It’s official – Los Chicharreros a.k.a. CD Tenerife are back in La Liga Santander. Operation “Roy de los Rovers” is well underway and it’s so far so good for life on the island ☀️⚽.
We exceeded our initial objectives and managed to gain promotion at the first time of asking, albeit through a grueling 50 game season that included 4 playoff games to seal our fate…thank f*ck we didn’t go on a decent cup run! While the lads went about their business for the summer break, there was no time to hit the beach for me as an immediate major squad rebuild is of the essence – especially considering the bookies are tipping us for immediate relegation this season:
The first piece of good news comes from our good patriarch Senior Miguel Concepcion, who advises that he agrees with my pleas for an upgrade to our training facilities and is going to shell out €1,000,000 over the next 12 months to pimp out our training ground at El Mundialito.
The other piece of good news comes in the form of two successful contract renewals. After being linked with a move to Liverpool, 18 year old German CB Yann-Auriel Bisseck dismisses all speculation and signs a new 4 year deal with us that most importantly now has a €20 million release clause compared to the previous €5 million one. You’ll Never Walk Alone is now You Will Never Get This! This also encourages Carles Alena to want to remain at Los Chicharreros for another year, as both he and Barcelona agreed to extend his loan deal for a further season – a great piece of business as good as a new transfer signing, we will need all the La Liga level talent we can get to ensure our survival.
Speaking of money – finances are not something I usually spend a whole lot of time on in Football Manager, I usually just focus about Transfer and Wage budgets and let the suits deal with the rest behind the scenes. However my perception has since been changed after reading @FMGrasshopper‘s really insightful and informative article about what he calls “The Glass Ceiling” at his club Lorient, something which I hadn’t considered previously with regard to income mainly due to the fact that the English Premier League (where I traditionally would have managed before) is absolutely flooded with cash while the Spanish League does not offer the same financial windfall. In his article, he analyses how the club struggles to increase it’s income year on year due to the fact that they are already maximising their stadium, sponsorship and TV revenue, and nothing short of European Qualification will significantly increase this. The more I think about it, the more I fear the same could happen here at Tenerife largely due to the fact that we pretty much sold out most of our home games in SD2 last season at Estadio Heliodoro Rodriguez Lopez (c. 22,284) and Senior Concepcion isn’t yet willing to invest in that side of the infrastructure just yet.
Being in La Liga (and hopefully staying there), I would hope that we will be able to increase our TV Revenue and Sponsorship which in turn might help us to convince Miggy to reinvest in the stadium. These were our main income sources last season (excluding Gate Receipts and Season Tickets), so it will be interesting to see what this looks like as our first season in La Liga progresses.
The sad reality comes later when we realise we are rock bottom of the commercial income pool – quite literally, we are the lowest earning team in terms of commercial revenue which means I will need to step up the game in terms of how I manage and concentrate on is revenue and finances. Our Glass Ceiling is most certainly a real threat to watch out for – it might not be the biggest but it’s certainly up there (#loveagoodpun).
Naturally, the change to our league status means a change to our personnel here at Los Chicharreros. Senior Concepcion informs us that we will be given €8.25 million to spend in the transfer window as we embark on our first mission which is La Liga survival. “€8.25 million?!” I exclaim, “sure that will barely cover the cost of a flight over here for anyone that might join us?!“. Miguel is not impressed and advises that I can ask as much as I like but it won’t do any good, so I storm out the door and start taking off my shoes and socks to start counting about how many youth prospects I can afford with that amount of cash. Looks like I can stretch it to around €10 million if I am clever with the budget, so myself and Inigo get the pen and paper out to discuss transfer targets and have a few games of naughts and crosses in between.
First in the door is a player we had previously at Blackburn during my first FM19 save – Ademola Lookman arrives from Everton on a season long loan after making just 7 appearances for The Toffees last season. Lookman was emmense during my Championship winning first season at Blackburn where he won both Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year, so I am hoping for more of the same from him as he flies South over the Atlantic Ocean.
