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Posted (edited)

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Welcome to what I hope will be my longest career thread to date, managing one of my favourite clubs both in real life and on Football Manager, Olympique Lyonnais!

Why Lyon?

Nicknamed Les Gones ("the kids" in the regional dialect) l'OL have one of the best youth setups in world football, but as a club don't have the continental pedigree of the likes of Barcelona, Ajax etc. with their modern success being bankrolled by local businessman Jean-Michel Aulas who took ownership of the club in 1987. Although they did spend heavily during their historic 8-title streak in the 2000s the club have always placed a focus on developing their own players and bringing in raw talents rather than more expensive players at their peak. For a youth development save they are as such an ideal club. 

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The club's outstanding facilities in FM19

I've long felt an attachment to Lyon as they were embarking on their record domestic success and regularly featuring in the Champions League around the time I really got into football, with the likes of Juninho Pernambucano and Michael Essien being fondly remembered. Furthermore on a previous edition of Football Manager I had my longest ever save with the club, using a downloaded tiki-taka tactic I eventually managed to overhaul St. Etienne's record number of titles and win a Champions League with a squad entirely produced by our academy. I'd like to do something similar with my own tactics.

Compared to other popular leagues for youth development like Holland, Portugal, Spain the French structure poses and added challenge as reserve teams cannot advance beyond the relatively low level of the fourth tier. Combined with a limit of 7 domestic loans per season youth development becomes more of a "use them or lose them" scenario, "losing them" in this case meaning they'll be stuck in low-level football not developing. This curtails my natural player-hoarding instincts and provides an added challenge.

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The following philosophies have been requested from the board (develop youth was already there) as those are the aims of the save, and I've found if you underachieve a little but excel at your philosophies then the board are more forgiving.

Edited by zlatanera

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Posted (edited)

Game Setup

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This is the setup I've gone for. Portugal was added both due to the relationship between France and Portugal (a lot of Portuguese immigrants, Lyon's GK Anthony Lopes himself is French-Portuguese) and in the hope that alongside the Dutch clubs they'll occasionally mix in in the continental competitions to keep things interesting. A medium database size should allow for some wonderkids from South America, but large or adding the actual leagues would be painfully slow on my computer.

The 19.3 DB was chosen as a couple of Lyon's talents had a slight boost, and at the end of the day I am trying to have fun!

I've disabled first window transfer budgets given 19.3 means we already have both Summer 2018 and January 2019's transfers, there is no need for further madness just yet.

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My manager has English-French dual nationality as until the hiring of the Juninho-Sylvinho axis this year Lyon had only ever had French managers. I've given myself the highest available qualifications as I just don't want to limit myself that way.

Edited by zlatanera

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Posted (edited)

Training

For the first team, I control all training. In actuality what this means is I add Match Review and Shadow Play sessions to whatever my assistant recommends, as if I got properly in depth with the FM19 training module I'd never make it past day one, and I'm just not about that. 

For the youth ranks I leave team training to the Reserves Manager (Reserves) and Head of Youth Development (Under 19s), whilst I set up individual trainings. This is usually SK-Su, FB-At, L-Su, RPM-Su and CF-Su. 

Scouting

I set my general focus for Young players, and purchase the maximum possible scouting packages. Short-term focuses will be set twice a year for South America (East), Africa, Central Europe, and French under 19s.

I'm mainly intending to recruit Francophone players with some added flavour provided by young Brits (due to my nationality) and Argentinians / Brazilians (for as long as I've known about them Lyon have always had a strong South American contingent), but if someone promising pops up from Uzbekistan or the like I'm not going to dismiss them out of hand.

Edited by zlatanera

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Posted (edited)

First Team Squad

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In goal we're well-set with Anthony Lopes being about as good as you can possibly get for a team of our size. Gorgelin's personality should mean he's ok with being backup for the foreseeable future, should Lopes succumb to injury I would want to strengthen though. At first glance we're well-stocked at full back, but Rafael lacks in Composure, Concentration and Positioning whilst Tete can't really cross and is probably better suited to central defence going forward. Left back we're set though. Central defence is the main weak point: Marcelo is technically too weak for our style and very slow, Morel is on the short side and aging, and Yanga-Mbiwa lacks mentally similar to Rafael, so Denayer is the only one with a long-term future at the club. 

Further forward Jordan Ferri's Perfectionist personality would have been great to have at the club, but no doubt by the end of his loan he won't be very influential any more. This does mean I can give more playing time to Diop though as they're similar styles of player. I'm most excited about the trio of Tousart, Ndombele and Aouar: 

 

 

 

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Houssem Aouar

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Tanguy Ndombele

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Lucas Tousart 

Their versatility can allow us to play a variety of shapes, including a two man midfield with Aouar out wide on the left, but I'm mostly looking to use them as a well-balanced three with a holder / destroyer (Tousart), runner / creator (Ndombele) and creator / goalscorer (Aouar):

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A potential 433 configuration

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A potential 4231 configuration

 

 

 

 

We're also well-sorted for options up top, with most of our young, technical attackers being versatile enough to play a number of positions well. Traoré and Cornet are slightly lacking mentally, but we also have Memphis and Fekir who are near their peaks already.

Reserves & Academy

In our youth ranks, we're nowhere near as stacked with talents as the likes of Ajax, Benfica or River Plate, especially given most first-day potential ratings are significantly downgraded by the end of the season, but there are a few standouts I'd like to feature in the first team sooner rather than later.

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The standouts in the Reserve squad are Oumar Solet who may get a chance at the back given my distrust for Yanga-Mbiwa, Maxence Caqueret in midfield who will be in and around the first team, and Amine Gouiri - the only hold-out from the FM18 youth attack of Geubbels-Gouiri-Maolida - who will be promoted to the first team to backup Dembélé up top. 

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Our best defensive prospect, Mathis Louiserre, is already looking strong technically and mentally, but his physicality (178cm with 8 Jumping Reach) leaves a little lacking so his future may be further forward at DM unless he does a bit of growing. Titouan Thomas looks like he could be the best of the many young attacking midfielders at the club - I hope to have him rotating with Aouar by 2022 at the latest - and although he's not rated as the highest potential I quite like the look of young Melvin Bard at LB - not outstanding physically, which is the case with a lot of Lyon youth, but already quite well-developed mentally and technically. 

Edited by zlatanera

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Posted (edited)

The Tactic

In terms of TIs the Play Out Of Defence + Pass Into Space combo is pretty much unquestionable for me, I really like the sort of football it encourages. 

Counter-Press, Extremely Urgent Pressing, Tighter Marking and Prevent Short GK Distribution give us the aggressive press required for pro-active possession football - you can't dominate the ball if you can't win it back! I may add Counter if we're not being ruthless enough from turnovers. We don't play a high line due to the absence of pace at centre back, Denayer excepted, which I don't want to be exposed. 

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A top-heavy squad necessitates a top-heavy formation, and although Aouar's versatility would allow me to play a 433 I simply don't have any viable backups for Tousart at DM, whereas I can shoe-horn Pape Cheikh Diop in at CM-De and he should do well enough.

At the back WB-Su should provide attacking width whilst not leaving us too exposed, and I've customised all my CBs roles to fit them.

Tousart is a natural BWM but I find that role too aggressive so for now its plain old CM-De. Similarly Ndombele and Aouar are both playmakers, but for now I only want the one so they get generic CM-Su and AM-Su roles.

Nabil Fekir is our best forward, and a creative one at that, so he gets to be our Trequartista at AMR. This is a role I hadn't used until FM19 and now I love it. On the opposite flank Memphis is more of a goalscorer than a creator, and his IF-At role reflects this. Up top Dembélé is on a Support duty as I find Attack lone strikers get too isolated. His direct trait of 'Likes To Beat Offside Trap' should get us some nice variation in his play though.

 

 

Edited by zlatanera

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Coaches

I wouldn't normally talk much about coaching staff, except for the return of club legends. But something I've started doing recently is filtering coaches by the lowest qualifications, then rank them by star rating using my custom filter. It leads you to some great finds with room for improvement:

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Mauro Galvão, a Copa America winner with Brazil with a professional career lasting 1979-2001 has 0 coaching badges yet already looks like this! He's already one of the best u19 coaches in the business, if I still have him when he gets his pro licence he may well be the best coach in the game.

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Johann Durand, plucked from lowly Cluses Scionzier, has only one coaching qualification yet already has a great WWY attribute to go with the DLoDM that all coaches need. French too, which is great.

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Big Timmy Sherwood's mere mention might make some cringe, but with two qualifications left to achieve he's an investment for the future. 

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Interesting approach to the coaches. How much do their attributes normally develop?

also will be interesting to see how the wide Treq works out for you 

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On 29/06/2019 at 21:29, john1 said:

Good luck with Lyon :cool: 

thanks! 

9 hours ago, karanhsingh said:

Interesting approach to the coaches. How much do their attributes normally develop?

also will be interesting to see how the wide Treq works out for you 

The full answer is that I don't know. I tried something similar with my previous FM19 Lyon save (CL & League double in 1st season using a tried and proven tactic, kinda peaked too early) with a lot of guys hired with National C Licences. But I didn't stick it out long enough to see the improvements. I guess there won't be that much development in Mauro Galvão's attributes given he starts at such a high level anyway, whereas I would hope 6 coaching badges would be enough to see Johann Durand have 15's for most training categories, but I really don't know.

