Welcome to my end of season review….Let me begin, Serie A turned out to be close but not close enough for us has Juventus retained the title with us trailing by 3 points. The problem for us is that we lost 7 games in the league. We struggled with injuries and juggling the squad with European games however we came up short and will move on and plan for next season. The Champions League proved we still have work to do to be competitive in Europe’s elite tournament after we finished 3rd in the group. Finishing 3rd we qualified for the Europa League which I decided we would give it our best shot. The First Knockout Round Draw paired us with Dutch club AZ with us travelling to Holland for the first leg. Granit Xhaka scored the only goal of the game to give us a narrow first leg win. In Milano the second leg was also won by a single goal by us, this time a Martin Odegaard strike giving us a 2-0 aggregate win. Round Two we drew Schalke and ran riot in the 1st leg winning 4-0 thanks to Marko Pjaca scoring an hat trick along with a Mauro Icardi goal. Gelsenkirchen proved a tough place to go with Schalke beating us 3-2, Kondogbia and Perisic netting the goals for us rounding off a 6-3 Aggregate win for us. The Quarter Final draw paired us with Athletic Club with the 1st leg at home. The Spanish outfit played their part in a 5 goal thriller which we edged thanks to goals from Icardi a brace and a Auttenetxe own goal. We jetted off for the 2nd leg in Bilboa mindful of the 2 away goals we shipped in Milano. We produced our best display of the season in the New San Mames hammering Athletic by 5 goals to nil. Icardi 3, Berardi and Neves on the score sheet to set up a Semi Final against Olympique Lyon. For the first leg in France I had to make 5 changes with Icardi, Beradi, Kondogbia, Jovetic and Nagatomo all ruled out. We lost lost 2-4 as Lyon punished our poor performance, but with 2 away goals scored by Miranda and a last gasp Zivkovic strike we had hope for the 2nd leg.That hope looked good after 26 minutes in the Meazza with Berardi and Perisic levelling the tie on aggregate. I told the boys at half time to keep it up. The 2nd half was a very nervous affair which I watched in full with both sides knowing a goal either way would put them in to the final. Federico Dimarco our young full back became an hero with just 4 minutes of the half and extra time looming he cut in from the left flank and unleashed an unstoppable shot that bulged the Lyon goal sending our tifosi in to a frenzy, the young Italian had sent us in to the final in Stockholm. The Final would be an all Italian affair with us facing Udinese. The game was an epic with both sides looking to seize the initiative with 4 goals and a 2-2 scoreline after just 12 minutes of the game. 3 minutes Fernandes Udinese 1-0, 4 minutes Gnoukouri 1-1, 7 minutes Edenilson Udinese 2-1, 12 minutes Perisic 2-2. I screamed at the boys to get tighter, we settled down and started to impose our game on to Udinese and got our reward in the 29th minute with Gnoukouri getting his second which gave us a 3-2 lead at the break. The youngsters are repaying my faith in them in the big games.The 2nd half was a tighter affair and just as it looked like we had our hands on the trophy Piotr Zielinski netted a 94th minute blow to our hopes with an equaliser. Extra time and a change for us Pjaca on for the shattered and fellow Croatian Perisic along with an roasting for the players in a hope to get them over the line. A nervous 15 minutes with no goals and a manager me shouting at my screen at 02.00 hrs in the morning it was time for one more and our last change of the game, I decide to gamble by taking off our top scorer and captain Icardi off and replacing him with George Puskas our young 20 year old forward. With Penalties looming in only what I can describe has my finest moment on FM, Puskas presses the Udinese defence and wins the ball 20 yards out and lays the ball off to Pjaca who thunders a shot in to the top corner….yes, yes, yes get in we have won the Europa League 4-3 after extra time. I am over the moon Dimarco,Gnoukouri and Puskas 3 of our youth produced at key times along the campaign which helped us deliver a European trophy for our fans.
Coppa Italia Final
The Coppa Italia proved that we need to see out games better after again having one hand on the trophy we throw it away with a 91st minute Juventus goal sending the game in to extra time. Kondogbia gave us the lead after 21 minutes which we held on to until Alex Sandro equalised. a goal in extra time by Aubameyang gave Juventus the Cup with us thinking what might have been a treble.
Under 20’s Champions Cup
Under 20’s Squad Stats
Another season over and by far my most tiring on FM, I have found my self living the save night and day. It as been rewarding with me having more influence with our youth squads who have had fantastic campaigns with both winning the title and our under 20’s getting to the Champions Cup Final before losing to AS.Monaco. Andrea Pinamonti scoring 43 goals and looking like he could be a top player in years to come shined for the under 20’s along with Nicola Dalmonte who netted 33 goals, the futures bright.for the Nerazzurri. Tomorrow I will start our pre season and will be posting our pre season round up very soon. Thanks for reading.
The Story So Far
2015-2016 Serie A Runners Up – Coppa Italia Winners
2016-2017 Serie A Runners Up – Europa Lge Winners – Supercoppa Winners – Coppa Italia Runners Up