A.C. Milan - Becoming the Greatest


Nov 26, 2019
Reaction score
AC Milan: Becoming the Greatest


Make no mistake; this is a long term challenge. The aim of it is clear: for me, become the greatest manager to ever exist, and for AC Milan, become the world's greatest ever club. In beginning this save, I am abandoning, at least for now, my Tottenham save that had just got into its second season. I have spent some time managing overseas and found it a lot more enjoyable than I do managing in England, in part because I have done a lot of managing in England.

Manager Rankings.png

Sir Alex Ferguson leads the managerial rankings currently, having a wide margin of over 1,000 points over Pep Guardiola in 2nd. Pep could overtake him during the course of the save, though, and we have our work cut out to match Ferguson's haul of 17 league titles, 14 domestic trophies and 8 more to go with it. Even getting into the Top 8 will be a massive achievement that will take us some time.

Club Coefficients.png

Milan Coefficient.png

As for the club coefficients, and we sit all the way down in 45th. Milan are a club on the up, though, so we should hopefully be able to climb our way up into the Top 20 clubs soon enough. Overtaking the top clubs will be extremely difficult if not impossible, because they'll continue to win trophies as well. A club like PSG, especially, you imagine, would continue to dominate Ligue 1 and therefore their coefficient will only grow.

Those are the main two objectives, but we've also got a couple of other rankings to look into building...

European Nation Rankings.png

One of those is the Italian national team, who are currently ranked as the world's 7th best footballing nation. We are planning to sign predominantly Italian players in order to work toward building Italy as the greatest worldwide. Perhaps one day we could even look at taking over the national team job.

Nation Club Coefficient.png

The other is the Serie A as a competition. It sits 3rd currently behind Spain and England, and the German league is close behind and becoming stronger. Again, it will be a challenge but this should tie in with our attempts to make AC Milan the world's greatest club. The more continental trophies we can win, the better the league will become.
Last edited:
Squad Overview


The obvious number one here at Milan is French goalkeeper Mike Maignan. He has been an elite level goalkeeper in real life during his time at the Italian giants and is entering the prime of his career. He should be here for the better part of the next decade barring unforeseen circumstances.



At left-back, Theo Hernandez is the clear standout. The French international is a terrific player who, at just 24, has the potential to become truly world class. On the right-hand side, Davide Calabria is a solid right-back who can still grow and will be a decent option for us whilst Pierre Kalulu continues to develop as the back-up to him.



In the middle of the defence, and the main man is the English centre-back Fikayo Tomori. Much like Hernandez, he is already a key player and being 24 as well, has plenty of room to still grow. Simon Kjaer will be an important player for us in the early stages of this save, with his experience and know-how key to leading a backline in which he is the oldest player by quite some way. As for youth, and Malick Thiaw is the brightest prospect, he may or may not be loaned out depending on whether I feel we have the depth to be able to do so.

Centre and Defensive Midfielders

As for the midfield, and the standouts in this area are Sandro Tonali and Ismael Bennacer. They're both accomplished midfielders who can play defensive midfield or step up into the centre of the park. They'll be key to how we run things during games. Charles De Ketalaere is a versatile player who can also play up front and is just 21, so he's one to keep an eye on for sure.



As for the wing positions, and the right-hand side of our attack is probably our weakest area on the pitch. Alexis Saelemaekers can play anywhere down the right flank but is not necessarily a proven attacking threat, whilst Brahim Diaz will probably start for us and hopefully he can perform. 31 year-old Junior Messias isn't a bad player by any means, but he doesn't quite match up to the star power present in some of the other positions. For example, over on the other side, and 23 year-old Rafael Leao is an electric winger who can cause headaches for any defence and will be a key part of our attacking arsenal this campaign.


Up front, it's more a case of the old guard, with the two main strikers being 40 year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic and 35-year-old Olivier Giroud. Unfortunately, Zlatan begins the game with a 2 month injury, but Giroud is a perennially underrated striker who is a proven goalscorer.​
Looking forward to seeing how Leao does for you! He is probably one of my favourite players in the world right now....think he will be an absolute superstar in the future!
Looking forward to seeing how Leao does for you! He is probably one of my favourite players in the world right now....think he will be an absolute superstar in the future!
He certainly does have the potential to be world class, and I have to say I'm pretty excited to see how he fares as well.
We had a budget of around 16 million to spend, but we hadn't spent any of it by matchday one.

One thing to note before getting into this save is that I don't have a real names fix. Therefore, I'll just have to deal with clubs being referred to as Parnethope (Napoli) and Salento (Lecce).

Matchday 1.png

We got an opening day victory against Fiorentina, where we Ismael Bennacer was the key in the midfield, providing assists for both of the goals. They managed to pull one back but we held out, even scoring a beautifully constructed 3rd goal which I was disappointed to see ruled out.

We then faced up against Sassuolo a few days later...

