We’ve all read the stories of those who update on their saves and have miraculous success with their clubs. “I can’t believe it, we won 19 promotions on the trot and I won the FA Cup with non-league Village Green Rovers. Isn’t it amazing?!” Well, no. We all know what you’ve been doing.
A sad by-product so many obvious cheaters is that when I read a story of great success I’m immediately suspicious. Thank god, therefore, that Petr Uchio can attest that this season has come about fair and square. As difficult to believe as that may seem…
So we got promoted… by the narrowest of margins.
It was a phenomenal end to a season which started in difficult circumstances. We didn’t have much cash but an unexpected bonus arrived in the shape of some significant tv money and the board gave me £800k transfer budget with which to survive.
With the success of the 3-1-4-1-1, it seemed like a sensible decision to continue to build the squad on the same basis.
Actually spending money on a player was a novelty but Nnanna, as detailed in the last update, looked like a real prospect. Unfortunately, he tore his calf muscle early in the season and would be out for 4 months, which has seemingly taken a big hit out of his potential.
In the last update, I’d said Nnanna was the only thing giving me any real optimism for the season so his injury was particularly bad news. What I hadn’t banked on, though, was the extraordinary partnership of two supposedly average players.
Now be honest. Take a look at those players and tell me how many goals or assists you think they would get in Ligue 2. Against the likes of Nantes, Stade de Reims, Metz, Lens and Auxerre.
Boudaud ended up with 7 goals and 8 assists. A decent return. Tamboura, on the other hand, scored 22 goals in 27 matches.
In many ways, I just don’t get it. Yes, Tamboura has pace. And Boudaud has the striker on his ‘favoured personnel’ list (but not vice versa). But that’s it. The tactic suits Tamboura’s strength but that doesn’t seem enough for such a return. Regardless, by the time we hit a sticky patch in March, our form had taken us to the top of the league:
After 4-1 and 3-1 losses to Evian and La Berrichone within the first 3 games of the season, our defence started to improve but Julio Tavares, the Cape Verde striker I’d signed to replace Tamboura, just didn’t seem to be doing the business. After losing meekly at home to Reims, I thought we may be suffering from team cohesion problems after signing 10 players in the summer.
Tamboura and Boudaud were re-instated and the pair scored all our goals to bring us 10 points from the next 4 matches. This spurred us onto that table-topping run which was to end with a now cliché’d FM slump through March and April. That slump threatened to de-rail our promotion bid completely. Our defence continued to perform but we scored just once in 5 games, one win and three draws winning us 6 points that would leave us needing a win on the final day to go up.
Fitting, really, that it would be a Tamboura hat-trick that would seal it. It would take him to a nice round 50 goals in the last 2 seasons. 50 goals that have almost single-handedly won us two promotions and will see us compete against PSG and Lyon next year… bollocks.
Half-way through the season, the chairman must have realised he was on to a good thing. Releasing more funds, I was given a £2m transfer budget but decided against using much of it, instead strengthening a couple of key areas for the promotion push and arranging some tasty Bosmans.
The problem is, though, that I didn’t really expect to go up and so my signings were of Ligue 2 standard, at best.
Thomasson is a fine example. A decent player and a good prospect but good enough to face off against Sven Bender and Asier Illarramendi at the Parc de Princes? Not on your life.
We will go down this season. Of that there is no doubt.
Promotion actually may do the club more harm than good. With the safety regulations that are in place for the top leagues, we have been forced into 2 stadium expansions in 2 years. Not only will this mean that we’ve actually have played only 4 home games in 2 seasons, it also means we’re saddled with the following debt:
£63.5k a month is manageable in Ligue 1, to be fair. Further down the ladder, £762k a year may be problematic. Thankfully, they are long, long term loans and it hasn’t stopped the board being generous with their budgets – as you can see over £6m for this season. The annual salary started off as a paltry £60k per week, or 20% of Zlatan Ibrahimovic… So Zlat, if you’ll forgive me.
No problem, I’ll just take that transfer budget and dump it into the wage pot… or not. For reasons that surpass understanding, the “board will not allow you to increase the wage budget as they feel it is high enough already”. This ludicrous situation persisted until around the start of August when I could finally ask them to increase the salary cap and play around with the budgets a little.
To be fair, I didn’t miss out on many targets and there are plenty of options on the free transfer market that will be able to strengthen what is a ludicrously poor team for this level. One signing I’m particularly pleased with is that of Portuguese midfielder David Simão – easily the best player to ever pull on a Dunkerque shirt:
Despite such signings, the team comparison reports make for sorry reading. See slideshow below.
Frankly, that’s just depressing. 10 ’20th’s… at least we’re really aggressive!
The 3-1-4-1-1 has got us this far, can it keep us in Ligue 1? I have my doubts. Although I think I’ll stick with it against sides that play with 2 strikers, it’s almost nailed on that any side which plays with a single striker and advanced wingers / inside forwards is going to completely destroy me on the flanks. Therefore, I’ve also drafted up a 4-1-4-1 that I hope can at least keep us from being embarrassed.
And what about Tamboura and Boudaud? Can they cut it in the big time? Well Tamboura scored 2 on our Ligue 1 debut so maybe but almost certainly not is the smart answer. The trick must surely be to keep it respectable. Keep my job whilst building the squad up a little and aim to yo-yo straight back up.
Relegation wage drop clauses are a must and more young players in the mould of Thomasson who will be doing the business season after next. Surely this season is just a write-off? How many points can we actually get from this league? I’ll be astounded if we get more than 20. Your guess? Well here’s a handy poll for you to have your say.
Until next time (and Petr Uchio’s third update), spare a thought for the season of utter destruction that is coming my way 😦