The turf of the Stade du Moustoir had been graced by the orange and black of Lorient for 65 years. But May 2024 would see the last ball being kicked on the synthetic pitch, as FC Lorient head to the imaginatively named 'FC Lorient Stadium' for the 2024/25 season and beyond. A deserved 25,000 all-seater prize for the upturn in club fortunes during the Achilles Goss Years.
Could Les Merlus provide one last fairy-tale to the lump of concrete they called home? Read on to find out how the 6th season concluded and reminisce with me about the magical moments that the Moustoir witnessed during the Goss era…
You can see from the below results that our league form was ‘mixed’. We lost sight of the Champions League places during a difficult spring, as we juggled player fitness with the lucrative Europa League run we had (mini-spoiler). We moved towards a wide 433, with a flat central three that looks good at times…but I felt we never got the best out of central Striker Gustavo Ramírez. Despite his 14 league goals this season, it included a run of 12 league games without a goal. Awful, and something to think about as we head into my last season.
Despite some difficult results, we finished in our highest position this season: 4th! This does not mean Champions League football…but it does mean that we go into the Europa League Group Stages for the first time in this save (having spent the last two seasons going via the qualification stages).
2024 Europa League
Goss’ Lorient broke a competition record in the Europa League this year: 20 games unbeaten. A run that stretched back from July 2023, where we kicked off our campaign in Brann, Norway. I didn’t think we’d ever go this far…all the way to the glamour tie Vs Mourinho’s Manchester United in the Parcs des Princes, Paris.
I streamed the final in Full Match mode, and if you hate yourself that much…you can view it here. In short, we never really got going. We went ahead with a 1st half penalty after 37-year-old soon to be retiring Leonardo Bonucci upheld Ramírez in the penalty area.
But Mourinho is a magician in Football Manager, Nabil Fekir scored to complete a final team move shortly before Half-Time. In the 2nd half we hit the post early on and from there I knew this would be Manchester’s night. A Danish Newgen called Benjamin Ibsen scored from range with 19 minutes to go, they’d be no 21 European games unbeaten and they’d be no Champions League football played in this save:
In the space of 7 days we exited both domestic cups on penalties. The French Cup, which we have notoriously done poorly in, was against Ligue 2 US Avranches and the Coupe de la Ligue was a Semi Final against Toulouse. Eurgh, not really much else to say here.
Au Revoir, Moustoir
I have enjoyed looking back at past home games, savouring the magical moments that are dotted around my save. The Stade du Moustoir has been the playground for the Goss Years, and let’s take a look back at six magical moments:
Season 1: “A Touch Of Fons”
FC Lorient 1-1 Sochaux, Ligue 1 Play Off [FC Lorient win 4-3 on penalties]
28 May 2019
The Ligue 2 Promotion Play Offs were a nervy affair, it took a moment of magic for FC Lorient to score against Sochaux. That magic came from one of Achilles Goss’ most astute signings: Fonsinho. Joining in January 2019 for €230k, the Ivorian Prince hardly ever had a bad game. His goal against Sochaux is still one of my favourite individual FM19 goals…
Season 2: “Gaëtan’s Goal”
FC Lorient 2-1 Le Havre, Ligue 1
12 February 2019
We beat PSG 2-0 in the Moustoir in Season 2, it was a memorable game with local lad Gaëtan Courtet finishing a fine team move. But it wasn’t Gaëtan’s best goal in the Moustoir that season…that was reserved for Le Havre, who witnessed quite possibly my favourite team goal in FM19.
It started with a long diagonal ball from another African gem: Rivaldo Coetzee. The Ball Playing Defender played like a Rolls Royce during his 18 months in Brittany. His pass was knocked down by Fonsinho and it was Gaëtan Courtet who did the rest. Hitting it first time on the volley. What.A.Fucking.Goal:
Season 3: “Angban’ged”
FC Lorient 2-0 FC Niort
21 November 2020
Season 3. Another treasured goal from another treasured African signing. This time it was Victorien Angban, who only ever scored screamers. Just look at it, shades of Essien:
Season 4: “Mo’s Magic”
FC Lorient 3-1 PSG, Ligue 1
02 October 2021
You know you have a special youngster on your hands when he turns it on against the best. Mohammed Diallo arrived from ASEC at 18-years-old and went straight in the team.
Diallo was electric in this game and the 3-1 scoreline actually flatters PSG. FC Lorient had turned it on and at the heart of the glorious play was this teenager from the Côte d'Ivoire. What a night for the Moustoir!
Season 5: “Ponceau’s Pounce”
FC Lorient 1-0 Manchester United, Europa League Group Stage
22 September 2022
This is proof that I can beat Manchester United! One of the proudest moments in this save was seeing my homegrown youngster, Julien Ponceau, score the winner in a deserved victory for FC Lorient. Quite possibly the biggest victory the Moustoir has ever seen, FC Lorient topped their Europa League group unbeaten with 20 goals scored. Dreamboat:
Season 6: “Se7en Heaven”
FC Lorient 7-1 Standard, Europa League Group Stage
05 October 2023
We beat Chelsea 3-0 at home this season in the Semi Final of the Europa League, but it still wasn’t as complete as the 7-1 mauling of Belgium’s Standard. We were ruthless in this game and a number of FM19 heartthrobs scored: Diallo, Ponceau, Ramírez & Murgia.
Our biggest ever win to give the Lorient fans lasting memories of this incredible Europa League journey…
I can’t believe how quickly FM19 is passing as I approach my last season. For Season 7 I want to switch things up tactically and Episode 35 of the GrassNGear podcast really gave me some food for thought:
Having signed Lovro Majer last January on an 18-month loan deal from Marseille, I already have a ready-made Enganche to pull the strings from AMC. So a potential 4-3-1-2 narrow Enganche formation is on the cards, a system I spoke about in-depth in the above podcast. It may also be helped by the Free Transfer of Miralem Pjanić, who signs from Juventus:
But then the ‘voice of Gear’ is whispering in my head (probably in a lot of other middle-aged manager’s heads too). What about a Double Segundo Volante formation? It wouldn’t be such an overhaul either, I am already playing a 4-3-3 wide…so I could simply drop all MCs back down to the DM slots and run with it.
The Segundo Volante is a role I am yet to try in Football Manager and I am blessed with some great midfield engines (without initially realising that they can all play Segundo Volante so well, as the below screenshot demonstrates showing Key/Preferable SV attributes):
To find out which formation I adopt, and how [un]successful it is, keep up-to-date with the last few blog posts in the Orange is the New Black series over August & September…
As always thanks for reading, sharing & caring,
Achilles Goss / FM Grasshopper