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[FM17] Against All Odds - USL Dunkerque

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"Against All Odds - Les Bleus et Blancs"

USL_Dunkerque.jpg.8119c9623f097fa8fdd99b9b691d573e.jpg

I'd have to doublecheck, but I am reasonably sure that after every Coupe game we've won, be it Ligue or France, we've lost or tied our next match.

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That streak was bound to end sometime, and Dijon FCO obliged.  A Tormin goal in the 54th minute gave us the lead, and Dijon never really mustered any offense.

Montpellier, the team that had been relegated from Ligue 1 last season, came out in a very narrow 4-1-3-1-1 that gave us fits, but our defense held.  Until the 81st minute, when Yurchenko took a long ball Ninga lofted over the Dline and buried it.  

AC Ajaccio came in playing a very chippy game.  Despite committing 20 fouls. they did not get any yellows.  Adli scored in the 27th minute, Nouri equalized in the 43rd for Ajaccio, and the scored again in the 64th minute on a penalty call so egregious...words can't even describe it.  De Parementier equalized for us in the 81st minute, but Omar Toure broke through the line in the 93rd minute, hit a shot that rebounded off Sy and right back to him, and the put back was easy.  Another game blown in the last minute...

FC Metz blitzed us right away, with goals in the 7th and 8th minute, and then sat back and dared us to come at them.  So we did.  Adli socred in the 27th minute, and then Laurent Abergel headed in the Traore cross for the equalizer in the 89th minute.  

Alexis Alegue had a very nice game against GFC Ajaccio, with goals in the 4th and 97th(!) minute.  I have to say 7 minutes of injury time is the most I've seen for a match since I started playing FM.  I thought it was a bug at first.

If you go up a few posts, you'll see what happened in the Coupe de la Ligue Final against OM.  I still can't believe it, but we won the Ligue.  And to top it off, we were in a four way fight for three spot at the top of Ligue 2.  Received a lot of nice accolades after the win, and a couple of job offers as well.  

So after beating one Ligue 1 team in the Coupe De la Ligue Final, we faced another in the Coupe de France Quarterfinals four days later.  I was expecting a huge let down, none of the boys were at full speed, and Herve Reynard, who took the reins at Angers in February, was very quiet and complementary.  I guess he saw what happens when a coach tries smack talking us.  The game was a fast paced, ball control shoot it when you can type of game,  Angers had more shots, but more of ours were on target, and one of them, an Alegue volley of a Fachan cross in the 37th minute, went in, and it proved to be the winner.

For as much as I complained about my defense and lack of clean sheets this season, I was more than surprised when a news item informing me Ibrahim Sy had just set a new club record with 14 shutouts came up.  He's been a rock all season, making some fantastic saves.

Six games left in the season, and we were in a fight.  FC Metz, which had been top of the table most of the season, had fallen back a little, and we had been fighting it out with AJ AUxerre for 2nd place.  Clermont foot was also making a run, and RC De Lens could also be a spoiler.

So, how did the season end?

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WE WON IT!

With some extra drama involved...of course.

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Coming off a Coupe game, of course we tied.  And against Auxerre that wasn't as bad as a loss.  Tchokounte got the scoring starterd for us with a nice goal in the 6th minute, but the Auxerre took over, Courtet scoring in the 21st minute, Gonzales in the 34th, and Mousset in the 42nd.  To say that the boys were yelled at during half time is a mild understatement.  Alegue took the messgae to heart, banging home a goal in the 56th minute, and rifling a penalty shot in the 65th minute for the tie.

Tours FC tried getting off to a quick start, scoring in the 3rd goal, but a Tormin goal in the 22nd minute and a Tchokounte goal in the 50th minute gave us the 2-1 victory.

Against Paris FC we came out firing on all cylinders, 26 shots on goal, 11 on target.  Their keeper had a very good day, first blocking a Tormin penalty in the 24th minute, and a Tchokounte attempt in the 26th.  Paris scored first, a Martin goal in the 20th minute, but Adli scored in the 47th minute, and Tchokounte scored when Adli was dispossessed by Marie and the ball landed at his off foot in the 92nd minute.  

We kept the pace going in the next match against Nimes, 17 shots, 8 on target. A Tchokounte goal in the 11th minute proved to be the only goal scored, but I'll take it.  After this match we were informed we were in the playoff at least.  Clermont fell of the proverbial cliff, losing all of their remaining games, and it was between Les Bleus, FC Metz, and Auxerre to see who would win the Ligue.

Malik Tchokounte was the hero (again) against Valenciennes, with a brace of goals in the 9th and 31st minutes.  A Torrid pace at the second half kickoff saw Valenciennes score in the 48th minute, but the defense held afterwards, and we left with the 2-1 victory.

This season we sent Saint Etienne in disgrace.  We beat Olympique Marseilles and Angers SCO in consecutive weeks.  and had beaten Paris Saint Germain once already.  Could we do it again?

Short answer?  No, we could not.  In front of a packed crowd at Stade Marcel, we could only muster 7 shots, one of which was on target.  PSG dominated the possession, 57/43.  Luan and Origi had the two goals for PSG, but I can say with pride we were 3-1 against Ligue 1 teams this season.

Last game of the year saw us playing Red Star FC, and things started poorly when Lasme put Red Star ahead in the 11th minute.  Tchokounte scored the equalizer in the 20th minute, and Gormin put the game out of reach with a very nice goal in the 89th ended.  I was happy when the game ended, I was happier when I found out Auxerre lost to Racing Club De Lens, and we won the Ligue by a point.

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There were plaudits, there were congratulations, but more importantly, there was prize money.

We are hemorrhaging money, at the rate of 500K euros a month.  We are just under 2 million euros in the red, having lost 1.07 million this year.  Some of it is due to the stadium expansion, we had 17 games where our attendance was 4k or better, including eleven that were completely sold out.  But our finances have been insecure for most of the season.

I've got a 3.69 million transfer budget, and a 194K payroll budget.  I'm letting a decent amount of salary go at the end of June, but I am bringing some of it back.  We got a new Jersey deal, 19.5 k a year, big whoop, 

Then came this:

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Which is odd because I'm less than a month away from finishing the new grounds, which expand to 11K if I recall, and I need to expand my training and youth facilities as well, they are both still basic.

Then, at the end of May, comes this bit of news:

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So, at the start of the season, I could be under new management, with a new stadium and even more debt.

Yay?

Against All Odds, we made it to Ligue 1 in less than 5 years.

Now, can we stay?

Thanks for reading!

Jellico73

Edited by Jellico73

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This was my primary formation and lineup this season.  When I realized I had a decent chance of actually being promoted, I started giving some of my younger players more time.  Malik Tchokounte, De Parmentier, Rocchi, Damien Fachan and Marc Fachan have been the backbone of the team, and without them we would not have gotten to Ligue 1, let alone Ligue 2.  But it;s going to be the younger players, Silva, Adli, Tormin, Sabayo, Abdallah and Kostolnasky that keep us there.

j3TsFZ1.jpg

 

Jellico73

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Well, the good news is the takeover didn't go through, as the financial group lacked the resources to complete the purchase.

My new stadium plans were finalized on the 1st of June,

I've started the season and have had sellouts every home game.

Our finances our 'Insecure' and the owner will sell for the right offer.

And despite the plans being finalized, work on expanding the stadium has not started...and if i am reading the rules right if construction does not start and we don't meet the Ligue 1 guidelines there will be some penalties involved.

This save just got a bit more interesting.

 

Jellico73

 

 

Edited by Jellico73

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"Against All Odds - Les Bleus et Blancs"

USL_Dunkerque.jpg.8119c9623f097fa8fdd99b9b691d573e.jpg

 

Well, despite it's financial insecurity  the board has made some decisions:

Our scouting network is now worldwide, with two more scouts.

We have an affiliate club now, KSV Roeselare in Belgium.

We are receiving €12.78M for TV rights this season.

Increased the number of coaches.

BREXIT Happened, but I believe it was the 'Soft' version as there were no changes to the current work permit system.

Because the club was under a transfer embargo for a small amount of time, I wasn't as active as I could have been.

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Souleymane Bah was on the African Under 19 Team when I scouted him.  I had signed him last season, but he was not eligible to transfer until the start of this season.  He's a borderline player for me, but I am hoping some tutoring can get him improved.  He was one of the first players loaned out to our new affiliate.

Milos Degenek has some very good things going for him.  He can play anywhere on the back line, and is a capable DM and M.  He's got the right personality to tutor someone, and he's a great header.  He's also apparent;y fragile.  He's my primary backup, and he's been solid so far.  

Fadel Gobitaka spent 7 years with Standard in Belgium.  Which means he's either really lying about his age, of Belgium Youth Intakes start at 12.  I didn't think I needed another Attacking Mid, then he popped up in the Scouting.  3 star now, 4 star potential, plays all three positions reall well and he's a Free?  Yes please.

Amilicar Silva is my best D(L).  He's also my Libero when I play the 532 Bolt, and while Makan Traore is serviceable, he's also 27 and his skills are starting to diminish.  Faitout Maouassa was on the transfer list by request.  He started at AS Nancy Lorraine and then went to Racing Club De Lens for €1.3M, then two years later Olympiakos bought him for €2M, and loaned him out to Vfl Bochum, where he was unspectacular.   Olymipakos started at 1.50M, but I didn't want to haggle, and what use is a 3M transfer budget when you don't spend it?  He plays all the positions on the left side (but does get worse the further he moves up), he's young, determined, and his physicals are very good IMO.  

Baba Traore is a slightly more recent pickup.  Marc Fachan is a very serviceable R(L) for Ligue 2, and was just getting the run around in the preseason friendlies.  Benrandy Abdallah is a better winger than he is a D(R), and he's been a solid, reliable player while at GFC Ajaccio.  300K may have been a bit on the high side, but I have faith I can get that much out of him if he does move on.

 

Lot of outgoing transfers, almost all of them Youth players who weren't going to be good enough to see the field.  Thaylor Lubizando, Ahmed Al-Sadi, Bevic Mousiti Oko, Alen Boubidar, Valentin, Johnathon Isambart and Max Barnofsky all left.  Coupe de Ligue hero Lloyd Isgrove didn't want to resign.  Gijs Brouwers also didn't want to resign. 

Lokeren came in with a private bid for Jonan Amelibia, and when I turned it down he was a bit upset.  I *think* I have enough depth without him, so I went back to Lokeren and was able to get about 200K more than they initially offered for him.

Emmanuel Attah.  He was a former PSG reserve player who I picked up on a free last year, and looked to be solid, but four games into the season declared he was unhappy.  I couldn't get him loaned, couldn't get him transferred, and when I did get him playing time he was adequate.  Oostende came in with a 100K bid, I got them up to 200K and maybe 250, which for a player I brought in on a free isn't too bad I think.

Fankaty Dabo went out on loan again.  He's just not going to get any better, and part of me is hoping that AS Beziers will take him.

Marinó Þór Guðmundsson is my 4th option AM(R), and I am hoping another season on loan will drive his value up.  Thus far while on loan at Dijon FCO, he has 2 goals and 3 assists in 5 games, which can only help the both of us.

Giuseppe De Francesco wasnt going to get a lot of playing time here, but Calais RUFC came in on a loan offer, and he having a solid season there.

Samir Lasserre, Jason M'Bock, Jacques Schall and Souleymane Bah are all on loan at our new affiliate, Roeselare.

Awhile ago I wasn't too sure about Jan Kostolansky.

The came this:

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And I said No.

The a week later came this:

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And I thought about it.  For a minute or so.

Then I said no.  And signed Jan to a new deal 

 

We've been picked to finish last, and I'm hoping to avoid a relegation battle, we're in Europe, and we've had a pretty OK off season all things considered.  So, how are we doing?

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(Yes, I've changes skins between updates.)

Well, we're doing ok against our Ligue 1 opponents, and pretty well against everyone else.  I can't explain it.

I didn't know what to expect when playing Red Star.  I played my 4-2-3-1 Asymmetric, and pretty much dominated the game stats wise.  20 sots, 7 on goal, 53% possession.  Malik Tchokounte got his 1st goal of the season with a nice shot just after the half started, and it was enough to see us through to the rematch.

A week later Red Star was ready to play.  I used my 532 Swiss Bolt, and Tchokounte again scored in the 3rd minute.  8 Yellow cards (!) later, Dejeric and Markovic had equalized the score, but it was the away goal that put us through to the next round against Vaduz, a Swiss team (that may have wanted to interview me at one point IIRC).

We kicked off our Ligue 1 season at Angers SCO, and there was a lot of pre match talk about whether or not we would stay.  After we held Angers to a 0-0 draw, I think we put some of those questions to rest.  Angers outshot us, but Sy had a solid game, and my defense performed very well.  

Vaduz came to Stade Marcel playing a game of "Wait and See".  then we had 23 shots to their 9, 7 on target to their 4, and while they had the possession advantage, it didn't really help them.  Jean-Jacques Rocchi scored in the 35th minute, and Vaduz equalized three minutes later with a Matik goal.  De Parmentier scored in the 50th minute, and then Kukurozovic scored on a header that bounced off three other people off the corner kick.  I was not comfortable heading to Lichtenstein.  Yes, they are a Swiss League Club that plays in Lichtenstein.

Our first home game was against Olympique Lyonnais.  It got off to a poort start, when Keita scored in the 9th minute for L'OL, and after a Tolisso goal in the 36th minute, we were 2-0 down.  Tchokounte brought the score equal in the 48th minute, and our second half "Bend but don't Break" defense held, and Abergel was able to equalize in the 68th minute.  Stat wise we were well and truly ROFLstomped, L'OL had 30 shots, 15 on target, and a 59/41 possession advantage.   If all the gets the is a draw, I'll take it.

Whatever made Guevin Tormin mad, he decided to take it out in the Alps.  A goal in the 15th minute, another in the 35th gave us the 2-0 lead.  Alegue added a goal in the 49th minute, and De Paremtnier sealed it in the 81st minute.  Vaduz didn't show up to play, and the stats reflected it.  And with a 6-2 Aggregate win, we were into the Europa League!

AS Monoca came to Stade Marcel and thrashed us., controlling the game from beginning to end.  Embolo had 2 goals, one in the 4th and the other in the 26th minute.  Sy also blocked a PK of his in ther 34th minute, and Joao Moutinho put the game out of reach in the 61st minute, and we lost 3-0.  Welcome to Ligue 1...

Remi Garde is no longer at OGC Nice, but it is nice to go against our former Ligue 2 belligerent.  In a Nutshell, we threw this game away.  A bottle job worthy of Doctor Benjy FM, we had a 2-0 going into extra time.  Tormin had a goal in the 38th minute, and 30. Helgi Guðjónsson had a followup a minute later.  Then, in the 90th minute, Simone Ganz scored, and two minutes later, while I'm screaming at the ref to blow the whistle, Dionasi equalizes, and we end up ion a 2-2 draw.  Somehweres, Remi Garde is chuckling.  And I am not happy.

My Mood goes even further south after thew Cup draw.

"Group of Death" in French is "Groupe de la Mort"

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Welcome to Big Boy Football.

Against All Odds, were not in the Relegation Zone!

 

Thanks for Reading!

 

Jellico73

Edited by Jellico73

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This is brilliant. Had a go in France with Orleans a few years ago, had a proper struggle the first few seasons in the Ligue 1. Looking forward to the next chapter. 

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5 hours ago, Velodromè said:

This is brilliant. Had a go in France with Orleans a few years ago, had a proper struggle the first few seasons in the Ligue 1. Looking forward to the next chapter. 

Thanks for reading!

 

Jellico73

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"Against All Odds - Les Bleus et Blancs"

USL_Dunkerque.jpg.8119c9623f097fa8fdd99b9b691d573e.jpg

 

I'll be honest, I really am not sure what I am doing.  I am reasonably sure that there is a reason for whats going on, but the cynic in me says I am in the middle of some cosmic joke, and the punchline is coming.

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Chelsea did their best to run us into the ground.  20 shots versus 7, 9 on target versus 4, 56% possession advantage.  Their only real scoring chance came in the 47th minute, when Oscar hit a penalty shot strait at Sy.  And we tied Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in front of 40,132 fans.

Our match against Olympique Marseilles was pretty even, but Alexis Alegue and Jon Kostolonsky goals in the 61st and 89th minute gave us the 2-0 win.  Stade MArce was packed to the rafters, again.  My stadium plans have been finished, Again.  But construction has not started.

We just could not get anything going against SC Bastia.  We held them until the 56th minute, when VIncent hit a fine goal for them.  We just couldn't make anything of our chances, and lost 1-0.

Luan Sabayo got things started against FC Metz, scoring a nice goal in the 24th minute.  Vutov added another goal in the 32nd minute.  Metz was pretty apathetic most of the game, rarely mounting an attack, their lone goal came on a Thomas De Parmentier own goal in the 84th minute of a corner kick that deflected of an FC Metz player, then Thomas, and past Sy.

Panathanaikos is one of the better Greek Superleague teams, they just have the misfortune of playing with PAOK and Olympiakos.  They've been runner up or 3rd place in the Superleague 8 times the past ten years.  I don't think they took us seriously.

Shots on goal: We had 16 to their 8.  On Target:  We had 12(!) to their 2.  58% possession advantage.

Guevin Tormin got things started with a great shot in the 13th minute.  Berg equalized for Panathinaikos in the 34rd minute, and Vutov put us ahead in the 40th minute.  Panathanaikos came out of the half fast, scoring in the 50th minute, but Kostolansky's goal in the 60th minute seemed to take the wind out of them, and we secured the 3-2 win

Stade de Reims played us very hard, the match was very even.  Helgi Guðjónsson, our young Icelandic striker, scored in the 2nd minute, and again in the 29th minute to give us the quick 2-0 lead.  Ragusas goal in the 37th minute put Stade back in reach, but our defense held fast, and we secured the 2-1 win.

AJ Auxerre came up with us to Ligue 1 last season, and we've faced each other the past three years in Ligue 2.  We have a friendly rivalry, and some very good games played.   This one should have been Auxerres from the get go.  Playing our 532 Bolt, they boys were just....bad.  Almost comically so.  If not for Dabila and Sy, they would have had at least 3 goals.  Instead we staggered to a 0-0 draw.  Honestly, as bad as we played this game, I was not looking forward to our next Europa League match.

Maccabi Tel-Aviv are the best team in the Israeli Ligat League.  Since 2012 they've wone the Ligate every year since 2015, and that year they came in 2nd.  I was expectin g a tough match, especially after the last game, and was hoping for something close.  Instead I got a 6-1 win, in Tel Aviv no less.  Kostolansky got us started with a quick goal in the 3rd minute, and then I think one of the Maccabi players must have insulted Helgi Guðjónsson, because his inner Viking Beserkir came out.  A Goal in the 12th minute, again in the 40th, the hat trick in the 54th minute, and his fourth goal in the 61st minute.  Tel-Aviv got a lone goal from Dentinho in the 43rd, minute, and that was it.

So, the first round of Group L is over, and how are we looking?

vJaTpOj.jpg

We're tied for first, because Chelsea has been Chelsea,  Either I'm putting to much into how good Panathanaikos and Maccabi are supposed to be, or as I alluded to earlier, its some sort of cosmic joke.

And we are solidly midtable (for the moment), in Ligue 1 play.  And, with ther TV Contract money, were making as profit.  Now if they'd only start building the new stadium, I'd be happier.

Against All Odds, we still haven't broken ground on the new Stade.

Thanks for reading!

Jellico73

 

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On 2/21/2017 at 07:49, Keano16 said:

Well done on qualifying! 

Thanks.  First season in Ligue 1 had had it shares of ups and downs, a few more matches and we'll know where we stand.

Thanks for Reading!

 

Jellico73

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"Against All Odds - Les Bleus et Blancs

USL_Dunkerque.jpg.8119c9623f097fa8fdd99b9b691d573e.jpg

 

Well, I have powered thru my first season in Ligue 1, and there have been a lot of ups and down at Stade Marcel, so lets pick up where we left off:

yDoVEhH.jpg

Continuing our play in Group L, we faced a Maccabi team we beat 6-1 a few weeks before.  They really didn't try this game, maybe having decided the goal differential was too great.  They had 7 shots on goal, none on target, while a Jan Kostolansky goal gave us the 7-1 overall win.

Our game against Stade Rennais was one we almost threw away.  Vutov got us off the mark in the 15th minute, and 'le vieil homme' Malik Tchokounte had a goal in the 24th minute.  Rennais equalized with as pair of Lasogga goals, and the game looked to be heading for a draw when Nielsen decided because one footed tackles were not working, he would try both feet, and instead was sent off in the 70th minute.  Vutov put the winner away a few minutes later, and we left with a win.

After this game, Leornardo Capezzi came up as a free transfer(!).  I didn't have him fully scouted when he popped up, but Sampdoria decided to let him go halfway thru the season. , but as soon as I saw he was out there, I snapped him up.  Damien Fachan wasn't going to be with the team after this season, and I'm not to impressed with my other DM's on the team at the moment, and bringing him on gave my midfield some much needed strength.  He played in every game after this for me.

Capezzi made himself known in our next matxch against Havre, with a nice goal in the 19th minute that equalized the score.  Vital put one away in the 11th minute to give HAC the lead.  Adli put us ahead in the 37th minute, but we gave the tie back two minutes later with a Thelin goal.

Next was Chelsea, and after our 0-0 tie the first timer around, Conte was pretty confident going into this game, predicting an easy victory.  When Lozano scored in the 7th minute, it looked like the rout could be on, but despite 21 more shots on goal, Chelsea never found the back of the net again.  My defense was solid, and Courtois made a spectacular save on an Alegue shot that would have tied the game.  Still, losing 1-0 was a big accomplishment for the team, we did very well to hold out own.

I think the boys were tired after that Chelsea game, because LOSC came in and owned us from the first whistle.  Sean and Ghilas goals gave them the 2-0 win, and only a good performance by Sy keot it from being 4-0.  We had 1 shot on goal.  And it wasn't even a good one.

We have a friendly rivalry going with AS Saint-Etienne, and they took us seriously enough that after scoring on an Etebo PK in the 22nd minute, they parked the bus on us.  16 shots, 7 on target later they were still holding us to a 1-0 score, Ruffier made a couple of very nice saves.  Tormin equalized for us with a PK in the 76th minute, and the attack Saint-Etienne was on afterwards crumbled when Besic was sent off in the 80th minute, and a man down they went back to defense, holding out for the 1-1 tie.

Next up was PSG, and they showed us why they are the best in Ligue 1.  They dominated us from the very beginning, a Luan goal in the 1st minute getting things started.  25 shots, 16 on target, and goals by Icardi and Carrasco gave PSG the 3-0 lead.  Gudjonnson got one back in the 82nd minute, but we could have played better.  PSG could have scored a lot more, but Sy was an absolute hero between the sticks.

Back in Group L action, Panathinaikos scored a goal in the 24th minute, then sat.  Try as we might, we just could not get the score, which was very frustrating.  However, when the dust had settled, this is how thing's stood:

LouwBtP.jpg

We qualified.  Maccabi laid the proverbial egg, and our win over the Greek team pushed us into second place.

So we were moving on! 

To The the First knockout Round!  

Against Bayer Leverkusen!  

Wait, what?  Mother....well, I held Chelsea to 2 goals in two games, I could do the same to Bayern.  

Meanwhile, back in Ligue 1 action, FC Nantes came to town, and left with a 2-1 defeat.  A Tormin goal in the 46th minute, and a Dabila header in the 64th minute gave us the lead, and while N'Dorma put Nantes on the board, it was too little, too late.

Our Fourth Round Coupe de Ligue match was a run and gun affair, and we were able to not only keep up with AJ Auxerre, but pull ahead.  Sabayo goals in the 43rd and 88th minute, and an Alegue goal in the 62nd minute, gave us a nice win over another friendly rival.

Looking back, this part of our schedule was just brutal, from 11/21 to 12/16 we played 8 games in 26 days,  Yikes.

KDpBlbV.jpg

The schedule was probably the biggest reason we lost our next two games.  I did what I could rotation wise, but I'm playing for the win as much as I can in my matches, I've avoided a relegation battle so far, and I want to keep avoiding it.  That said, hlding our opponents to low(ish) scoring games I feel is a big accomplishment as well.  GDB ran us everywhere, with 24 shots on goal and 10 on target, but the defense held up.  Timothy Chandlers goal in the 41st minute was a beauty, a hard strike past a dicing sigh into the far corner.  

Toulouse and Remi Garde were next, and he was still talking some smack.  The game was even until the 50th minute when Bahebeck put Toulouse on board with a nice shot, and 18 minutes later he added a second goal giving le TFC a 2-0 lead.  Tormin, Alegue and Capezzi all had chances to score in the last 10 minutes, but were all denied, and we lost.

Coup De France Ninth round was next, against a PAris FC team thats mostly likely going back down to the CNF.  Their tactic appeared to be foul early and often, but after a Tormin PK in the 19th minute gave us the lead, they backed off, and never really threatened us, and we left with the 1-0 win.

