Lusitânia Açores - Season Summary - 2034/35
Key figure - £38,099,128 | Summary
My prudence that is defining my spell in the Azores showed again this year and is the reason for my ever improving financial position. Unfortunately, I stress again, it's not a sign of increasing financial clout, but instead me being restrained. I'm also starting to worry I'm becoming a bit Wenger-ish. Sticking to my principles of not over-paying to the detriment of my chances of completing.
As a comparison with Porto, my main rival over the past decade, I spend £21m a year on wages, they spend £39m (Sporting spend £14m and Benfica, £11.5m). Net transfer spend tells a similar story. This season I made a profit of £17m from transfers, last year that profit was £23m, the year before that it was £6m (I won't keep going further back, but basically I've only made a net loss once, in 2024/35, and it was £6m) overall I've made a net transfer profit of £169m from my transfer dealings. Conversely, this season Porto made a net loss of £23m, the season before it was £20m.
Basically they are spending a huge amount more than me, and I wonder whether I've started to look at that more than improving my squad. What do you guys think? Should I loosen the purse strings or am I right to be managing the budgets properly?
1/ Training facilities improved again.
2/ We're very close to overhauling France and taking 6th place in the coefficients. We wouldn't get an extra place, but 3rd would go in at a later stage. We're still a long way behind 3rd and another CL space.
Transfers | 7 in (£1.1m) and 34 out (£18.75m) plus 14 loans
As I discussed above I've once again let prudence dictate my transfer dealings to some extent. This season saw a couple of established players leave. I let Partida leave in the summer and Svoboda went in January. In addition to these I released a lot of youth players who hadn't made it and sold a couple who hadn't progressed as much as I'd expected.
The mostly went to the feeder clubs. Those who went to Fatima helped the side get promoted to the top flight, meaning the partnership will end next season while Penafiel survived and Oriental narrowly missed out on promotion back to the Second League.
League | Predicted - 2nd
Table | Graph
Looked like being a close run thing this year as I had a slightly iffy start and Porto shot out of the blocks at lightning pace. They won all of their first 11 games (until I beat them!). However my form strengthened and the rest had slightly dodgy ends. In particular Porto were disappointing in the league falling away and finishing 4th meaning they miss out on the Champions League next season. It'll be interesting to see how they cope without the money from that. Good news for Benfica though as they took second (the first time Porto hadn't for more than a decade) to take a group spot.
Anyway, I'm waffling, basically I won it again, taking it to 14 titles in total and 13 consecutively.
Supertaça | Beaten Finalists
Lost to Sporting
Taça de Portugal | 4th Rd
The kids went out to Beira Mar
League Cup | Group Stage
Kids showed flashes of talent but not enough.
Group Stage | Table
A strong performance in a relatively straightforward group (the only competition came from Man City who I finished above in the end) left me hopeful for more progress this year.
First Knockout Round | 1st Leg | 2nd Leg
Our draw for the 1st Rd could definitely have been worse, but could also have been easier, any Spanish side in the CL are strong. Fortunately we brought our game with us. A 2-2 draw in Spain set us up well and we finished the job back on the island with style as we scored three unanswered goals.
Quarter Final | 1st Leg | 2nd Leg
So, onwards it was into the quarters. Bayern is never going to be an easy game but I was relieved to avoid the Spanish giant. We played well in Munich without getting a goal but a 1-0 defeat was no disaster. Bringing them back to Angra I was moderately confident. Two down at half time that confidence seemed misguided but a second half rally left us with a chance. In the end it was too little too late and we exited the cup on away goals.
Porto went on to lose to nine-man Sevilla on penalties in the final.
Squad | Overview
In a bid to save on space/typing I'm instilling a new regime. Bold still means first choice, italics mean exciting youngster and an * means the player came through the youth set up.
Pablo García - 4(1) apps, 6 conc, 3 cln - Decent back up, I fear that's all he'll ever be though. As with all my number two keepers I will look to keep him for a few seasons then let him go off and make a proper career for himself.
*Nelson Martins* - 4 apps, 3 conc, 2 cln - A hereto unheralded product of the youth academy, he was promoted to third choice keeper this year and performed reasonably when called upon. I don't think he'll ever be first choice, but he is useful (and cheap) back up.
*Ricardo Dias* - 38 apps, 24 conc, 20 cln - After ending last season as first choice he began this one in the same position. He performed well enough to allow me to let the long-serving Svoboda leave. He has established himself as a very good 'keeper for club and country and has absurd league record in his 50 games so far as he has managed to keep 32 clean sheets.
