Time for more action in sunny Portugal? I think so as well as it is time to crack on with the competitive season. My ‘Vitori’ side will take hand in four different competitions in the first half of the season as it is the year of the winter World Cup – Qatar 2022. This means cramming in as many games as possible before the break in November and for the majority of December.
Last time out, it was all about a summer clearance and a bit of an early reset going into season 2 but for those who missed it, the Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira (Portuguese Super Cup) was won meaning the trophy haul has started…or at least I hope it has! Feel free to catch up here.
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!
Before we get stuck into the results, there is a few bits and pieces that happened in the background and the biggest of them all is most probably my new 4 year contract! I wouldn’t say myself and the club president are on the best terms after the summer transfer window so this was a pleasant surprise – the project continues!
The president then finally gave in to something I have been asking for since the start of this project. Is he finally aligning with my vision or just keeping me close for his own morals?
New Feeder Club – Lank FC Vilaverdense
The Portuguese fourth tier club becomes our new option to send our youngsters who aren’t quite at the level of the B team (third tier). As some may know, I like to build a bit of an empire of feeder clubs across Europe so hopefully this is the start of that.
Lank FC Vilaverdense are a full time professional club which was a big draw to me as the other options were all semi-pro. However, in terms of success they only have one regional title to their name so hopefully we’ll see some more trophies from them during our partnership.
Despite being founded in 2020, this is when the Lank Football Group took over the club and added in their name whilst taking a 90% stake holding. Before then they were simply known as Vilaverdense FC and were founded in 1953.
The ‘B’ Team Staff
After the transfer window, I had a quick review of the development teams and noticed something strange about the B team’s staffing.
They had a total of 2 staff members?! I had the Director of Football set to take care of the B team staffing but for some reason they never recruited for them. They are listed as a affiliate club so maybe this is what was stopping this from happening so I took it upon myself to sort it out.
That’s better! Full structure in place so hopefully this will aid the B team in their third tier quest. In terms of the recruitment, only 1 member is permitted in the scouting department which is why the average is so low, other independent teams in the third team will naturally have more scouts.
New Player Contracts
There was a lot of talk in the press about interest in a couple of players and I had to put it all to bed, so what better way to do it by asking them to commit to the club for longer? First up is arguably one of our best players in Andre Almeida. The playmaker is always in the heart of attacks and has no release clause in his new contract, giving me more control should bids come in.
Next was my young prospect Herculano Nabian. Right at the start of the save, I mentioned that Herculano was my project with an aim to get him into regular first team football. This is happening for him currently and it’s great to see he’s still on board with the vision.
There is a couple of other bits of information to check out but first, let’s get into some of the football shall we?
A very good start winning 8 out of the 9 opening games. Considering we are adapting to a new tactic, I was pleased with the performances especially the wins over Benfica (3-1) & Porto (1-0). An early message to these teams shows that we mean business this season as I want the boys to crack the top three.
I did switch to the formations from last season a few times and the reason being is you need to adapt for some teams. I learnt last season that some opposition need to have a certain style played against them in order to succeed…if only I done that for the Braga match (1-0 loss)!
This is the time of the season when the World Cup comes around, meaning there was four games in October then a two month wait until our last game of 2022!
When you look at the results on a whole, it’s very up and down with my side showing their attacking prowess against CS Maritimo & FC Famalicao with 4-0 victories. A silly loss to Estoril (1-2) was a careless performance conceding late on and there was a 1-1 draw with Moreirense.
It was no easy task on the return to football against Sporting Lisbon but we showed we are here to fight at the top with a score draw.
Sitting well in second place a few games off of the half-way point but I’m very happy with this start as even if Benfica were to win that game in hand, my side would still occupy a top three place. Porto have had a storming start but as I learnt last season, you cannot afford any inconsistent form especially is this area of the table.
Europa League – Group Stage 2022/23
It was straight into the group stage with no qualification needed but it was a place in pot 4 for the draw. Let’s see how our luck rode as the names came out of the hat…
A couple of tasty ties with Arsenal and FC Kobenhavn but I fully expect us to grab all the points against APOEL. At the same time, all three teams have better experience at European level than Vitori so let’s see how we got on.
A promising group campaign results wise with us racking good early points in the opening three fixtures, before sealing the deal in the return games with Kobenhavn & APOEL. Very happy to take a point against Arsenal at home and even losing at the Emirates wasn’t too disheartening as the job was already done…
A second placed finish with some margin to third, this meant it was into the first knockout round where the risk was ran of meeting one of the Champions League drop out teams. There was some power horses in there so I could only hope for some luck in the draw.
It wasn’t an easy draw but with some of the other potential opposition, I’m happy enough to face Athletic Bilbao in a home tie. I’ve always found Bilbao to be tough opposition in the past but I’m fully looking forward to this match.
The Domestic Cups
Liga de Taça
First we’ll look at what most of us know as the league cup, where my side enter in round 2 which is the group stage which contains three teams in each group.
Being paired with Estoril & Academica Coimbra (Liga II side), the first game against Academica had to be a win which it was but a slender one at that. As I found out last season, goal difference is key as this is how Vitoria Guimaraes went out last season.
It will come down to the last match against ourselves and Estoril who also beat Academica 1-0. Estoril beat us in the league so revenge is most definitely needed!
Taça de Portugal
Finalists in this cup last season, the aim is to go one better this season but navigating through the early rounds requires the team’s full attention.
Rounds 3 & 4 were successful but not as straight forward as I’d like. Lower league side Fontinhas were looking for an upset and my rotated side made hard work of it in a 1-0 victory.
More familiar opponents in FC Famalicao proved an exciting game but it landed 3-2 in our favour, which sees us advance into the fifth round – this will be covered in the next installment.
New Signings – Director of Football
The transfer window may be shut but Mr. Luis Campos is making a fine start to his new role at Vitoria SC by finding some very good prospects within the free agency market.
Kevin Ousmane is a former Lyon academy product and the young goalkeeper seems to have been brought into an area that is quite weak within the youth setup. Former Borussia Monchengladbach prospect Cem Dag joins to bolster the striker department and will spend time with the U23s. Sem Steijn joins for free after failing to agree a new deal with ADO Den Haag, a young Dutch creative midfielder who isn’t too far from the first team.
Youth Intake Preview 2022/23
Last season proved to be a great intake and I could only hope the projection this season would give similar indications.
For a second season in a row, things are looking very positive in goal, with the full backs and also the striker department. Defensive midfield and the wing is something to look forward to and the positive thing from it all is these are all positions that can fit into the systems I use.
Next will be a bit of a monster episode to finish off the season as the remainder of games will be covered for all competitions and of course the January transfer window will feature. You saw the youth intake projection today but you will see that very intake as well next time out. Lots to look forward to that’s for sure!
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 all for reading, I hope it was an enjoyable one. Hoping to get the season 2 finale out in the next week so hopefully this will tie you over until then. As always, take care all.