Our Coupe de Ligue Quarterfinal match was fun to watch, a free flowing back and forth affair that saw Havre be just good enough to turn away our chances.  Cabezas and Vital goal gave HAC a 2-0, and thats how the game ended, and the defending Coupe De Ligue champions were out.  I wasn't expecting to get this far really, last years Coupe de Ligue victory was the result of some good fortune and lucky breaks, but I am proud of how the boys played, they showed they could keep up with a solid Ligue 1 team.

Helgi Gudjonsson is a 21 year old Icelandic player whose been tearing it up in my Reserve games, and when I play him in the Ligue 1 games he does pretty well.  His Bravery is only a 3 though, and thats..disappointing, but when he's on he's very on.  he had 25 goals in 26 games as a reserve player, and 10 goals this season, and will be Tchokountes replacement in the short term.  After Lyonnais scored in the 66th minute, he took the game over, scoring the equalizer in the 70th minute, and then had another shot turned away in the 80th minute.  We left Parc Olympique with a 1-1 draw, against a team of that quality I will take that result any day of the week.

I literally cursed out loud during the game against AS Monoco.  Had to put 5 dollars in the swear jar because my son heard me.  Monoco had controlled the game throughout, but my defense had held, and I was looking forward to the 0-0 draw when in the 93rd minute, an Embolo header past a diving Sy gave them the victory.  3 minutes into 1 minute of extra time...JFC was I pissed.

The boys were mad to, and they took it out on OGC Nice.  Vutov scored twice in 5 minutes, and with 5 players on international duty, including Sy, Garrisone Innocent had a very good day between the sticks, getting the clean sheet and a 7.4 rating.

The game against OM was a fun one, even though we lost.  Dembele got things started with a goal in the 8th minute, and our own Gobitaka equalized less than a minute later, then put us ahead with a second goal in the 14th minute.  Thauvin and Carcela goals gave OM the 3-2 lead, and we were challenging for the tie when Silva misdirected a volley of a corner kick, giving OM the 4-2 win.  But we held our own against OM, and that's what I am looking for most this season.  

Knowing how well I did as a lower league team against some of these bigger teams, I was not taking US Granville lightly, especially after they beat Avant de Guignap in the Ninth Round of the Coupe de France i to meet up in the Tenth Round.  They scored first, a nice strike in the 9th minute, but after that it was all Les Bleus.  Gudjonsson scored in the 18th minute, Baba Traore scored in the 65th and Vutoc put it out of reach three minutes later.  A Solid, wll played game for us.

Against SC Bastia, we could just not score.  In a fairly even game stat wise, Prevot and the rest of the Bastia defense held strong, while we gave up goals to Laborde and Szymanowski.  Frustrating loss this one.

We took that frustration out against FC Metz.  Gudjonsson had a brace of goals, and Kostolonsky added one as well, giving us a very nice 3-0 win.

Our game against Stade de Reims was a very even affair, in bioth the score and the stats.  Gudjonsson got things off with a shot in the 7th minute, and Reims equalixed in the 29th minute with a Salli goal.  Tormin put us ahead in the 38th minute, but Reims scored in the 53rd minute of a Balde strike, and the rest of the game was both sides waiting to counterattack, which meant nothing of consequence happened, and we left with a 2-2 draw.

I think Roger Schmidt did his homework before our match, because he didn't say anything dismissive out us in the pre match pressers, and was very complimentary of our results thus far.  The Bundesliga power (they finished 2nd this year behind Bayern Munich) wasn't taking any chances I suppose.  Hernandez got Bayer off to a quick start with a goal in the 2nd minute, which Capezzi equalized in the 60th minute.  Muto put Bayer ahead in the 71st minute, but Dabilia equalized again in the 71st minute, and then it all fell apart.  Bonazzoli scored in the 86th minute, and Hernandez added a second goal in the 91st minute, and Bayer left 4-2 winners.

Three days later I had a pretty rotated squad facing AJ Auxerre, and it was a pretty even match, until the end.  Tormins PK in the 49th minute gave us the 1-0 lead, but Courtet equalized in the 62nd minute, ands Keita's shot in the 74th minute gave Auxerre the 2-1 win.

Three days later we were in Leverkeusen, and we were the minnow swimming with the sharks.  We just could not get anything going, and Bayer knew it took, so much so they took their foot off the gas in the second half.  Aranguiz scored for Bayer in the 42nd minute, and Hernanded put the game out of reach in the 81st minute.  We mananged a grand total of 2 shots on goal, and left Germany as 6-2 (aggregate) losers.  However, First Knockout round was a heck of a lot further than I thought we'd get.  My goal in the Europa League was to not get embarrassed, and luckily for me, Maccabi Tel Aviv was there to take that honor.  When we qualify again, I think we will go a lot further.

Our Coupe de France Eleventh round match was us trying to hold out for the late score, and for 60 minutes it worked.  Unfortunately for us, Lacazette hit a fine shot in the 60th minute giving Lyonnais the lead, and we just could not get a ball into their net.  The pace of the last few weeks has been catching up to us, with niggling injuries and lackluster performances.

Eleven games left in the season, how would we do?

Against All Odds, were not in a Relegation fight.

Thanks for Reading!

 

Jellico73

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Well, I had a nice post about the last few games of the season, but clicked the wrong button and closed the tab before hitting send.  And on top of that, I just got some in game news that has me royally hacked off.

Long story short, we avoided relegation, finishing 16th in the Ligue.  

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Our finances really improved, due to TV money (And were getting another 8 million in TV Monies next season), we were in the black most of the season:

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We also have a new ownership group:

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and hes given us a 250K a week salary budget and 3.22 M transfer budget.

Then came this:

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And honestly, I am pissed off.  I mean, what the ELF is going on here?  We sold out all of our non friendly home games this season.  All of them.  Because our current stadium is to small for Europa League games, we had to play at Calais RUFC (A CNA team) stadium because it had 12K seats, and it was more than 80% full for those games.  We brought 7K fans to the Chelsea match, and 9K to the Bayer match.  And the kicker to this?

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Plans for a new stadium have been completed.  SINCE LAST YEAR!  And we don't have the money to build a new stadium just yet?  Heck, I can't even go to the board and ask like I did last time around, because it's not an option.  But you know what was an option?  Youth training facilities, and in their announcement takeover the new group said they were going to spend to improve the facilities, so on a whim I asked them for new Youth facilities.

AND THEY SAID YES!  What.  The.  Eff.  Is.  That?

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We don't need new youth facilities.  We need a new damned stadium, the one that's already been designed, the one I know I can pack to the rafters with fans.  

This has me seriously hacked off.  Maybe if I go job hunting I can convince them to start building.  

I don't know why, but this stadium thing has me royally mad.

But hey, new youth facilities.

Speaking of youth facilities, we had our youth intake.  Nothing spectacular, 

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Here's the best of the bunch this season:

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Off season is about to get underway.  I need to go vent about this whole stadium issue.  

Against All Odds, I'm getting a new stadium.  

Thanks for Reading!

Jellico73

 

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"Against All Odds - Les Bleus et Blancs"

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Stade Watch 2021:  Pland completed in 2020, no new Stadium being built.  And thats after an 8.75M profit last season (thank you TV revenue!)

If this keeps up I am going to have to learn how to cuss in French.  

I was pretty busy in the offseason.  One of the things I realized a bit too late is that I have a fairly young team, with our average age being 24.  This meant I had very few players available for tutoring, which I am going to need if some of my younger stars are going to become the players I think they need to become, and getting in a few players to help with that was one of my primary goals this offseason.  We also had more than a few familiar faces leaving in the summer transfers:

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Fankaty Dabo, Damien Fachan, Mark Fachan, Luan Sabayo, Jean-Jacques Rocchi, Makan Traore, Damien Wendling, Mustapha Nesri, Baba Traore and David Duboc all left on Frees after I didn't renew their contracts.  My former primary backup goalkeeper, Garisonne Innocent, went for 60K to Racing Club de Lens, and with Jan Kostoloansky really coming into his own on the AM(R), Thomas De Parmentier went to FC Chambly Oise for 185K.  He wasn't going to get any playing time, and had made a bunch of noise about moving on.  Malik Tchokounte has also made some noise about moving on, but thus far I've kept him in house.  I want him to retire as a member of Les Bleus.

On the "In" side of the transfers I was a bit more active.

Marc Wachs is the only player I spent money on, and it was too much money in hindsight, my scouts really let me down with him.  He was 4 star potential after being fully scouted, got him to the club and it was 2 1/2 stars all the way.  He's a capable backup on the D(L) side, and is a decent tutor as well, so all is not lost I suppose.

Antonis Kravaritis is a young Belgian/Australian striker I found while scouting the U20's teams.  He has potential, in three-four years he could be my starter full time, and he's having a decent season at Roeselare, my affiliate team in the Belgian 1st Division.

Ibrahima Sy is not getting any younger, and he's not getting any better.  In fact, he's gotten slightly worse in our second Ligue 1 season.  Seidu Boakye I found on the Ghana U20 team, and he has some potential.  I no sooner brought him in on a free and then Red Star FC came asking for him on loan, and I said "Sure, why not?"

Thibault Delhaye left OM on a Free.  This is not a good sign, because if teams like OM are letting players like this go....well....

Jannik Ginzik I picked up because he plays DM, M and AM(C) pretty well, and he's 18 years old.  My youth team was not full strength, and I can keep him here and then send him to the reserves for the next couple of seasons.  I'll have no problems moving him if he doesn't make my squad though.

Marco Baldan I picked up to be a tutor primarily.  Then I loaned him out, and now he can't tutor.  This doesn't seem right to me...but then its my own fault for loaning him out.

Sergey Chernik I picked up to be a tutor, and 3rd string goalie.

Ransford Amoako I found on the Ghana U20 team, and he strikes me as the M(C) version of Jan Kostolansky for me.  If I can get a tutor in for him in addition to so playing time, I think he could be great, especially if/when Capezzi leaves for more fruitful pastures.

Even with Seidu Boakye under contract, when I scouted the Australian U20's and came across John Austin, who was at the FFA COE I had to sign him.  If either one of Boakye or Auston become my full time starter when Sy steps back, I won't be upset at all.

I'm becoming disenchanted with my current crop of D(C)'s.  As much as I like Amilcar Silva, I think he's reached the limit of his abilities.  Kouadia Yves Dabilia is a good Ligue 2 player, and the rest of my D(C)'s are to young (Jop Poot is still just 19) to warrant full playing time.  When Joseph Colley popped up I was a little intrigued because he spent so much time in the Chelsea youth system, and never got any playing time.  Something tells me you don't spend six years at Chelsea unless you have some skill, and he'll be a nice bridge between now and the next generation of I have coming up.

Leonardo Fontanesi I brought in on trial, and the signed him because 1) He a pretty solid D(C), and 2) He's a pretty decent tutor, and I had noone available to tutoy my younger DLine guys.  I really dropped the ball there.

Ettore Mendicino primary job is to be a tutor.  After that he's a striker option, but if he's getting regular playing time, my season is not going the way I want it to.

In other news:

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We're getting a second affiliate

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The training facilities have been completed (now we're Adequate!)

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The Youth Facilities have been completed (Below Average!)

And when the Tournament stars align just so:

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I have upwards of 8 players being called up for international duty.

But there's also this improvement:

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Which is very cool I think.  Cracking the top 100 is quite the accomplishment thus far I think.

On a whim, because it was an option, I aksed for the youth facilites to be upgraded again.

The board said yes:

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Apparently that 14.72M I am getting for TV rights this season only goes so far.

Six home games played thus far, all six have been sell outs.

Go figure.

More on the season thus far tomorrow.

Thanks for reading!

Jellico73

 

 

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"Against All Odds - Les Bleus et Blancs"

USL_Dunkerque.jpg.8119c9623f097fa8fdd99b9b691d573e.jpg

Well, I told the board I would avoid a relegation battle, and get to the quarterfinals of the Coupe de la Ligue and Coupe de France as well.  All of which I think are very achievable goals.  I started preseason a week earlier than usual, just to try and get a jump on the team and tactic cohesion.

 

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All in all, the preseason went very well.  The Calais Cup was something I came up with, just to see if I could get a small tournament of TV and earn a little money.  The Calais Cup was my team, Stade Malherbe Caen, FC Lorient, and FC Dieppe.  It was pretty successful, and I'll try and do it next season as well.

The season started off on the right foot, as OGC Nice came to town and left on the wrong side of a 3-2 game.  Dionisi scored first for Nice, then Kostolansjy scored in the 37th minute, Adli scored in the 42nd minute, and Guðjónsson scored in the 58th minute.  Nice got back to within one with a Michelot goal in the 70th minute, but it wasn't enough.

As good as we were against Nice, we fell flat against Stade Rennais.  Mohamed Koffi had a hat tricks worth of goals, and Ramselaar added the fourth goal with five minutes left.  A poor performance all around.

As much as I'd like to take credit for the great score against AC Ajaccio, truth is L'ACA had 2 men sent off during the course of the match.  They only had two shots on goal the entire match as well.  Kostolansky, Alegue, Adli, and Vutov all had goals for us.

We were playing Auxerre fairly close, but in the 46th minute Mousset hit a shot that had Sy diving the wrong way, and we went into the half a point down.  Second half we had chances, and after Guðjónsson scored in the 50th minute I was sure we were on the way back, but we couldn't make anything happen.  Romain scored for Auxerre in the 60th minute, and Sy blocked a Mousset penalty in the 65th minute, and we lost 2-1

Kostolansky scored just before the half ended in our match against Olympique Lyonnais, and I was hoping that would take the wind out of them.  Instead Musanda scored in the 60th, and Gonalons scored in the 70th minute, and we were 2-1 losers.  While losing sucks, I really don't mind losing close games like this to better teams.  It shows how good we are getting IMO.

PSG brought in Michal Baranek from Dynamo Kiev for €25 Million Euros.  USL Dunkerque at the moment is worth €21.5 Million.  And PSG also brought in Divok Origi for 63M, and Saul for 75M.  So while an upset was possible (I've done it before after all), losing 3-0 was not a bad thing at the moment.  We had shots, and shots on goal, PSG just had three times as many as we did.  :-)  Isco, Icardi and Luan had the PSG goals, and we saw just how far we have to go to go to the top of Ligue 1.

FC Nantes is struggling a bit this season.  And I'd like to think the boys were motivated after the PSG game.  Capezzi scored in the 41st minute, and Guðjónsson scored in the 46th minute, and we had a nice 2-0 win.

The score of the  Toulouse FC game is misleading.  47 minutes in were ahead 3-0, thanks to a Lafant own goal, a Vutov strike, and a Tormin PK right before the half ended.  in the 48th minute Briathwaite scored for Toulouse, then in the 60th minute Adli got a second Yellow and was sent of.  Braithwaite scored again in the 68th minute, and a third time in the 75th minute.  We're holding on to a 4-3 lead, and in the 90th minute Diara lofts a backpost cross to Bahebeck, who volleys it off the post, and right back to him, and he taps it in for the equalizer.  Ten seconds after that?  Game Over.  We should have won this game...

We got our revenge on an AS Saint-Etienne team that's having a down season.  Malik Tchokounte had a goal, as did Guðjónsson and Kostolansky.  Saint-Etienne could not get much going, and the home crowd enjoyed a 3-0 win.

Our game against EAG was a tight match, with a Soulemayne Bah goal in the 56th minute giving us the win.  Our defense has been surprisingly solid this season (The Toulouse game aside), Leonardo Fontanesi has been a very nice addition, and Joseph Colley is improving by leaps and bounds while averaging a 7.1 next to him.  

AS Monocao is the class of Ligue 1 so far, and I think they came in expecting an easy victory.  Maximilian Romero scored in the 2nd minute, but Guevin Tormin (who has become a very good AM(L) winger), equalized a minute later.  Embolo put Monaco ahead in the 19th minute, and then played keep away for the rest of the game.  We had our chances, 7 of our 8 shots were on target, but Andre Onana was on his game, and we couldn't get another one past him.  But we scored against Monaco, which is more than can be said about our PSG game.

SC BAstias plan seemed to be foul early, foul often.  They backed off the fouling a bit after a Guðjónsson goal in the 35th minute, and backed way off after Tormin had two PK's in less than six minutes to give us the 3-0 lead.  Mohsin Al-Yami got one back for Le SCB in the 58th minute, after Sy misplayed a clearing kick and couldn't get back between the sticks fast enough.

In our Coupe de la Ligue Third Round match we faced ESTAC Troyes, a recent Ligue 1 team that was relegated the year we came up.  Tormin and Guðjónsson got us off to a quick start, with goals in the 15th and 17th minutes, and my back four were absolute rocks this game.  Troyes had 7 shots on goal, 1 on target, and my backline averaged a 7.55 for the game.  A solid 2-0 win for us.

So far were doing quite well.  6 Wins, 5 losses and a draw have kept us top half of the table so far, and we are not losing games by a large margin.  If we can keep this up we have a very good chance of avoiding a relegation battle.

In other news, we picked up a second affiliate club, they of the horrible home kits, CS Sedan-Ardennes.  But I needed another team to send my players to, as the Roeselare coach likes playing the ones I send him out of position.

Sampdoria offered me an interview, and I graciously declined.

On a whim, I asked for the Youth facilities to be improved, and the club agreed.

And I still don't have a new effing Stadium.

Against All Odds, we're holding our own.

Thanks for reading!

Jellico73

Edited by Jellico73

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Posted (edited)

"Against All Odds - Les Bleus et Blancs"

USL_Dunkerque.jpg.8119c9623f097fa8fdd99b9b691d573e.jpg

 

Well, both of my kids had sleepover birthday parties last night, and the wife and I were childless (if you don't count our dog) for the first time in 10 years.  So, we went out, saw a movie (Logan two thumbs up), had a late dinner, and then came home and fell asleep.  It was heaven.

I woke up at the crack of dawn with the do sticking his face in mine and saying "I want to go outside!".  So I let him outside, then sat down and fired up the save.  That was about six AM this morning, and I have just finished Season 6.  It was a grind.  I'm not sure my heart can take it anymore to be honest with you all.

So, we're going to take the season in chunks.  This could be a long post, but the first part is a bit of a repeat, because apparently I cannot follow what I cut and paste properly.,,,

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Not a lot of middle ground here.  We are either winning games, or losing them close, and we haven't been blown out.

Monaco is the class of Ligue 1 so far, and I think they came in expecting an easy victory.  Maximilian Romero scored in the 2nd minute, but Guevin Tormin (who has become a very good AM(L) winger), equalized a minute later.  Embolo put Monaco ahead in the 19th minute, and then played keep away for the rest of the game.  We had our chances, 7 of our 8 shots were on target, but Andre Onana was on his game, and we couldn't get another one past him.  But we scored against Monaco, which is more than can be said about our PSG game.

SC Bastias plan seemed to be foul early, foul often.  They backed off the fouling a bit after a Guðjónsson goal in the 35th minute, and backed way off after Tormin had two PK's in less than six minutes to give us the 3-0 lead.  Mohsin Al-Yami got one back for Le SCB in the 58th minute, after Sy misplayed a clearing kick and couldn't get back between the sticks fast enough.

In our Coupe de la Ligue Third Round match we faced ESTAC Troyes, a recent Ligue 1 team that was relegated the year we came up.  Tormin and Guðjónsson got us off to a quick start, with goals in the 15th and 17th minutes, and my back four were absolute rocks this game.  Troyes had 7 shots on goal, 1 on target, and my backline averaged a 7.55 for the game.  A solid 2-0 win for us.

Olympique Marseilles in turning into one of those teams that we do well against, just not well enough.  This game though, they started a fairly rotated squad that we took advatgae off.  Tormin had 2 more goals in this match, and our defense held OM to just 5 shots On Target. I could brag about beating OM, but I didn't get their best effort.  

Against HAC we fell back into old habits.  Guitane put them ahead in the 39th minute, Guðjónsson equalized a minute later, and the game looked to be a draw.  I would have been happy with a draw.  What I was not happy with was Lois Diony dribbling through the line and scoring in the 91st minute.  

Against LOSC it was more of the same.  A Lameira goal put LOSC ahead at the half, and a Colley OG gave them a 2-0 lead.  However, two Jan Kostolansky goals in the 67th and 76th minute equalized the game, and things were headed towards a draw.  Then in the 91st minute Pedrinho took a cross 5 yards beyond the D and rifled it in past a diving Austin, and we lost.  To a late goal.  Again.

Angers SCO got off to a quick start, a Burkart goal in the 9th minute putting them up, but a Guðjónsson goal in the 33rd minute and a Tormin PK in the 69th minute gave us the win in a game that can best be described as "Lackluster.":  The only highlights were the scores.

The malaise of the Angers game carried over to the Racing Club Game.  Neither side seemed very interested in moving the ball, we had 2 shots on Target, they had 1, and a 0-0 tie was the right result for this sort of match.  

Against Girondins, were we statitically better in every categort except where it counted:  Scoring.  Guðjónsson answered a 14th minute Vinagre goal with his own shot in the 25th minute, but a Grujic goal in the 24th minute and a Niang goal in the 30th minute gave them a 3-1 lead.  Another Guðjónsson in the 57th minute brought us to within one, but Vinagre sealed the victory with a hard shot in the 75th minute.

We were lucky to escape FCSM with a draw.  We played poorly, and Maouassa was sent off after getting a second yellow.  Yet another Guðjónsson goal equalized the score, and we escaped with a draw.  Heading into our FOurth Round Coupe de la Ligue against Havre, I wasn't exactly confident.  When Le HAC scored off a Vital PK ion the 31st minute I braced for a long game, but Guðjónsson against equalized.  Diarrassouba put HAC ahead with a 63rd minute goal, but Vutov equalized 2 minutes later.  I think he must have been upset we had been throwing away game late, because in the 91st minute he took a Tormin cross and blasted it past Michel, and we won 3-2.

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Stade Rennais could not get anything going against us, and frankly we were pretty poor as well.  A Vutov goal in the 49th minute was the only score of the game, and it was enough.

AC Ajaccio may have been what the doctor ordered to get us out of our low scoring funk.  They attacked after a Guðjónsson goal in the 31st minute, and their equaling goal in the 47th minute was answered by Capezzi in the 47th minute.  Dore equalized for Ajaccio in the 56th minute, but a Tormin PK in the 63rd minute and Guðjónsson's 2nd goal in the 72nd minute gave us the 4-2 victory.

We kept the win streak going in our Coupe de France Ninth Round game against Stade de Reims, socring all 4 of our goals int he first half.  Guðjónsson had a brace, Capezzi and Joseph Colley added ones as well.  Blas sneaked a shot past Sy in the 67th minute, but it wasn't enough, and another sell out crowd at Stade Marcel celebrated a very nice win.

The streak came to a halt our next match, although we tried to keep it going.  PSG is taking us a bit more seriously these days, and especially in this Coupe de Ligue game.  Two Icardi goals gave them the 2-0 win, and our defense did a credible job in ensuring that 2 goals was all they got.  I would have liked to have gone further in our Coupe de la Ligue cup, but until we can put a squad on the pitch that can equal Monaco, PSG, we're going to need an inordinate amount of luck to get by them.  Two years ago we got that luck, and I suspect the well is dry as a result.

We bounced back with a nice 2-1 win against Auxerre.  Silva and Kostolansky had very good games, but the real action was taking place on the transfer market.  

After the run made against Capezzi last year, I expected the Italian clubs to come calling again, and I wasn't wrong.  Torino, Lazio, Genoa and Empoli all made bids, but I rejected them because they weren't even close to market value.  Then, out of the blue, Villarreal came in with a private offer, and after a little bit of haggling:

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For a guy we picked up on a Free, I say we came out ahead.  He was a great player for us, but I have a good group of young DM's at the club, and I need to get them playing time.  In Fcat, one of those younger players is this guy:

VCg4NcM.jpg  

(Yes, I've been switching skins a lot lately.  For some reason or another there's always something just wrong enough with the one I am using to drive me away from it.  I am not sure why.  I'll have to ask my therapist.)  I figure if you can't beat the likes of PSG and Monaco, join them.  N'Diaye spent 4 years on the Monaco Reserve team, and was pretty solid.  I probably overpaid for him (€1.1, possibly 1.4M) euros, but he has a load of potential, 

Anton Tinnerholm came in on a free.  It was my intention that he was going to be a tutor, but he did see some first team playing time on the D(R) side of the pitch.  He had some solid years at Malmo, and I'm hoping he can help with some of my younger players.

Fikayo Tomori also came in on a deal worth €1.1M, with 18 caps for Canada, and his Dline versatility, he'll be replacing Silva and Dabila.  

Jocenei came aboard on a free for one reason:  To be a tutor.  He did get some playing time on the B Team this year. 

Malik Tchokounte left on loan, and then out of the blue i get an offer for Sy, from Girondins de Bordeaux.  I took it, because Sy isn't getting any better, in fact he's diminishing.  Boakye blew out his achilles last day of November, but John Austin was more the able to step up and step in.

All that aside, that wasn't the oddest thing during this transfer season.

