Note: the Trabzon Times is best enjoyed in a web browser, but will also work on a mobile device. All feedback is of course welcome and should be forwarded directly to the Editor-in-Chief.
TRABZONSPOR CASH IN ON TOP TALENT
Trabzonspor have raked in a club record of ₺440M (£43.5M) over the Summer transfer window, with the bulk of that coming from just two player sales as Frank Athlete sought to reshape his squad for the 2021/22 season.
Having ended last season’s campaign strongly with a 4th placed finish and qualification into the Europa Conference League, it was expected that the club would come under pressure to sell some of their top talent.
After a number of impressive performances for the Black Sea Storm, local lad and talisman, Abdülkadir Ömür, was the first to come under offer with a number of Premier League clubs chasing his signature. London-based Fulham made the first formal bid, which was instantly refused by Athlete, much to the joy of the fans.
Fulham were not deterred however, submitting subsequent bids and attracting the interest of fellow Premier League side Newcastle United in the process. Newcastle’s first bid was a reported ₺260M (£25.7M), a staggering sum and evidently too much for Trabzonspor President, Ahmet Ali Ağaoğlu, to pass up.
An insider at the club revealed Athlete’s fury at having the decision taken out of his hands, but in the end Ömür agreed terms with the Tyneside club and Trabzonspor’s financial troubles were swiftly righted in the process.
Unfortunately for Athlete there would be more transfer drama to deal with before the window closed with last season’s eventual “Gol Kralı” (Goal King) winner, Djaniny being the subject of much speculation.
Djaniny bagged a total of 32 league goals last term, one shy of the Trabzonspor record for a season, but still plenty to attract many European clubs to his talents.
FC Porto submitted a decent offer and with Djaniny’s head turned, a source at the club told us that this time Athlete took control of the situation, identifying a suitable replacement before accepting the bid of around ₺140M (£13.9M).
With the fan base understandably disappointed at having shipped off two of it’s best performers from last season, Athlete set about replenishing the squad with suitable replacements. Igor Coranado joins from UAE club Sharjah for ₺20M (£2M) to take Ömür’s place as an Advanced Playmaker, while young Brazilian, Peglow, signs from Brazilian outfit Internacional for ₺150M (£14.8M) and will replace the departing Djaniny up front.
Athlete also took the opportunity to strengthen the squad in depth, with left wing back Umut Meraş signing from Le Havre and West Ham legend Mark Noble joining as well, both for a mere ₺10M (£1M) each.
Elsewhere, Vukasin Jovanovic signed for Trabzonspor on a free transfer from Bordeaux, while a number of young prospects have also joined the club and will be hoping to push for a first team place. Chief among them is 18 year old Metehan Altunbaş who signs from Eskişehirspor who were recently relegated from the 1. Lig.
Squad rule changes
This year sees a further restructuring to the Süper Lig with the number of teams reduced to 20, one less than last year but still two more than what we have become accustomed to in to the top flight of Turkish football.
Additional restrictions on foreign player have also been introduced with each club permitted a maximum of 14 non-Turkish players with just 8 of them allowed in the playing XI at one time. The Turkish FA hopes these new restrictions will encourage home grown talent to develop to a higher standard, and therefore will help the National team to compete in the years ahead.
Next season these restrictions will go one step further, reducing the total number of foreign players to 13 and only 7 permitted in the playing XI at one time.
With that in mind, many would say that the Trabzonpor manager has had these rule changes in mind this year as he has brought in a number of highly rated young Turkish players who will no doubt play a significant role in the club in the years ahead.
Athlete has already built a reputation for favouring younger players and as the new season has gotten underway, we’ve seen no less than ten players under the age of 23 who have made an appearance this season. The fans will hope that approach remains the same as the club continue to produce excellent academy prospects.
Analysis: Can Trabzonspor Remain Unbeaten This Season?
Trabzonspor’s 2021/22 campaign has gotten off to a flyer, with the side remaining unbeaten in the league this term, after twelve matches played.
