]SEASON REVIEW 2059/60
Literally three games to go in the season, and we throw it away. We lose to Man City away from home – tough, but with two games still to go, the title is still in our hands. Que to our home loss to Arsenal, and then in our last game of the season, we stumble to a 3-3 draw at home against Chelsea. The title goes to Man City, while we are left wondering what ifs and what nots. As frustrating as it is, however, the reality is that we did not deserve to be Premier League champions – while our offense was the best in the league yet again, we ranked as the 9th best defensive team, and a team that bad on defense should never lift the title. My worst fears were confirmed – we got absolutely hammered in the back, as teams seemed to score at will. Our aging older generation must have spit up shame watching from the bench at the new guys fail so miserably at their task – we won two titles on the back of Joseph, Isasi, Johnson, Abel, Weston, and (for the last one) Watts. Only Watts was a full-time starter from the names mentioned, and our defensive failures directly contributed to our inability to win anything this season. Unfortunately, we do not have any defensive prospects coming up that can change that – the Youth Academy has been pumping out midfielders and wingers, and this year was no different. We again exited the Champions League in the Second Round, and were non-factors in both domestic cups.
Alex Hooper (2055), 21 Years Old: This was Hooper’s first full season as a starter, and while his attributes have shown a sharp stagnation, his form was not bad. He played in 34 Games, registering 1.32 Con/90, 9 Clean Sheets, and 7.06 AR – his numbers suggest that while he conceded at a high rate, he was probably not at fault for most of the goals. The fact is, the defensive line in front of him was mediocre, and there were quite a few games where Hooper kept the team alive with his saves. That being said, I am very disappointed with his lack of progress in terms of attribute development – I really thought he would be further along. This is one my coaching staff got right in terms of telling me about his limited potential. Still, he remains our only viable option at the position going forward.
Akil Joseph (2041), 35 Years Old – Career: After year’s as our No.1 and 40 Caps for England, Joseph finally was relegated to the bench this season. Although he was never my personal favorite at the position (George Kelledy was), Joseph will probably go down as Kafra’s greatest GK of all-time. In his prime, he was amongst the highest valued GKs in the world, but his peak was rather short-lived and his regression came a lot quicker than expected. A bit-player this season, and will continue to be until he decides to retire.
Gary Isasi (2043), 33 Years Old – Career: Right on schedule, the athletic ability and speed of the finest left-back to ever wear a Kafra uniform starting slipping this season. His form took a bit of a knock, but it was not such a noticeable one – in 24 Games, he registered 2 Assists, 7.68 TpG, 76% Pass Ratio, 1.44 DpG, and 7.15 AR. As such, Atkins could not replace him as a starter, and Isasi actually ended up playing most of the games. He has crossed the 500 League Games threshold for the club (507 and counting), although he registered his lowest AR in the past 10 seasons. Still, I think he is far from done, and even at his declined stage of physical abilities, at the point and likely for next season, too, he will remain a more solid option than Atkins. He is – and was – simply that good.
Martin Atkins (2053), 23 Years Old: He is no Gary Isasi, but he is going to be taking over his starting position when Isasi can no longer be a full-time starter for us. Atkins is actually a decent player – he earned his first Cap for England this season, as he played in 22 Games, registering 6.53 TpG, 77% Pass Ratio, 1.24 DpG, and 7.13 AR. As he starts earning more playing time and gaining on experience, my assumption is that his numbers will continue to get better. There are no delusions here, however – he probably will never live up to the man he will be replacing. That being said, even though there will be a talent drop, Atkins seems like a decent enough left-back that I would not consider it a problem position going forward.
Tim Abel (2041), 35 Years Old – Career, Biography: As expected, the greatest CD in Kafra’s history called it quits at the end of a season where he was a complete non-factor. His career spanned 19 seasons and saw 559 League Games, and he was the anchor for the team throughout its most successful decade in the 2050s, winning every major competition as the starting CD for the team. He is not decorated by any means, and he was never one of the best CDs in the Premier League at any time, but a 7.06 AR for his career is quite a decent number. I can tell you right now, I wish I had someone with his talent and reliability in the mid-2050s on the team going forward – Abel was the anchor for the best defensive team in the Premier League a couple of times. He will be missed, and he goes out as a Kafra legend, without any doubt.