Roma made an unsolicited offer for Zeca Gomes, my superstar D(L) in the making.  He's only 16, and wsith 5 years of solid training and tutoring, he's going to be a stud.  Romas offer was 600k, and I laughed it off.  Zeca however, got a little mad, and threatened to make things rough for me.  I responded by giving him all the playing time he wanted.  I ran him into the ground.  I praised him, then I put a 15m asking price on him.  Roma came back with offers thast got into the 3M range, but I put everything on auto decline.  Zeca is going to be at Les Bleus for a long time....unless the board screws me over.

Oh, there was this as well:

ZCJn1q9.jpg

The irony here is that Remi Garde was fire 12/1/2021.  But he's now at FC Nantes.  More on that later.

Back to the schedule:

Olympique Lyonnais bossed us in front of 40K of their fans.  We were lifeless and listless, and I was surprised we managed to get out of there while conceding just 2 goals.

We weren't that much better against PSG.  losing 3-0 was most likely a gift, with 24 shots on goal they should have scored more.

 

Whatever ailed us though, the cure seems to be playing Phillipe Bizuel and Havre Athletic Club.  This year we've beaten them in a friendly, lost to them, then we knocked them out of the Coupe de Ligue.   This time we knocked them out of the Coupe de France.  And in true 'Les Bleus' fashion, we almost threw it away.  Guðjónsson, adli and Alegue all scored by the 35th minute.  Then Messaoudi scored for HAC, and Hachimi brought them to within one, but the defense held strong, and we left 3-2 winners.

Part Two tomorrow!

Against All Odds, we're doing pretty well!  Still no new stadium.

Thanks for reading!

Jellico73

Edited by Jellico73

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Continuing on:

 

0tnXzww.jpg

 

FC Nantes played well, but could not find the goal.  We played a little less well, but Guevin Tormin beat two defernders going down the left side and whipped a cross into Bah, who tucked it home, giving us the 1-0 win.

We just could not get anything going in the Toulouse game.  Mandragora and Chaoui put Le TFC up 2-0, and we just could not find the back of the net.  Then, in the 62nd minute; tragedy.

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Jan was having a fine season for us.  I had started playing him as a Ramdeuter, and opposite Tormin he was doing pretty well.  Until this point he had 9 goals and 10 assists, 4 POM's an a 7.13 rating.  He was also the Captain, and our teams primary corner kicker as well.   I was worried for a little bit, but of all they key players I could lose, Kostolansky is the one I could get by without for a little while, because:

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This is Marinó Þór Guðmundsson, who I picked up on a free, because he had a ton of potential.  And I figured if either Kostolansky or Tormin didn't work out, I would train him on the other flank.  Instead, they both turned into quality Ligue 12 starters.  So this year, I looked at making him and AM(C).  Alexis Alegue is my best option there, but in 18 games this season he wasn't to spectacular, and for a coach who plays primarily a 4-2-3-1 I need someone who's more than solid.  Vutov is my best option there at the moment, and he's only 2 1/2 stars now.  Schaal has 3 1/2 to 4 star potential, but I started playing Marino as an AM(C) on the Reserve team, and playing him as an Advanced playmaker.  When Jan went down, he stepped into the AM(R) role, and did very well, 7 goals, 8 assists.  His 'Gets forward Whenever possible' trait could be an issue in the future, but he's going to be my AM(C) next year.

Saint-Etienne are having an off year for them, picked to finish 5th they are struggling to stay mid table, and apparently are having some financial issues as well.  We had the better of them stats wise, twice as many shots on goal, twice as many on target, and while a Helgi Guðjónsson goal in the 26th minute gave us the lead, we were beat on a corner kick when Asano took a short pass, turned and fired it past Austin.

Our game against En Avant was the opposite of our previous match.  They owned us statistically, but our defense could not hold, and a Guðjónsson goal was equalized by a fine shot from Fernandez, and we ended up with a 1-1 draw.  With this match, we were officially out of a relegation battle.  We could still be relegated, but the wheels would have to fall off for that to happen.  

Monaco weren't runnin away with the top spot, PSG was close, but when we faced them this time around they hadn't lost a Ligue 1 game all season.  They had 25 shots on goal, with 12 on Target, but Austion and the defense managed to turn all but two aside.  Silva and Embolo both scored, and we lost 2-0.  We still have a ways to go to challenge them on a consistent basis.

In our Coupe de France Eleventh Round match, we almost threw it away.  15 shots on goal, only three on target.  Out lone goal came when a Guðjónsson shot ricocheted off Briancon into his own goal.  Luckily for us, Nimes was also not playing their "A" game, and we escaped with a 1-0 win.

We got back into our winning ways against SC Bastia,  with a brace of Guðmundsson goals giving us the 2-0 victory.  He was in fine form.

Against Olympique Marseilles, Tormin essentially said "Tout ce que vous pouvez faire", scoring a brace of goals.  OM thoroughly outclassed us in the Shots and On target stats, and while Ocampos scored the equalizer in the 58th minute, Tormins last goal, in the 89th minute no less, secured us the win.  It felt kind of good stealing a victory like that, I will admit that.

We faced Le HAC again.  And we won, again.  Tormin, Guðmundsson and Guðjónsson all had goals, and N'Guessaanas lone strike in the 83rd minute was to little, to late.  I suspect Phillipe Bizeul is more than a bit happy we aren't facing each other again this season.

Next up was Girondins in our Coup de France Quarterfinal game, and it was pretty fun to watch.  Guðmundsson got us off to a quick start with a nice goal in the 9th minute, but Khaled equalized for GDB 2 minutes later.  Souleymane Bah scored the first of his three goals in the 16th minute, but Niang equalized in the 24th minute.  Medeiros put GDB ahead in the 50th minute, and Bah equalized with his second goal at the 60th minute.  Gueye put GDB ahaed with a strike in the 74th minute, and Medeiros put his second goal away in the 82nd minute.  Bah scored his last goal in the 89th minute, and we were challenging in the box when the final whistle blew.  Ten more seconds and we would have tied.  Instead, we left as 5-4 losers in a very thrilling game.

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The season was winding down, and we were a top 10 team.  However, if we finished top 6 there was a good chance we would qualify for Europa League football, and I wanted to try and get back there.  Before our match with LOSC< Ettore MEndicino came and asked for some more first team soccer, and I said sure.  He responded by going out and getting 4 goals against LOSC< in the 46th, 73rd, 81st and 88th minute.  Tormin added another score in the 57th minute.  And that was after we entered half time on the wrong end of a 2-0 score.  The defense came out and really put the screws on LOSC, they had something like 5 shots on goal the rest of the match.  9 goals in two games isn't too bad now.

We almost reverted back to our earlier season form and threw the game against Angers away.  Mendicino scored, Guðmundsson scored, and Vutov knoked one home just before the half ended, giving us a 3-1 lead.  Then Idrissa N'Diaye got himself a second yellow and thrown out of the game.  Angers went full on offense, and ended the game with 26 shots, 11 on target, but with only a Joao Mario goal to show for their efforts, and we escaped with the 3-2 win.

Things were pretty even in out match against Racing Club, a lone Tormin goal in the 10th minute proved to be the winner.

Our game against GDB could have gone a lot worse.  Gonzales put them ahead with a nice shot in the 10th minute, and then my keeper John Austin broke his arm right before half time started, and I wasn't carrying a second keeper on the bench.  Amilcar Silva, who recently celebrated 100 games with the club, stepped in between the posts and did a credible job, not allowing a shot through.  But I was quite worried, because Austin was out with a broken Arm, and Sergey Chernik was also out with a slipped disc.  That left 17 year old 1 1/2 star potential Hamza Faris as my only option.  I had found a great young goalie, but his club wanted €18M for him, and with 2 games left we were in 6th place.  

Then I screwed things up by not pulling Faris from the U19 team, and he was ineligible to play for the senior squad when we faced FC Sochaux.  We ended up with a greyed out Regen as our keeper, and I decided to go on the attack.  The first half was a scoreless affair, but Mendicino, Guðmundsson, and Alegue goals in the second half gave us 3, while Mouaddib (Insert Dune joke here) and Lasme got FCSM back into the game, they could not put the equalizing goal across, and we left 3-2 winners.

OM was 2 points aheah of us going into the last game of the season.  They were playing Stade Rennais, we were facing OGC Nice.  I came out on the attack, and never let up. Guðmundsson scored a brace of goals in the 17th and 87th minute, Adli added a shot in the 65th minute, and Alegue put the game out of reach with a 72nd minute strike.  Sunu's 55th minute goal for OGC went to waste.

So, how did our new best friends in Ligue 1 do against OM?

They beat them, 3-1.

As a result of that, we finished 5th in Ligue 1:

uvxDVll.jpg

which led to:

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There was also some good and bad news at the same time.

First, the good news:

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17 wins, 9 draws and 2 losses in the Group 3 Under 19's.  Souleymane Bah was an absolute beast, with 31goals 7 assists, and 10 PO's and a 7.9 rating.  

However, the surprise of the U19 teams for me was Abdoulaye Diop, a 16 year old AM(L) who finished with 14 goals and 17 assists.

The flip side of this coin is that our Reserves Team is being relegated from the CFA-A League, having gone 3-9-17.  I didn't pay a lot of attention to the team, and it showed.  Next year I plan on keeping a closer eye on things.

Picked to finish 20th, we got very lucky and finished 5th. 

Next years salary and transfer budget is 325K per week and 5.66M.

I was able to get a couple of more scouts, one in Asia,  Youth Facility planning will be done 5 months.'

And I STILL don't have a new stadium.

Final wrap up of the season tomorrow.

Thanks for reading!'

Jellic73

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Posted (edited)

So, end of season player awards, from my perspective.

Hands down, player of the year was Guevin Tormin.  24 years old, 4 star guy, 4/12 star potential, will never be 'Elite", but will be 'Very, Very Good'.  45 Appearances, 16 goals, 19 Assists, 6 POM's and a 7.28 rating.

Unsung player of the Year:  Yacine Adli.  A 21 year old M(C), he was my Roaming Playmaker and Box to Box midfielder.  4 stars, 5 star potential,  41 Appearances, 4 goals, 2 Assists, 1 POM, he was our defensive stalwart in the midfield.  

Rookie of the Year:  Helgi Guðjónsson.  The Icelandic striker was very good in his first season as a starter.  3 1/2 stars now, 4 Star potential, in 38 games he had 21 goals, 3 assists, and 3 POM's.

The Into the Frying Pan Award Winner:  John Austin.  Ibrahima Sy left, and Seidu Boakye was already out with a torn achilles.  Sergey Chernik stepped in, and then fell down with a herniated disc.  The young Aussie, 3 stars now, 5 star potential, was very capable, with 17 goals allowed in 14 games, 3 shutouts, and a 6.85 rating.  This year he participated in Ligue 1q, Coupe de France, CFA-A, the French nder 19's group, the under 19's cup, and the Italian Youth Invitational.  I think next year will be a showdown between him and Boakye, and at the moment he's in front.

Player to keep an eye on:  Zeca Gomes.  The 16 year old D(L) started 2 games and came off the bench for three, and went up a half star.  He'll be part of the regular rotation next season.  After the first few offers I had for him. I put a €10M asking price on him.  then I gave him a very nice contract with a 2 year optional extension.

Worst move of the year:  Marc Wachs.  MY Scouts failed me on this one.  He was supposed to have a decent amount of potential, and I wanted him to primarily be a backup and tutor.  He started 3 games, came off the bench for three games, and his 2 star ability keeps glaring at me.  He's here for another year, and he'll spend it tutoring in the reserves.

The squad character/makeup is also very strong:

5j51rVq.jpg

 

So, you may ask, how is Thierry doing?

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Pretty good.  I'm studying for my continental A License.  I turned down a ton of interviews in the January transfer window, including Roma, FC Koln, and a few other 1st division clubs in Spain, Portugal and Italy.  Oh, and there was also this:

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For a 35 year old French/Ivorian, who already supposedly speaks French, I guess this is another feather in my cap...

So, next year, a lot of people moving out.  €5M Transfer budget.

And still no stadium...

Thanks for reading!

Jellico73

Edited by Jellico73

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Cancel the fire pit, take the cow back to the farmer, its sacrifice is no longer required!

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We're renting next season too.

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Commercial numbers were down some, but I think most of that is attributable to our Europa League showing last year.

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But we finally got our stadium!!!!

 

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On 3/8/2017 at 10:59, Velodromè said:

Congratulations on the new stadium, really about time. 

Thanks.  You weren't the only one thinking it was about time.

 

Thanks for reading!

Jellico73

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"Against All Odds - Les Bleus et Blancs"

USL_Dunkerque.jpg.8119c9623f097fa8fdd99b9b691d573e.jpg

 

Season 7 is underway in Dunkerque.  The new stadium is being built, we are in the Europa League for the second year in a row, and my roster has ballooned to a size where Gérard Depardieu's nose is tiny by comparison.  I can't help it, it's an affliction, my scouts find all these great players on free and then I sign them....

But first, a few screenshots.

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The club took out a loan to build the new stadium, and also got a sponsorship deal to defray the cost, so looking at this you would think were in at least decent financial condition.  That's screenshot is from the 5th of June.

 

A couple of weeks later:

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Les Bleus are on TV a lot.  And why shouldn't we be?  We're a small town team with Big League aspirations, having played our way to Ligue 1 with a shoestring budget, shaky finances.  We've done well in the Coupe de France and Coupe De Ligue, and we've clawed our way into the Europa League twice now.  Last Season we played 45 games (that counted) across Ligue 1, Coupe de France, Coupe De Ligue, 40 of them were televised.  OK, maybe they weren't tuning in to see us play against PSG, but we were on TV!  Our finances are 'OKAY', which after four years of running out of Apostles to mug is a good thing.  And yet we got this in July:

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I didn't notice that at first, because at the end of may there was this:

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"Sucez-le, Remi!"  I say.

And while all that was going on I did this too:

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Yes, I'm doing a little bragging.  I hurt my shoulder trying to pat myself on the back.  Oh, and I also got another message saying I am fluent in French.  Go figure.

So, first up, Europa League Third Qualifying Round:

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Looks like this years path is going to be a little harder than the last time we were in the League...

Next up, transfers.

Want to know when I realized I had a large roster?  One that may be a bit unwieldy?  I have brought in 7 players.  13 players left on Free's.  5 Players I sold.  And I have 13(!) players out on loan.  Because I couldn't get them all consistent starting time here.  I suspect this offseason may be a bit brutal.  But, on the plus side, I have a full U19 roster, and they have been very good the past two seasons.  My Reserve team was relegated out of the league and as a result I am back to scheduling games for them, but most of my older players and tutors are on the Reserves, and I have 26 players in my First team.  I might need help...

Anyhow, here's the transfer list:

tXKEWgI.jpg

So, I think when you see some of the players I brought in, and who I have on the roster, you will agree with me:

I have an addiction, to Attacking Midfielder's.

 

Pierre Lucas.  Attacking Midfielder.  19 years old, 2 * now, 4 * potential.  I was going to put him on the U19 squad, but a day after he got here GF 38 said "We want him on loan, he'll be a first team player, and you don't have to pay anything!"  So out he went.

Arnaud Mwendy.  24 yeard old D(C) who also plays DM and M, 2 1/2 * Ability, 4 * potential.  Organizational depth guy, he might not be here past next year, but on a Free?  If He goes to a League 2 or CNF team for any amount of money it is alright by me.  

Domingos Quina.  22 year old AM(C) who can also play either wing and midfielder.  3 1/2 * current Ability, 4 1/2 * potential.  On a Free.

Craig Evans. 22 year old Welshman, 2 1/2 * current, 4 1/2 * potential.  Souleymane Bah isn't a bad young striker.  He's 2 years younger than Evans, but Evans is better in all the Technical categories save marking, better in most of the Mental, and Bah has him beat in the Physicals, but not by much.  Look for yourself.  Also considering my backup striker at the moment is 31 year old Ettore Mendicino, who skills are rapidly falling, I needed a capable young backup.  Bah was good, Evans was better IMO.

Florian Esdorf.  27 year old German Defenseman.  Organizational Depth and tutor, Reserve player at best.  I have a lot of young defensemen, and needed a tutor who could fill in if I needed him too.  Esdorf fit the bill perfectly.  He'll never be more than 2 1/2 *'s, but he doesn't need to be better than that.

Johnathon Fernandez.  19 year old Aussie Striker.  1 1/2 * current, 4 star potential.  Natural Defensive forward, and if in three years he's at least 3 *, he'll be in the rotation at a minimum.

Last, but not least, Henrique Camara.  He came in for €550K, going to 650K if he plays "X" amount" of games, I think it was 30.  He's going to play "X" amount of games.  Natural AM(C) who can also play M, he was on the Porto transfer list for like €350K.  I bid what I did because I thought he was undervalued.  I was right, because after the transfer fee was agreed, something like seven other teams jumped in with 325K, 350K and 425K bids.  But he's at Dunkerque now, and eight games into the season he's worth 3.8 million   3 1/2 * current Ability, 4 1/2 * potential, he's better than Quina across the board in most everything except Fitness, Pace and Versatility.  Quina can play all 3 AM positions, as a result he's my first sub for all of them, and will see regular playing time.

Now, there might be a few of you out there saying "What about Marinó Þór Guðmundsson?  You were training him to be an AM(C) because Kostolansky is going to be your star AM (R).

Yeah...Custer had a plan too....:

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Second Ligue 1 game of the season.

Anyhow, on the outs:

Soulemayne Bah, Marco Balsan, Jesus Hernandez, Yanis Guillet, Pierre Lucas, Jannik Ginzek, Antonis Kravaritis, MArtin Otocka, Malik Tchokounte, Chardonie Lokando, Raouf Bouali, Joseph Colley, and Idrissa N'Diaye are all out on loan.  Many of them are playing their last season for Les Bleus, but keep that quiet, they don't know it yet.

Serge Koussai. Pape Serigne, Dimitri Lamourette, Virgile Hubert, Emeka Musa, Axel Riou, Rudy Dumont...I don't recognize half these names, which tells me they were youth players who were never going to make it on the team if we were still a CNF team.  

Jason M'Bock, Laurent Abergel, Alexis Alegue, Corentin Hamon, Qunetin Duchimin, Said Belahouel, all were players who saw some time.  Alegue was nominally my starting AM (C), but his contract was up and I wasn't going to give him first team money to be a backup.

Benrandy Abdallah was a D(R) who wanted to be a winger and wasn't going to be better than 3 *, Stade Lavallois picked him up for 50K.

Giuseppe Di Francesco is a 5'6" DM who was going to be a 3rd string backup, Piacenza came in for 200K, I got them to 300K.  

Kouadio Yves Dabila is a solid Ligue 2 D(C) and a sub par Ligue 1 player.  I have better, younger players on the bench who need playing time, and he was getting a sizeable salary.  Avranches came in for 300k, I got them to 450K, but I am paying half his salary.

Amilcar Silva...I had great hopes for him.  I wanted him to be a great player, turns out he was merely good.  Which wouldn't be so bad, except like I said, I have younger D(C)'s who need playing time.   Nimes Olympique wanted him on loan, but kept delaying the transfer, and after the 4th time they delayed it I said "Enough!" and made a private transfer offer to them for him.  At least I thought I did.  Instead of sending it to Nimes I sent it to everybody.  I put him out on market for 1.5, which was high, Chamois Niortais came in for just under a million, but I got them to 1.3M after agreeing to pay a part of his salary.

Faitout Maouassa was one of the clubs better players, 4 * current, 4* potential, could play the left side of the field.  But he was a Yellow Card Machine, averaging one every other match.  And with Zeca Gomes improving by leaps and bounds, and also costing a lot less, I was thinking about moving him.  Then Bologna made an unsolicited offer for him, 1.2M initial fee, 550K over 12 months, 450K after 50 appearences, 20% of profit from next sale, and I said no, because I wanted to play him more this season as a backup to Gomes (whose also a bit of a Yellow Card Machine).  The team meeting I had as a result of saying no was 3/4 of my squad protesting that I wasn't letting him move on.  And you know the size of my squad now, it's gone from rowdy rabble to 'Angry Mob' size.  So I put him on the market with the same terms as Bologna offered, and no takers.  He ended hoing up to Racing Club De Lens in Ligue 2 with aboiut 30 minutes left in the transfer window.  And I'm paying 3/4 of his salary.  Thierry Davout n'est pas un campeur heureux. over this.  In fact, my who squad has become quite chippy lately.  I am not sure why.

So, thats the preseason.  Mostly.  The friendlies went pretty good:

IVgBq4g.jpg

Because of the Europa League Games I couldn't do the Calais Cup again, but I made some nice money, and the 4-0 win over Southhampton, who are a midtable Premier League team, got a lot of press, Claude Puel was very complimentary.

So, Europa League Third Round Qualifying against Rangers.  Runners up in the Ladbrokes League 4 of the last 5 years to Celtic, they won it in 2019/2020.  Solid squad.

We played Away first, and only took 146 fans.  I'm thinking a tour next preseason could help with that.

I was hoping for a close game.  And I got one.

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I let Amilcar Silva go because I wanted to get Jop Poot playing time.  Leonardo Fontanesi tutored him last season and they got on fantastically, so this seaon they are my D(C)'s.  Guille Andres put Rangers on the board in the 41st minute, a nice goal off a long assist that sailed over the Dline.  Poot redirected an Adli blast of a corner kick, without doing that it would have gone wide, and we left with a 1-1 tie.

Next game was at our rented stadium, with 5700 home fans out of the 7600 attending.  For those of you keeping track that's 1500 more than our old stadium could hold, but I'm not bitter.

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We won, by the skin of our teeth as it were.  Yacine Adli took a Tormin pass just outside the six yard box and slipped it past a diving Ögmundur Kristinsson, and we won 2-1 on aggregate.  The defense was solid this game, but it wasn't supposed to be like this.  Keep reading.  

Next up?

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Well, it wasn't supposed to be AEK.  Originally it was FK Aktobe, from the Kazakstan Premier League.  However, unbeknownst to me my dog had walked under my desk.  Now, George is a half Pyreness half-Komondor mix who's a year old, 110 pounds and still growing, and walking under my desk is faster than going around the couch it's next to, except this time he caught the power cord right and unplugged my laptop, and I was so involved in my game and spreadsheets I didn't see the cord had become unplugged..  And 30 seconds after I got my draw my laptop shut off because it was out of power, and I had the notifications turned off.  My last save was the second Rangers game, which I played through again with the above result.  Which I will admit is slightly annoying, because we won 4-1 the first time. But a win is a win, and we advanced.

Ligue 1 started next.  First up, FC Nantes and head coach Remi Garde.  Who is still talking smack about me and my boys.  I tried being nice pregame...but after the game he was still very dismissive of us.  He was probaly mad he couldn't do more than muster a 1-1 draw.  Nantes had 11 shots, 3 on goal, we had 9 shots, 6 on goal.  Evandro put them ahead with a great shot in the 29th minute, but Kostolansky equalized in the 87th minute, when Nantes GK Prevot deflected a Tormin shot right to him, and he had almost all of the net open.  

So, next up was AEK, the Greek Superleague team.  We opened the leg at our rented home stadium in front of 5700 local fans and 200 visitors.  That's 1500 more fans than our old stadium could hold.  But I swear I am not bitter.

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We won, but we probably shouldn't have. 

Adli got us going in the 8th minute, on a good second effort.  Tormin added a PK goal in the 68th minute, and then Milos Degenek was sent off after getting a second yellow in less than four minutes.  I took the AM(C) off, brought in Wachs to play D(L), broguht the wingers back to Midfield, and played defensively.  It worked until the 92nd minute, when Santos volleyed in a nice cross just before time expired.  So we were off to Agia Sofia for our other match, but first, we played Paris Saint Germain, our second game of the Ligue 1 season.

This was a home game for us, in our rented stadium.  17500 fans came to watch us play, 2500 of whom were away fans.  For those counting that 15000 home fans, which is 10800 more than our old stadium could hold.  Yes, I AM Effing bitter about that.  We set new attendance and gate receipts records with this game.  We're only three years behind schedule on this, but somehow I became fluent in French for a THIRD TIME in the same time frame.....Who wouldn't be bitter?  The home fans got a treat though:  A 0-0 draw.  

I will admit, I was so proud of the boys after this match I wasn't all that upset when I saw how long Kostolansky was going to be out.  John Austin, my 19 year old keeper, had a great game, with a 7.5 rating and getting POM.  PSG had 10 shots, 3 on target, and we only had 4 shots, 1 on target, and PSG had the 57/43 advantage.  They brought in €99 M in transfer this season, including this guy for 64M (which could turn into 95M).  And thats after they brought in 162M last year, and 116M the year before that.  I was expecting to get thumped, or at least completely dominated in the stats, but I will definitely take this result, every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

Our second game against AEK was next, and I was afraid of a big letdown after the PSG non loss.  I shouldn't have worried:

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Seba scored a nice goal in the 61st minute, but 12 minutes later Tormin took a Guðmundsson back post cross and buried it, And we won 3-2 on aggregate.

