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Discussion
Thanks @bigmattb28, with a few games left of the season it certainly looks ours to lose, but anything could happen!!!

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October 2023


EUROPA LEAGUE GROUP H MATCHDAY 2

https://i.imgur.com/twi3jVB.png?1


Having put Kairat to the sword in our group opener, we found ourselves sitting top of the group going into this one. On paper, there may not be a great deal separating the two sides other than a wonderkid or two in the Fiorentina line-up. We had the better of the early exchanges too which paid dividends around twenty minutes in when Rodic opened the scoring after Garmash headed a poor Fiorentina clearance into the path of the winger. For the rest of the game the two sides certainly looked even, exchanging a similar amount of shots on goal and the ball itself too. But late heartbreak was on the cards as Gomes was left unmarked at a throw in and played the ball across to Benassi who's shot from the edge of the box was hit low and hard along the floor and past Bednarz who stepped to the side but didn't dive, however there is a case to debate that Geubbels was offside and interfering with play but the officials must have missed that.

MATCHDAY 27

https://i.imgur.com/ItjCzQp.png?1


With a handful of games left to play we've entered the stage of a season that shows what a team is made of, whether there are winners in the squad or if the pressure will be too much. Every game is a must win until the silverware is in our hands. We came into this one boasting just one loss for the season, but the script-writers must have had other plans for us as half an hour in Orebro took the lead. Breaking down the left through Ajdarevic the ball was eventually switched wide and in behind Pode to Omoh who volleyed home from inside the box. That's was all she wrote as we fell to a shock defeat, only our second of the season. Pressure on.

EUROPA LEAGUE GROUP H MATCHDAY 3

https://i.imgur.com/dijhDmP.png?1


Our draw at home to Fiorentina saw us stay in the qualification spaces in our group despite the top spot being taken by pundit-favourites RB Leipzig. It would be the East German outfit that would be our next opponents as we hosted them for this tie. Six minutes in and the deadlock was broken and surprisingly it was us who took the lead! A quick counter attack saw Pode cross into the middle and it looked as if Gulacsi would claim it, but Albin Linner got between his markers to flick a header past the 'keeper! We held our lead for just under an hour when Leipzig turned it on to score two in quick succession. The equalizer came in bizarre fashion when Stengs played the ball over the top for Werner but Krantz got to the ball first, only to slide the ball away to nobody allowing Werner to get onto the loose ball and shoot across goal, with the ball hitting the post and rolling out onto the back of Bednarz's head. Moments later the game had been turned on its head when a poor headed clearance from a corner led to Gravenberch picking up the clearance and advancing inside the box before putting the visitors ahead. The game wasn't over however, as with ten minutes to go we equalized when Gori hammered home a Tankovic cross.

MATCHDAY 28

https://i.imgur.com/KgpqWpM.png?1


Following our loss to Orebro in the last league game, morale had taken a slight dip of late. Ostersunds sit in a similar position to Orebro and so we went into this one knowing that three points were not a guarantee. We took the lead just before the half an hour mark when a Degerlund freekick was cleared as far as Tekie who played Exposito in behind the Ostersunds defence, eventually squaring the ball for Gori for an easy finish. But we couldn't find the second goal, we couldn't kill the game off for all our dominance. There was no surprise then, when Ostersunds equalized in the second half through a superb Molvadgaard freekick that Bednarz could only watch into the top corner. This is not the form of champions and it has invited AIK back into the title race with the gap now closed to one point.

League Table and Form


https://i.imgur.com/0RH2glb.png?1


October may well have been the worst month I've overseen since I took the helm at Hammarby. League-wise, to have only gained one point from a possible six is catastrophic considering that the league title could well have been wrapped up if we played to our usual standard. In terms of Europe, picking up two points from our two games is good but not great. Beating Fiorentina would have gone a long way in sealing our progression, but similarly gaining a point against Leipzig is important too. With two league games left to play next month, we host AIK in a game that could decide which part of Stockholm the title goes too, as well as travelling to Goteborg on the final day after we play Leipzig at their place. My game plan is to prioritise the league and field a weakened side against Leipzig.

https://i.imgur.com/tnRGXPy.png?1


As I've said, the lead is closed to just one point. Interestingly, it is looking like the top two sides this season will finish with more points than we won the title with last year which is a testament to the increased quality in teams across the league this year. Malmo started the month with very slim chances of being in with a shout, but a poor month for them as officially written them out. With two games to go anything could happen. We could beat AIK and win the title, we could draw with AIK and beat Goteborg to win the league, or worse case scenario, we lose to AIK and Goteborg and see the title fall into the hands of our rivals. Given our form this month, this isn't entirely out of the conversation!

Next Update


November 2023!
November 2023


MATCHDAY 29

https://i.imgur.com/QPEp74G.png?1


Billed as being a title decider, we knew that we would have to be at our absolute best against AIK to ensure that the Allsvenskan title stays at the Tele2 Arena for another season. Despite an upcoming Europa League fixture against Leipzig in five days time, I decided to field our strongest line-up. We started brightly too, putting AIK under pressure and making them play on the back foot, but this can often leave a team open at the back. This is exactly what happened to us when AIK won the ball back in their box. Two long balls later and Nussbaumer had been set free after Lora misjudged the flight of the ball and the AIK man had a simple pass across goal to Svanberg, who finished with ease into the top corner with his first time effort. We looked completely stunned as the gravity of the situation began to set in. At half-time big changes were needed. On came Linner and Gustafson and we switched to a 4-3-3, desperate for a goal. For the most part it looked as if one wouldn't come but we would find ourselves on equal terms courtesy of a fantastic goal from Tekie, lasering a ball into the back of the net with a ferocious effort from twenty-five yards. The game ended one-all with the job far from over, it's going to go down to the last day...

EUROPA LEAGUE GROUP H MATCHDAY 4

https://i.imgur.com/eeuOnJ9.png?1


With all due respect to Leipzig and to the Europa League, it is far from my priority. Big names were rested as we knew that not only were we lucky to draw last time out, but that our best efforts would be needed in three days time against IFK Goteborg. For all intensive purposes the game was over at half time on the back of two quick, counter-attacking goals from the hosts that showcased the extra quality they have over us. Djibril Sow notched his second of the game late into the second half, stealing the ball off of Gustafson and beating Bednarz after the 'keeper's poor short goal kick put Gustafson in a world of trouble.

MATCHDAY 30

It all comes down to this, a season's worth of work could be rewarded today, but equally if we fail to win and AIK beat Ostersunds our whole season will be for nothing. So, could we do it?


https://i.imgur.com/huqYIhN.png?1


Yes we could! We won the league title on the last day thanks to goals from Konan, Svendsen, Exposito and Gori! Not a bad time for Konan to score his first for the club and it was even better to see the Gori-Exposito partnership in full flow after an amazing season for both of them! max Svensson played his heart out too and it was his corners that led to most of our goals. Lastly, credit to Svendsen for scoring a goal worthy of winning any title, letting fly from thirty yards to beat the 'keeper!

https://i.imgur.com/ag2yIR1.png?1


CHAMPIONES CHAMPIONES OLE OLE OLE! Champions of the last day, I'd love to have won it a few games earlier but I won't complain! Back-to-back league titles, get in!


League Table and Form


So with not a great deal of fixtures played this month there is very little to talk about regarding form. Despite our best efforts to fall apart at the end of the season we managed to turn things around and avoid defeat in our last two league games. The game against AIK really was massive and if we had lost it a miracle would have been needed to win the title! So without further ado, here is how the league finished up...

https://i.imgur.com/MICejBA.png?1


If you haven't seen the spoiler by now, we finished top of the league! AIK and Malmo, who had both pushed us throughout the season but it wasn't to be for them, especially for Malmo who ran out of steam a month or so ago. Our overall record for the season was twenty wins, eight draws and two losses, which gained us more points than we finished with last season!

Next Update


End of Season Review!
A brilliant season and clearly a good decision to rest players at Leipzig!
Great result winning the league mate!! Are you staying to build on this win or are you going to leave whilst your stock is high?
Thank you @KEZ_7, it certainly proved to be for the best!

I think I'm going to stay for one last season @bigmattb28, I'm in no rush to leave with the team securing Champions League football next season, and my aims for the coming year are to win the Cup and also do a three-peat!

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End of Season Review


The Squad


https://i.imgur.com/J05fRWr.png?1


This is the squad we finished the season on and if I'm being honest it'll either remain largely the same OR there will be wholesale changes should the right money be offered. In the last window we were offered a deal totalling over £20million for Bednarz by Leverkusen and if a similar bid is made this winter then he's off. Similarly, if a good offer comes in for Albert Pode (£15million plus) then he'll be free to leave also. Fenger, Berahino, Douglas and Fallman are also all free to leave, whilst Soderstedt could be on the way out if a bid between £7-12million is made.

A year of first team exposure has done a world of good for the likes of Robert Andersson, Ousmane Konan and Joel Krantz, who have all kicked on tremendously. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Vladimir Rodic is hitting the latter stages of his career and despite putting up good numbers this season he may not find himself a guaranteed starter depending on how the physical side to his game holds up in the offseason.

The likes of Lora, Degerlund, Tekie, Svensson, Gori and Exposito are all key players and definitely in the plans for next season and so won't be in the conversation for a transfer.

Team Stats


Defensive Stats

https://i.imgur.com/WUthA1U.png?1

https://i.imgur.com/cdmOAva.png?1

https://i.imgur.com/WUthA1U.png?1


Going into the season I was quietly worried about how our defence would fare when compared to last season. Losing Kamal in the early stages of the season made us a weaker unit and his replacements (Konan and Krantz) were not established players and were more prospects than anything else. More so, moving away from a three man midfield made me wary that we would lose possession more and as a result be required to defend more than last season.

However despite all this we managed to concede the second fewest amount of goals whilst keeping the joint highest amount of cleansheets at the same time. In theory our defence is as good as it was last season, or perhaps the development of Bednarz in goal and having a back-up 'keeper who could easily start at this level helped too. Lastly, we managed to be the only team to not concede a penalty in the league this year.

Midfield

https://i.imgur.com/M1aW3PS.png?1

https://i.imgur.com/0SA35YX.png?1


Our midfielders this year really stepped up when they were called upon. We ranked second amongst all teams for possession this year, admittedly with a lower percentage than last season, whilst also being joint first for pass completion. This suggests that the quality of the midfielders we have is complemented by the system we play, as there should always be someone nearby to pass to. This has led to us being the premier team for chance creation this season with sixty-five goal-scoring chances crafted over the season, five more than the next best team.

Attack

https://i.imgur.com/Tmw9Axm.png?1


Our attack was good last year, but even better this year as we scored sixty goals in thirty games, for the mathematics amongst us that's an average of two goals a game. What was particularly nice to see was that when one striker was faltering, another picked up the slack. Gabriele Gori was on a tear during the first half of the season but dropped off slightly at the back end, but Erik Exposito's late season form was red-hot and he often led us to wins. Finally, Gori finished as the league's top goalscorer which is a testament to his early season form.

Points Total

Last year we won eighteen, drew nine and lost three giving us a total of sixty three points from thirty games - 2.1 points per game. This was good enough to win title and this year we went one step better. In thirty games we won twenty, drew eight and lost two, giving us a total of 2.26 points per game. Whilst not a massive increase in points, it certainly solidified our title credentials and suggests that we're an ever improving side.

Next Update


Europa League Group Stage fixtures and Transfers (if there are any!)
Congrats on wining the title! Hopefully you can get to the UCL gs next time, but this eul gs is looking really tough
Thank you @DALR16, fingers crossed we can do one better in the coming season!

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Transfers


With the season coming to a successful finish, it was time I started to evaluate the options in the squad. With certain players set to leave and others likely to leave if a good enough bid comes in for them, there would be room for incomings to supplement to outgoings. Before getting to the players joining the club as the window opens, deals for Erik Andersson and Saido Berahino were completed and the duo left the club, opening the door for another duo to join the club...]

https://i.imgur.com/7uOVQSE.png?1


Tomas Nemeth - 19, AMC - I had my eye on Tomas over the last few windows but never pulled the trigger and activated his release clause. However, when Rodic came to me saying he wanted to leave and was going to run his contract down, I decided to activate Tomas' £700K release clause. Naturally suited to playing through the middle, he is going to be re-trained to play wide-right and will rotate with Svendsen in that role whilst Rodic is content to miss out. An absolute steal for a player of his quality, if he can adapt to the league and new position he could be a real asset.

https://i.imgur.com/LAyOGcS.png?1


Milan Jantko - 18, ST - with Berahino leaving, space opened up for another attacker to join the squad. With Gori and Exposito enjoying a vintage season last year, Albin Linner didn't quite live up to the expectations placed on him after his move from AIK. Signed for £3.2million, Milan comes in with all the qualities to be our first choice striker. If not, he'll definitely get minutes from the bench, with Linner having to push himself harder in training to secure minutes. With a host of teams after him this window, it took a hefty contract (the highest in the squad) to get the deal for the Czech international over the line (also, just look at his record at international level!).

