Coulibaly and Germann look essential for the season ahead
Oh, and you can thank my cousin SweeperZan for getting rid of the Kingsley body for you. He sweeps away anything, without questioning it - especially since as a baby he was dropped.... in a vat of green goo and only lives for the one function: to sweep.
Cheers for the support from everyone!
First Real Test
It was first v third at the Stade Jean de Mouzon, with just two points separating the two sides. Paris boasted the league's top scorer Nicolas Fauverge and he went close with a volley early on. It was a tough opening ten minutes for us as we struggled to get a foothold. We survived, though and the next ten minutes were a non-event, which certainly suited us. On 26 minutes, we finally gave our somewhat restless fans something to cheer. Jordan Mignot's effort was comfortably gathered by opposing keeper Alexis Thebaux but it was our first shot on goal. Thebaux then seemed determined to turn this game into his own show, as he saved well from Mignot, Mignon and Valero, while Charrier also headed a golden chance over. At the other end, Martin had to be alert to keep out Fauverge. It was scoreless at the break, which came at the wrong time for us.
We continued to look dangerous in the second half, especially from Buaillon's excellent corners. Thebaux continued to make save after save and it looked as though we were going to be left frustrated. However, he could do nothing to prevent Charrier nodding in Sackre Gbohou's cross on 67 minutes and finally we had the breakthrough we deserved! Buaillon's piledriver moments later almost made it 2-0, but of course Thebaux was back on form. Would we regret not taking more chances? Paris looked determined to punish us and they pinned us back for the last fifteen minutes. Fauverge twice tested Martin and twice he was equal to the task. It was a nervy end but we had come out on top against one of our title rivals. I felt we deserved the win overall, but it was not easy viewing. We moved five points clear of them but Colmar beat Avranches to keep in touch. Our next league game was indeed a trip to Colmar for a top of the league clash.
Friday 13th November was a real chance to make a statement of intent to the rest of the league. We were boosted by the return of skipper Loic Guillon after over a month on the sidelines. Just thirteen minutes in, Colmar's captain Fabien Jarsale had his name taken for cynically pulling back Gbohou. He clearly thought Gbohou had made a meal of it, so stupidly shoved him, right under the nose of the referee. He had no choice but to show Jarsale a second yellow and send him for an early bath. The home fans jeered but there was no injustice. That should have been the signal for us to put the hosts under the cosh and really test their defence. Instead, we retreated into our shell and let them take the initiative. Belvito had a headed opportunity for them just before the break but it flashed comfortably wide. We had not created any sort of chance, which was unacceptable when playing against ten men. A fair few teacups were broken in our dressing room at half time.
Would the players heed my warning? No, instead they got even worse! Colmar started really brightly and Hennion almost gave them the lead, but he was denied by the ever-reliable Anthony Martin. The reprieve was only temporary, as Henry Gbize headed in from the resulting corner. The ten men continued to dominate and just past the hour mark, Sebastier Chere doubled our misery with an excellent free kick. 2-0 down against ten men and we had still yet to threaten. Colmar may have had a 100% home record, but the manner of this performance was embarrassing. Anything Chere could do, Guillon could replicate with a wonderful free kick of his own. Twenty minutes left and we had a lifeline that we really didn't deserve. The closest we came to an equaliser was when Mignon headed over the bar with ten minutes left but if anything, Colmar looked more likely to increase their advantage. A tame defeat knocked us off the top of the table at the expense of our opponents. I was furious with the team and I demanded a huge improvement for our next league game at home to Boulogne.
Any frustrations I had paled into complete insignificance after the horrific attacks in Paris on that same evening. We paid our respects before the Boulogne game. Recent away performances had been shakey but our home form had been excellent all season. That was until this game, where we put in a flat performance (but not as bad as the previous one). We went down by three goals to one against a side firmly in the bottom half of the table. The only bright spot was another brilliant free kick by Guillon, which briefly gave us hope of a fightback.
