Previously on Orange Is The New Black, FC Lorient opened the doors of the brand-new FC Lorient Stadium and adopted a new 4-3-1-2 DM Narrow formation.
Choose a lower league job, choose a one-club career, choose Africa, choose a fucking big Striker, choose double Segundo Volantes, ASEC youth graduates and Academy Newgens, choose red wine, high cholesterol and a pacemaker, choose fixed-interest stadium repayments, choose a Ligue 2 play-off win, choose a tracksuit and matching baseball cap, choose no MOTY awards, choose Guerreiro’s Gift, choose a three piece suit on hire-purchase for the 2 cup finals you'll go on to lose, choose Alphonso Davies as your highest earner and seeing him break his leg on his pre-season debut, choose sitting on the bench watching mind-numbing spirit-crushing draws, watching FC Bayern recall Alphonso Davies on his second loan after his first fucking goal for the club, choose rotting away at the end if it all, pissing your last in a miserable retirement home in the arsehole of France, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked-up managerial replacement you have spawned to replace yourself.
Choose a glass ceiling. Choose Goss”
The league results in 2025 were enough to convincingly see us finish 3rd in the league, a ridiculous 17 points ahead of Olympique de Marseille. I previously spoke last time out on how the new 4-3-1-2 DM Narrow was earning us narrow clean sheet wins, and the second half of the season was no different. We ended up with 21 clean sheets in the league (55% of domestic games), which has resulted in FC Lorient’s highest ever league finish and a record points haul. It also sees us qualify for the Champions League, with the 3rd place going into the Group Stage for 2025/26.
I was recently asked by @FMEadster over on FM Slack as to whether I would have changed anything in this save. I’m not really one to dwell on mistakes, but I certainly feel that this formation could be refined and perfected with another couple of transfer windows; suggesting I maybe should have switched from 4-3-3 to 4-3-1-2 sooner than I did (my last season). Perhaps a long-term Anchorman to replace Joshua Guilavogui and a more creative Deep Lying Forward would see us reach new heights.
But we can’t change the past, and I won’t be doing another season. In essence, it’s a bit of a bittersweet ending in FM19. I end trophyless and reluctant to enjoy the fruits of my labour…the Champions League.
2025 Europa League
We had another glorious European run this season, but sadly the away goals run came into effect Vs eventual champions Schalke 04. The German side beating Dortmund 3-0 in their home stadium in an all-German Final. Wunderbar.
I believe ‘FM Drawhopper’ was a term first coined by @FM_Samo during the early part of my FM19 save. Draws became my speciality and they continued to be a thorn in my side throughout the seven in-game years of my save.
The Europa League Semi Finals were no different. Both legs were defined by our inability to contain a peak Dejan Joveljic, who tormented 35-year old Mamadou Sakho in both games. The 2nd leg 104th minute decisive equaliser came from a towering Victor Lindelöf header…who wonderfully converted a corner. It was a deflating moment as any in FM19 for me…
The Goss Years
Now it’s time to take a look back on this save as a whole, to say “Merci Goss” for the shared laughs we’ve had over Football Manager 2019. I feel it’s given closure to the lost FM14 save I discussed in my intro blog post back in November. I finally got Les Merlus their new stadium, and although I won’t see them hit the heights of the Champions League like I did back then, this FM Save was different to the one 6 years ago. We had the joys of a promotion challenge, the dreaded Ligue 1 Promotion Play-Offs, the 7th placed finishes, a Coupe de la Ligue Final drubbing and some magical Europa League runs.
Filling the void after my FM18 ‘Return to La Plata’ series was always going to be ridiculously hard. But I’m happy that this save maintained my interest for the best part of 10 months. I want to thank everybody who read and shared these pieces, and to those that got in contact. I’ve been fortunate to receive some nice messages over the last year from real-life Lorient fans, which has made ‘Orange is the New Black’ even more enjoyable to capture and bring to life in blog form.
