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[FM17] Against All Odds - USL Dunkerque

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Posted (edited)

"Against All Odds - Les Bleus et Blancs"

USL_Dunkerque.jpg.8119c9623f097fa8fdd99b9b691d573e.jpg

 

The transition at the club continues, and there have been some changes at Dunkerque.  Some of them may even be very good changes, but we will have to wait and see.

If there's one thing that bugs me about this save, (well, honestly there's a few things that bug me about FM, but that's another post), it's that despite our world wide stature, club rankings, club reputation and the like, the moment a "Historically" good team comes calling, my players want to leave.  

I mean honestly, this is where Dunkerque is this season:

AJI4nGi.jpg

We're top 3 in Ligue 1 almost every season, were competitive in all the Cups and tournaments, we have had and are continuing to have success.  We are a world wide brand.  We are big, and getting bigger.  We are 1st in Club Coefficient, 3rd in Reputation, 15th in finances, Ligue 1 is the 3rd ranked competition in Europe, and France has moved up to 2nd in the nation coefficients as well.  But Inter or Juve or Real Madrid come make an offer, and my guys want to bolt.  Makes no sense.

Anyhows, I was very active in the transfer window again.  With the moves I made last year I had a substantial transfer budget, almost 188M, but I was holding off on spending most of it.

I did spend a lot of time on the Free Agent market, and found some keepers I think.  I also spent a chunk of change on a player who may never see full time here in Dunkerque.  Guess that means I finally made the big time....

The only offseason not of significance was Jan K tearing his Achilles at the beginning of June, and being out for three months.  I don't know how much longer he's going to be able to play, he's down to 2 1/2 stars, but I am not sending him anywheres.

That said, training started, and then the transfer window opened, and I got busy.

First, the IN's:

NBLcVIT.jpg

David Dennis is a Hot prospect I bought from Red Star FC.  Maybe paying $425K for him was a bit much at this point in time, but he looks like he has a bright future ahead of him.

Tom Weißenberger (WB(R)), Killian Leonard (AM(R)), Johan Wolters (AM(C)), David Bilbao (D(C)), Efrain Villa (AM(C)), Samuel Rogers (AM(C)) and Jay Wells (ST)) are in different camps of players.  The first camp is older players who are OK with being Reserve team regulars and backups, and are pretty nice tutors as well.  Jay Wells and Sam Rogers are in this camp.  Weißenberger, Leonard, and Wolters are at least two star current players with some potential who are in the "Loan them out to develop if you can camp", get some playing time while in Dunkerque camp.

There is a familiar name here as well.  Martin Otocka was sitting out there available on a Free.  We sold him to Leicester in 2025/2026 for €12M, and three seasons later they sold him to Swansea for €16M.  He never played a full season for them, and was let go after five mediocre years.  He's primarily a tutor, but he still plays a solid DM and M(C).

Out first IN we spent money on was Geir Zetterlund Nilsen, a 4 star CA, 4 star PA DM/M(C) from Norway.  Professional, Good stats across the board, it's hard to say spending 20M is a steal, but in this case I think it is.

Especially when you compare him to Paul Canavan, who I paid Watford 30M for.  Another DM, my scouts told me 4 was a 22 yo 2 star current, 4 star potential player.  So I signed him, and after I did he went to 2 star current, 2 1/2 star potential.    I paid €30M for a guy who, at best, is going to be a backup for us.  That, in a word, sucks.

Efrain Villa is this years Marco Tumminello.  A 20 year old Mexican International with 15 apps and 2 goals already, 4 star current 5 star potential AM(C) who can also play AM(R), M(C) and Striker?  On a free?  How fast can I click that button?

Jay Wells came in late in the year.  Also on a Free, the 2 1/2 star Striker is primarily a tutor, but will get some playing time.

Now, the sharp eyed readers of this thread will notice that I signed a lot of DM/M(C) players.  Why?

Here's why:

mlXQI6d.jpg

I'm going to take these in order.

Steve Julliard came is as a 2 star D(C), and left as a 2 star D(C).  After failing to crack the lineup here on a regular basis, I stuck him on the reserves, and he was great.  Last season L'HAC wanted him on loan, and he was..average.  I tried loaning him out again this season, but FC Utrecht came in with a €1.4M offer, for a player I got on a free.  Didn't think twice about this one.

Amar Belhani is a 20 year old M(C) who 2 star CA, 3 1/2 star PA made him look like he had potential, but he never really did a lot.  Last season I loaned him out to RC Strasbourg, and in 32 games he averaged a 6.57.  I was clearing some roster spoace, and just put him out there for his estimated value, and FC Lorient picked him up quick.  Now he's valued at 350k.  I may have missed on this one. 

Hrvoje Mihaljevic had three solid seasons for us at D(R)/WB(R), and was well worth the €3.5M we paid to Monaco for him.  Last season he was injured, and wasn't getting a lot of playing time, so I loaned him to Roma, but they didn't play him all that much.  Then he comes to me and says "Real Madrid is interested in me, I'd like to leave for a bigger club."  See rant above for my reaction to this.  In for 3.5, out for 19M.  Thats not to bad at all, is it?

Liridon Gurma came in as a DM, and I trained him to be a D(C).  But then he topped out at 2 stars, and was never a full time starter for us.  Last season I loaned him to Braga, and he had a solid season, so I put him on the transfer market, and Real Sociedad picked him up for €3.8M.

Bayern came in hard for Mark Bijl.  Scouted him, GM sat in the stands, players called him out in the press...and he comes to me and says "I want to go to a bigger club."  And granted, Bayer is ranker higher in some areas.  So I put a 60M tag on him, and then Bayer, Bayern, Arsenal, Barcelona and Stoke (I think it was Stoke) all came in at the €60M.  So I accepted them all, and he chose to go to Arsenal, who have been a Top 3 team in the Premier League this last decade.  I tried keeping him, tried a new contract, but he wasn't budging from his "I want to go to a bigger club!" Mantra.  His is the record fee at the club.

Farshi Sharifi.  Got him on a free from Ingolstadt.  A 2 star CA, 3 star PA DM/M(C), he never stepped on the pitch at Dunkerque.  He spent a year in Hoffenheim and was horrible, then soent another year at Feynoord where he played 11 games and averaged a 6.69.  Everytime I went to talk at him he responded like I was crazy for not only loaning him out, but not immediately bringing him back and putting him in the starting XI.  He had a string of games where he averaged at best a 6.35 for Feyenoord, and when I took him to task about his poor performance, he was all "I'm playing great, you're blind, go away."  So I sold him to Stuttgart for €13.75M.  Couple that with the 2.8M I got in fees while he was out on loan.

Marco Tulio I loaned out to Swansea last spring, and they had a clause to pick him up for €9.75M at the end of the loan.  And despite his poor performances and a 6.43 Average, they kept him on.  We signed him for €14.25M, and Swansea paid a total of €11.15M to get him, not too bad.

I had plans for Pavel Bykov.  Him going to a "Bigger club with more opportunities to win." was not a plan.  After loan stints at Dnipro, and Benfica, Barcelona offered 12M for him, and after he signed the turned around and loaned him out to LOSC, where he has sat on the bench all season.  Serves him right.

Erdoğan Karahan wanted more first team playing time, and after Kolarek's injury last season he got a decent amount of it.  He was really good is a limited role last season, 10 appearences, 8 goals, 7 assists, but Sheffield United came in with a 7.5M offer, and I couldn't say no to that, especially with Quartey on the roster now.

At best, Sasa Velanac was going to be my 5th AM(C).  Even after loan stints at Lokeren, CS Ardennes and Berrichone, he wasn't improving.  En Avant offered €1.2M for him, and he's having an OK season for them.

Mael DUrand, I had high hopes for him.  He was never going to be a 5 star player, but he was solid at the Center and left sides of the forward pitch, and could be a very valuable rotation player.  In 2031/32 he had a fine season, 20 appearances, 1 goal, 8 assists playing mostly AM(C) and AM(L), but even though he has 3 1/2 star potential, he's never gone beyond 2 stars the past three seasons, even with playing time.  I put him on the market and OM came in for €3.1M, less than he was worth, but as I got him on a free...He's having an OK season for them (They have fallen on some hard times and are in Ligue 2), which is nice.

I brought Ralf Mainka in on the understanding he would be a backup and a tutor, and he was OK with that for 1/2 of the season, the he started agitating for 1st team time.  He pouted the rest of the season, and then I loaned him to Zulte Wagram, where he was decidely mediocre in 28 games.  FC Augsburg made an unsolicited offer of 750K for him, and I had no troubles letting him go.

Once again, we were very active loaning players out.  Those players not on a monthly fee have some, if not all, of their salary being paid by the team they are being loaned to.  The only exception are the players at Dessel (AKA USL Dunkerque Belgium this season).  All of them were free's.

S9iJKE0.jpg

No real surprises here.  In fact, more than a few of them are on their last contract here at Dunkerque.  Gibeon maybe saw the writing on the wall and asked for more first team playing time, and he's having a good season at Başakşehir.  Grishin is having a 7.0 season at Ajaccio, while Kontos has 15 goals in 22 games for the Ligue 2 team as their primary striker.  

Raab is absolutely stinking up the pitch at Sociedad, averaging a 6.2, and I am of the opinion he's better off doing that there instead of here.  

Quartey I wanted to develop as soon as I can, and because I primarily play 1 striker formations here, that wasn't going to happen.  I put him out on loan, wanting to see which teams would go for him.  Last season he went to STVV in Belgium, and was OK (7 goals in 21 appearances and a 6.63), and this time around FC Uterecht snapped him up.  They were 2nd in the Eredivisie last season, and he got plenty of first team playing time for a club with superb facilities.  In 19 games for the Dutch side he had 13 goals and a 7.14 rating.  8 more goals and he would have set the team record for goals scored, but I recalled him in January.

There were some others going on with the team as well.  Last season a consortium from France looked at taking over the club, but decided not to.

In early August, this popped up:

dbi1cvw.jpg

But then, three days later:

wuQTm4C.jpg

Which is fine.  At least it didn't get dragged out.

So, the season got off to an OK start.  This year we did friendlies at out West Coast and Korean Affiliates, then a tour of North Africa, and then Roma called looking for a friendly and I said sure.  Then the Ligue 1 season kicked off.

k1yUyJW.jpg

I played mostly U20's at Al-Merreikh, a Sudanese Premier League team.  In the last 21 years, they won their league twice, finished 3rd twice, and finished 2nd 17 times.  That my youths and reserves kept them held to a draw...I don't know if that speaks to the quality of my team or the quality of their League, but in looking at the recap, we had 18 shots to their 2, so, draw your own conclusions.

If the Roma game weren't a friendly I would have been more upset.  We were tied 1-1 at the half, then Kolarek put us ahead with a 54th minute goal.  Roma then scored in the 55th, 90th, and 92nd minute to eke out a draw, after we dominated them most of the game.

The Trophée des Champions is an annual contest between the Ligue 1 Winners and the winner of the Coup de France.  As a result we've played it a alot.  The one thing I do like about it is that its always held at a neutral site, and since 2009 has been played around the world as well, to put French Football in front of as many eyes as possible.  This year we played in Charleroi, but in the past we've played in Geneva, Kinshasha, Brazzaville, Lome, Antananarivo.  It's also been held in Can Tho, Brussels, Dakar, Inchon.  I don't think we get a lot of TV revenue from it, but every shirt sold is always a bonus.

