Bonjour, and welcome back to Montbéliard! It’s been a while since I last updated you about my savegame with FC Sochaux. Mental health issues and real-life got in the way during the lockdown period, so I took a step back from FM, writing and social media. I’d hoped to be back a little sooner but needed more time to get out of my depression. I’ve now been playing Football Manager 2020 again for two weeks or so. I am now easing my way back into the game and writing.
I had so many ideas to write about before lockdown but unfortunately don’t have the energy to pick up on them. The ideas still stand, and I’m planning to work them out for FM21. You can expect some seriously good content with the release of the new iteration, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I’ve decided to write more regular and simple updates for the remainder of this save. No pressure and a lot of fun, that’s the idea!
Signings, or youth-only?
I finished the fourth season when I picked up the game again and decided to look around for some wonderkids during the summer. I couldn’t resist and signed six of them! Once I fired up the save a few days later and saw the signings again, I was a little disappointed in myself and started to doubt if signing players was the way forward for this savegame. So, I did a poll on Twitter to see what my readers would think about it.
Although most of my readers would still read my posts if I started signing players, I decided to pick up on an older save file which goes back a month in-game, and proceed without the signings. I felt like failing the challenge that I’ve set myself. To remind you and me of the challenge that we’re taking about, here’s a little summary:
- Developing players is the aim of this save
- Produce at least 60 elite players (players playing in top-5 leagues)
- Produce European Golden Boy winner
- Produce Ballon d’Or winner
- Become the biggest supplier of players to the French national team
For this savegame, I only have one restriction. Don’t sign any players! FC Sochaux‘s academy is really good, and I want to use it. Buying players could potentially hamper a graduate’s development. Even if a prospect only has three and a half stars of potential, I want to get the most out of him. I’ll only work with players that come through our annual youth intakes.DeRaamFM – #1 – The Kids From Montbéliard
Previously in The Kids From Montbéliard
It’s been a while since I last updated the blog, so let’s have a little look at what happened last time in The Kids From Montbéliard!
In the last post, I’ve written about our second season in charge of FC Sochaux and our first season in Ligue 1. We noted a third-place finish in the league and got knocked out in the French Cup tenth round. We qualified for European football in our first Ligue 1 season! Awesome. But I’ll keep repeating this: Winning silverware isn’t our main goal here. No, we want to develop youngsters!
More important was my ‘savegame struggle’. We struggled to loan out players due to not having many active leagues in our savegame setup, so I decided to add some leagues to my game: Belgian Pro League, Bundesliga, Dutch Eredivisie and Portuguese Premier League. I hoped to get some more bids in for players who are on the loan list, to gain some match experience I couldn’t offer them. Some players’ development stagnated because they weren’t good enough to play in our first team, while game time was much needed.
Last but not least, I’ve talked about our biggest talents during our second season. Some things have changed over the last two years. Mathéo Sanchez left for AC Milan at the start of season 3, and Rassoul Ndiaye is now playing for Napoli. Other players from the ‘Future Looks Bright’-list haven’t progressed as much as I hoped and some new potential first-teamers came through. I almost feel like I have to start over again, so there will be a new list in this post!
Season 2021/22 & Season 2022/23
We’ve been doing pretty good in the last two years. Let’s have a quick look at how we got on during the 2021/22 and 2022/23 seasons!
Since we finished in third place during our first Ligue 1 season, we qualified for Champions League football. We had to play two qualifying rounds before we reached the group stages. We did get a strong group with Chelsea, Benfica and RB Salzburg after we had beaten Club Brugge and PSV in the qualifiers. We ended in third place! We then knocked Hoffenheim out of the Europa League in the first round. The next round we lost against Manchester United and our European journey was over.
The French Cup was traditionally used to play some youngsters and see them in action. They did well against Auxerre and Guingamp, but Ajaccio proved to be too strong in the 11th round. Reaching the 10th round was the board’s objective, and therefore, there weren’t any consequences.
Our first year at the highest level saw us end in third place, and we did that again in our second year, which I think is marvellous without signing any players! We even managed to get 12 more points than last year, which shows our team is progressing. Results aren’t that important to me, although, being successful encourages players’ development.
The 2022/23 season
Ending in third place again meant that we had to play two qualifying rounds for the Champions League once more. This time we had to beat Ajax and Krasnodar before we reached the group stages. We were in a group with Porto, Sevilla and Chelsea in which we ended second behind Chelsea. Liverpool was way ahead of us in the first K.O. round.
