Welcome to my very first update on the save game I’ve been playing since late last year. I started my career at Wolves in the 2012/13 season, in a bid to make them the dominant force in European football. I eventually achieved this goal in 2019 when I beat Manchester United on penalties in an enthralling matchup. Throughout the early ’20s I then dominated English football and one the Champions League twice more.
But I needed a new challenge. I originally thought that challenge lay in London, with Arsenal. They had a talented squad with an incredibly potent attacking line, but it wasn’t my squad. I wanted something more.
So I had a scour around. I wanted to make sure my next job was something I was going to stick with. The only pre-requisites for the job was that it had to be abroad and it had to be a team and a club I could build. I’d experienced English football with Wolves and Arsenal and something different was needed – Italy and France were my preferred destinations.
And then I found the club I wanted to build into the next powerhouse of French football – LEMANS FC. There were a number of reasons I decided to pick it over numerous other contenders. For one, it fulfilled the conditions I had set out earlier – it was abroad and it was most definitely mouldable. But it was also a club I had taken notice of during my time as Wolves manager. There were two players, Arthur Huet (now at Real Madrid) and Christian Zimmer (now at Tottenham), that came from the LEMANS academy. I was amazed to see such top quality players come from a team that regularly finished mid-table in Ligue 2. I then read more and discovered the likes of Didier Drogba also came from the academy. LEMANS have always been a developing club – their transfer record fee is just over £4m whilst the record fee received is over £15m for the aforementioned Arthur Huet.
Then came my analysis of the club and squad itself when choosing to manage. I resigned as manager of Arsenal after we were knocked out of the Champions League in April 2026. I then holidayed two seasons, having decided I wanted something different. By the time I had achieved greatness with LEMANS or whoever my new club was, I wanted it to be a clean slate at the top. I didn’t want my Wolves players lurking around. Sure, they may still be at the latter end of their careers but they certainly won’t be at their peaks. The first thing I noticed in my analysis of the players was how many young talents their were at the club. The first team had three 16 year olds, four 17 year olds and two 18 year olds; a number of which had made a number of appearances already. I knew these were guys I could mould. Another thing I immediately noticed was the fact I could operate with an Inverse Wingback (I’ve even got the option to play an Inverse Wingback from right-back OR left-back). Since using Nicolas Dalmolin at Wolves, I’ve been unable to go without and I can’t help but feel the absence of one at Arsenal contributed to my unhappy and unsuccessful time there.
But now onto the important stuff. This is a fairly large update as I’d like to show you the changes I make on day one at a new club, as well as linking in with my career updates at LEMANS FC. Here goes…
The first thing I wanted to do as the new LEMANS FC manager was to see what I had to work with off the pitch. This included everything from budgets to records to staff. And seeing that the club was in a bit of a difficult situation financially was an important thing to realise early on. This first season at LEMANS was going to be all about combining cost-cutting with success and promotion to Ligue 1 as soon as possible.
It’s a fact that the player wage budgets and staff wage budgets are separate. But if a club are struggling financially then it’s always a good idea to get rid of the deadweight staff – you know, the scouts with 10 Judging Player Ability. At a new club you can always get staff to mutually terminate their contracts. And whilst this can often result in lump fees in the short-term, it will almost always save you money in the long-run. I was immediately able to get rid of three members of staff who were going to be practically useless to me. Another nice thing I noticed whilst doing this was that my Reserves Manager was none other than former PSG centre-back Mamadou Sakho. Nice to have.
Aside from this, there were very few changes I had to make to get the club into shape. If you take over a club you believe you can get promoted very quickly then I feel it’s better to make mass changes once you’ve been promoted, in order to attract a higher quality of staff and players. I’ll ask the board if they’d be kind enough to improve the facilities, though. And a budget increase would be nice as we currently start with £0 transfer budget, and a wage budget £30k lower than we’re currently using.
Of course, the key to building a successful club is always the team and squad. So that’s where I’ll be focusing the majority of my attention. The place to start is with the players I’ve got, and that’s what I’ll do this time. It’s also worth keeping in mind that I’ll need to get rid of a few players in order to get below the wage budget, but that should be a problem due to the strong youth system. As you can see from the screenshots below, there’s a lot of potential in the squad.
The next stage is always a bit difficult because you come out with a chicken and egg scenario. You’ve got to build the tactic around the players around the tactic. I always look at the players I’ve already got at my disposal and then try to find three very different tactics that they can fit into. I always like to have at least one formation with three men at the back, and at least one formation with three men in centre midfield. With that in mind, I went with a 3-5-2 (with a CAM as the additional midfield man), an asymmetric 4-2-3-1 and a standard 4-4-2. All of these formations are very different but can also be altered depending on the match situation.
Once you’ve got your tactics in mind, you need to think about the players that are going to fit into them. I like to create a player chart much like the one below:
From building a player chart like that it’s always easy to tell what positions you need. I’ve also deliberately excluded some players that I don’t feel are worth their wages, because obviously we’ve got to cut costs. For example, we just can’t afford to pay a keeper £10k a week to sit on the bench at this level so he’s been excluded completely. The specific areas I need to work on are finding proper wide-midfielders for a 3-4-3 or a 4-4-2, as well as a proper DLF for when I play two up front.
This update has been long enough already so I’ll bring you another one during pre-season. Au revoir.