11 June 2018
The season began with déjà vu. Another meeting was called, this time by Tim Ream, one of my team leaders, to discuss concerns about the dressing room atmosphere. Looking at the squad dynamics there’s good managerial support overall but even after a great first season it seems a few players are still holding a grudge from earlier issues and may need to be moved on. Ryan Fredericks and Ibrahima Cissé are both complaining about new contracts (sorry lads, you’ve got plenty of time left on your current deals) and their demeanor is hurting the group. For now though, they’ll be with us until January at the least.
Being our first season back in the Premier League we’re likely to struggle and continuing our attacking style of football seemed a little suicidal. Being pragmatic, I canned our attacking philosophy with the board’s approval. Once we’ve established ourselves in the league I’ll look to bring that style back in play. We’ll still look to attack on occasion but our go to tactic will be the 4-5-1 counter attacking tactic, since we’re likely to struggle with possession.
Worryingly, we started our campaign with three league defeats in a row. Brentford, our local rivals, were in the same predicament when we met at Craven Cottage in what you could have labelled the clash of the zeroes! We went down to ten men after 31 minutes when Ream received a second booking but we managed to soldier on. 2-0! A massive victory to set us on our way.
Having beaten West Ham in a cup game just before the Brentford match, we completed an early double over the hammers to secure our second league win. Two wins in our our first six league fixtures put us in 13th place and just two points clear of the relegation zone. Five goals in five games for on loan Solanke we’re key during that period.
October and November saw us hit a real slump as we failed to register a single league win. A trip to Brighton was the first of a run of winnable games in December. Sitting in 15th, just two points above the drop zone, I tried to give the lads a boost by scheduling a passionate team meeting. Wins over Brighton, Swansea, Newcastle and Burnley followed and sent us upto a mid-table place and well clear of the relegation zone.
This led us onto the January transfer window – we needed to make some big moves to boost our survival hopes.
It was a majorly important transfer window for both in-coming and out-going transfers. We needed to improve the dressing room atmosphere and improve the quality in the squad as well.
China came to our rescue by taking away our unhappy players; Cissé and Ream both left for East Asia and Federicks was moved on to Southampton.
We made some outstanding signings. Right back, Bauer, was a straight replacement for Fredericks, with Andrew Greig coming in as cover for a bargin £13K! (now worth £6M). Ajer was our big money signing and adds a star player to the defense, he replaces Ream. Matty James gave us another engine in midfield for when we needed to rotate but the star signings came in further up the field.
Loan deals for Ødegaard and Barbosa – I’m still a little mesmerized that we were able to get these two in and I was particularly excited to have Barbosa in the squad.
The January transfer window gave us the boost we needed. Gabriel Barbosa had a goalscoring debut in our local derby against Brentford. We hadn’t won a game in 5 attempts so it was a much needed win and it propelled us into a decent run of form at the end of January.
Sometimes played as a lone striker and sometimes as an inside forward, Barbosa managed eight goals from fifteen starts and was pivotal to us finishing the campaign in a comfortable mid-table position. A 5-2 defeat to Spurs on the final day shows that we’ve still got a long way to go if we want to compete at the top, but it’s a fantastic achievement to have beaten the drop so comfortably.
We received £22.31M for finishing 9th and now have a really healthy bank balance, around £80M to spend, which bodes well for my plans to strengthen further.
Aston Villa and Brentford, who came up with last season were relegated along with Watford. I’m a little disappointing to see Brentford go down. We’ve lost a local derby and our league double over them provided springboards for key spells of form. Coming up from the Championship will be Southampton, Wolves and Huddersfield.
With the likes of Barbosa, Mayoral, Ødegaard and Sancho still on loan I made a conscious decision to try and bolster the defense. We’ve also been able to tie McTominay down to a permanent transfer. A few younger players have joined the ranks too, some of whom will likely be loaned out to aid their development. The signings of Konsa and Gunn mean that we have a couple more young domestic players in the squad too.
The big money transfer was £10M for Adama Traora – I’m hoping his electric pace will cause havoc to premiership defenses this season.
|Adama Traore||Right Winger||£10M|
|Scott McTominay||Central Midfielder||£5.75M|
|Filippo Romagna||Central Defender||£5.5M|
|Ezri Konsa||Central Defender||£5.5M|
|William||Right Full Back||£3.6M|
Building on the success of this season we’ll be looking for another top half finish in order to establish ourselves in the Premier League. We’ll be pushing for a continental spot, though we’ll be an outside bet.
Series: The Cottage Life
I think it's important to set out some targets for any new save on Football Manager, to give you something to aim for and give the series a purpose. I find it more enjoyable that way! These targets will be visible on all posts within the series and will be updated as we go along. The aim of course is to tick off as many of these as possible.