“Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.”
We start this post with a lovely quote from the ex-tennis player Arthur Ashe, simply because it’s exactly what we’re doing right now.
If you haven’t read my previous posts yet, make sure to click here to catch up.
We are currently in Ligue 2, with a media prediction to finish 7th place. We cannot dream of being Ligue 1 champions or sign star players being a second-tier team, so, Start where you are.
We have no money or prestige to attract better players than what we currently have at the club, and I’m no interested in signing players that wouldn’t be useful on Ligue 1. The same goes for the staff. I’m waiting for promotion to try and build with the long term in mind. The only signings, for now, will be ready-made first-team players for free or on loan. Use what you have.
As I don’t have too much depth on my squad right now, my focus will be simple: win league games with the squad I have, know my players and begin to build tactical identity. Find out who I can trust and who I can’t. I’ll not delve deep in any other aspect of the club by now. This approach may prove risky (not planning) and come at the expense of the cups for this season, but I’m not complaining about it. It’s a risk I’m willing to take. Do what you can.
As I mentioned above, we’re not spending any money on players to do short-term fixes. With that said, I took a glance at what my astonishing amount of 3 scouts already had to show me and decided to bring on two new faces for the season.
Djourou came in because the club sold two first-team centre-backs (before my arrival) on this window and I judged that we were too short on a department that I consider of utmost importance. The idea is that he will be on the first XI this season and he also seems like good enough to play a part on our Ligue 1 plans, at least on the first season. He arrives on 9k per week wages, which makes him one of our best-paid players.
Luan came on loan from São Paulo to rotate with Amos Youga at the base of our midfield. Probably, if Lekhal wasn’t injured for so long, I wouldn’t have signed him. Also, Youga is a destroyer type of player, and I wasn’t comfortable with the idea of not having a technical player able to play as our pivot if needed. So, Luan fits the bill, for now. We aren’t spending any money on this deal except for €450 per week from his wage.
I thought about 200 times regarding doing a formation change for FM20 since I played all my FM19 save on a 4-1-2-3 just switching roles, mentality and players. I don’t know what’s the exact reason, but I just don’t fancy using any other formation as I fancy playing on a 4-1-2-3. Maybe it’s my memories of that 2004/2005 Barcelona with Ronaldinho at LW, maybe my unconscious is always trying to replicate that, who knows? The fact is, for now, we are sticking with our beloved and trustable formation. How did we prove ourselves with a Ligue 2 team playing a possession-based and high-pressing football? Let’s find out.
These are our pre-season results. It is worth noting that three of my four best players nearly didn’t have any pre-season. My best player, Fontaine, got injured on 24/6 and lost all of pre-season. My second-best player, Kadewere, was out on vacation until 21/7, this means that he had a total of zero training sessions with the team by the date of our first competitive game. Furthermore, Victor Lekhal started the save injured for four to five months. So, we had to be sure to get the best out of Alexandre Bonnet, who was our only great option available from the beginning. That makes him our focal point for the start of the season.
Coupe de la Ligue
As stated in our introduction, the cups weren’t important for us right now, as I opted to direct our focus and drive to the league. And here are the results of the decision mentioned above.
We easily pasted by Nancy on the first-round with a good performance from the team. Albeit on the second-round, we fell short to Le Mans courtesy to two individual errors from our ‘big’ signing Djourou and his ever-present lack of concentration.
Coupe de France
Facing two lower league teams in the first two rounds proved too easy for us as we dominated the ties without any problem. After that, we had a strong feeling of Déjà vu: a 2×1 loss to our first nemesis: Le Mans. You can complain and say that the result was unfair, but, the point is, fairness doesn’t exist in football.
You all remember when I said our objective was going to be promoted without the need of playing the playoffs, right? We are at the halfway point right now. Let’s see if we are coping with our ambition or if we were aiming too high based on our eagerness for success.
Our first league game was an away game to face Sochaux on a game sandwiched amid two pre-season games. This was far from ideal as the pre-season work was not all done yet. In the end, we weren’t able to bring home any point from the Stadium Auguste Bonal.
A loss in our first game, however, didn’t put our spirits down as we beautifully clutched three wins in the next three games followed by a L-W-L-W sequence to end the first quarter with 15 points from an available 24. A decent return for a project that it’s just starting.
Victor Lekhal returned from injury on 2/11 and even knowing that he wasn’t fully fit, I opted to use him straight away because I knew that I would need him in perfect shape soon. It turned out to be the right decision to hurry up his return as, albeit no wins in his first three games as a starter, as soon as he found his feet and started to gell with his team-mates, our performances went a level above. He and Fontaine settled perfectly together to put us up and running as it shows on the five wins from five that closed our first round of league fixtures.
The table is looking like this at halfway point.
I’ve tried to adopt a 4-2-3-1 on our first couple of games with the idea of accommodating my two best midfielders next to each other but it didn’t work, or maybe, I didn’t have the patience to build on it and what did I do? I just ran back to my 4-1-2-3 like a scared child run to his parents, and I have no shame about that.
High-press or not High-press?
I’ve used the normal and high lines of engagement and honestly, didn’t saw lots of difference between the two. I’ve also used the normal and high pressing and ended up with the same feeling, that the defensive problems we showed were mostly from our centre-backs individually than from a tactical aspect. For now, I’m sticking most of the time with the high line and press combination to compress the space available to our opponents and induce them on making more mistakes.
Playing out of defence
One thing that was annoying me is how deep my midfield was dropping when our goalkeeper had the ball. Being from goal kicks or open play, they always dropped a lot deeper than what I’d like. I posted the issue on twitter and @Boydieboyd told me to remove the ‘play out of defence’ team instruction and see if I noted some change.
The change was obvious. Now, my midfielders remained higher up the pitch and we had space to play out from the back. I strongly recommend you to not use the ‘play out of defence’ instruction if you aren’t a top team or at least if you haven’t top class and composed enough defenders. It will put you in trouble and can backfire more often than not.
Player of the Year
I gave him the captain armband on day one. He retributed like this:
Despite having lost 6 weeks through injuries, Fontaine still managed to get six goals and create another six for his teammates by January. If He keeps this kind of form, he may manage to put on double digits for both goals and assists towards the end of the season.
The man averages 53 passes per 90′ with 3.20 of those being Key Passes. He has an 83% pass accuracy, which shows that he tries to find the killer ball more often than not, and that is exactly what we want, and need, from him. He is currently playing at RCM and varying roles between AP-A and MEZ-S.
That’s it for today. Thanks for reading, share if you liked the content. All the comments are much appreciated and if you have any suggestions feel free to let me know.
À plus tard,