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[FM21] Bonjour, les Guêpes!


KlaaZ
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After almost ten years at FC Kobenhavn, winning numerous titles, and four European cups (which you can read about here), I was looking for a new challenge. Preferrably in a bigger league this time, but one that has a glass ceiling in the sense that it has a few teams that will be very hard to overcome in the top league.

France was the obvious choice. It's not Spain, England, Italy or Germany but it has a few teams, especially PSG, that may take a long time to break down if you want to win a domestic title. It's also a great country when it comes to home grown talent, and I do like developing players from a young age rather than spending big.

At first, I was looking into managing Paris FC (as they're Paris based just like PSG), but as I wanted to start at the bottom and they're in the Ligue 2, that plan quickly went out the window. After that, I considered SC Lyon because of their rivalry with big brothers OL. But in the end, I chose for a team in a city rich in history: US Orléans, who were relegated from the Ligue 2 last year but are very eager to go straight back up. 

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Meeting the squad

As we're promotion contenders and the media prediction is a second place, there is quite a bit of quality in the squad. Even better, quite a few of them are still young with room to improve. That said, I'm looking into freebies to see if I can expand the squad a little more but I'm already at the ceiling of my wage budget so there's not much room to wheel and deal. 

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The standout players on first glance are Perrin and Goujon, followed by Demoncy and Lambèse. The good news is that they're all 24 years old and could get better, meaning I can probably carry them into the Ligue 2 if I can get promoted. In central defense, Saint-Ruf is probably our best option alongside captain Lybohy, who just turned 37.

 

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That said, it's hard to judge where I'm at compared to the opposition as I've never managed in this league. 

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Bienvenu, Hakim Guenouche

Our first transfer since I took over is a new left back. Hakim is French, young, quite all round and has room for improvement. More importantly, he's a free agent so he doesn't cost us a penny. Indirectly he does though, because I had to shift some money from the transfer budget to the wage budget in order to sign him.

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In other news, both Demoncy and Perrin sign a new deal, keeping them at the club until 2023 and 2024 respectively. 

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Preseason

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Very happy with the result against Auxerre, where we went behind almost immediately but created two amazing chances through some solid counters, converting one of them. We ended the game with a higher xG than them.

In the other games, we played well and always outclassed the opposition. I'm just unhappy about the result against Harelbeke where we blew a 2-0 lead. The draw against Knokke was more down to bad luck, as we went behind early through a penalty. 

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Hopefully this will result in some decent loanies. The additional income is nice too. 

We also bring in a few loan players, the most important one being Amadou Sagna.

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Opening game

Great start of the season where we absolutely trashed Stade Lavallois who are predicted to finish in 5th place. Encouraging and hopefully a sign to come for the future. 

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Ten games in, and we're doing what we're supposed to be doing. Could have had a five point gap if we hadn't lost that ridiculous game against FC Sète 34.

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The last game, away at Le Mans who were predicted league winners, was absolute shambles. We completely outclassed them in the first half and were 4-0 up at half time. But then we almost threw it almost all away in the second. They scored in the 59th, 67th and 91st minute. I then went up again 3-5 in the 94th, and they pulled another one back in the 96th. Insane. 

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Winter break, leading the pack (which is always preferrable to chasing)!

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We pick up again on January 9th away at SC Bastia, very important game.

Oh, and we made it to the 8th round of the French Cup, where we were unlucky to draw Ligue 2 side Grenoble away. We kept it even for a long time but eventually broke down and succumbed to a 3-0 loss. Board wanted 9th round minimum but they understood. I hope. 

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Bit peeved about the games against SO Cholet (where we blew a lead twice) and Red Star (who we played off the field but if you can't score...).

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Transfer news!

I'm delighted to announce that Rayan Raveloson, a 23-year old midfielder from Madagascar who currently plays for Troyes, will be joining us on a free next season. As I'm already over the wage budget, I did have to go a little crazy on the contract so I offered him 50% of any future transfer. 

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Ten games until the finish line, and we're looking good! A twelve point gap with third place means direct promotion is almost guaranteed, barring a huge dip in form. We're on an unbeaten streak of twelve games now, the main issue being that we either score for fun in a game, or not at all. For example, we beat Bastia 4-0, followed by two 0-0 draws in which we had plenty of chances to get the same result. But going up is the most important thing as the financial struggle there will hopefully be a bit less. We're currently almost 1.5M in the red, so I'm very curious to see what my budgets will be next season.

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We're up! Now we just need to finish in style and secure the title.

