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[FM21] The real Vila Real


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May 2025 – The run in

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A very fortunate victory at home to Tondela puts us in a great position! Chaves winning 1-5 means they keep the pace but Oliveirense only managing a draw at home to bottom placed Covilha is great news for us!

Lukas Lampert scored the only goal of the game in which we were the better side. We struggled to finish any chances in the first half. Diego Caetano was a beast in net, saving a penalty and 2 clear cut chances towards the end of the first half. Joao Victor at left back remains a liability giving away a penalty and being caught out of position numerous times. Luiz Lucio will be starting the next game away at Porto B. A win away promotes us to LIGA NOS! A huge opportunity for the entire squad!

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WE DID IT! How fitting that we guarantee promotion with a 0-0 draw. Another clean sheet, another boring result but because the league comes down to results between teams, we are promoted! A draw is needed in the final game of the month at home to Alverca to win the league. The board have told us that our budgets will be a transfer budget of £277k with a wage budget of £60k. Our committed spend is only £23k so this is huge and may allow for some to be placed into the transfer budget. I have to assess the finances and the team though. I really only want to spend money if completely necessary.

The game was as boring as the scoreline suggests. 4 highlights all games and nothing even remotely close to a decent chance. The only downside to that game was that Abulai Co broke his foot and will be out for 2-3 months. The 17-year-old will be talked about very highly in the season review as he has come in and held down the starting BWM position all season long.

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What a crazy game to finish the league season off! I’m actually very disappointed with the performance but when we win the league, it does cap how unhappy I can be about it. It was really nice to see Hitalo getting his first goal of the season and for Vitinho and Jorge to get on the scoresheet was nice also.

I think we should also talk about how mentally close the final day was. Leixoes didn't really look in the hunt for promotion all season and due to a crazy final day, they manage to get automatic promotion! Congratulations to them as well!

 

Season review coming up but what a season, I think we can all agree. LIGA NOS is going to be incredibly difficult but lets see what we can do in the transfer window!

Other business

Our under 19s have been relegated to the U19 second division. Unfortunate but I think we all saw it coming when all of the top prospects went out on loan. Playing with 8-9 greyed out players most games is going to do that to us! Will be really looking to concentrate on youth in the future when we’re set up in LIGA NOS so we can get back there!

 

Edited by Chrisofclubs
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End of season review

Competitions

Taca de Portugal Placard

Knocked out in the third round by Casa Pia of the league below. Not a great result and we should know it! Next season we really need to finally get past the third round!

Allianz Cup

Knocked out in the second phase. I’m less annoyed about this one to be honest as we put up a really good fight against Farense of LIGA NOS. We competed really well and this gives me hope that we can really avoid relegation next season!

League

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Well. Lots to say here and all of it is positive. We had a RIDICULOUS number of draws. Only losing 1 game all season was fantastic but drawing 19 games is mental.

However, we did win the league and achieve a new club record high! It was close in the end and closer than it perhaps should have been when we look at some of the draws that could have turned into wins. That being said, if it wasn’t for several penalty saves by Diego Caetano, we would have lost some of those draws as well.

Overall, I am incredibly happy with the boy’s performances this season. We came back many times in games that we had no right to come back in and fully deserved to win the league!

Players

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Only one average rating over a 7.0 says a lot about either the games latest patch where it seems that average ratings have been nerfed (Not a fan of that) or the fact that we drew 19 games and couldn’t capitalise on a lot of chances.

That being said, I am incredibly happy with so many of the performances. Defensively, we were the best in the league and the performances from Lampert, Ogbeta and Caetano were particularly pleasing. For Lampert and Ogbeta to chip in with 11 goals between them was a highlight as well!

The midfield duo of Martelat and Co was a surprise positive note this season. The oldest and youngest players in the first team linked up perfectly and partnered each other 29 times over the course of the season! They have built up a lovely partnership and I’m really hoping to see some of these amazing performances next season!

Managers player of the season – Diego Caetano

There were 3 very close candidates for this title. Very honourable mentions go to:

Yoann Martelat. 6 goals and 17 assists is crazy. From set pieces, he was a king and arriving late into the oppositions box, he provided and scored many many important goals.

