Welcome back to the Three Season Challenge with LOSC Lille. We’ve entered November 2019 and are performing above what everyone (including myself) would expect. As it’s a new month, we’ll have a quick review of where we are in our competitions, how our players are developing, and how they’re performing in the competitions. If you missed the last instalment, check it out below:
New month therefore we’ll have a quick run through of where we’re at in the league, how our players are performing and then how our team and youth academy is developing.
We’re 11 games into the season, closing on 1/3rd the way through the season. You can see the likes of Marseille are dominating the league only dropping two points across the entire season so far. Closely followed by PSG with their one loss. We were doing very well in 3rd place, however it is worth remembering we were yet to face a lot of the big teams such as Marseille, PSG, Lyon, and Monaco. This could explain our position so far and the next few games will involve clashes with some of said names.
I tend to talk about the Champions League places a lot around the games but thought I’d give a visual update. You can see we’ve pushed and done extremely well, we’ve built up a nice cushion from which I can use to rest certain players for key games in the league. Every team is still in it at this stage though and all are similar levels of skill.
So leading the way with an astonishing 11 from 11 is Marseille’s Benedetto (worrying as they’re my next opponents in the league). Mbappe is close with 9 from the same amount of games and then our man Osimhen has started really coming into his own with a very impressive 8 goals from 9 games. We perform a lot more rotation here at Lille so it’s great to see our players still collecting accolades.
You can see Rongier is a very useful for Marseille earning 6 assists, meanwhile I think PSG’s star player Neymar must be injured having only played 4 matches this season. Still managed 5 assists from those 4 games though. Then Monconduit from Amiens who are 11th in the league comes in joint 3rd with Niang from Stade Rennais who are 12th in the league & Mbappe from PSG with 4 assists from 11 games. Our veteran Remy makes an appearance at number 7 (should be 6 due to less games) and Osimhen is there at number 15 with the same stats to boast.
The clean sheets are again lead with PSG, despite having that loss their defence has been consistently solid it appears. Marseille’s keeper comes 2nd with 7 clean sheets from 1 less match and then Lopes of Lyon, Rulli of Montpellier, and our player Maignan of Lille make up joint third with 5 clean sheets in 11 matches.
Looking to Europe, Lewandowski is setting the tone from the German giants Munich with 5 goals from 3 matches. Then Messi and Alli are in joint 2nd with 4 from 3. Remy should be in 4th place with 3 goals from 2 games! Then Osimhen would make up a large amount of players in joint 5th with 3 goals from 3 games.
In joint first are four players Pjanic from Juventus, Morata from Atletico, and their our players Renato Sanches and bench player Araujo with 3 assists from 3 games each. We can also see Remy again (our veteran loves Europe it seems) with 2 assists from 2 games which would put him in 5th.
So we entered November and have seen Osimhen and Weah grow again as they now lead the way with +2 growth; 80 and 71 rated respectively. Bradaric had also grown to 74 rated (not shown on picture) and has now earnt his spot back in the starting XI.
Youth Academy Update:
|Thierry Konate||GK||16||63||74-94 (R20)||£625k||Ivory Coast|
|Stephane Pinot||CB||17||55||60-70 (R10)||£100k||France|
|Werner Stockli||CB||17||54||62-82 (R20)||£110k||Switzerland|
|Hugo Martin||RB||16||59||81-94 (R13)||£275k||Belgium|
|Alexandre Ferrier||LB||16||56||62-80 (R18)||£150k||France|
|Romain Maes||CM||15||53||71-83 (R12)||£120k||Belgium|
|Yves Diallo||CM||17||51||55-69 (R14)||£45k||Ivory Coast|
|Mathis Vandenbroeck||RM||15||54||62-80 (R18)||£120k||Belgium|
|Frank Soro||LM||16||54||67-83 (R16)||£130k||Ivory Coast|
|Xavier Courbet||ST||15||48||76-90 (R14)||£70k||France|
|Matthieu Garnier||ST||16||44||49-59 (R10)||£40k||France|
|Alain Camara||SUB CB||15||47||63-73 (R10)||£50k||Ivory Coast|
|Antoine Cartier||SUB RB/LB||16||47||52-66 (R14)||£40k||France|
|Cedric Paillard||SUB CM||16||46||76-90 (R14)||£70k||France|
|Cedric Moreau||SUB RM/LM||15||48||72-88 (R16)||£70k||France|
Removed Ouatarra the sub GK due to realising actual youth academy size available
At this point I had the realisation that the youth squad can only have 16 players. So that’s 11 starting team positions and then 5 subs. I can’t have a GK, Wide DEF, Central DEF, Wide Mid, Central Mid, and ATT subs. I decided to remove the GK sub as in theory I won’t want loads of GK’s in my ranks and they can be cheesy in terms of gaining money quickly. They’re also easier to filter off when doing the scouting reports.
