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[FM22] To Win Or Toulouse


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To Win Or Toulouse

As mentioned in the opening post, expectations are high in Toulouse this season with the bookmakers having us down to go on and win Ligue 2. The board themselves hold us hostage to similar expectations, expecting us to win promotion at the end of the campaign. It is understandable that this is expected of us given the performance of last year and I, myself, will be disappointed should we fail to deliver the expectations that have been set upon us. Let's take a look at the squad who will hopefully lead us back to the top-flight come the end of the campaign.

The Squad

Goalkeepers:

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We are blessed with three goalkeepers in our first-team squad and three very decent 'keepers at that. Our first-choice this season will be Isak Peterrsson who was brought in from IFK Norrkoping in the summer. He's a tidy goalkeeper with potential to improve at the age of just 24. He is also on extremely low wages which is a massive positive. Providing immediate back-up to him is Maxime Dupé, who was Toulouse's number one last season prior to the arrival of the Swedish shot-stopper. Whilst he is a more than capable back-up, his wages have him towards the top of the highest-earners at the club and perhaps we could look to move him on. It's something I will certainly consider to just trim the wage-bill a little, if required, and free up some additional funds.

Finally, we have Thomas Himeur, a graduate of the academy, who will likely be loaned out should Dupé remain at the club, else he will be promoted to number two. He has some potential to improve, too, which is pleasing. I'm very happy with our options here.

 

Defenders:

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On first glance, plenty of depth. We will be adopting a four at the back initially and it's likely that the preferred back-four will be Desler, Rouault, Diakité, Sylla. As it is listed this way in-game, I will discuss our central defenders first before moving on to our full-back options. 

As mentioned, our first-choice pairing will be Bafodé Diakité and Anthony Rouault - a pairing that have been developed through the academy - and whilst yet not having played a full-season of senior football between them (making twenty-two and fifteen appearances, respectively), they appear to be two dependable options on paper. They are well-supported by Dane Rasmus Nicolaisen and Saint-Denis-born Logan Costa, the latter being brought in from Reims in the summer. There's plenty of ability and potential within the mix of our options and this is without even looking at the two players we have loaned out - Ruben Gabrielsen (København) and Agustin Rogel (Estudiantes). I am again very content with our options here.

Mikkel Desler, a recent arrival from Norway, will be our first-choice at right-back. He is a well-rounded option and should have no problems at this level defensively and offensively. He does lack much competition with Sam Sanna being listed as his next best competitor for the role. However, I see the 22-year-old as more of a central-midfielder and it therefore may be sensible to look out for somebody who can provide back-up to Desler for the forthcoming season. 

Issiaga Sylla will be our left-back for the season should we manage to survive the interest being shown early doors in him from a number of Ligue 1 clubs. Lukas Kengbo-Meynot and Moussa Diarra are two young players who should have enough to provide cover to Sylla when required. I hope to give a few opportunities to Diarra, especially, who looks quite promising, when the time is right. No further action required here.

 

Midfielders:

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Brecht Dejaegere, Stijn Spierings and Branco van den Boomen are all top players for this level. With the trio, we have three excellent central midfielders with Australian Denis Genreau behind them in the pecking-order. Steve Mvoue is an exciting prospect and would likely benefit from a move out on loan to allow him to gain valuable first-team opportunities, as would 20-year-old Tom Rapnouil. We have the ability to go with a three in midfield with the players we have so decisions are to be made over how I would like to structure my midfield. Kalidou Sidibé (Quevilly) is another decent player we have contracted to us that is out on loan for the season.

Whilst van den Boomen is listed as a number ten, he is much more suited to playing a deeper role and that leaves us with Kiéri Serber and Naatan Skyttä as our only options in this role. Both aren't good enough to be regular starters for us, so it may be a wise idea to invest in somebody who has a bit of a creative spark. I would have liked to let Serber go but unfortunately he is a recent addition from FC Sète 34. I will likely keep Skyttä around - pending how I opt for the midfield configuration to work.

 

Forwards:

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Nathan NGoumou and Stéphane Zobo are the only two wingers in the side which does restrict our options tactically at present. I will certainly be heading into the market to look for wingers as we don't want to restrict ourselves over the course of the season by not having capable options to switch our system if required. Neither man particularly has the ability to start for us either, so there's work to be done. You can't have it all, can you!

Former Cardiff City striker Rhys Healey will be leading the line for us this season. The 26-year-old moved across the Channel for £1,100,000 from Milton Keynes last summer and netted fourteen goals in the process. He has plenty of competition in the form of Rafael Ratao and Ado Onaiwu, both of whom have been brought in this summer from Slovan Bratislava and Yokohama F. Marinos, respectively. We also have Yanis Begraoui amongst the ranks who has plenty of potential himself. Due to the competition ahead of him, I suspect he would most likely benefit from a loan move out.

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10 hours ago, Djecker said:

Intriguing choice - I like it! Good luck toppling PSG :thup:

Cheers mate! I’m looking forward to getting going.

34 minutes ago, deltablue said:

It's good to see we're already getting more French saves ;)

The more, the merrier as far as I’m concerned! :D

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On 30/10/2021 at 19:46, OlivierL said:

Good luck, love the name of this topic :) 

Thanks mate. I was quite proud of the title, so I'm pleased to know it wasn't just me. :lol:

On 30/10/2021 at 22:36, SpillBlood said:

Good luck!  I used to manage Tolouse back when Gignac played there :lol:

We're going quite a way back there then! He's actually down as an icon at the club. What a player he was - and still is, I guess!

