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[FM24] C.F Estrela da Amadora - "I Love This Game!"


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C.F. Estrela da Amadora - "I Love This Game!"

Up until June 2023, C.F Estrela da Amadora, a team based in the north west of Lisbon and only formed in 2020, was not a club on many football fans radars. That soon changed, for two reasons.

Firstly, on 02 June the charismatic former-Manchester United full-back turned social media star Patrice Evra announced on his Instagram account that he was the new owner of the club. He later confirmed that he is the majority owner and that the purchase price was estimated to be €5m.


The second event that made the headlines, just nine days later, was the shock promotion of Estrela from Liga Portugal II into the Liga Portugal. Given the club's short history, it is not surprising to say that this was to be the club's first time in the top flight. Estrela finished 3rd in the league, therefore qualifying for a relegation/promotion play-off against Liga Portugal mainstay Maritimo. It was a two-legged affair with both sides winning a match 2-1. The play-off went to penalties and Estrela achieved the the seemingly impossible by winning the shootout 3-2 , thus ending Maritimo's 38 year stay in the top division. At the same time as this historic match was taking place, Evra was competing (and winning) in Soccer Aid and so had to check his phone in the dressing room to find out the result - where more celebrations ensued! Evra later said of the promotion "It's chaos. We weren't ready for that!".


On 28 June, Patrice appeared on The Drop In (The Football Ramble podcast) where he spoke about his surprise at Estrela's promotion, but also his passion and excitement to be involved in the project. Evra later revealed that following promotion the club is now valued at around €40m (eight times his investment, just a month earlier) and that a Premier League club had offered to buy the club to form part of their network of teams. Evra though, has no intention of going anywhere. He "loves this game!" and loves the challenge of owning the smallest team in Liga Portugal. 

This is where I come in. Those who have followed my writing on these Forums in prior years will know, I also love a challenge. Especially when it involves building a club from the ground up. 

That is why I have chosen to accept Patrice Evra's offer to become the new manager of C.F Estrela da Amadora, on a two year contract.


The Challenge Ahead

There is one objective, and one objective only, for our first season: survive by any means necessary.


Survival will be a big challenge for a number of reasons. Firstly, it was a genuine surprise that the team achieved promotion and therefore the squad at my disposal is that of a mid-table Liga Portugal II team (a full squad assessment will follow soon). Secondly, I have been handed only a £43k transfer budget to transform this team into being Liga Portugal ready, with only a further £3.5k per week available for player wages. Of the starting squad, 32 of the players have just arrived and are on one-year deals and therefore cannot be sold to generate a transfer budget. Only two players have been at the club for longer, both a year each. Finally, the facilities are poor. Corporate, training and youth facilities are all considered average, and junior coaching is classed as adequate. The only positive in this field is that our youth recruitment is seen as above average - some hope for the future of this project. 

It should not come as a surprise that the facilities at Estrela are limited, when you look at it's history. Clube de Futbol Estrela da Amadora operated in the lower divisions of Portuguese football, between it's formation in 1932 and it's bankruptcy in 2011. Supporters formed Clube Desportivo Estrela in the same year their club went bankrupt and in 2018 they became a professional club. In 2020 they merged with Club Sintra Football, who were in the third division. This merger allowed Estrela to commence their journey from Liga Portugal III. They gained promotion to Liga II at their first attempt, after finishing second in the league. Their first season in the second tier they achieved a consolatory 14th place finish, before pulling off their shock promotion the following year.

Here is hoping for more shocks in the suburbs of Lisbon!   

Edited by Dong21
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Just a quick note. Despite the original club going bankrupt in 2011, then a phoenix club started, then went back to the big leagues following a merger in 2020, Estrela da Amadora has existed since 1932, and has won a Portuguese Cup in 1990.

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1 hour ago, Ronaldo Beckham said:

A definite interesting idea for a save. I look forward to seeing how you tackle this challenge.

Thanks @Ronaldo Beckham - appreciate your interest in this save! I'm motivated by the challenge and also the interesting narrative with Evra taking over a relatively unknown club. I've also never managed in Portugal before, despite it being a country close to my heart. Most of my childhood holidays were in Portugal and earlier this year I visited Lisbon and loved the city. Will definitely go back, perhaps even to watch an Estrela game!

36 minutes ago, Reiver said:

Just a quick note. Despite the original club going bankrupt in 2011, then a phoenix club started, then went back to the big leagues following a merger in 2020, Estrela da Amadora has existed since 1932, and has won a Portuguese Cup in 1990.

Thanks @Reiver. Most of what you have mentioned is covered in my intro post above, but I didn't mention the former club's Portuguese Cup win so good to call that out. This would of course be a long-term goal (if I manage to survive that long!), but perhaps I can bring a trophy to the current incarnation of Estrela da Amadora! 

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8 hours ago, warlock said:

Awesome! Good to have you back... and welcome to Portugal. And good luck in this new venture :thup:

Thanks, it’s good to be back @warlock!

I’ve recently got a new laptop which is much quicker than my last (six years old, lagged a lot) so I’m confident I’ll be able to post regularly and my work / travel should be quieter over the next few months.

I have also been following along with the recent career stories from yourself, @Jogo Bonito and @SixPointer, etc., which I have really enjoyed and increased the itch for me to return and start telling my own FM story!  

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Starting Squad Assessment

With the ink barely dry on my Estrela da Amadora contract, it was time to get to work on analysing the squad available to me. With a non-existent transfer budget and an available wage budget of only £3.5k p/w and near-to-no players available to sell, this season will likely see me having to primarily use the resources that are already available to me. It is therefore imperative for me to have a good understanding of the capability of the players at the club.



I was pleased to discover that goalkeeping is not an area of concern, with two solid and experienced options to choose from going into the season. Brigido looks to be quite poor in terms of handling and throwing, however otherwise he has good attributes to be our first choice stopper. Filipe has spent his entire career, bar one solitary season, as a number two and that is the role he will play this season for Estrela despite maybe being a more well-rounded player. 

Right Backs


Miguel Lopes is the only player at the club who I had heard of prior to taking the helm. The period I recall him from is roughly ten years ago when he spent time at Sporting Lisbon and Lyon. More recently he spent several years in the Turkish Super League. He is one of only two players who has been at the club longer than a few weeks. As he is our highest earner and past the peak of his powers, I will be keen to move him on in the not-too-distant future. But for now I will value his experience as one of the only players with European top division pedigree. Although probably not as solid in a season where we will likely need to defend for our lives, I am excited to have wing back Hevertton as an alternative option. Hevertton has more pace, acceleration and the ability to dribble and cross. Importantly, at the age of 21, he has the potential to develop and grow. 

Left Backs


Left back is undoubtedly our most position with the most quality. Mansur is the best player at the club and his understudy Reis is considered the team's fifth best player. If we play a formation with wingers, there is the potential to play Reis ahead of Mansur so they both can feature. I was chuffed to discover that Mansur had an option to extend his contract by a season, so I took that option immediately and extended his deal to the summer of 2024, even before I had seen him kick a ball. I think he has the attributes to contribute positively to both our defence and our attacking prowess. 


