Welcome back! Well I’m now nicely settled into the North-East of England, as the title suggests “I’m ready to rumble!”.
Hopefully by now you will have read the previous post explaining my decision, saying goodbye to Magdeburg and welcoming myself to Newcastle, if not go back and a take a read.
So here we are, the first season is over, how did it go? Well let’s take a look!
I had assessed the squad in the previous post and noted a few positions I wanted to improve. I needed a new LB and a CM, I also wanted a RW which meant I could drop my first choice RW (Sanz) down to an attacking RB. I brought in all three and an extra one due to losing my first choice keeper.
The first one through the door (and I’m sure you all know who it is!) is Right Winger Oleg Wagner. I have to say I got him for a lot cheaper than I expected, he had a release clause of £34m but I managed to bring him in for £12.5m!
Next in was a central midfielder and one to also help me tick off one of the remaining three nations in the Parkin Challenge. Robin Nordin comes in from Rijeka for £24m. In my opinion this is an absolute steal.
Thirdly is Left Back Mikel Borja who joins from Osasuna for £6m. He will be my back-up full back on the left side and offers some great quality in that area.
The fourth signing was a last ditch one due to first choice keeper Tyler Whitesides being tapped up by Man United, he wanted to go and I sold him for £1.3m. His replacement is Thomas Itter who joins from Austria Wien for £1.5m and I have to say he is worth every penny of that!
I also brought in a few new members of staff. We had no Assistant Manager and no HOYD when I joined. I think you can say I brought in some real quality!
We opened up with a home game against Southampton, we played well but couldn’t find a way through, that was until the 94th minute when Left Winger Kelmendi smashed one in with virtually the last kick of the game to hand us 1-0 win! We followed that up with another victory, this time 2-1 at home to Huddersfield. In this game we saw a goal and a MOTM for Swedish wonderkid Nordin which ticked Sweden off of the Parkin Challenge.
Then came our first tough test, an away game against tycoon-owned Derby County, we played OK but ended up losing the game 1-0. We didn’t drop our heads though and followed this up with 2 more victories, firstly a 3-0 cup win over Wimbledon, we saw the first Newcastle goals for Oleg Wagner and then a 2-0 home win over Norwich. This means as we ended August we sat in 4th place!
A much tougher month than previous. We started off with a home defeat to Leicester, and then followed that up with a 2-2 draw away to Liverpool, a game in which we sat 2-0 up at half time only to be hanging on for a point at the end!
Next up was the League Cup away to Man United, we played fantastically finding ourselves 1-0 up after only 15 minutes, we somehow managed to defend like idiots, losing the tie 4-3 in the finals minutes. We ended the month with something to shout about as we beat Bournemouth 3-1.
We opened up with a 0-0 draw at home to Man United but followed this with a really poor 2-0 defeat away to Arsenal. In both games we failed to have a shot on target. This is the one thing that I’ve noticed so far, we are really struggling to create a raft of chances.
In the next game I made a few changes to the roles of the forward line. The Wingers were changed to Inside Forwards and my AM, who was playing as an AP(s) was moved to a SS. We played West Brom away and you could already see the changes had an affect, 13 shots on target but we only managed to win the game 1-0 courtesy of a penalty from Sam Butcher, that was his first goal of the season!
The final game was a home match against Chelsea and once again it was a game of few chances until the 92nd minute when Right Back Tamer Sarli smashed one into the top corner to win the game 1-0! What a result!
7 points from the month, not bad for what looked like 4 tough games and after 11 matches we sat in 6th!
The month starts with our best performance so far as we beat West Ham 5-1 in their own park. The slight switch in attacking roles worked a treat as Butcher grabs two! This was followed up but a rather poor capitulation at home to Watford where we drew 3-3 after being 3-1 up at half-time.
We then faced an away tie against Man City, the current league leaders and the winners of 6 of the last 7 league titles. We played well, defended for our lives but lost the game 1-0.
Finally was Everton at home, a second goal of the month for Oleg Wagner but we only managed to scrape a 1-1 draw.
After a great start form dropped off but another 5 points left us in 8th place.
A little word on new signing Nordin. As November ends he claims his 3rd Young Player of the Month so far this season! Not bad!
Spurs were our first opponents and for the first time this season we got well and truly hammered, it ended 4-0 but could’ve been a lot worse. We then faced Aston Villa and took a 3-1 lead, just like Watford we tried to blow it but were saved by a very marginal offside decision meaning we won the game 3-2!
The final two league games of the month started with a comfortable win over Wolves 3-1 at home and then scraping a 1-0 win away to Fulham! What a month, 3 wins out of 4 which saw us end the year in 7th place!
There was one final game in December, a New Year’s Eve FA Cup 3rd Round match against Watford which ended 1-1, nothing much to say about this one!
January – Transfers
First things first let’s discuss transfers. During the first half of the season there were two positions bothering me, Right Back and up front. Sanz hadn’t played well at RB and I’d fallen out with back-up Tamer Sarli who left on Jan 1st for £10m. I looked at so many replacements but was priced out on numerous deals but eventually got this guy. Juan Romero joins for £5m from Benfica.
Then to my Strikers. Out of the 4 of them they’ve managed 3 goals so I decided to get rid of 3rd and 4th choice Strikers Oliver and McNulty who left for £7m and £8m respectively and bring one in. So please welcome David Ferrari who joins from Stade Rennais for £17m! A bargain!
That was all the in’s but there was one more out. 3rd choice RW Berasaluce joined Brighton for £17.75m.
January – Results
A busy month that didn’t start well, a 1-1 draw home to Bournemouth was followed by a 1-0 defeat in the FA Cup replay to Watford which also included an injury and 4 week lay-off for star man Sam Butcher. The came Man United away, it looked like an impossible job.
