At the end of last season, finishing 9th was about what we deserved.
I’d got a few plans to start a rebuild of the side, and at the end of my last post, I’d indicated a few players that may move on, and those coming into replace them.
Shortly after the last match of the season, two players handed transfer requests in, saying they didn’t feel they could achieve what they wanted at Forest. These were Michael Hefele, and Claudio Yacob.
Yacob left to join newly promoted Blackburn, for £2m (rising to £2.5), and, strangely, Hefele left for Sunderland for £600k.
The fee for Hefele was spent almost immediately, buying 18 year old American (with Haitian and Spanish nationality), Konrad de la Fuente from Barcelona. The young winger can play on either flank, and will provide a decent rotation option.
Interest also came for Zach Clough. The attacking midfielder had spent the season on loan at Rochdale, and I couldn’t see a way into the side for him. Hull parted with £425k to take him.
The last incoming deal before the transfer window, would work out to be my biggest spend, with, Barcelona B youngster, Alex Collado, joining for £2.2m, on the back of an excellent campaign for the Spanish U20 in the World Cup. He’d be a rotation option with Xadas and Ryan Yates in the middle, with Ben Osborn dropping back to play in front of the back 4.
Next up were a couple of outgoings. Sigurd Gronli had had a steady season in the side, and attracted some interest at the back end of it. He was the subject of some speculation for a move to Celtic, which he came out and said he wanted. The Scottish Champions were persuaded to part with £1m and a healthy sell on for him, which saw us effectively double our money in less than 12 months (including wages).
After that, Joe Lolley was the subject of a bid from Middlesbrough, and again, we played a bit of hardball with them, working up to £4m, with an addon after 50 appearances, and a sell on. It wasn’t as much as I wanted, but, would mean that the wage bill would drop slightly.
When the transfer window opened on the 1st July, a new left fullback joined, with the aim of pushing Reguilón for his place. Portuguese U21 international, Yuri Ribeiro was scouted several times over the last months of the season, as he plied his trade at Benficas B team, and a fee of £700k saw him swap Lisbon for Nottingham.
That was the conclusion of the incomings for Forest, unless a particularly interesting signing became available (I’ve got a list, but, my positions don’t need topping up at the moment).
Several more outgoings came, with Owen Gallacher (Alloa, Free), Jorge Grant (Portsmouth, £500k), Luke Steele (Scunthorpe, £45k), Tendayi Darikwa (Hull, £525k), Hilal Soudani (Huesca, £350k), Apostolos Vellios (Vancouver, £875k) and Costel Pantilimon (Ufa, £1m) departing, bringing the total incoming transfer fees to £11m, with only £6.25m being spent.
On top of that, the wage bill of £267k, was nearly £200k per week less than the budget we were given. This would hopefully give us a bit of wiggle room for transfers should we need it in January.
All that was left was to start the first game of the season, against Preston.
Several new signings in the squad, saw the following team line up.
GK – Tiago Silva
RB – Costinha
CB – Matej Chalus
CB – Alex Milosevic (C)
LB – Sergio Reguilón
DM – Ben Osborn
LCM – Xadas
RCM – Ryan Yates
RW – Alex Mighten
LW – Joao Carvalho
CF – Oli Shaw
Despite the pre season workout for us being good, and every player getting plenty of match time, it took until the 27th minute for a breakthrough to come. Alex Mighten, who, after Lolleys departure, found himself the first choice on the right side, got open in the box, and found himself on the end of a Costinha chip into the box from the right flank.
This set the tone, and despite several chances coming our way, it wasn’t until the 80th minute, that the next goal came, one, which I think, may rank as one of the best goals I’ve ever seen on Football Manager.
31 passes. 90 seconds of possession. 10 players touching the ball. All for Alex Mighten to score his 2nd of the game at the back post.
It ended 2-0, and allowed us to see how the new players would fit into our system.