Welcome to the second update of my Le Mans career. For those of you that follow the blog, you’ll know that it’s been a while since I began the career, but other things have gotten in the way. Even with my customary routine of playing the first season at a new club without any in-depth analysis, it’s still taken me a while to actually get it done. But there you go.
And in my first season, we finished just outside the promotion places of Ligue 2, in 5th place. Whilst I’m more than happy to spend another season in Ligue 2 in order to develop the talented youngsters we have, the club’s accountants and directors aren’t nearly as content. Whilst we had a transfer budget of £2m and wage budget of £200k p/w last season, the board have dropped this to £200k transfer budget and £175k wage budget. Considering we were already spending over the previous wage budget, at £205k, it’s going to be extremely difficult to not only cut back, but also maintain a necessary title challenge.
However, as always, the first season is always done quickly and efficiently. Its main role is to make my life easier in the second season where I really begin to make my mark on a save. If you’re ever having trouble getting into a save, I like to do this, as you become attached to the players and involved with the club despite the minimal input of effort. If you really don’t fancy it then you can even holiday games and act as a Director of Football in your first season.
However, one thing I was able to notice during the first season was the lack of height we had in our defensive unit. As well as the players being small, they were also not talented jumpers either. So I immediately went out looking for a player that would be cheap, young, and massive to play at CB. And I found big Jorge Palacios…
Despite originally signing as a squad player, Palacios shone. He got a 7.9 in his first ever professional game, and hasn’t looked back since. Despite being young, he’s racked up the tackles, interceptions and particularly headers as he towers over everyone in Ligue 2. He eventually won Fans’ Player of the Year. I think this is a great example of identifying a weakness in your squad, correcting it, and the excellent results this can entail.
There were a few other signings I made, too (full list here). In order to buff up the Under 19s and provide potential for the future were Holger Petersen, Bernd Fiordellisi and Rogerio Candido. Candido in particular will be utilised by the first team next season – he gives us the option to play with a libero in a 3-4-3 or 3-5-2. Fiordellsi will find opportunities hard to come by this season, as will Petersen as the talented Khaled Ben Sassi looks to break into the first team ahead of him.
For the first-team, I signed Washington Luis, Leandro Romano and Eugenio Godoy. All three enjoy playing in behind the striker in a 4-2-3-1, although Washington is more of an out-and-out left-winger. Romano is also capable of playing as the main striker himself. All proved successful, and a particular highlight is Washington Luis gaining his French citizenship during the season, meaning he no longer counts as a foreign player. This allows us to register Rogerio Candido for the new season. Godoy already looks like a really good player, and my assistant suggests that he’d be a decent player for most Ligue 1 sides – he’ll play a big part in the side next season.
As for the season itself, it wasn’t overly successful. Well, I wasn’t really expecting it to be. As I said, I whizz through the first season. And I wasn’t particularly bothered about whether or not we got promoted, but the finances have begun to deteriorate which means we really need to step up this season and hopefully win the league, despite the much reduced budgets.
Player performance-wise, there were a few standout individuals. Firstly, there was the aforementioned towering centre-back, Jorge Palacios. He formed a fearsome defensive duo with Silvio Loseille – a partnership which will remain into the new season, and will be joined by Rogerio Candidio if we adopt three at the back at some point. Whilst Palacios wins a large number of the aerial duels, Loseille is more able when the ball is on the floor, with superior tackling, marking, and positioning. Between the two, all forms of attack are covered.
Another top performer was Christophe Mbele, who floats in behind the striker, either in the centre or on the right. Despite his poor finishing (7), he was still able to get himself into enough reasonable situations to end the season with an impressive 10 league goals. His immense dribbling (18) terrorised defences and he often provided a spark of magic to break the deadlock in tricky games. However, he’s the best paid player at the club at £23k per week – and now the wage budget has been lowered so dramatically, he may be a luxury we can no longer afford at 13% of our total wage budget. However, one of my main aims is to create a core of players that come from Le Mans, and despite playing for the DR of Congo national team, he was in fact born in Le Mans. So I’ll do everything I can to keep him.
The other two stars of the show were also part of the front four, in Leandro Romano and Jesus Guzman. Guzman in particular carried the team at times, and I like to think of him as the Ligue 2 Higuain due to his goal-scoring ability. However, much like Christophe Mbele, Guzman is one of the top earners at the club, and has a very valuable £6.25m value. Selling him on would generate some much needed income.
There’s certainly some tricky decisions to be made this Summer. I’ll have another, hopefully more interesting and detailed, update to come in the next few days which will cover my Summer transfer dealings. Until then, Au revoir.
I’d also love to hear your thoughts on the deals you’d like to see me make over the Summer. Would you get rid of Guzman or Mbele? Or perhaps even Leandro Romano? Further information about the save will be answered, either via comment on the blog or on twitter @MrEdsFM.