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The Red Bull Journey – “Football isn’t my sport, but people need something to adore”

Braganca Paulista is a quiet place, famous for its sausages and, well, just the sausages really. An exciting Saturday afternoon out might involve strolling around the lake in town observing the capybaras, which, if you’re not familiar with capybaras, are sort of docile, pitbull-sized, semi-aquatic hamsters.

Like most things Red Bull has done in sport, none of this happened by accident.

Need to Catch Up?

Read the previous Red Bull Journey post

All Aboard April

April 2022 has seen the start of the Campeonato Brasileiro Assaí Série A and the continuation of the group stage of the Copa CONMEBOL Sudamericana.

The first game of the Copa CONMEBOL Sudamericana saw Peruvian team, Club Sporting Cristal S.A. make the trip to the Estádio Nabi Abi Chedid. Was the trip worth it for the 44 fans that made the journey from Peru to Brazil? Not really the game ended in a simple one-all draw.

In the next group stage fixture, Red Bull Bragantino went travelling to the Julio Humberto Grondona, ‘El Viaducto’ stadium in Argentina to play Arsenal Fútbol Club de Sarandí. I’d like to thank the seven fans that followed the team, I’d like to think that they inspired the one-goal victory thanks to Lucas Evangelista’s late 83rd-minute goal.

The final group stage Copa CONMEBOL Sudamericana fixture in April saw a home game against Paraguian side Club Nacional FC. This fixture broke the record (that I have seen) for the least amount of away fans with Club Nacional FC only having a total of two fans attend the game which unfortunately for them, but fortunate for Red Bull Bragantino ended in a 1-0 win due to Morato’s 81st-minute winner.

We ended April with two Campeonato Brasileiro Assaí Série A fixtures including a thrashing of Esporte Clube Juventude and a trip to the Estádio Antônio Accioly to play Atlético Clube Goianiense

As we move into May 2022, we move the focus towards the final group stage fixtures in the Copa CONMEBOL Sudamericana and the continuation of the Campeonato Brasileiro Assaí Série A

Marching Into May

Earlier on in my managerial career at Red Bull Bragantino, striker Ytalo suffered cruciate ligament damage and was due to be out for between five to eight months. Before his injury, Ytalo has scored nine goals in eight appearances, including four assistant and five Player of the Match performances with an average rating of 8.30. I was looking forward to having Ytalo return to playing despite his age, I was always going to give him a chance due to his impressive form.

Ytalo, however, seemed to have other ideas. Early in May, Ytalo announced that he was considering retirement due to the injury. I did ask him to reconsider but after a few days, he confirmed that his decision was final and that he would retire on the 25th May 2022. As Ytalo’s retirement is due to injury an insurance payout of £142,000 was given to Red Bull Bragantino for £85,620 of which was added to the club’s transfer budget.

After numerous requests, the club has finally agreed for me to do my National C Licence at a cost of £540.00

To start May, we took a trip to Paraguay to play Club Nacional FC. What was fascinating about this game what the pure lack of fans at the 7,000 capacity Arsenio Erico there were only 365 fans. Alas, for Club Nacional FC fans seeing them lose 2-0 saved them disappointment but the atmosphere for a Copa CONMEBOL Sudamericana must have been eerie.

The next Copa CONMEBOL Sudamericana group fixture saw a five-goal thriller. The pure chaos in the second half with César Araújo sent off early in the 53rd minute. From the 78th minute until the end of the game there were three goals, the first from Red Bull Bragantino’s Thonny Anderson then the response from Nicolás Miracco who added his second goal to make it 2-2 only for Jan Hurtado to score in the 90th minute ensuring the victory for Red Bull Bragantino.

The final group stage fixture in the Copa CONMEBOL Sudamericana against Club Sporting Cristal S.A. again, not many Red Bull Bragantino fans took the trip to Peru. The game ended in a 2-2 draw which ended Red Bull Bragantino’s winless streak in the competition.

So far, fixtures in the Campeonato Brasileiro Assaí Série A has gone very well. The first Série A fixture in May saw Esporte Clube Bahia take a trip to the Estádio Nabi Abi Chedid in a game that continued the winning run for Red Bull Bragantino.