Mansur is the only player at the club that my staff rate as a "decent Liga Portugal player". The seven players they rate 3.5 stars are just deemed "good Liga Portugal II players". This puts into context the challenge that lies ahead. 

Centre Backs


Kialonga Gaspar is our stand out central defender. The Angolan is determined, aggressive, with strong heading and tacking ability. The other four options are all young and fairly similar in ability. No-nonsense Feratovic looks like the best prospect of the group. Although there is depth in this position, this will be a priority transfer focus area for me and I will be looking to add experience and quality to the spine of the team. Recruiting here is especially important as I am minded to play a five man defence, given our underdog status in the league and our need to play cautious football. Ball winning midfielder and club captain Rui Correia (previewed below) is in fact probably our second best centre back on paper. He may well player there, if he is not needed to anchor the midfield. 

Centre Midfielders


Whether we play 5-1-2-2 or 4-1-2-2-1 (the formations I have already got the team to work on practicing), I am near certain that the system will feature a ball winning midfielder sitting in front of the defence. The reason is twofold; (1) we are a much inferior team playing in a league with great attacking talent, so our defence will need all the cover it can get, and (2) I have a relative abundance of defensive midfield options. My staff consider Latyr Fall to be a defensive midfielder, but I have taken stock of his pace, acceleration and work rate and think he might be better placed to serve as a box-to-box midfielder. The defensive midfield spot will be for Aloisio and Correira to fight over.

Meanwhile we have four decent options for what will likely be two central midfield positions. Despite how resourced we are in this area, I will still be scouring the market for anyone (potentially a loanee, given our circumstances) who can take us to the next level as I think with so many players focused on defending we are going to need some magic in midfield to get the ball to our strikers and to give us a chance of scoring in games. 



We do not have much quantity, when it comes to quality on the wing. The best of the bunch is Leo Jaba, who is on loan from a Brazilian Serie D team. Jaba could well be the key to unlocking tight games as he possesses great dribbling, first touch and technique. Vice captain Salomao has good technical ability but is physically limited, likely due to a long career mainly spread across the second tiers of Spain and Portugal. The rest of the wing options at my disposal are extremely raw and would frankly be considered risks if I had to start them regularly in the Liga Portugal. That said, young Capita has determination '20' so maybe he'll prove me wrong!

My options seem to be to either convert Reis to a left winger and sign an additional right winger, or switch to a formation that doesn't include wingers. 



The big area of concern. There is neither depth nor quality when it comes to strikers at Estrela. Ronaldo looks industrious and has decent physical and mental attributes , so could likely be tasked with working hard all match long running the channels, but he does not look to be a finisher. For context, he scored one goal in 33 second division appearances in the season prior. My number one priority this transfer window is to find a goalscorer. If I don't, this tough challenge may well be impossible. Realistically we need two or maybe even three forwards, especially as Graca is nowhere near ready for the Liga Portugal. 

As mentioned in my opening post, every single player except two (who happen to be in their mid-30s and on high wages, so likely hard to move on) are on one year deals and have recently joined the club. Therefore there is near-to-no possibility of moving the majority of these players onwards this summer. I'm excited by the challenge of working with what I have got, and will hopefully work some transfer magic to add a few gems to the mix. To find them, I am going to need to be creative.

Edited by Dong21
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1 hour ago, Dong21 said:

Mansur is the only player at the club that my staff rate as a "decent Liga Portugal player"

It does raise the question, how good are your staff? :)

With the vast benefit of my 1.5 seasons in Portugal's top flight (:D) I'm prepared to go out on a limb and predict you'll be fine this year. If you can get your tactics right (obviously not aggressive, but not too passive either) you should be able to accumulate enough points for safety - and maybe better. A bigger challenge will be long-term finances; I don't think there's much money in the domestic league but I do think human managers have a big advantage over the AI when it comes to finding gems on free transfers. There's plenty of loan opportunities, too.

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31 minutes ago, warlock said:

It does raise the question, how good are your staff? :)

Well, I have just gone through the process of sacking eight staff members and hiring 19 new additions, so that might tell you something about how good I thought they were! (Full update on staffing enhancements will follow another day.)

That said, I was lucky to inherit a good assistant manager who's services I have retained. So the star rating displayed above in my squad assessment have stayed the same, as they come from my right hand man.


31 minutes ago, warlock said:

With the vast benefit of my 1.5 seasons in Portugal's top flight (:D) I'm prepared to go out on a limb and predict you'll be fine this year. If you can get your tactics right (obviously not aggressive, but not too passive either) you should be able to accumulate enough points for safety - and maybe better. A bigger challenge will be long-term finances; I don't think there's much money in the domestic league but I do think human managers have a big advantage over the AI when it comes to finding gems on free transfers. There's plenty of loan opportunities, too.

I like your optimism and your insight is valued! I'm aware there is a big gulf in quality between the 'big three' and the smaller teams, what I will soon find out is what is the quality gap between this Estrela squad and the rest of the field.  Agreed, the finances are a concern. My objective is to survive by any means necessary this season. Rebuild the squad in my own image next summer. Sign players on longer contracts and with a younger age profile. Sell and reinvest to build the clubs finances and grow organically. All sounds so simple when written like that... Let's see if it plays out that way!

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14 minutes ago, Dong21 said:

My objective is to survive by any means necessary this season. Rebuild the squad in my own image next summer. Sign players on longer contracts and with a younger age profile. Sell and reinvest to build the clubs finances and grow organically

Sounds like a plan... and a good one :cool:. Fingers firmly crossed!

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Save Setup

Eagle-eyed followers of this developing story will have noticed that I am commencing this career in the summer of 2022, with Estrela da Amadora in the Liga Portugal, which replicates their real life current standing but is not where you would normally find them if you commence a save on FM23. I therefore thought I would provide some information on how I set this challenge up, before I get started. 

I downloaded FMInsider's data update which had all 2022/23 promotions and relegations applied, meaning that Estrela were promoted as required. Some early window transfers had been made as part of this update, others missed, but I decided it was nothing material enough to stop me proceeding. I loaded up a test save and was disappointed to find the welcome message was not from Patrice Evra and instead was from the former owner. I therefore downloaded the FM editor, created Evra as he was not on the database, giving him the exact same profile as Estrela's former owner and installed him in their place. I removed any other board members to ensure that all communication would be with the man who is the catalyst for this save. I made no changes to Estrela's finances as I wanted to keep this as a big challenge. I believe if I went to manage Estrela in FM24, when the game is available, I will likely have more funds to spend in season one but I am at peace with that! 

Knowing the stature of the club and the budget likely available I set up the save with a vast number of leagues playable. I added the top four tiers in Portugal, Spain and England, the top two tiers in France, German, Italy, Spain and Scotland and the top divisions of an additional 13 European nations. I am well aware that Portuguese clubs have a rich history of recruiting players from the South American continent, therefore I made all available leagues in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Peru and Uruaguay view-only. The Estrela starting squad contains seven Brazilians and only six Portuguese players. With this save setup, I can continue to build my squad in a similar manner, should I so wish. Finally, to broaden the availability of players, and (somewhat self-servingly with a long-term thought process) the variety of clubs who may be interested in buying the club's players, I also added China, Mexico, U.S.A, Russia and Ukraine as view only leagues.

