Maybe you’re the same as me, We see things they’ll never see, You and I are gonna live forever…
Suggestion: Blogs aren’t made to be read in Twitter WordPress reader – click here to read in it’s original format if viewing on a mobile device.
Welcome back to Angers! It’s been a while – 31 days to be precise, the longest gap we’ve had between blog posts so far in this homegrown save adventure at Angers SCO; rest assured this save has not ended up on the FM21 scrap heap, nor have we lost the love after 8 cracking seasons in the West of France which has seen us ascend to back-to-back Champions League qualification in the past two campaigns and of course, 15 (hopefully) very enjoyable episodes here on MaddFM.com.
This is no time to look back into the past however – we have much business to attend to for Season 9 and about €30 million in our Transfer Budget to do so following our 4th place finish last season which gains us automatic entry to the CL Group Stages for the third season running. As mentioned before, we do have quite a well-rounded squad which I have grown very fond of, and an annual challenge is that it continues to be tricky to bring in new players that are either interested in joining or are better than what we have already at the club – however if last season taught us anything, we are definitely lacking in quality when it comes to squad depth and we have pretty much outgrown the likes of Michael Olise, Enzo La Fée and Manu Koné who to their credit have brought us this far but will no longer be good enough to be regular starters if we are to compete at domestic and European level.
Long story short – we desire (1) a creative technical versatile Attacking Midfielder who can cover any of our wide positions as well as slot into the AMC role, and (2) a left-footed Central Midfielder who can occupy the Advanced Playmaker role and pick up pockets of space vacated by our Inverted Winger/Inside Forward on the left-hand side of the pitch. Easy peasy right?
Pierre Roussey arrives from Nice for a fee of €24m (50% up front) after scoring 6 and assisting 6 last season; his player screen advises he is best deployed as a Striker however his attributes are far more suited to play as a CAM or Inside Forward. He is joined by more-well-known-in-FM-circles Turkish midfielder Ömer Beyaz after he signs on a €17m deal from AZ Alkmaar who will be more than happy with the €12m profit they are making after he played just one season for the club contributing 5 goals and 7 assists in the Eredivisie. WAIT A SECOND MADD, HE IS TURKISH – that was my first reaction, however having spent 7 seasons in France with Bordeaux and Stade Brest, Beyaz picked up a French passport for himself and therefore meets our homegrown rule of having either French first or second nationality – as @Nerdphonic described on the 5* Potential Podcast, “that’s the kind of Irish I like” with regard to our approach to managing/bending our homegrown rules in this save 😄.
What this does mean however is that we have finally reached a point in this save where I am extremely confident in our squad depth for the first time, we have almost got complete cover in every position which means we can almost fill a full second XI if needed; quintessential FM injury crisis, come at me bro 💪.
A good mix of IRL and Newgen players, all of whom are of either French first or second nationality and amazingly none of whom have been capped internationally for France as yet, meaning Hojberg (Denmark), Gbamin (Ivory Coast), Beyaz (Turkey) and Pelissard (Algeria) are our only internationally capped players in this squad. I say this because one of our main save objectives is to have an Angers player capped at a World Cup for France (more on this later) as well as the fact that we have a Champions League Group Draw to worry about…after Real Madrid, Internazionale and Leverkusen last year it surely can’t get much worse right?
Season 9 🚀
“Siri, show me the Football Manager equivalent of bursting out of the traps please..”
Something has clicked. Something beautiful. And I have no idea what it is. So good is our start to the season that we literally explode to win 7 of our opening 8 games which propels us straight to the top of the league, with PSG breathing down our necks waiting patiently for us to slip up – ironic considering we went on to do exactly that when we played them in Gameweek 10 but that’s beside the point. Like us, they have started to branch into the Newgen world and although they are not as strong on paper as they once were (memory drifts back fondly to a time when they had Mbappe, Neymar, Ronaldo and Salah as their front 4) – they are still very much a force to be reckoned with having only failed to win the league twice in the past 16 seasons
That slip up slightly rustled us in terms of any newfound sense of unbeatability, but we continued to battle well and most importantly keep up with the unforgiving PSG and Lyon who in every other season have eventually broken away from the chasing pack as soon as anyone around them dropped points. By Christmas we are very much in contention, and even more interestingly it is no longer solely down to the goals of Amine Gouiri who we lost for 6 weeks in October – step forward Michel Morand, Mario Thimon, Theo Zidane and Gouiri’s understudy Jessim Pellissard who all rise to the occasion to ensure we remain in second place at the end of 2028.
