Before we get into the season, I noticed a flaw in the 5 year plan that I put forward in the last episode. This is the 5 year plan I suggested:
- Make Championship Group with Antwerp/Reach mid-table with Silkeborg – 19/20 – ACHIEVED
- Win the league with Antwerp/Make Europe with Silkeborg/Add a Portuguese team 20/21
- Maintain status with Antwerp/Win league with Silkeborg/Get Portuguese team promoted 21/22
- Maintain status with Antwerp + Silkeborg/Mid-table finish with Portuguese team 22/23
- Maintain status with Antwerp + Silkeborg/Push for Europe with Portuguese team/Add a team in England 23/24
However I gave it some thought and realised this is the wrong way to be going about things. Antwerp should be the focus as it’s relatively easy to qualify for Europe, which brings in a substantial amount of money for the club – so all our best players will obviously play for Antwerp.
Silkeborg’s results are almost irrelevant, the Danish league is quite hard to win or qualify for Europe at this stage (FC Copenhagen have 5 players on above £20k a week – we have no players for Silkeborg earning more than £9k a week!) therefore we should not be focusing that many resources to doing well. Staying up is the main priority, so Silkeborg will be used for youngsters to get valuable game-time and to hopefully grow ready for the step up for Leiria or Antwerp.
Leiria will be a step-up from Silkeborg, but still act as a “development” club for Antwerp, for youngsters who are better than the Danish first division but not quite ready for the Antwerp squad. Despite this both Leiria and Silkeborg will have “their” players that have been signed for them and aren’t going to be sold but improve the team – as we still want to be as competitive as possible.
This of course will all change when we add the English team, I’m unsure what division the team we’ll be “buying” will be in, it may be a team in League 1 or League 2 rather than the Championship – all depends on which club best suits us. Obviously when we’re in the lower leagues we’ll have to be a bit creative with the transfers (maybe not relying on youth so much in order to get us up the league structure), but our aim is to reach the Premier League as quickly as possible. Our focus will then switch due to the money that the Premier League will bring into the club (we’ll get more for finishing 17th in the PL than if we qualified for the CL group stages with Antwerp) and all our best players will move to England whilst hopefully having enough money to invest in plenty of players for Antwerp to rebuild for the influx of players moving away.
Aboubacar Doumbia: A young full-back with plenty of decent mental and physical stats. For a fee of just 150k there’s very little risk as i’m sure he can fit into any of our teams.
Diogo Mendes: Snapped up on a free transfer from Benfica’s B team, he’ll straight out on loan to CCL.
Guillaume Hubert: The home-grown keeper comes in as a great option from the bench. Will play in all domestic cup games and a few league games to keep him happy.
Takeshi Hirashige: If you follow me on Twitter (my handle is at the bottom of this episode), you’ll know I’ve been after this guy for almost a year without success but finally, he’s mine. So welcome Hirashige who arrives on a free (!) transfer from FC Hiroshima and looks to be an immense playmaker.
Ricardo Carassa: A solid looking defender, he moves to CCS from CCA to help further his development.
Jose Cedeno: Rather than let him languish on the bench at CCA it’ll help his development moving to CCS for the season.
Aly Malle: Touch and go for Malle now, performs and he gets a new contract, although he’ll do well for force Tchoumi and Thychosen out the starting 11, but I’ll settle for appearances off the bench.
Sam Morsy: A bold decision this, I couldn’t see a space for Morsy at CCA as I wanted to develop the young talented midfielders we have in the squad, so I’ve moved him to CCS for the season where he’ll be a key part of the midfield.
Giambattista Stefanelli: A signing I didn’t really see but my scouts were insistent on, Stefanelli gets a taste of first team football on loan from CCA.
Nicolas Tchoumi: Another VERY bold decision. Despite his amazing season last year, Zivkovic is still going to be my preferred striker, and we’re sticking with the xmas tree tactic that also served us so well last season.
Warleson: A solid looking keeper who goes in as the #1 at CCS.