There's always the risk that given two are rated as Managers and one as Head of Youth Development, they get poached by other clubs and then don't get sent on the rest of their courses though. 

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@karanhsingh appears on the "Overview" drop-down when viewing the staff member's page. Although if they've already got the Continental Pro Licence, or you've already asked for one recently and the board declined it, it won't show up. Also GK coaches and Fitness Coaches seem to be disinclined to go on them unless they've also got a green circle for an ordinary coaching role or (assistant) manager.

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Coaches: Episode II - Ghost Protocol Head of Youth Development

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It seems like there were a few threads over the past year over what makes a good Head of Youth Development, so I just thought I'd show a screenshot of Lyon's one at the start of the game and why I like him. 

Sure, all those green attributes look good but tbh I don't really care about them, its just a bonus. What's more important is personality (Resolute - 17 Determination, which is a good one) as it affects newgens' personality, and preferred formation as it affects the positions of players coming through (4-1-4-1 DM Wide and 4-2-3-1 in this case being two I like for possession with a high press). 

That he has great JPA/JPP  is great for having him do my coach reports, and the good coaching attributes don't hurt particularly when we have the resources to get a great HoYD like him, but if I was faced with worse options it would just be the personality and preferred formation. 

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Contracts

Some people advocate for removing as many bonuses as possible from contracts, making it a mandatory 5+3 and upping the basic wage as compensation. I'm normally one of those people. But I've recently come round to using certain bonuses that I like in order to keep the basic wage down, and just settling for 4 year contracts given if you have them for 8 years but they're really unsettled and aren't performing then its a lot of money wasted, right?

So below are the new deals for two of my most important players, Nabil Fekir and Rafael:

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Fekir is an attacker, so I've whacked up the goal bonus in line with the appearance bonus, and lowered the unused substitute fee. For Rafael, a defender, I've increased the clean sheet bonus. If assist bonuses were a thing, given the former is a creative player and the latter basically a winger who can do slide tackles, I would increase those too. Then when it came to the agent demanding increases in both his fee and the loyalty bonus, I increased the loyalty bonus by about £300k on each whilst keeping the agent fee at the initial negotiation (I didn't lock it though, don't want to make them angry).

Then to seal the deal I added bonuses for a Ligue 1 win, CL win, and appearances in the CL final, semi-final, and would go to quarter-final if needed (as I did on Anthony Lopes, who I haven't bothered to picture). As Fekir is a Key Player I started out at £300k, but eventually had to go higher as he's really valuable so wanted over £100k wages at the start. Rafael is a First Team player so I started at £200k and he settled for that. For a rotation player I'd perhaps go £100k-150k, and for a Backup I just wouldn't bother. So even in the bonuses, we have a structure. This has allowed me to sign three of my best players on the same basic wage as before, with increases coming 90% through performance bonuses - if we don't succeed, they don't get paid more. Everyone wins! 

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August 2018

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Amiens SC (H): Injuries and suspensions robbed us of 5 players, including two nailed on starters (Anthony Lopes & Rafael) for our first game of the season. The word to describe us would be impotent. We took 17 shots, 7 from distance and one of those went in after I’d subbed off the unfit Fekir for Bertrand Traore and made a couple of role changes. A win is a win though.

Reims (A): I opted not to make tactical changes at this early point. Rafael returned. Again, no penetration except this time they had more possession (56%). Chavarria scored a well-worked goal from a central indirect free kick before they finished us off 5 minutes later with a header off a wide free kick. Very disappointing

Strasbourg (H): Lopes returned. Memphis scored a rocket free kick after 5 minutes. Nothing much else happened bar him going close from the same position 2 minutes later, until the 64th where after a well-worked move from front to back Dembélé opened his account with a header. A Szels (GK) OG with Memphis’ shot rebounding in off the post via his back sealed the win a few minutes later. 14/27 shots being long shots looks bad, until you realise 7 of those were Memphis’ free kicks, so overall a dominant performance! Losing Fekir for 5 weeks was a blow, even if 2 of those are international break.

 

In big picture news, PSG have a 1-1-1 record having drew 3-3 at home to SM Caen and lost 2-0 at Guingamp, so our slow start isn’t too bad yet!

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Champions League Draw

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Europa League here we come!!

 

September 2018

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OGC Nice (H): Conceded from a corner on 5 minutes and didn’t have a kick for 20, I was worried. Next 10 minutes we hammered on the door but couldn’t get through. A well-timed “Get Creative” shout saw us work the ball well out right before Dembélé equalised with a header. Second half again we couldn’t break through: another shout, another goal from the right. At the death Memphis collected a short throw from Tete on the left, cut inside and finished the game off. Promising!

SM Caen (A): I rotated 9/10 outfield players in preparation for United (only had 1 fit LB so Mendy had to play), even bringing up Ousseynou Ndiaye from the reserves to start at AM and was rewarded with complete boredom. 2 highlights the entire match, 10 shots from distance out of 16, no chances on either side.

Man Utd (H): My strongest XI, apart from the injured Fekir, and early on we created most of the chances, hitting the woodwork a few times. United then had it cleared off the line by us twice, before on 30 minutes Memphis picked the ball up on half-way, out-foxed 3 defenders and smashed it in off the post from 30 yards! Match report described it as “a below-par spectacle” but we had by far the best of it, Luke Shaw heroically diving in in the box on Traore a couple of times, so overall a very good win.

OM (H): From the 3rd game of the season I’d put DR to WB-At to give us a bit more width as the Trequartista naturally drifts inside. For this game I made my DL the same as Memphis as IF-At was often high and narrow too. It paid off - neither of my full backs got assists, but they opened up the space for Memphis and Traore to assist each other by dragging defenders wide, we also got another well-worked possession goal and a counter to see Memphis get a hat-trick!

Dijon FCO (A): On 5 minutes Fekir celebrated his return from injury by turning his man and curling one in from the edge of the box!…and that was all that happened until the 92nd minute when Memphis assisted the substitute Traoré off a counter. A 2-0 that flatter us, yet a point would be undeserved for Dijon who offered nothing.

FC Nantes (H): 2 goals from corners in 20 minutes had us sitting pretty, but atrocious defending off a wide free kick let Nantes pull one back. We generally had the better of the play, before on 87 minutes Aouar played it across our goal in danger…Lopes saved, we went right up their end and on his second attempt Amine Gouiri got his first goal for the club!

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October 2018

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Club Brugge (A): A heavily rotated squad, our attacking injury issues meaning Marçal played AML. They had it all early on, with Arnaut Danjuma’s curled shot from the edge of the box on 35 minutes ample reward. 5 minutes later a well-worked team goal found Traoré wide open on the edge of the box - he hit it first time, curled into the far corner. 51 minutes Danjuma struck again, an awful lack of closing down despite having the highest settings selected. Solet had a goal disallowed on 85 minutes and we had more shots and possession, so a little bit unlucky given both their goals were screamers but we needed to create more.

Paris SG (A): On 5 minutes Fekir played it out to the overlapping Rafael, who crossed for Memphis to score with the first shot of the game! On 15 Mandy hit a hopeful ball forward and Kimpembe got a touch ahead of Traoré…well out of his reach, Traoré rushed on and it was 2! 2 shots, 2 goals! The game settled into a pattern after that, where all highlights came from the same flank - the Fekir-Rafael and Neymar-Bernat combos taking it in turns to create opportunities for their team-mates to squander. Cavani scored with a rebound in the 92nd but in truth we were never going to lose this.

Nimes (H): A nicely delayed counter as Pape Cheikh Diop held onto the ball after winning it just long enough to set us off, culminating in Trequartista Traoré setting up Gouiri after 40 minutes of fruitless endeavour. Nothing else of note happened, given this was an entirely rotated outfield that’s no bad thing!

Barcelona (H): Full-strength, all 4 teams on 3 points after two games, here we go! Pretty uneventful first half so I Demanded More of the players. On 55th minutes Messi receives the ball out right and…does nothing, until Roberto overlaps, receives the ball from him and plays it for Suarez to tap-in. 10 minutes later a ricochet leaves Rakitic with plenty of time to pick out the man himself, and I know we’ve lost.

Angers SCO (A): Limited changes as we look to quickly bounce back, full backs rotated as I always do, and Memphis and Aouar sit it out. 1 minute in and Fekir scores a free kick! 14 minutes: Fekir corner - Dembélé goal. 26 minutes, same. 3-0. 81 minutes Cornet wins the ball, plays it through for Dembélé to beat his man and finish from 20 yards for his hat-trick!

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On 29/06/2019 at 13:26, zlatanera said:

Coaches

I wouldn't normally talk much about coaching staff, except for the return of club legends. But something I've started doing recently is filtering coaches by the lowest qualifications, then rank them by star rating using my custom filter. It leads you to some great finds with room for improvement:

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Mauro Galvão, a Copa America winner with Brazil with a professional career lasting 1979-2001 has 0 coaching badges yet already looks like this! He's already one of the best u19 coaches in the business, if I still have him when he gets his pro licence he may well be the best coach in the game.

