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Redemption: The Story of the Nearly Men

Started on 28 May 2018 by JT
Latest Reply on 18 August 2018 by JT
Hey so i guess i am a newbie around here, so let me tell you about my debut story on this forums. I without doubt stole this idea for a save from another user from another forum so i can not claim credit for it one bit, but it should provide one hell of a save should it work.

So what do i mean by redemption? Well in the history of the European Cup / Champions League there have been 17 teams that have made the final of the greatest club tournament in the world and failed to get the job done. That is 17 teams that have almost had the famous trophy in their hands, to fail at the last minute. Well my job is to change all of that and bring redemption back to as many of these clubs as i physically can. So what clubs need redeeming?

Atletico Madrid (1974. 2014, 2016)
Reims (1956. 1959)
Valencia (2000, 2001)
Fiorentina (1957)
Eintracht Frankfurt (1960)
Partizan (1966)
Panathinaikos (1971)
Leeds United (1975)
Saint Etienne (1976)
Borussia Monchengladbach (1977)
Club Brugge (1978)
Malmo (1979)
Roma (1984)
Sampdoria (1992)
Bayer Leverkusen (2002)
Monaco (2004)
Arsenal (2006)

So the rules of the save are to take over any one of these 17 clubs, take them to Champions League glory and than move on to one of the other eligible clubs. As the seasons go on, the AI might win the Champions League with any of these teams meaning they are than ineligible from the challenge. Equally if the AI takes a team to the final and they lose than they become a future option.

I guess the first question is going to be where do i start?
What an interesting Save! Looking forward to reading more of it soon. I would Start with Arsenal.
Really cool idea for a save, hope that you can progress through a few of the teams to get onto some more interesting challenges like Leeds and Partizan! Personally think that starting at the top might help, but not at a big club - Sampdoria seem to fit that mould very nicely!

Stade de Reims takeover

Where better to start than the first team to ever lose a European Cup final. In fact they have been the nearly men twice before. Perhaps i can make it 3rd time lucky!


Stade de Reims are a French club based in Reims. Originally formed in 1910 and known as Société Sportive du Parc Pommery, the club changed its name to the much more catchy Stade de Reims in 1931.

Reims are one of the most successful clubs in French football history having won six Ligue 1 titles, two Coupe de France trophies, one coupe de Ligue and five Trophée des champions titles as well as two apperances in the European Cup Finals of 1956 and 1959. In both finals they were beaten by Real Madrid who as many of you will know won the first 5 European Cups between 1956 and 1960.

So on paper, this is a big club but their last league title came in 1962 and the last real trophy of note being the Coupe de Ligue in 1991. This is compounded by the fact the club have really struggled since the 1980's with the club spending over 30 years yo-yo ing between Ligue 2 and the Championnat National. The club were last promoted to Ligue 1 in 2012 but were eventually relegated in 2016.

So as you have guessed it, i find the club in Ligue 2 at the start of the save. With Reims largely responsible for the first Golden Generation of French football with the likes of Roger Marche, Raymond Kopa, Just Fontaine, Jean Vincent, Robert Jonquet, Armand Penverne, Dominique Colonna, and Roger Piantoni, it will be my job to bring the glory days back to this side.

General Takeover

So what do i find? The club is in Ligue 2 but we are the 2nd favourites for the title with the board expecting us to get promoted back to the top tier. So far so good (In real life Reims have just won Ligue 2... so no pressure there). To achieve this, i have a small budget of £600k to spend on transfers but we are over the wage budget by £5k per week. So i am going to need to do things on the cheap.

Facility Wise the club is in half decent shape with good youth and great training facilities already in place. A 26k seater stadium isn't bad for this level meaning we will need to do a little bit to be able to compete with the top boys but we have the right foundations to get us to mid table Ligue 1 without too much fuss. The team report below equally gave me a lot of hope with a lot more positives than negatives.

Squad wise, you will get to the know the team further as the season progresses but from first impressions there were two players that looked a little better than the rest. Marvin Martin might be a familiar name with you, having played 15 times for the National team and he should dominate Ligue 2 football. The Brazilian Diego has been around for quite awhile in France too and looks to be a pretty good winger.

All in all it is a pretty decent side. We perhaps need another experienced centre half with our two back ups being just 18 years of age and maybe a little more quality in the centre of the park but with a limited budget it might be tough to get both.
Interesting to see where this goes with Reims, definitely got to put up with the financial powerhouses in Ligue 1! All the best!
Reims seem an interesting side with a fair bit of talent at their disposal. Hopefully you can make it out of Ligue 2 with relative ease. Good luck!
JT's avatar Group JT
4 yearsEdited

Stade de Reims summer window

Thanks for all of the feedback so far. From a writing style point of view i am going to break the season up into two month windows. So the schedule will look like

Summer Window and August
September & October
November & December
January & Winter Window
February & March
April & May

There will also be a few Champions League updates as i let you know what is happening and in particular if there are any newly eligible teams or teams that become ineligible.

