Howay the Lads !
– DoF and Dumb
Director of Football – Mattias Sammer and Chief Scout – Sven Mislintat
Following on from our triumphant climb to the summit of English football – we embarked on a summer which would throw some unforeseen upheaval our way.
Nothing is permanent; especially in football and that’s certainly the case with our Director of Football, Matthias Sammer.
The 1996 Ballon d’Or winner and ex- Borussia Dortmund captain joined our Newcastle revolution back in 2020 – forging a fruitful working relationship with compatriot, Sven Mislintat also previously of Dortmund.
Both men possess a unique skill for spotting talented footballers – and three names to add to their portfolio come in the form of our recently acquired wonderkids from Colombia, Belgium and Brazil, respectively.
The aforementioned dream team is no more, though – as Sammer has decided to leave the Premier League champions for UEFA Champions League winners, Liverpool.
Atalanta are a club who do not simply rely on players graduating from their famed youth academy [Scuola di Calcio – School of Football].
They continually have their finger on the pulse – and Giovanni Sartori is the man tasked with rebuilding the squad year-on-year.
Sartori has a real knack for unearthing underperforming, unloved players and hidden gems; getting them shining once more. [something we’ve done throughout the save with players like Joelinton and Gnabry].
Sartori was instrumental in securing exorbitant sums of money for La Dea when he sanctioned the departures of Franck Kessié and Andrea Conti to AC Milan for a combined value of around €52 million.
Make no mistake – Sartori is a canny operator and, Atalanta stand to seize another small fortune in the real world as the vultures are circling; preparing moves for the mercurial Josip Iličić and rejuvenated Colombian hitman, Duván Zapata.
Sartori’s Bergamo love story comes to a conclusion as a new adventure begins in North-East England with, yes – Newcastle United.
It would seem somewhat fitting, then, as Matthias Sammer departs the club; those players for which he was so integral in recruiting – arrive.
Sartori has a tough act to follow, so let’s see how he adapts outside of his Italian home.
We approached the 2022/23 season as Premier League champions, therefore, I assumed that our well-oiled footballing machine would continue motoring in defense of our title.
Oh, how wrong I would be..!!
OUT: Gōtoku Sakai – IN: Andrew Robertson
IN: Harry Maguire
The close season  would show the football world that Newcastle United meant business when the club smashed their transfer record by landing Scottish wing-back Andrew Roberston from perennial league challengers, Liverpool in a deal rising to £59 million..!!
Thee outstanding performer in his position and at twenty-eight years old – at the peak of his powers. This is a real coup for the club.
However, as smitten as I am with this signing – has it had an adverse effect on our ability to defend? Robertson loves to get forward when possible, which is something that Gōtoku Sakai didn’t have in his makeup. I think it’s safe to say – Sakai was perhaps the safer option.
Harry Maguire arrived on Tyneside for a reasonable outlay of £22 million [almost half of the amount recouped from the Jamaal Lascelles transfer to Tottenham Hotspur six months earlier]. Maguire would rotate with Young English Player of the Year – Perr Schuurs for the left sided centre-back slot. The jury is very much still out with regards to the towering Dutchman; with match defining errors still part of his game.
Poor run of form..!!
Was it simply taking time for our new players to gel?
After sharing dialogue with some of my peers on #FMSlack – I settled on the notion that opposition managers had perhaps figured out how to nullify our potent attack – soaking-up the heavy pressure and killing us on the counter-attack.
I had to act fast to avoid conceding our league crown at this early juncture – and prevent almost certain humiliation.
Slow down my in-match playing speed. [comprehensive highlights].
When kicking-off this journey – I felt it was important to closely monitor how each player, position and role functioned in creating our desired philosophy.
Over time, when our football machine neared completion – I would increase the speed at which I played matches [key highlights].
However, now is a good time to strip it all back to analyse what’s going on.
