Here we are, back in sunny Guimaraes, Portugal and back with the team I’m finding myself more attached to. When I took a short break to jump on ‘The American Tale‘ network save for the intro & first season, I had a great time playing it but in the back of my mind all I could think about was this pre-season with Vitoria Guimaraes.
Thinking back to the end of season three, it brought some joy with winning the Liga de Taça for the first time in the club’s history. This meant that all three Portuguese domestic trophies have been won during this project but it was another second placed finish in the league, as the team just couldn’t keep up with Porto’s imperious form.
Today however, it is all about preparation with the summer transfer window which brings some new faces to the squad, with an overview of this season’s tactics with the pre-season results also for viewing. The Champions League draw has also taken place and is was another place in pot 4 which is always nervy times!
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!
Summer Transfer Window 2024/25
The past couple of windows have been action packed in terms of players wanting to go elsewhere and one or two trying to start a revolt against me, of which I’m still here and they aren’t! Thankfully, this window was a bit calmer as I had a vision of what I wanted and where to move us closer to winning that first Primeira liga.
There was a few first teamers to leave, goalkeeper Celton Biai signed a pre-contract and moved to Crystal Palace for free, as mentioned in the season three finale Jeando Fuchs was moving to Espanyol for free due to the same reasons as Biai.
Then three more left in a row, Oscar Estupinan signed for Real Vallodolid for £1.5m after he was no longer needed, before Dylan Levitt also went to Spain for £450k to Malaga. It just didn’t work out for for Levitt here, just couldn’t get him to play at the standard I wanted to, often with average performances. Winger Dina Ebimbe decided he’d had enough at Vitoria SC, taking a step down to Bundesliga 2 with Werder Bremen (£1.7m).
The rest of the deals were the standard development loans, Ghanaian winger Issahaku Abdul Fatawu who is part of the first team has been loaned out to Dutch side Fortuna Sittard in the Eredivisie. This is to try and increase his game time/progress after a poor spell in Austria last season.
Six signings in total and it wasn’t just about improving the squad collectively, certain positions were targeted in what I feel will propel closer or to the title.
James Garner was signed on a free from Man Utd after his contract wasn’t renewed. Garner is a great option in central midfield, with the capability of playing as a playmaker or in a more defensive role. Next was last season’s loan star Filipe Cruz signed from Benfica for £4.5m. Benfica rejected me enquiry for the right wing back but after a chat with his agent, it was clear this price was going to be good enough.
Defensive minded central midfielder Amadou Onana was signed from Lille for £6m as a direct replacement for Jeando Fuchs. Onana looks to be a very good player and will battle Alfa Semedo for a starting place. Following Celton Biai’s departure, young goalkeeper Andre Gomes joined from Benfica for £3.4m. Gomes will serve as back up to Majecki but will get cup opportunities this season for sure.
Facundo Pellistri was next in the door from Man Utd for £4m, he will provide cover for Nuno Moreira on the left wing but can also play on the right or up top if needed. The last signing did come on deadline day but Marcus Edwards has finally been replaced with young right winger Matias Soule. Signed from Juventus for a club record £12m. He still has a little work to do to get to the level of Edwards but I have full faith that Matias will produce…well he best do with the number 7 shirt!
As you may have guessed, for another season I scrape the average age rule of 23 but nonetheless I don’t mind as long as this project carries on!
Director of Football Signings
Mr. Luis Campos was active in the window bringing in three new faces and spending small amounts whilst he was at it.
Leanardo Romero was signed for £60k from Santos, the young left winger has a bit of work to do but has the potential for the first team. Next up is another winger but on the right in Severino, signed from Vasco for £7.75k. Similar circumstances as Romero in terms of development but Campos did make a mistake giving him a regular starter role. Despite being in the U23s, Severino now kicks off when he isn’t registered for the league or champions league squad.
The last signing was Jose Machedo from Porto on a free. A third winger signed but Machedo doesn’t look on par with the other two. Still, I’ll track his progression and then a decision will be made when the time comes on his future.
The Squad, Tactics & Pre-Season Results
A few changes to the squad as seen above but I’m really quite happy with how it’s looking for this season.
Parts of the defence is starting to get on a bit which is something that will need reviewing at the end of this season I’d say. Don’t think we’re light on centre backs as a couple of players listed as full backs actually play centrally for me.
Young goalkeeper Antonio Meneses has been hand picked from the youth squads as my next project, currently rated two stars but I’m looking to propel that this season depending on cup match opponents.
The options across the board are really pleasing, I feel the squad now has viable depth in all areas and also there is a player of real quality in each department of the team which is pleasing. I’m really hoping this squad will be the one to get me a league title.
I haven’t shown this across the save so far but this shows the leaders around the camp which makes for good viewing. Players like Tomas Handel who have been at the club since the start is still in the remaining group, but newer signings like Nuno Moreira & Garcia McNulty certainly showing there early influences within the dressing room.
The tactics remain the same for this season with the 3-2-2-3 being the go to system for the team. Only a minor change to that tactic with the striker now playing under the Advanced Forward role in an attempt to get more goals back into the team from this area.
The 4-2-3-1 is our counter attacking tactic, which is essentially used in matches where I feel the team may be up against it a little bit. It’s had some great effect over the seasons and really drove some of the side’s exploits in last season’s champions league, taking four points off of Bayern Munich.
It was a bit of a mixed pre-season, sometimes the team scored a lot of goals but sometimes they drew some blanks which caused some unexpected draws and a loss. There was games in there we should’ve won against Club Brugge (0-0), FC Utrecht (0-0) & Fortuna Sittard (2-2) but at the same time there was intent in these games to attack, it was just a matter of getting the job done.
I can only be optimistic for the season, friendlies don’t always provide the full story but an improvement needs to be made.
Champions League Group Stage Draw 2024/25
A little treat here as I will reveal the teams who Vitoria Guimaraes will face in the group stage this season…will it work in our favour or is it leaning towards a group of death?
Wow. Just wow. I thought Bayern Munich & Atletico Madrid was hard last season but I think this is slightly a level above. Two potent teams in PSG and Liverpool to try an overcome, with both having unbelievable squads. The other side, Dinamo Zagreb should be beatable in both matches so at this point, the aim is third place and a Europa League drop down.
Although, I said this last season and my side ended up sneaking through in second so who knows what will happen!
Up next it will be time to dive into the competitive season and if you haven’t picked up on it already, I want the league title and I will prioritise for this as well. This is a goal of the save and I believe the team can take that step. Easier said than done though when there are three other competitions to worry about!
Emperor FM is currently on a journey to take Deportivo back to the heights of Spain and Europe – check out the series here.
TomBlogsFM has come on board at DP-FM and has taken on the task of toppling Bayern Munich with the much loved Borussia Dortmund in ‘Breaking Bayern’. Check out this one here.
RileyFM who has recently joined the DP-FM guest blogging team, is on his own journey in Italy with Cagliari, track his progress here.
Thanks to you all for your time and I hope everyone has enjoyed this one. It’s great to be back on this save and I’m excited to crack on with the season! Take care everyone.