It’s time for more action in Portugal as the summer of season three draws upon us. After last season’s successes of winning the Taça de Portugal and the Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira and the league performance of a second placed finish – this has rewarded us with Champions League football and a real platform to build on. My side will go straight into the group stage, contrary to my prior thoughts of the qualification rounds so that’s even better.
Now to kick off season three, there will be a whirlwind of a transfer window with a transfer saga involving a star player, pre-season results will be there for your viewing, I’ll also go through the tactics and the squad to show any updates. In addition to that there are some general bits about the club and this season’s Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira final where we face Porto!
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!
Now before we get going, some great news landed in the inbox as with the strong finances, the president has cleared the remaining £300k debt. This means the club are now completely debt free.
Club Culture & Plan
I haven’t spoken about what the club prides itself on or where they want be in 5 years probably since the first or second episode, so let’s see what they expect from me in the short term firstly.
There is a lot of emphasis on the football that is played, luckily most of fits into my beliefs in terms of attacking, high intensity football. Developing players using the youth system has been a struggle thus far but with a couple of great youth intakes so far and some smart DoF signings, hopefully we’ll see more youngsters make the step up.
The 5 year plan for me isn’t very ambitious. In the first two seasons my side have finished 4th and 2nd but the board seem to still only aim for a Europa Conference place. Even becoming the ‘best of the rest’, technically we are aligning ourselves in the fight for the top three.
If you’re doing well then I feel the board should up the objectives and add a bit more pressure. It might sound a little crazy but I love being up against it and under pressure, if anything it will help the club move even further forward!
Marcus Edwards & the Squad vs. the Manager
Strap yourselves in for this as it is some transfer scandal with all the twists and turns!
Marcus Edwards is arguably my best player on paper and there is always going to be interest in him. This summer however, instead of asking to leave the winger asked for a new contract – originally to my delight.
However, this is where it all starts to go wrong. The maximum wage the club can offer to a player is £31k a week which would have been a very good increase for Edwards but he had other ideas asking for £52k a week! Negotiations naturally broke down, I upped his bonuses, appearance, goal and assist fees but he was hellbent on that suggested weekly wage. After a private chat, I tried again but this time I walked away in frustration of the lack of negotiation from Edwards and his agent.
But then revolt begins…
So not massive players in the squad, Tomas Handel isn’t even here at this moment in time and Jordi Osei-Tutu is already in a mood because he’s obsessing over a link to Levante at the moment…not too sure why but each to their own.
After getting nowhere, I decide to offer Marcus Edwards out to clubs for £32.5 million which is a sale price I had agreed with him last season. Ukranian big boys Shakhtar came in with a poor £22 million bid (non-negotiable) so I reject it. Edwards storms into my office once more basically saying I’m out of line for rejecting…we eventually agreed on a new sale price of £30 million but of course he’s till unhappy. Next thing I know, more of the starting squad come to kick off…Levitt & Dina Ebimbe come for round two.
I was able to reason with the majority of the boys but a few were still not happy…you can’t please everyone in life suppose. Then the media get started and I get the blame even though it’s simply down to the budgets. At least the media don’t think it involved key players even though I had half of them in my office in the last meeting!
Then the two players regarded as ‘Team Leaders’ socially turn up. One being captain Pedro Henrique who was amongst the group who came for a chat last time.
With Andre Almeida in there as well, I couldn’t tick these two off as well or we’d really be in trouble – both massive players for us. I give in and state I’ll try again. Marcus Edwards was willing to talk and I thought he may drop his demands a little but into the negotiation and it’s still that weekly wage of £52k a week?! Surely he and his agent must recognise that the club can’t afford it!
It all breaks down again but this time it was in relatively quick fashion, it’s fair to say everyone has had enough at this point.
Edwards hands in the transfer request and I accept it, he wants to be paid what he judges to be his worth and Vitoria Guimaraes simply can’t afford it right now.
Did a £30 million bid come in? No it did not because disaster struck for Marcus just when he thought he was on his way out…
During a pre-season friendly, Edwards picks up a groin strain meaning his return would be close to deadline day. No club is now interested due to his injury status meaning his fleeing of Guimaraes will have to wait until January.
Summer Transfer Window 2023/24
Right let’s get on to the window after that whirlwind of a battle! Although, the fun doesn’t stop there.
There was still some clearing out to do in the U23s, U19s and the ‘B’ Team, this meant the Unwanted List made a return and DoF Luis Campos would be tasked with finding clubs for these players.
Some have been with the club since the start, others were bought by former DoF – Jaime Teixeira. The vision is to have the ‘B’ Team full of the best players from the U23s & U19s as they play in the Portuguese league setup, the ‘B’ team are currently in tier four after relegation last time out.
On to the sales themselves and it was busy across the board.
There’s going to be a few names you recognise there, I’m not happy some have left but this summer it has been players wanting out, opposed to the president getting involved.
Midfielders Andre Andre (£400k – Las Palmas), Tiago Silva (£400k – Vitesse) & Ruben Lameiras (£1.5m – Alaves) were all sold due to the average age rule, if I had kept them then the end of the window would be even more problematic!
Young midfielder Tomas Handel goes out on loan to Rio Ave after last season’s spell at Arouca was cut short due to a broken foot. Highly rated young winger Issahaku Abdul Fatawu will spend the season on loan at Austrian side WSG Tirol. Bought him last year but didn’t get him on the pitch enough so regular football should get his development back on track.
I’m gutted to say Herculano Nabian has left for Watford – fee of £10 million. My prodigy turned his back on the dream for the Premier League (makes sense I guess) despite the work I have put into his development. In the first season he was worth £800k but the sale price was the agreed price between the player and I, this one hurt a little.
