Olympique Lyonnais - The Revival


May 10, 2018
Reaction score

Olympique Lyonnais - The Revival

OK, so my Worthing save has come to a very premature end! Only a few days into the save and I'd lost all passion for it. The tactic I'd been so successful with in pre season totally didn't work in competitive competition and we lost 8 of our opening 10 games, winning only 1! I wanted to change formation to bring in wingers again, but I'd outed all the wide midfielders from the club, so was stuck there too...it just completely de-motivated me as I feel I ****** it up from the start. So here I am with something different!

As the title of this story suggests, I'll be taking over as manager of Lyon and revive the club back to former glory. Lyon's 8th placed finish in the 2021/22 campaign was their worst in 25 seasons!! In the noughties, the club certainly had their best spell, winning 7 consecutive Ligue 1 titles and even reached the semi final of the Champions League in the 2009/10 season, beating Real Madrid along the way. However, it's all been downhill from there and the club is in desperate need of a revival!

My manager profile is one to reflect the level of club I am at. With a Continental Pro License to my name, I am certainly qualified on paper for this job, but have a point to prove having been handed a big job for my first one in management.

1.1 Ball.JPG

With some excellent facilities and a near on 60,000 seater stadium, all the necessary requirements are in place to get the club moving back in the right direction and the media predict a return to the top 3 this season, so expectations are on the up!

1.2 info.JPG

That's probably partly down to the additions of experienced internationals in the form of Alexandre Lacazette, Nicolas Tagliafico and Corentin Tolisso.

1.3 lacazette.JPG

1.4 tagliafico.JPG

1.5 tolisso.JPG

And in general, they are back up by a decent, if unspectacular, squad. The defence is lacking some serious quality and this will need addressing, but midfield and attack options are plenty and of a good standard to compete.

1.6 squad.JPG

The nicest surprise of all though was the club's bank balance which stands at a staggering £79 million!! Despite that, only £8.6 million has been made available for me to improve the squad, which seems a bit tight from my new employer.

1.7 finances.JPG

I imagine it's because the bank balance is a little misleading, with the club currently in £241 million worth of debt!

1.8 debt.JPG

One thing's for sure...I'm confident this is going to be a fun save!

Chapter 2: Welcome to Lyon

The board's vision. I'm liking the club culture of signing domestic players to keep a good French core in the squad, whilst developing youngsters through a youth academy that they would like to focus on keeping as the best in the country! By the end of this season, we need to be recognised as 'the best of the rest'....I can only assume this means being the 2nd best team behind PSG!! We need to be reaching the latter stages of the cup as well.

2.1 vision.JPG

The fan's want to see the club back in the Champion's League...it's been too long away from that competition and my aim is to bring some classic European nights back to Lyon. Again, they are on board with bringing the youngsters through and I'll clearly earn brownie points with the fan base for doing so.

2.2 supporters.JPG

The formation I have come up with (to test through pre season) is my favoured 4-3-3 DM Wide. Using supportive wing backs, inside wide players, a complete forward to link the play and a mix of creative and hard working midfield players. The aim is to keep the ball and patiently wait for openings in possession, whilst pressing with intent without the ball.

2.3 tactic.JPG

Moussa Dembele is a great fit for that complete forward role, but I have a decision to make with regards to my first choice striker. He has approached me saying he wants to explore options to leave the club when his contract expires at the end of the season, so it's sell now and cash in or let him leave for free in a year?!

2.4 dembele.JPG

2.5 dembele options.JPG

In the meantime though, it was time to welcome my first signing to the club. I wanted to bolster the midfield a little with another player that can play box to box and Tunisian international, Mohamed Ali Ben Romdhane is the man I've brought in. He'll be an essential squad player and provide necessary cover and he was cheap, joining from ES Tunis for just £1.6 million.

2.6 romdhane.JPG

The main position that needed serious addressing though was right back. I had a severe lack of options there and it was important I made a signing during pre season for this role. And I'm pleased to say I have...Ivan Balliu joins the club for £2.7 million from Spanish side, Rayo Vallecano. The 30 year old Albanian returns to France after spending 4 seasons with Metz up until 2019 and I'm hoping his familiarity with French football will ensure he settles in quickly at the club.

2.7 balliu.JPG

Our pre season campaign was a good one. We played a whole range of opposition from France, Portugal, Spain and Switzerland and remained undefeated throughout. Plenty of goals and lots of creativity and I only hope we can take this into the competitive season.

2.8 pre season.JPG

Which isn't going to present the easiest of starts as we will play both Monaco and PSG in the opening 3 games!!

2.9 fixtures.JPG

Alexandre Lacazette gets the armband for my first season in charge!

2.10 captain.JPG

Taking a look at the preview, with the new season just around the corner, it is no surprise to see PSG as hot favourites to lift the title, whilst the bookies think we can make top 4, although our 25-1 title odds mean they don't really expect a serious title challenge from us this year. Ten of the eleven places in the media dream 11 are made of of PSG's all star squad! The only surprise really is that Neymar is missing from the team!

2.11 preview.JPG

Chapter 3: PSG On Another Level?

Monaco would be our first opponents of the new Ligue 1 campaign as I take charge of my first competitive game. Their danger man is clearly Wissam Ben Yedder who kept Neymar out of the media dream 11 this season. If we could keep him quiet, we knew that would go a long way to securing victory!

3.1 ben yedder.JPG

There were no huge expectations from either the board or fans as they would be happy with a draw on the opening day!

3.2 monaco expectations.JPG

But as it turned out, a very dominant display saw us open the campaign with an impressive victory! Our first goal of the new season was a spectacular one as Houssem Aouar struck a beautiful free kick from 25 yards into the top corner to give us the lead. It wasn't long before we were 2 in front as well, with Jerome Boateng climbing highest to head home from a corner and we looked in control of the game inside the opening half an hour. We had dominated the first half and only 3 minutes into the 2nd period, Lacazette came agonisingly close to extending our lead to 3 as he saw his curled effort from outside the box hit the crossbar. However, our captain didn't have to wait long for his goal and on 57 minutes his powerful effort from 6 yards out hit the roof of the net and it was all but game over. Monaco had very little to offer all round!

3.3 monaco.JPG

Our next opponents, Lens, had also won their opening day fixture, at home to Lorient.

3.4 lens win opener.JPG

But we proved a different proposition altogether and a brace from Moussa Dembele ensured we open our season with back to back victories.

3.5 lens.JPG

My first taste of away day football would come next in a fixture that will be no bigger for us in France over the coming years...PSG! We were outsiders for the game and with PSG sporting no injury doubts, we could expect them to be at full strength with all their superstars available!

3.6 psg preview.JPG

Even if we did lose, it wouldn't invite any pressure as both the board and the fans are expecting it.

3.7 psg expectatiosn.JPG

In an attempt to limit the front 3 (as best we could), I attempted to push Neymar and Messi outside rather than let them run at goal. Also, Mbappe has the most ridiculous pace, so I didn't want us tight marking him and allowing him to get away from the defenders too easily...instead, we would give him space before hopefully timing our tackles to win the ball from him. That was the plan anyway!

