Season three turned out to be our best one yet. We challenged for the Primeira Liga title, but ultimately fell short as Benfica picked up their first league win of the save so far. I did manage to win the first two trophies of my time at the club though, bringing the Taca da Liga and Taca de Portugal to Guimarães.
We’ve yet to make a huge dent on the European football front, Schalke sent us packing in the Europa League 1st knockout round this season after we fell at the same hurdle the season previous too. Our league finish last season means we’ve got Champions League football to look forward to this season, gaining automatic qualification to the group stage. That’s a huge leap forward for the club, especially money-wise.
The media are still underestimating us slightly and expect we’ll finish in 4th place behind Os Três Grandes. I’m happy to keep flying under radars however the board are expecting Champions League qualification from our league finish, which means 3rd or higher. That’s where I’m aiming.
Our domestic cup performance from last season now sees the board expecting us to make the semi finals of both competitions this season. I’d love to win at least one of them again and keep the trophy train rolling.
There’s no expectations on us in the Champions League group stage so I’m happy to see what group we get and then take things from there in terms of potentially targeting a 3rd place finish and dropping into the Europa League.
I mentioned a few roles players were playing in over the course of season three but didn’t really show how they all slotted together in the current tactic.
It’s not a change in shape since the last time I wrote about it but there has been a few tweaks. The central midfield pairing is now a couple of Mezzalas, which I feel is giving us a bit more of an offensive impetus in comparison to the previous CM(A)/CM(S) pairing. The IF(A) continues to be a key position for us, with Arabidze and Kelvin being our dangermen in previous seasons.
Two “in possession” team instructions have been added too. Pass into space which is encouraging our players to play a few more low percentage passes, especially those two Mezzalas, who often find our attacking full back on the left in acres of space. That’s coupled with the overlap on the left instruction, which is a bit silly as an attacking full back will get forward plenty anyway, especially with an IF(A) in front of him, but we’ve been playing brilliantly since I put it on and now I can’t bring myself to take it off.
I mentioned it in the previous post outlining the youth development plan but after 105 appearances across three seasons Frederico Venâncio leaves for Bordeaux for £3.6m. At 28, he certainly could still do a job but he’d requested to leave at various points last season and Bordeaux have got a bit of a bargain for someone who was previously valued around £8m but whose value dropped as he fell out of favour during the second half of the season. He and departing loanee Perr Schurrs’ slots in the squad are taken up by Romain Correia and Luis Miguel, who both featured in that previous post I mentioned.
Brazilian wide man, Davidson, also left this summer, heading to Vitesse for £750k. He’d scored 16 goals in 66 appearances in my time at the club, having a particularly good season in season two. He hardly got a sniff at first team football last season thanks to Ferreira’s form and Murillo being first choice back up.
Nando Cardozo, the Paraguayan wonderkid, heads to RBLeipzig for £17m plus 30% of his next sale. He was signed from Club Olimpia two seasons ago for £600k so that’s not a bad profit at all after 29 goals in 74 appearances. It certainly wasn’t in the plan to sell him this summer and I was looking forward to seeing how he’d do this season but when a club comes in with that type of fee and the player wants to go, I won’t stand in the way. We hit deadline day and that statement came into play again.
Filipe Soares was signed for £2m last summer from Estoril but after just one season at the club, albeit one that he played very well in, he moves to the Bundesliga and Gladbach for £24.5m and 25% of his next fee. He’d been moaning about a new contract over the summer and it was one that would have smashed through our current wage structure, giving him a whopping increase. I hadn’t given in to those demands so when Gladbach came in with a good first offer, I negotiated it slightly to push them for a bit more which they kindly accepted.
Those two big sales make it £46m taken in this season over the summer which smashes through the previous amount we’d taken in over any season so far.
There was only three first team signings this summer as I was largely happy to keep the bulk of last season’s squad together and promote from within to fill any gaps.
Last summer I made the decision to retrain Wakaso as a right back as there was no quality options jumping out at me to sign. As last season was coming to an end I was alerted that Fernando Fonseca’s Porto contract was expiring and he was set for release. He ticks a few boxes; he’s Portuguese, still relatively young, has a good personality and had a decent season on loan with us already in 2019/20. He’ll compete with Víctor García this season.
With Cardozo looking like he was on his way out, I had to swoop for some extra competition up front.
Dejan Joveljic joins from Red Star for £2m, a minimum fee release clause he had. He’s physically excellent and with a little bit of work on his finishing, technique and composure I can see him slotting in nicely up top. He’ll be competing with Luiz Phellype and Herman Geelmuyden for that role this season.
With a move to bring Kelvin back to the club ruled out due to his potential wage demands, I needed a replacement for him out wide on the left. Enter a popular name.
Lovro Majer perhaps isn’t as dynamic as the players we’ve previously deployed in the IF(A) position on the left, but he’s certainly got the ability to unlock opposition defences and get into good scoring positions himself. I was surprised to find him still at Dinamo and I think his £2.2m rising to £3.2m move will prove a bargain.
I also spent around £2m bringing six young prospects into the club from elsewhere this summer. Three of those came from Brazil, activating what I deemed as quite low minimum fee release clauses for the quality of player they were. Two were young Portuguese starlets with high potential and one was a Belgian on a free transfer from a club called Lyra Lierse. When these players make the first team, they’ll earn a screenshot in the blog.
Another decent preseason schedule with wins over some decent level Austrian and Belgian opposition.
We also managed to secure another bit of silverware, sneaking a 1-0 victory in the Supertaca against Benfica. We played well but it took an error from Vlachodimos in goals to secure the win. A domestic cup treble this season would be lovely! I hope you’ll join me across the posts from season four to find out how we get on.
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