We completed the first task in rising through the fictional European Super League database by leading Vélez Sarsfield to promotion from the Pepsi Elevation League. But now could we make it back-to-back promotions?
A quick note that I started travelling between writing Part 2 and 3, which meant moving from my Razer laptop and a large monitor to a MacBook that hates the skin I was using, so the images will look a bit different!
In the summer of 2023, the Rest of the World League saw 24 new clubs promoted and 16 relegated (go figure that one out), which are easier to show than list:
Amusingly, the database can’t place teams getting promoted into the correct region. That means we end up in the African league. While Angers, Gent and Levante are in Asia, Millonarios and América de Cali are in Europe, Cagliari and Toulouse are in North America, Bochum, St Pauli and Red Star are in Oceania, Genk, Nurnberg and Salernitana are in South America.
We strengthened by breaking the club’s £2.4m transfer record twice in the same day, bringing in attacker Datro Fofana for £9m from Molde then left-back Riquelme for £12.5m from Vasco. And the transfer window ended with two big deals for players that refused to sign new contracts, as Maximo Perrone went to Trabzonspor for £11.5m and Julian Fernandez joined Leeds for £8.5m.
Into RoW Africa
It’s fair to say we got a massive break by entering RoW Africa, and the lack of quality showed as we were made second favourites to win the league at 5/4, only behind Mallorca at 1/3.
Our first game at the Rest of the World tier took us to ES Sahel and we eased to a 2-0 victory with Fofana scoring on debut alongside striker Walter Bou. We also dominated our first home game against Orlando Pirates as Endrick scored twice but we also let two in against the run of play.
The youngster scored again in the first minute at home to Rosario before a Lucas Janson double inspired a 3-2 win. Janson repeated the fest in a 3-1 win over Wydad Casablanca then scored again after Endrick’s opener in a dominant 2-1 win at Saint-Etienne. Then Endrick and an injury-time Abiel Osorio strike nicked a 2-1 at Estudiantes to send us top for the first time. The strong start continued as we went unbeaten in the first 10 games, including a new club record win as we hammered Viktoria Plzan 7-1 away with Bou and Janson braces and midfielder Franco Diaz bagging four assists. And we confirmed our place at the top of the division by going to favourites Mallorca and winning 1-0 thanks to an Endrick strike.
Endrick bagged a hat-trick while midfielder Mateo Seoane got an assist hat-trick in a 5-1 thumping of Raja Casablanca, which took us 12 points clear after 14 games. Just after the halfway mark, after 18 games, that lead had been stretched to what was realistically already an unassailable 18 points and Endrick topped the goalscoring chart with 18.
The board handed us more transfer budget in January and I splurged £21m of it on attacking midfielder Arsen Zakharyan, which was another new club record transfer. That was swiftly followed by a new club record sale as centre-back Valentin Gomez moved to ES Tunis for a huge £34.5m. We tried to invest that into signing Endrick permanently for mega-money, but he decided he wanted to stay at Palmeiras. However, we already had a ready-made replacement for Gomez in Bojan Kovacevic, who cost £7m, and promising homegrown 17-year-old Juan Manuel Villalba.
A mini-stutter saw us draw a few games but an Endrick hat-trick got us back on track with a 4-0 win at Orlando. And the unbeaten streak finally ended in the 26th league game, losing 2-1 at ES Setif. But we were promoted with ease in mid-February and wrapped up the title a week later, even before the transfer window had closed!
The form dropped off towards the end of the season, but we still won the league by some margin. Endrick went on to smash the club’s goals in a season record as he scored all four at home to St. Etienne, taking home to 40 for the campaign and surpassing the record of 36 held by Carlos Bianchi since 1972.
We eventually finished the league 23 points clear of nearest challenger Mallorca, losing just twice, scoring 90 goals and conceding 31. Endrick was top scorer with 34, along with the highest average rating of 7.93, followed by Díaz (7.51) and Bou (7.35), and 13 player of the match awards. Díaz and Bou topped the assists chart with 13 and 11 respectively.
Big-Money Cup Competitions
Endrick became the youngest-ever goalscorer in the RoW Trophy cup competition as Velez eased past Wellington Phoenix in the first round, which earned them a cool £5m. We eased past Rapid Wien 7-4 on aggregate and Rayo Vallecano 6-3 on aggregate but lost to Fluminense in the quarter-final.
As if the cash rewards weren’t enough, we also competed in the Mandela Prize Cup, which also paid £1m for a win and £5m for progressing through a round. We eased past AmaZulu in the second round then beat Bragantino 2-1 away but again lost in the quarter-finals to a Brazilian side, losing 2-1 to Internacional.
We got offers from the likes of Fluminense and Palmeiras over the summer, but turned them down as they were either in a more diffiuclt division at the same level or at a higher level. And the Velez board rewarded that faith with a new 3-year deal on £11.5k a week.
Endrick Inspires A Dominant Campaign
Endrick was easily our best player this season, racking up a new club-record 40 goals plus 14 assists in 43 games. He’s been amazing again and, despite not agreeing personal terms, he did agree to another loan that includes an optional fee of £60m.
Other top performers were Janson, who scored 24 in 41 but tailed off towards the end of the campaign, Bou with 14 goals and 13 assists, Díaz with a club-high 18 assists and 13 goals, Fofana who improved a lot at the end of the season and got 12 goals and 10 assists and Riquelme, who got 12 assists from left-back.
How will Vélez fare in the second-tier Next Level League? And how much money will we have to strengthen? Join us next Wednesday to find out!
Class mate love to see it!
btw in the relegation/promotion image it shows who went dwon from the tier above and who went up from the tier below, i can assure you that it all adds up correctly haha
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Haha yeah I think the graphic is just skewed, it seemed to do that every season for some reason..