23/24 Mid Season Review
So i feel like i am at that point in the save where my updates need to become less frequent as are now at an established stage of the save. Domestically we dominate and the expectations are that we win the league every year whilst Europe is now the main focus as we try and break further into the latter stages whilst building up the nation of Poland.
So therefore i will be moving to two updates per season as we tick along. It also might mean i have time to write up about another save i am planning too. So onto the transfers.
So we were given a war chest but there was no way i could spend it. With the stadium purchase going through and the upgrade to the capacity, if i had spent all £19m i would have put us way into the red and that seemed like a bad idea. Luckily we didn't need a lot and i believe in making small changes every year so not to disrupt the harmony.
The main theme of the window though was to look to move on the older players (Over 30's) and bring in some younger replacements who could
a) have the potential to be even better than what we had
b) become sellable assets in the future as we continue to build our reputation.
Therefore starting with the outs we shifted on back up centre half Niko Datkovic (£1.3m), Captain Damian Dabrowski (£1.4m) and right back Cornel Rapa (£400k). All of whom were 30 and over and were not likely to be starters this season with the incomings i had planned. We also shifted on young 21 year old Michal Rakoczy who had featured in my first few seasons but had been out on loan for the last 2 for just under £900k whilst we than loaned out some youth who had potential to get some more game time. All in all around £4m raised from sales.
In terms of incomings, the first big piece of news was Samuel Grandsir
and Lyle Foster
joined on free transfers having been here on loan from Monaco. Grandsir as we know has been on loan her for 5 years meaning he was part of the furnitue whilst young Foster impressed last year getting into double figures despite spending large chunks of the season on the bench. I think he can be the long term successor to Hrgota who is the only over 30 remaining in the team this season.
They were joined by young 17 year old Jules Ousamanou
who i have had scouted since he was 15 with this deal being in the pipeline for over a year. At £180k he is a bargain and i really think he could be our version of Kante in a few years. He will get plenty of game time this season as he will take the place of Kucszek who we sold to Middlesbrough in the winter and i am sure if he progresses well enough he will be crucial in our pursuit for European success.
WIth Dabrowski leaving we needed a playmaker to partner Trondsen (Who takes the captaincy from Dabrowski) and the man i chose was 22 year old Italian Manolo Portanova
from Juventus. He joins on a free and has a big wage (for us) but the Italian looks excellent. Pacy and can pass the ball i am hoping him and Trondsen form a formidable and exciting midfield two for us.
The next three ins were all ones for the future as i added in Serbian Striker Sladjan Radisavljevic
(£650k), French right back Andrew Voteau
(£700k) and Polish Attacking midfielder Adrian Dudka
(£16k) to the side. Voteau will be the one that gets the most game time as he will rotate with Ferreira this season whilst Radisavljevic will get the odd game in the cup this year, and will probably feature more if we sell Hrgota next summer as i have planned.
The final new face to the side was a deadline deal as i searched for another ball playing centre half. German Jordan Torunarigha
from Hertha Berlin was the man i chose. Hertha are paying a large chunk of his wages but the German joins for £1.2m with an extra £300k if we win the Polish Cup. As a left footer he becomes a natural replacement for Hack should we sell or he gets injured. It now means we have four very good centre halves (Two German and two Polish) meaning if our first choices continue to be pursued by English sides we could sell one and not be too worried.
All of that for around £2.8m meaning another transfer profit and with a much stronger squad than last year. I am feeling confident we could compete on all three fronts (League, Europe and the elusive Polish Cup).
Our only main worry now is we are severely lacking in home grown players and i am going to have to start thinking about shifting players on who are foreign so i can bring in a few more Polish players to take their spot. The general problem is the fees being demanded for Polish talent are astronomical and it means my spending is likely to outstrip any incomings unless i plan carefully.
On the pitch - Domestically
So i thought i would split the performances up between domestic and European football. Starting with the day job so to speak of dominating Poland and it has been business as usual.
Our defence has been excellent conceding just 6 goals in 19 games with 15 clean sheets as we have generally gone about our business with precision and confidence despite havng to rotate to allow us to have the best possible shot of success in Europe. A 9 point gap looks good and i am predicting a 5th League title for me with the real possibility of hitting a record points haul if we can keep it together for the rest of the season.
The Cup has normally been an area of pain for me as we have only made it to the quarter finals once in the last 5 years but we have now done it for a 2nd time having got past two lower league sides and Korona to set up a quarter final tie away to Legia Warsaw. On top of that we have won the Supercup for a 4th time as we beat Legia 2-0 for my 8th trophy as Cracovia manager.
On the pitch - Europe
Now onto the real stuff as we started once again in the 1st Qualifying round of the Champions League. Due to our performances last season though our Coefficient soared and we found ourselves seeded in all 4 qualifying rounds. The first three rounds were all routine as we dispatched Dinamo Batumi (5-0), Ostersunds (8-1) and BATE (3-0) before being paired against Dutch Champions Feyenoord in what was a very unlucky draw.
We were at home in the first leg though and after a tight 1st half we preceeded to run riot in the 2nd scoring 3 in the last 15 minutes to give us a 3-0 first leg lead. Back in Rotterdam, they scored early but Captain Anders Trondsen fired an important away goal in the 47th minute. We went on to concede two more late in the game but a 4-3 aggregate victory meant we were in the Champions League group stages for a 2nd straight season.
Although our coefficient had gone up we were still in the 4th pot and our draw of PSG, Atletico Madrid and Besiktas was a tough one on paper. Last year our home form was impeccible but we couldn't repeat the heroics of last year as we lost to PSG (1-0 and 3-2) and Atletico Madrid (4-1 and 2-1) meaning it was all down to our results against Besiktas. A 1-1 draw in Turkey was a good start and in the final group game we needed to beat Besiktas to progress into the Europa League. The boys did not disappoint as they smashed the Turks 3-0 to progress us in Europe.
So back after the Winter break we have a tough draw against Roma but our European adventures are proving to be a consistent pleasure.
The domestic double is still on and we are still in Europe. Times are good. See you soon!