La Libération de Caen #7: a perfect storm?

“The farthest Thunder that I heard
Was nearer than the Sky
And rumbles still, though torrid Noons
Have lain their missiles by  ..”

Emily Dickinson

Well hello there dear followers, it has been a while! Two seasons to be precise so let’s have a catch up.

If you hark back to the start of this save back in La Libération de Caen #1: Establishing a Beachhead you may remember that my inspiration was taken from SM Caen’s unique geographic position as being the closest professional club to the Normandy landing beaches that were central to the incredible WW2 D-Day story that led ultimately to freedom from Nazi oppression. In addition, what it less known is that just a week into the invasion a terrible storm began that threatened to throw the allies back into the sea from whence they had came. This storm destroyed key supply installations including a man-made harbour called the ‘Mulberry Harbour’ and for a few days made it extremely difficult for the allies to advance or for any real fighting to take place. But endure it they did and of course we all know the outcome. In fact, the structure was so large that you can still the remains of it today on google maps ..

Image result for mulberry harbour storm 19th june
The Mulberry Harbour being destroyed on the 19th June 1944

That said, while I hasten to add the disclaimer that this is all about a fictional game that is no way as serious or even remotely life-threatening as the events of June 6th 1944 or the storm, I feel it’s a suitable analogy for the recent turmoil I have experienced at the end of this, my 6th Season in charge at Stade Maherbe Caen, a club that I have absolutely fell in love with from some weird sadomasochistic reason due to the sheer amount of problems she throws at me on a daily basis. Talk about a love hate relationship, this save is the absolute definition of it.

1: THE WATERS RISE, a European (mis)adventure

It all started with this, an incredible run of results at the end of our 22-23 season that unbelievably gave us 3rd spot in Ligue 1 and qualification at least three years ahead of schedule for the Champions League, which I was very happy with but which as a team I knew we were extremely unprepared for ..

Image

To compound these terrors, this is what happened next, not so much the group of death but the group of total annihilation ..

So what to do? Well firstly the board were as tight-assed as ever and decided to give me an 800k transfer budget literally the day after we received the notification that we were about to get 15 mil from playing in the Champions League. The budget was later increased on request to 13 mil but not until October when the campaign and our total capitulation was well underway, crashing and burning our way towards just a single goal in the whole campaign..

In addition, it absolutely destroyed our league form meaning my board approval rating plummeted to disappointed by the end of the year leaving me in fear of the sack for the first time in the save ..

Thankfully by January we had rallied a little with 8 league wins and 4 draws from the remaining fixtures to leave us on ‘satisfied’ with the board and in 7th place by the end of the campaign, phew!!

But hey, this is a long term save so I was soooooo pleased that we managed to get a new stadium out of the money – it’s just a shame it is going to take 3 years to build!

2: STEADYING THE SHIP, with some sexy signings

The year after that horrific brutalisation of our Champions League virginity I wanted no drama whatsoever but just wanted to meander along to our rightful 6th or 7th place, ideally with Europa or EC2 qualification. With that in mind (and also with extremely rocky finances yet again) we did some very astute business in the summer window, sending 30mil out with some very tasty fee paying loans and bringing in 11.5 mil worth of decent frees and lovely renewed loans:

Particular highlights were Davide Zappacosta at RB, who still absolutely had it at the age of 33, brought in in January to cover for the eye-wateringly dire Kieran Trippier whom I had bought in back in July (BTW this pic is from now, 18 months later)..

.. and of course Pedri, Mejbri, and Kouassi who had all been renewed for another year. On a side note, sell your mother, your grandmother, the dog and next door’s hamster to get Hannibal Mejbri, who is outrageously good in FM20, even if he does need a haircut .

So far so good then and by the end of a meandering (some would say mediocre) autumn campaign of draws and the odd win we were looking good for a mid table finish. If only the board saw it that way though 😦

3: MAN OVERBOARD? “Come in and close the door” the Chairman said

To say that I was expecting this summons from Fabrice Clement, our Chairman, was an understatement. For two years since the start of the UCL debacle we had been gradually declining through the tiers of the board approval until we had been firmly stuck on the rock bottom for the last month.

With me fearing either the straight sack or even the dreaded points target I sauntered in with my head bowed absolutely bricking it.

In the event it wasn’t as worse as I had feared and as it was a year ago in game I think it went something like this (sorry that a) I don’t have the exact screen caps and b) I may have paraphrased):

Fabrice Clement: your performance for the last year has been, how shall we say, un peu de merde. What have you to say for yourself?

Me: The other teams have just been better (and you’ve asked me to compete in the UCL with a squad made of half Ligue 1/Ligue 2 talent, 6 kids, some aging ex-elite players and Kieren Trippier), I’m sorry can I have another chance?

Fabrice Clement: Oh go on then, we don’t want to fall out with you.

And that was that! How the hell I got away with I have no idea but I took it anyway, rallied with 5 wins out of 6 and saved the job!

In the end this resulted in us grabbing a lovely 6th place with a final win of the season, securing a Europa 2 slot (no, I didn’t know about it either) until FUCKING TOULOUSE won a Europa slot in the Coupe De France, everyone bumped up and I lost the slot!

Did I say it was FUCKING TOULOUSE? A team who were crap all season, that have done nothing for 5 years except sneak 1 nil wins from us and then steal my glory with a stuffy Cup win? Well it was, the stuffy bastards. Which made it all the more fun when I did this the first time we met the game after 🙂

4: and finally .. A CALMER SEA?

So this is where our 7th season in the division sees us in December after 15 games, we’ve rallied so all looking good.

The boys are all happy, the board are pleased (just!) so fingers crossed we can hang on in there! Happy days indeed until the next time I get the call to the office, which I suspect will come as soon as I lose more than a handful of games ffs as the satisfaction level drops every time I do!

Thanks for reading, best wishes and a happy new year,

Until next time,

Daz aka @fmheathen, everywhere

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