The next fixture saw my first game of management at Brazil’s famous Maracanã stadium in a game against Fluminense Football Club. In a hard-fought game, it was centreback Léo Ortiz that secured the victory.

We continued our good form against Fortaleza Esporte Clube with a 2-1 victory. However, we lose Helinhofor three game due to being sent off in the 88th minute.

The final two Campeonato Brasileiro Assaí Série A fixture also ended with wins for Red Bull Bragantino. We played São Paulo Futebol Clube and Clube Atlético Mineiro.

In the final bit of news before looking at the fixture for May we have the draw for the second round of the Copa CONMEBOL Sudamericana in which we’ll be playing Peruvian side Club Sport Huancayo

Juggling Justifications in June & July

With the form that Léo Ortiz has been showing so far this season, he knocked on my office door to discuss the potential of a new and improved contract. Now usually, players that approach me to ask for a new contract in the middle of the football season usually get refused as I like to save contract negotiations until the end of the season.

This is how I imagine Léo Ortiz to be knocking on my door knowing that his form is going to be his trump card.

After some negotiations, a new contract for Léo Ortiz was agreed to follow the contract rules for Brazil with a release clause for both foreign and domestic clubs. Léo Ortiz moves from a squad player to a star player on £10,000 per week in a contract a runs until December 2025.

There weren’t many fixtures in June with only the Copa Intelbras do Brasil third round, two Campeonato Brasileiro Assaí Série A games and the first leg of the second round of the Copa CONMEBOL Sudamericana.

The third round of the Copa Intelbras do Brasil saw an away fixture against Botafogo Futebol Clube at the Santa Cruz stadium. Following this fixture we played Clube Athlético Paranaense in front of a massive 20,000+ crowd at the Arena da Baixada with our strong 35 travelling fans we stole the show and left the 20,000+ Clube Athlético Paranaense red-faced.

The first leg of the Copa CONMEBOL Sudamericana against Club Sport Huancayo ended with the advantage for the second leg being handed to Red Bull Bragantino following a 2-0 away from home, so we also have two away goals!

July ended up being rather busy. After I had spent a lot of time building a strong backroom team, the current team was about to be disturbed with other Brazilian teams wanting them as their manager. First off, former Reserves Manager, Vinicius Munhoz left to become manager of Campeonato Brasileiro Série B team, Clube de Regatas Brasil. To replace Munhoz, Ricardo Colbachini was brought in whom I feel is a very good replacement.

U20s Manager, Erick Martins was the next person to be targeted by Campeonato Brasileiro Assaí Série A team, Esporte Clube Juventude. Martins, made his decision very quickly to take the managerial role. His replacement, Jorge Martínez joined as the new U20s manager soon after.

Even with how successful we have been throughout the season thus far. Assistant Manager, Claudio Maldonado just wasn’t doing enough for me so I decided to release him from his contract and look for a new Assistant Manager. Now, it may look from his replacement that I purposely targeted someone from Esporte Clube Juventude. Eduardo Barros is now the Assistant Manager for Red Bull Bragantino who I hope will contribute to the successful start that has been made since I have become Red Bull Bragantino.

As with all new managers on Football Manager, I had only been given a one-year contract. Come July, with the board being very impressed with team performances they offer me a new contract that now runs until December 2024.

In terms of how we got on fixture wise in July (yes, I am feeling lazy in this update). We still remain undefeated in the Campeonato Brasileiro Assaí Série A with a draw against Sport Club Internacional at the start of the month and another draw against Ceará Sporting Club. In between the draws, we won against Cuiabá Esporte Clube, Sport Club do Recife, Associação Chapecoense de Futebol and Clube de Regatas do Flamengo. The second round, second leg fixture in the Copa CONMEBOL Sudamericana against Club Sport Huancayo also ended in the draw but following the 2-0 win in the first leg, the aggregate score finished 3-1 to Red Bull Bragantino. The fourth round of the Copa Intelbras do Brasil at the Vila Belmiro against Santos Futebol Clube went all the way to a penalty shootout after ending 1-1

With the foreign transfer opening in August, we have deals agreed to bring left-back Luan Cândido back on loan from RasenBallsport Leipzig. We’ve also agreed on a pre-contract with striker Matías Arezo from Club Atlético River Plate. A multitude of players across the club have had their contracts extended due to them having 1-year extensions in their contracts.

