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Darren – Newcastle’s knitty gritty end of season 2015/16

Hey guys, I hope you all enjoyed the Champions League final. I was hoping for an English win at Wembley, but Barcelona were simply brilliant. The match featured Manchester United’s industry against Barcelona’s flair and United couldn’t handle the pace. This leads me into a very important post, its the end of season number six. During my last post Newcastle were walking it in the league, through to an FA Cup fifth round replay and looking set for the Champions League quarter-final after beating Juventus away.

With the League Cup back in my cabinet alongside a Euro Super Cup and Club World Championship, Newcastle could complete a clean sweep. Will the toon army do it in style like last year matching Barcelona’s flair from last night…or will we have to rely on a sturdy industry type football illustrated by United. Either way, the season is heating up and you’ve joined me at the perfect time. Get a coke, coffee, tea, what ever you drink and enjoy as I bring you the 2016/17 season finale.

Premier League results – March to May

We arrive at the last three months and not much is needed in the league after our outstanding early form. However, I did need to find a way of balancing form with fitness for the other competitions which is shown by Newcastle’s inconsistent form. Rather than discuss each individual result, I want to explain a few injury problems that have brought about some major setbacks. During the end of April I lost Paloschi with a pulled hamstring (3 weeks out), Anconetani with a twisted ankle (3 weeks out), Gaitan with a gashed arm (5 days), Jaap Haan with bruised ribs (7 days), Constantino with a bruised thigh (7 days), Harry Goetz with a pulled hamstring (3 weeks) and Marcelo Santos with a pulled hamstring (3 weeks.) Not to mention Thiago has been out since February and set to miss the whole season with a broken leg.

Now you may be thinking big deal, I’ve had worse. Well its not the length of injuries but the timing. A lot can’t even begin training for three weeks which means they may not be fit for the last few games. If we are to make any finals, I need 100% fit players to give us the best chance, not to mention my form and morale could suffer a major blow. All in all, my players form dropped majorly as a result of these injuries and our free flowing football had been replaced by a rigid kick around the park .:( To summarise, all these players were in the form of their lives before the end of April, but those injuries meant an extended leave from game time and they ALL lost their edge. You can see how these injuries caught up with me during the last two games vs Blackburn and Bolton.

Final Premier League table

Despite a major dip in form, my boys won the league with ease. Not as convincing as last year, but those pesky injuries thwarted our campaign towards the end and have made my job very hard in other competitions.

FA Cup results

I left you last post with a draw at the Eastlands against Manchester City. The fifth round replay was a tight affair, but Paloschi became the difference in a 1-0 win. My sixth round opponents were Everton, but they never matched up to us at Saint James Park. Sanogo carried on his brilliant goal scoring form to hand us the 4-2 victory.

The semi-final brought about some deja vu as my League cup quarter-final opponents, West Ham, popped up in the draw again. The last match was well fought and a tough win, this FA Cup semi-final was no different. The opening exchanges saw Newcastle take the lead, then lose it and go 2-1 behind before Musacchio levelled the playing field all within the first 13 minutes. Then Paloschi popped up to give the toon back their lead before Kakuta made doubly sure and the match finished with a late West Ham goal. 4-3 to Newcastle and I really needed to lye down after that one. My final opponents are Liverpool, but we’ll see that match at the end of my post…just like keeping you in suspense.

Champions League results

First Knockout round vs Juventus

You may remember me leaving the previous post with a 3-1 first leg victory over Juventus at Stadio Delle Alpi. The second leg wasn’t as straight forward. After using a defensive strategy in the hope to soak up some pressure and score on the break, Juventus smashed two first half goals past Mainatti. Feeling a little shocked and worried I switched to a counter strategy, brought on some key players like Dardouri and crossed my fingers. The second half saw my boys go on a rout, Santos and Dardouri scored while Wilshere completed the match with a hat trick. 5-2 on the night and 8-3 on aggregate.

Quarter-final vs At.Madrid

At.Madrid were my quarter-final opponents last season, a tough team to beat but certainly doable. The first leg, at home, went fairly well as Newcastle dominated possession. We just failed to make chances pay and scraped a 1-0 lead. Going into the second leg a bit more confident my boys scored an early goal to settle any nerves. We then conceded an equalizer but struck back straight away. 2-1 on the night and 3-1 on aggregate (exactly the same aggregate score as last year.)