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Johann Durand, plucked from lowly Cluses Scionzier, has only one coaching qualification yet already has a great WWY attribute to go with the DLoDM that all coaches need. French too, which is great.

When I got a couple more coaching slots, I identified areas for improvement and went out to look for the best coaches around. For my offensive coach I brought in Dennis Bergkamp, for defensive coach I couldn't find anyone satisfactory at this time. So I decided to continue my policy of training up my own coaches, and poached Vélo Sport Fertois' chairman/manager:

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As I have a young squad, I figured a guy with high WWY would be useful even for the first team. That personality is a bonus, hopefully should lead to him not wanting wage increases. That then led me to want to see how my other coaches had developed. So far, only two have completed coaching badges:

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Mauro Galvão wouldn't have looked to have much room for improvement, yet already we can see that Attacking, Mental, Tactical, Technical, Man Management, Motivating, Judging Player Potential, Tactical Knowledge have all increased by 1. MM and Motivating in particular surprised me. I'd expect JPA/JPP and perhaps Tactical Knowledge to increase with experience, but thought the two Ms were pretty much set. This is a pleasant bonus!

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Johann Durand, meanwhile, had a lot more room for improvement. That is gladly reflected in his attributes after he gained his National B License. Improvements in; Attacking (+2), Defending (+2), Mental (+1), Tactical (+3), Technical (+1), Man Management (+1), Motivating (+1), JPA (+1), JPP (+1), Tactical Knowledge (+1) and GK Distribution (+1) give me hope he's going to turn out great!

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November 2018

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An abysmal month, although other than LOSC being out of form none of these games were easy on paper. Bordeaux had the 2nd best defence in the league behind us, we cancelled each other out. Barcelona had Messi. We collapsed against Guingamp, lax defending off set pieces, but they had also beaten PSG this season so its not an isolated thing. We then absolutely destroyed our local rivals, Fekir getting a hat-trick, before United twice did us on the counter and also overpowered us at a corner. The Lille result was by far the most disappointing - they're 16th, and after an error from Marcelo let Lyon old boy Loïc Remy in to score, we offered nothing in reply. 

We now need to beat Club Brugge by a better scoreline than 2-1 to make Europa League, and are ahead of PSG only by goal difference and head-to-head in the league. 

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Posted (edited)

December 2018

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Rennes (H): I noticed that the performances had (with the exception of the Saint-Etienne result) dropped off when I added Counter to the In Transition instructions, presumably as it makes us more vulnerable to an opposition counter-press, so I removed it for this game. Rennes have an abundance of pacy attackers and Grenier to release them from deep, so would thrive on counter opportunities against us. They barely got the ball into dangerous areas, so consider that a big red “do not touch” sign over the Counter button!

Toulouse FC (A): An entirely changed outfield ten got kicked all over the pitch by the violent violets, but eventually Cornet nabbed a winner to keep us 3 points ahead of PSG, who had lost to lowly Strasbourg.

Club Brugge (H): A match most notable for my discovery that in the Champions League head-to-head includes away goals, as Fekir’s early goal was enough to put us up into 3rd should we hold out for a 1-0. As it was Fekir added a second late on, ensuring no opportunity for the Belgians to turn it around and dump Fatih Terim’s Man Utd into the Europa League.

AS Monaco (H): A penalty from Dembélé inside 15 minutes got us on our way, then Fekir cut inside from the left, beating three men and drilling it into the bottom corner! It was 3 on 25 minutes, Dembélé again, but Naldo scored a free kick less than a minute after the restart. Cornet came alive on 40 minutes, scoring our fourth then setting MD with a sitter he somehow contrived to miss a moment later, but he still wasn’t done as he crossed from deep for Fekir to get the fifth on the stroke of half time! Terrier got the 6th five minutes after the restart off a corner for his first goal  at Lyon. On 70 minutes we switched doff and let Jovetic pull another back but the result was never in doubt. That’s 4 for 4 against Saint-Etienne, Monaco, OM and PSG!

Strasbourg (H): another outfield ten rotation, featuring Marçal at AML again due to Bertrand Traoré’s injury. PCD scored one in the melee ensuing from a corner, late on Jérémy Morel defied his years by busting a gut up from LB to cross for Cornet to seal it, but late on we iced the cake with Cornet playing it through for Gouiri to get his 3rd of the season.

Montpellier (A): Full strength for the final game of the year. Inside the first 20 minutes Moussa Dembélé did all the work for Memphis to smash one in the top corner from the edge of the box, then got his turn off a Fekir assist. On 60’ poor defending from a set piece (I think I need to train this occasionally) saw them pull one back, but we held on to end the year with a perfect month!

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We're 6 points clear of Bordeaux! We have the tightest defence in the league (11 clean sheets) as well as the best attack so its deserved. We've been quite fortunate, you wouldn't expect to see PSG to drop so many points, although 2/4 of their losses are to us and Monaco. We're through in the cups and face PSV in the Europa League so should easily get half-way towards our board-mandated goal of the quarter finals...but then again I also thought we'd demolish Club Brugge home and away so who knows!

These results have been good enough to earn me a new contract to 2021 though, clearly the board believe in what I'm trying to build here. 

Going into the transfer window I have been given a £34m transfer budget and 81k in the wage budget (was more but Memphis got a wage bump up to £100k, I'm resigned to losing him eventually but at least this way we get more money). I'm mostly looking at improving the defence - Dan-Axel Zagadou is on the transfer list so we'll be bidding for him as we look to move on Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, but may also look at someone like Jules Koundé at Bordeaux. More than one defensive signing would depend on players leaving though, simply due to spaces in the squad - we have one too many full backs, and I'd like to lose Marcelo but would worry that it'd upset Marçal and Rafael and so I'd have to sell my entire Brazilian clique at once. I'd like another defensive-minded midfielder, but my No. 1 target RB Salzburg's Diadié Samassékou may see me outbid by Bayern. Other than him, everyone is either deficient technically, mentally (Positioning is key) or has bad traits that would take time to train out and I might just muddle through with Pape Cheikh Diop as Tousart's backup. 

Edited by zlatanera

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Nice start to the career mate.

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January 2019

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Annecy FC (A): My team selection of “guys who are one yellow away from suspension” (8!! of them) easily overpowered opposition from the same league as our reserves, going 4-0 up in the first half. Marçal, again playing LW, scored his first goal for the club…and then added two more! We only managed to pick up suspensions for Pape Cheikh Diop and Oumar Solet, however. I should have perhaps asked players to tackle harder once the game was won.

Reims (H): Zagadou’s debut looked to be going the way of a boring 1-0 win for the favourites, before atrocious defending of a counter and a short throw saw Ojo then Chavarria blast shots into the far corner to put Reims ahead. We then hammered and hammered on the door but couldn’t get through until off a 93rd minute free kick Marcelo heroically threw himself to the floor, winning a penalty for Dembélé to convert!

AJ Ajaccio (H): A weakened line up featuring one TI change - Play Through The Middle to make us more compact between CDs and CM-De - struggled away, Traoré missing about 5 sitters, before subs Marçal and Aouar broke the game with a long range screamer and then a volley from just inside the box - making me question if I should be looking to offload the former so soon after signing his replacement in Guilherme Arana.

AS Saint-Etienne (A): The big one. Saint-Etienne will be desperate to reclaim a shred of dignity after what we did to them in the autumn. 9 minutes in Rafael prevents a counter from his short throw, pings it into the centre where Ferland Mendy beats his man to it, switches to his weak right foot and drills it into the bottom of the net! My full backs have scored most of our goals this month, weirdly. On 30 minutes Fekir managed to hit the exact point where cross-bar and post meet with a free kick, which is cool. On the stroke of half time though, they played a corner to the edge of the box, Salibur driving in and finishing low to level it. 57 minutes they do us on a counter off a corner for Khazri to put them in front. We looked like we were never going to get back into it but on 82 minutes some weird deflections allowed Fekir to equalise! I laid into the players at full time, but in truth to come away from a derby without a defeat is always a bonus

Amiens SC (A): One of those where the ball just won’t go in. Tousart’s screamer and Dembélé’s penalty cancelled out by two sequences of outrageous deflections for their goals.

OGC Nice (A): Even though they’re in 4th, PSG in 3 days was much more important to me so I rotated the entire outfield. Cornet ran a counter that ended with Traoré scoring, before a Gouiri penalty on 26 minutes had me feeling pretty confident. Dubois placed one into the bottom corner from outside the box at 62’ to wrap things up nicely. Memphis added a 4th late on, before Caqueret got himself a straight red just to spice things up, the young fool! Saint-Maximin dragged one back on 92’ just to prolong their misery.

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January Transfers - Simply Marçal-ous!

I'm going to start not with players, but with coaches! Mid-way through the month Tim Sherwood left us for the LOSC job, which will hopefully ease the process of potential future transfers of the likes of Nicolas Pépé or Thiago Maia. He went for a really ambitious first transfer in the job, our young 19 year old with very little potential, Jairzinho Fumont, on a free. 