With how the team have been performing, the board are very happy. See a full confidence summary below.

Attention August

With the board being happy with a lot of my management, the only minor concerns currently come from certain squad members that aren’t happy with their playing time and some a satisfactory rating from the board regarding transfers.

To mitigate some of the player unrest and give them more playing time César Haydar and Thomas Fretes have been sent out on loan. Haydar has gone on loan to Criciúma Esporte Clube and Fretes on loan to Floresta Esporte Clube.

To start off August, the first leg of the quarter-final of the Copa CONMEBOL Sudamericana against Club Atlético Vélez Sarsfield ended in a 1-1 draw but the advantage lay with Red Bull Bragantino due to the game being played away from home meaning that the single goal ensured an away-goal. The home leg turnED out even better securing a route through to the semi-final with a 4-0 win (5-1 on aggregate).

The semi-finaL draw for the Copa CONMEBOL Sudamericana put us against Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras. The first leg against Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras was the fixture that ended August and again we go into the second leg with an advantage following a 2-1 win.

August also saw the quarter-final of the Copa Intelbras do Brasil against São Paulo Futebol Clube

In the Campeonato Brasileiro Assaí Série A, Red Bull Bragantino continue to thrive remaining undefeated with victories over América Futebol Clube, Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras, Grêmio Foot-Ball Porto Alegrense, Esporte Clube Juventude and Clube Athlético Paranaense.

As the foreign transfer window shuts, and we move forward with the continuation of the domestic transfer window I do question if there is anyone that we could potentially bring into the club in the future. One thing that is certain, a lot of players in both the U20s and the Reserves will be released at the end of the season due to them not agreeing on terms for a new contract or simply complaining about their lack of playing time.

Sensible September

With how successful things have been going at Red Bull Bragantino, I noticed in the Job Centre that the managerial position at FC Red Bull Salzburg was available. Now, if I was being completely honest, would I ever expect to get the FC Red Bull Salzburg job this early? To be completely blunt, no.

It didn’t take long for FC Red Bull Salzburg to turn down my application but did note that they were impressed with my commitment to signing players no older than 20-years-old, they were also mentioned that I would have been a good fit for the club’s highly ambitious vision for the future.

With the rejection from FC Red Bull Salzburg came some good news from my own developmental perspective. After asking numerous times the board decided to send me on the four-month National C Licence coaching course. In early September, I finally completed the course. With the completion of the course, naturally, I will be looking to complete the National B Licence as soon as possible. For now, it is good to see that personal progress and development is being made.

Moving onto fixtures, the second leg of the semi-final of the Copa CONMEBOL Sudamericana against Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras played in front of nearly 42,000 people at the Allianz Parque. For the plethora of fans, the game was a very low-key affair with Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras consistently giving away fouls which broke the flow of the game on a consistent basis. To go alongside the consistent fouls the Red Bull Bragantino players kept straying offside.

Imagine how much fun this referee would have had in this game. The amount of flamboyancy would be have been glorious!

These two things combined saw the game end in a goalless draw but did see Red Bull Bragantino through to the Copa CONMEBOL Sudamericana final against Colombian side Millonarios F.C.

In terms of league fixtures, we continue to remain undefeated starting with a draw against Atlético Clube Goianiense and then wins against Esporte Clube Bahia, Santos Futebol Clube, Fluminense Football Club, Fortaleza Esporte Clube, Sport Club Internacional and São Paulo Futebol Clube. It does seem that towards the end of the month that the players started taking the Kevin Keegan approach to football by prioritising attack over defence. It was noticeable that during the game against Sport Club Internacional and São Paulo Futebol Clube when they had the lead their players started trying to keep the ball but the persistence of my Red Bull Bragantino players applying consistent pressing ensuring that they couldn’t just keep the ball – instead the pressure paid off ensuring that both games ended with Red Bull Bragantino coming away with three points.

