Close and pre-season 2016

The club: I request a new stadium from the board because we’re selling out each week, but the board reject the request. Our final position of 4th is the highest we’ve ever finished and extra income from a larger stadium would have been welcome and help us kick on. However, they do accept my request for a new feeder club and ask for my input – I suggest Swindon, but no deal can be struck. I also request that we improve the youth facilities at the club and the board agree. Bradley Johnson requests a move to a bigger club and I reluctantly accept his request to be placed on the transfer list and he then requests to be removed days later. It could be a bit of a summer saga! We receive £85,000 after Nottingham Forest sell Mate Simao to Blackpool. Petar Zlatinov hangs his boots up after 96 games and 17 goals for us. Michel is voted Player of the Year (again!) by the fans, with Jonathan Bond, Sean Morrison, Jagos Vukovic, Bradley Johnson, Jonny Hayes and Michele Marconi all making it to our overall best XI. Aiman Mustafa returns to Derby County and our link with them is terminated following their relegation to the Championship. The media give their predictions for the upcoming season and they predict we’ll finish 7th, whilst the bookies have us at 33/1 to get promoted. I persuade Federico Cenci to sign a new contract and he’ll be with us until June 2020 unless anyone matches his £5,000,000 release fee. The League Cup draw is made and the first round will see us travel to League 2 Newport County. Bertin Matip joins up with Cameroon Under 23s for the Olympic Games. Craig Hinchcliffe joins us a goalkeeping coach, whilst Ian Catchpole is named as a new physio. I appoint Gennaro Riccardi as captain and Dacian Varga remains as vice-captain, which isn’t the most popular move that I’ve ever made, but I believe it’s the right one and hope he’ll want to stay.

Transfers: Nice and busy in the transfer market as always and I sign (deep breath): Norweigian DR Gaute Nymark, French GK Emmanuel Dufour, English M/AM(R)/ST Ricky Ralph, Danish D/WB/M(L) Jesper Mikkelsen, English D(RC) Abraham Leggett, Welsh DC Kirk Roberts, Italian D/DM/M(C) Nicolas Soro, English DM/M(C) Gareth Shaw, English D/M(C) Ollie Childs, English DM/M(C) Ryan Smith, Croatian (AML/ST) Stjepan Godinic, Scottish DC Callum Marsden, English DC/ST Elihu Belay Berhane, Reunionese ST Valery Tamitu, French AM(LC)/ST Bruno Pierrat, Turkish ST Samed Aydin, Kazakh D/WB(R) Bolat Paviz, German WBL Volker Witt, Danish DC Lasse Karlsen, French DM/M(C) Loic Fournier, French AM(LC) Alain Besse, German AM(RL)/ST Florian Koch, Danish AM(RL)/ST Raif Boric, Danish AMR Nicolai Henriksen, Danish DM/M(C) Nikola Zivanovic, German MC Steffan Ritter, Austrian DC Herbert Haudum, German AMR/ST Dennis Lorenz, Danish GK Alexander Olsen, German GK Hasan Sari, Spanish AM(RC)/ST Alfonso Pereira, Danish AMR/ST Bo Sorensen, Austrian DM/MC Roman Reiter, English DC Jeremy Beadle, English AM(RC)/ST Jason McGowan, German M/AM(LC) Claus Duhnke, Spanish AM(LC) Jose Garcia, Slovakian D(RC) Lubomir Zapotoka, English AM(L)/ST Geoff Heslop, Italian AMR/ST Adriano Gazzoli and Italian ST Riccardo Greppi (player profiles are available on Instagram).

Fortuna Sittard offer £10,000 and £24,000 over 18 months and 20% of the profit of the next sale for Kyle Ebecilio and I accept; MVV then offer £18,000 and £24.000 over 12 months and 10% of the next sale for him and I accept this offer as well (he joins them). Bristol City enquire about Scott Malone and I quote them £100,000 and 10% of the profit of the next sale, but they decline to take their interest any further. Fulham enquire about Sean Morrison and I tell them he’s not for sale. Everton enquire and I quote £400,000 and 20% of profit from the next sale, which they decline. Wigan Athletic offer £400,000 for him and it’s automatically accepted as his higher-division-club release fee is met (and exceeded by £75,000!) and Morrison leaves us to join them. QPR offer £140,000 and 25% of the profit of a future sale for Vaclav Kostka – I ask for £250,000 up front and they decline; his agent asks for a new contract, but nothing is agreed. Brescia offer £9,000, £40,000 over 30 months and 20% of any profit from the next sale for Nicholas Carbrini and I ask for £1,000 more up front, which they agree to; Torino offer £55,000 for him which is also accepted and he moved to Torino. Chesterfield offer £6,000, £24,000 over 30 monhts and 20% of any profit from the next sale for Pedro Mendes, whilst Ipswich Town, Ponferradina and Wycombe Wanderers all offer £30,000 for him and I accept all offers and he decides to join Ponferradina. Hereford offer nothing for Magnus Olesen and as he has not future at the club, I accept to reduce the wage bill and he decides to join them. Verona offer £190,000 and 30% of the profit from the next sale for Niccolo Marchi and I ask for £10,000 more up front, which they agree to; Empoli come up with a bigger offer of £240,000 and 30% of profit from the next sale and I accept this, but he chooses to sign for Verona. Pescara offer £120,000 and 25% of the profit of the next sale for Tomas Hostalek and I accept and he agrees to join them. Nacional da Madeira offer £525,000, £1,600,000 over 24 months and 25% of the profit from the next sale for Catalin Rentea, which I decline. Lazio check our resolve and Federico Cenci’s new contract with an offer of £1,000,000, £2,300,000 over 18 months and 10% of the profit of the next sale and I reject it. Aston Villa, Barnsley, Derby County, Swansea City and Swindon Town all offer £40,000 for Iain Turner and I accept all offers, with Swansea being the club he chooses to join – as he leaves, he tells the media he’s sorry to no longer be working with me. Padova enquire about Eugenio Bertolucci and I quote £100,000, £10,000 after 30 games, £20,000 after promotion and 10% of the next sale and they agree, but only offer £70.000 instead of £100,000 so I reject it.

