Welcome back! Well that didn’t take long did it?! I’m already well into the swing and so pleased to be playing this save, especially when I never thought I would. Thank you new patch! The season is over with Pirin Blageovgrad in Bulgaria, I joined with 12 games of the regular season to go with us sitting in 13th place. The transfer window was also open but I didn’t plan on any business…..unless anyone left!
Yeah, that plan did not go well. The second I joined bid, after bid, after bid came in for virtually every player in my squad. The squads itself was quite thin but I felt we had some real quality, I didn’t want anyone to go and declined every bid that came in, then my lovely Chairman stepped in and decided he was going to start accepting crappy bids for some of my key men, most of them I couldn’t even protest!
So the plan to not delve into the transfer market fell flat. Apart from not wanting to rock the boat and to give everyone a chance to prove themselves there was another reason I didn’t want to sign anyone and that was the youth intake preview.
Personally I saw no reason to start bringing players in until the intake came through in mid-March. That plan was dashed when players started to leave.
I’d already shown you the squad in my previous post but the first thing I did when I joined was to put the players into my squad builder spreadsheet.
As you can see we have 2 players per position in the first team and a decent chunk of players in the reserves. That was enough to last us until the intake.
Then this happened…
6 players leave! My back up Left Winger, Attacking Midfield, Right Back, Goalkeeper and Striker alongside one of my first choice Central Defenders, all these were done by my Chairman, none of them I could protest. Absolutely infuriating!
So I had to bring some players in. I couldn’t cope with only 1 GK and 1 RB, nor could I only have 3 CBs. The others, I had enough in reserve or other players who could switch positions if required. So 3 players joined.
Elderson Obiogumo – Right Back – £86k from Nasarawa Utd
Probably the best right back that was recommended to me (don’t forget I am not allowed to use the player search), there were actually a lot of African players offered to me. I am delighted to have this lad here and he will provide stiff competition to Xiang Pu.
Aguinaldo Mulenessa – Central Defender – Free Transfer from Septemvri Sofia
Another amazing looking African defender, this lad though will walk into my first team. Top quality and all for no money.
Anton Petkov – Goalkeeper – £36k from Etar
Finding a goalkeeper was a lot tougher than I hoped. The deal for backup keeper Talevski was done on deadline day giving me very little time to find someone, this lad was added to my shortlist a week or so before and as the deal was so cheap I went for it. Only 16 so one for the future and a good backup for now.
So 3 decent signings, like I said before, I didn’t want to bring too many players in as the intake preview looked so good, then mid-March it came through and it was just as good as I hoped!
9 players all Top Talent and above! That is some intake but were any of them actually as good as they were rated?
And here’s the 3 I’m really really excited about…
Kiril Aleksandrov – Striker
Wow! 15 and just look how good he is already! Some amazing mentals, good finishing and first touch, he has it all! He goes straight into my first team as my back-up striker.
Iliyan Dyulgerov – Right Winger
Highly rated but he does need some serious work. He has good pace and agility and can dribble. His issue is his mentals, he has 2 for determination and low off the ball for an attacking player. He will go into our first team to get some mentoring off our more experienced heads.
Georgi Ivanov – Attacking Midfield
Again, wow! I really like the look of this lad, the majority of the attributes you would look for are over 10, he also has 2 PPMs which are perfect for an attack minded midfielder, the issue is I plan to play a 41221 so he will have to retrain as a central midfielder, more than likely a B2B. I have high hopes!
I could go through so many more but I’m sure, over the seasons, you will get to hear about the main ones!
After all that I guess we better see how the final games went and my word it was incredible!
It actually started off quite slow, I had put in a 4231 and it really wasn’t working, we weren’t creating enough, the main issue was a lot of players had come back from the Winter break absolutely shattered, I mean what were they up to?!
After the 2-0 defeat to Plovdiv I switched to a 41221, more attacking roles in midfield, a Striker who could drop in the hole and link the play and as you can see it worked an absolute treat. 4 straight wins with 3 clean sheets followed before a shock 1-0 defeat to Cherno more. Another win followed before another poor defeat, the worst so far.
