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Santástico – Ep 7: 2023 – Help me God

Welcome to the fifth season review episode, covering the 2023 seaon! My hopes for this season was to reach three players with 100+ goals and that we’d finally drum up enough attention for one of them to secure a move to Europe. So far interest from European clubs has been non-existent and it means that I’m having troubles moving the series forward.

Along the lines of the last episode I’ll keep this one on the shorter side, looking at training in more general terms. We’ll only go in-depth with the outstanding players, in an attempt to keep the post shorter. As usual, we’ll start off with our youth intake. Which was a disappointment. As usual.

1. Identify

Unfortunately the 2023 youth intake was a huge disappointment, with only one player worth keeping, João Arroz. With a Ginga Rating of 52 he’s useless for this challenge though…

Yet again we needed to hit the transfer market to find new prospects. With our new scouting filter things seemed really tough to bring in anyone, but with slight tweaks we found five new players.

2. Sign

Daniel Ginga Rating 61

Daniel is the youngest out of the five and therefore the first one we’ll look at. He actually fits the tougher scouting filter with a Flair of 15+ and the rest of the Ginga skills at 10+! He is lacking in basically everything that isn’t Ginga though, so he’ll need to improve a lot in the future!

Pedro Ginga Rating 67

Pedro is the second 15-year-old we brought in. His Flair is on the lower side, but we’ll gamble a bit here. His young age makes us hope for plenty of development!

Mário César Ginga Rating 65

Only a month older, Mário César looks really interesting. He isn’t fast, but both Acceleration and Pace are fairly easy to train!

Pirulito Ginga Rating 71

Pirulito is the signing with the highest Ginga Rating. He is the second oldest as well, which makes the likelyhood of him improving massively quite small. A Flair of 15 is always nice and we still hope for some development in the other skills.

Elly Emanoel Ginga Rating 66

Elly Emanoel is the oldest out of the bunch and perhaps also the most well-rounded. A Flair of 16 is his biggest strength Ginga wise.

These five youngsters were not the only players brought in. No, not even close. The next segment might come as a surprise to you, especially after my recent attempts with the “Let everyone play” approach, but we’ve steered our ship in a slightly new direction.

Instead of playing youngsters pretty much in all positions, familiar or not, I’ve decided to focus on the primary attacking positions, the four players up front.

Since an average rating of 7.00 or more is vital to a player’s development, we need to make sure that we give our best players the chance to shine in their best positions. I want to do this of course by playing them in familiar positions, but I also want to give the the best support and surroundings as possible. This means that I’ve decided to strengthen most other positions in coming seasons, bringing in the best players money can buy. All this in an attempt to let my potential future Neymars focus on attacking duties in order to both raise their average ratings and also maximise their goal scoring chances.

The first player brought is not a support role player, but still.

This is perhaps not exactly along the lines of my old transfer strategy, but I simply couldn’t help myself when he became available on a free transfer from Manchester City. I can really understand why they let him go, after less than 10 goals produced in 6 out of 7 seasons at the club. I think he has more to offer and have high hopes that he can relight his fire at Santos FC!

Edegar is a solid left back and a future Brazilian international. He is well-rounded but needs to work on Crossing and Dribbling to really excel in our tactics that utilises an over-lapping complete wing back. He is a massive upgrade compared to what we had on the position and I’m really excited to get him in!

We wanted a combination of Positioning and Acceleration to improve our defense against balls in behind our defensive line. Juan Pablo Rodríguez was a great fit and it felt like a bit of a bargain getting him in for £5M from Argentinian side Lanús.

The combination of current keeper Éverson getting both old and developing a habit of letting in easy goals mad us look for a heir. In the Argentinian U20 squad we not only found a centre back, we also found a new keeper. Guzmán is well-rounded and young with loads of potential, which makes me hope that he can become our no1 for many years to come!

3. Train

Before we look at the general development over the season I want to pay a visit to my social experiment, Super Mário

My social experiment trying to make Super Mário into a professional footballer isn’t going that great. The alluring calls from friends in the favela for him to come party with them became to much for him. Work all day and party all night became sleep all day and party all night and Super Mário stopped coming to practice. I didn’t give up on him though. I sat him down, lied to his face and told him he had a bright future as a football player ahead of him. I figured that a motivational speak involving that he was a mediocre youth player without much potential wouldn’t have the same effect. My lies worked wonders and he returned to practice, which means that I can continue my experiment of turning a player without potential into a professional footballer.

A fairly mediocre season in training and attribute improvement. Not a single outstanding performer when it comes to developing Ginga Rating or overall. On the other end of the spectrum we had plenty of players that didn’t improve at all.

We’ll look a little closer at two players that stood out for different reasons.

