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My First Career Thread - The Flying Donkeys


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Congrats on another season in Serie A :thup:

Real skin of the teeth stuff that survival this season was. Great work, though at times could not tell if you where going to or not.

Does this wipe out the debt? I don’t imagine the transfer kitty will be big or anything if this does. Could be under-guessing this though. Big post and pre seasons you’ve got now.

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1 hour ago, Sonic Youth said:

Congrats on another season in Serie A :thup:

Real skin of the teeth stuff that survival this season was. Great work, though at times could not tell if you where going to or not.

Does this wipe out the debt? I don’t imagine the transfer kitty will be big or anything if this does. Could be under-guessing this though. Big post and pre seasons you’ve got now.

Thanks pal! 

Haha, you and me both! Just when I thought I was a goner, I'd pull a result out of the bag and then would do the same the other way.

It's a case of waiting and seeing what the board decide to do about next year's finances at the moment. We are sitting pretty with a balance of £26m, but the debt still stands, so as you say it could go either way. They'll either wipe out the debt but leave little in the budgets, or back me a bit more in the market whilst continuing to pay off the existing debt.

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BUDGET UPDATE!

 

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So it turns out the board are just going to continue with the monthly payment plan on the debt and fund an attempt to avoid such a stressful relegation scrap for next season. It's going to take some wheeling and dealing to improve the squad with my reputation still just 1 and a half star, but the board have faith in me and have backed it up with a new 3 year contract. Time to start building on the foundations that we've laid in the past 2 seasons.

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Just now, MattyLewis11 said:

Congratulations on staying up, what an epic way to finish the season...you well and truly took it to the wire! 

What are your plans during the off season in terms of key areas of recruitment? 

Thanks @MattyLewis11!

A commanding first choice CB is a must and I want a first choice Striker. I rotated Fabbro, Rovaglia and Tjaland as none of them are good enough (Fabbro) or experienced enough in the latter 2's cases to hold down a starting position as a ST in Serie A. 

I'd also like to bring in a better LB. This summer's aim is all about improving the first 11. If I can bring in a LB, CB and ST who are all clearly good enough to start in those positions rather than being rotation options, I'll be happy. I'll then see what's left of our budgets to see if I can bring in some useful squad additions.

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Summer Struggles:

With just 12 days until we play Inter at home in the opening game of the 2022/2023 season, this is how the squad looks:

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Luigi Canotto joined Entella for £1m, whilst Di Gaudio and Di Noia were released. Tutino's loan from Napoli wasn't made permanent and young defenders Cavar and Pavlev have gone out on loan. 

Whilst I was happy for all of the above to make way from the squad, it's the incomings that are proving most difficult. I made a promise to myself that I wanted to sign players this summer that would only improve the first 11 initially, with us maybe bringing in 1 or 2 bargains later on in the window to boost squad depth.

We agreed a deal with Fiorentina for Luca Ranieri, with the youngster agreeing terms on being our first choice LB.  However, the Italian decided to sign for Dusseldorf instead. Not to worry, we managed to agree terms with our 2nd choice, Tommaso Augello of Sampdoria, but then he decided to sign for Fiorentina as Ranieri's replacement :seagull:

We've been knocked back by a few other targets, whilst other options have set their wage expectations higher than what I'm willing to pay (keeping in mind our biggest earner is Semper on £10k p/w, although Segre is currently negotiating a new contract that will see him become our biggest earner). I think this is where my low reputation of just 1 and a half stars is coming back to bite me.

We really need to get 3/4 players in the door, but sticking to my DNA ideology of young Italian's is proving really tough. I may have to look elsewhere for this season to ensure we stay in the league again this season. 

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I feel your pain with trying to build a homegrown team when there are bigger wages at other clubs!

Hopefully you will find a LB!

Also you have a real problem getting quality players when your big keep the better players in their reserves and sell their best Italian talents to foreign suitors.....Premier League cough cough!

And if you are blessed with a good to great player from your youth ranks or sneak one past them from a lower league team. Expect them to swoop in like Vultures lowballing you until you sell of player leaves on a free.

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Hmm, I’m not sure where your D starts and your amid begins etc :(

Also looks threadbare, and maybe a season for the youth team in the cups :eek:

Is the 12 days until the end of the transfer window as well?

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14 hours ago, MattyLewis11 said:

Ahh the Ranieri roundabout! 

Elia Petrelli was an absolute beast for me in FM20, however not sure what he is like in this version.

