2022/23 Segunda División Preview
Our title odds have improved from last year's 35-1 to 25-1 this season, putting us in 13th out of 17 in the Season Preview. It seems the Season Preview leaves out all of the B teams such as Barcelona B and Real Madrid Castilla, so I'm not sure exactly where we stand. The minimum board expectation is to finish mid-table but I'm aiming to finish in the top half and push for promotion next season.
I've decided to stick with the positive custom wing play tactic that I used toward the end of last season, but rather than using a ball-winning midfielder I've switched to a deep-lying defensive playmaker to partner the box-to-box midfielder as this has brought me more stability and success in the midfield. We've got a very young squad, so I'm hoping as our team develops we'll be able to grow into our attacking tactic and become one of the better sides in the league. I've struggled to get the more cautious counter-attack approach to work against the better teams. It seems we just play better when we take the game to the opponent, regardless of how good they are. Obviously we had to park the bus when we played Real Madrid in the Spanish Cup last season, but overall this approach brings more success and some surprise upsets against the better teams in the division, so I'm sticking with it.
I brought in former Manchester United prospect Kieran O'Hara to replace the departing Ivan Buigues after an impressive League One campaign with Gillingham in which he kept 15 clean sheets with an average rating of 7.09 from 34 appearances, conceding 29 goals. I believe he's got the quality to help us get promoted within the next couple years but after that I'll likely need to recruit a La Liga-quality goalkeeper. However, the door's always open for players to change my mind!
Former Chelsea prospect Jake Clarke-Salter has been on my shortlist since the beginning of this save, with my scouts constantly pressuring me to sign him with extremely high recommendation ratings (90+). Despite the strong partnership formed between O'Connor and Akinola last year, I decided adding the left-footed center back to the squad would only make us stronger and push our top defenders to play and train at their best as the Valdelavilla veteran Efe Ambrose nears the end of his career. He has the potential to reach a La Liga level according to my coaches and scouts, so hopefully he can step up and cement his place in the starting lineup.
I signed Azeri target man Renat Dadasov for a club-record £750,000 to replace the departing Marcus Barnes (more on that later) because my scouts claim he has the potential to reach a good La Liga level. He will partner Victor Campuzano up top, who's already good enough to play in La Liga, so this striking partnership will hopefully last several years to come. Dadasov has previously played for esteemed clubs such as Frankfurt, RB Leipzig, and Wolves, though he lacks first team experience and as such he'll have to prove himself when he arrives.
Marcus Barnes' fine form over the last 2 seasons earned him a massive £500k (plus ~£600k in add-ons) offer from Reading in the summer. Though I originally had no intention to sell him, I realized when the offer came in that Barnes was unlikely to improve any more and given ambition of the club, selling him for that price at that time was my best option. Hopefully Barnes can kick on and earn a starting role at Reading in the Championship, though it's likely that he'll be used as a backup for them.
As I feared, former Liverpool and Watford starlet Jerome Sinclair failed to impress last season, scoring just two goals in 6(18) league appearances with an average rating of 6.69. When the summer transfer window opened, I decided cashing in on him was the best option to gather enough funds to properly strengthen my frontline, though he only ended up selling for £56,000 (a significant drop from his previous £4,000,000 price tag when he left Liverpool years ago). Maybe he'll prove me wrong by tearing up League Two with Carlisle, though I doubt it at this point.
Some of you may remember the Palmer saga from years ago, when he threw several tantrums as a result of a lack of playing time and I failed to terminate his contract, further exacerbating the problem. This resulted in him being relegated to the Valdelavilla B team, where he's remained ever since. He spent the 2020/21 season on loan at Bradford City, but he spent the entirety of last season on the B team playing the the Third Division, two tiers below us. He did alright there, scoring 11 goals in 29 matches, but once his contract expired I was happy to see the back of him. He's since signed for Crewe in League One.
I decided to release former Everton prospect Luke Garbutt after he struggled to maintain his form once we were promoted to the Segunda División. He was a fantastic player for us during our Segunda División B campaign when we were promoted, finishing the season with an average rating of 7.14, bagging 6 assists and a goal in 25(5) league appearances. Last year he mainly provided backup for my left back and left wingers, and he's now back in the Segunda División B with Cordoba.
Loyalty Before Royalty
After fending off several low-ball bids from Sevilla for my promising right winger Ethan Beck (a product of our impressive youth academy), they decided to meet his £4,500,000 release clause to enter contract negotiations with him.
Unlike his old pal Ben Foster, Beck agreed to renew his contract with Valdelavilla, signing a new 3-year deal with a release clause of £10,000,000. He stated the reason for re-signing was his "long-held passion for the club," which is interesting considering we're only in our 4th season as a club. Regardless, I'm pleased with his loyalty and as such I offered him quite a large loyalty bonus despite him originally only asking for a slight raise.