Thanks for the comments Scottio86! To say I was disappointed with the way I parted company with Derby would be an understatement, but I learned a valuable lesson that even though the Board don’t mention that the wage bill needs to be controlled – and I was within my wage and transfer budgets – there is an expectation of financial control inherent in any Managers role, and regardless of how much you are *allowed* to spend as far as budgets are concerned, you also need to look at the financial health of your club. It would have been interesting to see how it would have progressed if I had had another couple of months in the role to see whether the players transferring out would have made any difference. Then it would have possibly come down to personnel problems.
I enjoyed the run with Derby, and was impressed with how the team performed. The standout for me was Luton, and how much better they were then the rest the League One teams. Granted, they had picked up fantastic talent in the loan market and I only just managed to beat them, and whilst it made for a great run in, I do believe that they fully deserved to finish as champions. The difference between them and the rest of the league when I took over was simply too great.
With regards to the Inter job, I have never had too much success in managing big clubs in the past. The chairman’s expectations are generally stretched to the point where if you don’t meet the goals within the first year, or have a bad run mid-season, you as a general rule are unemployed. The same could be said for myself and Derby, but you only need to look at the real life trials and tribulations of, as an example, the life of a Chelsea Manager, to appreciate the cutthroat world of professional football management. There is that old adage, “There are coaches who have been sacked, and those whom are waiting to be sacked.” In previous games, I have derived the most enjoyment from taking a small club – normally a BSS/N – and building it slowly into a powerhouse. It gives me a change to develop talent, and manage the Board’s expectations in a positive way.
Glad you are enjoying the story and thanks for the feedback.
Thanks for your interest in my story thread and your feedback.
Yes, I still feel the Derby Board was harsh in their decision. I only hope that is it one that will come back and haunt them. Looking at the opportunities I had, I could have settled the Barton case differently, although I am not sure what I would have done with Stevenson. Maybe, and much as I would have hated it, buying out the contract and releasing him on a free would have been the better approach, or maybe talk to him sooner in my tenure about lessening his wage demands, or discussing coaching opportunities sooner. Although Derby didn’t appreciate the work I had done, and I have read stories about managers being unemployed for years after leaving a post, I thought it was justification really that I had two pretty decent offers within a fortnight of leaving Derby.
I think taking Inter at this time in my “career”, whilst flattering would have been a mistake, they are a club with great history and they have an awful load of talent, but I feel it would have been difficult to get any worthwhile results with them. Yes, I could have signed a better class of player, but the Board objectives would have made it difficult. I need to master the art of control the finances; quickly, certainly quicker than I managed at Derby, and I believe that that skill will stand me in great steed for any club that I manage in the future.
In order to start the game at ten years in the future, I started unemployed and went on holiday for two blocks of five years and came back just before Christmas (and the Jan transfer window) in 2020. I wanted to see what the computers AI would generate in terms of talent, see how I would cope if I didn’t have “big name” players to fall back on to sign if I was going through a bad patch, and to also see who was still playing (and where those players who has moved into management/coaching/scouting had ended up).
Thanks for reading and for your comments. It's always great to hear that people enjoy reading as much as I enjoy writing it.
Having a far greater in depth look at the squad showed a lack of quality players. There were three younger players with great potential covering the midfield and the central defense role. The rest of the team was, at least on paper, aging players drawing fairly big salaries for their skills. I could now see why Osasuna had finished so poorly in the league this term.
Again loan players were an issue, our top goal scorer, Joan
, was from Chelsea. In U-21 game play, he had 13 goals from 13 games, but for us has played 30, scored 12. My other issue with him was that we were on the hook for 18.5K per week!!! Other loan players are a young Argentine midfielder/striker utility on 6K and a Slovenian central defender on 12K per week. That seems like the best place to start with the overhaul of the team; cancel loan contacts, save a month’s worth of salary and let my scouts turn up cheaper alternatives.
Problems as I see them:
Osasuna’s wage bill is FAR too high to be sustainable;
There is another over reliance on loan players – and expensive ones at that – to fill key positions in roster;
Average age of the squad (including the U-19) is nearly 28, which means we are not either developing or recruiting young talent to fill the roster. We are instead buying in middle aged journeymen, who are no better than average with huge demands, and minimal resale value;
There is a desperate need of quality wingers, a goalie and a left back.
Scouts are now out looking for new talent on the cheap, while I systematically attempt to sell some of our players, starting once again with key player Jonathon dos Santos
, and his Mexican counterpart, Ulises Davila
, who are drawing per week salaries of 30K and 24.5K respectively.
The experience with Derby had left me slightly raw, but I had learned a valuable lesson. The decision you make as a manager is whether to sell the player, not for how much. There will be certain cases where you are made an offer that you simply can’t refuse, but these are few and far between.
That said, the decision had been made to part company with the vast majority of Osasuna’s team. I’d been appointed in May, and the transfer window ran from July through August. I believe this gives me ample time to remould the team by working my scouts hard and identifying bargains in the transfer market.
The aim is to strategically sell off the team and replace them with younger players who will form the core of the team for the next five or so years. Because of the dire financial situation, the Board have placed a restriction on the youth system. This simple action by the Board may stifle the recruitment of new talent, which is a disappointment. For the long term health of the club, I simply must get the financials sorted, the quicker the better.
