FM22 Analytics, tactics and soccernomics
After 11 games in the 2024/25 season we were sitting in 7th position after a rocky start. Level on point with 5th place our dreams of European football were still alive. Surprisingly, Granada were riding high and 5 points clear at the top.
Despite things looking up, we have the impending departure of our best striker, Ignatius Ganago, hanging over us like the sword of Damocles.
Would our newly tweaked 3-5-2 keep us in contention to the January transfer window and beyond?
What better way to start the new update that with a game against our local rivals who were in good form and occupying the 3rd position?
We welcomed Espanyol to the Felix Farro and as expected it was a tough game Luckily we managed to come away with all 3 points from after a low cross from left wingback Junca lead to a goal mouth scramble which Ganago managed to slot home, just before the half time whistle.
Man, I’m going to miss Ganago but there’s no way I can match his wage demands. (Recap: he’s on £25k p/w but is demanding £55k p/w).
If the game against Espanyol was a tight and cagey affair, the next game, versus Valencia at the amazing Mestalla, was quite the opposite. It was a belter of a game.
We went into half time 0-2 down after Guedes and Diakhaby gave the home team the lead. On 62 minutes, Ganago scored to make it 1-2 and then substitute striker, Tedic, absolutely walloped in a cross on 74 minutes to draw us level.
We kept on applying the pressure and our efforts were rewarded by winning a 81st minute penalty which right wingback Calavera scored. 3-2.
Just as we were time wasting like hell and trying to see the game out, Montola passed back to goalkeeper Mamardashvili. Which would’ve been fine had he not have a striker stood right next to him. Obviously, he nicked the ball away and passed to his strike partner for a tap in to an open goal. 88 mins gone. 3-3
Angry, and probably foolishly, I sent them out to attack for the remainder of the game and with more or less the last kick of the game, in the 96th minute, we won a second penalty which Calavera, just like the first one, hammered into the top corner.
Whilst still celebrating in the dressing room, we then got the news that starting midfielder Ben Romdhane, would miss 2 months with damaged knee ligaments. And a few days later, his planned replacement, Taboada also picked up an injury which would put him out for a few weeks.
Still on a high from the Valencia game, though, we were then whooped 3-1 by Athletic Bilbao, who finished 2nd last season, and followed that up with a 2-1 defeat to Rayo Vallecano.
We’d started the month brilliantly and then the last two games were AWFUL! We looked all over the place.
It was clear there was issues, and I had no idea how a tactic could go from good to horrible in a few games… but it had happened.
Sometimes, though, you just need to make one small tweak and things are ok again. After re-watching the highlights from the last 2 games I decided having a BWM in the DMC position wasn’t producing the defensive security I wanted so switched to an Anchor man.
And I LOVE it.
I’ve never used the anchor man role before and I have no idea how I coped so long without it!
Anyway, back to the season.
We started with a relatively simple 2-1 win over Celta Vigo and then beat bottom placed Real Valladolid, 2-0.
After dominating Cadiz, we came away with a 1-0 loss and then our (mostly) reserves beat Getafe 4-0.
From 1.7 xGA in November to 0.5 xGA in December. We looked much more solid defensively… I could begin to relax again.
What a difference an anchor man makes.
The Ganago Situation
Now we’d got to the end of December, we had to face a situation which we knew was coming. A massive 25 teams were interested in Ganago, who’d scored 6 goals and notched up 3 assists so far this season, playing mostly as a target man.
We ended up accepting bids of £10m from 8 different clubs and had identified three potential replacements:
1 – Umar Sadiq – the 6’4″ former Almeria striker who’d moved to Wolfsburg but failed to make an impact and was on the transfer list for £3.5m.
2 – Serhou Giurassy – 6’2″, strong, quick and a great finisher. He hadn’t signed a new contract with Rennes so I’d be able to sign him for a cut price £6-7m.
3 – Adolfo Gaich – the 6’3″ target man had swapped La Liga for Russia and would be available for around £8m.