Our young starlets seem to have a subscription to the 11th round of the French Cup. We did well against Troyes with three goals from our main man Pellissard but struggled against Niort, although our other wonderkid Lemarié also scored a hattrick in this match. We managed to keep Lyon from scoring in the last game but forgot to put the ball into the net ourselves as well. We eventually lost on penalties.
Another third place in the league is getting a little scary as we seem to have a subscription to a third-place finish in the league as well!
New Case Studies
I have to be honest and say that I’ve played these last two seasons without thinking about it too much. I think we’d done better if I wasn’t playing in auto-modus. Same goes for the development side of things. Going into season 5, I want to pick up the save seriously again and make a fresh start! Therefore, I won’t show the progress of all the players but will talk about some of the promising ones which we are going to track the next few seasons. It’s like picking some new ‘case studies’ and starting over again.
I also want to add new things to the blog, so I’m looking into creating spreadsheets to give a better view of who’s developing in what parts of their game. I’ve never used spreadsheets, so if you have any tips then I’d like to hear from you! Now, without any further ado, here are our new case studies, and how I want to develop them into the best player they can be:
Mustapha El Bahraoui
Let’s start with the youngest player on this list and move our way up to the 19-year-olds. There are even younger players in the club who are also very promising, but I’m not sure what to do with them yet.
Meet Mustapha El Bahraoui, a 16-year old winger from Morrocan origin. He was born in Safi, Morocco but moved to France at a very young age, and now has French nationality. Mustapha came through our youth intake in 2022, considered to be the diamond in a terrific group of players. One year later (at this point) there are a lot of people who think he’s the brightest prospect in the club. (hot prospect in club overview)
Unfortunately, he has made little progress in the first fifteen months at the club because of multiple injuries. He’s been out for five months in total because of this. Bruised foot, tight hamstring, pulled knee ligaments and a broken lower leg all hampered his development in the first year. There isn’t any sign of him being susceptibility to injuries, so I believe it’s just bad luck. Therefore, I still trust him to pick up the pace and develop into a good player for us.
In terms of training, I want him to develop his physicals first. He needs to be stronger to compete in Ligue 1, and I also want him to have more stamina before we shift our focus elsewhere. He could also benefit from a little more pace and acceleration. He’s a typical winger, which I find a little boring, but if I have to believe our coaches, he could become one of the best!
16-year-old left-back Lambourde was in the same intake as our Morrocan friend. Same as El Bahraoui, he has a second nationality. His father comes from Guadaloupe, came to France as a guest worker and never left. Luckily for us, because Lambourde could become a highly rated, and rare, left-back.
Lambourde played his first year in the U19’s and did really well. He provided 12 assists in 39 games, which is OK, but he played all over the pitch. Wingback, central defender and left midfield, and still noted a 7.35 average rating! The plan is to keep him in the U19’s for another year, loan him to a Ligue 2 club the next year and see if he’s ready after that!
Rigal came through the same youth intake as the two players mentioned above, which was considered to be a golden generation obviously. The 16-year-old is a very promising player, and if you follow me on Twitter, you should recognize him from one of my recent Tweets. I asked the community how they would develop this player as I was still undecided.
A lot of people responded with all kinds of ideas, and I’ve taken all of the advice into consideration. Rensie would’ve trained him as a Complete Wingback while Guido would make a Mezalla or BBM out of him. Some would turn him into a Playmaker, and Ralph would’ve gone with Advanced Forward. One thing is very clear to me; he could become anything I want him to be!
He played in the U19’s last season. He trained and played as a Mezalla and had an excellent season. 53 games, 20 goals and 27 assists! He’s clearly ahead of his peers, and although he’s still very young, I want to give him a chance in the first team. Why? Let me explain.
I do like him as a central midfielder, but we are very strong in that area. We’re lacking left-wingers and I do want to play with wingers, so while I see him as a central midfielder in the future I’m going to play him on the wing for the coming season. We only have Samy Faraj, who has spent last season on loan and might leave again, and Virginius who prefers to play on the right side of the pitch. Playing him on the wing will give him a chance to gain some experience at a young age.
This doesn’t mean I’m going to train him as a Winger though! I don’t train my players in the roles they play in the team by definition. I’m trying to improve the players to the best they can be. This means I could train a central midfielder in the role of a Ball Playing Defender if I feel he needs to improve these attributes. I’ve set his training to Box-to-Box midfielder because of this. The additional focus is set to Passing because I want him to improve his Vision and Technique.
