The last episode focused mainly on the acquisition of Coca Cola Silkeborg, and we’ve covered their transfers – but what about Antwerp’s? We’ve lost several key players to strengthening Silkeborg which means we need reinforcements. So welcome to the following (as usual click the link for their stats)
Since a bunch of players left for Coca Cola Silkeborg (see episode 10 for a refresher), we need a big influx of players coming that are either an equivalent replacement or – ideally – better than those outgoing. Luckily our scouts have been busy and identified the following players:
Sam Morsy: Basically a like for like replacement for Nana who was sold last season. A combative midfielder with some nice stats, he’ll hopefully be the glue that holds the midfield together.
Antonio Romero: After noticing that we’re a bit light in the midfield area, I swooped to pick up Romero on a free transfer. Whilst nothing special he’ll be a good rotation option and is certainly up to the standard of Silkeborg or another club later down the line.
Renaud Emond: A decent home-grown first team option was needed as we were struggling for those, combined with a lack of depth in the attacking area meant this looks a great buy, a small fee (275k) with plenty of experience in the pro league. His goalscoring record doesn’t thrill me (22 goals in 97 Pro League games) but his stats aren’t too bad – and i’m convinced our you could stick me up front in our system and i’d get goals!
Sinan Bolat: With the sale of our main goal keeper Jezina last season and the loan of Jorgensen to Silkeborg we’re in desperate need of a good goalkeeper. Luckily Sinan Bolat fills that gap, whilst not young his stats are good and he was dirt cheap (41k). He has a good pedigree – previously playing for the Turkish international team, hopefully will be a good stop gap until we find a young goalkeeper that matches our requirements.
Lucas Macanhan: As mentioned above, depth in the goalkeeping department was needed. Macanhan was cheap and definitely not good enough to be number 1 for Antwerp, but may come in handy later down the line.
Jose Matos: With star left-back Nielsen departing for Silkeborg, that means Cuevas make that left-back spot his own. However that also leaves us light in that position, so in comes Jose Matos. Promising but not fantastic stats and a free transfer means there’s room for re-sale or a move to another Coca Cola team later on down the line.
Cristian Bunino: The young Juventus striker impressed on loan at Cercle Brugge last season, finishing behind only Ambrose in terms of goals scored. He’s young, free and has promising stats. Another no brainer.
Adrian Lapena: Bought and loaned straight to Coca Cola Silkeborg, I doubt he’ll be good enough for Antwerp, but easily a good 2nd division player for any other league most likely.
Gael Andonian: Bought mainly to provide a bit of cover for the defence, he’s also good enough to jump straight into the first team as a regular if an irresistible bid comes in for Popa or Grant over the summer (which i’m expecting after their performances last season!)
Baptiste Pesque: Bought and loaned straight to Silkeborg as a bit of cover in attack, he could hopefully be a good option. Cheap wages, no transfer fee and a few nice stats means he’s worth taking a punt on.
Ally Malle: Same as above minus the loan to Silkeborg, will slot into the U21 team to see how he progresses..
Antwerp’s Preseason: Coca Cola Antwerp carried on right where we left off last season, annihilating some decent teams in the process, namely a destruction of a strong Stoke team, and a masterclass from Dierckx against Vitesse. I have high hopes for this season!
Silkeborg’s Preseason: Didn’t go quite as well as Antwerps, although the players are still quite unfamiliar with the tactical system i’m getting them to play (discussed in Episode 9 if you haven’t read it!). Hopefully they’ll gel soon enough and start to pick up some wins.
Antwerp’s August: What a start to life in the Pro League! I was ecstatic when Hernandez scored a 93rd minute equaliser against a good Standard Liege team to earn us our first point of the season, then 3 wins out of the next 3 games puts us top of the table.
Silkeborg’s August: 2 new signings join Silkeborg –
Both were found via Antwerp’s scouting system and then purchased directly as Silkeborg. Alex adds depth to the wings and looks like he’ll most likely be a starter. Abenza joins as a rotation option. It looks as if the team is starting to gel, with Silkeborg undefeated in the league and through to the 2nd round of the cup. All in all a strong month!
