Welcome one and all, we are back amongst it with Yves Lemaire and GOAL FC after last season’s title win and promotion to the Championnat National in the French third tier. There is a lot to adapt to however, not a lot of time do it, so if it’s to be a good season the summer period is key.
If you missed out on the season two finale celebrations, check it right here (I know it’s been a little while!).
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 Promotion Press Conference
There was a swell of press interest in GOAL FC after their promotion and as part of modern day management, press conferences were important for the team and club image. Yves Lemaire arrived in his new tracksuit and haircut, clearly embracing their new challenge.
The first question comes in from a local newspaper journalist. “Yves good morning, what a moment for you and the club. How different with this be from the fourth tier?
“For me, there are similarities however, there is a better quality of player in this division which we need to try and match. Whilst a lot of the squad will remain, we need experience and quality for this level.” Yves responded confidently.
The next question came in from a French football magazine editor. “What are your realistic expectations for this season, purely survival?”
“Expectation can be difficult to decide but on my view, we should be nowhere near a relegation fight and able to give teams a tough time. Mid-table may be realistic but we will be good enough to go further.” It’s safe to say Yves has success in the back of his mind for the season.
The last question came from a Sports Journalist for a local news channel. “Yves, surely you must realise that GOAL FC do not have what it takes to stay up? This is a tough league and it’s hard to think your squad will adapt.”
Yves simply smirked towards the Journalist. “Ambition is a funny thing isn’t it? I’m a confident guy and know what I can do with this team but I see what you’re doing. It’s your job to bring good content to your channel but the good content will come from us winning games.”
The press conference ended and Yves left acknowledging the press apart from the Sports Journalist…a new rivalry growing there for Yves?
As at the start of every season, Chairman Jocelyn ‘Jos’ Fontanel and Yves Lemaire sit down and discuss various topics. At the usual place of ‘The Cafe’ the two good friends have a good catch up over breakfast before getting down to business. Jos lays down some budget numbers in front of Yves.
“I’m sorry Yves, it will have to be free signings and loans again this season. Finances took a big hit last season but hopefully we can recover them with the higher gate receipts and some TV money.” Jos sounded quite reluctant when explaining this Yves.
Suprisingly Yves was quite positive. “Success comes with a price sometimes, it’s fine there is plenty of free agents who can play at this level for us within budget. We’re already sorting out some trials and so on. We’ll be fine.” Jos nodded with a smile to acknowledge Yves.
Yves then had a request for Jos…“FC Anney got relegated to our division, we shouldn’t share a division with our senior affiliate it makes no sense.”
Jos pondered the request for a second but quickly saw the logic. “It’s a good point, they don’t pay us any annual fee anyway so let’s knock it on the head with them…just make sure you beat them during the season!” Yves and Jos shared laughter and the decision was made final.
Jos then had a final matter to address. “Yves one more thing, I’m sorry we could only give you a one year contract extension at the end of last season, we just had to be careful financially but I appreciate the wage cut you took, every little helps.”
Yves appreciated the apology and followed up. “I’m just happy I’m still here, don’t worry about just now, let’s just get this team ready for this season and bring some more success where we can.”
Both men shook hands and headed off to their cars with the meeting done. It was positive but now the preparations must start.
Summer Transfer Window 2023/24
There was a good few new signings with no money spent and things were very quiet on the outgoings. As reported last season, striker Yuri Souza’s contract was not going to be renewed so he moved back home to Brazil on a free.
On to the signings and first was young midfield prospect Leo Le Gallo on a free from FC Gueugnon. Le Gallo will train with the first team and play for GOAL FC 2 whilst he gets up to speed with the standard. Next was striker Khelis Mahdar who was a free agent and chose GOAL FC after a host of clubs were after him. This was then followed by another sought after player in creative midfielder, Mathis Dodin who signed on a free.
After it was clear winger Yad Lochereau-Pho would not return on loan, young attacker Yannis Lagha signed for free after his release from Lyon – he will come straight into the side and already looks a very good prospect. Another striker arrived in Necime Bounouar on a free, he had spent a few weeks on trial and impressed Yves throughout pre-season with his goalscoring.
Yves wanted a new right winger after Jonathan Mambu’s release and Arnold Lemb looking unlikely to have the ability for this level, Ronald Balfounta was signed for free from sixth tier AS Miserieux-Trevoux. Yves is more than happy to give players from lower leagues opportunities and he believes Balfounta has the talent for the Championnat National. Lastly, a new defender was brought in – Mathis Louiserre was signed on a free after his release from Lyon. Left footed and can cover full back, this is some useful depth for the squad.
