Recap: the year is 2021; we have just finished second in La Liga; our highest league position in the history of the club; automatic European Champions League qualification in the bag; Xadas has been crowned Spanish Player of the Year; nobody here gives a shit about Brexit; things are going well here on the island of Tenerife, celebrations still ongoing the like of which have never been seen before.
Before we know it, we have partied all the way through the summer break and suddenly Pre-Season is upon us and with that it’s back to reality for Manager MaddFM and Los Chicharreros.
Check Point 🚧
Some 12 blog posts back we laid out our objectives for this save and now is as good a time as any to do a quick review of where we are versus our original ambitions over 3 FM years ago:
Obtain Promotion to La Liga within first 2 seasons ✅
Build a concentrated and extensive team of staff with a particular focus on Youth Coaching and Recruitment ✅
Sign as many Spanish speaking staff members as possible ✅
Develop a strong affiliate network domestically and internationally, both for inbound loan benefits as well as youth development ❌
Minimum of 50% of all incoming transfers will be paid up front ✅
Develop at least one youth prospect or uncapped player to obtain an International Cap for Spain within first 3 seasons ❌
Find our “Roy de los Rovers” – an absolute shithouse of a centre-forward the like of which Los Chicharreros have never seen before 🛠️
Get the Ireland job and manage both club & country, ensuring qualification for all major tournaments ❌
Sign and develop a young Irish player for the first team and also get him capped by the Republic of Ireland ❌
Overall I’d say we are about halfway there – we didn’t manage to develop a Spanish international as yet however we have a couple of prospects that have the potential to play the part, newgen Pedro Luis Acosta currently our best bet at present whose technical attributes are as good as I’ve seen for an 18 year old.
I’m also disappointed we haven’t managed to achieve either of my Irish objectives as yet – Mick McCarthy is still holding on to the Ireland job after guiding them to the Last 16 of Euro 2020, while we still haven’t found an Irish prospect that we can develop to the first team squad and push for an Ireland cap. On that note though – I have to say that that there is some serious Irish talent out there that have been developed by other clubs already, and a number of these are already in the Ireland squad namely Gavin Bazanu (Man City) who we mentioned earlier in this blog, Luke O’Leary (Burnley), Adam Idah (Norwich) and Ryan Cassidy (Watford) all of whom I would have in this Tenerife squad and I feel I may have missed the boat a few years back due to lack of scouting for the Irish ☘️🙈.
And of course – we haven’t yet found our #RoyDeLosRovers shithouse goal-machine Striker just yet, but more on that later 👀.
Did we have a cracking season last time round? Yes. How many of our squad were in on loan? 6️⃣……..
The bonus of getting players in on loan is that you get to reap the benefits of bringing in top quality players (who otherwise might not be inclined to want to join on a permanent transfer) without having to pay through the roof for the salaries they demand. For years FM players have had epic success with loan signings and last season was no different for us. HOWEVER – the downside of this is that these players do eventually return to their parent clubs, and often refuse to return meaning that each season they will more than likely need to be replaced either permanently or via other loan signings depending on availability.
In our case – SIX of our first team last season will return to their clubs and early signs suggest that none of them either want or will be allowed to return on loan again next season.
With a budget stretching to €25m (yep that’s all!), it’s shopping time:
Our first big signing is one for the future and one which I have huge hopes for in terms of developing a young Spanish prospect to break in to the National Team. 18 year old Left Back Jordi Grasa joins from Athletic Bilbao for a fee of €8m (50% up front), as we finally hope to secure a permanent signing after two seasons of loan players in this position (Friedl and Matvienko).
Next we decide to raid the loan market again, not one but 4 times as we look to increase our squad in both quality and depth knowing we have a lot of league, cup and European games next season. Mason Mount comes in on a season long loan from Chelsea to add some real quality and flair to our midfield, looking forward to trying him out in a Shadow Striker role behind Brenner. He is joined by Vyacheslav Karavaev from Porto, who looks to be a quality RB/RWB and still only 24 years of age. Svetozar Markovic (who we had scouted previously) arrives on loan from PSG to give us a backup option at Centre Back and the door is barely closed behind him as Francesco Trincao also arrives on a season long loan from West Ham to add some badly needed technique and flair now that Lookman has returned to Everton. All in all four very decent signings who will all be pushing for first team football in August.
