Welcome back guys to the second part of this new short series, where I have taken control of Maltese Premier League side Hamrun Spartans. Make sure you check out Part 1 for some background and context on why this save was chosen.
In this one, it’s all about getting stuck into the first few months of the competitive season and also viewing the usual pre-season antics like friendly matches and of course transfers. The season preview chart will also be viewed to see where Hamrun are expected to finish but it also gives a good indication of who the challenging teams will be.
One mistake from me when setting up the save, I forgot to change the start date so I ended up starting in late pre-season on the 27th July. I like to have a full pre-season like the majority of us so put myself up against it in terms of getting the team ready and getting players in but we crack on!
On the back of that, we only had 3 friendlies starting with an intra-squad friendly. I don’t usually do these but it was a good chance to look at the full squad. The second game was against Austrian tier two side FC Liefering, a red bull owned team that some may not know about – they act as a u21s feeder to RB Salzburg and because of this, they are ineligible for promotion to the top tier of Austrian football. This one ended 1-1 with trialist Ebrima Sohna getting the goal.
The last friendly was against fellow Maltese Premier League side Tarxien Rainbows and it was an impressive 4-0 win. The trialists were at it again with all the goals, striker Zied Soussi got one and midfielder Ebrima Sohna grabbed a hattrick! You’re probably thinking get him in the team but issues with contract negotiations are stopping us from signing Sohna at this time.
As there wasn’t much space in the wage budget, I had to be smart with transfers. The club has a strange mix of full time and part time players despite being at semi pro status. I did ask the board to go professional but I felt as if they laughed at me and shut me down with an immediate no, this could cause issues financially further down the road however.
This left me with scouring the free agent market as my new scouting team got accustomed to Hamrun life. It was all about getting depth in and trying to improve what was viewed as problematic areas within the squad.
First signing was experienced centre back Nikola Vukanac who had previously spent many years at fellow Maltese side Birkirkana. Very good centre back for this league and even holds a good bit of pace for a 34 year old! Next up is a name you may recognise from pre-season, striker Zied Soussi signed on a free after a successful trial period. Soussi will provide cover for Doumbia and Sasere who are our starters up front.
The last signing was goalkeeper Filippo Mascagni who is actually an ex-Hamrun player but the GK department needs improving and it still does, but there wasn’t much quality within the free agent market so it’s something I’ll continue to look for. Mascagni is better than what we’ve already got at least.
To confirm, there were no outgoings this summer as I don’t really have the squad depth to be letting players go!
Before we dive into the competitive fixtures, let’s see what the media prediction of us in the league.
Well, no pressure! Clear favourites and I guess so we should be with players like Seydou Doumbia & Claude Dielna.
Teams like Valletta & Floriana are big deals in Malta both winning 25+ titles in their history, with Balzan an upcoming team who have been looking for their first title in recent seasons.
Sliema Wanderers & Hibernians also hold some standing within Maltese football but look to be in a period of transition as they look to fight against the odds and get themselves to the better areas of the table.
It should be a good challenge though regardless of what is expected of us, I’m not expecting an easy ride!
It is time my friends, lets crack on with some competitive fixtures on this sunny island. What I will say fixture wise, the opening months the games are drip-fed so there will be some friendlies in the gap weeks.
The first game of the season is against Gzira United and what a start it was with an empathic 4-1 away win! A day for the wingers as Joseph Mbong got us going and left winger Dodo grabbing brace, new centre back Nikola Vukanac got a debut goal amongst it all too!
The second match was against Mosta, a team I know absolutely nothing about but they gave us a good contest as we narrowly beat them 1-0. Winger Dodo carried on his goal scoring form grabbing the winner, in what wraps up the August lead fixtures.
A couple of friendlies took place against some lower league sides and yeah let’s say the results speak for themselves!
Before we proceed with the September league fixtures, there was a new face in the door in Jens Wemmer. A veteran full back who has experience in basically all tiers of Germany, a couple of seasons in Greece and spent last season with Hibernians in this league. Wemmer will be back up for the right back position this season.
Back to the games though and there was two more fixtures to go in September, as I looked to carry on the early form as a great start obviously can go along way when it comes to the gritty parts of the season.
