In the summer 2013 I have taken over Manchester United to returd club's previous glory and become the no.1 in the world. Obviously, this woun't be the easiest task but I do believe that in a few seasons I can manage the team to win consecutive EPL and CL. I will do the updates here with my managerial comments, perhaps ask some advice from my readers.
Today is 11th March 2014. So far we did great: managed to win Capital One Cup with my youth, got into semi-final of the FA Cup, where will meet Swansea at home. In the EPL we are doing great too:
So far my transfers looks like this:
Got Pogba for 60 mil and Varane for 57, they two are far the most expensive purchases I made. Was happy to get rid of a lot of deadwood for a total of 100 mill. So far I am happy with my squad, although there are a bit too many attacking players with 4 start potential, but it will be a pleasent headache for my summer transfer campaign.
The season had started very well, until the very end of November i had only 1 draw against Arsenal away, with 10 wins in the league. However, I did only play with mid or low-standing teams, so that was not a big surprise. I had a 10 points lead against Man City, who were 2nd. Arsenal had a disasterous start, hardly getting into the first part of the table. However, I had a lot tougher calendar coming, with games against City, Newcastle, Liverpool, Chelsea and the City again in the Capital One Cup.
November 30th, 2013, rainy, +8C, Old Trafford. Manchester United versus Manchester City.
I had little changes to my squad who have been crushing all the opposition so far. And I felf being right already after 29 minuts in, when Juan Mata opened the score. I really felt invincible, that no one can crush my side. However, I must admit, that I was a bit worry about Patrice Evra, who got booked, as he played very aggressively. I decided to wait until the half-time to substitute him for Papadopoulos (Balanta would have moved to the left). My intuition rarely lets me down: on 42nd minute Evra got second yellow and left the field. I took off Januzaj so Kyriakos could replace him and another disaster happend - only few seconds in after the free kick, Papadopoulos made a faul in our free-kick area. Alvaro Negredo was ready to equalize just before a half-time, but great save by David De Gea let us walk into the break with a minimal lead. However, this did not help us to save the match, as second time was absolutely disasterous, with final score of 1-3.
A 0-2 defeat away at St. James Park had followed, and I have started to feel coucious about or form. A game at Anfiled had to be a lot better than the previous two, so we could keep our spirit high. Danny Wellback had opened the score second before the end of first time, with RVP scoring a penalty on 59th minute made it 2-0 and I felt that we will get 3 points from the mercicides. However, Agger (67) and Eto'o (72) managed to equalize the score. I was very dissapointed, but it was still a better result than recent 1-3 and 0-2 losses. Home game with Chelsea and Capital One Cup versus Man City were to follow...
The game on the Old Trafford was important for both teams: we were trying to stop our fall and keep the 1st place, whereath Chelsea tried to join the race for the championship. But this night was very special for two Man United players - Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata. They both scored 2 goals each (Mata also managed to miss the penalty) and led the team to 4-1 victory, the most important one in the first part of the season.
In 3 days Capital One Cup game at the City of Manchester Stadium begun. Howard Webb led the teams on to the field. Everyone anticipated a great game, as United had to get a revange after their defeat. There was no dangerous moments in the first half, until Patrice Evra got his first booking on 42nd minute and his second one just a minute later. The nightmare continued, this time playing away and without any lead in the score. I did not believe that we can win the game now, but Danny Welbeck was of the other oppinion. His goal on 53rd minute allowed us to continue in the cup and brought a small relief - Manchester City was finaly beaten, even playing 10 vs 11.
Coming to the Boxing Day games we had to play against West Brom, Hull and outsiders Crystal Palace. I was sure that we will take 9 points with ease and improve our positions before the New Year. However, we absolutelty failed on those games.
The away game versus West Brom begun badly, Anichebe scored the opening goal at 44th minute, leaving us behind before the break. I have substituted Januzaj and Volland for Wellback and Mata in hope that they will bring something fresh to the game and hopefully will win us 3 points. After Anichebe got red card on 60th minute I have risked even more bringing Van Persie instead of Pogba to increase pressure. However, Chris Brunt ruined all our hopes in supreme counter-attack at 78th minute. This was a disaster, just until Ander Herrera brought some hope after scoring 6 minutes later. In the very last second of 4th compensated minute Danny Wellback has equalized the score after a great pass from Juan Mata. Somehow we managed to save at least 1 point.
The games against Hull (1:1) and Crystal Palace (0:3) brought a lot of frustration. However, I was still sure in my side, even that we now were catching up the City.
Here how our first part of the season looked like:
After the New Year we knew little trouble - winning every game, getting Capital One Cup in a tense final against Southampton (2:2 and 5-4 on the penalties).
What was really interesting so far is our game against Arsenal. We have played 4 games, 2 in Premier Division (0-0 and 4-1), one in the Capital One Cup (5-2) and one in the FA Cup (4-1). We have socred 13 goals in 3 games against them, and won 3 games by 3 goals difference, being the biggest losses for Arsenal in the season so far. I think Arsene Wenger will remember the games of this season against United for a long time.
