In the last post I took you through my tactical thinking in preparation for this post, evaluating the squad.
I’m a new manager in a new league. I’m joining Vitória with virtually no prior knowledge or preconceptions about any of the players currently at the club. I tend to not like to make big changes when joining a club. I won’t rip a squad apart and everyone will be given an opportunity to work their way into my thinking. However, I won’t make any promises around any current players being sold or new arrivals coming in. It’s important to judge what you’ve got at your disposal and make changes for the good of the club.
This initial look over the squad is my opinion. I’ll be evaluating the current backroom setup at the club next in order to determine whether any changes need to be made there to help me going forward. But let’s have a look at my players first.
For some, the most important position on the pitch. For me? I just want to know we’ve got a safe pair of hands back there.
Douglas and Miguel Silva are the current first team goalkeeping options. They’re the two longest serving players at the club, with Douglas having arrived in the 2010/11 season from Santos in Brazil and Miguel Silva joining as a youngster in 2013/14 from Vizela in the lower leagues. Silva is classed as homegrown at the club, and is actually the only player in the current first team squad to be so. Something to bear in mind going forward.
The big difference between the two is their age, with Douglas being 35 and Miguel 23. Other than that, generally not much separates them. Across each attribute area they tie on average. Looking further into it though a few differences come to the surface. Miguel looks much more dodgy with 18 for eccentricity and 16 for tendency to punch. Take out that high number for eccentricity and that sees Douglas clearly shading it on goalkeeping attributes, with his concentration, positioning and jumping reach all superior too.
Douglas will take the number one jersey and he’s also club captain.
One of the things to note about managing in Portugal is the number of players contracted to the club across the first team, under 23 squad, under 19 squad and also the B team. It’s important not to overlook the players currently under contract to see whether any are capable of making the step up to the first team now or in the future.
Dani Figueira from the u23 squad is the pick of the bunch. The 19-year-old is a Vitória youth product and when compared up to Douglas right now doesn’t really compete. Given time, he could develop into a suitable back up option for the first team. Sérgio Dutra is the other promising young player who looks as though he could breakthrough into the first team eventually, but he’s only 16 at the moment and will remain in the u19 squad.
There’s currently eight goalkeepers at the club who don’t look like they’ll ever make it as a first team or back up option. They’re making around £4k a week on wages, 3.7% of the total wage bill at the club. Sell, loan out or release.
Consider scouting a long term option to sign and eventually replace Douglas.
From now on, it’s important to keep that tactic I outlined in the last post in mind. I’ll be setting up with three central defenders.
Pedro Henrique is the most valuable defender at £3.2m and one of the joint highest paid players at the club. He’s been on loan at Vitória for the past three seasons but joined permanently prior to my arrival. The vice-captain and professional personality is the strongest player at the club and doesn’t have many weaknesses in his defensive game, other than perhaps lacking a willingness to be aggressive and get stuck in, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. At 25, and contracted until 2022, he’ll be one of the key options at the back.
Frederico Venâncio also just joined the club prior to my arrival, from Vitória de Setúbal, after spending last season on loan in the English Championship at Sheffield Wednesday. Similarly to Henrique, I see him being a very strong option for us in the defensive three. Good in the air, determined and aggressive, he’ll partner well with Henrique at the back. I can see both players attracting attention eventually if they perform to the best of their abilities for us.
It’s between 28-year-old João Afonso and 24-year-old Yordan Osorio to compete for that third slot in central defence. Osorio is on loan from Porto for the season, while Afonso has been at the club since 2014/15. Both look very competent options, with Osorio perhaps just shading it on account of his better heading and tackling but I’m going for Afonso to start the season as CB number three. He’s got to play for an extended deal beyond this season and he’s already a permanent member of the squad. Osorio may not quite make the breakthrough at Porto meaning he’s one to keep tabs on for a future transfer if he performs well.
24-year-old South African, Cafú Phete, could come in as a back up option from the B team while the prior decision to send Marcos Valente to Gil Vincente on loan for the season with no recall option looks like a poor one. Going down to the under 23 squad, Edmond Tapsoba looks like a very decent prospect.
The 19-year-old joined last season and already has four caps for Burkina Faso to his name. I really like the look of him and again, don’t see any major flaws to his game. I’m taking an immediate action to promote him to the first team squad.