Pitoco - 40(1) apps, 6 asts, 3 MoMs - Solid as ever. I thought he might have to worry about Pesic but, though he made some appearances, t remained abundantly clear who the first choice was.
Silvio Nicastro - 30 apps, 2 asts - The full-back slots are pretty difficult to make a mark on in my team, Silvio is another player whose name just goes on the team sheet without even thinking. He is remarkably young for one who has played so many games and can only continue to improve. He's a real force on the left of defence.
Juan Ignacio Cortez - 3(6) apps, 1 MoM - The man I was slightly conflicted about last time I updated you continues to puzzle me slightly. He's improving nicely, has learned to play centre half (at the same time forgetting how to play at right back) and is being tutored my the big man himself - Descazals. I see him as being more effective in the middle than the flanks so we'll see what happens next season.
Sébastien Gautier - 35 apps, 1 gl, 3 asts, - A true club legend but he wasn't quite up to his own high standards this season. He was still excellent, but I'm hoping this isn't the beginning of the end of his peak. He's also started to make noises about leaving. If they escalate I may look to cash in while I can.
Hrvoje Bule - 1 app - He hasn't progressed nearly as well as I hoped and I think he might be moved on in the summer.
*Rui Lopes* - 7(13) apps - Continues in his position as a useful back up to the first choice defenders. I think that's probably his role in the squad, but he fulfils it well and is also still developing well.
*João Paulo* - 7(4) apps - Has started to shows signs of developing into a good player. He'll be looking to get more game time next season.
Christian Costin - 1 app - This young defender was picked up cheaply at the beginning of the season and I think he's got some good skills for his age. Next season should see him as a consistent part of the cup squads.
Meraneh Descazals - 38 apps, 7 gls, 1 ast, 3 MoMs - The club's elder statesman and captain continues to excel. The signs of age are beginning to show and he's not the force he once was but he's still a vital part of the team and a fantastic player. It might be time to look for someone to take over the reins though, in case his physical stats collapse during the next season. Might require some serious expenditure soon.
Stipe Pesic - 6 apps - Not as great an impact as I expected for the Croatian right back this year. I still think he'll play a big part of the club's future, he just needs that breakthrough season. Unfortunately for him Pitoco is a very solid player to try to displace.
Steve Hoggan - 4 apps - Tried to get rid of him last summer but there was not interest, I will look to move him on again, otherwise he will have to run down his contract.
Christian Minniti - 12 apps, 1 ast - Got some game time during Nicastro's injury breaks but didn't show enough to make me think about him replacing him permanently.
*Miguel Teixeira* - 4(25) apps, 2 asts - He continues to grow into his role and with Scaricamazza turning 30 last season he might find his responsibilities increasing over the coming months. He has never disappointed. A very handy product of the youth team.
Daniel Mordenti - 3 apps - Another young Argentine to arrive with potential and a small price tag. Picked up for a mere £500, I think he has the potential to be a very handy part of my midfield, and even if he doesn't he'll definitely make a tidy profit
Roberto Scaricamazza - 38 apps, 4 gls, 2 asts, 1 MoM - The midfield schemer had another decent season. He costs a lot though and he's starting to age and I'm afraid might find his time at the club coming to and end. I'm considering listening to offers for him over the off season.
Hacene Bentalaa - 34 apps, 7 gls, 13 asts, 3 MoMs - A fantastic first season in Portugal for the Algerian winger. He arrived as I looked to solve the right wing problem and certainly seemed to fit the bill. He scored and provided plenty of goals and generally looked a home in the league. At £875K he was a definite bargain.
Stefan Fink - 35 apps, 7 gls, 14 asts, 4 MoMs - Another great season for the Slovenian. He has become part of the furniture at the club and it's amazing to think I worried he might not be good enough for the first team. A cracking player.
Antonin Zak - 6(2) apps, 2 asts - He's not turned into quite the player I thought he would, he's very useful as a squad player, but he's not showed many signs of developing into more than that. Furthermore his path to the first team is now blocked by another exciting youngster.
Bernardo Hoyos - 2 apps, 1 gl - He'll have to be disappointed with how little he played this year, but he was kept out because of the form of those ahead of him. Hopefully he'll pick himself up because he may be needed next season.
