 4th in the league which was above our media prediction of fifth. Draws cost us a lot of points, a couple of those converted to wins and we’d be in there with a chance of the title.
In the Champions League we were handed a group with Real Madrid, AC Milan and Hertha BSC. Not the easiest group, but we battled through it and picked up an impressive 3-0 victory at the Bernabeu. They totally battered us all over the pitch, if you looked at the stats you’d say it was all one way traffic. It totally was, but it was an impressive counter attacking display. The kind of result that had it been reversed, I’d have smashed my computer into smithereens!
After the group stage we overturned a 3-2 defeat against Juventus to win 4-3 on aggregate and it was after that, that the inevitable happened.
A return to my old stomping ground in Kyiv. They were doing very poorly in the league, but had done well in Europe. The new manager had brought in a new style and the squad I’d assembled had lost its biggest stars. A 1-1 at Olympiyskyi followed by a 4-0 thrashing of them at the Emirates ended their chances of progression. No love lost, we were into the semis. The draw was always going to be tough, PSG were our opponents and they smashed us. We weren’t even on the same planet, never mind the same pitch! 0-0 and 4-1 sent us out.
In the domestic cups, we made it to the 6th round of the FA Cup being put out by Chelsea and in the Capital One Cup, Liverpool knocked us out in the Quarter Final.
On the player side of things, we had some very impressive displays and some great form over the course of the season. Victor Fischer was outstanding for us. I really doubted that I’d fit him into my system, but I’m so glad I did. He scored 20, created 17 and was responsible for 155 key passes. Domen Crnigoj also did great in the AM role with 7 goals, 7 assists in 11 starts with 62 key passes.
Up top my three strikers were on fire with 79 goals between them. Welbeck was our top scorer with 31 followed by Miller on 28 and Fierro on 20. The real surprise here was that Miller got so many. I’d signed him with the view to blooding him in cup games as one for the future, but his form left me with no choice but to drop Welbeck who was playing terrible at the start of the season. He scored almost twice as many in this one season as he had in the entirety of his career.
I decided the best way to show how to visualise my strikers performances over the season was to use the radars that Ed had made up to use with FM. Here’s the comparison.
It’s interesting to see the differences. Although Fierro scored 20 goals, I saw him as more of a creator or someone who would pull defenders out of position to open spaces up. Welbeck’s graph is crazy good and at 21, Miller’s is also excellent.
This summer I need to buy a couple of new players. A centre back is a must to try and plug the backline and add some experience. I’m considering a new left back and the possibility of a new goalkeeper. I’ll need to get some new staff in as the board have been being a bit stubborn about the old “stick with the same staff” rule. I’ve finally gotten rid of my assistant manager and taken Jaap Stam in alongside me. Hopefully this will be a long term partnership now.
On to season 2! Adios!