The Mighty Saints

Nov 5, 2017
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Usually just play with Man United or Man City or generally just big rich teams but got quite bored of this so said I'd try and find a sleeping giant down the leagues. Well look no further than the mighty saints. Southampton is a club with massive potential for growth if you can navigate your way back up to the Premier League.

I'm just heading into the fourth season now and everything is in place to do something special. Have lived mainly off lots of pretty epic free transfers but in the 3rd and now fourth season I've started to splash some cash(not without some consequences!).

You don't need to really spend much in the first season as Southampton are far too good for league one but I did make a lot of free transfers and loans just to beef up the squad a bit.

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Alex Smithies was of course the first port of call, a tremendous keeper for this level and the Championship. The full backs were the Ghanian Yakubu(FT) and Cunningham on loan from Man City. Fonte formed an excellent partnership with the West Ham loanee Holmar Ejjolfsson which was the bedrock for a very solid defence. 2 more frees Basinas and Richetti rotated the ageing DM slot with Morgs playing most games in CM. Puncheon was recalled from his loan to rotate the right wing slot with the Ox, Lallana on the left with Kaltenberg (FT) his back up. In AM Guly De Prado had a productive season with 14 goals and 11 assists in the league but can be a highly frustrating player. Up front was the main man Ricky of Lambertshire who was backed up at different spells by Guidetti and Wickham(Loans) as Barnard was injured most of the season.

So to be honest the first season was an absolute doddle but we did poorly in the cups going out in the 1st round of the Johnstone's paint trophy to fellow League one side Swindon and second round of the league cup against Championship side Reading. We did manage to make it to the third round of the FA Cup where we were drawn away to Championship opposition Nottingham Forest, but my refusal to change from the attack minded approach that had us dominating league one lead to a 6-3 tonking. The league was a different story though!<)

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So now in the Championship our predicted media finish I believe was 18th but I was quite confident with the right signings we could push for promotion. I had been tracking some higher profile players whose contracts were winding down and come the 30th of June i got a very nice surprise.

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On loan came two young French full backs with bags of potential Appiah and Digne, the Brazilian CB Toloi from Man United and Jack Collison. They added to the great free additions of Italian midfield destroyer Blasi, our new #10 Cani and young Italian hotshot Destro. Later in the season I even managed to convince Michael Owen to join the promotion push, gotts to love the auld take it or leave it contract offer!

But the most exciting addition came in the shape of a nice looking regen from our very own academy. Here he is in my 4th season still only 18!

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The season started with a backs to wall smash and grab 1-0 victory away to Derby which was followed by 2 more wins before our first league defeat in 49 matches (Arsenal anyone!) at home to Brighton. After this we went 12 unbeaten in the league which had us battling with recently relegated Premiership side Fulham for top spot. We made it through the first and second rounds of the league cup before being beaten at home by Premier league Birmingham 2 zip. We got to the 5th round of the FA cup beating fellow Championship sides Sheffield United and Blackpool but Stoke away was where we met our match 2 zip again 2 Walters screamers grrrrrrr.

I blame the defeat to Stoke on the fact that our team was wrecked after a huge win away to Fulham where we played the last 20 odd minutes with ten men and picked up a few key injuries to Appiah, Cani and De Prado. The main man Blasi filled in at right back in what was a tactical setup which took about 30 minutes before I was happy enough to confirm the changes. Lots of time wasting(6).

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After the FA Cup defeat 10 wins from our remaining 13 fixtures meant that we had smashed our predicted finish and won the League. We could now look forward to playing with the big boys in the Premier League! How about Pompey by the Way?!

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So now finally in the Premier league I knew we would need some serious additions if we were to hold our own so once again I had been tracking some fine players whose contracts were close to expiring but was not expecting too much. Amazingly though some real quality players had become free agents with nobody attempting to sign them before their deals finsihed. Feast your eyes on these beauties!