Transfer Window


It was pretty tough to get rid of players and to be honest all i could do was loan out youngsters who were still on sizeable wages to give them some game time and free up the wages. Two youngsters that were never going to make it were shifted on for free but all in all nothing much to report on this front.


What that meant was we were much more limited in what we could do to bring people in. I ended up having to shift half the transfer budget to the wage budget to allow me to compete on contracts for new signings. The squad we have here is actually pretty young with just one player in their 30's and they are only just 30. With two young centre halves as our only back up in the position, i wanted someone with a lot of experience to be able to tutor them. The amusingly named Rod Fanni was just the man. At 35 he is old but he brings a wealth of experience and leadership qualities that we severely lack. A perfect tutor and he was at Marseille just last year and available on a free so financially it makes sense and he could help develop the future. Right now he looks good in terms of physicals and as long as he doesn't decline too much he should be ok as a backup for next year.

The one other signing was a loan move as Toulouse allowed me to loan French U21 midfielder Yann Bodiger. He has cost £31k per month in loan fees but he instantly gives me options in the midfield that was lacking. His stats are solid and certainly good enough for this level but the next could be one step too far for me.

On the pitch

Pre-season was a decent affair as we lost to Stuttgart 2-0 but beat some lower league French and Dutch sides with relative ease. Our 4-2-3-1 formation with one central midfielder in a DM ball winning position with the CM set to a Mezzala proving to work.

We started the season against Nimes and got off to a good start with a Julian Jeanvier header from a corner giving us the lead and striker Siebatcheu adding a 2nd straight after half time. 2-0 in my debut game and things are looking good. Another 2-0 victory was followed up against US Orleans with our subs combining well to keep our 100% record.

The coupe de Ligue saw me rotate the squad in a match against Chamois Niortais and it backfired as we went out 2-1. I didn't mind too much as we won the next two league games to keep our 100% record going and we were at the top of the table. The final game saw us away to Lorient who are the favourites to win the league and on paper it will be our toughest game. We didn't get things right though and our first league defeat was inflicted on us.

A decent opening few months for us and we have been functioning pretty well whilst we still find our feet. So far i have been rotating around the team as i try and settle on a team that is in form. Goals and assists are being spread around at the moment which is nice to see but i think we are going to need a few players to have stand out seasons to keep competing which on paper is going to be a competitive league (Lorient, Auxerre, Lens, Le Havre)

Stade de Reims September & October 2017

We have been motoring along this season with games coming thick and fast as we look to move to the top of the table

On the pitch

Our fighting spirit has come to the fore over this period as by the end of October we had won 15 points from losing positions. If we concede we seem to be able to dust ourselves off and get on with it. Its quite amazing at times. 7 Wins and 1 draw from 8 games is the form of a team that can go up as we don't smash teams off the park but grind out the victories that matter.

We are scoring from set pieces with centre half Julian Jeanvier benefitting the most hitting 3 goals in 8 games. Goals from the bench has also been a key factor to our success as was evident in the final two games in October where N'Gamukol and Kyei scored late to overturn a 1-0 deficit against Lens into a 2-1 win. Whilst Remi Oudin scored the winner against Nancy with an 86th minute winner.

All in all it is looking pretty damn good at the moment with a 5 point lead over Lorient and a team that is on fire.

Secret to the success

With the form looking at 11 wins in 13 leagues we are almost at the half way stage and on course for at least a promotion spot. So i thought i would share a few things that seem to be working at the moment. Let's start with the formation

It is a pretty simple formation if i am honest. Nothing that out there i admit. We aim to run at the defence and put in floating crosses as all of our strikers are over 6"2 and can cause havoc. The other key part of the formation is to put get stuck in on tackles. We have a naturally aggressive squad and it has led to some disciplinary problems admittedly but even though we are fouling and picking up cards we are also winning the ball and you can't lose football matches if the opposition don't have the ball.

The other key element is the team dynamics. I personally haven't seen anything like this

The amount of players set to influential is so high with barely anyone seen as an other player and this table is moving further and further into the field of highly influential and upwards. We seem to have a great teamwork mentality and maybe finally i have cracked the success criteria for a team on FM18
Really good start to life at Reims - may it long continue! Really like the updates and their regularity too!

Stade de Reims November & December 2017

Ok Ok i admit, i might have a few updates stored up so sorry about the barage of updates as i try and catch you up with the save.

On the pitch

A word of warning, this two month period wasn't quite as good. We lost a match for one as we failed to turn up against Le Havre and went down 1-0. The rest of the month was split between the League and the Coupe de France but we did start to see a struggle as although we were picking up wins, it wasn't pretty.