Next in the door are two youth prospects, one of whom we mentioned in a previous post as we attempt to fill @FMEdmundo‘s recommended objective of signing and developing an Irish youth prospect. First, American midfielder Gedion Zelalem arrives on a free transfer after being released by Arsenal having never played a competitive game for the Senior team, his attributes aren’t too bad for a free signing and hopefully he can build upon his current 3 star potential. 18 yr old half-Irish/half-Swedish Ryan Johansson also joins the club on a season long loan from Bayern Munich, mainly as a way for us to get an in-depth scouting report to see if he would be worth the €7 million they wanted for him initially. Upon arrival however, we see that he has seemingly declared for Sweden over the Republic of Ireland (not another Declan Rice situation!), which is upsetting considering he has apparently declared for the boys in green in real life.
Our first fee-paying signing is a somewhat controversial one. After a lot of deliberating and thanks to some reassurance from one of my trusted advisers on Twitter @FMPoacher, we decided to bring in Ruben Semedo from Villareal for what will hopefully be a decent value €1.3m (€700K up front). For those of you not aware, Semedo (a beast in previous FM versions) landed himself in serious hot water after an incident in which he and some friends allegedly tied up and assaulted an individual before they burgled his home – later declaring that they were trying to recover money loaned to the man. Semedo was jailed in 2017 and later released on bail in July 2018. Let me quickly state that this signing in no way condones his actions or behaviour; the reality is that he is quite a decent Centre Back in the game and with my limited budget it was the most logical signing available considering I have yet to sign our main transfer priority: a Striker, and hopefully someone that can contend to be our next Roy de Los Rovers.
Next off the plane are not one but two full backs on loan from the German Bundesliga which are definitely badly needed as we have been quite weak in terms of strength and depth in that department. Well known (in FM) right sided German wing back Felix Passlack arrives from Borussia Dortmund on a season long loan after playing 40 games for Norwich in the Championship last season; he is closely followed by Austrian left back Marco Friedl who arrives on loan from Bayern Munich; both players have 4 star potential and have really decent all round attributes, and hopefully they will be good enough for La Liga this season (although wait until you see the La Liga Top Scorer odds that I will show you shortly before making any assumptions about my defence! #thestruggleisreal).
So far so good, we’ve managed to bring in 6 players for less than €1 million of our current transfer budget. Inigo is getting antsy with the first game of the season soon approaching, especially considering the fact that we still haven’t found a Striker as yet. With Fernando Coniglio and Nano finishing their loans at the end of last season, we currently only have one first team Striker in the squad in Jose Naranjo so its time to get the skates on and ask Miguel to get the checkbook out again.
I must have spent 3 hours scouting strikers….several targets were identified and I had bids accepted for John Guidetti, Kaspar Dolberg, Adalberto Penaranda, Tammy Abraham, Oliver and Divock Origi – all of whom declined to even enter contract negotiations (b*stards), and time was quickly running out for us to find one let alone two strikers to move to Los Chicharreros. Finally we reached a positive outcome when we agreed a deal with Crvena Zvezda to sign 20 year old Serbian wonderkid Dejan Joveljic. Dubbed the next Slobodan Santrac, Joveljic has a long way to go in terms of attributes however hopefully we can develop him here and build on his current 4 star potential. I have seen a few community members mention him on Twitter etc so let’s hope he can bring something to the team!
We suddenly find ourselves in a perilous situation – it’s transfer deadline day and we still haven’t found a Striker that we hope will be our main goal-scoring threat this season as we look to ascertain our place in La Liga Santander. Repeat bids for all of the above failed again (Origi chose Southampton while Guidetti opted for Alaves 🤬). Will there be time for CD Tenerife to sign anyone before the transfer window closes?!
Admittedly – I panicked; I did something I rarely have ever done in agreeing to pay Sao Paulo €775k per month for Brenner, adding up to around €6.5 – €7 million for the year. Possibly an absolute waste of money, however if we can get 15 goals out of him I feel it will be a small price to pay if it helps us stay up this season. I actually first came across Brenner in @fryman7′s OTBC Youtube series with Norwich City last year in FM18, where he developed nicely and ended up banging in loads of goals for last year’s FMWEC Champion (I recommend checking out his YT channel 👍) Hopefully he can hit the ground running and replicate this form for Los Chicharreros, and looking at his attributes he certainly has the potential to shake things up at this level.
So that’s the transfer window done and dust….shit wait, there is still one absolutely banging signing to tell you about!
