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[FMT 21] - En Avant les Costarmoricains de Bretagne


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Posted (edited)

Surely not the most inspired thread name. But on the other side, threads are only meant to keep track of progress and share your success (to be read as struggles) with the others on the forum. But for some time I am big fan of playing Football Manager (Touch since the kid appeared into our lives) with added restrictions. Lately I've been toying around with using only players from a certain region (more like the renowned Basque-only policy of Athletic Bilbao), and in this iteration of the game I already had fun with doing it in Lombardy (failed at first with Lecco from Serie C and then was a little more successful with Brescia - won Conference League and qualified for Champions League from Serie A). This time I will be moving to another region with a strong local pride (including traditions, language, customs etc.).

Brittany (or Bretagne in other variants) is a small region situated in the westernmost part of France. Holding a strong component of the Celtic history and background of the region, local inhabitants are not different to most of France when insisting more on their "esprit de clocher" than regional or national levels. For the purpose of this career I will be going with the historical limits of the Bretagne region, which include both the 4 Departments of the region Brittany (Cotes-d'Amour - hence the reference in the title, Finistere, Ille-et-Vilaine and Morbihan) and the department of Loire-Atlantique (situated currently in the region Pays de la Loire). Careers in Bretagne around this forum used to be very popular a while ago, when @breizhdaviken won the tittle with Rennes early seasons in, @nie jem frytek had done the same but with a harder challenge as he managed Carquefou, while @higgins played only a bit with Guingamp before abandoning early on. You can also find some interesting challenges with Brittany as a separate nation on the FM Editors part of the forum (although haven't seen one yet for FM 21). 

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The map above depicts the football clubs of Bretagne (might have skipped some lower ones in Championnat National 2 or 3 situated in the Loire-Atlantique. Playing with FM Touch means I am constricted to only out-of-the-box leagues, which are the first three divisions of France. I guess the region could be considered a hot-bed of football in France, as in the season 2020-2021 where we will be starting they had a good representation across the leagues:
- Ligue 1 host no less than 4 teams from Brittany (the highest number of teams), those being: Rennes, Nantes, Brest and Lorient.
- Ligue 2 is currently only represented by Guingamp.
- Championnat National has 2 teams: Concarneau and Stade Briochin.

Now, ideally given the constraints of only playing with players from the Bretagne region I would have liked to start at the bottom level. Unfortunately one is not able to buy a game jersey my size from my country from either Concarneau and Stade Briochin, and that has become a must-have condition for my FM careers the past years (currently around 40 and counting). Therefore I had to move one league up, and had my eyes set on En Avant Guingamp. Also known as Les Guingampais or Les Costarmoricains, the club are coming from the small village of Guingamp (home to only around 7,000 inhabitants). Noticeable is that their stadium Stade de Roudourou can host 19,000 spectators, and given there are no big towns in the immediate proximity, the club are surely punching above their weight. Guingamp has managed to spend 13 seasons in Ligue 1 and their biggest performance is that they managed to win the French Cup in 2009 (as a second level club) and 2014. Both times they defeated in the final fellow Breton club Rennes.

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Career objectives:
- Promote to League 1 in a maximum of 3 seasons
- Build a squad of only Bretons and Academy Products
- Qualify again for an European Competition
- Finish higher than 7th in League 1 (best historical position)
- Have a positive record against Breton clubs (will be tracking this)
- Win another Coupe de France to make it 3 trophies
- Have a player called up to the France NT (Main squad or U21)
- Have a player score more than 69 league goals (current record of Stephane Guivarc'h)
- Have a player with more than 386 appearances (current record of Claude Michel)

Edited by Muttley84
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Not an unknow manager by any means, at least by the name - Jeremy Toulalan (admitted, I have screwed up his age there, but not very important for this). He is actually a native of Nantes, but I have yet to find a former player at a good enough level who is born in Guingamp. So let us just pretend that Toulalan ended his career and was named as manager at En Avant Guingamp. Media prediction sees us finishing in 3rd (so I'll take that) and we have good enough facilities for Ligue 2. Just hoping I can keep up with the expectations.