Semi-final vs Barcelona

The team everyone fear, but also the team everyone want to beat. Barcelona may be without Pep Guardiola on my game, but Aguirre has done a fantastic job in his absence. For the first leg away from home, I opted for my 4-5-1 and counter strategy. Using a deep defensive line, narrow width and slow tempo should help nullify Barcelona’s threat and give me chances on the counter. This seemed to work as Barcelona hit a brick wall with every attack. The game finished 2-1 courtesy of a late own goal, the only negative was Paloschi’s pulled hamstring and the striker was to miss the second leg. This didn’t seem to matter though as Newcastle outplayed the Spanish giants. We won 2-0 at Saint James Park to knock out Messi and co, the aggregate score told the full story as we won 4-1.

So far we have won the league title and survived an injury scare to reach both the FA Cup and Champions League finals. With the players dropping form in the last few league games and just getting back to full fitness, a challenge awaits. We’ll start with the FA Cup final against Liverpool.

FA Cup final – Liverpool vs Newcastle

Venue: Wembley

Attendance: 90,000

Starting line up: Mario MainettiSalvatore Pepe, Simone Costantino, Danny Wilson, Peter KaluJack Rodwell, Mondher Dardouri, Luiz HernandezMatias Anconetani, Nicolas GaitanYaya Sanogo

Team talk: For the fans!

Although I had an almost fully fit squad to select from, a lot of the key players were lacking form. Sanogo had gone off the boil over the last two weeks, while Gaitan and Anconetani had played just a few games after their injuries in preparation. Marcelo Santos had just come back from injury and warmed up the bench, but Paloschi will be out for few more days yet. On the other hand, Liverpool started with Torres and Gadi upfront, with Ashley Young and Marin on the wings. A deadly combination, but not one to stop me playing a standard strategy.

Newcastle came flying out of the traps at Wembley, the first goal was scored after just one minute. Rodwell went short with a  free kick to find Hernandez who played a deathly ball between the Liverpool centre backs for Sanogo to slot home. (click here to see video highlights.) A perfect start! The rest of the second half was a different story though as Liverpool started an onslaught. Ashley Young came tearing down the wing time and time again while Torres clipped the woodwork twice. Newcastle were lucky to see the half out with a clean sheet in tact.

Half time score: 0-1

half time team talk: For the fans!

The second half started quietly with neither team wanting to risk their precarious position. Hernandez looked up for the fight today, playing through balls left, right and centre, but Sanogo fluffed a couple of golden opportunities. On the 55th minute Torres made a darting run to catch Young’s through ball, he struck towards goal but Mainetti pulled off a stunning save. Realising a few tired legs I substituted Kakuta for Gaitan and Wilshere for Anconetani on the 67th minute. Both wingers made an instant impact, Kakuta sprinted with the ball past a few players in red before crossing to the far post where Wilshere couldn’t direct the header. My last substitute was made on the 72nd minute as Sanogo made way for Marcelo Santos. While the Spaniard made no impact, the game finished on a lull and Newcastle lifted the FA Cup for a second consecutive season!!

Full time team talk: Congratulations!

Man of the match: Luis Hernandez

Match stats

Video highlights: Click here to watch

Earlier I mentioned the real life Champions League final and how it was Barcelona’s flair against United’s industry. Well my side showed both these qualities today. At times we looked Barcelonaesque….but for the most it was about hard work, organisation and an iron clad defence. Liverpool will feel hard done by, but in a close match I’m glad we came out on top. Let’s hope we could continue this into the Champions League final!

Champions League final – AC Milan vs Newcastle

Venue: Amsterdam ArenA, Amsterdam

Attendance: 51,628

Starting line up: Mario MainettiMicah Richards, Simone Costantino, Danny Wilson, Peter KaluJack Rodwell, Mondher Dardouri, Luiz HernandezMatias Anconetani, Nicolas GaitanYaya Sanogo

Team talk: For the fans!