The approach that both Sport Club Internacional and São Paulo Futebol Clube took reminded me of the following cartoon football match from the classic film Bedknobs and Broomsticks…

To finish on a massive positive for next season. With the fantastic set of results in the league this season, qualification for the 2023 Copa CONMEBOL Sudamericana has already been confirmed. Whilst this is fantastic news, to take the next step I’m going to be pushing to qualify for the Copa CONMEBOL Libertadores

October Origins

October saw Red Bull Bragantino appear in their first Copa CONMEBOL Sudamericana final in their 94-year history, not only was it Red Bull Bragantino’s first final, it was opposition Millonarios F.C. first Copa CONMEBOL Sudamericana final in their 76-year history. So, the result aside, the occasion for both Red Bull Bragantino and Millonarios F.C. is already historic.

Even with the historic buildup, two teams that have never been in a Copa CONMEBOL Sudamericana final, the match itself failed to live up to the spectacle that it could have been. Far too many fouls given away by Red Bull Bragantino, a lot of shots, but the quality of shooting only saw a single goal in this final… I already hear you saying…

My expectations were already high going into this game, but with the way the game played out it was disappointing to be part of a fixtured marred by fouls and poor shooting. It took until the 65th for the game’s single goal to come, that goal was scored by Lucas Evangelista

Lucas Evangelista - Stats and titles won - 2022
Lucas Evangelista scored the only goal in the 2022 Copa CONMEBOL Sudamericana Final – doesn’t he look thrilled!

After a 94-year history, Red Bull Bragantino Copa CONMEBOL Sudamericana trophy

Despite the marred fixture, I have to admit this is an occasion that I won’t forget. Seeing the players lift the Copa CONMEBOL Sudamericana trophy with be etched in my memory.
However, we have to take into account that this fixture generally had me questioning if the team had actually won.

With the win next season, Red Bull Bragantino will be playing in the Copa CONMEBOL Libertadores. We’ll enter the competition in the group stages so, there be no need for qualification rounds straight to the groups.

With this season’s Copa CONMEBOL Sudamericana wrapped up, let’s review the end of competition awards.

The Copa Intelbras do Brasil continued in October with a fixture against Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras with two goals from new signing Luis Quiñones, Red Bull Bragantino are through to the Copa Intelbras do Brasil final! That final will take place against Clube de Regatas do Flamengo at the 77,000+ capacity Morumbi stadium in São Paulo on the 2nd November.

Here’s to another final!

What is scary though, October saw the first defeat in the league for Red Bull Bragantino. What makes it worse, is that defeat came against Clube de Regatas do Flamengo.

Noisy November

As previously mentioned, the start of November saw the final of the Copa Intelbras do Brasil against Clube de Regatas do Flamengo. Playing a team that has given us our one and only league loss this season makes the preparation for this game nerve-racking.

When you look at the Flamengo team, you find players like Gabriel Barbosa who in the final got the opening goal for Flamengo. If I was nervous before the game, this was even worse.

The first half ended 1-0 to Flamengo, it was time to motivate the players. It was time for an individual talk with our star striker Matías Arezo.

Of course, having already won the league and the Copa CONMEBOL Sudamericana the belief from myself was there albeit deep down within the nerves. It took until the 59th minute of the second half for Matías Arezo to level the game after Diego Alves made a critical defensive error. Arezo added his second goal in the 79th minute which wrapped up the season with another trophy!

It’s fair to say that this season has been one where all expectations have been surpassed in all competitions. For those that do recall, we were predicted to only finish 11th in the league and to not reach a final. Our odds to win the league were 18-1 which for those that are into betting could have been a good outsiders choice!.

We’ve ended the season winning the treble!

In terms of awards for both players and myself, some have been given praise for their performances this season. It’s also been a record-breaking season for the club with top finishes in all competitions. As a manager, whilst it is great to win Best Manager awards (something which I have done on

With this first season wrapped up, next season with Red Bull Bragantino being in the Copa CONMEBOL Libertadores I’ll be hoping to see how we get on in that competition. For now, let’s look ahead to preparations for the upcoming pre-season.

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