What’s up guys? Welcome to a new Monday Recap of the South American Journeyman. First update after we ended the weekly updates cycle, so hopefully you haven’t missed me. There’s been a lot of news, so let’s get crackin’…
The blessing in disguise
As I had unenthusiastically explained last time around, our 3rd place finish got us a spot in the Copa Libertadores. What I did not know then was where I was gonna land; turns out being the 3rd best team in Perú doesn’t buy you much international credit. We entered the competition at the 2nd Qualifying Round, just one round after the 4th placed team, Sporting Cristal.
That meant we were very much in the hands of the Drawing gods, and they were not kind. In a series of matchups that included minnows such as Venezuelan Zamora FC and Bolivian Oriente Petrolero, we ended up going against the Copa Libertadores’ most laureate team, Independiente de Avellaneda.
It was always going to be a tough matchup but the lack of preseason time in Perú made it a hill nearly impossible to climb; a 4-1 loss in Argentina confirmed that assumption. Back in Perú, a terrible start made a comeback all the more unimaginable, as we were 2-0 behind in 10 minutes. Despite a 2nd half effort, we only managed a 5-3 win for a 7-6 aggregate loss.
It was particularly hard as had it happened the following round, it would have earned us a Copa Sudamericana spot. After finding out last season how important deep pushes on international competitions were for the club’s economy, this was a bucket of cold water. Speaking of which…
Buying our way to the top
Recently a couple of mates and I were discussing how bad South American clubs are at club building in FM, mostly selling their top players at huge bonuses and failing to significantly reinvest, either through the market or via facilities. It is realistic to a degree, as most clubs around here struggle to pay bills and keep things going as it is, but it feels like even economically sound clubs fall into this behaviour. Let’s take Nacional as an example…
I left the club as nearly undefeated national champions, on the brink of starting a dynasty and on solid footing economically, with close to €10M in the bank. So…did they invest and take flight?
Spot the point where I left, I dare you…
On the contrary, over the following 3 years they progressively sold every high potential player for massive profit and struggled to reinvest in the club. I feel part of it has to do with the lack of economic possibilities that exist in bigger leagues throughout Europe, where clubs seem to employ more of a scatter-gun approach to signings. Regardless, what this ends up meaning is that for any human player with an eye for a transfer and a disdain for their own clubs financial safety in the immediate future, there’s a highway to success ready to be paved.
Starting our 3rd season in Perú, I knew this was the season we had to win it all. We had a solid core and with the right additions, the team would become one of the best in the country. We know now that the Castoloball tactic lives and dies by the wingbacks, so it’s hardly surprising it was the area I was looking to improve. Thiago Ennes on the right has been a truthful servant of this club and it was great to catch up with after the Confiança days but we needed a better option. On the left, Mathias Llontop finished the season as assists leader with 11, but his overall lack of quality and bad training made me feel like it was the right moment to cash on him and bring someone with a better rounded game.
Help came in the shape of two Argentines, former Newell’s youth player Facundo Nadalín and former Racing Club prospect Fabián Sánchez. Other signings included a couple of young prospects like Yossef Achaui from Cusco FC and Eusebio Borja from Alianza Lima.
The Apertura proved an absolute walk in the park, with our only defeat coming from that 4-1 trashing at Independiente. Wins vs Universitario, Melgar, Sporting Cristal and Alianza really took the suspense out of the League as we grew an ever increasing lead. The end result was rather overwhelming…
This of course puts us in pole position to take the big prize.
With us getting another league title I’m starting to think next episode will be the last. I was hoping I could squeeze at least one more league as it looked like FM21 was gonna arrive later than usual. But with the new game announced for mid November and the Beta coming as soon as the 10th, I might just need to take October as a break month.
This has been a great save, one that I have enjoyed thoroughly. It got me to talk to great people and discover fascinating clubs and footballing cultures, unknown to me even as a South American.
Wohoo! This has been great! Who’s up for another one?
It started as a rags to riches save in the bottom of the Argentine football ladder and then it became something else. I guess in part that’s why it’s ultimate goal has to go down as a failure. But much the same way FM21 coming dawns the end of this save, it prepares us for the next and I’m ready to give this another go. So don’t despair just yet. Paulo Castolo is coming back!
For now, we need to finish this season and claim for Cienciano their first ever Peruvian league title.
Until then, thanks for reading.