Barcelona. Manchester City. Seriously. Even if there was no Super League, believe me nothing has changed in 2028 and these two continue to dominate their domestic leagues with both having won multiple titles since we started this save. Even if we can overcome Zenit and pick up 3 points in Russia in the away leg, we will need a miracle to defeat a Man City side led by Mssrs. Mbappe, Rafael Leão, Bernardo Silva and Frenkie De Jong let alone the Catalan giants who boast Ilaix Moriba, Christian Pulisic, Josko Gvardiol and Vinicius Junior in their ranks.
Mind you, we nearly f*cking did it….
We got the wins we needed against Zenit along with a very unexpected victory over Barcelona and after 5 games we were level with the Catalan club on 9 points behind Man City on 12 – however a trip to the Etihad proved far beyond our means and once again we exited the competition to take a place in the Europa League knockouts, where a thumping 7-0 aggregate win over Braga was swiftly put into faded existence as Tottenham knocked us out in the Quarter Final before going on to win the competition outright. That’s Europe done for another season!
nounto accept something reluctantly but without protest
Is every season now inevitable in this save? We have continued to improve year-on-year but no matter how hard we try, PSG continue to better us in the league and the constant struggle in Europe means that there is very much a feeling of deja-vu in Angers. Are we to accept our fate as the “best of the rest” in French football and continue to go about our business while our rivals enjoy the fame and glory that comes with silverware each year?
To that we say NAY. It would be easy to roll over and accept this fate, that PSG are inevitable and that no matter how many times we try to rewrite our path, we end up with the same outcome. We have worked too hard and too long to get where we are today, and something feels slightly different this year with how our squad have elevated our performance and raised our game to a whole new level. We just beat Barcelona – anything is possible, and having been knocked out of both Europe and the Coupe de France courtesy of a penalty shoot-out defeat to Saint-Etienne, our entire focus can switch to the league where our new mission is to cause as much pain and anguish for PSG as is humanly possible. Whenever PSG concede a late equaliser, WE WILL BE THERE. Whenever PSG pick up a red injury or have a player suspended, WE WILL BE THERE. Whenever PSG drop points or even think about rotating their squad to compete on all fronts, WE WILL BE THERE. As someone once famously said:
They say life is a game of two halves and if you thought the first half of our season went well, the second half started almost identically – I mean it was almost an exact carbon copy as we stormed to 6 wins and two draws in our first 8 games before AGAIN losing to PSG to end our excellent run, however this time something was different…
Jan – March Results: Angers vs PSG
In a bizarre turn of events, for the first time in 9 seasons we see PSG taking out the proverbial bottle and very uncharacteristically starting to drop points needlessly in the second half of the season. ABSOLUTE SCENES!! Somehow with just 8 games to go we find ourselves 4 points clear that the top of the league, and all of a sudden we are leading a title race, the very fate of which lies in our own hands and this is completely unchartered territory for us lowly Les Scoistes in the West of France. What is even stranger is that normally I would be writing in depth about the heroics of individual players as has been the case in previous posts with the likes of Mathieu Cafaro, Rachid Alioui, Theo Zidane, Amine Gouiri and Mo-Ali Cho who have had some cracking individual seasons, but again we see a united team effort this time around in which the likes of Mario Thimon, Michel Morand, Pierre Roussey and Omer Beyaz all start to chip in with goal/assist contributions. Shock and uncertainty hangs in the air at Stade Raymond Kopa…do we have what it takes to keep our nerve and bring home the club’s first ever Ligue 1 title in 109 years?
