And so we’ve reached the end of the second season so it’s time to reflect on how we’ve performed. It’s been a long old season as we’ve competed in five competitions and played some 57 games. There’s been plenty of ups and downs with some really promising performances and not a few rage-inducing moments.
So this post will be a simple one really and will detail how we’ve done over the season, what we’ve done well and should take forward into next year whilst also covering what we’ve not done well and should look to improve upon over the summer.
Whilst a lot of that may concern the striker position, I feel like I’ve talked that to death and you can find the details of that particular issue here. For everything else… read on.
First things first – the league.
I think we’ll file that under the AAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH category. Absolutely gutted. When you see our final fixtures (to the right), you’ll understand just how frustrating that finish is.
We’d left ourselves with a two-point lead with two games left after a cracking 1-1 draw at home to L’Om. We were the better side and really should have won that game, particularly as the penalty they got was scandalous. We then conspired to draw the next game despite utterly dominating and then lose away to Guingamp by missing three absolute sitters in the first half and then bottling it in the second. Marseille lost their final game away at Lorient, just their second loss of the season and yet we couldn’t take advantage. Shambolic.
Lyon, Nice, Ajaccio, Brestois and Lille all sacked their managers after poor finishes.
The other competitions weren’t much better. In truth, we were incredibly unlucky against Roma. We shouldn’t have lost the home game and gave them all sorts of problems when we went for it at the Stadio Olimpico.
The Coupe de France performances weren’t as heroic, though, as we struggled past Championat side Besancon early in the competition and then crashed out to Lens in the quarters. The Coupe de la Ligue was much better as we lost out in an epic semi-final against Lyon, scoring in the last minute of normal time to force the added period, where we scored against within minutes before getting FM’d by an undeserving Lyon side.
Looking back at it now, we have to consider that a reasonably successful season as we’ve definitely progressed from last year. We’ve secured a place in the Champions League groups for next season and ran an incredibly strong Marseille side very, very close. To give you an idea of how good L’Om are at the moment:
So we must have been doing something right along the way. Well our defence was pretty good. There was the early season blip thanks to a series of injuries but my first choice defence did very well once they got a consistent run in the team.
Slight concerns there over the number of mistakes from Tabanou and Congré’s heading ratio but all round a decent showing, although we did miss my pre-season target of conceding less that 20 league goals by 6.
Similarly, I’m happy with the general performance of the midfield. They provide great defensive cover and perform pretty much exactly how I would like them to offensively:
My main concern there is that Sissoko’s goal-scoring dried up after I asked him to unlearn the “shoots from distance” PPM. I wanted to control it myself using the long shots slider but he hasn’t been as effective since.
N’Zonzi, on the other hand, has been an absolute beast and a bargain at £4.7m. He protects the back four superbly as evidence by his ridiculously high 256 interceptions and is always available as a simple out-ball for the offensive players, helping to maintain possession and attacking pressure.
Up front, on the other hand, is where we’ve struggled. I targetted 65 goals in the league and we only scored 56. Umut Bulut was our leading scorer with 20 for the season and 13 in the league; a respectable performance but any title challenging side is going to need their primary goalscorer to get more than that.
As I’ve said above, the striker problems are well documented but I also feel that we’re not getting enough from the inside forwards. 20 goals between the 3 of them over 57 games isn’t good enough unless the striker is bagging 40 per campaign and something needs to change.
Therefore it will come as no surprise that my focus over the summer will be on the front three, both tactically and in terms of personnel. I’ll also be considering moving one of the DMC’s into the orthodox MC line, as was suggested by Lee Scott in his excellent review of my tactic on FM Analysis but my primary focus will be on trying to find the balance between retaining possession to take advantage of the support from the wide DM’s and fullbacks, and getting the front three into the space they require to get on the scoresheet themselves.
I’m hoping the second placed finish will give me some boost of reputation as the players still seem to be having trouble motivating themselves to play for me which is really causing me issues in the run-in. We’ve bottled in dramatically in both seasons thus far and, quite frankly, it’s beginning to get on my tits.
So just a short update today whilst I get on with the job of trying to get us to score more goals. The search for a new striker is particularly key and is giving unparalleled scope for my procrastination to flourish. Stracqualursi, by the way, played 14 times for L’Om (11 starts), scoring twice and assisting twice. I doubt they’ll pick up the future fee option, more’s the pity.