3.8 psg opp instruct.JPG

However, despite our best efforts to control him, Mbappe still managed a hat trick inside the opening 16 minutes of the game as PSG made a frantic start to the match! We did, at least, settle into the game a bit after that but two more clinical finishes in the second half from Neymar and Mbappe bagging his 4th of the game, before Sarabia capitalised on some poor defending late on, ensured that we were resigned to a big and slightly embarrassing defeat against the hot title favourites.

3.9 psg.JPG

After two victories to kick off our season, the reality of the task at hand to overthrow PSG during my Lyon career is clear for all to see! However, 2 wins from 3 is a good platform to build and kick on from here.

3.10 league.JPG

Without a doubt, our most impressive player at these early stages is left back, Nicolas Tagliafico, who has looked really dangerous down that side for us and leads the Ligue 1 assist charts with 3 from the first 3 games.

3.11 tagliafico.JPG

Chapter 4: Not Clinical Enough

We would be presented with no better opportunity to bounce back immediately from the disappointing result against PSG than to play bottom side Nantes who haven't yet registered a point this season.

4.1 nantes no points.JPG

Before we get into that though, PSG made it back to back 6-0 victories as they thrashed Toulouse, with Mbappe taking his goals tally to 11 in 4 games!

4.2 psg toulouse.JPG

In our own fixture on matchday 4, we got back to winning ways with a solid 1-0 over Nantes. After battering their goal for a full 90 minutes and squandering lots of chances, Moussa Dembele finally poked home from close range in the 92nd minute to ensure we took the points.

4.3 nantes.JPG

Again we weren't great at finishing our chances against Montpellier and this time we didn't get away with it and have to settle for a draw. Disappointing considering we had 20 more shots at goal than them!

4.4 montpellier.JPG

With chance after chance being squandered in the last couple of games, I decided to incorporate a couple of extra training sessions on chance conversion into our schedule before we took on Lille.

4.5 training.JPG

It seemed to do the trick as we were a lot more clinical and cruised to a comfortable 3-0 victory away at the champions of 2 seasons ago!

4.6 lille.JPG

The game with Lille coincided with transfer deadline day and we managed to prize away 16 year old promising striker, Mathis Clement, from Marseille for a fee of £450k, in our only deal of the day. Hopefully, he will develop into a decent talent in the future.

4.7 clement.JPG

Going into our next game against Reims, I had a bit of a left back crisis. Tagliafico is suspended and in the days leading up to the game, Henrique has picked up an injury that will keep him out for 3 weeks. Not ideal!

4.8 left back crisis.JPG

It meant that Malo Gusto would get his first start of the season at right back, whilst Ivan Balliu moved across to step in at left back despite being traditionally a right back. I was hoping we wouldn't get caught out down that side.

4.9 gusto.JPG

Incidently, Reims posed not threat whatsoever from any area of the pitch, but we have our own problems in front of goal that returned and failure to find the back of the net means we have to settle for a single point. Moussa Dembele capped off an awful display up front with a missed penalty!

4.10 reims.JPG

Our next game would see us take on one of the better sides in the division in the form of Nice. They had started their season in mixed form and would come into the game in 5th. With our struggles to find the back of the net combined with the fact they have kept 2 clean sheets in their last 3 games, this could be another frustrating game for us.

4.11 nice results.JPG

But to even my surprise, we were the most clinical we have been this season so far. I dropped Dembele up front in favour of Lacazette who has been playing down the left and it worked with him netting our 2nd goal. But it was centre back Jerome Boateng that stole the headlines with a hat trick. He first and last goals were both headed efforts (one coming from a corner and one from a free kick), but the middle goal on 69 minutes was the pick of the bunch as he hammered home a powerful strike from 30 yards into the top corner! Banger!

4.12 nice.JPG

That result leaves us 3rd after the opening 8 games of the season, with PSG pulling away at the top already with a 100% record still. Incredibly, they've already scored 31 goals this season!!

4.13 league.JPG

As for us, we have a tough run of fixtures coming up in Strasbourg (2nd), Brest (5th) and Marseille (7th). All three of those will come in our next four fixtures.

4.14 fixtures.JPG

Chapter 5: That PSG Result Is Well Behind Us Now

One of the things that excites me about this club is the youth system behind it. The quality of our setup is justified by the fact that only Real Madrid and Barcelona have produced more players through their academies that are currently playing in Europe's elite divisions across the world! Hopefully, this bodes well for the future and we can keep producing world class talent through the club!

5.1 youth system.JPG

Back to league action now and before we took on Strasbourg, PSG lost for the first time this season in a thrilling encounter away at Monaco where Ben Yedder proved exactly why he made that media dream 11 over Neymar!

5.2 PSG lose.JPG

But we couldn't take advantage of their defeat and laboured to a 1-1 draw away at Strasbourg. They are massively overachieving and sit 2nd in the division, so on paper it's not the worst result. But when you consider they had to play nearly an hour with 10 men, we definitely should have exerted ourselves a bit more and won the game.

5.3 strasbourg.JPG

We did get straight back to winning ways though away at Lorient, despite being far from our best! Moussa Dembele will now be removed from penalty duties after missing his second successive spot kick in this game.

5.4 lorient.JPG

Our next game against Brest would have an added layer of intrigue as Romain Faivre was going up against his old club, where he spent 2 seasons and made 57 appearances!

5.5 faivre.JPG

And what a performance he turned in! A hat trick and man of the match for Faivre as he leads us to a comfortable victory!

5.6 brest.JPG

Our next opponents, Marseille, have made a disappointing start to their campaign and sit 10th after the opening 10 matches! It would give us confidence of getting another win on the board against a good side!

5.7 marseille position.JPG

That confidence was not misplaced either as we absolutely battered them! This was a combination of us being really good but also Marseille being really poor! Alexandre Lacazette starred up top as he bagged a brace, but it was again Romain Faivre who lifted the man of the match award for the 2nd game running as he got himself 3 assists.

5.8 marseille.JPG

And that hammering of Marseille set us up nicely for our next 4 games in which we extended our unbeaten streak to 13 games.

5.9 4 more.JPG

The stand out result was the 5-0 demolision job we did on Troyes, which was made even more impressive by the fact we played 61 minutes with 10 men after Tagliafico was given a straight red for a bit of a horror challenge.

5.10 troyes.JPG

We sit 2nd as we go into the season break for the World Cup, just 3 points behind PSG. Strasbourg have been the surprise package so far this season and are still to lose a game and sit right on our tails in 3rd. Marseille are gradually creeping up the table, but still find themselves well off the pace at the moment.

5.11 league.JPG

A tight defence has been the foundation of our good season so far and we have the best defensive record in the league. That's backed up by the fact that Anthony Lopes leads the way on clean sheets so far this year, with 10 from 16 games already!

5.12 clean sheets.JPG

Meanwhile, off the pitch, the board have agreed to my request to improve the training facilities at the club!

5 training facilities.JPG

Another bit of good news as I managed to tie down Houssem Aouar to a new 3 year deal. He has undoubtedly been my player of the season so far, contributing 4 goals and 6 assists in 14 league appearances! He gets a pay rise to £70k per week and becomes the 4th highest player at the club!

5. auoar.JPG

Chapter 6: 1 Striker Out, 1 Striker In

Let's hope this year's youth intake lives up to the expectations of the preview! It could be an absolutely awesome one if it does!

6.1 youth preview.JPG

The Qatar World Cup was won by Portugal, overcoming Spain in the final. Poland had a great tournament, reaching the semis where they were knocked out by the eventual winners. Meanwhile, it was a disappointing tournament for France and England who were both knocked out in the second round.

