Grupo Desportivo de Chaves


May 10, 2018
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New Manager At Chaves

I've arrived in Portugal to take over as the new manager of Grupo Desportivo de Chaves, or GD Chaves for short, or just Chaves for even shorter. I will be the club's first ever English manager and only the second manager that isn't Portuguese to take over at the club since 1984 (at least - getting my information from Wikipedia as I take over here).


So what's the aim of my Chaves career? Number 1 Objective: Establish Chaves as a top tier regular. Chaves are back in the top division of Portuguese football for the first time in three years and didn't come up as champions, so we have a task on our hands in the first season just to keep them up. The first job as manager is to do just that and then start to establish ourselves as competitors at this level.

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Objective Number 2: End The Domestic Dominance Of The Top 4 - Portuguese football has one of the most dominant top 4s in European and possibly even world football. Sporting Lisbon, Benfica, Porto and Braga generally fill all top 4 spots in the league every season, just in different orders. No other side has won the league since Boavista in 2000/01 and only 6 seasons out of the last 30 have seen a different side enter the top 3. No other side has finished in the top 3 since Pacos de Ferreira in 2012/13. Our aim will be to break this dominance and become a regular top 3 finisher.


Objective Number 3: Win Some Stuff - Chaves have never won any of the top Portuguese domestic trophies so I'm going to be looking to lead them to all of them during my time at the club. The domestic trophies to tick off will be Liga Portugal BWin, Taca de Portugal Placard and the Allianz Cup. It would be great to complete a league and cup double or maybe even a treble at some point too.


Objective Number 4: Win A European Trophy - I could go all out and say win the Champions League here, but the fact that Chaves are nowhere near qualifying for any sort of European trophy as I take over, if I could lift silverware in any of Europe's major three tournaments, it would be a solid achievement!


Objective Number 5: Match The Top Setups In The Country - Portuguese football is renowned across the world for clubs having some of the best youth setups and academies out there. They constantly churn out wonderkids for fun and during my career at Chaves, I'll be looking to encourage the club to continually invest in the club's facilities so we can match the likes of Benfica, Sporting and Porto for producing some of the world's best. At the moment, we are some way off!


Objective Number 6: Lead Portugal To A World Cup Win - At some point in the save, I'd like to bag the Portugal national job with the aim of winning the World Cup with them. Hopefully, by the time that comes around, we would have 1 or 2 Chaves players in that national side too.


So let's get this on the road! I'm looking forward to this!
JULY 2022

The squad I have available to me isn't the worst in the world, considering we are predicted to 16th of 18 in the league this season. Well not according to my assistant manager's star ratings anyway, which sometimes leave plenty to be desired.

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My most creative player in the squad is attacking midfielder Joao Teixeira and going forward I will be looking to build our attacking play around him. He should be the focal point for most of our moves going forward and I'll be looking to his artistry to make plenty of chances.

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Backing him up in central midfield as the workhorse of the team is Joao Pedro. He's recently joined the club from Tondela where he made 106 league appearances and becomes one of our best players upon his arrival.

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At the heart of our defence, my best available centre back is not one of our own. With what is going on in Ukraine at the moment, Nelson Monte has returned to Portugal on loan from Dnipro for the season. We're glad to have him here as without him, my defence would be pretty poor.

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I have to admit I am initially worried about my attacking options. We don't have many and what we do have doesn't look fantastic. Hector is the best striker in the side, but he doesn't strike me as a man that will net 20 goals a season which is really what you have to be looking for from your main striker. Hopefully he will surprise me.

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To a certain extent, I have got to make do with what I've got as there's not exactly an abundance of funds available for me to spend. The club is stable enough but the transfer budget is tiny and the wage budget only has £5k spare too.

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So working with what I have, this is the tactic I have come up with. It focuses on the core strengths of the team and ensures my best players are playing in their preferred roles, whilst fitting the mediocre players around them to compliment the stars. I want us to attack teams with a high press and when we have it, move the ball around quickly and efficiently to get it to the front players to create opportunities and take shots. I have a keeper with a kicking attribute of 17/20 so I'm looking to exploit that by asking him to distribute it wide to the flanks and quickly when he has the ball to instigate counter attacks and hopefully catch our opponents off guard. I've given the team as much expressive freedom as possible and the wing backs will be expected to get forward and support the play out wide, with the two centre mids dropping in as a box to box and ball winner to cover them when they push. It's an intense tactic, so the likelihood is I won't want to play like this for 90 minutes every game, but I have a plan for that.

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That plan is to go to something not quite so intensive. It's a bit more defensive, has us controlling and passing the ball around a bit more, whilst wasting some time when we have the opportunity too. It shouldn't all of a sudden invite loads of pressure, but it should allow the players just to step off the gas a little and have a bit of a breather. I'll almost always move to this if we are winning by 1 or 2 goals towards the last 10 minutes of each half.

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Now the squad and tactics are done, it was time to sit down with the board and see what they want from me. The 5 year plan is in line with my own to be fair. This season, become established in the top tier and from there become recognised as the best of the rest within 4-5 seasons.