Matchday 2.png

…where we laboured to a frustrating 1-1 draw. In truth, we did not play particularly well today, but I was hopeful that Rafael Leao's first-half goal could be enough for three points in a tight contest. A brilliant strike from outside the box from Kristian Thorstvedt, however, saw the game finish level.

Over the next few days, we finalised our first and perhaps only transfer of the window.

23 Aug.png

Young right-winger Samuele Vignato comes in for around 6 million. I felt we didn't need first-team reinforcements this window, even with the highlighted lack of star quality on the right hand side. Vignato is a right-winger and has plenty of potential to become our starter in the future.

23 Aug ii.png

As I stated in the opening post, we are looking at having a predominantly Italian squad, and Vignato certainly fits that criteria. His older brother also plays in the league, for Bologna, and hopefully Samuele can follow in his footsteps and establish himself as a regular Serie A starter.

It was then time for the Champions League draw.

Champions League.png

We got drawn in a decent enough group, and one that we should be able to make our way out of. Chelsea will certainly be a test, but Bayer Leverkusen and Trabzonspor should be winnable fixtures. We'll have to ward off complacency in those games, though.

We then had our final game of the month, facing Salernitana at home.

Matchday 3.png

We eased to a 2-0 victory with a brace from Olivier Giroud. We were the better team for the entire game but struggled to find a second goal, that was up until they had a man sent off, and we capitalised soon after, with Giroud notching his second to confirm the victory.

Thiaw loaned out.png
Adli loaned out.png

We loaned out Malick Thiaw and Yacine Adli close to deadline day, and they'll spend the season away at other clubs as they look to continue their development by getting more first team football.

Tactical Notes
The early signs suggest we are quite effective in the air. We've won the 5th most headers at the 4th highest efficiency in the league, displaying our aerial prowess in the early stages of the season.

Here's a couple examples of our goalscoring that relate to that:

vs Fiorentina:
Giroud vs FIO.png

Just by getting numbers in the box, we give ourselves a good chance of scoring. We overload on the right-hand side, with Calabria outside the picture slightly, and Bennacer drifts from midfield to give the Fiorentina defence another man to have to defend. All the players sit just in front of their defender, giving themselves a good chance of winning the first header, and that's just what happened, with Giroud finishing it off.

vs Salernitana:
1st goal vs SAL.png

This time the cross from deeper on the field of play, but once again we have multiple players lining up to be on the receiving end. Our tactic is set up to get a lot of crosses into the box and so far this has been working out to perfection, even if it has been just three fixtures.

One other tactical observation is the prevalence of attacking full-backs. I've instructed both our left-backs and right-backs, often Theo Hernandez and Davide Calabria, to push up whenever possible and get up high on the field.

vs Salernitana:
2nd goal vs SAL.png

Davide Calabria provided our assist for the second goal against Salernitana and caused headaches throughout the game. It's an example of the overload we are able to produce along the flanks and ties into freedom in the box for crosses to come in, as it draws defenders out of position, leaving more room in the middle.

Player of the Month

Olivier Giroud scored 3 of our 5 league goals, and was the deciding factor in our victories. He has fit the system perfectly and his elite heading ability is a key element to our success. Long may it continue.

League Table
League Table.png
There was no denying that September would be a difficult month, we had both Lazio and Juventus in the league, and our opening two Champions League fixtures.

3rd Sep.png

We opened up the month, though, with a convincing 2-0 win over Lazio, dominating the proceedings for the majority of the game. They'd just come off a thumping 4-1 derby win over Roma that would've boosted their confidence significantly, but we managed to nullify the attacks which they did have, and at the other end displayed the clinical touch necessary to get us three points.

Our attentions turned quickly to Europe, where we had Trabzonspor in our Champions League opener...

6 Sep.png

At half-time, it looked like it might just be one of those days. Their only shot, a thunderous effort from outside the box, had gone in, and we failed to convert at the other end. However, a clumsy challenge gifted us a penalty early in the second half, and from then on we were able to take control of the game, winning 3-1 in the end.

Away form in FM23 seems worse than ever, so Juventus at the Allianz stadium was not going to be an easy task, regardless of their slow start...

10 Sep.png

And so it proved, as we lose our first game this season, going down 2-0 to Juventus. It was a close game, we dominated the early stages, but they hit us on the counter and we looked deflated after that. Maybe it's tactical naivety or stubbornness, but I just have not been able to generate any away form in the game this year, in any of my saves. I understand that it is obviously harder than a home game because of the support and all, but I always see a major discrepancy in the way my teams play at home compared to away. Hopefully, we can improve that soon.

Back in the Champions League, and we'd have to be careful against a Bayer Leverkusen side that managed a surprise 1-0 victory over Chelsea in their opener...

14 Sep.png

Well, forget everything I was just saying about away form, because we put on an absolutely scintillating performance to win 4-0 against Bayer Leverkusen! Goals from Tonali, Saelemaekers and a brace from Rafael Leao did the damage as we played with the energy, pace and desire that was not present in the loss against Juventus.

