Last time out the Atalanta boys wrapped up a seventh straight Serie A title, and we were looking to rack up an eighth moving into the 2030/31 campaign.
More big summer sales came in the summer, notably holding midfielder William Nsiala – in whom I’d lost faith when he got sent off in a clash with AC Milan the previous season – moving to Hertha BSC for £40.5 million and backup midfielder Akson Djalo going to Wolves for £30.5 million.
But the big deal of the summer saw us set a club record sale as second-choice right-winger Alex Dongmo moved to Lyon for a huge £115 million.
A whole host of other outgoings followed, including midfielder Roberto going to Sevilla for £7 million and centre-back Amoroso going to Mainz for £13.5 million. The sales took our summer incoming fees to £238 million, and in their place we spent just £11 million, on five promising youngsters, which pushed our bank balance over £1 billion for the first time.
We once again got handed a really tough start to the Serie A season. After beating Palermo 2-0 away we were handed clashes against both Milan sides. First up was AC Milan, who we beat 1-0 with a goal in the third minute by right-winger Edward Mensah. Then we travelled to Inter Milan and lost 2-1 as their wonderkid striker Sindre Nordberg scored an 89th-minute winner.
They often say “don’t poke the beast” and that’s exactly what the Inter result did as we went on an incredible run of form, winning our next 12 league games. That included a 2-0 win at Torino with two goals in the last five minutes from Cosimo Marco Da Graca and Ugochukwo Ajayi and a 4-1 win at Sampdoria, in which Da Graca scored twice along with goals from Godwin Okechukwu and Hallvard Steinkjer.
The winning run came to an end with a 0-0 draw at Empoli but we returned to winning ways with two success to end the season. Da Graca, Mensah and Steinkjer secured a 3-0 win at Crotone then a 3-1 win at home to ten-man Cagliari thanks to Timmi Ulbjerg, Lahcen Abdellaoui and Steinkjer.
Champions Cup progression
We got dealt a potentially tricky Champions Cup draw alongside Barcelona, Benfica and Celtic. But we got off to the perfect start as a Matteo Giacalone penalty secured a 1-0 win in Benfica, then a Mensah hat-trick fired us to a 3-0 win at home to Celtic.
Next was the two clashes with Barcelona, which began with a trip to the Nou Camp and Barca ripping us apart en route to winning 3-0. Then the scoreline popped up yet again as we returned the favour at home, with centre-back Jeroen Velder scoring after 5 minutes then a second-half brace from Da Graca.
That all but guaranteed qualification, but it was confirmed as we secured a 4-0 victory at home to Benfica. The game included a first goal for the club for 16-year-old winger George Aliyu – who looks like being a superb player – alongside a first-half brace for Okechukwu and a goal from Giacalone.
With qualification secured I put out a second team for Celtic away and they secured a pretty impressive 0-0 draw.
The new season has also seen the facilities at the Ivan Ruggeri Stadium meet their full potential, with the stadium now reaching its 65,000 capacity.
We went into 2031 looking good for an eighth straight title and looking ahead to the knockout stages of the Champions Cup. Oh, and did I mention I’m now officially a Football Manager Expert? Oh yes…