February 17, 2023

Pentagon XI:  New Country, New Trophies

Pentagon XI:  New Country, New Trophies 


I have a problem. Despite qualifying for Europe, against the odds, the guy who got us there isn’t staying. Michele Croce, of Napoli, has finally gotten so good that Napoli are going to play him*. So we need to replace his 20+ goals a season, which he’s banged in every year since 3. Liga. We’re also losing Baptiste Delhaye and his 12 assists. Plus Julius Allentoft and his rigid defending. None of these players are interested in another season. They’ve improved and want to play somewhere good.  


*Play, sell to Bayern Munich, same thing.


As per usual, I’ve done some summer business! I don’t even remember who half these guys are. It’s all the fucking children my scouts have recommended. I think most of them are Belgian after we had some joy extensively scouting there last season.  



Vasco Walz (free) – didn’t make the grade, was trash on loan last season 

Alexandre Azevedo (free) – the second time I’ve gotten rid of him 

Abdramane Zagre (Unterhaching, free) – remember how jazzed I was to sign this guy? That I broke the club’s finances to do it? This represents £29,500 off our wage bill  

Afonso Martins (Holsten Kiel, free) – I thought he did fine but he wanted to leave 

Jorge Marsiglia (St Pauli, free) – Did the job I needed him to. He was the older hand to stabilise the team. He’s now too old and is gone.  

David Sordo (Aris, free) – I fucked up here and missed his contract renewal so he’s left on a free instead of banking us £20M or so.  



Sebastian Stachowiak (Brisbane Roar, £1.6M) – a tall, strong centre back. He could start but I’ll be looking to see what else is out there. He’s happy as a squad player 

Matias Canete (Instituto ACC, £925k) – back up keeper from Argentina. Is happy to be a backup. Huge potential 

Andre Rainho (Porto, £500k) – decent midfielder, big potential 

Noe Van Herck (Lierse, £500k) – Only 17, again has big potential  




Porto are in for me.  


Normally, if I was playing this as a normal save, I would turn down this move. I’d rather be a growing fish in a big German pond than a big fish in a Portuguese pond. However, Porto are two years ahead of where I am at Paderborn. They’re already in the Champions League and the aim of this save is to win the Pentagon. As much as I’ve loved being Paderborn manager, winning the Champions League with them will take at least another 3-5 years. I’m gutted I have to make this decision but it’s a simple question of moving closer to the end game of winning the Pentagon. I probably won’t come back to this save file but just in case I do, I’ve deliberately saved it here so the Paderborn save can continue at some point.  


My first port of call is the tactics screen to dump in the usual 4-4-2 and fucking hell, these players are good. I don’t think they need to buy anyone and there’s depth everywhere. We should have an easy time of it in Liga Portugal, although Porto finished second behind Benfica last year. The year before Braga won the title and Porto didn’t make the top three. Porto have only won 2 titles in the decade of in game time. They did win the Europa League last year however, which puts them bang into the Champions League group stage.  

I only have three pre-season friendlies to figure out the best XI. I’ve gone with this. Zimmerman is the only player I’ve signed. I could never afford him, and he was available from Anderlecht. Great goalkeeper. Enormous potential. Alago is something of a wonderkid. He just about edges out Tanganga at centre back. Galarza is complaining of playing time but he’s ideal for DLP so in he goes. Ferreyra wasn’t first choice on the wing until I saw him play. I can’t even remember who my original choice was. The front two; there are options. Fachinger looks the best bet for goals while Aarflot is a facilitator. We also have Kelvin Yeboah as an advanced option. Miller Ribeiro is an AMC but can also play up top. Finding a place for him is tricky. He is arguably our top prospect. We also have Luciano Inverso, who scored a few in pre-season. Porto’s squad is, in general, very strong. We should contend the title. Champions League is going to be way tougher.  

Most of pre-season is spent assessing existing players and filling out our backroom staff. No chaotic transfer window for a change. In all fairness, Porto is a big strong squad. I don’t need to throw money around here. Just move the parts into the right place. New coaches include Virgil van Dijk and Ciro Immobile. Based on the graph above, I’ve done a decent job of it.  

Would it be my team without Papa Diakite? He joins us again in a scouting capacity. He has now spent almost the entire journey by my side. You may notice all his tactical stuff is the exact opposite of mine. We argue a lot over pints. It’s delightful. A lot of pundits get on Porto’s case but they go into the season thrashing Santa Clara 5-1 on an island jaunt to the Azores. Andres Fachinger scores a hattrick. He only scored 2 goals all last season. This guy only has 31 career goals before this season. Then, second game of the season, he scores twice as we beat Roma in the UEFA Super Cup. Yes, we beat the champions of Europe. Admittedly, by scoring twice in the last minute.  

