La Libération de Caen #5: hubris, man

Pride is the mother of arrogance.
― Toba Beta, My Ancestor Was an Ancient Astronaut

FFS you thick bastards, just shoot!!!!!!
FMheathen, Ligue 1, vs Auxerre, 29th August 2021

Talk about a rollercoaster, the number of times that FM builds us up and drops us from a great height is incredible and I guess one of the main reasons why we play the game. This was my tweet from this same hour, (my Sunday am blog writing slot), just 7 days ago. God I was so chuffed with me lickle self 🙂

But fast forward to yesterday and here we were after finishing an incredible 7th in our (save debut) Ligue 1 season, unable to buy a win whatever we did:

In short, we were lacking the desire, creativity and cohesion that we had enjoyed in that final run-in, which included a miraculous 1-1 draw away to Monaco, which was featured here on my audioblog.

So how did we manage that? How was it possible that we were able to propel a group of Ligue 1 wannabees (with Ligue 2 skillsets) towards glory amongst the yachts, caviar and pissed up champagne decadence that resides in the bay below the pink castle?

The truth is, as featured in my last blog La Libération de Caen #4: The Prep Effect, it was more than a lot to do with my obsessive preparation method this year utilising my new preparation spreadsheet, which when it works (it doesn’t always) is just soooooooo damn satisfying. If anyone wants the link to download a blank copy by the way, then you can do that here: Spreadsheet link.

At the risk of repeating myself from that blog, it allows me to prep as far in advance as I like for the game(s) to come, taking into account the usual key elements such as fitness, scouting reports, opposition form and of course, resulting actions to take when going into the game. Here’s a little snaphot so you can see what I mean (click to enlarge):

As I said, it’s not always perfect but as well as doing well in the league I think another measure of its success is how we were at the predicted points total two games in advance of where I thought we would be.

However, that was then and this is now (for this read yesterday), when I was on the back of that horrific run of form that had seen us drop 12 points in 4 games, which despite all it’s previous usefulness the sheet had predicted as 7.

So what to do? It was time to go back to the drawing board and see where we were going wrong, which I soon realised was down to one thing, being a right impatient bastard.

You are one impatient mother****er!
FMheathen’s internal voice, 29th August 2021

So at the end of that season during the usual squad review one thing was plain to see and that was that we were all about long term potential and still around two years from where I wanted to be, for this see this CA and PA comparison:

Of course I could have rode it out, accepted another mid-table finish and waited till they were ready but patience has never been my strong point 😦 We were also a young squad who lacked leadership, so with this in mind I targeted these transfer profiles:

  1. AT LEAST TWO PLAYERS WHO WERE OVER 23 – we were a bit hamstrung by the club vision here to sign young players U23 but you can only have so many and we desperately needed older players. Also I already had 4 more youngsters I’d bought earlier in the season ready to arrive at the door come July, so enough was enough!.
  2. CURRENT LIGUE 1 STANDARD PLAYERS – I literally only had one at the season end. NOTE that this could override the age thing if they were young and good enough.
  3. PLAYERS TO CREATE CHANCES FROM KEY POSITIONS – for this read at least one or two new WBs, a striker and a creative midfielder

The result then was that I signed 5 players, all at either Ligue 1 standard or just on the very cusp of it and here’s the best 3 of them:

Pedro Porro, a utility WB on loan from City who can play anywhere with good rounded attribs:

Iago Oliveira, another well rounded creative midfielder from Liga Nos:

And for cover at the back, the slowing but dependable ex-Liverpool CD, Ragnar Klavan, to bring experience and leadership:

So … all good then? The new squad, bolstered by this injection of quality, creativity and experience would crack on and make massive improvements. Obviously, given those results the answer was sadly, no.

After some reflection I realised that their cohesion as a group was the main problem – passes were going amiss no matter how much teamwork and\or passing we did, team meetings were a disaster when they always ended up being more pissed off than when I started (or is it that just not the case with EVERY team meeting in recent years?) and all because the transfers came in too late and I threw them in too early. Like I say, I’m an impatient mother****er at times.

So what to do? Firstly we had a perfect 14 day gap so I booked a nice pub team friendly against AC Amiens which we won 2 nil. I then turned back to the prep sheet, even though it had seriously let me down in the last few games: Although I suspected it anyway, this helped me to focus on the cohesion problem and how to deal with it with just a 3 day gap between the last two fixtures. In the end we managed two good wins before stumbling to a frustrating 0-0 draw as both teams were dying from fatigue.

So in the end it wasn’t rocket science, just me wanting too much way too soon. Should have eased the new players in, defo and a schoolboy error.

So this is how we have ended up, talk about a case of before and after! We are also now 14th in the league out of the relegation zone so all good so far for the revival.

Oh, and one more thing before I go, a little update on the hero of Monaco, the boy Legendre, who got a goal against Strasbourg in the 7th minute, had a 90% pass rate in the game and created 2 more chances – what a little star he is, so looking forward to (gradually) easing him to the side this year 🙂

So that’s it for this week’s edition, many thanks for reading and I hope to see you here again soon.

Best wishes, watch out for the pride,

Daz aka @FMheathen everywhere

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