I’m sorry but I just don’t know, I know I said I told you so, When you’re happy and you’re feeling fine, Then you’ll know it’s the right time..
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Hello again. The last time we were here we had just kicked off Season 7 of this Homegrown save at Angers SCO, sitting in 4th place after 4 games having just spent €17m for the signature of Right Winger Mario Thimon from RC Lens making him our second-highest ever transfer (narrowly pipped by Amine Gouiri on whom we spent €18m a few seasons back).
Before we dive into our seventh season, let’s do the briefest of recaps on our original save objectives which we set before Football Manager 2021 was even fully released all the way back in October 2020.
1. European Football ✅
Having last featured in Europe all the way back in 1972 we set out to qualify regularly and compete in Europe with Angers, no mean feat for a small-town club in the West of France with a Homegrown transfer policy. To date we have finished 7th, 6th, 8th, 3rd, 3rd and 5th in our six seasons, unfortunately failing twice in the Champions League qualifiers meaning 4 outings in the Europa League so far to date but never making it past the Quarter Finals. A recent rule change means that now the Top 3 teams will qualify automatically for the CL group stages – might we finally break the curse and go where no Angers team has gone before?
2. Succeed at U19 Level ✅
We currently play in Group C of the U19 Championnat National each year wherein the winner goes on to contest a four-way playoff for the national title. In our last six seasons we have won Group C five times, reaching the playoff final twice and winning it outright once. While our newgens haven’t been amazing (more to follow), we seem to consistently perform well as a group and my strategy has been to gradually add one or two U19 players to this setup each season to ensure continued success each year. All we need now is a Wonderkid 🙏.
3. Beat PSG ✅
It sounds crazy but it took us four seasons to beat PSG in a league game – them spending about €800m on the likes of Ronaldo, Salah, Kulusevski, Firmino, Musiala, Adeyemi, Dembele, Havertz and Gravenberch didn’t really help but we have since managed to overcome them in 3 of our 14 clashes so far.
4. Have at least 1 player start for France in a World Cup ❌
This one still eludes us and it was scandalous that the likes of Bernardoni, Ait-Nouri, Theo and Gouiri were overlooked in World Cup 2026 with boss Rudi Garcia favouring the experience of Areola (34), Mendy (31), Pogba (33) and Griezmann (34). We have made a small bit of progress since with Bernardoni getting his first ever call up to the national squad after the World Cup, but with 26 year old IllanMeslier occupying the #1 spot since his €32.5m move to Benfica, it’s unlikely Bernardoni will be the one to help us overcome this objective – our hopes most likely lie with Giraud and Thimon who are currently first choice in the U21 setup.
5. Sell a Homegrown produce for €100m+ ❌
Definitely the most ambitious of our objectives so far considering the highest fee we have received for a Newgen in this save is €6.25m. We haven’t had much success when it comes to Youth Intakes with Damien Blanchard the stand-out youth prospect having come through last season and becoming the youngest ever goalscorer for Angers SCO – unlikely he will fetch €100m at any point, we might need to lower this value if we ever hope to achieve this objective!
Theo Scores Goals
Bernardoni has been iconic in goal for six seasons. Ait-Nouri is an absolute baller of a Wing Back. Gouiri is the best Striker I have managed for several versions of FM now and Giraud looks to be evolving into a world class Centre Half following our efforts to retrain him in a new position. But there is one man who epitomises this save in terms of being one of our most shrewd signings, taking into account his value, attributes, deployment and the fact that he only arrived here to replace our former hero Mathieu Cafaro whom the board sold to Newcastle without our permission. A man who despite not using his famous surname has evolved into our most influential player. His name? Theo f*cking Zidane.
While the last few seasons have been all about assists for Theo (36 assists in his last 3 campaigns), he started this season deciding that he’d had enough of creating goals for everyone else and proceeded to commence scoring cracker after cracker in our early fixtures – so much so it would be rude of me not to whip out the old Gyazo to capture some of these fine finishes.
The first half of the season goes pretty well and by Christmas we sit in familiar territory in 3rd place behind PSG and Lyon. Despite only losing one game we earn ourselves 7 draws to create a 6 point gap between us and second.
Where things do go well however is in Europe. I hate to say it too soon and far from me to disrespect Europa League merchants Sevilla, but we are somehow starting to become Europa League specialists ourselves as we absolutely dominate our group winning all 6 games to finish top of a group containing Milan, AZ Alkmaar and Partizan Belgrade and even more shockingly, this leads to an early exit for the Italian giants whose squad still contains prime Donnarumma, Kessie and Jens Petter Hauge as well as Pietro Pellegri leading the line up front.
Money Doesn’t Buy You Class
What isn’t going to well is our finances. Yes, we have spent whatever we could in terms of transfer budget in a desperate attempt to try and keep up with PSG and Lyon who continue to spend and progress far beyond our own means – however the continued absence of Champions League football means we simply cannot keep up and with Ligue 1 income as limited as ever, our once beautiful bank balance is back in the red all over again.