We replaced him with a man who won 5 Ligue 1 titles with Lyon, Patrick Müller:

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Yet another one with scope for improvement, as I turn Lyon into a production line of talented coaches as well as players - I hope to eventually have influenced more coaches than Bielsa or Cruyff. 

Now, to the players...

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As previously mentioned, Dan-Axel Zagadou was transfer listed. A young, technical French CB with great scope for improvement at a bargain price was too good of an opportunity to pass up. Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa left to make space, I terminated his contract just to get those £60k+ wages off our books - that made him our 3rd highest earner yet my 5th choice at CB.

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Another young, technical defender transfer listed at a too-good-to-miss price, Guilherme Arana alternating with Ferland Mendy is LB locked down for a couple of years at least, given our place in the footballing hierarchy. What makes this transfer even better though, is that the man he was replacing, Marçal, who was in incredible form but soon to turn 30 with 18 months left on his contract and needing a huge wage rise, went the other way for £10m over 4 years! 

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February 2019

I've finally figured out how to make exported highlight videos work, so they may be a more common feature from now on.

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Paris SG (H): Potentially a title decider, if we win we’ll have taken 6 points off them which is what they’d normally drop over an entire season. They’ve already splashed the cash on Emil Forsberg, Willian Jose and Roman Zobnin so imagine my shock when we score straight from the kick-off!

 On 22 minutes Dembélé won a penalty after being shoved in the area, only to hit it straight into Buffon’s hands, with my face in mine. He missed two more sitters in the next 3 minutes as we kept carving PSG open, which had me fearing a collapse was coming, but any highlights before half time were us on the offensive. On 77 minutes substitutes Cornet and Traoré combined for our second, only for VAR to rule it out due to a foul in the build-up, which at least is a first for me. An appalling attempt at playing out from the back allowed Cavani to equalise on 81’, and Traoré hit the bar on 92’ but it ended 1-1. A disappointing result in a game we dominated, and one that allows Bordeaux to go 1 point ahead of us at the top of the league.

Rennes (H): Guilherme Arana’s debut. Another early goal, this time Ndombele after 8 minutes. It was 2- at 17’ before one of those only-on-FM goals where we slide tackled it backwards past half our defence let them pull one back on 32’. We added a third just after the restart, but Niang put them right back into it on 78’. We ultimately held out for the win though.

OGC Nice (A): Saint-Maximin’s 30th minute opener had me fearing we’d end the weekend in 4th, but Memphis got us right back in it on 48’ before on 70’ Ndombele picked his spot from the edge of the area to put us in front! We then allowed Saint-Maximin to run infield with very little opposition before finishing from 25 yards to level it up again for a 2-2 finish.

PSV (H): 8 minutes in we scored one of our more common goals - short throw, switched either to the opposite CM or full back who blasts it top corner - this time with Kenny Tete doing the honours. He then assisted Memphis to score against his former team at 34’, with Fekir rounding off the win after 77 minutes.

EA Guingamp (H): A Fekir goal just before half time…was pretty much all that happened. Still, 3 points is enough to keep us ahead of Bordeaux on goal difference! (1 ahead of Saint-Etienne and 7 ahead of PSG).

PSV (A): I rotated heavily with an eye to the Monaco game, but reminded the players not to be complacent. So of course 8 minutes in De Jong scored. Nothing else happened so although we lost our unbeaten streak lasting since the start of December, we made the next round.

AS Monaco (A): 4 minutes in and the PSV gamble appeared to have paid off, Dembélé giving us the lead. We then dominated proceedings until on 30’ Fekir did this:

On 69’ Memphis got his own, meaning all of our attacking trident had scored, but we weren’t done. Fekir, suggesting I should have been playing him centrally all along, smashed one in from 18 yards!

We face Zürich in the Europa League, so should make the quarter finals, and Nimes in the Coupe de France and PSG in the Coupe de la Ligue. But more importantly for a French save, we actually have a title race!

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That's 3 of the top 6 who you usually wouldn't expect to be there, and PSG only in 3rd by way of far superior goal difference. Both us and PSG are smashing teams right, left and centre, Bordeaux have a very tight defence and Saint Etienne...are pretty average, but if we hadn't smashed them 8-0 that goals against column would look even more respectable. Its interesting that we aren't all going about it the same way. Part of me wants Bordeaux to collapse as I really want Jules Koundé as Zagadou's defensive partner next season, but part of me wants them to keep pace so if I screw up PSG or Saint-Etienne don't get the title. 

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Youth Intake

When I got the message it was a potential 'golden generation' I was hoping for a CB, DM, RB, LB or even a CM who could tackle...

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...yeah, normally I'd be much more excited about having that many high potential newgens, but they're in the positions where the under 19s are already stacked! I suppose this does mean I shouldn't have to buy an attacker for the next 5 years or so haha

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Surprised to see Bordeaux, right up there! they always struggle on my games.

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@john1 I've not paid them much attention outside of my Lyon saves, but they were solidly mid-table in my other one, I'm pretty shocked too.

Nice are currently 18th, below Toulouse on goal difference which is also a shocker, and Monaco doing similar to real life down in 14th only 6 points away from relegation, which is surprising given how good their players are on paper. 

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Posted (edited)

March 2019

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Toulouse FC (H): We scored early through Dembélé, left them alone for a half then ruined them in the second. Dembélé got his hat-trick, Fekir and Cornet each got one before Ndombele stepped up and curled one in the top corner from 30 yards!

Zürich (A): rotated team, led by Martin Terrier’s brace, did just about enough at Letzigrund.

Strasbourg (A): full strength team got a routine win marred by those thugs sending Guilherme Arana and Nabil Fekir to the treatment room for at least a month each.

Zürich (H): 2nd string did a job again, Gouiri nabbing a brace. Lopes (GK) managed to get booked, which was interesting.

Montpellier (H): Montpellier were 17th and we created nothing. Not happy.

Nimes (H): Took a gamble not to postpone this match despite missing 7 players - Memphis, Lopes, Denayer, Aouar, Terrier, Cornet, Zagadou - through internationals, as we already have 8 games scheduled for April (and Rennes on 31st March) I didn’t want to make it even worse. Only it turns out that the youth international teams’ selections hadn’t been made when I got the postponement message, so I was actually missing 11 players! So we lined up like this:

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Only 1 CD, 3 debutants in the starting XI and 5 youth teamers on the bench. We conceded off a corner after 8 minutes, the fact that most of the youngsters aren’t tall probably not helping there. At 70’ nothing was happening so I switched to a flat 433, with Rafael on the right wing and Ndombele as my central playmaker, bringing on my only two experienced subs. 5 minutes later we were rewarded as Rafael collected a loose ball off a free kick, turned and drilled on in from the edge of the box! Nothing else happened as we moved into extra time, so on 115’ I made subs purely with penalties in mind. Both young subs (El Hadj Coly and Théo Ndicka Matam) scored, and they missed their 7th penalty to send us through!

Rennes (A): The start of a stretch of 4 games in 9 (8 in 22) including PSG, Monaco, and Marseille (twice) sees us at almost full strength, Lenny Pintor earning his debut after training well whilst Fekir is out injured. It was a VAR-athon, taking away both a goal and a penalty from Rennes in the first 30 minutes.On 59’ our pressing on a short throw saw them sell their goalkeeper down the river and Dembélé scored his 22nd of the season. Two minutes later Ferland Mendy dropped between the CBs to receive the ball from Lopes for…some reason. Anyway, he brought it out of defence like the black Beckenbauer, looked upend sprayed it out wide to Pintor near half-way, who played a brilliant ball into the box for Aouar - in an unfamiliar AMR Trequartista role - to finish for 2-0! A lovely bit of FM magic after a hard day at work. I then had a bit of fun - Ndombele at AM, Mendy at CM, the past-his-prime-and-past-his-post-prime Morel at LB like its 2010 - and Dembélé got his hat-trick (at which point Ndombele got to play centre forward so I could give Moussa a standing ovation).

Looking through Ligue 1 stats reveals something curious: currently were are one of two teams who haven’t conceded a penalty in Ligue 1. Ironically the other is Nimes!

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As expected PSG have overhauled both Bordeaux and Saint-Etienne. We're still 2 points ahead with a better goal difference, but they have the much easier run-in. If we go on current positions, our opponents are like this:

- Lyon: 7th (H), 12th (A), 19th (H), 3rd (A), 14th (H), 5th (A), 8th (H), 6th (A)

- Paris SG: 13th (H), 14th (A), 10th (Monaco - H), 16th (A), 18th (H), 19th (A), 7th (H), 15th (A)

But then factor in that I have a minimum of 12 games left in the season versus PSG's 10, and stand a good chance of getting further in both the Coupe de France (away to Monaco at QF stage) and Europa League (Marseille at QF stage) and you see why I'd probably make them favourites.

One last thing - Tanguy Ndombele's strike against Toulouse got goal of the month, showing there's no recency bias in the picking of this award!

 

Edited by zlatanera

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Posted (edited)

Investment In Youth (Pt. 1)

When my scouts came back with a 92 recommendation on a young Frenchman, I just knew I had to make him my first non-transfer listed signing! So, joining us in summer will be Vannes-born Georginio Rutter:

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Well-rounded already, big in stature but also possessing pace, he could make an inside forward with aerial threat in the mould of a certain Juventus player if he fulfils his undoubted potential. Will most likely spend 2019/20 in the u19s with the odd first team appearance, similar to Lenny Pintor this season.