Sheffield Wednesday offer £24,000 to loan Dariusz Lenartowski for the season and all parties agree, so he’s off there for the season. Crawley offer to loan Bartosz Lukasik and I accept, but he declines to make the move. Vecindario want to loan David Goikoetxea on loan for the season and I accept, but he doesn’t want to join them. Notts County offer £10,000 to loan Paupol Mayila for the season and I accept and he moves to them for the season. Regensburg offer to loan Jens Fickert for the season and I accept, but he declines. Sheffield Wednesday offer £12,000 to loan Vaclav Kostka and £240,000 at any point during the loan to make the deal permanent for Vaclav Kostka – I suggest no money, but that he can be recalled and all parties agree and Kostka joins Lenartowski at Sheffield Wednesday. Scunthorpe United offer £8,000 to loan Konstantin Manov for the season and I accept and he decides to join them. Crawley offer to loan Torben Christiansen for the season and I negotiate to include a recall option and all parties agree, so he joins them. Southend United offer to loan Martin Koci for 6 months, Stevenage offer to loan Declan Warburton for 6 months and MK Dons offer to loan Aaron Walker for 6 months and I agree to all offers; Koci and Warburton agree to the loans, but Walker rejects. Muamar Tankovic joins Crewe on loan for the season and I’m £8,000 richer as a result. Busao moves to Bristol Rovers on a 6 month loan.

Pre-season fixtures: Our pre-season fixtures kick off in the traditional manner as we travel to our feeder club, Tiverton Town and we record an 8-0 victory. Our first home friendly is against CSKA Moscow Reserves and we record a 3-0 victory thanks to three late goals. However, Michel picks up a gashed leg and will be out for a couple of weeks. Our friendly against Arsenal is televised, but it’s a 0-0 bore-draw. We then travel to TNS and record a 3-0 victory there. Liverpool visit for a friendly, which is televised, and we lose 3-1, a reverse from the previous season’s friendly. We then travel to Barnet and find ourselves two-down in 20 minutes, but fightback to record a 3-2 victory. We find ourselves 1-0 down at Old Trafford, but can’t fight back and Manchester United hold on to win. Our final pre-season game is against Brondby at St. James Park and following a suggestion from @AshTheNeon after he notes how many young Danish players I’ve signed. My matchday 21 contains 20 Danes (I only have 1 Danish goalkeeper and select a German goalkeeper as sub) and they beat arguably Denmark’s most famous team 2-1.

The wider football world: Swindon appoint Keith Millen as their new manager following their relegation. The Premier League is won by Chelsea and Newcastle United will be the third team joining them from the Championship after they beat Norwich City 2-1 in the play-off final. Peterborough’s Michael Kucharczyk is the top league goalscorer with 32 goals, Luis Bolanos of West Bromwich Albion is Player of the Year, with Souleymane Coulibaly winning Young Player of the Year and Derek McInnes is Manager of the Year as West Brom get even more silverware; I finish in third place for Manager of the Year. The Championship Team of the Year is named and Federico Cenci and Michel are named in the side. On the same day our pre-season fixtures begin, it’s the final of Euro 2016 and Spain lose 1-0 to a James Milner goal as England win the tournament. Paul McGuinness decides that following England’s victory, it’s time for him to step down and is one of many international managers who step down following the tournament. I don’t apply for the England job because: a) I want to get Exeter into the Premier League and b) the FA aren’t going to appoint someone with 5 years of experience in League 1 and the Championship. It turns out that I’m spot on about the FA’s appointment as they go for Peter Meller, who has absolutely no previous managerial experience. Northern Ireland do offer me the job and although the temptation to pick Will Grigg (and chant his song throughout the games!) is strong, I decline.

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