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The Journeyman

This is a simple save. I start the game unemployed as myself but with global reputation and a Pro license and see what I'm offered after 2/3 months. If I like the look of what's on offer I'll take, if not then I'll wait until I do like something. 

After a few months, I was offered both the Spartak Moscow and Levante jobs. Spartak were struggling by their standards down in 6th place in the Russian League and 3rd in their Champions League group which consisted of Bayern Munich, Inter and Real Madrid. Sort the league form out and try to maintain 3rd in the group didn't seem like such a tough ask, plus if I didn't manage to secure European football into the new year it wouldn't exactly be unexpected considering the group of death they were drawn into. Levante on the other hand were struggling in La Liga down in 19th place. Just 3 wins up to the 12th November had left Levante fighting to maintain their league status. I decided this was the job for me and forfeited Champions League football on this occasion for the opportunity to manage in the most reputable league in Europe and attempt to preserve Levante's La Liga status. I took over on the 12/11/19.

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As I said, when I took over, Levante were down in 19th. The league was very tight at the bottom with just 6 points separating the bottom 8 teams, another reason I decided to take the job as I believed we had more than enough time to get ourselves out of the mess the previous manager had created. Levante had some decent players on the books too, including Ruben Vezo, Nemanja Radoja and loanee from Real Madrid, Borja Mayoral.

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My first match in charge was the 1-0 over Celta Vigo on 24/11/19. Things started to go downhill again soon after though with just 1 point from a possible 12 before we beat Torrevieja in the Copa Del Rey in our final match before the winter break. Our league form was still patchy as we entered 2020 but we did manage another win in the cup, beating Badajoz this time.

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Unfortunately the good luck in the cup draws didn't continue as Sevilla thrashed us in the 3rd round. February was the turning point though, we managed 3 wins from 5 matches whilst losing against the big 2 from Madrid. In March we managed 2 more wins, the first of which was against Real Sociedad who were 4th at the time, then a mammoth 6-2 win over Mallorca. Into April and while we weren't picking up as many points as we'd like, we were definitely proving harder to beat. 3 draws in a row included an eventful 4-4 at home to Celta. We ended April with the first of 3 wins on the bounce which effectively kept us up, the first of which coming against Espanyol, then Sevilla then finally Villarreal. We lost our final derby of the season against Valencia but drew the final game of the season against Osasuna which meant the table ended up looking like this.

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We finished 10th, a far cry from the lowly 19th I took the club over in. We had a very positive 2nd half of the season and despite a few shaky results here and there, this team clearly has the talent to finish in the top half of the league, which will be the aim again next season for the club. Here's the transfer business we conducted after taking charge (those highlighted and below are the deals sanctioned by me).

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The first signing I made was a goalkeeper, Wuilker Farinez from Millonarios. An absolute bargain at just £2m from Colombia, he became our number 1 keeper for the remainder of the season. Matteo Guendouzi came in on loan from Arsenal and became a real mainstay in the centre of the park for us, scoring 2 goals too. Luke Daley was signed on a pre-contract but when the deal was confirmed, I could bring him to the club now for next to nothing so exercised that option too. Janik Haberer came in on loan from Freiburg as we needed some more firepower upfront for reasons I'll get into later. Benoit Badiashile was initially brought in as a central defender for the future but ended up getting a lot more game time than anticipated and really looked at home in La Liga. Martin Braithwaite could play anywhere across the front and out wide so was a really good utility man to have. I paid a little more than I would have liked but he didn't command a big wage so it wasn't the end of the world. Vinicius Junior joined on loan for the remainder of the season from Real Madrid and shone, scoring 6 goals in 16 appearances. Isaac Success also came in but was immediately playing second fiddle to Vinicius, however I was hoping Success would be more of a success next season without the superior Vinicius in his way. Finally a youngster came in from Celta, Miguel Rodriguez. He'll be playing in the B team for now.

Most of the incomings were financed thanks to deals agreed before the window opened. Roger Marti hadn't done anything for me of any note in the few games I had in charge before January, so when Newcastle offered his full value I took it. He's 28 now and supposedly at his peak, but compared to Mayoral he's inferior, so off he went. Tono and Ivan were also sold as neither had been getting near the first team even before I arrived, so to get them off the wage bill too was a plus. Enis Bardhi and Nikola Vukcevic were both sold to China for far more than they are worth. Vukcevic was doing well for me, but he's not worth £20m. Bardhi was barely getting a game either, nor is he worth what the Chinese were offering, so both were sold for a combined £35m. Also, the ageing Oscar Duarte wasn't happy with his game time so was also sold.

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The Journeyman

As we entered the new season, more changes in the playing squad were afoot.

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Firstly, incomings. We made the signing of Borja Mayoral a permanent one in the summer for £5.5m. He impressed during my tenure last season after only getting 2 sub appearances before my arrival. Also joining from Real Madrid was a huge coup for us, James Rodriguez. Still just 28, we're hoping he's committed his peak years to us and can really propel us up the table with his eye for a goal and creative play. Also coming in on frees were 2 right backs, Dani Morer and Nathaniel Clyne from Barcelona and Liverpool respectively. Clyne will be first choice but my assistant thinks Morer is every bit as good so will definitely challenge. Matteo Guendouzi came back on loan for the season this time. Pione Sisto also joined to provide more depth out wide from Celta. Facundo Pellistri is another player I'm excited about, he's joined from Uruguayan club Penarol for just shy of £12m. Chancel Mbemba and Toni Borevkovic are 2 defenders who'll challenege each other for a centre back spot alongside Ruben Vezo. Alexander Isak also comes in and will either play with or challenge Mayoral up top. Nicola Murru was my final signing on deadline day to provide a little more depth at left back. 

Leaving the club were the likes of Sergio Leon, Hernani, Sergio Postigo, Coke, Moses Simon, Jorge Miramon, Cheick Doukore, Antonio Luna, Ivi, Rober, Martin Braithwaite, Isaac Success, Pepelu and Raphael Dwamena, all for a combined £40m approx. The biggest departure of the summer was Jose Campana who left for Juventus for a huge £35m fee which could rise up to £43m.

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As the season got underway, we started pretty well, remaining unbeaten in our opening 4 matches. We even beat the champions from the season before Atletico Madrid in our first home match of the new season. Our form then started to dip before the highlighted match which was my final one in charge against Malaga where we won 3-1. I left the club in 13th place.

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The Journeyman

Obviously, this isn't a move I would take in real life, however from a football point of view, Villa is a great job. They'd managed to stay in the Premier League in their first season back but did lose a few players in the summer, including Jack Grealish and Tyrone Mings. I took over at Villa on 7/11/20.

