PARMA CALCIO 1913 - 2020/2021
Final stretch of the season is here! In good form and hoping to finish the season strongly. Buoyed by the Coppa Italia success, the players are raring to go!
In-House news: 3 players selected for the u20 World Cup, disappointed to see some players not going like Da Graca. It would be a good chance for Ivonei to get u20 caps in order to hopefully allowed him to be registered next season. The u20s also did their Coppa and League double. Promising future!
Would you believed it? A further 3 '1-0' victory, to make it 9 straight of such win! Not sure if I should be pleased (I am) or worried that our goals are drying up (I am also). With Gomez not playing well against Udinese, Inglese came in for the game against Atlanta and got the required goal. Was planning to keep choosing Inglese for the rest of the season but he got a 7 weeks injury to end his season after twisting his ankle in training before the game against Genoa. After the win against Atlanta, we got the messages below, about to beat our previous record of 10 straight win and about to set a new consecutive clean sheet record. Excitement and nervousness in equal measures! Roma lost to Cagliari, so Inter retained their Seria A title with 2 games to go.
So, can we do it? The news officially came together at midnight after yet another 1-0 win against Genoa! Of the 3 games so far in May, Genoa caused us the most troubles and the whole defence had to be at their best to keep the clean sheet. Ecstatic to get it! The clean sheet record might stay for a while once it's over. We have also confirmed our Champions League place together with Inter and Roma.
Our last game of the season was against already relegated Benevento at home. Can we continue our '1-0' victory sequence? All the games leading up to this I've been using a positive mentality. Since this is the last game at home, I decided to let the players loose and enjoy themselves. It is also a chance to give something back to the fans. With an 'Attacking' mentality, we stormed to a 5-0 victory, breaking our '1-0 Parma' tag. Was I disappointed not to get another 1-0 win? In a way yes haha as it is unique situation for me as I've never experienced anything like it before. Despite the big win, Benevento caused us some trouble defensively and I was worried that we might finally concede (I'm sure they will come back up at the first time of asking). But Brazao and the defence doesn't seem want the run to end and put in a concentrated effort, especially in the last 10 minutes of the game.
Verdict: 1-0 is definitely enough, if you are this Parma! What an end to the season!
END OF SEASON AWARDS
Usually, the day after my last game I would get a message regarding Parma's End of Season Awards but it is not appearing? A bug?
Olaza got his' Player of the Year' award! Great first season from him. Brazao, Birindelli, and Olaza got into the 'Team of the Year'. But Brazao is second for 'Goalkeeper of the Year'? How does that work? The fact that 3 of my defenders are in the top 3 for Defenders of the Year' reflected our season well. Xadas's consistency helped him got the 'Midfielder of the Year' over Despodov, who had a great goalscoring season. I'm considering him as a transfer target (see below).
Botturi and Da Graca got their respective u19s awards. Gomez someway behind in the Topscorer rankings, with him finishing on 13 goals and Ingles on 7 goals. Fatih Terim got my vote as 'Manager of the Year', just missing out on a Champions League place on the final day of the season. Genoa, Cagliari, and Palermo all had a great season finishing in the top half of the table. Cagliari just missed out on Europa League on the last day of the season as well.
END OF SEASON REVIEW & THOUGHTS
As I mentioned above, I still hasn't received Parma's End of Season Awards. A bit weird?
Anyway, first time in my Parma career that we are able to finish strongly in the season. The improved defence did their part and I'm happy with how everything have unfolded since our lost to Man Utd. Wanted another crack at Europa League next season but got Champions League. Finishing above Roma is unexpected as Jose Mourinho's team don't usually collapsed after leading the table for most weeks of the season. Napoli was the other end of season form team, just pipping Genoa, Milan, and Juventus for the final CL spot.
Players - Where to start? Brazao (18 clean sheets), Birindelli (knocking on Italy's door now), Olaza (for me signing of the season and giving so much balance defensively and offensively on the left hand side), Tonali (starting to feel important now, especially in the big games, as his presence on the ball allowed us to be braver in the middle of the field), Xadas for all his assists and goals, Sprocati for all his goals. I also feel both Gomez and Inglese contributed their parts, but I am expecting better from them next season.
Special mentions - To Minelli for filling in for Olaza admirably over a stretch of 2 months, more than enough to cement his future at the club. To Bastoni for recovering his form and remembering how to play just in time to kickstart our run of winning and defensive sequence. You will be missed!
