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


Dong21
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I like how Patrice is giving his knowledge of English football to the transfers at the club.

Vladan and Karamoko look excellent both in crucial parts of the pitch as well.

Good signs from the youth section especially if it’s coming like that when it’s limited. Hopefully an area Patrice will grown for the club. 

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21 hours ago, Chevie said:

Always enjoy a squad rebuild by Dong so catching up on this thread has definitely been enjoyable :applause:

Squad building is probably my favourite part of the game, so pleased to hear reading about it is also enjoyable.

14 hours ago, Jogo Bonito said:

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.

I think you and I are aligned on desired profile of signings, I just had to be creative at the start of the season :lol: No regrets, Tardelli's goals started our season off perfectly! That said, I am much happier with the profile of my current squad.

Thanks @Jogo Bonito - it's going to be a really tight battle between Chaves, Portimonense and ourselves for that final Europa Conference League place. 

5 hours ago, SixPointer said:

I like how Patrice is giving his knowledge of English football to the transfers at the club.

Vladan and Karamoko look excellent both in crucial parts of the pitch as well.

Good signs from the youth section especially if it’s coming like that when it’s limited. Hopefully an area Patrice will grown for the club. 

I like to think the profile of a lot of the signings (English, Portuguese, French and Africans) has been very consistent with what Patrice will do with the club in real life!

Very happy with Danilovic and Karamoko and I am pleased to say their good form has continued into February. 

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8 minutes ago, Dong21 said:

Squad building is probably my favourite part of the game, so pleased to hear reading about it is also enjoyable.

I think you and I are aligned on desired profile of signings, I just had to be creative at the start of the season :lol: No regrets, Tardelli's goals started our season off perfectly! That said, I am much happier with the profile of my current squad.

Thanks @Jogo Bonito - it's going to be a really tight battle between Chaves, Portimonense and ourselves for that final Europa Conference League place. 

I like to think the profile of a lot of the signings (English, Portuguese, French and Africans) has been very consistent with what Patrice will do with the club in real life!

Very happy with Danilovic and Karamoko and I am pleased to say their good form has continued into February. 

Agree with all of that. Squad building is my favourite part too. Good luck with the upcoming matches.

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Mid-Season Squad Summary

Before we proceed into February, I promised that I would provide a summary of what my squad now looks like after a busy November and January. 

Goalkeepers

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Brigido remains our first choice goalkeeper. He only has five months left on his contract and I am pondering whether to give him a new deal. On one hand, he has performed very well with an admirable ratio of a clean sheet in 50% of league games played. I do feel we can likely find an improvement in the summer. A decision for further down the line. A Brazilian club did bid £250k for him late in the window, but I decided to reject this. Youfeigane is yet to make his debut but is young enough to be comfortable that he is one for the future. 

Right Backs

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New first choice right back Mario has already proven to be an upgrade on both Lopes and Hevertton. Hevertton has featured in most games, as either a starter or a sub, and has been showing progress over time. 

Left Backs

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The only position that remains the same as at the start of the season is left back. Mansur continues to be an important player. His understudy Reis has also played well when called upon, but has picked up a number of knocks throughout the campaign and as such I may seek a replacement in the summer.

Centre Backs

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Compared to the start of the season, we now have a much stronger and more experienced pool of central defenders. With our preference for playing five at the back, we have kept stocked up with six players. Gaspar and Feratovic will be disappointed with their lack of playing minutes.

Central Midfielders

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Our defensive midfielders are Danilovic and Tavares, with Gailbraith also comfortable playing there if needed. First choice in central midfield are Oakley-Boothe and Cafú. Fall and Guzman remain from the starting squad. I would have happily accepted an appropriate offer for them in the window, but nothing came in and as such we are carrying a few players too many here.

Wingers 

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With the squad looking very large, I took the decision to terminate the loans of Leo Jaba and Costinha. Both were regularly unfit and neither had played much as they didn't suit our most utilised formation. We do not have tonnes of depth now, but with Brown, Coric and Gong we have the option to play 4-2-3-1 when we see fit. 

Attacking Midfielders

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On paper, our star man is central attacking midfielder Dack. When we play a 4-2-3-1 he sits behind the striker and when we play 5-1-2-2 he can operate as part of the central midfield pair, in a box-to-box midfielder role. Maknoun is Dack' understudy, although he hasn't had many opportunities to shine yet.

Strikers

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Our first choice strike partnership is now Fortune and Karamoko. On the bench we have two able reserves, Joao and Tavares, both who offer different things to the starting pair which I hope will help unlock difficult defences. Tardelli remains, but the intention is for him to rarely feature. As vice-captain he operates in somewhat of an ambassadorial role and I have recently persuaded him to go on a coaching course as he prepared for the next stage of his career. On a bargain £850 per week, it was a no brainer to keep him around for emergency scenarios. Ronaldo's contract was due to expire at the end of the season so I rewarded him with a new year deal on similar terms to what he was already on. This protects his value if we wish to sell him or keeps him as a rotation option. 

Best Eleven

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February 2023

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No manager is happy with losing twice in a row, but I certainly wasn't unhappy with my teams performances against Sporting Lisbon and Sporting Braga. Against Sporting both of my strikers got on the scoresheet and against Braga we had lots of possession and shots but were unlucky to be narrowly beaten. Things started poorly against Casa Pia when Mansur gave away a penalty but then things clicked into gear and in-form striker Fortune bagged a brace. Karamoko won the league's Player of the Week accolade for his performance against Estoril.

After four goals in four games, Yassim Fortune was voted both the league's Forward of the Month and Player of the Month. Both the board and fans gave me a rating of A+ showing they were also satisfied with our performances in all four games.

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Another highlight from this month was that Evra accepted my request to enhance the club's training facilities. This will cost a large amount of money, but sets us up for long-term success. The work will be done in time for pre-season in July. 

I did also ask Evra if he would consider enhancing our youth recruitment. Disappointingly the response was that our youth set up was "good enough for a club of our size". 

March 2023

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With only two games in March, I thought I would tag this update onto the February one. High drama occurred when we played lowly Famalicao with substitute forward scoring a sublime match winner in the 94th minute. This win was essential as it took us up the table into 6th place. This did not last for long however, as Portimonense won a game in hand they had been waiting to play for some time. Eight of our players were called up for international duty, demonstrating the growth in quality in the squad.

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We beat Gil Vicente whereas Portimonense drew their match meaning that once again we leaped up to 6th place. Can we hang on here for the final two months of the season?

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The final thing to report on is our first youth intake. 14 of the youth prospects were given youth contracts at the club. I then went on to also give Cerqueira, Henrique and Vezo pre-contract deals for when they turn 16. Clearly Cerqueira is the standout prospect. At only the age of 15 he has already been called up to go to the U20 World Cup as part of the Portugal squad!

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If you get any "good" Youth Prospects have them train with the First team to take advantage of the facilities and make sure they are available to the appropriate youth or Reserve team for playing time. Only pick 2-3 and also make sure to check in on them monthly and maybe modify their training or ppm's worked on.

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6 minutes ago, Hootieleece said:

If you get any "good" Youth Prospects have them train with the First team to take advantage of the facilities and make sure they are available to the appropriate youth or Reserve team for playing time. Only pick 2-3 and also make sure to check in on them monthly and maybe modify their training or ppm's worked on.

The only one who deserves special focus on is Jose Cerquiera, so I will keep an eye on his progress and report back on how he develops. 

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Wow - a lot of action here while I've been away. Plenty of good news, too.

Really like the balance in the squad with most positions covered by older, wiser heads but young prospects poised to take over.

A bit of a gap to the places above you and tough competition for that 6th place but there's no reason why you can't hold on (barring injuries and other disasters). Keep it up!

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11 hours ago, warlock said:

Wow - a lot of action here while I've been away. Plenty of good news, too.

I think this is the fastest I’ve played through a season whilst writing about it in detail - must be enjoying myself! 

Hope you had a good time in Rome, my friend.

11 hours ago, warlock said:

Really like the balance in the squad with most positions covered by older, wiser heads but young prospects poised to take over.

A bit of a gap to the places above you and tough competition for that 6th place but there's no reason why you can't hold on (barring injuries and other disasters). Keep it up!

Thanks! It will certainly be competitive but I will do my best. 

