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The saga continues! When we last left off we had just kickstarted our second season at Bologna with a narrow 1-0 win at home to Benevento having gone through a serious overhaul in the off-season bringing in no fewer than 8 summer signings and spending the bones of £90 million in the process after raking in some £65mill in transfer revenue through player sales. That meant a much improved if not revamped and unfamiliar squad list as we braced ourselves for much tougher opening games against Fiorentina, Lazio, Napoli and Inter – f*ck me Serie A is competitive.
Let’s be clear – this is a much much different squad than the one that was here two seasons ago when we took the reigns at Bologna, having offloaded the majority of the existing squad and done quite well in terms of player sales and subsequent replacements. What this does mean however is that our squad dynamics are again up in a heap with squad and tactical familiarity at a minimum – having said that, ZERO SH*TS GIVEN – this is Scudetto Gospel, we are here for a good time not a long time 😎.
They say patience is a virtue and although it takes a while, we finally start to see the likes of Simeone and Stengs contributing while Brian Brobbey also picks up where he left off at the end of last season. Stengs in particular has been immense with 2 goals and 5 assists in his first 10 games. Some shaky results in August and September culminate in a 3 game winning streak and by the end of October we find ourselves in 4th place after 10 games played.
By and large things continued to go our way which is rare for me to say on this blog. So far we had been leading with Giovanni Simeone in the loan striker role, with the Argentinian far from prolific bagging 6 goals by the time Christmas came around. It was at this point that our young Irish striker Adam Idah whom we signed for €12m last season from Norwich decided enough was enough and seized his chance scoring 6 goals himself in just 4 games – leading us on an excellent run either side of a single defeat to title holders Milan. With 20 games played as we reached mid-January, are we brave enough to start thinking about possible Champions League qualification?
Wouldn’t you know it – Stengs who has arguably been our best player this season is ruled out for 3-4 months with a broken foot and this added to injuries for Yunus Musah, Ianis Hagi, Orel Mangala and Musa Barrow means our midfield is suddenly a depleted force as we move towards the business end of the season. You’d like to think our squad depth is enough to see us through however we are forced to play the likes of 17 year old NnamdiCollins at DMC and 18 year old Nico Williams on the left in addition to bringing in Denswil and Vignato, and overall the impodus which we had been carrying since October seems to vanish in the haze as we pick up one point from our next 3 games.
With zero cash in the bank and just a hint of despair in Bologna, we need a loan signing. Fast. The problem is that we are already above our wage budget with no room to manouvre in our transfer budget, so something has to give. With one week to go until deadline day, we push the button and a series of events unfold:
1. We allow Lorenzo De Silvestri to join Royal Antwerp on a free with only 6 months left on his contract, freeing up £29,000 per week in wages.
2. Backup keeper Lukasz Skorupski is Qatar bound with Al-Gharafa paying us £325k for his services (contract also up in the summer)
3. We sign 21 year old Christian Fruchtl on loan from Bayern to replace him, only having to cover 50% of his £8k weekly wage.
4. We then sign this man on loan to bolster our broken midfield ranks 🔥.
Dutch speedster Jayden Braaf arrives on a 6 month loan deal from Man City, almost a like-for-like replacement for Stengs and he will hopefully be able to add that spark we are missing with the likes of Hagi and Stengs out injured. I say hopefully – the kid goes on to score on his debut so naturally I am the greatest manager that ever lived as we proceed to go unbeaten in February and March including an epic 4-4 draw against Inter! Most importantly – ADAM IDAH CAN’T STOP SCORING and somehow we are still clinging on to that 4th place position with 30 games played, breathing heavily down the necks of Inter and Juventus ahead of us.
Meanwhile on a completely unrelated but equally relevant sidenote…..
While this year’s Youth Intake was nothing short of abysmal, you may recall we had two very promising candidates come through in last season’s intake – Giandomenico Scaglioni and Giacomo Gatti, the latter of whom scored 28 goals for our U18 side this season and is coming on nicely in terms of development. We focused on strength and quickness regimes for Gatti as well as developing traits of moving into channels and going around the keeper in 1v1 situations, and at 17-years-old he looks like he could push for a first team spot in a few seasons time. Here’s a question – would you loan him out or keep him here to continue influencing his development?
8 games away from Champions League football. 8 games. Surely not. Actually, probably not once we realise that we have back to back clashes with Roma, Juventus and Milan 🤦♂️. At least we can be sure of 3 points against bottom of the table Citadella…
Well sh*t. Fair enough losing to Roma and Juventus, and hell – kudos to the boys for beating defending champions Milan to stop them winning Serie A for a second consecutive season (at least for another game anyway). But Cita-f*cking-della, I mean really. This combined with a defeat to Udinese allows Napoli to creep up into 4th place where we have sat since before Christmas, and suddenly our Champions League hopes are on the line with just two games remaining against 11th place Sassuolo and 8th place Atalanta, while Napoli face off against Sampdoria and Genoarespectively. Time to find out if the boys from the mean streets of Northern Italy have what it takes to swag their way into the Champions League Group Stages.
Adam “f*ck this I’ll score 4 goals and a 10 rating” Idah picks up his second hat-trick of the campaign to demolish Sassuolo, his 4th goal coming courtesy of an absolute pristine finish from the 19-year-old Irishman. That £12m prize tag is looking decent value right about now!
Meanwhile over in Naples, Sampdoria have beaten Napoli 2-1 to all but guarantee Bologna a place in the Champions League with the gap now at 3 points. We head into our last game knowing that a point will be enough to confirm 4th place, while Napoli know that anything but a win and they will have to settle for Europa League football next season. Let the games begin!
In the least emphatic of finishes – a red card for either side means we both end up losing our final game of the season, but WE CARE NOT as Bologna finish 4th in the 2021/2022 Serie A table and will play Champions League football for the first time since losing a European Cup qualifier to Anderlecht in 1964! Milan win their second successive Scudetto trophy while Inter pip Juventus to finish in 2nd place. Adam Idah‘s excellent form in the the second half of the season means he finishes our top scorer with 21 league goals in 26 appearances, and overall it’s another fine season at Bologna in which Ugurcan Cakir was outstanding in goal (sign him, seriously) as well as great signs from young players such as Hickey, Collins, Musah and Mangala along with new signings Mingueza, Stengs and Hagi (Mingueza on loan from Barcelona but with a £7m optional fee that we might just meet if the funds are there).
The challenge we now face is cash. With Mingueza, Correia and Braaf all returning to their parent clubs we need to do some serious recruiting if we are to compete in Europe this season. Despite picking up £15m in prize money which brings our overall balance to £9m in total, the board only allocate about £4m of this to our transfer budget so we are in a bit of a predicament…having sold pretty much sold everyone we want to sell there’s only one thing to do…
Thanks for reading – hopefully you are still enjoying FM21 as much as I am with this save, if not get on over to WeStreamFM.com where you can find plenty of inspiration for your next FM journey with about 4 months still to go until FM22 might come out. We have also been discussing some FM save ideas on the 5* Potential Podcast so be sure to give it a listen.
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