"Les Merlus Européens" - Orange Is The New Black #FM19

The 2-year goodbye to the Stade du Moustoir starts now!

The 2-year goodbye to the Stade du Moustoir starts now!


Introduction

Perhaps celebrating my European qualification was a bit premature.  We had finished 5th in the league, but France’s drop in co-efficient and Bordeaux’s French Cup win resulted in FC Lorient entering the 2022/23 Europa League at the 2nd Qualifying Round.  I have always said “our way is the hard way”, and I was proved right once again.

We faced six games (3 rounds) in order to get to the coveted Group Stages, did we do it?  If you’re even mildly intrigued then please read on to find out…


Season 2022/23

Over the last couple of seasons I’ve been faced with three or four players getting jaded during the spring months.  I don’t have a huge squad and financially I am still prevented from building one.  So, to combat player jadedness, I decided to apply real world logic and give the team a heavy pre-season.  

Heavy Heavy Heavy!

It’s hard to push the players physically once the season is underway.  Especially as I hoped to be playing every 3-4 days if Group Stage qualification could be achieved.  So we went full-on during the pre-season months in the hope that their fitness could be built up to last the rigours of a whole season...Europa League included.

As mentioned last time out, I plan to introduce four Lorient Academy players into the side this season (Rolland, Le Moigne, Julien & Rousseau). In addition to the Lorient Youth, I have also brought in two targets from Atlético Nacional in Colombia, which will help me meet the below restriction in my save:

Include four under-20s in the match day squads (all comps)

Markel Alemán - the next Mario Yepes?

Gustavo Ramírez - the next Falcao?

For just over €1m the signings of Wonderkids Markel Alemán & Gustavo Ramírez represent incredible value. I honestly don’t think I could have found two better players, regardless of age, for that amount of money.

Joining the plethora of youth was Alessandro Murgia, who arrives on a Free Transfer from Lazio…having spent last season on loan at Lorient. In the final few weeks, he made the Centre Midfield Attack role his own in Goss’ side. He is everything I want in the centre of midfield: a Mental Juggernaut of a player (refer back to my Fibra Battleground post to get what I mean here).

Alessandro Murgia - My new No.10.

Bruno Jordão - A solid Deep Lying Playmaker.

The final notable arrival was deeper playmaker Bruno Jordão, who like Murgia was a Freebie from Lazio. His arrival was confirmed with half an eye on Assane Dioussé leaving for mega money. But the bids never came in for my Senegalese International playmaker.

Furthermore, there were no outgoing player sales (only the release of non-renewed contracts and end of loans). Being in a position to sell-to-buy therefore meant nothing else happened in the transfer market. Goss’ Lorient would enter 2022/23 campaign with largely the same squad plus a few extra youngsters offering cover…

Europa League

It’s logical to first talk about the Europa League, seeing as this tournament kicked for us in July. Despite a lack of match fitness, we managed to see off Swedish AIK with relative ease…although the score was a little too tight in both games, due to our rustiness in attack.

The next round proved to be the most difficult tie and it wouldn’t be FM19 if not for some Goss-drama. Why face Rovaniemen Palloseura, Saburtalo Tbilisi, FC Thun, KS Skënderbeu Korçë or Knattspyrnufélagið Valur when you can face an English Premier League team like Everton?

Just our luck. But after conceding two away goals at home, we managed to go to England and win. The Italian heartbeat of our team, Alessandro Murgia (CM-A) and Luca Valzania (B2B) with the goals to see us through and keep the Group Stage dream alive.

FC Midtjylland of Denmark were next, who had to be bystanders to the Joshua Zirkzee show. The €50m valued Bayern loanee grabbing a hat-trick as we run out 5-0 winners in the 1st leg. The 2nd leg, although fun, was a formality…Zirkzee once again scoring.

We’ve pissed all over the Group Stages, qualifying as group winners with a game to spare. I can’t quite put my finger on where it’s all going right for us. Was it the heavy training back in July? Are the youth really that good? Whatever it is, the team is settled and playing their best football.

There will be financial gains from all this too, our prize money so far this season equates to €6m, and I expect that figure to at least rise by a further €2-3m as we enter the Europa League knockout stages and play the two French domestic cups in 2023. Note - to put into context, our total prize money last season was €2m…the glass ceiling has now certainly been smashed.

