Welcome back! If you’re not up-to-date with the series, you can click here to catch up.
Before we get going I want to thank @okay-fm for putting together our new kits for the 2023/2024 season. The away and third 3D-kits look amazing in the match engine.
Last season was unexpected and I still can’t believe we managed to end up where we did in our first Serie A season. Even after our great success, the board expects us to finish mid-table. I’m confident that we can secure one of the European places. Which one specifically? Depends on how well we do in the Champions League.
Let’s take a look at the first half of the 2023/2024 season. Transfers, first team, and performances.
Summer Transfer Window
We’ve had a lot of movement of players in these last few transfer windows. This summer was a lot of the same.
Twelve players left the club for a combined £22.6m. First-team: César Falletti (£7.5m), Marco Tumminello (£3.3m), Jannes Wieckhoff (£3.1m), Matija Boben (£600k), and Antony Iannarilli (£160k). The rest of the players were U20 or players were that were out on loan.
Eight players came in this summer for a total of £4.4m. I’ll be honest with y’all, I broke my “rules.” I signed two players outside out of transfer policy. I’m sorry, the temptation was real 😂 . Especially when you have a player like Lorenzo Lucca available for £2.2m and a reliable midfielder like, Illias Koutsoupias available for free. We’ve also planned ahead and brought a couple of young Chileans.
Goalkeeper: Ludovico Gelmi (free) joins from Atalanta. He will be our cup goalkeeper and backup just incase Titas wants to leave.
Defenders: Rodrigo Guth (free) joins from Atalanta. Lorenzo Bernasconi (£1m) joins from Atalanta, he will spend the rest of the season on loan at Cremonese.
Midfielders: Ilias Koutsoupias (free) joins from Entella. Gonzalo Tapia (£200k) joins from Universidad Católica after being transfer listed.
Forwards: Lorenzo Lucca (£2.2m) joins from Pisa after being transfer listed.
Federico Salas (free) joins from Argentinian second division club, Estudiantes (RC). Gerardo González (free) joins from Argentinian club, Racing Club.
Last season we were able to finally land an affiliate in Spain. Daniel Gutierrez, Gonzalo Tapia, Fernando Salas, and Gerardo González will all be spending two years in Spain so they’re able to gain their EU eligible.
We will have a total of 21 players in the first-team to pick from including the three new signings and two U20 players that I’ve promoted, Alassane Sidibe & Francesco Toffanin. We have a long season ahead so there are several players from the U20 team that will be relied upon when needed.
Like last season, we have the best coaching staff in the league. We’ve upgraded in a few roles, Ruud van Nistelrooij joins as my assistant manager, Robin van Persie as a first-team coach, and Edwin van der Sar as a first-team goalkeeping coach. We’ve also upgraded our scouting team, although it’s not the best by a mile. Ex-Napoli manager, Luciano Spalletti joins a scout after retiring from managing.
Esteban Diaz joins as our new Head of Youth Development. He’s now the third Chilean staff member to join the youth team setup. I’m hoping this will have a ripple effect in our youth intakes.
This season, we were drawn against Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund and Zenit. I knew that I have little-to-no-chance in the matches against City or Dortmund, so my focus was to make sure that I beat Zenit twice to us to be able to qualify for the Europa League.
As expected, We lost to Dortmund (1-3) in the first match. Our visit to Russia was an eventful one, we took the three points (2-3) after a 90+1 minute goal from Antonio Palumbo. Next up was the double header against City. The trip to Manchester went as expected, we got battered (5-2), exactly what happens when you have a team that includes Mbappé, João Félix, and Haaland.
The return leg was a bit different as Phil Foden was sent off after 30 minutes and were able to salvage a point in a (2-2) draw. Dortmund proved once again that we maybe not be ready for the Champions League, the Black & Yellow were move clinical and finished the match (5-2). The last match of the group stages against Zenit was a mirror of the first leg, Finn Becker scored in the 90+3 minute to take us to the Europa League.
I was hoping to get a decent draw in the Europa League first round but we’ve been drawn against Massimiliano Allegri’s Tottenham. Let’s see if we can beat the odds to push a bit further into the tournament.
We began the season in sensational form by winning the first eight league matches. Some highlights were against Sassuolo (4-0), Bologna (2-0), and (Atalanta (3-0). In those eight matches, we outscored our opponents 19 goals to their 4. Lorenzo Lucca bagged 8, Alfredo Donnarumma with 4, and Big Ben Diaz with 3.
Our form slowed down a bit, we would have the toughest run of games as we would face three of the top six teams in the league and top it off, we would have to use a heavily rotate the starting eleven due to the Champions League. We would draw 4 in 5 matches, Lazio (2-2), Roma (0-0), Juventus (2-2), and Torino (1-1). Winning one those five matches at home against Roma (2-1). (Odd, I know, we played Roma in back-to-back matches)
We finished the first half of the season on a high with three more wins. Lorenzo Lucca helped us beat Milan (3-2) with an 83 minute goal, Antonio Palumbo saved us against Inter (1-2), and lastly, Lucca was the star of the show with 4 goals against bottom of the table Cittadella (5-1). After 16 matches played, we find ourselves unbeaten and top of the league by 8 points.
The whole team has been performing above expectations but our three strikers have been on fire. They’ve combined for a total of 37 goals between them in all competitions. Big Ben Diaz – 9 goals, Donnarumma – 9 goals, and Lucca – 19 goals.
Side note – Italy is a confusing one when it comes to awards, as they have seasonal and yearly awards. Anyways, I was awarded 2023 Manager of the Year and Titas Krapikas won 2023 Goalkeeper of the Year.
We head into the winter break top of the league and £63m in the bank. I still can’t believe that we’re unbeaten. This is wild. I’m not sure if we’ll be able to hold on to our position as we have 13 matches across three competitions in the next two months. All we can do is give it our best shot.
In the next post, we will be taking a look at the second half of the season as well anything noteworthy.
As always feel free say “hi” on Twitter or Slack. Hope everyone had a great time during the holidays.