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Welcome back or Benvenuto as we say here in Northern Italy. If you are new here and are wondering what’s going on (just like me in this save), then perhaps you should quickly pop back to read Chapter 1 of this series where we introduced our next big FM21 adventure on this blog and with it a rebuild at I Rossoblù aka Bologna FC, who play in Serie A in Italy. Our reasons for being here are simple – this squad is made up of a small handful of quality players that are good enough to lead this club forward into the future, while the remaining majority are a selection of players that are too old or not good enough for our ambitions, and as such mean that an instant rebuild is needed to compete in a league that is rapidly becoming one of the most competitive in Europe when you look at the likes of Inter, Juventus, Napoli, Milan, Atalanta, Roma, Lazio and Fiorentina all showing the ability to compete at a very similar level over the past season or two and you could argue that any one of them could compete for a Scudetto title next season.
Our mission is to bring Bologna into the same conversation – taking what can only be considered as an aging outdated squad and completely pulling it apart as we look to rebuild the club in our own image. “Scudetto Gospel” suggests some form of righteous street-justice when it comes to how we will approach this save and our overall philosophy/playing style and to do that we will focus on bringing in a blend of fiery, experienced/proven quality players that are good enough for this league (i.e. the street cred) combined with some more raw up-and-coming talent (i.e. the new crew) whom we will look to sign and retain at the club for years to come #thestreetsneverforget.
To do that however we will need three things – (1) some decent cash moneys, (2) approval from the elders in terms of sharing our ambition of rising to the top of Italian football and (3) a right hand man to handle all things “chat shit get banged” related.
Finances: not great. Club vision: not overly ambitious. Assistant Manager: Legend, or at least he used to be – not many people can say they are a legend of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Swansea City. Good attributes though so hopefully he can fill in the gaps between our own Managerial ability (which we set to Professional Footballer at National Level) and what will be needed to succeed at this level.
So far so good, let’s hit Continue shall we?
No sooner had we clicked the Continue button then all hell broke loose. After identifying Orsolini as one of three players around whom we would build this team (alongside Tomiyasu and Hickey), Chelsea landed in with a £14m bid for him – in my haste to start thinking about potential transfer targets and budgets I had neglected to look at renewing contracts for our existing key players. ROOKIE MISTAKE 🤦♂️. We of course flatly rejected it, however what proceeded effectively sh*t all over our future plans and transfer priorities accordingly:
Chelsea make another bid of £16.25m which our board intervene to accept on our behalf (great thanks lads)
We protest and convince them to reject it and they duly agree (insert Thug Life meme here)
Chelsea return with an £18.25m bid; fearing the worst and not trusting our board at all, we decide it’s best to take matters into our own hands and see can we negotiate a serious deal seeing as our board are incapable of doing so
Chelsea didn’t seem to be giving too much away in terms of his up-front transfer fee, however we manage to agree a £20m fee with a 50% next sale clause included. That’s not even 50% of the profit made – we are talking half of whatever Chelsea sell him on for at any point in the future in this save. RESPECT THE BUSINESS. As Matt in our Discord channel put it:
A very good deal, 100% of the cash going into our transfer budget bringing it up to £28m million, not to mention that future clause however now our priorities need to shift slightly knowing we now need an AMR in addition to a Striker and a Central Defender (I’d take a goalie too if I got it). If Fabrizio Romano were here, you know what he would say…..
Orsolini’s replacement and our first arrival comes in the form of a loan-signing – most if not all of you will know the name but having never managed him in Football Manager and watched very little of his time at Milan so far in real life, fingers crossed Jens Petter Hauge can quickly make the Bologna fans forget about what’s-his-name that moved to Chelsea. With a £20m option to buy included (even though we probably will never afford it), nice to keep our options open should the opportunity present itself.
Balance restored somewhat, meaning now we can get back to our main focus area which is a Striker considering our only current option is 38-year-old Rodrigo Palacio. As much as elderly strikers seem to love life in Serie A (Fabio Quaglierella likes this), he simply won’t cut the mustard in this save so our mission is to replace him with a much younger more powerful, athletic, explosive, mobile and overall instinctive Striker within our new €27m transfer budget. The biggest challange is interest – after being turned down by the likes of Marcus Thuram, Josh Sargent and Ivan Toney who has technically only just signed for Brentford at the start of FM21, we finally find our man:
Size, speed, energy, athleticism, instinct and above all the lad is Irish – a £12m fee is agreed (50% up front & 50% over the next 3 seasons) to make Adam Idah become the first Irish international to make the move to Serie A in 20 years, since a young Robbie Keane moved from Coventry to Internazionale for £13m in 2000 to make him the most expensive Irish player ever at the time. At just 19 Idah has bags of potential especially looking at his Pace, Finishing/Composure, Off the Ball and Heading/Jumping Reach – expect Idah to be our Number 9 for years to come at Bologna.