Gilberto now has the joint highest Ginga Rating (82) with Marcos Leonardo. He looks simply amazing in every area except for the one where we struggle to improve, Flair. This means that there is a likelihood that we won’t see too much more Ginga Rating improvements from Gilberto, but he looks amazing nevertheless!

The reason there’s no GIF for Elzio Mello is simple. I didn’t think he was good enough to screenshot when he came through last season’s youth intake. However, he impressed enough by being our most improved player over the 2023 season that I needed to show his current skill set. He has an astounding Technique (18) and is pretty well-rounded when it comes to everything else, Ginga or not. Of course he needs to keep improving, but that’s why we train, isn’t it!?

Overall this year’s statistics follow the same pattern as the average, where the youngest players develop the most and the oldest players doesn’t develop at all. Flair is the attribute that sees the least improvement as usual.

All in all a fairly unexciting year in training. Let’s take a look at mentoring instead, where we at least had a bit of a change of personnel!

4. Mentor

We got the opportunity to bring in legend João Moutinho ahead of the season, but he retired halfway through the season, despite us trying to convince him to keep playing. That suddenly left us without a senior mentor. I can’t claim that mentoring has been a roaring success so far, but I want to keep working on it since I believe that it can play an important part in a player’s development. One of the main issues when it comes to mentoring for us is that one big factor in how successful it is depends on the difference in first team games between the mentor and mentee. Since we keep bringing in new mentors they start at zero games played, which makes mentoring far from maximised. And since neither of our long-term servants hold the desirable personalities and therefore are unsuitable as mentors, we can’t use them either. I might have solved two problems with one solution though. We brought in Casemiro from Real Madrid.

Casemiro may become our first long-term mentor. At age 31 with a natural fitness of 16 I hope that he will play for at least another three seasons. He sure has the technical and mental abilities together with vast experience to be competitive for several years. Hopefully he’ll play enough games for us to become a really useful mentor for as many years!

5. Play games

This season followed the pattern of the previous ones. We won a few titles, this time the Supercup, the Brazilian Cup and once again the Copa Libertadores. We failed yet again to win the State Championship in our fifth attempt and we weren’t even close in the league.

Flamengo won the league title in comfortable fashion and we finished third.

When it came to individual player performances one player stood out. Renyer stepped out from the shadows, more than doubling his total goal tally after a spectacular season. This didn’t go unnoticed as he was called up to the Brazilian national team three times. Behind him, Talles Magno did what was pretty much expected of him, scoring 29 times, now just one goal shy of that 100 goal mark. Kaio Jorge, former superstar, continues to look tired and uninterested. Sad. Gilberto was a pleasant surprise with 21 goals. Nice with a bit of fresh blood at the top.

6. Sell

You must be thinking that I’m kidding, but we didn’t sell a single player this season either. The Chinese clubs are circling our players like vultures, but European clubs are less than interested. I’m not selling to China, I’d rather keep the players then, making them Santos FC icons. That is not the aim of the series though. Perhaps it’s that simple that none of my players are good enough to be considered the next Neymar, but at least one of them ought to be good enough for Europe!? When I write this as 2023 becomes 2024 at least there is a bit of European interest in a couple of our players. Let’s hope that this interest turns into actual bids, since I’m becoming quite desperate in my strife to get my players to Europe! This is my top 10 as the 2023 season ends. No, wait, there won’t be a top 10 this year. Only a top 6, since I don’t feel that there are more than 6 top talents at the moment. I’m grumpy and frustrated. Here’s your top 6, that’s all you get. Enjoy.

Marcos Leonardo is still our no1, tied Ginga Rating leader, close to 100 Santos goals and a Brazilian international. Renyer moves into 2nd spot based on his amazing season that saw him score 37 goals and play 3 games for Brazil. Talles Magno and Kaio Jorge aren’t improving at all, which means that it’s only their goals scored that keep them ahead of Gilberto and Douglas Jardel.

Summary

I’m tired of writing this and you’re probably just as tired of reading it, but nothing is happening! WE NEED TO MOVE PLAYERS TO EUROPE! That is the main thing. I don’t know how to make this happen though, except for trying to make my players perform as good as possible to attract the interest from European clubs. I want to crawl under my blanket and cry, I’m that frustrated, but that wouldn’t make neither me nor you happier. Instead I’m gonna take the constructive route here and actually focus on what I can influence and simply hope that everything else follows. Therefore, in the next episode I’m going to take the plunge. The plunge into the bottomless pit that is the FM20 training module. Help me god. Help me with training. And while I have your attention, help me to sell my players before I go full atheist on you!

Finally you have a gallery of all the players if you’re into that sort of thing.

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