This year we played against PSG, and I like starting the season with a win against Jose.  I don't like him, he doesn't like me, and to be honest I am always needling him in the press conferences.  He's my new Remi Garde (for those long time followers of the save).  Beating them 2-1 on a brace of Carter goals was nice, but our young superstar AM(C) Didier N'Guessan broke his foot in the 30th minute, and was going to be 

We got off to a quick start, beating Racing Club and Stade Malherbe Caen by a combined 6-0.

The Slavan Bilic and Olympique Lyonnais, who are going to be tough against everyone this season, held us without a goal and beat us 1-0.

In other Ligue 1 news AS Nancy Lorraine are also having a very good season, fighting for a Champions League spot.  

L'OL was also the game we lost Miki for 5 months with a damaged Achilles.  Which is OK, I have some capable replacements, Wolters most likely because I am retraining Villa to be an AM(R) to take over for Jan K.

AS Nancy Lorraine played us tough, and we only made it worse for ourselves when Bohm got sent off in the 69th minute.  By then w were 2-1 down, but Villa cam thru with a fine shot in the 62nd minute, and then in the 80th minute Kolarek scored (with the help of some poor keeper play, on a long assist from Gobel.

I swear he has at least five of these sorts of goals a season.

PSG got their revenge on us a week later, with two second half goals giving them the 2-1 win.  The other bad part of this game was Arrieta getting injured in the 93rd minute of a 93 minute game, breaking his wrist and missing the next 8 weeks.  Cinetti is an OK backup, but not one I want to trust the rest of my season too.

After that came an 11 game winning streak in Ligue 1.  James Carter and Petar Kolarek have really become world class players, and Kolareks 5 goal performance against OGC Nice really put him on the map.  After this was when Man City started making overtures for him again.  We were beating the good teams, and thrashing the bad teams (7-2 against 16th ranked Nice, 5-0 against a Tours team that was 6th at the time, 5-0 against bottom of the table Troyes).  The only real minus in all of this was that Wolters, who was playing AM(C) for us, went out after the PSG game with an ankle injury for two months, but this was also the time Jan K came back, and he's still a pretty capable AM(C).

I knew our first real test during this run was going to be Monaco, and was really looking forward to that game.

But then, after we thrashed Troyes some interesting news came across the wire:

1A1lfbk.jpg

Monaco has a good team, and it was a very even game, but a Lucas Cano goal in the 73rd minute gave them the edge.  Didn't help that Nilsen went out with an ankle injury, that turned into him missing 6 weeks, and I was feeling a bit down.

Then this came across the wires:

XVd1nJX.jpg

Now, 155M is very nice.  It's about what I have in the transfer budget already.  

Mousa Al-Mousa I believe is Arabic for "I am sitting on a pile of oil money and have bought all the cars, jets and yachts I need and need a new hobby."  (I know it means Mousa son of Mousa, I'm just kidding here).

But I want to call Jose up and say "My Saudi is going to spend more than yours, so go suck an egg Jose!"

And then, on the 24th of December:

eXZkIhC.jpg

To which all I can say is:

 

Joyeux Noël à nous.

A Very merry Christmas indeed.  

Now, from a realistic perspective, what does this mean.  Les Bleus are already a force in Domestic and Continental soccer, with top flight facilities, a top flight stadium, and good commercial value.  I think what this will mean for me is that I won't be restricted when negotiating for worlds class players.  I mean, look what hoops I had to jump thru to keep Kolarek in a Les Bleus kit.  Man City is coming after him, and they can pay him 300K a week before any other fees and the like.  The most I could pat for him last season when I resigned him was 170K a week.  It took some creative fee numbers to get him to stay, and hopefully with this new owner, I won't be throwing my back out twisting and turning and jumping thru hoops to keep my good players here.

After this good news, we got back to our winning ways, beating Nantes and Caen, and thumping Racing Club 4-0 at the start of the winter break.

Champions League were doing really well.  We keep playing this way and we have a good chance of winning it all again.  

We had a pretty tough group, with Porto, Schalke, and Dinamo Zagreb.  Part of me wants to say Zagreb being in our group was a bit of Kismet, after all we paid them 1.5M for Kolarek, and now he's the best striker on the planet.  

aGJLLdD.jpg

I think we did what was expected of us.  Thumping Porto 4-0 at home was a great way to start the group stage off, and although Kolarek didn't score against his old team, he did have two assists.  The first match at Schalke looks bad, but we did play them very well, the score was 1-1 until the 66th minute, when Fiador put them ahead 2-1.  Gobel went out with an injury a couple of minute later, and then Stefano Benvenuti scored the final goal for them.  We got even with them in the next match, Kolarek and Villa both with a brace.  

The Porto game was frustrating, in that hey scored in the 1st minute, then sat the rest of the match.  If I weren't already ahead I'd have been more upset, but they didn't even try to win, even after scoring so quickly.  The last game against Zagreb they didn't even try.  we had 21 shots, 7 on goal.  

So, where do we stand on the season?

Well, this is the first week of February:

B3xtpVc.jpg

PSG being in 3rd isn't that big a surprise, L'OL has been very good the past few seasons, finishing 4th or 3rd.

Preseason press conference I said Auxerre was going to challenge for a Cup spot, shows how little I know about such things.

The big surprise is Nancy Lorraine.  The got back into Ligue 1 in 2031, finished 14th, then 17th, and now they are 5th, and look to keep it.  

PSG and Monaco being as off as they are though is a surprise.

But, I'll play the rest of the season out tomorrow, and see what happens.

Against All Odds, we got a rich Uncle!

Thanks for reading, sorry for the post confusion.

Jellico73

 

Edited by Jellico73

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Hit save by accident.

 

More coming in the above post after edits.  Sorry for the confusion.

 

Jellico

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OK, apologies for the confusion, but the original post above is finished.  Don;t know why, but the board sometimes won't add a link, and the only way to get it in is save and edit, unless I am missing a trick.

Thanks for reading, 

Jellico73

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"Against All Odds - Les Bleus et Blancs"

USL_Dunkerque.jpg.8119c9623f097fa8fdd99b9b691d573e.jpg

 

The transfer budget was already about €200M when our new rich owner arrived, and part of felt like it would be a shame if I didn't go out and spend some of it.  After all, it can't be refilled if it's not empty, right?

First, the transfers in:

x2ll1FL.jpg

Alexander Fritz in a 3 star CA/3 star PA Austrian international who can play anywhere on the right side fairly well, and plays the attacking Fullback/Wingback very well.  He had a solid career at 1. FSV Mainz before being transfer listed, but he's already better than the D(R)'s I have.  

Kevin Giraud is a 3 star CA/5 Star PA DM/M(C).  FC Nantes listed him for some reason, and I snapped him up.  I'm playing a couple of formations now that require a good rotation at his positions to keep players fit, and he's the best BWM of the team.  With his Leadership and Teamwork, I suspect he'll be taking over the Captaincy from Jan K here soon as well.

Felipe Arrieta lost a half star somewheres, and I am not sure why.  He's been on the right side of solid to good, and while he'll never be another Florian Ameskamp, he's done very well for us the past five seasons.  Then Giannis Loukos caught my eye, when he started for the Greek National team at 17.  I followed him, then last season scouted him, then had the GM sit in on his games, then made an offer, and when Olympiakos turned my enquiry down, he and his teammates protested.  A Few weeks later I signed him for 11M.  Feels kind of dirty to be on this side of that process, but he does look good.  I'll probably have himbe the Reserve Team keeper, and switch out with Arrieta as well.

The last month of the season before winter break turned into a dog fight, as there were

The other players I brought in were all youngsters that were out on Free's.  Not sure why, and they may never play for us, but I have the roster slots...

The outs may look impressive, but they aren't really, well, other than the obvious.

oqrvizc.jpg

All the Free's are Youth or Reserve layers with 2 star or less PA.  I tried loaning them out, but had no takers.  Fredy Paredes was upset he wasn't getting all the playing time, and then Bayern came in and offered 32M for him.  WIth my new additions, I didn't have a problem letting him go.

All the loan players have their salaries being paid by the team they went to.  This season we bought €121M in players, and we sold/loaned €164M.  €92M of that was my starting midfield from last season....

I did recall Quartey from Utrecht, as I wanted to try and give Kolarek a break every once and awhile.  Plus I think I found a 2 striker/wingback formation I like, and I needed some depth at striker back home.

Our youth intake was horrible.  Again.

aJvaq5r.jpg

I don't care how good my HOYD looks on paper.  This is his last year, I am not renewing his contract.

The season was turning into a dogfight, as there were five teams challenging for the top spots.  I thought it was going to boil down to who stumbled the least, and we were fortunate that a lot of the teams we were up against still had to play each other again.

Our heros this year were, again, Olympique Lyonnais.  Slaven Bilic and L'OL have finished 6th or better every season since I started the save, but they have always been the perennial bridesmaids of the Liguem finishing 2nd 3 times, 3rd 4 times, 4th 5 times, 5th three times and 6th twice.  In a League with Monaco, PSG, and now us, thats not bad.  They always play everyone tough, and I always look forward to playing them.  This season they beat PSG, Monaco, Nantes, Nancy Lorraine and Les Bleus, and their win at PSG gave us the top spot in Ligue 1.  Several times teams came close to tying us, and in April PSG was actually on top because of goal differential, then L'OL beat them at the Parc, giving us a lead we didn't relinquish:

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Which lead to this:

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This is out 6th Ligue 1 title in 7 years, which is pretty incredible now that I stop to think about it.

I would like to mention AS Nancy Lorraine for a second.  All season they were contending for a Cup spot, for awhile they had a lock on third place, but they had a horrible March and April, winning just 1 game while drawing 3 and losing 3.  They ended up with the same record as Nantes, but missed out on qualifying for a League spot because Nantes had a better goal differential.  Although I think because of the stature of French Football worldwide, the team in 7th does qualify for the Europa League Qualifying...

 

Aside from the 4-1 thrashing PSG gave us, we had some very good games.  4-1 at Nice, 5-0 at Montpellier, 6-0 at l'HAC, 5-3 against Monaco.  We had a couple of scares as well.  The 3-3 at Tours we threw away the win, as they scored in the 91st minute.  Troyes was leading 1-0 until the 67th minute, when Quartey equalized and then Bohm put us ahead on a corner kick volley.    Kolarek and Carter seemed to be scoring at will sometimes, but even when they had their off days other players stepped up.

In the Cup games, well, we got lucky, more than once.

In the Coupe De France:

aI88O6n.jpg

We needed penalty kicks to get by Stade Rennais in the Tenth round, which was a surprise, because they basically owned us all game, we had a grand total of 7 shots, 2 on target.  They had 18 shots, but only 3 on target, and that ratio was kept into the penalty kicks, as they only mananged to put one past Loukos.

Two games later Nancy Lorraine took us to extra time, but they ran out of gas in the extra period.  Kolarek's second goal opened a floodgate, and 7 minutes later we had put another two on the board to win.  

Kolarek came thru for us again in the semi's, his 87th minute screamer giving us the win, against...Stade Brestois 29?

The relegated Stade Brestois 29?  Looks like all the bigger clubs lost in the earlier rounds, and we faced a not so very good team in the final.  They tried though, but our defense was stout, and goals by Roger and N'Guessan put the game out of reach, and we won our third trophy.