The beauty of the Portuguese league is being able to rest players. If you’re playing a team called B-SAD (is that an instruction?) then Fachinger can have a nice sit down back at the base. Luciano Inverso comes in up top and scores. Goals from Ribeiro and Aarflot too. Fachinger actually complains about his playing time after this, which is just bizarre. If you’ve never managed in Portugal there’s basically only four teams (Porto, Benfica, Sporting and Braga). Sometimes a bunch of jobbers sneak in there. Vitoria de Guimaraes have a P2 finish in the past decade. It won’t happen again.  


Michele Croce, legendary striker, is available. I tried to table a bid and they want £61M for him. He’s already considering moves to Bayern, Leipzig and Milan. I’m not exaggerating when I say he’s probably the best striker in the game of his age. Of course he signed for Bayern.  


Our first defeat came in a 3-1 loss to Braga. We were quite bad. Miller Ribeiro was a passenger. Increasingly it’s apparent he’s an exceptional talent but wants to be an enganche. He wants to sit in the 10 hole and try to be clever.  That’s not an option. 

I hate the new Champions League. It’s a move designed on greed alone. Eight games against a variety of teams. Can’t I just get drawn into a group? This is so bad. There are 36 teams involved in the league. You finish top 8, and you go through to the R16. 9-24 play off to make up the numbers. It’s a mixed bag of fixtures. Our next league game is a 7-0 drubbing of Farense. I probably won’t bother mentioning most of the league matches this season because, it’s a cakewalk. Champion’s League next though; versus the champions of Germany, Bayer Leverkusen.  

We fucking cooked these sons of bitches. Our centre back scored a hattrick! Three headers from set pieces and a Franca scorcher.  

DEJA FREAKIN VU BABY! We slap Monaco 4-1 too. Fachinger with a brace. Yeboah comes off the bench to add two more. We are so fucking good. It helps that inherited a brilliant squad and just added a goalkeeper.  

This was my opening day running at this division. Braga aside, we’ve crushed it. Our next cup game is against Varzim, which puts us in an interesting position. This is a team that’s already lost to our B team this season. So, naturally, we lose 4-3 to them in a hilarious encounter. Maybe I should have fielded the B Team.  

When FM announced Champions League branding and whatnot, I was pretty nonplussed about it but this bit of pre-match animation where the ref picks the ball up is the best graphical improvement in a decade.  

I really like all the bits of Champions League branding. Am I showing you this because we won again? Maybe. Three games. Three wins. 12 goals. 9 points should be enough for a play-off place at the very least. Fachinger is cooking in front of goal. I feel bad for the other strikers because they’re all scoring but he’s getting the plaudits. I looked at my ‘starting XI’ pic from the start of the season and we’ve basically stuck to that, but everyone is getting game time, and everyone is on the same page. I’ve not had players pick up on the style and formation this quickly before. It’s a joy, honestly.  

Match day four and we head over to Ajax in the first of two challenging away games. We play excellent football and win quite comfortably in the end, albeit by only one goal. 4 wins out of 4. 1000-1 are we? Let’s see about that.  

Next up in the wacky world of Champions League ball is a state funded team, who are only good because a fascist dictator wanted to sportswash his regime. No, it’s not Newcastle, it’s Real Madrid! They’re not having a good season though. Currently in P5, having drawn 5 of their opening 13 games. In the Champions League they’re in P16, having lost to Bayern and Newcastle. I have no doubt they’ll make the knock outs and they’re our toughest challenge to date. The squad still boasts a host of stars; Militao, Tchouameni, Valverde, Vini Jr etc. They’ve not had a stunning newgen appear like Man City and PSG though. The final score was 2-0 Real, but we missed a penalty at 0-0 and they didn’t score until 72’ so that’s promising. If only Joao Mario’s penalty had gone in, it could have been a different game. We also lost 1-0 to Real Sociedad. We can’t play in Spain apparently. Allergic to Spanish grass.  

Due to our opening 4 wins, we’re still in the automatic places for the R16 though. The two remaining games are Olympiacos and Salzburg, both at home. We should, fingers crossed, be into the R16 and hopefully get a less shitty draw. It’s around here that my team leaders get on my case about playing Andrew Ventura, the reserve goalkeeper. I’m told, in no uncertain terms, that if I don’t play him I will lose my job. I tell them to fuck off and transfer list all of them. This is why you don’t win things, you’re demanding a bad goalkeeper play games. I won’t be dictated to, you fucks. Keeping in mind, our starting keeper has been outstanding, we’re top of the league and flying in Europe. What is wrong with you cunts?  


