Welcome back! Another season is down with Newcastle United and my word has it been another great one! This series for me just gets better and better. Last season we ended a record high 3rd place giving us Champions League football, unfortunately we lost in both the League and FA Cup finals, tainting slightly what was an amazing campaign. This season I want to win something!! So let’s see how it went…
First up let’s take a look at the transfers and I won’t lie it’s been bonkers!
Quite a few players leave, the majority of them were youth or reserves but there were a few first teamers to be shown the door. I’m sure most of you will see the big name staring you in the face, that’s Left Winger Kelmendi, I signed a new LW in the pre-season and he fell out of a favour, he’d been asking to leave for well over 12 months so I cashed in. The other first teamers to go were GK Itter and LB Kirkendy, both played a lot last season but I really felt weren’t good enough.
Before I go through who I signed there is something I need to talk about, call it the elephant in the room if you may. Two days after the previous season ended we were taken over! Great news! Then a news item popped up that made me nearly fall off my chair! My new Chairman, as part of the deal to takeover the club had promised one big signing, and when I say big I mean BIG!
Adrian Galeano – Midfielder – £156m from Spurs
Yes you did read that correctly my new boss spent £156m on a player! A new record for a British player and I now love my new Chairman! This guy looks amazing, he’s one of the best English players currently on the game and now I have him! The only issue is he is a natural RW and I am not dropping Oleg Wagner so he will have to slot in midfield and it also means I have re-assess my transfer thinking.
Mainly because I have one too many midfielders. Galeano, Nannini, Nordin and MacLeod all expect to start! So my plan is to play MacLeod as a CB (he is more than accomplished to do that), meaning I no longer need a new CB.
Now that’s covered let’s see who I brought in:
In the previous post I’d said I wanted a new LB as a priority and a new LW to replace my outgoing loanee. A new GK and a Striker would be a possibility but only if someone decent popped up for a low-ish fee. I managed to get all four!
Chris Griffiths – Left Winger – £30m from Man City
My new first choice LW, the replacement for Kelmendi and my word what a signing. I spent a bit but he is worth every penny.
Lolo Prendes – Goalkeeper – £7.75m from Wolfsburg
My 3rd new GK in 3 Summer Windows! With Itter going I needed a new keeper and when I saw this guy I had to snap him up. He is much better than Sam West so will be my new first choice in between the posts.
Jens Ruitenbeek – Striker – £20m from Anderlecht
I wasn’t really looking for a new Striker but when this guy popped up for such a low fee I had to bring him in. He will be an able replacement for Ferrari is he gets injured.
Brendan Stevenson – Left Back – £36.5m from Chelsea
I mentioned I wanted a new LB and this guy is my new first choice. A hefty fee but a brilliant signing, I’d been eyeing him up for a season or so but the fee was way too high, Chelsea wanted rid and I capitalised.
So five players in, £250m spent! I never thought I’d say that! I have to say though it’s been a successful Summer, the Galeano deal technically cost me nothing and I’ve also brought in four fantastic new players. The squad is now properly ready for a shot at a winning a trophy.
The one trophy I had high hopes of winning and boy did we do well!
As you can see we were handed a pretty tricky route but somehow, from somewhere we scraped our way to the final. Man Utd was an epic, Watford was a bore draw but in both games we got through on penalties. We then faced Everton in the semis and walloped them! Another final!
Where we faced Liverpool, a team we had got the better of throughout the past few seasons and I had high hopes we could grab that trophy win I’d been so desiring.
The final itself was absolutely shocking. Hardly any highlights, nothing of note, both teams playing woefully but then came the big moment, the 92nd minute, a minute of time remaining, Nannini brings it forward, he lays it to sub Gifford, he took on his man and smashed it into the top corner! 1-0!!!!!!!!!!!
https://gyazo.com/82b2d415baf633901878f2a21366ef15 (for some reason I can’t upload the video of the goal but if you click the link you can all see how amazing it was!)
A minute to hold on, the whistle goes!!!! LEAGUE CUP WINNERS!!!
A League Cup win, but could we make it a cup double?
