At the start of the 24/25 season, transfer dealings are in full flow. Bayern come in for Armand Pater, who’s only been with me a a year since Ajax released him, with a 12m bid. I laugh maniacally and tell them in the least polite way, to go away. Unfortunately, his 25.5m release clause gets hit within 5 minutes. He had a great 37 appearances for us, and he shall be missed. Of the 25.5m profit from me picking him up for free, the cash strapped board provides me with 5m to spend.
Barca offer another another 25m for top scorer Rong Qifei, but I refuse to lose two star players in one window, knowing full well I can’t afford to replace them. Rong storms into the office demanding that he wants to leave, and that the Camp Nou has always been his spiritual home. I refuse to let him go for less than 35m, and hope that an unhappy Qifei is better than no Qifei.
Pathetic offers come in for my two first choice centre backs Badal and Bailly. Manchester United play hardball over Bailly, offering 3.6m plus add ons that will likely never happen. I hate selling to big teams with the 50 league appearances add on, as a lot of their signings never make it to 50 games. United are told that for 6.5m in upfront cash, which is his actual value, he can go. The Thai consortium that now owns Manchester United and saw fit to bring back David Moyes refuses to give up the 6.5m.
In terms of signings, I have some work to find affordable players. 1.1m goes on Arsenal outcast Nicky Hurst, who is a specialist left wing back and will hopefully be Kostas Stafylidis’s long term replacement.
Feyenoord striker Hicham Yildirim comes in on a free, his stats look good for a 20 year old and I’m hoping he can improve enough to be a first team striker next season.
I find another Dutchman to replace Armand Pater, free transfer Kevin van Keulen, who was released by German side Paderborn. I don’t think he’ll be anything special, but he has good stats in all the right places to be a solid defensive midfielder.
I eventually pay 675k for a backup keeper, 18 year old Luan from Santos. While scouting in the 16-18 year old age bracket, I come across an Australian U20 international who has just left the FFA centre of excellence. My scouts see great potential in young Tony Kennedy, although I don’t see it myself. I pick him up for 1.7k a week as a wildcard signing.
I bring in Ezekiel Okolie, a Nigerian who is surplus to requirements at Barcelona. There’s no way I could afford to sign him, but he does come in on a year long loan to provide quality cover at centre back. Another free transfer arrival is a Guinean international, that Head of Youth Development Dennis Bekking saw on YouTube and thought he might be good. I highly doubt Alseny Kaba will get much game time, but with some good loan spells, he may be worth a couple of million and I can flog him.
Talking about raising funds, I decided to have a look at my net transfer spend. Although I hate to see myself as a selling club, Valencia have so little money I feel responsible for keeping the ship afloat with the odd transfer. Since my arrival in March 2022, Valencia has spent the vast sum of 6.12m, while bringing in transfer revenue of 77.11m. Admittedly, Pater’s 25.5m move to Bayern and Danilo’s 36m transfer back in 2022 make up a vast amount of that, but the 15.6m left over from that has been from offloading unnecessary players and making profit on youth teamers.
Just as everything is settling down and I start preparing for the European Super Cup Final against Dortmund, Manchester United come back with a bid that rocks the club. Pione Sisto has been superb throughout his Valencia career, and it’s surprising that he hasn’t been targeted more. 16m up front, 5.5m over the next year, and another 5.25m after 10 international appearances.
I have no idea what to do here. Rong Qifei will slot in at right wing easily enough, but Sisto has been superb. He is 29 though, so if I can get money for him, now is the time. I stall United, and sneakily offer him out for 35m to everyone else, hoping that someone makes my decision a bit easier by putting more money upfront.
Meanwhile, I visit my old stomping ground, PSV’s Philips Stadion, for the Super Cup. I go with my trusty 2-4-1-3, Sisto starts, as does loan signing Okolie.
We dominate the first 20 minutes, culminating in Renteria going through on goal and poking it past Geronimo Rulli in the Dortmund net. Dortmund pull one back before half time, but we’re still the dominant side. In the dressing room, I hand out ham sandwiches and Maltesers to boost morale.
I’m not sure what Dortmund had in their dressing room, but it must have been better than ham sandwiches. They push and push, only Yvon Mvogo keeping them out. I send on Rong Qifei and Jorge Ruiz to try and push us up the field, Qifei having 2 immediate opportunities to score. Dortmund keep pushing though, and Mvogo is kept very busy. In the 90th minute, they finally find a way through with a headed goal from Radolic. The referee blows the whistle to call time on a nail biting second half, and we go down 2-1.
This defeat is making me wonder about changing tactics. I have been using the same tactic throughout most of last season, so maybe we need to mix it up.
Looking at our first league opponents Real Sociedad, they often play 4-4-2, which usually causes me a fair few problems. So I go for a Barcelona inspired 4-3-3 which retains possession without losing the crosses from wide, which has been a key point of our success so far. We come out with a 1-1 draw, but these stats are slightly disturbing.
Using this formation we gave up 5 clear cut chances, if the next couple of games yield similar results I’ll be looking for another system, or even return to the 2-4-1-3 which has done so well last season.
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