One disappointment was that I had understood the data update I had downloaded would eliminate the winter break for the 2022 World Cup, however sadly this has not been the case. This means we have a month long break in December. 

I selected the start date to be pre-season 2022 for the Liga Portugal season, meaning that the save commenced on 04 July, 2022. 

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5 hours ago, SixPointer said:

He’s turned into a decent defender in my save, I almost signed him my last year at SV Ried!

That is great to hear! He will definitely get game time this season with my intended formation including a back five. 

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Welcome back and good luck with this. I love the detailed squad analysis, I guess that's my kind of thing :)

I've used a back five in my 2nd, 3rd and 4th seasons with FC Wacker Innsbruck but was also able to get good attacking returns. I also used a back five for a few seasons at Stuttgart and that worked well too, so it can be used more effectively than you might imagine.

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On 26/08/2023 at 09:38, Jogo Bonito said:

Welcome back and good luck with this. I love the detailed squad analysis, I guess that's my kind of thing :)

Thanks @Jogo Bonito, appreciate the message and glad to be back here. I’ve now played through pre-season so plenty to update on soon. 

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Looking forward to this, I am curious though, from my hazy recollection of Portuguese football hasn't there always been an Amadora? Is this a phoenix club after a recent bankruptcy. 

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1 hour ago, Crazy_Ivan said:

Looking forward to this, I am curious though, from my hazy recollection of Portuguese football hasn't there always been an Amadora? Is this a phoenix club after a recent bankruptcy. 

Yes, that’s correct @Crazy_Ivan, Clube de Futbol Estrela da Amadora existed from its formation in 1932 until its bankruptcy in 2011. Supporters formed Clube Desportivo Estrela in the same year their club went bankrupt and in 2018 they became a professional club. In 2020 they merged with Club Sintra Football, who were in the third division. This merger allowed Estrela to commence their journey from Liga Portugal III. They gained promotion to Liga II at their first attempt, after finishing second in the league. Their first season in the second tier they achieved a consolatory 14th place finish, before pulling off their shock promotion the following year.

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13 minutes ago, Dong21 said:

Yes, that’s correct @Crazy_Ivan, Clube de Futbol Estrela da Amadora existed from its formation in 1932 until its bankruptcy in 2011. Supporters formed Clube Desportivo Estrela in the same year their club went bankrupt and in 2018 they became a professional club. In 2020 they merged with Club Sintra Football, who were in the third division. This merger allowed Estrela to commence their journey from Liga Portugal III. They gained promotion to Liga II at their first attempt, after finishing second in the league. Their first season in the second tier they achieved a consolatory 14th place finish, before pulling off their shock promotion the following year.

Thanks for the info. 

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Staffing Overhaul

Whichever club I manage, the first thing I do is assess the staff and consider whether there are ways I can make improvements. Having the right personnel influences so much of what is important to a manager, from identifying transfer targets to developing the players at club, so it make sense to dedicate a good amount of focus to this area. Even on a tight budget, there are usually options readily available that are better than what you already have. Fine margins can make all the difference, particularly in a season where we will be fighting to stay in the division, therefore I will happily dedicate a good amount of time to analysing my staff and the options available to potentially replace them. 

Negotiating with potential new staff is a more pleasant experience than doing the same with players. I have found staff are often much more willing to 'meet in the middle', if you have the patience to make numerous counter offers, and are much less likely to storm out of negotiations if you offer too little. 

I was starting with a relatively blank canvas as the club had the coaching set up of a second division side but with the appetite to grow to that of a first division outfit, for example there were three first team coaches when I arrived but I was permitted to have eight. After analysing the market and feeling confident I could replace them with superior options I mutually terminated the contracts of eight first team staff. This included our Director of Football, three scouts and two physios. One of the staff to depart was the Technical Director, who I had no intentions to replace. I am more than happy to hire or fire my staff, and make decisions around training courses, so the role is redundant for me.

After this clear out, the staff who retained their roles at the club were Assistant Manager Luis Matos, Goalkeeping Coach Ricardo Silva, Fitness Coach Ricardo Dinis, Head of Youth Development Ze Augusto Faria, Performance Analysts Luis Lalanda and Hugo Ferreira, Physio Paulo Almeida and Sports Scientist Pedro Alvim Antunes.

Coaching Staff

Growing and enhancing the quality of our pool of coaches was my number one priority for this overhaul. This was made difficult by a wage limit of £775 per week imposed on me for any new coaching hires. For context, the pre-existing coaches are all on over £1,000 per week. My request to owner Evra for more wage budget allowance for coaches was sadly rejected. I therefore had to get creative to persuade good quality coaches to come to Amadora with, in some cases, offers of five year contracts to give them long-term financial stability.


To say I am pleased with the quality of my coaching hires would be an understatement. Tugay is a Premier League legend with almost 100 caps to his name and extensive coaching experience predominantly as an Assistant Manager at Turkish giants Galatasaray. After six years out of the game, I have managed to persuade him to make his return to football at Estrela. If Tugay was brought in to lead the coaching of our attacking players, then Darko Vargec was clearly hired to lead the defensive drills. You will note that both are adept when it comes to the technical and mental side of coaching, which is important when we look to improve the overall standard of the players at the club. 


When looking for my third and final new coach, Paul Young stood out amongst his peers. Not deterred by his six year break from football (similar to Tugay), I was excited by his technical and tactical coaching prowess, his amazing mentality and his propensity for working with youngsters. One of the goals of the club set out to me by owner Evra is to sign young players and develop them for the future - Having Young on my staffing roster certainly seems like a positive step towards this. Unlike the giants of Benfica, Sporting and Porto, we won't have two or three top class players in every position, therefore keeping the team fit will be important for our survival chances. Portugues Fitness Coach Elias Nunes has been brought in to try and keep the team in top condition.  


Having worked alongside Martin O'Neill for much of his coaching career, including for the Irish national team, Sheamus McDonagh brings a vast amount of experience to Estrela. His ability as a goalkeeping coach makes him a real coup for a club of our stature. He has been sent on an intensive training course to get him up to speed with the Portuguese language. The final addition to the first team coaching team Rafael Francisco will have no such challenges as, although he has spent time at Norwegian side Valerenga, he is a Portuguese native.

Recruitment Team


Desportivo Aves is a Portuguese club who had also come into financial troubles and at this time found themselves in the 1st District Division of the Porto regional league. It was here that I found a hidden gem in the form of Miguel Marques. Marques has spent the last 10 years as Head of Youth Development at the club, but has all the attributes to be a great scout which is why I brought him in to be our new Chief Scout. Due to Aves not being professional we luckily did not have to pay them any compensation. Marco Rodrigues will support the scouting division in his new role as Recruitment Analyst.


Two men at opposite ends of their careers; Alberto Silva nearing the end of an extensive CV compilation and Jose Monteiro taking on his first job in football, have been hired to support Marques' scouting ambitions. I have told them all they need to work tirelessly to find interesting and often innovative solutions to our recruitment needs. 