Yannick Cortie: With the rise of Tate’ms breakout season last year, I felt Tatem deserved a season with CCAs first team. Due to the need of home-grown options as backup CBs alongside the rock that is Alex Grant, this left no space for Cortie. With not much re-sale value he’s perfect for a move to CCS and boosts the quality of the defence up substantially. He moves on a permanent transfer.
Joao Lopes: A talented youngster from CCL, he moves to CCS to ward off a few clubs who were sniffing around him. He re-joins CCL on a loan deal.
Moussa Aka: Arrives from CCA as a decent rotation option.
Gael Andonian: Joins from CCA as he’s no longer needed as a back-up CB option. Should be a key part of our hopeful promotion push.
Victor Lastra: The young RB joins for first team experience and should be a main part of the first team.
Diogo Mendes: Arrives as a decent rotation option.
Valerijs Sabala: Should smash this division I hope, excelled at Silkeborg now being asked to do the job again.
Sinan Bolat: No longer needed at CCA due to the arrival of Trifonov and Hubert. He’s still a solid keeper though, but the lack of being qualified as being home-grown for Belgium (wrong I believe – I’ve reported it to SI!) is a negative factor. With just a year on his contract and being 32 there’s not much re-sale value it’s worth him going to CCL for a season and hopefully grab us promotion.
Mickael Malsa: Arrives from CCA as a decent rotation option.
Rabie Issad: Arrives from CCA as a decent rotation option.
Rayan Souici: Splashed the cash here a bit but the young Frenchman looks worth it, and looks able to play anywhere centrally.
Diogo Baltazar: A decent looking signing (for the fee) from relegated Primeria Ligue team Estoril.
Joao Lopes: A Coca Cola Star (as below), he’ll get game-time this season despite being just 17. A talent.
Coca Cola Stars
I had definitely forgot about this aspect of the series, so thanks to those that reminded me! As a refresher, Coca Cola Stars are a bunch of young players (aged 20 or under) who have decent potential and wouldn’t be around the first team normally. They’ll feature in match-day squads as much as possible and be afforded first team football in an attempt to speed up their development.
The Coca Cola Stars for this season are as follows:
Rui Gaspar (CCL): Came through the ranks at Coca Cola Lieria’s academy. Now 17 he looks like he’ll be a key component to the team in a few years. It’ll be tough to get him regular game-time this season with our stacked midfield but I’ll certainly try to give him as much as I can
Joao Lopes (CCL): A talented looking forward from Lierias academy, he should get plenty of game-time this season as we’re adopting the Zeman tactic discussed a few episodes ago meaning he’ll be replacing one of 3 strikers.
Frantisek Machala (CCA): A bit older than the usual, he was bought for 350k (rising to 450k) from Czech side Slovan Liberec. He spent last season in the U21’s where he impressed, now he’s ready for game-time off the bench as he pushes to make a midfield spot his own.
Resel Kuru (CCA): I feel he’ll struggle for game-time ahead of Grant or Tatem, but I’ll include him nonetheless. Hopefully give him some non-important games to make his mark.
Frederik Mortenson (CCS): A talented looking striker that has come from the Silkeborg academy. Will rotate him with either Tchoumi or Thychosen and hope he can score some goals and develop further.
Antwerp’s preseason: A strong pre-season where we trashed Club Brugge (who have just bought Batshuayi from Chelsea for £5m and 70k a week!) and vanquished our Europa League demons by beating Lyon. A thriller against Steaua as part of the Todorovski deal topped it off. Looking good for the season ahead!
Silkeborg’s pre-season: An unbeaten pre-season puts us in good stead for the season ahead. Tchoumi was clinical netting back to back hat-tricks. He’ll be far too good for this division!
Leiria’s pre-season: An unbeaten pre-season means all 3 teams have been unbeaten over pre-season with an amazing 13 wins out of 14 games. Leiria were the most clinical of the lot with Sabala looking like he’ll adapt well to life in Portugal. A strong sign!
