Hallo everyone and welcome back to Falkirk! First of all apologies for how long it took me to write a new chapter of this career, had some holidays and lot of work on my return. But let’s see what happened off-the-pitch during the summer!
BRAND NEW KIT
With our Stadium expansion completed during the summer and our second consecutive European qualification, the Board decided that it was time to give a reshuffle to our visual identity and to put forward a new sponsorship deal with Scottish Whiskey producer Johnnie Walker.
Credit to the design of this classic and classy new kit to Marc Bowen!
We spent € 3.6M to finance our transfers, but this sum was covered, with some margin, by the money received for the players we sold. On that regard, two major departure hit us during the summer. Our most prolific striker, and probably the best Scottish prospect around, left us for Everton for a mere € 2.6M. It is much, much less than what I had hoped for, but the player wanted to leave no-matter-how. Luckily, there is 30% on next sale clause and if he continues to progress as he did so far, I will expect to make more money on that than the original sale.
Another key player leaving us is Alessandro Vogliacco, the 20 years old Italian had been our best defender last season. When I signed him for free from Juventus, his agent put a € 800K release clause. Boavista came in meeting the clause at the moment I was renewing his contract and he finally decided to leave.
Replacing these two players hasn’t been easy and I’ve opted to spend the money to raise the overall level of the squad, rather than to concentrate it on one/two top players. Our new number 9 will be Ashley Fletcher from West Ham, while young Polish prospect Dawid Augustyn will form the defensive pair with Danny Wilson.
But the two signings I am most excited about are Ryan Fraser and George Byers. Two young Scottish players who showed good things in the English Premier League both in-game and IRL. Last season though, Bournemouth and Swansea got relegated and I was able to poke them. Fraser has been an absolute deal because I signed him for free. With Mallan and Sibbald they will form a 100% Scottish midfield of great quality.
FIRST XI 2019/20
In terms of tactic no major changes to my 4-1-4-1, the only difference is the FB are now set in Attack duty and with O’Hara’s departure our striker role is now set as a DLF-S.
Laurentiu Brănescu (GK) – 25, Romania – Already at club.
Former FM wonderkid, I bought him from Juventus for € 200K last season and he proved to be a quality keeper for the Scottish Premierleague, With possible challengers for the #1 shirt still too young but already at the club, I had no reason to look for another keeper.
Connor Randall (FB) – 23, England – In from Dundee for € 500K
I was looking for a more attacking profile than Lee Hodson and Randall, with his good attributes in crossing and dribbling was what I was looking for. Already playing in Scotland for Dundee, his transfer fee was reasonable considering he is only 23.
Dawid Augustyn (DC) – 19, Poland – In from Legia Warsaw for € 975K
The last minute gamble of the transfer window. With Boavista meeting the release clause of Vogliacco only one week before the deadline, I had to start looking for a central defender, a position I didn’t think needed reinforcements. Finally, Augustyn convinced me. Certainly, he is far from a finished product, but at only 19 his pure defending attributes (heading, marking, tackling, and positioning) already place him among the best defenders in the league. At his young age and with the help of our veteran Danny Wilson he could become a top player.
Danny Wilson (DC) – 27, Scotland – Already at club
Possibly my best piece of business so far in terms of money spent in return for performances. I signed him as a free transfer last year and Wilson didn’t let me down. Crucial at transforming Falkirk defense into the best of the Scottish Premiership, I hope he could repeat another great season. It is also reassuring to have an experienced player in defense, especially when he has a professional personality and a determination attribute of 18.
Lee Foran (FB) – 20, Ireland – Already at club, promoted from U20s
Considered one of the best prospects in my youngsters’ pool by my coaches, he spent last season on loan to prove he is ready to play in the senior squad. Keeping into account my preference for young players, especially if they are club-grown, I didn’t look into the market for a new left full-back and decided instead to promote Foran.
Carl McHugh (DM) – 26, Ireland – Already at club
Few great attributes, but exactly where you need them. This is how I’d describe McHugh, he is the perfect defensive midfielder, giving us balance between the lines and winning back crucial balls that set up counters.
Stephen Mallan (WM) – 23, Scotland – Already at club
Though he was a central midfielder, I bought him to fill the right wide midfield spot, as I saw in him the perfect mix of attributes between a winger and a wide playmaker. The gamble paid off, Mallan was our best assists provider last year and he has become a Scottish international meanwhile. He is now “natural” in the position I play, so he can just do even better.
Craig Sibbald (CM) – 24, Scotland – Already at club
At 24 years old he is already Falkirk’s captain, having played for the club since he was 16. I can’t say how much I love this player, a mobile midfielder with a great work-rate and an eye for the goal. At his 9th season at the club, he has grown with it and he is now a Scottish international.
George Byers (CM) – 23, Scotland – In from Swansea for € 500K
He is young, he is Scottish, and he was transfer-listed, a no-brainer for me. Along with Mallan, Sibbald, and Fraser, he will form a very technical and gifted midfield. Hope he will integrate perfectly in our system.
Ryan Fraser (WM) – 25, Scotland – In as a Free Transfer (formerly at Bournemouth)
Our high-profile signing, Ryan Fraser coming to our club is the symbol of Falkirk growth within Scottish football. His misunderstandings with Eddie Howe and the fact that the Cherries got relegated pushed him to refuse a renewal and accepting our offer. I will try to relaunch his career (much as I did with Danny Wilson). His attributes might not be the greatest, but his small size and impressive acceleration will definitely prove hard to stop by the rigid and slow defenders that inhabit the Scottish League.
Ashley Fletcher (ST) – 23, England – In from West Ham for € 775K
Another player who is looking to redefine his career at Falkirk, Fletcher was underplayed at WHU. He is miles away from the quality of O’Hara, but according to me in Scotland, he can clearly show his value and further develop.
Beside Foran who immediately steps into the First XI, I have promoted two youngsters into the senior squad as rotational players and to give them playing time. Kevin Malone, an 18 years old GK will play at domestic cups matches. I have another good GK prospect, Darren Phillips who is 20, but I opted to loan him in order for him to play a whole season as a first choice keeper.
With him, Morten Nyborg, an 18 years old Norwegian striker, will have some opportunities to prove his great season with the U20s last year (over 25 goals) is a sign of a bright future ahead.
After a third and a second place, this season I want the title. If we also can confirm our good performances in Europe of last year (reached the First KO Stage), it will be the perfect season.
That’s all folks! Will come soon with the mid-season update. In the meantime a happy Easter weekend to you all. Com’on Bairns!!!