I haven’t posted an update for a while, not because I haven’t been playing the save but rather because I was into playing it so much that I couldn’t be bothered taking the time out to write and update.
Besides, the season following my last update was a pretty dull one with nothing much interesting to blog. We won the cup, which was nice, and pushed into the Champions League qualification spots but suffered a similar February / March slump to the previous year and fell away in the title race.
This season, however, was a much different story.
So different, in fact, that this will the final update and final season with Sampdoria. Largely because we completely and utterly dominated domestically.
We also defended our 2022 Coppa Italia title with victories over Fiorentina, Milan, Palermo and Inter. Whilst not the simplest of runs, we were never really troubled.
The only blemish on our record came in the Champions League and even there it was hardly a failure. Drawn in a nightmare group with Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund and Chelsea, we made it hard for ourselves by losing the opening game to the Spaniards – an own goal and an FM Special where Suarez, ringed in red, somehow managed to get to the ball before my ‘keeper, making his next touch on the X to score.
(and yes, I enjoy moaning. Venting is one of the main reasons I blog. Dry them.)
We’d recover from that tough start to progress in second behind Barca. Drawing their Spanish rivals Real in the first knockouts, I figured that was the end of that but we put two late goals past them in the home leg to take a 2-0 lead to the Bernabeu, then knock in three more away goals to put it beyond doubt.
A regulation victory followed in the quarters, where Milan accomodatingly continue to play 3 at the back systems against me and consequently get hammered every time. And then came Man Utd.
Interesting, having recently sacked Zidane, a temporary manager was in charge who appeared to have galvanised the team and overseen a return of goals and form. Despite our 1-0 home victory in the first leg, their morale didn’t wane and, in the return game, a luky penalty in the final minutes of the game was enough to get them out of trouble.
Very much art imitating life.
In injury time, we grabbed an away goal and, despite an Eder Militao thunderbastard, it looked like we were seeing the game out. Until Diogo Dalot’s left (yes, left) foot and my ‘keeper positioning himself further to the right than Nigel fucking Farage resulted in a 123rd minute winner.
If you follow me on twitter, then you will know that I took this defeat calmly and in good grace.
The loss did tempt me to have another season with Sampdoria but it can’t really get any better domestically and I’m becoming increasingly frustrated with the astronomical wage demands of even the average players in the squad.
I like to run a tight ship and, in addition to the second lowest wage to turnover ratio in the league, our total wage budget was, at £52m, just the 8th highest in the division and around 30% of Juventus’ (who finished 12th and sacked two managers).
We’d just managed to develop a squad that perfectly suited what is a fairly straightforward attacking 4-2-3-1 – a system that will likely be very similar to many other players and suits the biases in the current match engine.
Meanwhile solid back-up was provided by a talented squad with a special mention to Antonino La Gumina, a favourite of mine. Having signed for £5.75m from Augsburg in 2020, he’s one of those you know can do a job in any situation despite seemingly average attributes.
But that, really, is the end of that. I’ve yet to decide what I’ll do for the next save – either some sort of journeyman or starting in the 4th tier of German football with FSV Frankfurt being the most likely. I’ve also yet to decide whether or not I’ll continue blogging.
Most probably, I won’t even bother deciding the latter and will just blog if and when I feel the urge. In the meantime, if you want to continue to see my moaning and ranting, or get a heads-up if I do continue blogging, come follow me on twitter @shrewnaldo.