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FM21 - FC Annecy


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This is a bit of an introductory post, but what better way to do that than to introduce a brand new save. Avid FM player for years and having read the Guadalajara thread I felt a bit inspired to do a story of my own. Do not be expecting things on that level, as that's a level of detail that even I cannot bring myself to get into, although I am totally for it and have found it a superb read - easily relateable for me too as I did a fantastic save on FM20 with FC Andorra (an early rival of his by the looks of things), so I can totally appreciate the strains of the lower leagues of Spanish football.

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FC Andorra was one of my favourite saves ever. To summarise, it went a bit like this...

- First season, expected to go up to the 2nd tier, but it is a very tricky league system in the lower leagues of Spain and we had the misfortune of having Barcelona B in our league. Even winning the league didn't guarantee you promotion. That said - we capitulated pathetically after a largely unconvincing league campaign and didn't make the play-offs anyway.

- Second season, I overhauled the squad, it was the second season in a row, with a different team, that I had suffered a late capitulation towards the end of the season and this riled me up to a point that I introduced a strict transfer policy. I became obsessed with players who relish big matches. I'm not standing for any more capitulation. We got promoted, won both rounds of play-offs and were crowned third tier champions.

- Third season, we had the leagues smallest budget and ended up getting promoted again. The transfer policy was doing bits. I modelled my team on a Burnley / Getafe like side - pretty physical, gritty and aggressive. That was the vision I had for Andorra. The pirate ship and the grim reaper became unofficial nicknames. We were topping the foul and yellow card charts every season. It might not have been what Pique had in mind when he bought the club, but there were no doubting the results.

- La Liga consisted of some incredibly tense situations where we narrowly avoided the drop, including the most remarkable comeback that saw us take just 3 points from our opening 15 games and survive with a goal 15 minutes from the end of the season. We eventually landed a couple of 7th placed finishes and had European runs, one including a 3-0 loss at KV Mechelen that we ended up turning around in Andorra, before Marseille put us out of the Europa Conference in the semis - the first real big game we had failed to deliver in. Eventually, we petered out to a bit of a midtable side and I just fancied moving on. It was only once I managed Hamburg, Leicester & Las Palmas afterwards that I truly appreciated what I had done at Andorra with such a tiny budget, a small database (by accident) and frankly, poor squad. No trophies, but a ride like no other.

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I have done another game with them on this years, and it has followed a quite similar pattern. But there is a case to say never go back. It just isn't quite as fun as last time. I think the ride of what happened last time made it so much more fun - I have barely even scratched the surface on the ups and downs we went through. I just don't think you can quite recreate that.

So I move to a club at a similar level. They are, like Andorra, a pretty new name at their level, having gotten promoted from the 4th tier last season...

 

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As you can see - they are a pretty tinpot club. The stadium is a decent size for the size of the club, but this is the highest level they have ever played at. This one will be tricky, but the aim ultimately is to progress as far as we can - to hopefully bring continental football to Annecy, like the previous tenants of the stadium Evian TG couldn't!

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Good choice! (and I'm not saying this because I live there... :D).
 

il y a 18 minutes, Dan1884 a dit :

this is the highest level they have ever played at

Actually, they've already played in the french 2nd-tier in 1944 and from 1987 to 1993. But it wasn't as professional at that time.

Best of luck!

PS: You'll be managing in one of the most beautiful place in France.

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Took me a whole 1 post to get my facts wrong :D

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It was this I went off. Never mind. This is a new era.

Annecy looks a stunning place. I heard someone at work before say they were going there. I can see why.

Edited by Dan1884
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Early impressions / aims

So from having a bit of a look around, Annecy can be best described as pretty miniscule. I thought Andorra were a tight ship money wise, but these are something else. This really will be a test of my ability to make something from nothing. It is worth pointing out that the wages in this league are generally tiny, and I'm too early into the season for the game to generate the league table of wages, but in a league of very low wages ours are just about the lowest. Our highest earner is on £825 a week.

I do think I am going to be forced into utilising the loan market. You can have a squad as big as you like and 5 players in on loan - we currently have nobody on loan so that gives me an opportunity to fix our squad for this season. The aim this season I think is simply survival although the board, bizarrely, want a top half finish. I don't think it's beyond us, but I really don't see why it should be any more than survival. I suppose aiming high isn't a bad thing, providing I don't pay for it with my job should I fail.

 

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It is a quite cut-throat league with 4 of the 18 dropping, but we are predicted to finish in 14th place so I would like to think that with a few loanees we can make that a certainty. Given the length of contracts at this level also appear to be pretty short, I envisage a situation where I am likely to have a very busy summer next time around where I will probably have double figures for incomings and outgoings, although I ultimately want to follow a transfer model that sees us focus on bringing on players we can sell on for a profit, with the occasional experienced leader. We barely have a pot to **** in as things stand. I also think I will retain that desire for attracting players who perform in the big games. I think it's arguably a bit simplistic to say my success at Andorra and others was solely down to that, but it cannot be a coincidence that we improved notably as a result of it. Ultimately if you can't handle pressure, then you're going to achieve nothing in the end anyway.

Further delving into the club, we're also pretty understaffed:

 

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Now for some reason, we have more coaches than we're allowed to have, and it's a little naughty but I am going to keep it that way as I'd sooner have that relatively high level of coaching at the club, looking at the bottom graph I'd say we probably have the best coaching in the division already, which is surprising.

No scouts or physios is something I quite like as well oddly providing I get it fixed immediately, which is my first priority - particularly with scouts, I'm very fussy with who comes in for that role, what is the point of having a scout with poor judgement?

I won't go into real depth with my tactics although I am sure somewhere along the line, it will be mentioned. I am fairly conventional, I used to use the template tactics on the game but I've come around to the thinking that having just 3/4 instructions is the way forward. I like balanced sides and can appreciate any style if it works - the real purist if you ask me, not one of these who calls themselves that just because they love 80% possession a game.

I'm quite looking forward to getting into this, with plenty of time coming up and little on the agenda this Christmas, what better than a new FM save.

Edited by Dan1884
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We made swift moves in the summer to bring in some scouts and physios. In came scouts Gilles Camara, Sebastien Remy and Patrice Monteilh, as well as physio Anthony Mignante. Nothing too special, but as good as we were going to get in our current situation. I intend to upgrade on all of these when I can, but they are going to do for now.

Having had a look through the squad, we were quite well suited to play a 4-2-3-1 system similar to what I had played at FC Andorra.

As you can see below, what I like to do ultimately is to have the same system, but two versions of it that are parralel to each other - allowing for changing during a game, or to fit in other personnel. One thing I like to do is have what I call my RBA LWA & LBA RWA system. What this means is that I will have my wingers and full backs on a operating so that one of them is on an attack option, and the other a support. I think the images below will better demonstrate what I mean.

 

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To me this retains a balance to the side yet allows for us to make a subtle change in a game if we need to. It's proven an effective way of working for me for a while, and I think it will come in handy here. I have nothing too special about my tactics, I generally try and stay a quite organised side that always has a bit of a threat on the break, particularly as an underdog like we are likely to be.

Regarding signings, we have a simply pitiful wage budget. Transfer budget isn't even going to be something we can think of for another 2/3 years at least in my opinion, not until we have generated some money ourselves, but the wage bill is tiny - just £600k a year (£12k a week), for some context, Barrow, the smallest wage budget in League Two, have one of £1mil a year. We are operating on a non-league of England budget.