6.2 world cup.JPG

Whilst the World Cup was ongoing, we played a few friendlies to keep the squad's fitness ticking over. The results don't look great, but I'm not too worried as I did incorporate a mix of 2nd team and U19 players into each matchday squad to have a look at some of them.

6.3 friendlies.JPG

Our return to competitive action in Ligue 1 presented us with a good opportunity to resume in winning fashion as we faced off against 19th placed Ajaccio. They are struggling this season and with only 1 win to their name, they are firmly in the relegation places after being predicted to finish stone last anyway.

6.4 ajaccio preview.JPG

It took us a while to break them down, but two goals in the last 21 minutes saw us bag the victory!

6.5 ajaccio.JPG

The January transfer window is now open and Moussa Dembele is still adament he wants to see down his contract at the end of the season. He hasn't been been fantastic this season so far, although he has been OK, and I'm willing to let him leave this window to at least get some money for him and there is no shortage of interest.

6.6 dembele interest.JPG

I already have his replacement as well (in case he does leave). Divock Origi has signed on loan for the rest of the season from AC Milan, with an optional future fee of just £2.1 million if he does well for us.

6.7 origi.JPG

Origi made an instant impact as he started against Clermont Foot and bagged our second goal on way to a comfortable win. After being played in by Romain Faivre, he coolly rounded the keeper to slot home from close range into an empty net.

6.8 clermont foot.JPG

However, it wasn't all good news from the Clermont fixture as Jerome Boateng came off with a hip injury which will require specialist treatment and keep him out for up to 3 months! He's been my first choice centre back all season so will be a big miss!

6.9 boateng injury.JPG

Our first venture into the Coupe de France this season would see us take on Championnat National side, Union Orleans who are sitting 6th in their respective division against a pre season prediction of 5th. I should have the opportunity to rotate the squad and cruise through this fixture though in all honesty.

6.10 cup tie.JPG

And we did make pretty light work of them to make the next round.

6.10 cup game.JPG

Our first departure of the transfer window saw Jeff Reine-Adelaide go out on loan to Genk. They will pay 40% of his wages (£12k p/w) along with a monthly playing fee of £127k as well. There is also an optional future fee of £2.5 million to make the deal permanent. I was happy to let him go as he hadn't made a single competitive appearance for me this season.

6.11 adelaide.JPG

And he was followed out of the club with the imminent departure of Moussa Dembele. I had accepted bids of £1.9 million from both Almeria and Wolves for the striker and he has opted for Spain and leaves the club. Not a transfer I really wanted to make, but better to cash in and get something than see him go at the end of the season for nothing!

6.12 dembele.JPG

Life without Dembele didn't start well as we were nearly beaten by league strugglers, Angers. However, even with 10 men we did manage to pick up a point, although it is still a disappointing result. Origi was far from his best up top!

6.13 angers.JPG

Salvaging that draw though did extend our unbeaten run to 16 games and PSG are still the only side to beat us this season!

6.14 16 unbeaten.JPG

It leaves us sitting 2nd in the league, 5 points off PSG! Their 66 goals in 19 games is nothing short of ridiculous, although I guess expected with the firepower in their squad! Strasbourg have finally lost a couple of games, which sees a small gap opening up between us and them in 3rd. Montpellier are the biggest underachievers so far this season and find themselves in the relegation battle at the moment despite being expected to be in and around mid table.

6.15 league.JPG

Chapter 7: Playing For 2nd Place?

Our next league game would be a massive one in terms of chasing down the Champions League qualification places (top 3). Monaco are likely to push us all the way and sit 4th at the moment and they would be looking to do everything possible to close the gap.

7.1 monaco gap.JPG

So it wasn't ideal that Divock Origi picked up an injury in training the day before the game. It was only a minor one, but one that would keep him out of the starting lineup for the match.

7.2 origi injury.JPG

And with Alexandre Lacazette injured as well, it would mean that the front line was to be led by 20 year old Bradley Barcola, who only has 1 goal so far this season!

7.3 barcola.JPG

The youngster struggled and didn't take his chance at all, which meant I was forced to introduce the half injured Origi on the hour mark. He did make an impact and from the bench, setting up Aouar for the equalizer which ensures we keep Monaco at bay for now!

7.4 monaco.JPG

The Coupe de France is a competition that the board and fans really want to see us performing well in, with latter stages expected every season. But we have been handed a really difficult tie in the tenth round, away at Lille! Despite the tough away day, we were still favourites to go through.

7.5 lille preview.JPG

A few days before we kicked off and our chances of getting through were improved with a new signing to welcome. It is a loan deal until the end of the season that bolsters my options at centre back after the injury to Jerome Boateng. Guillermo Maripan wasn't getting much game time at Monaco, but can likely get some good minutes under his belt with us. Surprised Monaco let him come here and help us out, but certainly not complaining!

7.6 maripan.JPG

I wasted no time getting Maripan straight into the starting lineup for the Lille game and although it wasn't the greatest debut for him, an excellent attacking performance sees us through to the next round.

7.7 lille.JPG

Back in the league though, we suffered defeat for only the 2nd time this season at the hands of Strasbourg. We were punished in stoppage time for not taking any of a whole host of good chances throughout the game!

7.8 strasbourg.JPG

It brings to an end a run of 17 games undefeated!

7.9 undefeated run ends.JPG

On a more positive note, we have lined up a new transfer for the Summer. Lucas Moura is frustrated at warming the bench at Spurs and we can give him more first team football next season, so he will sign on a free at the end of the current campaign.

7.10 moura signing.JPG

7.11 moura.JPG

Transfer deadline day saw some offers come in for some of our players, starting with a £12 million bid from Manchester United for our keeper! It was very quickly rejected!

7.12 lopes bid.JPG

However, there was a departure in the form of Bradley Barcola, who leaves to join Newcastle in a deal worth £3.2 million which might rise to £4.2 million with appearances. I just didn't feel the youngster cut it and if I'm honest, I don't see him developing into a first teamer for Newcastle either.

7.13 barcola.JPG

Manchester United were not giving up in their pursuit of Lopes and came back with an increased bid of £17.5 million, which was again rejected!

7.14 lopes bid.JPG

And West Ham are sniffing around Romain Faivre, but their bid of £7 million is nowhere near high enough for me to consider selling!

7.15 faivre bid.JPG

With 2 hours of the window left, we confirmed an exciting signing for the fans! With the funds that have been raised, I managed to prize 20 year old Argentinian winger, Alan Velasco, away from FC Dallas for a fee of £5.5 million which may rise to £6.75 million. Velasco is a good prospect who could develop into a very good player, but is already good enough to challenge for a first team place right away. He had a great season in 2022 in the MLS, scoring 19 goals and bagging 6 assists in 34 games and hopefully he can replicate similar success for us in a better division.

7.16 velasco.JPG

With the transfer window shut, it was back to the football and we made it back to back defeats after another dominant performance saw us fail to take our chances and are reduced to another 1-0 loss! We must do better in front of goal and maybe, just maybe I am regretting letting Demebele leave now!

7.17 montpellier.JPG

Despite a recent dip in form that has seen us win only one of our last five games, we still hold on to 2nd place in the league. But it does mean that we are now very likely playing for 2nd as we have allowed PSG to open up a massive 13 point lead at the top!

