Save Recap

Firstly, I want to apologise for the huge length of time in getting out this next instalment of my Brescia career. 

But we’re now back in the saddle and galloping at full speed.

For your sake (but mainly for mine) I wanted to give a very quick recap of what’s happened so far.

After securing promotion to Serie A on the final day of season 1, thanks to a late Borrelli goal against Venezia which saw us grab second place and go up with winners Cremonese and play off winners Sampdoria. Unfortunately, Borrelli was on loan from Frosinone and we were unable to meet their transfer demands. 

We made a promising start to life in Serie A, drawing with Napoli and then beating Lazio and Frosinone but lost star defender Andrea Papetti to Bayer Leverkusen before the summer transfer window slammed shut. 

Here’s a round up of the transfer activity:

Players in:

GK – Sergio Herrera – £200k from Osasuna

CB – Andrei Motoc – £50k from Salernitana (sent out on loan to Ascoli)

CB – Diego Stramaccioni – Free agent following release by Juventus

CB – Alessandro Vogliacco – £135k from Genoa

CB – Joaquin Sosa – £4.5m from Bologna

LB – Vasilis Zagaritis – £600k from Parma

LB – Niccolo Corrado – LOAN from Ternana

RB – Yeferson Paz – £2.4m from Sassuolo

DM – Giovanni Fabbian – £500k from Bologna

DM – Simone Bastoni – LOAN from Spezia

AM – Alex Bermejo – £2.5m from Burgos

ST – Wesley Said – LOAN from RC Lens

Oh, we also have Joachim Low as Director of Football.

Normally I like to go into more detail in my posts, but in this case I’ll swiftly run through the season and then give an overview of performances and lay out plans for next season.

Season 2 continued

September to November:

New signings Sosa and Vogliacco went straight into the starting line up for a 2-1 win over Cagliari before our first defeat against Fiorentina, where we struggled to get past the double pivot of Amrabat and Mandragora. Our first big rivalry game of the save came in an exciting 1-1 draw with Atalanta which saw Olzer stretchered off with damaged knee ligaments before sub Bessagio rescued a draw in the 93rd minute. We dominated the game so the goal was well deserved.

October started with a 1-2 loss to last season’s Serie B rivals Cremonese but we followed it up with a very spirited win over Roma, with Bianchi and Bermejo goals. A 2-3 defeat to Juventus saw both ‘keepers make a blunder of goal kicks to give away goals and a few days later we put up a great performance to draw 1-1 with 2nd placed AC Milan.

Our form started to vary going into December and performances became inconsistent. A laboured draw against 18th placed Torino was followed up by a top notch display in a 2-2 draw with Serie A leaders Inter Milan. Another draw came next as neither us or Bologna looked like scoring, despite them dominating the game.

December

The 0-0 with Bologna was followed by another, this time against Udinese, seeing us go 6 games without a win. We managed to finally get 3 points on the board with a 1-0 win over Salernitana thanks to a penalty by Olzer in another very unconvincing performance. In an attempt to kick some life back into the team, I switched to a 5-3-2 for a rivalry game against Verona… but it ended in another 0-0 draw. 

In an attempt to give some confidence to our attacking players I played a strong team in the cup against Serie B’s Empoli but we could only muster up a single goal in a 1-0 win. Whilst defensively we’re looking very good and have one of the best records in Serie A, we look in desperate need to add some fire power and passion into our attacking play. 

Another tactical tweak followed, with the team being asked to play more narrowly to take advantage of the central numbers our 3-4-3 allows and we looked great in a 4-2 in over Monza, where Bermejo scored 2 goals. A 2-0 win over Sampdoria moved us into the European places and saw us unbeaten in 10 games.

So, obviously, with things looking good the only course of action is to make things harder!

And this move changed the way I play Football Manager (and it’s still something I’m getting my head around). Enter the wonderful and beautiful Mustermann Skin. For those not aware, it’s an attributeless skin which forces you to judge players on their actual performance, rather than their actual attribute. Check out his Youtube Channel where he does a great explanation video. Obviously, it made the upcoming transfer window much tougher, especially given my still very restricted scouting range,

The table on 1 January 2025:

Things looking good at the half way point

 

We started the second half of the season with a tough game against 5th placed Sassuolo and fought to a 1-1 draw.

