Sempre Vitória | Season Five | Preseason

If you need a short summary of my fourth season at Vitória, we finished 3rd in the Primeira Liga and won the Taca de Portugal, Taca da Liga and Supertaca. Our first foray into the Champions League was a story of almost but not good enough. We picked up a couple of wins but ultimately crashed out in 4th place in a group that contained PSG, Spurs and Schalke.

If you want a bit more of a detailed look at season four, here’s the story of the season in stats. Get yourself caught up and then read on to see how we’re shaping up ahead of season five.


Expectations

The bookies are expecting us to match our position in the league last season and finish 3rd again. Benfica and Porto remain strong despite making a fair bit from selling players this summer. Both spent well and continue to bleed youngsters into the first team in the same way we are. We’ll do well to be up there and challenging with them again this season.

The board are expecting Champions League qualification from our league finish, which means another top three placing. That should be fine, we haven’t finished lower than 3rd yet. However, they’re also expecting us to qualify for the Champions League group stage this season. We enter into the tricky best placed route and face a few rounds of probable tough ties if we’re going to make it. I’d be happy if we dropped into the Europa League if truth be told.

Squad planning

Out

Two of the older players in the squad who’ve been with me for the entirety of my time at the club depart. Right back Víctor García has been first choice for four seasons but I didn’t stand in the way when Crystal Palace came in with a potential £14m bid for the 28-year-old.

Wakaso’s time at the club also came to an end. The 30-year-old has been a bit-part player for the last few seasons but always performed well when required. He heads to Olympiakos for a decent fee of £5m.

I needed to show a bit of ruthlessness this summer to make room in the first team squad for young, fresh faces. I had to sign Ryan Gauld when I got the chance, but in truth, he was never going to be a first choice. At 26 and with a year left on his contract, he joins Aberdeen for a potential £1m.

When a club like Juventus come in for one of your young prospects it’s difficult to stand in their way and reject the bid. I managed to work their bid for Milos Radovic up to £1.5m with £500k added on in instalments and 30% of his next transfer coming to us. It’s not bad for a player we signed last summer for £825k, but it’s not an incredible profit by any stretch.

In another case of being unable to stand in a players way, Raúl Martins leaves for Benfica for a £1m fee plus 25% of his future sale. I really liked Martins and he was on the pathway to being our eventual DLP but he wanted to leave for Benfica. It’s our first sale to any of Os Três Grandes​ so far in my time at the club.

And the final case this summer of being unable to stand in a players way. With the season already having begun ahead of the window closing, Real Madrid dropped a £27m bid for Edgar Branco (a new record Vitória sale) and the player made his feelings known about where he wanted to go. I’d staved off bids from the Bundesliga all summer and I wasn’t quite ready to lose probably the most talented player at the club, but I’m in no position to say no to Real Madrid. We’ll gain 50% of his next transfer, which feels like it could be huge, but where is he going to go to from Real?

Promotions from within

A new section! I’m putting a huge focus on promoting promising players to the first team who’ve been developing well with the u19 and B team squads. Here are the players making the jump from the B team, who retained the LigaPro title last season, to the first team squad this season.

Igor Chaves is a homegrown Vitória youth player and was in the same season one intake as Luis Miguel. He now joins him in the first team after 49 appearances for the B team across the last 18 months, including nine goals and six assists last season. The wonderkid’s development has been excellent so far, winning the LigaPro Player of the Year last season was the icing on the cake. I’ve faced a battle to keep him at the club over the summer, with Benfica desperate to sign him for a potential £12m. It’s a huge fee but I think Chaves will be commanding much more after his first season in the first team.

After much abuse on Slack for not having him in my first team squad when he initially signed in January, Pedro Ferreira now joins up with the first team. My excuse was Joveljic and Geelmuyden were playing well and had been joined by big Franzoso as well at the time. Ferreira scored nine in 17 starts for the B team and all four will now battle it out for one spot up top. I see unhappiness issues coming soon…

Savinho and Luiz Fernando also make the step up from the B team into the first team this season. Both had very good seasons last season. Savinho was the DLP, pulling the strings with a 95% pass accuracy and the usual 7 out of 10 average rating for that role. Fernando mainly played in the Mez(A) role and hit 11 goals and laid on seven assists on the way to picking up the LigaPro Young Player of the Year.

The García sale took me by surprise a little bit, I wasn’t expecting anyone to come in for him so didn’t entirely plan that well for his departure. I decided not to tip my toe into the transfer market and promote from within to cover at right back. André Mendes is Guimarães through and through. Born in the city and homegrown at the club. He was actually here prior to my arrival, sometimes it pays not to just disregard all of your current youth players.

That’s us lost both our first choice full backs this summer but Fernandes joins Mendes in grabbing that opportunity with both hands. He was first choice left back for the B team last season and will provide cover for Josko Gvardiol this season in the first team.

In

The board armed me with a £49m war chest this summer window. I haven’t spent a penny of it bringing in players for the first team. My thoughts were we didn’t need too many additions, especially with the players joining the squad from the development pathway. However, I couldn’t resist bringing in a couple of fresh faces.

I’ve been tracking Jeong Woo-yeong for years and finally bring him in on a free transfer after being released by Bayern, after identifying him as a player whose benefits are two-fold. Firstly, I see him slotting in as cover out wide for us, he’s fast, a good dribbler and full of flair. Secondly, and probably more so, I see him as a route into making money from the lucrative Asian market. If he’s not on the best selling shirts list at the end of the season I’ll be disappointed, especially after he was given a unique squad number too. It’s all about the branding.

Fernández is another player I’ve tracked for some time, I even spoke about him on a previous scouting episode of the OneMoreGame pod. He arrives on a free transfer after being released by Fenix in Uruguay and I can see him slotting as either the attacking Mezzala or covering for Majer in the IF(A) role.

Results

I decided to test out a preseason tour as we headed to the Middle East for some even warmer weather training. I don’t think I’ll be doing it again after it cost us £2m in travel costs. We made up a little bit of that with an away friendly in the Nou Camp, taking a tanking from Barcelona.

Benfica fully deserved their win in the Supertaca which they eventually got after we valiantly took them to extra time. Matteo Politano is a constant danger when we meet. This means they’ll be no domestic cup treble this season.

Onwards to season five beginning!


If you liked this blog, or any others on the site, then I’d love you to consider donating to charity if you can. A few suggested links to some can be found below.

Donate to Special Effect – finding ways to enable people with physical disabilities to play video games.

Donate to Mind or SAMH – charities in England, Wales and Scotland providing mental health support and care.

CALM – leading the movement against the single biggest killer of men under the age of 45 in the UK, suicide.

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