El Retorno del Rey (The Return of the king)
We had mentioned before (only once or twice :P) that our current blog/save adventure is entitled “Roy De Los Rovers“, if you haven’t already read why please feel free to check out the full story here. For the shortened version, see below:
Roy Makaay, our former scores goals for fun absolutely banging shithouse Striker, returns to the club as a coach for the Tenerife first team. Makaay, having spent the last 6 seasons as a youth coach at Feyenoord, is no stranger to Tenerife having spent two seasons here before moving on to Deportivo La Coruna and later Bayern Munich where he scored over 150 goals for both clubs across 6 seasons. Hopefully he can bring some much needed inspiration and attacking power to our Strikers on the training pitch..bienvenido a casa Roy!!!
Sooo – that now is officially the Transfer Window done and dusted, having signed no fewer than 9 players in total (slightly alarmingly all under the age of 25 – did someone say you can’t win anything with kids?)
I can’t help but feel an uphill struggle may be on the cards this season, particularly when looking at Transfer Activity across the rest of La Liga where even Levante have spent more than us (on one player!). Federico Bernardeschi arrives at Real Madrid for a cool €75m, as does Marcelo Brozovic for a nice round €50m – they weren’t long spending the €95m they got from Liverpool for Marco Asensio! Barcelona signed two extremely solid defenders in Hugo Mallo and Ruben Dias for a combined €93m, while even the likes of Celta Vigo and Real Betis splashed the cash as they gear up for what should be a cracking first season for us in La Liga.
Pre-Season and the league opener
There is a pep in my step as we approach the first game of the new La Liga season. Pre-season went extremely (and worryingly) well where we managed to go unbeaten in 7 games, the highlight of which was a 3-0 win over Ajax (revenge for Dolberg’s rejection 😆).
There was also positive news following our busy transfer window – the bookies appear to be more confident in our survival this season with our media prediction now updated to 16th from the original 18th place predicted finish. I look around but I can’t seem to find any Paddy Power on the island, maybe I have gambled enough with the signings of Semedo and Brenner..
Speaking of the Irish – while enviously admiring the signings made by our competitors this season, I notice that I will not be the only Irishman competing in La Liga this season. Shane Long joins Eibar on loan for the season, after scoring 3 goals in 22 games for Southampton last season. Fellow Irish international Stephen Ward also makes the journey South from English football as he joins my recently promoted rivals Deportivo La Coruna for a fee of €1.4m from Burnley. Interesting to see an Irish full back arriving in Spain with the last two Irishmen to play in La Liga being Steve Finnan (Espanyol) and Ian Harte (Levante) – expect to see Seamus Coleman and Matt Doherty here soon! At least I will have someone to go to the pub with on Paddy’s Day ☘️☘️.
As our preparation is underway for the League Opener against Deportivo and the lads are starting to feel positive, the bookies are at it again as they announce the Top Scorer odds for this season. It’s only when I see the list of names in front of me that I realise what a tough task we have ahead of ourselves – the leap from SD2 to La Liga is far larger than I had anticipated, and I almost dread the thought of coming up against some of these lads!!
the moment of truth
Finally it’s here…after 400 days (since taking over), close to 100 hours of playing time, 9 blog posts and several hundred pina coladas, it’s time to play our first game in La Liga where we take on and hopefully get revenge over Deportivo La Coruna, the team that finished ahead of us in 2nd place last season and took that coveted automatic promotion spot out of our reach before we entered the playoffs. Deportivo have had a somewhat fall from grace since their golden period during the late 1990’s and early 2000’s which peaked with them reaching the UEFA Champions League Semi Final in 2004, where they narrowly lost out to Jose Mourinho’s eventual winners FC Porto by just 1-0 on aggregate.
Having played Championship Manager since the CM2 days in 1995/1996, I have a fond nostalgia for Deportivo who have had some absolutely awesome FM players over the years – names such as Djalminha, Rivaldo, Jorge Andrade, Salaheddine Bassir, Mustapha Hadji, Albert Luque, Diego Tristan, Juan Carlos Valeron, Walter Pandiani and of course our blog inspiration Roy Makaay bring back epic memories of sitting in front of our old family PC for hours on end watching that infamous loading screen, however there is no time for reminiscing today as we get ready to do battle at Estadio Heliodoro Rodriguez Lopez which we hope to turn in to a fortress today.