Villa had unfortunately been woeful in the league up to now. No wins and just 2 draws had seen them sitting at the bottom of the table when they approached me to become the new man at the helm. I joined on the day of the Southampton match, meaning I had no time to really assess what I had to work with. As you can see, things didn't get off to the best of starts, going down 4-1. In our next match we were 1-0 up with 15 minutes to go, but 2 Ollie Watkins' goals gave Brentford the win we so desperately craved. We then went on a little 4 match unbeaten streak with draws coming against Tottenham, Norwich and Burnley before we finally got the win we deserved after that little run against Brighton. We then lost in the Carabao Cup which I wasn't too worried about before then going on and recording back to back league wins against Bournemouth. Unfortunately though, the joy didn't last as we didn't win again in 2020.

The incoming highlighted deals and those sandwiched in between were the ones sanctioned by me. In came Brandley Kuwas to play on the right. Brandon Williams came on loan from Man U to provide cover at left back after we let Centelles go back to Valencia due to his poor injury record. We really needed a keeper as both Heaton and Kalinic were past their best, so in came Emiliano Martinez from Arsenal. Definitely an upgrade to what we have now. Joao Mario came in from Inter for a fee nowhere near what he's worth and I really hope he can become a mainstay in the team and finally coming in was a new centre back, Matt Clarke from Brighton. 

We got rid of some deadwood at the club in this window too, out when Jota and Lansbury, Kourtney Hause for £7m, a good deal in my opinion, Amin Younes was moaning about game time so was moved on for a decent fee although not quite what he was worth, Heaton left too as did Mbwana Samatta for £10m. 

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Unfortunately though, we couldn't win throughout January and ended the month with me tendering my resignation. I had failed to get a real tune out of the quality that is there in that squad, they just didn't show it often enough. The board were also very annoyed at me for not sticking to their oh so important 'sign players under the age of 23 to sell for a profit' philosophy. Unfortunately, what they fail to understand is that a club staring relegation flat in the face isn't an attractive proposition to a young, Premier League standard talent, so when the club offer deals that are financially on a par with most others in the league but can't offer the prospect of European football next season, there's only one place these lads are gonna go. As I say, the board didn't buy that and after a short meeting, I was out of the door and Villa were looking for their 3rd manager of the season.

Edited by danmcconnell1
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The Journeyman

So after a short an unsuccessful spell in my hometown, a huge opportunity presented itself in the shape of KRC Genk of Belgium. Genk are famed for their academy with the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Thibaut Courtois and Leandro Trosssard, therefore if I can help the club nurture talent anywhere near that good I'm sure it'll make my life much easier. I took over on 1/3/21.

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The club found themselves down in 6th place after a poor run ahead of my appointment, therefore we really needed to ensure we finished in the Championship group, where the season splits in the middle of March in a similar way to Scotland. We had just 2 matches to ensure our Championship Group spot and won both matches emphatically, beating Eupen and Union SG by a combined 8-1 scoreline. The Championship group then got underway and we continued our good form against Cercle Brugge then Anderlecht, favourites for the title, beating them 2-0. A draw against Standard Liege followed but we won again against Gent before falling to Antwerp 3-0. That really hurt us as the good form that coincided with my arrival meant we were in with a really good chance of winning the title. Another win against Cercle Brugge followed which set up a huge 6 pointer against league leaders Anderlecht, we were 3 points behind them in 2nd at the time. Unfortunately we lost which all but gave them the title. Despite picking up 7 points from our final 3 matches, Anderlecht won the league with a game to spare.

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If the league came down to points won throughout the season, we'd have won it. However, when the league splits in Belgium, points are cut by 50% which really hurt us in the end. 

Going into the summer, we needed to do business to ensure we won the title next time around.

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Firstly, I only made one signing, a centre back, Milos Veljkovic from Werder Bremen. Leaving the club were the likes of Jun'ya Ito, Radi, Daehli, Dellatorre, Borges, Leliendal, Kalonji, Bongonda and de Norre. This was mainly due to the strength of the prospects coming through at the club as well as players returning from loan deals who would provide depth to the squad.

However, another job became available right at the end of July which really took my fancy. I applied, was interview and voila....

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Back to England and the Premier League.

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The Journeyman

So after picking up my 4th job in the space of 2 seasons, I now hope it's time to kick on and really put my stamp on a team in the top half of the Premier League and hopefully beyond. Ancelotti had left for the red and white half of Madrid in Atletico and Goodison was my new home.

Here's the transfer business done before my arrival and after.

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The club made 2 signings before my arrival, Ludovic Blas and Yusuf Yazici. My first signing was Bryan Heynen who was my captain back at Genk. A tenacious central midfielder, I hope he can become a real favourite here at my new club. Next in was a couple of left backs, Luke Shaw from Man U for a cut price and Vitaly Mykolenko from Inter. Shaw has proven Premier League quality and Mykolenko is good enough to challenge him too, so we're well stocked in this position now. Andras Nemeth scored a couple of goals for me at Genk too and at just 18 looks the business. A £4.5m deal was enough to bring him to England. Next in was Allan Saint-Maximin. A player I really like in real life, he's just been promoted with Newcastle after scoring 10 goals in a fruitful Championship season. I've played up to almost the end of January at this point so I'll cover the January signings too. Dean Henderson was available at a cut price again from Man U so he comes in as backup to Jordan Pickford and is a far better keeper than the current number 2 Jonas Lossl. Eddie Nketiah also joins after barely getting a game at Arsenal over the last 2 seasons. Also in was Cristian Romero, a centre back from Juventus. With Michael Keane ageing and not the player he was, he is making noise about wanting to leave the club on loan, which incidentally happened in the end with him joining Olympiakos until the end of the season. Romero is certainly an upgrade on Yerry Mina so he'll become first choice alongise Mason Holgate at the centre of the defence.

Leaving the club following my arrival were Julian Draxler to Valencia, Gylfi Sigurdsson to Villa, Lucas Digne to Lazio, Kurzawa to Famalicao, Bernard to Leeds, Delph to Suwon, Iwobi to Schalke and Lossl to Amiens. These deals brought in a combined total of approximately £114m as well as a lot in wages saved too.

Here's the squad as of 23rd January 2022.

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I'm happy with the squad as it stands, although there is business that may still get done which I'll get onto in a moment.

