07|03 RITORNO:WE’VE COME A LONG LONG WAY TOGETHER

seasonSeven.episodeThree | Ritorno

I bloody love this football club! To think I nearly quit a few seasons ago. I’m so glad I stuck it out and kept with the lads. What a season!

TRANSFER BUSINESS

Real Madrid continues to circle around Emmanuel Escandar and Dalibor Komes. I’ve slapped an €80m asking price on each player in an attempt to put them off. Komes isn’t happy about it and is making noises that he wants to leave. It’ll be another tough six-months keeping hold of them.

Jordi Mboula also became available on a free, but unfortunately, it seems the rest of Europe also wanted him. Manchester United beat us to his signature. He is going to be very hard to replace.

Antonio Sinisterra | €400k from Medellín

Antonio is one for the future really. My scouts suggest he has a bright future ahead of him, and for the minimal cost there’s little risk in bringing him in. There were a few other clubs interested so we decided to act now to make sure we didn’t miss out.

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THE RESULTS

It has been another half of rediculous overachievement. Despite our disadvantage in the transfer market, and our squad in comparison to our peers, we seem to pull something out of the bag, week in and week out. We do have the highest average rating when it comes to agility, pace, and stamina. And mentally we have the highest determination and flair, so perhaps these give us the edge when we really need it.

We started the second half in great form, scoring 15 goals in our opening five games. We were very unlucky not to come away with five wins, too. With Juventus lucky to take a point in a game that we largely dominated.

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If this start was anything to go by, then the rest of the season promises to be another success.

We started to stutter a bit over our next five games. We weren’t as fluid in our play and managed to scrape by Spal and Genoa before we somehow managed to come away from the Chelsea match still in the tie. They absolutely battered us. It could have been a lot worse, but we take a good result back to the Bridge.

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After we demolished Lazio, I decided to give some of the fringe players who had been complaining about game time a run out against Chievo, who we really should be beating. They did nothing to suggest I should consider picking them, and further highlights our lack of depth.

Fed up with the goals we were conceding I decided to drop my wing-backs to defensive duty. What followed was 5 successive clean sheets. It didn’t seem to stifle our attacks too much, but it’s something I will need to be aware of.

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The league games were fairly routine, and I’ll come back to that, but it was the champions league game where we really showed our class. We started with a 4-4-1-1 which we’ve done a few times against the bigger sides, but Chelsea had us pinned in our own half for the first hour, so I took a brave pill and pushed us back to our more familiar 4-2-3-1 and it paid dividends, we created 4 clear chances and managed to score from one of them.

But back to the league. With eight games remaining we find ourselves four points clear. Now, we have Milan, Roma, Inter and Atalanta in the final few games, which I don’t expect maximum points from. But we’re in with a shout! We should definitely have second place wrapped up at least.

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So onto the next fixtures.

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I honestly don’t know how we continue to do this. We’re keeping clean sheets galore now. The 4-0 victory over Atletico Madrid was astonishing. I expected a much tougher battle out there, but we were on top form and it allowed me to play a second string team in the return leg. Our reward is a semi-final match against Villareal. We’ve definitely had luck on our side the past couple of years with Champions League draws. Man United and Liverpool is the other tie. Defeating Inter 3-0 was another shock, which effectively ended their title hopes. Empoli and Cagliari weren’t as easy, but we saw them off with a solitary goal each.

We saw off Villareal in the Champions League semi-final, bettering our position than this time last season. An emphatic 5-2 home victory the basis, as the away 2-2 draw secured our 7-4 aggregate victory. We face Manchester United in the final at Old Trafford.

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we comfortably beat Ascoli, again by a single goal, however. Then came the news that Juventus had lost again (their form was three losses and two draws) which handed us our first Serie A title win!! We didn’t even have to play another game.

I don’t know how we did it, but bloody hell! Since we faced Inter Milan in the Coppa Italia final I played a reserve side against Roma, and we were duly beaten 1-0 which didn’t really matter much.

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We then faced off against Inter Milan, a team who we had beaten in our last five matches, with an aggregate score of 12-2 so I was quietly confident. But this was a cup final, anything could happen.

We started the match in blistering fashion, creating 10 chances in the opening 10 minutes. We found the breakthrough as Andrejic cooly slotted home at the second attempt after a low cross by Gomes.

Four minutes later and we had a penalty. I switched the penalty taker to Andrejic who was full of confidence and he slotted home. Just before halftime, we missed another penalty change, but the match was sealed on 78 minutes with Andrejic completing his hattrick.

It was the third time in a row that we had won the Coppa Italia. I’m still unsure how, but we’ve been very lucky with the draws we’ve been getting each round.

We had three more league games to go ahead of the Champions League final in Manchester. You could forgive us for taking our eyes off the ball somewhat.

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We didn’t really do anything different for the Champions League final. We played our strongest team, minus Komes who got injured against Milan. Against Verona, we played a completely changed side to ensure those we did pick remained fresh for the tie.

It was easy to see who the favourite for the tie is. Although United are playing two midfielders in defence, and we know there’s only one Manager who can get away with that, and it isn’t Mourinho.

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00:00 – I passionately told the lads that I had faith in them and sent them onto the pitch. My work was done, it was down to them.

14:26 Escandar goes close – It takes us until the 15th minute before we get our first shot away. A free-kick that is put over the bar by Escandar. We’ve had 63% possession, but United have already had three shots.

