The Rangers Way: More European Heartbreak…

Credit featured image to James at @FMPressure, he’s an excellent lad in the community. Original image via @WillieVass on twitter.

I was happy with our results from the first half of the season even if performances at time were not exactly dominant but I felt we were beginning to impose ourselves more and more on games, I had went the first half of the season unbeaten in the league, won the League cup and had finished 3rd in our Champions League group so would play Rapid Vienna.

Continue reading “The Rangers Way: More European Heartbreak…”

Rangers Revolution -Tactical frustration

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Well it’s been around three weeks since the last update, life has got in the way a bit but we have finished season three as we look to claim back to back top flight titles and title number 56, we also had a first chance at europe so let’s get into it.

In terms of our transfer budget I’m starting to get annoyed with the budgets, £3 million for our first assault on europe when the team needs new additions to add depth and quality is really poor.

Transfers

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We go into season 2017/2018 with a very average budget and you can see that we didn’t receive any fees apart from for Matt Crooks to Partick for £20k and that we sent out many of our youngsters on loan to further develop.

Fraser Aird was let go on a free, the kid has no technical ability and that is a major issue for how we play the game. Rob Kiernan was also let go on a free which may be a surprise to some but Wilson and Meekings were proving to be a solid defensive partnership.

The additions from Accrington in Josh Windass and Crooks were simply not good enough, in terms of Josh I am excited about his potential irl but in game they are both not good enough, both went out on loan last season and I felt it was best to move them on.

Due to the transfer budget we had to delve into the loan market again, Oliver and Alex Pritchard were very exciting loan deals in midfield and we secured the loan services of Man Utd defender Cameron Borthwick-Jackson who provided centre back cover and could play left or right back so gave us flexibility.

Sone Aluko loan was a deadline loan signing and it was desperate, very unlike me and it proved as he was a flop – we terminated the loan early and I’ll hold my hands up here I made a mistake and he tried to cause problems within my squad threatening a mutiny after not getting enough games.

Henrik Gulden is a scandinavian left winger with 3 star potential who would provide cover for Mikkel Duelund, he has a bit of potential but may sell him on soon and we signed Andre Osmunddalen a keeper with 4.5 star potential and I had to snap him up. Yes, we’re scouting scandinavia heavily.

Roberto Barroso didn’t perform for us during our loan spell but he should have a big future, I was in a transfer war with Benfica to sign him permanently from Argentinian side Colon but the striker rejected our offer.

The other signings were all teenagers with between 4 and 5 star potential for very low fees and we are heavily involved in promoting and developing youth.

Finally and this was one I wasn’t sure about due to his age, Ezequiel Lavezzi was available on a free and at £15k p/w was too much to turn down, he has decreased in certain stats due to his age but at 33 could still give us something and would bring big experience.

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Scottish Premiership

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So we’re winners of the Ladbrokes Premiership again however Celtic gave us much more problems in Paul Lambert’s first full season in charge but to give some context they spent £19.3 million, in the same time we spent £2.3 million however they managed to recoup £13 million back.

They signed some decent talent with Sven Bender, Michael Carrick and Kalinic on permanent deals with Marcus Rashford and Joe Gomez coming in on loan however despite winning their first 9 games we were too strong in the end.

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I felt in the past I’ve droned on a bit too much here so I will just detail key results and let you see the results for yourself, the start to the season was strong and despite drawing with St Mirren we went into the first old firm game in strong form however in our first big test we were outdone, if I’m honest we created the better chances with more of the ball but Celtic were clinical.

After that we responded with an excellent streak of ten wins in a row however we weren’t getting the rewards for our play and at times just not creating enough, it took me until the last game of the season before I have settled on a new tactic, Ryan Hardie however was in great form in this period scoring 9 times.

Celtic then beat us again.. it’s getting a bit pathetic at this stage but we have no answers to them and we create virtually nothing against them, Old Firm managers are judged on success but if you can’t win these games then you won’t last long.

We again pick up from the defeat to good form smashing Aberdeen 4-1 at home, which is always nice and at this stage we are scoring freely however after the Dundee draw which was undeserved we really struggle and my attempts in switching tactics don’t work and it frustrates me.

We controlled possession in most games but our press was leaving too many gaps at the back, we lost our talisman in Ryan Hardie and were struggling to create chances with constant changes and tweaks to tactical system we just couldn’t sort it out.

As you can see we draw with Celtic two more times so never beat them in 4 attempts in the league, I’m sorry for supporters reading this.. We were lucky that Celtic also flopped at the end of the season and that our work until January was fairly solid.

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Champions League

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Scotland co-efficient is utterly dismal and a long term aim of this is to improve the rating of the league, however we faced three ties to just qualify for the group stages and we faced Red Bull Salzburg I’ve had easier ties before but we come through with back to back 2-0 wins in games we surprisingly dominate.

Mladost are a poor Montenegran side and on aggregate we win 4-0 having rested player in the second leg and we are then drawn with Partizan, a decent side but we avoid bigger sides so I’ll take it, we win 1-0 both home and away to secure group stages with an 86th minute away goal from Hardie and a home leg volley from sensation Mikkel Duelund.

After all that work, what sort of group are we handed?

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We lose the first 4 games before smashing Tottenham 4-2 at a packed Ibrox with a sensational quadruple from false nine Hardie and then are denied a famous win over Real Madrid at the Bernebaue with Gareth Bale smashing one in from 30 yards, it’s a tough first european test but we have much work to do.

League Cup

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Yes! We beat Celtic at last 4-2 on penalties in the League Cup final with Stuart Bannigan scoring the winning penalty, we got over this hoodoo we had and going forward I want to get to a dominant stage where we consistently get the better of our fierce rivals.

As you can see a very short run as always, where we struggled against Killie before want-away striker Jason Cummings scored on the break in extra time then convincing wins over Motherwell and Hibs 2-0 and 4-0 respectively secured our final slot and that’s three League Cup victories in a row.

Scottish Cup

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Again we are treble winners, this makes history as although Rangers have the most trebles at 7, no side has ever won back to back trebles.

I always thought if we beat Celtic we could win it and we were too strong in a 1-0 victory with Alex Pritchard as he controls the ball in the box excellently following a short corner before placing the shot into the top corner, again tactically we had issues but in these games getting the win is everything.

The final stats.. We battered Motherwell, trialled our new tactic and it worked big time going to a more of a 4-2-3-1 than I have previously ever employed.

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New Tactical set up

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I wanted a tactical set up that dominated teams with a strong press playing higher up compressing the play however recent tactics I was using were not creating nearly enough chances and we were stalling.

I like playing a short passing style and want my players to be expressive and give them more freedom however I don’t want them to take chances too early and wanted my defensive shape to be much stronger.

So we brought the two wing back to a flat 4 and changed the left wing back to a full back on support whilst keeping the right back role as a complete wing back as I feel that I want marauding runs from a wing back and we are stronger on the right.

The AP is very important in terms of linking play from wide men and the false nine dropping deep causes so much hassle for the opposition and often the inside forward on the left side gets a lot of chances possibly due to this.

