Welcome back, footy nerds. If you’re just joining, the previous installment is available here, and the first installment in the series is available here.

Just after the season ended, Kyril dropped by to congratulate himself for his fine running of the club.

We no longer have the lowest wage bill in the league, but we do have the best wages to turnover ratio. Yay, I guess. The real story here, in my opinion, is how poorly Kyril is doing with sponsorship deals. After three seasons of solid mid-table results, shouldn’t we be able to shill more pasties and used cars?

Our matchday and ticket revenue is actually pretty decent. You’re welcome, Kyril. I will take significant credit for getting bums into seats every other Saturday.

As the numbers above hinted, we’re doing well financially. This is the June 1 update–before all our transfer spending goes through for the deals I arranged in the last update. It’ll be interesting to see how much we make back as I jettison some dead wood and potentially lose a couple important players if the big clubs come hunting.

Our new transfer record! I’m happy to have him join. He’ll slot straight into our backline.

Darcey came by with a note about our new record spending. Darcey, talk to me in September. We’ve got a lot of summer left.

I’d say this is the rich getting richer, but 161m is a lot of money, even for Manchester City. This guy is so amazing, though. They did eventually get him, and I’m dreading facing him in the league next season.

Don’t worry about Manchester City, though. They also signed one of my centerback targets.

Yet again, no one was offering on this guy, but as soon as our offer went in, the biggest clubs in Europe swooped in.

Let’s talk about some good news aka spring cleaning in Sunderland. I moved multiple players out of the club over the course of the summer.

We signed Marcus on a free. He left for 17m. Granted, we’re going to pay 250k of his wages over the next year, but that’s still a fantastic profit.

You may or may not remember Blair Sellars. I barely remember Blair Sellars. He’s a homegrown player from the academy who was never remotely going to be good enough for the first team. Somehow I’ve managed to ship him to Nottingham Forest for 1.7m.

You certainly remember Obren Cikic, one of our first nearly-wonderkids. He was a good player for us for three seasons, but we outgrew him. He leaves a much better player than when he joined, but he’s still a weird collection of attributes. Not enough pace to be a winger, not quite good enough to fit into our midfield as a destroyer. We brought him in for 1.7m and we sold him in a deal that should get very near the 25m max.

Brad Laws was our most promising academy player, but he never quite hit the level I feel we need for a starting striker.

Physically he’s excellent, mentally he’s good, and technically he’s below par. (I’ve said all this before, but it’s still true six months later.) If his finishing or dribbling had been a bit better, he could have been a good rotation player for us. Salzburg have offered us a deal that could reach 24m, which I considered to be good for someone of Brad’s level (the Championship, basically).

Sima’s transfer was the conclusion of last summer’s fiasco. I tried to sell him last summer, but I couldn’t find a buyer at the price I wanted, then he threw a fit about me selling him and I promised I would keep him. Well, it turns out that promise meant I’d keep him for last summer, the winter transfer window, and THIS transfer window. I was willing to let him stay around last autumn, but I was annoyed about not selling him in January. I decided to just move him on this summer and damn the consequences. After he spent the season in the U23s, he had no real stature within the team, so moving him didn’t affect morale. I only managed 7.25m, which was about 1/4 of what I was wanting last year. He’s basically the same player he was when we had 35m offers for him a few seasons ago, and he’s only 26. I suppose that’s proof that form really matters when selling.

Scott Forbes was another homegrown player who was never going to quite be good enough. A couple years ago he was my biggest hope for an academy player that might make the first team. We outpaced his potential, unfortunately. I shipped him off to Scotland for a fee that should reach 5.5m.

Eddy Laenan joined us for 1.7m in 2024. He went on loan for a couple seasons, and he’s now off to Blackburn Rovers for 10m spread over three years. He isn’t a bad player, but once again he’s not the level I feel like we need if we’re going to compete at the top of the Premier League.

Kevin Lacroix was another nearly-wonderkid that didn’t quite pan out. He joined us for 2.3m in 2024, and three years on he’s only made 12 appearances in our first team. I had hoped that he’d turn into a good fullback, but the 5 star potential in 2024 has turned into 3 star potential in 2027 and only 2 star current ability. He’s much worse than Neco and Victor Fernandez, and only his crossing separates him from our backup centerback Jordan Carlin. I was hoping to get about 10m for him earlier in the window, but I’ve settled for 6m and sent him to Sheffield Wednesday, where he’ll likely do a fine job in the Championship.

Huh. I don’t recall ever seeing this before. With only 1 star potential ability, I can’t say I really mind, either.

And then the big one.

I don’t like this, but he had 1 year left on his contract and he had no interest in signing a new deal. I managed to negotiate City to 44m, but I feel like it should have been 60+. Most of the money will be paid installments, which is pretty typical for my outgoing deals. I don’t need the money today, and I’d rather have more money over the longer-term.

