Season 11 - 2020/21 Berwick Rangers
After the success of winning the SPL and Scottish Cup, expectations were raised by the Board. They wanted us to challenge for the title, semi-final for the domestic cups and group stages of the Champions League. Media prediction was for us to finish 1st. Title odds were at 5-2, joint favourites with money-bags Dundee United. Basically, success was expected and, for the first time, we were not going to be the underdogs. Season tickets increased up to 2500.
Facilities - The board have agreed to expand the stadium, the youth recruitment network and the training facilities. The planning stages will take all season, so the improvements will not be seen until next season at the earliest.
Finances - Champions League revenue really helping here. We're considered rich now but club value still not as high as Old Firm.
Wage Budget - Looking good here
Transfer Summary - Needed to bring in some youngsters to satisfy the 'Age Restrictions' for the SPL and Champions League. Raided my parent club Real Madrid for 3 promising youngsters.
Alex Lundgren (500k) - Young goalkeeper bought from FC Midtjylland. Hopefully, will be a decent back-up and should be pushing for first team action in a couple of seasons.
Daniel (1.4m) - Young CB signed from Real Madrid. Potential.
Eugenio Grillo (700k) - Young Aussie CB from Sydney FC. Good height and jumping so should be a threat at set-pieces.
Champions League - Group Stages (3rd)
We certainly didn't embarrass ourselves this year. The highlight result of the season was the 2-1 victory over Real Madrid at Shielfield Park. A close 2nd was the 1-0 win in Istanbul against Fenerbahce. These results meant we finished a respectable 3rd in the group and qualified to the Europa League knockout stages. (We only lost 2-0 in Madrid this year too!)
Europa League - 1st Knockout Round
Unfortunately, we didn't last very long in competition. The 3-1 agg defeat against Zenit St Petersburg signaled our exit from the competition and the start of a downward spiral that would last til the end of the season.
SPL - 2nd
We started by beating Dunfermline 6-0 in the opening game, scoring goals for fun and in great form, we didn't lose a game until November. By the half-way stage, Rangers and ourselves had pulled away from the rest of the pack with surprise-package St Mirren doing well too. Dundee Utd's title challenge never materialised but Rangers had a resurgence under new manager Ally McCoist to recover from the 6th position they finished last year. We started to lose our way come February, had a big drop in form, and morale never really recovered which put an end to our title challenge (we lost out by 2 points).
We also had the distraction of a board takeover that was in negotiations all season. The takeover never went through, but the chairman is still looking to leave.
Co-op Insurance Cup - Semi Final
Rangers beat us 4-2 on penalties at a snowy Hampden Park. We should have done better as they went down to 10 men after 65 minutes. My players don't seem to have the same hunger for success as they did previously.
Scottish Cup - Semi Final
Our defence of our trophy was ended by Celtic 4-3 AET. We were 3-1 up at half-time. The rest of the match was torture as we pressed the self-destruct button and handed them victory with a 107th minute penalty.
Domingo - Had an average season by his standards but still scored 22 goals in all competitions. Will need to get him firing on all cylinders next season.
Alessandro Caputo - Relieved of his corners taking duties. Still had a decent enough season to be voted Fans POTY. Quite a few clubs sniffing around now.
Stuart Armstrong - Chipped in with 10 goals and 10 assists from midfield. Leaving on a free to Fulham in the summer. Will miss Mr Consistency.
Tomas Rodriguez - Started the season on fire but lost confidence in the new year. Might flog him in the summer if get a decent offer of +£3m.
Khalid Yilmaz - 17 assist, mainly from set-pieces, and 7 useful goals from midfield.
Luca Ruggeri - 13 goals and 14 assists but temperamental and inconsistent. Outrageous demands for new contract so going to sell in the summer.
Team of the Year
Overall Best 11
Champions League : Group Stage (3rd Place)
Europa League : 1st Knockout Round (1-3 vs Zenit St Petersburg)
SPL : 2nd (25-6-7 +50 81)
Co-op Insurance Cup : Semi-Final (2-4 on pens vs Rangers)
Scottish Cup : Semi-Final (3-4 AET vs Celtic)
A bit disappointed to end the season trophy-less. On another day, with a bit more luck, it was perceivable that we could have won a domestic treble. I reckon I will get a decent transfer budget in the summer so will want to strengthen the team to get back in contention for honours again next season. I'll be losing a couple of players on frees over the summer, so will need a CB, MC and a FC to strengthen the core of the team. We will also need to overcome the qualifying rounds of the Champions League, as by finishing 2nd we do not automatically qualify for the group stage. Up to 57th in the UEFA club rankings too.
The takeover saga is still continuing in the background as a slight distraction. There was a mention that the new chairman would be looking to install a new manager; I will be seriously peeved if that is the case. I will be also be interested to see what the new owners will do with the facilities at Shielfield Park. We sold out 16 home fixtures this season with an average of 8207 so demand is definitely growing. I've signed a 3 year contract extension so I'll be difficult to sack now!