I suppose I should gloat over beating Man Utd more, seeing as half of FM Twitter now manage them! Here is my Academy product, Julien Ponceau (who remains my biggest headache with only 7 months left on his current contract) scoring one of FC Lorient’s most famous goals:

Julien Ponceau Vs Manchester United - 22 September 2022.

Ligue Un

Due to the 2022 FIFA World Cup, we pause over November/December so our break isn’t quite at the half-way point. In fact, it’s preventing me for getting properly hyped about our current 3rd place position…as we need to play everybody first to properly judge where we’re at.

The most satisfying part of 2022/23 so far is that we are not reliant on one player for goals or assists. It is spread throughout the team really well, as shown below:

I plan to write more on our Youth Development in my next post, but I’ve highlighted those under 20s that have already been integral to our squad this season. It’s added another dynamic to my save and I can’t wait to see what the next months and years has in store for some of them.


As always, to find out what happens next on OITNB follow me on Twitter (@FM_Grasshopper), on FM Slack (#fmgrasshopper)…or on here for the next post.

Thanks for reading/sharing/caring.

FM Grasshopper

Five *NEW* Challenges in Football Manager 2019. Please Retweet #FM19 #WeAreTheCommunity

I have experienced a love-and-hate relationship with Football Manager 2019. I don't think I am the only one either, as I have seen a lot of people fall out of love for the game, take extended breaks or mention burnout - and it genuinely kills me seeing people switch off and head to Other Games. So, I thought I would spend some time noting down FIVE challenges that could see you get the FM thirst back…


(1) The Dan Gear 7 year Bolivia Challenge

This challenge needs no introduction: Daniel Gear went 7 years without winning a competitive game of football with the Bolivian National Team in Football Manager 2017, thus becoming Daniel Gear [of Bolivia fame] on the cult FM podcast: GrassNGear. Dan set the lofty bar at 7 years, but now it's your turn to play the '7 year Bolivia Challenge' and win a match sooner:

  • Manage the Bolivian National Team from July 2018 in FM19 and win your first competitive match by July 2025.

  • Can you sneak a win against South American giants, such as Ecuador, Peru & Venezuela?

  • Shithouse your way up in the clouds at home (altitude is in FM19) and win against an Argentina or Brazil?

Let us know how you get on, make sure you hashtag the challenge #7YearBoliviaChallenge.

Recent FM Pioneer: Dan (@DGear86)


(2) Giving a million to a Football Manager YouTuber

Often YouTubers are giving themselves virtual millions to spend in-game. But how about I, FM Grasshopper dot see oh em, invest in a YouTuber with real life monies? This challenge involves depositing a large wad sum of cash into a YouTuber's Patreon or PayPal account, and seeing what happens.

On this basis, I invested a 308 million Vietnamese Dong (£10,000), to see what Paul The Northman did. You won't believe what happened…

(1) He rented his local supermarket for a weekend and walked around in it…naked.

(2) He bought 500 shirts, 200 hoodies and 364 mugs (one for every day of the year), so he’d never have to do household chores again #scenes

(3) He acquired the land of the Vikesa Stadion (Bjerkreim IL) and will host the inaugural ‘FM Fyre Festival’. Coming: 2020, featuring your favourite FM influencers.

Let us know how you get on, make sure you hashtag the challenge #FMTYVietnameseMillionaire.

Recent FM Pioneer: Paul (@TN_TheNorthman)


(3) Numberless

Cleon81 paved the way in FM19 for playing without attributes. It was innovative and unique, which was quickly adopted by lesser-known bloggers once they caught wind of the approach (See: Oliver Jensen & Dan Gear). But can you go one step further than Cleon: by playing the game without numerical values whatsoever?!?

  • Download the new ultra-realistic FMG 'Numberless' skin from the Steam Workshop (see example screenshots below).

  • Play FM the way it was mean to be played (if this was set in the 1920s), by only looking at players in the match engine and go with your gut instincts.

Let us know how you get on, make sure you hashtag the challenge #NumberlessFM.

Recent FM Pioneer (traditional attributeless): Cleon (@Cleon81)


(4) Galatico Challenge

Why not start at the very top? It's a perverse thought, I know. But imagine a series like Non-League to Legend without any of the boring lower league nonsense. Straight away you can find yourself at the pinnacle of our sport, competing against the very best teams.