I’m not sure if it’s some kind of in-built FM logic or sympathy to our cause but help arrives in the form of a multitude of January transfer bids from China for pretty much half of our squad – Beijing Guoan, Wuhan Zall, Shanghai Shenhua, Guangzhou Evergrande – they all seem to want a piece of the Angers pie as we literally get slammed with bid after bid for the likes of Manu Koné, Evan N’Dicka, Jean–Philippe Gbamin, Lillian Brassier and Rayan Ait–Nouri. There’s just one problem: WE AREN’T A SELLING CLUB. Short of losing the aforementioned Cafaro to Newcastle as well as making a €15m profit on an aging Geoffrey Kondogbia (who incidentally also moved to China), we have no interest in selling any of our players as they are literally the best we can sign or attract at present and finding replacements is next to impossible considering we only get 20% of any incoming transfer revenue. Therefore, with heads held high we flatly reject all incoming bids and resist the temptation to cash in some of our best assets. Whatever happens, we will NEVER succumb to the lure of an easy windfall..
OK OK OK. I mean, how could we say no? We signed Guendouzi on a free transfer just 18 months ago, and out of nowhere Guangzhou Evergrande arrive in with a €60m offer that we of course can’t refuse – that kind of money only comes along every so often in a save like this and could virtually kickstart the club on a much faster upward trajectory. For six seasons we have watched PSG, Lyon and Monaco splash the cash like spoilt rich kids while we have had to maximise every penny to ensure we get maximum bang for our buck each season – if ever there was a time for us to finally start closing the gap, it’s now. Bye bye Matteo, you’ve been great ❤️.
On the downside we didn’t have long to sort out a replacement which we badly need considering we are still in all three competitions. Part of me wants to wait until we (hopefully) qualify for the Champions League in order to attract a higher standard of player, however squad depth is an absolute necessity if we are to compete on all fronts so we decide to shop locally bringing in Abdoullah Ba from Le Havre who it has to be said has a top tier player photo from the old Sortitoutsi facepack – similar to Guendouzi he is capable both as a defensive or a more creative midfielder and at €7.5m is a mere fraction of the fee we just received.
Something in the Water?
Writing this blog feels much different to my previous posts where I inevitably begin to illustrate various misfortunes and downfalls to overexaggerate how difficult this save is and pull the wool over how bad I probably am at this game. That’s why you are here right? As much as I hate to disappoint – the fact of the matter is that things begin to absolutely click as we enter 2027 as we go an a proposterous 12 game winning streak and a 20 game unbeaten run which only comes to an end at the hands of Monaco in the French Cup Semi-Final as we exit via a penalty shoot-out.
What’s even more baffling is that despite this ridiculous run of form, we still find ourselves in 3rd place at the end of it with the gap only decreasing by one point between ourselves and Lyon. If ever something has summed up life in Ligue 1 it’s this – even when we win 12 games in a row, they too keep winning with each only losing one game in the same period to maintain their foothold at the top of the table.
PSG & Lyon Results 🤦♂️
That brings us up to March where after yet another disappointing Youth Intake, we prepare to welcome Lyon to Angers for a six-pointer clash in what is arguably our last chance to bridge the gap to have any hope of beating our best ever league finish and break into the Top 2 for the first time in our history.
Angers SCO vs Lyon Ligue 1 – Mon 15/3/2026
In what can only be described as a batsh*t crazy game in which we took the lead three times, scored a penalty, saved a penalty and went down to 10 men due to a late Michael Olise injury (subsequently leading to us conceding a 94th minute equaliser) – the game finished three apiece which all but rules out our chances of finishing second or even challenging for the title this season. Damn you Jadon Sancho, damn you.
When in Rome…
After demolishing our Europa League group we found ourselves drawn against AS Roma in the knockout round, a side boasting the likes of Lorenzo Pellegrini (still only 30), Marash Kumbulla, Gonzalo Villar, Gaetano Castrovilli and Justin Kluivert. So far we have been in new territory in this blog post with a lot of positive or new events to report – I guess it’s only fair that we return to a sense of normality as we once again put in successive poor performances which sees us exit the competition far earlier than hoped. This might sound odd but hopefully this is the last time we have to deal with Europa League football in this blog as we look set for Champions League qualification 👀.
The Home Stretch
After all that – we are left with a somewhat underwhelming end of season run-in! Each of our previous end-of-season run-ins have involved a frantic finish or some form of final day drama however with 10 games to go we find ourselves 10 points clear of 4th even if we are still 5 points off second. Barring an absolute disaster-class from either Lyon or ourselves, 3rd place is all but wrapped up which should mean a place in the Champions League Group Stages…fingers crossed 🤞.
NEVER. IN. DOUBT. Despite being ever so slightly helped by Amine Gouiri going on the goalscoring un of his life (12 goals in 10 games bringing him to 27 for the season), we did the job and even though we were still in the hunt for 2nd place until our defeat to Metz in the penultimate game, overall 3rd place is probably justified even though remarkably we only lost 2 games all season. Those 12 draws were costly and we may need to look at some additional firepower to start turning those into wins, however with a prize money of €15.75m plus Champions League qualification, it looks like we will finally have some decent spending money in the summer – 34 year old captain Ibrahim Amadou also decides to call it a day so a proper Defensive Midfielder will also be on our shopping list.
Thanks for reading! Hopefully you are enjoying reading about this save as much as I am playing it – the furthest I have gotten in recent years is about 9 seasons in, however with our gradual ascent and year-on-year improvement as well as our homegrown transfer policy and somewhat limited means, it has definitely proven to be a great challenge and the current plan is to keep going until we finally derail either PSG or Lyon and break into the Top 2 of French football – assuming we don’t get smashed in the Champions League before then. More to follow!
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