Europa League


https://i.imgur.com/4cH0mqA.png?1


With two games to go in the Europa League, we knew that our game against Kairat was essentially a foregone conclusion, so it would have to be anything but a loss against Fiorentina to see us seal our unlikely progression into the knockout stages. A routine win at home against the Kazakhstani's did come via a Gori brace and an Exposito effort, but could we get the job done in Italy?

https://i.imgur.com/tRe1C9q.png?1


Half an hour in and we were coasting! Our qualification looked almost certain due to a tidy Svendsen finish and a trademark Gori header, but would we hold on? It looked like we would for the most part until Fiorentina turned in back on with minutes to go. Konan turned the ball past Bednarz when his sliding challenging went past the on-rushing keeper, and Denzel Dumfries put the pressure on with a back-post tap-in. But this seemed to be all Fiorentina could muster as the match finished as a draw.

https://i.imgur.com/iV3Y5Ap.png?1


This was good enough for us to move through to the First Knockout Round, but who would we face...?

https://i.imgur.com/Xcnd0zP.png?1


Napoli! As the draw started I looked at the sides I'd prefer to be drawn against and those I'd prefer to avoid. It's safe to say that we drawn against one of the latter sides. Not a preferable tie and this will likely be the end of our European tour for this season.

EUROPA LEAGUE FIRST KNOCKOUT ROUND 1ST LEG

https://i.imgur.com/WfxXl8A.png?1


It was still sinking in that we'd made it this far into the competition when Napoli lined up at the Tele2 Arena. From the off they looked the far better side as they crafted a series of good opportunities early in the first half. Everton led a charge just twenty minutes in and played the ball wide, only to get on the end of the resulting cross to put his side a goal ahead. Following this and the visitors continued to create chances and we were lucky to find ourselves not trailing by more. Minutes into the second half however and this became a reality, as Zielinski's first-time effort from outside the box whistled past Bednarz and in. Two-nil the final score and whilst it isn't the scoreline we'd hoped for, it could have been far worse on another day!

EUROPA LEAGUE FIRST KNOCKOUT ROUND 2ND LEG

https://i.imgur.com/9X0APOd.png?1


From Stockholm to the beautiful city of Naples for this one, and we knew that it would take something shy of a miracle to see us overturn the first leg defeat, especially given that we're playing at Napoli's Stadio San Paolo. Napoli must have been confident as a rotated side lined up in a much changed system to welcome us to Italy for the third time this season. A.C Milan loanee Teresi put Napoli ahead in the first half, with the youngster's shot from a tight angle having some real class about it as it arrowed its way into the top corner. As we pushed looking for an equaliser on the night and some hope for the tie, a quick Napoli counter saw the lead doubles, as Teresi played a ball in for Bos who had made a run behind and his first time finish across goal was good enough to beat Bednarz. The stats for this game say it all and paint a picture of a relentless Napoli attack, whilst we had our backs well and truly against the wall with the tie slipping out of our hands if it hadn't already. With a few minutes to go Gori managed to pull one back on home soil, but it wasn't enough to muster a historic comeback and we come crashing out of the Europa League.

Swedish Cup


Pre-season in Sweden in when the Group Stage of the domestic cup plays out, with qualification occurring mid-way through the league season. Four teams are drawn into a group with one qualification place on offer. Having won the league in back-to-back seasons I would consider us favourites for any group, but just who would we be drawn against?

https://i.imgur.com/ihtpWwk.png?1


AIK, Dalkurd FF and Syrianska FC would compete with us for the all important qualification spot. Having pushed us all the way for the last two seasons, AIK are possibly the toughest team we could be drawn against, whilst Dalkurd and Syrianska should being us six points. Our opening game against Syrianska saw us put four goals past them, a result we matched when we played Dalkurd. All we need to do is avoid a defeat at home against AIK, and we put them to the sword, winning two-nil. Onto the knockout rounds we go. Ostersunds stood in our way at the Quarter Final stage and two goals was enough to see us through to the Semi Final where we would play Helsingborgs. It surprised me to see Helsingborgs in the Semi Final to be honest and when full-time rang out in our match against them we had sealed our progression to the final with a four-nil win. In the other Semi Final last year's winners Malmo lost out to IFK Norrkoping and we'll play them in later on in the year in May.

https://i.imgur.com/AtTuzI4.png?1


Leaving Sweden?


https://i.imgur.com/nXSWKyq.png?1


The last piece of news to round out the pre-season was an offer to interview for the vacant Middlesbrough. At the time, they sat 9th in the Premier League due to the financial power afforded to them by new owner Prakash Prasoon. Much like with Celtic last season, I'll respectfully decline the offer. For now, my priority is to win the Swedish Cup and Super Cup (ticking off all possible trophies on offer in the top flight of Swedish football), however, if we fail to win the Swedish Cup for a second year on the bounce then I won't be sticking around for a third bit of the cherry as I'll likely resign after the game if we lose.

Next Update


April 2024!
April 2024


MATCHDAY 1

https://i.imgur.com/fMzauOb.png?1


Our hectic preseason of Europa League and Swedish Cup games was supplemented by a handful of other friendlies in order to build up fitness and confidence. Our first league game of the season saw us host Djurgardens in a game we should coast to a victory in. We got ourselves up and running for the season twenty-two minutes in when Lora slipped the ball inside to Svendsen who in turn clipped the ball towards the penalty spot where Gori headed home, opening his account for the year as he looks to be the leagues top goalscorer for a third year going. Ten minutes later and the lead had been doubled. Svensson's initial corner was cleared away as far as Tekie who struck the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.

MATCHDAY 2

https://i.imgur.com/TqawOu1.png?1


Our first away trip of the year saw us head to Orebro's Behrn Arena looking to build on our good start in the previous match. As has become a trademark of this Hammarby side, we kept a great deal of possession and took a lot of shots in the early exchanges though we found any reward hard to come by. That was until the last few minutes of the first half. A searching ball forward from Krantz found Gori up against his marker and with a drop of his shoulder the Italian got the better of his man and raced through to hammer a shot past the 'keeper and in. Minutes later and Gori and Andersson were in a similar position, but this time the Orebro man could only foul Gori. Up stepped Max Svensson over the resulting free-kick and his effort crashed off of the crossbar before bouncing on the line and in. Determined to get back into the game, Orebro started the second half with the same intensity that we finished the first with, and were rewarded minutes later when Nnamani's first-time strike from twenty-five yards beat Bednarz. We rallied back into the fixture but couldn't restore our lead. This would come back to bite us with fifteen minutes left to play as Jackobsson's deep freekick was met by Johansen who looped his header over Bednarz who had rushed into no man's land.

https://i.imgur.com/kbOzugN.png?1


Straight from kick off and goalscorer Johansen would receive his second yellow of the game for hacking down Lora, with the resulting freekick leading to substitute Exposito to score with his first touch of the game. Late on and three points would be sealed when Jantko's cross was flicked in at the near post by Exposito.

MATCHDAY 3

https://i.imgur.com/9MzDghA.png?1


With two wins under our belt so far we looked to be on track for another good season, but we'd need to be on top of our game against Ostersunds as they can prove to be tricky opponents when not respected. Thankfully then, Tomas Nemeth decided to play an absolute blinder on his first start for the club. Picking up the ball on the right wing he dribbled forward and inside before playing an inch perfect through ball between the two Ostersunds centerbacks for Gori to latch on to and finish with the outside of his boot. Tomas grabbed his second assist of the game not long after, getting past his man with ease and taking the ball to the byline, eventually squaring the ball for Exposito to tap in.

MATCHDAY 4

https://i.imgur.com/Inyhu56.png?1


Local rivals IFK Goteborg would be the next team to host us and try to prevent us from picking up all three points. Gabriele Gori continued his blistering start to the season just over a quarter of an hour into this one, tapping in from close range after a loose ball fell to him in the box. For all of our efforts on the attacking end of this game, we found a second goal hard to come by and gradually invited Goteborg back into the game. The sense that they would equalise grew and grew and sure enough they tied things up when we failed to clear the ball, leading to Affane spotting Borkeeiet on the edge of the box and his effort was palmed into the corner of the net by Bednarz. But with seconds to go Bednarz redeemed himself. Saving Affane's shot, he got straight to his feet and kicked the ball way up the pitch and over the Goteborg backline for Jantko to race on to and finish when one-on-one for his first goal for the club!

MATCHDAY 5

https://i.imgur.com/WoJQxLG.png?1


I've grown accustom now to the hectic opening month of Swedish football, yet each season it poses new challenges. In seasons gone by we've had issues with injuries, fitness or suspensions but this year we're faced with no such issues. Perhaps the only issue we have is to keep the same players motivated and focused, making sure not to take games for granted or to switch off. But that is exactly what we did in the first half of this game. For all of our possession and shots, we couldn't get a good look at goal and it came as no surprise when Sundsvall took their chance when it came to Fagerstrom. We left Palmov unmarked at a throw in and he whipped the ball to the back post where Lora had switched off and let Fagerstrom beat him to the ball for an easy tap in. The story was much the same for most of the second half, but as the minutes ticked away I told the players to push forward and throw everything at Sundsvall. Eventually we found ourselves level after a great Robert Andersson cross saw Gori tap in, and with the last kick of the game we managed to complete the comeback. Nemeth spotted Andersson high up on the wing and sprayed the ball to the young defender, who crossed into the middle for Nemeth, who's first time volley rebounded back to him for a tap in into an empty net. Not a great performance but when the wins come so late you can't help but celebrate.

MATCHDAY 6

https://i.imgur.com/I6i34MI.png?1


Having beaten AIK comprehensively in the Swedish Cup, a similar performance today wouldn't have been out of the question and would also have provided us with a vital win so early on into the season. But... nothing happened. At all. We failed to create chances like we usually do, but AIK also looked content to sit on the ball and not come forward, or press us when we had to the ball. A point gained, but could it have been more on another day?

MATCHDAY 7

https://i.imgur.com/CIDtmsC.png?1


Last season Landskrona were seen as an easy three points, with their survival in the league being a credit to their manager. However, this season the writing might already be on the wall for the west-Sweden side as they remain without a point in six games. So then, its only right that when they travelled to the Tele2, that they would play like a team challenging for a top four spot. Despite dominating the game, Landskrona shut absolutely everything down in this game and kept us at bay, with a string of good saves and blocks helping them keep us out. Late in the second half we had a chance to snatch three points from the spot when Degerlund was pushed by Belkheir, but Jantko's penalty was pushed away by Monty. Originally, Garmash was due to take the spot-kick but I thought Jantko could do with a goal to get him up and running (with only one goal to his name so far), but things weren't to be for the young striker. Two points dropped.

League Table and Form


https://i.imgur.com/OS1X3Uq.png?1


It is so vital to get off to a good start in the Allsvenskan, depending on who you play and what results go your way you could find yourself two, maybe three points clear by the end of April. Going unbeaten is as good a start as I could have wished for, although the draw to Landskrona was disappointing. On the plus side there have been some encouraging performances. Gori is firing on all cylinders when he is playing and Nemeth looks like he's been playing at this level for years. Exposito is doing a fine job too. Slightly concerning is the form of Jantko and the lapses in concentration that have seen us concede against Goteborg and Sundsvall. This team has goals in it for sure this year, but we also seem capable of shipping a few perhaps.

https://i.imgur.com/js7R8yX.png?1


But with seven games played we sit top of the league without a loss against our name and the best goal difference to boot! Malmo and AIK seem to have gotten off to poor starts which could be huge come the end of the season, whilst Djurgardens seem back to their best after a shaky few seasons. Its early stages but I think we could be in for a fun last year at Hammarby!
May 2024


Transfer


https://i.imgur.com/9npzlqL.png?1


Martin Pedersen - 20, DL - amidst all the action since the last season ended, I forgot to introduce Martin Pedersen to you all. Since I came in at Hammarby one of the biggest issues in the squad had been the quality of cover at left-back. Often, Sandberg had found himself playing out of position to cover Pode whilst right-back was filled by Lora and Andersson. Martin comes in to replace Sandberg in terms of being a back-up player, but he is a huge step up both in terms of ability and the fact he's a natural in the position!

