So, promotion to La Liga was won in my first season at the club and if you missed how we won Liga Adelante, catch up here. Also in that post you’ll notice we had an epic Copa del Rey run, only to be beaten in the final by
Barcelona Messi. The defeat was tough to take, but it did mean we would have a potentially tricky Europa League campaign running alongside a tough season back in the big time. Could we cope on all fronts?
We’ve reached January 2016 in game. Having not quite played the first round of fixtures in the league, are we bravely battling against relegation?
I was happy with the first two games of the season, a couple of away draws at Depor and Malaga, two potentially tricky places to go. The 3-1 defeat away at Cordoba, who came up with us last season if you remember, was a shocker, and I let the team know so. We then went on a 7 game unbeaten run that included a brilliant 1-0 win, and 2-2 draw at home against Valencia and Real Madrid, respectively. A, not unexpected, away defeat at Atletico was followed up by a brilliant run of 5 wins on the trot, finishing up with that brilliant 5-1 win at home versus Rayo. The last game before Christmas was against our old foes from last season, Barca, and guess who scored inside a minute? Yeah, I’m not even typing his name again.
The Europa League
Our Copa del Rey final defeat against La Liga champions, Barcelona, meant that we entered the Europa League for the 2015/16 season. Unlike the majority of English clubs, I’m not adverse to the Europa League, and any cup run and a chance to get more cash into the club coffers is welcome to me.
Of course, we had to qualify first. Stromgodset and Grasshoppers should have put up more of a fight I thought, but we soared through to the group stage, scoring 8 goals and conceding 0 in the process.
Arsenal and Trabzonspor were our main challengers in the group, and after it was all over, I was really disappointed to not progress. The 2-0 home defeat against Trabzonspor was probably the most disappointing performance so far in my time at the club, 2 players saw red. Rory Donnelly’s 84th minute equaliser against Arsenal should have been enough for a point, but Theo Walcott thrashed home from a corner in the 92nd minute to consign us to defeat. A draw there, and a win away at Trabzonspor in the last group game would have taken us through, hence the disappointment. A decent run, that brought over £1.5m into the club. Not bad I suppose.
Again, our Copa del Rey exploits last season, coupled with Barca winning La Liga meant we had the Spanish Super Cup to contest at the beginning of the season. I didn’t expect much here and Barca comprehensively beat us at home, before a spirited 0-0 draw at the Camp Nou.
After successfully negotiating the potential banana skin of Jaen in the 4th round, we’ve been drawn against Betis in the 5th round. Sitting 13th in the league, we should be okay there.
Rory has brought his Liga Adelante form into La Liga and leads the club scoring charts with 13 goals in 25 games. He leads the line brilliantly, and when he’s not scoring, he’s chipping in with creating chances. 6 assists and 70 key passes made so far this season, he’s now worth £1.8m which will be nothing but profit when I look to sell him at the end of the season in accordance with my philosophy.
Our midfield engine. Joe is going from strength to strength. If I wasn’t giving each player brought in a max of 2 seasons at the club, he’d be our midfield stalwart for years to come. 3 goals and 5 assists in 27 games with an average rating of 7.10.
The wild card. I received one of those news items, you know the ones you always get from agents touting their players that you ignore 9 times out of 10. Well this one included this man, and I instantly recognised him as a player that had been touted as a star in this years version of the game. I haven’t quite managed to get 80% of the squad to be from the home nations, but technically, this guy could be one of the 5 squad members that weren’t. He joined in October, and I’ve been slowly introducing him to first team action. I’m already sorted on either wing, so I’ve been rotating him up top in the complete forward role with Donnelly. He’s got 4 goals in 4 starts. A Tenerife star in the making, and ideal because the free transfer striker signings from the home nations have been slim pickings so far.
The Club and Our Philosophy
Here’s another reminder of my rules for this save:
- 80% (20) of the first team squad to be from either England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or the Republic of Ireland.
- Players brought in from these nations will spend a maximum of 2 seasons at the club, receive significant game-time and the best possible development, and then be moved on.
- No money will be spent on incoming player transfers, leading to…
- Strive to make a profit on all outgoing player transfers.
And here’s how we’re faring on each aspect:
- No changes here, Savitsky has come in, but one of the existing squad left at the beginning of January so that’s still 52% of the registered squad for the 2015/16 La Liga season are from the home nations, equating to 13 players. That’s a 160% increase compared to last season.
- This rule is soon to come into play. I’ll be looking to make good money on both Rory Donnelly and Joe Edwards. Edwards is currently wanted by Malaga, however, I’d prefer to keep him at the club for the rest of the season. Dale Jennings should move on for a decent profit too, although it’ll be tough to let him go.
- The current spend on incoming transfers is £0.
- The outgoings from the club total £875k. I managed to flog off a fairly decent youth product from the B team for £500k. He was Basque, so Athletic bit my hand off.
Our promotion to La Liga and the Europa League campaigns have had a good affect on the club finances. We’re now firmly in the black, with £5m in the bank. I’ve been given the vast majority of it to spend in the transfer market, but I haven’t been tempted to break my rules and dip my toes into the transfer waters.
The second half of the season will be tough, it’ll be tricky to continue our form as the league’s surprise package. Stay tuned and find out when the end of season update drops, or give me a follow on Twitter @FM_Samo for sporadic updates on the save.