Youth Report

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Our youth intake as usual was poor which I hope to improve after the board approved my request for better youth recruitment and I hope to get an agreement to improve our youth facilities however we signed Gavin Gray from Hamilton for £200k and he is a 4.5 star prospect, exciting future?

Ross Muirhead went on loan to Airdrie and played 20 times scoring 4 times at only 16, I like sending young guys out on loan but understand other people like to keep them, how do you develop youth?

Stephen Japp has not made the strides I had hoped for however a few of the 20s prospects from the start of the game have played quite a lot for me, if you’re good enough you’re old enough is a motto I like, in football obviously.

Ross Lyon is developing very well and made 22 starts and 6 sub appearances last season and is currently valued at £2.5 million, he gained 11 man of the match awards in that time and had an average rating of 8.29.

Robby McCrorie has made the number 1 spot his own and at just 20 years old he could be our number 1 for a long time, he has a potential of 4.5 stars and is always improving, 58 appearances and only conceded 40 goals which is good considering the batterings we got in Europe.

Ross McCrorie made 30 appearances last season with an average rating of 7.94 with 9 man of the match awards, he is a 4 star potential player and is attracting interest from the English Premiership but we want to keep hold of him.

Finally Liam Burt spent the year on loan to fellow Premiership side Dundee and made 15 appearances with an average rating of 7.07 and I have rejected loan deals for next seasons as want him to play at times for us and fulfil the potential of his 4.5 stars.

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Top Performers

It may be strange but the player with the best average rating was Ross Lyon and I won’t include him in my top 3 but the others contributed more to the season, however Ross had a fantastic season for a very young player.

Mikkel Duelund – This kid is becoming one of my favourites of this version, can play wide left, right, number 10 or in centre midfield but the ability to get past the opposition and either put in a good ball or finish is brilliant. 20 goals and 10 assists in 50 games is a a very good return from someone only 20 and developing.

Ryan Hardie – Goals, goals, goals this is what he is all about and getting 30 goals from 41 appearances is a good return and would have been more apart from an injury for a few months near the end of the season.

Alex Pritchard – We will miss Alex when he goes back to Spurs and will need to replace him with real quality, he took the right inside forward position and created 25 assists and scored 8 times in 40 starts but we can’t afford him and Spurs won’t deal with another loan for him.

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Conclusion

In conclusion it has been another good season for Rangers and the club continues to develop, another domestic treble made history however the difference in class in europe was clear despite the group being very difficult.

The first couple of seasons in europe are difficult due to the poor country co-efficient and the dismal club co-efficient meaning we will be 4th seeds for a while and the new rules for seeding make it harder but we will go again.

It was a great year financially, no longer with any debt having paid it off we were able to secure a £19 million profit, maybe we’ll get to see some of that in our transfer kitty?

Our average age continues to be the lowest in the league at 23 and we have improved our coaching and scouting team with Keke Duran replacing Frank McParland and Kirstjaan Speakman replacing Craig Mulholland – both upgrades.

Oh, as a teaser of the quality we are going for next year I have secured this genius from Atleti.. Angel Correa may be one of the biggest bargain signings we make and he will slot in the AP role but will join us in January 2019 for some reason. £2.5 million and £18k p/w is mental for him.

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Thank you all for reading and if you have any feedback or just want to discuss anything feel free to leave a comment on here or you can get me on twitter @johnmcintosh19.

Rangers Revolution – Going for 55

After winning the Scottish Championship last year by a comfortable 24 points, we were promoted to the Ladbrokes Premiership and went up as 2nd favourites to win the title, fair? I think so however our odds to win it were 10-1 showing how big favourites Celtic were to get 6 in a row, my personal aim was to win it at the first time of asking and felt we could do this if we were backed financially.

We were given £2 million however were boosted by having £40k p/w spare which was boosted to £75k p/w spare when the deadwood were released/moved on, in all honesty it isn’t a great budget and loans will need to play a part again.

Transfers

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I moved on a substantial amount of players, mostly on frees as you can see, however I managed to get £300k for Martyn Waghorn from Bolton and £1.5 million from Aston Villa. I was pleased with both deals due to better players coming in marginalising their playing time, other notable players released were Harry Forrester, Halliday for £98k to Partick Thistle and Dean Shiels.

This allowed us to be flexible in enticing players in with a better wage budget, youngsters Japp, Donaldson and Gordon came in as you may remember and go into my under 20 side. We then secured loan deals for exciting midfielder Joao Teixeira and Chelsea wide man Lucas Piazon with the former outstanding and the latter not playing much.

We still had Harry Winks for another year along with inside forward sensation Mikkel Duelund who both had agreed 2 season loan deals last season and both would go on to have big seasons for me, I secured a deal for Duelund in January and he signed for £1.9 million on a 3 and a half year contract.

Crooks and Windass were pre arranged deals from Accrington and FM doesn’t rate them highly so I sent both of them out on loan to Leyton Orient and Coventry respectively, we did however manage to sign two solid central midfielders in Yasser Kasim from Swindon and Stuart Bannigan from Partick Thistle who are rated as 4 star midfielders.

Stephen Kingsley came in for £200k from Swansea to provide cover at both left back as we lacked this and he can also play centre back so his flexibility helps along with being a young Scottish lad and our last signing was Josh Meekings from Inverness, no I didn’t sign him due to his handball v Celtic in the 2014/2015 Scottish cup semi.. he is a 4 star centre back on the game and alongside Wilson I will have a good base there.

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Scottish Premiership

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As you can see we won the league title at the first attempt with an 11 point gap between Celtic who had a torrid season and actually sacked Ronny Deila mid season and appointed Paul Lambert who massively improved them, we scored the most, conceded the least and were worthy champions.

We won the league in the game before the split and then went on to pick up 1 win in 5 games as the players seemed to go in to holiday mode and to be fair, I’ll take some blame I was using more of our 20s players and tweaking things tactically however 88 points in our first season is decent.

We started the season off in great form and won our first three games without conceding, 2-0 vs Dundee, 3-0 vs Partick Thistle and 2-0 vs Hearts was our perfect start before we dropped 2 points at home to Aberdeen in a game we probably done just enough to win.

Our next big game came against Celtic at Ibrox and we won 3-2 with the winner coming from loanee Teixeira in the 92nd minute, get in!

We then win our next 6 games to make it 8 league wins in a row and we are flying however we only keep two clean sheets in this time, slightly worrying but we move on. We then suffer back to back draws to Dundee and Hearts 0-0 and 1-1 respectively however have garnered a bit of a gap to not have to worry too much.

As I have mentioned Celtic are in meltdown at this stage and our main challengers are Aberdeen, however we beat Aberdeen 3-1 away in a big victory with both our centre backs dominant, Wilson grabs a double and Meekings scores the other.

Hardie and Teixeira then score in a 2-1 away victory over Celtic and this is getting embarrassing now for them now, our first loss of the season comes against Motherwell we lose 3-1 and I slaughter the lads at full time, which comes out in the press the next day.