In relation to a LB have you looked at Petretta from Basel? 

 

 

He's not bad, have added him to my shortlist. As for Petretta, I had scouted him but I was put off by his lack of jumping reach. I'm looking to try and build a Pulis-Style defence in that all 4 will be good in the air to try and stop the flow of goals from crosses/set pieces.

10 hours ago, Hootieleece said:

I feel your pain with trying to build a homegrown team when there are bigger wages at other clubs!

Hopefully you will find a LB!

Also you have a real problem getting quality players when your big keep the better players in their reserves and sell their best Italian talents to foreign suitors.....Premier League cough cough!

And if you are blessed with a good to great player from your youth ranks or sneak one past them from a lower league team. Expect them to swoop in like Vultures lowballing you until you sell of player leaves on a free.

Indeed! It's definitely proving difficult and then it's leaving me with a pool of average HG players to chose from. I'm looking at bringing in fringe/squad players at other clubs and turning them in to starters for us, as per Jacopo Segre did for us from Torino last season.

1 hour ago, Sonic Youth said:

Hmm, I’m not sure where your D starts and your amid begins etc :(

Also looks threadbare, and maybe a season for the youth team in the cups :eek:

Is the 12 days until the end of the transfer window as well?

It's very threadbare! I can understand Wayne Rooney's current pain with Derby. 

No thankfully the window doesn't close until the end of August so a load of time left with that. I do like to get the players in early though to give them time to gel and with us having to play the likes of Inter, Torino, Sassuolo and Napoli in our opening 5 fixtures, I could really do with strengthening ASAP!

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Summer Transfer Window 2022/2023

I'm not going to lie, at one point during the summer I was worried we weren't going to bring any new faces in. The start of the window definitely proved to be tougher than the latter stages and we managed to get some deals done. Last season was a mixed bag of squad fillers and players with potential, with us bringing in numbers to help us fight for survival on a low budget. This summer, I wanted to use our bigger budget of £11m to try and bring in players initially, that can walk straight in to our first 11. First priority was at centre back:

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With none of my current squad standing above 6 ft 2, I was looking for that little bit of extra height and aerial prowess. Buongiorno was someone I had enquired about last summer, but he made the switch to Leicester instead for £1.5m. He made 1 league appearance for the Foxes and was loan listed for the remainder of the season. After a few initial scouting assignments and enquiries, I was surprised that Leicester were willing to sell him instantly for a small profit, so I agreed a £2m fee, with £1.4m being paid upfront. A monster in the air, great positioning and anticipation and a young Italian, I couldn't be happier with this signing as I feel he's going to be my CB for a good few years. 

Next up was a starting LB. After having deals fall through at the last moment for both Ranieri and Augello, LB was really proving to be a tough position to find a suitable starter for. With nothing really of note on offer, I went for what I felt was a solid if unspectacular choice:

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Di Chiara joined us from Reggina for £2m, with £1m being paid upfront. At 6 ft 1 and being solid in the air, he also adds an extra dimension in our ability to defend. His all round attributes are solid and I feel is a decent enough player to hold that position down until we can find someone better for the long-term.

Having brought these 2 in to bolster the defence, I felt we were now looking a lot stronger. What we needed now were quality options to challenge the players in our best starting 11. With Adli operating on the right of a 4-1-4-1 or 4-1-4-1 (DM Wide) cutting in on his left foot to create chances, I struck a deal for someone who should definitely be able to wrestle that starting birth from him:

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This former FM wonderkid had found his move to Betis stagnating, with an average return during his loan move to Zaragoza last season not really helping his cause for a squad place at his parent club. We stepped in to offer Xadas a chance to fight for a starting spot in a to division and he eventually agreed on deadline day. I'm thrilled to have him here and although he isn't Italian, he adds the vision, passing, flair and composure to our attacking options from midfield that we need in order to move up the table.

With Pavlev being loaned out, a back up right back was needed. As Mogos is first choice, I felt this was the perfect opportunity to bring in another Italian player to bolster the HG quota:

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We managed to land Sernicola for just £300k. Yes he's raw, with a lot of 10's in his attributes. But I think as back up, he adds further height to the back line options, he can whip in a decent cross when over-lapping and his personality and determination will drive him on to get better. I think this could turn out to be a very shrewd move.