Pre-season Results 2023/24
It was time for the squad to get some games under their belt and for Yves to make any tactical refinements but would it be a successful run of fixtures?
It was all going swimmingly until the last game of pre-season. Prior the the 3-0 loss to St. Etienne 2, the team were on fire and scoring goals as required. To Yves, he felt all that positive momentum was drained as for a second pre-season in a row, the team lost the last game of their preparations.
“Boys?! Why have we done this again this summer? Their Reserves are in the fifth tier for crying out loud! We can’t get complacent like this especially going into this new division. It won’t be easy I tell you.” Yves made his feelings very clear to the team, realigning his high standards with the players.
Championnat National 2023/24
August – September 2023
It was a decent start by all means Yves and the team as they came out of the blocks quite quickly. However, there was some turbulent form in September as they began to settle into the leagues standard. There was no shame in losing to Grenoble (1-2) and Dunkerque (0-1) as both are considered favourites for promotion but at the same time, there were some impressive wins especially over Yves’ former side Le Mans FC (3-1) and Creteil (2-0).
One result caused Yves Lemaire to lose his temper in the dressing room through disbelief of what happened. I present the 3-3 draw with Avranches.
After being 3-0 up and taking that lead in the 74th minute, a late 9 minute implosion from the 86th – 95th minute so GOAL FC give up the three points to share the spoils.
As soon as the final whistle went Yves immediately ordered everyone into the dressing room, he barely even shook hands with the opposing managers he was that angry, cue the carnage of Yves Lemaire…
“WHAT IN THE ABSOLUTE F&%$ WAS THAT?! ARE YOU LOT SERIOUS?! YOU THINK YOU ARE KINGS AT 3-0 UP?! LOOK AT YOU ALL, YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF THIS POINT. THEY ARE 15TH (on matchday) FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!”
Yves took a few breaths and then went again as Captain Edwin Quarshie tried to speak. “Edwin no! I don’t want to hear it. None of you can explain this embarrassment. We may be part time but you are training Monday and Thursday night too, mainly fitness drills so you learn what it takes to go the 90 minutes. Unbelievable.” Yves grabbed his bags and arranged for his own transport back to Chasselay.
Safe to say I don’t think the squad want such an event to happen again, their manager clearly in disbelief with what unfolded in that game. League table check anyone?!
Away from the madness of the Avranches game, it was actually a very good start for the team. Sitting in third place could be seen by some as overachievement but a good start was always key for Yves. The table is very close at this point of course so hopefully things start to settle over the next couple of months, to give a better outlook on things.
October – December 2023
Due to the Coupe de France starting, there was only two league games a month in this period and chance conversion was becoming an issue as the team became inconsistent result wise due to their struggles in front of goal. The loss to Chambly (1-2) was the evidence of that as Yves’ team had 20 shots but their only goal coming from the penalty spot.
To be fair, it was often defender Maxence Chapuis bailing the team out or at least trying to which shows the level of struggles. For another season, strikers seem to be struggling to put the ball away. There is definitely work to be done in the winter break.
The table has changed a lot in the last 6 games with Dunkerque sliding all the way down to 10th, GOAL FC and Grenoble fall out of the top 3 and a very resurgent Avranches rise from the bottom half to second! Maybe that 3-3 draw wasn’t so bad after all…
Coupe de France 2023/24
The eight round was the downfall as usual after a tough draw against St. Etienne who had been relegated to Ligue 2 (much like real life). GOAL FC haven’t made it past this round under Yves management but at the same time it’s always due to a team in a higher division. The board wanted more but at the same time understand the toughness of the draw, although only a 2-1 loss against such a prestigious side is something for the club to be proud of.
It was well into the winter season and Yves had arrived early the Stade Ludovic Guily before training for winter break session planning. As he sat down at his desk, there was an A4 envelope on his desk. Upon opening it, there was a letter from Mr. Fontanel stating that he would like the pleasure of extending his contract early to June 2025. Yves was delighted and signed on the dotted line immediately on the contract paperwork.
After this delightful news, Yves opened up his emails to see that the youth intake projection had come in. The last couple of season’s this hadn’t become reality when the youth candidates come in but with a good intake estimated, he hoped this would be the turning point.
When we return next time, it will be all about how the team finish their first season in the National Championnat. Will Yves and the team do the unthinkable or will their luck run out and starting sliding down the standings?
Thanks for your viewings as always, sorry for the wait on this update too, life can get in the way sometimes. See you next time and take care!