An exceptional season mate. Congratulations! You wanted to get back into it with tactics and I would say you've had success.
Just make sure you beat Wisla next season!
League champions! Champions League football will suit you nicely!
A different sort of summer for us as we go into the new season as Champions and we have our first ever attempt at Champions League football (although we will have to get through some qualifiers first). The Media predict us to come 4th though and the board are just expecting a top half finish so pressure hasn't mounted as much. So what have i done to the squad?
Let's start with the outgoings. Not a huge amount just yet but with the window closing in another 5 weeks there could still be some more. Back up keeper Gostomski was becoming a whingeing nightmare so he was moved on to Jagellonia for a little bit. Milan Dumin didn't play much last season and also moved on with the only other permanent signing making a surprise move to Roma. He was a keeper out on loan who didnt look great so i wasn't too upset in letting him go. The rest of the loans are all kids with potential with my Director of Football finding them some new clubs to play for to get game time.
Outside of this a number of the fringe players from last season have been transfer listed and dropped to the U18's in the hope i can move them on, whilst i didnt take up the offer to keep Cabrera here for another season.
Now onto the ins. Four players who were out on loan last season have been added to the first team squad. Michal Zieba is a young right back prospect and will be the understudy for Rapa this season, He looks relatively solid, it is just whether i can get him to fill a wing back role but he should get some game time this season. Radoslaw Kanach is another youngster with lots of potential and takes the place of Dimun. We dont tend to play with a DMC but i can see myself putting this kid on to help close out games we are winning and has a bit more potential to unlock as well. Slovakians Jaroslav Mihalik and Tomas Vestenicky come in and can make an instant impact to the side. Mihalik though does want to move to a bigger club which i am happy to allow based on some of my new signings but is a shame as he adds pace. Vestenicky will be the back up striker to another new signing but is already better than my previous two back up strikers.
So onto the real ins. Well first of all i decided to extend Samuel Grandsirs loan. The Frenchman didnt do a lot in his loan spell last year but his quality is there and i think with a pre-season under him and moving him to an Inside forward i can get the best out of him. With Gostomski leaving i needed another goalkeeper so Bosnian Azmir Muminovic was signed for £375k from some Bosnian Side. He is a solid No.2 to Hadzikic who will play the cup games and probably some league games against the weaker sides as he has the potential to be a No.1 should Hadzikic get spotted by a bigger club.
A ball playing centre half with pace was high on the list and i found my man. German Alexander Hack signs from Mainz for £950k (A new club record) and he ticks every box. He is even 6"4 so keeps our height at the back. Some work to do on mentals potentially but i have a good feeling about this guy. The German leagues also were the source for my new striker as Swedish International Branimir Hrgota signs on a free transfer from Frankfurt. I wanted pace up top and now we have a pacy striker to aim for and allow us to stretch teams a bit more.
The final signing before the start of the season is a big one. I think it is a coup as Ademola Lookman joins on loan for the season meaning we have some very frightening wingers at our disposal this season and means we can cope if Mihalik does leave.
However, it hasn't been complete plain sailing as both Javi Hernandez and Antonio Culina ruptured their ACL's ruling them out for the season. It could mean at least one more new signing particularly in the AMC slot before the window shuts.
Having reviewed last season, i dont think a lot needs changing so we are going to stick to the same shape but there will be some changes to the roles.
Hack comes in as a BPD which i think naturally fits the possession based football we play whilst Grandsir will stat on the right flank but as an IF with Lookman the other side. Hrgota's role is up for debate, i have currently gone with a poacher but i am not sure if that is right for a team that works the ball in the box. Thoughts?
On the Pitch
Well three friendlies where Grandsir absolutely played his way into a loan extension bagging a 10.0 rating against Baltika whilst Hrgota also bagged 4 in another game. Goals were flying and we looked good.
That led us to the Champions League 1st Qualifying round and we were unseeded as expected. We got Qarabag of Azerbaijan, which had the potential to be tricky but we destroyed them 4-0 away from home before wrapping up a 1-0 win at home. We now have Albanian champions Kukesi which should be an easier game.
Sandwiched inbetween we had the Polish Supercup against Gornik Zabrze and it went all the way to penalties before new keeper Muminovic saved two of their spot kicks to give us the Cup.
So far so good and we are about to start the league campaign.... in the Holy war vs Wisla. What a way to start
Nice start of the season. Hoping to see you go far in the Champions league stages!
The Champions League will be a real test of this squad but one I'm sure you'll overcome!
July & August 2019
With the season upon us we still had the chance to add a few more new faces to the squad to round it up but in the end i only added only one more new face. With Hernandez's season ending injury i thought we were a little short in the AMC slot so 30 Year old Italian Cristian Pasquato was signed on a 1 year contract to cover us for this season. He has lots of experience of the league having been playing for Legia Warsaw before his release. It means we can now rotate between Pasquato and young Rakoczy.
There were 3 more permanent outgoings littered inbetween a gluttony of loan deals. The biggest being Mihalik who leaves for France and Strasbourg in an £800k deal. Alongside him both back up strikers Oliva and Piczsek were moved on.
So in my last update we had got past Qarabag in the 1st Qualifying round after a 5-0 aggregate victory over the Azerbaijani's to set up a 2nd Qualifying round tie against Albanians Kukesi.
So off to Albania we went and in the first leg we really struggled to get into the game and it didn't help we went down to 10 men and a 0-0 draw meant we couldn't relax in the 2nd leg like i had hoped. So when it came to the match in Krakow, we had to play a strong side and in the first 16 minutes we were already 3-0 up. A 4-1 victory played itself out and we were now in the 3rd Qualifying Round.