Although I do not delegate any negotiating powers to them, I do always like to have a Director of Football when possible as they act as another source of scouting and player recommendations. We did have to pay a fee to secure Jimmy Adjovi-Boco from his Senegalese side, but this was an affordable sum of £7k. Adjovi-Boco has good all-round mental and scouting attributes and will be a valued voice in our recruitment planning discussions. 

Medical Team


As I mentioned earlier when discussing the hire of my new Fitness Coach, keeping players fit this season could be the difference between relegation and survival. Both Luis Vinagre and Pedro Simoes are both big upgrades on the medical staff that came before them. Besides my four 'VIP' coaching signings, I have tried to hire Portuguese staff where possible.


Our final hire of note is that of Head Physio Joao Coito. Again, it seems somewhat surprising that someone of his quality was interested in coming to Esrela. Perhaps it is a romantic notion around returning to the club that gave him his first job in football and helping them to remain in the Portuguese Liga against all the odds? 

Development Coaching

For a club with as little resources as ours, developing youth prospects is extremely important as it creates a pipeline of talent for the first team and also, pragmatically, assets that can be sold to raise funds. After reviewing the U23 coaching team that was already in place I decided that they were all capable enough to continue in their roles. Our U18 team, however, was short on members of staff other than the incumbent U18 Manager. To address this I hired them an Assistant Manager (Felicio Muniz), Coach (Sekou Jotah), Fitness Coach (Ricardo Jesus) and a pair of Physios (Vera Forte and Antonio Alfaro).

Foundations for Success

By taking the time to revamp the club's staff, I now feel confident that we have done a lot to lay the foundations for success.  I have built a team around me that have the ability to perform well and enable the team and I to fulfil our potential. With staff now in place, I can proceed to look at recruiting players.

Edited by Dong21
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July 2022

My first day as Estrela manager can be described as mixed. The initial staff meeting started with an indifferent reaction when I introduced myself, promised new staff and improvements to both the defence and up front, but turned positive when I declared that I thought we could survive in the Portuguese Liga via the Relegation/Promotion Playoff this season. The press conference with the media was brief and negative, however, as all they asked me about was whether I had any concerns that I couldn't speak Portuguese. This was perhaps an oversight on my part when setting up the save, but at least it's realistic - learning languages is something I have always struggled with!


With my squad team meeting promise of improvements to the staff delivered (see my update above), I moved onto my next focus of improving the squad. In my starting squad assessment I identified my number one priority as being to add some firepower in the form of a striker or multiple strikers. My second priority was to add quality and experience to central defence and finally, if possible, I wanted to add a touch of class to centre midfield.

I did my usual and took a number of players of interest on trial. 15 in total spent time with us during pre-season. Many played a lot, but in the end departed once we confirmed we couldn't afford to pay them what they wanted. 

I mentioned that I was going to have to think creatively when it came to incoming transfers, and that was certainly the case with my two new strikers...


Part of Patrice Evra's vision for Estrela da Amadora is to sign young players for the future and develop them for a profit. That is all well and good when you have a budget, but at this moment in time we need to maximise every penny we spend. Players in their prime years, who were of good enough quality to enhance our forward line were either simply not interested in joining the Tricolores or were too expensive. Therefore, I decided to bring in two players who are towards the end of their careers but who I think can still make a good contribution this season. Next season, we start afresh. 

Both Colin Kazim Richards and Diego Tardelli are players of great pedigree, with great mental attributes. Both are influential leaders too, which is vital for a team brand new to the first division. In fact I swiftly made Kazim club captain and Tardelli vice-captain, with no objections from the squad or the players they directly replaced. Tardelli is a great finisher who was playing in the Brazilian Serie A last season and, despite being 37, I back him to get some goals from the bench. He also fits in nicely with the Brazilian contingent already at the club. Clearly both strikers  are somewhat limited physically and will likely decline further, given their ages, but I signed them knowing this and will just need to strategize accordingly. My current plan, when playing 5-1-2-2 is to pair Kazim with the more mobile Ronaldo and have Tardelli as a super-sub. Kazim has come in as our highest earner, however Tardelli only wanted a bargain £850 per week.


The only other transfer completed in July was the signing of Yaya Sané who ticked the box of the quality and experienced central defender I was seeking. Sané has had a varied career, spending time playing in Belgium, France, Turkey and Norway more extensively. The reason he came on my radar is because he was identified by my new Director of Football Adjovi-Boco, who prior to joining us had spent 20 years at Senegalese side Diambars FC where he had discovered and signed Sané 12 years prior! I love Sané's bravery, aggression, strength, fitness and jumping reach. 

I am working on a deal to for another free agent, a central midfielder, however I am concerned we may not be able to afford him. Watch this space!


To give them opportunities to develop through first team football and to generate additional wage bill capacity we loaned out 13 players, four of whom were profiled above in the squad assessment (Omurwa, Luan, Capita and Greca) the rest were members of our youth set-up. We managed to bring in some small loan fees for most of the deals - every little helps! The most significant outgoing was Capita on loan to Academica, as he was one of our higher earners on £1,100 per week. Greca was only allowed to depart once other strikers had signed on the dotted line, otherwise we would have been left with one striker!

Tactical Approach


As noted previously, I have put together two formations and approaches for the team to learn and utilise in the season ahead. I have opted for a 5-1-2-2 as it gives us good defensive cover with three CBs and a DM, makes the most of our best player left wing back Mansur and gives us the outlet of two strikers, with industrious central midfielders linking the play together. Our alternative system will be a 4-1-2-2-1. Likewise this has the cover provided by DM, room for the full backs to push forward, but is a little more expansive and open with the use of wingers, for when we think we are not as inferior to our opponents as in most instances. The team are also learning a 4-4-2 as an additional alternative. 



Our preparations for the Portuguese Liga season went relatively well. Confidence boosting friendlies against lower league opponents served their purpose, with no goals conceded and many goals scored. Three friendlies against top flight sides (Viborg, Reims and Troyes) were designed to test us, and that they did. Despite losing all three encounters and not scoring, I was pleased to limit the losses to a pair of 1-0s and a 2-0. This gives me hope that we will be able to be defensively solid in the league, which could help our goal difference.

The season begins with a trip away to Sporting Clube Farense. It is the fourth game of the season that stands most on the calendar as we travel to city rivals and Portuguese Giants, Sporting Lisbon. The board and I are aligned on our aim for this season: Survival. Wish us luck for the season ahead! 

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That new CB looks like a real bargain and definitely proves the worth of the DoF as an additional source of scouting! Good luck for the season ahead and fingers crossed you can survive this treacherous first year in charge.

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Before we officially get the season underway there were two final incoming transfers to complete my squad for the season ahead. 


My final recruitment wish was a star central midfielder, a player who could pick the ball up and drive the team forward. In my opinion this would be pivotal to our defend well and hit them on the counter approach. I was therefore delighted to be able to secure the signing of Tashan Oakley-Boothe on a free transfer, following his summer release by Stoke City. Spurs academy graduate Oakley-Boothe is easily the best midfielder at the club and at the ripe age of 22 he has the potential to develop further. His wage stretches our budget to the limit, but I have determined that he is worth the outlay.