We then win 6 of our next 7 games including a 4-0 win over St Johnstone, 3-1 over Ross County and 4-1 over Dundee and we are on fire, during this period Jason Holt is becoming the assist king on form and Duelund and Hardie are scoring a lot of goals, lovely.

At the end of January we dispatch Aberdeen 1-0 to end any hopes they have of challenging with Ryan Hardie scoring a 81st minute penalty in front of a delighted home support, before we batter Celtic but only manage 2 goals in a 2-0 victory Texeira scoring the goals.

We then go through an average spell where we beat Dundee United who are heading for the drop much like in real life 3-0 with Hardie getting another double before drawing 0-0 with Motherwell, beating Inverness 2-0 and Ross County 2-1.

We win the title in a poor fashion throwing away a 2 goal lead against St Johnstone to draw 2-2 but secure title 55, the press first question is about how many points we have thrown away this season, we’ve just won the league title first time of asking and stopped Celtic winning 6 in a row and they ask this?

I’m certain the players minds then go to holiday mode as we win just one time in our last 5 games after the title is secured as you can see below, with the first and only defeat in 5 games this season to Celtic which I was raging about.

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League Cup

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The board didn’t care about the League Cup however it was a chance to defend our trophy and we’re in this game to win trophies so I wanted to go as far as possible, we started in the first round and progressed past Elgin easily before almost crashing out to Livingston in a shocking game that went to penalties where we converted all 5 and Livi missed 2.

That one goal lost to Livi in extra time would turn out to be the only goal we lost in the competition as we beat Hamilton 1-0, Aberdeen 2-0 at Ibrox (Silence of the Sheep) in the quarter finals with Ryan Hardie and Danny Wilson getting the goals in a strong first half display. Both of these players repeated this in the semi final with both getting a goal as we dominated Partick at Hampden.

Inverness came out and attacked us and this allowed us to exploit them and truth be told this was a battering, 4 excellent goals scored from Ryan Hardie, James Tavernier and a double from that signing sensation Mikkel Duelund saw us run out 4-0 winners.

Scottish Cup

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Early comfortable 3-0 wins over Dumbarton and Queen of the South saw us reach the quarter final stage against fellow Premiership side Dundee and at home they caused us all sorts of problems, we took the lead from Duelund before Greg Stewart scored an incredible 25 yard effort and we hung in to get to 90 minutes. However in the away leg I tweaked a few things tactically and it worked with us running out 5-0 winners with Teixeira, Wilson, Bannigan all scoring whilst inside forward Duelund scored another double.

This lead to another big game against Aberdeen who for much of the season were our closest challengers but had fallen away during the business end of the season and we beat them 1-0 with the goal coming in the first minute from an Alex Iwobi header and this set up a Scottish cup final versus Celtic, win and we are treble winners.. we played awful but so did Celtic, so much so that there were only 15 shots in the whole game 7 to Celtic and 8 to us.

However we managed to take the lead from a Yasser Kasim with a free kick from just outside of the box which was smashed into the top corner before the treble and Scottish Cup was secured from a Ryan Hardie header from a Jason Holt cross which was headered across the box by Alex Iwobi and Hardie only had to cushion his header into an empty net. Scott Brown got his standard sending off against us on the 85th minute.

Change to tactical set up

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I wasn’t too happy with my old system as I wasn’t creating enough chances so I made some tweaks and have finally come to a system I feel works well for us, we play some beautiful football, keep the ball really well and the advanced playmaker pushed higher up means he can create a lot more, while on the right hand side the AP-S drifts further in with some nice link up play with the F9, RPM and AP-A and allows the CWB to push on and get to the byline.

I also want my full backs to be attacking however I read a blog by the impressive FM Analysis and found something I didn’t know but really should have, that where you place players tactically is where they will be positioned defensively but their roles will decide what they do/where they go in game when we have the ball – go check him out if you haven’t already – twitter – @FMAnalysis and the article is in this link below.

https://thedugoutfm.wordpress.com/2016/05/19/tactical-analysis-the-defence/.

The ball winning midfielder positioned more deep is key as I tried to have him alongisde the roaming playmaker and we left too many gaps between midfield and defence and he is winning almost every loose ball in the dm position and I had trialled the central midfielder as a deep lying playmaker but found that I missed an obvious drive so changing to a RPM really helped with that.

Youth round up

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Again our own youth intake was quite poor, so I moved for the next best in Scottish football and came across Adam Mitchell from Hibs who I felt had a good base of skills for what you want in a centre back and at just 16 felt he had some potential, he has anywhere from 3.5 start potential to 4.5 star so is one to watch.

The other signing I made was Ross Muirhead from Dumbarton, I was able to get him on a free and all I need to do is play a friendly with them so a good deal however he develops, 14 finishing, good physicals and 18 for determination are all decent for a 16 year old.

I also want to discuss what we are doing with our young talents, Stephen Japp is progressing well and has been tutored by Yasser Kasim – at 18 years old he may go out on loan next season, Jamie Barjonas is still in our 20s but has been loaned out to Championship side Ross County, his potential is between 4 and 5 stars but his stats aren’t showing that for me.

Liam Burt is currently in my first team squad and often gets on as a sub however I think a loan deal would be more beneficial, his first touch is 16, passing 11 and vision and work rate 16 so has talent with a current ability of 2 stars and potential of 3.5-4.5 stars he’s one to watch.

Ryan Hardie is obviously someone we are well aware of so I won’t delve deep with him but he’s my starting false nine and has 49 goals in two seasons, the McCrorie brothers are very highly rated so much that Robby has now dispatched Wes Foderingham as my number one keeper – a current ability of 2 stars and potential of between 4 and 5 stars.

Ross McCrorie is a fantastic young player with flexibility to play centre back or right back, he made 18 appearances this season and executed an average of 7.62 with a potential of 3.5-4.5 stars he’s another one to watch.

Finally Ross Lyon has come into my first team squad and played on several occasions due to injuries/suspensions and has always played very well, he played 8 times last season and had an average rating of 7.66, he also has 2 stars current ability with potential to grow in to between 3.5 and 4.5 stars, so the future could be bright.

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Top Performers

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James Tavernier produced an incredible season, one of the best average ratings I have ever seen on Football Manager 8.69 what a god! Along with this average rating he also produced 5 goals, 14 assists and 20 man of the match awards, at complete wing back he is fantastic and moving him back to a 4 has made sure he isn’t out of position too much.

Jason Holt averaged 7.88 scoring 5 goals and the added freedom pushing him higher up allowed him to assist 17 times and his value has soared to £3.9 million.

Mikkel Duelund scored 19 times and gained an average rating of 7.64 as he proved his worth at inside forward and repaid me for making his deal permanent.

Finally Ryan Hardie scored 24 goals and created 12 assists in 41 starts and 7 sub appearances and made himself the dominant striker, he’s only 20 years old so expect him to keep progressing however Cummings was poor and mentioned that he’s annoyed s may move him on.

Notable mentiones go to Harry Winks who was a big driving force from the middle of the park,  young Scot Ross McCrorie and Alex Iwobi.