Our final game of the month was away to Sampdoria.

18 Sep.png

We round out September with a win, defeating Sampdoria 4-2. We had an early scare going down 1-0 to a penalty, but we responded by scoring 4 goals in the next half hour to be up 4-1 by half-time. They pulled one back, but it was nothing more than consolation, as we ran out comfortable winners in the end.

Tactical Notes
There's only really one thing I want to draw to attention this month - and that is Rafael Leao. I had his role set to an inside forward with an ttack mentality, perceiving that his ability to come inside with speed and precision could get him plenty of goals.

Form 2.png
Form 1.png

However, as you can see, playing in that role, he was hit and miss. He scored just the one goal in 5 starts, and struggled to make a major impact in most of them.

With that in mind, I switched his role, keeping an attack mentality, but making him an inverted winger instead.

Form 3.png

And it has worked a charm, with Leao netting 4 goals in his last two games. Yes, he struggled against Juventus, but I'd almost excuse that and say that everyone struggled in that game. In the next two games, though, he was absolutely on fire. The one downside, perhaps, is that he expends a lot of energy because he's a lot more active on and off the ball. Therefore, he's been withdrawn before 60 minutes in both of those games. His stamina will improve as he develops in the role, though, I'm sure.

Player of the Month
Tommaso Pobega.png

Perhaps not the expected choice, but Tommaso Pobega has been reigned supreme in midfield for us this month. He actually missed the game against Juventus due to fatigue, but if you look at the form in the bottom left, it's basically a straight line of consistency. He sits at the base of our midfield three and has been superb there, and deserves this recognition for his performances so far.

Champions League Table
Champions League Table.png

No idea what's going on with Chelsea in this group so far, as they lost 2-0 to Trabzonspor after the opening defeat to Bayer Leverkusen. It gives us confidence that perhaps we can finish top of this group after all.

League Table
Serie A Table.png
First up this month was the biggest match we've had so far - the Derby della Madonnina. I did all I could to motivate the players and get them up for the big occasion, and now it was up to them to deliver a performance worthy of the grandeur of the fixture itself...

1 Oct.png

And they did exactly that - running out comfortable 3-0 winners! We were in control from the first minute to the last, and fully deserved what goes down as a fantastic victory and easily my biggest to date given that it is against out biggest rivals.

However, as a collective, we couldn't let it get to our heads, because we had an important Champions League fixture against Chelsea just a few days later.

5 Oct.png

Wow! I know Chelsea lost their opening to games, but never did I expect to absolutely thrash them 5-0 in this game. We have started this month in perfect fashion with two massive wins, and we gave a devastating second-half performance, scoring 4 goals in the space of 25 minutes to put Chelsea to the sword in this one.

8 Oct.png

Back in the league and we comfortably beat Cremonese away, despite having a man sent off with 15 minutes to go. We scored 2 goals in 16 minutes, which meant that we could pretty much see the game out for the remainder. A rash challenge from Pierre Kalulu means he'll miss the next game - but that was the only downside in an otherwise comfortable performance.

11 Oct.png

We manage to beat Chelsea again through an early goal from Pierre Kalulu, who redeems himself from his red card in the league. This match ensures our qualification and Chelsea's elimination, although the former is the more important matter for us, Chelsea being out of the competition is certainly a surprise.

12 Oct.png

We currently lead the Italian national team production - although only Davide Calabria remains at the club of those produced players. It's the kind of thing that we want to continue throughout this save by bringing through the bulk of Italy's next generation.

16 Oct.png

In a tough fixture up against Atalanta, we fall to a narrow 1-0 defeat. They dominated us until the 56th minute red card, which saw the tables turn. We really should've scored off the chances we had in the rest of the game, but perhaps we didn't deserve it given how we played when it was 11 v 11. I won't be too hard on the boys for this one, though, they've been electric this month so far and a tired performance was bound to happen.

22 Oct.png

We rebounded quickly by putting 4 past Lecce in our next game. If I'm being honest about it, this was not a 4-0 game. Lecce had chances, goals ruled out and goal line clearances to ensure we maintained a clean sheet. They should've definitely scored at least one goal, but we were absolutely clinical at the other end - a good sign given how we were found wanting against Atalanta.

And then, with everything looking up, this happens...

25 Oct.png

A devastating blow - both for the club as a whole and obviously the player himself. Rafael Leao picks up a 7 month injury that means he's out for pretty much the rest of the season. He had been brilliant as of late, and although Ante Rebic is a decent left winger to replace him, he simply does not possess the firepower and ever-growing quality that Leao is proving he very much has.

26 Oct.png

We needed just a point to confirm top spot in the group, and we got exactly that. With a rotated squad, I didn't expect much from the team, but they played decent, albeit lacking a cutting edge. Trabzonspor lost to Chelsea anyway, so we would've confirmed top spot regardless.

