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FM23 Les Verts - Restoring a Sleeping Giant


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On 13/01/2023 at 02:49, Hootieleece said:

Do you ever think about using Sanchez as Trequarista in the AMC/Striker role? With his movement and ball skills it might be a game changer as a super sub.


On 13/01/2023 at 13:28, _Ben_ said:

Why not go one more and a full on Regista? Still got the passing range and, to be fair, his legs are there. Just don’t expect him to position himself well defensively. 

Thanks both - I like the Treq idea. I think Sanchez could be a real asset for us this season. He's only here for a year so I don't necessarily want to build around him but might look to create a tactic that we can use to utilise his skills from the bench.



23 hours ago, weecoOk said:

Came across your post on twitter yesterday and was very intrigued as i too am doing St Etienne save.

Thanks for stopping by!


15 hours ago, Hootieleece said:

Great Post about training. I really enjoyed the background and history. I may have to try some of these training schedules in the future.

Thank you... Really feels like training is important in this year's game, maybe that's just me. The like the Clairefontaine philosophy of training the individual to benefit the team. Hopefully we will see some development in the youngsters.

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On 13/01/2023 at 21:28, BethFM said:

The Clairefontaine Philosophy



About an hour outside of Paris lies the French football dream factory, otherwise known as INF Clairefontaine. One of the most celebrate and successful football academies ever to exist. Since its inception in 1988 Clairefontaine has consistently proven its ability to hone the skills of young talents with the potential to become footballing superstars. Distinguished graduates include Nicolas Anelka, Thierry Henry, Olivier Giroud, William Gallas and of course more recently, the golden boy of French football -Kylian Mbappe. 

In 1985 the then president of the French Football Federation (FFF), Fernand Sastre felt that France was lagging behind its German and Italian counterparts on the world stage. Since 1988 the academy has housed the French National Team, then Head Coach Stefan Kovács (the only foreigner to ever manage the national team) felt it would be beneficial for there to be a central hub where young talent could develop the skills which would benefit the national team in the future. It is one of 10 centres of excellence on mainland France, while two more are situated away from the mainland: one on the island of Reunion, and the other on the Caribbean Island of Guadeloupe, also a French territory. The best players are chosen by their clubs to attend a trial at Clairefontaine around Easter time each year. Of the participants, 22 will be selected to stay, train, and learn full time at the academy. It is thought that Kovács was inspired by the training centres of his Hungarian homeland, where individual skills are refined to be used for the good of the collective. 

Whilst at the academy the players must follow a strict regime that is designed to aid their development. In recent years there has been much more emphasis on the academic side as well as the football. 



On the pitch the academy aims to produce winners. There is a focus on knowing how to win and how each player can play a role in the team winning. Once again it emphasises the talent of the individual being essential for the team to succeed. Players who struggle to meet the demands are encouraged and afforded time but are constantly assessed. Equally, the coaches have priorities too. Training sessions are recorded and monitored; the coaches’ performances are assessed to ensure that the players are receiving the highest quality of coaching. Under the centre’s philosophy, the coach must consider the age of the player and set objectives, so they have the best chance of improving.

The philosophy at Clairefontaine starts with the desire for individual technical perfection: 

·      Being able to turn at speed

·      Improving weaker foot 

·      Tactical decision making. 

The students are put through their paces in highly specific and regimented drills before ever touching a full-sized pitch. French Football though, is not concerned with playing philosophy such as Barcelona’s La Masia and is far more focused on individual player development. While all the youth teams play in a 4-3-3 as the FFF believe this is the most flexible formation, the stress is on producing the best individual players in relation to the team.

Jean-Claude Lefargue the director of the programme, told The Telegraph in 2018 that France’s coaches are starting to embrace the philosophy of Clairefontaine: “All the coaches of the professional clubs come through Clairefontaine. Over the years we have been able to convince them of the philosophy, about what they have to find in a player. And so we have started to have this common idea across France. It takes time to convince others, to train coaches, but little by little we have all started to the same thing.”

When Lefargue mentions a “philosophy” he is talking about player development, not tactics. Lefargue and Clairefontaine produce incredibly astute players that are tactically flexible and technically skilled, able to play whatever roles they are assigned.

The French National Team has played in an abundance of different styles throughout the years, for example in 1998 they were incredibly solid defensively and prioritised the strength of their defensive line which included Lillian Thuram, Marcel Desailly and Frank LeBouef while relying on individual brilliance from Zidane and Petit to see them through. Whereas two years later in Euro 2000, Thierry Henry, and Nicolas Anelka, two Clairefontaine graduates, were leading the line and the style of play transformed to suit the style of these two leading strikers. The French played swift attacking football with speed, precision and power which saw them ease to victory. 