Next on the list is Maurizio Bruno and I have high hopes for this 17-year-old defender. He’s labelled the next Maxim Bossis and came through in 2021. Much like Rigal, Bruno could go in any sort of direction. He can play as a central defender, right-back or defensive midfielder. His two-footedness also helps with this. We’ve got our right-back position covered for the coming years, so I’m leaning towards developing him into a solid central defender.
Bruno spent the first two years going back and forth to the reserves and U19’s and played as a Wing Back during these first two years. He has a very positive personality already and therefore, he’s on my ‘potentially going out on loan’-list. He can spend a year at a Ligue 2 club if the conditions are right. If not, he’ll stay in the first team, and I’ll give him some matches to see what happens. He’s training as a Ball Playing Defender with an added focus on quickness.
Next in line is Jérôme Legribi, and this guy is something special. Jérôme could turn into my talisman for this save, and not only because of his potential. Legribi’s narrative is what does it for me!
Legribi was born in Belfort and came through our affiliate programme with ASM Belfort, which I cancelled last year. Belfort is only 16 kilometres away from Sochaux, so Legribi is considered to be a local lad. When he came through in 2021, he didn’t look promising at all! But two years later, he’s proved everyone wrong!
He spent the first year in the U19’s, playing 40 games in which he scored 29 goals, and noted eight assists. He spent the 2022/23 season in the first team because he made a huge progression during his first year at the club, and I wanted to monitor him more closely. I made him available for the U19’s while he trained with the big guys. He made another 16 appearances, scoring 11 goals in the process. He also made his debut for the first team during last season.
I train him as a Complete Forward with an added focus on Aerial to improve his heading and bravery. I’m not sure yet in which role I want to use him and therefore chosen to train him in a widely spread role to see where his natural progress is going. I love a pacey hitman up front, and with his 188cm of height and acceleration, he could be that man!
Some other promising players!
Wonderkids from Montbéliard
It took me three and a half seasons to develop some of the players into wonderkids, but it was worth the wait! We now have three wonderkids in Montbéliard. Two of them are newgens, one of them is a real player. I have this feeling that there are a lot more to come!
Jessim Pellisard has been with us since the start of this save, and I adore the guy! I promoted him to the first team immediately and made him available to the reserves team. He was 16 years old back then. In our first year, which was in Ligue 2, he made five appearances. The second season he became a first XI player and never left the team since. He has been very consistent over the years.
Pellissard has made some nice progression over the years and could still become a lot better than where he is now. He is currently training as an Advanced Forward and learning the trait Places Shots.
Our second wonderkid Jean Boisson came through our first youth intake. He is a true wonderkid from Montbéliard as he was born there! He spent the first season in the U19’s, and I promoted him to the first team for the 2021/22 season. He was a regular starter last season and did really well, scoring 13 goals and creating another five with an average rating of 7.34.
Boisson had some major improvements to his game and still has a long way to go, but I believe he can become a top player. He’s currently training as an Inside Forward with an added focus on Attacking Movement to improve his Anticipation.
Lemarié walked a similar path as Boisson, coming trough the first youth intake, spent a year in the U19’s, promoted to the first team and become a regular starter in our last campaign. His performances weren’t exactly exciting, but his development shows he can become the next real thing! Especially if you can develop like shown below with these kinds of numbers. I expect him to explode during the coming season!
Jean-Pierre is training as a Box-to-Box midfielder with additional focus set to Passing. He already has very good qualities in the mental and physical area for his age, and I want him to develop in the technical area during the coming season. I’d like him to become a better passer and improve his dribbling. If he could increase his positioning and tackle alongside the other attributes, I could see him become a perfect Deep-Lying Playmaker or maybe even Regista!
So, what’s next? Well, I’ll keep updating you about player progression and our performances as a club. I had a shitload of ideas to write about, but don’t feel like it at the moment due to different reasons. I’ll put them on hold and going to create some excellent content for FM21 in the future! I’ll keep doing updates like this for the remainder of FM20, and hope to complete the challenges I’ve set at the start of this save.
I’m currently working on a new tactic for this FCSM team to fit as many as possible prospects in and provide them with some match experience. I’m looking to write about that as well!
If you’ve made it this far, I want to thank you for reading! Make sure you follow me on Twitter, and if you need anything, my DM’s are open.
Hope to see you next time!