Promotion or Bust
It was a very busy transfer window. I often consider myself to be a bit of an Obi Wan, but I found myself living the moment when Obi Won looked down at Anakin’s burning body telling him tearfully that he was the chosen one right after he defeated him in pitched combat by having the high ground. In my case, I was sitting across from the mercenary thug
young player Michael Olise and his shark
agent when he told me he had to move on to a bigger club and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Like young Skywalker, Olise was the chosen one! After haggled on a price, I felt dirty all over and he was gonzo. Joining him in selling out is Max Normann Williamsen. MNW made amazing strides during the season beginning at League 2 level and finishing as a good player for a Championship squad (if my scouts are to be believed). He attracted more interest than Olise and both Manchester squads wanted him.
To make matters worse, the bigger club Olise went to was Nottingham Forrest. Really just rubbing salt in the wound after our feebleness in the finals. But, they gave me enough money to buy several players, so onward and upward, I guess. I played the Manchesters off of each other, but could not drive MNW to higher than $13.25 million. I earned a small profit, but losing such a promising young player hurt, especially to United. I let several players leave on free as they were not good enough- excepts Richards- I would have loved to have kept him, but that was out of my hands, unfortunately. Tetak and Nevers are talented youngsters that I already had in my youth ranks, so I sent them out on loan for experience. The other loan players- I just didn’t really have anything for them and nobody wanted to buy them, so I banished them from the kingdom for a while. Either way, I had more to spend than last season and my strategy was again to push as much of the transfers fees I owed out down the road to when my finances were better.
I am going to go through each player briefly because despite who I lost, I genuinely believe my team improved dramatically and I am excited to unleash them on the Championship.
Arvin Appiah- a young and talented English attacking player. He will fit nicely into my front 4 as a rotation player. I had actually lined this transfer up last year, but am excited to see it come to fruition.
Billy Gilmour- Nuf Said! He was great as a loan player for me and is just super talented. I was very surprised Chelsea would sell, but I made him a star player and he loved me while on loan here. I fear if I don’t get promoted, I will lose him, so there is extra incentive as I want him to be in the spine of my squad for the next decade!
Elias Machuca- A smarter and more capable ball playing, albeit it smaller defender, than MNW, I like to think the specific money used to buy him was the profit from the MNW sale.
Josh Tymon- After losing Richards there was a big gap here in the starting 11. Tymon is a solid option and his nationality of English is helpful for squad requirements moving forward.
Carney Chukwuemeka- A very very high potential option. I was very excited Villa was willing to sell and while he is staying in my youth teams to start, depending on development and injuries, he may sneak up for a match at some point.
Luis Carbonell- Another plug in rotational player for my top 4, also high potential.
Javi Lopez- Needed some squad depth at left wing back, he provides that and could develop into a solid player over time.
Pedro Bicahlo- Midfield depth at AMC. I have been happy with Ojaria and he will start there, but Bicahlo will provide both depth and competition at the position.
(Not included in this list because of timing, I also signed Wilfried Gnonto to join up in January. He may end up being my best signing! While very young, he has blistering speed and I will turn him loose on the counter. Once he arrives, we will watch his performances and development with great interest)
Heading into this season, here is how my squad will line up:
In an undefeated preseason, we largely battled against Spanish/ Portuguese clubs near where we had our training camp. We also defeated the Chelsea “D” team which was fun, but no reason to get carried away.
H – Pompey 6-0 W
Really just an excellent way to start the new season. We beat the bag out of recently promoted Portsmouth. This game had a little bit of everything. Antiste made his mark on the campaign early by scoring a goal from…..yes, you guess it….an onside position! Holmes added a couple penalties coming out of swarming play in the opponent’s box. Ehlers scored on a corner and even young Gilmour got into the action with a laser beam strike from 20 yards. Antiste added one more for good measure, but an excellent start!
A – Swansea 3-0 W
Keep ‘em coming! Another dominant win. Appiah, placed in the starting lineup because Dembele came back from U21 England duty as if he had done forced marching on zero sleep for the whole time he was gone. Appiah certainly earned his money today putting in all 3 goals for the squad.
H – Cardiff 1-1 D
This reminded me of last year. We outplayed an opponent and then allowed a late game equalizer. Frustrating, but what can you do- one point is better than none.
A – Bournemouth 2-0 W
We drew fellow Championship team, Bournemouth, in our first round matchup in the Carabo Cup. A strange game overall. Neither team could really get anything going until they had a player sent off at the one hour mark. We then got two goals within the next 15 minutes. Both caused by a barrage of attacking football, although one of them was put in by a Bournemouth player. We advance to the next round- as expected!
A – Brighton 2-2 D
I was proud of the lads here. Down 2-0 at the half against a team just relegated from the Premier League away and we came flying back to force a draw. It was certainly emotionally draining as we kept getting yellow cards, but no goals, but Antiste and Ojarie struck within the last fifteen minutes of the game to get our point. Still yet to lose in league- although that sounds like a jinx if I ever heard one!
A – Bournemouth 3-2 W
For the second time in as many weeks, we play Bournemouth on their pitch. For the second time in as many weeks, we beat Bournemouth. More eventful than the last time with Bournemouth scoring twice and Antiste returning to his form with 1 scored that got called back due to his inability to judge depth. Regardless, 3 good points!
H – Huddersfield 2-0 W
This game was dominant in every way. We held them to 1 shot versus our 20 and had 60% of possession. On another day I may have been disappointed to only score twice, but on this day, I was just happy to get 3 with a rotated squad and move on.
H – Exeter (P)0-0 W
Our second round Carabo Cup match was boring. We had one goal called back, surprisingly not scored by Antiste, and that was really the only good chance of the game- on to penalties we go. In a glorious display of goalkeeping, Boyce-Clarke blocked 2 penalties of 4 and our lads scored all 4, so on we move! Far dicier than I would have hoped, but we were expected to win and we did, so good on us- I guess?
H – Watford 1-0 L
Disheartening. We outplayed them in every possible way except for one disastrous moment where Joao Pedro made us pay. After an excellent through ball into Pedro, Boyce-Clarke inexplicably charged him down. One touch later and Pedro was alone in front of goal and he made us pay. This game was also the first one we played with some league standings implications. Disappointing to have lost, but overall a solid first month of fixtures as we sit in striking range of automatic promotion.
Here is the overview:
The longer my young team plays and grows together and gets experience with my tactic, the more likely domination becomes. I really think we have the potential to run away with the league. But, only time will tell!