Sitting atop the Süper Lig on an incredible 34 points, the team also have the best attack with 32 goals and the tightest defence having conceded just three so far.
2019/20 Süper Lig winners Başakşehir remain level on points, but their inferior goal difference keeps them in 2nd place.
Many had predicted another fairly average campaign for Frank Athlete’s men, especially following the departure of two of last season’s top performers in Abdülkadir Ömür and Djaniny. The media had predicted the side would finish in 5th place with the bookies putting them at 9-1 odds to win the championship.
Now however, as we head into December, the team are in red-hot form, their last defeat coming on the 21st of April to last year’s eventual winners, Galatasaray.
Trabzonspor took their revenge against them in their opening game this season though, with a convincing 2-0 win against the current holders, and have been in scintillating form ever since, only dropping points away at Konyaspor and beating the likes of Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş in the process.
With a change in playing personnel this year, it’s been a mix of the old guard and some of the Summer’s new signings who have lined up to appease the fans with attractive and exciting football.
Notable performances include that of club captain Uğurcan Çakır with 9 clean sheets, Tony Nwakaeme, who has 9 goals and an assist from his 11 appearances, and his youthful understudy, Metehan Altunbaş, who has collected 5 goals and 3 assists from his 11 appearances this season.
Perhaps the most exciting action to witness though, has come in the form of the sides more creative players, with Igor Coranado and Anders Trondsen both supplying 6 assists each, as well as another 7 goals between them.
One thing is certain, the future is bright.
OPINION: SHOCK EXIT IN EUROPE NEEDS ADDRESSING
Trabzonspor’s exceptional form in the league has masked their failings in Europe, but many won’t have forgotten the disappointment of an early exit from the Europa Conference League back in August.
Entering the competition at the Third Qualifying Round, Trabzonspor’s first challenge came in the form of Cypriot side AEK Larnakas, who they comfortably dispatched 2-0 over the two legs, setting up a Fourth Qualifying Round tie against Greek Super League outfit, AEK, who had just finished their season in third place.
With qualification to the group stages predicted to be a fairly straightforward affair, it came as quite a shock when in the first leg, AEK held Trabzonspor to a draw at home, setting up a highly competitive match in the reverse fixture.
Trabzonspor’s 100% record in the league after their opening two games was evident when they kicked off against AEK, bagging an early goal in the 6th minute.
AEK equalised a short while later but as the sides reemerged for the second half, it looked certain that Trabzonspor would be taking home the points as their excellent play deserved another goal.
AEK had other plans however and were more than happy to spoil the party with the winner in the 69th minute.
The expected goals statistic for the match (pictured above) tells another story though, with Trabzonspor registering 2.7 xG against AEK’s 0.43 xG.
Ultimately what matters though, is the number of goals scored, and perhaps this upset will serve as a lesson for the Black Sea Storm players that no match should be considered a walk in the park.
INSIDER : CUP FINAL IS MINIMUM EXPECTATION
As we reach the end of November, Trabzonspor will take a break from Süper Lig action this week as their Türkiye Kupası camapign gets under way.
Last season’s Semi-Final defeat to eventual winners Başakşehir is still a painful memory, particualrly as the performance was very disapponting on the day.
This year, fans are optimistic once again of attaining some silverware, and will no doubt expect a place in the Final as a minimum.
Trabzonspor enter the competition in the Fifth Round and have been drawn against 1.Lig side Samsunspor.
Samsunspor have already progressed a step further than last year’s effort of the Fourth Round, where they went out to recently relegated Altınordu.
Fans of the seaside club will no doubt be hoping for a giant killing this Wednesday evening, especially given their dramatic fall from grace over the past 15 years.
Once a stable Süper Lig side, Samsunspor were relegated from the top flight in 2006 and have stayed there for the most part, with the exception of a single season back in the Süper Lig in 2011/12, and even a dip into the 2. Lig for two seasons.
