Sempre Vitória | Season Three Review

On the face of it my third season at the helm of Vitória went very, very well. We finished 2nd in the Primeira Liga and won both the Taca da Liga and Taca de Portugal.

However, it could have been a domestic treble. Going into the final five matches of the league season we led the way to then lose our next two and hand Benfica the title. Some would say “bottle job”, I’d agree but I’m not disheartened. It was a good season all things considered and here’s the tale of it in stat form.

Team stats

This was actually our first full season of playing the 4-1-2-3 setup but with a few tweaks here and there.

Vitória Team StatsFigurePosition 20/21Position 19/20
Avg Possession51%7th1st
Pass Completion82%4th2nd
Tackles Won83%16th4th
Fouls Conceded36715th14th
Cross Completion14%8th10th
Shots on Target45%5th5th
Conversion Rate12%1st5th

Possession clearly isn’t everything. Last season we topped the table with 54% on average over the course of the season. This season we drop to 7th on average while having our best season so far, with Portimonense averaging 58% on their way to finishing 11th in the table. I said last season if we’ve got the ball our opponents don’t, but it doesn’t seem to have affected us too much this season on our way to equaling last season’s shots on target percentage and with our conversion rate being the best in the league.

We took a four percentage point dive in our tackles won this season as we were again low down in the fouls conceded ranking. This was on our way to the second lowest number of yellow cards and no red cards in league action over the course of the season. I see this as a positive, with the move from a slightly more reserved CM(S) to a more dynamic Mez(S) on the left hand side of our central midfield pairing. Maybe making less tackles but contributing more to play going forward.

Right now, the tactical plan for next season will remain the same so it’ll be interesting to compare this season’s stats to next.

Player stats

Goalkeeper

Despite a falling out last summer, Jori retained his number one jersey this season and actually played 52 out of a possible 54 matches, including every league minute available. He kept 22 clean sheets, six better than his tally from last season, with 15 of those coming in the league on his way to conceding just under one goal a game (32 conceded in 34 league matches). He managed to cut down his mistakes leading to goals this season too compared to last, so that’s an improvement.

I’m still a bit torn. I don’t think he screams out long term goalkeeper at me, we have some talented young keepers coming through the youth teams too who my coaches really like. It’s too soon for them so unless my scouts find a real stand out available for a good price, Jori will remain our number one.

Central defence

Teodoro Paredes has played 8,475 minutes over the course of the last two seasons which I think is an outrageous stat for an outfield player. Incredible from our Mr. Dependable, who made the Primeira Liga Team of the Year. He’s a consistent seven out of 10 performer each week. He was 18th in the league for key headers this season making 39 while Toni Borevkovic was 4th on the list, making 56.

The 6’4″ Croat signed from Rio Ave last season for £400k and it looks like a proper bargain looking back now. He was 14th on the overall average rating table for the league with 7.20 and he’s a danger in both boxes too, scoring four goals this season as well as partnering Paredes at the back.

Frederico Venâncio fell right out of favour in the second half of the season, which is funny as for the most part of the first half he was moaning about wanting to leave while playing well as one of the first choice CB pairing. He’ll now get his wish over the summer as I look to promote from within with Romain Correia, stepping back up from the B team, and Luis Miguel, homegrown Vitória youth prospect, coming up to the first team next season to supplement Borevkovic and Paredes.

Full back

Rafa Soares captained the side to our two cup successes this season and added eight assists onto his total, making it 33 across my three seasons managing him so far. He’s now worth £20m and made the Primeira Liga Team of the Year for the second time in three seasons. I wouldn’t say he was overshadowed by this man, but for me, Edgar Branco had a breakout season as Soares’ understudy.

He’s now deemed a wonderkid and my only worry is that I can’t get him to sign a new deal to extend his current one which runs out next summer. His agent is playing hardball with a minimum fee release clause of just £2.2m. He played 1,407 first team minutes this season, scoring two and assisting six. He’s massively improved across a few aspects of his game, however his personality has gone from fairly professional to unambitious. Initially maybe a negative on the surface, but maybe it’ll mean he doesn’t see his future being away from the club.

Víctor García performed admirably on the right hand side of defence this season in his 46 matches played. Similar to Paredes, he’s a consistent 7/10 man each week. His equaliser against Porto in the league from January won our club Goal of the Season award. What a hit it was.

Central midfield

Guillermo Celis played 40 matches this season, making the DLP(D) position his own. He topped the pass completion table with 93% of his passes finding a teammate and was 8th overall in the tackles per game table with 3.66. A lovely characteristic of the DLP role. Shielding in front of the back four and moving the ball on to keep possession ticking.

There’s supporting mentions for Thaciano and Felipe Soares who both played around 2,400 minutes this season, mainly rotating for that second CM slot. Similarly to the second CB slot, Thaciano was mainly utilised in the first half of the season, scoring five and assisting six while Soares worked his way into the side in the second half of the season, when we hit our stride. He scored six and assisted seven as our Mez(S). Soares was 3rd in the league for distance covered per 90, running 12.73km on average while Thaciano was 7th doing 12.69km. Soares was our signing of the season, coming in last summer for what now looks like a bargain £2m. He’s currently valued at £18.25m.

