FM17 Auxerre 2031/32

We’ve skipped into the future a wee bit since my last seasonal update. Lots of players have moved on etc. We’d won the last three titles as PSG have had a few off years. This is currently the longest that any side have broken PSG’s league winning run since 2012/13. The aim for this season is to retain the Ligue 1 title for a fourth year in a row and really assert our dominance in France. We’ve done well in the domestic cups lately, but this year, my eyes are on Europe. We’ve been really poor lately and my biggest disappointment is our lack of success against the big teams. It’s time we changed that.

Transfers

In my last post, I pointed out two players we’d signed, Jakub Radomski and of course, Sebastien Lamy. There was a great deal of departures too. I needed to trim the fat a little bit so to speak. Eleven players departed over the course of the season, nine in the summer with another two in January. All of them were pretty justifiable.

This save has been all about developing players or buying young players and developing them. Of the eleven players that left, six were products of our academy, effectively free signings. They left for a combined total of £100.75m. Sound business.

Three players were signed as teenagers and developed into our team, these players cost me £16m and were sold for £125.25m.

The last two players were players I signed for the first team to fill a gap until I developed someone better for the role, or found a more suitable player. These players cost me £47.75m and were sold for £59.5m. These players were more expensive to buy in, but I was still able to make a transfer profit from their sale.

This all seems pretty dull, but it relates to a conversation I had on Slack with FM Samo about young players and at what stage we bought them in their development. If you can buy them a bit younger, the financial rewards can be massive.

In places with a big TV deal, that’s not a huge issue, but in France, I only make £27.5m from the domestic TV and around £4m if we win the league. I have to top that up by being shrewd in the transfer market. I trust a lot of the info I get from my scouts. Sometimes it doesn’t work out, there’s plenty of those that have fallen by the wayside, but I’ve at least made my money back on them.

Two examples of players I’m trusting my scouts on, were signed in January. I obviously did my own assessment of the players, but I think they’ve given me good info on these guys.

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The first of these players is Nicolas Soriano. It’s difficult to find French players that I get kind of excited about. I’m trying to get them in early as I mentioned above and I don’t want to be ripped off. For a few years, I’ve been trying to improve the midfield three that I have, I’ve got by with a couple of players, but I think it’s an area that I need to address. Soriano is very young, a bit raw, but there are some stand out attributes. The obvious ones are highlighted green, but the orange attributes and even all of those 9 rated attributes are very good for a 16 year old. I admit, it can be easy to look at youngsters and write them off, but a couple of newgen posts by Cleon on Twitter recently has reminded me, it’s all about developing these youngsters. Once in a blue moon, you get a player with loads of good attributes. At 16, I suspect him to grow a lot and with his ambitious personality, he’d be willing to work hard to get to the top. I suspect I’ll tutor him to get a more professional personality, but the scout report already tells me he has a good level of professionalism.

He cost me £10m. Now, lets put this into perspective, it seems like a lot for a 16 year old, it is, but I think he’ll be a star for us and if he turns out to be how I think he will, I could sell him for upwards of £40m. That’s a massive potential profit.

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Romantzis is another player I’ve signed thinking long term. He’s a bit further on in his development at 18, but he already looks great (dodgy hair aside). He’s got very good physical attributes, which are very important for the role I’d like him to play. Across the board, he’s a very well rounded player. Scouts recommend him highly, he has a good personality which will help him reach or get close to his potential.

Although he’s a bit further on in terms of development, he only cost me £5.25m(£9.5m) which I think seems like a bargain. I’d have preferred a French striker, but all avenues had been exhausted at this point.

These two players are very much for the future, but they’ll get games this season in the cups etc.

Adding these two along with Radomski (£25m rising to £30m) and Lamy (£52m rising to £67m) means I’ve spent £92m in this window, making £261m back.

I’d also promoted a number of youngsters ahead of the season, notably 19 year old Esteban Vargas, who joined my youth side from Deportivo Cali last year for £325k. He’s an intelligent midfielder who will slot in as a CM/S when required. 18 year old midfielder Nuno Delgado has also stepped up to be an option as a DLP/D. He looks like a very good player, but needs games to get him to the next level. 16 year old left back Robert Roussel has also come into the first team squad. This is probably a bit young for a player of his level, but I’m short of options and unable to spend. He does look like he’ll be a very good player. Finally, 18 year old defender, Kevin Viator has joined the first team squad as a rotational centre back option.

Cups

The domestic cups were a bit of a write-off for me this season. The season kicked off with a 1-0 defeat to a 91st minute Lyon penalty in the Trophée des Champions.

In the Coupe de la Ligue, we lost 1-0 to RC Lens, despite playing well, we just couldn’t get a hold of the game.

In the Coupe de France, we made it to the Quarter final stage, knocking out Lille (2-0), US Ivry Football (4-1) and Ligue 1 rival, Lyon (2-1 AET). However, we succumbed to a late first half goal against Stade Lavallois.

No domestic treble this year. The youngsters played in this competition as they usually do. There’s a few who have never played at this level before, so I wasn’t expecting them to march to the final. The result over Lyon was great though.