The Coupe de la Ligue was a tough road again.

SaWV3Vs.jpg

Tours played us tough, and then we faced the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place teams in the Ligue in the ensuing rounds.  Samuel Roger had a great game against L'OL, with a brace of goals.  Didier's 3rd minute goal, and some brilliant saves by Arrieta saw us thru to the final, where we faced PSG.

Otocka's 4th minute goal off a set piece seemed to shake them, and Carters goal four minutes later took them completely out of the game.  Kolarek's goal in the 66th minute was off a Carter assist with 5 PSG players surrounding him, which tells you what you need to know about the course of the game.  And we won our fourth trophy of the season.

Champions League we were doing well, getting out of our group relatively healthy.

FjzywMf.jpg

Didier was the main reason we got past Internazionale, as his away goal saw us through the round to face West Ham in the Quarters.  They played us tough, shutting us down after Kolarek's first goal in the first game, and then it took some very late game heroics by Kolarek in the 89th minute, dribbling between four defenders and wrongfooting the keeper saw us thru.  To face Man United.

The same Man United that's been going hard after Kolarek all season.  

They have some of the best players in the save, and they have one of the best keepers as well, Florian Amkeskamp.  They lost two games in the Premier League, allowing just 22 goals.  In all the major leagues I have loaded, only one team allowed in fewer goals, and that was Olympique Lyonnais, at 21. 

I was expecting a defensive struggle, I wasn't expecting a 4-3 win and then a 3-2 win.  I think the first game was made a little more special because Andrei Lung, formerly of Les Bleus, had an own goal.  Tangent here, lung wne to Wolfsburg for 21.5M, played 3 years there and went to Chelsea for 45.5M.  He spent three years there, then went to Bayern Munich for 63M.  He spent two years in Bayern.  Played 0 games in two years, because Bayern plays a 3-4-3.   They sold him to Man U for 18.25M.  

So, with those victories, we earned the right to face Barcelona in the Champions League Finals.  They came out of a Group that had Monaco, West Ham and Rangers, then beat Man City and Benfica, and then beat PSG in the semi's to face us in Amsterdam.

It wasn't our best game.  Barca attacked from the beginning, and we were outshot 16/8 to 6/3, and they had a 61%/39% possession.  Sabac scored for them in the 50th, but Carter equalized in the 55th, and extra time also went without a goal scored.  So it was down to penalty kicks:

sGiDWcs.jpg

Which gave us this:

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This our second quintuple.

But the awards kept rolling in:

  • Carter won Best Ligue 1 player
  • N'Guessan was named best African player in Ligue 1
  • Dario Ferreira of PSG took Ligue 1 Top goal scorer, but Kolarek were 2nd and 3rd.
  • Kolarek won the European Golden Boot
  • John Kontos, an Aussie I loaned out to AC Ajaccio, was named Ligue 2 Revelation, and top goalscorer with 21 goals.
  • Mohammed Quartey played only a half season at Utrecht, but came in 2nd place for Dutch young player of the year.
  • Kolarek won the World Player of the Year (Ballon d'Or?).  Carter was 3rd in the voting
  • Carter won best player in Europe, Kolarek came in 2nd
  • Kolarek averaged a 7.80, a new rating record.

In my save, hands down, Petar Kolarek is the best player in Football.   At 24 years old, he has 139 goals in 182 appearances, 36 caps and 17 goals for the Croatian National Team.  In 50 appearances across all competitions this season, he had 46 goals, 18 assists, 14 POM's, and a 7.80 rating.  He averaged a goal in game in Ligue 1 play, and a 7.92 rating.  Man City is trying to get him to go there, but I may just break my "Lets do what the player wants" rule in his case.

James Carter has really come into his own the past two years.  In 51(2) appearances across all competitions this season, he had 33 goals, 24 assists, went 5 for 5 on PK's, had 15 POM's, and a 7.80 rating.

Didier N'Guessan missed 3 months with a broken foot, but playing AM(C) in 36(2) appearances across all competitions this season he had 10 goals, 7 assists, 6 POM's and a 7.26 rating.

Efrain Villa missed 2 months with a broken shoulder, but playing AM(R) In 39(2) appearances across all competitions this season he had 10 goals, 12 assists, and a 7.08 rating.

Jan K is on the last legs of a long and brilliant career.  He's down to 2 stars, but I can't let him go, I want him to retire as a member of Les Bleus.  In 20(3) appearances across all competitions this season he had 2 goals, 6 assists, and a 7.07 rating.

Samuel Roger also played AM(C) and In 28(3) appearances across all competitions this season, he had 11 goals, 3 assists, 2 POM's and a 7.19 rating.

In a half season, Mohammed Quartey had 9 goals, 2 assists, 2 POM's and a 7.25 rating.

Geir Zetterlund Nilsen had a very productive first season at Dunkerque.  In 47(2) appearances across all competitions he had 1 goal, 4 assists, and a 7.17 rating.  He was very solid on defense.  

Kevin Giraud and Martin Otocka also had solid second halfs.  Giraud had 3 assists and a 7.25 rating, playing a BWM DM.  Otocka was also solid defensively, and ended with a 7.06 rating.  

I rotated quite a few players on the defensive line all season.  Dirk Gobel was one of the two stalwarts, In 56(1) appearances across all competitions he had 2 goals, 2 assists, 2 POM's, 10 yellows, 1.81 tackles per game and a 7.33 rating.

Pascal Vincent was the other defensive stalwart.  In 58 appearances across all competitions he had 1 goals, 7 assists, 3 POM's, 12 yellows, 2.36 tackles per game and a 7.45 rating.

Arrieta had another solid season between the sticks, in 46 appearances across all competitions he allowed 41 goals, had 2 PK's, 21 shutouts, a POM and a 6.97 rating.

 

This next season will be my 19th at the helm of Les Bleus.  Thierry has played 996 games, and won 642 of them.  

I think what I am going to do is play 20 full seasons, then retire, and them sim 10 seasons worth of games, to see how my replacement does.

Then it's off to a new adventure.

 

Thanks for reading and following!

 

Jellico73

 

 

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I think we've finally made the big time.

Man City has been coming hard after Kolarek.  GM sitting at all the games, pleas from players saying "Come to Manchester, it's like Dunkrik, but bigger..."

They mad an offer for him.  

€84M up front, €25M over 24 months.  

And I turned them down.

And from the locker room?

Crickets.  No ones upset, nooses complaining, and that includes Kolarek.

Maybe this high club ranking and stature finally means something....

Jellico73

 

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Had to go away for a week for work.  Couldn't take the personal laptop with me.

IT manager was more than a bit miffed when I asked him why he was taking his personal laptop this week in front of all the supervisors.

It's always nice to wipe the "smug" of someones face.

Jellico73

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"Against All Odds - Les Bleus et Blancs"

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So, after a week of surprise travel, interspersed with celebrating the "First Brexit", Les Bleus are back in action.

First, some end of season awards from last season:

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I would have thought Kolarek would have won this, but in retrospect, Carter is a very well rounded player, and has turned in some incredible performances despite being injured the past couple of seasons.  

Despite out new Oil Rich Papa-gâteau, I didn't go on a spending spree this transfer season, but I did bring in a few players:

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I let quite a few players go at the end of the year.  Most were older 1-2 star players on the Reserve team that weren't going to have a future here, and rather than sign them all to even more expensive contracts, I let them go.  That left my Reserve Team very thin, so I set out to find some more capable replacement players.

Roberto Cerri comes from L'OL on a free, 2 star Current 3/12 star potential AM(R), he's my rotation backup, and should see some first team playing time.

Paul Rutten is a Belgian International, 30 years old, and plays a solid Striker.  2 1/2 star current, 2 1/2 star potential, he's the lead striker for the reserve team, and a very good tutor.   He should get some first team starts against teams in the bottom of the Ligue.

Jean Marc Verdier is a 23 year old DM who can play D(R) and M(C) as well.  Only a 1 1/2 star player, 2 1/2 star potential, he's a reserve team player, and maybe trade bait.

Bigger Kalonji is a 2 star current, 3 star potential DM , D(C), M(C) player with solid mentals and physicals.  I'll try an get him loaned out for first team playing time.

Cristobel Morer is a 1 1/2 star current, 3 star potential M(C), who can also play DM and some AM(L). A reserve player for now, solid but unspectacular, and well worth the €1.2M I spent I think.

Leon Decheiver, a 22 year old Dutch Strike with a lot of Flair and no Fitness, and no determination.  I can tutor him up, but he will probably never be more than a Reserve backup.  He has 3 star potential, which is why I picked him up on a free.

Okan Reçber is a 22 year old German D(Everywhere) player.  I needed a solid, physical D line guy who could play anywhere.  He's a 2 star current, 2 star potential player, and as soon as I signed him the loan offers started coming in.  

Christian Frugoli is a Reçber clone of a clone type (You know, you make a copy of a copy, and it's not as good as the original?).  Anyhow, he's a solid D(C) who can also play D(L), 2 star Current, 2 star potential player I want to loan out for first team playing time.

Chrristopher Zeh is a 23 year old 2 star current, 2 star potential M(L) who is going to primarily be a backup for Carter when I play my Assymetric.  Solid Technical and Mentals, Good Physicals, he can fill in for a game or three if he needs to, but I don't want to rely on him.

Mirko Vrnoga is a 24 year old Croatian player I brought in on Loan from Tottenham, for reasons you'll see later.   He plays AM(C) and M(C) very well, is very good Mentally and Physically, 2 1/12 star current, 3 star potential player.  If he werent so scared of big  matches I would make a bid for him at the end of the season, but for the time being he's been a spot starter and valuable rotation member of the squad.

Those followers with a decent memory will remember Lior Tabib.  He was originally with Les Bleus in 2027, but spent most of his time on loan, first to Red Star then Le Mans.  He didn;t get any better, and I let him walk away, where he went on a tour of duty for Real Sociedad the included stops Cadiz, Başakşehir, FC Metz and Racing Club De Lens.  Despite Racing Club paying 425K a month for his services, they refused to pick up the contract option, and he came to us on a free.  He's going to be a solid member of the first team rotation at D(C).

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Those who left on Free's were those we would not miss all that much:

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Sylvain Henry didn't want to stay, and neither did Cinetti, who wanted more first team chances.  The one oddly frustrating one in this was Micahel Bohm, who played an ok WB(R) for us.  Valued at €8M, I tried selling him for two years, with no takers.  Tried loaning him, no takers.  Let him go on a free, and he retired.  Oh well...

We did sell a few players:

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Many pf these were low potential players we picked up on frees, so getting any sort of return on them was nice.  

I had high hoped for Grishin, but he just wasn't getting any better here.  Keita has 4 star potential as a keeper, and he had some very solid loan performances, but with Arrieta and now Loukos in goal, he wasn;t going to get any first team playing time.  

PSV made an unsolicited offer for Otocka, and while he was happy being a backup, both attempts at him tutoring were not very good, and he was going to be 4th string at best.

I liked Gibeon, but he was never going to be more than a spot starter for us.  Which was OK by me, as he played all 4 forward positions very well.  But he wanted first team playing time, and in the last year of his contract with us, he wasn;t any better than anyone I could start.  Bristol City made an unsolicited offer for him, and I jumped at it.  We paid 20K for him back in 2028.