29 Oct.png

In our final game of the month, though, it was a repeat result, as we once again drew 0-0, this time a much more frustrating result. Ever since I went on that little mini rant on away form in FM23 in the previous post, we've won all our away games and only dropped points at home.

30 Oct.png

The one silver lining in Leao's injury is that he is now willing to sign a new deal. Before, other clubs were circling and he was not willing to re-sign, but due to a long term injury, they've backed away. The one hitch is the 81 million release clause which he insisted upon - it's not ideal because, in my eyes, Rafael could easily supersede that value.

Tactical Notes

The players in focus this month are those undergoing positional shifts.

Take a look at Sergino Dest's early season form as a right-back:


It's fair to say he was solid, but unspectacular.

Now, here's his recent form, playing on the left hand side:


Looking at the games he's played at left-back, he's been phenomenal. In 3 of the 4 games, he's notched an 8.0 or above rating for the game and been seriously impressive. He seems to love running all over the field when he's on the left-hand side and that makes him difficult to handle for opposition defences.

The other player who has excelled in a different position is Pierre Kalulu. Now, this has been across the entire season, but has carried over into this month.


Compare the following statistics for Pierre:

Games at centre-back: 7
Average rating: 6.86

Games at right-back: 7
Average rating: 7.91

Over 1 average rating point difference goes to show just how much more effective the Frenchman has been at full-back. It gives us a positional dilemma, although not a bad one necessarily. Theo Hernandez and Davide Calabria, our natural left and right-backs, have also been playing well, and the former is obviously a key player, so it's not easy to drop them from the team. We'll have to see what happens.

Player of the Month

Not an easy choice, but Dest has been impressive in Hernandez's absence through suspension. An impressive month for just about everyone, it has to be said, but I was pleasantly surprised with how good the American has been for us so far - and in big games too. I'd go so far as to say he was the main difference up against Inter.

Champions League Table
UCL Table.png

League Table
League Table.png
With the World Cup coming up soon, it was just the three games this month, beginning with our final Champions League fixture, away to Trabzonspor.

1 Nov.png

Given that we'd already guaranteed top spot in the group going into this game, I rested most of our key players. Still, it was an extremely disappointing second half performance but I won't make too much of it.

UCL Table.png

The final table saw us finish top by a single point, but it was more comfortable than that, to be honest. We were great this group stage and hopefully we can progress at least to the quarter finals, if the draw goes our way.

4 Nov.png

Back in the league, and an Olivier Giroud hat-trick guided us to a 3-1 victory over Spezia. Brahim Diaz set up all three goals and it was really a game with two standout players and not much else. They both tore the Spezia defence apart, and, whilst they did cause us trouble at the other end and were well worth a goal, it was our clinical edge that made the difference.

7 Nov.png

Well, I'd hoped that finishing top in our group meant we'd face a 2nd placed team that we were capable of beating, however we've been drawn against the competition holders, Real Madrid. This is an extremely tough ask for us, but if we want to prove ourselves and improve our stature as a club, these are the types of tests we have to overcome. It probably won't happen in our first season, though.

8 Nov.png

All of the clinical finishing that was present in the Spezia game disappeared as we laboured to a bore draw against Bologna. The World Cup break might just have come at a good time for us because we've looked tired this month, in stark contrast to some of the electric performances we put in last month.

12 Nov.png
12 Nov ii.png

We then made back-to-back sales that will go through in January. Both Fode Ballo-Toure and Junior Messias came to me with an ultimatum - play me or sell me. So, with that said, they've both been sold off to new clubs because I simply couldn't offer them starting minutes.

Tactical Notes
The main talking point this month is goals from corners. We scored two in one game, with Diaz twice finding Giroud, who duly headed it in. The striker is a constant threat from set pieces, but specifically from inswinging corners.

Goals from Corners.png

We are tied 1st for goals from corners with Napoli, who are 1st in the league, and have scored 10 goals more than us. That means that just under 12% of their goals have come from corners, whilst for us, the number is closer to 17%, making corners an important aspect of our goalscoring.

Assists Per 90.png

Moreover, Brahim Diaz and Sandro Tonali, our two primary corner takers, are two of the league leaders for assists per 90 minutes. They're ability to deliver the ball has contributed massively to our effectiveness in this department.

However, whilst we are proficient from corners, we aren't from free-kicks. We haven't scored off a free-kick, either direct or indirect, and shows that we need to become more versatile in our delivery. We are great at corner deliveries, but we struggle to find an AC Milan head when delivering from elsewhere on the pitch.

Player of the Month

Giroud was pretty much non-existent in two of our three games this month, but the one he did perform in is enough to earn him our player of the month award. The 36-year-old has an amazing league goal record, averaging a goal a game with 12 from 12 in Serie A. For a player of his age to be scoring goals with such frequency is quite the feat, and hopefully he can keep it up.

League Table
League Table.png
At the World Cup, and we had a couple of players pick-up winners medals for France...

