Hallo there everyone and welcome back to Scotland! The Easter weekend allowed me to play quite a lot of FM17 these last days so I wanted to share with you the progress made with Falkirk so far in my fourth season in charge.
The big news of the season is that Brexit kicked in, starting from 2020 all non-British players, including those with an EU passport, will need a work-permit to sign for a British club. Luckily, these new rules will not apply for players already at British clubs, but only for future transfers. Apparently, I will have to face a hard-Brexit in the next years of my saves and it’d be interesting to see how this will impact us and Scottish football in general.
As far as I can imagine, I can see English Premier League, with their high number of foreign players, suffer more than the Scottish Premiership. On the other hand, richer English clubs will start scouting into our league more and more in order to find eligible players. This, in turn, will probably increase the value of Scottish players, but will also mean that it will be more difficult to convince players to stay when they start attracting big English club.
Also, the work-permit system will mean that only more established players could be signed, those having already gained some recognition and played for their National Team. High reputation and resources clubs like Celtic and Rangers will probably still be able to sign this kind of players, while the rest of the Scottish clubs will now have to focus more on youth development.
Since the beginning of this save, I focused on developing our own players while creating and maintaining a Scottish core, always prioritizing local boys or British players. But as this winter transfers window shows, I also like to sign some promising youngsters, regardless their nationality to develop them and make some good profit out of them. We shall see how feasible this could be in the future.
The only departure in January is Myles Hippolyte, with the arrival of Ryan Fraser in the summer, he didn’t make the first XI anymore and when Leeds offer € 3M I accepted. All other departures are loans to give some of our youngsters some playing time.
Five players joined us during the winter and I am particularly excited by Toru Saito and Yannick Aka. Saito is a 20 years old Japanese centre-back, at his young age he already has almost 30 caps for his National side and is probably already one of the best defenders in the league. I actually didn’t need a centre-back, having bought Augustyn in the summer, but when a young player of such quality is available for free, you simply can’t turn it down. The other youngster coming in for free from Ivorian side Académie JMG is Yannick Aka. He will replace Hyppolite as reserve wide-midfielder. Being only 19 and already having 5 caps with Côte d’Ivoire, he is another player I am sure will develop into a fine winger. Note that I could sign both regardless of them being foreigners because given their international experiences they were both granted a work permit.
Daniel O’Connor and Ross Buchan were signed both following our policy of poaching young talent from around the British Isles and to integrate our yearly Youth Intakes. Callum Camps comes in only to be a reserve because McKee is out injured for 3 months and I will probably sell him in the summer.
After winning the Scottish Cup for two years in a row, we will have to pass our hand this year after having been eliminated by Celtic. While we did even less progress in the League Cup, which, to be honest, isn’t a competition I really care about.
More generally, I am not too displeased, after coming second last year in the League by losing at the very last game, my focus this year is the Premiership while continuing to progress in Europe.
Having already played until the Split (the moment after week 33 when the League splits into Championship group and Relegation group) I decided to cover all results up till now, leaving the last five games for next chapter. So, where do we stand? Better results than last year and only four defeats. A series of injuries between the end of March and April undermined our form and in those three matches, we only managed to get 2 points, meaning that Celtic was leading the League by 4 points. Our victory against them though puts us only within 1 point of the first place. I have five games to go, including one more against Celtic, our only possibility is to win them all!
UEFA EUROPA LEAGUE
For the second season in a row, we managed to pass through all the qualifying rounds and reach the Group Stages. Not only that, we even improved since last year by qualifying as First of our group after some iconic wins like the 5-2 win against Anderlecht or the 3-0 against Olympique Lyon. Great results and great impact both in terms of prize-money and UEFA points that increase our reputation. We are facing Napoli in the First KO round, so I fear our adventure my end there, but for the moment I am more than pleased with our European display.
Another poor intake, one that made me ask to the Board for an improvement in our Youth recruitment (even if it is already listed as established). Only Calum Lamont and Kyle Fulton had been offered a contract, even if I wasn’t impressed by neither of them.
There is no need to worry about our long-term future though, as I always signed very young players at each of our transfer window, my U20s squad is full of promising talent.
That’s it for now, I’m eager and unpatient about playing those five games remaining and see whether we can crown ourselves Champions!
Thanks for reading and Com’on Bairns!!!