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To Win Or Toulouse

July 2021 Review

There wasn't much time at all to get prepared for the new season. Pre-season preparations began on 5th July with our opening pre-season game coming four days later and the start of the new Ligue 2 season coming on 24th July. It meant we had to move fairly quickly if we wanted to be in the best shape possible. We set-up three friendlies ahead of our league opener against AC AJaccio. We would initially host Sint-Truidense of the Belgian Pro League before facing another Pro League side in KAS Eupen. Following two good tests, we would then travel to Villefranche Beaujolais of the Championnat National in the hope of building some confidence before the start of the competitive campaign.

In the midst of our three pre-season games, I was tweaking my tactical set-up and frantically looking for players to bring into the areas mentioned in the previous update - namely a right-back to provide competition to Mikkel Desler and a more defensive-minded midfielder who could slot in-front of the back four. Yes, I had neglected the idea of chasing wingers over the course of pre-season as it soon became clear that there was just no viable options out there for our budget. It was either a case of having to pay far more than I were willing to for a player or just not having the budget at all. Frustrating, but it cannot be helped. This means I have been rather forced into playing a more narrow system. It's something I have never really tried in previous instalments of the game so I am quite intrigued as to what we can achieve with a 4-1-3-2 system.

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The system of choice; simple yet (hopefully) effective.

The first two games of pre-season went by before we managed to bring in any additional faces to the club. However, there was movement heading out of the club as promising forward Yanis Begraoui departed on loan to Paris FC until the end of the season. Tom Rapnouil would also later head out on loan, this time making the switch to Bergerac Périgord FC of the fourth-tier. We would open our account for pre-season in convincing fashion with a 3-0 victory over Sint-Truidense with goals coming from Stijn Spierings, Rhys Healey and Rafael Ratao. However, we would later fall to a 1-0 defeat to fellow Pro-League opposition, Eupen, despite appearing to be the better side on the day. Ah well, learning curves...

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Pre-season 2020/21 was a mixed-bag of fortunes for Toulouse.

We would complete our first signing of the window prior to our final pre-season clash with Villefranche as Batista Mendy completed a season-long-loan move from Angers SCO. The 21-year-old midfielder joins with us paying 100% of his £4,000 p/w contract after he completed a move to Angers from FC Nantes earlier in the summer. Mendy is the perfect option for us - a talented, financially viable player who has the ability to play in-front of the defence and allow the midfield trio ahead of him to worry less about their defensive duties, something which the preferred trio of van der Boomen, Spierings and Dejaegere will relish.

Following our 1-0 victory against our lower-league opposition to wrap-up pre-season, our attention turned to tidying up the last few pieces of business ahead of the new season. After chasing a few targets and missing out for one reason or another - whether that be due to increased wage demands or simply losing out to other clubs' - we finally brought an end to our hunt for a right-back with the signature of Karol Fila from RC Strasbourg Alsace. Another player who joins us on loan having made a permanent switch to his parent club earlier in the summer, Fila joins with us paying £2,600 p/w of his wages alongside a £50,000 payment per month. He will certainly provide adept competition to Mikkel Desler given how well-balanced he is across the board in his attributes. I am very pleased to have brought both him and Mendy in as they give us the quality we desire for a fairly cheap sum between the pair of them.

Another arrival came in prior to the opening-day clash as it soon became apparent that we were going to struggle to keep Issaiga Sylla at the club. With his contract coming to an end at the end of the season, I made the decision to cash-in and accepted an offer from Royal Antwerp of £700,000 once the Belgian side came calling. The deal wouldn't be concluded until after the opening-day so Sylla was given the opportunity to make a farewell appearance since his replacement, Franck Tabanou, was not match-sharp and therefore unable to commit to a start. The 32-year-old is a more than capable replacement and signs on a one-year-deal, therefore giving us the option to assess where we are as to whether we wish to extend his deal past the end of the current campaign which is particularly beneficial given view of his age. He was once on the books of Toulouse before as he made 138 appearances between 2006-2013 before heading to Saint-Etienne. He is also pretty versatile and is more than comfortable playing slightly further up the left-side of the pitch. Nevertheless, welcome home, Franck!

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Six points, two goals and two clean-sheets. Perfect.

With all of that said, we couldn't have asked for a much better start to life in Ligue 2. The opening game of the season against AC Ajaccio proved to be a very one-sided affair with us dominating possession for most of the game. However, despite having control of the game, we were struggling to test the 'keeper - with us failing to hit the target as often as I would have liked. We did, ultimately, break the deadlock early into the second-half and continue to control the game (eventually ending the game with 24 shots to Ajaccio's four) but the theme of us struggling to hit the target continued up until the final whistle. We managed just seven shots on target from those 24 efforts so irrespective of our dominance in the game, I was a little disappointed with our performance in front of goal.

Another 1-0 victory followed but it was a stark contrast to the home win in the previous game. AS Nancy controlled possession far better than Ajaccio did and we had to adapt our game a little in order to cope with their play. Rhys Healey - who bagged the winner in the previous game - would again provide the goal to give us the lead. Nancy, similarly to Ajaccio, didn't fashion much in the way of chances and when they went down to ten-men with fifteen minutes to go, I fancied our chances to hold on for another three points. They did provide us with a late scare as Bafodé Diakité was called into action to make a smart block to deny a goalscoring opportunity in added-time. however we held on for another three points. Another pleasing factor in this game is that young left-back Moussa Diarra was called upon to start the game with Tabanou still getting up-to fitness. He provided the assist to Healey and played very well, averaging a 7.5 rating at the end of the ninety-minutes.

Our two victories have us sat second behind Dijon FCO on goal-difference. We are the only two sides to have a perfect record despite only being two games into the season which I find pretty incredible. I won't upload an image of the league table for this update, however will do so for future updates when there is more reason to do so. Instead, see below a preview of what is to come in August. We should be looking to beat both Pau and newly-promoted SC Bastia, however a game against Dijon FCO before the end of the month will be a very tricky game to navigate.

