Welcome back one and all, I finally return to check in with progress at GOAL FC with our popular manager, Yves Lemaire still at the helm. Fourth season and it is time to take Ligue 2 for the first time in GOAL FC’s history.
As stated on our twitter if you follow us (if you don’t get amongst it here), all future episodes of this save will be done in a season review format. This will allow for quicker play time in an attempt to go as far as possible before FM23. Apologies for the prolonged delay with this update, I’m now back in the office for work 3 days a week which can be a bit of a travel so unfortunately my FM time has decreased due to this.
The aim of season four is simple…survival. The club is definitely the weakest in terms of facilities, money, player quality and so on, therefore even if it’s 17th place it will be good enough!
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.
As always before pre-season commences, Chairman/Club Owner Jocelyn Fontanel and Manager Yves Lemaire sit down to discuss team and club improvements. Of course, this takes place at the famed Fontanel’s cafe.
First of all was the transfer and wage budget for the season and it was safe to say Yves finally has some freedom in the market with some healthy numbers to work with. Yves has around £8k spare in the wage budget meaning quality can be brought in.
There was also a few general club improvements in Youth Recruitment, Scouting Range & Coaching Wages.
Lastly, despite all this investment from Mr. Fontanel, Yves had made one request prior to the meeting for a senior affiliate club to help the club with a loan here and there if needed whilst in Ligue 2. RC Lens were the only club available and the link was made with a view of a productive partnership!
Summer Transfer Window 2024/25
Yves needed quality, the focus was the spine but also in attack as well. Some players required moving on too as a lot of the squad Championnat National/National 2 standard, the value just isn’t there.
It was minimal outgoings at this point with former first teamers Thomas Amegnaglo & Diadie Diarra moving on back down the tiers of French football which would better suit their abilities. Young prospect Leo Le Gallo has decided to let his contract run down so he has been loan out until the end of the season which will bring him to his expiry. Two youth prospects also left on loan for their development.
Yves didn’t use all the available budget but was very careful in who was signed. The only downfall was only one French player was signed despite his commitment to homegrown players.
First in the door was central midfielder Javi Fernandez from Cultural Leonesa for £32k. This was to bring more quality and control to this area of the pitch. This was then followed by utility attacker Bas Breukers on a free who had spent some time in England before being released. Breukers will be used mainly as a striker but also other attacking roles.
Left sided centre back Darlan Zulu joins on loan from Belgian side Molenbeek to give some much needed quality at the back. Another defender was brought in, Corentin Cal joins on a free being the only French player to join. Cal will serve as back up to the starters at the back.
The most expensive signing was made from Bastia, winger Adil Taoui joining for a £130k fee. The scouts were raving about him and Yves trusted their judgement by making the signing, although there is pressure on the lad to perform given his ability. Lastly, young Scottish winger Darren Watson was signed on a free from Dundee United late on deadline day.
Pre-Season & Season Preview 2024/25
Squad & Tactics
There is some quality within the squad for sure with better depth, as always some players will play a different role to their favoured position so we’re not short on centre backs as it may seem. As a note during the season Malick Assef, Mathis Dodin & Khalis Madhar were all released on frees as they were no longer needed and no teams came forward to take them off Yves’ hands.
When going into the tactics, Yves kept the 4-2-3-1 formation that has got GOAL FC this far, making subtle changes instruction wise. A 4-4-2 counter tactic was introduced for when the tough teams come knocking!
It was a mixed bag in pre-season for Yves and the team where tests against fellow Ligue 2 sides Stade Reims (0-4) & Niort (1-2) both ended in losses. Avranches (3-0) who were promoted from Championnat National with GOAL FC were toppled though. A couple wins ended off the summer including a win against the famed INF Clairefontaine (4-0) French football academy.
It’s quite clear Yves men are not favoured to stay up in their inaugural Ligue 2 season but things like this bring high motivation to the club.
It will not be the first time they have been counted out before but as seen in last season’s Championnat National league win, this club is capable of the unknown.
