At the end of my introductory post on the new Udinese save, I mentioned the situation was something of a ‘clusterfuck’. In truth, it was a lot worse and I had to complete more outgoing transfers/loans than in any transfer window ever.
The Summer all began with the loan players returning. This was fine. Whilst there was lots to deal with, we were at the end of June and there was plenty of time. However, the day before they were all due to return, the board announced they were considering a consortium takeover and this resulted in a temporary transfer embargo.
Regardless, planning went on, and we’d been given a £360k p/w wage budget. This seemed fairly reasonable… until the loanees returned. At this point I thought something must’ve been wrong, because upon trying to offer a new contract to one of our current players, the maximum value was an absolute pittance. So I checked the finances, and we were now paying £640k p/w in wages.
That’s bad enough. But as I went to sell and loan the resource-sucking players, I was greeted with the message that I wasn’t allowed to as the board takeover was ongoing. Great. Cheers.
Not only did this mean we missed out on a few key targets available on a free transfer, but it also meant I couldn’t even manage the contractual situation of current players. It was a mess. This went on for two weeks, meaning I had about a month to not only get rid of ~60 players I didn’t want or need, but also to completely re-structure a scouting department and sign players who aligned with the ‘Moneyball’ philosophies.
Luckily the transfer window had effectively started for me before the board takeover. I knew as soon as I got the job that securing Allan on a long-term deal was of utmost importance. Once this was secured I was further able to utilise the link with Granada to get Murillo in on a free-transfer. Both players were effectively bought by Udinese in the past and gifted to Granada so I don’t feel too bad about sucking them dry…
The situation with Granada & Watford will present some interesting challenges in this save but I intend to help keep them in the best situations possible. If we can have two feeder clubs regularly playing in the top division of Spain & England respectively then it can only be good for us.
Allan: phenomenal throughout 14/15 for Udinese in the real world, and similarly important in Football Manager
Jeison Murillo: having loaned CB Thomas Hertaux from Granada for 14/15, we were able to trade up for a better model, in Colombian international Murillo
A few of the previously loaned out players were also brought back into the first-team squad; Roberto Pereyra, Luis Muriel, Matej Vydra, Douglas Santos, Edenilson and Alexandre Coeff all returned and will stay at the club this season. Securing Roberto Pereyra on a long-term deal proved to be one of the most important deals of the Summer. Having asked to leave, and with only 12 months left on his contract, I feared we’d have to let him go this Summer. But after a month of hardball, his attitude changed and he no longer wanted to leave. At this point it was either he sign a new contract or we’d transfer list him, and we managed to convince him to sign a £42k p/w, 4-year deal to make him the highest payed player at the club. I had a huge amount of success with Pereyra at Southampton, so knew he was someone to build the team around.
Pereyra: alongside Allan, Emmanuel Badu, Guilherme and Bruno Fernandes, Pereyra gives us central midfield stocks far above our station
Then came the scouting itself. Fulfilling the rules laid out in the introductory post was going to be difficult this Summer, but we just about managed it. Two permanent transfers, a loan deal, and £7.9m later we were left with these three additions:
Dockal (£3.2m): it’s rare to find such excellent attributes for such a low fee and wage package, but his signing typifies our ‘Moneyball’ scouting approach
Albertengo (£3.9m): a very well-rounded player capable of attacking in a two or alone, presented fantastic value on deadline day
Tagliafico (loan to buy fee: £3.7m): primarily bought in to add depth at left-back, £3.7m represents excellent value if we do pursue a permanent deal
Borek Dockal was the main signing of the Summer, and is now one of our primary attacking options. His attributes are incredibly well-rounded and he provides a fairly unique skill-set; one that should be particularly useful against the deep defensive lines of Serie A. Albertengo and Tagliafico represented a double deadline day swoop that clogged some holes in the squad and ensured we were capable of playing three games in a week (despite not being in continental competitions).
I’ve removed loans for your own good
All of this leads to our three tactical systems:
Our choice of tactics, with most favoured from, er, right to left
Initially we’ll go with a narrow 4-1-2-1-2 diamond and attempt to dominate the midfield. Our defense is rated amongst the worst in the league so given them as much central protection as possible will benefit us defensively, whereas we can rely on our full-backs for width in the attacking phase. Something tells me that Simone Scuffet, our most promising young player, will have to bail us out a few times this season.
Allowing both Allan and Roberto Pereyra to maraud into the channels, as well as giving Borek Dockal as much free-reign as possible (not only is he a particularly clever player, but he’s well at home on the wings) should be enough to give us a mid-table attack. Unfortunately we cannot rely on Antonio di Natale like Udinese teams of yesteryear, and his £30k p/w contract is something of a burden on the finances. With Lucas Albertengo, Luis Muriel and Matej Vydra all competing for minutes, it’s likely this could be di Natale’s last year in the game. That would only help to reduce the average age further (the squad is already the youngest in the league, with an average age of 25).
The aim is a safe mid-table finish, although pushing above 10th would be an excellent start and give us slightly more gravitas in next year’s transfer market.