This is going to be a good update just to let you know, well certainly in terms of progression in the Champions League. I’ve been so impressed with how our team have done in this competition and how we have matched some elite football clubs with budgets that blow ours away.
In terms of transfers we did no business in January but did loan out Pascal Lafitte to West Brom and Greg Thomson to Partick Thistle until the end of the season.
In my 5 year plan I wrote in the introduction post I had hoped we could reach the quarter final stage of the Champions League in the 5th season, could we do this?
We were given a tough draw if you remember against German champions Bayern Munich, the home leg was first and we were the slightly better side and went 1-0 up after 2 minutes from Gonzalo Maroni before Thomas Muller exploited a mix up between our centre backs to finish from 22 yards.
As half time was approaching Tavernier was picked out and he does what he does and bombs up that wing and delivered a teasing ball and Javi Martinez directed it past Neuer. 2-1 Rangers! The game would end up that way, the away goal was worrying but it was a bloody win against Bayern Munich.
I knew from this that we would need to score in Munich to go through as we weren’t keeping a clean sheet, we would allow Hummels to score with a free header from a corner which is just criminal after 12 minutes.
Loanee striker Petru Pacuraru was played in behind the Bayern defence by a great killer pass from Shuaibu and then he fired the ball in to the top corner on 24 minutes, away goal advantage nulified. Half time came and we pushed the boys on and got our reward on 55 minutes when Shuaibu smashed it from around 22 yards.
Collidio would make it 2-2 in the 65th minute but a memorable night in Munich would see us in to the quarter final stage. Arsenal were drawn, they were managed by Wenger still and were 5th in the Premier League so I fancied us.
Again Ibrox was the destination for the first leg and we served up an end to end blockbuster.
Thomas Lemar scored the first after a great cut back by Shuaibu (yep, these two are unreal) and then Lemar went flying down the left as he does and his cross from the byline was met by the head of Shuaibu before Icardi made it 2-1 in the 70th minute.
Lemar then swung a delightful cross and it was a simple 5 yard tap in for Clough at the back post, Shuaibu would then make it 4-1 with a powerful finish after good play from Clough and finish the game as man of the match with 2 goals and an assist. Goal below.
Icardi would play in Lukaku who scored to make it 4-2 with a strong header.
I won’t go in to the second leg in as much detail but we lost 2-3 at the Emirates with Gonzalo Maroni and Zach Clough scoring being enough to see us through to the semi final.
Man United would be our opposition and were the better team over the two legs, they were dominant at Old Trafford and then Keita was sent off and we got the equaliser in the 91st minute through a Kimpembe header. 1-1 and we were in the driving seat with that away goal.
However despite battering them at Ibrox in the first 20 minutes, we conceded a penalty and then conceded a further goal in the first half and all of our momentum was gone as we had to score three times. We failed to score and would bow out at this stage but I’m really proud of how far the team has come.
We seemed to do this throughout the season where we would go on great runs then pick up some draws together before going back on a great run again, the 3 draws to Hearts, Aberdeen and Partick Thistle were frustrating but we then went on to win 8 games in a row.
However with getting so far in the Champions League and having a 20+ points difference to second I decided to protect some key players as much as possible and eventually it told with poor form in the split leading to Celtic beating us 1-0 and ending a staggering 83 league games unbeaten record.
We would pick up 97 points, score 90 goals and have a goal difference of +62. 5 in a row to the Rangers.
We would get over our loss to Celtic stopping a second unbeaten season in a row by beating them 1-0 in the Scottish cup final which meant we had won it in every season under my management. 5 Scottish cups in a row!
Shuaibu would pick up the ball 25 yards out, drive on and strike it in the bottom corner in the 2nd minute and we’d control the final until the final whistle. My players were done in a bit but a league and cup double alongside an incredible run to the semi finals of the Champions League made for a very good season.
We didn’t have a great youth intake but we did move for a few youngsters in Mark Hurst from Aberdeen who has some decent attributes for his age and we signed Luis Uribe from Atletico Nacional, a Colombian side. The fee was agreed at £700k and Uribe signs to fight for a first team place replacing the outgoing Tarkowski.
I could discuss so many players who had good seasons but a couple stood out. Thomas Lemar had another great season, if you haven’t managed him and can. Sign him.
Lemar had a good season becoming more of a creator with 11 goals and a stunning 31 assists, he was also out for 2 weeks on 2 occasions so could have had more, I play him as a winger on the left of our bank of 4 midfielders and when he gets going not many full backs can stop him.
John Shuaibu had an excellent debut season scoring and assisting in some very big games, 13 goals, 8 assists and an average rating of 7.44 shows a strong season and Monaco are very interested in signing him.
After those two there were a host of notable mentions such as Clough scoring 28 goals, Maroni scoring 14 times with 6 assists in his debut season. James Tavernier with 20 assists showing how valuable his attacking output from full back is, Owen Miller giving great defensive balance at left back with an average rating of 7.48 and becoming the captain at just 20 years old.
We made a £18 million profit last season due to our Champions League run accounting for a rise of £12 million in prize money which offset a slight rise in player wages, we also made profit on player sales so would probably say again we need to try and cut wages down if possible.
Currently the balance is sitting at £78 million in the bank balance which is always positive.
Previously I announced the board had finally agreed to increase the capacity by 7,000 seats for £40.5 million but they decided to increase the capacity by over 13,000 seats to create a 64,000 all seater stadium but it would cost a massive £80 million which does seem really excessive but should pay for itself.
That’s everything covered for the season 5 update, a dominant domestic campaign and excellent progress in the Champions League, what did you make of our run to the semi final? How can we improve?
Thank you for reading, it is really appreciated. If you also want to discuss anything you can ask me anything on my twitter which is below, join and speak on my slack channel “johnmcintosh-19” or in the comments section here, I’d love some interaction on this series and please RT the promoted tweet, it really helps.
Twitter – @JohnMcIntosh19