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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

2017/18 Review

As i mentioned in one of my first posts, i will do a season review of the Champions League so we can see the status of the other nearly men to see if we have some members of the club as well as seeing if the AI is able to give the redemption needed for these sides.

Almost a real life mirror of the Champions League this season as Real Madrid win it again against an English Side. You just need to swap Liverpool for Man Utd to see that their is nothing exciting to shout about at this stage.

The semi finals though did have Tottenham and Man City who both could have become eligible had they made it through. Personally i was willing Napoli on as that would certainly be a side i would love the chance to take over.
Excellent season there buddy and top flight football next season to look forwards to! Hopefully you capture a few signings over the break and come back in the new season ready to go, if that result in the Quarter finals you'll be halfway up the table in no time!

Stade de Reims 18/19 summer window

Back in the top flight at the first time of asking, the real hard work begins as we try and survive and than build into a team that can compete with the likes of PSG, Monaco and Lyon domestically.

Predicted to come 18th out of 20 teams, the media think we are going to be in a relegation dogfight and end up in an end of season play-off. Lets get to the magic 40 point mark quickly and try and get ourselves around 14th. With £2.4m for transfers and an additional 50k per week for wages we are going to need to wheel and deal.

Transfer Window


It was a busy window hence the slight delay in getting this update out there. In totla 7 players left the club permanently whilst 6 went out on loan to get some game time and hopefully some much needed development. In terms of the outs, two were youth players who were not going to make it, Kamara was out on loan last season and moves to Gazalec Ajaccio on a free.

Hendricks Cakin, Mathieu Cafaro, Gregory Berthier and Anatol N'Gamukol were all back ups last year and were mainly the subs that came on. All were shifted on, two for money to help free up further wages / transfer budget.


Nine new faces joined over the summer. 5 on loan and with 4 permanent signings, i am going to have some job getting this lot gelling. When it came to looking at where i needed to strengthen, the answer was pretty much everywhere. Our league title was pretty much made up of 1 or 2 players having good seasons and the rest being generally ok. That was not going to cut it at this level.

Starting with the loans, i wanted to add some young players that given the chance could become possible stars in the league. To add competition for Jordan Siebatcheu upfront i went to Paris and bought in Odsonne Edouard for the season. Celtic fans would have seen him last season and i am hoping he can make it big here. Lyon have loaned me Spanish midfielder Pape Cheikh who looks to be a solid allrounder and i think can be the Mezzala this season with Chavalarin struggling after his long injury layoff. From Italy i bought in two young wingers/strikers in the form of Moise Kean and Leandrinho. Both offer different options uptop if the big man tactic doesnt work in the big leagues as well as trickier and maybe more attacking options on the left flank. My final loan signing saw me go to England to get Phil Foden
from Man City. Young and versatile, i see him either as a MC if the Mezzala doesnt work out or another alternative as the AMC slot.

In terms of permanent transfers, i started close at home as i bought in left back Yousseff Kone for £1.2m from Lille. He was on loan here last year and with all of the new faces, it was good to bring in someone who knew the club. Ukrainian Eugene Tkachuk was the only other player coming in for money signing for £200k from some Ukrainin club. He is tall and has great determination meaning he should make a decent tutor whilst being only 27 at the same time. The free transfer market saw me bring in German Tobias Levels to compete at right back and Kevin Monnet-Paquet to compete for the wing slots. Both are on par with our current options meaning we have a lot better squad depth this time around.

On the pitch

A short pre-season as we played just 4 friendlies, 3 of which were in England and the other in Belgium. All four were won with relative ease but our fitness levels were still a little short going into the season.

Two matches were played in August and our first match in Ligue 1 was at home to Monaco. Not an easy tie by any means but much like the PSG cup game last year we fought to the bitter end but were unfortunately beaten 1-0 when Naby Keita scored mid way through the 2nd half. We did though bounce back with an away day victory over Stade Rennais with loanee Pape Cheikh hitting the only goal of the game.

So far not too bad.

Some nice signings coming in especially Kone and two decent results to start the season.

Stade de Reims September & October 2018

Survival is the name of the game but is that the game we are playing?

On the pitch

I am just going to need to leave the table up here for a bit

Yup, we are above PSG after 10 games and we are in a Chammpions League spot. I am literally flabbergasted as to how this is possible but it is the case. So let's look at how.

It didn't start well as i got FM'd against Amiens. We had 19 shots to their 0 and we were completely in control but in their two shots on goal they go and score. After that we went to Saint Etienne and we didn't start well going 2-0 down in the 1st half. A right telling off seems to have been the catalyst for our season as we fought back to draw 2-2. Again we went behind against Nice but we still came out 3-2 winners and the best comeback was saved for Bordeaux as we were 2-0 down at half time but won the game 3-2 with a 93rd minute winner.

