November and December
I wanted my team to play much better in order to maintain our promotion chances. They did exactly that by winning six league games in a row, which brought us as high as top of the league.
We have been so good throughout the two past months that I can’t complain with our disappointing French Cup elimination.
As expected Nangis
coming back from injury would be decisive. Unfortunately, after two starts, four goals and December's Player of the Month award he was ruled out for another month.
Naturally other players have helped the team superb form, such as Molla Wagué
who won November’s Ligue 2 Player of the Month, Jean Calvé
who finished runner up or Mathieu Duhamel
who’s now joint top goal scorer of the league.
Our defense has been mostly reliable but we constantly had problems in the last twenty minutes or so.
Meanwhile we really have improved in the area which was problematic previously. Indeed we are creating much more. I did not changed my tactic: 4-1-4-1
, but many players have been moved in different positions.
left his left back position to become a left winger. The former left winger Autret
went on the right side. Seube
, so far a defensive midfielder, was moved up with a much more creative role. The defensive role was filled up by former central defender N’Diaye
Each of these changes have worked and given a new dimension to the team, with maybe the exception of Autret but he leaves his place to Nangis the rare times he’s fit.
Before explaining the games, I need to mention one last aspect of our game which impressed me. Set pieces
In my four years playing Football Manager, never I had a team creating so much danger from corners and free-kicks. In the two first league games of November, Jean Calvé
provided four goals from set pieces. He then picked up an injury (again!), so I thought we would not be as dangerous during the following matches.
But my players proved me wrong. Montaroup
have continued providing quality passes from dead-ball situations.
R.C. Lens 1-3 S.M. Caen
The game started perfectly, Wagué
scroring inside two minutes.
The goal came from a superb Calvé
then scored his first goal of the season shortly before Guillaume pulled on back. In the second half Fajr got his second from the penalty spot.
This was the first game we played with the new positions I had determined for some players. Seube and Montaroup were particularly impressive.
S.M. Caen 5-1 Istres O.P
This was an incredible performance, and Le Crom
will be disappointed not to have kept a clean sheet after misjudging Diarra’s shot deep in extra-time.
scored first after ten minutes. Defender Wagué
then got an assist with a clever flick to N’Diaye
on a Calvé
corner, and after half-time he himself scored with a superb volley on a free-kick taken by Calvé.
Wagué did not win the Goal of the Month (he should have) but he got the player of the match award.
, his central defense partner also got a goal, heading in a corner by…Calvé.
Previously Duhamel had scored his second of the game.
S.M. Caen 0-3 Nîmes
To go out of League Cup after two rounds was disappointing. To be humiliated and kicked out of the French Cup
after a game was even worst.
The team already had played Nîmes
in league. The game, after an 80 minutes good performance, had finished as a heart-breaking draw where we lost our 2-0 lead in the last five minutes.
This time we were not even close to winning. They dominated from the start and had the best occasions. In fact our only very dangerous attack came at the 28th minute and was messed up by Kim Kyung-Jung
’s finish. Could have changed everything but we were punished five minutes later when Granic scored the first goal of his hat-trick.
This game, like the League Cup defeat against Brest (1-4), highlighted the poor quality of our squad depth. But it allowed two of our players to make their comeback after long term injuries. Lenny Nangis
, who had not played since the game against Brest in August, started on the right wing. And José Saez
came in at half-time, his first appearance in more than a month.
A.J. Auxerre 0-4 S.M. Caen
I was worried that the 3-0 defeat would engage another poor run, but instead we had a great reaction. In fact, it was the first in two months we avoided conceding a goal.
continued his impressive season by scoring his 10th goal, after only two minutes. The first half finished 1-0, I warned my players not to get complacent, as they had done on a few occasions this season.
But there the team seems stronger than ever and Auxerre
did not stand a chance. The second half started with a header by Jean-Jacques Pierre
, who will thank Jean Calvé
for his superb corner (again!).
then had to go out because of an injury (again!). But before the substitution he managed to get a goal on a superb assist by Seube
I need to point out Seube’s quality. He is 34 year old, has spend more than ten seasons at the club and he is still getting better. Every touch of the ball he makes is perfect. And he does not make a lot because he usually passes the ball very quickly and most of the time it’s from him that the danger starts.
Finally Kim Jung-Yung
scored two minutes after coming in. The assist and the previous pass were also provided by subs: respectively Kodjia
S.M. Caen 2-1 Angers
were without any doubt disappointed not to have got a point from this game.
The two sides neutralized each other until the end of the first half and a red card given to Romain Thomas
. We immediately took advantage of it and just before the break N’Diaye
got his second goal of the season, heading in a corner by Fajr
Even though they were playing with one man down Angers stayed dangerous and we didn’t relax until the 70th minute and a superb strike by Ngolo Kanté
Kanté had had quite a difficult season so far, and earlier this month he was surprised to get his first cap for Mali. But it certainly gave him the confidence he lacked because he followed up this performance by great display in December.
Angers scored five minutes after, but unfortunately for them they did not manage to convert their chances to equalize.
C.S Bastia 2-4 S.M. Caen
Nineteen years old. Great pre-season.
Torn hamstring. 2nd November:
Resumes full training.
First League start in four months.
scores. 36th minute:
scores. 63rd minute:
Comes out because of a slight injury.
Wins Man of the Match
award. (Duhamel also scored a brace and with 12 goals he joins Marcos and Bakambu as top scorers of the league.)
S.M. Caen 3-1 Brest
Let’s start with Lenny Nangis
: The injury he picked up against Bastia did not rule him out for this game. However I hesitated in keeping him in the starting eleven because I was quite unsure he could manage another very high level performance as he did the previous week.
I believed in his talent, but he had only started a league game and a cup game in four months. And I must admit I was quite scared of this Brest
team, who eliminated us of the League Cup at the beginning of the season.
And Brest, who in fact are struggling in mid-table, seemed ready to reproduce the display from our first confrontation. Jonathan Ayité gave them the lead after 11 minutes. We were not able to create any danger until the twentieth minute and great pass from Duhamel
Nangis hit the ball without any control to level up. From then we were untouchable. Two minutes later fantastic captain Nicolas Seube
scored a great effort from long range. The assist was provided by Nangis.
And as Nangis decided he wanted to be voted Player of the Match
for the second game running, he ensured it by lobbing the goalkeeper, getting his second goal and securing the three points as well as the league's top spot for the club.
He would probably have done even more if he had not been forced to leave the pitch at the 83rd minute. This time a pulled hamstring will keep him out for a month.
It’s not too harsh as we won’t have any official game for the upcoming weeks, thanks to the winter break.
I organized two friendlies. On 2nd January
we will play against Swindon
, and on 5th January
. The league will resume on the 10th
. We will have an away game against Tour