Welcome back! That’s right another season is down, this is number 7! After last years great campaign where for the first time we won the Norwegian League/Cup double hopes are high for the upcoming season. Can we do the double-double? Let’s take a look and see!
First things first let’s take a look at the transfers
A lot of outs but no one I was really upset about. Tronstad, one of my originals left the club after falling out of favour. The other first-teamers to go were Oby, Ramadani, Teksum and Ibrahim. None of them were actually in my first XI and I decided to let them go onto new things. The other players to leave were all reserves who really hadn’t progressed well
We also lost original player Ben Hansen who left after his contract was up.
So with a lot of midfielders leaving that was were I had to strengthen, I also needed to bring in a new RB to Lovik who returned to Arsenal after his loan ended. I managed to bring in 4 players but I have to say trying to improve this squad, with the tight squad rules, the homegrown rule and without over spending has been bloody tough. We have to have 16 “Homegrown” players leaving us only 9 foreign spots and with the foreign players I have being really the best I could get and for a decent fee it was incredibly hard to “go mad” in the transfer market!
The RB I needed and for a relatively decent price. Helgesen can also play in central midfield and will be a big player this season. He has 12-13+ in all the attributes I require for a quality attacking RWB.
Svendsen is guy I’ve been looking at for a while. The fee is quite high but he looks amazing. Technically a left midfielder but I felt he had everything required to play the attacking Mezzala role in the centre of midfield.
A cock up on my part. Hansen was signed for the first time but what I didn’t realise was I put a clause in his contract to send him out on loan. He complained and I eventually caved and let him go out for the season. A good player, young and has some great mentals.
The sale of Ramadani happened mid-season and Antov was my replacement. One foreign player out, one in! Antov looks really good, can play DM but can also play as a CB. He will be back-up to Solbakken who tends to like getting booked and therefore suspended a lot!
So 4 transfers in, 3 CMs and 1 RWB! You can see where my gaps are. Like I said it was a frustrating season. I didn’t want to lose my foreign players as I felt there were as good as I could get. The players I was looking at to replace them were quality but the fees were just too high. I’m not breaking the bank for no reason!
The 25-Man Squad
So here is my 25-man Squad for the season
With 3 in’s to the first team and 6 outs I had some room to promote a couple of reserve players. I put GK Knudsen back into the 2nd team as well meaning 4 players came up from the reserves:
Aleksander Bozic – Goalkeeper – Bozic has really impressed me in the reserves and will come and challenge for the No. 2 spot with Hetle
Stian Overenget – Right Back/Centre Back – The only player in 6 Youth Intakes to actually be any good and I’m really excited by this guy. I mentioned him in the previous post and decided against loaning him out.
Thomas Likeskare – Central Midfield – Another intake recruit but from way back in 2021. He was a squad filler and actually ended up going out on loan midway through the season.
Alexandro Guimaraes – Central Midfield – Another midfielder but this guy I am so excited about, signed in 2023 and improving at a rate of knots. He won’t play lots due to the sheer number of midfielders we have but hopefully will keep improving via mentoring.
So signings in place, squad assembled, let’s do this!
Europa League II
First up is the conclusion to the Europa League II, the comps overlap two Norwegian season and due to winning our group we bypassed the Last 32 and went straight into the Last 16 where we faced a tricky tie against Rangers. Two tough legs but we made it through 3-2.
In the Quarters we faced what I left was a winnable game against Braga. After drawing the home leg 1-1 (they scored a last gasp equaliser) I was concerned and these concerns came to fruition as we lost the away leg 1-0 to get dumped out.
Now to the main event, the money-maker, the Champions League where once again we went straight into the Group Stage as 3rd seeds. We were handed what looked like a “getoutable” group. Man Utd, Sporting Lisbon and CSKA Moskow stood in our way.
After getting smashed at home to United in our first game I was worried, we then produced a stunning display to hammer Sporting away from home 4-2, after that our form dipped, we only managed 2 more points but this was enough to get us 3rd place and drop us down to the Europa League.
It was frustrating now to give it a better shot but it’s a one place improvement from the last time.
Something to note is our co-efficient has now dropped meaning from next season the Norwegian league winners will enter the Champions League at the Play Off Qualifying Round.
Right now for the domestic trophies, I was more determined than ever to do the “Double-Double” so went full strength in both comps.
It really did pay off in the cup!
We eased our way into the final once again, the only struggle was in the 3rd Round where it took us penalties to get past Valarenga. We had some tough looking ties along the way but got past Molde and Viking to get to the final where we would face Rosenborg once more.
It’s always a tough game against Rosenborg, and it proved to be just that. Chances were at a premium, the game was poor and at the end it would finish 0-0, extra time came and went with no goals scored and it went to penalties.
