Monday, 17 August 2009

Southampton story: 2nd season: Transfers and pre-season!

Hello everyone, welcome to the second season of my Southampton story. After a great finish to the first one, ending in a play-off place, I was kind of hoping for some cash from my owners so I could get the team up to a level to compete again. Unfortunately, these were “fans of the club” which meant that they loved the club, but would not put any money into it; bummer.

Thanks very much, £28k to spend on someone who will want -£28 wages; just peachy. I could’ve put the expectations higher, but at “winner” I would have still only got £60k for transfers and £89k a week wage budget. Not too much difference, so I just put the lowest expectations, especially as my loanees would have to return to their clubs. Thankfully, I had a hunch that they would not give me much money, so I searched for players that contracts ran out on the 1st of July. Some good players were there, but I could not do anything until I let go of a fair few players. Stern John and Grzegorz Rasiak had come back on loan, and I didn’t feel I needed them, so out they went. Nathan Dyer also came back from Swansea, but I wanted to keep him as we needed a right winger, and he was good enough to stay.

As you can see, a host of names left our club, most of them released. The reason that Stern John was shipped out for free but to a club was because his contract had run out and Portsmouth offered him a good one. They have just been relegated to the Championship and they want him to spearhead their attack so they can get promoted. Have I missed a trick here? Another big name sell is Gerard, as I had brought in another centre midfielder in. Younger, better, and would be happy with being back-up for Schneiderlin and Appiah. And on a free too! Here are the signed players for season two:

Take a look at that! £0 expenditure, with some really good players joining. The midfield player I was talking about was Ferrie Bodde, a player who was unhappy at Swansea because of a disagreement with the manager. Needless to say, he did not sign a new contract, and as of June 30th, he was a free agent, and one I offered a contract to immediately. Alongside him came Cameron Jerome from Birmingham, a solid striker who will more than make up for the disappointing Egoitz Sukia (28% shots on target!). He is only 22 as well, so has his best years ahead of him. Kieran Agard and Tom Taiwo are two decent young players who were out of contract, so I signed them both up quickly. I don’t think they will become integral parts of my team, but in around 1 or 2 years, I may be able to sell them for around £1m each, easing our debt worries. Paul Huntington and Kerrea Gilbert are both decent defenders, Huntington a centre back and Gilbert a right back. I got Gilbert on a season long loan deal, but as he is transfer listed, I could possibly get him permanently next year. Not sure whether I want to though. Finally, Shane Supple is a decent young keeper, and will act as a back-up for Kelvin Davis. Anyway, let’s move on to our pre-season fixtures:

Notice anything unusual? That’s right, I have organised 7 friendlies against high-quality opposition. Why? Because it rakes in the income! I made £7.3m that month, mostly from these fixtures. The TV deals for 3 of them helped a lot, but even without them we would have made £5m. We didn’t do too well in the fixtures, but that is to be expected. The Arsenal game was a fluke, plus they put out their under 18’s. Nevertheless, I was pretty pleased as a whole; we scored a few goals against good opposition, and only had two thrashings! Squad morale is quite high as well, even though we lost almost every game. Anyway, let me bring you the ratings for the pre-season games:

Note: These ratings are not all of them as I had played loads of prospective youth players from the reserves and under 18’s. Plus, Shane Supple and Kerrea Gilbert arrived after the pre-season ended.
Some pretty good ratings there, not least Adam Lallana, collecting a fantastic 7.56 and 3 goals against top quality opposition. This was all at centre midfield as well, so maybe I can start playing him there. I am quite concerned with Cameron Jerome so far, not a single goal in 5 starts. 40% of his shots have been on target though, so it’s not all bad. There is no point doing the top scorers or assisters, seeing as there isn’t much to tell, and you can see most of it yourself anyway!
On that note, I shall leave you for now, and I shall hopefully get to post soon. Take care.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Southampton story: 1st season: Dramatic finish!

Hello everyone, hope you are well. I am finally back from my 2 week Cyprus adventure, I got back last night at about 12. It was fantastic, and I would recommend it to anyone thinking about going. I've got another flight today at 4:30 pm, this time to Sweden to visit my mum, so I shall quickly post about the end of season 1 of my Southampton story. Enjoy!

9th place. 8 games left. 5 points off of the playoff places. My Southampton team were on the verge of a comeback to beat all comebacks I have ever witnessed on Football Manager. After being 20th after 19 games, it was almost impossible for us to finish in the playoff places. But now we are just 5 points away, with 8 games to go. Let’s see how those 8 games went:

As you can see, we had made it! Ipswich were our main contenders, and after we beat them 3-1 away from home, we needed a minimum of 1 point from the Norwich game to guarantee 6th place. And after going 5-0 up, we never looked likely to lose. Unfortunately, as you will see, the comprehensive 6-3 win against Norwich had repercussions for them; relegation.

That’s right, Norwich were relegated on the last day of the season, and joins Crystal Palace and Charlton on the road to League 1. I am sorry for all 3 teams, as they were only recently in the Premier League, but ah well, 3 had to go down didn’t they. And hopefully I can take advantage of Charlton going into administration by poaching some of their better players for a cut-price fee. Anyway, back to Southampton. We did fantastically well in the last 8 games of the season (and the 15 before that as well) and thoroughly deserved a play-off place. As you can see, Reading and Cardiff got automatic promotion, with Wolves beating Swansea in the play-off final to claim the final promotion spot. As for the players, they have done brilliantly, and here are the ratings to back that up:

Some great scores there, and some not so great. Nevertheless, our best performers have really exceeded my expectations. Top scorer is Stephen Appiah, 16 goals from 47 starts. Second is Morgan Schneiderlin, getting 12 in 46 starts, and third is a three-way tie between Rudi Skacel (7 in 38), David McGoldrick (7 in 30) and Adam Lallana (7 in 21). Best assister is Skacel, with 18 assists to his name. Second place is Schneiderlin, grabbing 12 assists. Third is Stephen Appiah, with 11. Best rated player is Morgan Schneiderlin (how many times have I mentioned his name this season?!) with 7.29. Second is Franco Zuculini, getting 7.26 in 18 starts, and third place goes to Appiah, with 7.17. Top passer is Egoitz Sukia, 77% of his passes reaching their mark. Second place is a 4 way tie, between Zuculini, Schneiderlin, Marek Saganowski and Gerard, all on 76%. Third is Stephen Appiah with 73%. Anyway, let me move on to the Championship player stats, and let’s see how well Southampton did in that respect:

Not bad, but there are quite a few worrying statistics there. We have no one in the top scorer list, no one in the tackles/game section, and only 1 player in the assist column. I will try and fix this by buying a top class striker and a top class right winger in the summer, providing the board gives me a bit of money to play around with. If they don’t then I am not too fussed, as that would be because they are putting it in clearing the debts.

Anyway, that is it for this post, and indeed this season. Transfers and pre-season of season 2 will be up either in a few days if I have internet access in Sweden, or in 3 weeks when I get back from the second holiday. Check back soon and you might see it. Take care guys!