It’s been a while but we’re back again for another update to the We are the ‘Ton save. Last season, we cleaned up domestically and were really on track with the aims set out in the 2020 Vision. How would we fare in the 2021/22 season? Could we hold on to our Scottish Premiership crown?
Finish, at least, in the top 3 of the Scottish Premiership each season.
We sneaked last year’s league title by the skin of our teeth, in a dramatic last day grudge match against Celtic. Could we be the first team to retain the Scottish Premiership since our arrival in the league?
Yes we could, and we absolutely dominated the league this time round. It was truly never in doubt and we led the way for pretty much the whole season.
Comparing performance up against last season, there’s been improvements and just a slight negative. That slight negative being we conceded 4 more goals this season compared to last, that’s even with our horrific start to last season. We have, however, turned a few of last seasons draws into wins, and the points total of 91 is the highest achieved since we were promoted to the league. Celtic only achieved 2 more points in the first season (2015/16), in which they didn’t have any proper challenge for the league title. We did also manage to score 18 more goals across our 38 games, ending the season with a record of exactly 2 goals a game. All in all, a very successful performance in the Scottish Premiership. Where does that leave the average points figures?
Consecutive league wins and we’re now way out in front in the total points stakes. Rangers’ horrific season leaves them far behind now. Their downfall definitely started when Warburton left to return down south, a decision that hasn’t worked out for both parties. Deila is still in charge at Celtic, and they seem happy that he’s only brought 1 league title in 5 years. Madness.
How’d we get on in the cups? You’ll actually remember last season we won the domestic treble.
It’s still a famous treble when you do it in consecutive seasons right? We really cemented our standing as the best team in the country by retaining the Scottish and League Cups. A comprehensive 4-1 victory over our favourite opponents, Celtic, secured the League Cup. That’s 24 times we’ve played them now over a 5 year period. Someone please take the plunge and restructure the Scottish league system. The Scottish Cup final was a trickier affair looking at the result, but it was never in doubt. An early goal, and another with 10 minutes left gave us a 2-0 win over Aberdeen.
Since we’ve got domestic competition pretty much nailed down now, it’s maybe worth tweaking this aim to incorporate European competition. Let me know on Twitter what you think we should be aiming for. At the current time, the Scottish Premiership winners qualify for the group stage automatically, which is a huge boost. Until we make strides and win a few games in the group stage however, it’s proving tricky to get to that next level.
We were drawn in a really tricky group with Real Madrid, Chelsea and Monaco, and we did well to get results against Monaco to qualify for the Europa League in 3rd place. Just that win bonus of around £1m for a win in the CL group stage makes a huge difference for our club! We did, however, go out of the Europa League at the first hurdle. A defeat against Sevilla on away goals was tough to take, but on reflection, we probably didn’t deserve to go through. We’re up to 50th in the European Club Rankings now too, so we’ll see what difference that makes going into the 2022/23 season.
Grow the Greenock Morton fan base.
Just look at that growth we’ve managed to achieve over the last season.
Starting off with a huge rise of almost 25% in season ticket holders. Almost 6,000 in total brought over £2m into the club. A 22% growth in average attendance is a great figure as well, and previously we could only reach those numbers through the gates when Rangers or Celtic visited Cappielow. It’s great to see those numbers consistently turn out now. You can imagine my delight that after a meeting with the board, I received this in the inbox just before Christmas.
I’d been patiently waiting for the right time to ask, and it paid off. Cappielow was going to become the 8th biggest stadium in the country. Or was it?…
Have you ever come across that much maligned FM bug before when you ask for a stadium expansion, it’s granted, but then come the end of the season, it gets completed ignored, and a new one altogether gets announced? You must have. It’s happened here, and it’s not a positive thing. At the end of the season, the board announced they’d be adding 3,411 seats to Cappielow. Beforehand, I would have been delighted with this. It’ll enable us to play our CL games at Cappielow, taking us over the 8,000 seating capacity needed to do so. But there’s no other feeling than disappointed that the overall capacity of Cappielow won’t be expanded to 14,645.
Establish a Scottish core.
The Scottish core had been introduced and pretty much established last season. My original aim was to have a Scottish goalkeeper, central defender, central midfielder and a forward. Tick, that was achieved last season. This season (and a little sneak peak at one major signing we’ve made in the summer before the 2022/23 season) we can now almost play an entire Scottish XI.