Andrew, whose name seems to have magically changed to “Cunty Ventura”, rejects a move to Aris after I’d agreed a £15M fee. I’m fuming. Get out of my club. The January transfer window has potential to be a bit chaotic, which is bad. It’s bad because of UEFA’s rules regarding mid-season changes in Champions League registration. I’m going to try and restrain myself.  



Maxi Perrone (Brentford, £12.5M) – he’s sat on the bench all season and this is good money, the upper end of his guide value 

Joao Mario (Braga, end of contract) – he was on insane money so I tried to sell him and instead he’s signed for Braga at the end of the season. He’s 32 and will actively damage Braga so that’s a bonus.  

Luciano Inverso (Fenerbahce, £3.5M) – this guy is so fucking good but I don’t play a formation that suits him because he doesn’t defend. He’s barely played and wants to be a regular starter so he’s off. The good news is that Johnson Razak, the right winger who can defend, has snubbed a move to Almeria after demanding a transfer.  

Luciano Ferrerya (Aston Villa, £6M) – another winger on the way out. He was my starting left winger but lost his place to Diaz after a series of poor performances. Also allowed to leave because of the rise to prominence of Geslin Kabamba who can play either wing.  

Andrew “Cunty” Ventura (NEC, £10M) – thank christ, he finally left. He rejected a few moves before this one. He’s been an incredible disruption this season. Good riddance.  




Ilie Ailoae (Ludogorets, £4.4M) – pronounced “hey Louis”, he’s been recommended after we played Ludogorets in the CL. He’s a versatile central defender who had a low release clause 

Santiago Catalfamo (River Plate, £6.25M) – I know we don’t really need a wonderkid striker what with our current strikers banging them in, but this guy fucking rules.  

Carlos Espinoza (Monterrey, £8.5M) – a goalkeeper that I’ve overpaid for because I thought Andrew would fuck off for £15M. Sigh. 

Alessandro Barba (Milan, loan) – with so many wingers requesting transfers I’ve had to get in a cover player. He injures his ankle immediately and is out for 2 months.  


Back into Champions League action we have Olympiacos in our penultimate game. We win 4-0 with two quality finishes from Elias Aarflot before Kelvin Yeboah and Arnau Comas make sure of things late on. The win puts us in P5 with one game left. A win against Red Bull Salzburg will officially qualify us for the R16.  

As you can see, our fate is in our own hands. We’re surrounded by some powerhouses of European football. In the Portuguese league, we’re top in late January, and have a home game with Benfica. We win 2-1 with goals from Fachinger and Comas.  

A result that puts us well in the driving seat for the Portuguese title. We are COOKING in January. We’ve been fantastic. Back in the CL, we just about squeak past Salzburg 2-1 to secure our place in the R16. 6 wins from 8 games and 18 points is above what I was expecting from this campaign. I believe we have significantly overachieved here. The teams who automatically qualify for R16 are PSG, Arsenal, Bayern, Roma, Milan, Porto, Man City and Monaco. Considering we whupped Monaco, I wouldn’t mind playing them but sadly it doesn’t work that way. A bunch of heavy hitters will have to play off including Real Madrid, Juventus, Benfica, Man Utd, Newcastle, Inter, Dortmund, Spurs and Barcelona. No huge teams miss out entirely, which is part of the point of this super league-esque expansionism. Unless you think Celtic and Ajax are big teams.  

It’s fair to say that January was a good month for us. 9 games, 9 wins. 5 of those wins featured 4 goals. We roll into February and Benfica give us a hiding, 4-1. It’s the first time we’ve been outplayed and it’s a little unsettling that our two hard away games (this one and Braga) we’ve been soundly beaten. We bounce back by putting 7 past Farense so I’m not overly concerned. We beat Farense 14-1 on aggregate across our two league games! In the Champions League, Real Madrid get themselves knocked out by Bayer Leverkusen.  

Oooh, fancy! We are seeded so we can only play unseeded teams like Barcelona, Inter, Juventus, Newcastle, Leverkusen, Man Utd or Spurs. Possibly Benfica? Not sure we can actually draw them.  

Ah, beautiful! Brendan Rodgers’ Bayer Leverkusen. Probably the easiest draw possible.  

