As I weep into my beer having just watched Liverpool lose the Europa League Final, it’s time to round up my ninth season at Auxerre.
Having survived the board takeover, we marched on and claimed a League and Cup double in the new owners first season. Hopefully that’s enough to secure my place and show them that I mean business.
I wasn’t getting carried away though, the teams around me are improving and it’s still quite a tough league to win. I would really like to make an impression in Europe but it’s a tough nut to crack.
I said in the last post that I had some big decisions to make regarding transfers. After mulling it over for a bit, I decided to part ways with Rui Azevedo, who had been a consistent goalscorer ever since he got promoted to the first team. He was in the last year of his contract and hadn’t had an amazing season last year. I had two very good strikers waiting in the wings, so Azevedo was sold to Empoli for £8m.
The only other major departure this year was that of Fikret Köksal. He was on fire for me, scoring 11 goals in 17(10) appearances, mainly from left midfield. He’d missed 4months through injury on each of the last two seasons and despite his great performances, he was a luxury. Real Madrid showed their interest and after a bit of negotiation, I managed to sell him for £31.5m plus a potential £12m in appearance based clauses.
I actually only signed two first team players this season. The first of which was Timo Großöhmichen from Hannover for £14m. He was quite well sought after, so I had a bit of competition to get him to join. By looking at his attributes, you can see why. He’s going to sit in front of my defenders, break up play and distribute the ball forward with his great passing ability.
I decided to take another centre back on board as I thought we were a bit light at times after Mammana departed. I signed Belgian defender Liam Brunel from AaB for £2.3m. He’s a solid defensive option and his low fee made him a perfect signing.
I mentioned in the post I did about youth players, that I’d show some of the new guys in the first team. This season I’ve promoted two 17 year olds who will be getting used going forward.
First up is David Lemoine, a left sided midfielder who likes to cut in onto his stronger right foot and come central. He’s quick, works hard and already looks like he could be an important player for us. Game time is required to develop him further.
I also moved Bigger Kalala into the first team as an option on the right. It was mainly due to an injury dilemma I had at the time, but I was impressed with his attributes and kept him around the first team for the remainder of the season and plan to use him more next year. Again, he has great pace and work rate, but he likes to stick to his side of the pitch.
We started the season off with the Super Cup game against Monaco, which we lost 1-0. A 54th minute goal saw us off in an average display. A disappointing start as we had a really good pre season against some decent teams.
In the Champions League, we were straight into the group stage alongside Atletico Madrid, Roma and Legia. We managed to finish second in the group, only failing to secure first position after a final game defeat to Roma. We had good results against Atletico, beating them 2-0 and 3-1, which was very pleasing. For the second year running, we were drawn against Real Madrid in the first knockout round. At home, we came back from 2-0 down to win 3-2, a 92nd goal securing the victory and a nice comeback. At the Bernabéu, we were unfortunate, losing 2-1, despite playing well. Their two away goals carried them into the next round. One day, I’ll get past that first knockout round. One day!
In the Cups, we made it to the quarter final in the Coupe de France, losing 3-0 to Nice. We were knocked out of the Coupe de la Ligue at the 4th round stage, again by Nice, after a penalty shoot out. No luck in the cups this season.
Did we have any luck in the League? Well yes, yes we did. In fact, we had a really good Ligue 1 season, leading the table for most of the way. Things got a bit dodgy towards the season as Lyon went on a charge towards the top.
We had an 11 point lead at point point, but we threw away the games against Troyes and Toulouse. We gave away a stupid penalty to Lille and we just couldn’t break down Monaco. Anything less than a draw against Clermont and it was bye bye to two titles in a row. Thankfully, we were strong and the game was over by half time. 3-0 and my third title at Auxerre was secured.
PSG didn’t have a great season, finishing well off pace. They seem to have calmed their spending down this year and I’m not sure if that’s down to the chairman leaving or what, I’ve not actually checked.
I’m still focusing very much on youth. As I said earlier, we’ve got a couple of new youngsters in the first team and a very young team overall. It’s really great to have all of these youngsters coming out of the youth setup and making it into the team. Obviously, not everyone can get there and I’ve had to cut some along the way. The future is bright as they say.
Unfortunately, some players have their heads turned and at one point this season, Raynaud was going to leave, Man Utd bid £50m on deadline day, but it was a bit late in the day. He moaned at first, but was fine afterwards.
My two main strikers had great seasons, Raynaud scored 22 and Youga picked up 18. Both of these strikers were looked at in my youth post a few weeks back. Excellent progress. I suspect I’ll lose Raynaud shortly, but I’ve got lots of faith in Youga to carry the responsibility up front.
Vigier finished the season with 12 assists, with Gautier just behind him on 10. Gautier had the highest average rating and won fans player of the year by a country mile.
My signings were pretty good. Brunel didn’t play as much as originally planned as Solís didn’t move on when he really looked like he would. Teams are still chasing him though, so perhaps Brunel will be more involved next year, 24 starts was enough to keep him happy.
Großöhmichen was really good for us and did exactly what I expected of him. His passing was really good and he was more often than not, in the right place, at the right time. He did however, have a problem with discipline as he picked up 18 yellow cards in all competitions, 14 of them coming in Ligue 1. I’m sure he’d have managed more games if he wasn’t suspended as much. I wouldn’t say he was dirty, although he did do one of those lovely lunging, two footed tackles for his only red card, but still, it’s the only concern of his otherwise good season.
Delighted to have claimed a second league title, although I was a bit annoyed that it came down to the last game of the season due to us losing our rather large advantage.
The cups weren’t great and the Champions League is getting frustrating. I’m determined to get to a quarter final. It will happen, it will happen! Maybe I need a USA soccer chant in the stadium when we play “I believe that we will win” how do you say that in French?
Got to keep aiming to win the league now too as we’ve definitely got the quality now.
Suspect I’ll be losing a couple of first team players in the summer. Solís is likely to go and I I’ll likely move on Rabiot and Fuchs as I have good replacements in the team already.
Next season will be our last before we move into our new stadium. Exciting times!
Thanks again for reading folks.