You’ll notice a lot of the previously bold players are now no longer bold. On top of that, something I didn’t realise could happen, lots of minimum potentials actually fell too. E.g. they previously had a minimum potential of 76 but now their lowest potential is 72! I Still need to sign a SUB ST, I did manage to find a Swiss CB called Werner Stockli who joins the ranks as a starting youth team player. Thierry Konate is looking great, he has grown again to 63 overall now at 16 with 74-94 potential and an increased value of £625k. Hugo Martin has also now reached “showing great potential” which helps me massively when it comes to January as he’s exactly the type of player I’d be looking to buy externally for a third choice RB. I’ll keep him in our academy for now, definitely while he’s still under 60 OVR, but if one of our RB’s gets injured I could call him up (not 100% needed as we have players that can fill in RB as a secondary position too). Ideally I’ll wait until he asks to be promoted.
So, coming up on the calendar I had:
Marseille in the league away 03/11/2019
Valencia in the Champions league at home 3 days later 06/11/2019
FC Metz in the league at home, 3rd game in 7 days 10/11/2019
Break before playing PSG in the league away on the 22nd then Ajax 4 days later on the 26th.
I’m hoping I can grab a result against Marseille, they should be tired or fielding a weakened team at this point and I’ll be able to play my strongest XI against them. The Champions League game is an opportunity to wrap the group up really but I may have to play a weakened team there for stamina purposes and rotation. Then I’ll have FC Metz which we’ll be targeting a safe win. Then a break after which we then have PSG who we’ll need to put our strongest XI out against and then similarly a weakened side for Ajax. If I mess up both the champions league games with losses I’ll still be sat on 7 points, Ajax if they won their next two would be on 12 and Valencia would be on 9. I’d be relying on Ajax to either beat or draw with Valencia (the draw would allow my GD to put me through). I’ll have to assess how important the game vs Ajax would be, if Valencia did beat me I might need to try and sub players off early against PSG so they can make the Ajax game. We’ll see how it goes.
I’ve also realised that I won’t be able to sign any of my young French strikers in the January window as I’m only allowed one signing between 16-21 in the Winter window. This would be used up by the Asian talent… Frustrating that in this Lille CM I will miss out on young player every season due to the Lille challenge goals. We still might be able to replace Remy in January though it’s looking like we’ll have to buy one of the 25 year olds, makes more sense that we can offer them that critical role.
Speaking of Asian talent, my scouts hadn’t finished in the three regions completely yet. I used the three spare scouts I had to stop supporting them and start searching the areas for all the criteria I was after, but ideally I wanted to find that young prospect.
First scouts sent to Australia, Saudi Arabia, and China. Already I have found something interesting that could be worth a look at. However, it’s not for anyone young!
In the Saudi Arabian Jameel league, 34 year old Bafetimbi Gomis plays for Al Hilal. The ex Lyon and Swansea man has a proven track record and is still 81 rated according to my scout reports. Being 34 and a ST we would actually be allowed to try and sign an 86 rated ST according to our rules! So he fits the spec perfectly. He is currently on £51k per week, which is higher than my wage cap. However, if he would be willing to come back to France with a crucial role at a Champions League club (which I feel is realistic) then I’m sure a 6% pay cut can be accepted provided we also give him some juicy bonuses to work towards. His value on FIFA is £8.5m so if I can get him anywhere between £7.65m and £8.5m I’ll take that. As a player over the age of 30 I had more freedom to negotiate a price. He’s in the last year of his contract so he’ll either sign a free at the end of the season or Al Hilal can earn some money from him. Hopefully, I can put him on either a 2 or 1 year contract. I imagine he will look to retire in the following season and definitely the season after but he’s a worthy replacement for Remy that will keep our board happy; and he’s French! He’ll help develop Osimhen and Weah further and provide them with key pieces of tactical knowledge.
Next I checked my emails and one of the coaching staff had been in touch.
Araujo had broken his rib in training and was out for 2 months. This is a pain as he is a solid replacement at 76 rated, however Ouattara can fill in for two months. This isn’t ideal as he’s only 65 rated, but it’s a chance for the prospect to get some game time.
