Yeah, we are there already – a Saturday in front of DAZN watching the Premier League football, with a little bit of Jeff Stelling and Soccer Saturday thrown in for good measure, and the CPL 2020 season is ticked off.
It really didn’t take long at all once all the structures were in place for the season – and the fact we ended up playing eleven matches, not seven, should tell those of you that are paying attention that we got as far as the Island Games Grand Final.
The speed in which the truncated first season has passed has thrown me slightly, as there is quite a bit to update but also, not that much – if that makes any sense at all (and I am perfectly aware it doesn’t).
A recap of the situation heading into the tournament – Atletico Ottawa, managed by me, were predicted to finish bottom of the table after each team played each other once. This would mean we would not qualify for the next group stage, where the top four played each other once more and then the top two played in a final.
Well, we blew those predictions wide apart.
Decent, right? Especially given that Forge FC finished bottom of the pile.
We then went unbeaten in the next group stage, before playing York9 in the final.
Given we’d smashed them 2-0 a couple of games previously, to lose the final 1-0 from a set-piece was gutting. In our defence, though – our injury list at that point was shocking. We went into the final without our two experienced shadow strikers and the player who ended up winning the overall tournament best player and young player award – out 18-year-old on-loan CB, Facchineri.
But, I don’t want or need to get too caught up in the ins and outs of the season – 2020 was a bit of a free hit for us to get the structures in place that we wanted as we look to build out a club that can achieve long term, sustainable success. Boring, right?
So, let’s do this properly – a quick whistle-stop tour of each department and grade ourselves based on how it’s gone so far.
Tactics – B+
At some point, I must download some of the goals we scored as a few of them were pure strikerless gold. It is safe to say that when it clicks, the Argentine Strikerless for FM21 (until full release kneecaps it, no doubt) is poetry. We had a 6-2 against Forge FC and a 5-2 against Cavalry, genuinely beautiful performances. And, we had to do a lot of it with players playing out of position.
Defensively, there were a couple of games we should have closed out but what the hell. People thought we’d come last.
In summary, this way of playing seems to work for us and gives the club a clear identity.
Staff – C+
This grade isn’t so much for the work they did, but more about me and how well I have recruited. We still have a very strong Spanish core of staff, which is fine – they all speak enough English now having been on intensive language courses. They are all working towards their next coaching qualification where relevant and as time has progressed I’ve been able to add in a few more as the board began to trust me.
Part of the ongoing work here is to keep this current group on shorter contracts so it will be easier and cheaper to replace with better people as and when they become available and realistic to us.
Training – B
I don’t think for a second our injury issues were to do with the training we do – I’ve seen enough progress in the players for it to be worth a few injuries here and there. I do actually think we were unlucky.
I’ll use Brandon John as our example.
This screenshot doesn’t do it justice as we are just approaching the first preseason match of 2021 and they’ve only been back in training for two weeks after three months off, but you can see the progress charted from August into early November. If we can see those improvements consistently over the squad over a full year in 2021, I’ll be happy.
Scouting – A-
With the tools available to us right now, I cannot fault our scouting. If it’s Canadian and got potential, we have probably had a look.
Creative ways we have scouted have been the following;
- Checking out every Canadian MLS side for loans – didn’t produce any results, but worth it
- Checking out the Canadian National U20 side to (a) see who is in there and decent and (b) learn what other hidden clubs might be generating good talent. This led me to learn about all the Academy sides – and we’ve picked a couple of good players for this coming season
- Scouting the USA market for Canadians playing in America
This has generated several quality leads for us.
Recruitment – B
This recruitment score is based off players signed in 2020 that had an impact for us in the 2020 season – it doesn’t cover the recruitment we have done moving into 2021 which will be covered in the next post.
I now realise that I should have taken some screenshots of their stats end-of-season as it’s moved into 2021! But, we signed three players on free transfers last season: Vitor Loturi and Adam Daniels as defensive midfielders, and Glenn Muenkat as a shadow striker.
Loturi was a very capable DM option, playing nine matches at an average rating of 6.77
Daniels played as our creative playmaker in the DM slot – playing all 11 matches with six assists, one goal and an average rating of 6.97. He’s 22 and now worth £100K.
Muenkat was a revelation – but only off the bench. In 10 matches, he scored seven goals. Yet each of those seven were scored when he came on as sub. Random. So random, I kept him on the bench for the final to do exactly that and, of course, he didn’t. Standard.
The lesson from this review is that I needed to take more screenshots as soon as the season finished – that will be better next time.
Moving into 2021, there’s been a fair bit of squad churn – 8 out, 10 in. Of the 10 departures, it was only Ben Fisk I would have liked to have kept, but his wage demands were excessive.
The net benefit of the churn is that the average age of the squad is now down and the wage bill per week has reduced by approximately £2500 a week and is now £6700.
Players I am hoping to have an impact this season are;
Keesean joins us having been released by Montreal Impact – he can play across the back four, but I see him alongside Johnno in the middle. We need to get a bit more pace out of the kid, ideally.
I would expect this kid to be pushing him for a spot, though.
Green joins us from HFX and is probably a better physical option at CB, so we shall see during preseason.
Nurse is a product of our creative scouting approach – I found him at Calgary Foothills after noticing a few of their squad were in the Canadian U20 set up – Nurse was injured at the time. He is our back-up LB this season, I’d imagine – but Neufville is one I am hoping to be able to sell on at some point this year, so Nurse would then step up. Again, get some pace lad.
Alessandro was released by Pacific which, frankly, was surprising. He has a lot of good attributes and I think will be a starter in midfield.
Our 2021 preseason kicks off in seven days time with a glamour match against Atletico de Madrid – one of the perks of being owned by them, I guess.
Then we move into the Spring Season – and it is a straight race to the top. The top side after we’ve played everyone home and away is in the final – and they will play the winner of the fall season. The winner of the final qualifies for the CONCACAF Champions League.
I’m presuming we’ll also be in the Amway Canadian Championship – basically the FA Cup in Canada that also has the MLS sides in it and the MLS sides always win. That could be fun.
My targets for 2021 are to finish in the top three in both the Spring and the Fall seasons. For context, we are still 500/1 outsiders to win the Spring season – Cavalry are 1/10?!
The next update will be better, I promise – I’ll remember to take screenshots and everything.
Speak soon x