Edited by zlatanera

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April 2019

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Dijon FCO (H): The reserves went out in preparation for this tough run. A brace from Gouiri, then Caqueret got his 1st goal for the club lashing a volley in the bottom corner on the turn. Wesley Saïd pulled one back at 89’ but overall a comfortable win.

Paris SG (N): After I’d rested my first team to hopefully play both this and the Monaco game, the fixtures were moved around so we only get 1 day between fixtures! Coupe de France is more important so the B lineup get a chance at a trophy. PSG were full strength minus Neymar. Over 90 minutes we, surprisingly, had the better of it but it was 0-0 at full time. I made one concession to this being a final with my subs, bringing on Nabil Fekir for extra time…4 minutes later we had a penalty, and he scored! Maxwell Cornet played the last 20 minutes with a knock but we held on for the win! 19-year old Oumar Solet getting MOTM feels like a good indicator that we’re going in the rig ht direction too.

AS Monaco (A): Full strength, we absolutely battered them for 90 minutes (11/23 shots on target) yet largely due to Moussa Dembélé’s largesse we couldn’t score. 3 changes for extra time didn’t work, so I used my 4th sub to bring on Martin Terrier at RB purely for the shootout. Monaco missed their first three, so up stepped Terrier…and scuffed it straight at the ‘keeper. Tousart also missed a chance to win it, sending us to sudden death. Young TItouan Thomas missed, allowing Sidibé to seal Monaco’s undeserved place in the semi-finals.

OM (A): The aforementioned fixture wrangling involved switching the order of the legs of this tie, with OM now playing at home first, and on a Saturday no less! Again no injuries, the only tweak from my usual first XI saw Aouar make way, Fekir playing centrally and Traoré being our Trequartista. On 41’ they did us on the counter, Payet finishing it off. We created chances all through the second half, so I only made one substitution - Lucas Tousart was on a yellow - but did shuffle around my attackers, yet Mandanda had the reflexes of a man 10 years younger and they held out for the win. Not insurmountable, but I would have liked  an away goal as insurance for when we inevitably concede at home.

OM (H): After 4 minutes PSG academy put us front, Mendy assisting Dembélé. Then at 20’ Rafael intercepted deep in their half, drove infield and laid it off to Memphis on the edge of the box who turned and drilled it in the bottom corner to put us in front! Alas, in first half added time Balotelli poached one to put them ahead on away goals. The second half was disappointingly uneventful, although Cornet missed a sitter that away goal proved to be the decider. Disappointing as I hope to not be in EL for the rest of the save, so would have been nice to win it - especially given Young Boys knocked out Ajax and Schalke knocked out Juventus, so the field had really opened up for the winner of our tie.
Angers SCO (H): Angers sit in 19th, so heavy rotation is in order before our catch-up game midweek and trip to Bordeaux. For 60 minutes (shock twist incoming!) we were all over them but couldn’t quite carve out that killer ball, before Guilherme Arana - apparently on the brink of a Brazil call-up due to his form since joining us - crossed to Cornet on the right to put us 1-0 up. It should have been more, but when you have 5 teenagers in your starting lineup you have to expect inconsistency.

FC Nantes (A): Another “weak” lineup as everyone seems to have recovered quite well - I really want to smash Bordeaux at the weekend. 7’ Léo Dubois floated in a free kick against his former side for Zagadou to head in off the woodwork for his first goal for the club! At 16’ Traoré collected the ball deep in our half, drove right down the middle to the edge of their box and finished! (Dubois got another assist credited for that, seems unfair he passed it about 3 feet in his own defensive third) It was 3-0 at 41’, Guilherme Arana delivering another speciality whipped cross to the back post for Traoré. Straight from the half-time restart Boschilia scored a Gareth Bale-esque strike just to stop me being too calm.

Bordeaux (A): Full strength to hopefully prevent another stalemate on the Atlantic coast. At half time Koundé’s performances had certainly kept him in my future plans, we could find no way past him! On 70 minutes I shouted “Get Creative”, which inspired my many Flair players, and within 4 minutes Aouar had opened the scoring! 78 minutes and he had a second! Palencia tried to throw back to a CB in their own box, Aouar intercepted, took a couple of touches and finished below Costil. Memphis added a 3rd on 84’ to confirm the win.

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Having player Bordeaux and Montpellier, respectively, we have still got a slightly tougher run-in, although PSG do have a Coupe de France semi-final at Monaco to play as well. 

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Away to Marsille, would be crucial one for this title race.

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Posted (edited)

May 2019

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LOSC (H): Some rotation in order to avoid anyone being suspended for the OM game. TItouan Thomas gets his first league start, in his preferred AMC position. On 39:00 exactly Moussa Dembélé completed his perfect hat-trick! Left foot (open play), right foot (penalty) and header! We didn’t let up in the second, with Denayer, OG, Traoré and Cornet adding to the scoresheet. Tim Sherwood must be regretting not sticking around as our youth coach!

OM (A): We were out for revenge here, whilst Marseille had the opportunity to potentially knock us out of a second competition in the space of a month. 6 minutes in and Mendy gave the ball away when he was the 3rd-to-last man, they countered and the ball went in off the post via the back of Lopes. But on 33’, with Ndombele off injured, Dembélé equalised off a corner! The second half was a tetchy affair, and looked like it was going to peter out into a draw. But on 87’ Fekir stepped up and curled a free kick low round the wall and into the net!! They streamed forward in search of an equaliser, and from a goal kick we took 6 passes for Fekir to turn provider for Traoré to wrap it up. That put us 4 points clear of PSG!

SM Caen (H): Caen spent almost the entire game camped around the edge of their own box, but eventually on 71 minutes Nabil Fekir scored the goal that clinched the title!

 

Nîmes (A): I wanted to make this a celebration rather than a damp squib, so only rotated players on yellow cards. 10 minutes in a nice move allowed Dembélé to do some old-fashioned Target Man-ing and chest down a cross for Aouar to open the scoring. 29’ Mendy drifted infield and scored from outside of the area. On 57 minutes TItouan Thomas, on at half time, scored a 25 yard volley!! (think shades of that Paul Scholes goal on YouTube) We switched off towards the end for them to claw one back, but I doubt the fans care given the quality of our goals.

Edited by zlatanera

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Posted (edited)

Final League Table & Club Awards

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A late stutter from PSG saw us finish comfortably 6 points ahead of them, which is deceptive as for much of the season first Bordeaux then the Parisians were really in the mix. Saint-Etienne making it back to the champions league was a pleasant surprise for the league, Marseille won the Europa League so Bordeaux enter that competition instead which must hurt. Nimes and Dijon amazingly also qualified for Europe, no idea where that came from. I was surprised to see Montpellier so low given the quality of their squad - they needed penalties to defeat Auxerre in the play-off. Monaco made a late surge after spending a lot of the season just outside the relegation zone, Nice and Lille were pretty much always around where they finished, i.e. surprisingly low. 

Back to us - most goals, fewest conceded, most clean sheets, best GD...deserved winners, I'm sure everyone will agree! I'm quite surprised, normally I have a lot of teething troubles when playing possession, but I seemed to just get everything to work well enough quite soon on - one final TI addition of Focus Play Through The Middle in the midwinter really saw us hit our stride by making us more compact. I doubt PSG will finish below 90 points next year though, so we'll have to improve. 

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Interesting that other than Tousart missing out for Terrier (Aouar played at AMC) that is pretty much my main XI. As the holding midfielder he did have the least glamorous job, and as he wasn't a DLP he didn't see that much of the ball, but until a few good games in the final months of the season Aouar hadn't lit things up in terms of match ratings either. I thought Guilherme Arana might have sneaked in given his outstanding form - signing of the season well deserved. That Ndombele goal was spectacular, but I preferred the Fekir one at Monaco. 

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I think Moussa Dembélé got 3 hat-tricks, possibly 4 so it was unsurprising that he'd be our top scorer. Goals were heavily tilted in favour of the strikers and wide players:

Moussa Dembélé 29G 6A

Nabil Fekir 21G 11A

Memphis 18G 6A

Bertrand Traoré 13G 6A

Amine Gouiri 8G 1A

Maxwel Cornet 7G 7A

 

whilst assists came generally from our full backs:

Rafael 1G 13 A

Kenny Tete 1G 8A
Guilherme Arana 8A (in only 13 apps!)

with 4-5 each coming from the other 3 full backs and the CM-Su and AM players. 

PCD getting the highest pass completion is no doubt due to his playing CM-De and having the trait "Plays Short Simple Passes" whilst being more technically adept than Tousart, whom I imagine got around 90%. 

Fekir leading in average rating and MOTM is exactly what you want when an attacker is made captain!

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I felt I was doing right by my philosophies, and the board evidently agree. I think I gave out about 10 first team debuts to youngsters, and if it weren't for that crazy cup game where I was forced into it I would have still given 5 of them game time. 