The penalties were shocking, we missed out first 2, they missed their first 3! The next 4 were scored meaning it was down to the newest member of the team Antov to win the game, he missed!!
So it went to sudden death and we were helped by an old team mate. Lovik, on loan at Rosenborg from Arsenal stepped up and MISSED! Up steps superstar CB Max Normann Williamsen and he was the calmest man in the ground to slot the ball in the left corner to win the game!
Our 5th cup success in 7 season! Amazing!
So the cup is won but could we win the league. I was confident, the odds had is 4-5 odd-ons to win it. But could we handle the pressure?
Boy could we! I always find the start of the season the hardest, can we get off to flier? Will teams take the game to us? Well they did but we were incredible! In the first 10 games we won 9, drew 1 and conceded absolutely nothing! Never ever have I had a defence as tight as this. But then came the slip up, a 1-0 defeat to Ranheim. It came out of nowhere but it didn’t slow the Haugesund train down!
We would go on another incredible unbeaten run, 7 wins followed by a draw at home to Viking would put us clear at the top, we just had to keep winning and the title was ours. The players never ever felt the pressure, after the Viking game we won the next 6 games meaning with 4 games left we had eased to the league title. The title was gained with a fantastic 3-2 home win over Rosenborg.
After this form dipped, I messed about with the team and in the final 5 games we won 2, drew 1 and lost 2. Poor but I wasn’t fussed!
League Results – April to July
League Results – August – December
Another incredible season, at one point I really felt we could go unbeaten all season but that Ranheim defeat put pay to that. It was the defensive record that got me. No goals let in over the first 10 games and only 15 conceded over the whole season!
So the double-double gained and boy am I happy!
This section is going to be like de-ja-vu unfortunately!
Player of the Season for the 3rd consecutive season went to DM Marcus Solbakken. Another incredible season, this guy is the rock in the middle which everyone seems to feed off. 32 games play, averaging 7.59, chipping in with 2 goals and 5 assists.
And for the 3rd straight season superstar Oscar Aga ended as the clubs top scorer. He overtook Fred Friday as the club record league goalscorer as well!
36 games, 22 goals and 2 assists with an average rating of 7.24. His goals scored have dipped this season but he is still a force to be reckoned with.
And for a 3rd straight season LWB Periera ended with the most assists!
But my player of the season goes to Central Midfielder Joshua Kitolano, this guy was brilliant all season. 30 games, 6 goals, 9 assists, it was his lung bursting runs that got me, time and time again he would break through the lines to get the ball into positions where a goal was inevitable.
When I did this challenge last season there was one achievement I just could not get, I had set myself it in FM19 as I have never ever got this Steam Achievement EVER! That achievement was “Do not concede in 10 compeitive games” and guess what? I’VE BLOODY DONE IT!
That run at the start of the season was what did it. 11 games in total without conceding, 8 league games and 3 cup games. AMAZING!
So another season down and you may be able to tell from the tone of this post I’ve struggled slightly. Not in results, they have been amazing but just with the season in general. I’ve struggled to improve the team enough over the past few seasons to really be having a proper push at Europe and that’s being stifled by the squad rules and the fact either I can’t entice better players to join or the fees are too high. I could easily dismantle my whole squad and spend £20m on new players but I feel that would ruin the cohesion we already have.
There are a lot of reasons but I don’t want to bore you with it all, the lack of decent youth intakes, the ease of the domestic comps, the squad rules, etc, etc are frustrating me and when I get frustrated I switch off.
So because of this I’ve decided to leave Haugesund and look for pastures new. With the achievement challenge being the No. 1 priority in this save I have to keep moving to keep ticking achievements off. bar an unbeaten season and winning the Euro Champions League I’ve pretty much ticked off every single achievement I could get here and due to the fact I have to win all 5 Champions League I feel now is the time to look for a new challenge, move out of Europe and try and quickly tick off the 4 Non-European Champions League’s before returning back to Europe and hopefully completing the challenge.
I’m sure there will be many people who are annoyed with this but this save was never about staying at one place. I could stay another 3 seasons to tick off the 10 season achievement but I think another 3 seasons here will completely ruin my love for the save. I’m a journeyman and I have to keep moving to keep up my motivation.
So the next move will be out of Europe and currently I have a few option of where to move to, these are:
- South Africa
So lot’s of options to choose from….hopefully. My next post will reveal where I’ve moved to and will also say a goodbye to Haugesund. I’ve had an incredible 7 years here, it’s been better than I expected and I feel moving now will be the best thing to do to keep those memories of Norway and Haugesund happy ones.
Anyway that’s all for now. Thanks for reading!