MATCHDAY 8

https://i.imgur.com/Zm61SBa.png?1


Results towards the back-end of last month made me realise on thing, this team is capable of conceding goals this season. Even more so in those last games we seemed to dry up a touch on the creative side. Perhaps we'd been found out by the opposition, or perhaps we weren't getting the rub of the green. I'd be hoping for the latter, especially given our performance against Helsingborgs. We took an early lead through Gori after Tekie broke up a Helsingborgs move and played the striker in on the edge of the box, but moments later the hosts equalised when Pode lost his man 'round the back. Pode would again be caught out in this game as he left Petersson free at the back post for the Helsingborgs man to hand us a defeat in the last minute of regulation play. A shock defeat, a terrible performance, are the wheels coming off already?

MATCHDAY 9

https://i.imgur.com/sOxMcJJ.png?1


Having came up this year, Gefie IF should be fairly easy pickings. Should being the key word. They looked to be a level below us early doors, as Gori continued his blistering start to the season by converting a Nemeth pass. But a minute later things were even when Tafesse curled a free-kick over the wall and all Bednarz could do was punch the ball into the roof of the net. Not great from the Pole. We went into the half-time break a goal up courtesy of some good build up play from Nemeth, Exposito and Andersson seeing Gori head home at the back-post. However in the start of the second half Tafesse was afforded another opportunity from a dead ball situation, this time hitting his freekick in at Bednarz's near post rather than trying to beat the wall, and surely enough he levelled the scores once more. Moments later and we had a set piece of our own to convert and Tankovic duly obliged, sending the ball into the top corner. Three points were assured late on when Jantko set Exposito through and the Spaniard made no mistake one-on-one.

SWEDISH CUP FINAL

After heart-break in last year's final and a dominant qualification campaign, it all came down to this. Publicly, I had told the media this was ours to win and I was confident of doing so. Privately I had decided that losing this would spell the end of my tenure in Sweden, that I couldn't dust myself off and spend another year trying to win the cup. Our performances going into the final could have been much better, we'd been conceding more goals than I can remember and on the attacking front we've looked more than happy to squander chance after chance. We had the advantage of playing at home, but would we right to wrongs of last season...



https://i.imgur.com/FAcuyaw.png?1


We did it! Swedish Cup champions at last! Nine minutes in and Exposito headed a Svensson cross back across goal and in, and deep in stoppage time Erik sealed his brace after Svensson set him through on goal! After coming so close last season and missing out this is a huge achievement for the club. Not only are we league champions two seasons in a row, but we've gotten to the cup final two seasons in a row too! Could this be the beginning of a new dynasty in Swedish football?!

https://i.imgur.com/nWqHD90.png?1


https://i.imgur.com/kZ3yJ6w.png?1


On a personal note, winning the Swedish Cup has entered me into the Swedish Hall of Fame! A fantastic achievement if I do say so myself!


MATCHDAY 10

https://i.imgur.com/BBsQnjs.png?1


Despite having only picked up one loss so far this season, I feel like our performances have been some of our worst going into this one. Whilst the schedule may disagree and show that we've been winning games, dominating the ball and scoring goals, we've looked somewhat lucky in most of these games. Going into this one I saw it as a genuine challenge and a pivotal point in our season. If our strongest line-up could only muster a draw or narrow victory then I'll have concerns about our credentials this year. If we win emphatically it'll be a message to the league. Within the space of two minutes late on in the first half we showed a glimpse of the quality we have in the squad. A searching ball by Pedersen was overhit and Halmstads 'keeper Nilsson raced out of his box to clear, but scuffed his clearance to Gori who hit a first time volley from thirty-five yards into an open net. Gori turned provider a minute later, rolling his man at a throw in and crossing for Exposito to head home. We started the second half in a similar fashion, first Gori's poor penalty made its way into the back of the net before Exposito scored his second of the game just minutes later. If we can consistently show flashes of quality like we did in this game we'll be alright this season, but we need to sustain it.

MATCHDAY 11

https://i.imgur.com/KusSzDi.png?1


After we lost the in Swedish Cup final last season, we found ourselves playing against Malmo just days after they beat us. This season, we play IFK Norrkoping just days after we lifted the trophy in front of them, understandably then they wanted some sort of revenge. Svensson got us ahead after a cleverly disguised pass from Tekie inside the box, and Exposito made it two in the ninetieth minute after Soderstedt led a counter. The Norrkoping players must have been having flashbacks to the Cup final, two down with the latest coming in the last minute. Something in them decided they weren't about to let lightning strike twice. In the space of two injury-time minutes they flipped the game on its head. First, Larsson lofted a finish into the back of the net before Kusu scored a quite unbelievable goal, meeting a long ball inside the box and hitting a first time volley flying in from a tight angle. We've scored and conceded so good goals, but not many beat that. Absolutely two points dropped and when the players got into the dressing room I made sure that they knew how I felt.

MATCHDAY 12

https://i.imgur.com/dIBJ7Wc.png?1


Orgryte IS are a team who I see much in the same way as Halmstads. Failure to put goals past them will add to the gloomy atmosphere building in the club. We've been very erratic this season and if we can string together a few good performances starting with this game I'm sure that we can dispel the negativity and start looking like a side that has won the league for the past two years. A busy schedule saw a number of changes going into this one, such as David Ivan coming in for Denys Garmash, and the Slovakian midfielder would actually open the scoring for us. Consistent pressure saw Jantko's cross cleared to the edge of the box where Ivan's first-time volley made its way into the bottom corner. Jantko would go on to get the monkey off his back and add to his growing goal-tally in fortunate circumstances when Pode's low cross deflected off of Lagerbielke and into Milan's path for an easy finish at the near post. Late on and Jantko and Ivan would combine again, this time Jantko spotted Ivan free at the edge of the box and played his corner to the midfielder, who took a touch and dispatched a shot into the far corner. A much better result and performance, hopefully we can use this as a platform to get some momentum going!

MATCHDAY 13

https://i.imgur.com/H31aL1f.png?1


My time in Sweden is beginning to teach me one thing and that is that Malmo are not the force that they once were. In my first few months in charge or Hammarby they were a top three side, then they spent the majority of the next season in the bottom half of the table. Last season they looked resurgent but fell off towards the end of the year, and this time around they look confined to mid-table mediocrity. We looked back to our usual selves in this one as we put them to the sword and looked dangerous. Gori scored yet again in the eighteenth minute with a deft flick on from a Pode cross. Before the end of the first half, a long ball by Kairinen for Mushitu was overhit and looked simple for Linner to deal with but inexplicably the 'keeper handled the ball outside the box. Freekick to Malmo and a booking for Linner. Up steps Murg to whip the ball into the top corner and continue to a be a thorn in my side.

https://i.imgur.com/9ChLDml.png?1


Linner's blushes were spared however, as Ivan continued his fine run of form by dispossessing Kairinen on the edge of the Malmo box and smashing home from close range.

Form


https://i.imgur.com/YtumUML.png?1


The month of May has been a successful but massively confusing month. In the league we lost against a Helsingborgs side that we should never be losing to whilst looking poor against both Gefie and Norrkoping. We did however manage to pick up wins against Halmstads and Orgryte, but truth be told we looked fortunate to have won those games as convincingly as we did. Malmo didn't make things easy for us either it has to be said, yet we came away with all three points. A huge plus for us though has been the win in the Swedish Cup final! Like I've mentioned, it was my last opportunity to win the cup because I feel that sticking around the get to the final next year may hinder my chances of progressing in my career. I wouldn't want to waste another year in chasing a competition when I could be moving on, in the last two seasons alone I've been offered the chance to interview for some really interesting jobs.

June 2024


MATCHDAY 14

https://i.imgur.com/p5EpbIr.png?1


Traditionally in Sweden, only one game is played in June before teams head off for the mid-season break. Therefore, there is no real emphasis on how this one fixture affects form, morale and confidence. What I mean is that the next competitive game isn't for a whole month and in that time new signings may come in and change the course of a season drastically. Going into this one then, I told the lads to simply enjoy themselves. I feel that perhaps the high standards I've set for the team has put a lot of pressure on, which may be why I've been left slightly disappointed by our performances in recent weeks. Just minutes in and we found ourselves with a chance to go ahead when Nemeth picked the ball up on half-way and dribbled past two players and into the box only to be fouled. Having missed a penalty already this season, I told Jantko to take this one to see what he was made of, and the youngster delivered, clipping his penalty over the Hacken 'keeper and in. Before the half an hour mark and Gori decided he wanted in on the action, picking up a loose ball from a corner and beating the 'keeper all ends up. Muamer Tankovic made the most of his limited minutes in the second half, sending a rasping shot into the top corner from just inside the box and late on Gori doubled his tally for the day, converting a late penalty.

League Table


https://i.imgur.com/UaN92gg.png?1


With fourteen games played we find ourselves just under the half-way point in the season and we sit top of the league, three points clear of Djurgardens who look to be tricky customers this year, and five points clear of AIK who haven't endured the greatest half of a season by their standards. With only one defeat to our name so far, we look on course to match our points tally from last season or maybe even beat it by a point or two if we can avoid a few draws in the second half of the year. Regardless, we're on course for the three-peat.

Manager Update


I've decided that this will be my last season with Hammarby. The last thing I want to achieve is to seal the three-peat and (hopefully) get myself into the Favoured Personnel at least. Therefore, my main focus now is the league despite Champions League qualification on the horizon. My plan is to blitz through the rest of the season and for the next update to be an End of Season kind of update because it's time to get on to the next club, the next challenge, quickly.

Next Update


End of Season!
End of Season 2024


Having secured the Swedish Cup in the last update, my main aim was to get through the remainder of the season as quickly as possible so that I could begin looking for the net challenge sooner rather than later. With that said, were we able to complete a historic three-peat before leaving on a high?

Form


https://i.imgur.com/2MSzy86.png?1


With little over half of a season of league games left to play, as well as European qualification and fixtures to be played, we knew the fixture list would be tight in places.

Let's start off by addressing the European fixtures. Sparta Prague were the first side to face us and after a dominant first leg display we looked all but certain to qualify, yet almost let things slip in the home tie. This teed us up for a fixture against Rosenborg who fell apart upon their visit to Sweden, essentially handing us progression. The final qualification round saw us play Olympiakos over two legs and we dispatched the Greek giants to move into the Champions League Group Stage, although we did almost bottle it mind you! The draw could have been much more favourable, seeing us drawn against Liverpool, Porto and Shakhtar, with many people expecting us to put up little to no fight. Surprisingly, we got off to a flying start in the group, beating Shakthar four-nil at home, even going top of the group briefly. Heavy defeats to both Porto and Liverpool were expected, however the result in Portugal did flatter the hosts somewhat. Determined to see out the league campaign only, I didn't see any further matches in Europe so who knows what could have happened, but the writing was on the wall for the most part.

A quick mention to the Swedish Cup, we comfortably beat lower-league side BK Forward without breaking much of a sweat, ensuring the next manager qualifies for the Group Stage and can continue my legacy here.

Now on to the Allsvenskan. Could we win an unprecedented third title in a row? July saw us pick up three wins from three and score fourteen goals in the process as we came back from the mid-season break in scintillating form. August saw us carry on our fine form despite playing across multiple fronts that month. Unlike the first half of the season, we looked much more assured when playing lesser sides such as GIF Sundsvall and Gefie IF. September, despite looking good on paper, was not a good month for us. A draw against Helsingborgs could perhaps be attributed to a lack of match sharpness given a two-week break in fixtures, but losing against Halmstads was unacceptable, especially given the fact that we failed to score and until that point had been able to put goals past anyone in the league. We did manage to bounce back however, but performances were less than pleasing. Narrow wins against Landskrona and Norrkoping were sealed in the dying minutes of both games, whilst a three-one scoreline away to Orgryte was flattering to say the least. If performances were bad in September then October has to go down as disastrous. Despite not playing well in recent weeks we'd still been able to churn out results, like champions do, but the wheels began to fall off in the latter stages of the season. A scrappy win away to Djurgardens was followed up by a humbling defeat against Malmo as our grip on the league began to slip. However, results around the league worked in our favour and a win against BK Hacken could seal a third league title. With the added pressure, the boys stepped up to shake off some poor recent form and being the Allsvenskan home yet again! We followed this up with a loss to rivals AIK before we finished the season in November with a routine win against Kalmar, letting us parade the trophy in front of the home crowd.

