For the past couple of seasons, the owner/chairman has been looking to sell the club. There had been a few offers and they failed. However, towards the end of the season, Daniel Kretinsky made an offer for the club and after several stories popped up informing me that a deal was near collapse, the chairman released a statement saying things were on track. Rumours came out that he planned to replace me with Laurent Blanc. The deal eventually went through.
The last time this happened, I’d just saved a team from relegation, just missed out on Europe and had big plans for a save. I was really worried that the same thing was going to happen here. We finally get a new owner and then he decides to sack me? The bastard.. Auxerre would still be in Ligue 2 without me!
My plans were in turmoil and I got really angry about it. I couldn’t search for players, I couldn’t make any board requests. It was a waiting game. I started to look at the job section to see if there was anything else I could go for to continue the save. A couple of weeks went by. Then the word came in…
Lets get started!
By now, I suppose I have accepted that we’re a selling club. We buy cheap, get above average performances out of players and sell them high. Really high. This season was no different.
My captain, Emanuel Mammana has been being tracked by Europes Elite clubs for two years, at some point I was going to lose him. I didn’t really want him to go to an English club. Bayern pursued him aggressively this year and I let him go. I signed him for £4m and made a £25m profit. Alexis Mac Allister was a player I had high hopes for, but for one reason or another, I never really had an affinity towards him. Dortmund came calling with a £29.5m offer. Not one to stand in the way of a great move, off he went and we pocketed a tidy £22.5m profit on him. The only other player that left was youth product Soulaimane Amaldine, joining Inter for £2.5m. He wasn’t really reaching anywhere near what I expected of him, despite his young age, I could see it wasn’t something that would work out. His game time dramatically dropped last season, so off he went.
I only made one signing this season. It’s a player I’d been tracking for a couple of years, but on previous attempts, Liverpool wanted waaaaay too much money. This season they dropped their financial expectations and I got my man. Christian Pulisic joined for £17.5m. He’ll be playing on the left of midfield, although he can also operate on the right if needed.
Well the big news is that we’ve been taken over. We sold over 15,000 season tickets this year and again our average attendance was around 97%.
I was hoping after a few months of the new owners being in charge, I could put in my request for a new stadium. The option never appeared. I asked the question on Twitter to see if anyone had any idea why it wasn’t there. A cooling off period was one reason, which would make sense, look at how long it took for FSG to decide expanding Anfield was a good option for Liverpool.
When the season ended, a Steam achievement notification popped up. Hello, what’s this?
It finally happened. A new stadium in two years time. The cost of the project is actually cheaper than I expected too. The board obviously saw the rise in season ticket sales and were planning ahead in the background, the crafty buggers!
As the squad is developing quite nicely, challenging in the cups happens almost by accident now. In the Coupe de la Ligue, we knocked out Troyes, Monaco and Lorient to setup a final with Toulouse. It was a pretty drab affair in the end though, with a 28th minute penalty by Raynaud sealing the win for us. Toulouse only managed one shot all game.
We made it to the Coupe de France semi final, but we were actually beaten by Toulouse in that game, a 90th minute winner sealing their 2-1 comeback. They would eventually go on to lose against Monaco in the final.
The Champions League was again a tough affair, but I thought we had a chance of getting out of the group. We were drawn with Sporting CP, FK Austria Wien and Leverkusen. We actually did remarkably well, only losing one game. We managed to get two victories over Sporting, 3-1 and 3-0, and Austria Wien, 1-0 and 2-1. We topped the group and I hoped for a reasonable draw in the knockout round. That didn’t happen though. Real Madrid placed second in their group and we drew them. A 2-0 defeat at the Bernabeu, 38 year old Ronaldo nabbing one of the goals, was followed by a 1-1 draw in front of a sold out home crowd. I really hope we can step up in this competition in the coming couple of years. A quarter final or better would be great.
In the league, Montpellier were the surprise package, they didn’t concede for about 13 games, nicking 1-0 victories left right and centre. They were serious challengers for the title. We started well, but after a eight games, we went through a spell of four games where we didn’t score a goal. Granted, we didn’t concede in three of them, but it was very frustrating to watch us spurn chance after chance. I adjusted a couple of things and we got back on track.
In fact, we got right on track, after the defeat to Dijon, we won 10 out of our next 16 games. We gradually climbed the table and watch PSG’s title bid falter as they lost 4 of their last 6 games, giving us the opportunity to claim the second title of my reign in charge of Auxerre.
As you can see, Montpellier fell away, but Lille stepped things up this season as did Nice. Good to have different teams in the top four or five places. Lyon were very unfortunate, to slip down to 7th, especially since they won 21 matches.
Christian Pulisic was my only signing this year and he proved to be a very good one. He didn’t set the world on fire with his goals(8) or assists(11) tally, but his contribution to play was excellent. He finished the season with the highest average rating with 7.84. On the opposite flank to Pulisic was the influential Julien Gautier who managed 15 assists this year.
On the goalscoring front, wonderkid, Fabien Raynaud finished the season as top scorer with 23 goals. Azevedo finished behind him on 14 while Marko Grujic was the surprise package, scoring 13 from central midfield. Grujic scored some thronkers this year and carried us to victory on more than one occasion. Vigier had another good season, while Albert Prol really progressed this year, getting more and more consistent with his performances.
I have some decisions to make on the likes of Azevedo and Rabiot next season. Rabiot is at the stage where I could still make good money from him and Azevedo was largely inconsistent, despite his goals. I’ve got a very good youngster waiting in the wings to fill his spot in the team should a club come in with a bid.
Robert Solís asked to leave in January as Real Madrid and Man City were interested, so a new centre back might need to be brought in as I’ve been getting serious interest in Makadji as well. The big clubs are really trying to hand pick our youngsters, but at the same time, the likes of Prol and Raynaud have agreed new contracts this year which will hopefully help keep them for a few more years.
Roger Toure is the latest player to break into the first team from the under 19’s. Needs a lot of game time, but with the right training, I think he’ll be a great player for us. He did well in the games he played for us this year.
Surviving the board takeover, winning a league a cup double for the first time and finally getting a new stadium announcement makes for quite a dramatic season.
I really thought we’d struggle in the league after our bad start, but we went on one of those runs where we weren’t exactly amazing, but were seeing out games consistently.
We kept a lot of clean sheets again, which is something I always strive for. Our attack was a bit inconsistent this year as we wasted a lot of good chances in games that we should have scored a lot more goals. I’m putting that down to inexperience just now.
Onwards and upwards for next season!