Conquering Croatia – #1.2 – Adapt & Overcome

Welcome back one and all, here we are with the season one finale for HNK Gorica and of course the manager – Yves Lemaire. The Frenchman made a positive start leading up to the World Cup break (which Germany won in game?!), finding the team unbeaten and dancing with Dinamo Zagreb at the top.

Today, it will be seen if the break proved costly as the second half of the season is completed, along with the winter transfer window and of the youth intake. There will be plenty of other areas in the club to look at as well, make sure you catch yourself up on the last instalment and apart from that, let’s get going!

Youth Intake 2022/23

Now, look what we have here! An excellent intake at HNK Gorica! All the way through FM22, it was poor after poor intake but this is just what the club needs for the future!

This is the pick of the bunch but all of the ‘Good Talents’ were also signed. All three Elite Talents look promising and Yves Lemaire will personally take care of their development whilst they are in the U19s squad.

January Transfer Window 2022/23

Before the transfer outgoings and incomings are seen, Yves Lemaire made it clear to the board who he considered part of his squad. Yves even arranged the meeting as he starts to show shades of the man everyone saw at GOAL FC. As Mr. Lemaire enters the boardroom, he lays down his squad plan on the table.

“Let’s cut to it, this is the squad of current players here who will complete the season pending any signings.” Our man meant business.

Board member Nenad Crnko looked puzzled...”There are some players who were signed in the summer missing here?”

Yves looked directly that Crnko and stated “If you can’t see certain names, then they are not good enough for what I want to do here.”

Crnko then turned very stern. “I tell you what Lemaire, sell who you need in January and replace as you wish, this is all on you, not the board. If it goes wrong, expect to hear from us.”

The scare tactic didn’t phase Yves, he nodded and said “Understood, thanks for your time.” Yves left the room and went straight to his office to get to work on the transfer window.

Outgoings

A few outs that concern the first team and we’ll start with centre midfielder Joey Suk, who was a popular figure within the squad. Suk approached Yves explaining he wanted to return to his home land which is Holland. Yves understood this and granted that Suk could find a transfer home.

Now this transfer took place in September but that wasn’t the problem, Joey Suk was sold to Baniyas (fee rising to a potential £86k)…a club in the U.A.E. All bids were accepted including from Dutch teams but like most of football these days, I guess money talks!

Attacking midfielder Paulius Golubickas was loaned to Lviv for the rest of the season after failing to impress Yves in matches and ultimately in training, constantly popping up as a poor performer. Wallace was sold to CSA (Brazil) for £33k as he did not fit in with the tactics used meaning there was no place in the team for him.

Incomings

Two signings were made bolstering the midfield, starting with the signing of Taylan Duman from FC Nurnberg £33.5k. Duman has great versatility in midfield, also has the capability to play in more defensive or advanced roles as well. The second signing was young defensive midfielder Rokas Pukstas, who arrives on loan from Hajduk Split. The defensive midfield area lacked depth in quality and Pukstas will help cover that until the summer window.

Supersport HNL 2022/23

January 2023

The break was over and it was time to get back to business with 6 games in January to get going.

A terrible month. The form was like when you’re in heavy traffic and the traffic lights barely turn green…or in this case they didn’t turn green at all. The team looked distant from each other and very much off the pace, only scoring 3 goals in 6 games.

In Yves’ mind was the comments made by the board stating that if things go wrong it is purely on him, this caused for change…he spent some long nights in his office reviewing data to see where the failings were before designing the next tactic.

Aside from the team, one thing I would suggest paying attention to is the recent form analysis. This will show you both positives & negatives, with the negatives showing struggling players and areas of the pitch which could make all the difference.

The squad were called into a team meeting at the end of January where Yves wanted to make his message clear.

“Lads, what is the difference between now and October? Have we forgot how to play football?! Let me tell you something, we are not going to be a team happy with midtable every season! The tactic will change and you all must embrace it because it needs to get us going again immediately. Look at it, learn it and show me you can play it in our next match.”

The first time the squad felt the wrath of Yves Lemaire, the no nonsense manager was back as he strives for greatness. It was a switch to 4-2-3-1, playing at pace and still with a counter attacking objective.

February – May 2023

Will fortunes change or will the second half of the season prove turbulent?

Thankfully things turned around for the team, only dropping points on 4 occasions, showing more consistently and arguably better played football than what was seen in the early parts of the season, under the 4-3-3 formation.

This kept the team in the fight for European football, the league title was a step or two in the distance but a top 4 finish would be something to build on.

Third it was for Yves Lemaire’s first season which is a record high finish for the club (formerly fifth) and it also means UEFA Europa Conference football next season, qualification round depending. A good recovery from the team but with 12 draws, if some of these can be turned into wins then that should drive the team closer to Dinamo Zagreb.

SuperSport Superkup 2022/23

After advancing to the quarter finals, it was Dinamo Zagreb up next which came shortly after January’s poor form.

It wasn’t meant to be on the night, the team played generally well however, Dinamo Zagreb were just too strong. Yves and the team will go again next season as this cup proves a good chance for silverware.

End of Season Review 2022/23

There was more good news as well as the U19s squad lift the title in their league, the future could be bright!

Then something amazing and unexpected happened. Moussa Wague had made it clear earlier in the season that he would be off after the season. Wague was on £9.25k a week which was massive compared to other players, however the ex-Barcelona right back agreed a massive pay cut to stick around!

6k wage drop a week to stick around!

Finances

The club are clearly struggling to stay profitable off of the league alone, being in Europe will definitely help depending on the team’s progression. Ideally the group stage has to be the minimum to allow the club to recover the finances.

With this, despite the team’s achievement of third place, the lack of finances meant for not much room to work with in the upcoming transfer window.

What’s Next?

It will be time to embark on season 2 as Yves Lemaire will try to mould the squad more into his style of play with his preferred type of players. Of course, the journey into the Europa Conference will be something to keep an eye on as well as progress in the league, with our manager looking to build on this season’s finish.

FMGEmperor FMFM Beth, FM Zane have all dropped FM23 blogs, click on their names to view their latest work! Also new to the team Messiah FM has got himself going with his first ever blog, make sure you check it out!

Thanks all for taking the time read, it was an enjoyable first season and I’m looking forward to cracking on with season 2. Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and festive period! Take care out there.

DP-FM’s Scott

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