Lots of fluff but please scroll down to the tactics section if you don't enjoy the narrative.
I took over at Les Dogues in the winter of 2023, it was quite a big step up for me and it posed a significant number of challenges. First of all the club was on course to spend 140 million that year and the club incomes including player sales was set to be almost 90. Second of all the 10 million euro striker signing Hilaire N'Doram
scored 1 goal in 25 appearances. Third of all the team was one point into the relegation zone with 13 games left to play.
The upside? This team was solid. Very solid. It is a mystery to me how poorly they fared under the previous head coach. While that striker was by no means champions league winning quality surely he was better than a 0.04 strike rate. Noteable standouts included then-prospect Axel Moreau
he went from a snot nosed teenage to a snot nosed twentysomething wanting to leave for continental football. The swiss miss 5'6" string-puller Blaise Scherrer
. And a pair of frightening looking wingers Simon Obi
and Aad Boogers
So i switched my formation between a 442 and a 4411 working with an couple of lackluster AMC/Striker options to pair with Hilaire. Hilaire went on a scoring streak scoring 12 in the last 13 games. It was enough to crawl out of relegation and make a convincing run up to 13th.
My first full season in charge improved the final league position to 10th but it did see the departure of Hilaire to Wolfsburg in the winter transfer window for a final sum of 32 million euros (5.5 of which was from a goal bonus triggered not-immediately as well as an appearance bonus if 5.5 triggered-not immediately). This helped alleviate some financial troubles but it still left us in a sizeable deficit (i got a lowered wage budget and zero transfer funds other than the 40% or so retained from player sales at the beginning of the season). The squad did complain about selling our star player but hometown hero Gervais Endzanga
who grew up a few blocks from the stadium despite declaring for the Congo. Was able to link up with crosses from player of the year "Mr Boogers" and the signing of the season Roma's transfer listed Brazillian Matheus dos Anjos
a poor man's Roberto Firmino but I am a poor man so at a price tag of 800,000 euros who am I to complain.
The summer window after our improvement to 10th sort of went past in a panic attack. Matheus was only accomplished at striker (finally hit natural recently) and after selling Hilaire it left me with two first team players for two striker positions (amc+stk or stk+stk) yes the swiss miss could have played AMC but he was such a beast in the DLP-D role out of the midfield i just went with it and played Geravis and MdA every single game thank the Pysios neither got injured. I digress... that summer saw me bring in FOUR yes FOUR strikers. This pushed Geravis down to backup and really MdA was undroppable at this point so four new strikers to compete for one spot.
One of the strikers was Portuguese wonderkid Daniel Faisca
on a free transfer from perennial relegation candidate Estoril who was as good as he looks absolutely shattering the club goalscoring record with 27 goals in the league from 34 appearances including 7 goals in his first three games. So that left 4 strikers on their butts waiting for substitute appearances and starts in cup games.
The Portuguese kid led us to 8th place. Depressing because after 8 wins from the first 8 games the entire league started parking the bus against me which left zero space for my extremely fast team to run into. I watched us slowly drop out of champions league places then drop out of europa league places down to 8th our only chance for european competition and a hope of keeping a couple of the stars clamoring for continental football we managed to lose the French Cup Final to Jose Mourinho's PSG for a second year in a row (minute 118 of ETi wanted to vomit in real life).
Anyway Chelsea came in and snatched Daniel for a club record shattering 60M Euros and I sold all of the other strikers (except for faithful geravis and MdA) as they didn't play and asked to leave bringing in a more reasonable two for the current season..
Scherrer also left for english football joining arsenal for 25 million euros just to play poorly as an occasional substitute.
Then i made the mistake of trying to keep Hometown kid Axel Moreau. I could have sold him for 60 million euros after he asked to leave for a bigger club. I should have promised him champions league just to get another season out of him Well we had a falling out and he may or may not have ended up training with the U19s for a couple months.
On top of that Boogers decided he wanted to be incredibly injury prone (my head physio retired after 25 years so i blame it on that) my Beast from Deutschland that came for free from Bayern who scored 4 on his debut broke his foot in the 8th game of the season Cristoph Muller
no relation to Thomas. The OTHER striker I brought in Alessandro "the fuzz" Mazzafera
couldn't score if he went to a party as Bill Cosby's wing man. And panic buy Cesar Padilla
hasn't had the time to adjust to life in France after leaving Boca for 4.1 million euros.
I find myself floundering in 10th after 17 games and I feel like the club has taken a huge step back. They are now financially secure but there are no youth prospects that are super exciting and while finances may be stable they don't leave me with enough resources to buy players who will actually improve the team. Daniel Fascia was a once in a save find and i can't count on picking up the next Neymar on a free every season.
My idea: Fast, defensively solid 442 with attack minded fullbacks and aggressive wingers whipping in low crosses. Simple attractive football exploiting the space left behind by holding a deeper line and encouraging the opponent to play in my half.
The implementation- Mentality Standard, Team Shape Fluid, 2 TI - Drop Deeper, Play Wider. Formation
*My team isn't that fast anymore? We sort of lost our identity selling Scherrer and replacing him with a slower option. My second choice striker "the fuzz" isn't actually that fast and geravis is an outstanding backup but 12 finishing 13 off the ball 9 technique really is only made up for the fact that he is a zeus like physical specimen with a 16 work rate and 16 determination. Boogers is hurt and his replacement
just can't put in the 16/16 flaicrossing magical balls to be plucked out of the sky.
*My defense is insanely leaky. Teams who have scored 6 goals all season will draw with me 1-1. My Defender Options
- We can't outscore them and we can't prevent ourselves from conceding
I may be a bit jaded on the save with the team so maybe it is time to move on but my contract runs an entire other full season and I thought i could push this group at least into a europa league place after this many years. The winter window is opening in a month and I have 12 million Euros to spend (potentially more if I ask the board). Help me Reddit-Wan-Kenobi you are my only hope.
What do I change? Where do I go? Who do I buy? I need results now and the future is uncertain (youth intake has been abysmal just unlucky as facilities and coaching for the kids are amazing. I have 3 points from my last six games and that is unsustainable to keep my job much less sneak into 6th for a europa league spot.