I was shocked to see us win the league if I'm honest. Our form wasn't necessarily bad but it was the way we played from September onwards that could have cost us the title. Maybe the result of a packed fixture list but players definitely started to burn out earlier than usual. Gori's form continued until late August, as did Jantko's, but in the later stages of the season the goals dried up and to an extent so did the creativity of the wingers. Thankfully we managed to pick up a lot of points before the mid-season break, and all the narrow, late wins did help massively.

Transfer


As the Transfer Window opened up across Europe's bigger leagues, it was inevitable that there would be interest in some of our younger talents such as Pode, Bednarz, Jantko and Krantz. Both Pode and Krantz had offers reaching as high as £17.5million made for them, whilst I made the decision to sell Bednarz for a fee rising as high as £28million to RB Leipzig, meaning Oscar Linner was our number one for the back-end of the season, perhaps an explanation as to why we conceded more goals here than we did before. Back to the transfer itself, Bednarz didn't express a desire to leave, nor did he hand in a transfer request so my hand wasn't forced. The board didn't accept a bid for me either. The money that was offered, in my opinion, was too good to turn down for a club like Hammarby and could really help the club grow and invest in other areas, plus, we had a homegrown replacement in Linner ready to fill the gap left by the young Polish 'keeper.

League Table


https://i.imgur.com/rhaA6zq.png?1


Champions for a third year running! Plus with a Swedish Cup win under our belt this season too, all signs point to Hammarby being able to dominate Swedish football for the coming years. Our record of twenty-two wins, four draws and four defeats actually saw us pick up our highest points tally during my stay in Sweden and also the record for the most points in a single Allsvenskan season. More so, we managed to score the record number of goals in an Allsvenskan season too, suggesting our strength lies in attacking areas, whereas in previous seasons we won the league on the back of a fine defence.

Final Thoughts


I made my intentions clear mid-way through the season that this would be my last here in Sweden. I've loved every minute it of it too, even though the fixture congestion can be a nightmare at times! Generally speaking, we've progressed the club massively since I took over. In our first season we played a slightly more defensive 4-5-1 variant before we won the league in 2022 playing a more defensive 4-2-2-2. We built upon our defensive system last year before going for a more all-out attacking system this year. One thing that has remained consistent though has been the development of young players since I took over. I wouldn't guess what the average age of the squad was when I took over but I can guarantee its years younger now. Speaking of the squad, the turnover of players since I took over has been quite high and I really feel like I've built my own team here. Of our typical starting eleven this season, nine players were signed by me and of the eighteen players selected for match-day anywhere between thirteen to fifteen players were signed by me. We moved a long way from the days of Okereke, Jeppe and Erik Andersson and the likes. I can't even remember the name of our original starting left-back!

Next Step


https://i.imgur.com/AZ3ECkK.png?1


With all this said then, its time to depart from Hammarby. Like I said, I've enjoyed every moment of my time here and I leave with mixed feelings. I'm sad to leave, but happy to have endured a successful and fruitful time in Sweden. Many a cult-hero was born here, particularly Gabriele Gori who might be my favourite player from my journey so far. With three league titles and a cup winners medal in my bag, I set sail for pastures new and even managed to get into the club's Favoured Personnel (though I would have expected to have gotten Icon status having brought the club its only silverware to date!).

My aims for now are to get a short-term gig somewhere. Maybe take over a mid-table team with a few months left and propel them to promotion success, or maybe take over the helm of a team in a relegation dogfight and guide them to safety before leaving in the summer. Who knows what could come up!

Next Update


Job Hunting!

Well done on some very good years in Sweden mate! Always god to leave on your own accord and on a high. Would you consider another job in Sweden or are you wanting somewhere completely different? Looking forward to seeing where you end up.
Thanks as always @bigmattb28, I think my time in Sweden is done for and hopefully Hammarby should be in good stead to dominate for a few years to come!

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The Job Hunt


I decided to take four months off of football, just so that the major European leagues to settle and for the landscape of football to continue to change. On the 10th of February I decided it was time to dip my toes into the managerial waters once again, but first I needed some interesting prospects to emerge...

Job One - Dijon - predicted a lower mid-table finish at the beginning of the year, Dijon found themselves a few places above the relegation zone and with a manager who found himself losing support on a daily basis. The French club opted to remove him from his duty and so I applied.

Job Two - Nantes - sticking in France but moving into Ligue 2, Nantes were expected to be there or thereabouts when it comes to promotion but for one reason or another they were sitting one place outside of the playoffs. With a squad more than capable of pushing for promotion, I thought that a Ligue 2 promotion wouldn't go amiss on the CV.

Job Three - SPAL - after a shock relegation to Serie B, SPAL find themselves mid-table going in to the latter stages of the season. Tipped to win the league, the previous regime was deemed to be failing and removed. With a squad more than capable of gaining promotion on paper it could be a similar situation to Nantes, but football isn't played on paper, is it?

Job Four - Sivasspor - the fourth job I had applied for and one I knew the least about. I always pictured Sivasspor as an upper mid-table side, so I was surprised to see them tipped for the bottom half this season and meeting these expectations. I'd never have imagined myself applying for this kind of job when I left Hammarby, but it could help my showcase some of my credentials.

Job Five - Alaves - the fifth and most unlikely job I applied for, and its not because they're in too high a league. Alaves sit rooted to the bottom of La Liga and a quick look at their squad doesn't do much for the optimist in me. Nevertheless, my application was sent off. Surely if I can turn around Alaves' season my stock can only go up?

Job Six - Brighton and Hove Albion - the last job I applied for as I looked for my next challenge. Sitting in the relegation places in the Premier League, Brighton are in need of new management. With a good squad at their disposal (it certainly isn't worse than the other relegation-threatened sides), I'm confident I'll be able to keep the Seaside outfit up.

So where would I end up?

https://i.imgur.com/t9oVVqb.png?1


I'll be taking my talents to northern Italy! I'll be making the 2,153 kilometre trek south from Hammarby through to Denmark in order to get to Hamburg and continue south through Munich before finally arriving in Ferrara. The board initially wanted to give me a two-year deal but instead I negotiated a cheaper deal for the remaining four months of the season. So without any further introductions, let's get right into the nitty-gritty.

Form


https://i.imgur.com/HUPOJls.png?1


At first glance it is obvious where the problems have been this season. The main issue seems to have been consistency, with the side having not won back-to-back games since December, which in itself was the first time this had happened all year. This isn't to say that the previous manager had been losing games, far from it in fact, but wins must have just been to far apart and many of the games between wins ending level.

League Table


https://i.imgur.com/kz53EoT.png?1


What this means is that the club sits eightieth in the league after twenty-five games, despite being predicted to finish first. Currently we sit in the last qualification place for the playoffs, but the playoffs are only played if the gap between third and fourth place is less than fifteen points, though this total currently stands at three points. With all this in mind, we only sit eleven points off of the automatic promotion places although our best shot at promotion is going to be via the playoffs.

The Squad


https://i.imgur.com/ip4GLYD.png?1


I'm lucky to have inherited a reasonably strong squad. We've got a good quality starting 'keeper and some real star players in the backline. The midfield has plenty of options and in the attacking area we have the league's top goalscorer in Dorella, although the quality behind him is questionable at first glance. Seeing as I'm only here initially on a very short-term deal, I'm not planning on re-shaping the playing staff and so we're going to go back to basics and play a flat 4-4-2. There's no time to change the face of the club - you can't reinvent the wheel in a day after all.

Aims


The immediate aim for the rest of this season is to try and gain promotion back to Serie A, likely via the Playoffs. I feel that Benevento, Lecce and Pescara are out of reach, or that we would have to win all of our remaining games if we're to go up automatically, and given the inconsistent form the squad has endured this season, that could be a huge task. Having only signed a short-term deal, it will be up to the board if they want to keep me beyond my current deal. But would I want to stay on? The aim for any job was always going to be to see their season out and either gain promotion or avoid relegation depending on their situation. If we can gain promotion then I'll have to strongly consider staying, but as I said this is entirely dependent on the board.

March 2025


MATCHDAY 26

https://i.imgur.com/oW86NEo.png?1


With only three days to get to know the squad and get them playing in a way I want, we were always going to be asking for a huge effort from the players in order to win. I didn't even have an assistant in place when the game kicked off. I wasn't sure what to expect and it was clear to see that the players were adapting to the new style of play I was asking them to play. We didn't really get into the game and Perugia probably edged us for the most part. But late on we found ourselves celebrating. I'd instructed Lazzari to push higher up and this resulted in him playing a whipped ball to the back post where loanee Dorella volleyed home to se my time in Italy off to a winning start!

MATCHDAY 27

https://i.imgur.com/TbqeoEz.png?1


Unlike in Sweden, there is something that closely resembles a more structured fixture list. Over a week had passed from the win at Perugia and as more time passed I was able to gain a better idea of what my best eleven is in the run up to my first home game. Walking out into the Stadio Paolo Mazza for the first time I was greeted with a wall of blue and white support. Support that had increased at full-time thanks to two near-identical Iban Oliveira goals in each half. Two wins from two as we look to secure our places in the Playoff conversation!

MATCHDAY 28

https://i.imgur.com/z5RR546.png?1


Having played well in the last two games and being rewarded for our efforts, we were faced with a huge test in only our third game as manager. We travelled to league leaders Benevento. A win here would be huge for us in terms of gaining ground on the automatic promotion places but winning would also solidify our Playoff ambitions. To my surprise, we held Benevento and it could be argued that we edged the game, although the home side did have more shots. Definitely a point gained and there were a lot of positives to take from this one. We're as good as the league leaders and this could be a platform for us to push on.

MATCHDAY 29

https://i.imgur.com/EgHccnj.png?1


We rounded out the month with a home game against Foggia. Honestly, its a nice change of pace to be playing four matches in one month in a home-away format. Towards the end of my time in Sweden I was aware of what each team offered and what kind of game to expect, but now I don't have that luxury. Yes I can look at the table to gauge how could teams could be, but this is not a guarantee. So, going into this one I felt as though our good start would come to an abrupt stop. Utility-man Mazraoui got us ahead half an hour in when he picked the ball up inside the box and shaped to cross, but shot at the last second to catch the 'keeper off-guard. Oliveira scored a third goal since my arrival mid-way through the second half in a similar manner to his previous goals, a thunderous effort from the edge of the box making its way past the 'keeper. Things turned sour for us in the last ten minutes however and gave me an insight as to why form has been inconsistent. We switched off entirely and allowed the visitors back into the game. One such chance led to them gaining a corner in the ninetieth minute and the defence switched off, allowing Rodriguez to peel off of the front post, bring the ball down in front of the 'keeper and poke home under no pressure from the three SPAL players around him. You'd have thought we would have learnt our lesson, but in the dying moments we came off the better team from a goal-line scramble, with Foggia rueing a missed chance from just yards out.

League Table and Form


https://imgur.com/06shbiK


Our first month at SPAL couldn't have gone much better. Beating Benevento would have been the icing on the cherry but matching them feels as good as a win. On the pitch we're yet to see the best of Dorella or the other attacking players at our disposal but I'm sure they're getting used to the new system. Defensively we've been sound, only conceding the one goal. Ten points from a possible twelve haven't gone amiss, but what have they done to the league table?

https://i.imgur.com/TjxsoFU.png?1


We've climbed the table by two places, but any progress is good progress in my eyes. Our next game sees us face-off against Parma in a huge game in and around the top of the table. Ten points separate us from second place and with nine games left to go it seems that automatic promotion is now officially out of the picture and so the aim remains to finish as high as possible to get as favourable a draw as possible in the Playoffs! Can we do it? Who knows!

Next Update


April 2025
Congrats on getting the Spal job mate, they're a decent enough side you could potentially build something there, but I know Serie A can be hard work especially as Juventus never slip up and there's at least another 6 top teams.I'm sure you'll get out of Serie B soon enough.
There is definitely potential here @bigmattb28, but there will be no talk of Serie A until we know our fate for next year!

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April 2025


MATCHDAY 30

https://i.imgur.com/G4G4AzH.png?1


Just days before our game against fellow Playoff chasers Parma, I was told that first choice goalkeeper Lezzerini will be out for a few games due to injury, meaning Saracco will have to deputise. Not great news at all going into the last stretch of the season, so we'll have to make sure we work twice as hard to pick up wins in Lezzerini's absence. We did put in some good, solid defensive work against Parma it has to be said, we made some good blocks and forced them to run into the channels for the most part and to his credit, Saracco played well between the sticks for us. But it was our efforts on the attacking front that have left me concerned. Dorella is still the league's top goal scorer but has netted just once since I came to the club, whilst Schmelzinger and Scaffidi look devoid of confidence in front of goal.