GK wasn't a position a I was looking to fill, but Juve's interest Andrea Seculin as a back up HG keeper turned his head and eventually I agreed to sell him for £170k. This meant I needed a back-up to Semper and felt this was a good chance to bring in another Italian:

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He's not the best, but then no-one was going to move Semper from the number 1 slot. With that in mind, I just went for a cheap back-up and Vicario cost us £110k from Cagliari.

That left me with just needing cover in both the AML and ST positions. I tried my best to bring in Vincenzo Millico from Torino, but annoyingly he chose newly promoted Brescia instead. I was also conscious of bringing in someone that would stunt Bertagnoli's and Tjaland's growth in their respective positions. So, with time running out and no options really jumping out at me, I played a wildcard:

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I know, I know. What the hell was I thinking? £325k from a League 1 team in England, for the Serie A?? It's a wildcard even by wildcard standards, but I do actually feel he can offer solid cover at LM, LW and ST for this season. He's quick, has decent if not spectacular attacking technical attributes and again, adds height to the squad. Is he a long-term signing that'll push us up the league? Probably not, but he covers various positions, hardly dented the budget and will hopefully be determined to prove the doubters wrong!

Those signings leave us with a squad of 21 players. I probably would have liked another CM option, but Viviani, Palmeiro and Segre are so solid right now, I didn't want to disrupt the current set up, so will look to promote youngsters to help cover with Ivan Rossi. Some of our wide players can also play centrally if needed. I'd also like an experienced ST. I don't like the idea of Rovaglia and Tjaland being our first choice options at their age with Mbenza backing them up, so I may look to use the loan market for cover.

Whilst the window was going on, we had a tough start to get ready for. With Inter, Sassuolo, Napoli and Torino all drawn to play us in our first 5 games, I wasn't expecting much of a return with such a small squad:

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Well I wasn't expecting that! An early long range effort from Viviani and an heroic defensive display was enough for us to take all 3 points off last season's runners-up Inter. We then followed that up with a magnificent attacking display away in Turin, with Brunetta, Adli, Tjaland and Segre all on the scoresheet. 

We were completely outplayed by Sassuolo, but returned to winning ways in the cup against Monza. Adli netted again against Benevento, but we couldn't hold out, with the newly promoted side equalising on the hour mark. We were poor against a Napoli side that really aren't that good. They finished 7th last season, resulting in the sacking of Gattuso, but we allowed them to dominate the game against us.

We finished the month with an excellent victory over Brescia. Segre bagged a brace from his CM(A) position and Rovaglia netted after coming of the bench. This means that the table looks like this:

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Considering our aim is to avoid relegation and beat our points total from last season, we've made a cracking start. We only managed 8 wins last season, so to be over a 3rd of the way through that tally already is really pleasing. 

I feel the squad is a lot stronger this season (still bottom-half material) and I'm confident that we can win a lot more of the games against those expected to be in the bottom half.

Hopefully we can continue to pick up wins here and there and set ourselves up to be in a solid position come January, as I still have around £8m in the budget. 

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Vicario looks like a nice GK. Probably better than my first string in Slovakia!

You did good work finding players the big clubs didn't want and wouldn't break your bank and will help you!

 

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21 hours ago, Sonic Youth said:

Nice start to the new season beating lower half of the table Inter :D

That was a well thought out transfer window. You made it sound smoother than it probably was and felt!

Yes, it definitely wasn't as smooth as the story suggests!

18 hours ago, MattyLewis11 said:

You certainly have strengthened during the window which is reflecting in your results, will like to see how Mbenza progresses.....it's often someone who you don't have much expectation for which can surprise you. 

Yes I agree, we've definitely strengthened the squad this summer as opposed to just adding to it and the early results are confirming it, with Mbenza producing a quality cameo performance off the bench against Lazio.

14 hours ago, Hootieleece said:

Vicario looks like a nice GK. Probably better than my first string in Slovakia!

You did good work finding players the big clubs didn't want and wouldn't break your bank and will help you!

 

Yes I think that's the key for me. Now we're a few seasons in, the big clubs have snapped up the usual suspects, but some of them aren't making it (Xadas for example) so are then available for cheap. It's definitely the area in the market I'm looking to exploit.

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On the pitch, the aim is again to take inspiration from Roberto Mancini's incredible recent success with The Azzurri. I want us to be passionate and solid in defence, whilst having the ability to switch our in possession options from a possession-based style to direct counter one. 
 