Next came the most nerve-wracking signing I’ve ever made in my FM career. A signing where I can’t see the player attributes.

Thanks to a boosted transfer budget as a result of our high league position (£1.7m to £3.7m) I was able to bring in another striker to challenge, and provide an alternative playing style to incumbent starter Bianchi who’d not impressed over recent months. 

Enter Stefan Feiertag, who’s scored 6 in 17 games for a struggling WS Blau Weiss Linz side in Austria. Not a great scoring record but the scouts like him and think he can make an impact as a Serie A player. The 23-year-old joins for £3.4m and as you can see, there’s not much difference in the two in terms of their attacking stats, but what I liked about Stefan was his much better dribbles per game stat. I mentioned our attack was stale and think his ability to get on the ball and run at defenders will give a different edge to our attack when needed. 

Due to the extended winter break in Austria I was unable to watch him in action so put my trust in the scouting team. He still has room to develop so I’m hoping he could turn into a good signing, for what was a large outlay for a team of our stature and limited budget.

Before moving on to my marquee signing of the winter transfer window we had a tough game against Lazio and quickly found ourselves 0-2 down. Despite being absolutely dominated all game, we managed to scrape a 2-2 draw with two late goal by Sosa and Besaggio

Brescia Calcio has become known as a team who give fallen stars an opportunity to resurrect their careers. Gheorghe Hagi and Roberto Baggio quickly come to mind, and I wanted to maintain that tradition with my next signing. 

This guy.

 

This guy who I watched put in magical performances for Ajax throughout the season which culminated in a trip to the Champions League final. I thought the £40 million Man Utd paid for him was a bargain. Obviously, things didn’t work out for him. In this virtual world he was released by United and I was finally able to pick him up as a free agent when his wage demands dropped enough. His final three seasons at Ajax saw him score 11, 9 and 8, so if I can get him around that I’ll be delighted. He fills either of my Attacking Midfield roles and can also play further back if needed. 

You can see from the below graphic that he has elite off the ball movement, work rate and teamwork. 

Yellow = 16+, Large Blue = 11-15, Small Blue = 6-10, Tiny blue = 1-5

 

For me, this is a no-brainer. As soon as I signed him his value reset to £12m so if he’s a flop. any return I get is a bonus. If he’s a success that £12 million will obviously increase. 

My aim is to get him back into the Netherlands squad, and hopefully he can help get Brescia into Europe!

January to March

A rotated team lost in the Italian Cup to Roma before we fell (unluckily) to Napoli where we were the better team throughout.

I was offered an interview for the Leeds United job, which I obviously declined….

But what I wasn’t expecting next was this:

Juventus offered ME an interview. I had to do some serious thinking.

On the one hand I want to guide this Brescia team into European football and beyond. 

On the other hand… it’s JUVENTUS!

They were in 9th place. Brescia were in 10th, both on 31 points. 

I decided to have the interview and see what happened. There’s no way the Brescia Board could be annoyed with me. And they weren’t. They understood the situation perfectly.

 

I was asked this staff I’d want to retain and bring over with me from Brescia.

 

I was offered the job.

 

But I declined. In the end I didn’t think it would be realistic for a club with the stature of Juventus to go for a fledgling manager who’s only achievement is getting Brescia into 7th place for a week in the middle of the season. (In real life though, this decision took around 3 days to make where I didn’t even open the game!). 

Nuno Espirito Santo was the second choice and he took over the reigns. I wish him well. 

We started February with a 0-1 deserved defeat to Cagliari before hammering Frosinone 4-1 where Besaggio scored two and Van de Beek volleyed in his first Brescia goal. That’ll teach them for not selling Borrelli to me! We drew with Fiorentina in a game where we absolutely dominated them and to make matters worse, both Olzer and Berjemo were injured in the game and would miss a month each. 

Our return game Atalanta was next and I was very confident – coming off the back of two strong performances. Ahead of them in the league, I didn’t hesitate to start some beef with their manager who got riled up very easily…. right into my trap….

Or at least it would’ve been if they hadn’t beaten us 1-2. Due to aforementioned injuries I was low in depth at Attacking Midfield so switched to a 3-5-2. It was a mistake. At half time I switched back to a 3-4-3 and we looked much better but were unable to claw anything from the game.