In goal we have England number 1 Jordan Pickford with Henderson as backup. At right back we have club captain Seamus Coleman and academy product Jonjoe Kenny. Centre backs are the aforementioned Holgate, Mina, Romero as well as Jarrad Branthwaite. Left backs have also been mentioned before with Mykolenko and Shaw challenging each other. Moving into midfield we have Tom Davies, Andre Gomes, Bryan Heynen and Ludovic Blas. On the wings generally are Richarlison, Saint-Maximin, Deulofeu, Olsen and Gordon. Yazici is more of an attacking midfielder which I don't tend to use so he's not getting the game time he was perhaps promised under the previous manager. Up top we have Calvert-Lewin, Moise Kean, Andras Nemeth and new arrival Nketiah. 

I'm very happy with the stats in the squad up to this point. We have a decent spread of goals around the team too, which I like as we're not reliant on one player to score goals. Kean is having his best season in an Everton shirt by a mile scoring 15 so far. Richarlison has the same number of goals from out wide which I'm very happy with too. He does play up top from time to time but the majority of his goals come when he's wide left. Calvert-Lewin is one behind. He's not registered since the beginning of December so hopefully he'll find his goal scoring touch again soon. We have a steady flow of goals from our other midfielders too with Deulofeu, Saint-Maximin and Andre Gomes all registering a few too. All in all I'm happy with the progress we're making up to now and I hope we can really kick on as the season continues.

As I said, there is potential transfer business to be done in this window as China have come calling for Deulofeu offering more than he is worth and although he's done very well for me in the first half of the season, he is injury prone and at 27 I'd have hoped he'd be the first name on the team sheet, unfortunately he's not and it makes sense to cash in on a player when a club are offering far more than he is worth with potential for the deal to increase in value depending on clauses at his new club. I've also had a bid for Birmingham's Jude Bellingham accepted, so it's only a matter of time it would seem before he joins the squad too.

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I played just one friendly as all others had been played prior to my arrival. My first match in charge was an emphatic win against Southampton on the opening day, we ran out 7-0 victors. We then lost to Spurs and our rivals Liverpool but ended the month with a strong win against newly promoted Stoke. Another win followed before we began our Europa League campaign. We were drawn against Dinamo, Austria Vienna and Cluj. We won our first 5 matches in Europe, drawing the last one meaning we finished top of our group. Our form was patchy in the league in September but we picked it up in October losing just once. November brought a continuation of our decent form until we lost that mojo in December where we drew too many matches. January has been a disaster to far as we've failed to win any matches in 3 different competitions. Derby knocked us out of the FA Cup while the Carabao Cup semi final 1st leg ended in defeat at home to Man U. Our next match is against them in the 2nd leg at Old Trafford where I hope we can not only turn the tie around, but also our fortunes. Here's how the table looks heading into the remainder of the season.

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We are right in the middle of the pack, 10th place. That's probably about right considering our patchy form throughout the campaign. The board only expect a top half finish which is more than achievable considering the quality in the squad and how well I know they can play. If we can tighten up at the back a little more and stop conceding so many goals we should be able to achieve that no problem. We've already qualified for the 2nd knockout phase of the Europa League by virtue of winning our group so that's one less match we have to play there. Depending on the luck of the draw, we could do well in Europe, with the winner of the Europa League of course qualifying directly for the Champions League.

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The Journeyman

Just a quick update to round off January and the remainder of the transfer market.

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First off, we did sell Gerard Deulofeu to Beijing in a deal which could reach over £35m. In the meantime, we signed Bellingham from Birmingham for £22m. He signed just before the semi final 2nd leg against Man U but unfortunately was cup tied. We also sent a few youngsters out on loan including Anthony Gordon who had been in and around the first team but needs some regular first team minutes so he's gone to Sheff Wed.

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The final 2 matches of the month couldn't have been more different from one and other. We couldn't overturn the deficit at Old Trafford in the Carabao Cup semi final and ended up losing the tie 4-0 on aggregate. However our fortunes quickly changed when we welcomed Spurs to Goodison. They have a new manager in Diego Simeone who was taking charge of his first match. Famed for defensive prowess, Simeone's side were lackluster and we pounced, racing into a 4-0 lead before half time. Bellingham made his debut and scored the opener which was very pleasing too. Spurs got a couple back in the 2nd half through former Everton man Nikola Vlasic but we rounded off the victory with Kean grabbing a brace as well as Richarlison to take their tallies for the season to 17 each.

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That win against Spurs saw us jump to 9th at the end of the month. January has been poor in general so we need to push on and get some results in February if we want to be challenging for European spots again.

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The Journeyman

After a great result to round off January, we enter February in good spirits and hope to continue that kind of form.

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We did manage to record another win against Southampton thanks to 2 Moise Kean goals, but unfortunately things fell apart away to Man U again, as well as poor defeat to round off the month at home to struggling Wolves. Kean and Richarlison both now stand on 19 goals for the season though so while it's clear we don't seem to have too much trouble scoring goals, it's keeping them out at the other end where we seem to be having issues. Romero and Holgate haven't really hit it off as a partnership yet, although Holgate did miss the demolition against United through injury. February was of course a short month due to the winter break, so we go into March with optimism that we can turn things around. 

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We end the month in 10th, falling one place due to those 2 defeats. It's going to be difficult to catch the likes of Bournemouth and Arsenal so if we can try and get as many points as we can then anything above 9th would be a real bonus considering how inconsistent we are.

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The Journeyman

After a pretty poor February, we needed to try and bounce back in March with some good results as we welcomed European football back too.

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It's been relatively poor again domestically, however we did manage to progress into the Europa League quarter finals with a 2 legged win over Celtic. Losses in the league against Newcastle and Chelsea sandwiched an emphatic win against West Ham which all but got their manager Moyes the sack. After the wins against Celtic we've been drawn to face Porto in the quarter finals of the Europa League.

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We remain in the middle of the table in 10th heading towards the business end of the season.

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The Journeyman

After a poor month, April's fixture list looked like there were some winnable games in it.

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Unfortunately, we were shocking domestically. We kicked things off with a draw against Aston Villa, despite being 2-0 up at half time. We then thrashed Porto in the Europa League quarter final first leg which essentially gave us one foot in the semis. We then lost to the league's bottom club Crystal Palace who have subsequently been relegated before the end of April which was a real kick in the teeth following the win against Porto just 3 days before. We lost the second leg in Portugal but the early away goal we scored made things pretty academic for the remainder of that match. Back to back league defeats followed, including a 2-1 defeat to Bournemouth who played the majority of the 2nd half with 10 men, plus they scored their goals in the 88th and 93rd minutes which was really frustrating. Stoke also beat us with 2 goals inside the opening 12 minutes at Goodison. I'm hoping the Europa League semi final 1st leg win against Manchester United will be a catalyst to spark us into action for the remainder of the season though. A fantastic win at Goodison gives us a real chance of making the final where, if we can hold onto things at Old Trafford, we could face either Juventus or Dortmund.