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Five unbeaten. 1 goal conceded. Points taken off bigger teams Atalanta and Lazio. We really have been passionate and solid in defence recently and I couldn't be happier with the progress we're making so far this season. In 10 games, we are already over the half-way mark for last season's points total.

There's a hell of a long way to go, but it's so pleasing to see progress.

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Why did I risk the above post with run-away leaders Juve away to come next :seagull:

We just couldn't handle their 4-4-2 ultra-attacking formation. They've built a formidable side. It's like the FM gods read my last post and thought "Ha, we'll show him progress and solid defending".

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MID-SEASON BREAK 2022/2023

So with the World Cup taking place in Qatar this year in the winter, we've been given a mid-season break starting on the 31st of October and returning to league action on the 31st of December.

This is how the table looks going in to the break:

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Apart from the 7-1 drubbing by Juve, we've had a good start to the season. We've been poor at home, only picking up the 1 win (against Inter), but have been better on the road compared to last year. As a result of this, we are just 3 wins and 3 draws away from last season's total, with 25 games left to go, putting us in a great position to improve on last years finish.

The aim is still to avoid relegation and improve on how we did in 2021/2022 and we are well on course to achieve that. 

Now we will use this break to really plan ahead in terms of identifying targets for improving our squad.

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Thanks @john1 and @Matt_1979. I think we were always going to fade away due to the lack of quality depth in the squad. I feel it's going to take a good 2 or 3 more windows before I have the depth to push much higher up the table. For now, my aim is still to stay up this season whilst improving on last season's totals.

With the early break for the Qatar World Cup (Won by Croatia!), it gave me time to identify some affordable targets for the January window. The aim was to bring in 2 or 3 experienced Serie A players, who were preferably Italian. With funds left over from the summer, I made a couple of moves:

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First in the door was Adam Masina. Very good physically, determined and and a hard-worker, Masina felt like more than a little upgrade on outgoing Cotali. Fiorentina had paid over £10m for him last season, but I was able to pick him up for just £2.6m as he wasn't able to get in to their team ahead of my summer transfer target Augello. 

I also felt I needed more experience upfront. In Rovaglia and Tjaland, we have two potentially very good strikers, but neither are ready to lead the line week in week out in a top division. With Sampdoria being relegated last season, I decided to make a move for this man:

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This was a short term deal. An 18 month stop-gap to just give us an extra bit of experience upfront and give us more flexibility to use a two-man strike force. I'm not expecting him to bag 10 goals from now until the end of the season, but I feel he can take the pressure off my two younger strikers.

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The return to Serie A was tough. We targeted Cittadella as the game to give us the boost going in to January, but we were lucky to get a draw. High-flying Bologna gave us a thumping and that was followed up by another from Milan. At this point, I went defensive just to make sure January didn't turn in to a total disaster.

We just ensured we kept a clean sheet against Udinese, which then gave us the platform to go and pinch a 1-0 win away to newly-promoted Empoli. Roma proved too much for us, but we too our total to 4 points from 6 against Inter this season when we completely nullified their attack. 

The Torino result was the toughest to take. We were the better team, but whilst went searching for the winner, they won the game on the break with a 90th minute Pedro Nuno strike.

That leaves the table looking like this:

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I think the best way to describe our league position for now is comfortable. We know we don't have the quality at the moment to break in to the top 10, but I'm confident we've already done enough to show we'll survive, as I reckon we only need 10 points from 17 games to stay up. 

The aim now is to continue working on a plan of how we want to play moving forward and identifying targets that will help improve the squad in the summer.
 

 

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Chievo Verona - 2022/2023 Update

So with us heading in to the final stretch of my 3rd season in charge at Marcantonio Bentegodi, let's have a look at how we've been doing since the last update:

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Pretty much par for the course really. Some frustrating defeats, some hard-fought draws and then wins when they weren't really expected.

After defeat to Torino, the aim was to steady the ship and get a point against Sassuolo in order to set us up for a home win against Benevento. We got the first part right, but our lack of efficiency in front of goal cost us against Benevento, with the away side capitalising on our inability to further our lead by striking a late equaliser. We followed that up with a 3-0 hammering from Napoli, turning February in to a disappointing month.

Thankfully, we bounced back in March. A solid 1-0 home win over Brescia thanks to a late Tjaland goal gave us a lift, going on to take the lead away to Parma in the following game, only for us not to capitalise once more. But still, i'm always happy with a point away from home. We then produced a brilliant performance at home against Atalanta, with Tjaland and Mbenza (YEP!) getting on the scoresheet.