8 hours ago, Jogo Bonito said:

Being competitive against bigger teams shows you have something very positive to build on. Good luck for the remaining games :cool:

Thanks mate. Those performances certainly have made me feel like we’re going in the right direction. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 12/09/2023 at 15:36, SixPointer said:

That intake looks perfect! Especially Cerqueira how does his attribute profile look?

Apologies for the slow reply! I've been holidaying in Menorca, but I am back home now and have resumed playing.

This is what Cerqueira looks like:

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As you can see he has already improved since joining the club (I have played on a month - see below - and in this time he has been called up for the Portugal U20 World Cup squad and is starting player!). Hopefully a player I can nurture over this career.

Update - Cerqueira, Henrique and Vezo have all signed pre-contract deals. 

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April 2023

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We started the month by rompimg to victory at home against Arouca. Karamoko and Fortune are forming a strong partnership and both went happy after this game with a brace and a hat-trick between them. Next was a trip to league leaders Porto who were on a run of 10 straight wins. We were unable to stop them and defeat saw us fall to 7th in the table. We also suffered defeat against local rivals Benfica, although this game felt like a closer affair. Angel Di Maria, the best player in the league, was the difference maker. Luckily Chaves also lost so we stayed just one point behind 6th place and the coveted Europa Conference League place. 

One positive was that despite two defeats in a row we received a series of positive announcements: we were confirmed as having avoided relegation, we achieved the club's record highest finish and we achieved the chairman's goal for us to "become an established Portuguese Liga team" a year ahead of plan.

The defeat against Vitoria was extremely disappointing. We know that we will lose to the 'big three' on most occasions, but hope for something against everyone else. This was disappointing in particular due to defensive midfielder Danilovic giving away a 90th minute penalty which cost us a point. This loss saw us fall 4 points behind Chaves and even slip behind Portimonense, dropping us to 8th.

The next game, therefore, was crucial in our battle for European football. I conducted a team meeting days before the big game and my rallying cry to not let our heads drop was well received. I switched our formation back to 4-2-3-1 and asked the team to play defensively solid. Right winger Gong got a rare start thanks to the formation shift and he was the difference maker as his deflected shot became the winning goal. To my delight I saw after the game that Chaves had drawn 0-0 with relegation contenders Familicao, meaning that not only did we leapfrog Portimonense we also closed the gap on Chaves to just two points.

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During the course of the month, a group of senior players approached me to complain that goalkeeper Brigido had not been offered a new contract. I had been waiting until the summer to make a decision on what to do with him but, given he has had a great season and also the fact I was keen to avoid squad unrest at this crucial stage of the season, I conceded and gave him a new three year contract. Central midfielder Fall also requested a deal during the month too. I also gave him a three year deal. I am undecided as to whether he will be part of my plans next season, but I thought at least this protects his resale value. 

Squeaky Bum Time

There are four games remaining of the season. We are two points off European qualification. It is all in our hands as one of our final four games is against Chaves, who sit two points ahead of us. The remaining fixtures are against mid-table sides Moreirense, Vizela and Rio Ave. Will it be jubilation or heartache? 

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May 2023

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The month of May could not have got off to a better start as we romped to victory against Moreirense. Bradley Dack was back in the team thanks to our recent switch to 4-2-3-1 and got his first goal in some time, from the penalty spot. Cafu was man of the match and also delivered a goal of his own. The final goalscorer, who can't be seen in the screenshot above, was from reserve striker Ronaldo in the 88th minute. The only negative was centre back Hernando twisting his ankle and being ruled out for four weeks. To my delight, I then learned that Chaves had lost Vizela and we had moved up into 7th place by one point. After the game I was once again approached by Patrice Evra who expressed his delight that we had confirmed a top half finish, four years sooner than he was expecting. You're welcome, Patrice.

My delight that Chaves had lost soured somewhat when I realised that we next had to also play Vizela who had hit a late season spell of form. Jardel scored an amazing volley for them to take the lead. Despite us having more shots and better xG, it just wasn't our day and we fell to a 3-1 defeat. Chaves lost, but Portimonense won, meaning we fell back to 7th with just two games to go. 

Next up was our newly established rivals Chaves. The nerves before the game turned out to be unnecessary. I switched us back to 5-1-2-2 and we dominated from start to finish. We scored three but had two more ruled out as marginally offside. Striker Fortune was named as the league's Player of the Week. In further good news, Portimonense lost 2-0 to Sporting Lisbon. These results meant on the final day of the season we started 6th, two points ahead of Portimonense, who were to play Vizela.

I barely got a chance to get nervous against Rio Ave as Fortune scored in just 22 seconds. Dack scored a great direct free kick and the win was rounded off with a third from Karamoko. Prioe to the match Diego Tardelli announced his retirement so, with the game clearly won, I brought him on for the last five minutes to get an ovation from our small but passionate fan base. Tardelli may have only started three games all campaign, but his goals against Sporting and Benfica, plus his three goals in four games to start the season, will never be forgotten by me.

Vizela continued to play a big role in the big battle for the sixth and final Portuguese European qualification place, defeating Portimonense and allowing Chaves to overtake them into seventh place.

Our victory meant that we qualified for the Europa Conference League (second qualifying round)! This is a competition I have never managed in before and I am extremely excited to see how this small side will fare in Europe. I had expected a relegation battle, and obviously expectations changed when our finances improved, but gelling a team mid-season is not easy so I still consider this an overachievement.

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Porto were the clear dominant force, winning the treble. Villas Boas was sacked when he could not save Famalicao from relegation. Casa Pia lost 4-3 on aggregate against Nacional in the relegation play-off, meaning the island side join Maritimo and Santa Clara in their promotions to the Portuguese Liga.

Our challenge for next season will be to try and once achieve the status of 'best of the rest' behind the 'big three' and the well-established pair of Vitoria and Sporting Braga, whilst juggling European football.

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On 26/09/2023 at 12:17, Dong21 said:

I still consider this an overachievement

Fair!

A great season by any measure.

Hope you had a good time in Menorca. I was in Mahon on Wednesday as part of a Med cruise, and just got back from Lisbon - where we ended the cruise - a couple of hours ago. Last night saw Benfica entertain Porto in the league, which briefly gave me ideas until MrsW vetoed that as a way to pass our only night in the city :herman: :lol:.

Now to catch up on all the FM24 stuff that has released while I've been away!

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15 hours ago, warlock said:

Hope you had a good time in Menorca. I was in Mahon on Wednesday as part of a Med cruise, and just got back from Lisbon - where we ended the cruise - a couple of hours ago. Last night saw Benfica entertain Porto in the league, which briefly gave me ideas until MrsW vetoed that as a way to pass our only night in the city :herman: :lol:.

It was a great trip, thanks. We were staying not too far from Mahon. As tempted as I would have also been to go to the Benfica game, that does sound like the right decision :lol:

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2022/23 Squad Performance

With European qualification secured (albeit with qualifying rounds to navigate), my attention turns to enhancing my squad so that it is capable of competing in the Europa Conference League whilst also looking to once again finish 'best of the rest' in the Portuguese Liga. Before I begin to review the transfer options available to me, it is important to first reflect back on the performances of my squad over the season concluded. 

I started by signing the best players available to me. When our budget was transformed I was able to undertake wholesale changes to the squad. Signings made from October onwards have been more youthful and transfers out have taken the age profile of the squad down. The team finished the season in good form and as such it will likely be more of a case of evolution than revolution this summer. 

So let's take a look at how my players got on in the 2022/23 season:

Goalkeepers

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First choice 'keeper Brigido had a strong season, delivering a clean sheet in half of the games he played and winning the clubs' Fans Player of the Season award. Despite his solid displays and the new contract I gave him just a few months back, this is a position I will likely look to improve upon in the summer. At the age of 32 he is unlikely to improve much and a higher quality goalkeeper could make a big difference both in Europe and on the domestic front. Reserve 'keeper Youfeigane is yet to make his debut, but at only age 23 he has plenty of time for opportunities and growth. 

Right Backs

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Mario has started his Estrela career well and has been a marked improvement on predecessor Lopes. Young Hevertton ended up playing more games than expected. An area for improvement for next year will be for them both to look to contribute more assists, especially if we continue to operate with wing backs.

Left Backs

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At the start of this adventure I identified Mansur as our key player and it is fair to say that he lived up to expectations. He was named in the Portuguese Liga's Team of the Season, and was the only player not from the 'Big Three' to achieve this. Understudy Reis picked up six separate injuries during the course of the season, with the longest one ruling him out for six weeks. Given that he is 31 years old, I am thinking it might be prudent to look to replace him during the summer. 