George Watts (2051), 25 Years Old: With the exception of Marvin John, we have never had a more talented CD in our ranks. He will easily be the greatest CD to ever play for the club in a few years’ time, and he was probably one of the best in the Premier League right now. In 37 Games, he registered 3 Goals, 5.01 TpG, 189 Key Headers (2nd in League), 667 Interceptions (2nd in League), and a career-high 7.47 AR. He does not have any glaring weaknesses to speak of, and he is considered a World-Class CD at this point. He has become a permanent fixture in the England national team, and was named to his second Premier League Select team this season. He is one of the stars of the team, and one of its most influential players – that is very unlikely to change in the next 5-6 years.
Nick Allen (2054), 22 Years Old: Talent-wise, Allen belongs in a Championship-level team, but he continues to surprise and overachieve. Don’t get me wrong – he is not the solution at CD and is probably a primary reason why the team was so bad defensively, but his numbers suggest that he at least held his own in the Premier League this season. In 34 Games, he registered 4.72 TpG, 1.01 DpG, and 7.17 AR – there lays the problem: Allen should never feature in 34 Games as a starter at CD for a title-challenging team. Unfortunately, we do not have any prospects better than him at the position currently, so unless I want to play a 17 year old minutes they can’t handle in hopes of playing time being the catalyst for tremendous improvement, I am stuck with Allen as my starter alongside Watts.
Matthew Johnson (2043), 33 Years Old – Career: So Johnson’s days as our starter are gone – I am just surprised at how fast his regression came. He played in only 13 Games, and his 6.95 AR was his lowest in 13 years, which is a shame because I don’t think his replacement, Oliver Meyers, is quite ready to be a starter yet. Still, I don’t have a choice now – while many will argue over whether Johnson or Burton was our greatest right back of all-time, what cannot be argued is that the latter definitely had better longevity. Johnson was not much a contributor this year, and it is hard seeing that changing going forward. What cannot be denied, however, is that – at his peak – Kafra never had a better right-back than Johnson.
Oliver Meyers (2055), 21 Years Old: This was the first season that Meyers spent most of as a starter, replacing the declining Johnson and doing a pretty decent job at it. In 27 Games, he registered 4.70 TpG, 79% Pass Ratio, and 7.01 AR, but most impressive was his continued excellence in training and improvement in his attributes. I don’t know if he will ever get to Burton or Johnson’s levels, but he takes over the starting position very young so he will get a chance to really cement his legacy in the history books of Kafra over the next ten years or so.
Luis Medaglia (2040), 36 Years Old - Career, Biography: At worst, Medaglia is the 2nd best CM in Kafra history, but there will be many that will tell you the Costa Rican legend has actually meant more to the club and was a better player through his career than his rival for that title, Matty York. Regardless, Medaglia is a legend for us, and 20 years of a great career came to an end this season, one that can always be looked back upon fondly. He was one of those players that was so consistent and rarely made a mistake on the pitch, playing with unspectacular efficiency that only great players can perform at for years at a time. York and Medaglia were actually very similar as players, and had a lot of the same strengths. The only complaint one might have against them is that they were not offensive maestros some would have liked them to be – to me, they were the engine that made the team run. He joins a number of legends who have now retired over the past few years, and he is just as special as each one of them.
Billy Bailey (2043), 33 Years Old - Career: Out of all three legends of the Class of ’43, Bailey remained the most relevant this season – this comes as no surprise, as he was the one least reliant on his speed and physical abilities to make him the player that he is. In 30 Games, he registered 2 Goals, 2 Assists, 3.37 TpG, 78% Pass Ratio, and 7.15 AR, actually improving on his previous season despite being one year older. Honestly, I would expect similar numbers next season, especially if he ends up with the same amount of playing time. Between himself, York, and Medaglia, I would say Bailey probably ranks just below them in terms of all-time CM greats at Kafra, but he still remains a legend for the club.