Our opponents there were Cluj of Romania in what was our toughest test yet. The first leg was at home and we were 1-0 down within a minute. Luckily this side has some heart as we thought back to take a 5-2 victory and to give us a real chance of getting into the final Qualifying round. In Romania it was just the case of closing the game out but we had it wrapped up in the first half with 2 fluky goals to seal a 7-2 aggregate victory.
Now we just had 2 games between us the Champions League group stages. As an unseeded team it was always going to be tough but we probably had the best tie we could have hoped for against Young Boys from Switzerland. We went to Bern needing to stay in the tie and somehow we found ourselves 3-1 up thanks to a Pasquato free kick and Hrgota hitting a penalty and scoring a 2nd just after half time. However, another red card from Siplak turned the game on it's head and we were pegged back to a 3-3 draw. 3 Away goals is lovely but 3 away goals and a 2 goal lead is even better.
At home, we struggled and we went 2-0 down. A hail mary helped us get a goal back and it came down to the 92nd minute and we had the ball in the back of the net. The only problem was the referee called a foul and the game ended in our 2-1 loss.
So the Champions League had to wait another year but the Europa League was now our European focus. We got this group
All things considering, it isn't awful and we have a chance, a slim chance of getting into the knockouts.
So whilst that was all going on, we also had 7 league games to contend with in what was a very busy period. It meant rotation after rotation to keep a fit 11 out there and it had the recipe for an awful start to the season. Instead we have got this
A nice tidy little start where we have dominated in some games and in others probably had a little European hangover. The nicest result though was victory in the season opener against Wisla to give me my first victory in the Holy War.
The other thing you will see from the squad stat is the gluttony of players averaging over a 7.00 which compared to last season where we just had a handful getting to that level. It is also good to see the new players making a difference. Grandsir struggled last season on loan but this year he has 3 goals and 7 assists to be our most creative player. Hrgota has half the goals that Cabrera got last season and is justifying bringing him in over Cabrera for a 2nd season. Even Pasquato is doing pretty well and between him and Rakoczy they have 5 goals and 4 assists which already beats Hernandez's total and we are producing a lot more in the AMC slot. Alexander Hack is already a genius signing at centre back with the only one disappointing being Lookman who needs to improve if he is going to get into the first team.
Europa League group looks half-decent, doing incredibly well in the league in the new campaign too!
Hard luck in the Champions League, you were extremely close to making club history and getting through to the groups. A tough group in the Europa League with Zenit and Lazio, Rijeka certainly can't be underestimated either.
Good start to the league campaign, it would be great if you could retain the crown!
Good start to the league campaign, it would be great if you could retain the crown!
Really keen to do a league like this, enjoying the story so far!
A very good start to the league campaign but that is a really difficult Europa League group, you'll do well to get out of it
On the pitch
A quicker snappier update this time around as i first show you the month of September in terms of results.
The stand out result is pretty obvious right? A quality 1-0 win over Zenit in Russia sees us get off to a flying start in the group with a very unexpected result. The match though was very even and Lookman looked sharp for the 2nd match in a row and was able to beat the defender to a rebound to turn in the winner. The pressure did mount in the 2nd half and we had a quality chance to score on the counter to put the game to bed but in the end the defence held strong and we got a brilliant 3 points that has suddenly got me dreaming of doing something quite nice in this group stage.
The match before against a newly promoted side saw us go 2-0 up, blow a 2 goal lead before demolishing them in the 2nd half but that was the only highlight in an otherwise poor domestic showing. The FA Cup saw us once again go out in extra time to a side we should have walked all over whilst the two 1-1 draws saw us look lacklustre but somehow remain undefeated in the league.
Three points better off than this time last year and undefeated compared to having lost three times after 10 games. It is a positive start but we are still marred by draws as we struggle for consistency. The European campaign hasn't helped as i have had to rotate more but in fact everyone bar a handful are averaging more than a 7.0 so we don't really have an excuse other than the fact we can either demolish a side or struggle to a draw so there is a consistency challenge for sure.
I think in my next update i might start doing a deeper analysis as to what we could improve to try and turn more draws into wins.
On the pitch
Another relatively quick update as we start to get a little more inconsistent with our results.
It started well enough as we wiped the floor with Rijeka in the Europa League going into a 3-0 lead before half time to seal us our 2nd victory in the Group stages and actually put us top after 2 games. Zaglebie Lubin played well but Cristian Pasquato played better as he single handedly beat them with two solo goals to give us our last win of the month.
From there we blew leads late on against Lechia and more surprisingly Lazio as we played out a 2-2 draw in the former before losing 2-1 late on to a much stronger Lazio side. Once agan we took the lead in that match with Pasquato curling in a free kick before we were battered down with 2 goals in the last 15 minutes to give us our first defeat in Europe.
That than led to our first league defeat of the season as an own goal gave last year's runners up Gornik a 1-0 victory over us.
We have lot our top spot in the league and in the Europa League but we are still looking good. Top scorers in the league we can demolish teams but we can also become lazy and fail to win even when we dominate. Our possession and passing stats are in the top 2 performers but sometimes we can do more with the ball. However, when you look at the squad screen, i don't see any obvious weakness in the stats.
Is there something i should be looking for that i am missing? How can i get consistency up?
These are the questions i need to answer and is where i turn to you guys for help
You are reading "Having a Crac Ovia here in Poland".