Do you remember Stefan Andersson? I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t. Stefan was a Swedish youth player that I signed for FC Höllviken. He played pretty well at centre back considering his age (16 at the time) and I subsequently moved to make him my first signing at SC Angrense. Sadly, he never managed to break into the first team there, putting in fairly solid performances for the U19’s but not really making a case for a call up to the senior squad. He was released by Os Heróis this summer and snapped up by Sporting Ideal, a PT Championship side.
Anyway, I mention Stefan because he was the only player that I managed to bring with me from Sweden to Portugal. He was the only one that wanted to step up with me and take on a fresh challenge. This time I intend to do better. I want to bring the players I know and trust along for the ride. I want to bring in my Heróis.
I get the ball rolling just a couple of days after my arrival, moving quickly to bring in Angrense youth squad’s best player, Rodrigo Silva. Considering the money I now have at my disposal, the holding midfielder is a snip at £2.5k and becomes my first Katowice signing.
The next day I’m on the phone to Borba again. Never one to hold out for a good fee for any of his players, he snaps my hand off when I put £18k on the table for Hurley. This deal won’t be tied up so quickly though: Hurley will take a few days to decide whether he wants to leave his home nation for the first time.
I’m not really a patient man though, so while my main transfer target has a think, I wrap up a deal for Délcio Azevedo. He’d been released by Angrense and although Nowak will be my first choice Goalkeeper, Azevedo provides a solid and trusted alternative.
My first knockback comes the day after when my £16k bid for my former side’s promising striker Renato Silva is accepted, but the man himself tells me that he has no interest in relocating. I’m disappointed as we could do with a good young striker, but I wish him well all the same.
Then comes the big one. I ring Borba once again and offer a whopping £75k for Cristiano Magina. And my old employer rejects it. You bastard, Miguel. You horse’s arse. The only explanation I can think of is that for some reason his balls had been in the drawer of the desk in my old office all this time, and whilst rummaging around for spare change and forgotten possessions that day, he’d stumbled across and reattached them. This isn’t over.
But it is for now while I focus on our first pre season friendly against Frydek-Mistek, a Czech second division side. My inherited star striker Grzegorz Goncerz goes all out to prove that we don’t need CM9 and has an insane match, scoring 4 goals including a penalty, missing another penalty and getting injured. Food for thought there at least.
But anyway, if I’m gutting my beloved Angrense’s squad I may as well do it properly. An £18k bid for Kevin is lodged and accepted as we desperately need quality on the wings. Like Hurley, he’ll think about it. This isn’t going very well, is it.
On the 7th comes our second pre-season friendly against Hungarian Division III side BKV Elöre. Goncerz sits the game out after his knock against Frydek-Mistek but we still come out with the win with goals from battling midfielder Mario Gregurina and 17 year old 6’4″ striker Mariusz Stryjek. Left winger Andreja Prokic shows some promise by providing the assists for both goals, before promptly getting injured for 2 months with shin splints.
Oh, but who’s this waiting at our training facility when we return from Hungary? It’s free agent Olivier, recently released by Angrense and here to run lovingly back into my arms. We desperately need central defenders and I can’t think of anyone that I’d rather bring in to fill one of those roles.
The day after the first friendly is a big day. 2 big blows land with the news that firstly, Cristiano Magina does not want to join Katowice following my improved £90k offer, but then Renato Silva gets his wish of staying in Portugal by joining Nacional da Madeira for a fee rising to just under £17k.
I also get knocked back after a monumental £425k bid for Everton’s versatile and transfer listed forward Dominic Calvert-Lewin is accepted. I’m willing to offer a lot in an attempt to convince him to join us, but in the end he takes the biscuit. As glad as I would’ve been to bring in someone of his quality, versatility and potential, I’m not paying him 3 or 4 times as much as anyone else in the squad.
So you might be thinking that the 8th of July 2018 has been a bad day for us… But has it?
Gonçalo Reyes is in the building, ladies and gentlemen.
Another blow today. My £22k bid for the new Elano, Jeferson Paulista, is accepted but the Brazilian knocks me back, saying that he’s only been with Angrense for a few months and doesn’t want to move straight on.
