SS Lazio – A Season to Remember

After a very good first half of the season the pressure was on us to continue it into the new year. At the last update we were sitting 4th, 4 points behind leaders Inter Milan, and were in the knockout stages of the Europa League and our Italian Cup campaign was just about to start. It would prove to be a memorable season.

Serie A

From the last update we would win 10 of our next 12 games to put us firmly in the title hunt. We were still conceding regularly but now we were absolutely banging them in, scoring 3 or more in 7 of those 12 matches. Our run came to an end against Napoli, who I have a shocking record against, who won courtesy of a Divock Origi double, who ALWAYS scores against me. We then beat Novara 3-0 which put us 2 points ahead of Juventus. At this point it was really down to the two of us with 6 games left. Who was I playing next? Yep The Old Lady.

The mercurial Paddy Roberts scored early in the 2nd half and despite pressure from Juve a late Lamin goal gave us a deserved 2-0 win. 5 points ahead with 5 to play. A tense 1-0 away win to Udinese was followed up with us throwing away a 2 goal lead to draw at home to Inter. Chievo were swatted away while Juve and Inter were playing out their own 2-2 draw. 2 games to go, we were 5 points ahead. It was ours to throw away. And that’s what we tried to do. We had a home game against 14th placed Sassuolo knowing a win seals it. We were horrible and got pumped 3-1. However, Juventus were held to a 0-0 draw by Chievo and for the first time since 2000 Lazio were champions! 21 long years of hurt were over.

But our season wasn’t finished.

SA Fix

sa

Europa League

Our first post-Christmas tie was against Marseille and we sneaked through on away goals. This set us up for a tie against German giants Bayern Munich. The 2nd knockout round had been our target so I was expecting much. At home in the first leg we recorded a magnificent 4-2 victory before drawing 3-3 in Bavaria to advance 7-5 on aggregrate (I only found out recently that the German for Bavaria is Bayern, go figure).

Back to France for the quarter finals and home (2-1) and away (3-2) victories over Olympique Lyonnais put us in the semi-finals. Again we would beat Athletic Bilbao home (3-1) and away (4-2) to set up a final against Tottenham Hotspur. We had now played 18 games in the Europa League and not been beaten once. We had scored 51 goals, a competition record, and been involved in some titanic ties. We were confident.

But Spurs were red hot favourites. Al Hassan Lamin gave us the lead in the 20th minute but Spurs equalised right after half time with a ridiculous goal from about a million yards. There were very few highlights after that and I was holding off making any subs before extra-time. Then, in the 92nd minute, wee Paddy picked the ball up wide on the right. Our right back was also committed up field and I was praying the wee man wouldn’t lose it. He jinked past one, Kyle Walker tried to clean him out but he rode the challenge, it looked like he had overran it but managed to hook a cross in from the byline, as Hugo Lloris came to collect Ciro Immobile nicked in at the near post to knock in a last minute winner. Is there any better way to win a trophy? It was Immobile’s 36th goal of the season and Roberts 26th assist, both club records.

But our season wasn’t finished.

EL Fix

Italian Cup

Napoli beat us 1-0 in the final. Cunts.

IC Fix

Actually, what is worth noting is that in the quarter finals of the Italian Cup we beat AC Milan 8-1. I don’t think in all my years of playing FM I’ve ever beaten a proper big club by such a margin. Certainly not without 2 or 3 red cards to help. A proper pumping.

Also nice to see Siena holding their own in Serie A, this season they qualified for the Europa League.

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Rome Wasn’t Built In A Day

So I have reached the winter break in my first full season at Lazio and, so far, everything is going pretty well. We won our Europa League with ease, winning all 6 games, and currently lie 4th in Serie A. Most of the summer signings have adapted well and the board are ‘very pleased’ with my leadership.

Serie A

The league campaign started brilliantly as we went unbeaten for the first 6 games of the season. This included a 2-0 away win over Roma in the della Capitale Derby thanks to goals from Alessandro Bastoni and Sebastian Perez. Our first defeat came away to AC Milan in matchday 7 although we bounced back with a good 2-1 win over Sampdoria. We have so far lost 5 games in the league but managed to win the next match each time which shows good squad mentality.

Last season we finished 7th behind champions Napoli, AC Milan, Internazionale, Juventus, Roma and Bologna and so far we have lost to 4 of them (Entella inflicted the other defeat). Bologna and Roma we beat, however, we have only played Napoli at home in the first half of the season so I’m hopeful that we can improve that record in the second half of the season. Both Juve and Inter pumped us and we were lucky to get away with 4-1 and 3-1 defeats, respectfully.

