“It’s better to burn out than to fade away.”
“An 8k fucking transfer budget?!!!!!”
So it finally happened, I had to bite the bullet and let my 17-assists-a-season-buddy Neymar go in possibly one of the saddest moments I’ve had in any edition. Saying that, I did make 350k (all profit) off him so fair dos and he goes with our blessing to Rostov, wherever the hell that is. Also it was becoming a bit of a pain in the arse getting his zimmer in and out of the coach, so y’know, every cloud an that ..
Neymar aside, those of you that know me well through FM, who have followed either my thousands of posts on twitter or have read this blog or my audioblogs, know that I am a very obsessive person, namely (like many of us) I live, eat and breathe a save.
But even for me with my 456 hrs as of Jan 18th there comes a point in every save when it’s time has run, when I am either completely bored with it or feel I can’t squeeze one more ounce of life from it and sadly, dear readers, I think we might be almost there with my beloved SM Caen 😦
That said let’s see how I came to this feeling ..
1: A season to remember and an 8k tipping Point
If you recall, back in La Libération de Caen #9: Le Great Escape I outlined my successful efforts to save my job after a horrendous roller coaster through the board approval ratings.
This despite overachieving in EVERY year of the save this far, lifting a relegated Ligue 2 club immediately back to the top flight and maintaining a top 7 position ever since. In fact, we did more than that and have finished in the top 5 for the last 4 seasons and qualified for Europe each time. Effectively, in terms of status, situation, stadium capacity and reputation, we have taken the equivalent of Huddersfield into Europe.
But what do I get in return? The board pissing away money to the extent that once more I get this nonsense ..
In addition, and this is the bit that I find the most frustrating, despite going on a 28 game unbeaten run, finishing 4th, reaching the ‘qualify for Europa’ target; getting out of our Europa group (when the board target was just to be competitive) AND spending just 2.4 mil on transfers with 12.75 mil going out I STILL GET THIS! ..
The result being that yet again I begin the season with a low transfer budget just two steps away from the sack again.
So what to do? Resisting the urge from every single sinew in my being that was screaming out at me to just walk away, I have decided to give it one more season (at least) with the aim to do at least one of these things (chances and factors in brackets):
A) Get to the Coupe De France final
(CHANCE: 10%, given we’ve faced PSG in the early rounds in 5 of the last 7 years!)
B) Win the Europa League
(CHANCE: 20% I fancy our chances if we get a good draw. We’ve qualified from the group easily in the last two campaigns)
C) Get taken over as a club
(CHANCE: 10% this is the dream and we have had lots of hints over the years. Sadly though it seems the banks are happy with us losing 30mil a year so it may not happen)
D) Beat PSG (just once)!
(CHANCE: 20% we’ve started to come close with our first draw and are no longer on the end of 5 nil drubbings so who knows?)
So in essence, to get taken over halfway through the year and to beat PSG in the finals of both the Coupe Dr France and the Europa League would be ideal!
2: 85 million rays of hope?
So what to do? Well firstly it’s worth mentioning that I knew right through the season that this was coming, given that month-on-month the finances were dropping faster than a group of Barcelona players hit by a water bottle. With that in mind, I had already started to shortlist a bunch of top players and prospects on frees and snatched them as soon as I could ..
Particular highlights are Efrain Alvarez and Adrien Bongiovanni, both excellent all round AMCs ..
As well as two lovely strikers in the shape of Jak Godfrey and Pascal Assouiki ..
In addition the others are tasty too, albeit that they are mainly 3.5/4 star PA youth prospects whom I got specifically to either sell on or loan out on fee paying loans. And that takes us to the next bit, out little stockpile that is building nicely (the ones entitled ‘NEW’ are some of this current batch) ..
However as you can see they are mostly nowhere near Ligue 1 standard atm, leaving me with the following state of play going into the 28-29 season – talk about a game of two halves!! It is clear where the problem lies as even if I was able to renew the 3 defenders who have just returned to their parent clubs we seriously need some signings in those areas. Also it didn’t help that my cover keeper was wantaway and has buggered off to Turkey meaning I have literally one keeper in the whole club, incl reserves and youth! Thank God he is the incredible Allesandro Plizzari, my player of the season last year ..
All this said, and given I will no doubt fill those slots albeit not with high quality players, it leads me into reconsidering the use of the trusty 442 that took us so far this season. I mean, can this translate to this new top heavy squad? The answer I think is yes as the front half will bring quality to any formation but what a waste to drag those attacking midfielders back to the halfway line! That said, we need to change tactic to suit ..
3: A new tactic to fit them all?
Again if you know me you do know I like a good tactics discussion so this is what we started with on twitter ..
After which I got into a cracking DM discussion with my good pal Adam aka @FMstagg, who is an absolute tactics wizard and it resulted in this as a starting point plus some excellent graphics he did for me showing it in both it’s attacking and defensive phases:
So how does it play? Well as correctly predicted by Adam it works very well in defence with a nice straight back 5
.. and pushes up really well in attack ..
As always there is work to do but early signs are very encouraging with a clean sweep of away friendly wins on a US pre season tour, looking like this in play, first with the build up from the back ..
.. and then the goal ..
Now all I need to get is some bloody defenders to fill the bugger out!!
4: In summary aka we crack on (for now)
So there you go, a blog that started with some bad vibes has ended with a new hope going forward. Seriously though, this could be it, the final year at Caen, given that it feels LIKE A REAL FUCKING JOB just to keep it going 🙂
Bye for now and thanks for reading,
Daz aka @fmheathen everywhere