Fuck. It was a close game, but we end up two goals down from the first leg. My boy Santiago Catalfamo popping up with a deuce. We are now at the level where Porto are going to find games hard. It’s also disappointing we led at half time and still lost. My only complaint about the game is that their fourth goal was lucky, a deflected shot landed at Garnacho’s feet, but other than that the result was the correct one. Something that I’ve not really mentioned is that due to rotation Fachinger is getting the same sort of game time as Kelvin Yeboah but Yeboah plays against the shitty teams. So, Yeboah has a career best goals tally of 21 from only 11 starts.  

What a turnaround it is in the second leg. We absolutely wipe the floor with Leverkusen. Catalfamo was outstanding and bagged a hat-trick. Johnny, in for the suspended Matheus Franca, hit a screamer to open the scoring. We’re into the quarter finals, where it goes from tough to near impossible.  

And we’ve got Manchester United so that’s the end of that. I looked at their squad. They have reserve players I would kill to get in. They have players on the bench that would shit all over the Portuguese first division. They are a global superpower, and we are boned here. Not that it would be any easier if we’d drawn Man City, PSG or Bayern. I looked at Man Utd’s team and they have Evanilson, formally of Porto, and he’s on the bench. He’s a better striker than anyone I have. Their starting striker is a guy called Brecht Van Den Berg, who looks terrifying. He’s worth £235M.  

In the league Braga will not go away. We’re struggling to keep pace with them as they win every game. Everyone else has completely fallen off, including Benfica, who I thought would be our biggest threat. We have 19 points on Benfica. Bad news hits for the Man Utd game as both full backs (Furlan and Tauriainen) get injured. Leaving us with Tanganga and Arroyo to start. We were in trouble already, that does not help. After 28 games we’re still neck and neck with Braga on 72 points. 76 points won the fucking league last year. We still play Braga in the league before the season is over. Could be a title decider.  

Here we go then, Champion’s League Quarter-Final. Arnau Comas picks a hell of a moment to do the dumbest thing of the season; giving the ball to Marcus Rashford in our own penalty area. We were outplaying Man Utd until that point, and their keeper was man of the match. 1-0 United to go into the second leg at Old Trafford. It’s not ideal. At Old Trafford we start well and go ahead from the penalty spot. We should score again but go in 1-1 at HT. In the second half Man Utd just blow us away and Van Den Berg scores a hat-trick. Man Utd were good over a quarter of the tie and ended up winning 4-1. It hardly seems fair but our top players didn’t do the business and you can’t play badly for any time against the top sides. Unlucky lads. We gave it a go.  


Back in the league we’ve already qualified for next season’s Champions League and Braga have started to bottle it. After a dodgy 1-1 draw with Boavista they throw away a lead to lose to Vitoria de Guimaraes. They still have to come and play us. They’re fucked lads. We barely scrape a 1-0 win against Vizela by scoring in the 90+3’. Oh, we had a cup final too. Wanna see how we did?  

Hahaha. We did a madness here. Sure, Benfica had a player sent off at 1-1 but we all know 10 men are overpowered. If anything it makes my achievement more awesome. This is only Porto’s third Allianz Cup. IRL they’ve never won it!  

We have a bizarre 3-3 draw with Braga where if we’d won, we would win the league. This is Braga’s positioning on their injury time equalizer. Yes, he is offside. He’s clearly offside. We even get a replay with the lines drawn on the pitch and he’s fucking miles offside. How has VAR allowed that to stand?  

Fucking look at this bullshit! I’m enraged! I’m so angry I don’t notice the game hasn’t finished. There’s another highlight. We go straight back up their end and score. 4-3. CHAMPIONS.  

Absolute nonsense. I love it to bits. Incidentally, on xG, we should have won 6-1. We had so many highlights. Mad finish to a mad season though. A note on that win; every team I’ve managed has won three different trophies.  


Season over, Man City vs. PSG is the Champion’s League final. It’s two weeks after the Portuguese season wraps up so I don’t know who the winner is. Porto win their division by 9 points ahead of Braga, who have a comedy 5-2 home loss to Rio Ave to end the season. Benfica finish third, Sporting fourth, blah, blah, blah.  


NEXT: Porto to the top? Or are we looking out for the next step to glory? A bigger team faltering and in need of a winner at the helm? We shall see.  


TO DATE:       

Asian Champions League: Champions (Brisbane Roar, 2028)    

African Champions League: N/A        

UEFA Champions League: Quarter Finals (Porto, 2032)     

North American Champions League: N/A       

Copa Libertadores: N/A     

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