Patrick Raab came in demanding a new contract with a huge pay increase. He's an OK D(L), but when I said no he pitched a fit, so I sold him to Wolfsburg, where he's currently a backup.  Somehow, ovr the course of his career, he's been bought and sold to the tune of €26M.  I am not sure how...

Wolters came in on trial last year, and had some 1st team starts for us.  FSV Mainz came in with an offer for 8M, and as I have better younger (and more versatile) players at AM(C), I was more than happy to let him go.

Sheffield United made an uncolited offer for David Bilbao.  If they want to pay 12.5M for a 26 year old 2 star D(C). who am I to say no?

Schedule wise, we got off to an OK start.  I didn;t want to otur this year, but foound enough big teams to play firendlies against.  I also managed to get the Calais Cup going again, this time with some very good well known teams (Southampton, Wolfsburg, Auxerre).

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I spent the first part of the preseason futzing with the tactics, so losing to Midtyland and Esborg weren't anything I was worried about.  Especially after we stomped Southamptons 1st team 5-1.

A bit of good news was that I was able to get Jan K's testimonial in.  Olympique Lyonnais and Slavan Bilic have always been a tough team for us to play, and while we've come out on top more often than not, we always get their best shot.

The good news was a few familiar names came back to play:

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Austin, Gomes, Girod, Marco Tulio.  Would have been nice to have a few more show up, but I'm not complaining about that.

However, in what is either FM's inante sense of irony or a portent of the future (or both):

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Now, while Jan K's injury bites, what really hurts is the name four down.  Kevin Giraud, my 4 star M(C), went out with a damaged Achilles.  That was the primary factor in my bringing in Vrnoga.

Rest of preseason went as expected.  Vrnoga made his presence known in the Calais Cup final, with a fine strike against Wolfsburg.  

In a small tangent of news, Petar Kolarek is 5-1 to win Top Goalscorer in the UEFA Champions League.

The season got off to a good start.  The right before Christmas we fell, hard.

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PSG today is not the team I posted from a few seasons ago.  May of those players are still there, but they are on the wrong side of 30.  That said, they are still a very good team, but the Trophee shouldnt have gone to penalty kicks.  PSG went up quick, with 2 goals in the first 9 minutes, but Carters brace in the 27th and 78th minute tied it, then Mike out us ahead in the 82nd minute.  I was looking forward to the win, but int he 89th minute Dario Ferreria snuck through the line for a fine header, tying the game.  Extra time flew by, and then PK's.  Villa, Miki, and Kolarek scored for us, while Ferreria and Bulut scored for PSG.  Fritz missed for us, while they had three misses, the last being a Sydney kick that went high, and we won the Trophee.

The UEFA Super Cup against Real MAdrid also looked to be headed towards extra time.  Jan K and Kolarek's second half goals tied the game, but in the 9st minute Roger passed to Miki and then headed towards the back post.  Mike one touched it to N'Guessan, who lofted a pass right to Roger who headed it in, and we took home the Super Cup as well.

Ligue 1 play started and we went on a goal scoring binge.  4 against Montpelleir, 5 against Stade Rennais, 5 against Racing Club.

We stumbled against a good young Moncao side, going up 2-1 in the 48th minute, but Monaco goals in the 84th and 89th minute put them ahead.  It took a 93rd minute goal from Villa, with a huge defensive lapse by Monaco, for us to secure the draw.  

Victories against L'OL, Valenciennes, and Stade Malherbe followed, but then OM managed a draw, when Jurado blasted home the equalizer by Arrieta.  It's a good thing were scoring as often as we are most games, because Arrieta just is not doing it this year for whatever reason.  I've taken to playing Loukos in some of the Coupe and Cup events because I can;t be sure which Arrieta is going to show up.

Kolarek went on a goal scoring binge the next 4 games, scoring 9 goals.  The 91st and 92nd minute goals against Troyes, the first was off a set piece, Villa kicked the corner to N'Guessan, who tapped it to Kolarek.  He was at the top of the box where the D meets the line, with his back to the goal.  One touched it with his foot, turned and rifled the shot past a diving keeper.  the second goal Jan K intercpeted a pass, long balled it to Quartey, who dribbled down the right side and whipped a corss to Kolarek, who volleyed it in.  Man, he is fun to watch!

Toulouse is an up and coming team, looking to qualify for League play, and they played us very tough.  Galimberti's equalizer for Toulouse was Kolarekesque, as he took a pass from near the corner kick in at the top of the D and rifled a volley of his foot past Arrieta.  I am not sure Rulli or Ameskamp would have stopped it.

Next up was the Club World Champi onship, and man did we squeak by.  Morelai played us tough, but a 45h minute Kolarek goal took the wind out of their sails, and they were defensive for the rest of the game.  

Guangzhou has a team that is half decent Chinese homegrown players, half South American former wonderkids who are now wily veterans.  This game looked to be headed to extra time, when Elizondo  deflected a Mendes cross meant for Kolarek past his own keeper, giving us the 1-0 win, and a 3rd Trophy thus far.

There were a lot of things to be upset about with regards to the LOSC game.  30 game win streak?  Broken.  Losing?  Yes.  At home?  Even worse.  LOSC isn't a bad team, they are also fighting for a League spot, but we owned them this game, and could not secure the win.  

It was not the way I wanted to go into the Christmas break, and the boys knew it.  I'd love to blame the loss on our Coupe de la Ligue game four days earlier at Montpelier, but we won that game 4-0, and I rested a lot of my starters as well.  Kolarek had a 28 minute Hat Trick.

In Champions League play, we were in Group F, with Arsenal FC Porto, and Olympiakos.  As I mentioned earlier, Kolarek was tabbed by the bookies to win goalscorer of the competition.  He may not win it, because Quartey will.

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We were either winning big, or losing close.  A 43rd minute Palacios goal and some aggressive defense gave Porto a win, and while we got into a run and gun game against Arsenal (pun not intended really), their goalie was better than ours, and we lost.  Having already secured promotion, I wasn't to worried about it.  Losing Carter to a dislocated shoulder for two months was going to be a pain to deal with though.  

As the winter break started, the awards started coming in as well:

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With Kolarek on the team, I forgot what a great season Carter has last year, even with the injuries.  

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N'Guessan came in 3rd as African Player of the Year:

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Villa was names North American player of the year, second place going to a very familiar face:

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With the winter break starting, we are in 2nd place, because PSG, despite losing 2 games, is ahead of us on points.  They've played an extra game though, and with some help, we could catch up.

Oh, and our club value is now €877M.

Against All Odds, were still on the path to European Success.  

More to update, tomorrow!
Thanks for reading and following,'

Jellico73

 

 

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"Against All Odds - Les Bleus et Blancs"

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Well, our 19th season ended as it began, with me grinding my teeth and giving myself a headache over some of the stuff I see happening on and off the field.

I wasn't too active in the Transfer window.  But I did make some moves:

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Getting any sort of money for Dinca was nice, Martigues is a French CFA-D team, and if they want him, they can have him.

Arrieta had made some noise about leaving, and then Dortmund came and made an offer for him.  WIth Loukos waiting in the wings I was happy to let him go.

Zeh was having a solid season on the Reserve team, and had 8 appearences on the FIrst team as a spot starter.  No goals, no assists, but he had some potential.  Lierse came in with a loan offer, and I really wanted him to get some first team soccer, and the deal wasn't half bad either.

Ali Gauthier is a product of our youth system, and while he's not bad, he's never going to be great.  I'd be OK starting him in a few games, but if he were a full time starter for a Ligue 1 team, then they have some problems.  I did loan him out to USBCO for a season, and he was sub par, but he was solid between the sticks as the Reserve team starter.  FC Koln must have lost their goalies, becasue they came in for him on a loan, offering to pay all of his salary.

Volodymyr Borysenko was lost in the crowd that is my defensive line.  He was a great player for our Reserves Team, which plays in the CFA, but in Ligue 1 he was pedestrian at best.  And I have younger players I want to get more playing time.  Dynamo Kiev made a slightly undervalued offer for him, but I was able to tease it up to value.

I wasn't too active on the In side of things:

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Fabian Dieselhorst is a 24 year old who primarily plays D(L), but can play the whole left side to varying degrees.  A Depth signing, but decent.

Chaine I found on the U19 South African team, where he has 24 caps and 8 goals playing M(C).  2 star current, 3 star potential, I think with some training and firat team playing time, he could be very good.  Not Giraud good, but a more than capable backup.  He'll officially join on the summer break.

He'll be fighting for time with Wister Abdullah, an 18 year old COmopran international who plays M(C) as a BWM primarily.  If I could somehow merge these two player into one, I'd be very happy, but I am pretty sure they can both be developed into very good players.

I was checking to see who was available on a free when 16 year old Goncalves popped up.  2 star now, 4 star potential D(C), he's only 16.  How he was available I am not sure, but I am not complaining either.  And he's bigger at 16 than I was at 21...geez...

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After our pre-Christmas stumble, I want to say I put the fear of god into the team as they came back in after winter break.  

But, in all honesty, I quit fiddling around with things.  Set my formations, set my shouts, set my first teamers and backups, then buckled in and held on.

Ligue 1 has become a two horse race, between us and PSG. The last time neither of us finished Top 2 was in 2024, when Les Bleus came in 3rd.

They seemed determined to spend their way to success, and it's working for them.  The past five years this has been their bought/sold transfer totals:

  • 2030/2031:  €158M /  €79M
  • 2031/2032: €66M /  €6.5M
  • 2032/2033: €122M /  €48M
  • 2033/2034: €109M /  €10.5M
  • 2034/2035: €148M /  €69M

That will get you Champions League Qualifying, 2nd Place in Ligue 1, and some domestic trophy's.  

Anyhow, with Christmas over, I unleashed the hounds, and the boys responded:

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Kolarek with a Hat Trick against a very good Stade Rennais team.  Shutting out PSG 3-0 put us in a tie, beating Monaco 4-1 put us ahead on points, then PSG lost to OM, while Slavan Bilic and L'OL held us to a 2-2 draw.  Well, they didn't hold us so much as they scored two quick ones, and then gave up two goals in six minutes for us to salvage the draw.

We were doing so well I was able to rest a lot of the starters against weaker teams, and we barely missed a beat.  Quartey was a more than capable replacement for Kolarek, and some of the younger players got some nice playing time.  I had my first teamers on the field against Tours though, but they played very solid defense, and we just could not get anything going against their 5-3-2 Sweeper formation, with just three shots.  That we had four shutouts following that draw tells me what I needed to know about the teams mindset, and we were hammering teams.

We wrapped up Ligue 1 with the 2-1 win at Parc de Prince, had we tied or lost PSG may have been able to tie us for first in the Ligue, then it would have gone to the tiebreak, which I think we would have won on goals.  Anyhow, putting Montpellier down 4-0 gave us the title outright, and we have now won Ligue 1 four years in a row.