Antwerp’s September: Not a terrible month but certainly could’ve been better. Nicking a last minute point away to Oostende was a good result, particularly as we didn’t deserve the win, then an unlucky loss to STVV and being put out the cup by a bad OHL side was a bit tough to take. Ah well, onwards and upwards!
Silkeborg’s September: Silkeborg continue their unbeaten run, now going 9 games unbeaten! As predicted earlier at the start of the season Mads Dohr Thychosen is far too good for this league and looks like he will be a key aspect of our promotion attempt.
Antwerp’s October: Another strong month for Antwerp, we’re still in and around the pack at the top which has really taken me by surprise. I was fully expecting a mid-table finish so this has been a bit of a shock, however it is still early in the season so i’m not going to get my hopes up just yet!
Silkeborg’s October: A strong month for Silkeborg as well, as we remain in 3rd place behind Roskilde and Velje who we play next month which could well be key in deciding our season.
Antwerp’s November: Good to see Thierry Ambrose carrying on his rich vein of form from last season. Can’t believe how good of a signing he’s turned out to be and may well form the cornerstone of our empire for years to come by either eventually firing us to Europe or being our first major sale (above £10m) which will be a game-changer for the series.
Sabala joins as good competition for Tychosen whilst Mansa joins as a potential young talent. Abenza gets a run of games in November and bags a serious amount of goals from CM which is a surprise, he may well have just made this position his own.
Antwerp’s December: 2 new signings join – Sanogo and Aka.
Both are cheap acquisitions who may well have use further down the line. We’ve continued our run of form and are now firmly rooted to the top of the table, a good 4 points ahead of Brugge. I am stunned, i’m not sure whether it’s our purchases, or if our tactic is a bit too over-powered (and slightly unrealistic i’d say), but this is crazy!
Silkeborg’s December: A quiet month before the long winter break, but we head into the winter break top of the table.
Antwerp’s January: 2 new signings join – Drlijaca and Guarino.
Both are young and possible talents for the future, definitely worth a punt for the fees. Dierckx breaks the Antwerp transfer record and leaves to join Legia Warsaw for £5.25m – an incredible fee that we’ll try to re-invest wisely. A few good friendlies over the break gave way to a couple of losses in a row that drops us down to 2nd. Still time to claim back top-spot though!
Silkeborg’s January: No games, winter break with no friendlies lined up for this month.
Antwerp’s February: A lack of consistency is letting us down a bit, smashing KV Mechelen then losing to Eupen (who are terrible and we should’ve easily beaten) before smashing title rivals Club Brugge. Annoying, but that’s football!
Silkeborg’s February: Not a great bunch of friendlies, but i’m happy with the amount of goals scored, particularly from Abenza who’s been a revelation since coming into the team. The one worry is his low release clause and reluctance to sign a new contract which may see him leave over the summer. Luckily I have faith in our scouting system to be able to replace him easily enough.
Antwerp’s March: Another few blips on our record for the season, but luckily our 2 goals against Anderlecht (from being 3-0 down) means we go into the Championship group in top-spot!
Silkeborg’s March: Another strong month leaves us firmly cemented in first place. Abenza carries on his scoring run with further goals coming from all over the pitch which is nice to see. A cup win puts us through to the semi final, so the possibility of getting European football in our first season with Silkeborg remains a possibility!
Antwerp’s April: A change of tactics (switching to the system we’re using with Silkeborg) was needed as I believe the other managers have worked out how to counter our attack minded system. We were rewarded with 3 wins out of 4 which i’m happy enough with considering the tough championship group.
Silkeborg’s April: A month of difficult games against teams around us posed no problems as we kept up our incredible run of 13 league games unbeaten. A defeat to Velje in the cup was hard to take as I genuinely thought we could go on to win the cup and qualify for Europe, but despite that we’ve achieved loads this season so i’m not too concerned.
