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Welcome back to my Football Manager 2020 Wolverhampton Wanderers Story.
Season 2, Episode 25
We’ve come a long way in two years. While we didn’t achieve silverware this season, progression has been made.
This season marked our first adventure in the Champions League as a club. We fought valiantly in a group that consisted of Champions League regulars Dortmund, Ajax and Celtic. We topped the group in magnificent fashion – zero dropped points.
It was at the quarter-final where we bowed out to the mighty Liverpool. But no matter, I’m proud of the boys and how well they did. They were not scared of the occasion and played with pride.
While we came 5th in the league for the 2nd time in a row, we did amass 3 more points this season. Small progress there, but progress nonetheless.
Liverpool knocked us out of two cups, while it was Manchester United for the 3rd. Teams expected to beat us so nothing we can be overly distraught about.
We have a few fresh faces in the overall best eleven squad. Bruno Fernandes, our star man the stand out pick from the newbies.
Our fans had their chance to pick their favourite player of the season and Ruben Neves just edged Fernandes to the top spot.
His overall play was a lot more controlled and assured from last season. While he scored and assisted less, he dominated the middle of the park more which allowed us to control games better.
Still only 24 years old, I expect him to continue to develop his level of consistency.
Signing of the season was of course Fernandes. A hefty sum of £51m was out laid for him by the board, and he delivered on all fronts. Eight goals and eleven assists in all competitions is not half bad for his first season. He will only get better as he continues to gel with his team-mates.
I held a meeting with the board to discuss the club culture and plans for next season and beyond. They are being very stubborn, not allowing me to make any changes.
While I’m happy overall with the plans, it’s one item that is really bugging me – the desire to “sign Portuguese players”.
Normally I wouldn’t have an issue with this, but Brexit has passed, and we now have a 17 foreign player limit.
Current foreigners at our club will be classed as home-grown, while any newcomers that sign a contract with us will take up one of those 17 slots. Not a problem for the immediate future, but definitely something to consider going forward in the years to come.
The board have been quite generous with their next season plan. Qualification for Europa Cup II (a 6th place finish) is required, while a semi-final position is also a must for the Europa League. Both doable, and it makes sure we don’t leak any complacency into the squad.
A gruelling campaign to say the least (as it always is in England if you have European fixtures to contend with also), and while some of our players did have their ups and downs I’m satisfied with what I saw.
Each table below has been sorted by appearances.
We only have two current first team goalkeepers. John Ruddy is a fine backup. He doesn’t moan about playing time, and he does a job when required.
Rui Patricio is my main man. The 95 time capped Portuguese has been fantastic so far and is a leader within the dressing room.
He did recently however, damage his hip and will be on the treatment table for 2 months. At his age, I’m not sure how damaging that could be in the long run. Will his hip continue to get injured more frequently? I’m not sure, but I don’t think I can rely on Ruddy long-term if Patricio is out again for a long time. I will have one eye on the market for a goalkeeper. It’s not essential, but if the right man turns up, I might make a bid.
Mustafi was the biggest surprise this year. I didn’t expect him to play so many games, but he was a rock at times in my defence and I’m very happy with his involvement.
Doherty continues to be seated on the treatment table. With only 11 starts and 4 substitute appearances this season, I may start looking for a replacement. He is just far too injury prone for me.
We conceded the 3rd least amount of goals this season in the league – a far cry less than last season. Improvement all round!
Fernandes and Neves were pivotal to our success this season. They dominated the midfield and kept us ticking.
Moutinho saw his game time significantly reduced. This was mainly due to the additions of Fernandes, Tonali and Horta to the team but also because of his age. He turns 35 in September and his physicals are declining rapidly.
I may seek to replace him this summer if the right player comes along. If not, the likes of Gibbs-White and Dendoncker will see more action next season.
This part of my squad was arguably the most disappointing. They had flashes of brilliance, but no consistency, unlike last season.
We’re 10th in terms of goals scored in the league this season and when you’re trying to push for 4th place, that is just not acceptable. The small amount of goals we did score was shared out between the forwards. None of my players took the forward position by the scruff of the neck and made it their own this season. Jota seemed the most likely too, but his injuries hampered him from creating any sort of consistency.
I’m not looking to replace any of them as they do have the ability, but if an offer comes in, I may consider it. The likes of Andrea Belotti are unhappy at their clubs which we could force a move.
If one were to go, it could be Jimenez. I love him as a player, but considering his age, it could be time to cash in on him.
Jota and Cutrone are young and still have a huge part to play in my time as manager.
While it’s very early days right now, there are a couple of players I have an eye on. No bids have been made as yet, but there is definite interest from me.
Florentino Luis is a sensational looking combative midfielder that looks the real deal at just 21 years old. He sits on a pitiful 5.25k p/w wage which could go in our favour if we were to show our interest properly.
Another young Portuguese that has a huge amount of potential. He could be a long term successor to Moutinho, it’s just whether Benfica will ask for too much for him.
Onana is young for a goalkeeper but already has an incredible amount of experience in front of the two sticks. He’s currently unhappy at Ajax and wants a move to a bigger club. Are we that ‘bigger club’ in his eyes?
As mentioned, it’s very early days and these clubs could be asking for far too much for their star men.
I will also be on the look out for a right wing-back to replace Doherty. His injury proneness is hampering the side and we need someone who can play week-in-week-out.
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