This is a tricky off-season for me. I need to prepare for a Champions League campaign, mount a Serie A challenge to finish in the top 3-5 again and I would LOVE to win the Coppa Italia. However, all this is to be done on a minimal budget of £10 million. Some of which will need to be put into the Wages “bucket” as I look to sign key players to longer contracts. 

I’m also very keen to have a very quiet transfer window. 

The players I have are mostly all young enough to potentially develop further and as such I don’t want to just buy better players for the sake of it and risk upsetting squad harmony. Our club captain, Dimitri Bisoli is already on the way out and I’d be delighted if he’s the only one, especially as I had 6 first team players who have more than 2 teams displaying interest.

As you can imagine, returning from a 2 month FM break presents many challenges.

One of them is forgetting the little issues which sometimes get presented if you don’t micro-manage every aspect.

For example, the coaches recommended I offer our combative midfielder, Fabbian, a new contract amidst growing interest from other, larger teams. He’s a key member of the team and our future, so I was happy to pin him down to a longer commitment… unfortunately I opted to let our Director of Football, Joachim Lowe, do the negotiations. He did a decent job of the wages (£29k per week), but promised 23-year-old he’d be played as a Box to Box midfielder… not only is that a contract promise I hate having in place, as it puts a blocker on tactical versatility, but I was planning a move away from that role… Oh well.

Over the past two seasons he’s averaged 4.43 successful tackles and interceptions and wins possession on average 9 times per game. However, I think he can move into a more creative role as he develops. Therefore, those stats, will be used when I’m looking for a new “midfield destroyer” … it’s a project I’m calling Benchmarking for Success and is something I’ll look to develop more in a future blog.

New contract for Fabbian

 

The Transfer Window Opens

As I was taking stock of my squad and figuring out the best way to spend the £10m transfer budget, I was hoping for a very quiet start to the pre-season… But as soon and the transfer window opened, Fenerbahce made an offer for Stefan Feiertag for £7.5 million.

As this was more than double what I bought him for (£3.2m) I was tempted, however, he’s got a very good partnership with top scored Flavio Junior Bianchi (43 goal contributions combined last season) so the last thing I want is to break them up.

As such, I declined the offer. 

Stefan Feiertag – transfer target for Fenerbahce

Players IN

Whilst I’m clearly happy with the attacking duo of Feiertag and Bianchi, there’s a severe lack of depth behind them. There’s two decent youth options, Raul Moro (23-year-old who scored 9 times for Westerlo in the Belgian Jupiler Pro last season whilst playing as a winger in a 4-4-2) and 17-year-old Robert Fiori who’s goal-a-game U18’s heroics led to a loan spell with Ascoli where he scored 3 in 9 appearances.

I wouldn’t be comfortable with either of these having to step in for Champions League football should the starting duo get injured so I looked for a different, more experienced option. 

The first signing, therefore, is a player coming in on loan. Mohamed-Ali Cho joins for the season from Real Sociedad, after spending the previous season on loan in the Championship with Bristol City, where he scored 10 goals. Signed by Sociedad from Angers in a £9.5 deal, the promising youngster failed to live up to expectations, making on 28 first team appearances in 3 season. He comes with a £12m optional fee, so should be beat out Bianchi or Feirtag and become a regular started it could be a good deal for both clubs. Being a regular FM’er in France in the past, I’m well aware of his skill set and the versatility he’ll offer. 

First signing of Season 4. On loan with a £12m option to buy.

Whilst there were better “pure” strikers available, his versatile skill set is appealing to me. As he started out as a winger at Angers, he’s got the ability and pace to run at defender which means I can use him both as a Deep Lying Forward in my 3-5-2 and also can drop him back into an AMC role when I switch to a 3-4-2-1, which is my back up formation when we need to take more control in the middle of the park.

The next player in is one which I didn’t want to make but felt forced into due to contract situations. 

The left Wingback position has been of interest since the start of this Brescia career. Each of the three seasons has seen a different player bought in as the starter. Firstly the on loan Dickmann, who did well but his parent team wanted too much to make the deal permanent. Then in came Yeferson Paz, who failed to live up to expectations and spent last season out on loan. Last season was another loanee, Marc Pubill who performed to a good standard but not really a level I want to spend £5m on – half my transfer budget!

Throughout this carousel of players there’s been one constant who’s performed way above expectations and his out-performed his attribute sets:

Alexander Jallow. 

The 28-year-old Swede has been rock solid, notching up 19 assists over the 3 seasons with an average rating of 7.01.

Unfortunately, which it came to contract negotiations this led to him demanding to be a Star player and the subsequent wage hike associated. I said “NO”, he said he’s refusing a new contract.. which paired with his £3.2m release clause means he’s very likely to not be around beyond this season, and possibly not even this transfer window.

Rather than wait to see how it all plays out, I signed Diogo Spencer from Benfica.

New Left Wingback, Diogo Spencer

My scouting staff are adamant that the 22-year-old could develop into a star player in Serie A, so a total of £10.5m with £3m being paid upfront seems like it could be a bargain. He broke into the Benfica first team last season, making 8 appearances, with 1 goal and 1 assist. He’s quick, good on the ball and has plenty of room to improve. 

