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