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After such a poor month in the league I was pretty happy to see we'd only dropped one place in the league to 11th. The board want a top half finish though so ideally we need to win all of our final 3 matches, the first of which is the 2nd Merseyside derby of the season at Anfield. Our final home match of the season is against league leaders and probable winners Manchester City, then we round things off away at Leicester.

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The Journeyman

We enter the final month of the season with just 3 matches left and the upper hand in the semi final of the Europa League after a brilliant 1st leg win over Man U.

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We began May with another defeat in the league, losing the Merseyside derby meaning Liverpool did the double over us this season. We followed that up with another defeat, this time at Old Trafford, but because it was only 1-0, we won the tie 3-2 on aggregate and would face Dortmund in the final at De Kuip in Rotterdam. After the elation of reaching the Europa League final, we beat the champions in waiting Man City at Goodison which meant they had to wait to be confirmed champions. We then drew our final match of the season against Leicester.

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The biggest result of the month though was of course the Europa League final where we thrashed Dortmund 3-0 thanks to a brace from Moise Kean either side of a Dominic Calvert-Lewin goal. We thoroughly deserved to win this match and in turn, despite an 11th place finish in the league, had qualified for next season's Champions League by virtue of winning this competition. I'm really hoping we can keep our top stars and perhaps add a few more defensive minded players to sure up the defence. We'll see who's available in the summer and what business we can do.

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On the whole, it's been a successful season. We got to the semi finals of the Carabao Cup, finished 11th in the Premier League and won the Europa League, so we played a lot of matches. Moise Kean finally came into his own in an Everton shirt, scoring 28 goals in total, including 2 in the Europa League final. Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored 21, although his form really did dip around the turn of the year, he started scoring regularly again from around the middle of March to end his best goal scoring season to date. Richarlison also reached the 20 goal mark for the first time in his career too, most of the time playing out wide, he's really done well this year. Andreas Skov Olsen finished with 8, 6 of which came at important times in the Europa League. He struggled for game time with the form of Richarlison and Saint-Maximin but at just 21, still has time on his side. Andre Gomes scored 7 including 4 penalties. Bryan Heynen had a very good first season in England ending up with 10 assists which I was very pleased with, it'd be great if he could kick on next season and grab a few more goals although he does have the supremely talented Jude Bellingham to contend with so may not get as much game time next season. My other signing from Genk, Andras Nemeth, managed 4 goals in his introductory season in England. Not the worst return for a player who at just 18 has the world at his feet. On a final note, Seamus Coleman made a cameo appearance in the Europa League final which will be his last in an Everton shirt, he's been a loyal servant and captain to the club but with the emergence of Jonjoe Kenny and others pushing for first team places, plus the fact he's out of contract at the end of the season, now seems like a fitting time to end his 14 year spell at the club.

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The Journeyman

After a fantastic end to last season, work began immediately on trying to improve our Premier League position as well as preparing for Europe's elite competition, the Champions League.

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First of all we'll take a look at our transfer business on the eve of the new season.

First through the door was Andrea Conti for a fee just shy of £8m from AC Milan. With Coleman leaving the club, we were a little short at RB therefore we need extra cover in that position and Conti is an experienced player with European and international experience therefore he seemed like a good fit for us. Also in was Wuilker Farinez from my former club Levante. The Venezuelan was my first signing as a manager when managing in Spain and has improved significantly therefore will challenge for the number 1 spot for reasons I'll get to soon. Now, I'd already signed Conti to replace Coleman, however, when Aaron Wan-Bissaka became available at a cut price £27m from Manchester United, despite being well stocked in the RB position, I thought I'd be silly to pass up on the opportunity of signing him. Staying on the defensive side of things and considering the amount of games we lost in the league last season, I decided to improve at centre back too. Ferro of Benfica was available for a cool £28m and became my 4th signing of the summer. Next through the door were 4 free signings that were agreed throughout the remainder of last season. With Jonas Lossl leaving, we were relatively short in goal with just Pickford and Henderson at the time, so with Jaume Domenech's contract coming to an end at Chelsea this summer, I snapped him up after trying to sign him when at Aston Villa, he turned me down at that time and I can't say I blamed him. Pietro Pellegri is one I'm very excited about. Signed by Monaco for £22m aged just 17, he only ever scored 1 league goal for them in and amongst a few loan spells. He's still one for the future but aged just 21, I'm really hoping he'll become a mainstay in the side in years to come. Lucien Agoume is also another youngster signed for free this summer, this time from Inter. He's another one I'm excited about and will try and develop him over the next few seasons. Deji Sotona was the final freebie in this summer from Man U, he's well recommended by my chief scout therefore I'll keep an eye on how he improves over the season. Nicolas Pepe was another one available for a cut price at just £37.5m from Arsenal. He spent last season on loan at Porto and he impressed me when we came up against his side in last season's Europa League so I'm pleased to have him on board to help provide more depth out wide. Finally, for now, through the door is Arthur from Barcelona. The Catalan club have been good to Everton over the last few years with Andre Gomes and Yerry Mina (still at the club) and Lucas Digne all serving us well, Arthur is yet another player available for far less than he's worth, we took another punt and have plenty of cover in the middle of the park now.

First out of the door was Ancelotti's final signing as Everton manager, Yusuf Yazici. I feel a little bad for him as he was brilliant for me and didn't let me down whenever he was called upon, he just didn't fit into the style of football I like my team to play, so with the opportunity to make a profit on his transfer fee became available it was a no brainer. The next player out of the club was England's number one keeper Jordan Pickford. He left for Arsenal for a total £60m. Now he was very good for me and I was reluctant to negotiate their enquiry, however with the knowledge of Farinez being available from my former club for approx £10m as well as being just as good, if not better than Pickford, it made sense to cash in on him, especially with Arsenal not hesitating in offering the full £60m asking price. A few loan deals were confirmed, the most high profile of the early window being Andras Nemeth to Rotherham. I'm hoping he can really have a breakthrough season down in League 1. Ludovic Blas was next out of the club for £18m to Brentford. Again he just couldn't get into the side last season so it made sense to move him on and make another profit. Academy graduate Keiran Dowell also left the club to join Seoul. It'll be a new experience for him in South Korea. Gbamin's Everton career never really took off and to get more than he was worth from my former club Aston Villa was another no brainer. Eddie Nketiah didn't really impress me during his loan spell therefore was another one moved on this summer to join Brighton, making another profit which I think is important. Incoming freebies Pellegri and Sotona both left the club on loan therefore will get a lot more game time this year than initially I expected. Pellegri will also play in the Championship for Blackburn. Another youngster left the club, permanently this time, in Fraser Hornby. Michael Keane left for China after spending the 2nd half of last season on loan in Greece, he's just not up to standard any more. Anthony Gordon and Nicolas Cozza were the final 2 out of the club for a combined approx. £14m and that, for now, is the conclusion of our transfer business for the campaign. 

