ack home in Leyton I tried hard not to make the same mistakes I had made the year before once again. It is a rule that you are simply not allowed to make the same mistake twice when you are a “Legend”.
We had close to 30 players combined in the senior and U-21 squad. Last season I have had all my players available at all times in the first team. That was a mistake and I had struggled to commit to a starting XI and constantly switched players in and out of the starting lineup. The team had never gotten a chance to gel and build up cohesion.
That would change this season. The plan was only to carry 18 players (eleven starters plus seven substitutes) in the first team. The remaining players would be moved to the U21 team and only get moved in to the first team when needed.
The asymmetric 4-1-1-2-2 I had used with so much success in my two first seasons was now scrapped.
The formation I would use this season was a more traditional 4-3-2-1.
That formation could easily be adapted depending on the teams we would play by either dropping the CM down was a DCM when on the road or against the big-boys or by moving the CM forward as an AMC in games where we could dominate.
I had just above £13M to spend but instead of running wild and adding only marginal better players to positions already covered I kept my wallet in the pocket and instead looked for the home-run.
Our top scorer from last season (George Baldock
and Andrea Russotto
) had scored just seven goals each all last year so it was obvious that we were in the market for a striker.
Many of the players Leyton Orient
could now afford to buy was still out of our range when it came to paying salaries.
An example was Fernando Torres
who was released by Chelsea
but still had some qualities we could needed in front of goal. Despite being without a job, Torres and his agent did not even want to take a meeting with us to talk about a possible deal. He instead went back home to Spain to play for Ponferradina
in the LIGA adelante
We would have to find a player from outside the major European leagues who would come to England and play for a reasonable salary, but who would also be able to step into a new team and score goals.
That was almost an impossible task.
After looking over thousands of names in scout reports, we finally decided on a 20-year-old player from Honduras named Júnior Lacayo
. He had played three years for Santos Laguna
in Mexico. He was currently playing for the B team where he had scored 20 goals in 34 appearances.
It was a total gamble but I liked his attributes and for £750K, it was worth a gamble (1).
We had sold our regular starter Moses Obubajo
to Nottingham F
for £1.8M and needed a new AMR. We were now getting a bit young and also needed to add some veteran presence.
The solution was to sign Spanish attacking midfielder Ángel Laftia
(2) from Getafe
. He was 31 years old but his attributes still looked solid and had not yet dropped off the cliff. He had played in the LIGA BBVA
last season and we paid £1M to get him to London.
I also added two new players on the midfield.
In the defensive midfield, we picked up a young Belgian prospect in Christophe Coudert
from RSC Anderlecht
. He was just 21 years old but had already played regular first team football for Anderlecht for two seasons.
He was a prospect but could still be used already now. I liked his determination and that he could play with both feets and I hoped he would be worth the £3M we had to pay for him.
The other new midfielder came from Padova
in Italy and Leyton Orient
had to pay £1.3M to get him. Marcel Büchel
could play both DM and MC. He had experience from the Austrian national team and from Serie A and had managed an AvR of 7.18 with five PoM last season for Padova
The last player we added was yet another addition to the defensive line. We paid Leeds £5.25M for DR Sam Byram
. He had been with Leeds
his entire career and had been a regular starter for the last four years with an AvR over 7.0 the last three years.
I also sat down with Andrea Russotto
and tried to renegotiate his contract. Not because I was afraid to lose him but more because of a highest-earner clause, his manager had managed to sneak into his original contract when we signed him in the middle of last season.
We had a total of six pre-season friendlies arranged as I wanted to make sure that the team taking the field on opening day knew how to play together and knew how to play in the new formation. The first of them would be at home in the new stadium against CF Monterrey
The results were not spectacular. We scored goals but still struggled to keep a clean sheet in the other end of the field and the final preseason game was a total disaster.
I didn’t feel very confident before the first game of the season and it didn’t help any that the nightly “ARE YOU READY
” telephone calls had intensified and kept me awake for hours every night.
(1) I have no clue why he was given a work permit. That part of the game might be broken.
(2) Yes that is the same Ángel Laftia that scored two goals for Getafe against Barcelona in RL this weekend (03/05/14). I found him more than a month ago