We've hit the halfway stage and, after a reasonably indifferent start, and an inconsistent July, we're now unbeaten in our last 12 games and starting to look like we can put some real pressure on Corinthians.
The big news comes at the bottom, where Flamengo find themselves in the relegation zone. I think they'll be fine, but it goes to show you that poor form in a competitive league can see you in a world of trouble.
Campeões! It was a great second half of the season, aided somewhat by something of a collapse from Corinthians. We had a tough run in October, but I knew that if we got through that still within touching distance of Corinthians, and the dangerous Internacional, then we'd be in with half a chance. Nine wins from our last eleven games took us away from both of them and our total of 84 points is the highest since the save began and more than enough to secure a first ever Brasileirao title for Santa Cruz.
One stat I do like is the amount currently spent on wages. Goias spend over £500,000 more than us on wages per year, yet finished bottom of the table, relegated, with just 14 points.
No-one can deny that our right side had a huge influence over our success this year. Wing back, Daniel Marcos, contributed 14 assists in 28 appearances at an average rating of 7.30. Ahead of him, Joao Paulo, as the right inside forward scored 15 goals, assisted 6 more and averaged 7.41 in 27 appearances.
A great run to the semi final was ended by a Flamengo side that turned up when we didn't. No complaints at all and I'm happy we managed to show enough to get to that stage, even beating River Plate along the way. We are starting to be considered a big club at home and on the continent.
I had initially planned on making some mid-season transfers, but our league form convinced me to not upset the apple cart, so I held off. We're getting to that stage where our squad is good enough to win trophies, but just needs minor upgrades to each position. My scouts have been in each South American nation all year, so now it's a case of filtering through the realistic targets. A centre back and defensive midfielder are first on the list.
Contracts have started to be upgraded and we know have two players of over £10k per week and I expect that to grow in the coming months.
Overall, a great way to celebrate moving into our new stadium with the title win, a stadium we filled 95% of each week, the highest in the division. I daresay that will rise further now and we can start to think about expanding it in 12 months times. We currently have £86m in the bank and have been given £47m to spend this winter, should we need to.
I got sucked in to the save a bit this season and just played through the entire year, so this update will talk about everything that's happened over the last 12 months.
I'd initially planned on a bit of a squad overhaul, but a bit of personal laziness combined with wanting to retain some kind of spending/salary cap, I decided that it could wait for another year and set about bringing in two young players, who would each go on gain the wonderkid label, for a combined total of £3m. Alberto Bravo joined from Alianza Lima for £650k, which is clearly an absolute steal. He's improved so much in his first year and I'm genuinely looking forward to seeing how good he could become. Juan Mieres joined from Independiente for £2.3m and looks equally as exciting. They both take the non-Brazilian count to four, so there's only room for one more in my squad now.
No major deals out. A few loans and a few young players left, bringing in a total of £1m.
Anyone ever lost a title race by one game on matches won, having had a better goal difference? I have.
We won't come much closer to winning the title as we did this season, finishing second to Internacional, who become the sixth different title winner in as many years, in what is a hugely competitive league. We started the season slowly, winning just two of our opening ten games, but only losing one. I was encouraged by draws away at Palmeiras, Corinthians and Fluminense in this period but, ultimately, it was draws against the likes of Fortaleza that cost us the title. That said, only four defeats this season, which is the joint fewest (along with Corinthians) since the save began.
Only 35 goals conceded, but only 14 clean sheets as we went through periods where we conceded one goal from fewer than five shots on our goal. I'm not sure if we didn't close the game out properly, have an issue with concentration, or just went through an odd period. It's something to look at though.
Nothing too exciting to report as we won the State Championship against Nautico for the third year in a row.
Santos knocked us out of both the Copa Libertadores and the Copa do Brasil, both at the quarter final stage.
I'm hoping we don't enter the Copa do Nordeste again next season, but I don't think I'm going to be that lucky three years in a row.
Off The Pitch
The youth intake started to show potential with the arrival of Pinga and Hyago. Not a lot there in terms of CA, but both have 4* potential and give me more than a little to work with.
£95m in the bank account now and I think the time has come where we make a real statement and start spending some money. At the moment, my self-imposed wage cap is £15k per week, and that's been good enough to secure three top-two finishes in a row, but we need to break that to take us to the next level. We'll need a few players as well as the ageing player's time at the club will be coming to an end and a few want a new challenge as well.
The youth facilities are being upgraded again and will be completed in May. It's also time to upgrade the backroom staff again.
I got sucked in to the save a bit this season and just played through the entire year, so this update will talk about everything that's happened over last 12 months.
Speaking as a FM'er and obviously not as an FM addict (perish the thought) that's a nice position to be in with a save. Sucked in or immersed, familiar wit the club, league, tactics and players. Thinking as about the club as 'us'. Good that.
Really looking forward to your summer of spending mate. I'm all-in for your side to win Libertadores in the next couple of seasons, here's hoping you don't face La U. Keep it up Nick, terrific read so far!
EDIT: 100% on board with what Rob said. I've been in that position a lot during my current save, in fact it kinda re-kindled my love for the game and now all I want is to buy FM20, whereas at some point during this game's cycle (specially early in the cycle), I really thought i'd break my FM run.