The Galatico Challenge is simple: every signing must break your previous transfer record. Sky's the limit. Can you build a team that rivals the Galatico Project of old? Can you win the UCL in your first season?

Let us know how you get on, make sure you hashtag the challenge #GalaticoChallengeFM.

Recent FM Pioneer: Joe (@FridayNightFM)


(5) Reverse Moneyball

Moneyball is a concept that has been applied, with various levels of accuracy, to several FM saves over the past few years. But imagine a statistical concept like Moneyball in the reverse: sign defensive players with favourable attacking statistics (such as Dribbles per 90 minutes, or Key Passes), your attackers could be judged on their Tackling success or Interceptions. Go a step further too, judge them on reverse attributes: Defenders with high Flair and Technique or Attackers with strong Positioning and Tackling.

Moneyball encourages shrewd and unbiased signings…so why not flip this on its head too? Combine the Reverse Moneyball Challenge with the Galatico Challenge: sign big, sell cheap. How low can you sell your marquee signings and yet remain in the job? The Reverse Moneyball Challenge may be the one to reignite the passion for FM19.

Let us know how you get on, make sure you hashtag the challenge #ReverseMoneyBallFM.

Recent FM Pioneer (traditional Moneyball): Jonathon (@JLAspey)


Good Luck!

What else can I say? Whatever you choose, my only request is that you have fun and enjoy Football Manager 2019 in the months we have left.

Thanks in advance for reading/sharing/caring,

FM Grasshopper

"Tactical Tweaks & African Adventures" - Orange Is The New Black #FM19


Season 2021/22

I cannot write about smashing through the glass ceiling, as I have not done it yet!  We’re half way there though, and the good news is that we are on course…just about.  6th in the league and into the Coupe de la Ligue Quarter Finals after besting 9-time winners Paris Saint Germain in Les Parcs des Princes.  Obviously, Ole Gunnar Solskjær remains the common foe; his LOSC lying 5th in the table and a point above Goss’ Lorient.

Our form has been woeful at times, but a strong December has seen us flirt once again with the prospect of qualifying for European football in 2022.  This is my glass ceiling and I really need to break it this time round.


Recruitment

Last time out I delved into the finances, which painted a very stark future for the club.  To counter this I concluded that I would need to sell-to-buy in the Transfer Market.  In addition, I would handle player contracts for new recruits and in player retention.  The first 6 months of this new way of working has been beneficial:

  • Players sold: €13.25m

  • Players bought: €7m

These gains (€6.25m) have been offset slightly by an increase in the player wages:

  • Previous wage total per month [end of Season 3]: €1,570,966

  • Current wage total per month [mid-point of Season 4]: €1,648,286

I don’t need to worry too much, as this will only be temporary as I look to re-adjust the playing squad over the coming transfer windows; with plans to bring through a few academy players (more on that next time out on the blog).  I have however improved the team a fair bit for this current campaign.  Highlighted by the signings of Chris Mepham (€6m) and Alessandro Murgia (€925k loan fee).

Note - you may think it’s crazy to rent-a-player for near a million euros, but I stand by the decision to get Murgia.  Furthermore, his contract is up in the Summer, so hopefully I can convince him to extend his stay and swap Serie A for Ligue Un.

Of course, I’m always sad to see my favourite players depart.  Rivaldo Coetzee was one of these players for me in FM19, and like Fonsinho before him…he was found in Africa and sold to the riches of the Bundesliga.  It’s a €7m profit made on a classy player who put in some stellar performances for Lorient.

His replacement though is my record signing, Chris Mepham.  The Welsh International has been solid at the back and although I rarely judge a signing after 6 months (I like to give them at least a full year), I think I am on to a winner with him:

Chris Mepham, Goss’ record signing and the 1st Celt to join Goss-ball.


Tactical Tweaks

Regista

The subsequent change in personnel meant I made some tweaks to my 4141/433 system.  The departure of Fabien Lemoine, my ageing Deep Lying Playmaker on Defend, and the arrival of Alessandro Murgia meant I had a more aggressive and mobile central midfield.  Murgia links up with his Italian counterpart Luca Valzania & industrious Assane Dioussé.  As a threesome, they offer a lot in both defensive, supportive and attacking sides of the game.  It’s quite a powerful engine room at last.