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Here's the first team squad ahead of the new season. Even though Domenech was only signed in the summer, we've had a bid for him which is very attractive considering we've signed him for nothing, therefore with 2 top quality keepers already at the club, despite my earlier worries about depth, I decided to accept and see what happens. I have other keepers in my sights, some of which are available, to add depth to the squad so we'll see what happens there. Conti and Agoume have both been made available for loan too. Neither will be first choice players therefore if we get an offer I'd be inclined to accept, more so for Agoume as I don't see him getting ahead of Bellingham, Gomes, Heynen and Arthur just yet, therefore a loan move would be good for him. We may add some further depth upfront, but for now we'll see how we get on at the beginning of the season. 

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Finally, with the World Cup being moved to the end of 2022, our season will begin in late July with one of our most anticipated matches of the season away at Anfield against Liverpool. Our Champions League group is yet to be announced, however we will of course play in the European Super Cup where we'll face Barcelona. We have a lot to look forward to this season, but in all honesty, as wonderful as it is to be in the Champions League, it will not be my priority. That will be the league. We must improve on our 11th place finish last time around and with the board now expecting European football of some kind next season, we have to improve domestically. Obviously doing well in cup competitions would be great and depending on how far we get in them may become more of a priority than I initially intended as winning them can result in European qualification of course, but I would much prefer to qualify for Europe through our league position after breaking the club's trophy duck last season already.

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The Journeyman

So with the early start to the season due to this year's winter World Cup, the season began in late July so this update will include the first match of the season as well as August's action.

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The campaign got off to a shocking start with a mauling at the hands of our closest rivals at Anfield. The players counted the cost of their poor performance too by refunding those unlucky fans who had to witness it. Despite that shocking start at the end of July, August actually went quite well, particularly with the European Super Cup win against the mighty Barcelona in their home city. Nicolas Pepe scored his first goal for the club and the winner in the final as we swept the Catalan giants aside with a convincing performance. We also faced Leeds twice in the space of 4 days, first of all in the league and then in the Carabao Cup and we won both, the cup tie on penalties.

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It's always nice to see us lifting trophies!

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Whilst most pundits always say to ignore the league table in the early months, it's always nice to see yourselves doing well early on. We end August in 7th place as we head into the first international break of the season.

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The Journeyman

After a somewhat successful August, we were hoping September would bring some more decent results as we try to keep up with the top 7.

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First of all though, after scoring 6 goals in 10 matches for Blackburn early on in the season, and with us looking rather light upfront considering we have Champions League matches to contend with, I decided to bring Pellegri back to the club. As I say, he's started the season brilliantly and although he may not get as many games as he would while out on loan, he will definitely be coming off the bench and perhaps even starting matches for us as we look to continue our march up the table this season.

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Despite not winning a match in September, I'm finding it difficult to be angry. We've played really, really well. The only match we were never in was the drubbing away to Real Madrid and frankly, we can't be expecting to go to the Bernebeu and turn them over at this point. I was happy with the draws against Man City and Fulham, the Derby match we really should have won though but for a dodgy penalty given to them late on. Gravenberch was in inspired form for Ajax as he scored a hat-rick against us. We had Romero sent off late for giving a penalty away against Marseille too which they scored from giving them a draw, again we were unlucky there. 

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Again, despite not winning a match in September, we remain in 7th place with those 3 draws we've picked up in the league. It's been a busy month with 3 Champions League matches to contend with as the winter World Cup approaches. However we remain in with a chance of lifting more silverware this season with our Carabao Cup 4th round tie coming against Fleetwood early next month. I'll be playing a strong team against them as I really do believe we can win a domestic trophy this season. If we do progress against them, we'll face Newcastle in the quarter finals.

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The Journeyman

After a disappointing month in terms of points picked up in the league, it was time to try and kick on and pick up as many as we could before we end the first half of the season ahead of the winter World Cup.

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And that is exactly what we did. We began the month getting back to winning ways in the Potteries with a good 1-0 win there. This would be the only away match of our 7 this month, our next 6 matches unbelievably all at home across 2 competitions. We then followed that up with a comfortable 3-0 win in the Carabao Cup 4th round to set up that aforementioned quarter final with Newcastle. We couldn't keep up that good form against Man U though as we lost 3-0. The result of the month followed quickly afterwards though, a thoroughly convincing 4-1 thrashing of the great Real Madrid at Goodison. We were 2-1 up against Bournemouth heading into stoppage time but a late Callum Wilson penalty saw us drop points again in the league. We did manage another big win in the Champions League though, this time against Ajax, we were 3-0 up after 16 minutes in that one. A late consolation did come for them but we held them at arms length all match. The final match of the month was definitely more of a point gained than 2 lost after we were 2-0 down at half time. 2nd half goals from Calvert-Lewin and Saint Maximin secured a point for us to see our stretch of 6 home matches in a row come to an end. 

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All in all it's been another successful month, especially in the Champions League. We now sit 2nd in the group with 1 match left to play away in Marseille. As for the league, we have dropped down to 9th after 1 win, 2 draws and a defeat. We play just 2 more matches before the World Cup, the first of which is that final Champions League group match against Marseille, then a trip to the Emirates to face Arsenal.

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The Journeyman

November is here and due to the winter World Cup of 2022, we play just 2 matches this month before we break for the feast of international football from Qatar.

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The first of the 2 matches played was a vital one as we went into the final Champions League group stage match against Marseille looking to consolidate 2nd place. We were 3-1 down and about to finish bottom of the group with 24 minutes remaining, however 3 goals in those final 24 minutes ensured an unlikely comeback to see us through as runners up in the group and into the knockout stages of this seasons Champions League. It was a topsy turvey game with mistakes aplenty but we managed to hold on to a vital win and ensure a place at Europe's top table after Christmas. The other game this month saw us travel to the capital to face Arsenal. We did go 2-0 up after 17 minutes but were pegged back in the 2nd half to record our 8th draw already in the league this season, something we really need to address going into the 2nd half of the season. 

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Of course, there's not much movement in the table this month with just the one match being played, however there is confirmation of our 2nd place finish in Group D of the Champions League and we'll find out who we'll face in the 2nd round on 12/12/22.

