I’m a stranger to this place, where real life and dreams collide, and even though I fall from grace, I will keep the dream alive
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A quick recap on our original save objectives – click here to jump back in time to Episode 1 – The Masterplan where we originally set out the rules and goals of this save.
⭐ Compete in Europe
🤏 KO'd from the European Conference last season
🏆 Succeed at U19 level
✅ Won the French U19 League C
🥊 Beat PSG in a league game
🌍 Have an Angers player play for France in a World Cup
💰 Sell a Newgen for €100m
Things are going pretty well! Ok, we haven’t beaten PSG in 7 attempts and we are in slight financial peril due to some of the transfer deals made wherein we are still paying installments annually – however by the end of December 2023 halfway through Season 4 of this homegrown save at Angers SCO, we sit in 3rd place in Ligue 1 and despite our financial woes our board are very happy with our performance so far.
As mentioned in my last post this season has been the Michael Olise show, and his goal in our 2-1 win over Amiens brought his tally to 9 in the league by December. Cue the inevitable as the lad goes on to pick up a spate of injuries, completely derailing his season and having a knock-on impact on our own form in January as well.
They say when one door closes another opens, and Ebenezer Simons de Fanti is the man to walk through it. The 19 year old has been excellent for our U19s since starting the save however I had thought he wouldn’t be good enough to step up to this level unlike fellow IRL academy graduate Mohamed-Ali Cho who has cemented a place in the first team. A quick switch of Cho over to the left and de Fanti on the right suddenly gets us firing on all cylinders, and by the end of February not only has the lad earned himself a Player of the Month award, but we jump back up into second just as we enter that magical time of year which is our annual Youth Intake.
On the topic of Youth Intakes – so far we have been left disappointed in this save with three distinctly average groups coming through so far. After a couple of failed attempts to set up some affiliations with African academies such as Generation Foot in Senegal to the point where we hired two of their former staff as our Assistant Manager and Head of Youth Development, we started to see a bit of traction with news that one of our top prospects is a Senegalese Centre Midfielder, and also that this looks to be our best group of youth candidates so far in this save.
Needless to say the apprehension was building as we awaited that fateful day in which our youth candidates are confirmed, and while the Senegalese kid Arona Diallo isn’t as good as one would have hoped – it emerges that local lad Damien Blanchard is the star of this intake, coming through with 4 star potential and at just 15 looks like he may become a cracking player in a few seasons time. Bearing in mind one of our save objectives is to eventually develop and sell a Newgen for €100m, could this be the lad that brings home the bacon?
One Night in Paris
Youth intakes aside, March is all about one man who not only scores all 5 of our goals in the month, but also nets the winning penalty in a 1-0 victory over PSG in Paris. WE F*CKING DID IT!!!!!
Admittedly they were without Cristiano Ronaldo this time round however we put in our best defensive performance all season against a side containing Neymar, Salah, Kulusevski, Firmino and Ferran Torres to keep a clean sheet and pick up 3 points courtesy of a 54th minute penalty. Another save objective off the list 🎉🎉🎉.
🥊 Beat PSG in a league game – ✅
At this point we find ourselves holding on to 2nd place in the league with 8 games remaining – might we actually keep this form going and properly achieve European football bringing this homegrown side to the forefront of elite football?! (Writer’s note: we definitely aren’t ready)
With our bank balance very much in the red at minus €12 million, we need as high a finish as possible especially considering the prize money available in Ligue 1 which is pittance compared to the other top European leagues.
It’s also at this point we lose Gouiri for 3 weeks to an ankle injury and although we manage to wing it for two games in his absence, we are half the team we were in the final third and a costly defeat against Amiens reduces our lead to just 3 points ahead of Lyon who won all games since as they make a late burst – Patson Daka rocketing up to the top of the scoring charts in the process. Draws against Rennes and Nantes put us under even more pressure and with two games to go we are suddenly in danger of missing out on Champions League football completely if results don’t go our way. Are we about to complete the biggest bottle job in Angers history and truly make ourselves look back in anger for years to come?!!
If both Lyon and Marseille managed to win both their games then that’s us out of the Champions League after holding second place since February. Surely the Gods of FM can’t be that cruel…..
A 2-2 draw for Marseille on the final day of the season means we finish in third, sealing a place in the Champions League qualifiers for the first time in our history and netting us that €14m prize money. Amine Gouiri finishes as our Top Scorer on 17 goals, while Theo‘s 17 assists put him top of the league charts and memories of our previous record holder Mathieu Cafaro have long faded away. In the end we threw away automatic qualification as well as the additional €2m in cash, just lacking that additional squad depth to cover injuries which we will absolutely have to rectify if we are to qualify and survive in the Champions League next season. On a more positive note – there are some accolades that money just can’t buy 😎.
Somewhat interestingly this doesn’t go unnoticed….an bit of a decision to make, did someone say Club and Country save??
Thanks for reading,
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