FM17: Flying The Flag, Part 2
Our challenge continues as a striker becomes the priority
After assessing the squad properly, I decide a striker is my main priority. I go snooping around the Brazilian leagues for a bargain striker and a few catch my eye. Tight Uncle Vincent won’t let me scout in South America, so I make do with my judgement and enquire about a few players who look like they can kick a ball in a goal.
My scout returns with reports on Cotterill, Laferty and co, but none take his fancy. He tells me that Lafferty would be the best option, but at £750k and £20k per week, I resist making a bid.
To make matters worse, no one bids for Matt Connolly. Fuck. He tells me he won’t seek a transfer elsewhere and it looks as though we’re stuck with him for now. It could be worse, but I could’ve done with the money.
A bit of good news at last, I’m offered Diego Poyet. I think he could be a good option in midfield, so offer him a trial for now. He joins us on tour in Switzerland.
After the summer’s heroics, few are happy with my appointment. Chris Coleman did what no one else has been able to do — take Wales to a major tournament for the first time since 1958.
Cookie felt it was time to move on, though. Well, not really but he didn’t have a choice. I wish him well.
My first press conference sees my old foe return. Stanley. Fucking. Haque. “Will you replace Ashley Williams as captain?” he asks.
Bloody hell, Stanley. I’ve barely sat down and you’re pointing the gun at me. I have total faith in Ashley I tell him — honestly, this time. Mia Lennon from FourFourTwo tells me there’s a lot of pressure in the job — thanks for that, Mia.
I’m ushered out of the Principality Stadium Millennium Stadium, which is strange considering we play at the Cardiff City Stadium these days.
For now, there’s not much to do with the national side. Our next game is in 58 days, against Montenegro in a friendly, before we start the World Cup Qualifiers in September.
In the meantime, I’ll be keeping a keen eye on various young players, including Louis Thompson and Ben Woodburn.
Back in the blue of Cardiff, we’re quickly under attack from Stoke City who want to take Craig Bellamy to their club as a coach. He’s an Under 18 coach at the moment but I’d promote him to the first-team to keep him.
I sit Craig down, aware of his somewhat temper at times, and basically beg him to stay. “It’s nice to know I’m wanted” says Craig “but I won’t let you influence my decision.”
For fucks sake, Craig. I’ve only been here two days and you’re already make my life difficult. I may as well get down on my knees and unzip his jeans at this point, as I beg and beg and beg. “I really need you” I tell him.
With not even an ounce of emotion, Craig looks at me knelt down begging him to stay and says “I can make my own decisions.” He walks out, closing the door shut behind him like a cold-hearted killer.
Vitoria get back to me on my enquiry for Rodrigo Ramallo, their 25-year old Bolivian striker, and tell me he’s mine for £725k. It’s a lot of money, but he looks like he could be a good fit up front. His first touch is second to none and he is pretty well rounded across the board.
I negotiate, trying my luck to see if they’ll accept £500k. They bite my hand off, which slightly worries me, but we’ll see what Rodrigo’s like when we get him on a plane to South Wales. I hope he packed his gloves.
It turns out that Rodrigo doesn’t even want to get on the plane. “Cardiff? You’re having a laugh” he says in an email to Jonny, my PA.
My search for a striker continues.
Some new scout reports come in. Paul McCarthy tells me Louis Thompson, the Welsh midfielder who plays for Norwich, would be a good signing but isn’t sure how much he’d cost. He tells me he’d be available on loan, but I’m not sure I can justify the wages if I don’t need him.
Kevin Kuranyi is a bit old — no surprise there — whilst Yakubu is an awful idea, says Adam Atteo.
I scout Ben Woodburn, but we’re of no interest to him. Diego Poyet, though, is well worth investing in says Chief Scout John Vik.
A few notes arrive back from Brazil, with Santa Cruz, Cruzeiro and Flamengo all rejecting my enquiries for their strikers Bruno Moraes, Ramon Abila and Felipe Vizeu respectively.
Young Scottish winger Matty Kennedy is subject of a loan offer from Coventry, who want him for the season. I agree, despite the fact that he beat Jimmy Bullard on TV.
I go back to Brazil and make a £325k bid for Cleo, a 30-year old striker from Goias. He’s scored 3 goals in 7 games for them and looks well-rounded. He’d be a short term fix, but at just £10k a week one that could be worth taking.
Paul McCarthy tells me former loanee Tony Watt is our best striking option and I don’t disagree. I can’t afford his £3million fee right now, though.
“Sit down” Jonny tells me as I walk into my office. “What is it?” I ask him.
“Craig’s gone” he says. “He completed his move to Stoke this morning.”
Fucking fuckwit. So much for hometown club, Craig. Loyalty? Pah. Go fuck yourself.
