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It's been too Lens: Titi's flash in the pan to glory

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It's been too Lens: Titi's flash in the pan to glory

Over two decades has passed since Racing Club de Lens, one of Northern France's leading sides, won their only Ligue 1 title in their history. It was back in 1998, A fine year for any Frenchman but even more so for the fans of the 'Blood & Golds'.

Fast-forward to 2019 and the passionate Sang et Or faithful have endured their club in the second tier for seven of the last eight seasons, including the only season in the top flight being played away as their stadium was being renovated for Euro 2016! On top of that, last season they lost in the play-off final due to two costly goalkeeping errors and have had to watch fierce rivals Lille establish themselves as one of France's top teams, even winning the league in the same season Lens were relegated. Was 1997/98 just a flash in the pan, never to be repeated? Or will glory return to Lens...

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Step forward Guinean legend and ex-Liverpool cult hero (in his one and only season) Titi Camara. He spent the mid 90s plying his trade with Lens, however missed out on the title due to transferring to Marseille in the summer of 1997. After a stint away from football, last known role being Guinea's Sports Minister 2010-12 after managing the national side previously, Titi has returned to the north of France with the aim of winning Ligue 1 with Lens and lift the spirits of the Sang et Or faithful.

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A good skill base and reputation to start with owing to his International stardom with Guinea.

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Lens have some of the best facilities in France and a great following; foundations for future success.

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Expectations are high and promotion must be achieved within two seasons. The squad is capable of competing. However....

The Rules!

As a very proud Francophone African, Titi Camara is committing to building a club fully of players and staff of Francophone African players or of African descent:

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The North African countries of Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Mauritania, for the purpose of this save, are not being classed as Francophone so it gives us the following countries as a basic from which to recruit:

West Africa: Senegal, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin, Niger

Central Africa: Chad, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Gabon, The Congo, D.R. Congo, Rwanda, Burundi

South/East Africa: Djibouti, Madagascar, Comoros, Mayotte, Reunion, Mauritius, Seychelles

A mass overhaul of the squad and staff is needed, so to help with this we've started on 10th June 2019. Next update will be on the revamped squad prior to the season start.

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Looking forward to seeing how you do with Lens. They have an awesome kit and I like that you are only signing African players which makes it stand out a bit more.

I always thought about doing a Lens save, I might start one sometime soon after I have completed this Ultimate Manager challenge I am doing.

Good luck to you buddy.

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Love everything about this. Beautiful club, beautiful challenge. Did I say a coal miners club? Yes, you did. Way too many times before this. Please shut up about this. I'll try, thanks for mentioning it.

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2 hours ago, Ronaldo Beckham said:

Looking forward to seeing how you do with Lens. They have an awesome kit and I like that you are only signing African players which makes it stand out a bit more.

I always thought about doing a Lens save, I might start one sometime soon after I have completed this Ultimate Manager challenge I am doing.

Good luck to you buddy.

Good to have you on board for this one, agree the kit is lush may need to get myself one!

1 hour ago, Timetxu said:

Love everything about this. Beautiful club, beautiful challenge. Did I say a coal miners club? Yes, you did. Way too many times before this. Please shut up about this. I'll try, thanks for mentioning it.

I have now looked into Lens' mining history, wasn't the first thing that came to mind but glad it appeases you :D

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Posted (edited)

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June - July 2019 Squad Build Update

The earliest start I've had for a save (10th June) and with good reason. With just a handful of players that start with the club meeting the criteria I aimed to get rid of the majority of the squad. Lots were new signings and difficult to shift, with just two leaving permanently and a few out on loan. The rest will have to play for the second team until they can be offloading in January or next summer. Our transfer budget (£1.7m + some of the Radovanovic fee) was pushed into wages and the free transfer market was raided - perhaps a little bit too much!!