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Also, surprisingly, we get a transfer kitty next season of 1M and an expansion of the wage budget. Which will be necessary because we need an influx of quality if we don't want to go straight back down.

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12 minutes ago, karanhsingh said:

I enjoyed your Danish adventure so good luck with this! 

Cheers! I'll still try to finish the tenth season (if only for the achievement) and make a finale writeup after that. :)

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Final table!

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Great season, especially offensively. We averaged over two goals a game, which is great, while keeping it quite respectable on the defensive side being joint best defense with Red Star FC. The surprise of the season was Carnejy Antoine, who replaced Hicham Benkaid up front when the latter ran into a hip injury that kept him sidelined for four months, and never looked back. 32 games, 26 goals and seven assists. 

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Right, the bad news is that I have to shift through millions of trialists in order to find someone half decent to strengthen the squad. The good news is that, although we're still in the red, we're projected to make a healthy profit over the next few years (assuming we don't get relegated). Very happy to get approximately 5M in TV money each year, goes a long way to filling the pit. 

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Preseason is gone and done, and it didn't look too good when you look at the results. 

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Despite the narrow loss against Nice, we were pretty much balled out of the park for the entire game and we scored from our only shot on target. The result against Championship side Birmingham was deserved, but the next two games against teams from the National (which is where we got promoted from) were not good. Plenty of chances against Rodez but we were very lucky to win the other one. The game against Almeria was more of the same, we were the better team but scoring is for some reason a huge problem. Antoine hasn't scored a single goal so far and I'm having trouble finding a replacement who is better. 

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Five games in, and it looks like the step up from National to Ligue 2 is actually less of a problem than expected. We had some luck in the game at Dijon where a penalty kick really helped us on our way, but the other games were at least even. It could even have been 15/15 but we squandered too many chances away at FC Chambly Oise.

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Final few days of the transfer market as well, will post an update when it closes.

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Transfer overview 2021-2022

A very busy window sees us bringing in ten new players, three of which are on loan. Six freebies, and Gautier Lloris from Auxerre for a measely 31.5k. Living the bargaining life. On the other hand, we'll need to cut some dead wood as the squad is now too big and I had to adjust the budget to stick to the wage cap. 

We reloaned Sagna from Club Brugge to give us some more options on the wing; and Chrigor from Bragantino to do the same in the striker position. 

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Apart from that, Valentin Jacob is an improvement in attacking midfield, he comes over from Niort for free. 

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The final important signing is a new goalkeeper. Andrea Seculin is a 31-year old Italian who played for Chievo almost his entire career, but only making two appearances in eight seasons. He'll compete with L'Hostis for a place between the stakes.

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The most 'important' player to leave is Benkaid who is blocked by Antoine and new loan striker Chrigor. We also get rid of Florian Lapis, Théo Vermot and Gabriel Etinof. 

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And all of a sudden, we're down ten places in the table because we lose three games in a row. Should've been ahead in the last one against Troyes but once we concede, it's like we open the floodgates really. Same against Havre AC, they deserved the win but the difference was a LOT closer than the scoreline suggests. I'm just not sure how to fix it as we're not even playing badly, but we keep conceding stupid goals. 

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Five games without a win, and more importantly, we can't find the back of the net. Plenty of chances but that doesn't matter if you can't convert and are on the other end of the stick WAY too often.

 

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We're at the winter break and exceeding all expectations. If we could just turn more draws into wins, we'd probably even get into the playoff spots. That said, I believe we lack a little bit of quality both up front and in defense to do so, which shows in both our goals scored and conceded.

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The good news is, Chrigor has been making some impressive progress and he'll join on a permanent basis in January for a deal totalling 170k. He'll sign a deal until December 2024, with a 3.5M release clause for French clubs which means that if he wants to leave, it'll be for big bucks.

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Once again a quick exit in the French Cup, and once again because we a) draw a ridiculously tought opponent at the first possible chance and b) because the referee wanted to be the center of attention. 

Note: Out of the last four games we played, we condeded four (!) penalties. 

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The January window isn't very busy. As stated earlier, we brought Chrigor in on a permanent deal. Apart from that, the only signing is a talented 18-year old Uruguayan who was released from Defensor Sporting. Rodriguez can play both wings and is two footed. I also like his technical ability and the fact that he adds a bit of flair. 

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On the outgoing side Salifou Diarrassouba, a new signing this summer, wasn't happy with his playing time. He's blocked by Valentin Jacob who is performing well so we grant him his wish to leave. Nîmes offer 250k, which leaves us with a slight transfer profit after bringing in Chrigor. Easy money!

