Premier League 2024-2025
No really interesting transfers out this season (nobody was even really interested in any of our players) except we did end up selling Richard Stimson for $120k, as he was surplus to requirements and probably not cut out for the Premier League except as an iffy depth player, and I'd rather use someone with a bit more potential there. We made 8 major additions to the squad. Our first was one of our best players this season, 23 year old right midfielder Damir Sedlacek, who we purchased for $1.5 million from Bordeaux and who had previously spent time with PSG. Three days later we wrapped up the deal for another player who ended up being outstanding for us, 21 year old Austrian central midfielder Reinhold Schneider, bought for what eventually turned into $5.25 million from Dortmund. At the end of June we made probably our best value-for-money deal, signing 24 year old left midfielder Javier Marcen following the expiration of his contract with Zaragoza. At the same time we signed two defenders whose contracts had recently expired, Italian center back Mauro Martorana, last with Fiorentina, and English left back Lewis Gibson, last with Everton. Neither were great and I will be looking for upgrades, but both have been competent enough to have a depth role going forward. On July 30th we pulled off another major transfer, bringing in 23 year old goalkeeper Alessandro Bettini from Juventus for $4.6 million, who did a fantastic job covering up for our poor defensive performance this season. On August 6th our free transfer of 18 year old Italian striker Luca Termanini went through, and we made our last major move on August 15th, bringing in former Monaco center back Benoit Badiashile, who ended up being our best defensive player this season.
We had a decent preseason outside of a very poor performance in a 1-1 draw to Celtic, a somewhat unlucky home loss to Swansea, and a disgraceful collapse where we let a 3-1 lead after 29 minutes against Sheffield Wednesday turn into a 6-3 loss. We began the season on television by going down 2-0 at Newcastle before fighting back to get a 2-2 draw, but lost our next two matches against Arsenal at home and West Ham on the road. That would be the last time we would find ourselves in the relegation spots. We won 4 of our next 5 and 5 of our next 7, the best of which were a 4-2 win at West Brom and a 2-1 win at home against Liverpool (we also beat a miserable Burnley squad, who were eventually relegated, 4-0 at home). Following a 1-2-2 stretch, we won 3 of our next four, beating Everton, Southampton, and Newcastle at home but falling 5-3 to Manchester United on the road. After a 6-3 loss at Arsenal, we had our best run of the season, going on a 7-4-1 run, losing only a home match against Manchester City by 1 goal, and putting up a 2+ goal margin in all 7 of our victories, including wins over Bournemouth, Stoke, Leicester, Burnley, Swansea, Sunderland, and Norwich (Stoke and Sunderland in particular were our competitors for continental qualification, and we beat Stoke by 4). We lost our next 2 away matches including a rather frightening 6-5 loss at Leicester, but still found ourselves in good position to qualify for the Europa League, though we were likely too far behind to have a chance at the Champions League. In our third to last league match of the season, we put ourselves in commanding position by coming back from a 1-0 halftime deficit to beat fellow continental qualification contenders Southampton 2-1 on the road. Though we lost to Manchester United 3-1 in our next match, results elsewhere locked up qualification for us, and a 1-1 draw in our final match at Everton ensured we would capture 5th place, one point ahead of Sunderland.
A much better run after losing our first match last season, though it nearly ended in embarassing fashion. After taking an early lead against eventual mid-table Championship squad Middlesbrough, we found ourselves down 3-1 midway through the second half. Goals from Ronnie Gillespie and James Young in the 80th and 86th minutes, respectively managed to salvage a draw, and while we went into the half in the home replay down 1-0 due to an own goal plus a missed penalty on our part, we eventually cruised to a 4-1 victory. In the 4th round, despite another own goal (we had rather a lot of those this season, actually), Luca Termanini's hat trick secured a 3-2 victory. Our 5th round match was perhaps the highlight of our run, managing a 2-1 upset of Manchester United where, despite being out-shot 30-18, our shots on goal were almost identical, and we scored in the 16th and 17th minute, holding on to the win despite missing a penalty later on as well. Even including friendlies and all cup matches, Manchester United only lost 3 times all season - at Southampton in the PL, at us in the FA Cup, and against Manchester City in the EFL Cup finals (they did get knocked out of the Champions League as well, but that was on away goals after a pair of draws with Real Madrid). In the 6th round we won 3-2 against Sunderland despite YET ANOTHER own goal. The semifinal against Newcastle was pretty uneventful for most of the match, without even a carding the entire time, until Sedlacek scored in the 90th minute to put us through to the final with a 1-0 victory. Unfortunately, we got off to a poor start in the final and found ourselves down 2-0 at the half, and while we were much improved after the break, ended up on the wrong side of a 3-2 defeat, our second loss in the FA Cup final in 3 years.
Deja Vu was the flavor of the season apparently, as not only did we repeat our FA Cup run to the final of two seasons ago, we also repeated our EFL Cup run to the semi-final of two seasons ago. An early 3-0 lead led us to a 3-1 win over Fleetwood in the 1st round, and we followed that up by demolishing Wycombe 5-0 in the second round. We scored in the 5th minute against Stoke in the 3rd round, but ended up going to extra time tied 1-1, where Ryan Glover scored his second of the game in the 112th minute to give us a 2-1 win. We had a very lucky 1-0 win against Bournemouth in the quarter final after a pretty miserable offensive performance. In the first leg of the semi-final at home against Manchester City, we secured a 1-1 draw, and things got off to a great start on the road as we took a 2-0 lead in the 32nd minute. They immediately cut the lead to 2-1, but we held onto that lead all the way until the 93rd minute, when they scored a gutting equalizer. Our left back was sent off in the 100th minute, and they scored on the resulting free kick, adding another to beat us 4-2 in the second leg and 5-3 on aggregate - we were seconds away from making the final, but were left with our second semi-final loss in 3 years.
