Wandering to Titles – A Near Perfect Month (April) Episode 11

Missed the squad report in our first episode? Head over to Episode 1 “The Dawn of a New Story – Squad Report” to catch up

Welcome back to my Football Manager 2020 Wolverhampton Wanderers Story.

Season 1, Episode 11

Our season so far has been as expected. We sat 10th in the league, but with wiggle room to push a little higher. A quater final tie awaited us versus Lazio, a game I knew all the boys were eager to play a part in.

After an up and down March, I wanted to see some consistancy towards the tail end of the season.

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04/04/2020 Wolves (10th) vs Newcastle (15th)
Premier League

We started off the month by hosting Newcastle at the Molineux. We had no complications going into the match apart from an injury to Doherty that we already knew about.

A routine performance enabled us to come away with all 3 points. Cutrone started alongside Jota today and amazingly he’s now 18 league games without a goal. All 11 of his goals for us have been in Europe or the domestic cups. His confidence must be shot a little, but he did bag an assist today which we’re both happy about.

09/04/2020 Wolves vs Lazio
Europa League Quarter Final 1st Leg

Lazio headed into this game after losing to a poor Sassuolo side in their domestic league. Their confidence may be down slightly. I wanted to take advantage of this.

Augustinsson was suspended, so in comes Jonny. I expect a loud and bouncing home crowd. They need to be our 12th man!

We came away with the victory. Lazio have an away goal that can prove costly, but I’m very happy with the performance. Neves had a penalty saved on the 19th minute. It was an awful effort, but he got his head down and still produced a good performance.

Moutinho dominated the midfield. A fantastic display and we’re lucky to have him here. Sheffield United stand before our 2nd leg against Lazio.

Unfortunately, Neves and Mepham have picked up too many yellow cards and will be out for the 2nd leg and Jonny managed to break his ribs during the match and will be out for 7-8 weeks. He’ll be lucky to be back before the season is up.

12/04/2020 Sheffield United (11th) vs Wolves (9th)
Premier League

A couple of injuries sustained in training this week. Neves out for 3-6 weeks after turning sharply and rolling his ankle. A huge loss! Neves is core to the way we play and we are seriously going to miss him.

Cutrone had an accidental collision and gashed his lower leg. Out for 5 days to 2 weeks.

We’ve generated a slight bit of momentum and I intend to keep it. No time for complacency.

We came away with the 3rd 2-1 win on the bounce. A hard fought win but we’re certainly showing resilience.

Jimenez was back in with a goal. He hasn’t been the same since he sustained that ankle injury in February, but he took his goal well.

16/04/2020 Lazio (1) vs Wolves (2)
Europa League Quarter Final 2nd Leg

We all knew what away goals could do. We had to score, but we couldn’t be too gung-ho. A cautious approach was to be taken.

Our love affair with 2-1 wins continued. Our 4th in a row. We managed to score 2 away goals within 26th minutes, and the game was basically over, bar some miracle from Lazio.

A superb effort, I could not be more proud of the players. No real issues arose during the game. We don’t have much time to prepare for Crystal Palace on Sunday (3 days later), I just hope the boys still have enough left in the tank. A fantastic month so far. We’re currently on our longest win-streak of the season. Hopefully I haven’t just jinxed it.

Semi-Final Draw

Another Red Bull team stands in our way. This time, RB Leipzig from Germany. They currently sit 5th in the Bundesliga. Another tough test, but I’m confident in the boys.

We actually meet them before the month is up.

19/04/2020 Wolves (9th) vs Crystal Palace (19th)
Premier League

A return of a familiar face today – Adama Traore, after his £15m move to Selhurst Park in the summer. Let’s hope he doesn’t enjoy the occasion too much.

Conor Coady has amassed 10 yellow cards and will now watch from the stands for two League games. Perhaps a blessing in disguise as he could do with a rest.

Well, what can I say? What a performance. Jota was absolutely sensational. Undoubtedly the best individual performance of the season. Augustinsson was also incredible, notching up 3 assists. After an injury in January, Augustinsson struggled to find a bit of form. Let’s hope he has a strong end to the season.