Our other signing is to help enable our ability to play our back-up formation of 4-1-2-2-1 (wide). After loaning out a few players we only had one right winger at the club. Costinha arrives on loan from Sporting Braga and to my delight they only required 10% of his wages to be covered, so we are paying him £130 a week. 

August 2022


We have had a dream start to life in the Portuguese Liga. I really expected us to struggle and therefore I am genuinely surprised at how we have started the campaign. We gave 11 players their debuts in our opening game away at Sporting Farense but luckily saw no lack of team cohesion. Both of our starting central midfielders got on the scoresheet, with Fall starting things off by chipping the goalkeeper, hitting the crossbar and racing in to tap into an open net. The Famalicao game was not as plain sailing. We conceded within 30 seconds, had right back Lopes sent off just after 40 minutes and they even had a late goal disallowed. Despite this, we played well and still managed to enjoy 60% possession. A draw was a good result, given the circumstances.

Finally our home debut arrived and, on paper, we welcomed our toughest opponents yet. It was not the cauldron atmosphere I had been hoping for, however, as after only selling a miserly 205 season tickets the attendance was just 608 people - 398 of which were away fans! Growing a fan base is clearly a big priority if this club is to become self-sustainable. Our August form is certainly a good start in winning over the neutrals. Despite the lack of support, we overcame Boavista with a debut goal from Oakley-Boothe and a late winner from substitute Tardelli, after Boa had equalized one minute prior. Kazim Richards had a great game, assisting both of our goals. 


Clearly the elephant in the room in this month's round up is our trip to Lisbon rivals Sporting! I won't lie, I jumped out of my chair to celebrate this one. As the stats show above, we weren't the better side, but we were the winning side. Our defense was extremely solid and the opening goal came from a defender, our star player Mansur. Once again it was super-sub Tardelli who sealed the victory with a  match-determining late goal. The 37 year old has now scored three in three to start the season in style. Goalkeeper Brigido made eight saves and capped off his Man of the Match (and Team of the Week) earning performance with a penalty save in the 95 minute from English wonderkid Marcus Edwards' effor. This result may already be the greatest in this young club's history.

We finish the month in an unfathomable 2nd place in the league. 

It is only four games. Beginners luck could soon wear off! We will not be getting carried away. I see this as 10 points in the bank, in our battle against relegation. For now though, I will reflect upon a near perfect start to life in Lisbon. 

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1 hour ago, Dong21 said:

For now though, I will reflect upon a near perfect start

Well... I had every confidence you'd do well but that was unexpected. And however you did it, beating Sporting at their place is a great achievement.

Another 9 months like that and the title is yours :lol:

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Wow, what a great start to the new season. Some interesting choices in the transfer market (old) but if you deliver fabulous results like the one at Sporting then the ends justify the means for sure.

It may not continue in quite the same way, but I'm sure you won't lose sight of realistic targets. 

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20 hours ago, warlock said:

Well... I had every confidence you'd do well but that was unexpected. And however you did it, beating Sporting at their place is a great achievement.

Another 9 months like that and the title is yours :lol:

Steady on now! :lol: 

20 hours ago, Jogo Bonito said:

Wow, what a great start to the new season. Some interesting choices in the transfer market (old) but if you deliver fabulous results like the one at Sporting then the ends justify the means for sure.

It may not continue in quite the same way, but I'm sure you won't lose sight of realistic targets. 

“(old)” :kriss::lol: 
Not my usual approach but a short-term solution to suit our needs. The August signings are more like the target demographic when I get the chance to rebuild the squad.

Amusingly both the board and the fans only rated my performance as a 'C-' in August as it was "too soon to judge".

Thanks, as always, for both of your comments.

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In the August update I spoke of completing our dealings for the window, but I hadn't taken into account that transfer deadline was on 01 September and therefore there was room for a little more action. 

Firstly, something that didn't go so well. Left winger Diogo Salaomao was one of two players who had been at the club for more than a month and with my coaches rating his transfer value at £60-100k, despite him being 33 years old, I decided to see if I could sell him on deadline day. His wages are £1.5k per week and could be better spent elsewhere. I offered him out at £100k and reduced this in increments all the way down to offering him out for free. He told me he had no interest in leaving and although clubs were interested no bids materialised. All I ended up doing was pissing off the club's former vice-captain. So now he will just be sulking around the club until at least January.


On deadline day I spotted a forward who would add some pace to our forward line. At just 20 years old Santiago Hoyos brings the average age of our striker group down and is one for the future.


When I joined Estrela da Amadora the club's finances were described as 'okay'. There was little in the club's coffers and due to our lack of fanbase we were losing money on a weekly basis.



It was therefore a huge relief when two new sponsorship deals were announced in early August, particularly the significant £14m deal with a telecommunications company. Perhaps that was the celebrity pulling power of Patrice Evra in effect? This deal aligns the club's financial situation more closely to real life.

I went to ask for more wage and / or transfer budget but this option was not available to me after already enquiring earlier in pre-season (it was worth a try!).

I asked Evra if he would consider improving the club's training facilities and although he acknowledged the club's improved financial position he concluded that I hadn't been at the club long enough to make this request. I will therefore bide my time, in the knowledge that at least things like this are financially viable in the future.


As you can see, we are currently spending nearly £5k per week more than our permitted wage budget, however given our overall financial position I am comfortable carrying this overspend.

September 2022


If August was perfect on the pitch, September was not, but more in line with expectations. Build up to the Sporting Braga game was not ideal as Feratovic was called up to play for Slovenia U21s and Correira picked up a minor knock. This forced my hand and meant I chose RB Lopes to play at RCB for the game. Within one minute this was proven to be an error; a mix up between Gaspar and Lopes put Ricardo Horta through on goal to open the scoring. Simply we were outclassed. Braga are a good side and this is what I would have expected, before August's form got my hopes up a little. 

Injuries then took hold. Bench players Jabá and Reis were ruled out for seven (pulled knee ligaments) and five (groin strain) weeks, respectively. Head likely still spinning after a torrid time against Braga, Lopes was then ruled out for three weeks with a concussion. 

We already seem happier on the road, with our one victory this month coming away at Casa Pia. Clearly keen to prove to me that he shouldn't be written off, striker Ronaldo was the star of the match getting a rapid goal and then setting up Kazim-Richards for his first at the club.

New signing Hoyos scored against Sporting Lisbon U23s in a fitness building appearance, so I brought him on from the bench against Estoril and he scored once again. A great debut for the young player but a poor performance team as we couldn't convert our 62% possession into many meaningful chances. Their first goal was a counter from our corner which saw five attackers break against two defenders - so much for us being the counter attacking side! The second was a penalty after a silly foul. Lessons learned. image.png.9467238750720ed426d5a1df82917267.png

The drift down the table has commenced! Despite this board confidence has reached 90% and this time around I was giving a grade of 'B', along with an 'A-' from the fans (all 210 of them who turned up to the Estoril game :lol:)

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12 minutes ago, Dong21 said:

The drift down the table has commenced!

To be expected, despite my previous comment :). In these situations I target a point per game average, which is usually more than enough for survival so August gave you a flying start on that target, and you managed it in September. Keep it up!

