Welcome back! Well I’m really pleased the majority has approved of the new club, Austria was the one nation I wanted to manage in during this save and it’s just as good as I hoped it would be! If you haven’t read the previous post I seriously suggest you go back and take a look.
So the first season is down, it’s been a great start but could I instantly turn around the fortunes of Rapid Wien after a dismal previous season where they ended 4th.
As always let’s firstly take a look at the transfers. I mentioned I wasn’t going to go mad and disrupt the team straight the way but there were areas I needed to improve in. Central Defence was the main issue as we only had 2 first team players and no one in reserve or youth.
I did let a few players leave both at the start of the season and in the winter break.
The only first teamers to leave were Wunsch (LW) and Nuno (GK) both complained about lack of game time so gave them their wish and let them go.
So let’s take a look at who came in.
I did have a bit of money to spend but I didn’t want to do “A Lokeren” and bring in too many players and mess up the team cohesion. So what I did was bring in players on loans/frees to bolster the depth in areas that we were short in.
Emre Sivrikaya – Attacking Midfield – Free Transfer
With only Kogler as a decent first team AM I needed a back-up, I do have lots of young AMs but none currently were good enough to step up. Emre was there on a free and will come in to rotate with Kogler during the season. He looks great but at 31 won’t be here for a long time, just filling a gap until the youngsters improve.
Gianni Mengozzi – Central Defender – Free Transfer
I mentioned before I had a shortage of CBs so Mengozzi has been brought in to add depth to that area. He looks a good quality strong tall centre back and will provide good back up to Lederer and Schiener.
Rafarl van der Meer – Defensive Midfield – Season loan from AZ
I do have a couple of decent young DMs but I just felt I could do with an extra body in that area for a season or two to not put too much pressure on the young guys. Van der Meer looks really good, has great mental and physical attributes and will be vying for a starting spot this season.
Arlindo Moreno – Central Defender – £800k from Leiria
The only cash purchase and a really good deal in my eyes. Moreno is only 22 so has plenty of time to improve and this season will be back up but I have big plans for him and feel as the other CBs move on he will push on and become one of my major players moving forward.
Mohamed Ziani – Left Wing – Season loan from Lyon
I decided in January to bring a couple of extra players in on loan. Ziani was brought in to replace the outgoing Wunsch and will be provide backup to my star man Althauser on the left wing.
Michal Houska – Striker – Season loan from Slavia Prague
Another mid-season loan and my god this guy is awesome. My strikers really weren’t doing the business in the first half of the season. I had 3 and only 1 was doing anything. My young hope Holzer had been very poor so I sent him out on loan and brought this guy in to fill the gap. My god he had storming second half of the season, I’ll talk more about him later!
So transfer business done I guess we better see how we got on!
I suppose we better start with the most disappointing aspect of the season and that was the Cup, in the last post I said this was the competition I felt we had best chance of winning and I was going to go full strength in every game.
The first and second rounds were relatively easy as we coasted past firstly St. Veit (3-1) and then ESV Parndorf (2-0) which put us into the last 16 round.
Where we were given a home tie against First Division side Austria Lustenau, we played some of the worst football I’ve seen in the whole of this series and deservedly went down 2-0, a disgraceful result and a few players got dropped permanently, some of them just didn’t deserve to be called footballers!
So an awful start to this competition but there’s always next year!
Austrian Premier Division
I set myself a target in the previous post of 2nd as I didn’t think we could match Salzburg with our current squad. How wrong I was! We had a pretty decent start to the season with the odd little blip and at the mid-season break we found ourselves top of the league by a point from SV Reid and 2 clear of Salzburg. With the new striker brought in we found some good form and at the end of the regular season we sat 4 points clear at the top.
Then came the split, 12 teams down to 2 groups of 6, this was great until I found out that all points gained during the regular season were halved so our 4 point lead had shrunk to 2!
10 games left where we had to play all of the top 6 twice, it went OK but we had 2 really poor defeats, coupled with 4 wins meant we headed into the final 2 games of the season 1 point clear of Salzburg.
Then came what could have been the title decider. Salzburg away, a win would see us lift the trophy, a draw would put us one step closer, a defeat would see us head into the final game needing a miracle.
It was clear to see in the opening minutes that they were going to go for it, they went full on attack and after 13 minute a quick counter attack saw them 4 on 3, a neat passing move found Enstrom and he tapped in from 6 yards to put them in the lead. We tried to push them but they held on firm until the 40th minute when we won a corner and a equalised with a beautiful header from on-loan striker Houska.
