Santástico – Ep 2: 2019 – Baby steps

Welcome to the first season review episode! These episodes will focus almost exclusively on talent development and our players, but I’ll mention how Santos FC did very briefly as well.

I’m building this episode around the 6 step strategy presented in the last episode, which will hopefully make for a good read! If you don’t know what I’m on about and can’t be bothered to follow the link above, this is it:

So, without further ado I give you:

1. Identify

Since the youth intake preview indicated a slightly disappointing group of players coming through I was pleasantly suprised by the actual outcome!

Four players showing great potential, with one stand-out talent in Kauhan. That’s more than I had hoped for, but our HoYD Dias is even whispering the magical words “golden generation”. We’ll see about that, but I’m just happy the intake wasn’t absolute rubbish! Two out of these four players plus an additional one are actually good enough to qualify for the challenge to become the next Neymar.

Kauhan Ginga Rating 55

15-year old Kauhan has a lot of Flair (17) and good Technique (14), but is a bit lacking in the rest of the Ginga skills. He needs to work both on his Dribbling skills and his speed straight away. You’re no Neymar with a Dribbling of 7!

Kaio Henrique Ginga Rating 50

Kaio Henrique has a bit of an odd skill set. Loads of Flair (17), but he’s pretty poor with the ball at his feet. His strengths besides Flair are Aggression, Teamwork and Work Rate, not the typical Ginga skills! We’ll try moulding him into a Neymar, but there’s is a quite substantial chance he’ll grow into a hard-working midfielder instead! Time will tell!

Ronaldo Love Ginga Rating 51

The third player from our intake isn’t spectacular in any way, but still decent enough to get a chance. He’s Determined (16) and Brave (18) and puts in the work. Some say he’s too unspectacular and only in this because of his name. This is of course not true, even though it certainly was no disadvantage. I mean, don’t we all need a bit of Ronaldo Love?

Under the “Identify” heading we also brought in two more scouts to make our total number of coaches eight. Much needed to keep every young Brazilian player on our radar!

Despite having eight scouts the big highlight of the season, raiding the other teams’ intake days, didn’t give that much. I think I was actually a bit late to the party, with most good players already signed to contracts. The feeling is that the time between intake day and youth players actually signing contracts was way shorter than in my Man Utd save as well. The only player I found decent enough (and willing to come) to sign looks quite alright though.

2. Sign

Júlio Baptista Ginga Rating 66

Júlio Baptista has a lot of potential and is well-rounded in his Ginga skills, without making anyone fall off their chair in amazement. Decent enough to get the chance, at least! A low self belief is a bit of a worry, but hopefully the steady and comfortable embrace of a father figure can help him overcome that!

Since raiding the intake days didn’t give us that much we had to look elsewhere. Luckily a quirkiness in the Brazilian contract rules helped us out here. Thanks to the Brazilian system of mandatory release clause fees we brought in a couple of other gems for ridiculous fees of around £200K.

Lázaro Ginga Rating 69

A fantastic bargain, even though it makes competition for our limited attacking spots even tougher! Lázaro is a very well-balanced player, both when it comes to Ginga and his other attacking skills. An excellent foundation to build on!

Fábio José Ginga Rating 67

Fábio José comes in for £275K from Serie B club Grêmio Esportivo and displays a Flair (20) not seen in many players, which makes him a really exciting prospect. He is decent in the other Ginga skills, but in order to take advantage of his ability to make the unexpected happen, he needs to improve everything, especially his Dribbling (11). His Professional personality shows that he’s serious about his football and will help him develop. If we can improve this even further through mentoring, he might become a very useful mentor himself in the future!

3. Train

Now to the lion’s share of this review post, where we’ll go through the development of the eleven prospects we identified in the last episode. I’ll analyse them from the youngest to the oldest and also deliver a bit of a verdict on each of them. Have they lived up to the expectations? Are they true reincarnations of The Neymar?

Renyer Ginga Rating 68 (last season 64)

Renyer has improved his most important skills, the ones affecting his Ginga Rating by a total number of four. Good, but not great. He also improved various other skills, with +2s in Composure, Balance and Heading. Renyer also suffered a 1 point drop in Determination, which wasn’t enough to cause any negative personality changes though. Overall, a total 29 point increase to his attributes must be considered a good season development wise.
Training focus next season: Physical skills. Agility and Balance followed by Quickness.