Within the academy, in the first year the emphasis is on improving with the ball, focusing largely on individual development. In the second, the players work on in game structures and awareness, where players will develop their skills within small, sided games. The idea of developing in a footballing sense also commands players to excel in their mental development. There are three tests that each player needs to go through on a regular basis and the results are constantly analysed and compared. The tests are based on three key areas – psychological, medical, and physical – with the most advanced systems, modern methods and state-of-the-art technology playing a part in formulating the results.

The relationship between the FFF, Clairefontaine and Ligue 1 has seen a vast pool of players produced, which allowed Didier Deschamps to pick the second-youngest squad at the 2018 World Cup. Such is the depth of the talent in France, Anthony Martial, Karim Benzema, Alexandre Lacazette, Kingsley Coman and Aymeric Laporte were all left out of the squad. Clairefontaine has many admirers including the English FA who commissioned the building of St. Georges Park and created the ‘England DNA’ philosophy with the same intention, to create the perfect player for the English national team. 

The French football academy has shown its ability to produce a never-ending convey belt of Golden Generations since its establishment. They are probably the greatest modern footballing country, equipped with a simple task - develop the best possible players.


The Clairefontaine Philosophy in FM?

As explained above, the idea is to create individual players with skillsets that can aid the collective. In other words, develop the individual and the team will also develop, after all you are only as strong as your weakest player. I have put together some training schedules with the focus on developing the technical and tactical skills that the Clairefontaine academy focuses on in order to keep churning out talents such as Henry, Mbappe and co.

General Training:1521088847_DNAgeneral.thumb.png.0441823b68ffcb745e97902e496f772f.png


Technical Training:1837666489_FrenchDNATechnical.thumb.png.a1b679e8834865e78ff9ae0f0aab2bd5.png


Tactical Training:276732508_FrenchDNATactical.thumb.png.9f4d132e0b7427bc3f64c2b814f40918.png


Possession Training:Possession.thumb.png.8e658fe701bb68dccced9430c843b821.png


Two Game Week:1417645477_2games.thumb.png.8de7c64cd3a34fa1bd74c337d21f4560.png

Love it! Fantastic write up! 

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On 13/01/2023 at 21:28, BethFM said:

As explained above, the idea is to create individual players with skillsets that can aid the collective. In other words, develop the individual and the team will also develop, after all you are only as strong as your weakest player. I have put together some training schedules with the focus on developing the technical and tactical skills that the Clairefontaine academy focuses on in order to keep churning out talents such as Henry, Mbappe and co.

Love that whole post but this bit resonates the most. Physical attributes will - from my experience - pretty naturally increase in the youth phase so that perspective focus on what technical and tactical development the individual needs to make is great. Looking forward to reading about your developments. 

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22 hours ago, SixPointer said:

Love it! Fantastic write up! 

Thank you!

17 hours ago, Oliver Roland said:

Good luck in Ligue 1, going to follow this! I would like to ask how do you set up intensity of training in REST screen? Thank you :)

Thank you. Not too sure what you mean, as far as I know the intensity is calculated automatically by the choice of sessions you put in. 

3 hours ago, DavidBeckham said:

Really insightful post on training! KUTGW mate! Will definitely be following this!

Thank you!

8 minutes ago, _Ben_ said:

Love that whole post but this bit resonates the most. Physical attributes will - from my experience - pretty naturally increase in the youth phase so that perspective focus on what technical and tactical development the individual needs to make is great. Looking forward to reading about your developments. 

Thanks Ben! That's exactly my thought process and experiences IRL, when developing youngsters - the physicals aren't they key part of development. Yes, you track the physical development but every player is different and goes through their physical growth and development at different ages and rates compared to others. Improving the technical and tactical abilities of a player is a far better measure of how much ability they have and how much potential they possess. The FFF and Clairefontaine seem to have almost perfected the method of ensuring players get the right training schedules to suit their own individual development to become world class players but also retain the ability to play as part of a cohesive team when called upon by France. 

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August 2023:



Game time has been a bit limited this last week due to work commitments but we did manage to get our Ligue 1 campaign underway! First though, a couple more preseason friendlies, a comfortable 4-0 victory at home to Feyenoord - a match in which we dominated and played them off the park. The team seems to be on the way to becoming a cohesive unit despite all the additions. Our final preseason game was a loss to Athletic Club Bilbao, a rotated team was fielded so I wasn't too concerned, we played well enough for me to be happy with the performance. Our first game back in the topflight was one that wasn't too bad, as we faced Auxerre who had just survived relegation last season. César Gelabert found the back of the net after eight minutes as Charles Abi held the ball up well and played him in behind the defence to place a low drive beyond the keeper. We dominated the game and arguably should have scored more that one, a win is a win though and three points on the board. Next up was a trip to Rennes, a tough game no doubt but we managed to go ahead as Abi scored a nice goal from the edge of the area, we had to cling on after that as we faced a bombardment from our opponents. They eventually found a way through as Martin Terrier scored an equaliser in the 89th minute. What could have been! We were so close but at least we took a point from a very string opposition. The final game of the month was a wonderful victory against Montpellier, our high press worked a treat as Cher Ndour won the ball back in the final third and placed a curling effort beyond the keeper. Cafaro and Abi, two of last season's stars ensured that we took all three points from a game that we dominated. Not a bad start!