MATCHDAY 31

https://i.imgur.com/cB8RFa3.png?1


Joining Lezzerini on the Physio's table before this game was young academy product Filippi, who picked up an injury in training. Experienced winger Amin Younes comes in to fill his position in left-midfield for our tie at home against Pisa. With something of a point to prove, Younes found himself directly involved for the first goal as his well placed freekick crept inside Cardelli's far post half an hour into the match. On the stroke of half-time Younes had made it two, this time he collected Cortinovis' lay-off and curled an absolute scorcher into the top corner from distance - Cardelli couldn't get near it! I noticed towards the end of last month that we have a slight tendency to switch off in the latter stages of games, and we continued this trend in this game. Substitute Tremolada picked the ball up from thirty or so yards out and curled a shot into the bottom corner. That was all Pisa could muster however and we ended the game with three points in the bag.

MATCHDAY 32

https://i.imgur.com/MshYzR2.png?1


We'd been on an impressive run of form since I took the reigns at the club and it had me thinking that we were long overdue a humbling. To my surprise it wasn't one of the teams chasing promotion that taught us a lesson, but rather one of the teams looking to avoid relegation. We were off to a nightmare start as straight from kick-off Dimarco got himself forward from left-back and crossed into the box, but his cross hit Mazraoui's leg and cannoned back off of his own leg, eventually rolling into the path of Occhipinti for an easy tap-in. We got ourselves back into the game not long after, but it would be through a Scaglia own-goal rather than one of our own attacking players getting on the scoresheet. We've seen some cracking goals of late and the ante was raised a minute after the scores were level. Picking up the ball in the middle of the park, about thirty-five yards out, Redaelli hit a knuckleball that dipped at the last second over Saracco's head, putting the hosts back in the lead. I told the boys to go all out in search of something for the rest of the game and this would inevitably come back to bite us, as Occhipinti got his second of the game when his outside-of-the-boot shot flew into the bottom corner. Catania made it four through a neat set piece routine that saw Galbiati beat the offside trap, and we would score a late penalty too, but it would be too late as we suffered our first defeat as SPAL manager.

MATCHDAY 33

https://i.imgur.com/zyo9PpA.png?1


My time in Sweden taught me that momentum is hugely important when pursuing a goal, and so I was keen to avoid back-to-back defeats in our next game at home to Catanzaro because if our form drops off that could spell the end of our Playoff dreams. Back in the starting line-up after their injuries, Lezzerini and Filippi had us back to our strongest contingent. Filippi would find himself over a freekick just nine minutes in and he delivered a flat, pacey ball into the box which Donadello converted into his own net. The theme of the month has been incredible goals, and clearly Cortinovis wanted in on the action. Deep into the second half he played a one-two with Salerno in the middle of the pitch with neither player really going anywhere and so Cortinovis tried his luck and his strike from twenty-five, maybe thirty, yards curled into the top corner. Three points were wrapped up and sealed in the latter stages of the game when Battistelli met Campagna's corner to score his first goal for the club.

MATCHDAY 34

https://i.imgur.com/3zYQTY2.png?1


Carpi would be our next opponents and our last of the month as we aimed to finish the season strong by picking up another three points. It only took a minute before the first and only goal of the game was scored. Lazzari dribbled his way down the box and played the ball inside to Dorella, who held the ball up and played it into the path of academy-graduate Salerno, who's shot was low and accurate enough to find its way into the back of the net.

League Table and Form


https://i.imgur.com/opWrf0o.png?1


Our good form looks to have continued into April for the most part. Parma are right up there in the table with us and so to avoid defeat was huge for us, although three points would have been bigger! The loss to Catania was tough to take especially given how well we'd looked in recent weeks, but I'd rather have lost to them than a team around us chasing promotion. Since Lezzerini has come back from injury we've looked like a much more solid defensive unit and this might be the key to our season. Our strikers have only scored one goal between the three of them since my appointment as manager and last month I gave them the benefit of the doubt by saying they were adjusting to the new tactic. Now though, I struggle to see how Dorella is the league's top goal scorer! I've seen him hit shots straight at the 'keeper from yards out when it looked easier to score than miss! Going into the last month of league fixtures we can't rely on our midfield to be creating and scoring goals for us and I worry that we'll run out of steam. For now though, all I can do is enjoy the good form we've had.

https://i.imgur.com/jH0FRhP.png?1


Our form has been good enough to see us stay in sixth place in the league and as things stand we're still in line to make the Playoffs. With two games left to play automatic promotion isn't off the cards yet, although I think we can agree that it would take a miracle to see us somehow end up first or second. That being said, our spot in the Playoffs is hardly clinched either, as only four points sit between us and ninth place! Our remaining fixtures see us face Brescia (who are currently fourteenth) and Entella (who are fighting for their safety) meaning that we've got a relatively easy run in, but anything could happen!

Next Update


May 2025!
May 2025


MATCHDAY 35

https://i.imgur.com/S7s054E.png?1


With two games left to play, a win at home to Brescia should all but confirm our place in the Playoffs! For once we started a game and managed to look the better side in terms of getting ourselves a number of good looks at goal whilst limiting our opponents. With the injury to Cortinovis, Salerno stepped back into the starting line-up and I credit him with an assist for our opening goal against Brescia. Salerno laid the ball off to Oliveira on the edge of the box and his first time shot hit the crossbar and bounced down onto the back of thirty-six year old Jasper Cillessen, rolling across the line. With the crossbar denying Oliveira in the first-half, he made sure he got his goal in the second-half. A trademark strike from the A.C Milan loanee as he drilled the ball into the corner from outside the box. As soon as the shot went in I told the directors to get on the phone to Milan and extend his loan, he's been amazing for me! Five minutes later and our inevitable wobble reared its head as we switched off from a corner and allowed the ball to be played to a free Magri who struck the ball across his body and into the back of the net.

MATCHDAY 36

https://i.imgur.com/G5bcdoa.png?1


The last league game of the season came around a lot quicker than I thought it would and it marks my eleventh game in charge of SPAL already! With a Playoff berth all but confirmed, winning here would help us get as favourable a draw as possible! And a win was what looked on the cards for us at half-time as we cruised into the break with a four goal lead! Within six minutes Dorella had finally ended goal drought! For the first goal, Vicari played a long ball over the top to Schmelzinger who raced into the box and cut the ball back for Dorella to tap in; I've seen him miss these opportunities already! Straight from kick-off Entella gave the ball away and Lezzerini rolled the ball out to Battistelli this time lifted the ball over the Entella defence for Dorella who finished when one-on-one with Tozzo. Oliveira continued his incredible form with another spectacular goal as this time Murru's cross was headed out by Vasko and Oliveira hit a first time volley from the edge of the 'D' into the top corner. Again Entella lost the ball from kick off and this time Mazraoui played a ball into the back post aiming for Schmelzinger but Bell got in front of our man and headed the ball across goal where Dorella volleyed home at the near post. Not a bad time to rediscover his form at all!!!

Playoff Draw


So our form since my arrival was good enough to see us secure a place in the Playoffs! We join Salernitana, Pescara, Parma, Verona and Foggia and with some good sides in the draw we'll do well to go all the way! So who would we find ourselves playing?

https://i.imgur.com/StvI8Gb.png?1


We'll be playing Foggia! Foggia only just scrapped into the draw by virtue of Juventus Under-23s not being allowed to get promoted. Elsewhere in the same round Parma face Verona, whilst in the other round of fixtures Salernitana and Pescara play for a place in the Final. Having already played, and beaten Foggia in my tenure thus far, I'm confident we can get a result! But its the Playoffs and anything can happen!!!

Next Update


The Serie B Playoffs!
Serie B Playoffs (May/June 2025)


SERIE B PLAYOFFS PRELIMINARY ROUND

We've been handed a favourable draw in the Preliminary Round of the Playoffs, facing off against Foggia, who we've beaten since we touched down in Italy. We came into this one in good form too, Dorella in particular seems to have found his goal scoring touch which has been the final piece of the puzzle as in recent weeks we've created a lot of good opportunities but we've rarely put them away. Foggia come into this one having finished ninth in the league but qualify because Juventus' Under 23's can't gain a top-flight spot, so how would we fare against a side that is essential mid-table fodder?

For once we looked a much better side than our opposition. Our passes looked slick and our dribbles looked dangerous. Even better was the defensive efforts that kept Foggia at bay and so from the dugout I was waiting for us to take a chance going forward. Just over half an hour had been played when Lazzari came down the wing and swung the ball into the box looking for Dorella but Foggia cleared the ball. Roberto Filippi controlled the clearance and took the ball outside of the box, stood the ball up and managed to curl the ball into the bottom corner despite having players surrounding him. Not a bad time for the academy product to come good!

Filippi would notch his second for the game in the second half, although the goalkeeping was less than admirable. Filippi's left-footed freekick just left of the box curled up and over the wall but looked to be curling straight into the 'keeper's arms, only for the ball to be punched into the roof of the net. Bentivegna must have liked what he saw, as the Foggia man scored a carbon copy of the goal just minutes later to make the score two-one.

With players tiring in the latter stages of the game, we switched away from our flat 4-4-2 and adopted a 4-1-2-1-2 diamond as we do in most games, with Campagna at the tip and Dona at the base. Both players would be directly involved in setting fellow substitute Younes free in the box, with Dona winning the ball and playing it to Campagna who saw Younes run, and the experienced winger hit a cross across the face of goal where Dorella tapped in! Campagna added a second assist just minutes later, spotting Scafidi free inside the box and the striker's first time shot made its way into the back of the net! Not a bad time to snap out of a very long cold-streak! Into the semi-final we go!

https://i.imgur.com/r5ceCET.png?1


SERIE B PLAYOFFS SEMI FINAL LEG 1

Whilst we were bust playing Foggia, Pescara and Salernitana played each other in the other Preliminary Round fixture. Pescara got the better of the team from the south-west. We would therefore play Pescara over two legs, with both sides aiming to book a place in the final. Having not played Pescara yet, I only had their reputation to help me figure out what we were up against, we'd have to play well if we were to get anything.

The early exchanges of the game seemed to suggest that both sides were equal and it would be a case of one team taking their chances before the other. A succession of good saves and blocks kept us at bay, until a vintage Oliveira strike edged us ahead. Pescara headed clear a cross out past the 'D' but Iban got to the ball first, set his sights on the bottom corner and let fly and fierce low shot that found its target!

Early on in the second half and I was left scratching my head from the bench. A deep cross from Murru was intended to make its way into the box but it failed to beat the first man and as the ball looped up in the air the referee blew his whistle. Penalty! The replays suggest that Scaffidi, the presumed target for the cross, was taken out in an off-ball incident by Scuglia! Having won the penalty, Scaffidi placed the ball down on the spot and rolled the penalty into the bottom corner to extend our lead!

https://i.imgur.com/BSqJQIp.png?1


SERIE B PLAYOFF SEMI FINAL LEG 2

Having beaten Pescara on our own patch, we set ourselves in good stead for the second leg. But before the game had even started we knew this would be a much tougher affair. Not only did Pescara have it all to play for, but second choice centre-back Vicari picked up an injury in training during the week, whilst third choice centre-back Omeruo had been called up for an international fixture, during the Playoffs!!! Fourth choice Andrea Manara would make his way into the starting eleven then, no pressure!

Within fifteen minutes of the game being played I had an idea of the kind of afternoon that was in store for us. Dorella managed to notch an early goal for us when his long-range shot caught the 'keeper out, but Pescara quickly equalised through Pessina, who flicked on Elanga's corner at the near post. Would the presence of Vicari changed things? Who knows, but the early signs suggest that this game will have goals in it!

To keep the squad fresh, a few changes had to be made before kick-off. Young winger Filippi was rested and in came Younes, who has a contract to play for. He certainly gave me plenty to think about before the end of the first half, when Lazzari's cross was cleared as far as Younes, who took one touch before rifling a shot into the top corner from outside the box. A key theme in recent games has been Lazzari's crosses from wide positions, as often they require the full attention of the defence, meaning they often don't pay full attention to the players lurking on the edge of the box. This was a theme that was repeated early in the second half although this time Lazzari's cross had too much on it for Zampano to deal with as he could only put it past his own goalkeeper. Younes continued to give me a headache regarding his contract situation, as he doubled his tally for the day with an absolute scorcher from distance after shrugging off a Pescara defender.