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October 2022


The month began with two league draws. Against Gil Vicente their Russian goalkeeper Kritsyuk put in a man of the match performance to keep us out. Arouca are struggling at the bottom of the league, so I was disappointed in our performance against them. Their goal was a screamer, struck on the counter. We should always be getting 3 points against the bottom four sides if we want to survive. 

Playing fourth tier Merelinense in the Taca de Portugal gave me the opportunity to play the squad members who do not normally start. Ronaldo scored from the bench in the league and scored again, this time starting. He went on to score four in four after this, including goals against giants Porto and Benfica (more on those games shortly!). With 76% possession and 21 shots we really should have scored more, but this was a team not used to playing or playing together, so we will take the victory and the fitness building opportunity.

Next up was the visit of Porto to the Estadio Municipal de Leiria. We lost and conceded four goals, but I came away from the game positive about our performance. After the match, manager Sergio Conceicao said "Estrela made us earn it!" which is what you want to hear as a coach when facing sides with much better squads at their disposal. The surprise of the day occurred when right back Lopes smashed in a 35 yard direct free kick against his former club! 


Another month, another famous win at the stadium of a local Lisbon rival and European heavyweight! It was a classic underdog defend and counter performance, once again. As you can see from the match ratings, the defence played a big role in securing this victory. Summer signing Oakley-Boothe was imperious in his match defining performance and striker Ronaldo continued his rich vein of form. I'm sure the Benfica fans loved seeing 'Ronaldo' on the scoresheet! This result halted our slide down the table momentarily and lifted us up to 5th in the league. 

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November 2022

Due to the 2022 World Cup and the enforced winter break, November has a unique schedule. It starts with two league games, with a Taca de Portugal fixture in between, and then the Portuguese Liga pauses until the 27 December. In the interim, however, the Taca de Liga kick starts. The league cup has a group stage format, with the eight winners then progressing to the quarter final stage. We therefore have three Tace de Liga group stage games across 12 days in the second half of November.

I have completed the entire month of games however I will be recapping this across two updates because something seismic has happened that has changed my approach to managing Estrela this season.

First though, the league results in November:


Our form has sadly dropped off. A draw and a loss means we have fallen to 7th place and are outside of the European place for the first time this season. A mistake from centre-back Gaspar led to the Vitoria Guimaraes goal and their victory meant that they leapfrogged us in the table. It was disappointing to exit the Taca de Portugal, especially as we had beaten opponents Casa Pia comfortably in the league and therefore we knew a win was achievable. There isn't much to say about the Portimonense game. We went defensive, after two defeats and were therefore relatively satisfied to pick up a point.


Somewhat surprisingly it is Sporting Braga, rather than one of the 'big three' who currently lead the way. They have certainly been our toughest opposition, to date. One news story that caught my attention was the surprise appointment of Andre Villas-Boas as the new manager of 17th place Famalicao. I know he isn't held in quite the same regard as earlier in his managerial career, but this does feel like a big drop off in his standing in the game. Maybe this is the start of Famalicao's rise into contention!

Wage Budget Redefined

Conscious that the £14m of sponsorship money received earlier in the season has resulted in our club finances being in a very health position. I decided to chance my arm and see if owner Evra now trusted me enough to provide me with additional funds. On 01 November I sat down with Evra and asked if the wage budge could be increased. His initial reaction was to reject my suggestion. I countered that if he didn't we would likely lose all our best players (most of whom are currently on one year deals) and I was pleased when he conceded I was right and agreed to provide an enhanced wage budget. The next day when he emailed me to advise of the new budgets, I was shocked by his generosity. 


Our wage budget has been quadrupled!

This changes everything. The request was in order to renew contracts and perhaps sign a couple more players. This new budget is transformative. 

As outlined previously, the plan was to get to the end of the season, likely let a lot of players go and then rebuild the team with my own signings. This plan can now be accelerated to now.

Mid-Season Rebuild

So, what happened next? In an unprecedented move in European football, I got straight to work on rebuilding a playing squad in the month of November. The steps taken were:

  • In the two days following the announcement of new funds, I took 38 players on trial at the club. 38 may seem a lot, but every position at the club had the potential to be improved upon and I was looking at both players who could improve the first team immediately and also players who were prospects for the future. In total I looked at over 200 players before selecting the ones I thought merited a more thorough look
  • Being new to managing in Portugal, I studied the Portuguese Liga's rules at the start of the campaign and therefore was aware that free transfer signings can be registered to play at any time
  • All trialists were offered a month at the club so I could better analyze their abilities and also build their fitness
  • I organised a first team friendly, that took place on 04 November against local side Fatima and featured only players on trial. Many player impressed in this 4-0 win
  • In addition, over a period of a few weeks trialists played in every Estrela U19 and U23 fixture. Again to review their abilities and build fitness. We do not have any prospects of note at the club, so I was comfortable this wasn't at the detriment of player development
  • I had a preliminary discussion with the agent of every single player on trial to understand their wage demands. In many instances I was able to negotiate down their demands before I even spoke to any players. Although we now have £150k per week wages available, I really do not want to overpay for players. I knew that to bring better players to the club we will need to spend, but this was to be done in a measured, pragmatic way
  • I weighed up whether now was even the right time to make signings. Clearly, players available as free agents in November are likely to have question marks over them. Why hadn't other clubs picked them up? Are they returning from long-term injuries, are they greedy and only want a big pay day or is there a key deficiency in their game that has put clubs off? All of these factors were considered. Ultimately, through observing them during their trials and also seeing my current players form in early-November, I concluded that a good number of the players should be signed now and could make a big impact. Some are diamonds in the rough, but I back myself to shine them up
  • With three cup games upcoming, the timing seemed perfect to bed in some new signings. These fixtures are a free hit compared to the league, with the board not particularly bothered how we do in this competition
  • Between Monday 13 November and Wednesday 30 November, we made 15 free transfer signings. I would consider 11 of these signings as being for the first team now, and four of them as prospects for the future
  • Furthermore, I converted a small proportion of the wage budget into transfer budget and made a paid signing. £300k up front that will rise to £700k. This player will arrive on 01 January

Who did I sign? I will reveal all in my next update.


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On 01/09/2023 at 19:25, Hootieleece said:

Don't spend the whole wage budget. take a look at the team's overall budget as well if you want to make this sustainable.

The players have already been signed, amigo. You’ll be pleased to hear though, there is still plenty of wage and transfer budget left after our dealings.

I'm travelling up and down the UK this weekend, so the new signings summary will follow on Tuesday.

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11 minutes ago, Jogo Bonito said:

Excellent start and another great Lisbon triumph. The new budgets are crazy and really opens up your possibilities. Best of luck.

Thanks @Jogo Bonito! Yes, the new budget has transformed the objectives / timelines of this save. With the starting squad, just avoiding relegation was a good enough challenge. I now think I should be targeting a top half finish for this season and then push on to challenge for a European place next season. Not to spoil a future post, but our form in early January has not been good unfortunately… Hopefully just teething problems as a whole new team looks to gel!

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2 minutes ago, Dong21 said:

Thanks @Jogo Bonito! Yes, the new budget has transformed the objectives / timelines of this save. With the starting squad just avoiding relegation was a good enough challenge. I now think I should be targeting a top half finish for this season and then push on to challenge for European place next season. Not to spoil a future post, but our form in early January has not been good unfortunately… Hopefully just teething problems as a whole new team looks to gel. 