Marcos Leonardo Ginga Rating 75 (67)

Marcos Leonardo looked like a really exciting prospect going into the season, and he certainly hasn’t mad anyone disappointed on the training pitch. With a total improvement 47 skill points, evenly spread over his technical, mental and physical skills he is by far our most improved player. An 8 point increase to his Ginga skills gives him a rating of 75. At age 16! Could this be the real deal!?
Training focus next season: Physical skills. Quickness followed by Agility and Balance.

Ivonei Ginga Rating 57 (57)

If the development of Marcos Leonardo had the fans dreaming wet dreams, the lack of improvement from Ivonei gave the fans nightmares. A lot of -1s, not a single improvement to his Ginga skills and a slight deterioration as the overall result had everyone questioning whether Ivonei should remain at the club or not. The final verdict is that Ivonei will leave the club to make room for the new players.

Gabriel Pirani Ginga Rating 71 (66)

Gabriel Pirani displayed some nice improvement over the season. +2s in the important Ginga skills of Dribbling and Technique was accompanied by a wide spread of improvements in the other areas. A 32 point total improvement is considered more than decent as well.
Training focus next season: Physical skills. Agility and Balance followed by Strength.

Giovanni Ginga Rating 63 (58)

Giovanni’s season on the training pitch had a bit of a “meh” feeling to it. He did improve his Ginga skills by 5 points, but besides that he didn’t really impress anyone, which is highlighted by his 19 point total improvement. He also suffered a -3 to his Bravery after a lengthy injury, which may very well be the reason for his relative lack of overall improvement as well.
The decision has been made that Giovanni is not good enough to remain with the club.

Kaio Jorge Ginga Rating 66 (60)

Kaio Jorge went into the season as the player burdened by the highest expectations. He lived up to them on the pitch (we’ll get back to that) and to a certain extent in training as well. His total improvemetnt of 24 points isn’t excellent, but the improvements came in all the right areas. He improved each of the five Ginga skills, as well as other offensively important skills such as First Touch, Decisions and Vision.
Training focus next season: Ball control

Caio Mota Ginga Rating 63 (56)

Caio Mota improved nicely over the season. +7 in Ginga Rating is excellent, especially in combination with improvements in other important skills such as First Touch, Decisions and Vision.
Training focus next season: Ball Control followed by Agility and Balance.

Ed Carlos Ginga Rating 72 (69)

This was not what I hoped for when I signed Ed Carlos. A slight +3 increase to his Ginga skills was the highlight of his season training wise, but besides that things looked pretty bad. Not a single +2 increase to any skill and a measly 14 point total improvement cannot be considered anything besides a failure.
Training focus next season: Ball Control

Lucas Sena Ginga Rating 75 (70)

A decent improvement overall and a jump in Ginga Rating from 70 to 75 is good and all, but I just wish we’d gotten a little more from Lucas Sena this season. Perhaps it’s a bit premature to give up on an 18-year old with a Ginga Rating of 75, but I dreamed of an explosive development that didn’t happen. Next season, maybe? Please!?
Training focus next season: Physical skills. Agility and Balance followed by Strength.

Lucas Lourenco Ginga Rating 66 (61)

Another disappointment. The Ginga skills increased by 5 points, but at age 18 the feeling is that Lucas Lourenco may be too far away from what we’re looking for. He’ll be given one more season where focus will be to improve basically everything in hopes of him taking a giant leap in his development.
Training focus next season: Ball Control

Allanzinho Ginga Rating 64 (62)

The words of Boyz II Men really come in handy here, since it’s the end of the road for wannabe thug Allanzinho. The oldest player of the bunch and nearly no improvement over the season makes the decision to offload him really easy. If he turns into the next Neymar I’ll eat my own hat. I don’t even think he’ll turn into a Brazilian Serie A player. I’ll be surprised if he stays out of jail.

That’s it for the actual training development. Let’s take a quick look at what happened outside the pitch!

4. Mentor

Early on I identified mentoring as an important part in the development of our young players. Since there were no suitable mentors in the club when I took over I brought in Lucho González and Danilo, both with desirable personalities, but sadly lacking the playing qualities to feature regularly in our first team.