Executive Decision & a Marquee Signing
At this point I’m suddenly made aware that there seems to be a lot of interest in Odsonne Edouard lately who really didn’t play well for us last season; I feel he lacks the pace needed for La Liga and judging by the level of clubs interested in him (Bournemouth, Fulham, Athletico Madrid & Benfica) I may be tempted to let him go and use the funds to bring in a few top class more senior first team players to the side. An offer of €35 million from Benfica eventually turns my head and it’s impossible to turn down having paid just €22 million for him this time last year. The offer is too good to refuse (sorry @NowAndThenFM :D) so we accept knowing that 70% of it (and not a penny more) will go straight towards our transfer budget. The question is: what will we do with it??? 💵
This is arguably the biggest signing of the save so far, not just based on transfer fee but in terms of demonstrating the type of player we are now able to attract as well as sending a signal of our intentions for next season. With Ademola Lookman returning to Everton, we are slightly short on that left hand side with only Antonio Marin a natural in that position, so Sancho should bring some firepower and creativity on that side and will hopefully be worth the 75% of our transfer fee spent!! (€20m up front & €20m over 3 years)
Interestingly – the sale of Edouard is the highest player sale in the club’s history…the previous record sale before him was none other than the man, the myth, the legend and the inspiration behind this save…Senior Roy Makaay, when he was sold to Deportivo La Coruna all the way back in 1999 for a hefty €9 million.
DMC or not DMC?
A while back I wrote a post for @WeStreamFM about DMC’s and the importance/effectiveness of having a strong player in this position. While I was doing my research in identifying a selection of the best DMC’s in the game depending on what level of club/league you are in, one player that kept popping up was Lucas Tousart of Lyon who by no means is a superstar however based on his attributes, PPM’s and value being within our price range I decide to bite the bullet and the Frenchman arrives at Los Chicharraros for a fee of €20m (€10m up front). Again, with Danilo Pereira having returned to Porto we have a gap in this position and Tousart should hopefully slot in nicely.
Those three signings combined basically swallow up the rest of our transfer budget, however we have time for one more signing which I am really pleased with in the form of Matt Smith who comes in on a season long loan from Manchester City. Having failed repeatedly to bring Carles Alena back in for a 4th season on loan from Barcelona, we struggled to find a more creative midfield player for that Deep Lying Playmaker role however Smith looks extremely promising and I am quietly excited at the prospect of Smith and Mount playing ahead of Tousart in a completely new look midfield for Tenerife this season.
Soooo after a hectic couple of months, our summer transfer activity and squad rebuild is as complete and our budget is depleted. Six loan signings left us before the summer, and six more take their place along with a few really decent permanent signings that I’m pretty happy with. Not one of these players are above 25 which will keep our average age well below the La Liga average, will be interesting to see how dynamics and influence/leadership (or lackthereof) will impact us this season.
Champions League Group Draw – 26/08/2021
For the first time in our history, Tenerife are in the Group Stages of the UEFA Champions League. Islanders have dreamt of this moment for years and every man, woman, child, dog and goat on the island watch anxiously to see who we will be up against in the greatest football club competition in the world. They should be anxious – we are seeded 4th meaning we can be drawn against any and all of the big guns in Europe, however we are confident that we can match any team at this level on our day.
Zenit St. Petersburg (RUS)
Bayern Munich (GER)
Shakhtar Donetsk (UKR)
Manchester United (ENG)
Schalke 04 (GER)
Inter Milan (ITA)
Join us live below for the 2021/2022 UEFA Champions League Group Draw, brought to you by MaddFM.home.blog.
UNBELIEVABLE JEFF!! Of all the Top Seeded teams we manage to draw Zenit St. Petersburg in Group G, not a guaranteed win by any means especially with a tough trip to Russia ahead, but definitely preferable than a trip to Manchester City or Juventus. Dortmund are drawn as second seeds, not quite the team they used to be due to player sales but they will be our biggest fear in this group – while Benfica complete the draw as 3rd seeds thus giving us what I feel will be a very challenging but overall quite a positive draw for the Champions League Group Stages.
Season 4 – Preview & Pre-Season Round-Up
So, in a pre-season which has seen us bring in 11 new faces and said goodbye to 6 loan signings and two first team regulars, it’s a new feel and a new look first 11 for Los Chicharreros as we head in to the unknown with what I feel is a stronger and more talented squad. If Brenner can pick up where he left off and get decent supply from the likes of Xadas, Mount and Sancho then we will be able to threaten any defence in this league. Our own central defence hasn’t changed much with Bisseck and Semedo having formed such a strong partnership last season, and with two new full backs beside them (again) in the form of Karavaev and Grasa it will be interesting to see how solid we are when we kick off the first game of the season. Our squad depth isn’t where I would like it to be and an injury to either Brenner, Karavaev or Grasa will leave us a bit exposed in those positions but hopefully our esteemed patriarch Senior Miguel Concepcion will be convinced come January to part with a few pesetas.