That win was massive as I was dreading April. Right on the hour mark, surprise signing of the summer, Isaac Mbenza, struck to make it 1-1 and get us back in to the game. Unfortunately, we conceded just 3 minutes later to go back behind, which completely took the wind out of our sails. Jose Mourinho's Lazio were too good for us. We put up a better fight away in Milan, but ultimately went down to the same score line. That meant 3 defeats from 3 in April, with Juve up next, who had beaten us 7-1 earlier in the season.

We produced a tactical masterclass. We completely stifled them in attack and Segre's strike to put us 1-0 up before half-time was more than deserved. With us still looking comfortable, in the 74th minute, Adrian Semper decided to boot his goal kick right in to the back of our centre half, which obviously trickled in to the back of our net :seagull: We couldn't get another, but to be fair, I'd have bitten your hand off for a draw before the game.

We took confidence from that performance and used it on the way to an excellent away victory in Florence, with Xadas' goal denting Fiorentina's shot at top 4. 

Those results leave the table looking like this:

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So as before really. Too far off making top 10, to far off being involved in a relegation battle. I honestly couldn't be happier. It's exactly where I had aimed for us to be by the end of season 3. 

I hope the players don't hit the beach now, as I'd like to comfortably move over the 40 point mark and try and achieve a 10pt+ difference on last season's total.

The bottom 3 are long gone by the looks of it, unless one of them pulls something special out of the bag. Early leaders Bologna have fallen away as expected, but Juve's slip from the top was surprising. They were clear around Christmas, but Milan have absolutely stormed in to the lead and with Juve winning the last 11 titles, we could finally have a new champion!

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I swear this game has some kind of bug which see's sides struggle over the month of Feb! I literally always struggled across the month on my previous save with OGC Nice and it seems as if you too have this issue as both this season and last you didn't pick up a win!

A great season though and hopefully a strong summer will see the flying donkeys secure that top half finish! 

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14 hours ago, john1 said:

Hopefully you can finish off May in specular way ;) 

We've started the month off well! Just 2 games remaining!

13 hours ago, MattyLewis11 said:

I swear this game has some kind of bug which see's sides struggle over the month of Feb! I literally always struggled across the month on my previous save with OGC Nice and it seems as if you too have this issue as both this season and last you didn't pick up a win!

A great season though and hopefully a strong summer will see the flying donkeys secure that top half finish! 

Haha, I've just checked last February's results and I only picked up 2 points from 12 then as well! Although we didn't exactly pick up many points all season to be fair last year. Thanks mate!

11 hours ago, Hootieleece said:

Great Job staying the course!

Hopefully you will have another good summer window and try for a top 10 finish!

 

Thanks pal, really looking forward to this summer, feel like it's going to be our biggest window yet.

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I mean, I really am happy with season 2 in Serie A, but if one thing could sum us up:

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As all 3 of my strikers were on the pitch in a bid to grab an equaliser against Udinese, their inability to do so prompted a 5-minute barrage of emails from our press officer. 

With just 2 games to go, we sit on 31 goals scored, the 3rd lowest in the division and 6 less than last season in which we only scraped survival on 31 points!  This summer's focus will definitely be aimed at how we can improve that, both from a player and tactical perspective. The only problem I have is who leaves?

Tjaland is a superstar in the making, but at 19 years old he's shown he's not ready to lead the line for the style we play. But his status has changed to regular starter due to him edging the number of starts up top and offering him out on loan this summer may upset him quite a bit. Having come through the ranks, Rovaglia is a fans favourite and important to our HG quota so I could do with keeping him in the squad, whilst Gabiaddini only signed in January, so will probably be impossible to move on..... 

 

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The Run In - 2022/2023

Let's have a look at how we finished off our 3rd season:

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Finishing April with a win away to Fiorentina gave us a boost going in to the final month of the season. Isaac Mbenza again on the scoresheet as we notched up another one of our 1-0 wins. We followed that up by scoring a whopping 2 goals away at Cittadella, with Mbenza (again!) and Leverbe getting our goals.

We then took a point off 4th placed Bologna, but were unable to find the net against Udinese. Leverbe's late scoring-streak continued, earning us another 1-0 win, this time over Empoli and we finished the season off in the usual pattern of huffing and puffing in front of goal, but not being able to break Roma down. A late Calafiori goal was enough to take all 3 points for the visitors to end the season.

