The winter window opens and with us still very much in the hunt for a domestic double, we needed to look at the squad and find some ways of improving the side.
It proved to be a little busier than even i initially imagined but i was able to move on some players that were merely bloating the squad numbers. First of all Panagiotis Vlachodimos was sold to NEC for £200k with the winger barely making it onto the pitch in the 6 months i was here.
Sebastian Leto's contract was expiring and he was unhappy with the game time provided to him so he agreed a pre-contract with Rapid Vienna. They agreed to a £55k buy early fee and the Argentine was off. Olivier Boumal was injured for most of the season and again was looking unlikely to become a starter so we offlaoded him to Sweden where Hacken paid £425k. Finally we sold Portuguese centre back Nuno Reis for £50k to Estoril Praia as again he was 5th choice and never likely to play.
We released 4 hopeless youth prospects who were never going to make it to the 2nd tier let alone here whilst loaning out Staikos and Valmas who both could become squad players in a year or two.
With the squad shrunken i scoured Europe for cheap alternatives to bring into the side. Even though we had £300k in transfer funds and £28k per week under the wage budget we find ourselves £3.5m in the red and losing money fast. This is completely to do with the huge amounts of loans we are repaying at the moment.
Still two new faces have joined that will not break the bank. Gerard Gumbau was in the Barcelona B team and was highly rated by my scouts as being a possible star. His contract was up in 6 months but they were more than happy to let him go early for free. A potential star in this league. It was another Spaniard that joined him as Valencia's Carlos Soler joins on loan for the next 18 months. A very talented player who is mooted to potentially become a wonder kid.
The final new addition to the first team was to promote young Sotiris Pispas to the first team to be the 3rd striker following Leto's sale. He has two goals already from just 4 sub appearances.
A boring 0-0 draw at home saw us get past Levadiakos in the 3rd round which has since led to us being paired with Xanthi in the quarter finals.
The home leg has been played and in a game that saw no highlights at all ended in a 0-0. Still in with a chance but we need to learn to score.
Our games in hand have now been played as we race to the end of the season. An indifferent month as we started poorly with a loss to Panetolikos before salvaging a 2-2 draw with PAOK where Pispas scored a great goal on his debut to get the point.
We then suddenly and with no warning kicked into gear racking up two 4-0 victories followed by a 2-0 win before failing to create a single chance against bottom Veria in another 0-0 draw.
We now have a lead with Olympiacos failing to finish teams off and luckily our strong defence being the key to our success but with the hint of goals we might even be the total package.
Form is good and our defence is on point. I have 4 centre halves all playing well and it is tough to keep them all happy. Rodrigo Meledo was the subject of a bid from Sao Paolo which severely turned his head and has given him the hump. Both Spahic and Thelander have been complaining about game time so i dropped Meledo and have played both. It doesn't seem to matter as we just don't concede goals.
Marcus Berg is on fire with 16 now and i harbour hopes he can get to around 25 for the season which considering his start will be some achievement. Essentially when he looks on fire we score, without him we do look a little toothless at times. Pispas though could be a good young prospect that we can nurture to lead the line in the future with the right training and tutoring.
The big worry right now is finances as sitting in the red does not bode well to having a decent budget to improve this side. We would be lucky to win the title in my first year and we are no where near good enough to compete in the Champions League.
Hopefully people are reading... and if so i would love some kits designed