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25 minutes ago, DefinitelyTaylor said:

I was tweaking my tactical set-up

I heartily endorse the 4132 :lol:. It allowed me an unbeaten end to season 2 and a runners-up spot to PSG! Good to see you taking on Toulouse - they were my last save in FM21, and one of the most enjoyable.

The squad has changed a bit from last year - I would have loved to sign Dejaegere permanently but couldn't - but most of the stars are still there. Van den Boomen was probably my favourite player, but Healey was a stellar performer for two seasons.

That August schedule looks pretty winnable, so good luck :thup:

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So much young talent within the squad, will absolutely get my scouts to take a look at a few of your boys!

Looking forward to seeing how your save progresses, especially given the lack of width - will be keen to see if you can simply out-muscle the opposition through your compact spine.

 

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19 hours ago, warlock said:

I heartily endorse the 4132 :lol:. It allowed me an unbeaten end to season 2 and a runners-up spot to PSG! Good to see you taking on Toulouse - they were my last save in FM21, and one of the most enjoyable.

The squad has changed a bit from last year - I would have loved to sign Dejaegere permanently but couldn't - but most of the stars are still there. Van den Boomen was probably my favourite player, but Healey was a stellar performer for two seasons.

That August schedule looks pretty winnable, so good luck :thup:

That fills me with a bit more confidence. I can honestly say I don't recall playing a system like this before - or at least for a sustained period - so I am very intrigued by how it plays out and fairs over the course of.. however long it lasts! :lol:

Yes, there's been a few changes - in and out. A couple that departed that I'm quite gutted about (like Adli) that I would have liked to have in the squad. However, Dejaegere, van den Boomen and Healey as you mention are all fantastic players so I can't feel too sorry for myself.

Fingers crossed for August.

54 minutes ago, MattyLewis11 said:

So much young talent within the squad, will absolutely get my scouts to take a look at a few of your boys!

Looking forward to seeing how your save progresses, especially given the lack of width - will be keen to see if you can simply out-muscle the opposition through your compact spine.

 

Oh absolutely. I'm pleasantly surprised by the talent of some of the youth. Send those scouts over!

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Nice choice. You get a season to be a big team in the league, work out your tactic and get to know the club before (hopefully) getting to the big time. Having a nice academy and crop of youngsters is always fun too.

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11 hours ago, 13th Man said:

Nice choice. You get a season to be a big team in the league, work out your tactic and get to know the club before (hopefully) getting to the big time. Having a nice academy and crop of youngsters is always fun too.

That's pretty much the craic. They seemed to be the perfect fit when scouting around for the ideal first save of the new FM cycle. I like to give myself some time to bed into the game but never want something too easy, even to begin with. 

11 hours ago, karanhsingh said:

I like the tactic but I feel like you could have at least one attacking role in midfield and defense each.

It's something to monitor. I have to admit that if there is one thing I'm probably not the best at, it probably would be tactics rather worryingly! It seems to be a solid base so we can make adjustments as we go when required.

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11 minutes ago, DefinitelyTaylor said:

It's something to monitor. I have to admit that if there is one thing I'm probably not the best at, it probably would be tactics rather worryingly! It seems to be a solid base so we can make adjustments as we go when required.

You are going with an attacking mentality so your players should be talking plenty of risks. That said, you might not get the movement you need with the roles, so might be good to have some attacking roles in midfield and/or just WBs instead of FBs so they get forward and provide width.

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45 minutes ago, 13th Man said:

You are going with an attacking mentality so your players should be talking plenty of risks. That said, you might not get the movement you need with the roles, so might be good to have some attacking roles in midfield and/or just WBs instead of FBs so they get forward and provide width.

I did think that would be the case, hence the decision to go with the 'Attacking' mentality. But again, I absolutely see the point you make about the roles. Many thanks for the advice, both @karanhsingh!

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To Win Or Toulouse

August 2021 Review

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The unbeaten run continues.

After a perfect start to life in Ligue 2, I was keen to continue our momentum into August. Whilst there was plenty to be positive about - namely six points and two clean-sheets from the opening two games - I was a little concerned about our number of shots on goal and how many of those were finding the target. Rhys Healey had scored two in two but across those two games, we had 31 shots on goal with just nine of them finding the target. A disappointing 0-0 draw away to Pau did little to reassure my worries as we again struggled to compose ourselves in front of goal, managing a meagre two shots on target. However, a 3-1 victory against SC Bastia saw signs of improvement.

Admittedly, we were probably helped by the poor performance from the visitors, however we looked much more efficient with a ratio 22:11. Moussa Diarra opened the scoring with his first professional goal which was extremely pleasing. The full-back has been a revelation so far and has kept new signing Franck Tabanou out of the side completely. Late goals from substitute Ado Onaiwu and Bafodé Diakité would earn us three vital points about our below-par opposition after they struck level against the run of play just after the restart.

Bafodé Diakité would again turn into an unlikely goalscorer to earn us an impressive 1-0 victory over fellow promotion hopefuls, Dijon FCO. With the two sides eagerly matched in the first-half, the defender lined-up inside the area from a corner early into the second-half. The subsequent ball in ought to have been cleared away from danger, however it instead made its way into Diakité's path and he made no mistake in powering the ball past a helpless Baptiste Reynet to give us the lead. We continued to show our impressive defensive abilities throughout the second-half to quash any pressure from the hosts and would more than merit the three points come the end of the ninety minutes.  

It was an impressive victory for us and one that has certainly put my mind at rest. With respect to our previous opposition, the game against Dijon was the one game I was looking at as one that would ultimately prove to be a test for where we are and how the tactic is to fair against our title/promotion rivals. Importantly, our efficiency is certainly improving and the doubts I had are slowly fading for the time being. Instead, I now can't help but focus on the lack of possession we have in games. I will address this a little later on in the post. Maybe I should just relax and stop worrying as long as results continue in the way they are?