So, high on our laurel we went back to France, to play AS Monaco.  I will say, whomever did they scheduling needs to be shot.  We played 3 Ligue 1 games and our playoff games in 14 days.  I'm surprised Jan was the only serious injury...

Monaco did to us what I thought PSG was going to do to us, winning 2-0 after shooting the ball 27 times, 9 of which were on target.  Embolo had yet another goal against us, and Fabinho added a PK in the 85th minute.  But who cares, were in the Group Stages of the Europa League!

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Well...merde.

Braga was 4th in Liga NOS last season.  Fotbal Club Steaua Bucureşti has been 1st place winner of Liga 1 since 2012, except in 2015, when they were second.  And Lech Poznan has been First or second place for most of the past decade in Lottoe Ekstraklasa.

But hey, my last Europa League Group was pretty easy, this one could be too.  (That is the scotch talking....)

We end this post with our match against Stade Rennais FC, playing in front of 8000 home fans in our rented stadium....checking....yes...still bitter.

My beserkir Viking duo got us off to a quick start,  Guðmundsson scoring in the 9th minute, Guðjónsson in the 11th minute.  Jad Mouaddib (the mouse that jumps I bet), put Les Rouges back in reach for all of a minute, because Tormin sent one home in the 79th minute, and we left the home crowd happy.

So, it's still early days in Ligue 1.  Europa League Group games are getting ready to start, my stadium is being built, my youth facilities are being upgraded, I'm getting a 3rd affiliate (13 players on loan...)

Against All Odds, the prognosticators picked us to finish last and get relegated.  Will they ever learn?

Thanks for reading and following!

Jellico73

 

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Posted (edited)

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Because I cannot insert images via url at the moment.

 

Sorry.

 

Jellico73

 

Edited by Jellico73

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Well, looks like it could be awhile before inserting URL'S is an option again, so I'll just have to post the link directly into here.

Sorry about that.

 

"Against All Odds - Les Bleus et Blancs"

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I will be absolutely honest here:

I have not the slightest idea what I am doing a lot of the time in this save.  Season 7 is no different, and could well be a pivotal year for us.  We were off to a good start in both the Europa League 1, but PSG and Monaco are going to run away with the league until more teams can reach their spending.  This season PSG spent almost 175M on transfers.  My budget was just under 8 I think.   But I am looking for a top 5 finish, because the Europa league money is nice.  It has to be a top 5 finish or winning the Coupe de la Ligue.  It's doable, but its tough going.

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Lech Poznan looked to be a tough match, and it was a pretty even game. Helgi Guðjónsson scored in the 29th minute, and our defense was pretty stout.  Wozniak took a cross of the throw in and buried it in the 89th minute, drawing the game.  I was more than a bit miffed, we had the win in the bag, and bottled it.  Not losing isn't a bad thing, but it's better than not winning.

LOSC started the game on overload i think, they were pressing and attacking from the first kickoff to the end.  23 shots on goal. 6 on target, and it netted them 1 score, a Fernandez goal in the 74th minute.  Les Bleus had 5 shot, and after a Lima OG, Guðjónsson scored in the 60th minute and Camara put it away in the 80th.

Montpelier tried the same tactic, with similar results.  They had 14 shots on goal, 5 on target, we had 6 shots on goal, 5 on target.  Guðjónsson scored again (he's had a fine season so far) and Adli added another goal in the 46th minute, and we won again.

The game against OM left me puzzled.  Semedo scored in the 1st minute, and the D'urso was double yellowed in less than two minutes.  We were a man up and equalized in the 64th minute, but then our youn D(L) Zeca Gomes was sent off in the 67th minute after his second yellow, and the game ended in a 1-1 draw.  Stats were very even.  OM is a pretty good team, they are usually in the top 5.  Either they were off their game and we were on our game, or we starting to hang with the big clubs a little better.  I'm trying not to get too overconfident though.  But 0-0 against PSG and a draw against OM?  Kinda hard not to.

Next us was another Group J opponent, Steaua Bucureşti.  I was hoping the boys could hold on for the draw, and maybe score a goal or two.  Instead, they went and scored 5 goals, and kept the Romanians out of the net.  Camara had a goal, Fontanesi had a goal, and Guðjónsson had a Hat Tricks worth.  Are results like this supposed to happen?  Either way, I'll certainly take it.

The high of beating FC Steaua Bucureşti didn't last long.  We came out flat against FC Sochaux, and after a Rescaldani goal in the 24th minute, we could not get anything going.  A lousy two shots on goal, and 5 yellow cards for our troubles.  but we played in front of 9000 home fans...

The game against En Avant was an excercise in excitement and frustration.  Guðjónsson got things going in the 9th minute, and Ikoko added an own goal in the 13th minute, giving us a 2-0 lead at the half.  Boye scored for Avant in the 53rd minute, and Camara put us ahead by one in the 57th.  Then Milos Degenek, who  been a very good starter for us, was sent off for a straight red in th 80th minute.  Then Jop Poot, whom Degenek mentored quite successfully, was sent off after getting a second yellow for arguing with the ref over the Degenek call.  Two men down, and Avant took the reins off.  The next ten minutes saw La Costamoricans shoot eight times in as many minutes, but John Austin was solid, and while Melous brought Avant to within 1, it was too little too late.

Next was another Group J game, this time against Braga, from the Portuguese Liga NOS.  They tried running us into the ground, but Guðjónsson would not be denied.  I am not sure why, but he seems to love playing in the big games, despite the fact he's supposedly uncomfortable in big matches.  A Hat Tricks worth of goals (again) in less than six minutes tells me otherwise.  Knockaert, Podence and Laercia all had goals for Braga, and Laercio missed a PK in the 2nd minute as well.  We were lucky to escape with a draw I think.

Our game at Havre Athletic should have been a draw, but a defensive mistake let Craig Evans, who is Guðjónsson's primary backup, score in the 40th minute.  After that goal, Havre never really tried to score, and we were happy to sit on out side of the pitch and run the game out.

Olympique Lyonnais beat us like the proverbial red headed step child.  22 shots on goal, 12 on target.  Verganio and Duarte scored a single goal a piece, but there could have been more scoring.  I think L'OL were happy with the win.

I was expecting another tough game against Braga, and while the stats were similar, the result most decidedly was not.  Fontanesi scored in the 6th minute, Guðjónsson in the 32nd, and Camara in the 33rd gave us a 3-0 at the half.  And Braga never really tried to score in the second half, and the home crowd of 13000 got to see a well played 3-0 win.

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I played a pretty rotated side against OGC Nice, and for awhile it looked like we were doing well.  Mendicino scored in the 1st minute, and Gobitaka put us ahead by 1 after Aimati had equalized for Nice.  But, old patterns reared their ugly head again, and Oyarzun equalized in the 90th minute right before the game expired.  To say I was mad is true.  And possibly an understatement.

Against Toulouse we were superior in every way, except in goal scoring.  We were better at own goals, which is not something to be better at.  His mistake was the only score of the game, and we left Toulouse on the wrong side of a 1-0.  However, that did not stop the board from letting me start studying for my Continental Pro License.

After snatching a draw from the jaws of victory, and handing our next opponent a victory, I was looking for a draw against Lech.  They boys responded by going out and scoring six, while conceding none.  Kostolansky, Gomes, Gobitaka and Mendicino each scored, and Guðjónsson had a brace.  Lech had 6 shot the entire game, and none of them were close to being goals.

FC Lorient brought us back to earth three days later.  Despite bossing them in the stats, we lost 1-0 on a Bertaccini goal.  I had two shots bounce of the woodwork in as many minutes right before the game ended, one of which i was sure had gone it, but it wasnt to be.

Our match against Angers was a snooze fest.  There were no highlight in the first half, and the only second half highlight was the kickoff.  but with a minute left Camara sent a nice cross over to Quina, who buried it.  I will admit, it felt kind of of nice snatching a late win like that.  

Our game against Stade Brestois was a pretty exciting back and forth.  There were a lot of highlights, and most ended up as great saves by either keeper.  Kostolansky put us ahead with a nice shot in the 40th minute, and Niasse equalized for Stade in the 70th minute.  Then, in the 76th minute Jop Poot took a deflected Guðjónsson pass and blasted it past the keeper, giving us a 2-1 win.

A chastened Steaua Bucureşti came to play this time.  We had already secured a spot going forward, I think if Steaua Bucureşti beat us, they would have moved past Braga for the second spot.  Boldrin put them ahead in the 27th minute, but Kostolansky equalized a few minutes later.  Camara's goal in the 64th minute gave us the lead, but had a rectal cranial infarction and decided to ignore Austins calling for the ball on a misplayed Steaua cross, and instead of kicking it away kiced it into the goal, which tied the game.  And that's how it ended, in a 2-2 draw.  Because they didn't win Braga and I moved on to the First Knockout Round.  Thats as afar as we got last time, and I was quite happy when we we able to move on again.

AJ Auxerre played us close all game, there were a lot of highlights that ended in not a lot of anything happening.  Aouars goal for L'A.J.A in the 56ht minute was the only goal scored. 

Our Coupe de La Ligue Fourth Round match was next, and we were playing Angers again.  This time around I made an effort to pay a little bit more attention to what the assistant was saying, and checked out the ProZone results a lot more than I usually do.  As a result I was able to mark and stop their primary scoring threats.  My Icelandic duo were on top of things again, each scoring a goal.  I'm going to have a difficult decision next offseasonb about Marino, my addiction to Attacking Mids has left me with too many...

AS Saint Etienne has fallen on some financial hard times the past couple of years, but they still have a quality squad.  For 83 minutes we matched them well, holding them to just a few shots on goal.  The Gamboa streaked in off the corner kick and nudged a header past Austin, giving Les Verts the 1-0 win.

We went to PSG, and I was expecting to be outclassed in every area.  They are spending money like its no big deal, and I'm pretty sure their 3rd string players are as good as my first teamers.  26 shots on goal, 14 on target, and yet they only managed to score once, a Coutinho goal that squeaked past a diving Austin.  I'm not sure there is such a thing as a good loss, but this certainly felt like one.

After the PSG game there was this bit of news:

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Wenger was the French National Team coach, and he did very well.  This was a surprise to me, I will admit.  But its nice to be recognized.

I also found out who my Europa League Knockout Round opponent was going to be:  Dynamo Kyiv.  

I wasn't all that busy in the January Transfer window, in terms of moves, but there were a couple of outs, including a very big one.

First out was Antonio Vutov.  The Bulgarian AM(C) was a great Ligue 2 player for me,. and while he had flashes of competence in Ligue 1, he just wasn't good enough, and wasn;t getting a lot of playing time.  He asked to leave, and I said sure.  He went to Vicenza for 185K.

The Big out was Yacine Adli.  Somehow, some way, I promised him I would improve the attacking part of the squad.  I don't remeber doing this, because I always take those silly guarentees off a contract negotiation, as the only thing more broken than them is Venezuelas economy.  January rolls around, and his attitude nose dives.  He complains to the press, and the team is getting agitated as a result.  Yes, he's a 4 star player, and yes he's the Roaming playmaker linchpin in my 4-2-3-1 Asymmetric, but I won't have a cancer on my team, even if his name were Lionel Messi.  I put him on the market, and TSV 1860 Munchen was beating my door down the next day.  A day later we had agreed to a 7.5M contract (going to 8M after 30 games played), and Adli was gone.  Yes, he will be missed, but not by me.

I picked up Lee Sweeney, a young Australian Striker my scouts found at the FFA COE.  4/5 star potential, good finishing and dribbling, not the fastest but still quick.  I'm debating making him an AM(C), he's got the skills for it...

Glenn Claes I bought from Grasshoppers.  He's 29 years old, only 3 stars, but he can play every position on the left very well, and I needed someone to help tutor.  For 750K, going to 1M if he plays in 30 games, I may have overpaid for him, but he's been a nice backup.

Joshua Seasoc came in right after the transfer window closed.  I had him on trial, and once I saw how good he was, I signed him.  However, at this point not only would he put me above the number of Non EU players I could have registered for the squad, He missed the registration window altogether.  He spent the rest of the season on the Reserve Squad,  3 1/2 start now, 4 star potential.  I got him on a free, now he's worth 7.5 million (?).  I can work with that.  He's my replacement next season for Adli.

I wanted to get the new year kicked off right, and against Stade Malherbe Caen in our Coupe de France Ninth Round Match, we almost blew it.  Fontanesi, whose become a rock solid defender, had a goal, and Guðjónsson's shot in the 54th minute put us up 2-0. 0, then a Morales OG gave us the 3-0 lead.  Benoit got one back for Les Malherbistes in the 64th minute, and Diagne got them within one with a nice shot in the 81st minute.  The rest of the game was me hoping my guys could hold the line, and they did.  Barely.

Next up was our Coupe De Ligue Quarter Final match against Olympique Lyonnais.  Guevin Tormin got us off to a good start with a fine goal in the 4th minute, but the Alessandro Vergani decided he had enough of us, and proceeded to score a Hat Tricks worth of goals in the 16th, 30th, and 37th minute.  Delhy got us back within a goal in the 74th minute, but them my defense fell back to earth, giving up two goals in three minutes to Yarmolenko and Saini, and we lost 5-2.  I believe this was the most goals I gave up all season.  I said pre season I'd get Les Bleus to the Quarter Finals, and I did.  A bit sad we aren't continuing on, but theres still Europa League.  Against Dynamo Kyiv.  

I've been turning down a lot of jobs as well, lately it seems any team in a countries first division has come asking if I want to interview.  I say no, and the fans are happy, the board is happy, which helps out especially when I ask for a new training facility.  Which the board agreed to, so for the nice sum of 2.1M euros we're getting upgraded.  New Stadium, new Youth Facilities, new Training Facilities?  Maybe I have arrived after all?

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Monaco came in top of the table, fighting with PSG for the lead spot.  Usually they boss us, and stats wise they did again, 29 shots, 11 on target, but we had a 55/45 p[possession advantage.  And of our 3 (!) shot, all were on target.  And two of them, Guðjónsson's in the 38th minute and Tormins in the 75th, were enough to secure us a win.  Romero scored for Monaco in the 77th minute, but it was too little, too late.

Against Girondins we scored two goals in 16 minutes, Tormin and Guðjónsson doing the honors.  Les Girondins had equalized by the 24th minute, Kace and Niang scoring.  I was expecting a shootout.  The rest of the game was a bore, very few highlights, a couple of nice saves by both teams goalies, but we ended up with the 2-2 draw.

Stade Rennais had us beaten statistically, but until Lucas Andersens goal in the 63rd minute tied the game, Kostolanksy's 32ns minute strike was the only highlight.  Another disappointing draw, these are teams we can (and should) be beating IMO.  How we can do well against good teams in the Europa League, and hold out own against the upper tier of Ligue 1, but constantly trip over our shoelaces when facing these teams that are lower table is just....frustrating.

LOSC came to town, and our friendly local rivals had decided "To heck with these draws and single point wins, we're going to win with style.:  They came out attacking, we came out on the counter.  Camara scored for us in the 14th minute, they equalized a minute late on a Pedrinho score.  Tormin added a goal in the 38th minute, and Guðjónsson scored in the 62nd minute.  A Tormin PK put les Bleus up by 3, which was a good thing, becuase Cesar Cano sent home two shots in the 67th and 78th minute.  I was having so much fun watching the highlights I forgot to make a substitution.

Helgo Guðjónsson does not feel comfortable in big matches.  This is a lie, because he's done very well in the Europa, Ligue de France and Coupe de France games.  Our Tenth Round MAtch against FC Lorient was no exception, he had a Hat Tricks worth of goals, and our defense shut down Les Merlus attack, allowing just 5 shots on goal.  The lowest rating on my team for this game was a 7.1.  My Defensive line averaged a 7.75 this game.  

Montpellier HSC was going to get relegated.  All season long they had hovered near the bottom on the table, and we were coming of a good win and a solid defensive performance.  So, of course we lost.  And that's with them being a man down after the 24th minute!  Ninga and Fuchs scored in the 18th and 20th minute, Kim Jun-Su was yellow carded in the 23rd and 24th minutes for two different fouls on Kostolansky, and even a man down they held us to a 59th minute Guðjónsson goal.  Even a right bollocking at the half wasn't enough to turn it around.  

After that match I was expecting OM to come in and just pound us, instead my defense remembered they could play big boy football and held L'OM to a bunch of shots that were nowhere near the target.  A Kostolansky goal in the 19th minute was all we needed for the win.

Then there was this bit of news:

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Before the season started he announced this would be his last.  I wanted him to retire as a member of Les Bleus.  Without his performances we would have never got to Ligue 1, let alone contend for promotion out of Ligue 2.  It was very obvious once we got to Ligue 1 he just didn't have what it took, and while he was a capable tutor, he wanted playing time.  I wasn't going to release him, so I loaned him out.  in 2021 he had 16 appearances and 5 goals .  This year, in Roeselare, he had 20 appearances and 10 goals before this injury.  I had planned on giving him a testimonial game right after the season ended, I am pretty sure LOSC would have agreed to it, but instead, he retired quietly, after 338 appearances and 131 career goals.  He still holds quite a few scoring records.  He will definitely get a statue in front of the new stadium.

If I said our 0-0 draw against Sochaux was a hard fought battle, I'd be lying.  We were just not into it, 5 shots on goal, 3 on target.  FCSM had 17/8.  Only some heroic saves by Boakye (Because Austin was on six weeks of international duty) and some spectacular tackles by Tomori allowed us to eke out the draw.  This did not bode well for our trip to Kiev.

I was hoping we could hold our own against them, and spent the entire game on counter.  We had 9 shots on goal, none of them on tagregt.  Kyiv had 15 shots, but only 3 on target.  John Austin was back from Intenrational Duty and had a good game, nearly saving the Nkoulou header that was the games only score.  If we could get a goal at home and hold them, it could be interesting.

We played En avant three days later, and I played a pretty rotated squad.  I was hoping for a draw at best, and the game was 0-0 until the 71st minute, when Ongenda scored.  However, 4 minutes later took a Guðmundsson cross and buried it, giving us the tie.

Next us was our home game against Dynamo Kyiv.  I just wanted a good showing.  I think this counts:

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Holy merde, we're in the Second knockout round!

Of course, after that high, we got to Havre, run them from box to box with 17 shots, 9 on target, and leave with a 0-0 draw.  I should learn to expect this result by now.

We were a tired bunch a couple of days later, when Girondins came to town for the Coup de France Eleventh round match, and it showed early.  Niang socred in the 5th minute, and Blondel-Canu scored in the 6th minute, putting us 2-0.  Then they sat back and played keep away most of the rest of the game.  Tormin scored a goal in the 51st minute, but we could not make the most of the rest of our opportunities, and we lost 2-1.  I told the board we'd make it to the quarterfinals.  Luckily winning like I am in the Europa has let that one claim slide by for now.

Second Knockout Round Draw:

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Actually, this isn't all that bad.  Sevilla is midtable in La Liga this year, the only weaker teams in the draw might be Malaga or Palermo.  But this is a winnable series.

Thanks for reading and following, the rest of Season 7 will come soon!

Against All Odds, we're doing well in Europe.

Jellico73

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"Against All Odds - Les Bleus et Blancs"

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We're in the home stretch.  We're tired, we're fighting a lot of niggling injuries, and were in 8th place.  normally I would be elated with this, but this Europa League Run I am on has been thrilling, and admittedly, the prize money is good too.  The trickle down efeects in terms of revenue and club reputation are also very good, and I want to try and qualify again.  One way to do that is win the Coupe de la Ligue tournament, which isn't going to happen this year.  The other way is to get to at least fifth place, and I am in a dogfight for that, with OM, Girondins and Saint-Etienne all vying for that.

First up however, was our Europa League Second Round Knockout match, against Seviilla.  Helgi Guðjónsson's run of goal scoring in these sorts of games came to a crashing halt.  Sevilla played a 4-2-3-1 Wide that gave my front men fits, and Los Nervionenses striker Ben-Hur rifled a shot at the top of the box past a diving Austin in the 24th minute to give them the league.  Luckily for us, supersub AM Domingos Quina took things in hand, first with a shot in the 75th minute that went far post, and then in the 88th minute he took a Magry pass and volleyed it by the keeper.   Two minutes later, and we left Sevilla with a win and a +2 goal differential.

Off the high of that gamne we went to Nice, and beat OGC Nice 2-1.  Helgi Guðjónsson was either embarrassed by his last showing against Sevilla, or just had an off day, because he scored a brace of goals, the first a header off a very nice cross from Zeca Gomes, our young superstar in the making D(L) who now has the likes of Conte and Klopp watching him from the stands, and the second goal an off leg volley made on the run, a Tomori cross setting up the play.  Di Francesco put one baqck for Nice in the 69th minute, but it wasn't enough.

Sevilla came to town for the second leg of our round, and I knew they would be attacking.  I played on the counter all game, relying on my defense and hoping the boys weren't too tired from their recent run of games.  Camara put us on board with a 26th minute goal, a cross from Magry that he jumped in front of Guðjónsson to bury in the back of the net.  I had two defensive lapses that led to Sevilla goals, in the 42nd minute Milik scored, and Pizzi's shot in the 66th minute put them ahead of us 2-1, and now we were tied 3-3 overall.  To make things matter just a little worse. John Austin, my young goalie who has become a very good man between the posts, had been injurerd in the first Sevilla game, and now Boakye was between the sticks.  He's also young, and I suspect if he got some regular playing time he could be almost as good as Austin.  He was solid in extra time, turning away three shots.  Then came the penalty kicks.  Tormin, my best PK man, missed wide, and Milik scored for Sevilla.  Camara hit his shot right at the Sevilla keeper, and I was for sure in the "I'm going to get FM'd here" mood, especially when Llorente shot did the same thing. Guðjónsson hit his shot, Duarte hit his shot for Sevilla, Kostolansky hit his shot, and the Boakye dove the same way Ben-Hur went, and blocked it.  Loic Bessile missed his shot, bouncing it off the woodwork, but then Boakye blocked Kristensens shot, and a few seconds later, Jacques Schall sent his shot past a diving Sevilla keeper, and sent us to the Europa League Quarter Final.

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High off that victory, three days later went went and beat Toulouse FC, Gomes, Tormin and Amoaka each getting goals, while Macias was responsible for the Toulouse shot.  

Minor Side note here:  Sevilla fired its head coach after this match.  They asked if I would interview for the job a few weeks later...

Now, for some reason we had 20 days until our next match.from 3/19 to 4/8 we didn't have anything going on.  The only reason I bring up this break is because from 1/7/2023 to 3/19/2023, a period of 72 days, we played 20 games across all competitions.  That's a fixture every 3.6 days.  Madness.  Sheer madness.  Looking back I'm more than a bit surprised I didn't have any more serious injuries through wear and tear and the like.  

We found out who our Quarter Final opponent was going to be;  RB Leipzig.  And we also found out we were the last French team standing in the Europa League.  No pressure there, right?  Palermo had also made it through to the Quarters, and I was hoping I would get them, but alas....

We had to go to FC Lorient first, and I suspect the boys were looking a game ahead, because they beat us pretty soundly.  Two goals from Ikone and Quintero in less than four minutes gave them a 2-0 lead, and Tomrins goal in the 47th minute was not enough, and we lost 2-1.  

Against Leipzig..well, they were just a little bit faster, a little bit more precise with their passes, and on fresher legs I bet.  We had our chances, but could not score.  Hahn and Cotugno each scored for RB, and we left on the wrong side of a 2-0.  Our performance was good enough to beat about half the teams currently in Ligue 1, and tie half of the remaining teams, but against an opponent like RB Leipzig?  Not good enough.  Next game in front of the home crowd would be different though.

First though, we had to go to Angers.  I played a moderately rotated squad in this game, and the boys still put forth a solid effort.  Johnathon Fernandez, whose been Guðjónsson's primary backup all season, had a fine goal in the 82nd minute.  Austin and the rest of the defense were stout as well, allowing only one shot on target that was easily brushed away.

Next up, the home game against Leipzig.

But first, a bit of news for me that I took to much delight in:

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Part of me feels a little bad for the guy, as he lost his job due to a takeover.  But Nantes was mid-table team at this point with just 7 wins and 15 draws.  Something tells me if that were my record the board would be agitating for my head too.  

58cd6076f138b_ThierryDavout_Inbox-67.thumb.png.77b3eb6b27a34bbe3a49c4899df735f9.png

We went further than I think anyone expected us to.  Looking back, on paper our group stage was a lot easier than it turned out to be, but this happened the last time I was in the Europa League.  Last time though we got Bayer Leverkeusen in the Knockout round.  But my takeaway, rightly or wrongly, is that we beat some very good teams, which tells me we are on our way to being a very good team as well.  And the next time around, if we can hold our own against the likes of RB Leipzig, or Wolfsburg, or similar teams, I will be more than happy.