Season 1 in Serie A goes to bitter rivals Atalanta.

A win over Cremonese was the only positive result before a terrible run of games in March, where our once solid defence suddenly looked like a bunch of amateurs. Losing to Roma, Juventus, AC Milan and Torino whilst conceding 12 goals in 4 games. 

Maybe I should’ve taken the Juventus job….

 

April and May and tactical changes

As if March wasn’t tough enough, April started with top of the table Inter. Obviously, we lost. 0-2, with Martinez scoring both in the same bottom corner, from similar positions. 

Enough was enough. Changes needed to be made.

Despite bringing in Van de Beek and Feiertag, our attack looked lethargic and passive. More than happy to maintain possession without doing anything with it.

What I wanted to do was FORCE them to do more. 

Whilst the defence and midfield remained the same I added the following instructions:

  • Tempo raised from standard to Slightly Higher
  • Run at Defence
  • Be more expressive
  • Distribute to centre backs (to commit opposition to the ball, freeing up midfield players)
  • Pressing moved up to Much More Often

I also added the Dribble more Often instruction to Van de Beek.

As mentioned earlier, these changes would force players to take the initiative and not take the easy option.

First game:

Well, it certainly was a massive improvement and the changes had the exact effect I’d hoped. Our attack looked like it had a purpose and we completely dominated the entire game. Even their goal was from a defensive blunder. Otherwise they didn’t get a sniff. 

Second game:

Sigh.

Haha, don’t worry. It wasn’t all bad. We were by far the better team but just couldn’t score.

We next picked up a 2-2 draw with Salernitana, beat Hellas Verona, drew with Monza who scored a 89th minute penalty to equalise and finished the season with two wins, against Sampdoria and 3rd placed Sassuolo.

Lots of positives to end the season and we’ve possibly cracked it.  An 11th placed finish in our first season in Serie A is a great achievement. Especially as we have the lowest wage budget in the division. 

The xG table showed some interesting results. We could’ve finished in 7th, scoring 4 less than we should’ve and accumulating 7 less points. At the top, the stats show the other Milan team should have the Scudetto, with Inter amassing a massive 18 points of their expected points. At the other end, Hellas Verona can consider themselves lucky to be playing Serie A football next season.

As expected, this has turned into a long post so I’ll cover player performance in the next update.

In the meantime, here’s the leaders:

 

Union and Lens roundup

Included in the aims of this save are exceeding the performances of Union Berlin and RC Lens; the inspirations for this project.

Last season both teams saw a drop off in form. RC Lens plummeted to 10th place and replace manager Franck Haise with Luka Elsner (from Le Havre). The change worked well and this season they finished 7th, just outside the European places. However, they drew a massive 14 games, showing they may have been unlucky not to finish much higher. Eli Wahi scored 15 goals. However, they did spend £27.5m to get there. They should definitely be back in the top 6 next season.  

In a nice plot twist, Franck Haise is still unemployed and I’ve offered him the role of my Assistant Manager….

Over to Germany and Urs Fischer is still the man in charge of Union Berlin. After finishing 6th last season they entered the Europa League but lost, for the second year in a row, in the round of 16. Unfortunately, their Bundesliga performance wasn’t good and they could only muster a 12th place finish. Max Beier, a £11m signing from Hoffenheim lead the team with 13 goals. 

Looking ahead

How did the new signing do? More importantly, can Donny Van de Beek resurrect his career in Serie A?

And what are our needs from the next transfer window?

Make sure you read the next update and find out.

 

Author

  • ThrowingCopperFM

    ThrowingCopperFM is known for unraveling complex FM strategies, often using Girona FC as a canvas to illustrate his tactical theories. Whether it's penning down comprehensive guides on mastering promotion in FM or sharing bargain player finds, ThrowingCopperFM's content is a treasure trove for aspiring managers. His active Twitter engagement further demonstrates his enthusiasm for football discussions beyond the virtual realm, making him a well-rounded and appreciated contributor in the FM community.

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2 thoughts on “Brescia Calcio Season 2 – Surviving Serie A?

  1. Great choice of the Mustermann Skin. I’ve been in need of a mix-up and this skin rejuvenated my love for FM.

    Good solid Serie A 1st season i’d say!

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