True perfection has to be imperfect, I know that that sounds foolish but it’s true, Day has come, now you’ll have to accept, Life inside your head we give to you..
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Welcome back! We finished my last post on a bit of a high with us sitting in 4th place in Ligue 1 after 26 games played, just a point behind Monaco largely thanks to 19 goals from Amine Gouiri, while we also progressed to the Europa League Last 16 setting up a clash against none other than Fulham who somehow finished in 6th place in the 2024/2025 Premier League season still under the watchful eye of the best dressed manager in the Premier League, Scott Parker.
In this post I was looking forward to bringing your further positive news – that we had an epic Youth Intake; that we somehow managed to equal or better our highest ever league finish (3rd) to gain Champions League qualification; that we went on an epic Europa League run and took down a few European giants, and watched Amine Gouiri smash the 30 league goals mark to finish top scorer in Ligue 1 ahead of the likes of Mo Salah, Karim Adeyemi and Patson Daka. How many of these do you think we achieved?
Epic Youth Intake – ❌
After producing our best newgen so far last season (Damien Blanchard, more to follow) I remained hopeful that we might continue our upward trend of annual youth candidates with our preview advising of some decent potential youth players in defence, midfield and attack. Unfortunately this didn’t qutie transpire to reality – positively we see an increase in youth candidates of African descent which is something we have been pushing for through our scouting and staff recruitment, however only French Guiana’s Ludovic Baal is the standout player in this year’s crop of youngsters and even at that looks technically limited for a midfielder. As is often said in this save, #WeGoAgain.
Champions League Qualification – ❌
Having finished 3rd in the past two seasons to reach the Champions League qualifiers only to fail both times at the hands of Sporting Lisbon, the plan was to try and leapfrog Monaco to clinch 3rd again, accepting that 13 points was simply too much of a gap between ourselves and Lyon in 2nd. How did that go you ask?
Fitness and injuries hit us hard – with a squad size of just 22 players, we simply ran out of steam trying to balance domestic and European football – next season will need to be different but having slowly recruited a few prospects into our U19 side and doing our best to develop them to be at least good enough to be squad players, we should be able to bulk up for next season along with (hopefully) a couple of decent signings (spoiler alert: there will be a big one later in this post 👀).
Europa League Run – ❌
We have to be beating Fulham right?
There’s a slight chance I may have underestimated Ezequiel Barco who has long been a bit of an FM legend in recent years – as we are now in the year 2026, for some reason I had mentally deemed him past it or on the decline as a player not realising he is still only 27, rocking it up in the Premier League and valued at €54 million. That was a costly error as we exit the competition at this stage for the second year in a row; there won’t be a third 💪.
Amine Gouiri +30 League Goals & Ligue 1 Top Scorer – ✅
It’s a first for me in quite a few renditions of Football Manager as Amine Gouiri bags 30 league goals for the season, with 35 in all compeitions which also bags him the European Golden Boot – did someone say this is a farmer’s league? The lad still hasn’t been given an international cap as yet and with one of our main save objectives to have an Angers player capped for France at a World Cup, perhaps this one could be the year with World Cup 2026 in Spain on the horizon?
So that was Season 6 – a respectable 5th place finish albeit a drop compared to the past couple of seasons, however on a positive note the €12m we earned from selling Geoffrey Kondogbia back in January combined with the €9m prize money mean that we now have an €18 million transfer budget going into Season 7 at Angers. I mentioned that our squad was a bit light in terms of depth however rather than spend a lot of money on squad players we instead start by promoting no fewer than 4 players from our Reserve & Youth squads – all of whom have spent the last few seasons in dev mode, and little by little they have been knocking on the door of the first team squad.
A Tale of Two Marios
We obviously won’t stop here. Last time round, I spoke a lot about raising the bar in terms of recruitment and our transfer market activity if we are to have any hope of closing the gap with PSG and Lyon. The difficulty with being a relatively small club doing a homegrown save is that most players whom would in fact raise the bar to that star quality level are either out of our price range or out of our league in terms of interest in signing. Last season I felt we lacked depth on the wings due to injuries for both Mohamed-Ali Cho and Michael Olise, so an AMR is our main priority however after spending about 3 in-game weeks scouting numerous candidates, it becomes clear that we will have to spend pretty much all our budget in order to bring in a top quality signing in this position as we identify two possible options:
Name: Mario Tournier Age: 21 Club: Strasbourg Fee Required: €30m (50% up front)
On paper Tournier looks the stronger of the two, particularly when we look his technical attributes and also his stats for last season (17 goals & 4 assists versus Thimon’s 3 goals and 12 assists) – in terms of impact the ball sways in his favour however he would require almost double the fee in the long-run. The Player Comparison tool is extremely useful when it comes to these dilemmas, if you don’t use it – you really should be.