Five games left in Ligue 1 play, and that lackadaisical loss to FC Lorient was coming back to haunt us.  If we had won, we would have been in 5th place, 2 points ahead of OM, instead were in 7th place, and we can't lose if we want a shot at getting 5th place.

 First up, a Stade Brestois 29 team that's fighting a relegation battle.  24 shots, 10 on target, later, we secured a 2-0 win, with Fontanesi and Guðjónsson each scoring.

A minor stumble against Auxerre next, as we tied.  Bangoura and Pluta scored for Auxerre, while Johnathon Fernandez's brace of goal equalized the score.  This was a tough match, very even on the pitch. 

Girondins next, they were also in the hunt for 5th place.  This game we almost threw away.  Fernandez scored in the 6th minute, Tormin in the 10th, and then Gueye stuck it in his own goal to give us the 3-0 lead.  Niangs goal for Girondins in the 40th minute was matched a couple of minutes later by Camaras shot, and we entered halftime with a 4-1 lead.  Girondins came out on overload with everone playing higher, and the second half was an onslaught of shots.  The defense was solid but not spectacular until the very end.  Sisto scored, and Guinazu scored, and with 20 minutes left, Les Bleus were holding onto a 4-3 lead.  Fontanesi and Thibault Delahye then turned it up a notch, each having several solid tackles and interceptions that broke up more than one attack, and Austin had some very good saves.  Despite 20 shots, 12 of which were on target, Girondins could not win, or even equalize, and we left 4-3 winners.

We kept up the solid form against Saint Etienne, allowing them just 1 shot on goal, which Torres scored with.  A Jop Poot OG gave them 2, but Degeneks's 71st minute shot, on top of goals already scored by Kostolansky and Amoako, gave us the 3-2 win. 

OM was in free fall, having won two and lost two in their last four games, and we were tied in the standings.  They were playing En Avant away, we were playing Nantes at home.

We beat Nantes, a Guðjónsson goal in the 15th minute giving us all the offense we needed.  OM beat Avant 2-0, and when the season ended:

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By virtue of goal differential, OM took 5th place.  

Even though I had more away goals...and we tied on points.

Yes, were we're picked to be relegated.  Yes, we were never supposed to get past Rangers, or AEK, and we certainly weren't going to get out of Group J.  Beat Dynamo Kyiv?  And Sevilla?  Only to lose to eventual Europa Cup winners RB Leipzig? Yes, we overachieved this year, but losing out on fifth place by a 2 goal differential.  In the immortal worlds of Bart Simpson:  "Ça suce et souffle!"

End of season wrapup next.  

Against all Odds, we're beating everyone expectations.  Can we maintain our progress?

Thanks for reading!

Jellico73

 

 

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"Against All Odds - Les Bleus Et Blancs"

USL_Dunkerque.jpg.8119c9623f097fa8fdd99b9b691d573e.jpg

 

Season 8 Begins in Dunkerque.

We've exceeded all expectations since we've arrived, and I would be lying if I said I was confident of reaching those heights again.  The big teams are still spending money like they have a bottomless pit of it, and while I have a decent amount to spend, €11M, finding players who fit my plans are one thing.  Finding players who fit and want to come here is another.  The good news is I have some young and and coming youth players who have a lot of promise, getting them trained is going to be an excercise and a half, but I'm working on something that's going to help me there I think.

We're doing pretty well budget wise:

58ceaf2cd8120_UnionSportiveLittoralDunkerque_FinancesSummary.thumb.png.b0502f7084416a87e8e7d8cb1ae49a4b.png   58ceaf484c7f8_ThierryDavout_Inbox-70.thumb.png.fd41340860de8c95afd709554ca00c63.png

Europa League money has really helped here, and out TV money is very good too.  Not Premier League good, but still respectable.  Of course with all that money in the bank we're now able to do things like this:

Capture6.thumb.JPG.fdb98264ef82eab00c5c771f884fb87d.JPG  and not have to worry about taking out a loan.  Which I think we could do and still have a positive cash flow.

Les Bleus jumped 36 places in the European Club rankings, to 51st (!), which is entirely due to our excellent Europa League showing.

 

But first, the most important news of this season:

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Which will come in handy.

Oh, and we set a new average attendance record last season.  10796 fans on average came to our rented stadium to see us play.  Smallest non friendly crowd we had was 5892, against AEK in our First Round Playoff.  Largest crowd was 28244 against LOSC.  Checking.....Yes. Still Bitter.

Player wise from last season we had some very solid performers.

Across all competitions:

John Austin has become a good goalkeeper on the verge of becoming very good.  42 Appearances, 43 goals allowed, 13 shutouts, 7.05 rating.

Leonardo Fontanesi has become the rock I've built the defesne around.  in 53 appearances last season he had 4 goals, 1 assist, and 7 POM's, and an average 7.27 rating.  He's also been a very good tutor.

Zeca Gomes is my young D(L) who has top ten player in the world potential.  At 17 years old he's been my starting D(L) for most of the season.  In 42 appearances he had 3 goals, 7 assists, 3 tackles per match and a 7.00 rating.  On the downside he also had 22 yellows and a red, and 112 fouls.  I'm trying to learn him not to do that, but I may just have to live with it.

Jan Kostolanksy, our Captain, had a solid season on the right wing.  8 goals, 15 assists, and a 7.05 rating.  He still gets the niggling injury from time to time, but he's been a great player and excellent leader.

Henrique Camara came into the AM(C) role and did better than I expected.  9 goals, 11 assists, 3 POMs and a 7.11 rating in 45 appearances.  He's done so well I'm seriously considering moving Gudmunsson.

Our best all around player last season was Guevin Tormin, again.  in 46 appearances he had 13 goals, 15 assists, 5 POM's and a 7.15 rating.  

Helgi Guðjónssonwas fantastic in front of the goal.  in 48 appearances he had 29 goals (13 Ligue, 5 Cup, 11 Continental and 2 International), 3 Assists, 6 POM's, and a 7.08 rating.

Transfer wise so far Malik Tchokounte has retired.  

Fadel Gobitaka, who at best is a middling L2 player went to GFC Ajaccio for 250K.  Marco Baldan didn't want to be at the club anymore, and went to Avellino for 50K.  Notable free transfers out:  Soulemayne Bah.  I have a glut at Striker (my addiction there is second only to my attacking midfielders), and he didn't want to resign.  Giuliano Tasca, Jocinei and Jorge Hernandez all left on Free's.  

Loans out so far: Johnathon Fernandez to CS Sedan, Lee Sweeney to Stade Lavallois, Yanis Guillet to La Berrichone.  Everyone else released was a youth player who wasn't going to see the field due to their low ratings.

In's thus far are Bilal Assou, who I saw in an U20 competition.  Yes he's an AL(L), but Tormin isn't going to be getting any better, and he has some upside.  For €150K, it's worth the risk.

Malte Heinemann is young, which gives me more than enough time to train him up to cover all the Defensive Line positions.  I need at least one sub who can come in and cover more than one position, right now that's Florian Elsdorf, and he's 28 and 2 1/2 stars.

Which leads me to the one thing I want to try and pay more attention to this season.  Training. I think I need to be a bit more hands on than I am, and that means playing a little bit closer attention to how a player is progressing.  Especially now as I have a lot of 4 and 5 star potential players on my team that are currently one or two stars.  

One of the ways I can do that is pay more attention when I loan a player out, and as a result of last season I cut ties with Roeselare.  Their facilities weren't the best, but more importantly, they kept playing people I sent them out of position.  They weren't costing us anything, and after the fifth(!) conversation I had about a a player being used improperly, I just cut ties altogether.  As a result, I went looking for a new affiliate, but I wanted to try and keep it in country, and La Berrichone in Ligue 2 was one of the options.  Good youth and training facilities, good coaching, professional team.  For 50K euros and a friendly a season its a great deal, and a step up from Roeselare I think.

Another way I am going to try and track how players progress is on a monthly basis.  To that end I have an Attributes view:

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Every month, you export it as an html file, open that html file in excel, and with a little editing you get:

Capture1.thumb.JPG.50c4bef69cb86b22faded6186a5e0ea7.JPG

And thru some excel magic and conditional formatting, you get this:

Capture2.thumb.JPG.5fb38a7c2cd26b5b0b5add8f62192cb9.JPG

Now these are two years difference.  And I can tell that in that time, then 16 year old Bilal Madani has improved quite a bit in some areas.  Light Green is a +1 change, dark green is a +2 change.  Orange is a -1 change, red is a -2 change.  So, in looking at this I can also see Fikayo Tomori is starting to decline.

My plan is to do one of these every month, and that way when a player improves in an attribute, I can change him right away and see if I can't improve him more overall.

I'm also going to bring in some more older players, and see if I can't get them in as tutors and backups.  Last years tutors did OK, I am hoping I can find some older players this season who can also do a capable job.

So, the 2023/2024 season is about to get underway.  New stadium, new training grounds and youth facilities, new affiliate, 

This year, we're aiming for another top 10 finish.  Sooner or later the bettor's will start respecting us.

Against All Odds, we're staying in Ligue 1.

Thanks for reading and following!

Jellico73

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It's starting to come together.

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Just a few screenshots to whet a couple of appetites:

stad1.thumb.JPG.a758cab22af7ae4a89988d9258407941.JPG

The new Stade de USL Dunkerque.  I'm not sure if you can change a name.  I suspect we are waiting for a sponsorship deal.

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20K seats, expandable to 40K,  Out first home game we had 19700 people.

Nine minutes in:

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Thibault Magry throws the ball into

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Craig Evans, who turns around and

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then lofts a kick

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past three Girondins defenders, to a hard charging Zeca Gomes, 

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who volley's it off his strong left foot

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Past the diving goalie and into the back of the net.

First home goal scored in our new digs, by our 17 year old 3 star D(L).

Tres cool.

:-)

Jellico73

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On 3/19/2017 at 13:39, Keano16 said:

It's starting to come together.

So far.  Still plenty of time to shoot a few toes off.

May have done so in one case, will have an update on that soon.

 

Thanks for reading and following!

Jellico73

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"Against All Odds - Les Bleus et Blancs"

USL_Dunkerque.jpg.8119c9623f097fa8fdd99b9b691d573e.jpg

 

Transfer window has closed, and there has been a lot of movement.

Antonis Kravaritis went to Valenciennes for €225, possibly 325K.

Then, in a move that took me by surprise, Aston Villa made an unsolicited offer for Leornardo Fontanesi.  He had some interest last year from some Serie A Teams, but this one was a bit surprising.  I don't need the money, but at the same time, I doubt if I held onto him for a year I'd get as much money next year.  Then someone came up that convinced me I could sell him.

Ha Hyun-Ho has been on my radar since last season.  My Asian scout found him, and initially he didn't want to come to Europe, but I kept him on my shortlist.  A day after Villa made thier offer for Fontanesi, talks between Ho and the Japanese team he was trying to sign for broke down, and I swooped in.   And for €375K I got a player who is younger and just as good, and 7 inches taller as well.  

I tried moving Marinó Þór Guðmundsson, but have found no takers.  I had thought about keeping him, because he is a good AM(R) and a serviceable AM(C), and training him as an AM(L) as well, but Domingo Quina is my supersub for all three positions there now, I've got a couple of youngsters I would bring in as subs.  So far there have been no takers.  Part of me wanted to keep him for the rest of the season, and then this guy came up. 

Antonio Cabral, from Boavista.  On A Free.  I love Guevin Tormin, he's one of the reasons we're staying in Ligue 1.  But he's 25 years old, and he's a 3 1/2 star player who isn't getting any better.  And on a Free?  If I don't keep him I will come out ahead.  But I am going to start rotating him in this season, he has 5 star potential, and I'd like to see if I can't get him there.

So,  the season started, and we're doing pretty well.  Opened our new stadium with a win, and I thought we were set for the season.  I wasn't looking to make any more moves.

And then this guy came up on my list.  On.  A.  Free.

Seriously, what the eff is that?  I couldn't sign him fast enough.  I was working out how to play a formation that would let me use both strikers, my AM's and still be solid defense, when after one game Helgi Guðjónsson barged in and demanded a trade.  SIgh.  I couldn't trade him.  But I was able to loan him out to Sivasspor.

I Also brought in Vitus Eicher.  He's going to be a Reserve goalie mostly, but Austin has had several international caps, and Boakye has filled in nicely for him, but after Boakye the depth was thin.

Depth is going to be a concern at some point in this season, especially if stuff like this keeps happening:

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On the other hand, I will admit I do get a bit misty eyed when seeing this:

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Against All Odds...I signed yet another attacking midfielder.  Theres got to be a support group out there for this sort of thing.

Thanks for reading!

Jellico73

 

 

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This journey is going to be a bit tougher and longer than I thought.

We are 17 games into the season, with a record of 9/4/4, a +11 Goal differential, for 31 points.

For some perspective:

In the Premier League, that would put us in 2nd.

In the Bundesliga, 3rd.

In Serie A, 2nd.

In Liga NOS, 1st.

In La Liga, tied for 2nd.

In Ligue 1, we're in 4th, because PSG has 14W, 2D and no losses, and Monaco is 13W, 2D and 1L.  

And they are a game behind us.

 

Jellico73

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Posted (edited)

"Against All Odds - Les Bleus et Blancs"

USL_Dunkerque.jpg.8119c9623f097fa8fdd99b9b691d573e.jpg

 

So, what happens on a Friday when both kids are off school and the wife has nothing planned for the family after lunch ends?

If your say "Grind thru a season and a half of FM before you realize its 3AM in the morning and you haven't updated your thread with last seasons results." you might be me.  Or any one of a few people on this thread I guess.  :-)

So, lets get back to the season, and see how we did?

OpQugl8.jpg

This is the schedule, including friendlies, that takes us to the post above.

The CS Sedan Ardennes scores is an aberration,  I type that with confidence because we had 23 shots on goal, 8 of which were on target, a 59/41 possession advantage, and their goal was the result of their only shot on target, and it was cored by a player on loan to them from me, against my 2nd string front 10 and 3rd string GK after I rotated my entire team at half .  

Against PSG?  Well, they're PSG, and their 3rd Striker came on board three years ago for €49M Euro's...Stats wise we were competitive, 12 shots, 5 on target, 47% possession against 15/8 and 53%. The friendly against Real Sociedad came about because I had an open weekend and I want to try and play some more foreign teams, and boost our international exposure.

I wanted to get off to a good start.  PSG and Monaco are going to be the top dogs in Ligue 1 until their money runs out, which is to say they are going to be top dogs for awhile.  Competing for 3rd thru 6th is where the competiution is going to be, becuse 3rd place is a Champions League Group berth, 4th and 5th are Europa League berths, and 6th is Europa League Qualifying.  After that you have to win either the Coupe de France or Coupe De La Ligue for a chance at Europa League slot, and speaking as a lower tier team who's done it, it's tough to do, you need a lot of things to break your way.  A Lot.

Rather than go thru all 17 games, I just wanted to hit a few high and low points.

OM is going to be one of the teams we are fighting for a top 6 spot.  As long as we don't lose big to them, things will be ok (I think).  They could have beat us big this game, but John Austin has become a quality young goalkeeper (3 stars, 4 star potential, and only 20 years old) and it took a 36th minute PK for OM to get on the board.  Their defense was better than our offence, and we just didn't get enough chances to score, but losing 1-0 is better than losing 4-0.  

We signed Marco Tumminello (ON A FREE!) right before the Auxerre game, and the complete forward responded with 2 goals.  

I think the first 17 games went as well as could be expected.  For the most part, the teams we were supposed to beat, we did.  The one exception to that might be our first match against FC Sochaux, our defense was just awful that game. A couple of weeks later I was happy for the draw when the clock wound down, only when it went to penalties did I realize it was a Coupe de la Ligue match.  But FCSM has been a lower table team since arriving in Ligue 1.  Havre Athletic has been in that 6-12 spot, where we have been as well, so losing to them wasn't unexpected.  As long as it's a close loss were good.  PSG was PSG, and bossed us from start to finish.  That they only scored 2 was a minor miracle.  Against Monaco we played really well.  We had as many shots as them, a couple less on target, and the possession was 51/49 to us.  Austin and my Dline were solid, and I'll take a 0-0 draw over a loss to them any day of the week.,  We gave them a dogfight, and they knew it.

Marco Tumminello has been an absolute steal, scoring 9 goals and having a few assists as well.  In fact:

fVLfVPF.jpg

The entire season has turned into the Tumminello show.  A goal against Stade Brestois 29, a Hat Trick against FC Lorient, a brace against GFC Ajaccio.  Helgi would have had a similar goal total, but Marco has been that much more effective in marking and guarding the teams attackers, and his passing and dribbling let him take the long ball from the defense and head towards the goal, and then bring his teammates into the play.  Helgi would get the long ball, wait for his teammates (and the opposition) to come forward, tap it off to a winger or midfielder, and then run forward to try and get into position.  Some of these goals Marco is creating on his own, something which Helgi rarely did.

The one horrible result in this string of games was the 4-0 loss to Girondins.  They are one of the teams we are going to be fighting for top 6.  Losing is bad.  Losing without scoring is worse.  Losing by four without scoring is just....well, its not good.  Highlights of this block of games:  Beating Saint Etienne 3-1 in the Coupe de la League Quarter Finals, beating GFC Ajaccio in the Coupe de la Ligue Semi finals, and shutting out Nantes in the Coupe de France Tenth round game.  My goal is winning either one (well, both actually) of those tournaments in case we don't finish top 5 in the table.  Our4 best game was against FC Lorient, whom we thrashed 5-0.  That lead to this:

hd9D3fN.jpg

Usually this is dominated by PSG and Monaco jersey's, but this was nice to see.

So, the January transfer window opened, and I spent a lot of time looking at some players in the 1 million to 5 million range.  They weren't that much better than the ones I had, and I didn't want to crowd my roster with younger players who wouldn't get a lot of quality playing time.  One thing I am noticing is that many of my loan players don't improve as fast or as well as I would like them.  I've let my roster get to big, and while we are competitive, we have to be smart about it.  I can't outspend PSG oor Monaco, especially not when they are dropping €160M last season and €183M this season on players.  I need to do my own version of 'Moneyball' here.  That means:

  • Finding good players on frees, getting what I can out of them, and then selling them off while
  • Developing younger players I bring in, which is something I need to improve at
  • Finding good young players and spending smart money on them.
  • The definition of 'Smart' in the above is not really set in stone...

One of the things I am starting to do more is scout, and I mean really scout, the U23 and U19 tournaments.  If there's a good young player there (who's already at least two/three stars and has potential), I'll make an inquiry.  Now, this is odd, but a lot of the African teams, who pay their players a pittance, will say that a player is never available, but when you offer them say, 250K, they come back with a 5 million offer.  European clubs are a bit more flexible.  I have a decent transfer budget, almost €15 million, so I went scouting, and found:

L1KHPij.jpg

Meet Andrei Lung, formerly of FC Dinamo 1948 Bucureşti,   4 stars current, 5 star potential.  18 years old, and better than any D(R) we have on the team at the moment.  When I inquired about him Dinamo wanted €14.5million for him, straight up.  I came back with a €7.5M inital fee, €7.5M over 48 months (which breaks down to about 156K a month), €500K after 10 international appearances, €1M after 30 League appearances.  And they said "Thierry, te-ai o afacere".  Between him and Zeca Gomes, I think I have two of the best young Defensemen in the game.  

Andrei was my only transfer move.  I had some other targets, but put them off, for reasons that should become clearer next season.  There was one more transfer out, which I am having second thoughts about now that I agreed to it, but it's not official until the summer transfer window, so I'll keep you in suspense until then.  :-P

There was some other bits and pieces of end of 2023/beginning of 2024 news:

Q4azWNU.jpg  3MidXn5.jpg 

 mfo3o2j.jpg  uT0ZHC7.jpg

 

Just for comparisons sake, this was Thierry when he took the job, and now:

nwYI6o3.jpg  

Tc8M73S.jpg

Improvements?  Lets see:

Attacking +7, Defending +7, Fitness +1, Goalkeepers +7, Tactical +2, Mental +4, Technical +4, Working with Youngsters (broken, because I never see this move, for anyone),   Adaptability, same.  Determination +7, Player Knowledge +9, Youngster Knowledge +8, Man Management +6.  Level of Discipline, also broken AFAICT, Motivating +9.

Reputation went from Regional to World Class, this skin doesn't do stars for reputation, let me look at another one...3 1/3 stars.  Head Coach of the Season in 2016/2017.  Coupe de la Ligue Winners in 2020.  Ligue 1 Head Coach of the season 2021/2022.  French Head Coach of the year 2022 and 2023.  387 games played, 195 won, 110 lost, 82 drawn, 667 goals for, 505 against for a +162 difference.  Continental B to Continental Pro license, and lets not forget, fluent in French three times over.  And a bargain at 5K a week.  

Now, if I only knew how I was really doing this....anyhow, back to the season.

pAm5Ud7.jpg

Toulouse came to town and just bossed us from start to finish.  Cabrals goal was a gift, and Toulouse could have had a lot more goals if they hadn't backed off the last half hour of the match.  As it was we were in firth place, in a three way fight with OM and Olympique Lyonnais for the 3rd thru 5th spots.  Both PSG and Monaco were 20 points ahead of us, fighting for 1st.  Marco Tumminello was on a tear, and was challenging for the team record in goals scored in a season.  John Austin was challenging for the season shutout record.   We were in the Coupe de France Quarter Final, and the Coupe De la Ligue final.

So of course we fell apart, with our longest losing streak.  Ever.

JtMi78Y.jpg

We were ahead 1-0 on PSG, then they remembered they were PSG and their €88M Striker put them ahead 1-0, and they added a penalty kick about 11 minutes later.   Geronimo Rulli, the PSG keeper, has been a wall in front of the goal in our games against him, I think we've scored like 3 goals in 9 games...I jumped out of the chair when MArco scored.

Next up was Monaco, and even with 10 days a prep time they bossed us.  28 shots, 13 on target, 58% possession advantage to 8/4/42.  Even playing a 4141 we're pretty good at, sigh.

Then it was like on of those bad late night infomercials"  You've just been run from pillar to post by PSG and Monaco, you're fighting injuries and for a spot in the top 5 of Ligue 1.  But wait, there's more, you get to play PSG again in the Coupe de France Qaurter Final!

And we met the Great Wall of Rulli again.  We didn't even get a shot on goal., and a Mario Pais  (An AM(L) regen they bought for the bargain price of €35.5M from Sporting CP) shot in the 30th minute was enough to see them past us.  We had 4 shots on goal.  4.  And none of them were close.

Next up, OM and the Coupe de la Ligue Final.  GFC Ajaccio had beaten PSG on penalties in the Quarters, which was the upset of the tournament.  The stats don't reflect the final score.  They were simnply better than us, and would have beaten us 5-1 if not for a missed penalty and a brilliant Austin save.  Tormins shot in the 90th prevented the shutout, but at the end of the day, they put their shots where it counted, and we didn't.  The one nice takeaway from this game?  We played at Allianz Riviera, in front of 36K people, and 18K of them were OM fans, which means we brought 18K fans our self to the game.  I am liking that.  However, with those two losses, it would mean fighting for 5th place to ensure European play again.  

Losing to En Avant 3-1 did not help us in that regard.

So, how did the season end?

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We finished 4th, two points behind OM.  Who Won the Europa League in nice fashion against Monaco.  It wasn't for lack of trying though.  I have to thank Havre Athletic Club, who held Olympique Lyonnais to a draw, which allowed me the 1 point advantage over them.  We finished strong:

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We also lost €22M over the course of the season.  The board had to inject cash into the budget, and we came dangerously close to hitting the Fair Play rules.  I'm hoping to make another good run in the Europa League, the money from that will be a nice bonus.

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Oh, and we had our youth intake

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Not the worst, there's some potential there.  

Stats wise, end of season...Marco Tumminello tied Malik Tchokountes record for most league goals in a season, with 20.  John Austin set a new team record with 18 clean sheets.  Marco also had the most assists, with 9.  Zeca Gomes averaged a 7.22 in 39 appearances.  Guevin Tormin had 5 POM's, And I used something like 34 players last year.  

Marco Tumminello was literally the free signing of the year.  In any league I bet.  35 appearences, 27 total goals, 8 assists, 3 POM's and a 7.07 rating?  The number of teams banging down my door for this guy was obscene.  To effing bad, they had their chance.

Jan Kostolansky may never realize his full potential, but that's because I didn't do right by him the first few years he was here.  He was also out for 8 weeks this season, but still had 6 goals, 5 assists and a 6.96 rating in 30 games.  I played him a lot as a Ramdeuter, but he's better as a winger I think.  

Guevin Tormin had a fine season, 28 games played, 9 goals, 5 assists, 4 POM's.  At the beginning of the season he came and asked for a new contract.  Which I thought was odd, because he had just signed a five year deal two years ago, and was still one of the highest rated players on the team.  I said wait until the offseason, and his attitude went downhill.

 Henrique Câmara was OK as my AM(C) En Ganche.  25 games, 3 goals, 2 assists.  