Another away game to Lija Athletic and the goals kept rolling with a 4-0 victory. Versatile midfielder Matthew Guillaumier (also known as Gulli) got us going and then the man you’ve all been waiting for Seydou Doumbia grabs a brace. Midfielder Juan Corbalan rounded off the scoring.
Finally a home match and it was against upcomers Balzan but this one went in our favour with a 3-1 win. My main man Seydou Doumbia was at it again with another brace and on loan wing back Michele Laraspata got his first goal for the club too.
A good first four games with the goals rolling however, there is a long way to go in this season.
Some news for October as it seems in Malta they follow the Spanish league vibes of club president elections and it was coming to the time of electing a president for Hamrun Spartans. At this point, I’m not too fussed about this but the club needs financial backing for sure.
Also the youth intake projection came in but it’s fair to say, I don’t think any world beaters will come out of this one!
The month started with a friendly as the team had a two week gap, this was more for keeping some match fitness in the legs.
My side entered the Maltese FA Trophy in the second round and our opponents – Dingli Swallows (I’m sure there’s a joke to be had there) who are in the third tier. It was only a 1-0 win thanks to Zied Soussi but looking at the stats, how the hell did we not steam roll them?!
At least I didn’t get FM’d in this match at least!
Next was the team that was faced in pre-season – Tarxien Rainbows. It was another positive result as a Dodo brace and a Seydou Doumbia strike gave us a decent 3-0 away victory in this one.
Then a match against a more challenging team in Valletta but the boys had to do some injury time madness in a 1-1 draw. After Valletta took an early first half lead, Hamrun continuously knocked on the door but centre back Darko Gojkovic got up highest after a deep free kick to head home in the 92nd minute – a very nervy watch!
Then in the game after, my side had to salvage another draw against Sta Lucia which ended 1-1. Sta Lucia took the lead moments before half time and despite having chances of our own, it took a dubious penalty decision to allow Seydou Doumbia to equalise…is the form starting to wobble? I hope not!
As we proceeded into November, I continued to use the free agency market in signing Senegalese striker Amadou Samb. The 32 year old is well known in Malta and Serie C level in Italy, this is provide competition to starting striker Franklin Sasere who hasn’t scored so far this season.
Into the results and it was a split month with the third round of the FA trophy, before a gap filled with friendlies before going to league action.
The FA trophy match was against BOV Amateur League (third tier) side Birzebbuga which is actually the place I stayed in when I toured Malta! But this time I went there to do the business and we done that indeed with a 5-1 win. An early brace from young midfielder Blas Cittadini before Zied Soussi grabbed himself a goal. And would you believe after the signing of Samb, Franklin Sasere starts scoring getting two goals in the process!
A couple of friendlies took place to keep some fire in the squad’s legs, nothing unexpected happening in either game.
Back in the league to finish the month and the draw run continues sharing the points with Zejtun Corinthians at 1-1. For a third league game in a row the boys have had to save a point late as the chance conversion struggles continue, again Seydou Doumbia being my hero – this league doesn’t deserve him!
Speaking of the league not deserving Doumbia, the man knows it himself as he drops this killer blow to club…
Doumbia won’t be sticking around even though this is a one season save, it’s quite clear this season is to put himself in the shop window but at the same time I completely get it!
So we’re lying in third after the 3 draws in a row but Hamrun are the only unbeaten team in the league. It’s very close points wise as 6th is only 3 points off of top so the plan is to get some winning momentum back in the coming months and see if we can get a cushion going at the top.
So up next is the winter period months of course where the fixture list finally begins to pick up each month. Of course there is the transfer window but again we can only rely on free agents due to the mess of the financial situation, which I will cover in more depth in part 3.
Whilst you are exploring the DP-FM site, go take a look at Louis’ (Co-blogger/creator of DP-FM) challenge where he is embarking on his series ‘Unemployed, Unskilled & Inexperienced’ which is currently on season 10. This entails Louis starting from the bottom of his management career with no coaching badges and low attributes to add to the fun!
To go from the start – https://dpfmblog.com/2020/12/21/unemployed-unskilled-inexperienced-season-1-episode-1/
Or to go from the current season – https://dpfmblog.com/2021/05/24/unemployed-unskilled-inexperienced-s10-ep-1-a-decade-in/
Hope you’re enjoying this save so far and the concept, it’s nice to be away from the leagues I’m used to! Take care all and part 3 should be about in the next week or so 🙂