Welcome everybody! I finished the eighth season with Reading FC and you can read the usual summary on the lines bellow. This season was absolutely incredible as we won six trophies. Yes. SIX trophies. We lost only three competitive matches during this season, twice with Manchester United and once with Tottenham.
As I wrote in previous parts my Reading first team squad still includes 12 players from the original squad from the start of the save. My favorite players like Liam Kelly, Jake Cooper or phenomenal striker Danny Loader who was in fantastic form this season.
During the pre-season time I declined job offers from Arsenal, Atlético Madrid and Inter Milan and also from France and Italy national teams.
I think this part of my save is very boring for everyone who like to buy players/stars for big money as my transfer windows are very boring and I’m not too many active in this save because I still want to play with the current squad and players I have in the club.
But. I signed four youngsters during the summer and they were added to the first team but they played mainly for our U23s squad and if I’m right they played for U18s in UEFA Youth Champions League.
Outgoing transfers were mainly loans of some of our young players. Four of them went to Boreham Wood including striker Kevin King. This young player born in USA came to our club during the last youth intake and I want senior football for him. He did very well there as he scored 18 goals in 32 matches in Vanarama National League. He will go to PEC Zwolle next season (another our affiliate club)
During winter it was the same. Three players left for loan spells including striker Ollie Williams who was injured for 8(!) times during the first half of the season. Everytime he made apperance for our U23s team he was injured again.
And during the last day of the transfer window experienced midfielder Jack Byrne left our club for the record transfer fee. I wrote about him in this post when I made comparison of some players who are in the team for a couple of seasons. He had a contract just only until summer 2024 and he didn’t want to renew it so I sold him to Bournemouth for 11.75M with some addons. I think it’s very good deal if we consider I signed him for a free a couple of years ago…
2023/2024 Season Summary
The season started after friendlies with Anderlecht, Hertha or Red Bull Salzburg and some teams from English lower leagues.
One positive news was that young midfielder Alfredo Acuna gained work permit so he became a part of our team after we signed him last summer and he was on loan at PSV Eindhoven where he was a key player.
At the start of the season we lost to Manchester United in Community Shield after two goals by Marcus Rashford in the last fifteen minutes of match. We were not good enough and United won deservedly.
There were also the UEFA Super Cup in the middle of August and we played against AS Monaco. To be fair it was very boring game with limmited ammount of chances and we won it after penalties as their three players missed the target.
The first trophy 🏆
The Premier League campaign started badly for us as we lost 2-4 to Tottenham at home after we were 2-0 up after 18 minutes but Kane and Halilovic scored both brace.
But then we got back on the track. We beat Hull 4-0, Everton 3-1 and we also beat Manchester United 2-0 at home.
Champions League campaign also started for us and we had Galatasaray, Barcelona and Sporting in the Group. We won 3-0 at home in the first match against Galatasaray what was a very good start for us as we were last year champions.
There were many interesting matches in domestic league as we beat almost all except draws with West Ham and Stoke and the first half of the season looked like we can be very optimistic.
We also played in the EFL Cup, we beat Nottingham 1-0 with rotation squad and in the 4th Round we played at Anfield. This crazy match ended with our 5-4 win after the extra time as we scored the winner in 121st minute.
If you read the last season summary you now I wrote there about the new tactical setup (4-1-1-2-2). I used this formation also during the first half of this season as I wanted to test it and improve it. I changed some things like BWM role was changed to CM with support or defend duty what depended of our opponent.
And some other changes. I use this formation also for matches in Champions League Group Stage as we were able to draw at Camp Nou or to beat Sporting twice and Galatasaray as well. We gained two points from two matches with Barcelona and we finished first in the group with 14 points (two points ahead of Barca).
We were in very good form and it does not matter if we played with 4-3-3, 4-3-1-2 or 4-1-1-2-2 formations. Players were absolutely great and they were very confident. As Champions League winners we “had to” play the FIFA World Cup in Japan.
We beat Club América 6-0 in the Semi Final what was the new biggest win in the history of this competition. As I knew we play with Arsenal in the EFL Quarter Final only three days after the Final match I decided to rotate squad for the Final against Al-Ahli. Only three players from the usual starting XI played in the Final.
We were one goal down after in third minute of the match but we scored three goals in the rest of the match and we won the Club World Cup.
The second trophy 🏆
After we came back to England there were many matches to play. We had three league games in hand but we were only four points behind Arsenal who was top of the league in this time.
We beat them in the EFL Cup and after a couple of other fixtures in which we lost points only with Tottenham and Everton we moved to the second place in the table. Rotation was very needed in this hectic schedule but it was great to watch young players perform with high standard and I was not affraid of bad results.
Despite the positives I knew we have to lost some match. And it was with Manchester United at the start of the February when we played at Old Trafford and Charly Musonda scored the only goal of the match 11 minutes before the end.
It was the third and last lost of the season.
Before this match we also beat Tottenham in the EFL Cup Semi Final and made it to the Final for the fourth time in a row. After I decided to play youngsters in the 4th Round of FA Cup against Scunthorpe we needed the reply to go through to the next round.
As you can see in the screenshots with results bellow we scored a lot of goals this season. In this time of the season I really enjoyed our style of play. We beat Atlético Madrid 3-2 away and we were through to the CL Quarter Final after the home 1-1 draw.
There are two of my most favorite matches from this season. We beat Southampton 5-0 at home after great performance and we beat Liverpool 6-2 after we were 2-0 down after 25 minutes. But we have Samuel, Loader and other great players.