Domingos Quina was my AM(Everything).  One of the things I wanted to try and do was give my first team AM's a break, to try and keep them healthy.  Other than a double Hernia that took Kostolansky out for 8 weeks, noone else missed some serious playing time, and in 22 appearences he had 3 goals, 2 assists and a POM.

I picked up Antonio Cabral as a backup for Tormin, and in 14 appearances he had 1 goal and 5 assists.

Joshua Seasoc is my American Midfielder, equally adept at Roaming Playmaker or Deep Lying Playmaker.  In 31 games he had 1 goal and 8 assists.

Martin Otacka is my DM Ball winning midfielder.  In 25 games he had 4 goals, 2 assists and 2 POMs.  The 19 yellow cards are a problem though.

Zeca Gomes had a breakout year, well I think it's a breakout year.  32 appearences, 4 goals, 6 assists, 2 POM's.  More importantly, he went from 22 yellows and a red last season to 12 yellows this season.

Jop Poot was solid, 26 appearences and an assist, and 1 POM with a 6.92 rating. For a guy who never goes forward, I am OK with that.

Ha Hyun Ho was a bargain.  In 30 matches, he had 1 goal and 2 POM's, and a 7.16 rating.  Well worth the 375K I spent to get him, and staying back with Jop he broke up so many attacks allowing my defense to recover, it was fun to watch sometimes.  

Fikayo Tomori was the primary backup at D(C) and D(R).  in 25 matches he had 2 goals, and a 7.04 rating.

Thibault Magry was the starting D(R) at the beginning of the season.  23 years old, 3 sat current, 3 1/2 star potential, in 16 games he had a POM of 6.94.  And I like to play with my wing guys up, firing crosses to may attacking midfielders.  And he was a winger before I trained him to be a D(R).  His lack of offensive ability at Ligue 1 level is why I went looking for someone better, hence Andrei Lund.

All in all, not to bad for a team picked to finish 16th.  Again. 

But, I've already started next season, and have made a few decisions I am not sure are going to work out.

Against all Odds, we're zigging, when we possibly should have zagged.

But, Europa League, here Les Bleus Come!

Thanks for reading and following!

Jellico73

 

Edited by Jellico73

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Alessandro Pane resigns from the HC job of Man City.

They sign Carlo Ancelotti, who was at Bayern Munich.

Bayern Munich hires Jurgen Klopp, who was at Barcelona.

Barcelona hires Pablo Villa, who was the head coach at Paris Saint-Germane.

Hence stuff like this:

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I'm not their top candidate, Thomas Tuchel at RB Leipzig is, but still. 

Nice to be considered, but thats not how we're getting to the top of Ligue 1.

Jellico73

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"Against All Odds - Les Bleus et Blancs"

USL_Dunkerque.jpg.8119c9623f097fa8fdd99b9b691d573e.jpg

 

It was a summer of change in Dunkerque.

First, the scenery was changing, with new youth facilities and new training facilities being built.

We dropped twp places to 53rd in the European Club rankings.

We averaged 14,732 fans per home game.  (Checking....yes, still bitter).

The second change has been in my approach to the roster.  

I think, like mat players new to the game, I see a good player with 4+star potential and I snap them up, thinking they will get better incrementally in the short term, and then a bit better faster when I loan them out, and then when I need the to play, they'll be close to their potential.  I try and get them some first team playing time, as evidenced by the fact we have  the Ligue in numbers of players used in a season for like 5 years now.   The problem is I am so hyped up about Europ League games, they don't get the playing time they need here.  Some players get playing time at the affiliates, but they don't come back markedly better.  And I have a roster full of players complaining I am not giving them first team soccer.

So, I sat down one evening and looked at my roster.  Who are my starting XI.  Who is each one of those players backups.  Who are some players I want to keep on rotation.  And once I had that list, I began to move players out, and bring a few in.  I did this because I knew with a decent Europa League performance, I would be making enough money to pay some of these people to leave.  That's what I am banking on anyhow.

First, the outs:

H0DLCSs.jpg

Thse are just the loans and the Free Transfers.  Most of the Frees are youngsters who didn't have a future here at the club.  Some were players in the 21-25 range who were 2 star or lower players, and weren't going to see a lot of playing time here.  A Couple I tired loaning out or selling, but they refused to go.  Of the players on this list, Idrissa N'Diaye was the hardest pill to swallow because I paid €1M euros for him, and let him go.  

Marinó Þór Guðmundsson's attitude went down the rabbit hole and stayed there.  I tried to transfer him, starting at his suggested value of 4.3M, then 3M, then 2M, then 1M, and a lot of numbers inbetween, but no takers.  No loan offers either.  But, he came in on a free, he left on a free.

Now, the players I sold:

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Loic Bessile came in on a free, and at one point had 3 1/2 star potential.  He was lost in the shuffle at D(L), and was a disaster the few games I played him at D(C).  I put him on the market for €60K, Charleroi offered 40K, and out he went.

Yanis Guillet was never going to see the starting XI as a D(C) or a Sweeper, and over the course of the year his attributes did not get a whole lot better.  If he had stayed, he would have been 5th on the depth chart, I put him out there for 100K, STVV offered 77K, and for a guy I got on a free it was a good deal.

 Arnaud Mwendy was a D(C)/DM I brought is as depth, and he never really improved attributes wise either.  He doesn't have the makings of a decent tutor IMO, and I have youngsters that are better than him in both current and potential ability.  He went to Helmond and is having a decent season for them.  For another player I got on a Free, €125K initial fee, plus money after 30 appearences, isn't to bad.  I had to make a small salary contribution as well, but I'll gladly pay someone to go play for another team if it means they aren't on my roster.

I got Pierre Lucas on a Free, and he just never got any better.  Even his loan stints were lackluster at best.  A two star current, 3 star potential player he was never going to see any playing time here.  La Berrichoine, one of my affiliates, had the hots for him.  I asked for €250K, and they jumped on it.

Glenn Claes was an older player I brought in to be a tutor and to provide backup.  About December he started complaing about lack of first team soccer, and so I tried working him into games, and he underwhelmed.  I paid €750K to Grasshoppers to get him, SC Bastia paid the same, but I am paying some of his salary.

Thibault Delhaye was a victim of circumstance, being the 4th best DM/D(C)/M player on the squad.  I was going to hold onto him because of his versatility, but Reading made and unsolicited offer of 750K for him.  For a guy I got on a Free, thats a decent deal.  And he's having a solid season in the Championship.

Craig Evans fell into that area I was talking about before.  A player with good potential (four and a half stars) who wasn't going to get any Ligue 1 playing time with me.  What playing time he did get was against weaker teams.  And I had younger strikers with more potential.  I put him out there, and MTK in the Hungarian League got him for €1M.  There's also some small bonus thrown in for winning the League, and International appearances, which could net me €1.3M, and I am paying part of his salary.  He's doing well, and so is MTK.  Also a player I got on a Free.

My addiction to attacking midfielders was getting me in trouble.  Case in point: Antonia Cabral.  Two and a Half Star current, four and a half potential, but he was 24 years old, injury prone, and complaining about lack of first team soccer.  I put him on the market, for €M and a salary contribution, and Trabzonspor picked him up.

Domingos Quina had a good season for me last year.  Played all 3 AM positions, 22 games, 3 goals, 2 assists,   En Avant de Guignap made an unsolicited offer for him, and I was able to get them to €1.6M.  For a player I got on a Free, 

Fikayo Tomori was a solid backup player in the Dline, But at 26 years old and having met his 3 star potential ability, he wasn't getting any better.  He started 25 games for me at D(C), but when I didn't start him for three games he pitched a fit.  I have younger option on my team I need to develop, and when I put him on the market, Trabzonspor again jumped in.  I am payiong some of his salary, but the €2M I sold him for netted me a €700K profit

Helgi Guðjónsson had a couple of good seasons for me.  But when MArco Tumminello was available, he became second string, and he hated it.  He asked for more playing time, I told him no, and his attitude went south, and he started affecting other players as well.  I loaned him to Sivasspor, and he had a solid season for them 25 games played, 10 goals, 3 assists, 2 POM's, but when he got back he went on the transfer list almost immediately.  Almeria came in with an offer that was OK, but after I said I'd pay half his salary until 2026.  But again, €3.3M for a guy I got on a Free?

The last out was a tough one to make.  In last seasons January transfer window Reading made an unsolicted offer for Guevin Tormin.  He was already in a foul mood because I was unwilling to renegotiate his contract.  We were in the 2nd year of a 5 year deal, and he wanted more money.  He's 27, his skills were diminishing, but he has been a solid player for me.  I wanted to keep him, so I turned the offer down, and he was mad.  And some of the team were mad too.  I had to have a frickin team meeting over my Vice Captain not being allowed to talk to another team after he complained to me about not getting a new contract.  And the talk didn't go well.  So I put him on the market, Five teams came asking for him, I agreed to the hghest offers, and then the January window closed.  Two weeks later Tormin agreed to terms with Charlton.  I sat him on the bench for most of the season, and he went off to Championship football.  He's done OK, 14 games, 4 goals and an assist, and I am paying a decent amount of his salary until 2027, but again, for a guy I got on a free, €9M euros is a great deal.  Charlton has him listed as a future transfer though...

So, all in all I've loaned out 12 players, released 18 on a Free and sold 12 more for €20M.

But I did bring a few players in.

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This time around I was looking for some older players with decent ability who would make good tutors as well.  Because I have so many players on International duty at times, I am thinking that relying on an older three star player to do a credible job is a better option than throwing a one star into the fire and praying they do well.  And I found a couple of Free's that have potential.  And One Free who was the catalyst for me reevaluating my best XI strategy for this season.

First up, Nicolas de Preville.  Super Sub, decent player but his skills are diminishing.  I brought him is as a tutor more than anything else, he's a backup player, and happy to be a backup player, but thus far in the season (we're currently 16 game in), he's started 3 games and had 3 goals.  Maybe FM is trying to tell me something here....

Kevin Hartmann is a youngster I picked up because my scouts failed me and said he had four star potential.  At best, he has two.  He won't be here come January.

Kelvin Amian Adou is an organizational depth guy, who can play the backline for a game or two.  He's wanted by AFC Ajaccio, depending on how we look come January, he could be moving on.

I signed Luca Bittante as a depth guy.  One of the formations I am using this year is a 4-1-4-1, and I needed players who could play the midfield wings adequately.  Unfortunately he broke his leg in one of our friendlies, and now is out until the spring. 

Yerry Mina is Ha Hyun-Ho's primary backup, a three star player who has done very well in his starts.  His solid aerial ability has really helped out our defense on corner kicks.

Sander Van Dujin I found on a free.  He's a depth guy at the moment, who did well in the preseason, but the one start he had I pulled him at half because he was a mess.  I may move him come January, especially if his numbers don't start coming up with all the training I am giving him.

I needed a credible back for Andrei Lung.  Thibault Magry isn't it, and I am hoping Inigo Arrese is.  Two and a half star current, four star potential, been pretty solid so far.

Abdouale Sissako is going to be part of my midfield rotation, and hes proven to be a good tutor as well.

I picked up Benoit Perrot because he's an AM (Everywhere) player.  One of the things I am trying to do this season is get a little more rotation into the roster, with the number of games I hope to be playing in the Eurpoa League, and the fact I have upwards of 12 players being called up for international duty, keeping players relatively fresh and healthy is a priority.

I picked up Alexis Larriere for much the same reasons as I picked up Perrot, except he is going to be part of the midfield rotation.

Benjamin Dufour was signed to provide some depth behind Zeca Gomes at D(L), and he's done a credible job.

Boris Kavcic came up in my scouting, and I'm not sure why.  I do have a scout out there looking for hot prospects in Europe, but it looks like he's a regen that went straight into the Free Agent Pool.  I am not sure how that happens.  Anyhow, he's a young D (C) with four star potential.  Why not sign him on a free?

I picked up Zouradine Thior because...well, I would say depth, but he came up as a free, and I snapped him up to be the primary sub on the AM(L) side.  But his Estimated Value now makes me think I can sell him come January and make a nice profit off of him.  

I accidentally dropped Kyllian Lefebvre.  Clicked the mouse one to may times.  Was able to get him back though.  Youngster, some potential.

Pedro Macias comes to us from Toulouse, for €2.5M straight up.  I play a pretty agressive 4-2-3-1, and last year I found out that it works fantastic with a Complete Forward.  It aslo works very well with a Target Man, and not only is Macias a fabulous Target Man, I think he can also be a more than serviceable Complete Forward as well.

I first came across Ernest Addo when I saw his name pop up in one of the African U20 teams.  I was looking at him, wondering what sort of bid I could put in for him, when I saw his contract was running out at Académie.  The Académie JMG Ghana is to Ghana what the FFA COE is to Australia. I snapped him up as fast as I could.  20 years old, 5 star potential, I was worried some other team was going to come in and swipe him.  But, after getting him I realized I had a minor quandary on my hands.  Jan Kostolansky is my AM(R), and team captain, who I want to keep on my team until he retires.  He's been a member of Les Bleus since our Ligue 2 Days.  But after looking, I saw he'll make a pretty good Inside Forward playing on the Left side, and he's a better option for me there than some of my other players.  So Jan moved to the left position.

That left the AM(C) slot.  Last season it was split between Quina and Henrique Camara.  In the offseason I had a couple of teams come in for Camara, and thought I had an agreement with Stoke.  Instead Camara refused to sign for them.  Then came back with an attitude that was just horrible.  I'm not going to give a player like that a ton of playing time, and after scouring the market for someone who was at least as good as him, I had one of those "Dawn Breaks Over Marblehead!" moments and thought "Why not see who's available for loan you idiot..."

So, I went and found Ari Montonen, on loan from Real Madrid.  As much as I would love to sign him full time, he has a €44M release fee, I am hoping I can work out something where I can get him on loan again and possibly purchase him next season.  

And thus my Attacking Midfielder addition for the 2024/2025 season is fulfilled.

Next up, first third of the season update.  

Against All Odds, I found even more Attacking Mid's this season.....

Thanks for reading and following!
 

Jellico73

 

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"Against All Odds - Les Bleus et Blancs"

USL_Dunkerque.jpg.8119c9623f097fa8fdd99b9b691d573e.jpg

 

This is our fifth season in Ligue 1.

First season we finished 16th, the pundits said we'd finish 20th and be relegated.

Second Season we finished 5th, after the pundits said we'd finish 20th, and be relegated again.

Third season, we finished 6th, after the pundits said we'd be a lower table team.

Last season, after yet another lower table finish prediction, we finished 4th.

So where are we predicted to finish this season?  You guessed it: 16th.

I don't see that happening.  

With so many new faces I wanted to get as many friendlies in as I could.  Eight seemed about right.

8gsFAlq.jpg

We did really well, the only aberration coming against Anderlecht.  For some reason my midfielders are scoring quite a few goals now.  I haven't changed the tactic much, but Martin Otocka has had as many goals in the friendlies as he did all of last season.

First up after the friendlies:  Kilmarnock, from the Scottish Ladbrokes League.  They played a very defensive 4-1-4-1, but Seasoc scored of a corner quick, a nice header past the keeper in the sixth minute.  Kilmarnocks defense went into 'Bend but don't Break' mode, and we left with the 1-0 victory, and more importantly, an away goal.

A week later, it was much the same thing, but this time a De Preville goal off a Otacka redirect of Gomes Corner kick gave us the lead.  Kilmarnocks Greg Taylor was sent of in the 56th minute with a stright red, and I went full atack, keeping them on their backheel the rest of the game, I think they mustered two shots on goal the last 30 minutes, and we won on a 2-0 aggregate score.  Next Up?  Qarabağ FK Ağdam. from the Azerbjani Premier League.

We opened up Ligue 1 play against FC Sochaux-Montbe, and we started well.  Montonen scored from the upper right corner of the box when an errant redirect landed at his feet.  Marco Tummenello had a brace of goals, the first a header off a very nice Dufour cross, the second from a thru ball pushed forward by Kostolansky.  Opening the season 3-0 at home no less, very nice.  FCSM had 1 shot on goal.  

I wasn't sure what to expect when facing Qarabağ.  They've won the Azerbajani Premier League every year since the 2013/2014 season.  I was expecting a tough match.  I wasn't expecting to thrash them 7-0.  De Preville had a brace of goals, Addo had a goal, Zeca Gomes had a goal (off a Free kick from about 30 yards.  Jan Kostolansky had a Hat Trick's worth of goals, it seemed right before this game playing Inside forward on the left side clicked for him, and he was on fire, with a 9.9 rating.  But thats not the story of this match.  No, the story of the match is that Martin Otocka was booked in the 1st minute, and then again in the 39th minute, and was sent off.  When he was sent off, the score was 2-0.  We scored 5 goals after having a man sent off.  Unreal.

Next up, Paris Saint-Germain and the Great Wall of Rulli.  We didn't score, again...but a Marquinhos OG in the 6th minute gave us a 1-0 lead that I nursed to the 63rd minute, when Marco Verratti hit a shot that slid by Austin, and the game ended in a 1-1 tie.  I can live with that.

Next up, the home half of our match against Qarabağ.  After the first game, I played it safe with this one, using a heavily rotated side.  A Quilyev OG gave us a 1-0 lead, then goals by Gandolfi and Sissako gave us a 3-0 lead.  Ndlovu scored for Qarabağ in the 61st minute, a great shot from a cross that was threaded between five of my defensemen.  But we weren't going to pull a PSG and lose a lead that big, and we were into the Europa League Group Stage, as a 2 seed?

Next up, Olympique Marseilles.  Dembele  got things off to a quick start with a goal in the 17th minute, but Marco equalized two minutes later, from a Montonen shot that split three defenders.   Martin Otocka scored a minute later, and then marco scored again in the 27th minute, on a play eerily similar to the one he scored on previously.  Dolberg scored for OM in the 63wrd minute, but Austin and the defense were in fine form, and we left Marseilles with a 3-2 victory.

LOSC came to our new(ish) house, and Austin got his second clean sheet of the season as we shut down the Lille attack.  It was a great game to watch, Les Bleus had 19 shots, 8 on target, and a 62% possession advantage.  LOSC could only muster 3 shots on target of 7 shots in total.  Marco scored in the 32nd minute, dribbling 20 plus yards between five defenders (one of home did his damnedest to trip him, twice) and sent the keeper diving one way before he tapped the ball the other direction.

So, Europa Cup Group Draw:

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Well....merde.

Oh, some other fun news and notes that have also happened:

We're upgrading the Youth Facilities, again.  And the Training Facilities too.

I like this one.  Last season I had teams offering me 450K-650K for Ha Hyun-Ho.  This transfer window season:

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Then there was this:

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I'm not sure they need that much help.  Spurs have been a top 5 team in the Premier League since 2016...

Thanks for reading and following!

 

Jellico73

 

 

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Posted (edited)

"Against All Odds - Les Bleus et Blancs"

USL_Dunkerque.jpg.8119c9623f097fa8fdd99b9b691d573e.jpg

 

This season is going to break me, I just know it.  We're close, oh so close, and the boys are doing well, but there have been enough close wins and heartbreaking defeats that I'm reasonably sure I am going to throw my hands up in disgust and walk away from this save...for a day or two anyways.

vpiTaex.jpg

The season is turning into the Marco Tumminello show for us.

Our first Group E Game against A.C Milan, and we did alright, score notwithstanding.  They had 14 shots on goal, 7 on target and a 57% advanatge, while we had 13 shots on goal and 2 on target.  We were competitive, they knew they were in a fight.  Termite scored in the 5th minute, and Crisafi in the 55th minute for Milan, and their keeper,  Alban Lafont, made several heroic saves.  My own keeper had a couple heroic saves himself.  I haven't paid as much attention to John Austin as I should have.  He's been with us for four years, been my starter for three of them, and is now a 3 star player with 4 star potential. And he's only 22 years old.  Alban LaFOnt is a two star keeper worth 10.5M, and yet Austin is only worth 525K?  He's under contract til 2028, and I suspect if I don't get him signed sooner, he'll be a target for someone.

Our next match against Monaco was a small indicator to me that we are indeed getting better at holding our own with the big teams in Ligue 1.  Monaco had 16 shots on goal, 8 on target, and a 53% possession advantage.  We had 14 shots and 5 on target.  Ransford Amoako, my BWM, had 2 goials in 8 minutes.  Ricci had a goal for Monaco, but we couldn;'t stop Maximiliano ROmero, he had a brace, including the game winner in the 52nd minute.

I played a moderately rotated squad against Toulouse.  Thorgan Hazard scored for le TFC in the 2nd minute, but Addo answered with his first Ligue goal a minute later, Alexis Blin was sent off in the 8th minute on a straight red, and we were a man up the rest of the match.  I didn't push things, Toulouse went to the counter, but De Preville's first goal in the 31st minute put my mind somewhat at ease, and his 2nd goial int he 68th minute was needed, as Hazard scored again in the 74th minute.  But as win ins a win.

Against Havre Athletic, Marco decided three games without a goal was three games too many.  A Hat Trick's worth of goals in the 11th, 24th and 64th minute were all very nice shots.  Ari Montonen had two fab assists, and then scored a goal in the 7th minute, and Jan Kostolansky added yet another goal in the 58th minute.  Ernest Addo had two assists as well, my front four were really clicking this game.  Havre fought, but a Messaoudi goal in the 38th minute, and a Marchetti brace of goals in the 56th and 81st minute wasn't enough.

Europa League game was next, Hapoel Be-er-Sheva coming to our house.  And they got thumped.  They got thumped like we used to get thumped when we first got to Ligue 1.  Les Bleus had 26 shots, 8 on target, and a 60/40 possession advantage.  Hapoel had 2 shots the entire game.  They played an extremely defensive 4-4-1-1, but after MArco scored in the 28th minute, decided to play straight defense.  Kostolansky added a goal in the 78th minute, he's really taken to this Inside Forward role on the Left side of the pitch, and had I not been on counter the entire match, I would have scored a lot more.

FC Lorient were next, and despite bossing them in the stats, it took a Montonen PK in the 38th minute and a great save by Austin late in the game to preserve the win and shutout.

We were tired going into the match against En Avant, and it showed.  They had twice as many shots, 3 times as many on target, but despite that, we were nursing a 2-1 lead late in the game.  Otocka socred in the 14th minute, Marco added another goal in the 22nd.  Avant got on board with a Solid goal in the 28th minute, then they got a 5 on 3 advantage and Quina (yes, the one i traded, lofted a pass to Meite, and he volleyed it into the Upper left corner of the net, salvaging the tie.

Europa League fixture next, against IF Elfsborg.  This is the one team I was really worried about in the group.  They've been at or near the top of the Swedish Allsvenskan for going on 8 years, and had a strong squad as well.  I would need to not lose to them in order to advance out of the group.  This match was tough.  As with En Avant, we dominated stats wise, but it took a Marco goal in the 40th minute and some stellar defense the last 15 minutes of the game for us to hold onto the 1-0 win.  End of the first half of group play, and were in 2nd.

Against Auxere I played a rotated side.  None of the players who started against Elfsborg started in this match. Holding L'A.J.A to a 0-0 tie was a gift, as they outplayed us all match offensive wise.  But my second string defense held tough and we escaped with the draw.

AS Saint_Etienne has fallen on some hard times.  After some financial difficulties in 2022/2023, Les Verts have not challenged for a top spot in Ligue 1.  This year they've been predicted to finish 6th,  but they are not doing that well thus far in the season having bounced between 14th and 8th.  They weren't going to be moving up the chart after this game, as the Marco Show was in full effect.  A Hat Trick in goals, the 16th, 49th, and 83rd minute, he's well on pace to break the season record.  Larriere added a goal in the 87th minute after coming on for Montonen, and the home crowd watched their team lose 4-0.

the second half of the Europa League Group stages started next, and we were in Sweden to face IF Elsborg.  They came out passively, on the defense, and we just overwhelmed them.  21 shoits, 13 on target, 3 clear and 5 half chances.  Amoako got things started in the 20th minute (My midfielders are scoring quite a bit more it seems), Addo with a nice shot in the 32nd minute, and MArco added yet another goal in the 43rd minute.  Unless a completely different Hapoel team showed up, we looked good for securing second place in the group.

The pace of games was catching up to us.  I played a heavily rotated side against Olympique Lyonnais, and they came out in full attack mode.  I was lucky enough to limit them to a Lacazette goal in the 35th minute, as they dominated us from start to finish. 

Luckily we had a 14 day break between fixtures, and I was able to rest some players entirely.  We went to SC Bastia's house in Furiani, and after a hard fought match left wioth a 2-0 win.  A Jop Poot PK in the 15th minute and a Marco goal in the 60th, and another solid performance by the back four and Austin secured us the win.