Their first season back in 1. Lig earnt them a mid-table finish last year, and their current form has them doing well in 3rd place.
Frank Athlete will need to ensure his team guard against complacency this week, while Samsunspor will be hoping to catch the Black Sea Storm players on an off-day.
5,000 Samsunspor fans are reported to be making the 325 Km journey along the coast to Trabzon for the first leg this week, with 35,500 tickets sold in total.
MEMORY LANE: A GLANCE AT TRABZON’S ANCIENT HISTORY
In our previous edition, this column looked at how Roman occupation changed the city of Trabzon, setting it up to become the thriving trade route we know it for today.
It was during Diocletian’s reign towards the end of the third century that the city began to recover from the previously mentioned civil war and pillaging.
Christianity also arrived at this time, and the faith grew in prominence after Diocletian ordered the death of the martyr Eugenius after he demolished the Mithras statue.
Over the course of the next few hundred years, the region would become part of the Byzantine Empire and under the Roman ruler Justinian, Trabzon’s stature and wealth grew substantially, owing to it’s strategic significance during the 6th Century Persian Wars.
Later, the renewed importance placed on Trabzon as a trading post on the Silk Road, led to further prosperity being bestowed upon the city, and to it being named the capital of Chaldea, the 8th newly created theme (administrative division) in the region.
The seaport became a major hub connecting Europe and Asia, with Italian maritime republics and other seafarers able to buy goods from trade caravans travelling the Silk Road, and take them back to Europe. The city of Trabzon greatly benefited in return through revenue generated in customs duty.
In 1071, the Byzantine were defeated at the Battle of Manzikert and Trabzon fell initially under Seljuk rule, before being taken back and “saved” by Theodore Gabras, a local leader who ruled until his death in 1098. His family continued his independent rule into the next century.
Backroom Restructure at Trabzonspor
A number of the club’s coaching staff have not had their contracts renewed as Frank Athlete took the opportunity to freshen up his backroom team.
Chief among the changes was the replacement of outgoing Assistant Manager, Orhan Ak, with Athlete opting to appoint Özhan Pulat in his place. Pulat moves to the club from previous employer Hatayspor and his eye for judging player’s ability and potential will no doubt be a welcome addition to the team.
While many questioned Athlete’s move to overhaul his coaching staff in such a radical fashion, the decision is clearly paying dividends for the club, with Trabzonspor currently sat in 1st place in the Süper Lig with 11 wins and a draw from their opening 12 games.
Around the Grounds
In this regular feature, we take a look at some of the other news stories from around the world that have captured our attention beyond the city of Trabzon in recent days.
Future’s Bright for Cash-Strapped SC Verl
The German side’s form has been impressive this season, despite originally being billed as favourites for relegation. The question remains, can success on the pitch bring the financial backing needed off of it? Read more.
Rayo Vallecano Out to Cause Upset
GAIS Impress in Rensie’s First Season
Despite early predictions of a mid-table finish, Göteburgs AIS have surpassed all expectation this year, finishing strongly in the Swedish Superettan and demonstrating impressive defensive work throughout the season. Read more.
Dinamo Bucaresti Add to Silverware Haul
Dinamo Bucaresti remain dominant in Romania’s Liga I as the manager continues to build on their 2019/20 narrow escape from relegation. Read more.
BC Madeira Boss Looks to Youth
Having had 11 players from the U23s out on loan last season, this year BC Madeira would give them a chance in the first team with the aim of them proving their worth and strengthening the depth of the squad. Read more.
The French side continue their drive toward European football next term with talk of a possible trophy on the cards as well. Read more.
Got a story to share? Contact us with a link to it here.
Thank you for subscribing to the Trabzon Times, your support of our fictional newspaper is greatly appreciated. Over the course of the next year we will be documenting the successes and failures of Frank M. Athlete in his own fictional universe within Football Manager 2021. If you would like to read any previous issues of the Trabzon Times, please visit our dedicated web page here. You can also chat with other subscribers via our exclusive chat feature on Slack.