Apr 092012
 


Howdy folks, and welcome to another update of my Portugal story. I’d like to apologize for my absence over the past week (or so), as it was pretty hectic around the house (“spring cleaning”) and at work. Of course that didn’t stop me from actually playing the game in my downtime, and as a result I’ve gotten pretty far ahead of where we last left off. Since I don’t much care for stringing you guys along over events that have long since occurred, let’s get all caught up.

Let’s get 2013 out of the way first. We continued to display astonishing levels of mediocrity, but started to make a mid-season push for the top (as the teams around us were even more mediocre). We managed to get as close as second place before my lads realized how terrible they were, and we slid down the table for a comfortable 4th place finish on 30 games:

This season was another sign of slow, but steady progress. We managed to secure an all-time best finish (again), and we showed definite signs of improvement over last season. I’m pleased with how we performed, and I was ready to make a push for the next season.

First up, transfers:

All of the outbounds were either asking for too much money, or had under-performed all year (you know, pretty much the only reasons you’d let someone go). The inbounds are all solid looking players, that I’m hoping will help plug some gaps:

Steve Lambert - Right back, who will hopefully shore up a weak position for us.

Edison – Aside from Tomaz, I didn’t have anyone reliable as a centerback.

Dirceu – I already had a decent leftback, but Dirceu was willing to sign for such little money that I couldn’t resist.

Bruno Matias – AMC was a sore spot with us last year, and I’m counting on Matias to help with that.

There was also one internal call-up. The situation on my left winger had become beyond desperate, and with literally nobody even half-way decent willing to sign for anything less than Messi-like wages, I was forced to promote a Mr. Ricardo Oliveira.

Yeah, we’re doomed.

So with the squad set, we played some football. Quite a bit of it infact. I dare say, we played almost a full season’s worth of football. In other words, I completely forgot to take screenshots as we played on, so I’ll fill you in on how the season started:

Terrible. Absolutely, unequivocally terrible. By the end of week 3, we found ourselves sitting dead bottom of the table with a single point to our name. Despite a media prediction of 8th (our best yet), we looked set for a long and very painful season. With so few new pieces in the starting 11 and the same tactic we’ve used for two years, I was utterly baffled (we hadn’t even played teams worth losing to).

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t consider just resigning and walking away. Still, it was only 3 games into a 30 game season, and as the past two years had shown, literally anything can happen in this league. With that mentality, we began our slow march up the table. Fall turned into winter, and winter into spring, and before you could blink, there were 8 games left:

We’d somehow managed to get ourselves back into 4th position. We’d been in a legitimate title race, but after a loss and a draw in our last two games, it was looking like we going to be fighting for the honor of a top 5 finish. With title aspirations on the back burner, we played our next six games:

Yeah, remember how I said we were doomed by that Oliveira kid? Turns out he’s been a revelation as a left winger. He plays well beyond what his attributes suggest he should be capable of (he has developed remarkably though, going from 2 blue stars to 1 yellow star during the course of a single season). The fans seem think he’s a complete jerk, but as long as he scores goals, I couldn’t care less.

Oh, and there was this:

Uh, holy cow, that’s a title race! By some miracle of modern medicine, we’d positioned ourselves equal on points with Pinhalnovense. Unfortunately they had us pinned on head-to-head (the tie-breaker here in Portugal), so we’d need them to drop points if we were to have a prayer. With two games left to play, we were up against Moura (who lived in the lower half of the table):

Meanwhile:

 

Which meant:

 

I was as happy as a polar bear with a bucket on it’s head:

Still, there was one last game to be played before we could truly begin the celebration. We were heavy underdogs (as we had been all season), and were in for a tough match:

I’m not even going to TRY and describe how insane this game was. I fired it up, went to take the dog outside (because I was too nervous to watch), and came back to a 6-2 score at halftime. The second half was a little bit mellower, but the 7-3 final still set both a club and league record. It also meant we’d won the South Division!

Pinhalnovense had won their last game, so we were good to have ended the season in victory. Just to put this into perspective, here is our league progression (compared with Pinhal) over the course of the year:

Unfortunately winning the league isn’t enough in the Portuguese third tier. The champions of the three regional divisions are pitted against each other in a round-robin four game playoff, with only the top two teams being promoted.

We, um, well…didn’t do so well…

Needing a win going into our final game against Gondomar, we laid a MASSIVE egg at home. The real salt in the wound? I replayed that game 6 times, and we literally won every. single. time.

The final table looked like this:

It was an absolutely heartbreaking way to end such an incredible season. Unable to take care of business at home during the playoffs ensures a 4th straight year in the South Division. The board are thrilled with the season, as are the fans, but I can’t help but be disappointed. I thought we were good enough to go up, and frankly, we NEEDED to go up this year.

Why? Well…take a look at our finances:

And that was from April, so they’re actually a little bit worse now. The two small upticks you see in the graph are from minor board cash injections, but there is no way around the fact that we’re hemorrhaging money. We’re right at the cap of our wage budget, and I won’t have the cash to resign several key players this off season. I suspect we’re in for a bit of a rebuilding year ahead.

