Track 7 – Roll With It
I think I’ve got a feeling I’ve lost inside,
I think I’m gonna take me away and hide,
I’m thinking of things that I just can’t abide..
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remonstrate [ ri-mon-streyt ] v.to make a forcefully reproachful protest – “he turned angrily to remonstrate with Tommy”
It was Summer 2022 and all was well in Angers after finishing 6th in our second season of this Homegrown challenge, up one place from our 7th place finish the year before. The Gods of FM were ever in our favour having just signed a new 2 year contract, Chairman Said Chabane quietly content with life having seen his club pocket €9.65m in prize money, a hefty €4.5m of which he will pump into the club’s transfer budget.
Yes, life was going well for Manager MaddFM in Ligue 1 – qualifying for European Football (i.e. the Europa Conference League) was no mean feat for a club that can only recruit and sign players of French nationality (first or second), signings such as Evan N’Dicka, Mathieu Cafaro and Michael Olise adding a layer of quality to the spine of Paul Bernardoni, Rayan Ait-Nouri, Antonin Bobichon and Rachid Alioui who were already at the club. Based on our progress so far, you’re probably thinking this is a farmer’s league by now…
Trust me – it isn’t. As if it wasn’t bad enough that PSG spent €142m on Mohamad Salah last season, they top it off this season by not only signing Cristiano Ronaldo, but also adding Dejan Kulusevski, Corentin Tolisso and Angel Correa to their ranks spending €295m in the process. Did I mention we have a transfer budget of €4.5m?!
Our own transfer business starts pretty well – after two seasons on loan at the club, Ibrahim Amadou signs permanently after his contract expires at Sevilla. While he is signing his contract, another loanee waits outside in the form of Said Benrahma whose loan we also manage to extend for another season after he initially joined us in January to help rescue our season (which he did chipping in 5 goals and 2 assists). Two quality first team signings without spending a penny so far, not bad! We will need all the cash we can muster up this window – so much so that we decide to offer the lowest amount of prize bonus possible in the League, Cup and Europa Conference, which stretches our transfer budget to €7.5m. Footballers aren’t motivated by money right?
Romain Thomas has been at the heart of our defence alongside Evan N’Dicka since we started this save, however at the ripe age of 34 it’s time for him to move on as he joins FC Lorient on a free at the end of his contract, thus making signing a Centre Half our number one priority and handing the Club Captaincy over to the aforementioned Ibrahim Amadou. This took a while as we scouted 5 or 6 potential candidates (again somewhat limited due to homegrown restrictions), before securing the signature of Lilian Brassier from Stade Brestois for a fee of €7.25m, the highest we have paid for any player so far in this save.
Unfortunately (or malheuresement as we say in the West of France), it’s not just new players at Angers that are stealing the limelight. Mathieu Cafaro‘s 3 goals and 11 assists last season start to attract interest from a number of English clubs notably West Ham, Wolves, Fulham and Newcastle (never mind his 10 goals and 8 assists the year before), and as we casually turn down multiple bids of between €7m and €9m (at which point we are happy the AI clubs don’t seem to value him any higher), the sh*t hits the proverbial fan at Stade Raymond Kopa:
NO. PLEASE GOD NO. Cafaro has been without doubt our best player since we signed him at the beginning of the save two seasons ago, and in a cruel twist of fate it’s Newcastle (this blogger’s boyhood club) who have dangled a €14.25m carrot in front of Chairman Said Chabane’s greedy little eyes and we are powerless to stop it. Despite remonstrating i.e. protesting the sh*t out of it, our efforts are wasted and the board refuse to budge on the decision. Either we threaten to resign in protest, or we accept that we are in reality a feeder club and roll on with it? We opt for the latter – the only thing we can do is push them to renegotiate in which they manage to up the amount to €16.5m, however from there it’s bye bye Mathieu and suddenly we are left with a huge gap to fill in terms of creative output. Granted the funds will do us well considering we receive 60% of all transfer revenue, but how on earth are we to find a player of that quality with French nationality and a desire to move to to mid-table France?
The search begins again. Very frustrating. What we want from a creative midfielder is someone who can fill the majority of the MC/AMC roles, with strong Passing, Vision, Technique, First Touch and if one can get it, decent Long Shots and Free Kick taking to go with it. Add “Slightly Interested” and “French” to that filter and we aren’t really blessed with options…the likes of Eddy Silvestre, Florent Da Silva and Randy Nteka all pop up in our filters, and just as we were about to make a decision, one man pops up out of nowhere that suddenly appears to be interested in joining seemingly due to a lack of first team football at Inter Milan since moving there on a free transfer from Madrid last summer. A man that carries a footballing pedigree/legacy/burden like few other (apart from his brothers of course).