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7 minutes ago, john1 said:

Good luck :cool: Not bad team to start with :thup:

Thanks. The team isn't bad but I am no great manager either, so that levels things a bit ;)

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The board expectations are pretty high - reach the promotion playoff means finishing in the first 5 in the league. But I guess that is consistent with the media prediction who sees us as the 3rd best team in the league. The club culture is not very strict - strive to make progress on and off the pitch, and therefore that won't influence very much what we do in games. The coaching staff sees us as best suited to line-up in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Although I played a bit to much of it in current edition of the game I won't make extra-efforts to change it, given that our players recruitment restrictions will probably make it a challenge to attract a high number of players. But I am open to this, and for this career the tactic will have to follow the players we can bring at the club... If let's say in a couple of seasons we can attract a higher number of defenders or fullbacks we will switch to 5 at the back, or if we get good strikers we can play with 2 upfront. Will just have to see what is available on the market and construct our tactics to it. That is a bit of a shift from my regular approach where I picked on a tactic and then tried finding the suitable players for it. I do like the squad personality which is overall ambitious.

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I found at the club a pretty balanced squad around positions, with a mixture of experienced or way-to-experienced players (a couple of them 36, a handful around 30) and younger players in their prime years. I cannot say I don't like what I see, but the only negative is that only 2 of them are Bretons so the rest do not really fit with us. Nevertheless I won't rush into kicking them out, as I feel we need to nurture Breton talent gradually in the team.
Goalkeepers could be our weakest spot at the moment, although bot Larsen and Basilio are decent enough options and around the same level, I cannot see any of them being long term viable options.
In the defense a solid option on the right with Mellot, while our best left option (Rebocho) is away on loan and will probably have to start Poaty there for the season. The two DC pairing in the defense will be tough to pic, as there is not much between the Experience of Sorbon, the young Niakite and the prime Sampaio and Eboa Eboa (the last one has a long term injury so might make things a bit easier to pick the order).
In the middle we have to many options for only two place, so probably going to start with Romao and Ba, while looking to offload a couple of the other. In the attacking midfielders department we also have a lot of options, probably the ideal formation will see M'Changama in the middle, with Livolant on the right and Pele on the left.
Not that many option for the striker, as Gomis is pretty much the standout player to start for us, with Pierrot a more than decent option.
I can not say that I've heard before of many of these players, but hoping they are what the bookies predict them to be, good enough for the top of League 2, just having to live in for the expectations myself as a manager. Allez Guingamp!

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This is how the best available team of Breton players looks like at this moment in time. Not a lot of standout players or well-known ones, probably the best of the bunch being Jordan Veretout in the middle, Gonzalo Higuain in attack (apparently he was born in Brest) and Maxime le Marchand. A lot of central defenders, a few decent central midfielders and not nearly enough fire power on the wings or in attack. It is not like we could afford any of them at the moment, but one can definitely say it is hardly a team to fear or which can achieve great success. Guess we will have to rely a lot in the beginning on the academies of Rennes and Nantes who seem to be producing great players at a high yearly rate. It remains to be seen if we will have the financial power to attract them to Guingamp.

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5 hours ago, rafaelbenitez said:

Camavinga moved to Brittany when he was 2 years old so I think he could form a part of that team.

I did not know that. Even if so, I doubt we can realistically move anywere near him in the next decade... 😆

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I don't think I've ever had recently (as in the last two-three editions of FM) found such a reserves/youth team at any of the clubs. Some players with real good potential in there, some of them could prove important for us on the medium and long term (Hady Camara & Lenny Manisa - DC, Enzo Hamon - D/WB/ML, Louis Carnot - MC or Yoahn Cathline - AMRC). This are only the best picks cause we have overall a good spread of players with more than decent potential. Hopefully I am wise enough to nurture them into becoming important players for our club. The downside is that Guingamp 2 is not currently playing in any competition, so I will have to set up a year of friendlies with lower league clubs nearby (that will be a struggle). Just hoping that come in the net season I get an invitation to register the squad to the reserves competition (this is mostly how things work in Touch). Otherwise will be hard for them to reach potential if they are not getting regular matches against decent competition. 

