Sorry for taking so long again dudes. There are a few reasons why I didn't do this quicker, the first being I was very much into my own FM save, and then, the freaking Steam Sale made me buy a bunch of games, one of which has had me playing almost non-stop, accumulating 20 gameplay hours in a week or so (Factorio, in case you where wondering). But well, enough excuses, here's my stint.
Trent did a terrific work on the pitch during the first semester, handing the save over with a very comfortable lead in the league, a Final appearance in the League Cup and a respectable Champions League campaign that saw Rangers get within a pair of points of getting into the Second Round, despite not even getting into the Europa League, due to finishing 4th in the group. Off the pitch, well I criticized my fellow manager in a harsh post, something I shouldn't have done, despite not agreeing with some of the transfers he made (again, I apologize @Trent), but overall the team was in great shape, with terrific players for the level of competition and I was eager to manage the fantastic beast Lee Cormack is, again.
I sold two players in the winter window, Sam Nicholson was shipped back to Hearts after just a semester in Glasgow, in a deal quite decent for us, as he cost us £350k and I sold him for £850k (plus £450k on clauses). At the end of the window, Feyenoord came in banging for Kevin Mbabu and despite I didn't want to sell him, a big £8.5M offer was enough to have him shipped to Holland.
I wanted to get a replacement, for Mbabu, as he was a starter, but in the end none of the deals I tried worked out and I decided to get on with Hanley and Adarabioyo as the starters and call back a young lad on loan to be the 4th CB.
To say the League was a walk in the park would be an understatement. I took over with the team 11 points above Hearts and Celtic in 2nd place, and with the squad very much in rhythm. After a couple of draws to start the year, we won 14 of the next 16 games, drawing one and losing one to finish the season with our 4th straight League title, 29 points ahead of Celtic in 2nd place.
We had a good Cup run, but unfortunately couldn't turn the great campaign into a double, losing in the Final against Hibernian in extra time.
Player Performance and Squad Thoughts
We have a great squad, with terrific young players who can make Rangers relevant in European competitions for a long time. We do need help to make the leap though, and also need a bit of depth in certain positions.
At goal, Robbie McRorie is a solid starter who is near his peak, despite being just 23, but should be our main guy for at least the next couple of years. Anthony McArdle is the first backup, a 19 year old academy prospect, who has some potential, but nowhere near McRorie. Gavin Booth was the best player from the youth intake this season a 5 star PA GK who should be our #1 down the road.
In the fullbacks position is where we're most at need I think. Japanese Ippei Kubo is a great left back and barely 20, but asides him, neither backup Mason or right backs Coyle and Balde are good enough to contend for a starting position. A starting right fullback, plus at least one high potential young backup are needed, with the first being a top priority.
In the middle of the defence things are a bit slim, specially after the sales of Davidson and Mbabu. Grant Hanley and Tosin Adarabioyo are solid starters for now, but nothing special, while captain Danny Wilson is past his peak. In the youth teams Daniel Thomson, the 2nd best player in this season's intake, is a 4 star PA player, but is still very raw. For next season, getting Davidson back on loan should help, I'd also keep a look for him if ManU plans on selling him sometime in the future.
We've got some good talent as Centre mids as well. Josh Vela and Lewis Macleod are good starters, unfortunately Vela damaged his achilles tendon at the end of the season and will miss 5 months, hopefully without any long-term consecuences. Derek McDonald is another academy lad who has evolved to be a great player, and was a starter for most of this season. I ended up playing all 3 of them in the middle, in a 4-3-1-2 formation. Stephen Mallan in a good backup even a bit overqualified, which may lead to problems. I think we're good here, even more if we consider that Jack Thomson has developed into an interesting player as well during his loan stints.
Another position of need is the wingers, which I ended up not using, and preferring the midfield talnts we've got. None of the players in the team are starting calibre, with the best of them (potentially at least) being Fabian Benko. Barrie McKay, Jai Quitongo, Stephen Mallan and Jodi Jones are decent backup choices, but none of them, including Benko are a starter for a good European Competition contender. In the youth squad, there is only one decent prospect, so if the next manager wants to play with wingers, there will be some investment needed.
Attacking mids is one of our best position, with two terrific young players in academy lad Neil Miller and Japanese Ryo Hidaka. I gave Miller ample playing time, preferring him over the Japanese due to domestic bias from my end, and Miller played brilliantly, until he broke his foot and missed the last 2 months of the season. Besides them, we've got two amazing young players in our U-20 team, Dominic Patarson (a brilliant steal from Trent) and academy lad Kieran Soutar. It might be interesting to see if re-training this lads could either bring us more centre midfield players or even cover the gap in the Wingers position.
Finally, up top we're pretty much covered as well, with our best player Lee Cormack and Paul Donnelly as his squire, both from our amazing academy. Between both, scored around 50 goals and 20 assists, and playing them together up top was amazing at times. Matthew Knox failed to evolve into the player he was meant to be and is somewhat relegated to a bench role. Paul Smith and Irish Jordan Fraser (my only transfer of the stint, a 17-year old already playing in the U-20 World Cup) are good prospects in the U-20 side, plus Adam Fordyce and Lewis Vaughan who are joining the team when the window opens.
TL;DR: If the next stint was on my watch, this would be my transfers list:
- A starting D (C), hopefully young and with 5 star PA.
- A starting D (R).
- A backup D (RL).
I'd get rid of the wingers in the squad, and play the same 4-3-1-2 or a 4-2-2-2, due to the inmense talent in our midfield corps and centre forwards, both in the squad and the U-20's.
- It was a good stint for me, I had fun and despite having to take over another second semester, I relished it, specially managing Lee Cormack. I think this save still has future, despite the domestic dominance, as Europe has been quite harsh to us.
- There is some money in the bank, with £39M and a £25M to spend.
- Here's the save .
I'm a bit lost with the order, don't really know who's up for it now. @Justin, @Nick, @dalenichol are you keen on taking this again? @Rico, are you good to come back? We've got @Henke in the manager's shortlist as well.