After some successful football in the first months as manager at Malaga we reached the winter break on a 3rd place. After a two-week break, it took us to play against Villareal in the 5th round of the Spanish Cup (after beating Valladolid one round earlier). Unluckily we lost the game on penalties, after we had dominated them in the second leg.
So, for the next 4 month we could focus on the league only. After three victories in a row during January, we conceded the second loss against Sevilla this season. We couldn't even score one single goal against them, disappointing. So, I'll have to wait for the next season. Before the transfer window closed on the 31th of January Atletico Madrid offered a total of £ 23.5M for right back Roberto Rosales, an offer I could not reject. Pablo Formals did leave Malaga to join OM for £10M and Ochoa went to England to play for West Brown for a fee around two million. Besides Rosales all players weren't happy with their first team appearances, so I was not unhappy for receiving such big offers for them.
With the sales, we managed to make a total of over £40,000,000 with transfer sales this season, which meant a new club record. To cope with the sales of the first team players we did sign these players:
Kamara was bought to replace Ochoa, Foulquier for Rosales and Ambrose should add some depth in the attacking area. With a pace of 15 and an acceleration of 16, Dimitri Foulquier will add a lot of speed on both wing back position, as he is quite versatile. The performances in the league did not drop at all, after the Sevilla game we lost only 3 games until the end of the season (Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Las Palmas). This allowed us to end the season with 22 wins and 6 draws and 72 points:
The 3rd place in our first La Liga season secured the second participation in the champion cup and meant a new club record on league positions. The former record was a 4th place in the season 2011-2012.
The best performance of the season was the game against Real Madrid at home. Over 28,315 (almost sold out) supporters saw an incredible performance from the Malaga players and especially former Barcelona player Sandro Ramirez. He scored a hattrick (5th, 7th and 46th minute) in the first half time to make sure we secured a huge 3-0 win against the title winners from the Spanish capital. Club based youngster Kuki added two wonderful crosses to support two assists to the wonderful victory:
The performances from Madrid were quite good this season and they've secured the title with a lead of 9 points.
The youth intake, which took place some when in mids of March, has been ok for us. Nothing amazing good (like I had at OL), but I feel the two center backs could make it two the first team in a few years.
After the season 1 was completed, more good news popped in to my inbox: The club decided to buy the stadium and decided to grant my requests to improve the youth recruitment and facilities.
With a high transfer budget (around 40mio), I decided to spend most of the cash on central defenders and strikers. On the CB area, I needed to replace who approached his retirement and decided to replace Bakary Kone, who has not performed good enough the last season. The new signings were Michael Keane for £9.5M (relegation clause), Fabio Cardoso for £2.3M and the extension of Rob Holding's loan deal for another season.
For the midfield, I signed Christian Agudelo from Deportivo Cali as a future Deep Lying Playmaker and was loaned right away to our partner club Cordoba, which allowed him to gain some first team experiences in the Segunda Division:
In the attacking area, we could announce the deals of Maximiliano Romero, Rui Pedro and Louis Schaub. The Austrian was already signed in April as I wanted to have an additional striker fixed as soon as possible, to get rid of some of the loan deal we had at the club now. Rui Pedro was signed on deadline day for a fee of 97k (BARGAIN!) and I was negotiating with Velez more than 6 month to have a reasonable offer accepted for one of the Argentinian wonderkids: £5.25M with a potential increase to £9M.
Regarding manager positions it was quite a busy summer, with new managers at Liverpool, Arsenal and AC Milan for example. The media even made a favorite to the Milan job, but I didn’t even receive an offer. The same happened to Diego Simeone which was already the new Arsenal manager per the Spanish press, but in the end the Gunners decided to go for Rui Vitoria.
After the world cup 2018 which was won by the French national team, like in my last save, there were quite a few jobs available for national management. Surprisingly the argentine Football Federation was impressed by my managerial success so far and offered me a Job.
Knowing the next world cup will be playing in Argentina, after moved away from Qatar, and the possibility to manage two Albicelestes at the same time I did take this offer. (In case you don't know albiceleste means the blue-whites ;))
I am happy to have finally the possibility to manage Football Manager-Hero Paulo Dybala. I had so hard times playing against him, when I was still managing Olympique Lyonnais. The attacking force at Argentina is just incredible and it does get even better with the like of Colidio, who has been signed by Atletico (I was to slow).
I plan on doing a Road to Argentina 2022 - El futbol vuelve a casa series, which I will blog about the success on our way to the world cup.