Centre Backs

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Summer signing Sané did not live up to expectations and, especially now he is 33, will be moved on during the transfer window. Another player who underwhelmed me was Gaspar and as such he may also be moved on. Signings Moore, Hernando and Marcelo all did well. I have an option to buy Marcelo but I am inclined to let that expire and consider my options in the summer when potentially better players will be interested in joining. Feratovic continues to have great potential and received a good level of game time to aide his development. 

Moore won the league's Defender of the Month in May after three clean sheets. 

Central Midfield

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Danilovic has been terrific since signing in January. He has made the defensive midfield position his own and appears to be improving as a player already. Two other signings that have been successes were Cafú and Oakley-Boothe, with the latter jointly getting the most assists for the club. We are potentially 'carrying a little weight' in central midfield with many options to choose from, therefore we may look to move on some players either on loan or permanently. Although the counter argument to that is that we should have more games to play next campaign.

Attacking Midfielders

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The signings of Brown, Coric and Maknoun can probably be classed as failures. I signed them with a view to playing 4-2-31, this did not work for us in the league, we switched back to 5-1-2-2 and hit a rich vein of form and as such these players were not required. Brown and Coric, in particular, were pretty poor when they did get to play. I now have the choice whether to sell them (and likely make a nice profit since I signed them for free) or keep them and give them a second chance, giving us the versatility to play multiple formations. Maknoun has had less chances and has looked promising in moments, he deserves a second chance more than the other two. 

Dack started really strong in the Taca de Liga and was actually the competition's top goalscorer. He then didn't quite hit the same heights in the league but did start to hit form as the season neared it's conclusion. His direct free kick goal against Rio Ave was named the club's Goal of the Season. 

Finally, right winger Gong was another victim of our change in formation. When he played he looked good and made contributions.

Strikers

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When I signed strikers Fortune and Karamoko I did not envisage they would form such an effective strike partnership so quickly.

Karamoko was a phenomenon; the club's Young Player of the Season and Signing of the Season, the player who won the most Player of the Match awards (five) and the player with the best average match rating (7.4). It is almost a shame the season had to stop and halt his momentum, after scoring four in four he won the league's Player of the Month, Young Player of the Month and Forward of the Month. His strike partner Fortune even came second in these awards! Fortune was our top goalscorer with 18 strikes in just 23 appearances. 

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  • Dong21 changed the title to [FM24] C.F Estrela da Amadora - "I Love This Game!"

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C.F. Estrela da Amadora - The Story Continues

After careful consideration as to what my first career on FM24 would be, I concluded that there is no club or story I am more engaged with than that of Estrela da Amadora. Taking advantage of the new feature where you can carry games over from FM23 to FM24, I have therefore decided to do just that and continue the adventure with my Lisbon-based upstarts!

I have signed a new two year contract with Estrela, committing myself to the next chapter in the Tricolores history. 

The story thus far, to reacquaint those who were following and welcome those who are new to my posts, is as follows; Attracted to Estrela, despite their tiny stature, due to their promotion to the Liga Portugal and takeover by ever-charismatic Patrice Evra, I took on the challenge of trying to steer the club away from relegation back to Liga Portugal II. Aided by a sponsorship money-boosted spending spree, albeit unprecedented as it was carried out in October outside of transfer window and therefore only based on nomadic free agents, the team was strengthened enabling a push up the league. An end-of-season streak of form in which we won four out of our last five games and which saw strikers Karamoko and Fortune turn prolific culminated in a late rise to 6th place in the table. This final standing meant that Estrela qualified for European football for the first time in their history.  

We recommence on the cusp of our second season in the Liga Portugal. Expectations have shifted dramatically year-on-year, with the media now expecting us to finish 6th once again. Porto are favourites to retain their crown, closely followed by our Lisbon neighbours, Benfica and Sporting. The press once again expect Sporting Braga and Vitoria to finish above us and qualify for the Europa League (last season 5th placed secured Europa Conference League football, but this has changed thanks to the success of Portuguese sides in Europe). We will be joined in the league by newly promoted sides Santa Clara, Maritimo and Nacional, the latter of whom won their promotion from a 4-3 play off win against then-relegated Casa Pia. 

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We enter qualification for the Europa Conference League at the League Path Second Qualifying round. This effectively means we have to overcome three qualifying rounds (six matches) to even reach the Group Stage. We start off against Kosovan side Trepca '89, which seems a winable tie. However this is our first foray into Europe and we need to take it seriously. 

One of the things that had been concerning me about the long-term viability of this career was the lack of club fans. Last season we only had 205 season ticket holders, were outnumbered at our own ground by nearly all opponents supporters and, despite our success, our home crowds did not seem to grow as the season went on. I am therefore delighted to advise that for season two we have managed to sell 1,285 season tickets. Our exciting football and European qualification appear to have captured the imagination of the local Lisbon public! 

 

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1 hour ago, Dong21 said:

I have therefore decided to do just that and continue the adventure with my Lisbon-based upstarts!

Excellent news :thup:. Hope you can build on that first season, and that European adventures don't take too much out of the squad.

Good luck!

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Season 2 - Summer Signings & Squad Update

With regular European football potentially on the horizon in the season ahead and a desire to once again finish in the qualification places through our league standings, the focus in this transfer window was on adding depth and quality to the squad. 

It has been a busy summer, therefore this will be a lengthy update that outlines our comings and going in the transfer window and summarises the composition of the squad after the business was concluded. So let's get straight into the detail:

Goalkeepers

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Our goalkeeping department has seen a significant upgrade from last season. Experienced goalkeeper Federico Lanzillota arrives on a free transfer for the current fourth best side in Argentina, Argentinos Jrs, with his low wage making him even more of a bargain. Joining as his understudy, also on a free transfer, is the equally experienced Wes Foderingham who was fresh off a relegation season with Sheffield United. That may sound like a negative but the 'stopper will have faced the best players in the world and so comes with good experience. I play with a sweeper keeper, so ensured both signings naturally play in this role. 

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Departures: Despite a relatively good season, I wrote in previous updates that I had my doubts about continuing with goalkeeper Bruno Brigido. In the end, in part to avoid squad unrest, I offered him a new contract but the doubts persisted internally. The new deal improved his transfer value and after seeing there were strong alternatives available the first thing I did in the window was transfer list Brigido. I swiftly sold the 'keeper to Championship side Hull City for £975k. Young goalkeeper Dominique Youfeigane was sent on loan to Auxerre to get some more experience.

Right Backs

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In a deal that was agreed back in February, right back Filipe Cruz was recruited from Benfica for £300k and arrived at the start of the transfer window. Cruz is a wing back which fits our system, has a well-rounded skillset, is young with plenty of potential and is Portuguese which was something we wanted to add more of this to the squad (unfortunately many Portuguese targets, including many who spent a number of weeks on trial with us, ended up rejecting us to move elsewhere).

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Mario starts the season as first choice right wing back, but the hope and desire is for Cruz to put the pressure on him, get plenty of minutes and challenge for the starting spot.

Departure: Young Brazilian Hevverton was sent on loan to Brazilian Serie B side CRB to gain experience. 

Left Backs

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In a very similar scenario to my right back recruitment, I opted to sign a young talented full back from one of the 'big 3'. Nilton Varela joins from Porto for £650k (with a further £200k to be paid if he makes 50 appearances). Varela holds Portuguese nationality but has recently been called up by Cape Verde.

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Mansur's position as first choice left back is much more secure than Mario's grip on the right back spot. Remember, Mansur was named in the Portuguese Liga Team of the Season. That said, if we secure European group stage football then Varela will also get plenty of opportunities and can stake his claim and grow and develop. 

Departure: Club vice-captain Joao Reis picked up numerous short-term injuries last season, therefore I was happy to receive £175k from Jagiellonia for him.

Centre Backs

This was a priority position as I really wanted to add quality to help increase our chances against tough opponents and in Europe. I also intended to play three centre backs each game, sticking with last season's formation, therefore I needed five or six in this position.

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Serbian side Cukaricki were the victims of my defensive rebuild as I signed not one, but two, of their centre backs. First to arrive was 19 year old Bojan Kovacevic for £875k (potentially rising to £1.2m), followed by Vukasin Jovanovic for £1.1m, our most expensive signing to date. They are both best suited to the wide centre back role and as such will assume the RCB and LCB positions. I am hoping their past experience together and shared nationality proves beneficial to us.