Abulai Co. 17 years old and due to the sudden loss of Jose Secada in the transfer window was asked to play some first team games. The intention was to share the games between Co and Carre but Carre just never got started. Co held down the ball winning midfielder position for the entirety of the season until he broke his foot a few games before the end. I’m very excited to see what this guy’s career has in store for us!

But the man of the moment has to be Diego Caetano. We have always known this guys quality and I’m a little surprised he’s stuck with us until this point but he has had a fantastic season. 18 clean sheets and only 27 conceded in 37 games this season, Caetano has been a monster between the sticks. He saved all 4 penalties that he faced in the league which is a mental stat! With 2 assists to go with us, Caetano has really upped his game this season and I am sure that he is the main reason we have won this league.

Looking forward

Tactics

Tactically, next season is going go be very similar. I intend to play the same tactic but we will be playing the cautious version of it more often than we did this season.

I am slightly concerned about the ratings of the wingers. Between the 5 wingers that we have at the club (3 RM and 2 LM), they provided only 3 goals and only 9 assists. Yoann Martelat beat these stats on his own. We did have the tactic set to play slightly narrower so maybe moving to a more neutral width will support the wingers more.

Transfers

GK – Definitely don’t need to strengthen this position. Caetano and Kokubo have been great for us and will remain so!

Defence – Centre back options look very good right now and I will most likely be sticking with them unless an absolute worldie becomes available. Full backs will be looked at in a lot of detail. Joao Victor has had some very worrying performances and Bernas is okay but I would really like some better full backs if we can find them. I think Luiz Lucio is the answer to the left back slot but we will see what will happen. Glennon will probably be leaving the club as Lucio is just a better option and I don’t think we need 3 left-backs. Jorge Chan is coming back from a good loan period so we may have Bernas as starting RB next season with Chan deputising.

Midfield – I would like to look for more depth in the ball winning midfielder slot. Abulai Co did a fantastic job this season but he is only 17 years old. An experienced ball winner is on the shopping list as Carre really hasn’t cut it in this league let alone the top league. Wingers will be looked at. I don’t think we will be able to offer as much game time to the youngsters as this season so we may be in the market for some others! Claudio Fernandes’ loan has been extended for a 4th season. Allegedly the best player at the club and it will be great to see what he can offer if we can adjust the tactic to benefit him!

Strikers – Really like the combination of strikers at the club right now. Jorge and Duk have been good at pressing forward and Vitinho and Baia have been competing really well for the advanced forward position. We have Lacximicant coming back from loan but I can’t see him staying at the club. Leonardo Silva is also still on the books. I cant bring it to sell him but this may have to happen this year as he really isn’t capable enough of bagging the goals needed in LIGA NOS.

End of season review

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Pre-season and transfers

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A really positive pre-season set of fixtures. Won the games we were supposed to win and lost narrowly to Crystal Palace. The draw at home to Boavista was a good indicator of where we’re at as well. A few new names on the scoresheet as well as some old names but you’ll have to wait and see which ones of the new names will be joining us permanently!

Tactics

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This will be the tactic for the season. Going forward, for the next few seasons, we will be the underdogs going into most games. I’ve decided to stick with the fluid counter attacking mentality as it’s been going well for us in the last few seasons. I did make some adjustments to try to combat the winger problem. I’ve told the team to attack with more width and upped the passing directness from short to standard. I’ve taken off ‘work ball into box’ as well so that it allows the wingers to cross the ball more often. Especially when countering, this is going to be hugely necessary!

Transfers

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Promotion to LIGA NOS kind of guaranteed our biggest year of spending to date but to update the squad well with only spending ~£200k is remarkable. I adjusted the budgets and after the net spend of £207k, they sit at £208,660 transfer budget with an available wage budget of £4,500. We have spent a lot in wages this window, upping our committed spend to £49,560 but this is still the smallest in the league by a long shot!