This limits us to loans and frees. I was prepared to give a lot of my players a chance - I actually think a lot of them are steady for how low their wages are, I'm quite fussy with signings as a general rule, and when you take over a club and sport the obvious overpayments it feels easy to make some progress. It's tougher here, there are some steady players who are probably worth more than what they're on. The objective however is just to remain in the league, get some younger players signed and build for future seasons, hopefully to be promoted in my 3rd year - maybe sooner if we can pull something off next year. The following all came in on part-time deals. None of the permanent signings will feature in the first team this season, bar possibly Antonio, but he's still a way down the pecking order.

 

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Bossiwa joined on loan due to an injury to my first choice left winger, that exposed how thin our squad actually is in that position. I don't want to bring too many in though, as we can only name five subs, and like I say, our squad isn't 'total' rubbish.

We have made a steady start to life in this league.

 

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6th after 6 games is pretty impressive, consisting of a couple of really decent wins over sides expected to be up there - given the majority of our opposition were predicted to be in the top 6 this year it's very hard to knock how we've started. We appear to have goals in the team, and bar one pretty abject collapse at Concarneau (their only win, annoyingly) we have been fairly strong at the back too. My only worry is we seem to have scored quite a few goals from distance. The Sete win for example was ridiculous, a 0-3 win with an xG of just 0.81 a sign of our overperformance in that regard, especially considering the majority of that came at 0-3! The Le Mans win has easily been the pick of our performances so far, the favourites to win the league and we gave them a serious pasting, we were very good there. The standout performer so far has been Migouel Alfarela;

 

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It is too early to really say where we will end up, but I am pretty confident that we're going to be clear of the drop. Bizarrely the Concarneau loss has satisfied me a little as after the Le Mans win, I was starting to wonder if this is a bit easy, following having a similar pattern with Andorra. I want us to struggle a bit, in a really backwards way, as I feel it's far more rewarding when you eventually get anywhere. Either that, or my system is just really effective.

Edited by Dan1884
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Also, note my badge has changed, I did think the initial one looked a bit naff but having done a little research, it was the wrong badge anyway and I fixed it. I couldn't manage the same on SC Lyon though and for some reason, theirs just isn't loading properly. I'll live.

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October went pretty well - looks clear to me that the system is paying off with very few goals conceded this month. The Avranches win was a particular high as they were flying quite high at the time and we made light work of them, Romain Spano starting to take over as our key performer up front. I had the choice of picking him and ex-Liverpool striker Anthony Le Tallec, the latter was higher rated but I don't really want to build a system around a 36 year old who is likely to go off a cliff. Spano is just a steady all-round striker for this level.

We progressed in the cup. The ideal scenario with the cup is that we get a bit of a run together and land a big home tie when the bigger teams come in. We have a stadium that holds 16,000 but we average an attendance of just 957 - which sounds pathetic but it's actually only as low down as 11th in this league, which kind of sums up the total lack of depth in the league. Le Mans average 8,000 which is comfortably the highest - they're the club who really ought to be getting promoted this year, but I have a sneaky suspicion about us, we're clearly not going down and the manner of the comeback away at league leading Bourg-Peronnas has planted the idea in my head. I am not too concerned by it this year, it would be a massive overachievement, but for all our resources are tiny, it seems like the league in general is full of clubs in a similar boat and we're not as relatively tiny as I thought we were.

 

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Our league form has definitely dried up a little, particularly the goals. We have played a string of 4th tier teams in the cup but the way we have taken a couple of them apart has been impressive - with minutes given to some of the new 18 year old signings like Wiltord Antonio and Elamine Moussa, Antonio particularly impressive and I think he will be a decent player for us.

The two home defeats in the league were annoying. No complaints about losing to SC Lyon, we were missing players but the performance was abject and we deserved nothing. I couldn't explain the Cholet loss though, quite literally as well as we've played all season and we ended up losing 0-2, the xG of 2.12 - 0.48 sums up what a silly result that was. Ultimately though, we don't have a great deal of quality, and it shouldn't be totally surprising. I don't really rate my keeper either, who was beaten from distance twice, both very saveable shots as well.

 

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I think that table kind of sums the league up (well, obviously), there is no real pattern to it, a 7 point gap between the league leaders and 12th is the kind of thing you would expect 4 or 5 games in, not nearly half way. Simply I think if we don't pick up loads of injuries, we won't be anywhere near the bottom 4, but I think we're a bit too limited to get promoted. What's good is that in some positions, we're quite well covered even by some of the 18 year olds - Antonio as mentioned has slotted in fine and there's a case to just keep playing him anyway. Promotion would be a real achievement, but I think it may be a little beyond us, and I expect someone like Le Mans, disappointing as they have been, to really pick up and probably win the league. You never know though. Steady is the way I would describe us, and I am happy with that.

 

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This is a bit worrying though. We spend very little but we generate next to nothing. We get 950 fans a game. However, the one thing I really wanted - we got it.

 

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Perfection. We couldn't have asked for a better draw. We've no chance at all of winning it yet have landed one of the biggest clubs in the country, and hopefully, we sell the game out. That really is a possible gamechanger for this save, this game could literally double our ticket revenue for the season.

I'd rate this as an 8/10 season at the minute. It's very hard to criticise anything really. Overachieving in the league, still in the cup and got just about the best draw in it. I will probably do another couple of updates this season, and really start to introduce the players beyond just their names, as I appreciate - nobody knows who they are.

A funny side note is that we're comfortably the leagues dirtiest team. The most fouls and yellow cards in the league, taking after my Andorra side in style, this wasn't the aim, but it's kind of working I suppose?

Edited by Dan1884
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Our cup run is over but we did ourselves proud, a full strength Marseille side was made to work for it, a good effort, just not quite enough.

The disappointing flip side is the attendance was only 5,000. This is one seriously tinpot club, it's still better than nothing but it's quite disappointing to think that a game I thought would potentially have doubled our revenue this season won't have anything like that impact - even if it meant giving Marseille 70% of the ground.

It's clear to me we're going to have to generate money through player sales.

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We're really hard to beat and have gone on an 8 game unbeaten run throughout the latter winter months - though of course the obvious caveat is we've drawn more than we have won. The form of striker Romain Spano is starting to seriously prop us up, as you can see there, he has scored in his last 5 games, the leagues form player and but for an exceptional season from Bastia-Borgo's Wilson Isidor, he'd probably win the golden boot. Not bad for a striker with a track record that reads of being a steady 4th tier striker. He's just pretty steady all-round, like a very low level complete forward.

The form of on loan Lyon winger Samuel Bossiwa is also very encouraging. He's becoming increasingly creative and is developing at the quickest rate of any of our players. I think I will try and get him back next season - promotion or not.

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And then of course, the league table;

 

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The table remains so tight, although a little gap appears to be forming between 5th and 6th, but the fact you could wipe that gap out within a game means it's not even really worth noting and the fact I have kind of sums up how tight the table has been pretty much all season. We have done superbly well given everything, with just 4 defeats all season being the obvious plus. I think it is safe to say we won't be relegated this season - we could lose all 10 of our remaining games and probably survive, that's long beyond even being the discussion.

