Last time out I revealed that I had moved to a different team and from the title of this chapter you will now know who that team is. I’ve moved to Spain and Atlético de Madrid, after I had resigned at Leverkusen they appointed Nagelsmann who was the Atlético manager leaving a vacancy which I applied for, before accepting the job offer following a successful interview. We are now 3 years deep into this 20 year challenge and have 3 trophies ticked off which puts me in a really good position which I should be able to build on at my new club. If your new to this then please click here to go back to the first post.
In season 1 Atlético finished down in 6th, before a 3rd place finish in 22/23 and finally a 4th placed finish last season, so they’ve done ok but really they are a side who should be in the top 3 every season so its been slightly disappointing. On a more positive note they have won the cup in 2 out of the last 3 seasons but in Europe they’ve had no decent performances of note. The Finances are ok but not as strong as you’d expect, this is reflected by the fact I’ve only been given £11.5m to spend. The ground and the training facilities are fantastic, right up there with the best in the world. The only philosophy they have is to sign players under the age of 23 for the first team which as you’ll have gathered from the previous chapters I do a lot of so it should be the perfect fit.
Before I go into detail on the current squad here is an overview of it:
Quite alarmingly we don’t have a single player in the first team squad whose best position is a striker which is something that will have to change. We have a number of players who can play there but its crucial in my opinion that we have a proper number 9. The squad is ageing, 11 players are 29 or over so some younger players need bringing in and we have a serious lack of options at full back. The fact Icaac Hayden is part of this squad is very worrying, whoever thought he was good enough to compete with Europe’s best has a lot to answer for. He may be out on loan but he should never have been here in the first place. With pre season already underway and less than a month until the season kicks off, I’ve seriously got my work cut out and don’t have a lot of money to put things right.
There is still a lot to be positive about, we have some insanely good players so given time I’ll be able to bring in some additions to plug the gap and build a strong squad around them. The stands outs are João Félix and Jan Oblak, two of the worlds best. You’ve then got the likes of Marcos Llorente, Koke, Thomas Lemar, José Giménez and Mateo Kovačić that are all class acts.
There are a number of good youth prospects at the club but none of them are ready for the first team just yet, dependant on how long I end up here for will determine whether or not I get to use them. Hopefully I won’t!
At Leverkusen I had a really good backroom team behind me and I was keen on having that again. An essential part of that was first team coach John Terry who I managed to convince to come with me, he is a natural born leader and winner which rubs off on the players. Also he didn’t shag any players or colleagues wives whilst at Leverkusen so I feel he is a changed man.
Having looked at the squad I felt we needed a minimum of 6 new players. The first 11 was very good in most areas but there were serious gaps squad wise. Right back Santiago Arias was already in talks with Sassuolo and wasn’t good enough for me to stand in his way so this meant I needed 1 right back, 2 left backs (we didn’t have any), 1 striker and 2 central midfielders. I had moved on a few players to generate more transfer funds but there still wasn’t a lot to spend.
The formation that I’d decided to play was a 4-3-3 that would rely heavily on goals from the wide men as part of the front 3.
Bringing in players was tough, I didn’t have enough to spend on a player of real quality so it was a case of loans and bargains who would probably be back up players at best.
At left back I went back and for the first time in this save signed a player twice. Kostas Tsimikas had done ok whilst on loan at Leverkusen for me, I hadn’t made it permanent as I wanted a first choice player there and only saw him as back up which I already had. He has done well since playing for Udinese and had an £8.5m release clause which I activated. He will be first choice this season but hopefully I’ll have more to spend next summer and he can be demoted to back up. Alejandro Balde joined on a season long loan from Barcelona to provide competition.
At right back Kieran Trippier is starting to decline, I’m ok with him being my right back for 1 more year but only because I can’t really afford to replace him. Young Pablo joins from Huesca for £10.25m, he is one for the future but hopefully can start to improve quick.
In midfield I was left with little choice but to go into the loan market, Dani Ceballos and Marc Roca both joining on season long loan deals to provide cover.
Up top I will be starting Cunha, it says he is best as an AM but I’m sure he’ll do a job up top. I needed a player to compete with him and with Man City having Mbappé, Haaland and Vlahović they were happy for young Liam Delap, the son of the man with the greatest long throw of all time, to go out on loan for the year.
To summarise I’m pretty disappointed with my summer deals but I don’t think that is down to any real fault of my own. To sign a top player you need a minimum of £30m and I needed 6 players so my hands were tied from the start. This leaves the squad looking like this:
|Position||1st choice||2nd choice||3rd choice|
|GK – SK||Jan Oblak||Josep Martínez|
|RB – CWB||Kieran Trippier||Pablo|
|CB – CD||José Giménez||Felipe|
|CB – CD||Mario Hermoso||Nehuén Pérez|
|LB – CWB||Kostas Tsimikas||Alejandro Balde|
|RCM – BWM||Marcos Llorente||Dani Ceballos|
|CM – CM (D)||Koke||Marc Roca|
|LCM – AP||Mateo Kovačić||Saúl|
|RW – IW||Thomas Lemar||Luis Sinisterra||Víctor Mollejo (utlilty)|
|LW – IW||João Félix||Rodrigo De Paul|
|ST – AF||Matheus Cunha||Liam Delap|
Its a good first 11 but I worry if we get injuries in certain areas that we’ll struggle and ideally I’d have a squad of 25 not 23. There was a temptation to play 4-2-3-1 and get João Félix in the hole but I think he’ll do well cutting in off the left and that allows me to play 3 central midfielders, a position we are strong in. Next time I’ll review the full 24/25 season and hopefully I’ll have some good news to share.
Thanks for reading,
The Last Throw.