Standing Free – Season 3 Preview – 3.0

AFC

After the heartbreaking end to the league in my first season, we set out to win it last season. It went down to the last day again, but we couldn’t quite get over the line. Celtic pipped us again as too many draws during the season did the damage. A win in the League Cup was all we could muster, as we were defeated in the Scottish Cup final by Celtic as well. They’re confounding all my past experiences on FM, and actually being managed really well by the AI Brendan Rodgers.

As for Europe, it was a brilliant season. The aim was to qualify for the group stage of the Europa League, and get at least one win. We did more than that, qualifying not just for the group stage, but qualifying out of a tricky looking group too. We came unstuck against a strong Liverpool side in the 1st knockout round, however.

It’s time to get the third season underway!

New kits

Good friend of the blog, VRFussball, mentioned on Twitter he was looking to create some new kits, so I got in touch and here they are.

Things of beauty. Massive thanks to VR for doing that. His creative work, alongside his FM saves, is brilliant so do check him out if you haven’t already.

Thoughts for 2017/18

It’s time for us to win the league. We have to make that step up this season. We’ve gone close so far, taking it down to the last game of the season twice in a row, but it’s not been enough. Looking at last season too, we got worse. The title wasn’t in our hands, so this season we have to be better in the league.

You could say that our form in Europe distracted us in the league last season. We need to be better at balancing the two. Europa League group stage qualification is a must again if we want to continue to improve the nation’s standing though. If we want to continue to develop the club, we need to match last season and compete in the group. I wanted one win last season, we got 2 and managed to qualify from the group. The luck of the draw comes into it, but our group last season was strong. First up though, we still have to qualify for the group, as the improved coefficient, and increased European slots up for grabs, doesn’t kick in until next season.

A title win this season takes us straight into the Champions League group stage. Are we ready for that? Probably not. But what an adventure it’d be if we managed it.

Staff changes

Scouting

Craig Robertson’s contract was allowed to run down, his scouting attributes just weren’t good enough for him to remain at the club in the long term. As we increase in club stature, it’s always good to expand your scouting knowledge by bringing in more scouts from abroad.

Fontes adds some Portuguese knowledge to the team, while Gonzalez joins Carles Puyol in bolstering our Spanish knowledge. McGuinness is obviously Scottish and we know everything there is to know about our home country, but he’s got good scouting attributes and I like to surround myself with as many staff members from the nation I’m playing in as possible.

Coaching

The two most important pieces of coaching news is that our assistant manager and head of youth development’s time at the club have both come to an end. In comes Alex Miller as our assistant, and ex-Man Utd supremo, Brian McClair as our new head of youth development.

Miller’s arrival as assistant is probably more of a sideways step, than a leap forward in quality compared to our previous assistant. The main role I have for my assistant is to provide me tactical advice before a match on our opponents, and he’s maxed out in that area. McClair’s arrival is a huge step forward for the club. Our previous head of youth development had two intakes, and from those two, there’s only one player that looks like he’ll be able to make the step up to first team football. Not good enough. Really looking forward to what McClair can bring us when the next intake comes around.

Arthur Albiston’s retirement, plus a slight increase in the number of coaches allowed means that we’ve been able to strengthen in that department.

Chamberlain comes in to provide expertise in tactics and ball control training, while it’s always good to get a 2nd fitness coach on board to take the burden off. What a coup to sign to former Real Madrid and Chelsea man, Carlos Lalin. He’ll take over our aerobic training.

Club infrastructure

More developments on this front. Two upgrades have been agreed with the board, to improve both our training and youth facilities. Training currently stands as good, while our youth facilities are only average. Upgrades on both of those should have a really positive effect on the club.

We really cemented our place as the 2nd best team in the country last season, while our good showing in Europe took us up to be the 138th ranked side in Europe. So much room for improvement there. Our historical poor performances still counting against us in that respect, as we’re still below teams I’d fully expect us to beat if we came against them.

One final bit of news is that we’ve now got Inter Milan on board as an affiliated club, so we could look to bring in a couple of their players on loan for the coming season.

Can we finally do it? Do you think we can win the league this season?

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