The lack of revenue generated by the Marseille game proves there is nothing in it for us in this league, we will merely exist and rack up losses despite hardly any spending anyway, so consolidating in this league feels almost pointless, and if we can somehow snare promotion this season, then it's worth it even if we do drop. I still think even despite how well we have done this year, we will likely have quite a big switch around in the summer as regards to incomings and outgoings, I still think we can improve what we get for our money, even with this performance. I still feel my 4-2-3-1 system is so effective. We're the better side in the majority of games we play (despite often inferior players) and if not for some concession of silly late goals we'd be pretty comfortably in a promotion place.

We do play the two teams above us still, in consecutive weeks as well annoyingly, but the majority of our last 10 games will come against bottom half sides - including fancing the bottom two at home.

I am enjoying this, we've progressed quicker than I thought we would.

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We come through March pretty much unscatched.

 

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We hammered the bottom side Stade Briochin - kind of a marker of how well this season has gone really as they were a club deemed to be of a similar level to us going into the season. Creteil was a game between the top two and despite going behind after taking the lead, we preserved our unbeaten run, and given they were on a run of 8 without a loss themselves a draw was always likely. We beat fellow high flyers Bourg-Peronnas and then once again the fake badge SC Lyon (anybody else got this same problem with them?) stole a point from us late on, although truth be told, they could easily have nicked all three. It's 12 unbeaten for us now. Maybe I undersold this team in preseason, but there is no doubt that we have done excellently so far.

 

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At this point, I would make us promotion favourites. The Bastia-Borgo away game looks tricky, and they're quite comfortably the leagues top scorers with comfortably the leagues star player this season, but bar that game, we have a very kind run in - facing 5 of the bottom 7. I would go as far as saying we've blown it if we don't go up from here, and what a first season that would be.

Edited by Dan1884
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3 hours ago, Hootieleece said:

Very tight at the top....KUTGW!

Thanks a lot! I think we'll just about do it, the best run-in and ultimately, 1st in the league. If we avoid defeat at Bastia-Borgo I think we'll do it.

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That really was a big moment, our most impressive win of the season to make it 14 unbeaten in the league. it was such an awful game for large parts, but the unlikeliest of source popped up - 19 year old left back Elamine Moussa with a 30 yard free kick to put us ahead, before the inevitable situation at the end where Bastia-Borgo throw everyone forward and either equalise, or go 2 down. We were ruthless and the counter attacking goal sparked me and the majority of my 9 staff to have a mini pitch invasion.

It's too tight to say that this is over, but there is no excuse for not finishing this job off now - we play the teams sitting in 11th, 13th, 14th and 18th as our final four games. It is worth pointing out that Orleans and Creteil have a game in hand, and if either of them win, then it becomes a bit nervy, but I've seen nothing to suggest we're going to blow this. We may draw a couple, but I don't see any of the others being reliable enough to knock us off the top. I think we finish 1st, from here.

Plus - look at Bourg-Peronnas there! That's exactly the kind of league this. Nobody can be relied on. I think 8 points, which is very, very attainable, does the job.

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Congrats! You're doing really well there. I am planning doing a French safe myself, but I'm unsure about the club yet. I just did a test safe and found something disturbing. Championnat National 2 is not visible. I mean, on FM20 it wasn't playable but the league table was visible and matches were played. Can you confirm this is happening on your save? 

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37 minutes ago, Haiku said:

Congrats! You're doing really well there. I am planning doing a French safe myself, but I'm unsure about the club yet. I just did a test safe and found something disturbing. Championnat National 2 is not visible. I mean, on FM20 it wasn't playable but the league table was visible and matches were played. Can you confirm this is happening on your save? 

Appreciated!

Looks to me like the league is available on the game, and I can add it as a playable league, but for some reason I haven't which is a bit of a silly move given it was possible that we ended up in that league this season.

 

 

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Looks to me like it at least recognises there is a league there and I have pressed the "make playable" (which I was always under the impression you couldn't do if you had added that countries leagues up to a certain level - so I think you can actually play in the 4th tier without having to download anything.

I've done many a save in France but never ventured to it on FM20. I used to have this thing for doing a Nantes save on every version for a while, have done a couple with Lyon, but I've never started this low in France and like I said beforehand, having read @_Ben_'s Guadalajara save I got a real urge to do a longer term save gradually building up a small club like this. If you were looking for a save in the third tier that you would find a bit easier I would imagine Le Mans are your pick. Their crowds blow everyone elses out of the water and it's a mystery as to why they've been so poor on my save.

Going back - I've just gone to start a new career save to test it and it looks to me like you do have to download a patch to start below the third tier. I'm really unsure how it's let me click "add league as playable" to the 4th tier. I'll let you know if anything happens at the start of next season.

 

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There you have it, league leaders and the kindest run in. We have got to bottle this to not finish it off in my opinion. Avranches and Laval have the next best and I think coming below either of those would be worrying. Bastia-Borgo v Creteil on the final day is very welcome.

My prediction is the top two stay as they are, and Bastia-Borgo take 3rd - losing the play-off. I'd like Bastia-Borgo up with us if we do it though as I think they would be a certainty to go back down. They were predicted to finish rock bottom in pre-season, and have been largely carried by a loanee. That would free one spot almost immediately, in my opinion.

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We definitely needed this one. We generate absolutely nothing.

We've beaten Boulogne 3-0. I'm confident in us.

We've also managed to extend the loan of Samuel Bossiwa until the end of next season which is a plus. I think he's our best player, personally, and will go on to have a good career in Ligue 1 at worst.

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To be honest, that about seals the deal. Orleans' late turnaround is very annoying but we're just one win away from promotion now, and it's the leagues bottom side at home next up, we have no excuse. I was horrified during that Cholet game, they nicked an equaliser from the most stupid error, their first shot of the game, it would've been another total robbery from them if they had gotten anything, but they were in equally charitable mood and played Spano in late on. I've little doubt now that we're going to see this through. 16 unbeaten in the league. We're in touching distance.

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Well would you believe it, a bit of a no-show from us. What was interesting about that fixture is if we won, not only were we promoted, but Red Star were down and yet in pre-season, the predictions were that we'd be fighting relegation and Red Star would be fighting promotion. Quite the twist of fate.

We were pretty poor, applying most of the early pressure and we missed a golden chance, but we conceded a penalty, Bossiwa committing the offence but goalkeeper Julien Perez, a player who has been at Annecy his whole career, saved it (straight at him, which I admire, that's holding your nerve) and made another late save to deny Red Star a win - that ultimately has relegated them. A disastrous day for them.

Other results mean that Bastia-Borgo can still overthrow us, and we have at least secured a top 3 place, but 3rd has a play-off game - which is likely to be against Chambly, our most local rivals, would you believe. I still think we finish this off, and if Bastia-Borgo blow their game in hand, we've secured promotion. You have to feel that was a great chance blown though.

 

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And would you believe it.

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It runs to the final day, and what a gutting way to miss out. There is a two week break until the final day, which is very annoying, and even worse for some reason, our game is the following day to the others!

But what a game that was in Briochin, and what a miserable night for Annecy, as failure to win for Bastia-Borgo would've seen us promoted and yet, despite going behind with 84 minutes on the clock, they have somehow pinched it.

The final day pits Bastia-Borgo v Creteil, and Orleans v Le Mans, with the following day, SC Bastia v Annecy. Some real twists of irony as two of the key games will take part in the same Corsican city. 