For as good as we've looked this season, we've also switched off a few times in the latter stages of games. I was hoping that we would see out the rest of this game but we failed to stay focused for the duration. Nicolas Penner was afforded too much space and time on the edge of the box and his shot from just inside the box had too much power on it and Lezzerini could only push the ball into the top corner. There isn't much more Lezzerini could have done on this one, but perhaps a stronger wrist would have done us a world of good. Lezzerini's day wasn't done there either. Late on, Brugman's freekick was clipped into the box and Moretti glanced a header towards the top corner but was denied by the crossbar, but the rebound dropped onto the back of Lezzerini and it bounced into the back of the net.

With a lot of action in this game, the question is, was it enough for us to make the final...?

https://i.imgur.com/z3KkKNa.png?1


With two goals in the bag from the first-leg, we win the tie 6-3 and progress into the Serie B Playoff Final with our sights set on Serie A football!

SERIE B PLAYOFF FINAL LEG 1

Two games stand between us and Serie A football. Two games against Parma no less, who going into the Playoffs were a side I didn't want to face at all. Having played them once and drawing nil-nil I know that they are a good side, one that are unlucky to not have been promoted automatically no less. A day before the match we found out that Dorella would have to sit on the bench as he picked up a bruise in training and with Vicari still out we were far from full strength.

When we played Foggia in the first match, we looked a much better side and this was the case for Parma in this game. They looked quicker, sharper and much the better side whilst we failed to grow into the game. Korean attacker Marvin particularly looked a threat and in fact opened the scoring. Parma played the ball around the edge of our box as if it were there own and Marvin's curling effort was good enough to beat Lezzerini who could only get a fingertip to the ball. Rather against the run of play we responded before half-time. Collecting a pass from Cortinovis, local lad Salerno struck a thunderous effort from the edge of the box that was in the back of the net before Minelli could react. Game on.

Our goal had come at the right time, giving us confidence and making Parma think of a new game plan at half-time. A game plan that perhaps hurt us more than it helped us. Long balls quickly became Parma's go-to in the second half and it paid off for them too, as Marvin was sent to chase one. Thankfully we were able to regroup at the back, but we couldn't stop Marvin moving inside and using the defenders in front of him to block Lezzerini's view of his shot, which found the back of the net.

Parma looked content to sit on their lead, whilst we looked shocked to the core. In need of a goal to get back in the tie, I told the boys to throw all they had into attacking and I moved our two centre-midfielders further forward and play as attacking midfielders in an unconventional inverted 4-2-2-2. With more attacking players pushing up the pitch, the idea was to force Parma into turning over the ball and using our numbers in attack to capitalise on the mistake. With minutes left, Parma had a throw in by their own corner flag which Pontisso inexplicably threw to Masolini who was being tightly marked by substitute Dorella who won the ball and then had an easy cross to Schmelzinger who had lost his marker at the back post and tied the scores up!

https://i.imgur.com/HcGJFOd.png?1


SERIE B PLAYOFF FINAL LEG 2

Late drama in the first leg set us up for a huge clash in the second leg. Neither team could rely on an advantage and it would be all to play for, the perfect Playoff Final if you asked me - high stakes and huge reward for whoever wins! Dorella was fully fit after making a cameo at the end of the last game, however with Vicari out and Omeruo still away our defence still left me concerned.

Over the last few days, I extended as many of the loans as possible for next season. If we lose the Final and I'm out of the door, at least the next manager can inherit a talented squad. But one player doesn't fancy staying around for the next year. That player is Alessandro Cortinovis, but thankfully the midfielder left us a leaving present! Ten minutes had been played when the midfielder scored a very simple goal, flicking Lazzari's corner in at the near post.

Parma looked a completely different side it had to be said. Perhaps the early goal took the wind out of their sales? Maybe the importance of the game weighed on them too much? Or maybe they were trying something different compared to the first leg? Either way, we heaped on the pressure and came just millimetres away from doubling our lead but a fine save from Minelli pushed the ball onto the base of the post before it was cleared up-field to Marvin who carried the ball deep into our half and crossed to the back-post where Mammarella volleyed home. From one end to the other in the blink of an eye!

Early into the second half and Filippi stood over a freekick on the wing and as he so often does, drilled a ball flat into the box but this time it was set to go out, only for Battistelli to leap highest at the byline and keep the ball alive. It seemed like the whole world stopped to watch where the header went, all but one man anyway. Cortinovis reacted first to strike a volley from close range that whistled past Minelli, there was nothing he could do about that one!

Then, nothing for over half an hour. Parma looked stunned, shooting from range and their key player couldn't get a sniff of the ball. Ninety minutes were played, added time was played and then the final whistle. Two-one winners with it all to play for!

https://i.imgur.com/MFcP2S0.png?1


Which can only mean...

https://i.imgur.com/1EPiZNO.png?1


We are going up! Admittedly with the players we have we should never have been in a doubt, but equally I'm thankful the previous manager left and I could steer the side into Serie A! What an achievement! Sure, it would have taken a disaster for us to not qualify for the Playoffs, but its one thing to qualify and another to win them! Back in the big time! WE ARE GOING UP SAID WE ARE GOING UP!

And to top it all off!

https://i.imgur.com/whJvKtx.png?1


I was offered a new deal before the second leg but the decision to stay was always going to be based on what happened in the final. A days after the game the board came to me after I delayed making a decision on their initial offer but this time I accepted. The future looks bright and with the right transfers we should be able to avoid relegation next year!

Next Update


Season Review!
Promoted! Great achievement man! Hopefully you can keep this team in Serie A next year.
Fingers crossed for sure @bigmattb28!

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Season Review


Having only taken the SPAL job a few months ago, there isn't a great deal of reviewing we can do. In terms of league position, we moved up from eighth to fifth without exactly pulling up trees in the process. More so, we only played a handful of games. The intention from the start of getting the job was always to see out the season and do so on a short-term contract. If we didn't get promoted I would have likely left in search of a new club that I could be at the helm of at the start of the new season. Thankfully though, we did manage to return to Serie A which is great for the club and looks good on my CV.

League Table


https://i.imgur.com/Hwe2erS.png?1


Like I said, there isn't too much to write home about with regards to the league. With teams three through to eight qualifying for the Playoffs in most seasons, we would have been qualified if the season ended when we took over. Our qualification therefore becomes less of an achievement, but I'll take nothing away from our performances in the Playoffs themselves!

End of Season Awards


https://i.imgur.com/85kWLgB.png?1


Experienced winger Lazzari managed to win the Player of the Year award, but with his eyes firmly set on Serie A since the club was relegated I imagine the accolade means very little to him. Interestingly so he won the award without really grabbing the headlines, only garnering a total of eight goal contributions in almost forty games.

https://i.imgur.com/1U4zqXf.png?1


A.C Milan loanee Iban Oliveira won the Young Player of the Year award and given his form since I took over in March its no surprise at all. A workhorse in the middle of the park with a mean shot from distance, Iban won points for us on his own in the back end of the season and I'll be glad to have his services again next year.

https://i.imgur.com/Jg9DVa9.png?1


Another player on loan with us, Alessandro Dorella, won the Top Goalscorer award after netting nineteen goals in thirty-nine appearances. It shocked me to see that nobody caught up to him after he went so long without scoring after I came in, but when he eventually found the back of the net he made up for it, scoring goals when they counted. His loan is another that has been extended for next season so hopefully he can do the business for us again next year.

https://i.imgur.com/RMETsUi.png?1


An interesting Team of the Year was selected this year. An aged Craig Cathcart finds a place in the heart of the defence after a one of the best seasons of his career, whilst Cortinovis and Dorella made it into the side for us.

Transfers for Next Season


Before the Playoffs had been played, a number of pre-contract agreements were signed with players for next season. As I've said before, I wanted to leave the next manager with a good squad if we weren't promoted which tells you how confident I was in the side going into the Playoffs. There are one or two quality players coming in on these deals and some that would have been great Serie B quality but with us now heading into Serie A they may not have the quality needed to be a guaranteed starter. On the plus side, it still leaves us with a large chunk of our transfer budget to spend looking for good quality players so we'll have to see what the summer brings!

Next Update


Pre-Season Review!
Preseason 2025/26


With the dust settling on our promotion back to Serie A via the Playoffs, I knew we had a long summer of business ahead of us if we wanted to maintain our top flight status. Work had already begun before the season had finished. I wasn't sure if I would be sticking around at SPAL if we missed out on promotion and so a whole host of players were signed on pre-contract deals before the Playoff final and a few more players had signed contracts ahead of pre-arranged moves in the summer. So without further ado, let's take a look at some of the new faces gracing the Stadio Paolo Mazza.

Transfers


NOTE: Having played on by a month and a bit, I've hidden the player's performance stats as to not give anything away!

https://i.imgur.com/60HAtWh.png?1


Before getting into the nitty-gritty of who's joined the club there is one glaring exit that we need to cover. Starting centreback Francesco Vicari had an active relegation release clause in his contract because we still hadn't been recognised as a Serie A side yet. Olympiakos triggered the clause and that was Vicari off. I'm still annoyed about the whole situation as although we weren't technically a Serie A side yet, we had just been promoted!

But on to the ins and lets take a look at the players who were sealed and signed before we won the Playoffs!

https://i.imgur.com/QKsXlWN.png?1


Hassan Mane - 24, AMC - one of the better players signed before we had secured promotion, Hassan is a player who I looked at and thought could light up Serie B for whoever takes over at SPAL should I leave. He's got the quality to play in the Serie A for sure too, and another plus is that having come through the Porto academy he holds a Portuguese passport and so doesn't count as a non-EU player. Having been shipped out on loan to Estoril last season, Hassan managed to get himself ten goal contributions in thirty-one games, not a bad return. The worst case scenario on this deal is that we sell Hassan on for a profit having signed for free on a low-wage deal! But I'm delighted to have him signed, and playing as an attacking midfielder it does hint at a change in system!

https://i.imgur.com/AOd7P1x.png?1


Stefano Cester - 23, MR/AMR - with Lazzari entering into the latter stages of his career it'll be interesting to see if he ages out at all this season. Stefano is one of two players brought into the club to add depth and cover to the right-midfield position with Lazzari still very much first choice. Capable of playing further on too, Stefano is a pacey winger who should hopefully be able to come good off the bench when given the opportunity. Adding to a growing core of Italian players on a free transfer too, this looks a good piece of business.

https://i.imgur.com/1tpYBmy.png?1


Stefano Gori - 29, GK - not the first Gori I looked at in the summer window, Stefano plays at the opposite end of the pitch to his namesake Gabriele. Stefano has spent the last few seasons bouncing between loans in Serie B and Serie A to mixed success. He'll be back-up to Lezzerini as Saracco just isn't cup out to be second-choice at this level. Another savvy piece of business in my eyes.

https://i.imgur.com/vvO2Vki.png?1


Davide Tagliabue - 22, MR - having started his career at Padova, Davide was once a sought after teenager, opting to sign for Inter Milan. A succession of Serie B loan moves saw him run out his contract with Inter not deeming his performances worthy a new deal. Blessed with heaps of pace and an above average physical presence, Davide was signed as a player who I thought would do well in Serie B, but with us now in Serie A it remains to be seen if he can make Inter regret letting him go.

https://i.imgur.com/kg1sRAO.png?1


Marco Rabuano - 22, MC - towards the back-end of last season, I thought that if we weren't to gain promotion, the least we could do was flex our financial muscle. In Serie B it comes as no surprise that we would have one of the wealthier chequebooks in the league and the thought process was simple - buy the better players in the league to leave the next manager a talented squad. As things turned out, we got promoted and opted to stay. Marco links up with the side now in Serie A having now taken a look at him I'm confident he can cut it in the top flight. A well-rounded midfielder without being particularly blessed in ay department, he should be able to slide into the starting eleven, he certainly has the quality to do so!

https://i.imgur.com/AxMZMOd.png?1


Andrea Chiarello - 22, DC - Andrea is a player who I had my eye on dating back to my days with Thisted. Subsequently, he became one of my first signings as Hammarby manager and now that he's developed a little bit I've decided to take him back to his homeland. He was signed with the idea of being a third-choice Serie B defender and now that we're in Serie A he'll be an acceptable squad filler. He's not awful by any stretch, but if you see him starting for us you'll know somethings gone wrong somewhere.

https://i.imgur.com/4AxNBB9.png?1


Claudio Leonetti - 17, MC - Claudio was plying his trade in Belgium when I first came across him. After sending the scouts to watch him I was sold on the idea of signing him. There was a point after the deal was confirmed that I thought of sticking around even if we weren't promoted just to play Claudio as a first-choice midfielder and watch his development. Now though, I'm torn between playing him sporadically whilst he trains with the first-team, or loaning him out for experience. Either way, he's a tidy midfielder who could develop into one of the better players of his generation on day.

https://i.imgur.com/gq1mp49.png?1


Federico Galbiati - 18, DC - another player signed with an eye cast to the future, Federico has a similar story to Leonetti. Again the deal was confirmed and I thought of sticking around to play him as a starter to see him develop but since signing him the coaches have changed their opinion on his potential. Signed for a million pounds, the worst case scenario is that Federico develops into a Serie A quality player and is sold on for a profit.

https://i.imgur.com/QJet4M6.png?1


Federico Dimarco - 27, DL - the last deal to go through before our Playoff fate was decided, Federico came in from fellow promotion chasing side Pescara. Rated as equal to Murru, Federico comes in as back up in the left-back spot, a role that was lacking last season. Having been around a bit, he has bags of experience in Serie B (one the reasons he was signed) as well as a handful of appearances in Serie A too.