I do want to highlight a piece of news I found outright bizarre:

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I was more than a bit stunned when I saw this.  I didn't even know L'OL was being sold/bought, let alone the Bilic's job was on the line.  Since he joined in 2027  2020 they have never finished higher than 3rd, and they've never finished lower than 6th.  And in a Ligue that has us, Monaco, and PSG in it, that's pretty damned good.  Champions League or Europa League games every year and getting to the knockout stages more often than not (with a semi final loss to eventual Europa winners Aston Villa last season), Coupe de France wins, solid Coupe de la Ligue runs every year.  Bilic had a record of 242W, 87D, and 90L.  Lyonnais was in 3rd place when the sale was finalized, and Bilic was sacked a week later.  And was replaced by Rodrigo Defendi (?!), who had been fired from Sporting CPO after losing to Basel in the Europa League.  Apparently they went hard after Meireles, but he stayed at Man United.  Slavan was so upset he quit the game entirely, clicking on him now doesn't bring up anything.

Coupe games, we were in some fights.

In the Coupe de la Ligue:

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Monaco was looking more and more like it was heading towards penalty kicks, when Petar Kolarek remebered he was the best striker in the game and scored two goals in two minutes, setting us up against PSG in the final.  Bulut put them ahead 1-0 in the 11th minute, but Diestelhorst scored in the 55th minute when Quartey's shot banged off the far post, landed at his feet, allowing him an easy tap over the PSG keeper.  I thought we were doomed when my best PK taker missed his chance, but PSG missed two, and we didn't miss anymore, and Les Bleus lifted the Coupe de la Ligue again, this time for the third year in a row.

In the Coupe de France, well, I knew things were going to be toguh when US Orleans, a CFN team, took us to penalty kicks after holding us to a 0-0 draw in regulation.

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I may not have taken them too seriously, and while my side was rotated, Gobel and Fritz were in the game the whole time on the D Line, Jan K, Mike and Roy were my attacking mids, and Rutten was my Striker, and he was averaging a goal a game as the Reserve teams primary striker.

Orleans defense was in 'Bend but don't Break" mode all game, and they held.  They fell apart in the PK phase though, as Loukos blocked two and they had a player sky another over, and we scraped by with a win.  Barely.  So, we took our frustrations out on AS Nancy Lorraine, clobbering them 4-0.  We played L'OL two days after they fired Bilic, and then in the semi finals ran into a PSG team that would not be denied.  They were up 3-0 at the half, and held us to 7 shots, 3 on target, and we lost, denying us another Coupe three-peat.  However, in a shocker, PSG lost to Ligue 2 Nantes on PK's in the final.  

Champions League play, we won our group, and played Benfica in the first knockout round, and won that 4-2 on aggregate.

And then we played PSG in the Quarter FInals.  I couldn't make this up if I tried.  We owe PSG defender Pedro Ziafra a great big bottle of Champagne, as without his OG in the second game, PSG would have won on away goals. 

And after PSG, we faced Arsenal in the Semi's.  Yes, the same Arsenal who finished 2nd in our group.  Hero of the series, Petar Kolarak.  We tied the gunners 1-1 in our home game, and then in London Arsenal was up 3-0 at the half.  Carter scored in the 59th minute, N'Guessan scored in the 83rd minute, and then, in the 92nd minute a 93 minute game, Giraud stole the ball from  Cecelio, pinged it forward to Kolarek, who then ran by two defenders and kicked it by Robinson at the near post from about fifteen yard out.  And Robinson is widely considered on of the top three keepers.  In the game.  giving us the 3-3 draw and a win on away goals.

And the right to face Barcelona in the finals.  Again.

Live by the penalty kick.  Win by the Penalty kick.  Again.  

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Champions League winners!  Two years in a row.

Petar Kolarek again had a season for the ages.  In 56 appearances across all competitions, he had 50 goals, 16 assists, 12 POM's, and a 7.72 rating.

James Carter was healthy for most of the season, and his numbers reflected that.  In 44(1) appearances across all competition, he had 24 goals, 9 assists, 9 POM's and a 7.64 rating.  He also won World Player of the Year.

Didier N'Guesson, playing N'Ganche ( I swear this is how I remember it, because my assman things Villa should be the Enganche), was all I could ask for, and a little more.  In 43 appearances across all competition, he had 9 goals, 15 assists, 2 POM's and a 7.17 rating.

Efrain Villa has taken over the AM(R) role, and it will be awhile before he gives it up.  In 49(1) appearances across all competition, he had 8 goals, 15 assists, 4 POM's and a 7.09 rating.

Kevin Giraud was injured the first half of the season, but when he did play he was solid as usual.  In 33(3) appearances across all competition, he had 3 goals, 3 assists, 3 POM's and a 7.17 rating.  Defensively he was the first line stopper, and he was very good at it.

Geir Zetterlund Nilsen plays DLP as a DM, but his stats don't reflect that.  In 56(1) appearances across all competitions, he had 15 goals, 2 assists, 2 POM's, and a 7.29 rating.  That's very Poacher like, and I will be the first to admit the goals were a very nice surprise this year, but it's his defensive prowess that keeps him on the field.

I play a 4 D line formation, and a 3 Dline formation.  

Bruno Mendes is my starting D(L) when I play the 4 man line, and the youngster had a solid season there, with 4 assists, a POM, and a 7.10 rating in 29(20 appearances across all competition.

Dirk Gobel was again the rock in the middle, with 2 goals, an assist, 2 POM's and a 7.19 rating in 51 appearances, it was a rare week when he was not named player of the week.  Alexander Fritz plays D(R) in my 4 man formation, and M(R) in my 3 man formation, and he did very well in both roles.  In 52(1) appearances across all competitions, he had 3 goals, 9 assists, 2 POM's, and a 7.38 rating.

Pascal Vincent was the other D Line mainstay, and he played in every game for us in some capacity.  In 60(1) appearances across all competitions, he had 1 goals, 1 assists, and a 7.37 rating.  He was also named to numerous teams of the week and month.

Mohammed Quartey is my 2nd striker in my 3 man dline formation, and I sued him to spell Kolarek in many games.  He was almost as prolific as Kolarek as well, In 23(3) appearances across all competitions, he had 18 goals, 3 PK's, 11 assists, 6POM's, and a 7.72 rating.

Jan K did not play in very many games, but still contributed when he did.  In 19(6) appearances across all competitions, he had 6 goals, 10 assists, 1 POM's, and a 7.12 rating.

Giannis Loukos made me forget Arrieta very quickly.  In 42(1) appearances across all competitions, he had 39 goals allowed, 17 shutouts, and a 7.01 rating.

Jan K also signed another two year deal.  His next season will be his 17th at the club.

I am sure I am forgetting some things, but winning the quintuple was very nice, and I am looking forward to doing at least as well again next season.

Against All Odds, were still near the top of the mountain.

Oh, and José Mourinho retired.  Sure he's 72 in game, but I choose to believe he's tired of me beating him. 

Thanks for reading and following!

Jellico73

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mw5YhXK.jpg

 

I went back and checked, and found maybe 20 or so, I think FM is counting some players I wouldn't.

 

Jellico73

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Posted (edited)

"Against All Odds - Les Bleus et Blancs"

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It's our 20th season in Dunkirk, and we have been on a roll.

We were busy in the transfer market again.  I think I found some good deals, but time will tell how they turn out:

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Eric Diallo is a Ghanaian D(C) whose been capped for the U20 team.  He also plays a respectable D(R) and M(C), 2 star current, 4 star potential, he went into the starting D-Line rotation almost immediately.

Mlungisi Mtshali hails from South Africa, where he has international caps and goals for the U19 and senior squads.  He's a pure M(C) that plays DLP, AP, and CM exceedingly well.  WIth Giraud already on the team, and Zetterlund Nielsen behind him at DM, I am going to send Mtshali out for some first team playing time.  2 star CA, 4 star PA, I think he can become a capable second option.

Andrea Larusso is a 28 year old AM(L)/M(L) I brought on for Reserve team depth.

Oscar Hernandez in a Spanish AM(All) that I brought in for depth.  2 star current, 2 star potential, I would be OK starting him a few games if I had too.  I need to try and get some players some rest.

Caarlos Ferreria is a Portuguese D(L).  After Bruno Mendes, my first team depth at D(L) was hideous.  I have a couple of youngsters who could play, and Carlos could be loaned out, but he was a good price for a backup player at this level I think.

Kristi Kaja is a Kosovan International M(L), 2 star current, 3 star potential.  A Backup for James Carter on the Left side, I think he will primarily be a Reserve team player if he's not loaned out.  

Jonathon Engosso is a Congolese International who plays primarily DM, but also plays M(C), D(C) and D(R).  A reserve player, he'll never see a lot of playing time in the first team, but I needed Reserve depth.  

Filip Nedeljkovic was a member of the Serbian U21 team, 2 star CA, 3 star PA who plays the middle D positions, but he's primarily going to be a DM.  He will go out on loan this season.

Igor Ferreira Júnior also plays all the Defensive Center positions, and plays a capable WB(R) and D(R) as well.  2 star current, 2 star potential, he will be in the first team rotation.

Iñigo Martín is an 18 year old Spaniard, 1 1/2 star CA, 3 1/2 star PA who primarily plays D(R).  If he doesn't go on loan he'll be on the U19 squad.

Nolan Desson is a 26 year old French D(L) who's here for depth.

Rui Goncalves is a 25 year old Portugeuse International that plays D(C).  I suspect he'll go out on loan right away, if not the 2 star CA, 2 star PA player will be on the reserves.

Sami Aarab is a Moroccan International who plays Goalkeeper.  Although at 34 years of age how well he plays could be questionable.  I wanted an older player for depth behind Loukos, and at 2 star CA, 2 star PA, he was the best available.

Once again the FFA COE pipeline has a couple of new prospects for Les Bleus.  Shane Griffin has already been capped for the U20 team, and the 18 year old should see some first team playing time in a few years.  1 1/2 star CA, 3 1/2 star PA, he's got some potential.  Chris Dodd also has been capped for the Aussie U20 team, and while his potential is nowhere near as good as Griffins, I needed some Reserve Team depth at AM(C), and this 1 star current, 3 star potential 18 year old fits.

Mohamed Ghodhbane is a 19 year old French DM.M(C) player.  I had him, let him go by accident, and brought him back. I'll try and get him loaned out to develop some, but at 2 1/2 stars max PA, he may never see the field for the first team.

 

Diallo.thumb.JPG.06694db1b97bf9bc40aca434f0b941bf.JPGMtshali.thumb.JPG.48b201494e78b02d3e113ee9476e9cf1.JPGLorusso.thumb.JPG.2eeac605cf4feca5ca7dda2e0b08275f.JPGHernandez.thumb.JPG.0de8ed10a074a39018e2f23fcac32a11.JPG

ferreria.thumb.JPG.625732aa294c7b91670af960e19e3c01.JPGKaja.thumb.JPG.cc9469f25026981401dbfd7d46afc87a.JPGDesson.thumb.JPG.41283dc3dfe3fce600e4e954ecc102bd.JPGNede.thumb.JPG.f7341d4c7aee1f94d5e0f803d718e196.JPG

Igor.thumb.JPG.23e830c42e9a8a3756c2517732ebf8cb.JPGMartin.thumb.JPG.2badf9b210d36915316cc5b3d1335f14.JPGDesson.thumb.JPG.41283dc3dfe3fce600e4e954ecc102bd.JPGRui.thumb.JPG.9b0a63a534ab777d90c5f572080fd0b2.JPGSami.thumb.JPG.831c689143e1bba6c271b23d9ace6bb5.JPGShane.thumb.JPG.8a607da241622d1c45d756f3bad46b93.JPGDodd.thumb.JPG.3cdc169d171a6c7886f473de01f1e942.JPGGhodbane.thumb.JPG.e896e378eb623ae87425ce934650954c.JPG

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On the outs, we were a lot more active than I thought.  I had a lot more players leave on Free's, mostly U21 types who were never going to see first team playing time in Ligue 1.

