Season 3 has been eventful. In the place of the usual 'End of Season Awards' blog, I will bring you up-to-date with the frantic 2nd half of the season, which saw Grasshopper Club Zürich (GCZ) taken over by Italian Franco Soldati (real life Udinese owner) and go on to win a third consecutive league title. During this time, we also broke our transfer budget by around £8m!
Takeover & Trophies
The goalposts have now changed in my save. 60% of you glorious people voted in favour for me 'adapting' my transfer restrictions. The philosophy of youth development remains but I have removed the limits on wages and transfer costs. So from Season 4 the only restriction will be to have at least 5 Homegrown GCZ players in the match day squad for each domestic match (league and cup).
The takeover commenced during the January transfer window, which meant I was under an embargo for much of it. However, I was able to smash my transfer record with a £11m capture of Niklas Stark from Hertha Berlin. Stark becomes my top earner at £39k per week and brings real potential in the defensive midfield position. I was also able to sign a pre-contract agreement with ex-Grasshopper Fabio Daprelà from Palermo. My policy on transfers is to buy in the positions where youth is not an immediate option, and I felt I was lacking in both the DM and DL position.
Make no mistake, the third league title has been the hardest to secure. Both Basel and Young Boys pushed me all the way. I was in 1st place for 19 of the 35 weeks and, more worryingly, from Match 25 through to 35 I was not in pole position. I leapfrogged Basel on the final day after 4 straight wins...
With Lugano thumping Basel 3-0, it meant a GCZ-St Gallen draw would be enough to secure the title. However ex-GCZ striker, and the man I bought to Switzlerand, Airam Cabrera scored a penalty against me. Despite this, my bravery in trusting youth was instantly rewarded...up stepped Remo Mahrer to equalise straight away. A regen, who along with Marco Simon, offers a very bright future for GCZ.
The end of season rise in form did not end there. I was able to secure my 2nd domestic double in just 3 years, with a penalty win over Basel:
Another sideshow in this important match was the substitute appearances of Kim Källström & Taye Taiwo. They came on for their final games for GCZ, brought experience and calm to the team...demonstrated by their composed spot kicks in the shoot-out. (I plan to do an appreciation blog post about these two at a later date).
The good run of form at the end of the season is, in part, due to the change of formation. From a 4-3-2-1 asymmetrical formation to more conventional (and symmetrical) 4-2-3-1 . Sometimes in FM you find yourself in a bad run, a good example is my disastrous league form in March (above). It's questionable why this happens, was it that the AI had become too familiar with the regular system I was playing? Or were the players who shaped the 4-3-2-1 system in the first place not performing (Källström & Taiwo for example).
Whatever the reason, sometimes you have to change and adapt. The major changes of this set up was that the attacking Wing Backs became Defensive Full Backs. Instead the width was supplied by the Wingers on attack duty. The centre of the midfield is no longer a Ball Winning pressing game, the DM holds whilst I have removed the Box To Box element.
Season 4 preparations
As mentioned earlier, any new signing has to be a direct improvement on the first XI and now there's serious money at GCZ, I have made one major signing: Franco 'Alexis' López for £5m upfront...rising to £7m in time:
Keep an eye on my Twitter for further developments and thanks for reading. Now back to my save...