The Villarreal Project: PSV Eindhoven – S2


Last season saw us miss out on league victory by just 2 points to perennial powerhouses, Ajax and I was determined to write those wrongs as we entered the 2020/21 season. How would we do it? By looking at our weakest strengths and improving on them, but what were they? In my opinion it was how we set up against the perceived weaker sides, you can see from the results below that the four losses were against teams that were an equal match but in the majority of the games we drew it was against teams that we were favourites to beat yet we arrived complacent and struggled to find the back of the net.

I put a lot of this down to our starting mentality (Balanced) and playing a lone striker so I’ll be setting up for this season with an attacking mentality and a two striker system. The target for the season was simple, win the league. I felt that we gave the title to Ajax last season and that won’t be happening again.

If you want to read more about the ingredients that make up The Villarreal Project you can read the introduction for this series here or the original post with Villarreal here.


This pre-season I took the decision to build in a trip to Japan to take advantage of our newly formed affiliation with Cerezo and show support to our Japanese midfielder, Ritsu Doan, who despite being our highest shirt seller last season only made 11 starts in the league. Did it make a difference, I honestly don’t know, but it certainly falls in line with our Political Strategy. Pre-Season went to plan, 6 games, 5 wins and 1 draw set us ready for the season ahead.

The Brazilian Connection

A big part of me taking on this save was nostalgia, PSV have had some brilliant Brazilians over the years and I wanted to infuse this squad with a bit of samba style.

Klebinho – RB – Flamengo

Klebinho has been my go to budget full back for a couple of editions now, you can pick him up for just over a million pounds and he’ll do everything you’d want from a Brazilian full back.

Paulo Vitor – MC – Vitoria

Signed as one for the future, Vitor from Vitoria will walk in to any Eredivisie side and his form playing for Jong PSV has been incredible so he’ll certainly be pushing for a starting position in the near future.

Brenner – FW – Sao Paulo

I was expecting Donyell Malen to leave the club in the summer and as I wanted to play a two striker system I was torn between signing Brenner or Kaio Jorge as my star striker and as the latter joined Benfica I had my decision made for me and Brenner joined the Brazilian contingent in a deal worth £13m.

Victor Yan – MC – Santos

This guy is the Swiss-Army knife of the midfield, he can play everywhere in the central areas and he’ll do a great job. We picked him up from Santos for £6.5m and I’m certain he’ll go on to be our future captain when the time comes.

Reinier – AMC – Flamengo

Another recruit from Flamengo and he needs no introduction. Signed for a measly £575k we’ve got ourselves an absolute bargain when you consider what’s happened to him in real life. This season he’ll be going out on loan to Le Havre for some much needed game time and I’ll see where I can shoehorn him in next season, maybe.

Talles Magno – FW – Vasco da Gama

Do you remember the tweets when I was trying to sign this guy? Without doubt my hardest transfer chase to date and I really had to put the work in to get my man.

He’ll play out wide or through the middle and I’m hoping to see big things from a such a highly rated player.

If you want some tips on signing a difficult player, here’s a link to something I done for The Byline.

How The Season Unfolded

We went in to the season determined to win the league, Ajax hadn’t been dismantled too much so it was going to be a straight shootout between the pair of us. We hit the ground running and it was actually Feyenoord that were taking the fight to us with Ajax towing behind in third. As we reached the halfway point of the league we didn’t look back and maintained top spot until we were crowned champions with two games to spare. In true Football Manager style, once the league was tied up we lost our first game of the season to AZ meaning an invincible season was no longer possible.

We also retained the KNVB Beker meaning we’d gone 2 seasons unbeaten in this competition.

Project V

Quality of Leadership – Nick Viergever has cemented his position as Captain and is a brilliant team leader who will often step in during player interactions getting them to back down when I can’t be bothered to deal with them. He’s 31, so in his prime years as a centre half and I’ll be looking towards Victor Yan to become his successor in a few years time.

Financial Strategy – If you’re a big team in Holland you’ll find that your bank balance is nice and healthy. Solid runs in Europe mixed with player sales means the club is financially sound. Our end of season commercial summary doesn’t show a vast improvement year on year, but for our expenditure we’re doing very well.

Player Recruitment – As per The Villarreal Project the aim is to start the next season with a stronger squad than the season before and with the departures of Steven Bergwijn to Spurs for £50m (yep FM mirroring real life), Denzel Dumfries to Bayern for £25m and Derrick Luckassen to Southampton for £9m meant we had some money to spend. Brenner & Magno were my big money deals but the signings of Farinez, Yan & Markovic will prove to be shrewd deals as the seasons unfold.

European Success – Another season, another defeat by PSG in the first knockout round. Last year it was an aggregate 2-1 loss and this year I thought I’d changed our fortunes after we won the first leg 3-0, but Football Manager is a cruel mistress and within 5 minutes of the second leg PSG had scored and it was then that I knew this game had 4-0 written all over it and in the 85th minute my prediction was confirmed as Mauro Icardi scored the goal that would knock us out of Europe. Was I disappointed? Of course, but the fact that we’ve made it out of the group stages two years in a row means the finances we’ve recovered make it that little bit easier to swallow.

Political Strategy – As I mentioned earlier in the post, our affiliation with Japanese side Cerezo was decided based on the shirt sales we’d been selling and as the season ended I thought it was time to find another affiliate club. After some negotiating with the board they finally gave in and agreed that I could have another affiliate and this time I would be given the opportunity to select my own team. I have requested Flamengo due to their influence in our squad and their world reputation. At the time of writing the deal hasn’t gone through yet, but fingers crossed our global reach will have increased by the next instalment.

The Football Complex – There isn’t a great deal of opportunity to improve or expand at the moment so my only request was to improve our already impressive youth facilities at a cost of £5.3m.

First Love – The fans love us and why wouldn’t they, we’ve secured a domestic double and played some incredible attacking, entertaining football. They won’t be happy to read that Player of the Year, Bruma, is leaving for PSG in the summer in a deal worth £65m.

Thanks for reading. With the Covid-19 lock down in place I’m sure I’ll get more time to play and write about this save, but keep an eye on my Twitter feed @FridayNightFM for updates and also on the 5 Star Potential Podcast where I’ll be discussing the save every Monday.