SEASON REVIEW 22/23


Here we go again! This is the fourth post in my series ‘Turkish Delight’ where I am managing Gençlerbirliği. I’ve now moved over to onthebreak.net which is where I will be posting my content going forward. If you missed the last post where I reviewed the 21/22 campaign then please click here to catch up.

Before I start here is a reminder of the 10 challenges that I want to achieve throughout this save:

  1. Win the Turkish Süper Lig
  2. Win the Turkish Cup
  3. Win a European Trophy
  4. Become the first Turkish side to win the Champions League
  5. Become the best team in Turkey on paper (Media Prediction 1st)
  6. Increase the Süper Lig coefficient so it becomes a top 5 European league
  7. Produce 5 homegrown Turkish Internationals (newgens only)
  8. Turn down an approach from one of the big 3 (Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş)
  9. Have a player I sign or produce become Gençlerbirliği’s record goal scorer (Current record is 72 goals by Andre Kona N’Gole)
  10. To beat those b*stards across the city by 5 goals or more



My first season was fantastic where unexpectantly we won the TFF 1. Lig title. We are now back in the Süper Lig where I feel this great club belongs and the first aim is to stay up. We’ll then look to establish ourselves before looking to top the big 3 and win the title in years to come.

After promotion I was buzzing to get started on strengthening my squad by building on the core we already had. This was until I met with the president and found out how he would be backing me financially….or should I say not backing me? He started by informing me that our training facilities were being downgraded and we didn’t have the money to rectify it.

He then told me that my transfer budget was only going to be £280k, with just under £60k in the wage budget. Brilliant, my squad depth hadn’t been good enough last year but we’d fallen lucky with a lack of injuries. This meant it certainly wasn’t going to be good enough now that we were in a higher league! Despite promotion we were already in the red and projections showed that this was only going to get worse.

To bring this to life as to why it was an issue and not just me acting like a spoilt brat, lets look at how much we would have to spend on player wages, on average, per player. My ideal squad size is 25 players, £60,000 divided by 25 is £2,400 per player. My highest earner was already on 9,000 per week (contract signed before I joined) and my better players were mostly earning between £4k – £6k per week. That calculation doesn’t even factor in the under 19 squad, making things even worse. Anyway it is what it is but it shows how we were really up against it financially.

To make matters worse a large number of key players only had 1 year left on their contract and in order to sign a new deal wanted around the £10k mark. Now I could call them greedy here but really in line with the rest of the division, it was a fair request. So what did I do now?

Transfers – Summer

The answer was, I sold them! I couldn’t offer them new deals they’d accept, I didn’t want to lose them on a free and I needed to generate funds to reinvest in the squad. I had decided to stick with the 4-3-3 DM wide formation that I’d moved to late on in the previous campaign, we needed more strength in depth whilst also adding quality to the 11. We did so much business, the window was like Jim White’s wet dream.

We’ll start off with sales, before the window had opened on July 1st we had already lost one big name in Sandro Lima. He had been one of our better players last season but he was about to turn 32 and £1.2 million was money I simply couldn’t refuse. He actually had 2 years left on his contract but I felt it was the right thing to do and was more than happy for this deal to go through. Three lesser players also left and the eagle eyed amongst you will see the player exchange deal, I’ll come to that shortly.

Once the window was fully open the floodgates opened and everyone was leaving! Star central midfielder Aaron Tshibola left for £2.2m, with only 12 months remaining on his contract I thought we’d done well to command such a high fee however he would be a big miss in that advanced playmaker role. Back up for Tshibola, Aksel Aktaş also moved on along with other first teamers Yacouba Sylla and Barış Alıcı, plus a lot of back up and under 19 players.

The outgoings weren’t done there with a number of players leaving at the expiration of their contract. None of these were players I wanted to keep, it was just players who I’d chosen not to offer a new deal to.

Finally a number of youngsters went out on loan, with a hope of earning a place in the first team squad in the future.