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The Journeyman

So the extended winter break for the World Cup is now over, here's how the World Cup unfolded.

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Brazil were crowned world champions for a 6th time, thrashing Belgium 5-1 in the final in Doha. It was a fine World Cup for Sean Dyche's England who unfortunately fell short at the semi final stage again, only this time to the eventual champions in Brazil. However they did go one further than 4 years previous by winning the 3rd/4th place playoff against the surprise package of the tournament the Swiss. It wasn't however a good World Cup for defending champions France who were knocked out in the 2nd round to Colombia. Germany also struggled as they were knocked out to Mexico who are perennial 2nd round failures in recent World Cups. What made it even more of a surprise is that Mexico won a penaltuy shoot out against the Germans. Lionel Messi's final World Cup also ended in heartache for him as his Argentina side could only reach the quarter finals before defeat to runners up Belgium. 

After the World Cup, the usual managerial merry go round started at international level and there were plenty of international jobs available. I thought I'd take a punt at the French, Italian and Belgian jobs as I wanted to stay within Europe at the minute and do the job alongside Everton. I was offered all 3 at varying degrees of salary and eventually settled on the job that offered me the 2nd best salary, France.

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With the world's best player in Kylian Mbappe and plenty of other top talents to choose from, I feel as though this could be a great job for me. With just 18 months before the next tournament, Euro 2024, this could be a way to really enhance my reputation in the world game and land a mammoth job at club level in the long run, as well as boost my bank balance of course. We will also play in the Nations League semi finals against Italy next summer which if we win, we'll of course play for the Nations League title. Euro 24 qualifying begins prior to that in March, here's our qualification group. 

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We should have no problems navigating our way through that group to the Euros next summer. Allez Les Blues!

As for matters back on Merseyside, the Premier League season restarted on Boxing Day with a trip to Watford.

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Unfortunately it wasn't the best way to mark the restart and we fell to 17th place Watford 4-1 at Vicarage Road. We did however win in the FA Cup 3rd round away at Sunderland. We played a slightly weakened side as Sunderland are bottom of the Championship and Pellegri started up top alongside Calvert-Lewin and really impressed scoring 2. His total for the season is now 10 with 6 of those coming in August alone for Blackburn, the other 4 for me, 2 in the Champions League and those 2 in the FA Cup tie.

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Despite losing our one league match in December we remain in 11th place. We really need to kick on now and push for a top 7 place, we can't afford to not have European football again next season with the talent we have in this squad.

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The Journeyman

As we welcome in the new year, it's time to get some points on the board in the league if we're going to even try and better our league position of last year. We've drawn far too many matches and it's about time we started turning those draws into wins.

First of all though, I want to round up the transfer activity done this month as there's been a fair bit done, both incoming and outgoing.

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Firstly, outgoings. Vitaly Mykolenko was moaning about a lack of game time towards the end of October, despite playing more matches than Luke Shaw at that time. I said he was getting a fair amount to which he then asked to leave. Lyon signed him for £27m in a deal which was agreed back in November. To counter this departure and keep some depth at left back, I signed David Jezek, a young Czech left back from Sparta Prague for a significantly smaller fee than we sold Mykolenko for. Jezek is as good as Shaw at the minute and at just 18, I'm hoping he can become a mainstay for years to come.

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The next significant departure was Andrea Conti. He was initially signed as backup to Kenny, however as I mentioned before, when Aaron Wan-Bissaka became available, Conti was the unfortunate one, despite his recent arrival, who made way. He didn't seem too disappointed with the cards he'd dealt and didn't moan at all during the first half of this season and left for a handsome profit on the £7.75m we paid for him from Milan, he joins former Evertonian Deulofeu in Beijing for £16.5m. Next out the door was Bryan Heynen, again for a tidy profit. Heynen was brilliant for me last season with the emergence of Bellingham plus the arrivals of Agoume and Arthur, as well as the fine form as always of Andre Gomes, Heynen saw far less matches this time around. He also jets off to China to join Tianjin for £29.5m, more than double the fee we paid for him just 18 months ago from my former club Genk. There were a few more minor departures and loanees that left the club, but I'll move onto the other 2 incoming players.

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Marcos Antonio is a central midfielder. Now I've just spoken at length about the strength we have in this position at the minute, but my scouts were adamant this is a player who could really improve the first team. Andre Gomes is 29 now and not getting any younger and with his contract up in 18 months, depending on appearances and happiness of other players, could leave the club. Therefore Antonio is the perfect replacement for him. A relative snip with a release clause of £26.5m from Shakhtar Donetsk, Brazilian Antonio is certainly one I'm hoping can help take us to the next level and push us on in the 2nd half of the season. 

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The final player through the door was Lazaro on deadline day. At just 20, he's a player I'm really excited about. We now have 4 very good young strikers at the club, as well as Nemeth out on loan too who's doing well, and I'm excited about how well stocked we are at the top of the pitch. Another steal in my opinion with a release clause for foreign clubs of £14.75m from Atletico Mineiro in Brazil, Lazaro is someone who can make an impact straight away, as well as become a top player.

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As for the playing side of things, the beginning of the month wasn't as good as the end. We began with 3 away days on the bounce, starting at Tottenham where we lost 4-2. We then travelled to Newcastle for the Carabao Cup quarter final but lost after a thrilling 3-3 draw thanks to a penalty shoot out, Richarlison missing the pivotal spot kick. We then lost at Stamford Bridge before things took a turn for the better when we thrashed West Ham in the FA Cup 4th round back at Goodison. We then followed that up by getting our revenge over Newcastle, thumping them 5-1 back at St. James'. The month ended with a routine 2-0 win, away again this time at Derby County. 

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All of this meant we ended the month back in the top half of the table in 10th place. We do have a game in hand over most of the teams around us therefore if we can win that I'm really hoping we can start to push up the table as opposed to the opposite direction. Also we've been drawn against Benfica in the Champions League first knockout phase and away to Watford in the 5th round of the FA Cup. 

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The Journeyman

Despite being the shortest month of the year, February is arguably our busiest so far with 9 matches squeezed into 28 days.

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We began the month brilliantly with a 5-1 victory over Fulham taking our winning run to 4 matches, however this was halted with a draw against Stoke then defeat to Manchester United. We got back to winning ways against bottom club Villa but lost the 1st leg of the Champions League 1st knockout round at home to Benfica, their 2 away goals really could hurt us in the 2nd leg in Lisbon. Again we responded well though with a 5-2 win over Newcastle, Saint-Maximin scoring a hat-rick against his former club. He enjoys playing against Newcastle, we've faced them 3 times this season now and he scored 1 in the first meeting, 2 in the second and now a hat-rick in the 3rd. We beat Brighton next but ended the month with 2 more defeats, firstly in the Merseyside derby at Goodison by 3 goals to 1 then away to Watford, 1-0 in the FA Cup 5th round. Our only hope for further silverware now this season is in the Champions League where I'm certainly not holding my breath.

