Welcome to the season 1 blog for “All or Nothing” KAC Marrakech. If you missed the intro blog, then go and check it out HERE.
In today’s blog, we will be covering the season as a whole and show you the dramas which I experienced with my first time of managing in Africa.
Here is the league rules for the 2nd division in Morocco. The main thing to note here is the limit on foreign players that we can sign, so as per the introduction, its key we look to develop homegrown players firstly. Also, the top 2 teams go up, so it will be important to build a good side if the team are to go up in the first season!
Youssef initially has 1 year with the club to work with the below objectives. The board have said they would be happy with a top 4 finish for the first season, which after all the bad form the team have had, is a reasonable aim. Of course Youssef would want to go up at the first time of asking but for now stability is the key before looking up.
Youssef had come in with NO backroom team at all. With him coming fresh into the job, without much previous experience, he had to look in his phone contact list to see who could come in and help the team out for the season ahead. The board had sacked all the working staff at the club after a relationship with the former manager went sour.
Hadji firstly called up his best friend Younes, who he went to university with in Spain back in the day. Younes also does not have club experience but has been studying the game in high detail from the time the two guys met up.
Younes, had some contacts of ex-players who helped fill up the coaching side and then the Director of Football, Tarik was more of a mentor to the two guys post-University as they went on to study football in more detail. Tarik was able to fill all the rest of the positions up at the club and brought in some scouts that he trusts. Basically, the backroom staff has been built purely by friends or associates, rather than formal approaches.
Youssef had inherited an older side compared to the rest of the league and also players who are on silly wages for the league. Soon as Youssef reviewed the players wages, he was in shock. It looks like the previous manager had just rinsed the accounts dry and had no consideration of wage structure and financial stability.
Youssef’s first task was to clear up the wages as much as possible and build a side for the season ahead, especially as the board were not willing to provide any money to help bring in fresh faces. On the positive note, all the players are only on a 1 year deal, so Youssef was not worrying too much but straight away noticed that the team lacked quality and hence the previous struggle.
Following on from the above, Youssef managed to move along some players. The below is a shot from the end of the season, hence you will see some surprising names in the OUT section but we will come onto that soon.
In terms of IN’s, as mentioned in the introduction, the transfer business model would be done purely by the scouting team who would present their findings to the boss. Also, the DOF was on hand to help where needed but for this particular model, there will be no player searches or self-finds from the boss.
Quite a few names to go through but here were the key standouts from the start of the window, which some may be familiar to you:
- Mastour – The scouts wasted no time in finding a super star. The former AC Millan player, was once labelled a wonderkid and the next big thing from Morocco however, due to many reasons he slid out the radar. We managed to convince the young man to come to us on a non contractual basis, just to get some game time in and his preference was to move back to Italy eventually, so we agreed to let him go when the time comes.
- Diomande – Another good pick from the scouts, a player who has huge potential according to the scouting department. We took a hit on it and the assistant stated that he is a potential 5 star, so happy with that one.
- Maru – This guy is a former Real Madrid player, another one who was tipped to have a bright future however, fell in the same place as Mastour. The scouts were not to keen on him as a player overall however, the DOF suggested that we try to work with the player and give him a chance, so we did.
- Garnier– The DOF suggested that we give this veteran a chance, the Argentinian had moved to Morocco after his time in his native country came to an end and the 40 year old would come in as more of a leader rather than a star player.
We initially went with the below, which was inspired from the days where Youssef was studying Pep’s Barcelona.
However, we had a bad patch, which we will come onto shortly and changes were required. Therefore, Youssef decided to go with the below which he had implemented in the Moroccan youth teams which worked well.
Pre season was great overall. Some encouraging performances and a chance to take a look at the newer players especially who were initially trailed before they were signed up. Some of the opposition were teams in the leagues below however the likes of Safi & Rabat were from the league above and the results were not too bad, at least the performance was good!
So, the initial tactic was used for the first few months. As we can see, the season had started well but then 3 losses on the bounce had Youssef thinking and hence the switch in tactics. From here, we can see that the team turned the form around big time, scoring 13 goals in just 2 games which were incredible!
Coming into the 2nd half of the season, form continued to flow well, having a great unbeaten run for some time. At the end of Feb, RAC Casablanca was way ahead in 1st and KAC was sitting in 4th after dropping points after being 2nd.
The season ended on a high however, there was a reason for the points dropped in the 2nd part of the season!
With having players on non contracts, there is always a risk that these players can be picked up at any time, especially when they are performing well. 4 of our key players, who were actually our new signings were snapped up by clubs and there was nothing we could do to compete with the offers.
Mastour had his dream move to Italy again, which as mentioned we did not want to stand in the way off. All the players had played a huge role in the club such as, Kassi who was our top scorer, Mastour our assist king and the other 2 guys also played a major role in the team. This was a huge loss and at this stage was the team done in terms of going up in the first season, as the team otherwise lacked quality.
We had a hard time replacing these players and with the transfer window restrictions, we were only able to snap up this young kid from the lower leagues, who the scouts had said had huge promise. So, we gambled on a 16 year old to make an impact after the loss of 4 star players! Things got tough and we just had to see the season out some how, as at times we could not even fill our bench.
WE DID IT! Somehow, we managed to clinch promotion after the team in 3rd had dropped points which we took advantage off. Youssef was very surprised that promotion was achieved especially which how the squad was shaping up after the losses and the team had to work hard to see out the season and get over the finishing line!
The youth intake provided some great potential players for the future which Youssef will want to work with next season for sure.
The board were very happy with the instant impact and therefore, renewed Youssef’s contract for another season!
As mentioned a few times, the team in Youssef’s option are not good enough but with the hard work put in, the team managed to get over the line and into the 1st division. Youssef has already had a chat with the backroom team and to start gathering reports on players from all positions, as he is looking to have his own team in the top division.
Below is the overall team which ended season 1. The main issue was a lack of central defenders at the club and it was very hard to get any in during the season, so the central defence was mostly made from CDM’s. Also, there was a lot of inconsistent performances from most of the side overall and Youssef does prefer to work with a younger group of players, which will see most of the current side go and free up a lot of the wages for a rebuild.
Khalis was the best player for Youssef over the season, keeping the backline strong and everyone in check. He will be a part of the plans next season for sure along with maybe, El Haki, who socred 14 goals over the season and stepped up when the star players had left.
That wraps up season 1! A lot of dramas, big signings, players leaving and getting promotion with a half decent side. Next season, the team will be planning on ensuring they stay up in the first division which will be highly competitive with some quality teams. For Youssef, survival is key and the financial benefit is much greater for the club if they stay up, so this is key! Youssef is excited to plan pre-season and work with his scouting team on new arrivals as it sets to be a busy time at the club!