(FM20) FK Haugesund – 2023 Season Review – Entering the big-time…but for how long?

Welcome back! So another season is down, my fifth season at Haugesund in Norway (that’s my 8th achievement) and it’s still bloody enjoyable. After last seasons amazing title win alongside automatic qualification to the Champions League Group Stage confidence is high, I have high expectations for this coming campaign, what happened wasn’t what I expected, this has been one tough season!

Let’s look at the transfers, firstly with the out’s, then the first-team in’s, then I’ll look through the youth players I’ve brought in.

Transfers Out

I expected bids to come in for my players and the build up to the season was awful. Yifang from China bid for 5 of my players, this was alongside numerous other teams bidding for my star men throughout the season. I managed to ward most off but a few did leave, some I was happy about, one I was bloody fuming about!

Let’s start with the big one, Charlie Wright. This one has completely got to me. Bids were coming in and I was ready to accept £20m for him. Then on the English deadline day the board went over my head and wouldn’t let me protest the transfer. He leaves for £8.75m, a massive profit, he was signed for £26k! But a massive loss for the team.

The other outs I agreed to. Kuci was signed last season and the lure of China was too much, a £500k profit from him. Odemarksbakken I let go, a £2m profit on him, he was only a backup and easily replaceable. Kone and Naper were both not in my plans.

I also lost Left Back Stolas and Centre Midfielder Vage Nilsen who were both out of contract and released.

So with a few outs there were a couple of in’s.

Transfers In

Marcus Solbakken – Central Midfield – £875k from IFK Norkopping

My replacement for Vage Nilsen/Odemarksbakken, a fantastic signing for a decent fee. Great mentals, amazing technicals, this guy has it all and is a massive upgrade.

Andreas Hanche-Olsen – Centre Back – Free Transfer

I got this guy on a pre-contract deal half way through the previous season and on second glance it was probably a bad deal. The less said about him the better!

Christian Borchgrevnik – Right Wing Back – £725k from Hammarby

My replacement for Lovik who left last season. A really good signing and has the attributes to be a quality RWB. He will be my first choice for the upcoming season.

Jovan Nisic – Central Midfield – £700k from FK Voždovac

My mid-season replacement for Charlie Wright and what a player! A pretty low fee for someone who looks ready made to walk straight into the team.

So they were the four in’s. I also promoted two players from the 2nd team.

Central Midfielder – Morten Teksum – A quality looking Nordic midfielder who is improving massively month by month. He won’t start but will play in the cups and get the odd first team game.

Centre Back – John Lein Valberg – He isn’t rated very highly but has decent attributes to play CB. He won’t feature much but will be in the CBs mentoring group and will play in the cup games.

After bringing in quite a few youth players last season and with my plans to bolster the youth team to the magical 22-man 2nd team this means I brought in another 6 youngsters, some are really good, some need some work but here they all are:

Ola Stormoen – Central Defender – £60k from Rosenborg

This guy looks decent! Look at some of those mentals, great pace as well. He needs a bit of work and will stay in the youth team next season (2024). If he continues to improve how I hope then he will be sent out on loan for some more game time (2025 season).

Antonio Simic – Striker – £50k from FK Sarajevo

An amazingly low fee for someone so good. I now have Kaplan and Simic as two quality young strikers who are improving massively. This guy needs some serious work on his mentals but I have high hopes for him. Next season (2024), I’ll keep him in the reserves and get him training up his mentals and then 2025 Season I’ll send him out on loan for some game time.

Nediljko Saric – Central Midfielder – £38.5k from Zvijezda Gradača

Another stupidly low fee! His passing, teamwork and first touch drew me to him. Like some of the others he needs some work on his mentals and his natural fitness. My plan for the 2024 season is to send him out on loan. Then in 2025 he can stay at the club and hopefully progress quickly.

Jakob Jensen – Central Defender – £11.75k from Nykøbing FC

These fees are crazy. This guy has it all and I have high hopes with a season or two of work he can be in the first team. He won’t go out on loan, he will stay at the club, being mentored and get him training on his stamina and balance.

Alexandro Guimaraes – £550k from Palmeiras

Now this guy is immense! This screeenshot was taken at the start of the season and already, at the end of the the season he has massively improved. His mentals, physicals and technique is crazy for someone so young. If he continues like this then he will walk into my first team the season after next (2025).

Aleksandar Bozic – Goalkeeper – £250k from FK Vojvodina

Another player who is amazing for someone so young, even after one season he is nearly as good as my first choice GK Craninx. With me looking at selling my 3rd choice GK Myhra. I am thinking of loaning Bozic out in the 2024 season with a viewing to moving him into the first team in the 2025 season.

So some fantastic signings, for both the first team and the youth team. With the money I have to spend I could’ve easily brought a lot more, better quality players but I wanted to give the players a chance who had done so well to bring Haugesund their first ever league title and our first ever Champions League campaign, did they repay me? Well let’s find out!

Let’s firstly talk about the cup, or actually let’s not!

Yeah so it didn’t go well. I took the risk of playing my youth players, the risk failed dramatically! Shocking, awful performance, we could’ve lost by more. Dreadful.

Now to the Europa League II, it overlaps 2 seasons and after last season where we got to the semis I was hopeful we could have another good run.

So we faced Lokomotiv Moscow in the Last 16 and after a poor performance losing what I thought was the first leg 2-1 I was disappointed but hopeful we could turn it around in the second leg. Then I realised there was no second leg! We were out! I can’t really work it out, last season there were two legs, this season there was one! Another shocker!