For whatever reason, his estimated cost is extremely low so we throw in a €3.8m bid to match his current value, and wouldn’t you know it – ACCEPTED. I can honestly say I haven’t been this psyched for a transfer for many FM versions now…granted the kid is lacking slightly in the speed department, but he more than makes up for it in his Mental and Technicals (not to mention the lad is 6ft 5″ for crying out loud!) and on paper looks like he could set Ligue 1 on fire given the chance. We are talking about the son of (arguably) France’s greatest ever footballer, if he can even turn out to be half as good as his father how can we not sign him?!
Newcastle’s bid for Cafaro seems to turn Premier League eyes in our direction as we receive further interest in some of our earlier recruits. Brighton land in with a €6.5m bid for Yann Karamoh who has been largely disappointing since his €4m transfer from Sampdoria, while Newcastle come back for seconds as they launch a €5m bid for backup Left Back Jean-Claude Ntenda who we originally signed from Juventus for €1.5m. We decide to accept both bids – with our transfer revenue now up to 75% the money can certainly be used elsewhere, we lack depth at RB and MC while we also swore not to neglect our U19 team as part of our original save goals (spending a portion of our annual budget on youth recruits).
Valentin Rosier arrives from Sporting on a €5m deal, his natural position is at Right Back however looking at his attributes I reckon we can train him towards being a decent Defensive Midfielder also (challenge accepted). He is joined by French U21 Midfielder Enzo Le Fee who arrives on a €2m deal from FC Lorient – if Theo doesn’t work out for any reason or if some other club comes knocking on the door, Le Fee should be an adequate understudy if called upon. On the topic of understudies – we also manage to bring in 3 signings for our U19 team that all meet our homegrown requirements and will hopefully prove capable of progressing towards our first team in the near future, with Ahmed Youssouf (Nimes) arriving for €2m, Hugo Vogel (Lyon) landing for €1.5m and Leo Lebon (Bordeaux) arriving on loan with a €7.5m option (he looks top notch).
That’s enough right? Here is how our squad looks as we prepare to kick off our third season at Les Scoistes in the West of France.
Angers SCO First Team Squad – 2022/2023 ⚫⚪
Goalkeepers: Paul Bernardoni, Dimitry Bertaud
Defenders: Evan N’Dicka, Rayan Ait-Nouri, Lilian Brassier, Enock Kwateng, Valentin Rosier, Mamadou Doucouré, Leo Lebon
Midfielders: Ibrahim Amadou (c), Antonin Bobichon, Mathias Pereira Lage, Theo, Michael Olise, Sofiane Boufal, Enzo Le Mee, Mohamad-Ali Cho
Forwards: Rachid Alioui, Said Benrahma, Stephane Bahoken
Our season starts like a dream, with new boy Theo Zidane scoring not only on his debut in a 3-0 demolition in Nantes but also bagging the winner in a 1-0 victory at home to Bordeaux. Two games in and naturally we think we are going to win the league. Unfortunately our maiden voyage into Europe does not go so well – despite beating CSKA Moscow 1-0 at home in the first leg and holding them at 1-1 on 84 mins in the second leg, we somehow manage to leave Russia empty handed as they score two late goals to overturn our away goal advantage and hand us an early exit from the Europa Conference league.
It’s around this point that all hell breaks loose and the wrath of the FM Gods seems to incur. The injuries…I have played CM/FM for about 25 years now and never in my life have I seen anything like it. Over the course of August, September and October we see no fewer than 19 separate injuries, with 9 of our First Team ruled out with Moderate or Major injuries forcing them to miss at least two games each time – this includes repeat injuries for top scorer Rachid Alioui, as well as backup Stephane Bahoken leaving Said Benrahma as our only forward option . Honestly, I am baffled – we have a full cohort of Physios and Sports Scientists, our training intensity is not that high and we have dropped the full-pressing high intensity Gegenpress tactic of yesteryear. What the f*ck is going on? Seriously – comment below if you have had anything like this.
This sadly has a direct impact on our league form – after those two defeats to Monaco and Marseille in August, we proceed to draw 6 of our next 7 games giving us the most unwanted of records (9 games without winning), and it wasn’t until a 2-0 victory over OGC Nice that we finally put 3 points on the board courtesy of a Michael Olise double. I’m not going to lie, we played absolute dogshite throughout this period with so many first team players out injured and our 11th place standing after 13 games is thoroughly deserved.
Why 13 games I hear you ask and why does the table look like sh*t? Well, it’s that wonderful time in the calendar where our friends at FIFA decided it would be a good idea to host the 2022 World Cup in Qatar during Winter Time for almost everyone else at the higher levels of club football, which means that the end of October kicks off a 2 month Winter Break while we wait. Sadly none of our players make the French squad (and weren’t expected to) meaning that particular part of our save goals continues (as do all of them really) – for now all we can do is sit back and reflect on where we have gone wrong, how it’s everyone else’s fault and of course, ROLL WITH IT. Before we go though, let me leave you with the best FM21 goal I have seen so far this year from our own Mohamad-Ali Cho courtesy of the best piece of build up play I have seen from this homegrown side:
Thanks for reading – here’s hoping you have a Happy and Healthier New Year than this lot 😄🤦♂️.
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