The Squad

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Best Originals ~ Cheick Traore ~ Massadio Haidara ~ Zakaria Diallo

Top Signings ~ Yaya Toure ~ Diafra Sakho ~ Yousseff Mulumbu ~ Ibrahima Cisse ~ Eyong Enoh

Hot Prospects ~ Cheick Doucoure ~ Ansou Sow ~ Jules Keita

As expected, a huge overhaul! We brought in a lot of well known names, with of course Yaya Toure being the highest profile, all of whom in their later years of their careers and bumping up the average age significantly. A lot will be short-term measures until we can start to splash some cash on younger players and scour Africa directly. The backbone of the defence all started with the club (DR Traore, DL Haidara, DC Diallo) and we had a few good young prospects. We have an abundance of defensive midfielders!! All of the eligible players from the 2nd team and U19s were brought up to the first team so Titi can take control of their development with the best 3 prospects linked above.

The Tactic

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With the abundance of quality in DM, I've inverted my midfield to include two, allowing Yaya Toure freedom to create ahead of them.

The Staff

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Assistant Manager - Jimmy Adjovi-Boco ~ HOYD - Maxence Bony

While there were good quality players available, staffing was a little more difficult although I'm happy with what I've been able to put together. I am particularly pleased to bring in Adjovi-Boco who is actually good and spent several seasons at Lens at the same time as Titi - also leaving in 97 and missing out on the title! HOYD options were plenty with many regens with 2nd nationalities fitting the philosophy; Maxence Bony was the best of the bunch. The rest of the staff was a mix of regens as well as a few familiar names. Not pictured here, but we had to compromise a little on the medical staff - our Head Physio is not African but a regen from Lens. We obviously also have no say in doctors and directors.

Opening Game

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We kicked off the campaign with a win away at recently relegated Guingamp showing our ambition from the offset. Weirdly this game is played in July and then we have a two week break before the next game.

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Edited by smp20

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A 1-0 win and no shots faced :lock:

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Posted (edited)

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August 2019 Update

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Building on our opening win in July we've kept up our form and boast a 100% record so far :)

Edited by smp20

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September - October 2019 Update

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Chamois Niortais scuppered our 100% record, but we've turned into late 1-0 specialists it seems. Having two holding mids really gives us a hard-to-crack defence, even beating top tier side Amiens in the cup.

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We're sailing at the top and I hope we can maintain this form!!

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I hope you got Yaya Toure a birthday cake lol.

Keep up the good work mate, you are doing really well.

Have you tried googling the best players in Africa to see if you can find a hidden gem from an African side. I usually add the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Senegal, Nigera leagues and just scout every team there to find me the next Yaya Toure etc.

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19 minutes ago, Ronaldo Beckham said:

I hope you got Yaya Toure a birthday cake lol.

Keep up the good work mate, you are doing really well.

Have you tried googling the best players in Africa to see if you can find a hidden gem from an African side. I usually add the Ivory Coast, Ghana, Senegal, Nigera leagues and just scout every team there to find me the next Yaya Toure etc.

:lol: his birthday is 13th May so I've got a bit of time to get the cake sorted! Cheers, I wasn't sure how well a whole revamped team would work from the offset but the quality of player is showing through.

I have only got France (all leagues) and top divisions of Belgium, England, Spain, France and Germany loaded, however I have opted in for top division players in West Africa and Central Africa regions and I've got my scouts in Senegal and Ivory Coast (the only countries outside of Europe we are able to scout). Hopefully we can pick up a few direct from Africa and once we're in Ligue 1 we'll be able to scout across the whole continent :D.

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29 minutes ago, smp20 said:

:lol: his birthday is 13th May so I've got a bit of time to get the cake sorted! Cheers, I wasn't sure how well a whole revamped team would work from the offset but the quality of player is showing through.

I have only got France (all leagues) and top divisions of Belgium, England, Spain, France and Germany loaded, however I have opted in for top division players in West Africa and Central Africa regions and I've got my scouts in Senegal and Ivory Coast (the only countries outside of Europe we are able to scout). Hopefully we can pick up a few direct from Africa and once we're in Ligue 1 we'll be able to scout across the whole continent :D.

That is a good set up. I also bought in scouts who had good knowledge of certain African nations to help with the scouting etc.

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Like the premise of this save. I will follow.

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3 hours ago, Ronaldo Beckham said:

That is a good set up. I also bought in scouts who had good knowledge of certain African nations to help with the scouting etc.

