STATEMENT FROM THE CAMBRIDGE UNITED BOARD
It is with regret that we announce that Manager Michael Brazier handed in his resignation today and leaves the club with immediate effect. Brazier has taken on a role with the English National Team and didn’t feel that it was fair to split is time between his new national commitments and his existing club ones. Brazier has had 2 stints with Cambridge United, guiding us from League 2 to the Premier League both times, we wish Brazier all the best with his future endeavours. Paulo Sousa will take charge of the first team following Brazier’s departure.
One Year Later
I may not have left a Dan Gear Kasimpasa style juggernaut for the AI to look after. We haven’t won multiple league titles or have a fine tuned youth set up. What I have left the AI is a young, very talented squad that is ready to fight for European football backed by a very good youth set up and a fair bit of cast in the bank. So how did they use this squad? Sousa finished 14th in the Premier League which is better than I’d expected, reaching the 5th round of the FA Cup and the 3rd round of the League Cup.
Transfer wise is better than I’d expected as well. The likes of Davidson and Ivanovic are still with the club with the only major summer departures being Loic Mbe Soh to Nantes (Loan), Eighan O’Connell to Norwich (£145k) and young talented midfielder Walid Jaziri, who I was cultivating of a first team role, to Las Palmas (Loan). January saw a few more high profile departures as Bobby Duncan left for Hull City (£1.6m), Hamza Choudhury ;eave for Middlesbrough (£3.1m), Jay Dasilva to Bolton (£1.2m), Simon McGrath to Aston Villa (£1.5m) and Izzy Bunce to Crewe (Loan) while young midfielder Haydn Galloway departed permanently to Huddersfield (£375k).
Incoming we saw young midfielder Onur Gumusel join for £5m while veteran centre back Ahmet Calik joined for £1.4m. January saw long term love of mind Trevoh Chalobah return to Cambridge United for £6.5m, while Steven Bohnsack, José Mário and Guillermo Cotugno joined for a combined total of £9.6m. Sousa fancied a 4-4-2, which makes sense with 2 very complete strikers and a plethora of talented wingers, with Gumusel being the only new player to break into the best 11 of this season.
Davidson has struggled this season only registering 13 goals but still being the teams top scorer, while Marian Engel has gone from being my midfield conductor to a centre back for Sousa. He’s replaced Holger Buhler who has moved back to his natural left back role, a shame as he was perfect centre back material but the game never excepted this even when he became accomplished in that position while my young Paraguayan attacking midfielder Víctor Valiente has only managed 5 appearances this season.
Two Years Later
Sousa has improved his Cambridge this year, finishing 12th and managing to get to the quarter finals of the League Cup. The improvement though is in the FA Cup where they finished as runners-up to Stoke City. A much stronger changing of the guard has started this season and while they’ve still managed to keep the core players, guys like Danny Loader, Loic Mbe Soh, Tomás Chancalay, Stuart Holland all leaving on permanent deals totalling £11.5m (£16.15m). Also leaving on permanent deals are last years signees Ahmry Calik and Guillermo Cotugno who leave for a combined loss of £1.6m while Tevoh Chalobah leaves on a loan after also being signed last season.
Sousa has really let rip into Cambridge United’s bank account by laying out £73m on players this season with players like Giovanni Troupée, Sead Haksabanovic and Cincent Lafont being the headlines of Sousa’s new recruits. Aleksandar Jovic has replaced Davidson as top scorer this season with Nikola Ivanovic now club captain. Jurica Stipica is the latest young player to fall foul of Sousa’s changes, now playing back up to Engle and Bohnsack in the centre of defence.
At international level Engle played a part of Germany winning the European Championships, though how much of a part is questionable as he’s only played 5 games for them and he didn’t play any of the tournament games I could see, though 2 of the group games won’t tell me who played in them so it is possible he played in one or both of those. Off the pitch the club have continued with them improvements I set in motion by gaining a Youth Category One rating.
Three Years Later
When I started this blog post I fully expected my Cambridge side would be carved up and start the descent down the league levels, maybe not all the way down but certainly to the Championship. What I didn’t expect was that in 3 years the new manager would have guided them to Europe but that is exactly what has happened. Paulo Sousa’s Cambridge United have finished 6th in the Premier League and qualified for the Europa League. It’s fine, it’s fine. I’m okay, honest. I’m happy for them and not a jealous ex-boyfriend at all. This is accompanied by them winning the League Cup, another item on my bucket list, and if I wasn’t already planning on continuing with this save in the background then I certainly would be now. The one slip up is a 3rd round exit in the FA Cup but that doesn’t matter when you’ve brought European football and a proper trophy to the club for the first time in this save.
Transfer wise the big story is the sale of Holger Buhler to Manchester City for £40m while Víctor Valiente departs to Ajax (£2.6m) and returnee Trevoh Chalobah joins Watford for less than he came back for (£5.25m) after making just 7 starts of Cambridge on his return. These were just part of £74m worth of players who left the club while £92m joined with South African Aubrey Mchunu (£15.5m) playing a key role in Cambridge’s success this season finishing as their top scorer, while Samo’s favourite Kieran Tierney also joined from Arsenal (£5.25m).
Another shot is that stalwart of the Brazier era David Donaldson has been relegated to a bit part role, only making 14 Premier League starts this season and being retrained as a winger. Stipica has reclaimed his centre back role as Marian Engel has moved forward back to his central midfield role. Only 6 of my side remain in the first team squad with Donaldson taking a regular place on the bench.
