So this post wraps things up for 2020/21. To refresh where things were at to the end of the winter transfer window, check out Part 7.
As we reached the transfer window, the form had just turned slightly. We’d only collected 2 points in 3 games, significantly down on previous form. We had also drawn too many games. 12 wins out of 22 wasn’t cutting it for European football.
The tweak we made was relatively simple. To improve attacking options we asked the full backs to push up wither playing as FB(A) or WB(A). To cover we dropped the man in the DM strata to a defensive duty, the role depending on the player. We mostly preferred an anchorman, a throw back to the FM2016 system.
So it was rocky for a while there but the form eventually turned and we finished the season reasonably. The Cadiz was felt like the most damaging as they were in the relegation zone when we played them.
We followed that up with a game against Barca where they shot 4 times from outside the box for 4 goals. It was a Messi masterclass, it was demoralising. The next week we host Real and absolutely tonk them, picking them off on the counter at will. It felt like a significant performance as it was the first time we’d knocked them off.
In the end, that mid season form slump was significant and impacted our final position. Funnily enough we were only 2 points off the points total from the 2019/20 season and did it defensively scoring three times more but tightening things up to the tune of 12 goals. We need to turn some draws into wins to make the charge up the table. Overall the result met the Board’s expectation.
The league was much more even with Madrid and Barca dropping 14 and 17 points respectively. Atletico Madrid redeemed themselves and Malaga had a season to remember. We duked it out with Sevilla but in the end it didn’t matter as we were both unable to catch the Champions League place.
In the Cup we fell at the final hurdle with Barca knocking us off 3-2. The final was Guillem Olivan’s coming out party, scoring twice and leading the competition for scoring. Silverware would have been nice but wasn’t vital to the season assessment.
Our keeper Leo Chichizola set a clean sheet record for the club and finished second in the Keeper of the Year for La Liga.
Alex Witsel (Avg Rating 7.2, 7 goals / 3 assists) and Ousmane Dembele (7.13, 6g/10a) finished in the team of the year.
The supporters selected an interesting Valencia team of the year
Chichizola was a no brainer as almost an ever present.
Manuel Nicoletti started to take control of the left back slot appearing 29 times for a 7.33 rating. The central pairing played the most games but the other two (Abdennour and Kalaica) had superior average ratings. Young full back Mario Nunez edged Fede Mattiello out of the right back spot. At 19, he’s getting close to locking into the spot.
Ergys Kace and Carlos Soler are the two that miss out in the midfield three. Pasalic edging based on cup form. Hardly featured at DM though.
Gun signing Julian Draxler (5/3 in the league) missed out on the wing to Joaquin Correa (4/4) in much more limited performances. Maybe an indication of good depth. Dembele was an obvious selection on the other wing.
Guillem Olivan flew in from the clouds. A prospect at the start of the year, he ends up as a wonderkid and possible first choice by the end. He absolutely took advantage of Suk breaking his ankle. He didn’t star in the league but ended with 10 goals and 8 assists in 21 starts and 9 subs. Michy Batshuayi ended with 13 goals.
Nolito and Danilo D’Ambrosio were the two to move on from the squad. Some kids were coming back from loan and we’d be looking closely at them to replace. The success of Olivan’s development through first team football has confirmed that we need to keep finding opportunities. Other than that, we weren’t expecting too many changes.
Then the knocks on the door started. Dembele, Draxler, Jordan & Mattiello all concerned to be missing out on the Champions League. A sloppy middle of the season appears to be the making of a busy offseason.