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Welcome back to season two of ‘The Nantes Way’ as we look to build on the previous success of our first season in Brittony, which seen us runners up of Ligue 1, and winners of the Coupe de France.

My initial gut feeling, is that we won’t be able to repeat the success of season one, as I doubt the squads ability to negate the challenges of midweek football, as we prepare for our first season in the UEFA Champions League. The media gave predicted that we close the 2024/25 campaign in ninth position, our goal will be to finish within the top six, ensuring back to back qualification to continental football, and access to the additional revenue streams, which are essential for propelling the club forward.

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With regards to Ligue 1, and the summers recruitment window, the total spend was £196 million across 115 deal. The league’s biggest spenders was Lens, who used all of their £31.5 million received from Real Madrid for the services of Kevin Danso, with Ricardo Pereira being their most expensive transfer, only 7% of all deals were on foreign imports.

Surprisingly, PSG only spent £7 million on players , bringing in Guido Rodríguez (Free from Betis), Albert Grønbæk (£3.9m from FK Bodø/Glimt), Ángel Di María (free transfer), and Franco Watson (£3m from Club Atlético Lanús).

AUGUST 2024

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We picked up the season from where we left of with comprehensive victories in two of our first three opening fixtures. Mostafa Mohamed scoring a hattrick in the opening game against Ligue 1 newcomers AS Saint-Étienne, which he then followed up with a brace away at Montpellier.

Marshall Munetsi was injured on his Nantes debut, picking up sprained ankle ligaments which saw him ruled out for the rest of the calendar month. Not exactly the start his season he’d have wished for.

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In our opening fixture against AS Saint-Étienne we managed to rack up a total of 21 shots. As impressive as this is, you can see from the above that six of these stemmed from outside the box, along with quite a few others stemming from low scoring positions, as our average xG per shot was 0.08.

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In the game against LOSC Lille, we only managed to see 28% of the ball, which is clearly evident in the above image, showing player heatmaps, passes completed, key passes, and shots. Whilst it could be argues that we were fortunate to walk off the park 1-0 winners, it goes to show that possession is just another metric, and one which isn’t always heavily linked to the outcome of the match (score line).

SEPTEMBER 2024

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Whilst the yellow juggernaut is still moving forward, there are fears that the packed schedule could well see Nantes wheels come off.

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You can see from the above rolling xG visual that we are either hot, or cold with regards to the measure of quality chances created. Coming off worse against OGC Nice, LOSC Lille, and Clermont Foot 63.

The expected points table also shows how we are riding our luck at present, having gained seven more points than expected at this stage, which is a worrying sign for the club.

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Thankfully lady luck is still with us at the minute, we again find ourselves sitting behind PSG in the league. The Parisians have already accumulated a goal difference of +24 with Kylian Mbappé already hit the back of the net 13 times, seven more than anyone else in the league.


UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Success in the UEFA Champions League is NEVER going to be on the cards. However, we will play a duel role in our debut campaign. First are foremost, each and every result which doesn’t result in defeat will provide the club with a sweet cash injection.

Remember we secured £14.5 million in prize money for finishing runners up in Ligue 1, whilst £2.4 million is awarded per victory in the eight game league phase, and £797k for a draw. Let that sink in, eight wins will deliver £19.2 million, more than is on offer for a 34 game Ligue 1 season.

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We have managed to draw down nearly £3.2 million form our opening two games, Enzo Le Fée immediately becoming a fans favourite after scoring the winner in the competition which Nantes haven’t appeared since 2001/02.


HOUSTON WE HAVE A PROBLEM

If you have been paying attention to the results above, you will have noted that Mostafa Mohamed has failed to score in the last seven games. Whilst we have experienced the striker having a spikey form profile in the past, to go over six hours without scoring is of concern. Especially when we rely so heavily on the Egyptian to carry the team with regards to goalscoring.

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The below visual shows how the strikers form has dropped off after the games against AS Saint-Étienne, and Montpellier. It is time to take a little deep dive into his performances, to see if we can identify anything from his underlying data.

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Looking at the players pizza chart below, you will see that when compared to players in a similar position across the top twenty leagues, he is performing in the top percentiles when regarding shots, 3.19, non-penalty expected goals 0.63, and goals 0.80.

Looking at this data, there is no reasons as to why I should be concerned with him having a six-hour goal drought. He is outperforming his expected goals per 90, and still taking a high volume of shots per game.

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However, despite what this data is telling me, I still feel the need to delve a little deeper into his outputs across his extended barron spell.

The below image is something I have put together from using the data presented in the player analytics screen, whilst the xG has been stripped from the shot map.

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Looking at the averages for the selected metrics, you can see that Mohamed is very much a fox in the box, his overarching involvement in games is minimal with regards to touches. However, it is in the box where the forward comes to life, averaging a shot from every touch in the box, with an average xG per shot of 0.35.

What this data analysis informs me is that in the run of games contributing to his drought, teams have been effective at shutting out the Egyptian, with Lille, Auxerre, Toulouse, and OGC Nice reducing him to less than two touches.

*note he didn’t feature against Clermont.

Spending 30 minutes on the above has shown me that the striker isn’t the issue, it is his supply line which has been stopped, impacting Mohamed’s touches in the box, the area where the striker really comes alive.

If our opponents continue to limit our strikers ability to impact the game in the final-third, we will look to tweaking our tactic with the view providing an additional source of supply, this will most likely be a change of role on the left-flank from the inverted forward, to the inverted winger.


FORWARD LOOK

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Luis Enrique brings the current French champions to Nantes in the opening Ligue 1 game of October, before we host Simone Inzaghi‘s Liverpool, which now includes the attacking talent of Michael Olise. Whilst we have to be excited to be provided with fixtures of this calibre, I am fearful that our amazing run of not losing a game to date by more than a single goal, may well come to an end.

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Once again, I have an inbox from the board, this time they are pleased to inform me that they have made the executive decision to make extra transfer funds available, as a result of the improvement of the club’s finances. We will go into the winter recruitment window with a much improved transfer budget of £18.5 million, meaning after triggering the optional future fee of £4 million for Enzo Le Fée, we will have £14.5 million to spend on player recruitment.

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This is the first time in this save where I have had a budget of any significance available, and could see me invest in a player from the top end of the ‘First Team Ready’ shortlist.

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  • SteinkelssonFM

    SteinkelssonFM is a distinguished tactician in the Football Manager community, celebrated for bridging the virtual and real football worlds through meticulous analysis. His knack for recreating iconic real-world tactics in-game, like Mário Zagallo’s 1970 Seleção strategy, offers a nostalgic yet innovative gameplay experience. An active blogger on Medium and WordPress, SteinkelssonFM shares his football philosophies and FM adventures, enriching the community with guides on youth development and tactical masterclasses. His contributions extend to the official Football Manager website, affirming his position as a reliable mentor for aspiring virtual football managers. Through his content, SteinkelssonFM continues to blend historical football charm with modern-day FM gameplay.

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