After the transfers, we see ourselves staying at the bottom of the league season preview table with 800-1 to win the league. We are joint with Leixoes, with Belenenses SAD sitting above us aty 600-1

Defence

As stated in the end of season preview, I wanted to address the left back problem. When a £90k bid for João Victor came in, it was kind of meant to be. We found Oumar Kamara for £72k and this was a no brainer. Only 21 years of age and his attributes are much better for the role than Victors were anyway. Luiz Lucio will remain as the back up left back. At right back, Jorge Chan will come in to deputise Bernas to save some money. Centre back was a great position for us last year so we stick with the same 4. Jose Dias has gone out on loan to gain some first team experience for the season. Anthony Glennon left the club for £2.5k. It’s £2.5k profit and 1.8k off of the wage bill. A mistake transfer by me in hindsight but good to see we benefited from it.

Midfield

A lot of movement in midfield this year. I assessed the wingers and, as well as changing the tactic slightly, I decided Hitalo wasn’t good enough to be our starting winger on the right. Summerville has come in to start on the right with Kyere going out on loan to gain match experience. Fernandes will be starting on the left to begin with but we have signed 2 left wingers, both look amazing. Ariday has gone out on loan as I don’t think he’ll ever be as good as the other options we have. Rene Skov and Mojtaba Bakhtiarizadeh (MB) come in to play on that left hand side. I signed Skov first and was incredibly happy with the transfer but then MB was brought to my attention by my scouts. Initially I dismissed him because he is a striker by trade with 8 finishing but then I looked a little closer at his attributes and he will be a very very good left winger. The Skov transfer was expensive and could become the club record transfer if all the addons are paid but I still believe he will provide value. MB came in for 52k and is worth 350k immediately so we have got a lot of value here. The first 2 signings of the window were for the central positions. Samuel Justo comes in on loan. A very talented young player to provide competition for Martelat and Pinto in the advanced playmaker role. Guilherme Rend comes in as an experience ball winning midfielder. I had to pay him a lot in wages but we had the budget and he looks to be worth every penny! The Joao Victor who went out on loan to Santa Clara is a youth prospect who I was going to promote to the first team before we found Justo. He had a great season last season and his attributes look great for the ball winning midfielder position. My thoughts here are to send him out on loan to see how Santa Clara play him. If he can work on his passing, I think he’ll make for a fine playmaker but if his marking improves more then ball winning midfielder it is.

Forwards

Lacximicant and Leonardo Silva left the club. Neither of them wanted to sign the contracts that I was offering them so I didn’t want to mess around anymore and released them. No other change, we still have the 4 strikers who will be rotated for competition. Vitinho and Jorge will be first choice but Duk and Baia will have ample opportunity!

The squad

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So after all of that, the first team looks like this! Really happy with the look and standard of the squad and excited to see where this team can go. We’ve added some great young first team players as well as some more experience this window!

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August and September 2025

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Wow. First 2 months into LIGA NOS and we are unbeaten in the league with some huge results in there. I really don’t like doing too well the first season into the top league and this is dampening the joy of this month but I must admit, we are executing the smash and grab counter attacking tactic very well. We are defensively very solid whilst hitting teams on the break. Our wingers have been much more effective since we made the tactical change in the summer. Even Fernandes has been performing better. Bernas has stepped up his game as well and is even chipping in with chance creation!

Key match – Vila Real 1 – 0 Porto

By far the biggest match in the clubs history. We maxed out the stadium capacity as we scored from a corner in the first minute. We had 2 shots, only 1 on target whilst they had an xG of 0.92 with 12 shots. This was the ultimate smash and grab job and in fairness, we didn’t deserve the victory but we got it!

Player of the ‘month’ – Dario Caetano

A counter attacking tactic where we only score 1 maybe 2 goals per game doesn’t achieve results unless you are defensively solid. In the summer, we only made 1 defensive first choice change at LB and that has helped but Dario Caetano has started the season incredibly. He hasn’t keep up his 100% penalty save percentage but when he has been called upon, he has certainly delivered. 8 conceded in 8 so far with 3 clean sheets is incredible for our little club!

Other business

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We broke our record attendance and record gate receipts twice in this period. Maxing out our stadium for the first time ever is a huge achievement and I’m hoping that once the finances pick up, we will be able to expand the stadium slightly.

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October, November and December 2025

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A real mixed bag for these three months. This is still above how I expected us to be performing in our first season in LIGA NOS and I think a lot of that is down to the slight tactical tweak. I am seeing a lot more production from the wide players and I believe the widening of our play combined with taking off ‘work ball into box’ is allowing them more freedom to distribute the ball quicker and riskier.