There was better news in the French Cup as we recorded back to back 1-0 away wins either side of the two successive league defeats. First, centre back Arnaud Farras turned out to be the unlikely hero as he scored the winner away to another National League side, Bourg-Peronnas. It was a close game that could have gone either way. On to the next round, and just the 184 teams to pull out of the hat! The draw finished just in time for us to be able to fulfil the fixture three weeks later. On paper, it looked like a banker as we were to visit lower league FC Challans but we made it difficult for ourselves. Again, we lacked creativity and it took us 76 minutes to break through. Pierre Germann's curling effort spared our blushes but I was becoming increasingly unhappy with our performances. Most alarming was how chances had suddenly dried up and it could not continue if we were to get our promotion campaign back on track.
We lost both left backs Coulibaly and Terriere (the latter of whom had recently joined us permanently for £30k after initially being on loan) to injury, so this prompted the change to three at the back for our game at Frejus. Gbohou expertly bamboozled his way past the home defence on 23 minutes and slotted the ball past the goalkeeper to hand us the lead. I sensed the swagger we were playing with at the start of the season was back but there was a setback when Frejus equalised before half time. Gbohou restored our lead in the 51st minute with a superb 25 yard strike and Mohamed Larby sealed the victory. This had all the makings of a tricky game after our recent wobble, but we passed the test with flying colours. The performance was excellent and I hoped to push on from there. Next, we welcomed second from bottom Belfort to the Stade Jean de Mouzon. After an incredible first half, we went into the break 5-1 ahead, after another Gbohou brace. In true Championship Manager style, we were unable to add to the scoreline in the second half and in fact it was Belfort who found a second consolation goal. Their goals stemmed from their only two efforts on target (another thing true to Championship Manager traditions). This demolition propelled us back to the league summit after Colmar's fixture against Sedan was postponed.
Just two games to go before the winter break: One in the league and one in the cup. Our final league game of 2015 would take us to Bourg-Peronnas, just a few weeks after knocking them out of the cup. Our opponents had tried to sign Ahmed Mogni (on loan to us from Paris FC) just before the game and he accepted, only to be denied by the fact that they were only allowed to sign one player in this window. However, the real pre-match story would be their new gaffer's unveiling on his home debut.
What he was doing here when he could so easily have held out for a much bigger job, I have no idea. After being introduced to a rapturous reception, there was a football match to play. Nothing much happened until Ajorque got on the end of Buaillon's excellent cross to slide in the opening goal on 41 minutes. We remained in control after the break and Germann found space in the area, before doubling our lead midway through the second half. Julien Valero's exquisite volley sealed an emphatic away victory to ruin Zizou's homecoming. After the final whistle, I was understandably ecstatic and we all headed in the direction of our travelling fans. Zidane took exception to our perfectly acceptable celebrations and we engaged in a heated conversation. Whatever I said, it did not end well and I really should have known better.
After reviving league fortunes, 2015 ended on a real downer for us, as another lower league side, Toulon Le Las ended our cup participation for the season. It's all on promotion now and we're in an excellent position to achieve. Incredibly, we have yet to draw a game this season! We can be really upbeat as we head into the new year, determined to finish the job.
Meanwhile in Brazil...
The league season has come to an end. The top four were Cruzeiro, Avai, Santos and Vasco. The top four go into a playoff at the end of the season to decide the champions and I was hoping that Avai would fail, or else that would be another team inelligible for this challenge. The other three have won the league before. Avai faced Santos and won the home leg 3-1, only to gett battered 5-1 in the return leg. My wish was granted and it didn't really matter to me who won from here. It was Vasco who won their fifth Brazilian championship, by defeating Cruzeiro 3-0 on aggregate, followed by Santos 4-2 over two legs.
The Business End
2015 ended with the disappointing news that key midfielder Charly Charrier would be leaving us at the end of the season. His contract had entered its final six months and he rejected our offer of a new one. Guingamp took advantage and the lure of top flight football was clearly too much for him to refuse. Hopefully he could drive us to promotion as a parting gift.
