Dafuge & Data: Season Summary 14 -Double Trouble
The great performance last season started to establish the Seadogs as more than just a flash in a pan. We weren’t relegation fodder who just happened to be enjoying a lucky season. We had become consistent, violent performers. Alongside creeping up the table, we were also setting back to back records for the worst discipline in the league. All part of the plan.
With the Euro Cup to contend with on top of everything, we needed to expand and improve the squad a little bit. We could use stats to squeeze more out of the squad, and tweak tactics, but at this stage in the year and with all this cash, it was just easier to grab Scrooge McDuck moneybags and throw them around.
If you’re on the old dial up, apologies. I’ve just dumped a ton of screenshots into this.
The transfer approach was made easier by the fact we had a lot of the building blocks in place from last season. Here’s a bit of a breakdown so you don’t have to search through the past summaries.
Our Keeper and Defence was sound. Bindelov and Blanco were giants in the middle, Zoua and Avramovic covered the right happily, and then we had Ngando on the left. We just needed a little cover for Ngando. Probably worth noting (bragging) that the entire defence, keeper included, cost just under £15m.
In midfield we had Rojas, Peltonen, Bellesteros, Morris, Edimar, Francisco and Tae-Jun.
On the wings for WTM and the Raumdeuter we had Spasov and Zarate respectively. With a few younger players like Roche, Lima and Rebagliati to compete.
We were a little light up front though. We had the promising Gustavo, and Spasov, Zarate, and Rebagliati could all fill in there. But star striker Guadaramma had really struggled to hit the back of the net last season. He managed 3 league goals in 20 appearances.
The first thing we did was raid a few clubs for cheap cover on the left. Players who would gradually flourish there. Bozic (£3.4m) and Romo (£1m) came in from Spain and both looked like they would work nicely.
We also added a slew of English talent, largely but not solely in defence. For a combined fee of £5.3m Grandison, Munro, Moon, Hogg, Birks and Leary arrived. I know FM21 is almost done but you’ve still got to plan for a hypothetical future where delete is pressed by accident instead of the big red FM22 release button in SI HQ (turns out FM22 released just fine).
In midfield we had some younger players arrive for cover and the future in Burgos, Isidoro, Pinto, Ortega. Again for the small combined outlay of £5.9m. I didn’t anticipate them playing much if at all this season.
In attack though, is where we got a little bit extravagant. First of all £14.5m was shelled out for Wagner. He’d be playing on the right and up front in the lone striker role. But he would still just be the understudy to the star attraction, record-breaking, Niclas Olsson. The most expensive player I’ve bought for about 7 versions of FM. He cost £45m with all the add ons included, and instantly broke the wage structure. But look at him (not directly as the attributes might blind you).
And then just in case we spent peanuts on Lopez and Amschler (£5.2m).
With Wagner and Olsson in. It was time to say adios to Guadarramma to PAOK for £6.5m, and fellow Mexican flop Larios to Salzburg for £10.5m. It didn’t quite balance the books but it was something. Long standing and previous record signing (and re-signing) Duggan also left for a mean £400k.
We flew out of the gate and improved on last season. With the new recruits we started to turnover some of the bigger teams. It wasn’t all one way, and the traditional top 6 still caused us issues. But instead of getting 0 or 1 point against them we were creeping up to 2 or 3. It’s all about those small gains.
We were starting to smash smaller teams as well. And I use smaller loosely. We were becoming flat track bullies, which is kind of fitting for Seagulls. They are horribly unpleasant after all. I’m sure you’ve forgotten me mentioning this, but I’ve seen a Seagull kill a pigeon in Birmingham city centre. And if Leeds were a bird they’d definitely be a scuzzy pigeon, so the imagery works for me.
Our form was steady, and we managed to get into the top four, but never really threatened for 3rd. The gap was just too big, and we had to be content with getting what was a Champions League place at the expense of Spurs and Liverpool.
We had some great performances. Olsson, striker extraordinaire, got over 30 goals in all competitions. He was the 2nd highest goalscorer, only just losing out to Chelsea’s star man. Zarate, Wagner, Edimar and Rojas all popped up with goals and assists, and Peltonen pulled a lot of strings.
Defensively, Pereira ended up with 16 clean sheets in the premier division. Blanco and Billy trained like beasts and went from strength to strength. Even with Ngando and Zoua leaving for a long period of time for the African Cup of Nations Bozic and Avramovic stepped up smoothly.
Euro Cup Summary
Our first jaunt in Europe. What a time to be a Seagull. Thankfully, we didn’t have to bother with any qualifying rounds, and went straight into the group stage.
A kind group. Feyenoord were perhaps the strongest team there. Rangers were a potential banana skin. Vojvodina Novi Sad? Well they will be by the end of this.
We breezed through. Letting all of Europe know (well, at least those watching during the week) that the Seagulls were landing. We went unbeaten in the group, and to be honest really laid into some of the teams.
I’m looking at you Rangers with the 7-1 aggregate loss. By virtue of being top of the group we skipped the 1st knockout round and went into the 2nd against Galatasaray. This was where it was going to get tough. Or at least should have started to. We beat them 6-0 over the two legs.