One bit of good news for me is that the Cleo, the Brazilian striker, has agreed to join the club. He made it as far as the Welsh capital, more than we can say for Rodrigo Ramallo. We wait anxiously to see if his work permit is approved.
My second friendly sees Club Brugge visit the Cardiff City stadium and I decide that it is a good opportunity to give some youngsters a chance to show what they can do. Semi Ajayi, Tommy O’Sullivan, Khadeem Harris, Matt Kennedy (who is contemplating a loan move to Coventry) and Rhys Healey all come into the side. Joining them is defensive midfield mountain Samba Diakite, who joined us on trial for a few weeks.
The first half is a pretty drab affair. Lee Peltier does well at right-back in Jazz’s absence, whilst Samba Diakite has somehow completed 46 of his 45 passess, according to Kevin Blackwell the fuckwit. He has, however, won every single one of his tackles, which is pretty good. On a free transfer, he could be a good option.
I ring the changes at half-time, with Diakite, Ben Amos and Khadeem Harris the only players to stay on the pitch. Freddy gets his chance up front instead of Zahore, who stays on the bench.
I soon regret it, as the striker is beat in the air at a corner by Stefano Denswil to give the Belgians the lead.
In the 74th minute, we’re back in the game. As Jazz takes a throw in deep in the Brugge half, he gives the ball to Craig Noone, who quickly finds Emyr Huws in the centre of the pitch. With acers of room in front of him, Huws carries the ball towards the opposition box and hits one from some 25-yards out. It nestles in the bottom right. Get in.
With the clock ticking down, we pile on the pressure. Joe Ralls whips in a disappointing corner, which is cleared by Van Rhijn. It falls to Jazz Richards on the half-way line, who is all alone. He carries it ,passes to Joe Bennett, who in turn gives it back to Ralls. What he does next is special. He curls it in like a left-footed David Beckham behind the Brugge defence to Craig Noone, who has stolen a yard on the left-back. He slots it home and we’re in front!
The game ends 2–1 and I’m delighted. We dominated against a very good Brugge side and had 56% of possession. We also had 19 shots on goal, but just 7 were on target. We need to work on that.
Just two days later and we’re back in action. Solothurn are the first opponents of our Swiss tour. Alan McGregor comes in for his first start after he gets over an injury, whilst Rhys Healey continues up front.
The youngster puts us in front early on after being put through by Khadem Harris. The winger grabs our second; tapping in from a Junior Hoilett cross. We head into half-time 2–0 up.
After making 11 changes at half-time, the second half fades away without making an impact. The match ends 2–0.
The search for a striker continues as Cleo fails to get a work permit. I should’ve expected as much, but I was hopeful that the thought of a Brazilian gracing the fields of Cardiff would be enough for him to pass his work permit. We move on.
My next target is Gary Hooper, who is transfer listed at £4.4million. He’s a bit outside of my price range, but with Matt Connolly talking to Bristol City about a £1.8million move we’re getting close to it. Any deal is scuppered though by the fact that Hooper is demanding £79k per week in wages. Money grabbing twat.
Amr Gamal agrees to join us for £350k from Al-Alhy, but we’re waiting on a work permit for him which I’m not confident of. His first application was rejected, but I’m hoping we can get it approved upon appeal.
You guessed it, Gamal’s work permit was rejected. Our search for a striker is getting real desperate now. I take Luciano Becchio and Jose Baxter on trial for a few weeks and their both thrown into the action against Vitesse.
Baxter picks up an injury within 20 minutes, a sign of things to come maybe. Becchio is pulled at half-time too, replaced by Anthony Pilkington up top. I’ve got Rickie Lambert on the bench, but I’m adamant on finding options besides him.
Pilkington shows that he could be the man when he gets a goal on 50 minutes, but his strike is pulled back for an offside call.
We do take the lead 10 minutes later, though, when Peter Whittingham finds Aaron Gunnarsson who slots home. Gunnar returns the favour minutes later, but Whitts’ shot is pushed for a corner by the Vitesse goalkeeper.
I make more changes on 70 minutes, meaning that all players are now replaced. Minutes later, Vitesse grab an equaliser. Ben Amos, the silly twat, concedes at his near post minutes after coming on.
Rickie Lambert, on for Pilkington, almost puts us in front but hits the post, as we continue to put pressure on the Dutch side. He does manage to break the deadline with 10 minutes remaining, after Junior Hoilett pulled the ball back to him. We almost have a third minutes later as Tommy O’Sullivan strikes the cross bar from outside the box.
With two minutes remaining, we do get the third. Craig Noone cuts in from his right-wing and plays a through ball to the on-running Aaron Gunnarsson, who finishes when one-on-one with the goalkeeper.
More good news follows our win, as Bruno Manga agrees a new 3-year-deal for £2k per week more than his existing one. I think he’s our best defender so I’m pretty pleased.
Part 3 coming soon as we approach the first game of the season against Birmingham City.