UEFA Champions League football was upon the club, and nobody was more excited than myself. It was an opportunity to compete against the top sides of Europe at the greatest stages. The prospect of competing at the Santiago Bernabéu, the San Siro, the Parc des Princes, the Allianz Arena - it was a dream come true for any football manager.
Whitehawk Paid Record Fee For An English Player As Osagie Joined
A number of fringe players were moved on to make way for a new set of stars. While Chris Smalling (DC) retired from football, wide attackers Emil Forsberg (AML - £1M), Luca Paganini (AML/R - £5.75M) and Marvin Stefaniak (AML - £8.5M) were among the exports, while Luke O'Nien (MC - £400K), Riccardo Cappa (ST - £1.3M) and Emil Krafth (DR - £2.7M) also found themselves being shuttled out. The January window also so Ben Pearson (MC - £1.6M) and Anton Kresic (DC - £2M) move on to play more regularly.
June brought two young English stars to the club, as Arsenal defender Stephen Lacy (DC - £26.5M) and eighteen year old
Chelsea wonderkid Kingsley Osagie (AMC/L - £60M) arrived. The latter became the most expensive English player in history. Other promising youngsters were brought in as eighteen year old Turkish defender Erkan Aktaş (DR - £30M), former Chelsea defender Danny Wickenden (DC - Free) and eighteen year old Gradimir Lucic (AML - £3.5M) of Serbia joined up with the club.
The most exciting signings, however, were of more experienced players. Belgian super star Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco (AML/R - Free) joined Whitehawk following the expiration of his contract with AS Monaco, and the fans were certainly excited by the signing of such a world class talent. Jeisson Vargas (AML/R - £3.1M) arrived for an absolute bargain price. The Chilean international was regarded as one of the most dangerous inside forwards around, and would add some much needed quality to our attack.
The vast majority of the new signings brought direct upgrades to the starting eleven. While our club captain, Andrea Punzi (DC), was not due to return to action for several months following a severe foot break, Stephen Lacy and Danny Wickenden would fit in seamlessly in to the team. Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco, Jeisson Vargas and Kingsley Osagie would all form part of a new look attacking midfield.
UEFA Super Cup
Whitehawk Made Easy Work Of FC Bayern Munich In The Super Cup
It was all too easy. We set up to hit the Germans on the counter attack, and all three of our goals came from quick counter moves. We soaked up all their pressure very well, and attacked the spaces even better. New signing Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco was among the goals, and starred as we tore FC Bayern Munich to shreds.
Whitehawk Began & Ended The Season With Rampant Winning Runs
We were absolutely majestic in our performances this season. An opening day 4-1 hammering of Liverpool had set the tone, and we recorded eight wins and one draw in our opening nine league matches. defeats to Everton and Manchester United in November did little to upset our form, as we then marched on to an eighteen game unbeaten run, before being beaten by José Mourinho's Manchester United AGAIN! However, we picked ourselves up once more, and won each of the remaining six league fixtures.
We lacked goals at times, while they came in abundance at other times. However, it was our defending which, as always, caught the eye. We conceded a league best seventeen goals throughout the season, and much credit had to be given to new signings Stephen Lacy and Danny Wickenden for making that happen for us.
Doing the double over Manchester City, and over Chelsea, set the tone for a remarkable season, but we continued to struggle against Manchester United in the league. Our results had put us on top of the league by two points going in to the final fixture, but with a far lesser goal difference to chasers Arsenal, and the final game brought much excitement. We went behind against Newcastle due to an early goal, but fan favourite Jeremie Boga struck twice in the final twenty minutes to secure the league title in dramatic circumstances.
Whitehawk Topped The Table By Just Two Points
Just three defeats all season, thanks to a fantastic defensive record, was what put us in top position. Improvements were made in every single game, and that culminated with us finishing as Premier League champions. It was a dramatic Premier League season for us, and we were delighted to finish in the position we did!
Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City finished in second, third and fourth respectively, and would join us in the UEFA Champions League next season. Chelsea and Everton claimed the two UEFA Europa League spots, through league play, while Aston Villa, Southampton and Burnley found themselves relegated to the Sky Bet Championship.
UEFA Champions League
Whitehawk Marched To Champions League Glory In Competition Debut
We were drawn in to a group which included Polish side Legia Warszawa, Dutch team Feyenoord Rotterdam an Spanish mega giants Real Madrid. We proved too strong for the trio, as we on six games out of six. This run included a brilliant victory at the Santiago Bernabéu, where Neal Maupay scored the winner with two minutes remaining.
