Getting back into the top flight at the first attempt was somewhat, unexpected. But that is sometimes the joy, or horror, of FM. I certainly had the impression prior to the start of the season that it was going to be a nightmare. I was pleased with my transfer business, but I’m was unsure if it was going to be enough.
Over the course of the season we had some stinking results. Inconsistency and an inability to convert chances into goals was a big problem for us and it really was deflating at times. One step forward was followed by two steps back. Our season started well, but a slump of five games without a victory in September & October left me scratching my head.
The 3-1 defeat at Lyon was really disappointing as we controlled that game for long periods but we couldn’t break them down. All three goals conceded in that game were a result of counter attacks. Our performance did give me a bit of hope that things were on the right path. We managed to pick up victories in our next three games against teams I’d consider much better than us. The satisfying thing about those victories was that we kept clean sheets in all of them.
We almost caused a massive upset when we drew 2-2 with PSG in January. Twice we took the lead and twice they struck back to equalise. We had more possession, better chances and we were very good at winning the ball back. It was a very pleasing performance that I thought would lead on to another run of wins, alas, it did not. Four games went by before we picked up our next victory. In fact, we set a new Auxerre record for games without a win(including cup competitions.) The end of the season was very up and down, four tough defeats frustrated the life out of me.
Upon reviewing where things went wrong, the Ligue 1 table showed that we were nothing short of atrocious on the road. We only picked up 17 points from away games all season. The fifth lowest in the league. In contrast to that, was our home form where we won 37 points and only lost 3 times. Interestingly, that was the fifth best record in the league behind the teams that finished in the top four spaces.
Nothing to really write home about here as were knocked out of both competitions fairly early on. Toulouse scored two very late goals to knock us out of the Coupe de la Lige and PSG controlled the game in the French Cup. Both games 2-1 defeats.
I said in one of my posts from last season that when things are going wrong, it’s easy to fall into the trap of changing things with your tactic every few games. I was very guilty of that this season. I’ll need to be a bit more disciplined next season. My tactic needs some refinement and I’ll be assessing where my problems were.
We used the same basic shape all season but I changed aspects of it from time to time, especially when things were going poorly. Ayé spent most of the season playing as a DLF/S but I switched him in the latter part of the season as he was improving. I suspect my main issue is in midfield though as we’re not quite linking with the front line effectively.
It gets very congested in the middle of the park when the widemen cut inside. I end up with five players just outside the box at times with no real passing option or movement going on. That will be the first thing I intend to address. If we want to score goals and win games, we need to create spaces for our players to move and pick up the ball.
I’ve been a bit lazy with my tactics this season, so I’ll try to do a bit more problem solving with it in the coming season.
The new signings settled in well. Bilbao and Aloé formed a good partnership in the centre of defence. Aloé took over the captaincy from Obraniak, who left in January on a free transfer. Ayé did very well to score 15 goals in Ligue 1, he should’ve had more though. Lamy made the step up from the youth team to become an option in defensive midfield. He did well in the games he played and will become a member of the first team squad for next season.
There’s likely to be a few changes to the squad this summer with one or two coming and going and possibly a couple of players promoted from the youth ranks.
Despite him having a very up and down season, Abdoulaye Sissako was still attracting interest from some big clubs. Wolfsburg eventually put a bid in for him in January. His development had been very good, so I was keen for that to continue with Auxerre for the forseeable future. I know I’ll eventually lose him, but it’s got to be the right deal for us. Upon rejecting the offer, his agent approached me to get a new deal. I was quite happy with that as it meant he was still open to staying. If he had a new contract, it meant he wasn’t looking to leave and would preserve his value.
He wasn’t the only one to get a new contract. The board had seen enough in to offer me a new contract, this time extending my stay until 2020. There had been offers from plenty of clubs in France again, but I’m not interested. It’s Auxerre or nothing right now.
The start of March is an exciting time. Youth intake day gives me a look at the future and what it holds. We had another excellent intake. A few players look really exciting. I forgot to get a screenshot of it before they merged with the Under 19’s, so please ignore Desfossez from that list.
Some good player personalities in there and also, some not so good ones. Nothing tutoring can’t fix though. I tend not to pay too much attention to the best role column as that will change as the player develops. It does give you a quick indication of where a players best attributes currently lie without having to click on every player.
Two players currently stand out to me as being good prospects. Tiago Vieira is a defensive midfielder, but I feel with some work, he’ll develop into a good Box to Box midfielder due to his Fitness, Stamina, Teamwork and Work Rate. He’s only 15 an these attributes are already at a good level.
Aurélien Muller was the player picked out as being “one of the best players of his generation” when my HOYD gave me the lowdown on the new recruits. Admittedly, he’s right. He’s already pretty strong for his age and has the tackling/marking thing down. At 6’4″, he should be a good influence in the air as well. I’m already quite excited to work with these players.
And there we have it, Ligue 1 status secured and with the youth intake, it looks like the future is rather bright. Next season I’ll be looking to perform a bit better, but still aiming for mid-table. Anything other than that is a bonus. 7th was a very, very good season overall. I’m probably being quite hard on myself regarding results. I should remember that we just got promoted and one of the teams that finished above me in Ligue 2 last season got relegated. We were only 6 points short of nabbing a Europa League place and only 14 off of getting a Champions League place. Bloody hell, we actually did alright when I think of it like that.
I’ll just sign off by leaving this lovely goal that Kiliç scored in a game we went on To-Lose…