Bonjour, and welcome back again! We’ve reached 2020 in-game, and now it’s time to review the first half of the 2019/20 season.
I absolutely love this save, and that’s not only because of good results. I’ve mentioned before that this savegame and blog series isn’t about winning silverware, but just like everyone else who’s playing Football Manager, we’ll take whatever we deserve!
I struggled to get into FM20 from the off, but I’ve made the right decision to start this youth-only save with FC Sochaux. Whenever I fire up the file, I get more invested into what I’m trying to do here, and I really enjoy writing about it too.
Interacting with people on Twitter helps me to enjoy the game more as well. So, please keep giving feedback and don’t hesitate to contact me. I do appreciate the interaction.
Now let’s find out what happened during the first six months in charge!
Before we dive into what we’ve achieved this season, we’ll take a look at what the expectations were at the start of the season.
I always check the ‘season preview’ screen to see what the pundits think and to indicate where on the table we should finish. It also helps to determine how I should set up tactically. Are we one of the favourites, or do we get the underdog role?
For the first season, the bookies think we should aim to end up around thirteenth in the table. I do believe we can do better than that, and want to end up on the left side of the table. We’ve had a good season when we end up being ninth or higher.
None of our players is in the media dream eleven too. That tells me we need to rely on building partnerships and team efforts. We’re not expected high on the table at the end of the ride, and therefore, we might want to play a bit more directly and not try to dominate the matches.
The board expects us to achieve a mid-table finish in Ligue 2, reach tenth round in the French Cup and reach the second round of the Coupe de la Ligue. I think these board expectations are realistic and give me time to develop the team. We are allowed to make some mistakes and drop points here and there. That could be very helpful in handing some youngsters playing time in the league.
Now we know what the expectations are, we can take a look at where our team stands in comparison to the other teams in the league.
REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS? & TACTICS
Checking the comparison screen always gives me a better view of where our team stands in comparison to the other teams in the league. It’s quite helpful for creating tactics and determining if our expectations are being realistic.
The images above show the comparison for defence, midfield and attack, in that order. Our defensive line is pretty mediocre. They lack tackling and strength, and all the other attributes are somewhere in the middle. Our midfield is average as well with only passing standing out. The attackers are a mixed bag with low off the ball movement but high heading.
The team is mediocre overall, and therefore the expectations are being realistic. So, we are definitely a mid-table team. The pundits and our board were right after all.
With all these things in mind, I wanted some sort of counter(ish) style of play. We don’t have the best footballers, but we might be able to overwhelm our opponents as they won’t see us as a team that can dominate matches. I didn’t want to dominate but play aggressive and direct football instead.
During pre-season, I came up with this:
It is a balanced set-up and does what I wanted it to do. We’ve got a back four with two wing-backs on either side, a ball-playing defender and a classic central defender. The wing-backs should provide width in attack and are the ones who should provide our attackers with crosses. The ball-playing defender is there to give the occasional long ball forward and should try to keep the opponent away from our goal.
In midfield, we have a deep-lying playmaker, a box-to-box player and an attacking mezalla. The DLP is the heart of our team, and he should divide play accordingly. In front of him, we’ve got two ‘runners’. The mezalla should break the lines and play the half-space. The box-to-box player should do the same in a lesser extent and should arrive a little bit later in and around the box.
Upfront, we have two inside forwards and a deep-lying forward which have the task to break the opponents’ defensive lines. The inside forwards should tuck in and make room for the wing-backs to push up. When tucking inside, they should work together with the upcoming mezalla and box-to-box player. The deep-lying forward has to drop off to link up play and then make a run for the box.
Ideally, the build-up would look something like this:
And it does exactly that! In the example in my Tweet you can see the goalkeeper bringing the ball to the central defender, who passes it to the right wing-back. He plays in the mezalla, who kicks it to the BBM. The BBM brings the ball forward and passes it to the underlapping inside forward. He dribbles centrally and lays it off to the mezalla (who was on support during this match).
The mezalla plays the ball towards the left inside forward, who’s squaring the ball towards the other inside forward who’ve made a run for the box. The ball gets behind him but he manages to control the ball. He lays it off to the BBM on the edge of the box, which in turn plays in the striker for an easy tap-in. Lovely stuff!
Pre-season went according to plan with some lovely results against bigger teams, with some easier matches added for cracking up morale. We didn’t lose a match, scored many goals and conceded few. We were more than ready to kick-off the season!
COUPE DE FRANCE
The French Cup only started in November and we started in round seven. Remember the board expectation on reaching the tenth round? Well, we did that and are now awaiting a match against Ligue 1 side Rennes in the 11th round. Mission accomplished! We had three easy games against lower league teams, before beating Ligue 2 side Troyes 1-0.