Romain Correia from the under 19 squad also looks like someone who’s going to progress into a fine player.
He’s got a great personality for an 18-year-old and has the additional plus point of being a product of the Vitória youth academy. He’s also been immediately promoted to the first team now giving me six central defenders to choose from for the three slots.
Monitor progress of Tapsoba and Correia. Create mentoring group containing them alongside Henrique and Venâncio.
Consider scouting for additional future options to maintain depth, especially with Osorio only being on loan and Afonso potentially leaving at the end of the season.
We move on to the wing backs, who’ll be so vital in the formation in providing width and support going forward but maintaining solidity out wide when defending too.
On the right hand side, it’s a choice between Dodô and Víctor García. A reminder that the right sided wing back is set to support duty so there isn’t as much onus on him to get as far forward as his counterpart on the left. Dodô is on loan for the season from Shakhtar and the 19-year-old Brazilian is very highly rated, being valued at £4.4m, the most valuable player in the first team squad. However, García’s resolute personality, additional experience, the fact he’s a permanent Vitória player and him just shading it across the key defensive attributes for a wing back sees him getting the nod from me at RWB. I’ll have no doubts at all about Dodô playing when required though.
We have two strong options on the left hand side too between Rafa Soares and Florent Hanin. Both players arrived at the club just before me, Soares from Portimonense and Hanin from Belenenses. Soares is homegrown in the nation, younger and in my opinion, the better option of the two. His strong crossing ability will be ideal for what’s expected of him on that left hand side. Hanin is not a poor replacement though, he isn’t that far behind in terms of ability, and his key quality in natural fitness will come in very handy if matches come thick and fast, requiring rotation.
Right back, Falaye Sacko, and left back, David Sualehe, both look as though they could benefit from playing time in the B squad this season, so that’s where they’ll remain. João Vigário’s best position is classed as a winger, but I see him being able to slot in nicely at LWB. He’s spending the season out on loan at Estoril but is one to keep in mind as a homegrown at the club rotation option next season. There’s a couple of younger options in the u23s/u19s showing potential, but none majorly jumping out at me for now.
Loan out or promote to the B squad the older wing back options in the u23s for gametime.
Prioritise looking for extra options to come in at RWB, with Dodô only being on loan for the season.
I felt similarly when I was in the latter years of managing Stirling, in this tactic, I want my central midfield options to be well-rounded and capable of playing in both roles in the middle of the park.
André André is one of the most talented players at the club. He came through the Porto youth ranks before making his breakthrough at Varzim before being snapped up by Vitória in the 2012/13 season. His performances across three seasons in Guimarães saw Porto come back in for him before he then returned to Vitória this summer. With his trait of trying killer balls, I’m going to start him off in the deep lying playmaker role, where he’ll conduct proceedings.
Wakaso will be initially lining up alongside him in the carrilero role. His strength, stamina, bravery and aggression will be vital in that shuttling role across the midfield. I’m just hoping that dives into tackles trait doesn’t come back to bite him more often than not. The Ghanaian came through the ranks at Portimonense and is currently awaiting his paperwork to become a Portuguese citizen.
25-year-old Colombian, Guillermo Celis, and Pedro “Pêpê” Rodrigues, the 21-year-old on loan from Benfica for the season, will provide direct competition for both of the midfield roles.
There’s also a number of players suited to potentially both a role in the centre of midfield and one of the two attacking midfield roles. João Carlos Teixeira, Tozé and Mattheus Oliveira, who’s on loan from Sporting, could all easily play more advanced or as our deep lying playmaker.
19-year-old Vitória youth product, Miguel Reisinho, is showing signs of promise in the u23 squad while 18-year-old, André Almeida, is one to watch for sure from the u19 squad. However, my eye is very much on this lad.
Spanoudakis is a product of La Masia who’s spent the last three seasons in his home country with Stuttgart before joining Vitória in the summer. Currently not excelling or showing any weakness in any major areas, I think with some nurturing he could develop into a very good midfield option.
There’s a wealth of central midfield options at the club, streamline the playing staff and ship out any who are never going to progress to being a first team or back up option.
I mentioned Teixeira as an option for central midfield, but he’s probably the best attacking midfielder at the club.