Let’s take a look back…
Season 1 - 2018/19
It's funny looking back and remembering the early days of a save. I completely forgot I had such an awful pre-season in terms of results…only finding my first win against lower league Belgian side RC Mechelen (two days before the Ligue 2 season started)! We started Ligue 2 well though: 10 wins, 8 draws and just the opening day loss Vs Le Havre. We also 'found Fonsinho' who I signed from ASEC in January 2019, a club I would go back to for players a number of times in my save. His impact, certainly later on in the season, repaid the €230k outlay.
With 9 games of the league season to go, I took a short break (see Interlude)…until the attacking movement in FM19 forwards improved via a patch. Before returning with Iacta alea est, which featured those glorious Full Match Play Off Finals. The away leg Vs Lens in the Stade Félix Bollaert-Delelis played host to one of Football Manager's magical moments.
We were up by the skin of our teeth, Achilles Goss style!
League Finish: 4th [Promoted via the Play Offs]
Stats [Goals/Assists/Av.Rating]: Gaëtan Courtet (22 goals), Jimmy Cabot (13 assists), Vincent Le Goff (7.17)
MVP: Gaëtan Courtet - for all the problems I had with Striker movement, Gaëtan still ended up with a tally of 22 goals. Hardly missing a game, he led the line and scored some crucial goals. His most important being the 90+5 equaliser Vs Lens in the Play Offs.
Season 2 - 2019/20
It was maybe a risky move not to change much for my inaugural season in Ligue 1, but I kept faith with the team that got us promoted. The move paid off…we were top half all season and finished in 7th place. It also kick-started my FM19 Holy Grail: the Ligue 1 Manager of The Year award. I thought we did enough to win it, but the AI gave it to Ole Gunnar Solskjær who achieved 6th place with Lille 🙃
Financially we were struggling though. In order to stop us getting in debt, and build on the 7th place, I cashed out on the 20% next transfer of ex-Lorient defender Raphaël Guerreiro. It kept us afloat and I was able to recruit a decent full back (Darko Todorovic) and recruit a more comprehensive scouting team.
League Finish: 7th
Stats [Goals/Assists/Av.Rating]: Gaëtan Courtet (18 goals), Fonsinho (11 assists), Gaëtan Courtet (7.09)
MVP: Fonsinho - Courtet & Fonsinho continued their blossoming relationship from Ligue 2 into Ligue 1. Fonsinho was undoubtedly a raw talent who was brilliant as a Winger on Attack duty. His 18-month spell in Brittany was soon to end, but I can’t imagine where we’d have ended up in our first Ligue 1 season without his goals and assists.
Season 3 - 2020/21
Fonsinho’s 8 goals and 10 assists in his debut Ligue 1 season caught the attention of the Bundesliga, notably newly promoted FC Nürnberg who were happy to part €13.25m for his services. Finally Goss had the money to sign some ‘fibra’ and in came Enzo Crivelli & Assane Dioussé who both went on to have solid careers with Les Merlus.
We once again finished 7th in the league, and in an attempt to not become stagnant, I dubbed top 6 and European qualification my ‘glass ceiling’ (noun: an unacknowledged barrier to advancement in a profession). So, I delved deep into the finances at FC Lorient in order to re-assess our approach moving into Season 4…
League Finish: 7th
Stats [Goals/Assists/Av.Rating]: Enzo Crivelli (14 goals), Julien Ponceau (8 assists), Julien Ponceau 7.19
MVP: Julien Ponceau - Ponceau was the first Academy player to break through under Goss. Blessed with a great first touch, decision making and speed, Ponceau was re-trained from a central player to a wide player, and he replaced Fonsinho as our 1st choice right-sided Winger from July 2020
Season 4 - 2021/22
A few bits of shrewd recruitment saw us climb the table and threaten to break the glass ceiling. Alessandro Murgia joined initially on loan and hit the ground running, a fabulous midfield general with an eye for a goal as our Central Midfielder on Attack. A few tweaks upfront saw our attack sparkle: Diallo-Zirkzee-Ponceau (with an average age of 20-years old) firing FC Lorient into Europe for the first time since 2002/03.