In Yves’ mind, survival is all that he want this season, no mid-table or top half. If anything like that does happen, it will be considered as a bonus for the club.
There is some fixtures to look forward to for Yves, as two clubs from his playing career reside in this division in Niort & Chateauroux.
Ligue 2 2024/25
August – December 2024
There has been some good moments for sure which can be focused on such as the impressive wins against Sochaux (3-1), Le Havre (3-0) & Guingamp (1-0). This give Yves the sense that the team can compete in parts of the league and they are all impressive results.
There has been some humbling results where the difference in class has been noticeable with heavy losses to Stade Reims (0-3) & Paris FC (1-4) but at the same time this has be expected every now and then being the team’s first season at this level. Even when runs have gone on without a win, Yves and the team have always found a way out which is another good sign.
Whilst the points gaps are very close in the league, at the end of 2024 GOAL FC reside in mid-table taking up 11th place. The second half of the season is key for survival with 40 points the target for survival, a small win run could go a long way.
Winter Transfer Window 2024/25
A key window for Yves as he looked for smart improvements to drive the team forward. First though in terms of outgoings, there was one first team player who had left the club.
Experienced winger Antione Hoppenot left for £20k to Memphis. After a year at the club, it had not worked out as planned so it was better to part ways. Only other outgoing was a youth player going out on a development loan. Let’s check out the incomings then!
Just before the listed incomings are looked at, there was some other business done before the window. Utility player Filip Frei was brought in on a free during the first half of the season to give more quality in the full back positions.
Then a pre-contract was agreed for ex-Aston Villa youngster Caleb Chukwuemeka who had been playing at Boreham Wood after his release from Villa. Great coup for Yves with some high expectations!
The business didn’t stop there with three more arrivals boosting the team.
Bernardo Marti was signed for £55k from Racing in Spain. The young left winger is already good and has plenty of time to develop. A much needed reinforcement in defence was signed in Alessandro Tozzuolo from lower tier Italian club Aquila Montevarchi (£150K). Lastly, young number 10 Younes Bouiguisse was signed for free and with his talent, will come straight into the first team.
January – May 2025
Second half of the season was a lot better as the team seemed to really settle into the Ligue 2 standard. The signings in January settled well, especially centre back Allesandro Tozzuolo who brought some steadiness to the back four. The four losses were to teams you’d expect but at the same time, Yves’ men showed their potential and more in other matches.
One game to highlight was the 3-2 win over Paris FC, who were promotion contenders. The team produced an amazing comeback after being 2-0 down, thanks to Yves half time acumen.
This may be a sign of positivity for next season with this sort of resilience. Final league table anyone?
A very impressive 8th place from Yves Lemaire and the lads in the club’s first ever Ligue 2 season and as a professional club. Definitely something to build on going into next season.
Coupe de France 2024/25
Four seasons in and the burden of going out in Round Eight is over as the team crash out in the round of 16 to Ligue 1 side Metz (0-1). A spirited performance against Metz but it is also another step forward in the progression of GOAL FC.
Youth Intake 2024/25
I mean it’s not outstanding but it is probably the best intake Yves has had since being at the club. This is the most players that have been signed following a single intake but it still remains to be seen if one of these young players develop into first team level.
End of Season Review 2024/25
There was also a brilliant award for Mr. Lemaire as he scooped Manager of the Season after guiding GOAL FC to an unlikely 8th placed finish!
A couple of further bits of news and Yves was able to persuade the club to put him through his Continental B Licence as he continues his development as a coach.
The club will also be upgrading the youth facilities as Yves has the vision of making the academy a great place for players to develop and reach first team level.
Before I detail what is next, those who follow the series have probably noticed it’s slowed down. This is due to work and some things on a personal level however, I will try my best to get the club into Ligue 1 before FM23.
Apart from that, next season will be based on firstly stability and secondly driving on in Ligue 2 to see if an improvement can be made on the 8th placed finish seen this season. It’s going to be a key summer in terms of the squad to get that continuous improvement.
As always thank you so much for taking the time to read this, I hope you’ve enjoyed and I’ll do my best to be back soon. Take care all!