When I started this save I wanted to enjoy the game and wanted to play with young players like Liam Kelly, Dominic Samuel or Jake Cooper. If you read the first parts you know I did not want to win Premier League title in two years or something like that.
After saves in lower leagues in previous FM versions I just wanted to play with team I know very good and the plan was to write something about.
Well. We were promoted from Championship in third season. Premier League title in fifth season. And now the seventh season is over. And we have won the Champions League.
How we did it? Just take a look on the season 2022/2023 summary…
In terms of transfers there were only two new players which came to our club. I signed 18 years old goalkeeper Sam Sampson from our feeder club but that was only because of lack of keeper in our reserve and youth team. He will be released after his contract will expires.
The second player is diferrent story. I scouted this guy for a couple of months last season and I decided to buy him instead he did not receive work permit. Central midfielder Alfredo Acuna was sent for loan to PSV Eindhoven where he became starting XI regular. We’ll see how he will develop. He has now 23 caps for Paraguay after the end of the season.
Outgoing transfers were not painful. I sold some players as they were with us for a long time but they have to play more than only for reserve team and I did not want to pay their salaries for another one or two seasons despite I knew they will be not first team players.
There were also some loans like every season. The most important was to select a right club for central defender Simon Broughton who I want back in the team for another season. He went to Scunthorpe and he was key player in their Championship side. He helped to survive Scunthorpe as they finished 21st just only two points ahead of Sheffield United.
I decided to play some strong teams during the pre-season so we hosted Krasnodar, Austria Wien, Juventus or Anderlecht at the Madejski Stadium. We beat them all so I was excited before the season. Maybe too much.
We were defeated by Arsenal after penalties in the Community Shield after match ended with a 2-2 draw after the 90 minutes and we were 2-1 up after the first half time.
The season itself started well. We lost only to Chelsea in third league match and then we lost to Juventus at the start of the November in the Champions League group.
We played very good and I was pleased with results like 5-1 win over Watford, 3-0 over Tottenham or crazy 5-3 away win with Swansea.
At the end of the November we had to win with Molde to secure qualification from the CL group. And despite the home win a couple of weeks before I was nervous how it will go. Well, it went great thanks to Danny Loader who scored five goals as we scored six goals during the 22 minutes…
After this Loader show we also beat Leverkusen in the last group match so we have won the group ahead of Leverkusen.
In other news from the club, our Madejski Stadium was expanded to 38k capacity and it looks like this…
We were fourth in the table after ten matches were played and were around the TOP 4 during the whole season. There were some draws (Man United, Arsenal, West Ham, Watford…) and we also lost some matches. Just four in the season. The biggest defeat was a 1-4 with Tottenham.
It was just three days after the win in the EFL Cup Final over Watford and our first trophy of this season.
During the January we lost attacking midfielder Josh Barrett due to injury for 4 months as he damaged achilles tendon. It was for the third time in this save he got a long term injury during the winter and he was unavailable for the rest of the season. It was big blow as he was in very good form this season.
As our season looks very good (I was not in bad mood because of we were far away from the league title) there was also Champions League.
We played with AC Milan in the 1st Round and we have won 2-1 in Milan the first leg. Dean Castle who is/was a cover for Josh Barrett scored the winner and it was like some prediction he will play some part in the future. You will understand it at the end of this part…
The second leg at home was even better as Samuel and Kelly scored both twice and Loader once so we beat AC Milan 5-2 and we made it to the Quarter Final in second season in a row. During this time when we also drew with West Brom and lost with Man City we were out of the title race but when I found we will play with Internazionale in the next stage of CL I wanted to go to the Semi Final.
We beat Inter 2-1 at home in the first leg despite we were 1-0 down but Samuel scored the winner in the 91st minute. The second trip to Milan this season started great as we were 1-0 up after 22nd minute but they equalised thanks to Cooper’s own goal.
Anderson put us back ahead but Gabriel Barbosa scored brace and Inter were 3-2 ahead. We were lucky enough and did not concede another one so we were through thanks to an away goal rule.
Reading, Arsenal and Manchester City made it to the CL Semi Final this season along with Benfica. We got Arsenal and we had to play with them three matches during eight days as we played with them also in the league.
New tactic? Just testing…
During this season I also decided to try a new tactic. As you know we play with 4-3-3 or 4-3-1-2 formations but I wanted to try something new and developed another option. The basics are from these two but it was changed to 4-1-1-3-1.