Next we did something that one should try to avoid in Football Manager which was to follow the heart and not the head, however you’ll see why it was impossible not to. While searching the “Slightly Interested” player selection to get a gauge on the calibre of player we can attract to Bologna in it’s current state, a name popped up which as soon as I read it overcame any aspects of common sense or logic that I held previously about our transfer targets. Go big or go home; we did.
Despite being relatively stacked in midfield, the opportunity was too hard to miss as 17-year-old Yunus Musah signs a 5 year deal after we agree a £17m fee with Valencia (also 50% up front). The more honest/reasonable part of me thought twice about this deal knowing that the chances of something similar happening in real life are highly unlikely, however as discussed in Chapter 1 this save is not about rules or restrictions as has been the case with my previous series’ at Furth and Angers; we are here to make an impact now within the confines of Football Manager and as one @FMDoop has professed repeatedly on the 5* Potential Podcast – “If the game allows it then it’s fine”, and for the first time in a few versions of FM we will happily go along with that and have a bit of fun in this save.
That’s about half our budget spent already and we still have gaps at the back. Initially I really wanted a Centre Half, I mean really really wanted one – however the signing of Musah meant that affordability was a slight issue with about £12m left to spend, as was finding a player of real quality rather than a temporary stop-gap. In Takehiro Tomiyasu we have a world class defender who can equally play at RB or DC, and with 32-year-old Right-Back Lorenzo De Silvestri still in decent shape at least for another season we decide to instead turn our attention to the Goalkeeper position. I mentioned earlier that I wasn’t overly content with our current first-choice option Lukasz Skorupski who at 29 has gaps to fill and is unlikely to improve.
Now he maybe could have been good enough for our first season at least, however as you can tell patience and decision-making are not my strong points and while scouting the Turkish league as one naturally does in a new Football Manager save, the decision was pretty much made for us.
Admittedly I hadn’t heard too much about Uğurcan Çakır individually however the recent strong performances by Turkey in their Euro 2020 qualifiers during which they took 4 points from World Champions France definitely drew my attention and looking at this guy’s ability and potential, it was another easy decision to make after Trabzonspor accepted a €14m bid for the Turkish #1 (50% up front once again). As Goalkeepers go he looks as strong as we could have hoped for, and hopefully he will make up for a slight lack of quality ahead of him until we can lure a new Centre Back in future.
Jens Petter Hauge
That’s most of our transfer business wrapped up although a bit more “street cred” would have been favourable – very happy with our incoming transfers even though we are finding it harder to offload some of our unwanted players. Perhaps not so favourable is the fact that we will have to pay out £7m every year for the next 3 seasons due to the future installment deals agreed, these guys better be worth it! Let’s get down to business 🔥.
Atalanta BC vs Bologna FC
Sunday 20th September 2020
Time sure flies when you are having fun and don’t realise the game start date and league dates are a bit messed up due to Covid – by the time our transfer business is complete, our league opener away to high-flying Atalanta is upon us. Having just qualified for the Champions League our opponents are clear favourites to win, but can our new look albeit youthful side cause a surprise at Stadio di Bergamo? Six players make their Bologna debuts with Adama Soumaoro playing his first league game for the club since joining from Genoa on loan, Aaron Hickey coming in to make his Bologna debut with Mitchell Dijks still out with a broken foot, while all four of our new signings make the starting XI in a 4-1-2-3 formation. HERE…WE…GO…
That was…disappointing! A distinctly average performance in which Adam Idah came off injured on his debut saw an outstanding defensive display from Atalanta, and Josip Ilicic’s goal on the brink of half time was enough to pick up 3 points for the home side. Our lack of cohesiveness definitely showed as did our shortage of creativity and clear-cut chances, fingers crossed we can get this squad gelling rapidly in the coming weeks otherwise we may be in for a tricky start to life at Bologna. Positively, Uğurcan Çakır looked very strong in goal saving 6/7 shots attempted and picking up a 7.3 rating however as for the rest of them, a lot more needed going forward as we lacked any real threat on goal. Our thoughts now move to our next game at Home to Sassuolo who also have been flying high in real life (curse you Manuel Locatelli) – tune in next week to see if our opening day defeat was simply an early slip up rather than a sign of things to come!
As mentioned in Chapter 1, I will be aiming for weekly/bi-weekly blog updates however if you would like to get involved sooner and/or catch real-time updates and sneak previews I will be doing so via the WeStreamFM Discord (#scudetto-gospel) and via FMSlack (#MaddFM). You can also hit the Follow button below as well as hit me up on Twitter if you have any thoughts or recommendations for this save, and catch me most Mondays talking FM nonsense on the 5* Potential Podcast.