Next in was a youngster who showed up in a recruitment focus. Nkosinathi Majozi is a 17-year-old left Wingback who joins for a total of £190k from Boavista in Portugal. He should develop into a good first team standard player so worth bringing in and developing.  

Players OUT

It comes as no surprise that Dimitri Bisoli has departed and joined Genoa in a £1.2m deal. He’s been a great servant to the club, notching up 9 year in the first team and will be a big miss as a team leader. However, his first team minutes depleted each season and he wanted to move away for regular football. Hopefully, Genoa provide that for him. 

The only other player to leave on a permanent deal is Central Defender Andrei Motoc. I was unsure if I’d keep him around for another season after his development stalled and he only performed averagely last season on loan at Benevento in Serie B. Then, on Transfer Deadline day, Charleroi came in with a £775k bid so I accepted. Not bad profit for a player I paid just £40k for. 

One players leaving on loan is a striker mentioned earlier is striker Raul Moro who, potentially against my better judgement, I’ve decided  – on Deadline day – to join Tenerife in La Liga. He’ll get first team football in a very good league and should be much better for it. Much better for him than being the 4th choice striker here. 

Champions League Registration Rules:

A major element in shaping any transfer activity was the registration rules for the upcoming Champions League competition, the 25-man squad needs to contain the following:

  • EIGHT players trained in Italy. This shouldn’t be an issue as currently I have 15 in the squad.
  • FOUR players with Home Grown at Club status. Ok, this could be a sticking point. Currently I have ZERO players in the first team squad who’ve come through the youth setup. Therefore, some of the youngsters who I was planning on sending back out on loan will have to stay and hopefully their progress won’t be stunted:
    •  Patrick Amoako Nuamah is one who I had high hopes for but he’s failed to perform in his loan spell.s
    • 17-year-old Giuseppi Finardi is an exciting young striker who scored 36 goals for the youth team last season. 
    • Andrea Filosa is another 17-year-old who the coaching staff love. He’s just signed a new contract and is a promising Central Defender, but a poor trainer.
    • The last spot will probably be taken by either striker Robert Fiori or Australian wingback Ali Taylor. 

Around the League

There’s always interesting developments which I mostly forget to keep tabs on or add into updates, and they nearly always involve the managerial merry-go-round. 

Firstly, Diego Simeone has taken over at Inter, replacing the sacked Simone Inzaghi. It’s an appointment I love and made me look forward to doing battle with him.

The second one is that Nuno Espirito Santo, who was sacked by Juventus has now taken over at rivals Hellas Verona. Whilst not a significantly high-profile manager joining a high-profile team… he was my Kryponite last season. His 4-2-2-2 caused nightmares for my 3-5-2 and 3-4-2-1 formations so I’m dearly hoping he doesn’t employ the same as Verona. 

In other managerial news, I was twice approached and twice turned down job interviews at MUCH larger clubs than Brescia. First up was Borussia Dortmund… and this was one I was very tempted by. The second offer came a week later when RB Leipzig came knocking, which was easier to turn down.

I do keep thinking about that Dortmund role though… what could have been….

Back to the attributes

You may have noticed that I’ve gone back to a skin with Attributes. After a couple of seasons using the excellent Mustermann attributeless skin, I’ve made the switch to Ben’s new Statman skin.

The reason wasn’t because I didn’t like attributeless….  in all honesty its great and will change the way everyone plays the game (for the better)… but because I’ve since signed TWENTY players whilst using it and I was desperate to know if they were any good or not and if there was any parity between their attributes and the stats and performances they produced.

Plus, it’s always nice to switch out the appearance of the game and see what new elements these excellent skin creators are adding to the game. 

Champions League Fixtures:

Sometimes Football Manager just loves to add in some beautiful narratives which make add another dimension, or three in this case, to the game.

Obviously my eyes immediately focussed on game 2 vs Man City.. and then Man United…. 

My look of horror soon transformed into a wry smile when I saw that only only would we be playing RC Lens – one of the teams we based this save upon with their 3-4-2-1, but also Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig. Both of whom I’d mentioned earlier when I turned down offers to become their new manager. 

It’s going to be an interesting one. 

Looking ahead

Can this squad, created and ran on a budget compete in the Champions League? And can we maintain our place in the upper echelons of Serie A?

Only time will tell.

Another of the issues related to a 2 month FM break was that, on the eve of the season starting I found myself on a lunchtime stroll around the block when I suddenly realised that I’ll need to give extra focus to my tactical approach. After finishing 3rd, teams in Serie A will approach our games differently. It’s highly likely they’ll start sitting back and making themselves much harder to break down, especially if our start to the season is a good one.

On the other side of the same sword, we’re facing much stronger teams in the Champions League who will come out to dominate us.

Whilst I’ll stick with the 3-5-2 as our main formation, and a 3-4-2-1 as the back-up, I’ll need to consider how we set up, particularly in midfield…

I’ll sign off with the squad for this upcoming season. 

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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