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23:54 GOAL – After a sustained period of pressure, Andrejic finds the net. However, his effort is ruled offside. Andrejic straying just offside from the through-ball by Escandar. United have had 8 attempts, all off-target, but Parma still dominates possession.

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35:49 Scuffet saves from Rashford – United have had the best chances of this match, and will count themselves unfortunate not to be leading. Scuffet saves from another Rashford effort.

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41:50 Big chance for Parma – It’s a rare chance for Parma as Gómez puts it to the back post for the ever-reliable Mboula. However, this time the Spaniard puts it just wide of the post. I thought that one was in!

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47:32 half time – It hasn’t been the best final, and somehow we’re still in the game. United have been all over us, closing us down and putting in the challenges when we’re on the ball. We’re going to have to try put in a few balls over the top and into space as it’s clear we’re struggling to dribble or pass around them right now.

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I assertively tell the lads I’m not happy. I’m hoping for a reaction. We have 45 minutes to win this because I don’t think we have the legs or skill to win it after 90 minutes.

48:18 Another chance goes begging – Embolo had a great chance to put United 1-0 up after some excellent work by Rashford. I don’t have a good feeling about this.

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54:50 Dossena’s header just over – In a pretty quiet second half, Dossena puts a header just over the bar from a free-kick. Not a lot going on this half.

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83:22 Pogba shoots wide – Not a lot to write home about. Pogba comes close with an effort just inside our penalty area. Both teams finding chances but not doing much with them. A scrappy goal could win this.

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90:21 Parma down to 10 men – After Andrejic dropped to the floor with a pulled hamstring, I had to make my final substitution and seconds later Michelli makes a nothing tackle and gets a red card for it. Ridiculous decision! No striker and 10 men. Probably game over.

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95:47  End of normal time – It has been a dreadful final. Neither team really deserves to win it. United have had all the shots, but from range. We’ve had a couple of clear chances but we’ve not taken advantage of that. We’re now down to 10 men with no recognised striker on the pitch. It’s going to be very tough now.

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I try to encourage the players and send them back out onto the pitch.

100:43e Pinamonto misses another chance – I can’t take much more of this. It’s like a death in slow motion. United have chance after chance, and we cannot do anything about it.

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118:24 Worsfold misses a sitter! – Wat a miss! It’s chances like that which make me think we might have a fighting chance of coming away with the trophy tonight. Worsfold had it on a plate and somehow sliced his shot well wide.

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With almost the final kick of the game, Man United miss another chance to win it. We go to penalties. It starts well, They score, we score. But then they miss and we miss. They miss and we score, we go ahead!

Then they score and we miss and it’s level at 2-2 with four penalties taken. Pogba slots home cooly and young right-back Vargas hits it straight at De Gea.

We lose. In the cruellest of circumstances. Penalties are not a way to go out.

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It’s a real downer to the end of the season. We’ve won three trophies, but still, I feel disappointed.

Manager of the Year and Manager’s Manager of the Year heads my way for the third season in a row, but it feels like a hollow award. It’s going to take some doing to lift the mood around here again.

PLAYER STATS

Worryingly, the top three players are all on loan, and all return to their respective clubs this summer, with the exception to Mboula, who joins Man United.

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The stand out defender this year is, without doubt, Alberto Dossena. With 3.92 interceptions/90 and 82% tackles won and 88% headers won, he was a rock at the back. He and Scuffet won us a lot of points.

New boy Ødegaard played a more prominent role that I thought he would. Chipping in with 2.10 key passes/90 and 1.12 chances created/90 he was the most creative in terms of minutes on the pitch.

Mboula was incredible on the wing with Gomez the other side. Averaging around 5 dribbles per game.

Douglas Costa put in a shift, too. The teams top assist/90

Andrejic was an animal in front of goal. 29 goals for the season. Mboula chipping in with 16 and Ødegaar not far behind with 11. Iemmello leaves this summer, taking 14 goals with him.

FINANCIAL RESULTS

We’ve increased profits and subsequently revenue again. The current bank balance sits at €129m which is a vast improvement over last season.

Despite this, we have €21m for transfers. I’ll certainly be doing all I can to squeeze more out of the board.

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We’re up all areas except for the broadcasting revenue, which eats into the competition prize money gains. Overall it has been a successful season off the pitch.

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PLANS FOR NEXT SEASON

Right now, I’m still dejected about the Champions League. We were a level below Manchester United, and we will be even if I’m here for another ten years. That’s something I will have to accept if I stay as Parma manager.

Unsure what the future holds, I do know that I have a big task to replace Andrejic, Mboula and Gomez. Their clubs have refused extensions to their deals. With Costa and Iemmello also leaving, there’s a huge void in quality missing. A transfer budget of just €21m will not fill the gaps, so it’s time for the chairman to put up some of that Champions League windfall and support me and my drive to become more of a dominant force.

Next season, if I’m still here, could go either way and right now I’m not sure which way it’ll be!

Until next time, arrivederci.

O.Jensen

2 thoughts on “07|03 RITORNO:WE’VE COME A LONG LONG WAY TOGETHER

Add yours

  1. You need to focus on Youth to break United I feel if you can’t compete now. It’s likely the only way to break the strangle hold, as you’ll either develop them into winners or sell them on for huge fees.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Completely agree. And it’s funny you should say that as that’s exactly what this tweet will mean (when I get around to typing it up)

      Liked by 1 person

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