Farrell wasn’t happy, either, but he didn’t want to make anything of it. I don’t blame him.

At the end of the day, I could live without Steele. We have Dragic, Goce (the new WB/L signing from last winter who has just arrived with a busted knee), and Nilson on the left. We have Neco and Victor Fernandez on the right. Plus we have multiple centerbacks who can step out wide and play as decent fullbacks if truly needed.

For incoming news, I found us a solid backup keeper in France.

Wilson is pretty decent in general, and he was willing to come in as backup to Adan Tirado. I’ll play him in the cups. He cost 1.7m, and he has excellent potential, so I’m feeling pretty pleased with the business. Yeah, I’d like someone with a bit more aerial reach, command of the area, and strength, but he’s by far the best backup we’ve ever had, and a backup keeper was a real position of need.

And then I did this:

Kevin freakin De Bruyne was released on a free, and I picked him up. He wasn’t exactly cheap with 83k a week wages plus a 1.1m in loyalty bonus, but it’s a 1 season deal, and I thought having an actual Professional midfielder around to mentor some of these wonderkids would be a good plan. He can play in the Conference League and just stand around as an Enganche until we need him to take set pieces.

Already putting the man to work.

Our first match of the season was away at Liverpool. I didn’t expect much from what was probably the most difficult match we’ll face over the next 10 months, but it was actually the best time to face them. My squad should have better cohesion than theirs given our superior pre-season compared to the computer.

We won 4-3.

Not gonna lie, I thought maybe this could be our season. Perhaps we were finally turning the corner and catching up to the big boys. We immediately drew to Bournemouth at home and lost away at Wolves. We looked fine in both matches, and were honestly much better against Wolves, but we continued to gift other teams easy goals.

At this point, I decided that we needed someone else in the center of the park that could help control matches. (Or maybe I went stress-shopping; you decide.) I found this lad in Argentina, and put in a bid.

He’s quick, he’s agile, he’s strong. He also tackles well and has decent marking and passing. I don’t love that Fickle personality, but it was easily the best option of players that would consider us. (Man City had two superior players, but they wouldn’t return my calls.)

I also asked Nicolas Bacolla to put in a good word for us.

Uh huh. We’ll see, dude.

He signed. I nearly wrote “of course,” but we’ve lost out on far too many transfers. Claudio makes 11 native Spanish speakers in the first team. I need to spend some quality time with DuoLingo.

Matias Martin–who I would still love to come around and be part of the team–decided to pull a Harry Kane and skip training.

Unlike Spurs, we fined him. I shipped him off to Bayer Leverkusen on deadline day in a loan deal that paid us a fraction of his salary, but will see him play plenty of football and hopefully come back next summer a better player and ready to be part of our squad. We’re down to 10 native Spanish speakers.🙂

Gaston Araujo, our problem child from last summer, did actually come around and ask to be taken off the transfer list.

He’s good enough that he’ll get minutes this season, in the Conference League, if nothing else. He may get sold next summer, but it’ll be for a lot more than the 1.8m valuation he has currently.

We won our qualification matches for the Conference League, and Harrison Jackson finally scored a goal.

TWENTY-TWO matches without scoring. Holy hell. I should probably sell him. (I tried but he wouldn’t accept a contract at Blackburn, and I wasn’t willing to pay his wages to send him to Salzburg. He ended up going to Legia on loan.)

Our last match of August was at West Ham, and I setup more defensively than usual, including marking Myron Boadu out of the match. It was dread, horrific football. The Scottish Mistake scored on a 22 meter curler in the first half to give us a slender lead, but former transfer target Geovane leveled late in the second half on a free kick. Just as I thought we’d take away a draw (and I was going to be happy with a draw, mind you), Neco put in a cross from a throw-in and Ignacio Escalante–on for an injured Idah–headed in the winner at 90+5.

Our financials at the beginning of September were as good as ever.

We spent 100m quid on players, and we ended up down 13m from where we started the summer. Much of the outgoing transfer spending is structured over time. In the last 14 months we spent 110m and made 157m (including the structured deals) for a net profit of 47m. If you subtract Adam Steel, who I would have preferred to keep, we were pretty much dead even.

August results were middling.

A famous victory at Anfield, some horrific dropped points, and a scrappy win at West Ham.

In what seems to forever be the case, we found ourselves in 7th place.

I was pretty down on the save at the end of last season. I’m in a slightly better place now. The 7th place isn’t helping, but the chance to win a decent trophy in the Conference League is. If we can get on a good run in the Premier League, I’ll start to get excited again.

I’ll leave you here for now. See you next time, footy nerds.