Our first match of the new year saw us host Epinal and it took substitute Mohamed Larby's piledriver to steal the points. Our trip to promotion rivals Strasbourg was a huge disappointment, as we went down 2-0 and never looked like emerging with a positive result. Another 1-0 home win followed, this time against Chambly, before we somehow lost to Beziers despite dominating the game for long periods.
Amiens were on the fringes of the promotion places and it was vital that we got a positive result. Charrier and Germann sealed another valuable home victory and we widened the gap on the visitors. In our next game, my 30th as Lucon gaffer, the unthinkable happened. We finally drew a game! It was an utterly dour affair, with Chateauroux being slightly less shit than we were, but neither side could say they deserved to win it. Les Herbiers were struggling badly and many pundits saw their visit as a home banker for us. However, we endured a difficult first half as we struggled to break them down and after half an hour, things got worse. The visitors breached our offside trap and Ludovic Ajorque pulled back their striker. He was the last man and the referee had no choice but to produce the red card, which was our first of the season. In a reorganisation effort, I brought on Germann just before the break. After the restart, we were a different team and the substitute bagged a hat-trick. I only dropped him because his morale was down but it was back to being sky high after this result.
Germann was reinstated to the starting line up for our trip to basement club Avranches and he scored twice more. We did not make life easy for ourselves, as it took until the 81st minute for Jordan Mignot to make the game safe in a 3-1 win. Dunkerque away was a tough game. They were chasing promotion but we took the lead, before quickly relinquishing it. The hosts took the lead before the break, before Jason Buaillon rescued a draw half way through the second half. It was definitely a point gained as it denied them the chance to make up any ground on us.
Our home form showed no sign of letting up as we put four past Consolat Marseille, before we travelled to Sedan. Germann scored his ninth goal in five games which helped us to a 3-1 victory, which was the same score that we managed against CA Bastia a week later. We stand on the brink of promotion, while Colmar's indifferent form means that the title is now a two horse race. Next up is the trip to Paris in what many pundits have billed as the title decider. It's a bit early for that, but the outcome could go a long way to determining the winner.
Enough points for an advantage, but it's how you add to this that matters.
best attack and best defense. It could be an advantage for you
Paris game will only be a decider if you win. It wouldn't decide anything if Paris win.
The artist formally known as The Eejit
Paris will have to go on a hell of a run to stop you.
Could have this tied up very soon.
in an incredible position
Zizou manager of Bourg-Peronnas! Nice way to welcome him to the National League with a debut 3-0 home defeat, worth the headbutt I bet
Between you and Paris FC for the title now, but with your superior attack I fancy you to do the business
The Crunch Match!
Saturday 16th April 2016 was a potentially historic day for Vendee Lucon Football. Never in their 92-year history had they graced France's second tier but a victory in Paris would make dreams a reality. A draw would be enough for promotion if either Strasbourg or Dunkerque failed to win, while we would still be mathematically assured of promotion if two from Strasbourg, Dunkerque and Amiens failed to do their business. Amiens travelled to lowly Belfort, Strasbourg were at mid-table Epinal, while Dunkerque had a tough assignment at home to Sedan. While it would be nice to seal promotion in Paris, we knew it was a formality, so it was all about the title now. Paris FC were unbeaten on their own turf all season and a victory for them would give them an opportunity to draw level on points by winning their game in hand. A draw would definitely do for me, even if it meant having to wait for confirmation of our promotion.
Undefeated in eight games, we maintained our usual 3-5-2 formation and would have a go at the hosts whenever possible. It was the only way we knew. A partizan crowd of almost 3,000 jeered every touch by a Lucon player. Within two minutes, we were on the attack. Jeremy Messiba made a foray forward from centre half and dinked a lovely ball over the top of the Paris defence. Our in-form striker Pierre Germann ghosted in behind a statuesque home defence and headed us into a dream start! Just 88 minutes to hang on!
