Welcome to the latest instalment from the banks of the River Trent were we have just completed our first Pre Season on the save. With the full release of FM20 now behind us it is time to knuckle down and start our bid to return to the Premier League but first things first I had to sort one or two things out before clicking that continue button.
Staffing – Head Of Youth Development
Brazil joined the club back in 2012 joining the coaching team and then became the Academy manager in 2014 and since then has taken on the role of caretaker manager before returning to his role of Academy manager. I normally don’t delegate the job of bringing players in to the club however I have put my faith in Brazil to find Youth players and bring them in to the system at the Nigel Doughty Academy. Brazil will be responsible for the recruitment of both the Under 23 and Under 18 squads. Brazil has just signed a contract extension and becomes my most important staff member at the club.
Director Of Football
On the 6th December 2018, Nottingham Forest officially announced that Kyrikos Dourekas had been appointed as the clubs Director Of Football. “Nottingham Forest are delighted to confirm that Kyrikos Dourekas has been appointed as the clubs Director Of Football, He as vast knowledge and experience of European Football at an elite level” read the official club statement.
Mr Dourekas joined the club after 25 years of working with our sister club Olympiakos. Our new Director Of Football spent valuable time working alongside some excellent managers in Ernesto Valverde, Leonardo Jardim and Marco Silva. Dourekas will be responsible for sourcing and making offers for players for our 1st team squad however any contract negotiations will be conducted by myself for the simple reason that I want to implement my financial model at the club and in doing so I can’t afford to let a Director Of Football loose with the clubs money.
Bruno Baltazar will remain my Assistant Manager after the departure of Sabri Lamouchi from the club. Baltazar will be responsible for providing me with training reports, arranging friendly matches and pre match tactical meetings.
Olympiacos Football Club
The Greek giants are our sister club with our owner Evangelos Marinakis owning both us and Olympiacos who are serial Champions in their homeland and a club with plenty of Champions League experience. We have an option to loan any of the players that are on the development list at our sister club and we also share scouting information. Like in the real World we put the link to good use if we need to and continue our good relationship with the Greek club. The club themselves have a very good relationship with Red Star Belgrade and Spartak Moscow.
The Olympicos link could benefit us in the long run in that we may be able to utilise the clubs scouting knowledge and pick up a few players along the way.
In recent years we have developed a really good relationship with the Portuguese club with us signing a number of players on loan and also purchased our record transfer from them when paying £13m for Carvalho. The link is also a result in super agent Jorge Mendes working closely with both clubs. I really like the link with Benfica and will try and keep the link established for as long as possible. One day I would like to do a Benfica save maybe with Benfica B with the aim of one day being offered the Benfica 1st team reigns but that’s for a future FM.
I think the Portuguese market is one of if not the best to pick up emerging talent on the cheap so this link up is well suited to me.
Our opening Pre Season match was at the City Ground against Russian club Spartak Moscow who for our first run out would be a tough opponent. I decided that I would use our 4-3-3 system in the first half and switch to a 4-4-2 at the break to get as many players involved in the game as possible. I picked the following XI to start the game: Muric, Cash, Ribeiro, Worrall, Dawson, Yacob, Silva, Bostock, Lolley, Ameobi and Grabban. We started the game on the front foot and looked very slick to say it was our first game and got our reward for our adventure when Matty Cash fired in a cross for Lewis Grabban to volley home from close range. Cash looked really comfortable playing in the right wing back role combining well with Joe Lolley who incidentally is the subject of a £12.5m bid from Crystal Palace which for now I have rejected to the anger of the winger.
A first half in which we looked strong came to an end with us leading 1-0 but it was now time to make some changes with the first being replacing Yuri Ribeiro at left back with Jack Robinson after the Portuguese full back picked up a long term injury at the end of the half which is not what I needed. Switching to a 4-4-2 I brought on Samba for Muric, Figueiredo for Worrall, Sow for Yacob, Watson for Silva, Adomah for Lolley, Clough for Bostock and Navarro for Grabban.
19 year old forward Luca Navarro is on a 4 week trial with us after being released by Bolton Wanderers. The change to 4-4-2 did not make any difference to our dominance in the game as we looked for a 2nd goal to kill the game and we did not have to wait too long when Zach Clough nonchalantly put us 2-0 up with a superb finish after good work from Watson in the middle of the park. Clough could very well play a big part in our season and although very early days it was nice to see him playing well.
A run out at Gainsborough resulted in a 5-0 win with Brennan Johnson getting a double and showing his potential flexibility by playing both out wide and in the deep lying forward role.
Johnson would get on the scoresheet again when we beat Morecambe in our next warm up match 4-3 in a game that saw Tobias Figueiredo and Alfa Semedo also hit the back of the net before Lewis Grabban secured the win.
On loan forward Rafa Mir scored a consolation goal in a 1-2 defeat to AFC Wimbledon that we just have to put behind us.
We rounded our Pre Season off with a 1-0 win against FC Koln at the City Ground with a goal from Claudio Yacob.
Overall we had a decent Pre Season in getting players match fit ready to go when we open our campaign against West Bromwich Albion on the opening day.
I could not resist the chance to sign young Hungarian forward Rajmund Molnar after the 16 year old was made available from Benfica. I have a good feeling about this youngster and secured this deal for a fee that could rise to £1.9m in the future.
Staying with Benfica, injury to Yuri Ribeiro prompted me to turn to loan listed Nuno Tavares to fill the void that Ribeiro leaves. Tavares is 19 years old and well respected within the ranks at Benfica. He joins us on a season long loan with us paying nothing towards his wages so a win win I think for us.
Another Portuguese player winger Ricardo Campos us on a free transfer after Gary Brazil decided to bring him in to the club. The 19 year old looks a decent player and I hope that he can develop under our watchful eye.
Last and but no means least Director of Football Mr Dourekas also went Benfica bound when bringing in winger Jota on a season long loan. The winger looks to have an abundance of talent which I hope can give us that edge when it comes down to breaking in to the automatic promotion places.
My first half season review is ready to go live so I am releasing this blog post just to bring you up to speed with the players who have come in to the club. I was going to release this post last week however due to unforseen circumstances I was unable to put my mind to it.