18 Dec.png

That included Olivier Giroud, who scored the winning goal in the final against Switzerland.

19 Dec.png

Mike Maignan also picked up goalkeeper of the tournament, conceding just two goals in the entire competition.

17 Dec.png

Our youth intake is projected to be excellent this year. Considering the challenge, this is great news because building the future of football in Italy will help us improve the stature of the league even further.

Now, as for the January transfer window, and I was worried. All of Fikayo Tomori, Alexis Saelemaekers, Davide Calabria, Ismael Bennacer, Tommaso Pobega and Pierre Kalulu had significant interest from elsewhere.

2 Jan.png
2 Jan ii.png

Just two days into the window, and I'd already had to reject two bids. Newcastle came in with a massive 60 million pound offer for the 22-year-old Kalulu, but I decided to turn it down. There just isn't anyone on the market I can get to replace him that would make this a good sale. All the options are either too expensive or not good enough.

League football returned with a difficult away game against Roma.

4 Jan.png

And so it proved, as we went down 1-0, after they scored what proved to be a winner just 15 seconds into the game. We created little until the final 15 minutes, where it proved to be too little, too late for us and we succumbed to defeat.

6 Jan.png

Newcastle also came in for Fikayo Tomori, but I had no problem rejecting the bid, simply because Tomori is an elite centre-back who will continue to get better. Unless he tries to force a move, there's no pressure on me to accept any offers that come in for him.

7 Jan.png

We get back to winning ways, turning around a 1-0 deficit to beat Torino 2-1. Olivier Giroud has proven not just to be a hero for France, but also for us, and proved so again, scoring a brace to guide us to victory in this one.

10 Jan.png

Having just spoken about how important Tomori is for us, he will now miss around the next month of football or so.

11 Jan (3rd Round).png

We manage to find our way through to the next round of the Coppa Italia, thanks to a terrific finish from Ismael Bennacer. It wasn't the most convincing performance, but it was enough to see us past Monza.

12 Jan.png

One player who did force a move was the Belgian winger Alexis Saelemaekers. I wanted to keep him around but he expressed his desire to move on to a new club, and so he's off to Tottenham for just under 30 million.

13 Jan.png

The situation was the same for right-back Davide Calabria, who is also off to join Tottenham for a similar fee.

15 Jan.png

We then endured a disappointing 1-1 draw with Hellas Verona in our next match. Our performances this month have been poor overall, and we've struggled to create the level of chances we are accustomed to.

We then had the Supercoppa final, facing off against Inter.

18 Jan (Supercoppa Final).png

We beat them 3-0 in our first meeting, but this time, they ran out 3-0 victors and collected the silverware. To gift a trophy so easily to our biggest rivals is really disappointing, and we'll need to perform a lot better in big games if we're going to get anywhere with this save.

22 Jan iv.png

Back in the league, and it looked like we were going to come away with a narrow 1-0 win against Empoli, however, they grabbed a late equaliser to take a point away from us. The performance was much improved and we should've scored more than one, but the result remains disappointing.

22 Jan.png

We then activated Sassuolo midfielder Davide Frattesi's release clause to bring him to the club and add depth to the midfield. The Italian is still just 23 and already quite a talented player - hopefully he proves to be a good signing for us.

22 Jan ii.png

Frattesi is a well-rounded midfield, who we can shift further up or down the pitch in order for us to get the most out of him.

With just 1 win in our last 5 league games, now was not the ideal time to face 1st placed Napoli, who were still unbeaten in the league this season.

25 Jan.png

But the boys came up with a huge performance - becoming the first team this season to defeat Napoli in Serie A! It was a huge, morale boosting victory that completely shifted the mood in the dressing room as a result. We played so, so well today and deserved the victory. It would be unfair of me not to mention Olivier Giroud yet again, as he scored both goals to once again lead us to a win.

28 Jan ii.png

We managed to get our second win against Monza this month, this time coming through a 3-1 triumph in the league. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been featuring off the bench as he returns from injury, and he managed to get a goal in this one, scoring from the penalty spot to ensure our victory.

28 Jan.png

Unfortunately, it came with another injury. Left-back Theo Hernandez will miss at least the next 3 weeks after twisting his ankle in the Monza match.

31 Jan.png

It was now deadline day, and after repeated to sell Divock Origi failed, it is our other left-winger that departs, with Ante Rebic off to join Lazio in a fairly cheap deal.

The reason I needed to make a sale was so that we could bring in another left-back.

31 Jan ii.png

That would be Empoli's Fabiano Parisi, another signing made by paying a release clause. There are so few Italian left-backs that are good enough for us to bring in, so Parisi comes in as he was really the only viable option that would actually constitute a good signing for us in this position.

31 Jan iii.png

Parisi looks like he's capable of getting forward with real quality, boasting good dribbling, acceleration and pace. He should get a chance to impress straight away with Hernandez having gotten injured.

