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Season 2: onward & upward!

We are mid-way through a strange second season in Madeira, punctuated by a long break for the Qatar world cup and insane levels of fixture congestion. Let’s see how we are getting on –

The first set of facilities improvement has been completed, and the Board has already sanctioned further work on both training & youth facilities. Some more multi-million dollar contracts for our Colombian partners!

In even better news than that, we also completed the expansion of the stadium. It’s still only 13,250 seats though, so at some stage we will surely need to look at building a new one.

The transfer window was eventually quite a busy one.

Primarily because EPL side Reading came in with a deadline day bid for probably our best player Jorge Correa, which was a bid I couldn’t turn down. As a result, this also became the club record fee. More money to send to Colombia!

Looking at some of the key transfers in:

Jordy Alcivar is our first signing from Ecuador, after the recent memo about expansion of the business operations there. We were looking at Moises Caicedo (linked with Man Utd IRL) but he wanted too much money and actually moved to Arsenal. However his compatriot Alcivar also looks like a good box to box midfielder.

Bryan Gil – we sort of broke our unwritten transfer “rule” for this signing as he is Spanish, but it was a move I couldn’t resist. Also having two Bryan Gils in the same team playing together sounded fun – I can just imagine the chants. He’s been on absolute fire as well. He has a release clause so I don’t expect him to be with us for long.

Edwuin Cetre – finally a Colombian! Edwuin was a deadline day loan signing (with an option to buy) in order to replace Correa on the right wing. He had actually been scouted and a bid placed when we first took over at the club, but had chosen to go to Napoli then.

Jimmy Barrios – the first new-gen of the save is here! Jimmy was found on account of being 3rd top scorer in the Colombian league, and promptly signed up. He only arrived in Jan though, and seems quite injury prone so far.

So how have we actually done on the pitch? Pretty well, so far!

The Champions League defeat to Salzburg was more than a little annoying, especially after we beat them away in the first leg. At home though Koita absolutely ran rings around us (before promptly moving to Liverpool a week later).

We dropped into the Europa league and were rewarded with a bloody hard group featuring Everton, Shakhtar and Standard Liege. We were actually excellent at home against both Everton & Shakhtar but somehow conspired to only pick a point from those two games. As a result we eventually finished 3rd in the group, and completed our journey from the Champions to the Conference league in the space of 3 months (LOL).

In better news we are through to the final of the Portuguese Cup where we will play Boavista, so I am hopeful for some silverware this season!

The league table as we enter February 2023 is a strange one –

Thanks to the world cup and all our domestic cup & European fixtures, we have an insane 7 (!!) games in hand on some teams in the league, and 4 games in hand on table topping Porto. Technically if we win all 4 we would be top, but that’s a big if of course.

It’s basically 2 games every week from now till the end of the season, with one week I believe even having 3 games. Going to be a big ask of the squad, but let’s see how we get on.

It’s been interesting to manage fitness & training which I don’t think I have done much of in FM before – manually resting players and nursing them back to fitness to manage the crazy congestion of games we have already had since the WC ended.

That is it from Madeira for now, do stay tuned for the next update at the end of season 2.

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