Three more victories in a more straightforward manner ended the month on a high and has helped us into our lofty position. A Coupe de Ligue defeat to Angers was disappointing but if we have a good league campaign i don't really care about the cups.

Special praise must go to new signings Kevin Monnet-Paquet and Odsonne Edouard who between them have been dragging us up the table. Long let it continue!

Comeback Kings!

What might be apparent is our ability to come back from the brink of defeat to win points and more often than not games. Already this season we have picked up 7 points from losing positions and that is the fight you need to show if you are going to survive and we are doing more than that. 40 points is the magical number and we have 22 already at just over the 1/4 of the way through a season.

But it hasn't just been this season, last season we showed the same drive and determination and we picked up 33 points alone from losing positions. We can not be counted out and that is what makes the team so dangerous. The words drive and determination i think are key in helping explain us as we have very high determination stats across the team and our personalities are predominantly fairly determined or even driven and that also means we have a lot of influential and above players meaning we have enough game changers to take the game and put it back in our favour

Can we keep this up? Only time will tell

Stade de Reims November & December 2018

Would our surprise form keep going until the new year?

On the pitch

Quite simply.... yeah pretty much

I have no idea what is going on but we are still somehow doing it and picking up the points. To have 37 at the half way stage is just unbelievable when i was trying to target 40 for the whole season. It is probably safe to say we are staying in the league and i have to be looking at a top half finish as a worst case scenario. If we do get that top half finish i am probably 2 seasons ahead of where i thought i would be which is great for the save. If we do get Europa this could be something very special.

As you look through the results, there were a few more draws but all of them came from losing positions including the PSG game. In fact we were 3-0 down with 13 minutes to go and managed to pull it back to 3-3 showing some incredible resolve..

Is it a resolve that is going to run out? I think so yes as results have been tougher to get in the last few months and on a few times we were a little lucky and eventually we will get found out. Also the likes of Lyon, Marseille and Nice can't carry on having poor years and they will overtake me before long. When you look at the table with Media Predictions you have to believe this fairytale will be tough to carry on.

However, whilst i am on this high i have managed to negotiate a new contract for myself as well as increasing our junior coaching budget so i can keep building on this high. Money is a little too tight to get an improved training or youth facility but if we do get European football, that will be one of the first things i will ask for.

On a side note, there was some pleasant news for Jordan Siebatcheu who was 2nd in the CONCACAF player of the year.

Discipline dilemma

Now it wouldn't be an update without a little dilemma. No doubt about it my 18 months in charge have been successful but i have to keep striving for better and if there is one negative (potentially) is that our discipline is about as good as Joey Barton's. We are top of the yellow card table with 54 meaning we average 2.84 a match which is quite a lot. It has certainly meant we are having to rotate players as the others are suspended from action. It isn't just yellow cards, we have 3 Red cards as well. Now we are committing the 2nd most fouls but also winning the most tackles.

So what do i do? We are a robust team and we are winning the ball but sometimes we go a little far. Our squad is still thin in places (particularly the places where we pick up the most yellow cards) and the question is do i ease off on the tackles to protect ourselves from suspensions or do i try and find some extra players to come in to try and keep us going in the table.

Equally our robustness i believe is a big reason for the fairytale start but eventually it could be our downfall if we cant play our best team or we don't finish with 11 men. Something to ponder as we go into the winter window.
JT's avatar Group JT
4 yearsEdited

Stade de Reims 18/19 Winter window

Transfer Window

Only one more outgoing as we loaned out young centre half Axel Disasi on loan to get more game time. With Rod Fanni retiring at the end of the season, Disasi could be called up to be the 4th choice centre half next season.

I tried and i really tried to add a new player in particular a defensive midfielder as our only real option is Danilson da Silva or Pape Cheikh and Cheikh is mainly used as a standard MC in my tactic. I was looking at either an old head to come in for a short term or to find a younger player who could eventually take over from da Silva.

We came close to two players. Anthony Annan was available on a free transfer and would have been a great back up for the rest of the season but after sitting on an offer for a few weeks he eventually moved to China for more money. The Second option was Anders Konradsen from Rosenborg. I had a transfer fee agreed which i might not have got through anyway but his wage demands were ridiculous as he was asking for £20k per week despite just earning £4k in Norway. To be my highest paid player was asking for too much.

So with nothing coming in i am going to have to look at how we improve discipline without losing our strengths so i can avoid the inevitable suspension problem.