I digress; our final test of the month would see us play host to Valenciennes. A 2-0 victory followed to ensure we maintain our unbeaten run throughout August and remain atop of the Ligue 2 table. Following on from the Dijon game, I was very impressed by the nature in which the game was played. It was probably our best performance to date as we were rarely tested (exemplified by the visitors recording an xG of just 0.47) and our substitutes, once again, provided the goods off the bench with Rafael Ratao, dropped for the first-time this season after a couple of poor performances, scoring an important second after Rhys Healey opened the scoring and netted a third of the campaign.

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Ligue 2 Table: Sitting pretty at the top.

Now, plenty of positives. We're top of the Ligue 2 tableau having yet to lose with five wins to our name from a possible six games and just an impressive solitary goal conceded BUT there is one slight concern I have to address. Our possession, probably with the exception of the opening game of the season against AC Ajaccio, has been pretty dismal. I don't necessarily expect us to control the play but at the same time, I am somewhat surprised by the lack of ball we are having at times. As I mentioned above, I'm not the greatest with tactics so perhaps I'm just being naïve and this is something I ought to be expecting with the system we have at hand, yet I still expect(ed) a little more. 

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Possession has been a slight concern so far this season

As seen in the graphic above, we have the second-lowest total possession in the division - with only lowly Valenciennes having fewer - at 44%. Alongside this, we also have the fewest completed passes in the division with just 2,122. I want to improve this a little to ensure we have the best chance at maintaining our run of form as I feel that we will eventually suffer as a result. On the other hand however, I need to be mindful that even a minor tweak could jeopardise our good start to the season. A situation I will be actively monitoring over the course of September I think... let me know your thoughts. I am intrigued!

Four further games on the agenda in September with the first of these to be played on Saturday 11th September following a short-break for the international window. We have only the one player out on international duty during this time (Rayan Touzghar, Tunisia U18's). Le Havre will be our opponents as we travel to the Stade Océane with the hosts harbouring their own ambitions of promotion this season. We then face Grenoble Foot 38 and USL Dunkerque - two sides with far less loftier ambitions - before closing the month against SM Caen. Our next update will focus on the transfer window as Deadline Day plays out over the course of 1st September. 

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37 minutes ago, DefinitelyTaylor said:

I am somewhat surprised by the lack of ball we are having at times

I think that's to be expected with your tactical setup. The attacking mentality, in addition to much more risk-taking, already pushes your lines higher, your passing longer, and the tempo quicker. Run at defence also increases the risk of losing possession. But it seems to be working for you at the moment.

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I agree with @13th Man that you might want a few more attacking roles in your setup.

 

Another way you could do it is use an Attacking Mentality and a Lower Line of Engagement and Defensive line because the "Attacking Mentality" already has higher lines ticked.

The lower line invites teams forward and creates space behind that the Attacking Mentality level of risk exploits, but you do need some pacy players with goos stamina.

 

I used that thought process  with Flamenco in Brazil (FM 20 Fun Save) and absolutely slaughtered everyone including PSG, Barcelona, and Man City in the Club World Championship.

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16 hours ago, warlock said:

I think that's to be expected with your tactical setup. The attacking mentality, in addition to much more risk-taking, already pushes your lines higher, your passing longer, and the tempo quicker. Run at defence also increases the risk of losing possession. But it seems to be working for you at the moment.

I did think so. I’m just hoping for a little too much and mindful that it could cause problems but for the time-being, things are looking okay *touch wood*.

14 hours ago, Hootieleece said:

I agree with @13th Man that you might want a few more attacking roles in your setup.

 

Another way you could do it is use an Attacking Mentality and a Lower Line of Engagement and Defensive line because the "Attacking Mentality" already has higher lines ticked.

The lower line invites teams forward and creates space behind that the Attacking Mentality level of risk exploits, but you do need some pacy players with goos stamina.

 

I used that thought process  with Flamenco in Brazil (FM 20 Fun Save) and absolutely slaughtered everyone including PSG, Barcelona, and Man City in the Club World Championship.

Appreciate the sound advice! 

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Yeah, I wouldn't go too far away from your current set up if it's working.  But you can offset the 'attacking' with options like shorter passing, play out of defense, work ball into box, etc - just depends on how you want to attack. 

Also some role adjustments might help keep possession.  I always like to make sure each player should, in theory, have a reasonable passing option at all times.  I do this by making sure there's not too many people in the same space but also there are people reasonably close by rather than in straight lines across the field.

At the same time, if my tactic is getting me 40% of the ball and I'm winning 3-0 every time?  I'll happily let the opposition have the ball!

The trick is always being able to adjust without changing up the way you play too much.

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On 03/11/2021 at 19:44, 13th Man said:

Yeah, I wouldn't go too far away from your current set up if it's working.  But you can offset the 'attacking' with options like shorter passing, play out of defense, work ball into box, etc - just depends on how you want to attack. 

Also some role adjustments might help keep possession.  I always like to make sure each player should, in theory, have a reasonable passing option at all times.  I do this by making sure there's not too many people in the same space but also there are people reasonably close by rather than in straight lines across the field.

At the same time, if my tactic is getting me 40% of the ball and I'm winning 3-0 every time?  I'll happily let the opposition have the ball!

The trick is always being able to adjust without changing up the way you play too much.

Sometimes winning ugly is the best way! :lol:

9 hours ago, Djecker said:

With a narrow midfield set up I would definitely look to use WBs to provide more width down the flanks. That said, I echo what everyone else has said about results trumping everything else - don't make any changes unless you have to.

That was the thought initially. I am usually quite wary to over-commit my FB/WB's so I settled on a FB(S) and thought to see how we faired. As you say, results are going well so as of right now, there is probably little need to amend much if at all anything. It's a results business after all.

