In update one we’d made a poor initial start to the league season but turned it around with four wins and a draw in our five league fixtures since the defeat on matchday one.
That saw us sitting third in the league, behind Porto and Benfica. Could we sustain that level of form?
Porto end our unbeaten run by snatching a 2-1 win infront of our highest home crowd of the season so far. They deserved it on the overall balance of play although Aboubakar’s winning goal came from one of those wide free kicks that can be easily rolled to a player who travels into the box unopposed for a free shot at goal. You know the ones.
Pedro “Pêpê” Rodrigues hasn’t been able to break into either central midfield slot so I accepted his request for his loan to be terminated and he returns to Benfica. That’s another £1.3k a week cut off the wage bill.
Deadline day arrival and Porto loanee, André Pereira, had only appeared in 37 minutes of action before he was ruled out for a month whilst trying to get match fit in an u23 match. First choice right back, Víctor García, had scored two in two against Benfica and Porto but would also be ruled out of action for a month, straining his groin in the comprehensive Taca de Portugal 3rd round win against third tier side Armacenenses. Sporting found themselves crashing out 2-1 away at LigaPro side Leixoes.
We rounded off October with two matches in three days. The Portimonense match was 3rd hosting 4th. They lined up in a similar formation to ours and it was an end-to-end contest as we shared four goals. Revenge was then gained against Santa Clara in the second match of the Taca da Liga 3rd Phase group stage, albeit not as emphatically as I would’ve liked. The tight 1-0 win all but secured our passage to the semi final, a good achievement in my first season in charge and one the board weren’t expecting.
A towering header from Pedro Henrique, probably our most consistent performer at the back so far this season, brought all three points against Nacional. It would have been nice to assert our dominance a bit more with another goal or two. Welthon then notched his tenth goal of the season against Maritimo but again we couldn’t turn our dominance into better chances to get the win after their equaliser with more than half an hour still to play.
Just when I thought November was going to be largely uneventful, Florent Hanin, second choice left wing back, approached me about being unable to settle in the area. The 28-year-old Frenchman rejected my offer of a short leave of absence with the only thing he wanted being to leave the club. We’ll see if we get any offers for him come January with Amiens already interested in the £1.3m valued player. Guillermo Celis has started to moan too, but this was about his lack of gametime. He’s started six of our 14 competitive matches so far up to when he raised his concern, and came on as a sub in four more, totaling 619 minutes of action, 49% of all available minutes. He’s a valuable squad member, good across both central midfield roles so I’ll look to play him in a few more matches.
A free kick and a penalty takes us into the 5th round of the Taca de Portugal past a stubborn Chaves side. They lined up with three central defenders and four players across the DM slots so set pieces were going to be vital to get through their stodgy defence. Three home wins across the month and finishing off with scoring four against our namesakes (Vitória de) Setúbal in the Clássico Vitoriano. Davidson is back to full fitness after his injury in pre-season and was pushing for more starts. His double and 7.75 average rating across the two league matches he played this month earned him the November Player of the Month award. His second against Setúbal was a long range pearler that won him the November Goal of the Month. Not bad.
Just as the month was ending the board approached me about a new contract. Always a good sign during your first season in charge. I’m loving it here and it was a no brainer to commit for longer. It’ll run until 2020.
The transfer rumours begin and before we’d even played a match this month I decided to take advantage of the interest being shown in Hanin. In came Montpellier with an £850k bid and he’ll return to his home country when the window opens at the start of next month.
A disappointing stalemate kicked off the month, with Chaves then sacking their manager after a 3-1 loss to Belenenses in their next match. Only further hitting home my disappointment to not pick up three points. We did manage to beat managerless Boavista though, after they’d dropped into the relegation zone ahead of matchday 13.
The Viseu cup double header was the bread on the outside of a Sporting sandwich, rounding off our matches against Os Três Grandes in the first half of the season. Two points from nine against them? I’ll take it. We’d given Benfica and Porto a game, but were actually largely disappointing against Sporting, not really troubling them at the back. Rafa Soares equalised with a great free kick, and we held on in the last 15 minutes with 10 men after Víctor Garcia was shown a straight red.
The league table at the end of December is a lovely sight.
Benfica remain unbeaten after inflicting Porto with their first defeat of the league season on matchday 14, both sides are flying though with Os Vimaranenses leading the chasing pack in 3rd spot. We’re unbeaten in seven league matches now since that Porto defeat at the beginning of October (I think the form column might be a bit broken since we’ve drawn three of our last five, I’ll raise it on the forum).
Back to those comfortable Viseu cup wins and they take us into the 6th round (quarter final) of the Taca de Portugal (with the 3rd phase group stage looking like the below) and the semi final of the Taca da Liga.
We go into the January transfer window armed with a £813k transfer budget and £14k spare in the weekly wage bill to spend. Not much room to bring in much quality, but overall, I’m happy with the squad as it currently is. My main priority is a left back to replace Hanin. I’ll be back with you to go over what happened in January, as we’ve also got those aforementioned next rounds of each cup to play too, potentially even a final if we overcome Porto in the Taca da Liga.