We averaged 56% possession - not Pep numbers but given FM calculates possession differently to how its done for real matches, if we were reaching the high 60%s we probably wouldn't score much. We still had the highest in the league though, pressing aggressively but not high up the field, so we should be able to improve that number whilst also becoming even more dangerous!

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The fans were clearly happy with our style of play too, that's a huge increase over the previous average attendance record!

Edited by zlatanera

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Ligue 1 Awards (and one European one)

This post is separate because there are an absurd number of similar awards in Ligue 1, and we did quite well in them!

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Coming in 3rd in the European Golden Shoe after breaking the 20 league goal barrier for the first time in his career is an impressive achievement for Dembélé's return to France! 

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Clearly both outsiders and his colleagues agreed! 

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Given its possible to keep a clean sheet without getting a 7.0 rating, that Lopes had such a high average rating shows he was keeping us in games a little too often. But that arguably makes him an even more deserving winner of this award - I'm sure Mendy also had to work for a living but I can't imagine Buffon faced many shots outside of our match against PSG.

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Yup, Dembélé and Cavani may have scored more goals but Fekir picked up the slack from the likes of Neymar and was the most influential and entertaining player in the league!

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The only difference between these two awards appears to be that one of them has heard of clubs outside of the top two.

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...and finally Ndombele's strike against Toulouse in March won goal of the season! In 6 years of playing FM that's the first time I've ever won that award! 

which just shows how biased those awards are towards distance shots.

 

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Posted (edited)

(Hopefully not going) Back(wards) To (ward) The Future

In terms of our squad, I aim to promote a couple of youngsters - leaning towards Titouan Thomas to backup Houssem Aouar, and hopefully to get Lenny Pintor in as a rotation option at AML. This means I need to lose at least one of my wide attackers - I'm hoping Bertrand Traoré attracts offers, as I'm quite fond of Cornet and that would leave me with two left-footers for the AMR berth - but possibly two or three given Terrier, a natural AML, was playing as Aouar's backup last season. There is the option of retraining Terrier given all my best young prospects are wide attackers anyways and he's a very intelligent, versatile player. Further back even if our long-term interest in Jules Koundé flames out I intend to lose Marcelo and buy in a younger, more technical CB to partner Oumar Solet as the backup to the Denayer-Zagadou axis I want to work with. Jérémy Morel is retiring and given he has a good personality I really want him to join the u19 coaching staff, but if I don't get the board option to expand I won't get rid of any existing coaches as they're all former Lyon players too, in which case he'll leave us. We have 3 right backs too, but I like them all and am really torn - Tete's the best, but Dubois has played out of his skin on 3 saves for me now, including my FM18 ones. Rafael meanwhile is a fave from his Manchester United years, as well as being our top assist-maker (and having not made an error leading to a goal!) and having the best personality in the squad (Perfectionist). 

I hope to retain our league title and add the Coupe de France this next season. If weakened teams retain the Coupe de la Ligue again so be it, but I really want the more prestigious cup. Getting out of our Champions League group would be nice too (and hopefully easier when qualifying as league winners). 

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This is what our tactic ended up as - it was far from infallible, but it seemed like a well-balanced setup - aggression from the wings, but our ability to keep the ball centrally prevented it from being one-dimensional, as did using a Trequartista rather than another IF on the right. But my aim is to eventually emulate @Ö-zil to the Arsenal! by playing insane Overload Very Attacking setups with a young team, scoring tons of goals whilst also having lots of possession (I've done plenty of saves where I score lots of goals with under 44% possession, so keeping the ball is the challenge for me this time). To that end I'll be upping the mentality to Control Positive for 2019/20.

I also like a classic 4-3-3, especially as it'll allow me to play Tousart (and should my transfer plans come off, Caqueret) in his natural DM position, with more control in midfield and hopefully get Aouar on the ball more whilst creating even more space for Fekir and Memphis. So I'll be setting out with something like this:

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Automatic duties on Positive play as Support, but with reduced PIs in some cases: whilst CM-Su has none anyway, WB-Su has both Run Wide With Ball and Get Further Forward selected whereas WB-Au has only Run Wide With Ball. It may turn out I need GFF to get more support on the flanks, but for now I only want RWWB as that suits our style anyway, stretching the play whilst the wingers drift into the centre. CM-Au meanwhile was chosen as a support duty would give the appearance of a nice well-balanced midfield unit, but I really don't know what I want this player (most likely Ndombele) to do

The TIs stay the same as the increased mentality already affects closing down, defensive line, passing length etc. so this should just produce a more aggressive version of the same style we saw last season. Although I'll hopefully not have as many slow defenders this coming season I still don't want to increase the defensive line and line of engagement as I worry we'll just push teams into their own box then find it harder to break them down. As Positive mentality increases individual player mentalities across the board, we go down to only two At duties to still encourage retention of possession, but have some attacking thrust. I am concerned about using both my most aggressive duties on playmakers, but if it works I hope to see Aouar and Fekir seize the initiative in the middle of longer periods of possession and drive the team forwards. 

Edited by zlatanera

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Posted (edited)

3 Coaching 3 Team

I haven't mentioned all the myriad coaches I signed with a view to getting their coaching badges and improving them. But I'd filled out all my slots, and it looks like the board are never going to allow more than 6 youth coaches, meaning in order to sign the retiring Jérémy Morel I'd have to sack one. I chose Pascal Bridel, a former Auxerre youth coach. It was a toss up between him and Thomas Stamm, formerly of Freiburg:

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Although gaining his Pro Licence may bring Bridel in line with Stamm, and I like a domestic bias, I chose the younger one with higher WWY and a better personality. Stamm was also part of my successful youth setup with Freiburg in that thread (Successful in that it produced talents, I didn't play many of them though). It seems harsh to get rid of Bridel after only 1 year 10 days at the club, I'm hoping he goes back to Auxerre again.

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Morel is obviously a much inferior coach right now, but with a potential 5 further coaching badges to achieve I think he can become much better than both of the above. He only made 7 league appearances last season so only got a Coupe de la Ligue medal, but I consider him a title-winner with Lyon. Plus I like the real life story of him late in his career embracing his Malagasy heritage and pitching in with the national team at a time when many players are retiring from internationals in order to prolong their club career. 

Edited by zlatanera

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1 hour ago, Ö-zil to the Arsenal! said:


Overload Very Attacking :lol: I'm not sure about the insane part though.

Interesting save. Nice team with lots of potential :applause:

I'm still going to be calling them by the old names come FM22! Well your results were insane at least, the tactics are just logic.

Too much potential, we aren't in any financial trouble and nobody wants to leave, so I'm going to have to transfer list players just to allow the youth to come through!

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Posted (edited)

Pragmatism

Despite what I said in my previous post about tactics, the need to fit in Martin Terrier somewhere led me back to a 4-2-3-1, with Thomas going back to the u19s as he’s only 17 so another year of training is best for his development. 4-3-1-2 was an option but I didn’t want to be an Ö-zil tribute act, and also I’m going to do one with Sampdoria, Milan or River Plate later in the year. A positive is I’ve not actually used a 4-2-3-1 in consecutive seasons since maybe the very earliest days of FM17, so this is still different for me.

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Lucas Tousart is now being trained as DLP-De as I really like him but currently he’s just not quite technical enough for what I want to do in the long run.

1994744000_LucasTousarttraining.thumb.png.a1acf04f4ce43f4690501fbdba9034dc.png

 

Edited by zlatanera

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Posted (edited)

Summer Transfers 2019 (Incoming) - Defence

We had a long-standing interesting in Jules Koundé of Bordeaux as a defensive upgrade, I'd been scouting him, set him as top target and had players praise him since March:

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However, Bordeaux weren't moving - still making ridiculous counter-offers whenever I enquired (we're talking de Ligt money here), and when the opportunity came up to sign the equally talented Lisandro Martínez for a much lower fee, we had it done within a week:

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Martínez has the added bonus of being left-footed, which makes him the perfect partner for Oumar Solet as our 2nd choice CB pairing behind the Denayer-Zagadou axis. 

I hadn't planned on signing a goalkeeper - Mathieu Gorgelin seemed quite happy as a backup and Anthony Lopes is not only very good, but an academy product with a great personality to boot. However André Onana had secured himself a very reasonable release clause:

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I'll do similar to what Barcelona did when signing Marc-André ter Stegen, playing the younger Onana in the cups and Europe, whilst Lopes has the Ligue 1 starters spot, then come to a decision in a couple of years. 

Our third and final incoming transfer was Max Aarons:

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An upgrade in most areas over Kenny Tete, Aarons will be Rafael's understudy for a season then when I hopefully move the Brazilian on in summer 2020, he'll become first choice backed up either by Léo Dubois or if I feel like splashing the cash possibly Josha Vagnoman. Whereas all my previous transfers have been a case of "pay what they want, try to go for instalments but get it done fast" for this one I decided to do more like what other clubs offer me, making it harder for Norwich to get the full value (and if they do, we'll have made so much more money it won't matter to us). He turned down Watford for Champions League football with us, which shows his head's screwed on straight too.

Edited by zlatanera

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Posted (edited)

Summer Transfers 2019 (Outgoing) - Fiorentina splashing the cash!

