Dafuge & Data: Season Summary 12 – Consolidate

With survival in the bag last year we were able to take all the crazy money, both general prize and TV, and potentially spend big again. Survival was all the board would be asking for again,  but with the big bucks in place I felt like we could do more. Another overhaul of the squad would be needed but we could consolidate this season.

£40 million(ish) to spend meant we could strengthen across the board. In fact so much so I’ve had to break down the intake by the different units in the game. A first for the blog considering we’ve normally had peanuts to spend, or little pulling power (that is not a first I guess).


Although Harrison had a heroic time between the sticks for us last season he is one of the players that all my coaches seem to agree on. Unfortunately they agree he is at best a Vanarama national player. Now given he’s done okay in the Premier Division I clearly need to check the coaching team for some sort of mass hysteria but the point remains, we’ve outgrown him.

First up as a replacement was Hugo Cuellar, hailing from Bolivia. He was cheap and rated as being at least Championship level. I had really struggled to find someone who would be an improvement. I always struggle with keepers but Hugo looked like an improvement.

But then an opportunity reared it’s head. Pereira was playing for the PSG B team, and was transfer listed at a cool £4m. It took some persuading and promising but we were able to bring him in. I was pretty happy with that, and Harrison dropped down into 3rd choice.


I was pretty happy with defence, and we had plenty of players who were flexible and could play across the back. I knew we needed to improve if we could be honestly couldn’t bring in the people I wanted. One target at Sporting would have cost £50m, and another, a Greek wonderkid, understandably choose Man City over us. So the players we did bring in were younger.

Balde came in on cheap (ish) from Portugal (£950k) to act as a potential option as a right back. He wouldn’t be starting any games any time soon but might rotate in.

Perhaps more promising was Desmet (free), labelled the new Phillipe Albert. Who could resist that? Again he wasn’t going to break apart the current first choice CB pairing but cup games and sub appearances might be on the cards.

Off to Wales next for the versatile Prangley. The Brexit tax was paid, and £800k went over to Spurs. I had high hopes for him but not immediately.




We did some work in the engine room. Maybe I should start with our new record signing, Rojas? An Argentinian wonderkid all the way from…Blackburn. Somehow Championship Blackburn had signed him a couple of years ago. £20m+ when considering extra’s was needed but he looked like he could play both in the MC and AMC roles. I was hoping he was going to really change things for us.

We needed a little more steel in the midfield though, especially if we were going to run with a ball winning midfielder as a partner to a more adventurous player. So we went to South Korea and brought Tae-Jun in for £4m. Not bad and a definite defensive improvement over alternatives like Annesly-Smyth and Duggan.

A final treat for the team was a player labelled the next Carlos Valderamma. Ballesteros looked like we could play him in any of the three central midfield positions and…you know Valderamma. Seriously. For £1.9m.



Some of these could technically come under midfielders I guess by the raumdeuter and wide targetman always felt like more of the attack than midfield to me.

For depth and competition on the left, in the raumdeuter role we had youngsters Lima (£1.3m) and Roche (£3.8m). One rated as the next Luis Figo, the other as the next Bale. Now I’ve not been going out my way to collect the next or dubbed as… players. But because I’ve been raiding youth teams for value I’ve amassed a few. Both have potential, clearly. And both could be shaped into a raumdeuter.

Over on the right the bigger money, all £6m of it, went on Spasov. He sounds like a Russian sawn-off shotgun. He’s Bulgarian though and would slot into the WTM spot even though he’s not the tallest.

We also had the next Batistuta in the form of youngster Rebagliati (£5m). He can play across the AML/AMR and ST positions so would offer a lot of flexibility. Connor (£3m) also offered backup (the next James!) on the right.

And then as a cheap option signed much earlier (to make Blanco feel at home) up front we had Gustavo (£4.5m). He looks amazing for his age, and over the course of the season his description changed to indicate he could be the next Quini. I’ll be honest the name only rang vague bells but a few youtube compilations later and I was sold on making him my long term first choice striker.


