Ten years, flippin’ hell, I need to get out more and do some work! Never thought I’d make ten years if I’m honest. Still got mega save paranoia after what happened in FM16. I’ve not needed to call in the backups yet, but there are many!
So, what’s the point in this post? Well, it’s just to have a look back over the past ten years, see what’s been achieved, what goals have been hit, where things haven’t gone to plan and all the other stuff in between.
I wrote a list of goals that I wanted to achieve when I started this save back in November. I never set a timescale, but it’ll be interesting to see if I’ve achieved any of those targets. So lets have a look.
On The Pitch
- Regain and Retain Ligue 1 status.
- Challenge towards top end of table and secure European Football.
- Become Ligue 1 champions.
- Embed club as main title contenders and rivals to PSG, Lyon and Monaco.
- Challenge for European honours.
- Play an exciting style of football.
Getting promotion in the first season was a bit of a surprise for me, even if it was via the play-off. We quickly established ourselves as a team looking to challenge at the top end of the table and we’ve never finished lower than seventh since we got back in the top flight. We secured Europa League football in our second season in Ligue 1.
We’ve worked our way to being in contention for the title and have picked up the title in three of the last four seasons, with our style of football improving as we go. I’d struggled with some of my tactical ideas for the first couple of years in the top flight, regularly changing roles to try and make things work a bit better before finally moving to a 433 that is very exciting and scores lots of goals. We had a couple of seasons where we were unbelievable defensively and a couple where we couldn’t buy a goal. We worked through the goal issues and were still successful in those seasons.
I bloody hate PSG at this moment in time, but I love them a bit as well. In a lot of leagues, you can dominate and pull away from the pack quite easily, but PSG are always pushing me to try and maintain the high performance levels. It’s not always possible and they’ve also slipped a few times themselves. We’ve got a dynamic rivalry with PSG, Monaco and Lyon, which is really interesting as I’ve never had that. PSG are actually fierce rivals.
The only area we’ve failed to progress in is Europe. We’ve been to the quarter final once, which is still quite amazing, but we’re usually well beaten in the first knockout round. It’s an area I’m definitely aiming to do better in. I think the club is still a few years away from getting to the final, but we’ve got to be aiming for the quarter final on a regular basis now.
Off The Pitch
- Improve club facilities.
- Expand commercial income.
- Ensure financial stability of club.
- Expand fanbase.
- Build new stadium.
It’s very difficult to control the off the pitch stuff, but with good performances on pitch, it sort of takes care of itself. Facilities have been upgraded as high as they can go. It took a little bit of time for that to happen as the board were putting it off a bit. I moaned about it and they appeased me. When the new board took over, they finished the job.
As you can see, the new stadium has been built and we’re in the process of upgrading it again as the demand for tickets is so high. We’ve been selling out our stadium for the past 2-3 years. This latest upgrade will take the capacity up to around 44,000. This obviously means our fanbase has expanded massively. In the first season, we sold 2580 season tickets, in our tenth season, we’d sold 18,907 and up to 24,410 in the 11th. Average attendance is obviously up, 5712 in the first season, 29,713 out of 29,723 in season ten. 29,723 was the capacity before they started work on the expansion.
Commercial income has grown massively. As the reputation of the club has grown and we’ve improved performances in competitions, we’ve attracted bigger sponsorship deals and sold more kits. We’ve only done a couple of foreign tours at this point as I don’t feel we’re a big enough draw for the Asian market just yet, but that will come with time. If you look at how many kits we’ve sold, you’ll get a big idea of the growth.
All of this(and transfer dealings) has put the club on a very sound financial footing. We’re not quite a global super power with an endless sum of money in the bank, but our financial state is improving from season to season. At time of writing, we’ve got £91m in the bank. Not bad at all.
- Strong focus on youth recruitment/development/tutoring with a clear path towards the first team.
- Spend time developing players, even if they’re not good enough for Auxerre.
If I’m entirely honest, this has actually be one of the more disappointing aspects of the save. One or two players aside, I’ve not really been getting the types or quality of players that I’d hoped for. We’ve had a few players make the step up and join the team, but nothing compared to what I had in FM16. I’m still working with the youth and improving them regardless, but there’s more leaving the club than joining the first team. Certainly an area I can do better on.
- Hire/Sign staff or players with positive personalities where possible.
- Be vigilant in all transfer dealings.
- Buy low/Sell high.
- Setup an effective scouting system.
- Setup an affiliate system.
My current coaching staff is a who’s who of football, featuring the likes of Dennis Bergkamp, Steven Gerrard, Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Franck Ribery to name a few. They all fit in with the types of mentalities I’m looking for as well as having good coaching attributes. There’s been some changes along the way, but that’s what I’m working with just now.
Transfer dealings have been staggering over the course of this save. Not all deals go to plan, but on the whole, I think we’ve done amazingly well. I’ve signed 101 players for a total of £285m and sold 57 players for £549m. That’s a sizeable transfer profit. My highest sale was Sébastien Lamy, who joined Dortmund for £56m in 2022. He was a player that joined via the youth intake in the first season. Behind him, was my sale of Joao Carvalho to Chelsea for £52m, one season after I signed him on a free from Benfica. Signing players for low fees, or free and selling them on for huge sums has really helped us.
As we’ve progressed, we’ve started to splash the cash a little bit too. Our most expensive signing at present if Flavio Barone who cost £31m from Palermo. He’s been worth all of those pennies so far.
Scouting has done very well for me, especially in South America where they’ve alerted me to the abilities of Kullman Jiménez(£13.5m) and Roberto Davila(£4m). In Africa, I was made aware of the likes of Sofiane Loucif (£925k) who was a rock at the back for me for 5 years. He joined Juventus in a £40m deal. I’ve recently picked up Nigerian youngster, Peter Orishani (£275k) who looks like he could develop to a similar sort of level as Loucif. The scouts are making me aware of players that I’ve not found on my attribute searches, but are still very interesting to me.
Unfortunately, I’ve been unable to setup an appropriate affiliate system despite my best efforts. I’ve tried about five times, each time returning clubs that I don’t find suitable. Hopefully at some point, they’ll let me pick the affiliate team myself.
I never really like to blow my own trumpet, it’s not really the thing to do. But, as I’m tracking progress, I figured this would be worth mentioning. In the past 10 years, we’ve been promoted, won the Trophée des Champions in 2023/24, 2024/25 and 2025/26, the Coupe de la Ligue in 2018/19 and 2021/22, the French Cup in 2020/21 and 2024/25 and Ligue 1 in 2022/23, 2023/24 and 2025/26.
I’ve still never won manager of the year yet, the pricks!
I’ve been a bit slow with updates lately as I’ve not really been playing much. Lots of stuff happening at work and I’m away for a week on a training course soon, with no FM action likely to be taking place. I’ve got an update about my 11th season that will follow this one quite closely.
On another note, this is actually my 100th blog entry on FMPressure.com, I’d just like to thank you all for reading, commenting, retweeting, liking and sharing my posts. It’s great to get constructive feedback from everyone.