Yep that’s right ANOTHER season review and my third with Austrian side Rapid Wien. Last season as amazin as we won the Austrian Premier League but unfortunately we lost the Austrian Cup final with a last gasp RB Salzburg goal. Hopefully this season we can push on and keep filling our trophy cabinet.
As always let’s start with our transfer business
I tried so hard to keep hold of my big players but unfortunately, like most seasons the big boys came sniffing and players kicked up a stink and asked to go. I managed to keep hold of my main man LW Althauser but 3 first teamers did leave.
So as you can see there were a few out but most were players from the reserves. The first teamers to go were Right Back Sitar who went to England, he asked to leave and the £3.6m (£4.9m) bid was too good to say no.
Left Back Eidelloth, like Sitar asked for a move, he is one of my best players but he started to disrupt the morale, £8.25m rising to £9m is a brilliant deal.
Midfielder Wieland also went to Swansea, as much as I wanted him to stay he asked for a move and I feel he can be an amazing player, this move should push him to the next level, £8m rising to £9.25m is way over what he is worth, as part of the deal he returns to us on a season long loan.
We also lost Kogler, Jevtic and Mengozzi who were all in the first team last season but weren’t good enough so I cashed in.
So with those players leaving I needed to bring in reinforcements, Wieland came back on loan for the season as I mentioned above so the DM slot was filled. I needed to bring in a RB and LB. I also needed to improve the striking options due to me not really signing any one to replace Marcal and Ammerman from last season. A RW was also needed but I went back and re-loaned Camara from Benfica, I also needed another DM/CM due to my switch in formation to a 41221.
Livingstone Frimpong – Striker – Free Transfer
I actually signed this guy right at the end of last season but it was too late for him to be registered. A cracking signing for nothing and will be back-up to Houska this season.
Ljubomir Minovanic – Right Back – £1m from Partizan
The best RB I could find for something that wasn’t silly money. He has all the attributes to become my first choice RB ahead of Schwaab.
Ales Cvancara – Defensive Midfield – £1.4m from Dukla Prague
Signed as my long term replacement for Wieland who will be going at the end of the season. At 22 he has many years ahead and already looks quality.
Bruno Holzer – Left Back – £1.2m from FC Sion
My replacement for Eidilloth, and like the RB was the best player I could find for decent money. A really good looking player and will be by first choice LB for the season ahead.
Tommy Ask – Attacking Midfield – Season loan from Wolfsburg
A January signing and I signed an AM due to me switching back to my 4231. I have a couple of young AMs but neither are ready for consistent first team football. Ask comes in for £80k per month and will provide quality in that AM slot.
And now the big one, the man, the myth, the legend (although he is now slow as f*ck) comes back to be by my side in his latter years.
Patrick Hodler – Striker – £750k from Mirandes
PATRICK HODLER IS BACK!!!!!!! The Sion legend was available and even though his physicals suck he has enough quality to provide back up for the rest of the season. My main plan for Hodler is for him to start tutoring some of my young Strikers who could be amazing in a couple of years time. Once Hodler decides to retire I want him to stay on in some backroom capacity.
So transfers done, some good business although with me losing both my first choice full backs and some experience from the squad I do feel this is going to be a transitional season for us. A good title challenge and a run in the cup is imperative though to keep the board happy.
UEFA Champions League
We entered the Champions League in the Champions Qualifying 2nd Round where we faced Kosovo side Feronikeli and breezed through 10-0 on aggregate. We then faced Polish champs Lechia in the 3rd round, it was a lot tougher than the previous tie. A 1-0 win in the home leg set us up, we played well and I was pleased to not let in an away goal. In the way leg Lechia scored early but an Althauser goal just after half time settled the nerves and we went through 2-1 on aggregate.
On then we faced Celtic in the Playoff round, win this and we are in the Group Stage and a windfall of money. Unfortunately it didn’t go to plan. In the away leg we lost the game 1-0, I really wanted that away goal but we just couldn’t find a way through. In the 2nd leg we totally went for it but our lack of away goals came to haunt us as we won the game 3-2, Celtics 2nd coming in the 92nd minute to dump us out on away goal!
An absolutely gutting way to go out but losing meant we were chucked into the Europa League Group Stage
UEFA Europa League
Where we handed a tricky group. Krasnodar (Russia), Viktoria Plzen (Czech Rep) and Malmo (Sweden) stood in our way. I fully expected us to do well and hopefully qualify but we had a nightmare of a time. We lost our first 2 group games 1-0 against Krasnodar and Plzen, this was followed up by 2 really good wins over Malmo meaning with 2 games left we sat in 2nd but only by a point.
Then came the disastrous final 2 games, we were battered by Krasnodar, 2-0 should’ve been 5-0! This meant in the final game we had to beat Plzen at home to go through, we took an early 2-0 lead and we looked to be achieving our goal but then an early red card in the second half gave Plzen some hope and they scored 2 goals in the final 20 minutes to seal a draw and their progression into the knockout round, we were out!