Agree it looks like a game-changer. At least your new squad can gel without much pressure on results. You'll get it figured out soon, no doubt about it.

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October Squad Rebuild

As detailed in my update above, 15 new players arrived arrived on free transfers in October 2022. In this update I will introduce the new arrivals. 

Centre Back


The arrival who we had been monitoring for the longest period of time was defender Manu Hernando who had spent four weeks of pre-season on trial at the club. At the time I had wanted to sign him but couldn't afford his wages. Three months later, he had dropped his wage demands and we had a budget at last. Although his last club was Tondela in Liga 2, Hernando is a product of the Real Madrid / Castilla academy. He has good all round attributes and is of a good age profile.

Our second centre back signing joins us as much for his leadership profile as his defensive ability. Liam Moore is a leader who has captained sides in the past. As you read this update you will see that I have looked to lower the age profile of the squad. Moore is the only exception, although he is not yet quite 30. I am hoping he can be somewhat of a north star for a team now packed with young talent. 

Right Back


My number one priority for this rebuild was to sign a new right back. Both Hevertton and Lopes have been poor and their performances have cost us goals. Hevertton is young and can improve whereas Lopes is 35 and prime to be replaced. Former Rayo Vallecano-man Mario is a big upgrade on both them. I am not blind to the fact his determination is completely lacking, but overall he is a big upgrade on what I have and performed well in friendlies therefore I decided to make the signing. As noted previously, players available in October may well have defects. I'm well aware some of these signings will do well and others may flop. I'm confident there will be resale value if I have to move any on. Mario has strengths that make him valuable in attack and defence.

Central Midfield


I did hope to recruit some Portuguese players to the squad, however after extensive searching only Cafú was available and good enough to merit signing. Cafú is a big upgrade on my current midfielders. He has spent the last two seasons at Nottingham Forest.

Anyone who has followed my careers may recognise the connection between myself and Ethan Gailbraith. A former signing for me at Oldham, Bolton and Charlton who journeyed with me from the depth of the Football League to, in some instances, the bright lights of the Premier League. When I saw he was available on a free, it was therefore very difficult to not sign him up. Along with the emotive connotations, it should be noted that Gailbraith is also as good a player as my incumbant central midfielders, with the potential to develop into a much better player. He will serve as a back-up to Cafú and Oakley-Boothe.

Attacking Midfield


The gem in the crown of my October recruiting. I was shocked that Bradley Dack even entertained a conversation with lowly Estrela, let alone signed a contract with us. Perhaps a perk of being the only club actively recruiting in October. He does become our highest earner, but I don't feel £11k per week is a great sum for a player of his ability. He would have been on a higher wage at Blackburn. We did have to accept a £2.6m release clause for Champions League sides, but I can live with that.

Look at his attributes. Technically and mentally he is top class. His physicals will be fine for this level too. His signing has prompted a formation change, straight away we have got to work training a 4-2-3-1 to play to Dack's strengths and position him behind a striker. 

Dack has suffered two year long injuries in 2019 and in 2021, however our physios have given him a clean bill have health and did not flag any concerns of reoccurrence. Fingers crossed we can keep him on the pitch.


If we do elect to start with a 4-2-3-1, the two players likely to start either side of Dack in an attacking midfield three are Ante Coric and Izzy Brown

Coric was once a player of great promise. He came through the ranks at Dinamo and was signed for Roma for £5.25m, but after a series of underwhelming loans in Holland, Slovenia and Switzerland he was let go. I'm hoping I can be the one to unlock his potential. His mental attributes are inconsistent and this may let him down. Technically he oozes class and he's looked great in the friendly game I arranged for the triallists. 

Brown was on Chelsea's books for eight years but after a series of loans his career also hasn't quite taken off. He can play anywhere in midfield and even up front if needed. Again I hope this is an environment where he can thrive. 

Attacking Midfield (The Understudies)


The bulking out of this squad continues. If we are going to start playing with a central attacking midfielder, then Dack cannot be the only player we have for the role. Young Belgian Zakaria Maknoun has been recruited as his understudy. Maknoun has never played a professional league game, despite being on the books of Belgian, Moroccan and Emirati clubs and clearly possessing a great deal of talent. I hope therefore that he is comfortable with being patient for his opportunity. 

Other than loanees, when it comes to wingers we had next-to-none, pre-signing spree. Wonderfully named Hilary Gong arrives to give us a completely different option; a pacy out-and-out winger. 



The final first team signing was Haitian forward Yassin Fortune. Once part of Arsenal's academy, he most recently has spent time in the French National. My coaches think he is a right winger. I disagree and have signed him as a striking option. With a pair of elder statesmen as my first choice strikers, Fortune provides something completely different with his pace. Importantly though, he is also a good finisher with composure, technique and determination.

As referenced previously, I have also signed another striker for £700k in the January, but I will introduce him in the January update.

Prospect Signings


There was so little talent in our B team, U23s and U18s upon arrival in Amadora that I did not even bother to write a post profiling the players in these teams. There is genuinely not one noteworthy prospect. It will take time to improve the facilities and the pipeline of talent, but it is something I would like to do if this is to become a long-term adventure. In the meantime, to jump-start our talent development I have snapped up the best prospects available at this time. 

If I hadn't just signed a cohort of attacking midfielders, left winger Joep van der Sluijs would have been good enough for my Estrela first team. Instead he will be loaned out in January to aide his development. Goalkeeper Dominique Youfiegane is also one for the future, but with my second choice 'keeper being 37 I think his time to join the bench will be now. 


Finally, we recruited two French 18 year olds; striker Ronan Matuvangua and attacking midfielder Abdallag Nouri. Both have been promised they will be loaned out in January to get minutes on the pitch to develop. 

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11 minutes ago, Jogo Bonito said:

Expecting lots of plaudits and awards for Gong and a headline praising Dong & Gong (Dilly Ding, Dilly Dong Gong?) would be nice too :lol:

Missed opportunity if not! :lol: :lol:

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November 2022 (continued)


Seven players made their debuts in our opening League Cup group stage game against lower league Torreense. It would have been more, but League Cup rules require you to start at least two Portuguese U21 players, which meant my only two players who qualified for this, Costinha and Hevertton, started this and all League Cup games. This meant new right back Mario and right winger Gong had to both start their career as subs, although in one game I did bring them on after 20 minutes. Now I am aware of this rule I am further incentivised to recruit young Portuguese players in the transfer windows to come. We led the opening game for much of the match, until Torreense equalised in the 92nd minute. I was not too fussed about the result as at this stage we are looking to build team cohesion, tactical familiarity and match fitness.

We switched to a 4-2-3-1 to look to get the most out of Dack, Coric and Brown. Dack certainly impressed, scoring five goals in three games. New striker Fortune also got off to a great start as an Estrela player, bagging four goals in the two games that he featured in (I had tested Brown out as makeshift striker in the opening game, prior to Fortune's arrival at the club - the experiment was not successful). What was especially heartening was that we thrashed fellow Portuguese Liga teams Moreirense and Vitoria Guimaraes. So whilst these matches are somewhat of a free-hit, they gave me confidence we could step up our level in the second half of the league season. We finished top of our group and our prize was a game against Porto in the Quarter Finals. 