Adama Traore of all people managed to a grab a late consolation goal just before Neto found his first league goal for us.

Although we’re still in 9th, we’re 3 points off 5th. So much can change in the next few weeks. Exciting times ahead.

24/04/2020 West Ham (10th) vs Wolves (9th)
Premier League

I intend to take the game to West Ham. They’ve recently been dumped out of the FA Cup Semi-final by Arsenal, only to then be battered again by the Gunners 4-0 prior to our match. They are certainly hurting and I intend to inflict more misery, especially since we’ve had longer to recover from our last game.

That’s 6 wins on the bounce for us. A late surge towards European qualification. Trippier was on form with 2 assists while Jimenez ran the show from his pressing-forward position. The end of the season is really hotting up for us.

It was noted by the press that Arsenal boss Unai Emery was at the London Stadium keeping tabs on our star player Jota. It would be devistating to lose such an important player. Perhaps we can tie him down to a new contract sometime in the near future?

27/04/2020 Wolves (8th) vs Man Utd (6th)
Premier League

Manchester United awaited us next. Although we were at home, a cautious approach was still to be played. Our Europa League Semi-final was only 3 days later – the selection for the United game was a real headache.

Unbeliveable. Absolutely sensational. I’m speachless. Our incredible run continues as we saw off Manchester United, 2-1.

With one eye on Leipzig that was in 3 days, I rotated my side, and we started without Moutinho, Jimenez and van de Beek. I needed these lads fit and ready for our Semi-final. Amazingly we fought United tooth-and-nail.

With 15 minutes to go, I unleashed Jimenez and Moutinho from the bench in search of a winner. Moutinho assisted Trippier’s goal and we now find ourselves on a 7 game winstreak. The morale in the camp is at an all-time high.

Jota Signs

Not too long after the historic win against United, Jota put pen to paper to seal a lucratic 4-year deal. Hopefully this will end the current transfer speculation.

His new contract does have a release clause for clubs in the Champions League – but I feel £89m is certainly a fair price for him.

30/04/2020 RP Leipzig vs Wolves
Europa League Semi Final First Leg

Our incredible European run continues today. The nerves are certainly there, but we cannot let them rest. Today is a big day for the club. A performance we owe to our fans for continuing to support us throughout this incredibly long campaign we’ve been on.

Squad wise, we are practically at full strength. Doherty see’s himself on the bench after missing the last 7 games through injury. But due to Trippier’s fine form in recent weeks, he may have started anyway had Doherty been fit.

It was for sure a game of two quite different halves. We hardly had a sniff in the first half. Leipzig were majestic and ruthless. I had to channel my inner Winston Churchill as I tried to life the mood. Heads were down, but we were not out.

A couple tactical changes, as we tried to play more on the front foot. Jimenez got us an away goal which I would have settled for, before Augustinsson fired in an absolute peach of a volly to level the score. We bring back home two away goals. A fantastic result.

Trippier pulled his ankle ligaments and will miss the 2nd leg – unfortunate for the lad. He’s been instrumental to our rich vein of form.

A Near Perfect Month

April has been nothing short of sensational. Our winstreak has seen fly up the table to a point where we’re 2 points off a Champions League spot with 3 games to go.

An obvious negative to a near perfect month is our inability to keep a clean sheet in 8 games. However, it’s not something I can dwell on. We’re in a free-flowing mode and everyone has just been fantastic.

It’s worth noting that both Manchester United and Spurs have a game in hand and could move above us if they win.

I even managed to pick up Manager of the Month, beating the likes of Unai Emery and Pep Guardiola. An award all dedicated to my players.

May The Force Be With Us

May will see the end to my first campaign with Wolves. Lots of ups, downs and inconsistancy, but we’ve finished strong and the best may be yet to come.

A tough match against Liverpool where we may need to pick up points in order for us to secure European football next season. A tough ask of anybody, let alone Wolves.

But keep in mind we have two ways of securing European football – league position and/or winning the Europa League. But Leipzig stands between us and an illustrious final.

Thanks for reading, and until next time, remember to follow me on Twitter: @ExtraTimeFM