As Ronnie powers through the seasons as manager of Uruguay I’ve just completed my 6th season of the challenge at Arsenal, and an excellent season it was. It wasn’t quite the quadruple we were going for in January, as my overconfidence saw us dumped out of the FA Cup 4-3 by West Brom in a replay. However, we did win the league title, League Cup and Europa League to complete an impressive treble.
English Premier League
Manchester United had won the title in each of the previous 5 seasons of the save and they would prove to be our closest challengers this time. We went top after matchday 16 and only dropped off the summit once before the end of the season but it was much closer than that suggests. With 3 games to go we held a 6 point advantage over United but a 2-1 away defeat to West Ham narrowed that to 3. Ourselves and United both won our penultimate games which meant it would go down to the last day.
United were away to Chelsea, we were away to Burnley. 3 points separated us but United had a better goal difference so a victory for them and a defeat for us would send the trophy to Old Trafford for a 6th successive season. The helicopter was on stand by. Burnley are managed by Alan Pardew who had a few choice words to say about me in the press. Normally I stay out of these things but Alan Pardew is a prick (have you heard the chicken story?) so I got right in about him, which only served to up the tension and a few of my players didn’t like that. Anyway the Ox scored after 15 minutes to settle the nerves but Andre Gray equalised 10 minutes later. United were winning comfortably at the Bridge and it was as tense as fuck. Barely any highlights in the 2nd half then Andre Gray went one-on-one late in the game. My big money signing John van Heulen was up to the task and denied him. The title was ours by a single point. Get that right up you Pardiola.
We finished the season with 88 points, a total that would only have been good enough for 3rd the previous season, and 88 goals, the most in the 6 seasons of the save. The Ox would be named Writers and Players Player of the Year.
Generally the cups were pretty kind to us. We won the League Cup easily beating Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 in the final. The only Premier League clubs we played in the whole run were Leeds (who were relegated) and Leicester so the draw was definitely kind to us.
As mentioned we got put out the FA Cup by West Brom, who were also one of only 4 teams to beat us in the league, but we should’ve pumped them at the Emirates as we dominated the game. Oh well, that’s football, I suppose.
The Europa League was pretty straight forward from the quarter finals onward. In the 1st knockout round we drew Schalke. a 3-3 draw in Gelsenkirchen was followed up by a close 1-0 home win in the one tie we probably didn’t deserve to win. In the next round we drew Tottenham in the tie of the round. Spurs were slight favourites to go through but we won home (2-0) and away (2-1) to advance.
A lucky draw in the quarters meant we would face Anderlecht and the were dispatched 7-2 on aggregate. The semi final line up was ourselves, Inter Milan, current Champions League holders Monaco and Feyenoord. Yep, we got Feyenoord as our lucky cup draws continued. 6-0 aggregate victory put us in the final against Monaco. Interestingly the final would be played at Ibrox. Monaco were big favourites so much so that my team talk was all that “No one expects you to win lads so give it your best” shit. I expected us to win. And win we did. 6-0. Youngster Andrew Smith scored 4 as we absolutely slaughtered them. Gives us hope for the UCL next season.
I don’t really have much work to do for next season. Alexis Sanchez is leaving to join Monaco (regretting that now?) but youngster Mathias Simoncelli spent last season on loan at Villarreal and ended up top scorer in Spain (at Villarreal!) so I think he deserves a chance. Mesut Ozil wants to move back to Germany but, again, youngsters John Moore and Alex Kalisse (mother of dragons) were excellent when called on this season so can be given more game time if he goes. Adrien Silva also wants to move back home to France (even though he’s Portuguese, go figure) so a ball winning DMC might be the one position I need a first team regular as Conor Ashton looks brilliant but is still only 18. Other than that a back-up RB would be a shout as Hector Bellerin is the only recognised RB we have and he appears to be quite injury prone.
I’ve also had to deal with a lot of contract renewals. At Lazio and Siena I had to negotiate the shit out of contracts. Constantly trying to reduce wages, agents fees and loyalty bonuses and refusing to give yearly wage increases or percentages of future sales. But when you have a transfer kitty of £140m and and weekly wage budget of £3.4m you don’t really give two fucks about that stuff. Let them eat cake. Or sniff cocaine. Or have whatever the fuck they want.
Club & Me
The board have now allowed me to study for my Continental Pro Licence and that’ll be complete at the end of season 7. I have a 3.5 star reputation and my stats are looking good although I still have a 1 for ‘Working With Youngsters’, ‘Adaptability’ and ‘Level of Discipline’. No idea how I’m supposed to improve them.
My only worries at Arsenal are my transfer dealings and club issues. Sanchez is, obviously, definitely leaving and Ozil wants to move to Bayern if they make an offer. Both are club icons so the fans are going to be raging if they both go. Laurent Koscielny is also a club icon and I’ve had to give him another contract at the age of 36, even though he won’t play, as I think losing all 3 would leave some fans suicidal. The club also want me to play possession football which I don’t do. My tactic, which works for me so I’m not changing, is very attacking (another club philosophy) but we don’t necessarily have 60% possession in matches and the board are currently disappointed with this. If I get offered a new contract hopefully I’ll be able to negotiate this out.