Four Years Later
The next update was supposed to be ‘Five Years Later’ but Cambridge qualifying for the Europa League threw a spanner in the works for that one. How could I not cover their first season in Europe? So here I am squeezing in another update and making this already long post even longer. So how did Cambridge’s first European excursion go? Well After topping a group that included Celtic, Wolfsburg and Molde they made it all the way to the Second Round before losing to eventual winners Liverpool. Sousa managed to secure a second season of European football with another 6th place finish as well as making the Semi Finals and Quarter Finals of the FA Cup and League Cup respectively.
Transfer wise David Donaldson finally left, moving to West Ham for a paltry £28.5m and Marian Engel moved to Barcelona for a whopping £94m. Sousa continued his moves to erase my players from his side by selling Assane Agnero to Stoke (£8.75m) and Marko Radojevic to RB Leipzig (£52m). All together outgoing transfers made the club £251m this year with £218m being spent to bring players in, Sousa’s first year of profit. To bring things back to Engel for a minute, he has become one of Germany’s regulars, helping them to the Semi Finals of the World Cup. Sousa also has an England international in this ranks with Dan Cotterill winning 7 caps for Engand, that wasn’t technically on my buket list but as I only wanted to be England manager in this save to squeeze some of my lads into the England squad it’s as close to no 4 as Sousa will get, luckly Cotterill isn’t a homegrown Cambridge United player that would be a full house. Can he finish the lost before his 10 years is up?
Five Years Later
After 2 seasons in the Europa League, Cambridge United have failed to qualify for European football for the 2032/33 season with an 8th place Premier League finish. However they did finished their second season in Europe in style by finishing as Runners Up in the Europa League to Chelsea. Sousa man, how the fuck am I supposed to follow this? You made it to Europe AND won a trophy within 3 years and now you nearly win a European trophy in your 4th season! That was so far from my realm of possibility that I didn’t even put it on my bucket list. The English cups were less successful with Cambridge being knocked out of the FA Cup in the 3rd round and the League Cup in the 4th round.
Jurica Stipica is the latest Brazier era player to depart, moving to Stoke for £21.5m, Stipica leaving couldn’t stop Cambridge from failing the Premier League financial fair play regulations. Moving on to the best 11, Sousa’s first player has cracked the Cambridge United Overall Best 11 and that player is Ghanaian David Adams who has managed 81 appearances at right back for the team. Right back was probably the weakest spot in that team so it’s not a surprise that he’s broken through there first. My next update will be in another 5 years time and it will be interesting how many of my players will still be on this list by then. If Sousa wins the Premier League I swear I will delete this whole blog post that has taken me a legit 8 hours so far, around doing other things I’ve needed to get done today.
Ten Years Later
So it’s the year 2037. What’s changed in the last 10 years at Cambridge? Well Paulo Sousa is no longer manager. He left to take the Dortmund job in 2034 and now manages Juventus. He was replaced by Giovanni van Bronckhorst who was sacked after a year and a half before current manager Moussa Diaby, current PSG winger, took on the role. Before Diaby was found Tony Docherty had a 14 day stint as Caretaker Manager, Docherty being a man who I brought in as Assistant Manager during my time and a man who still has that role.
In the Premier League Cambridge have struggled to reach the heights of Sousa’s mid reign, finishing 14th, 9th, 7th, 15th and most recently 8th, though they have managed to qualify for Europe as they managed to get to another Europa League final, losing to Chelsea again and just to keep up with tradition they also failed FFP regulations just like the last time. That same season they also managed to get the the League Cup final, this time losing to Newcastle.
A look at the squad shows that Aleksandar Jovic and Nikola Ivanovic are still at the club, both are now 30 but while Jovic has nearly 100 caps for Serbia Ivanovic only has 30. Though a quick inspection of the Serbian national team shows a possible reason why, they don’t play with wingers and actually play a 4-3-3 hackz, unlucky for both Ivanovic and former alumni Marko Radojevic, that is before I see that Radojevic has been retrained as a left back at Leipzig.
Moving back towards our best ever 11 I see 7 of my players still standing proud. Jovic and Ivanovic obviously, but Donaldson, Brown, Osadebe, Radojevic and Stipica all still sit on that list long after leaving. Donaldson never hit the heights he felt destined to, struggling to hold down a first team place at West Ham before moving to Hannover. Stipica is now playing at Juventus and Marian Engel is at Manchester City, having moved there for £101m. Lastly I want to pick out my young goalkeeper Suart Holland who after leaving Cambridge found a first team role at Celtic where he’s still holding down a first team role. A few of Cambridge’s former players have moved into back room roles with Bailey Peacock-Farrell now a goalkeeping coach, Hamza Choudhury a head of youth development, while Uche Ikpeazu is a scout and Trevoh Chalobah has just resigned from a managing Nuneaton.
In the end the AI managed to keep Cambridge floating along, even improving slightly on what I’d done before dropping back down. They, in general, were sensible with bringing players in and with who they let go, however the way a few of my talented youngsters were cut adrift hurts some what. This ending gives me a time frame for my bucket list for sure, I need to beat Sousa to taking Cambridge to Europe and now make a dent in that competition before him as well as winning a trophy within the first 3 years. One last point, I’ve dropped off the favoured personnel list completely, the man who effected the single biggest change in Cambridge United’s history forgotten, but the changes I made and the players I helped perform will be remembered forever, especially sole club legend Jevani Brown.
Thanks to Keysi for hosting me, I have a new tactics series using England, you can find me in FM Slack which you can join here, my channel is #braziers-England, I’m also on Twitter and Instagram. I also have my own blog where I talk about random rubbish with its own Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and fledgling YouTube.