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Conclusion

A few things to round this off are that I signed a new deal until May 2020 which I’m delighted with, we made a profit this year of £2.7 million and increased our season ticket holders to 37,500.

We had the youngest average age of any side in the top flight of 23 and although the likes of Liverpool, Tottenham and Stoke attempted to lure Robby McCrorie we held on to him rejecting £6 million bids albeit this included many future fees.

I have managed to get the board to increase how many coaches we can have from 10 to 16 so we will see some additions and also increased our junior coaching budget and improved youth recruitment so hopefully we can produce a few stars.

We go into the third season with hopes of defending our honours and we finally have a crack at europe, we will face three rounds to qualify for the group stages of the Champions league, can we do it?

Thank you all for reading and if you have any feedback or just want to discuss anything feel free to leave a comment on here or you can get me on twitter @johnmcintosh19.

Rangers Revolution -Success and failure

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So an unbeaten season at the halfway stage of our first season, could we keep this up? Well, no we couldn’t but we’ll go through that competition by competition later. In the last update we had played 23 league games and had amassed 57 points giving us a comfortable 10 point gap over surprising second placed Raith Rovers, we only had 13 games left so this would all be about continuing our good form and we had the small matter of going for a potential quadruple with a League cup final against Hearts to come, Challenge cup final versus Hibernian and a fifth round Scottish cup tie against Hibernian again.

Ladbroke Championship table

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As you can see we did continue our strong form, winning 10 games, drawing 2 and losing one time in our last 13 games to see us win the league title by 24 points and a goal difference 40 goals better than second placed Raith, dominant.

With how strong we were, I was concerned at the last 4 games only picking up 1 win in 4 games but we bounced back sort of, with wins over Alloa and Queen of the South 3-0 and 3-1 respectively with Ryan Hardie scoring a brace against Alloa and following it up with an incredible solo goal against Queen of the South.

Next up was a tough run with us again picking up just 1 win in 3 games, we beat Raith 1-0 in a big result at the top of the table through a Barrie Mckay strike and held on despite Jordan Mcghee being sent off on the 51st minute, either side of this result we drew 0-0 on both occasions to St Mirren and Hibs.

The Hibs fixture was one where we dominated the game but couldn’t find the back of the net, we had 24 shots to their 9, 9 on target to their 2, 6 half chances to their 2 and 57% of the possession so it was a really frustrating game but against St Mirren we only mustered 7 shots in 90 minutes, awful stuff.

We then won 7 games in a row which sealed the league title and in this period we just battered teams in terms of control of games and creating chances, we started this period of dominance off with a 3-0 win over Morton with Hardie and Duelund excelling and getting on the scoresheet, we make amends against Falkirk with a 2-1 win before beating Queen of the South, Raith Rovers and Dumbarton 3-0, 3-1 and 2-0 respectively – Ryan Hardie scores 4 goals in this 3 game period and is starting to make the false nine role his own.

We end the season with an incredible 6-1 away win over Livingston with Gedion Zelalem hitting a brace and both of them being screamers, Hardie and Duelund again scoring, followed by a comfortable 2-0 win over Alloa at Ibrox before it comes to the last game of the season, away to St Mirren who were in form, if we avoid defeat here an unbeaten season is complete.

As FM does best, it screws you over sometimes and this was a perfect example, we lost 2-0 to St Mirren despite going being the much better side, we had a poor start when SImon Murray broke our high line and finished well, then Danny Wilson scored a calamity own goal on 14 minutes and despite hitting 31 shots and 2 clear cut chances and 7 half chances we couldn’t reply.

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Scottish cup

When we left this on the last update we had surprisingly struggled to progress against Turrif United but over 2 legs we managed to and faced Hibernian in the fifth round tie (last 16). It is important to note that winning the Scottish cup is the only way to secure European competition for next season.

Well, what can I say we had as you can see 17 shots to their 3, 60% of the ball possession but come away with a 0-1 defeat and we’re out of the competition early with the board not happy with the Scottish cup run as they expected the semi final at least

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League cup

We faced Hearts who although finished 35, yes 35 points behind Celtic in the top flight were their nearest challengers and finished in 2nd place so the league cup final would be a decent test but I’ll be honest we’re Rangers and everything about this club demands and expects success so I went in confident.

My confidence was well placed as we ran out 2-0 winners in a relatively comfortable victory with a brace coming from Ryan Hardie in the 69th and 89th minute.

Ryan Gauld was fouled just inside the box by Zanatta and Hardie stepped up and sent the keeper the wrong way from 12 yards, the second goal however was a thing of beauty, a corner we were attacking was defended well and headed out, Waghorn picked the ball up around 30 yards from goal and spread it wide right to corner taker Duelund, who took his man on and played a delightful cross to Hardie inside 6 yard box who headed the ball back to the opposite top corner.

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Challenge cup

So as I mentioned in the past update we faced Hibernian in the final of the Challenge cup, we had little pressure as the board didn’t care but by getting to the final I knew the fans would expect another trophy so we went with our strongest team with giving Robby McCrorie a start as sweeper keeper as he does in cup competitions.

We started the game the much better team and duly took the lead on the 26th minute through Barrie Mckay, we defended a corner well and Mckay started the move on the 18 yard box, a smart through ball to Hardie who occupied the left wing he held on to the ball allowing for players to get forward, a switch to the centre of the pitch around 30 yards out and first time pass to Mckay who was on the left hand side of the box breaking the offside trap perfectly, he cut inside and finished well, 1-0!

We then lost a goal to James Keatings using his pace to cause us some damage on the 49th minute, not a great start to the second half and despite us going for the second goal we couldn’t get it however I told the boys to go for it in extra time and to keep doing what they were doing and it worked.

Mikkel Duelund pressed high and won the ball from Gunnarsson on the half way line with every Hibs players up for a free kick we had a 3 on 1 advantage could we play this right? Yes we could, Duelund played in Hardie who went 1 0n 1 with the keeper but very smartly he had the vision to see Gauld had a made a delightful run to his right and a simple 5 yard pass meant Gauld rolled it into the empty net.

Challenge cup winners at the fourth time of asking and yet the fans exuberance was kept in check within the stands, incredible stuff..

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Youth signings

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There was literally no decent prospect from our intake so I signed deals for a few between 2 and 2.5 stars potential however this was mostly due to assistant recommendation and to give the youth team more squad depth, so I went out and looked to bring in a few of the better young talents from other Scottish sides.

Stephen Japp is the best talent I signed and he joins from Hibernian at 16 years of age, my assistant feels he could become a key player for the first team if he reaches his potential and is a 4 star potential talent, with passing at 15, first touch and pace at 12 I thought it was too good to pass up on him for £30k initial fee with a further £20k over the next 12 months.

Robbie Gordon is a ball winning midfielder and signs from Livi who are renowned for a good youth system for £16k, he has tackling of 13 and positioning of 11 and while reports only put him at between a 2 and 3 star potential talent, I think this is a solid signing.

