Welcome one and all to the mid-season update of our first season in charge Vitoria Guimaraes! As per the intro post, the goals are set but at the start of each episode I’ll leave them at the top to give you all a little reminder of what we’re trying to do here.
Another thing to remember is, the Director of Football controls all player and staff incomings for the U23s, U19s and the newly discovered ‘B’ team.
Now before we start rocking and rolling, I did plan to have this blog out around the 15th November but the original save corrupted and I couldn’t not recover it…so I had to start again but things like player sales, incomings and tactics have all been replicated in the new save.
The Save Aims & Rules
With how I want this save to work, I need to be mindful of the squad season on season. As there is a lot of emphasis on the youth setup as these players will shape the first team in seasons to come. Here are the aims and rules to give some context of what I’m trying to pull off here.
- Squad average age must be a maximum of 23 every season.
- Disrupt the Top 3 and become a top team in Portugal (Porto, Benfica, Sporting Lisbon).
- Win the club’s first league title.
- Win the club’s first European title.
- Win a domestic treble (League, Cup, Supercup or League Cup) or a European treble (League, Cup, European Cup)
A lot to aim for but the squad average age must be achieved by the end of the summer transfer window each season – IF THIS IS FAILED, I MUST RESIGN FROM MY ROLE!
I arrive in Guimaraes on a two year deal with the press intrigued by what I can bring to the club and Portuguese football. Despite being a well known team in Portugal, they only have three trophies to their name in it’s 99 year history. a Primeira Liga title and a Liga de Taca (League Cup) are both missing from the trophy room domestically as well.
Upon my arrival, I learn there is a Director of Football (updated on the game’s full release) and with not bad attributes, I have decided to retain Jaime Teixeira and give him a chance. I then move ti the Head of Youth Development – Jorge Baptista who will be handling all development loans and again no complaints from me.
As I was getting accustomed to life in Guimaraes, I checked out the finances to learn it was going to be a tough first transfer window. Also there is some club debt to be cleared…there is more debt than what the club have in the bank!
Transfer Window Summer 2021
The finances of course lead us on to the transfer window. I will take you all through the outgoings before the review of my first team signings and the DoF’s youth teams signings…
There was quite a few names out of the door, some I made the decision to do so for reasons I’ll explain but a couple players had their heads turned by either a bigger club or league.
First teamers who left because they were judged to not be needed was centre midfielder Denis-Will Poha and veteran full back Silvio, both were not up to my standards. Then I made the decision to sell Ricardo Quaresma, this was due to my rule with the average age but in terms of stats he still looks quality. But I can’t expect to hit the target of 23 with a 37 year old in the squad and then this happened…
I guess the transfer listing was a shock but he still left nonetheless. Another big loss was starting goalkeeper Bruno Varela who had his mind set on Roma and attacking midfielder Nicolas Janvier decided going to Premier League relegation candidates Norwich City was a better idea than staying with us. Although Janvier wouldn’t have been guaranteed starts in all fairness unlike the other two if circumstances were different.
Now on to who came in but with a poor transfer budget and not much room in the wage budget either, I had to turn to loans and the free agent market to give the squad more depth in some areas.
Young centre back Jamie Lawrence came in on loan from Bayern Munich, standing at 6ft 7in he will be more than handy at set pieces! Paraguayan attacker Sergio Diaz joined on a free (decent signing if you’re on a tight budget, depending what team you are) with the capability of playing up front or as CAM.
I then got more reinforcements in defensively at left back in Rangers’ Calvin Bassey who provides a good option with his crossing ability. Lastly, Francisco Conceicao arrived from Porto’s B team who I was surprised to discover there as he looks very good off of the right wing, Conceicao is likely to be a regular starter in comparison to the other signings.
Director of Football Signings
Now to be fair, Mr. Teixeira was very active in filling out the U23s & U19s squad as he signed nearly double the players I did!
The only thing is, some of these players won’t ever see the first team. You will see their initial ability but some only have potential of 2.5 stars which for me isn’t quite what I need. However, a couple do look very promising from arrival so I will have to wait and see in terms if any of this group will become a success!
The Squad, The Tactics & Pre-Season Results
This is the squad post transfer window and I’m relatively happy with it considering. There is some great talent within defence, Abdul Mumin & Rafa Soares are two to look out for but there is also some young talent such as Andre Almeida in midfield who looks like a very good player.
A big positive was keeping hold of Marcus Edwards who did not kick off when I rejected a low bid for him, instead he extended his stay at the club. Its inevitable a day will come where he will leave so I may as well get his value up as much as possible. Sought after left back Rafa Soares also signing a new deal which I was very pleased about!
There is one player however, who will be my project during the next season or two in Herculano Nabian. Clearly a talented young attacker, my aim is to get his ability up through developing him at the club and get him playing on a regular basis for the first team.
There is probably one question on your mind at this stage though, did I reach the average age target of 23 or am I off to the job centre already…
As you will see, our average age is indeed 23 and as per the rule this is after the transfer window has shut (01-Sep) so we are basically up and running in the first season!
Now into the tactics, there is one main tactic currently and then a second tactic in which I want to develop the team into using.
Based on the current squad I’ve gone with a 4-2-3-1 and made my own instructions on a counter attack basis. Our wingers and centre midfielders can shoot so using shoot on sight will hopefully shock opponents and catch goalkeepers’ off guard. ‘Get stuck in’ may be taken off depending if we become too aggressive in the challenge.
The second tactic is an attack minded 4-3-3 which I created during beta and it looked as if it can come in handy if you have the players for it. It’s quite stubborn defensively but going forward it is all about moving the ball quickly and getting chances in the box. I will look to start implementing this once the team settles a bit into the season.