Paris had been wounded but their fans urged them on, knowing that they had plenty of time to make amends. They kicked off and we quickly won the ball back. Ajorque played a one-two with Messiba and the former headed the ball on to Germann. Our goal scorer found Jason Buaillon with a lovely flick. Buaillon expertly spotted the run of Jordan Mignon and played a lovely ball to him and Mignon slotted the ball past the advancing Alexis Thebaux. Unbelievably, we led 2-0 with less than three minutes played! There was plenty of arguing among the home players as they could not believe what was happening. They had to come at us now and they did. Within ten minutes, they almost pulled one back when Mouritala Ogunbiyi found space on the edge of the area but his low drive came back off the post. We lost Adama Coulibaly to a stubbed toe, so he was replaced by Quentin Lecoeuche. Their dangerous striker Nicolas Fauvergue went close with a header but he failed to trouble Anthony Martin. Buaillon also survived a penalty appeal after half an hour when Paris alleged that he unfairly tackled Ogunbiyi in the box. You could sense the frustration building all around the stadium and having weathered a mini storm, we looked determined to increase it. On 39 minutes, Buaillon released Adam Chicksen down the right. His cross was inch perfect and our Paris saint Germann met it with aplomb, to give us a seemingly unassailable advantage! Surely things could not get any better. Well, on the stroke of half time, Germann's cross found Mignon and his powerful header was palmed away by Thebaux. Unfortunately for him, he could only divert it back to Mignon and he was not going to refuse the second invitation. 4-0 at half time at the home of our title rivals! Players and fans alike looked shell shocked. They had arrived with a real expectancy, sensing an opportunity to claw the leaders back and blow the title race wide open, but they had been blown apart thanks to a combination of quick incisive Lucon football and their own incompetence at the back.
The result would of course mean promotion and there was no need to worry about scores elsewhere, barring an almighty cock up. This would hopefully not develop into Newcastle v Arsenal in 2011. Ten minutes into the half, Tiecoro Keita used his trickery to get past a couple of Lucon defenders and Martin had to be alert to keep his clean sheet in tact. This was something for the Paris fans (or at least those who had bothered to stay for this long) to cheer, as they had finally registered their first effort on target. It would prove to be their only one as well. We were very professional in our defending, as we mostly restricted them to efforts from outside the box. In terms of our own attacking play, we offered very little in the second half but there was no need. We had done our job in the first half and we could celebrate with our travelling fans at the final whistle. Vendee Lucon Football were in the second tier for the first time in their history!
Promotion rarely looked in serious doubt this season but to achieve mathmatical confirmation with five games left is a fantastic effort. Other results on the day meant that it would have been achieved regardless of our own result but what better way to do it than by thrashing your title rivals in their own back yard? Now, we must aim to top it all off by making sure we are promoted as champions. Colmar, who happen to be our next opponents, are now surely out of it after they were held to a shock draw at home to bottom club Avranches. They are still in a strong position to go up with us, while there is quite a race developing for the final promotion spot. Take your pick from Strasbourg to Chateauroux.
What a result! Promotion secured and the title isn't far away now.
Great result! Is it a 38-game season?
Finishing The Job
Preparations for the 2016/17 season could begin but we still had five games to play ourselves and of course the title to aim for. Morale in the camp was understandably high but I warned against any complacency. I did not expect Paris FC to surrender so easily. Colmar's form may have dipped since the turn of the year, but they were still on course for promotion and would no doubt provide a stern test. The only change to the demolition job in Paris was understandably a forced one, with Terriere replacing the injured Coulibaly. We emerged to a huge reception from our fans, who had been instrumental in establishing the Stade Jean de Mouzon as the most dreaded ground to visit in the league, with fifteen out of sixteen wins so far this season. The first half was tense and devoid of any real quality. After the break, we stepped it up and Buaillon connected with Ajorque's superb pass to put us on course for home win number sixteen. Charrier and Chicksen were also involved in the goal that epitomised some of our football this season. Six minutes later, Chicksen got in on the act himself with a thunderous strike to double our lead. It was his first goal for the club and his performances have improved since I moved him into midfield. Colmar rallied and pulled one back in injury time, but it was not enough and we held on to move a step closer to the title. Paris were given a game by Consolat Marseille but a solitary goal early in the second half was enough to keep the gap at nine points with a game in hand.
