ZSP A Dream Season Review

As the sun sets on season 19 of Top 100, Zenit fans are still swimming in a sea of joy as they celebrate an unlikely promotion.

Touted as relegation favourites at the start of the season the Russian club have astounded the SM world by not only getting promoted but actually still being in the title race on game 37.

The club based near the River Neva in Russia have been starved of success for many years. Their last promotion came in season 3 when they won the play offs to make it to division one.

Since then the club has spent most of its time in division 3, indeed it has been 9 seasons up until now.

So just how did the club achieve such a fantastic feat this season?

Manager Mark Stewart said “We must rewind to the end of last season, with 3 matches to play we were 8 points adrift of safety, needing to win all 3 to have any hope of staying up and hope Sassuolo lost all their games.

“We indeed went on to win all 3 and from that moment I sensed a real togetherness and fight, we carried that spirit over to this season and a strong team ethic and togetherness has been key.

We don’t have the strongest of first elevens but have good subs that have helped make a difference, and we battle until the final whistle every game

Stewart is indeed right in this assessment, the side battled hard all season, the first half of the season saw Zenit pick up 31 points, as the club sat around 8th but an improved second half saw them pick up an impressive 39 points and surge to second place and the runners up spot.

Stewart who has previously tasted a lot of Top 100 success such as winning 3 successive titles in D5,4 and 3 with Hertha Berlin before moving to Benfica and winning the D2 play offs in his first season to make it a jump of D5-D1 in successive seasons

Stewart then went on to win T100 Cup  in Benfica’s first season in the top flight, a great resume indeed, but Stewart has said this promotion has been the best achievement out of all those, to prove all the doubters and the odds wrong really enthuses me said the Welshman

So just who were the key players for the club?

Lukas Skorupski – the talented keeper was brought in on an internal deal with Southampton and made captain, he picked up 7 mom awards and 15 clean sheets

Sofyan Amrabat – the midfield marauder patrolled the centre of a park like a lioness protecting her young, winning biting tackles and protecting the back 4, with aplomb. After a great world cup in real life the in demand Moroccan has said he is happy at Zenit and the club have confirmed he wlll not be allowed to go cheap if we do let him go at all

Maxime Lopes – the French midfield dynamo was allowed to get forward thanks to Amrabats willingness to do the dirty work and he did so with gusto as he top scored for the club with 12 goals and has proved deadly from free kicks

James Forrest – the 86 rated winger has performed above expectations as he caused havoc with opposition defences scoring 8 and assisting 6 times

Jean Phillipe Mateta – the 87 rated striker struggled to find the net scoring just 4 times but he did assist 9 times and recorded the highest average rating of the squad with 6.71. A cult hero with fans for his non scoring ability was a key player as his tireless running and work rate really bothered opposition defences and helped the team.

So just how good was this season?

Well we dusted off the record books to peruse seasons gone by and found that this season was a record breaker in terms of most wins in a season, least goals conceded and most points, as the club end their 9 season stay in d3

So who came in to join the Zenitchiki this season?


We have highlighted Skorupski above the keeper joined in exchange for Areola with Facundo Torres also coming in, highlighted below

Manolo Gabbiadini, the 87 rated winger joined in a px deal with Southampton, Oliveira Lincoln headed the other way, Gabbi plyed 12 times scoring thrice, gaining 2 assists and 1 mom award, a positive contribution for the Italian winger

Facundo Torres the exciting Uruguayan MLS based winger has rarely featured, still very young just 22 years old and 85 rated, we expect him to rise in the next MLS review and he could well feature as a squad player next season

Yann M’villa the 88 rated D/DMC will play at the back, he only joined on matchday 38 in a double player exchange for Palomino, the Frenchman should be safe with his rating as Greece reviews were finished in February

Roberto Pererya the Argentininan midfielder/winger will play on the wing for us,, rated 88 and a regular for Serie A Udinese he will be a first team winger next season


10 players were brought in for external the pick of them highlighted below

Left back Nuno Sequeira has proved a shrewd signing, brought in from external as an 86 rated player, he received a plus one a few weeks later and has established himself as the number one left back for the club

Aleksa Terzic the 82 rated 23 year old Fiorentina left back has now established himself in the Fiore side and could prove a shrewd signing if he can keep up his performance in real life

Taylor Booth the young American midfielder has had a great season with Utrecht in Holland, is regarded as a hot prospect in real life and could well be a great makeweight for a transfer in the future

Niccolo Pierozzi the young wing back is currently on loan with Serie B Reggina, he has had a cracking season, is regarded as a very promising talent and if reports are to be believed he will be in Fores squad for next season

What does the future hold for Stewart and Zenit?

Stewart said “I’m not one to club hop, we are on 199 games here now and have the best average points rating of any Zenit manager.

The squad was a car crash in my eyes when I took over 2 years ago, its still not where I want it but in a far better place, we had little to work with and always have to rely on picking up rough diamonds and others cast offs, it’s a challenge I really enjoy.

We will be hot favourites to go down and if you look at Malcolm’s stats you will see stats wise we should be in Division 5, but were not, were going to give everything to try and stay up and improve the side, we may fail but it want be for a want of trying”.

Strong words from the wily ZSP manager and they will warm the hearts of the ZSP fans, the journey hasn’t finished yet and they look forward with hope and optimism to season 20

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