FM21-Restoring The Rangers Empire EP5
The Long Goodbye
To read my last post where we go through the summer transfer window click Here
Hello boys, girls and everything in between. It’s me Bad jokes back at ya once again with another blog.
Today in Restoring The Rangers Empire, it’s time for The Long Goodbye as we have a look at what has happened in my second and final season in charge of Rangers football club. Last season we won the league by thirteen points and won the Scottish Cup but failed in Europe. Since then we’ve had a complete overhaul of the squad and have spent one hundred and seventeen million pounds on new players, so have we been able to do better in the league and in Europe? Read on to find out, were going to do this a little differently in this post as we’re going to look at each competition in isolation
The first competition of the season we entered, was the champions league. We had high hopes of qualifying for the group stages after the huge summer outlay, but we were handed a tough draw in the third qualifying round as we were drawn against the Swiss giants Basel. Thankfully after a back and forth first leg that ended four-two, we made easy work of the second leg winning it three-nil to give us an aggregate win of seven-two.
The last qualifying round saw us handed arguably an easier tie, as we were drawn to play the Norweigian side Bodo/Glimt. We went into the games confident of progressing to the group stages, but despite being the better side over both legs and ending both games with the better Xg, (still no clue how Xg works) and having more shots on target with nine to there six over the two legs we were beaten three-nil on aggregate as the season started with a big disappointment.
The first domestic competition of the season was the Betfred cup. This was a competition that we failed in last season as we only made it to the semi-final before being beaten by Celtic one-nil. This season we did so much better as we glided through the competition, beating Ross County three-one in the second round, Dundee United five-three in the quarter-final St Johnstone five-one in the semis and then beat the old enemy Celtic in the final two-nil. The highlight performer of the competition was certainly Alfredo Morelos who scored all five of our goals in the semi-final and both of our goals in the final. This was a nice easy way to win our first competition of the season but there was certainly more drama to come
After our Failure to qualify for the Champions League, we entered the Europa League in the group stage alongside Everton, Lyon and Atalanta in what looked like a very tough draw. The group was a rollercoaster of results, as no team dominated the group, Everton qualified with a game to spare, which looked to be a piece of good fortune for us, as we needed to beat them in our last game. We also had to hope that Lyon couldn’t beat Atalanta who had finished bottom of the group. Everything looked to be going our way, as we dominated the game and we went into a three-nil lead on the sixty-first minute, as I started dreaming of the knockout rounds. However, It wasn’t to be as a minute before our third goal Lyon took the lead in their game and managed to hold on to get the one-nil win so despite us beating Everton four-nil and having the same record as Lyon during the group overall it was the French side who qualified for the next round.
The biggest test of our huge summer spending spree was always going to be our form in the league. We started the season, still playing our 4-3-2-1 formation from last season that got us so much success as we won thirty-three of our thirty-eight games and only lost twice as we finished the season with one hundred and two points as well as a goal difference of plus ninety-six. So the question was would we do better after spending one hundred and seventeen million pounds in the summer.
The season started with us in decent but unspectacular form, as we won four and drew four of our first eight games. The tactic from last season had good moments, including the six-nil win over Kilmarnock, which saw Morelos score an eleven-minute hat-trick towards the end of the first half. The Aberdeen game that followed was another highlight, as we won four-nil with goals from Chamberlain, Shelvey Tavernier from the penalty spot and an own goal from Jordan Thompson.
The next three games, however, showed that we needed a change as we drew with Hibs three-three, Livingston two-two and Dundee United by the same scoreline as we lost our killer touch. The tactic that we changed to was a four-two-four wide formation, as we pushed James Maddison back into the central midfield, as an advanced playmaker alongside Berge as a ball-winning midfielder. the biggest change though was we started playing Antonio upfront alongside Morelos. You can see the immediate change this made to the results as we beat Celtic five-one in the first game with the new tactic as Antonio tore their defence to pieces scoring two goals on his debut for the club.
We then went on to win the last nine games of the calendar year, as we scored thirty-four goals and only conceded four. Could we maintain the form into the second half of the season? We will find out later after we see what happened in the Scottish Cup.
We started our defence of the Scottish Cup with a one-nil victory over a very stubborn St Johnstone in a typically Scottish snowy and icy mid-January game with Pablo Sarabia getting the only goal of the game as he cut in from the right to slot the ball home. Our toughest game of the competition came in the fifth round, as we had one of the toughest games of the season, against Livingston. We had to come from behind twice, and the game looked like it was heading to a replay, when our only January Signing Raniel, a Brazilian striker we signed on loan from Santos scored his first goal for us in the ninety-second minute to save our blushes and send us through to the quarter-final.
The next two rounds were much more plain sailing as we progressed to the final thanks to a four-nil win over Celtic as Antonio again scored twice in the old firm derby. Raniel again scored after coming off the bench in the semi-final as he added to a Tavernier double and a Morelos opener to give us a four-one win over St Mirren.
The final of the Scottish cup ended up being our penultimate game of the season, and you could tell the team were tired after a long and arduous season. It ended up being a very high scoring game, with the half time score being four-two as both teams scored a minute apart in first-half injury time. The second half was a more subdued affair, as Morelos doubled his tally in the sixty-sixth minute, after opening the scoring in the sixth minute, so his goal times work out at 666 which I’m sure makes sense to the opposition defenders in Scotland, as he’s been scoring like a devil as the second goal was his sixty first of the season. Now that we’ve added the Scottish Cup to the Betfred Cup that makes it two out of four possible trophies we could win this year can we do the quadruple?
