Season Two Review
To say we got off to a terrible start would be an understatement. After finishing 5th in the first season I had my eye on possibly breaking into the top 4, but Chelsea brought me back down to earth with a 5-1 slapping at Stamford Bridge to kick the season off. From there it went down hill very fast. By the start of November I was sat in 14th and fearing the sack. Luckily we kicked into gear from this point and moved through the gears to an eventual finish of 6th. Again, we had the opportunity to break into the top 4 but lost a couple of games in the run-in. but overall after the terrible start we made, I'm happy with 6th.
Once again the domestic cups were seen as a chance to rotate the squad and give some youngsters and back up players game time. We crashed out in the third round of the Capital One Cup to Nottingham Forrest, losing 3-1 at home which I was not happy about. Our FA Cup run lasted a little longer. We actually made it to the 6th round by beating Derby, Oxford and Norwich before eventually being beaten by Ipswich away from home. Not great cup runs but plenty of experience gained for young players.
The European Adventure
Finishing 5th in our first season meant we walked straight into the Europa league group stages. We were however seeded 3rd but managed to get a relatively east group of Atheltic Bilbao, Braga and Qarabag. We coasted through the group without ever really being troubled. Most of the group games we're played by rotation, backup and young players to keep my best players fresh for the league. In the first knockout round we drew Werder Bremen and beat them home and away in a 5-2 aggregate win. Ajax in last 16 was comfortable after winning 2-1 away, we struggled to a draw at home and went though. We then played Fenerbache and lost 1-0 at home to a Nani strike. I stuck with my weakened team for the away leg and managed to somehow go 3-0 up at half time through a M'baye Niang hattrick. The second half was a different story and with 10 minutes to go, Fenerbache made it 3 all and we were heading out. In the 92nd minute, substitute Gabirel Barbosa popped up to score a goal that would see us through to the semi finals. Milan were the opponents and the home game was easily the game of the season for us. We beat Milan 5-1 at home and went on to go through comfortably despite losing 2-1 at the San Siro.
Then there was the final. The opponents - Man City. They'd finished 3rd in their Champions League group and dropped into the competition. In the league this season they beat us 1-0 at their place, but we had stuffed them 4-0 at the Liberty. So it was set to be an interesting one. I was confident....
...but despite a relatively even game, their quality shone through. Devastated.
The first season trend of signing a shedload of players continued as I looked to build a squad capable of competing on all fronts.
I was very happy to be able to bring in some top class young players like Youri Tielemans as a replacement for Ki, Hirving Lozano as a winger prospect and in January, I took up the opportunity to bring back season one's best player, Angel Correa. He was not getting games at Atletico and was listed. I was happy to shell out.
So at the end of season one I mentioned how I had got a good first season out of Gabriel Barbosa but I wanted to see more from him in the second season. He delivered. The 20 year old Brazilian played 37(6) games in all competitions and bagged 31 goals, 26 of which were in the league. He missed out on the league top scorer by one goal to Diego Costa. He almost managed 8 assists and an average rating of 7.35.
Another notable mention has to go to Jack Cork, who played as first choice at DM and managed to get an average rating of 7.36 over 32(3) games with 2 goals and 3 assists. He made the position his own despite fierce competition from the emerging Andres Cubas.
Lastly, credit has to be given to M'Baye Niang, who came in from Milan as back up for Barbosa and played his part in the Europa League run. He played 20(18) games altogether and scored 19 goals. It's his Europa league record that stands out though with him playing 13(1) in the competition and scoring 11 goals and getting 3 assists. At 22, he will provide competition upfront for a few years yet.
So it's onto season three....
The club made profits last season of £105m and because of this, I've been entrusted with a transfer budget this season of a whopping £53m. Crazy. I can't see myself spending it UNLESS.....
Gabriel Barbosa is currently refusing to sign a new contract at the moment, and is saying that the squad isn't good enough to play at a level to match his ambitions. He has a £36m release clause in his contract and PSG are showing major interest. I will be gutted.
I do have Munir signing for free at the end of the season along with a 17 year old regen striker called Radosevljevic from PSV who I'm singing for £8.25m.
Onwards and upwards.