With those results, it left the final table looking like this:

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What a season for us!

We finished a whopping 17 points better off than last year, with us racking up 4 more wins and 5 more draws. Scoring goals has been our biggest issue, but thankfuly we've been good at keeping them out at the other end. Yes we're 11th for goals conceded, but take away the 2 games in which we conceded 11 goals against Juve and Milan and that's only 36 conceded in 36 games. The aim now is to prevent those 7-1 and 4-0 drubbings!

Napoli picked up the Coppa Italia, but were poor in the league. Verona and Bologna upset the likes of Atalanta and Fiorentina by forcing their way in to European places and AC Milan ended Juve's 11 season stint at the top of the table.


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I'm very happy with our signings overall this season. I brought in 7 players over the course of the season, with 4 brought in to improve the first 11 and 3 to add squad depth. Apart from Gabbiadini, I'd say they've all improved us in some way. Xadas has added more flair to our midfield, Buongiorno has become a rock at the back, Masina and Di Chiara have been a massive upgrade in our LB department and Mbenza has netted up some important goals for just £375k. 

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Semper continues to impress in goal for us and rightly picked up the fans' player of the season award. Viviani is developing nicely and Buongiorno has been an excellent signing. But again, our lack of goals is highlighted again when you see that our top scorer was Tjaland with just 6.

What Next?

This really could be the biggest summer yet. Now that we're slightly more established in the division and my reputation has risen to 2 stars, I feel I may be able to attract a little bit more quality. With the finances improving as well, I feel we may get a decent budget to work with. 

I've highlighted 4/5 players that I'm going to move on from the squad, so this could be the biggest window in terms of numbers going in and out as well. We've laid some good foundations and now the aim is to continue building on them.

Although the board are simply wanting to avoid relegation again next season, my aim is to improve on this season's finish. I'm going to be looking for a starting RB and ST, with someone to add some extra depth in CM/CDM.

Up The Flying Donkeys!

 

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SUMMER 2023

Although I must admit I was intrigued by the approach from Basel for me to be their new manager, I decided to turn them down and focus on our most important summer yet. We're now at the point where if we don't improve, we could easily be dragged back down in to a relegation fight, but to improve, we need to really start altering the wage structure at the club, as there's not one player earning over £15k p/w. I knew that if I wanted to improve the squad, I was unlikely to keep the wages that low.

It proved difficult to start with. I had lined up both Andrea Conti and Paolo Ghiglione as potential new right backs. However, after agreeing deals with their respective clubs, both were asking for over £30k p/w. I just wasn't prepared to jump that high, even though we could easily afford it. But before we show you who did sign, let's have a look at who left the club this summer:

Outs:

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Manuel De Luca's loan spell in Portugal had worked a treat, with him bagging 11 goals in 34 games and pushing his value up. He still wasn't good enough to be playing upfront in Serie A though in my opinion, well and in other clubs opinions too, as it was Serie B side Entella that splashed £3.3m on the forward.

Ivan Rossi had offered decent cover at CDM, but he was never really pushing to start. With me eyeing up younger Italian players for his role, I decided to cash in on the Argentinian, receiving nearly £2m extra on what I paid for him 2 seasons ago. 

Michael Fabbro spent last season out on loan at Pisa and it's Serie B that the striker has returned to on a permeant basis, joining newly-relegated side Spezia in a £2m deal. Youngster Alfredo Mariani made it clear he was not going to sign a new contract, so I cashed in on him this summer. Pavlev and Enyan were never going to be able to make the step up. Experienced CB Michael Rigione was released on a free.

What that screenshot doesn't show you are the 2 first team players that left us in June. Vasile Mogos had been our RB from the start, but with Al-Arabi circling and the Romanian turning 30, I decided to take the £1.2m on offer. Sadly, despite being surprisingly good, Isaac Mbenza decided he wasn't happy that he was starting as a ML and not an AML and as a result, handed in a transfer request. We did get £775k from Hull, so doubled our money from our short experience with Isaac.

With the transfers out sorted fairly quickly, I turned my attention to incomings. I needed a RB, CB, CDM and ST. I also wrote down plans about bringing in another CM as long as the deal was right and wasn't just another body for the sake of it.

Ins:

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First up was our RB. A position I struggled to identify another target for after my first 2 had out-priced themselves. Eventually, with no-one standing out, I decided to increase the Italian quota in the squad with the signing of Cristiano Piccini. £2m upfront and £2m in potential add-ons was probably more than I wanted to pay, but the experienced RB adds more height and what looks to be some solid attributes to our back line. 