Deadline Day Signing:

Something of a luxury purchase as he's not necessarily a player we needed but one that we can certainly use. Azzedine Ounahi was available from Angers for €3.4 million, a small fee for someone of his abilities. My view of this signing is that we can potentially make a decent profit on him in just a couple of years, this decision was influenced quite heavily by his resale value. Though of course he can play an important role in our squad currently as he is accomplished in multiple positions and at 23 he is still in the Pre Peak Phase. 


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A fantastic start to the campaign, and a fantastic acquisition in Ounahi!

Really enjoyed the training post also, the attention to detail is beautiful!

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September 2023:



A bad month. We kicked things off with a goalless draw to Angers which on the face of it wasn't the worst result in the world, sadly we followed this up with a loss to Caen who were promoted along side us last season. These are the games we need to be winning if we are going to avoid a relegation scrap, defensively we are struggling and as we get closer to January I will have to take an in depth look into our defensive statistics to see where the issues are and how we can fix them. Next up was a very strange game against Strasbourg, second choice goalkeeper Boubacar Fall had to step in to replace the injured Etienne Green, it didn't go so well did it? Up next... PSG. We actually played well in this game and were incredibly unlucky as we carved them open several times with Charles Abi hitting the post twice, we contained their attack for the best part of 75 minutes until a Neymar shot from the edge of the area opened the scoring, followed by a Messi free kick. 

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October & November 2023:



October got off to a much better start as we beat Reims at home thanks to two of last seasons stars, César Gelabert and Charles Abi. The latter is doing reasonably well but I do wonder if he has what it takes to propel us further up the league. We closed out October with a loss to Lille, it was a poor game in truth, a draw would have been fair... but when has FM ever been fair. The loss away to Troyes was particularly disappointing as again I feel we have lost a game we needed to win. As a result of our poor form, my plan is to do a little bit of moneyball-esque scouting, I plan to look at our defensive stats and compare with fellow Ligue 1 teams and look into recruiting based on those averages. Still sticking with the Campos methodology of course, I just think maintaining our Ligue 1 status has to be top priority this season if we want to attract better players next year.




Not wanting to lose the derby against local rivals Olympique Lyonnais, I opted to use a 4-4-2 formation I had been training to try and paper over our defensive deficiencies. The tactic involves us sitting in a low block rather pressing high and being caught out. I also recalled Seydou Traore and Ibou Sane from their loan spells away from the club. Sane in particular I plan to use regularly in the first team. We drew 1-1 in the Rhone derby, Alexis of all people scoring a near post header from a Yvan Maçon cross. We were undone against Brest by two Steve Mounié headers, our defence does not possess a great aerial efficiency, Saidou Sow is frequently caught out, then as we don't win the headers, we don't win the second ball and this is where our problems stem from. Our new tactic came into its own against Lorient as we grabbed a 1-0 victory thanks to Ibou Sane scoring his first goal for the club. We currently sit in 11th in the Ligue 1 table, which is decent enough, I just want to ensure we don't end up fighting a relegation battle. I know we are newly promoted but I feel we have enough quality to play better than we currently are. Lots to ponder and lots to dissect!



Edited by BethFM
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  • 2 weeks later...

December 2023:



December began with a 4-1 drubbing at the hands of Nice which was very disappointing, I am very concerned with our defence and the performances of Etienne Green in particular. We did pick up a surprise victory at home to Monaco with Mélèye Diagne finding the net, he has largely cemented himself as a regular starter on the left wing for us. We then lost away at Lens and scraped a 1-0 victory against Bastia in the cup. The joker window in France means that teams can sign players from fellow French clubs throughout the season, I took this opportunity to bring in a couple of new faces prior to the window opening in January. Veteran Dimitri Payet signs from Marseille for the princely sum of 50k, the former West Ham man had fallen down the pecking order at the Stade Velodrome and despite his age I feel that much like Alexis, he will not only be able to provide an experienced mindset amongst a youthful team, he still has plenty to offer football wise and could prove to be a shrewd signing. Mohamed Bayo had fallen out of favour at Lille and was on the transfer list for just shy of €4 million, the deal was somewhat of a risk in the sense that he hasn't played much football during the last season however looking back at his stats during his time at Clermont, he scored upwards of 15 goals consistently and he is in the Peak Phase so hopefully should be able to hit the ground running so to speak.