I decided to take a small gamble on a formation that I played previously for 3 seasons at Blackburn, which worked well during pre-season and gave us quite a few clean sheets and some solid defensive performances. I don’t expect to score a hell of a lot of goals this season, and with Brenner not match fit having only arrive off the plane from Brazil, Jose Naranjo starts up front with Borja Lasso behind him in the Shadow Striker role where Bradley Dack excelled during my Blackburn save. We hand debuts to Friedl, Semedo, Passlack and Lookman and decide to give Sondre Rossbach the #1 jersey this season. Deportivo also look quite strong with Mosquera, Diego Rolan and new signing Shinji Okazaki up front, and will look to have some of their own luck of the Irish as they give Stephen Ward his La Liga debut at Left Back. Here’s how the teams line out for their league opener:
The game kicks off and it’s a nervy start from MaddFM‘s young Tenerife side, with Deportivo having an early attack that is eventually dealt with by Rossbach in goal. The game continues and before long there is immediate controversy in the 12th minute – as Gomes takes a shot on goal which is brilliantly saved by Rossbach and pushed out for a corner, the referee decides he has seen an infringement by Nelson Semedo on Shinji Okazaki despite neither of them having any impact on the shot at goal, and he decides to check the VAR for a replay of the incident! The Tenerife fans clearly feel this is an outrageous decision (much to the delight of the Deportivo fans), and while the ref deliberates over the footage there are cries of “F*CKING BULLSHIT REF!” from the home supporters (in Spanish of course). This doesn’t dissuade the ref however who after a couple of seconds points at the spot and it’s an early penalty for Deportivo La Coruna. What kind of b*llocks decision is that? (pardon my Spanish)
That decision silences the Home fans and looks to have rattled Los Chicharreros, who look fairly solid at the back but struggle to get the ball up to the forward line and trouble the Deportivo defence. Manager MaddFM demands more of his players in the hope that they will buck up their ideas considering they have home advantage, and as they approach half time there is another burst of silence in the stadium as a mistake by Carles Alena allows Shinji Okazaki to put Deportivo 2-0 up on the brink of half time. Disaster for Tenerife!
Half time..two goals down..VAR is a bollocks..Alena has his head in his hands. This is not going well and I let the lads have it as the hairdryer is out in the dressing room. Where is your passion lads? Do you even want to win this game? I challenge them to go out and win the second half, and restore some pride for the home fans after that dismal first half performance. I also decide to make a double substitution bringing on Antonio Marin and Dejan Joveljic to hopefully spice things up and cause chaos for the Deportivo defence.
We start the second half much better, playing the ball around more and probably settling in better considering its a new team and a new tactic, as well as a very young squad on the field (average age is just 23). We look to spread the ball around more and start to grow in confidence and quality, and finally we manage to pull one back on 57 mins when Antonio Marin converts an awesome cross from Right Back debutant Felix Passlack – sending the Tenerife fans in to ruptures that echo across the island all the way as far as the Thomas Cook tourists enjoying the bright lights of Playa de las Americas.
Sadly, that was our last real attack of the game and despite an encouraging and more spirited second half performance, the game finished 2-1 to Deportivo and we taste defeat in our first game of the La Liga season. VAR and a costly mistake by Carles Alena mean that Deportivo take home the three points, and perhaps over-confidence from pre-season combined with a lack of time for this young squad to properly gel together mean that there is much work ahead on the training ground for Los Chicharreros. I tell the lads to keep their heads up, there are plenty of games left to be played and ultimately, F*CK VAR and the horse it rode in on 😆.
That’s it for our first post of the new season! Sadly it was a bit of an anti-climax in terms of our first league game, however with this young and talented squad I look forward to the challenge of trying to develop them both individually and as a team, as well as looking in to what we can do in terms of mental development, team cohesion and finding a tactical strategy that will help us to step up at this level. As always, thanks for reading and following this blog/save adventure – without giving away any spoilers, there is plenty more controversy and action to follow so keep an eye out for my next post! You can subscribe to the blog below or else keep an eye on my Twitter account for a new post each week – thoughts, feedback and retweets are always appreciated 🤜🤛. Cheers, @MaddFM.