Espanyol and season 18.

The lights have barely gone out on season 17, but manager Mullan is already on with finalising his squad for the new season. A 6th place finish and a European trophy in his first full season, could never have been predicted by even the most optimistic person, however the gaffer is not expecting any sort of repeat in season 18, as he looks to maximise his contract free-hit.

“When i arrived here we had the oldest squad in the division, lots joke about the “wheeling and dealing” but to get the age of the squad down, remain competitive whilst getting every ounce of value out of players in decline is no easy task. We will go into season 18 with just 7 players aged 30 or over, and an incredible 26 players 22 or under. To be in the position of having 43 players under the age of 27 with bags of potential it really does set us up for a number of seasons to come.

Yes the team is not littered with household names just yet, but if you scratch under the surface we’ve got a few hidden gems with significant potential and with some database updates to come, i’m really hopeful the hit we are taking this season comes off.

I think people will see a different Espanyol going forwards as transfer activity becomes minimal. We’ve put a lot of work into doing well over 150 deals in a season and half, to do what was needed, reduce the age of the squad and change the outlook from a side whose players were on the decline, to now be a side with players who can only get better.

Looking ahead to next season, its all about staying up for us, which some would say is a disaster if we just stay up, given our unlikely 6th place position this season. We are ahead of programme in terms of the 3 and half season plan I have. Although we are very thin on the ground in ratings now, there is always method to my madness. Its now time for a new Bonucci or Suarez or D’maria to rise from our young pool. We’ve signed some promise but also some players already making a name for themselves. I’m particularly excited on how far players like Lukeba and Stiller can go, whilst we’ve also picked up some exciting young south american footballers, who will no doubt get rises in the next update. We are going to need a bit of luck with the updates on one or two of the older players to keep us competitive this season, and there are much better 1-11s in the division. That being said, you need more than just ratings in a competitive gameworld, you have to put the hours in and you have to be willing to change things about for different games. I’m a firm believer that if you put the work in, you will get the rewards.

There has been some big business done elsewhere, as teams look to strengthen and managers with new clubs, look to put their own stamp on their squads. I felt going into last season we’d see new champions and other teams starting to emerge. That proved to be the case, and i think this season we are going to see those gaps close again. With other teams coming into the top 6 picture and upsetting the form book. I think we will see a much different Arsenal and Benfica next season and those two for me, will be up there in that top 6, which adds pressure to the others to stay in that elite group. At the other end we need to ensure we are not next seasons Hertha. I think 6 or 7 teams could definitely fall into that category based on current transfers completed, and overall balance of their sides. Whatever happens next season, i think we are possibly going to see the most competitive division 1 yet”

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