The ex-Sporting, Liverpool and Porto player joined on a free transfer prior to my arrival and will likely slot into the treq role as part of the two behind the striker. His dribbling, first touch, passing and vision make him a danger for opposing defences and with those attributes he’ll hopefully be laying on a fair few assists this season. He’s not quite as explosive as I’d usually like though, so that’s definitely something to keep in mind going forward.
Davidson is the current pick to start as my shadow striker. He faces competition for the role from Dutchman, Ola John, and Kiwi, Tyler Boyd, but the 27-year-old Brazilian just pips them both for me on account of being more well-rounded. John is a flair player adept at dribbling, while Boyd is the quickest of the three. Davidson’s mental attributes stand out more. He’s got a decent work rate, he’s fairly composed and his running off the ball will be vital in the role he’s expected to perform. He isn’t out of this world by any stretch. Both positions behind the striker are definitely ones to keep an eye on.
Similarly to central midfield, there’s a number of potential attacking midfield options across the club squads. The B team contains 21-year-old homegrown prospect, Hélder Ferreira, who could use some gametime in the Portuguese second tier. Henry Medarious, a 20-year-old Ghanaian who predominantly plays on the right wing looks like he could be retrained to play centrally. However the big hope is this lad.
Ferreira has immediately been offered a full time contract with the club. I think it looks as though he’s got real potential and could develop into a great homegrown option for us in the first team squad. For now, he’ll stay with the u19s with his development closely monitored.
Add any promising attacking midfield options to the shortlist for the future.
Set training plans for all wingers to be proficient in playing centrally too.
Trim the numbers, i.e. those with no future at the club.
There’s three players capable of playing up front in the first team squad. None of them are convincing me on day one at the club, but that might change when I get into playing matches. Welthon is my choice of the three for the man up top.
He’s fast, is naturally fit and stays on his feet well both on and off the ball. His runs off the ball are okay, same as his dribbling and technique. I think it could work, but I’d love his finishing and composure to be better. He also has the dreaded shoots from distance trait. The 26-year-old led a pretty nomadic life in Brazil before settling at Pacos Ferreira in the 2016/17 season and scoring 15 goals in 42 games. Young Colombian, Oscar Estupiñán, is the current first choice back up. The Once Caldas product is of a similar mould to Welthon, albeit slightly behind on his physical development. Similarly, I’d really love to see him develop into a better forward, working on his finishing, composure, technique and off the ball movement. The third choice option is a 24-year-old product of the Sporting academy, Alexandre Guedes. Again, he’s similar to our current first team options, he has something about him but isn’t quite my type of striker.
There’s a couple of quite exciting sounding options in the u23 squad, without them necessarily being good enough to ever make the step up. Shan Huanhuan is a 19-year-old from China, Aziz is a 19-year-old Ghanaian, and Bence Biró is a 19-year-old from Hungary. All three have a lot of developing to do if they’re going to breakthrough into the first team, it’ll be interesting to see if any of them do eventually.
Pray for an Armando Marques to come through in season one’s youth intake.
Scout for an immediate option to improve the first team front line.
The preferred 11
Here’s how my preferred 11 looks in the tactic from the previous post.
We rank in the bottom half of the Primeira Liga for work rate as a team, and excluding the goalkeepers, we’re 16th out of 18. That’s got to change going forward, it’s one of my few non-negotiable attributes.
The squad lacks bravery too. Sitting 16th out of the 18 teams, excluding goalkeepers. Not a huge issue, but it could see our players failing to commit to tricky or risky situations on the pitch.
Our defenders are 15th out of 18 for tackling, and on or around about average for the remainder of the defensive attributes. Ideally, our defenders shouldn’t need to tackle, with their mental attributes negating anything last ditch needing to happen, but it’s still a key quality I look for across my back line.
Already called out but our strikers have an average of 12 for finishing, 11th out of 18 in the league. There’s a priority there to drastically improve that if we want to be successful in the long term.
Thanks for reading! Next up, I’ll be analysing the backroom staff and identifying targets to bring in to improve the quality of coaching, scouting and medical staff at the club.
Just a reminder that if you want to join up to #FMSlack to get involved in even more chat about all things FM, here’s the link you need. I usually update my save on there in real time when I’m playing if that’s something you want to follow along with.