Pre Marseille game, my stomach sinks as I see the board are in touch with me, this is never normally good at this early stage of the season:
I’ve heard of pushy boards before but this feels somewhat premature; I’m sure they’re only reminding me pre-transfer window. The objective is to sign a player in the attacking position as a crucial 1st team player. I haven’t even had a transfer window to do this in yet. . I planned to look into any purchasing options after the game, possibly see if an agreement could be reached with Al Hilal. For now I was off to Marseille.
Ligue Un Matchday 12:
Olymique Marseille vs LOSC Lille at the Orange Velodrome 03/11/2019
Hoping that tired legs of Marseille will cause issues for their players and we can capitalise when it matters; in the league not in the cup. You can see I put out my strongest XI except for Bradaric who was still feeling the previous Marseille game. With the most recent growth my team average is now at 79 (if Bradaric was fit), however I can only calculate team average at the start of each season as I like to imagine it’s an underlying reputation. I believe this isn’t stated in the rules so if you run your own version feel free to adapt it every transfer window, I think my way adds to the challenge slightly.
So looking at the Marseille squad, it was the same XI that we faced in the cup competition. Here’s hoping our main XI can fare a bit better than our 2nd team. Payet and Osimhen noted as players to watch out for. Both teams played well I felt, neither side dominated possession. Keepers looked on form which is always a good sign with saves from both early on. Marseille looked dangerous and quick passes could find a way through my back line. My play as normal felt more built up. Half time ended 0-0 but as the stats show it was by no means a bore draw.
This half was much more intense in the middle of the pitch with both sides struggling to create chances. Solid defensive work at the back from both, Marseille would typically struggle to get the ball into the box whereas I simply struggled to get shots off. In the 82nd minute, after some solid defensive play, Andre found the ball with room in front to move. He drove our attack forward shrugging off tackles from Sanson all through our half. Weah offered a run as he pulled his man out wide, Andre found the slotting pass into the back and Weah was through one on one with the keeper. He paused, took it on his weaker left foot, and the ball was hit closer to the six yard line than the goal. Dismal effort! As shown in the end the game finished 0-0. If you’d asked me pre-match would I take that I would have said absolutely away from home against undefeated Marseille. Still kind of gutted we missed out on a big 3 points there.
A cracking and tense game which ended up with a result that I would gladly take away from home. I’d be slightly craving a win if it was at Lille, but it’s important to remember Marseille are competing with the likes of PSG for the title. For now, a top 4 finish in this season should be a good result, top three would be very impressive for a club such as Lille in this league (but not unrealistic!).
Nothing too exciting happened in the few days in between the matches. I realised I wasn’t able to approach Gomis, instead I added him to the shortlist along with a few other french players that were sticking out to me. I will go through this just before we enter the transfer window.
Champions League Group Stage Match 4:
LOSC Lille vs Valencia CF at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy 06/11/2019
2nd string team as it didn’t matter completely for now. Although in terms of what would happen in real life it’s slightly unrealistic as players want to play in the Champions League. It’s important to appreciate rotation and that once we’re into the knockout rounds we will be prioritising this competition. Jardim got a game along with the (what I would call reserve) young CB’s Djalo and Agouzoul. Pied got a start and Bradaric was filling in for the tired Reinildo (I figured for now Bradaric needed some more game time and that defence was already weakened more than I’d like). Xeka and Soumare manned the centre midfield with Yazici out wide and the prospect Ouattara got a start in the Champions League! The impressive Weah played up top alongside Postolachi. For me in the future the 2nd team would be filled with players around the 72-78 rated, anything less feels a little too reserve player like. I don’t have the players yet however.
Valencia really found good passing manoeuvres when breaking into my half. I found a lot of the time if I was stifling an attack it was usually around the edge of the penalty area or out wide. But I didn’t feel Lille were in control at all during the first 45 minutes. I was hoping to keep a solid backline and try and get a goal on the counter, next thing I know Parejo hits an absolute worldy into top bins in the 18th minute. Edge of the box, a great distracting run ties up both my CB’s which gives him chance to compose himself and launch it past the poor Jardim to make it 1-0. In the 35th minute they made it 2 and I must admit I felt quite hard done by. Djalo made a great tackle as they entered the box but struggled to gain control of the ball which gave Rodrigo chance to reset himself, just as Djalo got the ball in his feet, this meant Rodrigo could just nick it off him and was through on goal. He smashed it near post and to top it off it took a big deflection from the committed Agouzoul which meant Jardim couldn’t reach it in time. The third goal came down to a poor judgement call from Djalo as he chose to chase down the clearance which left a gaping hole in the back line on the centre right. Kondogbia filled it and took it first time. Jardim really should have done better here getting a soft palm to it as it still went into the net. I couldn’t blame him for the first two but he should have stopped that. The final goal arrived just as we entered injury time, we played it out and quickly built up through their half. Postolachi found Yazici out wide who ran at the gap in the back line where Gaya should have been covering, Gaya left in no man’s land as he tried to catch up allowed Postolachi to find some space in the centre of the box for a simple pass and first time calm finish into the bottom corner to bring some hope for the second half. Half time 3-1 to the visitors but we were still in this.
