Following our piece on lower league teams to manage, I had the urge to start a new save. There were many good options, but one club sparked my interest. União da Madeira are a provincial club based on the Portuguese island of Madeira, a small rocky archipelago just off the coast of Morocco.
Birthplace of one Cristiano Ronaldo, Madeira has a rich footballing history. The first ever game of football in Portugal was played on Madeira, in 1875, introduced by an English resident. From there, it spread to mainland Portugal. As a result, three of the oldest Portuguese clubs are found on the small island.
There are three major clubs in Funchal, the island’s capital: Maritimo are considered the biggest club, having played in Europe many times, most recently in 2010/11. Behind them are Nacional, Ronaldo’s club as a boy and currently in the Primeira Liga. Both of these clubs were founded in 1910. Three years later, União were formed, playing in the islands colours, blue and yellow.
There is a strong rivalry between União and the other clubs on the island, particularly with Maritimo. The two clubs shared a stadium, until 2008 when Maritimo purchased Estádio dos Barreiros and made União homeless. Since then they have played in five different stadiums across Funchal before settling in the council owned Centro Desportivo.
União da Madeira were in the Portuguese top flight as recently as 2016, but after two relegations in three years find themselves in the third tier of Portuguese football. With a relatively strong squad for their division, it is my aim to lead them back to the top flight of Portuguese football and beyond.
My aims for the save are as follows:
- Gain Promotion to the Primeira Liga – Preferably via back-to-back promotions
- Challenge for a Portuguese League Title.
- Establish União da Madeira as the biggest club in Madeira.
- Have a stadium built for the club.
- Qualify for European Football.
First on the list, and most importantly, we needed to secure promotion to the Portuguese Second League as soon as possible.
The Portuguese Championship (3rd Tier) is split into four Groups of 18, with the top 2 teams from each group going into a knockout tournament. The two finalists of the Tournament are promoted to the Portuguese Second League. As one of the best teams in my Group, I knew I would have to play attacking football if I was going to achieve promotion.
Based on the players at my disposal, I opted for a 4-2-4 formation. I decided to take inspiration from an overlapping tactic I had used previously, and adapt it to work down both flanks.
The general idea is to hit teams hard and fast, whether that’s building from the back or winning the ball high and springing a quick counter. We aim to control possession and play high and wide to find space in the opposition back line.
The two Central Midfielders are there to sit deep and allow the rest of my players to push as high as possible – think Doucouré and Capoue at Watford. I used DLPs and other variations at times to test which was more effective.
The Poacher is there to hang on the last man to create space for the rest of the attackers, who we are looking at to score most of the goals. I’m expecting the Inside Forwards to start wide then drive inside, allowing the wing backs to overlap when we have the ball.
In the example below you can see how one long ball forward can cause chaos in the opposition box. Aldair drifts away from his marker at the back post, to create space to score.
High and Wide Inside Forwards causing chaos.
I tend to be quite an adaptive manager, changing my instructions on a game by game basis. However there are some instructions that I used in every game.
- Work Ball Into Box – Stops players shooting from outside the area
- Focus Down Flanks – To create overloads in wide areas
- Higher Tempo – Overrun teams of lower quality
- Distribute Quickly – Look to spring counter attacks
- Counter-Press – Win back possession quickly
- More Urgent Pressing – As above
I want to dominate possession as much as possible, and counter attack teams with pace when we win the ball back. I want to win by scoring more that the opponent.
We finished top of the group by a mile, twenty points clear, only losing one game. We scored a hat full of goals, with loanee Ricardo Almeida (DLF) bagging 23. But the job wasn’t done yet.
Now we had the Play-Offs to contend with. First we coasted past Loures who placed 2nd in Group C, winning 4-1 on aggregate. Next we faced Felgueiras, 2nd in Group A, winning 3-0 on aggregate, and securing promotion to the Second Division. We lost the final 1-0 to fellow promotion winners Real, but I wasn’t too concerned. We had achieved promotion and that was the most important thing.
Promotion to the Portuguese Second League came fairly easily, and was expected. The next step will be much more hard fought. Next season we will aim to strengthen as much as possible over the summer, and attempt a push towards the Primeira League. União da Madeira are on their way back to the top flight of Portuguese football.
This year I’ve played four saves and this is the first one I’ve really connected with. I’m really enjoying writing about this save, and hopefully I can take it much further in the future. In the next post I will look at how our second season went and how I adapted to promotion. Oh and also an interesting appointment as Assistant Manager…
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed my piece. More are on the way, you can also check out more of my content here. Check out DtG Social Media below.
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- FM19 Guide | Adjusting to Promotion