Player of the Month

We lacked consistency across the board this month, so it makes sense that I give the Player of the Month award to our most consistent player who played well even when we struggled as a unit - Theo Hernandez. Now, unfortunately, he did get injured in our final game of the month, but he has been superb all season long, and the Frenchman only stepped up even more this month.

League Table
League Table.png
We began the month with a Coppa Italia fixture, up against Juventus in the quarter-final.

1 Feb (Coppa Italia Quarter Final).png

Having lost to them 2-0 in the league earlier this season, we recorded a 2-1 win to take us through to the semi-finals of the competition. Divock Origi looked set to leave last month, but after a move failed to materialise, he proved the hero here, coming off the bench to score a brace and turn the game around.

5 Feb.png

It was another close game, but, thankfully, another win. Youngster Samuele Vignato was only called up to the senior squad last month after right-wingers Junior Messias and Alexis Saelemaekers both departed, but he came on and proved the difference, netting the winner on 78 minutes.

8 Feb.png

We ease past bottom placed Salernitana next, earning a 2-0 victory. We rotated the squad slightly, but still had enough quality to see them off and continue our perfect start to this month.

11 Feb.png

We couldn't make it three clean sheets in a row, conceding inside a minute, but we thankfully recovered well to turn around that early setback and win the game.

We then had the first leg against Real Madrid, and it would be away from home at the Santiago Bernabeu...

15 Feb ii.png

We were completely outplayed by a Madrid side with much more quality than us, and they could've won by about 5 goals today...

15 Feb.png

...so perhaps we did a good job to restrict them to just the 2 in this one, with one also coming in stoppage time. If we'd have come away from the game with just a 1-0 defeat, I'd give us more of a chance in the second leg, but I think we'll struggle to turn this around against such an elite side next time out.

18 Feb.png

The lack of attacking pressure from the Madrid game carried over into a 0-0 draw against Sassuolo. We did threaten more, but were wasteful in front of goal, leading to a disappointing result.

18 Feb ii.png

Divock Origi was the hero earlier in the month, but he couldn't provide heroics again, missing an 84th minute penalty that could've given us a vital three points in this one.

With that game behind us, we now embark on a massive five game stretch where we face Lazio, Inter, Real Madrid, Juventus and Atalanta. This will be a massive test of our quality and mental strength, and we'll need a good set of results from these games if we're seriously going to challenge for the title.

25 Feb.png

It didn't get off to the most convincing of starts, though, as we went down 2-0 to Lazio. They've been the form team in the league recently and it showed, as they put us to the sword and were the superior team across the 90 minutes. We'll need to improve fast if we want better results to come our way over the next few fixtures.

4 Mar.png

We came up with a huge win in the Derby Della Madonnina in the league yet again, turning around 1-0 deficit to win the game 2-1. We played a much better game of football after struggles across the past 3 games, and deserved to win this one. Tempers certainly flared after Inter went behind, with them having two men sent off late in the game.

7 Mar.png

We gave it a good go in the second leg against Real Madrid, but it just wasn't to be. I mentioned earlier how it would've been great to keep them at just the 1 goal in the first leg, and we probably would've taken this to extra time if we'd done so, because their late equaliser was only a product of us having to push men forward and leave ourselves open at the back.

12 Mar.png

It was another big result, this time against Juventus, and again it finished 2-1. For 60 minutes, we were brilliant and could've scored more than the 2 goals we did get. For the next 30, we switched off completely and Juventus had a flurry of chances that could've seen throw away that 2 goal lead. Thankfully, we managed to hold on and come away with another important victory.

19 Mar.png

We were unable to make it three vital wins in a row, losing 1-0 to Atalanta. We played poorly in this one and deserved to lose, but it would've been great to just hold onto a point because Atalanta do sit above us in the table, instead of remaining level on points with them, we now are three points behind them.

22 Mar.png

We then had our youth intake announced, and, whilst it was projected to be an excellent one, it is instead just a 'good' intake. There are some good, young and high potential players here, for sure, but there isn't necessarily one or two standouts that look like special talents.

Player of the Month (February-March)

Sandro Tonali was consistent as ever in midfield for us across a difficult, tightly contested run of fixtures. He was the cool head in the centre of the park and produced some great performances in big games across the last two months.

League Table
League Table.png
The table was beginning to get tighter and tighter, with Napoli starting to stumble after their electric start. We had to take advantage of that as best we could, and had to win the majority of our remaining games if we were to win the Serie A title.

2 Apr ii.png

So it was good to see us begin with a comfortable enough victory against Lecce, winning 2-0. The second goal didn't come until the 90th minute, but it should've come much earlier, because we were by far the better team but failed to convert off most of our chances. Thankfully, Brahim Diaz was the exception to our profligacy in front of goal, and he netted a brace to win us the match.

