After the Surprising league win last season the arrival of the tycoon and the ditching of Rodwell, we’re back to cover what happened in season two in the red and white part of the north-east! we started the summer knowing a return to premier league football would be difficult but add to that the added pressure from the tycoon that he demanded a top half finish I knew some reshaping of the squad would be needed.
Departures first, we obviously saw the departures of Lens to Beskitas and Borini as agreed which saw the intake of £8.8M, I also managed to peddle Dijilobodji to Nice for £3.8M, and Catts to Fellow promoted side Fulham for £3.8M, the rest of the deals were loans as McManaman joined Norwich till end of the season with a permanent deal of Zero attached (he was out of contract, also farmed out on loan were Vaugahan (he’s pish), McGeday useless, and a handful of the younger lads.
Incoming wise I spent Hungarian money LOTS of Hungarian money 🙂 First through the door was Ryan Sessegnon (£5.25M) to provide cover for Oviedo at LWB but with the long-term aim of replacing him. Jack Whatmough signed from Portsmouth for £1m to provide cover at CB, Tai-Reece Chrisholm (£500k) & Stevie Mallan (£3.5M) Were signed more for the future as both look promising and my scouts say both can improve a lot over the years.
Chris Bedia was brought in from Charleroi for free again more as a depth option up front. my first Proper big signing was the arrival of Yann M’Vils from Rubin fr £7.5M he should have already been at the club last season but I intend to use him in the CMd position of my formation and as first choice. David Brooks Joined not long after for £16M the Sheffield United forward will become my first choice DLF, ill admit I saw how well he did with @Cleon81’s side and scouted him myself. his strike partner is also another new signing Fiete Arp from HSV at £14.75M I think he will be a bargain already decent attributes but will be trained and developed into the AF I need. The rest of the signings were midfielders as Orbelin Pineda from Chivas arrived for £7.5M and will go in as my main CMa, Ronaldo Vieira from Leeds for £12.25M its a lot but I see him as the long-term replacement for M’Vila. the final buy this summer was my most expensive as Nathaniel Chalobah arrived from relegated Watford for a club record fee of £25m, he will play as my DLP.
We started the season with a pretty tough run away at champions Arsenal and a home double-header with Man City & Leicester he started well as despite being under massive pressure a quick counter was finished by Khazri for a 1-0 win on the opening day back to back goals from Piroe sealed two home points. before defeat at st Marys for a 1 win in four start Brooks got us our first home win of the season netting against spurs which started a nine game unbeaten run, which included draws at Goodison [2-2], and three 0-0s against Fulham[H], Burnley[A] and Manchester Utd[H] wins over Liverpool and Bournemouth set us up nicely for the first Tyne-Wear derby at St James park, in a game where both sides had chances it was Watmore who became the derby hero as we sealed three points!.
A Poor run over the festive period as we lost 6 of the next 10 but we did managed to beat Chelsea at home 1-0 thanks to Paddy McNair heading home. The run of one point from five games left us sitting midtable as after the great start we were doing well and thankfully sitting 10th was enough for the board, four more defeats in the rest of the season saw us claim a 8th spot ahead of Man Utd the highlight of the second half of the season was the visit of Newcastle Utd to the Stadium of Light, it was a dominant performance Brooks opened the scoring but that was followed by strikes from Pineda, Watmore and Oviedo as we smashed the geordies 4-0.
This years FA Cup run wasn’t as lengthy as last years and was pretty disappointing as we struggled to a 3-0 win away at Cambridge with goals from Brooks, Embleton and Watmore seeing us through. the 4th round we met Bournemouth and despite a strike from Arp we were soundly beaten and that was the end of the FA Cup run.
The League cup was much more interesting, in the 2nd round we travelled to Sheffield to play the owls, and it was former Blade Brooks who’s strike sent us into round 3 where we took on Premiership Ipswich despite the tractor boys struggling in the league we had a tough game of it both sides had chances but in the end it went to penalties where we won thanks to Ruiter saving in sudden death. Round four saw another road trip as we headed to the midlands for a game at villa park again we faced stiff competition as villa put up a big fight going two goals ahead the introduction of Asoro and Watmore changed everything as their pace was rewarded with three goals to set up a quarter-final match up with Swansea, again we had to head on the road visiting wales putting in a disappointing attacking performance failing to break the dead lock and it went to penalties again, and again Ruiter was the hero saving the decisive kick we were in the last four along side Manchester United and Arsenal, we didn’t get the draw we wanted as we were paired with the devils a defensive performance was nearly rewarded with a goal but we failed and went to Old Trafford not expecting much but knowing an away goal could be decisive, United took the lead but Chalobah scored to level and give us the away goals lead we fell behind but a 88th minute strike from Piroe forced extra time where we shut up shop knowing a 2-2 draw would put us though and we held on for a trip to Wembley!
[Now full disclosure time, i played the final it was a very tight game but we lost 2-1 i had chances to win but we failed to deal with a corner, my plan was to upload highlights of all finals and went to do so without knowing there’s a known issue with a crash so i had to play the game again plus a few league games, now I’m of the opinion that if things like this happen I’m going to play to win]
Into the final we took on Arsenal I expected to be beaten comfortably, but it turned into a close game both sides went close but a long punt up field was ran onto by Watmore who gave us the lead, shortly after the break we conceded straight away so we went back to square one. again it was a long ball over the top and watmore profited he ran onto it and slotted past cech, we shut up shop after that and hung on for the clubs first ever League cup trophy which sealed our first venture into the Europa League.
Player stats wise i would have prefered a much higher goal scorer, as Arp was top scorer with 8, Watmore with 7, Pineda and Brooks both with 6, Watmore got as many assists as goals too as we did have quite a spread of goals and assists but id have preferred a player or two to step up Ruiter was the star of the season with a 7.20 rating he also had the third highest number of clean sheets. which is a surprise but also makes my plan to replace him in the summer a questionable one.
Around the rest of the save we saw Barcelona wrestle the La Liga title away from Back to back Real Madrid as they pipped them by 2 points. Juventus continued their dominance in Serie A Lifting the title after finishing 8 points clear of Inter for the second straight season. in France PSG won the title with 99 points, which was heartbreaking for Monaco as they finished second with 94 points when normally it would be enough for the title. in Germany it was a whitewash as Bayern finished a whopping 19 points ahead of Red Bull Leipzig who in turn finished 2 points above Dortmund.
In Europe we saw Bayern do the double as they beat Barca 4-1 in the final, the biggest surprise was seeing Spurs make the semis for the CL. in the Europa league Liverpool beat Bournemouth in the final 2-0, Bournemouth had a remarkable run as they managed to beat AC Milan, Sevilla and Ajax on their run to the final.
2018 is obviously a world cup year so we had the major showpiece prior to the season start, it was a strange one that saw hosts Russia bomb out in the group stage, Spain finished 3rd in their group with England 4th with Mexico and Algeria progressing from a group England and spain should have done better in! In the second round we saw USA beat Brazil before losing to eventual finalists France. Portugal beat Uruguay in the other Semi’s in the final it was pretty dull affair as a single goal from Daniel Carrico won Portugal the world cup.
If you want to see any of my players or anything else from my save give me a shout on @FMAcidphire21.