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What a debut season it was! We finished 7th in the Premier League (5 points off the Champion’s League spots), won the Capital One Cup, qualified for the Europa League and did the double over the Mags! Excellent! The 2nd season is going to be just as hard, but with us now playing in Europe, I feel that was can do good business in the transfer market and attract a much higher quality of player and really get this football club going again. As mentioned in our previous episode, Fabio Borini and Kingsley Coman have signed on the dotted line and Vito Mannone has left the club to join Hamburg for £8 million.
With us now competing in Europe, we had to bolster the squad if we were to meet the demands of our chairman, Ellis Short. What I’m trying to look for are youth players that we can build upon for the future as well as bring though our own prospects from the youth academy. One academy player worthy of being promoted is Mario Faria, a 16 year old Portuguese centre back who has been touted as a future hot prospect. Nathan Ake impressed me so much last season that I had to bring him back on a permanent signing, surprisingly, he only cost us £200k. Patrick Roberts, a young right midfielder, arrives from Fulham with Seb Larrson heading the other way. Mannone felt it was time to leave and I had a replacement in mind, Jack Butland. Stoke were playing hardball but we eventually settled on a £8million fee. Was it money well spent? I sure hope so. Gedion Zelalem was highly recommended from my chief scout so we struck a deal with Arsenal and snapped him up for £200K. We wrapped up our transfer incomings by adding to our defence with the captures of Matt Briggs (free from Millwall), and Celta Vigo left back, Jonny for £4 million plus Santiago Vergini being a part of the deal. Flop striker, Danny Graham, joined QPR for £750k. We let a few players go out on loan including El Hadji Ba (Port Vale), Joel Dixson (Exeter City), George Honeyman (Walsall)and Maksymilian Stryjek (Gillingham).
2015/2016 Premier League Fixtures
It’s the day football fans up and down the country look forward to when the fixtures are released. Regardless which league your team is in, there’s a real buzz about waking up to Sky Sports News just to see when the local derby is. We kick start our season away to Queens Park Rangers where we’ll be up against our former striker, Danny Graham. Not that I’m worried or anything, he’s shite! Our first home game is against recently promoted, Watford. Manchester United away is our 3rd game of the season. Last season, we suffered an embarrassing 6-2 defeat so we’ll be out to rectify that. We rap up our first five games of the season against Arsenal and West Bromwich Albion. The traditional Boxing Day fixture is at home against last season’s runners up, Manchester City and, like last season, we end the season with a home tie against the Champions, Chelsea. Our first derby game is at home on the 17th of October with the trip to St. James’ Park on January 30th. We didn’t read from the script last season and I want to do the same this season. The media are predicting a 12th place finish. I think we’re better than that, so my aim is to continue the trend we made last season.
Target: Top 8
FA Cup/ Capital One Cup
I never expected to reach a cup final let alone win one! Disappointed with our run in the FA Cup. I was looking for yet another lengthy cup run but we came undone against Nottingham Forest in the 4th round. Will we win another trophy this season? Well, we weren’t expected to win anything last season and I’m sure the same applies this time round. I just want to be competitive on all fronts, that means a lengthy cup run in both the FA & League Cups.
Target: Quarter Finals
UEFA Europa League
For the first time in the club’s history, we are competing in Europe. First we need to qualify for the group stages and Dutch side, Willem II are standing between us and the chance to go toe to toe against some of the biggest names in Europe. I can see us beating Willem, we shouldn’t been worried about them. We can’t go into the match thinking that we’ve won because that would be disastrous. Plus, we’ll miss out on a huge financial brucey bonus too. If we were to progress to the group stages, I dare say we’ll be one of the strongest teams in the group and with the latest additions to our squad, I feel as though qualifying from the group is realistic enough.
Target: Qualify from the group
Not much else to report on other than our left back, Patrick Van Aanholt has signed a 2 year contract whiles club captain, John O’Shea, is contemplating retirement.
Join us again for year another crazy season on Wearside!