Jackie Neill (2050), 26 Years Old - Career: Every great team always has that one player that seems to be at the center of everything it does – Man United had Cantona, Barcelona have Messi, Real Madrid have Ronaldo, Juventus had Pogba, Arsenal had Henry, etc. That player is Jackie Neill for us – I have been saying it for years, and I think people are finally starting to agree with me, as he won the Kafra Player of the Year for the first time in his career. 36 Games, 28 Goals (career-high), 6 Assists, 8 PoMs, 1.88 TpG, 3.98 DpG, 55% Shot Target, and 7.75 AR (career-high) – find me a weakness in that stat line. Remember, this guy plays on the wing! He is easily the greatest scoring winger of his generation, and this was actually his sixth consecutive season of scoring 20+ League Goals. He was named in the Premier League Select for the 2nd time in his career, and as he enters the prime of his career, I think it is time to start thinking about giving him some real responsibility to go with his immense influence on the squad. He just might be my favorite player on the squad at this point.
Nathan Dawson (2053), 23 Years Old: No one in the history of Kafra has taken a bigger leap in terms of ability and influence in the span of two or three years than Dawson has – he has become simply unplayable for opposing defenders down the right wing. Whereas Jackie Neill has become the best scoring winger on the planet, Dawson can now lay rights to being the best passing winger on the planet. Just look at the numbers – 33 Games, 6 Goals, 29 Assists (2nd only to George Bong’s 32 in history of Premier League), 1.94 TpG, 4.80 DpG (10th in League), and 7.80 AR (career-high). Really, what else can you ask for from your starting winger, and the beauty of it all is that he is only still 23. This kid is going to have some great seasons ahead of him, especially in a few years as he begins to enter his prime.
Daniel Friar (2045), 31 Years Old – Career: Well, we will always have the 2057/58 season, right? Don’t get me wrong, Friar is a fantastic player, and I think he has become the first player in Kafra’s history to earn the “Legendary” status as a description (he has been referred to as a legendary midfielder throughout the season), but for some reason, Friar just never became that Zidane, Bernardo Silva, Arturo Gonzalez, or Stelios Zikos type of player. The club captain had another fantastic season – 36 Games, 15 Goals, 14 Assists, 5 PoMs, 2.37 TpG, 1.63 DpG, 220 Key Passes (Best in League), and 7.71 AR. His career average is now at 7.64 AR, having played 515 League Games, scored 133 League Goals, and registered 173 Assists. Talent-wise, you would be hard-pressed to find a more complete player on the planet, and he definitely is the most talented footballer the Youth Academy has ever produced, including Dimitris Dakoutros. Still, I appreciate everything about his game, even if he never became the dominating force I hoped he would be (he was for one season, though!), and I am looking forward to a couple of more big seasons from our captain. This was his 9th consecutive season in the Premier League Select and 10th overall – additionally, he also won the Premier League Goal of the Season!
Ken Duncan (2049), 27 Years Old – Career: Is he a more complete forward talent-wise in comparison to Robertson? The answer is yes, but when it comes to comparing the two’s influence on the game and their goal-scoring abilities, Robertson remains a step above. Duncan will always have the misfortune of taking over the starting position from Kafra’s best player of all-time, but he has lived up to expectations and has delivered some fine seasons of his own. In 36 Games, he registered 32 Goals (2nd in League), 7 Assists, 5 PoMs, 4.30 DpG, 58% Shot Target, and 7.58 AR – this was the second time in his career he had scored over 30 League Goals in a single season. He was the leader of the best offense in the Premier League, and he has this ability to give you goals in a hurry and when you least expect them. Between him and Neill, we are looking at 60+ League Goals almost, so we are likely to stay the best offensive team for a while.