A round up of the rest, Jordi Osei-Tutu did move to Levante for £1.5m so a small profit made there but it’s a strange move! Young centre back Andre Amaro has signed for Crystal Palace for a decent £7.5m. Amaro was on the fringes but couldn’t break into the back three, maybe Palace will have a better plan for him. Striker Sergio Diaz left for his native Paraguay joining Olimpia for £625k, it just didn’t work out for Diaz here so we wish him well. Lastly cup goalkeeper Matous Trmal left for Villarreal for £1m as it was an opportunity he wanted to take and I was happy for him to leave at this point of the save.
Some of the outgoing loans include players signed by DoF Luis Campos so you may notice these players when we check out his signings.
Nine players come into the first team, a few of them being Portuguese which I was happy about as the squad was turning very international.
As stated in the last instalment, striker Samuele Mulattieri joins on a free from Inter after an impressive loan spell. Young winger Diego Moreira joins from Benfica B for £2.8m, already good enough to play and bags of potential. Two loanees from last season were retained in Jose Marsa (CB – £800k – Sporting B) & Reece Devine (LWB – £1.1m – Man Utd) after both were transfer listed at their former clubs.
Following Osei-Tutu’s departure, right back Filipe Cruz was signed from Benfica on loan. Reason for the loan is I’m hoping that he will be transfer listed on his return to Benfica (similar to Marsa & Devine) and we can get him on the cheap permanently. Winger Nuno Moreira signed from Vizela for £2.5m, this is the replacement for Herculano Nabian. Another centre back was brought in from Benfica (little raid on them this summer) in Antonio Silva for £4.3m, this is to give more depth in the ball playing defender role.
Then on deadline day, Polish goalkeeper Radoslaw Majecki was signed from AS Monaco for £4m after a glowing scout report and the outgoing Trmal. Then with four hours to go I needed another midfielder otherwise I would be resigning due to the average age being over 23. After some tough negotiations with Liverpool, Harvey Elliott joined on a season long loan but was it enough to save our job?
Phew! We’re still here but that was way too close for comfort, I’d never been so nervy on a deadline day before. A very busy window for the ins and outs that for sure, check out all the new Vitoria players right here!
Director of Football Signings
Luis Campos was very busy this summer on both sides of the market and he’s brought in seven new faces for the development squads. Some of these players look like they can turn into very good players, although others remain to be seen.
Andre Leitao is an attacking midfielder who already holds some value, he is currently loaned out for the season. Gabriel Bras was brought in from Porto B for £9k, the centre back is also out on loan already. Rudi Almeida has had a fair chunk of money spent on him from Benfica B, at £375k. The striker looks like he will be some player though and is out on a development loan as well.
Full back Jake Leake was signed on a free (released from Hull) on a one year contract but he’s got a lot of work ahead of him this season to stay with the club. Winger Oscar Bobb was released by Man City but looks a very good prospect, he is 20 so the next season or two is key for his future here. Yilan Okou who is another full back, is another who will need to work hard over the next season to stick around and lastly a third left back was signed (strange!) in Seb Revan following his release from Aston Villa. Not bad in terms of base attributes although that dribbling stat needs improving.
Its a very good window by Campos all in all but a couple of players will have to prove me wrong if they are to progress at the club.
The Squad, Tactics & Pre-Season Results
A pretty decent squad for the season, a few players looking to be in their prime such as Abdul Mumin & Falaye Sacko, the same can be said for Andre Almeida & Marcus Edwards. Despite the listed positions, some do play elsewhere such as Toni Borevkovic & Jose Marsa who are centre backs within the squad, Dylan Levitt is used as a centre midfielder as well. Harvey Elliott will feature in either a central playmaker role or on either wing.
The below will let you see the difference between this season’s roles and instructions compared to last season’s.
In possession this season standard passing will be used, work ball into the box has been chosen over hit early crosses. The team will not play as wide shape wise as well. In transition the only change is to counter press instead of regrouping due to a struggle of winning the ball higher up the pitch. Out of possession, force opposition outside is not used anymore as it effected the team’s overall shape when defending.
Positionally the striker is now in the ‘poacher’ opposed to being an advanced forward to ensure they are always in and around the box. The left centre midfielder will operate as a ‘deep-lying playmaker’ instead of the mezzala role as when they drifted out wide this left a gap in the middle.
Despite all our troubles occurring over the summer, what a performance from the boys in pre-season. We won every game and even beat Italian side Roma 3-0! Some consistent scorers, especially Samuele Mulattieri who scored an impressive nine goals over the six games. Centre back Toni Borevkovic found an eye for goal too, finding the net four times including a hattrick against South African side Master Peace (What a name that is!).
Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira Final 2023/24
After winning last season’s Taça de Portugal, this pitted us against runaway league winners Porto. My team’s record is very good against Porto but the games are always close, which way did it swing on this occasion?
WE LOVE THE SUPERTAÇA!!! For the second season in a row, Vitoria Guimaraes win the season’s curtain raiser with a 1-0 victory over Porto! That’s my third trophy here and maybe it is an indication of things to come.
In a very close encounter, it was debutant winger Nuno Moreira who scored the goal, arriving at the back post unmarked to finish off a low cross. It’s still very pleasing seeing how much the team steps up against the ‘big three’ in Portugal and I’m just excited for what we can produce season on season!
Well firstly let’s all calm down and take a breath after whatever this madness was! Then next time out it will be a look at the first half of the competitive season, which will feature the Primeira Liga, Champions League group stage and both domestic cups. Busy and exciting times 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/
Thank you as always for reading and taking the time to join me on this project, I’m forever grateful for it. Make sure you all take care during these uncertain times and I’ll be back real soon.