All these games featured multiple youngsters in the line-up, which you can see on the score sheets. They did really well! We even broke some records for the youngest player playing and youngest goalscorer for club and the cup! Mezalla Melvin Sitti is having fun in the French Cup and is our top scorer for the competition.
Youngsters like Semedo, Nebodon, Virginius, Faraj, Lasme, Diagne and many more have performed really well as seen in the screenshot below!
I’m very excited for the game against Rennes, which will be a good test for determining if we’re ready for Ligue 1!
COUPE DE LA LIGUE
We had some tougher competition in the Coupe de la Ligue, but despite that, we did very well. The Coupe de la Ligue was a competition, just like the Coupe de France, to provide some youngsters with game time. The expectations were to reach the second round which we exceeded quite a bit.
We started this competition with a solid win over Clermont, followed up by a good win against SM Caen. These two games were played by first-team players who needed some match experience and therefore, these games turned out to be rather easy.
The match against FC Chambly saw quite a lot of youngsters in the starting line-up. Ndiaye and Virginius were amazing in this match, and both scored a goal!
In the fourth round we were up against Ligue 1 side Lille. As we already achieved expectations, I decided to play a lot of prospects again. What happened next amazed me! We won 4-2 against a Ligue 1 team featuring only youngsters in our line-up. I’ve put all the ages of the players in the screenshot for you to see how young our XI were during this game.
Sadfully, we were knocked out by Ligue 1 side FC Nantes in the quarter final. But, I’m very happy with the results overall and the amount of playing time I could give to our youngsters!
After pre-season I was pretty confidend that we could exceed expectations in the league. We were predicted to finish 13th, remember? Well, we’re doing really, really good. I believed we could do better than a mid-table finish, but on top of the league? Nah, I didn’t expected that!
We had an excellent start to the season with four wins in a row, and only conceeding one goal against Rodez Aveyron. These wins were followed up by two draws against Clermont and Niort, both ending 1-1.
We had a win streak of six games before drawing against RC Lens, who where second by the time. We had a really good game against Auxerre who we’ve beaten 2-0 before drawing again, against Havre AC.
Our 18-games-unbeaten run came to an end against Troyes, but we can’t complain about the results. We are doing way better than what was expected from us, and we’re on top of the league! Amazing!
DEVELOPMENT AND KEY-PLAYERS
I’m not going to spoiler the developments of my case studies. (Melvin Sitti, Selim Mbakata, Skelly Alvero and Sidy Diagne) But wanted to show some other youngsters who are developing well! I’m not going into too much detail here. I want to highlight some of the top-performers too!
Let’s start with our topscorer Bryan Lasme. I’ve talked a bit about Lasme in my second post where he was listed as one of the bright prospects and wrote that he would need minutes in the first-team to progress. He was one of the players which I was thinking about loaning away, but I’m so glad I didn’t!
He started five games in Ligue 2 and was subbed on in another eight games. So far, he scored five goals in the league averaging a 7,03 rating. In the Coupe de France, he started to games and had two games from the bench, scoring three goals in total averaging a 7,47 rating. The Coupe de la Ligue saw him playing another two games, with one of them coming from the bench, scoring another three goals, averaging an 8,30 rating. So, he scored eleven goals so far, averaging a 7,27 rating overall, with four POM’s.
Lasme had a great start to the season which saw him develop really well. Unfortunately, he had a dip during September and October but now he’s picking up again. Lasme has been training as an Advanced Forward since the start of the season.
Sofiane Daham is the player with the highest average rating at the club. He started eleven games in Ligue 2 and played another four games from the bench, scoring two goals and assisting one. He played seven games in the cups, assisting one time. He has a high pass completion percentage and a high tackle win ratio as well.
Last but not least, a notable mention for Malcom Nebodon. This 16-year-old is developing like crazy! He is mainly playing his games for the U19 team but had some games in the first-team as well. He had one start in Ligue 2, two starts in the French Cup, and a start in the Coupe de la Ligue. He did pretty well in these games for such a young player!
As I said, he’s developing really well. He has been training as a box-to-box midfielder since the start of the season, and I think I’ll keep him on that regime. If he keeps it up like this, he’ll be a first-team player next season!
YOUTH INTAKE PREVIEW
More players are progressing really well, but I will talk about them in my next post. I’ll leave it here for today.
My next post will be about the case studies again, and we’ll look at how I’ve trained them, how they’ve performed during the first six months, and how they’ve developed. I’ll talk about my expectations on them for the second half of the season too. And, I’ll write about some of the other players’ progress too!
As always, thanks for reading! If there’s anything you want to talk to me about, hit me up on Twitter or use the comments section below!