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Joao Nunes is the third centre back to arrive, this time from league rivals Casa Pia for £475k. Nunes is an out-and-out central defender and will sit in the middle of his two Serbian colleagues. Nunes is a natural leader and therefore I elected to make him club vice-captain not long after arriving. He will be competing for a starting spot with club captain Liam Moore. 

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Liam Moore and Manu Hernando are somewhat unlucky to fall to fourth and fifth choice after not doing too much wrong last season. I am not a sentimental manager, however, if there are better players available than what I have at the club, I will always look to bring them in. Hopefully we will play enough games for them all to have their moments. Prospect Cerqueira is only 16 years and has the potential to be the best defender at the club. I had first intended to send him out on loan and then I remembered I would need him for the League Cup where you have to play two players under 21. Again, I hope there are a few opportunities for him to play first team football and develop.

Departures: Young centre back Amir Feratovic was sent on loan to Moreirense to hopefully get some Portuguese Liga minutes that he wouldn't be able to get with us. Kialonga Gaspar (Erzurumspor - £150k), Yaya Sane (Lamia - £60k) and Lucao (free) have all departed.

Central Midfielders

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Only one arrival in the middle of the pitch. Markus Andre Kassa is comfortable playing in either of the midfield roles we employ, mezzala or box-to-box midfielder and adds an alternative option. Kassa joins on loan from Molde, with an option to sign him for £700k if we so wish. We did have a number of other midfield transfer targets which did not come to fruition, but I am conscious of the length of this post, so I won't go into this!

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As you can see, we have a great amount of strength in depth in the middle of the pitch. Danilovic remains our first choice ball winning midfielder, with Tavares as his understudy. In the middle of the pitch Oakley-Boothe and Cafu are probably our first choice pairing. The talented Dack could also be a contender if he can adapt to one of these roles, as could new boy Kassa.

We have fully committed to our 5-1-2-2 formation and as such nearly all wingers and central attacking midfielders have been moved on. Gong is the only exception on the winger front, I have kept him around for his versatility and his explosive pace. Dack is the only exception for CAMs, however as noted I am going to try and make him a CM option. 

Departures: We have been carrying too many players in this area. Midfielders Izzy Brown (Plymouth - £200k), Latyr Fall (Granada - £150k) and Sebastian Guzman (Nacional - £100k) have all been sold. Midfielders Gailbraith (Feirense), Maknoun (Molenbeek) and Coric (Eyupspor) have all been sent out on loan. Wingers Luan and Capita have once again been sent out on loan.

Strikers

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Strikers Karamoko and Fortune were in red hot form in the second half of last season, but that hasn't stopped me recruiting two first team quality strikers. With lots of games to be played, I wanted lots of firepower in the squad and I'd like to think that I have achieved this. The combination of one pressing forward, one advanced forward has worked well, so that is what I have recruited again. 

After successfully recruiting Karamoko from the Danish Superliga last campaign I went back again, this time to FC Midtjylland, to sign Junior Brumado for £1m. Brumado has great physicality, and all round technical and mental attributes, at a good age to keep on developing. Cameroon international Ignatius Ganago arrives on a season-long loan from Nantes. His pace, acceleration and finishing excite me. 

 

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We now have a pool of four 24 year old strikers who should all deliver goals when given the chance. The only challenge might be keeping them all happy but that is a good problem to have. This group fills me with confidence for the campaign ahead. You'll note I have kept club original Ronaldo around - it is perhaps slightly unfair on him as he will likely not play much, but he is very cheap and provides me with strength in depth, so I am keeping him with me for now.

Departures: Striker Lucas Joao was sold to Lyngby for £375k, a nice profit having brought him in on a free just six months earlier. Young forwards Santiago Hoyos (Vilafranquense) and Gustavo Varela (Benfica CB) were loaned out for experience. 18 year old Varela was signed this summer from Benfica for £40k and has five star potential.

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July 2023

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Pre-season got off to a great start with four dominant wins against smaller sides. However we then lost to Elche in a disappointing performance. Goal scorer Oakley-Boothe was rewarded with a new three year contract after the game which, importantly, removed a pre-existing £700k release clause which was in danger of being triggered. The 0-0 against Tenerife was not a bad result as Cafu was sent off at half time so we practiced playing with 10 men and not conceding. 

Oakley-Boothe was not the only player to receive a new deal during pre-season. I rewarded Fortune's end-of-season fine form with a new four year deal and, after threatening to explore his options after entering the final year of his contract, I persuaded Mansur to stay with a three year deal.

Our first Europa Conference League match, the first leg against Kosovan side Trepca '89, could not have gone any better. Karamoko scored four goals, new signing Bramudo bagged a brace from the bench and Fortune, Danilovic and Mansur all got on the score-sheet. The one Trepca '89 supporter who traveled over and stood in the away end on his own was not rewarded for his loyalty and effort! 

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The above news story that landed just before the season started was both pleasant and reassuring to receive. Two of my strikers being listed as the joint fifth most likely to be league top goalscorer shows the quality of firepower I have at my disposal. I have recently added two equally talented forwards in Brumado and Ganago, which adds to the excitement.

To counter the positive sentiment, I have just spotted that the Portuguese league has lost one of its Champions League places, being overtaken in stature by the Dutch league. This means that only the top five teams in Portugal qualify for Europe and therefore equaling last seasons 6th placed finish would feel like less of an achievement, we are now fighting for 5th. In the pre-season team meeting I told the team we were targeting top half and they were all delighted with that, but in reality my ambitions are loftier. 

Due to our growth in stature, Evra has given me permission to grow the size of both my coaching and scouting teams. It was therefore once again a busy summer in respect of staffing coming and goings.

Coaching Staff

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As I am now allowed 10 coaches, I wanted two goalkeeping coaches and two fitness coaches to support the more generalist coaches. Seamus McDonagh retired after one season with Estrela, so I had two vacancies to fill in the goalkeeping department. Two Brits arrived. Simply put, they were the two best coaches available to us. Lee Harrison's last job was at Wycombe and Jonathan Gould's last role was at Stoke. Both will be effective support to our pool of goalkeepers.

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I next hired a man who has been in Andrea Pirlo's backroom staff on multiple occasions. The first of several coups that I will be reporting on in this section. Roberto Baronio is excellent at tactical, technical, attacking coaching so I am looking forward to seeing him coach my group of forwards. Jon Goodman is a former fitness coach and Head of Youth Development. He is very much an 'all rounder' and I think that he complements the group of coaches I already have, bringing a defensive perspective to the mix.

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Given it is now possible, I had to take the opportunity to recruit as Set Pieces Coach! Nicolas Marsicano made an immediate impact as I hired him, worked with him to design our set pieces approach and then in the friendly against Grandolense that followed we scored three goals from corners. Hopefully we can carry that on into the season! 

Portuguese Fitness Coach Martins Ventura arrives after a spell at the wonderfully named lower league side Oriental Dragon. With the addition of European football there will be a lot of games to be played potentially, so having two coaches dedicated to fitness makes sense. 

Assistant Manager Luis Matos was given a two year contract renewal.

Recruitment Team

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The next two arrivals are also very exciting. Julian Ward's last job was as Sporting Director at Liverpool, where he worked on deals such as the signing of Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez. He has extensive scouting knowledge of Portugal, Spain and England and one of his former roles was even as a performance analyst for Portugal. He is in many ways the perfect man for the job. 

The Head of Youth Development role is very important to me as longer-term I really want the club to start producing talented young players. When registering my squad for the Europa Conference League qualifying I had to register only 21 players as we don't have any 'home grown at club' players currently. Edorta Murua has been poached from Qatar's ASPIRE Academy. Prior to that role he spent 24 years in the famed Athletic Bilbao academy. This man has a real eye for young talent. Hopefully both these men will have a big impact at Estrela.

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Laurent Moracchini arrives from Nancy where he was a scout for 19 years. He has extensive knowledge of the French and Spanish markets, which will be useful. With an eye on attracting some South American gems, I also added Jailson Dantas Lopes to the scouting division. He has extensive knowledge of both Brazil and Portugal, helpfully.