When we look at them side by side – a lot of attributes actually sway in Thimon’s favour and in particular I am drawn towards his Pace, Natural Fitness, Determination and Vision. Tournier however edges him in terms of Acceleration, Stamina, Work Rate, Dribbling and Technique. Decisions! In the end, even though Tournier can probably get us a few extra goals we can’t shy away from the difference in price – Mario Thimon, welcome to Angers 🔥.
We aren’t the only French team busy in the market prior to kicking off Season 7. With Patson Daka leaving Lyon for Barcelona in a €90m deal, he is replaced by €49m signing Fabio Silva who arrives from Chelsea just 3 seasons after they signed him from Wolves for €94m. Things are also shaking up at PSG as both Karim Adeyemi (Chelsea – €81m) and Mo Salah (Spurs – Free) depart Paris, however my joy is short-lived as they are replaced by Jamal Musiala (Dortmund – €59m) and Aleksander Isak (Man City – €45.5m) respectively. Safe to say we will have more interesting fixtures to come against these two sides next season.
The departures of Adeyemi and Salah aren’t the only pieces of good news this summer in the Angers camp. First – after spending the past 6 seasons trying to establish an affiliation with an African club (watching the board either fail to agree terms, or consistently identifying feeder clubs in Europe only) – we finally manage to establish a link with Étoile Sportive du Sahel who are among the Top 3 teams in Tunisia having produced numerous players that went on to play in Europe and at International level (most famous graduate is Aymen Abdennour formerly of Valencia). Might we start to see a pipeline of Tunisian Newgens funneling through the Angers youth academy?
Secondly – it would appear that Football Manager has some sympathy for us after we twice failed in the Champions League qualifiers following consecutive 3rd place finishes in Ligue 1, with only the Top 2 teams (i.e. PSG and Lyon) progressing straight to the Group Stages. With France overtaking Germany in the European coefficients table (presumably because they won the World Cup again as well as Lyon reaching the Europa League final last season?) – we are informed there will soon be four, that’s right FOUR Champions League spots available in Ligue 1 after the coming season. In a League dominated by a select few teams this is welcome news to Angers fans – might we finally see Champions League football after 7 seasons at the helm?
Finally – we are seeing some steady progress in our quest to retrain last season’s January signing Serge Giraud from a Central Midfielder to a Centre Half, so much so that I may even consider starting him in that role this season as we look to improve on our defensive performances (sorry Evan N’Dicka). When we started he had no indication of role suitability at Centre Back, however we can see this has already started to appear after just 6 months of training & focus – calling it now, this guy will be a #6 for France in a future World Cup 🔮.
Season 7 🚀
We spent most of pre-season building a new tactic. Having seen a notable decrease in output from our Inside Forwards that play either side of Amine Gouiri in the lone striker role as part of a 4-1-2-3 formation (e.g. Michael Olise, Manu Kone & Mo-Ali Cho), as well as the fact that we simply concede far too many goals particularly originating from our opponents attacking in wide areas where our full-backs are often exposed as a result – we go back to the drawing board to build a somewhat new 4-4-1-1 Tiki Taka formation which implements a Shadow Striker to accompany Amine Gouiri up top, with a focus on ball retention and high energy possession football. I enjoyed a lot of success with this tactic in previous saves at Blackburn and Tenerife in FM19 so it’s time to see if we can make it work in FM21.
Angers SCO vs Stade Brestois 29 Ligue 1 – Sat 08/08/2026
The good news is we didn’t concede! The bad news is we didn’t overly threaten with 12 shots on target and 52% possession, and that seemed to be the theme of our new tactic in our opening 4 games in August as we went unbeaten with two wins and two draws, only conceding one goal in four games but only scoring three ourselves including a debut goal for €17m signing Mario Thimon as well as Amine Gouiri back to his old tricks.
We definitely look more solid, however we also look a bit more safe if not boring – having said that, with a Europa League group containing Milan, AZ Alkmaar and Partizan Belgrade, perhaps safe and boring might be just what the doctor ordered this season.
Thanks for reading – see you in Milan next week for our Europa League opener 🔥.
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