Season 3, Episode 3

Season 3 with Amiens started well. We had the top crowd-to-capacity ratio in Ligue 1, regularly selling out all 12,999 available seats. As such, the board announced plans for a new stadium.
We also received £13m in TV rights, which for a club at this level is massive.

The “season-proper” started with a trip to recently promoted Toulouse. As we were short on players due to injury, I was able to give a start to 17-year-old academy-player Jean-Christophe Leclercq in the Shadow Striker role in our 3-4-2-1 formation. Despite putting up an xG of 1.83, we scraped a 1-0 win thanks to an early goal from debutante midfielders Bulluade

I then played probably the most enthralling game I’ve played in years, in a tough 2-2 draw with rivals Strasbourg. With Leclerq remaining in the line up after an impressive outing in the last game, we found ourselves 0-2 down after just 13 minutes. Making matters worse, left back Yongwa was stretchered off with ankle ligament damage 10 minutes later. 

Regaining our composure and team-spirit we managed to pull one back just before half-time when Bulluade got his second goal in two games, smashing in a low cross from another new signing Busi. After a rousing half-time speech by yours truly, we attacked from the restart and quickly won a penalty when LeClercq was fouled. Bulluade stepped up again and brought us level. 

The rest of the game was classic end-to-end stuff and either team could’ve won the game on a few occasions. It was a promising result against a team who finished 4th last season and qualified for Champions League football. 

Up next came another tough test, this time against Lyon. After Chibozo rattled the bar after just 45 seconds, we struggled against their relentless pressing, under manager Vincent Kompany. Dropping the defensive line gave us a little more time on the ball as we grew into the game and nearly took the lead just before the break when Agouzoul hit the bar with a header from an in-swinging corner. 

Two goals in 5 minutes put us 0-2 down, after goals from Toko Ekambi and Amin Sarr, but we had signs of hope when Manchester City loanee Issa Kabore pulled one back on 80 minutes. 

We kept pushing and got the reward when sub, Hassane Bande capitalised on a defensive mixup and scored the equaliser deep into injury time on 94 minutes. 

Exactly the fighting spirit I wanted from this team which I hope could surpass the Boards target of avoiding relegation and actually see up pushing for the European places.

Our good run continued with a 2-1 win over FC Nantes with Bulluade getting on the scoresheet yet again, along with a first goal of the season from Ciss.

The first defeat of the new season came in game five, a visit to Montpellier. An early goal from Wahi saw the home team establish their dominance, although not necessarily through ability alone. They’d clearly marked out Bulluade as our main threat and I was forced to sub him on 34 minutes after he’d been relentlessly fouled, and subsequently injured, throughout the game so far. 

Mavididi added their second with a strong header, with Yongwa pulling one back a minute later… but we couldn’t find the equaliser.

With Bulluade injured and Onana suspended, I was forced to adapt to a 3-4-1-1 formation for our local-derby against Reims. After going into the break tied with a goal each, young striker Ilenikhena once again gave us the lead on 62 minutes before transfer-target Noah-Jean Holm scored a looping header on 80 minutes to pull them level. Luckily, just 3 minutes later, Ilenikhena struck again to give us a 3-2 win. 

Six games played, 3 wins, 2 draws and one narrow loss, and sitting pretty in 4th place.
Unfortunately that was as good as it got.

With a tough run of fixtures ahead we were struggling with injuries. Bulluade, after 4 goals and 1 assist in his first 4 and a half games, was injured after Montpellier’s hit job. He was clearly our key player so far and made the 3-4-2-1 box formation tick. Gael Kakuta was also injured and Habib Keita was struggling with niggling issues. This effectively put 3 of the midfield 4 out of action. 

I managed to make some transfer-deadline day moves, picking up promising youngster Lesley Ugochukwu on loan from Rennes with a £2.7m optional fee. He’ll mainly provide cover but I’m excited to see how he can develop. 


Next up comes a player I’m really excited about.
Former Real Madrid youngster Cesar Gelabert should be able to fill either of the attacking midfield roles. He joined for a deal worth £4.9 million. 