Ah well, we forge ahead. Thanks for reading all!






  28 Responses to “A Journey in Portugal: Catching up (2013 & 2014)”

  1. Hey Stromson,

    You were so close and although your finances are heading downwards don’t let it defeat you. I genuinely think that your teams just needs that little bit extra consistency and you’ll do well next season. It sucks that you need to go up through play-offs though, they’ve always been really difficult to win on FM…

    • Thanks Dan. I think I’m falling into the same trap as a certain “American Football” coach. I’m convinced we’re always just one piece away from promotion without actually stepping back and looking at the bigger picture. >.<

  2. Unlucky Jon, that was such an incredible fight to make top spot and I can only imagine how pissed you must have been come the three final games against teams from other leagues. Well, that is what makes FM so infuriating and addictive at the same time. You certainly have the talent to go up next season so I hope you do and can get the finances back on track.

    • Yeah, I had to step back and take a break for a few days after that complete disaster of a playoff run. Oh well, back to the grind again!

  3. That was a good season Stromo, you turned it round fantastically well after the difficult start, and in the end you were unlucky not to win the regional playoffs. Hopefully next year will see you get promoted, good luck!

    • Thanks Laxey, I’m really hoping we’re promoted next year as well. I’m growing a little weary of this league.

  4. I complely forgot about the play-offs that you warned us about, and that was a bitter way to end what was a great turnaround of the season. Despite not getting promoted, the progression of the club is obvious; the players you have signed this season look much better than those of old (attribute-wise), and that Olivera kid well … he’s got a story, he should write an biography. Overall a season to be proud, big steps were made but seriously Stromo, walking out with the dog on the final day of the season. Hang you head in shame sir, in shame! :)

  5. I complely forgot about the play-offs that you warned us about, and that was a bitter way to end what was a great turnaround of the season. Despite not getting promoted, the progression of the club is obvious; the players you have signed this season look much better than those of old (attribute-wise), and that Olivera kid well … he’s got a story, he should write an biography. Overall a season to be proud, big steps were made but seriously Stromo, walking out with the dog on the final day of the season. Hang your head in shame sir, in shame! :)

    • I’m sorry about this I seriously don’t know why this keeps happening … maybe I’m pressing the “submit comment” button too much. Sorry, and please ignore this one.

      • I think I’ll ignore the other one instead. ;-)

        I know, I know, but I had to take the dog out. For one, she would’ve relieved herself on the floor if I hadn’t, and more importantly because I was way too chicken to actually sit there and watch the first half. *shame*

  6. Extremely Unlucky Stromson , surely you ‘ll do it next season Your story is one of the most exciting stories for sure .

  7. Very unlucky with how the play-offs went. Hopefully you don’t have play-off curse and can put things right next season.

    • Oh boy, if I have a playoff curse, this could end up being a very, very long story. I’ll never get out of the third tier!

  8. Well as far as i know Liga Orangina does not give a lot of money either so anyway you have something to build on next season (especially with your new left winger Oliveira), some bad form in the playoffs, hopefully next season you can go up Jon

    Oh yeah, you might want to grab a large bunch of South Americans on trial, I remembered getting a few great players who did not ask for much in wages and they made the difference in Liga Orangina and 2nd Division

    • Yeah, that’s not terrible advice about the South Americans. I’ve managed to find a few gems there, but all of them were on the downward slope of their careers. I’ll give it another go this offseason, and maybe I’ll get lucky.

  9. I totally forgot about the playoffs bit, that sucks so much. Your hard work was useless in the end. But at least now you have managed to come first, and next time hopefully you can go one step further and win the playoffs.

    • I like to think it wasn’t completely useless (we at least know we’re capable of getting that far now), but I agree, it’s incredibly frustrating to come up short at the final hurdle.

  10. Damn, you really needed and really deserved that promotion! That was a heartbreak indeed but you know how it is, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger :) Promotion next season, fingers crossed!

  11. Ahh, so close there! But it was good effort and I’m sure you’ll get promotion next season.

  12. This seems all too familiar!

    I know the feeling your going through happens all the time to me! But at least you can take a lot of positives despite some really bad playoff results.

    Finances are a worry, but I have seen a lot worse (like my time at FCAK last year!) its always going to be really difficult to turn a profit in the league your in.

    Anyways am really enjoying this story! So I wish you the best of luck for next season! :)

  13. I love this story! Such a nice change from all the winning in the other stories ;-) don’t worry though I’m not calling you a bad manager, managing absolute minnows in a major country is so difficult through experience. Keep going.

    • Haha, thanks John, no offense taken. I’m glad you’re enjoying this, because we certainly aren’t going anywhere fast!

  14. Hi Stromson!

    Your team had a good season , even if they were unlucky in the playoff. I think next year Dezembro can promote. Good luck for that!

  15. Nice read and interesting Story!

    Where can I find the first posts of it?

    Cheers

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