Toulouse – 2013 / 14 Treble Success

It’s been an historic season in Toulouse with the club not only winning their first ever Ligue 1 title but doing so with a record high number of points and winning both domestic cups to complete an unprecedented trophy haul for Le Téfécé.

As I alluded to in the last update, however, I’m not feeling as satisfied as I perhaps should be as the league ended up being a formality with our main rivals, Olympic Marseille, hitting some catastrophic form in the second half of the season and not only failing to challenge us for the title but in fact being overtaken by Lyon and losing an automatic Champions League slot.

It’s always nice to win stuff though and I reckon we fully deserved our success. We’d probably have won the title anyway as we beat Lyon’s 2006 record of 84 points gained. This is how we did it…

Like I said, it ended up being embarrassingly easy. We even had the breathing space to take just 1 point from our last two games and still win the title by a massive 10 points. The only thing that truly irritated me about those last two games was that it meant we failed to meet my target of conceding less than 20 goals over the season. We did, however, meet the 65 goals scored target although we really should have scored more.

Following up on the example in the last post, this is our last game of the season. As with so many others games, we created plenty of chances and failed to take them all. Although Fletcher is probably the biggest single culprit, I’ve also noticed that a large portion of these failed chances fall to our advancing DMC’s so it will be worth considering attributes such as finishing and composure if I’m looking at new signings in this area.

Having said that, I really can’t be too disappointed with the performance of the squad as a whole. As well as the excellent results in the league, we also won both domestic cups in dramatic style.

Although the Coupe de France final was a regulation win over a relatively poor Nice side, the semi-final in that tournament and the final of the Coupe de la Ligue were anything but. The games actually fell back-to-back in the calendar and as I was chatting with FM Analysis’ Lee Scott on Steam at the time, I personally blame him for the fact that the games were so mental.

The first game was the Coupe de France semi-final where we dominated the first half without being able to score before one of my midfielders, Etienne Didot, was sent off. Things got worse just 15 minutes later when my left-back Klaus Franz was also shown the red. Down to 9 men and with those that remained tiring quickly, we managed to see it out into extra time before Havre finally took the lead from a corner. The fact that they needed a set piece even with a two-man advantage shows how solid we were defensively. Just 4 minutes later we had equalised with a scorcher from Neri Cardozo and we took to penalties where Ali Ahamada stepped up to the plate, saving two, and we progressed to the final.

Ahamada was again the hero in the Coupe de la Ligue final, this time saving FOUR penalties in the shootout. We had to put up with another numerical disadvantage to get that far as Moussa Sissoko was the villain this time round, collecting two yellow cards within 45 seconds of each other. We still dominated, though, and were unlucky not to win the game in normal time. Ahamada ensured we wouldn’t rue the missed chances and completed the domestic clean sweep.

The treble-winning squad

Happy with the high level of domestic bias in that squad as well having both a Scot and an Austrian!! 🙂 It’s difficult to pick out either players of the season or areas for improvement but I’ll try…

Players of the Season

3. Ali Ahamada – goalkeeper

Not just for his penalty heroics either. He’s been magnificent all season as is evidenced by his quite remarkable 30 clean sheets in 51 games and average goals against of just 0.56. The difference between him and any second choice ‘keeper that I’ve been forced into using is exponential. I’m truly surprised that I haven’t heard more of him around “the scene” and that more people don’ t recommend him as a signing. Personally, I think he’s fantastic.

2. Steven N’Zonzi – deep-lying playmaker

What a player this lad is. Another one that really should have a bigger reputation amongst FMers. Just look at those physical attributes!!

He’s perfect for the deep-lying playmaker position that I want him to play. As well as the key possession statistics such as an 86% pass completion rate and 9 assists, he’s made 197 interceptions over the course of the season and made 51 key headers in helping out the most stingy defence in the country. Wonderful player.

1. Roman Bezus – targetman

It’s a little obvious to select your top scorer as your player of the season but Bezus, alongside the slightly less impressive Fletcher, has settled my striking problems that have been well documented and really helped to tie the entire formation together.

He’s also starting to step up in the big games which was my worry about him early in the season. For example, we played Marseille with  6 games left and l’Om had to win to have any chance of retaining their title. Bezus started, scored two fantastic goals and lead us to a 4-0 victory that more or less sealed the championship.

Areas for improvement

I’ve already said that improved finishing from the box-to-box DMC’s would be an advantage; but with Capoue and Sissoko absolutely dominating in that area then this will be a long term ploy and not something I’ll look to implement over the summer unless the chairman sells one of them from under me.

Right-back, however, is another story. I’ve been trying to develop Serge Aurier into my first choice attacking right fullback. He’s had plenty of game time with 43 starts this season and 40 the year before. His defensive attributes have developed very well and if I just used him in a conservative role then I’d be very happy but both my fullbacks are asked to bomb on and provide the offensive and creative width on their respective flank. Tabanou has been an utterly brilliant job on his flank, here’s the comparison between the pair’s attributes.

Tabanou is showing clear advantages in crossing, dribbling, first touch, passing, technique, creativity, flair and off the ball – all of which are a legacy of his original role as a left winger and will aid him in offensive duties.

All of which has resulted in the following differences between their performances on the pitch:

7 more assists despite playing 6 fewer games. Perversely, Aurier actually has a higher success rate from his crosses but has made 94 fewer than Tabanou – I think this is partly down to FM’s in-built left-sided bias but also down to Tabanou’s improved movement and ability to beat a man.

All of this is just a roundabout way of saying that I’ll be on the lookout for a more offensively suited French right back.

I’ve also pre-arranged a £2.2m deal for Ajax youngster Hennie van Schoonhoven. I know he isn’t French and his finishing attribute doesn’t support my earlier argument but he is quite simply fantastic and will be developed to fill the central DMC playmaking role, thereby mitigating against his low finishing because he’s unlikely to get anywhere near the box.

The only other potential planned movement is another attempt to sign Lens youngster Jean Marie Dussaut. I’ve mentioned him a few times since he appeared in the game as one of the best 15 year olds that I’ve ever seen. With his club being relegated this season, there’s a decent chance that I might be able to pick him up on the cheap; although with Bezus, Fletcher and Stefanik already available up front then he may not be needed. Still, it would be nice to have a French striker to pick from.

There will likely be a short break from this game, though, because I have some tactical posts that I want to make which will likely take some time for me to produce. Once I get back to the game, though, I’ll be looking to confirm our status as the best team in France and look to continue our excellent progression in the Champions League, where Bayern defeated us in the quarters this year.

Allez le Téfécé!!!

2 thoughts on “Toulouse – 2013 / 14 Treble Success”

  1. You did a great job here, happy to see that Bezus finally solved your scoring problems and N’Zonzi is obviously a factor in that role.
    Isimat-Mirin and Johan Martial are usually my favorite central defenders when I manage in France.

    1. I knew Martial from the Nantes succession game I did on TD but he’s only back-up. Isimat-Mirin isn’t a player that I’ve come across before but I really like the look of him. He’s made a couple of goal-conceding mistakes this season but he’s just settling in so he’ll improve.

      You’re right on N’Zonzi. He’s an absolute don. I’m a big fan of physically dominant defensive midfielders and he’s got the passing ability to be an effective pivot for the rest of the team when we’re attacking. Man crush alert.

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