2 Apr.png

It came with the news, though, that Sandro Tonali will be out for the next 4 to 5 months after breaking his lower leg in the game. To lose our best midfielder who was off the back of his best month for us this season is a huge blow, but it makes the January signing of Davide Frattesi all the more crucial.

We then turned our attentions to the Coppa Italia, where we went up against Bologna, who we will face three times this month.

5 Apr (Coppa Italia Semi Final).png

The first leg, also the home leg, went according to plan, in another 2-0 win. Brahim Diaz is seemingly leading the way for us this month as he scored once again, whilst back-up midfielder Rade Krunic came off the bench to score the all important 2nd goal for us.

8 Apr ii.png

With Tonali out injured and Pobega out through fatigue, both Krunic and Frattesi stepped in and delivered the goods on the way to a 3-1 victory. Both of them played fantastic and it proved the difference because Empoli gave us a good test in this one, but we've managed to pull through.

8 Apr.png

What we didn't need was another injury, though, but it is exactly what's transpired, as right-back Sergino Dest will miss between 3-6 weeks with a twisted ankle. With every fixture vital from here on out, we'll be desperately he's back within the 3 weeks instead of the 6.

15 Apr.png

We managed to earn another comfortable win, beating Cremonese 2-0. Brahim Diaz scored yet again, this time after Charles De Ketelaere had opened the scoring. The Belgian forward has featured more regularly for us with Olivier Giroud's form disappointingly falling off a cliff.

23 Apr.png

We manage another win against Bologna by the same scoreline, but this time in the league. Davide Frattesi again proved to be a goalscoring midfielder with a tidy finish before young winger Samuele Vignato sealed the result.

26 Apr (Coppa Italia Semi Final).png

We do in fact lose the second leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final, but not by enough of a margin to change the fact that we progress on aggregate. Whilst it was on edge from the 8th minute onwards, we controlled large portions of this game and should really have levelled the scores at the very least. Regardless, we progress to the final, where we'll play Atalanta.

30 Apr.png

Our final fixture of the month ended our run of wins in Serie A and blemished our perfect league record this month. Roma were the most difficult team we'd faced this month, to be fair, and so it proved, with the game finishing in a scrappy 0-0 draw with few good chances.

Player of the Month
POTM ii.png

Brahim Diaz can consider himself hard done by not to win this, but Davide Frattesi has stepped up massively in the absence of Sandro Tonali. His composure and consistency has meant that our midfield has not been too heavily affected by such a crucial player being out injured.

League Table
League Table ii.png
3 May.png

We began the month with a comfortable 3-0 win over Spezia away from home, although it did take us a while to get going. A good way to get started, and Rafael Leao came off the bench in his first game after his long-term injury, and scored a great goal from outside the box to wrap things up.

5 May ii.png

5 May.png

With five games remaining, the top four is separated by just a single point. It is ridiculously close and there are some massive fixtures upcoming, the biggest of which sees us take on Napoli on the final day of the season.

8 May.png

This was the kind of game that can define title winners. Having had a men sent off in the 15th minute, we battled throughout this game, but it looked like it would be crucial dropped points that would see us slip up in the title race, until Brahim Diaz stepped up to take a 92nd minute penalty and win us the game. Vital.

13 May.png

After that inspiring win, we fell to a devastating 2-0 loss to Udinese away from home. They are the surprise team of the league this season and put us to the sword, as we looked like a team that had put everything into their previous game and had nothing to offer in this one.

21 May.png

If we still wanted to win the title, we had to put that result quickly behind us and we managed to do just that, responding in style by thrashing Hellas Verona 5-0. Charles de Ketelaere was the man of the hour in this one, netting a remarkable four goals in a big win for us.

23 May.png

We then had an opportunity at a trophy as we faced Atalanta in the Coppa Italia final. We'd lost one final already this season, and I was determined not to lose a second...

24 May.png

But that was exactly what happened, as we lose 1-0 in the final and miss out on a trophy. Atalanta have been our nemesis this season, beating us every time we've played them, and they continued to do so. They deserved it, and it's a tough one to take.

28 May.png

We finished the month with a routine victory over Monza and kept ourselves well and, due to results elsewhere, that was enough to see us go top heading into the final game of the season...

Final Fixture.png

This game is title deciding. If we win, the title is ours. If Napoli win, the title is theirs. If we draw, we could still win the title, but Atalanta would probably take it if they win on the final day. It's an incredible scenario, and we'll be praying we can come out on top.

Player of the Month

Brahim Diaz has been sensational for us lately and was so again this month, delivering in both the goals and assists departments. What a player he's turning out to be for us.

League Table
League Table.png
So, it was time to play the all-important clash against Napoli.

Elmas Goal.png

Things did not get off to the greatest of starts, with Eljif Elmas scoring in the 18th minute to put Napoli ahead.

Disallowed Goal.png

We continued to push for an equaliser, and had the ball in the back of the net on the 68th minute mark, but Charles de Ketelaere's goal was chalked off for offside.

