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 13
Well, what can I say? It’s hard to put into words what has just happened. An incredible finish to the season that landed us with a 5th place finish when it looked for certain we would finish mid-table, and a Europa League win over league rivals Arsenal that catapults us into the promised lands – The Champions League.
The players have all earned a long rest. However international duty beckons as the EURO 2020 Championship rolls round. Not all my players will be partaking, but I will be keeping a close eye on those that do.
But before dive into next season and start making bids to help strengthen our Champions League campaign hopes, I wanted to reflect on the season just gone.
We had a gruelling campaign that saw us play 6 Europa League qualifiers before anyone else in the league had played 2 games. Our players from the off had to be in peak condition, and we certainly found ourselves picking up some injuries.
Over the course of the season, our top appearance maker was Rui Patricio with an amazing 61 games played. An incredible number, and I suspect he didn’t imagine he would be playing so many games in his first season in England.
We had a lot of defenders to choose from this season – the causation? Our formation. Playing 5 at the back requires you to have more reinforments than the norm.
It’s not surprising to see our wing-backs high on the list of average ratings. Trippier was sensational during his half-season loan and he scored some very important goals – none moreso than the Europa League final opener. Would I like Trippier back next year? In a word, yes. But it’s not as easy as that. He’s on a high wage (£81k p/w) and after his performances for me, Athletico may want to utilise him next year.
Matt Doherty was a bit of a disappointment. In part to his 4 injuries this season. He just couldn’t string enough games together to gather some consistency. I don’t want to be overly harsh on him. He’s still my first choice RWB, but I do expect better next season.
A Portugese duo that I feel would do a job in almost any team in the world, and we have them here at Wolves. Moutinho and Neves are exceptional footballers, and Moutinho especially was brilliant. 7 Goals and 16 assists for the experienced man. He’s 34 in September and I imagine his decline will be sharp. We have him for another year but I suspect I will need to find a replacement this summer that we can slowly ease in to the team.
Donny van de Beek had an unremarkable first season in England. He started putting in performances towards the end but as our 2nd highest earner in the team, he needs to do more. Next season will be big for him.
Connor Ronan was a surprise. He’s not the most gifted player in the world, but when he was given the opportunity, he tended to deliver. The Irish lad is home-grown so he will definitely be kept around as a squad player.
There’s argument that our forward position is our strongest area in the squad. Jimenez at 29 in his in prime. A consistent performer and current Mexico international. He was a monster at times this season.
Diogo Jota is on the cusp of becoming world class. A perfectionist of a striker can play with either feet and has the pace (15) , determination (17), flair (17) and finishing (16) to back up what they say about him in the papers. I will be relying on him against next season.
Cutrone is an exceptional young forward that has the potential to replace Jimenez. Once he finds consistency, there may be no stopping him.
A feel a little sorry for Pedro Neto this season. He didn’t play as much as I would have liked, but the opportunities will come. He’s got great natural ability and I hope I can continue to develop him.
Club Vision – Passed
I think it’s safe to say the board are happy with my performance this year. We had specific goals to meet and we passed every one with flying colours.
The only point of concern (for the board, not me) is the lack of signing Portuguese players. They are “devastated” by this, apparently. We already have a great number of Portuguese players, and we cannot keep signing them year on year, especially with the new rules that are to be in place soon.
If it’s possible, I would like to remove this from the club culture in the future. How possible that is, I’m unsure, but I’ll try. We are an English team and we cannot hamstring ourselves by focusing too much on Portuguese talent, however good they may be. It wouldn’t be such a problem if there wern’t such strict registration rules to adhere by.
Generally speaking, we did alright on the injury front. Our biggest area of concern was our wing-backs picking up one too many knocks during the course of the season.
All of our wing-backs appear here, and it’s not too surprising as it’s the most demanding position in my tactic. They are required to track back at all times, yet attack and give the team width when we are on the counter.
Matt Doherty kept picking up slight injuries and it was hampering his ability to pick up some consistancy in his performances. He will be sad to have missed out on the Europa League final, but I expect him to play a big part in next season.
End of Season Awards
The players and staff were all awarded with a night of celebration and reflection as we hosted an awards ceremony at Molineux. Everyone was of course in a joyous mood.
It was a fairly close race to Fan’s Player of the Season as Moutinho picked up the award with 35% of the vote. A mainstay in the side that dictated how we played. His goal (7) and assist (16) contribution was nothing short of fantastic and it’s easy to see why the fans took such a liking to him this season.
I’m pleased for Chris Mepham as he picked up the Signing of the Season award. At just 22 years old, he still has time to continue to develop and I expect him to be at the heart of our defence for years to come.
Diogo Jota found himself coming up onto the stage for Young Player of the Season. Jota, as I mentioned before is on the brink of becoming world class. The only thing that scares me is his £89m release clause. A huge price, but one I wouldn’t be surprised if it was met. I hope we can keep him for as long as possible.
Squad of the Season Awards
I’m pleased to share that we dominated the Europa League squad of the season, fielding no less than 6 players in the 11 man team.
We had such an incredible European journey that culminated in us lifting the trophy at the end of it. Cutrone had a fantastic campaign as he picked up Europa League Player of the Season, with 12 appearances, 9 goals, 3 assists and an average rating of 7.85.
We have such a mammoth task ahead of us. The late surge of great results has led us into a very unexpected Champions League campaign next season.
We’re going to have to be very busy in the transfer market as the squad must be improved if we are going to have any chance at competing properly in the competition.
Area’s of Priority – Midfield
With Moutinho soon to be 34, we need to start trying to find a replacement for him. He had an increidble first season for me but age can quickly catch up to you. We need to add youth, and potentially some experience so we can fill out our depth in this area as I suspect a long, gruelling campaign ahead.
At times last season, we struggled with commanding the centre of the park as we just didn’t have much depth to replace any injuries to our best players such as Moutinho and Neves.
Since we play 5 at the back, we need enough defenders to cover any injuries to our first team players. RWB is a key area I need to address. While Doherty is a starter, he is fairly susceptible to injuries.
A equally as good RWB is needed to challenge him for the spot in the first team. Trippier did amazingly well coming in half way through the season, but he’s on big wages and will be 30 in September, so I will look for a younger alternative.
Jesus Vallejo will head back to Real Madrid this summer as we only had him on loan for the year. I may possibly delve into the market to find a CB that can rotate in and out of the side when needed.
Currently I don’t have any plans to add to the attack. We have 4 strikers in Jimenez, Jota, Cutrone and Neto who are all good enough to play week-in-week-out.
I will only look to add to the attack if we end up selling any of them due to a ridiculous offer.
Thanks for reading. The next episode I will take a look at our pre-season results and what we managed to do in the transfer market. Until next time, remember to follow me on Twitter: @ExtraTimeFM