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To Win Or Toulouse

Deadline Day

There was a fair bit to dissect on Deadline Day so I thought that Deadline Day merited its own post given how it panned out. As an aside, I just want to say that SI have done a fantastic job at making very subtle changes to Deadline Day that make it a lot more exciting. Previously, it has always felt like just another day (not to say that I buy into the media-driven Deadline Day frenzy) but deals do often seem to become quite frantic as the deadline looms. It seems SI have nailed it this year at getting the balance right. Kudos! :applause:

The first thing on the agenda was to tie-up an ongoing deal and we managed to successfully manage this very early on into the day which was pleasing. Our scouting team identified somebody I thought was a real gem for the miniscule fee we were required to pay and I was delighted to get the deal over the line. Denis-Wil Poha completed an £85,000 move from Liga NOS outfit Vitória de Guimarães on a two-year-deal which saw us bolster our midfield options ten-fold. Whilst we possess plenty of quality in the middle of the park, I couldn't reject the opportunity to bring somebody of his quality in for such a fee. It seemed a no-brainer to ensure we brought him to the club and he will provide excellent competition alongside Australian Denis Genreau. I suspect at some point this season we may find our resources to be stretched and it will be mightily useful to have somebody like Poha available to us.

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Denis-Will Poha provides more competition for places in midfield

With that, our business was completed for the window and I was pretty happy to see out the rest of the day with a minimum of fuss. However, it certainly wouldn't pan out the way I thought it would. Nathan NGoumou, who will struggle for game-time in our current system, was given the chance to head out on loan. I was more than happy to accept a deal from Lierse Kempenzonen as they wished to take the winger on loan until the end of the season. Again, I thought from here that our day was done. Wrong.

Throughout the window, a number of our first-team players had been attracting interest yet there was little in the way of offers to support their interest. All of a sudden with Deadline Day in full action, every man and his dog was happy to offer us peanuts for some of our key players. The man attracting the most interest was Bafodé Diakité - and the interest was coming from some very lucrative clubs. It initially began with Leeds United and Norwich City battling it out for the defender's services, offering measly sums of around £1,500,000 (primarily in instalments), before Lyon's interest came calling. Until this point, Diakité had made little fuss about the interest but Lyon, understandably, turned his head. I thankfully managed to convince him that we could achieve promotion this year and he would be happy to stay at the club as long as we achieved this (!). The pressure is on to ensure we achieve promotion this year, then.

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Bafodé Diakité was a man in demand as he attracted offers from a host of clubs across England, France and Germany.

Further offers from the aforementioned and Southampton alongside a couple of loan offers from Bayer Leverkusen and Leipzig meant very little as they were immediately rejected. The bidding eventually reached to just short of £6,000,000 as Norwich stepped up their interest with plenty more being offered up-front than previously. Obviously keen to bolster their defensive options before the window closed to increase their chances of surviving in the Premier League, The Canaries offered £3,600,000 up-front but did so notably very late on into the day - with approximately three hours of the window to spare - and I thought it wouldn't be smart to consider their offer, as a result. We would be locked into our current defensive options and whilst I have confidence in what we have here, I didn't want to lose a player of Bafodé's ability and not have the chance to re-invest the money appropriately.

Elsewhere, other players attracting offers were youngsters Steve Mvoué and Logan Costa. The former received offers from the likes of Pro League sides Charleroi SC and RSC Anderlecht whilst Costa attracted offers from FC Lorient and Paris FC. These were also rejected with very little thought given to considering the rather insulting offers. 

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On 04/11/2021 at 16:00, DefinitelyTaylor said:

Sometimes winning ugly is the best way! :lol:

That was the thought initially. I am usually quite wary to over-commit my FB/WB's so I settled on a FB(S) and thought to see how we faired. As you say, results are going well so as of right now, there is probably little need to amend much if at all anything. It's a results business after all.

WB(s) with get further forward is a great alternative to the attacking duties. This keeps player mentality lower, so they don't get too aggressive in their risk taking, but also gets them forward to support the attack down the field. It also doesn't have some of the hardcoded instructions that other roles/duties have. 

Compared to support duties, they will play a bit more advanced off goal kicks and they will also make a few more aggressive runs in the attacking third. This can really help the attack by adding width, particularly in the FM22 match engine -- which seems to want to play through the wings, especially entering the attacking third.

Compared to attacking duties, they stay back better to support buildup, especially in the middle third. Additionally, when the attack is in the final third they will make runs instead of staying forward -- running forward and then drifting back towards the ball, whereas the attacking duty players tend to stay forward near the offsides line. This makes for good lateral movement to find space when they are the only player holding the width and I prefer it for narrow formations for that reason. Additionally because they have a lower personal mentality, when play is away from them, they don't tend to get too far forward. In total, this means you get some aggressive runs to break the defense, but it's at significantly lower chance to get them caught out. 

All that said, don't fix what's not broken. But if you are looking for ideas or want to experiment a little bit, I heartily endorse checking out the WB(s) w/ get further forward. 

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On 07/11/2021 at 15:24, 13th Man said:

Crazy deadline day! I keep meaning to have a list of realistic players to bring in, just in case someone turns a key player’s head at the last minute. I still usually forget…

The shortlist function has been used a lot more this year than in previous years personally. 

On 07/11/2021 at 15:30, Shrewnaldo said:

How's Branco been doing for you? Absolutely love that guy

I’m joining the Branco admiration group. He’s been fantastic!

On 07/11/2021 at 22:29, VinceLombardi said:

WB(s) with get further forward is a great alternative to the attacking duties. This keeps player mentality lower, so they don't get too aggressive in their risk taking, but also gets them forward to support the attack down the field. It also doesn't have some of the hardcoded instructions that other roles/duties have. 

