Ahead of what would prove to be my final season as Whitehawk manager, we had embarked on a pre-season tour of North America with the aim of improving the players' fitness levels in a relatively hot environment, while also connecting with our fans from the continent. A number of transfers were made by the club, both incoming and outgoing, throughout our pre-season.
Whitehawk Spent A Total Of £79M On Incoming Players
Three senior players left the club permanently, with Riccardo Mansueto (DC), Brahim Díaz (AMC) and João Félix (AMC) finding themselves being moved on. Hot prospects Victor (ST) and Claudio Rotariu (AML) found themselves loaned out, with the club earning a sum of £375,000 per month for the pair. A number of other youngsters were loaned out including, most notably, Cléber Fernando (AMC), Nicolás Martínez (AMR) and Pedro Tavares (MC), with the latter joining Premier League side West Ham United for the full length of the season.
Three major senior signings were made. Miroslav Novakovic (ST/AMR), Kylian Mbappé (AML) and Emanuel Mammana (DC) all joined, for a combined fee of £68,000,000 (£73,000,000). The latter joined on a free transfer from title rivals Manchester United. Three hot prospects were brought in in the form of Cléber Fernando (AMC), Ameth Keita (MC) and Victor (ST) for a combined fee of £10,5000,000 (£10,750,000). The three would be loaned out to gain experience.
The squad was in very good shape. There was a great mix of experience and young talent, but it was worth noting that even some of the younger players had great experience. 24 year old midfielder Anton Nyman had already made 169 Premier League appearances for Whitehawk over just six seasons.
Young star Tomas Mrva (ST) was expected to break in to the senior squad for the first time, at the age of 18. For the likes of Riccardo Barbosa (AMC), 19, and Pipoca (DL), 19, squad rotation roles were expected. They would be helped on the way by older players such as Predrag Rajkovic (GK), 31, Emanuel Mammana (DC), 31, and Lewis Cook (MC), 30.
Whitehawk Recorded Five Wins From Five In A Successful Pre-Season
1-0 Win vs Deportivo Toluca (A), Friendly - 10/07/2027 Attendance: 14,336
In our only friendly to be played in Mexico, we faced a Deportivo Toluca side who were hungry to win. We used what was very much a second string side, with the likes of Daniel Bentley and Ricardo Barbosa starting, and it was the latter who scored the only goal of the game with a sizzling long range effort which nestled in the top corner.
Ricardo Barbosa (Team) - 8.5/10
2-0 Win vs New York Red Bulls (A), Friendly - 14/07/2027 Attendance: 19,670
A large number of first choice players were drafted in to this fixture, some without even recording a single day of training, and it was new boy Miroslav Novakovic who made the difference. The Serbian striker scored twice in the first half to seal the win for Whitehawk in New York.
Miroslav Novakovic (Whitehawk) - 8.7/10
3-1 Win vs Swansea (N), Friendly - 17/07/2027 Attendance: 4,717
It was a fixture against fellow tourists Swansea, which was a true test of our character. Swansea opened the scoring through a direct free-kick just minutes in to the game, but a Jason Coffey goal leveled the score just over ten minutes later. Late goals from Pipoca and Anton Nyman provided another victory for Whitehawk.
Erkan Aktaş (Whitehawk) - 8.4/10
5-1 Win vs Real Salt Lake (A), Friendly - 23/07/2027 Attendance: 18,309
A comfortable victory over Real Salt Lake rounded off a very successful North American tour. Jason Coffey scored twice in the opening fifteen minutes to give us a comfortable lead, and goals from Emanuel Mammana and Rasmus Nissen Kristensen before half time put the game beyond doubt. Real Salt Lake scored through a direct free-kick for some consolation, but Miroslav Novakovic struck back immediately to keep a four goal lead.
Gradimir Lucic (Whitehawk) - 9.0/10
2-0 Win vs Blackburn Rovers (A), Friendly - 29/07/2027 Attendance: 24,056
A return to England brought one final friendly for the pre-season - a trip to Ewood Park to face feeder club Blackburn Rovers. With a Charity Shield fixture just days away, we opted to use a number of second string players, but it was Kingsley Osagie who opened the scoring after just eight minutes. A Jay Lambert own goal gave us a two goal lead, which we kept for the remainder of the game.
Kingsley Osagie (Whitehawk) - 8.3/10
It was a pre-season to be very happy with. Five wins from five, with plenty of impressive performances. We conceded just two goals, with both coming from direct free-kicks. I'll put the concession of these free-kicks down to a lack of match sharpness and hope it does not become a regular occurrence throughout the season.
Whitehawk Would Play Community Shield & UEFA Super Cup Finals In August
August would bring the start of competitive football for Whitehawk. A visit to Wembley to face Manchester City in the FA Community Shield would kick things off, while a trip to Watford would then open our league account. A UEFA Super Cup final against Arsenal at the Via del Mare in Italy was an exciting prospect, while we would also face Premier League opposition Bournemouth, Manchester United and Arsenal in a tough end to the month. It was a very tough schedule to open the season, but one we knew we were capable of picking up maximum points in.
, it is good money, but unfortunately I would require about double that to improve the squad in any position!
The money will be kept for future facility upgrades!
, which one?
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