South American Journeyman Recap #12

How’s it going guys? Welcome to a new Monday Recap. Another week gone by in quarantine, not sure if I’m getting used to it or just getting dulled by it but, in any case, I hope you’re staying home, staying safe, and enjoying FM. I certainly have! It’s been a great week for Paulo Castolo’s career, so let’s see how it went!

The gold at the end of the rainbow

We closed last post with doubts as to whether our struggles on the first part of the championship were gonna cost us promotion. We had only a long shot a top spot, with qualification to the PlayOffs only partly assured. Once again, however, we did it when it counted. With 12 points from 15 possible we sealed a solid 2nd place finish which matched us up with Gaúcho side Ypiranga.

As last time, a win in the QFs was all that was needed to claim a position in next year’s Serie B, so it could very much be regarded as the biggest couple of matches of the year.

The series, played between the end of September and the beginning of October was a fairly straight forward affair, with us taking a solid 4-2 win at the Baptistão and then doing half the effort for a 2-1 win away. Just like that, no drama, no tension (other than dropping a 2-0 lead in the first minutes of the 2nd half on the home leg only to quickly regain it), no big heroics, we were a 2nd Division team.

All that remained then was the semis (and potential final) to decide the Champion of Serie C. While not nearly as important for the club as getting promoted, winning it all felt like a nice cherry on top, while also considering adding to our personnal curriculum, but even more than anything else, it felt like such an achievable goal that not going for it was almost like wasting the opportunity.

The Semis saw us face Rivaldo’s old stomping grounds Santa Cruz. In front of over forty four thousand people (the largest crowd we had ever been hosted by) we absolutely dominated them at their house and got a nice 3-0 win to make the home leg a much easier affair. In effect, a 1-1 quiet draw was all it took for us to take a place in the final.

The Confiança side that won the Sergipão in 1986. Three years later, in 1989, they would go on and gain promotion to the Serie B, the last time the club played in the 2nd Division

Waiting for us in the final was yet another Gaúcho side, Juventude. We were gonna collect €10.27k on TV Rights for the home leg, almost 10 times more than any other match we had played. Similarly to the Semis, it was fairly straight business. A 2-0 win away was sealed with a (a bit more nervy) 1-1 draw at the Baptistão. A.D. Confiança was the champions of the Serie C.

The directors were delighted. The board had settled on non-relegation as the goal for this season, with promotion to Serie B an objetive only a few years down the line…

Empty are the pockets that paid for the crown

Immediately after, however, it was time to get to work. The nature of the brazilian structure means you have little in ways of preseason; the season is over by early November and by mid December you’re back on the job, with the first fixtures coming no later than early January. All that hurrying means that by the time your expiring contracts have left and your new players arrive, you’re a week away from the first competitive matches. It’s frantic.

So you have to plan ahead. Half the time between the PlayOff matches are spent thinking about the next season. Contracts expire 31/12 and kick-in 01/01 so you have yo be aware of who’s leaving before you can go ahead and spend some money. Our good cup runs meant we had about break-even (even with the reduced expenses), which gave us just what was left in salary budget to work with, and not much more.

Our economy was as sound as ever

Out went (amongst a few others) veteran CBs Nirley (who was on an astronomical €143k p/a), retiring CB Luan and some of the failed youngsters like ever-so-promising and never-developing midfielder Resende, and striker Pedro Bezerra who suffered from a similar syndrome of flat development curve. I have all the time in the world for developing young talent. I have no time for not-developing, been-given-too-many-opportunities-to-wake-up young talent.

When looking for signings I was mainly focused on improving the weaker spots of what had been a fairly strong set up. No revamping, no revolution, just tweaks and spots of quality.

A change of escenery

Now is when I’d take you all of those brilliant signings but in all honesty, it would pointless. Not because they weren’t good enough but because as the season drew nearer a new kind of offer began appearing: managerial positions.

As you all know this is a journeyman-type save and, like as I have come to like this team and this league, staying for a generation-long, era-defining spell was never on the cards. I said I was gonna see my contract through, I know, but once the door is opened is quite hard to not peep into what could be, and the thought of leaving for a new challenge looked tempting, particularly as I was wrestling with some squad players who thought too highly of themselves and refused to leave.

The first to come calling were uruguayan legendary club Peñarol. Truth be told, I was quite excited to go there. Peñarol was one of the clubs I wanted to manage when I did a similar save on FM19, but was snubbed for the position and ended up going to rivals Nacional. Just as I was about to get to it, some health problems got in the way and by the time I felt right, FM20 was on the horizon and I dropped the whole thing.

After that some other clubs knocked on my door. I took interviews with argentinian side Rosario Central and brazilian Serie A clubs Cruzeiro and Sport Recife, with other clubs like Serie B’s Vitória and Guaraní asking for one (though I didn’t accept those as they felt more like side-steps).

Uruguay’s Estadio Centenario filled to the brim for what I can only guess is like the millionth Clasico Uruguayo. A dream scenario for this series.

Easy come, easy go, however and as fast as the invitations arrived, rejections followed. It was particularly heartbreaking to hear it from Peñarol, as for a second straight FM they had denied me the chance to manage them.

So I played a few matches, started doing the usual tactics tinkering to get the best of our new talents when a little envelope appeared in the mail box (I know this isn’t how managerial interviews are agreed upon, don’t break the fantasy). Nacional wanted me to manage them. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Little over a week after being rejected as Peñarol boss, I signed a contract to manage Nacional. Revenge is a dish best served with cold silverware. Hey carboneros… karma is a b*tch, you know?

Montevideo, here we go!

As always, thanks for reading.

Published by fromero92

Argentinian writer and journalist

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