Welcome back to the second chapter of our adventure in Portuguese second-division life, skillfully guided by my AI co-manager, Miguel. It’s high time to delve into the transfer market as our incomplete Lamas squad lacks some essential elements.
I dispatch Miguel to secure us a right-back, intending to test his transfer acumen. Swiftly, I discern that the lad tends to set his sights too high:
Now, I accept that Gary Kelly was never exactly a world-beater, and Leeds can’t possibly match the culture and weather of Portugal’s west coast. Petrescu is very much a regular at Chelsea, and the world-class Thuram is frankly a ludicrous suggestion. The fact that we only have 250k to spend also didn’t bother Miguel, I guess!
So, at this point, we changed tack. I asked Miguel to go out and find his 50 favorite transfer prospects, which we would then whittle down through good old-fashioned human scouting. Eager as an AI beaver, Miguel quickly brought back a list of 50 for his human co-manager, Diogo, to pour over.
The results? 27 of his targets were beyond our reach due to simply not appearing in this save. Of the remaining 23, we further culled the list to only include positions where recruits are required. No one could ever accuse Miguel of laziness, having come up with a list of players from across Europe at many different levels of fame:
A motley crew, including such luminaries as Deon Burton, a young Graham Potter, and the wonderfully named Quim.
Most of his choices are over budget, but I try for the affordable ones. I also promise my excitable chum that the ones we can’t afford, we’ll keep shortlisted for when we can. Offers go straight out to schoolboy Nicolas Anelka, and despite a lack of need in their positions, I throw him a bone by also going after Quim and Costinha.
Anelka quickly turns us down; clearly, the petulant Gallic upstart knew his worth early. However, Quim and Costinha jump aboard happily. Our AI graphics department does a fine job of welcoming them to the club:
Matching beards, matching weird hand positions, hair coiffed the same way, what a pair!
So, with Miguel only proving slightly useful and most of his targets requiring us to win the Portuguese lottery to afford them, it was up to me to fill in the gaps. You’d think loads of traditional Champ lower league legends would jump at a move to sunnier climes. Right? Wrong.
Andrew Duncan. Mainwaring. Even New Zealand youngster Noah Hickey. All immediately turn us down. Instead of relying on his Champ experience, Diogo is going to have to do some actual scouting.
Given Miguel’s penchant for big-money players, I try to plug our gaps for free. A couple of mystery freebie strikers join the ranks…
Two CDMs also join gratis, leaving just a right back to find. Now, this wasn’t easy! Finding one with pace willing to come for free proved very tough indeed. I was about to give up and reassess an existing player to play out of position when a last-minute Hail Mary unexpectedly came through!
Having been released by Roma, Russian international Omari Tetradze had no plans to head home and see out his career in the East. He decides to bring his experience, class, and hopefully silky skills to Lamas. This feels like a real turning point in our joint recruitment process. Our AI graphics department is overjoyed:
Two days before the season starts, and we at least have a first 11 that vaguely works. Miguel is happy to see I threw him a bone and included Costinha in the starting XI and Quim on the bench. Young Paulo Alfonso wants to leave already and has big clubs calling. Miguel wants to sell, as the more money in, the more we can afford his luxury transfer targets, so he goes on the transfer list and is exiled from the XI.
So on we roll to the first game, up against local rivals Maia. We fall behind within 7 minutes but do have the majority of the chances and possession in the first half. I yank Miguel’s main man Costinha at halftime, but to no avail. We go down 1-0, I have an angry co-manager, and less than 3,000 turned up to watch. We may need Miguel’s AI powers to provide ways to increase the crowds, or we’ll never afford Deon Burton.
We bring in 94k for wantaway Paulo Alfonso and Miguel cheers up a bit.
A second goal-shy defeat follows as we go down 2-0 to Espinho. We’ll give these two more games before making any moves.
Things liven up in game three. Miguel’s AI-scouted left winger Costinha gives us an early lead before Tetradze loses his head 15 minutes in, and we find ourselves in trouble. We do manage to go in at the break 3-2 up, but we tire late on, resulting in a third straight defeat. With two injuries and Tetradze now suspended, the squad is looking a little weak.
Nacional is at the bottom, having started even worse than us! However, it’s groundhog day as once again Costinha puts us into an early lead before a center-back takes an early bath. They then batter us as we tire, running out 4-1 winners.
Uh oh, Miguel, this isn’t going well!
Victory! Our fifth game sees Quim join the starting XI, much to Miguel’s delight. We go goal crazy and secure the win 4-2, with Costinha slotting once again and Captain Pinto getting off the mark. The paltry 1,300 fans inside the Comendador Henrique Amorim stadium go wild.
Why is our ground called the Comendador Henrique Amorim stadium, I hear you ask? Well, a little research informs me that Mr. Amorim founded the world’s biggest cork company. Quite the philanthropist, Henrique put huge investment into the town and opened a museum housing his amazing art collection, all funded by the production of corks. It’s a shame he’s not still around, given our defensive woes; we could do with a good stopper (sorry!).
Disaster strikes in midweek. Miguel’s man Costinha has attracted the ‘big club’ Salamanca, and with a release clause in place, we’re powerless to stop it. Fair play, Miguel; we’ve turned a freebie into 240k in little over a month. Maybe I need to lean on the AI transfer wizardry again soon if things don’t improve.
Conscious of how thin the squad is, I bring in two 5k punts. Cameroonian Mbarga at least gives us a third option up front, and Zambian Malitoli can hopefully overcome a severe lack of pace to provide cover at center-back.
We scrape another crazy victory away at Viseu. Strikers Tilico and Lopes are finally getting going, and a 90th-minute Silvino penalty save takes us over the line. Viva de Lamas!
Six games in and we sit 14th in the table, but we are on a roll now after two straight victories.
Keen to build on the momentum built by these wins, plus the 240k we got for Costinha, I send Miguel off to identify the top free transfers he can find. Come back next time to see what the AI wizard returns…