Yeah when I can find some quality retired-player-turned-scouts I will be able to get a better grasp on the whole of Africa :)

34 minutes ago, Hootieleece said:

Like the premise of this save. I will follow.

Cheers, good to have you on board :D

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November - December 2019 (Mid Season) Update

Results

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A couple of stretches of results went, starting with our 100% home record vs Le Mans and then our overall unbeaten record vs Auxerre, but still great strides in progress. Highlights include a 6-0 thumping of Rodez and of course the 91st minute 1-0 win vs giants Lyon to progress in the cup.

League Table

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One game off the half way point and we're a mighty 15 points clear of seconds. The league is ours to lose and we best not bottle it!

Coupe de la Ligue

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One of the other delightful results of the round of 16 was Reims beating PSG - the quarter finals look like this and it's anybody's trophy!

Player Stats

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Listed in terms of minutes played (all above over 100 mins) here's how the the stats look. Both full-backs have excelled with the freedom of being complete wing backs while Diafra Sakho leads the line with 12 goals. But the success story thus far is a 36-year-old Yaya Toure who's smashing the ratings as an advanced playmaker and being awarded for it:

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Djigui Diarra becomes our first siging direct from Africa, bought from Stade Malien for just £100k! He's a good all round keeper and will easily become our first choice, but he has one clear weakness which is his 5ft 8in stature! 

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45 minutes ago, smp20 said:

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Djigui Diarra becomes our first siging direct from Africa, bought from Stade Malien for just £100k! He's a good all round keeper and will easily become our first choice, but he has one clear weakness which is his 5ft 8in stature! 

Nice to see Yaya Toure turning the clock back, make the most of him while you can cos I think he retires after one season from my experiences. He would be a good coach down the road.

I always rated Sakho when he was at West Ham, he is a solid striker for you.

That Diarra looks good, its nice to see you recruiting direct from Africa. If you want a big towering centre back then Rivlado Coetze is a bargain centre back buddy.

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Yessss, Roland Lamah <3 . Proper hero at Roda, albeit for just one season.

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12 hours ago, Ronaldo Beckham said:

Nice to see Yaya Toure turning the clock back, make the most of him while you can cos I think he retires after one season from my experiences. He would be a good coach down the road.

I always rated Sakho when he was at West Ham, he is a solid striker for you.

That Diarra looks good, its nice to see you recruiting direct from Africa. If you want a big towering centre back then Rivlado Coetze is a bargain centre back buddy.

Yeah he usually retires after season 1, season 2 at best - hopefully he will be a decent staff member in the future! Sakho had one good season for West Ham then saw his chances limited. I like the look of Diagny Diarra but he's definitely the smallest keeper I've ever had, wonder what impact it will have.

Unfortunately Rivaldo Coetzee doesn't meet the criteria I set out as he's South African - I know him well from my Santa Clara save :)

34 minutes ago, Timetxu said:

Yessss, Roland Lamah <3 . Proper hero at Roda, albeit for just one season.

I thought of you when I saw his history, didn't realise he was a hero though :D

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Souleymane Diaby becomes our 2nd player direct from Africa in the January transfer window, signing from Ivorian club SC Gagnoa for £150k. He will be Haidara's backup for now, but definitely one for the future. We haven't been given any real transfer budget to speak of, so for now these will be our only signings in January.

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14 hours ago, smp20 said:

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Djigui Diarra becomes our first siging direct from Africa, bought from Stade Malien for just £100k! He's a good all round keeper and will easily become our first choice, but he has one clear weakness which is his 5ft 8in stature! 

Dwarf GoalKeeper FTW!

Just like all the Regen Dwarf Center Backs the Game World creates...I turn them into BWM-D MC's!

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January 2020 Update

Transfers Out

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We had only two players come in, highlighted in previous posts, but our outgoing were busier. Armand Traore, Richard Soumah and Salif Coulibaly were all signings in the summer but had become surplus to requirements and demanded more football. Of course the only option is to get rid! Madri, Sotoca and Leca were all non-Africans that I hadn't been able to shift previously, while we sold two of our U19s with 50% next sale if they did ever amount to anything.

