Good evening all and welcome to my latest update on the Alphabet Challenge
When I last left you I had just finished 3rd in the Belgian Pro League with AA Gent. It was a pretty decent season both domestically and also in Europe. I was pretty confident going into the next season, the only obstacle was attempting to topple the dominance of Anderlecht
Pre-season came and went. I only had a couple of goals. 1) Attempt to re-sign a couple of my loanees and 2) Improve the defence
I managed to do both. if you read my last post you will know I had 2 guys on loan called Sandoval and Erick, both Strikers although Sandoval can also play Right Wing. I re-signed them both for another season long loan along with Ayman Ashour a very solid Defender from Barcelona
I made 3 other signings all on Free Transfers
As mentioned before I wanted to strengthen my defence. I signed Guy Gbohouo from Anderlecht as he was out of contract, he is strong and has 15 pace, something my Defence seriously lacks!
Mikolaj Napora is a Striker I signed again on a pre-contract from Legia, I was lacking in the Strikers department as all of my strikers last season were on loan. With the 2 re-signed on loan Napora would be there to create some depth to the team
Leandro Joinville was another Striker, 25 years old and again added more depth to the forward line, like the other 2 he signed on a pre-contract deal.
The squad overall look solid, I have 2 players per position and confidence is high for the season.
The domestic season was a major success, we never really pushed top spot all season and after the regular season ended we were 2nd behind Club Brugge, Anderlecht were 3rd. This is how it ended
We now head into the Championship Group and 10 more games. I have worked out how the points are calculated. They literally half your points total and then round it up if required. This meant our 3 point gap to Brugge was cut to 1
With 10 games left I knew a half decent run would push Club Brugge, we play them home and away, 4 points from them and we would have a good chance at the title!
When it ended we had breezed to the title with a game to spare.
We gained 22 points from the final 30, Brugge had collapsed and Anderlecht couldn’t catch us up. It was a fantastic end to the season. A very unexpected title win but a win which means we can now put “B” to one side and start on “C”
The Belgian Cup was also a massive success.
We beat the 4 other best teams in the Division over the 4 rounds we were entered into, this included a 6-2 away win against Anderlecht (lost the home leg 4-3!). We had a penalty shootout win in the final again Lommel which ended 6-5 after 8 penalties each. It was another fantastic success and my first double in the whole Alphabet Challenge.
Europe also went incredibly well, again we made it the Quarter Finals. Due to our position in the previous season we were entered straight into the Group Stage. We had a pretty easy group. Only Marseilles were better than us so I expected to come at least 2nd. We did one better than that.
We came top! We won our final game against Marseilles 3-1 to seal the group.
We drew Dinamo Moscow in the last 32. We lost the away leg 3-2 but won the Home leg 3-0 so in the end we breezed through to the last 16 where we faced another Moscow team, this time CSKA. The 1st leg away ended 3-0 to us and the Home leg was a stupid game which ended in a 6-3 win (9-3 on aggregate)
We then drew Liverpool. The 1st leg was away which we lost 5-2, the Home leg again was high scoring, we won the game but only 4-3 so it ended 6-8 on aggregate. It was disappointing but again reaching the Quarters was way beyond my goals and board expectations.
Over all it was an amazing season, the league was unexpected but I always remained confident I could challenge.
Now to the players that excelled. Again Sandoval was incredible and won the Belgian Player of the Year.
It was an amazing season for him, he broke the record for the highest average rating in the League and overall for AA Gent
This was our only award apart from myself winning Manager of the Season
My favourite player of the season was Hannes Van Der Bruggen, Playing mainly in Central Midfield he was amazingly consistent.
So that’s “B” complete, we now move onto “C”, the available leagues have been added, we have the choice of:
China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Chile and Colombia.
Update: After resigning from AA Gent it didn’t take long to get a job offer that appealed and I accepted, we are now in charge of Croatian side Rijeka, we have a healthy £2.8m transfer budget. They came second in the league last season so hopes are high for next!
Thanks for reading, would love any kind of feedback good or bad, either comment on here or via Twitter @thatfmregen