There was only four pre-season games as the Liga de Taca starts in the back in of July. As Vitoria Guimaraes are not in European competitions this season, we have to start in the first round.
A bit of a mix bag as I was still learning about the squad and transfers were happening at the time. As you’ll see it was a small tour of the USA but in terms of score lines and results, the team were not looking too good at this point. Not to stress though, competitive football is where it really matters.
Liga de Taca 2021/22
As explained in the pre-season section the Liga de Taca (League Cup) starts in the latter part of July, as my side are in no European competitions. The graft starts from the very first round.
The first match was against Liga Portugal 2 (second tier) side CD Nacional. It was a tough watch and it got nervy after 90 minutes of nothing which brought penalties…luckily the boys held their nerves to win 5-3 on penalties (0-0 after FT).
In the second round it wasn’t only a Primeira Liga side in Moreirense, it was also our fierce city rivals as our opponents also reside in Guimaraes. This was a much better performance though as the boys secured a 3-0 win. Goals from attacking midfielder Rochina followed by two goals from two set pieces from centre backs Jamie Lawrence & Toni Borevkovic.
Now in the third round, the remaining Primeira Liga teams join the competition (the Porto’s, Benfica’s, Sportings’ etc) and you get put into groups of three. Only the winner of the group advances and the prize of that is a semi final place. My group consisted of Benfica & Estoril.
With it only being a group of three, you have to get a fair few goals for goal difference purposes. This was key after the 1-1 draw with Benfica. Unfortunately though, a wasteful performance in the 1-0 win over Estoril left us waiting and hoping for a draw in the match between our two group opponents.
It wasn’t meant to be this season however, after Benfica beat Estoril 3-0. If only we could finish our dinner when it mattered!
Primeira Liga – AUG – SEP 2021
It wasn’t a bad opening couple of months give or take, the start against CS Maritimo (2-0 loss) was not ideal but we started to get going a bit after that. There is a 3-2 loss to SC Braga in there but it was a close fought game that could’ve gone either way.
It is quite clear we’re capable of scoring too with rampant victories over FC Famalicao (4-1), Boavista (5-1) & FC Vizela (5-0). Out of all of that though, the 1-0 victory versus Benfica stands tall and if you think the penalty scraped us through the game, think again.
My side tested them constantly on the counter and we were unlucky not to get one or two more goals. Where do Vitoria Guimaraes lie in the table after eight games though?
A very good start but it is very close between 2nd and 8th at this stage with a few teams already with a game in hand. Sporting Lisbon have absolutely burst out of the blocks however, with an 100% record.
Primeira Liga – OCT-DEC 2021
Lots of wins here but first let’s address the losses as bar the 1-0 loss to Sporting CP, the games lost to Belenenses SAD (0-1) & Portimonense SC (1-3) were generally poor performances. Both teams were in the bottom three when we played them but maybe this is where the 4-2-3-1 counter tactic does not work. Realistically they are two games my side should near enough dominate so trying to counter deep lying teams when you play direct just doesn’t mesh, does it?
Still, there was plenty of wins and important points picked up, striker Oscar Estupinan has stepped up his game and started grabbing goals, taking some of the pressure off of Marcus Edwards. With that, there is a good range of scorers in there which I’m pleased with.
Oh, did you spot another big win in there? 2-0 victory over Porto? I thought as much!
Again, we take the game to another one of the big three in the league and judging by the match stats, my side showed how well we can play on our day. This is definitely a platform to build on for the future. Right, lets check out the league table!
Okay, I’m not here to say I’m not buzzing with being second because I am but at this point it’s hard to get over excited as literally every team around us has 2-3 games in hand! Porto & Benfica clearly aren’t hitting the heights I was expecting so I need the team to take advantage of that. Top five was always in my head for this season but if the three teams below us stay inconsistent, there is potential of a top three finish?
Taca de Portugal – Rounds 3-5 2021/22
Essentially this is Portugal’s FA Cup and Vitoria Guimaraes enter in round 3 which we’ll take any day.
First up was fourth tier side O Elvas and it was a straight forward 3-0 win, very comfortable performance. Next was Liga 2 side SC Farense and they worked us hard to their credit but a goal just after half time secured a 1-0 win.
Fifth round, my side were drawn Porto which I wasn’t too pleased about until the boys only went and done it again in an action packed affair!
In an extraordinary 3-2 win AET, we make our way to round six. An early red card for Porto put the game on its head before they took the lead in the second, my side equalise five minutes later through Toni Borevkovic however. In extra time we go 2-1 down before our oldest player Andre Andre scores from range and my young prodigy Herculano Nabian curls one from the edge of the box to secure it! Nabian’s third goal in three games in this competition.
Round six provides us SP Espinho (fourth tier) who are on a dream run being the only team outside the Primeira Liga left! This match will be covered in the next update.
Youth Intake Preview 2021/22
Lastly, let’s see what I’ve been projected in the intake for when it comes around in March/April.
Really liking the revamp of this for FM22, it looks brilliant. Our intake projection is rated at 4.5 stars which I’m buzzed about and the highest rated areas of the pitch are areas I want to improve on so depending on player standard it could all fall into place for me.
In the next update, I will cover the remainder of the season which will provide our progress in the Taca de Portugal, where my side finish in the league and of course this highly anticipated youth intake…what’s not to like?!
While you’re here, DP-FM’s guest blogger @emperor_fm is sticking around for FM22 and will be taking on the challenge of returning Deportivo La Coruna to the big time in Spain. With the current state of Spanish football, could this be Deportivo’s best opportunity yet?
Check out the intro post here – https://dpfmblog.com/2021/11/08/el-regreso-del-deportivo-introduction/
Thanks for reading guys, really good to get stuck into this FM22 save and can’t wait to bring you all more of it. As always, take care all.