With my Liverpool save with FMD now a thing of the past, I have been able to focus more time on my Feirense save in FM23 – the save I started for myself initially, but wanted to share with the FM community when the platform became available. I started documenting this journey here, and it’s been a month or so since I provided an update, but a lot has happened in that time! In this article, I want to simply provide an update on the save. I am currently nearing the midpoint of the 2024/25 season, so my third season as Feirense boss, and our second season in Portugal’s top flight. Each season has been an over-achievement, and we have managed this on a shoestring budget. So, if you want to know where we’re at right now, read on – there isn’t any heavy tactical detail this time around, but that kind of content is in the works and will tie into the Feirense save series.
This is how we finished in 2023/24 – our first season in the top flight. I won’t lie, we started the season strongly, but I honestly thought it would fizzle out and that we’d end up at the low end of a mid-table table season – and that would still have been fine! But we defied the odds and stormed our way to 4th place which granted us access to the UEFA Conference League qualifying phases. As soon as this achievement was confirmed, I had pound signs in my eyes like a cartoon character; I knew that entry into European football was absolutely key to transforming the club’s poor financial situation and ultimately leading us to higher glories aka domestic success and Champions League success. Oh, I forgot to mention, I was crowned manager of the year!
For those who have read any of my content on FMD to date, you’ll know how much I love this tactic. I created it from scratch myself, and never thought for a second it would bring us so much success! Sure, we still have games where we struggle to get a grip of play, but doesn’t every team have bad games? My downfall is still a failure to come up with a plan B tactic – one that I can rely on in games when we can’t control possession and attacking chances are limited. But I have learned not to be too hard on myself and my team – we are still a small club who are overachieving, so we are still going to have bad games.
Another noteworthy factor is that I still tinker with the player roles from time to time, mainly the 2 central midfielders and the wide men. The image above is how I’m rolling currently, but I have tried a number of different role combinations in central midfield. For a time, my BWM was a half-back, which sounds good at face value. But with three central defenders and wing-backs who still offer lots of defensive assets, a half-back just crowded their space and left my midfield too vulnerable. Switching back to a BWM allows Silva to apply his defensive quality in a more aggressive manner alongside the advanced playmaker in front of him, (hopefully) providing a better balance.
This was a huge transfer window for me, even with limited transfer funds. I knew that this season would go one of two ways – we either build on last season’s 4th place finish, or we sink and become relegation fodder. To avoid the latter, a thorough squad assessment was required. Last season, none of the players in my senior squad were “dead wood” but there were several who would fall into that category this season as they simply weren’t good enough. I was also wary of raising money to bring players in, a fair few of the dead wood candidates were on wages that far exceeded their talents. Losing Jota was a blow at first but the player wanted to go – I couldn’t risk upsetting the squad dynamics, and the transfer fee is massive for us. Plus, I had a healthy surplus of CBs in the squad to fall back on.
In terms of bringing players in, I was desperate to bring in some fresh blood up front. Last season’s top scorer, Joao Paredes, scored an emphatic 18 goals in 26 league games, so I know what you’re thinking – why the need to invest in this area? A number of reasons – Paredes is now 28 so I am to shift him quickly, it’s while he’s still in his prime years. Furthermore, while we have only loaned him out for this season, the loan contract comes with an optional fee of £800k, which could be very important to us if his loan club takes it. Finally, the deciding factor was that my coaches believed he was started to decline in ability, and keeping him at the club would run the risk of keeping an important player on the bench, which could harm squad dynamics. His CA/PA is 2.5 stars which is not the caliber of striker you can rely on once you reach European football. So, who did I bring in? I didn’t need to bring in loads of players but I had a plan – bring in one on loan to play the squad player role, and bring in a marquee signing – you can guess from the image above who the latter is; Picas was the loan signing.
Meet Oday Dabbagh. I had been tracking him since my first season but simply did not have the financial power to bring him in. As soon as we did have the money and the need for a striker, I wasted no time in heading over to my shortlist and signing the Palestine international. His goal record before joining Feirense was not ground-breaking, scoring 19 goals over two seasons in the top flight. While this isn’t a bad return, it wasn’t the sort of record that brought in loads of interest, which made it very easy to sign him – I was far more focused on his attribute set anyway.
My thought process was this – if my 2.5 star striker can bag 18 goals in the top tier, imagine what a better striker can bring to the team! His finishing is his top technical element, and he has a very good physical skillset, but I have learned to really appreciate the importance of mental attributes, especially for strikers. A composure rating of 15 is incredible and pairs amazingly with his 14 finishing so basically anytime he gets in 1v1 with the goalkeeper or has the ball in the box, he finds the back of the net. And yes, his off-the-ball rating and work rate rating were also contributing factors, but his teamwork rating of 16 sealed the deal as this confirmed to me that he would be able to slot into our style of play effortlessly. Just look at his stats at the bottom of the screen to see how well he’s started for us – 15 goals in 12 games!
These two images are just here to provide a summary of the season so far. We’ve started very brightly in both the league and the UEFA Conference League after getting through the various qualifying rounds – this is also the first season where the new UEFA league phase format has come into play, so that’s interesting! When looking at our performance in the UECL, I am more than pleased with our first three games. From what I can tell, we play 6 games in total with the top 8 qualifying automatically, with a play-off group below that. So we are on course for a top 8 finish, thankfully.
In terms of domestic league football, a very strong start also. Keeping in touch with the top 2 was my challenge for this season as it would provide A) more money and B) access to better European competitions. The thing I am most pleased with in the league so far this season is our defensive record, conceding just 6 goals so far makes us the best defensive team in the league after 9 games, which is a major improvement over last season.
If you have gotten this far, thank you so much for reading. We appreciate any support towards FMD, so feel free to share/retweet or whatever it is you do on your chosen social media platform! Over the next few months, I will continue to provide updates on this save, as well as produce content that covers anything FM from tactics to general tips!