We definitely seem to have sorted out our goal-scoring problems from last season, as we are the top goalscorers in the division, but I’m still a bit concerned about our defending. We have the joint 11th best record in the division having conceded 22 in 17 matches. Given the potential quality of our defenders I’m putting this down to them not having reached this potential yet and that they will get better.

Defence

Wee Paddy Roberts has been the stand out performer for us. For a winger he’s 3rd top goalscorer in the division, 4th best minutes-per-goal ratio, most key passes, 2nd most MOM awards and highest average rating. He’s been transfer listed by Man City but I just can’t afford him. My best bet is to get him on loan again next season and then hopefully get him on a free when his contract expires.

Serie A schedule

Serie A table

For the rest of the season I think Champions League is a definite possibility. Realistically the league is a tough ask but with only 5 points separating the top 6 who knows. I suspect Napoli and Juventus will pull away and leave the rest of us to battle it out for the two remaining UCL spots, however, all of the other 5 teams have still to come to the Olimpico (I’ve not played Spezia at all yet so still need to go there) so we’re in a decent position.

Europa League

In the Europa League we were outstanding. Having seen off Austria Vienna and Olimpija of Slovenia in the qualifying rounds we went on to dominate our group. Our first match was away to Schalke where we won 3-1 and never looked back. We proceeded to win all 6 of our group games, scoring 20 goals in the process and conceding only 3. In our final group game I played the kids and 3 of them got on the scoresheet. David Gimenez became the clubs youngest ever goalscorer until Alberto Quadrini beat him to the record 75 minutes later. In the first knockout round we will play Marseille, who are currently 3rd in Ligue 1.

I also noticed that our attendances are considerably higher for the UEL. Our average attendance for the 3 group games was 35,341 whereas our average for Serie A is 23,938. You’d think it’d be the other way around. It would appear that Italian football fans are a weird bunch.

EL group

EL fixtures

Other News

The board have stopped me going for coaching badges so I am currently stuck on a Continental B Licence and, interestingly, I was talked about for the AC Milan job. I decided not to apply for it but it means I am getting mentioned in association with teams who might be able to win the Champions League. With the best will in the world I don’t think Lazio will be capable of winning it. They simply can’t generate the money to compete with the English clubs or Real, Barca, Bayern or PSG. However, we are definitely in with a shout of qualifying this year and I think that’ll be a good boost to my reputation.

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

An incredibly busy summer has come to a close at the Olimpico and, overall, I’m pretty chuffed with the work we have done. Some backroom staff were out of contract so they were replaced but most of the changes came in the playing squad. 33 players left the club and 12 came in, obviously a fair whack of those that left were from the U20 and U18 teams.

I had basically decided that anyone with a potential rating of less than 3.5 stars was surplus to requirements and that included a few ageing high profile stars. All in all the sales netted us a cool £19.25m so I had a bit of money to play with. So what to do with all that mullah?

Well, trying to buy established players is an expensive business. Ridiculously expensive. However, as a Serie A club I can’t just buy loads of promising youngsters and blood them, like I did with Siena. The compromise, I think, is players aged about 20-22 with some first-team football experience and, ideally, U21 caps for their country. So I went raking about the international U21 squads. From that I managed to find centre halves Edoardo Bianchi (21 years old) and Filippo Romagna (23) both Italian U21 internationals. This would, hopefully, also help my porous defence. My scouts unearthed Diogo (21), another centre half and Brazilian U20 international and then I made the signing of the summer.

I’d lost my back up keeper and my number 1 keeper was pretty shite anyway. I’d had the scouts working on the goalkeeping situation for most of the second half of last season so I had 4 or 5 options to choose from. My top target was Christian Fruchtl (20). He was back up to Manuel Neuer at Bayern but was classed as a wonderkid so I thought I had no chance. Valued at about £300k I just threw in a bid of £1.8m, as suggested by my scouts, expecting it to be rejected but it was immediately accapted with no negotiation. Fucking bonza. I imagine I’ll keep him for 1 season but he’ll be sold for a fortune.

I also brought in my old favourite Alessandro Bastoni (21) who I had had at Siena for 3 years, on loan from Chelsea. He has been called up to the full Italy squad for the first time during the first international break. Also on loan arrived Kenji-Van Boto, 24 year-old left back valued at £9.25m, and Celtic hero Patrick Roberts, who I’m hoping will add a spark of creativity to the team.