Looking through the stats just before the January window opens, I am greatly concerned about our goalkeeping situation, Etienne Green is conceding 1.12 goals per 90 which I feel is something we need to amend. Whilst he is undoubtedly a talented keeper, it could be that he is not quite ready to step up to Ligue 1 just yet. Amadou N'Diaye has made the Left Back spot his own so I am willing to let Sergi Palencia leave as he is demanding first team football and he has largely been underperforming compared to his colleagues, I don't wish to keep an unhappy player in the ranks. The midfield area is our strongest area and doesn't require strengthening in my opinion, the same cannot be said for our strike force. Charles Abi has failed to hit the heights of last season and we are struggling to carve out any real chances on a consistent basis during games. 







Finally, we have change tactic, as we are adopting the Clairefontaine training method which caters towards a 4-3-3 formation as the coaches believe this offers the most freedom and opportunities for individuals to shine, this is the formation we will be using going forwards. It is designed to retain possession and should allow plenty of attacking opportunities for our midfield to take advantage of. We will then look to press swiftly and efficiently to prevent the opposition mounting a successful counter attack. 


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January 2024:


Our new tactic seems to have clicked rather well! We made it through to the next round of the Coupe de France thanks to a late goal from Alexis. The Chilean had a fantastic month in terms of goal output as he bagged a hat trick against former club Marseille and another one against Caen. The resounding 4-0 victory against OM was very impressive and something that could be a real catalyst as we look to gain some consistency and ensure that we will be staying in Ligue 1, we currently sit in 11 place so we aren't likely to be dragged into a relegation battle but it's always good to ensure we maintain our upwards trajectory. 

The answer to our goalkeeping conundrum arrived in the form of Alban Lafont, the Frenchman was relegated last season with Nantes and has been angling for a move since the summer. I actually looked into signing him back then as his asking price was only €2.4 million but his wage demands were far too high, six months in Ligue 2 has seen him dramatically reduce his demands so it was an easy choice to make the signing. Dane Scarlett joins for €13 million from Tottenham, he has a high level of potential and looks to be a natural goalscorer, he will need developing and nurturing but given that his value has virtually doubled since signing for us, there is potential for huge resale value. The same applies to Andrey Santos who was on the transfer list at Vasco da Gama for just €9 million. Whilst midfield wasn't an area we needed to improve, I felt that this was a good opportunity to sign a player we can move on for big money in a few years. 








Looking to sign a few youngsters that we can develop for the future, the first and highest recommended was Anders Ryste who was at Norwegian club Odds, he has been loaned back to his former club for the remainder of their season. At 18 years old he is in the Potential Phase which means we have plenty of time to develop him and make a decision as to where he fits within our team. Argentinian Gabriel Ramos and Australian Iain Grant both sign on free transfers, Ramos has also been loaned back to his former club Godoy Cruz while Grant has been placed in our Under 19 team where he has started really well already. 







Edited by BethFM
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February 2024:


February began with a wonderful 3-0 victory in the Coupe de France which saw us into the Quarter Finals where a tie against Marseille awaited us. A very disappointing loss to Angers followed, we always seem to struggle against them. We actually created plenty of chances but failed to find the back of the net which has been the story of our season thus far. The Coupe de France Quarter Final was next up and Dimtri Payet ensured his former team saw what they were missing as we eased to a 6-2 victory. Charles Abi also ended his goal drought in this game, I have questions as to whether he is good enough to play at this level and I am considering moving him on during the summer window as we are well stocked in the attacking area and have far better players. Next up was a trip north to Lille (apologies for the lack of screenshot), we did reasonably well in this game and were unlucky to fall to a late defeat. Alexis ensured that we closed out the month picking up three points at fellow mid table team Montpellier. 


March 2024:


March began with a loss to Brest, a poor result from a game which we dominated, we followed this up with a heavy defeat to PSG in the Coupe de France Semi Final. Fortunately our form picked up as Mohamed Bayo found his scoring boots and kick started the scoring in a 5-1 victory at Reims. Dimitri Payet was also on the scoresheet with a beautiful 25 yarder whilst Ibou Sané grabbed another one to take his tally to four so far since being recalled from loan. Bayo ensured that we took all three points against Rennes and then Dane Scarlett had an excellent debut where he scored both goals in a 2-0 victory against Troyes. Our good form has seen us climb a couple of places in the table and we now find ourselves in 9th place, just a couple of points off the European places. Whilst to reach Europe would be amazing and the financial benefits would be incredibly useful, I am more than happy to settle for comfortably mid table given that this is our first season back in Ligue 1. 


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