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Welcome back to my Football Manager 2020 Wolverhampton Wanderers Story.
Season 4, Episode 48
Season 4 is finally wrapped up, and what a season we’ve had. We won the domestic double by beating Arsenal in the FA Cup Final with a nail-biting penalty shootout, while romped to our first title since 1959 by being 13 points clear.
87 points in the league isn’t a huge tally. We still drew 9 games and lost 3, but it was the total inconsistency from the other major teams in the league that helped us secure the title so easily.
Liverpool’s defence of their title was shocking in all honesty. Their formed resulted in Jurgen Klopp, the man who secured three back-to-back titles for Liverpool, getting the sack. Steven Gerrard has replaced Klopp on a full time basis and only had 5 games left to work with. Three wins and two losses to show for his efforts, but he will be fully judged next season.
While our plan is of course to defend our title next season, I know how tough that will be. I have no doubt the teams will be better next season and we have to be ready for that.
Our best eleven is really starting to take shape. Haaland and Lima are the only new additions in the first 11, while Kimpembe makes the bench for this squad in just his first season here. He has really been outstanding in his first season, and I only expect him to get better.
Jimenez still features despite leaving us two seasons ago while I expect Andre Horta to also miss out next time as he’s arguably been the worst out of this bunch.
For the Fans’ Player of the Season, it wasn’t as clear-cut as you may have thought it would have been. Despite 32 goals for Haaland this season, club captain Ruben Neves garnered 34% of the vote. He is really a fan favourite here.
Haaland also scooped up Young Player of the Season, to no surprise. It’s a shame we may not actually see him in Wolves colours next season.
It’s odd that Jonny is included in the Team of the Season. He didn’t feature much at all and Vinagre was a much better player when he played. I hope his injuries don’t continue next season. We need him fit and ready.
I attended our annual club vision meeting this morning and the board were very relaxed about the situation. For the first time, they accepted my request to remove parts of the club culture that I did not want to be judged on.
For the first time in what will be 5 years with the club, I will not judged on signing Portuguese players. This has somewhat hamstrung my recruitment process at times in the past as the board are always wanted me to sign the very best from Portugal.
While generally I’m not opposed to this idea, it’s definitely been a thorn in my side as of late with the new Brexit rules. We cannot sign any foreign player without a contract of at least £8k p/w and we also have a foreign player limit of 17.
Now I can freely buy who I see fit and not be limited by the boards insistence of Portuguese players.
Initially they also wanted me to “make the most of set-pieces”. I removed this as while I of course want to score from set-pieces, I don’t think it’s right that I should be judged on this ‘requirement’.
Despite winning the league, it’s only required that we qualify for the Champions League next season. I’m glad the board are not being too hung-ho about things and letting this team build on our history, slowly.
Let’s look through our squad and give an overview of the season they’ve had.
Each of these tables are sorted by ‘most appearances’.
Not much to say here. Audero was outstanding and collected an incredible 38 clean sheets in 56 appearances. He’s a fantastic goalkeeper and a steal at just £10.75m. At 6’4”, his ability to take charge of his area and jump for balls well above head height as key. It’s a shame he hasn’t collected more caps for his national team. While he’s in the squad, Donnarumma of Milan is still first choice. Audero could perhaps usurp him though.
Daniel Bentley yet to play for the club, but I’m sure will feature next season. He’s been bought to replace the retiring John Ruddy.
Audero couldn’t have kept all those clean sheets if it wasn’t for these core players. The spine of our team. A back five that allows wing-backs to bomb forward. In order for us to go to the next level, we required world-class centre backs to pair with Mepham. We brought in Kimpembe or £36m and Onguene for £41.5m and I think our season showed they were worthwhile.
We ended our league season with conceding just 17 goals. The least in the competition.
Jose Lima has well and truly taken his rightful spot at right-back. Kevin Mbabu, while a good player, hasn’t set the league on fire and will surely play a back seat role in the coming seasons. At 28 he’s in his prime and I wouldn’t object if he wanted to move on for more playing time.
A number of additions were made to the midfield area of our squad this season. Kalvin Phillips, Fiezzi and Mount all joined. We are perhaps a little stacked in this area, but I felt we had way too many similar types of players so I opted to buy Fiezzi who will be used a box-to-box midfielder to play alongside a deep lying playmaker.
Not enough goals were scored from my midfielders this season. It’s an area I would quite like to address. Despite winning the domestic double, Fernandes was not as his best and I do hope he can be better next season.
Is there a future for the likes of Phillips, Longstaff and Jordao? I’m unsure, but if they don’t kick up a fuss, I’m happy for them to be in the squad.
Arguably the worst performing section of my squad bar one player. Haaland practically did all the work himself at times. Eight goals from Jota and Cutrone and 6 from Goncalves is just not good enough in my eyes. Jota scored 22 last season and was no way near that level this season.
With the inclusion of Goncalves this season, Neto went on loan and played a wider role in a Porto side.
Haaland is subject of a bid that hits his buyout clause and may be off to Chelsea next season. Extremely disappointing. Can I rely on the four strikers I currently have to mount a sizeable defence of our title? I’m unsure. At just 20 years old, Goncalves has all the attributes to be a world beater, but it may be too early for him. I’m unsure. I don’t want to stifle his progression by buying a Haaland replacement, but I may have to.
Here’s a comparison of Goncalves and Haaland. Goncalves is an exceptional looking talent, but I’m so unsure as to whether he’s ready to replace my 32 goal a season striker. Goncalves heads off to the EURO U-21 finals this summer so I will be keeping a keen eye on him to see how well he does.
Haaland’s plaudits keep coming in as it’s announced at a club celebration that he has broken the club goalscoring record for s single season with 32 goals (it was previously held by him with 27 goals last season). He also set the record for the most player of the match awards with a total of 8, beating the previous holder, Ruben Neves, who had 7 last season.
Despite Chelsea bidding a whooping £110m for Haaland, they also have bid an incredible £155m for Real Madrid’s Rodrygo. Can they honestly buy both players? For a club in the Europa League next season, they are spending big.
It will be interesting to see if they go ahead with signing both players. Regardless of what happens, we need to be on the lookout in the market.
We have £120m to spend in the transfer market. More will be available if we end up selling anyone.
A potential replacement, should we try and sign one, would be Amine Gouiri from Lyon. The exciting Frenchman who has 2 goals in 3 caps for France looks to be a real player. His physical’s are fantastic and he has the technical ability to back it up.
Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham all have interest in him, so it would be a battle to get his signature.
A bit closer to home, we have Graeme Gebbie from recently relegated Crystal Palace. No doubt they will need the money, but at this time I’m unsure how much they would want for him. While Gebbie did get relegated, playing 37 times in the process, I am very much impressed due to the fact he is only 19 years old.
There are not many 19 year olds that player week-in-week-out at centreback in the Premier League. A Scottish international already, this lad has a bright future.
The market at the moment doesn’t seem very fruitful. We’re in an odd position of being Champions of England, but not able to pay the biggest wages for the world’s stars. I’m very happy with my squad, and I cannot foresee many changes to the squad. Am I being a little naive? It’s too soon to say. But the summer transfer window is long and lots can happen very quickly so I wouldn’t rule anything out.
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