Diakhate had a tale of two half-seasons. Majestic in the first half, and the pressure getting to him in the second half. But he's a promising talent and will be a fixture in our midfield for many years. Stulac on the other hand, has not reached the heights of his first 2 seasons. Mainly due to exhaustion and niggling injuries in the first part of the season, before recapturing some of his form later on. The fact that he scored all his 3 goals in the early months of the season suggested how everything caught up to him physically. But he still ended up with 8 assists towards the end. Disappointingly though, he only scored one free kick this season (the injury time goal against Benevento 3-3).
The board set aside £22m+ of transfer budget, I think a bit lower than previous season (as I bought Gomez for £25m). Still, not many positions that jumped at me that I would like to get in within the budget. Before I started the game, my transfer targets were Pavon, Lozano, van de Beek, Rodrigo Caio, Tagliafico... All of them have wages demands beyond our means and as in the case of Pavon and Lozano, they already made high profile transfers (Pavon went to Barca then Monaco, whilst Lozano is at Liverpool). Whilst others are still at their original club and their transfer fees are within budget, but their wage demands would make them the best paid players at the club above Gomez. This is unsuitable for us as I also have Stulac, Xadas, and Tonali who wanted new contracts all season but backed down after having a conversation with them and being a pro about it. I can imagine all 3 will double or triple their wages with the forthcoming new contracts already. I have since dropped my interest in Tagliafico due to Olaza and Minelli. Rodrigo Caio is still of interest, as I'm considering if he can replace Bastoni instead. But I decided I still want my balance with a left footer there.
Possible Transfers Out
I don't have anyone I'm actively want to sell at the moment but they are some who I might considered selling. En-Nesyri and Spalek demanded new contracts and I didn't give in as they're already on good wages and they're not first team players. They were unhappy for a bit before dropping it but now they think of me as their adversary. If I can get Vignato I might consider letting Spalek go, same for Despodov who can cover both of En-Nesyri and Spalek positions. Palacios is another name that I might considered selling if I have good offers for him. Whilst on paper he is my best midfielder, but his contribution to how my team plays is minimal (just like Pereira previously, but at least he scored lots of goals). van de Beek might be a good replacement for him.
Possible Transfers In
As you know by know, my main concern would be the starting left sided-CB position. In the beginning of May, I made an offer to extend Bastoni's loan but was rejected. When I made an enquiry, I was given £40m+ as a number. I could structured the deal in order to get him but I preferred not use instalments as I think that will make the game too easy as you can get more players in. I have 2 strong candidates that I'm considering at the moment to come in. Luperto (Napoli) and Cozza (Montpellier). Whilst Luperto is a much a better player than Cozza, he's still below Bastoni's quality.
Some things I need to consider when it comes to Luperto vs Cozza - £1.9m transfer listed vs estimated £7.5 non-transfer listed value, 2 years older but closest to Bastoni in style, Cozza have the interesting option of playing as a Libero but he is also not dominant in the air. I will give Bastoni another try in early June then if that failed, I will have to decide between this two players (Botturi will be the backup). Though, for that price, Luperto is still an attractive addition even if I managed to get Bastoni in somehow. Decisions.
Bastoni, Valery, and Lo Celso will end their loan stints at the club. I would have liked to get Valery but he just signed a new contract and was quoted £66m when I enquired. Lo Celso's contract is ending with PSG but I won't be interested in taking him on. Inglese have another season of his loan deal (at 30% of his wage). Hoever also have another 12 months of his loan to run, and he will provide backup to Birindelli. So, I don't have to get in a new right back for now. No further loan deal will come in at the moment.
Of those out on loan, Krajnc is a definite sell (he have an optional £1.5m but not sure if it will activated as he rarely played), same with Mauri's £7.5m optional fees. Guga I might keep around in the squad, just incase Hoever is unable to provide the needed cover. The rest will go out on loan again or will be sold if there's any offer for them. Interesting to note that Dao, Krajnc, Guga are all relegated this season.
Will look to loan Senesi to a Spanish club next season and Farinez have another season on loan at Leganes, who just survived relegation. Before my last game against Benenvento, I got a message below saying they just beat Barcelona (when I checked that result it costed Barca the league with Madrid winning on +4 goal difference on the last day, whilst securing Leganes season). Farinez will challenge Joel Pereira to be the understudy to Brazao after that, with whoever ended up as the 3rd choice being sold to make space for my regen Hyso.
Verdict: Great season, now to prepare for a better, but harder European campaign. It will be a season of stability next, with focus on renewing contracts and minimal additions to the squad as needed. Our finances are still meagre compared to other more established clubs, as we only have £21m+ in the bank balance. Prudence will be key to make this a long enjoyable save.
Welcome any comments and feedbacks. Would be interesting to see other Parma saves as well.
Will post the next update when I got the End of Season Awards for Parma (hopefully it will come).