7.18 league.JPG

Corentin Tolisso

Chapter 8: Recovering After A Poor Run Of Form

We kick off this chapter with the eleventh round of the Coupe de France and a home draw against Lorient. We only managed a narrow 1-0 win in the league earlier this season, so this wouldn't necessarily be a walk in the park and that was reflected by the fact we were only narrow favourites to win.

8.1 cup preview.JPG

But we actually made very light work of them to go through to the next round where we will now face off against Marseille.

8.2 lorient.JPG

We weren't able to take that cup form back into the league though and were largely outplayed by Lille for large parts of this game, possibly lucky to walk away with a draw!

8.3 lille.JPG

After 5 league games without a win, we desperately needed the one against Reims. They are struggling and firmly in the battle against relegation, so this was a must win game really and I'm pleased we did. We were dominant throughout and yet again, Houssem Aouar was just sublime!

8.4 reims.JPG

Aouar is emerging as my favourite player and is always my first name on the teamsheet. He is proving that he was so worthy of that new contract earlier in the season and is repaying me with some amazing performances and is ultra consistent too!

8.5 aouar.JPG

The only concern for me is that because of his excellent form, he is attracting interest from PSG and I'm hoping no bids come in for him in the Summer as it may be tough to keep him here....although qualifying for the Champions League might be enough to convince him to stay.

8.6 psg interest.JPG

Our upcoming schedule would see us play bottom of the table Ajaccio and then just a 3 day gap to play Marseille in the quarter final of the cup. So I decided to rest a few players in the league, hoping we could still get a result and then be at full strength for the cup game.

8.7 schedule.JPG

The risk just about worked as we managed to grind out the narrowest of wins in the league game against Ajaccio.

8.8 ajaccio.JPG

Our clash with Marseille would be the highlight of the quarter final draw and both sides knew that it would be their best chance of lifting silverware this season. For the first time in the cup this year, we would go into a game as outsiders.

8.9 cup preview.JPG

Our board and fans weren't exactly going into the game with much confidence.

8.10 expectations.JPG

So everyone should be over the moon that we have made the semi finals with a 1-0 victory over our rivals. Karl Toko Ekambi was a threat all game and it was his strike on the half an hour mark that was enough for us to seal victory. Gerson made our job easier when he got himself sent off early in the second half for Marseille, with a terrible challenge on Corentin Tolisso who was lucky to come away from it without any injury! A solid performance all round though and a big team overcome in the competition.

8.11 marseille.JPG

The semi final pits us against Brest. Surely if we can get past them it will be PSG awaiting us in the final!

8.12 semi draw.JPG

For now though, we turn our attentions back to the league and took on a Lens side that had won 3 games in a row which had seen them rise to 6th in the table. However, we matched them all over the pitch and an Alexandre Lacazette brace secures victory! Hopefully our bad run of form is behind us now.

8.13 lens.JPG

That poor run of results that we did have did allow the chasing pack to close in on us a bit, whilst PSG also extend their lead at the top to 15 points! With 12 games to go, we still hold on to 2nd place, but Monaco are breathing down our necks and will be ready to pounce if we slip up at all.

8.14 league.JPG


  • 1678613238296.png
    2 MB · Views: 8

Houssem Aouar

Chapter 9: A Wonderkid Coming Through The Youth Intake Maybe?

Nantes are not pulling up any trees this season, but are solid enough at the same time. They were predicted 10th and they sit exactly 10th! One of them teams you never really know what to expect.

9.1 nantes preview.JPG

It's a defeat for us and Nantes leave with all the points, largely down to a poor day at the office for our centre backs who had a nightmare!

9.2 nantes.JPG

Jerome Boateng has certainly been a big miss. With him in the team, only PSG had beaten us all season. However, since he picked him his hip injury at the turn of the new year we have lost 3 games and suffered our worst run of the season so far when we went 5 without winning. Luckily, he is nearly recovered from that and should be back within the next 2-3 games!

9.3 boateng.JPG

It's that time of year again...youth intake...the one we all look forward to in the hope of a potential wonderkid coming through the ranks. And we may just have one on our hands as well. 15 year old attacking midfielder, Bernard Lasserre looks like a serious talent and could progress to become a top, top prospect not just for Lyon but maybe even the national team one day too! I'm excited about this kid!

9.4 lassere.JPG

The youth intake as a whole is being billed as a potential goolden generation, although I'm not too sure I'd go that far myself. It's not bad, but it's not full of players I think could become first teamers here.

9.5 youth intake.JPG

With the right coaching though, Junior Ngongang could become a first choice right back at some point.

9.6 ngongang.JPG

Back to the on field action now and I although we come away with the win, I feel Nice massively helped us out here. They were 1-0 up and possibly should have been 3 up inside the opening 15 minutes...completely dominating us. Then Jean-Clair Todibo had a moment of madness and his straight red card saw them reduced to ten men. We still struggled to get the victory and fair play to Nice for giving it a good go - I feel like we got away with one here.

9.7 nice.JPG

The 50 best wonderkids football are announced and Jude Bellingham tops the list. One of our own makes the cut in 34th place...right back Malo Gusto.

9.9 top wonderkids.JPG

9.10 gusto.JPG

Back to back games against Brest in both the league and cup were up next. We'd be the favourites to win both, but will have to once again manage the squad's playing time with the two games coming within days of each other.

9.8 brest games.JPG

Round 1 goes to us as we win the league game, even after going down to 10 men just after the hour mark when Alan Velasco went in with a stupid two footed challenge that will likely earn him a maximum available ban. Braces from both Origi and Lacazette earned us a big 3 points though and give us the psychological advantage for the cup game.

9.11 brest.JPG

And the knockout blow (literally) came in the next game as we beat them in the cup as well. Two good performances and good to see Origi finally starting to find the net on a more regular basis. We're through to the cup final in my first season in charge which is a great achievement!

9.12 brest.JPG

We celebrate the cup win by making some improvements to the youth development at the club!

9.13 junior coaching.JPG

9.14 youth recruitment.JPG

Incredibly, it won't be PSG that meet us in the final either as they suffered a shock defeat at home to Toulouse in the other semi! We have an incredible chance now to lift a trophy in my first season at the club (no offense to Toulouse of course).

9.15 toulouse beat psg.JPG

Before that final, we had the matter of 4 more league games to play first and it was the perfect preparation as we won all 4! And that was capped off with a solid away victory at Toulouse just 3 days before we face them in the cup final.

9.16 4 more wins.JPG

After stringing together a few wins in the league, we have really cemented our 2nd place position. We are still a way off PSG and the title is all but theirs for this year, but the fact we have opened up a nice gap of our own back to Strasbourg and Monaco, hopefully 2nd should be secure with just 5 games to go.

9.17 league.JPG

On their way to the title, PSG may be humiliating teams on a weekly basis in Ligue 1, but in Europe they suffered a humiliation of their own!

9.18 psg humiliation.JPG

Chapter 10: Coupe de France Cup Final

Heading into our cup final clash with Toulouse, we can be full of confidence after just beating them 3-0 in the league. We actually haven't lost to them this season yet as our first fixture resulted in a draw as well.

11.1 past meetings.JPG

The match will be played at the Stade de France but it's slightly disappointing it's not a sell out with 74,000 of the 81,000 tickets sold.

