Well hello there! Yes that’s right I’m back in your face with another season review. What a save this has been so far! So last season was a shocker, we failed to regain our title and for the first time in the save we failed to win a trophy. This season is massive, the board are get twitchy and we need to get Champions League football back to the Haugesund Stadion.
As ever let’s start with the transfers. At the end of the previous post I said there would be a big changes to the squad. It needed improving and certain players needed moving on. It has been a very busy pre-season!
We say goodbye to 8 players. 6 of these were in the first team last season and none of them are going to be a huge loss. The likes of Hanche-Olsen, Lauritsen, Roseth and Dialo never really got going and have been moved on. The best thing with the out’s is we kept all our big players. There were bids for the likes of Aga, Friday, Knudsen but I rejected and no one ever complained.
OK now to the in’s, I went big! Go big or get sacked was my motto. Let’s welcome in the newbies.
A guy I’ve had on my radar for a while. With Roseth and Hanche-Olsen leaving I needed to bolster my defence, this guy will walk straight into the first team. Top quality!
I needed a back-up left back and this guy fits the bill. His attributes are top notch for this level and he will give Pereira a run for his money for the LB spot.
Another player who I’ve had on my radar for a while. My midfield is already really good but I wanted this guy so badly. He will play alongside Solbakken and Nisic in my midfield 3.
Now this guy look bleeding awesome! The second he got recommended to me I had to get it. I went big, £2m up front with another £6.5m of addons. He is amazing, just needs to improve some of his mental attributes, I expect he will be my first choice striker alongside Aga in the next season or two.
Another incredible signing. He has everything to become a top drawer CB. Like Fredriksen he will walk straight into my back 3 alongside Knudsen.
He’s back! The man we sold 18 months ago has come back on loan.
So 6 amazing signings. £7.5m spent but now our squad look properly good. This is our year!
The 25-man Squad
So as I’ve mentioned before the 25 man squad rule is proper difficult to manage in Norway and with the homegrown rule of 16 there isn’t much wriggle room. So below is the 25 man squad for the upcoming season.
My plan was to have 2 players per position, there is flexibility as numerous players can play a multitude of positions really well. So 22 players and then there will be 3 players brought in from the 2nd team to give them some first team experience.
These 3 players are:
Ronny Jacobsen – Central Defender/Central Midfield – I’d spoken about this guy in my youth chat in a previous post. He is improving well and while he will still play all U19 and Reserve games he will benefit massively from being in the 1st team this season
Henning Knudsen – Goalkeeper – Bozic is my current 3rd choice GK but I’ve sent him out on loan, with the really tight squad rules I have to have a 3rd GK in my squad. He isn’t a world beater but hopefully that first team exposure will help improve him
Antonio Simic – Striker – This guy looks so good, he was signed at the start of last season. Like Jacobsen he will play every U19 game but being in the first team and being mentored by Fred Friday will benefit him hugely. I have high hopes for this guy!
Right let’s see how the season went!
First up is the cup and after the past 2 seasons of terrible performances I was determined to regain our crown. I played some of the youth boys but played a pretty strong team in every game. As you can below we breezed into the final with some stunning performances!
And in the final we faced the resurgent Rosenborg, it was always going to be a tight game and it proved to be exactly that. There were hardly any highlights, we missed a couple of 1v1’s, they hit the post then with 14 minutes to go a Kitolano cross was met by Aga and he powered his header into the goal! 1-0!!!! Now we just have to hang on and hang on we did with relative ease. CUP WINNERS!!!!!!!!!!!!
Europa League II
Now to the Europa League II. We were back in this competition after our league failure last season and we performed really well, we were handed a couple of really tricky qualifiers, Cluj I expected to be tough but we battered them. Then we faced Schalke for a place in the groups, somehow we made it through but only on away goals!
Into the groups and we were handed a really decent group, as you can below we won every game and played some brilliant football. Easy!
Now to the big one, the one I wanted. Last season was awful but with some great signings I was confident. I will say however I have never been so nervous prior to a season starting. I knew it was all or nothing, start poorly and I may be out of a job. What happened was nothing short of sensational!
We went 15 games unbeaten, winning 12 and drawing 3. We were playing amazing, dominating games, smashing everyone. Goals aplenty and defending properly as well…makes a change!