The game in hand would be played just four days later and they would host mid-table Frejus. The visitors shocked them with an early goal, before Jose Mourinho lent them his bus. Paris had fifteen efforts on goal but only four on target. Frejus keeper Johan Lapeyre repelled all four of them and Paris's title prospects were all but over. We would need just four more points from as many games to be crowned champions, while three should be enough thanks to our far superior goal difference.
Our next fixture was certainly not an easy one. Boulogne were the only blot on our home record this season – a 3-1 defeat during our most testing phase – and playing a promotion-chasing side away from home would add to the challenge. It was an open game with chances at both ends. On the stroke of half time, Mathieu Chemin headed in a Buaillon corner and we were tantalisingly close to glory. Boulogne continued to probe after the break but we looked like holding them off. In the 90th minute, tempers flared. Karim Achahbar and home defender Eric Vandenabeele were involved in a scuffle and both pushed the other. The referee was clearly influenced by the home crowd, as Achahbar was sent off and Vandenabeele escaped with just a yellow. Moments later, Gregory Thil volleyed in an equaliser for the hosts. I was furious with the referee as I felt he had cost us the victory. Paris thrashed Sedan 4-0, so the champagne would remain on ice for now. The silver lining is that we would have the chance to seal the title in front of our own supporters against Frejus.
The match was one-way traffic from the outset but Frejus goalkeeper Lapeyre had recently kept a clean sheet at the home of Paris FC and he was determined to repeat the feat against the champions elect. Coulibaly and Ajorque were both denied early on, while Mignon also went close. The breakthrough arrived on 24 minutes when Mignon slotted in Chicksen's low cross and we were on our way! It was only a temporary blip for Lapeyre as five minutes later, he made a sensation double save from Mignon's volley and Buaillon's follow up. The closest Frejus came in the first half was when Abdoul Sylla headed over. We went into the break just one goal to the good when we really should have been out of sight. CA Bastia v Paris FC was goalless and if it stayed that way, a draw would be good enough for us.
Like the first half, it was wave after wave of Lucon attacks after the restart. First to test Lapeyre was Chicksen and of course, he was in defiant mood. Moments later, news filtered through that Paris had taken the lead against Bastia. We just had to focus on our own job. Sackre Gbohou was the next to try his luck but of course Lapeyre kept Frejus in the game. The visitors came close when Samir Benmeziane's fierce effort was punched away. Despite our dominance, this was a reminder that they were still in the game and that they had more of a foothold than they did in the first half. Loic Guillon sent a free kick over the bar as the tension became more palpable by the second. Our next attack saw Ajorque find Mignon in the area. He had no room to manoeuvre, so he spread the play out wide to Charrier. His cross was inch perfect for Germann, who planted his header firmly past the keeper. 2-0 up and just thirteen minutes left, we could surely celebrate! We crowned the historic day in style as Chicksen smashed in a third in stoppage time. It was the final action before the referee blew his whistle. A mass pitch invasion followed. Lucon were champions with two games to spare!
We could look forward to the presentation of the club's first trophy after we'd completed our league programme. It was job done, so I could afford to experiment with tactics. We had played with a front two all season but I thought it was worth a change to playing Mignon up front with Germann just behind him. We had a good fixture to test this with as we travelled to relegated Belfort. The new system yielded plenty of chances but Germann had a quiet day by his own standards. Gbohou scored an unlikely brace, while Mignon, Chemin and youngster Nathan Bulteau were also on the scoresheet. Unfortunately, we also managed to concede three times against the side propping up the rest of the division and our excellent keeper Anthony Martin was sent off after conceding a penalty. He was given a one match ban, which was later extended to two. He will miss the day of celebration against Orleans and Lucon's first ever game in the second tier.