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I'm really not deliberately hiring so many fellow Englishman, it just often is the case that they are the best options available. Harvey Bussell and Martin Hinshelwood are both former Chief Scouts (at Birmingham and Portsmouth, respectively) and bring truckloads of experience. 

Medical Team

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 A big upgrade in the physiotherapy team with the arrival of former Burnley Head Physio Alasdair Beattie.

Development Coaching

To further enhance our chances of producing talent young players, I have also taken the time to upgrade the youth coaching teams. 

At Under-23s level we now have a new Manager (Dejan Durdovic), Assistant Manager (Jean Pascal-Fontaine), three new Coaches (Kieron Dyer, Aarao Alves, Nuno Troia), Physio (Jamie Stewart) and a Performance Analyst (Eduardo Gimenez). The Under-19s also have a new Manager (Predrag Pejovic) and also a new Goalkeeping Coach (Murat Turksoy). 

Infrastructure

The upgrade to our training facilities completed in July, meaning our facilities are now defined as 'good'. The project completion announcement served as a prompt for me to once again knock on Evra's office door, this time to ask him to improve our youth facilities (currently rated as 'average'). This was a very easy conversation, Evra committed £4m to the improvements that are needed and I was advised these would be complete as soon as January 2024.

Edited by Dong21
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August 2023

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What a busy month August was! Nine fixtures in twenty eight days. It's a good job I have built out my squad depth during the transfer window or I think we would have crumbled. In my last update I talked about my excitement about the firepower contained within our squad and this became a reality as, although results were a mixed bag, we scored in every match we played.

Our away tie against Trepca '89 could have been seen as a non-event after we had won the first leg 10-1, but the games is memorable thanks to two great goals. Firstly a direct free kick, from distance, scored by Bradley Dack and secondly a wonderful goal in which left back Varela picked up the ball in his own half, dribbled all the way to the goal and smashed it in. We finished as 13-1 winners on aggregate and were then drawn against Danish side Silkeborg for the next qualifying round.

Things started well as we won the home leg 1-0, but the second leg was an extremely nervy affair as after 42 minutes our goalkeeper Lanzillota fractured his wrist, with the score at 0-0. New signing Foderingham had arrived too late to be registered and my other 'keeper Youfeigane had just been sent on loan so an unknown youth goalkeeper (a 'greyed out' player) had to come on. Miracuously he kept a clean sheet for over 50 minutes and Brumado scored in the final seconds to confirm the victory.

In between our European adventures you couldn't ask for much of a tougher run of domestic fixtures. Our bogey side Braga in the cup and league, with Sporting Lisbon in between. Against Braga in the League Cup we had to play two 16 year olds due to the competition rules and unfortunately young centre back Cerquira showed his inexperience, giving away a penalty which turned out to be the match winner. The Sporting result was incredibly frustrating. We were winning 2-1 at 90 minutes. I subbed on centre back Moore to replace a tired colleague and sure up the defence - what does he do? He gives away a penalty in the 98th minute, which is scored in the 99th! The misery didn't end there though, as the game restarts and Sporting attack again scoring in the 101st minute. An unjust result, it felt. 

We did at least pick up one league victory during the month, coming back from 1-0 down to beat Boavista. We ended the month 15th in the table, but with only three games played and two of them against strong opposition, I am not concerned. We have played pretty well and will have easier opponents to come. 

Back to European football; the draw for the final round of qualifying, to get us into the Group Stage, paired us with European heavyweights Chelsea. I was 99% certain that this would be the end of our European experience. Pochettino's squad is brimming with quality and I thought this would be a step too far for little Estrela, especially as we were without our injured first choice goalkeeper (ruled out for a month).

I was therefore really proud of the team when we only narrowly lost 2-1 at Stamford Bridge. Brumado scored his third in three games (he was rested against Braga), as he quickly establishes himself as a key player for us. This result meant we stood a chance going into the return home leg. 

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The biggest result in Estrela's history and one of the best in my managerial career! We beat Chelsea 1-0 to level the tie at 2-2 on aggregate, survived extra time and then beat them in the penalty shoot-out. The match winner was Kovacevic, heading in from a Mansur corner. Kovacevic was the official man of the match for defending well and scoring, but the outstanding performance in my opinion was stand-in goalkeeper Fodderingham who kept a clean sheet and then saved one of Chelsea's penalties.

So, C.F. Estrela da Amadora are in the group stage of a European competition for the first time. Our group look as follows - with the two clashes with Juventus standing out as equally challenging and exciting!

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Speculate to accumulate. We have spent (within our means, but more than in prior years) to improve our squad, overcome European qualifying hurdles and are now receive UEFA prize money for progressing to the group stage:

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Edited by Dong21
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2 hours ago, Dong21 said:

Amadora are in the group stage of a European competition for the first time

Great result against Chelsea. Generally, a tough start but - Braga aside - not at all bad. Dack doing well, too :thup:

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28 minutes ago, warlock said:

Dack doing well, too :thup:

He's been somewhat of a revelation! At the start of the season I thought he'd be mainly an option from the bench but every time he's played he's delivered, so he's become a key player for us.

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September 2023

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Three wins out of three projected us up into fifth place in the Portuguese Liga table. It's fair to say that all three results were hard fought. We didn't always play great but we won, which is what good sides do. Brumado got the winner in the first two games and that was enough for him to be selected as the league's Player of the Month for September. With a 100% win record, I was also chosen as Manager of the Month. I was pleased to see Fortune bag a brace against Vizela as last season he was undropable and will likely be feeling a little hard done by that Brumado has already overtaken him in the pecking order. 

Juventus away was always going to be the hardest group game, and so it proved. We conceded within 30 seconds and it was downhill from there. Mansur twisted his ankle, ruling him out for a month, to add to the bad day at the office.

October 2023

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After getting off to a bad start in our Europa Conference League group, getting a result against Slovan Bratislava was important. Oakley-Boothe stepped up to the big moment and scored the winner in added time, putting three important points on the board.

Only one league game this month. Following in the theme of last month's form, it was close but a win. After a month out injured goalkeeper Lanzillota returned and achieved a clean sheet. The win took us to fourth, only three points off top, but with very few games actually played. 

The Taca de Portugal fixture fourth tier Valadares was supposed to be straightforward, but was not. We played our second string to keep them fit and engaged. It started great as we were 2-0 up after 10 minutes, but then defensive midfielder Tavares got sent off on the 35th minute and we allowed them back into the game. Luckily loanee Kassa put in a man of the match performance and scored the winner. 

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We ended the month with a dominant win against Belarussian outfit Shakhter Soligorsk. That win put us second in the group and in contention to progress to the knockout rounds of the competition. Coming up next in the group was a trip to Shakhter. Hopefully we will get another win, be on nine points and continue our momentum.

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November 2023

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Having a pool of four forwards of similar ability has been working well so far, with none of them yet to become unhappy due to the rotation. I have been keeping in a forward who is clearly on a spell of goalscoring form and rotating the others in when there is a good opportunity. Ahead of an important European tie it was the chance of Ganago to come and he scored a brace. The Arouca win was made easier thanks to one of their midfielders getting sent off around half time.

The win against Shakhter was extremely comfortable. I even took the opportunity to sub on a 16 year old CB and a 15 year old RB for experience. The win took us up to nine points. 

As well as we are doing generally, we do often struggle against the top sides (an exception to that is coming up in this update!). We were not at the races against Benfica. What didn't help is we gave away another penalty which seems to be a bad habit of the defence. The only positive was that striker Karamoko scored for the first time in 10 hours. As you can see, he then went on to score four goals in three - football really is a streaky game! Dack missed a penalty against Olhanense in the Taca de Portugal, but we won to progress to the Quarter Finals.

Next up was Juventus at home. They had beaten us handily in Turin and Nagelsmann had overseen 15 wins in the preceding 20 games before our fixture.

What followed was a brilliant performance by my side. We have pulled off wins against the likes of Benfica and Sporting Lisbon in the past, but they have been smash and grabs. We beat Chelsea recently which was great, but was a nerve wrecking battle. This is my new favourite result as manager of the Tricolores, as it was a deserved win against a massive side. Simply put, we were the better side on the night. The defence were solid, Dack was creative as ever and Karamoko scored the crucial first goal.

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We finish the month in 5th position in the league table and 2nd position in our Europa Conference League group. The shock Juventus win meant we were six points ahead of Slovan Bratislava with only one game to go and therefore we had qualified for the knockout phase, outperforming the expectations set by Evra at the start of the season.