Antwerp’s May: A bit of a mixed bag that meant our season came down to the final game, we needed to match the Club Brugge result to finish top of the league, we drew but sadly Club Brugge scored in the 81st minute to beat Anderlecht and take the title. However, by finishing second WE QUALIFY FOR THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE!
Silkeborg’s May: A disappointing month with just 5 points out of a possible 12 finished up an otherwise brilliant campaign. We smashed the league, scoring an incredible amount of goals all whilst keeping it tight at the back, with a remarkable amount of goals conceded. No real complaints!
A season beyond anything I thought was possible to be honest. I knew we had enough quality to easily stay up (based on how we’d performed both in the league and against the Pro League teams in the European playoffs), but I was not expecting to reach Europe this season and probably not next either!. Here’s hoping we can make the group stage to make some crazy money that will surely mean we can go on to do some incredible things.
Championship group table:
Alongside Antwerps fantastic season, Silkeborgs achievements shouldn’t go unnoticed with a promotion into the top division. I knew we had a lot of quality in the team from the players that we got in from Antwerp, but I wasn’t expecting to get promoted in the first season. This is potentially a bad thing as now we have 2 teams competing at essentially the same level, when ideally a team would be in a lower division allowing us to train some younger players up. However our scouting system is picking up some decent players, with such players like Alex, Tychosen and Abenza all doing well in their first seasons at Silkeborg. The future is bright for our model!
Hawbir Moustafa (loan from Antwerp): A reliable performer ever since his move at the start of the series, he kept that up with a number of good performances along with 4 assists. He’ll be making the switch to Silkeborg permanently when the transfer window opens.
Mads Dohr Tychosen (loan from Antwerp): I knew he’d rip up the division and he didn’t disappoint, racking up an impressive 18 goals and 7 assists. Should be a good fit for the Superliga, so will be joining permanently when the transfer window opens.
Peter Jul Nielsen (loan from Antwerp): Not as effective as his 17 assists for Antwerp last season, but still a good season, being one of the 12 players to have an average rating above 7.
Vincent Pires (loan from Antwerp): A rock in the heart of midfield. Sort of a bit gutted I never gave him a chance for Antwerp as he bossed it for Silkeborg and would’ve been good in the Pro League B. Still, he’s been so effective for Silkeborg that he’ll be moving here permanently in the summer.
Younes Teghmas (loan from Antwerp): Didn’t really get much game-time due to the form of the other centre-mids. He’ll be joining permanently at the end of the season, although I now think he should be sold. I’ll offer him around in January and see if anyone bids.
Frederik Bay (loan from Antwerp): Got a decent amount of games and did well. Will also be joining permanently at the end of the season.
Justin Mathieu (loan from Antwerp): A class signing, played almost every single game. Chipped in with some great performances. Will also be joining permanently at the end of the season.
Nicolaj Jorgensen (loan from Antwerp): A solid season with plenty of clean sheets kept. Trying to get him to move over permanently but he’s not having it yet..
Mikolaj Kwietniewski (loan from Antwerp): Didn’t really play. Will most likely be released over the summer.
Baptiste Pesque (loan from Antwerp): Didn’t really get as much game-time as
Alex: What a buy! His value has doubled after a great season and looks fantastically suited to the Superliga. Will imagine he’ll be the first £1m+ sale from our Silkeborg team
Mario Abenza: A great acquisition who chipped in with plenty of important goals (an incredible 11 from centre-mid!) for us over the season. Sadly though his release clause has been met and he’ll be off over the summer to play in the Portuguese Premier League for Maritimo. The one saving grace is that he’s being sold for £275k, a huge profit from the £55k we bought him for at the start of the season.
Valerijis Sabala: Looked a great buy when we nabbed him on a free and did well whenever requested. Looks a great acquisition.
Adrian Lapena (loan from Antwerp): Was initially brought over as backup but was so solid he ended up starting most games. Even chipped in with a couple of goals! Should hopefully join permanently at the end of the season.