Naturally enough we went on to lose our next game embarrassingly in a 1-0 home defeat to Toulouse, however PSG were also in a self-destructive mood as they lost 1-0 to Dijon, and with three games to go we had the chance to seal the title away to Saint Etienne…which we DIDN’T do as they held us to a draw, meaning that we instead welcomed Lyon to Stade Raymond Kopa knowing that anything other than a defeat would clinch the title for us..even now as I type this, I still can’t believe it came down to this after 9 seasons at the helm!
Sometimes it is just written. After we went down to a Fabio Silva goal on 10 minutes, I was fully prepared to go into our final game of the season and sweat out a manic season-finale away to Nantes. Thankfully the Angers players didn’t agree with me, with Amine Gouiri equalising in the 77th minute meaning we looked set to scrape ourselves to a draw and thus a league title accordingly. Mario Thimon decided that wasn’t enough however, and with the last kick of the game he smashed home a 93rd minute winner to send the Angers faithful into absolute ruptures never seen before in Western France. WE HAVE WON THE LEAGUE, I SAY WE HAVE WON THE LEAGUE!!
It’s hard to say whether we won the league or whether PSG lost it by dropping so many points, however not a single Angers fan will care as we lift the Ligue 1 trophy for the first time in our history. A team of French only players winning Ligue 1 against the elite powerhouses of PSG and Lyon can only be a good thing for French football, as is having another team added to the list of Ligue 1 past winners, the like of which hasn’t been seen since Montpellier unexpectedly lifted the trophy all the way back in 2012. An outrageous end to an outrageous season and I’m sorry to say, it’s also the end of our save adventure here at Angers – after 9 seasons and 16 blog posts we will be calling it a day here at Les Scoistes knowing full well that we will never look back in anger at our time here. While we didn’t completely achieve all of our goals (selling a Newgen for €100m was definitely a bit too ambitious), we definitely succeeded in meeting most of our other objectives in sticking to the homegrown rules and elevating the club to the peak of French and European football, and in true French fashion (see Eric Cantona’s retirement in 1997) we leave the club very much on a high having brought them from being unranked all the way to 25th in the European club coefficients. Most importantly – we leave the club having etched our name into the history books for generations of Angers fans, players and staff to come:
HOWEVER..as mentioned earlier and in several previous posts/discussions about this save, we do have one piece of unfinished business before we completely bid farewell to this save universe, which presents itself in true FM fashion:
We had said along that we wanted to see an Angers player feature for France at a World Cup, and with World Cup 2030 on the horizon we are given the perfect opportunity to do so:
When one door closes another one opens – one last hurrah, we will attempt to bring France to World Cup 2030 and see how many of our Angers side will still be there a year down the line when we go to select our 23 man squad for the finals in Spain (assuming we qualify of course!). If you were here solely for the Angers adventure and the completely irrelevant Oasis track titles then you have permission to leave now – I thank each and everyone of you that has read, followed, liked, shared, retweeted or interacted with this series at any point, definitely my favourite ever FM series to date and I am grateful to anyone who reads and interacts with any of my Football Manager ramblings, either silently or out loud! Having started this save back in November 2020 when the FM21 was just released, I hope I have done it justice and I look forward to bringing you a brand new save very soon as we reach the halfway point of the FM21 cycle. Of course, if you would like one more splurge of content from this save universe, I will have a new post out tomorrow where we have documented our World Cup 2030 adventure with the France national team. Just how many Angers players can and should we bring? 😄
Thanks again, hopefully by the time we meet again for my next save the world have continued along the path to normality – until then, stay safe!
As always feel free to leave any comments or questions below, hit that Follow button and if you want to chat further you can always catch me on Twitter , Slack or Discord. You can also get more involved in the FM community by checking out @WeStreamFM on Twitter and Discord as well as some excellent FM content on WeStreamFM.com.