Regression isn’t usually a positive. It is for me though in the context of my fourth season in charge of Vitória on FM19.
We slipped a league position to 3rd and were three points away from our total from the previous season too. We could have won a domestic quadruple, taking home the Primeira Liga, Taca de Portugal, Taca da Liga and Supertaca. It was only a domestic cup treble we had to settle for in the end. Coming up short in the league once again.
The league remains elusive and I’m fine with that. The challenge that Benfica and Porto pose along with Sporting and Braga, coupled with some of the incredibly promising young talent that we’ve got coming through at the club, keeps me coming back to the game.
|Vitória Team Stats||Figure||Position 21/22||Position 20/21|
|Shots on Target||40%||17th||5th|
Looking at the stats for this season I’m actually a bit puzzled. We’re ranked middle of the road in the league for possession and crosses completed. Our pass completion this season was down on the previous season. Our tackles won and shots on target completely flipped season-on-season. We still rank as the best converters in the league.
I asked myself “how do we actually play? What makes us a good side?”
On passes, I’ll outline later on that our main players playing DLP this season have the highest and third highest pass completion ratios in the league, respectively. That’s where the extent of our possession ends though. When we have the ball it’s quickly funneled to our DLP who then lays it off to our more advanced players. From there, it’s all about being direct and playing with an increased level of risk. If the pass doesn’t come off, that’s fine. Try again next time.
This is the same with our crossing too. There’s a few different dimensions to our attack, having options out wide does play a big part in that though. Our full backs are both encouraged to swing the ball into the box at any opportunity, with my left back being hugely encouraged to bomb forward. My right winger is also encouraged to get the ball into the box for any targets we have in there. The encouragement to cross more often might see us rushing them rather than taking our time to pick out a free man or a run.
The situation is similar for our shooting ability too. Only Porto and Sporting took more shots than us in the league this season, they rank higher than us in getting them on target. However, we’re the best in the league at scoring from our shots. So working this out, the more shots we take, the worse we are at getting them on target but the ones we get on target are more likely to go in.
I can’t totally explain that huge swing in the tackles won percentage this season compared to last but I do know that we like to win the ball back higher up the pitch by counter pressing and we’re ranked as having the second best tacklers in the league, meaning that’s keeping our fouls low.
Jori remains number one playing 43 of our 53 matches this season, as I gave his 21-year-old countryman, Gabriel Brazão, a few more chances to impress.
He kept 16 clean sheets across those matches, 15 of those were in the league, finishing 3rd on the list behind Benfica’s Vlachodimos and Braga’s Vaná, who both kept 19. At 26, I don’t see him improving any further now in terms of his attributes, this is him at or approaching his peak ability. We’ve got some promising young keepers coming through the youth setup who’ll likely take over the number one jersey eventually.
Teodoro Paredes was the leading appearance maker again, as he added another 3,969 minutes onto his tally from the previous two seasons of 8,475 meaning he’s playing an absolutely whopping amount of football since joining the club.
Toni Borevkovic continued his stellar form alongside him too, playing 40 matches this season. We really missed his presence in the last month of the season. He made the second most key headers in the league this season and was 7th on the list for most headers won, four of those were goals from corners too. The 6’4″ Croat is a rock at the back and is now worth £11m.
Luis Miguel may have only made 15 appearances this season and played 1,350 minutes but he was making history while doing it as the first homegrown player to play for the club under my management. He represents the future of the club in the centre of defence but it’s an area we’re actually quite weak in, with the current players on the pathway not quite up to Miguel’s standard.
The first time that Rafa Soares doesn’t make an appearance here after his record sale to Spurs in January. His replacement does though.
He played 1,340 minutes more this season compared to last on his way to one goal and six assists. You hate to see those red downward arrows but I suppose it’s a bit unfair to others for him to be as good as he is. He appears in the headers won ratio in 3rd place, winning 86% of his aerial duels, his jumping reach and height helping him with him being quite tall for a full back. The best news of the off-season was that I’ve been able to get him signed up to a new long term deal which gets rid of his previous minimum fee release clause. His value has soared, what a player he is.
Víctor García continues to perform admirably at right back, averaging a 7.06 over the course of his 40 appearances. Fernando Fonseca managed 1,406 minutes as his understudy. Together they recorded five assists.