This can be evidenced by our two cup games. We should have beaten ASF Andrezieux by more than 1-0 but we could only breach their defence once. In the 8th Round it took extra time to take out some lower league opposition. However, we have still progressed which is the main thing.

A couple of draws hit during the league campaign too but it is all about the table.

We still have our 5 point lead over Lorient but the point difference over 3rd is now 8 points as we look to have a stranglehold on a promotion place at the half way stage of the season. Going past that a 12 point lead over 6th means we really shouldn't end the season without a shot of going up.

When you start going through the stats you can see we top the league on goals scored whilst also having the best defence in the league.

Xavier Chavalerin problem

When you look through the squad stats, there is one man at the top of the average ratings and that is Xavier Chavalerin. What you will also notice is the large injured symbol next to his name. Yup, he as has done his cruciate which rules him out for the rest of the season.

It leaves a problem, we don't have a ready made replacement for him and we have no money as we enter the January window and yet he has been our best player on form. In fact, if it wasn't for him, the last two months could have seen us on level terms with Lorient rather than holding onto a 5 point lead.

Still halfway through the season and things are not looking too bad
Good luck my friend!
A fantastic record in the league at the moment, you're well on course to win the division - as the team did in real life. Keep it up!

Stade de Reims Winter window

With Injuries and suspensions starting to rack up. Could we continue our run?

Transfer Window


Again, nothing to really shout about as we sold 5 youth prospects who were not going to be good enough to compete. One even went for a little bit of money as he moved to Belgium. Interestingly one of the players moved to Chelsea, maybe i made a mistake but i wasn't convinced he was going to make it myself.


Our transfer budget was completely wiped and we were already overspending on wages thanks to some contract renewals that needed to be done. It meant anyone coming in had to cost me nothing. What i failed to mention as part of my takeover is that i did add to my scouting team including adding a chief scout. Now that chief scout might be familiar to some of you... it is Tony Henry. Yes that is right, the guy that got fired from West Ham for saying some not very nice things about African players. In my defence though he is good at his job and his West Ham connections kicked in as he recommended Declan Rice to myself. Available on loan and with West Ham asking for no money or wage contribution, it was a no brainer as the Irishman comes into provide cover in defence and in the DM slot.

On the pitch

A quiet window as i didnt want to disrupt the squad with it flying in the league. Our first game in 2018 was the Coupe de France and we had Ligue 1 opposition for the first time. Strasbourg were last year's Ligue 2 champions and were doing ok in the league above but we were the inform team and when you are in form, upsets can happen. It was a dominant performance as we went on to win 4-2 to set us up for the 10th round.

That 10th Round match was the final game of January and it was against Paris. Luckily Paris FC and not the mighty PSG, and with the Parisians bottom of Ligue 2 i was confident we could go on. We did go behind early but once again our grit and determination was on show and we reversed the tie into our favour and won the match 3-1. The board are happy with our little run and we will take on Caen at home. They are mid table in Ligue 1 and if we continue our form we could be on for another upset.

Inbetween the cup games we had some league action with 4 ties. The first three saw us carry on our form with 3 victories (4-2, 3-0, 1-0). The performances were a little mixed, In the first game against US Orleans we struggled again and went behind again before Siebatcheu hit a 7 minute hat trick before adding a 4th to put the game to bed. The 3-0 win over Bourg-Peronnas was dominant as the scoreline suggests and the 1-0 victory over Tours was tough with a rare goal from Cafaro sealing the deal.

However, it wasn't all positive as we lost to promotion rivals Lorient 1-0 in the final league game of the month. That is two victories over us now and they are our toughest rivals for the title. It also kept the title intersting as if we had won that game we would have been 11 points clear at the top. Which leads me to the table

So far so good and it is looking more and more likely we are going to have at least a play-off spot from the season with the 16 point gap over Ajaccio, and i am pretty confident of an automatic spot with a 10 point gap over Le Havre but i just can't quite shake off Lorient at the moment so nothing is certain at this point.

Stade de Reims February & March 2018

Could we keep our stranglehold on the title?

On the pitch

We lost two league games in these two months. That alone makes it the worst update of this fledgling save already. However, we did manage to win the 6 league games inbetween the two losses as well as the Cup tie. So not that shabby.

The month of February stated with Stade Brestois away from home and for some reason we were not at the races. Was it fatigue? or a rare off day, i don't really know as they went into a two goal lead before we got a late consolation. We then went into the next game against Promotion hopefuls Sochaux with a similar problem, We started sluggish and went behind and really struggled to get into the game. Mid way through the 2nd half i made a couple of changes putting young Kyei upfront and giving Declan Rice his debut. Needless to say it worked as both men scored in the final 10 minutes to swing the tie around and give us a 2-1 victory. Once again, never count us out when we are behind!

