Despite slowing things down a little bit and spending a bit more time on the game, I’m still playing rather quickly. I’m 19 games into the Ligue 2 campaign. A lot has happened, so I feel it’s a good point to give a little update on things.
There were lots of bids, lots of bids rejected, lots of players moaning about said bids being rejected, lots of player conversations and lots of deep thought during the summer transfer window.
Newcastle United, Southampton and Anderlecht were all in for Lamine Fomba. He was touted as one of my brightest prospects. Bids came, negotiations took place. I eventually negotiated a deal with Southampton that is potentially worth £3.9m. I had rejected a few low-ball offers before agreeing that fee. He really wasn’t happy with me standing in the way of his “dream move” so I eventually relented. In reality, I don’t know what I was playing at by trying to hold onto him. Being serious for a minute, our finances are pretty poor. More importantly, we’re going to be a selling club, so there’s no point in me sitting here pretending otherwise. That’s going to be how I build this club up.
Losing Fomba wasn’t the end of the world. It is a bit gutting to lose one of your potentially great midfielders, but I’m sure many of them will come and go over the course of the save. I’ve not actually built an attachment to him yet either. It’s probably easier to let him go now rather than in two years time when I’d probably be openly expressing my love for him and Googling if it’s possible for me (a man) to give birth to the children of a footballer on my computer game. Yes, I get emotionally attached to my players!
We’ve also got other options that are on his level in central midfield, so someone else will step in.
I had a similar issue when bids came in for Loïc Goujon, I’d talked some sense into myself by then though. Goujon, although good, wasn’t as highly rated as Fomba, so it was less of a wretch to sell him. Again, we’ll benefit from any future sale, so if he does turn out to be a superstar, we’ll get a chunk of the action. I should write myself a note to remember to insert future fee clauses rather than percentage of profit clauses. He joined PAOK in Greece for a deal worth up to £1m and we were left with a much healthier bank balance.
My final departure was Yoann Touzghar. He’s only just joined Auxerre, but I didn’t see him fitting into my starting eleven or even featuring from the bench. His skillset wasn’t amazing and he was earning pretty good money. I managed to sell him on for £300k to ES Tunis. I had less of a dilemma selling him compared to the others.
Transfer deadline day brought it’s own real transfer dilemma. Lots of clubs were chasing Abdoulaye Sissako. Bids were made, a fee was agreed with three clubs around Europe and it was a great deal for the club. I had to stop myself and really think about it. I went out for my usual late night dog walk to mull things over. When I got back, I cancelled the deal. He wasn’t happy about it. Despite it being a financially great deal, it was one step too far. We needed the money, but there weren’t any viable options to replace him. I stood my ground and he stayed.
I made one signing during the transfer window. At the start of the save, three defenders are injured. My centre backs are also getting on a bit so I decided that I needed some reinforcement at the back. Money was tight, so I was looking for a player out of contract.
I eventually stumbled upon Spaniard, Borja Gómez. My scouts agreed he would be a good addition to the squad and my head said the same. He’s certainly good enough for this level and would probably do quite well in Ligue 1 should we get there. His resolute personality was also very appealing for tutoring. He’s my second highest earner, but with no fee, I can’t really complain. He was carrying a knock when he joined so it took a while for him to get going.
They say never go back. I say never go back. During the early stages of the season, I really thought I’d made a mistake by coming back to Auxerre. It’s easy to remember the good times from the FM16 save, but there were some horrible moments along the way.
Things kicked off quite well, a 1-0 victory over Sochaux gave me some optimism after a dodgy pre season. The following games kicked that optimism into touch. A 2-1 reverse at US Orléans and a penalty defeat in the cup to Tours FC were quite disheartening. I was fiddling with my tactic as it wasn’t clicking. Beating RC Lens 2-1 made me think I’d sorted things out, but more doom was coming.
It’s very easy when results aren’t going your way to make bad decisions. I was making lots of bad decisions without basis for them. I was switching player roles, players, instructions and formations just to find something that worked. What followed was a circle of draw/lose/win/draw/lose/win. Goals were proving very difficult to come by. Games were tight, but it was tough watching the team squander chance after chance.
I composed myself and looked at where we were going wrong. My instructions were fine, they were doing what I wanted, but my role and duty allocation was a bit skewed. I made a couple of little tweaks and it all clicked. We drew 2-2 with Le Havre, but I saw enough in that game to know that we were on the right path. More on the tactical setup in the future, promise!
Chances were being converted, points were being collected and we started to climb the table. We’ve been touted for a mid-table finish, so I can’t get too excited just yet. At our lowest, we were in 14th place. At the halfway stage, we’re sitting in 5th place and through to the 9th round of the Coupe de France.
We’ve had a couple of really close games, none more nailbiting than the 3-2 victory over AC Ajaccio with three goals coming in the last three minutes of the match. Thankfully, we held on to get the points.
I said in my previous post that I’d be putting pressure on the board to upgrade some of the facilities at the club at the earliest opportunity. First on the agenda was upgrading Junior Coaching. I was told to go away twice, but on that third attempt, being a bit of a pain in the arse paid off. Can’t say I’ve seen this response before.
After the turnaround in fortunes and improved performances from the players, the board offered me a new contract in December. I didn’t really think that would happen considering how terribly we started, but I’ll take that. It’s only a one year extension, but it shows they’ve got some faith in me.
I’ve got a load of notes written down right now of things that I want to write about. I’ve posted a couple of little snippets about the save on my Twitter so if you’re not following me, be sure to hit me up.
I’ll be reporting in with news from my first youth intake in the coming days. I’m still trying to figure out the best blogging schedule. Hopefully I’m not overloading people with posts.