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Welcome back to my Football Manager 2020 Wolverhampton Wanderers Story.
Season 5, Episode 49
With an historic season just concluded, it’s been party central at the Wolves camp as we secured a domestic double. But things have quickly simmered down as we look to next season.
Now that the board do not require me to sign Portuguese players any more, I can feel a little more relaxed about our transfer policy. Gone are the days where trying to sign a non-Portuguese player will result in the board stepping in and saying no.
Thankfully that didn’t happen as often of late due to how well I’ve been doing as manager. They seem to respect my decisions.
Main Window Goals
The issue I have on my hands now is keeping this squad together. While we’ve won the league, as a club we are no where near the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea in regards to stature. We cannot pay the wages they pay. We do not have the global appeal they have.
This is a concern for many of my players right now, and we’ve already seen the likes of Haaland have their head turn, despite being a crowd and club favourite after just two years with us.
I’m very happy with my squad, and first squad additions I think will only be made if we HAVE to sell a player, or a player somehow becomes available who we didn’t think was possible (similar to Kimpembe last summer).
Club Captain Ruben Neves has two years left on his contract, and at 26 he’s coming into his prime. My number 1 target this month is to get him a new long-term deal. He’s arguably the best deep-lying playmaker in the world, and we’re lucky to have him.
I’m keeping my eye out for any young talent to bolster our youth teams, but it’s not easy pickings right now. Young English talent seems hard to come by. I’ve got my scouts covering all corners of the country.
NEW CONTRACT: Ruben Neves – £155k p/w
4 Years – Star Player
We start the summer off strong by handing star-man and club captain, Ruben Neves, a new contract. I couldn’t be happier with the deal. His availability to other teams has been something on my mind due to his £140m release clause, but I’ve completely scrapped that. He’s happy to stay at Wolves for the long-haul.
Neves is a midfield orchestra, and he dictates how we play. He would be near impossible to replace if he left. But we can put that towards the back of our mind now. We have him tied down for another 4 years.
SOLD: Erling Haaland (ST) £110m – Chelsea
It’s with great sadness that I have to announce that Haaland has left us for Europa League side Chelsea. I was unable to shake his release clause as he had no intention of talking about a new contract over these past few months.
Despite us having a good relationship, he had his heart set on Chelsea, or should I say, heart set on the money they’re willing to give him. I’m deeply disappointed in his decision as he would have been crucial to our title defence. Chelsea also had a £155m bid for Rodrygo accepted, but they opted to sign Haaland instead.
This sale smashes our sale transfer which stood at just £35m which was paid for Andre Horta by Dynamo Kyiv. I can’t see Haaland’s sale being beaten anytime soon.
It’s going to be a feisty affair when we next play Chelsea, that’s for sure.
BOUGHT: Pietro Pellegri (ST) £57m – Sevilla
Not long after Haaland’s departure, in comes his replacement – 22 year old Italian Striker Pietro Pellegri from Sevilla. I had two bids on the go for Haaland replacements, and the other was Davie Selke from Athletico Madrid.
But I opted to sign Pellegri. While Selke would have been cheaper, he also came with more baggage in terms of a larger contract and the fact he’s 28. Pellegri has years ahead of him and I’m excited to see what he can do. A partnership with fellow Italian, Cutrone, could really blossom.
The fact he has accepted a squad role is great as we now have four fantastic strikers (Jota, Cutrone, Goncalves and Pellegri) to all play their part this year. Pellegri was transfer listed by request and I had to act fast as PSG, Roma, Arsenal and Spurs were all sniffing around him, but I’m glad we’ve got our man. He becomes our record transfer, tipping Bruno Fernandes’ transfer which was £51m. Welcome, Pietro!
SOLD: Pedro Neto (ST) £40m – Porto
Pedro Neto spent the 2nd half of last season on loan at Porto and I was more than surprised when they came in with a bid of £40m straight up, no instalments or clauses. I almost snatched off their hand.
While Neto is a good player, he just doesn’t have that final piece to make him a starter. For the best of his career, it was best he left. I wish him luck. I’m sure he will do well back in his home country.
SOLD: Tiago Djalo (CB) £18.5m (23m) – Istanbul Basaksehir
Also with just a year left on his deal was Djalo. He hasn’t played much for me in his three years and it was best for him to leave.
While he’s great physically, mentally he just isn’t up to par with his teammates and isn’t quite cut out for the Premier League. £18.5m potentially rising to £23m is a good deal for a lad that we bought for just £5.25m. I wish him all the best.
