After our impressive season we had to reinvest the money earned back into the squad, especially with European football to deal with. We received a lot of money to help add some new faces into the team and been able to use it when necessary. As for pre-season I let my assistant take control in these as I have better things to do! I don’t really take friendlies seriously just see it as a way to raise fitness and morale. We played a number of friendlies this season as we had Europa league qualification to prepare for before the league started.the most exciting friendly was against Napoli where we won 2-1 at home. As for the Europa we got paired up with Polish side Lechia which was fairly simple, during the play-off we had Bulgarian side CSKA Sofia. Which was much more of a challenge but we progressed into the group stages with relative ease. As for the Premier League we picked up two wins against Stoke and a famous win over Manchester United and one bad result against Leicester. Our Europa league group resembles something from hell, we’ve got the group of death. Italian giants Roma, Turkish team Galatasaray and Greek’s Panathinaikos. I have very little faith I’d be happy finishing third in this group. We don’t have the quality to qualify but will give it our best go.
We’ve had a nightmare with injuries this season more than 6 first team regulars have picked up knocks. This has been the worst I’ve ever experienced in such a short time period. I’ve had to invest in more players just to cover up some positions. It’s ridiculous the amount I’ve picked up from matches. Some have been training related but most of them were from matches. New signing Emanuel Mammana picked up a serious injury leaving him out for the next 4 months. Another new signing, striker Luc Castaignos picked up a torn hamstring out for 3 months. It’s been an awful time but it has allowed fringe players a chance to impress.
We secured Dele Alli on a permanent deal and couldn’t have been happier. He has proved be to a vital part of our system and his development has been rapid. Dean Elliott is a very promising centre back who has the potential to be key player for us in the future. Thomas Heurtaux was brought in to give us some more options at the back and will play a rotation / back up role. Andrea Schiavone joined us on a free after agreeing a contract with us in January. A well-rounded defensive midfielder who has impressed in his first few appearances. Luc Castaignos was another player who joined on a free, have high hopes for him but will be out of action for the next 3 months. Silvio comes from Atletico to provide cover on the full back areas, a Portuguese international he also brings experience. Marco Rojas was transfer listed and with Mark Duffy out injured and ageing I see Rojas replacing him in the near future. Daniel Bentley will be our second choice goalkeeper who takes a massive step from Southend to Premier League. Nabil Ghilas is currently on loan from Porto and will be back up, we do have an option to make is permanent if he impresses. Emanuel Mammana the young Argentine is currently our best defender and picking him up for so little is a bargain, he will miss a massive chunk of the season as he is out injured. Matthew Clarke a very promising defender who can play multiple positions was signed by our head of youth development. Looks to be the real deal might send him out on loan. Jeremy Purkiss is also a youngster with potential at only 17 years old. Another one negotiated by my head of youth. Luka Jovic was a panic buy if I’m honest. With two of my top strikers both out I needed real quality to cover up the gaps, luckily the young Serbian chose us over higher reputable clubs. The wonderkid will be a star and at 18 I can see us building this team around him.