I’ve mentioned already that our DLPs were 1st and 3rd on the pass completion percentage list in the league this season. They were Guillermo Celis and Pedro Ferreira. They job shared the position this season, playing 1,928 and 1,771 minutes, respectively. Similarly to last season when Celis made the list, both players were in the top 20 for tackles per game too.
Grønli struggled with injury in the second half of the season and only managed to play in 35 of our 53 matches. He certainly didn’t live up to his incredible performances of last season but he did still manage to record 11 assists and six goals, and cover the most distance per 90 minutes of anyone in the league when he did play for the second season running (12.9km, up from his figure last season).
Pick of the midfield this season is Thaciano. He hasn’t had too many mentions in his time at the club so far since joining from Gremio for £1.6m ahead of season two but he stepped up his game this season and is now one of the most valuable players at the club.
He scored 13, one of those being the winner in the Taca de Portugal final, assisted seven and picked up four man of the match awards rotating between the Mez(S) and Mez(A) roles. He finished 5th in the average rating table too, with a 7.24 over the course of his 28 league appearances. He and Grønli were 5th and 1st in the distance covered per 90 minutes table in the league, a key aspect of our Mezzalas.
A notable mention goes to Miguel Reisinho who stepped up from the B team and stepped in when he was needed to play. He scored three and assisted seven over the course of his 1,880 minutes this season.
I found it very difficult to pick between our main wide men last season, and it’s the same this season too.
Ferreira’s output changed slightly compared to last season. He scored eight compared to last season’s 19, but his assists increased from six to 11. 10 of those came in the league, where he was second in the assists table. His 34 key passes saw him come 7th in that table, while he was 3rd for chances created, with 13. His high dribbling attribute sees him doing 1.6 per game, but I’d quite like to be higher, with Gabrielzinho of Rio Ave doing 2.66 per game.
He made his Portuguese international debut this season too which was great to see. At £29m he’s currently the most valuable player at the club, how long will it be before the bids come in this summer?
The inside forward position on the left continues to be the most effective area of the pitch for us. I really do think playing a left footed player in this role is adding to that effectiveness.
Majer didn’t quite have the season that Kelvin had before him, but he still did very well. He scored 14 (11 of those were in the league, finishing 7th) and assisted nine across his 44 appearances. While Ferreira was 3rd for chances created, Majer was top with 15. A good first season in Guimarães for the Croat.
Similarly to Majer, Dejan Joveljic had a very good first season for us.
He finished top scorer with 21 goals in 44 appearances, with six assists for his teammates too. 13 of his goals came in the Primeira Liga where he finished joint 3rd top scorer with Michy Batshuayi behind Benfica’s Stevan Jovetic and Cova de Piedade’s on loan striker from Porto, Pedro Vieira.
He had the 4th most shots in the league and 5th most on target for the season. As I expect from my forwards though, he’s not all about just scoring goals. He was joint 5th in the league for chances created too, with 11, behind our wide men Majer and Ferreira. What a trio.
A special mention up top for Herman Geelmuyden who made the breakthrough to the first team this season after a few years of acclimatisation in the youth squads. He scored 11 goals in 860 minutes of action, a goal every 78 minutes.
The bank balance got a very healthy boost from the record transfer sale income we made this season (£71m) coupled with Champions League prize money (£19.8m) for the first time. The state of the club coffers at the end of the season led me to ask the board whether we could upgrade both the training and youth facilities. A bit of persuading and work had begun with £10m being spent taking them to state of the art and superb, respectively. We end the season with £51m in the bank.
We move up to 90% in the percentage of our capacity being filled though for each league home match. Another step in the right direction seeing as it was 81% last season. Our league average attendance increased by 4% to 25,146. A slower increase compared to last season, but an increase nonetheless. Our reputation increased this season too, but it’s still not enough to overhaul Sporting to become the 3rd most reputable club in the country. It’ll happen…
Our European efforts this season, two wins from our six Champions League group stage matches, see us rise 15 places to 59th in the continental club rankings. Again, Portugal remains 6th in the country coefficients but the clubs in continental competition across the season only gained enough points to rank 8th overall for this season. We need to start getting better results in Europe, alongside Porto and Benfica, to maintain and improve on this position.
That’s it for season four then. Another top three achieved alongside a domestic cup treble and our most successful season to date financially. What will my fifth season at Vitória have in store?
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