11.2 tickets.JPG

We will go into the game as very narrow favourites for this one.

11.3 favourites.JPG

Our biggest miss will be Romain Faivre who was sent off in our last league game (against Toulouse). He also scored an absolute cracker in that game from outside the box...nicely curled into the top corner from 23 yards.

11.4 faivre.JPG

Toulouse will also be missing a key player though (through injury). Thijs Dallinga has been a first choice striker for them this year and has 15 league and cup goals to his name this season.

11.5 dallinga.JPG

Our form couldn't be any better going into the game, winning all of our previous 5. That defeat to us was Toulouse's only loss in their last 5 as well though, although they have only won one as well.

11.6 form.JPG

Lacazette gets the nod over Origi for us uo front, whilst the in form Tete will take up position on the right wing. Aouar has been awesome all season for us and there is nobody I'd rather see bag a goal in the final. Great to have Jerome Boateng back for the final after nursing him back closer to full fitness over the last few games.

11.7 lineups.JPG

And it was Tete who crossed for Lacazette to slot home from close range on just 53 seconds to get us off to the perfect start! 1-0 LYON!

11.8 1-0 lyon.jpg

Only 4 minutes later and it was 2-0 to us, this time Tete being the goalscorer. Again a very close range effort as the ball came in from the opposite side, Toko Ekambi providing the tap in for Tete. What a start!!

11.9 2-0 lyon.jpg

8 minutes, 3 shots, 3 goals! Tete again with a tidy finish into the bottom corner! Game over already?!

11.10 3-0 lyon.jpg

If it wasn't game over after 8 minutes, it surely was after 34! Lacazette was put through on goal by Tete and he slots past the keeper into the bottom right corner to make it 4-0!

11.11 4-0 lyon.jpg

6 minutes before half time and Jerome Boateng hammers home after his header is saved and rebounded back out to him. VAR checks for offside....No offside, Goal given!! 5-0!!

11.12 goal awarded.jpg

And we weren't done there! Another goal before half time as the outstanding Tete crosses for Toko Ekambi to meet it with a powerful header that nearly breaks the back of the net!

11.13 6-0.jpg

What an incredible 45 minutes of football that was!! Absolutely incredible!! Both hands were firmly on the cup even with a whole half to play. Toulouse do not know what hit them and this could possibly be the biggest scoreline in Coupe de France cup final history! Weirdly enough, the only other side to score 6 goals in a French cup final is Toulouse when they beat Angers 6-3 back in 1957!

11.14 half time.JPG

We definitely took our foot off the gas in the second half, but there was a 7th goal to come and it landed at the feet of my favourite player and the one I really wanted to score!

11.15 aouar goal.jpg

Unbelievable! A completely one sided final that results in the biggest ever cup final victory in the competition's history! Everyone played well, everything came together! A proud moment for me!

11.16 full time.JPG

Cup winners for the first time since 2012!

11.17 champions.jpg

The man of the match was Tete...2 goals and 4 assists in a 10/10 performance for the man on loan from Shakhtar!

11.18 tete.JPG

Jerome Boateng

Chapter 11: The Run In

As we look to continue to grow our worldwide presence, it will be important to set up affiliations with clubs across the globe. That process begins here with a new partnership with MLS side, Real Salt Lake.

12.1 real salt lake.JPG

Following our cup win, we had 5 more league games left to play as we looked to secure a 2nd place finish and qualify for the group stages of the Champions League next year. We kicked things off in perfect style with a comfortable victory over Rennes. January signing, Alan Velasco, scored his first goal for the club!

12.2 rennes.JPG

Another 3-1 win followed at home to Lorient in our next game! The scoreline stayed respectable for them, but we could easily have had 5 or 6 here.

12.3 lorient.JPG

It was the weekend that ensured our qualification for the Champions League next year. We can now finish no lower than 2nd.

12.4 champs qual.JPG

However, we also cannot win the league now and PSG retain their title. We've probably known that for a long time, but now it's mathematically confirmed.

12.5 psg win title.JPG

With a 2nd place finish now confirmed, the board announce the budgets for next season. The wage bill will be increased very slightly to £1.2 million and I'll have just shy of £16 million to spend this Summer to improve the squad.

12.6 budgets.JPG

Clermont Foot would be our next opponents in Ligue 1 and they had to win to give them any hopes of retaining their position in the top tier.

12.7 clermont position.JPG

A powerful finish from 14 yards out gave Maxence Caqueret his 3rd goal of the season and that was enough to resign Clermont to Ligue 2 football next year.

12.8 clermont.JPG

Jerome Boateng has been an important figure for us this season at the back and I do think we missed him dearly when we went through that poor run of form around mid season. But I was still considering letting him go at the end of the season because of his massive £83k per week wage and the fact he is now 34 years old. However, as he has agreed to take a near £50k per week pay cut and reduce his playing time to a squad player, I have opted to offer him a new 2 year deal instead.

12.9 boateng contract.JPG

12.10 boateng.JPG

Our next match was a pretty meaningless one with 2nd place confirmed for us and Angers having avoided relegation. So it wasn't really a surprise to see it fizzle out into a 1-1 draw.

12.11 angers.JPG

And that would lead us into our final game of the season, at home to PSG. We were simply playing for pride after getting thrashed 6-0 by them earlier in the season! This was much more respectable!

12.12 psg.JPG

So there it is. A 2nd place finish that was confirmed a few games back. PSG are champions again by some margin and are going to take some pegging back through my Lyon career. But if you'd have offered me 2nd at the start of the season, I'd absolutely have taken it...especially to do it with a 11 point gap back to 3rd!

12.13 league.JPG


  • 1678882288123.png
    1.8 MB · Views: 7

Karl Toko Ekambi

Chapter 12: End of Season 2022/23 Review

So it was a season to remember as we finished runners up in the league, quite easily in the end. There is still a gap to plug to get closer to PSG but we knew that was always going to be the case and it may take a few seasons to dethrone them. However, getting Champions League group stage football next year is a massive step in the right direction and will bring significant funds to the club in order to help us bridge the gap!

13.1 league.JPG

We also lifted our first trophy for 10 years as I bring home the Coupe de France. We didn't exactly have an easy run to win the trophy either beating both Lille and Marseille on route to the final. The 7-0 win in the final sets a new record for the competition as we steamrollered Toulouse to lift the trophy!

13.2 cup.JPG

Annual revenues this year were decent with over £40 million coming through the club in sponsorship money. Broadcast revenue and prize money also contribute large chunks to our turnover, but I expect everything to increase with Champions League football next season!

13.3 revenues.JPG

The signing of the season is central midfielder, Mohamed Ali Ben Romdhane. He joined us for just £2.1 million and is now valued at a minimum of £16.5 million! If that's not good business I don't know what is! All of the new signings done well to be fair though, but that goal contribution of 9 goals and 12 assists from Tete is extremely impressive and he will be sorely missed as he returns to Shakhtar this Summer.

13.1 new arrivals.JPG

The best 11 only really leaves me one major surprise and that is the ommission of Jerome Boateng at centre back. Yes he did miss about 3 months through injury, but either side of that, he was pivotal to our campaign and outperformed the two lads that took the spots in the team of the year. Improvements are required at centre back though if these average ratings are anything to go by.