These are the permitations.... if we win, we are champions. If we draw, we are champions should both of the other two fail to win, and promoted should only one of them win - however if we draw, and they both win, we finish 3rd as Orleans will beat us on H2H.

SC Bastia, thankfully, due to their H2H record with Boulogne and the fact they and Stade Briochin face each other - are already relegated. They should make the perfect opposition, especially given we're fighting their city rivals.

Our chances have taken a hit, but we're still in the driving seat.

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Unbelievable. 17 games unbeaten and we go and lose to an already relegated side to bottle promotion. It's a play-off - but quite frankly, I give us quite little chance of beating a Ligue 2 side over two legs after that showing.

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I hadn't seen this until now. I really like your approach to playing/posting and I'm sure you'll have Annecy moving through the leagues soon! It seems that this season might be a step too far, but you'll do it!

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4 hours ago, _Ben_ said:

I hadn't seen this until now. I really like your approach to playing/posting and I'm sure you'll have Annecy moving through the leagues soon! It seems that this season might be a step too far, but you'll do it!

Appreciated. I quite enjoy doing it but I don't think anything's quite at that Guadalajara thread. Superb stuff and I'm still only about half way through it. There is another update to do here!

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The playoffs

To reflect briefly, it really is a cased of mixed feelings - after spending so much of the season top of the league, effectively the entirety of 2021 so far, to finish 3rd on the final day due to a loss to an already relegated side, it's hard to take. Even when you know you have overachieved in the first place, to fall away from such a position is so poor. The Red Star draw was the first issue and the signs that we were crumbling under the pressure a bit, but that Bastia game was a disaster. We need head into the relegation playoff, where we will play two legs against the team that finishes 18th in Ligue 2 - the system they introduced in France a couple of seasons ago.

 

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After sending Red Star down a fortnight ago, our task was to put yet another Parisian team to the sword. Paris FC were predicted to finish 14th in their league, similarly to us, but have endured very different fortunes. A general season of misery with just 8 wins in their 38 games - scoring just 10 goals in the second half of the season. They are on a real low.

That said, a quick look through their squad, and you do realise that there is quite a gap between the two leagues. Their squad is quite comfortably stronger than ours, and we're going to have to put in a shift and a half to turn them over, even in their current state. With away goals counting, and the stadium packed (well, 18% full to be precise, rather than the usual 6%), we threw ourselves into the first leg.

It was more bad news.

 

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Unfortunately, it all just looks a step too far for us. The Marseille game back in January told me we could mix with superior teams even for our limitations, but I suppose that game had no real pressure on it and the reward for this one would be massive. I was hoping we could hold out for 0-0, which given there are away goals, would have been a very good result that gives us a small chance for the away leg, but an error from goalkeeper Perez (I cannot make my mind up on him at all) sealed an away win. Our task has just gotten much harder and the reality is, we're probably going to be facing another season in the third tier.

I shifted the system for the 2nd leg. I tried to fit in just about everybody that had that 'turn up in big game' trait and hoped we could keep it tight and somehow pinch something.

And would you believe it.

 

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Lets first make the point that this was an absolutely terrible game. I thought Paris would make us really pay and go and beat us about 3-0, but it just never quite panned out that way. The plan was to keep it tight and hope that we can pinch a goal from a set piece. To say that it worked to perfection would be an understatement. That man again Romain Spano delivered not long before half time, before a very forgettable second half that resulted in extra time. We had already done a lot more than I expected, the players were tiring, but it was working. You started to sense that nerves had gotten the better of Paris. It's easy to forget that they were ultimately under the pressure, and they're a side who scores so few goals. They just hadn't turned up in this leg at all.

We approached the end of extra time and I was planning a double substitution to get my two best penalty takers on the bench onto the pitch. Tempts fate I know, but it was all or nothing at this point. Just as I went to do it, we broke again, the Paris centre half panicked, slide tackled the ball wide of his own keeper and Spano tapped into an empty net. I'm not aware of all of the history of this club, but in terms of their best moments, this surely has to be up there. The 300 strong travelling contingent went mental, the coaches and subs were on the pitch (the latter probably relieved at no longer having to take a penalty!), we had surely done it. Don't forget that away goals counted and that Paris would need 2 in the last minute to come back. We were there. I gave us next to no chance, and yet somehow, we did it.

 

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More to follow!

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SEASON REFLECTION

Thought I would go through some of the things that underpinned the season....

 

Player of the season

This was quite an easy pick. It had to go to Romain Spano, quite significantly my top scorer and in hindsight definitely the right decision to make him my first choice striker over Anthony Le Tallec. Le Tallec possesses more natural talent, but at the age of 35 he was always likely to decline during the season and despite playing his part, Spano justified my faith returning 20 goals in 34 league games, and 25 in 39 in all competitions, including both goals in the win at Paris FC. Spano is a steady all-round striker, no major strengths, no major weaknesses, he's a really quite rounded striker but that seems to be exactly what we needed rather than any particular specialist. He will play a role in Ligue 2, signing a new two year contract.

Honorable mentions also go to centre backs Matthieu Sans and Fabien Boyer. Though now 32 and 30 respectively, they formed a really solid partnership at centre back, Boyer made the league team of the season and Sans made the bench. Goalkeeper Julien Perez, somebody who has spent his whole career at the club, made the team of the season. Though he has an error in him I think he made up for it with plenty of other good performances, including at home to Red Star and away at Paris. Ahmed Kashi was also pretty pivotal, and I would guess that he probably held the best win % in our whole team.

 

Where next for my squad / what do we need

With nearly everybody out of contract (bar bizarrely two of my older players in Sans and Pinto-Borges), we need to have a bit of a reshuffle. Some players have earned a go, but some simply will be out of their depth and we sadly have to let them go. Our wage budget has gone up to £18k a week (which is still terrible) but the transfer budget is £1.1mil, somehow, though realistically I'm going to plunge the majority of that into wages.

In goal we have Julien Perez and Lucas Mocio. Perez is first choice with Mocio backup. My plan simply is to release Mocio, and have Perez battle out with a new goalkeeper.

In defence, I do plan to give both Sans and Boyer a go, but we need better cover. I wasn't impressed with anybody bar those two and I think we need two more centre halves. I will be aiming for younger players, hopefully permanent players, but I'm not totally against loans although I don't wish to become too reliant on them. Right back Alhassane Sylla did well and I intend for him to keep his place, though I am never averse to signing replacements. We certainly need a left back though. Youngster Elamine Moussa, my signing, did reasonably well when called on, but the initial first choice Nicolas Garby was terrible and he will be massacred at this level, so it's a priority position. My other backup Romauld Marie was also by and large pretty terrible when he featured, age is on the wrong side also.

In midfield, Kashi is good enough in my opinion to step up. He largely set the tone for how we played - kept things ticking nicely, a yellow card enthusiast, aggressive and loves a big game. I'm a fan. Pinto-Borges isn't good enough but he stays because he has another year left, no idea how he got a longer term deal at his age. Roger Tamba can stay although has sadly developed the big game bottler syndrome, but he's a good all-round midfielder and worth keeping around in my opinion. The cover is pretty shoddy too, so I think we need probably three more midfielders, preferably a first choice playmaker to partner Kashi, and another box to box type, and an anchor man as I feel we're going to be forced into 4-3-3 a lot more next season, and we didn't really have the options to perform that last year.