To round off the first team squad I promoted Godfred Donsah and Aleix Garcia who had been out on loan last season. Given the state of the squad when I took over I’ve no idea why they were allowed to go out on loan in the first place. Alongside the young players I blooded last season I have a decent looking squad although it is still a bit young with an average age of just 23, the lowest in Serie A.

Squad

Surprisingly Lazio only sold about 4500 season tickets. This seems ridiculously low. Our average attendance last season was a little under 20k, in a stadium with a capacity of 87,409 (which differs from Wikipedia). Roma, who we share the Olimpico with, averaged 38k. I don’t know a lot about Italian football in real life but I still thought this was pretty low but apparently not:

Gibraltar

Anyway, back on the pitch, we comfortably qualified for the Europa League group stage, the first continental campaign of the challenge, where we drawn alongside Schalke, Basaksehir and Standard Liege. Might struggle to win the group but should qualify. We also started the league campaign with a draw (1-1) away to Palermo and a thumping home victory over Fiorentina (4-0). Already Fruchtl and Roberts look like inspired signings and James Fofana, who I played at centre-back for the 2nd half of last season, has adapted to his new role as first choice right-back seamlessly. All in all a good start but we haven’t really been challenged yet. The board expect Europa League qualification and the media predicts us to finish 6th.

Schedule

Table

The Eternal City

So I made it to the summer with Lazio and I didn’t post an update because, to be honest, fuck all happened. When I took over we were in 15th place and the board expected a mid-table finish. During the winter transfer window I tried to get players in but any player I thought was of the required standard was completely over valued by the selling club, so there were no new arrivals.

Instead we had some good young players I promoted (some of whom I had to cancel their existing loan deals) including Bezzy, back from Siena, defenders James Fofana and Andrea Villa and midfielders Davide Paglia and Al Hassan Lamin. Fofana and Bezzy played most of the remainder of the season and Bezzy won the clubs Young Player of the Year award.

In the league our record under me read:

P22 W9 D7 W6

Which was enough to finish 7th, which the board was delighted with as it meant we qualified for the Europa League. However, in a 38 game season we conceded 58 goals and scored only 37 so there is going to be big changes in the summer. We were worryingly short in defence and injuries to only 2 players would’ve meant playing players out of position. I think our strikers are good enough but we need more quality in the wide positions.

Pleasingly the board have continued to allow me to take coaching courses and I’m currently studying for a Continental B Licence. I’ll update after the transfer window closes and I’ve done some business.Table

Schedule

“It means nothing to me…”

After the excellent results against the Milan clubs we were brought back down to Earth with a thud. Successive defeats against Entella (H), 2-0, and Atalanta (A), 1-0, did not set us up well for our big derby against Fiorentina. However, they were struggling in the league so we were optimistic. La Viola took an early lead but goals in each half from Samou Sissoko gave us a well deserved 2-1 win. It was also a result that saw the Fiorentina manager sacked and a defeat for Lazio on the same day also saw their manager relieved of his position.

These were proper big clubs, both with 4 star reputations, but in a proper save I wouldn’t have considered leaving The Millers. However, this isn’t a proper save. the point of this is to be the first to win the Champions League and much as though I’ve became found of Siena I feel I’ll have more chance of challenging for trophies at a bigger club. So I looked at both jobs and decided to apply for the Lazio job.

As my application was reviewed we won in the Italian Cup 4th Qualifying Round against Benevento and earned a very credible 0-0 draw with Roma and then, despite my relatively poor reputation, Lazio invited me for an interview. After that we drew 1-1 at home to Chievo and Fiorentina invited me for an interview, even though I hadn’t applied. No harm in going along I thought.

The Chievo game would turn out to be my last for The Millers. The day after the Fiorentina interview Lazio offered me the position of manager. It was too good to turn down and I left Siena with a heavy heart.

My first impression of Lazio is that their squad is fucking massive and, frankly, not good enough. Not one player is a potential 5 star player although they do have 4 or 5 decent prospects in their youth squads, unfortunately they are all out on loan. I’ll probably bring in some staff but I’ve been given a wage budget of £1.2m and a transfer budget of £9m to turn things around. Considering I haven’t spent any money on a player yet that’s nice to have. I’ll get stuck in and do a more detailed update soon.

UPDATE: My first game will be against Siena