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Posted (edited)

That is a problem with French saves, The reserves needed never ending friendlies, set up by you to give them match time. It was a problem during my Grenoble save this year...they won almost every match but never promoted to a recognized league.

Edited by Hootieleece
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As per usual in FM Touch we only get one staff member in each position. I would not say they are terrible, but taking aside the Director of Football Alexandre Nicolas the others seem a bit below-par, especially when comparing with the playing squad and the facilities of the club. Maybe the HoYD could be kept also, although I do not really like his personality.

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The club already did intense transfer activity before my arrival, so I don't think we are going to see many more deals coming in, although we do have around 1M in the transfer budget and a couple of hundred k in the wage budget. Guingamp made a hefty profit out of the transfer window, and it all came from the sale of a single player - Ludovic Blas a 22 yrs old multi-position midfielder who left to fellow Breton club Nantes for a fee of 8M. He looks really good and wish him the best into making a name for himself in Ligue 1. 

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We got off to a pretty weird pre-season, but it was mainly cause the friendlies were already arranged and against some pretty heavy opposition. However, we managed to get a bore draw against Hoffenheim, lost to Milan (dunno why on earth would Milan come play such a friendly at our home) and won against a fellow second division team from Spain - Rayo Vallecano. We already have 7000 season ticket holders for the coming seasons, and together with the matchday tickets maybe we can average around 10k if we perform well. Actually, this is better than what I expected from a rural region and France's Ligue 2. Hoping we can capitalize with some money out of the support locals are giving us, and of course that we deliver them good football and wins.

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I talked about keeping track of Breton rivalries, but they are mostly already there in the club data. We have derbies with Rennes (Celtico Derby), Lorient (Breton Derby) and also have Brest as fierce rivals, Stade Briochin and Nantes as local rivals. Pretty much all the teams in the top 3 leagues with the exception of Concarneau (but I doubt we will meet that often). It's a surprise for me how many people are in the Icons sections, some of them well-known players even to the younger ones (Drogba, Malouda) and others from a longer history. Legends are only two - Claude Michel who holds the record for the most appeareances at the club between 1993 and 2005, and Noel Le Graet - who is a local boy, former president of the club for a long period of time, and to my knowledge the current president of the French Football Federation.

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The transfer window ended and not a lot of spectacular activity going on in Guingamp. We let go to some players in the reserves who were never going to make the cut for us. Most of them left on free transfers or for small amounts to lower league clubs. In the arrivals department we brought in two players on loan from Nantes - Batista Mendy who can play in the center (of the midfield mainly but could be used in defense also) and Quentin Merlin for the AML and AMC positions. They are not world beaters but do provide us with a bit of more options and are more than decent for League 2.

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Not the worse start of the season, but not a perfect one either. We started in style winning 3-0 away at Niort, but then we struggled and lost at home to recently relegated Toulouse 0-1. We then sneaked for two Italian style wins (1-0) with Grenoble and Troyes, ending September with a bore 0-0 draw at Caen. Still, we had a pretty hard debut, as Toulouse, Troyes and Caen are among the promotion favorites, so confident we can keep close to the top spots of the league.

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Quiet transfer window for PSG who only payed 32M for Carlos Soler from Valencia, while Lyon made some good deals with Garay on a free and Marega for almost 6M. Wonder what it would be like if we got promoted to fight with our Breton players against these giants.

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46 minutes ago, Muttley84 said:

Quiet transfer window for PSG who only payed 32M for Carlos Soler from Valencia, while Lyon made some good deals with Garay on a free and Marega for almost 6M. Wonder what it would be like if we got promoted to fight with our Breton players against these giants.

