Made a meal and threw it up on Sunday I’ve got a lot of things to learn, Said I would and I’ll be leaving one day before my heart starts to burn..
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One might be inclined to say that Angers SCO finishing 7th in our first season of this Homegrown Football Manager 2021 save was an over achievement, and one might be fairly right all things considered especially taking into account that headlines like this are what we have to compete with in this league:
Yes, we have an uphill battle ahead of us especially when you consider the fact that we are a club with limited means, a limited transfer policy and with limited interest from any players of real quality given that we can only sign players of French nationality/second nationality. No wonder we lost our last three games of the season; did someone say FM21 is too easy?
Personally I think it’s too generic to say it’s too easy. Sure, managing Man Utd to an unbeaten season is rather unrealistic at this stage in real life, however with their resources and facilities they tick a lot of in-game boxes in terms of key success factors. Certain players might be a tad bit over-powered e.g. Callum Wilson at Newcastle or Adama Traore at Wolves (sorry @daveazzopardi) however again, this does not mean that the game is broken. We had our ups and downs last season, and while we had some terrific results and a really good run mid-season, equally we threw points away at various stages so overall I feel it’s balanced enough for me to be content with the challenge this year. For us, the main catalyst was this man:
10 goals and 8 assists playing in the AMC role as a Shadow Striker meant that Mathieu Cafaro was our Player of the Season by a mile (sorry Evan N’Dicka), and unfortunately this didn’t go unnoticed..
Repeat bids of six and seven million from Monaco, Wolves and Aston Villa ensue and we politely tell his suitors to go and f*ck themselves, thankfully a bid from Arsenal doesn’t materialise and the lad doesn’t appear to get overly unsettled. The cash would of course have been nice however our 7th place finish meant that we picked up €8.4m in prize money; time to bring in some quality to distract Mathieu Cafaro from the bright lights of Wolverhampton.
Sing Me Something New
I’m not gonna lie, we’ve had our eye on one specific French player long before this save even started. I initially started to notice a player plying his trade in the Championship in England, with his name frequently showing on the goals and assists charts. This was then further fueled by frequent references to the lad on the Scouted Football podcast, more recently by Lee Scott (@FMAnalysis on Twitter) who referenced his exceptional passing and dribbling ability as well as some of his statistics in the Championship which then led me on to read an excellent article on the Scouted Football website which gives an even more in-depth narrative on the same player in question. His name you ask?
The kid’s got potential, perfect for our Homegrown ambitions. Even better, with only 1 year left on his contract we might just have a good old fashioned hustle on the cards (rubs hands together).
A €5.5m fee is agreed with Reading (50% up front) and suddenly the prospect of Olise and Cafaro in our midfield has mouths watering in the West of France. It would be a crying shame not to have a Striker feeding off those two. Last year Rachid Alioui eventually got off his arse to score 18 goals in total, however at 29 with distinctly average attributes in terms of Pace and Off the Ball, competition is badly needed and subsequently enters in the form of 23 year old Ivorian-with-a-French-passport Yann Karamoh who arrives on a €4m deal from Parma. Admittedly this one is a bit of a gamble however with a lack of alternative options (seriously slim pickings for French Strikers interested in a move to Angers) and looking at his speed and potential, I’m hoping he might tear it up in Ligue 1 either as an impact sub or first choice if Alioui doesn’t produce the goods.
That’s two attacking signings, let’s talk about the other end (that’s what she said). At the end of my last post, we dropped a spoiler of possibly the greatest thing to happen in this save so far – the return of Rayan Ait-Nouri to Angers following his loan spell at Wolves who decided not to activate his €20m optional fee. Surprisingly there is no interest in his services which we don’t mind at all, having this lad come back is as good as any signing we could have made and we will do well to keep him with us on this homegrown journey (even though we manage to hoodwink him into signing a new 4 year contact).
On a more negative note – those selfish b*stards over at Eintracht Frankfurt decline our repeat attempts to bring Evan N’Dicka back to the club on loan (seriously, read here to see how good he was last season) and insist on a minimum of €10m for his permanent signature. That leaves us in quite a predicament at Centre Half having allowed Ismael Traore to leave on a free, meaning we only have one first choice central defender in 33 year old Romain Thomas! Having spent most of our funds there was only one place to turn:
Christmas decided to come early in Angers as we find not one but two absolute bargains who are out of contract – Prince Desir Kouango joins after being released from Amiens, while Mamadou Doucoure arrives from Germany after being let go from BMG. Are we now stacked or are we stacked 🔥🔥.
That’s us just about primed and ready for Season 2, definite additions to the squad in terms of quality and depth and with a league opener against lowly Nimes Olympique, surely it’s all coming up Millhouse at Les Scoistes this season.
They said FM21 is too easy right?
Call it squad gelling, second season syndrome or just plain poor management on my part but somehow we manage to lose our opening four games of the season in desperate fashion, made worse only by the fact that I was streaming live for all 4 games at the time! (Twitch.tv/MaddFM if you are into that kind of thing). We spent most of that stream blaming @WAFCLiam for our poor results, and after throwing our fourth water bottle he only went and had the audacity to do this:
Bottom of the league after four games, 7 league defeats in a row (remember we lost our final 3 games last season) and arguably one of our best players now out for pretty much the majority of this year’s campaign…surely this can’t be happening right?
Now if you’ve read my blog previously you will know I’m not one to take drastic measures or panic at the first sign of defeat right? In a panic about our on and off pitch misfortunes, we decided to make a last ditch effort at rescuing our season on transfer deadline day after bringing in €2.7m through the sales of Vincent Manceau and Casimir Ninga. Naturally we should be on the hunt for an attacking player to replace the injured Boufal as clearly we are lacking in the goals and chances created department, however on one of our usual jaunts through the neighbouring leagues and in particular looking for players with only a year left on their contracts in the hope of a bargain, something wonderful, unexpected and completely unnecessary happens…
After initially demanding €10m for him back in June, suddenly (and assumingly because he now has less than 12 months left on his contract) our hero and defensive brick sh*thouse from last season Evan N’Dicka is available for what is surely pittance at €3.2m. We absolutely don’t need a Central Defender, and it would be completely irrational to spend the rest of our budget bring in what would be a 4th first team Centre Half..wouldn’t it?
Thankfully we manage to get a draw against Monaco before picking up our first win of the season against Ajaccio which temporarily lifts us off the bottom of the table and it’s at this point you are thinking “now he’s going to hit a run of form and shoot up the table, lovely”. You should probably stop reading now (writer’s note: well done, you’re now telling your readers to stop reading 👏).
Nine games played and we find ourselves in 19th place. 19th. Place. 5 points on the board, 6 goals scored and 11 conceded. What on earth have we done?
I don’t know about you, but it would be an awful shame to get sacked in blog form… #StandByMadd
Thanks for reading,
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