Wow! I really appreciate the detailed post. I certainly grasp your points - particularly about this year’s game seemingly favouring width. A lot of chances have come down the flanks even with a fairly narrow system (both in this save and another I have on the go). 

On 08/11/2021 at 14:12, karanhsingh said:

Someone enjoying the new deadline day features on FM at least ;)

It can drag a little but aside from that, I love it. As I say, the fact it can drag out is a bit of a pain - particularly during network saves.
 

Playing alongside two mates and it feels like an eternity to get the day done and dusted. :lol:

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To Win Or Toulouse

September 2021 Review

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A tale of two-halves in September.

We were keen to continue our early-season momentum into September after we were afforded a two week break to settle down after the drama of Deadline Day thanks to the international window. Our opening test of the month was a tricky test at Le Havre, a side with ambitions of challenging towards the top of Ligue 2 this season. The evening proceeded to run smoothly for us as we controlled the game excellently from start to finish to entertain a 1-0 victory. The scoreline certainly didn't flatter us and we were perhaps more deserving of another goal or two over the course of the ninety minutes, however we defended more than stoically - limiting Le Havre to a mere four shots on goal in an excellent defensive performance. Bafodé Diakité would score the decisive goal to convert a third goal in the past four games.

The good times continued as we played host to Grenoble Foot and sent the lowly visitors back home with their tails between their legs. A 6-1 thumping with Rhys Healey converting a hat-trick alongside a brace for much-loved Branco van den Boomen and a first goal for new signing Denis-Will Poha certainly highlighted our credentials to be one of the front-runners for promotion this season if those ambitions hadn't already been made clear. Again, our possession was certainly not to be admired as we managed just 41% of the ball but we dominated and controlled proceedings as we had in the previous game. The footballing purists among us may not like the fact we're somewhat going against the populist grain of possession-football, but as mentioned umpteen times in recent comments, if the results continue in the vein they have been, why change?

Well, the results did take a slight turn and that has led me to perhaps have to start to consider some slight adjustments... Despite initially taking the lead against USL Dunkerque, we would ultimately succumb to our first defeat of the season with Kévin Rocheteau scoring a late-winner to seal an important three points for the hosts who will be looking to stave-off a relegation scrap this season. A similar story followed against SM Caen as we initially looked set to return to winning ways before embarrassingly surrendering a 2-0 lead to fall to a 3-2 defeat. A late fight-back in the first-half saw the visitors head into the break level on terms following a brace from Brazilian forward Rafael Ratao before Nuno Da Costa - a name Nottingham Forest supporters will recognise with the forward back in his homeland for the season following twelve appearances without return since joining from Strasbourg in 2019 - would score twenty minutes from time to complete the turnaround for Caen

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Despite successive defeats to conclude the month, our early form means we still remain at the summit.

There has been one consistent across the course of September. We have defended well and limited our opposition to far fewer shots than ourselves whilst increasing our own output in front of goal. I do think the defeat against Dunkerque was merely an unfortunate case of events given that we were the far better side on the day but unfortunately happened to succumb to a very clinical side on the day. However, there is certainly much more to look into against Caen and we have to question why we surrendered not only the lead, but ultimately the game, in the fashion we did. Admittedly, Caen are a good side who wouldn't look out of place challenging towards the top of the division but the nature in which we lost the game was disappointing. We seemed to be in cruise-control before we switched off completely in the final fifteen or so minutes of the first-half and that was poor.

With that said, I will be monitoring the situation closely over the next few games where we can hopefully arrest the back-to-back defeats and get back on track. We face a somewhat difficult month ahead with games against recently-relegated Amiens SC, Auxerre, Paris FC and En Avant Guingamp to look forward to. 

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2 hours ago, Hootieleece said:

I hope you continue to play "Artistic" Football in Toulouse. Always honor Toulouse-Lautrec.

 

But I am sort of cheering for Grenoble to upset you!

 

We're creating our own style in Toulouse these days! :D

Unfortunately for you, Grenoble didn't pose too much of a problem for us. Perhaps they'll be in a better position for the reverse game and give us more of a run for our money.

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To Win Or Toulouse

October 2021 Review

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A near-perfect set of results for October.

A very important month lie ahead with a number of tests presented to us in October. Keen to arrest a slip-up in form following disappointing defeats to USL Dunkerque and SM Caen, we travelled to recently-relegated Amiens SC to begin the month. I was left shaking my head early on as the hosts took the lead after twenty minutes and I began to worry that our early season form was about to be completely eroded. However, a prompt response was more than welcome as Denis-Will Poha levelled the game with a long-range strike. The tide seemed to turn as a result of our equaliser and the confidence we were displaying prior to the two defeats seemed to reappear like it had never went away. Rhys Healey would bag a brace to send us into half-time with a 3-1 advantage on our hosts and we were in an excellent position to go about what we wanted to do and arrest our poor form. Brecht Dejaegere would soon add to the scoresheet early into the second-half and we managed the game effectively for the remainder until a brief lapse of concentration saw Amiens net a mere consolation in stoppage-time.

AJ Auxerre were another side with aspirations of making a return to Ligue 1 this campaign after a lengthy nine absence from the top-flight. The end to the 2021/22 season would mark a decade since their demise from Ligue 1 where they succumbed to finishing at the foot of the table - five points behind Lorient in seventeenth. We were in no mood to assist their ambitions as we continued where we left off against Amiens and came out as 3-1 victors. An excellent first-half performance saw us race into a 3-0 lead at the break with goals from a trio of our midfield quartet.

Batista Mendy would mark his first goal for the club with a quite stunning strike from around 30 yards out after Brecht Dejaegere would mark his second in as many games to give us the advantage. Branco van den Boomen will only be attracting more admirers to the @Shrewnaldo-led fan-club as he netted from the spot to secure a third goal of the season and a third goal of the evening. Again, somewhat disappointingly, we were unable to hang on for a clean-sheet as the prolific Gaëtan Charbonnier headed home from close-range to ensure the visitors at least had one goal to smile about come the full-time whistle. However, it would be the home fans heading home happy after another three points would secured.