Having now covered all nine of the notable transfers made before we secured our promotion, there still remains a further six players signed once promotion was confirmed!

https://i.imgur.com/6qlZ5hH.png?1


Sebastien Boiteux - 17, DC - absolutely one for the future, Sebastien made his debut for FC Sochaux-Montbeliard just days after his sixteenth birthday, becoming their youngest ever player in the process. Since then he went on to make eight senior league appearances before I snapped him up for £800K. Now seventeen and already six-foot-four, he has been loaned out to Venezia in Serie B as he looks to develop he game with a view to breaking into our line-up down the line.

https://i.imgur.com/Sfqunso.png?1


Hristiyan Bashev - 21, AMC - its players like Bashev that make trawling through lesser-know leagues worthwhile. Standing a little short of six-foot but blessed with the speed of a player a few inches above five-foot, with the creativity to boot, Hristiyan looks a really raw talent. A £3million release clause was enough to have much bigger and more established sides looking at the attacking-minded Bulgarian international. Not too dissimilar from Mane, the two players will fight it out for a starting spot in our new formation, although the more senior Mane will have the nod to start with. Bashev still has plenty of potential to fulfil and I'm very excited to see what kind of player he becomes!

https://i.imgur.com/fY9npxs.png?1


Bojan Antic - 22, DM/MC - Bojan joins Chiarello in joining from previous side Hammarby. Having signed Bojan in Sweden as a teenager with bags of potential, he subsequent loan moves back to Serbia seem to have served him well. Towards the end of my time in Sweden, sides such as Lyon, Chelsea and Juventus all met Bojan's release fee but for some reason he rejected all of their offers. Just over a year later and I decided to do the same and this time Bojan liked the looks of a contract put in front of him. A quick, strong and physical midfielder despite his height, Bojan will likely start for us in the middle of the park in a position and role he'll be trained in. I'm delighted to have him!

https://i.imgur.com/CxlQW0Y.png?1


Piotr Glaz - 20, AML - our first batch of signings were a mix of young and experienced players from within Italy who could give us a solid platform to work from, but our second batch is something entirely different. Being a newly promoted team, we have to take a number of risks with not only our scouting but our signings too. One or two poor signings could be disastrous but we need to take a punt. Therefore, we sign players like Bashev, like Antic and certainly like Glaz. Players from lesser-fancied European countries with bags of potential who could develop into real stars before moving on for the financial best of the club. Piotr is a young winger with all the hallmarks of a future star. Quick, tricky and not bad in front of goal either, he could become a generational-level talent if he meets his lofty potential. The most expensive of our signings, costing just under four-million pounds from Lech Poznan, I'm very, very excited to see how he adjusts to life in Italy!

https://i.imgur.com/qwB0DMw.png?1


Giuseppe Carra - 23, ST - our penultimate signing and another on a free transfer, Giuseppe joins from Atalanta after two average loan spells in Serie B. My scouts rate him as good for the level and with Schmelzinger's loan not being renewed and both Dorella and Scaffidi finding consistent form hard to come by last season, the need for a third option in front of goal was clear. Coming in on a relatively cheap wage and with some room for development at twenty-three, we could well have a hidden gem on our hands.

https://i.imgur.com/SVIDUJx.png?1


Simon Paracampo - 20, DC - our final signing and one I didn't expect to have to make. After Vicari left for Greece I found myself in need of a starting centreback and fast. Having done well in Serie B last year without necessarily pulling up trees, Simon was once again available for loan. A deal with Atalanta was completed quickly for the Italy youth international and it'll be interesting to see if he can cope with the jump up to Serie A!

So that concludes our transfer window dealings! A total of seventeen players joined the club, although not all our due to see much, if any, first team action this year.

Preseason Results and New Tactic


https://i.imgur.com/Bl20ygB.png?1


In and amongst the excitement of signing players, we still had our preseason fixtures to get through. Usually I prefer a much more intensive preseason but I was happy to let my assistant organise and manage games this year. We played six games in total and with a squad gelling it was no surprise to see us win just one of our games. Admittedly, I'd like to have seen us do better against Aberdeen and I thought we'd have beaten AlbinoLeffe and Deinze but it wasn't to be!

https://i.imgur.com/NZKNP31.png?1


I'd hinted at the possibility of us operating in a new tactic for this year, and with us signing three wingers and two attacking midfielders during the window it was a given that a change would be needed to get the best out of our new recruits.

At the back things remain relatively the same, with the addition of Venturelli who came back from loan looking a much improved player.

In the middle it'll be up to Rabuano and Antic to control the game, with Iban Oliveira and Salerno on the bench and Cortinovis rejecting the chance to come on loan. Interestingly, we missed out on the chance to sign a thirty-three year old Jorginho who still has it after his release from Chelsea, but he opted for Malaga instead. Lazzari holds down his right-midfield spot although he now faces competition. Glaz walks straight into the side on the left-wing as first choice but knows that he has academy graduates Filippi and La Porta gunning for his position should he under-perform. In the middle and Mane gets the nod ahead of Bashev but should one of the two fail to deliver the other will replace them.

Lastly, fresh from renewing his loan for another year, Dorella leads the line looking to use his nineteen goal haul from last year as a platform to develop from, though I'm hoping he'll be more consistent more than anything.

ITALIAN CUP 3RD QUALIFYING ROUND

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Our first competitive game of the season came just at the end of our preseason, home against Serie C/C side Trapani. With there still a good number of days before our league opener I decided to field a full strength side against Trapani as I wanted to see how the new signings looked alongside each other and how they could do in their first real test. Three new signins were involved eleven minutes in when Rabuano sprayed a ball wide to Lazzari and his cross aimed at Dorella was headed away by D'Aguanno as far as Mane who laid the ball of for Glaz, and the young winger took one touch before hitting a thunderbolt past the 'keeper before he could even react. But before the half-time whistle blew we were back at square one. Bongiovanni's corner to the back-post was missed by Lezzerini and Musso peeled off of Lazzari to tap into an empty net. The second half game and went in the blink of an eye and into Extra Time we went, with the possibility of crashing out at the first hurdle becoming an increasingly likely possibility. However Simon Paracampo had other ideas as Glaz's deep freekick was lofted into the box and left by a crowd of players, falling to the centreback for an easy finish! Not a great result when you consider we play Inter Milan next, but progression the cup is secured!
August 2025


MATCHDAY 1

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After our less than impressive win in the Coppa Italia last time out I wasn't filled with too much confidence for our first trip away to the San Siro this year. After gaining a reputation as a sleeper club in years gone by, an influx of top talent has seen Inter rise to European prominence again in recent years. With our line-up full of youth and potential, the hosts certainly boasted a much more experienced side. I was shocked to see us take a relatively early lead then, all things considered! We halted an Inter attack and led our own counter, with Glaz aiming a cross for Dorella which Varnier headed clear as far as Sergi Roberto, but the Spaniard didn't check his surroundings, allowing Rabuano to nip in ahead of him, take a touch and fire a bullet across the box and into the top corner! Our lead was short-lived however as Inter gave us a reality check. Isco's clever freekick found Belotti in the box and his first time shot was blocked by Venturelli with the rebound falling nicely for Merino to put away. But straight from kick-off we gave the ball to Glaz on the wing and the youngster brought the ball forward, slipping it inside for Lazzari who's shot hit the post but Dorella was on hand to tap in the rebound! Dorella doubled his tally for the game in the latter stages of the game and Glaz was involved once more. Tagliabue switched the ball over the Piotr who's cross was headed back across goal into the far corner! "A three-one lead away to Inter, what could go wrong?" was all I could think, but I was left wishing I never had the thought just minutes later. Inter won a freekick just over half-way and Gagliardini played a neat one-two with Dalot to get in space on the edge of the box and his shot curled past Lezzerini and in, who might claim he was unsighted by the players in front of him. Inter then threw the kitchen sink at us as they looked for a point and in stoppage time an opportunity to do just that came by. A coming together between Pavon and Murru went to VAR and after much deliberation Inter were awarded a penalty, which Barco dispatched into the top corner. Gutting, but the game wasn't over yet. With one of the last kicks of the game Tagliabue swung a cross into the back post and Piotr Glaz beat his man to the ball, side-footing a volley in! What a win! But if you'd told me at 3-1 up we'd win 4-3 I would have thought you were crazy! Welcome to Serie A!

MATCHDAY 2

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When the fixture list came out for the season and I saw that our first two games were against Inter and then Roma, you'd have done well to find someone who thought we'd get anything from both games. But after our win against Inter the confidence was flowing and the optimism for the season was high. Twenty-eight minutes into the game and the optimism was even higher as Sandro Tonali was sent off for his second yellow card in quick succession. Surely we could capitalise on this? It looked for a while as if we may be able to take something from the game, but our best chances were squandered and a host of shots went wayward. It was only a matter of time then until Roma showed their class. A long ball forward from young defender De Rossi found Lopes Sousa in the box and with his first touch he took out two players with a chop inside, leaving just the 'keeper to beat which, unfortunately for us, he did. Roma looked content to sit on their lead given the man disadvantage. De Rossi turned from provider to scorer with ten minutes to go when he powered a header past Lezzerini from Lozano's corner.

MATCHDAY 3

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After two tough games in which we didn't look bad in, I was more than happy to face off against Empoli to see how we would fare against a team touted for a similar finish to ourselves. After having beaten Inter, and losing to Roma despite playing ok, I was quietly confident for a win in this one. Perhaps we underestimated our hosts, as less than ten minutes in they'd taken the lead. A poor pass upfield by Lezzerini gifted Empoli a chance to come back at us and that they did as Pignatale played the ball to Vergani who lost his marker after a nice shimmy and drop of the shoulder before finishing one-on-one. Empoli gifted us a chance of our own before the half was over, playing the ball straight to Lazzari who played a defence-splitting ball on the floor for Dorella, who's shot was too hot for Fulignati to handle. We grew into the game in the second half and started the better of the two sides, with new signings Mane and Glaz combining to see the latter's scissor kick give us the lead! The three points were sealed when Dorella nabbed his brace courtesy of a Lazzari cross. Two wins from our first three games. I have to say, I'm excited to see what happens this year, some of the moves we put together in this game were among the best I've seen!

September 2025


MATCHDAY 4

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As a newly promoted side the dream would have been to play some of the lesser sides in the league in quick succession to build up some kind of form and confidence, but four games in and Inter, Roma and Lazio are all teams we have to play. Three games then that we shouldn't be fancied in, and rightly so, these are teams that are established and should be in and around continental qualification places. A tough start. The game was over and done in the space of two first-half minutes however, and thankfully it was due to a Dorella double! For his first goal, Antic won the ball in the middle and played it Rabuano, with the ball eventually falling to the feet of Glaz. The young Polish winger advanced with the ball and slipped it behind Bailly for Dorella, who's calm first time finish into the bottom corner sat Cragno down. Minutes later Mane's freekick from the left side of the box was headed across goal by Paracampo for Dorella to tap in. Our third win in four, and if we are to stay up then it is shock results like this that will do us a world of good!