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I don't think I have ever seen PSG with such a quiet window...EVER! 

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1 hour ago, MattyLewis11 said:

I don't think I have ever seen PSG with such a quiet window...EVER! 

Give them time, it is just the first one in the summer of 2020, added to the ones they already bought irl. For sure gonna spend more in the others 

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We are preparing for our entry in the French Cup and I've learned that we need to use  strong team even if we play against lower league opposition. The rules state that we need to have 7 players in the match squad who played in one of the previous 2 official league games. Interesting take on that one, although the fine for not making it is so small it wouldn't be a problem. 

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Overall we are on a good run of results. Sure, we did lost another game, and it was a hard blow as we lost 3-0 at Valenciennes, but other than that we had two draws (with Auxerre which are sitting in 4th and Ajaccio who are 2nd), the rest being all wins (Le Havre, Dunkerque, Pau, Rodez and Amiens). Come December we are sitting in 3rd after 13th games (around 1/3 of the league), but we are only 2 points off from the top (in the same time 2 points ahead of the last playoff place).

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Youth intake preview looks really good, both in numbers and distribution of player roles. Hopefully it can leave to these expectation and we get some hot prospects at Guingamp.

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We seem to be on a pattern here, where we would lose one match each month. In December it was at home to Sochaux. But that is not bad at all as those monthly performances have sent us all the way to 2nd in the league, just a point below Caen, as we approach the mid point of the season.

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I'm conflicted. I know this is a Guingamp thread, but I can't help but cheer for Clermont and Grenoble!:idiot:

 

Maybe it was because I had so many terrible trips to Brittany in those saves!

 

Anyway KUTGW!

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2 hours ago, Hootieleece said:

I'm conflicted. I know this is a Guingamp thread, but I can't help but cheer for Clermont and Grenoble!:idiot:

 

Maybe it was because I had so many terrible trips to Brittany in those saves!

 

Anyway KUTGW!

Actually played two years ago with Grenoble only using players from Auvergne Rhones Alpes. It was substantially easier as Lyon and St Ettienne produced world class players over the years.  Still, only managed a promotion to League 1 followed by a prompt relegation and sack.

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Oh, aren't we lucky, so much for our chances of going through in the Franch Cup. At least there are going to be good money coming out of it.

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Haha, take that u greedy rich bast....! Not really sure how that happened, but we'll take it any day. Not like we FMed them, we had 52% of the possession and the difference in xG was not that notable. Guess it was a lucky match but good for our profile anyways, a League 2 team eliminating the might PSG from the French Cup would make headlines for sure.

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Might have celebrated our win against PSG in the cup a bit to much, as we exit the competition exactly in the same round at Nimes (who are actually battling relegation from Ligue 1). Oh, well, it was fun while it lasted, success in that competition was never a primary target for us. What is important is that we went undefeated in the league and took 11 points from 5 matches to climb into the first position in the league. With 15 more games left to play it is pretty clear we will be fulfilling the board request of reach the playoffs, only question is - can we achieve direct promotion at first go?

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11 hours ago, Muttley84 said:

Haha, take that u greedy rich bast....! Not really sure how that happened, but we'll take it any day. Not like we FMed them, we had 52% of the possession and the difference in xG was not that notable. Guess it was a lucky match but good for our profile anyways, a League 2 team eliminating the might PSG from the French Cup would make headlines for sure.

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Wow a massive achievement, it took me four seasons with OGC Nice to secure a victory against PSG! 

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Let us take a moment to shortly analysis our performances so far. I do not really have the in-depth statistical and tactical analysis skills of some of the fellow colleagues on this forum, but I guess I can draw some preliminary conclusions as we passed the half point of the league. We were pretty strict in the beginning as we only played in 4-2-3-1, but I am going to switch this a bit for the season finale. It is obvious that our strength is the passing game, and we have the best possession % in the league (a bit to be expected as our tactics is called Control Possession). In the same time our weakest spot seems to be in the defense where we are letting to many opportunities and goals for the opposition pass through us.