An awful campaign, shocking, it was a tough group but I never expected us to fail this early.
So with that we were out of Europe before the turn of the year and now only had the 2 Austrian Competitions to play for!
After losing the final last season to Red Bull I was determined more than ever to go one step further. As in previous seasons the opening few round were against lower teams and we breezed through. 5-0 v’s SC Retz in Rd 1, 3-1 v’s Admira Wanker in Rd 2 and USK Anif 4-0 in Rd 3.
We then faced SV Grodig in the Quarter finals, home advantage helped us massively and we eased through 3-1.
The semi final draw came out and we were handed the easiest of the ties. In the other match Austria Wien played Red Bull Salzburg, we were drawn against Wolfsberger but for some reason we were to play away. At the time we were on a brilliant winning run and this continued as 2 Houska goals put us into the final 2-0.
Where we once again faced Red Bull Salzburg, this is so a 2 team country at the moment but could eventually get the better of them?!
The game started in mad fashion, we went off on the front foot and on 15 mins an Althauser cross was flicked in by Houska into the far corner. We carried on going forward and Red Bull were hardly getting a chance until right on half time when in true FM style a Red Bull cross hit CB Garate and it went through the keeper and into the net to make it 1-1.
The second half continued like the first, we were going at Red Bull and they seemed to lose the plot. 59 mins and we were handed a penalty, Houska stepped up and smashed it down the middle and past the keeper. Red Bull then had a man taken off injured and as they had used all 3 subs they were down to 10 men.
Then with 15 mins to go we ere handed our second penalty with a push right on the edge of the box, it looked just inside! Houska stepped up, slotted it into the right hand corner of the net to complete his hat-trick and give us a 3-1 lead. We held on and then the whistle went, Last seasons defeat was in the distance and we had won the Austrian Cup!!!!!!!
So one trophy down, could we make it a league and cup double?
Austrian Premier League
The league season was really tough I’m not going to lie. Red Bull spent nearly all season top and only for a few weeks were we within a point of so of them. Some poor defeats at the start and defeat to Red Bull meant as we finished the regular season we sat 5 points behind them.
As per previous season the points were halved and Red Bull’s lead was cut to 3 points. So we entered the Champions stage and we got off to the worst start, defeats to SV Reid and Red Bull and other poor defeats meant with 6 games to go we sat 9 points behind Red Bull and a point behind SV Reid.
What happened then was a run of epic proportions, a team meeting telling the guys to pull their finger out seemed to work and over the next 5 games we won all 5, scoring 15, conceding none and playing some brilliant football. With Red Bull hitting the wall claiming only 8 points over those 5 games it meant with only 1 game left we sat 2 points behind them in 2nd.
The final game? Away to Red Bull!!!
Only a win would do and with our great run I was confident we could cause an upset. Well it wasn’t meant to be and at half time we had been woeful and were 3-0 down. A few subs at half time and we played much much better in the second 45. We scored twice and with 15 mins to go we totally went for it, we missed chance after chance to get back level and as the whistle blew Red Bull celebrated.
Second place is still a great season especially with winning the Cup but our start had been what has let us down. Next season we need to get of to a flier and then we will hopefully be able to regain the title once again.
So who were my key players?
Marius Alhauser on the LW was a menace (when he wasn’t injured), 40 games, 12 goals, 15 assists was a brilliant season.
Nuno Araujo won the Austrian Premier League GK of the Year
We also had 4 players in the Premier League team of the Year
Also a special shoutout to Striker Houska who once again has a great season scoring 24 goals in 38 games.
And here is the whole squad view for you to look at!
So another season down and with another trophy in the bag I’m now pushing the top 10 in the Austrian Hall of Fame.
Next season we need to improve, the Cup win was brilliant and our league campaign was acceptable but I do feel we should’ve regained our title. The one disappointment was in Europe, losing the Celtic to miss out on the group stage of the Champions league was frustrating and our Europa League exit was really annoying.
So next year we enter Europe in the Champions League best placed 2nd qualifying and I expect to get into the playoff round again but it will be hard to get past that as the teams in that stage are tough. If we fail and get into the Europa League I want to at least get out of the Group Stage.
With regards to the squad we look good but obviously I have to hang onto players. Wieland who was on loan will be leaving to join Swansea and CB Cavar has signed a pre-contract agreement with Bayern, he never actually played a game for us and spent most of his time on loan.
The one big player who will 100% be leaving is LW Alhauser, I have never seen a player get so many niggly injuries in my life, somehow he played 40 games this season but if you look below he had 10 separate injuries through the season. So he will go and I expect to get around £10m for him. So a LW is a must as is a CB. Other than that as long as we don’t lose anyone else there will be no other business
So another season down and boy it’s been another cracking one. I hope you all enjoyed the read and I’ll speak to you very soon!