4 Jun.png

And although we pushed and pushed for a goal, it just wasn't to be. The title slips out of our hands in devastating fashion on the final day, and Napoli win it instead.

League Table.png

We drop down to 3rd after Atalanta won on the final day. We can still be proud of putting up such a close fight after it looked like Napoli would run away with it in the early stages of the season, but to finish this season trophyless after competing in two domestic finals and having the title in our hands going into the final day is not good enough. We need to improve in big games and it's something we'll try to address for next season.​
The season was a good one, but the difficult part to swallow is the fact that we've come out of it with no silverware, and in a challenge like this, that is what is most important for coefficient points, especially as a manager.

Best Goalkeeper.png

Mike Maignan had an excellent season, and our backline was especially good in the second half of the campaign, and the French keeper fully deserves the Goalkeeper of the Year award. He's had a fantastic year all round, winning the World Cup and being the best goalkeeper in that tournament too.


As for the other accolades, and Brahim Diaz was the other notable name, with the 23-year-old winning our Young Player of the Year. He really made the right-wing spot his own after Alexis Saelemaekers left the club in January and came up with some vital moments for us across the season.

Moments to Remember.png

As for our best results, and the 3-0 derby win over Inter certainly springs to mind. We definitely put in some terrific performances across the season and we'll hope to play a similar brand of football next season as well.


Our finances look strong after the season's end and that can only be a good thing.


Our starting XI endured a lot of change across the season, but overall, the players in it performed with consistency and quality. I'm nervous about the bids that might come in for some of our big name players in the summer, but we'll do our best to keep the core of this team here for as long as possible.

20 Jun.png

And my fears were soon realised, with Tottenham yet again taking away one of our players. Pierre Kalulu had become a fan favourite in the right-back spot but he's off after forcing through a move to Spurs. We massively need to improve our stature from being the 45th biggest club in the world because we cannot keep hold of players. I'd say we're on a similar level to Tottenham in terms of ability but they're stature in the game means they have that extra pulling power to lure our players away.

27 Jun.png

Tommaso Pobega does likewise, forcing through a move to the Premier League as well. He's off to Liverpool and the reliable midfielder will be missed. He may not have always grabbed the headlines, but he was as reliable as anyone at the base of our midfield. At the very least, it's a much better deal than the 6.5 million Bayern Munich offered us in January for him.

30 Jun.png

Onto some incomings, though, and we moved quickly to bring in Brahim Diaz and Sergino Dest on permanent deals. They're release clauses were less than their value because they both had good seasons, and given their importance to us last season, we had no hesitation to bring them back on a full-time basis.

7 Jul.png

Rotational midfielder Rade Krunic is next out, off to Roma for a fee just under 5 million. At 29 and with his contract up at the end of the coming season, it felt like the right time to cash in on him and we've done so.

9 Jul.png

This one might come as a bit of a surprise because Simon Kjaer started for us last season, but he wanted the move and is declining at the age of 34, so even though the fee is small, the cut to the wage bill is important for our finances.

11 Jul.png

We tried to sell Divock Origi in January with no success, but now we manage to find a buyer for him and he'll be joining Sevilla for just over 7 million. He never really performed for us and I felt that it was time to let him go.

12 Jul.png

Olivier Giroud will join Simon Kjaer at Madrid after leaving for 1.6 million. Giroud scored 18 goals in the first half of the season and then 0 in the second, eventually leading to him being taken out of the starting line-up toward the end of the season. I'm thankful for his goalscoring ability in the early stages of last season, but with the goals drying up, I was happy to sell him.

Despite letting a lot of players out the door, we signed just two players across the window, not including, of course, the permanent acquisitions of Diaz and Dest.

16 Jul.png

The first is a massive risk, signing young centre-back Diego Coppola for a massive fee of 74 million pounds. It's a ton of money for a largely unproven player, I know, but the Italian centre-back market is minimal, and he was really the only one available that seemed worth going for.

16 Jul ii.png

Hopefully, we'll look back on this and the fee will look like a bargain. Coppola won the Young Player of the Season award for Serie A at Verona last season and possesses all the requisite qualities to be able to push on and become an elite centre-back.

With that deal done, I thought to myself that the only way to respond to potentially overpaying for a player was by overpaying for another player...

9 Aug.png

So with that said, in came young midfielder Fabio Miretti. We had to pry him away from Juventus for nearly 60 million, and this has the makings of a very transitional season at the club. I wanted to look at some more experienced options, but the market for Italian players was again, quite limited.

9 Aug ii.png

Miretti has wonderful potential and I think he has the ability to grow quickly if he's given the right game time. Obviously, at Juve, a lot of his appearances came off the bench, but I'm willing to give him a lot of starts and that should accelerate his growth.

Well, that was our window, and it very well may upset some to see who I've let go and the players I've brought in. It's a lot of faith to place in young players, but I'm praying that it all comes together and that I'll end up looking smart for spending 133 million on two players under the age of 21.​