First of all, let me apologise to you all for the fact that this post has even had to be made. I was an idiot and accidentally deleted my old blog while messing about on the WordPress app. It was an act of confusion and I don’t intend on making that mistake again. I’ve lost a fair bit of content so I hope everybody will forgive me in recapping the past progress in a much more blunt and concise manner, for those who haven’t seen it.
Now the aim of this save was to take over Portuguese side SL Benfica and turn them into the powerhouse they were back in the Eusebio era. It has been 54 years since Benfica last won a European trophy and my aim was to break the curse while dominating domestically and promoting the finest youth players in the lands.
Season One Recap
Now into the meat and bones of the blog. The first season in charge of Benfica was going to be a tough one, I switched off the Summer transfer window to give myself a better chance of utilising the players at my disposal. I had already outlined some weaknesses in the attacking and central defensive areas and was keen to see how we would get on without being able to suitably address these issues.
The first half of the season we struggled tremendously. We were only sitting in third place and were lacking the goals in the important half of the pitch. Raul Jimenez, Kostas Mitroglou and Jonas simply weren’t consistent enough to fire us into the title race. The worry at the other end of the pitch was that we only had three central defenders, one of which was a 34 year old veteran approaching the latter years of his career. Competing in 4 competitions took its toll on the squad and the inability to rotate my defence was causing me some problems.
Let’s start with the outgoing players.
I highlighted before that Mitroglou and Jimenez didn’t fit my style of play and so they both moved on for fees of €7m and €6m respectively, a fair price for the lack of quality they possessed throughout the season so far. Mehdi Carcela and Lisandro López had both thrown their toys out of the pram throughout the 2015-16 campaign and eventually it began to take its toll on the squad. They were both removed from the team and sacrificed for the sake of squad morale. Ruben Amorim and Pele simply left in search of first team Football.
But who did we sign to replace them? I hear you asking, well…
Julian Weigl; The young German prodigy joins us from Borussia Dortmund for a reasonable fee of €10.5m following his transfer listing in Germany. He’s a suitable fit for the deep-lying playmaker role and will work wonders alongside the rest of our squad.
José Angulo and Florin Andone join as our new attacking force, a combined €11.5m see’s us replace both of our outgoing strikers with what I consider to be players of higher quality. It’ll be interesting to see how they get on in the Portuguese league.
Emiliano Velázquez and Hugo Basto have been brought in to reinforce our central defensive positions. Originally we only had three CB’s and with López leaving, we were down to 2. The ability to rotate our defenders will work better for us in the long run.
Finally, Milosevic, Plavsic and Arellano come in as young talent with a future ahead of them. They will all either be sent out on loan or kept in the B team as I look to develop them for the future.
At the start of the season, we were predicted to finish 2nd in the league behind FC Porto, which funny enough is exactly how it finished. We battled as hard as we could but lacked the fire-power that Porto possessed, and ultimately pipped fierce rivals Sporting to second place on the last day of the season.
I’m happy with the performance because I know we can do much better. A bit more belief in the attacking third and I know we’ll be capable of winning the league.
UEFA Champions League
As for the biggest trophy in Europe, our board had set the expectation of reaching the group stage, something that was guaranteed to be met as soon as I arrived in Lisbon, but that wasn’t enough for me, I wanted us to prove our worth on the big stage.
Having progressed past a group containing Sevilla, Sparta Praha and Bayer Leverkusen we battled our way past Monaco in an exhilarating 6-4 tie before falling victim to Real Madrid, an excellent journey and one that could be looked back on with happiness.
As for the rest of the season, we managed to pick up two domestic trophies in the Taca da Liga and the Supertaca. An excellent season in terms of silverware.
The Supertaca came at the expense of Braga in which we easily battled our way to a 2-0 victory on the day with goals from Jardel and Luka Jovic, it was a lovely way to start the season, my first in charge of Benfica.
On the reverse side of things, we also finished the season strongly with a 5-0 victory over Arouca to claim the Portuguese League Cup. Goals from Salvio, Andone, Jonas, Jose Angulo and an own goal led us to glory as we lifted our second piece of silverware for the season.
Next season would give us the chance to strengthen our side as we look to compete for the league title. We know we’ll be right up against it during the second season and critics will be expecting more than a single trophy, we need to be winning everything.