Hello one and all! It’s definitely been a while but I come back a married man to my beautiful wife and this save needs some closure (some would say more importantly). So here we are in the midst on FM23 preparation season.
Even I had to catch up on the last instalment but for those who missed GOAL FC’s first ever season in Ligue 2, check it out here.
Well today it is take two in Ligue 2 as Yves looks to build on last season’s very impressive 8th placed finish. This season it is all about improving on that as the team still strives to the promise land of Ligue 1.
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.
You may argue phase 2 could be ticked off but there is such a thing in football called second season syndrome!
Starting with our all important Manager Yves Lemaire, it has been confirmed he’ll be sticking around a bit longer.
And secondly, a new affiliate club was brought on board in season 2 rivals Andrezieux-Boutheon…how times have changed!
Summer Transfer Window 2025/26
A key summer in terms of getting the team to improve, both sides of the ins and outs were important to Yves.
With the outgoings quite a few former first teamers were moved on as Yves looked to refresh the squad. This included right back Kevin Martin, defenders Maxence Chapuis & Mathis Louiserre and central midfielder Edwin Quarshie all moving on permanently. Two out of the four players named are former captains too, showing Yves wasn’t messing about. The only other first teamer was Hadamou Traore who was loaned out as a permanent new club could not be found.
Two names who don’t appear on the list are striker Abdoul Tapsoba & young winger Jefferson Alvarez who were both snapped up on pre-contracts last season. Alvarez was loaned out for experience later in the window.
Into the window itself, first in the door on a free was Caleb Chukwuemeka. The former Aston Villa prospect had let his contract run down to boost the GOAL FC frontline. Another free signing in Southampton youngster Kegs Chauke who will come in to take care of the battles in central midfield. A new left back was obtained in Baila Diallo for £57k from Clermont, a position that long needed improvement. More midfield depth was brought in, Domingos Andrade was on a free to bring competition in the middle of park.
To boost the attacking areas, Eddy Lukoki came in on loan from RC Lens and what a talent he looks for this level. Ragnar Oratmangoen arrived on a free after a successful trial to boost the creativity options in midfield. It then took until deadline day but a right back was sourced in Joris Moutachy, signing from Sandhausen for £27.5k and will slot into the starting XI immediately. The busy window was tailed off with centre back Ababacar Lo signing on…you guessed it a free! Despite a decent budget Yves was careful with all signings but will they bring what he needs?!
The Squad & Pre-season Results
A lot of movement in the squad this summer so let’s see how it looks for the upcoming season.
Yves has upped the quality in the majority of areas which is key to building on last season’s performance. Whilst it looks likes there is an abundance of left wingers, only Eddy Lukoki & Adil Taoui will play there with the others playing up front or as a number 10 as such.
A very successful pre-season for the team as they looked to build momentum going into this second season with Ligue 2. Of course, opposition may not of always been of the same level however, it was particularly pleasing for Yves to see new players settle into the tactical system.
Ligue 2 Season 2025/26
July – December 2025
It wasn’t a bad opening half to the season as the team made a ferocious start in the first two months of the season, only dropping four points out of a possible 24. September proved tough but the team rallied in October and onwards to get some stability back to the form. It was the kind of start Yves may have been dreaming of but as always, he expects top tier football regardless of squad quality.
GOAL FC find themselves right amongst the promotion battle at this stage with the top 6 being particularly close in terms of points. No team has ran off into the sunset yet so you could say, it is definitely all to play for at this stage.
Winter Transfer Window 2025/26
There was a few first teamers to leave once again as Mr. Lemaire continues to refresh the squad. Centre back Corentin Cal, attacker Ibrahim Diarra and young winger Yannis Lagha are loaned out as they don’t fall within the current squad plans.
In terms of sales experienced defender Arnold Temanfo left on a free to fourth tier side Louhans-Cuiseaux after being deemed surplus to requirements. Then to the surprise of many, tricky winger Adil Taoui returned back home to Algeria for £77k (USM Alger). Taoui’s contract was due for renewal however, he agreed a pre-contract to return back home, Yves then agreed a price for him to move on immediately. Seems some fans were happy to see the back of him though!
A couple of boosts to the squad were needed, one position in a particular was of interest to Yves Lemaire.
In true Yves fashion, both signings were landed on deadline day. In a rare occurrence, a larger fee was spent on a new number 1 goalkeeper. Mor Mbaye signs from Sandefjord (Norway) for £350k who should improve the position overall. Lastly, more depth in defence came in, Tony Shimaga was welcomed for £65k from Nigerian side Akwa Utd. Will it prove to be smart business? Time is about to tell but first…
Youth Intake 2025/26
There’s really not much to say about this intake, the worst out of all five seasons by far as where the club is really lacking in facilities is beginning to show.
There was four players signed from this group which really tells the story and only one of them looks like getting anywhere near first team level.
Ligue 2 – January – May 2026
A near enough perfect run after the turn of the year has the team looking absolutely electric and as you can probably tell from the above, the season doesn’t end in April but something amazing has happened…
GOAL FC ARE OFF TO LIGUE 1!!! YVES LEMAIRE HAS LEAD THEM TO THE PROMISE LAND AFTER 5 SEASONS!!
A massive triumph as the team will go into Ligue 1 for the first time ever next season much to the delight of the board, the fans, the players and ultimately our famed Manager!
In the last four games, the team remained unbeaten for the rest of calendar to finish off what has been an unreal season for the club.
Joining GOAL FC in Ligue 1 will be regular yo-yo club Toulouse however, Caen lost the relegation/promotion play off meaning they will remain in Ligue 2 for at least another season.
Coupe de France 2025/26
A solid cup run saw the team make their way to the round of 16 where they faced off against fellow Ligue 2 rivals Caen. Unfortunately, after going all the way to penalties, it was Caen who prevailed 4-3 on penalties (1-1 AET). Regardless, it was the furthest the club had ever progressed which included an enthralling 2-1 victory over Ligue 1’s St. Etienne in the round of 32!
End of Season Review 2025/26
End of an Era…
You may think this close FM23 I’ll be calling it a day with the save but that is not the case, we all need to see Yves Lemaire in Ligue 1 for a season before calling it a day. However, something major has happened at the club which sent shockwaves around the place…
Legendary owner Joceyln Fontanel has sold the club to no other than former French player Francois Clerc! Clerc was on the board of Directors’ and has taken control before the club enter the big time! A sad time for the club and Yves Lemaire as his good friend Jocelyn Fontanel calls his time at the club, thank you for everything Mr. Chairman.
Monsieur Clerc was very quick to make an impact, firstly announces no investment will be made and then takes out a £15.75 million loan for a new stadium?! The worse thing is it wasn’t even named after Yves Lemaire…crazy times.
I can confirm that this will be the curtain call for the save, I was hoping to get season 6 out but unfortunately due to some last minute work trips, we’ll have to call it a day here. Thoroughly enjoyed this save and don’t worry, Yves Lemaire will be back in the future…
Now that life is settling back down again, when the new game drops I should be more regular blog wise and I will transition back to half season updates. As always, I’m grateful for whoever reads the blogs of mine and the rest of the team here and I can’t wait to bring more to you all in the future. Take care!