There have been question marks around our defensive abilities recently as we are shipping far more goals than we were in the early embers of the season. In the first seven games of the season, we had only conceded one goal. Naturally, this is a very difficult record to sustain and it would be pretty silly to imagine that it would be sustainable. However, we seemed to have made a complete 180 defensively which does concern me a little. In comparison to the aforementioned record, we have now conceded nine in our last five games and haven't managed to record a single clean-sheet across any of those five games. I suppose it is to be expected given the brand of football we play - a system which certainly plays with a lot of risk as the lines push high - however I do hope that we can find a middle-ground sooner rather than later. On the other hand, our attacking return has been very impressive. It's a difficult business this tactical management stuff! :lol:

After a couple of excellent results against sides with similar ambitions to ourselves, Paris FC would be next on the agenda and unfortunately our trip to Paris wouldn't be a magical one. It instead proved to be an extremely frustrating affair as we controlled the large-part of the game but were subjected to a couple of excellent set-pieces that we were somewhat helpless to prevent. The xG of the two sides marked a fair measurement of the reflection of the game as Paris managed 0.61 vs 1.47 come the end of the ninety minutes. Ado Onaiwu gave us a glimmer of hope as he came off the bench to score very late-on but the hosts held firm. A very difficult result to take in the grand scheme of things.

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A tough afternoon in Paris.

The final game of the month saw us play host to EA Guingamp. I mentioned in the opening post of this thread that I have very fond memories of Guingamp following a save with them back in FM15 where Pavel Savitskiy - yet another name that has fallen victim to the wonderkid label and failed to deliver in the real world - was a revelation. I took the team to a Coupe de France title in the first season and managed a respectable campaign in the Europa League the following season. We would ultimately challenge towards the top of Ligue 1 but unfortunately never managed to topple PSG (which is partly the reason why I was keen to take on Toulouse this time around in order to do just that!) before the end of that year's cycle - unfortunately I only took the save on quite late into that year's FM calendar. From that point on, I have always kept a close eye on Guingamp when I have been admiring the French divisions. I know I'm not alone when I mention that an FM save has provided me the inspiration to follow the team's performance(s) in real-life.

With that said, back to this save... our encounter would probably mark the most entertaining game of the season from a Toulouse perspective thus far. We have already enjoyed handing out some convincing thumping's (Grenoble Foot) this season, but I certainly took more from this game than I did that one. Just before the half-hour mark, we would take the lead thanks to Stijn Spierings. A terrific delivery from a Branco van den Boomen corner found its way to his fellow compatriot whose initial save was well-saved by Enzo Basilio but would only kindly fall back to his feet to tap home. It has to be noted that the opening goal came against the run of play, Guingamp had played some terrific football and looked particularly dangerous from some well-worked set-piece routines but I wasn't complaining given the previous game. They say luck balances itself out, right?

We remained on the front-foot for the remainder of the first-half and neutralised the start of the second well. A long punt down the pitch from goalkeeper Isak Pettersson caught Philipe Sampaio out at the back as he misjudged his jump and allowed Rhys Healey to capitalise and race through to round the onrushing goalkeeper and net a second of the game. A tenth goal of the season for the once Cardiff City striker. Our two-goal cushion didn't last long however, as Charles Abi would make a great run to get on the end of Jérôme Mombris' cross.

One thing that we cannot question though is the scoring ability of Rhys Healey and he would once again found the net to restore our two-goal advantage not long after. Again, Guingamp would ask us questions late on as Abi would also bag a brace with a couple of minutes to play which left for a nervy ending to the game but we would hold on and record an excellent victory.

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We still lead the charge at the top of Ligue 2.

It leaves the table looking like this with fourteen games played. We continue to lead the way at the top of Ligue 2 but only by a mere three points over Nimes Olympique and Dijon FCO who are hot on our heels. We also bolster a nine point buffer to the side just outside the playoffs in SM Caen. Nimes, a side who were relegated from Ligue 1 last season, are the team I expect to be our closest challengers. They have a good squad - crucially retaining the likes of Anthony Briançon - whilst also adding in the summer. In-game, they brought in veterans Graziano Pellè and Mbark Boussoufa, who have performed very well for them, on free transfers alongside former Leeds fan-favourite Gaetano Berardi. 

November will be short and snappy with just the three games to play. We will first travel to Quevilly-Rouen before hosting Sochaux-Montbéliard. The month will then be capped with action in the Coupe de France where we await to find out our opposition. A side-note before signing-off this post, I highly recommend that if you are unaware of the madness of the Coupe de France, have a look into it. It has to be one of the best cup competitions in Europe, in my humble opinion. Enjoy!

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18 hours ago, 13th Man said:

Good solid start. Top of the league and scoring plenty.  Those games like the one in Paris just happen, but otherwise looking good.

Goals certainly haven’t been hard to come by which is very pleasing. The likes of Rhys Healey have proven to be somewhat of a revelation - we’ll need him to continue this sort of form to shake off the likes of Nimes. 

You're absolutely correct about the Paris game. Unfortunately those sort of results do crop up, it’s a reflection of the real world. I’m pleased with how we responded. It bodes well in a title/promotion challenge.

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To Win Or Toulouse

November 2021 Review

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Goals, goals and more goals.

November would be a short but sweet month for all associated with Toulouse unless your name happened to be Anthony Rouault. There would only be a trio of games to be played across the course of the month with two games in Ligue 2 concluded by a game in the Coupe de France where we would ultimately be drawn alongside Hyères Football Club of the National 2 Group C (the fourth tier of the French pyramid). On paper, it appeared to be a month where we ought to be targeting maximum points and progression into the Ninth Round of the cup - however, football isn't played on paper and you never know what may be thrown your way.

