HNK Gorica (eng. Croatian Football Club Gorica) was the biggest surprise of last season’s edition of the HT Prva HNL. In their first season ever in the highest football division in Croatia, they managed to finish as fifth on the table, just behind the much more prominent and richer Dinamo, Rijeka, Hajduk and Osijek.
Not even Gorica is a poor club, by the way. Lithuanian investors bring in enough capital for the club’s stable operation. And much more. Even before the start of the first season in the highest division, entering the European competitions was set up as a long-term goal. Due to the fact that at the end of the current season, the fifth HNL club will compete in the UEFA Europa League qualifiers, HNK Gorica, along with Lokomotiva, will be the main favorite for this place.
The cooperation between the club and investors from Lithuania is more than interesting. The investor doesn’t have an ownership stake in the club, but is therefore concerned with the overall sports policy. Mindaugas Nikoličius was appointed as a Director of Football, and investors are the ones who bring and pay players. They are charged through player sales and thus return their investment. On the other side, club president Nenad Črnko takes care of the financing and operation of other segments of the club. His part is the business of tickets, marketing, sponsors and raising funds from TV rights and the municipality.
HNK Gorica is a club only ten years old, and this is their second season in the company of the best Croatian clubs. They were founded by the fusion of two clubs. NK Radnik from Velika Gorica and NK Polet from Buševac united in 2009. For two seasons (1992/93 and 1993/94), NK Radnik were members of the First League.
They play at Gradski stadion (capacity is 6000 places) in Velika Gorica. The club’s nicknames are Goričani and Bikovi (Bulls).
HNK Gorica – Players
Kristijan Kahlina is the captain and, according to Football Manager, Gorica’s best player. Very good goalkeeper for the Prva HNL conditions, and given his age (27), best years are still ahead of him. If you decide to play a career with Gorica, the goalkeeper position will not cause you problems.
The second best player is also the vice-captain of the club – Mario Marina. The 29-year-old defensive midfielder is the player every club needs. A tireless midfielder who sets an example for his younger colleagues. A great addition to this team.
In Real Life Kristijan Lovrić is probably the best player in this club. FM doesn’t put him at the top, but gives him high potential. It’s up to you, as the future manager of Gorica, to turn that talent into quality. With him in the squad, the left wing position is filled for a long time.
The rest of the squad
HNK Gorica in RL is playing in 4-2-3-1 which is, along with 4-3-3, the best formation that suit this roster. The strongest part of the team is the attack where, along with Lovrić, there are some very quality individuals of this team. First of all, there is Lukasz Zwolinski, striker who was the league’s fourth scorer last season with 14 goals. There’s also Chérif N’Diaye, a very good replacement at the top of the attack. The offensive part of the midfield is also well filled.
The defense might be a problem. There are several young and talented players in this part of the HNK Gorica team. The first choices on the central defender position should be Nemanja Ljubisavljević i Aleksandar Jovičić. The only more experienced central defender is Matthew Steenvoorden, but his quality is questionable. It should also be noted the lack of options in the right defender position where Musa Muhammed is the only choice (Joey Suk is able to cover that position, but he is primarily a midfielder).
The roster review shows that the biggest problem is defense. Due to the limited budget, you should focus on the right defender position. The more expensive option for that position is Kerim Memija. The problem is, he’s on a loan during the first season and you should make a room in wage budget to be able to bring him along. The cheaper option is Fran Tudor. He is a free agent after his contract with Hajduk expired.
If you sell someone it might be a good idea to invest in a new central defender as well.
Why HNK Gorica?
HNK Gorica is a refreshment in Croatian football. In a situation where many, with the exception of the Big Four clubs, are not in the best financial situation, the club from the sixth largest city in Croatia has enough money to plan its improvement from season to season. The current squad is a blend of youth and experience, though only two players are in the 30+ category.
The board, through the Club Vision, prefers bringing youth players to the first team. Buying players over 30 is not desirable. Also, they are looking to finish the first season in the mid-table position.
As we said before, finances are stable. Overall balance is just under 3 million euros, and you have around €400k for transfers. Enough to meet the set goal.