Season 4 Review - 2014/2015
Where did it all go wrong? I'm still not really sure. It was a similar story to the first season - we began in terrific fashion, destroying the rest of the league and sitting 6 points clear at the top of the table. Then, a bizarre situation arose. 6 of my best players were called up to the Indonesian national team, and stayed there for over a month even though no matches were being played. I didn't have enough players to fill my bench sometimes, and even wound up using grey players.
Bizarrely though, the team was excellent. For that period, we won 6 games, drew 2, and lost one. Once the international players arrived back, fresh from their 3 week rest, we were useless. We lost two games in a row, then drew. Jhon van Beukering, my best striker in Munawar's absence, managed to go 28 hours without scoring.
Talking of Munawar, remember his 3 month injury? Well, it actually took him out of the equation for well over 4 months. With him having the highest average rating in the team, it's no surprise that it hurt my scoring abilities.
I'm still not 100% sure what the cause of the collapse in form was, but I suspect it's related to the small squad. There's no pressure on the players to perform - when they play badly, I can scarcely drop them. Furthermore, they suffer from jadedness pretty badly by the end. After I left, the new manager brought some excellent form out of them, so I know I've built a good squad but they just don't have anything like the mental fortitude needed to actually hold it together.
I was tempted to stay and try to crack the Champions League, but I thought it was best to call it a day. The financial situation was still horrific, the squad was far too small and there was no hope of increasing its size. Furthermore, the bugs were really beginning to frustrate me. The other teams were strengthening with foreign players they shouldn't have had, mine spent 3 weeks on international duty when no matches were being played, and it felt as though nearly every club was slowly going bankrupt. Going back to a league which wasn't suffering from these bugs seemed like a no-brainer when it became increasingly frustrating. Ultimately it was a bit of a rage-quit, but I don't regret it - I'd promised the board 1st place, and there was no hope of achieving it. What else could I do?
I'm still very interested in the careers of Munawar, Keltjes, Fauzi and Kurniawan as I think they're excellent players with big futures, but sadly I'll have to follow them from a distance now.
Out of the frying pan, into the fire. Teramo are in a terrible state. When I arrived, they were one point from the relegation spots with five games remaining. They had no staff other than one scout and one physio, were over £350k in debt, and around 50% over their wage budget.
I am unable to meet the wage requirements of a single member of staff (all of them want more than the board will let me offer), so I was stuck with the one scout and one physio. The squad were deflated, and the form of most of the players was appalling, some with an average of around 6.1. So, what happened?
In the first game, we had a crucial match against the bottom-placed team Cosenza. My squad were really up for it after a bit of pre-match encouragement, and we completely outplayed them, restricting them to just one shot on target. An easy 2-0 victory secured us a 4 point lead over the relegation places. Our next game saw us play 3rd placed Messina, and the media had us down for a thrashing. We had some great chances, but ultimately lost the game 1-0. I was pleased with the performance though, and the players were apparently equally pleased. Of course though, good performances mean little at the end of the season. Our next game, away against AlzanoCene would be crucial - they sat in the playoff places, and again we were down for a thrashing. Thankfully, the players built on their previous match, and responded in style. Again, we turned in an excellent performance, but this time we got the goals as well, beating them 3-0. From this point, it was obvious that we would be safe. The 6 points gained had brought us into the clear, and despite losing the next two games were still sat 2 points clear of relegation playoffs.
Finances - We've lost a lot of money this season, but if I can slash the wage costs you never know - we might just rebuild our finances.
It may not have been scintillating stuff for the last 5 games, but it was exactly what was required. We're still in the league, and next season we can revamp and rebuild.
It certainly won't be easy though. We need to cut salaries drastically, I can't sign any staff at the moment (so I have no idea of any player's potential), and the club is heavily in debt. I've managed to get a player/assistant manager, since I have more flexibility with players' wages, but he won't arrive until the end of his previous contract in the summer, and until he arrives it's going to be difficult to know exactly where I stand. Thankfully I have one scout, so I can start looking for new players but it'll be a very slow process.
Should I have stayed at Port Talbot? Probably, but it's been an interesting experience that I wouldn't have had there. And you never know, I might be able to turn things around at Teramo.