There’s just a couple of players in the line up above that you haven’t been introduced to yet.
Previously, Ian Fleming has been the Scottish striker that I’ve been showcasing, however, O’Leary made the breakthrough this season. He’s younger and better than Fleming. He joined the club back in 2019/20 for £400k but spent the 2020/21 season out on loan to Inverness, scoring 19 in 44 games. Something I’ve not been very good at in other saves is making the effort to promote any youth players, especially after they’ve returned from a successful loan spell. O’Leary forced my hand on that though, and bagged 10 goals from 12 league starts.
Mini Messi returns home to Scotland. I’ve had the pleasure of watching Gauld pull the strings in my Scotland side over the last few years, so know first hand how good he is. No scouting was needed. On the transfer list at Sporting, arguably reaching his peak, I actually didn’t need him whatsoever, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to bring him in as our record signing at £6.5m. I’m really excited about the potential impact I feel he can have on the club as a whole. Next level stuff, fingers crossed!
There’s no facilities upgrades to report back on from this season, unfortunately. The board seem to believe we’re now settled in our good training facilities, good junior coaching, great youth facilities and above average youth recruitment.
Again, the scouting network could have done a bit better here. A couple of young Scottish prospects came into the club, but nowhere near the level I’d like. I’ll probably throw this out to you for a bit of advice on what you think I should be doing to source players with high potential. Should I cast the net a bit further?
What does a Morton player look like?
Up until now, I’ve only been writing this section focusing on four of our brightest prospects from the squad. I’ll still show you how they’ve progressed, but I wanted to take today to give you an insight into some of the other players within the ‘Ton first team squad that brought us success this season.
First up, here’s the current Greenock Morton captain, Isaac Hayden. He arrived in the 2019/20 season from Arsenal for £825k. I’d thoroughly recommend bringing him in as a youth prospect if you’re just starting out a save, he’s been a really solid player for us in the DM role. As you can see, he’s now worth almost £10m which, if we did decide to cash in on him, would be a huge profit for the club.
He’s part of our Scottish core, but here he is in all glory. Christie also arrived in the 2019/20 season from our league rivals, Celtic, for just £71k. Celtic’s surplus to requirements is our gain, and he’s had a couple of great seasons in our domestic domination. 22 goals over 2 seasons from the right wing slot cutting inside, and he’s now worth £10.25m. The second most valued Scottish player at the current time, after Andy Robertson.
A man quite a few of you will know very well. He’s highly rated from the get-go and I was able to bring him in on a pre-contract agreement from Bayern at the beginning of the season, after they’d snapped him up early on from Midtjylland. He had a great first season at the club, scoring 12 and laying on 9 assists from the left wing.
The jewel in my crown. Our main creative outlet, although he didn’t quite live up to the goals and assists levels of his first season at the club, he only recorded 3 goals and 4 assists this season, he greatly benefited from playing in my advanced playmaker role and the emphasis that FM16 seems to put on key passes being a huge indicator for a players average rating. A free transfer, I can’t bring myself to accept any of the bids coming in for him. It’s a real weakness I’ve got.
I also wanted to highlight a couple of players that I’ve done some really great business on, i.e. ones that I could actually hit the ‘accept offer’ button on. These two have pretty much kept the club affloat.
Surac arrived for a fee of £37k from Hajduk in Croatia, spent a season and a half at the club and was sold on to West Brom for £5.75m. A very tidy bit of business for a great left back.
What a player. Kern arrived at Cappielow on a free transfer from FC Zurich in the 2020/21 season, lit up the Scottish Premiership with 13 goals in 26 games on the wing, and left for Valencia in a £9.5m deal. He’s since moved on to Roma in a £16.25m deal, and as you can see, is now worth almost £30m. A remarkable piece of wheeling and dealing in the transfer market, if I don’t say so myself.
There you have it. The summary of the 2021/22 season, in which we retained our title as the most reputable team in Scotland, but couldn’t quite make the step up needed in Europe. Hit me up on Twitter or Tifo if you’ve got any thoughts on what we should be aiming for in Europe, what you think we can do to improve those European results, and also, where you think we should be aiming to bring players into the club from? Should we cast the net a bit wider?