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DECEMBER 2024

 

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A mixed bag in terms of results for the month, defeats against Brest and Monaco (our first of the season) enable PSG to extend their gap at the top of the league, whilst OGC Nice continue their excellent form, creating a three point buffer.

 

We threw away a two-goal lead against Spurs in the UEFA Champions League. However, if you were to have offered me the outcome prior to kick-off I would have bitten your hand off for it. We now know that a win in our last two fixtures secure our progression in the competition, a point could well be enough depending on other outcomes.

 

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Considering my initial concerns surrounding the challenges of navigating the UCL and Ligue 1, we are doing exceptional (ok joking the Joker certainly helped, providing us with an extra body). Whilst a top three finish is still in doubt, Monaco, and Marseillewill both likely have something to say, especially if Marseille can edge out their draws, converting them into victories, they will no doubt be involved at the end of the campaign.

 

Looking forward, we have a tasty few fixtures between the opening/closure. A trip to the San Siro to play Inter, along with hosting Dortmund. The fixture against Lille sandwiched between both of the UCL games will be a real challenge, especially considering they are also breathing down our necks.

 

Again, it is worthwhile noting that we have already won the last three fixtures against Lille, all without conceding a goal.

 

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BEYOND THE FIRST TEAM

 

I wanted to take a little time away from the first team to provide an update on two of the promising talents at the club. Kinkela and Leroux, have both been loaned out to sides in Ligue 2 to gain a heightened level of exposure to football at a higher level than our reserve team offers (league).

 

Both haven’t failed to deliver, despite playing their trade at two very different clubs, with Anthony Kinkela at Troyes, who find themselves in 2nd place in the mix for promotion to Ligue 1. Whilst, Louis Leroux is at the other end of the table (17th) in a relegation dogfight.

 

ANTHONY KINKELA

 

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The 18 year old striker is showing that goal scoring comes naturally in Ligue 2, hitting the back of the net 9 times in 16 appearances thus far. The youngster holds a 27% conversion rate (8th) in Ligue 2, and has racked up the third highest non penalty xG 7.09, which he is outperforming. Eyes locked in with the view to playing a supporting role as our inside forward next year.

 

LOUIS LEROUX

 

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Unlike Kinkela, Louis is playing football at the opposite end of the spectrum, his attacking contributions from attacking midfield are paramount to Cholet’s survival hopes. The 19 year old is contributing with a goal or assist each game, playing 15 times, scoring nine and assisting six. Louis currently holds the second best conversion rate in the league (39%), and is outperforming his open play expected assists value of 2.84.

 

RESERVES

 

The reserves are in Championnat National 2, and find themselves seven points clear of second place. It is worthwhile noting that B teams are not allowed to be promoted from this division. Therefore, there is a real need to explore an affiliate club in the French lower leagues, either Ligue 2, or Championnat National to easily provide talent with an opportunity without the need to navigate the luck of the loan market.

 

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Within the current squad of 29 players, we have been notified that the below three are potential first-team candidates. You will note from their progress, they are stagnating, probably due to the fact they are playing/training at the wrong level. I immediately actioned them to train with the first-team.

 

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Académie

 

The youngsters are well on track for securing back to back league titles. Again there are currently 39 players within the squad, far too many to ensure a focus on minutes/development.

 

Therefore I will look to conduct a review of all playing staff below the first-team with the view to chopping numbers in each team to 18, replicating the model as followed at Ajax.

 

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Player outputs to note

 

  • Goals 13- Billel Amara (1st)
  • Expected goals underperformance Billel Amara -3.66 (1st)
  • Conversion rate – Herba Guirassy 37%
  • Open play key passes – Brayan Nzita 18 (2nd), Loic Maith 16 (3rd)

 


 

JANUARY 2025

 

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The opening two games of the calendar year were in the Coupe de France, enabling me to play a rotated side in both fixtures, providing opportunities to some of those individuals mentioned above.

 

Remember the name: Billel Amara became the clubs youngest player at 16 years, and 135 days against Bordeaux in the Coupe de France. One stage later he also became the youngest player to score for Nantes, aged 16 years, and 148 days.

 

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A defeat away to Inter wasn’t enough to dampen our spirits, as a late goal by Jean-Charles Castellettoagainst Lille ensured we provided a buffer from one of the chasing pack in Ligue 1. Despite seeing less of the ball we were able to create the best chances of the game, in which Lille were down to 10 men after Jefferson Lerma saw red.

 

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The final result against Dortmund was enough to see us progress in Europe, finishing three points outside of the automatic qualification zone. The game was fairly equal with both sides having spells of sustained pressure across the match, Mostafa Mohamed missed his first penalty in the game after dispatching his previous six.

 

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Clearly impressed by our performance against them in the UCL, Tottenham came knocking with regards to their vacant managerial position, they were immediately told where to go.

 

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Magnus Steinkelsson showing his loyalty, by signing a new contract with the club until 2028.

 

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JAPHET N’DORAM

 

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Mostafa also was awarded Ligue 1’s best foreign player, the last time Nantes has a winner was back in 1994 (I was in year 5/6) with Japhet N’Doram (Chadian) collecting the personal accolade.

 

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Author

  • 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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