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Fairly sure we're gonna miss out on the promotion spots, and if we do, it's because we have too many games like this. The type of match where you get some excellent chances, don't finish, and then the floodgates open.

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Six games to go and everything to play for despite some of the wonky results. One point from a playoff spot! I'm honestly not sure if I'd even want to get promoted because I don't think we're even close to ready for the Ligue 1. But on the other hand, finances are still very tight and even surviving a relegation battle in the Ligue 1 would mean muchos more dineros in the bank compared to consistently playing the top eight in the Ligue 2. On the other hand, we're still in a 7.5k seats stadium, with below average training and youth facilities. 

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A win in the next game against FCSM would go a long way to securing that playoff spot. Caen, Lyon and Grenoble are all fighting against relegation, Amiens is in third place and Guingamp is trailing us by only three points. It's going to be a photo finish, that's for sure.

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First hurdle, taken in style. If Chrigor keeps this up, we may be in for a BIG surprise at the end of the season.

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Last season, 60 points would have been enough for a playoff spot but this year, the bottom teams pick up disappointingly little. I believe we'll need three wins in our last five games to edge it. 

 

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Five points clear! We won in Caen thanks to a goal and an assist by Chrigor, despite another very dodgy penalty (I'm hoping the Ligue 1 has VAR because jees) and FCSM got battered 0-3 at home by Troyes. With four games to go, we're in the driving seat. 

 

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End of the regular competition and we aced it, finishing in fourth place. We were in contention for the direct promotion spot until the final day (thanks to a great home win against second placed Amiens), but despite trashing Grenoble 0-3, our direct competitors also did what they had to do, which means the final positions remain unchanged. Fun fact, 72 points would have made us Ligue 2 winners last season.

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Our fourth place means we have the home advantage in the quarter final against Dijon.

 

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Our uptick in form in the second half of the season was mainly thanks to two things. Chrigor really picked up and is on the verge on becoming the league's top goalscorer after netting 23 times. Secondly, new January signing Rodriguez has been magnificent for us, providing 9 goals and 9 assists in 15 games. Let's just hope they hang onto their form a wee little longer.

 

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3 minutes ago, john1 said:

What a season :cool: Hopefully you can knock out Dijon :thup: 

Season's done, so you'll soon find out! First food and training though, but I'll do a proper season review tonight. :)

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League review 2021-2022

You've seen bits and pieces already, but here's the full recap. We started off surprisingly well with a six match unbeaten run, five of which were wins. That didn't last though, and up until mid November results deterioriated (kickstarted by three losses in a row which hurt morale). We picked ourselves up again with two wins against Caen and SC Lyon, who were stuck at the bottom of the table but after a very heavy away loss at Amiens at two silly draw before the winter break, I thought a mid table finish was becoming more and more likely. 

However, the signing of Rodriguez and a tactical turnaround where we started playing a more laid back counterattacking type of football set us up for a great second half of the season. We gradually moved in and out of a playoff spot and eventually finished in fourth place  thanks to an amazing sprint to the finish line, winning seven games in a row including a 4-0 trashing of our direct opponents from Sochaux and a very clean 2-0 win against second placed Amiens. 

 

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Because we finished 4th, we gained the home advantage in the quarter final against fifth placed Dijon. We were up 2-0 after only seven minutes of play and ended up putting another one in the back of the net to finish the game 3-0. Chrigor continued his scoring form by bagging a brace.

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Next up was a very tricky away game at Havre AC, a team who trashed us in their home game 4-1 and who we wiped the floor with in the return game 4-0. In an at first very tight affair, Touré put us ahead after 20 minutes with a fabulous banana strike into the top corner from 25 yards out. And just before half time, he scored his second from the penalty spot, securing us the win and a double confrontation with the 18th placed team in the Ligue 1, Strasbourg.

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We started at home and in a game where I feel we actually deserved more, a cynical hand ball from Zesiger led to a penalty kick and the only goal of the game, 0-1 to Strasbourg and a very, very difficult task ahead in the return to salvage the situation. Chrigor's equalizer around the hour mark was chalked off for offside. Two calls from the VAR, sadly, so my earlier complaints about conceding unjust penalty kicks kind of came back to bite me in the ***.

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But as the saying goes, it ain't over 'til the fat lady sings. We went into the return with the desire to fight until the final minute and somehow, everything went for us. We had four attempts on goal... And scored three times, with another brace from Touré (two scorchers from distance, again) and Chrigor to put the icing on the cake. It wasn't deserved but on the other hand, the game was very even until they missed an open chance in the final minute which almost doubled their xG. Either way, I don't care, we're going up.

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