I have just penned a new 3-years contract with the board, 125.000 euro p/w. I am happy with this, as I could finally buy a house and moove from the rented appartments.
Only 6 games left to play in the Premier Division - Liverpool (H), Man City (A), Chelsea (A) followed by Southampton, West Brom and Hull. Next three games will be the last toughest part of the season. A also hope to win the FA Cup, playing Swansea home 4 days after the game with City. In the league I am leading by 8 points and I am very confident that we can win everything in England this season.
5th of April 2014, 15:00, wet, 13C. The Old Trafford. Manchester United against Liverpool.
This game is important for both teams - for United victory will guarantee Champions League next seasons, while Liverpool will almost certainly qualify into Europa League and improve their chances for 6th place.
United has opened the score on 1st minute to shock Liverpool fans after a great combination from van Persie, Rooney and perfect finishing by Juan Mata. On 9th minute Fabio Borini had equalized after a Liverpool counter-attack. 44th minute - Wayne Rooney scores after with a header after Kagawa's cross to get back the lead. United supporters were still cheering for goal when Coutinho scored second for Liverpool in their very next attack on 45th minute - 2:2. Everyone thought that the score will be even after the half-time but at 45+3 Robin van Persie made another cross into Liverpool's free-kick area, where Paul Pogba sent the ball into the net with his head - 3:2! Incredible ending of the first half! Robin van Persie could have doubled the lead from a free-kick on 47th minute but the ball went into the crossbar. At 63rd minute Matuidi had scored after Steven Gerard's free-kick, but assistant referee raised his flag for off-side. 12 minutes later Robin van Persie volleyed the ball from 25 meters straight into the corner to settle the final score of 4:2. Manchester United gets 3 points and secures top-3 finish with Champions League comping back to the Old Trafford next season.
I got the scout review of 4,5 stars, and his aggression is low enough not to get yellow cards all the time, like Rafael, Evra or Papadoupulos. So overall im OK with that price, although something like 30-35mil would've been a lot better I'm planning to use Balanta and Varane as my main defenders for the next 8-10 seasons or so, so in this terms this seams not that bad investment.
Away vs Manchester City, EPL, 1-3. Players were really tired both physically and mentally after game with Liverpool plus we did not have any pressure on us with 8 point lead. Obviously it was very dissapointing to loose to our rivals second time in the league, but at the end of a day, the title is all that matters.
Home vs Swansea, FA Cup, 3-1. An easy win over Swansea with second squad, gave my main players time to rest before important game at the Stanford Bridge.
Away vs Chelsea, EPL, 3-1. Although Oscar scored the first goal (13), Robin van Persie (29, 64) and Wayne Rooney (69) performed on the highest level, leading United to the victory.
Away vs Southampton, EPL, 1-0. The last tough team to play with in the league, the only goal scored by RVP from the spot (75).
Home vs West Brom, EPL, 4-0. Win in this game made us champions, no surprise my boys were eager to play at their top from the very start - Januzaj (28), Mata (32) and Robin van Persie (59 pen, 70) scored the league-winning goals this day.
Home vs Hull, EPL, 2-1. I have rotated the squad again before the FA Cup final with Tottenham. This game was the last on in the league and I'm happy that we managed to finish it on the positive note.
Home vs Tottenham, FA Cup FINAL, 2-1. The last game of the season. First half was boring end ended 0-0, both teams looked tired after a long season. But after the break and encouraging teamtalk United started to play a lot better. Raphael Varane (61) and Danny Welbeck (64) scored two goals within 3 minuts, living Tottenham tiny chances for silverwear. Emmanuel Adebayor (75) scored the last goal of the season after a counter-attack, final score 2-1 at tripple for the United.
I was offered a 23 mil euro transfer budget and 200k p/w wages for the transfer campagin. To be honest, I was very dissapointed getting THAT low budgets after winning 3 titles. At least I don't really need anyone for now.
Surprisingly, Switzerland won the World Cup (1-0 vs Germany in the final, who looked a lot better the whole tournament).
Currently I am in the middle of my pre-season, so far have played 3 friendlies vs Monaco (4-2), Dortmund (7-0) and Boca (1-1, penalty win). Games with Club Brugge, Leverkusen and Marseiile still to come, before the start of the season in the Community Shield with Manchester City. Our calendar at start looks promissing:
December will certainly be the toughest this year and April next year.
But I hope that we will have a nice lead before those games.
In transfers so far I have sold Ander Herrera to PSG for 15.75 mill and Fellaini to Atletico for 20 mill. As those prices were very close to their value, I am happy with the deals. Kenedy arrived from Fluminese and went on Loan to Lille and Wilfried Zaha joined Newcastle for this season. I have to figure out who I will give up to loan soon and make my mind with the final squad. The only problem that bothers me so far is reserve goalkeeper as Lindegaard asked for transfer.
Just sold Young and this was such a pain. First of all, I only got ONE offer from Stoke for 1 mill (with his value at 10), furthermore, he asked for 67k p/w until the end of a contract! I had to accept it, as I still save 73k p/w, which is nice, but this is a rip-off! Hopefuly will sell Anserson for 1.5 mill soon. Lendergaard and Fletcher to go, but not a single offer so far
First half of the season review:
So far we did well in the Premier League, 1st place with 57 points in 25 games. Chelsea is 2nd with 50 points in 25 games and surprisingly Everton is third with 48 points in 22 games. Tottenham and Liverpool performe very badly, in 12th and 13th positions respectively.