He was the star of my second season and he’s the star of my third too.

Our Norwegian wonderkid had an outrageous season and is now our most valuable player at £22m. His list of accomplishments is pretty long this season so here they are all listed:

  • 23 assists, 14 in the league on the way to the Most Assists award
  • 16 goals, 8 in the league putting him in the top 20 scorers
  • Supporters’ Player of the Year
  • Primeira Liga Young Player of the Year
  • Made the Primeira Liga Team of the Year
  • 2nd in league average rating, 7.48
  • Most Player of the Match awards, 7
  • Most distance covered per 90 in the league, 12.82km
  • He loves a shot, 73 overall this season, 12th in the league
  • 2nd in league key passes, 41 overall
  • Joint 5th in chances created, 10
  • 2nd highest cross completion ratio, 30%, mainly coming from corners I’d presume

I love him and never want to let him go. We unashamedly made full use of his set piece prowess this season as we were top scorers from corners, joint top scorers from indirect free kicks and top scorers from direct free kicks. If you’ve got it, flaunt it.

Out wide

Grønli might be my pick for player of the season, but there was two standouts on the wings for us that played incredibly too.

It was a breakout season for Mário Ferreira. He started the season over on the left as our inside forward but the emergence of the next man I’ll be talking about meant he settled over on the right as a winger. He made 44 appearances in total and scored 19 goals, 11 of those in the league putting him joint 5th top scorer. 60% of his shots were on target, 9th in the league and his conversion rate was 20% putting him 12th in that table.

He did only make six assists over the course of the season which I feel is a bit low, but he ranked highly on key passes (31, 8th) and chances created (10, joint 5th). Maybe he’s creating chances that we’re just not putting away.

Then there’s the loan star. Last season Giorgi Arabidze impressed from PSG as our left footed inside forward on the left, this season was all about Kelvin in that role.

It took him some time to get up to full fitness when he initially joined but when he broke into the team he took his opportunity with open arms. He scored a goal every 96 minutes this season for us, hitting 27 in 36 appearances overall. 22 of those were in the league as he finished top scorer with a goal every 81 minutes, earning him the Primeira Liga Player of the Year award and a spot in the Team of the Year too. He gets shots away (69 in total), he gets them on target (51 (2nd in the league) which is 74% (joint 1st in the league)) and he coverts them (31%, 3rd in the league).

He also assisted nine goals this season, our second highest total, so he’s not just getting on the end of chances, he’s creating them for others too. I’d love to make his loan move permanent but I don’t see a scenario where we’d be able to afford the fee or his wages any time soon.

Jhon Murillo had a good season playing understudy on the right wing, playing just shy of 2,000 minutes overall on his way to seven assists and five goals. The other loan signing we made out wide last summer, Jamie Yayi Mpie, hardly got a look in this season and didn’t really impress when he did. I need to remember and put recall clauses in any future loans. January signing Xadas’ appearances were restricted to coming off the bench 13 times but I see him slotting nicely into that IF(A) role next season that Kelvin played this season.

Striker

It was a bit of a strange season for our strikers. Again, they were mainly deployed as foils to create space for our wide men to be our main scoring threats. I still think Nando Cardozo is the most talented forward at the club, but he struggled for form in the first half of the season then was out injured for the first part of the second half. When he returned to full fitness in early April he did manage to score six goals in nine appearances though which gives me hope for next season.

He’s also now deemed a wonderkid which is always great to see. He finished up the season on 13 goals in total from 32 appearances.

Cardozo’s January injury saw me bring in Mason Greenwood as a quality replacement, and he had an almost instant impact. He scored the first goal in our Taca da Liga final win against Porto on his first start and followed that up with six more goals in 23 appearances. Loans don’t always work out, but I’m definitely classing both Greenwood’s and Kelvin’s as huge successes this season.

If he doesn’t make the breakthrough at United, he knows where we are.

Club progress

We end the season with just over £23m in the bank. Comparing that to last season’s £18m we ended on, it’s clear to see the balance is going in the right direction. That’s even with the board deciding we needed to pay out £2m for undersoil heating to be installed. Is it cold in Guimarães?

The Europa League prize money helped again along with our TV deal. I keep having to remind myself we’ve qualified for the group stage of the Champions League next season thanks to our league finish this season so the financial gains from that will be massive for us.

We saw an 11% increase in our average attendance versus last season, with the stadium at 81% of capacity on average which again is up on last season’s total of 72%. That’s just the league totals, with the club being well supported in the Europa League too. We’re still the 4th most reputable club in the country behind the traditional Os Três Grandes, however three seasons of finishing above Sporting must see us close to catching them now in 3rd spot.

Portugal stays in 6th place in the European coefficient table, and it looks like it’ll stay that way for a few more seasons yet as Benfica and Porto crashed out in the Champions League 1st knockout round and we did the same in the Europa League. Our results did see us rise 40 places in the European Club Rankings though, we’re up to 74th now.

I think that classes as a successful season. We made huge progress and managed to win our first trophy closely followed by our second, bringing home both domestic cup competitions. We fell just short in the league in the end but that gives us something to aim for in future seasons. How would we fare next season?

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Sempre Vitória!

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