Like Robbie Gordon, Allan Donaldson is a 2-3 star potential player however some of his stats as a keeper stood out for me, 14 reflexes and 15 for rushing out which is key for a sweeper keeper and communication of 12 he seems to have a solid base.

Top performers

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In James Tavernier we had a great complete wing back on our right side, 14 assists, 10 man of the match awards and an average rating of 8.39 is simply phenomenal, I have and continue to make efforts to improve his positioning as this is something that lets him down defensively.

Our number 10 Jason Holt had a good season with an average rating of 8.06, that alone is very impressive although I would like him to get amongst the goals/assists a bit more for his role he did contribute 4 goals, 8 assists and 7 man of the match awards.

Ryan Hardie is a product of our youth system so it’s always something I like to do in promoting from within and hopefully this is something I can do more as we move on and improve within the game, he returned 25 goals in 30 starts, 7 assists and an average rating of 7.83

Our loan signing Ryan Gauld was a top signing, he gave us a bit of a creative spark and opened up games where the opposition were trying to shut games out, it’s a shame Sporting aren’t willing to sell and that we aren’t currently in a strong financial position to sign him permanently however an average rating of 8.06, 6 goals and 7 assists within 25 starts shows how valuable he has been.

Finances

We recorded a £1.94 million loss for the season, it may sound bad however we’re just in the black in terms of balance and we paid £4.17 million of the £5 million Mike Ashley loan which is incorporated into the game, by the start of the new season we will be debt free and in a positive balance due to season ticket sales which I’d hope would both increase in price and see more supporters buy season tickets.

Overview

So all in all, this was a successful first season securing three trophies although the poor efforts in the Scottish cup has cost us european football next season which will be gutting however it does allow us to focus on securing our 55th top flight league title and stop Celtic domestic dominance.

We used the loan market well due to our finances however must be smart in recruiting for a tougher league but we still retain Harry Winks and Mikkel Duelund for a further season.I was also rewarded with a contract for a further season to see how I would progress with the team in the top flight.

I hope you enjoyed reading and any feedback will be appreciated in the comments section or you can interact with me on twitter, I’m @johnmcintosh19.

 

Rangers Revolution – Unbeaten start!

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In the previous post I went through an introduction of what this series will contain, so let’s get to business. Before I get into too much detail, I will explain what our board expected of us. Promotion via winning the league title was a must and this would be our main aim to get the club back where they belong, semi final finishes were requested in both the League cup and Scottish cup and they didn’t care about the Challenge cup.

For anyone not sure, the Challenge cup is a cup competition involving all teams not in the top flight and embarrassingly it is a trophy Rangers have not won in the previous three seasons, so although the board didn’t care it was a trophy I wanted to win to put things right.

Transfers

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As I mentioned the board were only willing to give me £500k for a transfer budget and £8k p/w spare to spend on wages and with my philosophy of working with young talented players this left me with decisions to make. We were in my opinion light up front which I expect most Rangers fans irl would agree with so I brought in Jason Cummings from Hibs for a very reasonable £250k and he started the season in incredible form scoring 10 goals in 11 starts however a poor run of form from there and then a broken foot (long term injury) stalled him from having a fantastic season.

So with the finances not quite being there but wanting additional midfield talents I went for Harry Winks and Jordan Rossiter on loans from Tottenham and Liverpool respectively – the loan deal for Rossiter was essentially to replicate our signing irl however Liverpool want a ridiculous amount to sell and he became our main deep lying playmaker in defensive midfield.

Harry Winks came in to give competition in the centre midfield with him often rotating with fellow loanee Gedion Zelalem and he had a very good season. 14 passing and 13 technique attributes and a 3.5 star player with ability to reach 4.5 stars showed the use of our explotation of the loan market.

I also scouted Scandinavia due to the lucrative bargains that can be found and although my scout is awful he did find me a classy 18 year old winger Mikkel Duelund who signed on a two season loan deal, we don’t pay any fee or any wages during this time so it is basically a free player however he does have a £1.5 million release clause so something we can maybe do there. He has a 3.5 star current ability but could be a 5 star potential player and has 15 for dribbling and 14 for technique.

Ryan Gauld came in on loan as soon as I was alerted that he was available on a loan, he has been called the Scottish Messi in the past while that may be a bit far he is the most exciting Scottish talent about. Again we were able to secure his services until the end of the season without paying any fee or wages to Sporting – A current ability of 4 stars and potential to reach 5 stars potential, first touch of 14, vision and technqiue at 16 he would be perfect as my advanced playmaker.

On the last day of the window I also secured the loan services (again, yes) of former Hearts defender Jordan Mcghee until the end of the season, he was brought in for a number of reasons, cost, flexibility to play across the back line if required and would add competition at centre back for Kiernan who was making some mistakes.With heading of 12, marking 13 and positioning he was already a solid centre back for this level.

On the outgoing front, we let Nicky Law go for £40k as he wasn’t useful to us and I wanted him off the wage bill, Polish keeper Macej Gostomski left for similar reasons and the fact that young wonderkid Robby McCrorie being moved to number 2 there is no room for him and at £4k p/w I needed rid.

Tactical set up

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For the past 2 FM releases I have favoured a 2-3-2-3 tiki taka system based on Pep Guardiola’s tenure at Barcelona, it was the best football I have ever seen and was mesmerised by that great Barca side and attempting to re-create this in FM is always great to watch as the team plays beautiful football. A small admission here would be I have attempted my own systems trying to emulate however twitter handle – @Passion4FM tactic and analysis is so good that I have just copied his tactic which is available here – http://www.passion4fm.com/football-manager-barcelona-tiki-taka-tactics-emulating-pep-guardiolas-positional-play/.

We obviously play a high line and at times we have been caught out this season due to the high defensive block, it condenses play very well but long balls over the top are a slight issue with the current centre backs not being the fastest and it is something I will want to improve on long term to bring in a fast centre back to partner Danny Wilson, I think as he has been the much better performer compared to Kiernan.

We regularly get over 600 attempted passes per game, usually double the opponents with possession regularly in the mid to high 60% showing how dominant we are and usually do create 3 or more clear cut chances per game and around 16-25 shots per game while often restricting the opponents to few chances, only not successful when teams attempt to launch balls over the top to a fast striker.

Ladbrokes Championship

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As you can see we were dominant in the first half of the league season and had notched 49 goals in 23 games, conceding just 8 goals and had an unbeaten record to this point, failing to record wins on six occasions where we settled for draws. We started the season with three consecutive wins starting with a comfortable 3-1 win over St Mirren to mirror what happened irl.

Then we thrashed a poor Alloa side 5-0 with Waghorn getting a hatrick and Cummings getting on the scoresheet although we did lose the talented Barrie Mckay for four months due to a damaged achilles tendon, we followed this with a big 1-0 win over Hibs who I expected to be our closest challengers – maybe not.

Next followed a poor spell where we picked up just 1 win in 3 games, the draw to Queen of the South was a joke as we battered their goal with 25 shots but couldn’t get the second goal, a strong 2-1 win over Raith at Ibrox was vital as they were top at this stage with a double from Michael O’Halloran scoring in the 87th minute to win the game after we lost a goal after 25 seconds.

