It’s time. It’s time to go back.
People say never go back, never go back to the scene of past glory. But it’s the right time. Auxerre are back in the top division for the first time in 10 years and I want to have a go at turning them into one of the big clubs in France.
If you are one of the long time readers of the blog, then you’ll likely remember my old saves with Auxerre on FM16 and FM17. That seems like a lifetime ago, but it was probably my favourite two saves I’ve had on FM. Perhaps over time, I remember them more fondly than I should, but the youth development was excellent and I was always excited to load the game up.
If you don’t have an objective with your save, you’re not doing it right. Promotion, staying solvent, developing players etc. give you something to work towards. I’ve got a few to line up here. Some are pretty obvious, but others maybe less so. I’m trying to be realistic with what I can achieve and I’m also trying to do this as a one club save.
I’ll start with my main objectives and move on from there.
Auxerre are known for bringing youth players into the first team and selling them on for profit and then reinvesting that in more youth. I’ll be trying to follow that as much as possible, but also looking to bring in players that I can develop to sell on for profit. No, it’s not moneyball, it’s just doing good transfer business. For a small club like Auxerre, it’s a good way to generate income and develop the club.
I say recruit, as these players could either be brought in through the youth teams or from other clubs. The plan will always be to develop and sell at the right time. I’m not precious about players, if the bid is right that is. I think with the way the transfer values work now, players know their value and will want bids to be accepted if they meet that valuation. It might not meet my valuation, but I’ll accept offers that are in range. It has to be at the right time for us though, so selling important players in January is not going to benefit my team, so that’s my only stipulation.
It’s a bit difficult to say “I want Auxerre to be the biggest club in France within 3 years” when we’ve only just been promoted.. through the play-offs of all ways. I’ll need to be realistic here. I’m not aiming to win Ligue 1 within any set time, I’m aiming to be a good club that can be competitive in the league within 5 years and be in Europe within about 7.
What does competitive look like? As a newly promoted side, the first steps are to steer clear of relegation for a couple of seasons. Mid-table finishes are important and will help us go in the right direction with all of our other plans. After that, I want our team to be difficult to beat and to show a lot of fight in matches. We don’t have to be the best footballing team for a while, but I want us to nab some big wins against the top sides and eventually go on a good cup run.
Longer term, I’ll obviously be looking to be successful and bring in trophies. That should increase the stature of the club and help us to retain our best assets if they want to stay. It’ll also help us to eventually build a new stadium, which is always one of my goals with Auxerre.
A new stadium helps us financially in so many ways. Right now we have a 19k seater stadium. On previous games, I’ve had stadiums up to 60k with Auxerre, so the aim is to go big again.
I can’t manage Auxerre and not play 4141. It was the tactic that brought me lots of success previously and it feels dirty and wrong to do anything else.
Admittedly, I’ve started the save and I went with a Conte style 343, but it wasn’t for me. I had 4141 as a backup tactic and it’s now the main system in place. I’ll definitely develop the style I’m using, but for now, I’m quite happy with how things are working with it’s very basic roles and instructions. More on the tactic in future updates, I promise.
Honestly, there’s not much to be excited about in this team. There’s nobody that I could build around for the next couple of years, so I’m going to have to build something from the ground up. I always look to improve my defence and goalkeeper situation pretty early on as it can have a big impact on the team pretty quickly. I’ve already gone down that route and my only signing this season has been a centre back.
Molla Wague is a pretty good signing for Auxerre, lots of experience and solidifies our backline instantly. Cost me €0m, so it’s hard to find much to complain about.
France is a great nation to manage in for youth development, Auxerre have declined since Guy Roux departed, but they’ve stuck to their policy of developing players, so I have excellent facilities to help with that.
There are a lot of players out of contract at the end of the first season, I’ve already tied down the ones I want to keep and can keep, so that’s been interesting to go through. I’m probably going to lose six or seven players from the first team squad, but the savings I’ll make on salaries will hopefully be able to be punted back into the first team.
More to follow.