Well no we couldn’t! We eased past Forest Green in the 3rd Round and then absolutely smashed Liverpool away to get through the last 16.
Where we faced Charlton, this was the game after the League Cup final, tired legs and fitness issues, we looked shattered and played poorly. Charlton deserved the win, a frustrating match but we were just done by the sheer number of games we had.
Straight into the group stage but we were seeded 4th so I expected a tough draw and that’s exactly what we got. Dortmund, Inter and Zenit were our opponents, I expected to get 3rd and after the first match where we got destroyed by Inter 4-1 I was fearful we were way out of our depth. A 5-0 win over Zenit was then followed by a 3-1 defeat to Dorrtmund.
Then the miracle turn around. We had struggled against the bigger teams so far this season and I had sorted myself out a “plan B” tactic, switching from my usual 4231 to a more solid 4141 which seemed to be working in the League, and my word did it work in the Champions League. 1-0 wins over Dortmund and then an amazing 4-0 win over Inter meant we went into our final game knowing a point would seal qualification to the knockouts.
We won the game 2-0 meaning we had gone through to the Last 16 in 2nd place!
An amazing achievement so far and it was to get even better. We faced AC Milan in the 1st Knockout Round and dispatched them 5-0 over the 2 legs, a 1st leg 4-0 home win was followed by a nice comfortable 1-0 away win.
Into the Quarters and we were handed probably the easiest draw. We faced Stuttgart who were 5th in the Bundesliga at the time. The 1st leg was away and we did really well to come out of the game with a 2-2 draw. I went with our more attacking 4231 in the 2nd leg and my word did it work. We scored early courtesy of Gifford (more on him later), they equalised but we retook the lead just after half time. 3 more goals followed in 10 crazy minutes, Gifford sealing his hat-trick, Stuttgart grabbed a late consolation but it wasn’t enough for them and we went through 7-2 on aggregate!
Now it was getting tough, our semi final opponents were Dortmund who we had played in the groups. We played well but it was always going to be incredibly hard. Once again our 1st leg was away, we found ourselves 2-0 down at half time and 3-0 just after the 2nd half kicked off, we grabbed a goal back but we went into the home leg 3-1 down.
The 2nd leg was tough, we were rife with fitness issues and suspensions and we really didn’t play well. Dortmund grabbed 2 early goals, a Galeano goal gave us a glimmer of home but Dortmund were much the better team. The whistle blew and we were out, 5-2 on aggregate. What a run though! I didn’t even expect us to get out of the group stage so to get all the way to the semi’s is incredible!
Now to the big one, 3rd place last year was amazing but could we improve on that? With the players we had brought in and with the morale being really good I had high hopes. We started really well, 4 wins in our first 5 games was brilliant but all the games were against lower end teams. Then came the worrying signs, a 5-1 defeat to Chelsea and a 2-1 defeat to Man City. We just could not cope against the bigger teams. This is what prompted my move to try and build a more solid 4141 tactic. We didn’t use it often, only when we faced the bigger boys away from home.
After the Man City defeat we went on one of our best winning runs so far, 8 wins in a row, only 3 goals conceded, these included a brilliant 1-0 away win to fellow Champions League side Derby and a 2-1 away win against Spurs.
As December came around, we were being pushed massively by the sheer amount of games and we started to drop points. The final 4 games of December ended with 2 wins and 2 defeats. As the New Year came around we sat in 3rd place, a long way clear of the teams below us but Man Utd were well clear at the top, still unbeaten as well!
We started the New year with a poor 1-0 defeat at home to Man City but followed this up with 2 wins and then a 2-2 draw away to Man Utd, we were 2-0 up and collapsed at the end! February was another tough month with 2 wins and then 2 defeats, this meant our title challenge was over, Man Utd were too far clear but we still had a shot at 2nd.
A team meeting was called after the 2 defeats ending February and it seemed to work a treat. 5 wins in a row followed before our run came to an abrupt end courtesy of 2-1 defeat to Watford.
