Welcome back! My god I’m flying through this save, it’s been by far the most enjoyable save I’ve done on FM and I’m still going strong. It’s now my 8th season with Rapid Wien and after last seasons League title win I’m now only 5 (or 6 depending on points) trophies short of the top spot in the Austrian Hall of Fame. Last season was another great season but tinged with disappointment, alongside our dominant title win we once again lost in the Europa League final and were knocked out in the Quarters of the Austrian Cup. This season we need to keep winning those domestic trophies!
As you can see above we lost 5 first team players over the season, 4 before the season started and 1 big player in the Winter break. Adelwarth and Bohrer had both been on the fringes and I just felt the best thing was to let them go, neither had shone as I expected and the deals were decent, we made good profits on both. Strobl I had earmarked as a star player in the future but with a new RB coming in and Otegui doing well he was frustrated with the lack of football and asked to move on, a deal rising to £7.75m was amazing.
Now to the 2 players I was gutted to lose. Firstly GK Sosa left, a massive mistake on my part but Southampton met his release clause which I had completely forgotten about, he refused a new deal and left. It was still a £2m profit in the space of 12 months. A much bigger out happened though. DM Marjanovic left to join spurs for £15m, rising to £20m, this wasn’t ratified by me, the board accepted the deal and I couldn’t protest it. It was a huge profit though as he was only signed for £1.2m 4 years ago.
So a few outs that needed replacing, here is who came in:
Santiago Alonso – Left Back – Free Transfer from Everton
I brought Alonso in because I was concerned about Grussman, he has made noises about wanting to leave and with my reserve LBs really not showing enough quality to be first pick I needed a much more experienced LB to fill the gap. Grussman did stay but he managed to break his leg in the first few months of the season sidelining him for the whole campaign.
Ghiţă Ceaca – £5.25m from Young Boys
After losing Adelwarth I needed a new Striker, we had Willems as No.1 with only Hajek as back-up, I decided to go all out and buy a player who could play on either wing and up-front, as you will see later he was sensational!
Alexander Schumann – Defensive Midfield – Season loan from Schalke
Signed in the summer as at that point I was expecting Marjanovic to leave, he obviously stayed until the winter break but this guy was signed to be a back-up, after the departure of Marjanovic he had lots more game time and played really well.
Andrea Bovone – Central Defence – £9.75m from Juventus
A massive deal and another deal in expectation of losing a player who never left! CB Kovacevic has been wanting to leave and we were turning down huge deals from some of the European elite, I’ll talk more about him at the end of the post but Bovone came in, he can play all across the back line and was superb all season.
Axel Bastians – Goalkeeper – Free Transfer
Some of you who follow the blog closely will remember I let this guy leave a couple of years ago, clearly his career didn’t go well at Floridsdorfer as he was released. With Sosa leaving I decided to give Aussie wonderkid Arranz the No.1 jersey and as I had no back up I brought Bastians in as my No. 2.
So signings complete, some big deals but overall we made a profit on our dealings.
A route straight into the group stages without a qualifier was a nice surprise as the campaign started but when the draw came out I was horrified. I don’t think we could’ve got a much tougher group. Dortmund, PSG and Benfica stood in our way. After 5 games we had won 2 (Benfica (h) and Dortmund (h)), lost to Dortmund (a) and PSG (a) and got a credible draw at home to PSG. But we went into the final game playing Benfica away knowing that a point or better would see us into the knockouts. Unfortunutely we bottled it and threw away a 1-0 half time lead to lose the game 2-1 and end 3rd putting us, once again into the Europa League.
So for a 3rd straight season we dropped into the Europa League, could we get to a 3rd straight final? Well no! The competition ended very early as were handed a really tough tie against Schalke (or Gelsenkirchen as FM call them!)
A 2-2 draw in the home leg set us back and Schalke showed their class in the away leg absolutely smashing us to send us out 7-3 on aggregate.
After last seasons disappointment I was determined to win it this season. We started really well with wins over Altenmarkt, St. Polten and LASK putting us into the Quarters where we faltered last season.
In that round we ended up getting the easiest tie playing 2nd tier side Hartberg and we hammered them 4-0 but tougher games were to come.
In the semis we were handed the toughest possible game in my eyes, Austria Wien away! With 3 minutes to go we sat 1-0 down and looked to be going out, then super sub Ghiţă Ceaca came on and smashed in the equaliser, then right on the half time whistle of extra time he popped up again to nod in what ended up being the winner, a crazy game and one we probably didn’t deserve to come out of with a win!
