Welcome back one and all to the mid-season update of season three. As you may have saw last time out, it was a turbulent summer after Marcus Edwards’ high contract demands with it all ending in a transfer request. However, an unfortunately timed injury means he remains with us until January at least.
Not all was doom and gloom however, nine new faces came into the first team and the third trophy of our tenure was secured when we retained the Supertaça Cândido de Oliveira!
In today’s review, it is mainly all about the football as we navigate through to January in the Primeira Liga, Champions League group stage and both domestic cups. The youth intake preview has also come in for all of our viewing.
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 into the results and the rest of it, our president – Mr. Lisboa added an extra £54k a week to the wage budget much to my surprise during the first half of the season.
You may be thinking, Marcus Edwards can stay now right? Well he doesn’t even want to open negotiations for a new contract so he remains transfer listed by request.
Primeira Liga 2023/24
August – October 2023
It was a decent start all in all, September was a little frustrating goal wise as the lads struggled to put their chances away against teams we should be beating. Unfortunately in the first eight games, my strikers Samuele Mulattieri & Oscar Estupinan have only scored 3 goals between them – they have all come from Samuele. There has been no change to their role as the ‘poacher’ role has been used since towards the end of last season.
It’s good to see new winger Nuno Moreira is settling in well, scoring four goals in this opening period and is looking like he may become very important for us. Another positive is the amount of clean sheets, six in eight games is great form. Especially when we haven’t been able to score in matches, at least defensively the boys stand strong as a unit.
November – December 2023
Well for November, things carried on in great form with three solid and convincing victories over Braga (2-0), Vizela (3-1) & Tondela (3-0). With these kind of performances, I was looking forward to the month of December but we began to stutter…
It was a real struggle at times, the loss to Estoril (1-2) was unexpected due to their then low league position. A poor second half performance against Porto saw us throw the game away, followed by two frustrating draws with Benfica. To only muster five points from a possible fifteen loses a lot of ground in the league at this point.
League Table Update
Third place at this moment in time, there are two games in hand on Porto but even winning them would leave a five point gap. Sporting are in the same scenario and if they pick up full points from their two games, then they’ll be top by two points. However, looking at the schedule and fixture re-arrangements, Vitoria SC – Sporting should form one of the two games in hand…no pressure then.
Benfica are up there with us as usual, they’re actually still unbeaten but have drawn a lot of game already which explains their position. Regardless, the second half of the season has to be almost stellar from my side if we want to dream of a first title.
Domestic Cups 2023/24
Liga de Taça
The Portuguese league cup where my lot enter into the group stage (third round…strange I know). The opponents are fellow Primeira Liga side Vizela and Liga 2 side Casa Pia.
Slender wins as both sides are beaten 1-0, I’ve noticed that in domestic cups we don’t look too convincing when we’re starting off but seem to hit our stride later on. Who am I to complain though, a win is a win and two of them guarantee progression at this stage.
Top of the group and a nice cushion to the others however, in terms of goal scored this is not the group for it! This puts us into the semi-final where Vitoria SC, Sporting, Porto & Benfica are in the hat for the draw…
Sporting it is and I’m not too sure how I feel about this one given their current form but then again, anything can happen in the cup!
Taça de Portugal
Our quest to defend the Taça de Portugal has begun, as it was time to navigate through the early rounds.
You’re probably wondering who the hell is that team who took us to penalties but before that Liga 2 side Torreense worked us hard for a 2-1 win before fourth tier side Loures took us all the way to penalties?! To their credit, Loures were definitely up for it and my boys looked complacent. Thankfully, my team held their nerve and won 5-3 on penalties.
More familiar opponents in Pacos Ferreira were faced in the fifth round which brought a better performance and a 2-0 win. It will be Primeira Liga side and rivals Boavista in round six.
Champions League Group Stage 2023/24
As I see the name ‘Vitoria SC’ lie in pot four for the draw I was hoping for some luck here and a bit of an easy ride…
Well it will be some ride that’s for sure, at this point my aim is third place and a drop down to the Europa League. I feel we should be able to beat Shakhtar.
Have some of that then! It’s safe to say Vitoria Guimaraes came to play! Shakhtar were seen off in both games as expected but taking four points off of Bayern Munich is momentous for the club. The 2-1 win over The Bavaria was a bit of a smash and grab but I don’t care, you can’t write these sort of results!
On to the Atletico Madrid games and in the latter 1-0 loss, we were poor but at this point it didn’t matter as both teams were through. The 2-1 loss earlier in the group stage was infuriating, I couldn’t believe my side didn’t walk away with any of the points.
Regardless, the account we’ve made of ourselves is fantastic. Toppling a giant like Bayern Munich is a big achievement for the club.
It was close but Vitoria Guimaraes qualify for the knockout rounds to everybody’s shock! Finishing second though, leaves us in a precarious area for the draw…
Well then, two matches of ‘Pep-ball’ it is! You know what, I’m kind of happy about it as it’s very unlikely that we’ll win the competition. Let’s go into the game under no pressure and see what is in store for us.
Youth Intake Preview 2023/24
To round things off, let’s have a look at this season’s projection to see if it lives up to the heights of season one and two.
An absolutely beautiful site! Three positions rated A, one a piece at B & C. I only use out and out full backs in the 4-2-3-1 counter tactic but I’m sure a little retraining to wing backs shouldn’t be too much work. Looking forward to the centre midfielder area as depth in this position has always been a slight issue.
The next part will be the remainder of season three, including the January transfer window and that highly projected youth intake. My targets are the league and trying to recover as close to the top as we can but, I also want to win the club their first Liga de Taça trophy so I will be going for it full throttle in that semi-final with Sporting!
Emperor FM is currently on a journey to take Deportivo back to the heights of Spain and Europe – check out his latest episode here.
RileyFM who has recently joined the DP-FM guest blogging team, is on his own journey in Italy with Cagliari, track his recent progress here.
As always guys, thank you for reading and supporting, it means a lot to us at DP-FM. Hope you all had a lovely Christmas and can look forward to the new year. Take care all of you!