Now let’s get back to the SPL, and we pick up in January with our first league game of the new calendar year, which just so happened to be an old firm derby. It certainly wasn’t a case of a happy new year, as we had an absolute nightmare. It was by far my worst day in charge of Rangers, as we got royally thumped six-nil, with Che Adams getting a hat-trick as we looked completely hopeless. The local water bottle suppliers had a bump in trade the next day, as I volleyed a truly unbelievable amount of bottles towards the whole squad. In fact, I went so long volleying bottles, that I started attempting trick shots with the bottles. I pulled off a nice overhead kick with one much to my delight but when I attempted a Di Canio Esque volley and missed I decided the players had the message and walked off leaving the team shocked.
The team must have been either terrified or inspired by my mad skills as we then went on a nearly perfect run of form as we won eighteen of the remaining nineteen games and drew the other game to comfortably win a second SPL title in a row with us finishing sixteen points clear of Celtic.
However much like when I used to play Gran Turismo on the PS2, it felt like we were only ever competing with the ghost version of our selves from last season, so let’s compare how we got on this year in the league with last year.
As you can see it’s a very close competition, as despite us losing just the once this year, as opposed to twice last year, we’ve still ended up with one hundred and one points this year. One below last years total. We also have a goal difference which is two worse than last year, despite us scoring one hundred and twenty-six goals, which are fifteen more than last season. We did concede more goals thirty-two this campaign, while we only let in fifteen last term. I put that down to the more attacking four-two four formation, we used for the majority of the season. So despite the massive summer overhaul, we haven’t done that much better in the league which is a surprise to me.
Europa Conference league
Ohhh yeah there is one more competition I’ve got to tell you guys about, its the Europa Conference league the new third tier European competition. We entered this in the first knockout round, due to us having finished third in our Europa League group. I was confident from the start, that we would do well here but we weren’t helped by registration issues meaning I couldn’t play Antonio or Defoe in this tournament so I was forced to play James Maddison upfront as the DLP alongside Morelos. Thankfully those issues didn’t cause any problems as we soundly demolished Maccabi Tel-Aviv six one on aggregate thanks to yet another Morelos hat-trick.
The second round was much the same as we again defeated Swiss opposition this time St Gallen six two on aggregate as Maddision showed that he can actually play upfront as he scored three goals in the two legs to play a major role in us advancing to the quarter-finals.
The quarter-finals were where we really stepped up a notch as we defeated premier league side Wolves six three on aggregate and despite the scoreline, this was soo comfortable and came right in the middle of our unbeaten run in the league as we played some beautiful football and made it look easy as we moved on to the semi-finals.
We had probably our best performance of the season, in the first leg vs Bilbao. as we beat the Spanish side five-nil, thanks to Morelos showing he really should be playing for a bigger team when he scored four of our goals by himself, with Tavernier from the penalty spot getting the other goal.
You would think that would mean we could coast through to the final, but Bilbao was having none of that as they gave us a massive fright when they took a two-nil lead early on. I’ll admit to being flustered because it seemed they would score at every opportunity, so I changed our defensive line from the usual very high to lower, but that didn’t seem to help even after Bilbao went down a man in the twenty-second minute. Morelos halved the Deficit three minutes later, however, two goals late in the second half for the hosts put the aggregate score at six-four to us. With Athletic Bilbao attacking us at every opportunity it wasn’t until Morelos scored in the ninety-fourth minute that I relaxed and celebrated taking Rangers to a first European final since 2008
In grand old European final tradition, this game took place in a random European stadium with a running track. This time the ground that was chosen was the Vasil Levski stadium in Bulgaria, and the opponents were another Spanish side Real Sociedad. Forty-six thousand fans packed into the ground, for the first-ever Europa League Conference final. Alfredo Morelos scored his sixty-second goal of the season, to give us the lead early in the first half, as I started to think this might be a routine win.
It certainly wasn’t however as Sociedad dominated the game and peppered our box with crosses and our keeper Livakovic had to make a few top-class saves to keep us in the lead. Unfortunately, though, Dominik’s resistance was finally broken in the sixty-seventh minute, when a Merino header had just too much on it for him to keep out. I started to fear the worst then but I shouldn’t have worried as our very own Columbian superman Morelos scored his sixty-third and final goal of the season to restore our lead just four minutes later and with Socidead going very attacking we got a free kick on the right that was whipped into our back up centre back Denis Vavro to nod home from a yard out on the far post to confirm our victory as we became the very first Europa Conference Champions!!!!
Empire Well & Truely Restored
That is the Rangers Empire well and truly restored so having won four trophies this season, I think that’s a good point to leave the save and move on to new projects. In-game I agreed back in February to join West ham at the end of the season, however, they’ve been relegated this season so that could be a rebuild but I will do that offline.
As for here on the site, It’s finally time to get started with the Margate save so that will be starting either later this week or early next week as I’m waiting on some details for a couple players In the margate squad as soon as I have them then I’ll get going with that.
Thank you so much for reading this I really hope you’ve enjoyed it if you have please give this post a tweet so we can get more eyes on this. we absolutely smashed the views target for last month as we ended the month with 666 views for November which I think is really really cool so thank you so much, everyone, who read my content last month. I hope you all stick around for the Margate save which will be starting very shortly right here. I’m super excited for that I hope you are as well.
Please get in touch with me on Twitter and let me know if you are pumped for that or if you have any comments on this blog or this save. As well if your a fan of FM please consider joining the FMCommunity Discord. I’ll catch you all next time guys.