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August/September 2022

Pre Season...

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Joao Teixeira will be my first ever captain at the club. He's the best player in the team and has decent leadership attributes, so he was the most logical choice.

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My first and only permanent signing for the club is Matthieu Saunier. The experience French centre back has been without a club for over a year after being released by Lorient and should be grateful for the opportunity we have given him to play again. We needed a centre back, he was available for nothing, he's as good as any other centre back at the club, it's a good deal all round.

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The odds for my first season in charge naturally have the big 4 well out in front of the rest, with Porto edging the bookies pick over Benfica, although any of the top 4 could lift the title in all honesty. Our odds of 600/1 means we should be gearing up for a long, hard campaign.

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It's fair to say our first few fixtures hadn't exactly been kind to us as we were handed games against the likes of Porto, Benfica and Vitoria de Guimaraes all within our first 5! Despite that though, the first couple of months have seen us make an impressive start winning 4 of our opening 7 games with the most recent two being by nice 3-0 and 4-0 margins!

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The pick of the bunch was most definitely that 2-1 win over Porto! Despite going 1-0 down relatively early on, the team fought back valiantly and took a massive 3 points. We were dominant in possession and although Porto had 30 shots at our goal we held on for dear life for the victory.

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And it's fair to say we were unlucky not to beat Benfica as well, with their equalizer coming as late as the 93rd minute!

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When I saw the fixture list, I could have only dreamed of being 5th after 7 matches!

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When I first came here, I was quite open about my concerns that Hector wouldn't be good enough to lead the front line that effectively. But my main man up front proved me wrong in the first month of the season at least, with his form even being good enough to land both the first and second Player of the Month awards of the year.

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And he's actually leading the early race for the golden boot as well! Keep proving me wrong Hector, keep proving me wrong son!

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October/November 2022

The first match of October saw us make it 3 wins in a row in the league as we beat Estoril. It was also our 3rd clean sheet in a row as well! We then made it 5 games unbeaten as we get a point away at Boavista...another side that is predicted to finish in the top half so this again was a good result.

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However, we won't be progressing in the Taca de Portugal this year after a disappointing performance saw us knocked out by lower league opposition from the division below.

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Our next 4 league games threw up a mix of results starting with an expected defeat against Braga. However, there would be no better way to follow up that defeat than by beating the league leaders at the time - they were dominant in possession but we created plenty of chances and defended well to pick up an amazing result.

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After 13 games, we are defying all the odds and exceeding every expectation in the league and sit 5th in the table. Before the season kicked off, we were targeting 35 points as the benchmark to secure safety, but right now it looks like we're cruising to and beyond that tally.

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Then, before the break for the World Cup, we would play all three group games of the Allianz Cup in the space of 9 days. I wanted us to perform better in this competition than we had in the other domestic cup, but things started in the worst possible way as we were beaten by Vizela! I was starting to think we weren't much of a cup team, but the lads proved me wrong as we pulled off a shock win over Braga in the next fixture which kept us in with a chance to qualify for the knockout stages, although only the group winners go through.

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We got the job done against Leixoes in pretty comfortable fashion and Braga did us the favour we needed in the other game, so we do go through to the quarter final of the competition.

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Other than Braga finishing bottom of our group, the biggest surprise of the group stage was probably Sporting Lisbon not qualifying as Maritimo won their group. The quarter final draw pits us against Boavista and the draw scheduled the fixture that every other team left in the competition wanted to see...Porto vs Benfica!

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We've had a bit of a change in dynamics up front over the past couple of months. Although Hector had started the season in sensational form and won Player of the Month for August and September, Jo has worked his way into the side and is now keeping our first choice striker out of the side after he has scored 5 in his last 5!

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December 2022

A preview of this season's youth intake suggests is will be a good one.

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There have been a few teams sniffing around my best player (Hellas Verona and Lille), Joao Teixeira for the past couple of weeks and with the Janauary transfer window coming up, I was getting nervous. So I'm pleased to have tied him down to a new contract which should hopefully put off any clubs who were preparing a mid season bid.

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We would only have two matches to play in December due to the World Cup, which was won by England!! Portugal made it to the quarter final stage and were knocked out by Croatia.

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The first of our two fixtures would be the Allianz Cup quarter final, but unfortunately we won't be progressing any further after a tight game against Boavista went to the lottery of a penalty shootout and on this occasion it wasn't our lucky day.

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Before we played our 1 league fixture of the month, we had some bad news on the injury front. Centre back, Matthieu Saunier, who has become a first team regular since his arrival, will miss up to 7 weeks of action!

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That league game was against Vizela who had beaten us in the cup last month, but we got a nice bit of revenge for that! Good to see Hector back on the scoresheet as he banged one in from the bench.

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The win would mean we would finish the year 2022 firmly in the mix for European qualification in my first season in charge. However, with more than half the season still to go, we certainly won't get ahead of ourselves just yet.

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My performance thus far definitely had the board and supporters very, very happy!

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