One incident to report on, is a change of club captain. When started I recruiting players in November, the first to arrive was Mario. I asked captain Kazim Richards to welcome him to the club. Kazim reacted angrily, querying why this should be his responsibility. I unwisely decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and asked him to do the same for the next arrival, he is club captain after all, but again I got the same result. By this point our relationship was irreparably damaged. With Kazim's ability starting to fade after recently turning 36, and new strikers either already at the club or on their way, I decided it was time to phase him out. I stripped him of the captaincy and replaced him with leader Liam Moore. 

I had intended to try and sell Kazim in January, however in early December he picked up a hip injury that will rule him out for three months. Instead, I moved him to the Estrela B Team where he will stay until his deal expires in the summer.

December 2022


We were not permitted to schedule any friendlies between 09 and 29 December, so we only played two matches in December. England won the World Cup, beating Brazil 1-0 in the Final with a 92nd minute with a goal from Ward-Prowse - I didn't see that coming! Portugal were underwhelming and were knocked out at the Round of 16 by Switzerland on penalties after drawing 3-3 with them.

Continuing my theme of seeing the Taca de Liga as a free-hit, I decided to play Porto with the 'positive' 4-2-3-1 that we had utilised in the group stage to try and get a gage on how good my new squad was. The result was disappointing but at least educational. I now know to continue using a cautious, counter-attacking approach when facing a 'big three' side. 

After beating them 4-0 just a month earlier, I was disappointed that we could only manage a 0-0 draw against Moreirense in the league. We had made all five subs when sub left back Reis had to go off injured (sprained knee ligaments, out for 7 weeks) with 20 minutes to go, so the silver lining was that we were able to not lose when playing with 10 men.


Finally, my Head of Youth Development gave me the annual preview of our youth intake. With the limited youth coaching set up we have Estrela, any player with promise is a positive, so I was pleased to hear we may have a centre back and a winger incoming with some potential. 

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Winter Transfer Window

Ahead of the transfer window re-opening in January, owner Patrice Evra surprised me with his generosity by increasing the transfer budget unprompted from £0 to £3m. 

We still had £42k per week wage budget left over from when Evra increased this at the start of November. There was therefore the possibility to add to the squad in the transfer window, but after our recent squad rebuild the need was quality and not quantity.



Given the number of new signings in November, there was a need to trim down the size of our squad. We managed to get good fees for first team players Aloisio, Correira, Balbundia and Cordeiro. Elder statesmen of the squad Lopes and Filipe were allowed to leave for nominal fees. There were no taker for Gomes, so I decided to loan him to Nacional. Youngsters van der Sluijs, Hoyos, N'do, Luan, Matuvangua and Nouri were loaned out to aide their development. The other players that you can see departing on frees are B Team players who were surplus to requirements.

I had hoped to be able to sell aging winger Salamoa however, like Kazim Richards, he picked up a three month injury and so was unable to be sold. He has also been relocated to the B Team to see out the remainder of his contract. 



I mentioned in my November squad building update that I had also agreed a £700k deal (£300k up front fee, with add-ons) for a striker who would join on 01 January. That signing is Mamoudou Karamoko who arrives from FC Kobenhavn, where he had been for two years following a £1.3m move from LASK. I was looking for a player with his athletic profile, which I think will be very effective in the Portuguese Liga. 

The other 'star' signing was Bosnian defensive midfielder Vladan Danilovic from Nacional for £625k. Like Karamoko he is a great age profile and has no obvious flaws in his game. I recruited some good attacking midfielders in November but there were no quality defensive midfielders available - this was therefore a position we needed to fill. A good defensive mid will be essential to create balance in the team and will assist us when facing the 'big three'. 


In the January results update that will follow shortly, you will see that results started poorly. The 4-2-3-1 that had been effective in the League Cup group stage was leaving us defensively exposed. I therefore decided to pivot back to the 5-1-2-2 that had served us well in the first two months of the season. This meant that we needed three good centre backs. Moore and Hernando had arrived in November, but our third good quality centre back Sane was constantly picking up knocks. I therefore looked to the loan market and was able to bring in Joao Marcelo from Porto for the remainder of the season. We have the option to make the transfer permanent for £925k included in the loan contract. 


At the end of the window we added two squad players, both of which were free transfers. Lucas Joao had been on trial with us in November but we hadn't been able to agree a contract, despite him impressing in training. He lowered his wage expectations in the months that passed and we were now on the same page. Joao had scored 30 goals across the last two seasons in the Championship, for a poor Reading side. I am pleased to have a back-up striker who should be able to contribute goals. The final arrival was Cape Verdean David Tavares. After selling Aloisio, Cordeiro and Correira, I was conscious that we were now short on defensive midfielders. Tavares comes in to provide cover and, as a left footer, he has the ability to fill in at left back if needed.

As well as a summary of January results, I will soon post an assessment of my new squad, as it's composition has completely changed in the space of six months.

Edited by Dong21
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January 2023


The new year began with the news that we were moving from the 23,888 capacity Estadio Municipal de Leira to the 15,000 capacity Estadio Jose Gomes. Both stadiums are council owned, however the condition of the Leira stadium was considered very good whereas Estadio Jose Gomes is considered simply 'good'. As you can see, the move had no impact on our really low attendances, with only 371 fans turning up to the first home game of 2023 against Vizela. Having being predicted to be battling against relegation, we are massively overachieving expectations this season which I had hoped would have a positive impact on attendances. But so far, nothing has changed, which is concerning.

One point from three games was a really poor start to a period in which I was full of optimism following the squad rebuild. We did have a lot of chances in these games, 17 shots against Chaves for example, but things were not clicking and only one goal was scored. To compound our problems, new signing Dack bruised his ankle after 11 minutes, was taken off and ruled out for four weeks. The Rio Ave result was the moment I decided things had to change, we just were not playing well. I knew the next game against bottom side Sporting Farense was must win.

We switched back to our trusted 5-1-2-2, gave Danilovic his debut as DM, and started Karamoko and Fortune as a strike partnership for the first time. We had 70% possession and an xG of 3. It was a great performance. The team pressed and pressed, all match long. Danilovic provided a top class through ball to assist Karamoko's second. I did wonder if this was the team finding it's rhythm or that we were just playing a really poor opponent. An even better performance followed against Boavista which has given me hope that we have found our best approach. Once again Danilovic and Karamoko were the best players on the pitch and looking like money well spent in the transfer market. 


We finish the month in 7th place, four points off a Europa Conference League qualification place. The board has not changed it's expectations of us to attempt to avoid relegation, but my personal ambition is to try and get us into Europe, so this is what we will battle for over the final four months of the season.

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I've got to be honest here, the transfer moves are much more to my tastes this time around! I have a special interest in Lucas Joao, a player who on his day is almost unplayable, but sometimes just cannot be bothered and wastes his talent. The other two strikers and defensive midfielder were good picks, and the defender from FC Porto looks like a good addition on loan too.

A really strong run so far this season and hopefully you can maintain that in the last few months mate.

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