We started very well by winning the Community Shield against our biggest rivals, Manchester City. The game was even until the very end, whtn Robin van Persie scored from a free-kick on 90+2. However, we failed in the Capital One Cup against Aston Villa and were kicked out in our very first stage. I was happy with my teams performance in the Premier League, given all others were loosing points here and there, we were able to maintain our lead, even after back to back losses to Chelsea (1-3) and Man City (1-2). In the CL we got out of group with Porto, Anderlecht and Sparta Praha from 1st place after winning the final game away with Porto and will be playing against AC Milan in the 1/8.
Here is how the second part of the season will look like, with a few games already played:
Transferwise, I did not do a lot in summer or winter. Originally I did not plan to sign anyone, but after I got my scout report on Strootman with price of 30mil I decided that it was good enough to get him. Also, I have signed Jason Steele as a reserve goalie. In the winter period again I did not get only 8 mill on top for my transfers but I felt like I wanted another CM player, as Lucas Romero did not developed yet and Carrick is already on his final 6 months of contract. Marco Verratti seemed like a great option, so I made an offer of 36 mil and PSG accepted it.
So far my squad looks very young and solid, but a few players will have to go in the summer. Not sure who I want to sell, maybe Kagawa and Romero if I will get good offers on them. Januzaj is performing like a beast, 7.58 average rating and 20 goals in 25(7) appearences, top scorer for the team. Robin van Persie is also playing great, scored 17 goals in 25(4) games. I have declined the transfer offer for Balanta from PSG and suprisingly Eder was dissapointed with this, so I had to promise him medals this season. From when PSG became a better option that Manchester United? I was very frustrated by this, but I am very confident that we can take back to back titles. A good question is how we will perform in the Champions League? We'll see.
So, before the summer I need to make a few decisions regarding my squad - who I want to keep, sell, give away for loan or buy. In defence everything is perfect, no changes needed. However, other lines have more questions. My preferred formation is 4-1-1-3-1 with 1 DM and 1 CM, lately I have used 4-2-3-1 with 2 CM and no DM against weaker teams. So far I have following:
DM: Pogba, Strootman, Carrick, Romero, Jones. Clearly we have too many players here, as I play only 1 DM. However, Carrick should leave at the end of the season, leaving us just enough players for rotation.
CM: Pogba, Strootman, Carrick, Romero, Verratti. Again, almost the same players on a single position. Looks like Romero should go on loan as he is weaker than Pogba, Strootman and Verratti.
AMC/L/R: Mata, Volland, Januzaj, Kagawa, Stanciu (on loan at Arsenal, 19(3) games with 7.03 rating). 5 players who can play on any positions in attacking mid, with Mata being the best at AMC and Januzaj at AMR. Adding Welbeck at AML, there are more then enough players for just 3 positions. Plus Rooney can also play AMC, and I use him there mainly. Usually my starting are: Mata (AML) Rooney (AMC) Januzaj (AMR). Also, I have Zaha, but his stats are not good yet, so I will definately loan him next season, as well as Kenedy.
Strikers: RVP, Rooney, Volland, Barbosa (only 18), Henriquez. Both RPV and Rooney playing great this season - van Persie with 7.48, 19 goals 20 assists in 29(4) games; Wayne with 7.29, 15 goals 10 assists in 25(6) games. I thought about selling one of them, but I believe they can play on the same level for at least one more season, and I might not get a good offer too. On the other hand, Volland performs very well too - 7.33, 11 goals and 10 assists in 24(8) games, and he usually played on the wing! Henriquez is at loan in FC Twente, had so far 6.96 with 14 goals, 2 assists in 22(4) games. I think its not that bad at all.
So, any thoughts, what shall I do ?
After winning 3-2 away and 3-1 at home vs AC Milan, we are through to quarterfinals, where will meet Real Madrid. I hoped for a better draw (Dortmund, CSKA and Arsenal as better alternatives), but I am optimistic, especially after this win:
New record, both for United and in the Premier Division. Welbeck missed only 1 goal to repeat Harold Halse 6 goals in a single game record. Still, fantastic performance by Danny.
If we will keep our form, I think we have good chances of getting into the semi's.
From the bad news, we lost to Aston Villa in the FA Cup (again 0-1, same as in the Capital One), second time we can't beat the team from Birmingham in the cups. This time a goal by Angulo on 90+4 with only 3 minuts added! Meanwhile, Chelsea has won the Capital One cup, defeated QPR in the final (2:2, 5-4 on penalties).
In the Premier League, we are far far FAR in front
Januzaj, van Persie and Volland perform outstanding. I hope Januzaj will win the top scorer, he only 2 goals away from Giroud. Surprisingly, Wilfried Zaha is 4th with 17 goals for Newcastle, well done! Still, don't think I can find a place for him next season. Hope I could loan him to a good team.