So to the final and we were handed Mattersberg who has knocked Salzburg out in the semis. It was a tough game and the first half an hour was really cagey but on 28 mins Bangala smashed in a penalty and our lead was doubled by that man Ceaca 3 minutes later, Mattersberg grabbed a goal on 38 mins and at half time we went in 2-1 up. RW Camara scored a 3rd for us just before the hour mark, we made some changes, defended for our lives and as the whistle blew for full time we had done it!!! Our 4th Austrian Cup in 8 seasons and the most satisfying one yet.
Austrian Premier League
So with the cup won could we make it a domestic double for the 3rd time?
As every season has gone so far we started incredibly and at the end of the regular season we had only lost 1 game (3-0 to Salzburg) and sat 7 points clear at the top of the league.
This was halved as we entered the Championship group but we came out on the right end as 7 was halved to 4!
The final 10 games started really well and with 4 games left we sat 5 clear of Wolfsberger, out next game was against them and a 3-1 win put us 8 clear with 3 to play and only 1 win from the title, we then decided to fall apart, firstly losing 2-0 to SV Reid and then drawing 1-1 at home to Salzburg, luckily our draw co-incided with a draw for Wolfsberger meaning we had won the league with a game to spare! An amazing season, another dominant season and another domestic double!!
Firstly I have to talk about Ceaca, my main Striker Willems has had one of those season where he constantly gets injured, the longest was a 4 month lay off. Ceaca came in was incredible.
21 goals in 26 starts (15 subs), averaging 7.32 is an amazing achievement and he ended as the leagues 3rd top goal scorer playing only 18 games.
Even with his lay-off Willems ended as the leagues top scorer!
18 goals in 18 league games and 21 in 24 in total. Willems averaged 7.48 and got 6 assists.
The other player I want to talk about is young GK Lawrence Arranz
I made the bold move of making the 20 year old Aussie my No. 1 after losing Sosa and boy did he repay me. This guy is going to be so hard to keep hold of! 31 league games, 15 clean sheet, in total he kept 20 in 43 games averaging 7.07.
And here is the whole squad for your perusal!
The Conveyor Belt
I had only earmarked 1 player to break through this season and that was CM Kostic, with Marjanovic leaving Kostic got a lot more game time that I had planned but the guy was incredible.
21 games and 17 sub appearances, he averaged 7.08 which is amazing given all those bit part sub games. He also managed to score 2 goals and get 4 assists. He is already being touted for a big money move but I hope I can keep hold of him.
So who have I looked at to break through next season? Well as you will see in the last section of the post I need to start looking at my young CBs, so the man I’m looking at giving game time is:
Signed at the end of last season for £79k from Bosnian side Borac he has really impressed me in his reserve games this season and will be my 4th choice CB next season.
I also have a couple of other youngsters that I will be promoting to the first team and giving some chances to next season. Here they are:
I like to try and keep my posts down in terms of length so I didn’t want to speak about all my youth signings I made in the summer. I went a bit mad as all of those 5* players I spoke about a few seasons back have gone downhill, moved on or became first team regulars, so here are the new crop of 5* PA players who I hope can keep the conveyor belt moving!
Hall of Fame Update
So a domestic league and cup double means I continue to march up the Austrian hall of fame, I now sit 4th with 9 trophies overall and only 3 short of the man at the top. I’m not sure if 3 trophies will do it seeing as he has won 9 league titles, so it may mean I need to win 4 but we will see what happens!
So another incredible season and I’m getting so close to the top of the hall of fame in Austria. Next season has to be more of the same with hopefully a better run in Europe, what I’ve noticed this season is money is becoming an issue, with our continued success players are wanting a lot more money and this means the finances are dropping quicker. I will hopefully be able to stem the tide with a better run in the Champions League and move a few of the higher earners on giving the youngsters more of a chance.
Talking of players moving on I have a possible defensive crisis looming! Firstly Reith is retiring, it’s a shame but he had really tailed off this season, the 2nd CB to be leaving is Garate who is refusing to sign a new deal and his contract is up this season and finally the worst one of all and another cock-up on my part is my main man, CB Kovacevic is leaving on a free to Schalke when his contract is up, so all these rejected bid of £10m+ were a bloody stupid idea! These departures leaves me with only Bardin and new boy Bovone as my main first team CBs, I have a couple of decent youth players but I may need to bring in a 3rd CB who is a bit more experienced.
Other than that signings should be kept to a minimum (I always say that!).
Anyway on that note that’s all from me for now. Speak to you all soon!