MATCHDAY 5

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If there is a model to follow for us then I need look no further than Sassuolo. Since their promotion into Serie A in the 2013/14 season they've made themselves a solid side, which is something I hope to emulate with SPAL. We took an early lead in this one when Glaz's initial corner was worked back to him and his second attempt at a cross deflected into the path of Lazzari to poke home. Sassuolo got back on level terms fairly soon through talisman Berardi, though the defending was awful. Vasilev's cross was left first by Battistelli and secondly by Murru, allowing the winger to score the easiest goal he'll get all season. Sassuolo continued to up the pressure and eventually went ahead just before half-time when Vasilev's strike from outside the box flew along the floor into the bottom corner. Early into the second half and the scores were once again even. Cester's cross was too much for Dorella but as the ball went out of play the referee stopped play and after some deliberation we were awarded a penalty thanks to VAR spotting Adjapong's foul on Dorella. Dorella stepped up the spot and dispatched it into the top corner. The lead changed hands yet again in the seventy-eighth minute when Dorella netted his second. After stopping a Sassuolo move the ball was played to substitute Oliveira who played an early contended for pass of the season. Noticing the run behind of Dorella, Oliveira played a pass from the edge of our 'D' almost the length of the pitch to the striker, who had the audacity to lob the 'keeper! What a move! Ten minutes later however and our leaky defence was beaten once more, although Lezzerini won't want to see the tape of this one again. Valverde's freekick looked easy to deal with but Lezzerini could only muster a flap at the ball, sending it into the roof of the net.

MATCHDAY 6

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With only one defeat against us this year we didn't look like a side aiming to avoid the drop. However, the amount of goals we've been conceding has been alarming, although if we manage to score at the same rate I won't mind too much. However, all signs of a goal dropped off in this game. Udinese had the majority of the chances and looked like a solid Serie A side. Given our performance on the attacking front a point was looking like a good result, but late drama was still on the cards. With the last play of the game Bellanova's cross to the back post looked to be heading out but Orsolini didn't give up and beat Murru to the ball, squeezing a header in from a tight angle.

League Table and Form


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Before the season kicked off, if you had told me that we had managed to come away from our first two months of fixtures with only two losses I wouldn't have believed you, but yet here we are! With wins against Inter, Empoli and Lazio we've managed to upset the apple cart slightly, and drawing to Sassuolo would have been seen as a point gained before the game. What I'm not pleased with however is the amount of goals we've conceded. Admittedly, I'd probably concede that our defence is our weakest part of the team and going forward will have to be addressed, but we threw away a lead against Sassuolo and we should have gotten something out of the Udinese game. But on the other hand, there is no way we should have beated Inter so I guess these things balance themselves out.

https://i.imgur.com/m8yRt49.png?1


With six games played we find ourselves surpassing all expectations and sitting in sixth. With the growing stature of the Serie A this would be good enough to see us bag continental qualification! It is still very early days however and being a surprise package in the league so far it may not be long before teams suss us out and bring our honeymoon period to an end but for now all we can do is sit back and enjoy our early success. A look ahead at the calendar doesn't make for the best viewing however, as we play both A.C. Milan and Juventus back-to-back in October so we could have fallen way off the pace by then!

Next Update


October 2025!
October 2025


MATCHDAY 7

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After a turbulent start to life in Serie A, a look ahead at the schedule shows there is a brief respite due for us before playing A.C. Milan and Juventus back to back at the end of the month. With both sides flying high, it'll have to be in games against sides like Palermo where we pick up some needed points. Both sides were evenly matched during this encounter and it would be a story of one side taking a chance rather than one side turning the other over. Thankfully, we wouldn't have to wait too long before we took a chance. Murru threw the ball to Mane well into the Palermo half and the attacking-midfielder headed the ball back the way it came. Murru played a short pass to Glaz who turned on the ball and took two touches before hitting a shot from the edge of the box that was all power and no precision yet still made its way into the back of the net!

MATCHDAY 8

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With a two-week break between fixtures for international games to be played the worry is that players will pick up a knock. This worry became a reality for us as Mane sustained a broken foot whilst playing against Uganda. Admittedly, Hassan hasn't really set the world alight and Bashev is almost as good as him and with a straight shot at the starting eleven his development could actually be aided by this.

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But to the game itself and we certainly didn't lack a creative spark. Whilst we shared the ball with Benevento, we certainly got off a good amount of shots with a good amount landing on target too. Bashev even managed an assist for the first goal, but all the credit has to go to goalscorer Glaz. A poor goal kick by Vergara is headed to Bashev by Murru and the Bulgarian passes the ball to Glaz just inside our half and the winger set off like a rocket with the ball, beating two players for pace and a third for skill before firing a rocket into the top corner on the run! What a goal! Glaz continued his fine run of form by adding a second goal in the first half. This time Lazzari's corner was headed down by Leandrinho, only for Glaz to collect the loose ball and score from close-range. In the dying embers of the game the young Pole was afforded the chance to score his hat-trick from the spot, but Vergara guessed correctly and palmed the ball away to his right.

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Meanwhile, A.C. (who we play next and currently sit in first) beat Juventus (who we play after A.C. and are currently sitting second) seven-four. 7-4! With five goals coming after they were sent down to ten men!!! They even scored one for Juventus! If this doesn't give an idea for how tough these games are going to be I don't know what will.

MATCHDAY 9

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So here we go, back to the San Siro for the second time this season already, but would we be able to repeat the result of our last trip? For forty-five minutes your guess would have been as good as mine. A.C. came forward yet could only muster shots from outside the box, which Paqueta dragged wide time after time. We threatened them too, although our chances came few and far between. It looked like we were set for a point, but then things all went horribly, horribly wrong. Having seen Paqueta send a number of chances wide from the edge of the box, I was content to let him keep trying, but this would come back to bite me as the first one he got on target found the back of the net via a Lezzerini hand. Naïve on my part. A.C. then brought Lemar off the bench and before I knew it, it was three. Lemar converted from the spot after a tangle of legs between Paracampo and Barrios, before his even later freekick was headed against the post by Barrios for Geraerts to tap in. We really didn't deserve to lose by three goals and if it weren't for the post it could have been four. The hosts really turned it on in the last ten minutes but for the eighty minutes before that we looked equals. A lesson learnt.

MATCHDAY 10

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Juventus were the next side for us to play and thankfully the only 'big' side we have to play in the first half of the season is Napoli. Every cloud has a silver lining and all that. The press and the bookies didn't fancy us, especially given our last match and Juventus wasted no time in showing why. Five minutes in and Alex Sandro ran down the wing and hesitated before crossing for Lukaku and the Belgian could only slide at the ball, but his first attempt was saved. Lukaku got straight back to his feet and slid the ball again, this time into the empty net. A strange goal but a goal nonetheless. Dybala made it two with a neat freekick from the edge of the box following a foul by Bashev on Leite. Another Dybala freekick would prove to be our undoing a minute before the half, this time van de Beek's header hit the back of Leite and rebounded back to the Holland internation to tap into an empty net after Lezzerini dived for the first attempt. Clearly, we hadn't learnt our lesson re:fouling-Juventus-players as Bernardeschi whipped a freekick into the top corner after Glaz fouled Leite this time. Credit to us for not giving in however, as Dorella ended his brief drought with a lovely finish from the edge of the box and Glaz curled a shot past Szczesny late on. A humbling but hopefully the last for a while.

League Table and Form


https://i.imgur.com/HVDRnZp.png?1


October played out exactly as it was expected to. We picked up wins against Palermo and Benevento in games that we looked ok, but not great. If it wasn't for Piotr Glaz then we would've left both games with just a point. Results against A.C. Milan and Juventus went as many would have expected, with us failing to repeat an upset similar to the game against Inter. What is disappointing is the manner of the defeats. We looked in the game as much as A.C. did until the last ten minutes when they suddenly had a change of heart and wanted to play football. I'd like to think that two of Juventus' goals could have been avoided. Lukaku's double-slide certainly and there was a large slice of luck surrounding van de Beek's goal. On a positive note however, the form of Piotr Glaz has gone above and beyond what I expected of the youngster, especially in his first season playing in a 'Top 5' league. If he keeps it up then I'll reward him with a new contract in January.

https://i.imgur.com/S7Jy0ME.png?1


So at the end of the month we find ourselves sat in seventh, meaning we only moved down by one place. Sure, we're not clear of the teams bellow us, but we shouldn't be in this position after having been promoted. To tell the truth, I'd have thought we would have dropped further down the pecking order after the last two games but clearly our wins earlier in the month have put us in good stead. I'll say it every month until the end of the season (provided we finish in a similar position) but if the season ended tomorrow I'd be a very happy manager! Here's hoping we can continue this going forward!

Next Update


November 2025!
November 2025


NOTE: So after a busy week or so at work and then a weekend back at Uni, we're back with an update!

MATCHDAY 11

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After taking heavy defeats at the end of the last month we've suffered somewhat of a reality check. An away trip to Bologna therefore should serve as a good setting for us to pick up some points and get our form back on track. After all, their staring striker is goal-less this term. Dorella on the other hand is topping the scoring charts and added another to his tally early on as Dimarco's searching cross to the back post was headed back across goal by Lazzari for Dorella to tap home. Bologna equalized not long after and if Moos continues to get service from Romero like he did for this one, his fortunes will soon be changed. A wonderful cross from the winger found Moos in between our two centrebacks and his first time volley into the bottom corner was unstoppable. If the assist was something to behold for this goal then the defending for the next goal was quite the opposite. A cross from the left wing found Moos in the box and he brought the ball down with five (5!!!) SPAL players around him before slotting away at the near post. Bojan Antic picked up a late red card for an elbow, likely in frustration due to how the game had panned out. Our form, it would seem, has gone out of the window.

MATHCDAY 12

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No points in three games, form and morale at a seasonal low, Napoli next? Lovely. As expected we were on the back foot for the entire game and rarely tested the Napoli defence, but when we did we were denied by a good save. The hosts had a chance to get ahead midway through the first half when a dubious VAR decision gave Oscar Marin a chance from the spot but Lezzerini was equal to the penalty! Lezzerini continued to keep Napoli at bay for the rest of the game and his efforts saw us pick up a point, as well as earning the stopper the Man of the Match award.

MATCHDAY 13

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After a torrid few weeks, it would seem that the fixture list is beginning to ease up. Having now played Inter, A.C., Juventus and Napoli all the 'Big 4' have been played, in theory leaving us with a stretch of more winnable games. Against teams like Cittadella for example. With Glaz back from a one match suspension for picking up one too many a yellow card, and Antic back after serving his suspension, we looked back to our best on paper. Five minutes in and we were given a freekick in a wide position. Glaz clipped the ball into the box and Rabuano planted a head on the ball, but his effort looked set to go wide until Dorella side-footed the ball in at the back post. That would settle the game too, because for as much as we tried to increase our lead, we simply couldn't in this one. Back to winning ways at least!

MATCHDAY 14

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We rounded out the month with a trip to Sampdoria, looking to build on our win against Cittadella by beating a Sampdoria side who should finish just outside of the Europa League places this year. Only a minute had passed before the game had it's first goal. Rabuano's deep freekick was headed across goal rather than out by Despodov and Bashev was in the right place at the right time, tapping home from six yards. The hosts equalized just after the half-hour mark in bizarre circumstances. Zukic headed the ball down to Bonazzoli and the striker trapped the ball, stood it up and hit a shot from twenty-five yards from a standing position. The ball beat Lezzerini but if I'm honest I'm not sure he expected the shot. Former Sunderland midfielder DIdier Ndong was sent off in the second half for a second yellow and this provided the edge we needed to win this game. Late on, good build up play on our behalf saw us exploit the man advantage and work the ball to Venturelli who had advanced from right-back, and the defender's low cross to the penalty spot was curled home by substitute Carra.

League Table and Form


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We were so close to having another very impressive month. The loss to Bologna was particularly painful given the manner of the goals we conceded and given the fact that Bologna striker Moos hadn't scored before playing us, scored twice, and hasn't scored since! Drawing against Napoli us a huge achievement for us, picking up points against the top teams when possible could be key. A routine, yet less than impressive, win against Cittadella as well as beating ten-men Sampdoria look good on paper but the performances in the games themselves were sub-par. Six points from twelve this month, where does this leave us in the table?

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Somehow, we still sit in the European qualification places! The win against Sampdoria, when you see their position in the league, was massive for us in the end! Sure, we're only a point clear of them, but we've only just been promoted back to Serie A! I think we've got enough about us to finish in and around this position but for now I'll say that with a pinch of salt! We've played all of the teams above us bar Fiorentina so far, which fills me with confidence for the remainder of this half of the season! Being a newly promoted team does have one major downside however, will this honeymoon period end? Are we hugely over-performing?

Next Update


December 2025!
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