Damn it. Josh King is still at Osasuna! Kaiserlautern's offer just wasn't good enough. Must try harder!
After having my 6.75M offer accepted for Steven Nicholson, and his agent saying that he didn't want to discuss terms, the media published a story saying he was at odds with the team and the manager regarding playing time. Soon after, transfer by request and offered to us. Offer made and am now just waiting to see whether they will first accept the offer, and then whether the player will discuss. Fingers crossed.
There is still hope!! After talking to the media and passionately saying that I'd do everything in my power to sign Steven Nicholson. He came back and said "Spain doesn't really appeal, but if a formal offer was made, I'd consider it."
Steven Nicholson is officially an Osasuna player! He (or rather his agent) accepted a four year, 9.25K per week deal. The agent fees and loyalty payments were steep, and it took him a week to sign - I'd guess making sure no other offers were on the table.
John de Wit is a sixteen year old Dutch striker who was hard to pass up at only 275K. He stands at 6'8'' so has excellent attributes for a target man. At his age the lad has many double digit scores for his attributes. With the embarrassment of riches at striker I now have, the decision will be whether I loan him out or play him from the bench.
There were four friendly fixtures to be played away from home for money. With under- 19 and 21 fixtures still being played, I had some key players away on international duty. Against Plabennec, I had decided to wheel out the tried and true 4-4-2 formation which has served me well at Derby.
DC: Luis Riuz (one of the remaining Osasuna players prior to my tenure)
I thought with that this was the strongest team I could assemble, and the predictions were a cricket score in our favour.
My first friendly in charge nearly ended in disaster! Against French side Stade Plabennecois, we dominated possession at close to 70-30, and showed flashes of brilliance, but still went to the sheds after 45 mins 0-1 down. Zakrzewski had missed a tackle which had allowed their striker to tap in at point blank range.
After giving the team a revv up at half time, it took until the 70 min for us to draw level. Farver took an attacking corner, ball to Nicholson, who floated it to centre back Salvadó, who popped one over the head of the keeper to record 1-1.
The winning goal came in the dying seconds of the match, with Farver again putting a through ball for Nicholson to run onto and power through the keeper for a 2-1 win.
It is worth mentioning that while we were “unimpressive” according to the media report, I thought Farver, Nicholson and Goñi had excellent games, we had 19 shots on goal whereas Plabennec had four, Nicholson hit the net more times that I am going to admit, and had a ball cleared just shy of rolling in goal, and Czerwinski had a goal called offside.
I also need to remember that this is the team’s first game together, so the gelling isn’t there yet, and they will all be recovering from the off season and regaining the conditioning.
Going up against French side Red Star, I decided against tactical changes, instead making personnel changes to see whether it made any difference. Starters were:
DC: Luis Riuz
At the end of the game, looking down the barrel of a 26-2 shot on goal count, and possession favouring us 63% to 37%, a good solid workout would be on the cards? The only disappointing aspect from a managers viewpoint was the lack of goals in the second spell, and injuries to Fernández (4 weeks with a twisted ankle) and Ramos (who came on as a sub and lasted five mins; bruised rib five days) Nicholson was taken off to protect him, but the other strikers who played disappointed.
Normal service had resumed - Osasuna running out 6-1 winners against Red Star 93. Both starting strikers Nicholson and Fernández getting a brace each, and left wing O'Keeffe giving a man of the match worthy performance and netting a early goal.
Per Farver again bossed the midfield around, and young centre back Steven Schmidt claiming our solitary goal in the second half. Schmidt was the culprit soon after, letting in a soft goal, and our celebrations were tempered by injuries to Fernández and Ramos, the captain.
The next friendly was against Italian side Andria Bat, and most of the squad had had a chance to showcase their skills. I also had a fairly good idea whom was likely to start the game against Valencia, particularly as defender Melvin Tolido had been injured at the under -twenty one tournament and was on the sidelines for four weeks with a sprained ankle. Goalkeeper Mário Quintal and Mikel Ensal (a home grown star, and a candidate for the “defensive” midfield role) were only due to return from competition in three weeks, which was when we were due to kick off La Liga.
Starters against Andria Bat are:
ST: de Wit
It was a safe assumption that, barring further injuries the starting team against Valencia would have:
The striking position may well be a case of who remains fit, and the defensive line is anyone’s to lose in my mind. The Goal position I am leaning towards Gorman, purely because of his high influence score and I am hoping Ramos will recover from his injury to lay claim to the second strike slot. When Quintal, Ensal and Tolido recover, it should make the picture clearer, but the other defensive positions are almost a lottery at this stage!
The game against Andria was remarkably even, and it showed that Osasuna had the ability to absorb pressure when it counted. Possession at the end of the game was 48:52 in our favour, and we had ten shots on goal, Andria seven.
Winger O’Keeffe slotted the first goal in after great build up involving defender Beck and mighty midfielder Farver, before receiving a pass from monster striker de Wit. 0-1 ahead after seventeen minutes. The game was best described as a battle of the midfield, and with Ouattara substituting for O’Keeffe at the half hour mark, both teams were keen to win and not take a step back.
Half time we were still up 0-1, but reality was it was still anyone’s game. Farver was subbed off purely for protection, with Armendariz filling the attacking role, but still the arm wrestle continued.
The game was only settled when Andria were hot on attack, the ball found its way to Nicholson, who sprinted untouched the length of the field, and passed infield to de Wit, who was left with a tap in. 2-0 up and I believe that the moment of inspiration had broken the spirit of Andria. While Andria kept coming at us, they never really threatened and we took home a comfortable 0-2 win, with my defensive line impressing.
King has had interest registered from most of the A-League clubs. Let's hope I can make a deal happen this time around. Still no interest in any of my other players for sale....
You are reading "2021, the Everest of the New Age".