It didn’t lower morale too much though and we ended the regular season with 3 wins and 3 more clean sheets. Not a bad 12 games, 8 wins, 1 draw, 3 defeats and 25 points. Really good.
And that meant we had shot up the table from 13th where we started to 8th which put us into the Second Phase Group for the season finale.
The Second Phase is 8 games between the teams that ended between 7th and 11th, we play each team twice. The results and points from the regular season are kept and the team that ends top of the group goes into a European Playoff with the team that ends 3rd in the Championship Group. Got it? Great!
And boy did it start well!
5 straight wins!!!! What an amazing run and we were playing some scintillating stuff, with 3 games to go we sat 9 clear at the top of the group in 6th, 1 more point would guarantee that European playoff spot. This seemed to heap the pressure on the lads and we fell apart! 2 defeats, including a 1-0 defeat to CSKA 1948 who sat 2nd in the table meant we went into the final game still needing that point to secure the playoff spot. In that final game we were awful, the players looked absolutely shot, we somehow scraped a 0-0 draw and with that had ended top of the group!
It was a lot closer than it really should’ve been but we had done it! We were into the European Places Playoff, win it and we go into the Europa Conference League next season.
We were up against Lokomotiv Plovdid, they had beaten us home and away in the regular season and I was really not confident, we were away from home as well and with our form falling off a cliff I was expecting the worst.
As we went in at half time my fears had been realised, we weren’t playing well and were 1-0 down. We had a very stern half time team talk and I made 2 substitutions, the boys then came out for the second half and were incredible!
Mbock scored 3 minutes in and then 6 minutes later we took a shock lead courtesy of Left Winger Radev. Comeback complete, now it was time for the defence to do their job. We didn’t sit back though, we went at them, had so many chances and if it wasn’t for their goalkeeper we could’ve scored more. The whistle blew, a 2-1 win, a stunning comeback and with that, European football next season!
What an amazing half a season in charge, how this club were languishing near the bottom of the table is beyond me, we have so much quality for this level, next season we are in Europe which should give us some extra money and I really do feel we can be pushing near to the top of the table! So much for a rebuild!!!
Player of the season goes to Right Winger Georgi Pavlov, the 32-year old was one of our most consistent performers both before I joined and after. A top quality player who, even though he is getting on, will be a key man moving forward, especially mentoring the intake players.
Young Player of the Season goes to Mitko Gavrilov, the central midfielder didn’t play as much for me as I hoped due to numerous niggly injuries but looks really good, he is only 24 as well so plenty of time to improve.
Striker Marcel Mbock ends as the clubs top scorer, like Gavrilov I didn’t get to see him play as much as I hoped due to injuries, he was injured when I joined and injured in the final few games. He did manage to play 11 games for me, scoring 6.
Left Winger Hristo Radev was probably the best player for me in my time here. He also ends with the most assists over the season. He played fantastically as an inverted winger on the left and will be a key men for me moving forward.
And here for your perusal is the whole squad.
As you can see there are 6 (I41 – Intake 2041) players in the squad and most got a few games at the end of the season. The future is bright!
So what an brilliant end to the season, a really good run of results, the boys seem to have taken to the tactic well and we have somehow managed to get European football next season. Now the hard work begins. Like the Winter window I am fully expecting a barrage of bids for my players but personally, unless the bid is mental or the Chairman goes over my head, no one will be going anywhere, I have a really good squad at my hands and with the intake players coming in this squad looks set for a challenge at least for the Championship Group (Top 6).
So if no one leaves, no one comes in. We have enough depth most areas as you can see above and even if the odd player leaves, especially up front I have enough to soak up the loss. In defence and defensive midfield though we are tight, so if anyone goes I may have to bring a player in.
If I do need to sign a player I have the money there as the board have given my good budgets.
£2.3m to spend with a sizeable increase in wage budget, we are currently spending £15k per week so a lot spare!!
I am really excited to see how we can do next season, if we can just cut out those rubbish results I see no reason why we can’t be challenging at the right end of the table.
Anyway, that’s all for now.
Thanks for reading.