The Journeyman | Saving Sporting: Part 15 – Season 3 Reflection

I normally like to summarise the season just gone within the last post of the season, but this time around the finale to Primeira Liga was too frantic for that!

The post below from my social feed sums up how I felt at the end of the season. We’d been good all season but the title looked well beyond us with two months to go, and when we got thrashed by Benfica it looked all over. But Porto’s late collapse in their last three away matches was staggering.

But now, with the players on holiday before we meet up for a pre-season session in Brazil… can’t wait!… here’s a look back at another successful Sporting season.

Season 3 in numbers

Sporting Lisbon defended the Premieira Liga title for the second time and reached the League Cup Final, where we lost to arch nemesis Benfica, who also beat us in the Super Cup and thumped us 4-1 in the league.

We had a number of top performers this season, but the standout one has to be right winger Goncalo Meneses. Having come through our academy in the first season, Meneses’ first season in the first team saw him score 10 league goals and claim 13 assists, with 14 goals and 18 assists in total.

That saw Meneses claim the award for most assists in Primeira Liga in his debut season as a professional footballer! Braganca came second in the award.

The other big mention has to be midfield playmaker Daniel Braganca. He broke the league record with an average rating of 7.73 and started every single match during the defence of our title. Braganca scored 12 goals and created 16 in a standout season. He’s now become a truly exceptional player for this league, and has plenty of teams around Europe showing an interest in him.

Pedro Mendes was our top goalscorer with 20 goals in all competitions. However, he finished the season in dire form with no goals in the last 7 matches and scoring just twice in the 19 games he played since the turn of 2022. I promoted youngster Philip Cohen ahead of him and the Englishman scored 4 times in the last 4 games, which saw him finish as our fourth-highest scorer with 10 goals. I suspect he’ll be first choice at just 17 next season.

Joelson Fernandes was our third highest scorer with 12 goals, Jovane Cabral got 6 and Rodrigo Fernandes, captain Sebastian Coates and Ronan Darcy all got 5.

Braganca led the way in highest ratings with 7.67 in 47 matches in all competitions, and Cohen came in second with 7.42 in 20 matches. Other top performers were Meneses (7.41), left-back Nuno Mendes (7.37 from 18 games) and Idrissa Doumbia (7.35 in 45).

Looking ahead to next season, I’m keen to see how many of the youngsters in our Under 23s squad, which won its league too, are ready to step up for the first team. And, whether we get any big offers for the many players who have the biggest clubs in Europe after them.

End of season awards

Braganca took home the fans’ player of the season award with one of the most dominant votes I’ve seen on FM. He claimed 75% of the vote with his nearest challengers being Meneses on 10% and Doumbia on 9%. Doumbia won goal of the season with a trademark screamer, Cohen won signing of the season, and Braganca also won young player of the season – it’s easy to forget he’s still only 22!

Most of the stats round-up has been covered, but an interesting fact is that we didn’t receive a single red card all season.

While another interesting point is that winger Cabral has recently become a team leader alongside Coates and Doumbia, but Braganca isn’t yet despite being the vice-captain.

European leagues in focus

Speaking of Europe, here’s what happened in the major leagues in 2021/22.

Real Madrid won La Liga for the first time in this save, racking up 98 points and finishing 7 clear of Barcelona. And Manchester City defended their Premier League title with 91 points, 11 clear of Chelsea. Newcastle got relegated with Norwich and Crystal Palace.

Nothing’s changed in Italy, with Juventus remaining dominant. But Dortmund stopped Bayern’s winning run in Bundesliga and Lyon won their first Ligue 1 title since 2008 to deny PSG.

In a repeat of what happened 12 months previously, Manchester City won the Champions League by beating PSG on penalties after a 0-0 draw. PSG have lost in the final every single season in this save! While City actually claimed a mad sextuple. Weirdly, Napoli won the Europa League on penalties after a 0-0 draw with Marseille.

Our payout for Champions League involvement pushed out finances past the £200 million mark for the first time. And that’s pretty impressive given our balance was £8 million at the very start of the save three years ago!

Join us next time as we look to rebuild for another defence of the Primeira Liga from ever-strengthening Benfica and Porto. Oh, and there’s the winter World Cup in Qatar kicking off in November.

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