PSG bid for Mendy, and I promised him we’d reach ‘the latter stages’ of the Champions League in order to get him to stay. The exact same thing happened with Ndombele and Real Madrid, so I’m curious to see what their definition of ‘latter stages’ will be, and if we can even make it out of a group containing Arsenal, RB Leipzig and Olympiakos. Regardless, this meant that for this season the only outgoings are the ones I want out of the club.

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Once the Aarons deal was over the line I knew I needed to get rid of Kenny Tete, so I offered him out for £28m - no bites, so I tried £7m + £21m over 3 years and Fiorentina offered £15m. I negotiated to £0 + £27m over 3 years and they accepted instantly - so that’ll be £24m profit, almost double the guy’s value (and 7.7x what we paid for him) yet I still kinda feel like a mug!

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I also made the heartbreaking decision to cash in on Maxwel Cornet - I love the guy from when he was my false nine on FM16, but realistically at 22 he was never going to dramatically increase his mentals and become the complete player I need as our style of play develops, and as a rotation option in a title-winning team this was probably his peak value. Fiorentina again came up with the goods, £0 + £26m over 3 annual instalments! That’s 179x the initial outlay on him - an outstanding bit of purchasing by Aulas and an outstanding sale price by me!

Marcelo left to make way for Martínez, getting what we paid for the guy two years one when he's the wrong side of 30 is not bad. We also offloaded 13 reserve players - either for free if they had no potential, or free +10% profit, or in some cases cash + 10% profit (TP Mazembe spending £1m on two players from us was a shock!), and let Mathieu Gorgelin go on a free as I don’t need 3 goalkeepers.

So, our first team squad now looks like this:

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Much more technical than a year ago, with a younger defence and an improving attack. 
 

Edited by zlatanera

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August 2019

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Paris SG (N): Similar to Italy, the Trophée des Champions is in whichever non-democratic nation pays the most - this year, its in Shenzen! We were nearly full strength, just both our strikers were injured so Memphis got the nod, whilst Onana made his debut in goal. PSG had spent £266m strengthening - Sergeij Milinkovic-Savic, Federico Chiesa, Sergi Roberto, Georginio Wijnaldum, Alex Grimaldo and Kaylor Navas being the big signings. On 6 minutes some end-to-end action left Ndombele in space on the edge of the box and it was 1-0! We had the better of the game after that, and a counter on 40 minutes ended with Ndombele’s shot rebounded off Areola’s ass into the net! 57’ a short corner routine let Ndombele switch it out to Rafael then rush in to head home the return for 3!

OGC Nice (H): A completely rotated lineup after our Chinese odyssey, with Lenny Pintor getting a start at ST this time. The first couple of minutes were all highlight, and at 1:45 we’d scored, a short free kick from Dubois to Traoré in our half, who turned and fed Terrier, who beat two men on his way to the box before placing it under the keeper! The rest of the half was a case of us playing a lot of pretty football but being unable to get past 9 men in their box. 5 minutes into the second half Terrier decided to just curl his shot round them instead, 2-0! A clean sheet in the first outing of the Solet-Martínez axis is nothing to be sniffed at either. That broke the club record for consecutive wins, previously set at 9 in autumn 2006!

OM (A): Full strength again, but 7 minutes in Mandanda played over our press to Thauvin who caused chaos driving at our defence, eventually slotting away. We had more of the ball but at half time it was still 1-0. On 49 minutes Origi, their free transfer whose pace had been causing us constant problems, lost track of Memphis off a corner and brought him down to give us a penalty! Dembélé hit it too centrally though and Mandanda saved. On 60’ I made all 3 subs (1 enforced, Dubois on for Rafael) but nothing happened until almost 20 minutes later: 

At 86 minutes though, despite my ‘Tighten Up’ shout, Ocampos ran deep from in his own half unchallenged, playing it through to Origi who somehow got lucky with the ball rebounding back to him from Lopes twice before he finally finished his chance for 2-1. I assumed it was all over, but threw us on Very Attacking and we created a few chances. Then on 94:37 (of 95) some interplay between Memphis and Traoré got the ball to Fekir who created the tiniest gap on the right of the box and blasted it into the far corner!!

EA Guingamp (A): I decided to treat this like the Dutch league and rotate my entire outfield consistently. On 40’ Martínez showed some of that ball playing ability we signed him for, taking an opposition goal kick and spraying it out wide to Pintor, who took a few touches and played it into the box for Traoré to finish! A few dangerous counters on either side but it ended 1-0. We’re not going to score as many this season if I keep rotating like this, but I think it’ll be a long-term benefit by keeping my key players fresh and allowing the fringe players more time to develop.

Toulouse FC (H): Full strength. Mathieu Gorgelin  joined them on the day of the game on a free, I’m curious to see if Casanova throws him in just to shock us…nope, Baptiste Reynet gets the start. 16’ Max Gradel got a straight red, but there wasn’t even a highlight. 18’ and Ndombele scores a shot from the edge of the box - this is what he’s like with 8 for Finishing and Long Shots, I’m wondering what would happen if I had someone better at that in his role! We also lost both Mendy and Aouar to injuries in the first half, Toulouse clearly not here to play football. We added 2 more in the second half through Fekir’s set pieces and were generally so comfortable I decided to play Oumar Solet as a Target Man just for fun.

 

 

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September 2019

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LOSC (A): A rotated lineup again. Pape Cheikh Diop opened the scoring with a rocket from outside the area in the 20th minute, but they equalised through Bamba in the 38th and that was how it ended.

Rennes (H): A couple of injuries meant I decided to give Giorginio Rutter his debut up top as part of a weakened lineup. Traoré put us ahead around 17 minutes (as usual, we always score around then), before late in the 1st Rayos equalised from distance. Then on 50’ Pintor went old-school CR7, cutting in off the left and blasting it in!

Arsenal (H): Full strength, straight out the gates we attack them, Fekir stealing in at the back post at 6’. Then at 20’ Memphis one-upped Pintor’s effort from the last match, beating 3 men before powering it into the bottom corner! They got one more each before the game was done - an absolute domination of an English team in the CL again, this year we have to build on it.

Clermont (H): Only change is the goalkeeper, as I’ll have to rest players in the next match in preparation for the RB Leipzig away trip. Dembélé was only on the pitch 20 minutes yet still managed to grab a goal before his injury, and we were 4-0 up by half time (Traoré, Fekir, OG). Fekir added his second late on and we hit the woodwork an incredible 4 times (makes 10 in 3 games I think) so it could have been even better.

Montpellier (A): Montpellier are in 7th, so this is a good test for my ‘B’ lineup. Martínez got us under way with a scrappy goal off a corner in the first half. Then in the second Pintor did this:

Subbing on Max Aarons to run at their tired defence was probably unfair, he set up Terrier for the 3rd in added time.

That win leaves us 2 points behind PSG as two of three teams unbeaten after 8 games (Bordeaux, the third, are 7 points behind us as they just keep drawing).

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October 2019

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RB Leipzig (A): First half was mostly our way, but an unlucky deflection saw Mendy credited with an own goal on 41’. 54’ Fekir came up with the goods once again, picking up the ball just inside their half and driving infield before unloading from distance! I’d have liked 6 from 6 but just not losing away from home will probably be good enough if we can win at home.

Bordeaux (H): A mostly strong lineup. Pintor hit the bar at 00:15 and I was feeling confident, and at 16’ Memphis scored a free kick! Despite 40 shots - 18 on target, 12 blocked, 2 woodwork - it remained that way, Costil being deservedly their best player pulling off some spectacular 1v1 players.

Dijon FCO (A): Pintor got us ahead with a penalty, Traoré missed a couple of sitters and they equalised when Jesé (yes, the one who won the Champions League with Real Madrid) carved us open. Frustrating, but one of the risks when I’m focussing so heavily on the Champions League in order to keep my best players.

Olympiakos (A): The ‘A’ team (minus Rafael at RB). Ndombele with his 4th distance goal of the season after 17 minutes, before on 33’ Fekir did it again, picking up the ball, sprinting through the middle of the field until he shot from the left side of the box for 2-0! Fekir added a 3rd mid-way through the 2nd half for a comfortable win. That set a club record unbeaten streak - 22 games - beating a previous one from 2004-05!

FC Nantes (H): The reserves again, at 22’ Guilherme Arana got involved a counter beating 2 men on his way into the box before the finish! Pintor added another 2 minutes later, he’s really coming into his own with the increased first team football.

St. Etienne (H): Full strength for the derby, obviously. 11’ good work from Aouar set up Fekir for the finish! 23’ he had his 2nd, 30’ Ndombele got his 5th of the season (and first from inside of the box), 33’ Rafael got one from a tight angle, 35’ Fekir got his hat-trick!! 38’ Ndombele got his second, outside of the box with his weak foot, and finally on 47:00 exactly Memphis added our 7th!!! 

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On 09/07/2019 at 00:02, zlatanera said:

Youth Intake

When I got the message it was a potential 'golden generation' I was hoping for a CB, DM, RB, LB or even a CM who could tackle...