This match featured almost exactly the same tactics and team selection as the FA Cup final. All that changed was a counter strategy instead of standard and Micah Richards replaced Pepe as I felt like we needed a more experienced head. The big news comes with AC Milan’s team, which looks very good. Although their strikers aren’t prolific, they are hard workers and lethal in the air. In Alexis Sanchez they have a player on form with plenty of pace…he will be tough to watch due to his free role just behind the strikers. Then their midfield three is incredible, my old pal Afellay links up next to Rakitic and Flamini who all have amazing attributes. Before the match I was expecting an easy win, but after examining the team I should be worried.

My pre-match jitters weren’t calmed early on as Alexis Sanchez squandered a chance. AC Milan kept pushing forward with Rakitic the main orchestrator. The playmaker hit a wonderful looping pass to Afellay who skinned Wilson then hit the side netting. It wasn’t until the 29th minute that the deadlock was broken. Milan’s right back Papastathopoulos crossed low to Helmes who chested the ball down and hit it on the half volley into the top corner (click here to see goal.) I couldn’t have wished for a worse start, the main problem seemed to be Alexis Sanchez. In his free attacking role, the Chilean was impossible to mark and pinged the ball around without mercy. This continued until the 40th minute when Newcastle finally found possession. Wilson played a long ball forward to Sanogo who’s first touch was sublime, the striker charged forward muscling past Boyata. Unfortunately Goncalves the Milan keeper read the situation well and smothered the ball at Sanogo’s feet. The half-time whistle blew and I could feel the Champions League falling through my finger tips.

Half time score: 1-0

Half time team talk: I expect more!

Half time tactical strip down: After seeing Sanchez rip through my side, I knew something had to change. So I decided to drop Jack Rodwell back from CM to DMC, this way he’d be matched up against Alexis Sanchez and could hopefully nullify the threat. In addition to the formation I also adjusted my strategy from counter to standard. I also told my players to not only tackle Sanchez hard, but close him and Afellay down. We needed to stop these two before they could work more magic. Below is a screenshot of my formation for the second half…let’s hope it can make a difference.

With my tweaked formation in place, I pressed ‘play’. The second half kicked off and I held my breath, we had to improve for the last 45 minutes and we did just that. On the 49th minute Sanogo ran at Milan’s back four, having a crack from 25 yards out was too ambitious though and the keeper saved with ease. Five minutes later and Gaitan had the ball on the centre circle, he played a looping pass to put Anconetani in, but the Argentine could only hit the side netting. AC Milan came back from this with an attack of their own, Rakitic played Sanchez through who struck first time…but the crossbar saved me again. Newcastle were still missing something, so I made a couple of changes.

62nd minute substitutions: Kakuta on for Gaitan and Wilshere on for Anconetani.

Both substitutions were inspired as the toon army seemed to find an extra pair of legs. Sanogo caught onto Wilshere’s through ball with 15 minutes to go, he skinned Boyata and hit a venomous shot…but the cross bar came to Milan’s rescue. Then there was a goal on the 80th minute, was this what we needed? Or was it game over? A great corner had been whipped in and AC Milan’s Alexis Sanchez had tapped the ball across the line…BUT it was from my corner, that’s right my friends Alexis Sanchez scored an own goal! (Click here to view goal.) Game on with 10 minutes to go!! AC Milan struggled to find their feet after my equalizer and Newcastle started wave after wave of attack. On the 85th minute Kakuta skinned his way to the byline and crossed low, Sanogo threw himself at the ball risking life and limb…and the ball trickled across the line, a brave finish and so late on! (click here to view goal.) That was it, we had come from behind to beat AC Milan and win the Champions League for a second consecutive season!!

Full time team talk: Congratulations!

Man of the match: Yaya Sanogo

Match stats

Video highlights: Watch the match highlights here

Wow that was one hell of match, late goals and super subs made the difference. We have completed the quadruple for a second year running despite our performances been very different from last season. We’re almost their guys, I just need to share a few more things so bare with me…you’ll want to see the last part believe me. :)

I think the squad stats screenshot says more than I could write so here you go. Simply sensational from the entire squad, everyone played their part from Sanogo’s 45 goals to Garcia’s cameo appearances at right back.

Finances – I want £100 million but did I get it?