The wide options are not far off sorted, though I think we could possibly do with another right footed wide man who can play either side as nobody can really play that AML position cutting in. Alfarela was a pretty key player really and I didn't give him enough credit in the previous section. Wiltord Antonio is a steady young winger and I even started him at Paris for the fact he's already our best natural right winger.

Strikers, Spano as stated has signed a new deal, and despite his decline I still think Le Tallec is worth keeping around for a year, but we do need another option and I think we've found the perfect man already, a young Cameroonian striker is set to join, but more will be covered next season.

 

So to summarise, my target signings are;

Goalkeeper
Youngish centre back x2
Youngish right back
First choice left back
Anchor man
Playmaker type
Box to box midfielder
Winger - plays either side, right footed
Striker
 

 

Other points

- FC Annecy were the dirtiest team in the league. This wasn't actually the plan, but I think the system that was so effective at Andorra being carried over meant there was always going to be an element of that. I do think I just naturally like a bit of aggression in my teams, though it isn't the plan really to kick every other team off the pitch. For some numbers, we picked up 70 yellow cards, pipping Bourg-Peronnas and Bastia-Borgo (two other high finishing teams) to the top of the leaderboard. We made 655 fouls, which was the most in the division by quite a distance, Bastia-Borgo the next highest with 542. The really surprising part about this though, is that we were one of only six sides to not have a red card all season. Foul smart I suppose!

- We were 3rd for possession. I've never been a big possession manager, but I'm not anti-possession either, I just don't place loads of emphasis on how much you have and more the content of what you do with the ball. I'm happy to win with 20%, I'm happy to win with 80%. Ahmed Kashi is more and more appearing to be our Fernandinho.

- We had the 3rd highest expected goals for in the league, and the best expected goals against ratio, which is a huge testament to our system really. I think we just have to build around this for now.

- We were 15th out of 18 in the wage budget category - but league winners Bastia-Borgo were bottom!

 

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Edited by Dan1884
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4 hours ago, Dan1884 said:

Appreciated. I quite enjoy doing it but I don't think anything's quite at that Guadalajara thread. Superb stuff and I'm still only about half way through it. There is another update to do here!

Ignore everything I said then!

Well done on the promotion and I like how well thought out the plans are for next year.

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Great Work....

Do you like to "Bully" teams with strength and athleticism or technically break them down?

I generally look for Athletes with size and strength and a modicum of Technical Ability and "Bully" my peers....

 

But in my current save....I am more technical and possession based.

 

 

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On 24/12/2020 at 21:32, Hootieleece said:

Great Work....

Do you like to "Bully" teams with strength and athleticism or technically break them down?

I generally look for Athletes with size and strength and a modicum of Technical Ability and "Bully" my peers....

 

But in my current save....I am more technical and possession based.

 

 

In all honesty so far I haven't actually targetted any particular type of player other than those that were young and free agents, with some relative talent, simply because I think we needed to add a bit of value to our squad - even if we only sold them for say £50k it was worth doing it, but I think going forward, primarily I am just going to try and find players who fit my system. I am more and more seeing the benefit of having physical players though and certainly value it more than I used to.

I just want players who can consistently carry out the performances, that are mentally strong (once you get into the habit of focusing for big game players its very hard to get out of). that have a degree of financial value to them. I like building my sides generally so that I have probably 90% of my squad aged 19-25 and then the rest above that.

When I was at Andorra, particularly on FM20 I used to focus quite heavily on having players with high aggression. Our discipline was pretty bad but it was funny, and I definitely think it drew more red cards from the opposition as well.

I think things still haven't taken real shape yet in how I want to build this squad. I got what I was given, which I think I struck a very good balance with, but how we'll build it going forward, it's hard to see, I've never found it easy to stick to that one particular style throughout though having read other saves I can definitely see the fun in doing that.

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On 24/12/2020 at 18:36, Dan1884 said:

So to summarise, my target signings are;

Goalkeeper - Check
Youngish centre back x2 - Got one of two, decided to promote a younger I signed a year ago as the other
Youngish right back - Check, a little older than I hoped but he is an upgrade, and was free
First choice left back - Check, though to be totally honest I think I jumped the gun a little here, there was better available later on. He strikes me as somebody who had potential but has lost his way a bit, though the early signs in training aren't too positive
Anchor man - Check, a real snare given his age
Playmaker type - Check, a well rounded midfielder
Box to box midfielder - Sort of. He's going to play in my 2nd string this season, was worth a go for free.
Winger (plays either side, right footed) - Fixed it, but not really a natural wide player, though he's very versatile and I'd say he fits the bill, ticking the boxes of what I needed really
Striker - Check. A new club record signing, even if he was only £50k, but for me he's a real steal given his age and ability, he's about at Spano's level already

Fixed my squad not far off as well as I hoped for. I think we're prepared for the new season.

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Signed him for just £16k, didn't realise it would take him another two and a half years to join. Never mind. Got to hope he keeps developing in Gabon and he may come in useful. I do plan to make a few forays into Africa for younger players though.

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Entering Ligue 2. We are predicted to finish 20th (I expected 19th, I thought we'd be better than Bastia-Borgo) but we do go into the league with the lowest wage budget, meaning that Bastia-Borgo have clearly been spending a little. I've acquired on the whole a quite balanced side, but we are still below average in all but two attributes according to the squad comparisons. We are going to do well to survive this season in my opinion, though we overachieved to get here, and I think we've got it in us to do it. I won't throw every new signing straight in, I'll gradually introduce them.

 

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We made a superb start. That opening day was a real acid test - I've spoken a lot (almost too much) about Bastia-Borgo, but Orleans were the ones who pinched 2nd from us on the final day, so to turn up there and beat them pretty comfortably on the opening day was satisfying. After the Guingamp win I was beginning to wonder if we'd go and get promoted again! But it's far too soon for anything like that really, we were brought back down to earth in the next three games, though very unlucky to lose to Strasbourg and we even missed a penalty in injury time.

New goalkeeper Yannis Clementia had the dream debut at Caen, keeping a clean sheet, and saving a late penalty.

 

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Far too early to say we are safe, and I don't think we're going to stay that high up, but we've made a really solid start and look like we belong at this level - we have played pretty well in most of our games. I just want to stay in this league next year, if you look below, I think it shows how crucial that win at Paris FC really was.

 

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Stay in this league and we will be able in my eyes to lay foundations for a promotion bid, maybe not next season, but the one after. The signing of Marc Medou is the type I intend to keep making - cheap and will end up being worth a lot more than I paid.

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3 hours ago, Marazola said:

Doing well mate - that Gabonese 15 year old is impressive! Shame you missed on the fact that he wouldn't join til he's 18, haha

Yeah it's pretty infuriating, just got to hope he continues to develop at his current club but the truth is he's probably not going to amount to a great deal. Our facilities aren't great but I'd imagine it would still be better here than in Gabon.

We have another signing coming in January. My recruitment is largely going to focus on buying younger players but that is how I usually structure a squad anyway - buy younger players, bring in the occasional experienced head / mentor type of player on a free.

The financial situation at Annecy is so much better than in the third tier it's unreal. The majority of my £1mil budget this season was put into wages but even still we're likely to get another million next year, and I back myself to make that million go pretty far.

Going to do another update probably tomorrow.

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Time for another update, to say things have gotten interesting would be an understatement, but there is an ever growing feeling at the back of my mind that I'm not liking about this save, and I'll come to it (though if you saw me in another thread you can guess what it is).