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Somehow we had managed to get our hands on the Spanish GK Asenjo, the solid Senegalese CB Diakhate, the CB Caceres who had left Barcelona no less, the Brazilian midfield maestro Fernandinho from Shaktar as well as proven premier league players in Russian wing wizard Yury Zhirkov and Man City's SWP. As for the tranfer budget that was spent on bringing back the two French full backs Appiah and Digne and CB Toloi who had all spent last season enjoying themselves on loan with us(And now all had Southampton as one of their favoured clubs) on permanent deals. Azpilicueta also joined on loan but the icing on the cake was when I spotted that Alan Dzagoev's contract would expire on the 1st of January so in one last wreckless bit of budgeting I went full David O Leary and gave him his 33,000 contract and while only having to pay a small compensation fee to CSKA.

So the board were not too happy with our finances and we were now 150,000 thousand over our weeky wage budget and had spent every penny of the tranfer budget but I had evil intentions for this season and our media prediction of 19th! Also our plans for new training facilities were scapped (oops) and midway through the season the board took out a 19mil loan even though we were actually making a profit every month and were gradually erasing our negative finances.

So we started our Premier league campaign with two draws against Wolves and Fulham before a tough defeat at home to a strong Everton side. But we bounced back to win 3-1 win at Bolton with academy graduate Davies bagging a brace with his first goals in England's top flight at the tender age of 17. Next was a battling display away to Mega rich Man City where we took an early lead thanks to a rocket of a free kick from Fernan the Man Dinho only to be eventually beaten 2-1.

After this we won 6 of our next 9 Premiership games as all our new players started to gel and we were in a very good looking top half spot after 14 games. But tough times were to follow as we went to Old trafford and were taught a lesson in a 3-1 loss. And more pain followed with two stinging defeats at home to Villa and Newcastle. We needed a confidence boost so perhaps it was the perfect time to face fellow promoted side Reading. Well yes, yes it was!

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So now with confidence restored we headed into our toughest task yet, away to unbeaten runaway league leaders Arsenal. For the first time in my tenure at the club I decided this called for a big change in our tactics. I switched from attacking to counter strategy and moved our defensive line deeper. The plan was to have explosive pace out wide with the two young Frenchmen at fullback and Zhirkov and SWP as wingers to counter quickly.

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Well the tactics worked, an inconceiveable 3-0 win at the Emirates had our fans in dreamland, Zhirkov setting up two and scoring the third for his man of the match award!. We were now firmly in the mixer for a European place after a predicted finish of 19th having just been promoted. Dzagoev joined and we won our next 4 matches including away to Sunderland in the FA cup and were looking strong. But two defeats against Everton and Man City followed to bring us back down to earth.

But what followed was a mighty 16 game unbeaten run which would amazingly put us in contention for a champions league spot as well as taking us all the way to the FA cup final. In the middle of this run came a tricky looking 4 games LIV A, CHE A, MUN H, MUN(FA). But we managed two draws with LIV and CHE before beating MUN 2-1 at St Marys. Prior to the FA cup semi against MUN they played the 2nd leg of their champions league quarter final against Shaktar which they lost 3-2 on agg. So I expected to see a slightly tired MUN side at Wembley but instead I was greeted by quite a surprising line up from Fergie.

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So thats Rafael, Ferdinand, Vidic, Carrick, Fletcher, Rooney, Hernandez and Berbatov not even in the squad. Needless to say they were dispatched comfortably 4-0!

We lost our last two league matches of the season but results in other fixtures meant we had somehow clinched a 4th place position after being widely predicted to go straight back down. We faced off against Man City in the FA cup final but unfortunately we couldn't make it 3rd time lucky against Rafa Benitez's side as we succumbed to a 2-0 loss. Still despite the heartbreak of a cup final defeat I knew we had had an absolutely massive campaign and we could look forward to rubbing shoulders with some of the real European Heavyweights next season...as long as we get through the qualifiers!

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Now lets see whose contracts are expiring...

So I've managed a few nice signings so far

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Trying to get Nigel De Jong on loan from Man City as he is transfer listed, it's between me and Villa but there is one player I have my eyes on big time!