After all the prize money, sponsorship and TV revenue Newcastle United have….£94.4 million in the bank. An incredible achievement and although this will drop slightly during the off season, I can see it increasing come next season…the reason is coming below my finance report. :)

Tottenham offer £11 million for Nicolas Gaitan

This bid was too good to turn down, Gaitan is now 28 and losing value quick. I signed the Argentine back in 2011 for £3.7 mill from Benfica. The winger has served Newcastle well and leaves for a £7.3 mill profit.

Manchester City offer £50 million for Alberto Paloschi!!!!

That’s right, you haven’t misread and I was shocked myself. Two days after the Champions League final City boss, Flores, came calling for Paloschi and I snapped his hand off. The Italian has been amazing for me since joining back in 2011. He’s scored 91 league goals and cost me £4.9 mill. That’s a gigantic profit of £45 mill!!! Paloschi is amazing and a player I’d usually keep, but due to my Y2G system and the size of that offer, how could I refuse.

Well that is all for 2015/16, its been a real ride and I hope you’ve enjoyed it. Next time we’ll be looking at pre-season where I’m on the hunt for a young right and left winger. Until next time please feel free to comment and thank you for reading.

PS. Don’t go thinking I forgot your profiles Vaibhavc. Click on the names to see their screenshots, unfortunately I couldn’t find David Beckham but Van Der Sar is a GK coach. Ciaran Clark, Wayne Rooney and De Gea. Apologies to MRDNRA as James Forrest isn’t on my game.

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Billy
Billy
10 years ago

Turned out to be a great season then and to get £50m for paloschi was brilliant.
Well done

Martin
10 years ago

Hey Darren,

Absolute brilliant season, i honestly thought that with the injuires you might have struggled but your team came together. Your finances look amazing, and what a profit from the sale of Paloschi, 50m was too good to refuse. I’m sure you’ll be able to find a decent replacement or have you already found/got one?

Again congrats Darren and i’m looking forward to next season.

Sears
10 years ago

Absolutely phenomenal.!! What a remarkable season bud… You won every competition, and your finances will be extremely healthy, especially with the sale of Paloschi. Really looking forward to your pre season update :-D Great work Darren!

Laxeyman
Laxeyman
10 years ago

Great season yet again Darren, and what a profit on Paloschi! £50m seems like a lot, but when you consider Chelsea paid that much for a half fit and past it Torres, then I can see why City would pay so much for a player in his prime. I’m sure you’ll be able to replace him though, and looking forward to your pre season :)

vaibhavc
vaibhavc
10 years ago

Hey Darren
I was so disappointed about yesterday, I am a big Man. United fan and we just got destroyed.
Anyways, you did manage to complete the clean sweep, winning every cup you entered. The transfers will do wonders for your finances. Thanks for the profiles!

Sibo
10 years ago
Reply to  Darren Smith

Frankly, all Barca need to do is get a decent CB for Puyol as he is getting on and a decent GK and CM for when Xavi and Valdes move on and they will have a squad that will probably dominate Europe for many years, as tough as that sounds for some people.

Speaking of which, should Fabregas go to Barca if they make an offer? I say no, because Xavi and Iniesta are too good and dropping Busquets for him would leave them too frail, so he probably wouldn’t play enough to justify his class. What does anyone else think? :D

daniel
daniel
10 years ago
Reply to  Darren Smith

fabregas will go back to barcelona and i would say that xavi will be sold when he does as xavi is 31 now and barcelona have a tremendous youth setup aswell so

Johnny Karp
10 years ago
Reply to  Darren Smith

I can’t see Barcelona selling Xavi, I don’t think that’s going to happen.

Sibo
10 years ago
Reply to  Darren Smith

I do recall a rumour mill on the BBC saying they would pay £85M for Iniesta so it may not be beyond the realms of posibility… but then again this is the same rumour mill that reckons there will be a three way bidding war between City and the two Milan teams for C. Ronaldo at a price of aprox. £150M! :D

Sibo
10 years ago

Well done Darren!

You did it in the end, brilliant! I am glad you have won all 7 trophies this year, now you just need to get a national job and do the clean sweep and you will have won every trophy you can with one club and one country!