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Traverso is probably the biggest name here, he wanted to go where he would get more playing time.  Everyone else is mostly youngsters.

We have a few players on loan again.  With few exceptions, all of them have at least 50% of their salary paid for:

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Standard came in hard for Filip.  I'm not sure why but I am not going to turn down stupid money like that.  Heck I am only paying him 12.5K a week....

We did sell a few players, for a decent amount of money.

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Wells wanted first team playing time, as did Zeh.  Pascoe never got better than the 1 1/2 star he was when he came in, and I took a loss on Canavan.  I paid €30M for him two years ago, expecting a decent player at DM, and got a star pile of bleh who was never going to start for me.  And I was in a bidding war for him.  Lesson learned.  Verdier and Kalonji were good but not good enough for Ligue 1 play, and while Kontos would have been a decent player, at the moment he would be 4th string, and his salary was huge for what and where he was.  The biggest out was of course Vincent.  Arsenal came hard for him, and kept upping their price.  I should get the full 34 for him.

The season started, and we were pretty healthy.  Coming off winning the quintuple, I wanted to hit the ground running hard and fast.

And boy did we:

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We got out of the preseason without any serious injuries.

Nantes is a Ligue 1 Team that was relegated last season, but they were giant killers last season (despite their horrible record of 8 wins, 8 draws and 22 losses), they beat OM, Monaco, Tours and PSG to win the Coup de France.  They played us tough as well, but a Carter goal in the 60th minute saw us thru.

Next up was Europa Cup winner Aston Villa, who  have a pretty good team.  They beat AC Milan, Dinamo Kiev, FC Porto, L'OL and Internazionale to take home the Europa last season.  Giraud got Les Beus off to a fast start with a goal in the 5th, and Kolarek scored his first of the season in the 82nd minute, putting the game out of reach.

Then we were off to the races.  6-1 at Lorient, 5-1 at Nice, 4-1 at Toulouse, and so on.  Our first 8 games of Ligue 1 play we had 34 goals, Kolarek and Quartey scoring almost at will sometimes.  Kolarek has been a player possessed this season, with 28 Ligue 1 goals in in 22 Ligue 1, Super Cup and Club World Games.  

In the match against St Etienne, he did this:

In the first 20 seconds of the match.

Or first stumble, of course, came against PSG.  They got off to a quick start, going up 3-1 at half, and I did something I rarely do, I put the counterattack on.  And then I remebered why I rarely do that, because PSG had 12 more shots in the second half, and Loukos was brilliant in only allowing the thre in the first half in.  

We stumbled again a few weeks later against a Tours team that was a man down after the 40th minute and still managed to score after Kolarek put us up 1-0.  This was a game we should have won.

After that, we were back to our winning ways, and at the winter break, we are atop Ligue 1, with just 1 loss and draw.

We also won the Club World Championship again, but it was a close run thing.  Xolos Tijuana took us to extra time, and Corinthians, the Brazilian powerhouse, took us to penalty kicks.

One of the downsides of being one of the top teams in European Football is the quality of competition you face in League play.  Fenerbahçe A.Ş. has been fighting it out with Galatasary for the Turkish Super Lig for the past 15 years, and they were 4th in our group.  Borussia DOrtmund was 3rd, and Man United was 2nd.  It was a 3 team race for qualifying, but Dortmund drew with Fenerbahçe A.Ş., while Man United and ourselves advanced.

We Face a very good Shaktar team in the First Knockout round:

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We also had a slew of end of year awards:

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The winter break is almost over, the January transfer window is opening, and I have some very nice acquisitions on the way.

Is another Quintuple in the cards?

Against all odds, can we Three-peat the Champions League?

Thanks for reading and following!
 

Jellico73

 

Edited by Jellico73

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Stade Orange Velodrome was mostly empty, inside that is.  Outside there we already fans gathering, waiting for the gates to open.  Only Eleven hours and forty three minutes left.  Already the crowds were dominated by the jersey's of Les Bleus.  Marseilles might be a ten hour drive away from the Channel coast, but Dunkerque had fans everywhere in the world these days.

Pierre would have worn his own Kolarek jersey, but the senior groundskeeper had said no jerseys.  Over half the world was going to be watching the game tonight, and he didn't want any trouble starting locally.  He had just finished mowing the area the area behind the baseline, and was making sure the sprinkler covers were in place.  With his headphones on and his focus on the ground in front of him, he almost ran into the man standing at the corner box.

"Excuse me sir, can I help---" his voice died out as he realized who he was looking at.  

"No, I am just getting a feel for the pitch this morning."  Thierry Davout, the most famous football coach in all of France, if not Europe, was standing before him.  Already wearing a suit, shoes toeing the grass in the corner.

"I'm sorry sir, but I'm not sure your supposed to be here?" Pierre looked, and did not see the security badge everyone who was supposed to display at all times.  "I mean, yes your supposed to be here, but not on the pitch.  I mean now."  Pierre was on the verge of babbling, and he knew it.  Coach Davout looked at him for a moment, then smiled a great big smile, and chuckled under his breath as well.  

"It's OK, I am reasonably sure they won't kick me out.  Be that as it may, if I am with someone who is also supposed to be here.  Walk with me."  It wasn't a request, but Davout began walking across the pitch, towards the corner of the 21 yard box closest to them.  Pierre stood still for just a second, then rushed to catch up.  Coach Davout had stopped, and was toeing an area of the ground again.  "Ah, I see Rene has finally fixed this." He said to himself.  

"Fixed what?  Um, Monsiur, erm..Coach?"

"Coach is fine.  There used to be a sprinkler head here, but when the pitch was redone seven years ago, they redid the drainage system, and the irrigation system as well.  And there are, or maybe were, depressions all over the pitch.  Your running along at full speed and your foot goes an inch slower than you thought it would, or your mid dribble and the ball hits a contour that shouldn't be there.  You have to be aware of these things.  You have to be prepared for them.  They could be the difference between a win and a loss."

For the next twenty minutes they walked the length and breadth of the pitch, with Davout stopping every so often to pick at a piece of grass.  Then they made their way to the center of the pitch, and Thierry stopped, turning around in place, just once.

"Do you play?" he asked.  Pierre was surprised at the question, but answered quickly.

"In a Sunday Rec league Coach.  A bunch of us on the grounds crew are on the team."

"Any good?"  It took a second to realize that Davout was asking him about his ability, not the teams.

"I'm not as quick as some, or as strong as some, but I leave it all on the pitch."  Pierre said with a point of pride.  Many of the other teams felt the groundskeepers were somehow cheating, because of their proximity to the players and professional coaches, they were gleaning some extra tips and tricks of the game.  All it really got them was some very nice equipment to practice with, and newer balls to boot around.  

"You know I played Semi-Pro.  I loved it, ever since I was a kid, and Papa put that ball in my hands for the first time.  I wanted to be the next Fontaine, or Copa.  I tried out for a couple of teams, but there was always players faster than me, better than me..." Davout's voice trailed off, and there was a silence again.

"Is that why you went into coaching?"

Thierry paused, turning around in a circle again, looking up in the stands.  "No, I went into coaching because I love the game.  I got my license, took a couple of smaller team coaching jobs.  I didn't get paid my first job.  Or my second."  He smiled again, at a memory.

"I applied to Dunkerque on a whim.  Asked a friend of a friend to just get my resume in the inbox.  I am pretty sure the interview was supposed to be perfunctory at best.  See this young man for three minutes, then kick him out the door with a smile and a wave.  But I made an impression on them.  I remember when the fans learned I was hired, this unknown from Afrique, taking over their team...twenty years ago."  There was a silence, then Thierry sighed and turned around again one more time.  

"Do you like your job?"  

Pierre blinked, and stared at the coach.

"You mean as a grounds keeper?"  Davout nodded.  

"It's a job.  It pays the bills as they say.  I have had worse.  I like it, the people I work with are for the most part good, as are the people I work for.  Plus it keeps me involved in Football, although in a peripheral way.  At one time I entertained the idea of becoming a Physio, but I am not so good at the science part of the job.  My mother says I am still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up."  He paused for a second, then said.  "I've entertained the idea of getting my coaching license."

Davout looked at him, blue eyes behind his iconic glasses.  "Do you coach now?"  

"I help with a couple of the youth teams.  And with our local squad.  But I do like it."

"More than groundskeeping?"

"A lot more than groundskeeping.  But it requires time and money I do not have at the moment.  Another year, maybe eighteen months, and I'll sign up."

Davout nodded.  "Good.  Keep at it.  You never know where you could end up."  He finished with a half smile, one corner of his mouth tugging up.  "We all had to start from somewhere.  We had best be off, or Rene is going to throw a snit when he sees us out here."  He turned, and began walking towards the tunnels.  

"Do you think you can do it next year?"  Pierre suddenly asked.

"Do what?"

"Go undefeated.  You were so close this year."  A lot of the fans had started calling the team "Les Invince-Bleus", but that went by the wayside after PSG had beaten them at the end of October.

"That's not for me to decide.  That's up to the men on the pitch.  If they want it, they can achieve it I think.  But, you have to remember, the other team gets a vote on how the game will go as well.  We will have to wait and see, won't we."

As they approached the tunnels, a harried looking young man came out, cellphone to his ear.  "Yes, I found him, he's here.  Merci."  Davout sighed, and with an eyeroll Pierre thought was mostly theatrical, looked at the young man.

"You forgot you phone again sir."

"No I didn't.  It's back in the hotel room, where I left it."

"Actually, its right here sir."  The young man reached into a coat pocket, and pulled out the slim device.  He held it out, and looked to be on the verge of stamping a foot and shaking it before Thierry reached over and grabbed it.  A couple of swiped later he was looking at something on the screen.  "Ah, Marie called.  One moment gentlemen."  He dialed, and put the phone to his ear, walking down the tunnel.  The other man sighed with exasperation, then followed at a respectful distance.

"You lucky bastard!" A new voice jolted Pierre out of his stupor.  Tien, a roomate, clapped him on the shoulder as he came up and watched the back of the coach turn a corner and disappear.  "I watched the whole thing.  What were you doing out there?  Did you get an autograph"

"He was showing me the soft spots on the pitch."

"The what?"  Pierre took a few seconds to explain what they had done, and Tien stared at him for a second or two before breaking into a laugh.  

"Pull my other leg Pierre, it plays La Marseille."  Pierre shook his head, grabbed his friend by the arm, and marched him out to an area of the pitch where Davout had shown him one of the small depressions.  Tien said he couldn't tell the difference, but then Tien also thought "Green side up!" was all you needed to know about groundskeeping.

"Roche!  Fleury!"  A voice barked at them.  From across the pitch Gaston, their team leader, was marching angrily towards them.

"Get off the damned pitch." he bellowed.

"Sorry Gaston." Pierre replied, "I was just showing-"

"You were just showing him the depressions in the ground left over from when we redid the pitch that Coach Davout showed you.  I saw the whole thing."

"How did you know that's what we were doing?" asked Pierre, as they made their way over to a pile of growing equipment that other members of the team were bringing out.  