 

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Now lets not beat around the bush, we have been quite simply - excellent.

We are continuing the solidity at the back. The signing of Manuel Mane in-particular has been pivotal in my opinion in allowing us to play the 4-3-3 DM with such efficiency - providing an excellent shield to the centre backs while the two in front of him carry us forward to the front three.

The anchor man is for me, one of the most under-praised roles on the game. It is routinely useful in making you a tough side to beat, offers you immense protection without even having to do anything special. I've always been a fan of it, and this save is once again showing me why.

It is also worth pointing out some other things;

- I do seem to have a bit of a problem getting form from my full backs, but I wonder if it's the rating system, because they are by and large doing the job I want from them, picking their moments carefully and providing good movement to help us open a team up whilst remaining solid at the back. I think this is a quite common thing.

- My new goalkeeper, Yannis Clementia, has been a revelation - he has faced two penalties, saving both, an upgrade on a pretty inconsistent Julien Perez, who I feel will try to get a move as he's growing concerned at his lack of playing time.

- Alfarela, Bossiwa, Sans, Boyer, Spano and Sylla have all made the step up. None have let me down.

- For somebody who does look at particular details, I am pretty ashamed to admit it took me until December to notice new centre back Ruben Droehnle was left footed. Two left footed centre halves never works. I don't know why, but it just doesn't, so he becomes my longer term Boyer (left footed) replacement rather than Sans (right footed) replacement. Every game he has played on the left side, he has been what I thought he would be - dependable and solid. Boyer is about to go to the cup of nations with Madagascar too, so Droehnle will get a proper run and, to be honest, I don't think Boyer will dislodge him again.

- Diego Michel has been a bit of a revelation for me, but not quite in the way I expected. Though I did actually sign him for what he would offer out wide, he has been far more effective centrally and since moving to the mezzalla role, he's been terrific. Benard and Mane as previously alluded to, likewise, are doing very well too - Kashi can't even get in my team anymore, and we have another central midfielder lined up too as the ageing Steven Pinto-Borges will move to the lower leagues of Holland in January.

- I think the comparison between us and Bastia-Borgo, the most comparable club to us, is the greatest demonstration of how good a season we are having.

---

However, what I alluded to earlier. There is a bleak side to this for me, it's an elephant in the room, and I'd appreciate people's input here.

This is, quite bluntly, too easy.

Lets just strip this bare for a minute here. I have taken over a relegation candidate in the third tier of France with one of the worst budgets in the league. I have implemented a tactic I created myself, it is a well-balanced tactic, it is simplicity, I don't like to complicate things, I never have done, I'll show you below what I primarily use now;

 

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It is in my eyes, a pretty good system, it is nothing special, but it is steady all over the pitch, there are no major weaknesses and we usually have all areas covered, we transition well, we don't allow many chances, we create enough of our own.

But should it really be taking a team as poor as mine this far? This is a side that even now, would not be the strongest in the third tier, and yet we look like we have a good chance of being promoted to Ligue 1.

I think one thing that put me off my Andorra save was I felt it was a little simple, the repetition of the save was a factor, but that was another - yet now I've had this play out at Annecy, I really am starting to feel that we're overachieving to a point it doesn't even feel realistic.

Even despite all I say about my 'keeping it simple' approach - I've still been often playing a centre back on the total wrong side, totally ruining the balance of the team and seeing him constantly let me down as a result - and yet I've even gotten away with that. That kind of thing should be costly.

I have also barely even played Marc Medou. For all of Spano's efforts - Medou is better already, even at 18, yet I'm not the sort to change a winning team around much. Medou has started 2 games for me.

So I'm asking you people - am I playing this game really well? I think I play it logically - sensible transfers, a solid formation, a good man manager who will get the players on side and keep them there, but I don't do anything that should have a club with such pitiful resources, and players, anywhere near this good?

Are you people struggling with your saves at all of a similar level? Or are you also finding it a bit simple?

I will play on, it's not enough to put me off it, but it's less rewarding than it should be and as backwards as it is, I almost would feel a bit more satisfaction if we sat 11th.

Edited by Dan1884
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7 hours ago, Dan1884 said:

However, what I alluded to earlier. There is a bleak side to this for me, it's an elephant in the room, and I'd appreciate people's input here.

This is, quite bluntly, too easy.

I really appreciate the honesty and, being honest, I've written and deleted an answer to this post several times!

Initially, I had a wiki link for teams that have had successive promotions to show that it's really not that common - but I don't want to be seen to be looking down on those FM players who manage to do it (as that is certainly not the case!) Then I wanted to say how much I agree with you, but I didn't want to seem like I am in any way arrogant, and, 16 years to make it from VNN to the Championship is nothing when people are winning the CL in that time from with teams at the level I started at!

However, what I can settle on and elaborate on is that you are doing things the right way. Obviously, that is an opinionated answer and people play FM in many different ways. Some play true LLM style, other download tactics, use shortlists, save and reload etc etc but I think the way you've made a tactic to suit your team, built the team sensibly and within your budget and not tried to do anything that doesn't feel unrealistic with the ME means that you're going to do ok. You're seeing this team as a real life manager would do and sometimes this game favours that simple approach!

Additionally - Morale is really powerful and trust with the manager, also. You seem to have both of those things in abundance!

---

I hope this doesn't put you off as there will be tougher times ahead! I think you're very well set though.

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5 hours ago, _Ben_ said:

I really appreciate the honesty and, being honest, I've written and deleted an answer to this post several times!

Initially, I had a wiki link for teams that have had successive promotions to show that it's really not that common - but I don't want to be seen to be looking down on those FM players who manage to do it (as that is certainly not the case!) Then I wanted to say how much I agree with you, but I didn't want to seem like I am in any way arrogant, and, 16 years to make it from VNN to the Championship is nothing when people are winning the CL in that time from with teams at the level I started at!

However, what I can settle on and elaborate on is that you are doing things the right way. Obviously, that is an opinionated answer and people play FM in many different ways. Some play true LLM style, other download tactics, use shortlists, save and reload etc etc but I think the way you've made a tactic to suit your team, built the team sensibly and within your budget and not tried to do anything that doesn't feel unrealistic with the ME means that you're going to do ok. You're seeing this team as a real life manager would do and sometimes this game favours that simple approach!

Additionally - Morale is really powerful and trust with the manager, also. You seem to have both of those things in abundance!

---

I hope this doesn't put you off as there will be tougher times ahead! I think you're very well set though.

Appreciated. It's a tough scenario - it really might just be that what I've done, the combination of things really is the right way to do it on this version, because like I say, I did similar with Andorra, we were comfortably winning the 2nd tier with the worst side in the league. This shouldn't be a bad thing, of course it isn't, but I feel like it's ever so slightly 'too' effective.

I do think years of playing the game has made me know certain ways around things - for example man management, I will pretty much guarantee that the squad unites behind me, I'm already at a point where even those who feel they should be getting more gametime back down simply because I reply to them. Maybe these things do matter more than what I give it credit for.

An example for me though is in our last win against Grenoble. My 'very one footed' player scored a 30 yarder on his weaker foot. Would that ever happen?

I will continue to play on though, just can't help but feel this isn't quite as rewarding as it probably ought to be. Overcoming struggle is always the most satisfying way. That said I suppose I should be careful what I wish for - it won't be long until I'm moaning about being unable to beat dross.