We just need that Ganago sale to go through so we had some money to spend… but new teams kept bidding… and he seemingly couldn’t make his mind up… the clock is ticking…
As well as having to navigate the transfer window, we also had a tough month of fixtures ahead. Not only would be be facing Real Madrid, Levante, Sevilla and Barcelona, but we would also be playing cup games so it was a packed schedule.
Joris Gnagnon, our central defender, came demanding more money. Initially I was going to just sell him but for some reason the game only estimates his value to be around the £5m mark and I can’t get an equal replacement for that so renegotiated his contract and luckily ended up only having to give him a few grand more.
Despite the Ganago sale still not having gone through and having no transfer budget and now being slightly over the wage budget, I put a bid in for Sadiq as FC Koln had submitted a successful bid and I didn’t want to miss out on my #1 target. The bid was accepted a couple of days later but the sale STILL hadn’t gone through, so all I could offer Sadiq was £1,000 a week… bugger.
Maybe by the time the Real Madrid game had finished the transfer would go through…
Those who follow me on Twitter (ThrowingCopperFM) can follow how that game went but ultimately we went 2-0 down, pulled it back to 2-2 and were defeated when Lewandowski scored a header in the 84th minute.
A couple more days passed and Ganago still hadn’t left.
In the meantime, our #2 target, Guirassy, had signed a new contract with Rennes and rather than £6m, they now wanted £17m….
Another day passed with my hands still firmly tied, Sadiq agreed terms with FC Koln. I was furious. Not only were we his first choice, but he’s getting much less per week than I was going to offer him.
The following day the sale went through and Ganago moved to Rennes for £10m. AT LAST!
However, the good news was then met by a bitter blow: Because I was up to the wage budget, the board had concerns and slashed the amount I receive from transfers from 100% to 55%!
We were onto our 3rd choice target man, Adolfo Gaich. £8m would’ve done it but due to the board we only received £5.5m from the previous sale. No matter how I tried to spread payments and throw in additional fees, the minimum they’d accept up front was £7.5m.
Not only have we lost our best striker but we’d also missed out on all 3 of our targets to replace him.
Rather than panic buy a striker I decided to give it a few games to see how Kalimuendo, Nino, Tedic and Stuani could do, whilst looking for other option.
Our first game without Ganago was against Levante. Who needs a striker when you have Joris Gnagnon to score headers from two set pieces? Fuentes added another in injury time to give us a 3-1 win. In fairness to Levante, they were by far the better team and deserved much more.
Our backups beat Real Oviedo in the cup, 2-1 and we then faced a tough week: Sevilla and then Barcelona in 4 days…
… with two starting defenders injured, another defender (Eric Bailly) off on international duty and Romdhane not yet back after his 2 month lay off .
We absolutely peppered the Sevilla goal for the entire first half but couldn’t find a way to score and then our tired legs got the better of us and we settled for a 0-0 draw. Up next was Barcelona, another game I did live updates for on Twitter. We lost 2-0.
We were struggling up front and missed Ganago’s energy. We desperately needed a new striker.
January’s fixtures came to an end with a 2-0 win over Elche in the 3rd round of the Copa del Rey, with Kalimuendo getting on the scoresheet as well as Rhomdane who came on as sub in his first appearance back from injury.
We signed a striker!
After some more scouting and analysis, I couldn’t really decide on anyone for the Target Man role who I could either afford or who I deemed a good enough upgrade.
So, I decided to take the safety net of a loan with an optional to purchase at the end of it.
Coming in from Crystal Palace is Isidro Pitta, formerly of Huesca. He’d scored 9 goals in 33 games in La Liga before a move to the Premier League where got 7 goals in 24 games. If he can continue to get 1 goal in every 3 games for me, I’ll be very tempted to pay the £6.5m optional fee.
Truth be told, he’s not a massive improvement over Tedic, however he’s got more experience and the youngster is a little too inconsistent, so he’s gone out on loan for the rest of the season were hopefully he can develop a little more if he can get some regular football.
Pitta is short of match fitness so he’d need to be eased into the line up. We started February in 8th position against Real Sociedad who, despite being 11th, we’re 1st in the form table having won 5 games in a row.
