As I started my time with Olympique Lyonnais, I had two main objectives:

Improve the passing to allow us to dominate possession against most teams in Ligue 1

Tighten up the leaky defence, which was currently the second worst in the division.

My first game in charge was a 1-1 draw against Troyes (7th) thanks to a late goal by sub-Lacazette. As expected we looked very toothless in attack. The final game of 2024 was a 3-1 cup win over Chateauroux.

Thankfully, the transfer window opened and I was able to make the first signing for Lyon, albeit on a loan.

Coming from Roma, where he scored 12 Serie A goals last season, is Antonio Sanabria. A very well-rounded striker who, whilst not amazing, is better than what we currently have. As an added bonus, he’s on an expiring contract so if he impresses I should be able to sign him to a permanent contract.

He made an immediate impact too, scoring two debut goals against Valenciennes and after a 0-0 bore draw with Toulouse he bagged another in a 1-2 defeat against my old club Amiens – and I wasn’t even upset when Lacazette’s injury-time equaliser was disallowed!

The first Europa League game ended in a 5-0 win over Dinamo Batumi (Sanabria hattrick) and we followed up a 1-0 win over Strasbourg (where we played with 10 men for 86 minutes) with an impressive 1-1 draw with Stuttgart who sat top of the Europa League table. We dominated the game and really should’ve taken the win.

The back five certainly helped the defence as we’d conceded only 6 goals in 8 games, whilst averaging 61.5% possession. Two huge improvements.

I also made further splashes in the transfer market before the window shutting. Left-wingback Santiago Arzamendia comes in on loan as back-up to Tagliafico, which allowed 20-year-old Sael Kumbedi to go out on loan and get some much-needed first-team football. Arzamendia comes with a mandatory £1m transfer fee, which is peanuts if he’s a dependable backup.

The final signing was a pre-contract agreement with a player I’m very excited about. Faustino Anjorin will join us next season and I’m sure his pace and finishing ability will give us a huge boost. Despite a couple of loans, he’s failed to break into the Chelsea squad.

After his very impressive start to his Lyon career, I signed Sanabria to a permanent contract.

February and March 2025

What came next was a horrific two months. FC Lorient knocked us out of the French Cup and we lost our three Ligue 1 games against teams we should’ve beaten. The team were looking bland and lacking any spark or passion.

I think this is where the lack of teamwork, work-rate and determination became really transparent. When we needed someone to step up and drag the team through, there was no one.

The only plus point was our Europa League playoff victory over Rangers who we beat 3-0 on aggregate.

As if the Sunday-Thursday schedule wasn’t bad enough, the fixture gods really weren’t on our side. Here’s the run of Ligue 1 opponents:

OGC Nice – 2nd
PSG – 1st
Rennes – 3rd
Monaco – 4th
RC Lens – 6th

Nice were dominated but we got nowhere near scoring. PSG were by far the better team but our defence held firm until the 75th minute, although the 0-1 scoreline really flattered us. We had now lost five league games in a row.

Again, our Europa League form was really good and we defeated Stuttgart over the two legs but were disappointed to lose Sanabria for 3 weeks.

Things then started to look up thanks to the 4th formation I’d tried. The trusty 4-2-3-1.

This is what the players were in under Kompany before I took over, so I was hoping that by reverting to a basic version they’d be able to change our league fortunes.

We hammered Rennes and Monaco and looked forward to a Europa Quarter Final game against a very impressive and talented Leeds team.

April and March 2025

We beat Lens 1-0 thanks to this beautiful back-heeled assist from Zhergrova to Cherki which sent us into the Qtr Final game with Leeds in an optimistic mood.

Unfortunately, we lost the left side of our defence (Tagliafico and Morato) to injury and came away from Elland Road chasing a 0-1 deficit.

For some reason, I decided to change a formation that was working as tinkered with the roles of the midfield 3 and it clearly didn’t work. We lost a rivalry game to Bordeaux in an awful performance, fought out a scrappy draw with Leeds in the return leg which put us out of Europe and then were absolutely embarrassed by Marseilles.

With the roles switched back, we finished the season off with 3 wins out of 4 which saw us finish in 12th position.

Unsurprisingly, PSG won the title with ease, whilst Lille lost out on the European places.

I was pleased to see Amiens – who also reverted to a 4-2-3-1, stay well clear of the relegation zone.


Whilst it’s been a very frustrating season with Lyon, I now feel I’ve got a good handle on the squad and roughly know who I want to keep and who needs to leave. I also have a solid base formation to work with and plan around.

I want to first take a look at the General Performance chart and compare it to how it was when I took over the team:

Goals per game: 1.12 > 1.00
Non-Penalty expected goals/90: 1.18 > 1.13
Goals conceded per game: 1.88 > 1.41
Expected goals against per game: 1.37 > 1.22
Shots per game: 13.12 > 11.32
Shots on target ratio: 35.24% > 36.36%
Pass completion ratio: 80.35% > 84.15%
Tackles won ratio: 73.63% > 74.77%

As you can see, whilst not perfect, I’ve managed to make improvements in most areas. Most notably, the defence and possession. I think with wide players who aren’t lazy-good-for-nothings, we might even score more goals next season!

I’ll definitely be having a big clearout as I’m not happy with half the squad, which had been very poorly assembled.

Top performers:

Goalscorer: Sanabria 12 goals in 19 games (inc 3 in Ligue 1 and 7 in Europe)
Assists: Aouar has 10 assists
Goal contributions: Aouar 17 (7 goals and 10 assists)
Average rating: Sanabria 7.15
Progressive passes: Caqueret 8.27
Tackles per 90: Reine-Adelaide 3.37

This off-season I aim to build a squad that can challenge at the top end of the table and also keep an eye on the youth to see who can maybe step up into the first team or the first team squad.

Oh, we had a pretty good youth intake…

The next update should be a good one!



  • 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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