Now to our first ever Champions League season and with the massive rise in the nations co-efficients we entered straight into the Group Stage. £13.3m in prize money and a stupidly hard group! Liverpool, PSG and Shakhtar. I felt like we could get 3rd but in the end it wasn’t to be.

We did get that win that I really wanted and a really good draw at home to Liverpool. Shakhtar nicked 3rd place and we were out.

So Cup – fail, Europa League II – fail, Champions League – mini-fail. Could we do any better in the league?

It started started in crazy fashion, we were banging goals in left, right and centre but were also leakier than burst water main. 6 games in, 4 wins, 2 draws and top, then we lost to Brann in a really poor performance. A shock defeat but it seemed to galvanise us and we won our next 5 games, with Brann winning as well we were still 2nd but looking good to push them all the way. Then our defence decided to give up, mistake after mistake after mistake. A 2-2 draw, followed by a 4-1 defeat to Start, then the worst one of them all, a 5-3 home defeat to Molde. This slipped us down to 3rd and from there on in we were playing catch up. Changes to the team after the Molde defeat seemed to work and we won our next 6 games scoring bucket loads.

With 9 games to go we sat top and this was to be the start of a massive capitulation, defensively we were a shambles, a 4-3 defeat at home to Brann was the start, we were 4-0 down at one point, A loss to Viking followed, then things started to look up, 2 wins in a row including a 1-0 win away to Rosenborg, we were still playing catch up and sat 3rd. In the final 5 games we won 2, drew 2 and lost 1. Shocking, we just weren’t at the races all season, Inconsistent, defensively shambolic. Poor all over the place.

A 3rd place finish, 4 points less than last season. The most goals we had conceded in any of the 5 season in charge. And 3rd place means we go back in to the Europa League II for the 2024/25 Season. I gave the players a chance and they failed. Massively failed. Going forward we were brilliant but defensively it didn’t work. Too many mistakes, we’ve stopped conceding from crosses but so many times our Wingbacks lost the ball in vunerable positions, central defenders decided to not bother tackling letting strikers run through on goals. Awful, awful season!

An Overhaul

But in adversity comes hope. The young players are progressing well, the finances are doing really well. We need to rebuild, the poor performances in the domestic competitions have the board on edge and with a new chairman after our latest election they are only satisfied with my leadership. Next season is huge, next season we have to get back on track.

There is going to be a major overhaul of the team. Friday and Aga (who ended as top scorer at the club for the 2nd season running) will still be my main front line but another striker will come in. Dialo will 100% leave when his contract expires. Lauritsen will also be sold.

In midfield we look OK, Solbakken has a great season winning the clubs player of the year. Oby has fallen out favour and will be moved on. With Teksum improving well and the likes of Ramadani, Tronstad and new signing Nisic we look good but I may bring one more midfielder in.

Defensively is where we need to improve. Desler at RWB has been dreadful all season and I need another player to challenge Borchgrevnik. On the left side Pereira is going well but I have no real back-up. There is an option to bring in Grosjean (who I mentioned in the last post) but I may see whats out there to bring in. Now for the centre backs. Hanche-Olsen will go, Lein Valberg will go, Roseth will go, that leaves me with Accardi and Knudsen who are doing well and Hansen/Arsenic who are doing so-so. At least 1 centre back will come in, maybe two is there’s something much better our there.

In goal Craninx is doing OK, Hetle and Bozic are two quality young goalkeepers so we are set there, Myhra will leave.

The tactic will stay the same, I like 352/532 formation, it has worked well, not so much this season but I am blaming my signings and not improving the team enough instead of the tactic!

So lot’s of business to be done. Improvements need to be made, we need to regain the title, we need Champions League football and all the riches that come with it!

Next Season

So lots of squad movement, luckily the board have given me sizeable budgets.

£15.9m in transfer budget and a massive £180k per week in wages, last season was £80k per week and we’re spending £10k short of that!!

I plan to spend most of it, Bring in 5 , 6 or even 7 players to make this team the best team in Norway. You could call it a transition but we don’t have time for that. These players have to start well and start quick. Otherwise I may be looking for a new job!

The board have also taken pity on me and reduced their aims for next season.

We are now expected to Qualify for the Europa League II via the League which is Top 5. The expectation for this season in the Europa League II is to get to the Group Stage, this means we have to negotiate 2 qualifying rounds. There are currently no aims for the Cup but I want to win it this year, I will still play some youngsters but not as extreme as the season just gone.

With the money being raked in due to the Champions League and Player Sales our balance is now at £24m. A £17m increase from last season. I have managed to get the board to agree to some notable club improvements over the past 12 months, these include:

  • A stadium expansion of around 1,400 seats, from 8,900 to 10,300ish
  • Youth Facilities from Adequate to Average
  • Training Facilities from Good to Great
  • Youth Recruitment from Adequate to Excellent
  • Junior Coaching from Average to Good
  • Data Analysis from None to Basic

So there board clearly have faith in me even if the on-field stuff is going downhill!

Finally, here is a nice little spreadsheet to show you how things are improving (or not in some cases) and also some little extras as well:

All this can be found on my Google Spreadsheet where you can also see how the Achievement Hunter and Parkin Challenges are going

Anyway that’s all from me for now. I hope you enjoyed the post. Thanks for reading and I hope everyone has a fantastic Christmas


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