Players Out?

Nothing massive happened here. Blanco did gain some interest from the bigger boys, and kicked up a fuss when I refused a bid of about £36m for him. I told him they could have him if they the release clause we had. I meant it though, this was some sort of Kane-Levy gentlemen’s agreement as Blanco had a real agent with him rather than his brother. His clause is set at £76m. I’ll gladly let him go if anyone ever pays that.

Other than that Gerry O’Brien, who had been with us since league one moved off to pastures new at Sligo.

Varian Testimonial

The man, the myth, the legend (well Icon). Varian has been with us for over ten seasons so it was his time for a testimonial against the only other team he’s been registered with in his career. Stoke. Blockbuster stuff.

I’ll be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever played a testimonial in FM since they’ve been added. I’ve never cared enough and to be honest I’ve not often had players stay long enough to get one with us. But it’s Varian so I took over for the match.

A few familiar names came back like winger Peake, defenders Barclay and Wormleighton and even utility midfielder Atkinson. All major names from our earlier seasons. It was a nice touch. I didn’t even realise that it could happen.

Varian led the line and…was anonymous. I felt for him but he really confirmed why he’s not getting games. But…he is an icon. He’s there for non-footballing reasons. And I’m sure he donated the ticket income to young and disadvantages youths on the Scarborough seafront.

Tweaks and Tactics

Things went well. It wasn’t spectacular but well. I did get the feeling though like a lot of players weren’t quite clicking though. It takes some getting used to, a new team and new friends, and I imagine the trips from Scarborough to Barnsley weren’t the most inspiring for some of our more far flung transfers. So some of the deflated performances, though still good, might have been down to that. Just time would fix it.

14 games or so in and we had some nice results and were sitting just inside European places.

I did spot an issue with Rojas though. As the number 10 he was inconsistent. Occasionally making amazing runs that then ended with a blocked or wayward shot. As the MC he did the same but, just from deeper. For a player that looks so good I wasn’t a fan of these intermittent performances so I had to think about some changes. Ballesteros was getting more key passes in when playing in those two spots.

A tactical tweak was due then and the MC spot became a mezzala. This was with the hopes that with the raumdeuter pushing forward and invading space there’d be room for a mezzala to drift in behind, and in doing so help stretch the play a bit.

The AMC then become a playmaker instead, with the hope of putting through balls…well through, to the ST, AML, WTM and anyone else who felt like getting forward. But they were set to attack so when needed they too could pop forward and get involved.

These changes made a bit of a different and although we didn’t shoot up the table as a result the performances were better.


End of Season


It was a bit of an odd season. Technically we were closer to relegation than last season, with a  gap of only 5 points between us and the trapdoor (compared to 6 the season before). But we had managed 8 more points and had a much healthier points haul. This just reflects not just an improvement in our performance this season but overall a more competitive league.

I ran a full season of PPDA stats and rolling xG, and all that sort of fun stats stuff but no major revelations came from it this year. Partly this was because PPDA didn’t matter as much as my team were regrouping for most of the season rather than pressing. I needed a bit more organisation and steel so regroup got selected part way through the season. So it didn’t matter as much in terms of how aggressively we were pressing, we ended up with a reduced PPDA compared to last season simply because we told them to press less.

Next season looked like it needed a xG and xGA squeeze.

The players would be more settled, and developed so I was expecting a better performance generally, but a slightly tighter defence, and a slightly more clinical strike force was the order of the day, or season. Hardly a huge revelation but honestly as a small club in the Premier Division small improvements are all you can really aim for. Even if you are the mighty Seagulls. Consolidate and improve.

On the improvement front we also made changes to the training and youth facilities, as well as the youth level. All in preparation for our move to the New Flamingo Land Stadium next season. Debts were cleared, and a big kitty of £61m was approved for spending next year. Chips ‘n’ bits are on the club.