When we last left off, we had just won Manager of the Month for September and despite picking up our first defeat of the season at Valencia, we are top of the league and have picked up two wins from two in our Champions League group against Dortmund and Zenit St. Petersburg respectively. Mason Mount has been on fire with 7 goals already, and our main man Brenner has started to find form as the team begins to gel and look a force to be reckoned with at this level.
October kicks off smoothly as we pick up wins against Osasuna and Villareal, with Brenner netting his 7th and Mount picking up his 8th goal of the season. These lads are looking formidable with Brenner in the Advanced Forward role and Mount just behind him as a Shadow Striker – well complimented by on-loan DLP Matt Smith from Man City who looks solid as a rock, and Lucas Tousart who adds a more defensive steel to the midfield. Not to mentioned record signing Jadon Sancho has picked up 6 assists already to date!
El Hipo (Hiccup)
Usually when things are too good to be true it’s usually because they are – just when we look almost unbeatable and the islanders of Tenerife are already dreaming of Champions League success and winning the double, our fixture list brings us to Portugal for a tough away fixture to our Iberian neighbours Benfica – who let’s not forget recently handed us €35 million for Odsonne Edouard, and he has repaid them by already scoring 8 goals for them in Liga NOS.
We manage to keep “Eddy” quiet for 90 mins but unfortunately we are equally quiet, and a 10th minute strike by Emil Forsberg is enough to condemn us to our first Champions League defeat in Group G. “Smug Portuguese bastards” Inigo says as we board our flight back to the island, we’ll get our revenge at home in a few weeks.
That result inspires three wins on the bounce making it 5 in a row – we manage to score 12 goals including doubles for Sancho, Xadas and Joveljic, the highlight being a 4-1 drubbing of Athletic Bilbao. Our league form is ridiculous despite having a blip in the Champions League, and it’s clear that we will probably need a much stronger squad in terms of depth and quality if we are to compete in all competitions…with January not that far away, our esteemed patriarch Senior Miguel Concepcion might be getting another knock on the door for that precious checkbook of his.
Ten games in and we are still top of the league! We level on points with Barcelona, literally ahead by the skin of our teeth seeing as we have yet to play them and of course, the La Liga rule for when teams are level on points is based on Head to Head rather than Goal Difference which is always challenging for any FM players out there that are used to Goal Difference and Goals Scored being the distinguishing factor in the league.
If the above league table illustrates the high point of our season so far – what comes next is considerably our dry spell – not so much in the league where we pick up two more wins to keep us top of the table, but either side of those where we find ourselves up against it versus Benfica and Dortmund in the return fixtures of Group G in the Champions League. Benfica hold us to a 0-0 stalemate on home soil here at Estadio Heliodoro Rodriguez Lopez, leaving it all for us to do in this group as we prepare for a tough away trip in Germany where we will come up against Dortmund and the famous “Yellow Wall” who will be equally keen to gain revenge for our earlier 2-0 victory.
Not only does our former on-loan Left Back Felix Passlack score a penalty against us, our current on-loan defender Svetozar Markovic also decides to put one in the back of our net with a marvelously calamitous own goal to cap a series of unfortunate events for us in Germany, which not only leaves us 3rd in our group but also knocks us out of the Champions League as that own goal gives Dortmund a better Head to Head record against us!! Regardless of the outcome in our last game against Zenit, we scratch our heads on the flight home wondering how we have managed to be top of La Liga by the end of November, yet have gotten ourselves dumped out of the Champions League after just 5 games (and after winning the first two!).
Of course the timing of this implosion couldn’t come at a better time as we get straight in to match preparation for our next fixture which all of a sudden is our most important game this season so far – the small feat of a trip to the Nou Camp as we line-up to face Catalan giants Barcelona who are literally breathing down our necks in second place and clearly chomping at the bit this season following last year’s disappointing 4th place finish. They have every reason to feel confident as well having spent over €300 million (!!!) in the past two seasons, and on paper their squad is ridiculous – can we really beat this team to the league title?!
Despite Xadas pegging back instantly following a Yann-Aurel Bisseck own goal, the quality of 34 year olds Messi and Suarez is too strong and Barcelona leap frog us to go top of the league going in to December with a 3-1 win – FELIZ NAVIDAD BASTARDOS!! (Inigo’s words, not mine 😆).
’tis the season..?
Bouncing back seems to be our thing as we smash Real Sociedad 3-0 in San Sebastian. We advance to the Copa Del Rey 5th Round courtesy of a Hat-Trick from forgotten man Dejan Joveljic who for some reason reminds me of a young Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez both in looks and playing style, and because of that I seem to play him in the exact same role he had when he was at Man Utd – usually bringing him on as a Poacher but rarely starting him as I don’t feel he is strong enough to lead the line as a Lone Striker.
We follow that up with a 3-0 win against Malaga (Brenner (2) & Sancho) and then beat Zenit St. Petersburg 1-0 with a second string team as we already know that we have been eliminated from the Champions league. The good news is that we will at least get to continue our European adventures in the Europa League however it’s not much consolation after we had started so well in Group G and somehow finished like this:
All of a sudden it’s Christmas and while the island rings out with cheers of Feliz Navidad, we’ve really gone from High to Dry as we finish the year 2021 with two boring draws in La Liga – another stalemate this time against Real Betis is followed up by a 1-1 draw with Espanyol, and we really seem to struggle with the amount of games we have had to play considering our relatively small and inexperienced squad.
Happy f*cking Christmas 🎄
In all the Christmas excitement and Champions League carry-on, we’ve had an absolute ‘mare in the transfer market before the window has barely opened. In case you weren’t aware – Spanish clubs have to include a Minimum Fee Release Clause in every contract offer, which gives players and agents far more power when it comes to contract negotiations. Little do I know, we’ve still got Antonio Marin on a contract he signed at the start of last season which includes a €20 million release clause – just as we recover from our fourth Christmas on the island, there’s a knock and the door and Inigo passes us this message:
When we renewed his contract the lad was only 19 and we thought nothing of agreeing to a €20 million release clause, not expecting anyone to pay it any time soon – I WAS WRONG 😩.
We are literally powerless to stop it – the board have to accept it, the kid isn’t gonna say no to a move to the Nou Camp and within 3 clicks Antonio Marin agrees to sign for Barcelona and is en-route to Catalonia to be paraded in front of “Los Cules”; so long and thanks for all the assists!!
What more can we say – f*ck release clauses! January will be an interesting month as we look to strengthen our squad, especially now that we’ve lost Marin and only have Sancho and Xadas as our wide options – hopefully by the time you read my next post we will have a few new faces in and can close the gap on Barca at the top of La Liga!! Thanks for reading as always – please hit Follow below to stay updated on our progress, or drop me a follow, comment or retweet on Twitter at your leisure! Take it easy 👍,MaddFM aka Paul.