Hello and welcome back to “El Fortin”, our journey as manager of Velez Sarsfield. After what seems like a long time between completing our last blog post we are back. Mainly thanks to a hectic period at work in the run up to Christmas my playing time was very limited and add to that I’ve been playing some #othergames over the festive period has led to this being our post of 2021.
The intention of this blog is to guide you through our third season in charge in Latin America. Following on from what can only be seen as a success in season one, which, if you haven’t seen how we got on remember to catch up on that blog first, or don’t, it’s entirely up to you
Ahead of the season, the board via the club vision provided us a set of objectives to achieve, these were as follow:
- Work within the wage budget
- Qualify for the Copa Libertadores
- Reach the Quarter Final of the Copa Libertadores
- Develop youth players using the clubs youth system
- Play possession based football.
As such, throughout this post, I will cover whether or not we were able to satisfy their expectations.
As you may realise by now there is never a great deal of cash made available by the board but thankfully there is an abundance of talent in South America and I am a sucker for a free transfer anyway. However, this year we did end up signing two players for a fee, this first in our tenure.
We spent a total of £1.3 million on our three signings. First in the door was Augustin Palavecino for £300 thousand from Deportivo Cali. A well rounded advanced playmaker who will slot into our AMC position moving Thiago Almada out to AML. The winter window saw us add Maximiliano Hoyos, an 18 year old AMC who despite already having Palavecino couldn’t be passed up on. He joins for a compensatory fee of £975 thousand. Lastly, we added David Ayala, a 20 year old MC from Estudiantes (LP) who will become out starting MC alongside Galdames.
This season was the first season under the new European style league format which saw a 42-game schedule and the removal of the League and Superleague split competitions.
We started the season off well which has become kind of synonymous with the save. We recorded six win and a draw in our opening seven weeks only falling to defeat to an impressive Independiente side who put us to the sword 3-0 away from home.
This led to a sort of domino effect where we lost two of our next three games against Ferro Carril Oeste who finished rock bottom of the table recording only five wins.
The other loss was against Defensa y Justica who were the only team to do the double over us.
However, we recovered well losing only three times in the remainder of the season. The main problem we faced was the inability to convert draws into victories recording a whopping twelve of them.
Month in focus
The month selected is April 2023, which is what I would consider our best month of the season. It was a busy month with eight matches across three competitions which saw us secure six wins and two draws.
The month started with a 5-1 demolition of River, with a stand out performance from Monzon who grabbed a brace.
Scoring for the opposition is former Velez youth prospect Mino Aravi who we tried to tempt back after scoring 17 and assisting 11 times. However, we decided to stick with Monzon and Pellegrino as our main options.
The other key performance of the month came with a record-setting Copa Libertadores victory over Olimpia who were put to the sword 7-0,
Goals came in the form of braces for Almada and Janson with Monzon, Palavecino and Pellegrino grabbing one each.
As mentioned in our expectations the board expect us to play possession based football.
It’s safe to say that we smashed the possession based football out of the park having an average of 60% possession, outperforming River Plate who only managed 58%.
In addition to this, we completed 20,154 passes with a success rate of 92% which was also the highest completion percentage.
Somewhat disappointingly our Seasonal Performance Analyst Report indicated that we under performed our xG of 73.2 goals but only scoring 71 goals. Despite this we out performed out XPTS of 82.4 achieving 84 points. However, our XPTS position would be 2nd and we actually came 4th.
We picked up in the Sixth Round in July 2022 where we comfortably put away Argentinos Juniors 4-0.
We then proceeded to beat:
- Estudiantes (LP) 5-1 – Seventh round
- Arsenal de Sarandi 3-0 – Quarter-final
- Independiente 2-2p – Semi-final
Setting up a final with Boca, who we have struggled against in the past, only managing two draws with them this season. The final will be held at ‘El Monumental’ in Buenos Aires, the home of River Plate.
After a disastrous start courtesy of normally certain bet Emmanuel Gomez Riga we were down 2-0 after only 20 minutes. However, a glimmer of hope presented itself via a Augustin Palavecino goal in the 30th minute. After the hour mark we were finally put to bed thanks for Marcone scoring his only goal of the season.
As you may now realise the Copa Argentina spans the course of two seasons. Therefore, we played one further Copa Argentina game before 30 June 2023, where we faced Gimnasia Mendoza. We managed a somewhat unconvincing 2-1 win courtesy of a brace from Thiago Almada. This sets up a Sixth Round tie in Season 4 against Belgrano, who finished fifth in the second tier this year.
The Copa Libertadores spans across two seasons and we had to reach the QFs to meet the board’s expectation.
Having topped the group almost perfectly until falling short in game six with an atrocious performance against Allianz Lima who punished us with a 5-2 defeat courtesy of Beto da Silva netting himself four goals.
However, we progressed to the second round which will see us face reigning champions Athletico Miniero of Brazil, who Copa Libertodores leading goal scorer Marrony leading the line meaning our centre halves will have to be on the ball at the start of next season.
So, overall a somewhat disappointing season missing out on silverware but we did manage to meet all of our expectations. As usual, here I’m going to look at some of my top performers from season two (all competitions):
- Goals: Thiago Almada (22 goals), Florian Monzon (18 goals) and Mateo Pellegrino (16 goals)
- Assists: Lucas Janson (14 assists), Thiago Almada (13 assists) and Luca Orellano (9 assists).
- Average Rating: Lautaro Gianetti (7.34), Thiago Almada (7.29) and David Ayala (7.26)
Player in focus
As I’ve done above with selecting a key month I also wanted to select a player who had a big impact on our team this season but may not be considered as a key player in terms of performance metrics.
This season I’ve selected David Ayala, our 20 year old winter transfer window signing from Estudiantes (LP). He slotted in perfectly into our team alongside Pablo Galdames and Augustin Palvavecino. He recorded 2.70 key passes per 90 only trailing Thiago Almada whilst also recording 4 goals and 7 assists in his 1,902 minutes of game time.
Ayala has impressive passing and vision and it is no surprise he completed 75 passes per 90 and produced 0.33 assists per 90 only trailing Luca Orellano.
Once again, thank you for joining me in outlining our mediocre third season at Velez Sarsfield in Football Manager 2021.
I’m going to leave this here as a set-up for my next blog…