On the pitch

Just 4 games played in January as we easily progressed in the Coupe de France beating Red Star 5-1 before picking up 4 points in the league from 3 games. A mixed bag as we once again fought from behind against Stade Rennais before conceding a late goal to only draw 2-2, comfortably beating Amiens but losing to bottom of the table against Caen where we looked tired and not ready for a fight.

unbelievable way to kick off the challenge. Champions League football next year??
Fantastic to see the tremendous progress being made already with Reims, you're doing a great job. As Aaron said, Champions League football next season is very much a possibility!
2018-06-12 23:45#249726 Aaron : unbelievable way to kick off the challenge. Champions League football next year??

2018-06-13 15:24#249739 ScottT : Fantastic to see the tremendous progress being made already with Reims, you're doing a great job. As Aaron said, Champions League football next season is very much a possibility!

Thanks Guys. Champions League football is certainly a possibility at this stage. It is hard to rule it out but right now i am just concentrating on a top half finish and once i look good for that i can then look at European football. The current points aim is to be around 60 points by the end of the season. Once i have that i will worry about Champions League football

Stade de Reims February & March 2019

The Slump might be on!

On the pitch

Our luck might be running out as we look to be losing steam in our hunt for the Champions League. Sitting in 5th at the end of the March we have been leapfrogged by Bordeaux and Lyon and our run of form is looking shaky

With no victory in the last 4 league games we could find ourselves in the mid table spots quickly if we don't get our act together. Legs look tired, we are picking up more and more injuries and the suspensions are coming thick and fast. It didn't help that against PSG we had two players away on International duty either which meant we played that game without 8 first teamers.

The youngsters have been given a shot and two (Jerome and Navet) even scored on their debuts as we try and keep the wheels on.

Things are at least looking better in the Cup as we got past Nantes and Angers to put us into the quarter finals where we will take on Amiens in a very winnable tie. We might even sneak European football through the cup if this league business does fall through.

The Curse of the Cruciate

I mentioned Injuries are causing a problem but getting two players suffering from ACL ruptures really hurts. Moise Kean was the first and he was quickly followed by Marvin Martin and that is two big first teamers to miss for the rest of the season. It goes without saying when they got injured we started not winning.

Youth Intake

Youth Intake number 2 and there were some pretty decent gems to be found. The two that instantly stand out are Claude Engels and Feyzullah Munier who both could make the first team in a few years given the right development

Stade de Reims 18/19 End of Season

Could we hold on?

On the pitch

Looking at the results, there are a probably a few things that stand out. The first one being that we have made it to the Coupe de France final having beaten struggling Amiens and Guingamp. More on the final later on. The 2nd being that our league form has been up and down going into the end of the season with 4 wins and 3 defeats from the final 7 games.

The defeat against Troyes was particularly hard as we were 3-2 up going into the 90th minute and we then managed to concede 3 to lose the match 5-3. I can put my hands up in saying that the Monaco and Marseille games saw us out played completely. Was it enough for a european spot?

No. Both Bordeaux and Toulouse overtook us and we eventually fell into 6th place. At one point we were looking at a lower finish with Marseille and Dijon breathing down our necks. If someone had told me we would get 6th in my first season in the top flight i would have bitten their hands off but i cant help but feel a little upset as at one stage we were looking good for Champions League football. 6th though doesn't get us European football with Troyes winning the League cup it means only 4th is guaranteed European football adding extra importance on the cup final.

Cup Final

So onto the Cup final and it is Lyon that stand in our way of another piece of silverware in this short but so far successful save. With no Monaco and PSG, this was a real opportunity to pick up some silverware.The only real problem was that both our strikers Siebatcheu and Edouard were struggling with knocks so goals could be hard to come by.

But once again, the boys did what they needed to do. The Penalty for them was pretty stonewall and we really struggled in the first half. The second half was better and we left it late but we got the job done with two subs coming on and scoring the equaliser and the winner and put us in the Europa League for next season

It was a perfect way to end this season and we are back in Europe probably two to three seasons ahead of schedule. I can't imagine our coefficient being that good so we are probably going to get a horrible draw but we will concentrate on that next season.

Season Wrap up

That is what the fans think and again i think they have the right three players but maybe not in that order. Siebatcheu stepped up from last season again and his 18 goals made him top scorer at the club for two seasons on the bounce. Phil Foden in my opinion was the player of the season and he really looked classy at times. He even made two teams of the season (team 1 and team 2). The key will be to try and retain him for next season.

With the team playing so well it probably should come as no shock that we broke our own average attendance record and pretty much played to sell out crowds all season. We might even need to expand the stadium further if that continues and our over achievement was even acknowledged in the end of season wrap up.