Results

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Very different fortunes depending on the competition. In the French Cup we beat Ligue 2 opposition in two round to reach a last 16 tie against Bordeaux. In the League Cup we won in Quarters and then smashed Ligue 1 side Angers to secure a place in the final against Rennes :D. However, we lost both of our league games including a 2-0 loss at home to bottom side Orleans...

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1 hour ago, Hootieleece said:

Dwarf GoalKeeper FTW!

Just like all the Regen Dwarf Center Backs the Game World creates...I turn them into BWM-D MC's!

I'm not sure Djigui will take to kindly to being dumped into midfield :lol:

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Up to four straight losses in the league :herman:

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February 2020 Update

Transfers?

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Yoane Wissa

Moussa Sow, our first choice left inside forward, done his achilles and is out for the rest of the season. I wanted to replace him and hoped we could bring in a 'Joker Transfer' by asking for more funds. I found my man in Wissa and was delighted to get the deal done....but unfortunately we won't be seeing him yet as the Joker window is only Sept-Dec! Oh well, I know for next time.

Results

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As shown earlier, we were in a bit of a rut in the league. A fiesty fixture against Bordeaux (8 yellows / 1 red for them as well as 4 yellows for us) ended in an extra time win and place in the Quarter finals. Thankfully our second string got us out of the rut against lowly Chambly-Thelle, though our best eleven couldn't pull off an upset vs PSG and we were knocked out the the cup. Our league form has returned thanks to injured Sow's backup Jonathan Zongo who has scored in 4 straight league games!

League Table

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Our slip up of losing our opening 4 league games of year 2020 has allowed clubs to narrow the 15 point gap we'd set in December, but we're still 9 points clear and just 12 games to go. We can't afford another blip like that though!

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I realised that I forgot to mention our youth intake preview! It looks very promising, hopefully a lot are African-descent but it's great to see the highlighted one is from Bamako, Mali :D

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Youth Intake 2020

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Sergilio Balde ~ Mory Traore ~ Brehima Diakite ~ Sekou Kalapo

This is an incredible intake in which you couldn't really ask for more :D. Sergilio Balde is an outstanding prospect, born in the next town but with Guinean heritage. He will hopefully be our bulldozer in midfield for years to come! Mory Traore, another one from a neighbouring town this time with Ivorian heritage, is a crazy keeper! High eccentricity, punching and rushing out, he's a dream sweeper-keeper though I wouldn't put it past him to make some glaring errors in his career. Brehima Diakite is the Bamako-born winger touted in the preview and he fits perfectly in our system as an inside forward. The last player who fits the philosophy is Sekou Kalapo, who will be re-trained as a centre mid. Of course we would have liked to keep some of the other prospects, but they will be released as they don't fit the criteria. It'll be interesting to see if the better ones goes elsewhere and make careers for themselves.

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March - April 2020: Build up to the Cup Final

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2 wins and two draws in the league, but all eyes are now on the cup final against Rennes.

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The teams are in! Our team matches us nicely to theirs in a man-for-man defence. Hope we can do it!

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6 mins in and a lovely ball from Mulumbu to Haidara who tucks it away for 1-0!!!

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It's 1-1 at half-time, Niang nodding home the equaliser midway through the half. Come on Sang et Or!!!

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FFS. Jules Keita, who's only just come on, gives the ball away going down injured in our box and they capitalise :mad:

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Posted (edited)

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Rennes went on to dominate the second half :(

Edited by smp20

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:ackter:

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We seem to be doing everything within our power to mess the promotion up :seagull: - the goal scored by a player who has agreed a transfer to us!!!

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Right, here we go. Squeaky bum time, it's in our hands. 

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Now that's more like it :D - 8 points clear of 2nd place with 3 games left. A win at home vs rivals Valenciennes will seal it!!!

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Definitely have two chances to seal the League win!

Great Season, I figured with the complete overhaul of the club you would be outside contenders for Promotion and real underdogs for the Title.

Because I figured that Team Dynamics and tactical cohesion would take a massive hit.

That is based on my own experiences with FM20 ME.

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Well done on your success. It will be good to see how much money you get for your season in the French Ligue 1 and who you bring in.

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13 hours ago, Hootieleece said:

Definitely have two chances to seal the League win!

Great Season, I figured with the complete overhaul of the club you would be outside contenders for Promotion and real underdogs for the Title.