As you’d expect it was a tough game but we eventually came away with a late 3-0 win thanks to two goals from Ben Romdhane, which sandwiched a Kalimuendo goal after a nice one-two with Pitta.
After limping out the cup in the Quarter Finals for the second year in a row, we then dominated Osasuna but only came away with a 1-0 win from a David Martinez header.
We’d have to finish the month without our starting keeper, Mamardashvili, who was sent home for 2 weeks with flu. Next up were Elche, who’d lost 4 games in a row and, like the Osasuna game, we dominated, but this time we were unable to get the breakthrough and had to settle for a 0-0 draw.
Our last game of this update is a real test. At home to Granada who are STILL top of the league and 5 points clear. As we were struggling to score in the last few games I switch the poacher to an advanced forward to see if this would give us a bit more movement and purpose up front.
It was a very even game and it took until the 76th minute when Pitta came on as sub and held off two defenders in the area before sliding a pass to Romdhane who fired into the bottom corner. The loanee striker then set up our second goal and laid on a nice assist for youngster Taboada, who’s just come on as sub for Stengs.
The advanced forward & target man combination worked well and the movement off the ball was much better.
A good month. We’d beaten the top of the league table and the top of the form table and not conceded a goal in the league. Again, god bless the anchor man.
After a tough few months where we’d lost our best striker, missed out on our top 3 transfer targets, been without Eric Bailly for a month due to international duty and had long term injuries to 2 starting players (Felipe Cruz and Ben Rhomdane) and our main backup central defender (Santiago Bueno) we’d fought through it all and at the end of February find ourselves still in touch of our end of season goals.
Highest Average Rating: Felipe Cruz (7.18)
Most Goals: Arnaud Kalimuendo (8), Calvin Stengs (6)
Most Assists: Calvin Stengs (6), Jordi Calavera (5)
I wanted to take a quick moment to report on some of the youngsters we have out on loan.
Biel Munarriz is on loan at Logrones in La Liga 2, and whilst he’s not putting up amazing stats (24 games, 1 goal, 1 assist, 6.58 AVR) he’s developing wonderfully. All being well, he’ll be around the first team next season.
Ivan Marmol is naturally a winger but we’ve insisted he play as a striker during his loan in the Primera Division Group 2. He’s not developing as quickly as Munarriz, but he’s got 7 goals and 1 assist in 24 games. Not bad for a 17-year-old.
Sergio Camino, our left winger-cum-right wingback, is also in the Primera Division Group 2 and despite not developing at all for a couple of months is now showing encouraging signs.
Striker Orri Stein Oskarsson, on loan in Denmark at Lyngby BK, is having a decent season despite not showing much development. After 13 games he’s scored 4 goals and has 2 assists with a rating of 6.99.
Our tenacious midfielder Ibrahima Kebe is having a good season in La Liga 2 with Real Zaragoza, with a 6.99 rating after 22 games where he’s completing 93% of his passes and an impressive 86% of tackles. He can play at La Liga level as I found out last season, but I loaned him out as he’d mostly be riding the bench.
Lastly, we have Thierno Ballo, also in La Liga 2 with Alcorcon. As he’s 23, I really wanted to see him kick on and develop with some regular football but he’s not really showing any growth. Despite this though he’s doing well performance-wise with 8 goals and 6 assists in 25 games. If he doesn’t develop more I can’t see him getting in the Girona squad next year so might have to be sold, which is a pity as he’s clearly got potential to get much better.
See you all next update where we’ll have finished the season and hopefully have a clearer picture about our striker situation.
Thanks for reading.
3 thoughts on “Girona FC – S4,2: January transfer window frustrations.”
Great entry to the series.. things are looking exciting for europe! The anchor man helping massively 💪🏾 Lets hope the last of fixture’s are kind to you, and you never know results go your way else, dare we dream of chsmpions league qualification
What a bloody saga with Ganago, and how cruel to come up short with the funds for the replacement. FM can be cruel sometimes.
On the brightside though Camino is coming along rather nicely.