Suggestion: Blogs aren’t made to be read in Twitter WordPress reader – click here to read in it’s original format if viewing on a mobile device.
If you have arrived here having already read the first two chapters of our series at Bologna FC then you will know that we had just recently lost our opening Serie A game away to Atalanta having brought in a number of new signings including Adam Idah (Norwich), Yunus Musah (Valencia), Uğurcan Çakır (Trabzonsor) and Jens Petter Hauge on loan from Milan, with the overall consensus being that we had spent the €20m earned from Chelsea for Ricardo Orsolini pretty well all things considered (overall being myself and new Assistant Manager Michael Laudrup – his nickname was the “Prince of Denmark” so surely he knows what he is talking about even if Lord Bendtner might not be so agreeable) .
Unfortunately squad gelling and dynamics, they’re a thing! Our squad overhaul and injection of fresh blood right from the beginning meant that we struggled to get going at the start of this so called Scudetto Gospel; big time.
Now before you get the torches and pitchforks going, hear me out. This is an aging side that finished 12th last season, and we’ve landed in and uprooted all they have known for the last few years – bringing in what is basically a group of kids and chucking out a number of thirty-something year-olds who are literally old enough to be their fathers. A narrative starts to whisper in the ears of Bologna players, staff and fans alike…
Let’s look at the positives and negatives. Positively, Yunus Musah looks the real deal even though after scoring twice in a debut friendly against Werder Bremen he hasn’t really done a whole lot since. Despite winning only one game in five, we haven’t conceded more than one goal in any game with new signing Uğurcan Çakır looking like a top quality signing between the sticks. Roberto Soriano has been a bit of a surprise entity looking more than capable as an Advanced Playmaker or Shadow Striker, so something to build on there for sure.
On a more negative note – with Adam Idah being ruled out for 7-8 weeks after being taken off injured in our league opener, we haven’t looked like scoring much at all bar that 3-0 win over Parma so the sooner we can get him back the better. We’ve all heard the line “you can’t win anything with kids” but this is Football Manager. We live for wonderkids. Youth are the future, right?
2 games later……..
Ok. It is ok right? Maybe it isn’t. Seven games in and we’ve still only won once, losing embarassingly to Hellas Verona in our next game (1-0 again) and then picking up a 0-0 at home to Udinese. WHERE ARE THE GOALS LADS?! At this point I’m reminded of a quote from the movie Snatch: “Tommy, the tit, is praying. And if he’s not, he f*cking should be“.
Now I’m not one to panic, however it’s clear that goals are a struggle – even if Adam Idah is due to return, I feel we can’t overly rely on the 19-year-old Irish international considering he is pretty much unproven at the start of FM21. As we approached the end of the transfer window, things start to happen.
1. AZ Alkmaar arrive in with a £9m bid for Mattias Svanberg who is a Swedish international midfielder with fairly average attributes in a position which we already have plenty of cover.
2. While listening to the Ranks FC podcast, my attention is drawn to a goal-scoring machine currently plying his trade in the MLS with Seattle Sounders who have been the side to watch in North America in the last few seasons.
3. Svanberg agrees a deal and we receive £9m cash straight into our transfer budget adding to the £6m left over following the Orsolini deal.
4. We go shopping…
We said we wanted to bring in some players with a bit of street cred – at the very least he looks pretty hard, and having scored double figures in pretty much all of his previous seasons in Peru, Mexico and USA I’m hopeful he can adapt quickly and bring that same goal scoring instinct to Serie A even if it is a huge jump in level. At 30 years old for £5.5m, if we can get 10 goals out of him he will be worth it for the sake of a season or two. WE MARCH.
We started with yet another defeat to Cagliari before things finally started to improve (I’m choosing to ignore an extra-time exit from the Coppa Italia at the hands of Cremonese). Ruidiaz scored on his debut for the club in a 1-0 over Crotone, before the return of Adam Idah inspired a 4-0 thumping of Sampdoria who on paper have almost a better squad than we do. Enter December and the fun begins – games against Lazio, Roma, Milan and Inter put the fear into all of us however apart from a hammering away in Rome, we actually held up ok and managed to pick up 6 points from 5 difficult games.
2021 arrives with a double header in Turin. A 2-0 win over Torino fills us with confidence, Ruidiaz finally picking up his second goal albeit from the penalty spot. This sets us up for easily our biggest test of the season..
Juventus vs Bologna FC
Wednesday 6th January 2021
Ronaldo and Dybala up front. Chiesa and Bernardeschi out wide. Kulusevski, Morata, De Ligt and Cuadrado on the bench. Feeling confident?
AN IRISHMAN SCORES AT JUVENTUS!!! We held them well in the first half, however a poor 45 mins from Ruidiaz results in a half-time substitution, and Adam Idah clearly wants to make a point that he should have started by scoring straight from the kick-off – BOLOGNA GO ONE UP IN TURIN! From there the heroics ensued, Cakir in goal putting in a Man of the Match performance however the sheer power of Ronaldo levelled things as he scored a trademark header to put it one apiece and that’s how it finished. One has to feel like that would be a turning point for us, and it led us on to a 4-1 win over Spezia in the next game, however we then went on to encounter not one, not two but THREE straight defeats all of which ended in a 1-0 scoreline. Seriously, what the hell is going on?
By the end of January and with 21 games played, we find ourselves in 10th place in Serie A and still trying to figure out exactly what is going wrong at Bologna. Defensively we are solid, outstanding in fact and the likes of Cakir, De Silvestri, Tomiyasu and Hickey all have been collectively very strong at the back. Our problems are most certainly on the attack – up front we could be better with Idah and Ruidiaz bagging 8 goals between them, however more disappointingly our other attacking players have been atrocious in terms of creative output and goal contributions. On the right-hand side Jens Petter Hauge has been hugely disappointing since arriving on loan from Milan, picking up one assist with a 6.5 average rating across 20 games; while on the left hand side, we’ve mixed between Musa Barrow and Emanuel Vignato however similarly neither have really found any consistent form with 2 and 3 assists respectively. Summary: our Strikers are good enough, our supply is not and that becomes our main priority with 3 days left in this transfer window. Looking at our budget we can stretch to about £9m on an Attacking Midfielder or Inside Forward – will we be able to afford or attract someone good enough with this?
Two days to sort out this mess – let me know your recommendations either on Twitter or in the comments below! You can also get involved and catch some sneak previews via the WeStreamFM Discord (#scudetto-gospel) or on FMSlack (#MaddFM).
Be sure to hit the Follow button below to be notified of our next episode, and of course you can also catch some of my other Football Manager content either on WeStreamFM.com as well as most Mondays on the 5* Potential Podcast.