AC Milan came to Dunkerque a few days later, and 20K fans were treated to a barnburner of a match.  We took a fist half lead with a Tumminello goal in the 29th minute, and then nursed that lead until the 74th minute when Kenedy hit a shot that bounced of the far post woodwork past a diving Austin, rebounded to Termite, who tipped it to Vietto, who was standing all by his lonesome in the middle of the 6 yard box.  Five minutes later Rui Pres lofted a shot from 30 yards out to where Vargani was going to be, and the Milan Striker volleyed it home for a goal.  I was miffed, but I shouldn't have worried, because less than two minutes later Marco scored of a nice Camara touch pass.  I think that goal took it out of Milan.  They knew with a tie they were going to win the Group, and I knew with a tie I was going to be in second place, so neither of us did anything the last ten minutes and we ended in a 2-2 tie.  We've been holding our own against the bigger teams, how much longer till were beating them on a regular basis?

Girondins came to town next, and we kept up our offensive pace.  Marco scored in the first minute, Kostolansky in the 36ht minute, and Marco scored again in the 64th minute.  John Austin was resting, but Seidu Boakye was solid in goal, and we had another clean sheet shutout this season.  It's our twelfth shutout overall so far this year, which is a great pace for us.

A few days later, at Stade Felix in Lens, Racing Club decided they were going to try and live up to their name and run our tired butts into the ground.  I had a partially roitated side (mostly on defense) that not only kept up with them, but fought until the end.  Racing Club had 23 shots, 14 on target, while we had 17 and 8, but possession was equal.  Blondel scored for Racing in the 81st minute, then they sat back on the defense, but Marco woul not be denied.  In the 89th minute, a Kostolansky no look pass threaded thru three de Lens Defenders and in front of a charging Marco, who tapped it past the keeper for the equalizer.

We were not our best when FC Nantes came to town a few days later.  Only a fabulous effort by my backline and Austin kept Nantes from scoring, mt front line was ineffective, to the point of being just on the side of bumbling.  Our lone goal came in the 2nd minute, when a shot by Marco hit the post Cricca was standing next to, bounced of Cricca, and dribbled in.  It wasn't the type of OG you see in Ligue 1 play, let alone Ligue 2 or CNF play, but I'll take it.  

Thhe last game in Group E was up, and there was no way we were losing 2nd place, so I played a very rotated side,  Hapoel knew whatever they did they weren't going to qualify, and they really didn't show up to play.  Against the same squad I beat 2-0 the first time we faced each other, my second stringers scored 4 goals, Sissako, Camara, Macias and De Preville, and my defense kept the clean sheet.\

We finished in 2nd place behind Milan, and advanced to the First Knockout round.

Okay, as I said earlier, this is the season that's going to break me.

There's a couple of reasons for this.

First:

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Stade Rennais are a team trying to avoid a relegation battle, hovering between 16th and 13th all season.  They are also the only team to beat Monaco this season.  So of course, coming off our Europa League Group stage qualification, we lay the proverbial egg in front of the home crowd.  Addod' goal in the 42nd minute equalized the score, after Lerma scored in the 16th minute, then Khoffi scored in the 64th minute to put Rennais up 2-1.  After that my team decided if they couldn't win on goals, they'd win on Yellow Cards, and we got 4 in 9 minutes.  The boys got a right bollocking after this game.

They paid attention, thats for sure, and took it out of Toulose in our Fourth Round Coupe de la Ligue match.  Sissako socred in the 63rd minute, and Ha Hyun-Ho had his first goal all season in the 89th minute, a  header off a corner kick.  The defense was rock solid, allowing just two shots on goal

It carried over into our game with Montpelier.  Before the Mtach Pedro Macias was upset he wasn't getting First Team playing Time, so I rested Marco, and Pedro responded with a fine goal in the 38th minute.  Jeando Fuchs was double yellowed in the space of 10 minutes, and Montpelier was a man down.  Montonen scored off a PK in the 69th minute, and we secured another 2-0 win.

USBCO came to town for our 9th ROund Coupe de France game,  and we were on a roll.  We kept it going, 26 shots, 15 on target.  Montonen scored off another PK in the 42nd minute, and Marco added another goal in the 75th minute. Garrisone Innocent, who spent three years in Dunkerque as a backup, had some stellar saves. He's having a solid season for the Ligue 2 team.

Then come the "Pain" part of this season.  Agony will be by in a few.  

First, PSG in the Coupe de La Ligue Quarter Final match.  Two things give me a glimmer of hope here.  One is that I am breaking out a new tactci I haven't used at all since I started this save, a 4-3-1-2 that takes my AM wings off but puts a solid group of midfielders and best strikers in the game.  The seond is that the Great Wall of Rulli is not playing this game, he's out with a minor injury, and Alex Remiro is in goal.  He's good, but he's not Rulli.

After a scoreless first half, Fleurival scores for PSG in the 46th minute, but Macias equalizes three minutes later.  The Jose Gimeniz was carded a second time in the 52nd minute, and PSG was a man down.  Try as we might, we couldn't score, and then Langerbein misses his penatly kick in the 82nd minute, Austin jumping up and punching the ball away. Regulation time ends and I'm looking at my guys to see how well they will do in extra time, but I forget, Coup de La Ligue doesn't do extra time, it's straight to penalties.

Kostolansky hits, Langerbein hits for PSG.  Macias misses, Saul hits for PSG.  Montonen  hits, Laporte misses for PSG, Lung hits, Fleurival misses for PSG.  Addo hits....Martinez misses for PSG, and we win on penalties.  First time in almost four years we've beaten PSG, heck its the first time in a long time we've been statistically better than them.

So, next up, Ligue 1 game, four days later...Against PSG.  And they bossed us like we were a CFA team.  28 shots, 15 on target, 61% possession.  We had 3 shots the entire game.  A Mina OG in the 4th minute gave them a 1-0 lead, Laportes goal in the 44th minute was the icing on the cake.  Andrei Lung was so mad he dove into Langerbein and got a straight reed in the 81st minute.  However, we found out right after this match who we're playing in the Coupe de la Ligue Quarter Final:  Monaco.  Three days before we play...Monaco in Ligue 1 play.  And in between them we're playing Olympique Marseilles and LOSC.

To put this in perspective, at this point in the schedule, PSG were in first, Monaco was in second, and OM was in 3rd, while we were a point behind in 4th.  So, in Sixteen days, we're playing 6 games, 5 of which are against the top three teams in the Ligue.

As I said Above:  Pain.

As bad as we were against PSG the second time around, we were that good against OM.  Seasoc scored in the 6th minute, which was equalized by Okafor in the 17th minute.  Addo added a goal in the 42nd minute, which was equalized by Dembele in the 53rd minute, but Marco scored in the 66th minute, giving us the 3-2 victory.  However, Zeca Gomes was injured in the 90th minute, and is going to miss the next four to six weeks,  But I wasn't to worried about this, as you will see in a few.

LOSC is in a fight to avoid relegation, and they played like they needed the win.  I was playing a moderately rotated squad, but after LOSC's goalie made a great save on a Montonen PK in the 12th mionute, a Marco goal in the 20th minute and an Addo goal in the 42nd minute were enough to see us through.  Ivani scored for LOSC in the 76th minute, but it was too little, too late.

I wasn't as active as I thought I would be in the transfer window.  

Vitus Eicher was released, he wasn't getting any first team time and was making noises, so I let him go.

I sent Henriqe Camara to Hamburger SV for €3.3M.  He was getting first team playing time as Montonens backup, but trying to train him to play the other AM positiuons was taking forever, and he was constantly chattering about not starting.  I have enough depth at AM, so out he went.

Sander van Dujin went to FC Twente on a 16.25K a month fee.

Kelvin Amian Adou went to Charleroi on a loan, and Benoit Perrot went to Standard Liege on a 25.5K a month loan fee.  I only had one player brought in, but were not at that point yet.

I was however getting a lot of offers for this player:

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First Man City offered 200K, and I said no.

The Barcelona came in and offered 300K, and I said no

The Juventas came in and offered 550K, and I said no.  Then they offered 775K, and then 1.2M.

And I said no.  Because he's 15, I can't put the automatic refusal on him.  I did get his to sign a professional contract though.

We got our first overseas affiliate, Shanggang in the Chinese Super League,   And I won coach of the year again:

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Anyhow, back to the games.  But don't worry, Agony is still coming.

In our Coupe de la Ligue Semi Final, I used the same 4-3-1-2 I used against PSG.  Monaco laughed at said "That's cute." and 24 shots, 13 on target later, had a 3-1 win.  Romero is on fire for them this year, with two more goals.  Austin had an OG I am still not sure what or how it happened.  Macias scored for Les Bleus in the 73rd minute, but it was to little, to late.

Four days later, Monaco came to our patch and while we played them better, we couldn't stop them.  Romero socred again, as did Ricci.  Marco put us on the board in the 58th minute, but we couldn't push an equalizer across.

Luckily for us, we're still in the Coupe De France lower stage play, so when we went to face FC Villefranche, playing the CFA team was what we needed to get back on track.  Marco had another Hat Tricks worth of goals, and Poot added a shot in the 45th minute, and our defense held on for the shutout.  I did feel a lot better after that.  

So, We're out of the Coupe de la Ligue, still in the Coupe de France. 

We in the First Knockout Round of the Europa League, facing Wolfsburg.  They're having a down year this year, fighting to stay above 7th in the Bundeliga.

22 Games into Ligue 1 play were are at 13 wins, 4 draws and 5 losses, for 43 points..  We've lost twice to Monaco, one to PSG, and one to Olympique Lyonnais.  Not coincidentally, PSG is at the top of Ligue 1 with 55 point, and Monaco and Lyonnais are tied for second at 49 points, Marco is sitting at 19 Ligue 1 goals, but has 28 over all competitions thus far. Jan Kostolansky and Ernest Addo each have 12 assists.  

And I'm forgetting something.  Oh yeah, Agony.

So, one of the areas I have been looking at shoring up is my defense.  Zeca Gomes, Ha Hyun-Ho and Andrei Lung are going to be part of Les Bleus for as long as I can keep them.  My problem are is my DCL.  I wanted it to be Jop Poot, but it looks like he;s going to top out as a three star player.  Boris Kavcic has 4 1/2 star potential, but he's 15.  So I went and found

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He was contracted to RB Leipzig, instead going out on loan to Freiburg, Hannover, and Trabzonspor.  He was Listed for Transfer by request.  I amde an inquiry, Leipzig came back witrh 4.4M straight up.  I offered 2 million now, 2.5 over 48 months, and a 500K bonus for 30 appearences, and the deal was agreed to.  The next day, the day before the transfer window closed, he agreed to a contract.  The very next day 2/3/2025, he's introduced to the Dunkerque media and fans.  He's a great young D(C), but with Gomes out he can fill in at D(L) very well as well.

Except for one minor problem.

Squad Registration for Ligue 1 play was due February 2nd.  Europa Legaue Registration was due the 3rd.  So I could sign him up for Europa League Play.  But not Ligue 1 play.

And Now I'm walking away from the game for a day or two....ignore the cursing.

Against All Odds, we screwed up player Registration.  And were still top 5 in the Ligue.

Thanks for Reading and Following!

Jellico73

 

Edited by Jellico73

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"Against All Odds - Les Bleus et Blancs"

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I don't know who I was trying to kid there earlier.  Twelve hours after I walked away I sat down in front of the laptop determined to finish the season out in good form.  We've been hanging onto 4th Place in Ligue 1 by our nails, and I want to qualify for the Europa League again.

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We fell back into our old ways after beating Villefranche in the Coupe de France round, we tied our next opponent.

Toulouse FC started the game running, after Jan Kostolansky scored in the 9th minute, they kept on running at us.  Leandro Ramirez scored a brace of goals, giving Toulouse the lead, but in the 67th minute, Jan took an Addo cross and rifled it in near post.

Havre Athletic Club came to our house next, and after 66 minutes and a 2-0 lead thanks to goals by Thuram and Kiss, they sat back.  We pushed forward.

Marco scored in the 68th minute, and again in the 82nd minute.

Then, in the 86th minute, Kostolansky took a Lung cross and headed it past a diving keeper just inside the far post, and we fought our way back to a 3-2 win.

Right after this game, this popped up:

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Scary thing is, we still have 18(!) games left.  Marco definitely ranks top 3 in my all time best Free Transfer pickups.

We went to FC Lorient next, and the team was still on a high after clawing back that win from HAC.  Marco, Kostolansky, Addo, Montonen and Amoaka all scored, the last three inside of five minutes, and a Diego Lamber goal was all FC Lorient could muster.  Addo had two more assists this game.  

Next up, Europa League First knockout round at home, against Wolfsburg.

This game was very even stats wise, but our defense was better than theirs was overall.  Ha Hyun Ho scored on a nice header in the 11th minute, and then Marco rifled a shot of an Amoako feed in the 69th minute.  Wolfsburg then went full blitzkrieg on us, and Rummenigge scored a goal in the 88th minute, but it was too little to late.  It's an away goal though, that could have consequences.

Before we could play the away game of our Europa League match, En Avant de Guingamp came to town, and then they left on the wrong side of a 4-1 score.  Solis ogot things started for En Avant in the 4th minute, but after that it was Les Bleus.  Poot scored in the 34th minute, Kostolansky scored in the 63rd, Montonen scored in the 73rd and Addo put the final nail in with a shot in the 87th minute.  He also had 2 more assists this game.

I wasn't sure what to expect when the game at Volkswagen Arena started.  Wolfsburg came out in a 4-3-1-2 that gave us fits for the first half, we held, barely, until the 46th minute, when Rummenigge headed in a shot that not even Rulli could have blocked.

We got off to a quick start in the second half, as Montonen scored from the edge of the box, and then Kostolansky put the game and series away with a great shot in the 77th minute, and we advanced on the 4-2 aggregate score.

Next up, AJ Auxerre, the only team to beat PSG in Ligue 1 play this year.  6 minutes into the match l'A.J.A were ahead 2-0, thanks to goals by Malfleury and Pluta.  After anm agressive touchline talk, the team got it back together.  Montonen scored in the 24th minute, then equalized in the 50th.  Coulibaly put L'A.J.A in the 59th minute, In the 69th minute, Otocka's short pass founf Kostolansky's right foot, and from the top of the 22 yard box he rifled it into the upper right of the net, and we salvaged the 3-3 tie.  We also found out we're playing Braga in the Europa League Second Knockout Round.  

By this time, unless something drastic happens, PSG and Monaco have secured the top 2 spots in Ligue 1.  Thirs place is where that action is, as three teams, Olympique Lyonnais, OM, and Dunkerque, are within 3 points of each other.  Lose a game and you could go from 3rd to 6th.  Lose a game to the wrong team and you could go 3rd to 6th and really be behind the proverbial 8 ball.  Our saving grace is at this point in the season, we have our fixtures against PSG, Monaco and OM out of the way, and have one game left against L'OL.  As long as we take care of business on our end, we should be good.

Stade Brestois is not having a good season, in fact they are in a relegation fight, but did they play us tough.  Marco socred the game winner in the 78th minute, a metor of a shot that the keeper still got  a hand on bore it went across the line.

Next up was Saint-Etienne.  Both teams defenses played brilliantly.  Both teams offenses were at best, ineffectual.  Result, a 0-0 draw.   I wanted to go into our matches against Braga on a high, a loss and a tie wasn't it.  

Our first fixture should have gone a lot worse.  Mithat Taskin scored oiff a nice header from an Addo assist, and the Andrei Lung was doubl yellowed in the space of 60 minutes.  But, for some reason, Braga thought the best way to exploit their advantage was to not take any shots inside 20 yards.  The pucker factor the last 30 minutes was high, but we held on and eked out a 1-0 win.

Our game against Olympique Lyonnais could really have gone either way.  We both needed the win, we both fought hard for it, both defenses were very good, theirs was just a little better.  John Austin was out for this game with a stiff neck, and I am reasonably sure that the goal Joao Felix scored he would have stopped.  As it was, it hit Boakye in the shins and ricocheted in near post.  Losing bites.  Losing 1-0 sucks.  Losing 1-0 to your closest rival in the Ligue at the moment...gah.

Our lack of offense over the last few games hadn't gone unnoticed.  We were one of the most prolific offenses in the league, only PSG and Monaco had more goals for than we did.

Whatever torpor our offense was in, being in Braga swept it away.  Montonen scored in the 5th minute, Santoalha equalized in the 18th.  George scored in the 28th minute, Kostolansky equalized in the 32nd minute, and then George put Braga ahead 3-2 in the 39th minute.  The first half was about as frenetic a game as I have seen lately.

The second half was just as fast paced.  All told, in sum total there were 40 shots on goal.  Our luck held, and in the 75th minute Marco volleyd an Addo cross of the crossbar, it landed right back at his feet, and he rifled it past the keeper.  Fifteen minutes later, and we were 4-3 aggregate winners.

How good has Ernest Addo been for this team?

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That's pretty darn good.

We almost held true to form after our success at Braga.  SC Bastia is the worst team in Ligue 1, they are going to get relegated, and for 92 minutes they held us to a 0-0 draw.  I was playing a fairly rotated side, and things really started to look bad after Pruvot was sent off in the 54th minute.  A man down and Bastia went on the offensive.  With the game windong down, Montonen played a nice pass to Gomes, who whipped a shot through 5 players (3 of theirs, 2 of ours) and hit Thiors left foot, which volleyed it past a diving Bastia keeper.  Winning late is still a a win.

Next up, Auxerre, in our Coupe de France Eleventh round match we postponed because of our schedule and the fact we had 6 players out on international duty.  As they heave eveyone all season, they played us tough, and at the end of regulation it was a 1-1 tie, with Marco equalizing in the 51st minute after Malfleury put Auxerre up in the 34th minute. In extra time though, Auxerre collapsed, and goals by Addo and Marco saw us through to ther COupe de France Quarterfinal game, against Stade Rennais.

This game was what I would characterize as a 'Dunkerque'.  When you thin all is lost, somehow, someway, the boys find a way to claw back into contention.  Edouard and Ramselaar scored for Stade in the first half, but then Beurton was sent off on a straight red in the 53rd minute, and Les Bleus went into overload.  Otocka scored in the 65th minute, Montonen scored in the 77th minute on a PK, and then in 92nd minute of a 93 minute game, Marco is inexplicably fouled in the box.  Montonen's kick went right, the keep went left, and 20 seconds later we were 3-2 winners.

We found out we're facing West Ham in the Europa League Quarter finals, and not only that, were the last French team standing, as Arsenal beat L'OL and Liverpool beat Monaco in penalty kicks.  

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In what will come a shock to noone who follows this team, we didn't win or Ligue 1 game after playing a Coupe game.  Instead Girondins came to town and beat us at our own game.  Montonen scored in the 6th minute, Addo in the 61st, and I was settling in for the 2-0 win when Bonnin scored in the 69th minute, and then Aouar took a Bonnin touch pass in the 90th minute, ran through four defenders, and pegged it top right corner past diving Austin.  I know this was a tie, but it sure tasted like defeat.

Europa League Quarterfinals at London Stadium, and West Ham just owned us from start to finish stats wise, but after a Marco goal in the 53rd minute gave us a 1-0 lead, Tielemans, Pinamotti, and Moreno scored inside of 20 minutes, and we left on the wrong side of a 3-1 loss.  The away goal could be helpful though.

We got back to our winning against Racing Club de Lens.  Ernest Addo had a brace of goals, and had the assists on Kostolansky's goal as well.  De Lens got goals from Mirin and Pinto, but it wasn't enough, and we won 3-2.

West Ham came to Stade Dunkerque, and although we fought them hard, their defense was solid, and we made too many mistakes.  Pinamonti and Tielemans scored in the 2nd and 29th minutes respectively, which was more than enough to secure the win, and West Ham went on to win 5-1 on aggregate.  We did really well though, equaling our previous Europa Cup run.

We reverted back to form against FC Nantes.  An Evandro goal in the 11th minute was equalized by Seasoc in the 29th, Ha Hyun Ho put us ahead in teh 54th minute, but Giraud equalized in the 67th minute.  Ernest Addo scored in the 80th minute when a Macias cross was misdirected by Keita.  Cricca, the Nantes Goalie, got a fist on the ball, but it hit the post and bounced back right in from of Addo, Macias' original target, and he tapped it in, securing us the 3-2 lead and eventual win.

Coupe de France Semi Final match against Amiens SC, A CNF team that's beat Racing Club, En Avant, and CS Ardennes amongst others, to face us.  Pre-game press was all about the minnow facing the whale, but I wasn't going to overlook them.  They played us tough, closing down everything, marking us tight.  Statistically this was a very even match, but Pedro Macias put us on the board when an (who else?) Addo cross floated in, and Pedro's header went above the keepers hands.  It was enouigh to score us the 1-0 victory, and a place in the Coupe de France Final.  Against PSG.  Merde.

With this game Austin also set a new club record:

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And of course, we played a Ligue 1 game after a Coupe game, so we lost.  

The match against Stade Rennais was fun to watch, a lot of chances, a lot of scoring, a lot of nice saves.  Lerma scored in the 23rd minute, Kostolansky equalized in the 46th.  Marco put us ahead in the 47th, Koffi equalized in the 49th, Lasogga put Stade ahead in the 81st minute, Macias equalized in the 84th, and then in the 89th minute, there was a 5 on 3 counterattack, and Hyun Ho's temporary case of Rectal Cranial Infarction syndrome left not only his man unguarded, but two others as well, Austin is a good goalie, but not even the Great Wall of Rulli can guess which one of three players attacking his net is going to get the ball.  (Can he?) Anyhow, Ramselaar tapped it in for an easy goal, and we lost 4-3.

We were still in a dogfight for 3rd place.  OM had fallen off, but Lyonnais was still hanging in there but consecutive losses to FCSM and PSG had put them 3 points behind.

Montpelier cam to Stade Dunkerque, and we simnply outplayed them.  Things really didn't go their way when Jeando Fuchs was yellow carded again in the 45th minute and sent off.  By that time we already had a 2-1 lead thanks to Otocka and Kostolansky goals.  Jan added a second goal in the 55th minute, and Addo closed things out with a nice shot in the 72nd minute.

Stade Brestois 29 had 20 shots on goal, 9 on target, which are high numbers I think.  Les Bleus had 30 shots on goal, 15 on target.  And despite my going into and saying "work the ball into the box" and editing all the players so they didn't take long shots, 15 of those shots were outside the 22 yard box.  Seasoc scored in the 41st minute, and while Balogh equalized in the 77th minute, Marco scored of a great Addo assist, striking the ball so hard it bounced off the Stade keeper and into the back of the net.

Our game against FC Sochaux-Montbe was our last game of the Ligue 1 season, and we bossed them stats wise, twice as many shots, twice as many on target.  Marco though was on fire, with a goal in the 24th minute.  and after Janvier equalized for FCSM in the 54th minute, somehow in the middle of a scrum in front of the goal he tapped another goal in at the 84th minute, securing Les Bleus a 2-1 Win, and this:

TJgW6yD.jpg

So, one game left.  Coupe de France Final, against a PSG team that's had our number almost every time we've met them.  Five of the top ten players in the world on their team.  I just wanted to be competitive.

In the end, PSG had 30 shots. 11 on goal, and a 57/43 possession advantage.  World Class Striker Esteban Cruz had 2 goals the first three minutes of the game.  

NgQ74f3.jpg

Didn't matter.  "BOOYAH!" in French is "BOOYAH!"

For some reason, Rulli was not in goal.  He wasn't injured, and we took advantage of it.

Otocka scored in the 30th minute off a one two from Marco, and then in the 42nd his shot was puched away by Alves, the PSG keeper, right into Marco, who tapped it in to equalize.  In the 68th minute, Fleurival fouled Marco in the box, and I was still picking my jaw up off the floor when Montonen toed the PK into the upper left corner of the goal, giving us a 3-2 lead.  The last 20 minutes my defense was outstanding, Austin made several great saves, and we won, 3-2.

Wow.

Then the Plaudits started to roll in:

ns4RNUc.jpg   XRFNptm.jpg

 

Third Place in Ligue 1.

Championship Football.

Against All Odds, we made it in nine years.  Lets see what the 10 year anniversary brings.

Thanks for reading!

Jellico73

 

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11 hours ago, BoxToBox said:

What a season!

There were more than a few moments where I was afraid to click the 'Continue' button, that's for sure.

Thanks for the kind words!

 

Jellico73

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14 hours ago, Keano16 said:

Well done! 

Thanks!

Cracking the next level is going to be a chore.  Wait till you see what/who I am up against...money may not be able to buy you long term love, but it sure can buy you a cracking good football team.

Jellico73

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Posted (edited)

So, I thought it would be interesting to show everyone what I am up against in Ligue 1.

This is Paris Saint-Germaine's recent starting XI against me.  They usually play a 4-2-3-1.

 

4SVDWDP.jpg

Esteban Cruz is one of the top 10 players in my save.  He's the best Striker in the save.

PSG paid €109M for him, after Man U. paid €42.5M for him

 

pTXDy4Z.jpg     QIPs93E.jpg     WT9qBC0.jpg

The thing to try and remember when looking at these three players is this:  Mario Pais is the backup.

PSG paid €43M for Pais.  To be a backup.  Olexiy Mischenko is the best AM(C) in the save.  PSG paid €96M to get him from Barcelona, who paid Dinapro €30M.  Guedes came over from Benfica for €71M, and he's not the full time starter.  