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New signing

The club record is broken again, we have moved for the superbly named Senegalese forward Baye War!

 

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While Diego Michel has been utilised more down the middle, War will fill that void I alluded to in preseason about a pacey, right footed winger. He joins for £110k which is as stated, a new club record. He's a real coup in my opinion, an exciting player.

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Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.

 

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It's weird isn't it. I think our bubble has certainly been burst this season and we will probably finish in midtable, but I am happy with it, we aren't going down and if you look at the very comparable Bastia-Borgo, it has still been an exceptional season.

I mean don't get me wrong, it isn't over yet, but we have had a bit of a reality check here.

 

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What is interesting though is that despite adding a new player in January, one who is probably our best player, who has been pretty good as well since joining, we have been quite blunt going forward on the whole. I have changed the role on the left wing from winger, to inverted winger, to accomodate Baye War.

So in the next couple of games I am going to revert to what I did before. It would be a shame if this was the main reason for the downturn, as it poses me a bit of an issue going forwards.

The reality though is I just think things are levelling out a bit. War doesn't change the fact we have probably the 19th best squad in the league. We have generally delivered steady xG performances as well, but the reality is we do lack the quality.

At the end of the day, barring the most unbelievable swing, the seasons objectives were achieved a while ago - and I feel like there is more scope all of a sudden to make a significant difference.

We might still get promoted, but I would be very, very surprised if it happened, and if it did, we would almost certainly be relegated anyway.

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Our season is completed. How did it all go in the end?

 

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I mean - I kind of got what I hoped for didn't I really?

So to assess it, the second half of the season was pretty weak. We got noticeably worse after I posted about how I was finding it too easy. As I said before, be careful what you wish for I guess. It is fine with me. I feel now I'm in a position where it is going to be more rewarding if success does come to us, We did have flaws in our side and they were exposed the longer the season went on.

When you watched some of our games you really did think how on earth we were ever that high up in the first place.

I also didn't want to go up because of the very plausible scenario like this. I take this side, that I probably strengthen to be at the level of say Caen, this summer. We're on a bad run in Ligue 1, very bad morale, and have a trip to PSG. We could break records. We would be so out of our depth in my opinion.

All along, really, I wanted to make this a longer term thing. I wanted to just gradually lay stronger and stronger foundations for the club to grow on.

It's clear already that we have come quite a way.

 

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SEASON REFLECTION

 

Player of the season: I usually will go off what the game says, and once again, it's Romain Spano who claims the award, whilst once again being the clubs top scorer. Though nowhere near as strong as last season, he had a good year. 14 goals in all competitions (all coming in the league) with 7 assists as well. You cannot knock how he did really, though there is something interesting that I have noticed about us and I will touch on it a bit later. This POTS wasn't as clear a winner as last year - DIego Michel, Clement Benard, Yannis Clementia and Baye War also deserve honorable mentions.

 

New signing performance:
The good: The four aforementioned contenders for player of the season all had strong years, as did Manuel Mane. Mane - Benard - Michel was our midfield for most of the season, keeping out the likes of Ahmed Kashi and Roger Tamba despite their previous steady displays. The midfield was the pick of our team this season, really. Baye War I think is going to be our best player, and has made a promising start to his time here, though our poor form coincided with his arrival. It would be very harsh to link the two though, as he generally performed well. Yannis Clementia booted Julien Perez out of the side and after a chat with Perez, an agreement for him to leave has been reached.

The average: Kevin Rodet the young midfielder stayed in the reserve side but didn't really play much. In all honesty I don't expect him to make it here, but it's worth keeping him for just another year to see if he does progress as there aren't great alternatives. Marc Medou was a bit of an enigma. I think he's actually better than Spano, but Spano always seemed to do just about enough to keep himself in the side, and when I finally gave Medou a run, he ended up injured after two good games. I have quite high hopes for Medou though and think he will come good next year, he has only just turned 19.

The bad: I've put three players in here. Samba Samake the right back, Cheick Keita the left back, and Ruben Droehnle the centre back. Samake has a very poor average rating, Keita was truly awful and to be honest was an error from me, he hasn't improved one bit since I signed him after initially thinking he'd lost his way a bit and needed a club like us where he would be first choice. Droehnle just never really performed and was for me, the biggest disappointment relative to expectations. I will give him another try, but I wasn't impressed.

 

Points of note:
Having a bit of a look through the stats, I found some interesting things about us this year...

- We're still a dirty team. Bastia-Borgo topped the charts this year, but we were not far behind them at all. For some context BB got 95 yellow cards, we got 90, and the next highest had 59. I think there's a strong element of it being because we do lack the technical quality of many of our opposition and we play in such a way that spoils the game as a bit of a neutraliser. Bastia-Borgo were similar, they just weren't anywhere near as effective. Likewise with fouls - Bastia-Borgo committed 713, we committed 690, and the next was 473.

- We are so much better away than at home it is scary. We had the leagues best away record (11-6-2) which is, lets be fair, pretty remarkable for a club of our budget. That is very much a promotion away record. The next best team had 7 less points. The flip side is while you could argue our away form saved us from trouble, you could argue our home form cost us promotion. Our home record was 5-4-10, 18th in the league and better than only the two sides so blatantly out of their depth. We also lost our last 6 home games, which is a worry.

- We conceded 9 penalties. This again was only better than Ajaccio and Bastia-Borgo.

- Our expected goals for was 10th, our expected goals against was 10th, so on that basis, we overperformed a little.

- This was the one that really interested me. We created the most clear cut chances in the division. There is a real case to say that Spano actually held us back, though I think he did his fair share in the build up too, so it's probably a little unfair on him. It does pose the question though that if we did have slightly better finishing, how big a difference could it actually make? I think Medou will get more gametime next season, that is my plan anyway.

 

Where to strengthen:
I have identified a few key areas, and my summer I hope will look something like this...

GK - Young backup to replace Perez. I will potentially bring two in as there is no depth in this position at all at the club, and as stated, Perez is leaving.

LB - Keita simply isn't good enough. I think we need a new first choice left back with him becoming backup.

CB - This season we had four, Sans, Boyer, Droehnle and Vernet. Sans did well but is getting older. Boyer likewise, Droehnle wasn't really good enough, Vernet just isn't ever going to be. For me we need a new young centre back, preferably somebody who could replace Sans.

CAM - This is not a top priority, but I think we need to rotate formations a little better and nobody is really that creative in that position anymore.

RW - We need another winger to replace the departing Bossiwa. I don't want to become reliant on loanees, and I think although Alfarela has done well in that position, he isn't 'really' that good, and somebody of a similar playing style but with better attributes will make quite a difference.

Potentially others, but they are my main priorities. You could potentially add a right back to this, and a striker perhaps as Le Tallec is going this time. Next season I think is about consolidation in the league - to strengthen the squad, bring in some more younger players, but just avoid relegation. The fact my players were insulted for me to suggest they were even capable of survival next year (despite coming 7th) suggests we did overachieve and we need to strengthen.

 

The rest of football

France: PSG collected another title, just the 20 point gap this time to 2nd placed Lille. The real shocks came below those two though as Stade Brestois came 3rd, qualifying for the Champions League qualifiers. Metz also defied the odds to finish 4th, with Lyon and Marseille making up the rest of the top six. Lille beat PSG in the cup final. Montpellier and Le Havre went down, and Lens may join them if they fail to overcome Toulouse in the play-off final.