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We have however moved up the table significantly. We now sit in 7th place with 13 games to go. I feel as though this is the best we can realistically hope for now, the top 6 seem to have pulled away so we're only really playing for the best of the rest accolade now, but I would be happy with that considering where we finished last season.

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The Journeyman

After the mammoth month that was February, we enter March with a somewhat less busy month, but no less important.

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Things didn't get off to the best of starts with a defeat against 2nd place Chelsea by 2 goals to 1. We then travelled to Lisbon to face Benfica in the Champions League and we won the match 1-0, however that wasn't enough and that aforementioned 2nd away goal for Benfica is what killed us and sent them through into the quarter finals. We can be proud of our performances in Europe though and I'm happy with our progress playing in Europe's elite competition. Back on home soil we lost again away to Brighton which really dented our confidence after beating them convincingly last month, but we did respond with a good victory against Wolves. We ended the month with a draw at home to Spurs.

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We drop one place into 8th, however the gap between ourselves and Brighton is just 1 point therefore with 9 games left, there's plenty of time to try and consolidate that 7th spot.

Following the Spurs game, international duty beckoned for the first time with France.

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My first match in charge was away to Azerbaijan in a game we were expected to win. We certainly did that by thrashing them 7-1, Kingsley Coman the pick of the squad scoring a hat-rick. However, in our 2nd game we welcomed Turkey to Bordeaux and were turned over by them 1-0. A famous victory for the Turks who have a very good team.

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This leaves us in 2nd place in our qualification group. Although our goal difference is superior to Turkey, the head to head record gives them top spot. Still, only 2 games played so far so there's plenty of time to eradicate the mistakes that took place against them and secure top spot and a place in the next European Championships. The squad will meet up again in June once the club season ends to participate in the Nations League finals.

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The Journeyman

As we enter April on the back of 4 points from a possible 6, I am hoping we can continue this kind of form as we approach the end of the season.

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And continue that form we did. We played 6 matches in April, all in the league and we won them all. We began with a 1-0 win over Wolves, then came 3-1 wins over Norwich and Arsenal. Bournemouth were our next prey as we beat them 2-1 and then we got revenge for back to back defeats against Watford with another 2-1 win. Our final win of the month came at home to struggling Leicester City by 3 goals to 1. If they were to go down there's certainly a few players of theirs I have my eye one, namely Ben Chilwell, James Maddison and Caglar Soyuncu. 

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Despite winning 18 points from a possible 18 this month, we only move up one spot in the league to 7th. The form of the top 6 has been very good this year and with just 9 points for us left to play for, we won't finish any higher than our current position. One more win from the final 3 matches will secure 7th for us as Brighton have 2 games in hand over us but would need to win all of those and hope we lose all of our remaining games to finish above us, so 7th is looking all but ours now.

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The Journeyman

May. A month for winners, losers and everything in between. This year, we are the latter. That's not to say it hasn't been a successful season though.

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We had just 3 more league matches to play in May, the first of which was a thrilling 4-4 draw away to Brentford where Allan Saint-Maximin scored his 2nd hat-rick of the season, but unfortunately that wasn't enough to see us continue our winning run, however we did remain unbeaten. This run continued further with a thumping 5-1 win over already relegated Leeds at Elland Road. We ended the season back at Goodison with a 2-2 draw against Man City which prevented them from reaching the Champions League. We were leading until the 87th minute when unfortunately they equalized.

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We finish the season exactly where I expected us to, 7th place. We did lift silverware this year in the European Super Cup back in August, however I was disappointed we didn't go further in both the Carabao and FA Cups. The Champions League was a resounding success though as we reached the first knockout phase after finishing 2nd in a tough group containing Real Madrid, Marseille and Ajax. Initially I was happy with the draw considering some of the sides we could have faced, however Benfica were just about too strong for us, knocking us out thanks to the away goals rule.

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The squad have done very well this year. The top goal scorer award is shared by 3 men, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Nicolas Pepe and Allan Saint-Maximin who all scored 19 goals this year. Richarlison and Pellegri both got 11 each, although Pellegri's total is actually 17 thanks to the 6 he scored on loan at Blackburn early in the campaign. Kean didn't quite hit the heights of last season as he only managed 9 this year, but many of those were important ones, including the 4th at Brentford in the 4-4 draw. Marcos Antonio was outstaning following his arrival in January scoring 4 goals and assisting an incredible 9 in just 22 appearances, I'm very excited to see what he can do across a whole season for us next time around.

There may be some movement this summer, however I'm not too interested in changing things up too much. There is interest in a lot of our players and there are a few I would consider letting go due to expiring contracts in another 12 months or so like Andre Gomes and Mason Holgate, but they would have to be for the right price. Holgate hasn't seen as much football this year so if we received a reasonable offer I would let him go, Gomes on the other hand would have to be a very good offer, even with just 12 months left on his contract. If we don't receive that good offer, I will look to extend and keep him in and around the squad while the like of Bellingham and Agoume see more game time as he ages.

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The Journeyman

The Nations League finals are upon us and here are the 23 Frenchmen who'll compete to win the trophy.

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This screen shot was taken after the finals, therefore you'll notice a certain Mbappe had a very good couple of games for us.

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And that's why. The semi final looked over with an hour gone, Italy were 3-1 up thanks to 2 quickfire 2nd half goals by Federico Chiesa, however we roared back late on and won the semi final in extra time with Kylian Mbappe ending up with 4 goals in the match, the other was scored by Kingsley Coman late on to take the game to extra time. That put us into the final where we would face Belgium. This Belgium side lost in the World Cup final just 7 months ago so we were more than wary of the threat they possess, however we swept them aside with relative ease by 2 goals to 1 and lifted our inaugural Nations League title. 

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The Journeyman

Before the Nations League, I decided to ask the club for a new contract and was duly rewarded.

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However, there were 3 jobs that had become available at clubs that finished higher than us in the Premier League that attracted me. Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham all needed new managers. I decided to apply for all 3, despite my new contract at Everton. I was offered interviews by all 3 clubs, however Tottenham decided to hire Zinedine Zidane as their new boss. Manchester United were the first to offer me their post, Arsenal did too a day later.