There were Inter, Juventus, Chelsea, PSG, Bayern and both clubs from Manchester in the Quarter Final of the Champions League. And we got Manchester City. I don’t like them as I’m a little bit nervous everytime we play against them. They are so strong against us.
But we made it. We won 2-1 at home and the second leg ended with a 2-2 draw so we were in the Semi Final.
We played with them also in the EFL Cup Final and we beat them 3-2 as Loader, Barrett and Cooper scored our goals. We won this competition for the fourth time in a row.
The third trophy 🏆
After we played our matches in hand we moved to the first place of the Premier League three points ahead of Arsenal. We played against them just a couple of days after the CL Quarter Final with City and we managed to draw 2-2 at the Emirates thanks to a late equaliser by Danny Loader. It was very important for us to stay top of the league.
In this time I really believed we are capable to win the Premier League after three years again.
We got PSG for the CL Semi Final and same as in the 1st Knockout Round with Atlético we won the first match away, this time 2-1. We scored the winner in the 82nd minute despite we played without Jordan Obita who was sent off in the 75th minute.
And the second match ended with a 2-2 draw same as with City in the round before. Champions League Final again!
At the start of the May we played against Watford and Bournemouth in two days. We beat Watford 2-0 and Bournemouth 3-1. In this match I played Glen Barber (click on his name to see his profile), young midfielder who scored his first league goal in his first league match for the club.
And three days after this match Arsenal lost to Manchester City in the league and we secured our second Premier League title in the club history as it was sure Arsenal can’t go before us in the table.
The fourth trophy 🏆
In the rest of the league season we beat Sunderland and Cardiff and tied with Chelsea. As Danny Loader scored our last goal of this league campaign it was his 23th goal of this Premier League season and he became the best goalscorer of the season just one goal ahead of Alexander Lacazette who scored 22 goals for Liverpool.
Loader was also voted English Footballer of the Year and English Players’ Young Player of the Year. He also won the European Golden Shoe thanks to his 23 league goals.
The end of the season was marked by two cup final games. We faced Arsenal in the FA Cup Final and we after goals by Samuel, Kelly, Loader and Barrett we won 4-1. Sean Blake was only scorer for Arsenal.
The fifth trophy 🏆
The last match of the season was the Champions League Final against Manchester United. They beat Monaco, Inter and Juventus on their way to the Final and they had Lyon, FC Kobenhavn and Atlético Madrid in the group stage.
I had captain Jordan Obita back in the squad after he was not able to play the Semi Final second leg due to a red card in the first match with PSG. Loader and Samuel upfront and Kelly behind them. Acuna became our best deep lying midfieler during the season so it was easy to choice for the Final.
United still have Pogba or De Gea in the squad along players like Vrsaljko, Alaba or Hazard or Gabriel Jesus.
We had only three shots on target during the match but two of them was succesful. Loader scored our first in the 23rd minute and as I subbed Molloy for Samuel in the half time this young striker scored our second after an hour of play. We played great defensively and didn’t allow to United score what meant 2-0 the final score.
The sixth trophy 🏆
What an incredible season! Six trophies in a single season!
We became the first club in the Champions League history to retain the title. Incredible.
Take a look at the results summary in screens…
If you look at the players stats you will see goalkeeper Luke Southwood made 59 apperances this season, Danny Loader had 57 apperances and Tennai Watson 44.
There is one thing I’m very proud of. Seven players (Loader, Molloy, Samuel, Kelly, Rimmer, Castle and Barrett) scored 10+ goals. Danny Loader was phenomenal as he scored 41 goals and made 20 assists. Striker Atnony Molloy who is mainly backup player scored 21 goals and made 14 assists. Dominic Samuel had 20 goals and 10 assists.
And Liam Kelly scored 17 goals and made 15 assists from his Shadow Striker role. Dean Castle is also backup player but he scored 11 goals and made 9 assists.
In 38 Premier League matches we scored 101 goals, conceded 39 and we had 57 yellow cards and no red car. Our average attendance was 38k which means we had all home matches sold out.
We finished this season wth 436,559,591 overall balance. I got over 280M transfer budget for next season and 3,4M wage budget. But if you know me…
At the end of the April of this year I almost died…why I’m so theatrical? I received message to my inbox that Liam Kelly wants to discuss his future. He told me he wants a new challenge as he feels he has achieved everything he can at the club.
The advise of my backroom staff was we can sell him because we have big enough squad.
I asked him “what is it going to take to keep you here?”. He wanted silverware. Win some medals. I promise him we will achieve something this season.
I laughed out loud as I was sure we win the Premier League at least. And one day after we secured the Premier League “Liam Kelly no longer wants to leave the club following the succesful league campaign.” Phew…
I received the same message from central defender Tyler Blackett as well and he refused to stay so it’s very possible he will leave our club after eight years with us in the summer. But if it was Kelly I think I would end this save…
I think I rarely informed you about my Youth Intake during the previous seasons so I will correct this now. During this year Youth Intake decent amount of new young players.
We have two new midfielders and three defenders with some potentia in our U18s sqaud. We have Dutch side PEC Zwolle as affiliate club from the last year and thanks to it one of the new youngsters in our squad is central defender Bobby van der Veen who has chance to develop in decent defender if everything will be alright in next years in his development.
And that’s it. Thanks for your attention and enjoy your saves!
PS. Six trophies 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