What you’ll have already established is that from all the sales, it meant that a lot of new signings were needed. Our budget had increased but the board had held a large percentage of the profit back so I needed to be smart with my recruitment. I mentioned in my last post that my transfer policy would evolve as the save goes on, I would be sticking with fees only being paid when I feel that I will be able to develop and sell the player on for a higher fee in the future but I’d be making a change in regards to loans. Last season I was allowed one loan with a realistic optional fee but with the lack of money I decided to scrap that and for this season I could make an unlimited number of loan signings but they were only as squad fillers. This meant they could only be made for back up positions when I had no other options.

There were that many signings I won’t go into detail on all of them but I’ll break it down into different sections. There were a couple of big signings, both from Altınordu who for those that don’t know are a side in the second tier who have a Turkish only policy and a great academy for producing young players. Firstly inverted winger Emircan Gürlük joined for an initial £700k that will eventually rise to £750k. He’s fast with great feet, at 18 he’ll go straight into my first team. Secondly striker Enis Destan arrives for £800k, this could eventually rise to £950k and included the exchange of youngster Haluk Seçme who I don’t believe will ever make it. Despite only being 20 he’s a good all round centre forward who will be leading the line as Blessing Eleke‘s loan has come to an end.

Next I’ll cover the other 3 transfers that I paid a fee for. Marko Hanuljak is a Croatian central midfielder who comes in for £82k from Fiorentina. At right back Serbian Marko Živković signs for £71k from Partizan and finally Sakib Aytaç departs division rivals Kasımpaşa for £10k to become our new left back. Following promotion we are allowed more foreign players however due to rule changes this decreases season on season so its important that we don’t become over reliant on foreign talent.

We then move onto the free transfers and there are a lot of them, 7 in total! The one that excites me the most is Tom Lowery, he is a central midfielder from Crewe Alexandra who was part of my CONCACAF Champions League winning side at Columbus Crew on FM21. A couple of other names that may sound familiar are John Bostock and Nathan Holland. A lot of the free signings are just here to really make up the numbers and aren’t part of my long term plans.

At this point I was relatively happy with my business and there had been no need for any loan signings.

Transfers – Winter

Now normally I’d tell you how I’d done in the first half of the season here but instead I’m going to cover the second transfer window and then do the season as a whole. There were a few more players whose contracts were up and either wouldn’t renew or I didn’t want to renew so they left in January. The stand outs to leave were Kazenga LuaLua who had struggled to make the step up following promotion so I cashed in whilst I could and Dmytro Grechyshkin who was my highest earner also left. Dmytro had performed really well but I couldn’t get near his wage demands so it left me with little option.

With the money generated it meant I could sign the man I’d wanted to in the summer but had missed out on. Again it was a youngster from Altınordu but this time the one most well known within the FM Community after how good he’d been on FM21. After meeting Burak İnce‘s £1.1m minimum fee release clause, personal terms were agreed and I got the creative spark I was looking to build my team around. As my goalkeeper had joined Sampdoria, I signed Mali’s number 1 Djigui Diarra on a free. I still had £100k to play with and young Colombian striker Santiago Hoyos signed on the dotted line to provide some competition for Enis Destan. Two back up players arrived on loan but they would both have their deals terminated before the end of the season due to lack of games by their parent club.

Süper Lig

Hopefully you’ve taken a minute to capture your breath after all that transfer activity, Harry Redknapp would be proud. Was the business good enough to keep us up? Yes is the short answer. We were never in a relegation fight but never came close to challenging for Europe either. For the most part we were in 10th place, plodding along without ever having a really good or really bad run. Our form did dip slightly after the turn of the year and by the end of March we were 12th. I decided it was time to change things up, I could see from the data hub that we were good in possession but needed it higher up the pitch. I was also struggling to get the most out of Burak İnce but by moving to 4231 and putting him in the hole our team performances improved and his individual ones did too. The only issue was a few games later he got a knock that would rule him out for the last month and a half of the season. This formation is still a work in progress, I’ll be continuing with it next year and I’ll post a defined view of it at the start of next seasons review. This formation change saw us move up the table and we finished a very creditable 8th. Having been predicted to finish 17th and be relegated we’d really defied the odds, paying money for young players had worked and they would only get better in the future.