A 0-0 draw to Livingston despite us having 16-4 shots in our favour followed however we then clicked and went on to win 5 league games in a row scoring 14 times and losing just one goal with the 4-1 away win over Morton being our best display as we were starting to dominate more and controlled it with a Waghorn double,Cummings and O’Halloran with the goals.

A trip to Easter road in October resulted in a poor 0-0 draw, we had the slightly better of the game but I couldn’t complain too much, however as we do we bounced back in style with 7 league games consecutively won conceding just twice in this period and scoring 20 goals. We hit Alloa for 5 again in a solid 5-0 win and a 3-0 victory over Hibernian at Ibrox gave us the revenge we wished for with goals coming from classy inside forward Mikkel Duelund and double from Ryan Hardie who was starting to become prolific in the absence of striker Jason Cummings.

From the free flowing football the next 4 games were anything but and was our worst spell of the season, we drew 3 games out of four and the win was only a unconvincing 1-0 win over struggling Morton, Livi were becoming a bogey team despite being average and not scoring against Dumbarton was worrying to say the least despite controlling the game.

League cup

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Well, this is a stunning run isn’t it? It can’t get much better than defeating Aberdeen, Dundee United and our biggest rival Celtic in the run to the final can it..

Starting the competition against Elgin we comfortably dispatched them however we then came against our strongest league challengers Raith Rovers who we were able to defeat 3-1 thanks to goals from Cummings, Waghorn and Duelund.

The tie against Aberdeen was surely one for the neutral with Aberdeen taking an unjust lead in the 58th minute through Cammy Smith we battled away and I made tactical tweaks going overload and throwing 3 up front with a shadow striker behind and it paid off in injury time as a corner resulted in a goalmouth scramble before it went in via an Aberdeen player attempted block. We started the brighter in extra time and duly took the lead through Cummings however Cammy Smith scored again.

Not to  be outdone straight from kick off we went up the pitch and a great switch from Cummings to Billy King and the volley whistled into the back of the net, we’re on track for the win until Nial McGinn scores from the dreaded back post cross goal. We are victorious 6-5 on penalties despite missing three penalties, what a game.

We then beat Dundee United in extra time through a goal for inside forward Mikkel Duelund in the 105th minute in a deserved win before the big game against Celtic, personally I thought this was a step too far for us however we were the better team in general and the big talking point was a straight red card for Scott Brown for a disgusting lunge on Ryan Gauld, who gets up and scores a minute later with a clinical strike from 15 yards out to send us to the final and send the support wild.

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Scottish cup

We have only played one team due to the Scottish cup starting so late however this resulted in a tie versus Turrif United, aye who? Well, we couldn’t beat them at Ibrox and were about to crash out before Hardie took it upon himself to run through their whole team before smashing one into the top corner to secure a 2-2 draw, we beat them 2-0 away but not too convincing overall, we will play Hibernian in the next round.

Challenge cup

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Four wins, four clean sheets and in all honesty there isn’t much to talk about as we have done what I would have expected against this calibre of opposition, without being disrespectful. We face Hibernian in the final, let’s hope for football in general whoever wins this that the “exuberance” is kept to a minimum..

Going into Second half of season

Going into the second half of the season, my aims are to increase our lead at the top of the table, try and keep our unbeaten season going as long as possible and clinching a quadruple is a possibility this season. The only way I can get european football next season would be by winning the Scottish cup so that is an aim also but we have a long way to go in that competition.

I’m going to aim for roughly an update every week to 10 days and the updates will be split into half season and full season updates.

I hope you enjoyed reading and any feedback will be appreciated in the comments section or you can interact with me on twitter, I’m @johnmcintosh19.

 

Rangers Revolution – Introduction

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I feel that I should discuss what this series will be about, I will assume control of Rangers Football Club who in game currently play in the Scottish Championship and the second tier of Scottish football with aims of dominating our domestic game and long term challenging to win the Champions League – a trophy that has eluded Rangers in their illustrious history.

Why Rangers? I’m a big Rangers supporter, hold a season ticket and with the previous save with Parma being corrupted I felt using the winter update with my team and making this my last save until Football Manager 2017 would be a good idea.

A bit of a background

Rangers are a club with an incredible history of winning trophies, with 54 top flight league titles, 33 Scottish cups, 27 league cups and that historic European Cup Winners Cup trophy in Barcelona in 1972 as the song goes. An interesting fact is that the 54 top flight titles is the most of any club in world football and they have achieved the treble in seven seasons.

Rangers were formed in 1872 by four young lads – Moses McNeil, Peter McNeil, Peter Campbell and William McBeath and supporters to this day following the team they founded sing in recognition of those four young lads. 16 years after the formation of Rangers, our greatest rivals Celtic were founded and to this day it is ranked as one of the most passionate derbies in world football due to many factors such as religious differences with the blue half known as protestants and the green half as catholics, however the support is far more diverse now – the passion and hatred remains as strong as ever.

Bill Struth is well known as the clubs greatest ever manager and his record of 18 league titles, 10 Scottish cups and 2 league cups among many Glasgow cup wins is very impressive but it was success combined with his longevity, with his 34 year reign finally ending in 1954.

His immortal words which are now displayed in a portrait in the Ibrox trophy room, part of his speech is below..

I have been lucky— lucky in those who were around me from the boardroom to the dressing-room. In time of stress, their unstinted support, unbroken devotion to our club and calmness in adversity eased the task of making Rangers FC the premier club in this country.

To be a Ranger is to sense the sacred trust of upholding all that such a name means in this shrine of football. They must be true in their conception of what the Ibrox tradition seeks from them. No true Ranger has ever failed in the tradition set him.”

Moving on Celtic won 9 league titles in a row between 1965 and 1974 in what was a grim time for the Ibrox club, however having being runner up in the Cup Winners Cup final on two occasions in 1961 and 1967 they finally won their first and only european trophy in 1972, beating Russian side Dynamo Moscow 3-2 in the final.

Tragedy struck on 2nd January 1971 when large scale crushing occurred on a stairway exit after an Old firm game, sadly 66 supporters went to Ibrox and never returned – there is a monument outside Ibrox where supporters can pay tribute.

The 80s saw the rising of the “New Firm” comprising of Aberdeen and Dundee United and during this time they managed to split the Old Firm dominance, in fact in this period there was a three year spell where neither old firm side won the league title between 1983 and 1985 and Sir Alex Ferguson was showing what he could do in management with Aberdeen.

Between the 1988-1989 and 1996-1997 seasons Rangers were able to equal Celtic record of 9 league titles in a row, this was started off by recruiting Graeme Souness to Glasgow as a player manager. It is well known as a revolution however after a few seasons he was off to England and assistant manager Walter Smith was promoted and would go on to win 6 further titles in a row, the tenth title was a step too far however with an ageing squad

Legendary players  such as Brian Laudrup and Gazza came to Rangers in this era and many of our support have very fond memories of them two as being geniuses however one of our own Davie Cooper also has a special place in many supporters hearts.

