It is time for Yves Lemaire to get to work and try to implement his ‘5 phase’ philosophy to develop GOAL FC into a French football force. Yves is aware this isn’t going to be easy, especially the first season in Championnat National 2 (fourth tier) but that doesn’t limit his confidence in his managerial skills.
For those who missed the introduction of this project or simply want to revisit it, check it out right here to get you back up to speed.
The ‘5 Phase’ Philosophy
Before Yves decided to come into management, he designed his own philosophy which is based on 5 phases of club progression. His aim was always to start low down in the tiers and GOAL FC will be the club where the philosophy is implemented.
PHASE 1 – Status – This essentially is to get the club to professional status by whatever it takes tactically or financially.
PHASE 2 – Stability – After going professional, this is to bring stability to the club in Ligue 2.
PHASE 3 – Implementation – To identify with an attacking style of play to become more competitive within the league.
PHASE 4 – Control – To win promotion to Ligue 1 using phase 3 and to become established within that league.
PHASE 5 – Dominance – This is the final step, become a title and cup winner, then target European success as well. Become a force within French Football.
These will be tracked and essentially ticked off once complete, it is a step by step process however, Yves aims to complete all of this at GOAL FC and will do whatever takes for it to happen.
The Beginning – Pre-season 2021/22
Meeting the Squad
Yves had already been through the daunting first press conference but it was time for him to meet the squad and outline his intentions.
The players settle into the dressing room, Yves walks in and takes a look around at everyone before setting himself in centre stage of the room. “Hello boys, as you probably know I am Yves Lemaire, former professional footballer. I am here to take this club to new heights and drive us towards my long term target of Ligue 1.”
There looked to be some excitement but a few players were not so sure including centre back Maxence Chapuis.
Yves looks down and smiles…“Chapuis, right? Listen to me, do some research, get on YouTube and search me. I was lighting up Ligue 2 whilst at this point you could only dream of such a standard.” Chapuis backs down and some of the squad smirk but looked reluctant to laugh.
Yves let the squad know he wants promotion, the players were not happy with this at all. Due to the bad reaction, he lowered it to a midtable finish but again Maxence Chapuis had something to say.
Yves immediately turns to Chapuis. “What is your problem here? Miss the old Manager or something? Who cares he’s gone, stop running your mouth and get on with it…that goes for all of you. Now let’s get outside and train, we’ve all spoken more than we should have.”
Yves walks out and slams the door, safe to say this wasn’t how things were meant to start…
A very good pre-season for Yves, although all teams were in tiers below so was it a real test? The main thing is, the team are scoring goals which is key to Lemaire’s attacking vision. However, the competitive season is always different to the summer preparations.
Transfers & The Squad
The squad was basically put together before Yves arrived, a lot of players on one year contracts meaning there was no chance of moving anyone on at this stage. Due to only have £193 p/w in the bank for spare wage budget, there wasn’t much room for anyone new but Yves took things into his own hands as he knew he needed a new winger and playmaker. He knew financially it wasn’t right but sometimes things get worse before they get better in his eyes.
Steeven Ribery arrived on a free transfer and yes that is the younger brother of Franck Ribery. A lower league journeyman but Yves felt he could help the team for at least this season. Then Hamadou Traore arrived, again on a free transfer. A good player for this standard, Yves was happy to award a 2 year deal due to his low wage demands of £110 p/w.
This effectively shaped the squad as no player left, giving some the chance to prove their worth until January at least.
It looked a very good squad on paper to Mr. Lemaire but could they adapt to his tactical plans? Some players will appear in other positions that they are comfortable in such as Sebastien Faure, Quentin Vieira & Maxence Chapuis who will be centre backs this season.
Championnat National 2
Opening 7 games
It was time to get into competitive football and Yves had a bold plan in his head for the season in terms of tactics.
It is all about getting forward and putting constant pressure on the opposition goal, however had Yves gone for this too early without having his own squad in place? He was confident but did that reflect in the results?
Not the start Yves had planned. Losses against teams that GOAL FC should be putting away but there was just a lack of familiarity. The 3-0 loss to Lyon – La Duchere in a derby showed that something had to be changed. With the team sitting 12th, a call from the Chairman came in.