For better understading I use DLP in DM position and the trio including Shadow Strikers and Enganche with Advanced Forward ahead of them.
I played with it some matches and it went decent but as time went and we had some injury issues I switched back to the 4-3-1-2.
I uploaded some videos to my YouTube channel with goals from matches in which we used this new tactic. I will write about maybe if I will use it more again…
We had 10 matches from April 22nd to May 21st including the Champions League Semi Final, FA Cup Semi Final and FA Cup Final. We won nine from these ten matches as we only drew 0-0 with Arsenal in the CL Semi Final first leg.
The reply at the Emirates Stadium was absolutely crazy game. We were 2-0 down after the brace by Paulo Dybala but Tyler Blackett and Loader scored two goals in 59.32 and 60:28.
The 2-2 draw will be enough for us because of away goal rule but we earned penalty kick in the stoppage time. Obita missed it but Donnarumma scored an own goal with magnificent backheel finish…
And that was it. We were in the Champions League Final. Against Benfica as Portuguese side beat Manchester City.
Before the “Big Final” we won the FA Cup after the 2-1 win in the FInal over Stoke. We laso won the last two league matches against Cardiff and Wolverhampton. Thanks to the last round win and Chelsea’s defeat to Man City we moved to the third place in the table so we secured the Champions League Group Stage spot.
Let’s start with the big match in the Champions League. Same as we were still without Josh Barrett as he was only in light training regime Benfica lost their biggest star – Joazinho (click on name to see his profile) for a couple of weeks and he missed the final.
Benfica had Basel, Schalke, PSG in the group and they won the group with 13 points same as we did. Benfica beat Atlético, BVB and Man City on their way to Final. They were through to next stages thanks to away goal rule against Atlético and City.
The Final match was played at Atatürk Olympiyat Stadium in Istanbul. There were 75,145 fans including 37,572 fans from Reading.
The first half was average as we had three shots (2 blocked, 1 saved) and they had six shots (1 blocked, 3 saved and 2 off target).
In the second half we had five shots saved and they have 3 blocked, 1 saved and 2 off target.
They had four big chances but my keeper was great. I had only two clear cut chances. The last 30 minutes of the second half was the worst as they were dominant and we were only defending but extra time was much better from us.
During the second half I decided to make maybe illogical subs as I took of the pitch Liam Kelly, Dominic Samuel and John Swift. Three of our key players. I decided to play youngsters Cvancara, Castle and Molloy. I thought in that moment they will be more benefical for our play.
Maybe that was the reason why Benfica was much better during the last 30 minutes of the match as there was some minutes in which we were useless but nevermind. As I said we were much better than them in the extra-time and seven minutes before the end we scored the winner.
And could it have been better than to score a Champions League winner after the throw-in routine?
Remember Dean Castle from the paragraph above? Yes, he scored the winner!
There were no chances during the rest of extra-time and we won it! Reading FC = the 2022/2023 Champions League winners.
In next screens you can check matches in all competitions and friendlies as well. I uploaded also the team stats and the first team squad list including youngsters with some potential.
The last two pictures are competitions summary and our finances. We had a profit of 104M for the last financial year. We had 391,584,934 overall balance just after the Champions League Final.
The wage budget was increased to 2,6M per week and transfer budget before the next season is 239M. I’m about 1,5M under the wage budget.
There were some very good individual performances during this season. Striker Danny Loader scored 29 goals in all competitions, Liam Kelly scored 18 goals and made 15 assists from his Shadow Striker role. Dominic Samuel scored 21 goals and made 12 assists or Paul Rimmer scored 16 goals and made 11 assists as a backup player.
Despite the injury our keeper Luke Southwood played in 50 matches and he kept 23 clean sheets and he broke his own club record from the 2020/2021 season when he had 20 clean sheets.
Central defender Jake Cooper who now has 270 matches for the club was added to legends of the club. Captain Jordan Obita has 325 matches for Reading, he was voted the best African defender of the year for the third year in a row and Liam Kelly was named the best Irish player of the year of 2022 what was one of my highlight of this season.
I would be able to write about some players again and again but I leave it here. I’m happy I won the Champions League and it would be great to compete with other teams for Premier League title in next season.
But I will stick with this team. No crazy transfers. I like this team but this is a topic for next part maybe…
Thanks for reading, @KeysiRensie.