I’m starting to think this blogging malarkey is a bad thing…it stops me finger blasting the continue button, which I really want to do, but at the same time it’s helping me to stop making silly mistakes, skipping over details and generally play the game better than I probably have for a number of years.
As it is we now find ourselves at the end of the first season with AZ. It’s been a pretty interesting one and I’ll try to summarise it in as few words as possible given that this is already the 6th blog this season…so here we go.
We won the Eredivisie at the first attempt – an awesome achievement in isolation however I’m pretty disappointed at how the likes of PSV and Ajax performed, offering up pathetic seasons and finishing miles off the pace. I hope this season was a freak and that there’ll be some difficulty to the domestic title next season. You can see the table below:
We ended up drawing our final 3 games of the season but still managed to finish top by 3 points on a fairly good 80 points. Utrecht were great all season and worthy of 2nd place whilst Feyenoord, top for so long, had an awful final 1/3 of the season to fall away 5 points adrift of us.
The board were mightily pleased and so they should be. We smashed through the above club objective by qualifying for the Champions League 2 years ahead of schedule. The board now want us to challenge for Champions League places in the next few seasons which I think is a very reasonable objective for us now. Talking of Club Vision:
You can see the adjustments made by the board ahead of the current season, the new ones that stick out are the ‘favoured’ approach by a minimum of 3 year contracts for first team players – something which I think I always do anyway. ‘Challenge for silverware’ by the end of 21/22 is interesting of course as I have already won the league title – I’d imagine that they just wish us to continue to challenge for trophies and not to fade away into the abyss in a few years time.
They’d also like us to expand the stadium…something which they control as much as I can request it, but anyway, I received this news item over the summer:
An extra 4000 seats after only 3 months is a nice return and should help with our finances next season.
Now when it comes to the players of the season, there really is only one player worth talking about. Calvin Stengs. 49 games, 17 goals, 21 assists. The guy was a monster. Ever present, top scorer and assist maker notching 10 man of the matches awards too. I was gutted for him when he failed to make the Dutch squad for their Euro 2020 campaign.
The other player whose progression pleased me this season was one of the players I promoted from the u19s prior to the season starting. Mr Goldmine to me or Kenzo Goudmijn to you.
Still only 18 and progressing very, very nicely. I’ll definitely be starting him in more games next season.
One of my philosophies is to have 50% of the first team squad full of players brought through the AZ academy by the end of season 5, an ambitious target but one I hope will see me prioritise bringing through graduates over heavy recruitment. Here’s a snapshot at how the kids have developed this season.
Some cracking progress bars showing vast improvement in the majority of our high potential players. I’ve picked out the top 3 for you to peruse as they excite me the most.
All only 16 and all of which I’m tempted to give a bit of game time next season, especially van Brederode as a potential backup to Boadu.
If we look back to Part 1 of AZ & Ed I set myself a number of philosophies/objectives I wanted to abide by. So 1 season down let’s see how we’re faring; I won’t look at them all as some will need another season to give a more rounded answer.
- Compete to the latter stages of the Europa League (Seasons 1 & 2)
- Maintain a high standard of facilities
- Make full advantage of scouting/facilties
- Employ the best staff
I hadn’t mentioned our Europa League escapades yet. I really enjoyed this competition and the challenges it brought, a variety of teams and formations as we battled with fitness and rotation.
We navigated the group stage with ease in the end qualifying 2nd behind Roma but it was the knockouts that gave me the best moments of the save to date. A thrilling home win v Sporting followed by a nervewracking away win. To then follow that up with a tie v Dortmund…3-2 down after the home leg and was content to be defeated by the bigger and better club. But we would not be moved as some key tactical tweaks for the second leg saw us notch the result of the season in Westfalenstadion with a fantastic 2-0 away win with Stengs bagging a 90th minute winner that sent me into raptures at home in the dining room. One of the wonderful FM moments.
Point 3 and scouting/facilities – my scouts have been busy and I’m content with the one purchase I’ve made to date – I have a number of players on my shortlist and I think this coming summer will be a test of who my scouts have identified as I brace myself for incoming bids. Facilities-wise however the board have committed to improving all our facilities both during the season and at the end of the season – which is fantastic.
As for staff, I still lag a little behind after the first season however a number of staff have their contracts expire this July so I’ll be looking to bringing in a higher calibre of staff with positive personalities.
I move now into the transfer window and…I’m scared/excited for what it’ll bring. I’ll see you again when we’ve navigated through to the other side.