First and foremost however, we shall delve into the off-the-field issues first before we address the on-field matters in more detail. As I briefly eluded to, Anthony Rouault will be the only man left feeling a little down in Toulouse. The central defender - who has been a mainstay in the side alongside Bafodé Diakité at the heart of our defence - unfortunately suffered an injury against Sochaux-Montbéllard that will leave him on the sidelines until February. We have been fairly fortunate with injuries thus far but this was a devastating blow given the form the 20-year-old has been in. This will present an opportunity to both Logan Costa and Rasmus Nicolaisen who have been limited to sporadic appearances from the substitutes bench given the form of our usual partnership at the back although I would have liked to hand them opportunities in more positive circumstances, it has to be said.

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Anthony Rouault will be a big miss as he faces a spell on the sidelines.

Another matter to address is that of Karol Fila. The Polish full-back arrived on loan from RC Strasbourg Alsace during the summer window as he sought to provide competition and cover for Mikkel Desler. However, Fila has been recalled by his parent club and therefore will play no further role for us this season. Admittedly, Fila had found himself very limited in terms of chances given the performances of his Danish teammate but his departure does leave a gap in our side that does worry me a little should something happen to Desler that would leave him unable to play for a short period. It was agreed when the loan move was being negotiated that he would be merely part of the supporting-cast however it appears that the Ligue 1 side have had a sudden change of heart with regards to the playing-time Fila ought to have been receiving. Since returning, he has made a couple of appearances via the substitutes bench.

This does leave us in the lurch a little when it comes to option on the right with Sam Sanna now being the only viable option, realistically. Bafodé Diakité is capable of playing out wide but with his performances at the heart of our defence alongside the injury sustained by Rouault, I hope that I am not left having to make such a move. I do expect movement to be made in January as we have excess budget remaining which I wouldn't be afraid to spend a little of in order to ensure we have the suitable reinforcements.

Without further ado, we'll turn our attention to results on the pitch. It was a fantastic month as we opened with a 3-1 victory away to Quevilly-Rouen. Branco van den Boomen gave us the lead inside 26 minutes with a superb curling effort that found the top-right corner of the goal before our lead was quickly cut-short. Duckens Nazon, once of Oldham Athletic fame, broke through one-on-one and made no mistake to level the tie. It was probably a justified equaliser, too, with the hosts more than equalling us over the course of the game. However, Branco van den Boomen was keen to make the evening about him. He started the move which Rafael Ratao would ultimately convert from with half an hour to spare before the Dutchman would capture a second of the night with a powerful strike from the edge of the eighteen-yard-box in the 81st minute.

It would be much of the same result-wise against Sochaux-Montbéllard as we once again came out as 3-1 winners. This time the scoreline was much more reflective of the encounter as we looked in control against our visitors. Mauricio would convert a stoppage-time consolation to rule-out a first clean-sheet in nine games but a brace from Rafael Ratao and an own-goal from Christophe Diedhiou would ensure the points would be heading our way.

The performance of Ratao in that game summarised the way he had been playing lately. The Brazilian seems to be emerging from the shadow of Rhys Healey and is growing in confidence after making his move from Slovan Bratislava. That isn't to say that his performances hadn't quite been there beforehand, but he was certainly grabbing my attention a lot more than he had previously. He has been superb playing in the 4-1-3-2 system we have adopted here - providing a link between the midfield and attack and supplying plenty of goals for his English teammate in the process. It was only a matter of time before he started to get on the scoresheet more regularly and I am pleased to see him do so this month.

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Rafael Ratao is starting to find the net more regularly.

With maximum points secured from our only two games in Ligue 2 this month, our attention turned to the Coupe de France and our lower-league opposition. Hyères. There were two names that immediately stood out to me once the line-up's were confirmed ahead of kick-off. The first of these was former AS Monaco, Saint-Etienne and (briefly) Fulham winger Yohan Mollo. The second was Marvin Martin who once donned the colours of Sochaux-Montbéllard and LOSC Lille. The 33-year-old midfielder was only last playing in Ligue 1 in 2019 for Stade de Reims following their promotion from Ligue 2 at the end of the 2017/18 season.

Nevertheless, we were determined to ensure that there would be no cupset on the cards and we gave ourselves an excellent chance of securing our place in the next round when Rhys Healey converted just eleven minutes into the game. Rafael Ratao would add a second, however the goal was unfortunately chalked-off for a narrow offside call that the eagle-eyed linesman spotted. Instead, it would be Healey who would score the second goal of the goal early into the second-half and our afternoon remained untroubled with the hosts amassing a mere three attempts on goal and an xG of 0.05.

Progression was secured and the draw for the next round was held almost immediately after. With a host of non-league sides still in the hat, I was hoping we could obtain another one of these sides to best aid our chances of having a good-go in the cup, yet we would ultimately be drawn alongside FC Nantes - the side who ensured we would be playing in Ligue 2 this season following their victory on away-goals in the promotion/relegation play-off last campaign. Revenge is a dish best served cold and we'll be hoping to provide plenty of where that came from.

We head into December knowing we have two extremely winnable games against Chamois Niortais (16th) and Rodez AF (20th) to begin the month ahead of our grudge match against FC Nantes in the Ninth Round of the Coupe de France. The month will conclude with arguably the match of the season so far with a clash against our closest challengers in Nîmes Olympique at the Stade des Costiéres. A real six-pointer that we will be desperate to win to help edge away from Les Crocodiles.

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Strong start so far, looking good for the second half of the season.

Good to see an English player doing well abroad too, though I must admit I've never heard of Rhys Healey. Wikipedia tells me though that he was a bit of a Football League journeyman, the move to France seems to be working out for him.

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