The fact that Osasuna’s Board have no restrictions on scouting, and they have three non EU playing slots is making the recruitment process that much difficult. It means I can scout in Africa and Russia, where I am more likely to find undervalued players.
I’ve had my first rebuff in the media. Not normally one to play games out in the newspaper, Man City’s younger striker Ian Button wanted to leave and given his stats, he would have been ideal to replace our loan player Joan.
My scouts said he was unlikely to want to move, but I saw the opportunity to lure him away figuring he wanted to leave so Operation Button was put swiftly into place. Comment to the media “Ian Button is going to be a star, it is plain for all to see.” I waited anxiously for a response, which was a laboured “Oh gosh, wow. I’m not really that fussed.”
Guess I shouldn't have bothered, there is a multi million deal on the table from Arsenal, so he is liable to stay in the English Premiership.
I never thought from the calibre of the players at Osasuna, that they would generate much interest, or money. On first inspection, it appeared as if it would be a similar case to Derby, where they was ordinary talent demanding, and receiving, extraordinary salaries.
From the Derby experience, I had learned to make the decision to sell, to set the price and offer to market. If no offers, sweeten the deal slightly. Given the size of some of the salaries and the financial state of the club, I could not afford to engage in a long drawn out discussions with clubs and agents. Offer, accept offers, make the deal, take the cash and move on. My hope would be that in doing this would steady the finances and give me a team with whom I could train and mold into Champions, and in doing so, they would learn and grow and increase in stature and in “value" over time.
Testing the waters initially with two marketable defenders, 25 year old Norwegian right defender Niklas Østrem, had previously had his toe dripped in the water at 2M, Feyenoord snapped him up at a cool 1.3M, plus 10% of next sale. Given he had been bought from Italian club Triestina the previous year for 425K; I was pleased with the process. He’d been with the club a year, played 29 games and averaged a shade under 7.00, but it was time to move on. I was also extremely glad to shave 10K off our weekly wages.
Veteran South Korean central defender Lim Jong-Eun was also courted by Feyenoord, paying Osasuna 3.1M in the process. Jong-Eun was a dual-national (Italian) so it didn’t free up an foreign space on my roster, but at age 31, and reports coming back that he was unlikely to improve, I decided it was a young man’s game. Another 8.25K off the wage bill! This was almost too easy.
We bank a very tidy sum of 4.4M and tighten the grip on the wage bill, to the tune of 18.25K per week. Not bad for a couple of days work!!
Ian Button has signed with Stoke City for 6.25M. I did not see that coming, although he is staying in the EPL....and then he is also getting paid 37K per week.
It speaks volumes about the stature of the club that a young talented Russian striker, 17 year old Roman Mamaev, would discuss terms with you after being released from Lokomotiv Moscow, only to then turn around and sign for a mid level Russian club, Rostov.
Another disappointment for Osasuna, as I thought he was going to be a shoo in, and I'm concerned about our lack of fire power up front.
Another mistake from my predecessor which was frustrating, was the fact that senior goalkeeper Juan Carlos did not want to sign a new contract and will leave on a free transfer come 30 June 2021.
Now, I don't believe he would have been of sufficient quality to merit a place in my squad, but by him leaving on a free transfer, it has done us out of a valuable fee. This error has been magnified in light of the grim financial situation at the club.
Tomas Silbila, an Italian striker is another that I can add to the list of people who rejected me. After his AC Milan contract expired, the 23 year old was willing to enter into negotiations with us, for a reasonable contract.
He has signed on with Spanish La Liga side Getafe, who finished eleventh in the league last season (as opposed to our sixteenth). The only upside, if you could call it that is that he is been paid 18.25K, which is more than we had offered him, but he would have given cover on both wings as well as been a natural striker.
Discussing stature of clubs, within Spain, Barcelona is the most prestigious, having finished second in the league in the 2021 season, and winning the European Champions Club. Captain Lionel Messi has spent his career at Barca, and at age 34 is still worth 20.5M, but his powers are gradually fading as he plays from the bench.
In terms of improvement over the last twelve months, Granada are said to have had the most improved reputation (could it be something to do with Joannes3000, I wonder?) and at the other end of the scale, Valladolid has seen a sharp decline in the previous year, finishing the league only one place below us at seventeenth.
Osasuna’s stature has remained pretty much intact over the last year (although it has decreased slightly). I’m hoping to change for the better that over the course of my tenure with the club.
Real Sporting boss David Villa has resigned from his post with immediate effect. Insiders, who spoke under condition of anonymity, suggested that Villa had agreed terms with Italian side Fiorentina.
We have rolled around to the start of the new season, and I will showcase the new talent I have bought to the club, and outline who I have let go. The Board have asked for my feedback, and I would have liked to have told them to expect a mid-table finish.
The disadvantage there is in terms of finances, there is no difference in the availability of cash between "avoid relegation" and "mid table finish." Not that I am shirking responsibility, but it seems to be a common sense decision to "avoid relegation."
You are reading "2021, the Everest of the New Age".