Finishing on top of our group, we were put against Bayer Leverkusen in the first knockout round. We set up to score as many goals as possible in the away leg, which came first, and a 3-1 victory on the night set us up to finish the tie with a 4-1 aggregate win. A similar plan of action against Dynamo Kyiv in the quarter finals proved just as successful. Arsenal proved stern opposition in the semi finals, but a 1-1 draw at the Emirates Stadium set us up to win 4-1 in the return leg, booking our place in the final at the Stade de France.
We were competing in the final in France against reigning French champions Paris Saint-Germain. We were very much the underdogs in this fixture, having played in far fewer European fixtures than our opponents. However, we utilised the same counter attacking system which worked so well against FC Bayern Munich in the UEFA Super Cup this season, and against Inter Milan in the UEFA Europa League last season, and we earned a similar result. We soaked up the pressure applied by our opponents, and goals on the counter attack from Anton Nyman, Luciano Cabral and Jeisson Vargas handed us the Champions League title. HOORAH!
Jeremie Boga Was The Star Of The Show In A Final Clash Against Chelsea
In truth, we were not drawn against the most difficult of opponents in the early rounds. We made easy work of Birmingham City, Swansea and Watford, before playing against Bournemouth in the quarter finals. We scored two early goals against them, but they produced a dogged performance and scored late to put pressure on us, but we held out to earn a pace in the semi finals.
Our big test was, on paper, in the semi final against Arsenal. However, the result on the day proved otherwise. Luciano Cabral and Jason Coffey each scored a brace as the Gunners were made look like school children. This set up a clash in the final against Chelsea. With the score set at 1-1 with no more than four minutes remaining, Whitehawk's hero of the final Premier League game came up with the goods and scored a late winner to break Chelsea hearts.
Whitehawk Continued To Struggle In The EFL Cup
It was a poor season for us in this competition. It took a penalty shootout for us to progress against Blackburn Rovers, before being knocked out by a much weaker Tottenham Hotspur side.
Whitehawk Football Club
New Signing Stephen Lacy Was The Star Of The Season
Nobody came close to performing on the same level as English defender Stephen Lacy
. He came in from Arsenal in the summer, and put down one of the best defensive seasons in Premier League history. On the ground, in the air, he was impenetrable. Along side him in defensive duties, Danny Wickenden, Tyrone Mings and Erkan Aktaş were instrumental in our success, making the job easier for a fantastic Predrag Rajkovic in goals. In midfield, young Anton Nyman continued to progress in his development, while Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco was instrumental in attack.
FC Barcelona Were Successful In Their Europa League Charge
FC Barcelona were relentless in their run to win the UEFA Europa League, setting up a UEFA Super Cup clash against ourselves. The Catalan side tore VfL Stuttgart in to shreds in the final.
Barcelona's star man Neymar was, once again, the recipient of the Ballon d'Or and FIFA World Player of the Year awards, and was included in the FIFA World Team of the Year alongside fellow La Liga players Diogo Dalot of Real Madrid and Ángel Correa of Atlético Madrid. Paris Saint-Germain's Thibaut Courtois, Marquinhos, Daniel Bragança and Thomas Lemar, and AS Monaco's Aymeric Laporte, represented Ligue 1. Manchester United's Luke Shaw and Leroy Sané, and FC Bayern Munich's Lautaro Martínez made up the rest of the team.
Ryan Ferguson's Message
"Champions of Europe, that's what we are! It's been a tremendous season for us, both on and off the pitch. Notably, on the pitch, we won the Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and Super Cup, all in one incredible season! The players have been sensational! We've worked hard in training every day, and we performed to the best of our abilities when it mattered.
Once again, the fans have been tremendous for us. We may only have eleven players on the pitch, but it feels like one hundred thousand players when our fans are with us. Without them, I don't know what could have happened this season. They have helped to create some fantastic memories, and they can take pride in their accomplishments this season.
We've made fantastic strides and we're always looking to make more. We have a set of young players who will certainly become stars of the future, and we are very excited about what we could achieve next. We will be competing in the FIFA Club World Cup in December to try become the best football club in the world, and we look forward to this fantastic opportunity."
, thank you!
, well you were correct on both accounts!
, I'm sure Robbie would have plenty to be delighted for anyway, he's a peculiar individual!
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