Our final 4 games were poor, we had the Champions League ties at the same time and it really didn’t do us any good. It was lucky for us that Man City had fallen apart and as we went into the final couple of games we had guaranteed ourselves 2nd place in the League! We ended the season as we started, a battering of Birmingham away from home!
Another amazing season. 2nd place and a massive improvement on points, it’s just a shame Man Utd we just way too good!
Results – August – December
Results – January – May
First up let’s talk about the Strikers. You will notice there has been no mention so far of any Ferrari goals and Kenny Gifford has been the man banging them in. Well Ferrari got injured early on for 3 months and when he came back he never regained his form from last season. Ruttenbeek replaced Ferrari when he got injured but when his form dropped off Gifford came in and wow he was insane!
23 goals in 26 starts including 14 in the Premier League, he scored the winning goal in the League Cup final and was instrumental in our progression to the semis of the Champions League. I don’t think Ferrari will be first choice next season!
Next up is “Oleg Wagner-watch”, another amazing season for the German Right Winger who scored 19 goals and got 18 assists in his 48 starts. With regards to the 300 apps/100 goals achievement he now sits on 250 apps and 67 goals, getting really close now! He also ended the season as the clubs player of the year with a massive 64% of the vote and the Premier League young player of the season!
Sam Butcher was another player who really excelled this season. He hadn’t been massively good so far but he really pushed on in this campaign, the attacking midfielder bagged 23 goals in his 50 starts, his best season so far!
And here for your perusal is the whole squad..
I don’t normally speak about youth intakes as they tend to be crap but this year 2 guys came through who aren’t world beaters but I do feel they could become squad players in the coming years.
Craig Foster – Striker
15 for finishing immediately takes my eye, he also has good determination. He needs a lot of work but I think in a couple of seasons I could have him to a standard where he could be 3rd or 4th choice Striker.
Neil McGorrigan – Attacking Midfield
A guy who I really like the look of but my assistant manager didn’t even think I should sign him! 17 for teamwork, 16 for work rate and 16 for bravery for someone so young is an amazing base. A season in the youth team followed by a season or two out on loan and I really feel he could come into the first team and be a worthy back-up to Sam Butcher.
I also want to speak about another Intake player but this one came through the 2045 Intake. I pointed him out in the season review and he has now been moved to the first team. His name has changed though. He was Joe Barton, he is now Joey Barton Jnr! He comes in as back-up to Chris Griffiths on the Left Wing and he is really improving.
Another season down and what a season it’s been! Our first trophy for god knows how long, yes it’s only the League Cup but it’s better than nothing. We also ended with our highest ever league position and an epic Champions League campaign. Our only downfall this season was the FA Cup but we can’t do well in everything can we?!
So next season is going to be a testing season. Expectations are going to be higher than ever and I also have the worry that so many of players are being touted for big moves, the likes of CB Lawrence, CM Nordin, ST Ferrari are all wanted by some of Europe’s top clubs.
If we can keep hold of everyone and improve some positions I don’t see any reason why we can’t win a trophy next season and who knows even try and win the League!
As for signings we look fine in midfield, our wide and up front, once again it’s the defence that worries me. We are going to have a severe shortage of central defenders. Van der Schaff is leaving as his contract is up, Coly wants to go and is in the last year of his contract and Shanley is also upset that he isn’t playing. If all 3 go that leaves me with just Lawrence and McLeod to play there, so 2 CBs are needed. We have also struggled at RB, Romero and Ramirez have been caught out so many times and have been at fault for so many goals this season so I will looking to improve that position as well!
Financially we are in a really good position, a massive increase in prize money and also a rise in sponsorships, etc means our bank balance in very healthy! We now sit at £180m, up £62m from last season. I weird thing is the board have only given me £55m to spend and only £80k per week spare wages!
One final thing before I leave you, if you follow me on Twitter you will have seen this already but I have decided to take the England international job. I am getting concerned I will not be able to top the Worldwide HOF just playing at Newcastle so have taken the job to try and gain some HOF points by winning International competitions. I will not be blogging about this but will live Tweet each major competition there is so make sure you drop me a follow @lutterworth_fox
Anyway, that’s all from me for now. Thanks for reading!