Tell that to Oleg Wagner!!! He bagged a hat-trick in a 4-3 win, it looked tighter than it was, we were 4-1 up and it could’ve been 6 or 7! Absolute scenes!
All of the final 4 games of the month were at home (yes very strange), this lead up to the small Winter break. Of the 4 games, we won 2 (including a superb 2-1 win over Arsenal), drew 1 and lost 1. It could’ve been so much better but 11 points from 6 games is superb, it also means we have broken the 40 point barrier which for safety reasons is massive. However with 25 games played we found ourselves in 5th place!
After a fraught January we now enter the quieter months (games wise). We’re out of both cups so plenty of rest time! In February there were only 3 matches. It started with a 2-2 draw away to Southampton, another game in which we were leading and threw it away. Ferrari is slowly getting himself settled and scored both goals.
Another 2-2 draw followed, this time at home to Villa and this time their equaliser came in the 93rd minute! We just cannot hold a lead! The final game was at home to Spurs and it ended in a 3rd draw. This time 0-0, a much better showing than our 4-0 defeat earlier in the season but we once again struggled to make chances. We ended the month in 7th, a drop of 2 places but the clubs below us were catching us up. 10 games left!
Another quiet month with only 3 matches to talk about, it started really well as we demolished Wolves 3-0 away in one of the best first half performances I’ve seen so far. We dropped off in the second half but defended solidly to see out the game.
Next up was Everton, again away and again we took a 2-0 first half lead, but as so many times this season we let a lead slip and ended up drawing the game 2-2. Fuming!
Just before our final game of the month we received our annual youth intake and it was a tale of two wide players. One left, one right and both look top quality!
The third and final game of the month was away once again! This time against Watford and just like games before we started like a train, taking a 2-0 lead into the break, but unlike Everton we went on to win the game 3-0, another great performance, another amazing month!
The good month was needed as everyone else around us won meaning we stayed in 7th place.
The penultimate month and it looked a tough one on paper. First up was a rare home game and our toughest task as we faced League leaders Man City, it was to be a belter of a game, we took the lead courtesy of Oleg Wagner but were pegged back quickly, it was end to end but we played them at their own game, hit them on the break twice to win the game 3-1! What a result!
Next was an away game against 5th placed Chelsea and we came massively unstuck, the game ended 4-0 to Chelsea and we probably deserved worse. Our first defeat in 8 games!
That defeat seemed to release the shackles and in the next two games we beat West Ham 4-0 and then Norwich 4-1, a game in which reserve striker Ross Convery scored two goals, he came off the bench and was only there as all my other strikers were injured or unfit!
In the final game of April we face tycoon-owned and Champions League chasing Derby County at home, we got a well-earned 1-1 draw meaning with 2 games left to play we were still in 7th place but we knew we could end no lower than 8th! What a first season, Europe is so close!
And a reward for another great month was our first player of the month award which went to Central Midfielder Ross MacLeod for a stunning month where he score 3 goals in 5 games.
The first of the final two games is Liverpool at home, they’ve had a pretty average season sitting down in 9th so I expected us to give them a good match. We certainly did that, we hammered them on shots and shots on target but we couldn’t break them down and the game ended 0-0. This meant as we went into the final game we sat in 6th, 1 point clear of Leicester, 6th guarantees us European football next season (7th may do dependant on the FA Cup Final). The final game? Away to Leicester!
We started well and grabbed the lead on 19 minutes courtesy of a rare goal from CB Boubacar Coly. Leicester came at us but we held firm, Itter in goal had a stormer, we managed to hold on to win the game 1-0 sealing 6th spot! What a season! We were expected to be ending in the bottom 3, we’ve ended 6th!!!
Player Awards/Star Men
Let’s see who starred in this amazing campaign!
Player of the Season goes to Central Midfielder Ross MacLeod, an everpresent in the team he scored some massive goals during the campaign, 6 goals in 38 games isn’t bad for a man playing as a DM, he also ended with 8 assists and an average rating of 7.30. He also ended as the Premier League Young Player’s Player of the Year!
Left Winger Jurgen Kelmendi ended as the clubs top league goalscorer with 13 goals. If I was to asked to vote on my player of the season this guy would’ve got it. He hardly put a foot wrong all year. 13 goals in 35 games is amazing!
Finally a quick word on Oleg Wagner, this is the youth intake guy from Magdeburg who I am hoping will get the 300 apps/100 goals achievement. His first Premier League season has gone really well, scoring 10 goals in his 32 starts. His tally is now up to 147 appearances and 30 goals.
Below for your perusal is the whole squad.
So what an incredible first season. A 6th place finish for a team expected to end in the bottom 3 is beyond my wildest dreams. The big question now is can we push on next season? I always find the second season is the toughest. Expectations get increased meaning there is more pressure.
I have a feeling we can do as well as this year but having a European campaign will obviously increase the workload on the players. Because of this I need to invest in the squad next season. I have already identified a few positions were I need more options, these are: Goalkeeper, Right Back, Centre Back and Central Midfield. These are the positions this season where, when we’ve had injuries our back-ups haven’t played well.
Financially we look OK, over the season we’ve made a profit of £31m, this included us spending £23m more in transfers than we actually brought in. The balance now stands at £75m.
This is reflected in the budgets for next season which, frankly are amazing as to what I expected!
Just under £63m in transfer money and around £600k per week in spare wages! That is lovely!
Anyway, that’s all from me for now. I hope you’ve enjoyed the post. This has been one of the most fun seasons I’ve had on this save. Leaving Magdeburg really does feel like the right choice now. Talking of Magdeburg, they ended 6th in the Bundesliga-2 this season! Oh dear!
Thanks for reading.