The season is flying by and I’m loving managing Vitória on FM19 so far…
I’ve reached the January transfer window, plus there’s the small matter of some matches to play as well, including a quarter final and semi final in both domestic cup competitions. Have a read on to see what happened across the month.
Off the pitch, the month went okay. On it? It started poorly with a 1-1 draw against Aves, the kind of match we really should be winning at home. After that, it went horrifically downhill. We’ll deal with some of the transfer activity first though.
It was a month for rejecting some bids I deemed not good enough. Nice put in a bid that could potentially be worth £2m for Wakaso, who’s been a solid 7/10 performer so far in the carrilero role, rejected. Pedro Henrique kicked up a fuss at a paltry £3.3m bid being rejected by Cruzeiro. The post-rejection chat didn’t go well at all, so our best central defender is now unhappy. A whopping 50% of his next transfer goes to his previous club, Cianorte, so I’d prefer to get a bit more back for ourselves too.
I mentioned in the last post I was looking for a left back after Hanin left for Montpellier and I’d narrowed it down to these two.
Both players are fairly similar in quality, with Pará just shading it in his physical attributes, which as you’ll hopefully know I highly value. Although he was to be the more expensive deal, an initial £250k which could potentially rise to £600k versus the £175k we’d agreed with Porto for Inácio, his wage demands were £200 per week less expensive. Inácio’s £4.2k contract offer would have actually made him our highest paid player at the club, something I wasn’t prepared to sanction despite the cheap fee. So I decided on…
Pará becomes my third permanent signing at the club and the highest transfer fee I’ve paid to date. He also ticks the box of my first Brazilian arrival at the club, something I’ll be looking to do much more of in future. My fourth permanent signing wasn’t far behind. It’s always good to keep an eye on players who are released by bigger clubs, and I’ll certainly be monitoring that situation at Benfica, Sporting and Porto over the next few seasons. It was the latter that decided Pierre-Noah Mabika wasn’t going to make the breakthrough at the Dragão.
Rafa Soares got himself sent off in our terrible 3-1 loss away to rivals Braga. All of their goals came in the first half and all of them were from corners. Excellent. Soares’ sending off meant Pará was thrust in to make his debut in the Taca de Portugal 6th round against Nacional where he unfortunately gave away the penalty that knocked us out of the competition just hours after his arrival was confirmed. We dominated the game despite not really creating many clear goalscoring opportunities. We might have matched the board’s expectations but I would have liked to have made the semi final at least given it was there for the taking.
We then took our winless league run to four matches, succumbing to a 2-1 defeat at Belenenses, who’re flying high in 3rd place. A further match this month where we’ve really struggled to create goalscoring opportunities which is starting to worry me. It could be time to take a more in-depth look at what’s going wrong. Angolan wide man, Fredy, scored the winner in the 86th minute following young Tapsoba, who’d come on in the 72nd minute for Venâncio who was having a 5.9 shocker, missing a vital defensive header and letting him in behind to easily put the ball in the back of the net.
When Yacine Brahimi was sent off 31 minutes into our Taca da Liga semi final against Porto, the score was 0-0 and we were on top. We’d finally come alive again and created some good opportunities to score. Three minutes before half time, Héctor Herrera rose highest at the back post to nod home a corner (just after I’d tweaked our defensive corner routine in the week running up to this match) and from there there only really looked like one team going through to the final. Otávio made sure of Porto’s win after 64 minutes but it wasn’t to be for them in the final two days later, with Sporting retaining the trophy on penalties.
Before the month ended, there was a few fringe departures to deal with. Sebatián Rincon had spent the first half of the season out on loan to Once Caldas, and I took advantage of the interest being shown in him to cash in when he returned. He was never going to break into the first team, so to get £350k from AccordingtoFM’s América de Cali was an okay piece of business. 20-year-old forward, Aziz, was never going to make the grade, so he drops down to the Campeonato B with Gafanha on a free transfer. Loreintz Rosier, a young French defensive midfielder, had made 13 appearances for the B team so far this season and was attracting interest from a fair few Ligue 1 clubs. Again, I didn’t see a pathway for him into my first team so he’s gone to Guingamp for £135k plus 40% of his next sale.
Mário Ferreira is probably the most promising player at the club and he’s attracting major interest from big European sides. New Zealand international, Tyler Boyd has been sold for £160k to Feirense to pave the way for Ferreira to make the step up to the first team squad for the remainder of the season.
Rafa Benítez has declared interest in bringing him to London to join his Arsenal side, while I rejected multiple bids from Roma this month, the last one being a deal potentially rising to £825k. Benfica entered the race too, their final bid totaled £1.5m and I was glad to see the end of deadline day. He signed a new contract early on in the season in which I’d inserted a two year extension clause which I almost immediately activated, ensuring his contract runs until 2022. Will we be able to stave off the interest for much longer? Milan and Lazio are interested too…
Ahead of the Santa Clara match left wing back, Rafa Soares, was the subject of a £2.2m bid from Real Sociedad. Despite the signing of Pará he remains my first choice in the position and a player I’m not ready to part with just yet. He’s been arguably our best performer of the season so far on that left hand side too, laying on seven assists and scoring twice too. He proceeded to have the game of his life to end our disappointing month on a high with a league win over the side that beat us at home on matchday one. He scored twice himself and assisted the other two in our 4-1 win, earning man of the match with a 9.5 rating. That performance caught the attention of Sporting, who made a deadline day bid of £1.6m potentially rising to £2.8m. Sociedad came back in with an improved £2.8m deal, while Watford joined the hunt too, offering £4m. Better, but not enough for me to part with my star wing back. I’ve promised him we’d qualify for continental football and that seems to have appeased him, for now.
January transfer dealings see us bringing in £1.4m to the club and spending that potential £600k on Pará. We’re still £12k under the weekly wage budget and have £700k left in the transfer budget to potentially do a few early deals ahead of the summer. It’s a far cry from the £76m Benfica raked in from selling Álex Grimaldo to Man City and Talisca to Guangzhou.
A tough month on the pitch ends with us still in touch with the qualifying spots for European football next season.
Benfica are still flying and remain unbeaten. Porto’s defence is still rock solid and Sporting’s game in hand could see them jump above us into 4th spot. It remains to be seen whether Cesare Prandelli will be able to save struggling Boavista while Carlos Carvalhal has joined Rio Ave to try and steer them further away from the threat of relegation.
I’m glad to see the back of January. We’ve only got the league to compete in for the rest of the season now, I’m sure it’ll fly by. Thanks for reading and for all the great comments and interaction on the posts so far. It’s really appreciated.