Other leagues: Barcelona, Manchester City, Juventus, Bayern Munich and Benfica all won their leagues in a totally predictable year. There really was such an absence of surprise in this season bar what happened in France - there seriously isn't really one side that I would say finished in a position of note, perhaps arguably Hertha Berlin making the Champions League.

Continental: Inter won the Champions League, beating Atletico Madrid in the final, the only real notes were both Milan sides seem to have gotten their act into gear as they both made the last 8, Inter of course going all the way. Athletic Club beat Hertha in the Europa League final. Lazio beat Gladbach in the Europa Conference League final. The French teams delivered another poor season in Europe.

 

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It is up to FC Annecy to show PSG the way in Europe someday....

I agree with @_Ben_ that you are doing things the "right way" and are you enjoying yourself?

I am still playing my Debrecen Save, but stopped posting in this forum, because of lack of comments from readers. That is what I really enjoy is discussing strategy, tactics, and of course players with other players.

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2 hours ago, Hootieleece said:

It is up to FC Annecy to show PSG the way in Europe someday....

I agree with @_Ben_ that you are doing things the "right way" and are you enjoying yourself?

I am still playing my Debrecen Save, but stopped posting in this forum, because of lack of comments from readers. That is what I really enjoy is discussing strategy, tactics, and of course players with other players.

I am enjoying it. It is really weird but I think I explained why - I feel now like there's a bit more realism because we've struggled a bit. At one point I was starting to think this is just completely silly. For the long term satisfaction of the save, I'm happy what happened, happened.

Just got to make sure I don't carry it into next season and get relegated. I think we will be OK though. I think we're having a good summer.

I will make more effort to comment in other threads. I quite like this as a bit of a diary for myself even if others won't read it. It was that Guadalajara save that actually encouraged me to sign up to here, somebody else on here linked me to it, gathering that I would enjoy it because of the Andorra thing. It didn't disappoint.

I don't think I could ever fully get into doing spreadsheets for development and everything though. Great to read mind.

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New signings and our start

22 hours ago, Dan1884 said:

Where to strengthen:
I have identified a few key areas, and my summer I hope will look something like this...

GK - Young backup to replace Perez. I will potentially bring two in as there is no depth in this position at all at the club, and as stated, Perez is leaving.

LB - Keita simply isn't good enough. I think we need a new first choice left back with him becoming backup.

CB - This season we had four, Sans, Boyer, Droehnle and Vernet. Sans did well but is getting older. Boyer likewise, Droehnle wasn't really good enough, Vernet just isn't ever going to be. For me we need a new young centre back, preferably somebody who could replace Sans.

CAM - This is not a top priority, but I think we need to rotate formations a little better and nobody is really that creative in that position anymore.

RW - We need another winger to replace the departing Bossiwa. I don't want to become reliant on loanees, and I think although Alfarela has done well in that position, he isn't 'really' that good, and somebody of a similar playing style but with better attributes will make quite a difference.

Potentially others, but they are my main priorities. You could potentially add a right back to this, and a striker perhaps as Le Tallec is going this time. Next season I think is about consolidation in the league - to strengthen the squad, bring in some more younger players, but just avoid relegation. The fact my players were insulted for me to suggest they were even capable of survival next year (despite coming 7th) suggests we did overachieve and we need to strengthen.

The following came in:

Shea Charles - This to me was simply a fantastic coup. 18 years old and good enough to start already, will replace Sans in the XI as he's losing what little pace he had. Charles can go on to play in Ligue 1.
Bryand Soga - Free transfer from Cameroon, my Bossiwa replacement. He does lack pace, but he makes up for it with some of his technical attributes and I think he will be a good fit for us.
Hyapoute Djiba - Free transfer, my backup to Clementia. I think he's yet another good one for a free. Julien Perez departed to newly promoted Concarneau.
Alex Kpakpe - Another promising youngster, probably too soon to start him regularly this season, but he's developing already and I think he's likely to take Droehnle's place.
Souleymane Diaby - We replaced Keita, and broke our transfer record in order to do so, paying £200k for the left back. He represents a quite significant upgrade in this position.
Rayan Sroler - I paid £120 for him, that is no typo, one hundred and twenty pounds. For me he was worth a go at such a small price.
Miccoli - I wanted him last season but couldn't do a deal, however he came for a very small fee in the end. He strengthens our midfield.

Whether we had done enough to arrest the slump we found ourselves in last season - we were to find out.

Well, once again, I must stress, be careful what you wish for.

 

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We aren't looking good.

You already get the feeling that this is going to be a really arduous, dogfight of a season and I'm pretty much 50/50 on if we are going to make it or not.

The positive is that despite being winless, we're still above 6 other teams, and have only lost twice. So we're keeping things tight, you can at least say.

But there is a real dearth of quality in our game, and I'm losing faith in the overall process put in place simply because I find myself wanting to tweak something game by game. I don't think we have struck any kind of balance so far this season. I feel like we keep fixing one problem, and creating another.

It's good that we didn't lose away at both newly promoted sides (Laval, Concarneau) as I expect those two to be ones we're fighting with, but truth be told, I don't really think we would beat them at home either.

There has been a lot of mixing and matching for me. I've given Medou his go, and despite him getting a couple of goals, he hasn't been good enough and I think Spano has got to come back in. Suspensions have been a real problem this year as we never seem to be able to settle on an XI. There is always a drawback and it always seems to get picked up on.

I suppose this is what you would expect to happen for a club of our stature in this league, but there is a worrying hint of Sheffield United about this. We really just need to win a game, soon.

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Getting back to basics. That was what I think brought me the shock win at Nimes. It was like an away performance from last season - organised, dangerous going forward and even their goal was a late consolation.

But after a similarly impressive start at home to Nancy, we collapsed, conceding at the end of the first half and then somehow another two right at the death. Following battering Chambly and failing to grab a winner, and an absolutely terrible performance against fellow strugglers Dunkerque, you would be forgiven for thinking we are cursed at home. It's now a pathetic 10 months, or 16 games, since we tasted victory at home. It's such a terrible basis for any kind of success. We have a ground far too big for us and we never win in it. It's miserable.

I'm very much 50/50 on our survival. I was confident after the win at Chateauroux but the subsequent defeats were so pitifully bad I'm having massive doubts. We haven't even played runaway leaders Montpellier yet either - and I fully expect Le Havre, relegated from Ligue 1 last season, to pick up their season.

Too many players not performing, but in truth, I think we're just being shown up for what we really are - a small club with a young, and generally pretty poor squad. I think I'm going to have to swallow my pride on a couple of things, and the first move is to bring back Bossiwa. Soga has been a disaster, Baye War has been a real letdown overall, Medou isn't doing it. To be honest - picking a player of the season is looking a very tough one. If we had the award now, I would probably end up giving it to the goalkeeper, and that is never a good sign.

Worrying times, and work to do.

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14 minutes ago, Dan1884 said:

Worrying times, and work to do.

It's the overcoming of these times that make the save for me. I'm sure you have both the tactical, transfer and squad management nous to do this! Good luck.

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1 minute ago, _Ben_ said:

It's the overcoming of these times that make the save for me. I'm sure you have both the tactical, transfer and squad management nous to do this! Good luck.

100%. That's the fun part. I can honestly say that win at Nimes was probably my most satisfying win at Annecy yet.

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