After discussing this on Slack I’ve decided to break the posts up to around 3 per season – half season update which this will consist of followed by a youth intake special and end of season update. The word count was reaching near 2,000 words on the last piece so hopefully smaller, more regular posts will be easier digested.
So the 2nd season followed a domestic treble where the league title was decided in a winner takes all last day versus Celtic, only 4 points seperated the Old Firm but having trailled Celtic for the majority of the season I wanted this season to lead the pack.
In the summer Brendan Rodgers finally left after being linked to many top clubs, Napoli was his destination and quite a good jump. Neil Lennon returned for Celtic from Hibernian and Celtic lost some top players in Kieran Tierney to Tottenham (£18m), Odsonne Edouard to Bayern Munich and Callum McGregor to Man City (£19.5m) – I can understand the first move but the last 2, go home FM, you’re drunk!
In the summer Everton approached us for Connor Goldson – a first team player and someone who had developed a strong partnership with Nikola Katic at CB in a meagre defence but I work on the basis that every player has his price and £18m was more than double his market value and was our largest fee received ever.
Grezda never lived up to the hype so a £2.5m fee was agreed to Preston, whilst deals for those players surplus to requirements in Eduardo Herrera, Jason Holt, Joe Dodoo and Wes Foderingham for just over £1m were agreed in the summer.
Once again I trusted some clubs to take on some of our talented young players – I was pleased with Hamilton taking Mebude as felt he needed first team minutes for the next stage of his development, Hearts have taken 16 year old Dylan Munro on loan in January and have given him first team minutes which is pleasing as feel he can go far with us long term.
The big sale in January was Nikola Katic going to Borussia Monchengladbach for a club record £19m up front. I received an enquiry with Katic valued at £9.5m and to work them to double that enquiry just shows to be strong in negotiations to maximise value.
Transfer sales – £44.5m
Allan McGregor announced his retirement at the end of the 2018-2019 season and although I felt he could have carried on another season or two, it only accelerated my need for a top young keeper. My shortlist came down to Florian Muller from Mainz and the previous FM wonderkid Predrag Rajkovic.
Rajkovic wouldn’t speak to me due to a break down in contract talks, so thoughts moved to Muller and a £2.4m deal was thrashed out, terms agreed. Green lights only for him to sign a new Mainz deal on £6k per week less than I agreed with him…
Thankfully Raj was then happy to discuss terms and at £1.8m I think this is a bargain, could be our keeper for the next decade.
If you can sign this kid, he’s that good he’s made my mind up and we’ve changed to a 4-2-3-1 to suit his best role. 17 goals, 7 assists in 28 starts after a slow start is testament to how good he is. I’d normally pick out some attributes but look at well rounded he is, such a technically gifted talent – I had to agree to a £20m minimum release fee clause to get the deal over the line so will look to upgrade that deal soon.
I was concious of our need to have more Scottish talents within the first team squad to be able to meet demands in Europe and it’s always good to have a decent Scottish core. We hit the release clause of £1.7m for Lewis Ferguson from Aberdeen and I’m delighted.
He will be decent backup to Xadas but should get around 15-20 games a season and he’s such a well rounded footballer.
So in Goldson and Katic we lost 2 big centre backs but recouped £37m from their sales. We replaced them with 3 centre backs with big potentials for a combined fee of £8.2m. Uduokhai (£3.1m), Nelsson (£2.3m) and Markovic (£2.8m) – all are 22 years or under and seem fantastic deals, Nelsson probably goes as our 3rd choice CB solely due to his lack of acceleration but apart from that he looks lovely.
Transfer fees – £18.25m
Scottish Premier League
We started the season in our 4-3-3 but as I mentioned previously, Majer brilliance has meant a move to a 4-2-3-1 system. We’ve been really solid with this, possibly more attacking and less solid defensively due to one less member in the central midfield area but it’s consistently doing well for us.
A mention that Morelos record in the league this season hasn’t been fantastic, he had an injury but 9 league goals in 14 starts doesn’t seem terrible but it’s saved somewhat by 4 goals versus Dundee in January. He now has 22 goals in 30 starts by the end of January and hopefully he kicks on again.
We’re unbeaten with 18 wins from 22 matches and frankly we’re in another league to everyone else with Celtic very poor and Neil Lennon has just been sacked – Xadas and Majer are technically superior to anyone in this league and some lovely football and goals have happened with them heavily involved.
The 4-0 battering of Celtic was one of the last games of the Lennon era and they currently sit in 5th position as you can see below. Tragic effort but this effort from Xadas was anything but.. He cost £500k, mugged them.
Uefa Champions League
From the 1st qualifying round we’ve managed to negotiate past 4 opponents with the Salzburg playoff game a big win versus a solid opponent. A group consisting of Arsenal, Bayern Munich and CSKA had me happy just to take the money and look for 3rd position.
Despite his less than prolific form in front of goal in the league, Morelos was brilliant in the group stages scoring 4 goals, we went unbeaten versus Bayern Munich in both games and lost last minute goals to Lewandowski and Xhaka which cost us an additional 3 points overall but a double over CSKA was enough to finish 2nd due to away goals scored versus Bayern Munich. Our co-efficient puts us in 276th position remember!
Atletico Madrid are our opponents in the last 16 phase, they havent’t strengthened and have lost Angel Correa and Filipe Luis but they are challenging to retain La Liga having finished on a stunning 98 points last season so will be difficult.
Just the one game so far in the Scottish cup and a strong side defeated Livi 6-2, Majer showing his class with 3 goals – nothing much to add here but nice to see Ferguson getting in amongst the goals early in his Rangers career.
We won’t have a much easier route to the final going forward – Falkirk, St Johnstone and Ross County were brushed aside with relative ease despite Falkirk taking the game right to the full 90 minutes. The final was not a classic but once again we were the more positive side trying to create things without showing our quality.
118th minute and a long punt by Barisic is finished by Morelos but it’s not a classy goal but at that time of the game in such a big match I’ll take it!
I’ve made a decision to do smaller updates – with around 3 posts planned per season, a half season update covering the signings in the 2 transfer windows and the update to end of January, a youth special taking a look at our youth intake and discussing our best youth prospects and how we’re developing them and an end of season update where I can look at our best performers.