Ligue 1

It’s always tight in Ligue 1, PSG splash the cash, Lyon develop youngsters and the other challenger seems to rotate on a yearly basis. It’s switched between Monaco, Marseille and Montpellier in recent times. As an aside, I should note that the success of domestic clubs Europe has lead to France being the third best rated league by UEFA and as such, we now get four Champions League spots. Lyon have won the Europa League in recent years and we’ve all done reasonably well in the Champions League. Great to see the other teams pulling their weight.

We’d won the previous three Ligue 1 titles, so it would be a big push to get to number four. We started the season well, but two defeats to PSG (1-0) and Stade de Reims (1-0 with a 92nd minute goal!) deflated me a little. Poor performances. We dusted ourselves down and picked up some lovely wins along the way, a 7-0 victory over Metz was a joy to watch.

It would be April before we’d lose again, a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Lyon who were sitting in second place. A victory in that game would have secured the title. As the season ended, we stumbled over the line, albeit 13 points clear, to our fourth title. We had our worst run of the season after the Lyon game, drawing three of the last five games.

Too many times in the league, we’d sort of take our foot off the accelerator and let opposition teams get into the game, we rarely conceded, but it was very frustrating watching us go through the motions and get nothing at the end of it.

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Champions League

The Champions League was the one I really wanted this year as I mentioned earlier. We’d won the competition once before, we wanted it again! I’d planned to move a few of the current players on at the end of the season and it’d be good if they could win the competition before moving on.

I don’t know what it is about this save, but we seem to play Arsenal almost every other year, this was no different as we were drawn with them, CSKA and Legia in the group stage. We finished top of the group with four wins and two draws. Excellent, hopefully we’ll get a kind draw.

Barcelona. Great!

We had to go to Camp Nou firs. The aim was to score and keep the scoreline respectable. We managed to do exactly that. A 2-1 defeat wasn’t bad, but I needed to be in control at home. I’ve been to Tom at great length about different tactics and match strategies lately. He’s a knowledgable chap and has written some nice articles on a couple of sites. We’d discussed his use of contain mentality in the big games when he was in charge of AEK Athens. I really wanted this European Cup. In the return leg, I’d see how the game was going and possibly employ this mentality. 9mins into the return leg, we were 1-0. SWITCH, CONTAIN!

We turned the game around and took it to extra time, still playing contain. We frustrated the opposition to long shots. It was a pretty even tie, even though we were being somewhat negative. We managed to score two more goals in extra time to send us through 5-3 on aggregate. Nice!

Schalke were up next. I quite fancied my chances against them despite their recent success. We smashed them 5-0 at home, sticking with our usual 4141 control/fluid setup. In Germany we won 1-0.

This setup a semi-final tie against Chelsea. They’d knocked us out at the same stage last season, overturning a 2-0 first leg defeat to win 5-3. I wasn’t letting that happen again. First leg didn’t go to plan with former Auxerre man, Ruben Martinez scoring a 36th minute goal. We could recover from that though. We did it in the last leg.

At home, I needed a result. Again, starting off with my normal system and seeing how we played. Things started well, scoring a 9th minute penalty, 5mins later it was 2-0 with a lovely strike from midfielder Rayan Martinez. Chelsea went down to 10 men in the 38th minute before we finished them off to make it 3-0. Into the final, boom!

There was a nice wee break at the end of the season before we took on Juventus at the Ernst-Happel-Stadion in Austria. We had a bit of an injury problem going into the game with our star left midfielder missing through injury. This was going to be the last game for at least four of the current crop. I wanted this trophy. Do I stick or twist and be negative? Lets be bold!

After 4minutes, I was regretting my decision. A Rayan Martinez own goal put us 1-0. He was playing out of position so it was to be expected that he’d get caught out at some point. It was a mistake though, so I held on and after 19mins we equalised through Armand Sohna. 4mins later we had turned it around. 2-1! Do I close off? No.. lets keep going. Juventus were all over us, but they weren’t getting through to create any chances.

45+1 GOAL… 3-1! Rayan Martinez made up for his earlier mistake to give us a good lead and a boost just before the break. Again I was getting twitchy. I knew we could see it out from here, so I switched into negative mode and had us sit in. We were controlling the game, but Martinez again switched off out wide and allowed Juventus through to score a second goal. 3-2. I played it cool as we were controlling things. In the 79th minute we scored the fourth goal and killed off the tie.

4-2 and Champions League winners for the second time in five years.

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Future Plans

I’ve been playing with the current crop of players for a few years, they’ve done excellently for me over those years, but it’s time to move a few of them on. I’m going to try and be more France focused as I feel I’ve taken my eye off the ball in the past couple of seasons. I’ve got a couple of signings already lined up, but they’re young so I’d expect us to go into a bit of a transitional period where we might not win as much for a couple of years.

Currently expect my goalkeeper, right back, defensive midfielder, right winger, attacking midfielder and striker to head out the door. They’ve all got stupid high values so I think there will be a huge cash windfall. Big profits to be made. I’m all about the money!

I never got a picture of my squad at the end of the season, but I’ll try and go into a bit more depth about the players in the next post.

A good season overall, not great in the cups, but that happens every once in a while because of the youngsters coming through.

House move has been delayed so I suspect there will be a couple more of these before we move now. I’ve been planning on doing a piece about my 4141 for so long as I’ve been asked about it loads on Slack. I’ve got something in draft mode and intend to work on that over the next couple of weeks. Thanks for coming back and reading about my Auxerre save. Sorry for the long pause in broadcasts!

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