Squad & Awards
Given our massive defensive deficiencies, our team's success was heavily dependent on two factors - outstanding play by our strikers and wingers, and an excellent goalkeeping performance that ensured that our opponents converted only a low percentage of the many chances they got (Bettini had nearly 3 saves, held + parried, per goal conceded, a very good ratio compared with other goalkeepers in the league). Luca Termanini scored 33 goals, 25 in the league, plus contributed 12 assists, while Ronnie Gillespie scored 29, with 23 in the league, plus 20 assists (besting his own club assists record yet again). Michael Boyd chipped in 11 goals for us, while our wingers, Damir Sedlacek and Javier Marcen, contributed 10 goals & 14 assists, and 9 goals & 12 assists, respectively. The club leader in average rating was James Young, though he mostly played early on in cup matches; Gillespie was our leader among regular first teamers, followed by Marcen, Sedlacek, and Termanini. Gillespie and Termanini both had 10 Player of the Match awards. We had 3 of the top 6 players in average rating in the league, and 5 of the top 14 - Gillespie (3rd), Sedlacek, (5th), Marcen (6th), Termanini (10th), and Reinhold Schneider (14th). Termanini tied for 2nd in goals, with Gillespie 4th. Gillespie and Sedlacek were 1st and 2nd in assists. Gillespie also led the league in key passes and chances created - Termanini, Marcen, and Sedlacek were all in the top 14 in those statistics as well, along with Schneider in the former. Gillespie and Termanini were also in the top 9 in shot and shots on target. While our defense as a whole was poor, Benoit Badiashile found himself high on the rankings in many defensive statistics, including having the most interceptions in the league. Bettini, though conceding 70 goals, led the league in saves held and saves parried, both by substantial margins.
As a team, we scored the most goals with 86, but conceded the 5th most goals with 70. We were worst in the league in possession and passing ratio, but were 2nd in shots on target ratio, were effective at crossing, and scored the second most goals from corners. In spite of our poor defense we only allowed 3 goals from corners and won the third most tackles (though we were among the leaders in fouls and cards). We did win the most headers, though our ratio was on the lower end of the rankings.
Some decent prospects in our youth intake, but we got one guy who looks like he could be very good, a center back named Kevaughn Smith, though consistency looks to be a knock on him.
Our players (and myself as well) received a variety of awards, listed below.
Fans' & Manager's Player of the Season: Ronnie Gillespie
Fans' Signing of the Season: Reinhold Schneider
Manager's Signing of the Season: Damir Sedlacek
Fans' & Manager's Young Player of the Season: Ronnie Gillespie
Premier League Team of the Year: Ronnie Gillespie
Runner-Up for Top Goalscorer: Luca Termanini
October Player of the Month: Damir Sedlacek
November Player of the Month: Ronnie Gillespie
January Player of the Month: Luca Termanini
Runner-Up for Player of the Month (Luca Termanini, April)
Third Place for Player of the Month (Javier Marcen, April)
September Young Player of the Month: Luca Termanini
October Young Player of the Month: Luca Termanini
November Young Player of the Month: Ronnie Gillespie
January Young Player of the Month: Luca Termanini
February Young Player of the Month: Jake Iles
April Young Player of the Month: Luca Termanini
Runner-Up for Young Player of the Month (Ronnie Gillespie, August, September, October, December, January, & April)
Third Place for Young Player of the Month (Michael Boyd, December; Luca Termanini, February; Jake Iles, March)
Third Place for Manager of the Month (February)
Manager of the Year
State of the Club
From a financial perspective, the club had a profit of approximately $106 million last season, primarily as a result of Premier League tv revenue. Our season ticket revenue more than tripled from under $2 million to nearly $7 million. We have again been given an increased payroll budget and transfer budget, currently (with the slider set all the way to wage budget) at approximately $1.2 million per week and $66 million, respectively.
Our upgrade to a 12,500 capacity stadium is complete, and we paid the $18 million loan off early at the end of this season.
Our average attendance for the season was 14,039, lowest in the league. We had 5 sellouts.
My goals for the upcoming season are as follows:
Europa League Qualification
Reach the FA Cup 5th Round
Reach the 5th round of the EFL Cup
Get out of the Group Stage of the Europa League
Season League Finish Achievements
2018-19 Vanarama North 7th Playoffs
2019-20 Vanarama North 1st Champions; FA Trophy Finalist
2020-21 Vanarama National 1st Champions; FA Trophy Winners
2021-22 Sky Bet League Two 1st Champions; Checkatrade Trophy Winners
2022-23 Sky Bet League One 2nd Promotion; Checkatrade Trophy Semifinalist; EFL Cup Semifinalist; FA Cup Finalist
2023-24 Sky Bet Championship 1st Champions
2022-23 Premier League 5th Europa League Qualification; EFL Cup Semifinalist; FA Cup Finalist