*Paulo Jorge Vieira* - 40 apps, 6 gls, 17 asts, 4 MoMs - Partida's departure meant he became undisputed first choice in midfield this season and the extra pressure suited him. He rose to the challenge and delivered his best season yet. Big, big future for him.
*Jorge Mendes* - 4 apps, 2 asts - Still waiting to graduate from the cup squad and he may never manage that. He is never going to be of the quality to challenge for a starting berth in a Champions' League chasing side. But he does add depth to the side and has time to sand a few of the rough edges off his game.
*Álvaro Pinto* - 10(12) apps, 2 gls, 2 asts, 1 MoM - A useful squad player. He managed to turn some games around when he came off the bench and is, pleasingly, still developing.
*Sérgio Rodrigues* - 2(9) apps, 1 ast - Another of our youth products with bags of potential. Unfortunately he found his path blocked by injuries this season. I hope it's not going to be part of his whole career, but at the moment he appears to be somewhat injury prone. If he can get past that and improve his physical/mental stats he can become another first team player.
Lasse Tuominen - 5(1), 1 gl, 1 ast - The man I expect to leap ahead of Zak in the pecking order behind Fink next season. He has improved his physical stats a lot this year (they're still not quite there) and has bags of technical skill. I'm very excited about this young Finn's potential.
Alan Neira - 29(2) apps, 12 gls, 8 asts, 2 MoMs - The club legend had a few injury problems this season and that, combined with a slight drop in form, saw him play less than he has in previous years. He is facing some competition for his place from some younger upstarts. It'll be interesting to see how he reacts.
Mihajlo Djokovic - 7(4) apps, 7 gls, 3 asts, 3 MoMs - The main guy pressuring Neira. He had a mini-breakthough this year starting games when Neira was out and scoring goals and looking generally impressive. Will look to give him more game time next year and see what the giant Serb can achieve.
Edemilson Mendès - 14(8) apps, 13 gls, 3 asts, 5 MoMs - Although he still played less frequently than in his prime he did show some of his old form when called upon. He is probably not going to get past Cardoso into the first team very often any more but we all know what he can achieve and that is very useful to have in reserve.
*Pedro Cardoso* - 35(1) apps, 29 gls, 8 asts, 6 MoMs - Legend. Not sure more needs to be said, but I'll try to find something. He's brilliant, he's always been technically superb, but he has added real pace to his arsenal and will only get better with experience. I intend to keep him as long as possible.
*Abakar Tigabe* - 6(15) apps, 7 gls, 3 asts, 1 MoM - Another of our youngsters who is in the process of turning into a squad player. He had an excellent learning experience with Neira and showed signs of being close to a breakthrough. We'll see what next season brings.
Aims For This Season Were...
1/ Strive for improvement in the Champions' League. - No real tangible breakthrough, but we competed well against some big teams. I found it encouraging.
2/ Further the cause of the Azorean players in my squad. - Yup, this is a given now really. This season was a blank in terms of youth products, but I don't really think I can complain about that after the superb players I've got from my academy.
Aims For Next Season Are...
1/ Champions' league progress.
2/ Try to build for a future without Descazals.
Story So Far... | Previous updates have been incorporated into the table now.
Code:Season League Position Achievements ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 2012/13 Second Division - South 12th Avoided Relegation (just) 2013/14 Second Division - South 1st Promoted! 2014/15 Second League 14th Avoided Relegation 2015/16 Second League 2nd Promoted! 2016/17 Premier League 13th Avoided Relegation 2017/18 Premier League 3rd Qualified for Europa League 2018/19 Premier League 4th Europa League again 2019/20 Premier League 5th Europa League again 2020/21 Premier League 1st Champions! 2021/22 Premier League 2nd CL Qualification again 2022/23 Premier League 1st Champions! 2023/24 Premier League 1st CL 1st Knockout Round 2024/25 Premier League 1st CL 1st Knockout Round 2025/26 Premier League 1st CL 1st Knockout Round 2026/27 Premier League 1st CL 1st Knockout Round 2027/28 Premier League 1st CL Semi Final 2028/29 Premier League 1st CL 1st Knockout Round 2029/30 Premier League 1st CL Semi Final 2030/31 Premier League 1st CL 1st Knockout Round 2031/32 Premier League 1st CL Quarters 2032/33 Premier League 1st CL Quarters and domestic quadruple 2033/24 Premier League 1st CL 1st Knockout Round 2034/35 Premier League 1st CL Quarters