The Paloschi deal was insane, I don’t think anyone would have refused that but your finances will be amazing by the time you reach next season! :D

By the way, could you post Fraser Fyvie’s profile if you can? I would really like to see him fully developed! :D

Well done and good luck in pre-season Darren! :D

MRDNRA
MRDNRA
10 years ago

Well done on winning everything you could again, despite those injuries. Huge offer for Paloschi too, you could easily sign a replacement for him (assuming you could find one good enough) for less than that!

CsAtlantis
10 years ago
Reply to  MRDNRA

MRDNRA, if you’re still interested I have Forrest’s profile here: http://i1086.photobucket.com/albums/j444/CsAtlantis/JamesForrestProfile_Attributes.png

Johnny Karp
10 years ago

Brilliant season, probably the best campaign to date. Well done but why, why did you sell him? :) Just kidding, I understand why. Is Marcelo Santos the most likely to fill in the gap?

Kevin
10 years ago

Hi Darren
Truely a fantastic season again and selling Paloschi was the right thing to do in my humble opinion. I’m sure you will spot another gem to replace him. Great job in closing in on your financial objectives!

Matt Clark
10 years ago

Brilliant season darren, grat deal for Palloschi aswell good luck with next season (not that you need it) do you think you could show jonjo shelvey and Sergio canales’ profiles

Richard
Richard
10 years ago

Hi Darren, congratulations on what is a brilliant accomplishment!! A truly magnificent achievement indeed!

I have a question though, how successful do you think the Y2G system is in the lower leagues? Although an excellent concept, it is very difficult to implement such a system in the lower reaches of the football league and still maintain on-field success… I certainly have not achieved this yet anyhow!!!

Congratulations again!!

vikingmarius
10 years ago

Amazing season Darren Sanogo is an absolute monster, with him and Hernandez there is no need for Paloschi and 50 million is an extremely generous offer and you would be mad not to accept it, good luck building on this great squad

Ana Garcia
10 years ago

Great season, I have to agree with other comments about Sanogo just an amazing strike rate.

I really like the way you always plan ahead, and well done on getting £51 million! That really helped your finances and you should be able to push past a £100 million depending on how much spend in the next transfer window.

Congrats and good luck!! :)

CsAtlantis
10 years ago

94 million pounds in the bank, and Gaitan and Paloschi sold for 62 million (I presume the Paloschi fee will be in installments :P) that means a potential 156 million pounds bank balance, what will you do with the money though

Good wins in the FA Cup final and especially Champions League final(where clear cut chances were non-existent it seems)

Looking forward to see your new wingers next season (Argentinian or perhaps talent from somewhere else?)

Lye
Lye
10 years ago

Hi Darren,

Well done yet again. Congratulations on winning all competition second year in a row. 50 million for Paloschi is a good deal. You commented you won’t be bringing any replacement. What is your target for your finances? I wish you don’t leave too much money for your chairman. They won’t be sharing with you :)

Timmy
Timmy
10 years ago

You did it(again!)
your finance is insane,maybe you should share it in another website
and what role you give to Sanogo,already try Target Man but i play with two stiker(Dzeko-Paloschi)maybe will try Poacher
Good Luck!

Timmy
Timmy
10 years ago
Reply to  Darren Smith

yeah,like Daniel said,im worried if Paloschi come back haunt you
ps:are you going to make another story
ps*:just found regen named……Darren Smith

Timmy
Timmy
10 years ago
Reply to  Darren Smith

No,he is great,future leading stars for EPL!(and the scout who scouted him have 20/20 on his jugding CA and PA)
he is Scotland,and 17 yrs old :)

Daniel
Daniel
10 years ago

Great season, hope Paloschi doesn’t haunt you! Cracking amount of money, lets hope he ends up like torres, haha. Well, Amazing post, Just need to replace the players that left, then your squad is perfect(again)!

Daniel

Paul Meeks
10 years ago

Congrats Darren! A great read as ever. I look forward to seeing who you splash all that lovely cash on for next season, maybe not all of it eh? ;-)

lee
lee
10 years ago

hey wassup darren is this 11.2 or 11.3??

Johnny Karp
10 years ago
Reply to  lee

Darren is away for a week but I can certify that he’s playing on 11.3. I have already answered to your comment on the other post even if you posted it with a different name.

Johnny Karp
10 years ago
Reply to  Darren Smith

So far so good, just a small leap to Greece and you’re all set! :)

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