Good morning all and welcome back to a new update in my Stranraer Tycoon save and also with the Welsh National Side
As you will be aware from my last post you will know I am currently mid World Cup Qualification with Wales and after 2 games we have 4 points. And it is going amazing with Stranraer, 3 straight promotions puts us in the Scottish Premiership this season, its been an amazing run but its all thanks to the awesomebacking of my Tycoon Chairman!
I’ll go through Wales first, then Stranraer after as Wales won’t take long!!
We had what I thought was an easy Group, we were the highest ranked team (13th), the next best team was Cyprus (43rd) we also had Sweden, Hungary, Liechtenstein and Malta, only the top team goes through then the 3 best 2nd places so we had a tough challenge but I expected us to qualify as group winners.
As you will see below it was anything but easy. We started with a fantastic 6-2 win against Sweden but every time we won we managed to screw up the next game. Defeats to Cyprus and Sweden away and a draw against Hungary at home was awful and in the end we had a shocking campaign
Yes that’s right we came 3rd in the group, so not even a chance of qualification as runners-up. Absolutely shocking, I can’t put my finger on what went wrong, maybe I got the tactics wrong, maybe I just didn’t select the right players. I don’t know, but I didn’t hang about, I decided to resign straight after to concentrate on Stranraer!
So 3 straight promotions and with that our first ever SPL season. How well could we do? Well the board set their expectations and they weren’t as hopeful as me!
Basically they didn’t want us to end bottom. I had much higher hopes than that. We had £6m to spend and about £100k of spare wages, with the right additions I fully expected a top half finish, maybe we could push the top 4 and claim a European spot but we will wait and see.
I really did need to improve the squad first, we were losing a few players due to their contracts running out and me not feeling they were good enough. First thing I had to do was try to resign Striker Garry Hay, as you will know from my previous posts he had been amazing on loan the previous 2 seasons scoring 80 in 68 games. I did get him and he only cost me £1m from Celtic
Other than that I needed to replace my outgoing players. A CB was needed, a CM was needed as was a back-up Striker. I did manage to get them all and here they are:
Signing 2 – Javier Suay will be my 1st choice CB, a tall, strong player who will give us that vital edge in defence. He cost me £775k from Liverpool
Signing 3 – Sean Haynes, a really good looking all round midfielder, hard working and strong. He broke the record for a transfer fee paid at £2m from Derby
Signing 4 – Claudio Collet was signed on a pre-contract deal from Derby and can play all over the defence
Signing 5 – Darren Reynolds was signed as I decided to let one of my rubbish RWs leave, he will provide much needed experience and will fill in at RW when required. Was signed on a pre-contract deal from Portsmouth
Finally I got one player on loan
Shaun Galsworthy was signed for the season from Swansea and as you will see later proved to be much more than just a back-up!
So signings complete and my squad looks more than capable of staying clear of relegation
We are ranked quite well in the comparison page too with only Decisions and Aggression ranked lowly (10th out of 12)
So as I headed into the season I was confident I could easily beat the board expectations and try to go even further. A European spot would be amazing if we could do it, I also wanted to do well in the cups
One note before I go through the season, our facilities got the upgrade I mentioned in the previous post and this is how our training and youth looks now
The Domestic Season – Scottish League Cup
Our first chance at winning something and it started well. We beat League 2 Brechin in the first round and then Championship side Dumbarton in Round 2, We then faced fellow Premiership side Hearts in the 3rd round at Home. I fully expected to win but after taking a 1-0 lead we couldn’t hang on and were beaten 2-1. It was a disappointment and showed we had a long way to go to challenge the bigger boys in our league
Scottish FA Cup
This for me was the one to win, a European spot was at our mercy if we managed to win it.
League 2 Albion Rovers were our 3rd round opponents and we battered them 4-0, we then played Championship side Dumbarton in the 4th round and scraped our way through 3-2 with a Garry Hay winner in the 93rd minute. We then played Hearts in the Quarter Final
A 1-1 draw at Home wasn’t the best start and in the replay it was tense. We took an early lead but like the League Cup Hearts came back to lead 2-1 at Half-time. A change of mentality in the 2nd half paid dividends as we managed to score twice to win the tie 3-2. What a fantastic result and in the Semi Final we played the team who we could never seem to beat….
Yes we drew Celtic. So far in 5 meetings we had lost all 5 so I knew this was going to be tough. The game was an absolute goal fest, not one for the faint hearted! Celtic took an early lead but clawed our way back immediately, by half-time we somehow were 3-1 up against the run of play. Celtic came out in the 2nd half and absolutely battered us, we couldmt keep up with them and they managed to get it back to 3-3. Extra time was called for and in the 101st minute we had done it, Centre Back and former Celtic player Greg Hughes popped up from a corner to make it 4-3. Celtic came back at us but we held ourselves together and we had done it! First win against Celtic and we are into the final
Where we will play Motherwell. We were favourites to win and win it we did! We took the lead and never looked back. Motherwell played well but we never looked in danger of losing and in the end we won the game 4-2! Our first big trophy and with that a guaranteed Europa League spot next season!
So what a start but the big one was still to come! How would we do?
The season didn’t start too well, after 8 games we had 10 points and sat 7th in the league. We were playing decent but couldn’t hold leads when we had them and kept letting in late goals. I tried to keep morale up, we were doing well and with a little bit of “Defensive Positioning” training we could turn this around
And turn it around we did, in the next 16 games we won 13 and lost 3, with this we were well and truly in the race for a Champions League spot. Celtic by this time were way clear at the top but we knew that 2nd place would get us into the CL for next season.
We carried on playing well but as the season drew to a close our form dipped. In the final 5 games (Championship playoffs) we only managed 5 points but by then we were well clear of the chasers and we managed to keep our 2nd place finish!
What a first season! 2nd place and we smashed the board expectation!
Absolutely amazing, it started so badly but we kept the faith and never gave up. With this we had done the impossible. Stranraer had qualified for the Champions League!!!!
And straight after this the board gave me their budgets for next season. The wage budget wasn’t very high, we only have around £50k spare but I wont need all of the £7m in transfers so may adjust it a bit
Also the board gave me more good news with more upgrades to the facilities
End of Season Awards
We absolutely dominated this so here they all are
My on loan Striker Shaun Galsworthy not only ended the league’s top goalscorer but also won the Football of the Year award. Amazing for a guy who wasn’t even going to be first choice. I have tried to sign him for next season but Swansea wanted £13m for him, but they have accepted another season long loan offer
The sensational Garry Hay won the Players Player of the Year award
Scott Donaldson, who I signed as a 17-year-old in the League Two days won the Young Player of the Year award
And we also has 5 players in the Team of the Year
WOW What a season its been! A 2nd place finish in the league and a domestic trophy as well. Absolutely incredible. I’m not sure how I’m going to top this. Celtic are going to be so tough to topple but we have beaten them in the cup this season so we know we can beat them on our day. My hope for next season is to once again come 2nd. Maybe win the cup again and hopefully somehow get into the Champions League Group Stage. Maybe that’s a little optimistic? We will see!!
Thanks for reading