It’s time to get stuck into some actual match action with Vitória. If you’ve missed any of the posts so far, click here and catch up.
After taking my time to analyse the squad, I’d identified a few actions to take. Ahead of the pre-season friendlies beginning I was able to trim almost £5k off the weekly wage bill. Nuca was never going to break into the first team so off he went permanently for £7.25k, along with letting 24-year-old Ghanaian defensive midfielder, Joseph Amoah, go on loan for £5.5k a month, to Cova de Piedade. Junior Tallo left the B team squad to go on loan to Leixoes for £10k per month, while Falaye Sacko will spend the season with Belenenses and Sebastián Rincón returned back to his home nation with Once Caldas for £5k a month. None of these fees will change the landscape of the club, but every little helps.
We started pre-season with back-to-back wins over lower league opposition. You can plan and plan, but things like Davidson, who I’d identified as our first choice shadow striker, getting injured for two months 10 minutes into the 5-0 win over Santa Maria will always happen.
Brazilian forward and Ex-Barcelona player, Keirrison, came in on trial during pre-season but I decided against making him a contract offer at the current time. He spent a short time on loan with Benfica during the 2009/10 season but seems to have never lived up to the initial hype surrounding him. He got some minutes during the tour of Belo Horizonte, where we played against Caldense, Villa Nova and Ipatinga, all Brazilian lower league sides.
Ahead of my first competitive match in charge, the Taca da Liga 2nd Phase match against Estoril, the squad win bonus option appeared. I scaled it down to the low option for both the league and cup bonuses which took the transfer budget up to £600k. I then moved this down a couple of notches into the wage budget to give me some extra freedom. Going into the season the transfer budget sits at £400k and £111k available in the wage budget, with that previous overspend I mentioned on my first day now under control and down to around £105k per week. A few players didn’t seem too happy, but it looks like I’ve gotten away with it. Lovely stuff.
Estoril away was a potential banana skin in the cup, they were relegated last season and have a few very decent players including Kléber up top and ex-RBL starlet, Renat Dadasov. In the end, it was a comfortable start to competitive life as Vitória manager. Tozé and Mattheus Oliveira both missed penalties which would have made the 3-0 scoreline even more emphatic.
I felt it’d be good to get some more minutes under our belts ahead of the league season starting, so I arranged the Standard Liege friendly and kept the home money-spinner against our parent club, league rivals, Porto. This saw us earning a couple of decent draws against good quality opposition to complete our pre-season schedule before we came crashing down to earth.
I was hugely confident going into my first competitive home match against newly promoted Santa Clara, maybe too confident. After I’d backed them in the squad analysis piece, Douglas in goals and Afonso playing in the central CB slot both made errors to gift them their two goals. At 2-0 down after 24minutes, we huffed and puffed for the remainder of the match but couldn’t create anything meaningful to break down their dogged backline. That being said, I wasn’t going to rip up the whole approach after matchday one and the decision to stick to my guns paid off by bouncing back and finishing August with wins over Rio Ave and Feirense. Afonso is yet to win his place back in the side, especially after his replacement, Porto loanee, Osorio, scored in the Rio Ave win.
On the eve of the Santa Clara defeat the board announced we’d sold 15k season tickets which brought just over £1m into the club. It’s great to see the people of Guimarães be so passionate about Vitória just like I’d heard they were.
The end of August brought the end of the summer transfer window too. After analysing the squad, I didn’t think I needed huge numbers of recruits or to drastically change things. I’d patiently waited for opportunities to either add a bit of quality, a little more depth or to boost the youth ranks with some more promising young players. It wasn’t until deadline day I chose to make a move.
André Pereira comes in to provide attacking back up in the first team. He’ll be with us for the season from Porto, with our parent club paying his wages. Good value. Geelmuyden (£41k, potentially rising to £65k) and Grønli (£160k, potentially rising to £185k) are cracking finds from my extended transfer committee of Vincent Guzman, Nestor and I on Slack. They can take credit for Geelmuyden, while I’m claiming Grønli who almost looks good enough to walk into my first team. They’ll both acclimatise to life in Portugal in our u19 squad for now. Despite those signings, the weekly wage bill is currently under £100k with a few more players leaving across the month. Tiago Martins and Gonçalo Tabuaço were two of the young goalkeepers deemed surplus to requirements so out they went to Gil Vicente and Pedras Rubras, respectively. The £1k per week contract of 20-year-old left back, Jorginho, is being paid by Limianos as he spends the season on loan there. Adding up the incomings and outgoings, this takes my net spend for the summer to around £5k, plus chipping around £10k off the weekly wage bill.
19-year-old Burkinabe central defender, Edmond Tapsoba, scored a thumping header on his first team debut to get us underway against Moreirense, with the 4-1 win being our best result so far. The 3rd Phase of the Taca da Liga is a group stage, and we were drawn into Group A with our rivals, Braga, plus LigaPro side Viseu and Santa Clara, giving us an early opportunity to get one back over them. The winner of each of the four groups at this stage goes into the semi final and we got off to a great start, downing Braga 3-2 at home. Welthon’s blank against Benfica ended his seven goals in five matches scoring streak. He’s scored eight goals in eight matches this season, undroppable form.
Wing play is a huge part of our tactic, but I don’t want us to become one dimensional. After the 3-2 win over Braga in the Taca, I added a change to focus play through the middle to try and encourage those central four midfield players to get on the ball and influence play a bit more. Teixeira’s equaliser at the Estadio da Luz on matchday six was a perfect example of that happening. He received a lovely pass from Rafael Soares on the edge of the area, one touch to control and another to slot it past Vlachodimos in goals for Benfica.
We’ve been growing in confidence since that defeat on matchday one in the league, going six matches unbeaten in all competitions, and avoiding defeat in our first competitive match against one of Os Três Grandes is a big boost to that confidence too. We don’t have long to wait before we face another, we kick off October with a home match against Porto. We go into that match three points behind them in 3rd place.
I’ll be back with you for another update in a few months time. Can we keep our league form up and stay in both domestic cup competitions? Will there be players knocking on the door wanting to leave ahead of the January transfer window?