We were eventually beaten in game 16 in a tough tight game against Molde where we lost 2-1. This seemed to kick us back into gear and we won our next 6 games. Then the collapse started. At this point we sat top by 11 points from Rosenborg with 8 games to go. We then decided to lose 2 games, at home to Brann (bloody Brann!) and away to Rosenborg, this cut the gap to 5 points, it was still in our hands.
The boys could see the finish line and they ended in style. We won our final 5 games and with that we had won the league for the second time!!! This was one of the best seasons I’ve ever overseen. League and Cup double!!!!!
So an absolutely incredible season, our first league/cup double and with that we are back in the Champions League next season! Show me the money!!!
But who were my best players I hear you ask?
First up is the man, the myth, the bloody legend Oscar Aga. This guy gets better and better every year. He ended with 31 goals in 42 games, his coolness in the 1v1s was just insane. He never missed! He also ended as the League Top Scorer with 22 goals in his 29 league games.
Markis Solbakken won the clubs player of the year with a whopping 71% of the votes. Another amazing player, playing as a DLP in the DM role he ran the show. He also scored some absolute worldies! 41 games, 4 goals (all from outside the box) and 11 assists. Sensational!
And here for your perusal is the whole squad:
2nd Team Stars
I just want to take 2 minutes talking about the 2nd team/U19s. Because it’s been one hell of a season for the youngsters.
Above is the 2nd team, we have a few in the U19s but nothing amazing. I tried to keep to my word from the other post where for each position I sent 1 out on loan and kept the other at the club. It didn’t work totally like that as some complained they wanted to go out on loan but everyone is progressing so well. I will talk about the ones I had the 3 year plan for in the next season review.
So why am I talking about this now? Well I glanced at the U19 league table and saw this…
We had won the league by an absolute miles. And just looked at that goal difference! +119!!!!! So I took a closer look to see who had scored the goals, my word Simic has had the most amazing season!
61 goals in 45 games for the u19s!!!!!!!!! Holy hell!!! Alongside that he has played 7 games for the first team and scored 5, this guy is a goal machine and next season he will be playing a lot more in the first team.
Another player that took my eye is Stian Overenget, he came through my youth intake in 2023, he seems to be improving at a rate of knots. This season he has been out on loan to fellow Eliteserien side Sandnes. He’s played 29 games averaging 6.79, not bad for a team who ended 3rd bottom. I may look at bringing him into the first team next season IF needed.
So an amazing season and I’ve managed to tick off a load of achievements. 4 in total. Which takes my tally up to 10. The League/Cup double was an achievement. We also got these 3:
Oscar Aga ending as the Leagues top goalscorer.
Fred Friday broke the club record for most league goals. The record was 59, he is now on 62. This bloke is a legend but with the likes of Aga, Simic and Loredo he is going to start dropping down the pecking order. Funnily enough Aga is only 1 behind Friday in the league goals stakes!
And finally we broke our record attendance of 10,000, we smashed it! We actually only have a 9k ground but because of our ground expansion we were playing our games for the first 2/3rds of this season at Brann’s ground.
So next season is a big one now. It would be brilliant if we could retain the title. We also have the Champions League to look forward as well. The board have once again given me decent budgets. Wages have stayed the same and we have just over £8m in transfer funds.
I’m not too sure where I need to strengthen, the defence looks great, I need to replace Lovik who’s loan is up. Craninx in goal is still performing amazing and we have 2 quality young keepers as back-up.
In midfield we have quality all over. Solbakken, Kitolano and Nisic are my starting 3 and we have Tronstad, Ramadani and Teksum as back-up. We also have the ever improving Guimaraes in the reserves as well. We will lost Oby as his contract is up
Upfront we have 4 quality Strikers, we will be saying goodbye to Ibrahim who has been here from the start but never showed up when needed.
So unless we lose anyone I don’t really need to buy anyone. I will be scouring the market just to see what’s available but I am really happy with the squad and I don’t really feel the need to rock the boat.
In other news we have just had this stadium expansion completed:
I said in the last post it was a 1,400 expansion, well the board increased it by even more. So we ended up gaining 4,491 seats!
As for aims for next season, the main aim is to retain the league title. The cup will take a backseat as we have the Knockouts of the Europa League II to content with and then in the second half of the season we have the Champions League. I am so excited to get started with the next season. This save just gets better and better!
Anyway that’s all from me for now, thanks for reading and I hope everyone has had a great Christmas, see you next year!