13.4 team of year.JPG

My favourite player Houssem Aouar picks up fan's player and young player of the season on awards night! Anthony Lopes kept an incredible 23 clean sheets this season and was probably unlucky to lose out to PSG's Donarumma for Ligue 1 goalkeeper of the season.

13.5 awards.JPG

Overall Squad Stats...

13.6 squad.JPG

Four of our players made the Stars Team of the Season, which is otherwise made up of PSG players.

13.7 stars team.JPG

But only Nicolas Tagliafico makes the Ligue 1 select!

13.8 ligue 1 team.JPG

Ahead of next season, the fans have decided that Champions League qualification should be the minimum aim again and I have to agree. Finishing above Marseille is a priority too. We have gained 600,000 social media followers this season which is quite impressive, whilst gaining a few more fair weather fans too.

13.9 supporters.JPG

Not much has changed in the way of the board's vision apart from putting some caps on contract lengths for some of our older players, which shouldn't really restrict me.

13.10 board.JPG

Chapter 13: Return To France For Thauvin

My first signing of the Summer is that of a new attacking right winger. With Tete returning to Shakhtar this Summer, it was one of the most important areas of the pitch for me to address (I tried to renew his loan but they weren't having any of it). I desperately wanted a French player for that position and ex Marseille and Newcastle winger, Florian Thauvin was available from Tigres for a reasonable fee of £10 million. He becomes the highest paid player at the club and I'm hoping he justifies it with his performances next season!

14.1 thauvin.JPG

There is renewed interest for goalkeeper Anthony Lopes which we are going to have to fight off. It was Manchester United in January, but now Nottingham Forest have come in with a bid just shy of £19 million which I have rejected.

14.2 lopes bid.JPG

As for my next signing, it was a big one in terms of staffing. Leonardo has joined as Director of Football and will be put in charge of signing youngsters for the U19s. With his connections to Brazil, I am hoping he can find us one or two South American wonderkids to bring to the club!

14.3 leonardo.JPG

Next in, another player! Serbian centre back Strahinja Erakovic is a shrewd piece of business if I do say so myself. The 22 year old joins from Red Star for just £6 million and is immediately valued at £35 million upon his arrival. This kid could be at the heart of our defence for years to come!

14.4 erakovic.JPG

Meanwhile, PSG are busy spending the small sum of £86 million to bring Declan Rice to France!

14.5 rice.JPG

Which is £17 million less than what Arsenal paid to get the most highly sought after wonderkid in world football.

14.6 bellingham.JPG

As last season officially ends, the table resets and we will play 4 games less from here on out as Ligue 1 has been cut from 20 to 18 teams.

14.7 18 teams.JPG

And we will start the season with the toughest possible fixture, playing host to PSG!

14.8 fixtures.JPG

Lucas Moura has now officially joined the club on a free...the deal we closed back in Jan.

14.9 moura.JPG

I still needed a striker, as Divock Origi definitely wasn't good enough on loan for us last season for me to make his deal permanent. The man I turned to instead...is a MASSIVE BARGAIN and could be signing of the season based on the minimal £3.9 million minimum fee release clause I had to pay to get him. 21 year old Croatian striker, Dion Drena Beljo joins the club after scoring 18 goals in 21 games for Osijek in the Croatian top tier last season! Let's hope he brings them shooting boots to France with him!

14.10 beljo.JPG

He was quickly followed to the club by wonderkid centre back, Diego Coppola, in another shrewd piece of business. The 19 year old cost me just £6.25 million from Hellas Verona and is immediately valued at over £35 million! He is another player who could play a massive role at the club for years to come, but is good enough to be an important squad player from day 1!

14.11 coppola.JPG

With the arrival of Coppola, it was time to trim the squad a little and Thiago Mendes is the wrong side of 30 now, was only a squad player last year and was creaming £53k per week in wages, so I have moved him on. He joins Brianza for £1.6 million.

14.12 mendes.JPG

He wasn't the only player to leave the club this Summer. A whole host of players from the 2nd team have been moved on for small fees which all mount up and got them off the wage bill too.

14.13 players out.JPG

The only other significant one from the first team was Jeff Reine-Adelaide who spent last season out on loan anyway. He isn't good enough for us and I was happy to get £3.9 million from Genk for him.

14.14 adelaide.JPG

As we are half way through pre season, it leaves us in a decent position, spending about £120k per week less than the available wage budget and still £2 million in the transfer kitty as well. If a decent loanee became available, these budgets would allow me to go for them.

14.15 budgets.JPG

But I have to admit I don't really need anyone else right now as I am happy with the way the squad is shaping up for the new season!

14.16 squad.JPG

Anthony Lopes

Chapter 14: The Toughest Of Starts To The Season

Pre season went really well, with 6 wins from 6 games. A successful tour of the USA was flanked by two wins over lower league French sides, before we gave the Austrian Red Bull club a hiding.

15.1 pre season.JPG

Corentin Tolisso was the standout player from the friendlies as he bagged 5 assists and a goal in 4 appearances!

15.2 tolisso.JPG

Our first proper game of the season will be the French version of the Community Shield. Ligue 1 champions play Coupe de France winners in the Trophee des champions...so it's us against PSG, in what would effectively be a warm up for the opening day of the season which is the same fixture!

15.3 trophee des champions.JPG

Again they prove too strong for us! We created more chances in the game and missed 2 clear cut ones which you can't afford to do against PSG. And in attack, they are just so strong and look like they're going to score every time they bring the ball forward!

15.4 psg.JPG

This year's season preview has the bookies predicting us for a 2nd place finish again, which is no surprise as PSG will likely be odds on favourites to win the league every year! Their entire squad makes up the media dream 11, with Neymar working his way back into the team over Monaco's Ben Yedder this season!

15.5 preview.JPG

So it was opening day of the season as we took on the mighty PSG once again. We got a 0-0 draw at the end of the season at home to them and this one ended in a draw again. We matched them all over the pitch though and can be proud of our performance here, especially after losing just a week before. Dion Beljo bagged himself a leage debut gial with an excellent half volley and also picked up the man of the match...I'm interested to see just how good he will become as our main front man and this was a very promising start.

15.6 psg.JPG

And we start our season with back to back draws after a 0-0 away at Lille. We had a couple of really good chances in this one, but just couldn't find the back of the net to get the winning goal.

15.7 lille.JPG

But in our next game we got our first win of the season with a comfortable result over Brest. It looked like we were going to have another bad day in front of goal as we missed a number of chances in the 1st half. However, the 2nd period was a lot better and once we got into our stride, we went on to record a more impressive scoreline.

15.8 brest.JPG

And then it was time for the big draw! Our first venture into the Champions League under my management. It's great to be back amongst Europe's elite and we'd go into it as 3rd seeds, so could certainly expect to be up against a couple of the best sides in Europe at least. As far as the fans go, they apparently want us to be paired with FK Partizan...I can only imagine as they feel this would be an easy 6 points!

15.9 draw.JPG

The fans didn't get their wish, but I have to admit I am over the moon with our draw and although no group is easy, this is possibly one of the best outcomes we could have hoped for! Ajax, Leipzig and Betis are all winnable games for us and we have a good chance I feel of qualifying for the knockout stages.

15.10 group g.JPG

The rest of the draw shows PSG should cruise through with Atletico Madrid, whilst we was really happy to avoid the Real Madrid/Man City group and the Arsenal/Barcelona group!