Another friendly arrives and we take on another Czech second division side, Olomouc – Holice. Worryingly, it’s quite an even game, but Goncerz is back in the side to grab us a draw.
DCL has moved, but not to us. Barnsley have picked up a fine player there, but in the end it’s probably a good thing I didn’t blow the whole budget on him isn’t it.
Our fourth friendly pits us against Odra Opole, a Polish second division side, in our 4th consecutive away friendly match. This time, young secondary striker Michael Tarnowski gets the only goal and secures the win.
The good news is that Kevin has arrived! Perhaps swayed by Hurley, Olivier, Rodrigo and Délcio, perhaps not, but my God it’s good to have him. Our front line suddenly looks a lot, lot better.
The bad news is that Kevin’s arrival has prompted an uncomfortable line of questioning from our Chairman Wojciech Cygan, who hired me under a couple of assumptions: That I would save GieKSa from relegation, that I would keep our Director of Football, Dariusz Motala, in place, and that I would sign high profile players. So far I’ve only signed 5 players from a former Portuguese Championship side, so he’s not best pleased.
We need a ringer. We need a big name. A superstar that’ll sell shirts and set Polish tongues wagging. It’s safe to assume that we don’t have the pulling power or financial backing to attract a World Class name like Messi, Ronaldo or Neymar, so who’s on the next level down? The just-about-World-Class players like Aguero and Kane are out of reach too. So are the incredibly good players. And the really good players. And the fairly good players. And the pretty decent players.
Oh shit, who can we actually attract?
If there’s one thing that I’ve always said about Alan Hutton, it’s that he’s a real class act. A hard working, no nonsense, old fashioned defender. And that’s what we really need isn’t it. In many ways, I think I’d turn down the opportunity to sign one of these up-their-own-arse mercenaries like Sissoko or Lukaku. I’d say: “No way Romelu, I need someone who’s willing to rip out his own heart and throw it in front of the ball to save us a goal if he needs to. I need a professional. A solid, dependable Glaswegian who’ll lead by example and kick seven bells out of far more skilful players in order to scrape us a point.”
So yes, I’ve brought in the man known in some circles as “The Scottish Tony Hibbert”. And the good news is that the signing of a former Tottenham and Aston Villa stalwart has appeased Wojciech’s thirst for star power.
The bad news is that at 33 years old and at a price of £43k, Wojciech doesn’t seem to see value for money in the Hutton deal. There’s no pleasing some people is there?
Our final friendly is the only one that I actually arranged and it’s going to be great. My first time overseeing a match in our home stadium, Stadion GKS Katowice, and we’re taking on David Moyes’ Premier League Sunderland side. Overall, I come away extremely pleased. In what turns out to be a very even match, Victor Anichebe opens the scoring on the hour, but Goncerz gets the decisive equaliser 7 minutes from time.
Fresh from what I am adamant is a massive success for the club, I lodge a loan bid with Bournemouth for Ben Whitfield, a skilful, nippy and versatile young winger that’s spent pre-season on trial with us and impressed.
While we wait for Ben to decide whether he wants to join us, I go out and bring in another familiar face to our U18’s backroom staff. Maybe my decision is partly driven by sentiment, but a lifelong hero of mine, Leon Osman, has a great deal of potential as a youth coach so I bring him in.
Ben Whitfield is flying to Poland! To join Zagłebie Sosnowiec, our local rivals. He’ll regret that when we come up against Zagłebie and Alan Hutton starts breaking ankles.
Behind the scenes, I’ve also completely revamped Katowice’s backroom team from this:
I’m not done on the transfer front, although we’re almost out of funds. We’ve got our trusty backup Goalie, we’ve got both of our centre backs (If Hutton can hold his own there against Sunderland he should be fine in the Lotto Ekstraklasa), we’ve got Hurley, who can provide the passes while Bart does the midfield dirty work, and we’ve got Kevin in on the left wing. So we only really need another winger and a backup striker. I’m lining up a couple of loan signings to provide the finishing touches, but they’ll have to wait. It’s time to start our League Campaign, and we begin our Season against Jagiellonia, who qualified for the Europa League last Season.
Here we go, GieKSa.
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