Due to a quick turn-around in games, a rotated team set up in a 5-4-1 came up undeservedly short in a tough, 0-1 defeat to OGC Nice. This set us up for a game against the mighty PSG just 3 days later. And what a game it was!

Being able to switch back to the 3-4-2-1, we were able to make it very difficult for PSG to create any chances through the middle. Unfortunately they took the lead through Messi on 23 minutes with what was only their 2nd shot. Had we been more clinical, we could’ve been two goals up by then.

We kept up the pressure and it paid off when Bulluade, (briefly) back from injury, dispossessed Martin Odegaard and played a quick pass to Ilenikhena who smashed the ball in from 20 yards. He makes such a difference when he plays. 

PSG retook the lead on 50 minutes with a powerful header from Kimpembe before Ilenikhena equalised with another lovely goal. Ofcourse, Bulluade got the assist. 

We nearly grabbed a late winner when Fofana hit the bar with a header in the 93rd minute but it wasn’t to be and we sent PSG packing with just a point. 

A very impressive performance with the 3-4-2-1 showing how good it can be. 

The midfield then took a double hit when both Keita and Ugochukwu were injured in training and a switch back to a 5-4-1 was required against Rennes.

We were absolutely battered. 2-4 was flattering and our two goals only came late on when they’d taken their foot off the pedal and were daydreaming about their evening plans.  

Still unable to play 3-4-2-1, I reverted to my old favourite, the 3-5-2 for a game against Monaco, but again we were outclassed and fell to a 0-2 defeat. We also fell short against RC Lens, with a 79th minute Jakobs goal enough to seal the loss.

We managed to put a stop to the losing streak with a very dull, uninspiring 0-0 draw against Bordeaux and then made it SEVEN games without a win against Marseilles, falling to a 0-2 defeat. It was a closer game and we missed THREE sitters in the final 10 minutes.

We had now slipped down to 12th and with a game against 9th placed Brest – who haven’t lost in 6 games – coming up, I held a team meeting. Challenging them to break out of this bad run went down well and spirits were raised. 

Thankfully we were able to switch back to the favoured 3-4-2-1 and ended up 2-0 winners thanks to a brace by Ciss. This was followed up with a 0-1 defeat to struggling Lille, with Keita and Yongwa missing through injury.


Seventh placed Troyes were swept aside 2-0 with goals from Gelabert and Fofana and then an interesting inbox message arrived…

I’d been offered a job interview.

Normally, I’d have declined immediately. 

However this is a team I’ve fancied managing in the last few editions of Football Manager but always thought it wouldn’t be enough of a challenge.

But now, they find themselves languishing in 15th position. Five places behind Amiens

I tentatively accept the interview invitation. 

The days tick by and eventually I get offered the job.

I accept.

I left Amiens after two and a half seasons in charge.

A promotion back to Ligue 1, followed by a mid-table finish.

I guided young striker George Ilenikhena through to the first team, where he scored 9 goals in 15 games last season and so far this season has 4 goals in 9 games. 

I’ve bought in two exciting attacking midfielders in Bulluade (4 goals and 4 assists in 11 games) and Gelabert (7.10 average rating since joining. 

Habib Keita and Junior Onana are both young, powerful defensive midfielders who are performing above the league average for most statistics and in defence, Formose Mendy, is being watched by top clubs across Europe.

Despite the dip in form this season, I leave the team in 10th place with my head held high and looking forward to a new challenge at the next level.

Next stop, with the opportunity to play European football… it’s off to Lyon.

 

Author

  • Daniel Gear

    Dan Gear is a vibrant member of the Football Manager (FM) community, renowned for his engaging content and insightful tutorials. He illuminates complex FM concepts on "View From The Touchline" and shares engaging narratives through his unique European Journeyman save reveals. Dan's collaborative spirit shines in partnerships with fellow creators like FM Stag, unraveling new FM features. He's a co-host of the engaging "Grass N Gear" podcast, making the FM experience more enjoyable for many. With a blend of humor, expertise, and a knack for community engagement, Dan Gear's contributions significantly enrich the Football Manager community, making him a cherished figure among enthusiasts.

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