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As the Reserves are not playing in any division I have the task of manually fixing them matches for almost each week (wonder if there's a way to do it automatically in FM Touch, I found nowhere to delegate the responsibilities for that). They are playing the matches under the Head of Youth Development it would seem, and he kind of uses the same tactics as we do. Might be also due to the fact he has it as a preferred formation himself, but not sure. I arranged for fixtures against mainly really lower league opposition clubs from the area of Bretagne. Just hoping that next year we will have the option to register the Reserves in an official competition to give them real game time (I realize I don't have Championnat National 2 and 3 available, but in Touch we do have a reserves competitions for some club - although not sure how does one gets there).

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Very close at the top of the league but with us not top of the league anymore. We had some mediocre performances in February, which included a loss away at Pau and draws with Le Havre and Ajaccio, and with 10 games left in the league we are 2nd. 1 point bellow Caen who is sitting in 1st and 1 point over Nancy in 3rd. Most important we are 11 points margin in the playoff places so for sure we can already say we achieved the board expectations. Need to concentrate on the season finale and maybe we will achieve direct promotion.

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I think you are certainly safe to say you have secured a playoff spot, going to be an exciting finish to the campaign. 

Surprised to see Toulouse sitting in 9th place. 

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Not sure what we are doing wrong but our finances are on a steady decline from the beginning of the season, as we recorded loses almost every month. Guess it's a lower league general situation across the leagues.

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1 hour ago, MattyLewis11 said:

Have you looked at the detailed expenditure information, you should be able to work out what the problem is. 

Mostly a problem of incomes not expenditure. We are generating to little revenues.

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A month with just three games, and what it would seem like an easier schedule compared to last months. However, the pressure of the first place mush have gotten to us, as we only managed to grab a win at home to Valenciennes thanks to an own goal they scored in the 92th minute. Away we only managed two draws at 0-0 with Rodez and Amiens, and I guess this is the first time in a long time that my players did not score a league goal in an entire month. Caen and Nancy managed to take advantage of our draws and jumped over us in the table. We are now sitting in 3rd, close-by behind the two of them.

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We got our first youth intake of the career and to be fair is a pretty darn good one. Also in numbers, cause in Touch we always have the problem of getting extra-small intakes, but also in quality of the prospects, quite a few of them look like they could become reliable squad options for us in the future. Some of my top prospects include Warren Ferri, Alaeddine Ayari and Marcel Halligan, looking pretty decent for some 15 years old. Hoping we can nurture them to grow good despite our second time not having competitive matches. A bit surprised by the spread of nationalities across the intake, I would have expected that Guingamp being a small regional club would be more French-based, but I guess globalization reached Britanny also.

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45 minutes ago, MattyLewis11 said:

Things are starting to heat up, what does the remaining fixture list look like?

Just a home game with Nancy which can be deciding, other than that pretty accessible matches for us.

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Looking pretty good for the season finale. Just four more matches and it is a 3 horse race for the two direct promotion places, between us, Caen and Nancy, with just 2 points between us. Hoping we can achieve direct promotion, would be a shame considering we got this far...

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Earlier in the season Nimes took us out of the French Cup, and they went all the way to the final. Unfortunately for them they got destroyed by OM in the final (I have never seen a 0.03 xG in a game before), a 6-0 thrashing which sent the trophy to Marseille. 

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We actually did it! Not only did we won promotion to Ligue 1, but we also won the Ligue 2. A perfect combination of an easier schedule and Nancy bottling it (they lost the last 3 league matches) see us finishing with 82 points. Now we are celebrating this success, but come tomorrow we will start thinking about what we can do to be ready for Ligue 1.

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Posted (edited)

Maybe we could sell him better after this, although I doubt it he will start ahead of Schmeichel. 

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Edited by Muttley84
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