"Because he does that before every game.  If he wasn't so damned nice about it Andre would have had a meltdown by now."  Andre was the senior groundskeeper.

"He does that before every game here at OM?" asked Tien, getting a slap upside the head in return.

"No," replied Gaston.  "I mean every game he's ever coached.  Doesn't matter where, doesn't matter when, he's always inspecting the pitch before a match.  Has a photographic memory for such things.  You know he was a groundskeeper when he started?  At Lorient?  Then he got the Dunkirk job, and now here we are.  Now lets get our heads in the game boys, half the world is going to be watching tonight, and Andre will kill anyone who misses something.  This is going to be the best looking hundred year old stadium in the world tonight.  Or Else...don't ask Tien, just pick up your equipment and go."  

 

 

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"Against All Odds - Les Bleus et Blancs"

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We weren't that active in the January transfer window, but I was able to bring in a few players who are going to help the team out, especially from a defensive point of view.  I've never been quite happy with my D(R) and D(L) for awhile, and my D(C)'s are getting older, and I wanted to do something about that before it was too late.

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First in was Devante Estrella, from the MLS.  He was injured when we signed him, which is why he was on a free probably, but he's a 20 year D(C) with 5 defensive traits I don't mind him having (Marks tightly, Knocks ball past opponent, stays back at all times, does not dive, Refrains from long shots).  2 star Current, 4 star Potential, he will definitely be part of the rotation.  

Marco Bukuru is a 21 year old Australian D(C) I've been following for awhile now.  2 1/2 star current, 4 1/2 star potential, he's tall, strong, very good physicals, he was transfer listed by request while at Utrecht, and I think I got him for a good price.  He will also be part of the rotation this season.  After I signed him I got a message from the finance guys saying his jersey sales were bringing in a lot of money yo the club, which is something I've never seen before.

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Serkan Gunduz is a depth signing, a 2 star CA/2 star PA Turkish international player who plays CF very well.  Having finally found a 2 striker, 2 winger formation I like, I needed some depth to spell Kolarek and Qaurtey, and Serkan is one of those players.

Last but not least is Aldin Vidovic.  The 26 year old Bosnian International has 58 caps as a M(C), but he also plays a very capable M(R) as well.  He's also going to be a very good tutor.

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I didn't sell any players off, although I had some listed.  I did have a few players go out on loans:

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When the Ligue 1 schedule resumed, I wanted to hit the ground running.  And I wanted to keep running.  And boy, did we ever:

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5-3 at Toulouse, 6-0 at Saint Etienne (Collins was not in goal), 5-0 at Troyes, 5-2 at Monaco, 4-0 at Girondins, and several other clean sheets.  Our only stumbles were at Stade Reannais, who stopped almost all of our attacks cold, and PSG, which was a barnburner of a game.  Combined there were 40 shots on goal, 15 on target, but Diabate and Loukos were solid between the sticks.  I can live with a draw, as it kept PSG from moving up the standings.

In the end, we set several new Ligue 1 records:

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105 points is a new Ligue record, and the number of goals scored is second highest ever.  I do believe our +82 Goal differential is the best in Ligue 1 as well.

Competition wise things were a little bit tougher.  

We won the Coupe de la Ligue:

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The highlight of this was demolishing Monaco again.  FOr whatever reason we seemed to have their number this year.

The Coupe de France was a little bit easier.  I didn't try and bottle it this year like I did last year:

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Which left Champions League play.

Now, oddly enough, I did get some questions from the press about the quality of Ligue 1 soccer.  To which I replied thusly:

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That's three Ligue 1 teams in the Quarter finals.  And the only reason it's not four is because L'OL lost on away goals.  Ligue 1 is doing very well, thanks.

Shaktar played us very tough.  We almost threw the first game away, after Shaktar went up 1-0 in the 18th minute, Alexander Fritz was double yellowed in the 39th and 40th minutes, and despite being a man down we clawed back two goals in the second half, back to back scorchers a minute apart.  In the 62nd minute Shaktar was 1-0 and a man up, in the 64th minute they were a man up and on the wrong side of a 2-1 game.

The home game was also tough.  Shaktar went up early again, but Quartey and Kolarek goals in the second half gave us the victory, and a 4-1 aggregate win.

Next up was Barcelona, and again we metaphorically shot ourselves in the foot.  Kolarek put us up in the 25th minute, but Mouya equalized in the 39th minute.  Mendes was booked in the 48th minute, and likeit so much he was booka agin in the 65th minute, leaving us a man down again.  I looked like we were going to hold out for the draw, but Franco scored in the 83rd minute, a shot that beat Loukos near post.  My sincerest hope was that our away goal would be the difference, but it was going to be tough.

The defense that was missing out last few games suddenly made itself known in the second half of our Quarterfinal match.  We held Barcelona to 9 shots, while Tabaib and Kolarek golas were more than enough to see us thru, we had several other opportunities that were turned away by a very good Marin performance for Barca.

That win put us in the semi finals against a very good Arsenal squad.  Mark Bijl plays for the gunners now, and they have one of the best defenses in Football.

Petar Kolarek didn't care.  The crowd at Emirates was shocked when he scored in the 3rd minute, stunned when he scored in the 23rd minute, and speechless when he had a 31 minute hat trick. Only a serious defensive laps on our part in the 91st minute allowed Arsenal to equalize, but with the team in top form and with three away goals, I wasn't to worried about the second game.

My instincts were right, because we hammered them the seond match, 5-2.  Quartey and Kolarek both had a brace, and Carter knocked one in as well, and while Arsenal did score, it wasn't enough.

Which put us in the finals, against a very good Athletico Madrid team.  Who beat (and I am not making this up), aqll of the other French team in the competition to face us.  However, when facing Les Bleus, they ran into the one team they could not beat:

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I swear they had two player marking Kolarek, which was fine by me, as it left Quartey wide open to score twice.  N'Guessan put the game out of reach in the 55th minute, and with a 3-0 win, in France no less, we won our third consecutive Champions League, and our 5th in eight years.

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The plaudits came rolling in:

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And a few others.

 

Petar Kolarek was...well, "Otherworldy" this season.  At 26 years old, he had 64 total caps for Croatia, and 35 goals.  This season in Ligue 1, it was as if he was playing against 10 men team opponents at all times.

In 62(0) starts across all competitions, he had 73 goals.  24 Assists, 3 PK's, 19POM's, and an 8.03 rating.

In 35(0) Ligue 1 games, he had 47 goals (A Ligue 1 record), 13 assists, 12 POM's, and a 8.13 overall rating (also a new Ligue 1 record).  In 250 appearances for Les Bleus, he has 218 goals

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As our second attacking option, Mohammed Quarety had a season that would put most other teams first options to shame.  in 51(0) appearances across all competitions, he had 30 goals, 27 assists, 6 POM's and a 7.48 rating.  With 16 goals and18 assists in 28 Ligue 1 games he was very good.

Didier N'Guessan missed 3 months with hamstring issues, but still had a respectable season.  In 31(2) appearances across all competitions, he had 9 goals, 5 assists, 1 POM and a 7.27 rating.  He was the primary facilitator of our attacks.

When he went down with injury, Efrain Villa moved from his (R) winger role back to AM(C).  Villa had an excellent season as well, in 51(0) appearances across all competitions, he had 17 goals, 17 assists, 4 POM's and a 7.36 rating.

At 29 years old, James Carter retired from International football.  With 95 total caps, and 25 total goals for England, I am nit sure why he retired, especiall after a season that saw him score 21 goals, have 28 assists, 7 POM's and a 7.27 rating across 58(0) appearances across all competitions.  He's still a great AM(L), and also plays a very good M(L) now as well.

Kevin Giaraud stepped into the Captaincy, and only improved as the season went on.  Playing M(C) and DM, the 23 year old Frenchman had 58(0) appearances across all competitions, with 7 goals, 9 assists, and 3 POM's.  A very physical defender, he also had 20 yellows, which caused a couple of problems, but his 7.38 overall rating can't be argued with too much.  I can train him out of the yellows I think.

Geir Zetterlund Nilsen shifted between M(C), DM, and I'm training him to be a D(C) as well.  The Norwegian international had 7 goals, 4 assists, 6 PK's and 2 POM's in 44(2) appearences, for a 7.25 rating.   He likes to loft the long balls forward, many a Kolarek goal started off his right foot.

Dirk Gobel was again our stalwart at D(C). The 26 year old German had 53(10 appearences, with 4 goals, 5 assists, and 4 POM's.  

When Alexander Fritz wasn't playing D(R), he was playing M(R) (because Villa had to take over AM(C) from N'Guessan).  It's not his natural position, but a 16 First Touch, 16 Decision, 18 Acceleration, Pace and Stamina, and a 16 Agility, saw the Austrian to 8 goals, 15 assists, a POM and a 7.42 rating.   He was so good at M(R) i was able to play three D(C)'d at the back and put another M(C) in my formation, which was crucial in a lot of games as it let me get my best players in their best positions.

Bruno Mendes, Jonathan Engosso, and Lior Tabib also played a lot of D(C), and were solid (and occasionally spectacular).

I was very impressed by Eric Diallo's performance at D(C).  The 20 year old Ghanain had just 14 appearances for the first team, but was very solid.

Giannis Loukos had a fine season in goal, in 63(0) appearances, he allowed 66 goals, had 24 shutouts, and a 7.01 rating.

Jan K's last season for Les Bleus was not what I wanted it to be, but he did get some games in with the first team, and did score a goal and have 2 assists as well.  In 412 Ligue games for Les Bleus, Jan had 106 goals, 122 assists, 33 POM's, and a 7.16 average.  The one thing that does bother me is that he's not a Legend, or Club Icon, or even favored personnel, but we would not be where we are without him.  He's a legend to me, and that's what matters.

So, what is next for Thierry Davout and Les Bleus?

Well, I think I've accomplished everything I wanted to.  I wanted to take the team to the top of Ligue 1, and I have.  When I started I wasn't to interested in Champions League or Europa League play, but having taken the team to the pinnacle of the football world, theres really only one place to go, and thats down.

Thierry is 49 years old.  He's played 1125 games, and won 750 of them, and lost 195.  His teams have scored 2244 goals, and have let in 1149 goals.  He's won 10 Ligue titles, and 31 cup competitions, and has won 20 awards.  He has spent 7288 living, breathing, and coaching Les Bleus Soccer.  

And he thinks it's time for a break.

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Against All Odds, We leave at the top.

My plan is to sim the next 20 years, and post 5, 10, 5 and 20 year updates.

 

Thanks for reading and following!

Jellico73

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So, I've simmed out the next ten years of the save, and here are the highlights and lowlights:

2036/2037 season:

Long time Assistant Coach Pedro Santos took over for the team after Thierry retired.

Transfer wise, they brought in €173M worth of players, including €77M for an M(C), Francisco Alonso; and 40M for Branko Kovac, a D(C) I had my on eye, but didn't want to pay the money for.  Jan K retired, and they sent most of the players I had signed to boloset the reserves and U19 team out on loan.  

Season wise they did not get off to a good start, going 0-3, recovered and played some very good games.  They did win the Club World Championship.  