15.11 champs draw.JPG

Back to league action for now though and our next game would see us take on a Lens side that would be in high spirits after recording a shock win over PSG in their last game.

15.12 lens beat psg.JPG

And they walk away with another point here! We were the better side, but our finishing let us down and we have to settle for a disappointing result!

15.13 lens.JPG

So although it has been an unbeaten start to the season, it has been an underwheming one, as we draw three of our opening four. We must improve!

15.14 league.JPG

Maxence Caqueret

Chapter 15: A Solid Start In The Champions League

We might have made a pretty mediocre start to the season, but Nantes have had an awful one and sit bottom of the league after the opening 4 games. We would be looking to capitalise on that.

16.1 nantes position.JPG

We got the win but only just! Houssem Aouar's 91st minute strike which nearly broke the back of the net got us out of trouble after another game where we struggled to take our chances!

16.2 nantes.JPG

That would lead us into our first Champions League game and the fixture we have to kick things off is probably the toughest in our grou, away at Ajax. Fans and pundits can't split us though.

16.3 ajax preview.JPG

But it was us that come away with a massive 3 points to kick start our group stage campaign. The scoreline probably flattered us in what was actually a very even game, but we took our goals really well with all four of them being cracking team moves.

16.4 ajax.JPG

Marseille were our opponents back in Ligue 1 and they had won 4 of their opening 5 fixtures, with Patrick Vieira now in charge. Somehow, we come away with a point that we completely did not deserve. They were all over us and really piled on the pressure in the last 10 after Moura's sending off as well, but we held on to take something from the game.

16.5 marseille.JPG

The last time we met Toulouse was in the Coupe de France final where we thrashed them 7-0!! However, they have put that well behind them and 6 games into the new season, they are undefeated and top of the league!

16.6 toulouse top.JPG

But they're not undefeated anymore as we inflict their first loss of the season here. It was tight on the scoreline, but the stats suggest we should have been well out of sight in all honesty!

16.7 toulouse.JPG

We got a very nice and unexpected surprise from our board after the Toulouse game. £18.5 million has been made available in the transfer budget, so I'll have something to play with in the January window. The way things are looking at the moment with us creating a lot, but not taking our chances, it could all get blown on a new striker.

16.8 budget increase.JPG

Our next game would see us play host to RB Leipzig and the home Lyon fans would be looking to celebrate their first taste of Champions League football at the Groupama Stadium for a few years. However, it was Leipzig that were expected to get the result.

16.9 leipzig prevoew.JPG

In a very tightly contested game, it was us who just edged it and ****** the 3 points. Florian Thauvin's goal is worth a mention as it was an absolute screamer from 30 yards which gave the keeper no chance!

16.10 leipzig.JPG

After a really slow start to his Lyon career, Thauvin seems to now be finding his feet with 3 good performances in his last 4 games. Maybe it is the switch from Inverted Winger to Inside Forward which has helped his game come on.

16.11 thauvin.JPG

Montpellier beat us the last time we met (last season), so I was cautious going into this game, but a professional and solid performance from my lads ensured a good away victory! Dion Beljo bagged his first brace for the club.

16.12 montpellier.JPG

The last time we played Nice, it resulted in a 4-3 thriller which saw us come out on top. This encounter was nothing like that as we played out a bore draw. Houssem Aouar came closest to scoring when his long range curling effort crashed off the outside of the post, whilst we have Anthony Lopes to thank for saving the point late on with an excellent double save!

16.13 nice.JPG

Nine games into the season and we remain the only unbeaten side in the league. However, too many draws leaves us 4th in the table, although things are extremely tight with just 6 points seperating 1st to 10th!

16.14 league.JPG

Malo Gusto

Chapter 16: Great Form Continues On All Fronts

We kick off this chapter with Champions League action and Real Betis would be the visitors as we looked to make it 3 wins from 3 games. Their danger man to watch our for is an ex Lyon player in Nabil Fekir and he has been in great form this season with 6 goals and 3 assists in 11 appearances in all comps.

17.1 fekir.JPG

I'm pleased to report that it wasn't a happy return to Fekir as we grab the win! But what an amazing last few minutes to this game...we were 2-0 up going into the 87th minute and by the 89th it was 2-2, only for Jerome Boateng to hammer home a rebounded effort from a corner to steal the points in injury time!

17.2 betis.JPG

At the half way stage, we look poised to qualify for the knockout stages with just 1 more win required to seal our passage through.

17.3 group.JPG

Florian Thauvin just loves the competition and so far this season, he is officially the 4th best player in it! He's been sensational for us in all three games. I just wish he could bring that to the league on a more consistent basis.

17.4 thauvin.JPG

The biggest shock at the half way stage is that FC Kobenhavn are leading Group D, despite being rank outsiders!

17.5 group d.JPG

Before we would head out to Spain for the second game against Betis, we had two more Ligue 1 fixtures to play in between. It was another 4 points taken.

17.6 rennes.JPG

17.7 metz.JPG

Then it was defeat for the first time in the Champions League this year as Betis got the better of us in a tight match. A lightning start from the Spanish side saw them 2-0 up inside the opening 7 minutes and it was always going to be tough to recover from that. We gave it a good shot and Houssem Aouar struck 9 minutes before half time as he dribbled past 2 men before curling an effort into the top corner from outside the box. The second half saw both sides have chances but we just couldn't find that equalizer.

17.8 betis.JPG

Just 3 days later we would take on Troyes in Ligue 1 and with some tired legs in the team, rotation was required. It would mean that 18 year old Sael Kumbedi would get his first start for the senior team at right back.

17.9 kumbedi.JPG

With some key names missing from the starting lineup, we weren't at our best, but we managed to grind out a result in the end. Alexandre Lacazette came off the bench to score the winner when he expertly timed his run into the box before hitting a first time powerful shot that hit the roof of the net.

17.10 troyes.JPG

Not a single one of our players makes the world's top 50 at this stage, although personally I'm going to say I think Houssem Aouar deserves to make this list for me!

17.10 best players.JPG

We had a 2 week break before our next league game which would give some of the squad (that were not away on International duty) to recover. However, against Angers I would still need to be cautious with my team selection as we had a massive clash with RB Leipzig just 3 days later in the Champions League. Despite that though, a rampant second half performance against Angers ensured we got our biggest win of the season so far.

17.11 angers.JPG

The Leipzig game would see 2nd in Ligue 1 taking on 2nd in the Bundesliga and it played out as as close a game as expected, with neither side being able to find the breakthrough. A good point out in Germany though!

17.12 leipzig.JPG

It was a point that guaranteed our safe passage through to the knockout stages.

17.13 knockouts.JPG

Our next domestic game would be a tough one. Away at Monaco, who sit 7th in Ligue 1 and have recently sacked their manager and replaced him with ex Leicester and Southampton boss, Claude Puel.

17.14 puel.JPG

It only took us 43 seconds to get our noses in front when Dion Beljo finished off an excellent team move. As it turned out, it was the only goal of the game and it is great to cone away from a very difficult fixture with all 3 points!

17.15 monaco.JPG

We're now 14 games into the league campaign and PSG and us are starting to pull away a little at the top of the table again. We remain undefeated in the league this season!

