FINAL: AUCKLAND CITY
With just 7-days between the semi-final and final, it was crucial for us to take the pressure off the lads, so they didn’t go into the final mentally exhausted already. All the pressure is on Auckland City, and rightfully so, but take nothing away from this group: they're battlers. I've mentioned multiple times that although we may lack quality, we have a lot of team spirit and determination, and because of that: it’d be foolish to count us out. For that very reason, I'm not going to change our line-up, or the way that we’ll set ourselves up tactically.
I think that this will be a big test for us, and honestly: I think it’s a step too far for us at this present time. I’d love to win the final, don’t get me wrong, I'm just being realistic at the same time!
The final was to be played at Porritt Stadium, which [unfortunately] made it quite difficult for our fans to get there. It meant that there was a strong Auckland City presence in the stands, which tipped things in their favour that little bit more. I'm not going to lie: I looked at their starting-11 and was in awe. They have Obafemi Martins for Christ sake!
It was an even game early on, with the excitement of it being a final seeing it be an end-to-end game, but once both sets of lads settled, it was us that took control of the game. Not in terms of carving out attacking chances though: just the possession. It’s something that I've found very frustrating, and my frustration only grew when we conceded a silly penalty, which Emiliano Tade had no issue with tucking into the bottom-left corner. It was a really poor way to end the first-half, and I went into the interval wanting to vent my annoyance at the team, but knowing that I couldn’t.
I took a much calmer approach, and tried to guide the lads through how I wanted the second-half to play out, but as I looked around the room: I saw no belief from them. They looked shattered, and I knew that we’d need a stroke of luck to get ourselves back into the game.
Our second-half performance was quite good, but there was just no quality from us in the final-third, which meant that things would always be a bit difficult. Full credit to Auckland City: they absorbed our pressure, and countered us well when they won possession. An unfortunate own-goal for Liam Higgins with 69-minutes played consigned us to defeat, and honestly: I was a fair result. I've no doubt that we will find ourselves in another final in the future, and I'm confident that when that happens: we’ll be in a much better position to win it!
There's no shame in this defeat in my opinion: we gave it our best.
It’s been a great baptism of fire for me here at Team Wellington, and I'm looking forward to doing a bit of a review of the season, and then going from there. I've already got a good picture of the direction that I want to take the club in, and we’re talking to a lot of players about [potentially] moving here for next season. I've been quite surprised by the calibre of the players that are interested in coming here, and it says to me that we’re in quite a good spot. New Zealand is a great place to live, so there's that side of things that’s quite enticing, and it’s just about finding that right balance.
The board has set our budget at €25,000/month for next season, whilst our transfer budget will be €10,000. I personally can’t see us requiring a transfer budget, though there's some staff members that we’re interested in talking to where we may have to pay compensation to get them to the club.
For now, it’s time for a bit of a break, and we’ll then get ready for the 2022-23 season!
@Harleygator: I decided that I wanted to try something different for my FM22 story, and I'm quite pleased with the results so far! Thanks for the compliment!
@TheLFCFan: I couldn't believe what I was watching! It was so satisfying to see the lads perform to the best of their abilities, though the result in the final shows that this squad just isn't quite good enough to take us to the next level. With that being said, with the right additions: that could change.
@Tango: The time off worked in our favour, and maybe if we'd had a month to prepare: the final might've gone differently!
@mgriffin2012: There's been a lot of changes at the club since Drago took charge, and with the off-season just around the corner: more changes are coming. There's exciting times ahead for the Team Wellington fans: I'm sure of it!