My first game was also against Orleans, which resulted in a 2-0 victory for us. In France, it seems to be a tradition that you start and finish your league season against the same opponents. The first game seems like a very long time ago now. We wanted to finish on a high but the real attraction would be lifting the National Division trophy once the football was over. It was to be a day that we could enjoy. For the visitors, it was anything but. At the start of the day, they occupied the final relegation place and required at least a draw to stand any chance of survival. They certainly caused our defence some problems and it was not one of our most dominant home displays this season. However, our attack was too much for them to handle, with Germann, Charrier and Ajorque all finding the net in the opening half hour. Charrier was making his final appearance for Lucon before moving on and as he had been such a key player for us, I decided to make him captain for the day. Orleans still refused to give up and they pulled a goal back shortly after the break. They kept going until the end but the damage had been done. A draw would have kept them in the league but it was despair for them and joy for us as we lifted the trophy. The contrast in emotions of the two teams could not have been greater. Their gaffer was sacked shortly after relegation was confirmed.
We ended the season nine points clear of Paris FC and 22 clear of fifth-placed Amiens. With by far the best attack, the second best defence, most victories and fewest defeats, there was no denying that we were worthy champions. We did not lose any of our final fourteen matches, which shows that the pressure at the business end of the season only motivated us. There were a few wobbles in the middle of the season but apart from that, we were strong throughout. Zinedine Zidane also worked his magic following his shock appointment by Bourg-Peronnas. They were in real danger of relegation when he arrived but with just one defeat in their final fifteen, he guided them to a credible twelfth position, although still only seven points clear of the drop zone. Luckily they will not be going up with us, so I won't have to risk another headbutt incident next season, unless Alan Pardew makes a shock move to Ligue 2.
It was never in doubt.
As you said, when it came to the important games, your boys did their jobs. The only question that remains to be answered is "Who will be the Lucon manager for the start of the Ligue 2 campaign ?"
The artist formally known as The Eejit
Congrats on the title mate, was just a matter of when not if after that result against Paris FC.
How do you think the squad will cope in Ligue 2? Many changes needed?
Have a soft spot for Amiens as I did some work out in France there and St Omer so disappointed they didn't make it with you.
Bigger challenges ahead!
Hell of a first season, well done
2015/16 Season Review
Martin, Chicksen, Charrier and Germann were all named in team of the year, while Buaillon and Mignon were on the bench.
There were obviously plenty but it's hard to look past the drubbing of Paris FC in their own back yard. This not only sealed the promotion that looked inevitable from the start of the season, but put distance between us and our nearest title challengers. The 3-0 home win against Frejus sealed it and it was special to do so in front of our own supporters. Giving Zizou (Bourg-Peronnas manager) a home debut from hell was also special, as were both games against Sedan.
Most of the poor matches came around the middle of the season. Away defeats against CA Bastia and Colmar were both very tame and losing at home to Boulogne was our only blot on an otherwise flawless home record.
Two divisions above us, Paris Saint-Zlatan stormed to their fourth consecutive title with an incredible 90 points from just 34 fixtures, 22 ahead of nearest challengers Saint-Etienne. The title races in most other top European leagues weren't much more exciting. Leicester may have won the Premier League in real life, but they could only manage a 16th place finish in the virtual world, just four points clear of relegation. Chelsea won the league by 15 points. Juventus topped Serie A by the same margin and Bayern finished a massive 26 points clear of Wolfsburg. The La Liga title race went to the final day and it was between the usual suspects. Real Madrid thrashed Celta Vigo 4-0 ath the Bernabeu to secure their first title in four years. All of these teams had of course been champions of their countries before, so there are no new teams that I am forbidden to manage in this story... yet.
Must be some jobs up the ladder appearing in the summer. Going to be tough to topple "PSZ" for the French league, so perhaps biding your time might be a better option
The artist formally known as The Eejit
I have actually applied for a few jobs already, but have been rejected every time. I'm not too disappointed, as I'm enjoying the challenge with Lucon.
immense detail here....good work
Awesome work as usual CMA!
Belated congrats on becoming winners
Let's see what the future has in store for manager and co.
Tho, remember the services of Zan Corp. and ALL of its subsidiaries are available for a cost.
We've got all kinds of shit available!
So don't flush, fish!