In the 1992-1993 european campaign Rangers were within a whisker of the newly branded “Champions League final” being pipped by Marseille who would go on to beat A.C in the final and despite losing their league crown, refused entry to next seasons Champions League and being relegated to Ligue 2 due to match fixing/bribery they never had their european trophy removed. What might have been.

There was then a dutch revelation under Dick Advocaat with the initial football some of the best I have ever been lucky enough to witness, there was Alex McLeish reign with the football not the best however progression to last 16 of the Champions league was impressive and there was winning the league title in the last 3 minutes of the season when Celtic bottled it conceding two Scott McDonald goals in injury time. The Helicopter is changing direction

Paul Le Guen came with a good stature in European football however let’s just say things didn’t go to plan, Sir Walter Smith came back to steady the ship and took us on an incredible european journey in the 2007-2008 season where after 7 points from 3 games, we collapsed and fell to 3rd position and dropped to the Uefa cup as it was named at the time.

Wins in knockout rounds over Panathinaikos, Werder Bremen and Sporting Lisbon led to an incredible semi final tie against the Italians Fiorentina – with the game tied after both legs and extra time it went to penalties and Nacho Novo scored probably the most iconic penalty ever. Brace yourself Manchester, they are on their way.

Sir Walter would go on to win three league titles in a row before handing over the reign to assistant manager Ally McCoist, the less said about his managerial time the better, it was some of the worst football I have ever witnessed but after throwing away a 10 point lead while in the top flight, Rangers were rocked by news of entering administration. The reasons are quite complex and long but Rangers used EBT’s between 2001 and 2010 which were legal at the time but with the potential tax bill being high and having a dodgy owner we voluntarily entered admin.

A consortium headed by Charles Green received preferred bidder status much to the bemusement of Rangers fans, he set up a new company and bought all assets from the old company before the liquidation process started thus keeping the club formed in 1872 intact, membership in SFA was then transferred between companies with all major football governing bodies, law lords etc confirming Rangers as the same club, it hasn’t stopped rivals from claiming otherwise however.

After demotion to the bottom tier of Scottish football aka Third division there were back to back promotions including an unbeaten league season, however Rangers struggled to a 3rd place finish last season in the Championship and after losing 6-1 in the playoff final to Motherwell remain in the 2nd tier and require a overhaul with a disillusioned fan base demanding much better.

In March 2015, during an EGM the board that had been using their position of power for their and others own benefits and treated the club and support with disdain were voted out and true Rangers men took control through supporters votes and share purchases, a new exciting dawn awaits.

Stadium

Rangers play their football at the historic Ibrox stadium, it is a 50,947 all seater stadium and is iconic in that the tradition and fantastic brick work is mixed with a modern stadium. It has been the home of Rangers since 1899 and unlike other saves where I’d try and move stadium I would be looking to expand Ibrox instead of trying to force a stadium move due to the history and tradition.

Budget

A £500k transfer budget and around £8k p/w spare on the wage budget doesn’t leave me with a lot to work with however with the winter update including the January additions the squad has a decent base to start with.

Key Players

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Danny Wilson is unlike irl a commanding centre back in game and with 4 stars for ability/potential and 14 for heading and tackling and an impressive 18 for determination a very strong addition at the back, he could do a job in the top flight I’d imagine but for europe may not cut it.

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James Tavernier plays the complete wing back role on the right hand side and can be a great addition to cause problems going forward, acceleration and stamina of 15 is very good however only a 10 tackling and 7 positioning shows defensively he is not too impressive.

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Jason Holt is the other key player in my opinion with first touch and passing of 14 and technique at 15 he is excellent within my 2-3-2-3 system in the advanced playmaker role, buzzing about creating chances and spreading the play. Off the ball of 17 is incredible and composure and decisions of 15 means he makes the right decision and is calm in doing so most of the time. A major asset.

Youth prospects

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Ryan Hardie is a raw 18 year old striker however I know he can become deadly in front of goal, he has the right attributes in finishing, composure and off the ball and fits my false nine role perfectly. Excited about him.

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Ross McCrorie is a solid defender for Rangers especially at just 17, he starts in the under 20s however I promote him straight away and despite being a centre back he can also fit in at right back which is a positive with no real competition for Tavernier should a suspension or injury arise. 4.5 star potential rating and improves very quickly.

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Robby McCrorie is a strong goalkeeper and comes in as my number 2 behind Foderingham, SI have probably reduced his potential from last year where he was my keeper winning Champions leagues however he has a 4.5 star potential ability at 17 years old and has decent attributes in reflexes and handling of 13, however 7 for rushing out will need worked on if he is to play the sweeper role, due to my high defensive line.

Club Overview

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Aims for the save

  • To restore Rangers as the dominant side in Scottish football as soon as possible (Short term aim)
  • To make the use of Auchenhowie at long last and develop and bring through a conveyor belt of young British talent
  • Playing progressive, exciting football so the support can enjoy themselves
  • A basic aim for around 60% or higher possession on average per game as I like to dominate games with technical players
  • To win the Champions league within a 7 year plan and once that is achieved, to start to dominate as the best club in european football on a consistent basis (Long term
     

    I hope to have the first proper update up to the end of the January window out by the end of next week however I won’t be able to guarantee schedule times.

    I hope you enjoyed reading and any feedback will be appreciated in the comments section or you can interact with me on twitter, I’m @johnmcintosh19.

Parma Revival – Last day drama?

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So here we are and I have made a change to the format, due to only really having the league to focus on and it being a 34 game league this update will cover the full season 2, getting to business our board are requesting that we reach the playoffs in the Lega Pro A (Serie C) and we are rated as the 5th favourites for the title with the bookmakers and with odds of 33-1 we are not fancied to win the league but we are expected to challenge for the playoffs which ties in with the board request.

However I am very excited by some of the signings I have made and the team we have assembled and feel quietly confident we can certainly challenge for the title, I have been given essentially £9 million and an extra £55k p/w on wages but I have decided to keep to spending around £500k on the transfer budget for this season and have increased the wage budget by £26k p/w to £54k p/w.

Summer signings

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If we firstly take a look at the outgoing players we let most of the players go on a free due to running down of their respective contracts, the big shock may be Alessandro Lucarelli, our club captain of last season was 39 years old and wanted a wage increase from £6k p/w to £9k p/w and having looked at his contribution I felt the wages could be used better elsewhere so it was time to let him go.

The rest that we let go of on a free were due to them not being of the required standard as we progress through the leagues and none of them even featured much for me in Serie D, however losing Otello Cangini to Torino was a bitter blow he was one of our bright youth hopes if you remember from the previous post but Torino lured him before I could agree pro terms with him so we lost him for £92k compensation fee.

Now to the incoming players, goalkeeper Vid Belec came in on a free transfer and £3k p/w from Carpi and with reflexes of 14, positioning and handling of 12 he is a massive upgrade on Zompers, next I felt we needed to improve our centre back area for the step up in quality and I was able to recruit two very good centre backs for this level – in came Alex Sirri and Andrea Mei.