It would appear that the bookies feel the same about us! Despite finishing in second place last season we are predicted to finish in 6th place this time around albeit with fairly low odds – we’ll show them 😎.
As an experiment I’ve decided to play less friendlies than usual. Normally I would try to get 7-10 friendlies in in order to gel the squad and build up match fitness etc – however as our squad size was completely depleted and I was so busy with transfers and trying to get the most out of our budget (and knowing we will have so many games ahead of us now that we are in the Champions League), we arrange 5 friendlies (all away from home) to prep for pre-season.
Not very impressive..an opening friendly win against Club Brugge thanks to two own goals from our opponents was followed up by back-to-back defeats against Lens and Anderlecht, and suddenly I am wondering if we have made a load of shit decisions and about to embark on a horrendous season! Bearing in mind that our main transfers took place at the end of August however, there is plenty of room to improve and we start to see a positive trend as we beat both Chievo and St. Etienne in their own turf. All of a sudden, we are just one week away from the opening game of the new La Liga season and to be quite honest I have know idea how it will go.
22/08/2021 – CD Tenerife vs Levante U.D.
Myself and Inigodecide to go with a 4-4-1-1 Control Possession tactic, being the home time the plan is to dictate the pace of the game and retain the ball patiently and exploiting any gaps in Levante’s defence. With Jordi Grasa out, debutant Victor Karavaev will fill the left back spot while Svetozar Markovic makes his debut at right back – hopefully Bisseck and Semedo can continue where they left off last season and shore up our new makeshift defensive line. There are also debuts for both Trincao and Sancho, making this pretty much a brand new starting XI for Tenerife. Last year’s top scorer Pepe Gomez is named in the Levante squad as is Brazilian Striker Lincoln – plenty of firepower up front to be weary of. Levante’s Central Defensive pairing are also familiar faces – Frenkie De Jong is on loan from Barcelona, and he plays along side veteran Greek Defender Sokratis who is on loan from Arsenal.
The game kicks off and it’s Tenerife who start strongly testing Korean International Cho Hyun-Woo in goal early on with a long range shot from Brenner. Sancho and Trincao look lively on the wings and Mount playing in the Shadow Striker role starts to influence the game and create a few chances. Thankfully Pepe Gomez has been kept quiet and on 34 minutes, Tenerife win a corner and this happens:
Xadas swings in a well taken corner and Francisco Trincao smashes in his first ever goal for the club, a cracking volley to put us 1-0 to the good in our first game of the season and the score remains the same when the Half Time whistle blows. During the break I warn the team not to get complacent and stay focused, which with such a young and new team can always be challenging in the Football Manager world however thankfully our defensive line is solid and we contain Levante’s main attacking threats long enough to catch them on the break on 77 mins when Sancho breaks down the left, delivers a pristine cross which is converted by Mason Mount who has found a perfect position in the Levante box to convert…2-0 to Los Chicharreros!!!
And thankfully that’s how it stayed to give us our first three points of La Liga 2021/2022!! The performance was by no means outstanding and its clear this young squad needs further depth and gelling if we are to succeed and/or match last season’s achievements. We tell the media that we can take a lot of positives from the game in particular the performances of debutants Trincao, Markovic and Mount (Man of the Match), as well as Sancho who was quiet but picked up an assist for his efforts.
Icing on the Cake 😫
There’s always that layer of doubt in the back of your mind when you’ve made a big transfer decision, and in our case we have taken a huge gamble in selling Odsonne Edouard in order to bring in the likes of Sancho and Tousart. Despite a good win in our opening game, we can’t ignore that Brenner didn’t get on the scoresheet and even though it’s only one game, there’s that teeny tiny level of uncertainty as to whether we’ve made the right decision.
In attempt to reassure myself we take a quick trip over to Portugal to check how Edouard is getting on at Benfica, what could go wrong?
GREAT!!! Last season the lad picked up 6 goals in 32 appearances for us – so far he has scored 5 goals in 6 appearances for Benfica and we aren’t even in September yet……
Thanks for reading!! A busy pre-season topped off with mixed emotions gives us a great platform to kick off Season 4 in La Liga with CD Tenerife – if you haven’t already, feel free to read back on how we have arrived here and catch up on our journey so far – hit Follow below to keep posted for any blog updates, thoughts and retweets are also appreciated on Twitter if you can spare a moment 👍. Cheers & thanks in advance, MaddFM.