Next up was Aston Villa in the quarters. Now this was where it would get harder, right? They had been tough to play against in the league, had won the Euro II Cup last year, and, as any Villa fan will tell you if you talk to them for more than five minutes, Villa did win the 1982 Champions Cup bab.
A tense 1-1 away was then followed up by a tense 1-0 win at home, and we were through to the semi-final against Milan. Okay, now they should be hard to beat right?
Wrong. We won the first leg 4-0. And lost the 2nd 1-0. We were through to the final. Celtic had somehow managed to beat Liverpool in their final, so we were handed one of the kindest final’s ever.
4-1. Just like one of the scorelines against Rangers in the group stages. We’d done it. The Seagulls had a European trophy at the first time of asking. Admittedly it was the Europa Cup, but it still counts okay? Rojas and Wagner bagged a brace each to make it a very special day. Later, Bindelov won the player of the tournament, and 7 of our players made it into the squad of the season. Which is probably fair.
FA Cup Summary
We had an odd start to the FA Cup in that we played our landlords, Middlesborough. It didn’t work out for them as we won 3-1 and they in retaliation put the rent up.
Next up was Ipswich, another championship side. We needed two goes to beat them, and even then it was a bit dicey. The final 2-0 flattered us. We would have to up our game though as we had Chelsea in the 5th round. At the time they were battling Man United for the top spot in the league, and had the league’s top goalscorer. They were painfully good.
But Olsson was better. An early goal, that saw him leather it past the stranded keeper, meant we went into the quarters against… Man United. Great. They, too, had an embarrassment of riches, aside from Ole (who after a brief break was back at the wheel). But once again we were not to be denied. A 2-0 win, well against the run of play, put us into the semi-final.
And this is where we started to cruise a little bit. We had Nottingham Forest, who are mid-table make-weights at this point in the save. We hadn’t really struggled against them for some time, and it was no different here on our visit to Wembley. The 2-1 scoreline was much closer than the performance.
And who did that set the final up with? What Footballing Giant was left for us? Who was going to be our Goliath? Championship Blackburn of course. So I guess we were the Goliath, and unsettlingly they were the David. Luckily Seagulls can’t read and have no real love of biblical stories, so in the final we took an early lead and just hammered them.
On one hand that was a pretty soft final. On the other I don’t care seeing as we basically had two finals earlier on.
Well once the team have recovered from celebrating, and the Bus procession along the seafront is over, there’s a fair bit to do. The Board have decided to expand the stadium again, and given that for the few games we actually played in it we hit 99% capacity that seems fair. More sensible still if you consider we were squeezing more into our temporary home in Middlesborough.
Most of the players seem happy but a few new contracts might be sent out. Billy Bindelov has made noises about wanting to win a title. I’ve made a promise to bring some good players in. I think the squad is good, and we’ve beaten the eventual title winners one on one. With another season of stability and success together we might make it. I don’t think we need many more players though, so getting someone in on our £30m budget that improves the squad and keeps Billy happy might be hard.
Where we probably need more support or cover is on the left. Zarate has made that AML Raumdeuter position his. But when he was out Lima, Ortega and Rebagliati never really shone the way I’d hoped. I think this is where most of the £30m will go. The problem being I can’t afford the fee or wages for the ‘big’ names (though many are interested – I guess qualifying for Europe 3 times over in one season gets you some attention). I will need to get a reputable youngster in instead and hope that keeps Billy happy.
If it doesn’t then he’s got 3 years left and a release clause of £90m.
I guess the bigger issue though is do I play on at all? Well I will a little bit at least. I’m not sure what I’ll do for FM22 yet. It could be Herr Lipp riding again, it could be a visit to the lower leagues elsewhere, or I could go back to Tahiti. But I imagine any beta playing I do will just be beta rather than a main save. So I’ve got time to play on with the Seadogs.
P.S. Super Cups and Shields!
I almost forgot. We’re in the Community Shield and the European Super Cup. Much maligned competitions, glorified friendlies, but it’s still silverware. Given Scarborough have never come close to competing for either of these I think we will take them seriously.
We had title winners Man United to face. We had squeaked a win against them in FA Cup during the previous season so felt confident that maybe, just maybe, we could do it again. This confidence was dashed during the run up as they went and spent £120m on a new striker. We on the other hand spent £20m of out £36m budget on a player that wouldn’t arrive until next season. A year later.
It went well though. They beat on us for most of the game but a thunder bastard of a goal from Olsson put us in the driving seat. They pegged us back but when it came to the penalties we held our nerve. More silverware to polish.
Chelsea this time. Told you England were doing well in Europe. Similar feelings here as well. Although we had a game just 3 days before this we had beaten Chelsea before. Again on the way to the FA Cup.
However it was not to be. Again we were battered in the first half. We came flying out the blocks after half time though and scored pretty much from kick off. It was then pretty even, despite the soft headed goal from Higgins. The final goal was a little unfair but in the end Chelsea were reasonable winners.