The 1st Season: Fighting, Clawing, Scraping.
So, we have a mic of screenshots here, the dark ones are from the Statman skin, the light ones from the Mustermann skin, both available on the SI forums. They are both brilliant IMO, and well worth a look!
The season did not get off to a good start. Luckily everyone’s expectations were low enough that it didn’t really matter, but as a coach, it was frustrating.
With the world cup being played, there was going to be a decent winter break, and I for one was thankful, because of the first 20 games we played, we won 6, drew 6, and lost 8, which at first glance seems respectable, but when three of the wins come in cup competitions against lesser opponents, it really does open your eyes a little (OK, maybe a lot) as to how poorly we were doing.
There were some “Expected Losses”, losing 3-1 to Sporting was one of them. Losing to Porto as well, despite the fact they were up 2-0 after 17 minutes, Fabio Cardoso getting sent off and a straight red in 25th minute gave me a glimmer a hope that being a man up, we could do something. Instead Eustachio scored in the 35th minute, and they defended really well the rest of the match. Draws against Arouca and Casa Pia, who were both bottom of the table at that point, were frustrating, as was losing to Boavista in the League Cup Quarter final, only to turn around six days later and beat them 4 -0 had me reaching for the scotch.
But we had a process, and I wanted to stick to it, and so after we beat Boavista 4-0, I went back and looked at the Fall games, and other than the 3-1 losses to Porto and Sporting, the only other multi goal loss we had was against Portimonense, and that was 2-0. Against Maritomo we were a man down after the 27th minute, and it took a PK for them to score. Arouca clawed the draw back in the 82nd minute, Casa Pia on a PK in the 85th, we drew with Benfica after scoring in the 67th minute, Braga beat us in the 88th minute, Rio Ave fell apart the second half but we fell short a goal. The more I looked at it, the more I realized we weren’t really getting outplayed, we just weren’t making the most of our chances, and I was hoping the 4-0 against Boavista was a sign of things to come. The other part of me said I was being delusional, but that voice in my head wasn’t invited in and was kicked out short order. Trust in the process, I kept reminding myself. The Process being: Hang on for dear life and don’t get relegated.
So we went into the January transfer window, maybe not with optimism, but cautious optimism. To be honest I suspect most of the backroom staff were trying to figure out how Uruguay, who beat Brazil 1-0 in the 2nd Round, Spain 1-0 in the Quarters, and Argentina on Penalties in the Semi’s, beat France 2-1 in the Finals.
Those of us who figured that out were spending out time trying to figure out how South Korea beat Argentina 2-0 to take 3rd Place. We helped our finances by selling Andrezinho to Valerenga for 100K, and Tassano to Legia for 250K before January. Victor Bobsin left for Empoli and a 1.6M Euro deal, Allano went to Cuiba for 525K, Rildo went to Goias for the same amount in February, Ricardo Fernandes went to Fakel for 42K in April, and Adriano went to Nice for 750K in the summer transfer window. The only real loss was Bobsin, the others were older players who while decent, were not irreplaceable. That said, when I did when to strengthen the squad, I couldn’t bring anyone in, because I didn’t wages to pay for those players who were even considering it, and don’;’t even get me started on loans this version of FM, they are all the way befuckled IMO.
So we hunkered down, trained as best we could, and tried to get the new year off to a good start.
I couldn’t have asked for a better beginning to 2023.
A 4-0 win at Estoril, beating Gil Vicente 2-0 at home, beating Chaves 2-1, beating Vizela 1-0, getting our revenge against MRT by beating them 2-1, when January ended we were 5-0, with 11 goals for and 2 against, and climbing the table
Well earned draws against Famalicao and Sporting were very nice, but then Vitoria thumped us 3-0, and a back and forth 5-3 at Porto closed out February.
March was quiet, as we beat Arouca and Pacos de Ferreira, and then April was…frenetic. Our youth intake was pretty solid all things considered, with Michael Santos and Gervasio Cymbron both 4 ½ star potential candidates. Players who’s contracts were expiring were still wanting too much money, and I was pulling out what was left of my hair over some of the negotiations. Games wise, beating Casa Pia was expected, as they were bottom of the table, but only by one goal was disconcerting. Portimonense held us off in a 2-1 loss, we beat Rio Ave 2-0, and Benfica beat us easily 3-1. However, a week later, we beat Braga 1-0, and with 4 games left, we were in 6th place, fighting for European football.
Then we crapped the bed. Boavista, who were in a relegation battle, shut us out 3-0. We beat Estoril, 2-1, ensuring their relegation battle with Boavista would continue, but a Victor Carvalho goal gave Gil Vicente the 1-0 victory. Against Chaves we had nothing to lose, 6th place was our spot, and with a 1-0 draw we waited for 5th Place Braga to beat 11th Place Famalicao in the Portuguese Cup, therefore pushing a Euro Conference spot to us in 6th place, and instead they lost 2-0, and we lost out on European football, with a final record of 14-8-12, with 53 goals for and 50 goals against, on 50 points, only 32 behind League Champs Porto.
A look at the Year end statistics will tell you all you need to know about the team though, and to be honest it was both better and worse than I expected. In an 18 team league, finishing 6th in the Offensive Statistical categories is very good, finishing 13th in the defensive ones, not so much. We gave up to many draws and close losses, and finishing last in the league for shutout certainly didn’t help either.
From a League Statistic point of view, we were solid:
And yet, at the end of the day, it’s mostly a façade.
As with almost every club in the Primeira, we had a lot of loan players. While the ones here had some very good performances, Matheus Babi was our leading goal scorer for example, none of them are coming back. Replacing them is going to be hard, because despite overachieving this season, and finishing in the black, the teams finances are shakier than a Lebanese Belly Dancer. Our transfer budget is only 154K, our allowable payroll is just 1K higher than what we are paying now, and that’s before the players I try to bring in on loan clubs start asking me to pay 100% of their salary and huge monthly fees. Our scouting is at a bare minimum, I turned down the opportunity to create a B squad because we can’t afford it, and none of the facilities are getting upgraded.
Times like these I remind myself “Custer Had a Plan too…”
Then the last day of the season came this bit of news:
And I still haven’t gotten my Endrick Signature.
Thanks for Reading!