Here we go then, season two! Time to get stuck in and go through my expectations ahead of this season, as well as the changes I’ve made to my backroom and playing staff. Read on if that tickles your fancy.
Last season we finished 3rd, and I’d love us to do the same this time round. The board want Europa League qualification from our league finish, a big jump on last season’s expectation, and the media expects us to finish 5th. Sporting will surely be much better this year, as well as AVB leading a resurgence at rivals, Braga. Portimonense and Belenenses were the main other challengers for the top five last season, with Rio Ave struggling in mid-table. We finished 3rd by four points last season, I reckon it’ll be much tighter this time round in the battle for Europa League spots.
Backroom staff changes
I mentioned at the back end of last season that the board had agreed for me to sign an extra coach and scout ahead of this season, and there was a few more changes made with some contracts expiring. Here’s a summary.
I lost my African scout, Pierre Aubame, to Arsenal, so in came former Nigeria national team manager and ex-Dortmund, Juve and Ajax player, Sundey Oliseh.
He’ll continue Aubame’s assignment of reporting back from the key African nations. Ex-Celtic and Huddersfield scout, Dutchman Sjaak van den Helder, comes in to find players from Holland, Belgium, Germany and France as Edwin Vandenbergh takes a less active role in identifying talent and will scout our future opposition.
Two of our first team physios left the club, and were replaced by significantly better quality ones. Marco Alves, Neal Reynolds and Hermann Kruckenfellner all have 20 for physiotherapy and take our ranking up to 2nd in the league for that area.
Assistant manager, Vicente Rocha, decided one season at Vitória was all he could manage as he decided to retire at 65. He caused some controversy recently, but I’ve taken a punt on Wally Downes as my new right hand man.
Delighted to bring Walter Samuel to Vitória and be reunited with him. His experience and personality will be a huge influence on our players. I’m equally as delighted to snap up Ian Cathro. While his time as Hearts manager didn’t exactly go as planned, he’s still one of footballs brightest young coaches and has previous experience of the Portuguese league from his time as Nuno’s assistant at Rio Ave. My fellow countryman, Scott Anderson, will also be taking charge of the u19 squad this season, as Tozé Mendes is promoted to u23 manager. That move is because I’ve finally managed to get Luís Castro to give up his dual role as u23 manager and head of youth development to solely be the HoYD.
Last season’s Mr. Consistent at the back, Pedro Henrique, heads to Lyon for £7.5m, our biggest fee received this summer and for the club in its history.
Unfortunately half of that fee goes to his former club, Cianorte, playing in the Brazilian lower leagues. I would have held out for more but he was making noises about wanting to leave and that was how high Lyon were willing to go with nobody else in the race, surprisingly.
Attacking midfield was one of the areas on the pitch I didn’t really settle on a definitive pick last season, and the move from having two players in that position to just one meant cutting down the options. Teixeira heads to fellow Primeira Liga side, Maritimo, for £900k. He’s got some great attributes but didn’t really set the world alight in any of his appearances last season. His lack of physical prowess means he doesn’t really fit the profile of players I like to have in my side, especially at the top end of the pitch.
Alexandre Guedes barely got a look in last season up front, he joins Portimonense for £67k and back up keeper, Miguel Silva, joins Setúbal for £45k. Cheap deals, but the aim was just to sell. The final first team departure was Dutchman, Ola John, heading on loan to Moreirense for the season, in a deal which will see us earn £300k. He was another that mainly found himself on the fringes and didn’t really play his way into my plans.
In my opinion the biggest transfer news of our summer was that both Rafa Soares and Mário Ferreira, probably our most sought after players, signed new contracts. Soares signs on until 2023 and becomes our highest paid player on £4,500 a week. 19-year-old Ferreira made the breakthrough into the first team towards the end of last season, but prior to that had attracted interest from some of Europe’s biggest clubs. His new deal is on a palty £800 a week but runs until 2024. The elite will have to wait a little longer, hopefully…
I already mentioned that we’d snapped up Luiz Phellype on a free from LigaPro winners, Pacos Ferreira and Jori, for £450k from Brazilian Serie B side, America Mineiro. Next, the main priority was replacing Pedro Henrique.
That task goes to this man. Teodoro Paredes arrives on a free transfer from Newell’s. He’s tall, strong, has good heading ability, good in the tackle and decent positioning. All the hallmarks of a good defender to me. I think he’ll be a good option in our back three.
Fernando Cardozo had been impressing for the Paraguayan u20s, he won Top Goalscorer and Best Player awards at the 2019 Toulon tournament, so I jumped at the opportunity to bring him in as our highest outlay on a player this summer (£500k potentially rising to £850k). He’s got a little bit of room for improvement still, but time is on his side. I’d love to see him improve his off the ball movement and composure, but he’s tall, quick and a really good finisher. He’ll provide competition up top for Welthon and Luiz Phellype.
I felt we needed a bit more strengthening at the back, giving us more first team options. Fernando Fonseca comes in on loan from Porto for the season to provide cover for Víctor García at right wing back. He’s not incredible by any stretch, but he’s great physically and gets forward whenever possible on that right hand side. According to FM, Borevkovic is a natural full back, but I see him comfortably slotting into the central back three. He’s got some good attributes, is huge and is hugely determined. He joins for £400k from Rio Ave, after starting his career in his homeland with Dinamo Zagreb.
The final summer signing is a wildcard. Sometimes you just need to add a bit of magic to a match, someone to do something out of the ordinary. Giorgi Arabidze arrives on loan from PSG for the season to do just that. He’s probably best coming in off the wings, but he’ll likely have to slot in either behind the strikers or as our second striker linking the play.
All in all we spent around £1.5m this summer and brought in some good options for the first team. There’s still £9m in the transfer budget and after selling 16,545 season tickets for this season, up on last season, the club balance is a very healthy £17m. Now it was time to get them gelling.
I like playing quite a number of friendlies ahead of the season starting. Getting the players fit is the main priority, followed by getting them acquainted and reacquainted with each other. This preseason was a mixture of challenging ourselves against better opposition (our parent club and reigning Primeira Liga champions, Porto), facing up to opponents I felt like we might face in the Europa League (Club Brugge and Rapid Vienna) and some hopefully morale boosting wins (Santa Maria, Titus Pétange, Oliveirense).
Next time, competitive football starts in my second season in charge of Vitória. Thanks for reading as always!
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