574347692_Screenshot2019-07-08at23_55_14.thumb.png.38d4611552ab809cdb511b2c33929430.png

...yeah, normally I'd be much more excited about having that many high potential newgens, but they're in the positions where the under 19s are already stacked! I suppose this does mean I shouldn't have to buy an attacker for the next 5 years or so haha

Still a hell of an intake, (and to be expected from Lyon). :thup::applause:

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30 minutes ago, Jimbokav1971 said:

Still a hell of an intake, (and to be expected from Lyon). :thup::applause:

Yes and no. Of the 4 top potential ones two have their attributes in completely the wrong places. The other two though, are outstanding prospects. 

But yeah Lyon always produce good intakes. I had 4 ‘golden generation’ in a row on 18 all with players who lived up to the tag!

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November 2019

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Brest (A): 15’ Giorginio Rutter got his first goal for us! 24’ Pintor unloaded from distance yet again! 32’ Pintor had his second. Lyon academy product Willem Geubbels pulled one back at 65’, but Pape Cheikh DIop got one from distance at 73’.

Olympiakos (H): The Greeks mysteriously lined up with 3 former Newcastle players - Andy Carroll, Siem de Jong and Javi Manquillo. We tore their 4-4-2 diamond apart, Memphis (1 goal 3 assists), Dembélé (hat-trick!), Ndombele (first career hat-trick!!) and Traoré (1 goal) getting the goals.

Strasbourg (H): Mathis Louiserre was too good for the Reserves so I loaned him out to AC Ajaccio. However, they barely played him and I eventually tried of his platitudes and brought him back. He got a 7.2, which must make Ajaccio feel like they’ve missed an opportunity. Amine Gouiri meanwhile had been dreadful so far this season, but he finally got his first goal and also picked up MOTM so hopefully after the international break he keeps it up! This set a Ligue 1 record for games unbeaten, 37!

Reims (A): A nice, boring 1-0 win by the second string to keep the pressure on PSG.

Arsenal (A): In Match Preview the players felt we were favourites, which shows how far we’ve come already! 33’ Henrichs crumbled under our press and Dembélé was in! 37’ Dembélé again came up with the goods, turning his man and scoring from 20 yards! 56’ a well-worked move and Dembélé had his hat-trick, the second in consecutive starts! Even Max Allegri can’t make Arsenal defend like they used to! Özil pulled one back on 64 minutes, but then was responsible for Lacazette’s 89th minute goal being disallowed due to his push. That guaranteed us qualification in 1st place, so I’ll rest players for the final game.

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December 2019

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SM Caen (H): The second string toiled for 80 minutes without breakthrough against a resolute Caen defence, but on 80’ I brought on Fekir and Memphis and 4 minutes later the former proved why he’s one of the best in the world right now, creating the tiniest bit of space in the box to finish for 1-0!

AS Monaco (A): Monaco are in 12th, again falling short of what was expected. I’ve made a gamble that by not training in the two days between this and the next game I can go full strength in both. Moussa Dembélé got the only goal - Kamil Glik, their DC, got man of the match which should tell you everything about the sort of game it was.

Paris SG (A): The gamble worked in that everyone was fit, but some stupid decisions in possession allowed Mbappé to score 2 inside 20 minutes. On 49’ my defenders did that FM thing where despite the maxed out team closing down, they just let Mbappé run through them unchallenged for his hat-trick. We were reduced to 10 men through injury on 75 minutes but didn’t concede further. Fekir is out for 6 weeks and PSG have a 4 points cushion and a game in hand, I think we’ve lost the title.

RB Leipzig (H): We’re guaranteed 1st place, and I think it’d be funny if Arsenal finished in the Europa League spot, so a heavily rotated lineup here. Halstenberg opened the scoring from a corner, but we soon hit back through Thomas. 52’ Pintor put us ahead, meaning we took 16/18 possible points!

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Nîmes (H): We absolutely battered them for 38 minutes until Zagadou headed down a free kick for Ndombele to get his 10th of the season! Memphis added our 2nd on 66’ before on 71’ he cut inside and blasted in our 3rd from 25 yards! Tousart was so excited he decided to get himself a straight red, so he’ll be getting a fine of 2 weeks wages, and they pulled one back at 78’.

FC Lorient (A): Lots of heroic defending (this is starting to be a theme) but at 61’ Pape Cheikh Diop volleyed a clearance back in! Thomas got our 2nd ofter 74 minutes.

OM (H): Rudi Garcia weirdly went from Marseille (4th in Ligue 1) to Sevilla (12th in La Liga) before this game, it’ll be interesting to see if Nuno Espirito Santo changes things much from all the direct running that troubled us in August. 29’ it had been all our way, Ndombele tried to lift one over from deep to Dembélé, which was headed away, he rushed in, received the header and curled it past the keeper from range! They barely had a kick but would couldn’t find another goal. Given they were playing a 5-4-1 though I’m happy we got one.

Barcelona (A): We received £1million to play in Lionel Messi’s testimonial, which I’d have done for free anyway.

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Manchester United, my favourite club, are 8th in the Premier League, Fatih Terim having just been sacked. I should probably have gone through the whole process as there’s an achievement if you’re offered your favourite club’s manager position, but this save is slower than I normally am and I don’t want to exacerbate that.

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Revelatory

As previously stated, there are a lot of awards in Ligue 1, including some awarded annually rather than at the end of the season!

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Zagadou would be an obvious contender, given he joining in January. But tbh I think Guilherme Arana was better, averaging 7.98 last season.

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Posted (edited)

January 2020

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Hyères FC (A): A team that trail our actual Reserves in the 4th tier (in actuality mostly u19s players as most over 18s are too good for that division) should pose no threat…Gouiri and Pintor (2 goals apiece) made it so.
EA Guingamp (H): Although Coupe de la Ligue isn’t important derbies are, so this saw the ‘reserves’ run out again. Traoré, Gouiri and Rutter doing the honours.

AS Saint-Etienne (A): Full strength for the derby, and 2 goals in the first half from Dembélé and Memphis were enough for the win!

Toulouse FC (A): The only change was Lopes in for our cup goalkeeper Onana. Sadly on a day when PSG had failed to win for just the second time this season, we just couldn’t break down their 4-1-4-1 and it ended 0-0. That did however set a club record for games without conceding (6), so expect Lille to put 8 past us in the next match…

LOSC (H): Lille were 3rd going into this, but 16 points behind us. You wouldn’t have known that when Ndombele put us ahead after 7 minutes. Denayer scored off a corner on 24’ before Fekir scored a free kick on 39’ to celebrate his return. Memphis powered through the defence to set up Dembélé on 54’. Terrier added our 5th within 5 minutes of coming on at 74’.

Nîmes (H): There was only one thing that happened, but the spectators certainly got their money's worth!

Edited by zlatanera
Crash, lost progress

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Posted (edited)

January Transfers 2020 - The Unwanted Men

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Our first signing of the window was Rodrigo Rocha Santos - although we do have some high potential strikers, they’re all looking a couple of years behind this guy, and if Moussa Dembélé leaves I’ll need a backup for Gouiri. He’s only 17 so joins in summer, and may end up loaned out to Spain for a couple of years to get EU status. His Passing, Vision and Work Rate need significant improvement - the first two can be done only through training, but the latter will go up if he trains well and I keep praising him. More importantly he’s got all the right attributes for a decent Poacher already - I prefer to get a good striker and make them more well-rounded rather than take a well-rounded player and turn them into a striker.

 

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Next up was Diadié Samassékou - we wanted him in January 2019, but Bayern went in with the big bucks. Unsurprisingly, their midfield was so stacked he barely got a kick. That’s a mandatory fee so he is joining us eventually - signed a contract around £48k/week if memory serves. 

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This then allowed us to sell Pape Cheikh Diop, who has had his future potential growth significantly downgraded - he’s still not a bad player, I’d just rather have Samassékou. When I offered PCD out for £0+installments as usual, Leverkusen bit getting us £17.5m for a guy valued at half that!

 

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Bertrand Traoré wasn’t developing mentally as I’d hoped, that Anticipation stat in particular being far too low for the football I'm trying to play at the level I want to play it at, so I looked around for a young replacement.

I have a general signing policy of French, French-speaking, African or South American players which limited me somewhat, in particular I couldn’t find any left-footed players within budget. My first choice was Lautaro Martínez at Inter. He’d made a mere 2 league appearances over 18 months and I would’ve gladly gone just over my transfer record to give them what they paid for him (£22.5m), however they wanted double that and I couldn’t justify spending that much on a backup for Fekir. I then looked at right-footers, and one player stood out for already being good mentally at a young age: reigning Swiss Super League Youngster of the Year Noah Okafor at Basel. His £14.25m release clause was very reasonable too. 

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One positive out of the crash (other than my results being much better, as I'm not an Instant Result-er I'm not going to keep reloading until I get the same), is that I knew roughly what Milan's ceiling was. Therefore I managed to get £35m straight up out of Milan for the £32m valued Traoré. Not a significant increase, and he's instantly valued at £45m at Milan but I'd rather miss out on a potential sell-on if the alternative is having him sitting around losing value and bringing down the dressing room. Also, that's still 5x what we paid for him!

Edited by zlatanera
Crash, lost progress

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