Because I figured that Team Dynamics and tactical cohesion would take a massive hit.

That is based on my own experiences with FM20 ME.

Yeah it's been a really strange season, we started very well and have had a mixed second half of the season, when from a dynamics / cohesion perspective you'd expect it to be the other way round!

12 hours ago, Ronaldo Beckham said:

Well done on your success. It will be good to see how much money you get for your season in the French Ligue 1 and who you bring in.

Thanks :D - as you'll see in the next post, it's pretty hefty!!

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The promotion had been confirmed before we played our 36th game and we've been given a bit of a war chest to work with :). Unfortunately despite dominating we couldn't seal the title at home to Valenciennes...

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Posted (edited)

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Guingamp failed to win their game in hand meaning the title is ours without needing to kick a ball :D

Edited by smp20

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It's also nice to see this happen :) - of course they can't be promoted but it's been a 95% African team as we've had control over who plays for Bruno N'Gotty's side.

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Posted (edited)

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April - May 2020 Overview

Results

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April was a bit of a mixed month; losing the cup final and also a couple of poor losses in the league but also 3 away wins. May was better; shame not to beat Valenciennes but the pressure was off the last two and we were able to finish the season strong.

League Table

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Thanks to beating our closest competitors Auxerre and Guingamp within the last four games we end the season 11 points clear of second place :)

Edited by smp20

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Player Awards ~ Player Stats ~ Facilities ~ Upgrades ~ Finances ~ Club Vision

Overall a season to be proud of where we were able to achieve promotion in a comfortable fashion as well as reach a cup final. Yaya Toure was our player of the season, which isn't surprising as he was given a free role in midfield to create. He hasn't stated he's going to retire, though as you can see he's declined a lot over the season and may struggle to get in the team unless we continue to accommodate him. Diafa Sakho was Lens and Ligue 2 top scorer, his tally of 17 league goals his best since he left Metz in Ligue 2 for West Ham. Cheick Doucoure was the best developer over the course of the season, starring for the second team before working his way into starting in the first team. I see him as a box-to-box midfielder and he is being trained to do so.

I may come to regret investing £10m into facility upgrades to already excellent facilities, but once it's done it's done. Our finances were looking good prior to that, but now our transfer budget far outweighs our balance and I'm worried about using it. We've had two recruitment / junior coaching upgrades throughout the season, going from adequate - good in around November and in May up to excellent. The board have added a lot of new 'philosophies' including not signing over 30s and signing U23s for the first team. The most interesting one is to sign players from the lower levels of the domestic game, which I'm hoping includes the domestic level in Africa :brock:. I will work within these parameters as best I can, however I will not turn down the opportunity to bring in over 30s players if they're big names that will made an immediate impact.

We're expected to steer away from relegation next season, though I'm hoping with the right deals in the transfer market we will be able to better than that.

RClens.jpg

 

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Willy Keita will be joining us two days after his 15th birthday and is certainly one for the future!

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Wow what a transfer budget. It will be good to see who you bring in. I just hope you don't go overboard and ruins your finances.

 

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Good read so far and great progress!

There I am in my save trying to attract Cameroonians back to their homeland and you're trying here to take them away :D

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, Ronaldo Beckham said:

Wow what a transfer budget. It will be good to see who you bring in. I just hope you don't go overboard and ruins your finances.

 

I've decided I'm not going to 'splash out' and rather go for freebies, transfer listed or players from lower rep leagues - aim to spend around half of the budget :brock:

52 minutes ago, ToMexico!! said:

Good read so far and great progress!

There I am in my save trying to attract Cameroonians back to their homeland and you're trying here to take them away :D

Thanks - perhaps we can set up an affiliation :lol:

Edited by smp20

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Yaya ended up retiring in the end, which I think is a blessing in disguise. He's turned into a useful, albeit not top class, coach who we've offered a contract to work with our U19s. He wanted £5k to do the job before retiring, but has now agreed on £2.5k which is the max we could offer him. Fingers crossed he stays with us.

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fbe3c8de8dc89a313fa6d438898b17f9.png

We had a good HOYD already, but then this guy showed up :eek:

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