The loss in the placard was unfortunate but our group in the Allianz cup meant that we had almost no chance of progression. We have a tough January coming up, with 7 LIGA NOS games, so the next months table is going to give a clearer picture of where we stand!

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In terms of league position, 6th is phenomenal for this stage of the season. I wanted anything above 16th so do be within touching distance of Europe is amazing. I am expecting a drop off in the second half of the season but the early pace we’ve set by being 15 points above the relegation zone after 14 games is unreal!

Key match – Vila Real 4 – 0 Nacional

Coming off the back of 3 straight defeats and some high scoring games, I wasn’t expecting a win here and I definitely wasn’t expecting a clean sheet. MB really came into his own here and this was definitely his ‘announcement’ game. A goal and an assist for him after coming on in the 38th minute was great to see! I am rotating the left wingers quite regularly so we can analyse the effect at the end of the season. MB has only taken 3 months to become accomplished at the LM spot as a winger and he can also fill in as a striker. He is going to prove to be an incredibly useful player I think. Vitinho and Jorge were their brilliant selves as well!

Player of the ‘month’ – Vitinho

After a really slow October, Vitinho definitely made up for it in November and December. I saw some poor form out of him early October so gave Baia a few chances as evidenced by the 2 goals he scored. I warned Vitinho and immediately saw an improvement in training ratings so I gave him the nod in the Nacional game. Back-to-back braces secured his player of the month status! I’m really enjoying our options going forward now with Jorge, Vitinho and Baia. Duk hasn’t performed for me so I am going to offload him as soon as I can. I will look to either promote from the youth teams for cover or allow MB to play more games up front.

Other business

We had our youth take preview but despite one good attacking midfielder, it doesn’t seem like we have much to look forward to. We are still massively in debt and will be until we secure stability in LIGA NOS. Don’t think we will see much business in the summer as I want to stabilise the club financially first! I believe we have a good enough squad for a few seasons anyway. A very young squad on long contracts allows us to focus on recouping some money first.

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January 2026

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Only the 6 games this month as the Benfica game was rearranged to allow them to win the Allianz Cup. Nevertheless, some amazing performances. I think we’re starting to see that we are much better than a ‘struggle to avoid relegation’ team and that next season, we can really start to make some moves even with the team that we have available to us. I don’t want to do too well this season and force the board to upgrade the stadium as I would really like better training and youth facilities before we go spending crazy money on stadiums. It’s going to be a tough road ahead because of our quick promotions down in the lower leagues! We are currently about 1.5million in the red but the board seem happy enough. I am mostly looking for young players to bring in for free so that we can sell them on for cash even if they’re not good enough for us. Staying in LIGA NOS this season will give us a good boost in reputation so I’m hoping to be able to attract some better players.

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We are hanging pretty in the top half of the league. Nacional, Boavista and Sporting are likely to finish the season strongly but I am incredibly happy nonetheless.

Key match – Vila Real 0 – 0 Vitoria de Guimaraes

A clean sheet, lovely. But the attacking display wasn’t as good as we are used to. For the second half of the season, I’m going to start playing a bit less counter attacking in the home games that we have proven we can win. I want to keep the width of play but I really want us to be a bit more penetrative going forwards!

Player of the month – Bernas

Compared to a few seasons ago, Bernas has come on incredibly strongly! 3 assists and a goal this month, he is providing some incredibly width to our play. We are hitting teams nicely on the break and it’s really pleasing to watch. Our wide players and strikers have been a particular highlight!

Other business

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MB has been awarded the Asian young footballer of the year award. Great news for him. 15 goals in 29 Iran caps as a 20 year old is incredible!

The board gave me the option to change season expectations so I have done to ‘avoid relegation’ as I think we’re more than good enough to!

 

Transfers

In

Two ins to speak of. One was arranged in November and is a very young BWM. Karol Buszko is an incredibly talent who we picked up on a free. He is going to spend the second half of the season in our U23s and we will monitor his progress. The second is a young goalkeeper from Manchester City called Freddie Sands. He doesn’t come in until the end of the season so I will talk about him then!