Mei has 15 tackling, 14 marking and 13 for pace and is a 4 star player who can be a leading player for Serie B sides, it’s always pleasing signing a player who can be a strong player in the division above as we need to keep on progressing, Sirri was a £230k buy and my scouts at the time rated him with a potental of 4.5 stars which after an injury has sadly come down to 3 stars so we’ll see how much further he can progress.

We also make purchases in left and right wing back so yes, we’ve changed the full back 4 and keepers, this was a big transitional period in any case we bring in left wing back Lorenzo Pasqualini on a free and right wing back Tommaso Cancellotti for a fee of £350k. Pasqualini is a 4 star player with key stats of 12-14 in the wing back areas he is worth the outlay, while Pasqualini is a 3.5 star wing back who improves us instantly.

Hernan Pereyra then joins us also on a free on just £1.1k p/w he gives us a better option at left wing than we currently have and is on less wages than some of our squad players, I also bring in anchor man Tommaso Morosini in on a free he is a 3.5 star player so can make the step up to Serie B if we make it and with little outlay the deal makes perfect sense.

A fellow midfielder brought in is Mattia Minesso also on a free, after a stunning season he is now worth £2.4 million and is a 4 star player with excellent technical stats such as 16 for passing and 14 for technique, we then make use of the link with Napoli and secure the loans of right inside forward Roberto Insigne and centre back Sebastiano Luperto – 4.5 star potential and 5 star potential respecitvely with the current ability to comfortably play at this level.

The rest we signed that I won’t discuss simply did not impress enough and I gather you all are bored of transfers and want to get into the action?

Serie C Cup

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Our board once again said this was not a competition they cared about and this time neither did I, I’m not saying that because we were disgraced by Reggiana but promotion to Serie B was going to be a massive task and the extra games I could do without. We won comfortably over Cuneo and then were outplayed by Reggiana who would go to push us in some games later on in the season.

Serie D

We started the league well with 6 wins out of a possible 8 however then picked up just one win in 5 games including 3 defeats, incredibly we defeated Mantova 5-1 in a thrilling display within this period, before winning 3 of the next 5 including a draw in this period the 1-0 loss coming against Giana Erminio.

We then beat Pro Sesto 2-0 to make it 2 out of 2 for the season against them, before 2 stuttering back to back draws against two sides we should have beaten in Renate and Venezia, then something magical happened I had been working on defending in training and a small tactical tweak to move the DLP (s) to a CM (s) and A (D) to a DLP (D) and we went 8 wins on the bounce including 6 clean sheets.

This excellent run of form moved us from 5 points behind Modena to 5 in front, we then had the chance to move 8 clear of Modena and despite dominating the game lost 2-1 despite taking an early lead through Walter Rodriguez, we then finished the season with a win over Bassano, awful loss to Regianna (again), a great late comeback win v Cuneo where Rodriguez again inspried us and this lead us to some last day drama.

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In a 18 team league, this allows for 34 games and this is how tight it was going in to the last day of the season, I should probably say that only one team goes up and then 2nd to 4th are involved in a playoff which is very complicated however all it would require is to equal Modena last fixture

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Much to my dismay we could only manage a draw in our last game in a 1-1 draw however battered Pordenone, thankfully Modena decided to collapse on the last day losing 2-0 to Bassano and we are champions, back to back promotions is good going so far however whilst our domination of the ball improved this year only scoring 50 (joint best in league, how?) is not something I am happy with, I’m not Louis Van Gaal.

Key players

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Tommaso Cancelotti was brilliant in replacing Claud Adjopang and helped us to the title with an average rating of 8.35, 12 man of the match awards, 2 assists and a credible pass completion rate of 82%, Walter Rodriguez probably was my player of the season and just a delight to have in my team – 7 goals, 10 assists and 7 man of the match awards, pass completion rate of 81% and with an average rating of 7.88 this proves how vital he was to us.

Credible mentions go to Daniele Melandri with 17 goals and 4 assists in 28 starts and centre midfielder Mattia Minesso with 4 goals, 6 assists and a pass completion rate of 83% which has seen his value soar to £2.4 million – not bad for a free signing after one season.

Player contracts

Good player performances and players with high potential meant we had work to do in securing some contract extensions and tied up Daniele Melandri, Gabriele Silva, youngster Nardi and also extended deal of Mattia Minesso due to a good season and him almost causing a squad mutiny, he behaved poorly but realistically could take us to next level so did enough to get him on a longer deal and improved terms.

On the opposite side there are several players I will be letting go of, reserve keeper Alioune Fall, Maikol Benassi, Dimitar Traykov, Franceso Corapi will all be let go for not being of the right standard needed, after one season Faissal El Bakhtaoui did not perform to the level I expected and midfield veteran Crocefisso Migiletta has retired from football but been a decent servant.

Youth intake

In regards to the youth intake we signed four youngsters that I feel have decent potential even with us progressing through the leagues, they were Riccardo Cipolla a wide man with incredible physicals for a 16 year old with a 4-5 star potential too, Ermes Capone a raw but talented 17 year old striker with potential of between 4 and 5 stars.

The last two exciting talents signed up were centre back Davide Tancredi with a potential of between 3.5-4.5 stars and a winger/forward Ivanno Penna with potential of 4.5 stars and flair of 17 – delightful.

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Signings for next season

A teaser for next season as we have tied up pre contracts for two players Josh Brillante from Fiorentina and Armando Vajushi from Chievo.

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Josh is a current international and will battle with Morosini in the deeper midfield role I always like to have good competition for places, he is just 24 years old a great age and has potential of 5 stars so I couldn’t really turn the deal down for him.

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Vajushi was a player recommended to me by my chief scout and with current ability of 4 stars, a first touch of 13, dribbling 14 and acceleration 14 I think he could be a valuable addition, Francesco Corapi won’t be getting a new deal due to poor performances so he will come in to replace him.

Finances

Parma Calcio 1913_ Finances Summary-2.png

Another season and another financial loss for Parma, realistically I don’t see things improving until we get back to Serie A, the added wages would have added around £1.35 million to our expenditure, add in £500k net spend on transfers and we’re not too far away from the loss but at the moment we have a healthy bank balance so I’m not too concerned.

Budget

Once again I’ve been given a healthy transfer budget of £8.7 million and a wage budget of £92k p/w (38k p/w spare) however once again I don’t want to go mad so wish to be financially prudent to get back to where Parma belong in the top flight in a healthy manner.

Aims for next season

Our board haven’t given us any expectations yet but I have heard that others have been asked to secure a mid table position in Serie B if they get back to back promotions, my aim is to get back to Serie A by season 5 so this allows for me to have a transitional season in Serie B if I need to. However if we recruit well and perform then of course we will go all out to get back to Serie A a year early. Forza Parma

I hope everyone who has read this has enjoyed this post, if you wish to discuss anything then leave a comment or you can find me on twitter @johnmcintosh19 and I’ll be happy to discuss.