Closing in on half time and we just needed to hold out but a shocking defensive error sent Ba clear, he squared it to Enstrom who once again has an easy tap in to put them 2-1 ahead.
Into the second half and we couldn’t make any chances, they were all over us and extended their lead when Ba was fouled clear on goal by Lederer, who received a second yellow and his marching orders. Enstrom completed his hat-trick and ended up as the match winner as they ran out 3-1 winners. A terrible performance and now with 1 game left we sat 2 points behind Salzburg.
So we entered the final game needing a minor miracle, we had a home tie v’s 6th placed SV Grodig, Salzburg faced 5th placed LASK Linz away. We held our nerve and smashed Grodig 4-0, a hat-trick for Houska, but unfortunately Salzburg nicked a 1-0 win meaning that after nearly a whole season of topping the league we threw it away right at the death.
So a gutting end to the season but we ended where I expected and pushed Salzburg a lot more than I thought we would. This gives me real hope for next season. This feels a bit like when I was starting at Sion and we just fell short a couple of seasons in a row!
We had a really good campaign in this. We entered in the 2nd Qualifying round where we faced Apollon Limassol and we breezed through winning 8-0 on aggregate. Into the 3rd round and we Kazakh side Kairat, another easy 2-leg win and we went through 5-2 on aggregate.
And so to the final qualifying round before the Group stage and we had a relatively easy tie against Hungarian side Vasas. It was a lot tougher than expected, we got a good advantage from the first leg where we won 2-0 at home, but the second leg was a lot tougher and it took a 75th minute goal to put us through, we lost the tie 2-1 but went through 3-2 on aggregate.
The Group stage draw came out and we managed to avoid any of the big boys, we were drawn against Molde, Steaua Bucharest and Bursaspor. It went as well as expected, 4 wins, 2 over Molde and 2 over Steaua put us through but 2 defeats to Bursaspor meant we qualified in 2nd place.
In the last 32 we were handed what looked like a tough tie against PSV, how wrong was I! The first leg came about and my on loan striker Houska was handed his first start, and what a debut it was!!
5 goals in his first game including a first half hat-trick. What an incredible start for him! In the 2nd leg we lost 2-1 but we had eased our way into the next round.
Where we were handed the hardest tie I could have imagined, Liverpool stood in our way and as expected they were too much for us, we lost the first leg 4-1 but gained some credibility with a 2-2 home draw. Overall it was a great campaign and we got a lot further than I expected.
I won’t dwell too much on this but show you a couple of players who impressed me during the season.
Clearly the star man in the second half of the season was Houska, who banged in 18 goals in 12 starts and 5 sub appearances. He was unbelievable and I would like to bring him back next season. He averaged 66 minutes per goal which is crazy!
Central Midfielder Nikola Radosavljevic was an absolute superstar this season, he looks like he is going to be a massive player for me throughout the save and I really hope we can hang onto him. 33 games (1 sub), 4 goals, 6 assists and a 7.37 average rating.
And finally Left Back Sebastian Eidelloth had a brilliant season, he supplied 8 assists in 29 games (8 sub) and was a constant threat down that left hand side, this did however leave us exposed at times!
And for your perusal here is the whole first team squad minus van der Meer as his loan ended before I remembered to take the screenshot!
So overall a decent first season, we did brilliant in the league even though we fell agonisingly short, we performed better than expected in the Europa League but our Austrian Cup campaign was a disaster!
So with a few additions next season I really feel we can keep pushing Salzburg at the top. I am going to do a little bit of research into their team, a bit like I did with Sion/Basel and see where I need to improve to match them.
One thing I really need to sort out is goal-scoring, mainly from the Strikers, we did score a lot of goals, but these were shared out over the whole team and our top league goalscorer ended on 9 goals and that was the on-loan striker who only joined in January! Defensively we look OK but I do feel we could look at improving our GK and also assess where we could improve our midfield, going forward they are good but have sometimes left us exposed when we teams hit us on the counter-attack.
I also need to try to hang on to my prized assets. I turned down numerous bids for some of my players and I also had to speak to a few of these and try and entice them to stay by saying we could win silverware. Now we have ended the season with nothing I can see them now coming back and knocking on my door.
So to help us improve the board have given me decent budgets for next season.
Only £18k of spare wage budget but plenty of transfer money to play with. I don’t want to spend loads but obviously I do need to improve the squad. We have a lot of ageing players, and I do need to start looking at long-term replacements for these.
So next season I really need to keep up our pressure on Salzburg, I also want to win the Austrian Cup, we will go full strength once again in the hope we can do a damn sight better than this season!
Anyway enough waffling, I hope you enjoyed the post and I’ll speak to you all soon!