The ceiling was smashed and with it Chairman Loïc Fery announced a new 25k capacity stadium to arrive in 2024! 🏟 But there was still room for some disappointment, FC Lorient went on to lose a Coupe de la Ligue final to Marseille in the Vélodrome, 3-0 the scoreline.
League Finish: 5th
Stats [Goals/Assists/Av.Rating]: Mohamed Diallo (16 goals), Joshua Zirkzee (12 assists), Julien Ponceau 7.36
MVP: Joshua Zirkzee - it was a shrewd move to bring in a 20-year-old Joshua Zirkzee from FC Bayern on a two-year loan deal. At 193cm high, Joshua had both the physical and technical presence to lead the line as our Deep Lying Forward. Creating and scoring to see us qualify for Europe.
Season 5 - 2022/23
Our 5th season was exciting, not only were we finally in Europe; we were also generating off field profits with lucrative TV revenue and prize money.
For the first time in my save, I was able to sign an established name, Mamadou Sakho who joined on a Free Transfer from Manchester United (a team we beat that season at home in the Europa League). The Lorient Express had arrived!
League Finish: 6th
Stats [Goals/Assists/Av.Rating]: Mohamed Diallo (24 goals), Vincent Le Goff (20 assists), Mohamed Diallo 7.31
MVP: Vincent Le Goff - Vincent Le Goff is the one player that was ever-present in the Goss era. In the twilight of his advancing years he put in his best season, 20 assists as a Wing Back on Attack. He built a good relationship with the season’s top scorer, Mo Diallo, on the left-side of the Lorient attack.
Season 6 - 2023/24
Season 6 saw a TWENTY game unbeaten record in the Europa League, as we waved off the Stade du Moustoir in style.
But there was heartbreak once more. We led the Europa League final against Manchester United…only to see it slip away. A Mounrinho masterclass: FC Lorient 1-2 Manchester United.
League Finish: 4th
Stats [Goals/Assists/Av.Rating]: Mohamed Diallo (26 goals), Gustavo Ramírez (13 assists), Gustavo Ramírez 7.28
MVP: Mohamed Diallo - how do you replace a gem like Fonsinho? Well, you go back to ASEC and recruit their next Ivorian prodigy. Mo Diallo joined as an 18-year-old in 2020, and three years later he was one of the most prolific forwards in Europe. Played as an Inside Forward, Mo would have his best season…26 goals in all competitions as we finished 4th and made the Europa League Final.
Season 7 - 2024/25
Blog Posts: “Boring, Boring Lorient”
I believe that the decision to switch from a 4-3-3 wide to a 4-3-1-2 narrow was the reason why Season 7 was our strongest domestically. 21 clean sheets in 38 league games was vindication for upsetting the previous balance of the team. For example, Mo Diallo was no longer an Inside Forward on the left…our top scorer in the last two seasons would have to learn a new central role (Shadow Striker). Our two Italian midfielders (Murgia & Valzania) would have to play a deeper Segundo Volante role too, and this all took a while to gel. But in those transitional moments, we were still able to grind out wins and it’s by far the strongest FC Lorient side of the Goss era.
Despite the newfound ruthlessness, we were able to have some romance as Vincent Aboubakar re-joined FC Lorient on loan after a decade away in Portugal and Turkey. The Cameroonian became the 14 African player recruited by Achilles Goss under the ‘Achilles Africa’ recruitment model. Aboubakar would have a modest loan spell with 8 goals and 6 assists in 31 games.
