Well, I was not sacked by Chairman Guido, I guess winning the Croatian Cup and a super impressive run in the Europa League were enough to make up for an incredibly poor league finishing position.
Guido really pulled out all the stops in summer transfer window. With excellent players on both wings and keeping the all central midfielders we have to challenge for the league and by challenge I mean win the league. Now on paper winning the league should be pretty easy but the Croatian is only 10 teams and we play each other 4 times. Which means it’s very easy for teams to take and drop points of each other.
We start off the league on fire simply destroying teams with Lewis Morgan being too much for the defenders that faced him. Winning the first 6 games in the League including beating Dinamo 2-1 away from home was an impressive start 15 goals in those 6 games show how we were destroying teams. Only conceding 7 goals was also good just over 1 a game.
At this point, I have to admit I was dreaming of an unbeaten season and just steamrollering everyone out of the way on my title. Of course, we all know rarely does FM allow us the joys of a stress-free domestic season. The next games were nowhere near as productive points wise as the Europa League games meant that some squad rotation had to take place.
10 points from a possible 18 are just not good enough. Yes, there were big wins against Dugopolje and Slaven Belupo but loses to Rijeka and Inter Zapresic are just not good enough. The drop points to Lokomotiva and Inter Zapresic is worrying these teams I need to beat home and away as the title challengers will beat them. The 2-1 loss to Rijeka was just infuriating they had 10 mins for the last 15 mins yet we could not get an equalizer never mind a winner. Just look at the stats below and you will see we should have won and won easily.
Again our poor form in the league continued in the final 6 games before the winter break and the Christmas transfer window. This is basically the same format as last year when we play in Europe our league from struggles, maybe I am just rotating too many players but I am trying my best to keep players fit and to make sure we don’t get players injured.
So again 10 points from a possible 18 again we beat Dinamo which is great as they are the biggest team in the league so beating them is always welcome as they are our biggest rival in Croatia. 3 points for both Novigrad and Instra 1961 is to be expected with both teams being down the bottom of the league. The losses to Osijek and again to Rijeka again hurt us in our hunt in for our first league title in 15 years. The last game before the break against Rijeka we were just not in the game they totally ran the game and we had no answer I tried using counter in the hope of hitting them on the break but that was just as bad as playing the game on control.
11 points behind the league leaders is not good, as is 8 points behind Rijeka. I do have a game in hand so let’s say I win that, it still means I am 9 and 5 points behind. Both the teams above me are not in Europe as they failed to get through the qualification never mind making the group stage. Talking of the European group stages…
We enter the Europa League in the 3rd Qualifying round and we drew CFR Cluj a tricky away game was up first and it a very even game we came out as 3-2 losers but difficult not to be happy with 2 away goals and only needing 1 goal to go through at home. The home leg was a totally different story just look at the stats and you can see that CFR Cluj were never in this game.
31 shots and 13 on target while CFR Cluj only registered 1 on target I think that is same to say was a hammering. So on to the 4th Qualification stage the final one before the group stage. We were drawn against Shkendija from Macedonia since I have never heard of this team I was confident of going through. The first leg was again away and it was not even close 7-0 meant the tie was over.
18 Shots and impressive 11 of those were on target, no shots on target for home side not sure I will have an easier game in Europe this season but this was also when our league form was excellent. At this point, I really was in awe of how talented Hajduk are. On to the group stages and we go a very nice group I was not scared of any of the teams despite still being seeded in the 3rd group.
Great to get Partizan as they are a fierce rival of ours and we are in good form I am confident we can beat them home and away. Kobenhavn as the top season in our group was great and Real San Sebastian as seed 2 was interesting Spanish teams are always very good and can give even the best teams a game.
As you can see we won every game apart from the last game against Partizan. The last game in our bad run of league form. I really wanted to beat them as they are our rival but when you get 16 points out of a possible 18 it’s impossible to be disappointed. 9 goals in the first three games shows us what the team is capable of and only conceding 4 goals in 6 games is excellent.
I am happy with the performance of the team in this first half of this season but I think we need a backup tactic to give the teams something else to think about.