Usually by now, I’m getting bored of a save. I have had flashes of boredom, but I feel like there’s still lots to achieve. The youth project is coming along nicely and the dream of getting a new stadium is still alive. The chairman is trying to sell the club at the moment, which is getting frustrating as bidders come and go, but I think I should manage to hold onto my job.
This summer we really cashed in on players. I guess I’ve sort of done a bit of ‘Moneyball’ in this save, signing good players at low prices, getting good performances out of them and then selling them for a huge profit.
We made £107m in sales this year. I wasn’t planning to sell some of these guys, but when a big offer comes in, I’ve said in the past, I won’t reject it. Big players that left were Hirving Lozano, Walace, Björn Engels and Almamy Touré. A couple of younger players left, but they were down the pecking order and were never real long term options for the team.
As I mentioned in my post about the youth players, I promoted a lot of youngsters this year and thus, I signed very few players in the summer. In fact, I signed two players in each window.
First up was Fikret Köksal from Rennes for £17m. My biggest signing, but definitely a good French youngster. He’s to play on the left side of my midfield as a Wide Playmaker. When he joined, he wasn’t very suited to that role, but with training, he’s come along nicely.
Next up was Jeando Fuchs from Benfica for £5.5m. With Touré leaving, I needed a new right back and he fitted the bill well. I wanted someone with a bit of experience and I thought I’d find his versatility useful.
In January, I made two signings. Marko Grujic was a player I was tracking for a few years. I talked myself out of signing him a couple of times, but I really needed some experience in midfield. He can fill either the deep lying playmaker or box to box role with ease. With his personality type and his age, he’s also a good tutoring option for the young guns coming through. He did cost me £10m, which annoyed me, as if I’d bought him in the summer, I could have bought him for £5m.
My final transfer is my replacement for Mammana. He’s likely to leave this summer as teams have been bidding for him and he’s unsettled. I found this guy thanks to my scouting team. I was less bothered about his ability to play out from the back than I normally would be. Solís, is tall, strong and quick. He’s got 21 caps for Peru and has a lot of experience in the Brazilian top flight. He cost me just £4m. A bargain I think. He will be my experienced defender and my other centre back role will rotate with Ayyouch and Makadji.
This year we finally hit top spot with all of our training and youth facilities. Obviously as the game progresses, we’ll have to work on these again in the future, but I’m hopeful that with the coaching team and the facilities, we should have a lot of star players passing through here.
The chairman put the club up for sale last season and as yet, there’s been no real movement on that. We had two offers that fell through almost immediately due to lack of funds. At time of writing, the club is under offer again, but lots of news items keep appearing telling me that he lacks the funds to carry out the deal.
The new stadium mission has taken a back seat right now. I don’t think I’ll be able to request a new stadium while the chairman is looking to sell. However, we are still pushing in the right direction. Season ticket sales have now reached nearly 14,500, up again from last year. We’ve also been averaging nearly 21,000 spectators per game(capacity is 21,379). Perhaps a new chairman will ride in, see that we need a bigger stadium and put it on his “to do” list.
Time will tell on that, we’ve certainly got the funds though. With all the sales, we should make a massive profit this season and have over £100m in the bank. Not enough for a whole stadium, but it would certainly be a good start.
We started the season with a 2-0 defeat to PSG in the Super Cup, two second half goals killed us off. At least Berardi didn’t score!
In the Champions League we played Rangers in a play-off. We drew 0-0 in Glasgow before winning 3-1 at home. We were drawn in a group with Dinamo, Tottenham and Juventus. I gave us zero chance of qualifying. A couple of good performances were had though. Notably the 5-1 drubbing of Dinamo, a respectful 1-1 with Juventus and a 2-1 victory over Tottenham. We did however get humiliated in London as we lost 5-1. We finished the group in 3rd place and grabbed a place in the Europa League knockout stage.
First up were Dynamo Kiev, 3-2 aggregate victory saw us through to the next round. Europa League specialists, Sevilla, were the opponents. We beat them 2-0 at home and in Spain they trounced us 3-0.
The Coupe de France, which we won last year, was a non-event, being knocked out at the round we entered, losing 3-0 to Clermont.
In the Coupe de la Ligue, we were a bit more involved this season. We scraped by Nice on penalties. We met Clermont in this cup too, but sent them out with a 2-0 victory. We got a tougher game in the Semi Final with Marseille, I played a bit of a stronger team, it was all over by half time though as we won 4-0. Ligue 2 Amiens stood in our way of winning the cup. They defended like lions, really well organised. They took us to extra time, but Noah Vigier popped up with a 93rd minute header to secure the game and our first Coupe de la Ligue. I’ve got the full French set now!
Ligue 1 was really interesting this season. Marseille had a tycoon takeover that pumped money into the club. Lyon were on the rise and PSG, well… they just spend money for fun.
We had a strange start, we weren’t conceding, although scoring was also a problem. Once we shifted into gear, we were on our way. Defensive performances really improved this season and clean sheets were commonplace, not conceding in 24 games.
The little spell in November was painful and it was likely that it cost us the title. Drawing in one of those games would’ve won it for us. I can’t complain as we were still very competitive in the league and we really pushed PSG to the wire. Their superior goal difference swung it their way in the end.
The new signings I made were good. Fuchs was an assured performer at right back. Köksal had a couple of injuries, one for 4months when he broke his foot, but 7 goals and 7 assists was adequate. Grujic and Solis both came in during the January window and slotted in well. Really happy with the signings I made this season.
Out of the youngsters, Raynaud and Prol really made significant steps in their development. Both are first team regulars now and are really helping the team. Vigier had a good season, scoring 10 goals from centre midfield. Fabre had a more significant role this season and did a solid job when called upon.
It was another really good season. Winning a cup obviously being a high, but missing out on the league by 3 goals was a stinker. But when you consider our net spend over my reign at the club in comparison to other teams in the league, we’re doing superbly. We’ve spent £157m in 7 seasons and received £334m. I guess I hadn’t really considered that side of things until now, it’s really helped the growth of the team off the pitch.
In the previous blog, I said that only the top two get into the Champions League next season, but I think I may have misunderstood the message. Will need to keep an eye on that next year.
I’ll be aiming for top three again next year. It would be great if we could push on and get through to the quarter finals of the Champions League or the Europa League if we drop into that. A trophy would be good, but it wouldn’t be a failure of a season if that didn’t happen.
On the transfer front, I’m likely to dip my toe in, but I’m looking for certain players to fill certain roles now and I’ll likely only make a move for someone who can really push us on.
Thanks again for continuing to read. Appreciated as always.