It’s been a while since my last update on this save. The Champions League victory over Juventus was utterly outstanding and it’s taken a while for it to sink in. We’re Champions of Europe after only 4 seasons! With that being said, let’s get back into the swing of things!
So it may come as a surprise to some and it may not to others but I’ve decided that this season (2019/20) will be my last in charge of the Lisbon side as I want to venture out and manage one more club before the release of Football Manager 2017. I will however be keeping a copy of the save at Benfica and occasionally may post updates over on Twitter from time to time.
So, how have the first few months of this season gone for us so far?
Heading into the pre-season I knew I didn’t want to go around splashing mass amounts of money on youngsters who I wouldn’t get the chance to develop, but at the same time I want to leave a club I have developed a lasting passion for in a good position for the future.
The players I’ve purchased here weren’t my finest decisions in some regard, but I wanted to at least bolster each position in the youth ranks to try and add some depth and I feel that’s something I’ve been able to do. Some of them have better potential than others but you can’t read into that alone, after all we’ve seen surprise packages in the past!
Moving into the signings for the first team, I’ve managed to strengthen the central midfielders with the additions of Bruninho (€9.75m) from Flamengo and Sergi Samper on a free transfers. Bruninho has plenty of potential in the long-term but also possesses great attributes that make him capable back-up to Casquete in the attacking central areas while Samper can provide a good rotation option for the likes of Renato Sanches and Alena. No huge overspends, I’m happy with the business we carried out.
In terms of outgoing players, we let go of a couple of players who have been excellent for us in the past few seasons.
Portuguese star Pizzi has joined Manchester City for a whopping €35m; a player approaching his thirties it seemed like the deal was too good to turn down although I do applaud him for all he did for us over the years. Noguera moves to Germany for a large fee of €24.5m, just 500k short of his release clause with the Argentinian demanding a move in order to play more first team minutes, he along with Joao Nunes (Newcastle) and Leo Pele (Torino) are the outgoing defenders in this years window. Finally, Pedro Rodrigues, a player who once looked to have plenty of potential has moved to Aston Villa for €14m, with a bolstered midfield his chances were always going to be limited, something that Aston Villa took advantage of.
Nothing new in pre-season as we effectively rolled over all of our opponents, scoring 21 goals in our 7 non-competitive matches while not conceding a single goal. Nothing noteworthy to talk about as this was just a chance for our stars to gain fitness and match sharpness.
We did however take part in two super-cups prior to the start of the league campaign, losing the domestic cup against Porto before beating Europa League winners Real Madrid two days later to lift the European Super-Cup. The fixture schdule wasn’t very kind on us as we had to field a second string team againsrt Porto for which we were expectedly punished, but the strong side came out on top against Real Madrid in a fantastic victory as we lifted yet another European trophy.
In all seriousness we’ve become too strong of a side. Porto and Sporting have hardly bolstered their squads and with the lack of investment in the league we’ve just started to run away with things. Only one goal conceded in our opening 14 matches which to me is just incredible, but also underlines just how good we are for this league. This is part of the reason I’ve decided to call it quits in Portugal to try my arm in a more competitive Nation.
The run of results, as expected, leaves us once again at the top of the table approaching 2020 meaning we’ve now been in this position for the last 4 years, incredible stuff really following that disappointing first year at the Club. While we’re not sitting too far ahead of Porto at this moment, I would expect that the gap will only grow or that Porto will fail to catch up to us. We don’t look like dropping points this year, as well as our chance to possibly extend it to 9 points after our games in hand.
UEFA Champions League
The Champions League has once again been our realm of inconsistency in the group stage. A massive 8-0 win against Spartak Moscow was overshadowed by the 1-0 defeat in Poland although Atlético also shared a similar blip meaning we pipped them to the 1st placed spot in our group, which saw us drawn against Bayer Leverkusen in the 1st knockout round.
Nothing too exciting to go over in terms of the domestic Cups. The Taca de Portugal see’s us drawn against Trofense in the 5th round while we face Viseu, Portimonense and Belenenses in the Taca da Liga group phase.
Club World Cup
Following our unexpected Champions League victory we were drawn into the Club World Cup where we would have the opportunity to play some of the best sides from around the World from their respective continents. We ended up playing two ‘South’ American sides in Monterrey and affiliate club, Boca Juniors.
We ended up taking the spoils, a 2-0 win against Monterrey saw us come up against Boca in the Final who we once again defeated with a 2-0 scoreline. A superb atmosphere in Tunisia and my first ever CWC victory in the history of Football Manager, as I usually resign after winning the UCL. Delighted!
End of Year Awards
Lionel Messi once again picked up the ballon d’Or despite the media frenzy surrounding PSG midfielder Isco as the potential winner. Meanwhile Joao Filipe claimed the European Golden Boy award making him our second ever player to win the award behind Goncalo Guedes.
Elsewhere we finally had a handful of our players make the Team of the Year with Jorge, Semedo and Guedes all making the starting XI. No other players were selected in the team for us, not even on the substitutes.
So we’ve now arrived at the start of January 2020. A few transfer plans are in the works and I’m hoping we can continue the great start to the season. I’d love to round off my Benfica career in real style. While I’m unsure of the specific club I’d like to move to, I have a few in mind and with Euro 2020 coming up soon there will be an abundance of managerial changes around the continent.
Thanks for reading!