The European adventure continues!

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Off Season Recruits

The month of December began with the news that my boss Evra was rewarding our strong start to the season with an addition of £3.1m to the transfer budget.

This also coincided with a number of agents approaching me about a whole host of free agents who weren't previously interested in speaking to us. Logically, our reputation must have grown a little after first qualifying for the Europa Conference League and then next qualifying for the knockout rounds. I looked through the many options and three caught my eye. Eric Bailly, Dennis Praet and Dele Alli were all swiftly asked to join us on trial. After looking at them in training, I decided Alli wasn't what we needed but that Bailly and Praet would be great additions. 

Signing free agents mid-season and outside of the transfer window has now become an annual tradition at Estrela! 

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As a Manchester United supporter, Eric Bailly is a player that I know well. Although somewhat concerned about his fitness record, his quality is unquestionable. He is most comfortable as a wide centre back, so fits into my tactical plans perfectly and his excellent physicality makes him a big upgrade on what is currently at the club. 

Although he perhaps did not set the world alight at Leicester, I remember Dennis Praet as a fine player at both Anderlecht and Sampdoria. Strong technically, mentally and physically, he looks to me to be a player in his prime. Like Bailly, Praet is an upgrade on my current playing options. Both come in as ready-made starters. They may start to decline when into their 30s, but it seemed a no-brainer to bring them in, especially as we have the budget, to help us push towards our objectives. They are now are our two highest earners, but I have been very sensible with wage budget to date, so this is not an area of concern.

December 2023

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We started the month with a draw against Vitoria, which I was pleased with as Vitoria have been flying this season. 

I decided to be bold and throw Praet and Bailly straight into the starting eleven in an important game against Porto, only days after the pair signed for us. Although neither were man of the match contenders, the both contributed to a big win. Bailly did go off injured leaving us in a 10 vs 10 scenario with 15 minutes to go (Busquets was sent off 7 minutes earlier and we had made all five subs), giving me big worries that he was about to be ruled out for the season on his debut! Luckily, after the game it was confirmed to just be a knock that ruled him out for two days. As you can see below, the stars of the show were the strike partnership of Brumado and Karamoko. We created a lot of chances and the pair were clinical.

As we had already qualified, we played a rotated side against Slovan. Even with a changed side I was surprised to find us 2-0 down within 20 minutes (admittedly one of their goals was a screamer). The team showed character though and pulled it back to 2-2. Dack, Cruz and Varela in particular had great games. In the end we lost due to bad luck, a Slovan shot hit centre-back Moore and deflected in for an own goal. 

We got back on track with a Taca de Portugal win against lower-league Apendorada. One of Fortunes' two goals was simply sublime. He scored again in our final league game of the year, but his strike partner Brumado got the plaudits on this occasion thanks to his brace. I was disappointed in our sloppy defence for conceding two goals - Nacional are rooted to the bottom of the table and therefore we should be doing better.

Brumado was selected as the Liga Portugal Forward of the Month and Player of the Month after scoring four goals in three games.

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That said, I end 2023 in great spirits as we are 2nd in the league table. Benfica are by far the strongest side in the division and then it is very close between the next five teams. Five teams, competing for four European spots. 

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The final standings in our ECL group are as above. Our reward for finishing 2nd is a play-off against LASK of Austria, who finished behind Liverpool and Young Boys in their Europa League group, dropping them into the Conference League. That two legged tie will take place in February.

In other news, it was announced that Bailly, Varela and Capita (on loan, away from the club) had all been called up for January's African Cup of Nations. I'll be honest and admit I hadn't considered this possibility when signing Bailly, hopefully he can stay injury-free and return in good form ready to contribute to the final four months of the season. 

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Lastly, I received a preview of our youth intake for the year. Oddly, my assistant seems to think this is an excellent intake despite it suggesting I have one good centre-back coming through and absolutely nothing else. This is disappointing given the investment in staff during the summer. We also currently only have one prospect of note at the club (Cequiera) and he is also a centre-back. Let's see who turns up in a few months, perhaps there will a be a surprise. 

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"Do... I Love This Game?"

An interesting sub-plot has developed over the last month which challenges the very narrative for which this tale is woven around.

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In early December I received the above notification that Patrice Evra may be considering stepping down from his role as chairman and owner of Estrela.

I would be gutted if he was to depart. Firstly, as it was his real life takeover of Estrela which attracted me to the club and I have really enjoyed the adventure so far. Secondly, he has been a generous owner and collaborative partner, seeking external investment and sharing these funds with me in both transfer budget and infrastructure enhancements.

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Luckily, Patrice was quick to quash (does quashing only happen in football?) the speculation, giving me reassurance that he will stay put.

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However, the story resurfaced only a few weeks later, taking this from a story to a saga. Interestingly this article states he is looking to allow another board member to take his place, but as far as I am aware he is the sole board member. 

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The story was once again rebuffed, this time by the national newspaper O Jogo (ironically, the ones who started the speculation).

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The latest and final update (so far) was once again from Evra himself, who denied that he is looking to leave in the immediate future. Evra is now described internally as enjoying life at the club. Fingers crossed I can hang on to my enigmatic and affable chairman.

January Update

Evra has demonstrated his commitment to the club in a number of ways during January.

The previously agreed youth facilities upgrade concluded and our facilities are now regarded as 'great', having previously been 'average'. I then asked Evra if we could improve our youth recruitment - at first he was reluctant but after a convincing pitch he agreed - our recruitment is now considered 'excellent'. 

Next, I thought I'd push my luck further and ask for a second upgrade to the training facilities in the space of one season. To my surprise, Evra said yes right away and committed a whopping £7.25m to improvements that will conclude in May 2024. We will soon have the set up to rival the big sides in our league! 

Finally, I asked if I could have one more physio at the club, which was approved. I moved promptly to hire Nuno Antunes.

 

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Another busy and eventful month! 

Going into the transfer window I actually intended to make no signings, especially after recruiting Bailly and Praet. In management you have to be reactive though and as such two challenges and two opportunities arose that saw me make four signings in January (one of which won't arrive until the summer). 

The first challenge arose right at the very start of the window. Not long after left back Varela met up with his Cape Verde teammates for AFCON, I received an update stating that he had damaged his cruciate ligaments and would be ruled out for 8 months. This meant I needed a new back-up left back for the rest of the season.

I turned to the loan market and was swift to move for Marseille player Daley Sinkgraven. His best position is as an advanced playmaker but he has all the attributes to be an effective back-up left wing back. Plus his versatility is a bonus, with many games ahead.

Over on the right side of the flank, I have been pretty happy with the contributions of wing backs Mario and Cruz, however I noticed an opportunity had arose that I could not ignore. Rio Ave right wing back Costinha was transfer list and had significant interest from over 10 clubs, including Premier League sides. He is young, Portuguese, talented, and improvement on what I currently have, has potential to grow and weakens a league rival - I had to make a move. I was somewhat doubtful that he would choose us, but a £3.5m deal, that will rise to £4.2m on conditions, was swiftly agreed. Costinha is now the Estrela da Amadora record signing.

To balance the books, somewhat, I sold Mario to Jaiellonia for £750k.

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After these deals, I once again thought there would be no further action in the window. I then received a scout report for Birmingham central midfield George Hall. The report stated that he was currently a three star player (akin to my current CMs, besides Praet who is a level above) but with five star potential. It also noted that his contract expired next summer and he was keen to speak to us about a pre-contract agreement. I looked into this further and quickly saw that Porto and Benfica had already offered him contracts. I thought our chances of beating them to the deal were unlikely, but put forward an offer anyway. To my delight Hall chose us over the Portuguese heavyweights. I'd like to think it is because he can see a clear path to the first team and also will have observed how well fellow Englishmen Dack and Oakley-Boothe have been treated at the club.

During the window I allowed striker Ronaldo to move to B-SAD for £425k (rising to £500k) as he was getting no opportunities. I was comfortable that four strikers would be sufficient for the rest of the campaign. However, as transfer deadline day rolled around I was in a position whereby Karamoko, Fortune and Brumado were all injured. Admittedly these were only injuries scheduled to last three weeks each, but it made me think that we don't want to be light in this area. I took a look at the loan list and to my surprise the PSG forward Hugo Ekitike was available. Presumably due to the vast wealth they have, PSG were happy for us to only pay 50% of his salary, so I added him to our ranks.