This lack of playing time has made them fall down our hierarchy pyramid, probably lessening the effects of therir mentoring, making me think about finding a couple of new ones. Then this came.

Considering their high age combined with not playing much I can’t say I was surprised by their decisions to retire, but it forced me to go mentor hunting straight away. There was a total of seven players with Model Citizen or Model Professional personalities interested in joining us, and two of them stood out a bit.

Luckily I managed to bring in both of them in Zabaleta and Palacio. The situation will probably be a bit like this season though. Two ageing mentors that are just not good enough to be first team starters. Hopefully by playing them a bit more than the previous mentoring duo we can keep them in the top of the hierarchy pyramid.

Sending them up there in the first place was easy, we simply made them captain and vice-captain.

Without any real progress made through mentoring during the first season, we’ll be keeping a close eye on this to see what we can improve. In the future I hope to find/develop mentors that are actually important players on the pitch as well, since I believe that that would greatly benefit the youngsters they are mentoring. We’ll get back to this further along, surely.

Let’s move on to the actual 2019 season!

5. Play games

Well, games were played during the season. Lots of them. This was and will continue to be a delicate balancing act, between fielding a team good enough to reach the expecations of the board to avoid getting sacked, while at the same time giving as many young players as much playing time as possible. Both because I believe that it maximises their development, but also to help them reach the aim of 100 goals for Santos. After our first season this aim seems very high, but I guess that’s the whole point of this series. It wouldn’t be that fun if the aim was to produce average Brazilian players, would it? No, if we want to produce the next Neymar or Pélé they have to be extraordinary!

A good season saw us fulfill the expectations of a top 6 finish, which was the main aim, since it let’s us keep the managerial job so we can continue this series!

But then we had this matter of the 100 goal aim. Based on this season, this is going to be one tough cookie. Kaio Jorge played regularly, but “only” managed 16 goals. Continuing this production it would take him a little more than six seasons before he’s allowed to move to Europe. And he’s by far our best goalscorer so far. Hopefully the goalscoring will increase as the individual players get better, but I probably need to help them along a bit by selling away the current offensive first team players to reduce competition over spots in the match day squad. This will most likely lead to more goals for these players and will hopefully not lead to too much off a loss of quality. We still need to keep the job, you know!?

6. Sell

Under this heading we’ll of course go through the players that we send overseas after they’ve scored 100 goals, but as you know we’re nowhere near that point now. Until we actually start sending players to Europe I’ll produce a top three ranking of the players at the moment. So, with the first season complete, this is my top three going into the 2020 season.

1. Marcos Leonardo

Perhaps it comes as a bit of a surprise to you that Kaio Jorge isn’t no 1 on this list!? With only three goals it might seem strange to put Marcos Leonardo as our biggest hope, but I simply can’t disregard the combination of his young age and his superb skill set. With a Ginga Rating of 75 at age 16 he is the closest to a new Neymar that we get at the moment.

If he can replicate what he did on the training pitch this season in 2020 he’ll be an even better player, hopefully leading to a higher goal production!

2. Kaio Jorge

Kaio Jorge isn’t the natural heir to the throne of Neymar. No, he’s more of a physical forward and lacks the finesse and flair that a true Ginga warrior possesses. On the other hand he’s the closest player to accomplishing the 100 goal aim (even though he’s miles away), which means that he’s closest to a move to Europe. Considering the fact that he’s 17 years old, he’ll probably keep scoring consistently in coming years, eventually reaching 100 goals. We can’t do anything more than try our very best to make him as Neymaresque as possible in that time, right!?

3. Fábio José

Fabio Who? you ask rightfully. Well, this is a bit of a curve ball, putting a player yet to play a game for us in third place. Fábio José is one of our new signings for the 2020 season and every time I look at his attributes I smile. With a Flair of 20 I have high hopes for this guy! Imagine what he’ll become after a season of proper training! I see slow-motion sequences of rabonas, elasticos and back heel shenanigans when I close my eyes and dream. Since he’s totally unproven he might turn out a complete dud though, who knows! Only time will tell!

That’s it for this first season review. Not a lot happened, even though I’m very excited for the 2020 season. We go into it with a strong group of young players and my challenge now is to nurture them in training, work on improving the mentoring and make them score goals for fun! I’m loving this and I hope you do too! See you soon!

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