The high points:

  • 1-0 away win at champions Fenerbahçe
  • 3-0 home win over Beşiktaş
  • 6-1 away win at Kasımpaşa

The low points:

  • Drawing twice against bottom side Yeni Malatyaspor
  • Drawing twice against second bottom side İstanbulspor (I’m noticing a trend here)
  • Losing 3-2 against third bottom side Antalyaspor

Ziraat Türkiye Kupası (The Turkish Cup)

I don’t really want to talk about this but here it goes….knocked out in the third round (the round we enter at) against a side who were in the bottom half of the division, 2 divisions below us. We had a decent team out to, absolutely battered them on xG (which doesn’t mean anything) but couldn’t score and eventually lost on penalties. This is a competition I am aiming to get my hands on quite early as it could be a good starting point for further success.

Squad Overview

My most consistent player over the course of the season was centre back Arda Kızıldağ, after turning down offers of circa 800k during the first season, he is now worth £4.8-£6.6m, so I’m really glad I didn’t sell. Derby County who have just won League One are interested but I don’t think that’s anything to be too worried about. My second and final shout out goes to Enis Destan who was a machine up front scoring 18 goals in 31 starts putting him second in the race for the golden boot, the best thing is he’s only going to get better. There is slightly more concerning interest in him with Spurs and FC Köln showing an interest. Overall I’m really happy with how the lads have performed, there is still a certain amount of deadwood in the squad so expect more transfers next season but not quite to the same extent as this year.

Youth Intake

Another golden generation? Go on then….

The preview certainly was one to whet the appetite however if I was being really picky I’d have rather have not had goalkeeper as the best position as it was last year too! I’ll have to have a word with my Head of Youth Development and ask him to spread the quality around next year.

Was the preview accurate? It was.

Hakan Konuk looks a superb prospect in goal, even better than Bahadır Temiz from last years intake. With Utku Dinçbudak also coming through, we should be spoilt for choice in years to come with who to play between the sticks. Cafer Bayar looks like an excellent attacking midfielder and potentially heir to the throne of Burak İnce should he ever move onto one of Europe’s big boys. Celal Ceyhan has the potential to be a first team left back and Ümit Kılıç could grow into being a good left sided midfielder yet. Its another fantastic youth intake, long may it continue!

Challenge Progress

ChallengeProgress
Win the Turkish Süper Lig8th place 22/23
Win the Turkish Cup5th round 21/22
Win a European TrophyNot yet qualified for Europe
Become the first Turkish side to win the Champions LeagueNot yet qualified for the Champions League
Become the best team in Turkey on paper (Media Prediction 1st)Predicted 17th 22/23
Increase the Süper Lig coefficient so it becomes a top 5 European leagueStarted 13th, currently 11th
Produce 5 homegrown Turkish Internationals (newgens only)Önder Koç has been capped at u19 level and Taha Cengiz Mankır has been capped at u18 level.
Turn down an approach from one of the big 3 (Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş)No job approaches from anyone.
Have a player I sign or produce become Gençlerbirliği’s record goal scorer (Current record is 72 goals by Andre Kona N’Gole)Enis Destan currently on 18 goals
To beat those b*stards across the city by 5 goals or more4-1 win away 21/22 best effort so far. Ankaragücü are still in the second tier after losing the playoff final to Altınordu

Thanks for taking the time to read another of my posts, I’ll be back soon with a review of my third season in charge. Will the finances have improved and can we build on that 8th place finish?

Cheers,

The Last Throw.

One thought on “SEASON REVIEW 22/23

  1. Pingback: SEASON REVIEW 23/24 | On the Break

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