So, I decided to switch to a system of a Regista at DM, A Ball Winning Midfielder (Support) and a Mezzala (Attack).  They press higher and get forward more often, which is good to see.  In fact, they’re so good at it that I’ve removed the Counter Press Team Instruction, as I noticed we were often overly committed in the press.

Quicker transitional play

I have removed the Shorter Passing team instruction, which has been a mainstay in my setup since the start of the save. The change to Standard passing encourages the team to be more varied in passing length and at times move it forward with more penetrative passing.  The reasoning behind this change is largely due to our new attack, which has become younger and more explosive in terms of Acceleration and Pace for 2021/22.  Speed combined with the Pass Into Space team instruction are now our go-to weapons in attack.

The Diallo-Zirkzee-Ponceau share 23 goals between them (all comps) so far this season. Their average age is 20 years!

Above are our attackers, with the preferred front three on the tactics screen. However, I do have the luxury of being able to interchange the wingers often…Jimmy Cabot is good in either the Inside Forward or Winger role…and Alphonso Davies is back! The worst ever FM19 signing (read it here), has been given another chance to shine in Brittany. To accompany him, I’ve brought in fellow Bayern loanee Joshua Zirkzee to compete with Enzo Crivelli up top as the Deep Lying Forward.

The little tweak has brought about some expansive play. I’ve shown one example below, as I see this goal quite often in the Match Engine (Winger Support to Inside Forward to GOAL)…but it also nicely captures all midfield and attacking roles in my setup*.

*It’s also against PSG :-)

We now look something like this going into the final 5 months of the season:


Achilles’ Africa

Two in-game years have passed since I last updated you on my African player recruitment project for FM19. The reasons why I am targeting this continent were laid bare in my introductory post (read that here). To date, 11 African players have been recruited. This might not seem like a lot over three and a half years, but consider that 7 of those 11 have been recruited direct from Africa. This adheres to the postcolonial way French clubs recruit African players in real life, which is what I originally intended to replicate in FM19:

Achilles’ Africa so far: Algeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal & South Africa.

The standout signings are Mohamed Diallo (Côte d’Ivoire), and Assane Dioussé (Senegal), who have both featured heavily in my side over the last two seasons.  Mo Diallo, a Newgen attacker, signed on a Free Transfer from the famed ASEC academy.  There's a bit of romance for me, as this is the same club that produced Fonsinho…an FM19 player that I hold close to my heart.  After having Diallo for 18 months, there's no doubt that he can be an even better Lorient player than the ‘Fons’: 14 goals, 8 assists in 30 starts so far for FC Lorient. 

Assane Dioussé, on the other hand, was an established named in Ligue 1 when being signed from relegated ASSE in 2020.  He is a versatile midfielder who has the gift of being able to function as the playmaker, the runner or the defensive destroyer in my three-man central midfield.  It's meant he has always found game time in my team, which has helped him attract some clubs from La Liga and Serie A.  For now though, he's part of Team Goss.

The other four guys, recruited direct from the continent on Free Transfers, have rarely featured for Lorient, but they have age on their side and hopefully I can give them minutes over the next couple of years.  They are:

  1. Moses Nyarko (Ghana) - an explosive fullback from Ghana.  Who is understudy to Vincent Le Goff.  23 years old.

  2. Yaw Moses (Ghana) - another Ghanaian who has relatively strong mental attributes, which should help in central midfield.  22 years old.

  3. Mohamed Lamine Khaled (Algeria) - A right sided fullback that had a recent [failed] trial with AS Roma.  Achilles Goss snapped him up and immediately loaned him out to Auxerre for match experience.  20 years old.

  4. Abdou Koné (Senegal) - A raw, but technically gifted teenager who joins us in January 2022 direct from Senegal.  Still undecided on whether he is good enough, but worth a punt.  17 years old.

I’m unsure if any of the above four have long-term futures here, but if I can develop them and move them on…then Monsieur Goss will be happy.


The Future Is Still Orange

I debated for a long time about leaving FC Lorient in this save universe, but after much deliberation, I have decided to extend my stay for another year (until July 2023). Europe is in my sights now and we just have to realise it, I believe the future is still orange.

Thanks for reading/sharing & caring,

FM Grasshopper