League Finish: 3rd
Stats [Goals/Assists/Av.Rating]: Slavko Vucetic (15 goals), Nivaldo (17 assists), Nivaldo 7.45
MVP: Nivaldo - There’s a reason why 20-year-old Nivaldo achieved our highest season-long Average Rating in this save. He dominated the left-hand side of the pitch in our new narrow 4-3-1-2 formation. He racked up 17 assists in his debut season as I re-trained him from a Winger to a Left Back.
Club Growth (2018-2025)
Did not fancy reading all of that above? Then click on the image below to see how I did over 7 years in FM19, includes some high-level financials:
Some thoughts about the club growth:
The closing balance of the last three seasons has been extremely healthy, FC Lorient are able to invest in the playing squad with considerable flexibility (demonstrated by a net spend of €18m in 2024/25).
Prize money has contributed to record revenue in the previous two years, the Champions League would be a further boost in 2025/26.
The playing staff’s average age is currently 25, so there is hope that FC Lorient will remain competitive in Ligue 1 for a number of years.
The new 25k all-seater stadium, with good corporate facilities, boosts FC Lorient’s financial sustainability a little more than the previous stadium would.
Personally, I think it is too easy to make money in FM, as you can sign a ridiculous amount of unwanted AI players and then sell on for big profits a year or two later. So for FM19, I’ve tried to be more realistic with my approach and overall I am happy with the off-field developments we’ve seen over the seven year period.
On the field you can see that we have been really progressive in terms of the league finishes, and we have been surprisingly strong in Europe. The only blemish is my poor record in the domestic cups, with only one French Cup Quarter Final to my name and a solitary Coupe de la Ligue Final appearance. C’est la vie!
Favourite 3 players
There are too many great players to name from this save, but the three guys below are in my top 3 for different reasons. Honourable mentions must go to Academy players such as Alex Rolland and Julien Ponceau, who are probably unlucky not to feature.
Fonsinho (2019-2020) - 15 goals and 13 assists in 57 games.
I only managed Fonsinho for 18 months in FM19…but he was the first African success story at FC Lorient. Without his form in the Play Offs, I doubt we would have been promoted. His sale to the Bundesliga also enabled me to establish FC Lorient as a Ligue 1 team. The Fons!
Alessandro Murgia (2020-present) - 52 goals and 13 assists in 179 games.
I got laughed at when I signed Murgia for €1m on loan in my FM Slack channel, due to our precarious financial position in 2020. But after his loan spell, Murgia decided to join us permanently and he has been a mainstay in our team for the last 4 seasons. Both his output and his performances have been great in the orange & black.
Mohamed Diallo (2020-present) - 79 goals and 31 assists in 177 games.
Mo Diallo is quite good at football isn’t he? It’s romantic that I found a better Ivorian to replace Fonsinho, and to make it even more surreal: Mo Diallo joined FC Lorient on a Free Transfer! He became homegrown with us too, made in African and polished in France. Mo Diallo is the epitome of one of my FM19 ambitions (as laid out in my opening post):
Well, another reason for choosing FC Lorient is that they have experience of recruiting and developing African players. For those that do not know, due to the post-colonial links to the continent…France does not restrict the number of African players playing in its league. So, this is a continent I want to scout and use for player recruitment & development.
So, FM19 for me ends trophyless, with a record of two major finals played and two major finals lost. No Manager Of The Year Awards either, much to the laughter of my close FM ‘friends’. But I have vehemently enjoyed this save, and when you take a look back…you realise that ‘the journey’ is what it’s all about.
Achilles Goss has no dramatic ending. He will not be invading Africa, or committing bank heists. He will simply drift off into retirement and it’s our memories of him as a Football Manager that will prevail. I would like to thank you again for reading and experiencing this save with me.
There is one last post planned in the Orange is the New Black series: a 5 year projection of FC Lorient without Goss, as I sim to take a look at how good/bad the AI does without Goss. How will FC Lorient do in the Champions League? Will their stadium grow? Where will Mo Diallo end up? These are questions I hope to answer next time out on the blog…
As always thanks for reading, sharing & caring,
Achilles Goss / FM Grasshopper