Sam Morsy: A great signing, he was signed as a replacement for Nana who did so well in his few games for us last season and Morsy stepped up to the plate. A very impressive debut season.
Antonio Romero: Played a fair few games but wasn’t overly impressive. We’ll be hopefully be bringing plenty of quality in over the summer which will leave no room for him. He’ll be joining Silkeborg for a small fee (and a 50% sell on fee)
Renaud Emond: Robbed Standard Liege here, hadn’t scored more than 6 goals in a season for a fair few years but took a gamble on him and it paid off with a decent 10 goals along with 6 assists. Worth the small outlay.
Sinan Bolat: Another good signing, ending with a call-up back to the Turkish national team. Solid throughout.
Lucas Macanhan: Only played the once (with a clean-sheet!) due to the form of Bolat. Might be moving to Silkeborg next season.
Jose Matos: Mostly made appearances off the bench (due to the form of Cuevas) but got a decent run in the first team when we switched formation (with Cuevas being moved further up the pitch). Think he’ll stay next season.
Cristian Bunino: Didn’t really make much of impression. Will try and sell him over the summer i’d imagine.
Gael Andonian: Impressed whenever he played, will get more of a shot in the first team next season due to a transfer decision i’ve made..
Ally Malle: Did very well for the U21s scoring regularly. Not sure he’s ready for the first team yet though. Will be kept as an option though.
Franck Sanogo: Didn’t get a chance on the first team. A decision will be made over the summer on whether to keep or sell.
Moussa Aka: Didn’t get a chance on the first team. A decision will be made over the summer on whether to keep or sell.
Boban Drljaca: Played a few games and did well despite his tender age. Certainly looks to have a decent future ahead of him, will get more game-time next season for sure.
Gianluca Guarino: Same as above, looks to be quite the talent.
Overall this has been a rollercoaster of a season but one to be proud of. It’s obvious our scouting system is working, as the standard of players coming in has been much higher than what was there previously with many more “hits” than “misses”. With the Champions League money coming in (even for the qualifiers we’ll make a decent amount!) we should be able to push all our teams to the next level. That being said, it’s time to take a trip back to EP2 where we drafted our 5 year plan to see how we’re doing:
- Revamp recruitment and back-room staff + push for promotion. – Achieved in 1st season
- Get Antwerp promoted. – Achieved in 2nd season
- Keep Antwerp in the top division. – Achieved in 3rd season
- Add a team in either Norway/Sweden/Denmark whilst pushing for a European place with Antwerp. – Achieved in 3rd season
- Get the Scandinavian team promoted, definitely qualify for Europe with Antwerp. – Achieved in 3rd season
Considering we’ve only just finished season 3 i’d define the model a roaring success, being 2 years ahead of our plan. So in recognition of that, it’s time to draft a new 5 year plan for us which is as follows:
1. Make Championship Group with Antwerp/Reach mid-table with Silkeborg
- Win the league with Antwerp/Make Europe with Silkeborg/Add a Portuguese team
- Maintain status with Antwerp/Win league with Silkeborg/Get Portuguese team promoted
- Maintain status with Antwerp + Silkeborg/Mid-table finish with Portuguese team
- Maintain status with Antwerp + Silkeborg/Push for Europe with Portuguese team/Add a team in England
By “maintaining status” I mean garner a reputation as a big club within that league, that should always be challenging for the top spots in the league.
The Portuguese team added will be in the league below the Premier League, whilst the English team will either be a League 1 or 2 team – with the aim of reaching the Premier League in 5 years. This will see our European portfolio complete, with 4 clubs around Europe playing in leagues of differing quality (that we can use for player development), along with easy options for work permits that’ll mean any player we want – we’ll get.
We’ll then branch the franchise out to other continents using our hopefully huge pool of players and domestic talents in each country to expand quite convincingly.
Whilst you wait, i’d appreciate any feedback or any questions you have about the series (or me!) on my Twitter