What a Summer. Aside from destroying the confidence of an imaginary ex-Everton flop I have actually also been swamped with real footballing matters.
I’ll start by telling you that one of the first things I did when I was appointed Angrense Manager was put out an advert for a Manager for our under 19’s side, as we didn’t have one. And do you know how many applications have been sent to me in the last 6ish months? Zero. Goose egg. Nenhum. So this Summer, after reaching the sad conclusion that our 36 year old captain Gonçalo Valadão’s playing days are coming to an end, I offered him the job. He accepted happily and is now Player/Under 19’s Manager. His attributes are… not good, but I’m hoping that he’ll increase in competence as we go.
At the end of June, Miguel Borba sprung quite a pleasant surprise on me: A new affiliation with Italian Serie B side Vicenza. In the future we may have the opportunity to sign a couple of young Italian stars on loan, which is obviously an exciting prospect.
Experienced goalkeeper David Dinis retired, and left the club along with some other players who had no place in my squad for the new season. Marco Aurélio, João Borges and Ivanildo Reis were the only ones who played any part in the first team for me, apart from Jordanes Medeiros, who completed his free transfer to Waasland-Beveren.
We’ve had our fair share of transfer sagas this Summer too. Cristiano Magina, for example, asked me to sell him for £18,000 in June after an insulting £12k bid from Romanian Top Tier side FC Vitorul. I refused and slapped a £100k price tag on his head. Admittedly this would be a ridiculous fee for a club of our stature to receive, but I have no intention of selling such a fantastic goalscorer. When they heard the news, the Angrense players grabbed their pitchforks and marched to my office to demand that I release him. Confused and annoyed, I simply said to them: “But he was the division’s 2nd top scorer last season. Do you not think we’d be weaker without him?” To which they all just sort of nodded and shuffled back out of the room. Magina was also subject to bids from the Portuguese Premier League, the Cypriot top tier and the Eredivisie, but eventually, and much to my relief, he decided to stay.
Another player to throw a tantrum was 19 year old forward Silveira, who I had been looking forward to working with after he spent last season out on loan. He was upset that I rejected a… and I’m not exaggerating… £0 bid from CS U Craiova, also in the Romanian top tier. He spat his dummy out and I sent him to train with the kids and trialists (of which there have been around 100 over the course of the break). Craiova eventually came in with a £5k bid, rising to £10k with add ons, plus a friendly match. I negotiated them up a further £5k and got rid for a club record fee. They instantly cancelled the friendly. Twats.
I’ve laughed off a plethora of bids for our players. A few thousand for Seidi, Benjamim, Kevin, Oliveira, Miranda and Santos isn’t really worth my time. I’ve been bombarded all Summer with insultingly low-ball bids for top prospects Batista, Antunes and Silva. None of these bids topped £1k until August when comparatively massive money started to be put on the table. I was never going to consider £10k, which was the most we were offered for Renato Silva, for reasons that I’ll explain in a moment, but I really had to to think about Dinamo Bucharesti’s Batista bid. It could have reached upwards of £35k, plus 50% of the next sale. I rejected it though as we don’t particularly need to sell and I’d like to give him more football this year. Greek Super League side PAOK and Ligue 1 outfit FC Nantes spent all Summer bidding for Antunes but never strayed North of £2k.
But enough about that, I’ve got 6 new players to show you. Last season I was impressed with our attacking play but I wasn’t always so convinced about the defensive side of our game, so that’s where the reinforcements have come in so far.
Last season we had 4 Goalkeepers. 3 of them were pretty awful so I let their contracts expire and that left us requiring backup. 34 year old Serginho will not only provide able backup but he may even have the ability and experience to push Azevedo out of the side.
He was released by Santa Clara in the Summer after having a decent season for them, conceding 26 goals in 19 games in the LigaPro, which is the Portuguese 2nd tier and the division above us.
Ivan Santos was only OK last year and I winced every time the ball went anywhere near Oliveira, so I’ve brought in 2 new centre backs. The first of these is Olivier Kingue. He likes to just have “Olivier” on the back of his shirt, so that’s what I’ll call him.