Peter Johnson (2056), 20 Years Old – Central Midfielder: The emergence of Turki Awad and Lee King has led to an influx of young talent at the CM position, and that resulted in Johnson having less playing time than last season. In 24 Games, he registered 2 Assists, 2.79 TpG, 80% Pass Ratio, 1.39 DpG, and 7.03 AR – his numbers were definitely down from last season, but still at a respectable level. The worrying thing about Johnson is that he is proving my coaching staff right – they were never high on his potential, rating him a 3/5 for PA, and I have not seen noticeable improvement in his abilities over the past two years. If this remains the case, he goes from being my favorite young prospect to a third choice CM behind the higher rated Awad and King. Peter Johnson Training Levels
Jermaine Ward (2057), 20 Years Old – Left Winger: Despite his attribute improvements, consistency remains Ward’s because weakness at this point. He has all the right tools – great speed, good technical ability, and the right mentality, but he still has not turned into a reliable member of the first team yet. That’s alright, because we do have Neill who plays down the left wing, but the versatile Ward has the potential to be really good. In 19 Games, he registered 5 Goals, 4 Assists, 2.35 TpG, 2.12 DpG, and 6.94 AR – this was only his third full season with the club, so I am not expecting world-class form, but he will have to pick it up a little bit next season. I would like to see 7.00+ AR from him and more relevance during games. Jermaine Ward Training Levels
Lee King (2057), 19 Years Old – Central Midfielder: He might be the most versatile player on the squad, capable of playing in four positions in my lineup. This was his first season of note with us as he spent last year on loan, and he did rather well. In 18 Games, he registered 3 Assists, 2.53 TpG, 76% Pass Ratio, 1.49 DpG, and 7.21 AR. Not only that, but he showed tremendous growth in his attributes, and my coaching staff currently have him at 4.5/5 PA. His technical abilities need to continue to improve, but otherwise, he has almost pushed past Johnson in the pecking order at the CM position. Lee King Training Levels
Turki Awad (2058), 19 Years Old – Central Midfielder: Out of my three CM prospects, I believe Awad has the most potential and the highest ceiling, and my coaching staff agree as they have him at 5/5 PA. In 23 Games, he registered 4 Assists, 2.12 TpG, 75% Pass Ratio, and 7.26 AR while showing the type of progress I want to see in terms of attribute development. I believe that in a few years, it will be Awad as the permanent starter at CM with King and Johnson fighting over the other CM starting spot. He is still young, though, and he still needs to show a lot of progress in his attributes to make that happen. I am confident he will get to that point, however. Turki Awad Training Levels
Barry Perry (2059), 17 Years Old – Attacking Midfielder Midfielder: What I am happiest about is that his tutoring jumped his Determination from 10 to 17 over the course of the season, and now he probably ranks just behind Awad as the prospect I am most excited about. This kid has been labelled the next Bobby Charlton by the media, so I am not the only one excited about him and his potential. Barry Perry Training Levels
Simon Herbert - Anthony Dobson
The good news is, we got cover in two positions we desperately need it: right wing and central defense. The bad news is, neither Herbert or Dobson look like the type that can be the impact player I want at the positions above. That is not to say they don’t have potential, but it is going to take a lot of improvement – especially from Dobson – to get to that point. Herbert is the obvious best player of this Intake, but even he is greatly impressive. Still, it could have been worse, I guess.
2060/61 PRESEASON REPORT
Our defensive worries will continue into the new season, and that is our primary issue. Alex Hooper, despite how high I was about him a couple of years back, has disappointed me, and it looks like we are going to have to deal with a step down from Akil Joseph over the next few years. Isasi can’t be a full time starter anymore, and Johnson reached that point last season – in their place, we have Atkins and Meyers, and both are not as good as their predecessors. Our CD issues continue, and in all honesty, that is the biggest problem I have right now – who will start next to Watts. New Intake prospect Dobson is nowhere near talented enough, but he might be my best option – that is how bad the situation is. The good news is that things get better as you go further down the pitch – our CMs are young but talented, especially Awad and King. Our wing positions could not be in better shape with Neill and Dawson, although the right wing position is shallow and will continue to be until Simon Herbert develops enough to be a contributor. The frontline is manned by legendary midfielder Daniel Friar and striker Ken Duncan – absolutely no worries there.
A title is always a possibility, and we should be contenders, but I cannot say I would rank us as one of the favorites. A 2nd or 3rd Place finish is a realistic target, but if my offense can turn it up one more level and the defense does better than last season, then we have a real shot at our third ever Premier League title. The Champions League continues to be the venue for our underachievement, so the aim is to make it past the Quarter-Finals this season!