17.16 league.JPG

Alan Velasco

Chapter 17: Thauvin Fallout

Our final Champions League group game was hosting Ajax and we knew a win would seal our position as group winners and potentially throw up an easier tie in the last 16. Meanwhile, Ajax who were number 1 seeds in this group have found the competition tough this year and can only qualify for the Europa League at best.

18.1 group before ajax.JPG

Even with a few first team players rested, we managed to get the result and confirm a miserable season of European football for Ajax.

18.2 ajax.JPG

It's Leipzig who will join us in the last 16 after they beat Betis in the other game.

18.3 final group.JPG

PSG won't be there though as they could only manage a 3rd place finish in Group C.

18.4 psg fail.JPG

Real Madrid and Arsenal were also major casualties at the group stage of the competition.

18.5 real madrid arsenal.JPG

Florian Thauvin could be on his way out of the club after just a few months. He has got the ump as I have been playing him as an Inside Forward instead of an Inverted Winger. Following a conversation, he has formally handed in a transfer request and we could see him leave in the January window!

18.6 thauvin unhappy.JPG

18.7 thauvin transfer.JPG

If I can get a massive fee anywhere near his current value, it wouldn't be the worst piece of business in the world. He has been sensational in the Champions League, but in domestic football he has been nothing more than mediocre!

18.8 thauvin.JPG

In the last 16 draw for the Champions League, we were handed a very winnable tie. I'd say Leipzig are better than Wolfsburg and we overcame them in our group so we have to fancy our chances of progressing. Without a doubt, the tie of the round is Barcelona/Liverpool.

18.9 champs draw.JPG

Our last two league games of 2023, we extended our unbeaten run with a draw against Reims which was a disappointing result, but we made up for it with a fantastic win over 3rd placed Strasbourg in our next game. It was 1-1 in that one, until I brought on Lucas Moura who scored and got an assist to ensure we took the victory - a great impact from the bench.

18.10 reims.JPG

18.11 strasbourg.JPG

It means that we sit 2nd going into the Winter break, 6 points behind PSG but a good 5 ahead of Strasbourg.

18.12 top 3.JPG

Before the Winter break, we did have one final game to play and that was our first venture into this year's Coupe de France. We'd been drawn against minnows, Avoine Chinon, as we begin our defence of the competition we won last year and made light work of them as expected. I'd have liked to play a couple of the kids from the youth here, but they went on holiday for the break over a week ago, so wasn't available.

18.13 avoine.JPG

As we turn into the new year, it can only mean one thing...the January transfer window is open!! And with it there is a new signing as I bring 21 year old Portuguese striker, Henrique Araujo, to the club from Benfica for a fee of £14.5 million. He is already a very good player and could develop further to become a star for us. He spent last year on loan at Hamburg in Germany, where he scored 9 times in 21 games. This season, he already has an impressive 11 goals and 4 assists in 6 European Championship Under 21 games for Portugal. A great addition to the squad.

18.14 araujo.JPG

There is a departure as well, although only on loan. Sinaly Diomande hasn't been getting much football this year, only appearing three times in all competitions. I didn't want to sell the 22 year old centre back right now, but have sent him out to Salernitana where he should get some decent minutes under his belt in Serie A and we will assess his development and performances on his return.

18.15 diomande.JPG

Our first game back after the break was the next round of the Coupe de France and the draw threw up a tie which was a repeat of last year's final. And just as we did in last year's final, we gave them a thumping here to progress to the next round.

18.16 toulouse.JPG

The eleventh round draw hands us a tough away day at Monaco in what is probably the tie of the round.

18.17 cup draw.JPG

Chapter 18: A Busy But Strong January Transfer Window

With the potential imminent departure of Florian Thauvin during this window, I moved to bring in his replacement and boy am I am happy with who we got! Pablo Sarabia's conract was due to end with PSG at the end of the season and with no deal on the horizon, I went in with a cheeky little bid of £1.9 million and it was accepted. It's an absolute bargain for a player who brings a wealth of experience after winning a few Ligue 1 titles with PSG!

19.1 sarabia.JPG

Both new January signings made an immediate impact in our return to league action as we thumped Le Havre. Henrique Araujo bagged himself a brace whilst Sarabia got himself on the scoresheet and an assist too. Our January business is already looking very, very good!

19.2 le havre.JPG

Our backup keeper, Remy Riou, has decided to hang up his boots at the end of the season. He is now 36 years old and has only made 2 appearances for me during my time at the club.

19.3 riou.JPG

So I moved to bring in a new backup. Daniel Naumov signs for just £650k from CSKA 1948. He was their number 1, but with the move to a much bigger club, he is happy to warm the bench for us. He is an upgrade on Riou and for a cheap purchase, he's a decent backup to Lopes. He also brings some international experience with his 11 caps for Bulgaria.

19.3 naumov.JPG

I was presented with a problem for our next game, which would be a tough fixture against Marseille. I would be missing Ben Romdhane, Tolisso and Caqueret in central midfield which left me massively short of options.

19.4 missing mids.JPG

It meant I had to call up Habib Keita from the 2nd team and throw him straight into the starting lineup!

19.5 keita.JPG

But the lad came in and done a fine job for us as we get a big result! Henrique Araujo scored another brace - that's 4 in his last 2 games and he already looks like an awesome signing!

19.6 marseille.JPG

More good news for the future as the board agree to my request to improve the academy coaching and it takes us to an exceptional level!

19.7 junior coaching.JPG

And with that, the training facilities are getting another upgrade as well!

19.8 training fac.JPG

Our impressive form in the league continued with a good away win at Nice, with young Araujo on the scoresheet again! Toko Ekambi also celebrated his return from the African Cup of Nations with a goal as well.

19.9 nice.JPG

The only problem we are having at the moment is that PSG keep ****** winning as well, which means they maintain their 6 point lead over us at the head of the table! Possibly the biggest surprise so far this season is the dreadful showing from Nantes who still find themselves on single figure points as they prop up the table!

19.10 league.JPG

It's transfer deadline day and I expected it to be a busy one with plenty of rumours swirling in the media. The first player to leave is Romain Faivre. Not a player I expected to sell this season, but he has become disgruntled at his lack of first team football and with the arrival of Sarabia from PSG, he has fallen down the pecking order further. We managed to get a £16.5 million fee for him from Tigres as he moved to Mexico.

19.11 faivre.JPG

I then had to reject a big bid from Manchester United for French right back, Malo Gusto, which amounted to £33.5 million!

19.12 gusto offer.JPG

Henrique is the next player to leave the club. The left back has only ever been a backup and never really pushed Tagliafico for his starting spot in the team. He agreed a pre contract deal with Corinthians to leave on a free at the end of the season, but I allowed him to go right away.

19.13 henrique.JPG

His replacement is a massive upgrade and will definitely be competing for a place in the starting 11. Rico Henry joins from Brentford for a fee of £14.5 million and strengthens us considerably in the left back position.

19.14 henry.JPG

The biggest struggle I had of the whole window was trying to offload Florian Thauvin. No club's were willing to meet his wage demands even though I dropped my asking price for him right down to £7.5 million! I tried to get rid on loan, but nobody would take him! It's now come to transfer deadline day and I just don't want him around the first team with his negativity so I've sent him to affiliate club, Farense, and he will be playing the rest of the season in the 2nd tier of Portuguese football.

19.15 thauvin.JPG