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Hopefully he will eventually negotiate with me before some big team team comes and swoops in(or before I blow the rest of my wage budget getting Gago on a free!)
 
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Nov 5, 2017
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More Freebies!

So I've snapped up a few more high profile freebies while also moving on some guys that are sadly no longer in my plans(Morgs and Fonte)

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The squad is looking very nice now

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Also had a major upgrade of most of my staff but annoyingly forgot to give Marco Rota a take it or leave contract offer which would have given me at least 4.5 stars in all training categories and Everton swooped to nab him. Massimo Neri(free agent) won't listen to any offers either(Winning the FA cup final might have increased the club's rep).

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Gotta give a big shout out to this Dunc fella for his training schedules top stuff.

We were 25 mil in the red but a few sales have brought than number down and have planned some high profile friendlies against some top European sides in preparation for our first champions league campaign. Still have 200K wages left over to try and get Gerrard if he will ever listen to my offer! Not that I really need him but **** it I want to bring him to the saints! Hopefully the gate receipts from the 5 good friendlies, the premier league tv money and champions league money kicks in in time for our new training facilities(can't get scrapped twice).

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Nov 5, 2017
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Hello Europe!

So the first international break has come and I thought this would be a good time for a progress update. The 5 friendlies went well with just one defeat against some top sides. We are unbeaten through the first 5 games of the season and qualification for the champions league has been achieved by beating Sampdoria over two legs. Only two goals conceded from 5 games with Jones and Toloi forming what looks to be a great young partnership.

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Sanogo's arrival has given us much more options formation-wise so I decided to match Sampdoria up playing 4-4-2 as I felt we were the stronger team overall and I wanted to have a good go at them at home in the second leg.

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Lovely stuff! So now with qualification assured I put the kettle on, rolled a cigarette and awaited the draw.

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Pretty tough group but I was happy to avoid group 2 and having beaten Lyon in pre season and playing Atletico off the park but somehow losing 2-0 I'm confident we can continue to over-achieve. I suppose being unseeded any group is going to be tough.

Our last game before the international break was away at St James Park and I decided to stick with the 4-4-2 as Dzagoev was still recovering from a knock and we had looked good in that shape against Samp.

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We fell behind despite dominating the first 20 minutes but the lads responded instantly with Digne spinning expertly from a Azpilicueta long throw and smashing it home. Zhirkov then scored an absolute beauty running the length of the pitch before rounding Krul to make it 2-1. Sanogo added a third with a powerful finish before Davies came on and scored a peach of a free kick from a fair distance.

So now we sit 2nd in the league and the bank balance is just 4mil in the red. I have scouted some nice looking regens but will wait until January to try and get them as I want the finances to be okay to finish the new training facilities and the ground capacity is being extended also. I feel we need some more quality in the wide positions with SWP getting on now and Lallana not quite being up to the premier league level.

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The left mid looks sick bet his strength is quite low so he would have to work on that with me. Hows about the right winger on loan?, I could use a shot of Smirnov out on the right!. Means I would have 3 Russians in midfield with himself, Zhirkov and Dzagoev, so I'm sure that would help him settle in nicely. Gerrard still wont listen to any offers but strangely nobody is showing any interest in him and I still have another month and a half to make free transfers so not giving up on him, checking every few days to see if he will negotiate.

I'll show some of my tactics if anybody is interested

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I generally stick with the same tactics but sometimes change formations and will only change the strategy to counter if I am playing away from home against a very strong side, while also moving my defensive line deeper. With Jones now added I feel him and Toloi are quite capable of defending with a high enough line. Also do a lot of player instructions making sure to adjust things like the amount of closing down each of my mids and especially my strikers do. All my strikers tackling is set to normal, while Sanogo only closes down in his own half, Destro does a tad more just while Davies is set to full as he is driven and very energetic.

So that's all I've got for now will post more once I get to around December/January I think. If anyone is reading out there hope your enjoying it and any feedback will be appreciated. Cheers:)
 
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