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Feratovic, Hevverton and Youfeigane were not getting enough minutes at their loan clubs so I recalled them both. Youfeigane was kept to act as a reserve 'keeper, whereas Feratovic and Hevverton were both loaned out again, this time to Kayserispor. Gong and Luan were loaned out to Vizela and Academica, respectively.

We also had our first staffing transfer as Benfica poached my set pieces coach Nicolas Marsicano. We received £180k in compensation. There were limited options to replace him, but I found and recruited Scotsman Ben McKay.

January 2024

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This was a month of mixed results in the league. Two wins, a draw and three losses means that we slipped down the table and fell outside of the European qualifying places.

The game against Moreirense was extremely frustrating as we hit the post three times, including in the closing moments. I have to take some of the place for the shock Estoril game, although there was also bad luck. We were 2-0 up, had over 65% possession and were playing comfortably, so I decided to take our five best performing players off early in the second half to rest them for Sporting a few days later. They pulled it back to 2-1. The Bramudo went off injured in the 88th minute, leaving us with 10 men. I went to defensive tactics to see the game out, but they scored in the 91st and 94th minutes meaning we lost... To make it worse, we then lost to Sporting so the player resting didn't help. Defeat against Estoril meant we fell to 6th when we could have gone 2nd - football can be a cruel sport. 

Against Sporting, Karamoko went off injured early and Ekitike wasn't yet fit so Dack had to play as a stand-in forward. We dominated the game, but couldn't score a goal. To make things worse goalkeeper Lanzillota fractured his arm in the 89th minute, which would rule him out for the next 6 weeks. 

The one big positive, results-wise, during the month was our victory against Benfica in the Taca de Portugal. Benfica have been faultless in the league, and extremely tough to play against on prior occasions, therefore I was delighted to secure this win. As you can see below, every member of the team played really well, except for Costinha but it was his debut so I will let him off!

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Edited by Dong21
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20 hours ago, Jogo Bonito said:

Good to see you still going strong on your carried over career. Best of luck, certainly in a good position, and hopefully Evra will stay for you.

Thanks @Jogo Bonito and good to see you back. Are you up and running with an FM24 save? 

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Thank you, nice to see some familiar faces around these parts.

I played a few months on the early access with Southampton, then had visitors over from UK. I've not played a single match in the last two weeks but might give it another go soon. I've got some ideas of clubs at various levels in England, and some from around Europe.

I'm a bit concerned about some issues I've heard - mainly player unhappiness, interactions & morale and about lots of high-scoring games. I'm more a lover of tight low-scoring affairs where you have to work hard to convert more than a couple of chances and where you can defend resolutely and keep goals out and clean-sheets. I have no idea if this has been exaggerated or not, but those aspects would be quite disappointing if true. The team I wanted (want) to manage the most this year in England didn't have particularly accurate data and is doing rubbish in real life - both factors didn't really inspire me too much so far.

How are you finding this version and do you think your experiences are similar to those who started new on FM24 instead of carrying a save over? What I saw in the early access was that the ME looked to be quite good, hopefully that is the case.

Sorry to take your thread off topic!

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On 20/11/2023 at 20:55, Jogo Bonito said:

I played a few months on the early access with Southampton, then had visitors over from UK. I've not played a single match in the last two weeks but might give it another go soon. I've got some ideas of clubs at various levels in England, and some from around Europe.

I can certainly see the appeal of managing Southampton - quite a few young, exciting, players to coach and plenty of matches to try different things tactically. I look forward to reading about your adventures on here, when you do find the time and the right club to get going.

On 20/11/2023 at 20:55, Jogo Bonito said:

I'm a bit concerned about some issues I've heard - mainly player unhappiness, interactions & morale and about lots of high-scoring games. I'm more a lover of tight low-scoring affairs where you have to work hard to convert more than a couple of chances and where you can defend resolutely and keep goals out and clean-sheets. I have no idea if this has been exaggerated or not, but those aspects would be quite disappointing if true.

I haven't actually noticed any of these issues in my save. In my January update above you'll see my team has been scoring 2 goals a game on average. As you've alluded, perhaps there is a difference when the save is carried over from FM23 to FM24, but so far so good here. 

On 20/11/2023 at 20:55, Jogo Bonito said:

How are you finding this version and do you think your experiences are similar to those who started new on FM24 instead of carrying a save over? What I saw in the early access was that the ME looked to be quite good, hopefully that is the case.

I've only continued on this Estrela save, I haven't started anything fresh on FM24 to be able to compare and contrast (I struggle to find the time to progress this save let alone anything else, sadly). I have noticed the improvement in the ME and I like what I see. 

On 20/11/2023 at 20:55, Jogo Bonito said:

Sorry to take your thread off topic!

No problem at all! I'm not getting tonnes of engagement on this thread anyway :lol: besides the ever-reliable @warlock 

Apologies for the delay in replying by the way, real life took over. 

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February 2024

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Braga are not having as good a season as last time out, but they are once again a thorn in my side. We suffered our third defeat in a row, losing 3-2 at the Estadio Municipal de Braga. One positive was that Ekitike notched his first goal for Estrela.

Following the loss I held a team meeting in which I called for the team to step up a level. It seemed to have an immediate impact, with a 3-0 win against Boavista up next. This was Bailly's first game back from AFCON, so it was good to get a clean sheet. Due to our lack of fit strikers, we played the last 25 minutes with two central midfielders up front. Braga went from villains to heroes in my eyes, as they beat 5th place Portimonense to close our gap behind them to just two points.

We rounded out the month in the league with two more wins and one loss against lowly Maritimo, who scored their winner in the 91st minute. We do seem to have a bad habit of conceding late, often long-range goals, that I would like to put a stop to. Despite nine points from four games we still remain in 6th place, five points off 5th, with a game in hand. 

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With the Europa Conference League resuming, I was asked to confirm our squad for the knockout rounds. Due to having no players eligible as home grown at the club, I once again could only select a squad of 21 players. We were permitted to add three new players, so Bailly, Praet and Costinha were included. Varela (injured) and Hernando were unregistered to accommodate this. Sadly January arrivals Ekitike and Sinkgraven had to miss out.

We traveled to Austria to face LASK, currently 3rd place in the Austrian Bundesliga. The team played on snow for the first time and thanks to inspired performances by both Fortune and Kassa we pulled off a big win. The return leg in Lisbon was completely unremarkable, and I was delighted with that. A dull 0-0 meant a 3-1 victory and progression to the Round of 16. We were drawn against FC Midtjylland who, at the time of writing, are 4th in the Danish league. 

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Finally, Evra popped up with some more good news. I'm starting to get suspicious that this telecommunications company actually own the club, as they are funneling lots of funds in :lol:

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1 hour ago, Dong21 said:

We do seem to have a bad habit of conceding late, often long-range goals

Seems to be a hallmark of FM24. Remember last year when lots of managers were complaining about the passive AI? SI fixed that :lol:

Looks like you'll need a final push to get above Portimonense and claim another European spot - maybe winning the Conference League will be easier!

Good luck.

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38 minutes ago, warlock said:

Seems to be a hallmark of FM24. Remember last year when lots of managers were complaining about the passive AI? SI fixed that :lol:

Looks like you'll need a final push to get above Portimonense and claim another European spot - maybe winning the Conference League will be easier!

Good luck.

True, I guess we can't have it all!

Thanks and I think you might be right... every time I think we're closing in on Portimonense we slip backwards.

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March 2024

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For the past two months we have been chasing Portimonense, hoping they slip up so that we can overtake them in the race for European football. Our home game against them to start the month was therefore very important. 

It was the perfect game to score six for the first time. Things started poorly as striker Ekitike went off injured with a twisted knee after just 10 minutes, but it turned out to be crucial as his replacement Brumado went on to get a 10/10 match rating after scoring two and setting up two. Dack had a great game, scoring twice, and Praet was sublime and provided three assists. That win closed the gap to two points behind them, with a game in hand.

Such is the rollercoaster that is this season, that of course we followed this up with a league loss against Santa Clara that set us back to five points behind! This was one of those classic frustratingly unjust results - we had 16 shots, they had one, but we lost the game. 

In between these games we played Porto in the first leg of the Taca de Portugal Semi Final. We had more shots, possession and xG so a draw felt disappointing, but a draw away at Porto is not to be sniffed at. 