Spoke to the lads about how this is their chance to prove to me why they deserve their spots at this club. They don’t play often so I wanted them to show me what mettle they had. Early on they showed me just that, taking possession around midway, Pied ran off and was found by Yazici, he quickly released it to Postolachi who drew the CB and then gave the lofted through ball to Soumare who’d come to outnumber the CB’s as Weah held the other. Then it was a simple 1 on 1 where Soumare blasted it into the net. 3-2 game on! Soumare again driving forward on the 63rd minute. He tried to find Yazici but it was cut out. However it fell straight back to him, Weah and Postolachi had doubled up on a CB whilst the other CB was with Soumare. Weah broke off, turned his man then this time he just drilled it into the net, no weak foot finesse just sheer power and it was 3-3 we’d come back! Valencia didn’t give up though, there were plenty of chances and shots being made. Jardim kept our hopes of a draw or snatching it alive on the 74th minute with a great save 1 on 1. Following that we had the ball up the field, Onana finding a nice pass into their half for Pied to drive forward with, Pied found Postolachi who drew his man again, found Osimhen who stuttered and then stepped past his man and again the theme of the game was raw power, he blasted it into the bottom left and we took the lead 4-3 from 3-0 down. You could see from my reaction how happy I was and thanked the fans for sticking by us and trusting in us to come back. We started to get a bit sloppy though, misplaced passes and bad touches. All of these built up to the 86th minute where Valencia showed some brilliant one touch passing to pull apart my defence, between about 5 players until eventually my CB was pulled away by Florenzi as he passed to Gameiro who gave a 1 2 back to him as he ran in behind where from about 9 yards out he could easily move it past Jardim and bring the game level again. An eight goal attacking show.
An end to end thriller. Genuinely thought we had managed to turn it around; but what an ending! After getting a draw against Valencia, which I was very impressed with considering the team I put out, I looked to the other match in our group. Chelsea had beaten Ajax 1-0 which put us 2 points in front of Ajax and then Chelsea & Valencia were joint 3rd on 4 points. This was a great development really as with two games to go we had our fate entirely in our own hands. There are now a few results that, if they happened, could almost guarantee our ride to the round of 16 (and the manager objective completed along with our personal goals).
Following that we now had 4 days to recover. We had some training to complete first of all but before I even got to that, I had the strangest text from the transfer listed Gaitan:
Gaitan thanked me for the “extended run” in the team. He hasn’t made an appearance to date, not even making the bench. I just told him to not let it get to his head, the options were praising him or saying he needs to keep it up which would make even less since than my actual response. *I assume this is some form of bug because his morale had increased due to match results and press conferences – maybe press conferences are OP? I’m debating whether or not I should be doing press conferences. The problem is that typically unless I berate the team, which I never feel a manager should be doing, there will always be a positive boost to morale which makes players like Gaitan “Very Happy”. There’s no way Gaitan should be very happy as someone who is a critical player, transfer listed, and hasn’t played a single game (and my last conversation I spoke to him fairly badly).*
Our scout had finished in Australia, I liked the look of was Australian Liberato Cacace. He’s a 19 year old LB who’s showing great potential and 72 rated; but I’m not 100% decided yet. What puts me off is that Bradaric is basically a better version of him and we have Reinildo for backup so I can’t see this move being feasible. Anyway, We’ve got plenty of countries to see and a shortlist that needs building. I then sent that scout off to the Japanese J League.
I’ve also been considering whether we look at the needs of the team as well and while maybe we might not find the “min max best youth player in Asia” i.e. one that’s showing great potential, if we found a young striker who could act as a reserve player for us, he will still have room to grow and it’s our talent from Asia criteria met. Maybe the following season we could be more selective because right now I have a shortage on strikers with one of my few strikers looking to retire.
That’s it for this week’s update! I hope you’re finding it interesting as we get towards the end of November. A couple of big games in the next installment with PSG & Ajax. As always any suggestions feel free to let me know!
For next week’s installment please either subscribe to my blog so that you’ll receive a notification on any posts I make, or once it’s posted there will be a link below directly to that page. Otherwise it should be available around 18:00 GMT.