He’s a big, tough and fairly quick Cameroonian. His intelligence could do with development but he’s 21 years old and so has plenty of time to learn. His contract had expired with Cameroonian side Nkufo Academy so we picked him up for free. If you’re wondering how we spotted a player in such an obscure league, he gave a good account of himself on loan last season at SC Olhanense in the LigaPro, so I think we’ve grabbed ourselves a bargain.
The 2nd centre back we signed was Lassina Touré from Burkina Faso:
His reach isn’t as high as Kingue’s but he’s better developed both technically and mentally. We signed him on a free as well, as his contract with our rivals from last season Sporting Ideal expired at the end of the season.
I said last year that this team needs more dynamic wing backs, especially on the left hand side. As we released Reis on a free and I don’t think Valadão has much left in the tank, I’ve signed us 2 new left backs. The first is Mauro Aires:
Another young player at 21 years old, I paid £240 to prise him away from our fierce rivals (Who we’ve sadly not actually played yet under my regime) Praiense. He’s ok defensively and not awful going forward, but his real strength is his pace. He is very very quick and may be able to add width with forward runs down the left.
The 2nd left back I brought in is Xéxé:
You might remember that I mentioned my interest in him when we played Sporting Ideal last season. My January target Chileno wasn’t available this Summer so I brought Xéxé in for £240 to rival but probably understudy Aires. He’s also 21 and he’s fairly quick so he’ll be a decent option.
And finally I picked up a backup right back, Luciano Serpa:
He’s another player we picked up on a free and just like Aires we’ve picked him up from rivals Praiense. He’s very well rounded: he can defend, attack, he’s quick enough and he’s got a good head on his shoulders. I’ll have no problem giving him a chance in the side and he may even rival Miranda for a place, but he’s missed most of pre-season through injury and won’t be ready for our first match.
In terms of our pre-season, things have gone very very well. The highlight of our friendly matches was undoubtably our 2-0 win against Sporting Lisbon, the lowlight was our only loss, which came against lower league side Prainha. It was our 2nd string that played that match in fairness but we still should’ve won comfortably. Our last friendly was a ridiculous but entertaining 6-5 win over Tenerife.
The player that’s impressed me most through pre-season might surprise you: 16 year old striker Renato Silva has been on fire. He started pre-season playing for the under 19’s but after a couple of matches in which he decimated the opposition defence I promoted him to play with the first team. He’s scored 7 in 7 games, including 3 as a sub, and at one point he even made me give serious consideration to the possibility of giving in and letting Magina go. But young players often lack consistency, so he will most likely make his appearances from the bench this year. Nevertheless his form is certainly encouraging and I’m sure that he’ll make his first team bow sooner rather than later.
Who’s impressed me the least? Gonçalo Valadão, I’m afraid to say. I’ve said before that I wish he had 10 years left in him but he just doesn’t. I don’t even think he’s got 1. When he’s appeared in these friendlies he’s often been the worst player on our side and I just can’t see him getting a game this year, especially as I’ve heavily bolstered the full back positions.
I will just give a couple of mentions as well to players that have impressed me: New signings Touré and Olivier have looked solid in defence, Antunes has looked so skilful and composed that I think he’ll begin the season as our starting number 10 despite his tender years (Although he will miss the first game through injury), and Hélder Arruda has taken to his new role of backup attacking midfielder very well. He’s been arriving into the opposition area late and bagging a fair amount of goals despite not being fully competent in the position.
And one more player that you should be aware of is Bruce Ávila. Like Silveira, he spent last season on loan at a lower league club, but unlike Silveira, he’s come back for pre-season, kept his head down, worked hard and impressed me. He’s an out and out left winger which is a good option to have. Last season we only played Kevin, Amonike and Aurélio on the left and they all liked to cut in on their right foot. He’s also 20 years old and a very rounded young footballer.
I should probably mention that I did consider my future this Summer. I did consider looking for pastures new, a new club in some wacky new league, but I want to see what I can do with this Angrense side. There’s potential here. I want to see if I can finally do what Eduardo couldn’t, and take Os Heróis up.
I think partially I want my next club to come to me. I want to have impressed enough to be headhunted. Plus, I’d rather not send out 15 copies of my CV and annoy Miguel Borba, because frankly I don’t want to end up back in the job centre.
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