From that moment, on things were comfortable. A 2-1 and 2-0 victory in the league followed in what were pretty standard affairs where we were the better side from start to finish which set us up nicely for our cup tie against Ligue 1 side Caen. An upset was always on the cards and it happened again as Julian Jeanvier scored from an unmarked header after a nice free kick in the box before a comical own goal gave us the 2-0 victory. Into the Quarter finals we go.... where we will get knocked out having been drawn against PSG. My first experience of this powerhouse.

A trio of 3-1 victories againt Clermont, Chatearoux and Lens followed where Jordan Siebatcheu hit some form particularly from the penalty spot before we stopped in our tracks against Nancy losing 1-0. To be honest in the Nancy game i had one eye on PSG and the upcoming game against Le Havre and rested a few players.

I have never really had a season like this but we are running away with it. In fact if we beat Le Havre in the next league game we have all but assured the league title let alone promotion. At the end of the season, ill do a review of why we have been so dominant but for now i can say being strong and aggressive is allowing us to punish teams.

Youth Intake

These months also provide us the first youth intake of the save. Having not managed in France for about 7 years i had forgotten that the youth intake over here is much younger and having 14 and 15 year olds is a bit more normal.

A decent youth intake with some nice personalities coming through particularly from the first two on the list. The two 5* players are the standouts for sure. Frederick Jerome is a quick left winger with decent dribbling and first touch. We like to run with the ball so he fits the mould perfectly and with some good mentals to start with, he could develop into a nice player for us. Sebastien Ravenne is the other, At 5"7 he is a very different striker than what we have been playing with which might hamper him until i come up with a formation and style that fits him in. He has some finishing and physicals though that mean he could just make it.

Outside of the two star players, i see something in Tom Fallempin and Florent Baal who both have the determination to succeed and develop into squad players here.

Stade de Reims April & May2018

Would we bottle it?

On the pitch

Before we get to the league campaign we had the small task of the Coupe de France Quarter final against a little team called PSG. I played our strongest side and made just one little change to the formation with the team moving from Control to Counter with the slimmest hope that we might catch them by surprise.

In terms of PSG they had a relatively strong side but were missing a few players such as Cavani and Mbappe but Neymar was there. Over 90 minutes we had 0 highlights in our favour but we did restrict them to just 6 and 4 of them were long range strikes from Neymar. None of them really threatened and we got to full time at 0-0! So straight to extra time and in the 1st half Meunier probably should have scored a header but in the 2nd half we were straight through with Siebatcheu just having Trapp to beat and he ..... missed

So the game went to penalties which was the last thing i expected. Siebatcheu who had been on fire from the spot all season stepped up first and smashed it over the bar. PSG did miss one themselves but our right back Metainre missed the crucial 5th penalty and we went out 4-3 on penalties. No shame there at all

So with that distraction done, we had the league to wrap up. We tried our hardest not to wrap it up as we drew the next two league games having to score late on to get the draw in both games before two poor defeats. Morale was awful and it looked like the pressure had got to us. A team talk went disasterously wrong and i genuinely believed we could throw this away. Our saving grace was both Le Havre and Lorient were struggling to make the most of our slip ups.

We than took on Chamois-Niortas at home. A draw would be enough to clinch promotion and if results went the right way, a win would be enough to take the title. We went 2-0 down within 12 minutes and i just didn't know what to do. I moved us to keep possession just so we could get our way back into the game by having the ball and Diego managed to score on the 40th minute. The 2nd half was better, yet going into injury time we still didn't have an equaliser and we looked like we were going to lose again. That was until Diego scored not one but two goals in 50 seconds to win us the game and it led to this.

We had finally limped over the line and the trophy was ours. That win seemed to do the trick as we won the final two league games to win the league at a canter.

Back to the top flight and now the real battle happens. Early budget conversations with the board give us £2.4m in transfer fees with an extra £70k per week for wages. It isn't a lot and ill need to form some transfer plans. Any suggestions on cheap players that might do the trick than let me know!

End of season review

I can't really argue with that summary of the season. Fanni was by far the best signing and was a great addition in the defence and made one of the team seasons. Jordan Siebatcheu was easily our best player this season with 23 goals and 11 assists in just 36 starts. His form as good enough to make the USA world cup squad and he was the leagues top scorer. Pablo Chavarria and Danilson da Cruz deserve a mention as well for consistently putting the performances in week in week out.

A great 1st season and probably my most enjoyable on FM18 to date. Going through the end of the season stats you can see we dominated a lot of the physical stats. Most tackles, Most headers, Most Yellow Card, Most Red Card (7), Most Crosses Completed, Most Goals, Most Chances Created, Best hitting the target ratio. Our physicality is something we need to keep for next season as it will be tough. But if we can become one of them physical, horrible to play teams like the Pulis teams of old we should have enough to survive.

You are reading "Redemption: The Story of the Nearly Men".

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