Next one in through the door was our new cover at CB:

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With Atalanta not looking to renew Varnier's contract, I snapped up the Italian CB as 4th choice cover, replacing the departing Rigione. A cheap 4th choice option that adds another to name to the Italian quota. 

Next up, a new addition to CDM:

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Another signing from Atalanta, Panada joined us on a £3.3m deal and became the first player to break the £20k p/w wage barrier. Matching the board's philosophy of signing players U23 and another Italian being added to our squad list, I was happy with this one. Possession some great physical stats, with the first touch, passing and vision to create from deep, I'm planning to gently ease Panada in to the first team over the course of this season.

So with RB, CB and CDM sorted, it was time to find a ST. With Rovaglia not good enough to lead the line, Tjaland too young and Gabbiadini not working out, I decided we definitely needed a clear 1st choice striker if we were going to move up the table. I'm a big believer in experience when it comes to certain positions and for me, I wanted to buy a ST that was either entering or still in their peak. I didn't want another Tjaland, an FM wonderkid who realistically isn't ready to lead the line as a teenager in a top league. After scouting for days on end, I finally decided on my number 1 choice:

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Some of you may gasp at the thought of a 30 year old being brought in as first choice, but for me, I think this is exactly what we need. An experienced striker, who physically, still looks to me to be in his prime. He knows the league, he's composed in front of goal and offers us another dimension in attack with his strength and ability to shoot from distance. We broke our highest-earner bracket for him and I'm hoping my faith in him isn't misplaced. 

That meant the only position I would possibly look to bring in now was at CM. I wasn't going to just bring anyone in as I already have Panada, Viviani, Palmeiro and Serge to cover the CDM, CM and CM axis, with Xadas being able to operate centrally should more than of those 4 be unavailable. However, I came across a transfer-listed CM who drew me in. I've heard about him before, I'm sure people have said on other forums he turns out great and at the price he was listed for, I took the plunge:

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At £675k, I felt it was worth bringing him in. He'll add depth to a strong CM department, whilst improving us in the passing, vision and corner departments. At the moment, our midfield 3 ( CDM, CM and CM) consist of the CDM covering and recycling behind a CM(S) and a CM(A). The aim this season is to develop the CM(S) in to a more creative role to try and improve the amount of chances created and scored. Cuisance could be the key to that. Accepting to join as a squad player and not as some demanding star-player diva also delighted me, as I can now slowly bed him in to the team.

And although there's almost the whole month of August still left to go, that's me done for first team transfers. I'm thrilled that with only 1 pre-season friendly done, I've made all of my necessary moves in the market. The only change to that will be if any of my current crop leave. Semper did receive initial interest from Leeds and Herta Berlin, but my asking price put them both off and i'm hoping that they don't come back. 

For the 3rd consecutive season, 4 of our first 5 games on the fixture list consist of games against Torino, Atalanta, Sassuolo and Inter, so it's imperative that we get a good pre-season under our belts. 

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STOP THE COUNT!!!!!

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Despite being handed another tough start to our Serie A fixture list, we find ourselves joint top after 5 games and here's how:

 

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I couldn't have dreamed for a better start! New signing Babacar was amongst the goal scorers as we put Torino to the sword on matchday 1. We followed that up with a very hard fought 0-0 draw away to Inter. An injury time Xadas strike earned us a point at home to Atalanta, which we followed up with a 1-0 away win against newly promoted Salerntiana. To the end the month, we produced a convincing display to comfortably beat Sassuolo and sending me in to October with a massive smile on my face.

Semper has been superb in goal, our defence has been excellent and Cuisance has added some extra flair and vision in to centre-mid. What I'm most happy about though is the fact we've scored goals. 8 in 5 is a great return for us, with new signing Babacar netting 3 already. I know the bubble will burst at some point, but i'm hoping we can keep this good form up for a while yet!

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What a start to the season, as previously stated I feel this season will see you finish in the top half and propel you onto greater things! 

I am also pleased to see you too are having luck with your new signing, Babacar has hit the ground running... hopefully his form can continue. 

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Looks like another positive transfer window, with some transformative signings. Can’t wait to see what Cuisance and Panadol look like in a midfield together!

Good start to the season as well, and I also believe as MartyLewis11 does that you finish in the top half of the table :thup:

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