seasonEight.episodeTwo | Andata
Simone Scuffet! I don’t get this blokes deal! Bayern bid for him which I rejected, it was far too low. He then asked to double his wage to €200k p/w with a €10m signing on fee, which naturally I declined as it would cripple us. So, he asked to leave to which I obliged. I wasn’t going to keep an unhappy player.
However, Bayern moved on and no one else came in for him, which apparently was my fault for not trying hard enough to sell him. The whole squad revolted against me, and we’ve gone from bulldozing teams to struggling as we battle with a piss poor squad morale.
With a board who want a league win and a squad who now, because of one moany player, are unhappy with me. I’m at a crossroads.
However, it is only 14 September 2024. Let’s go back to the beginning…
We started in fantastic form. Scuffet wasn’t angry at the world because the window was still open (despite absolutely no interest in him) and he had illusions that someone would buy him.
The new 4-4-2 system we had worked on over pre-season started well. I wanted to get two strikers into the setup, and having Mario Bazan and Piercarlo Cristini together for the first time was exciting. I wanted to build on youth, so this was a chance to put my money where my mouth is.
We squeezed by Inter Milan in the Supercoppa Final with Cristini getting his first two goals for the club on his debut. Empoli posed no problem for us and then Fiorentina was similarly dispatched with ease.
Then the transfer window closed and Scuffet kicked off, taking 23 of the players with him in revolt against my apparent broken promises. He wanted to leave, I transfer listed him. It’s apparently my fault that no one has bid for him. And so the entire squad morale divebombed and subsequently, we struggled to draw against Chievo.
And that just about brings us up to date from the intro. What follows now is my emotive writing as I fight with the players in a bid to keep this group together. Shakhtar result notwithstanding, this was a group that is now nervous every time they enter the pitch. Morale is at an all-time low.
Never before have I made so many in-game changes during matches, as our form slumped. Average ratings were below a 7 and the team dynamic just changed. We managed to put 3 by Juventus, Cristini bagging another brace. After the Napoli win, we struggled again to see off Udinese. But the 3-0 win against Olympiakos saw moral ever so slightly improve, and Scuffet now only had 20 people supporting him.
Liverpool absolutely battered us in the Champions League. I underestimated how good they would be and sent out a team that I thought could do a job, saving key players for the league. We were rightly thumped.
Lazio then twisted the knife further and things on the morale front started to look shakey once more. However, after securing another six points against Inter (we always beat them) and Sassuolo we were sitting third in the league.
I didn’t take Liverpool lightly in the return leg. Setting up more defensively we came away with a much-needed point. Atalanta gave us a kick in though to bring us back down to earth. Our second defeat in the league.
Nicola Maksimovic and Wendel then started to grumble about not being first team starters. I did as I always do and promised to start them in the next few games, however, this time they didn’t believe me, because of all the broken promises to Scuffet. On the transfer list, they both went. Sampdoria, €1.2m and Jiangsu Suning, €30m have themselves some new players come January. And suddenly we’re losing more leaders by the day.
It didn’t slow results, however, as Cagliari, Shakhtar and Benevento were all comfortably dealt with as the star strike partnership of Mario Bazan and Piercarlo Cristini began to take shape. I never imagined it clicking as well as it has done.
To finish the first half Bazan smashed in a hattrick to see off Brescia, Olympiakos were defeated to earn us some much-needed revenues, however, we still dropped more points, this time against Roma and Bologna.
I knew this would happen when I decided to play more of the youth, the results would take a hit. And to be second at the half-way point is a good place to be. We won’t be winning the league this season, that’s for sure, but we need to keep getting into the Champions League to enable us to find and develop top talent.
Did I mention we drew Man United in the Champions League First Knockout Round? Lucky us.
THE PLAYER STATS
With out squad getting younger and younger by the day I expected a dip in our output, which is evident below. However, there have been some stand out performances. Despite all the trouble with Scuffet.
Mario Bazan has scored 0.87 goals per game. Which is an incredible stat for a player his age. His strike partner has six assists already this season and showing that he can do more than score, having found the net 12 times himself this season.
Komes remains the key link in the side, despite playing less than he would normally do. He still had 2.18 key passes/90 and has 13 goals and assists from midfield.
We’re chugging along, but worryingly, we are still massively reliant on player sales and Champions League revenue to support us with 66% of all income coming from these two streams. We should look to try and increase our match and marketing income, which I guess will only come as we develop players and increase their reputations.
It’s not all doom though. We’ve established outselves in the Champions League, however, the past two seasons we’ve been in the semi-final and the final, this year I think we’ll be knocked out of the first round.
A huge portion of our expenditure is on wages. Which is the same for most clubs. We’ve also had a huge outlay on players through January (more in the next update), but as long as we can continue to trim down the wages for the start who will be leaving us and keep the youth coming through with their comparatively lower wages we’ll be just fine.
It’s going to be a tricky finish. A top three finish is the objective for me. We’ve qualified from the group stages of the Champions League and that’s key for us.
Until next time, arrivederci.