Silkeborg’s July: A disappointing defeat to FC Copenhagen is balanced out with a scrappy win against Lyngby to give us our first 3 points of the season.
Antwerp’s August: A narrow loss to a strong Sporting CP side drops us out of the Champions League and down to the Europa League for another season, an easy draw against Sturm Graz of Austria puts us into the group stages. Zivkovic looks to be in unstoppable form as he fires us to 3 wins out of our first 5 league games of the season. A strong platform to build on.
Silkeborg’s August: Urm, well this wasn’t expected! A run of just 1 game in 6 leaves us 9 points off the championship stage so early on in the season. Less than ideal and hopefully we can turn it round soon. I’m changing the formation to a 4-3-1-2 in an attempt to solve this.
Leiria’s August: Only one win out of our first 4 league games and a defeat in the first round of the cup makes me wonder what happened to the team we saw in pre-season. Only the plus side we’re undefeated and only 2 points off 2nd so anything can happen.
Antwerp’s September: A mixed bag of results against some tough teams, an injury to star striker Zivkovic for 9 weeks has left us a bit light in the goals department it would seem, with both Raman and Emond unable to find the net when called upon. Hopefully he’ll be back in action soon enough to help us find the form we produced in our first few games. A harder than I would’ve liked Europa League group draw gives us a decent chance of qualifying, Napoli will obviously be the team to topple but I feel we can pip Copenhagen to the 2nd place spot.
Silkeborg’s September: New formation pays instant dividends as we go the month of September unbeaten, picking up 2 wins in the process. Thychosen and Tchoumi make a great partnership I feel (hence the reason for the 4-3-1-2) and should score plenty between them.
Leiria’s September: Wow, another unbeaten month sees us fly up to the table into 4th position, just 3 points off top spot. The front 3 of Jorginho, Sabala and Keyven look to be unstoppable paired together in the Zeman tactic we created and analysed in a previous episode. Let’s hope it continues!
Antwerp’s October: A very mixed month! Don’t really have a lot more to say about this month other than that. We’ve struck up a partnership with Heracles of Holland that allows us first dibs on any talented youth players they may have. These partnerships will hopefully be a useful addition to our scouting network and allow us a greater reach.
Silkeborg’s October: The new formation continues to pay off with just a single loss in October – that sees us move within a few points of the Championship stage!
Leiria’s October: A huge game against Estoril drops us points that would’ve moved us into 2nd place – and a promotion spot. On the plus side we’re still scoring for fun and it looks like Benfica B will be near the top of the table come the end of the season, a bonus as they cannot get promoted meaning the spot will go to the next best placed (hopefully us!)
Antwerp’s November: 2 vital Europa League wins put us through no matter what happens in the last game against Napoli which is a huge relief. The return of Zivkovic is a welcome relief as well! Hopefully we can push on in the league a bit and make the championship stage.
Silkeborg’s November: Another strong month leaves us still on the fringes of the championship stage. Thychosen is certainly giving Tchoumi a run for his money in terms of goals scored which is a bit of a surprise (although a good surprise!)
Leiria’s November: A poor month that sees us falter a bit. However we’re still in contention and not that far off the top spot at all, although plenty of teams below us aren’t that many points behind us either with just 5 points between 3rd and 8th. Every game is now crucial!
Antwerp’s December: A fantastic month, despite the cup loss to AA Gent (who we then destroyed 3 days later). We’ve drawn Newcastle in the Europa League who could be difficult, however i’m confident we’ll give them a good game
Silkeborg’s December: A poor month where we scored 5 goals in 3 games yet still came away without a single point to our name! Championship group looks like it’s slipping away somewhat.
Leiria’s December: A month with just 1 win out of 4 drops us all the way down to 7th, however with just 3 points between us and 3rd, we’re not out the running yet!
Join me in Episode 15 part 2 next week as we finish the 20/21 season. I love receiving your feedback and any suggestions you may have in improving the series, so head over to my Twitter and give me a tweet!
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