Truth be told, we played poorly against Midtjylland in the first leg of the Conference League Round of 16. We looked slightly better when our subs came on and were fortuitous that their goalkeeper messed up to gift us the winner. Before the second leg we played Arouca in the league, where 'keeper Lanzillota returned after seven weeks out. He fumbled the ball from a cross to gift them a goal, but we won 4-1. Based off this, I decided to play number two goalkeeper Foderingham in the big European game. This may not have been wise as we conceded three times, but luckily Dack & co. were in great form and we scored one more than them. 6-4 winners on aggregate and through to the Quarter Finals to play Swiss side Lugano. 

Finally, to end the month I was proud we were able to draw away at league leaders Benfica who have been dominant all season. Foderingham played really well this time. However, after the game he twisted his ankle and was ruled out for five weeks. I have never known a season with so many goalkeeper injuries! Lanzillota is now back to being first choice, by default.

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Two interesting things happened at the end of the month, in relation to my strikers. Firstly, I was saddened to find out that Yassin Fortune had no-showed training. After a great season last year, I can understand why he is disappointed not to be first choice, but I was hoping for more professionalism. He accepted his fine and promised me never again. Lets see if he sticks to his word. In more positive news, Palmeiras bid £5.25m for my other forward Brumado, I rejected it and he did not get upset. I thought he'd be banging on my door demanding to leave to such a big club, so this is reassuring that he is invested in the project and the club's stature has grown to that which players are proud to be here. £5.25m would be a great amount to reinvest in the summer, but I have things to achieve this season and I'm very much enjoying managing Brumado.

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After bemoaning how poor the youth intake preview sounded, I was ecstatic to find we had a talented batch of players joining us. Facilities and youth recruitment were improved between the two updates, so perhaps that played a role. Hopefully I can develop some of these players over time. 

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On 27/11/2023 at 15:15, Dong21 said:

I can certainly see the appeal of managing Southampton - quite a few young, exciting, players to coach and plenty of matches to try different things tactically. I look forward to reading about your adventures on here, when you do find the time and the right club to get going.

I haven't actually noticed any of these issues in my save. In my January update above you'll see my team has been scoring 2 goals a game on average. As you've alluded, perhaps there is a difference when the save is carried over from FM23 to FM24, but so far so good here. 

I've only continued on this Estrela save, I haven't started anything fresh on FM24 to be able to compare and contrast (I struggle to find the time to progress this save let alone anything else, sadly). I have noticed the improvement in the ME and I like what I see. 

No problem at all! I'm not getting tonnes of engagement on this thread anyway :lol: besides the ever-reliable @warlock 

Apologies for the delay in replying by the way, real life took over. 

Thanks for your feedback mate, much appreciated.

Quite a battle you're in there with Portimonense but that's the kind of competitive challenge we all like to engage in. Evra seems to be doing a bit of a hokey-cokey. What would you do if he was to exit the club?

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4 hours ago, Jogo Bonito said:

Evra seems to be doing a bit of a hokey-cokey. What would you do if he was to exit the club?

It would ruin the narrative of my story here a little but to be honest I would be minded to continue onward as I'm really enjoying what I am building with Estrela. 

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April 2024

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We began April with a lot to play for. Three points away from 5th in the league, with a game in hand, and in the latter stage of both the Taca de Portugal and the Europa Conference League.

In the league, we started the month with two tough games. First up was 4th placed Vitoria, followed by 3rd place Porto. Key man Danilovic was ruled out of the Vitoria game with a bruised thigh, so I experimented and played centre back Nunes in defensive midfield for the first time. It was a close game and a draw was probably a fair result, although we did have a winner ruled out by VAR due to a marginal offside. Our goal is listed somewhat unfairly as a Silva own goal, as Dack's shot was going in prior to a deflection as far as I could see. The Porto game did not go well at all. We were deservedly beaten and I gave the team the hairdryer treatment after the game. The loss put us six points behind 5th and 7th place Rio Ave were now level on points with us. Things were not looking good!

Despite this, we had a much better time in the Europa Conference League. The Quarter Finals paired us against mid-table Swiss side Lugano and they posed us no threat. We beat them 3-0 away in the first leg and could have scored many more, hitting the post three times. Defender Kovacevic was named man of the match and afterwards he thanked me for keeping the faith with him, as I'd returned him to the team straight after his long-term injury. We did not allow complacency to creep in, in the second leg, as we calmly won 1-0 to secure and aggregate 4-0 victory and a Semi Final fixture against Rapid Wien to come (the other Semi will be Getafe vs Wolfsburg). 

Back in the league and back in form. We beat Nacional thanks to our strike partnership of Brumado and Karamoko, and Porto did us a favour by beating Portimonense closing our gap to them. At the end of the month we beat Chaves who could not handle the pace of our attacks and gave away two clumsy penalties. These were scored by two different players as Dack had been subbed off before the second. We ended the month three points behind Portimonense, the same as at the end of the prior month.

I had a nice surprise in the Taca de Portugal, as I was completely unaware that draws in the Semi Finals would be decided by away goals! We had scored two away at Porto, but went into the second leg playing to win and unaware a low scoring draw would do the job. Despite instructing the team to mark him tightly, Evanilson scored within four minutes. Right back Costinha scored an amazing solo goal to level things up. We drew 1-1 and I was gearing up for extra time, only to be told we were into the Final. It is a Final that nobody would have predicted. Santa Clara beat Vitoria, meaning either Estrela or Santa Clara will win the cup!

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Qualifying for European football is in our hands. We have four games to go (Moreirense, Rio Ave, Gil Vicente and Estoril) and our rivals Portimonense have three (Chaves, Rio Ave and Gil Vicente) and have inferior goal difference. We need to play to the best of our ability and not slip up. 

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May 2024

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First, some brief updates. For the third time this season, central midfielder Oakley-Boothe complained about his lack of playing time. He had started the season as first choice but since has been overtaken by the arrival of Praet and the form of Dack. In a tense confrontation I told him "you need to accept you're now a squad player" and to my relief he said he accepted this. I was relieved as I have an affinity to him as he was one of my first signings. Our second set of training renovations this season concluded and we now have 'excellent' facilities.  I asked Evra to increase our junior coaching budget, he agreed and we now have 'good' youth recruitment. Finally, we hired a new Head of Sports Science, Antonio Paulos

Now to the football and there was a European Semi Final to be contested. Like ourselves, Rapid Wein can be considered surprise members of the final four. We went into the game confident, but the five star performance that followed was more than I expected. As you can see from the image below, there were big performances all over the pitch. Defensive midfielder Danilovic rarely ever scores, but chose today to bag a brace. This dominant display meant that a spot in the Conference League Final was nearly guaranteed. 

Complacency did creep in a little in the second leg and we lost on the night, away in Vienna. Luckily our first leg lead was so extensive, so we won 6-2 on aggregate. Getafe beat Wolfsburg 2-1 on aggregate, setting up a Portugal vs Spain club Final. Bring it on! To celebrate making the Final I swiftly asked the board for a new contract and they rewarded me with a two year extension.

Against Moreirense in the league the value of squad depth was demonstrated when our fringe players Ganago and Sinkgraven got onto the scoresheet. The Gil Vicente match was my 100th game managing Estrela - a lot has happened in just two seasons! This was our game in hand, we won handily and rose up into the European places finally. To my surprise, we moved up to 4th. I had been so fixated with catching Portimonense in 5th that it hadn't occured to me that Vitoria could also be caught. I looked at Vitoria's results and saw that they had drawn with Arouca and then lost to both Benfica and Porto. Their form had plummeted as ours was on the rise.  The only negative from this game was that left back Mansur suffered a thigh strain, ruling him out for five weeks and therefore missing both the Taca de Portugal and Conference League finals. 

Sadly 4th place could not be secured as after winning our game in hand we then faltered and lost our final game of the season. We scored the fastest ever league goal (in just 24 seconds) but went on to suffer a 3-2 loss to Estoril. Luckily Vitoria drew their final game of the season so we finished 5th on goal difference. 

Benfica completed an impressive 'invincible' season. More importantly, Estrela finished a place better than last season, collected 10 more points, scored 20 more goals and a better goal difference by 10. Progress!

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I have left this update on a cliff-hanger by posting it before we play the Taca de Portugal final against Santa Clara and the Europa Conference League final against Getafe. 

Wish us luck! 

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