Opposition managers and coaches appear to be utilizing a double pivot or twin defensive midfield combination in an attempt to stifle our lethal attack; soaking-up the relentless pressure and hitting us with a counter sucker punch.
There’s no right or wrong in football – simply different methods and ideologies.
To my mind, there’s a couple of ways in which we could try to combat this.
Slow down our approach to the game – adopting a more cautious approach, taking time in our build-up play and waiting for the right moment to strike. Like a venomous viper.
My idea would be to drop our attacking midfielder [Ruben Loftus-Cheek] who’s being outnumbered in this zone of the pitch, for a player in the defensive midfield slot.
Ideally someone with a good passing range and the ability to dictate the rhythm of a match.
As we will be removing an attack minded player who also links our forward play – the midfield pairing ahead of the defensive midfielder will be tasked with creating, supporting and also scoring goals themselves.
We could perhaps shift our attacking intent to wider areas – getting more crosses into the box for headers, knockdowns or scraps at the edge of the area.
However, this is not for us…
We are reliant on our wide forwards for goals, and it’s vital they continue to ghost inside in order to find the net.
Our wing-backs create width in our setup but, there’s also a valid concern that they’ve been left exposed in behind whilst we’ve been pushing and searching for a breakthrough at the other end of the pitch.
Looking at the personnel at our disposal, we’d be best suited to option A.
This would make my decision to allow Ludovic Blas a move to Lyon seem crazy, as this is exactly the type of player who could currently help the cause.
What can we do?
You can only piss with the cock you’ve got, as they say.
Well, until the January transfer window at least.
That’s where Giovanni Sartori and the Atalanta connection comes in.
Having been fortunate enough to lure Atalanta’s sporting director [DoF] after the somewhat sudden departure of Mattias Sammer; the Italian talent spotter immediately approached me with a player recommendation.
Like a bolt from the blue – there it was.
Although already familiar with the player; the current situation and our plans going forward would require a more attack focused central midfielder.
What, with Ludovic Blas out on loan, we made our move.
Alessandro Cortinovis – a player I’m sure you’ll be hearing a lot more about, not only on this save but also in real world football.
Along with Amad Traoré – the pair are seen as the next hot commodities destined to break into the first team in Bergamo.
I’m delighted to get the finer details completed on this deal.
Giovanni Sartori’s Atalanta connection being the decisive factor.
After leading his country to their first major tournament since the 1998; Steve Clarke was relieved of his duties as Scotland manager following a dismal showing at the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Clarke makes way for Clark, however, as it’s now my unenviable task to try and bring some relative success to the hoards of Tartan Army supporters.
I’ve never juggled International management with my club specific save on Football Manager. In-fact, I’ve never managed an International side at all.
This is something I’m particularly excited about – having spent the best part of three hours clearing out the International pool of players and calling up those I feel deserve the call.
The other headline grabbing news is….
The club were presented with an opportunity that was simply far too good to refuse.
When Manchester United placed England star, Marcus Rashford on the unwanted list –
I was initially shocked but also bright-eyed.
An offer of £27.5 million was filed which met United’s valuation of the player but, when we sat down with both the player and his representatives – we were quite some distance apart in being able to secure a deal.
The deal was dead..!!
Well, at least until the media were touting us for a bid of around £10 million under what we had previously tabled.
The Manchester giants seemed more than happy to accept our second offer totalling £16 million.
From nowhere – we’ve now secured one of thee top English players of his generation.
I’m not entirely sure where this move leaves us in relation to players now deemed surplus to requirements, however, my initial strategy would be to move on Brazilian forward, Joelinton.
With the club recently tying up a deal for his fellow countryman and wonderkid – Nivaldo and, or course, Alfredo Morelos being our main man up-front; now seems like end-of-days for the ex-Hoffenheim striker.
Rashford won’t necessarily spearhead our attack, but he’s adept at playing anywhere across the forward line so, maybe we can deploy his as an inside forward [left of right].