BOUGHT: Axel Tuanzebe (CB) £22m – Manchester United
With Djalo gone and Conor Coady who left last season, we needed reinforcements at centre back to play a squad role. Young Bella-Kotchap returned this summer from his loan spell and will take his place in my squad alongside Axel.
While £22m is a lot for a squad player, it’s just how the market is these days. Add the fact he’s English, and you’ve got a fairly hefty price tag. But I’m happy with the purchase, and we now have six ball-playing centre backs to occupy 3 places in my first eleven.
Wily Boly is coming to the end of his playing days while these two have a good career ahead of them. Axel Tuanzebe’s heading is a little suspect, but apart from that he is a good all-rounder. Welcome, Axel!
BOUGHT: Degnand Wilfried Gnonto (ST) £6m – Inter Milan
I may have gone overboard with strikers but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to sign Gnonto for just a mere £6m when my scout presented his report to me.
An exceptional looking talent that has a lot of room to grow. I will be looking to loan him out for this season due to our abundance of strikers at the moment, but he’s definitely one for the future. I’m very shocked by how cheaply Inter let him go. He scored 14 goals in 30 appearances for Empoli in Serie A last season, a great return in all honestly.
It’s going to take me a while to get used this, seeing Haaland top of this list, and not for us. It’s a real kick in the teeth.
I was surprised to see Pellegri on this list ahead of our other strikers, but I think that just goes to show how we’ve got a great set of forwards that should all be able to do the business. I believe Chelsea will be a force to be reckoned with this season.
Wolves vs Arsenal
6/8/2023 FA Community Shield
Arsenal feature in the Community Shield this year despite not winning the FA Cup or League, thanks to us. But they have a shot of lifting the trophy due to getting to the FA Cup Final last season.
Arsenal haven’t strengthened much in the summer but they still have a solid squad so it will be an interesting game.
The line-ups are chosen. Lenglet, their only addition this summer, starts for them. Our new boys are either recovering from a slight injury or find themselves on the bench. I would like to ease them into the squad slowly. For our striker pairing, I’ve gone with Cutrone and Goncalves. I believe it to be their year and I really feel like Goncalves can step up in wake of Haaland’s departure.
A 4-0 thrashing see’s us lift the FA Community Shield for the first time since 1960. Despite Arsenal having the lions share of the possession, when we had the ball we used it wisely and in the end dispatched them comfortably.
Cutrone and Goncalves reaffirmed my belief that they should be the striker partnership this season. I’m glad we haven’t continued our poor form from the last few games of last season.
Transfer Window Roundup
It’s been a good summer for us even though we had to let our best player leave. Haaland decided to chase the money rather than help us in the Champions League. Chelsea do look a force this season though so only time will tell if he’s made a good decision on his part.
We haven’t spent a huge amount this season, mainly due to how happy I am with my squad. Armand Sollier joined on a free on PSG. A solid prospect who plays as a DM and he will add great value to my youth teams.
We had the biggest income value by a long way since I’ve been here and that of course is mainly due to Haaland’s sale. Bruno Jordao left on transfer deadline day. A solid squad player, but we have an abundance of central midfielders and it was time he left.
Elsewhere, lots of teams were busy, but no one more busy than Liverpool. Their finish in 7th last season saw a mass exodus of players that totalled £337m. The likes of Matip, Henderson, Kai Havertz, Wijnaldum, Lautaro Martinez, Brewster, Firmino and Naby Neita all left.
Here’s some of the biggest transfers in our league:
|Amine Gouiri||Lyon||Man Utd||£70m|
|Alessio Romagnoli||AC Milan||Man City||£66m|
With the summer window firmly shut, we can now concentrate on ourselves and building a proper title defence.
A solid pre-season of fixtures that saw us take a short trip to China for a few games ending with some tougher tests in Besiktas and Benfica. Goncalves was on fire throughout and I’m hoping for a good start to the season from him.
Young Jack Scott (20) has been promoted to the first team after three back-to-back loan spells. He played 4 times for me back in the 2019/20 season due to an injury crisis and it’s high time he made it back onto the pitch with us. He’s not the most gifted player, but he has some incredible physical’s that are sure to give opponents something to worry about.
We start the campaign with three league matches in August.
A short and sweet month that will help ease us into the new season. A tough away match to start though but Spurs have only beaten me once in my 4 years as Wolves manager.
Strangely, the bookmakers make Liverpool favourites despite them finishing 7th last season. Yes they’ve made a lot of signings, but it’s going to be a big ask for Steven Gerrard.
My money would be on Chelsea to give us the biggest push to the end. I believe in my players to give a good defence of the title. We play in one of the most (if not the most) competitive leagues in the world, so it’s going to be an exciting season ahead of us.
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