Wandering to Titles – Winter is Coming (December) Episode 19

If you’ve missed an episode, why not take a look at my Episode Guide. Here you will find all the episodes of this story all in one place.

Welcome back to my Football Manager 2020 Wolverhampton Wanderers Story.

Season 2, Episode 19

In stark contrast to last month, we have a plethora of fixtures for us to partake in this month.

December in English football is a minefield for injuries – something I am very keen to avoid as much as possible while continuing our efforts to climb up the table.

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Tottenham (5th) vs Wolves (7th)
2/12/2020 Premier League

Spurs were coming into this match off a 5-1 thrashing of Watford. They were sure to be in high spirits.

There were no big casualties for both teams, so we have to be at our best to get anything from this.

We started off poorly, as Winks shot from 25 yards, the ball took a huge deflection and it nestled in the far corner.

In truth, the game was not one for the highlight reel. Both teams didn’t really turn up, and Spurs seemed happy to sit on their 1-0 lead.

The 80th minute rolled round and Augustinsson fractured his ribs (now out for 3-4 weeks) from a robust challenge. We had already used all three substitutes so Andre Horta had fill-in at left wing-back. I feared the worst before Jimenez scored an absolute peach of a goal from 20 yards out to snatch the equalizer. Horror for Spurs, but delight for us.

Man Utd (2nd) vs Wolves (7th)
5/12/2020 Premier League

Three days later, we travel to Manchester to face the Red side of the city.

They go into the match without star man Thomas Lemar, while as mentioned before, we will be without Augustinsson. I’m sure young lad Ruben Vinagre can step up to the mark. He’s a lot more attacking minded than Augustinsson, but he’ll have to make sure he sticks to his defensive duties when needed.

Disaster struck as a day before the match, number 1 goalkeeper Rui Patricio picks up a virus and is out for 5-8 days. John Ruddy who is yet to play a game this season will come in to the starting line-up.

Against the run of play we were awarded a penalty. Jimenez coolly dispatched. His 4th goal in as many games.

But Man United were too much for us to handle, and they eventually found a winner through Deulofeu.

That now sends them top of the table with a game in hand over Liverpool. The title may be between them two this year.

Dortmund (2nd) vs Wolves (1st)
9/12/2020 Champions League Group G

A nothing game on paper, but it would be nice to have a perfect record in our first ever campaign in the Champions League.

A slightly rotated side will be used. We can’t throw too many inexperienced players into the fold due to the competition’s registration rules, but some fringe players will have a chance.

So for a game that meant nothing, there were two very unnecessary sending offs. We made the game much harder than it needed to be. We played on the counter and looked to pick Dortmund off as they committed men forward.

Despite Tonali’s sending off, I’m very happy with the result.

There was only one surprise in the Champions League group stages. Group D saw Napoli finish bottom while Club Brugge will drop into the Europa League and Zenit Saint Petersburg moves into the knockout stages.

Youth Intake Preview

My Personal Assistant, Amelia Parkin, emailed over a quick preview of our youth intake this morning.

I haven’t got high hopes from this quick summary.

“Don’t expect much from this youth intake”

Amelia Parkin

Disappointing to say the least, but let’s not pass too much judgement before we actually see them in action.

Wolves (8th) vs Sheffield United (20th)
12/12/2020 Premier League

We go into this one without Neves and Pablo Maffeo as they have both picked up 5 yellow cards and are suspended for 1 match.

Manchester United in the EFL Cup Quarter Final is 3 days later. We should be able to beat Sheffield United with a slightly rotated side.

We finished off the game pretty early which allowed us to slow the pace down a little.

With the rush of fixtures this month, it’s important we won’t overexert ourselves if it’s not needed. Game management is key here.

Djalo had a great game today.

The jury is out as they whether he can make it long term at Wolves, but he does have potential. He’s a fantastic athlete. His mental attributes are his main downfall, in particular, bravery, concentration and decision-making. But when he has played he’s showed his quality.

Champions League Draw

The Champions League Draw for the first knockout round is upon us. I pray all our efforts to finish 1st in the group aren’t in vain.

We drew against Valencia who are currently sitting 5th in La Liga. A good tie for us, all things considered. I’m looking forward to it.

A couple of interesting ties in there, with Man Utd vs PSG, Barcelona vs Arsenal and Athletico Madrid vs Bayern.

Wolves vs Man United
15/12/2020 EFL Cup Quarter Final

I didn’t want to sit back against them like our last outing. We need to play on the front foot, especially at home.

They have such a strong squad, but if we play to our strengths, we can come out on top.

A tough result to take on reflection. We were out and away the better side. 31 shots to their 8.

An absolute rocket of a shot from Wan-Bissaka put them ahead early on. Nothing we could do but watch as it nestle in the top corner. He won’t score a better goal in his career.

We got back into the game on 52 minutes to make it 2-1. Deserved to be honest. They were really riding their luck. Cutrone came on to make the difference, and equalized almost immediately. Unfortunately it was ruled offside. Just our luck!

Jota has not been himself since returning from injury. We need him back in the goals.

Norwich (5th) vs Wolves (7th)
20/12/2020 Premier League

Norwich have been performing well above expectations this season and find themselves 5th after 16 matches.

We have no room for complacency. They are 5th for a reason, and we will treat them as such.

Cutrone continues to justify why he’s in the first team over Jota at this time. It was a boring game in all honesty. Norwich had a couple of good chances, but we came away with the win.

We leapfrog Norwich into 6th, level on points with Spurs who are 5th.

Wolves (6th) vs Leeds (13th)
26/12/2020 Premier League

We host Leeds on Boxing Day. While I gave the players Christmas day off, I hope they stayed professional and kept themselves prepared for today’s game.

Bruno Fernandes pulled his groin a couple of days prior to the patch so Andre Horta comes in as a replacement.

A brace from Neves set us on our way to all three points. The first, a monster strike from 30 yards while the 2nd was a direct free-kick – our first of the season.

A routine win, hopefully we can do the same again in 2 days time as we play Leeds for a 2nd time in the league. Don’t ask why, as your guess is as good as mine.

Leeds (15th) vs Wolves (5th)
28/12/2020 Premier League

The same approach will be used, however different personal will take to the field.

The winter fixtures are so hectic in England, we must rotate.

A laboured performance which doesn’t surprise me. Far too many games in such a short span of time. We had a few chances, and Leeds will be the happier of the two teams.

But it is what it is and we move onto the next one.

League Standings

We’ve had a productive month, despite having so many fixtures in our calendar.

We move up to 5th, some way off 4th. Between us and Spurs, it’s very tight and one slip up could see us fall quite a bit.

It’s rare we score more than two goals a game, but we have improved our goal difference a bit since we last looked. It could be pivotal come the end of the season.

Looking Forward

The January transfer window is about to open. We have no money to splash out with, not that I had any plans anyway. I’m happy with the current squad.

The new Brexit rules are now in place. This shouldn’t affect us too much as we pay quite high wages. The Championship and below will be affected the most as they will have to rely on home-grown talent especially. Good news for the England national side, in hindsight.

A key piece of information here is;
Foreign players already at British clubs will be exempt until they change clubs“.

Although what this email doesn’t include is the fact that there is a maximum of 17 foreign players allowed in the first team squad. We currently have 16. We will have to pay close attention to the home-grown talent coming through to make sure we get the best players in. I’m sure their values are going to sky rocket.

Another jam packed month is ahead of us. At least the ‘bigger’ games are not one after the other.

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