Cup wise, they made it out of the Champions League Group but lost to Arsenal in the First Knockout Round.  They lost in the Coupe de France Quarter FInal to Toulouse, but won the Coupe de la Ligue.  Overall they finished 3rd, with 25 wins, 7 draws and 6 losses.  82 points, 1 behind Monaco.  PSG had 99 points to win the Ligue.  Bayern Munich beat Man City to win the Champions League.

2037/2038 Season:

Transfer wise, they brought in €98M worth of players.  31M for an AM(R), 21M for a DM, and 26.5M for another AM(R).  They let 30 players go out on Free's, but sold Bruno Mendes to Liverpool for 32.5M, and Christopher Fabian to Schalke for 29M.  I wouldn't have let Fabian go.

Schedule wise they had a very good season.  If it weren't for PSG it would have been very good.  They came in 2nd place, 29 wins, 5 draws, 4 losses, for 92 points, 8 behind PSG and 2 ahead of Monaco.  They won their Champions League Group, but lost in the Quarter Finals to PSG.  PSG also beat them in the Coupe de la Ligue final, but they won the Coupe de France.

Schalke won the Champions League, beating Chelsea.

2038/2039 Season:

Transfer wise, they brought in €38M, but sold €98M.  The most recognizable name for followers would be Lior Tabib, who went to Napoli for 6M. 

Schedule was was good and bad.  They finished 3rd, with 85 points on 25 wins, 10 draws and 3 losses.  Monaco won the Ligue, PSG had the same number of points, but Monaco had the better goal difference.  Les Bleus won their Champions League group, and advanced all the way to the Semi Finals, where they lost to eventual Champions Schalke on Penalty Kicks.  They lost the Coupe de la Ligue Final, but a loss to CFA-B team Strasbourg Alsace in the Ninth Round of the Coupe de France was the first nail in the coffin for Santos.  3 wins, 1 loss, and 6 draws in his last ten games was enough for the board to fire him.  A Caretaker manager took over for the last game, and then they hired Louis Souchad from L'OL.  Mousa Al-Mousa also withdrew funding.  

2039/2040 Season:

Transfer wise, they brought in €19M worth of players, 15M of whgich was for a pretty good D(R).  On the outs, they sold Team Captain Kevin Giraud to Bayen for 88M.  Mlungisi Mshtali went out for 8.75M, and Shane Griffin went for 10.75M.

Schedule wise, they again had a solid season, if you were to just look at the standings.  Howeverm Monaco and PSG ran away with the Ligue.  Monaco had 97 points, PSG had 93.  Les Bleus were 3rd, 21 wins, 8 draws, 9 losses for 71 points.  Competition wise, the made it to the Group stage of the Champions CUp and went 5-1 against Brugge, PAOK, and Juventus.  Schalke, again the eventual winners, beat them on away goals in the First Knock out round.  Monaco beat the in the Coupe de la Ligue Semi Finals, PSG beat them in the Coupe de France.  Thierry obviously set a high bar expectation wise, because after losing to Schalke, the board fired Souchad and hired a caretaker for a game, then hired Luis Ibanez as Head Coch.  

Man City won the Champions League, beating Chelsea.

2040/2041 Season:

The board obviously felt it could buy its way to success, spending €138M to bring players in, and selling €127M players out, including the aforementioned Alonso to PSG for €110M (after incentives).  Eric Diallo went for 10M, and Marco Bukuru left for 20M

Schedule wise they got off to a fast start, going 8-2-0 before losing to PSG.  They won their Champions League Group (against Rangers, Anderlecht, and Benfica), before losing to Braga 3-2 on aggregate in the First Knockout round.  PSG beat them in the Coupe de la Ligue Quarter FInals, and again beat them in the Coupe de France Semi Finals.  They again finished 3rd in the Ligue with 78 points, behind Monaco (84 points) and PSG (97 points).  They seem to have become the new version of L'OL.  Good eneough to contend, but not good enough to win.

James Carter retired at the end of the season.  At the time the board hated me when I signed him, but I hung in there, he hung in there, and he becaome a world class AM(L).  Although injuries did take away some games from him later in his career, the ENglish International (21 goals in 79 appearances), had 446 appearances for Les Bleus, scoring 150 goals.  World Player of the year in 2034, many a Kolarek, Quartey, Tumminello and Jan K goal started with his right foot.

The next 5 years were more of the same.  

In 2041/2042 they were 3rd with 83 points.  Monaco and PSG each had 92 points, with Monaco winning on Goal differential.  Champions League they made it out of the Group stages, beat Arsenal on Penalty kicks, then lost to Auxerre in the Quarter Finals.  Monaco beat them in the Coupe de la Ligue Semi's, PSG beat them in the Coupede France final.  Transfer wise they were not that active, only bringing in 4M while selling 27.5M, including Alexander Fritz to Liverpool for 19M.  

In 2042/2043 they finished in 2nd place with 29 wins, 5 draws and 4 losses, for 92 points.  6 points behind PSG.  Transfer wise they did not bring anyone in.  Geir Zetterlund Nilsen left on a free, and retired when no one signed him.  Cup wise, they made itt out of the Group Stages, but lost to Schalke 2-1 aggregate in the First Knockout Round.  PSG beat them in the Coupe de la Ligue Semi Finals, but they beat PSG in the Coupe de France final on penalty kicks.  They finished the season 13-1-1 in Ligue 12 play.

In 2043/2044 they finished 3rd. PSG won the Ligue with 92 points, while Les Bleus tied with Monaco at 82 points, they had a better goal differential.  Each team had 25 wins, 7 draws and 6 losses.  The owner pulling the plug on funding hurt them somehwat, as they were not all that active in the transfer market.  They failed to get out of the group stages in the Champions League, only winning 1 game.  They lost to Nantes in the 9th round of the Coupe de la Ligue (On PK's no less), and lost to Monaco in the Coupe de France final.

The big news of the season:  Petar Kolarek and Dirk Gobel left on Frees, as their contracts were not renewed.    Gobel spent 15 years as a member of Les Bleus, and was a solid defender throughout, well worth the 45M I paid for him.  Petar Kolarek played 17 years for Les Bleus.  I am not sure why he's an Icon.  Somewhere along the way he got a coaching License, maybe the game is waiting for him to retire for good?  His last season for Les Bleus, he had 23 goals, 12 assists, 9 POM's for a 7.42 rating.  His 2035/2036 season set records that still stand.  In 534 appearances for Dunkerque, he had 355 goals, 117 assists, 100 POM's and a 7.51 rating.  He then went to Liverpool on a free.

In 2044/2045 Les Bleus finished 4th, with 18 wins, 14 draws, and 6 losses.  As best as I can tell, at one point they has 9 players out for six or more weeks.  They did win the Coupe de La Ligue, beating OM.  They lost to L'OL in the Coupe de France Quarter Finals.  They failed to get out of their Champions League Group, but beat Dynamo Kyiv in the Eurpa League Knockout, then beat Wolfsburg, Athletic Club and Celtic before facing Real Sociedad in the finals, which they won, 1-0.  It's not Champions League, but its a very good win.  I suspect its why Ibnaez is still the coach.  Petar Kolarek played 1 season for Liverpool, in 29 appearances he had 15 goals, 6 assists, and 6 POM's, then was sold to Atletico Madrid for 4.1M.

2045/2046 Les Bleus finished 2nd with 76 points, 12 behind PSG (of Course).  23 wins, 7 draws, 8 losses.  Transfer window wise the biggest move was at the end of the season, when Efrain Villa left on a Free (and then signed with Atlas).  The Mexican International (21 goals in 85 caps) was a capable M(R), very good AM(R), and excellent AM(C).  385 appearances for Les Bleus, 98 goals, 100 assists, 35 POM's and a 7.12 rating.  Not bad for a player I brought in on a Free.  Cup wise they lost in the Coupe De la Ligue 4th Round to Monaco, and lost in the Semi FInals of the Coupe de France to Clermont Foot.  They failed to advance out of the Champions League Group (although seeing as how the group was Athletico Madrid, Bayern and FC Kobenhaven, I don't blame them for that).  They beat Chelsea in the Europa League First Knockout round, the LOSC in the Second Round.  They beat Ingolstadt in the Quarters, hammered Villareal in the Semis, and the against Watford, won 2-1.  Back to back Europa League Champions, a fine accomplishment.  Kolarek had 16 goals, 7 assists, and 6 POM's in Madrid, then retired, one of the greatest of all time IMO.

In the 10 years since Thierry has left, their finances have fallen precipitously.  Whereas they used to be rich, now they are just merely OK, and from an Estimated Value of almost 1B euros they are now at 245M, with 164M in debt.  I cant tell why they have all the debt, maybe a new stadium being built?

Player wise, Didier N'Guesson, Mohamed Quartey, and Giannis Loukos are still at the team.  N'Guesson is the team captain, the next season will be his 16th with the club.  A World Class AM(C), the Ivorian has 420 appearances, 121 goals, 135 assists, 49 POM's and a 7.27 rating.  

Quartey split time with and then took over when Kolarek left.  In the two season he's been the primary striker, he's had 67 appearences, 37 goals, and 4 POM's.  He averaged 22 appearances and 6 goals while in relief of Kolarek.  In 284 qppearences, he has 118 goals overall.  He will probably be remembered for his success in International play.  In 109 caps for the Ghana team, he has 74 goals (Along with 26 U20 caps and 18 U20 goals as well).

Loukos is still in goal for Les Bleus, and is one of the better keeps in football.  in 439 Appearences he has allowed 390 goals, had 168 shutouts, and a 6.9 rating. 

So, the story of USL Dunkerque since Thierry retired?

Good, but maybe not good enough.  Why?  Believe it or not, I think it comes down to formation.

I always played a 4-2-3-1 the majority of the time I coached.  There were a couple of seasons I broke out an asymmetric or other formation, but my best seasons were the last 3 I played, 2-33/34 to 2035/36.  And I played a 3-4-1-2, with 3 D(C)s, 2 M(C)'s, an M(R) and M(L), an AM(C), and 2 Strikers.  One of my MC's could drop back to D(C), and I could split the D(C)'d out to D(R) and D(L) as well.  I played this formation almost exclusively the last three seasons, because it let me get my best scorers and defenders on the field in positions they were very good in, if not natural at.

In 2033/34 we had 96 goals for, and 30 against, and 100 points.

In 2034/35 we had 99 goals for, 30 against, and 98 points.

In 2035.2036 we had 121 goals for, 39 against, and 105 points.  Kolarek had 47 goals, 13 assists.  Quartey had 16 goals and 18 assists.  Carter had 14 goals and 18 assists playong M(L).  Villa had 10 goals and 11 assists playing mostly AM(C). Frist had 7 goals and 10 assist.  The players knew the system and what to do.  

And then I retired.  And Santos came in playing a bog standard 4-2-3-1, and playing people out of position, or in places they were weak.  And by not starting two strikers, he left of a good attacker.  And he spent something like €140M the next two years trying to find a replacement at AM(R) because he played N'Guesson at M(C) and Villa at AM(C), when N'Guesson was a very capable AM(C) and Villa a 4 star AM(R).  I think because of the change, they went from great to good, but in all honestly, I thought they would have fallen a little bit further, and I am delighted that in ten years and three coaches, they've only finished below 3rd once, and have won back to back Europa League Championships.  

I wish players like Kolarek and Giraud had stayed on the team and retired as Les Bleus, but I am glad at the teams success.  

Against All Odds, they remain near the top.

Thanks for reading, 

Jellico73

 

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