Man U finished 3rd last season with 91 points which of course meant they could offer Champions League football. In fact they finished just 4 points off eventual winners Liverpool who won their maiden Premier League title. The transfer budget was £103m for the season, however the wage budget was a little low therefore that transfer budget would decrease in order to free up more room in the wage budget. Arsenal on the other hand finished a place ahead of my Everton side in 6th with 79 points. They had only qualified for the same competition as we did, the Europa Conference League. The transfer budget they were offering was £64m but with a higher wage budget available to me should I need to use it.

After a short time deliberating, I decided where I was going next...

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Manchester United. 13 Premier League titles, 3 European Cups and countless other trophies down the years, was the club I decided to join. I did make sure my old club were very well compensated, mainly by only just signing a new contract there in May, meaning Everton commanded £20m in compensation for my services.

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World famous Old Trafford is where I will ply my trade going forward, alongside the French national team of course. There's a lot of work to do before the season gets underway, but let's take a quick look at the side I've inherited from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

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There's a very good mix of youth and experience in this side. There's a few players I know well already from my involvement with the French national side like Paul Pogba and Kingsley Coman. There are some players that the club have already accepted offers for like Diogo Dalot, Georgian De Arrascaeta and Anthony Martial so I would imagine they will all be leaving the club sooner rather than later meaning we will obviously get fees for them, but it will free up extra room in that wage budget that I mentioned before which was a little small currently. 

As I also mentioned earlier, this side were within 4 points of winning the league last season, so there's not a huge gap to bridge in terms of results this year. Of course, European success is paramount for the club too, but getting back to winning ways domestically and regularly for the club is huge. We have a solid goalkeeper in David De Gea with a very good back up in Matt Ryan. The defence looks good with the likes of Eder Militao, Kristoffer Ajer and Jose Gaya the picks. Paul Pogba is a giant in midfield with numerous options to play alongside him in Sandro Tonali, Nicolas Dominguez, Lorenzo Pellegrini and youngster Hannibal Mejbri. Out wide we have very good options too with the likes of Jadon Sancho, Kingsley Coman and Marcus Rashford. Up top is where I'm seriously well stocked though. We have Mason Greenwood, Lautaro Martinez, Fabio Silva and Joao Felix all to choose from. At Everton I chose to play with 2 upfront most of the time with lots of support from out wide and I think this may well be the way I decide to go again with this squad with the abundance of options at the top end of the park. 

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The Journeyman

On the eve of the new season beginning for us, let's take a look at some of the business done in this summer window.

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There were a couple of deals done before I arrived at the club, namely Daniel James to Aston Villa after he spent a period on loan there last season. The first deal I sanctioned of any worth was Anthony Martial leaving the club for £21.5m to Atalanta in Italy. Martial was bottom of the pile in terms of strikers and wide left players, therefore it made sense to cash in on him. As mentioned before, De Arrascaeta also left the club to join Juventus for £39m. It was a deal worth less than his value but he wanted to leave therefore we decided to let him go and persue younger targets. Dalot also left to join Lazio for £18.25m. The biggest departure of the summer was yet to come though. Real Madrid offered £73m for Paul Pogba, all upfront. Considering his value, age and overall contribution to the club, I decided to let him go. The offer was worth more than he is worth, he's now 30 and despite scoring 20 goals 2 seasons ago, he only managed 8 last season and had a lower average rating for the campaign. All of this taken into account was the reason I decided to let him go and again, persue a younger, perhaps even better target.

The only signing I have made so far since taking over has been Allan Saint-Maximin. He was outstanding for me last season at Everton and with the  £42m release clause still available for clubs in the Champions League, it was a no brainer to bring him in. There is stiff competition for places at the top of the pitch now but I really do feel with Saint-Maximin added to the ranks that we can really challenge for the title again this year and perhaps even go 1 (or 2 places) better this time around.

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Here's the squad going into the new season. With Pogba leaving, we're a little short in the middle of the park now, however I am close to signing a player who I hope can fill the void and more. Victor Lindelof may also be leaving soon, he's 29 now and spent last season on loan at Napoli and isn't up to the standard required anymore.

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The Journeyman

The season is underway and we also did a little more transfer business before the window closed on 1/9/23.

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The player brought in to replace Paul Pogba was Ryan Gravenberch. He's a player I've seen a bit of over the last 12 months, most notably when he scored a hat-rick against my Everton side last season in the Champions League group stages. He joins from Ajax for a cool £70m, which means we've actually made a profit on the Pogba deal. Next in was Cristian Romero, again from my former club Everton. He was unhappy about not playing in the Champions League and after a couple of successful seasons with me, I decided to grant him his wish and in he came for £46.5m. The final player through the door was Luca Pelligrini from Juventus. A left back who will provide competition to Jose Gaya, Pellegrini is a player I like the look of. He's still young too. There were no more players who left the club permanently in this window, however Victor Lindelof and Brandon Williams will both leave the club in January for £20m and £24m respectively. Lindelof will join Jiangsu in China while Williams goes back to Aston Villa, the place he went to on loan a few seasons ago when I was in charge at Villa Park.

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All of this means this is our final squad for the season. Plenty of competition all over the park is how I like it. We could perhaps look for a better backup goalkeeper but with De Gea being as reliable as he is, hopefully we won't need to use Ryan too much.

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We got off to a good start on the opening day with a 1-0 win over Leicester at Old Trafford in my first game in charge. However, the rest of the month didn't make for happy reading as we lost on my return to Goodison 3-2, despite being 2-0 ahead after just 20 minutes. Saint-Maximin opened the scoring with his 1st goal for us against his former club too, however it was his own goal which was the catalyst for Everton's comeback and eventual win. We also lost to Derby at home by the same scoreline a week later, prompting an angry reaction from me in the dressing room as I told the players to buck their ideas up and quickly if we want to achieve anything this season.

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We end the opening month of the season down in 13th place. Although I'm annoyed at the early season performances, I'd rather get them out of the way now than play poorly at crucial stages later on in the season. Hopefully it's just an early season blip and we can go onto bigger and better things and grow into the season. Our Champions League group has also been drawn and it's a toughie. We face holders Barcelona, Bayer Leverkusen and Copenhagen. I would expect to progress from that group as either group winners or 2nd place, I don't envisage us dropping down to 3rd. Barcelona, despite being the holders, did lose Pique, Suarez and Messi all to retirements last season so hopefully they're not quite the beast they once were. Leverkusen lost Leon Bailly in the summer to Man City so we won't need to worry about him and Copenhagen, I imagine, will be the whipping  boys of the group. Finally, we also drew Southampton in the Carabao Cup 3rd round as we try to defend that trophy.

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