 

uj7UdWA.jpg     dyJUz0z.jpg

Saul came over from Athletico Madrid for €75M.  Baranek went from Dynamo Kiev to PSG Reserves, then to PSG for €25M.  He's a rotation player, because the starter was injured for this game.

 

k77TlJ4.jpg   3Q66pZn.jpg

EaCGkXE.jpg   LGupBgr.jpg

The Back Four.  

Guerreiro came in for €39M.  Laporte for €65M, Gimenez for €61M, Marquihos for €32M back in 2013.  

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The Great Wall of Rulli.  Came in for €23M.

 

Here's the gut punch though:

olQIiJ0.jpg

Langerbein is the best AM(L) in the game.,  Came over from Schalke for €88M.  Tore his ACL near the end of last season.  

This was their bench:

X1QtQP8.jpg   GparIrO.jpg   jsJeNOm.jpg

Z4hahzB.jpg   sj5n5a0.jpg   65N4gV2.jpg

UsG6Lz8.jpg

 

Yeah, I really don't want to go look at Monaco.  But, it does put a few things in perspective.

Thanks for reading and following!

Jellico73

Edited by Jellico73

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Their wage bill must be insane.

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Ridiculous squad.

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Shame about your Youth Intakes, but you seem to be doing well without them anyway. 

I REALLY don't like whatever skin you are using, (the silver/grey one). The blue one seems much better though and I like the contrasting colours for the attributes.  

I REALLY do like your posting style though. (Probably because it is very similar to my own and best described as "waffle". :lol:

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4 hours ago, Keano16 said:

Their wage bill must be insane.

€4,480,450M p/w in player salaries alone.  That does not include appearance fee's and the like, just straight salaries for all the current players on their roster.  They also have a Reserves Team in the CFA-A League.  My first year in Ligue 1 my Reserves Team was automatically added to the CFA, but we were relegated out, and have never made it back.

These are their transfer numbers since 2016/2017 season.  These are just polayers they paid or received money for:

2016/1017: 5 players, €77M in, 2 players €21.5M out.

2017/2018:  10 players, €178M in, 4 players €30.5M out.

2018/2019:  6 players, €187M in, 7 players €26.5M out.

2019/2020: 6 players, €178M in, 5 players €77M out.

2020/2021:  6 players, €126M in, 7 players €60M out.

2021/2022: 5 players, €178M in, 1 players €10.5M out.

2022/2023: 9 players, €160M in, 6 players €28.5M out.

2023/2024:  6 players, €184M in, 5 players €82M out.  

2024/2025:  6 players, €153M in, 4 players €27.5M out.

2025/2026:  4 players, €21.5M in, 3 players €36.5M out, but we have not hit the January Transfer Window yet.

Overall, thus far in 9 plus year, they've bought 63 players for €1.4225B, and sold 44 players for €400.5M.

And I haven't even looked at Monaco yet.

 

3 hours ago, BoxToBox said:

Ridiculous squad.

That's one word for it.  I'm pretty sure the forum won't display the words I'd use to describe it.  :-)

3 hours ago, Jimbokav1971 said:

Shame about your Youth Intakes, but you seem to be doing well without them anyway. 

I REALLY don't like whatever skin you are using, (the silver/grey one). The blue one seems much better though and I like the contrasting colours for the attributes.  

I REALLY do like your posting style though. (Probably because it is very similar to my own and best described as "waffle". :lol:

My youth intakes have been disastrous, to be honest.  And I am not sure why.  Zeca Gomes was in one of my first intakes, when I had a middling HOYD, bad facilities, and poor coaching.

This is my current HOYD, and I think he looks pretty solid:

s9DBsVL.jpg

I hired him just after my Intake last year, because there was finally a Professional HOYD with good Good Working woth Youngsters, Adaptability, Determination JPA and JPP available.  

I have Good training facilities, Average youth facilities.  IF I look at my coaching team in my U19 squad, I am ranked 1st across the board (which is one of the reasons I won the U19 group last year, and have finished top 3 the past five years).  My Reserve coaches are pretty good, but my Junior coaching is just "adequate".  I also have Average Youth Recruitment.  This season the Board agreed to expand both Youth and training facilities.

This was last years Youth Recruitment:

Capture.thumb.JPG.a50268d569fc7fe8fa65c56b79e3e0f1.JPG

I'll be honest, I threw up in my mouth a little when I saw that.  JFC that's horrible.  

Instead I swear I spend about two hours a day combing through what my scouts find.  If not a little more.

Skin wise, I switch a lot.  The silver/grey one is the Gunzo 17 skin, I like it, but it has a memory leak that will lock your game up at the most inopportune times.  The one I am using now is FLUT 2.5 Dark.

And waffle is a pretty good description of my posting style.

 

Thanks for reading, and thanks for the kind words.

Jellico73

 

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"Against All Odds - Les Bleus et Blancs"

 USL_Dunkerque.jpg.8119c9623f097fa8fdd99b9b691d573e.jpg

So, it seems that taking a team that was a middling CNF squad all the way to Ligue 1, and then getting them to the Europa League 2, the Champions League once, and good runs at the Coupe de la Ligue and Coupe de France tournaments and three coach of the year awards gets you noticed.  I've had interview offers from a ton of top flight teams in the Bundesliga, Seria A, Liga NOS, and La Liga, but oddly enough no English teams....anyhow turning them all down to stay at Dunkerque the board likes.  Wish they would show that like back to me in a contract.  €6500 p/w and no bonus's of any sort...if we do well in the Champions League I am going to ask for a new one, with some bonus's thrown in as well.

The summer was short, but eventful.  I think we had a little less than 4 weeks off between the end of the season and when I brought the boys back.  They almost always complain about it, but you don't get to the Champions League by slacking off.

Rankings wise we moved up to 36th, a 17 spot jump.  I suspect going higher the jumps wont be as big.

Commercially we're doing well:

rEPm2Yl.jpg

 

Part of me likes to drift off and wonder sometimes about the amount of money we'd be getting in the Premier League, or Bundesliga, or heck, even La Liga or Serie A.  Lately it's been our runs in the Europa League and the like bringing the money in,  We were on TV 47 times last year, so that's a nice boost as well.

I haven't had a vacation since I took this job, and there's to much to do for me to take one now.  Besides, Channel weather is nice this time of year.  

We're adding to our world wide presence: 

F19YzJU.jpg

So that's one in China, one in America, I'm thinking somewheres in South America or Southeast Asia next, will have to wait and see what happens.  

The board also decided to expand the youth and training facilities.  In hindsight, if they are going to keep doing that, maybe I won't go after a new contract.

And, after our Europa League runs the past two years, winning the Coupe de France, the experts from BET190 picked us to finish.....7th.  PSG are evens to win, Monaco 11-4, OM 5-1.  Will they ever learn?

Transfer wise, I wasn't to busy, but I spent an uncomfortable amount of money.

Ari Montonen had 9 goals, 10 assists, 3 POM's and a 7.17 rating in 30 games for us last season.  So of coure Real Madrid put a €78M fee on him.  I asked to get him back on loan, and they wanted me to cover his salary (which I would have) and to pay 150K a month for him.  I said no.  So they turned around and loaned him to Crystal Palace on a Free.

yLDMfF5.jpg

I've gotten rid of a decent amout of the deadwood the past two seasons I think.  They guys I have left on my roster are young players with a lot of potential, good backup players, and starters.  The players I loaned out this year fell into a couple of categories:

  • Young players who needed to play against better competition, but not Ligue 1 Competition.  Pasquier, Haidara, Kavcic and Lambese fit this
  • Older players who would raise a stink if they lost playing time to younger players.  Seasoc and Van Duijn fit this.

The rest of the players other teams came asking.  If they were going to primarily be a back up for me, but a starter for them, I let the go. In more than a few cases teams are paying me monthly fees that more than offset what I am paying in Salary.  The frees, with the exception of Florian Esdorf, were all at best 2 star youth players who were never goingto see any amount of time on a Ligue 1 pitch.  Esdorf didn't want to resign, and I let him walk with a second glance.

I did make some money of players going to second and third tier temas.  I was a bit torn about letting Johnathon Fernandez go, but of the Australian Striker I have on my squad, Lee Sweeney is younger and has more upside, so he went a Ligue 2 team.  La Berrichoine, probably my best local affiliate, bought two players for 505K.

Jop Poot had developed as well as he was going to I think.  The last few months his numbers didn't increase, and he was complaining about getting first team soccer after Mithat took over his spot.  Angers cam ein and made a 750K offer for him, so I let him walk.  

Thibault Magry...I can't explain.  For a right winger who played D(R) and had good stats for his role and position, he just was meh.  And I can't have "meh" if I want to challenge la big boys in la Ligue.  Recently relegated Stade Brestois 29 offered 1M for him, for a guy I got on a free?  Sure.  

 Lastly, Pedro Macias.  Came in as a 2 star Target man, left a 3 star complete forward, and complain about lack of first team football.  TSG 1899 Hoffenheim came in and offered 5M for him, which was twice what I paid for him.  I didn't think anyone was going to go higher, so I said "sure".

Coming in, we have

Oliver, on a free.  Experienced midfielder, good tutor, a little expensive at 35.5K a week maybe, but his versatility was just too good to overlook.  And as I said, he's proving to be a great tutor.

Stephane Sparagna, a backup at D(C) and D(R).  He knew he was going to be a backup coming in, and he's been reliable, which is what I need at this point.

I've got a midfield rotation working this season, or at least I want to.  A Couple of my youth team guys could really do weel with some very quality 1st team playing time, but that also meant  needed some good depth at DM, especially with Seasoc being gone.  Eric Biakolo fills that role nicely .  He's not going to get much better, but he's been pretty reliable this season thus far.

Sabatino Bernini, from Chievo, 2.5M possibly going to 3.3M.  I needed some good young depth in the D(C) spot, and his also playing D(L) well didn't hurt.  

And last, but not least, James Carter.  I was looking for a replacement AM(C), when I saw him pop up on the Transfer list.  I first scouted him when he was part of the England U21 team, and my first enquiry was met with an offer for 61M.  And that's when he was 16.  Last season it was 23M.  He played 43 games for Birmingham last season, 5 goals, 8 assists, and I like him.  I think he has great potential, and with Addo can be a danger on the wings.

"But isn't Jan Kostolansky your AM(L)?" I hear you asking?  34 games, 12 goals, 11 assists, 1 POM last season and Jan turned into a very good AM(L).  But Carter was too good to pass up, and Jan already had some skills as an AM(C), and it would be easier to retrain him there than Addo or Carter.  My transfer budget was just a shade over €10M this season.  Carter took 6M of that, plus another 6.5M over 48 months, and then a bunch of 500K bonus for games played, goals scored, international appearances...breaking the attacking midfielder addiction is going to be tough, but in my defense I only brought in two this season!

I'm reasonably sure the owners pocket book squealed a little.

So, I'm halfway thru the Ligue 1 Season, and here's how we're looking:

sked.thumb.JPG.eba4b11a6ab1621c59d484b59c7104dc.JPG

12W, 5D, 1L, for 41 points.  2nd in Ligue 1, but there are 4 other teams within striking distance.  But, it's a long season, with a few unexpected bumps and twists in the road.

Friendly wise, my plan is going to be this:  Get my Affiliate friendlied out of the way, Play a Calais Cup, and schedule some friendlies that make me some money.  This year?  Mission accomplsihed, and other than the loss at Shanggang, we had a productive friendly season.  Marco picked up where he left off, and the rest of the offense was clicking as well.

The Trophes des Champions is a throwaway game really, it doesn't count for anything other than bragging rights.  But it was PSG, and if Virgil FLeury hadn't toed a goal in the 93rd minute, we would have won.  Instead we lost in a penalty shootout, against the 2nd string PSG keeper.  We threw it away, and it left a sour taste.

We opened up the season against Racing Club de Lens, and we did very well.  29 shots, 15 on target.  Martin Otocka and Marco both scored, and while we gave up a Farias goal in the 51st minute, it came off a nice header from a corner kick.

Olimpique Lyonnais was our first big test of the season, and if we're using my kids schools grading system, we got a "Check Minus".  A tie was a gift from the football gods.  L'OL did to us what we did to Racing Club.  28 shots, 13 on goal.  We had 3 shots, 2 on goal.  Until the 79th minute, we were nursing a 1-0 lead thanks to a Jan K. goal off a Marco feed.  Joly equalized for L'OL in the 79th minute, a back post cross that Austin was too late to catch.

Our match against FC Lorient was a nice, solid win.  Marco with a brace of goals, Otocka with another goal, my midfielders are a bit more active this year, and the defense was solid.

Next up, Monaco.

34 shots, 11 on target and a 55% possession advantage later, Monaco eked out a 1-0 victory, thanks to a Silva goal in the 10th minute.  This could have been a lot worse.  It should have been a lot worse.

Montpelier HSC was also in the "Shoot as often as you can mode."  I think they are using the school of argument some of the neighbor kids use:  "If you can't win by reason, win by volume."  of their 20 shots, 14 were from beyond the 22 yard box.  That could be they were shooting on sight, I prefer to think it was out great Defense.

Against Havre Athletic Club, again we were outshot, but half of Havre's 20 were from beyond the 22 yard box.  Oddly enough, the first three goals in the game came withing three minutes of each other.  Addo scored in the 31st, Sweeney scored in the 32, and the Messaoudi scored for HAC in the 33rd.  A Sousa OG in the 41st minute gave us the comfortable 3-0 win.

Next up, PSG at home.  We eked out the 2-2 draw, but again, PSG could have had more.  They had 3 times as many shots and twice as many on target.  MArco scored first, a nice shot in the 31st minute, then a Cruz PK and a Mischenko goal in the 44th minute gave them a 2-1 lead.  Lee's Sweeney's goal was nice, he took a header of his chest, had it land at his feet while surrounded by three PSG defenders, and with a step and a turn he rifled it in past Rulli.  I think we could have gotten more out of this match, but I'll be chuffed if I know how to make it happen.  

Against FC Nantes, we were back on form.  Playing a 4-2-4, Sweeney and Marco both had goals, and because I was resting James Carter, Jan K slid back to his old(ish) position at AM(L) and had a nice goal in the 92nd minute.  Evandros 29th minute goal took away the clean sheet, but we had a solid game.

Girondins de Bordeaux had an aversion to our box.  Of their 24 shots, 14 were at long range.  And I'm not doing anything special with my defenders position wise.  MArco go things off in the 5th minute with a nice shot, and then there was a whole lot of nothing, until the 84th minute, when Niang took a Mendy thru ball and had Austin guessing the wrong way to tie it.  Our defense hasn't been as solid in the last part of the game as they have been, I'm not sure why, but it is bothersome.

We finally turned our game around when AS Nancy Lorraine came to town.  a Popelka OG in the 9th minute opened the door a little, and then in the second half our attacks finally wore through the Nancy Defense, Marco, Addo and Amoako all scoring.  An Atangana goal in the 71st minute robbed Austin of the clean sheet, but it was a great goal, the keeper lofted a goal kick to a defender, who headed t forward where Atangana cought it at a full run and balsted it past Austin from about 18 yards.  It was a great shot.

Our match at OGC Nice was one of those that leaves you scratching your head in wonderment, asking "Whuh?"  Marco go things off to a quick start, with a goal in the 2nd, another in the 10th, and a PK in the 21st, giving us a 3-0 lead.  Eusebio Lopez took things into his own feet though, the Nice AM(C) also scoring a Hat Tricks worth of goals in the 32nd, 64th and 74th minute.  However, a Biakolo brace of goals in the 37th and 70th minute PK gave us the 2 goal win.   I'm still not sure how it happened.

Auxerre played us tough all match, and it was a great back and forth game.  There were a ton of highlights in this game, Austin and Cardinale, the Auxerre keeper, had some great saves.  A MArco Schneider goal in the 55th minute gave L'Aux a 1-0 lead, but Marco equalized in the 74th minute, an Carter pass to Gomes on the wing, and a cross that landed right in front of Marco who was six yard out.

Stade Rennais FC are the "Tueurs géants" of Ligue 1.  The past three years, they have beaten either Monaco or PSG at least once, and have tied them 75% of the other times.  This year they've beaten PSG, and they always play us tough.  I played a partially rotated squad, but the defense held tough, and goals by Sweeney and Carter gave us a 2-1 win.  Sweeney was hurt this game, as was Addo, both out 1 to 3 weeks.  Then disaster:

Capture1.thumb.JPG.53c80b8c130038fa93e474590c97bb13.JPG

Not one to do things by half measures, he had to get a double hernia.  And it's not that he's indispensable, Sweeney is turning into a very good player, and training him as a Complete Forward he's made some excellent progress, but he's  injured this week. not ready for a full match.  And Saint_Etienne has finally gotten it's legs back under itself, and is improving, again.

However, the midfield and defense stepped up their game.  Sweeney scored in the 38th minute, then Biakolo added a 2nd in the 46th minute.  A Cannizzaro goal in the 74th minute took away the shutout, but we won.  Barely.

With Sweeney barely able to stand and Marco out, my next option at Striker is Luís Andriavelomiarina.  I don't know about you, but I fins it easier to say his last name when I am just on the wrong side if drunk.  He's got potential.  He's 17 years old.  So, no.  I could recall Van Duijn, but he'd be here three, four weeks tops, and then would complain about not getting playing time.  I looked at going Strikerless, but then I saw that Ransford Amoako, whose been my tsarting Ball Winning Midfielder most of the season, plays Defensive forward, really well.  It's about the only role as a striker he's good at.  And because I have a decent amount of depth at my midfielders position, I threw caution to the wind and said "Lets see what happens." when we played Toulouse.  2 goals and an 8.8 rating later, I'm seriously wondering if I shouldn't have been playing him all along.  A Jan K PK in the 33rd minute, and Amoako's goals in the 51st and 53rd, gave us a 3-1 lead, but Adegenro's 2nd goal in the 60th and a De Marchi goal in the 72nd forced the tie, and we couldn't pull the victory out.

Amoako as a DF is really giving the other teams some fits, which has allowed my AM's to get some very good chances.  Against LOSC both goals, one by Addo and the other by Oliver, were scored when the defenders douled down on Ransford, leaving an open shot available.  Austin was brilliant between the posts, and we came away with a nice 2-0 win

The good times kept going against En Avant De Guingamp, as Addo scored again, and then Amoako's 93rd minute goal putting the final nail in what was a very good game to watch.  Avant had their chances, but the Defense was on it's 'A' Game (Average rating, 7.3), and we had another shutout.

And while this was going on, we also had our Champions League games.

Our Playoff Leg Opponent was IF Elfsborg, who we beat last Year in Europa League play.  They could be a dangerous team, I wasn't going to under estimate them.  However, much like last year, they fell apart after some early difficulty.  Two Quick goals in ten minutes at home saw the Swedish team falter, and we romped to a 5-0 win.  Carter, Amoako(playing M(C), Jan K, Marco, and Otocka with the goals.  A Week Later, in Sweden, they didn't put up much of a fight.  After Marco scored in the 41st minute, they sat back the rest of the game, and we let them, securing the 6-0 Aggregate win.

Next up, Group Stages, as a 3rd seed.  And this was our draw:

Capture2.thumb.JPG.3db80862a88c15e2b2863d4341ca00bb.JPG
 

Champions League Football.  It's Fantastic!

Maybe we can eke out a 3rd.  I'd be happy with a 3rd.

First up, Barcelona, who was coming to our house.

Barca1.thumb.JPG.cfa48ffecead773c0a602c9247ce4127.JPG

I can live with this.  In fact, I'm ecstatic over this.  We hung in with a world powerhouse, and played them pretty evenly.

Next up, FC Kobenhaven, away.

Koben1.thumb.JPG.c7db27642aa0b9791fbc64baeecd510f.JPG

Now, honestly, what about this says to you "7-2 Victory"?  Carter had a bracer, Jan K had a brace, Marco had a brace, and Addo had a goal as well. It was 3-1 at half.  Maybe there's and added incentive playing a team from one of the Nordic countries.  Vikings raided Dunkerque off and on for a few centuries, maybe we're just getting something back?

Then came Napoli, at home.  

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I was so wrapped up in watching this game I forgot to make a substitution throughout the entire match, and I also failed to realize I had Sweeney playing out of position, because I screwed up when making moves in the Tactics screen.  Jan K. got things off to a quick start with a shot in the 5th minute, Biakolo added a goal in the 38th minute.  After Kean scored in the 64th minute for Napoli, the pucker factor the reso of the game was very high.  They had a couple of chances as time wound down, but were unable to push it across.

Halfway thru the Group stage, and we're in 2nd place.  Not only that, but our goal differential is fantastic thanks to the Kobenhaven game.

Next up, away at Napoli.

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We threw this game away.  I literally got up and walked away from the laptop, and had to go rinse my mouth because I was absolutely disgusted by the result.  46 minutes in, and we are up 2-0 thanks to a brace of goals by Marco.  Then, in the space of 13 minutes, Napoli goes ahead 3-2, a brace of Calleri goals and a Martinez goal putting them ahead.  Andrei Lung equalized in the 74th minute, when an Addo shot was deflected by the goalkeeper and landed right in front of him, but we threw this game away.  We had it in the bag, and we threw it away.  

Next up, away at Barcelona, in front of 95K fans.  

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Now, 5 minutes into this match, I would have thought we were going to win, because we were up 2-0, thanks to Jan K and James Cater.  Then Barca remembered they were Barca, and they just wore us down.  Gaxiola scored in the 10th minute, Fawzy in the 79th, and Icardi in the 86th minute gave them the 3-2 lead.  A little salt in the wound for me here, as Icardi spent a few seasons at PSG and always had a good day against us it seems.  

I was down after this match, then I looked at the standings.  We were in 2nd, on goal differential.  Napoli had beatean Barca 2-1, Kobenhaven had tied Barca (?!) .  If Napoli beat Barca in their last Match, they would take first, and then 2nd would be between Barca and us.  If we won, it would come down to goal differential, and then goals scored, and my 7 goal outburst against Kobenhaven put us ahead of everybody.  There were a lot of scenarios, but I could still come in 3rd if the stars aligned the wrong (or right depending on your POV) way.

So, last game of the Group stages, at Home against Kobenhaven.

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Boom.

This, this was a classic Les Bleus claw yourself to Victory game.

Amoako scored in the 3rd minute, then De Jong, Zacho, and Burkart all scored in the first half, and we were down 3-1, and in 3rd place.  I yelled at the boys at halftime, and everyone went bright green.

47th minute, Amoako scored.

50th minute, Amoako gets his Hat Trick, and we move back into 2nd place

63rd minute, Jan K scores, 84th minute, Sweeney scores, and we get the 5-3 win.

And second place in Group E, behind Barca

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Oh, I was riding high.

In the middle of all this, our training grounds were completed, again.  And two days later I went to the board and asked them to improve the training grounds, and they agreed!

And we're improving our youth facilities, again.

And then Andrei Lung came into the office and said "Gaffer, I've accomplished all I can at this level of football, I want to move on to a bigger and better team."

Are you G*&^!@n kidding me?  Seriously?  You're the Start D(R) on one of the best young teams in one of the best leagues in European football, and we're not good enough for you?  After I paid €16.5 MIllion Euros for you?  And your making 35K a week in Salary, with a 20% yearly raise.  

Seriously, are you effin kidding me?  Right after we Qualify out of the group, and we aren't big enough for you?

So I put a 40M price tag on him.  And all of the sudden my games are teeming with Wolfsburg and Athletico Madrid Scouts.  But he's not going to a French Team if I can help it.

And then Christmas rolls around, and the First Knockout round draw is made.  Celtic would be fun, they are the only team that's scored more goals than we have thus far in the League.  Man Unitied, Man City...but no.

We get:

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Only the defending Champions of the Championship League.

Happy Friggin New Year....

Against All Odds, we're still a small team, according to Lung.

Thanks for Reading and Following!

Jellico73

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What a Christmas present....

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5 hours ago, BoxToBox said:

What a Christmas present....

No Kidding.

I still don't understand the logic behind this.

Minor spoiler alert - I ended up moving him to Wolfsburg.  For about €3M less than PSG were offering.  You want to go, sure, but you not going to a team in le Ligue.

Jellico73

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38 Ligue 1 Games played.  

27 wins.

8 draws.

3 losses.

82 goals for, 38 goals against, a 44 point goal differential.

89 overall points.

A Champions League Berth.

And what does that get me?

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More details to come at a later date.  I have to go sleep the sour taste of this success out of my mouth.  The scotch certainly hasn't worked.

Man, this was close.

Jellico73

 

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To celebrate his 10'th year ingame and the progress he has made @Jellico73 asked me to design a home and away shirt for the team.

After a couple of messages I had a pretty clear idea of what to do. The home shirt incorporate the dolphin from the logo in the design, while the away shirt is a more traditional shirt. All sponsors are companies from around Dunkirk.

@Jellico73, if you want something different, please tell me :)

 

1.png

2.png

usl-dunkerque.zip

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