Out

A few outs to speak of. Leonardo has been playing well for the U23s so I’ve decided to give him the second half of the season out on loan to Sporting Covilha to see what he can do. Duk has left the club on loan. He isn’t good enough to feature for the first team so I wanted to let him go but loan was the only option. Pedro Pinto, our third choice attacking playmaker has left the club as well. He wanted to leave so we sold him to Atletico Baleares for £58k. He signed for free so that was all profit.

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February & March 2026

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4 wins, 4 draws in another really good period for the club. We are starting to stabilise now as a good LIGA NOS side.

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We currently lie 4th but there is a lot of ground below us that we can see and not much above. We cannot finish below 15th now and with each game, this gap will close. Anything 10th and better will have been a really good season in my books. We are playing some really good football, hitting teams on the break and by the looks of it, really frustrating to play against.

I have checked the rules for the European competitions and both the champions league and Europa League have a minimum capacity of 8000 to take part in those competitions. I really don't want to force the club to spend unnecessary money on a stadium upgrade until we have got out of the debt that promotions put us in so I think the aim should be Europa conference league which is 5th and 6th. I wont be throwing any games because I don't believe we should be but i'm really hoping that we don't finish in the top 4 this season!

Key match – Braga 2 – 1 Vila Real

A real test away from home. One of the huge teams in the league and we really have no right to be in this contest but we performed incredibly well. The game was closer than it looked with Jorge’s 73rd minute goal being but a consolation but we battled impeccably!

Player of the ‘month’ – Abulai Co

Not a regular this season by any stretch of the imagination. Pinto left in January and Justo got recalled in February leaving Martelat as our only advanced playmaker. When he picked up a suspension for cumulative yellow cards, Co was the natural choice to fill in there. Playing 5 games and scoring 2 to give us a win twice, he was outstanding in a role that he wasn’t particularly familiar with. MB and Fernandes have had a great battle for the left midfield spot this month as well so they would have been in with a shout!

Other business

I have extended the loan deal for Claudio Fernandes from Boavista for the 5th season. He brings so much to this side and I really want to make him a permanent signing eventually!

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April & May 2026

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So. Hardly a blistering end to the season but an incredibly season nonetheless! We carried on in typical Vila Real fashion and finished the season off with 4 draws. I was quite unhappy with the last 3 results but considering the 5th placed finish, I can’t be too hard on the team. We will go through the entire season in the end of season review!

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A 5th placed finish in our first season in LIGA NOS is incredible. We have European football for next season whichever competition that will be. I’m hoping the Europa conference because this will give us much needed income without forcing us to spend unnecessary money upgrading our stadium at this time

Key match – Vila Real 2 – 1 Boavista

Always nice getting one over on the senior affiliate! The only win in the period was a fantastic victory that we never looked like losing. The one goal victory flattered them somewhat as our xG was way ahead of theirs at 2.14 and theirs down at 0.16.

Player of the ‘month’ – Callum Dawson

Not in the first team plans at the beginning of the season but he has worked his way to becoming our most reliable and quality centre back. He will definitely be our starting centre back next season on the left-hand side of the two. With 2 goals in the period of question, he not only was outstanding defensively but was incredibly good when called upon from corners and freekicks.

Other business

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Hi all.

 

Little update from myself.

The above update will be the end of the series on SI forums unfortunately. I find myself with a hugely reduced amount of playing time recently and keeping up with the blog posts to a reasonably standard had caused playing the game to become more of a chore which I really didn't want it to become. This will still be my main save this year on FM so if I find myself with more time and ability in the future, I will definitely update everyone!

 

Thanks to everyone for the comments and likes,

~Chrisofclubs

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2 hours ago, Chrisofclubs said:

Hi all.

 

Little update from myself.

The above update will be the end of the series on SI forums unfortunately. I find myself with a hugely reduced amount of playing time recently and keeping up with the blog posts to a reasonably standard had caused playing the game to become more of a chore which I really didn't want it to become. This will still be my main save this year on FM so if I find myself with more time and ability in the future, I will definitely update everyone!

 

Thanks to everyone for the comments and likes,

~Chrisofclubs

damn you are take a break right,oh man i going to miss you man,i mean vila real series is so good but you decide to end it,WHY CHRIS WHY

once you came back to play from FM,can you manage santarem teams or Portalegre teams and take them to primeira liga right

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