So with a European run next season the budgets are in and its £10.5m for transfers and an extra £150k per week on wages. That is some serious dough and we are targeting another top half finish.

2018/19 Review

The 2nd season saw a new winner

That is right, Tottenham are champions of Europe and now become completely ineligible for this challenge. As an Arsenal fan it hurts to write this but it was an incredibly strong performance by the English sides with 3 teams getting to the semi-finals. Other than that it was pretty much standard fare with no surprise teams making the knockouts
In the Europa League, superb stuff. A great season and surprising with Spurs winning the UCL

Stade de Reims 19/20 summer window

Could we build on last year and really establish ourselves as a top half side. With the added games of the Europa League we are going to need a bigger better squad. Transfers will form a big part of that but we will also need to develop our own team so the board agreed to improve the youth recruitment

Transfer Window


Some big names did leave but all of my choosing which is a nice position to be in. Diego was starting to whinge about not getting game time and he was the wrong side of 30. £5m was decent money and he gets to go to Spain for the end of his career. Kyei was loaned out last year and stat wise he was no where close to Edouard and Siebatcheu so taking £1m for a reserve player was good business and Chavarria was going to be in a similar position to Diego. Over 30 and not likely to start week in week out, the Argentine was also moved on to Spanish football. The only other permanent players to leave of note were Rod Fanni and Romain Metanaire. Fanni retired from football whilst i let Metanaire's contract expire.


So with the exits confirmed, i had to look at what i needed. Well the first thing was to try and keep the four players who were on loan here last season for another year. All four were vital to our success last year and keeping them would allow me to carry on building. In the end, three of the four (Edouard, Foden, Leandrinho) extended their loans with Lyon wanting to play Pape Cheikh this season. Foden is even labelled a wonderkid nowadays as well which is quite exciting.

With these guys nailed on, i really needed to add a right back, a centre half, at least two central midfielders and a winger. With that shopping list, i went and got the below

Seven new faces is a lot of new faces for a pre-season but the squad we have now is more rounded and with more ability than before. Sherif Saber is an Egyptian regen that i have been following for a few years. At £450k he is cheap and has the speed you want from a winger and he has the added bonus of being a set piece master which might come in handy this year.

Marko Grujic was the most expensive new signing with the young Serb finally having enough of not playing in Liverpool. With Pape Cheikh not coming back on loan i needed a really good option to play the Mezzala role that is crucial to our play. I think Grujic can be that man. If he doesn't work out than Yohann Cabaye could be. He is getting on a bit but he still has the legs to get around the pitch and workmanship is one of our top traits as a team.

Nacho Vidal was transfer listed by Valencia and at £500k he should be a minimum risk option at right back. Is he the finished article? No he isn't but for now he should be good enough and there is a good chance i can sell him on in a year or two for a bit of profit. Soualiho Meite was another player transfer listed and i hope Reims can be that place where he rebuilds his career having been stuck in the Monaco reserves last season. Danilson da Cruz and Meite will compete for the ball winner position and with the number of cards we pick up it is definitely worth while having two options there.

It probably goes without saying that loan deals have worked for me and a fourth player joins on loan as i bring in Frenchman Jeff Reine-Adelaide from Arsenal for the season. He is versatile, quick and speaks the language and i have had him on previous FM's where he has done really well for me. So i am hoping i can recreate that. Finally, the last signing was Maxime Le Marchand, who apart from having the most French name possible should be a decent left footed centre back to give us four solid options for the season.

So i am breaking more and more records but all in all it is just a net spend of £750k. Is it enough? Only results will tell.

On the pitch

Pre-season was a mixed bag as we lost to Man Utd and QPR but victories over Bristol City and Sambenedettese were promising. Our first competitive match was against PSG in the Trophee des Champions (French Community Shield). A daunting prospect as we have lost all three games against them previously but runs are there to be broken

It is a 3rd trophy in 3 seasons and another come back. Neymar scored early on but Edouard equalised with a goal against his parent club. Ukrainian Tkachuk looked to had scored the winner with his first goal for the club before PSG equalised with Leon Bailey scoring on his debut. It looked to be going to extra time before Cabaye hit a 20 yarder for a debut goal and another trophy.

Moving on to the league we once again lost the opening game of the season losing to Troyes 2-0 but we have bounced back with victories over Toulouse (4-2) and Saint Etienne (2-0) leaving an early table looking like this

Europa League

We enter the Europa League at the group stages and as i expected we were the 4th seeds having not played in Europe for some time. Our group will consist of Villareal, Rapid Vienna and Young Boys which in my opinion is a group we can qualify from.

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