The Board Meeting
Yves saw the Chairman’s name pop up his phone, this was shortly after that unexpected heavy loss. “Hello?” Yves said nervously. “Yves, get to the cafe immediately, we need to talk right now.” The chairman puts the phone down straight away. The cafe, was in the heart of Chasselay and the Chairman often works from here due to it’s peaceful nature.
Yves pulls up outside in his car, he can see the Chairman staring at him through the glass. He walks in, signals for a coffee and sits down. The chairman simply says “What is going on?” Yves takes a breathe before trying to explain himself. “This squad is not mine, they do not suit the tactic.” The chairman assertively states “You know this is your squad for the season, change the tactic, change the training or whatever you need to do, I don’t care. Bring me positive results! To me, the board objective of a top half finish is failed until I see otherwise! Now go.”
Yves downed his hot coffee, burning his mouth in the process but he needed to get out there. Yves went home, ate dinner with his wife and kids before proceeding to his study. Through the night Yves worked on new systems, which players he could rely on and who will fit in to help the team achieve their goals. The main question is, will an improvement be seen?
October – December 2021
Mr. Lemaire still wanted to play positively but had identified some defensive stability was needed. It was a lower sitting formation than the 4-2-2-2 but he needed to do what was right for the club at this point.
Three clean sheets appeared along with a possible seven points out of nine. Beating the reserve side of AS Monaco was a great result and holding Marseille’s second side was a great achievement, considering they had a couple of first teamers like Matteo Guendouzi playing. This was the boost that the team were after.
The team rally up to ninth as they look to continue their recovery and get up the table. Whilst Yves dreams of promotion, he had come to terms that it is too far away.
Three more games were played before the winter break (Cup fixtures fill the gaps which we’ll look at after) but playing the top two in Lyon 2 & Saint-Priest came a step too early as the squad just couldn’t match them on these occasions. However, the 2-0 win over Martigues was timely and welcomed.
GOAL FC and Yves finish off the year in 10th place however, there has been a marked improvement by our passionate manager’s side. A big push will be needed in the new year to have a satisfactory finish.
Coupe de France 2021/22
Yves was set the target of the eight round of the Coupe de France, thankfully he was able to achieve this feat. The team navigated their way through rounds four to seven, having some close calls against teams in lower divisions.
It was a fairytale fixture in round eight though, Yves would be welcoming back a special club from his playing career – Le Mans FC. Yves left Le Mans due to their financial difficulties which saw them kick down the tiers of French football but they now find themselves in the third tier – Championnat National. A spirited performance from GOAL FC but it was a 2-0 loss.
Yves had a tear in his eye as the travelling Le Mans fans chanted his name during periods of the match, the level of respect all round made it an emotional 90 minutes. Yves stated after the match “It was just beautiful from their fans, players and coaching staff, I am forever owing to that club. I hate to lose sure but it’s a beautiful loss, just for that special atmosphere. All the best to Le Mans.”
Financially, the club isn’t in a good place. Really low gate receipts mixed with poor sponsorship and merchandise income has no chance against player and staff wages. Yves can only think what this will do for him in next summer’s transfer window but the board are trying to keep the club stable with a cash injection.
The Captain’s Poor Example
Yves appointed winger Jonathan Mbambu captain upon arrival, seemingly impressed with his leadership and command within pre-season. However, it seems Mbambu has become too comfortable in the role after a string of poor training performances. This has seen the captain dropped from quite a few matchday squads.
Mr. Lemaire has warned Mbambu of the consequences after a series of talks. In Yves eyes, the captain should be setting the example to every player, so this can only go a few ways. Removal as captain, sold in January or ultimately released at the end of the season. Three things Mbambu would want to avoid let alone one of them…will the captain turn it around?
Youth Intake Preview 2021/22
Yves didn’t really speak much with his Head of Youth Development, due to the poor level in the youth squads. However, as he arrived to his office at the stadium one morning, a report was left on his desk. Yves face filled with some happy emotion (that’s a lot more than usual) as he saw what the projection of the future would be. He could only hope it comes true in a few months though…
Yves Lemaire will tackle the second half of the season but can he rally the team up the table for a positive finish? Promotion looks very unlikely sure, but maybe some sort of electric form will claw some success this season.
Thanks to one and all for reading as always, I hope you’ve enjoyed the start of this new narrative project. Take care out there!